Monday, June 11, 2012

Itching to Stitch!

I'm sure I drove my friend S crazy today with a zillion emails on fabrics and sewing but she's sweet enough not to complain (love ya S!).  She's expecting a baby girl on October 8 - I am having a blast virtual shopping with her even if we aren't in the same city. 

After looking at all the blogs, fabric swatches and sewing websites, I'm dying to start a new sewing project. Although admittedly much of the things I admire are way above my sewing skill set.  Kind of like shopping and always falling in love with the most expensive dress.

I can't get too excited and post too much since my friend S will see this and gifts are better when they are surprises, right?  Plus, there's always the factor that if it's a total #fail then I can just pretend it never happened.  

Just look at this dress! Isn't it super sweet for a little girl? I think my nieces are too old for this (although it sizes up to 13/14) - but they might indulge me and wear it long enough to send a few photos back.  Just hard to compete with all the latest "must have" fashions that they are starting to like at that age. 

This would be adorable in any of these materials for the July 4th holiday!  I especially like the seersucker check fabric to help beat the summer heat. Too bad I'll be traveling between now and then and won't have time for any sewing. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Exercise. "Couch to 5K" Running Program

Not everyone is a runner - I certainly wasn't a runner when a few friends agreed to run an 8K together... at the bar. Yeah, after a few beers, it's easy to be convinced into running, so I agreed.

Luckily the instigator actually was a "real" runner and shared a few training programs, since there was no way I could just hop up and run a 8km/5mile race.  One of the programs developed by Cool Running was called "Couch to 5K" - the title sums it up and yes, it REALLY works.  I encourage anyone to read up on it and learn why it has been so successful.  I was always (naively) hitting the treadmill on high and disappointed that I couldn't even run a mile so I'd give up.  This program gradually works you up to running - the right way.  Basically you start off walking with a little running in between, and fade to running with a little walking in between and before you know it, you are running full out.
Eventually we all trained ourselves up to running a half marathon race together.  Did you catch that - a half marathon! I loved running and I loved being a runner.

Unfortunately, I did not stay a runner.  I let it slide away but this time I knew where to start. I downloaded the free version of an app called C25K Free to help me put one foot in front of the other and hopefully get a decent jog going.

Just completed Day 1 of the program.  It's the perfect app for this running program.  You can have your jams in the background and then the little app voice lets you know when to walk or run.  It's super easy to stay focused.  When I used the Couch to 5K program, I found myself always staring at the timer, counting down until I needed to switch into a run or a walk.  Very excited to use this app!

Don't let me fool you - I hated running.  If I can grow to love it, anyone can.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Healthy Eating. What's in your cart?

Confession: The groceries shown in this photo aren't mine. 
Am I the only one that looks at the groceries of the person in front of them as they are placed on the conveyor belt? I couldn't help but notice that everything this guy bought was really pretty healthy.  

Look at it - it's mostly fruits & veggies.  Couple packages of fresh fish.  And a rotissarrie chicken & lunch meat.  It's all fresh - the packed stuff is his protein shakes.  Wow.  It was quite impressive and made me take a second look at what was in my cart.  

My naughty chips & salad dressings are towards the back, but otherwise, I think I did okay.  Lots of produce today.  My problem is doing it week after week.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

Souvenir from Shanghai: Custom Curtains

We love that our living room has floor to ceiling windows and planned to live with them open, but sunny days meant it was hard to cool the room and there was a glare on the afternoon football game (that convinced the hubs!). And so I started looking at options.
Store Bought Window Panels?
Nope, panels are sold in standard 50" widths, would require way too many, and that many panels would not be the least bit attractive.
Made to Order Curtains?
Online quotes were around the $4,000 range. Um, not even a consideration, no way!
Sewing the Curtain Panels Myself?
Free labor! I can sew, so I just buy the material, easy peasy, right? But the realities of working with that much material made me very nervous.  And very very scared.
Fly to Shanghai for Custom Curtains? WINNER!
I'm traveling to China anyway and I remembered having a custom window seat cushion made at the Textile Market while we were living there - and they sell curtains too. SCORE!

Ordering from the Shanghai Textile Market
Selected Material
My very first day back in Shanghai, with my measurements and plenty of photos in hand, I headed to the market in the Putuo district. In case you ever decide to go, it's about an hour west of Shanghai's downtown area by car. Shanghai Textile Market: 1618 Cao An Lu (上海市曹安路1618号轻纺市场一区一楼1054#-1058#). The shop I used was just to the right of building entrance #3 in suites #1054 - #1058 (
After visiting a few shops, they had the largest fabric selection were super patient with my lack of Chinese, although my iPhone's iTranslate app came in super handy dandy. I paid for half of my order and then paid the other half at pick-up a week later. If I had paid in full, they would have had them delivered to me. A week later, I wished I had done just that and saved 2 hours in the car just to pick them up. But it gave me the opportunity to make sure I was getting the correct order & potentially correct any issues since I was leaving town very soon after.

Price Comparison
I priced by the foot when doing my homework so I could try to compare apples to apples.
  • My finished curtains (lined) cost about 6.9 RMB per foot (around $1.10/ft depending on exchange rate) and they even included curtain hooks too.
  • An UNlined panel at PotteryBarn withOUT hooks runs about $2.68/ft.
  • Custom order from the Shade Store (unlined) was about $9.96/ft. Ouch.
Getting them home
Believe it or not, I was able to squish the 3 bags of curtains into that big suitcase, but then realized the bag was over weight (~70 lbs!) so I bought a suitcase in Shanghai (cheaper than the airline's overweight fee). And since I only took one bag with me to Shanghai, I was still within my baggage allowance. Whoo hoo!
Next Step - hanging them!
It's been a month and they're not up yet! Agh! I know! Hubs is starting to ask. Planning to visit a local shop for a quote for the ceiling tracks & installation on Monday.

Can't wait to post a photo of them installed!
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