Falling Away: Book Review

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With Falling Away I thought Penelope Douglas was wrapping up her Fall Away series. This is a series I’ve followed since the beginning. Jared and Tate get the first two books. Each book being told from their own individual perspective and having different sets of details. Rival, the third book in the series, which I reviewed here, was Fallon and Madoc story which I loved above the first two books and I loved them a great deal. Now with Falling Away we get Jax and KC’s story. This was a story that you could see building in previous books but I really had no idea how she was going to pull it off. Jax and KC seem to be polar opposites. Jax is a couple of years younger than KC. KC is kind of a pampered and disloyal princess, or at least that is what you see at first. Douglas takes characters that seem to be one thing on the surface and introduces us to the wide array of depth and complexity that they both share.

We start out with KC landing herself back in home for the summer to do community service after a rather un-KC like stunt with her idiot exboyfriend Liam landed her in jail. This is the first glimpse we get, in all the books, that KC is more than meets the eye. She loses her temper, throws a rather violent butter knife related fit and somehow lands herself in community service tutoring at the high school she left a few years ago right back in her own home town. Jax is going to a more local college, living in the house he used to share with his stepmom and brother and rather mysteriously earning income from Fallon’s mysteriously connected and more than a little shady father.

A lot of things come to a head in this book. A lot of questions you might have had previously in the other books about the other characters, the side characters and especially KC and Jax find a resolution in Falling Away. I would definitely recommend picking it up if you haven’t already as well as the three previous books in her series. This book could be read as a stand alone but you are going to enjoy it a great deal more if you have the back story on the other characters. I really enjoyed Falling Away…mostly. What I did not enjoy was the constant tug of war. While this was a theme in the first two Fallen Crest novels, the third one, Rival, pretty much escapes that pattern, but we see it return in Falling Away and frankly I can do without it. In spite of that, this is a great book. The sex scenes are just incredible. Her sex scenes have definitely improved over time. I don’t read a book for the smut scenes, but hers are definitely out of the ordinary. They are not what you would expect. When you get to the end there is a bonus Jared and Tate scene that will not at all be what you expect. I was pretty shocked. All the Fall Away novels are available on Amazon. Falling Away is linked here. 

What have you been reading lately?

 

Self Promotion: A few tips for the hopeless introvert

I was a quiet child. I am generally a self possessed adult. I try to listen more than talk. A rather gifted woman who makes her living reading people once told me that I have the sort of aura that is like wings and they are almost always folded around me. I suppose this is a fairly apt description. Perhaps it is my personality then that makes it so hard for me self advertise. I know others do it. Most crafty business people must self advertise to get there businesses off the ground and I am no different. However actually doing it is harder for me than it should be. I am not very good at declaring what I make and why it is awesome to everyone I meet. This year I hope to be better.

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This year I want to network and grow and build. I want to showcase my work and build a greater base of customers and make it self sustaining so that maybe one day it can be something great. Accomplishing all of this is going to take a lot of self promotion. So how do I do that? Well I don’t have all the answers to that question yet but here are a few ways I am working on it.

1. Run a giveaway!
I just finished a giveaway that I got several other crafters involved in. I not only promoted on my blog and FB pages, but with previous satisfied customers and even on my own Facebook. This was hard for me. I generally hate to be one of those people that gushes about whatever she is working on, at least on FB, but I wanted this to be successful and part of my goal this year is to be more comfortable with self promotion.

2. Join local crafting pages and site

This might now make sense at first, but my first custom order of the year came because I follow the North Alabama Crafters page on FB and when someone was looking for a maker to create some items for her sons nursery I jumped right in and said I could do it. Truthfully I was exceptionally nervous about taking on such an enormous project, especially since I was working with some new mediums. It turned out great and the client was pleased and I now have a few new skills under my belt. I had to put myself out there!

3. Get an instagram

Yeah, I know that some people don’t like it because they own your pictures, or because taking a picture of their work or concepts and throwing it out there on the internet for all to see can be scary. However my most recent custom order came because someone saw some work I was doing and wondered if I could make something specifically for them. It is an effective tool. And free. Use it.

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I don’t have all the keys of self promotion, but those are a few I know have worked for me. How do you self promote your craft or business?

Thrifty Thursday: The Baby Inventory

As I have previously highlighted, Steven and I may be slightly OCD about to be parents. I like to think my latest venture is partly because of that and partly because planning ahead saves a ton of money when it comes to children and what they need to be happy, healthy and well dressed. As the original Tightwad highlighted in her Tightwad Gazette collection having an idea of what you need to buy or what you are going to need allows you to be on the lookout for deals and not over pay at the last minute when you actually need what ever the item in question is. In this particular case I am addressing having a new baby specifically though the principal can be applied to any age or any item or project.

When I found out I was pregnant I immediately stared to panic a little. Not because I didn’t think I could take care of a baby, I long ago got over that fear, but because 8 months is the window in which I wanted to be prepared for whatever I felt like baby Carl was going to need. And so was born the spreadsheet. After consulting the Tightwad Gazette and refreshing my memory on Mrs. Dacyczyn’s technique I adapted it to fit my own needs. Adding categories she did not have and approaching it from a bigger picture angle.

Baby spreadsheetClick on the picture to get a better view

My spreadsheet is 5 pages. I have a page for MSC things which is the page above, a page for diapering, feeding, Nursery, and clothing. The clothing spreadsheet goes from newborn to 5T, the diapering spreadsheet goes from newborn to potty training. I have potty trained children before so I have a general idea of when I want to do this with my own baby and how long it should theoretically take. That is not an approach everyone will take. With the clothes I know I am having a boy, I know he will eventually grow to need clothes from newborn to adult sizes so buying up to three years in advance makes sense to me. I would be happy to share my spreadsheet with anyone that would like it and I plan to further highlight the components of it and how I have aquired the various pieces and parts (aside from baby shower gifts of course) in a continuation of my Tuesday Labor class series starting in February. I hope you will all follow along.

What was your thrifty purchase this week?

Selling your Wares: Find a Friend

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If you have ever been to a craft fair you can appreciate the sense of style that each individual has. You can see it in the way their booth or selling space is set up. Everyone, even two people that sell similar items, will set up a little differently. It is always neat for me, even as a vendor, to go and see all of the neat ways that people have found to set up and just who is selling what and who is with them. Some people bring a family member, or spouse, or friend, or child, or even occasionally go by themselves.  Usually however they have a partner in crime of some variety. These types of events are just hard to do by oneself. I know. I’ve done it. It is much easier to set up a booth, sit or stand for 6-12 hours selling your wares, and then take down a space with someone else there for if nothing else moral support.

So how do you determine who to ask to tag along with you. Well in my case my sister is always glad to accompany me. She sits and cross stitches, we chat, I embroider or work on a new design concept and interact with the potential customers. I have also been lucky however in finding another crafter who sometimes will set up with me. My friend Abbe and I met last year somewhat serendipitously at Idle Wilde where we both contribute to the fantastic things happening at this new design line. I am mostly a books and figures person who only sews occasionally or by hand and Abbe is a bonified seamstress and a rather talented one at that. We met, talked, bonded over coffee and deadlines for production. I had been doing a few craft fairs here and there for a couple of years and had opened and closed an Etsy shop rather whimsically before this and Abbe had managed a rather successful children’s clothing and accessory line years ago prior to this. Both being creative people we had a natural jumping board for a new venture.

Abbe wanted to get into doing craft fairs again and I wanted someone to sell with me as splitting a booth fee is really and truly the only way to go. Those things can be ridiculous. So we partnered up. We managed probably 10 shows together last year. It is so much easier and better than it gives you a secure path into the local crafters network which can be a pain in the ass to attempt to navigate. While everyone is not going to want or seek a fellow maker to share space with I really recommend find a partner to do craft fairs with. It will make it so much easier. Find a friend, or a family member or fellow crafter.

Do you have a fellow crafter or friend that goes to shows with you?

Labor Class Pt 3: All about that breast

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I can’t believe we are already more than half way through labor class. It feels like we just got started yesterday. Thus far we have talked all about birth and the stages of Labor, what support people are supposed to do, when to come into L&D, and a ton of other subjects related to baby and birth. Tonight the topic was breastfeeding, C-sections, Postpartum and the recovery time. I will say that tonight actually answered a few more questions for me than previous weeks.

 

 

One of the first things we did was pass around the same type of tubing they leave in you with an epidural. While the idea of having that in me is not all that pleasant…neither is pushing a baby out of my vagina. I figure it is a lesser evil scenario. Anyway, after that she talked about breastfeeding. This is something I have been really interested in since the beginning. For one thing, if I have to give the baby formula…I’m going to be eating a lot of sandwiches…and I mean a lot. While there is nothing wrong with formula feeding if that’s what other people want to do it is not financially practical for me. Having said that I know shit happens. I’d just really prefer to breastfeed. It’s better for baby and more practical for me. She showed us a good graphic representation of the size of a newborns stomach which helped me because I had been really worried that my supply would be enough…their tummies are tiny…I’ll probably be fine if I can just be persistent. I’m really good at persistence. And really freaking stubborn. So no worries there. We watched another video, this one on breastfeeding. There were tons of cute newborns and lots of mom sharing their stories with tears and happy faces. It was good to actually see how it is supposed to be done but the video did bring something home with me that had been only previously nagging at me a little in the back of my mind.

I don’t have the “awe” response. Every other woman…and a few men in the class tonight would “ooh” and “awe” over all the cute babies and their cute little expressions and how they rooted around looking for a nipple. While I know its cute, Or at least I know it is supposed to be cute, I feel very little about it. Steven seems to think it is because I am inundated with children and most of those women and men have never even changed a diaper. Maybe he is right. I don’t know. When it is my own baby that I carried around nine months and labored over for god only knows how long I’m sure it will be cute and precious and I will get all hormonally awe struck. For now however a baby is a baby. And yeah its cute, but its also a handful and probably needs a diaper change.

The last part of class was about recovery and post partum. They have these lovely impossibly large pads that we all get to wear. And an ice pack especially for post labor. And a bottle for hot water to spray on your junk cause wiping is a no no. And throw away panties…And they are going to come in every fifteen minutes, “massage” your abdomen, which is apparently incredibly painful..so yeah. Sounds great. The nice thing is there is a two hour period of rest before they take you to a room where you don’t have to tell anyone the baby is out or deal with visitors. I’m happy about that. I have no desire to have a ton of visitors while I get over an epidural or attempt to breastfeed. Chances are I am not really going to want to deal with visitors at all but I will tolerate them a lot better two hours post labor than immediately afterwards. The closer I get to delivery the more sure I am that having visitors while in the hospital is not something I am going to enjoy. But that is a worry for a different day. All in all labor class was helpful this week. Next week we talk about newborn care which I don’t think I will get as much out of but it may surprise me.

DIY Valentines day decorating!

It is rare that I make the mistake of not saving as I go or not saving a post properly, but I am afraid with this post that is exactly what happened. In spite of that I just rewrote it and here we are! I don’t normally decorate for Valentines Day, but this first item on the round up caught my eye and inspired me to see what other neat Valentines decor I could find. Happy decorating!

1. This neat wreath from I’m Feelin Crafty comes with an easy to follow tutorial!

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2. This neat yard banner could be hung anywhere and you could sew it or even glue it together. Check out the tutorial here!

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3. This neat heart door decor could be sewn or glued just like the banner above and would come together in a snap. Get the tutorial from Junque 2 Jewels.

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4. I think these ombre sugar cubes were originally meant for a wedding but it would be quite awesome to have around when making tea or coffee this February.

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5. This decor piece takes a little more work but look how awesome it is. You can find the tutorial on Three Scoops of Love.

CUTEST Valentine mantle decoration!!! Piece of wood with initials carved in <3 <3 tooooooootally doing this!

6. These candles could do double duty as decor or gift and while there is no tutorial they are fairly self explanatory!

Valentine's craft/gift idea for the ladies in my family. But will need to be blinged-out, of course.

7.  I can’t wait for baby Carl’s first Valentines day just so we can make this sign! The tutorial is here at 517 Creations.

I have got to do this while the kids are still little!...

8. The tutorial is all in the picture in this neat heart garland!

#KatieSheaDesign ♡❤ ❥ ▶ heart crafts

9. There is not tutorial for this neat book page banner, but it would be easy enough to make. I love using vintage book pages for neat crafts like this!

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10. Of all the Valentines decor I found this is my favorite thing. I plan on making this today! It’s cute and cheap. Just click on the picture for a tutorial from Money Hip Mamas.

Tutorial for DIY Heart Tree. Plus other ideas for cute, cheap DIY Valentine's Decorations.

I hope you enjoyed all of those neat decor ideas! Do you have any Valentines decor planned?

Singing in the rain! And Pictures!

My family and I recently had pictures made, which was odd since we hadn’t really done that in years and not at all since the couple of new additions.  I think they turned out amazing!

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It was a dreary sort of day, but we had fun with it. We laughed and joked and generally made goofballs of ourselves.

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My siblings and I got a few good pictures. John and I compared bumps 😉

I even got a few really awesome shots of the bump.

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Mind you this is 21 weeks….which makes me a little bit afraid of how much I will grow in the coming weeks.

My favorite picture is this one.

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I generally do not like having my picture taken and Steven complains that I never look where I am supposed to. 😉 It must have been a good day because these pictures are awesome. If you need a photographer in North Alabama I can recommend a wonderful one. I am even a little excited for Maternity pictures in a few short weeks.

Let us go on singing in the rain!

 

Adventures in sewing: When things don’t go according to plan

You know that lovely feeling you get when you have moved things around and have a more workable space. In my case this was accompanied by a lovely feeling because getting things moved meant I was making room for baby. I got most of my fabric and sewing notions moved last week and put into place to be used. I sat down to sew on a few projects I had been working on. I loaded a new bobbin, turned the machine on and proceeded to sew. This lasted for about 15 seconds…until I heard a horrid noise and saw the tangled mess of bobbin thread. It was about that time that I realized my machine had locked up. So I calmly got the fabric pulled out, cut the threads, checked to make sure the bobbin was loaded correctly and tried again. Same results. At this point I am a little less calm. I mean I have jammed the machine before….but I just chugged right along after cutting the mess and trying again. That was not the case yesterday. I ended up taking the plate off and dusting inside, which my poor machine needed desperately. I put it back together, tried again, and nothing. Same results. So I switched needles. Same results.

I googled and messed with it for about three hours. My mom looked at it. I looked at some of the worlds most unhelpful Youtube videos. Still nothing…Finally I went to see Paddington (which was excellent) and let it go for the night.

I got up the next morning and frankly felt like poo. I left the heat on the night before while I was sleeping which is not a good idea for me right now. I was feeling pretty stuffed up, pregnant and miserable. I didn’t mess with the machine immediately. I let it sit a while during my morning routine of reading and writing and such. Finally I got around to looking at it again. I decided to just put the plate back on, change the thread and the bobbin again and see what happens. I figured I needed to do at least that before my friend took time from her busy day to come look at my stubborn machine. To my shock and slight irritation it worked….perfectly…like it was working just a few days before. I am clueless as to what I did that fixed it. I’m glad it is fixed but it annoying to not know what the problem was to being with. I think this is probably a good lesson for me with this upcoming baby. Sometimes the only solution is time.

What adventures in sewing have you had lately?

Thrifty Thursday: Zipper stash

Today’s thrifty purchase is this lovely pile of zippers. Most still have the original tags on them somewhere. There are about 6 dozen of various sizes and colors.

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I’m hoping to make several zippered pouches for the coming craft sale season and this is the perfect thing I needed for such a task.

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Now onto how much this pile cost me:

a wopping $3.00

In case you were wondering, this comes out to about $0.04 per zipper.

My thrifty tip for today: Go in with low expectations and always have a few dollars stashed away ready to invest in something that could be worth a lot more than you invested.

If I make and sell even one zippered pouch I will have recouped my original investment. Not to mention that I now have plenty of zippers to play around with on the various projects I want to try.