15 October 2010


Thanks to all of you who have faithfully followed me here on Blogger.  In the latest website update, I decided to move the blog over there, to ByMaggie.com!
One-stop shopping for all your BodiceGoddess needs.

I've moved all of my entries and all of your comments to the new site, and will start blogging from there from now on!
If you're using an RSS feed like Google Reader, the new feed URL is: http://www.bymaggie.com/?feed=rss2

Sorry for the abrupt change, folks!  I'm still super-excited for the Etsy shop re-opening on November 2nd, so keep an eye out for that, too!  More sneak peeks and updates to come over at ByMaggie.com and on my Facebook page.

04 October 2010

Etsy Sneak Preview #1

Vintage wallpaper, salvaged from the attic of a 100 year old house.

Scrapbookers, take heed!

Borrowed from Apartment Therapy

Yeah, that's right, another post on Apartment Therapy got me thinking, and I felt I could write more than a comment on their site. Adrienne Brieux posed the question, "If you were interviewed for a magazine and asked to give your top 10 home and personal items you can’t live without, what would they be? And most importantly, are all the items on your list currently in your home? If not, why?"

So here goes. My answer in an incredibly large nutshell.

1) My bedroom set, which used to belong to my grandparents.
I didn't know it when I got it, but apparently, mid-century furniture is super-cool and trendy now.  I just liked having a headboard that has the slidey-doors and ample shelving.  I also appreciate the lingerie drawers in my big dresser, and the fact that I have a matching mirror atop my short dresser.  Not to mention the fact that it belonged to my grandparents, who were super-cool in their own right as well.

2) My tiny pot.
I got it at a Cub Foods in college, when all I wanted to do was be able to heat up a can of soup.  Soup's much better when heated over the stove, and this pot is the perfect size for the heating (and eating) of a whole can.  It continues to serve me well.

3) My yellow scarf.
I went on a trip to Utila, Honduras, at the beginning of last year, and when I wasn't in a wetsuit SCUBA diving or drying off, and the sun was still up?  Chances are I was wrapped in my yellow scarf with a swim suit underneath.  I got it on the first day of the trip, wore it every day, and treasure it.  Also, it has fishes on it, and you can't tell unless it's unfurled.  That's fun, too.

4) My laptop, PJ.
Yeah, lame, I know, but I like having a computer.  PJ's my only computer.  It's also an entertainment laptop, and can run just the DVD player and the screen without starting up.  That's certainly handy for trips.  I've gotten in to the habit of watching documentaries on Hulu before bed, and I enjoy it too much to not want to always have PJ around.

5) My brown chair.
It's worn around the edges.  The cushion could use a restuff.  It squeaks whenever you sit down.  But I've had it forever, and there's no where else I'd rather curl up and read a book.  Some of my earliest memories happened around this chair (and its mate, broken in my parents' garage), and I can't imagine a home without it.

6) Oscar the Grouch.
Honestly, Oscar was the first thing I thought of when I read the question.  I have a plastic Oscar the Grouch figure (complete with trash can) that my grandmother always kept by her front door.  Oscar was her favorite, and it was always nice seeing him keeping guard of her house.  Now, in her absence, he guards mine.

7) My steamer trunk.
It's not living with me yet, and instead stays at my parent's house until I can fix it up (it's dirty and stinky on the inside... and I know I can change that.).  I have always wanted to have a steamer trunk of my own, ever since growing up with one at my parent's house.  They're beautiful.

8) My cast iron.
I can't imagine ever having a kitchen without cast iron ever, ever again.  It's a simple set of 3 seasoned pans - 1 large one, perfect for a family helping of yams with marshmallows; 1 medium, perfect for a single-serving chicken breast and vedg; and 1 small, perfect for a Saturday morning egg scramble.

9) My collection of "literatura"
All of my books and magazines, for sure.  I've parsed down my collection, and it currently resides on shelves and in boxes, but I'd like to have it all out for the world to see.  Especially my short stack of old magazines, ranging back to 1928 ("Is your Vitrola spread out like the dog's breakfast?"  Great late-20s ad campaign.), and my "The History of Architecture" book from the 40s or 50s, leather-bound.

10) Rerun.
"Rerun" is a painting I did as a part of my Stagecraft class in college my first year.  We were instructed to go out to the store, purchase a greeting card, and from that card, recreate the image to scale, assuming the bottom of the card is now two feet wide.  A friend and I painted ours once we scaled it, and mine ended up looking like a cartoon 4-year-old in his dad's aviator sunglasses and jacket, giving you the thumbs-up.  It's cute and kitchy, and makes me smile every time I see it.

22 September 2010

Etsy Shop Grand Reopening...?

I've been sitting on it for far too long. I'm going to allow this holiday season to be what spurs me on.

JUST ANNOUNCED on the BodiceGoddess Facebook page!

I'm looking at a Grand Re-Opening of BodiceGoddess on Etsy sometime this fall (probably November)! Folks here on FB will be the first to know. I'm looking at doing more upcycled shrugs, scarves, and possibly hair fascinators or pillows. What do you all think?
I'll also be doing a giveaway here on Facebook and my blog as soon as I reopen. Stay tuned!

My Etsy shop has, until now, simply been an outlet for my crocheting habit.  While I will keep it that way, I've been doing a lot of experimenting with upcycling while the shutters have been closed, and I've learned a lot.  I think it's time to come in from the cold, or rather, supply items to those going out in it.

I've been inspired by a lot of Etsy users and other designers, and I'm excited to get started again!

What do you think?

16 September 2010

Sincere Flattery: How I Met Your Mother

Inspired by Etsy's "Get the Look Decor" series on The Storque, and design*sponge's "Living In" series on their blog, and my own proclivities, I've decided to put together my own series.  I'm calling it "Sincere Flattery," because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Considering how stoked I am about the How I Met Your Mother season 6 premiere next Monday (on CBS, 7pm Central), I've decided to cover something that's near and dear to my heart: Ted's kitchen.

My own kitchen experiences have been varied: growing up, it was a small, and then a large gathering place when my family moved.  In college, kitchen design was never an option (though we did get new cabinetry my senior year).  Since college, I've had one medium-sized kitchen, followed by two small galleys.  I've been jealous of Ted's kitchen since I first saw the show.

Special thanks to sweet nothings for sharing pics from her visit to the set!

First off, props to the set dressers for making Ted's kitchen look like something people actually use.  It's cluttered, but not terribly so.  It's full, and not staged, which is nice.  I'd rather look at a kitchen from a TV show than a kitchen from a home design magazine any day of the week.
The first thing that strikes me is how huge this kitchen looks!  In "reality", it's not huge at all.  It's as regular as a kitchen in a rental unit can be - not a whole lot of counter space, a mild and neutral color palette, non-matching appliances - and yet, the renters have made it their home.

Now, where to get started...

Neutrals, but we've covered that.  I'll do my best to match the Behr or Dutch Boy paint colors - they're the brands I'm the most familiar with, have the coolest names, and have proven themselves through my use and through legitimate vouches (the painters on Holmes on Homes use Behr).  The colors that I've found that most closely match are:
Behr's Antique White is perfect for the cabinets, while Toffee Bar is a great complement for the wall color.

The Floor
The floor appears to be something very simple - vinyl floor tile.  I've been seeing it make a resurgence in recent years, since it's typically an inexpensive material, it's durable, and it's easy to replace if need be.  Black and white checkered is a classic pattern that never goes out of style.

The Countertop
1) It matches the floor... mostly.
2) There isn't much of it.
White tile with a black edge is a very clean look.  The colors match the floor, and make a nice break in the room.  These countertops are something I'm incredibly used to - rental unit, not a whole lot of counter space. After using up that corner for storage, they really only have the area in front of the pass-through (to the left)

The Cabinets
Obviously painted - and Behr's Antique White is the best choice.  The other things to notice are the hardware, the fronts, and the backs.
Since cabinet hardware can sometimes be one of the most expensive parts of a renovation, I'm going to the old trusty sources for inexpensive hardware.
IKEA's KOSING are nice, round knobs in a chrome.  Granted, the knobs in Ted's kitchen are black, but chrome is another accent in the lighting, so it wouldn't be out of the question.
Target - believe it or not - carries decent cabinet hardware as well.  Their Amerock Colonial knobs in black match the kitchen pretty perfectly, and are about a dollar a piece ($3.99 for a 4-pack).

The lower cabinets have a full front, however, the upper cabinets have a nice glass front.  I'm all for this idea.  It looks like they use their upper cabinets for food storage (check out the iconic Campbell's soup labels above the dishwasher), and this strategy would definitely force you to keep your cabinets more organized and good-looking.  Also, having glass-fronted uppers makes a kitchen look bigger and fuller when it may not be.

It also looks like, while the cabinets themselves may be a wonderful antiqued white color, the cabinet backs appear to be painted with a bit more of a peachy color.  It could be a trick of the light, but personally, I like the idea of having a third color in there.

The Appliances
First - and wonderfully - they don't match.  Not even a little.  But they do show a history of the apartment.  The stovetop/oven/range combo looks to be from the 1940s, the fridge maybe from the 50s or 60s, and the modern stainless steel dishwasher and black microwave tucked in the corner bring us to today.

The Details
Finally, the details.  One of the things I love about the character of Ted is his passion for the history of things.  The whole point of the show is that he wants his kids to know exactly how he met their mother - and refuses to leave anything out.  (Okay, that's not true.  There's that story that Victoria told in Season 1, the joke of Barney's from Season 4, and his substitution of "sandwiches" for joints and "bagpipes" for loud sex... but you get the idea.)  It's the details that make this kitchen.  The vintage-looking tin signs, the big chrome light over the sink, the little towel bar for washcloths and spice rack next to the range, the red tea kettle, even the oversized utensil jar on the stovetop.  I like to look at the spirit of something, and go from there.  So in the spirit of this kitchen, here's a couple of my picks from Etsy:

Vintage Industrial Metal Red and White... by SugarCubeVintage

Mid Century Sconce Lamp by claireferrante (for that pop of orange over the sink)

LYLE Snack Server / Cookie Robot by reclaim2fame (Every kitchen needs an R2-SweetTooth!)

Vintage Wooden Spice Rack by lemontreefarm

Mosaic Serving Tray - Retro Blues by rushcreekmosaics (made in Ohio - just like Ted)

And one more IKEA pick:
KVOT Dish Drainer

I think that about exhausts me.  Beyond that, I'm full-on copycatting.  I really do love this show, and the design of the kitchen - and the accuracy of it! - plays but a small part in that.  One more thing - check out beanforest on Etsy for magnets.  They're little and kitschy... and just the thing that would be at home in Ted's kitchen.

06 September 2010

September already. Where'd the time go?!

Now I know I've been an absentee blogger folks, and I'd like to submit my humble apologies to all of you.  (Which I'd be glad to do in writing.  Seriously - e-mail me your address, and I'll send you a personalized postcard!)

What I've been up to:

  • My sister got married on 21 August 2010, to a gentleman she's been dating for something like 7 years.  It was a largely DIY affair - no wedding planner, no equipment rentals, just hand-making 200 purple boxes and filling them with Hershey kisses, assembling centerpieces, altering bridesmaid dresses, making the garters and the like.  It was a LOT of work, but we had a great time, and got some new family members in the mix!
  • My little brother left for college... the day after the wedding.  Let's just say August was packed pretty solid with family activity.
  • As part of my gift to the happy couple, I re-fabricated a pair or bedside tables I found on craigslist.  They were a pair of very simple pine tables, and now they're a very simple pair of pine tables with a lower shelf and a wonderful high-gloss espresso paint job to them!  (Post to follow...)
  • Last night, I completed my attempt at recreating the Kaylee "prairie harpy" dress from the "Out of Gas" and "The Message" episodes of Firefly.  I'm content with the results.  The pattern on the fabric's a little bigger than I expected, and I took some liberties with the piecing (made it a long tunic rather than a bodice and skirt, eliminated the back zipper since Kaylee never used it anyway, and used a taupe piece of doily for the detail rather than pink), but the spirit remains in tact.  As do the voluminous sleeves.
  • I'll soon be moving... I hope.  But more on that later.
  • The temp dropped like 30 degrees this week.  I mean, it's Minnesota, but it's also a huge slap in the face to say "HEY!  Turn your calendar page!  It's September now!"
I've been looking at Etsy a lot, and thinking that it's really been all about transitions at this time of year, especially late August.  With Katie getting married, Tom moving to college and myself and my roommates thinking about upgrading from our apartment, there's a lot going on and a lot to look at and think about.

Blah blah blah.  Enough windbagging.  Here's some Etsy picks for this time of year.

Penguin Stamp - handcarved by jackbear.
jackbear is a fantastic stamp carver, and I had to give him some props here on the blog.  As a shower gift to my sister, I made her a set of Thank You cards, and hand-stamped each one with a swan stamp jackbear customized and carved for me.
Also, my brother's favorite animal for a long time was penguins, so this is a little tribute to both of them.

autumn shine - necklace by airportlovestory
airportlovestory is a delightful 20-something woman who is way ahead of me on her Etsy journey.  I met her through Alchemy, we try to keep in touch, and occasionally swap items.  Like pen pals, only with crafts!  (and it's my turn :/ )  Her shop has come a LONG way since we first met, and it's been fun watching the journey.
kind, caring, compassionate and... - button by beanforest
beanforest's shop reads like a stroll through a very clever, one-off comic book.  I went on a shopping spree through his shop just before Christmas last year.  This button went to my roommate, Kathy.
My brother and best friends also got some.  It's really quite a fun shop, especially if you don't know what to get for someone.

Real comfort Jane Austen mug - by Brookish
I loved this shop so much, I forwarded it via Facebook to my best friend's mother, an English professor and Jane Austen scholar in Cincinnati, Ohio.

1950's Antique Samsonite Luggage - by Ms2SweetVintage
I picked this piece because I just found one and have spent the weekend fixing it up.  It's a beautiful piece, and the company had been featured on "Mad Men" - giving credence to its vintage cred.
vintage 1940s dress - by traven7
A beautiful vintage gown to wrap things up!

Well folks, That's that.

Here's to transitions.

27 July 2010

How To Grow Your Own Hipster; or: How My Parents Did It.

According to UrbanDictionary.com, a "hipster" is defined as the following:
Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter. ... Although "hipsterism" is really a state of mind,it is also often intertwined with distinct fashion sensibilities. Hipsters reject the culturally-ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers, and are often be seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired fashions, tight-fitting jeans, old-school sneakers, and sometimes thick rimmed glasses. ... Despite misconceptions based on their aesthetic tastes, hipsters tend to be well educated and often have liberal arts degrees, or degrees in maths and sciences, which also require certain creative analytical thinking abilities. Consequently many hipsters tend to have jobs in the music, art, and fashion industries. It is a myth that most hipsters are unemployed and live off of their parent's trust funds.
Hipsters shun mainstream societal conventions that apply to dating preferences and traditional "rules" of physical attraction. It is part of the hipster central dogma not to be influenced by mainsream advertising and media, which tends to only promote ethnocentric ideals of beauty. ... Hipsters are also very racially open-minded, and the greatest number of interracial couples in any urban environment are typically found within the hipster subculture.
Although hipsters are technically conformists within their own subculture, in comparison to the much larger mainstream mass, they are pioneers and leaders of the latest cultural trends and ideals. For example, the surge of jeans made to look old and worn (i.e. "distressed"), that have become prevalent at stores such as The Gap, American Eagle, Abercrombie and Fitch, and Hollister, were originally paraded by hipsters who shopped in thrift stores years before such clothing items were mass produced and sold to the mainstream consumer. The true irony here is that many of the detractors of hipster culture are in fact unknowingly following a path that hipsters have carved out years before them. This phenomena also applies to music as well, as many bands have become successful and known to mainstream audiences only because hipsters first found and listened to them as early-adopters of new culture. Once certain concepts of fashion and music have reached mainstream audiences, hipsters move on to something new and improved.
Because of the rise of various online photo-blog and social networking sites, insights into urban hipster culture is reaching sheltered suburban audiences at an exponential rate. Cultural "norms" have been deconstructed by hipster culture as a whole. Hipsterism is often dismissed as just an image thing by some, but the culture as a whole is effecting changes in society, leading to feelings of insecurity and resentment in people who are no longer a part of the cultural ruling class. ... Anti-hipster sentiment often comes from people who simply can't keep up with social change and are envious of those who can.
Note: this is definition #1.  Further definitions from the website are unnecessary after this comprehensive one, and can get quite demeaning.

"No, we're not shopping there."
In my teenage years, when my ideas about how the world should work were still forming, I was growing up in a household with two younger siblings, a mom in grad school, and my parents got in early with the housing boom and purchased/built a new house.  Understandably, we didn't frequent the Gap or Abercrombie, where a single item of clothing was frequently over $20 (and still is).  We'd hit Target or Kohl's with a vengeance.  And clothes had to LAST.  I had several pairs of jeans growing up that would rip and tear all over, and it wasn't until I grew or a hole developed in the crotch that I'd give them up.  Every rip, every tear, I wore as a badge of honor and a testament to my active lifestyle.  Now, it's the "cool" thing to buy these pre-ripped jeans.  I don't understand it.  Why do that when you can make your own?
Also, the placement of the local thrift store next to my karate school made spending time there an absolute breeze.

"You can listen to whatever you want."
I don't think that when my parents gave me my first alarm clock radio in the second grade that they intended for it to set me on the path of hipster-hood, but it eventually did.  I started by tuning in to the local country music station.  The primary reason for this was because my Dad hates country, and I didn't want him in my room (at the age of nine...).  When the station I had been tuned to went off the air, I had to find a new one.  I discovered "104.1 The Point," a now-defunct alternative rock station.  I didn't understand the concept of a station that played a little bit of everything, including local bands, but I liked it.  Nay, I loved it.  And I still do. I've bounced from alt-rock station to alt-rock station which, while they typically are phased out after a few years, always pop up somewhere else.  My "current" favorite is MPR 89.3 The Current which, in addition to being mainly alternative rock and also a generally amazing mix including local bands, is completely member-supported public radio, and the only commercials they have are for themselves.
Also, The Current received a vouch from Wil Wheaton, who, upon discovering it last night while touring in Minneapolis, proclaimed via Twitter: "I think The Current from Minnesota Public Radio is my new favorite radio station."  Upon reading that this morning, my nerd-heart gave knucks to my hipster-heart in victory.  (Actually, there was an awkward moment where my nerd-heart went up for a high-five, and switched to the fist mid-air.)

"Oh, that's just Neil."
My dad's wonderful cousin, Neil, has been a constant presence on the periphery of my life since my childhood.  Ever since my family was still young enough that my grandmother had Christmas with her sisters at Gram and Pappy's house.  Now, we're Facebook friends, and it turns out he's had run-ins with a few of my friends at work, and they all adore him.  He's always stuck out in my mind as a person in my family to look up to as being connected to his family, his community, and his job.
Oh, yeah, also?  He's gay.  Always has been.  And it's never been a big deal.

"So.  Where do you want to go to college?"
I remember high school.  Not well, but I do remember it.  I remember that awkward time where my future depended on where I went to school.  I toured three campuses - all alma maters of my parents - the University of Minnesota, the College of St. Catherine, and the University of St. Thomas - and applied to all three.  I had very distinct expectations and things I wanted from each school.  I liked the U for its architecture program, St. Thomas for its varied liberal arts degrees and co-ed campus, and St. Kate's for its varied liberal arts degrees and women's campus.  When I got the nod from St. Kate's and St. Thomas, and the U deferred my application, I knew I was destined for a liberal arts degree.  My "architecture major, English minor" dreams turned to an English major, philosophy minor, and a single math class that I hated.
After my whirlwind tour of the campuses - a day at the U, and a day spent half at St. Kate's and St. Thomas - I quickly realized that St. Kate's was my favorite of the three.  There I spent four years, developing a well-rounded education on a campus deeply rooted in the community and yet welcoming of all walks of life.  Even men.  They just couldn't live there.

Looking back on how I was raised, it's easy for me to see why I've ended up in the particular niche I'm in right now.  It's all their fault.

24 June 2010

Borrowed from Apartment Therapy

As a semi-avid blog reader, I sometimes see something that profoundly inspires me to write something here.  Today, it was Apartment Therapy's Summer Interview series.  The questions are pretty insightful and quick, and I thought I'd give you all a summer update!

I like laying in the sun to relax, but if I'm working on something, there's nothing worse than having the sun beating down on you.

I've been really attached to turquoise lately.  I have an upcycled dress in the works!

The cabin.  It's simple.  My family has access to 2 cabins, and I've been going to both since I was a kid.  It's always been a great place to escape to.

Holy Land lemonade from the International Market at the Minnesota State Fair.  It's blended lemonade with mint leaves in it.  I need to figure out a way to make it at home!

Living in an apartment with no yard, a baby and a cat, planting space is limited.  However, on top of my stereo component tower, I have 7 basil plants just about thriving!  They're still babies, but they've moved from egg carton to milk carton and are growing fast.

"Cold Beverages" by G-Love and the Special Sauce

Jimmy Buffet's A Salty Piece of Land.

01 June 2010

Post Memorial Day Catch-up Post!

You read right.  Sorry about the absence, folks!  My laptop screen went out last week, and before that, I've been swamped with projects (some of which pertain to future entries, so stay tuned!), busy at work, and ran out of energy to update.

So here's the docket for today's entry:
- Friday 5 Catch-up from May 14th: Cooookieeee!
- Memorial Day Round-up: What I intended to do, and what I actually did
- Friday 5 Catch-up from May 28th: Oops!
- and Coming Attractions on the BodiceGoddess blog!

What is absolutely the best cookie you’ve ever had?
I made a batch of cookies last fall, the week before my Tiny Roommate was born.  I called them "harvest" cookies, and they were a monster cookie mix of pumpkin, oatmeal, craisins, white chocolate and pecans.  And man, were they good.

What is a cookie you really don’t care for?
I'll go with the obvious here: oatmeal raisin.  I like oatmeal; I like raisins.  But somehow, in the traditional recipe, the cookie comes out kind of dry and icky.  There are better things you could have done with those ingredients.

What are some other cookies you are rather fond of?
I like cookies with oatmeal (for texture), pumpkin (for moistness) and chocolate (for deliciousness).

Grocery-store cookies are, of course, never as good as anything that comes out of someone’s kitchen, but what’s a packaged cookie that’s still pretty good?
Pepperidge Farm Milanos.

In general, do you think cookies should be chewy and gooey, or should they be crispy and crunchy?
I'm a chewy cookie girl.  I'm not a fan of the ones you have to float in milk in order to render them edible.  Or ones that leave too many crumbs.  I've taken to eating dessert cookies while reading in bed and crumblies are not conducive to good sleeping.

Memorial Day Round-Up
Memorial Day is traditionally a day to celebrate the sacrifices of veterans and those Americans who died in wartime.  It's come to represent the unofficial start of summer, and a welcome 3-day weekend just as spring heats up.
Over the past couple of years, in my life, it's meant that the ice is out, the lakes have turned, and the temperatures are warm enough at night for dive camp - SCUBA diving during the day; beers, bonfire and barbecue in the evening, and camping overnight.  It's also a cursed weekend, as something bad always happens to someones' car while diving (two years ago, I lost the keys; this year, a friend hit a big rock and broke an axle).  This year, however, with my sister's wedding and brother's graduation, Memorial Day means everyone is in town and can help clean my parents' house.
Here was my original plan:
- clean my living room
- reorganize all of my sewing/crafting stuff into a cohesive and accessible series of units
- go swimming with my Tiny Roommate
- help out with cleaning my parents' house
- oversleep
- finish the present for my brand-new SCUBA nephew
- get a sunburn (yeah, yeah, yeah, skin cancer, etc.  At least I'm playing outside to do it.)

Here's what actually happened:
Friday: got home from work early and cleaned my living room, and moved all of my sewing stuff into my bedroom.  Washed the kitchen floor and did some dishes.  Took a long nap, and had rum margaritas and played Trauma Center: New Blood until the margaritas started affecting my dexterity.
Saturday: Went to Mom and Dad's and helped reorg the garage; washed the screens and windows; planted annuals in a series of nice pots; sanded down, shored up and repainted a pair of adirondack chairs for the front porch.  Hit a bonfire, had some of that new Grain Belt Premium Nordeast, liked it, and played Rock Band until I passed out at about 3 in the morning.  Turns out you can be a rock star, but not a trauma surgeon, with the assistance of alcohol.  Went home and got to bed around 5:30 AM.
Sunday: Didn't get up until 3 in the afternoon.  I seem to have completely lost track of Sunday, because all I can remember is the delicious pork ribs my Dad made for dinner, and the abnormally packed house at the Chatterbox for karaoke.  I guess Sunday must've been my day off.
Monday: Didn't get up until noon, though my cat woke me up at 7 AM.  While she understands the concept of weekends, I guess she doesn't get Mondays off.  So I read in bed for a bit, and dozed back off.  Spent the mid-afternoon at Fort Snelling State Park's swimming beach with my roommates, Mama Bear and Bean (the mother-and-daughter iteration of my 3 roommates).  Bean may only be 7 months old, but she's a natural-born swimmer!  Loves splashing, doesn't mind getting her face wet, and kicks behind her with minimal coaxing.  She'll be a fun student.  After swimming, Mama Bear dropped me off at IKEA to meet Mom and my sister, where we picked up a metric f***-ton of supplies for the wedding.  Then it was back to Mom and Dad's for spaghetti, working - briefly - on the rehab of my sister's old room, and trying to fix the grill.  Got the whole thing taken apart and the crossfire ignition cut to size before finding out that the whole thing was too big for the  manifold. x_x  Headed back home and worked on my present for my SCUBA nephew for a while, and watched Hulu on my new computer monitor, AKA my TV.  By the time I went to bed, I was shocked that it was Monday night already!
So I got a lot done, unfortunately, nothing that involved lowering the teetering piles of craft supplies in my bedroom that my cat has taken to knocking over when I'm not home.  Still a victory of a weekend.

In the past month, what was your biggest OOPS?
Leaving the vacuum filter in the parking lot behind my car after painstakingly cleaning it.

In the past month, what inspired you to let out your most heartfelt WHEW?
Don't know, but I probably said something stupid, hoped no one heard it, and no one did.

In the past month, what caused you to say, “HUH?”
One thing, just about every day at work.

In the past month, what influenced the most ZZZZZZZZs?
Memorial Day weekend, and having 3 days off.

In the past month, what was most GRRRRRRRRR-worthy?
General family troubles, but who doesn't have those?

Coming Attractions
Bridesmaid Survival Kit 2: This Time it's Personal.
Apartment Garden progress (We moved the basil on Sunday!  That's what I did!)
And other pretty things, like:

08 May 2010

Apartment Garden, Day 1

My roommates and I are itching for some green this spring!  Unfortunately, our building doesn't have much in the way of green space outside.  We started the next best thing: an apartment garden!

Right now, yes, it looks like a 3rd grade science project, with the seedlings started in an egg carton and 5 sawed-off milk jugs laying in wait for plants, but you know what?  Those beans I planted in Mrs. Zywiec's class grew - especially the ones we played music to.  So we've got basil, chives and thyme started on the stereo, and I'm hoping to get some lemon ball basil from my cousins.

Also, this is my first post from my Motorola Cliq - here's hoping it works!

07 May 2010

Friday 5 for April 30: Red, and May 7: More Colors!

Almost too appropriate that I missed last week and am catching up today, considering the topics are so well tied together!
Here goes!

April 30: Red

1) What is your favorite red food?
This one's tough, but I'll go with strawberries.

2) When were you last caught red-handed?
Last Saturday, when snuck a few bites of my cousin Piper's Mint Oreo Blizzard when she "wasn't looking." Yeah, it was purposeful red-handness.

3) What’s your nicest red article of clothing?
Probably my new(ish) little tank dress, for its multipurpose usefulness. In terms of actual nicety, then my red bridesmaid dress from my friends' wedding.

4) Who’s got the loveliest red hair?
Christina Hendricks, Esquire's Best Looking Woman. Or Alyson Hannigan, 'cept for the fact that she keeps dying it darker.  Also Felicia Day.

5) What are your thoughts on the 2002 Baz Luhrmann film Moulin Rouge!?
Love it. Very trippy and colorful, but I'm a sucker for a musical!

May 7: Colors!

1) Who could be described as a nightmare in pink?
Molly Ringwald?

2) How long does it take you to type “The quick red fox jumps over the lazy dog” on your cell phone or computer keyboard?
Something like 6-8 seconds on the computer, maybe a titch longer on the Moto Cliq.

3) What item in a plain brown wrapper did you most recently receive?
Part of my mom's Mother's Day gift, purchased at the mercantile in Almelund, MN.  I won't say what it is (as if she reads this...), but I'll say I found it in the "antique" section, rather than the grocery, soda fountain, or what looked to be a community swap.  Might could be a post about this on Sunday...

4) Who’s got the loveliest cinnamon skin?
Variations on a theme here - Gina Torres.

5) When did you last take a walk in the lonely silver rain?
Oh man today at lunch!  It's gross out!  I don't blame the Twins for postponing tonight's game (inaugural rain delay game!) due to rain.

Bonus Question!
What is the real inspiration for this week’s questions?
I want to say song lyrics, but I'm probably wrong.

There you have it! Another week, another 5. (Plus a bonus 5!)

05 May 2010

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Another international holiday, another trip to the Shop Local section of Etsy!

Here's my pics for Cinco de Mayo!

Prism necklace by dikua.
dikua has a small selection of quirky jewelry!

Etsy Support Printable by batzy.
I love the sentiment behind this printable poster!  It reminds me that, while I do have a full-time desk job that pays the bills (and actually is pretty interesting), my Etsy shop and costuming business is where my heart's at.

Lilac, sleepy cat by monstersncuties.
Very sweet.  Want to cuddle.  I can see my tiny roommate chewing on her ear!

Turquoise with moss green pleats zipper pouch by ziazia.
A shop full of totes, messengers, pouches and purses!

red felt octopus by alpinitorrico.
So cute!  Also want to cuddle!
Best part?  The buttons are pieces of felt, so it's CPSIA-friendly and child-safe!

embroidered greeting card by greenbirddreaming.
I'm a recent convert to how freakin' cool textile art is, and this one serves as a reminder of how close fishing season is!

mexican vintage style pillow cover by arboreto.
I love the bright greens and oranges in this pillow cover!  Draws the eye, but still looks like it'd be at home in my giant pile of pillows.  The back is a bright pink!

After compiling items from all over Mexico, I'm realizing how bent I am toward bright greens, reds and pinks right now.  Must be spring in the air!

28 April 2010

Two years.

Has it been that long?

Two years ago, I was living in a little 700-square-foot apartment in Merriam Park a block away from O'Gara's with a circus performer.
Two years ago, I was working a hateful job at an embroidery shop, doing everything short of the finances and the embroidery itself - the work of two or three people - and was barely making ends meet.
Two years ago, I had lost faith in radio, and listened exclusively to my iPod or CDs.
Two years ago, I drove a PT Cruiser automatic with a 6-CD changer and a moon roof.

Two years ago, my world was shaken by the emotional earthquake that was losing my grandmother.  And I'm still feeling the aftershocks.

Since then, I've been trying so hard to live the life she'd have wanted me to live.  I've been doing things I hope she's proud of and, well, some other things I hope she looks the other way on.
Today, I live in a 3-bedroom apartment with a couple and their 6-month-old daughter.  I'm able to see my Tiny Roommate grow and change incrementally every day.  And I've seen her, cradled by her grandmother, in one of the chairs that used to belong to mine.
Today, I'm working as a "temporary employee" at a company I've been at for over a year now.  It's the longest I've stayed in one place.  The people here are phenomenal, and sometimes that's half the battle.  The other half is the work itself - it's constantly changing and, therefore, never boring.
Today, I listen to MPR 89.3, The Current.  Alternative music with a local bent to it, and completely supported by member contributions.  Every shred of faith in radio I had lost was returned the day I discovered The Current.
Today, I drive a Jeep Wrangler manual with crank windows, manual locks, and both a hard top and a soft top (or I can go topless).  I learned how to drive a manual, and listening to the Current more than replaces the CD changer.

Today, I'm still feeling the aftershocks.
It's a big year in my family, with my brother graduating from high school and my sister getting married.  My cousin Kyle just had his first communion as well.  There's a lot going on that she's not here for.  (And yeah, part of me wanted to end that sentence with "that she's missing," but that's hardly fair at all.)
The one scenario my sister and I keep playing over and over is Grandma, up in the Great Beyond, with her sister-in-law, Rose.  Grandma and Aunt Rose passed away about a month apart, and, having married brothers, were pretty close.  Rose's grandchild is getting married on the same day as my sister.  I can only imagine the hijinks that will ensue up Yonder and, having seen the two of them at weddings before, I can only hope that there's cab drivers there, too.

26 April 2010

Friday 5 for April 23: The Bard (though I'm rolling late on this one!)

This week's Friday 5 honors Shakespeare's birthday! Fun for me because of all those collegiate-level courses... and my "Shakespeare's Contemporaries" seminar. You know, the one that gives you the major? That one.
Here we go!

1) In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Lysander says,
“Ay me! for aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth…”
How has this proven (or not proven) to be the case in your life?
It never does.  In relationships, and even with the things I love to do.  Take sewing.  When I'm working on a project, I'll get so entranced in it that I'll forget to eat, or stay up until 4 in the morning fixing a mistake I made at 2am.  It's a battlefield.  But seeing that completed project, and getting to see (or not!) the life it has after me... that's love.  And it's not easy.

2) In Hamlet, the title character says, “Frailty, thy name is woman!” Who in your life has proven this not to be true? And if you’re willing to share, who in your life has proven this to be completely true?
Oh man, easy: I witnessed my friend, Kathy, give birth to her daughter, Illyanna.  The only drug she had was pitocin, which is a synthetic hormone.  No painkillers.  And twenty-six hours of labor.  Ain't nothin' frail about that.
As for someone who has proven it to be true... I'm not going to answer that one.

3) In The Merry Wives of Windsor, Pistol says,
“Why then the world’s mine oyster,
Which I with sword will open.”
Ignoring the possible sexual meaning here, how do you feel about oysters?
Wow, yeah, that is dirty.
I love oysters, actually.  It kind of freaks me out how much I like them.  But between my ever-present love of seafood, and my dad's recent turn toward it, we've definitely split an oyster bar at one of the restaurants around here.  I'd love to do it again.  Damn, that was good.

4) In The Merchant of Venice, Lorenzo says,
“The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not mov’d with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.”
Do you agree, and have you known anyone who seemed to be completely unmoved by any kind of music?
I agree with my whole heart, and cannot abide by people who do not have wide-ranging and ever-changing tastes in music.  Those people bother me, and I don't really associate with them.

5) Is Shakespeare overrated, or is he truly the western world’s greatest writer?
This isn't an either/or question, really.  Yes, I think Shakespeare is a tad bit overrated, and no, he's not the western world's greatest writer.  I think that the fact that Shakespeare overshadows his contemporaries isn't fair.  Yeah, he did a lot more writing than most of them, but there are other good plays and written works from that period.  He's not the greatest writer in the western world, either, because other writers have had different impacts and affect people differently.

23 April 2010

Events Roundup: Kick off Springtime and Support Your Local!

We've got a big weekend ahead of us here in Minnesota's capital city of St. Paul, and a lot of events that won't take more than a bus ride or a choice parking space and a good pair of sneakers to visit.  Here we go!

Friday, 23 April, from 6-10pm
Saturday, 24 April, from noon-8pm
Sunday, 25 April, from noon-5pm
This tour of the Lowertown area of St. Paul covers three of my favorite things about St. Paul: the access to public art, free shuttle rides, and cool old buildings and spaces.  It's a fantastic opportunity to meet local artists and see where they work, what they do, and how they do it.  Kudos to all of the artists to have opened up their studios to any and all who come by - I'll try to stop by this Saturday or Sunday!

Saturdays 6-11am
Sundays 8am-1pm
The St. Paul Farmer's Market opens this Saturday, 24 April, for their 2010 season!  They'll be open until the end of November.  Hey - if you're already in Lowertown for the Art Crawl, check it out!  Grab a bag of fresh-from-the-garden produce and head into a warehouse to check it out.  There's also great people-watching, a good selection of produce and fresh flowers, and occasionally street musicians and performers.
Check out the website for more locations and dates.  Farmer's markets are a great way to support the local economy, and stay a little more green.  Buying local cuts down on shipping and production costs.  And it's good for you, too.

Saturday 24 April, 1-6pm at The Bottling House
I know I was highlighting St. Paul, but don't be afraid of the twin across the river.  On Saturday in Minneapolis, MNfashion Week is sponsoring the Alter/Nation event, promoting the creative reuse of garments otherwise thrown away or forgotten in the back of the closet.  CounterCouture hosts, along with Ever After Gowns, Anthem Heart, Yelp, taj salon & spa, Je Ne Regrette Rien and I’ve Got Your Style, with the help of volunteers.
The event includes, but is not limited to, a clothing swap, formal dress donation, on-site tailoring and alterations, fashion shows, live screen printing, and even hair and make-up.  Check out the link (above) for more info on the Facebook event page!

MNfashion Week is going strong!
Check out  the various event continuing through this weekend, culminating in Christopher Straub's premiere of his new collection at the St. Paul Hotel on Sunday night.  (Yes, the Chris Staub from Project Runway - he's local!)

At any rate, even if it's raining, there's plenty to do!  So go out, explore the capital and its twin, and support your local!

by Maggie
(cross-posted in Maggie's Etsy team blog, HandmadeMN)

22 April 2010

Celebrating Earth Day - Do You Have the Skills?

I was excited when, a few years ago, the Discovery Channel created "Planet Green." It's a wonderful channel with a lot of good ideas, and a pretty comprehensive website. I found the article "99 Skills for an Eco-Friendly DIY Lifestyle" to be particularily interesting, especially since I already do a lot of these things myself!

Here's some tips of my own based on Planet Green's list:

16. Have a repertoire of vegetarian recipes you can use for various occasions.
For lunch today, I had tabouli, a wonderful Mediterranean dish that's easy and cheap to make, and delicious to eat.
2 c bulgur wheat and 2 c water - saturate until it's done.
Add: chopped bundle of parsley, 1 cucumber, 1 tomato, a couple of tablespoons of lemon and a tablespoon or so of oil. You can also add mint or black pepper depending on how you like the taste. It's good as a salad, or on pita bread, and it's 100% veg and diabetic friendly - no meat, and bulgur has a low glycemic index.

28. Sew well enough to make your own clothing and reusable shopping bags.
Can do! As I said in an earlier post, I am endeavoring this year to buy as few new pieces of clothing as possible, and instead try to recycle what I have or buy second-hand. Though, I'll admit, I caved and bought a Woot Shirt last week.

44. Find what you need by bartering, or using CraigsList, eBay, and thrift stores.
I'm a big fan of this method of furnishing my apartment. In fact, all of my furniture is either inherited, a craigslist or garage sale find, or salvaged from the trash. And you know what they say about one person's trash.

53. Plant a garden for your climate
This one's a big deal here in Minnesota. The growing season here is pretty short. I also have the added difficulty of living in an apartment with no yard to speak of. However, my roommmates and I have plans in place for an apartment garden, where we'll grow herbs in old milk cartons. Just like elementary school.

69. Know how to use herbs and natural remedies to treat common illnesses.
Not enough people know how to do this right, and it bugs me. Yeah, you can go out and spend all your money on Tylenol Cough and Cold and Excedrin Migraine, but here's a thought: read the labels. Understand them. Tylenol and Excedrin have the same main active ingredient - acetaminophen. The only difference is the side stuff. Tylenol PM is acetaminophen and diphenhydramine, which is the active ingredient of Benadryl. Excedrin is usually acetaminophen and caffeine.  Just knowing that can help cut down on the number of pill bottles in the cupboard, the danger of combining meds and overdosing, and the tendancy to spend too much on those tiny little bottles.
In terms of natural remedies, ginger can be used to treat upset stomachs.
Coffee and other foods with natural caffeine can help to treat headaches.
Honey can treat pink eye.

74-78 are Transportation Skills.
One thing I'd definitely add to this is "Utilize public transportation."  Here in the Twin Cities, Metro Transit does a pretty good job of making sure folks can get to one area from another.  It is possible now to get from the Mall of America to Elk River by train, with one transfer from the Hiawatha LRT to the North Star at Target Field. I might just do it for the hell of it one of these days.
While they don't yet have an app for the iPhone or Android market, the website's pretty comprehensive, and they stay on top of the schedules.

85-99 are Conservation Skills.
Embrace Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is really what these amount to.  If you don't have to create garbage, don't.  If you do, create as little as possible.  And if you have to throw something away, know how.  Old TVs, coumputers and batteries have special disposal places and methods.  Recycle bins aren't just meant for the kitchen - those boxes that toothpaste comes in and empty toilet paper rolls are paper recyclables.  Sort accordingly.

Happy Earth Day!

Coming soon: A preview post of weekend events around St. Paul and possibly Minneapolis, highlighting springtime and staying green!

16 April 2010

Friday 5 for April 16: Faces

It's time for this week's Friday 5!

1) How’s your poker face?
Terrible. I can come up with elaborate deceptions, but when it comes to little things like that... I can't seem to hide it. Like when I think of a really good joke. I typically have to tell it twice because I laugh the whole first time.

2) When were you last red-faced?
Angry? Embarrassed? Probably yesterday. Had a bad day yesterday, got angry, and I was in my car and hot, so that could also have been a contribution.

3) When will it be time for you to face the music?
When I get to a point where I'm able to pay all of my bills instead of picking and choosing all the time.

4) What’s an issue about which you’ve done an about-face?
Capital punishment. I used to be whole-hock against it, but as I've gotten older, I can see the merit.

5) Who’s overdue for some face-time with you?
Mr. Ware Carlton-Ford. I haven't seen him since, like, last decade, and due to not having the money for gas, I haven't been able to make it down to Illinois, either.

There it is - another week, another 5.

I'll be posting every day next week with reduce, reuse and recycle entries for Earth Day! So many cool ideas, so little time.

09 April 2010

Friday 5 for April 9: Multimedia

This week's topic is multimedia and, after looking at the questions, I think they mean in the traditional sense - music, movies, the paper, TV and the radio. All topics I'm all about.

1) What Rolling Stones song best summarizes the week you just had?
Hmm. Good one. Because I did have a birthday this week, and it's been a very productive and social week. Hmm.
Probably "Shattered" because it's catchy.

2) What movie reminds you most of your childhood?
Definitely "The Little Mermaid" or "Hook."

3) What part of the newspaper do you never (or almost never) read?
The Classified section or, honestly, the Front Page. I typically skip right on ahead to Local.

4) What television show is a lot better than you thought it would be?
Glee. I thought it looked like another stupid teeny-bopper show, but now I'm so hooked on it it's kind of ridiculous.

5) What station is the radio nearest you set on at this moment?
Thankfully, 89.3 The Current from MPR. Thanks again for the radio, Mom!

There you have it - another week, another 5!

06 April 2010

Two bits!

Today is my 25th birthday. Feels like a regular day, save for the free eatings and the fresh flowers on my desk from my dad. But yeah - another year has passed since my birth.

To commemorate this fact, I'm putting together a playlist.
25 songs, one from each year since I've been born.
Let these songs reflect my beautiful me-ness.

1985 - "How Soon is Now?", The Smiths
1986 - "Danger Zone", Kenny Loggins
1987 - "The Way You Make Me Feel", Michael Jackson
1988 - "Where is My Mind?", The Pixies
1989 - "And So It Goes", Billy Joel
1990 - "Birdhouse in Your Soul", They Might Be Giants
1991 - "Under the Bridge", Red Hot Chili Peppers
1992 - "To Be With You", Mr. Big
1993 - "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)", The Proclaimers
1994 - "Undone (The Sweater Song)", Weezer
1995 - "You Oughtta Know", Alanis Morissette
1996 - "One Way Ticket (Because I Can)", LeAnn Rimes
1997 - "Crazy Game of Poker", O.A.R
1998 - "Tainted Love", Johnny Clueless (cover)
1999 - "She's So High", Tal Bachman
2000 - "Space Cowboy (Yippie-Yi-Yay)", *NSync Featuring Lisa "Left-Eye" Lopes
2001 - "One Step Closer", Linkin Park (AKA the "shut up" song)
2002 - "Dreaming Of You", The Coral
2003 - "Are You Gonna Be My Girl", Jet
2004 - "Hey Ya!", OutKast
2005 - "Sex at Six", The Profits
2006 - "Dreaming With a Broken Heart", John Mayer
2007 - "Not Ready to Make Nice", Dixie Chicks
2008 - "If It Kills Me", Jason Mraz
2009 - "The Devil and Maggie Chascarillo", Lucero
2010 - "Written in Reverse", Spoon

02 April 2010

Friday 5 for April 2: Baskets

This week's Friday 5 is in honor of this weekend's festivities, including, but not limited to, Easter. I'm also stoked about the Twins debut at Target Field, and the wonderful picnic weather! What's more fitting than a Friday 5 about baskets?

1) What is your laundry basket like?
Which one? I have 3 - one is from IKEA, and it's abused, ripped, and non-functioning for the time being. Then I have a tall one and a short and wide one filled with clean laundry and dirty laundry, respectively.

2) What in your life is threatening to go to hell in a handbasket?
Oh man, what isn't? Most of all, probably my financial situation. I owe a LOT to my student loans, I'm paying off a car, and I've been living paycheck-to-paycheck for like three years. It kind of blows, and any period of unemployment hurts me for MONTHS, but I'm working on it.

3) What was the occasion for your receiving your last gift basket, and what was in it?
My cousin, Kyle, got me one of those awesome red apple baskets full of fruit for Christmas. I think I'm going to turn it into incidental yarn storage. It's a really cute basket!

4) When could you last have been described as a basket case?
Um... only always.

5) How’s your bread basket?
Mmmm... hungry probably. According to the game of Operation, your bread basket's your belly, right? Mine's still got some winter weight on it, but I'm working on that.

So there it is - another week, another 5.

Coming next week! I turn 25, Easter recap, and a "how I made my own portfolio" tutorial. And Booth and Bones finally make out. I hope.

30 March 2010

Resolved: No new clothes for 2010.

You heard me.  It's taken me almost 4 months, but it just makes sense as a new year's resolution.  I won't buy any new clothes this year.

Allow me to explain.  I've recently discovered upcycling as a method of coming upon clothing.  Turns out I'd been doing it for years - taking my younger sister's hand-me-ups or raiding my roommates' closets and car trunks for a quick fix to a wardrobe emergency.  When said sister and roommates relinquish the clothes to me with an "It just doesn't fit me anymore!", I feel like I have license to perform alterations.  I've already altered an old pair of jeans into a pair of snug-fitting knee-length 50s style pants.  I turned a 2-sizes-too-big mock turtleneck sweater (ick) into a tailored scoop neck that fits me perfectly.
I am particularily inspired by my copy of the Winter 2010 issue of Altered Couture and the work of the local designer group, Counter Couture.  The idea that someone's unwanted bridesmaid dress or old jacket could be turned into art is something that I can certainly get behind.

The rules: No new clothes this year.
The challenge: Shopping only on craigslist, at thrift stores, and through trades, I will make it a year without purchasing any new outerwear.  Fabric can be purchased, though preferably, it's salvaged from another item. 
After my alterations fervor in the beginning of this year and in the wake of making my Christmas dress, I can certainly do it.
Does not include my bridesmaid's dress for my sister's wedding in August, though, since my parents pitched in for that, I'm not sure that it counts (thanks, Mom!).  Also does not include underwear, socks, shoes and really anything that a) wears out quick and I can't make myself, and 2) gifts.  I'll accept gifts for sure.  (Special Note to Laura: April 6 is around the corner.  Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers?)
Also - I'm a bit behind on this, since I purchased a pair of jeans in February.  They were on sale, fit me great, and I was running out of pairs that fit.  And my sister was buying me Levi's that day.  2 pair will get me through the year.

Projects already in the works (or on the list of ideas) are a 1940s styled swimsuit, made from a sundress and an old shirt, and that COAT!

No worries, noble few!  I will keep you updated, especially in regard to the swimsuit.  After my last half-failed, half-complete success at making a swimsuit from a pair of tee shirts, we'll see how this goes!

26 March 2010

The Friday 5 of Sleep, and some geekdom gushing.

Oh man. Sleep. One of my favorite subjects. One I've had a lot of experience with, and a lot to say! Here goes:

1) How many hours’ sleep do you need in order to be at your best, and what’s the minimum you can get on a regular basis and still be functional?
On average, I need probably about 7 hours to be at my very best. However, I have had weeks where I stay up late, and can get by on about 4. Getting by is helped on by frequent napping during the day, including catnaps during commercials, and full-on sleeping through "Two and a Half Men."

2) What’s your favorite sleeping position?
For sleep-sleep? I'm definitely a side or belly sleeper.  For naps, I prefer sitting up or laying on my back.  It's how my brain separates the two.

3) What was the cause of your most recent difficulty sleeping?
An hour-and-a-half nap at about 8:30 to like 10 last night. I woke up feeling really refreshed... but dammit if I actually needed it then.

4) When you can’t seem to drift off to sleep right away, what are some things you do to bring about sleep?
I have a CD in my old alarm clock that has my sleepytime music on it. Reading usually knocks me out. Failing that, I pull up my computer, open up Hulu or throw in a DVD. There's something about watching TV in bed that just lulls me to sleep. Also? I'll highly recommend going out and getting Hulu Desktop. It's pretty much the best program to have at your disposal for times like this.

5) When did you last doze off at an inappropriate time or in an inappropriate place?
Probably yesterday. There was a lull in my work day, and I dozed for a little while. I'll admit it. Woke up feeling great, and kicked ass for the remainder of the day.

There it is - another week, another 5!

On to the geekery.
April is one of my favorite months of the year due to the end of the hockey season and the start of the baseball season, the sprouting of crocuses, the opening of windows and Farmer's Markets, and my birthday.  Now I have something else to look forward to: new episodes of Fringe.
Fringe has become one of my favorite shows, partially due to the fact that I've recently converted to JJ Abrams-ism, and mostly due to my deep and abiding affection for Joshua Jackson.  Any show that can, convincingly and perfectly, use "Single Ladies" as the backing track to a woman and her 9-year-old niece playing Operation is all right by me. 
But COMING APRIL 1!  We get to find out Peter's backstory.  It's been bugging Fringe viewers since mid-season 1, and the fact that they're putting it in Season 2 is awesome.  (As opposed to waiting 5 seasons and delivering it all in a vomit of backstory that washes over us in a wave and forces us to watch twice... LOST viewers you know what I'm talking about.  Seen "Ab Aeterno" yet?) 
What makes it more awesome is the casting of Orla Brady as Peter's mother and Walter's wife.  I've been wanting to know more about her (Mama Bishop) for a long time, and I love the actress.  She's both gorgeous and adorable - kind of like an Irish Audrey Hepburn.  Just timelessly pretty, with a voice like a viola.  And, as Colm Meaney's character in "The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns" says: "A figgur that'd make a monk cry."
Also, she's now the connecting link between Star Trek (TNG and DS9), The Mighty Ducks, Lord of the Rings and Nathional Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.
/end geekery

19 March 2010

Friday 5: Chit-Chat

This week, I will attempt to seriously answer the questions normal Americans usually cast no more than a passing comment at.

1) “Come here often?”
(assuming this happens at my local pub): "Every Sunday and Wednesday when I can afford it.  This place is my Cheers!" 
(Nod to Chatterbox Pub in Highland Park - karaoke twice a week from 8:30pm to 12:30 or whenever the manager asks us to leave.)

2) “What’s new?”
Not much, honestly.  Still attending karaoke every week, still living with a couple and their daughter, still making stuff with yarn and fabric. I'll be creating a few costumes for Urban Spectrum Theatre's dance and fashion production of "Alice in Wonderland"! I'm excited about it. The looks I'm working on will be on sale after the production, which is happening the weekend before the "Destination: Outer Space" premieres!
(No worries, blog followers! I'll keep you posted and let you know more in May!)

3) “[insert your recent weather condition here] enough for ya?”
Oh, we had a warm week!  I had my window open until last night when everything froze.  This is great!  It means the maple trees are running, and I'll have a quart of fresh syrup by Easter!

4) “How’s it hangin?”
Provided no one has knocked it down again? Well. I hope.

5) “How ’bout them [insert local sports team here]?”
Well, the Wild are doing okay, and the Twins are still in spring training. My sports brain turns "off" during March to avoid March Madness.

There you have it! Another week, another 5.

17 March 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sitting here, eating my leftover corned beef and cabbage from my triumphant batch last night, and wondering... what should I do to commemorate this, the only holiday that makes people immediately think of Ireland?

Etsy's blog, The Storque, put out a wonderful post of green items - green as in, wear it and you won't get pinched.  I thought about it, and I'm trying a different tack: I hit the "Shop Local" section, typed in "Ireland," hit "enter," and this is what I found.

Handmade Necklace green Silver Foil Beads by lindsaycrafts.
lindsaycrafts has a great selection of both jewelry and handspun yarn.
Eoin the Bear by TheIrishBearCo.
Complete with handknit Donegal wool sweater and handmade Donegal tweed pants!
French Vanilla Bridal Wrap by bonzie.
Leave it to Waterford to have a resident create something that exquisite.
An Irish Heart. Set of 5 Paper Baubles. by TanyaMac.
Too green to pass up here!
Owl on a stick mobile by ememem.
Her Galway shop just about melted my heart with all of its woollen critters!
Paddy the rat drinking Guinness in a quiet pub - 5x7 print of an original drawing by Tanya Bond from tanyabond's shop.
He looks like a regular - like he's there every night, and that's his usual.  Maybe it's women troubles...
Gran Canarian Heartsong by Lysulka.
Handknit and hand painted. If there's anything else Ireland is known for besides drinking, fighting, and not having snakes, please, please let it be lace making.
Want to give it a try yourself? Check out Shop Local - Ireland!

Did you know?
Corned beef, as we know it today in the US, is primarily our own doing as Irish Americans. Beef in Ireland was traditionally corned and shipped to the US as an export due to the prevalance of rented land by cattle farmers. Here in the US, beef was less expensive than the real Irish darling, bacon, and Irish immigrants salted the meat to preserve it and ate it instead.
In the UK, "corned beef" is known as "pickled beef," and is more like SPAM than the briskets we buy and eat for St. Paddy's.

As an added bonus, here's a quick recipe for corned beef, cabbage and stewed veggies.  Also known as "what I made last night that rocked my socks off."
In your pasta pot, put in:
about 2 lbs corned beef
1 large white onion, diced
3 carrots, sliced
3 stalks celery, sliced
2 white russet potatoes, diced (or 5 red potatoes, diced)
...and cover with water.  Spice to your liking - I used "pickling spices," which includes mustard seed, coriander and thyme, and added sea salt, parsley and peppercorns.
Bring to a boil, and simmer for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, slice up and add one half cabbage, remembering to take out the bitter core (learn from my mistake!), and simmer for another hour or two, or until cabbage is tender.  Take the brisket out and slice it.

Then eat, papa, eat!  Delicious and filling, as long as your watch out for peppercorns.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

12 March 2010

The Friday 5: Deadlines

It's finally Friday! Awesome. And, as a procrastinator, I'm going to be ashamed of my answers here, and I apologize to anyone who's had to put up with that.

1) When was the last time you had a serious deadline to make, and did you make it?
The last one I can think of is my Christmas dress. I made a dress to wear on Christmas Day and to midnight mass, so I had to have it done by the time I went to bed on the 23rd. I stayed up an extra hour after completion to re-make the collar because it was too high up on my neck. I ended up not going to bed until about 4am, but I finished the dress! And it looks amazing.

2) Do you generally plan for deadlines, or are they more likely to sneak up on you until you’re frantic?
More of the sneaking thing. I'm really not great with deadlines. And I feel like I disappoint folks when I do it, too.

3) When did you last set a deadline for someone else, and did that person make it?
I rarely set deadlines for other people unless absolutely necessary. Usually, they don't meet them, so I don't give myself any expectations.

4) How flexible and understanding are you when it comes to other people meeting your deadlines?
If I set a deadline, I typically allow for them to not make it. It's easier that way to be flexible.

5) What were the circumstances the last time you hung up on someone in the middle of a phone call, or the last time someone hung up on you in the middle of a phone call?
This one's usually due to frustration or disconnection.

There you have it - another week, another 5!

I want that coat: a costumer's journey.

Well, folks, as per my own personal usual, I have another project I've given myself: a new coat.

I love movies, television and miniserieses (miniserie? miniserum? miniserieses.) so much that I've fallen in lust with a few completely different coats. Living in Minnesota means I can never have too many coats, so it really only makes sense that I put forth a little time and effort to making my own. (In case you were wondering: a brown trench, a navy blue peacoat, a grey overcoat, a black overcoat, and a black and red ski jacket.)  I don't plan to be done until next fall or winter, but it's a good idea to get started now.

I'm starting with evaluating my favorite coats for what I like best. I've decided to exclude Malcolm Reynolds' Browncoat not because I don't like it, but because he's a boy, and I really love tailoring details. No worries, folks - some of my favorite detail of the Browncoat show up in some of the following, too.

This coat is from SyFy's "Alice", released near the end of last year. It looks absolutely gorgeous and comfortable, and, in the context of the story, it's a gift from Hatter to Alice, so it's kind of a big deal.
What I like about it:
- deep color: That purple is beautiful.
- fabric: It's very clearly velvet.
- cuffs: These wide and turned cuffs match the style of the coat beautifully.
- trim: The trim of this coat matches, but is a different texture, and highlights the edges of the coat quite nicely.
- buttons: I love huge buttons.
- flare: The bottom flares out a bit, allowing for a skirt.

This coat is a different Alice - Tim Burton's iteration, played by Mia Wasikowska. (Minor spoilers ahead.) This is the coat from the ending scene of the film, in which Alice is an explorer here, building upon her experiences in Wonderland. It's that same light blue color we're used to seeing on Alice, but its length, collar and style clearly state that she'll be standing on the deck of the ship, no matter what the weather.
What I like about it:
- collar: It's not the huge Elizabethan stand-up, but is instead that little bit of "just enough" and would easily accomodate a scarf.
- clean lines: The tailoring of this coat is GORGEOUS. It almost looks as if it has some corset style construction in the main body of it, and fits her body really well. It seems to follow the same lines as a "paletot," a type of mid-length coat from the mid-1800s.
- length: Long enough to cover a dress, short enough to stay off the ground. "Short Skirt, Long Jacket" indeed.  Also, the front appears to be slightly shorter than the back.
- flare: Following along with the 1800s nature of the costuming, the bottom of this coat clearly accomodates a skirt.
- buttons: Lots of 'em. They provide another clean line down the center.

Yeah, I went there. Kahlen from the "Legend of the Seeker" series. Say what you will about the show itself, but DAMN is the costuming fantastic! I knew I loved Kahlen's coats within the first fifteen minutes of the show.
What I like about them:
- hood: The hood is voluminous and fantastic. When up, it frames the face. When down, it forms the lapels and highlights the back of the coat.
- closure: Not buttons or a tie, but lacing and buckles.  I'm a big fan of the lacing on her white coat.  It's a lot of fun, though I think it would annoy me if I had to lace and unlace my coat all the time.  If I had a belt with a buckle like that to keep my coat closed, however...
- fabric: It does not matter if she's wearing her thicker green traveling coat or the thinner white Confessor's coat, the draping is absolutely fantastic.

This last coat is from another obscure source: NBC's "The 10th Kingdom", from the golden age of meniserieses in the late 90s. Virginia, the main character, wears this coat through most of the show. It's not talked about or even really mentioned at all - it's simply her constant and silent companion as she journeys through the Nine Kingdoms. I've been stuck on this coat for ten years.
What I like about it:
- buttons: They're huge, and they look to be vintage or handmade.  Who can go wrong?
- lapels: I'm stuck on the wide lapels, and the big buttons frame them really nicely.
- collar: It's very similar to the Alice the Explorer coat from above in that it's "just enough" of a collar. 
- liner: I adore this liner.  It's gorgeous.  It's like a little secret that the coat would love to share with you, but you had damn well better earn it.  It's like the bright orange liner in the Joker's purple coat from "The Dark Knight."  I'm not the only one who noticed that, right?
- trim: This coat, like the SyFy Alice coat, has a defined trim to it.  Instead of being the same color as the outer, the trim mirrors the color of the liner and provides just a bit more to the coat itself.
- fabric: Wonderful.  Looks to be a wool blend, mostly a grey-blue, but it does have hints of that burgundy from the liner.

Based on my favorites above, I've come to the following conclusions:
- fabric: A wool or wool blend or something tweedy, in a deep and rich color.  No, I haven't decided which yet, but I have ideas.
- collar: A little bit of stand-up like the Alice the Explorer coat.
- lapels: Wide, but able to come together to close up the coat.
- tailoring and trim: Trim in a complementary color, tailored to fit over a sweater underneath.
- flare and length: Thigh length with a bit of skirt flare to it.  I like having a coat that drapes.  Though I really love the swoop in the Alice the Explorer coat.
- liner: A fun and complementary color.  I have some wine-colored wool/lycra blend at home that is calling to be used for a project like this.
- cuffs: I love having turned-up cuffs.  I've never had them on a coat before, but I'd certainly love to.
- pockets.  Not really mentioned above, but a coat's got to have pockets.
Most of these ideas are the complete opposite of the Kahlen coats, so I'm considering making a Kahlen-styled cloak for use primarily at the Renaissance Festival, though with the ability to be used in the "real world."

Pattern Source Ideas:
Simplicity 3628 - Several styles of tailored jackets.  (I like the red one and the purple one.)
Simplicity 2581 - Long length, 1920s style historical coats.
Butterick 4954 - Historical pattern, pelisse style.
Vogue V8465 - I don't know why I'm so drawn to this one... but I am.
Butterick B5425 - Just about perfect.