Thursday, September 30, 2010

Upcycled Capelet Tutorial . Part I

Welcome to Part I of the Upcycled Capelet Tutorial. I had this idea a long time ago, found the perfect jacket this Summer, and used Kids Clothes Week over at Elsie Marley to make it happen. It may seem daunting but I am breaking it down into simple steps. Also, you do not have to make the hidden pouch with the lining. You can just skip those parts.

I really love how how this turned out. I found large hook and eye closures so that it could hang open or we can button it up using the jacket's original buttons and buttonholes. I used the Storybook Cape pattern from Grosgrain because it's a perfect fit and uses less fabric than a traditional circle cape. This makes a size 2 - 3 but can be easily enlarged by adding width to the fold line on the pattern back piece and the straight line of the pattern front piece. And, of course, length as needed.

Print out the pattern pieces from this link. You won’t need to print out the hood.

Print this collar pattern. I drafted this from the original pattern's hood so it is a perfect fit.

Trim two inches of the pattern from the bottom edge of both cape pieces.

Carefully remove the sleeves from the jacket.

Place the pattern on the jacket as shown if you want to use the buttonholes. As you can see, the pattern is hanging over the edge of the jacket at the opening because it has the seam allowance built in. Because I'm using the existing jacket edge, I don't need a seam allowance.

Cut 1 of the BACK on the fold from both the lining fabric and the jacket.

Cut 2 of the FRONT pieces from both the lining fabric and the jacket.

Cut the collar from what is left over. If you don’t have enough using a fold, add a seam allowance to the pattern at the fold line and cut from two different areas (like the sleeves).

A 3/8” seam allowance is incorporated into all the pattern pieces.

If you’d like a cleaner look to your arm openings, add a flap as shown.

Cut out and label all your pieces.

You will also need two 3.5” X 7.5” pieces of the lining fabric for the bound opening and two 5” X 7” pieces of something soft and warm like fleece for the hidden muff/pouch.

Trim the original inside seams from the jacket as shown (if they’re messy).

Fold in the “flaps” for the sleeve openings on all 8 pieces and stitch them down.

Mark placement for the bound openings as shown. The marks should be 3” from the bottom, 3” from the inside seam, and 4.5” long. One way to do this is to draw a line on your pattern, fold the paper over, then use the straight edge of the pattern as a guide.

Carefully cut the fabric on the line to make the opening.

Mark the lining fabric for the bound opening.
a. Draw a 4.5” vertical center line on the fabric.
b. Draw a line 1/2” on each side of the center line.
c. Draw short horizontal lines at the top and bottom to connect all three.

Place the lining fabric on the jacket front with right sides together (RST). You can see in the photo the edge of the original pocket. The center line of the lining should match up with the opening slit you just cut.

Stitch the rectangle as shown.

Cut the center line of the lining and cut a triangle from the center line to each outer line as shown.

Pull the lining to the inside of the jacket and handstitch it in place. Getting it to look just right takes a bit of fussing.

If your lining fabric is very slippery, you may want to adhere it to the jacket fabric. I used fusible interfacing (Wonder Under) and some scrap cotton fabric to make the patch. This is not necessary but it was getting on my nerves.

The hardest part is done! As you can see, I didn't do such a great job of lining up my fabrics so one side is wider than the other. Luckily, my 2-year old didn't notice.

We’ll do the lining and collar tomorrow. Special thanks to Kathleen at Grosgrain for the amazing original pattern.

Apologies for the terrible quality of some of the photos. I did most of this sewing after dark while the kid was asleep. Please, please, please let me know if you have any questions. I will answer them in the comments.

For Part II, click here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hair and a Kids Clothing Week wrap up

So would it be weird for me to bring this vintage pattern into a hairstylist and say, "This is what I want"? Is that taking it too far? Yes, please make me look like a 6-year old from 1978. Thanks.

And check this out. Elsie Marley made up a couple of photo collages of her favorites from Kids Clothes Week and she liked my little capelet. That really made my day. I definitely did the whole week. Even though I caught a nasty cold, I spent at least an hour each night working on my cross-stitch. I sew a lot but not every night. This was a good way to buckle down and focus.

I'll have Part I of the upcycled capelet tutorial up tomorrow. It is so much cuter on the kid than the hanger.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I forgot about finding this absolutely amazing coat for Katy Kitty at a thrift store. It was in good condition and super clean but I washed it anyway. She is ready for Winter.

I, however, am not. I think my cold is heading into round II. The capelet tutorial is coming soon. I'm working on it right now.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Crafty Storage Feature

My new little cubby system is up on Crafty Storage. You should really check it out. It's seriously my version of porn: beautifully organized craft supplies in fabulous bins and boxes on gorgeously styled shelves. Sigh.

It's totally not hoarding if it's like neat, right?

Friday, September 24, 2010

More yard sale finds

I have been hit hard with some welcome-to-Fall illness: coughing, sneezing, aching, runny nose, the whole lot. My plans for kids clothes week got knocked into the bin with a bunch of tissues. I've been keeping up with the goal of one hour per day with my cross-stitch, however.

So instead of handmade goodness, here are some of the amazing things I got last week when I went to a couple of yard sales with my mom. I love the recipe box in the top photo. It still has the price tag from the Hills department store of its birth. I love the color and my snaps needed a home to call their own. Those little kicks are E.T. Buster Browns from 1983 -- a fabulous thrift store find from a couple weeks back. This tin golf game from the 1950s is the best thing I think I have ever found secondhand. I plan to hang it on the wall in Zadie's big girl room as it matches the colors perfectly and will add the perfect vintage-y edge that I've been wanting. If anyone knows anything about it, I would love to know. It's a Pressman Toy and the company still exists but there is no date.

We also finally stopped into this fabric store that I have known about my whole life but never went into. I'm not usually anywhere near it (as it's a town away and not near much of anything else). I was surprised to find that it was quite well stocked. I picked up some cotton to make stockings for Zadie's school, some sewing supplies, and these buttons. There was an enormous bin full of buttons. You could pay by the pound or 3 cents each. I seriously could have spent all day going through the buttons. Next time I have a breakdown, find me there for therapy. It was so soothing.

I'll be back next week for a tutorial on the capelet, a tutorial on using your J foot to do a faux serged seam, and a couple of other surprises. As for now, I'm going to spend the evening watching House Hunters International, my new favorite show.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Upcycled Capelet

So I've had the idea for this capelet made out of an old sport coat for a long time now. I actually bought the jacket this Summer when it was like 90 degrees outside and very, very humid (um, surprisingly, just like today). I knew exactly what I wanted to do, I just wanted to wait until Fall but decided that Kids Clothes Week would be perfect.

I used the storybook cape pattern from Grosgrain like I did for this and this but made a few alterations including drafting the collar from the hood. I had never done anything like that before so I was pretty thrilled when it turned out. The first time the points were too long and it looked like it would be a great match for John Travolta from Staying Alive. Luckily I had made a muslin so it only took one quick fix to make it work.

The buttons and original pockets are fully functional. I used a bound buttonhole technique to make the openings in the front. They lead into a fleece-lined muff/pouch that is open so that she can clasp her hands together if she wants to (and she does).

I took photos of the complicated process and am working on a tutorial. And I just couldn't put Zadie in a wool tweed garment when it was super hot so you'll get cuter pics soon.

Update: The tutorial is finished! Click here for Part I and here for Part II.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Alphabet pants

This post is in the spirit of Kids Clothes Week because I actually finished them a couple of week ago. They were leftover from the inspiration of my first Kids Clothing Week where I made these yellow elephant pants.

Everyone was so encouraging and positive that I decided to make another pair from what was left of the Cosmo Cricket Girl Friday fabric I used to make a pinafore for a friend (well, her kid). I got really creative in my cutting to use up every stitch that was left.

These are a bit big at the waist so they'll be lovely capris come Spring. Again, I used the Sailor Pants pattern from danslalune on Etsy. I didn't have many issues putting them together the first time so they went together really quickly.

I pulled the tab from the front forward so that you could see the contrasting fabric. I don't usually use fabrics from the same collection together because it's so matchy-matchy but I think these are so different but so the same that it worked really well.

Monday, September 20, 2010

After I can sew no more...

In the evenings when I'm shot, I like to watch TV. I hate to just sit there though so I bought this awesome cross-stitch pattern from Heidi Kinney's Etsy shop. It's a fabulous rendition of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. I'm using some linen that I got locally (after spending hours searching the web). I'm not sure if it's the 32-count in the sample or not but it is working just fine.

I switched up the colors a bit to match Zadie's room: orange, apple green and aqua instead of red, kelly green and royal blue. It's lovely to count. I guess I like doing math and stuff. When I'm working on a small project, I keep all the gear in one of those bags that curtains come in. It keeps everything contained and neat. See the safety pins? Yeah, I don't like to use an embroidery hoop (plus mine is broken). Maybe that will change after a visit to Michael's.

I would love to make an apron for a dress out of this. That was the plan. But I've spent 3 - 4 hours on this already and I have 3 hats, a shirt, a belt, and one belt buckle stitched. So this was originally a kids clothing week item but we'll see. I estimated this would take me 22 days to stitch.

I blurred the pattern in the photo because even though the resolution of the image is small, I didn't want someone to be able to use it from the blog.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


This is a little peak of what I've been working on to prepare for kids clothing week. It's a lovely tweed jacket from the Hospice Thrift Store. It's the biggest sport coat I could find. I had an idea a long time ago to make this thing I've got going on and I'm pretty excited that it's working out well so far. So far. You know how it goes with me. More on that in a couple of days.

But for now, there is something I've been thinking about and I wanted to put it out there just in case anyone had any concerns. 1. Pattern Review. I review a LOT of patterns. I like to sew and I like writing about what works and what doesn't. No one has ever paid me to say good things about them or their patterns. I have bought everything I have written about except for the Carolina Fair Designs Pretty Pinafore. That I got in exchange for being a tester (and I explained that in the post). Basically that works like this: The designer puts out a call for testers, people like me say sure, then we make the item, then we tell the designer what's wrong with it so they can make it better so that the pattern is ready to sell. I put Carolina Fair Designs in the sponsors column because she was cool enough to giveaway two of her patterns to you readers (even though I had only asked if she might want to give one).

The other two sponsors are my awesome friends who agreed last minute to giveaway their products during my Earth Week extravaganza with Sabra of Sew a Straight Line. I feel like giving stuff away is really nice so maybe they will get some people clicking over to them in return. So far, no one is paying to advertise on this blog but one day I might go in that direction.

2. Have you noticed that if I don't think a pattern was any good, I don't include a link to where to find it? I kinda feel that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all but I also feel like if you're selling your designs as patterns, they better be good and flawless. I don't want to say mean things but I need to be honest too. If I like a pattern and it works, I'll totally link back to the shop.

3. I am happy to review/test patterns. Just send me an email and we'll talk. I will always be clear in posts whether I bought something or if it was given to me, just 'cause. That's all.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Gearing up for Kids Clothes Week

The Elsie Marley Kids Clothes Week challenge will be here soon. I'm preparing. I bought a Japanese sewing book with amazing stuff in it. There is one shirt with a Peter Pan collar that I've got my eye on. The body of it will be the circles and the collar will be the orange polka dots.

Or maybe I'll do it in this double voile with the cranberry as a collar. At the moment, I'm in no mood for buttonholes. Plus I need to finish the Jump Rope Dress. And I need a clothes week challenge for me! Who's in?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress Sew-Along

I have been busy working on the Jump Rope Dress by Oliver + S. I've made the patterns before and own several but this one seemed challenging so I was afraid to get started. Due to the success of the last sew-along, Sew, Mama, Sew decided to host another one. A couple of bloggers are writing up step-by-step tutorials with photographs. It's been really helpful. It's not that I couldn't do it, but it's nice to actually SEE it in full color. This is my finished placket. It's perfect (as far as I'm concerned) and how crazy that the dots of the fabric are lined up in the center like that. I would not have been able to do that so well if I had actually tried. This will help me when I go on to make the shirtwaist dress I've been gearing up for.

This is the collar in progress. The directions in the pattern are super easy to follow. It's almost like she is teaching you to sew instead of telling you how to make a garment.

This is my machine basting of the sleeve seam. I hate basting by hand and I hate basting by machine but it really does save you time in the long run. I need to get over that.

Here is the fabric. The polka dots are Amy Butler and the rest is Lizzy House from Castle Peeps. A little bit of solid in there too.

Monday, September 13, 2010


I finally found the perfect storage system for the office. That room does so many things, I knew I would need to tie everything together. So this is the wall I've shown before but the new cabinet is on the left. This room is my office and studio, Aaron's office, and Zadie's downstairs playroom (see our DIY play kitchen on the right).

This is the new cabinet. I needed it to be in that "maple" color to match Aaron's Jonas secretary desk and the "wood" of my Robin desk, both from Ikea. I also was hoping to find something that would double as a coffee table as this room is also our guest bedroom. The couch is a pullout (um, from Ikea via Aaron's sister and an impulse As-Is buy that obviously worked in our favor). The cabinet is not high quality but it fits and it works. I HATE the green bins and will re-cover them or put them to better use in the basement if I find something more beautiful.

Here is the top of the other wall of storage and use. The metal bins are from Lowe's and the gorgeous floral bins are Liberty of London from Target. The pink baskets are from Big Lots (you gotta check them out around Easter). The pink polka dot basket is from Michael's and I can't believe how perfect it fits.

This silver shelf is an old Ikea Billy that is still in good shape, surprisingly. I got the metal wire baskets from Target recently. The brown fabric-covered bin is a Martha Stewart box that I scored at TJ Maxx for 4 bucks (ha!). The cardboard photo boxes are from Michael's too. I still need to get another one to replace that ugly plastic bin with the blue lid but I'm not going to make a special trip out that way. I also need to buy one more binder. The cardboard recycled ones are from Office Depot and the two brown ones are from Target. I think I'm going to spruce them up with some ribbon.

I am loving my space. The photos are heavily tagged in flickr if you wanna know what goes where.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Travel tips: Marking the map

So this is an awesome tip courtesy of my mom. It's also the last of the tips for the week. Super easy but I don't know why I had never thought of it before. Just get a map of the place you're going and mark all the places you want to check out.

As you can see this is the Manhattan bus map. We put all the places from a travel book we bought (and Aveda because I needed some shampoo) so that we could see where they were in relation to each other. This map also has the Subway stops just in case. But I like to take the bus while we're in the city so that I can check out all the cool architecture from the windows. I'm also a spatial person and I get super turned around using the Subway. I'd much rather walk than go underground.

I used this trick on our more recent trip to NYC and noted all the shops I wanted to check out in the Garment District. I just printed out a map image from the Google maps search I did of the most central location and made sure it had all the other streets on it. When the day was over, I just recycled the paper.

This little tip also worked exceptionally well when we spent a day in Old San Juan in Puerto Rico. There is a lot going on in that small area but with the toddler in tow, we couldn't check out everything so I mapped it all out beforehand so we could make more informed decisions once there. For that day trip, I just used a trolley map that I found online. I actually think this is a brilliant idea and now you can see where I got my smarts from.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Travel Tips: Taking it home and making it yours

I kinda think that shopping is the best part of traveling but don't tell anyone I said that. When we go to new places, I LOVE to see what they are selling -- from the supermarket to the convenience store. And more than anything, more than anything, I love outdoor markets, artisan fairs and farmer's markets. Oh, and more than that, flea markets -- but I rarely find them when we're traveling. I think you can learn more about a place and its people by the stuff they sell. That's probably not the case with outdoor markets near cruise ship ports and stuff like that but it's still fun to check them out.

The picture above depicts a little vignette on the mantel in our shared office/studio. The painting is from St. Martin. We love artwork involving figures holding large weapons. Who doesn't? The plaster wigwam is from a little trip Mr. Lemon and I took just a couple of months after we started dating. We stayed in Number 11 of the Wigwam Motel. The mask is a vejigante piece from Puerto Rico. What makes it great is that we actually met the artist and got to talk to him at this amazing festival held yearly in Barranquitas. The cement door is not from a trip but sure looks good there. We got it at Crafty Bastards a couple of years ago.

We try not to buy a bunch of crap when we're on vacation. We try to pick out something special like local art or a traditional craft. When we come home we incorporate the stuff into our daily lives. We went a little crazy in Mexico and picked up the boxes because they were so awesome. The bottlecaps are from cool beers Mr. Lemon imbibed (his favorite travel activity is definitely beer). He had the little skeletons before we met. I made the Lovers book. It is about us. I included the doorway in the shot so that you can better see the layout of the house. That yellow paint is from the kitchen. You are looking out our office door into the living room which has the kitchen doorway off of it.

These fruits are painted coconuts that I got shortly after we bought the house. We had the retro/fruity vibe going on and I was way too excited when I found these. They are from a different trip to Mexico for work.

These amazing puppets are from someone else's trip but they rock. This is the mantel from our living room. It is identical to the one in the office. You can see from this photo how tall they are as that is the ceiling there in the upper left corner. And the painting on the right is from our honeymoon trip to Belize. How fitting. Even though all these items are from different corners of the globe, they all work together because they are so "us."

I went to a million thrift stores with my friend Sandi last week and I kept finding all these souvenir plates and spoons and toothpick holders. Wow. And while I think they're all beautiful for their kitsch value, they're just not the things you hold on to -- and certainly not the things your kids are going to hold on to when you die, right?

Special thanks to Mr. Lemon for putting up with my need to do so much shopping on trips.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Travel tips: Beware the Chupacabras

Around here, we take our souvenirs to the next level. While in Puerto Rico this Summer, we decided to check out some gift shops near the rainforest since the rainforest was closed due to the tropical storm hovering over us for several days (yeah, yeah, you've heard it before). I hadn't really liked any of the t-shirts in the shop until I came across this AMAZING chupacabra design. Unfortunately, they didn't have any in Zadie's size but it hit me that I could buy the largest one in the shop and cut it up to make a dress.

I used this pattern that I bought off Etsy and didn't really have any problems with it. I made the size 3t. If I were to make this again either larger or smaller, I would make sure that the width of the shoulder seams on the bodice matched the straps. They are spot on for the 3 but as the pattern uses the same strap, it won't be even with all sizes.

The dress is a great fit and should also work next year. I liked how it has a self-lined bodice so it's very soft on the inside. I purposely added the black panel and off-set the image just for visual interest. I don't really like centering things (if you hadn't noticed). The rest of the fabric is from old t-shirts we have in the stuff-to-repurpose bin. I also used my machine's J foot and did faux serged seams for the skirt. That's an amazing technique and I plan to post about it.

I love the Chupa's glowing red eyes in the drawing. It reminds me of our very own mothman. Just in case you need a gentle reminder, we are huge fans of the yeti around here. My own obsession dates back to (roughly) 1983 and a papier mache project gone terribly awry. El Chupa Cabras is another of the cryptids. He originated in Puerto Rico in the mid-1990s. Some fascinating stuff. We were lucky to avoid him (probably because of all the rain).

But one of the reasons I love to travel is to learn about stuff like this. And although I knew about the chupacabras, I didn't know he was from PR. Whenever we go someplace new, I make sure to read fiction by local authors and I get as many guidebooks as possible to learn the history of the place. And buying a shirt like this and making it work really adds to the whole experience. I will keep this dress forever. I would not have kept the shirt forever had we bought one that fit.

Watch out or the Chupa will get ya! This one's female and her claws are sharp.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Travel tips: toddler in tow

We have flown twice now with our toddler and while we're by no means pros, we have certainly learned a few things. It pretty much comes down to snacks and keeping busy.

The first flight we took started out great but then we had airplane issues and were trapped in the Charlotte airport for an entire day. On the way home, we were lucky enough to spend an entire day in the airport and then a night in a fabulous Charlotte hotel. The joys. But luckily we were pretty prepared with snacks and toys (and extra diapers -- I learned from a friend to pack more than you think you are going to need. She learned the hard way).

For the 14-month old, the best thing we ever bought was a Doodlepad. At the time, she wasn't drawing much but she LOVED it when we would draw for her. She liked making animal sounds and had a blast naming the animals that we sketched out.

I picked up this guy from the local toy store and he has been beloved ever since. It was nice to have something new for her to play with but I made the mistake of bringing only new toys because I thought the novelty would do the trick but I think it would have been nice to have some old favorites as well.

I brought along a couple of wind-up toys and cars, a favorite book for bedtime, and of course her crib entourage. I made this cloth book and finger puppet sack, Katy Kitty, and picked up finger puppets at Old Navy on clearance. The handmade toys have only recently become beloved so I could have done better.

She was 2 this Summer when we went to Puerto Rico and having learned from last year, we brought along a couple of her favorite toys and the Doodlepad again. This year she is drawing on her own so it is getting some great use.

I made this lego sack and we surprised her on the plane with it. She is a huge fan of legos and loves to stack so we figured it was a good time to "upgrade" to the smaller pieces. We left all the tiny tiny ones at home so they wouldn't get lost. I also picked up a few activity books with stickers and a few new sheets of stickers. Twistables are something new that I've just discovered. Amazing. I also got all girly and bought a tiny Strawberry Shortcake doll. I actually think it was for me but Zadie loved the comb and her dress.

In the picture above you see those chubby little fingers playing with beads. I picked up a huge tub of beads from Michaels with a coupon and a pack of pipe cleaners and they really kept her busy. She loved stringing the beads on the plane and especially in the room. Since a tropical storm hovered directly over our vacation rental for 3 days (did I mention that?), I was so glad to have these. I just brought along a smaller container of the beads.

OK, snacks. I won't go on and on but I absolutely love these pouches of smashed fruits. We just discovered them and they are amazing. We keep them on hand for the car or for special treats. If you order from Amazon and subscribe, you save an extra 15%. There are several brands but when I bought them, Plum had the best price in the organics. That seems to have changed.

I also brought along all of her favorite snacks and had way more than necessary but I'd rather haul a couple of pounds of tiny cookies and crackers through security than deal with a meltdown so it was well worth it.

We stashed all of her toys and books in a backpack. We have a yeti from our awesome friends in Canada but how cute is this bee?

For both trips I spent way too much time packing a getting ready but I do think it paid off. We had two great trips by airplane but we also use some of these same toys and bring loads of snacks if we go somewhere in the car.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Travel Tips: Keeping it Cheap(er)

Day 1 of Travel Week is here!

While I'm not going to post about it as often as I'd like (I have a full-time job and only so much vacation), TRAVEL is super important to us. When we go on trips, sure, we like to have fun and relax but really, we want to see the world -- almost all of it. Unfortunately, we don't have unlimited resources so I try to get the best rates possible. And why start Travel Week after Labor Day? Because that's when the off-season begins and the best deals are found (most of the time, consider stuff like hurricane season, holidays, etc.).

So here are some "rules" for finding good rates:

1. Be flexible. Since I teach, we can only travel in the Summer. That sucks because it's super crazy expensive to fly to Europe in June. But it's cheap to fly to the Caribbean because it's so hot. When I search for airfares, I make sure to use sites that let me put in a wide margin of time so that I can select the cheapest times/days to fly.

2. Take your time. I spend at least 2 weeks searching for fares and doing research before making a commitment.

3. Be prepared. If there is something that you really really really want to do on a trip. Make sure you book ahead (if possible) and try to do it early in your trip. That way if a tropical storm hovers directly over your vacation rental for 3 days and washes out all the roads and the rainforest that's only 20 minutes away (see photo above), you'll have already been there, done that, instead of checking out a waterfall on the side of the road the day you need to head to the airport.

4. Find a good forum. You can get the best information from people who have already been to the places you want to go. Unfortunately, there is no one site for the entire world. You have to search around for some good ones by location. I found Tripadvisor to be great for Puerto Rico, TTOL to be an excellent resource for St. Martin, and I've long been a fan of the Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree Travel Forum. Spend some time reading posts before you start asking questions and get to "know" the frequent posters.

Sites I love:

Kayak has this amazing feature called Buzz that lets you see the top 25 locations and also the lowest fares to places. They have a new search called Explore that is looking very promising and I can't wait to try it out. We've chosen our destinations based on the cheapest flights for several years now and that method hasn't let us down. Of course Orbitz, Travelocity, and Expedia have their own features and you can decide which one is best for you based on how you like to search. I prefer Orbitz because they have an excellent flexible dates search (limit 30 days, but still good).

Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO), HomeAway, and Cyberrentals all seem to be the same website somehow but each (like the fare finders above) has their own little pros and cons. One has a better amenities limit, one has unedited reviews. Again, it takes some time and a good map. The thing about staying at a vacation rental rather than a hotel is that you're not going to have someone changing your sheets everyday or all that other good stuff. On the plus side, you will save a lot of money and have the use of a kitchen. We save a lot of money when we travel by buying groceries and I really don't need someone changing my own toilet paper.

Since travel is so important to us, we are as frugal as possible the rest of the year. We don't buy DVDs or CDs, we don't go out to eat very often, we buy used cars and rarely, among other things. I can't remember the last time I paid full price for a piece of clothing and I have extreme guilt when I buy a new piece of furniture. Right now we're living pretty much on one income but we make sacrifices in a lot of ways to be able to see little slices of the world once a year. Crazy I feel compelled to justify all that but anyway. One day I want to be able to travel even more -- like for weeks or months at a time.