Friday, February 26, 2010

Creativity: Work through the Pain

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. ~ Calvin Coolidge 

Sometimes, I hit a brick wall. I've been producing items for my shop and home every day this month and it has been awesome to stay so dedicated. But, yesterday, I was feeling really down about a difficult situation that I have to deal with in my personal life. I was feeling so down, I didn't want to sew or crochet or write my blog. Those all seemed like silly, cotton-candy things in a world full of problems. I just wanted to lie down. 

Instead of giving in to this urge, I decided to start painting some new fabric for my new shop: Modern Queen Vicky (Victorian inspired hand-painted fabrics with a modern twist.) Drawing the pattern, mixing the colors, putting the brush to the fabric: all of these things were healing and nurturing to my soul. Here's the project I started:

And, as I worked, I hummed and sang a song that I learned in The Spirituals Project choir: "Keep on travellin' soldier. Keep your hand on the plow. Keep on travellin' soldier, don't you give up, not right now!"

And, as the title of this blog post suggests, I worked through the pain :), like these fine ladies do: 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Old Things

Last week, I thought about old things. Our culture isn't particularly interested in old things. Just take a look at the landfills. I thoroughly enjoy reclaiming old stuff to use in new and different ways; repurposing, upcycling, and recyling are all my bag, baby.

I enjoyed three wonderful, old things last week:
1. I bought an old sweater from Goodwill that was obviously crafted by a person, not a factory. I love the idea of buying homemade items from the thrift store. It's nice to buy an item that was never in the mainstream stream of commerce, something that didn't come from China.

2. I finally started reading an old book I have been carrying around for the last few weeks. I bought this book, "Run, River Run," from the Denver Public Library when I worked at the Library Cafe a few years ago. It is a memoir of a naturalist's journey down the Green River. I decided to research a bit about the book and found out that the author lives in Colorado Springs, my hometown, just down the road, and that she sometimes teaches courses at Colorado College. She wrote "Run, River Run" in 1971. So, now, I'm really excited to read this book and to hopefully speak to her about it when I'm done. I'd like to do an "old book" review on my blog and I hope she'll let me interview her. I've added the book to my book carousel (on the main page,) if you'd like to check it out. 

3. I made a pet bed for my little dog from our old t-shirts.

It took six t-shirts and a couple of hours to make.

It's honestly a little small for her. So, she crushes the sides down a little. 

I still have to make a soft pillow. But she likes to lie on it as it is. I plan to make another bigger bed for her, then I'll stick this one in her kennel.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Creativity: Reduce, Reuse, Upcyle

My new glass slippers are featured in this treasury:

My mom recently bought for me a beautiful selection of antique linens at an estate sale. Included with these were a set of beautifully delicate linen and lace glass slippers. I loved them so much I decided to use them as inspiration. My new glass slippers reuse interior design fabric sample/swatches. I'm having a great time making them and will be listing more in my shop this afternoon.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday Tips: Don't be so bottled up. You've got to tap your potential.

The following is an article by David over at The Good Human. He makes excellent points about the environmental impacts of drinking bottled water. My Tuesday Tip this week: follow his advice!

~12 Reasons To Stop Drinking Bottled Water.~

It is a common misconception for many people that bottled water is safer than tap, plastic bottles get recycled, and no harm is being done to the environment in the bottling process. Unfortunately, that could not be further from the truth! So in case you either needed more reasons to stop drinking bottled water, or a few extra talking points when discussing with your friends, I have assembled 12 solid reasons to kick the bottled water habit:
  • American tap water is among the safest in the world.
  • As much as 40% of the bottled water sold in the U.S. is just filtered tap water anyway. Be sure to check the label and look for “from a municipal source” or “community water system”, which just means it is tap water.
  • By drinking tap water, you can avoid the fertilizer, pharmaceuticals, disinfectants, and other chemicals that studies have found in bottled water.
  • Tap water costs about $0.002 per gallon compared to the $0.89 to $8.26 per gallon charge for bottled water. If the water we use at home cost what even cheap bottled water costs, our monthly water bills would run $9,000.
  • 88% of empty plastic water bottles in the United States are not recycled. The Container Recycling Institute says that plastic water bottles are disposed of (not recycled) at the rate of 30 million a day.
  • Plastic bottles can leach chemicals into the water if left in the sun, heated up, or reused several times.
  • Production of the plastic (PET or polyethylene) bottles to meet our demand for bottled water takes the equivalent of about 17.6 million barrels of oil (not including transportation costs). That equals the amount of oil required to fuel more than one million vehicles in the U.S. each year. Around the world, bottling water uses about 2.7 million tons of plastic…each year.
  • Bottled water companies mislead communities into giving away their public water in exchange for dangerous jobs.
  • It can take nearly 7 times the amount of water in the bottle to actually make the bottle itself.
  • On a weekly basis, 37,800 18-wheelers are driving around the country delivering water.
  • The EPA sets much more stringent quality standards for tap water than the FDA does for the bottled stuff.
  • One out of 6 people in the world does not have safe drinking water, and about 3,000 children a day die from diseases caught from bad water…that we know of. This while Americans spend about $16 billion a year on bottled water.
  • Have you kicked the bottled water habit? We finally did a few years ago, when we started using reusable bottles and filtered tap water from our house. So what do you think? Think we can encourage more people to get rid of their bottled water?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Snow Day!

A few photos of the view from my front window:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Pursuit: How Cheap Can You Be? $2,500 Kitchen Remodel

When my husband and I bought our little outdated (Some would say "hovel-like.") c. 1950 home, I could see the clouds of doubt passing behind our loved ones' eyes. It really did look terrible. But, I am known for my incredible cheapness (I would say "thrifty genius.") and I could see the potential in this little place. What follows is a slideshow of our almost completed $2,500 kitchen renovation (and, yes, that includes the appliances.)

Almost everything in this remodel was secondhand, recycled or upcycled. (The employees at the Habitat for Humanity outlet store know me and expect for me to haggle.) We did all of the work ourselves and sometimes our friends and family pitched in, too. We're proud of what we achieved for so little money. We know there is still more to do, but it's soooooo much better than it was.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monday Book Review: Made from Scratch

I can imagine that it must difficult to walk the line between engaging memoir writing and obtuse preachiness when you are trying to make the world a better place through living a sustainable lifestyle (I often wonder just how annoying my blog posts are for that exact reason); this quandary becomes painfully obvious at several points in "Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life." In this book, Jenna Woginrich writes about her love of all things handmade and her day-to-day pursuit of hobby farming/urban homesteading.

This is a lovely, little book with many positive thoughts and humorous quotes and, overall, I would say it is a delightful lazy weekend read. But, there were those moments when I found it nearly unbearable to read about Jenna's interest in, say, dog sledding or her particular feelings about what antiques she and her twenty-something friends feel are cool to buy. If all of the sustainable pursuits described in her book were necessary to living sustainably, the pill might have been easier to swallow.

Pursuing a handmade, sustainable life is a noteworthy achievement, especially for a twenty-six year old child of the world's most consumer culture. I applaud Ms. Woginrich's efforts. But, I must note, giving advice on how to be a successful beekeeper, even though she has not yet been successful as a beekeeper, seems a bit absurd. 

The author relates her mistakes and disasters in a delightfully, vulnerable prose that is most definitely endearing, but she errs when she assumes that her readers either want to do what she is doing or are twelve-year olds who have not already done so. The preachy tone, at points, overshadowed the valuable resources and information that Ms. Woginrich included in her manifesto.

All in all, I'd give "Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life" a solid B+. Although the fixings may have been over-salted at points, the meal was sustainably harvested and made from scratch. 

About Me

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Colorado, United States
Dreamer, Compiler of Facts, Idealist, Compulsive Yarn Handler, Last Person Picked for Kickball, Willing Participant in Mayhem