Sew Many Bits and Pieces

sugergirl skirtLast month I went through my sewing drawer and bin, trying to figure out what I could get rid of because I have a plethora of fabrics and remnants and clothes that I thought I’d be sewing with and so far haven’t yet. I really can’t keep hanging on to these things if I’m not going to do anything with them. And it’s been far too long since I’ve actually sat down and stitched on a project.

So, while going through things, I found a couple of panels that I could try to sell on eBay and maybe later I could try selling some of the remnants I probably won’t use, but I also came up with two projects I could work on that would use up several bits and pieces and shirts. My dumbass thought I could get both of these things done in a day. In reality, it took me about two and a half weeks, give or take me not paying much attention to days of the week.

supergirl skirt 2I made the skirt from a pair of jeans that lost their life to the curse of friction, an old t-shirt, and the leg of a pair of pajama pants. Probably the easiest thing about this pieces was cutting the legs off of the jeans and ripping the seams out of the shirt and the pants. The actual piecing and sewing (remember, I sew by hand) turned out to be much trickier than I anticipated. In fact, I ended up having to do one of the cheetah print panels twice because I screwed it up the first time and had a weird bulge in it.

The skirt turned out pretty well, I think. It’s light enough to wear in the summer, but long enough to wear in the fall and spring. Versatile. Also pretty damn unique.

handkerchief tankThe other piece I ended up doing is a handkerchief style tank. I sewed together to different ribbed tanks to get the color block effect. I then split the lower tank up the side and added in the plaid panels. Turns out that was the hardest part, trying to get the angles just right. That and all of the sewing because of the angles and the hems I needed to create.

And in the end, it doesn’t work for me. I don’t like the way it looks on me. However, I do think it will look quite fetching on my middle niece who likes this sort of style. She’s shorter and smaller than me (obviously), so I think it will hang better on her than on me. In the end, it won’t go to waste.

So, I’ve made some progress in cleaning out my sewing stuff and got some cute things in the process.

I have to remember that’s how it works when I actually sew.

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Do You Like Podcasts?

Music noteI am by no means an expert in the field of podcasts. Actually, as of right now, I only listen to three.

However, I know what I like and I like these.

I also like to pimp out the things produced by people I’m friendly with.

So this post is like all the birds and a stone.

Made for TV Mayhem– I have some cred here in saying that I actually started listening to this one from the beginning (even though I got busy and missed a couple of episodes and had to play catch up). I also have bonus cred because Amanda and I used to live-tweet Made for Me-TV movies on Friday nights and we were hilarious. I’m sorry you missed it. Back to the podcast. As the name implies, Amanda, Dan, and Nate talk about TV movies. These lovely people are funny, they’re knowledgeable, they gleefully point out how much make-up sex was in A Very Brady Christmas, and their lives have all been affected in some way by Dark Night of the Scarecrow. If you want to either re-live the glory days of TV movies (like those of us of a certain age remember and pine for) or learn about the classic TV flicks from people who can list every TV movie Wes Craven directed and truly appreciate Bad Ronald (while sometimes getting off-topic and talking about Dan’s mullet glory days), this is the podcast you need in your life.

The Strange and Deadly Show– Credit where it’s due: I discovered this podcast because Amanda raved about it and now I owe her some sort of gift of gratitude because I love this podcast. Chris and Tom discuss movies on the Section 3 list, a specific list of the Video Nasties that were no-no’s in England. Many of the movies on this list were probably considered no-no’s not because of the violence, but because they’re straight garbage and it’s in the reviews of those particular flicks that these two shine, though you can tell that they have a real love for film in a pure and unpretentious way. Whether they love it or hate it or are bored to tears by it (seriously, they really do take one for the team watching some of these films), they don’t hold back, each of them bringing their own distinct personalities to the table. I dare you to listen to one episode and not have an urge to listen to them all.

Spotlight: Social Marketing Gone Bad– I have some cred here, too, as Helene and I have been Twitter-friendly for quite a while. I don’t want to say how long, but I’ve been on Twitter since 2007 and she’s one of my oldest mutual follows. Anyway, Jay and Helene’s podcast focuses on social marketing and all of the ways that it can be bad (as the name of the show implies), which sounds boring if you’re not at all into social marketing, but I assure you it is not. Jay and Helene have a gift for sharing their wisdom in a witty and relatable way so even people like me (who doesn’t know shit from Shinola when it comes to social marketing) can benefit. Plus, they’re on top of all the latest social media news. If you want some social media knowledge delivered with some humor and swear words, you want this podcast.

All of the podcasts are on iTunes. If you listen and you like, be sure to leave feedback! Everybody likes to know they’re awesome and these folks have all passed that bar, so don’t be shy about letting them know.

2016 Half-Assed Resolutions

resolutionsI did a great job getting my 2015 half-assed resolutions accomplished. I made Peace. I incorporated a dance party into my evening de-stress routine, so I’ve been having a lot more of them. And I got rid of stuff. Not as much stuff as I wanted to, but I still got rid of many things.

Oh, I also had a good time and didn’t get dead, as usual.

So, now it’s time for me to make my half-assed resolutions for 2016.

 

  1. Don’t get dead.
  2. Have a good time.
  3. Watch more Netflix. I put stuff on my list that I mean to watch and then I never get around to watching it and I really need to be better about that. I have to stop being so behind on my documentaries and I have to be more willing to watch something new and risk not liking it. I can turn it off. That’s allowed.
  4. Clean out my sewing drawer. It’s…it’s…it’s in dire need of cleaning out. That’s all I can say.
  5. Master mermaid pose. This is a yoga pose that I’ve been slowly, very slowly, working on and I think that this is the year I’ll be able to arrange my fat in such away that I don’t tear anything while I do it.

Go team 2016!

peace

Getting the Grinchmas Spirit

Grinchmas 2015

I’ve had a really hard time getting into the Grinchmas spirit this year. I haven’t been particularly inspired when it came to making Grinchmas gifts and I haven’t been very willing to listen to Christmas music. I was even late getting my Grinchmas tree up.

But!

The Grinchmas tree is up. The gifts are made and wrapped and ready to be given. I’ve watched The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and The Nightmare Before Christmas. I’ve heard a few of my favorite Christmas Carols.

I’m ready for my heart to grow three sizes.

Rob Whoville!

2015 Holiday Gift Suggestions

Milwaukee Christmas treeIt’s Black Friday, when folks trample each other to buy price-reduced manufactured goods so they can give them to family and friends to prove just how much they love and appreciate them. As much fun as that is (and as someone who has worked retail off and on for years and got to watch two ladies nearly come to blows over a scooter, I know my good times), not everyone is hip to getting their friends and family the same gift everyone else is giving to their favorite humans.

Well, that’s why I am here. To point you in the direction of some really nifty finds that you won’t find in all of those fliers and on the shelves of your local big box store.

Obviously, you should totally buy all of my books and give them to all of your friends. But if you don’t want people to get suspicious that you’re not putting any thought into your gifts (but you really would be; I’d vouch for you), you should also check out these authors: Shanna Hammaker, Brandon Ford, Jeremy C. Shipp, Shonell Bacon, and Johi Jenkins. Horror, memoir, mystery, fantasy, paranormal romance, young adult…you’re bound to find something for someone or many somethings for many someones.

If you know an aspiring writer (or anyone that uses a writing instrument, really), perhaps check out Roweville Retro and get them a one-of-kind pen, pencil, or stylus. You can even get a custom made creation. Get them that present that other people will be trying to steal from them for years to come.

Speaking of writing, how about encouraging the people you really do like to keep in touch with some spiffy postcards? This is what happens when I keep taking and drawing pictures with no set purpose in mind. I have to find something to do with them and what better use than to remind people that dropping a picture card in the mail and sending it to a friend is still a fun surprise.

But, if you’re looking for better art (and you probably should be), then check out Hannah McFaddon Art. Hannah McFaddon is an amazing artist and now she’s got a whole line of prints available, too. Tea-Rex! Are you kidding me? Absolutely adorable! And guaranteed to be something that a loved one is going to adore and hang proudly on their wall.

So go! Shop! Buy things that people didn’t know they needed and will love to get!

 

**Yes, I am once again promoting my friends and acquaintances (and myself) for the holidays because I like them, I like what they’re doing, and I think they deserve some spotlight. Go team!

By Request: A Few Favorite Vegetarian Dishes

donut dietI mentioned in yesterday’s post that I make some vegetarian dishes and the lovely Hannah asked what my favorite recipes were, so I figured I’d post them for posterity.

Just a few notes about these: A few of them came from the Written in Our Hearts cookbook, which is a great vegetarian/vegan collection of recipes (as well as photos, stories, and memories) published in honor of Davy Jones with the proceeds going to The Davy Jones Equine Memorial Foundation, however I’ve tweaked them due to the demands of the people I cook for and my own need to fuss with things. If you want to see the original, untouched versions of the recipes or if you want even more vegetarian/vegan recipes for your kitchen, I really encourage you to buy the cookbook. Yummy food and a good cause. Everybody wins.

Second, I like to cook because cooking doesn’t require exact measurements. Some of the measurements on these recipes are approximates.

And finally, everything here is easy because I’m lazy. I don’t like intricate, labor-intensive recipes. I’m not that kind of girl.

Veggie Penne

This is my own creation and it’s super easy. Cook a box of penne pasta and drain it. Add a little olive oil. Mix in some steamed veggies (I love the Eat Smart vegetable medley; steam in the bag in the microwave, fresh and tasty), add some shredded Parmesan and you’re done.

Mac and Cheese

People don’t think about mac and cheese being vegetarian because people don’t think about it being healthy, but it’s definitely one of those things that can be less garbage food if you make it yourself instead of getting it out of a box.

I use this mac and cheese recipe to make my cheese sauce. For a traditional flavor, I use finely shredded cheddar jack (I’m not shredding my own, kids). For something with a little more class, I use finely shredded mozzarella and substitute garlic powder for the mustard powder. Stir in a little broccoli along with the pasta and it’s mac and cheese all grown up. It might take a time or two to get the hang of the cheese sauce (it can end up a little gritty if you don’t get it right, but it still tastes fine), but it’s worth it.

Veggie Fritattafrittata

This is my take on Micky’s Veggie Fritatta in the Written in Our Hearts cookbook.

2T olive oil–2 small potatoes, diced–1/4 cup chopped onion–1/2 cup red pepper, chopped–1/2 cup diced tomato–1/2 cup diced zucchini–6 eggs–2T of milk–1/2 cup shredded mozzarella–1/2 cup shredded triple cheddar–basil–salt

Preheat the oven to 350. Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add potato, onion, red pepper, and zucchini. Season with a pinch or two of salt. Cook 5-7 minutes. Transfer to non-stick baking pan and stir in the tomatoes. Whisk eggs and milk together; pour evenly over dish. Scatter cheese over the top. Bake 20 to 25 minutes (depending on your oven) until set in the middle. Garnish with a pinch or two of basil.

Sauteed Zucchini

I really love zucchini and the easiest way for me to make it is to slice it up and cook it in a little olive oil over medium heat. Season it with a little salt (I prefer sea salt, but that’s just me) and it makes a great side dish. I like to serve it and brown rice with the next recipe.

Mozzarella Salad Sandwich

Another hit from the cookbook.

1/2lb mozzarella–sun dried tomatoes–rolls–4t white vinegar–1/4 cup olive oil–1/4t salt–1/8t pepper

Cut the cheese into thin slices and put in a bowl. Add the tomatoes to the cheese (julian them if necessary; I buy them that way). Shake vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small jar until salt dissolves. Add olive oil. Shake again. Add dressing to cheese and tomatoes and toss. Fill rolls with the cheese salad. The longer it sits, the better it is.

Rotini Salad

This is actually Tortellini Salad in the cookbook, but when I first made it, there was no tortellini on the shelf and I bought rotini instead. And I use sweet onion as that much raw yellow onion kills my GERD. I also downsized most of the measurements here because otherwise it was way too much. Still good, though.

1 box tri-color rotini–4-6 oz of monterey jack cheese, diced small–1 large tomato, chopped–1/4 of an onion, chopped–1/4 red pepper, chopped–1T olive oil–parsley, garlic powder, basil, oregano to taste

Cook and cool pasta. Toss everything together. Chill thoroughly before serving. If you need a place to start with the seasonings, I probably use about a tablespoon of garlic powder and oregano, and half a tablespoon of parsley and basil. Remember, though, it’s easier to add seasoning than to take it out.

veggie scrambleVeggie Scramble

This is my new favorite lunch option after we’ve had rotini salad. It seems like when the rotini is gone, there’s still bits of onions, peppers, and tomatoes left over and I don’t want it to go to waste. So I throw a peeled, chopped small potato in a pan over medium heat with some olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Cook it for a couple of minutes, then add the onions, peppers, and tomatoes (with all of the salad seasoning still stuck on them, no additional seasoning required). Cook that for five or six minutes. Then I beat two or three eggs with a splash of milk, pour it over the top, and let it cook for a minute or two before giving the whole pan a good scramble. With an English muffin, it’s breakfast for lunch and I couldn’t be happier.

I Had a Weekend

Cubs Con haul 2015And really, that’s the best way to say it. This past weekend was just so bizarrely jinxed that it was both frustrating and great at the same time.

The main event of my weekend was Cubs Con 2015, which was to begin Friday evening and conclude at noon on Sunday. As such, I booked my hotel room at the con hotel for Friday and Saturday night and booked my train tickets for Friday morning and Sunday afternoon.

Friday morning I awoke to an email at 5 AM because I was a chump and forgot to mute my phone before going to bed. Before hitting the mute button, I saw the email is from Amtrak concerning my train. Glorious. I’ll deal with this when I decide to be awake.  When that time came, I saw that I also missed a call from Amtrak around 6 AM (I’m glad I muted my phone at 5). Both of these things pertain to the fact that the train is late and I may want to consider other options.

This all makes me cranky, but once I drink some coffee and see how late the train is running, I find my center. So I get to stay home an extra hour. Time for a second cup of coffee. No big deal.

Long story short, the train ended up being over two hours late (we left about the same time we should have been arriving in Chicago), it was delayed twice on the tracks (once for at least half an hour while we waited for another train to pass us), and I finally get to Union Station after 5 o’clock, where my favorite Cubs friend Harry is waiting. We took a cab over to the hotel, got me all checked in, ditched our stuff in my room, rode down in the elevator with a guy that said he was Jorge Soler’s agent, and only missed the first few minutes of the opening ceremonies of the con.

After participating in the autograph hunt (we got C.J. Edwards, who is a nice young man), we went upstairs to grab our coats and ended up riding back down in the elevator with Kyle Hendricks and his lady. They are also nice  young people.

We went to dinner at Big Bowl, which is one our favorites, and thus began our interesting service experiences. This time we had to request proper silverware and napkins, which of course is no big deal. We didn’t realize it would be a sign of things to come.

After dinner, we met up with some of the Cubs fans of Twitter, which was a good time. I got to meet some new folks that I didn’t follow and put the faces to the names of some that I did. Once the initial awkwardness is out of the way, everything just rolls, ya know.

The next day, Harry and I got autographs: Justin Grimm, Edwin Jackson, Ryan Sweeney, and the illustrious Jim Deshaies. All very nice people. I told Ryan Sweeney no injuries this year.

We took a break for lunch and ended up eating at the bistro in the hotel. The food was good, but the service was awful. Our waiter couldn’t have openly despised us more. It took him forever to bring Harry a simple glass of water and when he brought him mayonnaise, it was one of the little jars you get if you order room service and it had already been used. Like, there was a glob of ketchup in it. And the waiter was really unimpressed when Harry asked him for a new, unused one. Needless to say, that guy didn’t get much of a tip.

Mystery Ball 2015While getting our afternoon autographs, Harry was in need of a second wind in the form of coffee. The line at the coffee place in the hotel was crazy, so we ended up going back later. When Harry finally did get his coffee, there was no half and half and he had to wait to get more. At this point it was becoming clear that liquids would not come easily to my friend.

However, Harry did get to ride in the elevator with Addison Russell and C.J. Edwards, so his elevator luck was way better than mine.

We went to dinner that night at Eataly. It was an hour wait, so we went for an appetizer and a drink at the pub they have there. Again Harry asked for a water. Again he had to remind our server to get it for him (but this guy didn’t despise us, he was just really busy). But! When we had dinner, Harry had no drink trouble. So that was a nice surprise.

Sunday, I was on my own. I went down to the con, bought a cube for the mystery ball I’d gotten the afternoon before (I ended up getting James Russell, of course) and bought some Cubs socks as well. Then I prepared to leave.

I should have known that I was in for it when my cab driver managed to hit most of the red lights. But I was optimistic. The trains leaving Chicago are more likely to leave on-time. It’d be fine. I had a nice lunch at Union Station and then I went down to the waiting area.

My train was scheduled to leave at 1:45. At 1:15 it was announced that it was delayed because they had to repair something and it could be forty-five minutes to an hour.

Pigeons WaitingAnd I laughed a madman’s laugh.

Luckily for me, a couple of pigeons had gotten into the waiting area and when they weren’t waddling about, looking for food, they were buzzing people’s heads as they flew around, so I was at least entertained.

After three other trains scheduled after mine had left and they announced they were waiting on the conductor because he had apparently wandered off for coffee and a smoke and we stood waiting to board because they announced that we were boarding, but took it back, we finally got on the train. And then the train started to move!

And then the train stopped in the yard while they fixed something else.

To make a long story short (too late), three crying babies, a guy with a Budweiser wondering out loud if he could find his seat, and many atrocious cell phone ringtones later, we arrived at the station, a good two and a half hours after we should have.

One car ride later, I arrived home with my convention swag and this tale.