Monday, April 28, 2008

I've been working on the railroad

. . . and by "railroad" I mean "Etsy Shop". I've been a little cranky about my slowdown in sales lately (shakes fist at gas and milk prices). I think the slump is mostly due to tax season . . . but it comes at a bad time since I've just introduced a ton of new items. So is the slump tax related, or do my new items suck? Time will tell . . .but I'm holding out hope that the issue is the economy, which seems rational considering that I had a sale this morning (to coincide perfectly with the first rush of "economic stimulus" payments!).

Adding to my general malaise is the fact that one of my most favorite thimble necklaces was featured on Etsy's front page yesterday and was viewed over 600 times, but still sits unloved and unbought in my shop. Sigh. I think I'm going to start thinking of the last few weeks as stocking up my shop for the inevitable slew of tax return shoppers instead of a "slump". It'd be better for my psyche!

Of the new items I've been adding, the linen cuff bracelets are totally my favorite to make and wear. I haven't sold any yet but they're getting tons of views so I do think they'll start moving soon. And in this particular case, if they don't sell thats kind of ok by me cause i can just keep them all (:D). I've got 2 more new ones to list this week, and of the cuffs listed so far the one pictured, Catherine of Aragon, is totally my favorite. So much so that I made myself a matching one last night . . . to cheer me up! :)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

How freakin lucky am i?

To have a full on farmers market going on just blocks away from my office every Thursday? Its literally so close that I can run over, do a full week's vegetable shopping, and be back at my desk in under 30 minutes. Weekend markets really tick me off. They're overpriced, loud, and full of women using their strollers as crowd battering rams (Thats your child in there. Seriously.). The Thursday market is practically empty though; the only actual lines are for the prepared lunch type items. Its great to be the only freak who wants a head of cauliflower at 1:15pm on a weekday. And the onions!!! Yellow, red, white, leeks, green, and then varieties of onions I didn't even know existed like sprouted sweet onions in red and green.

Today I ran over and got a few heads of garlic, a bunch of carrots, a zucchini, 3 bell peppers and 4 onions. I spent $4.70. Awesome.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In my old age . . .

I've become somewhat less able to see. I always had a bit of a nearsightedness issue with my left eye. Even in high school I had a pair of glasses perscribed for "seeing the board" purposes. I didn't wear them often though (until college when I figured out that I looked kinda cool with them on and wore them ALL THE TIME).

I hit a low a few months ago with the sight thing: I was driving a 5 year old to a birthday party (not my 5 year old, someone else's) and I literally could NOT read the street signs. I asked the 5 year old to read them for me and when she protested that she couldn't actually read yet (at least not words like "La Cienega") I told her "Thats fine, bug. Just read me the letters." Its around that time that I decided to get a new pair of glasses.

I have a fantastic pair purchased through my insurance, Prada frames! (The only Prada I'm ever likely to own) I love my glasses, but when I heard about Zenni Optical on NPR a few weeks ago I thought it was worth checking out. Zenni sells perscription glasses (also with optional sunglass tinting!) at seriously insane prices. If you're used to paying at least $100 for a pair of glasses, even at a bargain place like Lens Crafters, you're sure to be astounded by their $8 frame selection.

I haven't actually placed an order with them yet, but thats only because I can't decide which frames I want to try. The, ahem, red plaid glasses pictured above have caught my eye in a major way. I'm fairly "normal looking" in general, so I can usually get away with an oddball accessory or two . . . but what do you guys think, is red plaid "too much"? And if so, doesn't the price tag ($12.95!) sort of make it ok?

Listening:  Christie Front Drive- "Valentine"

Monday, April 21, 2008

The most insanely wonderful $14 jacket on earth.

While I can get away with jeans and tee shirts most of the time at the office, I do prefer to dress things up a little bit (if only because my Etsy work is usually done on the sofa in pyjamas!). I adore jackets of all kinds, and with the weather starting to warm up (shakes fist at LA sun!) its been getting a bit uncomfortable to wear them. I have one short sleeved jacket that I've been wearing pretty much incessantly this month. There's just something so "cutesy" about most short sleeve jackets, like you're dressed to go to a garden party and not an office. The one I've had is more of a bomber style, so its a bit tough. I've had a heck of a time finding any others that I like though.

Thankfully, I found a GREAT new option over the weekend, definitely not garden party material! Now, work with me here and imagine the tie completely going away (ties are for garden parties). What you've got leftover is a perfectly fitting (stretchy twill!) jacket thats covered up enough to wear just a cami underneath and comes in tonnnns of great colors. I bought one in rust and another in dark beige. I would've picked up a navy and a grey too but they were out of my size in those colors (there are other stores! I could check the other stores!). Best of all, with a simple tank top underneath the neckline is still modest enough for work, but leaves tons of room to show off an awesome necklace. Which, you know, comes in handy when you're a necklace-maker :)

Listening: To my most awesome new mix CD that the boy and I made this weekend: Division Day, Evan Voytas, BrakesBrakesBrakes, Pretty the Quick Black Eyes, Christie Front Drive, All sorts of goodness!!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sundry bits for the day

1) REALLY, Gap? And $45? Mindblowing.

2) Razors with five blades. When I first started shaving two blades was kinda revolutionary. Does this mean my children will be shaving with 12?

3) Another one for the WTF File

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Living quite happily without paper towels

I ran out of paper towels about a month ago and due to various reasons (but mainly my inability to be bothered much by my own minutiae. See also how I don't change burnt out light bulbs.) I haven't bought any more. I've been existing quite happily using a stash of washcloths which I use, rinse out, then wash with my laundry at the end of the week.

So far, the only sticking point has been the boy's desire to have a napkin with dinner every night. I know lots of people make their own napkins for washing and reuse and I'm sure I'll sit down and do that at some point, but I'm not sure exactly what to make them out of (materials suggestions, if anyone has them, please!).

At least I thought that was the only sticking point . . . last night when I pointed out that I hadn't had paper towels in the house for a month and I'd been getting along fine without them, the boy sort of balked. He actually called me a hippie. Then I said "That's all very well dear, but I'm going to blog about the no paper towels thing tomorrow and I bet you others will agree that paper towels aren't all that". To which he replied "Fine, I'll start my own blog, in which I'll call you a hippie." (whatever.)

The boy's reticence aside, I actually feel pretty good about not using paper towels. Environmentally and in the sense that I'm not spending money on them anymore. Also, they've always been a tough thing to store in a one bedroom apartment and now I don't have to. So there.
Listening:  Idlewild- "Roseability"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dinner in 15 minutes flat

And a restaurant quality salad at that! I made this just as a way to put together a light dinner over the weekend and liked it so much that I made it again last night.

Black Bean Salad

1 yellow onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 roma tomato, diced
3 green onions, sliced
a big handful of cilantro, chopped
1 lime
1-2 hearts of romaine, washed well and cut into ribbons (1 head will serve 2, you can stretch this to serve 3-4 w/ two heads) (yep, I'm suggesting 1/2 a can of beans can constitute one serving. Thats the best part of being a vegetarian . . . getting to eat food in shocking quantities.)
(Optional: 1 jalapeno pepper, cut into a tiny dice and/or prepared salsa verde to dress)

- pour boiling water over the corn to thaw
- in a large frying pan, sweat onion and peppers with a bit of olive oil until they are caramelized and a little charred. turn off heat and squeeze in 1/4 of the lime and add some salt.
- meanwhile, prepare the rest of the veggies and mix all, except the lettuce, in a big bowl w/ the juice of 1/2 of the lime and some salt
-dress lettuce alone w/ remaining 1/4 of lime and salt
-Serve bowls of lettuce topped with black bean mixture

Honestly, I was in and out of the kitchen in under 15 minutes (all the better for my beading). This is going to be one of my go to recipes this summer when its too hot to cook much! I always feel like I haven't really eaten unless I've eaten something hot or cooked . . . so this salad is especially great because the grilled onions and peppers cover the 'cooked' base.

Listening:  Built To Spill- "Car"

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I feel all Jane Eyre now!

I did it!!!! I made wrist cuffs!!! 7 of them :) 5 for my shop and 2 for me (although one of mine needs some more tweaking before it'll fit properly (freakishly small appendages, I have)).

I found a great solution to the leather issue . . .linen! Joann had 100% linen on sale for about $8 a yard so I bought some to experiment and I LOVE it! Totally easy to work with, really great looking, and natural and breathable (light enough for summer, even!). I also picked up some stiff, fusible craft interfacing and a few closure options (velcro, sew in snaps and coat weight hook and eyes). Then I more or less just went for it.

I had to rip out a few seams, I broke a machine needle or two . . . but in the end I made cuffs with lace, ones with ribbons, ones with gemstones sewn in. And they all miraculously came out exactly as I'd pictured them. They're a bit fidgety to make (two layers of linen to deal with, clasps to figure out, some hand sewing involved) but I've never minded a good fidget.

Then I did the hard part: some nosing around Etsy to make sure my cuffs were unique enough to put up there. I always try to do my Etsy research AFTER I've made new items rather than before, because I don't want to accidentally get "too inspired" by any one piece. The truth is, I'm inspired by lots of things, and lately just because I've been working so hard on my shop, lots of the things I'm exposed to and in turn inspired by are items on Etsy (see post below on cuffs I love and how I want to make my own!). I try to be super careful that none of my items fall into the category of plagiarizing or copying. Thankfully, I didn't find much of anything listed as a "linen cuff" and as for cuffs with gemstones, those are mostly actual "jewelry items" instead of sewn items. I'm confident that my cuffs are uniquely ME and I'm so excited to add them to my shop!

I've listed one cuff so far and I plan to list the remaining ones over the next week or so. The first went up yesterday evening and its views are doing really well so far. I'm hoping they do sell, but of course if they don't thats fine too because it means I'll be able to keep them all! :D

Listening:  Jealous Sound- "The Fold Out" Best. Video. Ever.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Keeping It Together

My bead stash is expanding to the point where its going to require its own piece of furniture soon. Since the boy and I will be making a move sometime this year though, I'm trying to make do for the moment with a collection of plastic storage containers. No point in buying new furniture to fit an apartment I'm not planning on staying in for much longer.

Joann carries pretty much perfect bead organizers for $1.39 and I've got 9 of those in use at the moment. As great as they are though for storing beads, they're way too small for pliers and spools of wire. I've been keeping all of those peripherals in a little wicker basket which is just about the dumbest idea I've ever had. Spools of wire. In wicker. Just stunning brilliance, really (rolls eyes at self). Getting anything done with that kind of setup required an extra twenty or thirty minutes to sort through my cables and disentangle them from not only the wicker basket but each other. And just in case you've never accidentally dropped a length of fine chain into a basket full of wire and pliers, for the record, don't.

I've been vaguely on the lookout for a better storage option for a while now, and at Ikea this weekend I stumbled upon just the right thing. The Glis plastic storage box is compartmentalized with moveable dividers so you can customize it to fit your stash. Its got a space big enough for jewelry pliers and its deep enough to accommodate standard size rolls of jewelry wire. It also comes in that ever so chic, slightly frosted clear plastic shade that matches my Joann bead containers just perfectly. I put all of my goodies in my new box last night and spent a few hours happily beading without having to untangle much of anything. MUCH better!

Listening:  Elvis Costello- "The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes"

Friday, April 11, 2008

Wrist Pondering

There's something about big, bold wrist cuffs that is vaguely medieval and gothic yet at the same time modern and rocker-ish. Just to make things especially confusing, I think some cuffs also have a bit of a Victorian / Edwardian vibe going on. Any time you can cross reference your historical nods to that extent is bound to be a good time.

I have two cuffs from Hollyhawk's Etsy shop, one called Birdwatching in chartreuse (that color is much mellower and earthy looking in person) and one in a red damask pattern that she made special just for me (so there!) (although I'm sure she'd make one for you too, if you asked). I wear them pretty much daily - no, really, I've got the red one on now.

Some others that I've lusted after are Bayou Salvage's drop dead gorgeous Mojo Cuffs made with vintage skeleton keys; because who doesn't love a good skeleton key? And Boudoir Queen's "good enough for bridal AND good enough for rock stars" Guinevere cuff.

I'm thinking about experimenting with some cuff making operations of my own for my Etsy shop . . . necessity being the mother of invention, cuffs are something I adore but haven't yet experimented with making for myself. I think making them with coins or big gemstones (as is my M.O.) would be a neat twist I think . . . the one thing that's holding me back though is the fact that I'm not really into the idea of using leather. I had this whole cuff making thought about a year ago and I bought a scrap swatch of the softest, most gorgeous grey leather to play around with. I've never even cut into the stuff . . . I just don't feel right about it, being a vegetarian (although the leather I bought WAS scrap, so I technically was salvaging instead of creating new demand for cow hide.) I've gone a bit further in my experiments using vinyl, but in general vinyl is really stiff and unbreathable, so it makes for a sweaty and uncomfortable cuff. Also, my sewing machine hates vinyl with an all consuming passion. Maybe a nice thick velvet mixed with coins and gems would do the trick . . . and would be unique enough I think to find a market on Etsy. I'll have to give it a shot . . . I'll post again with the results of my experiments!

Listening:  Evan Voytas- "Never My Love" - FREE DOWNLOAD, GO NOW! I MEAN IT!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Little Etsy Facelifting

I've done some housecleaning and renovating in my Etsy shop over the last few days. Those flower brooches I made for the Sampler (see below!) came out so freakin' cute that I wanted to try out making them for my shop as well. The first one I listed just a day or so ago sold (yea for sales!) so I made one more, pictured above. I've started a new section called the "Brooch Garden" to keep them in. Its nice to have a quick and fun crochet item for my shop . . . neckwarmers don't exactly sell in April! I'm also totally excited to have found a cute use for some of my vintage buttons. Many of those I only have in singles, so the 'center of flower' application is PERFECT to use them up.

I've also morphed the "Victoria Collection" into the "Somewhere In Time" collection. While I still have and use and love them, I've moved on a bit from Victoria pennies. I've got some great 1920s French coins and a few interesting uses for slightly newer English pennies, so I decided to compile pretty much everything 1920s and earlier into one section (save the items that belong in "The Archaeologists Collection"!).

Moving things around in my shop tends to spark a few sales so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that that happens this time as well! I've got a wedding in Wales to pay for :D

On the "being nice to myself to prevent any further stabbing pain in face episodes" front, I'm happy to report that I took myself to CVS last night and bought a nice big bottle of Boots Mediterranean Bergamot, Orange and Olive Bath Foam and tonight I'm letting the boy handle cooking dinner (admittedly he's going to make pre-prepared frozen veggie potstickers and birds nests from Trader Joes, but still. And he's oddly better at panfrying potstickers than I am. So I know they'll be awesome!)

Listening:  Old 97s- "Curtain Calls"

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Clinique Bonus!

Clinique has a totally awesome bonus going on at Macys right now. You get BOTH lipsticks and while I'll admit that the pink one is a little too Angelyne for my taste, the other shade, called "Beauty" is the most perfect neutral I've ever worn . . . pale without making me look washed out and pink without being, well, too Angelyne for my taste. The skincare products are actually much bigger than your standard gift with purchase size, enough to get you through an actual vacation even! The palate is adorable and contains eyeshadow shades I might have bought anyways and the mascara is seriously great. I've got to say I usually steer VERY clear of "thickening" mascaras because they tend to flake off during the day, but this stuff must be part super glue because it literally refuses to budge. I'm actually considering it as a contender for "the mascara that I will wear for the wedding".

In order to get the bonus you've got to spend at least $21.50, and in an especially clever manuever on my part, I bought a palate of 3 eyeshadows that cost EXACTLY $21.50. Clinque eyeshadows are the best . . .totally gentle, non irritating, and made with that same superglue property that the mascara has. By the end of the day most eyeshadows are completely missing from wherever I've applied them (do my eyelids eat them? do the particles actually ENTER my eyeballs? I understand that missing lipstick has most likely been eaten and thats gross, but not as gross as the options for where missing eyeshadow could've gone.) Clinique shadows though are practically bulletproof. I picked up a set called "Totally Neutral" which I adore, but if you're feeling more adventurous I'd highly recommend the "Beach Plum" duo . . . that purple may look daunting in the container but its actually perfect on . . . girly but with enough beige shimmer to keep you from looking like Barbie.

The bonus almost made up for my having missed out on the Sephora Clinique Black Honey set that sold out in, like, 12 seconds last week. (Oh, how I wanted that set . . .sigh . . .)

Listening:  Ride- "Vapour Trail"

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Springtime Sampler Joy

Oh how I love The Sampler. Basically The Sampler collects and redistributes samples from all sorts of indie businesses. They distribute to consumers who have actually purchased 'issues' of The Sampler, as well as to all of their contributors and to media contacts. When I first started crafting as a business, the idea of making at least 25 handmade samples to give away for FREE seemed insane, let alone totally daunting. But after hearing The Sampler's praises sung loudly and persistently on Craftster, I finally decided to jump on the bandwagon and give it a try. I DO think that The Sampler has helped draw attention to my shop, both by drawing in buyers who got my items in their Sampler and by the exposure of being listed (with photographs!) on the Sampler website.

This month, having not contributed last month, I was hell bent on coming up with a unique new type of sample to send out. Also, having blown pretty much all of my crafting budget for the month at Fire Mountain Gems, I was really hoping to come up with a sample that I could make (at least 25 of!) without having to purchase ANY new materials. I have a TOONNNN of 100% cotton yarn lying around that I'd purchased long ago to make crocheted clutches which I sort of don't do anymore. I also have a veritable s**tload of buttons lying around an an oddly high number of sew on pin backs. So I came up with the idea of making crocheted corsages with button centers and OH MY GOODNESS did they EVER come out cute!!! So cute in fact that I'm trying out a slightly upgraded version with vintage rhinestone button centers for my shop. I love how bright and Spring-y they are . . .and to me at least they've got a slightly retro vibe that's just so sweet.

The method (seriously, its not even a pattern, I can't call it one) is to chain 4, slip stitch to make a circle, 2 sc then 13 dc in the ring to make a "coin" shape. then the petals are *2 sc, 2 dc in same stitch, slip stitch in next stitch, repeat from * all the way around (7 Petals). The centers are the same except w/o the dc all the way around and making only 5 petals in the circle instead of 7. I sew them together with regular thread using buttons as centers, then sew on the pin backs.

I made 25 . . . .I typically submit 50 samples but this to be honest was a bit more labor intensive than my usual contributions, so I decided to cut myself some slack. I've been working my tush off lately with the wedding planning and my Etsy shop (which sort of go hand in hand since I'm trying to pay for the wedding with Etsy earnings) and with the tension headaches and all, I feel a little slack cutting here and there is probably in order. Tonight, the boy and I have the new Tudors episode on tape, a nice dinner planned and tonnnns of wine leftover from the engagement party that we could get into. I also hit 250 sales in my shop this morning (HOORAY!!!) so tonight, aside from just being a fun night at home, will also feel like a bit of a celebration.

Listening:  Mew- "The Zookeeper's Boy"

Monday, April 7, 2008

Tomato Soup with Rice

I realized the other day that summer weather is FAST approaching. This is a bad thing in Los Angeles, as "summer" means temperatures in the 110-120 degree range and not the lovely 'slightly warmer than room temperature' thing that some other cities have going on. I guess its our penalty for not having to deal with snow on the ground for 6 months out of the year . . . but all the same I DREAD the coming of summer every year. Things I can count on come late May are a) all home stores being completely sold out of any sort of fan or air moving devices, b) perpetual sunburned shoulders despite the fact that in the summertime I wear SPF 30, face and body, as a DAILY product and c) near scurvy due to the impossibility of turning on any appliance that has the potential to cook food.

So as a last hurrah last night I decided to make a nice big batch of tomato soup with rice.

- 2 big (28oz) cans of diced tomatoes (either diced and then chopped up further with a pair of kitchen scissors, or 1 diced/1 crushed, or maybe 'petite diced' . . . smaller than garden variety diced tomatoes though would be preferable!)
- 1 regular sized can of tomato sauce
- 1/2 a can of tomato paste
- 1/4 cup of flour
- about 1 cup of finely diced onions (3 itty bitty yellow ones)
- 1/2 a stick of butter (use less if you like, or use olive oil, but you're making a big batch of soup here and the butter really does make a huge impact)
- 3 big cans of water
- a corresponding amount of veggie stock powder / liquid / cubes
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tblsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tblsp parsley flakes
- about 1 1/4 cups of dry brown rice (I use brown basmati)

* Get your onions and butter going in a deep stock pot
* When butter is melted, add tomato paste
* Add flour and cook for a few minutes (or, you know, waste time taking photos of your kitchen while tomato paste starts to burn, shriek and toss in diced tomatoes to stop burning then add a handful of flour after the fact. Either way, really)
* Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, water, stock, salt, pepper and parsley, bring to a boil
* Once soup is boiling, add rice and reduce to a simmer
* Simmer about 45 minutes uncovered, or until rice is cooked through

Serve topped with cheese of any sort. Makes 5 HUGE portions.

Listening:  Electric Soft Parade- "If Thats The Case Then I Don't Know"

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Oh Happy Day!!!

Reasons why I am happy today:

1) Tara took a picture at our engagement party!! Its the only one I have AND I love it . . . Hooray!!!

2) Trader Joes now sells LEEKS!!! I actually said "oh happy day" outloud in the store when I saw them, thereby getting a few odd looks from local hipsters doing their shopping, but whatever . . . it IS happy, they can think I'm weird if they want to.

3) I bought a vintage tiara! I don't know if I'll end up wearing it or if I'll just use the wedding as an excuse to start a tiara collection, but both of those options are good things.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Taking it Off

I love makeup almost as much as I love beading and cooking. Not quite as much as my fiance, but still, that's a lot!! I've been wearing more or less full makeup every day since I was 13 but I'm pretty slick at applying it, so most people (men especially) think I'm not wearing any at all. The trick of getting it all off at the end of the day though, I've had a bit of fuss with.

I've tried just about every makeup remover out there, fancy department store ones, specialty boutique brands, drugstore brands . . . and nothing, I mean NOTHING, works anywhere near as well as Johnsons Baby Lotion. The whole baby oil for eye makeup removal thing is pretty well documented, I think makeup removal is actually listed as a use on the packaging. As for baby lotion though, I'm pretty much sure I'm the only freak using that stuff to remove mascara. But it does the job . . . for serious. Baby lotion can rip right through waterproof mascara, and its the only product I've ever used that doesn't leave me with raccoon circle smudges of leftover makeup ringing my eyes in the morning. It might not be kosher, but at $3.50 for a bottle that can take off mascara for almost 2 years running I think I'm gonna go ahead and run with this one.

Listening:  Old 97s- "Blame It On Gravity"

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Joy of Fire Mountain Gems

I got my latest Fire Mountain order yesterday and I'm actually honestly seriously tempted to feign a (medically documented!!!) tension headache and go home early to hang out with my beads. Fire Mountain is pretty much my favorite website ever for jewelry making . . . no, scratch that, just my favorite website EVER! Their shipping is fast and reliable . . . and I'm a tracking-number-check-aholic so if I think its fast its actually approaching speed of light status. Their selection of gemstones is really out of this world, they regularly surprise me with rocks I didn't know existed! And their prices . . . sooooooo rational. Beading can be really expensive . . . especially when you've got a taste for massive gemstone nuggets the way I do. But Fire Mountain prices things well within the realm of reason. And best of all, they discount their prices the more you buy. Hooray for a built in reason to buy more beads!

Some of my favorite finds there have been their petrified wood slabs, any of their tektite beads, these GORGEOUS and totally well priced labradorite ovals, and their bargain selection of agate nuggets. They've got an insanely huge collection of seed beads, clasps and findings as well. And the tools!!! Tools I didn't even realize existed, like my now essential split ring pliers.

Once you've placed an order with Fire Mountain you'll start receiving their catalogs as well. They're full of actual size color photos of their beads, an awesome resource. And also of photos of Fire Mountain employees modeling beaded jewelry. The company really seems like one big happy family and while I've worked at enough places to know that probably isn't entirely true, I do think Fire Mountain comes a lot closer to having truly happy employees than most places do. They're also involved in many different charity and community service projects, the neatest of which I think is Bravery Beads, a program which gives children who are battling cancer beads to mark their experiences.

Fire Mountain is a company I feel really good about patronizing, and running my own jewelry line is one heck of a lot easier and more fun now that I've got them in my corner. (And no, they're not paying me to say all of this . . . this post is 100% free love!)

Listening:  Depeche Mode- "Enjoy The Silence"

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Magic of Blogging

Guess who's a fully insured bride!!!!!

My mom suggested I try Debenhams. I sort of balked. Fair enough I think, having just woken at 7am to call Marks & Spencer only to be told that despite what their website says, no, they CAN'T in fact insure non UK nationals. But Debenhams let me proceed with my online quote and actually BUY a policy. Just now! I have insurance papers!!!

Ohmigod, we're ACTUALLY going to get married in a medieval Welsh castle! For serious!!!

Record Fun!

Thank you sincerely to everyone who offered condolences and support over the whole wedding insurance / face hurting episode. The insurance still isn't taken care of yet, but I'm down to my last few ideas and I'm not going to lose hope until I've exhausted every possible means of getting the paperwork I need. Then after that, I'm not too proud to beg my way out of needing the coverage if I have to.

In the meantime, I'm trying to be extra nice to myself to avert any further holding face and screaming episodes. I'm taking myself to Sephora at lunch (just to buy things I've run out of, but buying makeup is always helpful!) and tonight I'm going to stay home with my almost husband and make our favorite veggie lasagne. We've even got the new Tudors episode to watch on tape. And after that TLC seems to be playing Jon and Kate Plus 8 pretty much all night which I take as a sign that the Universe in general is trying to be extra nice to me right now too.

Over the weekend, pre headache issues, the boy and I went to a friend's birthday party. I'd pulled a few things from my Etsy shop to give to her, but at the last minute the boy thought we should make a record bowl too. The boy has an indie label so he's got tons of warped vinyl sitting around (vinyl is a very finicky medium). Bowls are super fun and easy to make, and they've got the added benefit of looking wayyyyy cooler and more complicated than they actually are. To make one, find yourself a scratched / warped / or otherwise unplayable record (please don't waste good vinyl! I couldn't live with myself if I thought I'd encouraged anyone to destroy playable records) and crank the oven to 200 degrees. Set a small bowl upside down on a cookie sheet (the bowl doesn't technically have to be oven safe . . . you're only going up to 200 degrees here, your dishwasher probably gets that hot) and place the record on top of the upturned bowl with the center label touching the bowl's bottom rim and the black vinyl hanging freely over the sides. Put the setup in the oven for about 5 minutes, you'll see the record start to droop. Remove the record after 5 minutes and quickly place it in a big mixing bowl to shape it. If you don't like the resulting shape, stick your record back in the oven! You've got about 20 or 30 seconds to work with your record before it starts re-hardening.

That's it. Super easy. And the records that we used this time had some AWESOME packaging that I managed to convert into a gift bag! I used the inner sleeve as the bag portion and cut the outer cardboard sleeve to make handles and a gift card. So fun . . . it was a great gift!

Listening:  Sunny Day Real Estate- "The Ocean"

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Oh . . . Wales . . .

. . . so when someone tells you you can have your wedding at a Welsh castle for the equivalent of $200 and you think "gosh, that sounds to good to be true!" perhaps you should trust that gut instinct instead of going ahead and planning said wedding. It turns out in addition to the $200 venue fee I need a mysterious little thing called "public liability insurance". Something very standard and cheap in the UK but apparently not on offer for less than a zillion dollars to anyone not residing in the UK. I'm struggling my way through this, trying to get the coverage I need without spending (literally) double the cost of my actual wedding and I've got a few leads left, but its been exhausting. Physically and mentally.

To illustrate: today I went to the doctor because over the weekend I developed sudden, crippling spasms in the sinus cavity above my left eye. The first one happend as I was sitting talking to the boy (about wedding insurance, as fate would have it). I literally fell out of the chair I was sitting in, clutching my head and screaming. The pain subsided, but a similar incident happend the next day. And the next. So of course having the myriad of issues with my sinuses that I do I figured I had some kind of bizarre sinus problem. . . infection, tumor, whatever. So I went to get it checked out. The doctor found nothing amiss with my sinuses though and aksed me instead if anything in my life was particuliarly stressful at the moment. I said I was planning my wedding. He burst out laughing.

I have tension headaches. The stabbing pain out of nowhere thing wasn't my sinuses, it was the stress tendons in my face. Wedding insurance is making my face hurt.