Sunday, September 30, 2007

To-Do List

Speaking of things I need to work on, here goes:

1. I'm making fabric scrolls for my friend Ren Adams of Plastic Pumpkin. Here's a cropping of a picture I stole from her blog that shows the end result. She does the painting that's mounted on the scrolls. She also chooses the fabric. I have about a dozen of those to do for her:

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2. This top from McCalls 4369. It's an Asian style sleeveless top. Mine will be made of a rust colored knit fabric (darker than it looks here):

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I'm making it to go with this impossible-to-match skirt that I designed and made of an orange brocade last year but have never worn:

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3. There's one more handbag, a padded laptop bag, I've cut out and want to make before I take a short break from bags (aside from custom orders):

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4. There's the really ugly PJ bottoms for Mark. He likes the really thin, soft jersey, but surprisingly a lot of it wasn't machine dry-able, but I did find a clearance one that has really ugly horizontal brown and gray stripes. I figure anything looks good compared to his current gray ones with bleach stains and almost no crotch left:

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5. PJs for me with a really cute white flannel with little pink paisleys:

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6. A skirt with this prosh nesting doll fabric:

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7. A full wrap dress with this most autumnyriffic cloth:

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8. A bunch of work on a business concept my mom and I are working on.

Keepin' busy, fo' sho'.

You can wear fleece and be cool, part II

A few posts back I talked about how warm yet nerdy fleece garments are, but how I found a cute pattern.

Here is my second jacket made from Simplicity 4032:

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It's the middle one, shown in teal here:

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Invitation to spaghetti and roaches

I've written posts about cockroaches in the past, but I believe they have now stooped to a new low.

Despite our sudden infestation earlier this summer, we haven't seen any for a long while. Tonight, we had another couple over to dinner. (That's a married human couple, not a couple of roaches.) I made spaghetti. It was sort of hot in the house, but not quite air-conditioner hot, so I opened one of the windows behind the sink. I never open that window. It does have a screen, mind you.

Fast forward a few hours and we're eating dinner at the table when I notice in my peripheral vision a roach scurrying up the wall right next to us. As I sic Mark on it, we notice three others in the same area. It was horrifying. Wait, just in case you don't fully understand: IT WAS HORRIFYING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have lived for 33 years and never once, not one single time has there been 4 roaches running around the wall next to the table while I was eating.
I have also only had people over to dinner a couple of times in my life.
So tell me WHAT ARE THE ODDS? Why, why God???!!!?

It was so embarrassing, but our friends were so nice about it. To make us feel better they shared all their horrible infestation problems with us, including a tale about a child of the earth, which was truly more horrible.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

In case you were wondering

Maybe you've broken an arm and are having trouble typing. There are lots of words that can be typed with just one hand, in the traditional proper typing form:

Left hand only:

Right hand only:

I found it much harder to find right-hand-only words, and actually I had a harder time typing them, which indicates I type faster with my left hand.

Another title for this post would be "Not working very hard at work."

Fleece: it's not just for frumps anymore

My office is cold. So cold. Miserably cold. It's just the time of year -- not hot, not cold, but the air conditioner is still going full blast. All the women are shivering. The men don't seem to notice.

On another tangent, fleece is so soft. Fleece is so warm. Fleece garments are so nerdy. When I think fleece, I think dorky, baggy pullover with teddy bear print. I see all the rows of fleece at the fabric store and wish there was a good use for it.

Back to the office: I have an old, old fleece button up jacket. It has no teddy bears, but it's sort of shapeless. I got cold enough at work that I had to put it over my more stylish sweater. I instantly felt warm and toasty. Fleece! It's so wonderfully warm, but still so nerdy.

Then I was looking through the pattern books at the fabric store and found a pattern with really cute fleece jackets.

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I made the one on the left in black. I made a few minor mistakes, but it came out pretty adorable. It's perfect this time of year with jeans. Actually, sometimes fleece is so warm that you can use it as a coat in the winter. It's lightweight, soft, warm and very easy to work with. It doesn't fray and you don't have to finish the edges.

Here's my jacket:

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Stylish and warm! Can my life get any better?

Next up is the middle one in white.

Feeling the burnout

I am going to speak honestly about my feelings. I've been running a business called Burst of Happiness, making handbags, totes and other bags. I love sewing and bags are a great thing to sell because everybody needs them and there are no size issues, like with clothes.

But lately, I'm struggling. The thing is that I work full time at a professional job and do this on the side. But there's so much more to it than sewing some bags. The Internet side of things is really time consuming. After I make an item, which takes a good 20-30 minutes just to cut out the fabrics and interfacing, another good 10 minutes to press and apply the interfacing, and a couple of hours to sew, I also have to photograph the item, transfer the photos to my computer, crop and resave to proper sizes for Then I have to go to my store and post the item for sale, which requires filling out numerous pages. Then I have to maintain my own Web site, where I have to do a separate page for each item, which requires different sized photos, which requires re-editing and placing copies into different folders. Then I have to update the main section pages, as well. I have to go to PayPal and make a "buy now" button. I have to upload all the pages.

On top of all that, there's the constant promoting. Getting business cards out there, participating in groups, finding places that do link exchanges to bring people in. Finding places you can consign your items to. Without promoting, nobody will find your store across the vast Internet.

I've also wasted some time and money on local, in-person shows where I sell nothing.

I've sold lots of stuff, but not enough stuff to necessarily make this all worth while. I told myself I'd do this as long as it was so much fun that I didn't miss my life. But lately I'm looking at all the things that never get done in my life. Some things I want or need to do include:
1. living in a clean home
2. all the extra little things beyond regular cleaning that never get done anymore.
3. running errands.
4. preparing food instead of always eating out, which obviously wastes a lot of money.
5. sewing garments for myself. Many projects are piling up.
6. taking more fashion design classes
7. practicing my fashion design skills. I have noticed you quickly lose it if you don't use it, at my basic level.
8. relaxing and not always feeling like I need to get to the sewing room.
9. baking, which I used to love to do.
10. work out

I could go on and on. The things is, when you take a break from the business, your sales plummet. Much of this is because when you post a new item, it goes "to the front" on etsy's lists, so you get noticed and visits to your store. If you don't put new items up, you may get lost in the thousands of storefronts on there.

Nevertheless, I think I'm going to focus on the holiday season and see what it brings me. After the holidays, I may take a break for a few months and focus on my life. I may make a few things here and there, and I'll be open for business, but I will mainly take a break from anything besides shipping sold items and custom orders. During this time, I may also take down my custom orders pages, thus not encouraging custom work, but rather pushing items that I have already made. I will still take custom work if someone requests it, I just won't be advertising it.

After a few months, I'll revisit the whole thing and whether it's something I miss. I love to make things, and only need so many items, so I can't imagine not needing an outlet to sell my things.

New stuff

A few new items for sale at Burst of Happiness:

Yoga mat bag:

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Fall totes:

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Regret the error

Remember when I said that BareMinerals makeup cleared my skin up into angelic perfection? Oops. I think what I meant to say was it caused the most horrific, constant, humongous, red, scabby, pussy acne known to mankind. My mistake.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

T-Shirt face, I need answers

There's this baby picture of me I've seen a thousand times. But I was just examining it closely and have some questions for my dad. You see, it appears to be a studio portrait. The background and lighting make me thing this. But then I started to wonder what I'm sitting on, and I realize it's legs. Somebody in jeans is laying on the floor and I'm sitting on them. I can see the top of the pants way over to the right and a touch of belly and yellow shirt. WHO IS THIS!?!? Why am I sitting on them? Why are they lying in my professional portrait? Does anyone else think this is odd?

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Someone just give me a bagel

A while back, I explained that I've given up bagels, for many health-related reasons. Breakfast used to be so easy. I never had to figure out what I was going to eat.

There's a hot cereal I used to like called Ralston. It was a wheat cereal that tasted good with sugar and milk, but I can't find it anywhere now. So I bought something called Wheatena. That's right, Wheatena. It sounds like some weird food name from the 1950s or something. Or a joke. Or, more accurately, as it turns out, something that tastes really bad.

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I have been a little afraid of the Wheatena since I bought it, but for some reason I got really sick to my stomach last night and was still a little queasy when I woke up. I figured, now's as good a time as any! Stomach can't feel worse.
So I cook it up. And I noticed, with some displeasure, that it looks a bit like boiling diarrhea.

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After about 5 minutes, I put it in my bowl. I'm extra scared now, because it smells weird. I can't describe the smell, but it smelled kind of burned from the very beginning, but not because I burned it.
Yep, I think this is going to need a LOT of sugar.

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As it turns out, all the sugar in the world ain't gonna make this taste good. It feels very gritty in my mouth and tastes like burnt, soggy, hot bread crumbs. Plain and simple, it's awful. Just awful. So I'm taking it to my grandma tonight.

Hate football, but not my husband

My husband plays fantasy football. His team is the Kosher Pigs. On draft night, I felt I should support the team in my Kosher Pigs shirt.

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Come "fall" for my new items! Ha ha!

I haven't been making lots and lots of stuff lately, but I have made these three items.

Tan and black plaid handbag with checked interior (this one is available, click on photo to visit my Web site. $45):
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Brown with colored flowers and white interior. I'm trying to convince myself that this is fall looking, but I think I'm wrong (this one is available, click on photo to visit my Web site. $45):
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And this was a custom order from a woman who found me in that Local IQ spread:
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And another custom order, modeled after a purse I sold earlier:
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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pooping my pants

Scariest. Animal. On. Earth. I can't even look at them.

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Time for a haiku.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Unspring cleaning

I never feel like I have enough kitchen cabinet space. That is, until I decide to take everything out of them and clean them. Today I thought that would be a grand idea -- I would clean out all the cabinets and drawers and the pantry and also sweep and mop! All this before work! Plus I'll run some errands! Oh, and plus I'll also style my hair for the first time in months (meaning no ponytail)!

I got through 4 cabinets and two drawers. And sort of tidied the pantry. I still have 7 more drawers and 8 more cabinets to go. And I have to get ready for work now. I don't think I have time to do my hair, either.

I think what makes it so time-consuming is living with a packrat. I had to lay out the 400 straws he's collected and the 100 matchbooks (in addition to the hundreds he's decided to store in the backyard fireplace for fear they will spontaneously combust) to show him that we don't need anymore straws or matches. No more, ever. His reason for the matchbooks is that one time a really long time ago, there was this friend of a friend who didn't like him. The friend of a friend's brother collected matchbooks. So Mark started getting them and then brought them to friend of a friend, who was so happy that he loved Mark after that. He no longer sees friend of a friend, though, so I'm not quite understanding.

I like to get rid of things. He doesn't. I am trying to figure out right now if I can get rid of the 2002 New Year's champagne flutes because:
a) I didn't meet him until later in the year 2002, so they aren't something we shared, so I suppose they should hold no sentimental value to him, right? Naturally.
b) There's simply not room in the cabinets
c) You look like an idiot handing out New Year's 2002 glasses for any occasion other than New Year's 2002, which I'm pretty sure won't be happening again.
d) We have had champagne exactly twice since we've known each other, other than our wedding, and we have three sets of really nice champagne flutes.

I can guarantee you that none of the reasons will convince Packy A. Rat, so usually what I have to do is put them in a box in the garage, wait a few years, and then toss them out after I'm sure he's never noticed they weren't around. And that is what it's like when someone who likes to get rid of unneeded things marries someone who likes to keep everything forever. It's hard. It's really hard.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Treasury time!

As discussed before on this blog, I sell on a site called People make "Treasuries" where they pick a theme and select people's items to be in it. I only have one knitted item, and I don't knit very well, so it surprised me!

Mine is on the right, third from top.

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If you need this fluffy, red scarf, visit Burst of Happiness!

Friday, September 7, 2007

It's kind of like I foretold the future

When I was young, one of our favorite pastimes was playing with the video camera. I once wrote, directed, produced and starred in a masterpiece called "The Poopy Murder." Long story short, a dog kills people with his feces. This may sound gross to you, but I cannot help it if I was born into the Vines family.

Recently, I was thinking about cat poop. Mainly because there is a lot of it when I clean the litter boxes. I scoop it into plastic grocery bags and throw it away. But it's always bothered me how those bags supposedly take 100 years to biodegrade. What does this mean for your cat doo-doo? It means it sits and petrifies for a century instead of, well, going away. I want it to just go away.

I envision this new film I may need to make called "The Poopy Mountain." It takes place in the future, where everything is grim and gray -- not the other future, where everyone wears robes and lives in ignorant bliss because the government has mastered mind control -- (some may say I watch too many sci-fi movies. I'm especially partial to ones from the 1970s. And, I might add, I look forward to the future where tight, uncomfortable clothes are a thing of the past. Imagine wearing a robe to work!).

In "The Poopy Mountain," everyone has been throwing their dog and cat feces away in plastic bags that have not biodegraded and mountains of this stuff are piling up. We have to live on the mountains of doo and we don't like it very much.

Soooooo, I looked for an alternative. I thought, "couldn't there be a biodegradable bag that will allow all this cat caca to go back to the earth and away from me?"

Lo and behold, there is. It's called Biobag and it composts quickly, but it does give you a chance to get the bag to the trash and have your garbage picked up. It's not that quick.

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My name is Robyn, and I'm a bagelholic

Today marks 7 days free of bagels. Let me explain: Every morning for 5.5 years I have had for breakfast a bagel with cream cheese and a coke. Before that, I lived in Bakersfield for a year and a half, and there was nowhere to get bagels except the grocery store, which is unacceptable. Before that, I ate a bagel every day for years.

I've lived in denial for some time that my breakfast habit could be making me put on a little weight. Every time there's a story about portion sizes, there's a big thing about how today's bagels are twice as big as a serving should be. I always thought they were jussssst right, but add some cream cheese and a soda, and maybe this isn't the most health conscious meal.

Problem number two is that I have heard they have a bad effect on blood sugar. Here's a blurb from USA "They're high in carbs and have a high glycemic index, meaning that they cause spikes in blood sugar that add weight, produce hunger and aggravate diabetes. Half a plain bagel increases blood sugar as much as a 2-ounce Snickers bar."

OK, OK. So I gave up the bagels. I'm having oatmeal or other hot cereal for breakfast, and a glass of milk. This is also good for small-boned me, who at age 31 started showing signs of weak bones.

But, body, I'll tell you one thing. I expect my butt to get much smaller very soon.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

San Diego: the beautiful city we always flee

We just got back from San Diego, where Mark's little brother lives and got married on Labor Day.

Funny thing about this city is that despite its beauty, we always seem to try to get out of there early. I can't figure out why, because we like it there. It was the last Cali stop of our honeymoon, and once we drove there from Palm Desert, we just decided a few hours later we were sick of traveling and wanted to go home. So we did.

This time, we wished we could leave right after the wedding instead of the next day.

It was sweltering hot -- an unusual 100 degrees in San Diego, so factor in the humidity and you could say the whale and otter water at Sea World was looking mighty refreshing. My favorite part of Sea World has nothing to do with water -- it's the show called Pets Rule. It's the cutest and funniest show, with little rescued cats and dogs joining with pigs, ducks and more to run around and do funny things. For instance, a cat will run out of a hole in the set, run into another, and then a dog will pop out and set off a new chain reaction. I like the part where a dog runs up to the "hot dog stand" and turns a crank. A door pops open and out runs a bunch of wiener dogs.
Here is a version I found on YouTube. It's hard to see and nothing like real life, but you get the picture:

It was miserably hot, though, and I got burned and dehydrated.

The first night, we went to see Mark's brother, Lance, in a play. He does theater for a living (and sometimes works at Sea World as a performer.) He works at Lamb's Theater on Coronado Island (er - it's a peninsula, contrary to what people call it, as we were told by a man when we asked directions. Thank you, kind sir, for the geography lessons, but we didn't name it that and we only wanted to know how to get there.) The play, "Susan and God," was really good. I mean, it was really, really good. I enjoyed it so much and it was very well done.

I kind of backed up there, but back to Sea World day: that night we went to have dinner nearby. We walked a ways along the water to a restaurant. It was packed; just the line to put your name in was 10 minutes long. Then it's a 30 minute wait for a table, but Mark wanted a patio table, so that was an hour. Now, what does patio mean to you? To us, it means outside. To them, it means encased in glass. So the actual outside area is called "outside." We failed to learn their special lingo, so when we were seated an hour later, we were in a stuffy, closed-in room. This really pissed Mark off. They did find us a better seat in that area, one that overlooked the water and had some air circulation.
Next on the list of annoyances was a lack of forks. When we finally got our food, we had nothing to eat it with for some time because they were so busy they ran out of forks. Mark's meal was good, but I had fish and it was bland. I felt sad because I had two fish dinners out there and expected to be wowed by the freshness and flavor, and both were awful. In the end, she took mine off the bill. But as we were wrapping things up, and we were one of 2 tables left in the area because it was so late, a gigantic rat when racing around the room. The other table had a shit fit, and Mark was grossed out a little, but me, I didn't seem to care. I know I should care, but I didn't. It was a patio, right on the water and has food. I suppose it's possible for vermin to sneak in from time to time.

Finally, Monday rolls around and we go to the wedding. It was a beautiful place -- held at the El Cortez -- and had a hosted bar. If you're from N.M., you'll see this as a beautiful thing. Cash bar weddings are pretty normal here. Since the bride and groom are both actors, and the people doing the readings were actors, it was pretty entertaining. It was sentimental, but also had us rolling on the floor and applauding quite a bit. Have you seen "The Princess Bride?" Well, the first thing the pastor said when the wedding started was, "Mawwage..." which cracked up the whole house for a long while.

Well, now we're home, and -- lucky me -- I have orders to work on! Toodles

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Pampering my eyes

You know that post below where I talk about how I'm saving the earth? Well, this is another part of it. I bought these adorable little makeup remover pads from an indie seller called Smidge.

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Her store says "All Things Cute." She can say that again. Some people apparently can just crochet something up like it's no big deal. I like these pads because:

a) they fit in with my recycling kick. I can reuse and wash them and not waste so much.

b) they don't leave a bunch of cotton all over my eyes and stuck in my eyelashes like those disposable pads.

c) they make me feel special, because not many people have them.