Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Reconstructed (and it feels so good...)

Recently I have had a renewed interest in crafting and sewing. Part of it was successfully constructing the Halloween costumes for me and Miss Thing, and part of it was being in a place again that inspires me and sparks my imagination. I took the plunge recently and bought a new (brand-new!) sewing machine because it was cheap and I thought the tension on mine was shot (turns out it just need a little love and a new needle.) The new one is plastic and very lightweight - I nearly tipped it over trying it out - and it doesn't have the solid sound or feel of my 40 year old Kenmore. It is fast, however, and the tension dials all work, so I guess that is something in its favor. I decided yesterday that its inaugural project needed to be something quick and dirty that I would feel triumphant about. I went with a sweater reconstruction that I have been contemplating for months.

I had forgotten about Sweet Sassafras (her real name is Sarai) for a while. I voraciously followed her when I was addicted to Craftster about two years ago, and I read her blog religiously. Then my computer went dark for a while and I had to reconstruct my bookmarks from memory. She was one of the ones that got lost. I rediscovered her because S. sent me a link to her patterns, and in researching fit and ease of sewing, I stumbled upon her website again. I remembered how much I enjoy her sense of style and her writing, and how much I lovelovelove her reconstructions. One was a recon where she did nothing but improve the fit of a particular cardigan. It reminded me of my own sweater I had been too lazy and uninspired to improve upon. It is the softest, sweetest dove gray cashmere blend - from Fred Meyer. It was boxy and unformed, and had developed a rip at the neckline and lost a few buttons. I followed Sarai's instructions for fitting it.

here it is pinned. you can see its basic non-shape.

Because I am lazy, I did not baste. Instead, I sketched the new seam lines lightly, with a Sharpie because I couldn't find my fabric marker.
I regraded the sleeve, to your left, because it was a weird angle at first.

It was a matter of perhaps three and half minutes of sewing to make it into an article of clothing I would be happy to wear out of the house. I ran up the new seams and mended to neck tear with a little satin stitch. Then I spent about 45 minutes searching for this particular cream colored lace, which I knew I had used TWO WEEKS AGO in the creation of the costumes. I couldn't rest until I found it. When it was finally located, I went about the business of embellishing it.

remember when anthropologie made things that were delicate and feminine and vintage-y? that's what i was shooting for.

In addition to the lace, I added pearl buttons in place of the plain faux-shell ones that were there, and I finally trimmed the neck in the last of this delightful French velvet ribbon in ivory. I couldn't resist adding a tiny bow, even though my first instinct was that is was a bit twee. I might remove it later; right now I like it.

I felt so good about finishing it that I put it on immediately and wore it for the rest of the day. By the end of the night, I was feeling so creative that I broke out some jewelry making supplies and made a necklace, too. I have two more cardigans that could stand a little love, and I have a bag of vintage trims someplace that, in keeping with my philosophy, I am not longer saving for later. Well, not much later, anyway.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Are you hungry?

I had a discussion with La Fabulous the other day about cooking and she expressed again that she thinks she doesn't know how to cook. This is problematic when you are attempting to woo someone via their stomach (not that I have ever done this *cough*.) I decided that it would be a travesty if she - or any of you! - was to perhaps lose a chance at the love of one's life because you were forced to go to IHOP because you couldn't whip together one quick and astonishing meal from things you can buy at the bodega across the street. So: frittata.

You will need: Eggs, about 3 per person. Potatoes. Some veggies - I always use onions, but also like bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach, zucchini... things you wouldn't hate in an omelet. Sausage, if you are a sausage eater. Cheese, if you feel like it. A touch of cream or milk or half and half or non-vanilla soy milk. Salt and pepper and cayenne if you like; garlic too, powder or minced.
First, get all your veggies ready. Chop them up into bite sized-ish pieces. Slice your potatoes into rounds thinly.

this is the minimalist version - peppers, onions, potatoes

Now choose a pan. I was making a lot of breakfast for a lot of people, and used three Russet potatoes, a whole red pepper and most of a largish onion, so I went with a giant cast iron skillet. When I make this for just me and the boy, I use an 8" square brownie pan and about 1/3 the stuff. Oil the pan generously and put your potatoes in so they form the crust.

Saute any of the fillings that require it - any meat that is raw, like sausage or bacon or the neighbor's awful cat, and any veggies that won't cook thoroughly in the time it takes to bake, like onions or mushrooms or broccoli. This is where I toss the seasonings in: salt and pepper and garlic. Softer veggies or ones that will overcook, like bell peppers and zucchini, don't need this step.

Layer your fillings on top of your potatoes.
just throw it all in. if i put cheese in, it goes on the bottom.

Now your eggs. Crack as many as you need - two or three per person - and add about a teaspoon of dairy (or soy) for each egg you use. Like I said, I was feeding lots, so I used a whole dozen eggs and a 1/4 cup of soy creamer (this was the dairy free version. I found out later it should have been meat-free, too. My bad.) Whisk them all up until they are creamy and light.
Then pour it on the top of your stuff.
this is balanced rather precariously, which was pointed out to me as I almost threw it to the floor in my frenzy to photograph it.

You should have had your oven preheating at this point, but I won't tell if you forgot. 350-ish, and closer to the bottom than the top of the oven is better. It takes about 40 minutes, until it doesn't jiggle when you shake it and the edges are a little browned. If you want cheese and didn't put it in before, it's alright to melt it on the top.

Cut this into wedges and serve it with sourdough toast and plenty of butter and marmalade. Or make muffins. Muffins are always delicious. If you're eating this for dinner, opt for a warm crusty loaf of bread and a light red wine. I prefer the sausage to be chorizo at dinner. Green bell peppers and tomato with the chorizo make it like a Spanish torta. The best thing about this is, there is the potential for lots of prep work to be shared with the person you are out to impress, while standing shoulder to shoulder in your tiny kitchen, talking about your travels and feeding each other bits of cheese. And if the person should turn out to be the sort who eats your scrumptious meal and never returns your phone calls, you can take comfort in the fact that you probably blew less than $15 on dinner, not counting the wine, and that's what you would have spent on take-out.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I started another one because no one is too busy to be pretty

Okay, you guys. I need your help. I just started a new blog (I know. I KNOW.) and it can't happen without you. I have vision, and I need some people to assist me in making it come to pass. Head over to Why Are You Saving That? and read the post, then do it. I want to have lots of pictures of lots of people wearing and using their lovely things. Please? I'm not afraid to beg...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Life gets in the way

I promised you all the wonderful costume creation updates, but it didn't happen. For one thing, as usual, I waited until the eleventh hour to make the darned thing (really the 11:30th hour, if the truth be told) and, as usual, I had a difficult-to-resolve issue with my computer that made it impossible to blog for a couple of weeks. So here I am back again, many many hours after my last post, and Halloween has come and gone without a peep from me on the making of the White Rabbit. It was successful, that much I know, because I got an extra Bingo! card because of it.

Bingo!? you ask? Yes, the New Orleans Bingo! Show, witnessed in full glory on Halloween itself in the city which is perhaps the love of my life. The whole reason I had to have a lightweight packable costume was so it would fit in my suitcase and be comfortable to wear for twelve hours outdoors in the company of 20,000 of my friends at Voodoo Experience. It was brilliant and beautiful and I don't regret for a moment that I forwent the dubious pleasures of the Gourds in order to watch Perry Farrell declare, "Tonight I am a superhero!" Also, I saw Gogol Bordello and the Black Keys and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, who are as famous to me as Jane's Addiction, and a whole host of others. And I got to spend my favorite holiday in the company of two people that I couldn't love more if they were related to me by blood. I was deliriously happy that we were all together.

she was so happy to see those gypsy punks!

New Orleans is not a town for everyone. It is brimming with ghosts and legends and glitter and dirt. It is urgent and spooky and difficult like a lover. It is not full of convenience and quirk. It takes a certain darkness of spirit to adore it, and that is trait that my companions and I revel in sharing.

this was hardly even a costume

It was harder to bid the city adieu this time. Each time I visit a new place, I find myself wondering if I could slot myself into the life that is there, if I could make a place for myself in that world. Would this be my grocery store? Would I wash my clothes here? Would I fall in with these marvelous people, become their friend, have dinner parties at their houses? There is never the questioning when I am in New Orleans. I think to myself: this would be the place I would buy milk. This would be the cafe where I ate Sunday morning brunch. My children would go to this school, they would wear these uniforms gladly. These would be my people, my friends, my tribe. And I wait anxiously until the time comes to return.

a certain darkness of spirit, indeed