Monday, June 30, 2008

One down, one to go!

So Ems is really done with school. That's one. Bird is scheduled to graduate Duquesne on Dec. 19. That's one to go. The Graham Webb ceremony was not your typical one. First of all, Graham Webb Academy is not simply "hair school." They focus on the complete package. Most of their students go on to work for PR groups, magazines and high end salons. The first part of the evening was the runway show. The theme this year was fantasy brides. The contestants were to select a bridal theme or a country and they were to present two models--one sophisticate and one avant garde. The contestants and their models arrived at Graham Webb around 7 a.m. and spent the day doing the hair and makeup. Judging took place throughout the day. The stage was set up with models on each side as props. They were dressed in suits and goth type dresses and stuck statue type poses as each model walked out. There was no narration--just music and models. It was tough to get good shots as a lot of them blurred but here are some photos from the show:

Some of them were really creative! There was one that was an urban jungle theme with ivy and leaves. One was an underwater theme. One was Sex and the City with Carrie and Samantha brides. There was a Transylvania one that was all black and red. Ems' theme was the UK. Nicole was the sophisticate bride as an English Punk Rocker Bride. Bryn was the avante garde bride as the Medieval Bride. Here are the photos of them:

Here's Ems with Bryn:

I'm sorry I didn't get a better shot of Bryn's hair. It had rolls on the front and big roll in the back with a pink braid across the crown. There was pink on the side of the front rolls. It was really quite spectacular. Ems does really elegant updos!

Here's Ems getting her diploma:

We ended the evening with our family--Me, DH, Ems and Bird --going to the Cheesecake Factory in Arlington. It's been a while since we've gone out as just us four!

I did finish Em's dress the night before, but when she tried it on, we discovered that it really needs a crinoline to make the skirt stand out. So she is saving it for another occasion. Here's a shot of the finished dress:

I'm glad to be finished with all the gathering. Both Ems' dress and the costume just had yards and yards of fabric to be gathered and I must admit that gathering is not one of my favorite things. This week, the projects are kitchen curtain, hanging the new dining room shades and making the curtains and cleaning out the pantry. I guess I better get crackin'!

Bushism of the day:
"We look forward to hearing your vision, so we can more better do our job. That's what I'm telling you." --George W. Bush, Gulfport, Miss., Sept. 20, 2005

Kitty cam: Samantha never fails to find the sunniest spot in the house!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Weekend update!

This is a quickie! I spent yesterday sewing into the wee hours of this morning! I guess you could say that I was on a roll. The fashion show piece was pretty clear cut in terms of what I had to do. The trickiest part was designing the collar which had to have a certain type of construction to make it stand up. Fortunately my many years of design experience kicked in and I was able to get the collar piece done from design to completion in about an hour and a half! One thing that made this task easier for me was this:

DH gave me the little 8 inch flat screen TV/DVD player for Christmas in 2006! For some reason I had never taken it out of the box. I can't use it for TV yet because I have to run the cable line into the sewing room. I decided to use it for the DVD feature so I pulled out my Sex and the City DVD's. I've made it through all of season 1 and half of season 2. I will pick up at that point and probably make it through half of season 3 working on Ems' dress today. I'm one of those people who needs background noise or music in order to concentrate. I love how all the experts tell parents to provide a quiet place for their kids to study. That would have been death for me. My kids were the same way. I need the TV on when I read in bed as it makes me focus on my book.. Go figure.

Anyway, let me present the Medieval Bride to you:

We had to keep it on the cheap so it is constructed out of JoAnn Fabrics Casa Collection. I'm not big on polyester, but the $60 a yard stuff I use for my gowns wasn't happening here, that's for sure. The lavender fabric has little sparkles on it which don't show up in the photos. It took 6 yards of each color and about 7 yards of boning. There is the white skirt, lavender overskirt, corset and removable collar. It is worn over a hoop slip that was part of a Civil War era reenactment outfit. I'm pleased with the way it turned out. I'll try to take photos at the fashion show!

On to the next sewing task!

Bushism of the day:
"I can only speak to myself." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., April 28, 2005

Kitty cam: As you can see, all the members of our family prefer the Washington Post!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I have never seen . . .

so much fabric! I started the "outfit" for Ems' fashion show at Graham Web. They are doing fantasy brides. This one is a medieval type of design with a huge white skirt which will have lavender overdrapes. Then there will be a boned corset with a halter strap which has a huge stand up collar. The skirt took 6 yards of 60 inch wide fabric. I thought it would take forever to cut out the rather large pieces until I remembered that I had these:

I bought these in 2002 before I had surgery on my right hand as it was just too painful to cut things out with regular shears. They are fabulous for cutting large pieces in particular but they are a little tricky for things with intricate shapes. I stacked the fabric 4 layers thick and let 'er rip! One problem is that the battery isn't holding the charge too well so I had to use the cord which was a little bit of a pain. I checked into a replacement battery but they cost $30.n Upon further investigation, I found that Black & Decker now makes rechargeable shears and they cost $19! They make a model with a fabric blade so I'm going to Target to check them out. They are such a time saver! Here is the basic skirt with a hoop slip underneath modeled by Sophia's sister, Racquel:

Today I am making the overskirt and corset. Tomorrow it is the collar and cutting out Ems' dress. Here is her photo of the other outfit in progress:

This is being modeled by Nicole who will be in the fashion show. She will be the punk rock bride. There is still more work to be done on this. Ems has to do all the hair and make up. She will be cutting Nicole's hair and doing some streaks. The other model will have some sort of updo.

I swatched for Sea Urchin:

I like that the pattern gives instructions for swatching in the stitch pattern used for the top. If the swatch measures 10 X 4 inches when finished then you have gauge. That makes so much more sense to me than gauging to stockinette when the design uses another stitch pattern. I had forgotten, however, that I really dislike knitting with fingering weight yarn! This stitch pattern goes so quickly though that I think I can finish the top in short order. Plus the yarn is lovely. It is Lyndon Hill by Bristol Yarn Gallery and it is 85% pima cotton/15% silk. The swatch is incredibly soft!

My Stitch n Bitch group is having a Finish it or Frog it night on Friday. This is a night devoted to working on those hibernating projects that take forever to finish. My problem is that my hibernating projects have intricate stitch patterns that I can't concentrate on when I'm in a social situation! So I may just go and work on current stuff! We'll see. It will depend on how far along I am with the fashion show stuff!

On the political front--I see that the US Supreme Court just struck down DC's handgun ban. What could they possibly be thinking?

That's it for now! Sorry there isn't anything more exciting going on!

Bushism of the day:
"I want to appreciate those of you who wear our nation's uniform for your sacrifice." --George W. Bush, Jacksonville, Fla., Jan. 14, 2005

Kitty cam: This is how Greg (the big 20 pound moose) spent his day while I was working:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Secret Pal 12 Question #3

What do you consider to be the perfect amount of stash?

I would say the perfect amount of stash depends largely on the space one has to store it in! I have a designated sewing/fiber room with a lot of containers of yarn. It falls within "perfect" range because it hasn't migrated to other rooms in the house. To be more specific, I think a perfect stash should contain yarn in different weights and fiber so that you can pick up a new pattern and find something in your stash to make it with. I don't buy stash yarns per se. I buy yarn to go with a specific pattern. Granted I have more yarn/pattern combinations then I will ever knit in my lifetime! I did venture to buy 10 skeins of a discontinued yarn for no specific pattern once. I found the perfect pattern for it so it is now matched up to a pattern. The only yarn I will occasionally buy with no pattern in mind is sock or baby yarn.

By the way--SP hostesses--that link got me into trouble! I ended up buying a pattern from that person! That is my weakness!

Cats! What would you expect?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Isn't it amazing . . .

what one can do with a little grape Koolaid and vinegar? Remember that issue of pooling with my Handmaiden yarn? I knew that there was really no way to fix it as the entire skein was just too blue--other than frogging the entire sweater and alternating that skein every few rows through out the piece. No could do! So I knit a swatch, mixed up a small batch of grape Koolaid with vinegar and put it in a fine tipped squirty bottle! Then I did some dye painting on the blue patches. It made a huge difference! So now I can present my first knit finished object since my hand surgery.

This is Fete! C'est magnifique, no?
Here are the details:
Pattern: Fete by Amy Polcyn
Yarn: Handmaiden Double Sea in Periwinkle (3 skeins), Handmaiden Sea Silk in Ebony (small part of one skein)
Needles: Addi tubos, size 5, 32 inch
Ribbon: Artemis silk satin hand dyed ribbon, 1 inch wide in French Roast
Modifications: The smallest size was size 36 so I had to do major math to modify the pattern to measure 32 inches at the bust. It fits well, but I didn't make the length shorter so the armholes are a little too deep. I may just steek the shoulders and sew a shoulder seam to bring them up. I haven't decided yet.

Tomorrow will spent sewing. I took a little sewing diversion yesterday and made this little 8 inch pillow:

I needed something for Little Miss Dolly Girl to sit on. This is one of the antique reproduction dolls that I made many years ago. She is a reproduction of a French AT doll. The head mold was made off an original and I had to clean the porcelain greenware, fire it, then do the china painting on the face. After it is fired again, glass eyes are set in then the skull cap is applied followed by the wig. The hardest thing is painting the face to match the original doll. I'm not so sure my hand is steady enough these days to do that. I made quite a few dolls back in the day. I've packed them away for now. I made two that looked like my kids in their Easter clothes one year. Ems was about 4 and Bird was almost 2. Those are particularly special. This little dolly is sitting around in her undies. One of these days I will make a fancy French frock out of silk, but since it is summer, she can sit around in her slip!

Tomorrow I will make some project bags and work on Ems' project for the fashion show. I did start working on Labyrinth and I also want to start Sea Urchin. My yarn came from Webs today. Talk about quick! I just ordered it on Friday! I got a new yarn by Bristol Yarn Gallery called Lyndon Hill. It is fingering weight 85% pima cotton , 15% silk. It is quite lovely. This is for Sea Urchin which is pictured right below the yarn!

I also got 3 skeins of cotton fleece for the Ribs and Lace tank from the Sprink 07 IK which is my favorite issue of all time!

Ems and KC are in Rhode Island for his orientation and she's been spending the day looking for apartments. I went to their apartment to give Cosmo some love. He's very needy and hates to be left alone so he was very happy to see me. Other than that, I spent most of the day making phone calls. That is the one drawback to my job. When I am in school, I cannot make certain types of phone calls because of being placed on hold for long periods of time. I have even had to take a day off every now and then just for that purpose!

Here is another favorite summer recipe.

Ramen Noodle Salad


1 pkg. Broccoli Slaw (usually 12 oz.)
3 green onions, sliced
2 pkg. Oriental Flavor Ramen noodles
2 Tbl. toasted Sesame seeds
1 - 1 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
1/2 c. canola oil
1/4 c. white wine vinegar
1/2 c. sugar

Rinse and drain the broccoli slaw. Combine slaw, onion, almonds and sesame seeds in a bowl. Break up the noodles and add to slaw mixture. For dressing, combine oil, vinegar, sugar and two spice packets from ramen noodles in a jar or container and shake to blend. Pour dressing over slaw and mix well. Refrigerate until serving time. Stir before serving as dressing sinks to bottom.

This is really good stuff! I suppose one could add chicken to it. I have a great recipe for Oriental Chicken Salad which is almost identical to the one at Cheesecake Factory. Maybe I'll share that some time!

Bushism of the day:
"You work three jobs? Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that." --George W. Bush, to a divorced mother of three, Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 4, 2005

Kitty cam: Mike and Samantha veg out on the dining room table most of the day.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I was pleasantly surprised yesterday to find a package of goodies from my Secret Pal in my mailbox! I've read that some people haven't had good experiences with the secret pal exchanges, but I always seem to hit the jackpot! I've always had incredibly thoughtful pals who seem to know how to spoil me. My new pal really outdid herself! Look at the goodies:
Three skeins of Nature's Palette fingering weight merino--2 in Zinfandel, and 1 in black plus a darling pattern for some Victorian styled fingerless gloves. I really like the pattern because it has separate fingers which I like better than just open mitts (if that makes sense!).

A set of Lantern Moon Sock Stix in size 1! I love Lantern Moon needles! I was really surprised to see these and totally delighted! Plus--two dark chocolate bars! One is ultra dark and the other is dark with cherries. Part of my evening ritual is enjoying a square or two of dark chocolate with my evening latte.

And last, but not least, is a surprise for the kitty clan. Three bathed mice! It is a tin of catnip with little mice hidden in it. I will take one or two out and let the kitties play later on! Perhaps they will get silly enough to film!

Thank you so much, Secret Pal! You are truly going to spoil me and I will love every minute of it!

Bushism of the day:
"I like the idea of people running for office. There's a positive effect when you run for office. Maybe some will run for office and say, vote for me, I look forward to blowing up America. I don't know, I don't know if that will be their platform or not. But it's -- I don't think so. I think people who generally run for office say, vote for me, I'm looking forward to fixing your potholes, or making sure you got bread on the table." --George W. Bush, on elections in the Middle East, Washington, D.C., March 16, 2005

Kitty cam: The tiny tuxedo twins are distracted by something on the deck.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What goes up . . .

must come down!  After a week of record heat, the mercury has been keeping a low profile!  Our days have been in the low to mid 70's and our nights in the 50's!  It has been totally delightful!  I turned off the AC and opened all the windows.  That is definitely an advantage to living in an old house.  Our house was built in the early 1920's and every room has a lot of windows.  It's very easy to get a nice cross breeze and the big old trees keep much of it shaded.  As you can see, several family members really enjoyed the fresh air!

I've been trying to get stuff done around the house since I've been off.  Today I washed window sashes which had a lot of dirt from the screens.  I also hung the curtain rod in the kitchen.  I will make that curtain tomorrow.  

I have a number of sewing projects that I have to do between now and next weekend.  Ems' graduation from Graham Webb is on Sunday June 29 so I am making her a dress using this pattern and fabric:

I like the violet chiffon over the fuschia lining.  It gives it an iridescent look.  I made a muslin of the bodice for Ems to try on when she stopped by today.  I had to do major alterations but it fit. She wants me to open up the neckline a bit because it is somewhat bunchy.  That's the way the design is.  I've redrafted the neckline to show more of a plunge and expose the collar bone area.  I'll take pictures of the finished product.  I had a helper while I was sewing.
Greg has been following me around since I've been off.  He stays close to me no matter what I'm doing!  Rumor has it that he cries constantly when I go away.  Jeremy said he "cried like a little bitch" last year when I went to Boston!  Poor baby!

 I am also doing a lot of the sewing for her fashion show.  The participants are given a challenge.  This year the challenge is international or fantasy brides.  Ems has to come up with a concept, do the costume, make up and hair.  She is doing a British punk rock bride and a medieval sort of thing.  I am doing the sewing for that.  She came up with the design and chose the fabric.  I'll put it together for her.  I will have to take photos at the fashion show.  The entries are always very impressive!

The tooth fairy visited our house last week. This tooth fairy looked something like this:
Mikey's tooth finally fell out!  It had been hanging down, scraping against his chin.
You can see the tooth hanging down.  Then one morning I noticed it wasn't there and I found this on the couch!

So we put the tooth under Mikey's pillow and the tooth fairy left him a couple pouches of tarter control treats. I guess she's hoping that she won't have to visit us anymore!

On the knitting front--I have been working on Fete. I'm almost done with it, but I started my third skein of yarn and was horrified by the pooling of the colors! This yarn is Handmaiden Double Sea Silk. I've never had issues with this yarn before and the skeins have always matched. I had one skein left over from Gizelle so I bought 2 more for this top. I think this third skein is the leftover one. It is much bluer than the other two. Check this out:

That big chunk of blue is on the upper back and will be hidden by my hair most likely.  However I have to finish the upper front and I fear that I will have the same problem, though so far it doesn't seem quite as bad.  There's really not much I can do.  I don't want to spend another $38 for one more skein of yarn.  I think I will finish then knit a swatch.  I'm thinking that I can heavily dilute some purple dye and see what happens if I paint it on the blue part.  I have nothing to lose except the swatch!  I'll finish this in a day or two then I have to get started on Labyrinth.

Here is another summer recipe that we love around here:

Confetti Pasta Salad

1 box tri color Rotini
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup black olives, halved
1/2 cup onion diced
1 container Trader Joe's Perlini (Pea sized fresh mozzarella balls), drained (optional)
1 bottle Kraft Italian salad dressing ( I use fat free)

Cook pasta to al dente. Drain and run under cold water. Drain again. Mix pasta, vegetables, Perlini, and 1/2 bottle of salad dressing. Refrigerate for an hour or so. Mix again and add remaining dressing before serving.

This is good stuff! I make a batch and eat it for lunch the whole week!

Bushism of the day:

"In this job you've got a lot on your plate on a regular basis; you don't have much time to sit around and wander, lonely, in the Oval Office, kind of asking different portraits, 'How do you think my standing will be?'" --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., March 16, 2005

Kitty Cam: Samantha takes some time away from the boys.