Tuesday, May 31, 2011


While away at college, I came across a shirt on modcloth that I instantly fell in love with.  I favorited it and saved a picture of it just in case it disappeared.  It went out of stock and is no longer online anywhere that I can find, and my picture of it that I saved won't load here, so I have only brain waves to send out, comparing the shirt to my version of it.  The modcloth shirt was slightly sheer, with increasingly deep horizontal pleats and a black peter pan collar.  It wasn't long before I was spending more time daydreaming about sewing this shirt than I was spending on classwork.  When I went fabric shopping a few weeks ago this was the first thing I picked up.  It's mint green chiffon and I'm not really sure how to wash it, but I'll ford that river when I get there.  

I spend a good deal of time doing math to insure that the pleats worked out well.  When I got around to doing the rest of the math, I decided it would be easier just to trace a tshirt that fit well.  Note: bad idea.  Ordinarily that might have been fine, but I used a knitted shirt.  Knit stretches.  
I've never been so precise before when sewing things.  I measured each and every pleat to the 1/8th of an inch, every 2-3 inches across.  Most of the front and back pleats ended up matching, and there's no strange drooping, so I'd say the extra effort was worth it.  
Once I finished the pleats, I quickly sewed the front and back pieces together, to find that I could barely get the shirt on.  I had to cut a slit into the back to get my head through the neck.  It was extremely tight over my chest and lower half of my stomach, and it was short.  The top pleat was supposed to be at armpit level, and instead flops uselessly around where the bottom of the collar lies.  On any other project, this collection of problems would have been enough for the shirt to be wadded up in the bottom of my sewing box.  I would've revisited it in a year, mangled it further, and then turned it into something useless.  However, I'd been dreaming of this for too long and wasn't about to give up that easily.  
I took narrow strips of the remnants to create 2-inch wide strips of pleating, and picked out all of the side stitching.  Then I sewed my strips into the sides, adding a grand total of 2 inches, with seam allowances, to my shirt.  I slipped it back on, to find that it fit nicely over my chest and hips, and ballooned out strangely in the middle.  Maybe I am a girl after all.  I went back in and took a half an inch back out on each seam where the ballooning was occurring, and that seemed to fix that problem.  I neck hole I widened, and a snap made the extra slit into a loop that maybe could be on purpose, and is covered by the collar anyway.  I decided I could live with the other problems.  
And so, after a very long time, it is done.  I added a removable collar that I drafted off of the neckline.  I'm thinking about doing a tutorial on the collar, but I haven't decided if it should be over drafting your own collar, or specifics of sewing a peter pan collar.  

My wonderful brother took pictures for me this time.  He's pretty much awesome.

My Favorite Rant

If you ever get a chance to go to a trombone ensemble concert, do it.  I feel like trombones are under-appreciated.  It's a shame, because the trombone is such a versatile instrument.  They can be brash and brassy, harsh, and dominating, or they can be soft and sweet.  They can play band music, orchestra pieces, jazz, blues, pop, classical; the list goes on.  The sounds that come out of a well played trombone are glorious, and they're not bad to watch, either.  They're a really visual instrument, which makes the experience of seeing them live all the more entertaining.  If you can't tell, I've a bit in love with the instrument.

On Sunday the Boyfriend and I went to see the Chicago Trombone Consort's spring concert, and it was wonderful. They played ten pieces, and they were all well done.  Well, they are some of the best trombone players around.  My favorite piece of the day was their rendition of Franz Biebel's Ave Maria.  This piece was nothing short of angelic.  I wanted it to never end.  I don't care that my friends think I'm a dork for spending my Sunday afternoon in a chapel half filled with old people, listening to small ensembles of orchestral music; trombone music makes me feel both energized and peaceful simultaneously.  I wish there were more opportunities to hear it.

This was the concert closer.  To vaguely quote some random guest professor who spoke in my humanities class this year, "This is not real music.  The stuff that comes out of a computer, or out of technology, is not real music, it's a caricature of real music.  Real music is produced by human hands and souls." (That was my summarization of a ten minute rant).  This is a sneak preview of what you can find at a trombone ensemble concert, or a memorandum of music past; it can't be compared to the real thing.  Technology derived music is nice, and you can hum along with it, but it doesn't resonate in your soul as powerfully as live music.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Preview: Most Freakin' Precious Thing You've Ever Seen

I have been hand sewing everything for the past 2 days, and my hands are about to fall off at the wrist.  But it'll be worth it.  I hope.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Knit Dreams

I got the latest issue of Vogue Knitting in the mail today.  Sadly, I haven't really worked on anything since March.  Honestly, this was the best issue I've seen yet, after 2 years of subscribing.  There were so many pretty patterns, and the Magical Mohair contest winners were stunning.  I'd love to try to knit the dress designed by the 1st runner up.  I probably won't, just because I'd also have to line it and I'm surprisingly lazy when it comes to finishing projects.  For example, my mom's birthday present is still in my dresser drawer.  I only have to cast off, and her birthday was in March.  I'll get it done, eventually.  Right now I'm loving both this sweater and the cowl.  I'm thinking navy blue for the sweater.  I think I may even have enough in my stash to start right away.  Last year I scoured the internet for a cowl pattern like this one, and ended up making my own, when I couldn't find what I was looking for.  I wore it all the time, and I don't see a reason not to pick a new color and make this one too.   Of course, this'll most likely have to wait until I'm all sewn out.  I got thread, interfacing, and snaps before lunch today, so I can finish up 3 more projects this afternoon, then maybe start a new one!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Happy Thoughts for Thursday

Once again, it's raining, but I'm curled up inside, so it doesn't bother me.  I've had a really quiet couple of days.  I've been doing a lot of reading and writing, which is never a bad thing, although it means that I've been less productive in other areas.  The pool opens tomorrow, so life will pick up again shortly, and I'll be wishing I had this time back.  Until then, here are some things that have made me happy this week!

Ingrid Michaelson again.  I don't think I'll ever get tired of her music.  Dogs that fit in your lap.  I've been to a few people's houses this week with tiny dogs, and I'm quite taken with them.  I've never had a pet before and I don't think my asthma would allow me to have one anyways, but it's fun to play with other people's pets.  Learning things.  I hit up the library earlier this week, and am enjoying hunkering down and making my brain work.  Strange movies.  I watched Hot Fuzz with my friends last night, and it was very interesting.  I'm not quite sure what to make of the ending, still.  Friends that watch strange movies with me, and don't make fun of me too badly when I squeal at the scary parts.  Midnight donut runs.  Being slap-happy at midnight, and not having a good excuse for why.  Having fresh fruit in the house.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rainy Day Blues

I don't think you can tell from this picture, but this shirt is actually a very pretty cobalt blue.  I got is for $3 on clearance, and so far I haven't been able to find anything wrong with it.

I've been working on bloggey things all day.  I got some books out from the library, so I'm going to conquer this html thing this week.  Despite what the magazine people are saying, for me, the internet will never replace the physically printed word.

This is called lifeguard hair.  I tried to take a good picture of it, but it has a life of its own and refuses to be documented.  Originally it looked like a mushroom, right on the top of my head, but as the day has progressed has slid down over my head, donut style.  Someday I will find rubber bands that can hold all of my hair.  Which, sadly I'm going to get cut tomorrow.

20 Tips for College Packing: The Wardrobe Edition

One year ago, I graduated from high school and began anxiously waiting for college to begin.  I was curious about the classes, and my roommate that I hadn’t met yet, and about the friends that I could make.  I have always been a worrier, and it was all I could do not to spontaneously combust from nerves, as moving day drew closer and closer.  I thought that maybe if I could get a head start on packing that it might help to release some nervous tension.  Instead, that unleashed new worries.  What if I didn’t have the right clothes for college-y situations?  What if I had too much stuff and it wouldn’t fit in the dorm room?

Having survived my freshman year, I figured that I could share my experiences. Maybe it would help someone else worry a little less.  One thing to keep in mind over this is that I attend a large public university in the midwest.  Some of this advice, particularly that pertaining to weather, won’t apply to people studying in, say, Alaska, or Georgia.

1. Basics
I read one college packing list last year that recommended bringing 3-4 pairs of jeans, plus specific colors of tshirts and blouses.  Honestly, packing for college isn’t that scientific.  If you have clothes that you wore regularly all through high school, then bring them.  I would recommend a few pairs of good fitting jeans, and solid colored shirts, tanks, and cardigans that can be paired with different things in your closet.  The ability to layer basics is a skill that is important in college, simply because every classroom will have a different temperature, which will also be radically different from the weather.

2. No Tshirts
By tshirts here I mean those cotton unisex shirts that everyone has, from sports teams and camps and events.  It’s ok to bring a few of them to get you through the first few weeks of school, and they’re ok to bring for working out in, but by the end of the year you’ll have accumulated twice as many as you could wear.  Trust me.  I ended the year with 14 of them.

Also, don’t wear other shirts for another college.  That’s tacky.  Shirts from high school are off limits, too.  Do you really want to walk around with a shirt proclaiming the year you were a senior in high school?  People don’t pick on freshmen like they do in high school, but its still not something you want to go around advertising.

sunshinecity photo
3. Cute and Comfy Pjs
Not only will there fire alarms going off at 2 in the morning, but if you’re going to be wandering around the dorm at night, you’ll want some cute pajama pants and some type of coverup.  You don’t want to be wearing just a ratty old shirt and Scoobydoo shorts when you run into the cute guy from class on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

jrondalee photo

4. Rain Boots
Unlike in high school, all of your classes won’t be confined to one building.  You’ll have to walk outside often, and classes aren’t cancelled for icky weather, unfortunately.  I personally think that most patterned rain boots look really childish, but they’re a necessary evil.  Wet feet aren’t fun.


5. Sensible (Cute) Shoes
You’re walking all over campus, remember?  No matter how cute shoes are, you won’t appreciate blisters when you get to your 2nd class and realize that you still have to walk to another class, then trek all the way across campus back to your dorm again.  Fortunately, there are a lot of really cute options out there.

uggboy photo

6. Don’t bring expensive shoes
You’ll be walking a lot, and strangely enough there’s no better way to ruin shoes than to wear them.  If there are shoes that you love and don’t want to ruin, don’t wear them around campus.  If you’re prepared to risk it, make sure to take safety precautions.  If you have suede or leather shoes, or even fakes, make sure to treat them for the weather.  Weather-proof sprays are a few dollars at shoe stores (or Walmart) and they’ll save you the heart ache of salt and water marks.

7.Coats for all weather
I thought I was so prepared for winter.  I brought my winter coat with me in august.  But I forgot one thing.  That thing was fall.  See, the weather typically doesn’t go from 90 to 30 in one night.  Make sure you have some different weight coats to get you through the changing days.  If you live close enough or think you can tough it out until thanksgiving, you can leave heavier coats at home until you need them, or you can channel your inner boy scout and be prepared for everything.

Osaka photo

8. Tights
This applies more to dress and skirt wearers.  In high school maybe you only had to bear the cold until you got on the bus, so you didn’t mind bare legs in winter.  College campuses are cold, and sometimes windy.  Tights help to keep your legs warm, and protect your modesty from windy days.

9. Workout Gear
Unfortunately the freshman 15 is a very real problem.  Realistically, it’s more like a freshman 8, but it still exists.  Colleges usually have pretty nice workout facilities.  Mine even had mini-gyms in all the dorms, in addition to the real gym.  Take advantage of them.  Seriously, a gross amount of your tuition money went there.  If the gym was not something that you frequented in high school, don’t worry.  You don’t need anything fancy to work out in.  High school gym shorts and the aforementioned tshirts will work, as well as gym shoes.

I don't understand

10. No Sweats
That being said, please don’t wear your workout stuff around campus.  There are so many cute clothes in the world.  There’s really no excuse for sweats.  Save them for the gym and the dorm.  If you think you’ll be tempted to wear sweats out in public, them just leave them at home.


11. Unique Accessories
Lets face it, if you’re going to school with 18 billion other people, chances are that someone else will be wearing the same thing that you are, if you shop commercially.  One way to stand out is to accessorize.  Plus, when you’re short on clean clothes, a headband and scarf can make your outfit look more like an outfit and less like a lack of clean clothes.


12. Don’t bring all your accessories
Dorms are small and organizing all the small stuff often requires a degree of creative genius better saves for classwork.  Bring what you wear.  In a pinch, you can always call home and ask for smaller things to be mailed to you.

Also.  Don’t wear your lanyard as a necklace.  It’s an easy way to hold your keys, but “only freshman wear them”.  This is a tool, not an accessory.

13. Grown Up clothes
There’ll be times when you’ll need to look presentable.  Make sure you have at least one pair of dress pants, a decent shirt or two, and a dress or skirt.  These can be combined with basics to suit you up for job interviews, career fairs, presentations, end of semester banquets, or what ever else requires dressing up.  Upperclassmen need more of this stuff than the rest of us, but its better to start building up your Nice Clothes stash while you have time.

14. No really fancy clothes
You won’t need ten cocktail dresses, and stilettos aren’t practical for campus traveling.  Granted, I’m not a big partier, so I don’t know what the protocol is there, but I have some observations of the styles of raptors (#2).  In the beginning of the semester there’s lot of short hemlines and high high heels, because everyone wants to look good, y’know?  Then after about a month it gets cold and people put on flats and pants.  Well, maybe not pants.  This is college.  Then at the end of the semester there are actual formal parties where people were actual nice dresses.  With microscopic hems and spike heels.

All sarcasm aside, fancy clothes aren’t necessary.  A nice dress or two for going out in and end of the semester parties is fine, but more than that is pushing it.  At the end of second semester there may be formals, depending on what organizations you’re involved in.  This is a chance to rewear your prom dress, but it’s not necessary.  If that’s what you want, you can bring a dress back to school with you after spring break.  There’s no need for it at the beginning of the year though.  Save yourself some closet space.

I love her.
15. A sturdy purse or (gulp) backpack
You’re walking all across campus with your normal puse content, plus umbrellas in the fall and spring, gloves in the winter, and class materials.  It is so much easier just to have somewhere that it’ll all fit in.  I resisted wearing a backpack for all of first semester, then broke down second semester.  Having a backpack really is the easiest thing.  There are cute backpacks out there, they just require some searching.

16. Don’t bring things you haven’t worn in a year
If you haven’t worn something in a year, chances are you’re not going to wear it in school.  Leave is at home, and if you don’t miss it at all after a semester without it, then it’s probably safe to get rid of.

17. Don’t bring clothes that your mom wouldn’t approve of
This is not to say that you have to dress like Pollyanna. That being said, professors and school officials have an influence on your future, from grades that affect your GPA and scholarship chances, to recommendation letters.  Class is not the place to experiment with breaking all the rules you’ve lived with.  You want to dress in a way that is respectful of others and also of yourself. At the same time, don’t be afraid to experiment a little.  College dressing doesn’t have to be boring.  Go for the glitter!  Neon orange?  Why not?  This is the place to experiment away from parents’ watchful eyes.  Just do it tastefully.

18. Don’t bring anything you’ve had since middle school
There is nothing wrong with old favorites.  However, this is an excellent chance to grow.   The happy bunny shirts and newsboy caps may have been appropriate then, but there comes a time when we have to move on.

19. Don’t bring costume-y things
It’s easy to bring the super frilly shirt and the buckle boots that you never wear with the idea that you can dress as a pirate for some theme party, sometime.  However, its not worth it if you never wear it otherwise.  If you need costumes for something, there’ll be plenty of people to swap with and borrow from.  Also, college towns are typically pretty good with goodwills and similar places to get clothes to be creative with.

20. Activity Appropriate
That sounds like something on a summer camp brochure.  Does your school have a required fitness class?  You’ll need workout clothes.  Are you a parks and recreation major?  You’ll spend at least one class period digging in the quad.  Are you in the band?   You’ll need concert clothes.  Planning on marching?  That’s hard to do in dresses and heels.  When packing for college, keep in mind what you’ll be doing outside of classwork.

Don’t forget that there are weekends, too!  Bring what you’re comfortable with, but don’t be afraid to push yourself too!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hey, I wanted to be a style blogger, remember?

For some reason I thought that once school was out I would have free time in which to blog.  Boy, was I mistaken.  I suppose I do have some free time, but I have no trouble filling it, and sadly, this is the last thing on my list that gets done.  I blame books.  I've been doing my yearly reread of all the Tortall books by Tamora Piece.  I've read them all a few billion times, yet I can never put the books down once I start them. I know what's going to happen, and in some places I don't have to read to be able to recite the words on the page.  Yet, once I open a book I just can't do anything else.  I guess it's fortunate then that I've got 3 books left, and then I get my life back.

This are outfit photos from Sunday.  I went to church, did a whole lot of laundry, sewed a bit (I'll have some finished pictures and a tutorial soon!) and went to an orchestra concert.  Skirts are the perfect all around pieces for summer.  They're good for hanging around the house and going places where I have to look fancy.

Outfit Details
Skirt: Target. Was a large, on clearance for $4, so I bought it and took some elastic in to make it fit
Shirt: H&M
Sweater: Old Navy
Necklace: garage sale, plus a ribbon from my closet

My sister took the pictures for me.  No matter what I do or how I ask, the majority of the pictures end up sideways.  I guess it just has to be chalked up to the artistic expression of a ten year old.  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Happy Thoughts for Thursday

Best friends who know how to prance and do the dinosaur at the same time.  spending all day doing math and then sewing and having my creation come out perfect (not that this has happened yet.. but I can hope!) Checking cds out of the library: Ingrid Michaelson, Frank Sinatra, and Simon and Garfunkel.  My ears will be very happy this weekend.  Friends that are home from school.  This means I get less sleep but I think it's a valid trade off.  Having time to write actual blog posts instead of just rambling.  I've mostly been researching and planning this week, so hopefully soon I can start actually posting content!  Blueberry pancakes.  Wearing high heels around the house for no reason other than that I can.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Put the Lonesome on the Shelf

I've been on a real Ingrid Michaelson kick lately.  I think that may be the only thing I've listened to in the past 4 days.  Normally I don't go for really girly-girl music, but there's something about her songs that draws me in.  I've been listening mostly to the album Be Ok.  It deals with a lot of mushy love-stuff, and also about the future related to that Love.

Normally I don't allow myself to think about the future.  My theory is that if I think about what will happen, then I'll have built up expectations for what will happen.  If I don't think about the future, I won't have detailed expectations, and then I won't be disappointed when they don't come through.  I've been living off this idea for about a year, and it's worked out pretty well for me.  At times it's really hard to banish all thoughts of possibilities, and lately its been getting harder and harder.

Ingrid Michaelson has songs for both ends of the spectrum; songs for happy daydreams and songs for worrying about everything not turning out perfectly.  The more I listen to these songs, the more I feel myself slipping back into my old ways.  I can't help but daydream about what my life could be like in a few years.  And I don't mind it.

Sometimes music really amazes me.  That listening to one cd a few times could release all these feelings is incredible.  Through Ingrid's voice I'm swimming through hope and fear, strength and vulnerability, with love hanging over it all.  I've listened to this before, but it's never had such an effect on me.  I guess the timing is right now.  The events in my life are all aligning with the tracks on a cd, a story being told in to my ears that echoes the one playing in my heart.  I will never understand how people can survive without music.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Big-Girl Sweats

As a person who loves clothes, I refuse to accept the existence of sweatpants.  I own a pair of $5 sweatpants that I got for working out in from walmart, but that is the only time that I will wear them.  However, there are days where all I want to do is curl up in something warm and cozy.  This was one of those days.  My ten year old sister joined her school's running club, the precursor to the middle school cross country team.  The group of 3rd to 5th graders have been training all month for a 5k run that took place this morning.  Since my sister is only 10, she had to have an adult-figure run with her.  My mom didn't feel up to it, so that feel to me.  We woke up to a lovely 40 degree day, complete with clouds and wind and a bit of rain.  Needless to say, by the end of the race all I wanted was to be warm and dry.

I didn't do too badly with the run, considering I've been "training" for it for all of a week.  I was pretty tired by mile 2, which is where I usually stop my own workout, but if I was on my own I probably could have made it farther, since I wouldn't have been confined to the stride of someone half my size.  I'm not even tired now.

This shirt fits the description of sweats, but without making me feel like a total bum.  It's a men's flannel shirt that a friend gave me.  I attempted french braids, and for once they actually look decent, from the front at least.  The back's a little sloppy, but I don't have wings.

Also, after not being home all week I finally got a chance to catch up on all my favorite blogs, and stumbled upon a new gem.  This girl is incredibly pretty.  I was originally very tempted to shoot her an email, asking her for some makeup tips.  After a big of reading, though, I discovered that she recently posted a makeup tutorial!  I was bored, so I tried it, and considering my drugstore makeup kit, I think it worked pretty well.  I really just wanted to try the eye part, but why pass up a good excuse to wear some lipstick?  So now I'm lazing in my room in full makeup.  But at least I'm warm and dry!

Bite Sized Philosophy

I have a confession to make.  I love children's books.  Kid's books are a vacation for my brain.  When I don't have access to them, I read trashy romance novels, since they too require little brainpower.  Since I've been home, I've regained access to my 10 year old sister's reading materials.  Yesterday I read 2 of her books.  I loved one of them, more so than I was expecting to.  If you get a chance to, I recommend reading Every Soul A Star, by Wendy Mass.  It's worth it.

                         "Life is short, but it's wide."
                                                                       -Stella, from Every Soul a Star

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Everyone says it, but no one wants to hear it

The best friend came over today, and we had some interesting discussions on life, as usual.  One bit stuck out at me: the phrase it'll all work out in the end.  People tend to toss this phrase around when trying to comfort people.  It's like the advice giver has some body of knowledge that goes above what the other person knows.  Somehow, like Diane Court, they've seen the future, and know that if you just keep swimming and let what happens happen, then your life will be good.  Maybe great, even.

I have a question about this, and it has nothing to do with seeing the future.  It has to do with the definition of the "end".  If I follow the advice and roll with life's punches, and don't get too upset about anything, then it will all be alright.  In the "end".  When is the end?  Is the end when I'm married, if I'm worried about relationships?  Is it when I have a big girl job, when I'm worried about student debt?  Or is it when I'm dead?  Because if you think about it, once you're dead all your problems technically are gone...

I don't want it all to work out in the end.  There is no "end", there's only now.  Life is full of pain and problems.  Even if now's problems are resolved, those solutions will bring their own problems later.  And I'm ok with that.  I don't want to be stuck in what I now think of as a perfect life, because what I want from my life will change by the time I get there. I'm so glad now that life didn't work out the way I wanted it to in middle school, and I expect to feel the same way in another few years about my desires for the future now.

Maybe I'll be happy with my life now, problems and all.  Or maybe I'll accept that I'm not happy, and do something to change it, instead of waiting for my happy ending to come.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ms. Versatality

Yesterday was a busy day.  I spent the morning curled up on the couch with a book (or two), then in the afternoon I went out to the county buildings to meet a woman to talk about volunteering this summer.  I'll be doing paperwork and maybe making phone calls to clients starting on Thursday!  They're far enough away that volunteering will be an all day event, so so much for sewing my summer away.  I always manage to pick the volunteering jobs that are in the most remote locations.  Oh well.  It should be an interesting experience.

Then as soon as I got home from the county, I had a job interview for a summer job.  I'm not really sure how it went, and I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high.

This skirt is one of the most versatile items in my closet.  It got me from the couch to a interview, from a cool spring morning to an unexpected 94 degree day.  Today looks like its going to be another unnaturally brutal day.  The weather channel has been calling for thunderstorms all week, but they've yet to break.  I wish it would hurry up and rain already.  Its too early for summer weather.

I made this skirt over thanksgiving break.  It was a ten minute project, literally a tube with elastic.  And pockets.  I like pockets.  At first I wasn't happy with it.  I felt that the elastic was too loose and weird looking.  I tightened the elastic, and now I love it.  Also, these are weird pictures, I know.  That's what happens when I ask my ten year old sister to be my photographer.  We had to squeeze this into a commercial break of zack and cody.  Mr. Mosbey got engaged!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Fabric Shopping

Today I went shopping with my best friend for fabric.  We went to the Textile Discount Outlet in Pilsen, which I've heard of but never been to before.  We found it easily enough.  Google maps took us to the right place, for once.  The shop is in this unassuming brick building tucked away in a residential area.  Once you step inside, you forget that you're surrounded by tiny houses and tobacco stores.

There're feathers hanging from the ceiling and rolls and rolls of sequined fabric hanging off the wall, right where you walk in.  There are boxes of embroidered letters, and tins of buttons, and a whole shelving unit shoved full of leather.  Then there's a wall of silk, and rows and rows of polyester and chiffon and taffeta.  And then there's a door, which leads to more, and more, and more.  I swear, I've found heaven.

But wait, there's more.  There's a second story, and a basement.  The second floor has some repeats of the first, and some brand new things.  There's an entire section dedicated to imported fabric, with the shelf labelled with the city.  There're bolts of fabric that are 4 feel across.  There're bins full of pre-cut fabric.

We didn't venture into the basement, having already reached our limits by the time we got halfway through the second floor.  Also, it was past lunch time, and nobody comes between us and our food.

Purchasing was a little confusing, but the employees are all really helpful.  You bring them your bolt, and they cut it for you and give you a receipt, and the bag goes up to the register until you go to pay.  They'll gladly cut a little swatch for you if you need to get thread or buttons or search through their huge zipper section for the perfect zipper.  The zippers were only 25 cents!!! If I'd known that I would have bought more.  Nothing is really labelled to well, and I'm not sure if bargaining is allowed.  I accepted the prices as presented, since nothing was very expensive anyway.

Here's my plunder.  I wish I could post the feel of everything here.  I spend a considerable chunk of money, but for what I'm going to get out of it I'd say it was worth every penny. I can't wait to start creating.  I'll have to finish cleaning my room first, though.

I've only ever shopped in JoAnn's and Hobby Lobby before, and they seem to specialize in quilting fabric and tacky colors for everything else.  Here, I wandered until I found exactly what I was looking for (in the case of the coral, for example) or the fabric jumped out at me and told me what it wanted to be (teal).  I just hope my skills are up to par with what my mind is picturing.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

On a whim yesterday I checked a new book out of the library.  Usually I go straight for my favorite fiction books, but this time a nonfiction grabbed my attention first.  Democracy Is Not A Spectator Sport, by Arthur Blaustein and Helen Matatov, claims to be the "Ultimate Volunteer Handbook".  It interested me not so much because I was looking for a list of volunteer organizations, which the book includes, but because the pages prefacing that section attempts to explain how exactly we got into our current economic mess, and what we can do about it.

The book claimed that capitalism, laziness, individualism, and republican stupidity are to blame for the downward economic state.  I can see the connection to capitalism, individualism, and laziness, but the connections to republicans were dependent on a previous understanding of the policies that have been part of the government for the last 30 years.  I wish that the book would have gone into more detail explaining this.  Also, sometimes I wasn't sure if the book was explaining why the republicans are at fault, or merely spewing retorts back at Fox, hoping someone would read them and take heart.  I feel this this strategy would do more to alienate the republicans and tea party activists that need to understand the message of the book.

Despite the questionable presentation, I felt like the message that this book raises is an important one.  There is no democracy without civic involvement.  Since the government's reaction to economic woes has been to cut from social services, the public is hurting.  What better way to alleviate that hurt than to take matters into our own hands?  By volunteering our time we are fulfilling our roles as citizens and also helping people.  In the process, we become more aware of the real world and the affect that governmental policies have on it, and thus become more responsible voters.

I fear that the authors of this book are correct; that there will be no cure for our problems until the public as a whole becomes more involved in their civic responsibilities.  People seem to think that "life", the business that comes from having a job or a family, or going to school, excuses them from their duties as a citizen.  If you expect the government to work for you, then you need to put some work back in.  Unfortunately, people have become accustomed to ignoring voter registration, closing the door, both literally and metaphorically, on those who ask for help, and exercising their right to complain about the state of the world.

If this book causes even a few people to become involved in their communities, then it will have been successful.  Personally, I know that I am happiest when I'm aware of what is going on around me, and have a hand in what's happening.  An increase in volunteering and civic engagement might not only improve social services, but it may make for a happier set of people doing the serving.

Water For Elephants

Last night I went to see Water for Elephants with the boyfriend.  I was a little nervous about it, just because I loved the book, and for as long as books are being made into movies there will be incongruities between the two.  I was already a little apprehensive from seeing the previews, where Marlena is blonde instead of a brunette, and the actor who plays the old Jacob appears to be 63 instead of 93.  I figured that if they couldn't get even simple physical characteristics right, there was no way they'd be able to sufficiently follow the plot.

Aside from combining two characters into one, the movie stuck pretty closely with the book.  I felt like I read the book at the perfect time for me. The character was a college dropout and a nursing home resident; I'm a college student who works in a nursing home.  I can relate to both sides of his story because I've seen the reality of his descriptions of both lifestyles.  (I say his descriptions as in the character's, not the author's, who is a lady).

Here's my take on a 1930's-2011 melding.

The muted color of this dress and the shoes reflect a bit of the typical 30's, and the red lipstick and the gold elephant spice it up with a bit of the circusy glamour.

I actually wasn't too big of a fan of most of the costumes in the movie.  I did like the striped shirt that Marlene wears in one scene, but I felt that there were a lot of 70's influences going on.  Or maybe the 30's really influenced the 70's, and this is the first time I'm seeing that.  Either way, I wasn't impressed with Marlene's wardrobe.  I did like the tailored-ness of Jacob's and August's, though.  I don't think I could ever pull off a vest like Robert Pattinson, though.  Go figure.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy Thoughts, one day late

I'm home!  That has to be the happiest thought out there.  We got home around 7:30, and my whole family came out to help unload the car.  My mom, my siblings, my dad, and my grandparents were all there: almost all of the people I desperately wanted to see.  I had to jump into bed last night, because all my boxes and bags were lined in front of it.  My Best Friend is wonderful and not only came to see me, but took me over to see the boyfriend for half an hour.  Cleaning.  Now that I'm home I can officially start the spring clean.  Over the next week I'll be clearing out my closet to make room for sewing things that I actually will want to wear.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I have one more final to take, and I'll be done with my freshman year of college.  I can't believe it.  It went way too fast.  I finished work today, so I have only that final, and packing.  Right now my roommate's packing, and it'd be too hectic for us both to pack, so I'm just sitting trying to be productive.  I can't seem to manage it, though. I think instead of trying I'll just read Tamora Pierce books.  I've been planning on rereading them all this summer, so might as well start now.

I just realized, I met her exactly 2 years ago today.  How big of a dork am I if I admit that I only got my driver's liscense in order to drive half an hour away to meet my favorite author?  And then admit that after all the work of getting my liscense, I wasn't allowed to drive and my grandparents took a friend and I to see her?  It was still one of the most exciting moments of my life.  My friend was able to hold an intelligent conversation with her.  I was not.  WAY TOO EXCITED.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sit back and hold on, but hold on tight

The town that I grew up in has an awesome tradition called “Music in the Park”.  Every summer they schedule once-weekly concerts with different local groups.  They really cover a wide range of music: Beatles covers, 70’s rock, latino music, middle school bands, and more.  While the music is not what one would call popular by today’s standards, there’s a charm to it that radio music often lacks, and that’s the focus on the community.  

The entire town shows up for these events, if they’re able to.  People bring blankets and lawn chairs to congregate around the bandstand on the village green.  Local restaurants operate in tents to sell polish sausages and pizza, and the Paletamen roam through the crowd with their carts, selling ice cream and popsicles.  The shows normally coincide with the car shows, so people mill around the parking lots, admiring them.  

When the band plays, old people dance, kids run around, and people sing.  The musicians interact with the audience to a degree that I’ve never seen at concerts for well known groups.  Mostly the same core of groups has been playing in these concerts for years, and they’ve built up a rapport with the community.  They know how to behave, and how they’ll be received.  

The reason that I love these concerts is not necessarily for the music, but for the sense of community that I get from them.  At no other time do my neighbors seem to come together in such amounts for the same purpose: mutual enjoyment.  

We’ve recently come to be under a new government, and I’m anxious to see how this summertime tradition will be affected by budget cuts.  

In the meantime, I can daydream about lazing in the grass with my friends, eating hot dogs and singing along to covers of our parent’s favorite songs.  

The video reminded me of summertime concerts, which spurred the above paragraphs of rambling and remembering.

I love this song; the words are so beautiful.
oh hear this please
And watch as your heart speeds up endlessly
And look for the stars as the sun goes down
Each breath that you take has a thunderous sound
Everything, everything's magic
Just sit back and hold on, but hold on tight
Prepare for the best and the fastest ride
And reach out your hand, and I'll make you mine
Everything, everything's magic