Friday, July 31, 2015

Local Flavors Swap Reveal

I got a big package in the mail yesterday!  I saw the Tennessee Vols packaging tape and knew immediate it had to be my Local Flavors Swap package!  I was partnered with Maggie of The Novel Orange and we had so much fun getting to know each other and discovering all the things we had in common.  I've done the "Find Your Spot" quiz twice now, and both times got a lot of results for towns in Tennessee.  I couldn't wait to see what Magie had chosen.

This swap was organized by the gals at Chaotic Goddess Swaps.  They always do such a great job organizing everything.  For this swap you're supposed to send your partner at least five treats that represent your state or region.  Maggie went way over five!   Here's what she chose for me:

Here's the details:
  • Some information about Amish country and some of the businesses my goodies came from.
  • A cute little Amish postcard.
  • A cute little southern mason jar with a welcoming  "Hey Y'all" on chevron printed burlap.
  • An Amish stamped, camo printed can coozie.
  • Peanut brittle.
  • A sachet of apple spice and cinnamon potpourri.
  • A wooden shot glass from Amish Country. 
  • A metal "K" with a burlap bow.
  • Some Amish made lye soap, which smells super fresh and clean.
  • A cute little camper wagon charm.
  • A yummy scented candle.
  • A jar of apple butter.
  • And my favorite- an Amish swivel basket.  (Kind of like a cross between a basket and a lazy suzan.)
Maggie picked things I just loved.  Good smells, and natural style.  The peanut brittle is super yummy!  And I can't wait to try the apple butter on homemade bread.  I think I'll put the basket in my office and use it to hold sewing or stamping supplies.  The "K" is going to go up in my office.  It was so fun seeing everything she picked and getting a little taste of Tennessee.

Want to see everyone elses' reveal?  Just click below to be taken to the link up.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

I'm in Love (With a Tank Top)

I have this dream of having a minimalist closet, with only a few items of clothing, but that I love every item and wear them all regularly. They're all in a similar color palette and all fit perfectly, and most of it is sewn by me. I love tanks, because I can layer them under long sleeve shirts when it's chilly, or wear them alone when it's muggy and hot out. I buy knit tops from Kohls, but I really like woven tops because they look dressier and they can be hard to find in cute patterns and/or at reasonable prices. So, yesterday I was scrolling through Craftsy looking for a tank top pattern that had some fit to it but wasn't too tight or two low.  Enter the Ella Tank from Liola Patterns.

It had only a few pieces, two darts, and a small gather in the back.  It looked promising.  I bought the PDF and got started.  It went together fast and was super easy, but the end results were pretty amazing!  It fits like a dream, flares just right and is gorgeous.

The fabric was this swiss dot, bird and flower print I bought last summer intending to use the pattern I showed in this post but after I finished my wearable muslin, I decided I didn't like the pattern.  It was cut really big and looked like a swimsuit coverup, not a shirt to wear out and about.  So the fabric has just been sitting in my stash waiting to be used.

Liola is an indie pattern company and you can find their patterns all over online.  Craftsy carries six patterns for women's tops and after trying this one, I can't wait to try some others.  This pattern came in four sizes.  I cut the large and sewed it up within a couple hours.  I don't really think there's anything I'd change about it.  In fact, I plan on making more.  The recommendations for for lightweight fabrics, but I have some Anna Maria Horner quilting cotton I want to take a shot at.  I think it would work, just probably lose some of it's nice drape.

If you're looking for a fast project and have at least basic sewing skills, I'd really recommend this pattern.  Do you have any Indie sewing companies you really like?  Leave me their name in the comments.  I'm always looking for new companies.

This post contains affiliate links, but all opinions are my own.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Musical Mondays- Mumford & Sons "The Cave"

I've been in a rut.  I'm betting some of you noticed this, due to the recent lack of posts.  Work has been slow, but instead of meaning I have more energy, I feel like I have less.  I got into a path of negative thinking where I feel like I'm wasting my time with my job, and it's not meaningful, and I'm feeling unfulfilled intellectually and even unfulfilled in my spirit.  When really, I should have been thankful that I had more time to plan stuff around home and use the down time at work to finish some work projects.  Instead, I just kind of ground to a stop.

But this past Wednesday, something happened.  One of my best friends was attacked.  Some guy with a knife came up behind here while she was walking that evening and threw her to the ground and intended to rape her, but she fought him off, got his knife away from him and ran home.  The cops caught the guy, because he also had dropped his cell phone in the scuffle.  My friend seems to be doing pretty well besides a little cut on her face, and a bad case of poison ivy from wrestling this guy in the ditch.

It just makes you think, how much worse it could have been, how sucky it is that a woman can't walk alone after dark, and how much you can hate someone without ever meeting them.  I'm not naive, I understand rape happens, but in my twisted logic head it's at parties were people are drunk, or on blind dates, or Law and Order:SVU.  Not in my little tiny town, and certainly not to someone as sweet as my friend.  I was angry for a couple days, and I'm still worried for my friend, but then my attitude kind of changed.

After grilling my husband (who used to be a cop) about the best methods for disarming someone who is attacking you (sense I too walk alone, most days on my supper break), I kind of realized I can't control what happens.  You never know who you're going to cross paths with and what their intentions are.  And sense hating this pervert who attacked my friend- which really does nothing to him, and just makes me angry, all that all I can do is love the people around me better.  When one of my coworkers ask me to do something that they are perfectly capable of doing themselves, I can do it with a smile.  I can offer help to others without being asked, build others up, give compliments and thanks, and try to think of ways to make others' burdens lighter.  No one likes a Debbie Downer.  And to be honest, when I'm down, I'm 100% down, but when I'm upbeat, I'm 100% upbeat.  I rarely have days that are so-so, I'm all in no matter what mood I'm in.  So, I need to consciously strive for happy.  And it's a proven fact that helping others is one of the best ways to make yourself happy.

Is being happy going to prevent anyone I love from being hurt?  No, but being down is not going to neither, so I might as well choose happy.  I might as well choose to help others.  To listen to their thoughts and try to carry their worries with them.  Nothing in life is certain, all I can control is my actions and emotions.

So, after all that, here's my song of the week:

I love the lines:
And I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again 
I know it's easy to get self absorbed, and think only about what affects us.  But don't lose faith.  And remember to love each other. It's not always easy, and sometimes it's downright hard, but it is right.

And of course, head over to My So Called Chaos to link up and see what everyone else is listening to this week.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Craftsy Summer Closeout Sale!

Guess what!  Craftsy is having a ginormous sale right now, through July 27. There's a ton of great kits and supplies available. Here's just a sampling of some of the sewing kits. You get the fabric and pattern for a price cheaper than you could get the fabric in some cases. 

I ordered a tote bag kit, and dress kit, and two yards of Cotton + Steel fabric, all at steep discounts.  There's lots of options for potential Christmas presents, or for selfish sewing.  For example, the Sewaholic Cambie dress kit is $26.  It comes with the pattern from Sewaholic and three yards of name brand fabric.  If I would have bought the pattern alone, it's $19.98 at Sewaholic's website.  So basically, I'm getting three yards of Dear Stella cotton poplin fabric for $6.  That's quite a deal.

If you're not a sewer, no worries, There are supplies and kits on sale for quilters, crocheters, knitters, painters, paper project workers, and even cake decorators.  You really have to check it out.


 I'm a Craftsy affiliate, but the saving are legit.  If you craft, I really recommend checking them out.  I love them, and I think you will too!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Podcast Recommendations

Back in May I gave some of my podcast recommendations.  I still love podcasts and now have a few new recommendations to share.

Stuff You Should Know- This is a cousin to Stuff You Missed in History Class, both are from Stuff Network.  While I still prefer Stuff You Missed in History Class, I really do like Stuff You Should Know.  The hosts of SYSK are funny and witty and geeky all at the same time.  I think I might have a little bit of a fan girl crush on Josh.  This podcast always teaches me something new, even if the topic is something I think I know all about.  Favorite episode so far: What is a Numbers Station

Happier with Gretchen Rubin- Spoiler alert: I finished The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin this month.  But, before I read the book, I had stumbled across her podcast after she guested on an episode of The Accidental Creative.  Gretchen and her sister Elizabeth do this podcast together, and it's fun and lighthearted and full of practical tips that are easy to apply to every day life.  Favorite episode so far: Podcast #4: One-Sentence Journals, Marathoners vs. Sprinters, & Parking-Lot Snacks

Slow Your Home Podcast- This is an Australian podcast hosted by Brooke McAlary all about living a more minimalist lifestyle.  I love Brooke.  She's funny and encouraging, and makes me feel like I can live well with less stuff in my life.  Most episodes is her interviewing someone and it's just fun hearing how other minimalists live, why they chose a minimalist lifestyle, and what they're day to day life is like.  Favorite episode so far: Episode 5: Rhythm Baby

Monday, July 13, 2015

Musical Mondays- Don't Let Go from Swiss American Federation

So it's Monday and that means it's time to share some music with you all.  But first a little background.  I'm currently reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and in it she talks about her 12 Commandments and one of them is to lighten up.  She mentions how she loves kid fiction- like Madeline L'Engle or The Chronicles of Narnia, but she always felt embarrassed about it.  Then one day, she was talking to a friend and realized they shared a mutual love of Harry Potter so they decided to start an adult book club that only read kids books, and it was so much fun.

So today, I'm going to share something that I would normally not, because it's kind of childish, and doesn't fit the grown up "vibe" I aim for with my blog.  But, I liked it, and I'm embracing lightening up, and not focusing so much on what others think of me.  So here it is.

Cat videos people.  It's a cat video, with a great song.  Check it out.

I really liked the song playing in the background, so I found it online, and even though it looks like it's filmed in a karaoke bar, I included it in case you can't handle faux dog on cat/human violence. :)

So, this week, don't be afraid to be silly or light-hearted.  Not everything has to be a revelation. If you like something,you shouldn't have to apologize for it.  Just embrace it.  And be sure to head over to My So Called Chaos to check out the rest of the link up.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Feeling Cranky?

I had a work meeting on Tuesday morning.  Tuesday was also my day off, so I resolved to go to the morning session at 7:30 and get it over and done with.  I got up and through on some decent clothes and headed in to work about six hours after I had gone to bed to the night before.  The meeting felt like a waste of time.  (They call them Monthly Staff Meeting- but it's really just a chance for the bosses to tell us what they're changing in the coming month.)  I left feeling tired and unheard.  That started my day in a funk that continued through.  Things that normally would have been a small inconvenience had me on the verge of tears and everything felt extremely frustrating. So I compiled a list of ways to beat that cranky feeling.  I did some of these, and some helped a little, but ultimately #10 did the trick.

  1. Take a walk.  If you're at work, go on your lunch or break, if you can't and you work in an office, hand deliver something to someone outside of your department.  If you're carrying an interdepartmental envelope, people tend to let you be.  There's plenty of times I need to get away, and I hand deliver something instead of emailing it, or go to the central supply area to get something instead of calling them to bring it up.  Walk.  It's good for your body and brain.
  2. Give yourself a treat.  This doesn't mean eat whatever you want, but if you can buy a small ice cream or a latte without feeling guilty- do it and savor it.  A little treat may be just what you need.  If you don't want to reward yourself with food, buy a new lip balm or a book or something to look forward to.
  3. Write it down.  Just dump the words on the page.  Why are you cranky?  What's at the root of the feelings.  No one else has to see what you wrote and if you're embarrassed by your words, you can always throw them away later.
  4. Pray about it.  A lot of times I think praying just helps me feel less stressed and that if someone is annoying me, it's not really that major in the grand scheme of things.
  5. Do something nice for someone.  Hold the door for someone, say hi to a stranger, make eye contact and smile.  If you're feeling really ambitious, you can try paying it forward by buying someone's lunch in line behind you, or leaving a big tip for a waitress.  It's hard to feel cranky when you're making a point to do nice things for others.
  6. Get outside.  Go to a park and sit and listen to the birds.  Or have a cup of coffee on your front steps.  Watch the moths and butterflies.  Pay attention to the squirrels.  Just enjoy some nature.
  7. Take a bath.  It doesn't matter if it's not bedtime- if you're at home, and have half an hour to spare, go soak in the tub.  Sylvia Plath said, "There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them."  (Maybe she should have taken her own advice a little more often.)
  8.  Take a nap.  I find that this one usually helps a lot.  
  9. Organize.  Put that anger to good use.  I took all my food items out of the cupboard Tuesday and threw out anything that was expired, and reorganized the baking supplies, teas, coffees, and pantry.  I felt much better when it was done.
  10. Just go to bed.  Even if it's early.  Sometimes, the best thing you can do, is go to sleep and trust that you'll wake up feeling recharged and refreshed.

    What's your secret for getting over those feelings of annoyance and crankiness?

Sunday, July 5, 2015

July 2015 Reading List

So I didn't finish any of my June Reading books in June.  But, I did finish one in July.  And speaking of which, here's my other picks for July!

The Feast Nearby by Robin Mather is another food book.  I've been on a food book kick lately, reading Eat, Nourish, Glow and In Defense of Food last month, so I figured wny not make it a third.

Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan is a set of short stories that take place in Africa.  It sounds kind of gut wrenching, and it's not something I would normally read, but I think it's good to read things you normally wouldn't read every once in a while.

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich was sent to me by Kenzie in my Favorite Color swap.  (Side note: my favorite color is yellow, want to see how she managed to send me a red book in a sea of yellow?  Check out the post.)  Anyhow, it's finally to give Janet Evanovich a try.  I've had about a bazillion people recommend her to me.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin was loaned to me by a friend.  I kept meaning to pick it up, but it wasn't until I heard Gretchen's podcast of the same name that I decided it was time to pull it off the shelf and give it a try.

So, that's what I'm planning on reading.  Any recommendations for the future?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

July Goals (and Recap of June)

Another month and more goals. But first, here's how I did in June:
  • Give up coffee creamer. This actually went pretty well.  I gave up creamer before I went on vacation to the U.P. so I think that helped. I drank my coffee with milk while on vacation, and then by the time I got home, I was ready to just drink it black.  I thought this was going to be way harder than it was. 
  • Walk every day for at least 15 minutes.  I didn't do this every day.  But, I really only missed a couple days and one was due to rain.  If I didn't get a walk in before work, I would go on my lunch break at work and listen to a podcast while I walked along.  In fact, the background picture for my July goals (seen before) was taken on one of these walks.  I've also been riding my bike a lot to run errands and to go to the park.  And, by only setting a time of 15 minutes, I find that I don't feel like I don't have time to get it done, and most of the time I end up going at least a half hour.  But, if I am pressed for time, 15 minutes still feels like success sense that's the requirement I set.
  • Blog at least three times a week.  Success!  Using a blogging calendar and setting time aside to plan has really made all the difference.  I plan on continuing that in July.
  • Continue to get up by 7:30 on weekdays.  Once again, there was a couple days where I slept in until 8.  But, for the most part, I've done really well.  And, I actually have cut back on naps too.  I think it's from cutting out a lot of sugar.  (I haven't bought anything but water from the vending machines at work for over a month- no pop, no candy, no chips.)

Now.  Here's what I have planned for July...

  • Write every day.  Specifically, using The Writer's Workbook for an exercise every day.
  • Eat breakfast in the park at least once a week.  I've gotten up a couple mornings, and biked to the park at the other side of town (remember: my town is small, this literally takes 15 minutes tops) and eat breakfast in the park, write, read, and just watch the geese.  There's usually no one else there, and it's so peaceful, and usually very productive.  It's just about making the time to do it.  
  • Sew three big projects.  I finished a commission last month, and am ready to get back to sewing for me.  I have a wedding to go to, a couple birthdays, and such coming up so I want to get some sewing done for them.  I have this tote bag kit from Craftsy that I want to make, and a few others in mind.
  • Continue to eat less sugar and be more conscientious about what I eat.  Lose five pounds by the end of the month.  I feel like I finally have a grip on diet and exercise and moderation.  I think good things are going to be happening!  :)
So what are you hoping to accomplish in July?  And want to see what everyone else is doing?  Check out the monthly link up hosted by My So Called Chaos and  A Peek at Karen's World.

Monthly Goals

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

June Book Recap

I felt like I read a lot in June, but I didn't get through nearly as may books as I was hoping.  I also found a lot of new reads at used bookstores this month.  (Oops!)

I read all nonfiction this month! I think that has to be a first.  Here's a little synopsis.

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.  I like anything Michael writes. He's clear, he makes science easy to understand and he doesn't make food seem overwhelming.  His book is basically about why we should eat more real food- food that doesn't have an ingredient list, because it's the ingredient- broccoli, eggs, watermelon, etc.  He talks about how we got so off track and various food studies and why the whole way we think about food is flawed.  Very good read.  He sums up his food philosophy very succinctly: Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.

You Are Talented! by Patrick Kavanaugh.  This book is great for people who feel like they're just mediocre at life.  It's a great practical guide for finding and honing your talents.  Whether you feel like there's a spark of talent inside you're trying to grow into a flame, or you think your talents are just a pile of cold embers, this book will encourage you to dig deep and find what your talents are- and grow them.

The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry.  I think we all know that I'm a Todd Henry fan by know.  I recommended his podcast, and posted about morning rituals a few months ago.  This was his first book, and presented a lot of the same things he's podcasted about, but it was nice to have everything laid out in order.  I took a lot of notes, and even though the book is geared towards people that have creative 9-5s, I found a lot it very helpful.

Eat. Nourish. Glow by Amelia Freer.  I had been wanting to read this book for a few months and finally inter-library loaned it.  It's got lots of pretty photos, so good recipes, and is really laid out in an easy to understand manner.  Amelia has a similar philosophy to Michael Pollan, in that you should only be eating real food- plenty of plants, and fruits, nuts, and seeds.  It's not a diet book, but more about adjusting your lifestyle.  Very good!

A trip to St. Vinnie's was responsible for a lot of my acquired list, but when softcovers are only 50 cents, how can a girls say no?  Here's a list of what I picked up.

So, that's how my month shaped up bookwise.  How was yours?

Books read for the year: 21
Books acquired this year: 29