vertical blinds

I’m really not crazy about vertical blinds. It seems like every house and apartment I’ve lived in has had either vertical blinds or the regular skinny little horizontal plastic blinds. I hate all of these. I want curtains. I want plantation shutters. I want a home of my own that I can decorate.

There are so many cool options these days. Not just for blinds, but for cool drapery poles with fun finials. As I get better at sewing, I hope I’m acquiring the skills needed to create some custom draperies for our home. One day we’ll have our own, and I’m going to make it nice. With no vertical blinds.

Fear of fire

I now have a serious fear of fire. Add that to the list that previously only included escalators and being caught without my glasses, and I’m turning into a scaredy cat. These wildfires really did a number on me. We were so lucky – only one fire even came close to us, and they put it out in an hour.

I’m not sure if this is insensitive to make this comparison, but as I’ve been watching the news the last two weeks – which have been nothing but fire coverage, I’ve felt the same way I did after 9/11 and Katrina. That feeling of helplessness and sadness. I’m so sad for the people that lost their homes. I’m so concerned about the firefighters that have been (essentially) working non-stop.

The only thing I’m grateful for is that there is no arbitrary country to blame and go to war with. But it is crazy that many of the fires were started by arsonists. What kind of depraved person does that?

Anyway, I’d like to just escape. Stay in a beautiful place, like in one of those Pigeon Forge cabins. That would be nice. But maybe not exactly fire-proof :) Good thing our vacation is next week!

Craft Book Reviews

(For my book count, these books are #59-#63. I wasn’t sure whether I should count them in my goal towards 100 books for the year, but since I’ve read them cover to cover more than once, I figured they should count.)

I love pattern books.The easier the pattern, the better the book! So here are a few of my favorites, if you’re interested in sewing and quilting, check them out.

Bending the Rules on AmazonThis first book, Bend-the-Rules Sewing: The Essential Guide to a Whole New Way to Sew
by Amy Karol, is awesome for the beginning seamstress. I’ve already made two of the purses in here. The directions are really easy to follow, the patterns are easy to cut out. There’s lots of room for personal interpretation, but Amy also provides everything you need if you want to create exactly what she’s made. Fun project, great gift ideas – I really really recommend this book. The author has a super cool blog called Angry Chicken, and she’s also set up a fun flickr group where people post the projects they’ve made from the book. These photos are great for inspiration, color options, ect. [rating:5]

Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted GiftsNext is Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts
by Joelle Hoverson (Author), Anna Williams (Photographer). Again, I seriously love this book. I’ve already made a bunch of those sweet birds on the cover filled with bells and catnip. I’ve also made the coasters and I’m working on a pin cushion. Super easy instructions, great patterns, GORGEOUS projects and photos. I love love love this book. The author also has a great blog called the PurlBee and an online shop called PurlSoho. Definitely check them out. I actually found this book through another blog, Wee Wonderfuls – written by the designer of the sweet little elephant, Wee Peanut, in the book. [rating:5]

In StichesNext is Amy Butler’s In Stitches: More Than 25 Simple and Stylish Sewing Projects
by Amy Butler (Author), Colin McGuire (Photographer). I won’t lie, I haven’t made anything from this book yet. Her patterns, instructions, and materials lists are more involved than the first two books. I feel like I’m not quite to this level. HOWEVER, I love the projects – the book is gorgeous, and I look forward to the day that I master the patterns. If you’re a seasoned quilter or sewer and you’re looking for some cool projects for your home, I highly recommend this book. I wouldn’t recommend it for brand new sewers – although I’m sure smarter people than me could handle the challenges just fine. [rating:4]

Denyse Schmidt QuiltsNext is Denyse Schmidt Quilts: 30 Colorful Quilt and Patchwork Projects
by Denyse Schmidt (Author), Bethany Lyttle (Author). Again, I love love love this book. I’ve made one of the quilts (top left, orange and white pattern), and it was very simple. I even changed the pattern to fit a little better to the fabric I had on hand and it was no problem. I’ve seen a few of her quilts for sale in other places like Anthropologie and in the Sundance catalog and they were ridiculously expensive. I was excited because I already had the patterns, and I can make them myself! The projects really range from super-beginner to a little more seasoned, so I think this is a book for every level. Highly recommended! [rating:5]

amy butler's midwest modernFinally, Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern: A Fresh Design Spirit for the Modern Lifestyle
by Amy Butler (Author), David Butler (Photographer).

This one is really more of a coffee table book, although it does have one pattern in it. Still, it’s gorgeous. Her sense of style and her fabric designs are awesome. I was a little disappointed that the book only has one pattern, but it was nice to get a peek into her life, design mentality and creative process. It’s amazing how many talented, inspired people there are out there – and she’s definitely one of them. [rating:4]

Hope you found those reviews helpful – now stop reading and get sewing!

Sustainable Christmas

Trying to live green? I know we are, and it’s not always easy. I’ve been looking for some different ideas and best practices, and here are a few ideas:

Reuse wrapping paper, gift boxes and gift bags. If the paper is too wrinkled, use it as packing material to pad your presents. Doesn’t that sound festive? Use other things for wrapping paper – like newspaper or fabric. Ask department stores for their gift boxes, and then don’t wrap them at all. Have your kids color on them. Or cover them with Christmas stamps (like rubber stamps) or stickers.

I have this big coloring/painting pad that my almost-two year old colors in. I tear out the used pages and use them as wrapping paper. Let’s face it, he’s really just scribbling, so I’m not going to save every sheet in a scrapbook, and this is a nice treat for the grandparents.

The biggest point here is to try to reuse anything you can, and to be sure to recycle any paper products you receive.

This year, save the holiday cards you receive, and then cut their covers off, and reattach them to cardstock to make your own cards. You could get really creative here by cutting out specific shapes or words and attaching them to the cardstock with dimension dot stickers, paint on them, add glitter, etc. I think that would be a fun project for kids.

I read an article on treehugger.com about how plastic Christmas trees can be harmful because they are generally made of some sort of plastic that is dangerous and harmful to create, and they leach toxins after a while. They recommend getting live trees from sustainable growers.

Finally, there are new options for Christmas lights available. LED Christmas lights use 80-90% less energy than incandescent lights and can be reused year after year. They really should be a part of any sustainable holiday celebration. Now, you can find LED Christmas tree lights, Warm white LED Christmas lights and Outdoor LED Christmas lights.

We can all reduce our carbon footprint a little. The holidays are a great time to start. For more ideas, check out this article:9 Things You Can Do to Make Your Holiday Greener.

I am the cure

Last Sunday, I walked in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. My friends and family donated money, and together, we raised $166 for the Komen foundation! I had grand ideas of running the 5k – which I feel is well within my capabilities, but I’ve been battling some kind of crazy flu/sinus disaster, and it just wasn’t happening. But with pocket full of cough drops and some bottled water, I walked it just fine.

This leads me to my real point. I feel like I’m never going to lose any weight. I am so unmotivated about it. I go to the gym basically so I can keep eating what I want. This is not the formula for weight loss. I care, but I don’t. I care enough to keep going to the gym. But I don’t care enough to not eat pumpkin pie. I LOVE pumpkin pie. I use Cool Whip light on top – that helps, right?

Anyway, my dad gave me some hoodia – weight loss pills. I think they are an appetite suppressant. But, I can’t take them because it says don’t take if you’re CONSIDERING getting pregnant. That’s ominous, right? I’ve also got some hydroxycut, but haven’t taken it for the same reason.

I do want to lose weight before I get pregnant again. But I love the pumpkin pie. And mashed potatoes. And ramen noodles. I mean, really.

Perfection

I just got home from JoAnns fabric, where I had somewhat of a run in with this mean woman. I was at the register, trying to get the cashier to honor my 50% off coupon, while she was explaining that if I wanted to use it for cut fabric, I needed the fabric cutting ladies way in the back of the store to put it on my fabric slip. Blah blah blah, so while I’m discussing the fairness of this with her, my son is (for the most part) staying right next to me. He takes two steps into the aisle and almost gets mowed down by a woman pushing a shopping cart. I give a loud, sharp intake of breath as I grab my son’s arm and yank him towards me and safety. He starts to cry because I scared him.

I tell the cashier I’ll use the coupon another day and to just wrap things up. She apologizes and launches into a story about the JoAnns she worked at in Montana or whatever and meanwhile, my son is acting a little inconsolable. While I’m talking to him, trying to calm him down, I say how nice that lady was for stopping and what good reflexes she had and then I say how thankful we are to her. She’s within earshot. I then hear her say, “if you restrained him, that wouldn’t happen.”

What?

So I tell her, “wow, what a judgmental thing to say. You must be perfect in every way to make a pronouncement like that. Thank you so much for the helpful advice.”

Perhaps they should hand out trophies to all those helpful people at the JoAnns.

Sheesh.

Where’s my extinguisher?!

Man, fire is scary. So far, it hasn’t come knocking on our door, but say a prayer for my SoCal neighbors. And donate a little change to Red Cross, there’s a million displaced people here so far.

Useful Links:

Fire Map courtesy of KPBS

Red Cross Wildfire Safety site

NukeFree.org

We have to be vigilant. Even if distrust of our politicians is pervasive, we’re not powerless. It’s easier than ever to write your Representatives and your Senators. Don’t wait.

How sad that anyone would allow a blank check for something as unproven as nuclear energy, when SCHIP fails again. Don’t let it happen.

Take Action:

  • Sign the No Nukes petition by October 22!
  • Contact your Representatives here. Urge them to “REMOVE THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY LOAN GUARANTEES FROM THE PENDING ENERGY BILL.”
  • Contact your Senators here. Urge them to “REMOVE THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY LOAN GUARANTEES FROM THE PENDING ENERGY BILL.”

BTW, Bonnie Raitt wails. She’s freakin’ awesome.

The nicest compliment

There is one blog that I love above all others. It’s called Breakdown in the Fastlane, and it’s hysterical, sad, thought-provoking, moving, and everything else that good writing can be. I read lots and lots of blogs, and there are many that I return to (like Deborah’s and Allison’s), but I read Lin’s the most regularly and with relish.

So when she left me this compliment the other day, I felt that I needed to take a little time to really savor it. I know she visits my blog, because she often leaves her little bits of wit for me. But to think she would go so far as to recommend my little blog to someone else. It’s the height of happiness for me.

Thanks for the kind words, Lin!

Credit Cards

I know the rules. I see the problems. But I can’t seem to break the cycle. We pay them all off, we run them back up, we pay them off, etc. It sure is a slippery slope. Mostly because we’re not saving what we should. If we had less credit card payments, we could save more. Balance transfers and other tactics allow you to save on interest, if you do it right, but they’re just a band aid.

Clearly, spending is the big issue. My husband and I are both impulse buyers with very little use for delayed gratification.

If you’re looking to build credit, it pays to research your options. I like Suze Orman’s books. It also pays to look for best buy credit cards, or cards that offer the best deals. This might seem obvious, but I know lots of people with credit cards high APRs and annual fees. Why? Who knows?

I hope to break this trend with our son. I want him to know all about credit cards and the importance of saving long before he gets to college and everyone and their brother offer him a line of credit. We hope they won’t make the same mistakes we have, but I see that I’m in the same boat as my parents, so what gives?