Monday, October 31, 2011

The Halloween that Wasn't

I was  off my game this Halloween….no dress-up, no black and orange striped tights for work, no party. I didn’t make one costume for my grandchildren. I almost bought Dum-Dum suckers to give away…versus not giving away anything.
Of course that means all day long, I’m trying to think of places I can go to in a hurry to find some sort of get-up so that at least I can scare the kids that come to our door for trick or treat. Meghan suggested that we could be scary enough by just declaring things like:
“Go away! There’s no candy here!”
“Quiet Down!”
“These lights are only for decoration…get off our porch!”

We really could be the meanest, scariest people in the neighborhood.

I expressed my disappointment to JR as I left for work yesterday morning…that we weren’t even going to be dressing up this year.
Who says?”
“Seriously? Were you thinking of something?” ( I was getting excited!)
"Yes…you can dress up as a nurse tonight.”
“Very funny, dear. I’ll pick up a set of scrubs later today.”
That’s not what I had in mind.”

Even at work, I was a little disappointed to see that no one really got into the Halloween spirit..other than the typically inappropriately dressed assistant, who of COURSE came in costume today. At least she was just dressed as a regular black house cat and saved us all from potential worse embarrassment. Several ladies wore their Quaker Factory Halloween sweatshirts…which was even more embarrassing than any misguided, unbefitting attempt at being a slinky, provocative  feline.

But, there’s hope. 
Later this week, we have an Employee Celebration Event to attend, where we are encouraged to dress representing our favorite decade. Well, that’s a no brainer for me…straight out of the Mad Men era for us. My only decision was what to wear! Will I dress Joan Holloway or Peggy Olsen or at-home-casual Betty Draper? There are so many possibilities with all of the current “vintage” patterns available.

Ultmately, I chose a casual look, which interestingly enough, is right on trend these days! I’ll share with you later in the week

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Vogue 1205. The Red Dress

After much frustration, and re-making, and modifiying and well, much frustration, my red dress is DONE! 

Let me tell you about this dress. First of all, I love it. It's made from red ponte de roma knit. And it's red. It's versatile, it's updated, and well, it's red. I love red.

I made some modifications, of course. I cut a size 18. and did my usual full bust adjustment. and narrowed to a 16 from the hips down. I eliminated the back vent. I enlarged the armholes ( they were very high cut)...and still probably could have cut them away even more.

I also eliminated the zipper. I am terrible at putting in invisible zippers, so my way to get around it was lining the bodice with a black tricot knit ( yes, I actually cut the lining from a thrifted black slip!). This gave it enough stretch to be able to get it over my head comfortably. The rest of the dress is lined in red Bemberg Rayon.

This dress can be worn is so many ways, through every season. Which is another reason I like it so much.
With tights or without, with boots or heels, a sweater, jacket or no topper at all... I can see so many wardrobe possiblities with this dress. I give it two thumbs up!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Darker Side of Decorating

I'm slowly decorating my office…making it feel more like me.

JR made this narrow shelf/rack for me from a piece of molding I found on the roadside. He added some vintage glass knobs, and it makes a perfect display shelf for family photos..every day, I get to look up and see those precious faces of grandbabies. It makes me smile. It makes me happy.
Halloween d├ęcor is okay for the workplace, right? How could I resist? More than a few people creeped out  by the shadow of the giant spiders that hang in the window of my office as they enter the building.... I LOVE it!

This weekend was all about playing with creativity...

These eerie, crawly transfers are from the Martha Stewart craft collection. They sit in a vignette on my front porch, waiting for a reaction from the mailman. Oh, and the paper pennant garland hanging from  my office shelf? That's Martha, too.

I’ve  also been working on a few other pieces  for my office.
I am in love with anything vintage ephemera: old letters, ledger paper, library cards, photographs, greeting cards, recipes. name it.  I have a small collection that I’ve put together over the years…things that have been tucked away in auction lots,  bundles of old letters and photographs that were discarded by families, scrapbooks  that were long ago intended to hold special memories forever, that now are only a wee glimpse of someone’s past.  I make copies of these treasures and use them in special ways when the mood hits…I can’t bear to  get rid of something that shares a smidgen of a detail of lives long ago forgotten.


 After being inspired by  artwork ( seen in  a recent issue of Country Living  magazine),  I created my own versions that will hang in my office.

So, here's what I did:  Started with  frames from the thrift store, $1.49 each, and sprayed them black. Then I found some stock paper with vintage handwriting on it, and cut it to a narrower size to feed through my printer.  I printed a Rorschac inkblot that found online directly onto the scripted paper. I aged the paper, roughened the edges, and I got a couple of real conversation starters!

My second inspiration came from some work by  Janny Fraser I saw when Elizabeth and I visited a JordonVillage, Ontario art gallery.

Hmmm...I just wonder what Dr. Rorschach would say about me?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Interpreting the Trends

I have to share today’s work outfit.  It just goes to show that no matter what your budget, you can create a look that’s on trend, pulled together and flattering….even if your budget is only $3.50!
One of the hot looks right now is a midi-length dress or skirt…It’s feminine and flowy, and such a nice departure from a classic knee length pencil skirt which I always find myself gravitating toward.

Elizabeth and James

Nation, LTD

I was on the hunt for just the right knit skirt for my outfit… with the perfect small scale print so it didn’t look like I just pulled it from my own thrift pile. It had to look updated without necessarily being a newer garment.

Vince Camuto

Well, I found it! My cost? $1.99.
To make it complete, I added a dolman sleeve light-weight black tunic sweater over a teal tank from my closet.  I thrifted the tunic last summer in Michigan for $1.50!
After popping on a wide belt , my funky chunky wedges (no kitten heels here!), and a bold chain necklace, I think it works!

Do you think it works?

 Actually, I love that we can wear mini, knee length, midi or maxi...whatever floats your boat! What do you think of the whole skirt length thing? Are you trying something that's a departure from your normal?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Seeing Red.

Confession: Lost Lust for Sewing.
That's right...I have been in a sewing slump. Maybe it's because the rest of life has just gotten in the way?  No time these past few weeks?  I'm not sure, because certainly I'm full of ideas, have a pile of projects waiting, and  I'm always in the mood for a new something.  If I could only get this red dress made....

This is my saga...a dress that I am determined to complete, despite every obstacle that has come between us.
Last month, while I was browsing on my lunch hour, I was struck by the red and black knits at Macy's:


 Bold, fabulous, big chunks of red and black.

I already had plans to make Vogue 1205    and already had the red ponte, so I think I was inspired enough to get it going.

Until: I didn't make a muslin.
I had fit issues.
I cut the wrong sides for some pattern pieces, so I had to buy more ponte and re-start.
After getting the bodice cut a larger size ( which I figured would save me the time of doing an all out full bust adjustment)

It didn't work. I should know better.

 So back to the drawing board to re-cut and do an actual full bust adjustment.

In the midst of taping up my new pattern piece, I lost my roll of tape....I wonder if Birdie has it.

And you know how that goes. I could have gone to the store and been back in the time I spent searching for a $1.49 roll of tape! Then of course, all week long, I forgot  to buy more tape. Good grief.

So, today, I'm going to get a pedicure, and buy some tape,  and then I'm going to tackle this dress project once again. I really am.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ten Things I Did This Weekend

Ten on Tuesday:

Because of the torrential downpours the previous weekend, we had to cancel our plans to go camping with friends at Allegany State Park and instead, we loaded into their RV and went to the Black Lake cabin in the Thousand Islands. Even though we made lemonade from lemons, and had a great time despite the rain, I was a little whiny about the fact that we missed out on our one last camping trip of the year.
So, leading up to this weekend was a surprise announcement on Wednesday from my husband that we would, in fact, be going camping at Allegany…just the two of us, and an amazing October weekend with the leaves at peak.  That meant some quick planning and packing, and by Friday afternoon, we were on our way.
Ten things I did this weekend:

1. I made delicious camp-stove meals

2. We did lots of leaf-peeping.

3. Short hiked to Thunder Rocks. 

4. Picnicked and napped on the shores of Redhouse Lake. 


5. Snuggled up in the tent
to stay warm on chilly 40 degree nights. 

6. Campfire gazed for hours.

7. Worked on a new knitting project.
8. There was no cell coverage: so no texts, emails or blog reading...instead: laughing, talking and book    reading.
9. Planned how we were going to start the renovation of our vintage camper.
10. Walked in the night under an amazing sky full of stars.

That said, being away the past few weekends has left me little time to sew, and I confess, I’m having a little bit of withdrawl… I do have some exciting projects in process that I will be sharing soon, though.
And, actually, now that Fall is upon us, I’m getting those nesting urges…not sure if it’s because I’m surrounded by pregnancy or if it’s just because it’s time to move indoors and make a cozy home.  I think about the slipcovers I want to make, and the beds I want to plump up with coverlets and blankets. It’s time to burn spicy candles and scatter some leaves and pumpkins about.  Some new pillows and cushy throws for the sofas would be just the thing, too…which means I have about a gazillion things to add to my “to do” list!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Teal, the color for Fall

One of the things I mentioned on Lori's Sew Forth Now Podcast was how I found a teal blouse at the thrift store and had intentions to modify it into a more fitted tunic.   According to Pantone, Teal is the color of Fall 2011. When I hear something like that, it sticks in my head, so of course, when I go thrifting, I'm thinking, "teal, teal' teal..."  And I'm also thinking that if it's a "color of the season," it may not be the color of next season, or ever again in the next few years, for that matter. I love a trend as much as the next person, but I'm not always so willing to spend much on something that may be a fleeting fancy.

This shirt was a no has nice lines, some interesting details, lovely drape, and it was big enough for me to play around with the shape.  I simply took in the sides, with just a big of shaping, and took in the width of the sleeve.

So, I wore it belted for work,  creating an outfit with that very current "block of color" to wear with a black ponte skirt that I made,

And as casual  over-sized  shirt  to wear with jeans and flats for running errands after dinner!

All for about $1.50 and 30 minutes of my time!

My blog friend Elizabeth commented on my last post, mentioning me finding time for blog reading ( I think she actually missed me commenting on her blog...ahem!), and I have to confess, I am terribly behind...I will have to add Blog Reading to my list of things to do!

And my sister Karen asked about the size of the Little Red Lunch measures 13" x 7 1/2" x 5". So make one, Karen, and go have a picnic someplace special!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

There IS Enough Time in a Day!

A recent comment reads:

"I'm amazed at all you get done, not just in those areas, but in life in general. How do you do it? I'm guessing you watch almost no television at all. Judy from Alameda, CA"

Let me preface what I'm about to say by reminding you that I am an Empty Nester. Which, by the way, makes all the difference in the world. Trust me, I well remember what it was like to have with children takes up a lot of time! 

And my favorite organizational tool these days is the ColorNote app. on my phone. When I think of something, I write it down. If I have a brilliant idea, or need to remember to get cheese at the grocery store, I write it down. 


Somehow, I do find a way to get some quiet time, take a walk, spend time with JR working on house and garden projects, and talking to my kids almost every day...that's a given. Every weekend, we are able to get together with friends, and go to church ( unless we are camping!). I do a lot on my lunch hour...errands, grocery shopping, thrifting. It's amazing how much I can get done in five hours during my work workdays, and of course, that means I don't have to do those things on the weekends, so we can squeeze in a get-away or the very least, a nap. 

As far as sewing, knitting or home dec projects go, I keep a journal, with an organized list, and I attack it with method and madness.        

   When I get an idea, I'm foucsed. Very focused. My husband plays ball on Tuesdays, so that tends to be some uninterrupted project time for me...and remember, sewing takes less time than shopping for clothes, and thrifting takes even less time than sewing!

   I keep up with the laundry during the week.
There's a place for everything and everything has it's place.
I'm more concerned about spending time doing the things I like to do than being obsessive about cleaning....if it doesn't get done one week, oh, well. I use small blocks of time to accomplish big cleaning the bathroom. Or decorating the front porch. Or cleaning out a closet.   

I'm in bed by 10:30 and awake at 5:45. Some nights we eat sandwiches, and that's okay. If I miss baking bread for the week, that's okay, too.   

   Certainly, a busy life comes with sacrifices. There ate things I think I should take more time to do: like reading more books like I used to, or seeing more of my family. Or planning a party. Or doing more to serve others. 

And as I shift and change and rearrange my priorities, I will always try to be more conscious of how I can better use my time.      

What about you, girlfriends?  Do you have any tips for wise time management?