Divine intervention

Eric has said many times that it seems things just happen in my life. This can be good or bad, but regardless, I always seem to fall into things. And if I think about it, I can see that trend myself.

After college, I left my job at a candy store to pursue a “real” job. I had joined the volunteer fire department by then, and I was using a newspaper to look for jobs because both of my parents worked in journalism, so it was a natural choice. That’s how I found an opening for part-time/temporary full-time 9-1-1 dispatchers. I had no experience, but I still applied, won them over, and got the job. Dispatching was a lot of fun.

When I lived in Seattle, my first job was at Target, and I took that job because it meant I didn’ t have to live in my car; I could actually get an apartment and stay there. But after I met Eric, I wanted more, and he let me borrow his computer a few times. I browsed Craig’s List a lot for furniture, and I decided to take a look at jobs one day. A quasi-local nonprofit (Seattle Goodwill) had a job posting for a Risk and Safety Support Specialist. I applied, hoping that my background in the fire service would help. I was the third applicant, the third interview, and I got the job. My boss from that job and I are still close.

I had some strange health problems in Seattle, and I went to an alternative specialist when nothing else seemed to work. While there, I read an article about Teach for America, and it inspired me to apply, which I did, and I was accepted. If we hadn’t moved to Arkansas via TFA, Eric would not have gotten the job at US Steel, so he would no manufacturing experience, and wouldn’t have gotten the job that brought us here. I also would not have learned that I am actually good at math.

Which brings me to today. While I was at work, a nice gentleman who works at a local university had some exchanges, and as I helped him with his transaction, we started talking. I mentioned that I have been considering going back for an engineering degree, and it just so happens that he knows most everyone in the engineering department. He gave me some great information, left me with his card, and told me to call him any time. He had some great advice, and I left today feeling rather confident.

There have been many times that I mull over decisions I’ve made and conclude that I screwed up somewhere. I didn’t go to Stanford (so I didn’t have student loans); I never moved to England (so I met my husband); I joined TFA, so have struggled to find a job because most people wonder why I’m not teaching (I love my job now). But today I watched all of those pieces that had to fall in line just so I could have a conversation with a complete strange who showed the utmost faith in my ability to go back to school and excel.

Maybe he didn’t give me a free pass into the college, but he’s given me the exact boost that I needed to start making things happen. It’s great that a lot of things in my life fall into place on their own, but I think it’s time for me to push a few of those bits into place.

In other news: Eric is coming home early this weekend, so I will have to put off working on his Christmas present until Tuesday and Wednesday when I have some time off. This is not a bad thing; it just means a further delay in my actual crafting blog. 🙂

Twofer Tuesday 2: Project update

Well, I am about 8 hours…I think…into the cross stitch/needlepoint project, and this is where I’ve gotten:

One carafe and a few lines…

I appreciate that there is actually one complete(ish) shape done. And I appreciate that I’ve already gone through two of the very long strands of thread that they supplied.

But 8 hours! And this is all I have to show for it. I should have started with one of the easy, colorful, annoying ones. I may not have liked the image, but it would have gone faster. Maybe.

I remain convinced that finishing this will be like completing a triathlon.

So, um…

I think I mentioned some other project being an exercise in patience. That was a lie – a dirty, stinkin’ lie. Well, not a lie, but ignorance.

I hadn’t done cross stitching – real cross stitching – yet.

Last Friday, for my “weekend” project, I picked out a cross stitch kit at work and brought it home, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Saturday, of course, I opened the kit and found a complex maze of directions, a tangle of threads, and a needle. While I was a little intimidated, I did not give up!

Reading the directions about three times, I found the center of my cloth, pulled out some strands of the appropriate thread and began the pattern.

I was 7 stitched in before realizing there was a problem…

I even had the mind to use one of the round frames that mom had sent me in the mail.

But about thirty minutes and seven stitches into the first color, I realized there was a problem. I was swiftly approaching the bottom of the cloth – much faster than I should have been. The problem was that I was not doing it right! Shocker.

As it turns out, when you do real cross stitch, you have to make tiny, tiny stitches, one over each tiny square. You don’t skip spots or anything. So I got to pull out the thread, using the needle to move back the way it came.

But once I had it figured it out, I was rolling!

Kind of.

Here is where I got after working off and on all weekend. I would say this represents about 4.5 hours of work.

The whole pitcher isn’t even done yet!

I have three colors’ worth of shading done on one piece of the picture. Only about 97% left to go!

I might actually finish this by Christmas. And then it will be my gift to myself. And don’t worry. I will post updates as I have them.


Super Birthday Project Complete!

Last week, I bought the initial materials to make my brother’s birthday gifts. I have officially finished the project, and it is sitting at my dining room table, waiting for a box, so it can be shipped.

As I was making some finishing touches last night, I started musing on the benefits on homemade gift-giving. Apart from the obvious “it comes from the heart” bits of the homemade preference, I started wondering about cost, etc. So I am breaking that down using this project. Just as a preface, I think the homemade thing is cooler in general, and I will continue to make gifts if I can. I was just curious about this bit.

The Cost of Store-Bought

  • Spider Man Curtains with drapes and valance: combined $16 on Amazon.
  • Marvel Fleece Throw: $14 to $30 on Amazon.
  • Comic Sound-Effects Pillow: $13 to $25 on Etsy for most similar item (smaller throw pillow).
  • DC logo wall art:  $13 per logo x 3 logos = $39, not including framing.
  • Frame for ordered art: $7 and up

Total: $89 to $130ish

The lower end is not bad, obviously. Online shopping lends itself to lower prices, but for some of the items that I made, I would have had to move into the online hand-made sellers (art prints on Etsy) or art galleries online. The cost would have come from some of the more stream-lined items that I made (pictures at the end!).

Of course, the other issue is that I would have had just clicked a few buttons to get these items, so not much care would have gone into them. Also, I would not have ended up with the extra fabric that I now can use for other projects, which brings me to…

The Cost of Hand-Made

  • 4 yards of Spider Man fabric: $30 at Joann Fabric **2 yards left over = $15 for fabric used
  • 2 yards of Sound Effects fabric: $15 at Joann Fabric **1 yard left over = $7.50 for fabric used
  • No-sew fleece throw w/ Marvel Heroes: $20 at Joann Fabric.
  • Polyester Filler: $3 at Joann Fabric.
  • Frame for hand-made wall art: $5.25 w/ discount at Michaels.

Total: $50.25 for used items, $78.25 total

Even without taking out the cost of the left-over materials I have, I spent less by making the gifts. If you don’t count the extra fabric, then I spent a little more than  half of the lowest cost of buying pre-made goods.

One might argue that I should calculate the cost of my time. I spent, all told, about 10 hours working on this project. In order for me to calculate the time, I need to determine what that time is worth based on what other tasks I might have been doing otherwise. The answer of course is…nothing. I love to craft. Had I not been making curtains, I would have been making something else. If anything, I would say that the added benefit of doing something I enjoyed for ten hours in one week would drive the cost down.

All told, I am happy with how most of the items came out. I hope they look good in his room.

The final bit was this:

Is that the Justice League calling?

Last night, I decided I wanted to make something that would grow up with him a bit more – something that had a little bit of a modern feel to it. I cut up some card stock into 4×6 rectangles, and since I had already sent some money toward Marvel, I thought I would show DC some love, too.

These were relatively easy to make, all things told. The hardest part was the Superman logo because I wanted to make sure the proportions were right. Nothing a ruler and protractor can’t help with, though. I also did not have my Crayola green marker, so I had to improvise and use a Vis-a-Vis wet-erase marker for the logo on the Green Lantern’s and a Sharpie for the background. It still came out okay, though. The best part? With the exception of the frame, this part of the project cost nothing. And the frame, as I noted above, I got a discount on, so it was less than $6. It came out better than I’d hoped, and I think it will make a great final touch.

So that’s it!

One week, 10 hours’ work, and $50 made my brother some nice new additions to his Super Bedroom.

Next on the docket: a tote bag.

The only gift I didn’t make – some Super Stickers!

Curtain, valance, blanket, pillow, and wall art – made by me!