Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wedding Dress: Initial Sketches

I'm thrilled that I have a friend wiling to design and sew me a wedding dress. Because the whole atmosphere of our wedding will be rustic and informal, I didn't want a very formal wedding gown. In looking around online and in magazines everything I've seen that I like would cost our whole budget. And anything I can afford is either incredibly plain or too frou-frou.

My friend Emily offered to design and sew my wedding dress. She's just graduating from the SCAD fashion department and looking to build up her portfolio. We met about a month ago so that we could talk about dress ideas, look at tear sheets from magazines and about what forms would work on my body. We went to dinner just before Christmas so that she could give me some initial dress sketches. All of the dresses have a similar A-line, floor length skirt and all incorporate a lace overlay for the bodice. Mostly we're thinking about variations of neckline, waist line, back detailing and sleeves. At the moment, the last dress is my favorite. We'll be meeting some time in the next couple of weeks to decide on the alternatives and then Emily will work on a final design drawing.

Favorite Christmas present

Ron and I decided that aside from stockings, we'd make each other gifts this year. Here's what he painted for me. (There's a little glare because I didn't feel like taking it out of the frame.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Aw Shucks

This is one of my favorite pictures. Andrea and I at her wedding in October. Their wedding reassured me that it's possible to host something that is totally genuine to who you are and still ensure that everyone has a great time. I will go on record as saying this was the best wedding I've been to and it only partly had to do with the fact that it was because my best friend was marrying a really incredible guy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wedding Location

Photos of my parent's yard and view from the house. They live on the side of a cranberry bog (you can see the red berries ready for harvest in the second photo) and just at the bottom of their house is a pond with an island. We're planning to have our ceremony on the island and we'll be walking across the bridge/aisle to our guests. These were taken this past October and if we could get beautiful weather just like that we'll be so lucky.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Something for myself

Most times I make things they are meant for a gift or to sell. I very infrequently make myself something. So this year I'm knitting myself a sweater. I chose something that is really meant to challenge myself - I've never knitted a full sized sweater & I've never done cables. I've finished the back and am almost done with the left front side.

I'm making the Drop Collar Cabled Jacket published in the Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine (Fall/Winter 08). It took me a few tries to figure out the pattern, but now it's knitting along pretty quickly. I'm using Lion Brand Nature's Choice Organic Cotton yarn in pistachio which feels sooo comfy. I had to adjust the pattern a little bit to obtain gauge but hopefully it won't come out too badly.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Photos of the Table Setting

Alright so keep in mind that if we do the disposable, we'd do the white and not the unbleached. Also, I included a sample of one of the napkins even though I haven't finished the edges yet. It can at least give a sense of the more casual feel that we're going for. I feel like I can pull off using the plates and they'll look alright especially since we're going for a more casual picnic/clambake for food. Still ultimately, aesthetically I'd really prefer the real dishes.

I agree with some of the comments regarding the environmental impact. I think that now we're really thinking about cost. We've really committed to trying to stay in our budget of $6000 and saving several hundred here means we can use it somewhere else.

Still haven't decided yet. Based on the pictures, any additional thoughts?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Biocompostable Disposable vs. Rentable Reusable

Current wedding planning dilemma. Dishware. I honestly didn't think that I'd be thinking so much about it. We're balancing aesthetics, environmental responsibility and cost. We're weighing two ideas - using disposable, biocompostable dishes or renting dishware that is reused frequently by the caterer and just needs a wash (something like this).

Ex. Disposable plate = $.15/each ; rental plate = $.45/each. That doesn't seem like all that much, but when you total it up for dinner plates alone that's $15 vs. $34. Then you tack on salad plates, dessert plates, bowls and it starts to make a difference.

Environmental Responsibility:
I think that the rentals probably win out on this one since they are reused very frequently and have a long life. They are probably some sort of ceramic which at least won't degrade into something harmful. Really we're looking at the use of water to wash them. If we go the disposable route, I do think that this is a great alternative that I won't feel too guilty about.

This is really where I'm torn. We're going to rent silverware and not disposable primarily because I just can't get behind it going that casual. We're borrowing wine glasses, but will have to rent drinking glasses and mugs (again I just can't do plastic). These particular plates are actually pretty nice looking. We got a sample pack in the mail yesterday and they are sturdy and have a nice flat finish, but in the end they are disposable.

I think that I'd rather have real dishes, but I really am weighing the costs. We tried a sample place setting at home and they didn't look too terrible. Ron's of the opinion that nobody notices dishes anyhow and that even so they fit with our Harvest picnic theme. He'd rather spend the extra $100 on something else. I'm torn - on the one hand, it's not that much money for an upgrade ; and on the other, we are trying so hard to not go into debt for this that I feel like every bit saved if we aren't compromising what we want is a good thing.

Later I'll try to post a photo of the sample place setting.

Friday, December 5, 2008

a boost from my prior post

I was just tooling around visiting some of the very few wedding-related blogs that I allow myself. Sara at 2000dollarwedding had a link to this article in the Telegraph. The author writes,

My enjoyment of weddings has, for the most part, been in inverse proportion to the amount spent on them. The most romantic affairs have almost always been the cheapest, because then the focus is solely on the love between bride and groom.

I can't help thinking this recession will be good news for the affianced. It provides an ideal excuse for a budget wedding or, indeed, a Budgens wedding. It's insanity to blow your savings on a "big day", when most of us have a socking big mortgage.

Man, does this really support our idea for our own wedding. I hope that our guests are overwhelmed by the romance and don't proclaim us totally tacky!

lesson in planning a not-so-big, nontraditional wedding

We'd been talking about our wedding before we even got engaged. I thought that I had a really good sense of what we were going to do. I've been taking note of things I loved at other weddings and things that aren't so much our taste. We've thought a lot about what's important to us as a couple and each of us individually (thankfully we're really on the same page). Here's what we envisioned - 50 guests having a fall picnic at my parents house; a day where we have the time to have an actual conversation with each guest and still time for ourselves together; capitalizing on the talents of our friends/family members to create something where everyone truly feels a part instead of us putting on a performance. And we wanted to do it all on a budget of $5000.

Here are some things I've come to realize:
1. It is incredibly hard to narrow a list to 50 people. We're currently at 64 adults and 18 children. Do you count the kids as another guest? They don't eat as much, but they do require a seat at the table. How do you cut the list without actually offending somebody that you really would love to have there?
2. Friends and family who are willing to travel to see you get hitched are awesome. Especially in a terrible economy.
3. Our budget is already up by $1000. Feeding people is expensive. And since we love food, it's an area we're not willing to scrimp.
4. People have offered up themselves to help in ways that are just incredible. My mom has perfected the art of googling for environmentally friendly party supplies, we've had three volunteers to help with photography, a friend who will officiate, two friends who will perform for our first dance, a friend who will do a reading, another friend who will help bake pies.
5. If you stop yourself from reading wedding magazines and websites it is a lot easier to keep your perspective about budgets and stay true to your own aesthetic.
6. It really helps to be very very organized. It's a good thing that I'm a cataloger professionally.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Whaling City Handcrafts

While we were up in Massachusetts in October, we checked out the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Some really interesting exhibits and the most insane collection of scrimshaw, but imagine my surprise when we came across a special exhibit on textile history. Pictures include a close-up of an antique crazy quilt, an antique needlework sampler, and a sewing notion box made with inlaid whale ivory.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Getting over the hump

Clearly I'm having a hard time getting through this week. I found this hilarious site to keep me busy for a little bit today. Here's what I would've looked like if I'd been in high school much earlier. I'm not even sure which is my favorite.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Productive Hobbies

Get Rich Slowly had a post today about productive hobbies - pasttimes that can help you either save money or make money. I've been thinking about this all morning since I've been struggling with this crafting stuff lately. The great thing about crafting is that it can save money on gifts - like the jams that most people will be receiving these upcoming holidays or baby showers gifts of stuffed animals. And it definitely feels more heartfelt to give home-made things. I've enjoyed the challenge of selling my things and it is definitely satisfying to know that people would spend money on the things that I make. However, I've been struggling with making sure that I still have fun working on things. I was really pretty burnt out after the craft fair and while I have a large number of ideas in my head for projects, finding the motivation to sit down and just get started has been difficult.

One thing that I'm trying to remind myself is that being creative and making these things needs to be about fulfilling my own need to express myself and not about just making some extra cash. Otherwise it just becomes another responsibility instead of a release. I'm going to challenge myself to work on something that is totally for my own benefit in the next couple of months. I'm still deciding on what my project will be, but will keep the blog updated.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


So here's some photos of a new product for my Etsy account. I got some great feedback on these at the craft fair, but no purchases. That was either because a. they were more expensive than people wanted to spend at a craft fair, b. they were hard to see the impact because they had to be folded on the table and you couldn't see the full impact, or c. the colors weren't what people had.

I plan to offer them on Etsy as examples of what I could do for custom orders. That way people could order specific color schemes or phrases or names. And I think that I'll create a few that say things like "Congratulations", "Happy Birthday" and "Happy Holidays". Ron thinks that I should do some that might be more appropriate for adults.

I would really appreciate some reader suggestions.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Junk in da Trunk Craft Fair

First craft fair completed. It was a modest success. It was held on Friday night and Saturday during the day during two days which were apparently record breaking heat for Savannah. Not so nice. I made a few sales and enough money to pay myself back for the table and supplies and a little extra in profit. Overall though I'd say that the weather really held people indoors and even we packed up early on Saturday because of it.

Highlights included:
Selling with Lane and Ashleigh - without them it would have been quite boring.
Lots of interest in the baby block sets and the mobile.
Overhearing that another vendor said that I had a "fancy" table.
People love elephants.

If I do another one, I've got some ideas about how to change my display and know what I would do in regards to products. I plan on doing more of the baby blocks and advertising more about the custom orders that I can do. Also more stuffed animals that adults might want - not as strong a focus on just nursery items. I think that I could probably do some shorter garlands too with some adult-friendly statements.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Craft Fair This Weekend

Nothing to do this weekend? Come down to check me out hosting my first table at a craft show. Here's the details:

When? Friday 7-10pm & Saturday 10am-2pm.
Where? Desoto Ave in Savannah (The alley between Bull Street and the Farmer's Market in Starland District)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Nora's Baby Shower

So during my drought of blog posts on crafting this summer, I mentioned that I'd been busy working on some things but couldn't post them yet. Well, my friend Nora had her baby shower yesterday and so I'm finally able to post about some of the things that I was busy making for her.

Kanga and Roo always make a good baby shower gift. I'm especially proud of the sweater since it's the first time that I've knitted anything that needed to be pieced together. I know that I got the pattern online, but I can't track it back down at the moment. Once I find it, I'll post the link. The booties were made by a pattern from Heather Bailey.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Coping with the Urge to Spend

One of my favorite personal finance blogs had an interesting reader post today on addiction to spending that got me thinking. I am really proud of how I've taken responsibility for my financial situation in the past six months and how far that I've come. I thought that it might be good to note the behaviors and new habits that have really helped me change.

1. I have been very good about not shopping for things that I haven't already noted that I needed. (I did make a couple of mistakes.) To do this, I avoid the mall entirely. I think that I've gone twice in six months - once to buy an interview outfit. The second time I spent money on items I wasn't planning on and I remembered why I am avoiding the mall. This also applies to general window shopping or superstores. I have a really hard time with Target. I use their pharmacy and every time I run in to pick up a prescription, I have to really focus so as not to wander the rest of the store.

2. I have a short list of personal finance and frugality blogs that I read daily. I find it really encouraging to read about other people's struggles and successes and I've been learning a lot of tips on how to save money and still live a rich life. Here are some of my favorites:
Get Rich Slowly
Frugal Dad
Blogging Away Debt
Simple Living America

3. I've created and revised and revised again my budget. I did in it Excel because I didn't want to spend on a new software program and felt nervous to do it online. Plus I know it well enough to tweak it to all my own needs. But the really successful part of this is that I've kept it updated. I use it to track my bill payments, all of my discretionary spending and my debt snowball. Seeing where my money goes has helped me to tailor the categories and be able to anticipate costs instead of just reacting to them.

4. I have set very specific savings goals. I would like to pay for a wedding in cash when the time comes. In five years, I would like to be fully debt-free and that includes my student loans. Specific goals help me to keep from being tempted to spend on unneeded items. Sometimes it kind of sucks to not buy any new clothes and wear things out before replacing them, but ultimately I know the other goals are more important and plus it's better for the environment anyhow.

5. I have set a very small amount of money in my budget for me to blow on whatever I want each week. It's just $20, but with a little planning that pays for some time out with my friends and maybe a couple of coffees or a little treat.

I am really interested in hearing how other people stop themselves and keep focused on the bigger goals. I love hearing new ideas and tips of how to stay on track.

Friday, August 29, 2008

New bunnies

Some new bunnies that I've finished in the past couple of weeks. Ready and waiting for a new home.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Product for Craft Fair

So I've been trying to come up with some other ideas for the upcoming trunk show in addition to my stuffed animals. I've gotten some great input from friends with a little more experience with these things that it would be good to have some less expensive items on the table. I came up with the idea of some children's building blocks. They are 1" wooden blocks decorated with vintage children's illustrations and recycled book jackets. One lesson learned - the modge podge that I used to adhere the paper remains a little bit tacky even after dried so I will need to put at least one layer of a clear acrylic over it. I'm trying to find an adhesive that will be sure to be non-toxic so that in the event that the blocks get put into little mouths, there's no worry.

I would love feedback from readers on the blocks. Do you think that I'm using too many images? I like the idea of two sides being larger images that can be used as a puzzle, but I'm not sure if having images on all the other sides is just too busy. What price point do you think that these would sell well at?

New design for KatyDidCrafts

My pal Toby has done me a huge favor and is helping me to create a brand logo and business cards. I've just uploaded a new banner for my etsy account. Isn't it cheerful? Plus the little girl is actually me - at least an illustrated copy of a photograph of me at 4 years old.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oddest of the Odd

Every year Bookseller magazine offers a prize to the oddest titled book for that year. You can currently vote for the Oddest of the Odd prize from the winners of 1978-2007. My vote is for 2002's "Living With Crazy Buttocks", but 2007's "If You Want Closure In Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs" made me laugh out loud from the reference desk.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Back on Etsy

I had let my Etsy account lapse a bit since the Oliver incident when he peed into my box of animals and I had to throw the whole back stock away. Sadly, Moss (the store downtown where I was selling) closed recently and so I've got my leftovers from there up on Etsy.

I've committed to doing a local craft show in September and so will be cranking in the next few weeks. I'm hoping to get enough made to have for the show and also to keep Etsy more current.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Frugal and Delicious

Last weekend I stopped by Polk's Farmers Market and found that they had nectarines on sale $.99/lb. They were perfectly ripe and that seemed so cheap compared to apples that are currently running over $2.50/lb at the local Kroger, that I picked up 6lbs. Knowing that I couldn't eat them all before they went bad, I figured that making some jam would be the way to go. (Thinking ahead for Christmas gifts.) After my jam-making practice in June, this went really quickly and easily. Here's the recipe that I developed:

Nectarine Jam
Cut up 6 nectarines - throw away the pit, but keep the skin on.
3 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp cinnamon

1. Bring to slow boil, the nectarines, sugar and lemon juice. Boil for about 30 minutes until you've reached jam consistency.*
2. Stir in spices (I just used what I had on hand that I thought would be good) and boil for another 5 minutes.
3. Take off heat. Skim off any foam. Puree if desired.
4. Decant into jars and preserve.
*An easy test for doneness - place a glass plate in the freezer while making the jam. Place a tbsp of jam on the plate and let it rest in the fridge for about 2 min. Test with your finger to check consistency. If not quite thick enough, keep boiling.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

While I'm on the finances kick...

I just read this article on Renting vs. Buying from one of my favorite blogs. It's actually making me feel much better about the fact that I'm nowhere near close to being a homeowner. I've always assumed that home ownership was sort of the holy grail of financial independence and have been working to get down our debt and save for a down payment. In light of recent events, mortgages are going to be much more difficult to get and it will likely take several years longer than I had hoped to be able to buy something. But I'm actually not feeling quite as bad about it now. I think that all things considered, we're probably where we should be at the moment.

Though I really would be happier to be renting a house where I don't have to share walls or a floor with another apartment. There's only so much Guns N'Roses that I can bear to hear coming up from the 1st floor rednecks.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Crafting Update

I actually have been very busy with some creative projects lately, but they are meant for gifts. Once I've given them over to the lucky(?) recipients, I'll post photos of what I've been up to.

To be Debt-Free

In my attempts to getting financially fit, I am happy to report that I've established some good habits (fingers crossed, knock on wood that I don't jinx myself). My Excel spreadsheet has been reworked so that it really is perfect for my bills and spending tracking. I'm not always 100% at filling in my incidental spending, but it's helped me to narrow down where my money is going. I've gotten on top of paying all my bills on time which has eliminated extra fees. I'm also much more conscious of bargain shopping. My downfall areas? Craft supplies and eating out.

My next step is to aggressively start paying down credit card debt. I found this good online debt payment calculator. It's a little bit scary how long it will take to pay it down, but at least I can start to calculate how much extra in there a month will make a difference.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Artsy Fartsy

I can't remember where I heard about this, but I am obsessed. Isabella Rossellini is so graceful and gorgeous, but seeing her dressed as bugs and having bug sex is just too amazing. These videos are actually very educational (I had no idea that snails were masochistic). I fear that I'm incredibly immature though because I really just like these videos because they are hilarious.

Check out Isabella Rossellini's Green Porno.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Summer evenings

So for the past month and half, I've been spending my evenings at the new dog park down the street from my house. The county is relandscaping the Mother Matilda Beasley Park on E. Broad Street and they've graciously included a fenced in dog area. It's fantastic. An added benefit is that I've been meeting a lot of neighbors and making some new pals. Here's a photo of Ahab enjoying the park last night. It took him a month, but he finally decided to try out the pool.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


A couple of weeks ago, I went strawberry picking with my pal Ashleigh outside Beaufort, S.C. at Dempsey Farms. I got a little carried away and came home with 10lbs of strawberries. So good but definitely more than I could eat before they would go bad. I figured that it was a good time to try making preserves and also figure out how to can. Making jam is the super easy part - it's essentially a cup of berries to a cup of sugar and some lemon juice, then boil it down for awhile til it's jam consistency. Learning to can wasn't really difficult, but it did require purchasing some supplies and jerry-rigging some things in my home kitchen. Here's a picture of all the jam that I made from that 10lbs of berries - plain ol' strawberry jam, strawberry/blackberry and strawberry/peach.

I've gotten so excited about the whole process that I decided to try out my nana's recipe for marmalade and made some grapefruit marmalade this past weekend. It's not quite as thick as I'd like but hopefully the pectin will set after a week. It's really really good though. I also included the recipe in case anyone else wanted to try it. Trying to decipher my nana's handwriting is challenging enough.