Sewing project: Helen’s Closet York Pinafore

I went back and forth for a long, long time about this pattern* by Helen’s Closet (one of the hosts of the excellent Love to Sew podcast.) It was cute! But it wouldn’t suit my particular shape. But it was so cute! But not for me. I mean, it’s fine – not everything flatters everyone. But I kept going back to it. And there were two different views, one shorter with a higher scoop, and I thought that would work on me. I wasn’t sure about the “cocoon” shape of the skirt, but that could be modified easily enough. I also wasn’t sure if the width of the top would work with the width of me. Would it accentuate my width in a good way or a bad way?

Finally, I just went ahead and bought it (the day before it went on sale for 15% off, naturally – so if you like it go buy it now!) and got two yards of linen at Joann since they were having a sale.

Short version: I love it!

OH HI AREN’T I CUTE?

Long story: I cut out the XXL size, lengthened the upper bit 3/4″ to accommodate my bosoms (according to the excellent pattern instructions), and added 2″ to the bottom bit (not the hem but the lengthen line) to accommodate my height. (I mean, I wanted the short length but not THAT short.)

I went with the kangaroo pocket because it’s cute, and bought gold topstitching thread. I used it around the pocket curves and started to use it everywhere there was topstitching but then I realized it was starting to look more like a butcher’s apron or something industrial and that wasn’t exactly the look I was going for. But I like the little accent it gives. I also used navy bias tape so it blends in pretty well. It’s all on the inside anyway, but next time I plan to use something contrasting because it would peek out from the armholes especially. (Yes, there will most definitely be a next time.

After it was fully made, I ended up straightening the curve in the hips quite a bit – I’m not sure if it was the “cocoon” curve that didn’t suit me, or if the size was too big in the hips, but I think I like the straighter skirt anyway, so I think I may just modify the pattern itself. We’ll see how it goes.

I’m super excited about this. I love that I can wear fitted tops with it and not feel self-conscious about them. I love the pocket! And the length! I can’t wait to make some for winter to wear with tights and boots! This is going to be my new uniform! I’m just going to make a dozen of them and just wear them every day!

MOM WHAT ARE YOU DOING UP THERE????

* naturally it went on sale the day after I bought it. So buy it right now while it is on sale! Sale ends July 22nd at midnight PST.

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Tiny triplets

The other night I was looking for a specific old video clip and I was shocked to come across some old videos of the boys as newborns that I had never seen before. Well, obviously I had seen them at some point because I was the one recording them, but I have absolutely no recollection of them.

This is a video of George holding Oliver the night we roomed in with him at the hospital, the night before we brought him home. He came home two days before his brothers. The most special part of this video for me is the very end. I was always very sad that I didn’t have any “going home” photos of me holding the boys as they wheeled me out of the hospital. I still don’t, but this little shot of Oliver in his carseat as George jingles the keys to get the car made me cry a little, I’m not going to lie.

And I love this because it’s a video version of this photo that I’ve looked at a zillion times. It’s the first day they were all home together, December 17, 2007.

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This is why I’m a digital hoarder!

 

SD Expo 2018 recap

This may come as a surprise, but I didn’t go to Portland solely to shop for fabric. The main reason I went was to give a workshop at SD Expo, a conference for support professionals.

My former coworker and current friend Andrea Badgley now works for Support Driven, the company that puts on SD Expo, and I was excited to hear that our flights arrived at about the same time. We took the train from the airport into the city together, and then met up with Denise, another Automattician for lunch at Deschutes Brewery. It was so great to see them again!

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Later, we went to the AirBNB offices and met up with some of the conference attendees and also toured the offices. Sounds weird, right? I was a bit skeptical about touring offices, but they were actually pretty cool.

The next day, we were up bright and early for the expo, which was held at an arena on the campus of Portland State University. Automattic was also a sponsor, so we set up our booth and I freaked out about my workshop, which was that morning.

My workshop was meant to help customer support agents get to the bottom of confusing questions from users. It happens. It was charmingly titled “I’m sorry, can you repeat the question? Getting to the bottom of what the customer is really asking”.

I didn’t finish polishing it until the night before I left for Portland. I work best on a deadline, and I know this, but nevertheless, I probably could have done without the stress. And I was also determined to tailor a couple of WordPress t-shirts to wear, but they weren’t getting delivered until that day. So yeah. Time management skills are definitely not my forte.

Since I was running a workshop and not just giving a talk, I needed an activity. I had a basic idea of what I was going to do (use low-tech scenarios to have people role-play customer and support agent) but I wasn’t sure how to execute it. I just couldn’t make it gel. But finally, about a week before, it came to me in a flash.

Fast forward to Thursday at about 10:45am. I’m walking towards the workshop room with my colleague Ainslie, who volunteered to help me demonstrate and keep things moving. There was a crowd of people waiting outside the room.

No, surely these people weren’t waiting to get into the room for my talk. Surely they were just…waiting in line for the bathroom? Or just chatting? Or were lost? Alas, my dream of having a half-full room for my workshop (just enough to not feel pathetic, but not too many to be overwhelmed) was shot down when all 48 seats at the tables were taken and another dozen or so people sat in chairs along the walls.

I nervously confidently got started, and fortunately, only had to talk for about ten minutes before the fun part started – the activity.

Looking nervous confident in the shirt I tailored (I can’t not talk about sewing a little.)

And also looking just like the nerd emoji. 🤓

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Uncanny.

The workshop part went like this…everyone divided into pairs. One person was the customer, and the other was the support agent. They were given an envelope with two sealed cards. The customer’s card detailed a problem they were having with a company’s product. The support agent’s card only said what the company was. The agent had to guess what the problem was, using techniques I’d discussed in my talk.

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In the demo, I was the customer, and Ainslie was the support agent.

Her card simply said “You are a support agent for ACME BOOKSELLERS”

I started out saying “I got a book to read to my kid, but I can’t read it!” She asked, “is there anything wrong with the book?” I clarified that no, the book itself was fine, the pages weren’t torn or anything. But I just couldn’t read the words. And YES, I can read.

After a few probing questions, she thought to ask me to spell a few of the words to her.

“B-O-N J-O-U-R”, I said. And voila! She figured out the problem.

Here’s what my card said.

The rest of the scenarios were similar, and you can download the set here, if you like.

The discussion was lively, and people ran through several scenarios in the time we had. The room got loud! So loud we had to borrow one of the participants to whistle for us.

There were still about ten minutes left, so I opened the floor to let people talk about their experiences either at the workshop or in real life, or if they had questions. Naturally I expected dead silence, but I was happy that we had a lively discussion with people asking questions and hands being raised and I got to call on people and pretend like I was a teacher and everything. It was fantastic.

But the best part of all was after. The people who came up to me to tell me how great it was, and how much they got out of it. It really made all of the stress worth it. But maybe next time I’ll start earlier. (Yeah right.)

I can’t talk about SD Expo, though, without talking about my colleagues’ talks. Denise gave a workshop on weekend scheduling that gave me a profound respect for the work she does at Automattic. Maureen talked about the concierge support we give to our Business-level users, and we got to do a fun Mad Libs activity. And Kathryn talked about her experiences in the WordPress community forums, which she’s been involved with for many years.

I also got to talk to potential Happiness Engineer candidates (you know we’re hiring, right?), pick the brains of other people who hire support teams for their companies, eat amazing doughnuts, meet some famous cats, and fly home first class. Not bad!

 

10 years on WordPress!

It’s hard to explain how the decision I made on July 10, 2001 to document my marathon training literally changed my life. WordPress didn’t even exist yet. In the beginning, this blog was just an HTML page that I updated and each month I’d start a new page. (Not to worry, you can read all those posts here – I copied them into blog posts a while back.)

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Hand coded HTML
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Every website needed a splash page in 2003!

But ten years ago today, on July 11, 2008, I moved my blog to WordPress.com – for several years before that, it was hosted, uh, elsewhere. But once I met WordPress, it was love at first site sight.

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Finally on WordPress.com in 2008!

And of course, in 2013 it led to me working at Automattic. My dream job!

I don’t blog for a big audience. I blog to document my life, so I can go back and read it later. (I’m hopelessly nostalgic.) I blog because there was no way I was going to be able to keep three baby books going. I blog because I love photography. And I love to photograph my kids. I blog because I like to keep in touch with old friends.

And if it weren’t for WordPress, I surely would have given up long ago. And I wouldn’t have the amazing colleagues and friends I’ve made over the past four and a half years. I wouldn’t have a job I love, that constantly challenges me. I wouldn’t have Ziggy!

This is post 3,808.

Here’s to 3,808 more.

One twenty seven

Soccer and flossing. This is 10 years and seven months.

The last ten July 4 pictures, just for fun.

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And bonus: I made these culottes/shorts for myself for the 4th.

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The picture keeps freaking me out because the wood floor looks like my right leg, which is really behind my left leg. Anyway, you might not be able to see, but the fabric is navy with white stars. This was taken at my friend Steph’s house and I love how warm and New Orleans-y her kitchen is.

A visit to Portland, Oregon

I went to Portland a couple of weeks back for work. I really should be blogging about that part, but I’ll save that for the next post. This time, I want to talk about the fabric stores I visited! (Also what I made with my bounty so far.)

I had a few free hours here and there, and when possible, I snuck away to one of the zillions of sewing stores in the area. The first one I went to was Mill End. I had to take a Lyft there and back, which wasn’t cheap, but I’m still glad I went.

But it was overwhelming. Probably a good thing for my wallet, because I could have spent thousands in there. There was so much fabric! And types that I just can’t buy in person here. Knits and swim fabric and linens and silks and sequins and on and on and on.

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Miles and Linus – TV stars extraordinaire!

A few weeks ago – on the last day of school, actually, I got a call from someone at a local casting company. I’d submitted all three boys for a role as extras on Claws, and she was calling to let me know that Miles and Linus were picked to be on the show.

Uh oh. This did not go over well with Oliver. It broke my heart a little bit, I’m not going to lie. But such is life as stars in Hollywood South, I suppose. What can you do?

The following week, I had to take M & L to get fitted for their outfits for the episode. Strangely, the clothes were all vintage from the late 50s. Seems odd for a very modern show. Turns out, they were going to be in a scene that takes place in a Leave it to Beaver type dream sequence, complete with laugh track.

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The next day, all four of us went to the filming. It was a long, long day of sitting mostly in a pool house that overlooked the private tennis court on a golf course. Fancy stuff! Oliver was quite the trouper, though, not complaining nearly as much as I would have. Anyway, about halfway through the day, one of the producers came to tell another mom and me that our kids were chosen to say a line, so we’d have to fill out contracts and whatnot.

Two words Miles had to say and suddenly we were in a world of SAG and contracts and trusts (so I can’t spend all of his hard-earned money on mink coats and sewing machines.) It was crazy.

Anyway, the episode aired last night, and unlike the last time Miles filmed a scene for Claws, this time it actually made it onto the show! Yay! They both did such a great job, I’m so proud of them! And now I’m going to only dress them in vintage clothes from the 50s and part their hair and grease it down. Okay, not really. But it was too adorable.

Here are a couple of pics from the day. You can see the first five minutes for free on the TNT website (fast forward to :49 to skip the recap of last week especially if there are kids around.) And if you want to see the episode, it’s on Hulu, or I bought it off Amazon Prime. Fortunately, it’s at the very beginning of the episode, so I didn’t have to wait too long to see them.

 

Happy Father’s Day George!

Really this is another sewing post disguised as a post about Father’s Day. Because I made George a shirt for Father’s Day, and gave it to him early because I was excited that I made a complicated shirt with buttons and a collar and stuff. (It’s Kwik Sew 3484.) Next time I think I’ll make the view that looks more like a bowling shirt, with the contrasting panels.

Anyway, he likes it. So yay!

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Tardis print, next to the Tardis at the pub.

A few other pics of George and the boys, just because.