Sunday, February 15, 2009

Looking for motivation

I spent my first week of unemployment diligently searching for work, cleaning the house, tending to the laundry, preparing meals and attempting to edge out the crazy that wanted to take over my head any time I let my guard down.

Every day was a new set of challenges. And I didn't get too much of anything done. No finished crochet projects or anything.

Wait, that's not entirely true.

Faced with financial uncertainty, Justin suggested we make our own laundry detergent. Thanks to a nationally know local family, we knew right where to turn for a recipe. We found all the ingredients at a nearby grocery store and we picked up a five-gallon bucket at Lowe's. The total investment was $13. With that $13, we got the bar of soap, the washing soda, the Borax and the bucket. The bucket, by the way, was the most expensive part. A five-gallon batch actually makes 10 gallons of detergent. Ten gallons gives us enough detergent to wash 640 loads of laundry (we have a front-loading washer). We do an average of five loads a week. One batch of detergent -- ONE BATCH -- will give us enough for approximately 128 weeks of laundry. Because of the small amounts of washing soda and Borax used in the recipe, when we run out of detergent in 2.5 years, the only thing we will need for a new batch is a bar of soap, which costs about $1.50.

I've washed a couple of loads with the new detergent (we still have some store-bought stuff to finish) and our clothes came out clean and soft without being over-fragranced.

And that was our craft for the week.

On Friday, I was offered a job at the paper where Justin works. I accepted. He will be in a different office and we will have different hours, so hopefully being married co-workers will not make us crazy. In hindsight, I wish I had enjoyed my time off a little more. But I was afraid to. Things worked out pretty well, though. I told Justin that I was buying a spinning wheel with my severance, but he said it was best to put that money into my savings account. As usual, he is right.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

J-Flo, your order is ready for pickup

It's amazing what you can get done in a day when you don't have a job. Like take pictures of custom orders for your etsy shop.

Here's the set Justin made for our friend Jennifer over at Ophelia McPhee.

Justin and Jennifer worked out a trade -- he'd make gloves and a hat for her if she would do a painting for him.

When she asked what he wanted, he said without hesitation, "A painting of Dog the Bounty Hunter."

Um, OK. We at Teapot Hollow may need to go into negotiations about that, but this trade has nothing to do with me so I don't see how I can win.

However, we both hope our friend Jennifer will enjoy her foxy new accessories. If you'd like a set -- or even just the gloves or hat -- we would be more than happy to work that out for you.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Oh karma, you are the boss of me

Remember just a few hours ago where I wrote a big post about work? Too much work? Waaa waa waa?

I was "laid off" today. So. More time to crochet, I guess.

It's enough to drive you crazy if you let it

Back in December, I had the good fortune of a freelance job landing in my lap. I wasn't looking for the extra work, but when my boss was contacted by a former hometown football hero looking for a page designer, my boss recommended me.

The work comes along once a month -- almost like other annoying things that show up on a monthly schedule -- and it's always a big, stressful mess. As much as I like to pretend that I can fly by the seat of my pants, the lack of organization and structure involved with the work makes me want to punch someone in the neck.

I shouldn't be complaining, right? I have not one but two jobs in a time where work is scarce. People are losing their jobs every day, but I have plenty. But there are so many things about the freelance that just make me want to cry -- being a big old baby in general the least of them. You can ask Justin: I'm not happy unless I'm busy. Most of the time I am literally unable to sit still. I have to clean and tidy and sort and organize morning, noon and night. And when I do give myself a break from all of that, I want to spend ten minutes crocheting or updating the blog. So it would make sense that having more work to do would be just the thing for me. But it's not. In addition to all the learning on the fly we're doing with the start-up publication I freelance for, it seriously cuts into my at-home time. And after many years of being a social butterfly, flitting from one place to the next in false eyelashes until sunrise, home is where I want to be most of all. With Justin and our dogs and our yarn.

This is why I want etsy to work for us. We both really enjoy creating things and brainstorming about new projects and encouraging each other. We would be making things with or without an etsy shop, but our coat closet simply cannot hold one more scarf or hat.

Yesterday, while I worked up hundreds of photographs while also doing my "real" job, Justin made me a pair of sky blue fingerless gloves. With spring on the horizon, we've talked about things we can do to keep our shop stocked with things folks will want year round. I found an awesomely easy pattern for the cutest mary jane slippers on and Justin is considering socks. I still have lofty goals in the sewing department, too.

I guess what I'm getting at is that I spend enough time working. And I want my spare time (and Justin's) to be filled with work that truly makes us happy. Like fingerless gloves and unfinished mixed berries scarves (which I will be able to finish now because Justin scored more yarn for me yesterday!) and cute little cloth napkins. And I guess it will be, because it always has been.

Right now, this is the most-viewed item in our shop. It's very nice, no? Justin made it himself and it is lovely. We've reduced the price on it to $15. It's 100% wool, and it's soft, not scratchy.

This is one of the gloves Justin made for me yesterday. We don't have a pair listed in the shop yet, but if you'd like to have your own, let us know. He just finished a custom pair in orange for Ophelia McPhee. We will list the gloves and matching hat in our shop as a reserved item if you would like to see more photos. We aim to have that done in the next day or so.

This is Rowdy. He is not for sale and he doesn't freelance. Sorry.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Thawing out

We survived last week's ice storm. My sister-in-law X told me today that her parents are still without electricity! We were lucky enough to have kept our electricity throughout the whole mess, but we did lose our cable briefly Thursday night. We went out for pizza and returned to cable and Internet. It was a close call.

I spent the ice storm working on the mixed berries scarf. Of course, I had to go to work for a few hours every day but being on early deadlines gave me plenty of time to crochet when I got home.

Sadly, I ran out of yarn while I was doing the edging on the scarf. I could have pulled it out, made it a few rows shorter and been OK. But for now I'm happy to leave it unfinished.

Justin has whipped up a pair of arm warmers for our friend over at Ophelia McPhee. He's working on the matching hat now.

I finished a hat and scarf set. They remind me of a box of Valentine chocolates.

I also managed a set of pink and black coasters. I'll be working on a custom order of brown and red coasters for X, and some wash cloths are in the works, too. Have you tried a wash cloth crocheted with cotton yarn? You don't know what you're missing.

My husband wanted me to mention that I've hogged the can of mixed nuts while I was writing this. Someone has to eat all the cashews.