12.19.2014

Uncluttering My Jackets

I don't think I can do it.

I seriously don't think I can get rid of any coats or jackets.

This is Minnesota.

This is the Land of 10,000 Jackets.

I need a light jacket for summer, a little heavier jacket for spring, a light jacket for spring, a heavy coat for winter (ok, a down blanket jacket, a dress coat, a winter coat that I can use for snowshoeing, playing outside, etc...), at least two different types of fleece for winter, spring, and fall, some type of sweatshirt jacket for spring, summer, and fall.

I already donated two jackets (a really nice down jacket that was too short, and a VERY NICE Banana Republic dress coat that the arms were too short).

I set aside two fleece jackets but I ended up using both of them this past fall.

So that plan failed (putting the two coats in a very different room to distract myself from the fact that I had those two jackets).

But I did hang up a sweater two weeks ago and I haven't used that yet... so that will be donated next week. Not only did I decide that I mostly wear 3/4 sleeve shirts but I end up stretching out the arms of all my long sleeve sweaters because I end up pushing my sleeves up for most of the day so most of my long sleeve sweaters will likely be donated. Or sold. I'm not sure - I don't really like keeping stuff around to sell that I've decided I'm done with. With dress clothes I need to put together a bag for Dress for Success.

I think in the end, I WILL just donate one of my fleece jackets. I'm just going to do it. It was from Old Navy quite a few years ago. I haven't used it enough to wear any of it out. There's no holes in the pockets. I just need to donate it and use my purple fleece. I don't need two fleece jackets.

There.

My mind is made up.

Get rid of it. Make more space in the front closet.

First world problem, right?

(Ok, I just set it aside in my donate pile)

Does my one item inspire you to donate one item? More items?

I sure hope so! Happy Friday!

Merry Minimalist Non-Consumerist Christmas


All these ads for Christmas and Holiday crap really irritate me.

I know that parents want to give their children EVERYTHING they want for Christmas. But when you have to put hundreds of dollars of toys on layaway because you can't pay for them... that's not Christmas. That's going into debt.

If you want to buy your mother a tv for Christmas but have to put it on a credit card, that's not Christmas, that's going into debt.

You have to make Christmas and holidays a time for the spirit of giving - but giving doesn't have to be a gift. Giving doesn't have to make you stress about money.

Of course there are going to be the parents that give their children the newest toys, the latest and greatest gadgets, the $100 sweaters, the $150 jeans, new iPods, new iPhones... But if you can't afford those things, you don't have to buy them just to "keep up with the Jones'" because Christmas consumerism shouldn't work like that.

And unfortunately (or fortunately), we live in America where it seems to be that if you don't have the latest and greatest, you don't fit in.

In the past few months I've been reading a lot of non-consumerism blogs and the meaning behind them really speaks to me. I don't think I can be a non-consumer simply because there are just things that we need (new or used, it doesn't matter) - and I think that when people are inundated with all these ads for Christmas toys and new gadgets and the lines become blurred between WANT and NEED.

Do you NEED a new television? NO

Do you WANT a new television? YES

Do you NEED new underwear? YES

Do you WANT new underwear? NO

I hate seeing people blur the lines between NEEDING to pay rent and WANTING to give gifts. There is no need to put yourself into a spot between a rock and hard place when purchasing gifts. 

It's time to think about NEEDS, not WANTS when it comes to giving to children for Christmas. I think the lovely advertising folks have really done a great job advertising and making it seem as if WANTS are NEEDS (because that is their job, right?). ALL KIDS NEED A NEW TABLET. ALL KIDS NEED NEW LEGOS. ALL KIDS NEED NEW EVERYTHING!!! 

Did we go overboard this year on gifts? Probably.

The Monkey is getting an easel for artwork, an Anna dress up dress, new clothes, art supplies, probably some Matchbox cars. 

Is she getting her own tablet? No, she's only 2. I don't see the need for a tablet for her. I see the need for her to be creative, to share my love of art with her and Bimmer Man's love of cars, to make sure that she knows that creativity will always be a part of her life - especially when educational funding is cut for the arts in schools when she is older. 

Gifts don't have to be expensive and gifts don't have to break the bank.

Christmas advertising just irritates me.

It doesn't have to be a pile of gifts. It doesn't have to be a season of debt. 

Christmas isn't perfect for everyone, and that's ok.


12.18.2014

The Dog Monster Strikes Again


This sweet lovable dog is the best.


He gets himself into boxes.


Refuses to go out at 8:00 at night to potty.


Takes up over half of the couch.


Lets squirrels rule his life. Eats rabbit poop.


Tries to eat pumpkins.


Looks pretty handsome after getting groomed.


And sometimes only takes out one toy.

But he also decided to dig a muddy freaking hole in my garden bed two days ago.

It's December. In Minnesota. It rained. 

He saw an opportunity and took it.

And wound up in the back porch because he's too big for me to carry into the bathroom to give him a bath. Yes, folks, this dog was covered in mud. In December. In Minnesota. 

I WAS SO MAD. 

I HAD TO BRING HIM BACK OUTSIDE AND DOUSE HIM WITH WARM WATER JUST SO HE COULD DRY OFF IN OUR BACK PORCH.

And just where did he dig a hole? 

Right next to the flipping thorniest bush I could find to deter him from digging this past summer. Seriously.

THE DOG MONSTER STRIKES AGAIN IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER.

To those that want a dog: BEWARE. YOU MAY HAVE TO DO THINGS YOU DO NOT WANT TO DO IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER. Like, say, dumping water on your dog with the biggest pots and pans that you can find because you've already unhooked the hose and turned the water off to the outside faucets. IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER. 

At least he hasn't been "skunked" yet. 

I'm close to 1,000 posts

I can't actually believe it. I've been blogging for years.

Years.

YEARS.

YOU PEOPLE HAVE KNOWN ME FOR YEARS.

It's a little bit crazy because I started this not really knowing anything about anything, myself included.

And here I am. YEARS LATER. I now have a child and a dog (second dog since the blog).

We've moved from a teeny tiny apartment to an old (100+ year old house...) to another old house. My gardens have flourished in the few years that we've been here (and I've killed some too... this Spring I'm really hoping my Bleeding Heart comes back!). You've seen my cooking mistakes and my really good recipes - crappy photos and all.

Oy, I've really grown up a bit, huh?

Well, thank you lovely readers for sticking with me - for my actual 1000th post, I'm going to be doing a crochet give-away. I've been thinking about it for awhile and I know just the perfect item to sort of celebrate? I guess??

Meh, stick with me a few more weeks! Happy almost-1,000th post to me!

11.21.2014

And How Old Is This Unopened Packing Box?? 5 Years Old

Just not an hour ago I found a box that was still packed from our move... 5 years ago...

It's all wine glasses.

Seriously.

5 red wine glasses and 5 white wine glasses. 

I suppose when I registered for our wedding I just thought we needed 8 white wine glasses and 8 red wine glasses because that's what Americans need, right???

Actually, here in the McTatty-Bimmer household we don't drink that much wine. We like beer. When I buy wine though, I do drink it but I just use a regular drinking glass (well, in our house we use old canning jars for drinking glasses...). 

And in 5 years we've never used more than 3 red wine glasses or 3 white wine glasses at a time. My wine glass holder under the counter only holds 6 wine glasses anyway. I'm pretty sure I can donate or sell the wine glasses that I'm not using. Er, haven't used ever in 5 years. 

Oh man, I'm pretty sure that sums up a whole lot of people - the-I-have-too-much-stuff-for-the-two-people-that-live-here-to-use. 

And I also found three storage tubs that aren't being used - two of which I will keep for my crochet stuff and the last one I'm donating. It's one of those stupid under the bed organizers which doesn't fit under our bed at all. I don't even remember buying it. I don't even know if I did buy it, but if I did I'm positive that I probably tossed it down the basement stairs in disgust after I realized that it wouldn't fit under the bed. 

Isn't that awful? I mean really, if it didn't fit I should have returned it and instead it got shoved into the storage closet. THE UNUSED STORAGE BIN GOT SHOVED INTO THE STORAGE CLOSET. 

BAH.

I've now seen how wasteful life can be in my own house. And I never thought I was all that wasteful to begin with but as it turns out, well, I have definitely been wasteful.

And there's nothing like admitting your faults to the internetz, right?

So friends, if you're my friend on Facebook you may see an obscene amount of stuff that I will post for free. Or cheap. Or whatever. Because at this point I'm just mad at myself over the wasted space, wasted money, and wasted time spent on taking care of STUFF. 

Next week is Thanksgiving. 

I'm going to be thankful for the time that I'm spending on getting rid of my stuff because the process of it is really eye-opening. I've seen how much time I want to spend doing the things that I want to do but can't because there's too much stuff to do (take care of) at home. 

11.20.2014

11.19.2014

The Latest Crochet

I'm getting ready to send a bunch of stuff to Finch's Boutique for their annual Holiday sale. This year it's in a warehouse in Northeast Minneapolis - which I'm super excited about because I actually want to shop. There is a vendor that will be there with hand dyed yarn and I want to get my hands on some! There's a ton of other stuff too, but below is what I'm planning on sending, well, if it hasn't sold already!


I've already sold 7 of these short cowls. I only have 5 to send to Finch's and I held back 3 for friends that want one. If you crochet and want the pattern, you can find it at The Velvet Acorn on Etsy. It's a paid pattern so I cannot share it, but you can purchase it. 


Children's owl hats - I know they were extremely popular last year but I decided to make some anyway - all the kids that walked by my booth at the craft fair were really drawn to my colors of hats and they really liked them (though parents thought they were too expensive, but seriously, they're priced at $20 each and I can't go any lower on my price for these because then I would be PAYING to sell them, and I'm not going to just give stuff away, that's not fair to me as a crafter!). I'm sending 8 hats - 2 pink, 2 blue, 2 green, 2 purple.



I'm sending some garlands/bunting - $15 each. I've got a variety of shapes, lengths and colors - there's stars, squares, flowers, etc...


I also made some earwarmers with button closures so they are adjustable for each person's head. I used simple double crochet stitches with 1 inch coconut shell buttons. There's a few wool blends and a few acrylics (I think the wool blends are softer, but I know people are allergic to wool so I tried to have a variety!). The only bad thing about these is that I was going to attach some minky material or some fleece to the inside so they would be a bit warmer, but I sell them for $10 each without the material and with the material I would have to price them at $25 to make up for the added material. I'm not sure that many people would pay $25 for one earwarmer. 


I also finished an order of slippers. These are more like the Ugg boots that people have - tall, with a button closure and double thickness for the bottoms with non-slip paint on the bottoms. I hate being able to "skate" in my slippers so I've been adding non-slip paint to what I make. I want a pair for myself in gray or brown, I may have to wait to make those because I'm working on a few other items right now for other people. These are $40 per pair - I use a wool blend chunky yarn along with toggles for the buttons on the sides. (If you want a pair, I will be happy to make them!)


I made The Monkey a new hat for winter - she even picked out the yarn herself, it's the Vicki Howell Sheep-ish yarn. I modified an adult pattern to fit her head with back post double crochet stitches.


A teal chunky cowl - these are super simple and just slip right over your head, You can then pull it up to block the wind. I've used more lace-y stitches for this, but I think for the future I'm going to use stitches that are closer together. I like this look though. This cowl will be at Finch's Boutique, along with the same cowl below - 


I HATED the coloring of the yarn above while it was still balled up - but I LOVE the look of it when I finally finished this cowl. Super soft!


A new hat for me - I found the Isaac Mizrahi yarn at Michael's and I couldn't resist. I bought 2 balls of it and now I want a cowl with the same yarn. 


This cream scarf and gray cowl will also be at Finch's. I've discovered the "third" loop when making a half double crochet and now I can't stop. Oy, I have to learn how to make a hat with the same stitch as the gray cowl - I love how it looks knit!!

I Got Rid Of My Dining Room Chairs

I posted a little ad on my Facebook page for free chairs. They were scooped up in seconds. 

Now, don't get me wrong, I really, really LOVED these chairs. Like, loved them (ok, I didn't really need to add that second "loved" but I need to emphasize the fact that I really did love these chairs). They were somewhere around $50 each from Ikea - really well put together, really sturdy, and great chairs. 

BUT.

I had a problem with them. With a 2 year old and a husband and a dog, they got really dirty. I scrubbed them weekly to get off all the food, crayons, markers, dot stampers, glue and everything else that happened to fall on them. Simple answer: recover the seats.

My answer: BUT I DON'T WANT TO CLEAN THEM ANYMORE.

So this post is my so-long-to-my-favorite-dining-room-chairs post.


They were lovingly used by The Monkey to help me with crafting.


They made the BEST forts. The BEST. Because with draping a blanket over them I could actually SIT UP in a fort. Imagine that, an adult sitting up in a fort!

So what am I going to do?

Well, right now we've got two mismatched chairs (an old antique one and a chair that's similar to the old Ikea ones without a chair pad, the one without the chair pad doesn't work for The Monkey, she kneels to eat so her little legs slip through the bottom rung of the chair). When Bimmer Man eats with us I haul up the old piano bench that I spray painted red. It works for right now but I need to find something better.

I'm looking at going a little more modern - maybe some colored chairs. I don't know. We'll have to go to the Scratch & Dent place off of Highway 7, Ikea, West Elm, etc... I've looked on Craigslist but people have overpriced their crappy chairs and I can't find anything that I'm absolutely in love with that I would re-finish or paint. We shall see. I'm planning on only spending less than $150 on dining room chairs - if I see mismatched chairs that look good in antique shops, I may just go that route instead. I've seen a few pins on Pinterest with that look and a few articles in Better Homes & Gardens, and also in Midwest Living where I really liked the mismatched look. 

Whatever... I am determined to find some chairs that are easy to clean, comfy to sit on, and can fit a booster seat with ease (no, I am not pregnant, just looking to the future!). 


And lastly, a little dining room update - I found a vintage mirror at a little shop were I went with a good friend that I've known since I was ZERO years old - my friend Erin and I re-connected through Facebook and it's like we were never apart. Seriously, she still knows me so well, it's a little uncanny at what old friends can do for your heart. I'm so glad we re-connected, it's been wonderful!

And now I'm going to donate the old card holder that I had hanging up - last year I taped all the Christmas cards to the door frame between the dining room and living room anyway - I didn't even use the card holder. Getting rid of another unused item is fun!

11.10.2014

Craft Fair 11/8 Update

This past Saturday was a fantastic experience for me - though it was slow - I did sell quite a few items and I also learned quite a lot.

The booth behind me sold soap, which smelled AMAZING... and was also all handmade. The couple that sold it was great and I learned so much from them. This was their first fair in the Twin Cities - they normally did fairs in northern Minnesota (Bemidji area) which they said were always busy because craft fairs were where people go to buy gifts, their soaps, their supplies and the people wanted to support their local economy, which is unlike the Twin Cities area where people are more likely to shop at stores instead of craft fairs.

But I also learned that not all people who sell things at craft fairs handmade their goods. For example - there was a booth that sold knitted items AND crocheted items but as they were setting up I saw them ripping open each item out of plastic bags (which means that they bought the items in bulk for crazy cheap and are selling them upcharged and the items are probably NOT handmade).

There were also two other crocheters (ok, two other happy hookers!) at the fair and we all made completely different items. There was a woman that made all baby items, and another woman that made all scarves, infinity scarves, cowls and hats out of one type of yarn.

Then there was me - I rarely make the same item twice unless it's super popular so I had several boot cuffs, ear warmers, and about 10 short cowls. I had a few kids hats, mens hats, scarves, and wrist warmers. I brought 8 owl hats and got compliments like crazy but was told my price was high compared to others, I guess it wasn't the right market for those.

I also learned that even though I prefer to work with natural fibers like cotton and wool, most people really enjoy the feel of acrylic yarn (and that's fine, acrylic yarn is cheaper to buy anyway).

What I sold:

5 pairs of boot cuffs
4 short cowls
1 ear warmer
1 hat (which was my favorite - it was gray and pink striped!)
1 chunky cowl

For the amount of items that I brought, I did really well because I ended up hauling out only 1 bag of items instead of 3. I was happy with my sales because I made my money back from the show entrance fee plus a little extra so I can now go back to Michael's to purchase yarn to update my stock of items again - so I can make 3 more short cowls, and 4 more pairs of boot cuffs to send to Finch's Boutique.

I also want to go to JoAnn Fabrics to see if I can find some sort of minky fabric or super soft flannel that I can line my ear warmers with (and charge more than $10 each, I think with the fabric I can charge $15).

Why am I telling all of you about this?

Well, because I'm sure you're curious about the behind-the-scenes of the selling handmade goods.

Honestly - I don't make much money off of my craft, instead I make enough money to purchase yarn for my next items and that's pretty much it. I have some extremely nice yarn (at $15 per skein!) that I would love to make items and sell those but I don't think people would pay those prices at certain craft fairs. I think people in the Twin Cities go to craft fairs for discount prices not knowing how long it takes to make items and how much materials cost. That's fine - it's not really my job to educate people on that and talk people's heads off trying to defend my prices, instead what I do is let my quality show.

Next year what I would rather do is open up my house to those that are interested in handmade goods - serve some adult beverages, a few appetizers and let people come to my house to shop for what they want. This way I can enjoy the people that shop from me and I can have an absolute variety of goods for people to buy - I can put everything out without being limited to a certain space. I even talked to my neighbor about doing this (she is a potter and makes GORGEOUS things!!!), so if we do it together, hopefully we can get some new clients from each other and actually show everything that we make - from the low end items to the high end items and let our quality of work speak for itself.

So next year, be on the look out for that! I'm going to re-vamp how I sell (not that I'll ever be a millionaire selling my goods, but just to make sure that people know the range of items that I can make).

Happy Monday everyone!