Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Umba time! This month I received two handmade goodies. I already wore one today to see if I liked it/could pull it off (I think it went OK).
The bracelet is actually a double length, but in this color. By the pink ruffle. You should know that this bracelet is super soft. Like, insanely soft. Yellow isn't my favorite, but I think I will find uses for this every now and again.

Sadly for you, my next goody isn't represented on the web. So this picture is straight out of my phone. Sorry for the quality.
Six key notecards! Very delightful addition to my stationery collection. From Fourteen-Forty.

Solid, usable month. Umba love.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Its been a really long time since I blogged anything of substance. Umba and crafting are awesome (and I truly love them both). But I've been so busy lately that I haven't done any crafting. And the truth is, this will continue straight through to September I think. So what has taken up my weekends (most weeknights I struggle to do one constructive thing and lately that has been cleaning or yard work or cooking)?
  • I went to Boston for a conference. I really liked Boston and have officially added it to the places I could see myself living. Also on the list? Chicago.
  • Spent some time with my mom shopping for furniture and learning to decorate cakes.
  • Birthday party for a bestie.
  • Cleaning the house after we got central air installed (lots of holes drilled into the ceiling = a layer of dust everywhere). And then I decided the house needed a complete rearranging. Really we just swapped furniture between two rooms. Sounds pretty innocent and easy..except I tried to go through everything in those rooms. Goodwill benefited greatly. This has taken up a large chunk of my time over the past few weeks.
And what do I have coming up?
  • Trip to Madison.
  • Trip to Indiana.
  • First wedding dress session with the couture ladies
  • Rocky Mountain train trip!
  • Trip to Salt Lake City.
  • Trip to Wisconsin to stand up in a wedding.
That puts us into the middle of September. There are a few weekends scattered throughout with no plans. I hope to do absolutely nothing on those occasions. 

I'm a tiny bit hungover (in an, I had one and a half drinks and stayed up too late way), so I'll leave you with this tired thought:

I really love Disney World. And I also kind of love Vegas. So does this mean I love fakeness? Fakity? Fakosity?

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Another month, another umba box. For some reason this month didn't knock me off my socks like most months do. I guess that was to be expected, eventually. However, I did end up with a lovely necklace and some lollipops to try so it's completely still a winner of an "of the month" club.

Necklace from Lucid. To be honest, I have a hard time linking you to that site because it's kind of poorly done. I tried to search in the email subscription box. Then when I did find the actual search, all the links that the search was providing were broken. Throwing ugly asp.net errors. So be warned, this website is not awesome. The necklace is small, delicate, with a very short chain. I'm certain I won't be wearing it regularly (as I still mostly avoid gold), but it is nice to have that little bit of difference in my jewelry box.

Lollipops! From The Candied Flower. They're really pretty - if you need a favor for some kind of shower, these in a bunch with a ribbon - fantastic! I received two flavors - Mojito and Citrus. I have yet to try either, I'm saving them for a business trip. You can likely find me in O'Hare or Logan sucking on one of these. If they're truly gross, I'll update here. However, I expect them to be tasty.

Not the most inspiring month...but any surprise present in the mail is better than none. Happy June!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Quick post. I made Mothers Day cards this year. Since I sort of have a mother-in-law (mother-in-law-to-be?), I thought this was the year to start giving her cards. I hope neither mom will be insulted, but I made the same card with very slight variations (different colors/different embossing on the inside). For the moms:

inside - with microsoft paint half-assed
photoshopping...so you can't see my
personal note. :)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

When I said I've been mostly doing nothing...that was a lie. A nice little white lie, but a lie. I've been busy wedding planning (pretty much done) and sewing. Knitting has stalled. I broke a needle on the project I was working on -like an idiot, i tried to put on the sock while I was still knitting it (it looked way small) and crack went the needle. So this is a sewing update for you!

First, I finished my set of potholders. I got much better at piecing and quilting lines. I'm pretty much at the same skill level with the binding (not terrible but not smooth and perfect). And I wound up with a potholder I'd call my favorite! I actually love one of them. This one:
i think the chevron lining worked fantastically with the squares
 And here's the full set. Remember, I screwed up my measuring/seams on the first one I did...which is why it is small in comparison.

I spent a chunk of hours cutting out all of the squares for a second set of potholders, to be made for my sister and her husband:

In other sewing news, I spent one full day butchering a set of curtains my mom had made for my old apartment. You can see them in said apartment (sort of) in a picture here. Those windows were huge: tall and wide...and those curtains didn't really fit anywhere in the house. We were/are using them on basement windows to "hide" all of loml's music gear from would-be robbers (his paranoia, not mine). But they were huge for the windows. So I cut up one curtain to make three for basement windows and then sewed an insanely basic hem on any cut sides. Basic because eventually I think loml would like to pick his own fabric for those windows. It surprisingly took a long time - for something that sounds so simple.

I also went on two shopping expeditions with a friend to pick out fabric for her housewarming gift: curtains. We bought it last weekend and I'm in the process of deciding on a curtain type..and then I'll begin the insanely scary task of cutting. You can rip out seams...but you can't undo a poor cut. Here's a picture of that fabric in its raw state:

Lots more fun with my sewing machine to come. I'll try to update in parts, rather than in a huge chunk.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Umba box day! Sorry for the lack of posts. I'm busy doing nothing (yay!). This month was another three item spectacular. Still in love.

Two hairpins! A green and a yellow. I love them. They're wooly and cute. I just have to figure out how to use them in my boring, boring hair. Tomorrow I may take a stab at it! From Willow Handmade.
Picture from Willow Handmade etsy site
Lip gloss! Picture below is not the specific version I have - I received Summer (fitting!). It says "scented with Garden Herbs". It feels pretty nice and has a spicy smell. From Stewart & Claire.
Picture from Stewart & Claire blog

Smelly candle! This candle packs a wollop of smell. I don't know how to describe the smell. It's fairly perfume-y. I think I'm going to put it in the bathroom that holds the litter box. The version I got is much smaller than the one on the site (20 hour burn time). From Patch NYC.
Picture from Patch NYC site

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I haven't been sure if I should say anything, but I suddenly feel dishonest. So you should know that I'm blogging about my wedding planning on our fairly newly minted wedding website.

Since this blog is super public, I'm not going to give you the URL to that site. But I do invite you all to email me or comment here with an email and request the location of it. I'm likely going to keep the wedding site narrowed to people I know.

I also think it's only fair that if you want wedding stuff to be a "surprise" then you probably shouldn't read the blog.  :)

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Umba box does it again! Man I love this little monthly gift SO MUCH.

Awesome, blueberry dish towel. Love the feel of the towel and blueberries. Click through for more pictures. By Tina Produce.

Handmade caramels. Fleur de Sel Caramels. I admit that I am not a caramel lover. But I have a few in my life...and they are going to benefit from this gift. There are three caramels. Loml already ate one lovingly. The other two will be fought over later today or tomorrow by family. By the caramel jar.

Cute little, letterpress cover notebook. I work in technology. And I have a really nice new iPhone. But I still like to write lists and addresses in little notebooks. And I've recently found that I love top spiral notebooks. So this little gift will find much use in my hands. By Paper Lovely.

Seriously, getting my Umba box in the mail is a highlight of my month every month. Just in case I've convinced you to treat yourself: Umba!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Umba month 4! So this month was a homemade bath product box, products made by Rinse. I've tried two of the products and the third, a bath bomb, will likely not get any love for six months. That bath bomb is lavender (image links to shop).

The skin stick is kind of awesome. It's like glue sticking your face/arms/body. There is something satisfying about it.
And the third, I'd actually like to offer to anyone interested.  It's a face mask, which I tried last weekend. And it did leave my skin feeling smooth and lovely...but I had a hard time with the mask itself. Because it smelled so strongly of coffee. And I don't really like coffee. So any coffee lovers who'd like a ton of "make it yourself" face mask, let me know. Mailing envelope here and ready for you! Info about the Cafe Mocha Mask here.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Potholder update - I've completed two. I'm definitely falling in to a groove and I'm pretty sure I know where I have to be more careful on the next batch. When I sew all my squares together, perfect 90 degree seams are a must. And when I measure out/draw on my quilting lines, I have to choose a pattern that works for the particular problems that I may have created with my piecing. All very satisfying. I'm going on vacation at the end of next week for about a week, so no crafting updates for a bit here...

The first (slightly small as I screwed up my seam allowances):

The second:

And a side by side:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Journal swap round 6: me!

I'm clearly into fabric...and my quilting scraps were screaming to be made into bunting.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Journal swap round 6: librarian!

So, I feel I should say that I had both journals for quite some time. And I accidentally flip flopped the rounds. I should have made something in the white journal and instead, I went with black. So we're a bit off now...but in the end, it'll even out.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Update time! I haven't finished anything, but I thought I'd let you know how the quilting is going. And as an aside, I've officially hit the 1st quartile of my weight loss goal. 28% done!

Quilting is...part awesome, part satisfying and a whole lot of exact cutting and sewing. I definitely have not hit exactness. In fact, I think it will be a miracle if I ever get near perfection. However, I am determined to make a series of potholders until I am pleased with the results enough that I would give them away to someone other than a family member. I'm going to become a potholder factory.

I took some pictures of my in-progress potholders. Tonight I finished making the binding tape (a weird process that required a tool I didn't have, which slowed me down), so hopefully in a few days I will have one finished, accidentally too small potholder (I didn't understand the seam allowance, so lost about a half inch on each side).

Here's the potholder with half of the quilted lines (front and back). My lines are not straight. But, for my first try with quilting and the walking foot on my sewing machine, it's not terrible either:

And here's the potholder with all of the lines in. That excess batting/backing has already been cut off in preparation for binding. This is the part where you can see my in-exactitude glaring at you in the face. My squares were not perfectly sewn together/not straight. And the hatching meanders across the potholder in an uncomfortable way. It's in the center of some squares...and not so much for others. The horror. Note that the edge squares are bigger - this is not a seam allowance error, this is on purpose. The binding will cover up the excess amount of square to make it look exactly correct.

So I just need a ton more practice. For a while, potholders. Then table linens. Pillows. Eventually, a real quilt. They say it takes 1000 hours to become an expert at something...just 100 potholders to go...

Monday, February 27, 2012

I feel a bit weird talking about dieting here, it feels weirdly personal and yet is something every woman talks about all day every day at the office. I also have a sister who is strongly against dieting, so sister, take cover or stop reading or whatever.

Let's back this diet story up, back when I started dating loml I was a fairly healthy weight for my height. I was maybe a few pounds to the heavier side, but truly, I was in a good place. And then loml and I ate. And he recognized my true joy in sweets and treated me with them. And then we moved in together and my eating habits took a further nosedive into unhealthy land. And in that process I gained almost 25 pounds. Kind of a lot for a short girl. So it's time for those 25 pounds to go. I can eat what I want, just not so damn much of it and not so often.

Enter myfitnesspal.com and calorie counting. I suck at getting to the gym regularly, so I have yet to work that into this plan. It seems possible that I'll need to exercise once my inevitable plateau hits, but for now I'm just being conscious of what I put in my mouth. And really enjoying it. I have one cheat day a week where I eat whatever I want and don't care what calories are involved. For the rest of the week I mostly manage to work in anything I want (for example, some really fantastic eating and a weird tasting abandoned apple has enabled me to schedule a Kinder Hippo and Smart Ones ice cream sundae for later).

The only thing that is really drastically reduced is how often I eat out. Because nothing is healthy at restaurants. Or two things are and they are meh. This is actually producing a fun side effect of us cooking more at home. A lot of chicken, some kind of icky pork chops, beans and rice, oh my! For my first recommendation...those skillet sauces from Frontera? Those are tasty. Pick some up.

So I'm dieting. It feels good. If I don't want to go to dinner with you, it's not you, it's me. But I'll cook for you.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

I have spent the past 19 waking hours or more knitting. I tend to get myself in to the following predicament: I plan a project for an impending baby, I knit like a snail for five months and then suddenly the baby is imminent and I've got half a project. So for the past five months, I've been snailing on this:
In case it's not clear, it's a baby blanket, with a little hood so that you can burrito wrap your baby (maybe even good for use as a towel). This baby girl is going to be born a Phoenix Suns fan, so I went with purple instead of pink.

And then the last bit of my knitting spree, I whipped up these little cuties to go with the blanket:
I've made these guys before, but with a button clasp instead of ties. And I think the bow turned out far cuter.

Hopefully my cousin doesn't read this blog as this baby present is shipping tomorrow and the surprise would be ruined. I'm pretty sure I know all five of my readers though, so I'm not too worried.

Now I need to find my next knitting project...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I thought I would throw together a quick post tonight - loml gifted me with the awesome umba box for my birthday. I've received three so far and I'd love to share the goodies I get here. It is honestly the best surprise every month. In the future if I can't find an exact image online, I'll take my own. But for this quick consolidated post, you'll have to make do with descriptions.

Month 1:
Stationery from PoochiePrints. It is quite lovely and the lined envelopes rock my world. I think I have two cards left...not sure how I'm going to convince myself to send them off.

Month 2:

As well as a lovely drippy tree branch 5x5 from this shop.

Month 3:

Mine is made with a lovely gray/black leather. It smells fantastic and is clearly well made. I'm not sure what I'll use it for just yet, but..something. It wants to be used...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ah, Sunday. I just spent my day being the most domestic kind of gal - I did laundry, I tidied, I vacuumed, I cut up a pillowcase and tested my sewing machine tension and then I cut out 72 two by two inch squares. I have 48 more to go. Then there are a few bigger squares...and then I'll make my first go at quilting. I'm pretty excited to see if it works at all. If it does, I'll have some potholders that really don't match my kitchen (but made with fabric I really like). If it doesn't go well, on four out of four potholders, I'll be pondering another investment in a class at Lill. Fingers crossed everyone.

In other news, I dipped my toe in to the world of wedding dresses and came out with this information:

  1. I'm not sure who a full skirted dress would look good on...but it's not this girl. It adds so much volume and I look like a marshmallow.
  2. There was a dress in the store that did not fit over my hips. While I do not pretend to be a small girl, I am definitely well within the average range of sizes. I wonder how many of those dresses sell.
  3. My general idea of what I want is close to what looked best on me. So that's a win! But I still have no idea what I want to wear...
  4. Except that I do not want to wear a veil. I did quite enjoy the tulle blusher/birdcage though (not the traditional birdcage). That was one decision I did make.
Off to await the pot pie that loml has been constructing for a large part of the day. Does anyone else find that a recipe preparation time is generally half the actual time needed?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Hey! Remember when I wrote a post about my sewing class and how I had sewn a rectangle? Well, since then I made a whole bag. And graduated.

To be fair, there was no graduation. But I think my bag kicks ass. It's reversible too! It was pretty difficult to get a good picture of it, I have 20 pics of me wearing it in the hall mirror. And all of them are big piles of suck.

I really liked the class and have a few follow up projects planned. A couple of them are just straight test projects - I need to learn how my machine works (we used Singer's in class and I have a Brother). I foresee some tension issues. So I'm making fake curtains from old sheets and a bunch of totally random old sheet projects. Anyone need something made out of an old sheet?

The other project is from an awesome book I got for Christmas...a few years ago now: Dare to be Square Quilting. I'm going to start small and try to make some potholders. Loving textile crafts.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

I've officially had my first terrible etsy transaction. (To be completely honest, I have a second kind of bad one also happening at the same time, though this second one does appear to be the fault of the USPS).

When loml and I discussed marriage/engagement/rings, I asked him if he would wear an engagement ring as well. He is promising the same level of commitment to me that I am to him, so if a ring = ownership, then we own each other. He agreed, we found a ring pretty quickly on etsy and I purchased it. This was on December 5.

The store in question had a stated 3 week lead time. Though she was also, at that time, not taking any orders to be fulfilled by the holidays (makes sense as they were basically three weeks away). So I was imagining getting a ring some time in early January. We still have not received it. That makes almost 9 weeks.

I emailed the seller multiple times: through etsy and through her normal email (you receive the seller's email in the invoice when you place an order). I never received any response at all.  Not even an "I'm behind, so sorry, it will be 4 more weeks". I started to research the situation and the seller had closed a previous store for dubious reasons ('split business' though making the same rings + new ones?). And it appeared at the old store there were quite a few disgruntled customers. So now I have no ring, I'm out a substantial amount of money and it appears this seller is...not all that reliable.

Next step...researching etsy's issue reporting. They have a "non-delivery report" which is basically a mediator - etsy sits in the middle and tries to resolve the issue.  However, since I paid via paypal, the only way to get a refund is to go through paypal.  Which has a deadline that issues must be reported prior to 45 days post purchase. 45 days had passed. So I open a non-delivery report. The issue mediation says it can last up to 5 weeks - I figure after that time, I can go to paypal and beg for my money back.

Three days after my non-delivery report, I got an email from paypal that my item shipped. And a few hours later, a sob story email from the shop owner that the holiday season was tragic for her family, she asked someone to help her respond to emails/they clearly didn't, etc. I feel heartless now giving her a negative review, but I think I have to. She non-responded to all my emails, which were sent after her store had reopened (she closed/didn't take new orders for much of December). Even if you are behind, a 3 minute email explaining would have done wonders (and you clearly can write emails as your novel of an apology attests). I wouldn't be disgruntled had I received a new time estimate. She could have written a quick form email and sent it to all her waiting customers - and clearly it was necessary.

Because this review just showed up in her shop:
I placed my order November 30, 2011 and paid for this ring. It is now Feb. 6, 2012. I have yet to receive this ring for my husband and I have yet to receive a reply to my emails on when I can expect this order to ship. I was told back in December it would ship within 5 days. My husband really loves this ring and I was really hoping to have it by now.
Worst customer service experience I've had in a long time. And I imagine the ring is going to be beautiful. I guess this is a lesson many people never learn: no matter how good you are at your job or the quality of work, if you don't sell it/treat people well, you may as well be producing crap.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I have figured something out about myself - there is a very big difference between being creative and making things. I very much love to make things - but I need patterns. I cannot pick up yarn and suddenly have a hat - I need to be told how to do it. I am a maker, not a creator. I think, 5 years ago, I would have balked at this. But now? It fits, I love the distinction. And I can stop pressuring myself to be a creative type. I'm crafty, not arty.

In my sewing class (First Time Sewing at Lill) we are making a messenger bag/purse thing. So far I've learned a bunch of different seams/hems (rolled, french, straight, blind), learned how a machine works and cut out 16 pieces of bag from fabric of my choosing.
Piles of cut fabric on the right, sewn fabric on the left
The only bit of productive sewing (besides trying out all those seams and hems) I've done so far is to sew the pockets. And really, I just prepared the pockets to be sewn on to the bag (they are just flat pockets, but lined on both sides).

Here are my rectangles! Grey corduroy on one side, green pattern on the other.
At this point, I love this class.  Even though I spent three hours tracing, cutting and then measuring/marking hems on these pieces, it was my kind of three hours. I think I might be a sewer.  Seamstress seems too formal/skilled for what I'm doing, but sewer? No, I am not a place where dirty water/poop collects.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Back in December, loml and I got engaged. We picked out the ring together but he surprised me with a real Christmas tree and a ring under it. To be completely fair, I was in a super crabby mood that day and had been a bitch to him all night. And then when I saw the tree and got the ring, I danced around like a little kid. I'm so excited to officially be signing up for the long term with loml. And even just typing that makes me smirk - what a fitting nickname that has turned out to be...love of my life.

I want to be better about posting in the new year, but I clearly can't give myself deadlines or make promises to myself about how often (as you can see from my two New Years Day posts and nothing since). So I'll just promise to try.

I'm currently working, working out regularly, taking a sewing class and planning a wedding. There hasn't been as much down time as I had hoped...2012 starting off busy!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

20 done, 12 to go.

From curious doodles, screen printed tea towel do-it-yourself embroidery kit