I Can’t Get Enough *Something* In My Life

Take a good look at this, folks:

The dratted laundry room

Remember when I told you that I came home and the garage was raining, because the washing machine had broken? Today, we had the disaster recovery people in to assess the flood damage. That entire room, plus the older kids closet (on your right, behind that wall) and the linen closet (to the left) have to be ripped out. The whole area has to be dried with giant fans — whee! — for three days, then put back together with glue and thumbtacks. Ok, maybe not with glue and thumbtacks but I’m a little worried. We’re talking major construction here, most of which I HOPE will be covered by insurance but I am not optimistic. The older boys will not be able to sleep in their room until the whole process is finished, and the cats will have to be locked up in our bedroom for a lot of the construction period.

On the plus side….there is no plus side. We will end up replacing all of the upstairs carpet, but only because it looks effing stupid to replace a rectangle of good carpet next to the pile of putrefaction that is our current carpet. Necessary, and something I’ll be grateful for later (probably), but it’s going to cost a buttload of money we don’t really have. ARGH. Not to mention moving all the furniture and other stuff. DOUBLE ARGH.

I don’t know how much sewing I’ll be able to get done. Between the fact that I’ll have no laundry room for a week or three, and the construction and the dust….well, I might actually be driven to sewing “cheap and cheerful” if I run out of clothing, but I’m hoping it won’t go to that extreme. I do plan to continue blogging, but it’ll be light on the sewing projects.

My MIL came over today to make her famous Seafood Salad for dinner, to cheer us up. The ensuing overfeeding on top of a stressful day led to several ridiculous conversations, like this one:

Me: I really don’t get enough crab in my life.

Hubs: WHAT!?!  (I repeated myself)  Oh, I thought you said you didn’t get enough crap in your life and I was gonna say, if two weeks of construction isn’t enough crap…

Trust me, darlings, it’s enough crap. Crap I have in abundance.

Sci Fi Sunday — Babylon 5

babylon 5 poster

(image from wikitvs.com)

Babylon 5 is one of those shows that falls into the cult category of science fiction. Oddly enough, unlike some other rabid cult shows (Battlestar Galactica and Firefly, for example), it doesn’t have much crossover appeal and most of its fans are diehard geeks. Being only a peripheral geek, I heard the name thrown around for a while before I even bothered to seek out the DVDs. Finally, I rented the first DVD of the first season — oh, about a year ago — and sent it back when I couldn’t get into the first episode.


To be fair, the first episode — hell, the entire first season — IS hard to get into. But after hearing all the fan praise, I decided to give the first season a second try and…well, the cult has another member. Because OH MY GOD, I am mad for this show! Babylon 5 has some of the best continual story arcs of any show I’ve ever seen. Everything is connected. Pay attention when someone has a vision or something bizarre happens, because it WILL show up later. Someone behaving badly? All will be revealed in the next episode or two. A connection between two people? You aren’t imagining things, it’s there. To tell you the truth, I became a fan of Michael O’Hare by the end of the first season and wasn’t too sure about Bruce Boxleitner, who replaces him in Season 2. I mean, the only thing I knew about Boxleitner is that he used to be married to Melissa Gilbert. So, it took a lot of convincing to turn me into a fangirl. Oops, a rabid squeeing fangirl.

The criticism you will hear about Babylon 5 is generally that it’s a ripoff of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The timeline is dubious on this since Babylon 5 premiered in 1994 but was in production before DS9, which premiered earlier in 1993. Be that as it may, after the first season, the two shows really don’t have much in common. DS9 is a typical Star Trek show, with most of their story arcs lasting a single episode and the focus being on the characters aboard the space station.  Babylon 5 has a larger focus, with story lines that take it outside of the station quite often, and a scope that includes large parts of the galaxy including Earth. The story arcs also delve pretty intensely into politics, religion, civil disobedience, the nature of military command, et cetera. I think my love of space opera in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga (reviewed here) is part of what draws me to Babylon 5, because the show really forces me to think outside of my box. Is Londo evil or misguided? Is Garibaldi a good friend or a self-aggrandizing wretch or both? Will the lovers end up together or is their relationship doomed from the start? WHY CAN’T I GO TO THERE? Honestly, I love B-5 so much that I want to tongue-kiss my TV. Which I won’t do because it’s gross and unnecessary and will make the screen blurry.

OH, and I just finished the third season. DO NOT SPOIL THE REST FOR ME IN COMMENTS. Stabby does not even describe how I might feel.

I Can’t Get My Sh*t Together

Really, it’s bad. This is what happens when I don’t have a routine. I get up in the morning, go to the gym, then lay around until lunchtime. After lunch, I make sure to do something enriching with the kids (mostly drive them around to various appointments or drag them to the pool while I read). Then I come home, have Happy Hour and watch TV. Except, I’m 3/4 of the way through Season 3 of Babylon 5 and I have fallen in love so desperately with the characters that I’m putting off watching. Have you ever done that — dragged out the process of  finishing a book or movie or TV series because you love it so much? It’s a sickness.

Basically, I’m watching a lot of Rambo. I don’t really know how to explain that except that Rambo is on TV ad nauseum this summer. So far I’ve seen First Blood, Rambo, and First Blood II. I am not attracted to Stallone and I had my fill of Vietnam vet movies from growing up in the late 80s/early 90s but I seem to be unable to handle anything else. Rambo is the only person, I mean mammal, not annoying me right now and I’m including this one:

Lila, sleeping in hedgehog pose.

Yes, I know, isn’t she adorable? I want to snorgle her every time she does that (snorgle = kiss and cuddle while inhaling into her fur). Except, this isn’t my most frequent view of her. THIS is what I get treated to, every time I sit down:

*sigh* CATS.

And yes, I am totally surfing the net and watching TV at the same time. I am multitalented.

I have no motivation to sew anything, or to start any new projects. It might be the heat. I have some material set aside for more panties, so that might get done but otherwise I am out of mojo. To be fair, I did buy a pair of jeans from the local thrift, planning to cut them off into shorts…but then I came home and our garage was raining.

Because the washing machine broke. My kids were brilliant, and called their grandma. They’ve already figured out that Dad isn’t coming home for a domestic crisis and Mom is more likely to lose her mind than anything else. My MIL drove over and called the plumber, which is just as well since she tends to attract capable people. The Hubs and I tend to attract idiots. I don’t know what that is about either, but at any rate, we need a new washing machine. Fortunately, the kids made tie-dye shirts at camp and they were sent home with instructions to “wash separately!” so the only thing in the machine was Oldest’s tie-dye shirt. I just wrung it out and hung it up. It could have been towels…*shudder*

I was going to tell you about the zit on my chin, but then I came to my senses and realized this post was boring enough. Also, I want to take a vacation to Florida and spend the rest of the summer in my bathing suit and cut off jean shorts. I’m blaming Magic Mike, global warming and my FUBAR washing machine for all of this.


I made underwear! And here they are:

Ignore my toe at the bottom and the pattern weights in the upper right corner. I completely failed to frame this photo correctly.

I actually took some pictures of the underwear on me, but decided the internet was not ready for a photo of me in my underthings. Or maybe I’m not ready to post a photo of me in my underthings. Yeah, that’s probably it. The pattern I used for the panties was Kwik Sew 3554, here:

The front of the pattern only shows two chemise styles, but there is a pair of bikini panties included. Sadly, this seems to be out of print on the Kwik Sew website.

I originally tried to make the panties in the medium size with picot elastic, according to the instructions and they came out like this:

Unfortunately, the pattern called for 30″ of elastic around the waist and that wound up being far too big.

So, since I wanted to use fold over elastic (FOE) for the panties, I traced off the pattern again and took 1/4″ off the seam allowance at the waist and the legs. I also attached the leg elastic while the panties were flat (rather than in the round as the instructions would have you do) and then sewed up one side and attached the waistband elastic while flat. I stretched the waistband elastic as I sewed it and it wound up fitting perfectly at 27″ rather than 30″. I am actually amazed at how well these panties fit with only a waist elastic adjustment — no pulling at the legs or butt, no creeping up and the waistband is where I like it.

For the undershirt, I used Zoe’s free pdf pattern available here at “So, Zo…” She calls it a vest because she’s British, but I think of it as a camisole or cami. It’s a pretty easy pattern, but I forgot to turn off scaling (pay attention to those print instructions, people!) so it printed too small. I decided that because I was in a hurry, I would just cut it out in the largest size, which is 16. That turned out ok, but I think I want to reprint it in the correct size. It does feel a bit tight in the underarm area, but there is a good possibility that the sizing is less to blame than my wide-set ribs and large shoulders. Anyhow, the pattern is well-drafted enough and cute enough in it’s current fit to try again. I would have preferred to match the FOE on the tank and bottoms, but unfortunately I only had two-yard lengths and both the panties and vest require about two yards each. I plan to get more elastic off the internet, since even the stuff available in the Fabric District in LA is quite expensive when you need four yards. I should also say that the FOE on the cami is a closer match to the print than it appears to be in the photo. That kind of dark purple is indistinguishable from navy or black to my camera.

By the way, the word “skivvies” refers specifically to an undershirt/underpants combination. It was originally (and still is) used to refer to the underwear worn by men under their military uniforms. Nobody really knows where the word originated before that or how it came to refer to underwear. Fascinating, huh?

Film Review — Magic Mike

Sorry for my absence, y’all! WordPress went hokey on Friday and wouldn’t let me post pictures, so I had to abandon the post I’d planned for that day.

Anyhow, I did something rather silly yesterday. I went to see Magic Mike in the theater, by myself, out of sheer curiosity.

(movie still from justjared.com)

Let me say up front, I am not a fan of male strippers. Something about a guy wriggling around in a g-string while screaming women stuff dollar bills in the elastic makes me acutely embarrassed for everyone involved. However, I did enjoy the movie and can give it a cautious thumbs-up. Will it win any awards? No. Will it make you feel better about the world? Eh, no, but I consider that an advantage. I expected a traditional feel-good movie ending, and Magic Mike doesn’t really deliver on that front. What it does is portray the world these people live in as much more nuanced (and hard to escape) than you would expect. From what I’ve heard, Channing Tatum wrote the script based on his experiences in a male show so a lot of the characters and story lines ring true.

The good:

1) Channing Tatum. The boy can dance, and I’m starting to have some serious appreciation for his acting skills as well. He has excellent comic timing and no self-consciousness — watch him launch himself into a fistfight while nearly naked, and you’ll be cringing at the potential damage.

2) Matthew McConaughey. He was pretty much born to play this role, and he revels in it.

3) The movie avoids a number of traditional boy-girl cliches. Mike’s friend-with-benefits Joanna is a well-rounded character, the Kid’s sister (played by Cody Horn, daughter of former Warner president Alan Horn) isn’t a fan of stripping and never does accept it, there is no blame or condescension for anyone’s sexuality. There ARE some creeptastic moments from a sexual perspective, but nearly all of them are due to recreational drug use which Magic Mike roundly condemns. By the way, some reviews accuse Horn of ruining the movie but I think her understated performance works for the character, who actually does spend much of the movie being confused, exasperated or disgusted.

4) Gabriel Iglesias, Joe Manganiello, and Adam Rodriguez turn in excellent side performances.

The bad:

1) Alex Pettyfer. He’s been accused in the press of being a diva on set, but I can’t tell how much of my distaste for him is actually due to the character he plays.

2) Matt Bomer. I continue to be mystified at people who call Matt Bomer an actor. He can show up and look pretty, but I have yet to see him act in anything and in this movie, he concentrates so hard during the dance scenes that he looks like he’s trying to perform brain surgery.

3) Kevin Nash, who plays Tarzan. To be fair to Mr. Nash, his appearance and behavior are much more typical of my experiences with male stripping than the pretty guys in Magic Mike. However, I’m not sure he can dance and after the first few minutes, his character barely speaks or interacts with the other guys. Also, I mistook him for Mickey Rourke until I saw the final credits at the end.

So…if you’ve got a couple free hours, you could do worse than watching Magic Mike.

What I’ve Been Doing Instead of Blogging

This morning, we dropped Oldest and Middlest off at the pier for their first day of camp. Yes, I said the pier — this year’s camp is on an island, with a two-hour boat ride over. Cue lots of Bonine for a very worried Middlest who is prone to motion sickness. They won’t be back until Sunday, and I am sorely missing them already. Oldest has had plenty of Scout camp experience (as did Middlest during his Cub years), but this is the first time we’ve sent them off to a non-Scout, mixed gender camp. I hope they get to have the camp experience I remember from my childhood — fun and annoying counselors, questionable meals, crushes and feuds.

Which means the last week has been full of this:

Picture two more stacks of clothes. Now picture fitting all that in two duffel bags. YEAH.

Lots of laundry and counting items, and yesterday’s late night dash to Walmart when I realized they did NOT have enough underwear between them. I sent them off with self-addressed, stamped envelopes…is it too much to expect they’ll write? Yes, probably.

On top of that:

1) It’s hot. I promise not to whine overmuch about it because we are coastal and I KNOW it’s nothing here compared to many parts of the country. Still, I don’t normally see this kind of dead, white, spend-a-few-minutes-in-the-sun-and-get-burnt heat until late August. I already have a sunburn, and we’ve only spent one day at the pool. This is not a good sign.

2) I sewed a skirt. I will model it later. It is absurdly simple and the wrong color for my palette. I should have made the pattern in black knit. I should buy black knit, but I never do because I’m an idiot who forgets about basics. I’m telling myself it’s a wearable muslin.

3) I’m trying out a new DENTIST tomorrow and oh boy….not looking forward to it. I decided to fire my dentist after having him tell me for the millionth time that my tooth pain was due to an uneven bite. When he knows that I’m prone to getting cavities under my fillings and every time I have him yank a filling, I’m right about the decay. He also tried the “uneven” bite nonsense on the Hubs who broke that tooth (due to untreated decay) three weeks later. Hmph. Anyway, I have two teeth that need work and this ain’t gonna be pretty.

4) All three kids did their summer toy purge last week. This was the damage:

I swear, I don’t know how they end up with so much crap. Some of the stuff in that paper bag actually needs to go into the garbage.

5) I am still reading a lot of trash, except I tried to switch it up with Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. Yikes. You want to talk trash? I had to stick it in the bathroom for the last 100 pages because the only way I could tolerate the overblown prose any further was in two-minute increments on the toilet. That’s a good way to get through questionable books, by the way — save them for your bathroom reading. Have just finished Woolf, am in fact quite possibly permanently done with her oeuvre (I did read Mrs. Dalloway in college as well and found it strangely unmemorable), and am considering putting my other unread classics in the bathroom.

So tell me about yourselves, chickadees. Are you sweltering? Suffering under the burden of terrible writing? Sewing anything worthwhile? Any fond memories of summer camp?

I Sew and Fitting Happens

I have been sewing. What I have not been doing is actually making anything worth wearing. Here is Simplicity 1808, the shorts version:

Now, if you are observant, you will have noticed that this is essentially Simplicity 1887 with the shorts about two inches longer. I made this pattern because I did the 1887 version and felt like it could use a bit more length. However, I think the longer legs make the shorts fit more awkwardly, and the stretch sateen I used is probably too thick for this pattern. The entire effect over my hips is less than desirable, but I would generally wear my top over it like so:

My feeling here is kind of “meh” but I might keep them around as sort of a wearable muslin, if I can get over the way the fabric catches on my underpants and on itself. I think the pattern definitely requires a more lightweight, slippery fabric.

I made three muslins this week in an effort to see if I could recreate some jean shorts. The only one worth considering is a mashup of Built by Wendy’s carpenter jeans pattern (now OOP), Simplicity 4110, combined with Butterick 5682 for the back yoke and waistband:

The bottom is leftover twill and the waistband is a way too stretchy and lightweight poplin — I just wanted to test the fit of the pieces.

That actually looks better in the photo than I thought it did. Hmm…of course, the back is a little awkward:

The back waistband is too wavy because of the material I used, but I think I’m more concerned with the weird fabric gathering around the back seam and under my butt. Does that mean I need more fabric back there, or less?

As a muslin, this isn’t terrible but I’m not sure it’s anything to write home about either. WHY don’t pattern companies make patterns for the clothes we see in the stores? I’m sure there’s a good business reason for their refusal to acknowledge fashion, but I DON’T GET IT. Either everything has to be designer and way overcomplicated (which I do understand — that type of sewing definitely has its place) or completely dowdy and something my grandmother wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. My kingdom for the ability to use a CAG drafting program!

Dear Romance Writers…

I love your stuff. I really, really do — so much so that I neglected all my sci fi this week to read your heavy breathing instead. Yay, sexytimes! HOWEVER, I do have a bone to pick with y’all:

Funny Reminders Ecard: The only thing more torturous than the sex in Fifty Shades of Grey is the writing in Fifty Shades of Grey.

1) For the love of all that is holy, your character’s interest is not “peeked.” It is not even “peaked.” The word is “piqued” and I will hit you over the head with a “pike” until you get it right.

2) DO NOT name your female character Brie. I will laugh and point at you. The only exception would be if Brie is a pale-faced girl whose tough exterior conceals a soft heart torn in two by her love for Camembert and Gouda. I’d read that.

3) “Too thin” is not a flaw. Neither is being feisty, spunky, or outspoken. Neither is having too large a chest (is that even a thing? Now I want to read a romance about those freakish triple HHH porn stars). If you want to make me interested in your characters, give them real challenges to overcome. Make them disabled, older, overweight, cranky. Give them acne, addictions and dental problems. Perfect people are boring.

4) There are enough cowboys in Romancelandia. Also, enough firefighters, cops, club owners and self-made gazillionaires. Just once, I want to read about a bike messenger or a cat breeder. Heck, I’ll take a good plumber. God knows they’re hard enough to find in real life.

5) Beautiful, virginal college students are like honest, faithful politicians. Nobody has ever seen one, but they always exist in someone’s misty watercolored memories. Ugly, promiscuous college students are way more interesting to write about anyway.

6) NO MORE ELVES, DAMMIT. Unless they’re the blood-drinking, crack your bones open and eat the marrow type — then ok.

7) Vampires do not sparkle, and they need to be at least somewhat dangerous to be appealing. Ditto were-animals. We’re not talking live-action throw rugs here.

8) Stockholm Syndrome is the exception, not the rule. People generally do NOT fall in love with their captors, hence the word “syndrome.” Otherwise, it would just be called “that thing that happens to prisoners.”

9) There’s a thin line between “Alpha” and “asshole”. Try not to confuse the two.

10) Stop describing women as having curves and men as angular. We all have curves, otherwise we’d poke each other with a bunch of corners if we got too close. You don’t want to know the mental picture I get when the main character is pressed up against the “hard planes” of a guy’s chest.  I mean, OW.

Just a few suggestions, ya know….so I don’t throw my books across the room.

Fabric Hate

I’ve had a frustrating week, creatively speaking.

1) I tried to make a Renfrew out of two cheap t-shirts. That did not work, partly because the material was too cheap and nasty but also because I tried to make the V-neck view and let’s just say….it has a steep learning curve.

2) I tried to make a t-shirt from my TNT pattern (New Look 6735) and the material was so shiny, scratchy and nasty that after two different machines chewed on it, I decided to take that as an omen and bin it. The print is cute and I still have quite a bit, but no idea how to use it. It will NOT take a crease, is impossible to press, and is slightly sheer.

3) I started cutting out a shorts pattern from this fabric today:

I don’t think I like this material either. It is a medium weight stretch sateen with a satiny surface that has a slightly rough feel under the satin. It collects fuzz like crazy. It also has ginormous flowers on a black/gray/cream background, and the flowers are of the size and style that invariably look obscene in the wrong place. You know what I mean. I have to cut it very carefully, and the whole time I can feel the rougher weave underneath the satin surface. AAAAAGH. I just creeped myself out describing that.

I find the shorts pattern rather disagreeable as well. I’m annoyed by shorts that expect me to do a full fly front treatment for material that is lighter weight than denim or twill.

(Your homework activity for today: Say “full fly front treatment” three times fast. Whee! That was fun.)

4) One of my former bullies from high school started following me on Pinterest. Ok, that one is just weird. I’m positive he’s not looking for crafty tips. Maybe he needs to prove to himself how dorky I still am? But then, who collects ammunition to use against someone they see, at best, twice a year? I am baffled. BAFFLED, I TELL YOU.

Anyhow, my sewing mojo has gone completely to hell and it’s all the fault of my whimsical fabric buying habits. I am going to exercise restraint from now on! I will confine myself to jerseys and twills! I will purchase better quality in much smaller quantities!

P.S., I gave myself this pep talk before. I didn’t listen then either.


Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

Am I quoting a song here? I have the distinct impression that I am, but I could be hallucinating.

I did sew another skirt last week, this one from Simplicity 5101 (long since OOP). 5101 is a juniors pattern, and features elastic-waist pleated skirts. It is also super-comfy so I made one out of jersey:

I didn’t bother to stitch the pleats down because jersey has the tendency to fall back into place when you sit down/stand up. I made this in the largest size (15/16) and I feel like I could go down a size in the front, but that might just be because of the forgiving nature of the material. This stuff only has two-way stretch, so it’s not great for super-fitted clothing but it’s very comfortable otherwise. I also wanted to make a skirt because the main background of this material is cream and cream has a tendency to make me look like I’m carrying the Black Death. Keeping it away from my face is best. However, I couldn’t pass up the rows of roses in varying stages of decay….very Snow White and the Huntsman, I think.

I did the waistband and hem with my coverstitch machine and I really like the way it turned out:

See how neat and (almost) professional? If I could just get it a little closer to the edge….

Anyhow, this is a bit shorter than I really prefer (and I know I’m getting old because I’m starting to want to LENGTHEN my skirts) so I don’t know if I’ll make more like this or if I’ll try to add some inches to the pattern.

The kids have two more days of school and I’m barely able to focus myself. I have a few other projects in the pipeline, but I keep pushing them back because HELLO SUN and NO MORE HOMEWORK. Dirty little secret of adulthood #2543: the school calendar still holds way too much sway over our lives. Who doesn’t feel renewed and ready for growth in September? I rest my case.