Sunday, November 15, 2009

Updates on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act

The other day I had a conversation with another dog owner at the dog park who was wondering what the current status was of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act since she also makes items for children. It got me thinking - I haven't been watching very closely as I haven't been very diligent about my own products what with the wedding and all.

But now that I'm kicking off the holiday season with an attempt to make up some goodies for sale (soon to be seen for sale at Fabrika Fine Fabrics in Savannah, Ga and Valley Flower Company in White River Junction, Vt and on my etsy site), I realized that I'd better get up to speed asap.

The short of it is that not very much has changed in the past few months. The legislation passed, but the implementation of it has been on hold. Major interests have been lobbying on behalf of thrift store, libraries and artisans to attempt to convince the Consumer Product Safety Commission to amend the legislation so that it will fairly address these industries. Libraries were successful and did receive notice that they would not need to test books in their collections. The thrift industry is hoping for the same.

Handicraft artisans are lobbying for an amendment which would exempt natural products (ex. untreated wood, natural fibers, beeswax, etc) from needing to be tested and also putting the onus on component suppliers to prove their items are non-toxic rather than on the artisan to test his/her end product. In the meantime, large toy manufacturers (to whom this legislation was directed) have set up their own testing facilities, certified by the federal government, and have begun to test products already.

For more information, here are some current articles:
The Hill, November 15, 2009
New York Times, October 30, 2009
Nancy Nord's blog - Consumer Product Safety Commissioner

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wedding Ceremony

Several of our friends and family who couldn't be at the wedding, asked if I'd be willing to post our ceremony on the blog. It makes me smile to re-read it as it was a perfect moment in our day. Despite having to change the venue somewhat last minute because of weather and having to cram everyone indoors, the ceremony was just what we wanted.

We wanted the feeling of a traditional ceremony, but we were clear that we wanted something secular and very personal. We wrote it ourselves using bits and pieces from a number of services that I found online (Union by Robert Fulgham, vows). (Patrick is a good friend and served as our officiant). In the hopes that this is useful to others searching for ceremony ideas, here goes...

Prelude & Procession - I walked in to Beach Boys Wouldn't it be nice and Ron and I walked up the aisle together.

Welcome & Opening - written by Patrick

Remembrances & Moment of Reflection

Patrick : Please take a few moments for silent reflection on the significance of marriage, the importance of this day in the lives of Ron & Kate, and to give thanks for those of us who are present and to honor the memory of those who are not with us today, but are here in spirit. [Allow about 30 seconds for silence]

Reading #1 Love Autumnal by Oliver Jenkins - read by Kate's brother

Statement of Community Support

Patrick : Family and friends, you have been invited here because you have shared and contributed to the lives of Kate and Ron in the past and by witnessing their marriage ceremony today, they ask you to share in their future.

The intimate, yet public, nature of this ceremony reminds us that we are social beings. Our identities, even our very existence, come about because our family and friends are the relationships that nurture and define us. So it is that marriage cannot exist in isolation from family, friends, community.

To all of you here, we ask you to nurture this union with your love and understanding. Do you promise to pledge your support to this new shared life? Will you promise to help them keep their hearts open and tender, full of forgiveness and compassion? Will you promise to keep them accountable to the promises that they make each other in front of you today? If so, please answer “We do”.

[Guests: We do.]

Reading #2 Excerpts from I Like You by Sandol Stoddard Warburg - read by R&K's friend Andrea

Exchange of Vows

Patrick: Ron and Kate - You have known each other for many years, through your first acquaintance to this moment of commitment. At some moment, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes to this moment of yes, you have been making promises and agreements in an informal way. All those conversations that were held riding in a car or over a meal or during long walks – all those sentences that began with “When we’re married” and continued with “I will” and “You will” and “We will” – those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. Just two people working out what they want, what they believe, what they hope for each other.

All these common things and more are the real process of a wedding. The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to each other, “You know all those things we’ve promised and hoped and dreamed? Well, I meant it, every word.”

Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another – acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. Now you shall say a few words that take you across the threshold of life and things will never quite be the same between you. For after these vows, you will say to the world, This – is my husband ; This – is my wife.

Are you free and ready to enter into full commitment of marriage?

Ron & Kate – We are.

Instead of traditional vows, Ron & Kate have opted to write one another letters to be opened and read out loud to one another, in front of all of these witnesses, for the first time now.
Ron read letter to Kate
Kate read letter to Ron

Patrick: Please each repeat after me in unison:

* I promise to turn to you when I am in need and to care for you when you need me.
* I will take strength from who you are, accept who you are not, and remind you who you want to be.
* I will try to remember, whether sunk in sorrow or distracted by the day-to-day, what I feel at this moment – my sense of good fortune and my sheer joy at being with you.
* Knowing that my family and friends surround me, knowing who I am and who I want to be – with this strength and certainty I say to you – I have only one life and it is only so long and I choose to spend it with you.

Ring Exchange

Patrick : May I have the rings, please? [take from Scott, best man]

These rings have no beginning and no ending, which symbolizes that the love between you will never cease. Placed on your fingers, it is a visible sign of the vows which have made you husband and wife.

Ron – take Kate’s ring and place it on her finger and repeat after me :
I give you this ring as a symbol of my commitment to you and our family.

Kate – take Ron’s ring and place it on his finger and repeat after me :
I give you this ring as a symbol of my commitment to you and our family.


Patrick :
By the power of your love and commitment, and the power vested in me by the state of Massachusetts (the best state in the union!), I now pronounce you husband and wife! You may kiss each other!


I present to you the happily married couple, Ron & Kate Wells.

TA DA!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Status Update : 11 days out

No new pictures to post. No new crafting projects happening. Mostly because my time has been taken with organizing. For the past month, I've spent my lunch hours running errands and making phone calls and my evenings trying to fit in conversations with future hubby and calls to family and friends as well as keeping up with regular life responsibilities. All in the hopes that this wedding will come off with as few hitches as possible.

We're 11 days away. Not long now. And everyone keeps asking if I'm excited. Yes, I am. I'm thrilled to be marrying my sweetheart and stoked to get to see my family and friends and psyched to feel the fall weather in Massachusetts. But I'm also really really tired.

Is it bad that in addition to everything else I'm looking forward to, I can't wait for our 17 hour drive up north because it's a day and half that I literally can not do any wedding planning?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Savannah Shower (and awesome craftacular project)

So my Savannah lady friends threw me a wedding shower last weekend. Can you ask for more than a potluck of delicious homemade dishes and crafting? I couldn't. It was perfect - no embarrassing drunken nights out wearing silly bridal gear - and time with my friends laughing and getting creative.

Brilliant idea, by the hosts Ashleigh and Nora, to custom decorate kitchen towels. Ashleigh sewed up some kitchen towels and then let us have at her studio and sewing machines. With loads of scrap fabric, embroidery thread and the ability to either sew or iron on, people got really creative and came up with some adorable ideas. They are so pretty that I don't want to get them dirty!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

CPSIA - an update

Awhile ago, I mentioned the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA)and how the bill was going to essentially put most small, handmade, children's products companies out of business (at least most of the folks on etsy) given the exorbitant cost of testing. Additionally, the bill was written so broadly that it was going to affect children's books and therefore libraries. At least it looks like, libraries have gotten a reprieve. I got an update from the American Libraries Association stating the following:

As the American Library Association (ALA) has emphasized since first
enactment of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA),
concern for children*s safety is our first priority in providing
materials to young patrons. On August 26, 2009, the CPSC*s final rule
on children*s products containing lead was released. In the rule,
CPSC confirmed that libraries have no independent obligation to test
library books for lead under the law. CPSC also announced its intention
to release a Statement of Policy specifically providing guidance for
libraries with regard to the treatment of older children*s books that
could potentially contain lead. According to our conversations with
CPSC officials, that Statement of Policy should be released within the
next several weeks.

While we await the Statement of Policy, ALA recommends that libraries
take the following actions. If a library is aware that any children*s
book does indeed contain lead above the legal limits or otherwise
presents a danger to children, it should remove it from public access,
for instance by moving it to the non-circulating collection. We would
also ask that if libraries do learn of any books containing lead to
please let the ALA * Washington Office know so that we might share
that information with other libraries. When the Statement of Policy is
released, we will promptly notify our members.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

DIY Wedding : Dinner Napkins

This is what I did all weekend. I sewed 82 dinner napkins for the wedding reception. After hearing that it was $.50/napkin to rent plain white ones from our caterer, I figured that it would be less expensive and more fun to have some homemade ones that gave more of a picnic vibe. The assortment of fabrics were collected over the past ten months. There's some vintage tablecloths and sheets in there, some yardage that I got on sale and a few that I just couldn't pass up. Overall I think that I only spent $30 on fabric and already had the thread. Overall - not the hugest savings really, but I still think that they will be a lot more festive on the tables than plain old white. Plus we can keep them and they are reusable!

The fabric stash was also the supply for the jam jar toppers for the favors and for the garland so hopefully it won't seem too haphazard when it's all set up.

Last weekend I also create a guest book out of a photo album kit that my Mom gave me several years ago so that was free. It's not posted because it's waiting for Ron to decorate the front of it with some hand-lettering first. I also made my bridal fascinator. I'm not going to post that though because I want to keep it a surprise til Ron sees me that morning.

And now with the napkins done, I'm officially done with all of my major DIY wedding projects. A few more small tidbits here and there but nothing major. I can't tell you how excited I am to work on something other than the wedding!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wedding DIY : Shrug Completed!

Once I realized that it was only two months until we leave to head up for the wedding, I got into high gear finishing off all my projects. I've been knitting so much in the past week that my fingers literally cramped up last night while I was binding off and Ron had to massage my knuckles! But it totally paid off and I finished my shrug. I LOVE IT! Thankfully it fits perfectly and even better...the color of the yarn matches my dress exactly. Here's a sneak peek of my wedding day outfit.

I could not have finished this without the help of the LionBrand Yarn Knitalong for this pattern which was hosted by the pattern's creator Stefanie Japel - whose personal blog is now on my regular reading list.

Wedding DIY : Flag Garland

I had a lot of extra fabric leftover after cutting napkins and favor tops so I decided to make some flag garlands to decorate the reception tent. For white and cream, I used an old sheet that had ripped and some very inexpensive muslin. I didn't want to have to sew anything and found that the range of fabrics didn't all take to glue in the same way. A friend (thanks Meghan!) suggested using brads - a standard office product usually used to attach papers. On the thicker fabrics, I had to create a small hole first for the brad whereas some of the lighter weight fabrics I could just poke them right though. (I found old tweezers did just the right job for creating a small hole.) I like that the brads look a bit like embroidery tacks.

I used 45' cotton cord and made 4 of them and have enough fabric left that I could maybe make one more. I'd been hoping to hang them out on the porch for the photo but it's been raining almost every evening for 3 weeks and I haven't been able to get outside much. I still think that they are really cheerful.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wedding Budget

Since I've been blogging about wedding plans a lot of late (two months out!) and haven't talked about my quest to get out of debt as much, I thought that it would be a good time to discuss the dreaded wedding budget.

When we first got engaged and started talking about the wedding, we set a budget of $5000. We thought - hey we'll do it at my parents house, it'll be an intimate gathering of loved ones and we'll DIY a lot. We can swing it. Well I'll tell you, sticking to that budget has been HARD. And we are forgoing a lot of traditional elements and DIY'ing a lot.

We've basically doubled the budget. Still far under the average American wedding ($30,000!!!), but way more than I wanted to spend. The main reason is that when we first created the budget, we had absolutely no idea how much things cost. We could have decided to cut way back or do something totally different, but we decided that we were willing to go over budget in order to have the wedding we envisioned - with the caveat that we would get really creative with all of our options.

Our music will be performed by friends or through ipod ; our photography will be mainly done by friends as well. We made our invitations. I will spend a total of $300 on my entire wedding day outfit and hair/makeup. We're making all the decorations and using locally farmed flowers and pumpkins. Our wedding night hotel and mini-moon are being gifted to us.

I've been looking over the budget spreadsheet that I created and I see a few major areas where I way under-budgeted : travel, alcohol, party rentals, food, and miscellaneous.

Travel We didn't anticipate renting a car to drive home, but I don't trust my car to make another drive there and back as it's just too old. That's almost $1000.
Drinks Once I started calculating how much we'd need for drinks (beer, wine, cider, soda, water), I realized that it'll likely be $300 more than I thought.
Rentals Originally I didn't want a tent at all, but since it's autumn in New England and the weather could be unpredictable I was convinced by family that it was necessary. We've booked sides for the tent and heaters. In the event, that its great weather we could end up canceling the extras which would save us some money, but overall it's still another $750 that I didn't originally count.
Food I did some shopping around and found really great caterers that were willing to work with us on price and around our constraints (locally & seasonally harvested, willingness to incorporate vegan options). I'm thrilled with our menu and our vendors, but even with negotiating, it is more than we thought it would be by about $800.
Miscellany The small little crap just adds up before you know it. Shipping costs for anything you order (clothing, stamps, paper, thank you gifts, and on and on). Ingredients that you run out of at the last minute while making favors. Last minute projects.

Overall, I'm still really happy and proud that we are able to maintain our major goal for this wedding - we are not going into debt over it. Anything we've spent so far (~$3100) has all been up front and in cash. We've got money socked away to pay the balances and family has been very generous with some gifting. Friends have stepped up to help us out as their gift. We've made some decisions to cut certain things and add others - all while staying conscious of the impact on our finances. It's the consciousness of our spending that I'm really most proud of - we're planning something that is genuine and sincere and fun and on our terms.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

DIY Wedding Invitations : Final Package

We finally got our invitations done and sent out last week. It was a multi-step process. Ron and I worked out our aesthetic for it a couple of months ago, worked out all the text and then he went to town on designing. I'm glad that he pretty much knew what he was doing because with our multiple fonts and a lot of illustrations and clip art, it was a lot of work. We did use a few free clipart downloads from a great DIY wedding blog. Even if you're not doing a wedding, this site has awesome font and design ideas and freebies.

As you'd expect from Old Timey Ron, we wanted our invitations to look like 18th century handbills. I think that he did a great job at pulling it off.

We got our printing done at Kinkos and they were great about cutting down the paper to our custom sizes after printing. Then we just folded and affixed into our envelopes. On the front of the envelopes, we affixed paper cut outs of maples leaves for the addresses. I absolutely love the Love stamps this year and was psyched that they matched our colors and aesthetic so well. Lastly, to close the envelopes we used a wax seal in a bronze wax. (no picture)

All told, I think that the entire invitations packages including postage cost about $4.50/piece. Seeing as that's less than even some pre-made envelopes cost, I think that we did amazingly well.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Napkin Rings

I added another project to the wedding list. I am still in process of sewing up napkins, but was realizing that it might be nice to have some napkin rings when they are set on the table. We have a lot of the heavy cover weight paper left from making the envelopes for our invitations and I did a quick google for paper napkin rings. Of course, Martha Stewart had the perfect maple leaf template to use. Since our napkins will all be mismatched fabric, I think that using these napkin rings, all in the chocolate brown, will be a nice way to tie everything together on the tables.

(Luckily, this project actually goes pretty quickly and isn't going to feel never-ending like most of the others I've taken on.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

DIY Wedding Invitations : How to make an Envelope

In the interest of cost-savings and personalization, we decided to make our own wedding invitations. If money were no object, I would have loved to have letterpress but alas we have a budget. So we figured that we'd design and make our own so that at least if we weren't splurging on the printing, we'd splurge on the attention we spent on them.

Here's a tutorial on how to make your own envelopes. We ordered paper from French's and got a cover weight in a large size so that we could cut it down.

First you make a template for the envelope. This is probably the most time consuming part because you want to make several trials and mock-ups to ensure that it folds correctly and is the size you want. Once you have a final template, you trace it onto the paper.
Next you cut it out. I highly recommend using a straight edge and exacto knife instead of scissors. It makes for much cleaner lines and corners.
Now score where your fold lines will be. This is especially important on a heavier weight paper so that you get a nice clean line. I used a bone folder.
Use the flat edge of the bone folder to help you get a nice sharp crease when you fold over the edges. Fold all the edges and then glue any pieces that you need to.

Here's our completed envelope. The right side has a pocket. The middle includes the side flaps and over on the left edge is the outside flap for closure.
And here are some completed and folded-up envelopes. I made 50 so that there were extra in the event of mistakes. It probably took me about 3 evenings to work on them. It's relatively time consuming with all the tracing, cutting & folding. But the major benefit is that all it cost us was the paper (~$25) and some new exacto blades. Per piece, it's far less expensive than ordering pre-made ones and we were able to completely customize it for ourselves.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Camera Bag

To help care for my new camera, I made myself a camera bag. It's really basic - felt lined with cotton and hand-sewn with embroidery thread. I added a button and there's a hole in top for the camera strap to fit through should I want to carry it that way. Just a little basic project but a good way to use up some scraps.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

berries to jam

On 4th of July, I went blueberry picking with my friend Sally to Brewer's Farm in Midway, Georgia. It was so quiet and peaceful that it made me really homesick for my grandmother's place in Vermont where we could go out into the old orchard to pick blackberries. That bucket is 5 quarts of berries for only $7.50!

In any case, I took advantage of the slightly cooler weather last night to make up a batch of Peach-Blueberry Jam. Here's the recipe:

2 quarts fresh sliced peaches
1 quart fresh blueberries
6 cups white sugar
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
*Boil it all down until it reaches jam consistency. (check consistency by placing a spoonful of jam onto a plate and putting in the freezer for a few minutes - if it's the right consistency when you take it out, you're ready; if not, keep boiling.) Spoon off the froth. Put into jars, follow the canning process and voila! Preserved jam! This recipe made exactly 5 pints.

These will be in the mix with the rest of the jams for our wedding favors.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Creating a New Pattern

I got a request for a custom teddy bear and I've been trying to work out a pattern from scratch. The first two photos are my initial attempts and then I made up a final version out of attempt #2. I think though that the longer I look at them, I like #1 a bit better. I like his longer legs and that he's a little bit slimmer. The other guy is a little too fat and stubby, but I do like that his face comes to a point at the nose so I might try to work that into the other design.

Thus far, this is the most complicated pattern I've tried to create. It's so much easier when you do an animal that is recognizeable just from it's profile. I'm not sure yet that it's worth the effort.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Update on Wedding Shrug

Here's an update on my knitting for the shrug that I plan on wearing for the wedding. Thank god for LionBrand Yarn's current knitalong of this project! I decided to veer away from the original pattern and not do the stripes across the back and sleeves so it's just a straight knit/purl with a seed stitch detail on the edges of the sleeves to match the seed stitch that will be on the collar. Still need to finish the left sleeve before I pick up the whole round to do the rest of the back and the collar.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

New Camera!

Oh so happy. After several weeks research, we got me a new digital camera and it came in on Friday. An early birthday present for me and much needed as sharing a camera was not working well for either of us. I did some research on Consumer Reports and PCWorld and some online review sites and decided on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX55. It consistently got great reviews for the compact digitals in the price range that I wanted. It came really fast through the mail and I've been playing with it since. Now we just need to get me a new lappie so that I don't need to wait until Ron's done with his to download the photos!

Too long

Oh it's been too long since I posted anything. One might think that I hadn't been doing anything, but in fact I've been quite busy. I've been crafting - knitting the wedding shrug, made a new stuffed animal pattern & made a mock-up and sold a custom order, been berry picking and made several batches of jam. I just got my own digital camera so no more sharing one camera between both Ron and I. That means that I should be able to post more photos more frequently.

In the meantime, I'll let you know that while sitting at the reference desk for a Sunday afternoon shift I just finished reading "The Collected Works of T.S. Spivet" by Reif Larson and it was absolutely fantastic. It was so good that I think that I'll buy my own personal copy so that I can read it again and mark it up. Highly recommended.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

CBS Radio - The Librarian

From 1938-1940 CBS Radio ran a program called "Americans at Work." A radio script for "The Librarian" segment from circa 1939 proves that we've always been attempted to combat the stereotypical image of the old maid.

It's fascinating that some of the aspects of the job remain exactly the same - problematic patrons, the need for subject experts, the frustrating fact that it's mostly men in management positions, limited funds for acquisitions, scheduling. Technology and training may change, but fundamentally the same skills are required of the job.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Custom Order

So after my Etsy account laying dormant for the past several months with very few new listings and even fewer orders, I got an order for a custom alphabet garland. Finished it up this weekend and mailing it out today. It's got me reinvigorated to make a few more new items.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bouquet Trial

I got to spend an afternoon with my Mom and sister (also the Matron of Honor) trying to see how difficult it is to make my own bouquets and boutinieres for the wedding. I'm planning on getting local flowers that are in season the week of the wedding at a nearby organic farm.

We picked up a number of flowers from the local market. They aren't what will be in season in the fall, but I just wanted to get a sense of how hard it is to make a bouquet and tie it with ribbon. It's not that it's too hard really, but it was somewhat time-consuming. The boutinieres were actually really easy and those I can definitely plan on making up for the men. My sister is of the opinion that if I'm already making the table arrangements, it would be far easier to just have the bouquets professionally done. There's something to that, but I do like the idea of working on it with some family members and having the memories of that.

Cake Tasting

Two weeks ago we went home for a wedding planning trip and had a number of tastings at caterers and bakers. We had planned on trying to take pictures of all the food as it came out, but we dug in so fast that this is all we got a photo of! Needless to say, it was awesome. We'll definitely be using this baker.

Planned dessert buffet menu: Red Velvet Cake with cream cheese frosting, Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting, Chocolate Espresso Vegan Cupcakes, Apple Cranberry Pie, Honey Pumpkin Pie, Vegan Fruit Crumble, Apple Cider Donuts.


Friday, April 17, 2009

New knitting project

I still haven't finished Big Green - the cabled cardigan that I started last fall. I got frustrated redoing a sleeve about three times and set it aside for a bit.

In the meantime, I've just picked up the yarn to start a new project. I'm working on a shrug that I'm hoping to wear at my wedding in case it's a bit chilly. The pattern is from GlamKnits by Stefanie Japel and I'm working with a Debbie Bliss cotton yarn.

Fabrika in Savannah

One of my most favorite people has recently become the co-owner of Fabrika, a fabric and notions store in Savannah. Since taking over the store, in just a few weeks it's really popped. A couple of layers of new paint and some organizing and it feels like a totally new place. And how can you not want to shop in it when you see my little birdies in the window flying over some tubs of vintage buttons?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Getting down to accessories

I've picked up this cute necklace to wear for the wedding. I think that it will be a cute play on the whole autumn picnic idea. And I feel really pleased that I bought it from a fellow crafter off etsy.