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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Exciting Shop Announcement - Fabric from DLD!

It's been awhile since we've chatted here. It's been a busy, crazy lightening fast summer - the exact opposite of what I was planning on. But I have an exciting announcement and I'm going to jump right in...

Is this thing on?

DLD will now be carrying fabric!
Bolts and bolts of lovely, gorgeous, want to make everything out of it fabric. 

Here are the boxes from the first shipment...

Peeking in... some lovelies from Joel Dewberry and Erin McMorris.

All lined up, ready to be drooled over...

And then I got to sit down with the rep from Free Spirit Fabric and pick more!
She was so sweet and patient, fully letting me have my happy dance moment and enduring all of my "I'm new at this and I don't know quite what I'm doing, but I'm having so much fun!" -ness. I look quite put together here, like I'm all serious and sophisticated. 

More Erin McMorris happiness!

And there's Tim Holtz and Tula Pink coming too!

So, what does this all mean? 

Well, starting tomorrow, Friday, August 28, fabric will be available for purchase at Great Pacific Frame Shoppe, 1004 Trenton Ave, in Point Pleasant. There is a section towards the back by the frame wall where all the fabric will live. You can see from the picture that in addition to frames and fabric, the shop also carries a large selection of amazing yarn, so really you should just come down and visit allllllll that. 

Also, over time, I will be adding in stock DLD items, sewn up in these exciting new fabrics. They will also be available as listings in the Etsy shop. Having a large selection of coordinating fabrics all on hand in one place will make turn around time quicker. 

Eventually, we will be adding fabric listings, to the Etsy shop, and bundles and kits as well so that those of you who are not local will have a chance to purchase them.

It's a big next step for our little company and I hope you come out to see us grow. I hope you love the fabrics as much as I do and look forward to what's to come. The most impressive thing about all this is that it's been several months in the making and I haven't spilled the beans until now. ;)

Have a great weekend!
:) allison

Saturday, June 13, 2015

We Bought a House

You're Stuck With Us New Jersey!

I wanted to write a few weeks ago about this, but life has been a bit busy. The short story is that after 18 months of living in a rental that we adore, and going through a several months' long process of getting a loan approval (word to the wise, take a deep breath applying for a home loan if you're self-employed) we are finally the proud owners of our first little home in NJ! Squeeee!

We are blessed to have found a house that fits our personality and family needs, has an acre of treed property, is next door to quite possibly the most lovely woman in America and best of all - I didn't have to pack one box to get us here because we were already here!

Let's talk about our neighbor for a bit. One small example. There are many. We went away last weekend to a wedding out of state and were gone one night. She very kindly watched Copper the Wonder Brat while we're gone. We ask her to let him out and throw some food in his bowl. But that is not enough, no. She made sure the bowls were scrubbed clean, and the mail was taken in. Copper had TWO walks while we were gone, and then we come home to this - a little housewarming gift and card, because she is the sweetest. You can't have her, people. She's ours. She makes us very happy.

Do you know what else makes us happy? Being able to finally be able to do stuff to OUR house! To hang things and put holes in walls and paint stuff!!!! I'm pretty sure we were at The Home Depot the very next day after we closed, to start our project list. And then yesterday, my husband comes into the house from the garage with the medicine cabinet.

Here it is, all hung, snug and happy next to the shower. I found it at a yard sale for $10 and had a friend paint it a barn red, put a coat of brown on top and then distress it so the red showed through.

Here's a closer peek at the red peeking through. At the bottom there, there's even a little water damage from where the rain got under the door in the garage during a storm, and I don't care. It's perfect.

Here's what used to be in that space. A very utilitarian, very temporary, very serviceable yet blah metal thingy (it's a French word that starts with an "e" and means toilet goer over and arounder. Now it's sitting in my husband's office and he'll use it for a bit. 

Well, that small act broke the seal and now we're in full blown happy homeowner mode. And so here's today's project. I wanted to transform the dead space above the washer and drier in our laundry room.

We used bullnose press board cut to size at the store and made our own brackets, cause why not? All we needed were some brackets, threaded pipe and joints. 

I got the original idea from a pin I had saved to my decorate board. The hubs screwed the bases into studs in the wall, then assembled the rest of the brackets. (He's cute, but doesn't like to be photographed!)

Then we just placed the boards on top. 

Heavy items go in the center where the studs are...

And now I'm actually happy to do laundry!

Can't wait to tackle what's next! I'll keep you posted. 

:) allison

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Tidying Up - Part 2

Clothes Donated
A few weeks back I told you all that I was starting the Great Purge of 2015 (please read that in the big booming announcer voice that I imagine in my head...dramatic pauses and all). You can read all about the start of things in this blog post here.

So it's update time...
We wound up donating 11 bags of clothes and shoes to the school! 11 bags of stuff just sitting in our house that we didn't wear, didn't fit or we didn't truly love. I suspect we could have filled a few more. What's exciting is that my husband got in on the plan too and finally went through some old tubs of things that he has been meaning to sort through I've been nagging him about for awhile.

A few of our 11 bags

My daughter has been able to keep her two spaces organized for 2 weeks. This is seriously more than amazing. I should take a picture of the rest of her room so that you have a basis of comparison, but I'd be too embarrassed for you to see it. Small victories here, people. 

Here is her closet after two weeks...

And her cubbies after two weeks...
We need to work on the new folding, but the fact that things are sorted according to type of clothing and you can still see what everything is is nothing short of incredible.

My son's was the last room I tackled and I folded his shirts like I had done mine, according to the KonMari method. We're only 2-3 days into the process for him, so no pats on the back for me here.
We'll see. If he can manage to keep this in order, it is proof that this woman is a genius and you should all run out and buy her book now. 

What I have learned these 2 weeks:
-I didn't love a lot of my wardrobe. I know that I mostly buy clothes as functional, body-covering pieces of fabric. That is a sad statement. I struggled mostly with getting rid of tired, sad-looking long sleeved t-shirts because I am always always always cold. But having a closet and drawers full of tired, sad-looking clothing makes for a tired and sad-looking person. So I gave myself permission to let go of those things (most of them were just tossed!) and to buy some new warm something or others when the time came next year. 

-I hold on to a lot of things because I think I might need them someday. But I get dressed everyday. So why do I want or need a closet full of things I might use someday and have to work around them everyday to get to the clothes I actually KNOW I do need. Silly...frustrating...time wasting...done. Those things went too.

-My kids actually like being able to find the clothes they love and to wear them. Genius! Instead of making them hold on to stuff I like and they don't (counter-productive) we kept the items they love to wear and donated the things they don't. And because of that, they were ok with the one or two items - a collared shirt for my son and a dress for my daughter - that they weren't crazy about but knew were necessary every once in a while to wear. 

The fabric cabinet is looking so much better too!!!! (one of the fabric cabinets. There are several. But now they are all filled with the fabric I truly love!)

The larger bins up top hold folded squares for the inner cash envelopes. The smaller bins are solid kona scraps for letters on cosmetic cases, and state silhouettes. The shelves below hold larger pieces of fabric, all arranged by color and ready to be used on all your orders!

And I have three rather large piles of fabric to send on to other homes. I'll be working on destash listings this week. There are bits of flannel, and corduroy and quilting cottons, and even some home decor stuff. I'll get them all sorted and arranged, and if you'd like to claim any - they will be available for a song! Well, mostly for shipping, but you get the idea.

Goals going forward:
1. Buy clothes that I actually, really truly love. Items that look good on me, fit properly, are made well and will last. They can still be practical and timeless so that they don't look ridiculous once a trend has passed, but well made items hold up better. They may be more expensive, but I'm going for quality over quantity from here on out. 

2. Learn how to make my favorite shirt. In The Purge, I came across a shirt that I absolutely love. And I've loved it to death. It has pulls and stains and it's just time to let go. And I'm sad. But guess what? I know how to sew!!! So, I am going to take apart my old shirt and learn how to duplicate it. And yes, I'll take you along for the ride, so more on that later.

3. Continue to look my clothes over honestly, and get rid of the things that don't spark joy. Life is too short. Let them go and give joy to someone else. There were lots of good things that we gave away. The hole-y, stained things we just tossed out, of course. But there were 11 bags of good pieces and they can now go on to spark joy for someone else. And that makes me happy too!

Next up - Books.
For this I am truly scared. We have more books than clothes. How do you get rid of BOOKS!!!! There are craft books and kids books, and teaching books, and course books from college - because everyone needs a copy of The Functional-Notional Approach, right? And magazines, and books I was supposed to read and haven't, and and and.....

But books is next on the list, and I've even cheated a little. There are 4 boxes of kid's picture books slated for giveaway already. We might be having the mother-lode yard sale here soon people!

I'm giving myself two weeks to go through all the books. And I'm telling you about that, so that I'll follow through. So, look for an update on that on Monday, May 18. Eeek!

Have you joined The Great (ate ate ate) Purge (urge urge urge) of 2015 (if-teen if-teen if-teen)? I'd love to hear about it!

:) allison

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Tidying Up

Welcome to the Great Purge of 2015

On a recent trip to Barnes and Noble, I came across this book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. While my kids spent a few minutes in the kids' section of the store, I started flipping through the pages and was kind of hooked.

I'm not going to lie. I'm a bit of a...mess. I don't intend to be. I don't like to be. I know that a straightened up home and work space is more conducive to a restful family life and productive career. But let's be honest - life is a moving target. And there are more days where we use our house as a place for clothing changes than anything else. We have two kids in elementary school with after school activities, a dog, and two full-time businesses that we run out of our home. Every working hour we spend working, and then the rest of the time is filled with meal prep, homework, sports and church events. Weekends come and we like to play, and often my husband is out of town on business. I look at our life, and then I read a book like this and I realize that the laundry list of excuses for our untidy home are just that, excuses. And unless I take some initiative to change that, I will be writing you in another few years and the story will be the same. You know how I know? Because I was talking about this very same thing in 2012 in this post.

So, back to Marie Kondo. She's kind of a genius. And don't let the soothing cover and quaint idea of "tidying up" fool you. In fact, given the chance I'd re-name the book Get Rid Of All the Stuff You Don't Absolutely Love to Make Room For the Stuff You Do. That might be a bit more accurate. And a bit scary. But possibly more liberating, I think.

I will admit, I was extremely skeptical. I have straightened up my house before. Organized. Purged. I have done the same to the sewing room. And every time, my work and home spaces have returned to their default stage of mess and clutter. I have tried. And I have failed. But Marie has claimed that her clients haven't. What was I doing wrong?

And then I remembered the little drawers upstairs in the sewing tower.

This is where I keep the linings for my cash envelopes. The top drawer has pre-cut pieces of interfacing and muslin for zipped pouches, and the lower drawer has larger pieces of muslin for the open envelopes. 

I "organized" this drawer months ago. Months. And it looks the same as the day I did it. No reverting back to clutter. It was so long ago, that I wasn't even on this quest yet, hadn't read this book yet and don't have a before picture. I just decided I needed a spot for some of my shop's most used supplies, cleared away everything that wasn't these three pieces, put them in and carried on. After every set of cash envelopes I make, I return these pieces to their assigned spot. They are there when I need them. If the drawer is empty, it means more pieces need to be cut. It's efficient, and professional and pleasing and stress-reducing. All of the things I hope to feel when working and living in my home. 

Can we call this my lightbulb moment, people?

Then along came Jen.

I have been working through this little book as well. It is the workbook companion to 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. (sidebar: both books are about minimizing and have really long titles...tee hee) I had read her book by the same title a few years ago and loved it! Jen's writing style is very simlar to my inner monologue, only WAY more funny. And she challenges herself, and therefore the reader, to consider 7 aspects of life where we as Americans definitely tend to be more gluttonous. This workbook version helps you take it one step forward, encouraging you to find ways to give up the more more more approach to life in these 7 different areas. We have a lot of stuff. Too much stuff. And a lot of that stuff is stuff I don't need, want, use or love, and most can certainly better serve someone who does.

Since a lot of the areas of both "Tidying" and "7" overlap, and because of the tiny but significant success of "the drawer" I have decided to go forth and conquer the rest of our house and my workspace. Eek!

Coincidentally, our kids' school is doing a clothing donation on May 1. I have a time-line, I have a desire and I have a category to tackle.

So, here we go, here is the plan:
Go through our clothes (and my fabric) and get rid of everything that I am not going to use.

- Things that don't fit
- Things that are stained/ruined/ripped (WHY do I still have this stuff?! But I do)
- Things that I am never going to wear, let's be honest
- Things that were given to me that I feel obligated to hold on to
- Same goes for my kids' stuff
- Same goes for my fabric stash.

Here are some pictures to keep me motivated.
A closet organizer "before" I started. You guys....there's yarn in there. With my clothes. And stuff piled on top, because there wasn't room in there and no more hangers available.

The same closet organizer today. With two empty bins because the shirts that were crammed in there are either gone, or I had enough room in my drawers to fold them in there. And you can see empty hangers ready for things that need to be hung.

My sock drawer before...
I know...
There aren't words.

My sock drawer after. I have a lot. I'm not going to apologize for the things I love. And I love my sock collection. So.... (Marie has a lot of helpful hints about folding. And an interesting dialogue with her possessions, I must say. Different - but interesting.)

T-shirts. I have a lot of them too. And yes, most are in support of NY area teams, if you need to look away. Go Rangers!

Today we worked on my daughter's room. Oh how I wish wish wish I had taken a before picture. Let's just say there was another bar below this one and you couldn't see the floor. Now, she can actually find an outfit and get it out without a crowbar.

And her cubbies. I don't know that an 8 year old will be as careful with the piles, but the fact that each square has clearance at the top makes me happy for today.

Fabric. One of the bookshelves-full. Folded carefully and organized. 

And a purge pile. Coming to a destash listing soon. 

I know I am actually working in the head space of "things I'm not going to use." And I need to move more into the idea of "things I don't love." I'm aware. I'm working on it. But this is a start. And I give myself until May 1 to truly purge all the things that I don't love, don't "spark joy" and aren't useful in the clothing/fabric department of my life. I am going to teach and help my kids to do the same, and I'm going to encourage my husband to jump in too. I'm hoping that the end result provides us with organized closets and fabric supplies,  a large stack of usable clothes and fabrics to people who may need/want/love them and the encouragement we need to tackle the next item on the list.

If anyone out there is reading either or both of these books and would like to chime in, I'd love to hear from you! I think it's encouraging to hear about what others are doing and the success they are having.

:) allison

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Product Review - Overnight Travel Bag

Carry-on/Overnight Travel Bag

I don't normally review my own products. It's a little tacky, I suppose, to get on here and boast about the merits of something I made myself. However, I also don't normally make things for myself. Seeing as how my shop is mostly custom cash envelope systems these days with the occasional special order, I tend to make and ship most of what I produce. 

But I had a vacation coming up and a desire to make a large, functional carry-on bag that zipped shut and had tons of pockets for all my little bits and pieces. Combine that with a trip to Stitch N Sew, a mecca for all things fabric, and here's what happened...an upholstery-weight, fully interfaced and lined bag that is cram full with pockets of all shapes and sizes and has a vinyl bottom to protect against stains and scuffing. I was smitten!

It became a part of a larger collection of DLD items that we brought with us on the trip. (Clockwise from left: my son's backpack, the travel bag, an oilcloth bag, cosmetic case, travel cord wrap and dog breed clutch)

Here is a peek of her on the inside, the night before our flight. The oilcloth bag and my wallet (also DLD) sit nestled in open interior pockets while the wristlet bag and cord wrap lay comfortably upon a bed of magazines, a sweatshirt, my iPad and other this and that.

This vinyl bottom made it! The bag was a full 8" deep, and the vinyl creeped up all 4 sides, about 2.5" high. This made for a very sturdy bottom that kept its shape regardless of how full the bag was and kept all the yuck from the plane floor off the fabric of my bag. The vinyl also provides water resistance and wipes clean with a damp cloth if needed.

While on vacation, I thought I'd mostly use my dog silhouette clutch, but there were some days when the larger bag was required! You can see my clutch tucked in there, as well as the oilcloth pouch, 3 sack lunches and 2 juice bottles. And there was room to spare to store sweatshirts for the three of us as the day warmed up.

So what would I change?
There were a few things I would do differently going forward. The most significant change would be to the straps. I used strips of fabric on the front panel to secure the center pocket and then a separate strap for the handles. I think I would change this to one continuous strap. Without the joint at the front/top seam, there isn't as much stress on the strap and more of the weight of the bag is more evenly distributed. Think I would also use a grommet there for extra strength. It would dress it up as well, with a little hardware. 

Secondly, I would make a removable shoulder strap. These grab handles were great when the bag was sitting on the floor or tucked under the chair in front of me or stacked on top of my rolling luggage. They were admittedly a little cumbersome when trying to carry the bag when it was super full - on the trip home we had some souvenirs! So I think a shoulder strap that had the option to detach is a smart and useful move.

Lastly, I'd leave off the exterior side pockets (the solid green you see on the side above the vinyl) they weren't very usable. The bag would benefit more from another center pocket like the one seen on the front panel here, just on the other side. This pocket was perfect for tucking my phone and wallet when I needed to pull them out a bunch in the airport, and before I stored them more securely inside. 

The response to this bag was so overwhelming, I was really blown away! I truly intended to just share it as a "hey...look what I'm making for myself" kind of thing, but the feedback I got was so positive I may just start offering them in the shop as a custom order option.  Thank you so much for your support!

:) allison

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Kid Wallet

The Story of the Kid Wallet
A few month back, my son designed a wallet for himself. You can see his little drawing in the picture below, along with his completed wallet. 

Recently, he has been looking for some ways to earn extra money. I decided to create a job for him in the shop so that he could work for the money while at the same time learn a little bit about what I do and what it means to run an Etsy shop. 

First we did a little redesign on the wallet, improving some areas he wanted to see changed.

Next he helped select some fabrics to put together, starting with boy wallets because, in his words, there just aren't enough things in my shop for boys. He's right. Smart kid.

Then I had him take some pictures for me for Instagram.

The kid loves computers. And probably knows more than I do about using them already. So I put him in charge of adding a picture at the end of our listings that explained the wallet and the donation he'd be making with the sale of each one. $5 from each wallet goes toward helping with flood relief in Malawi.

He helped me add the listings to our Etsy shop, and diligently checked the site several times the first day to see if he had any views or customer questions or sales. Very professional. Very business-like.

After the first day, he did indeed have his first sale! And so I showed him how to print the invoice, write a personal note to his customer, package the wallet and mail it off.

This weekend, we planned out a few girl wallets and posted those as well.

And he was excited to put his $5 in the offering box for Malawi at church today.

:) allison

Monday, February 9, 2015

Travel Cord Wrap Winner

And the winner is....
Yeah, the Grammy's were last night. But I'm much more excited to tell you that the winner of the Travel Cord Wrap giveaway is Christina F. Congrats to Christina, and one more thank you to Stephanie for the great idea!

Stay tuned!
Last week, I put together a few ready to ship versions of the Cord Wrap. I will be making a few more and putting up the listings later this week. The ready to ship ones will be $36.00. If you'd like to customize the listing, and have input on the fabrics and colors used, the cost will be $41.00.

Here are a few pictures of ready to ship ones that will be available in the shop later this week.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway! I hope you all have a great week!

:) allison