Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Much Delayed Coat Project

I dug through my boxes of patterns....

Did some ironing of paper.....

And de-taping (what was I thinking?  Wait, no, I know... so glad I know a better way to fit princess seams now!)

And pinning...

And anyway it wasn't five billion degrees in the patio today...

So - we have the beginnings of the Much Delayed Coat Project


Doesn't look impressive - but I've figured out the following:  1) I want to increase the size of the front piece by 2" and the side-front by 1" (on both sides).  2) I have committed to the ankle-length version of this coat (yes, I bought enough fabric).  I neither need nor want to increase the rest of the coat (well, at least until I muslin it - that's what those are for).  I'm 5'2" - doing increases where I need increases is a better plan than starting from a bigger overall pattern.  Everything *else* goes out of whack.

Next up, I'll muslin from about hip up - just a quickie, to see how much of an FBA I'll need after I add that much room to the aforementioned pieces.  After I plot out the FBA, I'll make a full length muslin, to check proportions of everything.

Here's hoping the weather stays cool!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sorta-been Sewing

The original dress, in aqua with purple flowers
As you know, my sewing space is in my patio.  My enclosed, but still entirely not-temperature-controlled patio.  In the winter, my night sewing gets curtailed.  Right now - in the hottest month of the year - I'm finding it difficult to go out there at all.

Ne'ertheless, I managed to finish 10yo's last "school dress" for the fall.  Finally.

I frankensteined the original dress off of a chemise pattern, a cool sleeve, and a skirt ruffle.  But she didn't like the sleeve - it flips over her shoulder all the time.  Okay for an adult, annoying for a kid.

So I redesigned the sleeve into a tulip sleeve.  And it fits into the arm-hole okay, but what I didn't realize is that because the armhole sits so far back on the body, the sleeves can be a wee bit awkward since even though these are openish sleeves, they're not the mere flounces that I was originally working with.

Eh.  That means my next dress for her will have to be drafted from scratch.  Something I was trying to avoid, on a body that is growing rapidly.   (She grew 2" this summer).  It is what it is - her proportions are NOT those of a woman, but she's substantially larger than the largest "child" size.  This is why I make my (and her) clothing.  :p

Not-being-perfect and awesome also demotivated me.  :p

Oh well.  They're good dresses.  She'll wear them, she'll grow out of them.  They're modest and flattering and comfortable.  And I learn.


First off:  I rummaged through the scrap drawers, and found this blue butterfly fabric that I'd used for a dress for her in kindergarten.  I didn't have enough to cut the skirt too, so I used leftovers from my blue eyelet blouse.  Essentially this was a free dress.

Second dress:  10yo picked this fabric herself.  It's a slightly stretchy quilting-weight cotton (I know, weird), but it suits her very well.  Self-fabric for the skirt.... the interesting detail here is the pink binding on the sleeve edges.

The first and second dresses were made with quilting cotton, and they're both a lot stiffer than the third dress.  To be fair to myself, I drafted this dress to be made in voile, and the voile dress DOES look a ton better than the first two.  I'm still working on this whole, "must use exactly the right weight fabric" thing.  :p


The third dress was used with some cotton voile I picked up at Joanne's (yes, they do have a small clothing-appropriate fabric selection).  I had more fun with this - used smaller pintucks, to reflect the smaller print and the lighter fabric (actually all three dresses have different sizes and spacings for the tucks), used embroidery to finish the hem and sleeves, and an interesting ribbon at the hip.

So - I'm done for now with little-girl dresses.  I need to draft and create some little-girl shorts to wear under dresses, but for now - pax.  Onward ... to more challenging waters.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Old-School Way of Life

A lot of the time, I think that everyone knows everything that I know, or at least the things I take for granted.  And then I bump up against the fact that some of the things I know have gone so out of vogue that they're radical new ideas in health or homemaking.

So.  My mom is old enough that she was a kid before they had the polio vaccine.  It used to be called the summer sickness.  My grandma *enforced* mandatory summer napping, to help reduce her kids' chances of getting sick.

*I* remember being sent **to bed** whenever I was sick with anything much more than the sniffles.  Do you remember that rule?  If you're sick enough to stay home, you're sick enough to stay in bed.  And in bed I would stay, until I was back up to "sniffles".  It wasn't under discussion (although mom would deliver fresh lemonade and homemade chicken soup).  I also stayed home from school until I was well.  It was totally normal to be out of school for a week because you had the flu.  (It was also normal not to have everyone in a class out sick.  Yeah.  Concept - you didn't bring your sick self out in public).

I remember being stuck outside in the sun, to bake out a cough.  And being made to get fresh air and sunshine.  I learned, "two vegetables for every supper, one orange, one green, one raw, one cooked" at my mother's knee.

So when folks insist on going to work sick as dogs or won't take rest or won't get a bit of sun or won't eat their veggies.... it drives me absolutely bonkers.

Sorry for sitting on this vital info folks - I thought you knew!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Tonight's Menu: Lettuce wraps, rice noodles and Thai peanut sauce

I just fed six adult appetites (my kids eat a lot, lol) and a toddler on a couple of packets of ground chicken, a couple of heads of lettuce, and a couple of packets of rice noodles.  Three of those appetites were adult men, and all of us did hard work all day - either moving, at work, or yardwork.  Everyone *raved*, and it was a very easy meal on a hot day.  So - sharing.  I don't really measure, so uh... work with me.

Lettuce wraps (chicken):

3lb ground chicken
1/2 white onion, diced fine
3 stalks celery, diced fine
1 bunch green onions, sliced
3 carrots, grated
Spices and yumminess... sriracha sauce (4tbsp?), soy sauce, hoisin sauce, black pepper, salt, garam masala, worchester sauce, sesame oil  .... I just put it in until it tasted good.  I know, helpful.

I fried the white onion and the chicken in some sunflower oil, then added the spices.  When the chicken was mostly cooked, I added the celery and the scallions.  When it was completely cooked, I tossed in the grated carrots and let the ambient heat cook them a teensy bit.

Two heads lettuce - I used green leaf lettuce, and I'm going to put about half a head of lettuce away.  You wash and separate the lettuce leaves.  Drain/dry them.

Spoon chicken mix into lettuce leaves - three leaves with 1/4c mix seemed to fill up the average bear.  The not-average bears went back for seconds.

Rice noodles:  Follow package directions.  I got the threads, you just have to stick them in hot water for 10 minutes, then drain.  I tossed the noodles with a bit of peanut sauce, then served individual puddles of peanut sauce for ... well.  It's peanut sauce.

Thai Peanut Sauce:  My family alleges that they will eat this if I pour it over bricks.  It's easy to make, just messy.  I make this giant thing of peanut sauce because I could never figure out what to do with the rest of the can of coconut milk before it went off.  It freezes very nicely, and it's an awesome thing to have in your bag of tricks.  Anyway, we all nom on this like mad creatures.  And yes, you really need the fish sauce.  I hate fish... use the fish sauce.

Peanut Sauce

1 can coconut milk
4 cups natural peanut butter (get it at the whole foods store, they have it in little plastic tubs)
1 1/3 cup water
8 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp sesame oil
8 tbsp brown sugar
8 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp tamarind paste OR 4 Tbsp lime juice (fresh)
4 tsp sriracha sauce (or more, this amount gives it flavor but no bite)

Blend all in a food processor.  Or use a stick blender.  Whatever.  Just make sure the garlic gets blended and the rest gets mixed thoroughly, it's all pretty liquidy so it goes together in a very straightforward fashion.  Freeze the extra, you'll get tired of it in a few days (I know, seems amazing to me too - but experience shows you only want one good wallow in the heaven of peanut sauce/wk or so).

So that was dinner.  I fried up some chicken, threw in some spices, chopped up a few veggies, washed some lettuce and defrosted some peanut sauce.  Healthy, relatively cheap, and everyone loved it.

I share.  :)

Monday, September 8, 2014

When life hands you lemons

Life is going to be interesting around these parts for a while.  So - how do you cope when you are expecting a high-stress season in your life?

Fill up the bucket.  Don't fritter your life away.  Make conscious choices.  (And God.  First, last, always).

Fill up the bucket.
-  Do the things you know you need to do to take care of yourself.  Take exercise.  Eat right.  Get plenty of sleep.  Spend time with your spouse/kids.  Spend time alone.  You know all that stuff you know you are supposed to do, and you kinda/sorta do it?  Do eet.  No excuses.
-  There will be days when you hit up the unhealthy life-crutches (hot fudge, I'm talking about you). Reduce these to the absolute minimum.  If this is going to be a stressful season, not a stressful day, you cannot afford the side effects.
- Feel free to use healthy crutches liberally.  Chamomile tea?  You betcha.  Vitamin B?  Yep.  Long hot baths with lovely bath salts?  Yeah, baby.  Treat yourself with kindness.

Don't fritter your life away.
-  Figure out how much time is okay to flick-flick-flick through the social media - and limit yourself.  The answer to your stress and your problems is not on facebook.  Or popcap.  Or WoW.
-  Do, do the things that are important to you, work on your goals.  Did you want to learn paper mache?  Well, find a book or a class.  Did you want a room clean?  Stress is *excellent* for cleaning power.  Can be slow to start, but once you get going... there's definitely a certain satisfaction in scrubbing things.
- Don't just sit there.  It doesn't help you to sit and fret.  Or sit and pretend that you're not fretting.

Make conscious choices.
- So how are you going to work realio trulio extra veggies and miles on your treadmill into your life?  I dunno - but I'm sure that you do.  Sit down, think it out, insert it into your life.  Don't be mean about it, figure out how to slide these good things in sensibly, sensitively, and joyfully.
- Think about the things that will help you cope with whatever the stressful situation is.  Long-term move?  Research the new neighborhood.  Start packing and sorting as early as possible.  Illness in the family?  Start making freezer food.
- Find and make connections with folks in your circle.  Most folks will help at least a little, especially if you know exactly what you want them to do and have thought it out before hand so you're asking the person who is *always* at the store to pick up a spot of extra milk and ask the neighbor with five kids to drop yours off with hers rather than vice versa.
- Be organized.  Be prepared.  If this is a season, do as much thinking-ahead as you can.  You can't catch every eventuality, but if you've got a "this day just sucks completely" plan in place... hey.  It's better to have an umbrella if it looks like rain, right?

.......
I do have a few pictures to post eventually.  I sewed up 2/3 dresses for my daughter, not that I'm too excited about them.  The last one is ready to assemble - it's been too hot to sit in my outdoor patio to sew.  And 14yo's room will have pix eventually too... when he's done sorting and decorating.  :)  Patience!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

My Sweetest Friend

I know there is a section of the universe that finds it annoying when grown women refer to other grown women as their BFFs.  I am officially excepting myself from that annoyance... I've been best friends with the same gal for nearly thirty years.  

When I say, "BFF" I want you to hear "heart-sister".  K?  Or twin, my husband tells me that the two of us share a brain.  We've laughed, cried and danced together.  Skipped through the mall singing "We're off to see the wizard" together (no, we weren't drunk).  We were bridesmaids at each others' weddings and held hands while we had our babies.  She's diapered my kids, I've diapered hers.

When she had to move away, it took the last person an entire semester to stop calling me by her name.  We kept up the friendship, even across nearly the entire country.  Soon she'll live only four houses away from me.  I can't wait!

I love my dear sweet K almost as much as I love my husband or my kids.  She's *my* K, and we come as a matched set!  (The husbands know this, poor husbands).



She's so beautiful, she's always reminded me of a Waterhouse mermaid.


 If you wanted someone lovely inside, lovely outside, you couldn't do better than K.  I don't know anyone who dislikes her, and if I did I'd consider that an indication of dangerous insanity.   She has a strong gift of mercy.  She's just beautiful!

I'm feeling sentimental about her today, so I am sharing someone truly TRULY lovely with you.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Just a small moment of squee

So I was surfing the new McCalls patterns... and they actually had some cute, relevant, different patterns for the younger woman.  I was PSYCHED.  Not to mention I think I finally found the right skirt for my peplum jacket a la Gertie.  (Hey, that red wool is special - I'm not going to put it together with something less than awesome).

Then I saw that the two patterns that I was so enamored of were made by the same designer - a designer that I've got a fitting class on Craftsy to work though (I've watched it through, and it's good/has a different way of going about the changes, a way that makes soooo much more sense if you have a lot of odd changes to make instead of just one area of your body to change).  (I should work it through before hitting my paintbrush fabric dress...)

So - someone with some interesting and different ideas about fitting is coming on the scene, and she's making crazy and interesting patterns out of the Big Four ($2 on sale at Joannes about once/month if you're keeping track).  I couldn't be happier.  Oh wait.  I scroll down her blog and she's putting that fitting advice in a book.  Really?  REALLY?  A book?

Yeah, I know.  Fangirl moment.  But of someone whose name I didn't recognize, though I did recognize the face.

So here's the coat I think is awesome (though I think it would be better as a coat dress.  Probably because even one coat like this is insane here in SD county, and I'm planning to make a classic Vogue version):

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/177610779029699413/

And here's the skirt with some serious potential (check the way it's flowing):

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/177610779029699422/

I kinda like that top too.  Peplums are my friend - anyone with a bit too much tummy will feel the love.

Anyway.  I'll have pix of my son's room at some point this week...  we painted his room this weekend.  TOTALLY different than 10yo's room.  Totally.