Archive for Sarah

Just Wear It – Lipstick

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I own a fair amount of makeup. It’s mostly eyeliners and shadows but in the past year I’ve been building up a collection of lip colors as well. As I had mentioned in a previous post about sending some lipstick to fellow panelist and friend, Morgan, I have a thing for really pigmented cosmetics. Orangey-red? Love it. Hot Pink? Yes. Glittery magenta? Need it. So now I have all these colors that I never wear.

Picking a lipstick

A few days ago I had to go out and run some errands. Nothing amazing, just the grocery store and Target. I put on my usual mascara and then sort of stared at the container where I keep my lipsticks. I thought about how whenever I’m at work and I see a customer wearing lipstick I almost feel jealous at how they can seem to wear it so casually. My mom used to always wear a color that was actually pretty similar to the natural color of her lips, but a little pinker. Even when I try wearing colors like that, I feel like they seem kinda bright, especially since my lips are already pretty pigmented. I almost always feel like I need to be going out or getting dressed up and usually even then I wimp out and don’t put any on. So then I thought, well, the only way I’m ever going to feel more comfortable is to just do it!

Lipstain colors

What I decided on wearing was actually what I recommended to Morgan to get for filming her cooking video, Revlon’s Just Bitten balm stain in Romantic. I’m a fan of sheer color but I really don’t like the shine of lip gloss and I wanted something that was going to stay, partly so that I wouldn’t be worried about reapplying much and partly because then I might forget I was wearing it and not feel so self conscious.

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image via drugstore.com

 

So I put some on, stuck it in my purse, and headed out to do my errands. I even got a little braver in Target and layered on some more while  in the dressing room…and then was like…”Oh, crap, how do I not get this on clothing?” while I tried stuff on. (Don’t worry, I didn’t mark anything!) I figure I can keep wearing this for a while because it’s super build-able and I can work my way up to feeling more comfortable wearing less sheer colors.

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And just as I suspected, seemingly nobody noticed that I was even wearing red lipstick. But then of course, it’s not like I ran into anyone I knew, so why would they?

Just Do It – Crochet Sweater

One of my goals for 2013, before I even joined Counting By 12s, was to crochet some kind of garment for myself. I’ve made myself a couple cowls and scarf-type things, a pair of slippers and some necklaces. I wanted to challenge myself and make something like a sweater or top.

Picking a crochet pattern

I searched on Ravelry for a pattern and chose one from Lion Brand Yarn called Perfect Crochet Cardigan that didn’t look too hard. I had been adding quite a few crochet garment patterns to my favorites on Ravelry for a while, but I’d always been worried about figuring out how to shape the pieces correctly and putting in sleeves – both things that I have never really done before. I ended up picking the Perfect Crochet Cardigan because the body of it is done all in one piece, so you didn’t have to do a back and front and stitch them together.

Picking yarn

I can get impatient about starting a project. When I make up my mind that I want to start something I want to start it RIGHT. NOW. Or I’m worried that I might just never get around to it. I didn’t have the yarn that the pattern calls for, but I had a fair amount of another yarn of (what is supposedly) the same weight, so I just went with that. Well, that and also I am not a fan of the color ways that the yarns in the pattern come in. I went with Lion Brand’s Cotton Ease, one of my absolute favorite yarns,  in Charcoal.

Getting Started

So on January 1st I got started and everything seemed to be going really well. The pattern was easy to follow and it looked like I was going to have just enough yarn! I was making pretty quick progress and since it was only one piece I was able to try it on every once in a while and make sure it was fitting. It was definitely fitting but it was also seeming really short and I only had a couple rows left on the length of the sweater. After a bit of hemming and hawing, I decided to not add more rows and leave the length to be a little bit cropped.

After completing the body of the cardigan it was time to add a band that went up around the neck and it was looking like I was going to be in good shape with my yarn. WRONG! I had maybe three rows left when I ran out. I knew that we didn’t sell that color where I work, so I had to order some online. (I’m super impatient about ordering things, by the way. The waiting makes me crazy!)

When the yarn arrived I was quickly reminded of a little thing called dye-lot. The new skeins were a little lighter than what the rest of the sweater was made from, but I guess that’s probably going to happen when you buy a color of yarn two or three years apart!

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 So here it is, all finished! Oh, I almost forgot to mention that I decided against doing the sleeves once I saw the difference in the yarn colors. I’m happy with how it came out, though. It will be a nice little cropped sweater for dresses and summer. And best of all, I feel way less intimidated about trying out some other patterns!

Make vs. Buy – Pillowcases

A month or so ago I had been talking to a customer at work who mentioned something about a local store chain, Marden’s, having lots of fabric. Marden’s is one of those stores that gets stuff other stores don’t want anymore or have too much of, discontinued items, salvaged items, etc. There’s a lot of crap, but you can also find some really cool stuff too, if you are someone who likes to dig through stuff. I think maybe the best part is their ridiculous ads:

P.S. Even though I’m a born and raised Mainer, I have no accent, and that makes me a little sad!

Buying fabric for sewing

So I stopped in on one of my days off to browse around. They moved into an old Wal-Mart many years ago so the place is pretty huge. I made a beeline for the fabric, which they do, in fact,  have lots and lots of. A lot of it was just cheaper cotton patterns but then I spotted a printed fabric from Amy Butler that I knew had been out of print for a while and I got really excited because my mom had been looking for a piece of it for a long time. Then as I rounded a corner I spotted another print, from the Prince Charming line by designer Tula Pink, that I had really wanted to get a piece of last year but never got around to it. And, bonus, they were only like three or four bucks a yard! Score!

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Tula Pink’s Prince Charming – Dandelions in Cream colorway

So I purchased the fabric, washed it and then it just sat in my little work area for a few weeks until I decided it would be a great print for some pillowcases!

I’ve made pillowcases a few times before. I use a tutorial from the site Film In The Fridge. It’s a fairly quick and very easy sewing project that I still usually manage to mess up at some point. I sandwich things incorrectly or press my seams the wrong way. It’s just inevitable for me to do something like that while sewing. Luckily though, whatever flubs I make are usually easily fixed. In the tutorial she adds a trim, but I decided to skip that this time and I actually think I like how the came out a little better than the other pairs I’ve made.

DSC_0044They look really nice with a set of light grey sheets that I bought a while back. I actually didn’t buy matching pillowcases for the set in the hope that it would motivate me to make my own instead. And it worked! It feels good to have another handmade thing in our home!

Growth for S. Jane – Product

I’ve always had a hard time staying focused on making products for my Etsy shop. I more or less want to make all of the things all of the time which can make a shop feel kind of all over the place. I think the one thing that has anchored mine thus far has been the fact that almost everything I make centers around the animal characters that I currently draw, and some stick people that I used to draw. They have been on stickers, notepads, cards, felt brooches, pin sets, magnets, rubber stamps, crocheted, sewn, pendants, prints, and probably a few other things I’ve forgotten. In the picture below, you can see all the different types of things that are in my shop currently.

shop_nowIs it worth the time to craft?

I’ve always made everything in the shop totally on my own. I design, print and cut all the stickers myself. Carve all the stamps by hand. Design, print and cut any packaging, etc. I used to really enjoy it and see it as a sort of a challenge but as time goes on, making things to sell has become a source of stress. The moment I work on something that is planned to go into my shop, I start worrying too much about if people will like it or not. Which is a valid concern, since it is going out into the world for someone to own and hopefully love. I can’t tell you how many things I have made that are sitting in a little box that didn’t make it into my shop because of this worry. That means I just have a box of more or less wasted time!

Design more, make less

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and it’s helped me come to a realization about how I want to move forward. Simply put, my realization is that I want to design more and make less. I LOVE making things and I don’t think that I could be a functioning person without making and learning about new crafts on a regular basis. But one big thing I’ve realized is that I don’t love–or really even like–making things for my shop anymore. Gifts? I love making gifts! Things for my home? I love making things for my home, too! Do I love spending tons of time on something that may sit in my shop for a year? Nope, not really, but I always knew that could be a possibility.

So right, back to design more, make less, and what that means to me. I want to move toward making things like DIY kits, designing cross stitch and crochet patterns. I also want to design more stickers and cards and things like that, but probably have them printed by someone else. One of the really big things is that I want to actually get the textile designs I’ve had for a few years onto Spoonflower (a site that prints custom fabric – it’s GREAT!) to have printed and to also sell through their site.

Designing a new product

I decided that the first thing I wanted to work on for my new design more, make less approach would be some sort of DIY project. I’d seen some really great “cut and sew” dolls that people had designed on Spoonflower and decided to try making some of those. I’d always wanted to see some of my little animal drawings as plush and this seems like a great way to do it easily and have many designs. So I sat down last week and worked on an image to get printed and see how they come out. Here is what I came up with:

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Bestie Bears “cut and sew”! They will, of course, not have the watermark!

They are designed to be printed on a fat quarter of fabric and each bear is about eight inches tall. I cannot wait to get my fabric piece so I can test them out! They might even be easy to package as a kit with some poly-fil and thread. Ah! Now I feel even more like the possibilities are endless! I’ll be sure to share a pic when I make my little tester!

DIY For My Blog – Salt Scrub

This past Christmas I made some scrubs and a bath tea for my sister-in-law. She has just had a baby and I thought it might be nice to make her some things for relaxation. I had a great time making them and have had some different scent combinations floating around in my head since.

Salt or sugar scrub

I decided that I would do a salt or sugar scrub as my DIY for this month. I had originally planned to do a lemon-mint sugar scrub but as I gathered the ingredients I felt like that was kind of boring. A nice combo but there were lots of recipes for that already. Oh, and I had forgotten that I’d used the lemon I bought for something else. Whoops! But I had a lime so I thought maybe lime-mint? Still didn’t seem all that exciting to me.

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Possible ingredients.

Black Pepper is good for you

For some reason, black pepper popped into my head. I did a little research to make sure that it wouldn’t hurt your skin and it turns out it’s actually pretty good for you! I have this medium/coarse ground pepper that I LOVE. We got it from the bulk section of an amazing grocery store we shopped at when we lived in Oregon. When I ran out at some point last year I was so bummed but Morgan was sweet enough to send me a big bag of it. I knew it would be good with the thicker feel, and the oil we buy is fairly fruity and has a lighter scent. The last decision was sugar or salt – I went with salt, just preference, really. All decisions were made and it was time to start mixing!

Pepper and Lime scrub

mix

 

Real talk – I tasted it after I mixed all the dry parts together. It just looked tasty to me and it smelled really nice! And it was, you know, salty, but still tasty! After this was all mixed up I put it into a little jar I had saved. It was one of those little ones that things like marinated artichokes come in. Perfect size for this, but I have no idea where the cover went! Bummer! The last step was to add some oil and mix it up!

oil

 

I had a short “oh, crap!” moment when I added the oil because it was a little more than I meant to add, but that’s an easy fix – just add more salt!

I’m very happy with how it came out. It’s lightly scented and when you rub it on your hands you can ever so slightly feel the heat of the pepper. It’s a nice way to pep up all the cloudy days we’ve been having here in Maine. If you want to try to make it yourself you can check out the post on my blog – Pepper Lime Salt Scrub.

Giving Gifts – Glitter Glitter Glitter

One of the managers at my work and I have bonded over a love of cosmetics and glitter – two things that, I think I can safely say, we wholeheartedly agree belong together. It seems that we have at least one brief conversation about either of those things every time we work together. And if one of us is wearing a new nail polish we are super excited to show each other. Oh, and by the way, we work at a craft store, so talking about glitter really isn’t outside of the norm for us. Especially when we are more or less covered in it 80% of the time anyway. That being said, I don’t mind having it on me and I LOVE it in eyeliner/polish but I like to control where, on me, it actually is. She will, on the other hand, straight up shake glittery things that I’m making (I make a lot of the demo and display items for the store) over her head so she’s covered in it. I admire her courage with and commitment to glitter.

Great gift idea

So I don’t think it’s hard to understand why, when I saw these nail strips in a clearance pile at Ulta, I thought of her IMMEDIATELY. She also loves most things pink, so, you know, pink + more pink + glitter = totally her.

Plus, have any of you ever tried these nail strips? For a while I was on the hunt for a tacky gold polish that seemingly did not exist. My friend Ashley and I were out one day and I spotted some gold glitter nail strips that were pretty dreamy. They were ridiculously easy to apply (well, once I realized you were supposed to peel a plastic piece off) and they stayed on for SO LONG. I’ve since found the tacky gold polish of my dreams, also made by Sally Hansen, but those strips sure were in the interim.

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Giving The Gift

At work on Friday I told her that I had a little present for her. She just stared at me for a moment and then said “CAN I HAVE IT RIGHT NOW???!!!” I said “Yeah! Duh!” or something like that and I got the nail strips out of my locker and gave them to her. She loved them! And so it was another saw this and thought of you gift success!

Hopefully next month won’t be another cosmetic related gift but I guess I can’t really guarantee that. It’s just how it’s happened so far! Oh well!

New Place – Kushiya Benkay

I’m honestly surprised it took us this long to get to “new place” this month. I (we) had hoped to get out to visit a new park or trail this month but between snow storms and just general schedule weirdness, it wasn’t going to happen. So yesterday before I ran out the door to go to work I yelled, “We’re going to have a dinner date tonight! Somewhere new!” I didn’t really have any ideas about where I wanted to go but I kept thinking Asian food or some sort. Portland, Maine, has a ton of wonderful restaurants and has been called a “foodie” city by many different publications and websites. It’s one of the things that I love about living here and it seems to always surprise people when they visit. Well, after they get over the initial shock that Maine has paved roads, electricity, and that we don’t all own lobster boats. Anyway! Last night I decided that we should try out a newer Japanese place a couple blocks away called Kushiya Benkay. I knew that my brother had been there and loved it and it had positive reviews online. It’s a sort of sister restaurant to a larger sushi place called Benkay, on the other side of town.

Kushiya Benkay

I feel like we were greeted by both the waitresses and cooks before we were even fully in the door. I thought at first it was because we were the only people in there, but then I noticed as more people trickled in, that they were just that friendly! I wish I had taken pictures of the actual space because it was really nice. Lots of wooden beams and crazy chandeliers. It felt super cozy. Adam and I were overwhelmed at first by the menu. Their specialty is grilled skewers, but they also have lots of appetizers and sushi rolls. I started with a lemon drop martini that was I think made with vodka, sake (maybe?) and yuzu lemonade. I took forever for us to decide what we wanted to get for food because there was just SO MUCH that we could have gotten! First we ordered pork gyoza, which is a must for us anytime it’s on a menu.

Adam’s chopsticks making their way to the pork gyoza. YUM.

Now, I wouldn’t say that I can’t use chopsticks, because I’m finally to a point where I don’t feel like a total idiot when I try to use them. Some things I just can’t seem to pick up, though, and apparently gyoza is one of them so I may or may not have just stabbed them with my chopsticks. You don’t need to judge me, Adam already did. We ordered five different skewers – chicken breast, duck breast, shrimp, tuna and asparagus. They were served with miso and spicy dipping sauces and a green tea salt. I’d never really had tuna (as a steak) or duck before annnd I’m not that sure I’ll be having duck again. We dug into the skewers so quickly that I almost forgot to take a pic until the end!

That asparagus was devoured immediately after this picture.

And finally we ordered an Alligator roll that had shrimp tempura, eel and avocado.

Actually, just kidding about the “finally!” We were so happy with the food that we ordered another roll after the alligator roll! I don’t think we’ve ever done that, unless we were with a large group of people.

I think I might have been able to stay there all night and try food. We definitely splurged a bit on that dinner, but I think that Adam would agree that it was 100% worth it. The food was wonderful, the atmosphere was great, the staff was friendly. We spent most of the dinner smiling at each other and laughing over the super 90′s music station they had on. We can’t wait to go back again soon!

Friend Time

One of the things on my list is about having friends and family over to our place. That seemed and ultimately was impossible this month. But the failure got me thinking about what I really wanted out of that list item. I just want to spend more time with friends and family. I feel like lately, and especially this time of year I can get kind of hermit-y because of the weather and it still getting dark pretty early. I guess maybe a lot of people feel that way, though. It also got me thinking about the time we have spent with friends this month and how it doesn’t really matter where we are when we are with them. It doesn’t have to be at our house.

Last weekend Adam and I went over to the house of one of our friends from college. He and his girlfriend have an adorable three-year-old who we hadn’t seen since she was only a week or so old. We snacked on pistachios with her, and she (sort of) read us a story before it was her bedtime. Then we had dinner and drinks and chatted away. We don’t get to see them too often because, well, life, I guess, but it was so nice to catch up. It was the kind of night that I have really been loving lately–pretty quiet with great company and conversation. They are the kinds of friends that I had in mind when I was thinking about this item on my list. Those friends whose company you really cherish but you don’t get to see or interact with regularly.

So while I still really want to entertain some friends and family at our place, the more I think about it, it’s just the memories of the time together that are important–not where they happen.

Just Wear It – Leggings

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Number 12 on my list is to Wear Something Outside My Comfort Zone. This one kind of got shoved to last minute because I kept feeling like I needed to go out somewhere in whatever I was wearing. Somewhere other than the grocery store or out to do errands or to grab a quick bite out with Adam or hanging out at a friend’s house. Which is stupid because I want the point of this to be that I feel comfortable with wearing whatever to any of those places.

Leggings

I’ve always had a bit of a weird thing about leggings. I think they look adorable on other people – unless you’re wearing them as pants outside of the house. I’m so intensely not ok with that. But I won’t get started on that. I can’t tell you how many times I have bought a pair of leggings with every intention of wearing them with dresses, or skirts or whatever and then just end up wearing them as comfy pants around the house when I know I’m not going to be seeing anyone but Adam. I have one friend in particular that wears them all the time and looks like the cutest thing ever.

Casual Dinner Out

I wrote a post earlier about Adam’s and my “somewhere new” dinner. I decided to wear a dress and, drum roll, leggings. The funny thing here is that I love wearing tights when I wear dresses, which is almost never (I’ll be working on that with this list item). Colored, patterned, textured, whatever! I love tights! This is silly because when you wear leggings with boots, they look just like tights!

This is what I was wearing last night when we went to dinner. I put the outfit back on and took a picture today because, believe it or not, taking a picture after you’re super full from dinner and pink cheeked from a cocktail and cold weather isn’t the most flattering! I think I just really need to get over the fact that nobody else gives a crap or is probably even going to notice what you’re wearing. All that matters is that I was comfortable and I felt like I looked ok!

New Game – Red Steel 2

I probably don’t really need to do this, but I keep feeling like I need to somehow explain this item on my list – Play A Game I Wouldn’t Play. By game, here, I mean video game. I genuinely love them but not in a nostalgic way. I didn’t really grow up playing them. Hearing the music from Metroid doesn’t take me back and I don’t love anything more because it’s made to look, or is, 8-bit. I love them because the possibilities are endless. They seem to feed the part of me that wishes the world were a more magical place. I’m not actually saying I want like, Harry Potter to be real, but really, deep down, I do. (Let’s just say, had those books been around when I was 11, I would have secretly been waiting for my Hogwart’s letter even though I knew it wasn’t going to happen.) It’s like this little tiny secret hope that lives in my heart and now you all know about it!

One of the biggest draws to a game, for me, is art style. I like things that are bright and stylized. Ultra-realistic doesn’t do much for me. If I want to see something that looks like a real tree – I’ll go look at a real tree. If I want to see realistic skin – I’ll just look at my arm. I like pretty simple game play, a good story, puzzles and I love collecting. I don’t like shooting, or really even having to aim (is that lazy?), being timed, being chased (too scary!!!), zombies (barf), first person or flying things. Which, if you aren’t someone who plays games, you probably think I just eliminated all the things you would do in a video game. Not even close. So, what I’m hoping here is to be surprised and to find some value in these games that I immediately brush off as not being my “style.”

Battle Cries and a Sore Arm

For the most part we don’t buy games for the Wii or Xbox unless it’s something we are both interested in. But we bot have a little pile of games that the other one doesn’t really care about so naturally for this list I started with Adam’s pile. If, when asked if I would like it or not he would respond with “ehhhhh” or “you’d hate it,” it became a contender. I decided to start with Red Steel 2, because I knew I’d get to swing a sword around. Plus I’ve watched Adam play it a bit and the art style is kind of neat–the feeling is sort of samurai meets cowboy.

I took notes! Ignore any crappy spelling. I was too busy shooting and swinging a sword.

I get a gun at the beginning of the game, which is almost immediately a problem for me because A) I’m not so great with aiming in first-person games and B) There is limited ammo and I have no control and want to shoot all the things. I also tend to die really quickly in this type of game because I just run, guns blazing, at the bad guy. Dodging and hiding are concepts I have yet to grasp, apparently.

Eventually I get a sword and learn how to use it and block (which I can almost guarantee you I will forget to do). I start my first mission and I’m supposed to save the Dojo! Without even realizing it at first I’ve started letting out what I think sounds like  a “battle cry” every time I swing my sword. But really I’m pretty sure it was more of a “omggetthatguyawayfromme” panicked yell. Adam walks into the living room – “ARE YOU IMPRESSED??!!” I asked him as I swung wildly. “I’M PLAYING ON EASY!!” He just kinda looked at the screen and said “mmhmm” and walked out. By the time I start the next mission my battle cry has shifted to an intense furrow because I’ve managed to walk in circles and I’m stressed because someone is yelling at me and I CAN’T find them.

I continued playing a few more missions until I met some lady character that was just ridiculous looking. I don’t want to have to see her again so I decide to stop playing.

My Samurai Days Are Over

By no means did I hate this game but I don’t see myself playing it again. It stressed me out and I’m not sure what was going on. I would have been totally content if the game was just about shooting bottles and breaking things with your sword, but it wasn’t… I don’t think anyway. I’m not sure I was paying attention to the story.