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.

Friday, December 21, 2007

SHELTER - The Colors of a Cozy Home

Ashley and Jason; new home owners and newly-weds, have an incredibly cozy home. I fell in love with this photo in their Flickr stream. I kept coming back to it. The rich reds, purple, orange, pale blue, and the copper-colored woods make it seem as if there was a roaring fire in there and you just want to curl up on that sofa. Throughout their home, I love their mix of the old and the new in their choices.

Would you consider yourself an artistic person? Is it something that you use in your career or daily life? We're both pretty artistic in different ways. I'm a writer (and blogger of Read it Out Loud) and Jason works for the Discovery Channel and makes movies on the side. I also have a 'lil side business, The Ripe Radish, selling crafts on Etsy.

What specific difficulties did you have when decorating
your space? Even though the house is larger, the individual rooms are smaller than what we were used to in our old wide-open apartment. This made furniture maneuvering and laying out more difficult; there are less options.


Also, basically every part of redoing the kitchen was difficult - I never want to work with tile again!

What is your favorite color? Oh, I think it changes weekly. Right now, yellow.

Do the colors in your clothes closet show up in your home? 
Yes! I love incorporating colors into my wardrobe. My closet is arranged by color, and it looks like a rainbow when you step in there. There are some days I want to wear bright pink polka dots and some days I want to wear brown. I dress and decorate according to my current emotional state, which can make for some interesting outfits and corners of the house.

Would someone you know think your space represents who you are? Do you think it does? The first thing most people say after getting the tour is that the place is "so us" or that we've really made it ours. That's definitely the greatest compliment, because it means we were successful in creating a home that represents us.

How different is your grown-up style from the place in which you grew up? Very different. My parents are much more modern. I've always thought their house was a little too sterile for me. They have lots of modern art hanging and a few bizarre smaller sculptures. I always knew I would want something more cozy and warm. I love the coziness of our house above everything else.

What was your biggest influence in choosing your current décor? It's kind of one big lump of inspiration I've gotten from design mags like Domino, design blogs like decor8, websites like, and various books. I'm inspired by everyday houses too; I can always find something I like in someone's living space.

What has been the most expensive change you have made to your space? The kitchen. It started out with this faux cobblestone linoleum counters, laminate flowered flooring, and ugly cabinets. We spent about $3,000 updating it - we tiled the counters and the floors; got a new sink, range hood, and backsplash; and painted the cabinets white and got new hardware for them. It's still not quite done (we took all of this on about a month before our wedding, so it's taking a little longer than expected).

What has been the least expensive, yet most influential change you have made to your space? Jason says it's the dimmer switches he installed, "because now you can get mood lighting." I would have to say it would be painting the wood paneling white - we just didn't have the money or time to rip it down (it's only on one wall in the family room) and now it actually looks intentional.

White paneled wall

Have you done any of the décor yourself (DIY)? 
Everything was DIY, except for the the electrical/wiring update that we had done. Refinishing the wood floors was the most DIY we've gotten, and that was mostly Jason. They were in REALLY bad shape - they look great now!

What changes have you made that make you feel the most proud? I would say both the kitchen and the floors I'm pretty proud of.

If you received $1,000 that you could only spend on your home, what would you do with the money? There's such a long list! I think the first thing I would do would be to fix up the bathroom. Right now there's a pink toilet and pink sink and laminate flooring. We totally ran with the pink thing and made it this sort of art deco bathroom, but I'd love something a little less... pink.

What do you plan to do next in your space? I'm trying to decide what color to paint my office. Right now it's the only unpainted room. The basement also needs some work. There's an awesome craftsman bar down there we would love to take advantage of, but we need new flooring.

What do you think was your biggest influence in how you decorated your home? Color. Is that too general? We just painted each room and then decorated based on the feel and vibe of the room.

How about those legs in the hot pink skirt, what's the story there? Got the legs from eBay a few years ago and dressed her in a skirt that actually used to fit me in high school (which is always a good reminder, since she inhabits the dining room.) Various things have adorned her midsection like plants and lamps.

What decorating style are you most attracted to: modern, traditional, country, mid-century, etc? A little bit of everything, but the house is probably mostly mid-century inspired.

What kind of homes do you most admire or lust after? We both love the character and charm of older row houses in the city.

Have you seen any homes in movies that you would want to live in? Jason makes fun of me - I say I want every house I see in almost every movie. The one in particular that comes to mind now is [in] Amelie. And as for other homes from movies that I loved, I also really like Enid's bedroom in Ghost World, Maggie Gyllenhaal's apartment from Stranger than Fiction, and Jennifer Aniston's apartment in Along Came Polly. Also, Amy Sedaris' apartment in real life is basically my DREAM place.

Along Came Polly

Stranger Than Fiction

Any Sedaris' living room

How comfortable are you in your living space? We're both extremely comfortable; in fact, we hardly ever want to leave now. We have nothing in our space that makes us unhappy.

On that perfect quote about their living space, SHELTER wishes you...

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

(this is my last post of 2007; have a safe and great holiday and I'll see you in the New Year!)

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

Monday, November 05, 2007

SHELTER - Before and After Color

Front door after
When Stephanie (aka Stefshep7 on Flickr) and Dave, her husband, decided to move to San Diego to take care of her ailing grandfather, I'm sure they didn't expect their living space to look like this.

Front door before
This is the before front door
Does that say "Welcome!" to you?

Once there, they had to contend with what condition the former tenants had left the place in when they left. There was peeling paint and a stale smell in the air because few windows could be opened. To top it all off, they had left loads of stuff behind, bed frames, mattresses, bookcases, and books, lots of books. ALL of the items in the before pictures are the previous tenants.

However, Stephanie and Dave were able to not only bring this place to a point of cleanliness but they went above and beyond and made their apartment an incredibly cozy looking beach house, full of color and light. Please enjoy the pictures and what they have to say about their beautiful home.

Would you consider yourself an artistic person? Do you use it in your daily life? No, not artistic in any way! I did used to work in a "design" related field. I was a Lighting Designer and Consultant in Nor Cal for 14 years. I couldn't design it, but I sure could light it!

Kitchen before

Kitchen after!

What motivated you to go with the "all out" decor? I think it was the fact that moving here was a care for my grandpa. If it weren't for that, I wouldn't have left Nor Cal. I loved our home there. So, I felt I should make it as "fun" as possible to live in.

What specific difficulties did you have when decorating your space? Oh boy! hubby Dave and I have very limited "hands-on construction" experience. So that was a big one. I think the biggest thing for us though...was dealing with the junk left behind (Over 3 tons of stuff had to be removed, and that was prior to any demo!) as well as the filth! I was not sure how anyone could have lived that way. The carpet was so bad; we would not walk on it without shoes!

Living room before


How comfortable are you in your living space?
Very! We are still working on things, but have been able to make it a very nice place to be!

What drew you to the vibrant colors?
It just came to me while still living in Northern Cal...months before the move. I wanted a festival of color! Being so close to the Mexican border (only 15 minutes); I was inspired by a color scheme you might find there. I actually wanted to go with a lot more busy patterns and colors...kind of like a colorful pinata, but since my artistic ability and capacity to create patterns and colors together, I figured it best quit with the color while I was ahead.

Do the colors of your home show up in your closet? LOL...actually not really. I am a bit more understated with my wardrobe!

What was the inspiration for the blue on blue bathroom? That was ALL my hubby Dave! He said the beach was the inspiration, we are only a couple of blocks from the beach that was his biggest influence.


Do you think your decor style matches your personal style? Well...our last home up north was quite rustic, we used a lot of golds, and even dark chocolate brown on the walls, I loved it. I am not sure if you noticed, but all of the furniture you see in the "redo" is exactly the same as what was in our "rustic" place. Which did present its adaptive challenges as well. I was so happy when I found the pillowcases you see on the couch, not only did it have the pinks and oranges I wanted, but it actually had the burnt red-maroon color of my sofa in it too! That is what pulled it all together! I saw the couch as a big hindrance when we started. Getting back to the question of my style...I really have no idea! I LOVE conservative funky I suppose. If there is such a thing! LOL..........

Does your decor match your personal style? I suppose it does!

Would someone who knows you say the style represents who you are? I would have to say, not what they would expect necessarily, but after taking it all in... yes, I think they would say it does.

What was your biggest influence in choosing this decor? Mexico!

What has been the most expensive change you made? It was the new windows, about 3.8k, then the cabinets in the kitchen about 1.6k.

What has been the least expensive, yet most influential change? Definitely the paint!

Master bedroom before
Master bedroom after!!
Have you done any of the decor yourselves?
Absolutely all of it! Dave is the one who deserves most of the credit! All I did was choose color rugs and accessories, paint and scrub wood floors!

What changes are you most proud of? That’s so hard; really, the cabinets and windows would have to be our proudest moments.

Guest room after

What do you plan on doing next?
Hmmm...repairing the bathroom floor, near the toilet and tub. Lots of rotten boards that we can only disguise for so long! LOL....

What decorating style are you most attracted to?
Country rustic, and definitely Craftsman! My hubby loves contemporary design.

What kind of homes do you most admire or lust after? My ideal [home] would be a classic Craftsman; my hubby Dave just loves the "pueblo Santa Fe" style best.

Have you seen any homes in movies that you would want to live in? Only one comes to mind, that's the funky place Barbara and Dustin lived in "Meet the Fockers" I just loved everything about that place inside and out! I guess you could say that would be my dream home!

Meet the Fockers

How different is your grown-up style from the places in which you grew up? Not very, my mother loved Native American art, and her style was very rustic. Since she passed away in 1998, a lot of her things have ended up in our home. Rustic feels like home to me. As for Dave, his grown-up style is very different from the classic formal home he grew up in.

Thank you Dave and Stephanie!