Home improvements and delicious food

Kiki came to visit and, as usual, we got a lot of little things done around the house to make everything a bit more pleasant. And also ate yummy things.

Replacing the blinds

The blinds in my sewing room/bedroom have been up for 14 years. If you don’t believe me, believe this blog post from November 2007. (Why wouldn’t you believe me?) They were basically destroyed, so it was time.

One thing I haven’t taken down are those flags. Probably about time.

I also had to change out the curtain rod brackets because the blinds stick out so much, and I put up some hooks to serve as curtain hold-backs.

Medicine cabinet

This one involved a lot of cursing. Removed the plate glass mirror and put up a medicine cabinet. Yay more storage! Feel free to nose around in my medicine cabinet. Nothing interesting there. I wish I had a better “before” picture than a selfie from a dress I made. Alas.

Picture rail

Kiki was dismayed by the lack of artwork above the TV. I am still waiting to hang stuff after we painted. (Okay, that was like four years ago.)

Another part of the project involves getting a print (a drawing of our house) framed that’s been sitting on my mantle for six months. That’ll go next to the house numbers. I might need to move the house numbers, because I keep thinking it’s a clock and that it’s 8:14. (It’s usually not. Well, just twice a day.) Not sure what else I’ll put up there. Oh, and that ledge was repurposed from the nursery as well. And I hung the bracket upside down first. Fun!

New curtain rod/hemmed curtains

The curtains behind the sofa have always been too long, and I should be embarrassed by how long it took me to realize I could just hem them. I do sew, sometimes, you know. I also needed to replace the cheap curtain rod that sagged in the middle and sometimes fell down.

Oops, I went a tad too short. Oh well! Also our sofa is way wrinklier than it was six years ago! But also there’s a cute doggie that wasn’t there before, so it’s all worth it. (Look how unchewed my ottoman was in the first pic. Sigh.)

We also hung some artwork in my office. (Yes obviously I am still obsessed.)

Speaking of, I also got this Christmas ornament. I posed it in front of our Mardi Gras house float (it was in a book!)

And I think that’s the majority of the projects. (I won’t take a picture of the under sink organization in the kitchen, though it is nice.)

Yummy things we ate and drank:

Homemade pizza (crust by King Arthur, sauce by Smitten Kitchen), this winter squash bake from Smitten Kitchen, a pavlova from the San Lorenzo, my Italian margarita, and Kiki at the taco place (mmm margaritas.) Not pictured: the amazing hummuses from Saba.

Making an outfit (accidentally)

In the past couple of months, I’ve made three items of clothing. It just so happens that they all kind of go together. Well enough to put them all in one blog post, anyway.

Item 1: Calder shorts by Cashmerette

This was the second pair of Calder shorts I’ve made. Because I’m shaped like a rectangle (no waist to speak of), the first pair I made was sized not exactly right (not really too small, but, well, okay, a tiny bit too small) so I wanted to try again, this time just maybe making some minor adjustments to the seam allowance. I didn’t want to go up a whole size, as that would be too much, and also I’m very lazy and wanted to use my existing pattern.

In the end, it worked out fine, maybe they’re a little too big, if anything, but no biggie. I definitely need to hem them a bit more though. If I have them pulled down to where my waist would be if I had a waist, they’re too long.

I made them with a cotton flannel from Joann’s. Shorts in flannel? Why yes. I live in Louisiana where winter shorts are totally a thing. (A thing I made up, maybe. I think these would work really well with tights.) I love this fabric – it’s super easy to sew and it comes in a million patterns and it’s soft and inexpensive. Oh, and I lined the pockets in some leftover supima cotton that they don’t seem to sell anymore but it’s so silky, I love it.

Item 2: Blackwood cardigan by Helen’s Closet

This is my second Blackwood cardigan – the first was appropriated by Linus. He likes to wear it around the house. I made this one out of some french terry I bought a while ago from some online store and have been sitting on (not literally.) I decided to put the loop side on the outside so it would be a darker red. (The “right” side is more white/red variegated.) I like the way it looks, but the loops do tend to catch on things and get snagged. Oh well, live and learn. I love the rainbow serger threads I bought, they make for a really fun inside view!

Item 3: Akita top by Seamwork

A couple of weeks before my friends and I went to the fake Rosebud Motel, I ordered some fun Schitt’s Creek-themed fabric from Spoonflower. I was going to make a skirt or something to wear when we went. Well, it didn’t come in time, and I decided I didn’t need another skirt. I wanted a shirt, and I remembered how much I like the Seamwork Akita. I’ve made it a few times but those don’t, uh, fit anymore. So now I have one that does! And I absolutely love the fabric.

It’s a really fun pattern to sew. If you have non-directional fabric, it’s just one pattern piece, but because mine is directional, I had to add a shoulder seam. No biggie. Then you bias bind all of the raw edges and sew up the sides. Super easy and I like the shape. I didn’t get any good pictures of the sleeves but you get the idea:

Well, you get the idea.

(Turns out this pattern isn’t on their site anymore. Not sure why!)

Well, turns out they all kind of work together – the red in the cardigan is the same as the red in the shirt, and, well, gray goes with everything. So there you go, I accidentally made a whole outfit!

Getting back to normal

Yikes, it’s been a while since I posted, and a lot has happened. Well, for one, we came home. Wheee!

Let’s see, the last post was taken on a Saturday, and power came back on late Monday night, so we went home on Tuesday the 7th. All told, we were away from home for 11 days, and boy was our fridge gross. We’d thrown out all of the food the previous Friday when George and Miles and I went to check things out, so it could have been worse, for sure.

Gas was still hard to come by when we got home, as were groceries. Even now, two weeks after coming home, stores aren’t fully stocked. But it’s getting better.

We had to get a tree removed, and while we had a crew, we also had them prune some of our other trees. I was sad to see the tree go – though I’m hoping that the increased sunlight in the yard will mean my new plants from when we had the yard redone last spring will start thriving.

Just a stump.

It’s sad to look out of the upstairs bathroom window and not see the tree, though.

I’ve also been sewing a bit more. I made a new cardigan for myself and a skirt for Terry for her birthday.

I’ve also been baking a bunch. I found this no-knead recipe that is so easy, it seems silly not to make bread every day. Well, last night it was pizza. We also made flour tortillas the other night because, why not?

Ziggy is still cute.

Oliver has eaten avocados.

The boys still haven’t gone back to school in person yet – this week has been virtual. In theory they’ll go back to campus next week. (Mold issues, not COVID.) And soccer was supposed to start last week, but we’re waiting on that too. Hopefully soon!

So yeah. That’s about it for now. Yay for fall!

The making of the Moiras

When I was trying to figure out how to make my Moira costume, I couldn’t find any tutorials or any blog posts of people describing how they made theirs. I suspect mostly it was “find a white-ish sheet and go from there.” But no, Pam is not going to go that route. I think we know her better than that…

A while back, I bought several yards of off-white stretch crepe from Joann’s. (I think it’s what I linked to, I dunno. It was way cheaper than that but it might have been 60% off or something. Maybe it was this.) It was 60″ wide so I knew that it would be long enough (I’m 5’10”.) It was nice and opaque, and if Mardi Gras was going to be cold, it would be somewhat warm. (I was able to wear black joggers underneath and you couldn’t tell because yes it was friggin cold.)

I studied the costume very closely. I watched the episode and paused it and looked for as many photos on Instagram as possible. I knew it had a seam down the middle and it looked like some kind of welted openings for the sleeves. (Who knows if I am even using that terminology right?) But once I sewed up the middle and portions of the top, I was very happy with how it looked and draped, so I just went with it.

I really should be a pattern drafter. Look at that amazingness.

I did have to hem it a bit, which I did by just haphazardly chopping off a few inches. I mean, who’d notice?

Then I figured out where the gold chain went, and hand sewed that on.

The hat was a real pain in the ass, I’ll tell you. I had borrowed some accessories from my friend Marie, and in the end, after a mishap with a weird fabric tube and a cheap blonde wig, I just borrowed the hair tube bit from her Halloween costume and made a new hat.

(I had to laugh because she said “well, it was too big for my head so it kept slipping down” but it barely perched on my giant noggin.)

I traced the miter shape on posterboard, modge podged some of the dress fabric onto it, and then hot glued on the accessories. Once two of those were done, I glued them onto the hair tube. Or whatever you want to call it. Hair wreath? Bane of my existence?

Also I made a mask with some leftover pieces and gold thread.

The necklace was fun to figure out. I used leftover bits from the hat jewels and got a pendant and chains and findings from the craft stores, and combined them to try to mimic the shape of the real Moira’s necklace. I mean, better than nothing.

The final result:

Uncanny, I know.

I promise (?) this is the last post I’ll make about Mardi Gras 2021 but it was just such a fun experience that I’m not quite ready for it to end. I’m having major crafting withdrawal. What next?!?

(Oh, I guess I could write about how I sewed Jenn’s dress for her too, but it was a lot of draping, sewing, velcro, and an old strapless bra. Really proud of how that came out too. It would have been nice if the shower curtain had been shiny, but that probably would have been harder to sew.)

Lovely Jenn!

2020, don’t let the door hit you on the way out

This is going to be a weird year-end recap. Let’s see.

January

I got to go to Lisbon! Thank god we planned our meetup for January, or my only trip (outside of Louisiana, anyway) in 2020 never would have happened. Also I turned 45 there. (My third birthday meetup since I started at Automattic.)

The boys finished up their season playing soccer for the school team, which ended in winning the championship! I adore this picture of Linus.

February

Kiki came to visit! Thank god. I’m so glad I got to see her this year at least once. We ate a lot and took a road trip to Alexandria and Natchitoches for Linus’s archery tournament.

Later in the month was Mardi Gras! Where we were probably all spreading COVID like crazy! I made a fun Mardi Gras dress. Maybe I’ll get to wear it again in 2022.

Also I got a new wardrobe from IKEA. I love it.

March

Well it started out okay. I had raised over $2000 for St. Baldrick’s and I was so ready for my hair chop scheduled for the end of the month. Yeah, that still hasn’t happened. I did get a haircut, but nothing too drastic. (You can still donate, you know!)

Friendship day at the beginning of March. Probably we were all spreading COVID like crazy here too.

I took two days off to spend with Linus and Miles, just like I’d done the year before. We ate lunch and escaped from rooms.

Two days before Oliver and I were supposed to have our day off, I was sitting at soccer practice waiting for the boys when I got a message from the school. It was going to be closed for the next two days because there was a possible connection to a COVID case. You know what happened next.

The rest of March was a lot of sewing, cooking, and watching movies.

Click here for the fun part of 2020

Sewing project: Seamwork Camden

Apparently I’m really into sewing outerwear this year.

See, when I was planning to make a coat, I wanted to make it out of teal wool. But I couldn’t find any teal wool that wouldn’t have cost an absolute fortune. So I went ahead and made it out of a cotton flannel, and I love it! BUT THEN. I was perusing the Blackbird Fabrics website in September and LO AND BEHOLD they had teal wool coating fabric! It was even reasonably priced! (Thank you Canadian dollar.) So I ordered three meters and waited for it to arrive. I waited, and waited, and waited, and finally in mid-November, after an investigation from Canada post, the fabric store sent me a new bundle of wool. (They have amazing customer service and beautiful fabrics, I highly recommend shopping from them.)

(And then the other fabric showed up after two months! And I got to keep it!)

I still didn’t know what to do with it. I debated between making a lined Pona jacket and a cape. Why a cape? Who knows. Why not? I found the Seamwork Camden pattern and ultimately chose that. Then I had to wait to get it printed on large format paper because I was not about to stick together 60 sheets of letter size paper together.

Meanwhile, I went to Chateau Sew & Sew (my favorite local fabric store) and picked out the lining. I wanted something colorful and fun, and ultimately went with a geometric pattern.

And then…I sewed it up. I mean, it was pretty simple, really. No major roadblocks (shockingly). I did debate for a little while on doing bound buttonholes vs sewn buttonholes, but in the end, I went with the sewn. I used my grandmother’s buttonholer, which made really lovely buttonholes and how many times can I say “buttonhole”? BUTTONHOLE.

And here’s the finished project! (I noticed after I took the pictures that the top wasn’t laying flat, so then I took some more on the other side of the yard so you could see that it’s really fine.)

Sewing project: Chilton Trench

Work has been very busy lately, and it’s only going to get busier for the foreseeable future, so I decided to take this week off to get a bit of a mental break while I can. Of course, after I made the decision, hurricanes started barrelling towards us, which makes for a less than relaxing break, but we have been very fortunate with neither of the storms hitting New Orleans.

Anyway, since I knew I wasn’t going to spend my week off traveling (HA) I decided I needed to tackle a complicated sewing project. (I probably should have tackled cleaning my house, but that’s no fun.) Anyway, I’ve done a bathing suit, so not that. How about a coat? I’ve made the Pona jacket before, but it’s unlined. I mean a real winter(y I mean this is Louisiana after all) coat!

After looking at a million patterns, I decided on the Cashmerette Chilton Trench. I didn’t necessarily want a trench coat, but I couldn’t find any other patterns I like better so, why not? I knew the instructions would be excellent.

I really would have loved to make this out of wool or a wool blend with a luxurious satin lining, but in the end that would have been cost-prohibitive, considering the amount of fabric this coat requires. At least not for my first time out. And I couldn’t find what I really wanted anyway. So I decided to go with a plum herringbone cotton flannel from Joann’s. It’s a lot nicer than you might expect and only $10/yard (before the inevitable coupons.) And then I went with a dark teal matte satin for the inside. (Same price.) Once I bought the fabric, buttons, shoulderpads, and interfacing, I’d already spent $100, and it probably would have been double that for wool. Maybe next time!

I calculated I spent about 20 hours working on this (or four seasons of Schitt’s Creek.) About four hours cutting out pattern pieces and fabric, and then the rest sewing. And at least one of those hours was fretting over putting the sleeves in backwards (put one in upside down somehow at one point) and how to fix the hem/lining situation. (If I’m being honest, I’m still trying to figure that one out.)

Like I said, the instructions are very thorough and well-written, so just by taking it one step at at time, I was able to get through it. I have to thank David, Alexis, Moira, and Johnny for keeping me company throughout this journey.

And now pics!

Some various full length shots. Belted! Unbelted! Open! The back! With ill-advised purple shoes! And lots of loose threads I realize now I should have removed but oh well!

And now some detail shots like the pockets, the epaulettes, the chest shield (what?), the sleeve belts (trench coats are weird), and the beautiful lining. Love the colors here!

So now I just need the temp to drop at least 20 degrees so I can wear it. It won’t be warm enough on its own if the temp drops super low but that doesn’t happen very often anyway. And it’s roomy enough to layer underneath.

Bring on fall!

Sewing project: Artist’s Box Top

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No, not that kind.

Last week, I saw a blog post with the Artist’s Box Top by Artist Made Patterns and I was intrigued. Usually, the thought of a boxy top is enough to send me screaming, but for some reason I wanted to give this one a try. So I did!

(A box top is, well, a top with little shaping. Like a box? There aren’t darts or anything like that. Usually just two pattern pieces. Front and back. So extremely easy to make, but also shapeless. In hopefully a good way.)

I made this one out of some Nani Iro cotton/hemp fabric that my friend Kristie gave me. I also have it in white! Dreamy.

I mean, I assume Google Translate isn’t lying to me about the fabric content.

Anyhoo. It was pretty straightforward to make, except maybe for the v-neck. You know, zippers don’t scare me and buttonholes are fine, but v-necks scare the crap out of me. The neck is bias bound, and there are lots of ways to tackle this. I opted for this tutorial from 100 Acts of Sewing, but I think next time I’m going to try another way. I had to tack down some of the binding at the V with hand stitching to keep it from showing. Not a big deal, but I feel like there must be a neater and easier way.

Here’s the finished product!

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See? Boxy. Also check out my cute bias tape. πŸ˜€

And on me: (can I say how much I LOVE my IKEA wardrobe with the mirrored door?)

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Better look at the V-neck:

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So now I should probably go back to sewing masks for a while. And then I’ll make the white one.

Goings on

I mean, nothing exciting. Same old, same old. Just like everyone else on earth, right?

Sigh.

Well, okay FINE I gave up again on my daily photo challenge. Not that I haven’t taken photos every day, but I keep getting so far behind, and no one needs to see boring pictures anyway. Blah. And I mean, since we’ll be at home for the next month, it’s gonna be even worse.

Anyway.

I had my day off with Miles last Monday. We had a great day. Walk to the coffee shop, breakfast at home, went to a park, lunch at a diner, and capped it off with an escape room, which we escaped from! So fun. And I got an email from LSMSA saying Miles had been awarded a scholarship to the summer camp! (Who knows if that will even happen?)

Crescent Park (you can almost see our house from there!)

Lunch and escape room

Oh and I never talked about everything Linus and I did.

We had coffee, and then shopped, and had lunch (steak!) and escaped from a room, and got froyo. Lovely day.

Poor Oliver was supposed to have his day on Friday, but their school closed on Thursday until April 13th at least. (Spring break starts on the 13th, so not sure if they’re going to roll into that, or pretend it was during the quarantine time.) But we’ll do it eventually. Hopefully during this school year.

The boys were at soccer practice when I got the email from their school about it closing the next day, and that was the last soccer practice for the forseeable future. Sad. But they’ve been playing outside plenty. Their new thing is playing basketball in their room with the “hoop” we fashioned out of a small cheap plastic soccer goal and plenty of duct tape.

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I mean, you gotta admire their inventiveness!

Tomorrow “school” starts for real – their teachers will start putting up assignments on Google Classroom for them to do.

Let’s see. I also made this cute clutch:

If you happen to have an appropriate zipper lying around, it’s a good, quick, satisfying project. And free! Here’s a link. I made it out of leftover denim, which I was glad to use up.

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pamchops.com!

Fundraising update: Well, the St. Baldrick’s event was supposed to be on March 29, but it looks like I’ll be growing my hair out for a bit longer than planned. Now it’s going to be (hopefully!) at the end of May. So I’m going to stop begging people for money for a while. But I mean, you certainly still can. My friend Hadley also set up a Color Street party to benefit my fundraiser, so you can also have fantastic nails while you’re at home. Honestly, it’s a great and easy pick-me-up anyway. I think I’ll put some on later today.

So. I guess that’s about all of the excitement for now. I have lots of sewing I can do, but I honestly don’t really feel like it. Argh!

Feeling very grateful to have a remote job right now, so I’d better get back to work!

(Oh, and I wrote this post about working remotely.)

02/13/2020

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I heard there was a Mardi Gras store that sold fabric. After I got over my disappointment in ALL OF MY FRIENDS who didn’t tell me this anytime in the past two years, I drove across town to behold the wonder that is this sparkly stuff. I bought a few yards of it, and it is being transformed into a dress to wear to the parades as we speak. It is not, however, meant to be apparel fabric, probably more suited for decorations, but who cares?! It’s Mardi Gras! So I also got green satin to line it, and sometime in the coming days, you’ll see what I’m making with it. It’s definitely fun!

PS While writing this, I realized I sewed my first clothing item two years ago today! That’s nuts! What a fantastic two years it has been. πŸ™‚

02/12/2020

image_5823c68f-5e34-4e94-b288-d1326cd16f9d.img_4387Funny story: I washed this glittery fabric so I could make a skirt out of it (a Helen’s Closet Donovan skirt) and, well, okay, the boys’ uniforms were in the same load. Linus pulled his shirt out of the dryer and disgustedly asked me why his shirt was sparkly. I just shrugged and played dumb. Don’t tell him!

01/18/2020

Behold. My Lisbon fabric skirt. It’s the Linea skirt by Wardrobe by Me.

Location: TJ Maxx dressing room

I mean, sometimes you just gotta go with a pic from the TJ Maxx dressing room. What can I say?