Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas, y'all!

Unless you don't celebrate it... in that case, have a great week and weekend and stay away from the crazy last-minute shoppers! Since I do celebrate it, I say it with the best of intentions to readers, visitors, strangers, family, friends and the nations of the world.

DH, the pups and I are heading out, this afternoon, to spend the holiday and weekend with my in-laws. Although I'll have internet access, I plan to focus on enjoying time with the fam!

This is also my 50th post on this little blog and I'm glad to have had the outlet this past year. I'll have time next week to ruminate on the events of 2009 and my goals and hopes for 2010. Until then, Happy Holidays and safe travels!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


The cat is finally out of the bag... my good friend, Allison, has officially* announced her pregnancy. Since we work together and spend almost as much time together as we each do with our husbands, respectively, I figured it out a little early. I kept it a complete secret for her until she told a few key peeps, in person, and now it is common knowledge. We took an exploratory trip to our favorite Good Will store yesterday in search of tops to re-fashion into mommy-style goodness... I think she scored 5 or 6 actual maternity tops, instead. Good thrifty tip, there, especially for clothes that are wearable for just a few months... get 'em cheap and in good condition!

I'm happy and excited for her (& hubby) and want to say "Best Wishes" once again!

*meaning she posted it on Facebook

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Holiday Survey

I saw this holiday survey over on Lullabye Fashion and thought it would be fun to do, myself.

Favorite Holiday Cookie: sugar cookies, just a dusting of sugar does it for me

Favorite Winter Meal: Potato Soup (I'll share the recipe soon)

Favorite Winter Breakfast:
a southern classic, biscuits and gravy!

Favorite Seasonal Hot Beverage: spicy hot cocoa with marshmallows

Favorite Seasonal Winter Fruit:
Apples are the only fruit available/locally grown in NC in December (I checked to make sure)... but I'd have to say oranges are my favorite, because they are a traditional part of our family's holiday. It goes back to my grandparents' Depression Era childhoods and how big a deal an orange for Christmas was to them!

Favorite Seasonal Winter Veggie: I'm a huge fan of sweet potatoes

Favorite Seasonal Dessert: DH's grandma makes awesome pinwheel and buckeye candies; they win out because Christmas is the ONLY time she makes them.

Favorite Holiday Memory: We always spent Christmas Day at my dad's parents' house with my aunt, uncle and cousins. There was plenty of my Nana's cooking and lots of visiting relatives. They've both passed on, but we try to keep some of the traditions alive... the fruit, the food, the family & friends and a little bit of 'mountain dew.' We don't know where it comes from.

Looking Forward to this Holiday: My neighbor is from Germany and decorates her tree with burning candles, like the ones in this awesome photo from 1910.

Your Goal this Season:
To make most of the gifts we give to friends and family. This includes sewing tote bags to fill with local wine, homemade cookies and chocolate bark. :)

Favorite Holiday Song:
The Little Drummer Boy, because I still remember brother K singing it in the pageant in the 3rd grade!

Favorite Holiday Movie (I added this one): A Christmas Story, of course!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hope it was a Happy Thanksgiving!

DH spent the week hunting with his dad and grandpa, but I stayed home and spent Thanksgiving at my parents' with my brothers, grandmother and my cousin (who I'm proud to say is a US Marine and very happy to say just returned from Afghanistan). I'm thankful for them all!

The boys didn't get too rowdy, although the mischievous look would indicate otherwise. (Yep, Dad is shortest and baby bro is tallest at 6'-8"!)

Turkey, already sliced, baby bro's garlicky mashed potatoes and my broccoli & tomato salad. The dark stuff in the lower right corner is the crunchy topping on the sweet potato casserole my grandmother made.

Green beans & corn, dressing (my mom won't put it in the turkey), ham already sliced, rice for my SC born-and-raised grandmother and gravy still simmering.

I forgot to take photos of the desserts, but along with my classic cheesecake was an apple & cranberry pie with crumbly oatmeal topping that baby bro made. He's an actual pro. chef, so we take his desserts pretty seriously.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

2 more months of Wardrobe Refashion!

I pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 2 months. I pledge that I shall refashion, renovate, recycle pre-loved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovated, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftiness brings!


Monday, November 2, 2009

Twelve (warning, sappy & cheesy)

We met and became friends in Architecture school at Virginia Tech* in the fall of 1997. I think everyone else in our group of friends figured out, long before either of us, that we felt anything other than friendship for each other. There was a party, the night after Halloween, and one of our friends suggested we get in touch with the other about going... it seemed everyone else had parents in town visiting or something. Am I drawing a clear enough picture of how clueless we both must've seemed at the time?

The rest, as they say, is history. We're the best of friends and each others' favorite person. We've been there for each other through school projects, critiques, big ideas, the loss of loved-ones, family drama, job interviews and job losses. We work well as a team on house projects, road trips and hiking/camping/outdoor adventures.

Yesterday DH and I celebrated the 12th anniversary of our first date. We agreed, over dinner at our favorite Irish Pub, that it is hard to believe it has already been twelve years and hard to believe it has only been twelve years.

The morning after our wedding in 2003.

This past summer, 2009.

Is it redundant, at this point, to say that I love him with all my heart?

*architecture students only have time to get to know other architecture students, anyway

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More baking!

My mom's birthday was this past Sunday, but my brother had promised our dad that he'd make a cake for the tailgate on Saturday for the NCSU v. Duke game. He works in the wild and crazy restaurant business and ended up with an extra shift, so called me after I left work on Friday to see if I could help. I wasn't going to the game, but happily agreed to come up with something. After the success of the brownies the weekend before, I was up for another challenge. I had no cake mixes, so knew I'd have to find something to make from scratch.

My goal was also not to have to go to the store for any ingredients, because at that point what's to keep me from Betty Crocker? Nothing against her, this was just a challenge. ;) So my first stop was to my dearest friend Brettany's blog, to see what she might have I could use. Which led me to a cupcake blog she's borrowed recipes from several times and, after toying with the idea of pound cake, I found this recipe for Devil's Food and Chocolate Buttercream. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!

I made a bundt cake and, actually, six cupcakes so we could taste test it before sending it out for consumption. I modified the recipe for the buttercream, after it turned out super thick... there was a mention of that in the comments of the recipe although my brother later informed me that buttercream is supposed to be really thick. Basically, I halved all the ingredients except the butter and maybe the milk... maybe not as much but it generously frosted the six cupcakes, the whole bundt cake and there was a bunch left over. I've included my variation below, but I say follow the recipe and judge for yourself. I think the end product was delicious and still pretty rich. DH and I had to split a cupcake, as a matter of fact, because it was so rich! I'm pretty pleased, because although I don't mind mix cakes, I like knowing I can make things from scratch and building a repertoire of different goodies is fun! Sorry, no photos... I'll try to do better, there.

Chocolate Buttercream

1 stick butter
1/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
~1/4 cup milk

1. Beat butter on high for about 30 seconds until soft.
2. Add cocoa and 1/2 cup of sugar and beat until incorporated
3. Add half of the milk and the remainder of sugar and beat until incorporated.
4. Continue to add milk until you get to the consistency you want.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Baking Brownies!

My good friend, Brettany, has inspired me to be more adventurous in baking... so I've been searching and trying more scratch recipes. I don't have anything against mixes, but it is interesting to see how slight variations in ingredients or amounts can really change the final product.

A while back I found and tried the Supernatural Brownies recipe and, although I liked them, DH deemed them too cake-y. He strongly encouraged me to keep looking for a fudgier brownie recipe.

This past weekend we had friends coming down from Virginia to go to the Virginia Tech game at Duke, so I decided to find an alternative or at least figure out a way to make the Supernatural recipe fudgier. I began by searching for the original recipe and found the Tender Crumb Blog, comparing the former recipe to another... The Baked Brownie recipe! My results pretty much match her findings, and I also agree with liking both. I will say that sitting out in the sun all day makes for hungry folks, the six of us pretty much inhaled the 24 Baked Brownies on Saturday!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This is so cool!

Go see for yourself!

I wrote a quick post about it for RSF, but I'm so impressed and excited by The Uniform Project that I had to share it here, too.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Going Away Present

I found out Thursday morning that a good friend, Brettany, and her husband have decided to move back to their hometown, where they'll be closer to family and the cost of living is less. We're sad to see them go, but completely understand that "you gotta do what you gotta do." When our group of friends found out that not only are they moving, but moving next weekend, we threw together an impromptu Friday night Rock Band party at my house.

Thursday night, our friend Allison and I came up with a gift that pooled our crafting talents for a little something sweet and unique. Since Brettany bakes, and does so very well, we decided on a blank cookbook she can use to compile recipes she discovers or creates herself. It was a lot of fun to make and (if I must say so) turned out a lot better than I'd hoped on the first try! I was a little hesitant about my sewing skills and the striped fabric we chose for the cover. Allison wrote about it on her blog, with great photos, so I'll just leave it at that.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Count your blessings, one by one.

I think it happens a lot and my last couple of weeks have been no different. We get busy, pulled in different directions. We get lost in our own thoughts. I know I sometimes forget to stop and rest. I'm a worrier and although I know things are beyond my control, I need reminding. I forget to acknowledge how fortunate, blessed, we are.

A friend linked to a Time magazine article about someone who was laid off and how the 'ripple' of one job lost has affected the small town... my hometown. It is sad and scary, because it has happened to numerous people in towns all over the country. The article says the first week of unemployment is hard to take... I counted them up (I know I shouldn't have) and it has been 32 weeks for DH.

Moments like this do help me realize how much I (very much) need the little pick-me-ups of every day life. So, to count them, here are the every-day things that I've been up to... remembering them and naming them, one by one.

We made a second trip to the Outer Banks, which was super windy and rainy due to a non-tropical low pressure system. Basically, something popped up just offshore and never had a chance to become Tropical Depression anything. Just my youngest brother went with us this time and we still had a pretty good time, but spent a lot of it reading or playing "Go Fish" in the tent!

I finally got the results from the architecture exam I took on June 30... I passed! I still have a few sections left, in a new format, so I'm not holding my breath for when I'll be able to get to them.

We're still working on house projects, but making progress and wrapping some of them up. I have the patience to do a decent joint compound/plaster job or caulking and painting siding, both projects which move things right along!

My second Wardrobe Refashion pledge is going well! I didn't actually post anything there last week, but posted my intro and a project the first week. I'm hung up on what to do with this little shrug/sweater I've rebuilt, although the idea became clearer last night.

DH and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary on Sunday... without much fanfare, which is, traditionally, how we celebrate. We ordered takeout and cuddled up with a cute movie. We did have a nice simple dinner at our favorite Irish pub one night last week, too, and they were even giving away free Guinness! Hard to believe, still, that we've been married 6 years, and that we'll celebrate the 12th anniversary of our first date on November 1st!

Tonight we're having dinner at our friends' house, which means spending time with our favorite curly-blonde girls and their fabulous parents. I'm so sore from my workout yesterday, but will grin and bear my ache-y arms to cuddle my one-year-old goddaughter, Samantha!

We have wonderful, supportive friends and family. I'm married to my best friend in the whole world. Every day is an adventure and a blessing.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

All time best lucky find...

... I ever found in the whole of today!

I stopped into my favorite consignment shop, Revolver, the other week without my wallet. This isn't a bad thing, really, because it gives me a chance to spend time considering things and really choose something I will love. I found a very cute pair of Kate Spade espadrille wedge sandals (they ARE orange!) but, alas, I am not a 7 1/2.

There were a couple other pairs of shoes that I'm still considering, but I only left with this wonderfully interesting jacket that fits just right! You'll have to excuse the weird angle, my photographer (DH) was busy, so I had to take this one myself. The shaping of this Buffalo David Bitton jacket is vaguely reminiscent of the 'biker chick' look I've been seeing in the Fall trend articles. Since the Canadian designer's closest stores are nowhere near Raleigh and this still had the tags on it, I'm thinking it's a pretty lucky find!

Friday, September 4, 2009

A wardrobe staple made a favorite again

This green shirt has been one of my favorites for a good 8 or 10 years. The color suits me pretty well and I liked the snaps instead of buttons. A critical look at my wardrobe made me realize that, although the weight of the fabric was light and draped okay, it was rather boxy and not so flattering.

The first thing I did to update it was to rip out the stitches holding on the collar piece and sewed it back together, leaving a little band collar. I also added darts to the back of the shirt, to bring it in and give it some shape. I still go back and forth a bit on whether I should have added more darts or taken more up in them.

Another contributing factor to the boxyness was the 3/4 length sleeves. The 'cuffs' hit at my waist and it just added more fabric and visual mass to the middle area I was trying to trim down to show my shape. Using another shirt as a guide, I gave 'em the chop! I actually took some of the scrap and made a band to edge the new, shorter, sleeves. This required a little tuck on the top, center, to match up the circumferences. It didn't start out as part of the design, but it is a neat little touch that I like.

I actually refashioned this shirt back in May, when I took my first pledge. I've worn it several times since and I'm so glad to have found great examples on Wardrobe Refashion that encouraged me to take the leap... this shirt is definitely a favorite all over again!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Re-signing to Re-fashion!

I have been a huge fan of Wardrobe Refashion ever since I found the site at the beginning of this year. There is so much inspiration for a fledgling sewer such as myself! I love to find ways to recycle much-loved items and make my clothes more expressive of my personal style.

I joined for four months at the beginning of May and posted the pledge here, but lost the posting email to the spam filter! I kept up with the sewing and photos, but not so much with the posting. I still have lots of to sort through. Let's just say having too much to do is my biggest hobby!

I promise (pledge!) to do better with the photos, but believe me when I say I do love the sewing part!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I won!

A shallow victory, indeed, since I had no competition, but I "won" the giveaway over at Allison's blog.

Fall-ish Fruits are here!

I've started seeing ripening figs on my neighbor's tree and picked some at my friend's house on Sunday. I had a few for breakfast (warm with honey and toast!) yesterday and just finished snacking on a couple more. There is also a persimmon around the corner that just started dropping fruits. I've been on the lookout for those, but my boy dog found the first one this morning on our walk. I try not to let him eat too many, especially since unripe ones can cause tummy troubles, but the sidewalk will be littered with their squishy orange (!) sweetness. I'm hoping to collect some of both to preserve for the winter!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Another gimmeakiss* giveaway!

Allison has another great giveaway posted on her blog from the etsy shop. The typewriter resides at one of our favorite vintage furniture/clothing stores, Father & Son on Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh. Go post a comment for a chance to win this lovely art photo print!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

too much

So I made an entire pot of coffee this morning and then the boss called in sick. He's the only other one who drinks it. I made a whole 12 cups, because it is rainy, and I've inadvertently consumed most of it, by myself...

and a Coke...

and some chocolate I found in the cabinet.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Saying Goodbye

My great aunt Frances passed away on Saturday. She was 95, if my math is correct. My grandmother's oldest sister, she was also a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother. She was a wonderful, sweet, caring, devout woman. Aunt Frances loved everybody. Whether it was cousins telling silly stories or the little ones running around, you could always hear Aunt Frances laughing and loving it all. Her home was always a special place filled with love and her family has always exhibited a peace I've seen in few others.

I wasn't able to make our family reunion this past May, so missed that chance to see Aunt Frances, and I'm not able to make the trip for the funeral today. I hope she knows I'm thinking of her anyway.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Raleigh Street Fashion - one month update!

I feel pretty good about the first month over at Raleigh Street Fashion. Some people on the street, some on the move, and some related local events... I like the direction and I've gotten some great feedback already! We started August with the first local designer profile, for Koa Designs, so please go check it out!.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Craft Hope

Please check out Craft Hope, founded by a mother of two in Austin, Texas. The goal of the projects is to share handmade crafts with those less fortunate. The completion date for Project 3 is fast approaching (July 25), but take a look at the stories for Projects 1 and 2.

I feel refreshed, in some small way, for remembering there are always ways to make a difference. This is not a new idea, of course, but I think the pace of life can cause one to forget that caring for those who need it and passing on the love and blessings in our lives is an important part of what makes a good life...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A much-needed vacation!

DH, Brother K, Little Cheese (DH's kid bro), the doggies and I all went down to the Cape Lookout National Seashore for a couple of days of relative peace and quiet.

For anyone unfamiliar, the Outer Banks of North Carolina consists of a string of (mostly) uninhabited barrier islands which separate the Sounds (brackish water) from the Atlantic Ocean. There's a rich history of America's first settlement, pirate hideouts, shipwrecks, and wild ponies.

The Outer Banks have always been special to me... my grandfather was a large animal veterinarian who was involved in the genetic research to save the Banks ponies and I spent my childhood on his houseboat in the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds. He instilled a true love in me for the natural beauty of my home state, and an appreciation for how fleeting these things can be if not properly cared for.

When DH and I moved (back) to NC after college we added ocean side camping to our list of favorite things to do, then decided to be married on the beach in 2003. This particular stretch of beach was a new adventure for us, but I think we've found our new favorite place!

There is nothing quite as spectacular as waking at sunrise on the beach or watching the sun set over the sound. We saw the most amazing display of stars, with a clear view of the Milky Way and the constellations, even if we couldn't remember many of them! It was a great break, with nothing (and no one) else in sight for days! We also found lots of great seashells, a rarity (in my experience) on the NC coast since the surf is so rough.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Give-Away (and how many links in one post!?!)

My good friend has posted a give-away on her blog for one of her lovely rings for sale in our etsy shop. Stop by and post a comment for a chance to choose your favorite!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


This cute little demitasse cup I found at Goodwill. Proving that bigger isn't always better (and it coordinates with my fave mug!)...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Raleigh Street Fashion - a new adventure

So it needs some work and will take some time to populate it with photos of cool personal fashion & style in Raleigh, but I'm pretty excited about the possibilities!

Monday, June 29, 2009

A hint of things to come

I'm. still. studying.

I motivate myself to get through this exam, and make the most of it, by browsing Etsy for ideas such as this and this.

Please do not think that I ever mean to (ever!) say I can make these types of things better. I just have a lot more time than cash. I also see the making of a thing as almost a hunter-gatherer endeavor... finding great fabric in a bargain bin or bringing a once-loved item back to life. I support artists and craftspeople when I can... handmade/well designed things made with care and love are wonderful. I also think they inspire care and love in all aspects of our lives.

Oh, and there is this one, too...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

One more down

Site Planning exam was this morning at 8 am. Next week (on June 30, the last possible day) is Building Technology at 9 am. That one is at least 5 hours long and the test site is an hour and a half away! I'm making progress and getting closer to reaching so many goals... so can't complain about the crazy schedule. I feel good about this morning, so hopefully my grade/score will reflect that!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Crafty inspiration

I happened by a crafty blog that I like and found this most-inspiring photo. Her little craft room is way neater than my space... and even though some of my mess can't be helped (tiny house!), I really love the tea cup pin 'cushion' and the juxtaposition of the white china with the earthenware. Maybe someday I'll have brightly colored spools of thread to keep in a jar, too!

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I promise to add photos of my projects later tonight, but in the meantime...

My secondary goal for taking the Wardrobe Refashion Pledge was really to not spend any money on clothes or fabric for the term of the Pledge. I have a bunch of stuff waiting in the stash, and if I can get it to a more manageable size, that'll be the pay-off... not to mention the 'new' clothes! I spent maybe $15 in May, on items for projects. To celebrate passing the LEED exam, I found a $5 scarf that I've turned into a top and found a couple of things on a lunchbreak walk to Father & Son. I've been working on a couple of pillowcase projects, which I'm finding to be so easy and fulfilling! I am still waiting to finish a tunic top for my friend's 3-year-old and then make a similar one for my goddaughter (the 3-yo's little sister). I also took a larger decorative pillow sham case and turned it into pj capri pants for myself. I'm super excited about those. I ended up finding an adorable skirt at Goodwill last week... unfortunately it doesn't need any work, but it is thrifted and cost a whole $3.39. I love that store. My only other purchase for the month of June was from etsy and it is adorable artwork.

I'm going to have to put the sewing aside for a bit, though, because I have two more exams to take before the end of June. I'm really not looking forward to spending the next two weeks on the computer all night, studying. The up side is that if I pass these I can make an easier transition to the new format... as my dad would say, I'll be in the short rows.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Decemberists and the rain

My cousin and 'best girl' Jen took me out for a girl's night to see The Decemberists at Memorial Auditorium. The show was awesome and the adventure had just begun... we left the building to find a downpour and then to find the entrance to the parking deck LOCKED! We found the other entrance, but not after tramping through the rain for a few blocks. Good times!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ricotta Gnocchi

My baby brother is always inspiring me with his delicious cooking knowledge! He recently graduated from culinary school and works at an awesome restaurant. He's no food snob and enjoys to sit back and let me (or our dad) do the cooking whenever he gets the chance.

So, the gnocchi story... so baby bro stopped by a while back and made us all dinner... pan-seared flounder with roasted potatoes and spinach with fresh cucumber salsa. YUM!

The inspiration part came in when I mentioned I'd picked up a carton of ricotta and didn't know what to do with it all. I will admit, who buys 2 lbs of ricotta cheese if she knows NOT what to do with it? I am a creative and resourceful type and his first recommendation was ravioli. I lamented that I'd have to make my own pasta and that sounded hard. I've seen Mario and Giada and Alton do it, but they have help and better-equipped kitchens. He assured me it wasn't that bad and I know how to make biscuits from scratch, so that's a start.

So I cleaned off my meager counter and dumped out flour, followed by eggs, a pinch of salt and a little bit of olive oil. After it rested, I rolled it out, split it and mixed some of the ricotta with chopped spinach, herbs, an egg and some shredded cheese. I then proceeded to make the cutest little round raviolis. But it didn't end there...

I had leftover dough and leftover filling. In my search for more ways to use the ricotta (there's always lasagna and calzone), I found a recipe on for Ricotta Gnocchi. I know these aren't "real" gnocchi because there's no potato, but for a first-timer, why not? So I mixed the remaining fresh dough and filling and a little more flour until I got the consistency right, then rolled them out, sliced and shaped the little pillows of dough. Mmmm... I may never go back to the pasta aisle! Potato gnocchi are for another time.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Laundry improvements

We've been planning, for quite some time, to enclose the laundry room, which means relocating the back door and the machines. We're still working on some details, but we're excited to contain the mess and noise and add some much-needed storage to our tiny home! That's the 'before' on the bottom.

It's not easy being green

I passed the LEED AP exam last Thursday... I'd been completely bogged down with studying the intricacies of the credits, synergies between credits and the process for weeks. The scoring is weighted somehow, with 80 multiple-choice questions and a maximum of 200 possible points. A score of 170 is needed to pass and I got a 181. DH took it a couple of days before and scored a 194, the jerk. So now it is back to house projects, cooking and sewing!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I passed the Pre-Design exam!

The letter came in the mail Monday. What a relief! Even though I finished the exam with an hour to spare, I was still sweating it a little. Studying for LEED is going well, although I (obviously) didn't take it the original date of May 11. Two weeks, especially with two nights out of town for work, is just not enough to learn all the details. I rescheduled for May 21, but DH couldn't get that date so he's taking it on the 17. Fingers crossed for both of us...

Monday, May 4, 2009

New Plan!

So after a fun-filled weekend of birthday celebration and LEED studying, I realized that I have a lot of frustration about my body. Part of it is recovering from some allergy/cold thing that causes sinus headaches and part of it is being tired of sitting and studying. I've just been in a funk about myself. I do what a lot of people do, I resort to eating junk because I'm bored... fat because I eat and eat because I'm fat. I found a link to a program called Shredded for Summer that I decided was worth a try. I'm following the beginner/intermediate at-home/no-gym fat loss plan and so far, so good! Tomorrow is a rest day, Yay! I might even get to feeling like I can throw in some "advanced" workouts, we'll see.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Refashioning - learning from mistakes

My first 'major' refashion was a fun project, but not exactly a success. I had collected a small pile of things from my closet that weren't quite what I wanted them to be. A quick trip to Good Will during a lunchtime walk yielded a couple of interesting ties and, once I took a good look at everything together, a lavender v-neck top and a purple & green tie were surely meant for each other. I decided the top would be better with a deeper 'V' and so set out to recreate it, based on a little faux wrap top I have.

It was a great chance to play with techniques, hidden stitches and mitering (is that term even appropriate for sewing?) corners. I love the colors together, still... but my fatal flaw was not taking into account the fact that the top was a little short for my preference in the first place. I could have done a better job pinning (and should have basted) the pieces together. I ended up with some puckering in spots due to the differences in the way the fabrics stretch.

I don't have a photo of myself in it, because I wore it once (with a cardigan over top) and then started taking it apart... trying to figure out ways to reuse pieces, but especially the tie fabric. No big ideas yet, but the bottom of the lavender top has been added to another top... helping to make up for the 'too' short thing somewhere else!

Friday, May 1, 2009

It'll be a busy few months!

May 1 is a big day for me... I'm taking the Wardrobe Refashion pledge for four months starting today! I explained the whole thing to DH last night, during our break from studying for LEED. He thinks it is pretty cool. My first round of refashions will be from completely my own stuff... clothing that doesn't quite work and some sheets and other scraps as well. I also have a couple of refashion projects with stuff my friend, Jules, gave me but those are for for her or her little girls. I'm pretty excited to learn to make cute girly clothes for my favorite little blondes!

I'm also starting back up with my exercise routine. Three summers ago I lost about 20#, and I've maintained it since, but I'd love to be more toned and comfortable in summer clothes, especially if I'm going to be making cute skirts! So I'll be cutting out the soda and cutting back on bread and sugary stuff. Last time I kept a diary and counted calories, which really worked and helped me re-establish my sense of portion sizes, but unless it becomes obviously necessary I'll skip that part. I'm more interested in building muscle, so will focus on what I'm eating and less on how much.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Wardrobe Refashion Pledge

The Pledge

I, Cydney, pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 4 months. I pledge that I shall refashion, renovate & recycle pre-loved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovated, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftiness brings!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I passed the CDs exam!

The letter came in the mail Saturday afternoon. It was not exactly good for my study habits, with the next exam on Monday at 3, but it was a relief. I finished the Pre-Design exam with an hour to spare. Now I'm on to studying for LEED, although my birthday is tomorrow and the week will be full of interruptions and other (more interesting) pursuits.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The garden!

We have a forecast of 90+ for the next couple of days, yesterday was at least 86. The dogs had me up before the alarm this morning and I'm using it to my advantage to get the rest of the veggie seedlings (I picked up last weekend at the Farmer's Market) planted. This photo is from a few weeks ago, so will act as a fairly recent 'before.' The sod is also fairly new and the patio is like our second child (after Girl Dog but before Boy Dog) and still isn't quite finished. I'll update with more photos later!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Back to the 'to do' list

My last item on the 2009 list was to "Make or at least modify my own clothing using my new sewing machine and some creative flair."

I've been acquiring 'handy' skills since graduating from architecture school, mostly to fill the time. I'm not sure anyone who didn't go to design school would understand the sudden vacuum that is actual free time. Since graduating and buying our house a year later, DH and I have learned about plumbing and electrical wiring, plaster and laying tile. We've learned about natural pest control and attracting beneficial insects to our garden. We've learned how to compost. DH has learned to weld and operate amateur radio. I've learned yoga, knitting, crochet and how to bake a mean cheesecake. We learned how to train dogs and make their food from scratch. Yes, we're those people.

So the next logical step in my skill evolution is 'for real' sewing. I've always been willing to do slight modifications and repairs, plus I have a weird shape that sometimes requires what good old Target just can't provide. I've never torn anything apart to put it back together. I never knew how to sew because I never took home economics. For whatever reason I didn't have to and, although I learned hand sewing from my grandmother, I never thought to ask to learn to use her machine. I don't think she used it for more than minor things, though, because she quilted and cooked and gardened. I'm sure I'll repeat this often, because she is in my thoughts daily, but she was pretty awesome.

So the real urge to sew came about partly because I'd see handmade clothing on etsy and think, "that is super cool and why can't I do that myself?" I'm never sure if that's a tacky thing to think or if it is just part of being creative. It isn't like I am tearing stuff apart in a 'I can do it better' way, just... well, I could totally do it myself.

I've been shopping at consignment and thrift stores for a while now, since we luckily have a couple of good ones in walking distance of my office and it is way more fun than Target, which is my other inexpensive clothing option. My storage space is minimal, so I have plenty of reasons *not* to buy, but it is tough with clothes. They don't take up *that* much room and, well, they're just fun. Especially when they're original (or handmade or vintage) and only cost $10. Our money situation has me looking at it in a different light, though, now. I feel like more of anything is unnecessary unless I need to actually replace something. If I accomplish nothing else, I feel like sewing is a way to give not-so-gently used things a second chance at a life other than as a cleaning rag.

I'm still in the process of setting up my sewing space in the second bedroom. DH helped me rearrange things and it is "cozy", but I think it will work. I've been too busy to sew much lately, but I did help Allison modify a thrifted top and I have a couple of dress projects for my best friend's little girl, so I'm excited.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Oh! and the etsy shop!

Last summer Brother K suggested we start an etsy shop, offering some things from our different creative outlets. We set it up and it... sat... for a while. We finally got a much-needed nudge to list some items when my friend and coworker expressed interest in selling some of her jewelry creations there. I invited her to join us and now we have a lot of interesting stuff for sale.

Check it out!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Yeah, so, been kinda busy...

Last I posted it was the end of the year, almost Christmas, and I had lots of fun ideas for the new year. I had a big work deadline mid-January and, after that, my plan was to live it up and get stuff done. We are definitely working on some of those items, but I guess you could say we had a monkey wrench thrown into the general works...

The day after my work deadline, my darling husband was laid off from his job. It was not a total surprise, as the firm had already had three rounds since summer of 2008. Basically, every two months they'd look at the numbers and realize it just wasn't working. I, personally feel like a lot of the money-saving measures were too little, too late, but hopefully everybody learns from these experiences.

So, what do we do when we go from two salaries to one? We make do and mend and all that fun stuff our grandparents taught us! We did the math and realized that we could make it by on my salary... not 'well' but well enough. We also met our goal of setting aside an emergency fund, which is happily earning interest in a high-interest savings account. The interest rate has dropped significantly since it started out, but it is still better than most CDs, and it is available. I take a calculator with me to the grocery store on most of my weekly trips now. I've always taken my lunch to work, at least most days, and DH has attempted to cut back his soda consumption. We make a mean jug of sweet tea! It gets a little tricky, as he has high metabolism and munches even more now out of sheer boredom. He *is* getting lots of projects done around the house and yard, though. We're re-glazing and painting windows, working on the garage and we re-graded the back yard and put down (free!) sod. The garden is coming along nicely, too.

I've taken one ARE exam and have another scheduled for April 27. My next big project deadline is the 24th, so I'll have the weekend to cram! There will be some more work and travel for this project and then DH and I are both taking the LEED exam on May 11. Oh, and my birthday is April 29!