29 April 2008

at a snail's pace

I'm feeling a bit like a broken record here. I think I first mentioned wanting to have a shop update in early March. It's now, ahem, just about May. And I am finally working on my first pieces to sell that I've done since December (aside from a couple of small custom orders). So here we are, a snippet of my progress on three new bags. I now have no excuse at all to continue procrastinating as I am signed up for a craft fair that is in just over two weeks and have very little to show for myself at the moment.

I feel like I'm at an interesting place with my crafting. I've come so so far in the last year even with my sewing. It boggles my mind to think that I haven't even owned a sewing machine (much less known how to use one) for three years. Seriously, this is not meant to be any kind of bragging, but just a recap of how crazy I've gone over this sewing thing. I really love sewing. And I love designing new products, whether it's a little zippy pouch or a dress. I enjoy selling my stuff, but I have barely had any motivation for that since December.

Last year, I did eight craft fairs (I think, there might have been another one or two) and that was insane. I learned a lot...mostly what not to do (you may recall this nightmare), but it was too much. I'm definitely not stopping my crafting for selling at all (if anything, I need some method to fund my fabric addiction), but I'm not sure where I'm going from here with it. I do actually have a full-time job and many other projects (including, but not limited to: gardening in the summer, yoga, a significant amount of volunteer work, and oh yeah, a life, sort of), and sometimes it can all feel a bit overwhelming. Especially when I get into a mode of constantly comparing myself to other amazing crafters out there who are constantly updating their shops and making and selling tons of crafts, but who do not have "full-time jobs", or who actually have crafting as their full-time gig. No wonder I get anxious.

In any case, I am curious what you all think about this topic, as I know it's something that many of us in this crafting community struggle with. How do you find a balance? And how do you not get sick of crafting for selling? In the meantime, I am working on lots of new things (for real this time) and may have some up in the shop before my fair. If not, whatever is left will surely make an appearance.

25 April 2008

Settle down

I'm back. Again. I feel like there's been a lot of coming and going here recently. Well, I am back now, and will not be leaving again for the foreseeable future. So let's settle in, shall we?

As always, I had a most lovely trip to New York. There was movie watching, good restaurants, lots of cooking, good friends, good family, and absolutely spectacular weather.
{Oh yeah, and there was a roll of film. Eeep, I did it! I picked it up today and will be sharing some with you here as soon as I pour over them a bit more.}

Here are some images from my week in the big city...

Like I said, I'm settling back in now. I will be in the space more soon, and will be getting at some serious crafting action in short order. So there will be some show and tells. I promise.

16 April 2008

in with the old.

So, I'm off to New York tomorrow night. I've managed to get through this short week with only one mild nervous breakdown (lately I've been getting very overwhelmed just before leaving town, not sure what that means...), and I'm still not packed. In any case, one my goals for this year was to improve my photography skills. Doing the photo a day thing has definitely helped immensely, even in the just sixteen days that it's been so far. But there was something else that I'd wanted to tackle. Back when I was in high school, my mom gave me her old Canon GIII. I've been playing with it for years. (seriously, playing, as in not ever loading an actual roll of film) I'm not sure why, but I've just never used it, even though I love it. I've taken it with me from apartment to apartment, across the country and back (well, halfway back), but never actually using it.

Friends, that's about to change. The inspiration is everywhere, from Amanda's film photos (which prompted me to break out my other/newer film camera last summer), to Hannah's overall amazingness, and Abby's person place thing project, it's almost impossible to get away from film these days. And why would you want to?

So the other day I ventured out and picked up a new battery for, found a roll of film, and loaded it up. She's all set and ready to go. And she's coming to New York with me. I'm not sure what'll come out, but I plan on shooting at least one whole roll of film while I'm gone, hopefully more. In any case, I'll be keeping up (as best I can) over here while I'm gone, and maybe even popping in here, but I'm not promising anything big. And when I get back, well, it'll be time to buckle down and get some major crafting done. Happy week friends!

15 April 2008


Don't say it too loud, but I think spring might be here. Today was the second day so far this year that it's been warm enough for a dress with no tights (and not even knee socks today!). I've planted my seeds for the garden. There are some brave tulips peeking their heads up above soil. And, today was the official bike inauguration day of 2008.

Oh how I love spring. It's been a long, cold, brutal winter. And I couldn't be more ready to get outside in the warm sun and cool breezes. It was so nice to get on my bike today and hop on the greenway to work (seriously, it's a bike highway- I have actually been in bike traffic jams at rush hour before-how cool is that?). As much as I love my car, I also have a serious affair with my bicycle. Minneapolis is a super bike-friendly city and it's so much nicer to not be closed off the the outside world all the time the way you are inside a car.

More tomorrow before I head off to the big city...I hope spring is popping it's head out wherever you are.

13 April 2008

Scenes from the weekend

Wow, was this a busy weekend or what?! After so many weekends of Jared being out of town, and me being a little more of a homebody than maybe I should be (I am getting better though), this was a very action packed few days. Friday, we had a very fun birthday celebration for a friend.

Saturday, a friend (the birthday girl, in fact) and I hit up the annual Textile Center Garage Sale. I didn't take any photos at the event (you can see last year's here), but this is just some of what I scored...

...and all for under $20. That's what I call a serious deal. This morning we had a delicious breakfast at the ever satisfying Seward Cafe with some friends, followed by a quick stop at the first rummage sale of the season. The rest of the afternoon and evening were spent baking bread, planting some more seeds, and finishing up a few sewing projects.

It was a nice weekend indeed. I'm headed to New York on Thursday to spend Passover with my family, about which I am extremely excited. Passover is absolutely my favorite holiday, and it's so nice to spend it with the ones you love, or most of them at least (Jared can't make it). So things will continue to be crazy around here for a little bit as I get ready for the trip. I'll definitely be popping back in here before I go, and maybe even while I'm there. As always, you can keep up with me here as well.

Side note: as I was finding last year's post about the Textile Center sale, I noticed that it was entitled "busy busy weekend", I guess it's just that time of year when things start picking up again. It's such a great feeling to start noticing that I'm doing things for the second year in a row and starting to really feel like this is my home here. Yes. That feels right I think.

10 April 2008

when it's april and it's freezing rain outside

I would recommend making extra chocolatey cookies as soon as you get home from work. At least, that's what I would do. I mean, that's what I did. Today, in fact. Yes, chocolate always helps.

Try these (adapted from Martha Stewart)...

Double-Chocolate Vegan Cookies

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
8 tbl non-dairy margarine
3/4 cups brown sugar
2 tbl ground flax seeds mixed with 6 tbl water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions: Preheat oven to 325. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Meanwhile, in a double boiler, melt half of the chocolate chips/chunks and the margarine. Transfer melted chocolate/margarine to a large bowl. Add sugar, flax/water mixture, and vanilla. Mix until combined. Slowly add flour/cocoa mixture and mix well. Fold in remaining chocolate chips/chunks. Batter should be a little liquidy, but feel free to add a little bit more flour if you feel like it's not thick enough. Bake cookies until flattened and cracked a bit on top, about 15 minutes. Enjoy with some tea or warm soymilk. Ignore freezing rain outside.

09 April 2008

onto the next year

Last year, those of you who were around back then, witnessed one very important part of my transformation from a big city girl into someone who grows their own food (something not generally associated with big city living). Last year I had my first garden ever, and I have to say that, despite my initial reservations, I think it was a pretty successful endeavor. I am lucky enough to live in a house with a backyard that has space available for gardening (not to mention some existing crops such as rhubarb and raspberries that are up for grabs to the tenants). Additionally, we live across the street from a very well-established and organized community garden, where we had a plot last year and will again this year.

Last year, I planted tomatoes, spinach, hot peppers, swiss chard, beets, broccoli, chives, zucchini, pole beans and some herbs. It was such an incredible feeling to go out to the garden, pick some food, walk back home, wash it, and cook it up right away (see this post about the first zucchini I picked). I also had my first experience with preserving food (both canning and freezing), which I hope to do even more of this summer and fall. Growing your own food is satisfying in a way that I think few other things in life are. It speaks to our historical desires to be self-sufficient at the same time as it builds community (especially when you're participating in a community garden like we do). And in a world where just about everything that you buy relies on petroleum (if nothing else then for the transportation of the goods), it's so satisfying to cut that factor out of the equation entirely and feel like, yes, we really can do something (however small) to change this world.

And I do believe that it is the small things in life that will, in the end, make all the big differences. Every choice that we make, whether it's growing our own food or shopping at a farmer's market, riding bikes more, using biodiesel when we have to drive, buying used goods, spending money on quality products that will last long and won't end up in the junkyard in six months, all of these choices that we can make, that I make (I'll stop talking for everyone else here) are very liberating. And gardening is one of my favorites of these choices.

I've started my seeds for this year's garden and the broccolis are already sprouting after just a few days. It will be very exciting to remember how things worked last year and try to improve on that experience. I did my best to keep a gardening journal last summer, so I would remember things (like when the first ripe tomatoes were ready and how often I watered everything) but I can already see that I'm wishing I had been more detailed. Okay, another lesson for year number two. You can re-read (or read for the first time) some of my posts from last year's gardening adventures here. And don't worry, there's much more to come this year.

PS: Thank you all so so much for your encouraging comments on my jumper. I was quite pleased with my work, and I know there will be more of my own clothing creations in the future. It's so wonderful to feel so nervous about trying something, and then, when it turns out successfully, to have such an incredibly supportive group of people there to share it with. Thank. You.

06 April 2008

one step closer.

Okay okay, I know I warned you all, but things have been exceptionally slow over here since I returned from San Francisco. I promise to pick it up. This week was all about getting settled into my photo a day project, so I've been spending an inordinate amount of time on flickr. I think I've settled into a routine with it though, so hopefully we'll be picking up the pace over here again (although it remains to be seen how well I do once I'm back at work- have I mentioned I had this whole week off? yeah.).

Speaking of having the week off with no real plans, I had made myself a long list of things to do. Errands, starting seeds for my garden, making some new bags for the shop and a craft fair coming up next month, etc. One thing that was not on my list was to design and make a new dress. Oops. I guess it should've been. Because then, I could have crossed it off the list. (Don't you just love crossing things off your list? Sometimes I add things to my list that I've already done, just so I can have something to cross off. Shh, don't tell.)

I've had this dress idea in my head for quite sometime. It was initially inspired by this one, by the ever talented Jenny Gordy of Wiksten-Made. Then I saw this one, whipped up by another talented lady, Meg McElwee of Montessori by Hand (hers was also inspired by Jenny's). Then finally, I spotted this one, that Andrea over at Scout had designed. There is also a jumper pattern (well, a few) in my One Day Sewing Japanese craft book that I've posted about before. So I used that pattern for a jumping off point as well. The stars were aligned. Jumpers were popping up everywhere. I've been talking, writing, and dreaming about designing my own patterns for months now. It was time.

Now, I fully understand that this is not by any means the most elaborate pattern ever created. It was so simple, in fact, that I didn't even cut out any pattern pieces. It's just a series of rectangles, two simple darts, one big gather, hems, and a nice vintage ribbon. (Seriously, what you see here is my entire pattern, that's really it). So, I'm not getting too proud of myself yet. But just a little bit. I feel like creating something without a pattern is one step closer to creating my own pattern. I've got lots of ideas for slightly more elaborate pieces of clothing that would definitely require actual pattern pieces. So I'm working my way there, slowly.

{I've added a new feature on the left sidebar called "right here: right now" that will be a rotating list of links to new discoveries that are inspiring me right now. These might be new blogs, shops, flickr pages, or anything else I come across somewhere across the internets. Hope you enjoy them!}

03 April 2008

in the 'hood

Being in San Francisco made me think a lot about where I live and why I like it here. I feel like, and not just during the trip, I'm constantly explaining (and sometimes defending) why I moved to Minneapolis and why I like it here. People always seem shocked that someone who grew up in Manhattan would like living in such a quiet, small city. But I do. I love visiting New York, and I loved growing up there, but living there now would drive me crazy (no offense mom and dad!).

Minneapolis is such a neighborhood-y city, and I love my neighborhood. There's a really active block club culture here, and National Night Out is a really big deal here. (For the record, I had never even heard of it before moving here, so don't be too confused if you haven't either). I joined a community garden across the street when we moved into our apartment last year and feel like I've gotten a pretty good sense of what's going on in the neighborhood and with my neighbors.

I took these photos on a walk home from work in late February and have been wanting to share them with you all ever since. As you can tell, my neighborhood is pretty culturally diverse and very artistic. These are *some* of the murals that have been painted on buildings on Lake Street in South Minneapolis, close to where I live. I think public art is such an essential aspect of city living and I feel proud to live in a neighborhood that places such high value on it. See photos from my walk today (a very different walk) here.

01 April 2008

one day at a time.

Back in January, I noticed a whole lot of bloggers and flickrers starting a "photo a day" thing. I almost hopped on the bandwagon, but then thought better and decided not to. Although improving my photography is definitely one of my goals for this year, I wasn't at all ready for the kind of commitment that a photo a day takes. I thought maybe I'd do it next year, or start it at some later date in the year (like maybe my birthday, that gives me plenty of time!). Then I noticed a flickr group for "a photo a day a month" just a one month at a time thing, sort of like Amanda did earlier this year. Not that I need a flickr group to do something, but it's a good motivator.

March seemed too busy (and too soon), so here we are. April 1, 2008. A new start. The snow is melting (again). I got a new haircut, some new clothes, and I'm ready for a new project. I have no plans to turn this into a photo-only blog and I don't even know if I'll be posting every photo for this project in this space, but you can find them in my flickr set, if you're interested. I'm going to do my best to keep up with the one a day thing. But we'll just see how it goes. I'm excited to continue documenting my life this way, it's already been really fun to look back at this blog and my flickr page over the last year or so and reminisce.

{By the way, I didn't buy that shirt. Just so you know. The bottom photo is what I bought::two shirts, a pair of pants, and some sweet argyle knee socks. Yum.}