Peeks

Thank you all for your anniversary wishes.  I’ll have you know I spent my ninth anniversary at the dentist and didn’t see Luke at all.  But still, romantic anniversary or not, nine years is nothing to sniff at!

I am busy, busy, busy at the moment and have no time to really update, but I didn’t want another week to go by without dropping in to say hello.  Here are a few peeks at what I’m working on and what’s going on around my house lately.

knitting Christmas gifts

someone is pouty and covered in dirt

some awesome salsa I canned the other night

a skirt in progress

Have a great long weekend everyone!

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Cash Flow

I don’t have a problem with money, I am just plain mystified by it.  I’m not a big spender, I don’t have any credit card bills, but some weeks I get paid and two days later I’m out of spending money. Poof! Where did it go?  I’ve tried all of the usual tricks: I track my bank accounts with a program on my iPod and categorize each transaction.  The I can sort things by transaction and see where my money is going.  But that only tells me that I spend a lot on groceries and electricity.  It never really got me to think about the things I buy.

I’m not a fan of using cash; I’m very much in love with my debit card.  Having cash is very novel to me and frankly scary.  What if I drop it?  What if my purse is stolen? What if I accidentally leave it in the public bathroom like I did that one time (when I was like, eight) in Washington DC?  That was terrible! Cash makes me neurotic and I do not like it.

But the other day I saw a post by my blog-friend Heather that, for some reason, struck me.  She was making beautiful, hand-stamped cash budget pouches with labels like “groceries” and “dining out”.  Somehow this system seemed different to me and I was inspired to give it a try.  I talked to Heather at the Farmers’ Market and she was sweet enough not to even bat an eye when I mentioned making a set of my own pouches when I should have been buying them from her and she told me to let her know what I thought of them.

I think they’re magical.

Seriously.  If the me from last week were to read this, she’d roll her eyes and say bla, bla, bla… everyone says you value your money more when you have cash, everyone says you think twice about what you’re going to buy when you’re spending cash, etc, etc.  But the me from this week is here to tell you, surprisingly, it’s true.

I’ve tried spending cash before and it seems to just woosh its way out of my wallet without me realizing it.  Cash from the ATM for day trip to shop and enjoy lunch with my mom?  It pries open my purse and flies away while I’m not looking.  But this time was different because it wasn’t just some cash.  It was ALL of my cash.  It was like a treasure chest that I had to tote around and guard, and guard it, I did.  I was terrified of spending any of it.

Instead of the usual $100 I spend at the grocery store each week, I spent $54 this week.  Instead of buying two skirts and a top at Old Navy and blowing through my clothing allowance, I just got one skirt.  Do I want to stop at Starbucks?  I don’t know, I only have $9 of  “Eating Out” money left until next Friday’s payday.  THIS IS SO WEIRD, I know.

I’m still nervous about having enough money and whether or not I left enough in my checking account for the bills that are automatically withdrawn, but it has been wonderful to not have receipts that need to be entered into my checkbook program or worries that I’m spending too much.  Because I can’t!  I only have so much cash and once that’s gone, I’m out till next payday.

It’s only been a week, but I’m already seeing a change in my spending and I’m hoping that this will continue.  So thank you, Heather, for inspiring me.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress (or regress) into the world of cash.

Everlasting Aquarium

Do you have a friend who just can’t keep her fish alive, no matter how hard she tries?  A friend who probably has a WANTED poster tacked up at the back of the aquatic area of every pet store in Connecticut?  A friend who wants to have fish but keeps mysteriously losing the ones she buys?  If you have a friend like this, have I got the perfect solution!  The everlasting, impossible to kill, no tank-cleaning required tropical aquarium.

A while back I had seen this post on Purl Bee about making magnetic, felt fish and it caught my eye.  I bookmarked it and went back a few times to look at it, then one day while trying to decide what to make a certain friend (cough!Paula) for her birthday, it hit me!  Fish that won’t die!

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Some people have bad luck with houseplants, others have bad luck with fish.  This friend is one of these people.  No matter what she does for them, her fish keep croaking and I didn’t want her to get discouraged about losing so many fish so I thought I’d just give her a few that would never go belly up.

Each fish is made with layers of felt sewn together with a magnet sandwiched inside.  My handy-dandy husband cut out a piece of steel in the shape of a tank and I spray-painted it a nice shade of tropical blue.  I added some plants and a few rocks and, ta-da!  An everlasting aquarium!  Never again feel the pain of flushing a dead fish or feel shame when entering the fish store.  My friend (cough!Paula) can move the fish around and rearrange the tank and – even better – never worry about leaving these fish alone when she goes on vacation.  Pretty neat, huh?

Happy Birthday, Paula.  I hope you don’t mind that I told the Internet that you’re a fish-killer.  Oops, did I say that?

Made

I finally got around to taking pictures of some of the things I’ve been sewing lately.  First up, hot off the presses (er… sewing machine) the Weekend Away Travel Bag from Heather Ross’s Weekend Sewing book.

Putting the bag together, I kept reading the pattern over and over because it just seemed counter intuitive to sew the outer and inner pieces of the bag together before assembling the bag, but now that I’ve put it together, it makes total sense and makes for a nice, neat bag.  I see plenty of these bags in my near future.

Next is, possibly, my favorite thing I’ve ever made.  The I’ll Have One of Everything bag from Anna Maria Horner’s Seams To Me book.  I cannot tell you how proud I am of this bag, I’m not even a little humble about it.  Even my sister said with surprise, “you made this?”  The pattern was so easy to follow – the hardest part was picking out the fabrics – and I followed the pattern ALMOST completely.

The pattern called for casual, braided fabric strips but I went for black canvas straps instead.  Also, the pattern called for the sides of the bag to be sewn up almost to the middle where the shoulder straps are.  I wanted a more open bag so I made some 1/2-inch bias tape and just covered the raw ends of the fabric.  Then I added ties to the sides made from the same bias tape.  It’s just enough to keep the bag closed and I like the look of the loose ties.  I made two big pockets inside for my phone and keys and it’s just the most perfect bag ever.  The funny thing is that if you looked inside of it, the only thing in there is my wallet.  A nice, big bag for my little, empty wallet.

Lastly, another Taxi Tote from the same Seams To Me book.  I struggled a bit with the first one I made, but then it turned out to be a fantastic bag for carrying everything and I decided that my sister needed one, too.  The second time following the patter was MUCH easier and I whipped up the bag in record time.

Planning Ahead

This week we got a few big steps step closer to our St. Martin dream vacation.  I bought a new bathing suit, Luke confirmed that he had the week we wanted off from work, and the call was placed to reserve the condo.  Eeeeee!!!

I’m still trying to calm myself an not get too excited because there are still several dangling threads attached to this vacation that could unravel at any moment. Until all of those lose ends are tied up, I’m still saying that we *might* be going to St. Martin in October. MIGHT.

In the event that we *might* go, here are a few of the things I’ve decided I need to make for our potential vacation.

caboThe Amy Butler Cabo Halter:

Here’s a beautiful one on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/14437252@N04/3419877074/

And another (I love this fabric): http://www.flickr.com/photos/amyandthomas/1850130148/

And one turned into a dress – BRILLIANT! http://www.flickr.com/photos/bradyphrenia/514168583/

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The Amy Butler Weekender Bag:weekender-bag

I love this bag. I’m not sure I have strong enough sewing skills to tackle the pattern.  From what I’ve read, it’s not the easiest, but I love it so much.

Look at this gorgeous one: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8274460@N06/3068411649/

And this one! This is my favorite new Anna Maria Horner fabric (drool, drool): http://www.flickr.com/photos/quietlygoingmad4/3263273817/

OK, one more, this is how mine might look on the beach in St. Martin: http://www.flickr.com/photos/14101877@N02/1435950260/

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large_027-blue-skies-hatsThe Amy Butler Blue Sky Sun Hat:

I have some white light denim material that I’ve been holding onto thinking that it might make a nice sun hat.  Although all of these fabric patterns are so pretty, maybe I’ll have to make a few.

Oh look, here’s one in my favorite apple and pear fabric: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mom2gr8kids/2438234565/

And again, how it will look on the beach: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9019314@N08/2675341092/

The hat even looks good on a labradoodle: http://www.flickr.com/photos/craftydogma/2341890821/in/set-72157604146162369/

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Amy Butler may have to sponsor my vacation after all that.  I’m not sure what I’ll get to, I think I’ll make the hat(s) first, then maybe the halter.  I even considered making my own bathing suit the other day.  We’ll see about that.  Stay tuned for more vacation-fueled delusions of sewing grandeur.

Mama’s Got a Brand New Bag

Yes, I did just call myself “Mama” but only for effect, you know, as in “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”.  I’m not actually a mama.  I feel the need to get that cleared up before anyone (hi Mom!) gets their hopes up.

Check it out!  Cute, right?  I made it.  Did too.  Really.  In just over one movie.  This seems to be my measure of time when sewing.  I can make a bag in two episodes of House or one viewing of Stardust including the deleted scenes.  I actually did watch Stardust while making this bag.  I love that movie.  Have you seen it?  I seem to fall hard for the fairy-tales-for-grown-ups-type movies.

Anyhow, my bag!  Do you love it?  The strap is just the right length and it hangs perfectly on my shoulder.  I love it.  It’s puckered funny in this picture because it has my brick of a phone and my iPod in it and they’re pulling on the magnetic clasp.  It’s actually too big for me since all I carry are my phone and iPod and a little credit card holder, but I’m thinking of making a much bigger version for all of those large bag-lovers out there.  What do you think?