Colette Spring Summer 2012 Palette Challenge

Obviously I am a bit behind with completing my challenges as this one was originally posted at The Sew Weekly for January 15-21. Even so, I am glad to have this cute little clutch completed. I used leftover material from my Easter dress so not only does it match perfectly, but is a great stash buster!

The Facts: Buttons January 15-21

Fabric: ¼ yard lavender linen and ¼ yard lavender lining remnants from Easter dress purchased from Hancock Fabrics in Columbia, SC January 2012 ($3)

Pattern: Simplicity ($1) from eBay

Year: 1960’s?

Notions: thread, fusible interfacing ($4) scrapbooking buttons from stash

Time to complete: 2 hours

First worn: For these photos but will be used on Easter Sunday

Wear again: Yes

Total cost: $8

Simplicity 4838

Sew Weekly Challenges

So I have been lurking over at The Sew Weekly ever since I picked up sewing as a hobby last summer. I followed the 4 contributors and Mena through the end of the year and was excited to learn she was going to open the challenges to a plethora of new contributors of all shapes and sizes. Though I definitely don’t have the skills or time to be an “official” contributor, I thought I could follow along with the challenges each week as a way to reduce my ufo and fabric stash.

The first challenge of the year was January 8-14th and it called for contributors to use an accessory to make a statement. Mena posted The “Statement Necklace” Dress  as inspiration. I thought my black embroidered shawl fit the bill nicely. I have been working on it for months and now if I can get the fringe completed this week, you will see some nice photos to go with the following facts:

The Facts: Accessorize January 8-14
Fabric: 2.5 yards black crepe satin purchased from MaryJo’s Cloth Shop in Gastonia, NC August 2011($20)

Pattern:  Vogue 1334 ($7.50 from eBay)

Year: mid 1970s?

Notions: DMC #5 Perle cotton embroidery thread $50 even with Michael’s 40% off coupons, black thread

Time to complete: About 30 hours. The actual cutting and sewing time was only a few hours but the embroidery took forever!!!

First worn: Not yet!

Wear again: Sure but this will be used mainly for more formal events such as Big Band concerts and the like as it is really super fancy.

Total cost: $87.50

Pattern Stashbusting

Back in August when I was first learning to sew, I also discovered the AMC hit show, Mad Men. Though the drama was full of great actors, I spent most of my time swooning over the clothing which led me to purchase WAY too many vintage sewing patterns. All would be fine except most of them are meant for a significantly smaller frame than I currently possess.  In an attempt to spend my limited time actually sewing instead of fondling the merchandise, I recently put a large portion of my patterns up for bid on eBay. The remaining patterns I  kept are mostly modern but many do have a retro vibe. Hopefully having them organized and in one place will be the incentive I need to actually use them!

Fall Sewing Challenge

I have recently picked up sewing in addition to my numerous other hobbies and plan to take part in the Fall Sewing Challenge being offered by Colette Patterns. I am using the fabric below to make a wonderful gathered jacket. The pattern says it is a “Simple Project” but when I read the instructions I was already a bit overwhelmed. Hopefully that is a temporary state! I will post pics of my progress soon…

Fall Jacket and Skirt Material

2011 Resolutions

Though I do have the ones most people have like exercise more and spend less, those are being actively worked with my trusty treadmill and Dave Ramsey. One of my resolutions that failed miserably around April was to read the entire Bible. Well I have decided this will be the year I actually complete that resolution along with the following:

Get to my wedding day weight. To date I have lost 33lbs and have 40 more to go. I want to get there by my 15th wedding anniversary which is on June 28 so each day is going to have to be really managed.

A new resolution this year is to budget my grocery bill and plan/cook meals a month at a time. I have been couponing since February 2010 and following the Dave Ramsey debt snowball plan since August. Since starting those activities, my debt has reduced from 58k to 46k and the stockpile of groceries is tremendous. This year, however, I want to take it a step further and truly monitor closely what I am spending each month on groceries. The best way to ensure I only spend the $200.00 I have set as the budget for January is to consume some of the pantry and freezer items. Since my hubby is diabetic, he cannot eat pasta, rice and potatoes which does make it trickier because he must have more expensive grocery items such as fresh vegetables and meat. Even so, I am excited about the prospect of being creative in the kitchen so hopefully I can clean out the pantry and come in under budget!

How It’s Going

Well it is one full week into the new year and this is the time when most of my resolutions are usually discarded. This year, however, seems different.

First, my resolution to be more kind. I sent three cards in the last ten days to people in my life. Hopefully this will brighten their day as it did mine in the sending. The little things for my husband and children are not yet an ingrained part of my routine but as we say, I am a work-in-progress. As the weeks go by and I make a concerted, purposeful effort, I trust being kind will be a daily occurrence.

Second, my “Simplify” mantra is holding true. I make a daily list of things I need to do and while not everything is checked off by the end of the day, the majority of them are. I am working to simplify my house in small but important ways. Each day I have a small area that is on my list to organize and though it is slow going, it does seem to be working. I am also being firm with the children about picking up their things so hopefully we can keep this up!

Finally, my daily Bible readings are still going strong. I purchased the One Year Bible Chronological edition. This Bible takes you through the entire text in 365 daily readings. Each day is approximately five pages and it is structured in chronological order. This structure seems to be helping me understand because you read in the order the events actually happened. I now look forward to the fifteen minutes of solitude I receive each day and feel I am truly able to read and digest God’s word.

Often they involve personal goals such as lose weight, stop overspending or get a raise. Those have also been my resolutions in the past. This year, however, I am going to take a different approach; one that I hope will help me actually go through with my resolutions and in the end make me a happier and more fulfilled person.

First, I plan to simplify. By this I don’t mean get rid of the multitude of stuff that fills my house. I mean to take a more straightforward approach to life. Instead of spending hours and days in a chaotic frenzy of cleaning and organizing, I plan to take one area a day and get it in order. Whether it is the junk drawer, sock drawer, or jewelry drawer, I want to simplify what is in it to make it more useful and NEEDED in my life. Sure that may mean I clean some stuff out and get a tax deduction for Goodwill donations but more importantly, I have made a stride towards a simplified life.

Second, I plan to spend my time wisely. By this I mean QUALITY over quantity. The hour commute each morning and afternoon is normally spent in annoyance at the other drivers, the kids who made me late because they couldn’t find their shoes or schoolwork, or all of the work that is piled on my desk. Instead of “wasting” these two hours of my daily life I want to spend it listening or reading God’s word. Another blogger at The Homespun Heart inspired a great idea. Since my husband and I ride together most days, I am going to embark on a journey to read the bible in one year. I am sure God’s words will prepare me for each day much better than the mindless drive has thus far.

Lastly, I intend to be more kind. Random acts of kindness will become part of my daily routine. Whether it is making my husband’s lunch or opening doors for strangers, simple kindness done in a purposeful way benefits both the recipient and me. One of the ways I plan to accomplish this is by writing letters more often. I have always made and sent Christmas cards but other than that, cards are rare and letters almost non-existent. As a freelance writer, letters should be an obvious step but has somehow been overlooked. No longer because starting today, I plan to send at least one letter or card every week.

Will my resolutions lead me to be a super skinny, rich person? Probably not. Will my resolutions lead me to be a kinder, more satisfied person? I certainly hope so!

Coming to Fruition

My experiment with online writing has companies literally coming out of the woodwork.  I searched the WAHM.com website for ideas on companies to pursue and the list included…

Demand Studios: I was accepted on the second try and have been writing steadily for them for the last couple of weeks.  By far the best pay per article I have found.

eCopywriters: I had to write a test article about making an omelet (that I later sold to Associated Content) and was accepted a few days later.  The folks who run the site seem very nice and most of the articles I have written were short blog posts that did not take too much time.  My first payment should be in my paypal account on Monday and from what I can tell, the pay is .03 per word which is similar to Demand Studios.  The only drawback is there are not very many articles to choose from and often not any.

Textbroker: This was the first site I started writing for and though the pay is low, the articles are easy to write and usually there are several hundred to choose from.  If I am tired of writing for Demand that day and there is nothing at eCopywriters, I usually head over to Textbroker.  From what I have read on other writers blogs, the best way to make money at Textbroker is through direct client orders.  Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten any hits in that area yet but I plan to continue to write there as filler.

Internet Brands: This is another site I had heard about through the WAHM.com forums and was just accepted on Friday.  I will be writing for the VetInfo.com site and have to write at least 5 articles per week to stay an active writer.  The short articles are 150-250 words and pay $4 each.  I wrote two this morning and will probably continue to write there since I am actually learning things that could help me care for my dogs in the future.  I also got an email asking if I was interested in writing for their Apartment Listing website but I think I will wait to see how the VetInfo articles go first.

wiseGeek: I sent them my resume and writing sample last weekend and finally got an invitation to test with them tonight.  My understanding is there will be three phases with three articles to write in each phase.  If I pass all of the phases I will be accepted to write.  They do have a requirement of 5 articles per week so I should be able to incorporate this company into my daily writing arsenal if I am successful in getting hired.  I have heard nothing but positive things about this company and especially about the relationship between writers and editors.  This will be great for me since I am new to freelance writing.

Quality Gal: I wrote my test article for them and am just waiting for the final call on whether I am hired.  The projects all seem to be resource lists with links embedded which will be a welcome change when I am burned out on article writing.  There didn’t seem to be that many articles available so this will probably be a site that I write a few articles a week for and not a daily writing assignment.

Interact Media: Yet another company I heard about through WAHM.com. I have been accepted and set up a profile but no work has been assigned to me yet.  The pay scale is very hard to decipher so I think I am just going to write a couple of articles once they are assigned and see how it goes.

Demand Studios Writer

In my quest to supplement our current income, I have now become a Demand Studios writer. It took two tries to get accepted but the pay looks very promising. I have heard that the company lives up to its name and is demanding but at $15.00 per article, they far surpass any of the other content writing sites I have found. Hopefully I can find time to write at least two articles a day during the week. Since DS pays weekly via Paypal, the goal of $150.00 per week for groceries is in my grasp. Now if I could only write my way to a vacation in Ireland…