Locks For Love – The Day I Donated My Hair

Cancer – It has impacted every one of us in some way shape or form.  I would bet that you personally know at least one person, if not more, that have taken on this personal battle.

I consider myself lucky, thus far, not to have had this terrible disease; but I know oh so many that have. (including my Dad)

For so many years now, I have always wanted to donate my hair to make wigs for those who lose theirs because of the treatments they have had to go through.  I have wondered, what would it be like to lose all your hair?

Well, today, I – sort of – found out.  Today I had 10 inches of hair cut off to donate to Locks For Love.  Locks For Love makes wigs for children who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments.

 wpid-IMAG1892.jpgPre-cut picture.  It looks Like I have really long hair, but in reality – I barely had enough to make the 10″ limit to donate.

wpid-IMAG1893.jpgJessica, my hair stylist did a great job getting the most hair off my head, using multiple ponytales.

wpid-IMAG1895.jpgAnd then the cutting ensued.  No turning back

now!  wpid-IMAG1897.jpgYIKES!

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Almost all gone!

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This is what I had left.

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We were really surprised at how good my short hair looked, even before the styling cut was done.  As “traumatic” as such a hair cut can be, this isn’t about me; I will have a great hair style going forward (and my hair will grow back)

what is important is that this

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will be sent off in the mail tomorrow to Locks For Love to be made into a wig for children who have lost their own hair because of cancer treatment(s).

Want to learn more about Locks For Love?  Visit their website at www.locksforlove.org  Ops!  I got the website wrong!  visit www.locksoflove.org

A BIG thank you to my hair stylist – Jessica Williams at Josephine’s Day Spa – for helping me make this donation, as well as all that staff at Josephine’s who were so supportive in my endeavor.

Lastly, to the little girl who watched in awe as I had my hair cut off.  I hope she remembers this and is inspired herself to donate her beautiful dark brunette hair someday for a child without hair because of cancer.

Conserving Electricity/Energy and the Electric Company Paradox

Do you live in a state that deregulated their electricity services?

I live in Texas, and the electricity industry was deregulated here for many years.

At first I was hesitant to change electric companies.  I bought into the talk from the original regulated company here in Houston about lack of reliability, etc. from the “new companies”.  Thank goodness I realized that was just that – a bunch of talk, from a company that wanted me to stay with them and keep paying really high prices. So, yes, I have changed electric companies many times over the years.  I do my homework.  I have learned a lot about what questions to ask to understand other charges are added on to the bill.  I must say I am now a very educated electricity consumer.   But, alas, that is not what this post is about.

This post is about the paradox of conserving energy (in this case specifically, electricity) and the electric companies way of charging us for our usage.

Does anyone else realize that those of us who actually make a concerted effort to conserve our electricity usage are, in most cases, being penalized for doing so?

Seriously.  Consider this:

1.  My current energy company (which, by the way I am extremely happy with – they actually have THE LOWEST rates I have found in my area) will charge me an additional $19.95 “LOW USAGE FEE” if my electricity usage drops below 1,000 kWh on a monthly basis.  They don’t take into consideration that my AVERAGE electricity usage is around 1,400 kWh, but they are sure to charge me more for being a conscious consumer.

My company is not the only one that does this either.  Many of the others are right there with them (or they just charge you more for the first 500 kWh used, using a graduated scale).

2. This same company (bless their heart), called me several months ago and offered to replace my thermostat in my home for free with one of those new “Nest” thermostats.  Plus, they said they would service this stat if anything went wrong.  But here is the deal, when I asked the person about what if I changed electric companies, she didn’t have an answer as to what I would have to pay them.  PLUS – REFER TO ITEM #1 above – THEY DON’T PROVIDE ANY INCENTIVES FOR USING LESS ELECTRICITY…. THEY PENALIZE YOU.  Thank you very much.  I declined their “most generous” offer.  Plus, I don’t need a stat that “thinks for me”.

3. Everywhere you look, when you are considering a major electric appliance purchase, you are bombarded with “energy-efficient” options.

Case in point – I had to replace my air conditioner in the past week.  I did my research, talked to the company about options and tax credits available, as well as what the cost of the replacement in order to be eligible for said credit.  What I found out… If I wanted to get a tax credit of $350, I had to spend $10,000 on a unit that MAY save me 20% in kWh.  My other choice was to replace the unit with the same size/efficiency model for $5,000.  (yes, 1/2 the cost)

Now, consider this:

A. My electric bills (with the great rate that I get) averages about $120 (excluding taxes, and presuming an average 1,400 kWh usage). Now consider that this cost is not 100% due to my air conditioner.

B. When I consider that my winter bills (no air conditioning needed) is about $60, one is save to presume the air conditioner costs me around $60/month. Add to this fact that I only use my air conditioner for about 8 months out of the year (I do live in Houston after all…) So – 20% savings on $60/month = $12. for 8 months = $96/year.

C. so, computing how long it would take me to recoup the $4,650 (that is the $5,000 difference, minus the $350 tax credit) at an average of $96/savings in electric bill/year… 48 YEARS to recoup the additional cost of the more energy-efficient unit!  Really?  Does this even make any sense??

I didn’t even consider the fact that as the years go by, the efficiency of the more expensive unit will go down…

D.  PLUS – I didn’t consider the fact that I will be CHARGED AN ADDITIONAL $19.95 from my electric company if my usage drops below 1,000!  Taking that into consideration – such a purchase would actually be COSTING ME MORE instead of helping me keep my expenses down.

Don’t get me wrong – I do believe that deregulation was good for the consumer, though the industry had to go through some very challenging times to get to where they are today, but seriously… Low Usage Fees when you are trying your hardest to cut your electric bill costs?

So what to do??  Well, luckily, I am in a contract where even my usage drops below 1,000 kWh, (and it does in the winter sometimes), I am still paying less per kWh than if I were with another company.

Does anyone else ever think about this stuff like I do?

Something that makes you go mmmmm…..

 

Take Me To The River

This past weekend was spent hanging out with old and new friends on the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels, Texas.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is a video I put together from the weekend, food frenzy and all.  The video is to the music “Take Me To The River”, and because the file is so big, I had to upload it to YouTube (WordPress wouldn’t load it).

Hope you enjoy!

http://youtu.be/rMEETfz27no

Birds of a Feather

Off topic – I know…

My neighbor has a bird feeder in their backyard.  The other evening I spied these birds feeding away – I think they are turtle doves, but not being a bird watcher or expert, I may be wrong.

Anyway, I grabbed my camera and shot a couple of photos.

What sort of birds do you find in your backyard?

The Pillow Project

Okay, so this is what my backyard swing area (under the palapa by the pool) looked like this morning.

Before picture

With JoAnn Fabrics’ 50% off indoor /outdoor home decor fabrics sale, I decided I was going to “renovate” this sad looking swing and cushions into a fun and inviting place to relax.

Yesterday I bought the fabric; last night I sewed the cushions together; this morning I made another trip to JoAnn’s armed with a multitude of 50% off coupons and bought the stuffing; came home; stuffed cushions; finished with slip-stitching them closed and… WALA!!!

Here is my renovated swing area.  The pillows are the ones I posted last night.

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I still have a couple bigger pillows to make…and then it is on to creating a few other new cushions and such for the backyard furniture.

So, what do you think?  Like??

Summer Pillows

I LOVE the remnant bin at JoAnn Fabrics.  I just can’t stay away from them!  Today I went to JoAnn’s in search of outdoor canvas material to make new cushions for my backyard swing, lounge chairs, etc. The material was 40% off PLUS I had a coupon for another 15% off the complete purchase!

I was in the back looking at the stuffing choices when I came upon a home decor remnant bin that I had never seen before.  This one had the 12″*12″ samples of materials that were discontinued.  Each piece was $2.  This is material that 1 you can’t get just 1 square foot and 2 usually goes for @ least $20 per yard.

I picked up 6 pieces.  Then I got a package of stuffing with a 40% off coupon (on top of the 15% off on the whole purchase).

This afternoon I pulled out the sewing machine and made these three pillows

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Here is the back view of them. They are in the same order as the first pic.

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Each pillow cost no more than $3 a piece, and go really well with the material I bought for the cushions I will be making soon.

Tomorrow I go back to JoAnn’s to pick up more stuffing for the cushions with the multiple 50% off for 1 full price item coupons I scored today that are for 4/15-21.  🙂

Wedding Dress Transformation to Christening Dress

For those of my friends reading/following my blog, you may not know that my mom passed away in August 2008.  I was very close to her, and miss her dearly.  When my brothers, sister and I were cleaning out the house, I kept my mom’s wedding dress.Last summer one of my nieces got married and recently had a baby girl.  Between the time she told me she was pregnant and the baby arrived, I came across a link on Pinerest.com where someone had “transformed” old dresses, and other vintage items into new clothing, and I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could make my great-niece’s christening dress from my mother’s wedding dress.

Mom's Wedding Dress

I realized, gee – I need to find out 1) if my niece planned on having the baby christened, and 2) if she would like me to make the baby’s dress from my mother’s wedding dress.  Well, the answer to both of these questions was yes.  Of course I left her an emotional voicemail message on her cell phone when I called to ask her… and then when she said she would love to have the christening dress made from my mom’s wedding dress – that it would be a way to have her “there, and present in spirit” for the christening, well of course I got all emotional again.

And then… I began to panic; I started questioning whether I could bring myself to dismantle and cut up my mom’s dress.  While it has been boxed and put away ever since we cleaned out the house, the thought of cutting it up felt like I was betraying my mom in some sense.  Her wedding dress was the last “tangible” personal thing that I have, and seeing her dress made me feel closer to her in some way.  Odd… unusual, I know, but that was the way I was feeling.  I was half expecting the heavens to open up and lightnening to hit me when I made that first cut of the material…

Before I dismantled the dress, I wanted to preserve it in digital form.  Yes, we have my parent’s wedding pictures – my brother is the keeper of the wedding book – and this was for me.

I decided that I would document the transformation of my mom’s wedding dress into Sahara’s christening dress that would, hopefully, be kept and handed down through the family throughout the ages.  This process hasn’t been without a lot of tears shed (by me) in memory of my mom, but those tears have been a cleansing of the soul experience, a recognition of the circle of life, both in human form ( my mom may have passed on, but she, and my dad, live on in their great grand daughter, Sahara, because she has part of their DNA in her) as well as in material form (from wedding dress to christening dress).

So here are a few pictures of my mom’s dress.

Bodice with lace. I originally thought I would try to use this for the bodice of the christening dress, in the end, I kept the bodice of the dress intact.

Back and train

Close up of the back. I used some of the buttons for the christening dress.

When I took the dress out of the box and started looking at it closely, I found that the thread had aged to much that the back seam was literally falling apart. I took this as a “sign” and dismantled the dress.  🙂

dismantled dress. the only thing left together was the bodice, that I will keep, and try to think of some way to use it in it's original form.

My goal was to only use materials from my mom’s wedding for the christening dress.  I found this; I dimantled it and used the lace and flowers on the dress.

This was my mom's reception head dress.

My mom also kept the ribbons from her bouquet.  They had little flowers attached to them.  I used some of them and the flowers on the front of the christening dress as well.

Laying out the pattern for the dress, figuring out which of the dress panels to use, etc took some time.  I was able to lay out the bodice of the baby’s dress so that it has lace on it that was appliqued on my mom’s dress.

Laying out the pattern for the christening dress

skirt piece for the baby's dress

All the pieces cut out and ready to be sewn together. Boy was I nervous!

I'm really happy with the way the lace for the bodice came out.

The sleeves with the lace attached

The bodice completed and ready for the sleeves to be attached.

completed sleeves ready to attach to the bodice

completed top of dress, ready for the skirt.

lots of pins used to get the gathering just right for the skirt

I wanted to see how it would fit a baby.... So I put it on one of my baby dolls I have from when I was little.

Back of the completed dress.

Front of dress.

I think my mom would be proud of the transformation of her wedding dress. 🙂

And… I have quite a bit of the fabric left…mmm, what to make next that can be handed down in the family for generations to come???