Friday, December 28, 2012

My Resolutions For 2013

There won't be any pics in this post. If you scroll through on your Google Reader or Blog Reader only stopping for the pics then you're going to miss this one.

I've been giving resolutions a lot of thought. Every year people make these big resolutions and by the middle of January they are all broken. But what if you resolve to do something all year instead of just something you start January 1st? What if you break down the different areas where you merely want to do something different and take some time to implement those changes?

I have a few areas of things I want to work on making better or different in 2013.

1. I will be a better blogger. I need to make more time to post more often and bring more content to the site.
2. I will work on learning a little more HTML to spice things up.
3. I will eventually host sponsors and giveaways so that more people can meet the people I admire.
1. I will do less custom work and more ready to ship items.
2. I will work on more of the creative projects that are floating around in my head and my notebook.
3. I will try harder to only work on one project at a time instead of three dozen.
4. I will bring a more diverse range of products that aren't just purses. I am working on dolls, more home decor, quilted items and children's items!
5. I will stop using Etsy and paying their fees. Right now I have high views on my advertised shop at Storenvy but more sales on my Etsy shop. I would like to find out what it is that makes more people at Etsy buy instead of browse like at Storenvy.
1. I will work on finding a better balance of my time between creating and my family.
2. I will work on making time to take care of myself.
3. I will work on using up more of my monumental fabric stash and trying not to add to it.
4. I will learn new things and skills.
5. I will use my planner and told available to me to help better manage my time.
6. I will try to be more social. This will be VERY hard for me. I am not a social person and I get nervous when I have to leave the house.
7. I will take some classes for new skills and attend the Quilt Guild to help meet people who share my interests.
These are all easier said than done and are definitely NOT things that need or can be done all starting January 1. These are things I can work on during the entire year.

Let's face it, we aren't going to wake up on Tuesday, jump into our workout clothes, go the gym and that will stick for the rest of our lives. We're not going to lose all of that weight by Spring or Summer. We're not going to suddenly make a 180 degree readjustment of our lives in the next 4 days. We're not going to change from the time we ring in the New Year to time we wake up the next morning. And don't say you will, but you're starting January 2, or the following Monday. It won't happen. It may be motivation to help us make changes but we need to do them gradually. These things don't happen overnight. We didn't become the way we are overnight and we need to all realize and accept that we can't change overnight. Baby steps. Work on things throughout the year.

I think this is a much more realistic plan than jumping head first into a complete life-altering change that will likely fail. The odds are against you when you do that. That's why they make movies about people it works for. It gives us hope, but what we don't see is that in reality it took a long time for things to happen to those people on the screen. But that movie would be slow, long and boring and no one would watch it.

We've become products of our instant gratification society. Thanks to big businesses like Wal-Mart, stores are open just about anytime we want to leave the house. Have an uncontrollable urge to buy pop-tarts and yoga pants at got it! This is bad. Bad. Bad. We need to stop thinking we deserve it now and learn to be patient. Starting a handmade business and appreciating and buying the handmade items of others has started to teach me that there is quality and beauty in waiting for something to be made and arrive. That it's not an inconvenience to wait. That you don't need an overstuffed refrigerator of food just in case you want something at 2am. Most of that gets thrown out anyway because we never eat it. I am learning to have a new appreciation for things and how to have patience. It's not easy but I think it's important.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dolls and Daydreams Wednesday Addams Pattern Review

I want to start by saying welcome to all of the new readers! Whether you found me from a link, or a giveaway or randomness thank you for following. One of my resolutions is to blog more so I hope to start bringing more content to all of you.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! Did Santa bring you what you wanted? Did you at least get a good gift card so you can get it yourself? Hubs was sweet enough to get me a Joann's gift card and my Mom sent me a gift certificate to Urban Threads. It was a very Crafty Christmas.

I also took a couple of days off because I really needed them. I am down to a few custom orders and while I was waiting for fabric to arrive I took advantage of the time to enjoy the hoiday. I didn't go into my studio for two days. It kind of killed me but at the same time it was a nice break. I don't often take the time to sit on the couch and watch TV or flip through magazines or books anymore. It was a good change of pace. They were quilting books and craft magazines but it was nice to finally read them. Although it gave me dozens of other ideas of things I want to work on.

I did spend Christmas Eve making something I wanted to work on and not something I had to work on. Some of you may have seen pics on my Facebook, Instagram or Twitter feeds. If you didn't, you're in luck! Here they come!

I found an adorable pattern from Dolls and Daydreams for a Wednesday Addams doll. And I had to make it! I actually had all of the fabrics I needed here in the house to work up a sample. Including a black and white striped t-shirt for her tights. This is going to be the problem fabric in the future. I've been searching around online and in all of my local shops and I can't find anything like it. I'm going to check some of the thrift stores next. If anyone knows where I can get fabric like this please let me know. I'm also going to try a fabric pen and white cotton to see how it looks if I make my own.

I've never made a doll before so I wasn't too sure about the construction. I found the pattern easy to follow. The mistakes I made in the pattern were only because I didn't follow it exactly. I was able to download a digital pattern from the Dolls and Daydreams website. As a guess I would say Sarah has about 60 patterns, maybe more. The pattern was a PDF and had 29 pages full of instructions and color pictures. I typically only print out pattern pieces to save paper and follow the pattern from a netbook I have in my studio.

The pattern was well put together and after making the doll I can say that it flowed nicely. She rated this pattern on her site as Easy and stated that some very basic beginners sewing skills were required. I would agree with this but there are some curves in the sewing that some beginners might not be comfortable with. There are a lot of tips in the pattern and even more on Sarah's blog.

There were several suggestions on making the dolls face from painting, machine stitich and hand embroidery. Hand embroidery seemed to be the recommended method. I, however, uploaded the doll's face into my embroidery digitizing program and created an embroidery file for her face. It was easy for me to do and came out really adorable!

I decided to cut out multiple pieces in case I (1) messed up and (2) wanted to try another sample. If you've never made a doll before I will tell you this - they have A LOT of pieces. By A LOT I mean....A LOT! And I did it 4x. This wasn't a smart use of my time. Next time....cut one, sew one. I don't often make a mistake that I can't pick the stitches out of and fix but I worry and I like a good finished product.

Mistake number one was braiding and sewing her hair too soon. You'll see why at the end.

Mistake number two was overstuffing her arms and legs. Why? Well the problem wasn't that her arms stuck out at the end, which they did....they problem was that when she was inside out there was very little room to manipulate her limbs so that I could sew a proper seam. I actually liked the finished look of the limbs but if I keep doing them that way then I will need to make the body slightly larger and move the flipping/stuffing seam to another part of the body. As it is on the pattern it is on the side of the body under one arm. It was also pretty hard to turn her right-side-out with fat arms and legs.

Here she is all folded up just before I put the back on and attempted to attach it.

And here she is all finished and stuffed!

At this point it was about 3am on Christmas morning and I was sleepy. So as I was sewing the ladder stitch to close her up I realized I forgot to snip the curves on her head. That's why it looks all lumpy and rippled at the top. Let that be a lesson to anyone who thinks snipping curves isn't important! (FYI- did you just say "Whats a ladder stitch?" Sarah teaches you in a tutorial on her blog!)
Tip: I use pinking shears to snip my curves. It goes much faster than doing each one by hand and it's easier for me to control my distance from the seam.

Now you can see what I was mentioned about her hair. Because I braided and stitched her hair first I had no control over the braids after she was put together so they stick out Pippi Longstocking style. Still cute but not Wednesday.

I am going to make a couple of changes in the future. I am switching a few of the materials. I used craft felt for her hair because that's what I had on hand and it definitely needs to be wool felt. Even for a piece that won't be played with it just isn't durable. And it sheds a lot. I think my lungs might be coated in acrylic felt. I did pick up some wool felt at my local quilt shop. Sarah's pattern does recommend wool felt.

I interfaced the cotton pieces with SF101 and that just wasn't necessary. I think it does need an interfacing but SF101 made it a little stiffer than I liked. I am going to use my favorite alternate Pellon 987F. The slight loft of it will help the fabric move in more of a floppy doll way. The SF101 on her face just made it very tight and when I was stuffing she started to look like she'd been going to Joan Rivers plastic surgeon.

As you can see from the pattern, I did not use plastic buttons on her dress. Why? They seemed to harden up the look. I went with felt pieces and I liked the look of them better. I also think it makes it a little more kid friendly.

And since it was 3am I didn't sew her shoes but they are a very simple construction and I am not concerned with them being a problem.

Overall, I really loved working with the pattern from Dolls and Daydreams. They are a little pricey for a pattern at $12.99. Even for purses I don't typically spend more than $10 for a PDF pattern. But she was just so adorable I couldn't pass it up. And one I started making it and saw there were step-by-step pictures and fool proof (but not for me) instructions I was okay with the price. A lot of hard work went into making pattern that anyone can use and it shows. Had I read through the entre pattern first, followed all of her instructions and taken her fabric suggestions into account I feel I would have had zero problems.

Will I be buying more Dolls and Daydreams patterns? Absolutely. I just counted up my list that I made the other day and there are at least 17 other patterns of hers I want to make.

I hope to have some Wednesday Addams dolls for you all in the shop by mid-January! I want to try another sample before I list anything.

Monday, December 17, 2012

December Giveaway at Kaitlin Leigh!

When you advertise on other blogs you get certain benefits. One of these is getting to know other people in addition to traffic to your site. Kaitlin Leigh is hosting her very first giveaway on her blog and has asked all of her advertising sponsors to join in! Moi included!

What can you win? Check out the info from Kaitlin Leigh below! There's even a gift certificate to a certain shop from Yours Truly! You can enter from my page and good luck!!!

I'm so excited to announce MY VERY FIRST GIVEAWAY!!
These lovely ladies below teamed up with me to give you one AMAZING giveaway!
(Which could not have had better timing since it's the Holiday season.)

Check out the list below to see what each blogger is giving away!

1. Kaitlin from Kaitlin Leigh - A Starbucks Glitter Tumbler
2. Brandi from Brooklyn State of Mind- $15 Target gift card & a Holiday Glam Surprise
3. Melissa from Grin & Barrett- $25 Starbucks gift card
4. Meg from You're Meaghan Me Crazy- Crocheted Infinity Scarf
5. Haley Brianna from The Ink & Anchor- Ad Space
6. Crystal Taylor from Billie Jean- $15 Anthropologie gift card
7. Kelsey E. from Stories of Kel- 1 Premiere Ad Space
8. PipLey Vintage- 30% off all store items include sale items
9. Stephanie from The Vintage Modern Wife- ELF Eyeshadow Palette
10. Kelsey G. from Beauty without Limits- 1 Month Ad Space
11. Amy from Not Your Average Baby Blog- 1 Month Ad Space
12. Abbey from The Makings of a Mess- Ad Space
13. Brittany from The Domestic Geek- Ad Space
14. Jessica from Sew Do Something- $20 Gift Certificate to her shop
15. Lisette from Northern Belle Diaries- 2 Month Ad Space
16. Sarah from Scissors and a Whisk- Frost Bitten, Twice Shy Nail polish Set

Good Luck!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Don't Be Afraid To Try Something New

I've never ben one of those people that was afraid of hair color. I started dying my hair sometime around 10th grade. That would have been about 1992, I think. It was less of an experimental teenage thing and more of an, "OMG my hair is already turning white" kind of thing. It was just a few strands here and there but when you have reddish colored hair a white strand will stand out like a sore thumb. So I started dying my hair.

Not knowing anything about hair color I just used whatever color I thought I might want to try. Reds, unfortunate blondes, brunettes and there was even a black hair phase. At different times I have had pink, blue, purple and once a really ashy shade of lilac that had old lady written all over it. It's been short, long, wavy, curly, middle parted, side parted, pony tailed, pig tailed and braided more times than I can count. Often people would see pictures of me and say you never look the same twice.

It was fun. Sometimes it was very damaging. I used to bleach my hair so much and so badly that it was gummy and stringy when it was wet. I was about two more bleach outs from being bald.

For your amusement I have included some different pics however fortunate and unfortunate they may be. I apologize in advance for the quality and size of some of them. Digital photo technology wasn't always as good as it is now.

Over the years I have had my hair done professionally as well as doing it myself. Box color is bad for your hair. Period. But some, in my opinion, are better than others. I would always recommend if you can afford it to have your hair dyed professionally but if you can't, get a good box color. While Miss Clairol gets the job done, I have found it to be very drying on my hair. It doesn't shine and it fries my ends. Garnier Nutrisse just doesn't take in my hair. I have spots of color and it usually fades very quickly. I could go on and on. You also need to get a good shampoo and conditioner when you have colored hair. Preferably something sulfate free for color treated hair. This will help your hair from fading too quickly and help it retain its shine.

I also recommend It's A Ten spray in conditioner. I don't think you can buy this just anywhere. It's not a drugstore type product. I have only seen it in salons. I usually get the largest bottle and it lasts me about 4-6 months for a $30 bottle. It does many things but the biggest benefits are it helps detangle your hair, creates shine and acts as a sunscreen. Sunscreen for your hair? Absolutely. You know those lovely blonde highlights you see on natural blondes and brunettes who live near the beach...well on colored hair that doesn't happen. Your whole head just fades. If you pay $200 to have your hair colored, not protecting it is basically like throwing money in the garbage. Get something to protect your hair. I highly recommend the It's A Ten. I mainly dye my hair different shades of red and I live near the beach. The sun doesn't fade it. It fades on its own because it needs touched up.

My favorite go to box colors are L'Oreal. My top favorite is Feria, although I have been told by hairdressers that you must always let your stylist know you are using Feria before they dye your hair. At one time, I may have known why but at the moment I just can't remember. Feria is a nice bold color that doesn't look entirely flat and always leaves my hair shiny. The other L'Oreal brands are great too. Excellence Color Creme is probably my favorite to apply. The bottle has a comb applicator so you can cover more area at a time. It also doesn't give me that runny feeling like color is dripping down my scalp. Preference seems to be my hair's favorite. It's more gel like in consistency but it makes my hair very shiny after it's been dyed. Shiny hair looks like healthy hair.

Hair color is fun and it really isn't that permanent. You can always change it. I'm definitely not afraid of hair color.

I am afraid of hair cuts.

I had a very traumatizing hair cut once and when that happens you have two options. Get it cut again into another style or wait for it to grow out. Either way you have to live with something that made you miserable. And the waiting period is infinitely longer than if you picked a color you didn't like.

I would say that my hair has been various lengths and parts of the same basic style for about nineteen years. Yes, nineteen. The lengths or the way I styled it may have changed but the cut was always basically the same. Light layers through the back and some sort of angled shag layering around the face.

I really wanted a change. But every time I went to my current hairdresser she would talk me out of it. And I would listen and come home with my same hair. All I wanted were bangs, fringe...whatever you call it wherever you are. I just wanted something that simple.

The other day I was at Walgreen's for dye and noticed they had hair cutting scissors on sale. I had a few splits so I figured I would get them and just trim the splits off. Then I just decided to give myself the hair cut I wanted.

This is the most recent pic of my hair before it was cut and colored.

I know what you're all thinking. It's the number one DON'T to cut your own bangs. You should always have them done by a professional!

I was not going to pay $35 to have this done. Lots of people have bangs and they don't all have their hair professional cut every time. So I did what any person with the Internet does. I googled how to do it. I looked at several tutorials and I finally settled on this one It made the most sense and looked the easiest. So I gathered up my hair and twisted it like it says in the tutorial and...

Bye bye hair. It didn't look bad.

Pardon how exhausted I look in those pics. I haven't been sleeping well. My husband calls that second pic Overworked Librarian. He's a comedian.

But I couldn't leave well enough alone. Oh no. Not me. I decided to angle the sides. Which resulted in catastrophe because I snipped a big chunk out of the side of my hair. I paniced for a few minutes and then just decided to make the bangs heavier to blend in my oops. I followed the tutorial again this time gathering more hair and getting in the side oops into the mix.

I don't have a pic of the oops. I was too concerned with fixing it. But a few more snips, add some hair dye and blow it out and I had this...


I love it! It's a huge departure from any hair style I've had in over a decade. Ok, almost two. I can do a lot with it. I am definitely happier with the heavy bang than with the first cut. The method on the tutorial was super easy. It was literally one cut and it angled the bangs perfectly around my face. I feel like it's a far more sophisticated cut than I have clothing for. I am a t-shirts, jeans and cardigans kind of person and it's almost comical to see it paired with this hair.

I'm not saying you should cut your own hair unless you feel confident about what you are doing or aren't petrified of making a mistake. But it wasn't difficult at all if you understand your own hair. What I am saying is, don't wait nineteen years to try something completely different. It's only hair and it does grow back and you can change the color. If you feel like you need some extra shine to your look make a change no matter how small or major and you could see big differences in yourself! Have a little fun with your hair!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Super Planner! My Blogging Social Media Small Business Everything Planner Is Done!

I have spent the last three days working in Photoshop and Illustrator non-stop. My eyes hate me and I think I am going to need a stronger prescription on my glasses now, but I finished a monumental project I've been working on. I'm sorry eyes I know you want to stop looking at all the things but we have miles to go.

You see, I like to keep certain things organized. And I am a nut for a good planner. Everything else in my life is utter chaos but I have a list and the chaos is probably on there. I always assume there are other people out there like me, so when I set out to find a planner to track everything for my blog, social media and shop I thought finding one would be a piece of cake.

Fast forward to six weeks later and I still haven't found anything suitable. Some I found would track a couple of things, some a couple more. But nothing was set up to track everything I wanted.

So I made my own.

And it turned out to be awesome!

I printed a couple at FedEx Kinkos and had them bound on a spiral ring and posted a pic. People started direct messaging me on Facebook and Twitter asking when they could buy one. So I recreated the whole thing and cleaned up the resolution on every page and added ten backgrounds to choose from. They are listed in the shop right now. Your background options are:
Christmas Sweater
Peace Signs
VW Bug

There is a print option where I will have the planner printed/bound and shipped to you or a digital option where you can buy the file and print it yourself.

I'm also personalizing them for you too! The pages inside are slightly different than the pics here. Like I said, I had to make some changes to the original. Here are some pics from the original and the new sheets.

Of course they won't be printed with my watermark on them. Those are pics directly from the listings. But as you can see the planner has everything. Calendars, weekly sheets, analytics, ad trackers, chat trackers, contacts, websites and logins, notes and ideas, to do lists and a monthly income/expense sheet for taxes. This baby is 144 pages and printed on cardstock.

It's a beast and it's not really a carry around in your bag kind of thing. This is a total desk reference for your throughout the year.

Want to check out the listings? Ready to order one? Click here!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Meet Aubrey Burchell

I love people who feel passionately about something and have amazing talent. My friend's daughter is one of those people. Her name is Aubrey and she sings from her soul. I am talking deep down. Her voice is already booming enough to remind you of Adele, Amy Whinehouse and Etta James. She's only 11 and I have her in my iTunes.

I want you to meet Aubrey. I did a little Q&A with her so that she can talk about her new project with Pittsburgh Producer and Club Owner, Mark Gibson. Aubrey and Mark currently have a Kickstarter fundraiser to produce and distribute a Christmas single called Nothing for Me.

She is hoping to raise enough funds by December 11 to put out the single and needs to meet a $1000 goal. Please take some time to watch some of her videos and read her Q&A so you can see the amazing talent that Aubrey possesses. I ask that if you can, please consider supporting her Kickstarter program to help make her dream a reality!

Check out these videos of Aubrey singing at the ZanderZ fudraiser for Autistic and Special Needs Children.

Now that you've had a chance to hear Aubrey sing, keep reading and get to know a little more about her.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm Aubrey and I'm 11. I have two sisters, Brenna and Cayla, and 4 pets. My favorite color is Blue. I LOVE to sing, play softball,gymnastics, and musical theater. I was Ariel in the Little Mermaid play. I also like sing for fundraisers.
You're still really young. How old were you when you first started singing?
When I first started talking! I have always been singing! LoL
I am always amazed when you start to sing how strong your vocals are and your ability to project them. How does it feel to have such a big voice in such a small package?
I don't know how to describe it. I thank God for giving me a gift(:
I already know how your parents help to nurture your love of music but for the readers please tell us about your family and what they do to support you.
Mom and Dad remind me to practice everyday. Dad helps with keeping me in the right key and tells me when I'm pitchy. They have found fundraisers for me to sing for and have taken me hours away just to sing. They help a lot!
Who are your biggest musical influences?
Adele, Christina Aguilara, Mariah Carey, Whitney Huston, Alex Claire, Ray LaMotagne, Etta James...there are so many LoL(:
What are your favorite two songs to sing and why?
I have so much fun singing and performing Celo's Forget You and Etta James At Last is one of my favorites to sing becuase it's a beautiful song.
What is your dream for your musical career?
My dream is to get my name out there, record albums, and maybe go on tour one day and sing at big places!
Tell us about the song you are hoping to record called "Nothing For Me".
It's called Nothing For Me, we have already recorded it just hoping the Kickstarter works so it can be released. It's about giving and thankfulness and to some people it's just not. The person is angry and wondering what happened and what is wrong with people. Remember what is important. The last line says remember the homeless, remember the children.
What is it like working with Mark Gibson?
Mark is a very nice guy! He is very experienced with music and I look up to him. He wrote the song and asked me to sing it, he took me to the studio and made the Kickstarter for me. I also have sang at his club Club Radioactive.
So what is Kickstarter and how does your project work?
Kickstarter is a place to put stuff out there and raise money for projects. If we meet the goal the song is funded, if the goal isn't reached nobody is charged and the project isn't funded.
Last words to the readers?
Thank you Jessica. Thank you to those who read this. I hope you enjoy the song. Hope to sing for you sometime!!

Please take some time to check out Aubrey's videos and consider a donation to her Kickstarter.

Link to Kickstarter -

You can also check out Aubrey's YouTube Channel and Like her on Facebook!

YouTube -

Facebook -

Thanks for reading all about Aubrey. Hopefully she finds a few more fans in some of you!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Literary Link Up! Count me in....

I am an obsessive reader. I can devour a book. Sometimes I have spent an entire day curled up reading from the time I wake up until the time I go to sleep. I get very attached to the characters and their story. I love a nice long series and I have a kind of mourning when it's over and there's no new story for my characters. I've cried my eyes out for characters (thanks Nicholas Sparks) and felt happiness when a story works out well.

I don't watch a lot of TV. I have certain shows that I watch and that's it. When my husband is out of the house the TV is rarely on. He was recently away for two weeks and I turned it on twice. I don't like the sounds and the movement. I am usually doing something else when I am "watching" TV like reading or embroidery because I can't focus and just sick there and watch the giant screen blink at me.

Books take the place of my television. And I am 100% okay with that. Not only does it keep me mentally engaged and relaxes me, but it also helps to improve my memory, my language skills and my vocabulary. I have always been a reader. My husband became a reader because of me and he can attest to it helping his language skills and his vocabulary. It doesn't matter what you read, just read something.

Encourage your children to read. It pains me when I hear kids say that they hate reading. Or reading is boring. Usually one of the first things I say to them is, "Did you know that in the original Peter Pan the character of Tinker Bell is mean and swears all the time?" This usually gets their attention enough that they will start to talk about that book or about other books they were curious about reading. You have to make people realize that books are interesting and find what would make them curious enough to read something. For kids, it's going to be that they can read a book with a couple of naughty words in it. There are secrets hidden in books and they should want to find them!

All of that is what made me extra excited when I saw that By The Porchlight and Goings On In Texas were doing a Literary Link Up. Meeting other people who love reading and reading their thoughts and answers to the link up questions is a great way to get to know someone.

By the Porchlight

Here are my answers to the Link Up Questions!

1) What book are you currently reading? Give us a little synopsis and your review.
I just finished book 12 in the Sookie Stackhouse by Charlaine Harris last night. I needed a mental break after reading all five Game of Thrones books in six weeks and this was the perfect way to go. I started book 1 on Sept 24 and finished book 12 on November 19.
The books are paranormal romance. I wouldn't say they are written well or with any sort of flair but the characters are fleshed out enough that you don't hate reading about them and you can get a good mental picture. Each book is laid out in the same format. Introduction/Re-Introduction of main character and where the last book left off. Start of books main plot (i.e. - Something bad happens.) Mystery is attempted to be solved. Mystery is solved usually in some climactic way that involves a lot of violence. End of book with a vague enough ending that you want to read the next one.
I obviously enjoyed the books well enough to read twelve of them. They would be good beach or vacation reads, or in my case sometime to read after you've been reading something heavy and involved.

2) What are your 3 favorite books of all time?
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling. Enough said, right?
The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I bought this book because I loved the cover and I've probably read it over a dozen times.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Great read. I can't even describe how amazing this story is every time I read it.
Runner up? I really needed about 20 spots here but I went with 4. Good omens from Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. It's humorous and satire at it's absolute best.

3) What is your "approach" upon entering a bookstore? Where do you immediately head after entering through the front door?
Mostly I buy books from Amazon or electronics books for my Kindle. But I do like to wander around Barnes and Noble. When I first enter I head straight for the bookcases up front with the Bargain Books. You never know when you're going to find a gem there. After that I make my way through Fiction and over to the Craft sections.

I hope you all sign up for the Link Up. If not please leave a comment of some of your favorite books!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Puppies, Ideas and Chevrons....Oh My!

It seems like I haven't actually sat at my sewing machine and made anything for a week. I have been working on a lot of things. A lot of time consuming things with intangible finished products. I tend to beat myself up when I can't physically hand something to my husband when he gets home from work and say, "Look what I did today!" It took a lot of time to get this blog set up the way I wanted it. It also takes a lot of time to work on marketing for your shop, answer emails from potential customers, put together sketches and proposals and also keep up with things around your life like cooking and cleaning. He understands and he does see that I am working. I just feel like intangible goods make it harder for me to feel fully accomplished. Do you ever feel like you should have "done more" when in reality you did a lot? So...what have I been doing besides working on the blog? Well I wasn't doing laundry, as evidenced by our overflowing hamper. That will have to be tomorrow's job. I was hanging out with these guys:

Just like kids, sometimes they have bad days and need some extra attention. Sometimes they just want a cuddle and sometimes I do too. I created gift certificates for the shop. You can get there by clicking the SHOP link up in the menu bar. I also set up FREE SHIPPING for all orders over $50. I think I am going to keep it regardless of the holidays. I had a few emails back and forth with Storenvy about setting up a separate APO/FPO shipping category for Military because I would really like to provide free shipping on all Military orders regardless of the amount spent. I was told my suggestion was added to a list for a future update! Awesome customer service by the staff at Storenvy. I was impressed they even took the time to message me back. It made me even happier to be using their platform. Thanks to Cody from Lu & Ed for the suggestion. I received an awesome suggestion from Aradia's Hand about making Fairytale Princess bags. I have it some thought and wasn't sure it was the direction I wanted to go in. Then later that day I was in the shower and I was thinking about it and wondering what I could do other than embroider or applique bags for fairytales and I thought....well what if I made a bag that looked like each character. So I spent the rest of the night brainstorming and sketching each character if they were a bag or purse. Still confused? Ask yourself this..."If Snow White were a purse, what kind of purse would she be and what would she look like?" And with that inspiration I came up with these sketches. Not all of them are Princesses. I am just going with Fairytale characters. See one I don't have. Make a suggestion in the comments!

I picked up the fabrics to make the samples. Can you guess which fabric is which character?

I cooked yesterday. Most of the day actually. And took pics so that I can post my homemade perogie recipe for all of you. I am hoping to have it up by tomorrow night. Lastly, I went to one of my favorite local fabric shops today called Fabric Hut. It's a bit of a drive from my house but it was worth it. It's an impressively large fabric store. One side is all apparel and the other cotton. In the center are notions and knitting. They even have a machine department and specialize in Elna. I don't know much about those machines but they are dealer manufactured and that is always a better quality machine. This is the kind of store that stocks every single color made by Kona. Every. Single. Color. I love to wander around the rainbow rows of fabric and look at the thousands of bolts. Today I fell into a sea of chevron and came home with these fat quarters. Hello chevron beauties.

I have a long list of things that need done. Finishing touches on some custom projects and lots of orders going out in the mail next week! Take care!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's a miracle! I can see!

I wear glasses. I'm nearsighted, which means I can see things close up better than far away. I have about a two-foot range without glasses then the blobs appear. It's kind of like being close up to a Monet painting. I also have light eyes so I am heavily affected by too bright and dim lights.

My studio is in a room on the back of the house. It was built as a guest room with its own access door to the downstairs bath, but it was perfect for a craft room. What we didn't know was that it is the hottest room in the house in the Summer and already the chilliest this Fall. (We just moved in this past April and haven't spent a Winter here yet.) It is probably safe to assume it will be cold in the Winter. I can handle all of that. Fans, less clothes, more clothes, throw blanket, sweaters. I'm prepared.

What isn't good, is that all Summer I had decent light between my lamps and the Summer sun. As Fall has crept in, and the sun shifted in the sky, I noticed that during the day I was practically pushing my face down to the needle on the machine. And I kept stitching navy thread onto black fabric. One time it was orange onto red. Not good and not the contrast stitching I was going for. And then Daylight Savings Time arrived. And I almost immediately started working more at night so that I "had more light." Utter madness. Then I realized that part of my problem was lighting.

The only rooms in our house that have overhead lighting are the bathrooms, laundry room, pantry, kitchen, diningroom and master bedroom. This is crazy. What do builders have against overhead lighting? I like to see things and not try to sew or read like I'm Abe Lincoln getting my learnin' by candlelight. There are certain modern conveniences I really enjoy: indoor plumbing, whole house heat/air conditioning, washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers and electricity. And I don't just mean electricity to power things, I mean the ability to produce light. As pretty as the gas lamps in Savannah were, I love a lightbulb.

A funny thing has happened with lightbulbs in the last several years. Maybe longer, I'm not a historian on lightbulbs. In an effort to help the environment and global warming, the industry has started producing bulbs that give off less heat and use less energy. I think that's great, I am all for helping. But the tradeoff is also less light. Now it's not the same as candles, which are dangerous and can burn your house down but often the lighting conditions are about the same. I have been in some people's homes where they compensated by having a gazillion (accurate estimation but not really that many) lamps. So basically they are still using a ton of electricity and giving off the same amount if not more heat. I'm not Edison but that sounds like there's a glitch in the system. The bonus though, is that their bulbs will last longer than a goldfish.

I had such bulbs in my studio. They're referred to as "soft" light. Some stuff about the light being diffused....blah, snore....I still can't see and now I feel like my eyes are degenerating. I noticed that sometimes I was trying to light everything with my tiny Ott light. That poor baby can barely light itself, as much as it tries but it is not a large area lamp. I have two standing floor lamps. The one we all had in college that you screw together except this is the sudo-adult version and not made of meltable plastic. It has a three way setting. And I have one of those wacky standing lamps with five wiggly arms and different colored shades. It was on sale at Target and I needed a lamp, don't judge me. So between the two standing lamps that's SIX "soft" light bulbs. SIX. Which was just not cutting it.

One day, the proverbial lightbulb went on over my head. (Oooh, bad pun Jess. Shame on you.) And I thought, if the Ott light provides such great light then I will get bulbs like that for the other lamps. Yea, those babies are almost $10 a piece, multiply by six. Oh no. I can't justify $60 in lightbulbs no matter how badly I wanted them. So I went to Lowe's.

I really like Lowe's. They make it easy for us to use our military discount. Home Depot made us register and they always have to look up our account when we try to use it. At Lowe's I just show my ID. Novel concept, I know. At Lowe's, I learned there are 652 (give or take) different kinds of lightbulbs. I just stood there dumb-founded as Hubs went to do man things and look at tools. There was a guy there doing the same things and we had the following conversation.

Me: This is ridiculous.
Comrade: I don't even know where to begin.
Me: Remember when there were just watts and you picked the highest one you saw and were done with it?
Fellow Sad Bulb Shopper: I just want light.
FSBS's Toddler: You have red hair like Raggedy Andy.
Me: Do you know anything about lightbulbs?
Mini Person: Red.
Me: That's what I thought.

After what seemed like an eternity a nice Lowe's employee came over and said, "You look like you need help." Also something that NEVER happens in Home Depot. I am usually wondering around looking for someone in an orange apron when I'm there. Lowe's employee asked me what my lighting needs were and proceeded to educate me on the bulbs. He informed me that I should get bulbs labeled Natural Daylight where the package indicates that it produces "cool" light and is 5000K. He said this would mimic the sun at noon. Thank you helpful Lowe's employee. Thank you.

I picked up the Utilitech 4-Pack (60W) Spiral Candelabra Base Daylight (5000K) CFL Bulbs for the sqiggle lamp and a 3-Way of the same type for the other lamp. I took before and after pics with my new camera. I used no filters and no exposure settings. I took pics with the soft white bulbs in and immediately changed them and took pics with the natural daylight bulbs in. The difference is phenomenal. I can see so clearly I want to put them all over the house. I should also point out that these new bulbs are the same wattage as the old ones. So there was no wattage trickery on my part either, just the change between soft white and natural daylight. My other bulbs were also CFL.

You can judge for yourself. These pics were taken at 3pm today. You can see it is also sunny outside. If you click on each pic you can view it larger.

Here is each part of the room with the soft white bulbs.

And here is the glorious after.

Amazed? Me too. I keep going in there to turn the lights on and just look at the difference. I would recommend you all do yourself a favor and get natural daylight bulbs for your work and/or reading area. It is an improvement you should definitely invest in and your eyes will thank you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Meet Me

Hello there!

Look at me, I started a blog. I assume you came here wondering who I am and what this is all about.  Let's start with me.

I make things. More specifically, I sew, hand embroider and machine embroider. Mostly purses/bags and some home decor. I am always brainstorming for new ideas.

This is me.

I'm a Pittsburgh native and moved to Virginia Beach in 2010. My husband is in the Navy and recently we purchased our first home in Chesapeake.

I first started sewing in middle school. Every six weeks we switched to a different shop/home ec/art type class and one of them was sewing. The first couple of years we did things like plastic canvas cross stitch and latch hook. Personally, I enjoyed wood and metal shop more. Then probably around seventh grade we finally got to use the sewing machines. It was great and I wanted to make everything I could think of, and I had even asked for a machine for home. My joy was short lived because the teacher was scary and was always screaming at everyone. So by the time Christmas came and I was asked if I still wanted a sewing machine, I said no.

Fast forward about 16 years. I had lost a large amount of weight and all of my clothes were saggy and baggy. I didn't really have enough money to replace them, so what's a girl to do? I borrowed a friend's sewing machine. It was her Grandmother's and this baby was heavy. It may have been made entirely of metal. I definitely showed some muscle lugging that brut up three flights of stairs to my apartment. And with no training or apparel experience, I proceeded to take in all of my clothes. I also made my Halloween costume that year too!

And then that was the end of that for about seven years. A lot can happen in seven years. I got a couple of college degrees in Accounting and Business Management. I supervised the Accounting Department for a Telecom company and I managed to fall in love and move to Virginia. You never really know where life is going to send you, but sometimes you just have to go with it.

In May of 2011, Hubs left for a seven month deployment. I didn't really know anyone here and I wasn't working at the time, so I found myself with a lot of free time. I owned a sewing machine and for my birthday that April I had asked for a serger. I'm not sure why, since I hadn't sewn anything in years, but I suppose I had good intentions.  So I pulled them out and set them up. I then spent days and days online finding patterns and going to Joann's for fabric and thread. I read book after book on how to sew. Finally, after several weeks of "research" I sat down and made a bag for a friend's birthday present.

We call it the Dead Bears Bag and she still carries it to this day. It is well loved. And I didn't use one of those hundreds of patterns I looked through. I do have a pattern for it though. Mostly because she has asked me to make four more since that time. I plan on posting a tutorial for it one day.

So I kept sewing and sewing. And before I knew it, I had a tote full of bags. A lot of people got purses for Christmas last year. A lot. Thankfully they still use them. But, I still had a ton left and kept making more. I talked and talked about opening a store online and just didn't. I also taught some classes on making purses at a local quilting shop.

In February of last year, I upgraded from a Sears off the shelf Singer sewing machine and a Brother off the shelf serger to a BabyLock sewing machine, as well as a serger. These machines are amazing. And it really does change the quality of your work to have a good machine that is properly calibrated and timed to create beautiful stitches. Because of the change in the quality of my work I opened a shop. It was casual and a when I had time, kind of venture. In the last few months I have taken it on full-time and am working hard to design new and fun things that I hope people will love. You can get to the shop from the link at the top of the page!

Most recently, I purchased a Brother embroidery machine. It's amazing. I love being able to add designs to my creations. I have also started learning to digitize my own artwork to stitch out on the machine too! It's a lot of fun to see a drawing come to life in stitches as the machine runs.

I hope that I am able to share things with you that are amusing, interesting and that you want to read. Please ask me any questions you would like. I tend to be an open book. And follow me on Twitter and Facebook for more fun pictures and posts!

Until next time!