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Archive for the ‘Resolutions 2014’ category

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to use my fancy-schmancy sewing machine that I purchased last year to make 3 useable/wearable items. Last year, I made a silky flowered maxi dress but it didn’t turn out quite as well as I would have liked and so it lives under my bed. I know that the only was to get good at something is to practice, so that’s what I aim to do: practice sewing. There are some basic and foundational skills that I am not very good at!

Since I am out of school for the Summer, I have had a lot of free time on my hands and I have turned my attention towards making some of those resolutions happen. The first one that I started with is making a skirt. I’ve had this pattern for quite some time. I actually bought it awhile ago with some black fabric and black lace to make a pencil skirt, but never started the project. But, I thought that the other version of the skirt would be a great (and simple) project to get my going.

I went to Wal-Mart and picked out some inexpensive fabric and all the notions to go along with the pattern. For this particular item I needed less than 2 yards of fabric, thread, half-inch binding, a zipper, and a hook and eye. I already have hooks and eyes and thread, so I just needed to pick out the fabric, binding, and a zipper.

I selected a blue flower printed cotton-bend for my fabric. And, pulling from the dark purple/navy color of the flowers, went with a navy zipper and binding. Later that afternoon, I came home and threw my fabric into the washer to pre-shrink it before cutting out my pattern. One mistake that I have been making in the past was selecting my modern-day garment size. With patterns, there is a huge difference! Our manufactured clothing has changed its sizing over the years–call it vanity sizing or whatever you want, but back in the day there was no such thing as a size 0, or 00! But, patterns have not undergone these changes. For instance, in most skirts I would buy anywhere from a 4-8, just depending on the manufacturer/retailer. If it’s a “juniors” item, I would need a larger size and if it’s a “misses” a smaller size. But, for my pattern I selected size “16.” I selected this size based off my measurements and the information on the back of the pattern envelope. Plus, I know that I can make a too large skirt smaller, but that a too-small skirt is worthless to me!

The next day, I ironed my fabric and pattern pieces. Then, I pinned the pattern to my fabric and cut it out, making sure to follow all layout directions. Then, it was time to get sewing! This part went pretty quickly–all that I had to do was sew the front to the back, put in the zipper, add the binding along the waist, and then hem the bottom. The only part that gave me a bit of trouble was the binding! Plus, I wanted to make sure that I took my time and didn’t rush. That’s what usually gets me into trouble—I get so excited that I rush through the process and I make small mistakes along that way that end up magnified in the end and render a garment unusable.

Once I had the skirt all assembled, I did need to make some fit adjustments. I took it in about 2 inches on the side. This made it so that the skirt fits me and doesn’t fall off! I actually could have taken it in a tiny bit more, but I didn’t want to risk it. All in all, the skirt turned out well. I think now that I have one under my belt, I could make a few more and really perfect the fit!

Flowered Skirt 5

I am planning on using this pattern, with lots of adjustments, for another skirt! I want to do a black skirt, but I want it to have two tiers, the bottom one being about and inch or so longer than the top layer. Also, I am thinking about forgoing the zipper entirely, and using a two or three-inch black elastic for the waist. I want it to be sort of casual skirt. This is what I (somewhat) envision the final product to be like, here.

What do you think?  Any intermediate or advanced sewers out there have any tips for this novice?  I’m all ears.

-Carla

Running Shoes

May 19 may seem like an odd choice of day to write an update on my New Year’s Resolutions because it is not significant.  It’s not a “milestone” day– end of the first month, first quarter, tri-annual, or that I’ve achieved a big goal.  Rather, it is just a day where I have some time to sit down and devote to this post.

Last Friday was my last teaching day for Spring 2014 and that afternoon I completed the last batch of final grades and sent my syllabus, attendance records, and grade book off to our department secretary to file away.  Summer classes start in 2 weeks from today.  I was scheduled for a Summer class, but received an e-mail today saying that it was cancelled due to low enrollment.  This is not ideal, so please say a prayer that a class is added and I am assigned to it!  Although a break is always nice (and I’ve got a wish list of things to do a mile long) I need money to fund many of my goals: DSLR, travel, clothes and makeup acquisition, etc.  So, we will see how this all pans out.

As a reminder, here are the goals that I set at the start of this year:
Health/Well Being

  • drink more water (6 eight ounce glasses, per day.)
  • work out (3x’s per week. Cardio and weights)
  • lose 4 lbs. by 2/27/2014
  • Brush teeth/ remove makeup nightly before bed

Finances/Work

  • pay off credit card debt by end of year
  • look into student loans
  • retirement plan/savings
  • future planning with teaching–check out options/other schools

Misc.

  • cultivate/improve friendships
  • travel more
  • blog- regular posting, organization, ad revenue
  • read 12 books
  • sew/make stuff (3 useable items by end of year)

Let’s go in reverse order, just for fun!  In the misc. category, I haven’t made anything with my sewing machine this year.  The most that I have done with it is hem several pairs of jeans and work pants.  I invested in a quality sewing machine not that long ago, and I need to practice sewing in order to become proficient at it!  Perhaps that could be a good project for me in the next few weeks?  A simple apron or circle skirt?

I have been reading a book a month, give or take.  Right now I am reading The Goldfinch, a 700+ page book by Donna Tartt.  Next up on my reading list is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

I think that I can say I have posted to my blog with regularity!  I attempted to post Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday but that wasn’t always the case.  However, I did always post all 5 outfits from the week.  The organization and ad revenue could use some more time and attention and this is one of my top priorities over the next few weeks.

As far as traveling goes, I have a trip planned for Las Vegas at the end of the Summer, but that is all dependent on finances and income and not teaching this Summer would be a huge blow to the Vegas or Bust travel fund.

Lastly, I am working on improving friendships.  Time is a big factor in this one.  Now that I don’t have to get up early for class three days a week and spend time each day prepping for class I should be able to devote some time and attention here.

All in all, not a bad job on the category of Misc.  I just need some more quantifiable results.

Finances and work is always an on-going category for me.  I am diligently working on paying off my credit card by the end of the year, but it is difficult.  My head easily gets overwhelmed with all the possibilities of what to do with any extra money—should I pay extra on my car payment, put it towards student loans, make an extra large payment on my credit card, save it in case I have a bad week at work, etc.?!?!?  Sometimes I feel that I am trying to put a little extra here, there, and everywhere and it would just be better to put all resources towards one goal so that I have a feeling of accomplishment and then can use that momentum towards the next goal.  (If anyone has any financial advice I would be interested to hear it!)

Student loans are solid for now, I just need to keep making my monthly payments on time.  The retirement plan and savings is not happening right now and I am kinda okay with that.  Again, it goes back to the idea of trying to save for something when I have the debt cloud looming over my head.  I’ve sort of come to terms with putting aside retirement savings to pay off debt.  That could prove to be a major mistake when I am trying to retire and have no money, but again I am open to any financial advice one may have. . . .

Lastly, is looking into other teaching opportunities.  With the idea that I may not have a Summer class and currently only have one Fall class this is a very real thing.  I have recently looked into what the other colleges and universities around me require for application, as well as looking into several teaching certificates and programs.  I sound like a broken record, but now that I have some free time I am going to spend it applying for positions at other schools.

The goals for this category have changed drastically.  I have chosen not to do some of these items in lieu of making other goals.  We will see how this pans out in the long run.

The health/well being category was where I launched my focus back in January.  But, for making it the star of all my attention, I have to admit that you can’t really tell.  First of all, I did drink more water, but only for a month and then I would stop.  And then I would come back to it, and then I would stop.  The same is true with working out.  There were so many factors working against me (the long, cruddy Winter, teaching 5 days and working 3 nights at my other job, a mini-vacation, etc.) and I wasn’t able to overcome all of them.  On January 2, 2014 I weighed 132.2.  I attempted to lose 4 lbs. by my Florida vacation at the end of February, but on 2/27/14 I was at 129.8—only a deficit of 2.4 lbs.  Over the next few months I would bounce around from 129.8 to 134.2.  This feels like the 3rd campaign that I have started this year to lose 5 lbs.  My weight used to always hover around 127-129.  But now, for whatever reason it hovers around 132-134.  I am not happy about this, but changing it is always very difficult and hard.  Again, I am hoping that now that I have more time I can add more physical activity into my routine and that the Spring/Summer like weather will be a big help.  In the last 90 days, I have worked out 18 times– which is a far cry from the 3x’s per week that I wanted.  It’s about half of my goal.  And recognizing this is the first step!

Lastly, I attempted to remove all of my makeup and brush my teeth nightly before bed.  I did well for the first month and then I didn’t see the dramatic improvement in my skin that I was hoping for, so I gave up on it.  This is something that I need to go back to!  I need to do it for more than just the short term, and I know this.

So, there you have it.  I think that I’ve been dreading this post because I haven’t been very successful with my goals this year.  Last year I was much more diligent and stayed on top of them and I feel made better progress.  This year, I pushed too many of them to the back burner and didn’t make them a priority.  And, surprise surprise—look what happened (or didn’t happen, I guess).  But, I feel that doing this check-up is a good starting point because now I know what I need to do to get back on track where I want to be!

Thanks for reading, I know that this one had a lot of words and almost no pictures!

-Carla

Running Shoes

There is no outfit post to share with you since I didn’t have to teach on Friday.  But, instead it’s time to do a New Year’s Resolution 2014 Check-In post.  I’ve been dreading doing this post because this one isn’t so fun.  But, you should know that sometimes you have to take the good with the bad.

As a reminder, here are the goals I made:

Health/Well Being

  • drink more water (6 eight ounce glasses, per day.)
  • work out (3x’s per week. Cardio and weights)
  • lose 4 lbs. by 2/27/2014
  • Brush teeth/ remove makeup nightly before bed

Finances/Work

  • pay off credit card debt by end of year
  • look into student loans
  • retirement plan/savings
  • future planning with teaching–check out options/other schools

Misc.

  • cultivate/improve friendships
  • travel more
  • blog- regular posting, organization, ad revenue
  • read 12 books
  • sew/make stuff (3 useable items by end of year)

The area’s that I was focusing most on—health and well being are where I have slacked off, Big Time!  I was doing really well with working out, drinking water, and all that good stuff.  And then one day I just hit a wall.  I don’t know why, really.  But, I decided that I was tired of logging everything that I ate and not getting to have “treats.”  And so I had fast food a few days in a row, made a gluttonous meal at home, cookies and treats, etc.  I still worked out, but not with regularity and intensity.

I also broke my streak of washing off my makeup and brushing my teeth nightly.  I just got fed up one day and said, “No.”  I was depressed because I thought that after doing it every night for a month I would see a dramatic improvement in my acne, but I didn’t see any improvement.  It was easy for me to get discouraged.  And then, I weighed myself and the scale went up instead of down.  Sometimes that happens, especially to women with hormones and the monthly changes that our bodies go through.  But, it stinks to spend 5 weeks working towards a goal to discover that you haven’t made any progress.  I’ve been putting off weighing myself for the past few days because I know that I’ve been eating fast food, candy, and junk and the scale is going to tell me that.  But, I guess on 2/27 that I need to weigh in and see where we are.  I’m at the point where I need to re-commit or come up with a new goal!

Finances is mostly looking good, because I make progress every month when I pay my bills!  But, I haven’t made any great strides with retirement planning or looking into other teaching opportunities.  We are starting to do scheduling for Summer and Fall semester, so when I see how things are looking I will have a better handle on that.  Also, I’m going to be doing my taxes soon and that’s always a good time marker to delve into finances.

Misc. category is a little all over the place.  I don’t know of anything substantial that I have done to cultivate friendships.  But, I do have a trip planned soon that will help with the “travel more” goal.  Also, I’ve been trying to keep up with a regular blogging schedule even in the midst of all the cancelled class days and what not.  I did re-read a second book, The Handmaid’s Tale, and I will be posting my thoughts about it shortly.  Lastly, I haven’t used my sewing machine to make anything, but I did use it to hem three pairs of work pants the other day!

I guess I thought that things were in a worse state than they actually are!  I’ve been feeling pretty bad about myself since I haven’t kept up with the health and well-being goals.  But, I just need to re-commit, I think.  And, if anyone has any good book recommendations, I’m all ears because I would like to start a new book very soon–like, tomorrow!

-Carla