Sunday, August 28, 2016

Getting A Little Crotch-ety With Pants Fitting

Remember these shorts that I loved sooooooo much this summer from Alina Design Co. and I made like a hundred pair?  And then I made a hundred skirts to match?

Well, she finally made my dreams come true and added pants as an option.  I say made my dreams come true, but even my wildest dreams did not include actually getting to test the pants pattern for her.  Or working through what you might describe as a pants fitting nightmare.

I believe I can speak for most women on the planet when I say finding pants that fit is next to impossible.  Every so often, you fall upon the PERFECT pair.  It fits just the way you want from the waist down.  It's a color that you love.  And people mention how great they look on you.

For most of us, this is almost a once in a lifetime experience.  Most of us are not built the way ready to wear (RTW) pants are meant to fit, so our bodies push and pull the fabric until they fit reasonably enough that we wear them and look presentable.  Have you ever noticed that a pair of pants you love manages to stick with you through slight weight gain and loss without looking too tight or too loose?  Fabric has a memory and you can make pants yours after a lot of wearing.  And chinos are made of cotton which can be a giving fabric.  To a point.

These Chitown Chinos shorts were the first shorts I'd ever made.  I had never done anything with an actual waistband or fly zip.  I've made pajama pants, leggings and some questionable linen pants with an elastic waist, so I've made things with legs, but never anything that fits like chino shorts or pants.

The instructions for the shorts were so great, I made some skirts with it and loved them just as much.

I thought full length pants in this same style would be amazing.  I already new what the waist would look like and how it would sit.  I already knew how to put in the zip fly.  And I thought I had some perfect fabric for capris just dying to be made.

I knew there was more to pants than just taking your favorite shorts and drawing the legs straight down and calling it a day.

But oh, I had no idea.

I'll share this pattern testing experience with you because until you've done it, you don't know what you're getting into.

First, we had to join a secret group on facebook.  Since I have a business page for On Aunt Mildred's Porch, I couldn't join this private group with that account, so I created an account just for sewing related things.   Shocking that I would have a personal account, I know.

Once we joined, we were able to download the expansion pack for the pattern.  I already had the PDF for the shorts and skirt, so I just had to get the pantlegs and SURPRISE, the welt pockets pieces.  This was a total shock to me.

Welt pockets are something we just take for granted in chinos/khakis and it never occurred to me that we would use them in this pattern.

I'll be back another day to rave about the welt pocket, but I will say here that it might be my new favorite part of the pattern.  It truly is a magic trick, so come back later and I'll tell you all about it.

I went into this thinking it was going to be a breeze.  I thought I'd print it, make sure there were not grammatical or spelling errors in the text and make sure all of the pieces lined up and then be on my merry way to making 100 of these before school starts.

My friends, making pants with other people in a group, albeit online and not in the same room, is not for the feint of heart.  Once people made their muslins (remember, that's the test pair where you make all of your adjustments before cutting in to the real fabric), they started posting pictures to the group.

People mostly post from the waist down so I have no faces to associate with all of the butts  I saw.   

We saw mostly unfinished products at first, with lots of pins hold things together or people actually holding their waists closed.  The purpose is to start seeing how people follow the directions and what happens in all different sizes.

These pictures are not about beauty.  I was surprised at first and then realized how useful all of these pictures were for seeing what needs to be changed for good fit.

We saw all manner of butts and crotches.  Crotches too low, crotches too loose, center seams that dragged crotches into places I didn't think they could go.

I think almost every post had the word crotch in it.

We saw fabric pulling, puckering, sagging, bagging.

We saw the craziest fabrics.  Sometimes two completely ridiculous fabrics together just because this was the test pair and never to be worn for real.

And people started throwing out all sorts of jargon like "Thin Thigh Adjustments" and "Dropping the Back Crotch" and "Scooping Out the Crotch Curve" and "Full Tummy Adjustments" and "Flat Butt Adjustments".

They used special acronyms:  SA (seam allowance), FBA(flat butt adjustment but it will always be full butt in my head which is completely the opposite), RTW(ready to wear).

I suddenly realized I needed some Cliff's Notes and STAT because I didn't know any of this stuff.

How did my favorite shorts that I thought looked so fantastic on me translate to"too much fabric under booties"???

Where I cut the fabric to make the shorts hit where I like on my thigh is just about the place that all hell can break loose when making pants.  This was becoming a project I hadn't expected.

And then there are the knees.  You have to have enough room in the knees to be able to sit and bend but not so much that they bag.  But how much is too much?  I'm still not sure I have the answer to that question.

I learned how the slightest adjustments in the crotch can make a huge difference in the amount of tight or loose fabric all over the legs.   I saw people post pictures and other people would coach them on what to do to solve a problem and it was amazing to see what simple changes can do.

And how much people know or don't know. 

I also learned that I have a habit of mixing up all of the jargon and posting questions that no one is sure how to answer because I've mashed it together.

I made my muslin on a weekend and didn't have time during the week for the next pair, so during the week, I watched what everyone did and read all of the suggestions.  Most of them blurred together in my head because they were not suggestions for my actual pants on my actual body.

By the time I started my next pair, it was very close to the deadline and I didn't think I'd need too many changes because the muslin pair were not all that bad.  There were some suggestions on the pictures I put up that I planned to use.

I went down a size with different fabric and made my attempt at a thin thigh adjustment and dropping the crotch in the back.  And then I had a total nightmare because the legs kept twisting at the knees and looked awful.  Someone made a suggestion and I tried it and it mostly fixed the problem.  

In the end, I managed to get a pair of pants I will actually wear.  I probably would not have persisted at trying to get the fit right on my own, so being in the test group was great for me.  I have the patience of a flea and ripping out seams and trying on pants for the 100th time are not things I enjoy doing. Working on the final pair was a real challenge because I had to take out several large seams several times.

If I had been able to work on them during the week, I would have gotten some super one on one suggestions from people and now I know for the future what a timeline for pattern testing is like.  The community feel is really neat and the comments and suggestions were all very on point.  No one said mean things, no one got off topic and everyone truly worked to solve the pants fitting dilemmas that we all had.

And  though the final pants are tapered and far shorter than I usually wear pants, apparently I will be among the high fashion crowd when I wear them this fall.

Tune in later for an actual picture of the pants in daylight since it was late night when I finished my final test pair and dim light will do nothing for them.

The final part of the testing is for everyone to post their final presentable pictures in nice fabrics, wearing shoes, in daylight.  They look great and so many people took the suggestions to heart and really made them fit their bodies.  I can't wait for you to be able to see some pictures when the pattern releases.

Now Alina takes all of the comments, suggestions and common issues and whittles it down into a pattern that will go out to the masses.  I'm excited because she will make some adjustments that I am still not clear how to make, so when the new pattern is ready, I will make another pair and see how they fit.

And then I can make my 100s.

I would love to test a pattern again but I think I might not volunteer so quickly for pants since I know so little about all of the fitting possibilities!  I'm thinking loose fitting kaftans might be the way to go.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Eat Some Real Pumpkin And Get Back to Me

I was at the grocery today and saw this and realized it's time for another rant on "pumpkin" flavored everything.

If you're too lazy to read any further, here's my point:  if you're looking for pumpkin flavor, what you are probably really looking for is pumpkin PIE flavor.  And what you really want is probably cinnamon, nutmeg and maybe cloves.

And, before you leave, if you look at most of the things that are "pumpkin flavored" it says right on it that it's artificial flavor.

So, for those who are too busy to keep reading, think about what you're actually drinking or eating the next time that you buy a pumpkin flavored item.  Take a look at the ingredients.  Think about whether or not that's really something you want to consume or give your growing children.  Toodaloo.

For the rest of you who want to see where this goes, let's get moving.

Have you ever actually had a piece of pumpkin?  Not from a can, I mean from an actual pumpkin.  As in, you took a pumpkin, baked or roasted it, peeled off the skin and then ate it?

Probably not.  Because really, pumpkin itself isn't at all what pumpkin pie tastes like.  Remember, pumpkin is a squash.  Like acorn squash, butternut/winter squash, etc.

And generally, we do not crave a snack and think "ah yes, a nice, plain piece of squash would really hit the spot right now".

I'd love for you pumpkin lovers to try that.  Are you still there?  Eat a piece of cooked pumpkin.  Put a piece in your unflavored coffee, even, and tell me about how much you still LOVE pumpkin flavored stuff.

I would bet your face would tell us all what a grave disappointment you've just experienced.

Pumpkin can be really tasty when you add a little butter or sugar and the proper spices to make it a side dish for supper.  Roast it, bake it, broil it (boil it if you have to but I've stopped boiling vegetables because they lose so much flavor).  It will still be squash like, and maybe a little sweet, depending on what you add in, but it's not something you usually would think would flavor up your latte in the morning and make you think of fall. 

If you're eating it with the  main meal, you aren't expecting it to be super sweet and spiced up.

Now, pumpkin pie?  That's an entirely different story.  Pumpkin pie is make with sugar and spices, sometimes with sweetened, condensed milk, depending on your recipe.  And it's sweet and really good.

And when you want a snack, pumpkin pie probably would hit the spot.

It makes me really sad that mass marketing has so brainwashed people into thinking that a) pumpkin flavor means fall and b) what you're eating and drinking is really pumpkin flavor.

If they admit that it's artificially flavored, then you're not even experiencing the flavors that make a real pumpkin pie!  It just more fakety fake fake stuff that you're putting into your body and missing out on the real stuff.

I mentioned canned pumpkin earlier and probably made it sound like that was also a bad choice.  Since it's rare to find fresh pumpkin in stores, I have no issue with canned pumpkin for pies or breads, but just beware that when you open the can, unless it says "pie ready" or something like that, it has no flavor added in.  It's just boiled pumpkin pureed and canned.   No sugar, no spices.

My family had first hand experience with the plain canned pumpkin in a pie twice when my grandmother completely forgot to put in the spices.  It was such a let down to get ready for a nice piece of pie, wonder why it wasn't really smelling as awesome as it should, and then everyone started doing that slow chew, fork in mid air, what is wrong with this pie dance.

Twice, I tell you.

To finish my little rant, I have to point out that today is August 17th.  AUGUST.  Is August part of fall?

No, I just checked.   August falls distinctly in summer, no matter where you look up seasons in the US.  Yes, in the southern hemisphere it's a different story, I know.  But even you are not looking at fall when you are in August.  You're looking toward spring!

So, why am I seeing this display in AUGUST?  Why are people jumping up and down with glee on social media because various coffee shops are already selling their spiced pumpkin lattes and pumpkin coffees?

We haven't even started school yet in my neck of the woods, and as I type it's 85 degrees and I'm DYING.

I assure you, this is not fall.

So, let's recap.  All of you who run around saying you love pumpkin?  You're going to open a can of canned pumpkin, not pie ready, and try some in your coffee tomorrow.  You're going to report back to us and tell us how wise I am.

Or even better you're going to find out that you end up liking actual pumpkin (even from a can) and you can't even imagine what that crap is they have been selling you and you'll start a new trend of adding canned pumpkin to everything and call it "pumpkin" flavored whatever.

But you'll be telling the truth.  And then it will spread and all of the pumpkin farmers will see a boom in demand and there will be pumpkins growing everywhere.

I just ask you to PLEASE wait until the end of September, when fall really starts.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Summer The Chino Bug Bit Me

So, I've been a little busy this summer with the Chitown Chinos shorts and skirt pattern from Alina Design Co.  I first saw something about it on instagram when someone was pattern testing and the look of the shorts was exactly what I like in a pair of shorts, so I bought the pattern as soon as it was available.  It was a little lengthy and my first foray into the world of pants.  I quickly figured out the length of the directions was just the great wording of the details and why each step was necessary for great results.  I really like how Alina wrote the directions because just when I wondered why I would do something, the next paragraph told me why!

The zippper was my biggest fear but the pattern explains how to do it so well, it's completely painless.

In case zippers really scare you, I'll tell you that in this pattern, you do it way before you've joined the front to the back, so you're only dealing with the two pieces of the front.  No bulk, nothing to move out of the way.

This pattern is something you should try if you have done some sewing.  If you have never sewn, I would not suggest starting here because it can look overwhelming with all of the many steps and details for the finished product.

I thought I had been posting all about these shorts and skirts all summer until I realized the only one I posted was this one, my muslin pair. I explain a lot about the actual making of them there.  I really liked this pattern right from the beginning, so after I made this pair and realized my ridiculous mistake with the darts, I went to Joann fabrics and bought several pieces of material to make some shorts and skirts.

And I bought the zippers to go with them which meant it was real.  No buying fabric and leaving it in a pile for later.

The best part of this pattern is that it takes so little fabric.  And for someone on the short side, even less fabric.  I think if I buy a yard, I have plenty leftover, especially if I use different fabric for the pockets and facings and if there is not right or wrong direction.  Directional patterns or pattern matching would take more fabric, I would imagine.

So, I give you my vast collection of Chitown Chinos shorts and skirts.

I saved my favorite skirt and shorts for the end, so if I'm boring you, just skip right down.  I'll have lots of anecdotes along the way, so you might miss out if you jump right to the bottom!

My muslin turned out very wearable and I have worn them several times even though the zipper became velcro and the darts don't exist.  I have enough of that fabric that I could probably make more, and maybe even a skirt, but enough's enough, right?

Plus, I'm holding out for a potential pants version which I could make into capris and that fabric would be great for capris, right?  Especially a wearable muslin capri.

I wore these to a "paint night" at the Cultural Center and one of the artists saw me in the parking lot and said "Oh, I see you've got your paint shorts on!"  I didn't know what she meant, so I kind of smiled and then later she said "oh, those are FLOWERS.  I thought they were paint smudges"

Not even sure how to deal with that comment.  I laugh every time I wear them now.

On with the show.  You can click on any picture to enlarge it so you can see some of the details.  That's especially helpful if you are thinking you want to make them but you aren't sure about some things. 

This was supposed to be a cute, whimsical skirt that I was going to make this way and then make another with the other side of the fabric because it was hard to tell which way was the right way.  It turned out to be a total beeeeyotch and would not hold a crease.  It's deceptively thick but also rolls, my machine wasn't a fan of it and when I couldn't get the creases to stay, I was furious.

I was even more furious when I went down a size, realized this fabric had NO GIVE WHATSOEVER and had to put it on my etsy to save my sanity.

I made another one in my actual size but I'm still not loving the fit.  I love the fabric color and it's cute but I will NOT use what I have left for anything in the near future.

I'm showing the inside and outside of each because I used different fabric for all of the pockets and on one skirt, I used different fabric for the facings too.  I love how the inside fabrics are a surprise and I feel so professional every time I see it!

On instagram, we call it #prettyguts.

Also, the thinner cotton or rayon reduces bulk.  Some of the fabrics are thick enough that pockets of the same material would have added a lot of thickness around my hips.

I try to avoid thickness at my hips, at all costs.

For each piece, I tried to find a button that either matched perfectly or added some detail.  I  have, like so many of us, a container of random buttons that I've found, cut off of things going into the trash or kept from purchased clothes that give you an extra button  just in case.  I'm happy to say I didn't have to buy a single button!

Since I now have On Aunt Mildred's Porch tags, I tried to remember to put one in every piece.  It's something I forgot almost every time and would remember at the very last second.  None of them are in straight, but they are all in, so that's a win.  They are sew in tags and can't go on after the fact, so I just have to get used to thinking ahead of time when I will need to put them in.

Adding a tag makes me feel like they are not frumpy and homemade.  The tags also confuse me and make me think the size will be listed there too, which is ridiculous.

 I ended up using a variety of sizes and I'm getting to the point where I can't remember which I did bigger or smaller.  So, I think "oh, I'll just look at the tag".

This skirt was the last one I made, so I had learned a few things by then.  It is a twill and probably the heaviest, stiffest twill I have ever touched.  I realized there was no give at all, so I went up a size in this and that was a great decision.  This also has a very specific direction to the nap, like a corduroy, so I had to be careful about making sure I got it right.

Also, it's a magnet.  I have managed to collect every thread, cat hair, piece of grass imaginable.  I'd like to think over time it might soften and somehow attract less cat hair but I suspect this skirt will label me a crazy cat lady. 
This is the only piece where I used the same lighter fabric for the waistband facings and the pockets.  There was no way that a) my machine was going to like going through so much bulk at the waist if I used the same twill or b) my waistline was going to look good with that bulk.  This was a GREAT decision.

I also went a little longer with the length and did a double stitch on the hem.  I did a great job with the topstitching on this, I'm not afraid to brag, but it matches way too well, so no one will notice my precision.

What I love about this pattern is the details.  It takes longer and you might question why you are working so hard at something that people might not see if you don't tuck in your shirts (because I rarely tuck them in) but it really makes them sit different and look really good.  DO NOT skimp on all of the details in the pattern.

When I bought this denim fabric, I expected it to be heavier, and even when I felt it, I thought it was heavy, so I bought "jeans thread" to go with it.  It's that certain color you see in RTW jeans that you can't seem to replicate with the regular yellows, and it's a little thicker.

This fabric did not need a thick thread, so it wobbled a lot and wasn't so great on the inside.  The outside is fine.

I haven't shown you any backs but on all of the skirts, this is  how I did my pockets.  I was going to put flaps like I did on all of my shorts but I can't remember why I didn't on the first one, and I just kept them off for the rest.

I'm sure it was a bulk thing.

I also didn't do belt loops on any of the skirts but I did on all of the shorts.

These shorts are a great color but the fabric isn't as heavy as I think it should be for this style.  It's a bottom weight from Joann but it's almost like a linen.  It really wrinkles by the end of the day.

On all of my shorts, I did flaps on the pockets with contrasting fabric on the inside of the flaps, just as I did on the insides.

And now, my favorite pair of shorts.  The weight of this denim is just perfect and they are slightly darker than they look here.  When I first saw the flowers, I wasn't sure it was going to look that great.  

I think I had jeans like this when I was in elementary school which I later thought were stupid, but as shorts, this fabric is fantastic.

For all of my shorts, I did a 3.5 inch hem.  I think the pattern suggests longer, and I've seen them longer on some people on instagram, but this is the length I prefer in my shorts.  I took a pair of RTW chino shorts that I love and used them to figure out the length.

It's here that I need to tell you a funny little story.  I have read this pattern now a million times.  Before using it the first time, I went over it with a fine toothed comb.  Every time I put in a zipper, I thought it was so strange that one side was never mentioned.  I managed to sew it down along the way, but in one pair, I had to go in and whipstitch it by hand because it was swinging in the breeze.

With all of the details that were so great, I couldn't believe this side of the zipper was supposed to just go free.

And then, on the very last skirt, I happened to see this paragraph at the top.  Explaining how to do that other side.

How on earth I missed it, I can't tell you.  And how I managed to secure every zipper by accident,  except for one, is also a mystery.

If there wasn't some ridiculous tidbit every time I show you something new that I've sewn, you'd be reading the wrong blog.  It's kind of my job, I guess.  Screw it up somewhere along the line and tell you so you don't do the same thing.

Here are some pictures of how they look on me.  And from what I've seen, how they look on everyone else.

And now, for my favorite skirt.

This is a print I've seen on instagram several times, and only after I had it at home did I realize it had a slight stretch.  It's a sateen.  I'm told there's also a linen of this exact print, but I hadn't seen it.  And I'm not always a lover of linen because I make it look like I've slept in it about 3.5 seconds after I've put it on.
Had I realized it was slightly stretchy, I would have actually gone down a size.  By the end of the day, it's fairly loose at the waist.

All of my skirts are 8 inches from the bottom of the zipper except the black twill one.  That is meant to be 9 inches but I think it's more like 8.5.  Some hems are fairly wide like this and some are narrower, like my black one, depending on the mood that hit me at the time and how much length I had available. 

So, I have made a promise to my wallet that there will be no more shorts or skirts for a while.  I have no need, my closet is full.

If I added up what I spent in total, I'd say that I spent no  more than $10 per piece because I got some good deals, there isn't a lot of fabric necessary and all of the inside fabrics, buttons and most thread were already in my stash.

But if those pants get released, I'll be all over it.

Linking here:

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Running An Asylum, Or A Campground

Growing up in a seasonal campground, I have answered the phone since I was about 8 and knew the "no tents allowed" refrain way before I understood town by-laws.  The town says no, so we don't push it.

Though we must lose a TON of money every summer having to turn away tenters.  It seems every other phone call is for a tent.  And they are absolutely shocked that we don't have tent sites.  Like it's a personal affront to them.

Everyone else can have a tent, but I chose you to be the unlucky one who can't come.

And then they ask if there's anywhere nearby that does.  I have a serious issue sending business elsewhere, even if it's because I can't service them myself, and thanks to google, I don't have to.  I just tell them to google tents sites on Cape Cod and they'll find something.  They don't usually like that answer but it's just as easy as me spelling something for them and giving them a number.  Plus, who has a pen and paper handy to take down that information anymore?

Some are persistent, so I give them the two state parks which  are equally nowhere near ours.  And then they yell at me that it's so far from where they want to be.

Then fork over the cash for a pricey hotel room or house, like everyone else.

My parents were away recently, and the calls were forwarded to my house.  So, I had the privilege of answering calls, pretty much at any hour, for a week or so.  11pm to ask for a campsite?  Sure.  Arguing with me at 9:30pm because we don't allow you in?  Why not.

Remember when I said I've been answering the phone my entire life?  I thought I'd heard it all.  Like, seriously, how many more ways can a person ask to reserve a site?

And then I got this call:


Umm, yeah, hi, umm how much would it be if I brung my own tent?

I should have just hung up there because seriously "if I brung my own tent???"

But, out of sheer curiosity, I hung on to see what would come next.

And because I needed some blog fodder.

We don't have tent sites.

Oh, ok, but what if I brung my own?

Yeah, we don't have tent sites.

Ok, but how much is it to stay in a tent.

We don't have tent sites.  Like, umm, we don't allow them..  NO TENTS.

looooooooooong pause....Oh, ok.  Are there any places that do?

No, not that I know of.  Hee hee.  Like not in the entire world.  There are no places that allow tents.

And then there was a couple who rents this swanky house in the summer because we live in such an idyllic place, and they stay in their motorhome.  They didn't have a tent, so it should have been smooth sailing.  They just wanted to stay for the night and since they have a house in Swanksterville, I said it was fine.

We don't usually allow locals because they aren't usually renting out swanky houses.  They are usually going from winter to summer to winter rental and it's not pretty.   They load up the Clampett mobile and everyone and the dog moves in the for the summer and they end up taking over way more than their one site allows and it's just a headache.

And we just aren't that kind of place.  Two weeks and then it's au revoir until next year.  We are a seasonal vacation destination, not a residential trailer park.

But Swanksterville is too pricey for me to even enter the town so I knew this was no winter rental situation and when she drove in, she had a lovely motorhome that was exactly what I pictured one needs to own if one comes from Swanksterville.

She pulled in all cheery and I could see a million things jammed into this motorhome, clothes hanging all over the place.  I got a little nervous.  Maybe she was an imposter.  She wasn't swanky, she just lied to get in!

Who am I kidding, we are not that much of a hot commodity.

Out popped a tiny woman with crazy white hair, in her one piece bathing suit.  Who runs around in just a bathing suit?  Excuse me, who drives a motorhome around in a one piece bathing suit.  It's just bizarre.  There are rules for bathing suits.  If you're in the beach parking lot, driving the one mile home from the parking lot, walking the one mile to the beach, then parading around in your bathing suit is fine.

You do not go to the store in your bathing suit, you don't clean your house for renters and then drive 8 miles in your motorhome in your bathing suit and for God's sake, you don't ever get into any argument with someone while you're in just your bathing suit.  Not that it's every happened to me, but I think you would be about as vulnerable in your bathing suit as you would be if you were naked.

It would have been funny if she'd started arguing with me, though.

So, out she popped and her first words as she looked around the driveway were Oh, Harry isn't here yet, huh?

Not that I know of....  Harry is a.......

Man.  Driving a white Volvo.  Oh, he does this.  He gets lost.  He's such a scatterbrain.  He doesn't follow directions.

She kept looking around like Harry was hiding his Volvo under one of the trucks or behind a building.

So, he's not here.  Oh dear.

I felt like I was reading a novel.  A breezy summer beach read where the main characters are airheads who have too much money and run around in bathing suits and do ditzy things like get lost on an island.

Meanwhile she kept sticking her fingers along the legs of her suit to try to straighten it out like you do when you first get out of the water.  Except it was loose enough to almost be hanging so no adjustments were necessary.  But she kept tugging at it looking less and less sure of what was happening.

She was small enough that I was towering over her, which says a lot.

I encouraged her to come in and register and let's get this circus underway.  As she frolicked up the brick walkway, I realized she was completely empty handed which meant she had no way to pay because Harry must hold the purse strings.

Harry who is blindly driving around wondering where his wife went with their swanky motorhome filled with everything the renters wouldn't be allowed to use in their house this week.

All the tugging on that bathing suit wasn't producing the jackpot she needed.

She came in and registered but of course, had to confess, that Harry must be going to the bank and she couldn't pay right now but she would come up first thing tomorrow.

Fine, or even when Harry gets here tonight, I suggested.  No response.

As she skipped back down the walkway, she reminded me  Harry drives a white Volvo and he would probably drive through a few times looking for the place.

Can't wait.  I'll catch him on the 3rd or 4th round.

But my week was made when I got this phone call:


Oh hi, (very boisterous accent, very loud, already thinks he owns the place) yeah, I'd like to book a site for tonight for a large SUV and a boat.

Did he just say BOAT?  He wants to park his BOAT in a trailer park?  Has the heat already gotten to my brain?

Oh, sorry, you need to have a trailer or motorhome.

Oh, that's ok, I can just stay in my large SUV.

Oh, no, sorry, you can't.

Why?  I can't park my boat there like a a trailer and stay in my large SUV?


No, seriously, why can't I do that?

Because this isn't a marina.

But, really, I can 't stay there?  You're seriously telling ME that I can't pay you to park my boat and my large SUV in your campground?  Why? (his teachers must have LOVED his unending questions)

Yes,  Robert DeNiro, I am telling YOU that you can't stay.  See, you have a large SUV.  If it was a small SUV and a boat, no problem.

Because you have to have a shower and a toilet inside your motorhome or trailer.

Ooooooooooh, cool, I get it.  Thanks.

Camping brings out the most peculiar side of humanity and every summer, I get to witness it first hand!

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Monday, August 8, 2016

An Overabundance of Greenies

With 3 cats, I go through a lot of cat food.  When they were still kittens, everything was going along fine until one or all of them ended up with  digestion issue.  I spent most of the fall trying to figure out what was going on.   And cleaning up a lot of messy cat boxes.

I took them to the vet and had a bunch of tests nothing was coming up. but my bank account was quickly depleting.

Eventually, I narrowed it down to just one cat but what was the cause?

They lived on boiled chicken and rice for about a month and LOVED it.  I'd blend it into like a pate and they thought this was the life.  But,  I worried they weren't getting all of the nutrients that little cats need and I could not face the idea of being a kitty chef for the rest of their lives.  I had to get back to cat food and figure out what was causing the bad stomach.

Finally, I decided the one thing that was in every food I gave them was grain, so I went with a grain free variety called Nutrisca.  At the time, this was easy to get at my grocery store, and sometimes I was lucky enough to get it on sale.  It was super expensive and I shook my head every time I bought it because I could not believe I had cats with some kind of grain intolerance.

Other grain free varieties still bothered one of them, so I also think maybe it's something beyond the grain.

I tried finding it cheaper online and couldn't and then discovered it's rarely available anywhere.  This worried me because it was the ONLY thing that stopped everyone's bowel issues and that they seemed to like.  I had to stockpile it in case my store stopped carrying it.

But these gangster cats can smell it from a mile away, so I can't have the bags anywhere where they can get to them.  They will gnaw right into it, even with a bowl full of it in front of them.  I don't want to have a big barrel of food in my house like I'm running a barn.

So, I carried bags of it around in my car.  Seriously.

And then, it happened.

I ran out.  And none of the stores nearby carried it. 

I went with another choice which seems to be tolerated but I still wanted to go back to the Nutrisca because it had such  great results.

I found it on for a slightly reasonable price for a 13 pound bag.  Along with it, I got some Greenies because my vet suggested them for tartar control.  I already had a container, but thought a back up would be good since those also are not in my local stores.

When the box arrived, I could hear kibble rolling around and the cats were extremely excited about the box.  I knew this was a bad sign.  When I opened it, the bag was sliced open and kibble was everywhere.

The cats couldn't believe their good fortune that a buffet was now set up in the living room.

I got right online with amazon and they said they would replace the bag because it wasn't returnable.  This made me really happy because that meant an extra 13 pound bag for free :)

But, along with that bag came another container of Greenies!  I guess she just put the whole order through again, not just that one item.

So now, not only do I have to store 26 pounds of cat food, I also have 3 containers of Greenies that these fools are trying to get into on a regular basis.

A good problem to have, but a puzzle, nonetheless.

These cats are only a year old, so there are many years of food ahead of us and I have no idea what I'm going to do. 

I was not paid to do a review of Nutrisca but since I am running a feline circus over here, I'd love to do a paid review or be paid in dry cat food :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

My Love Affair With the Greenwood Tank

It's been so hot and humid for the past few weeks, sewing hasn't really been something I've wanted to do even though I've had lots of sewing plans on my radar.  The very same sewing room that freezes me to my death in the winter is nothing but an oven after 12 pm most summer days.

However, desperation and a slight dip in humidity and temperatures brought me to the Greenwood Tank which I had bought but sort of forgot about.  After making a series of chitown chinos shorts and skirts, I realized I didn't have any summer tops that really go with them.  Not too smart on my part.

I have the Just A Tank pattern that I used to draft these dresses, but this wasn't the neckline I was going for.  And then I remembered the Greenwood tank from straightstichdesigns

I've always been worried about this kind of bound edge because I am very bad at catching both the top and bottom when I topstitch.  But, as I went, I got better at it.

I bought some knit fabrics from imaginegnats in the spring, and they've been burning a hole in my sewing table all summer.  One of the reasons I've waited is because my serger thread was pink and all of my knits are dark so....

I used it for the first tank I made since it was my muslin and I figured I'd wear it as a workout top, so who cares.  Then I bit the bullet and rethreaded that effing machine with dark thread since I also plan to make a couple of dark colored skirts when I'm done.

What's nice about this tank is that it's literally just a front and back piece and 3 strips for the bindings.  There are two views of the neckline and I chose to use the same piece for the front and back because I just don't like high backs on tank tops.

These two tops are VERY different weights and I especially love the lighter blue on the left.  I thought that was going to perfectly go with the denim rose shorts I just made, but it didn't look right, so I had to make one more!

This darker blue looked much better with the shorts.  But this one gave me fits.

While this one has the best top stitching and hem, there's something wrong with either the neckline or the binding on one side and I spent an entire day pulling up the strap to cover my bra strap.  The other two are not like that, so I am certain it's operator error.

Speaking of hems, I have a very hard time with hems on knits.  I've tried double needles and just one needle.  I've watching a million videos.  And I was convinced it was my machine the other day when I tried and tried and could not get a hem with any give, no matter the needles, the tension or the stitch.

It pushed me to tears because the hem is necessary to look finished but the thread kept popping!  How can I make a nice piece and then not hem it or hem it by hand????

Then I watched one more video about double needles and decided to try rolling my hem up twice to give it something to actually sew through.

That's the inside with the double needle and that seemed to be much better.    With a loose dress bottom it's not such a big deal because the dresses is flowy and not tight but when you're wearing a shirt, putting it on and taking it off puts a lot of stress on that bottom hem.

I need a coverstitch machine to solve all of my problems, obviously.

But even a coverstitch machine would not take the dimwit out of my sewing room.  Lately, I've been putting my labels in my clothes, but remembering to put them in before I finish them is quite a challenge.  These labels need to be sewn into a seam, not applied afterwards, so if I miss my window, I can't put them in.

I was really good about putting them in and then I did this.

I put it in backwards.  And upside down.  But I really liked the topstitching so I wasn't willing to undo all of my good work.  No one will see it anyway.

And this was the shirt with the strange one side, which part way through the conference I was attending I turned around, thinking maybe my other side might be a different shape and work better.  It did fit slightly better, but I knew the tag was in the front for the rest of the day.  And it distracted me.  A lot!

I definitely like this pattern and it gives you enough space with the binding that you can catch both sides if you pin it and go slowly.  Two things I don't love to do.

Bo is ever so helpful while I sew.  He doesn't usually do anything except lay on what I just cut out, but taking a cue from Daisy, he decided to sit right on my arm as I was trying to make the first tank.  At one point, his tail was wrapped around my arm.

I'm a little late to the Greenwood Tank party as I look at all of the posts on instagram and they are from last year, but if you're looking for a quick and easy tank, this is it!

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Monday, July 18, 2016

A Variation on Shrimp Tacos

I posted about Shrimp Tacos around this time last year but I've recently edited the recipe and like it much better.

The first recipe called for mangoes and they aren't all that easy to come by here.  They are expensive and I worry about all of the chemicals they've seen on their long journey.

Instead, I used peaches since it's high peach season and I can get them locally.

The original recipe also calls for so much butter I can't even write the amount.  I never made it with that much butter, even when I did it with mangoes.

So, here's the new and improved version.  This fed two people for supper  with a small amount left for lunch the next day.  The amount of shrimp left was really not worth bothering, so if you are feeding the masses, figure on doubling or tripling this recipe.  The salsa gets better with age, so plan to make more!

2 lbs of shrimp
2-3 peaches
bunch of cilantro
a medium onion- to your liking
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 limes
honey for drizzling
shredded cabbage- I used the bagged kind but you could shred
about a half a cabbage
cheese of your choice- I used jack because it's what I had
burrito wraps

Make the salsa first so the flavors can start blending:

Dice the peaches, onion and cilantro.  Add cumin, juice of both limes and sugar to your liking.  Depending on how much lime juice you get, you might need to adjust.

Cook the shrimp however you cook it.  I use nothing but the water I've rinsed them with.

When cooked, chop the shrimp and drizzle with a little honey.

On each burrito wrap, place some cabbage, shrimp, salsa and cheese.  Roll and eat.  So good but soooooo drippy and messy so  have lots of napkins handy!

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