Saturday, December 12, 2009

The 8 O Clock Frock GROSGRAIN GIVEAWAY!!!!

The 8 O Clock Frock GROSGRAIN GIVEAWAY!!!!

I have recently discovered Grosgrain.... and I am in total awe of her sewing abilities. She makes me want to learn to sew clothes, like really really sew clothes. You know what else it great? She often gives away her beautiful creations.... you should check her out!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Re-Post for the Holidays

I'm re-posting this from last year because, well, I've already used this trick this season and I think it bears repeating in case you missed it.

Since the holidays are approaching, I thought I'd share one of my favorite grift-wrapping tricks. I learned this when I worked retail... a real budget saver when you offer free gift wrap because you can use half as many boxes! I am much better at showing than explaining so you can find lots of pictures with instructions here. You'll see how I can turn one half of a shirt box (because I'm always losing or ruining half) into a usable gift box with a little bit of folding and a couple of snips. This is my first go at a sort of tutorial, so if the instructions aren't clear just let me know.
Go from this:
to this:

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tree Pickin'

One of my favorite family traditions is picking out a live Christmas tree. As a kid, some years we went to a local tree farm and other years we picked one from our own farm.
Since the latter isn't an option for us up here, we go to a great little tree farm in Goobertown, AR (Yep, that's really the town's name.) There's hot chocolate, lots of trees, and fresh roasted peanuts. And here is Taylor with our tree. She named it Mrs. Clause.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sweet Dreams Butterfly

"Sweet Dreams Butterfly" has always been a part of our bedtime ritual.
I hope she'll cherish this pillow forever... I will.

The embroidery pattern is by Vol.25 stitched with variegated thread.

Holiday Baking

I am oh so happy that the holiday baking season is here... like I need an excuse to bake. It's just that now I do so without guilt because we all know that calories consumed during the holidays don't count, right? Besides, with two weeks off from school Taylor and I have to fill the chilly days somehow. I've been bookmarking recipes all week so that we have plenty of new ones to try. And the warmth from the oven keeps the house's heater from working so hard.
See? It's the just right thing to do.
I don't really have any cherished family recipes or baking traditions from my childhood really, so Taylor and I are making our own. It just so happens that Santa and I share a favorite cookie... crispy oatmeal chocolate chip. We make these fresh on Christmas Eve because Santa also loves them warm from the oven. (I coulda sworn I had a picture of us baking them together, but I guess not. You get this cute picture from baking 4th of July sugar cookies instead :)

Anyway, I thought I'd share the recipe with you all.

First Mixture:
1 c butter 2 eggs 1 tsp vanilla
1 c granulated sugar 1c brown sugar

Second Mixture:
2 c flour 1/2 tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp salt

Sift together and add to the first mixture.
Add 1c quick cooking oats and 1c chocolate chips (or anything else you'd like in there, like nuts).

Mix together and drop by spoonfuls on a greased baking sheet (important because these are thin and can stick really easily). Bake at 350 for about 8 minutes.

There you have it... easy peasy!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Fabric Garland/Advent... with Tutorial

This year, I decided that we'd countdown to Christmas a little different.... without spending any money! I love, love fabric garlands so I thought that I would incorporate that idea into an advent calendar type thing. I made 25 links, put them in a pretty glass vase, and each day in December one link will get added until it looks like the picture above. I figured out that by the end of the second week, the chain will be long enough to drape nicely. Until then, they will just snake along the mantle.

If you'd like to make your own, here's what I did.

You'll need:
-(25) 4.5 x 12.5 in. pieces of fabric (I went with random scraps, but you could be more coordinated if you are so inclined.)
-(25) buttons (I let my daughter rummage through the buttons and pick them out.... shear 5 yr old girl heaven!)
-You could use a light interfacing if you want, but I didn't.... just starched them well instead.
-Your basics - needle, thread, scissors, rotary cutter, ruler

Once you get your fabric pieces all cut out, iron them in half lengthwise, right-sides together. Then, with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, sew up the long edge and one of the short sides. Clip the corner and trip the seam allowance. You've made a tube that looks like this:

Then, carefully turn your tube inside out. Be careful about using pointy things when turning, you don't want to poke a hole in your fabric. Once they are right side out, iron them well. To finish the other end, turn the raw edges in about a 1/2 inch and press. Use a teeny seam allowance to close it up. (hint: Start stitching on the folded side instead of the seam side. My machine likes it much better that way.)

Now here is where I had to really overcome a major fear.... buttonholes. If I can do it, so can you! Mine are not perfectly perfect by any means, but they work (glad my machine has good instructions). Here's one before I opened it up. See, not so perfect. I put the buttonholes on the "pretty" end, the one without machine stitching because that is the side you are going to see when you button them up.

Once you have that done, all you have to do is sew a button on the other end!.... Easy Peasy!
This entire project took me a few hours. The bulk of the time was spent choosing, cutting, and ironing the fabric.

Happy Holiday Crafting!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanks so a group of students at the local high school vo-tech, you can now find plenty of bike parking in downtown Jonesboro. The kids made 21 of these 2-bike racks and one nice mulit-bike rack and installed them all throughout downtown. The project didn't cost NEABC or the City a dime because the class did this as their community service project. However, as a "Thank-You", we presented the kids with a nice check to help cover their costs when they go to the state welding competition later in the school year. I love that we were able to partner with them! We got great racks, the kids got experience designing and building, and the community gets to see what a great program the vo-tech is.

In other news, I am officially a grad student!! I'll be starting my masters in community development in January.

I've also been a little bit crafty... I can't post pictures because the item I made is for a swap. But, I'll be sure to post once the person gets it. :) I've also been trying learn sock knitting. It is very, very, very slow going. I have about an inch (maybe a little more) done of one cuff. Maybe I'll have the pair finished by summer??

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I love Arkansas

This weekend, a few friends and I took part in the first annual Tour duh Sunkenlands.... a tour through the flat-lands and small museums of Northeast Arkansas. It was a beautiful fall day, although the wind was brutal which is par for a warm November day, the traffic was low, and the company was fantastic. The highlight of the ride was the rest stop at The Painted House Museum (of John Grisham fame). The picture above is the barn where they house the movie memorabilia, and the actual house is next door. The folks there were super happy to have us (as all the stops were). They welcomed us with homemade lemonade and brownies and were just as welcoming as they could be.... but, ya gotta love Arkansas.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's been a great week

I have been in swap heaven this week. I traded lots of fabric and some old inventory for all manner of etsy goodness. I got soap, simple silver earrings, a glass wine stopper, some cute felted acorns, and big ol' batch of note cards. I really should have taken a picture of everything together, but I didn't I'm too lazy to round everything up now. However, I did take pictures from my AREtsy swap gift. I swapped with SimplyStacyJewelry and got these beautiful goodies (Sorry the photos aren't great... I have a whole new appreciation for those who take jewelry photos.):

If all that swappy fun wasn't enough to make for a great week, it was a fabulous week for biking and walking advocacy here. On Tuesday, it was announced that our city would be receiving a $1.7 million grant (largest in the city's history) that will be used to complete the first phase of our greenway!!! This first phase will connect a large park/community center, an intermediate school, elementary school, our one mall, Arkansas State University, a medical center, and historic downtown. It will basically be a linear park for walking and bicycling.
On Thursday, about 50 folks gathered for to take part in a walkability survey of our city where we went out to intersections all over town and evaluated them. It was a very illuminating experience for lots of folks to see just how little pedestrians and cyclists have been considered in past development. The data that was collected is going to be used in a larger presentation to the city which can then be used as a guide for future development.

Oh yeah, I also turned 30... but that was the week before.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Things fall into place

I just got back from a glorious vacation - in two parts. The first was with the mister, little bit, my mama, my little sister, brother in law, and my nephew. We spent four days playing, swimming, reading, lounging, and eating the best seafood ever at Orange Beach, AL. Having my mom and sister there was so great. It really was idyllic... time spent with
my family that will go up there on the best memories ever list.

The second part was just my little clan and it, too, was awesome. After leaving the beach, we headed to Atlanta to take Taylor to the Georgia Aquarium. Not only were the exhibits amazing, we took an almost private behind-the-scenes tour of the shark exhibit. Taylor aspires to be a shark scientist and, boy was this the perfect place for her! We spent well over an hour watching the sharks above (those are 2 of the 4 whale sharks there as well as a giant manta ray).

Ok, so for things falling into place? NEABC got word from the IRS that our application for non-profit status was approved! Yayayay! I got a lovely email from a former professor saying she would be happy to write a letter of recommendation for me and that she was really glad to see all the things I am doing. It may be a little silly, but having her approval really means a lot. I was nervous that she wouldn't even remember me after so long. I also had two other people who I work with enthusiastically say they'd help with letters. And, I was chosen to be featured in Jonesboro Occasions magazine in a segment that focuses on people who give back to the community. Seriously, such an honor.. and such a great thing for my organization.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Back to school?

So, I think I'm going back to school.
Eight years after graduating from college, I now think I've figured out what I want to do with my life. Yay! Going back to school has been on my mind for quite some time, but I hadn't been able to put a finger on what exactly it is that I want to be doing... until now. The work I've been doing with my organization and the interaction I've had with the city government has solidified it for me. I really am passionate about what I do and can actually see myself doing this long term. Wow, I'm saying that out loud!
I've found a few online masters programs (from real live universities) in community development and non-profit organization that look really promising. At this point, online programs are really the only option. Thank goodness for the internet! The application process is making me anxious, though. Reference letters? Ha. Most of the professors I had good contact with have retired or moved on. The GRE? Please no. It may or may not be required, and I'm still waiting to get an answer on that. But really, please no. And then, I have no earthy clue how we're going to pay for it. We'll cross our fingers for good financial aid. Eh, if I were to wait till we can afford it, I'd never go. Oh, the butterflies!

(Oh, the picture up there - Taylor took it. Her Fisher Price tough camera produces the occasional cool image.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sewing for Myself...

I find it really hard to sew for myself. I really wrestle with all the details... color, texture, style, design, etc. I really needed a bag that would hold my work portfolio and laptop, and that would also serve as a good day travel bag (you know, something to keep all the mom stuff). Anyway, this is what I came up with. I went with a messenger style so that I can carry it on the bike. While I really like the way it looks, I'm pretty sure that I'm going to regret the fabric and strap choices. The main fabric is a really heavy linen and the adjustable strap is cotton webbing - certain to look filthy in a hurry. I really should have gone with black webbing, but I didn't have any on hand and that's just how lazy I was that day. See? Doggonit- I really like the bag and I'm still questioning myself! I wonder why it is that I can make stuff for other people without driving myself nuts.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Happy Day!

I am one happy advocate and happy seamstress on the same day!!!

That up there is a picture of one of the very first Share the Road signs ever to go up in Jonesboro, AR. YEEEEEHAW! After lots of drama with the sign maker and with the State of Arkansas, there are now bicycle signs up on one of the most heavily traveled bike routes in town.

And, this is my cute patoot modeling her new sundress. Not a huge challenge as it was a one seam job, but hey, it's something! Her response to the dress was the best... "I look sooo cute, and it's so long that I don't have to worry about showing my underpants!"

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cleaning up

I've been cleaning out closets this week. Yeah, lots of fun. It didn't take long to figure out that we have way too much of too things - fabric and old cycling clothes.
I've been listing fabric in my shop all morning and I still have quite a bit to go. Most of it is newish fabric, but I'll have some vintage listings up at some point. Those are going to be a bear to ship... they are heavy home decor fabrics.
Later today, I'm going to start listing the cycling clothes on ebay. I think it is uber gross to wear used cycling shorts, but people buy them and all I can say is "ewwww".

Monday, June 15, 2009

Taylor's First Triathlon

I'm the proudest mama ever! Taylor completed a triathlon on Sunday and had the time of her life.
Her age group swam 25 feet,
rode 1/4 mile,
and ran 100 yards.
Fortunately, they were allowed to wear a life jacket in the swim and have training wheels for the bike. She was the second girl to finish in her group, but I am most proud of the way she handled the race. She crashed her bike when her training wheel slipped off the wet pavement and scraped her knees, but she got right back up and kept going with a big ol' smile. She also did the race with her bestest buddy and the her first words across the finish line were "H, that was SO MUCH FUN!" I don't think the smile left her face one time (well, maybe just a second when she crashed), but she was in it for the fun. All the kids got a big metal when they crossed the finish line which was way cool. And, the proceeds from the race went to a really great cause: Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation. If you haven't heard of it, check it out.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Is that something crafty????

Oh, yeah it is! That's right, I made something today! And, it happens to be my favorite of all the seat bags I've ever made. My internet pal Kiley asked me if I could come up with something to go with her husband's bike (a beautiful brown/rootbeer color)... and tadaaa! 
Some of you already know that there's a coffee roaster called Kona Cloud in my husband's shop that keeps me stocked with coffee bean sacks. They can be a real bugger to work with, though, because they are super duper lint-y and ravel-y. But, I really wanted to make a seat bag with one, so I figured out how to work around all that. First, before I cut out my pattern, I traced it onto the sack and sewed just inside of that line with my machine.  After I cut out the pattern, I fused a piece of muslin to the backsides. You know, it worked really well and gave the bag some really nice structure. I still didn't want to try that with the smaller pieces where the zipper is, so I just used black canvas (should go great, since he has black bar tape). 
So nice to do something crafty and right-brain challenging today!

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Our Bike to Work day was a success!  The 30 or so riders that showed up got a fantastic ride through Jonesboro.  I had hoped for a larger crowd, but considering that there was a good chance of rain and this was our first event ever, I won't complain. Our police escort surprised us by stopping traffic at every single intersection.... so nice to have cars yielding to us for a change! Taylor rode in a trailer behind her daddy and took photos along the way. Most were of herself, but she did manage to get a couple shots of the riders. I happen to really like this one (that I took) of her completely holding the attention of the guys (our mayor is the guy in orange). I'm not sure what she was telling them about, but I'm sure it was something very important.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Media Debut

I had the honor of getting to give the guest commentary on our local news last night. The segment is called "A Better Region 8" and is usually done by the station manager. However, he offered it to me last week, which meant that I had to come up with a 90 second message super fast. That was some serious pressure... find
ing just the right words and just the right message to represent my group. There were about a thousand different things I'd have liked to say, and choosing one was the most nerve wrecking thing ever. Standing in front of a teleprompter in front of a green screen talking to myself was nothing compared to deciding what to say.
You can see the video here: Better Region 8.... no laughing! 
Our Share the Road Signs are now on sale, and the Proclamation by the mayor last week was great. I can't wait 'till they start going up!

I did take a day last week to do some stitching.  
I'm working on a special butterfly embroidery project for Taylor.  It's alllmost finished and I promise I'll post pics as soon as it's done. I really hoped to have it done by now so that I could give it to her as a Pre-K graduation gift. (We took a trip to Build-a-Bear instead.) And, I still don't have a clue when/if my shop will be back. Honestly, I haven't been thinking much about it. I still browse etsy and lurk in the aretsy team thread, but I just don't feel any real pull to get back in there and list stuff. 

Monday, May 4, 2009

Happy Bike Month!

May is National Bike Month! Hooray!

Things here are moving full speed ahead. Tomorrow our mayor is making his proclamation about bike month, our Share the Road signs go on sale, and the 15th we are hosting a ride to work event. Here is a link to lots of other bike month events courtesy of the League of American Bicyclists. Even if there's not an event near you, you can still celebrate... just get out there on your two-wheeler and ride like you're 5 again.  

Thursday, April 23, 2009

warp speed

Ok, maybe its tacky, but I really need a boast-y post. Last week, I had a meeting with our mayor about bike stuff.  Not only was he supportive, he put my group's plans into warp speed. In one fell swoop, he decided that at the next city council meeting he would proclaim May "Bike Month" in Jonesboro, announce that he would have the city install "Share the Road" signs if we would provide them,  announce that the signs are for sale, and buy the first one. If that wasn't enough, he wants to do the rounds with all the local media showing his support for our "Share the Road" program and attend our Bike to Work day. He even got us a police escort for the ride! I am just so totally thrilled about how things are going. And, I'm so so glad that I have Jason to keep me from freaking out too much! 
Anyway, these are the things that I've been up to and the only creative things I've done in the past couple of weeks have been to make that poster and make Taylor a headband. I have been thinking about crafty things if that counts. 

Monday, April 13, 2009

Catching up between sneezes

I love spring. I love that my yard is 
all pretty and green. I love that there are lots of birds and squirrels  and bunnies around. I do not love sneezing and having a congested, achy head. Ever since moving to the northeast part of the state, I have been in allergy hell. I have yet to find an over-the-counter that works without making me all loopy or sleepy.  Who knew such a small distance would make such a big difference.

I know I've been a bad blogger and haven't been updating very regularly. Sorry. Even though my etsy shop is closed for a bit, I have been doing some crafty things.

This little bunny's name is Janes. I made her for Taylor's Easter basket, but I gave it to her early. The night that I finished her, Taylor woke up scared from a nightmare so she got her new bunny a little early. Being pocket-sized, she got taken pretty much everywhere... which is why she's so filthy now. The pattern is available from My Little Mochi. Taylor also painted those wooden eggs in the background.
The beautiful bit of embroidery above is also Taylor's work of art. 

In other family news, my better half has started a blog! AsTheFreewheelTurns is sure to be an entertaining read. I'm super excited! I've been trying to get him to write for the longest time.. he's much, much better at it than me and always has an interesting take on things.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

And then there were five

I've been struggling lately with what to do about my Etsy shop. I enjoy sewing and I enjoy having a bit of extra money, but the past few months or so I have not really enjoyed feeling like I need to keep up with the shop. My sewing mojo comes and goes (as I'm sure most people's does). So really that shouldn't be that big of a deal, but having a mostly neglected shop just nags at me and creates this sense of pressure... which does not help matters. I know that the shop won't be at all successful if I'm not listing regularly and promoting it well. The question I face is whether to just get over it and get back to business, or list as I feel like it and if I sell something great (and if not, no biggie), or do I just go back to crafting for just me and my friends and family and take etsy out of the equation. Making the last few custom orders I've done was like pulling teeth.  They were super nice customers and really good orders, but I just struggled. Before this little etsy crisis, I'd be stoked to get an order to work on.... now... eh. That's a problem for my shop as a good portion of my sales are custom orders for brides and bikes.
Was the desire to make a buck killing my creativity? Maybe I just need a new outlook on my shop? If I take a break by closing shop for a bit, will it be possible to make a successful comeback? Do I want to have a busy shop?
Stay tuned.....

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Quick Sewing Fix

I had a quick burst of creativity today, so I whipped up this little fabric basket. The outside is made out of a coffee bag that a friend of mine gave me. He works for Kona Cloud Coffee and hooked me up with some beautiful bags
If you are into coffee, you must try it.. A local doctor owns a coffee farm in Kona, ships it here, and it's roasted fresh in the back of the bike shop where my husband works.
For tutorials and inspiration for your own fabric basket, check out Sew,Mama,Sew.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Some DIY Goodness

This scary looking tool is my new favorite thing. It's a tufting needle and it is a must have if you have any button tufted furniture. I happen to have a lot....
We are in major home remodel/fix-up mode around here.  That orange sofa has had a button hanging by a thread for, oh, the past year or so and I finally decided to take care of it. I really did not want to have to pay an upholsterer to make a house call, so I turned to the google.... and found the tufting needle. 
It is super duper easy to use! You just thread your twine through the round hole in one of those little metal pieces, attach that thing to the needle (there's a square hole for that), push it into your furniture, twist, and pull it back out.  The metal piece stays in as an anchor, and you can then thread on your button and pull it tight.  Super easy! I couldn't find one of these locally, so I had to order it online. The tool cost about $21 plus shipping. Since the buttons on the sofas seem to be irresistible to little kids, I'm sure that this will be worth every penny.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

My poor neglected blog....
I've been a busy gal lately, but I have found some time to pick up a new hobby. I've drooled over the lovely hand-spun yarns on etsy (ahem... WoolyHands, TheTwistedPurl) long enough without being able to do something with them. I picked up the book Stitch 'n Bitch a few weeks ago and got to work. Mostly, the instructions are pretty clear, but I still ended up having to go online and watch videos of hands in action.  I must say I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, but of course it has a few "first timer" bobbles. I don't think I quite grasped her method for bringing in a new ball of yarn... I don't have a beautifully seamless transition. 
I have yet to try anything more complicated than a scarf, but I can tell that I'm going to enjoy this. Of course, I take it up and finish my first project when it's 70 degrees outside. Ah well. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I'm still here...

Wow. It's been a really long time since my last post! So what's been happening?..
Well, I've been really busy with the cycling advocacy group I'm starting. We're having our first meeting next Tuesday, and my oh my, it's getting overwhelming. So much to learn and so much I really want to get right. 
The little one had two firsts - her first ear infection and her first date. Yup, a date :)
Aren't they cute? The day before Valentine's Day, she and her buddy went to see Playhouse Disney Live, then had dinner, and a carriage ride (and everyone says "awwwww"). That wicked cute little green jumper she's wearing is from Brighton Early. I made her a pretty Valentine heart pin for the occasion. It's pinned down near the bottom of her dress. 
What else? Oh, yeah... the past week and a half, I've been working on another large jewelry roll order. Seven custom rolls for seven bridesmaids.  I finally got them finished up today. My sewing funk continues, though. It was like pulling teeth to get them finished.