Thursday, March 31, 2011

Summer Shoes

I need it to hurry up and be summer again so I can wear my new shoes.  They're white canvas with blue lobsters printed all over them.  I can't even tell you how excited I am to sport these bad boys around town.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Weekend Sewing: Pennant Flags

I am apparently a crazy person.  For some reason I thought it would be no big deal to make a bajillion pennant flags (double sided) for a new quilt, which I started on Saturday.  The base of the quilt was easy enough and took me a reasonable amount of time, but now I'm dealing with my brilliant idea of having strings of 1.5" x 2" flags all over the quilt.

In a fleeting moment of sanity I made the wise decision to use fusible to sandwich two pieces of fabric together, so there will be no clipping and inverting of these flags - they're finished with an unfinished edge.

It looks great, but now I have to figure out the best way to attach them all.  I have a feeling this will be extremely tedious, no matter what route I take.  I'll show you a picture of the finished product once I give it to the person for whom it is intended.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Favorite Things

I thought you might like to know a little about me.  The best way to get to know someone is by knowing what she likes the most.  Most people who know me in person would describe me as a very sensual person - not sensual in that I like to listen to Barry White in a silk robe, but sensual in that my sensory experiences, especially sound, taste, and smell, are more intense than the average bear.  A sudden loud noise makes me angry, but a good smell will send me into joyful arias on the spot.

Everyone knows I love food and I love to cook, so I've left out things having to do with food on this one, because that is a given.  Here are a few things you may not know about me:

1. Wiretap: the greatest radio show of all time.  Jonathan Goldstein has my sense of humor.
2. sassy red shoes - I'm an equal opportunity red shoe enthusiast.  I'm not saying I own tons of red shoes, I just love seeing them around down.  It doesn't have to be a stiletto, but I do own those very shoes and I love them dearly.
3. chubby babies - especially giggling ones
4. sailing on a sunny day - When I was 11 my best friend Michela and I were out on the family sailboat cruising around Lake Washington one summer afternoon, and I remember thinking I hope I remember for the rest of my life how happy and content I am at this moment.  Guess what...
5. paintings by Chuck Close - he's absolutely amazing.  Please do a google image search on him sometime.
6. ceramics with white outsides and colored insides - it's like a colorful surprise inside!
7. sparkling wine - goes with everything, makes anything feel like a special occasion
8. rainbow layer cakes with white frosting - the joy I feel in my heart when I see a rainbow layer cake is indescribable.  It must have white frosting.  I think this goes back to my childhood and my deep love of Rainbow Brite.
9. New England style homes with unpainted shingle siding, white trim, a flag hanging by the door, and hydrangeas out front - need I say more?
10. a nice pair of straight leg levis - this also needs no further explanation
11. sheath dresses - most comfortable, low-maintenance way to look sophisticated
12. barber shop quartets - tight harmonies give me the chills... in a good way
13. flowering daphne plant - they may be my favorite smell of all time; if I happen upon a daphne plant on a walk, I will stop dead in my tracks and just enjoy the moment
14. navy and white striped shirts - and all nautical inspired clothing
15. the smell of freshly mowed grass on a sunny day - just one whiff makes me feel as though the weight of the world has been lifted off me.  It's an instant vacation.

What are some of your favorite things?

Monday, March 14, 2011

What I'm Wearing - Hazy Shades of Winter

I'm doing my best to take this god-awful depressing gloom of winter weather in Seattle and make it work for me... fashion-wise, that is.  We in Seattle love our grays and blacks.  Everything is a neutral shade of something.  You may call it boring - we call it sophisticated.  The grayer your palette, the more sophisticated people assume you are.

Today I am meeting up with a couple of friends for drinks in the bar of a high-end restaurant downtown frequented by rich mucky-mucks, so when I got dressed this morning I wanted make sure I chose something that would make me look nice enough to fit in, but still a little playful.

I decided on tailored gray slacks and built from there, adding the patent leather shoes and belt to keep my outfit from getting too conservative.  Nothing worse than being the least sexy woman at the bar.  I don't have to be the sexiest, but I hate coming in last.

Indian Cooking

Saturday I wrote about my Bollywood dancing experience that inspired an Indian meal that evening.  I promised you the recipe, and I deliver.  It was taken from the last issue of Food & Wine magazine and adapted just ever so slightly.  Get all the recipe details from my other blog, Lookin' Good Sister.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Bollywood Dance

For a while now I've been wanting to learn Bollywood dance. When I got back from Hawaii in January, I got in touch with a local woman who does dance instruction on evenings and weekends and set something up. Today my friend Lauren and I went to our very first lesson, which took place in her home studio. We had a total blast. For an hour we learned basic moves, which require more coordination than I imagined, and then put it together in a set of four moves.

One interesting thing I learned is Bollywood dance moves are descriptive of the lyrics, so if the song says something about women, there are specific feminine moves that illustrate that word. It's sort of like sign language with a beat.

The thing I love the most? It's all about the hips.

I was so inspired by the dance session today that I came home this afternoon, turned Pandora to the Contemporary Bollywood station (sorry, Andrew - you are a wonderful man for letting me explore my passions), and made a delicious Indian-inspired dinner: chick peas in a spicy fragrant tomato gravy served with yogurt and naan. It was unbelievable. All my vegetarian friends need to know about this dish. I'll post the recipe in a few days.

Anyone else have any experience with Bollywood dance? Do you love it as much as I do??

Friday, March 11, 2011

Inspired Fashion

Last weekend I spent some time with Abby as moral support in her project of cleaning out her closet of her uninspired items, a few of which she passed on to me to see if I could make them work.  If so, great; if not, no biggie.

With a bag full of new-to-me clothes, I had a great idea - what if I could take these pieces and mix them in, one at a time, into outfits that make a statement?  Sort of a "turn that frown upside down" project.

Inspiration: a dandy.  I wanted to work in those shoes I have.
Piece: brown v-neck sweater
I've been looking for a way to make the new houndstooth spectator stiletto booties work.  Still not convinced this was a winner of an outfit, mostly because the teal lace cami seems wrong in retrospect.

Inspiration: 1940s feminine
Piece: black cropped cardigan sweater
I absolutely loved this outfit.  The neck and skirt lines were conservative, but not frumpy, and the black patent leather of my shoes and belt took the look up a notch.

Inspiration: Equestrian chic, a la Ralph Lauren
Piece: blue and white striped menswear shirt
This was a fun one too.  I have been waiting for the right shirt to make these cropped pants and boot combo look both casual and polished.  The one drawback was my gray cropped pants are now comically too large for me, but I made it work anyway.

Inspiration: 1950s secretary
Piece: orchid cropped cardigan sweater
I also loved this outfit.  I pulled out my gray wool pinstriped skirt and white ruffle-collared shirt to make this a feminine and sexy, yet still office-appropriate look.  I went to a party straight from work that evening and this outfit transitioned just great.

Inspiration: June Carter Cash
Piece: chevron summer frock
This is a great dress, and makes me long for summer.  I'm making it (early) spring appropriate with a white sweater shrug and tall boots, which give it a subtle western look.  The studded leather belt I added ties in with the leather boots and round out the look without making it look too costumey.

Do you think this project was a success?  Which one was your favorite?  What would you change?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

More Sewing - Sunshine Mortar

I worked a little bit more on my bricks and mortar blocks.  This time I used a bright sunny yellow.  I love doing these intricate blocks two at a time.  Right at the time I am ready for a break, all I have to do is put the borders on and then I can leave it alone for a while.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday Morning Serenade - Jamie Cullum

Let's pull one out of my archives. Yes. I like this better than the orig, don't you?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Weekend Sewing: Bricks and Mortar

A couple weeks ago PB gave me two bags of gray and black fabrics to play around with.  I knew instantly that I wanted to pop it by adding in some obnoxiously bright fabric. This is what I sewed over the weekend.  And I'll tell you something: you ain't seen nothin' yet.  My wonderfully patient fiance has let me take over the dining table for this endeavor.  I am giddy over this project for the simple reason that I would never typically choose any of these fabrics, including the bright ones, to work into a quilt and yet here I am.  Feels good to break free from myself a little bit.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tell Me Somethin' Good

I have had a rough week so far, and it stems from my inability to say no.  My weekend was nonstop and my evenings have been scheduled to the point where I'm trying to get daily chores in before I head to work, arriving late to the irritation of my boss, and still falling behind on everything I need to do to keep life running smoothly.  When my days are 7am to 10pm and the laundry hours in my building are 8am to 9pm, it's no wonder I've got a laundry crisis of overwhelming proportions happening in my bedroom this very moment.  I've been raiding the freezer for a week and baking "quick" breads in the morning because I haven't been to the store.  

It really stresses me out, and while I'm militantly protecting my workout time like a bulldog at a junkyard, I still feel out of control of the rest of my daily life.  This puts a giant weight on my chest, as though the breath is being squeezed out of me.  I don't like having this negative attitude, and in my role at work where I am constantly interfacing with vendors, clients, consultants, and staff, it is imperative that I suppress my desire to grumble at everyone who seems to get in my way and instead put on a happy face. So I'm coping.

For this, I turn to music.  I learned as a choirgirl that even when I was in a terrible mood and stressed about this, that, and the other thing, going to choir practice and just singing made me feel a whole lot better.  I can't be in a bad mood when I sing - it's physically impossible for me.  However, singing isn't necessarily appropriate when, say, I'm at the gym, or sitting at my desk in our very resonant office.  Because of this, I have a similar outlet: dance - also not office appropriate.  Even when I can't dance, though, I imagine dancing and this seems to work.

I learned this coping technique when I was on the treadmill, believe it or not.  It was mile 5 of a 7-mile run and even though I had my ipod cranked, it was grueling.  Then a song came on, and I found myself envisioning choreographing a dance to the song.  I became so engrossed in this imagined dance, I stopped paying attention to how tired I was and the way my shoe was rubbing on my arch.  I tried this with the next song that came on.  It was like magic!

Today, I'm employing the "fantasy choreography" method to my day.  My co-worker Carol lent me her We Got The Funk cd for the day, and I am currently imagining a spirited dance to "Let It Whip."  It's helping.  Rather than grumbling through the afternoon, I am grooving and shaking to the lyrics: Whip it baby; whip it right; whip it baby; whip it all night!  You should see the dance I've dreamed up.  On second thought, I'll keep it to myself.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

St Patty's Exclusive Edition: Irish Car Bomb Cake

graphic by Abby Taylor

This is a shameless plug for Abby's Hot Buns Bakery.  For those of you who live in Seattle, listen up!

My beautiful and talented bakeress friend Abby needs to make an out of state trip that she cannot afford, and because I love her and stand behind her talents, I am spreading the word about this fund-raiser.

For the month of March in honor of St Patrick's day, Abby is making a special edition flavor at her bakery: Irish Car Bomb: chocolate guinness cake layers with Bailey's buttercream frosting.  It's decadent and delicious, and perfect for your event.

Details:  $40 for a double-layer 8" round cake, which serves 20.  Visit her website (shown on the graphic and linked in this post) for details on how to order.

Ten cakes sold would get her to her destination, and she needs your help!

Sewing Update: Geisha Block 2

I was able to snap a quick picture of my second block on the Geisha quilt I started over the weekend.  I think the ginkgo s-curve I added in the middle of the block really gives it that interest that the first block didn't have.  Also, my corners line up perfectly, which makes me really happy.  Isn't this gorgeous fabric?  It's hard to tell from this photo, but there are metallic gold details in each of the fabrics except the yellow characters print and ginkgo leaves print.  Very elegant.  Can't wait to show you how it evolves!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tuesday Morning Serenade

Let's start March of with a bang, shall we? Nikka Costa, you're rockin' my world with this song. I love her attitude and fire as she belts out "Get offa my sunshine!" I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to say this to someone who was telling my I can't do something. I know you ladies out there have felt this way too. This one's for us.