Sunday, December 28, 2008

Belated Merry Christmas

I hope all my blog readers and fellow crafters had a good Christmas! Mine was OK. To be honest, my job situation has had me pretty distracted lately, and really put a damper on Christmas for me. I went back to work about two weeks ago. The first week back, there was a big water main break downtown a few blocks from the BOE, and the BOE had no water service, so we ended up being sent home at 9:30 in the morning. We had to work on Saturday to make up the time, but Saturday was only a partial day, so between that and the time I missed from work when I took the Census test, I was short a few hours for the week.

This week I stayed home on Monday and Wednesday because the weather was so bad. I've lived in the Cleveland area my whole life, so I've dealt with some pretty nasty weather conditions traveling to and from work. I can deal with snow and cold, but after falling on a patch of ice downtown last year, and breaking my right wrist, I'm paranoid when it comes to ice. Now that I have no medical insurance, the possibility of breaking something else really worries me more than it would normally.

We had freezing rain Sunday night, and by Monday morning, the roads and sidewalks were completely ice covered. My husband had an awful time getting home from work, and said the sidewalks looked even worse than the streets, and he doubted I'd be able to make it to the bus stop OK. A lot of the ice had melted by Tuesday, so I went to work, and then we got hit with even more freezing rain on Tuesday night. When I looked outside on Wednesday, the sidewalks just looked rainy, and not icy, so I got dressed, left the house, and didn't even make it halfway down the street without nearly falling a few times, because everything was completely ice covered. I couldn't even walk in the street, because the street wasn't salted. Things were so bad, many freeways were even shut down overnight, because of the high number of car accidents.

The suburb I live in used to be pretty good about getting the streets, including the side streets salted, but this year they really seem to be lax. I haven't seen a single side street salted (including mine), and the main streets don't seem to get salted until after the morning rush, which is useless. I read in the newspaper a few months ago that the state of Ohio is expected to have a road salt shortage this year (there's endless amounts of salt underneath Lake Erie, but apparently the mining companies can't mine it quickly enough to keep up with demand), so I'm going to be generous and assume that's why the roads aren't getting salted on time.

I felt terrible having to miss those two days of work, when I already haven't had a full paycheck in a month. The BOE kept changing their mind about which days they were going to close for Christmas, and finally they decided to close through Monday, which is great for regular employees, who have paid time off, but not so great for temps, who get nothing. On top of that, we're just about finished with the voter history, and from what one of the other temps told me, based on what she heard on Christmas Eve, next Tuesday might be our last day of work. The BOE had been pushing us to finish up the voter history by December 31st, presumably to get us off the payroll before the beginning of the year, so I'm anticipating being permanently laid off next week.

I knew this was a temp job, so I guess I shouldn't be upset, but at the same time, I had expected to find another job before this one ended. I applied for unemployment pay when I was laid off the first time, but my claim was denied because I hadn't been at the BOE for at least 20 weeks (I've only been there about 16 weeks). Normally they'd take into account my prior employment as well, but my last job was with the national offices of a church, and churches are not required to pay into the state unemployment fund, so the 3 years I spent at the church don't count as "covered employment". In my opinion, just because an employer doesn't have to pay into the unemployment fund, doesn't mean they shouldn't.

I'm just really scared about how my husband and I are going to manage once I'm laid off again. We're already struggling as it is, and I can't stand the thought of having a repeat of this summer, where we had to choose between paying the rent and buying food. The selection of jobs out there has been pretty slim lately, and I haven't even been able to get any interviews for the ones I've applied for. Things have gotten so bad here in the Cleveland area that one of the major hospitals, the Cleveland Clinic, has a hiring and raise freeze. I ran into a friend of mine who works for the other major hospital system in the area, University Hospitals, and he said they cut all of his overtime. My landlord has a tenant who works for Lincoln Electric, another major employer here in Cleveland, and his tenant told him Lincoln laid off a ton of employees, basically anyone who has been there less than 3 years. This is the first layoff Lincoln has had since 1948 - 60 years! If that doesn't show how bad things are with the economy, I don't know what does.

Needless to say, Christmas was pretty lean for us this year. I spent about $250 on presents for both of the kids, and wouldn't even have spent that much, if not for my mother and sister giving me $75 to use towards the kids' presents. My husband and I didn't buy each other gifts this year. Even though I didn't buy a whole lot, the kids were happy with what they got. On Christmas Eve we usually go to my older sister Desiree's house for dinner and a gift exchange among the kids. This year I didn't know anyone had organized a gift exchange, and no one told me about it until a week before Christmas, when I had already spent my extra money on my kids' gifts. My mom bought gifts for me to give to my niece and nephew (whose names I had for the gift exchange), which I really appreciated, because I was pretty much broke before Christmas.

Since I didn't buy anything personally for my niece and nephew, I wanted to crochet something for them. I raided my yarn stash and made hats for both. The first is a newsboy-style cap that I crocheted for my 11 year old niece, Alexis (Desiree's daughter).

I used some Red Heart Kids and Caron Simply Soft from my stash. I had barely a full skein of the Red Heart kids, and it ended up being the exact amount I needed for the hat. The pattern was a free one I found on Ravelry ("Swirls Cap"). I'm really happy with how it came out (although I think the swirls would show better in a solid color yarn), and I anticipate making a lot more of these. Everyone raved about it.

My kids had fun on Christmas Eve. My sister has a big house, so there's a lot of room for them to run around and play with their cousins. Here's the "three amigos" - my Bethany, her cousin Alexis (middle) and her cousin Rosie (right end). That's Alexis's dog, Tanner, in the photo. He's a Labradoodle (Labrador and Poodle mix). Alexis is allergic to dogs, but Labradoodles are hypoallergenic and don't shed (his fur feels just like a lamb's wool - I bet someone could even spin it into yarn!), so Alexis isn't allergic to him.
My kids had fun on Christmas Eve. My sister has a big house, so there's a lot of room for them to run around and play with their cousins. Here's the "three amigos" - my Bethany, her cousin Alexis (middle) and her cousin Rosie (right end). That's Alexis's dog, Tanner, in the photo. He's a Labradoodle (Labrador and Poodle mix). Alexis is allergic to dogs, but Labradoodles are hypoallergenic and don't shed (his fur feels just like a lamb's wool - I bet someone could even spin it into yarn!), so Alexis isn't allergic to him.
Here's my adorable little niece, Jenna with her dad: And Jenna with Bethany:
My birthday was December 26th, and my brother-in-law's was the 27th, so my youngest sister Shauna baked a Christmas tree shaped cake for us on Christmas Eve. I turned 35 on the 26th. Only 5 more years until I turn 40 - boy, does that sound depressing! I was feeling pretty lousy on Christmas, about my job situation. A temp coworker and I were joking around about how it's a good thing we can't see into the future, because if we had looked ahead to 2008, and saw ourselves at the BOE scanning signatures in poll books for $10 an hour, we'd have wanted to scream. I told her if I could have looked into the future to see what I'd be doing when I turned 35, I'd really be upset.

I get introspective around this time of year, and I can't help but feel disappointed in myself. I worked so hard to get an education and work experience - I dropped out of high school in the 11th grade and worked at a fast food restaurant, but I went on to get a GED, went to a trade school to learn some office skills, graduated from college after attending for 10 long years off and on, started graduate school, and got progressively better paying jobs. Now here am I am feeling like none of it mattered. I have a $10 an hour temp job (the last time I earned $10 an hour was in 1999), that is ending shortly, and no prospects for another job. I'm still renting. I have a mountain of bills I can't pay. I have no medical insurance. I can't sleep at night and have been getting stomach pains from the stress. I've taken my graduate education off my resume, thinking it probably makes me look overqualified for most jobs I've applied for, and now I'm at the point where I'm wondering if I shouldn't list my bachelor's degree either, which is a pretty depressing prospect.

I woke up on my birthday not even wanting to get out of bed. My husband tried hard to cheer me up, and I appreciated it. He bought me birthday cards from him and the kids, and bought me some slippers and a fleece blanket (since I'm always freezing). He had gone to Walmart, and wanted to buy me a sewing machine, but couldn't find one he could afford. I appreciated the thought though. My sister Shauna gave me a pair of (pink!) fleece pajamas, and the Doris Chan book, "Everyday Crochet" (crochet books are good!). My good friend Latanya, who lives in Dallas (and who makes me jealous with reports of the warm weather down there!) sent me two flannel nightgowns for Christmas and my birthday. My husband and I kids I went out to eat at Bob Evans for dinner. We don't eat out very often, and when we do, Bob Evans or Red Robin are about as expensive as we get. We're on such a tight budget right now, that I wouldn't have gone if not for having two coupons for free kids' meals and drinks (which the kids got from Bob Evans' free birthday club).

I also got a couple of surprises in the mail recently. Last week I got a box in the mail, and I had no idea who it was from. I opened it up and found a beautiful pink knitted scarf (interestingly the exact color of my winter coat), and some pretty pink yarn. I was racking my brain all day trying to figure out who it was from, until I realized it was probably a PIF gift. I was right - it was my PIF gift from Hayley of It wa a really nice surprise!

The second surprise was a package of gifts for my kids from
Katrina, which arrived on my birthday. Here's what she sent:

a Hannah Montana bag and notebook for Bethany:
a Disney Cars apron (great for arts and crafts!), and a Cars wallet (I didn't get a chance to take a photo) for Dominic:And yes, there's more - two beautiful Christmas stockings!

Katrina handmade the bag, the apron, and the stockings - aren't they awesome?! The kids love getting mail, and they were thrilled with everything Katrina sent. Bethany thought Katrina had bought the bag, because it looks so well made. The apron looks wonderful too! Thank you so much, Katrina! I am always amazed at how generous fellow crafters on the web can be. Katrina's package really made my day!

That's about all that's been going on lately. My husband's company is shut down until January 5th, so I've been enjoying having him home at night, and it helps that he'll be able to stay home with the kids for their Christmas vacation. Other than the hats I made for Christmas, I haven't crocheted anything else lately. When I'm worried about things, I can't concentrate on crocheting. I've been reading a lot lately though. I just finished a couple of books - "Something Like Beautiful: One Single Mother's Story" by asha bandele (no typo - she spells it lowercase), which I got free from through their Vine program, and "Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx" by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc. Something Like Beautiful was good, but Random Family was fantastic, definitely one of the best books I've read in a long time. I highly recommend it.

I still have no satellite TV service, so I've been checking a lot of DVD's out from the library lately. My husband and I watched Michael Moore's "Sicko" yesterday. It was excellent, and heartbreaking, too. One story particularly bothered me - a 30 something year old man, married with kids, who died from leukemia because his insurance company would not pay for a bone marrow transplant (his son was a marrow match) because they said the treatment was "experimental". The whole documentary is a real condemnation of the state of health care in this country.

Well, it's pretty late, so I need to finish this up and go to bed. Can you believe that after -20 degree (with wind chill) temperatures and freezing rain for the past couple of days, that it's actually 64 degrees and dry here in the Cleveland area right now??? I'm trying hard not to get my hopes up that it's going to stay that way!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Quick Update

Well, I started back at work at the BOE on Monday. Can you believe it??? They laid off 13 of us last Tuesday, then Thursday, the Secretary of State ordered them to lay off the remaining 10 temps, which they did, and told them not to expect to come back until around the first of the year. But then they called us on Friday afternoon they called all of the temps from my area, plus a lot of the laid off temps from the absentee ballot department, to start working on voter history for the November 4th election.

There's about 50 of us sitting in a big room working on poll books assembly-line style. When I was in my regular department, the supervisors didn't mind if temps talked, listed to I Pods, etc., were a couple of minutes late to work, etc. as long we got our work done, but now the supervisors are walking around staring at us all day, glaring at anyone who talks, coming down on anyone who's even a few minutes late to to work, and pushing us to work faster. Supposedly they have a deadline to get the voter history done, but I suspect they just want us to get done as quickly as possible so they can lay us off again (the head of HR keeps stopping by to find out how much work we've completed so far).

Unfortunately, I found out that I probably won't qualify for unemployment pay once I'm laid off for good, because I've only been at the BOE about 13 weeks so far (I would need 20 weeks of covered employment - i.e., working for an employer who pays into the state unemployment fund), and my previous employer was a church, which aren't required to pay into the state unemployment fund. I'm trying hard to find another job before this BOE one ends. I am glad to be back at work in the meantime.

I took an employment test for a temp job with the Census Bureau today. It was being held at my alma mater, Cleveland State (conveniently located a few blocks down the street from the BOE). One of my temp coworkers (another CSU graduate) and I walked down there today at lunch time to take the test.They have some thousands of jobs open, but most of them are "field" positions - going door to door surveying people, for $9.99 an hour (really! They pay $9.99 an hour!). No thanks - that sounds like too much stress and aggravation - being outside all day in bad weather, dealing with people who might be rude, nasty, crazy, or perverted, being sent into rough neighborhoods, working nights and weekends and holidays. They do have some office positions open, but not as many. Most people want the office jobs, so I don't know how much luck I'd have getting one, but I figure it doesn't hurt to try.

I don't have any crochet projects to show - I'm working on something for a coworker, and I'll post pictures when I'm done, but I do have something else crochet-related. I came across this on a fellow blogger's website and think it's important (not to mention pretty alarming) for any crafters who sell their work to read.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Well, I got laid off from the BOE yesterday. Sigh... We finished most of the work from the November 4th election and a small local election on November 18th, so it had been pretty slow the past two weeks. The head of the BOE wanted the director of my department to get rid of all 23 of the temps, but she only let 10 (including me) go instead. She kept apologizing to us, and said she feels terrible having to lay people off so close to Christmas, and with the economy here being so bad. The director is pushing for her to lay off more temps, if not all of them. We're supposed to be called back in a week to a week and a half to update voter history for the November 4th election (when we get the poll books back from the BOE warehouse where they're being used for an audit), but I can't see them calling us back before Christmas.

In the meantime, this leaves me in a real mess financially, especially coming after having a short check from being off for Thanksgiving. I applied for unemployment pay yesterday. I don't know if I'll get approved for it, but even if I do, it takes 3 weeks to get the first check. I felt nauseous last night worrying, could barely sleep, and woke up with a headache. God willing another, permanent job (or at least a better paying temp job) will turn up for me quickly. The Census Bureau is hiring for some temp jobs in Cleveland, to start in February, so I'm going to go take their employment test next Tuesday.

Well, I do have a couple more crochet projects to show. The first is a hat and blanket set my coworker, Lola, paid me to crochet for her daughter. I finished them about a month ago, but never got around to blogging about them.
The hat is from "Stitch N' Bitch: The Happy Hooker" (I added a flower and used half double crochet instead of double) and the blanket is just rows of striped half double crochet with a fancy border. Lola asked me to put flowers on the blanket too, so I sewed one to each corner. Here's a close up of the trim:
I used Red Heart Super Saver in Petal Pink and Soft White. I don't normally use Super Saver, because I think it's scratchy, but I was looking at Walmart for some yarn, and all they had in pink and white was the Super Saver, not to mention that I didn't have much money to spend on yarn at the time. I hadn't used Super Saver since I first learned how to crochet, and I was surprised to find that it doesn't feel nearly as scratchy as it used to. I guess Red Heart made some improvements to it. I washed the blanket and hat, soaked them in fabric softener, and dried them with a dryer sheet, and they came out pretty soft afterwards. Lola was really happy with them.

Lola's daughter turned one year old last month, so I crocheted a poncho for her, from a free pattern I found online (I added the flower and the picot trim at the bottom). The pattern used a "crossed bar stitch". I really like the stitch pattern. I used some white Vanna's Choice Baby yarn from my stash, so all I had to buy was the red for the trim. Not a bad gift for $3.00! Here's the poncho:And here's a picture of Lola's daughter, Heaven, wearing it:

Isn't she cute?!

Well, off to get the kids' clothes ready for school tomorrow, and watch an episode from one of the "Medium" DVD boxed sets I just got from the library.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Lots of Hats!

I enjoyed reading all of your comments about dressing vs. stuffing, LOL! I see I still can't find anyone to come to a consensus about what the difference is, if any!

It's been a depressing past week since I last posted. The three days off from work for Thanksgiving were nice, except that I won't get paid for any of them. I didn't take them off by choice - the BOE decided to close all three days, and they don't give temps holiday pay. If I had a choice between taking Wednesday and Friday off without pay, or working, I would have gone to work, because I need the money so badly.

I've been working a 9:30-5:30 schedule at the BOE since I started in September -not my choice - that was just the shift they had open. Well, the day before Thanksgiving, the supervisor in my area who's usually there until 5:30 decided she wanted to leave at 4:30, so she sent me and the one other temp who stays until 5:30, home early (without pay for the last hour, of course). At 4:00 this past Thursday, she informed us she couldn't stay until 5:30, because the BOE put a freeze on overtime. We had to leave at 4:30 again, leaving us another hour short. Friday morning, me and my coworker come in at our regular 9:30, and are informed that we would be leaving at 4:30 again. Naturally, we were upset. We're already going to be short 23 hours on our paycheck next week between Thanksgiving and the two hours we had to leave early, not to mention have to leave early on Friday.

My coworker and I asked the supervisor if we could just skip our lunch (we get an hour) but she said it would have to be approved by the head of the department, who wasn't in on Friday. After that, we decided to go to HR, and the head of HR approved us skipping lunch so we wouldn't be short an hour on Friday. He also told us that now that election season is over, everyone at the BOE would be going back to an 8:30-4:30 schedule. How nice of them to notify us at the last minute. Neither of us has a problem with coming in at 8:30; it just made us mad that they didn't give us any kind of advance notice, so that we ended up short those hours. Being short two or three hours might not seem like much to a supervisor who probably makes $50,000+ a year, but to an employee who makes a measly $10 an hour, it does matter.

I get paid next week, and I've just been feeling sick with worry over how I'm going to manage with my check being so short. I normally get about $600 after taxes (and that damn mandatory 10% Ohio Public Employees Retirement System deduction) every two weeks, but with all the hours I'm short, I'll be getting about $380 on my next check. My husband and I haven't been able to buy a single Christmas present for the kids yet. My husband also gets paid next week (our last checks before Christmas), so we were planning on going Christmas shopping next Saturday but with my check being short, by the time we pay a few bills and buy groceries, we'll be lucky if we even have $150-200 left to spend on both kids. I know that's better than nothing, but even at Walmart, that doesn't go far.

To make matters worse, it feels like everything around my house is falling apart or needs to be replaced all at once. My 6 year old washing machine is nearly completely shot. It won't spin at all (and it's beyond repairable), which means my clothes all come out sopping wet, and take multiple cycles in the dryer to dry. I put a load of jeans in the dryer today, and no, I'm not exaggerating, they're were still damp after 3 hours of drying. And then remember I mentioned that the picture tube blew on my TV back in August? When I started working for the BOE, we got a used 32 inch TV from a TV repair shop for $200. It worked fine until last week when the picture tube starting going on it, too. It shuts off and won't come back on for 10-15 minutes at a time. Even my artificial Christmas tree barely made it up this year - my husband had to tie the top together - how ironic is that?? My daughter and I are also both desperately in need of hair cuts (I got mine cut last in March, and hers in June). On top of that, I really need to get my cat to the vet, since it looks like she's developed some kind of skin infection, plus she's due for her shots. I can't even afford to take her, and I feel terrible about it.

Oh, and I almost forgot - remember last January I posted about a minor accident my husband had on the freeway coming home from work one morning (slid on some ice and hit a fence)? Well, the other day, he got a bill in the mail from ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation), billing him $175 for the fence! How crazy is that??? First of all, he only had the accident because the roads were icy and NOT salted (he wasn't speeding or driving recklessly), and secondly, the fence was barely damaged (my husband pointed it out to me one day when we drove past)! And, they haven't even fixed the fence yet! Both of us have been paying taxes to the state of Ohio to years. Don't part of our tax dollars go towards road repair??? ODOT will just have to get in line behind all of the other places I owe money to.

My husband and I have cut back drastically on every expense we could since I lost my last job in April, and even after I started working for the BOE. Our satellite TV service is off (not a huge deal, since I wasn't a big TV watcher, but I miss watching "Medium" on Lifetime on Saturday nights). Our cell phones are off (which is a big deal, because I have no way to reach my husband at work at night, and it's extremely hard to reach me at the BOE, since although the temps have phones, we don't have direct numbers, or even extensions where we can be reached). We rarely go anywhere on weekends anymore, except for grocery shopping or the occasional relative's house. We rarely eat out anymore, and I pack lunches 99% of the time. But even so, we're just still scraping by.

I am thankful to have a job at all, but it's depressing going to work every day, and barely bringing home enough even for the essentials, let alone anything extra. I get totally depressed every winter, between the snow and cold, the early nightfall and missing my dad who died during the winter, and worrying about money on top of it just makes worse.

My Bethany went to Girl Scout camp this weekend though, so at least she had a fun weekend. Her troop went to a camp in Richfield, Ohio, a rural town about 45 minutes from Cleveland. We drove out there Friday evening to drop her off. They went camping there last winter, too, but we're not really familiar with the area, so between that, and it being dark, we totally missed the camp entrance, drove way out of our way. She had to be there at 6:45, so we left the house at 5:45, but with getting lost, we ended up not getting there until a little after 7. Luckily a few other parents were also late, and the troop leaders were still waiting for stragglers, so she didn't miss out on camping.

I was up until 2:30 in the morning on Thursday night, packing Bethany's stuff for camp (everytime I'd think I was done I realized I forgot something), cleaning up the house, taking care of paperwork for the kids for school (it seems there's always something to complete), etc, and ended up getting 4 hours of sleep before I had to get up for work on Friday. Me, my husband and Dominic all fell asleep about 8:30, after we got back from dropping off Bethany. I can't remember the last time I went to sleep that early. Bethany and Dominic usually drive me crazy on weekends with their squabbling and pestering each other, but when Bethany's at camp, the house feels lonely. I kind of missed it though when we picked her up at camp this morning, and she and Dominic started bickering in the car, LOL!

At least one good thing has happened lately. I got a call on Friday about a benefits assistant (HR) job I applied for with an iron ore mining company that has their headquarters in downtown Cleveland. I didn't get the message until I got home from work, so I'm going to call her tomorrow. Please wish me luck that a better job turns up for me soon.

Well, since I've probably bored you with all the non-crochet related stuff, I have some crochet projects to show. I've been on a hat making spree lately. I think hats are probably my favorite thing to crochet. They're quick, but have enough shaping to keep me from getting bored, and it's easy to adjust the sizing. The first two are a couple of hats I crocheted for The Ships Project - a group that sends hand knitted or crocheted hats to U.S. troops stationed overseas.
I used some Caron Simply Soft Shadows yarn from my stash for both. The pattern for the first was from Interweave Crochet. The hat was worked with front post double crochet stitches in the round. I really like the texture, but the bottom of the hat keeps curling up. I added a few rounds of single crochet at the end, but it still keeps curling. The second hat is just a basic beanie done in extended single crochet. I really love how that one came out!

Next are some chemo caps I crocheted for ladies who visit a local cancer support center here in the Cleveland area. My husband's mother died of breast cancer when he was a teenager (many years before I met him), so this was something meaningful for me. I used some Caron Simply Soft Brites from my stash, and a free pattern I found online. I've been working on these for a few months, but just now got around to taking a picture.
My youngest sister asked me to crochet her a hat to wear around her house, since she's freezing all the time, so I came up with this. It's a rolled-brim hat with a motif at the top. I used some green (her favorite color) TLC Cara Mia yarn from my stash. I love that yarn! I bought a ton of it on Ebay last year. The pattern is from a British crochet book, "Beautiful Crochet for Heads, Hands and Toes". Yes, I know the pictures are crappy, but I was trying to hurry up and take them on Thanksgiving, before I left for my brother's house, because I wanted to give the hat to my sister when I saw her there.

I usually crochet during my breaks at work, and so I've had a few coworkers offer to pay me to make them things (although only two actual orders so far). I made this hat, leg warmers, and fingerless gloves set by request from a coworker. The pattern is from the book "Easy as 1-2-3 Crochet". I used Bernat Softee Chunky (one of my favorite cheap yarns) in hot pink and white.
Are you tired of seeing hats yet? I promise I only have one more! The final hat is another one made from Caron Simply Soft Brites. It was a free pattern from the Caron website. I just made it to use up some of my stash yarn. I didn't have anyone in particular in mind for it.
For the past few months I've been thinking about opening an Etsy shop to try to make some extra money. I don't usually have much confidence in my crochet projects (I always feel like everyone else's projects look so much better than mine), so I didn't know if I could actually sell anything I make. After getting lots of compliments at work for things I've crocheted, and now starting to get requests to make people things, I've been thinking more seriously about opening the Etsy shop. I've been making a list of ideas of things to sell (I decided to save the black/bright hat for it), and looking at my stash (I don't want to spend a lot of money upfront in case I can't sell anything) to see what I can make from it. If any of my blog readers who are Etsy sellers have any tips on getting started, what sells well, etc., I'd really appreciate hearing them (I know I need a better way of displaying hats!).

My husband has been DJ'ing (don't know if that's how it's supposed to be spelled, and too tired to care!) parties for the past decade - not regularly, just here and there, but he decided he wants to start pursuing it more actively, since we really need some extra money. My plumber brother set up a website for his business through Yahoo Small Business, and their websites are free to set up, and only $8.95 a month to run, so I've been working on making one for my husband's DJ services. Even if he only did a few parties or weddings a year, that would still be a huge help to us financially.

Well, off to clean up the house and finish laundry and go to bed...