Sunday, January 15, 2017

Air Fryers, Mardi Gras Dress, and Crafting

So Dean's parents gave him an Air Fryer for Christmas, and I was the first to try it out (shocking, I know). Have you seen these in Bed, Bath, and Beyond? You can chop up some sweet potatoes and spray them with Pam or coat them with olive oil, put them in the basket...


Cook for about 20 minutes, turning them halfway through...


And have delicious sweet potato fries! Not sure why they're that color, but be sure to cut them into uniform strips or they'll be more like sweet potato wedges that nobody really wants to eat.


And with chicken, be sure to only put a few pieces in there, because otherwise they won't cook uniformly and it'll take twice as long. This chicken was delicious though (buttermilk batter from the recipe book that came with the fryer), and was SO JUICY! Plus there's no grease!


So I highly recommend one, because it goes into the dishwasher, but mainly if you're cooking for 1 or 2, as cooking for 4 people overloads the basket. Dean made chicken wings in it and they were delicious, but had to be done in batches to cook evenly. Also great if you don't have an oven or don't want to fire up the oven!

On to a crafting project. I discovered an old sheet in my closet that used to be on my parents' bed in the 1970's. Not sure how (or why) I held onto it that long, but I pulled it out and decided it needed to be recycled into something useful. I was thinking a summer tank top or skirt, with some Alabama Chanin-style embellishment maybe. My mom thought it should be placemats with a coordinating backing fabric. I decided that she and my sister and I should each take a section and do something independently with it, then compare notes! So here are the 3 sections:


Lucas thinks the design is not modern enough for clothing and said the colors are not in right now (he's my fashion guru), but I told him that's called "vintage."


My mother said clothing will go out of style, but placemats won't. I'm not sure what Tracey will come up with. When we're finished, I'll post the final projects and we'll see how creative we all were. Fun!


And are you ready for the 2017 Dr. Fun Mardi Gras dress? It's the Simplicity 5093 slinky dress I first made back in 2011,


but this time I added the flounce from view E and criss-crossed the straps in back, so as not to be boring with the exact same dress in a different color. And I think now the "flounce" would be referred to as a "mermaid dress."


This is plain crisscross, but I thought maybe I should jazz it up with a loop or something instead?


Um, nerp. That didn't work out.


So I'm heading upstairs today to undo that and hopefully hem it up, plus I do need to tighten it up a little around the waist, since I thought I made a size 14 bodice based on my 2011 review, but apparently I really needed a 12. I'm bad about adjusting stuff after I've cut it out and not going back to adjust the pattern accordingly - do you do that? Usually by the time I get around to hemming, I'm sick of working on it, so I just stuff the pattern back in the envelope and forget about it. This time I made some notes on the pattern envelope, since this seems to be a keeper. And now for a beautiful panorama that Lucas took of our local swamp...er, wetlands.


And 2 last craft projects from my brother. This was the lamp he made from a nice gin bottle last Christmas, and it's taken me one full year to find the right lampshade for it! Apparently a 10" drum with a flat spider is unheard of, but Home Depot of all places ended up with an appropriate substitute!


And it's perfect on my self-assembled shelf. Jake approves!


I also forgot to mention his hand-turned wooden ornaments he brought for Christmas this year - gorgeous!


So have you done any neat craft projects in 2017? I'm very happy with this year so far, since I've gotten back to my running fairly regularly (we are off for the Azalea Trail Run and will be signing up!), my sewing mojo is hanging in there with this dress, my knitted split-neck sweater is ready to start sleeves, and we ate breakfast outside today because of the beautiful weather! Also, I'm re-reading The Shack because they're releasing the movie soon - anybody else read that? It's very inspirational and makes you happy to be alive. So I hope you're having a great year so far, too, and go have yourself an awesome Sunday!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

New Year's in Nassau

So after enjoying all the family for Christmas, we come to New Year's. I had to work over Christmas, but we had a couple of days off at New Year's so we decided to take a quick family trip to the Bahamas. This is all in the philosophy of live every day like it's Christmas...or your last day to live if you want to be morbid about it. Before we left, I spotted this wacky sky with a bit of rainbow in the middle, if you can spot it.


Here's a better shot...


So we arrived on New Year's eve to 80 degree weather.


The water was more like 70 degrees, and I tried to capture how pretty it was...


but failed at that I think...


Oh well, it's pretty water.


We made last-minute dinner reservations at a restaurant that was having a gala celebration that included champagne, dinner, and party favors. I look more like my Dad smoking a cigarette than a woman enjoying New Year's eve.


We had 2 jaunty hats and 2 of the feather head-things...


Drew snagged the second hat, so Lucas declined any adornments.


But we did have a great time trying to snap pics of the dresses and shoes that were in attendance, while trying to look like we were just taking pictures of each other.


This is just half of the outside setup - the other half was a huge dance floor with DJ - WHAT?!!! Now you know why this was such a great New Year's eve for me! We made some friends from Brazil (a woman named Mel whose parents had just bought a house in Nassau, and her somewhat elderly mother never left the dance floor), danced till midnight (yes, everyone danced, though Lucas may have just loitered around the edge of the dance floor) then watched the fireworks at Atlantis, which was across the water from us.

The next day, we went on a boat to go paddleboarding and snorkeling. Sadly, I don't have any of the paddleboarding pics, but here's the pretty water again...


And here we are after snorkeling in the 70 degree water. Drew and I figured it's just like the Arctic Enema of Tough Mudder, but it did make me go numb after a few minutes. And for some reason, my hair always turns into Medusa's snakes after I've been in the water. Not pretty!


Here IS a pretty picture that Lucas took of his delicious hotdog eaten after paddleboarding in this quiet little cove (where the "local pharmaceutical rep" lives, by the way, and yes, that's a euphemism).



So on our last full day, we decided to reconnoiter Atlantis, which was a 10-minute walk from our joint. This is a beautiful bougainvillea bush outside our door, but if you look close you'll discover they recently re-roofed the place, because those are nails from a nailgun in there!


You can walk around a bit of Atlantis without paying anything, but we were stopped before the main lobby at lunch, so we wandered around the marina then went back to our condo for sandwiches. Luckily, they open it up at 6 PM so everyone can see the marine habitat for free (normally a $45 value - thanks for that tip, TripAdvisor!), so we went back after dinner to do that, and somehow ended up in the main water park where the huge slide is that goes through a shark tank. We decided Atlantis is a big Disney-Vegas amalgamation that's not really representative of Nassau, so were very happy we didn't stay there...although we did partake of their Ben and Jerry's!


And one last thing we walked through was The Cloisters, which is a French garden and cloister and apparently wide open to the public, if you ignore the No Trespassing sign, which we did.


Another couple walked in with a tour guide, so we thought we were going to get kicked out or something, but the guide actually offered to take a picture of us...probably for the police.


Very pretty place!


So, back home to reality, work, and school - boo. We did get to keep Drew a few more days before he goes back to Auburn, so that's been nice. He's working on something called the Game of Life, which is apparently a game you play online or on your phone, but he wants to make a real one. It involves drilling 100 holes in a piece of plywood and putting LED lights in there that light up in certain ways. This is just after drilling...


And this is the soldering he's done so far on the wires - very impressive!


Those electrical engineering classes are already paying off! And now I'm off to work on my Mardi Gras dress today. Hope you had a great New Year, and remember to live like you're dying, to borrow a phrase from Tim McGraw!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas Felting - What?

So Drew bought a fun game called Machi Koro that's a Japanese version of Monopoly, if you will, and was quite fun to play in our pre-Christmas anticipation. (I decided to treat every day like the day before Christmas, although I have not cracked open the eggnog even as we speak, and you should ignore the faces of the children.)


I also started preparing way ahead of time for the dinner at our house...not that I was cooking anything important, mind you, because Dean was all over that, but I did plan to set the tables....which meant putting Drew to work polishing silver. Because he polishes his shoes so well for AFROTC, see? He loved it!


Then the family arrived, and a glorious time was had. But first we actually went running and did pushups. No, I'm kidding, that was part of the awesomeness - several of us got up and went for a 9 AM run followed by pushups and situps.


Because it was like 70 degrees on Christmas Eve - nice!


Here's my work of art, accented by my sister's artistic touches...

and the other table accented by my mother's artistic touches.


And here's the kitchen accented by Dean's artistic touches! I cooked exactly one of those dishes. Thanks to Dean and the family for all this food!


And of course the huge Christmas dinner had to be followed by more Christmas exercise, so this is my nephew attacking the horizontal rope.


Sadly, my sister was defeated in her attack.


Then all the ladies took to the streets for a walk...not together, mind you, just to go for a walk. Just kidding - we were walking together the whole time till this hill separated us out.


Okay, now for a funny thing. Do you remember this beautiful Alpaca sweater, that was the second thing I ever knitted?


Well I know you can't tell from this picture, but I washed it in cold water with other items on delicate...not hand-wash and alone like it wanted. So it shrunk up, but I could still force an arm down the sleeve. I was upset, but not devastated because it is REALLY warm for our weather here, and I just wore it last week when it was freezing. It was a little itchy, and my set-in shoulders are honestly a tad wonky.


This is an attempt to show how the stitches are melding together a little bit.


So it was thicker and too small, and I decided to maybe salvage a skirt out of it. I figured I'd felt it one more time so it'd be safe to cut. Can you pick out the ribbing now?



And behold the wonder of a warm-water wash with towels on an alpaca sweater - whaaaaa?!


So now I need suggestions for where to go from here. Boot-toppers? Coasters? Coffee cozies? So many possibilities - and obviously a skirt is no longer in the works. Let me hear your ideas, and also how your Christmas went!