Monday, December 31, 2007

Faster than the Richmond PD...

and brighter than a Crayola crayon, please meet the...

(My rental car for the next 8 days.)

Oh, and for some reason, Nationwide lowered my deductible from $500 to $200 dollars. So...Hey!!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy Holidays to me...yeah, great

Luckily, my downstairs neighbors woke me up at 8:50 am to let me know what happened and that it was raining. I haven't figured out what happened yet, did a bicyclist hit me...what?

The actual damage to the car seems so small, not a scratch and hopefully, this small dent will not affect too much internal damage. I admit I haven't tried to open that door yet.

I didn't take a picture of the great plastic bag and masking tape shelter I made for the window-less window or the 6-lb can of green glass fragments I threw away. Sorry.

Update: Well, I've been trying to be cool about this, but it seems no one can give me an estimate today, Saturday. So I now have a car sitting outside with a plastic bag protecting it from the elements until the New Year. This means I have to check on it frequently and hope that it doesn't rain before Monday! I don't really want to go and do my errands either, not sure the bag can sustain 35 miles per hour.

Hey, I Love Upstate, we have something in common!

A wished-for new beginning?

The Friday before Christmas at 2:30 pm, I had an interview with a state agency for an internship. Within the first 5 minutes, the woman with whom I arranged the meeting let me know that there had been a change; the evening before an employee informed them she would be leaving around the first of 2008. Therefore, I not only met with the people seeking an intern but also the head of the other department. The meeting/interview was a strange experience because it all seemed as if i had my choice of either opportunity, if i wanted. With the way that 2007 has gone this was a very foreign feeling to me.

The internship and the position pay the same, a lower salary than the one I had at my last position. A livable salary, but still a reduction. However, this opportunity would be a first step into the industry that i want to work in. Therefore, this is a great opportunity, an opportunity that I really want.

I was told at the interview that this position will give me a taste of how this agency works and how it interacts with state and federal agencies on historic preservation issues. Most employees stay there up to a year and use the connections and knowhow they have learned in the position to gain other opportunities. So, though I might not be able to dump massive money on my debt, I will gain experience and contacts while also being able to pay my rent...sounds good to me.

Being a state agency, they first have to go through a hiring approval process and I'll have to join a specific staffing agency that does the hiring for them. They would like the new person (which could be me!) to start on January 10 or earlier. So I have to call and check on all of this, January 2nd.

Wish me luck!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Holiday crafts 2007

This is the new scarf I made for winter. All of my winter coats are black or gray so I wanted some color near my face. I was going to make two more for my sisters; however, the tension on my sewing machine went wonky when I tried to sew the silky fabrics. Therefore, since they weren't done by Christmas, I gave them the choice* of receiving one-fabric scarves or ones in this patchwork style. They chose the one-fabric style; one in this black-on-red polka dot and the other with silver, white, and gray circles on a black ground.

Simple scarves in red and black.

Therefore, when I finish putting the patchwork ones together, I might sell them if anyone is interested and likes them as much as I do.

More scarf views.

I made stockings for my nieces and nephew out of this fabric combination, but I forgot to take a picture. They turned out really nice though.

I also have chenille scarves to make for the rest of the family. Again, I bought the fabric in time; however, I became stumped on the correct way to make them. I had totally forgotten about the massive shedding ways of chenille. So I made IOU offers to family members and will ship them out when I've figured it out.

Anyone know how to cut and sew chenille? Help me please.

All of the men (except my nephew) wanted the gray plaid. Can you believe no one wanted this incredible black plaid below? Well, I'll keep it because I think it's amazing!

* I am a true believer in getting people things that they want or are interested in for gifts. No one needs unwanted and unrelated things taking up space in their homes.

Fabulous, Ferocious, Fun, Flickr Fotos!

photo from Becktress

Flickr photo sets that I can't stop checking out:

Black and white starlet photos from the 20s to the 50s
Vintage patterns to die for

Vintage inspired outfits made with vintage and modern clothing
I want to clone her entire closet!

The wonderful pictures of her home.
In fact, her home is in the Domino magazine decorating contest right now.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Career and Creativity Resolutions

Last year, I made a great decision. I quit a job that was stagnating my brain and denying me a workable schedule to continue my part-time education. I borrowed enough money: to complete my remaining college education on a full-time basis, supply myself with a laptop computer, and if money was leftover, help fund my graduation trip to Italy to see my friends and goddaughters who are living there. The missing piece of the plan was that I needed to supplement the loan money with a part-time job, at some point.

However, that great plan did not work out. I fully take responsibility for that. The signs were there, I just didn't take them seriously. I did not acquire that part-time job, the money went faster than desired, and now I would do best getting a full-time job.

However, through my last college course and the work I completed, I realized what my interests have been hinting at for years...I know what field I want to work in. Historic Preservation and Neighborhood Revitalization. I also know that I want to start that career here, in Richmond.

1. Actively network, self-educate, volunteer, and pursue a career in the Historic Preservation field.

I guess when you start to think everything is utterly hopeless, you are forced to fight your fears in ways you never had the guts to before.
  • A mass email, including my resume, was sent to friends and colleagues in town explaining my work situation.
  • Friends working for large corporations suggested the staffing agencies they use (ones that appreciate people might need a more livable wage.) I joined and they have already called me.
  • A pick-your-brain request to a supportive professor may have resulted in possible paid intern work inside the field!
  • I volunteered myself to help a loved neighborhood complete their nomination to the National Register of Historic Places in order to be designated a Historic District. So looking forward to this!
I have also started getting more aggressive in the blogosphere. Hopefully, in the next months you will see more changes both here and on SHELTER.

2. Enhance look, expand content, and increase traffic on both blogs.
  • I joined BlogHer months ago but I want to become more active, in fact I would love to attend the conference in '08.
  • I want to commission (by trading services) friends of mine to design specific looks for my blogs.
  • Most definitely, I want to increase traffic to the sites.
  • Perhaps, add a retail component to SHELTER?
Most of all, I want to stop downplaying the things that I feel I do well. If I want to succeed in anything, well, I need to believe in myself most of all.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I Am Going To Do This for '08

Excerpted from Wende's blog, The Sky is Bigger Here:

...Creativity Resolutions, which are no more than three things you intend to do for your personal growth during 2008.

The ground rules for Creativity Resolutions are:
  • These must be FUN ways to do something that helps you continue your growth as a lively, interesting person. You cannot vow to lose weight, quit smoking, or anything grim and guilt-inducing. If your plans for creativity happen to involve more exercise or keep your hands too busy to grab a cigarette, that's great... but the unpleasant bits of self-improvement cannot be the main goal.
  • Each resolution must come with measurable goals, whether in terms of what you get done or in terms of how often you do it.
  • Ideally, your resolutions involve projects you're willing to blog about, so that you are accountable to a fascinated and supportive audience.
  • You must stop at THREE. It's fine to make just one -- but lists of 10 are too big.
I'll post mine here tomorrow...

Do You Know How To Sew Yet?

I love bookstores. I can hang out in them for hours reading everything I want. Isn't it lovely that the employees can't tell you to "move along?"

Because of this pastime I usually notice whenever a new book comes out. This time it was a new sewing instruction book, in the footsteps of Wendy Mullin's Sew U, Amy Karol's Bend the Rules Sewing, Amy Butler's In Stitches, and Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing.

This one is called SEW: Sew Everything Workshop by Diana Rupp of Make Workshop. Ms. Rupp took on a lot of work because she attempts to answer ALL of your sewing questions. Wendy gave you what you needed to sew woven fabrics into a wardrobe of shirts, skirts, and pants and Amy taught you how to handle purses, soft toys, and other gifts. Well, Diana, wants to give you the information to handle all of the following things:
  • how to find the correct sewing machine
  • hand sewing techniques
  • understanding different fabrics, manmade vs. natural fibers, wovens and knits
  • customizing patterns
  • for 25 diverse projects like a skirt, knit cardigan, cape, quilt, dog coat, and laptop bag using ten original patterns that are included in the book.
Check it out, it looks cool.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Bring it on... Bond!

I just received a fabulous early Christmas present from...

Netflix, who sent me ...

Casino Royale.

Oh yeah, this will keep me warm and happy until the New Year.

What I Would Like for Christmas...

Now, the big ones:
  • A plane ticket to Rochester (to meet baby Atticus) or LA (to finally meet Ike, Piper, and new baby Vaughan) or to Italy (to see my goddaughters living in Italy)


Thursday, December 13, 2007

The New Generation

I totally forgot about updating you on those Wee Wonderful dolls. Here are the babies I was awaiting this summer. Now they are all chubby and happy and each have an animal to look over them. I'm quite happy about how they turned out. This is definitely a pattern to try.

Atticus, owner of Boo Bear

Vaughan, owner of Cam Cat

Ruth, owner of Belle Bunny

Because the first one had a sad over-stuffing accident, I have one quite similar to Boo Bear to watch over me too!

Boba and Boo
All toys were made from the lovely Wee Wonderful Put Together Book No. 1 by Hillary Lang. Print fabric is Medallion in green by Denyse Schmidt from her Flea Market Fancy line from Free Spirit.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Sweet Potato Loveliness

I have not posted a recipe in a long time.

Well, here's one that made my mouth water. This one comes from the same place the first sweet potato one did, Apartment Therapy: The Kitchen* and the recipe is here.

Just look at that and tell me that doesn't look good? I immediately thought it would only get better if you added some crispy bacon to it and I rarely eat any pork products.

Well, have you ever had sweet potato fries? If not, you have to try them. I get my crinkle-cut fries from McCain at the grocery store. For ultimate crispiness in fries, always get the crinkle-cut. I've heard some people dip their fries in maple syrup but I think that's a bit overkill. I think they are better matched with seasonings and salt.

Country Living oven-baked version
Food Network version with basil salt and a garlic mayonnaise

*now simply known as The Kitchn.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Redemption of Andy Dufresne

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read this if you have not seen the movie, The Shawshank Redemption, nor read the novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King.

“Fear can hold you prisoner, Hope can set you free”

One of my favorite movies is 1994's The Shawshank Redemption. The obvious message of this movie is that you need hope in order to survive. It is even spelled out in a part of "Red" Redding's (Morgan Freeman) last soliloquy in the film. However, hope alone is not how the main character, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) escaped from life in prison. There were a few other tools that were needed.

  • The character of Andy is a man sentenced to two terms of life in prison for murder. Unfortunately, he was falsely accused. He finally makes it out of prison after 20 years during which he fashioned a 19-year long escape.

With hope, you can have the patience to take the time needed to make your goal real.


  • When Andy makes up his mind to escape, he knew that the best way out would take years, but as his other choice was to die in prison as a murderer, he had nothing to lose.

With hope, you can persevere the day-to-day struggle as long as you believe that your goal will be attained.


  • Whenever possible Andy made the most of the little joys in life, like a cold beer after a hard day’s work, listening to beautiful music, or the reading of a good book.

With hope, you do what is needed to make it through the day.

Yes, it's true that Andy; before prison an innocent man, becomes an embezzler and a forger inside, ends up a wanted felon. However, the lessons taught in this film can benefit many of us to obtain our dreams. Please correct people whenever you can…The Shawshank Redemption is NOT a “prison movie.” It is a primer on the power of hope and what you can accomplish if you continue to believe in it.

I just need to remember this movie when I most need to; when I feel ready to give up, when I want to wallow in self-pity. I need to give up my fears and really start to believe in hope.

Good luck to everyone reading this in whatever you wish to accomplish.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

From Preaching to Crafting....

I just saw this great project on VenusZine for revamping and reusing your old shoes.

Instructions are here.

In fact, VenusZine has a great DIY category that you should check out.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Think before you buy...

I wish I didn't feel that I have to say this...

If you already have a reusable tote bag, or two, for groceries and such, great!

However, do not buy any more.

Even if someone comes out with a cuter design.
Even if a high-end designer comes out with a bag.

Since everyone and their long-lost uncles are designing tote bags, if you already have all you need, do not buy another one.

It totally defeats the purpose.

Reusable; in order to reduce waste.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

From one who knows better...

I was having a dark day but this put it all in perspective:

Let us rise up and be thankful,
for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little,
and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick,
and if we got sick, at least we didn't die;
so, let us all be thankful.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Jovial Way to Feed Hunger

Here is a way to test the intelligence of your mind while helping people around the world. It's called FreeRice and I found it via How About Orange.

It lets you test your vocabulary and every one of your correct answers will supply 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.*

The great thing is that it is truly addictive. On my first try I achieved this...
"You have now donated 2,830 grains of rice" and reached a vocabulary level of 42.

So that's what I get for reading Agatha Christie murder mysteries when I was in elementary school, moving on to Austen, García-Márquez, Wharton, Scott, and Adams as I grew older.

Go HERE and have fun.

*This is the sister site of

Friday, November 16, 2007

Clorox buys Burts's Bee company

Yes, Clorox, they of cleaning items containing chlorine bleach, which leaches into our drinking water...

They have purchased the earth friendly, natural, no artificial preservative-using Burt's Bees, maker of some of my favorite cosmetic items.

I don't know what I think about this yet.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Employment and Self Esteem

The job I had at the beginning of this year eroded my self esteem by asking less than I was capable of giving, causing lethargy, and stagnant thought.

However, having no job here at the end of the year is also effecting my self-esteem, by denying me a way to prove my usefulness, intelligence, and talent.

I need to find a way to keep my self esteem separate from my employment status.

It shouldn't be based on:
  1. whether I have a job or not;
  2. if that job challenges me or not;
  3. or whether my employers act ethically or not*.

It's sad, but after studying my past that's the only way its going to work.

This is definitely a year I can't wait to see in my rear view window.

*A former boss altered several junior executives' manuscripts; "rewriting" them before submission to the printer on a government contract. Luckily, the company's copy editor discovered that the rewriting consisted of inserting plagiarized material . No formal apology was ever made to those junior executives and this person was later made a vice president of the company. Of course, by that time, none of those junior executives were still employed there.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Two of My Favorite People

Amy Sedaris and Todd Oldham talking about a green lifestyle on Bravo.

Click the link and the video will start immediately. The 30-minute show is recorded in 6 segments, that will play one after the other. Enjoy!

Watch What Happens on

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Less than two months away?!

I was reminded yesterday that I have to get started if I'm going to make holiday gifts this year. Yes, it will be a Handmade Holiday this year!

Luckily, I have been storing away project ideas and tutorials for possible gifts this whole year. So, I'm not going to start stressing about them right now. Here are some that I am contemplating. Perhaps some of these will inspire you too.


Tutti Fruiti's 5 min tissue holders

Lara Cameron's reversible journal cover

Amy Karol's (aka Angry Chicken) dog collar (for Fiona!)
featured in her book Bend-the-Rules Sewing: The Essential Guide to a Whole New Way to Sew


Machen/machen's Wasp bag tutorial

Belle Epoque Bias Tape Tote

Jocelyn Worrall's Metallic Tote
from her book Simple Gifts to Stitch: 30 Elegant and Easy Projects

Here are some additional books that are full of great ideas and instructions. I love this Last-minute series and want the whole bunch. I wonder what will be next?

Last-Minute Fabric Gifts by Cynthia Treen
Last-Minute Knitted Gifts and Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson

NOTE: These instructions are for personal use and gifts ONLY. Do not attempt to sell ANY of these commercially. These are proprietary designs of the listed artists.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Church Hill, Richmond, VA


My Historic Preservation class took a walking tour of Church Hill this past weekend, ending with iced Halloween cookies and hot apple cider.

Ann Carrington house
2306 E Grace Street

A porch detail

The Bellevue School
2301 E Grace Street

A city street view

Sisters of the Visitation of Monte Maria
2209 E Grace Street

Views from the Grace Street overlook

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fitting It All Together

I can't believe I didn't post this a while ago. Since I had those fitting problems with my favorite pattern, I decided to try out the suggestions I received about pattern fitting*. So after doing some Web research, I went out and bought Fast Fit by Sandra Betzina!

Hopefully this will be the answer to my prayers, with this book...

1) I am going to learn flat pattern measuring and...
2) actually create a fitting shell garment.

Some pattern companies have delegated these old standbys to the last page in their catalogs, so watch out, they may be phasing them out. It sounds like an idea they should keep, they were probably popular in their day. If you choose to look into them, here are the online links and pattern numbers for the major companies:

McCall's M2718 Sizes 6-22 (developed by Palmer/Pletsch The Fit Experts, authors of Fit for Real People)
Pattern Review for this pattern here.

Butterick B5746 Misses sizes 6-22 and Butterick B6092 for Women's sizes 16W-32W
Pattern Review for this pattern here.

Vogue V1004 dress shell Sizes 6-22 and the Vogue V1003 pants shell Sizes 6-22
Pattern Review for this pattern here.

It would probably be a great idea to get the one manufactured by the company whose patterns' fit you like the best, though be aware that some may not have updated the fitting garment to the way they construct their patterns today.

I suggest that before you buy any pattern check to see if there is a Pattern Review for it first. It gives you a heads-up on possible problems in the instructions.

*Thanks Cherie!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I Must Not Should Myself...

I must not should myself...

I must not should myself...

" "

I realized a few weeks ago that every thing on my To-Do list is a should instead of a want.

Sometimes I'm so involved in thinking of all the things I need to get done that I overburden my mind before I can even start and end up paralyzing myself.

No wonder I feel exhausted and overwhelmed even though nothing seems to be getting done.

Just a few highlights of the never ending list:

  • Get a job to sustain myself after 9 months of loan-supported freedom.
  • Get great grades in this semester's Grad school-level class.
  • Learn HTML and CSS in order to update my blogs and to add those skills to my resume.
  • Volunteer for more organizations. (finally made a Habitat for Humanity orientation meeting!)
  • Put up ten birch shelves in the living room.
  • Put up 20 or more pictures on my walls.
  • Make two shirts, 3 dresses, and hem 3 pairs of pants.
  • Paint a table, one armoire, and one bedroom dresser.
  • De-clutter all of my closets and get rid of unneeded items.

The sad thing is a lot of the home items on the list are from last year's list. Every time I remove something from last year's list, I don't feel that it is an accomplishment, it is more often accompanied by a ‘Whew, that’s done, check it off the list, on to the next one!’ I can't seem to enjoy it as something that I actually wanted to do instead of something I HAD to do.

So what is it that I actually WANT?

  1. Make more friends in town.
  2. Obtain a job that challenges me and that I enjoy.
  3. Find time for a man I like and that likes me.
  4. ...oh yeah, finish up my degree. You know, the whole reason I moved back to this city in the first place.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What am I thankful for?

A week ago, GoGoAbigail tagged me along with 3 other blogs; to list things we are thankful for. Unfortunately, she caught me at very low point and I was finding that list extremely hard to come up with. I had no problem being thankful for my friends, especially being thankful that the three friends who were pregnant have now all delivered healthy full-term babies. In fact, extremely thankful for that!

But to find things in MY life to be thankful for, I didn't want to acknowledge those things or even try to think about them.

I wanted to keep feeling sorry for myself and think about what I DON'T have instead. Isn't that horrible how sometimes when you are low, it's hard to let go of the feeling, and it seems easier to wallow in your own pity. You avoid your friends and do not tell the ones you do see that anything is wrong. Hey, they might try to cheer you up and you do not want that! So you find yourself one night watching some movie and crying more than when you saw the movie the first time. So, today I'm starting to get over myself and I think I might take a stab at that list right now.

I am thankful for...

  • my friends, some here in Richmond, others all over the US, and one entire family in Italy.
  • my health (unfortunately, I need to take much, much better care of myself)
  • the continued health of my family members
  • my education and inherited intelligence
  • my vast imagination, which usually helps me through the really bad stuff
  • my access to the Internet, an easily accessible way to experience what is out there in the world that I would not know otherwise. Sad but true.
  • my diminished but still continuing belief that Things Will Work Out.
Hopefully, I will continue to come up with more...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Unleash the artist in you...

Found this cool fun site via Brilliant Asylum, who found it on the Kate Spade website.

Once you get to the site, just start moving your mouse. Enjoy!

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Girl in the Red Petticoat!

Ta Da!!!! Ordered on the 26th and arrived on the 29th, now that's service! It arrived a bit scrunched but after a dunking in water and a little drying time (thanks for the heads-up Petula Darling!) it's good as new.

soaking wet!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Petticoat is in the mail!

I made money last month by selling two pairs of shoes on eBay. So thanks to that deposit of money in my Paypal account I was able to order my red petticoat two days ago.

I was able to buy something without spending any money. See how I do that? Money I don't see and that doesn't show on my bank balance as a negative when I spend it, is FREE MONEY to me.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Still need portable water?

An update to my post on bottled water:

Here is a comparison of the reusable water bottles available out there by Slate magazine (found via notmartha).

Reusable water bottles you'll actually want to use.

I'm thinking Platypus. How about you?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Maybe, just one more...

The weather is still warm and I don't think the heat is gone for the year so...

I might try one more summer piece. In fact, it's the only project I actually planned for THIS year, all the others were leftovers from years before.

I laid out the fabric today and am straightening the grain right now. It should be a quick sew, at least let us hope so.

I do NOT want to be finishing this next summer!

fabric and tortoise shell buckle, JCaroline Creative.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Sewing fool am I

I have actually been sewing clothes. After a long procrastination period, I am finishing up projects I started long ago.

First, this dress, the "Target" McCall's 5042, is officially done. There were a few fitting problems* but they were my fault since I lost a lot of weight this summer. The cause was probably stress. A new job will hopefully remedy that. And in the meantime, I will be buying a petticoat to puff it up a bit and maybe a belt will help too?

Do you notice the matching wristlet bag? I probably will only wear them together when I'm feeling really kitschy, however, I do have enough fabric for a headband.

I am working on this retro pattern from 1966, McCall's 8251. It just needs to be hemmed. I looked forward to making this pattern thinking it was simple and I could whip out dresses and tops all summer long. However, I'm having fitting problems with this. It just seems so big. The sleeves were way longer than pictured and I had to cut off 2 inches. After easing the sleeves in, they are actually puffy. The boatneck is just too wide. If I have to I will use a broach to pin a pleat at the throat. I promise next time I sew anything where fit is a major part of its design, I will make a muslin. I'm just an impatient sewer.

front back

For a refreshingly quick project, I followed this tutorial I saw on Whipup and made a cute pencil skirt out of a pair of pants that no longer fit my individual thighs. Now it fits perfectly and you would never know it was once a pair of creased pants. I wish I had taken a before shot and I can't find the identical black pair that I thought I still had.

*You can't see how I have no waist because of my ace modeling job.
**See my new shoes above? They're Crocs...yes, Crocs. These are the Alice maryjanes and I love them!