Friday, January 30, 2009

Favorite Thing of the Week ~ New Possibilities

My little garter business has had a very successful week. In fact, I’ve sold more individual garters and garter sets this week than I have in the past eight weeks or so combined. I’m not sure what the exact reason for this sudden and exciting increase is ~ it could be a result of the Etsy showcase I did last Saturday (I only sold one on the actual day of the showcase, but maybe brides saw my items that day and waited a few days before placing their order) or it could just be that wedding season is rapidly approaching. Whatever the reason, my success this week has opened my eyes to new possibilities for me and my business.

I have been toying with the idea of expanding the types of bridal accessories I offer on Etsy and through my website to include ring pillows, hair accessories, and bridal bags/purses for several weeks now, and after this past week, I really feel like such an expansion could be successful. It will take a lot of work and time to build up an inventory, but the possibility is definitely there and I’m ecstatic about it.

Growing my business leads directly to another possibility ~ cutting back my hours at my day job to focus more on my garters and other accessories. I have always always wanted to support myself by not only doing something I love, but also by doing something creative. Of course, I’m a LONG way off from being able to walk away from my desk job, but the possibility of working less and creating more is closer to becoming a reality!

Pondering all the possibilities,

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Great Puppy Search of ’08-’09 ~ Found a Breeder!

Okay, so last week I was completely torn between adopting a puppy from a breeder and rescuing one from the shelter. I thought long and hard about it over the weekend, and had several discussions with my almost-mother-in-law (Dear Boyfriend’s mom) about the problems that a puppy rescued from a puppy mill could have (as a result of inbreeding, poor living conditions, etc). I thought about all the research I’d done on small dogs when I was trying to find the right breed for me. And I thought about how completely and utterly in love I fell with the Papillon breed as I learned more and more about it and found more and more adorable pictures of puppy and adult Papis. I looked on to see if Papillons are even available from shelters in our area (and it turns out that the closest ones are multiple states away). Taking all of that into consideration, I decided to move forward with my original decision to adopt a Papillon from a breeder. I had a bit of downtime yesterday, and contacted several breeders in our area. I heard from one of them first thing this morning, and was ecstatic with her response. Her kennel is just an hour north of me, and she is planning on breeding one of her females as soon as she comes in heat ~ the puppies should be available this spring! (She did have a litter born last night, but those puppies will be available about a month too soon for us.) I’ve included pictures of the female and the male she will be bred with ~ aren’t they the cutest things ever?!? I asked to be added to the waiting list for a female from their litter, and I’m just about as excited as is humanly possible for spring (and puppies!) to arrive!

With lots of puppy love,

Friday, January 23, 2009

Just Finished a Great Book ~ The Hunger Games

I am a huge fan of the Twilight books and their author, Stephenie Meyer. Months ago on her website, she raved about a book by Suzanne Collins called The Hunger Games. Always quick to heed recommendations from a favorite author, I hopped onto our library’s website and got my name on the list for the book. I had all but forgotten about it until I got the call from the library that there was a book on hold from me; in fact, when I picked up the book and read the inside of the dust jacket, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why I’d even requested it. A story about a girl who is entered against her will into a tournament during which she must fight other kids to the death on orders from their government? It sounded like a far cry from most books I read and enjoy.

Finally, sometime yesterday morning, it hit me where I’d heard about the book, and I began to anticipate starting it. I read a few pages on my lunch, but had to get back to work before I could really get into it. Then when I got home from work, I had a few minutes to myself before I had to start working on a custom garter, so I decided to pick up where I left off. An hour later, I was completely hooked ~ it seemed like only twenty minutes had passed! I finally put the book down to get my sewing done, and took a few more hours away from the book to eat dinner and watch a movie with my dear boyfriend. But as soon as I could, I had The Hunger Games back in my hands, and before I knew it, it was well past my bedtime and I couldn’t imagine putting the book down.

I did eventually go to bed, the book unfinished, and I awoke this morning, anxious to find out how the story would end and frustrated that a day of work would get in the way of doing just that. Thankful that I’ve always been good at speed-reading, I was able to near the end of the book on my lunch. And then when I turned to the last page, I saw it ~ END OF BOOK ONE. WHAT?!? The story’s not over? I was immediately hit with a wave of mixed emotions ~ happy that I will get to hear more about the characters that have so grown on me after 374 pages, but frustrated that the story is NOT over, and that I’ll have to wait until September for the next installment (I found out this little fact after a bit of Internet research ~ apparently, The Hunger Games is the first of a trilogy). I do love reading series, but I generally like to wait until all the books have been published so I can devour them all at once rather than wait patiently for the next installment to be released. (Patience is not my thing.) Ah well, it’s too late for that now. While I wait for Book 2 ~ Catching Fire ~ to be released, the only thing I can do is tell as many people as possible about this wonderful book and hope they enjoy it as much as I did! I don’t want to say too much about it and ruin the story (I tend to rattle on once I get started), but what I will say is that it’s an amazing story about perseverance and love.

Hoping people take my advice and read this wonderful book,

The Great Puppy Search of ’08-’09 ~ Puppy Longing

I am anxiously awaiting our early May move to a new house for a variety of reasons, the strongest being my desire to get a puppy. We haven’t started looking yet, but I have several wishes for the new location ~ it must allow pets, and it should have a bathtub (our house now does have one but it’s in our roommates’ bathroom and I SO miss taking baths), a garage to store Nate’s DJ equipment, a non-gravel driveway (too many pairs of my heels have been ruined by the gravel in our driveway and I’m tired of it!), and a fenced yard. I would also love a walk-in closet, but really, what girl wouldn’t?

Because we haven’t found a place yet (which isn’t too surprising as we haven’t begun our search!), I haven’t spent a lot of time looking for Papillon breeders in our area. I have decided that it’s probably best to wait until we know where we will be living (from what I’ve read, breeders sometimes want to see what your home looks like and talk to your landlord if you rent), but that hasn’t stopped my excitement about our future pup. I’ve even picked out a name for her ~ Daisy ~ and mention to my dear boyfriend almost daily how anxious I am to bring her home (I think he may think I’m a little nuts). I’ve never been a patient person, and this wait is killing me! My yearning to have a little creature who needs me to care for it is so strong, and quite possibly stems from the fact that I am at the age when my hormones are telling me it’s time to be a mommy ~ a puppy will be a nice stand-in until we’re ready to have kids.

But while I’ve most certainly decided that a Papillon fits what I’m looking for in a dog, I’m also struggling with a moral dilemma ~ is it okay to want a purebred pup from a breeder when there are so many puppies and dogs in shelters waiting to find their forever homes? Just this past week, there have been two puppy mills raided in our area ~ 150 dogs were rescued from one and 170 from the other. These poor little animals have been living in horrible conditions, many confined in small crates that have never been cleaned with multiple other dogs. Animal rescue workers have said they’ve never seen such atrocities. Should I try for one of these dogs instead of my perfect Papi pup? The money I’ve been saving for her could instead be donated to one of the shelters that is now overflowing with dogs rescued this week. It’s hard to know what to do ~ I was so certain that a Papillon was the breed for me, but my heart breaks at the sight of the pictures on the news of all those dogs that have been born and raised in filth, and have never known love.

Questioning my puppy decision,

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Strawberry Love

I am a berry girl. I'm a big fruit fan in general, but I have a special place in my heart for berries. My favorites are raspberries (when I was learning to walk, my parents used them as a bribe to get me to walk from one to the other) but I love strawberries almost equally as much. The raspberry season was unbearably short this year, but I was able to get my fair share of strawberries ~ I think I went through close to two pounds a week the whole summer and fall. It was a sad day when the last of the good berries were gone from the grocery store and I had to get my fruit intake from bananas and apples alone. (Fortunately, the mandarin season arrived shortly after to see me through.) So imagine my excitement when we came across these gorgeous strawberries at Costco today! Who would have thought we'd find beautiful, delicious, fresh berries in January?!? It's like my birthday and Christmas all rolled up into one!

Off to enjoy my yummy berries,

Favorite Thing of the Week ~ Wists

I am notoriously horrible when it comes to finding things I would love to make, purchase, or take inspiration from online and actually remembering where I found them later. I’ll tell myself that it won’t be hard to find the item again, or I’ll email the link to myself (which I often do when I’ve found something wonderful while browsing during downtime at work), only to lose it in the bowels of my inbox or delete it accidentally. I’d heard about Wists months ago, and actually signed up for it at the time, but got frustrated when I couldn’t install the “Add to My Wist” option on my toolbar at work, and kinda forgot about the whole thing. When browsing the blogs I follow last night, I discovered a posting at Meet Me at Mike’s singing Wists' praises, and I thought I’d check it out again. I AM IN LOVE! What a wonderful little tool for keeping track of all of the little treasures I find online! Never again will I lose track of the pattern for the cute amigurumi puppy I want to make when time allows or the link to the animal print ribbon I want to buy when my business picks up. It’s so easy to add the things you find and love to your Wist – just drag them to the Wist toolbar that can easily be added to your Internet browser’s toolbar. Plus, Wists offers a cute little add-on so you can share your Wists with others (see My Wist to the right of my blog)! It’s fabulous!

Wist-fully happy,

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Garters on Etsy

I just posted a bunch of new garters on my Etsy! They are garters that I had finished over the past month or so, but hadn't had time to get pictures of with the holidays and being sick. Here are pictures of a few of my favorites.

I also just signed up for an Etsy Showcase tomorrow, and I'm very excited to show off my work and hopefully get some sales. It's been a challenge to get my name and product out there, and I really hope that this helps. Now I'm off to update my website, which has been sorely neglected of late.
Feeling super-duper productive,

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Favorite Thing of the Week ~ Seven Pounds

I thought it might be fun to do a weekly blog of my favorite thing of the week. So here goes!

My favorite thing this week is Will Smith’s new movie, Seven Pounds. We saw it on Saturday, and it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. I just can’t stop thinking about it. It certainly wasn’t a happy movie, but it was one of the best I’ve seen in a long time, and I’m itching to get back to the theater and see it again. I’ve been a Will Smith fan for years ~ maybe not as far back as his Fresh Prince of Bel-Air days, but certainly since Independence Day and Men in Black. But this was him truly at his best ~ he gave an excellent performance.

The previews and reviews of the movie really didn’t give a lot away about the plot of the movie, and I’ll try not to say too much here, but I will say that I feel that the movie truly inspires you to be a better person, and really causes you to consider how the sacrifices you can make can positively impact the lives of others. I’ve wondered for a long time what direction my life should take, and while I like working with numbers all day, I really am a people person and would love to have a career that allows me to actually interact with other people rather than sit behind a desk all day in my lonely, little office. My undergraduate degree is in the social science field, but my fear of being unable to find a decent-paying job in that arena led me to pursue a graduate degree in Business and Accounting. However, after seeing this movie, I feel like my path is clear ~ a career in the social services field is what I want. I have a strong desire to help people, and I hope that in the coming months, I can make some moves that will help me get there.

So Seven Pounds is my favorite thing this week not only because it’s a great movie, but also because watching it opened my eyes to the possibility of doing more with my life than crunching numbers all day.

Excited to see where my new path will take me,

Monday, January 12, 2009

Guilty Pleasures

I am only slightly embarrassed to admit that I am a bit of a TV junkie. If I had to point fingers, I would say that my crafting is somewhat to blame for this ~ most of my creative outlets for the past 5+ years have been knit~ or crochet~related, and let’s face it, unless you’re working on a really difficult pattern, knitting and crocheting only uses maybe 1/3 of your brain power. So, to keep the other 2/3 of my brain occupied, I’ve relied on what my family affectionately refers to as the “boob tube.” Needless to say, I have watched a lot of television shows and movies over the years. That being said, I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that during my brief time as an invalid over the past two weeks, I spent a lot of time in front of the TV. Unfortunately because of my painkiller-induced fog (my tooth really hurt!), I was in no fit state to work on garters or the yellow baby blanket that is my back-up project. I quickly worked my way through all of my favorite shows on On Demand, and ventured out into the land of never~before~seen television. In doing so, I discovered two fabulous shows that I am now completely addicted to ~ Bridezillas and Wife Swap.

Bridezillas is wonderful and horrid all at the same time ~ it’s fun to watch the ways in which different brides plan their special days, but their behavior and attitudes, especially towards their helpful family members and friends and their loving fiancés, is more often than not truly horrifying. More than once, I found myself wanting to scream at the naïve fiancé to “Run! Run far, far away as fast as you can! You don’t know the horrible witch you are committing to spending the rest of your life with!” I don’t think I will ever forget cringing as one bride shouted at her future husband to push himself harder at the personal training session she signed him up for four days before the wedding, proclaiming as she stuffed no less than three doughnuts in her mouth that their pictures had to look nice and he needed to lose his double chin, or as she berated him for his poor table manners at their rehearsal dinner in front of all their guests. Nevertheless, I have a hard time tearing myself away from the screen whenever the show is on. It’s definitely a cautionary tale of how NOT to act for all future brides.

Wife Swap is equally enjoyable, but for completely different reasons. I generally actually like the people who are featured on the show, and it’s rewarding to see how they all change after the experience of either living with a new family or having a new “wife” in the house for two weeks. I especially love watching how the new “wives” adapt to their new surroundings and bring new rules and traditions into the mix, and how they utterly and completely fall in love with their new “children.” I can watch episode after episode of this show, and fortunately for me, Dear Boyfriend likes it too.

I couldn’t say exactly why I like these shows so much ~ maybe because I dream of one day being a bride (albeit a well-behaved one), and then a wife and a mother. Whatever the reason, I sure do love my new~found guilty pleasures!

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

I’m a little late getting my New Year’s resolutions posted (and started), primarily because of the cold/cough and dental issues I mentioned earlier. I’m not really one for making New Year’s resolutions every year, but the few times I have made them, I’ve been pretty successful at keeping them.

There are many things I love about dating an Italian, including (but not limited to) pasta for dinner whenever I want and family get-togethers (with tables and tables full of yummy food) at least once a week. As wonderful as these things are, they don’t do much for a girl’s figure. Imagine my shock when I discovered that I’d gained ten pounds in the first three months we were dating! I know that ten pounds isn’t a lot, but when you’re only 5’ 1/2” tall, it makes a big difference… Plus ten pounds can easily turn into fifteen or twenty, so it’s best to get these things under control sooner rather than later. I’ve maintained my weight since last April and have tried half-heartedly to get back to my pre-relationship weight, but hadn’t had a lot of success. But a new year calls for a new strategy, and here is my plan:

· Pilates and/or yoga five days a week (I love doing both, and have noticed real changes in my body as a result of doing each consistently)
· 40 minutes of cardio three days a week
· Strength training in my office four days a week (I have a somewhat secluded office and do squats, plies, abs and arms throughout the day to keep my blood flowing and break up the monotony of life in an office)
· Eat a healthier diet ~ more fruits and veggies, less carbs and chocolate (as much as I hate to do it, I’m going to limit my pasta intake, and try to cut back on the yummy Lean Cuisine frozen meals I bring for lunch because they are so high in sodium)

We’re planning a trip to Vegas with my Dear Boyfriend’s family in April ~ hopefully if I stick to this plan, I’ll be bikini-ready by then!

As far as other resolutions go, I would really like to focus on growing my garter business by expanding my marketing tactics, including updating my website and approaching several bridal shops in our area to see if they would like to carry my product. I can be pretty shy when it comes to marketing myself and my creations, so it’ll be a challenge for me to put myself out there and risk rejection. I also am dedicated to helping Nathan expand our disc jockey business ~ our dream is to be able to support ourselves DJing full time (supplemented by my garter business) and eventually open our own wedding venue. It’s a big goal, but I know if we work hard and stay focused, we can get there.

Excited for the New Year and everything it will bring,

Celebrating our One-Year Anniversary

Today is our one-year anniversary as a couple. Unfortunately, our actual celebration has been postponed due to the nasty cold/cough I’ve had for the past week and my abscessed tooth that is getting its very own root canal tomorrow morning, but I’m sure we’ll hit one out of the park when we do celebrate this weekend.

A little bit about our history: although we’ve only been together a year, our story started years ago ~ we were in seventh grade choir together, and I had the BIGGEST crush on the cute guy with the deepest voice in the class. He told me shortly after we started dating that he had a crush on me around the same time, but nothing came of our puppy~love feelings until a few years later when we started dancing together at the after-football-game dances our sophomore year. I really liked him, and we went to Homecoming and the Valentine’s Day Tolo together that year, but I guess it wasn’t our time because neither one of us acted on our feelings, and we drifted our separate ways. 10+ years later, we ran into each other at the local country bar, took a few two-step lessons together, went on our “second” first date, and have been inseparable ever since.

I feel so blessed to be with a wonderful man who not only tells me he loves me multiple times each day, but goes out of his way to show me he loves me every day. He makes me laugh, cooks dinner for me every night, quickly forgives my occasional emotional outbursts, lets me drag him to the craft store at least three times a week with minimal complaints, and tucks me in on the nights I go to bed before he does ~ just being with him makes me feel so special. The year we have had together has been my happiest one yet. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.

Still feeling twitterpated after a year together,