Like a lot of people who sew, I have a lovely collection of garments that just don’t work. Sometimes, as in the case of one full-length, forest green peasant dress that I unearthed a few weeks ago, they are the result of a baby seamstress first figuring out technique and design, and not thinking about – let’s say, long-term wearability.
This dress was made for a 4-H sewing competition as part of a cosplay Time Lord outfit. Before cosplay was cool.
It struck me that peasant-style tunic-dresses are in, so I made a plan to repurpose the long, mostly useless dress into something fun and functional for (mostly) everyday wearing.
Perhaps I will edit this post to include a photo of me modelling this – with the waist cincher!
I love repurposing one garment into something totally different! A red plaid Highlander skirt has become one of my favorite dresses; and my pretty, princess-y Easter dress this year used to be a hideous ’90’s affair of pleats and sailor collars. But I forgot to document the process!
I hope you are inspired to try some repurposing this week 😀
Here are a few Christmas movies that really make the holiday for me:
“Arthur Christmas.” This is a new favorite; a kids’ movie though I have only watched it from an adult perspective, appreciating the quick humor, imperfect family, and sci-fi explanations of that whole Santa-delivering-presents-to-everyone thing. As a Santa-story, I wonder why I like this one so much; the reason is the magic it somehow embraces, and the twist examining what makes someone important.
“A Muppets Christmas Carol.” All cheery goofiness – and then Jacob and Robert Marley pause their creepy ghostly song to shudder at the horrors they’ve done. This isn’t just a kids film! Curiously human, someone has said that this adaptation is the one Dickens himself might’ve liked best.
“A Christmas Carol” with George C. Scott. This beautiful adaptation has it all – a haunting snowy Victorian location, wonderful actors, lovely music, faithfulness to its source material. Its Ghost of Christmas Present is no kindly Father Christmas, and the threat of Scrooge’s lonely death and the slow wasting away of Tiny Tim seem real.
“It’s a Wonderful Life.” No list of Christmas films would complete without it! But – what a movie. It’s a story of an ordinary life, which might have been extraordinary and therefore seems a failure. Yet George Bailey has lived his life well – and his darkest moment is nothing to the darkness his absence would leave.
“The Chimes of Midnight.” Ok – this technically not a movie, but a “Doctor Who” audio adventure. But Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without it! There’s even plum pudding. It starts as a ghost story mystery with a lot of a dark humor. But as it goes on, it grows darker until an ending that is devastating. And splendid. If you get time travel stories, then definitely check this out!
Thinking about each of these stories, one theme emerges from them all: The importance of the small things – those which are despised by the world – and especially the little people who don’t seem to matter: Arthur the failure who goes on a quest to ensure that one child gets her present, Scrooge who pursued worldly success and lost everything else, the important little friends of Bedford Falls, and Edith Thompson the scullery maid whom no one could ever love. After all, that is what Christmas is all about: How, perhaps, in the eyes of Heaven the Tiny Tims may be worth more than the great things of the world.
Phew! Craft Fairs are over; deep breath, refocus, and…
Well, life is still really crazy and more than a little stressful. Not only is the holiday shopping season upon us, which means that we must devote more time and energy than usual to our Etsy shops, but also several things around us are breaking down or otherwise unreliable. It’s crazy, and emotionally draining, and sometimes too much.
And in the middle of it all, Thanksgiving is a week away – reminding us to take a little time to be thankful. So… Another deep breath, and I notice all those things that are truly wonderful around me!
Like, the refrigerator working and full of amazing treats awaiting the feast before us.
And furry animals in general (Annie our dog especially, although I am quite fond of cats too!).
Etsy is a huge part of our lives right now; and naturally we’re grateful for the opportunities it provides. In fact, please head over and check out our shops! We have some really cool Autumn and Winter, Thanksgiving and Christmas and Hanukkah things coming out (plus sales and coupon codes, in case you need something!).
But I’m also thankful for a few treasures that I found on Etsy. Yes, for the first time I went there and actually did some shopping! Hannah gave me a gift card for my birthday, and with it I purchased three little perfumes and some makeup.
Since it’s Friday, when we Feature Favorites, and we’ve always meant to do reviews, here you go!:
I’m not quite sure if AddictiveCosmetics is actually addictive yet – though I admit it is highly tempting to go back and try out more! I ordered a foundation sample (Ivory 2) for my picky skin: It has nice texture (satiny might be the best word), pretty good coverage, and a pleasant smell.
My second purchase was the one I really wanted: Warm ‘N Toasty liquid eyeliner. I’m experimenting with eyeliners right now, and found this one to be a beautiful coppery color which complements my coloring.
Then, as an extra blessing, they threw in a powder eyeshadow! I don’t have a good photo of it (since it tends to cloud every time I open the tight little container), but it is a gorgeous dark copper – the perfect shade to match the eyeliner.
This shop might be my new obsession! It kind of appeals to the (ahem!) goth side of my personality. And to my love of interesting, unusual scents. Because…
They have pumpkin perfume!!!
This makes me very happy.
I chose the Gothic Pumpkin sampler set, which includes Pumpkin Pixie (sweet and playful), Pumpkin Fiend (darker and, for me, nostalgic), and Pumpkin Gloom (dark and woodsy). And the seller threw in a sample, Seven Veils (floral and feminine). And another sample! – Blood and Donuts (chocolatey and perfect for my horror novels!), which reminds me of New Mexico’s very own shop, Rebel Donut, which anyone who comes here must try!
I wish I had space to fully review each of these scents! It is so much fun to experiment with each of them, and (even though they are itty-bitty bottles) they will provide me much pleasure for a long time!
It is, you see, not merely Etsy for which I am thankful: It is the little treasures – moments of brightness, pleasure, happiness, community, that it has brought me. These small blessings lighten the dark times, and make life ever so much more fun!
Sometimes, in the midst of all the insanity, you have to find a moment of rest.
That’s what we’re up to this week, and it’s definitely time!
What with one thing and another, things have been really crazy around here – as evidenced by the fact that we keep forgetting to blog! It’s been something like this:
Finally found a way to increase visibility on Etsy – which is wonderful, except that it means spending a lot of time and attention.
The holiday shopping season is fast approaching, and there are so many ideas that we want to make and put out there on our Etsy shops!
The dryer isn’t drying, which makes laundry days slow. And then –
The washer developed homicidal mania (apparently), which makes laundry days impossible!
And the oven door won’t close.
And I stepped on a thorn! (Ok, that one’s a personal complaint!)
November’s coming, which means NaNoWriMo! and also:
So – with all of this craziness happening and requiring urgent attention and lots of work – we’ve decided to take a week off from Etsy!
Counter-intuitive? Yes! But it’s a good time to step back and get a bit of perspective on where we’re going, which projects actually require our attention, and where our emphasis should be.
It should be interesting: No Etsy work, or talk, or shop work, is allowed. Instead, Hannah and Sarah and I will work on sewing some personal Autumn and Winter clothes, and focus on planning the novels we’re writing in November.
Sometimes, you need to step away from it all and take a break!
(Of course, you can also use the coupon code “Halloween” for %15 off anything in my store, where I also have free shipping on Autumnal items. I’m really pleased with how my Autumn Ephemeral Earring line came out! Please feel free to take an inspiring look!)
And here is a slideshow of our recent excursions, for a bit of distance-recreation:
Around this time of year, an explosion of sunflowers hits the arroyos around our neighborhood. They’re everywhere! It’s a lovely small variety of sunflower, which started somewhere (either in somebody’s yard, our from a wild area of the Bosque) and then seeded and spread year by year. They’re also very pickable, and make for the most amazing arrangements.
Inspired by all of this amazingness, I created my very first Etsy Treasury!
It was surprisingly easy to make, since sunflowers look beautiful and make for beautiful jewelry, shawls, vases, and too many other things to mention! I discovered that having a strong theme is an asset for a Treasury: It turned out beautiful and vibrant, please take a look!
Another item from my shop, which didn’t make it on
Hannah makes a wonderful model! (another item)
I couldn’t fit these two items on the Treasury, both from new lines on my shop which I will have to introduce in a later post! But here is a link to their listings: Sachets, and Fingerless Gloves.
Bumblebees, also out in full force in our neighborhood (and landing disconcertingly in one’s hair), made it onto my Treasury too. So here are a couple more pictures to take us out on the sunniest of notes!
Sometimes, quite irrationally, things become irksome. Like blogging, for instance. One loses focus, gets stuck in a rut, forgets a time or two and then feels so guilty about it that one forgets again, other things get busy. And so on. You know how it is!
So, yeah, I think we’ve kind of fallen into one of those times here in “Ribbons”-world. So sad – because we’re actually really excited about what we’re doing and what we want to share!
As we figure it all out and prepare for what I hope will be a grand re-entrance into the blogging realm, here is a gallery of our most recent excursion into our local mountains!
A very pleasant Labor Day hike! It’s always good to step away for a bit, when things get too irksome, and do a little relaxing.
The phrase “Rome wasn’t built in a day” refers to the empire, of course: But what if it referred to the city itself? If, at the height of the Roman Empire, everyone in its domain came along and built with gusto – Rome still wouldn’t be done in a day; cement and mortar and things need time to dry, after all.
I’ve been thinking about this lately; there are a lot of things in life that need more time than a day to finish – distressing as that is to someone as optimistically ambitious as I am. I always thought it would be cool to tackle something and solve, construct, or master it all at once. A few things like this:
Languages. Seriously, you only learn French in a week in ads.
Fitness. Did those Olympic athletes decide to become amazing at what they do, and then do it? No – it took years of training!
Writing. Interestingly, some books work better if you work on them slowly.
Any Skill or Art. I probably should have put this first! But first projects in cooking, sewing, woodworking, mechanics, and so on are always almost terrible. You have to keep at it!
Breaking Bad Habits, and Building Good Personality.
Some clever scientists have even recently decided that procrastination can be a good thing, because it allows you time to work things through rather than forcing a quick decision!
The same principle of steady but prolonged effort applies to Etsy, too:
Much as I would love it if my shop became a roaring overnight success, honestly that would be really overwhelming. It’s been much better for me to slowly build a foundation – learn my way around the site, figure out how the business works, become an expert in listing. So when I start selling at a regular pace, the shipping and billing side won’t come as another straw on the camel’s back.
Making lovely little items to fill my shelves takes longer than I’d like – after all, I’m not a machine, and my hands have other things to do. But that’s ok; producing things steadily has built up a good inventory, and I’ve had time to find designs that will last for many seasons.
Taking time to think about the layout and look for my shop has allowed me to see what other people are doing, and think about what I really want, and come up with some fun ideas.
I admit it; I’m terrible at promotion! But going slow on that has let me get a little more comfortable with pushing my things out there, as I get a feel for the market and the community.
As you may guess, we’ve been focusing a lot on Etsy! And sometimes neglecting other things (oops!). But the nice thing about doing things slowly is that gradually one task becomes easier and you can add in a little more – just like a weightlifter starts at 20 pounds and works his way up!
Every journey, after all, begins with a single bite of elephant!
Next week, I’ll have to post about the opposite problem – which Sarah has reminded me of; sometimes it’s possible to take too little of a bite!
So, as you might have noticed, we’ve been slightly distracted lately – not posting as often or as consistently, getting sidetracked, forgetting all about stuff that we meant to talk about. Sigh! Poor readers… There are all sorts of reasons: Olympics, visiting neighbor-cats, sales on Etsy (yay!), forgetfulness, etc..
One of the biggest distractions is that this month we are trying out gluten-free! Many people talk about how healthy it is to cut wheat out of your diet, so we decided to do a scientific 31 day attempt at it to see how we do. With a couple of minor slips, so far so good! No miraculous cures, but it’s been fun.
We’ll talk about this experiment in more depth later. Meanwhile, here’s a lovely gluten-free recipe that I made up, which is really good! (I think I forgot to take a picture before we ate them all…):
Gluten-Free Applesauce Muffins
Grease two muffin tins and preheat the oven to 425 F. In the same cup, pour and allow to sit:
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¾ cup milk
2 cups oat flour
1 cup rice flour
1 cup other flour (I used quinoa, which has a distinct flavor and therefore might not be to everyone’s taste)
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ cup brown sugar
½ to 1 cup chopped nuts (optional): add at after mixing everything else
Mix in a large bowl
¾ cup apples sauce
1/3 cup vegetable oil
The milk and vinegar mixture
Mix the dry ingredients into the wet, stir thoroughly, and allow to sit for about ½ hour (which helps the flours to absorb the moisture). Divide the dough into the muffin tins, filling each cup about ¾ way full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, switching the tins’ places about halfway, until golden brown and the tops spring back when dented lightly with a finger.
Makes about 24.
Dairy-free: Substitute extra apple sauce or apple juice for the milk. Doesn’t have to sit, of course
Nut-free: Leave out the nuts! (ok, that was a little snarky…)
Substitute wheat flour (half-white, half-whole grain) for a non-gluten-free version
Substitute honey or maple syrup for the sugar (though the muffins might burn easily!)
Add raisins or chopped apples
Enjoy by themselves, or with a bit of butter or jam or cream cheese. Or with a steamy mug of hot cocoa for an autumnal treat (I keep telling myself it’ll be here soon)!
I was going to name this post “All Work and No Play,” but on consideration decided that that might conjure images of a really crazy Jack Nicholson, which would be regrettable.
And anyway, I think I’d rather examine the idea of play all by itself.
It’s my Ladybug Week again! As Sarah was saying recently – a planned time to step away from all Etsy stuff before it totally overwhelms me, to step back and get some other stuff done, to relax and not worry about things like business: Sort of an every-seven-weeks vacation.
Now, I’ve always had trouble with the idea of play and recreation – an occupational hazard for someone whose work is what they love: I like crafting – but should I stop making stuff this week? I love writing – but having just finished July’s CampNaNoWriMo with a lot of hardcore writing time, should I take the week off? What do I do instead?
I came up with a very depressing list of things To Do every day this week:
Yard work for 2 hours – weeding, digging, bug control, etc. – even if its 90 degrees outside.
Attack the mending pile.
Clean and declutter an increasingly chaotic house, for 2 hours.
Study really hard for 2 hours, to get back into regular schooling.
This excellent program is probably something I actually should do some week, to kick-start several projects that need doing. But, while it would be different work from Etsy-listing and novel-editing, it would be anything but relaxing and restful.
What makes this Ladybug Week harder is that, 1) I feel like I didn’t get that much Etsy-work done in the last few weeks, and 2) CampNaNo gave a lot of momentum to my writing that I don’t want to lose. However, 1) I did manage to establish a routine of listing a new item on my shop every day almost – and that’s quite the accomplishment, if you think about it! And, 2) I generally find writing very recreational.
I was telling my helpful sisters about all of this, and that helped me realize that I should make this time off into a restful thing and not fill it up with extra stressers and hard labor. I do need this, to put myself back together or keep from falling apart, to get some perspective, to refocus on where I’m going rather than floundering about, and to enjoy some random things!
So, here’s an actual list of the fun things I want to do this week:
Put some music on my phone (which is smart! yay!)
Create some art, which I began last year. It’s time to bring it together!
Sew a purse for myself out of some very fun Parisian fabric (again, I’ve had this project hanging around for a while, and it’s a little daunting – so it’s the perfect time to take it on!)
Figure out and blog my goals for the month
And blog about what our theme this month will be (spoiler: it’s gonna be fun!)