Posts tagged ‘blogging’
(from “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein)
The organizers of Blog Action Day couldn’t have picked a more timely subject for this year’s event. This year’s subject, poverty, is affecting more and more people every day in America and beyond. Many of us feel the strain of the bad economy but don’t experience poverty ourselves. We want to help others at times like these but are justifiably worried about our own finances and feel we have nothing to give.
I believe there is something that we can do to help others during these difficult times and at the same time relieve some of the anxiety we are feeling about our own finances. We can give.
It sounds counter-intuitive, maybe even financially irresponsible. But there are ways that every one of us can give today in a responsible way. Simply thinking “I wish I could help others, but I can’t afford to right now” has a psychological effect: it puts us in a negative and powerless state of mind. Money may be tight, but we can still be thankful for what we have and think about those who are much worse off than we are. Giving to those in need will reinforce our gratitude for the resources we do have and give us the power to do something good with them.
Organizations like Kiva put the power in your hands to invest in an entrepreneur of your choosing– someone in the developing world who is trying to lift him or herself out of poverty and needs capital to get started. Those who receive Kiva loans repay them at a very high rate, so when your loan has been repaid you can take those same funds and re-invest in another person. You don’t need a lot of money to invest– the money in your change jar is enough to make a difference.
Heifer International works to end poverty and hunger around the world by allowing donors to purchase livestock for families in need (pigs, and goats, and bees, oh my!) The animals are provided to families along with the training they need to become self-reliant. I love these two organizations because they empower both the giver and the receiver. By giving, we become part of one family’s path to health and happiness. By acting with gratitude and generosity, we are happier too.
Even if you can’t give your money, you can give your time. Look into local organizations providing assistance to the poor. If you’re not sure who to contact, try VolunteerMatch.Org. If you can’t commit to a regular schedule, get involved in a one-time event like a walkathon. You can even give while doing the things you love to do– be creative. If you love to sew or knit, make a blanket and donate it. If you draw or paint, donate your work to an auction for charity. Giving blood and becoming an organ donor won’t cost you a cent. Also consider joining the National Marrow Donor Registry. If you are a match for someone in need of a bone marrow transplant, you can actually save a life.
Now more than ever, we need to take a step back from the stress of things that we can’t control, like the uncertainty of the upcoming election and the ups and downs of the stock market. We need to remind ourselves that there are plenty of things we can do to make a positive impact, in our own lives and the lives of others.
In the spirit of giving, today I want to empower another person to give. I’m giving away a $25 gift certificate to Kiva, which will allow the winner to invest in a project of his or her choosing. To enter, just leave a comment on this post between now and 12:00pm EST on October 22nd. I’ll contact the winner by e-mail on October 23rd and send the gift certificate via e-mail.
Edited to add: …. The Random Number Generator picked….. Susan! Your Kiva gift certificate is on its way!
Blog Action Day is an annual event that calls on bloggers to post about the same issue on the same day. This year, the focus is on poverty. The goal is to raise awareness and initiate a worldwide discussion. Click the link in my sidebar or here to find out more about Blog Action Day.
I’m planning a special post for October 15th. Here’s a hint: it has to do with goats, chickens, and bees! I’ll also sponsor a giveaway here on that day, so please check back and take part. I’m looking forward to participating in the discussions that will take place on other’s blogs as well. If you have a blog, please consider joining in by posting about global poverty on October 15th. If you don’t, you can join the discussion here and all over the internet on Blog Action Day.
I’m in. Are you?
I haven’t written much here lately because I’ve been busy chasing a puppy around. We adopted our new puppy, Penny, three weeks ago today from the Northeast Animal Shelter, and at this stage she’s more into chewing monitor cords than blogging. Even though I didn’t post much this month, I had more hits than ever thanks to this post at Tipnut.com, which included one of my aprons in a round-up of internet tutorials. Check out Tipnut if you haven’t, it’s full of handy information.
Penny is something of a mystery mutt, but we think she’s part beagle and maybe some other type of hound, maybe with some pointer mixed in for good measure. Whatever she is, she’s darling. Three weeks in and at about four months of age, she’s well on her way to being house-trained, she’s sleeping the night in her crate without barking or crying (for the most part), and she has learned to sit, stay, and lie down (and she’ll perform each of them on command if she’s not distracted by something exciting or delicious.)
I wanted a picture of her to add to this post, so I attempted Penny’s first photo shoot. The best photo is cute, but the outtakes tell the real story.
Here’s the money shot:
And here are the outtakes, accompanied by my anthropomorphic commentary:
You think I’m just gonna sit here while you’re holding that tasty Milk Bone in the air?
Not a chance, chump.
This is so lame.
None of my friends even read your stupid blog anyway.
Okay, okay, I’m ready for my close-up.
Enough already! I don’t know about you, but this puppy is pooped.
A couple of weeks ago, I was thrilled to find some very cool sheet sets(green with white polka dots!) at a very cool price. Yes, I get excited about sheets. What can I say– I’m a textile geek. I snapped up two sets– we need four pillowcases anyway, and it’s nice to have an extra fitted sheet. With the two flat sheets, I made a duvet cover for our down comforter. Nothing complicated about it, but I thought I’d share the process in case it helps to get someone else’s wheels turning.
(1) Since all the seams on the sheets are already finished, a top-stitch around the perimeter should be sturdy enough to hold the duvet cover together– so no need to sew the whole thing together inside out and turn. Just pin the two sheets together, right sides OUT. I used what had been the tops of the sheets as the bottom of my duvet. [Here's why: at the top of these particular sheets, like many sheets, about six inches of the fabric was turned over at the top and sewn down when it was manufactured. At the bottom and on the sides, there is only about half an inch of fabric turned over. Since the bottom of my duvet cover is going to have an opening (although it will be closed with velcro, buttons, or snaps), a little bit of the inside of the duvet cover will sometimes be visible and I don't want the wrong side of the fabric to show.]
(2) Begin sewing (using a pretty small machine stitch for strength) about four inches from the center of what will be the bottom of the duvet. I chose a seam allowance that felt right when I lowered the foot (remember you’re dealing with sheets that already have seams around the edges, so you do have to work around them.) When you begin, you want to start with at least four or five backward stitches, and then start going right over them again as you begin sewing forward. Do the same thing when you reach the end of the seam– this will strengthen the places you’re going to be yanking on when you pull your duvet in and out of the cover for washing. Sew all the way around the outside (yawn) and stop about four inches from the other side of the bottom of the duvet, leaving about an eight inch gap. The easiest way to close the gap is with iron-on velcro. Buttons would be great if your machine makes buttonhole.
(3) If you get annoyed with the duvet sliding around and bunching up inside the cover, try this trick: sew ribbon ties onto each cover of your duvet, and a ribbon loop into each corner of the duvet. Then when you put the cover on, you can just tie the corners into place, and no more slipping around! When I lived in Japan, I noticed that many duvets and duvet covers came this way when you purchased them– genius! I haven’t gotten around to doing this yet because I was eager to get my new duvet onto my bed, but I plan to.
I hit one unexpected snag– it turned out the sheets were not exactly the same size. Yes, they were both full-sized sheets, the exact same brand, style, and color, but one of them was a full two inches longer than the other. So my plan for this to be a super simple project didn’t quite work out. I had to trim the excess off of the longer sheet and hem it, and then topstitch the two sheets together. Grrrrr.
If you don’t have two matching flat sheets, you could use two coordinating sheets. This would be a great use for vintage thrift store finds. You could simply use one as the front of the cover and one as the back, or if you really wanted to make things interesting, you could cut the sheets up and piece them back together so that you had part of each sheet on both the front and the back. You could do this in a very simple manner by cutting one strip out across the width of each sheet and then sewing it into the other. Maybe I’ll try that next time.
Oh, and P.S.– no comments about my shoddy bed-making! I come from the toss-your-duvet-on-the-bed-and-be-done-with-it school of thought, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Let me start by apologizing for neglecting this blog of late. I moved three weeks ago, so of course the move and everything that goes along with it has been keeping me very busy. Feathering a new nest does bring up lots of crafty challenges but I haven’t had the time to do much yet, nor have I had the patience to snap pictures, hence the lack of postings lately.
I’m having trouble taking still photos of objects that look good enough to post. I’m agog (love that word, but it makes me think of the giant spider in Harry Potter) at all the sumptuous photography at so many of the blogs I read, but I’m just not satisfied with most of the stills that I take.
Light is the biggest challenge. Unless I take a picture at high noon (like this), it comes out way too dark (like this.) If it’s dark enough to need the flash, the flash just washes everything out anyway. My new place definitely has some sunny spots, so hopefully that will help. I found some very helpful general advice here, and I used this tutorial to build a light box, but I’m not satisfied with any of the pictures I took using it. They’re still not bright enough, and the colors are off. I think I might need to get some fancy schmancy light bulbs. Sigh. Any advice would be much appreciated.
Today I’ll share a photo of the view from my bedroom window. I’m clueless about plants, so I haven’t a clue how long this tree (which I am told is a lilac, ha!) will be in bloom, but I am enjoying it while I can!
For the next few weeks, I’ll be busy packing and unpacking, cleaning, decorating and all the other (ahem) joys that go along with moving. There won’t be a whole lot of crafting going on, although I do hope to somehow make some curtains, a duvet cover, and a baby gift for a friend. How I’m going to manage that with most of my crafts supplies in a box remains to be seen. In the meantime, I thought I’d post a list of things I hope to try (and blog about) once the craziness of the move is behind me.
- Sashiko (Japanese embroidery)– The Portsmouth Fabric Company is having a class on Sashiko in May– sign me up!
- Print Gocco– I want to try it before I buy it– I’d love to find a local class. I want to print my own fabric or try making something like this.
- Fabric-covered switch plates! This is just the beginning of my plan to cover everything in my home with fabric.
- Homemade paper from junk mail. Cool.
- Experimenting with shrinky dinks
- Magazine holders from cereal boxes
- Embedding objects in resin– Okay, this one is highly toxic, but I want to try it!
- The Eliot School in Jamaica Plain has all kinds of cool classes– I want to take the upholstery class, and maybe digital photography.
This list should keep me busy for a long time to come. Of course, before I get around to all of these fantastic projects, I’ll probably get distracted by others. Ooooh, like the free embroidery pattern posted last week on Wee Wonderfuls. Or Suey, the Super Sock Pig! Here I go again…
This blog has gone a little apron-crazy lately. I made an apron for a friend back in January and I blogged about that. Next, I won a lovely apron in a giveaway and I blogged about that too. Last week I made another apron for the Sassy Apron Swap, which I wrote about in my last post. Now I have another apron to write about…
I received an apron from my swap partner on Monday. It came from Adrienne in Jacksonville, Florida and I love it!! When I signed up for the swap, I mentioned that my kitchen is orange. Adrienne took that and ran with it and made me a beautiful reversible orange apron. Adrienne posted pictures of both sides of the apron on the swap’s Flickr site, here and here. One side has a round pocket, and the other side has a kangaroo pocket. All of this is very cool to me, because I’ve never attempted a reversible apron before, nor anything other than a typical square pocket.
The winter here in New England can be very long and dreary. This apron definitely helps me to think spring! Adrienne included even more Florida sunshine in the package, in the form of some yummy citrus fruits! I think it’s fun to see people enjoying their handmade gifts, so I thought I’d post a picture here of the apron in its new home. (The fruit, by the way, is long gone!)
Doesn’t it look great in my kitchen?! Thanks so much, Adrienne!! Your thoughtfulness is very much appreciated.
Look at this gorgeous apron made by the very talented Morgan at One More Moore:
And guess what… I won this beauty! Thanks so much, Morgan– I’m so lucky to have won such a lovely prize!
I won a giveaway on one of the cool blogs that I read, Small Fox in a Big World. I am so impressed by the generosity of bloggers who share the benefit of their talent and experience in the form of tutorials, patterns, and even their own work! That last link, by the way, is my prize. Yippee! Now I’m dreaming up my own giveaway… it will have to wait until after the holidays because I have way too much to do as it is, but stay tuned.
I’m still a sewing novice. I know my way around a sewing machine at this point, but it seems that almost everything I sew involves some kind of “first”– my first zipper, my first dart, my first bias strip. Because of this, I lack the ability to determine at the outset of a project whether it will be easy or difficult. Several projects I have started, thinking they would be simple, have turned out to be rather time-consuming and confusing. I grumble about it and then try to remind myself how quickly the project will come together the second time I do it.
Here is a project that actually was quick and easy, even the first time! It took only about an hour, including hand-stitching the eyes and mouth. (The rest is sewn by machine.) I made it from a pattern in the wonderful book, Softies, by Therese Laske. I had considered buying this book and then I saw it at Urban Outfitters last week for half price, so that was that. There are several cool projects in this book that I look forward to trying, and here is my first:
Yes, it is what you think it is.
Okay, I guess it takes a certain sense of style and humor to appreciate this one. It also helps if you have a pet who leaves you little surprises around the house. See how nervous he looks? That’s because he knows how mad you’re going to be when you find him on your chair.
A few weeks ago, I bought the make-a-long pattern from Hillary Lang’s incredible website, Wee Wonderfuls. Hers is the first blog in my reader that I absolutely must read when it shows a new entry. She is so talented, and her work is just my style. I’ve been admiring her work and the work of others who use her patterns, and that’s been a part of what has inspired me to dust off my old machine and get going again. I’ve been trying to teach myself to sew for a long time, mostly without the help of a pattern (see my last entry, a project that I just “winged”). I finally decided to buy one of Hillary’s patterns though because I haven’t really been able to sew three-dimensional objects very well. My hope is that by following the patterns of some of my favorite artists, I’ll be able to gain the skills I need to improve my own designs.
Now that I’ve made my first doll using Hillary’s pattern, I have to say, she is so cute and was so much fun to make that I don’t want to stop! Here’s a picture of my first attempt. I’m not sure if she’s quite done: I might add a collar or buttons to the front of her dress and some kind of embellishment to her shoes. But she’s lovely the way she is. Hillary, you rock.