Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Finally! or... My super cute apron!

     Last year was the first Christmas as an adult that I was determined to make as many presents for the people I love as possible.  I realize that was more than 10 months ago, stay with me, I promise this quickly comes to a project I just finished yesterday!  One of the presents I made (for my super cool Little Sister) was a super cute and stylish apron.  I chose three different beautiful fabrics that seemed so much like her (she is much more stylish than me!)  Having never made an apron before, I scoured the internet for ideas and patterns, and ended up buying one on Etsy, the Miss Jenny Apron pattern.  It was great, as soon as I made my purchase she emailed me a PDF of the pattern, all I had to do was print it out, tape the pieces together and get to work.  No waiting! Excellent!  Now, when planning this post, I fully intended to link to her pattern here, so you could go and buy your own, but I just discovered her shop has totally changed, not even sure it is the same shop owner any longer, no aprons, no patterns, just a few bibs (bibs that are clearly not as cool as mine!)  Hmmm...

     The apron I made for Little Sister turned out so beautifully that I was determined as soon as Christmas was over, I would definitely be making one for myself.  While in Aptos with family for Christmas (yes, yes, I know, I am still talking about 10 months ago...) I went to the super amazing Hart's fabric!  The most fabulous fabric store I have ever been to in real life!  An independently owned fabric store in Santa Cruz, with the most beautiful collection of traditional and contemporary designer fabrics.  I can not go in there without walking out with an armload of beautiful prints I could not resist.  Best of all, as I live far, far away from Santa Cruz/Aptos (and all of the great people and things they have), Hart's has a fabulous website where all of their fabric can be ordered and arrives right at your door only a few days later!  Well, on that particular trip with my super supportive (and fabric enabling) Mama, I found just the three fabrics I wanted to use for my very own apron!

     Now, I did not have the pattern with me, and having only made it one time, there was no way to be super sure of the fabric quantities I would need, but I was pretty convinced I only needed a quarter yard to do the waistband and ties.  My mom asked me many, many times if I was sure and tried to convince me I should get more, just in case, but I was stubborn (and wrong) and she was right.

Lesson learned - Mom always knows more about fabric yardage!  She is, remember, the one who taught me how to sew, and has much more experience than I do.  Sorry, Mom!

     So, to quickly flash forward... Winter break ended, I went back to work, life got busy like always, I never made myself the apron, and the three patterns of beautiful, bright blue fabric sat on my shelf, for, oh, about 9 months!

     Now (see, told you I'd get here!), I am so fortunate, to be home doing Fun Little Things full time.  I can't believe it but it has been four months already that I have been trying to make this work.  I have done a lot of building up my inventory, experimenting with local farmer's markets and the craft fair scene, researching and learning about pricing, marketing, taxes, insurance, seller's permits and all sorts of other business-y things I knew nothing about before starting this.  My rule was, any time Kyle was at work, no Facebook, no Pinterest, and every day would include either walking or yoga, some house cleaning, some sewing or embroidery, and a few hours spent researching business stuff online.  Good rule, right?

     Starting the markets and having one desperate week to have my inventory up to the level I wanted was the first thing that threw a wrench in this schedule.  Now that it is built up, that is the next thing getting in the way, because I do not feel like I need to make more bibs, onesies, diaper bags, blankets or bunting at this point, unless a special order comes in.  So... what I am supposed to do during my "required" sewing or embroidering time every day.  Oh, you mean, all those projects I have been planning for myself?  I can do those?  Hmmm...

    The two main projects I have been planning for myself are this apron, and the quilt.  Yes, the quilt.  No, I have never made a quilt before.  Yes, I want to make a full sized quilt, not a little lap one.  When we got married (two years ago!) I made all of the napkins for our wedding, with 8 different brightly colored and patterned fabrics (all also purchased at Hart's).  Now, I have 108 beautiful napkins!  They are very nice, and very pretty, but there are entirely more of them than any one little family needs.  I want to turn them into a quilt a lot like this beautiful quilt from Purl Bee.

     This is as far as I have gotten.

Napkins laid out in the order and pattern I want on the guest
bed.  Guests have, in fact, come to stay, and the napkins were
all put away again...
     Now, as much as I really do want to make this quilt, and learn all of the details of quilting, that is a big, and pretty intimidating, project.

So apron it was this week!  Woo! A fast and fun project that ends with something unnecessary and beautiful just for me!  

     About a month ago I did decide to work on this apron.  Got all of the fabric out, washed, dried and ironed it.  Found the pattern and thoroughly read through the somewhat confusing directions again.  Pinned my pattern and started cutting.  This is where the "Mom is always right" part comes in.  1/4 yard of the waistband material was clearly not enough.  Ugh... ok, no problem, get online and buy some more... hmm... Hart's fabric no longer carries this fabric... seasonal and limited release, you say?  Ok, what about my other online fabric buying addiction.  Not there either?  Ugh!

     Clearly, this now requires much time and thought into what new fabric would look good with the other two patterns I have picked out.  Luckily there are so many fabrics I love, I quickly make a decision, make the order and wait four days for it to come.  While waiting, I decide I should make Halloween Onesie Patterns, and then a few days later Day of the Dead Onesie Patterns, and some Day of the Dead Bibs, and while I'm at it, about 20 more bibs with fabric I had been hoarding collecting.  And once again, the apron was forgotten.  

     Then, I will admit, I spent two weeks not sticking to my workday schedule for no particular reason.  Way too much time on Facebook, way too much time Pinterest.  No more of that!  

     Yesterday, it finally happened!  I made the beautiful apron! 
Interesting that in every picture of myself
that has appeared on my blog I am
wearing yoga clothes, but look how
The empire waist and box pleats
really accentuate my belly!
I love it! 

     I was feeling guilty about making a tutorial on this apron, and sharing pictures, and steps and my improvements on her pattern because of the fact that it was for sale, and copyrighted, and stated specifically it was for personal use.  But now that her shop has changed dramatically, and she no longer has the pattern for sale, I feel ok about it!  

     I think the apron as is, is beautiful (and for those without unusually large bellies, the ties are long enough to wrap around and tie in the front in a very cute way!), but now that I have made it a whole two times, there are definitely changes I want to make to the pattern. The directions made certain steps much more confusing than they needed to be.  I would do the darts and the entire shape of the apron top differently.    Maybe make the skirt part a little longer, I have long arms and want to be able to wipe my hands on the apron more easily.  I also tend to make a really big mess when I cook (especially with flour while making bread) so a slightly longer apron would save my yoga pants from their usual flour covered fate a bit better.  I also now think I want to try to make a pattern for this the way I want it to be, and sell the aprons and sell the pattern! How fun would that be?  Look for this in the (hopefully) near future, friends.  

     I intended to make this post a tutorial, but I see now that it is much more the story of me finally making the apron, and that this post is already long!  Plus, I am going to change the pattern, make it my own, and hopefully be able to offer it to you to make your own.  Pattern and full, photographed, step by step tutorial coming soon!  

Oh, and I can't believe I almost forgot, as it is one of my favorite holidays of the year,

Happy Halloween!!!

     Eat lots of candy, stay safe, stay warm and have fun!  

Monday, October 29, 2012

A wish for all!

A beautiful thought for this Monday morning, taken from the Facebook feed of His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama:

     "Honest concern for others is the key factor in improving our day to day lives. When you are warm-hearted, there is no room for anger, jealousy or insecurity. A calm mind and self-confidence are the basis for happy and peaceful relations with each other. Healthy, happy families and a healthy peaceful nation are dependent on warm-heartedness."

This is my wish for all of you, and for the world, this morning!  Have a beautiful Monday and week!  

Now time for me to sew that apron I have been hinting at for weeks, so I can take lots of pictures and make another fun tutorial! 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Exciting Times!

     A busy last few days around here.  A weekend getaway to La Fonda, BC, Mex!  Only a beautiful 45 minute drive down the coast.  As soon as we crossed the border, the road reminded me of driving through Big Sur, just fewer trees! We found our little beach bungalow, played smash ball, swam, read books, played gin, made friends with stray dogs, ate good food, and made a fire to keep us warm in the drizzle.  A great way to celebrate two married years together!

     To add some extra excitement... as soon as we found our way back across the border (no thanks to a street fest in Tijuana blocking the way) and turned the phones back on, I got one of those fabulous "congratulations on your Etsy sale" emails!  These are still very exciting to me! Especially when the sale is to a customer I do not yet know in real life.  I embroidered her Day of the Dead Marigold Onesie that very afternoon and got it all wrapped up and ready to go.  

I mailed it off yesterday, along with a little present for Martha Stewart's grandchildren.

One of my new Fun Little Things promoting attempts!

     And as soon as I got home from the post office, I checked my email to find ANOTHER "congratulations on your Etsy sale" email!  This time for one of my Day of the Dead Sugar Skull Onesies.  I can not believe how much people are loving my Day of the Dead embroidery patterns.  Remember, friends, I can do any of these patterns on any size onesie or on a flour sack kitchen towel.  Check them all out in my shop and send me a message or leave me a comment here if you have any questions or special requests.  

 PS - In case you haven't heard, Etsy now offers site-wide gift cards that can be used in any shop! A perfect present for your loved ones who love supporting small, handmade business!  And to help get the word out, Etsy is entering anyone who buys a gift card into a sweepstakes to win a $250 Etsy gift card.  Four winners a week!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Hi friends,

     I know what you are all thinking, oh man, I love Halloween! But I still have a few more weeks to figure out my costume, right? No! It is only a little over a week until the weekend before, which is probably when most of you will be celebrating.   Apparently, being an adult and having a job makes celebrating on a Wednesday not such a good idea.  And a lot of the days between then and now will be taken up at work, and not at all helpful in planning your costume.  What are you to do? Well...

     Luckily for all of you, you know me, and I know a very cool girl named Shelly!

And yes, that is a mimosa in my hand, but don't worry, friends,
I promise this picture is from pre-pregnancy!

     Well, this very cool girl, Shelly, makes some very cool Halloween costumes! For adults!  Comfortable! Warm! With inside pockets for your stuff! And they are guaranteed to be the hit of whatever party or bar you are at for your halloween celebrating!  Best of all, they are for sale!

     There is a bear (lovingly named shreddy teddy because of a very similar bear she made that is occasionally worn while "shredding the sick pow" aka snowboarding).

 A lion - clearly the king of the jungle!

     A white or a brown dog, with super soft, cute little pink ears!

     There is also a giraffe (which sadly I do not have pictures of, but it is pretty much the cutest giraffe head I have ever seen), and coming soon there will be a cheetah, a koala and a zebra!

     Check out her craigslist postings or contact me for more details on how to purchase one of these amazing halloween costumes for yourself!  She accepts cash or credit card and will even ship for people who are cool!

     Any of you who have actually planned and prepared, I want to know what you are going to be! Comments, please!

                                                       Happy Halloween, everyone!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Baby Room!


 I may have gone a little crazy last week...


     I was all excited to start making fun new Dia de los Muertos onesies and bibs to get ready for the craft fair.  I was even thinking about making dish towels and tote bags! And then, instead of designing new patterns or getting out the calavera fabric and terry cloth, I cleaned our closet.  I mean, I really cleaned it! Took hours, cleaning and organizing and sorting and getting rid of crap!  And I loved it! Later that night I kept peeking in the closet to see how good it looked!

     Then, the next day, I cleaned out and organized all of our files.  It had been years!

Then, the desk!

and the box of "school supplies" (aka perhaps millions of little pieces of paper, some of it shiny, pens, random little toys, paper clips and a lot of dust) on the back of the desk.

Then, the giant shelf in the office covered with craft supplies and random storage.  It also had a big stack of Gourmet, Bon Apetit and Sunset magazines we were saving because of delicious looking recipes.  I spent 4 hours going through all of them, ripping out all of the recipes that looked delicious and sorting them into my recipe notebooks!

Then... the worst/ best of all! The guest closet.  Or, as I usually thought of it, the place where I might die, buried in stuff that falls on me during an earthquake.

     The whole point of all of this was to turn the guest room into a baby room, the office into a guest room and move the desk into the living room! And somehow, have room to keep the stuff we need and want, and have it stay clean and organized.  For those who haven't been to our house, it is very small, there is really only 1 closet (it just has doors into both bedrooms), and it has no attic, basement or garage. So everything we want to keep has to be kept inside.  Ok, ok, yes, we have two little sheds in the backyard, filled with garden, camping, beer making and teaching supplies, but that is it.  The pictures above are the piles of stuff that had to go!  We had a big yard sale and gave everything that was left to Goodwill.

It was amazing!

      I love feeling clean, and organized and purging all of this stuff!  It feels free and light and fabulous.  Also, after all of that, we were able to move the (now clean and organized) desk and files into the living room.  I love having it out here, finally somewhere I can put flowers in the room I unquestionable spend the most time in!

We even had photos from our trips to Ecuador and Hawaii printed
to have framed and put up on the walls!
The guest bed is in the new, tiny guest room, along with the keggerator.

The comfy chair, beautiful new baby dresser and the amazing crib that came in the mail on Thursday are now in the new baby room.

Curtains and wall decorations coming soon!

The big shelf is clean and organized and in the dining room.  And I love all the changes!  Feels like a new house.  Kyle was so calm and patient and helpful through all of this! I got to be crazy and make big piles of junk to be moved, thrown out, recycled, shredded, sold, donated and organized.  He moved all of the heavy stuff (I can't believe it, but I am 25 weeks pregnant already, that is almost 6 months, and this belly is finally getting big enough to really get in the way), loaded the car for the momentous goodwill run and kept me laughing through all of it.  And on only one occasion did he suggest that I should go hang out with the broody chicken!

      Lacey on the other hand, thinks all of the changes are horrible.  The whole week as I was cleaning and organizing, she was alternating between giving me depressed looks while lying in the corner, and playing with toys and acting like a puppy right where I was trying to clean.  She was pretty convinced only bad things could come of cleaning.  Probably a sign we don't do enough big cleaning around here.

     Before I actually started, this big house rearrange was all I could think about.  All the parts of it were on every to do list I made for my days, yet I kept putting them off, along with pretty much everything else on those to do lists.  Now that it is done, I can actually do things again!

We took Lacey to the beach.  I have gone to yoga twice already this week.

I had my favorite kind of Sunday Funday with Kyle; we made enough pasta to last for a few months at least, including tonight's dinner of butternut squash ravioli!

I bought LOTS of onesies and designed my new Dia de los Muertos patterns!

I ironed and started cutting fabric for bibs.  I have been embroidering any time I am not up and running around.

I made brownies, finally made our baby registry, changed the sheets and did all of the laundry!  And I am doing that new blog entry I kept moving to the to do list for the next day!

     And to all of my friends in the San Diego area - Sunday! Noon to 5pm, Centro Cultural de la Raza (In Balboa park, off of Park Blvd,) North Park Craft Mafia "Dia de los Muertos" craft show!

     We will be there with my fun new Day of the Dead and Halloween themed items along with all of the usual Fun Little Things we all know and love! Come check us out, get a free sugar skull, make a mask and see all of the other awesome local vendors selling their creations.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Save the Date!

October 14th!
I will be selling all of my Fun Little Things, with a special emphasis on Dia de los Muertos themed items, at a super exciting sounding Day of the Dead craft show at the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park!
The show is being put on by a group called The North Park Craft Mafia, a group I am very excited to get more involved with.  

I can't wait to see all of the other great Dia de los Muertos items being sold by other local crafty, talented, passionate artists in the San Diego area.  Should be a fun day for everyone, there will even be a booth there where anyone can decorate their own Calaveras de Azucar to take home and put on your altar or just add a little fun decoration for the fall!

In other news...

     I am super proud of myself and my math skills!

     When working at the markets this summer, both North Park and Solana Beach, I have been very strict with myself about remembering that this is a business.  Or at least, I really want it to be.  I am not allowed to use business money to buy myself lemonade and delicious snacks and more importantly, I need to keep track of the inventory being sold, and work out my actual profits (or losses) keeping in mind ALL of my costs.

     Although it obviously doesn't look very fancy, this simple little chart I made in my much abused business notebook is perfect for helping me keep track of what I sell.  Across the top I have the different onesie sizes, bib, and other as categories.  Other includes diaper bags, clutches, bunting, swaddling blankets and dish towels.  As items sell, I simply note down what specific onesie or bib was sold.  This helps me keep track of what is popular and makes it easy to add up how much money came to me during each market.  I also have a record of what I have to remake or take out of my Etsy Shop if I am out of supplies.  Alright, that part was easy, a little bit trickier was figuring out my actual costs to work out my profits/loss.

But I did it!

Booth fee was easy.  The cost to make each bib or each onesie was pretty easy too.  Cost per yard of the fabric, how many I can make with a yard, a little more for the snap, or cost of the onesie, free shipping from amazon, a few cents for the embroidery thread, easy breezy!

The North Park market is only two miles from my house, so I left my costs at that.

The Solana Beach market, however, is about 20 miles from my house, so to be honest with myself, I knew I had to work out the mileage costs to and from the market and add that in.  

According to the IRS, businesses can claim, or pay their employees 55 cents per mile. 55 cents per mile!  I know they take into account insurance, maintenance fees and car value depreciation, but this is ridiculous!  My Jetta gets 40 mpg on the freeway.  There is no way it costs me 55 cents per mile to get anywhere.  So, being prone to occasional laziness, I was very tempted to just make up some number.  You can see that big crossed out section near the top, I actually did make up some number and do the math with the mileage, but then, my responsible (and slightly nerdy) self, triumphed and I really worked it out.  

I had to think really hard.  I almost called my dad for help.  I channeled all I learned about unit conversions in high school chemistry (thank you Mr. Yoo and Dad!).  **Warning- Its about to get really nerdy here, feel free to skip to the next paragraph if you aren't as excited as me by the fact that I still have some math skills. **  I gave my car 38 m/g (because of the roof rack on top).  I knew I got that mileage over the total 47.4 miles there and back.  Ok, math words... over means... division! Ok, that means I used a total of .801 gallons there and back.  Ok, what is the current cost of diesel (yes, the fabulous Jetta uses diesel, as I have to tell strange men every time I am filling it up at the gas station and they feel the need to save me from destroying my car.  That is why it gets such awesome mileage)?  Pull up my Gas Buddy App, diesel near my house costs 4.59/gallon.  Ok, gallons I used times cost per gallon. All my units cancel out! Left with $3.68 gas cost there and back! Phew! And Woo!

So I actually made some money both weeks at the Solana Beach Market! Excellent! 

     A little note here.  

Thank you, thank you, thank you Kyle!  

     He works hard all week long and still takes his Sunday to come help me at the market.  Carrying all the heavy stuff! Helping me set up the tent and table!  Shopping for meats, veggies and snacks while I sell! Watching the table to let me take bathroom breaks (more and more frequent these days!) And spending the day with me, making it so much more fun!

Second note!

     Last week Fun Little Things started selling these beautiful little fruit caps at my market stands!

They are sweet, and beautiful and soft and I can't stop touching them and staring at them.  They are knit by my mom and their cuteness brings lots of people to my stand who also can't help touching and oohing and aahing over them.  Now if it just wasn't 85 degrees every day and people would actually buy them.  On second thought... maybe I just want two people to buy them, then I could still keep one of each for my little baby girl!
Thank you, Mama, for the great addition to my table!

Also, and totally unrelated, a blog I read, Domestically Unemployed, does a post every Monday called Monday Motivation.  Not all of her quotes or pictures motivate or inspire me every Monday, but I love the idea of taking a day to appreciate how amazing my life is and all of the opportunities I have, and using that to get me going on all there is to do in my day and week.

So my own, short, version of Monday Motivation this morning!  Two things that speak to me and always bring a smile to my face and help me get going...

Listening to Open a New Window from the musical Mame.  My family went to see it when I was little. It was right around Christmas time, it was snowy and cold, I got to wear a pretty dress but had to wear tights!  I remember LOVING it and coming out singing!  This is one song I still play at full volume while singing along with all I've got.  
It became my personal theme song when I got that lay-off notice in March, and it has had many chances to re-inspire me in the 6 months since.

A quote from Mother Teresa-

"We can do no great things, only small things with great love."

It is up on my chalk boards in the dining room right now, and I don't see it coming down any time soon.

So on that note, I am off to do many small things with great love!  I hope you all have a wonderful Monday and week!