Thursday, April 30, 2009

Kicking Myself

I did say I wasn't going to buy clothes for a year.  I already failed, but I was hoping for just one slip up.  At the earth day fair a vendor was there with the greatest jersey dresses and skirts.  Great silk screened graphics and embroidered embellishments made me want to buy them.  They were only $23, I knew it was a bargain.  Sometimes I have a hard time finding clothes I truly love.  I like the bohemian look, but I like it to be a cute look, and not an "I'm a dirty hippie" look.  I can't afford Anthropologie, who can?  So I resisted the urge to get them, and then I saw them again in front of a store, marked up 50% from the price at the fair.  Why didn't I get a dress, why?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Yet Another Bag

I made this purse using the pattern from Amy Karol's Bend the Rules Sewing book.  I was supposed to do some free motion quilting for the design but I decided to use the decorative stitching on my sewing machine instead.  Click on it to check out a closer look at the stitching.

 I went on a fabric shopping splurge to fill up the dwindling stash I brought here with me.  Yummy!
I also made some flowers using fusible webbing and water soluble fabric.  I used directions from a Cloth Paper Scissors article.  I learned how to free motion quilt and had fun playing around with it.  It was frustrating and not cooperating with me at first, but I finally got it to work.  I still need to add buttons or beads to the middle.  You can definitely tell I did the red one before the polka dotted one!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What is a Yurt Anyway?

photos from Pacific Yurt Company

I'm going to start a little weekly post here about interesting alternative housing ideas.  Mark my words, Sam and I are looking for a more permanent dwelling place, but we don't want to have a mortgage.  We're exploring some creative ideas.  I want to share the journey with you.

A yurt is a portable felt-covered, wood lattice framed dwelling structure used originally by nomads in Mongolia.  

The modern ones are very nice.  They generally are classified under the tent category, but they are much stronger and weathertight.

Why a yurt you ask?
Well if the pictures alone haven't sold you, here are more of the bennies:
-They are cheap (a 12 foot one starts at $4,000 and you can get a 30 foot one for $10,000)
-Two people can sBoldet up a yurt in two days. 
-They look pretty
-It is portable.  You can easily disassemble and reset it up somewhere else
-You get a feeling of being in nature, it blends well with the landscape

Do they last very long?
Yes, if you take good care of it, the yurt will probably last your lifetime.  The frame will last your lifetime, and the outside will need some maintenance.  The cover has a 15 year guarantee.
-Do you really stay warm?
Yes, people have lived in the coldest regions.  You can heat the whole thing with a little, cozy wood stove.  The companies that sell them use the same insulation that NASA developed.  If astronauts in outerspace can stay warm I guarantee you will be toasty in Minnesota as well.
-Would I have to take a leek in the backyard?

Of course not!  Plumbing can easily be brought up through the floor.  Some people have set up a separate little room for a bathroom, or you can put up some interior partition walls for privacy, or a cute curtain.
What about electricity?
Yes, the outlets are usually on the floor.
Where do I get a yurt?
So glad you asked.  There are several reputable companies who have been making beautiful yurts for years. 
 I recommend Pacific Yurt Company
You can learn much more from looking at these websites.

Seriously, why do people live in double wides when you can live in one of these- at the same, if not lower cost?  Yes, I have put some fancy pictures up to show you just how nice they can be.  The ones pictured probably cost a little more money, but definitely not six figures.  Maybe you have been in one to warm up on a cross country ski trip, or maybe you have seen one outside of a ski resort.  I'm just curious, have you guys heard of a yurt, whaddya think?  

Monday, April 27, 2009

Earth Day Fair

Creative bags from old sports balls

that cute little boy in the background was covered head to toe in chalk, too cute!
very cool farmers market

There was a big earth day fair here on Saturday.  I had a good time.  I picked up some good info on composting and better ways to recycle.  They were giving away a few goodies.  There were people selling some cool art using recycled jewelry.  Booths were set up to educate about recycling, composting, ways to reduce waste, and many other interesting things.  

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Around the Corner

Today I'm taking you with my on my daily walk around the corner.  There are too many gorgeous flowers I just need to share.
So this is Sacks.  It's my little internet/caffeine fix for the day.  It's where I blend in and pretend to be a student!  It is so packed in here.  I just counted 8 Macbooks, too funny.  And way too much intellectual banter goes on here.  Everyone is saving the planet.  They make the best white mochas.

This is the crime scene from yesterday's post.  It's the other big house on the opposite end of the block.  The lemon tree is the big one in the front.
Bird's of paradise are so cool.  I can't believe people can grow these here on the side of the curb.
I think this is the same flower I wore in my hair on my wedding day.
Our neighbors front yard, I always stop to smell the roses.  I love people's yards here.  They don't always have grass.  They have flowers and many plants.  You can see the front of our place, it resembles a jungle.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I am a Lemon Thief

Yes, it's true.  I saw it lying there on the ground, it must have just fallen.  So that's not technically stealing is it, if it's on the ground?  I couldn't help myself.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Free For Earth Day

This months issue of my favorite magazine is free to view online until April 29.  Click here to get Cloth Paper Scissors and Quilting Arts.

Last Week

Shame on me, I haven't been sharing what I have been up to.  I am at a loss for words to describe it here.  It's so many of the little things that add up together to make Berkeley a purely blissful place.  I will do a little recap of this week.
Dan and Neal came to visit me here on Tuesday.  We had an unsuccessful attempt at frisbee golfing in Aquatic Park (too many people lounging on the course).  We did go up to my favorite spot Claremont Canyon to check out a beautiful sunset.  We were disappointed we didn't bring our cameras, but I am thankful for cell phone cameras, better than nothing.  Of course I took them to get ice cream at Ici.  We had dinner at Adagia.  A good day.
Saturday was Cal day, the day for visitors to come and check out the school.  Here are African drummers and dancers performing.  Free music performances were going on all day.  The admission to the art museum was free.  I spent hours there.  It was such a great variety of art.  There was a big exhibit on how the artists responded to a changing world.  Creative exhibits were displayed that captured a little bit of the foreign land each artist visited.  The curator did such an awesome job with displaying an eclectic mix of art work.  Too often at museums I get bored because they are all certain types of paintings from a specific era.  I saw everything from Pollock, to Warhol, to Rembrandt.  There were a few metal mechanical sculptures I found fascinating.  The campus has so many great places to explore.  The art students had a print sale so I was able to snag 5 pieces for $10 and I learned more about different printing processes from the students.  I got a pink giraffe that was made using the drypoint technique.  I was drooling at their classroom.
It was hot this week.  I swam some laps at the pool that's only a few blocks from us.  I love this pool because after I'm done with the laps, I can lay out on the grassy hill when I'm done and look out and see the golden gate bridge.
This is our next door neighbors front gate.  The roses are gorgeous.  This is just a glimpse into all the blooming going on around here.  I'm going to do a whole post on pictures from my walk.
And here is my new friend.  The neighbor is gone for a few weeks so their dog is keeping me company.  We're going on daily walks.  A friend is just what I needed!

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Botanical Gardens

Agave Plant
In Italy Dandelions grow in bushes.  This is not called a dandelion bush, but that's what it is!

This is called a Strawberry plant.  Another one from Italy.  Italians must be confused when they see our strawberries.

This was in the carnivorous plant greenhouse.
There were so many different types of cactus

On Easter we spent the afternoon at the botanical gardens in Berkeley.  We also went on a hike, then enjoyed dinner at a Louisiana Cajun style restaurant.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Day in SF

Sam had a day off two weeks ago and we headed to San Francisco.  Sam didn't get a chance to check much out when we were first there apartment hunting.  We started out at the Ferry Building, then looked at the sea lions, and then rented bikes.  We biked across the Golden Gate Bridge and I must say that we had the most beautiful sunny day.  There was hardly a breeze.  We biked to Sausalito and had some pizza at Poggio's.  We had some wine from San Gimignano (we were there in Italy on our honeymoon)  I've never seen wine at a restaurant from that area here, so it was fun.  

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Book Review

Irresistible Revolution

This book is so great, it's full of so much good stuff. It is a little heavy on the social justice.  Today I think it is necessary to be reminded that we can live a different way in today's American society. I find myself putting my objects, all the stuff I have above God. I also put my family ahead of God. It is so easy in our society to put work, family, and the American dream above God. To serve ourselves more than others. So I think this book is very valuable in seeing a dramatically different radical way of living in giving up all the stuff and serving God. The Bible was written for us, not to us. But I think we tend to really see the Bible as great stories of the way people lived, but we can't imagine living the way Paul lived today here in America. We can emulate that lifestyle today and Shane Claiborne gives a great testimony in doing it.  He has been arrested for helping the poor, he struggles, and he has suffered. I am so na├»ve, I didn't realize that it was possible to suffer in that way defending the gospel here in America. He lives among the poor and homeless. He makes friends with them and helps them out as much as possible. Oh, and of course I love this book because I have to respect a guy who has also lived in a van down by the river! :)  The book made me feel uncomfortable, but I believe that is a good thing.  I had the feeling, well, that's nice that he can do that, but I don't think I'm called to do that.  I tried telling myself it was way too heavy on the social justice.  If I'm honest with myself, the only reason I feel that way is because deep down I know he's right.  I'm sure if Jesus was around today he'd be seen on the streets making connections,helping, and healing the poor and homeless.  Shane doesn't come across as self righteous, in fact he's quite humble, but it's easy to feel like he is, because again, I feel guilty that I don't think I'll ever have the strength and courage to do what he is doing.  I highly recommend reading this book.  You can read a chapter from the book right here.

Here is a little excerpt:

“One thing I've learned from believers and activists alike is that community can be built around a common self-righteousness or around a common brokenness. Both are magnetic. People are drawn toward folks who have it all together, or who look like they do. People are also drawn toward folks who know they don't have it all together and are not willing to fake it.

Christianity can be built around isolating ourselves from evildoers and sinners, creating a community of religious piety and moral purity. That's the Christianity I grew up with. Christianity can also be built around joining with the broken sinners and evildoers of our world crying out to God, groaning for grace. That's the Christianity I have fallen in love with.”

Monday, April 6, 2009

Ice Cream and Shopping

Jess and I had a most perfect Saturday in the Elmwood district of Berkeley.  First, we walked into Treehouse Green gifts.  All the organic, and green gifts are so fun.  We couldn't resist getting a few more onesies for the little guy.  Then we had a late lunch at a little Italian place.

Of course, there is always room for dessert.  An ice cream shop must be good if there is always a line out the door, no matter the time.  10 am, yup, 9 pm of course.  Jessica and I decided to see what the buzz was all about.  Ici is the best ice cream shop=ever!  Everything in this area tastes so good.  It's because everything is made lovingly from scratch with only the best ingredients.   The menu changes daily.  If I weigh 20 pounds more when I next see you, you now know why, as this shop is only 3 blocks from me!  

Walking around the corner, we happened to spy a shop with cute awning with a pretty little window.  We decided to check it out.  We walked by, ice cream in hand and saw the sign that said, please ring the doorbell.  We were scared.  We definitely knew we had to finish the ice cream before venturing in.  I'm still not sure why the doorbell, but I'm glad we went in.  Every detail of this place was amazing.  There was a pretty green  satin bow around a gorgeous bird cage with real doves inside.  Each piece of furniture that displayed all the goodies was hand picked, they even had a venetian chandelier.  I couldn't stop starting.  We both found plenty of goodies.  This place probably changes weekly, so I must return to The Tail of the Yak to see what other treasures they have to sell me!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Budgeting is Fun



Well, not really, but these cute pouches sure help.  Sam and I have started budgeting using the cash only method.  We realized that our money kept coming in and then going out, and we didn't really know where.  This way we are held accountable for our spending habits.  We withdraw a certain amount of cash at the beginning of each week and divide it up into our 6 categories (groceries, thrifting, entertainment, eating out, giving, and then the leftover fund).  (My eating out bag isn't finished yet.)  We put the money in the envelopes, and when it's gone, it's gone.  I decided to make fun little bags to house the money because the envelope thing just wasn't very fun, and they got all ripped up and tattered.  This has not been the easiest thing to do.  I think the hardest category is groceries for me, I can easily spend a ton of money on food, the little wannabe gourmet foodie in me wants only the best!  We have been pretty good on most of the other areas.  It has been tempting to buy more, but I must admit we haven't stepped into Target or Wal-Mart all year.  I did slip up and buy a shirt while I was visiting Jess here in SF, I'm hoping that can be the only clothing article I'll buy all year.  I know this isn't for everyone and we definitely have areas where we splurge.  It does take some discipline, and we definitely don't have it mastered.  It takes a few weeks to tweak it just right, to know how much you need for each category.  We don't have categories for our fixed expenses, they are on auto pay.  This is just really good for us because we want to be more giving with our money, but it just wasn't happening before.  As Christ followers I think it's important to be good stewards of our money.  I felt we were just selfishly spending it all on ourselves without designating money to give.  Now we have money to give, just how to spend it-- that my friends is a whole other blog post.  

(oh, and in case you're wondering the cute linen printed fabric is Japanese fabric from a little boutique in San Francisco, and the fun ribbon and twill trims is from a fabric shop here in Berkeley.  I'll be making some more to put in my shop.  I used stayz on ink and rubber stamps and stamped them on the twill tape.  I had fun experimenting with a little quilting.)