Friday, September 29, 2006

Status Report

Storage Situation: Abysmal

Basement Shelving Unit: Nearly built

Work Desk: Snowed in by paper.

Kitchen: Rather tidy and clean.

Bedroom: About to undergo furniture change.

Guest bedroom: About to be partially furnished at last.

Cats: Bratty and food-obsessed. Also cute.

Hubster: On the good list, right at the top. Hott.

Your Queen: Tired, achy from yoga, anticipating IKEA trip tomorrow, wondering when I'll finally get the damn camera and all gear in one place at one time, oh, and hungry. [Apparently free wings from local happy hour have worn off. Time for snackies!]

You: Enjoying your weekend, by royal demand. Right? Right.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Soprano You Aren't

"Though you sit as squarely in the section as you can, you are NOT a soprano, and I feel it's time to inform you of that. You pinch every note you hit above an A. You positively squeak out anything above high C. YOU MUST STOP SQUEAKING.

"There's nothing wrong with switching sections. Altos are so underrated and their harmony can be quite lovely. And don't worry about the sight-reading - you aren't doing such a hot job already, so you can warble along while listening to the rest of the section just as easily with them. Really."

File this under really Mean Things I WISH I Had Said Tonight. Thankfully, I didn't utter a peep, despite the multitudinous and off-key peeps I heard from them. The tension is bottling up, though, and with Handel's Messiah pieces on the menu this season, I don't know how much longer I can internalize the desire to forcibly remove them from the section. Carry on . . .

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Whatnot on a Wednesday

So there's some random stuff going on, and I wanted to link to some of it, and ask for comments on the rest of it. I'm afraid to do that considering that I ASKED YOU A QUESTION, INTERNET, AND ONE PERSON RESPONDED. Still, I have faith in you. Don't let me down.

Thing 1: I'm not leading with the question because everyone knows you only remember what you last read. This is a link to a site called QuizLaw which is interesting (if a bit profane) because they do an excellent job of explaining oddball legal speak and legal situations. They also have some pretty interesting news items about what's going on in the judicial system. This post talks about one attorney's theory about how to deal with terrorists under law: treat them like pirates. He draws some parallels between the actions/status of both and raises some interesting ideas. I'll leave it to my law-school buddies (who are LEGION, when I think of it) to comment on that.

Thing 2: Douglas Adams, of Hitchhiker's fame, posts an interesting rant on the state of wallwarts - all those chargers you use every day to power up your cell phone, iPod, camera, Palm Pilot, computer-related paraphenalia, and other electronics. He thinks the industry should standardize all this nonsense, and I totally agree. Every time I pack for a trip I want to hurl them all out the window instead of making room for them. Preach, brother, PREACH.

Thing 3: This is an older article from earlier this month talking about whether sex sells to women. The answer? No.
What do women want? "Presumably women desire to be more like the wholesome beauty models, and in turn, will purchase the products they endorse more readily than they would a product endorsed by a more overtly sexual model," Goodman said.

Personally, I think it's that women think sexiness is only one facet of themselves, so yeah, if I'm looking for lingerie, I might want a sexy ad, but I also live a portion of my life in the PG world and sexiness is not the only facet of myself that I want to portray. I hope more research is done in this area. It's intruguing to me.

Thing 4: This is an even older article from August about how TV is as good or better at telling a story as film and that TV's golden age is occuring now, rather than in previous decades, as many claim. Basically, the author contends that TV allows more of a relationship with the characters and much more complicated plot simply because you have much more time than you get in a film to tell the story. She says that only in the last few years have writers really taken advantage of this flexibility instead of relying on simple plots that tied themselves off nicely in the allotted airtime. I tend to agree, but with a caveat that SO MUCH TV is made right now that there's plenty of dross to burn off to get to the good stuff. (This is a Salon article, so you have to view an ad for full access. Sorry about that.)

Thing 5: THE QUESTION: Has anyone switched to Google's Blogger Beta sign-in and template? I'm freaking out about it because I think they want to strip us of our complete editting power with our templates. They're doing it for the people who don't design and want creater flexibility without learning CSS and HTML, but for me? NOT COOL. If you've switched (or know someone who has and can explain the differences) tell me how it went and what you do/do not have access to with your new interface. Thanks!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

In Medias Wait

My right knee has been hurting. I'm not sure when it started hurting. I think it was closer to two weeks ago. I worked out and the next day the entire area felt stiff, and it hurt more to fully open and clench closed than anything else. Relatively easy to ignore once you got used to the sensation of tightness. It's gotten better and worse, and after I gingerly did my power yoga yesterday, it seems to be stiff, but better. It's odd.

That's kinda what's going on in my head right now, too. There's a "blockage" in my thoughts? No, that's not the way to describe. I don't really know how to describe it, but my thoughts keep jumping from one tense subject to another without actually allowing me to conclude anything - like the way toward resolution is stopped up. It's not exhausting, angering, or even that frustrating most of the time, but the sensation is still there. And it's making me rather moody - turning on a dime from Happiness Dr to Surliness Ave and then back again. Wound tight much? Yeah, I'd say so.

It's partially the anticipation. I'll be rid of certain parts of my job that have been driving me up a wall for a while soon-ish. It might be soon (sans -ish), and indeed probably will be. Yet until it happens, I'm hanging on the edge of the cliff, ready to dive off in wild abandon and delight in the freefall while still holding on with one hand on the edge. Tedious and intense at once. At home, I'm figuring out which lens to buy and then waiting for it while my camera stares blankly at me from the desk. I'm exploring my personal career goals. I'm waiting for some decisions to be made with Hubster about goals for our savings and budget. I'm waiting for the next big visit from family and friends. I'm waiting for my knee to feel totally normal again. I'm waiting . . .

What are you waiting for?

Monday, September 25, 2006

How to Kill Me Softly Without Your Song

Buy me this and make sure it doesn't come with anything else so I can't use it at all:

Our PowerShot A80 is dethroned at last.

So this is my birthday present, a couple weeks late and none-too-soon. We started talking about buying a digital SLR for me back at the end of JULY, and I waited TWO WEEKS PAST MY BIRTHDAY. It's been exhausting, let me just say. So why do I want this shiny bit o' metal and glass? I really want to improve the quality of my images and my photographic know-how and that meant three things: a fully manual camera with complete exposure control, an SLR's raw sensor power and lens flexibility, and shooting RAW format so I can digitally process my images. Hubster agreed to get one for me, as long as I counted this for several birthdays because $%^& are they expensive. I agreed with the stipulation that each birthday would include a cheap outing for using the camera together instead of a two-second reminder that this was a giftless year. Now we're calculating just how many years I'll be in gifty purgatory. It's not looking good for the rest of my twenties. Yiiiikes.

As to acquiring this, it was a BestBuy floor model (the 20D has been discontinued, hence their desire to be rid of it), and it was in great condition. We got an obscene deal on it, as well as on the 4-yr Warranty and Extended Service Plan, which NICE because if I'm going presentless over this, I want to make sure it'll last through all the years I'm atoning for it. The only problem: it came with NOTHING but the body of the camera. Oh, and a cap for the lens socket. How thoughtful.

If the BestBuy salesman is to be believed, they THROW AWAY all of the cables, batteries, software and other kit items that come with their floor models and that's why this thing came without them. This seems like the dumbest. practice. ever. What are they thinking? And can't they just order a floor model from Canon without any of the kit? I would think that might be arranged.

Anyhow, now we can populate my kit with a bit of flexibility. We've got the battery and charger online for the price of just a battery at BestBuy. Next up? Neckstrap and lens. I'm excited about not being forced into the kit lens because I've heard it's not so great, so I'll be able get a slightly more versatile one. I have to figure out which one, though, bearing in mind that the pricier it is, the longer my stay in Birthday Purgatory.

WHATEVER, I'm still SO excited. I was actually going to go for the Rebel XT, if I went with Canon at all, so getting the step-up model for the same price is a pleasant surprise. Be on the look-out in the next couple of weeks for images from my beaut, who shall henceforth be known as 20D, The Widower-Maker.

Dialectical Materialism Strikes Again!

I don't often frequent Overheard in New York because my reading list is already rather long, but I had some time yesterday and laughed my HEAD off. The post is below, along with some of the other contenders for best headline. Click on the title below to read the rest, which are hilarious, too. Enjoy!

Two Honks, a Whistle and a 'Nice Ass' Means He Needs Directions

Man in truck: [Honks horn]
Rollerblading girl: What the hell does he want from me?
Man in truck: [Wolf whistles] Yeah, baby!
Rollerblading girl: ...Oh. Sex.

--50th & Riverside

· "In Germany It Means 'Let's Play Scrabble Sometime'" - briguy
· "It's Called a Chevy Pick-Up" - jason
· "Next on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom: Mating Calls of the North American Teamster" - Tom Beckett
· "They Usually Want To Discuss Dialectical Materialism" - International Man of Leisure

via Overheard in New York, Sep 21, 2006

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Massive Attack and My Marriage

Hubster and I were browsing iTunes the other day, and quite by accident, we found the song that's the theme of House. Teardrop by Massive Attack. He has this habit of rapping over it as we watch. It's annoying or hilarious depending on the day and the quality of his rhymes. Every time he does it I have to choose to love him for being a total dork. It seems like such a stupid fixation, but life is most often a series of picky little things, and thank God for that because otherwise, we'd all die young of adrenaline overload.

I've been thinking about that a lot because Rachel posted here about she and Hans negotiating the early stages of wedded co-habitation without murdering each other. I wrote a comment because there's nothing I love more than telling people they'll be okay, really, they're doing great. I'm sure she knows that, but I can recall thinking more than once that prison might be preferable to the clothes all ending up outside the dresser because "I've worn them once." I wanted to make sure she got some kind of atta-girl before she went for the kitchen knives. The clothes, by the way, still form their mountain range upon the dresser, but I've learned to work around it, and when I can't, he's learned to work around me. Hubster and I are paragons of compromise. Mostly.

I can remember thinking that I'd have liked a chance to try this crap for a while before getting married, moving, commencing with the sex, and all the other stuff that changed in a day. I knew why I did it all at once - I thought God had called me to those choices. Still, it didn't help to hear the remembered voices of so many Christians touting cohabitation divorce stats at me and claiming that it was totally practical and right and wasn't God smart to command what was better. And you know what? Maybe God knew that, and that is exactly why we shouldn't cohabitate. But maybe, just maybe, it doesn't have to make sense for it to be his command. Maybe, from our perspective, there doesn't have to be a reason.

That got me thinking about how much in contemporary American Christianity, we battle with Enlightenment expectations hijacking our faith. Everything has to have an application and a practical execution and a logical set-up. It's a bit hard to understand the mystery of faith like "Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again." in that light. The Nazirites like Samson took special vows and maybe they did it for a reason (like the no wine thing) but maybe it was just a call they felt and it wasn't particularly logical, but it was still holy and right before God (like the long hair thing). Why do Christians have to explain every little detail?

I've seen the stats on cohabitation before - the ones that say if you cohabitate without being married you're more likely to split up or divorce once you get married - and I've heard explanations from either side about why that is. Conservative Christians proclaim (when they're not calling those people "loose" and disparaging their ability to handle ANYTHING because MY HEAVENS THEY'RE SHACKING UP AAAAHHHH!) that it's because without till-death committment any union is doomed from the start. The non-conservatives say it's because people who cohabitate are more likely to think dissolving the union is preferable to a lifetime of misery and are willing to call something a mistake. (Mair, feel free to comment on this if you've got anything - I maybe misrembering SOCI 101.)

Whatever the reason for those stats, it was tempting to think the early months of marriage would have been easier had we shared a dishwasher and a bedtime routine and household chores for a while before we took the plunge down the aisle. But we didn't. And thanks to each other and a healthy dose of God-given patience, we've learned how to do avoid the fights and the shiny, pointy objects.

It's funny to think how far we've come partially because we're now facing the other side of the coin - we know how to live together, but it's making us less authentic in our union - we're cohabitating sometimes without being truly intimate in our thoughts and actions. We can deal with chores, but we can't deal with each other's hearts lately. It's always something. Fortunately, God's full of surprises and, whether it's practical or rational or not, he's called us to love each other over those difficulties. So I love him even when he's hopelessly flubbed the House rap. And I bet he loves me even when I tackle him to make him stop. Thank God.

*To my unmarried cohabitating friends: I don't mean this to sound like anything but an articulation of my own experience and feelings. You probably knew that, but I wanted to make sure I said that.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Linking Thursday

Before this post turns into a pumpkin at midnight, I thought I'd link a little.

1. I've done a site-design or two for fellow bloggers, but if you want instant gratification, this set of free templates is pretty snappy. Some of them are quite nice-looking and not yet popular enough to be recognizable. Semi-uniqueness - weeeee!

2. This rather acerbic article on Slate is about how everyone should stop trying to be funny. It's an interesting set of observations on a national obsession. I'm not sure I agree with all their conclusions, but I found it worth the read. Let me know what you think in the comments, if you bother to hunker down and click.

3. Total switcheroo - this article is tough stuff. NYTimes reporting on a Canadian man who was pulled from a return vacation trip and then sent to Syria, imprisoned for 10 months, and then tortured with the full-knowledge of the US of A. Scary stuff.

4. Switcheroo Number Two: McSweeney's strikes again! "The Recording Industry Will Destroy You." Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

"Sweet Potatoes" Appears 6 Times, Looks Wrong Every Time

Dinner will have to be abbreviated tonight, so of course I have food on the brain like a madwoman. We're picking up our second Galant desk courtesy of CraigsList, and there's just no time for much of one. Oh, well. Let's just think about food, shall we?

What I Wish I Were Making: Lime Cilantro Sweet Potatoes, a recipe from

2 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lime zest
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


1. Put oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 425°F. [Not strictly necessary, but okay.]

2. Toss sweet potatoes with 2 tablespoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a shallow baking pan. Arrange potatoes in 1 layer and roast, stirring halfway through roasting, until tender, about 25 minutes total. Stir together cayenne, zest, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Whisk together lime juice and remaining tablespoon oil in a medium bowl, then add potatoes. Sprinkle with cayenne mixture and cilantro, stirring gently to combine.

Makes 4 servings.
May 2004

It's really that simple. Having fresh cilantro on hand makes it TEN TIMES better. So delicious you'll HAVE to finish all the potatoes. Trust. Also, if you use dried cilantro, it'll still be tasty, and the sweet potatoes will still have a lower glycemic index than white potatoes so they'll be healthier. DELISH without the guilt. Although eating the whole pan might be counter-produtive. Hmmmmm . . . Oh, I know MAKE LESS. (I'm such a problem solver, no?)

I originally found these while trying to make your classic sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving with the loads of sugar (the direct route to make up for the healthy glycemic index). I wasn't brave enough to actually try them for a while, fearing that the sweet potatoes would rot, uneaten in the cupboard. Still, a VERY tasty alternative to the admittedly-yummy-but-still-unhealthy sugary variety. Don't fear the cayenne, either, because the sweet potato counteracts the heat nicely. Now, on to the Thyme-Roasted Sweet Potatoes.

*Hat-tip to JO, who first turned me on to this Epicurious business. It's brought me so much mirth (and possibly some girth), and for that, I thank you. Also, way to help me overdose on the sweet kid pics. LOVE!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Status: Wordy. So Normal. (UPDATED)

Shout out to my Oxford-bound homey. What up, Hans?

Hubster spent most of the weekend on the couch. Fine, he moved around but he was "taking it easy" as exhorted. That made it rather tough to do all the home-improvementy things we intended to do. We've decided to schedule things out on Sundays and trying to accomplish chunks of the projects every day. Last week was our first shot. PHEW, I'm so glad we got organized in time for a cold!

Friday night, I headed out for Girl's Night with Betty and her peeps. We saw The Last Kiss. We swooned over the music and Braff, but were somewhat stymied by the plot and some dialogue. It is NOT Garden State. The movie focuses on relationships in crisis, so it's not a feel-good like GS. Honestly, there were some lovely moments in the movie, and there were some ugly moments in the movie, and there were some overly melodramatic moments courtesy of too many storylines and the writer who brought us Crash, so no big shock there. Worth seeing if you like a serious drama about human relationship. Otherwise, meh. Verdict: I'm glad I went, but that might also be due to the street sign I snapped whilst there (picture above). Glad Betty and crew were so lovely. Oh, and we had Blue Moons afterward at a local Irish pub where a real, live Irishman lead us all in Irish bar songs. Can't beat that with a stick.

UPDATE: I just read lvs' take on the movie, and I can totally see where she's coming from, so if you're considering seeing it, you should read hers, too. Carry on . . .

And yesterday, I finally finished these:

FINE! That's only one. I KNOW. The light was streaming in, making it tough to get a good shot of the windowed doors toward the backyard. There are two doors and these valences hang on the curtain rods attached to the doors. The previous owners left us exactly TWO curtain rods in the entire house, and those were the ones. It was interested to experiment with such wide ones, and I think the curtains look pretty good on them. Yet another interesting print in the living room. Fortunately, I have some left over and I'm eyeing an IKEA lampshade to cover. We'll see how soon I'm feeling brave.

As to how the rest of us are feeling? Hubster and Persephone are feeling camera-shy (but better):

Loki is feeling adventurous and loving the tight spaces in the Propel case. (It should be noted that the compartment she's in is only half of the case, oh and Kashi owes me some product placement payout. I'll take it in GoLean Crunch, please.)

And I'm feeling a weeeee bit proud of myself for continuing to love my haircut despite the fact that I haven't radically altered it in several weeks. Ooo, it's probably been well over a month now! Now I just need a cookie. Excuse me.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ode to My Favorite Body, Now Beseiged

My Love, whose days are now so dark,
Whose body is laid low by plague,
I mourn anew your future stark
Of raw, red nose and shivers vague.

One moment to next you know not which
Will fever decide to depart or abide?
Within you strong concoctions pitch
In hopes of stemming microbial tide.

In vain now do you blow your nose,
Congestion's armies are so vast,
But soldier on against the blows
Of the virus onslaught's mighty blast.

Oh heaven forfend a lengthy conclusion
Let this pass soon to seem mere illusion.

Poor Hubster's a sicky, and blogging makes for bad nursing back to health. Let's just hope I don't get rewarded for my trouble by coming down with the same ague. (Okay, so I just wanted to use that word and couldn't work it into the crappy poem, so what?)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Linking Wednesday

Today's links are RANDOM with a capital R, A, N, etc. But they're great so whatever.

1. I won't say about September 11th. It's been done better by others, including this McSweeney's piece by John Hodgman. It's called Welcoming Remarks Made At A Literary Reading, 9/25/01, and it's quite illuminating. Here's a long quote, but a good one:
I have heard a lot recently about the role of writing, song, music, painting, in the tragic blank space in our souls that this event has left behind. Of course, this preoccupation is largely a result of an unconscious bias of the media. If pig farmers had as much currency with NPR as literary novelists, we would be hearing just as much about the healing power of bacon. And knowing that power well, I can say that it is certainly comparable to the reading of a sensitive short story as far as comfort goes; and yet both fall far below the direct aid that is being passed from person to person, below Chambers Street, in our homes, on the phone with strangers, with an actual touch, in the actual, nonsymbolic, unannotated world of grief in which we live. The great temptation is to be silent, forever, in sympathy.

2. My mom reminded me about this site. If you're looking for Christian theological and devotional material, you might want to check out the extensive and free Christian Classic Library. You've got everything from Early Church Fathers to Kierkegaard (I checked 'cause I'm a groupie like that).

3. And now to practical matters: are you as terrified as I am that you'll lose your cellphone contacts thereby losing touch with a million and one acquaintances? Check this out: Zyb is a service that backs up your contacts and will sync them with computer contact programs for FREE. Apparently, you can also share those contacts with others. Sounds sweet to me. Unfortunately, it doesn't work for we few Nextel subscribers, but it covers 200 different models, so it might work for you. I'll be sitting, envying, and manually entering over here.

4. Ladies, for a good skincare, cosmetics, and haircare site, you can't beat Delush with stick. Real women give reviews on all manner of products from L'Oreal to Chanel in price range. If I'm considering a purchase, particularly if it's because of marketing or in a fashion magazine, I usually check out their site and see if it stacks up. Love it!


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Idyll of Erica

We managed to hit some traffic on the way into C-ville, including a HUGE accident that totally blocked 29 South. Mair and J Morgan were laughing because if it's not massive traffic from a Coldplay concert or some such, there's always SOMETHING that gets in our way when we visit. They don't usually encounter more than a slowdown. Ha, ha, the Urban Gods hate us!

Anyhow, it all got a lot better when we arrived in time to go out for dinner at Downtown Thai (they don't have their own website, but this link gives their address and price range). The food was scrumptious, and we wandered around the Downtown Mall for a while before heading home, enjoying the mild weather.

The next morning we had out usual breakfast: coffee, cinnamon rolls (!), and scrambled eggs. We took it easy, and in the afternoon, we meandered over to the Barboursville Vineyards for a tour and some winetasting. We discovered why Virginia wine, despite Thomas Jefferson's dearest hopes, didn't take off until the 20th century. Apparently our soil has more microbes that kill European vines than one can legitimately shake a stick at. We've now discovered that by either hybridization or by grafting, we can grow European varieties of grapes on American soil. Now THAT is some delicious American ingenuity right there.

The aging room for their award-winning blended, Octagon.

The estate is notable, too, because Señor Jefferson designed a manor house for the Barbours back in the day, but it burned down in a fire on Christmas Day in 1884, and the ruins were never rebuilt. The picture I posted yesterday is from the ruins, as is the next one. There's a tiny image of the way the estate once looked on this page, but it's rather unimpressive compared to the ruins themselves.

We bought the requisite $4 goblets for the tasting, and we got to try almost everything they make. We had a lot of fun comparing impressions of the wines, and most of them were quite good, honestly, so it was a delight to just hang out and sample for a while. We ended up going in together to get 5% off our order, and Hubster and I are proud owners of their Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay Reserve, and Philéo, a fabulous dessert wine. Mair and J Morgan had already given us their Reisling a while ago, so we have that to drink, too.

That evening we ate my birthday dinner at The Shebeen Pub. I knew I wasn't going to cook something fancy the next day after our drive back and all, so it was nice to celebrate that night. We had the Baked Brie appetizer. Hubster had the Steak Pie entree, and I had the Sadza Cakes entree which was amazing! J Morgan's entree was the Sosatie, lamb and pork marinated in tamarind and tumeric and served with mango chutney and a yogurt dipping sauce. Food so good, it makes me want to cry. And eat, duh.

Somehow we managed to wedge our stuffed persons through the car doors and get home where Mair suggested playing Phase10, a card game with many rounds, and many opportunities for Erica to lose. Big time. Still, we tibbled a Barboursville Merlot all evening and by the time I lost, it was midnight and everyone said "Happy Birthday," and all was well with the world. And then we all crashed because it was a long, winey day.

After church the next morning, we came back to the casa and made pizzas. We made one vegetable-heavy one with zucchini, summer squash, onions, green pepper, and tomato topped with cheese. Delish. Then we decided to hit up the King Family Vineyards to spend the afternoon sipping their estate Chardonnay (theme?) and watching a polo match. Check this sweet action (click to enlarge or the horse will kick you):

It's an entry and a half to think about this region of the country that has SUCH a different culture from most other areas. But that's not this entry.

It was a perfect day for sitting out and watching, though, so we spent some time after the game just talking and enjoying the sun and the breeze. It was a great birthday.

It's the peeps that get you through year 24.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Checking In

Sorry, kids, I'm having too much fun with Futurama on [adultswim]. I'll post all about my weekend and my birthday tomorrow. With pictures! ooooOOOoooo.

And just to whet your appetite:

Friday, September 08, 2006

Finished and Fixin' To Leave

So I finished the dress. I used Simplicity #4072. It was decent, but I need to do some tweaking meaning that this version will be more of a muslin (meaning that you try out the pattern and need to make some adustments so this piece turns out to be unwearable in public). It's a little bigger than I wanted, especially through the shoulders (for once!), but though there's enough space for the bustline, it's poorly fitted and causes gaps in the neckline making any unsuspecting passerby privy to my preferred bra style. I've found fixes for most of the picky issues: (1) size down one or two times because this pattern runs big and has a lot of ease to boot, (2) apply an FBA (full bust adjustment) to smaller size to make room where I need it (bustline) not where I don't (shoulder, back width, etc.), (3) adjust neckline to prevent gapping, and (4) consider losing the interfacing for the neckline unless my fabric is really flimsy (I used a structured cotton for my contrast this time and it did NOT need the interfacing). Again I say unto you, THE INTERNET IS A BLESSED, BLESSED PLACE.

I'm a little disappointed because the fabrics ROCKED (especially the dark brown bodice/skirt one. Pretty! Still, I'll wear it around the house where flashing people my bra is not diparaged but is, in fact, somewhat encouraged.

And now I have to go pack because for my birthday weekend, we're going to Joshua and Mair's! Ciao, bellos!

Kimono-style tie, crappy-style photography. Weeee!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Three More Sleeps Till Birthday

So the dress is coming along alright. I ended up finished some edges by hand to make the construction nicer and more fray-resistant, so I've been hand-sewing up a storm. I really need a thimble. I always thought of them as superfluous, but after ramming a needle butt (which is almost as sharp as the needle itself) repeatedly against my finger, I'm thinking I should have one.

Oh, and my birthday is in two days. WOOOOOOOOOHOOOOO.

I was talking with Jefe today about birthdays on the phone. It's funny how people treat them. My mother always points out that in Argentina when you go to the doctor's office, you have to state three things in front of the entire lobby: your name, your maiden name (medical files are listed by maiden name since that's your genetic history), and your age. When she first found this out, she was shocked and slightly dismayed. Later, she began to realize that telling an entire room full of strangers your age could be liberating, especially coming from a North American background.

Maybe it's because Latin American countries haven't had high life expectancies as long as the North American countries. Maybe it's the Catholic roots, always more comfortable with tricky subjects like impending death. For whatever reason, they embrace life and though they've been influenced by the youth-obsessed American culture, they still value age and seem less afraid of it.

Contrast that with most of my friends who are FREAKED out by birthdays, and THEY'RE IN THEIR TWENTIES. I mean, if you can't be happy about them now, what will you do when you turn 30? 56? 68? I'm not looking forward to my body rebelling against me, or my mind giving out on important details, but let's get real. I will be 24 years of age on Sunday, and those unpleasant thoughts are far in the future (unless I become disabled in some way, but that's not really age-related so don't bring it up in comments and think you're SO clever for having refuted me with your spectucular, though ultimately fruitless counter-example. This is that vaunted youth everyone's after. Personally, I think it's somewhat overrated, and I look forward to further life experience and the greater self-determination that seems to come with age. Ah, but getting to those goodies means living to them, and I'm back where I started, sitting at my desk, totally geeked that I'm another year older and (I hope) wiser.

This is probably all a direct result of having spent most of time around adults. Surprisingly all their talk of "aging = enemy" didn't stick, though. Hurray for selective hearing, and for my sake, HURRAY FOR BIRTHDAYS.

All my twenty-something friends, you may commence (or continue) to hate me for my perky outlook on this topic.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Um, not good.

I might not be posting today because I might be sewing a dress and it might be giving me problems. As in, stupid neckline won't go in smoothly even though, frankly, there's no way this neckline design EVER goes in smoothly KNOW WHAT I'M SAYIN' (just nod), and I might be staying up late to fix it and regret it all in the morning.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Workaholic Weekend

This weekend was hellaciously productive. Hubster and I (not given to things like "tidying" or "scrubbing" under normal circumstances cleaned the house compulsively on Friday night and Saturday nights. I shopped for home and garment fabrics along with the largest collection of crazy do-it-yourselfers I've ever waited in line for fabric-cutting with (somewhere, my English teacher's eyes have spontaneously begun bleeding). Then I made a skirt, painted the newly-finished section of our laundry room which should soon be sporting the beautiful pine shelves Hubster partially constructed all weekend. In between those activities, I had time to go shopping with Betty for 4 hours and take an hour-long walk with Hubster in some local trails.

I am tired.

But I have some pictures to show for it:

This picture was certainly NOT taken in an H&M store where I was vigorously informed by an employee that I was NOT allowed to take pictures. Why would I have occasion to flout that, even if this blouse is an 80's throwback desperately in need of burning because FOR THE LOVE OF ZEUS, LEAVE THE AWFUL, SHEER, SHINY, UNSHAPELY, SWISS-DOT BLOUSES OUT OF THIS GREAT COUNTRY? (Let's observe a moment of silence for my English teacher, who is undoubtedly on her deathbed at this point.)

Now, some nature, because after that, we all need soothing:

Soothalicious vines and rocky formations.

Nature reclaims all things. Even large, wheely bits of industry.

See the water rush by and give no thought to sartorial atrocities.

And now for something completely different: the second installment of Erica's Budgetary Crimes and Misdemeanors. After the failure of The Shoes recently, Betty and I took an lovely, though admittedly ill-advised trip through Anthropologie during our marathon in Georgetown, and lo, I caved again:

This is not a direct replacement of the statement shoe I was going for last time (duh), but it's definitely a statement piece. It's so rare that I find a long sweater that makes me look as though I possess a waistline. What makes the sweater is its unique closure element. The day I learn to knit, I'm making eight of them. Seriously awesome. Also, expensive. I will be splitting this expense over a couple of months because OUCH. Yeah, I'll save you the trouble of looking it up. See? In my defense they had only a couple left and none in the alternate color, making it doubtful that they'd make it to the sale rack. So I have a new favorite sweater, and I won't be buying many this year, but I'm perfectly happy because, even if the colors look wonky with my bad lighting, this is cool:

That's the skirt, too. Please don't ask me where the fabric came from. I might let slip that I pulled a Sound of Music with some curtain fab . . . oh, poo.

Friday, September 01, 2006

I, Seamstress

So I have mentioned, once or twice, that I can sew. That is, I've mentioned that I can sew curtains which, as any of you who have attempted garment sewing know, is QUITE ANOTHER MATTER INDEED. Curtain sewing rarely makes you BFF with your seam ripper, for one thing. But really, I am a garment sewer of intermediate skills.

It's funny to think of myself as "a seamstress." I suppose it's an antiquated term, but until recently, it's felt like a flat-out antiquated occupation for a twenty-something American woman. Most of my generation can, under the duress of poverty prohibiting tailors, HEM A PAIR OF PANTS. I've known some friends (HF and Laura spring to mind) who've outfitted entire casts with period costumes, but they are the exception, not the rule. And why not, right? It costs $5 for a clearance T-shirt at Old Navy and I can spot a new dress on a sale rack at Ann Taylor LOFT for $40 a several times a year. It seems a weeee bit nuts to go out and buy a pattern, yards of fabric, a zipper, some bias tape, lining fabric, and you know, the big expensive sewing machine just to make a freakin' dress. Ah, but that's where I miscalculated my rebellious generation.

Behold, I have found so many sewing tutorial sites and crafty blogs that I am awash in inspiration. If you're not the type to be interested by sewing websites, then by all means skip the rest of this entry, but if you've been wondering where you can find some sweet helps/hints, read on, all 2 of you. I might just be doing this for the record of links anyway. MIGHT.

1. rocks. I mean OFF THE HOOK. I haven't yet registered in order to access the archives, but let me tell you, even the free content is worth it. The idea started with a central place for people to make comments on different patterns they bought - Did they work? How was the fit? Did it run big/small? Were the instructions clear? Any recommended changes for fit or ease of construction? Like I said, it's a treasure trove. I found out about some great dress patterns, and I fully intend to make a Duro Olowu knockoff, but the site helped me pick between two competing pattern companys' interpretations of the style. ROCK!

2. This woman's blog is, frankly, just plain adorable. She seems to sew a lot, and though she's British, she still ends up using a lot of similar patterns. She also seems to know a thing or two about fit and has a similar frame to me, though she's taller, so I think her advice is pretty appropriate for me. Great ideas, too.

3. This woman has an excellent, well-spelled name (one guess as to what it is >;) and a lovely blog. She knows her fashion, and she uses sewing to achieve good fit for the latest styles. She's also a crochet/knitter type, and the more I read from those folks the more my fingers start to itch for some sweater-y goodness. Anyway, worth a look, if only to see what she's stitching up. Her finished garments look fabu.

4. I'm actually not sure how I found this sight in my surfing, but I'm so glad because it's my renewed my interest in non-home-decor sewing. It's called Wardrobe Refashion '06, and it's a group blog of people who've taken a 2-, 4-, or 6-month pledge to buy no new clothing but instead to make or preferably remake their clothes and accessories as much as possible. Some are doing it for the thriftiness, some from environmental motivations, and others just to start or keep sewing. Anyway, they have some great ideas about ways to find fabric or remake clothing that's too big, too small, out-of-date, or just plain boring to us now. I've found several amazing seamstresses through that site, and though I'm not pledging, this is one sorority I might want to join.

Okay, and that's enough for now. I'm already itching to make clothes for which I have no equipment whatsoever. As KD would so succinctly put it, "Let's not get excessive."