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.

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.

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.

2015 Resolutions

resolutionsYes, I am once again making my half-serious resolutions just to see what happens. The first two are gimmes as I always make them and I always keep them (well, so far, anyway). The last three are within the realm of possibility, if I remember that I’ve made them.

Last year I actually did a fantastic job of achieving my resolutions even though I forgot I made two of them. I did take an actual vacation and I did drink more. I didn’t choreograph a full belly dance (again), but I did more freestyle belly dancing to songs, so I’m going to count it.

Okay, my 2015 Resolutions. A drum roll if you please…

1. Don’t get dead.

2. Have a good time.

3. Have more dance parties. Sometimes I just feel compelled to put on some music and dance around my room for a while. It’s stress relief and it’s exercise and it’s fun and it’s silly and I need to do it more.

4. Get rid of stuff. Like most folks, I have stuff. I have more stuff than I need, want, and use. I need to get rid of some of it. Even if I only get rid of one thing, I’m counting this one good.

5. Make Peace. No, this isn’t a deep, life-changing things. Remember, this is a half-serious list. What I’m talking about is a picture. When I was a senior in high school, I did two mosaic oil pastel drawings. One was Love and the other one is Hope. I never got around to doing Peace. I need to do that. For my hippie gods.

Things I Found While Looking for My Guitar Picks

dresserI am a pack rat by nature and as such I have to go through my life and clear out some of the junk. However, when I do these periodic junk-clearings, I have to make the decision about what to keep and what to throw away. And I have ended up keeping some really weird shit, as I quickly realized while looking for the guitar picks I was sure I had.

Here is a short list of things I have repeatedly decided to keep over the years:

-hair and teeth (both mine)

-confetti from a KISS concert and my senior prom (two separate events)

-coins from various countries as well as some state quarters from select states

-artwork that hung in my locker during my senior year

-artwork that hung on my bedroom walls during my senior year

-four yo-yo’s, five bouncy balls, three marbles, and one jack (toy jack not car jack)

-a Micro-Machine car

-five lighters

-a nut and bolt from my high school graduation

-notes from an old girlfriend, but none of them in the same place

-airline tickets from every plane trip I’ve taken as well as the train tickets and bus tickets from the BCE Chicago trip

-a Hello Kitty plastic ring

-a bat plastic ring

-my Taco Bell name badge as well as a Taco Bell Hot Wheel car, but they were in different places

-more sunglasses than any person should own

-more condoms than any person practicing celibacy should have

-So. Many. Keys.

For the record, the guitar picks were found with the bouncy balls, two of the three marbles, jack, and Taco Bell car because, of course, where else would I keep them?

Holiday Shopping Suggestions

flame box elder penNo, do not fear. This is not a post to try to get you guys to buy my stuff (but, still, buy my stuff *coughcough*).

This is a post to draw your attention to a couple of my friends who make some really fabulous things that you should be aware of. These are perfect items to include on your own holiday wishlist or to purchase for friends or relatives.

Seriously. These are great things that you don’t want to miss out on.

RowevilleRetro. Handmade pens, pencils, styluses (stylii?), and other goodies, made from reclaimed materials. The pen in the picture? All mine, baby. It’s flame box elder and writes beautifully. It’s pretty neat to know that I’ve got a pen so unique. Don’t see one you like? You can custom order one to get exactly the pen/pencil/stylus your heart desires. And for a great price! Don’t forget to like them on Facebook and/or follow them on Twitter to keep up with latest goodies.

Brush Crush. Hannah McFadden is a terrific artist and now you can own one of her lovely pieces (I’m still making up my mind on which one I want; I want them all!). Inks, oils, pastels, acrylic, watercolor, she’s got skills in so many mediums. Check out her website for more pieces and like her on Facebook to keep up with her latest projects.

‘Tis the season for giving and if you’re going to be giving, then give something good. So, give these good people a look see, pass on the URLs, and, ya know, buy something.

 

*Full disclosure: None of the people involved in the two shops asked me to do this. This is all me, baby. I’m promoting them on the blog because I like them, I like their stuff, and I already promote them on my personal Facebook and Twitter. In my opinion, they deserve to have lots of people flocking to them to purchase their merchandise. If this blog post (or repeated sharings/likings/retweetings/favoritings/whatever) can help generate that mob, then it’s the very least I can do.

I Went on a Trip…and Did Very Little

The view from our room.
The view from our room.

Despite the con that was the purpose of our visit being cancelled, roommate extraordinaire Carrie and I ventured to Milwaukee anyway. We had four nights in a nice hotel booked cheap and it seemed a shame to waste them. At the very least, it sounded like a good idea to just get out of the cornfield for a bit.

We didn’t have a concrete plan to do anything. Oh, we had ideas and got even more from the very nice concierge in the hotel. We thought maybe we’d go to the museum or possibly walk a block over and go shopping.

Instead, we did basically nothing. From Thursday at about five o’clock in the evening when we checked in until Monday at around ten o’clock in the morning when we checked out we didn’t even leave the hotel.

And it was glorious!

After spending the day on trains (the first one being late enough that we had to run to make our second one and that was not a great time), we had room service. The next day, Friday, we were totally going to go downstairs to eat in the pub, but instead we got all caught up in a How It’s Made marathon on the Science Channel and ordered in pizza instead. Thus began our food drawer. We stashed the left over pizza and breadsticks in the dresser along with some of the snacks we’d brought along because we are experienced travelers. After that, any extra food went into the drawer for later.

Milwaukee Christmas tree
It’s very pretty for existing before Thanksgiving.

Saturday, after receiving passive-aggressive notes from housekeeping (okay, not really; they slipped a card under our door saying they were honoring our Do Not Disturb sign and if we needed anything to call them), we left the hotel room so they could come in and do a bit of tidying, which was mostly them just making the beds and putting in new towels because the room was so nice we didn’t want to do anything to mar it. We admired the Christmas tree in the lobby (which had been lit for the first time that day in a ceremony that we missed because it’s not Thanksgiving yet and I acknowledge nothing Santa-related before then), Carrie got some Starbucks, and we hung out in the lounge before finally heading to the pub.

At the pub we enjoyed a fish fry and cheese curds (when in Wisconsin!) and I had a fantastic pumpkin ale which was why we ended up going back to the pub again on Sunday. That second visit I got to watch three NFL games while enjoying my ale and onion rings and chicken tenders.

In addition to the pub and watching more of How It’s Made (that show is just fascinating; I never before contemplated unicycle wheel hubs), Sunday was momentous as I had for the first time in my 34 years a Starbucks coffee. I liked it well enough and didn’t die. It was a salted caramel mocha and I wanted to add pretzels to it.

I miss the food drawer.
I miss the food drawer.

Monday, we bid goodbye to our now empty food drawer and our fabulous view and the seemingly endless episodes of How It’s Made (we watched several episodes before leaving that morning, too, as our love had grown so strong), and trained on out of there, making a stop at Union Station for lunch with my amazing friend Harry, before finally arriving home to find the cornfield really friggin’ windy.

I think most people would find our vacation to be incredibly dull and a missed opportunity to see all sorts of Milwaukee things, but to Carrie and I, it was relaxing. For me, it was the equivalent of floating in a warm pool for several hours. Refreshing.

So don’t knock it until you’ve gone someplace else and done nothing.