05 December 2014

Interesting things

Here are some interesting things from around the internet.

1. One of my friends runs a sandwich blog in which her and another friend are making all the sandwiches from the Wikipedia list of sandwiches in the order that they appear in the list. The writing style is amusing and I am in awe at the commitment to go through all the sandwiches.

2. Earth has a space shield! A friend of mine is on the paper that found, using Van Allen probe data, there is a "glass wall" keeping out killer electrons. Pretty neat-o.

I tried to find an article with the most ridiculous comment section and I think this might be it, although the Fox News comments didn't load for me, so I could be wrong.

"the thing the worries me is haarp messes with the atmosphere and there is no guarantee our shield is not being effected or damaged by this. If this planet loses its shield to solar storms are particles we will all cook before we even have time to scream."

"And yet US astronauts apparently just closed there eyes and put on sun tan lotion while cruising through the belts whilst traveling to the moon, haha yeah I buy that theory!"

"Its God who protects us. God's shield."

Gold, my friends. Pure comment gold.

3. A former labmate is in Antarctica doing some fieldwork on instruments down there. His blog is interesting and I have been enjoying the daily penguin updates (none seen as of yet). I'm jealous that I never got to experience time out on the ice!

4. Are you listening to the Serial Podcast, a spin off from This American Life? If you aren't, you really really should be. I found out this week that Slate is doing a podcast about the podcast and I am excited to start listening to it. I love hearing theories on who committed the murder based on what we are told.

5. I no longer identify as Mormon, but much of my extended family does, so I like to check in on what happens in that realm occasionally. One of the things I dislike about the church is how women are not treated as equals to men and they are told they should just be happy with their special roles as wives and mothers. This past summer Kate Kelly (founder of Ordain Women) was excommunicated for advocating for gender equality in general and more specifically allowing preisthood ordination of women. Around the same time as her excommunication, John Dehlin (who runs a popular Mormon podcast that talks about "tough" Mormon issues) was facing his own possible excommunication but it never happened. Kate Kelly wrote a blog post on why she thinks she was ex'd and he was not. SPOILER ALERT: Four of her reasons are "He is a man". As a person (not just as a woman!) it pains me to see people being treated differently based on their sex. A woman should be able to do the same things a man does and vice versa. I have so many thoughts about Mormonism that I usually only voice to my lovely husband, but I might write a post soon addressing some concerns that won't stop bothering me.

6. Recipes that I want to try: Pumpkin Chili (substitute jackfruit for the pulled pork); quinoa bowl with gravy, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes; and a new way to serve the carrots hanging out in the back of your produce drawer.

7. Happy December! I get to see Space Science friends in a bit over a week, give Matthew his awesome Christmas presents in a few weeks, and enjoy the non-snowy days here is the lovely PNW all month long. It is going to be a great end to 2014.

Thank you, Auto Awesome, for making our Christmas tree last year twinkle.

03 December 2014

Jade Skirt and a little rearranging

I've been on a sewing streak this past week or so. I finished the Scout shirt I spoke about in the last post, but it has been relegated to the trash bin - dartless tops do NOT look fantastic on my bigger bust and the upper chest and back were much too tight for me. It is too bad because I LOVED the fabric I used. Oh well, at least I learned more about my serger and the insides were very clean.

On to something that totally worked for me! And I was able to serge almost all the seams!

25 November 2014

Sewing Fails

Not everything I make turns out super awesome, sadly. I have been working on this blouse thing from 9/2014 Burda Style for the past week or so in short chunks. Trace the pattern here, cut the pieces there, sew this and that.

Doesn't it look lovely in the photo? It is sized for petites, so I added some length (1.5 inches above the bust and 1.5 inches right above the waist) to put it back in "normal" size and to account for my long waist. I probably could have gotten away with just 1.5 or 2 inches or maybe nothing at all! I've made three or four things from Burda Style and I can't seem to pick the correct size for me. Are the sizes consistent across the patterns?

The proportions look ridiculous on me, it is too big overall (I cut a straight size 18 which corresponds to a size 36), and I am reminded AGAIN that ruffle or pleats or fluffy bits are not for me. Looking at the photos, I added WAY too much length, shouldn't the waist be on the same level at my elbow? I feel soo ridiculous in this. I know that I could probably fix it and make it fit me, but I would never be happy with it. Off to the scrap pile it goes. I am chalking this up to learning more about what I like to wear and what I look good wearing. I did learn how to construct a cut on shawl collar and my seams/pleats matched up almost perfectly, so I have that going for me.

I did get to use my new serger for the insides! As an early Christmas present, Matthew bought me the Juke MO564DE and so far, I LOVE it.

You can see this shirt cut out next to the lovely new machine. I've only had it for a week and it is my first serger, so I cannot do an in depth review of it yet, but it made the insides of this blouse beautiful and is pretty easy to operate. I'm excited to use it to make Christmas presents.

I wish that everything I make turned out great, but alas, that is not how my sewing world works. For my next project, I think I'll cleanse my sewing palate with something quick and easy like a Scout shirt. I have some beautiful green fabric a friend gave me before she left NH that I think would make an excellent shirt.

19 October 2014

A final goodbye


It took me a while to warm up to you. You were my first real pet and I wasn't prepared for the care you required. A litter box cleaned twice a day? Several water stations around the apartment? Vomiting every other day? Meals and treats, oh my! But you found a way into my heart and I miss your cute kitty ways.

We thought your LOUD meowing your first night was you getting adjusted to our apartment and us. Not so. You are just a meow-y kitty that likes to tell everyone where you are. Tragically, you also had some teeth problems we didn't find out about for a few months and we now realize that some of those meows were of extreme pain. We are so sorry to let you live with so much pain!

You immediately made yourself at home upon arrival. Finding soft places to lay to show off your cuteness. During the first month, when we couldn't sleep, we almost sent you off to find a new home. You meowed ALL the time, but really did make up for it in cuddles and cuteness. Once we discovered the beauty of shutting the bedroom door and turning on fans, we began to love you more. I don't know how parents survive with crying kids, you can't just lock that out of the room.

You were always a curious cat and incredibly smart. You didn't need to go into the closet every time it was opened because you already knew what was in there. You understood and lived within your limits, but tried to push the boundaries every so often. Going over to the neighbour's house or walking out to the street and then immediately running back home when you see one of us coming after you.

You were never a cat that wanted to cuddle on us, but LOVED having one of us close by. You were also okay to just do your own thing and didn't need to follow us around to give yourself something to do. But you did tolerate us coming to love on you or picking you up for on the bed cuddle time. You would stay what you thought was the appropriate amount of time to satisfy my kitty cuddle urge and then off you would go. Thanks for being a good sport.

You weren't really a "cat" most of the time. You wouldn't normally lay on things or knock stuff off the table. Mostly, you slept and layed in cute positions until it was time to eat or drink or poop again. But the computer was one thing you absolutely loved. The warmness called to you in a way that could not be resisted.

We were worried about you going up and down stairs in your old age, but you navigated them with ease and loved the vantage point they gave you. We were doubtful of how much you really could see, but that didn't stop you from being the Alpha in the house.

Thank you for keeping yourself in incredible condition. A hair was never out of place and your coat was the silkiest I have ever felt. It did lead to A LOT of hairballs, unfortunately, but for The Paws of Priss, there was no other option.

You were an incredibly patient photo model for me. Letting me shove a camera in your face at all times during the day and always showing your cute side. You were just incredibly patient all around. People came over to see you and you would allow everyone to pet you. You put up with a lot of poking and prodding at vet offices with a dignified grace (as long as no one wanted to look in your mouth). We could even use our handheld vacuum to vacuum you directly. Cat Butt don't care.

When Matthew was out of town, you became my buddy. Coming to lay beside me or under the covers with your head on my arm. It was so great. You knew how to turn the cuteness up to 11 and used it every chance you got because it got you more belly rubs. You seemed to like us as well, and didn't just tolerate us as the bringers of food, water, and pets. You would get excited when we came home and run to the bedroom to hang out on the bed.

We noticed you going downhill. You slept more. You didn't go up and down the stairs as much. You only went outside when you really wanted some of that grass to vomit. But you learned to live within the limits of your old age. You stayed on the top floor of the house and would yell for us from the top of the stairs. You used the step stools we placed by the table leading up to your bed and loved the hole in the side of your hidey box that minimized your jumping. It became almost a joke to wonder if you were still alive when we hadn't seen you for a few hours.

You still had your small pleasures - laying in the kitty sunbeams, going outside for some grass munching, laying on our pillows in the morning, grabbing our faces when we stopped petting you too soon, and tasty stinky treats. You were old and we indulged whatever it was we thought you wanted. Matthew gave you all the meat he ate and you gobbled up the lamb and fish with a gusto. We let you lay where ever you felt comfortable and wouldn't move you out of the way, even if it was inconvenient for us.

You immediately made yourself comfortable where ever we took you. And we moved you around a lot, I know. As long as you had your kitty bed, water, hidey box, and litter box you were fine. You were a Zen cat and instead of getting angry, you would accept any situation you couldn't change and live with it the best you could. Your nonanxious personality was fantastic. Even those last few hours in NH when the kitty Xanax paralysed your back legs, you found a way to live with it and not be freaked out. I was totally freaked out, but you did the best you could and accepted the situation. And was best kitty ever on the flight!

We again noticed you ageing rapidly after the move to Portland. You slowed down a lot, no longer sang the song your people all night, and only jumped up onto the bed. Your appearance became a bit disheveled, you became much more creaky and croaky, but you still gave us all the love we could want. I loved watching you slowly walking up the sidewalk outside. You still owned this place and no one could tell you different.

I miss you. You were a good furry friend and now I realize you had such a unique kitty personality that I don't think we will ever find another cat like you. This is the final photo I have of you and it seems so fitting. I'm sorry we weren't around for your final hours, but Matthew gave you kitty narcotics earlier that day, so at least it was painfree and blissful.

Good bye, old woman. You are missed.

Fall time in Oregon

Ah, the rains have returned to Oregon and I could not be happier! And it is the delicious Oregon rain where it doesn't really seem like you are getting wet, but when you arrive some place, you are soaked. I love love love it here.

The rain is falling outside and I am inside with my cup of tea and my husband. I could not ask for anything more at the moment. Maybe a job. A job would be nice.

03 October 2014

Quick Takes

1. Last Thursday, our kitty passed away. She lived a long 21 years and was one of the most mellow cats I have ever met. We miss her and we are glad we provided a comfy home for her last few years.

2. We are fostering a cat for Matthew's brother at the moment. It has been strange to have a young (8 years old) cat in the house after being used to the geriatric kitty. Ming deftly jumps onto tables and moves lightening quick. He also follows us around everywhere which is both cute and annoying. If you know anyone in the PDX area that needs a cat, let me know! We are not ready to be pet parents again.

3. I joined a yoga studio this week. They have an introductory $30 for 30 days of unlimited yoga classes and after that it is $99/month. The two classes I have been to so far have been the best yoga classes I have ever been to. It is Vinyasa yoga and I love it. It turns out that my hips and hamstrings are super tight from sitting at my computer for the past five years. I'm excited to use this as my way to get in shape. I feel so so great after each class.

4. We are going to see Kinky Boots this weekend! I've been wanting to see this since listening to Cyndi Lauper on On the Media.

5. The weather has been delightfully beautiful the last few weeks. There has been a mixture of sunshine, rain, and cooler temperatures that makes walking and riding my bike absolutely fabulous. I am so so glad we moved back.

6. I'm brushing up on my Python coding skills by doing a Coursea course where you program interactive games. It has been a lot of fun so far (only two weeks in). I'm looking forward to the rest of the class.

7. I'm still subscribed the the GEM, SPA, and CEDAR newletters and it has been cracking me up that in every recent issue there are postings about tenure-track faculty positions in space physics. It looks like this is your year to get a permanent position if you want one!

24 September 2014

Elisalex Skirt

This past Saturday, Matthew and I attended a wedding of one of my friends. I first met her about 9 years ago when I worked at Welch Allyn for about six months. We have stayed in contact since then and I'm glad that I moved back in time to come to her wedding!

When I sew, I mostly sew things that are useful to wear and that I will wear a lot, cake as some people say. I don't really sew a lot of "frosting", but I think a wedding is one of those times when you can make some super dressy and fun. I used the skirt portion of the Elisalex dress and used a super shiny curtain I bought from the thrift store last year. I still have three panels left of these curtains and I don't know how many more shiny green garments I need in my closet! I procrastinated the sewing of this dress until the week of the wedding, so I decided to just use the skirt portion of the pattern because I just needed to fit my waist and I didn't want to mess with fitting the bodice on my body.

From September 24, 2014

I traced out the pattern pieces for the skirt, held them up my waist, and laughed. The drafted pattern piece reached to about mid calf on me and I knew that was a first class ticket to Frumpsville. I originally cut off 9 inches from the pattern piece before I cut out my fabric and before I hemmed the bottom, I cut/hemmed off an additional 4 inches. No Frumpsville here.

From September 24, 2014

My curtains were lined with a white cotton fabric and I used that as my lining. I cut the lining with the same pattern pieces as the skirt. I thought about drafting a waist band, but decided to just join the lining and front fabric at the top. I understitched the lining to the fashion fabric seam allowance to keep it from peaking out. I cut the skirt in size US 4/ UK 8 and it fit my 26" waist snuggly, but not uncomfortably. I did not decrease the tulip shape at all as I have seen other people do, I think it looks fine as is. With the shorter skirt length, I think the poofy-ness is a nice proportion. I installed an 8 inch invisible zipper at the back of the skirt.

From September 24, 2014

I made the scarf I am wearing from a piece of polyester chiffon fabric. I originally intended for that fabric to be used as an overblouse thing to wear over camisoles, but it is so damn shifty! Cutting it out was a nightmare, trying to get the seams to line up/sew up was a nightmare. Nightmare all around. I don't think I am ready for the shifty chiffon world and I can see why people on Project Runway get dinged for using it when they don't know how to handle it. Instead of a shirt, I cut out a rectangle and hemmed up the edges with my narrow hem foot, leaving the selvedge edge free. I love the colours on it - they go with everything in my colour palette! And as a person who is not a big fan of prints, this is very abstract and pretty. I love it and got a lot of compliments on it when I wore it to a job interview.

From September 24, 2014

I'm laughing in all these photos because Matthew's face was hilariously scrunched as he was trying to see the screen in the afternoon light.

I'm not sure where else I can wear this skirt, but it was fun to make up. Maybe I'll take the time to fit the bodice knowing that I like the skirt shape.

04 August 2014

Hi, I am at Portland

It has been about a month since I left the East Coast and I wanted to update my blog about the move.

1. I do not have my PhD... yet. I am still trying to decide if I am going to defend, but for right now, I am pleased with my conciliatory Master's. The jobs I am applying for do not require a PhD and it might be better if I just stick with my MS. I do need to make a decision one way or another soon, though, because tuition billz for the fall semester are arriving soon as well as student loan repayment billz if I am not in school.

2. The cat survived the move mostly unscathed. Our vet in Dover prescribed her Xanax for the flight and shortly after I gave her the smallest dose possible, her back legs became paralysed. It was terrifying to watch her pull herself around by sliding against the wall. She was really Zen about the whole experience as if she was thinking "Okay, this is what is happening now, how do I best go about the situation" and not showing any agitation or anxiety. Although, that might just be due to her having some Xanax. We took her to the emergency vet clinic a few hours before my flight and thankfully, the paralysis had already started to wear off. She was the best cat on the airplane!

3. I am currently looking for a job doing.... something. I am applying to a variety of positions (QA engineer, physics instructor at the community college, data analyst for an education research company) and the common thing that sparks my interest seems to be if it is something meaningful (environmental! education!) and technical. I want to find a job where my technical skills are used and what I do contributes in some way to making this world a better place.

4. Sometime in the last five years, there has been an explosion of cider makers in the PNW and I couldn't be happier. While Farnum Hill ciders were delicious, it is very fun to have a wide, WIDE array of ciders to choose from.

5. I visited my parents last week and was able to shop Mom's House of Fabric once again. It has the best prices around! Part of my fabric haul included some yardage to make some sort of garment for Mom. It is interesting to sew for people other than myself and think about how they like clothes to fit and the things they like to wear.

6. Matthew and I started working out with a friend and we are getting great pleasure in poking each other's muscles the day after a session.

7. It has been so so fantastic to be able to have such a wide array of vegan food at my disposal at both the grocery store and in restaurants. I went to the Vegan Grocery Store and I didn't have to check any of the labels for dairy (or hidden meat)! Regarding the hidden (or not so hidden meat), when I was in Colorado, my dad I went to the grocery store to pick up some food. I selected a broccoli salad from the deli area to have around as a quick veggie type snack and dutifully checked the ingredient label for any mention of dairy. When I opened up the container, I realized that while it didn't have any dairy, there were bits of bacon in it. Ha. And that was on the label.

Goodbye, New England!

Hello, to my new home!

22 June 2014

BurdaStyle Slender Pencil Trousers

Here are the pants I previewed in the last post. I love love love them.

I used this pattern from the Winter 2014 US BurdaStyle Magazine. Matthew Santa bought me the magazine for Christmas and it was probably the best gift I have received. This magazine comes out quarterly with 20ish sewing patterns (plus more that you can download for a fee) that are generally pretty interesting style-wise. I have picked up the next two editions (spring and summer) and will subscribe after we move. You do have to put up with tracing the patterns from sheets like those below, but that is not a big deal.

Onto the awesome pants. I had about a yard of the stretch cotton twill fabric I used for my coat and was trying to decide what to do with it. Matthew suggested that I try making some pants. I went through all the patterns I have and chose 4 patterns that were pretty simple - narrow leg, minimal pattern pieces - and settled on this one from BurdaStyle.

I have a few fitting problems, but for a first go they are amazing. I made a size 36 with no adjustments. There is waaaay too much fabric in the front for a stomach that I do not have and too much fabric under my bum for a butt I do not have. I asked for fitting advice on a few sewing forums and it was suggested that I shorten the crotch length in the front, do a flat belly adjustment, and a flat butt adjustment. I'll also take in the leg a bit more below the knee.

Despite the fitting problems, I have worn these many times since I finished them. The 3% spandex makes them just stretchy enough to be comfy, but not jegging-ish and I think the colour is perfect for pants. These pants fit right into my colour palate and the Autumn 2014 12 piece collection I am working on.

Most man I have shown my pants to has had some comment along the lines of "It must be difficult to use the restroom in those pants" due to no zipper in the front. Oh, women trousers, you are a mystery to men.

One last thing: My pants were a Featured Member Project on Burdastyle.com! I'm an internet superstar.

I am on a self imposed fabric buying ban until I find a job, so I'll have to wait to make another pair of pants from this pattern for a few months. I do, though, have some linen and denim to turn into pants from other patterns in the meantime. Let the summer of learning how to fit pants, begin!

17 June 2014

I made me a coat!

During spring this year, I discovered that I was missing a lightweight jacket from my wardrobe. I have a heavy wool coat, a lighter wool coat, a rain coat, and sweaters, but nothing between the lighter wool coat and sweaters that I could wear on non-rainy days. I thought about buying the Everlane Trench Coat, but it sold out before I was able to purchase one, so I went searching for a sewing pattern.

I am not sure how I came across Waffle Sewing Patterns, Pinterest perhaps? or maybe while I was trolling Etsy looking for sewing inspiration? Anyway, I came across the Duffle Coat and decided that it had everything I wanted in a spring jacket. It had a loose, A-line shape with a hood and pockets. Sold! So I went to Jo-Ann's to find fabric. I was browsing through the bottom weight fabrics and found this teal cotton with 3% spandex. Having a stretch cotton probably wasn't the best choice, but this coat used up nearly three yards of interfacing along most of the seams, so they are not stretching anywhere.

This was my first time sewing a coat and overall it went pretty well. There is some funny business going on, such as I sewed the toggles slightly askew so it pulls the front up a bit, when I was attaching the lining something stretched a bit somewhere leading to some bunching on the inside corner, and my first welt pockets are not even but they are serviceable. I am treating this coat as a wearable muslin.

I cut a straight size 36 and it fits overall. I wish I had lengthened it for my long torso by a couple of inches, but there were not lengthen/shorten lines on the crazy pattern piece. The coat is essentially one pattern piece that is both the front and back, with no side seam, so I wasn't sure how to extend it without skewing something. I'll investigate that further if I make this coat again.

The instructions included with this pattern were fantastic. They are illustrated clearly and all the steps are very nicely explained. I was able to do my first welt pockets relatively painlessly with the very detailed instructions. There was also a reminder at each step you needed to press and provided instructions for finishing the main seams with a faux flat felling. The multi-sizing on this pattern was also great. It is set up so each size is a different layer in Adobe Reader and you only need to print off the size(s) you desire. Very clever. I would buy another pattern from this company!

The pockets are placed pretty much where a side seam would be and I find them too far back. Instead of being able to easily put my hands in the pockets, I have to search for them and it bothers me. I would move them forward just an inch or so.

My colour pallet does not normally include teal, but I just kept coming back to this fabric when I was at the store and I decided that it was meant to be. I'm still a bit iffy about this colour as a coat, but stay tuned for the pants I made from the leftover fabric because they are fantastic.

For the lining, I chose a cotton flannel gingham fabric. I really hate being cold and I thought the flannel would be perfect for early spring and late fall weather. I'm laughing in the picture above because I had just asked Matthew if he was taking a picture of my coat or my breasts.

This project took me about a month from fabric purchasing to hem finishing (which I was able to do with my blind hem foot, such a great invention). I worked on it an hour here and there when I needed a break from dissertation writing. This has been my largest project with so many outer coat and lining pieces, but so worth it. The only problem has been that I finished it right as the weather started heating up here and haven't been able to wear it outside anywhere.

Here is a preview of my awesome pants! I'll write up a post about them soon.