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!

11.02.2014

De-Cluttering The "Craft Room"

UGH.

GOOD LORD WHAT AM I DOING.

Next week is my craft fair at the Brooklyn Park Armory (from 9:30 - 4:00 in Brooklyn Park, MN if you're interested in coming!!!). This week I need to organize all of my crochet into bags (I use Ikea bags or extra bins lying around the house) into their own categories, which then gets stuff out of my office so that I can actually see the yarn and unfinished projects that I have. This week I need to be scrupulous and extra careful to pare down the projects that I just can't do.

So here are my rules. I made them up myself. I didn't take them from any other yarnaholic, or crochet addict because if I did then I wouldn't be getting rid of yarn or declaring a project unfit to work on.

Ok, I know, someone needs to shake some sense into me. I MIGHT BE DE-STASHING MY YARN.

No,  I AM DE-STASHING MY YARN. 

I need to. 

Back to my rules:

1. Is this a project that I can complete in one month? If the answer is no, then the project and yarn need to go into a pile designated "I CANNOT COMPLETE THIS PROJECT"

2. Is this a project that I can complete in one week? If so, put it into the "DO THIS WEEK" project to have it COMPLETED.

3. Is this yarn leftover from another project that I will never do again? If it's a whole skein, then I need to list it on Etsy for de-stashing or on Craigslist. 

4. With the "I CANNOT COMPLETE THIS PROJECT" pile: frog the project for the yarn and list the yarn on Etsy for de-stashing or on Craigslist.

Bah. With craft stuff my little artist heart bleeds a little bit onto my sleeve when I think of giving away or selling yarn. But I know that I can't do everything and I know that I just don't have the time that I used to have or the patience for long projects.

I have learned with simplifying my crap that I need to admit what I can and cannot do. I have also learned that there are things that I plain just don't want to do and that I don't have to do those things if I don't want to (like cleaning rugs. Why do I want to do that? I'll just get rid of them instead). 

I knew that this week would come. I knew that eventually I would have to get to my yarn and craft items. I knew it. The week is here.

On a random note, I hate raking leaves. Absolutely hate it. When the tree in our backyard needs to be cut down or it falls down, I probably won't cry about it. And then I can plant more veggies. 

11.01.2014

Super Easy Brown Sugar Sage Squash

Let me start this by saying I LOVE SQUASH. I really think that Fall is so great just because of squash. When I'm seriously tired of chopping tomatoes and eating cucumbers, the weather turns and suddenly there's loads and loads of delicious squash.

And unfortunately for me The Monkey has decided not to eat it. It might leave more for me, but it definitely disappoints me that she doesn't like it. I don't think she's even really tasted it but whatever... she'll eat it when she's ready.


Super easy ingredients: (for each half of squash)
2 fresh leaves of sage
1 tbsp of butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425. 
Put each ingredient into your squash half. 
Wrap squash half in tinfoil.
Bake for 1 hour. 


I scoop the squash out and mash it all together in a bowl so it looks like mashed potatoes. It's easier for me to serve that way, but I think as the Monkey grows I'll just plop the squash half on plates. I feel like that's the best way to eat it.

Simplifying The Bath Towels

We have too many bath towels. Somehow we acquire them and then they just get shoved into our useless shelving and somewhat used before they end up in the laundry room or the garage or wherever in this house we need towels.

I need a change. So that's coming this week. 

I'm absolutely positive that I want Turkish bath towels. I'm not sure if Bimmer Man would be on board, but I certainly am.


The above images are from Amazon, priced at $22.99 each.

Everywhere else Turkish bath towels can be upwards of $50+ because they are SUPPOSED to be AMAZING. They are supposed to dry faster, exfoliate your skin better, and also get your skin drier faster than regular towels. An added bonus - they are also supposed to be easier to clean and according to Europeans are supposed to be fabulous for taking to the beach - I guess because they dry fast, sand isn't able to get stuck in the fabric.

Well, to me, the above sounds quite remarkable. 

My minimalist mind is thinking this: GET THESE TOWELS. GET RID OF ALL YOUR OTHER TOWELS AND JUST USE THESE.

So I think I'm going to buy two to start - one for me, one for Bimmer Man. Then eventually I'll buy one for the Monkey once she's grown out of her "Owl Towel" phase and a few extras. 

I'm hoping this helps with the linen towel laundry loads.

By the way, since the weather started turning and I've been drying our towels in the dryer with dryer sheets, I can totally tell a difference with the amount of chemicals in dryer sheets - after folding towel laundry or taking a shower, I get super itchy and I can just feel stuff on the towels. Super weird, I know. I may have to air dry towels for me inside while I wait on my Amazon order. 

10.31.2014

Happy Halloween!

And... that's all.

My little Monkey is too busy for pictures. She's out Trick Or Treating with Bimmer Man right now while I man the door.

Pirate's Booty is this year's hand out for candy... I was too disgusted by the amount of candy that was going into other people's carts so I picked something out of the non-candy aisle (where I was the only person...). Hopefully all the kids will enjoy it as much as we do!

Happy Halloween!