Friday, November 27, 2009

Well, That's Settled

Sooo, you know how I mentioned that I'd been thinking of learning how to sew? But that I didn't know if it was the best idea because I really don't NEED another hobby?

This past week Grandma had be dig into the depths of her closet to find something for her and in the process, I found her sewing machines. Which she hasn't used in about ten years and realistically won't use ever again.

Yeah, it's now my machine.

What should I sew first?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Linky Love

I've been at home sick this week and when not napping, have been surfing the internet and watching Wifeswap reruns on Lifetime (don't judge!).
A few cooking, craft, and DIY projects that have intrigued me this week

Ladder pot rack from Woman's Day. I wish my kitchen could accomodate one of these.

Cabbage centerpieces from Real Simple. LOVE these - so cute.

Messenger bag made from plastic grocery bags courtesy of Ready Made. I may try to whip up one of these.

Army Blanket Bag
at Ready Made. Decent gift idea for a man in your life.

Not exactly a DIY since its a kit, but I'm likin' this Cloudlight Headboard - too bad it wouldn't work with the style of my bedroom.

Love this watchface bracelet over at Ready Made.

These Pumpkin Bites at Bakerella are almost too cute to eat. Almost.

The Pumpkin-Apple-Pecan Pie is a genius idea over at Cakespy.

I've been admiring these Sun Jars over at Not Martha for a couple years.

Another project of Not Marthas that I've been admiring for a couple of years? Her marble magnets.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Because I Really Need Another Hobby

I have too many hobbies. Knitting, crochet, beading, photography, cooking, baking, painting... I could go on and on.
I don't know why I have so many hobbies, I just decide to try something and then I jump in headfirst. Generally, I'll keep with it for a while and then put it down for anywhere from a month to a year while I move on to a new hobby, or revisit an old one.
For a couple years now I've been wanting to learn how to sew. The only reason I haven't is because I really do not need yet another hobby. Also, I do not need to accumulate the materials that go along with another hobby. I already have more yarn and beads than I know what to do with -- I don't have the shelf or drawer space that would be needed to accommodate the fabric, thread and notions that I know I would accumulate.
However, the desire to learn how to sew returned when I recently saw the following childrens clothing on Etsy.

So Not A Princess Dress

Evening Beauty Dress

Easter Delight Dress

They'd all be SO CUTE on my little niece!

Of course, I also found some pieces I found that I wouldn't mind making for myself.

Audrey Hepburn style circle skirt

Awesome Yoga Pants
-- I LOVE yoga pants

The Desi Dress

Another "Audrey" style circle skirt

Russian Doll Cashmere Coat

Geek Girl Hoodie
- I know, completely different from the above dresses and skirts

So, I'm contemplating learning to sew. I know that I could make any of these items for much less than what they are selling for - BUT, do I really need to take on another hobby?
I haven't done much in the way of knitting, crochet, or beading in a while so I'm wondering if the interest in taking on a new hobby is because I haven't been doing any of my current ones in so long.

Rethinking Old Traditions

When I was younger I remember going shopping each fall for that years winter coat. It signaled the change of season, that Thanksgiving and Christmas weren't too far away, and neither were the breaks from school.
Grandma would take me to the store and I would try on various jackets and coats, picking out the perfect piece of outerwear for the season and I would generally be able to talk Grandma into getting me a couple of sweaters as well. After our shopping expedition, Grandma and I would go out to lunch before heading home. It was a ritual that most frequently just Grandma and I - something I looked forward to each year.
Now that I'm an adult and responsible for purchasing my own wardrobe, its a ritual that I've kept up for myself. Each year, right around Halloween, I usually start shopping around for a new winter coat or jacket. Some years I get something a little funky, some years I get something more basic and sensible. Some years I've gotten coats that were completely different than the previous years. Some years I've gotten a coat that was almost identical to the prior years purchase.
A couple weeks ago, my sister called me asking if I had any old clothing that I would be willing to donate to a new resident at her rehab house. A few nights before a new woman had joined their home and had come in with only the clothing on her back and she didn't have any family in the area to bring her clothing - it would be about 3 weeks before they would be able to come to Northern California and bring her anything.
It was perfect timing, really. I had just been thinking that I needed to go through my closets and dressers and clean out the clothing that either no longer fit, or that I just didn't wear anymore. I was debating between washing everything and putting it aside for a yard sale next spring, or just dropping it all off at the Goodwill. Between the options available, I decided that I would much rather give the clothing to women who are making genuine efforts to improving themselves, and who could use the items more.
In the midst of going through all of my clothing I realized exactly how many coats and jackets I have - its an insane amount. Even after taking FOUR coats up there, I still have at least SIX coats and jackets in my closets. Absolutely insane. I realized then that I have ZERO need to purchase a winter coat this year. I may never need to purchase a winter coat ever again. How much money have I spent on winter outerwear in the past few years? And how frequently do I wear each of those pieces? Not often enough to justify them all. Certainly not enough to justify buying another one this year.
However, I did still online browse this years options. This time, I did not purchase any and since I knew I would not be making any purchases I paid no attention to price. These were some of my favorites....

Thursday, November 05, 2009

'Cause jam Don't Shake Like That...

For the past few days I've been thinking about what crafts I should make this holiday season. Boy-oh-boy, do I have some ideas. Nope, not going to share just yet... can't spoil ALL of the surprises.

However, I do need a little help.

I've decided that one of the projects I am likely to undertake is making some jams and/or jellies. I've chosen one flavor solely based upon free access to a specific fruit tree, so that particular flavor I'm not divulging (one of the surprises!).
One of my many issues with all of my crafty endeavors is that I am not satisfied taking on just ONE project. Nope. If I'm going to make sugar scrub, there needs to be multiple scent options. The same standard applies with jellies --- I NEED to make more than just one flavor of jam/jelly. This is where you come in! I've selected thirteen different options and obviously I can't possibly make all thirteen PLUS the top secret flavor. I'm thinking I should only make three flavors... four, tops.
Please, take a moment to review the following flavors and select up to three of the options in the poll to the right.
Thank you, and have a good day!
Amaretto Peach Pecan Preserves*
Blushing Peach Jam (blushing = raspberry)
Caramel Apple Jam
Clementine Marmalade
Chocolate Raspberry Jam
Mango Butter
Mango Raspberry Jam
Pear Vanilla Jam
Pomegranate Jelly
Pumpkin Butter
Rosemary Orange Marmalade
Sangria Jelly*
Tangerine Marmalade

* All alcohol content will be cooked out during the preparation of the noted recipes.

PS - Holy cow am I going to be buying a boatload of sugar.

PPS - Am I out of my mind for deciding to try making my own jams and jellies when I've never canned anything on my own before? I tried making a marionberry jam with my grandma up in Oregon years ago but it never fully jelled. It was more like marionberry syrup. Now, that may have been due to the fact that my grandma wasn't the most fantastic cook in the world (she was decent, but not spectacular) or due to the fact that I was only twelve years old. Theres also the possibility that that particular project was the first sign that I suck at canning and just haven't tried to do it again since so I'm completely unaware that I do, in fact, suck at canning. AND are holiday gifts really the proper venue to discover that this is not something that I'm good at?


Tuesday, November 03, 2009


I considered participating in NaBloPoMo.
I also considered participating in NaNoWriMo and NaKniSweMo.
But, lets get real - my posting here has been pretty spotty this year, I don't know how I'd keep up with daily posting for an entire month.
Writing a novel? Sure, I've got some ideas but have no idea how I would manage to write a 50,000 story (an average of 1,666 words per day) in a month.
Knitting a sweater in a month? Definitely more feasible, but I tried that a couple of years ago. Note, I said that I tried. Back in 2006 I started to knit this sweater. I got the back completed and the front started, then put the sweater down when I started having some major car problems and was doing some extensive car shopping which led to the purchase of the car I have now. Anyways, I put the front of the sweater down and now I couldn't tell you where I stopped in the pattern or even what size I was working on. The pieces are sitting in a box with some of the yarn I purchased to make the sweater. Yes, some. Cooper got his little paws on a few of the skeins and since he seems to think he's part cat and loves to play with yarn, he tore all over the house with a couple of skeins, effectively destroying them. So, I don't even have all of the yarn to finish the blasted sweater if I wanted to.
Ultimately I decided against NaKniSweMo this year not because I had failed in completing the challenge in the past, but because I have got SO DAMN MUCH going on in my life right now. Basically its the same of everything that I've been dealing with for the past three months, plus gearing up for the holidays, plus I'm FINALLY taking a vacation this month.
Yes, I have not had a vacation since my trip to London a year and a half ago. So, a couple months ago a few of my girlfriends and I decided that it was time for a vacation and we decided upon New Orleans. Yes, history and culture was part of the reason why we chose New Orleans - we want to see the plantations, the cemeteries, the musicians, the parks. And yes, the lack of an open container law was a slight factor in the decision. At least it was for me.
I went to New Orleans a little over five years ago and did get to see a lot of it. However, I was there to take my 13-year-old cousin to a karate tournament so I did not get to see everything I wanted to. There were 2 or 3 plantations that I wanted to see - after the first one she was all "meh, I've had enough of plantations". Going out to eat was a pain too. I was looking forward to some amazing New Orleans fare - her reaction to most places was "thats too cuisiney. Can't we go to Wendys?"
And forget hitting Bourbon Street at night.
I also didn't get to see any of the cemeteries because I had read all of these travel guides stating how incredibly dangerous the cemeteries are and that there are muggers throughout them and you're putting yourself in grave (pun not intended) danger going through them if you're not with a group. As a result, even with a group, I was not comfortable with the idea of taking my baby cousin into the cemeteries.
Now I am going with a group of three other adult women so I KNOW I will have a fantastic trip.
Yes, I am a little sad that I am staying in the US - I would have LOVED to have collected another stamp in my passport, but finances are a little tight so a trip to Europe would have been a hardship.
Also, its November, I've got to get geared up for Christmas - there are a lot of crafts for me to get started on. Christmas is less than two months away and I haven't even decided what crafts I'm going to make this year. Sure, I've got a few ideas on what I can do, but nothing that I've definitely decided upon yet.
This last point makes me wonder WHY all of this Na-whatever-whatever-Mo projects are in November? Seriously? People are stressed over the holidays rapidly approaching as it is. Why add a project of any of these magnitudes to your plate at this time of year?
NaNoWriMo? In my opinion, thats a project for January. In January people are recuperating from the holidays - mentally, emotionally, and financially. What better time to hole up at home with your laptop and a cup of cocoa to flex your creative muscles? None I tell ya, NONE!
NaBloPoMo? Thats something for the springtime - you're out doing stuff after a winter of staying in where its warm. Much more blog fodder in my opinion.
NaKniSweMo? That should be a September project... maybe October. Think about it - you want to knit a new sweater for the winter? Do it in September or October so that you have it for November when things start to get a little chilly. With the exception of this year. This year IS unseasonably warm for November.
So, this November, I am protesting. I am not participating, and not going to attempt to participate in any of these projects. I am going to go to New Orleans and have beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde on the Mississippi River and drink Hurricanes out of to go cups from bars with walk up windows. I am going to take Cooper to the groomers tomorrow morning. I am going to try to get caught up on housekeeping before I leave for my trip. I am going to figure out what the heck I'm doing for my holiday crafts this year. I am going to work on a recipe that I'm formulating to enter in the Pillsbury Bake Off next spring. I am going to visit with my sister and my niece (I'm taking her to the zoo for the first time this Saturday. CAN'T WAIT). I'm going to find a new cake or pie recipe to make for Thanksgiving. I'm going to do what I would normally do without one of these challenges.