Signs of fall

Mini white pumpkins in an awesome orange bowl my mom gave me.

I think we were a little ambitious when we decided to pick a half bushel of apples at the orchard yesterday. Notice the size of the bag in comparison to the George Foreman grill.

Some organic merino yarn I am thinking of turning into fingerless gloves.

Freelancing: months two and three

Compared to the last couple of months, July (my first month as a freelancer) was an absolute breeze. In August, everything just became real.

I realized that having lost an assignment that brought in several hundred dollars a month with no replacement, I was getting a little bit behind each month. I started asking Mike to pay for more things while I scrambled for more assignments. But the assignments I’m getting now just don’t compare compensation-wise. I don’t see that changing until the economy changes. Gah!

There’s also this emotional roller coaster that comes with not knowing where your paycheck is coming from each month. You worry and worry, and then sometime in the space of a day or two you’re suddenly fine. I’m getting better at handling it, but it can be really terrifying.

You’re also home all day by yourself, so it’s easy to get lost in your own head, thinking you are doing something terribly wrong, and then realizing that you can do nothing but put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. Not every effort works out the first time, but that’s how you learn.

Ultimately I made the decision to lower my stress level about money considerably and cash in some stock. I waited as long as I could before doing that, but it I knew that if I continued to get behind each month, I’d really be sorry later.

In better news, the craft selling prime season is coming up, and I’m starting to see a little return on the items I make and find. If I can get to the point of teaching Nia at least once a week, that would round out my income sources. And like I said before, I think that’s the best you can do as a freelancer. Diversify your income sources as much as possible. Always keep an eye out for new possibilities.

The best part about the last two months has definitely been starting to teach Nia. I love it beyond all my expectations. My fitness level has increased to the point that some of the hour-long routines actually seem too easy. And can I just say a little hallelujah for the fact that I pulled out a pair of jeans from last season and they were too big? I will never join a gym again. I’ve found my movement and I’m not turning back.

Mike got me some Web hosting space, so my next big project is to put together all my clips, resume, etc. into a nice site. Eventually it may merge with my blog, but that’s a way’s off, I think. I’m also spending just about every spare moment knitting so that I’ll have plenty of inventory for winter.

I know way too many people, hard workers, who have lost their jobs this year, and it makes me thankful that I made the decision to leave on my own terms when I felt it was right. If it’s hard, I have to be at peace with the fact that it was my decision, and so far, that’s what makes me pull it together and keep on truckin’.

Where’s Wally?

The other day I caught Sadie sleeping with Wally between her paws.

I swear I did not put him there. Our dogs are just obsessed with a squeaky beaver.

Getting ready for Market Day

My fingers are knitting as fast as they can go for my first craft fair of the season, Market Day. Here’s the info:

Saturday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Market Street Media Foundry, 118 SE 4th St. in Des Moines
handmade crafts, artwork, vintage and more

I will have knit and crochet items, magnets, thumb tacks, hair clips, recycled wax candles and vintage housewares. There will be some amazing vendors there, so please stop by if you get a chance!

You wouldn’t want to miss my first pom-pom hats…

Up to my ears in vintage

The Mary Marie shop is absolutely bursting with vintage finds lately. Here’s a peek:

I’m still devoted to my handmade wares, but this journey into vintage has taken me a lot farther than I ever expected to go, and I love it. There’s so much out there just waiting to be found, so many things that have withstood the test of time and will still fit just right into someone’s modern decor.

I think there’s a lot more I can do besides selling a few things on Etsy, but that remains to be seen. For now, I’m just learning all I can and having a ball thrifting.

Pretty up the porch

One of the best parts about working at home (and just starting out, which means I have more free time), is that I get to tackle some projects that have been on my to-do list for ages. And then there are other projects that just pop up because I happen to be around to notice that this or that bothers me.

The driveway gets swept, weeds get pulled, clutter gets put away and the dishwasher gets run on a regular basis. My stress level over the way this house is running has just gone waaayyy down.

Anyway, today it just hit me how sad it is that we never use our screened-in porch area. Technically it’s hard to consider it a real screened-in porch because we have to leave the door open for the dogs to access the yard and the patchwork roof over it is not water tight. But ultimately it’s a pretty big space that just sits there.

I think a big reason we haven’t been using it is just simply because it’s been really dirty. Ever since we moved in it’s been covered in spiderwebs, leaves and dirt. I sweep it occasionally, but I’ve never actually cleaned it cleaned it.

I guess I always thought if we wanted to sit outside we’d sit on the patio area. But since the patio is directly under a gigantic tree that drops walnuts (or bits of walnuts after the squirrels are done with them), we never want to sit out there.

So, today I finally made us an outdoor sitting area. I took a broom and swept all the cobwebs from the walls and ceiling. Then I swept the floor in every nook and cranny I usually skip. And finally I turned the hose on it. I powerwashed everything to the best of my ability, including our table and chairs that I moved into the porch area.

Just those few things made a huge difference. I can really see us sitting out there now or having friends over. Maybe even coffee and a newspaper in the morning.

I still have to address the adjacent garden area that is totally overgrown. Last year we decided to pull out all the old covering and rocks and put in new ones. Except we didn’t realize that the old covering was keeping the weeds from sprouting through. Oops.

But that’s a pretty labor-intensive project that we can tackle in the spring. For now, I’m looking for ways to pretty up the empty porch, and maybe you can help.

It has one bare lightbulb that could really use a covering of some kind (and remember it has to be waterproof).

And this one wall is completely empty. It needs some metal signs or other kind of decoration, I think.

What else can I do to make it more visually appealing? Fabric flags? Plants? Vintage buckets or something? I would love to hear your suggestions. And remember, I’m on a tight budget!

A day in the life of Wally

After the dogs chewed up their stuffed squirrel (which lasted months, by the way), we decided to get them another one. Except they were all out of squirrels, so we had to get a beaver instead. Since we live just off Beaver Ave. in the Beaverdale neighborhood it seemed appropriate. We called him Wally.

The dogs loooove Wally. When we first got him he was immediately lost in the yard for a few days. Then Sadie came in one day with Wally hanging out of her mouth by the tail.

When he’s around, they wrestle and roll and fight over him.

And that’s a good thing. Because afterward we end up with dogs that can barely keep their eyes open.

Thanks, Wally. You rock.

Apple dip to die for

Now that apples the size of grapefruits are showing up at the store, I’ve been looking for creative ways to eat them. But once I landed on this option, I pretty much got stuck there.

One heaping tablespoon of creamy peanut butter, one teaspoon of Nutella. Microwave for about 15 seconds and stir together.

Yeah.

Serve as a dip with slices of your favorite apple. I love Galas the best.

My first time making bread

No-knead bread, to be exact.

I don’t have the patience for a bread that needs multiple sets of kneading and rising. In my house, that’s Mike’s department. But I was getting kind of sad that I’d never made bread. And what kind of Martha would I be if I didn’t tackle that challenge?

So, since we are now in possession of an old cast iron dutch oven, I thought I would pull out the recipe I saved from Mother Earth News for no-knead bread and give it a try. Apparently the steaming action from the pot-with-lid method, mimics that of high-heat ovens that bakeries use. You may not get bread that good, but you can come close.

I think my bread came out great. I used half white and half whole-wheat flour, and even though I’m all about healthier breads I think I would go with all-white next time. The texture was fine – crusty outside, chewy inside. But for an artisan-type bread that begs for a slice of brie and a smear of jam, I just prefer white.

Anyway, I started the dough last night and let it sit overnight. Right before lunch I patted it into shape and let it rise for a couple hours. Then I put it in the oven and baked it for 45 minutes. Super easy. Definitely messy when you have to clean all that sticky dough off your dishes. But overall, for someone with very little patience for breadmaking, I think this recipe is a winner.

Rachel Gold’s cross-country vintage journey

Yesterday I got to meet the adorable Rachel Gold, a fellow Etsy seller who is moving from Philadelphia to L.A. and stopping at cities along the way to go to thrift stores and meet vintage sellers from Etsy. What a genius idea! I wish I’d thought of it.

Anyway, she wanted to stop by and see how I’d decorated my house with various vintage items, and I was more than happy to show my stash. Read about it here.

I tend to think of myself more as a crafter than as a collector, but it was fun to go through my house and realize how many thrifted items I do have both as useful things in the kitchen or as decor.

So thanks to Rachel for reminding me how cool vintage items can be, and also for connecting vintage lovers all over the country through her journey. I can’t wait to see what she does with all the interviews she has collected. Stay tuned!