31 May 2008

this weekend's big scores

It was a busy garage sale weekend here, as the weather was actually sunny instead of rainy and cold. I didn't have enough time, money or space in my house to really take advantage of some of the bargains this weekend, but I did come across some great finds.

Stack of vintage kids books - $1

Baby clothes and shoes - $5 (check out those fabulous baby boots, furry lining, never worn)

Sweet poker set for the hubby - $4

All in all a successful weekend...

30 May 2008

big baby belly

Last weekend, we went out to our friend Lisa's house and got some good documentation of this belly I have grown. Despite the fact that it prohibits a great night's sleep and is often the obstacle when i try to pick up my dropped keys, I am pretty proud of my tummy. It is like a beach ball tucked into my short little torso. The husband thinks its funny that you can't see anything from the back and then I turn to the side and, "boom" big belly. I wanted to show off before it's gone, which could be any day now. So, check out this tummy...

29 May 2008

share the handmade love

I have always been a big proponent of handmade gifts, either things I have made myself or things that I have bought from other crafty mavens. I would much rather give something small, personalized and handmade then the most elaborate, commercially-made tchotchke that someone will use twice and forget about. When I am making a gift for someone, I feel a really strong connection to that person. I am thinking about them specifically, their favorite colors, activities, etc. Some of my favorite baby gifts have been handmade items from friends and family, blankets, a cradle made by hubby's great-grandpa, clothing, toys, etc.

Last year, I had a hard time getting anything made for anyone for the holidays, but this year, I am getting an early start and that, along with no morning sickness, should make things go a little more smoothly. But in case I don't get as much done as I hope to, I plan to buy more homemade gifts this year too, instead of hitting Target or Ross for those last minute finds.

That's why, even though I am behind just a bit, I was excited to find buyhandmade.org. Here you can take the pledge along with almost 20,000 others (I am #19,446) to buy handmade gifts more often and to recognize the importance of supporting crafters in our own communities and beyond. You can also get a snazzy web button to add to your blog or website, like the one at the right.

So get yourself over there, join the masses of handmade-loving folks and get your craft on this year!

27 May 2008

sew stylish

I am leaving for my final Intro to Sewing class. Every week, I plan to bring my camera to document the process and everytime I forget, but not this time (she says with steely resolve, even though her camera still sits on the desk rather then in her bag).

This class has been so completely amazing and worth way more then the $70 we paid for the 8 weeks. Everything has been so basic, but craft-altering at the same time. Little things like which way the bobbin should spin in the case, cutting a straight piece of fabric, different types of basic seams, zippers, button holes, wonderful, wonderful sewing basics.

I have been looking for some fun patterns and came across the Burda Style site. They have some really fabulous patterns, along with pictures of things people have made using the patterns. There are about a dozen things that I want to make. Here's a few:

(Sailor in Burmuda)

All photos from the Burda Style Website

24 May 2008

This weekend's big score...

It has been awhile, but the garage sale season is in full swing, despite the torrential rain. We went out today on a yard sale venture that was not the most successful, but okay. We did get two wheely carts for our golf clubs, which I appreciate now at 9 months gigantic.

The big score of the weekend was a bunch of vintage fabric for... drumroll please...$1. yes, four shiny quarters. It was sweet. They are all pretty small pieces, but some really great fabrics. A lot of them will make some really cute baby clothes or toys. Check out the spread...

20 May 2008

Being green without wasting the green...

I got an email from Domino magazine this morning, asking me to take their latest survey. I love on-line surveys and I always find theirs interesting. Today's survey was about their "green" magazine issues (March 07 and 08). Now, don't get me wrong, I love Domino, I read every issue cover to cover, save them all to look back at later. But... I really have a hard time with expensive, eco-chic design. In my mind, economic frivolity cannot go hand in hand with and truly eco-conscious lifestyle. I understand that there are a plethora of people out there who can spend $5000 on some crazy, under-the-sink composting system in designer stainless, but that doesn't mean they should.

Erinn over at the happy living blog posted about this same issue a while ago and the article she cited along with her comments really resonated with me. We need to make better economic choices, not just better environmental choices. I left comments along these lines for domino at the end of their survey. I don't expect them to show up as part of a new corporate mantra, but I really hope somebody reads them and takes note...

19 May 2008

moving on up...almost

So, I promised this post weeks ago, but my ability to do it all has been severely compromised lately. (more on that later) Back in February, we put our little cottage on the market in an effort to get into something bigger before baby. We had done a lot of work since we bought it 2 years ago, but there were still a few outstanding (unfinished/half-finished) projects that we thought we might be able to skip out on. So, we put it on the market, knowing that it may not sell, but casting our lot anyway. Now, I am generally of the thought process that things happen for a reason and if it is meant to work out it will. This line of thinking usually keeps me from stressing too much or becoming overwhelmed by major life changes.

This time, probably partially due to the hormones of pregnancy, I was not really able to maintain the peace and serenity I have in the past. Over the course of 2 and a half months we had over 50 buyers look at our house and not one offer, which is just insane!! Aside from some of the obvious flaws (really small, yucky cabinets) most of the feedback was positive (cute, great location, nice yard, good first house) and there were a few hints at offers, but nothing ever came through. Meanwhile, we had found a possible new home and had an offer in, pending our successful sale. Finally, a week before our drop-dead deadline for pulling it off the market(I did not want to be packing and moving at 9 months gigantic), an offer came in. Young couple, first house, very excited, seemed like destiny. We had a 3 week closing deadline and no worries from our agent or theirs. I was collecting boxes, keeping a list of friends and family that offered to help move, making lists of things that would need to be done in the new house right away. we were moving right along. Then (you all know what's coming) without any warning (even their agent was totally blindsided) they pulled out. That was it, done.

My "if it's meant to be" philosophy flew right out the window. I was completely devastated fora few days. The new house wasn't even our dream house, just what seemed to be a much better option for us. We would have had a room for the baby, an office and a guest room and they wouldn't be all in one room. A roomy "manroom" in the basement could house all the Playstation, big screen, ESPN, Rocky posters and Cubs/Budweiser mirrors that my husband could hope and dream for. The yard was large and open, the neighborhood great. We would even be within walking distance of some of our best friends. We were even looking forward to, or at least not worried about the flaws: brown shag carpet, fake paneled walls, roof in need of replacement and neglected hardwood floors.

Then suddenly we had to shift gears. I had a few days of really hating our little house, and that isn't normal, because I really like this house a lot. But it had become a stumbling block and barrier.

But that passed, my parents rallied and came to help us do some much needed remodeling to the floor plan (the bathroom door was in the second bedroom), and we have started to do a few other projects that I think will make it much more saleable when we put it back on the market later this summer. This weekend we cleaned and reorganized, the sun was out, the old maples in our yard leafed out and the flowers were coming up everywhere. Everything felt a little less dramatic and the baby even has a room. So, that is the big update... here are some lovely demo/remodeling photos for you to admire. Finished product pictures in the next few weeks.

(This is how you used to get into the bathroom. The door on the right is the original bathroom door and the opening on the left used to be the door to the closet for this bedroom. The opening beyond that is the new bathroom door. We absorbed the old closet into the bathroom.)

(Here are my parents. My dad is inside the old closet and my mom is in the second bedroom. Champer is checking out the tools. All of those white glares are from all of the dust in the air from cutting out the sheetrock.)

(After making a new entry from the living room, we took out the two old doors and sheetrocked over that whole wall. I was the mudder and taper for most of the weekend.)

(Here is a shot of the bathroom after most of the basic work is done. On the right is the wall where the old doors used to be. The front of the bathroom is where the closet used to be. We took out the big ugly old vanity and put in a pedestal sink just inside the door on the left. As you can see, everything is covered with a lovely layer of sheetrock and mud dust.)

(Finally, the state of our living room for the weekend. These conditions persisted in a less extreme state for the last two weeks as we finished the mudding and taping and textured the walls. We finally finished that, painted and tiled the bathroom floor so that we could really clean everything up. I was so excited for the chaos to end.)

06 May 2008

A legacy

So, because I have neglected this blog for so long and because so much has changed and unchanged in a month, I feel like I should start out with a completely different post... But I am going to save that post for a different day, hopefully this week. (Lots and lots of homemaking goodies to post about)

Here is what is really on my mind today. I have a built-in shelf in our bedroom that is filled to the brim with books, color coordinated and arranged. They definitely look good, but they are also treasures of mine. Books I have read over and over, books that defined different life phases, books that have traveled with me, books that remind me of many different homes along the way.

I have been a reader, as long as I can remember. My dad reads all of the time and I take after him in this, although we tend to read very different books. His choices are western history, mostly non-fiction, and cleverly told real-life stories with a sense of humor. Of course there is some irreverent cowboy poetry thrown in for flavor. My choices novels, some award winning and others just mindless escapism. I grew up reading fantasy and fairy tales, stories of strong women and adventure tales.

Even though our tastes are so divergent, the commonality lies in the reasons we read. We both love books, the feel of a well-bound tome in your hands, the words that paint pictures of times and places that may or may not have existed. In high school, I struggled for a time with chronic insomnia, which my dad has dealt with as long as I have known him. We both read late into the night to pass the time and hopefully lull ourselves into sleep. I remember one night, during a big wind storm, the power went out at about 3am. Dad and I collided in the hall trying to get to the flashlights so we could finish our respective books.

I also have a hard time parting with books that I love and have held tightly to past firsts and favorites; The Lily of the Field (first truly grown-up book I read), The Butterfly and the Diving Bell (given to me by a stranger on a plane during my post-college trip to Europe, who encouraged me to pass along an already completed book in my bag to someone else), The Hero and the Crown (my favorite book since junior high, always reminding me of the hidden strengths and uniqueness in myself), Green Eggs and Ham (which I could recite before I could read). These books are like old friends that remember who you were before you were where you are now.

Today, I was going through that shelf to pull of a few children's books that I have carried with me for several years to put in the babies room. As I started to pull down the obvious choices, I kept pulling down more and more. Many of them completely inappropriate for a newborn child. Two or three copies of the complete works of Lewis Carroll, a vintage copy of Pollyanna, a complete set of Louisa May Alcott, a beautifully illustrated copy of Romeo and Juliet, a worn copy of Spilling Open by Sabrina Ward Harrison. All I could think was that I had to share all of these treasures with this little bean in my belly. I wanted her to visit all of the wonderful places that books had taken me and know all of the fascinating characters I had met along the way. The urgency to pass these on, to immerse her in them was overwhelming.

I am still not certain which books I will keep on my shelves and which I will move to hers, but I really hope that we read them together someday, that she steals these and others off my shelves to pass a rainy day and that we talk about them when she is older. That will be one of my legacies, a family heirloom of sorts.