Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas

Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
Luke 2:14


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

10 FOR 10: Trip #11
Disneyland


"Whatever you do, do it well. 
Do it so well that when people see you do it, 
they will want to come back and see you do it again, 
and they will want to bring others and show them 
how well you do what you do."
Walt Disney


TRIP #11: DISNEYLAND
The first time that AC and I went to Disneyland together, it was on New Year's day, and all of the holiday decorations were still up.  It was spectacular to see, and it is something we have wanted to share with SC for as long as we have been taking her to Disney.  Fortunately, AC discovered an extremely cheap rate to LA for a weekend in December, and we ended up squeezing in an eleventh trip this year, rather than just the original goal of ten.

Many of the rides have a new theme for the holidays, so it is a very different experience than going at other times during the year.  AC's favorite ride, the Jungle Cruise, becomes the "Jingle" Cruise, and the premise is that the holiday decorations have been lost and we must be on the look-out for them.  The Haunted Mansion changes its decorations to become the home of Jack Skellington, the main character in The Nightmare Before Christmas, and as good as the original decorations are, these are exceptional.  We went through twice this time.  It's a Small World eschews its normal song for a mix of holiday ones, still sung in multiple languages, and all of the dolls are dressed in various holiday costumes instead of the regular "traditional" ones.  Of course, the park as a whole is full of holiday decorations as well, and there is a holiday-themed parade that happens.  All in all, it was beautiful.

Unexpectedly, there were some new things open in the Tomorrowland area for the seventh Star Wars movie, which we took advantage of while we were there.  Space Mountain became "Hyperspace" Mountain, and images of star destroyers, x-wings and tie fighters were projected inside the dome as the roller coaster whipped through the darkness.  The old Captain E-O theatre showed an extended preview for the new movie, complete with a summary of the first six films.  The Star Tours ride included scenes from the new film, which was exciting.  It definitely made us anxious for the seventh film to premiere the following weekend!

Thankfully, even though it was a very quick trip, we also got to spend a little bit of time with my family members who live in the area, which was an extra special treat!


In case you missed the first post ...


WHAT IS THE 10 FOR 10?
In July 2015, AC and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary, and previously had been discussing what sort of big trip to take.  However, it occurred to me that we typically take some pretty big trips every year, sometimes as a tag-along when AC works, and sometimes just using all the points and miles he has amassed from his work travels.  I couldn't help but wonder if another trip would really be that special and different.  So, I came up with the idea that instead of just one more trip, we should take ten trips to celebrate our years together.  I told AC, and told him that it didn't have to be just him and me (because SC is also part of our lives, obviously), but that I wanted to take ten purposeful trips, that are focused on celebrating us (and our family) as much as we can.  I told him that they didn't all have to be long or complicated trips, though we had already talked about a few places that will be, and we can start in our tenth year (July 2014) and run through the end of 2015 so that we don't take too much time away from work.  Hopefully these ten trips make this a celebratory year, one that stands out for us as we look back (in another ten years).


10 FOR 10: Trip #10
Grand Cayman, Again

"so that the monotonous fall of the waves on the beach,
which for the most part beat a measured and soothing tattoo to her thoughts
seemed consolingly to repeat over and over again as she sat with the children
the words of some old cradle song, murmured by nature,
‘I am guarding you—I am your support,..."
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse


TRIP #10: GRAND CAYMAN, AGAIN
For our final 10 For 10 trip, we decided to go back to Grand Cayman, where we had visited last fall.  It was such an enjoyable, relaxing environment, and we all had a wonderful time before, that we felt we could all use a stint on a stress-free beach before the chaos of the upcoming holiday season, starting to pack up our house, and the upcoming move in the new year.

Originally we were not going to do any excursions, but AC heard about a turtle farm and sanctuary, where they allow you to snorkel in a small lagoon with some of the smaller sea turtles and other fish.  It was really fun, even though the snorkel mouthpiece was a bit awkward for us all to get used to.


We also remembered to take our waterproof camera, which resulted in a bunch of fun pictures.  


The other thing we did that was unplanned was that SC and I got to swim with a dolphin, after SC won a free excursion from the dolphin trainers who came to speak at the kids' club one day.  The facility ended up being directly across the street from the turtle farm, so it was easy to decide to add that in.  The time slot that we got, it ended up just being SC and I with the trainer for 45 minutes with a 35 year old dolphin named Luna.  We learned so much about dolphins (they shed/renew their skin every 2 hours!) and it definitely is something we want to do again, maybe with AC as well next time.


Even though I love getting to travel to new places, it is nice to go back to somewhere comfortable that we are familiar with as well.  It was the perfect end to our 10 FOR 10!

In case you missed the first post ...

WHAT IS THE 10 FOR 10?

In July 2015, AC and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary, and previously had been discussing what sort of big trip to take.  However, it occurred to me that we typically take some pretty big trips every year, sometimes as a tag-along when AC works, and sometimes just using all the points and miles he has amassed from his work travels.  I couldn't help but wonder if another trip would really be that special and different.  So, I came up with the idea that instead of just one more trip, we should take ten trips to celebrate our years together.  I told AC, and told him that it didn't have to be just him and me (because SC is also part of our lives, obviously), but that I wanted to take ten purposeful trips, that are focused on celebrating us (and our family) as much as we can.  I told him that they didn't all have to be long or complicated trips, though we had already talked about a few places that will be, and we can start in our tenth year (July 2014) and run through the end of 2015 so that we don't take too much time away from work.  Hopefully these ten trips make this a celebratory year, one that stands out for us as we look back (in another ten years).


10 FOR 10: Trip #9
London & Dublin

"My heart is quite calm now.
I will go back"
James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ch. 2


TRIP #9: LONDON & DUBLIN
The second major trip that we had planned for our 10 FOR 10 was a trip to London to see Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre, attend an Arsenal football match, and then visit Dublin for a few days.  I traveled to Dublin a few years ago with my good friend AB, and I was keen for AC to come back with me.  (Rereading my travel notes from Dublin, I realize how new traveling the world was at the time!)  

AC and I first spent some time in London, and actually saw a few places we had not already done.  We started off at St. Paul's Cathedral, where we did the audio tour and learned quite a bit about its history.  We hiked to the top and marveled at the glorious view of the city.  It was a "typical" London day, overcast and chilly, but it created the perfect backdrop for the cityscape.


We also went to the Natural History Museum, visited with a number of friends who live locally, had lots of good food (including from the Rib Man in Brick Lane Market on Sunday) and took tea at Fortnum & Mason.  We went to the Tuesday night show of Hamlet, and it was done spectacularly.  Benedict Cumberbatch played the part perfectly, and the staging was beyond what I could have imagined.

The next morning we traveled to Dublin.  We visited many of the same spots I had before, like Trinity College to see the Book of Kells and the Long Library, as well as Kilmainham Gaol and St. Stephen's Green.


One thing we did that was sort-of new was we did a special tour at the Guinness Brewery, where we and about 12 other people got to go to a special, hidden bar area, and had a tour-guide/bartender who talked more specifically about the evolution of the beers that Guinness produces, and we were able to try a number of different ones.  They also taught us how to pour a Guinness from the tap appropriately, and gave us a certificate showing we had mastered the art of pouring.  It was really cool, and having already been on the regular tour myself, it was definitely a worthwhile upgrade.  AC, of course, loved it all.

After just a few days in Dublin, we traveled back to London to go to our football match.  We had different seats at a different angle than we had before, and it was a much clearer view than from the end.  We had such a great time just being there, and Arsenal won, which meant that upon exit of the stadium, everyone was cheery and singing.  It is such an awesome experience.


It is still a bit hard emotionally to be there and remember that for a brief bit London was to be our home (it is still our favorite home-away-from-home city).  Of course we cannot wait to go back again to London, maybe with SC the next time.


In case you missed the first post ...

WHAT IS THE 10 FOR 10?

In July 2015, AC and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary, and previously had been discussing what sort of big trip to take.  However, it occurred to me that we typically take some pretty big trips every year, sometimes as a tag-along when AC works, and sometimes just using all the points and miles he has amassed from his work travels.  I couldn't help but wonder if another trip would really be that special and different.  So, I came up with the idea that instead of just one more trip, we should take ten trips to celebrate our years together.  I told AC, and told him that it didn't have to be just him and me (because SC is also part of our lives, obviously), but that I wanted to take ten purposeful trips, that are focused on celebrating us (and our family) as much as we can.  I told him that they didn't all have to be long or complicated trips, though we had already talked about a few places that will be, and we can start in our tenth year (July 2014) and run through the end of 2015 so that we don't take too much time away from work.  Hopefully these ten trips make this a celebratory year, one that stands out for us as we look back (in another ten years).


Saturday, December 5, 2015

"... the house allows one to dream in peace."
New Home 2015 Update




"If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say:
the house shelters day-dreaming,
the house protects the dreamer,
the house allows one to dream in peace."
Gaston Bachelard,La po├ętique de l'espace, Ch. 1


As I mentioned at the beginning of May, we contracted to build a new home about seven miles East of where we are currently living.  The home is in the perfect location to all SC's activities, AC's work and the airport, church, family and friends.  It also has the benefit of being on a cul-de-sac with a yard large enough for a pool (both requirements AC had when looking for a new home).  Finally, it is larger overall and laid out differently than our current house, which will help immensely with storage and traffic-flow issues we are having.

It has been about seven months since we signed the initial paperwork, and it has been incredible to watch our house become a house before us.  This new neighborhood is actually on the path we drive multiple times a week to and from SC's school, so we are constantly taking a peek at what new thing has happened.  We are still about two months away from closing, but after so long it feels like we are in the final, downhill push!


Here is a pictorial story from bare land to where we are now!












So now here are some of the most up-to-date inside pictures, though it seems like something changes and gets done almost every single day, so more has happened already.  We popped by this weekend and there was a huge team working on putting all our light fixtures in.





It has been interesting (and exciting!) watching this house get built, and we cannot wait until it is finally ready for us to move in.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

"...if you dress for it."
2015/16 Project #3
True Bias Mini Southport Dress w/ Lining



"You can have anything you want in life
if you dress for it."
-Edith Head

Last Saturday, SC's piano teacher hosted a "jam session" for the kids to practice playing with some other musicians.  SC picked "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," and practiced all summer.  She was very nervous at first, but after a few trial runs, she did a great job staying at a steady tempo so that the three others (guitar, bass, drum) could play along.  It was a neat experience.

For the performance, I decided to make her a new, fun dress.  She had previously picked out a leopard print cotton from the clearance table at Hancock, and after looking around a bit, I decided to make the Mini Southport Dress by indie designer True Bias.  The clearance table fabric was a very loose weave, making it very thin, so I changed the design to add a full lining for both the bodice and the skirt, but it was simple to do.  I chose a 100% cotton fabric in beige/nude that didn't allow any light through.


First, for cutting, I had to relocate my "helper."  Then, after comparing with SC's measurements, I decided to cut a size 8 at the shoulder and chest area, and then grade out to a 10 for the waist and skirt.  I also cut the pattern pieces for the bodice front, back and the skirt out of lining as well as the leopard fabric.

To make the lining, I basically followed the directions for the bodice twice, once with the leopard, and then once with the lining.  Then, when the directions called for using bias tape around the neck and arm holes, I simply followed those directions using the lining fabric, so that the wrong side of the lining faced the wrong side of the fabric.  When I got to the bodice placket area, I folded the leopard back as instructed, and then used that edge as a guide to cut the extra off with my serger.


Once the fabric was flipped appropriately, the lining fabric would lie inside the placket perfectly. On the neckline, I understitched all the way around, and made sure it was pressed crisp.  After stitching the armholes with right sides together, I had to pull the leopard fabric through the shoulder strap to turn it so that both right sides faced out, away from each other.  Then on the armholes, unfortunately since I was doing a full lining, I was only able to understitch as far back as I could cram my presser-foot, but it ended up being almost to the shoulder seam.  


I chose not to edgestich the neckline and the armholes because I didn't want the line.  Also, since I was doing a full lining and it would be attached at the waist, I would not have to worry about a bias tape flipping up.

The making of the button placket was very simple and the instructions were clear.  I did not have any problems figuring out how to get it to lay appropriately.  The skirt and it's lining were simple as well, just a straight seam up each side.  I turned the lining wrong side to the fabric wrong side, and then attached the waistband casing to the fabric right side, and then attached all that to the right side of the bottom of the bodice.  There was a lot of fabric, with two extra layers, but I finished the seam with the serger and after pressing, it was not as bulky as I thought it might be.

The hardest part of the entire project was making the ties.  Because the leopard fabric had such a loose weave, I had to be extra careful to not tear any of the yarn and leave a hole.  It took almost an hour to get the first tie flipped right side out, but for some reason only about fifteen minutes for the second.  It may be because I started using a wooden kebab skewer to press it through!


Actually threading the ties and elastic through the waistband casing was easy compared to flipping the ties right side out.

Finishing up the dress with a hem, I cut 1 1/2 inches off the lining bottom and finished the edge with my serger, and then did the hem up 1/4 inch, and then 1 full inch.

Here is the finished inside, where the full lining is visible, plus the button placket.


And here is the final dress, front and back ...


and in the rain!!


"We live in a web of ideas ..."
2015/16 Project #2
Seamwork Akita Top


"We live in a web of ideas,
a fabric of our own making."
-Joseph Chilton Pearce

I am new to the world of downloadable patterns, and I wanted something simple to try for my first one.  The "Akita" top from Seamwork magazine seemed perfect, as it is just one pattern piece.  The boxy, drapey style is also very much in fashion right now. 

The pattern was easy to print out and tape together.  However, the way it is supposed to fit on the body, with some definition around the bust, and then drape, would make it look like I was wearing a tent.  The size I was supposed to cut based on my bust measurement would leave a fifteen inch difference between my actual waist size and the finished waist size.  Instead, I decided to cut the front of the pattern from the back, perform a 2" Full Bust Adjustment (FBA), and then tape it back together and cut the size 8, matching my upper bust measure instead.



The splicing and spreading of the FBA was actually much simpler than I thought it would be, and since I didn't actually change anything on the shoulder area, it taped back together well.  Since it is just one giant pattern piece, I did not have a large enough table space to lay it out and cut, so I ended up using the floor and moving my cutting mat around.  This was also my first attempt at using pattern weights and a rotary cutter, and it is SO MUCH EASIER to go around curves than using pins and scissors.  I don't think I will ever go back!  However, it will be even better when our new house is finished and I have room for a large cutting table in my sewing and craft room.


I used a 100% rayon challis fabric I found on the clearance table at Hancock, as I thought the drape would look nice.  I essentially was going to make a potentially wearable muslin, and if I liked the fit and style, make another in a Girl Charlee rayon challis fabric that I have had in my stash for over a year.

Unfortunately, this boxy style just looks terrible on me.  While the top went together easily, it just isn't very flattering.  I attempted to add a sweater, but that didn't help.  What I really need is more definition at the waistline.  I think I may buy a white belt to see if that helps, but I am not sure it will ever look as cute as it does on the pattern model.  I am not sure the neckline will ever lay flat, either, though cutting the size at my upper bust measure should have fixed that.


All in all, it was a great, simple pattern to try my hand at printing, taping and using a downloadable pattern.  The instructions were clear, and on a different body shape, this might be a great top.

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