Friday, December 31

Thanks twenty-ten.

2010 was awesome!

Life will always have ups and downs, but this last year was incredibly wonderful to me.

January: Started working with coffee again, and got connected to Carbondale. I turned 27 - woohoo!

February: I started sewing more seriously. There were some projects that made me money. (!)

March to April: Took over managing for Alec at Common Grounds. Coffee FTW!

May: Opened my Etsy account and was happy to have orders in the first two weeks. I also got to travel to Spokane to see my parents and sister, which was especially important since she moved to Turkey that August. Oh, and I flew home with her cat Comma. Three cats in the house!

June: Three cats in the house...whoa. Also, the heat in Carbondale does not agree with me. I make plans to do some more travel but first...

July: I go to Guatemala! Dan, his parents, and I go to Antigua and have a wonderful 11 day vacation. I get to see coffee first hand, on the plant, still green, and tour a finca to see it's processing works. Dan almost kills himself because I want to hike the farm (read: steep cliff side with vines to climb up). We watch the world cup, we eat wonderful food. We still like each other by the end of it.

August: My Etsy account explodes as I get featured in their email newsletter, and I try to make the best of it and still have time to go...To Juneau! I work the last two weeks of August in Juneau as the Operations Supervisor for HAP. My sister moves to Turkey (mixed emotions on this one.)

September: More Juneau! Work is awesome. I love the city. I hike, climb, and eat (and drink!) in parts of the city I've never seen. I fall in love with it so much I start to think about living there permanently.

October: Back to coffee and back to Carbondale. Back to sewing and life with Dan and three cats. I interview for a job in Juneau.

November: Dan finds out he got the internship in Springfield, so I start pack up the house to move to Bloomington. I take the cats and my things there in the last week, and start working at Barnes and Noble again.

December: Moving the rest of Carbondale to Bloomington. The holidays were amazing in Chicago, and I'm now the happy blogger of a new computer that doesn't require me to hold the power cord in the back jack. And it has a camera so I can Skype with my family. I found out my brother and his family are moving to Boston in July, my other brother is getting married and moving to Florida, and my Dad will be rolling through the country to help him move there.

Already 2011 has a lot to live up to, but I am so happy to be where I am, be with whom I'm with, and do the next part of this together.

Happy new year everyone and thanks to you friends for all of the support and encouragement in this last year. I really couldn't have made these huge steps without you!

Wednesday, December 29

Coloring books

I've mentioned my book cases before, but this is the first photo that shows what I've done. Color organized bookshelves! I've see this done on several websites and the idea has stuck hard with me. I understand that to some this looks neurotic, but it makes me so happy to have them grouped in such a way. I've tried alphabetizing them, using genre, author, story theme, and title as an organizing style. I've never really been satisfied with it. But this - this I love!

Selling my sofa

Hello world. With Dan moving in and doubling our furniture stash, I am selling my cute little sofa/bed. You can see it's listing on Craigslist here.

What I've been sewing

Now that all of these wonderful gifts have been given to their people, I am happy to share them with you! This top bag was made for Caroline, a spunky freshman girl. When we talked at the dessert party on Christmas, she explained how great it will work for school, as it's a fairly large bag and she doesn't have time to go to her locker in between classes. Sorry there is no inside picture, but it is lime green with navy tree buds.

This purple bag is a bit hard to see. The bottom is a pretty purple with a green leaf pattern, both of which seem to disappear in the photo.
These two little clutch bags were so fun to make. I played with a smaller frame for the bag - these are 7 inches wide and only two inches deep. I've been making fabric flowers for some time now, but this is the first time I've put them on a bag or used buttons for the center. I think they turned out really great :)

This last picture is the latest pouf I've sent out. You'll recognize the polka dot from above :) I'm happy with how efficient I've gotten at these pillows. I have changed the design from the original - I use only 11 panels now instead of 12.

There you go. Consider this a pre-view of what's to come in my Etsy shop. I'm getting set to order more bag frames, and I'm always on the lookout for fun buttons. If you know of any fun sites, feel free to send me their info!

Sunday, December 26

Christmas recap for the family

Merry day after Christmas! It has been a great holiday here in Chicago. Yesterday was a whirlwind of good cheer and tasty food. It seemed like it was almost non-stop festivities, well into the 26th.

The day started at 9:30am, with directions from Dad Swift to be ready for stockings and in our seats. It was a nice crowd. Myself and Dan, Azusa and Adam, Lolade, Nora, and Dan's parents were all circled around. After stockings and one present, we broke for breakfast. Every year on Christmas Eve, Linda and whoever is available will make pecan sticky buns to be enjoyed on Christmas morning. They are warm and gooey, with huge pecans on top. Coffee, sausage and scrambled eggs kept us energized as we laughed and plowed through the bounty that was under the Christmas tree.

We went all the way up to 2pm with activity, then broke again for naps, or play with new gadgets, or in Gus's case, got dinner going. Even though it seemed like we had just had a mound of delicious things for brunch, we sat down again at 4:30 to roast, green beans and my favorite, mashed potatoes!

Linda's family gets together every Christmas night at one of her cousin's homes, so about 6:30 we all met and enjoyed dessert of cookies and coffee. The Erf's are a warm and happy bunch with kids ranging age 4 to 20 (ish). There is lots of catching up to do. This year was particularly fun for me as one of Linda's cousins, Erica, had ordered one of my pouf pillows for a friend a few months ago, and I got to hear first hand how she liked it. It was Erica's first experience with Etsy, so I felt a little additional pressure to make sure he liked both her pillow, and the process for buying it. All went well! Linda also asked me to make some hand bags for the younger girls, and all of them were extremely happy with what they received. It was nice to share something of myself with this part of the family I only see once a year.

After getting home from the family events, Dan and I went off to a bar called Club Foot to meet his friend Josh for the holiday. We all then went over to James's house and I got to hear some wonderful stories of yesteryear. They were all animated in retelling their version of each tale, and somewhere in the middle the truth came out.

And as if that weren't enough fun for the weekend, today, some friends of Linda and Gus came for brunch and we got to have Sticky Buns 2.0! The conversations were animated and refreshing, and just now, a moment ago, the Bears won their game against the Jets. All around, it's been a great Christmas in Chicago!

I'll drive back to Bloomington tomorrow for work and hopefully get the rest of the boxes unpacked and the house set up. Just before leaving I got a package from my dad full of my sister's tasty jam and a new cookbook for the holidays. I am looking forward to going through it again, now that the holiday rush has calmed down. I can start the plan for next Christmas!

Thursday, December 23

I promise, promise we will have Internet soon! More regular posts after the New Year.

The newest addition to life in Bloomington is a pretty big one. Dan and I moved all of his stuff in this last weekend in a marathon of boxes and driving. I took the train from Champaign to Carbondale, we packed it all the next morning and drove it to Bloomington Saturday night, unpacked it all Sunday morning, drove to Champaign to get my car, then drove both the truck and car to Chicago so we didn't miss the wonderful Swift Cookie Party.

Whew! We are still tired!

We have been wading through boxes and moving furniture around to make our lives fit in the apartment. The cats have been loving it - all of the nooks and crannies. And holy cow, we have a lot of cooking utensils!

Happy Christmas all! Enjoy the festivities and those specials people you get to spend it with. And to all of my family I won't get to see, I love you all and wish we were closer!

Saturday, December 11

Sew good.

I am so proud of myself! I've gotten so many sewing projects done in the last few days. My one huge failure is that I haven't taken any pictures of them as I was rushing to get them mailed off, but they are done!

The biggest, has been one that I promised to do for a regular customer from my days at Common Grounds. She has an old mission style rocking chair and wanted her cushions recovered. She brought in the old covers, and after a few hours of stitch ripping and measuring, and remeasuring, I was able to put together two beautiful new covers for her. I salvaged the old zippers and old trimming cores. It was the first time I'd made something with pipe trim, let alone sewn something for someone without being able to measure the chair or the cushion innards.

Dan was up last weekend when I was completing one of the sides, and I knew I did well when he said, "This is something my parents would have in their house." I was worried they looked amateur and unprofessional, but it all came together beautifully.

I'm making gadget covers, pillows,hand bags, and more pouf pillows. It has been great to see these things start, finish, and get in the mail.

ISU print sale

Yesterday I got to go to the ISU print sale. If you are a student in the print making classes, this is an opportunity to make a little money and get your art out into the world. I went to the sale two years ago and love the items I purchased there (still) and I was happy to go this year when my friend Alex told me it was going on this week.

We met at 8am on Friday and saw some really great things. I set a pretty shallow spending limit, as the times are what they are for me, but I was happy when I came across the picture above. It is odd, maybe even morbid, but I love it. It is a mermaid skeleton with the subtle outline of the actual mermaid around it. It is printed on think cotton paper, and it is #5 of only 6 printed. The artist's lines are very fine and the work around the bone joints is amazing. Best part, it was $10.

I have plans to have it framed much differently in the future, but for now I'm happy just to see it on the wall in my bathroom.

Here is another I picked up for a steal. It reminded me very much of some black and white figures my mom had painted sometime ago. With the contrast being so intense, It is a nice balance with some of the other things in my house.

For a dose of cute, here is Comma in her cozy new hideout. I have shelves above the washer and dryer, and I put her sheep skin insert from the carrying case up there to let her have some alone time. The boys leave her be, and usually the front is closed off with the curtain, so she has made this little corner her snooze room.

And here are the three amigos checking out the new digs. Three curled tails and noses out the window. This was probably the last day of the year with the window open. We had to make the most of it.

Friday, December 3

Home Office!

What a wonderful Friday! I'm excited to celebrate Dan's birthday this weekend - the big 3-0! He, however, is not excited to celebrate, so I'm trying to get all of my glee out before he arrives. He doesn't want to talk about it, he doesn't want to do anything special. I'm trying to be understanding, but I can't not acknowledge it. So there will be dinner (at home) and a little present (nothing extravagant) and possibly a movie (something we do together on many occasions, not just special ones.) He might bring up the Wii, so maybe we will have fun playing Mario Bros. or some other silly game. And by silly game, I mean totally awesome.

I get to meet with my wonderful friend Trish today to look over my fabric. She is hoping to have some things made up, and I know it will be fun to put together. Her wedding is next September, and one of her endearing qualities is her ability to plan ahead and get details out to those of us (me) that need a lot of time to do projects.

I was looking though one of the books my friend Audrey gave me- I forget the name but is by Sark - and in it the author explained how she overcomes her affinity to procrastinate. She uses "micro movements." I have found the same process works well for me, but I hadn't put a name to it. So in many micro movements, or small goals that take about 5 minutes to complete, I get all of my projects done. Even if the micro goals all happen in a connected span of time, usually in my brain, I have deconstructed them and felt the excitement of having completed my (many) goals.

It is already December 3rd!

Thursday, December 2

Happy Hanukkah!


I have been negligent in my postings for lack of Internet and well, because there has been a lot going on.

My holiday was lovely and full of wonderful people, as Dan and I were in Chicago with his family and friends. I met Alice for the first time, after hearing plenty of stories of her from Linda, who has been her friend for sometime. Linda also took me to Andersonville, a portion of Chicago I'd never been to before. The shops were fun and the cafe where we had lunch is just the type of place I'm excited to take my mom or my sister if/WHEN they visit me.

Ben Saller turned 27 on the weekend, and he is such a warm hearted person that it was no surprise there were loads of people in his house for his celebration. Near the end, there was a spontaneous walk to to a taco joint a few blocks away. Warm Mexican food at 2am with friends is such a wonderful thing. While we were waiting for our food to be done, we were serenaded by about 20 people singing karaoke in Spanish.

Dan is back in Carbondale going through his finals. I have most of my things moved up, but there will still be a truck load with Dan's things. There is already stuff all over for lack of storage. It will be interesting to get his things in as well.

I'm on the job hunt still here in Bloomington. In the mean time, I'm working part time at Barnes and Noble and sewing all sorts of projects that need to be done for people before Christmas. I'm busy. Word has come back that the Alaska job is a no go. They found someone who will be a better fit for them, possibly one who didn't say openly in the interview that she wants to open a coffee shop with in the next five years. I don't regret being honest. And really, I am happy to not have to make the choice to leave or stay. There is always the fun of working in the summer there. And really, that isn't a bad option.

I hope to have pictures soon, I haven't been carrying my camera in Blono and I don't usually remember to bring it when I come to a cafe for internet. Sorry! I'll try harder! You can see the chaos of my place with the cats and fabric all over.

And tonight marks the beginning of Hanukkah. I hope you are all with loved ones.

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