Thursday, September 25, 2008

Raleigh Craft Market and Dog Olympics

(This is my"Church Chat Lady" impression...Well, isn't that special!)

Several weekends ago I attended the Downtown Raleigh Craft Market and Dog Olympics with Diana, Meredith, and my Mom. We started the morning with breakfast and the Craft Market in downtown Raleigh. It was early in the morning, but the sun was already beating down and the humidity was unbearable. I have to admit that I did not look as closely as I would have liked to the crafts because of the heat. The little that I actually looked at, I enjoyed! There were purses, clothing, jewelry, pictures, paintings, ceramics and more. Each artist had a booth and displayed their lovely creations. I enjoy homemade products and love to support local artists. An antique shop was near the event and we went inside to enjoy the AC and browse. We had fun looking at all of the furniture and other goodies in the store. The best part was the vintage glasses that they had on display! The glasses were expensive, but that did not stop us from trying them on. We had fun laughing at ourselves and imagining what crazy 1950’s outfits we could pair with the glasses. If they would not have been $50+ I would have bought a pair to wear for fun. Ohh well!

After we could not bear the heat anymore, we went to a nearby consignment shop. I purchased a suit, a jean skirt, and a dress skirt. All of the pieces were from stores like Ann Taylor and Banana Republic. I paid a fraction of the price and they look brand new! Lately, I have been trying to shop at thrift stores and consignment shops to lessen my impact on the environment (and because it is cheaper!). I am trying to make a commitment to buy more used and less that is brand new. I still purchase new products, but I am trying to go to thrift stores and consignment shops first and more often. This is a baby step, but if we all give it a try we can a difference.
One of the last stops of the day was the dog Olympics at NC State. People brought their dogs and had them participate in contests. Some of the contests included: best howler, doggie limbo, musical walk, and roll over Beethoven. In addition to the competitions, there was a police dog demonstration and booths promoting shelters and different rescue groups. At some of the booths, they had puppies that needed to be adopted. I fell in love with several little pups that were a delight to watch as they romped around in the outdoor pen. A sweet little husky and a chocolate lab puppy caught my eye! They were adorable! I was sad that I could not take one home with me. We even had the opportunity to see puppies that were a couple of days old, but were unable to touch them because they were so new. They had been abandoned and were being taken care of by humans. We did get the chance to watch them feed. They were very sweet!

Both of the events were fun and I cannot wait until next year!

Friday, September 19, 2008

My First Sewing Projects

About four years ago, my Mom bought a new sewing machine and she gave me her old one and a copy of Sewing for Dummies. The machine is a red Husqvarna from the 1970's. If she would have given it to me while in high school or college I would have said "no thanks." When she gave it to me, I was just out of graduate school and looking to learn new things. I had discovered a new/foreign concept called “free time” and was able to read through the sewing machine manual the Dummy book. It had been many years since school Home Economics where I learned how to sew. I had to start anew.

I decided to start by making purses from placemats. My purses were a hit! That first year, all the females in my life received purses for presents. The purses began with grosgrain ribbon handles and then evolved to solid handles (I still sometimes use grosgrain handles). I even tookthe time to sew on buttons and snaps to close the purses, where appropriate. As my purse-making evolved, I experimented with fringe and beading designs. All in all, it was becoming a fun hobby.

I took a break for a while and learned how to sew other creations. Recently, I have decided to make them for friends and family again. So far, each one has been received with delight. I think that people appreciate that someone took the time to make something for them. Finding the right placemat and handle can take a long time and I enjoy that search. With each purse that I make, I consider the person and their style. I think of the colors that they wear, their preferred style of clothing, and their lifestyle. I put my heart into each purse that I make.

I plan to make these purses, among other things, for my etsy store. The only difference is that I plan to make the purses from reused placemats and fabric samples. My impact on the environment will be far less if I can make creations from something that was already in use. Instead of buying new fabric, I can use old fabric that is still in good shape.

Now if I could only get my etsy store up and running. Please come back and visit my blog soon! I will post a blog when I open the store.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What's In A Name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet."

So, what IS in a name? In my first blog post, I said that I would talk more about my blog and corresponding store. It has taken me a while to create this blog (and store, which is still not ready) because I have been trying to come up with a name. I received many wonderful suggestions for my etsy store name and I had the difficult job of choosing the name. It should have been simple, right?

I asked my friends to help me think about names that encompassed the essence of my store and had a fun flair. It was hard for me to think of anything. The names that I thought of were not NEARLY as creative as the names that my friends suggested. Diana came up with the runner up name of "Renewables." She is also the one who is creating the graphic to go along with my blog and store. She was unable to create the graphic until I could pick a name. Thanks for your patience Diana! I cannot wait to see the wonderful design that she is creating. She is a very talented and creative person!

Jason also came up with several clever names that I considered. Among the top contenders were "Newly Used," "New Again," "The Past is Now," and "Amandables." My top choice of his was "Amandables." I loved the suggestion, but when I ran it by others they thought that it sounded like a store that sold fuzzy stuffed animal creatures. I did not want that association, so I decided to look further. Jason is a very funny person and that was reflected in many of his suggestions. Thanks for your humor Jason!

In my search, I looked online for suggestions and brainstormed and still nothing caught my eye. One day Meredith was in my office chatting and suggested several names that she was thinking of on the spot. She said a name and I immediately loved it! I thought she said "Newman Improved," but she actually said "New and Improved." When I repeated "Newman Improved" back to her, she loved it as well! It uses my last name and a clever saying! Meredith gets credit for the name because if she would not have said "New and Improved," I would not have had a name to misinterpret and I might still be thinking of a name for my blog and store. Thank you Meredith! You are the winner! Hmmm....any suggestions on a prize?

And the winner goes to....MEREDITH!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Precious Nephew

"A new baby is like the beginning of all things-wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities." ~Eda J. Le Shan~

On September 2, 2008 Andr
ew Douglas Surface, our nephew, was born weighing 6 pounds, 5 ounces and 19.5 inches long. My Mom, John, and I had the pleasure of going to Charlotte, NC this past weekend to meet the new baby and help in parenting and household duties.

I hope that we were able to help Mary Catherine (John's sister) and Warren (her husband) transition into bringing baby Andrew home. We all helped with laundry, cleaning, cooking, taking care of their 2 and a 1/2 year old son, and our Godson, Alex. We tried to be as helpful as possible and hope we were not burdensome "guests." I truly enjoyed spending time with the new baby and family, but my purpose was to add a helping hand.

In addition to the household duties, I had the pleasure of holding Andrew for hours and hours each day of the visit. His sweet presence warmed my heart! As I held him, he cuddled into my arms and slept peacefully. When awake, he would look into my eyes and study my face. There is nothing sweeter in life, that I have experienced, than this interaction. It was pure, innocent, and without conditions. I have been blessed to have four nephews (and a niece on the way) to share this precious bond and look forward to having a child some day. (For those of you who know me, do not get all excited because we do not plan on children for several more years)

We also had the opportunity to witness Alex's introduction to baby Andrew moving home. Alex was nothing short of an angel! He welcomed Andrew with open arms and many kisses! He asked to kiss and hold Andrew often and seemed excited to see him after each nap and each morning that he woke. Mary Catherine and Warren are truly blessed to have Alex react in so positively. It is not surprising because Alex has such nice demeanor and fun spirit.

John and I felt blessed to have the opportunity to visit this past weekend and to meet the new member of the family. We look forward to many more happy visits and hope that Andrew, Alex, Mary Catherine, and Warren are doing well during this special time.

(Mary Catherine and Andrew)

Monday, September 8, 2008

My First Blog!

Hello and welcome to my blog titled Newman Improved. I have decided to start a blog for several reasons. First, I will be starting a store on and would like to use this blog to promote the products that I create (more details to come about my store). Two, this blog will let friends, family, and etsy shoppers learn a little bit more about me. I plan to blog about the products that I will sell on etsy, about my family, my friends, about other projects I am working on, etc. I expect the layout, design, and colors of my page to change in the coming weeks- thanks to my friend Diana.

Since this is my first blog, I guess I should say a little something about myself. I am an animal loving vegetarian for ethical, spiritual, and environmental reasons. I have been a vegetarian for over 14 years and have never looked back! I take pleasure in hiking and spending time in nature, in prayer because I see God in all creation. I try to lessen my impact on this earth and feel it is my calling to continue that pursuit. I view this earth as a gift from God to be cherished and protected. I also enjoy spending time with my husband (John), my family, and friends. I am a social person and like to be around other people, but also enjoy time alone reading, creating, and drawing/painting.

As this blog continues, you will learn more. If you have a blog, please let me know because I would like to learn more about you!