Sunday, August 10, 2014

Summer's Over

Man, where did the time go? It's been years since I posted something! Well here are a couple of pictures to remind myself what we did this summer after July 4th. We went to Universal Studios since it'll probably be the last time Drew goes there with us...until he has kids of his own - wahhhhhh!

So this is in Harry Potter-ville, or whatever the name of that town is where he catches the train, and this was a cute display.

Yeah, I couldn't tell you how the ride was, as there was always a 4-hour wait, mostly due to it breaking down frequently. But I CAN recommend Rip Ride Rockit:

...where you pick your favorite song to belt at the top of your lungs, thus embarrassing your 17-year-old son listen to while climbing 17 stories straight to Jesus then hurtling up to 65 mph! Lucas didn't ride that, of course, but he did overcome a couple of panic attacks to ride the Mummy...twice, in fact. He said that his goal this summer was to conquer that particular fear, and he was terribly proud of himself.

This was breakfast at the local restaurant - I guess New York has pigeons and Orlando has....herons or something like that.

Dean tried to sneak up on it, prompting it to take flight.

This was a chandalier at the Hard Rock Hotel by Universal - all saxophones!

When we got home, we found a lost water bird of our own hanging out in the backyard.

So the rest of the time I've been working, giving lectures, taking call, etc., in addition to finishing some knitting projects. I need to take a picture of the scarf I finished, but I also did a couple of dishrags and am about 1/4th of the way through another shrug for myself. Hmmm, seems like I'm forgetting something....oh yes - that Alabama Chanin skirt I was couching! Haven't touched it in a couple of weeks, but I'll get back to it shortly.

Okay, off to prepare for the first day of school tomorrow. Can I just add in closing that I've never cried as much watching the national news as I have this last week? Between the bombings and the massacres in the Middle East, my eyelids just stay swollen. You hear about it every day, but to see footage of the poor men being lined up in a field of dead bodies, with the picture freezing just before the gunmen start shooting them, then the 3 little brothers in the hospital with their faces burned, just kills me. What the hell is the world coming to? Wow, what a great note to end on - thanks, Dr. Fun!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Mojo is Back! The Mojo is Back!

Apparently it just takes a call weekend where the family leaves me and there's no reason to stay downstairs. I was on call for the 4th, so I opted for my Alabama Chanin red skirt, white coat, and dark blue tank. I felt quite patriotic. And it's funny - I read another fashion blogger's post about avoiding the "cliched red, white, and blue color scheme." Cliched? Seriously? It's about our country - hello!

Sorry - needed to get that off my chest. Okay, on to my stunning productivity. This is the knitted headband gift from Ravelry that started me back on the machine (had to seam it together)....and broke a needle - yowza. The recipient can wear it like this...

or like this.

After that, I decided to make a new tankini top, since the old pink one is starting to sag a bit at the neckline, exposing a bit more of moi than I'd like. I divided my time between cutting and sewing upstairs and researching the internet for patterns and techniques. I even broke out my coverstitch machine that I haven't used in months! Hel-LO, LA-dies!

I didn't have enough pink fabric, but I DID have the black nylon lycra I previously made Pure Barre pants from, and it coordinates quite well with hot pink, so voila! (And yes, Sister, I put on my tight Pure Barre pants and monster heels, and strutted around singing "You're the One that I Want" from Grease - just didn't want to embarrass Dean with a pic.)

I didn't want an identical tankini, so this is McCall's 5400, which I first attempted here. That effort was just a bikini top and bottom that scared me away from swimsuits for 2 years, so I'm very proud to come back and conquer this thing!

I wonder if I'm really that crooked or if it's just my arm positioning. I still need to hem it, but I don't want to lose any length, so I might just run it through the coverstitch to LOOK hemmed.

And I need to tack down this strap - McCall's has you sew one end on, add your elastic around the top, then try it on before sewing the other end of the strap. Kinda weird. (Also weird is the way my elastic turned out - kinda overdone there on that side, and much less on the other side, but I don't think anybody'll notice.)

Also, I didn't have enough nude lining, so I paid Hancock's and Joann's a visit today. Oddly (or not, actually), Hancock's only had white lining, and Joann's was tres cheap-feeling, so white it was. And when the family returned, I was wearing it - hooray!

Okay, back downstairs, I packaged up the white washcloth gift and the headband gift in these recycled white gift bags...

and I have a larger bag for this scarf gift when I finish it. Love this pattern!

Oh, and I'm still couching. Anybody else bounce between knitting and sewing projects every hour on the hour?

I might start getting depressed that my big crafting weekend is coming to an end. OH - tomorrow I'll try and show you the crazy swimsuit fabric I bought for more tankini tops to coordinate with the pink bottoms. One has pink palm trees and black skull and crossbones - kind of piratey!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Flowers and Jake

Just some pretty pictures I took with my phone...

of some flowers in the backyard...

forgive the dog leg...

and one on a walk around the neighborhood.

And Jake got brave enough to jump up in the bow of the boat a couple of weeks ago, but he was a little scared...

then he realized he would live through it...

then he decided he was King of the World...except his ears and his tail tell a different story.

Happy 4th of July!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Best Birthday Weekend.....Ever!

Ready for a whirlwind of pictures? Let's start with the Mobile airport on Friday morning. Why the heck is this crazy vintage car in the lobby?

No idea, but how funkilicious!

The trunk is a veritable confection of dinosaurs and disco balls!

My sister and I arrive with 5 minutes of each other at the Knoxville airport and make it to the hotel. They've filled the gift shop with Alabama Chanin clothes - must have this lime green fabric!

We take a little tour of the property before dinner and try out this fabulous swing on a 45-degree incline. If you face the mountains and get a good push, it is panic-attack-inducing.

At the champagne reception and dinner Friday night, I became a babbling idiot when meeting Natalie Chanin. I start with, "Oh my goodness, it's such an honor to meet you," and end with, "I made skirt." She actually gives me a hug at this point, but is probably patting me down for weapons, and can you believe they have seated me NEXT TO HER at the table?! Whoever made that executive decision, I am forever indebted to you. That woman rocks! After dinner, a fun mother-daughter sewing pair join my sister and me in the lounge, and we make friends with all the returning guests. Any time someone asks what we're here for this weekend, we pounce on them with our iPhones to show them what Alabama Chanin is all about. (Did I mention there were wine pairings with dinner?)

Okay, on to Saturday. This is a display of their wares, but I couldn't get all the swatches in the pic....OH, the swatches.

Okay, Natalie teaches the physics of sewing Saturday morning and we break open our kits. The plum couched skirt I chose to make is pictured below, but this is from a website (Polyvore? No idea what it is) with a huge pic, so forgive the size. This was listed for $1430 - DUDE!
Couched Anna's Garden Skirt | Alabama Chanin

Natalie came over and very seriously informed me that couching is one of the most difficult of the techniques, and was I fully aware of that. I told her I had done a full-length beaded Mardi Gras dress, and I was not here for relaxation. She said she liked my attitude. (Take me now, God, I have hit the pinnacle of my existence! This is like when one of their designers told me my color choices were good together, but SO MUCH BETTER!) Okay, so then there's lunch and a few more hours of sewing while Natalie tells us the history of Alabama Chanin and some other very entertaining stories. After that, I collect my sister, who's been cross-stitching, napping, and generally relaxing in the room, and we go for a walk around the whole property.

It commences to raining pretty hard, so we take cover first in a boathouse on a lake, then again in a big gazebo by another lake. This is called "cray-cray selfie," and it is even before the wine.

Check out the awesome rainbow. God was smiling at me ALL weekend!

Oh, and the wine! This is how it comes from room service - in mason jars! (And it comes from room service when the in-house bar is shut down for a private function, but you don't know that because you just walked in from the rain, so you line up with all the other people - who are related to each other - and wait 10 minutes before someone tells you this is a private party.....DOH!)

So then there is an excellent dinner with my sister, then a little dance party back in the room (because we must dance while there are no disapproving glances from embarrassed family members), then stitching till about midnight. Which brings us to today, and this is the Alabama Chanin crew. Kay is to the left, Olivia next (who helped me with my MG dress questions - so sweet!), and you know the other two.

SO, here is my progress thus far on the couched skirt. And couching means sewing strips of fabric around the stenciled design, and is far more enjoyable than beading, though not quite as fast as embroidering.

I think I can finish this in a couple of weeks, given that I'm on call starting tomorrow - bleh.

I may embellish some of the smaller shapes with a few of the beads I have left over from the MG dress...hmmmm.

I don't think it's too late to quit my new job and see if Natalie wants to open a branch of AC at the other end of the you?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Most Awesome Birthday Present Ever....

But first, of course, I have to show you something else since I've been gone a month. I lost my sewing mojo a while back, but the knitting one is always there since I can sit in the den with the family. I finished a shrug but can't drag myself upstairs to seam it together on the machine, so I started aNOTHER shrug to keep my hands busy. Then it got complicated so I decided to knit some little gifts for my 3 office employees, since they're doing such a great job. I also wanted to use stash yarn. I was going to do 3 dishcloths, but I ran out of washable cotton, so I decided to try a hairband in this organic cotton that can only be washed in cold and laid flat to dry. It has a big twist in the center, but I've done cables before, so what's the big deal?

Oh crap, I totally screwed that up...or did I? I just kept knitting after I verified with my mother that you work the cable stitches right to left as usual. Everything turned out fine!

Okay, so back to my birthday, which is Tuesday. Dean gifted me with a weekend at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee sewing with Natalie Chanin! WOO-HOO! It's one of those "away" sewing workshops with just 11 other women, and I picked a skirt with couching, since that was the most complicated-looking thing. (I mean, if you're paying for one of those expensive workshops and you've already made a dang Mardi Gras dress from her book, you've got to shoot for the stars, am I right?!) But not only that, he's also flying my SISTER in from Wisconsin with her cross-stitching for a girls' stitching weekend! How relaxing can it get?

So she and I board our respective planes tomorrow morning, enjoy a champagne reception and dinner tomorrow night with Natalie and the crew, then commence to sewing our hearts out. I'll post plenty of pics, but I'm quite intimidated about meeting Natalie, so we'll see if I get one with her or not. I imagine it'll be like meeting Sandra Betzina....or not. Our first meeting consisted of my mouth gaping open and saying the usual fluff while she sat down in front of me and lifted my shirt to measure my waist - GET to know me! (That was an SNL reference.)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Hangout Fest 2014

Let's start with a couple of videos. This is Trombone Shorty from New Orleans, and he TEARS it up with his trombone - very funkilicious!

Next is when I got mesmerized by watching hundreds of people walk by while I was sitting on a curb eating dinner. Just stare into the middle of the frame at all those legs and lots of bare feet - how do they not step on something? I found that very Zen. Ignore the bikinis and fat bellies, just stare at the legs. The human race is pretty cool overall.

Next would be Lucas eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich...with a grilled banana and bacon - it was delicious, if a bit slippery.

Lots of grass and seating areas for your dining pleasure.

I'm grinning because I'm fixing to bust a move - look out!

The chick behind me joined me in my dance-fest...and her friends got more video and pics than mine did, but some 20-something guy gave Dean a free beer, "after seeing Mom dance around the group."

We rode the Ferris wheel the next day - nice view! I almost saw Robbie's house!

Check out this girl's KNITTED or CROCHETED bikini top! I saw a couple of these and want to make my own now.

Do you see Lucas? That's because these guys attacked him with bubbles as the girls looked on...

Luckily he came up with a grin, but it was a little over the top for a minute.

Which reminds me that the first night, Lucas asked me what that SMELL was. When I told him it was marijuana, he was indignant that the police were "doing NOTHING about it - it's ILLEGAL!" He relaxed a little bit when I told him the stats showed 15 arrests for possession of marijuana. And here's a guy with a horse head like Drew wanted.

Lastly, don't you dig this guy's pants? I need some of those for lounging around the house!

I will be back next year - it's better than Jazzfest in New Orleans, in my humble opinion, because it's not on a dry (or muddy) horsetrack, there's just as much great food, and the vendors and attendees were (for the most part) so friendly and laid back. You should check it out!