Friday, August 28, 2015

"Learn the rules like a pro ..."
2015/16 Project #1
New Look 0959/6259 Dress



"Learn the rules like a pro, 
so you can break them like an artist."

-att. Pablo Picasso

A few weeks ago, when I was going through some of my previous pattern purchases (yay $1.99 sales) to see which project I wanted to start first once SC was back at school full time, I realized I had a few patterns which she is at the top size, and just barely even that.  Unfortunately, I also have fabric for some of these patterns that I had already purchased, and needing to size up would mean I didn't have enough fabric to complete the project.  Of course I could always just add that fabric back into my stash for something else, but just look at that super cute puppy fabric.  I decided a new dress for the first week of school would be project number one.

2015/16 Project #1:

 

For this project, I used view C, a sleeveless dress with the longer skirt.  This pattern has an interesting design, in which the the front side panels and middle skirt band are cut on the bias.  In the example, a check fabric was chosen, so it is very easy to see the bias design.  Here is a close-up of the front panels.


In my puppy fabric, there is a very specific one-way design.  I bought extra fabric in order to match this design; however, I did not buy enough fabric.  The middle skirt band being cut on the bias took up an enormous amount of space when cutting the fabric (see the bottom picture below), and I couldn't follow the placement suggestion because then the puppies would not be going in the same direction all the way around the skirt band.  I ended up with the bottom band having to be cut completely upside down in order to cram it onto the fabric with the curve!  Luckily, the puppies still look cute, and it works because the bias-cut puppies are tumbling.  I also cut the lining pieces upside-down because it fit better that way.


The pattern adds fullness with inverted box pleats (my favorite kind to make), four on the front and then four on the back.  


The pieces fit together perfectly, with only minimal attention to matching up seams and corners needed.  The instructions were simple and made sense.  The only part of the instructions I was unsure of was that it called for hemming the lower band before attaching it to the dress.  However, I did it that way anyhow, and now I think that the bulk of the dress and the skirt  already being attached would have hampered creating a straight, smooth hem.


I struggled a bit with the zipper, but that is because I need to practice zippers more.  I opted for an invisible zipper because I like the look of them more, but I either need to find a source for invisible zippers that offers something other than the typical Coats & Clark brand (which require a special zipper foot made by C&C, and I don't have one), or find that special zipper foot.  My own machine's zipper foot is just a few millimeter off, causing my stitching to be either too far from the zipper teeth, or directly on top of the zipper teeth.  Also, somehow in all of the drama trying to get it in, the back of the dress now doesn't line up perfectly, but it is so tiny that I am probably the only one who will notice.


Here is a close-up of the bow at the back, which went together perfectly, and is just the right size for this dress.


Finally, here is SC modeling her new dress before school today!  The fit is perfect (I cut a size 8), with no changes needed, even though originally I wasn't sure there would be quite enough room in the bodice.


I hope to make view A & B, the bolero and leggings, next week as projects #2 & #3, so she can wear them along with the dress as (fingers-crossed!) the weather eventually turns a bit cooler.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"Never trust anyone
who has not brought a book with them."
2015 Summer Reading Challenge


"Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them."
-Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

When AC and I came up with the 2015 Summer Reading Challenge, I honestly wasn't sure if it was actually doable, but I had confidence if anyone could read that much, it would be SC.  Well, not only did she manage to read 10,000 pages from May 1 to August 15 to earn her $200 total, but we decided we would continue to count the pages she read between the end of the challenge and school starting (August 24), and she read an additional 1,500 pages that we gave her $.02 per page.

She decided to use her money to purchase a new iPod, because the hand-me-down one she had been using didn't have enough space, and wouldn't play any of the games she wanted well, or at all due to the updates not being accepted.  She was very excited to finally get one of her very own, and with her own money.

If you are interested, here is the list of books (72!) and page count.  She read mostly novels and "chapter books," though a few picture books as well.  Some favorites that she discovered were the 26 Story Treehouse series, by Andy Griffiths, the School for Good and Evil series, by Soman Chainani (which I also read, at SC's recommendation), and the works of Raina Telgemeier.

Book TitleAuthor# of PagesTOTAL
Explorer: The Hidden DoorKibuishi125125
BunniculaHowe98223
Whatever After: Sink or SwimMlynowski165388
Whatever After: Dream OnMlynowski157545
Whatever After: Bad Hair DayMlynowski165710
Contagious ColorsDeWitt265975
Freckle JuiceBlume471022
The 13-Story TreehouseGriffiths2391261
Encyclopedia Brown (Best Cases)Sobol1231384
Encyclopedia Brown #2Sobol781462
Ramona the PestCleary2111673
Dragons BewareRosado/Aguirre1531826
26 Story TreehouseGriffiths3682194
Whatever After: Cold as IceMlynowski1632357
Whatever After: Beauty QueenMlynowski1672524
PinkaliciousKann402564
Bad Kitty Does Not Like CandyBruel242588
Bad Kitty Does Not Like DogsBruel242612
Ellen TebbitsCleary1802792
Henry HugginsCleary1762968
Encyclopedia Brown #3Sobol963064
39 Story TreehouseGriffiths3443408
The Grimm ConclusionGidwitz3443752
Marvin Redpost: Why Pick on MeSachar643816
Ramona ForeverCleary1914007
Ramona's WorldCleary2094216
The Iron TrialBlack2954511
The Phantom BullyBrown1764687
MatildaDahl2404927
In a Glass GrimmlyGidwitz3135240
Ramonda and her FatherCleary1655405
Bad Kitty Gets a BathBruel1255530
Bad Kitty vs. Uncle MurrayBruel1575687
The Boy Who Swam with PiranhasAlmond2345921
Eerie Elem: The School is AliveChabert906011
Happy Birthday Bad KittyBruel1596170
Puppy's Big DayBruel1556325
Game Over, Pete WatsonSchreiber2256550
Frozen: Spring FeverDisney806630
Grimmtastic Girls #3Holub1826812
Marvin Redpost: Super Fast, Out of Control!Sachar796891
Marvin Redpost: A Flying Birthday Cake?Sachar766967
Dogs Don't Tell JokesSachar2097176
There's a boy in the girls' bathroomSachar1957371
School of good and evilChainani5017872
Floods: Good NeighborsThompson2138085
SGE: World Without PrincesChainani5128597
Nancy Clancy: Secret AdmirerO'Connor1128709
Nancy Clancy: Secret of the Silver KeyO'Connor1218830
Nancy Clancy: Star of Stage and ScreenO'Connor1208950
Rotten School: Big Blueberry Barf-OffStine1289078
Miss Nelson CollectionAllard989176
BSC: Kristy's Great IdeaMartin/Telgemeier1819357
Rotten School: Great Smelling BeeStine1289485
Tales of a Fourth Grade NothingBlume1209605
Rotten School: The Good, the Bad & the Very SlimyStine1289733
Aliens for lunch549787
Goldilocks and other tales509837
Grimmtastic Girls #5Holub & Williams18110018
Grimmtastic Girls #6Holub & Williams17910197
El DeafoBell23310430
SmileTelgemeier21310643
SistersTelgemeier19710840
The Road to OzBaum13610976
The ScallywagsMelling2711003
Dump DogMorris3011033
Earthquack!Palatini1411047
Miss FoxPuttock2311070
The Baby that RoaredPuttock2911099
Marvin Redpost #8Sachar8111180
The Haunted LibraryButler12711307
Henry & BeezusCleary20111508

My own summer book list is much shorter, and I only read half the number of pages (5600), but I did read some very good ones.  I really liked the School for Good and Evil series, and I read both The Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt.  I absolutely loved Okay for Now, and it was incredibly written.

How did your own summer reading challenges go?  Did you discover anything you would highly recommend?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

2015/16: 2nd Year, Lower Elementary
"and now we welcome the new year, ..."


"and now we welcome the new year,
full of things that have never been."
-Rainer Maria Rilke

The lead-up to this school year was much different this year than it has been for the past few.  With SC accepted to attend the local Montessori school, I didn't have any planning to do do, nor curriculum to buy.  It was surprisingly stressful for me, as I had no idea what to expect going in, even though we had toured two Montessori schools.  We didn't even get to buy school supplies, as everything is included in the tuition and fees.  However, most importantly, SC was more excited than nervous, and that was a win.

Monday was the first day, and when SC came home, she said she was most looking forward to going back the next day (which is a dig at only getting to go for one day as a trial in the spring).  Hopefully she will be just as excited to continue over the next few months!

For my first day, I went to the spa, read an entire book, tried out a new tea shop, and planned out a few sewing projects.  I intend to attempt to keep blogging about what is going on, but there may be a much larger focus on sewing projects or cooking/baking than before, and much less specifics about schooling.  Maybe I will get back to posting regular book reviews, too.  As always, the ultimate goal of blogging for me is to share a little bit of our lives, and our continual pursuit of God's wisdom, all for His glory.

Monday, July 13, 2015

10 FOR 10: Trip #7
Whistler, BC, Canada

"It is not the mountain that we conquer
but ourselves."
-Edmund Hillary



TRIP #7: WHISTLER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
Trip number seven on the 10 FOR 10 came about amid the drama and devastation of this past spring.  As much as SC loves spending time with her grandparents, she felt left out from not getting to travel overseas with us on the past two trips.  AC also needed a break, because as much as I was gone, he traveled to the UK for work at other times as well.  We needed time to engage as a family, and to recover from the losses we had been dealing with.  

It was decided that we would travel to Whistler, where SC would get to have her first ski lessons, because we were able to get some great deals on post-spring-break late-season skiing.  Whistler is actually where AC and I took our honeymoon, so it was fitting that one of our 10 FOR 10 trips was to travel back there.  We loved it that time, and were very impressed by how global the community there was.  That was the first time I had ever been out of the USA!  We went back when SC was an infant, though all she was able to do was sit in the snow and eat Zog's fries.

After attempts to learn both skiing and snowboarding, I am not into snow sports (though my friend L suggested I would be great on a snowmobile).  So for me, this trip was low-key, relaxing and full of books, making tea, and taking walks in the woods.  We signed SC up for two individual days of ski lessons, and after that allowed her to decide if she wanted a third day, which she did.  AC skied in the way he likes best, out in the morning late after a leisurely breakfast and coffee, and then back early for a late lunch and a beer at the foot of the mountain, watching everyone come in for the day.  It was nice for us to be together, but each have time apart.


She was a little nervous on day one, but was very happy when we picked her up, and told us she had a great time.  She moved up from level one to two after just the first day, and after the third day of lessons was ready to start on level three, which takes the kids on blue runs.  We got lucky and the third day of lessons was a Saturday, so they had professional photographers take pictures of all the kids and their classes.  We have never bought these type of photos before, because they have never been better than something we could reproduce on our own, but these really showed just how much she enjoyed skiing.


On the last day SC and AC went out together, and he was impressed with how much she was able to do, though she made it clear that he was not her teacher, so she was not going to listen to any advice he had for her.  Being so late in the ski season, the snow was very thin and wet, which made things a bit more difficult, but all in all, they had a great time.  In fact, the only down of the trip was when we were driving back to the airport, a two hour winding trip down from the mountains into Vancouver, and SC got car sick.  Luckily nothing happened in the car, but we now have in our memories what will forever be know as "The Vancouver Airport Incident."



The next ski trip we take will hopefully also be to Whistler, because we were so impressed with their kids' ski lessons.  SC had three different teachers, and we could tell every single one of them understood the age group they were teaching, and genuinely enjoyed getting to pass on their knowledge of skiing.  Next time we want her to be able to take a five day class, with the same kids and teacher the whole time, but that will require more planning than this quick trip did.  Also, AC gets altitude sickness, and the peak of Whistler Mountain is only about 7,000 feet, which is lower than the bases of almost every mountain in Colorado.  Whistler is just the place for us!


In case you missed the first post ...

WHAT IS THE 10 FOR 10?
In July 2015, AC and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary, and as such have 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 now (in our tenth year) and run through the end of 2015 so that we didn't take too much time away from work.  So, hopefully, these ten trips will make this a celebratory year, one that will stand out for us as we look back (in another ten years).

Sunday, July 12, 2015

10 FOR 10: Trip #6
London & Oslo

"I've the most extraordinary longing to say 'Bloody Hell'!"
Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House, Act I (Nora)


TRIP #6: LONDON & OSLO
This sixth 10 FOR 10 trip was a tag-along for me while AC had work to do in London, and then went to a conference that started in Oslo, Norway, and then traveled to Kiel, Germany on a cruise ship via the north/south waterway between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.  

To start the trip off, we were upgraded into first class, the real one with the beds that lay down completely flat.  It was incredible and so much more comfortable than spending hours cramped up in  a seat that barely reclines a few inches.  Once there, we spent the weekend in London wandering around.  We discovered Brick Lane Market on the East side, which is open on Sundays and full of delicious food vendors.  AC had to work the first days of the week, so I played the tourist and went to Kensington Palace for the fashion exhibit, and the V&A for the wedding dress exhibit.  


We took a quick flight to Oslo on Tuesday night, and Wednesday AC had meetings to go to, so I spent the day wandering the main street area, Karl Johans Gate.  I bought a scarf from a local shop, and wandered out of the way to find a local potter to purchase a beautiful coffee mug.  I spent most of the day, however, at the National Gallery, which I was very pleased with.  It had the most logical flow pattern, and related every national artist to what was going on with the rest of the world.  I learned so much about not just Norwegian artists, but how they fit in relation to the worldwide art movements as they were happening.  Of course I saw Munch's famous Scream, but enjoyed the rest of the museum's works just as much.

Wednesday night we went to dinner with all the other conference speakers, and then Thursday morning we embarked for the two-day conference.  For me it was intellectually exhilarating, which is probably not what most spouses would say if dragged along on a technical conference.  However, I am very interested in certain aspects of data technology, so I even sat in on some of the sessions.  I also enjoyed getting to know so many of the other people that AC has the opportunity to work with, and had some pretty intense conversations.


The other thing I did on this trip was take the opportunity to read seven books from my "to read" list.  Of those I read, my favorite was Elizabeth is Missing, by Emma Healey (and I hope to review it soon).  The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins were both very good as well. 

We only were able to spend a few hours in Kiel before turning around to head back to Oslo, and we met up with some local(ish) friends of friends who had set up an outdoor picnic, complete with sandwiches and drinks.  AC and I stayed for a bit and then wandered some, but not too far into the city, since we had to make it back to the boat at a specific time.  

Saturday morning we arrived back in Oslo, and then promptly flew back to London, where we spent the weekend before I headed home on my own.  AC still had some work to get done and would be coming home at the end of the week.  Even though it was a tag-along trip and AC had to work some, we both had a great time, and I would jump at the chance to tag along to this particular conference again.


In case you missed the first post ...


WHAT IS THE 10 FOR 10?
Next July, AC and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary, and as such have 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 now (in our tenth year) and run through the end of 2015 so that we didn't take too much time away from work.  So, hopefully, these ten trips will make this a celebratory year, one that will stand out for us as we look back (in another ten years).


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