Friday, January 29, 2016

Getting organized ~ Clearing the cobwebs!

I feel like today I am doing a mental spring cleaning. I don't know what the deal was with this January but it was not the restorative fresh start I was hoping for. And I know I am not the only one I have had friends post of FB about feeling writers or artists block. And one of my fav gals wrote this post "Just One Thing" all about it. Her new goal is to get "one thing" done each day.

Yesterday I took her up on the challenge and got two things done. One load of laundry and went through some bins of fabric she had given me. 

All too often I agree to do something without looking at my schedule. And it bites me in the butt sometimes. Because I do not have a traditional job I fall in to the trap of thinking I don't have that much going on. Which is completely untrue. I just do not have set hours to do all the stuff I am doing. 

This idea of where does my time go? has been gnawing at me all month. A couple weeks ago I did some research on how other people who do not have traditional 9-5 sort of lives keep themselves organized. I found lots of good advise and ordered two new notebooks that I am hoping will help me get my act together and not loose track of all the things I need (and want) to be doing. They have both arrived and I have spent a chunk of my day clearing out the mental cobwebs and writing it all down.  

The first is called a Planner Pad and it is a daily planner / list / to do / goals etc. My computer calendar is great for appointments and big blocks of time, but I was having a hard time tracking on-going projects and ideas. The hope is that this will help me be more focused on the things I am working on. There are all sorts of pics online for how people are using the Planner Pad as a tool to stay organized and focused. I bought the "start anytime" version. It is un-dated so that you can pick when you start and write in what works for you. I am officially starting 2/1/16 aka Monday. I have already filled in all the big ideas and appointments I know about as well as travel plans for my husband and family. For me the act of writing things down helps me remember it more. Also when I am on the computer I get sucked in by email and such and get distracted from my tasks. I want to have less screen time and more time doing things IRL. 

Blank Page for any type of project.
The second notebook is 110 Creations, a Sewist's Notebook. This one is specifically for tracking sewing project ideas. And it is flipping brilliant. If you buy it, read the "how to use this book" page. It tells you about all the features and how she set it up to help you succeed. You write down all your project info / ideas. And you can use it as a to-do or wish list or actual log of projects you are working on or need to do. I start sewing project notebooks all the time. But then I start writing grocery lists and to-do lists in them and it all goes awry. There are sections for apparel, mens, and any sort of sewing. There is a master list so you can make an index of your projects and a pattern inventory so you can take this with you when shopping and not re-buy stuff.

I have been kicking around a bunch of projects and this creates a place for me to put them all down. I have already written in eight projects that I want to get going on. 

Women's apparel page.  

In this same organizing vein I found some ideas for organizing patterns and supplies that I am going to implement. 

My studio is actually fairly organized but it is small so I really have to stay on top of it. And I have to be willing to part with things from time to time. 

If I don't put things back where they belong I do not have the space I need to work. 

All this makes me feel much better. But it is like Weight Watchers or keeping a budget (both of which I do) it only works if you do it. Since I know that writing things down, taking time to plan and reflect are things that make me feel good and lead to being more successful with my goals I am pretty certain these new habits will stick. 

I did not make any specific New Year's resolutions this year. Which is odd because I usually do. But it appears some new habits have found their way to me. Maybe this way will be more successful than a typical resolution. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

SF Trip Day 4 (part 2) & Day 5

Yesterday (aka Day 4) I really hit my groove. I am comfortable traveling solo, I have figured out how to get around and the weather was amazing.

I headed to Mama's for breakfast. I had read reviews and knew they were notorious for having a line. I got there at 8:25 on a Tuesday morning in January and yes there was a line. But I was in the door and had ordered by 8:55, waited a bit more for a table. But it was worth it. 

The food was good and it was a SF experience that was not just touristy. Locals wait in the line too. I got the bay shrimp omelet, with potatoes and sour dough baguette. The potatoes were just ok, the rest was delicious and worth the wait. I was surprised by the number of people dining alone. It was comforting in an odd way. 

You stand in line watching them make all the food. They make french toast out of all these breads. You can get a sampler platter of all the flavors, if you are in the mood for a sweet breakfast this place would be heaven. 

After that I walked back up the hill through China town. It was early, not a lot was open. But the one lady who was open and was nice to me suckered me in. I bought some little jade bracelets from her for M. I realized I forgot my fit bit so I walked to the hotel for a pit stop and to grab my fit bit. Then I walked down the other side of Nob Hill to catch the bus to the Mission. 

Before heading to Betabrand for my meeting (see part 1). I hit up the Fabric Outlet. At first I was not so sure. If this was my neighborhood fabric store I would be happy. They had a little bit of everything. LOTS of spandex and costume stuff which is fun. They have some upholstery, loads of vinyl, quilting cotton, t-shirt knit and more. Along with a good selection of notions.

But it was nothing special, nothing I could not get at home. Until I found my kryptonite. Funky cotton Lawns.

I normally pass on birds, but look at them and their little tree's. The colors are perfect. This is begging to become an Esme Top or a Washi Top.

Blue and purple is my jam! I could not leave this one behind. I know there is already a lot of tie dye in my wardrobe but I am who I am. 

Hello summer pants of 2016! 

After fabric shopping I went over to Betabrand (see part 1). After my Betabrand meeting I shopped my way to the transit station. I finally found a new purse, I have been searching for the right one. And a little gift the the hubby. Cute boutiques on Valencia. 

New Purse! 
I decided to take the BART (subway) back because I knew it would be fast and it was. I treated myself to another cable car ride up to the top and took a break. For dinner I went back to Chinatown and got some dim sum. Can't beat dinner for $4.90! 

This morning I went and got the last fancy breakfast of my trip. I went to Mymy on California Street. Coffee was great, food was decent, staff super nice. It was a good last breakfast. I bought road trip snack at Trader Joe's, rode the trolley up and over the hill and then back up again. I have since been enjoying the luxury and amazing view of my hotel room. 

San Francisco is beautiful and fascinating. It changes from block to block. There is every type of person you could imagine. I have spent a lot of time people watching, wondering what their lives are like. Especially walking in the morning, seeing people coming out of their buildings. Makes you want to know what it looks like inside.

One noticeable problem that SF has is a huge homeless population. And I was reading an article that pointed out that January is a lean month for the homeless. It is cold and people are not as generous as they were during the holidays. Some homeless people I encountered seemed pretty desperate. It is sad and frustrating and I never know what to do for them. I'll admit I gave the nicer ones a couple of bucks. It's always all about presentation. Smile and say hi is a better way to people's hearts.

San Francisco will always have a little piece of my heart. I am super grateful to Betabrand for this experience. It was AMAZING to get a fancy breakfast made for me so many days in a row! And to walk around as much as I wanted and enjoy all the great views and fresh air. However I am missing my peeps and ready to head home. I am ready for school pick up, and stinky neighbor kids invading my house. But most of all I am ready to see E & M, because where ever they are is home to me.

Take one last look at the great view with me. I packing up and heading to the airport.

Peace Out!
- C

SF Trip - Day 4 (part 1 - Betabrand)

Yesterday was quite a day. I did so many things I think I shall break it up into two parts.
"Betabrand" (part 1) and 
"Vacation-y Stuff" (part 2).

How I ended up on this trip to San Francisco? I entered a design contest that Betabrand was having. But I really need to back up and tell you more. In July I was on a train in Scotland, we were going by fields with sheep. As we were passing said sheep, I wondered, what do they do with the wool from the black sheep? Husband and I had witty banter about the possibilities. 

Sometime later I googled "black sheep wool sweater".  The first thing that comes up is the Betabrand website selling their black sheep wool sweaters. So I promptly bought one. Sometime later I further checked out their website and realized I could submit design ideas to them. I submitted my shirt idea, and the timing was right for it to be part of a contest they were having. I got the most votes, won the contest and got the choice of coming to SF or going to Ice Land. Since I was doing this trip solo, I chose SF. 

Back to yesterday...Betabrand is out in the Mission (in Atlanta terms think Buford Highway). So a bit far and a bit of a weird-ish neighborhood. I took the bus out there so I could see what there is to see between Nob Hill and The Mission. Well turns out not much, but was only about a half hour bus ride so no big loss. 

I was early so I did some shopping (see part 2). Then headed to meet Liz for lunch. 

When I arrived at the Betabrand HQ I realized that it is a shop / office / workshop / sewing studio / creative space all rolled into one. It is a really cool space and I think it would be totally fun to work there. All the people I met that work there did seem pretty happy and friendly. 

Hey Liz, up there in your cute office nook!
This picture is a little blurry and dark, but that is Liz working at her desk on the 2nd floor loft above the store. 

She says she stands all day up there on here perch. It seems cool but I would be distracted, I guess you can get used to anything. 

Liz took me out to lunch at a cool Mexican place and since I am technically on vacation I had a margarita, a veggie taco and sweet plantains. It was delicious and Liz was great to talk to. We talked a little business but spent most of lunch getting to know each other. 

After lunch she showed me around the offices and introduced me to everyone. As I said all super nice. But all really busy and actually working. California is supposed to be laid back, but I think we southerners have them beat. I have never been in an office in Atlanta with so many people actually working. 

Super cute Betabrand store.
I captured Sasquatch. Not sure why they have this photo "experience" but it is funny.
Mural on wall outside of store.
I met with the people who are going to take product pictures and design the website page for my shirt. They asked me all sorts of questions and sadly I had no answers for them. Where would someone wear your shirt? Well.... anywhere really. I just wanted to make a shirt that fit people. We did come up with some scenarios and I am going to think on it some more. But I was not much help. I am afraid I am a wee bit too old to be a hipster. And Betabrand is squarely in the hipster category. 

Prototype is not ready but they are working towards crowd-funding (aka pre-orders) being up and running in February. All you peeps who voted for me better spread the word to your friends and buy up some shirts! 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

SF Day 3

This morning I wandered around lost. And I learned that there is the SF Muni subway. And the BART subway and the fare cards do not mix. Sadly I learned this the hard way and the BART guy was not terribly nice about it.

Whenever I am in a city that I like, I walk around wondering what it would be like to live there. Which always makes me remember that I used to day dream about living in my current house. It used to feel completely unattainable, so it is also a good reminder that anything can happen. I spent my first two days here wondering what it would be like to live here. Today with the MUNI / BART confusion it made it more real and less glamourous. I still think I could live here. But M & E would have to come because where ever they are is home. (I miss them!)

Due to lack of planning on my part, I had a mediocre breakfast, before I went and got lost (more poor planning). BUT it was BEAUTIFUL weather today. It was sunny and warm and amazing. So I decided to scrap my original no plans plan and head down towards the water.

I plunked down another $7 to ride the cable car over to Fisherman's Warf. I know it is touristy and sort of crappy and not the "real" San Francisco. But it was a great cable car ride down there. I ended up hanging off the side, and talking to a couple of guys from Detroit the whole ride. They are in town for the Super Bowl, which is in SF next weekend.

The Cable Car driver was super nice and was great about announcing stops, telling us where we were going and how to ride. Also yelling at crappy drivers. Just in case you did not know, passing a stopped cable car is like passing a stopped school bus. It is a No NO and you get a huge fine if police catch you doing it. He told me a sad story about a conductor that got hit and killed by a car passing the cable car. So sad! But good information. Now I know how to ride safely and if I ever drive in this crazy city I will obey that rule!

When we got down to Fisherman's Wharf I took a picture of our kind driver. He took a picture of me for me. Which is nice, when you travel alone you don't always manage to get pictures of yourself.

I lived out in the Dublin / Pleasanton area for a few years when I was a kid. And we would go into the city on weekends or when we had guests in town. I remember going to Fisherman's Wharf when I was little. It was different than it is now. There was no Apple Bee's or In & Out Burger.

The old part of Fisherman's Wharf is still there. A row of weird old restaurants that have weird cups of calamari for sale and one old weird souvenir shop. When I was little, I thought it was perfectly normal to walk around with a cup of squid and a tiny fork. I did not know how weird and at times wonderful my childhood was until I saw the more "normal" rest of the country.

I ate some lunch at Boudin's which was just ok. I could not get clam chowder in a bread bowl which was my favorite thing to get there as a kid. I am lactose intolerant and didn't want to risk it. Their crab cake sandwich was just ok. But the boudin's that is there now is about 10 times the size of the one that used to be there. It is sort of fascinating. The Ripley's Believe or Not has been there as long as I can remember. We LOVED going there. Lizzy Bordin was our favorite display. I decided agaist exploring that one, better save it for when I bring M. But they also have a Madame Tussaud's and a SF Dungeon. Did not partake in those either.

Then I wandered around and went in the Musee Mecanique which is basically a video game museum. But they have really, really old stuff along with Pac Man and such. I am not sure when this place opened but it is super cool. I have no idea how they afford to stay there and there is no admission to go in.

I am not sure who thought Opium Den was a fun game?!?

Or execution?

Or the super creepy Laughing Sal! You put in $.50 and she laughs and rocks back and forth. I am sure there is a You Tube of it somewhere if you are interested. So weird! But admission is free and it is pretty fascinating what used to pass for amusement. When Eric and I where in SF on our honeymoon (11.5 years ago) we went here. And I am pretty sure when we bring Marion here this summer we will go here. It is one of the few things I like at Fisherman's Wharf. 

This is the view of the city from Hyde Street Pier. 

Those are the boats at Hyde Street  Pier. 

The Golden Gate bridge is off in the distance. You cannot see it but there were people swimming in the bay. It was warm. And by warm I mean I was walking around in jeans, boots and a sweater and was comfortable. Which for SF is pretty stinking warm. But I was not about to jump in the bay and go for a swim. Crazy!

I took the cable car back to the top of the hill. It really is just a fun way to get around. However this time the driver was not chatty. It was a very efficient ride up Nob Hill. 

I took a shower and a rest and then I took myself out to dinner. I want to Amelie, a little wine bar on Polk Street. I walked down there which was good. I needed to keep moving. All this walking up and down hills, my legs are killing me!!!(over 17,000 steps today)

I had a lovely salad and flat bread with a glass of wine. I wimped out and took the bus back most of the way up the hill. I swear that bus driver was crazy. She was in a hurry or something. It is a steep hill. There is just no easy way to get up it.  

Salad in a jar. Weird presentation. Tasty Salad.

I have plans for tomorrow that include breakfast! Lunch and a meeting with peeps at Betabrand! And hopefully not getting too lost.

Monday, January 25, 2016

SF trip Day 2

Since I got so much sleep (read Day 1) I was feeling like getting up and going early on Sunday morning. When searching for place to eat in San Francisco I wandered across another traveler's blog and found this little gem of a brunch place, Rose's Cafe.

It was not super close to my hotel. Google maps said it would be a 37 minute walk. It was closer to 50 minutes but that may be because there was lots of hills involved and I am in what I will call medium decent shape. I was able to keep going but someone in better shape may have gotten there faster. Add to that the fact that I have the end of a cold, I am impressed my lungs did not explode. But I was sweaty when I got there. Not taking my coat with me today. Layers! Layers is the key.

After my lovely breakfast I headed towards Golden Gate Bridge. You see it there on the left in the background? 

No I did not walk across it. I have been to SF tons of times and even lived nearby as a kid but I have never walked across it. I'm not sure why, probably because it is long and I would have to walk or ferry back. It's pretty but it's a bridge.  See there it is in the background.

There is a nice park area down by the water and I have to say that whole area has a great name. Though they spelled it wrong if you ask me. 

From there I wandered over to the Palace of Fine arts. Here is where I am going to admit I brought my daughter's camera with me because it is small. But I did not bring the right cable to get the pictures off of it and it currently has no memory card so ..... it is taking pictures on the camera's memory but they are trapped in the camera. Oh well. I will just take phone pictures. 

I walked around the Presidio a bit, it is pretty. But I needed a break. $2.00 for a giant water and a chance to sit, relax and charge my phone was fine by me. There is something to be said about the comfort and familiarity of a Starbucks. But I do also like exploring new local places. I sat and figured out where I wanted to go next. 

I hopped on the bus ($2.25) and headed to Haight Ashbury. Yes in some ways super touristy. But it makes for an amusing stroll. I walked down to Golden Gate Park and back. I may have spent more time in the park if M had been with me. But I spend A LOT of time in parks on trips with her so I decided back to shopping and strolling was best. It was nice to go into stores and not have her begging me to buy a bunch of crap. I mean I know that is the purpose of a store to sell you stuff, but I enjoyed looking at my own pace. 

For a late lunch I had a crepe at some little place on Haight. It was not the best I have ever had but also not the worst. It was cheap and easy and that was what I was in the mood for. 

I hopped back on the bus and ended up at the trolly car turn around at Powell Street. The line was long so I popped in a few shops around there. The Uni Glo was fun to go into, it has rainbow light steps. I usually love there stuff but they are sort of between seasons and did not have anything I couldn't live without. 

I really could not face walking up Knob Hill. According to my Fit Bit I did 23,359 steps yesterday. I decided I could treat myself to a cable car ride up the hill. At $7 it is a bit much. But I just couldn't  imagine how bad my legs would hurt if I could manage to walk to the top. My legs are sore from all the walking I did yesterday. 

G&T with juniper berries and stuff.

I was tired. So I ended up just eating a bite in the hotel bar. Which I will not do again. It is pretty and the food was decent. But the price was crazy! 1 drink and 1 appetizer was $40. Yes I know there are tons of wonderful places in SF. But I was exhausted. Also by the time I paid for a cab to go somewhere, I would have spent just as much or more. However I would have gotten more bang for my buck. 

I am more of a breakfast and lunch person any way. So I don't mind having a not so spectacular dinner. But I can and will do better. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

San Francisco Trip Day 1

You may have seen that I entered a design in a contest for BetaBrand and well... I won!!

I got the most votes and won a trip to San Francisco. Traveling in January can be hit or miss. There is a huge winter storm on the whole eastern half of the US. Luckily my hometown, Atlanta, is just far enough south that the storm missed us. I barely slept at all Friday night worried that it would be too icy for me to drive to the airport Saturday morning. I left the house at 5:30am and was parking my car by 6.

After breezing to the airport, my flight was completely on time. I watched movies as we zipped across the country. I have to admit I am still mystified by the idea that early Saturday I was all the way on the other side of the country. Going west is crazy cool because it is like going back in time. I got a crazy long Saturday. 

I am staying at the lovely, historic Fairmont Hotel at the top of Knob Hill. (thank you Betabrand). My room was not ready when I get here so I wandered the neighborhood a little. It is gorgeous out. The sun is shining. But I have a bit of a cold and id not sleep the night before so.......

I laid down at 3pm and was completely out until I woke up at 8pm. Watched TV ate a few snacks out of the mini bar (who knows how much that's going to cost me) and crashed again around 10pm. However I magically slept until 7:20 which is amazing since now I may be sort of acclimate to the time change. 
View from my hotel room.
My plan for today is to take some more cold medicine to try to unplug my poor ears, get dressed and head out for some real food. Hopefully going early will mean I do not have to wait too long for a table. 
I have not seen or done much so far but I am enjoying to over the top luxury of my hotel and with all this sleep I feel like a new person ready to hit the city! 
Hope you are having a great day too! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

My first quilt, was HUGE!

This is technically not the only quilt I have ever made. Years ago I made what I would call a t-shirt blanket, but it fell apart and was a bit if a disaster. I also made one baby quilt. So let's call this my first real quilt, since I made it for my bed and we get to keep it. I am sort of amazed it is for real finished and we are sleeping under it.

I found the "Big Bang Theory" fabric and ordered a bunch of it, not sure what I was going to make. Clothes would just be silly and I don't really need any more bags. Therefore I decided to make a King size quilt for my bed. I added the robot and planet fabric to balance it out. Because a whole quilt with just "Big Bang Theory" would be too much, right?

Real life CUTE Physicist!
If you don't know - my husband, Eric Weeks is a real live physicist (the picture on his website is about 10 years old). He looks a little like Sheldon, but is more personable like Leonard. And I like to imagine myself as Penny. Ok I know I do not look like Penny. But I am a non-scientist and feel like she must feel a lot of the time.

Back to the quilt, I asked my mother in law for some easy quilt patterns. She sent me some and I did not think all of them were easy. I like really simple quilt designs in general. But I found this subway tile idea in one of her magazines.

I am going to be honest, I am still not entirely on board with the "cut fabric into tiny pieces to sew it back together again" concept. But I do respect it a lot more now. Even though it is not the type of sewing I plan to do much of in the future.

Last summer I made the top of this quilt. I cut out all the pieces and laid them out in my garage because it is a king size quilt and that is the only place I could lay it all out to look at it.

It was cut and sewed in 1 day back on June 21, 2014 while M was away at sleep away camp.

Then I folded it up and it sat in my studio until April 2015. When I was packing up to go to "The Stash Bash" I decided to throw it in so I could show my new quilt-y friends and see what they thought I should do with it.

Well, there was a long arm machine at the event for us to try. And my new friend Susan ended up buying the machine.

Another new friend, Kassie, encouraged me to quilt my quilt! So I ran to Hobby Lobby and bought batting and backing. Well I did get lost going to Hobby Lobby so that was a little frustrating.

It was a good thing I did this at "The Stash Bash" because I have no idea how I would have gotten this done any other way.

Several people (THANK YOU) helped me through the process of laying out the backing. Then the batting and the top. Lots of people walked by and said "That's the biggest quilt I have ever seen!".
Then I pinned the whole thing together.Susan and I took turns doing the actual quilting on her fancy new machine. She is much better at it than I am.  And it took us about four hours or so to do. But we got it quilted!!!

For the binding I decided it would work to just use the backing. This is a quilt to be used and loved. It will be slept under and washed. Also the thought of adding another fabric to all this craziness was making my head spin.

I had asked a few people and tried to decide what to do with it before "The Stash Bash" but it was tough to get an easy answer out of anyone. Which is weird because I was going to pay these people to quit it for me. I think they assumed I had any idea what I was doing. I did not. But now I do. With many thanks to Chris, Susan and Kassie. Also Debbie, Leslie and all the ladies who gave me pointers and encouragement.

I was nervous about going to The Stash Bash, but I am so glad I went!! I made new friends, had a great time and am much less afraid of quilting than I was before. XOXOXO to all my peeps, I could not have done this with out you!!!

Peace Out - Chrissy