Thursday, January 31, 2008

Let it rise, let it rise, let it rise

The cinnamon roll saga continues.
I'm like a dog with a bone. Sometimes I just can't let go, and this whole baking fiasco really pissed me off. (Sorry, but that's how I felt).
At work I told my boss my sad story and asked for her advise, as she's a fabulous cook and baker.
She felt that I'd overworked the dough and should have spread it out by hand and not used a rolling pin. When I admitted that I'd used 1% milk and not whole milk she felt that it really didn't make a difference. Another co-worker suggested that I shouldn't have used rapid rise yeast but that idea was also vetoed.
Then I talked to my mother who, after whispering into the phone that my dad was driving her crazy, told me that she always uses a rolling pin, and rapid rise yeast, and that I probably wasn't letting the dough rise long enough.
Rapid rise yeast or not, you need to let the dough double in size.
After greasing the dough, cover it and place it in the oven with a bowl of water and set to warm. You might want to turn the oven off after about 10 minutes or so and the dough will most likely be doubled in a about a 1/2 hour (for rapid rise) and hour with regular yeast.

The other hints she gave me were:

If using a Kitchen Aid Mixer (I do) 2 minutes of mixing is fine. 10 minutes if kneading by hand.
After rising, punch the dough down gently then cut in half for 2 batches.
After the dough is rolled out (about 1/2 inch thick) spread melted butter over it (I was spreading unmelted butter on mine), then sprinkle your mixture of cinnamon and sugar over it. Sprinkle until the butter absorbs all of it.
Roll the dough up like a jelly roll and then cut it by slipping a piece of heavy thread under it, tying it over the top, and when you tighten the knot it slices through the dough without crushing it. Repeat with the other half of the batch.
Cut each roll about 2 inches wide.
Place your rolls on either a greased cookie sheet or greased baking pan, leaving enough space for the rolls to hopefully double in size.
Set in a warm place once again for about 1/2 hour for rapid rise yeast or an hour for regular yeast.
After dough has risen but before placing in the oven, brush the top of the rolls with melted butter. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes.
Let cool a little before spreading the glaze over them.

Glaze: no exact measurements.

1 or 2 cups of confectioners sugar.
Make a well in the center,
Add a small (TBSP or so) of HOT water (not milk) and a pat of butter.
About 1/2 tsp of vanilla (not too much or it will make the glaze brown).
Beat with a spoon until smooth but not soupy (add water or sugar to get right texture) and spread over warm rolls.
I made them again tonight and what a difference.

Sliced and ready to rise again.

After sitting (covered in a warm place) for about 45 minutes. Not perfectly shaped but they'll do.

Frosted and ready to eat.

I'm off to the Big City tomorrow night after work, so no sewing this weekend. I have some questions floating out in internet space that deal with my inner-lining sewing issues, so I'll hopefully solve those next week!

Hans didn't like my post of yesterday. He said that talent or intelligence is not a guarantee of a happy life. He cited Bobby Fischer, the brilliant chess champion (who died a couple of weeks ago) as an example. I guess I understand what he was getting at, but that's easy to say when you and everyone in your family is smart. You could paper a wall with the degrees that Hans, his brothers, and their father have earned. But it was nice of him to try to make me feel better anyway!

Like I've said before, Hans is a keeper.

Oh Talent, Where Art Thou?

What a crappy night! I decided at work today, that tonight I would get a huge amount of sewing done on my Burda dress and I also felt a sudden urge to make cinnamon rolls. (It's best to not question my urges).
This also meant I would not run tonight. I ran 5 miles last night when it was almost 50 degrees but we got that hideous wind and ice storm today that brought the temps down into the teens. I can run in any temperature but not in high winds.
How much sewing did I get done?
2 darts and 2 shoulder seams.
I kid you not!
And then when I pressed the shoulder seams, I melted the inner-lining on the upper back bodice! I hate crappy polyester organza. I thought organza was supposed to take heat! And like I've stated before, JoAnn's only carries polyester everything. I asked my local JoAnn's store if they had batiste (which is what I wanted for the inner-lining) and of course they don't. My iron wasn't even that hot. Luckily it didn't melt to the fashion fabric.
In the meantime I found a recipe on the internet for cinnamon rolls.
I knew I had to make these rolls as it was one of those old secret, family recipes. You know what I mean. One of those recipes that everyone begged Dear Old Aunt Martha to PLEASE bring to every family function. The recipe that everyone feared would go to the grave with Dear Old Aunt Martha. The recipe that the author swore she got off of Dear Old Aun Martha while Dear Old Aunt Martha was on her death bed (who probably only coughed it up after the author willfully deprived poor Dear Old Aunt Martha of her morphine).

Using rapid rise yeast I whipped up a batch of Dear Old Aunt Martha's cinnamon rolls.
While the rolls were baking I shot into the sewing room to sew 2 shoulder seams, 2 darts, and melt my inner-lining.
Back in the kitchen, I yanked my cinnamon rolls out of the oven.
Dear Old Aunt Martha (no doubt in retaliation of the morphine denial) had the last laugh.
These rolls are plain old blah.
Totally tasteless.
The glaze which is simply made out of powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk, tastes like powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk!
The rolls, which should be thick, and heavy, and dripping with butter and cinnamon are slightly dry and taste oddly artificial.
How difficult is it to ruin cinnamon rolls?
Well, give me a go at them and I'll show you.

I hate not being good at anything.

It's depressing.

My mother can do anything. Her sewing is couture quality, her baking incredible. At 72 she still makes hundreds of dozens of cookies each Christmas. Years ago she used to bake and decorate cakes as a job and she was eons ahead of others with her techniques and ideas (And she managed to do all of this while suffering from manic depression). As a waitress I inwardly cringe at the wedding cakes I see at the functions I work, as they don't begin to measure up to my mother's standards. She still cooks all the holiday meals and the dining room table groans under the load of delicious food it's forced to hold.

My older sister is an unbelievable artist. Even in high school she would draw caricatures of the neighbors, and use pastels to create incredible life like drawings of our pets. Strangely, she would hide these drawings and we would wait till she was out of the house to sneak a peek at them. Why she ended up majoring in anthropology in college is beyond me.

My middle daughter's IQ is considered to be 'gifted', and with no effort what so ever was an amazing short stop for her High School softball team and still holds the home run record. She could have played college softball but wouldn't because she said she only played it for fun. (She's also one the most hard headed, stubborn people you will ever meet!)
My youngest daughter who is a Freshman in college was a starting Varsity soccer keeper this year, works 3 part time jobs and manages to keep a 3.08 GPA. (But she can't for the life of her pick up after herself!).
But before this starts sounding like one of those awful Christmas card updates from your horrid friends who brag ad nauseam about their families, it's not.
I just want to be good at something.


I can't sing, I'm not artistic, I obviously am not an inspired sewist, I can't make a simple batch of cinnamon rolls, my metabolism doesn't work properly, and I suspect I was switched at birth.

I think I might be really good at throwing a pity party though.

But dammit, I will finish that stupid dress. I think I need to realize my limits and stick to easier projects in the future or at some point find a place that offers lessons. I've found that I learn better by example. I will call my mother tomorrow and ask her where the hell I went wrong with the cinnamon rolls.
And then I'll just try to remember that not everyone has a talent.
The world needs average people.

Those also serve, who stand and wait.
That's me.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Will the real blogger please step forward

Tonight was hair cut/color night, so no sewing was done here. Although below is a picture of the Burda cocktail dress with the innerlining attached to the fashion fabric. Not Fun!!!! Both fabrics are slipperier than I care for. If this dress turns out to be wearable I'll be stunned

Uh oh! Is this the real author of Sew at Sea? The Beast? It appears so.

I've warned my co-workers that if I show up for work a little rounder, a little furrier, and a lot nastier, to please make sure that The Beast hasn't assumed my identity.

No Joke!!!

Baby Girl took advantage of the cozy fireplace to get some sleep. This college freshman also has 3 part time jobs! My Hero!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

You Animal!!!

The incident that's in this post came up in conversation recently, and made me realize once again the vast differences in Hans' and my background. I feel that these differences deserve a label of their own.

This label shall be called Life with Hans.

I grew up with pets.

Hans did not.

My family's menagerie ranged anywhere from cats to 'coons, mutts to purebreds.

Hans grew up with none.

Our pets had birthday parties, complete with cakes baked by my mother.

Hans' family was normal.

Imagine then, how Hans, in the early days of our dating, must have felt the day Jamal lost his tail.

Jamal was a skink, which is a fancy word for lizard.

Brought home by Middle Daughter, who from now on shall be known as Jan, (Marcia!Marcia!Marcia!) Jamal had simple needs. These needs being; heat to stay warm, and live crickets to eat. For some reason Jamal's needs suddenly became my responsibility.

Baby Girl, who is 20 months younger than her sister (What the Hell was I thinking! 3 KIDS in 5 years!), took advantage of Jans absence to show off to Hans by taking Jamal out of his aquarium and scratching his little lizard head. In Hans' face.

Jamal, who didn't want his little head scratched, leaped out of Baby Girl's hands and landed with a splat on the kitchen floor.

Leaving behind, his tail.

In Baby Girl's hands.

Thus demonstrating a charming defense mechanism used by skinks.

I immediately started shrieking, all the while doing a bizarre little Mexican Hat Dance in the middle of the floor, and was of no help at all.

Baby Girl, after wildly flinging the severed tail, bellowed, "SHUT UP MOM, JUST SHUT UP!" while she tried to corral poor, confused little Jamal into a corner so she could scoop him back up.

I continued with my hysterical screaming dance, which now included frenzied arm waving.

In the mean time, in the middle of my kitchen table, having landed on the newspaper that Hans had been trying to read, Jamal's disembodied tail was writhing in it's own crazy fashion.

Finally, an astonished Jamal was captured and deposited, tailless, back into his aquarium.

I snatched the newspaper from in front of a motionless Hans, and threw it along with the flip flopping tail, into the garbage can.

I then sank into a chair and not quite sobbing, apologized for the hysteria.

"Believe me!" I implored. "Stuff like this never happens in my house." I lied.

Very calmly and still staring at the spot where his morning newspaper had been, Hans quietly replied, "I just felt it best to remain calm."

Is this man a keeper or what?

This is Chlorox, sometime timid kitty, sometime fierce mouser, placating poor little Jamal.

"Hey Jamal, I'm sure you're just as tasty...I mean nice without your tail as you are with it. Wanna come out and play?"

Thursday, January 24, 2008

So So Sewing

Here is my version of BWOF 09-2007-117. Not my favorite. (I implore you to ignore the fact that this picture was taken in the middle of the winter and I'm not wearing panty hose. Yuck, winter legs!).

First of all, I don't know why I even made it.

Wait! Yes, I do.

I jumped on the Burda band wagon, that's why.

I never would have given this dress a second thought, mainly because you could hardly see any details in the magazine photo. But all of a sudden, all the bloggers that I liked to stalk, were making this dress. And they looked nice.

But I still should have thought it over. Because I don't wear dresses like this. At my office job we wear pants and jeans. We sometimes have to lift or carry products that aren't altogether clean and we would ruin something good. However, in the summer I admit that I do wear what I call sun dresses to work. We are very relaxed there. No dress code and I love it!

And if I need a dress for going out, then I wear something with a lot more pizazz! A lot more!

I decided to go collarless with this dress. I copied Erica's version. Although I can tell that I should have somehow brought the pleats in closer at the top of the neckline. If you click on my version you can see that the pleat is spaced too far apart.

Also, like the idiot that I am, I forgot to shorten the length in the body as I'm only 5 feet tall. So I compensated by making a much bigger seam between the upper bodice and the skirt. Probably something like 2 inches. I'm not sure how it affected the darts in the bottom front, and back, but I had to fiddle with them FAR more than I would have liked.

I cut out a size 38 which is almost exactly my measurements but it was too big through the hips and waist so I took it in at the sides and then had to fiddle with the darts again.

I should never have gone with 2 colors. This dress just chops me in half. If I'm ever to wear it, (and I will force myself) I'll have to liven it up a little. I have some gold trim with little rhinestones that I'm going to hand sew between the bodice and skirt. And when I toss this dress (and believe me I will) I'll cut the trim off and use it again.

I didn't get any sewing done tonight. Happy Hans the Traveling Salesman will be here tomorrow night after a week on the road and I had to do a little (A LOT) of cleaning.

Baby Girl begged me to please feed the cats as one of them was busy licking the kitchen floor. I knew that the cats had plenty of food but after one look at the floor I realized I could probably serve a 7 course meal off of it.

So I spent the evening sweeping, scrubbing, mopping, and going for a 4 mile (sorry, not the 5 I've been striving for) run. It's about 15 degrees here guys! Give me a break.

Here, I've pinned the trim to the front of the dress.
A close up of the trim, note the pins. I took this picture of the cats just a couple of minutes ago. This is where I do my cold weather blogging.

Sally Stitch thinks she's Hot Stuff with MY dress and MY newest wine bag. She can just dream on! I don't know if she realizes it but her hips look huge in MY dress.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Here we are. Hans and Laura actually using the whine/wine bag.

What a wonderful night.

I love hot, cheesy, bubbly, dishes and my appetizer was a creamy spinach and asiago cheese dish served with a fresh baguette.
Completely forbidden and totally to die for!
Followed by chicken, stuffed with goat cheese and mushrooms, and a little potato pie as a side dish.
Hans had salmon which I absolutely love, but never order out, because the restaurant I work at often has it on the buffet and at the end of the night we're allowed to eat the leftovers. (I try to consider it as a huge perk and try not to liken myself to a pig, eating slop).

All in all a wonderful weekend, but back to work and reality.

And hopefully, some sewing.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pretty Woman I Ain't

So I'm in the Big City, and it's Saturday afternoon. Hans wants to go to the pool to do some laps and I'm more than willing to accompany him because this means I get to wait for him at the library.
Libraries are where I find peace. Books are my best friends. Books will never let you down, as unfortunately some people will.
So I was happy.
I'd no sooner found a book, a comfortable chair, and had just propped my feet up when an announcement was made.
The library was closing.
Uh oh.
Because guess what?
I had left my cell phone back at the apartment as you're not allowed to use them in a library and anyway Hans had his, so why would I need mine?
Well, perhaps it would have been nice to have been able to let Hans know where I would be in the event of something unexpected like the closing of the library.
"So what?" You might ask. You're in the Big City. Go somewhere and get a beer or a cup of coffee and then head back to the library at the allotted time and meet him.
All well and good except I had no idea what time he'd dropped me off. 5 minutes or 5 hours in a library seem like the same amount of time to me.
I know it takes Hans about 45 minutes to get in and out of the pool. Should I take the chance of ducking into a diner or a bar and still hook up with him at the library?
Because I hate to admit it but in the shake of a lambs tail I can lose Hans anywhere, even in WalMart. If I take my eyes off of him for one second he's gone (I've got to get that choke chain!). And in 20 something degree weather, I'm not about to participate in an insane game of circling the city and missing each other by seconds all night long.
I walked a block away and dodged into a Barnes & Noble but only stayed a few minutes to warm up, and then headed straight back to the library.
I was lucky. There was a small alcove that afforded me a small amount of protection from the wind but I was still cold.
Moving is the only way to stay warm so I walked up the street and down the street.
Up the street and down the street.

I was, in short, a street walker.

I would then again find shelter in my little alcove.
My eyes were streaming, my nose was frozen, and I'm telling you if I ever become a hooker I'm going to charge and arm and a leg for my services. It's not as easy as it appears.
I continued my little sojourn.
Up the street and down the street.
Again and again.
It was 4o minutes later when I heard a concerned voice call up the street.
It was Hans. Thank God!
Apparently I'd only been in the library about 10 minutes before being kicked out and I'd been on the streets for about 40.
Hans felt so bad. We both lamented the fact that I hadn't brought my cell phone, I reiterated why I hadn't found shelter elsewhere, and then we finally got into his warm car.
I chipped the icicles from my face and held my hands over the heat vents. I detest being cold, and you'd think after nearly a half a century of living in the bitter north that I'd get used to it.
But what really bothered me and still does, is not the fact that I very nearly suffered frostbite!


What really bothers me is the fact that even though I'm certain that I looked like nothing more than a common prostitute is the fact that; not once was I propositioned.

For Valentines Day I want a pair of thigh high boots and another chance at the streets. Does anyone know what Richard Gere is doing that weekend?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

That's Soooo Gay!

I'm in the Big City for the weekend and won't get any sewing done, BUT we'll get to use the whine/wine bag tonight so I'll be sure to get a picture of Hans and I enjoying ourselves with it.

Let me leave you with this:

I read a story that Angelia's Bald Man (Angelia is the cute, little, belly dancer who by the way makes her own costumes) wrote that reminded me of something that happened to Hans and I. The Bald Man's story was about his experience at a gay bar. Now, he's like my boyfriend; not at all afraid of gay men. I think it takes an intelligent, confident man to have this attitude. Why is it that men are afraid of gays? Because quite frankly, the gay men that I know are well educated, intelligent, all around fun men and wouldn't in the least be interested or attracted to the very men that fear them.

Recently Hans and I attended a function of about 40 people, 99% of whom were gay. Gay men throw the most wonderful parties. The food is plentiful as well as fantastic, the music is great, and the company is stimulating. I always look forward to these events with giddy anticipation.

Attending this event was one other straight couple, and a hand-full of women, and judging from their attire, I thought they might be lesbians. Which seemed to me to be strange. It's been my experience that lesbians and gay men don't generally socialize. The lesbians that I know hate all men, gay or otherwise.

One of the lesbians, upon hearing that Hans had lived in Florida for awhile, pointed at me and said "You are soooo Miami." in a very waspish way. I immediately replied, "I am not!" (I grew up in a little swamp town in the North). "Oh yes you are." She said and floated away.

Instead of a sit down function, this was an appetizer event, which as a former banquet manager (now lowly waitress) to me is the most brilliant idea in the world. The food was delivered in well timed increments all night long. First the soup, in adorable little cups, that was to be sipped and not spooned. Each appetizer was awaited with eager anticipation as we all drank wine, or champagne, or mineral water, and mingled. There is no sitting around at these parties.

Eventually Hans drifted away (I'm putting him on a shorter leash next time) and I talked with the only other straight couple. When Hans came back to me, on my little bar stool, about a half hour later I was ready for him.

"So tell me," I said. "What did old 'you're so miami' have to say? I saw her back you up against the bar and plaster herself all over you like a cheap, coat of paint. She's obviously no lesbian!" Hans sputtered and said he hadn't noticed that she'd done anything like that, and any way she was higher than a kite.

"So then how about Janey?" (Janey and Hans had grown up together as neighbors, a million years ago in another country, she happened to be at this party, and I know she's not a lesbian). "I saw you lay about ten kisses on her! And I mean on her mouth!"

"Now I can't help that." He defended himself. "She was getting ready to leave and she said we're just like family, and everytime I went to kiss her cheek she kept turning her mouth at me at the last minute! And it was only like four times!" All of this was said in a rush.

"Well then what about that thing over there". I pointed to a woman across the room. "What thing?" Hans wanted to know, and by now he was starting to sound desperate.

That thing over there wearing the awful 'reject from a thrift shop' outfit, that's who!"

"Your dress came from a thrift shop." Hans observed.

He may have been right but that was the wrong answer.

'Never you mind that!" I smacked him. "I watched her run her fingers all up and down you like you were a harp and she was a.... a... harpy!" (What the hell is the name of someone who plays the harp?).

"She was just telling me, and demonstrating how when she was little, she and her brother used to fight."

"How incestuous!" I said with horror. " My sister and I fought all the time and we didn't do stuff like that, now you behave yourself."

Apparently my warning went in one ear and out the other, because shortly thereafter Hans came rushing back to me, this time with a gay man in tow.

"This is Ken!" Hans said with glee. "And guess what? He thinks the Skipper is hot."


"The Skipper. You know, from Gilligan's Island."

I looked at Ken who smiled happily.

"The Skipper?" I asked, and again Ken nodded happily.

This surprised me a bit as most gay men are very lean and fit and attracted to the same.

"I would think you'd find the Professor hot." I remarked. "He's good looking plus intelligent."

"Well, I like the Skipper." He said, and wagging his finger in my face said, "You are soooo Ginger."

"I am not!" I said. "I'm Mary Ann."

"Noooo." Finger still wagging. "You're Ginger." And with that, he was gone.

"That was so funny," remarked Hans.

"What?" I asked.

"Well, Ken came up to me and said, " 'You remind me of the Skipper from Gilligan's Island, and I think the Skipper is so HOT.' "

"Hans!" I exclaimed.

"What?" He asked innocently.

"That guy was hitting on you!"

Hans looked mortified. "He was not!"

"Yes he was! My God, first those women and then that gay guy, what am I going to do with you?"

Hans gazed off into the distance with a little frown of concentration on his face.

Then, smiling, he drew himself up proudly and stated, "You just can't take me anywhere."

Not without a choke chain.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

An answer to a question

Katie at had a question for me.

A first!!!!! (Be still my heart)

She simply asked for an explanation about the movable 'flap' inside my whine/wine bag. The 'flap' is what keeps the wine bottles from crashing together, thus preventing the loss of precious wine.

It's simply a flap sewn to one side of the lining.

I've inserted 3 pictures here and I hope they (and my explanation) are clear enough for you.

Picture # 1 is the mess.

Picture # 2 is a white paper cut out of the flap size, and location where I will place it on the lining.(I thought this would be easier to see as I don't have photo shop). The dashed lines on the paper represent stitching that's done after the flap has been turned right side out and pressed. This helps the flap fold around a bottle and then lay flush against the opposite side of the bag.

I don't make it the entire length of the bag but you can do what you want.

The flap has 1 layer of batting sandwiched in between.

The flap is only going to be sewn to one side of the lining. On a wine bag it should be sewn in the center, so there is equal room for 2 bottles. Depending on what you use your bag for you can put the flap wherever you want. You can use as many as you want also.

Picture # 3 is the flap, sewn to one side of the lining and bent to illustrate what it will look like inside a finished bag.

Boxing the bottom of the bag (so that it will stand up) will use up 2 1/2 inches of fabric on the bottom so I place the flap 3 or 4 inches from the bottom and stitch in place.

You can see that the flap can be pushed aside if you don't want to use it as a separator.

I hope this makes sense. I tend to over explain things!!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


My mother's 72nd birthday was yesterday so my youngest daughter, Baby Girl (who's 19 and hates that name) and I went to Mom's to celebrate and eat birthday cake.

My parents don't live very far away and I'm ashamed that I don't visit as often as I should.
We walked in to find my mother and her best friend happily shredding documents (?) with the brand new, paper shredder that Best Friend had given Mom for her birthday. Nothing was spared. Bills, flyer's, envelopes, and family recipes.
Mom and Best Friend live for those investigative reporting shows on TV.
I had brought pizza and was famished but Mom shoved my contribution aside and happily continued to shred.
I wandered nonchalantly into the living room and hissed at my dad that I was starved and could Thelma and Louise please stop for a moment and let us eat!
Dad, who's used to eating at 5 on the dot every night, was hungry too. He stomped into the kitchen and shortly thereafter, Best Friend departed and Baby Girl and I calmed the waters by explaining that we brought TWO pizzas and that NO there was NOT pineapple on both of them!

We had a nice time and pretended that we didn't see Dad sneak pizza to Kissy Poo, their Doberman Pincer, (who by the way is terrified of me!) under the table.
Another couple came by with a gift for Mom, and treats for Kissy Poo. Mom, once again demonstrated the paper shredder, and we continued to visit.
After tons of unnecessary reminiscing about what an awful child I'd been, what a wonderful child, my sneaky older sister had been, talk turned to politics and WWII.
My mother was a mere child during WWII but she has an abnormal obsession with it. I, for one, hate war and all war movies and watched, as she frantically rooted around, until she found an entire set of VCR tapes of the movie Band of Brothers for Baby Girl.
I found it necessary to once again wander into the living room and thankfully found a week old issue of USA TODAY to read.
Finishing the paper all too quickly, I went back to the kitchen, to find Mom, spoon feeding Kissy Poo (the cowardly Doberman) ice cream from her dish.
Mom's dish, not Kissy Poo's!
Just so you know, my parent's menagerie of pets receive; Christmas presents, birthday presents, and the 'Easter Beagle' visits every spring.
Mom was telling Visiting Friends that Kissy Poo has an appointment next week with the 'Doggy Dentist."
I ,who had buck teeth until the age of 24, (when I finally got and paid for braces on my own) said (in what I'm sure was a dangerous tone of voice) "What doggie dentist?"
Well, heavens! Mom was certain that Kissy Poo had a chipped tooth, and a chipped tooth can wreak havoc on a pet's health! (Far worse I'm sure, than going through High School with buck teeth!). And anyway, Kissy Poo's moon was in line with some planet, or asteroid, or something, and that didn't bode well with doggie dental issues.
I think that's when I started looking longingly at the door and remembered why I don't visit as often as I should.

We were halfway home when I realized I had never gotten around to asking Mom the question that's been burning in my mind these past few days.
Where is my slight feeling of insanity coming coming from? Could it be that perhaps our family tree had a nut or two hanging from it's branches?

I have no idea.
I guess I'll have to wait until my next visit to ask.

Please let this nightmare end.

I managed to get some pictures this morning (before my camera battery died) and here they are. Now, I realize that this stupid thing is something all you experienced sewists could do with your eyes closed but I feel I have show it to you anyway as proof that I really did make one.

One thing that I noticed is that the flap is too short. My previous (more successful) bag bodies were shorter in length and held 2 bottles of wine perfectly. However I realized that if you don't drink all the wine (something that never happens to us!) and you put the cork back in, the flap won't close all the way.

So I made the bag about 2" longer but forgot to compensate for the flap. The next one (minus a button hole!!) will have a different flap.

The flap on the inside that keeps the bottles from smashing into each other. It can lay flush against the back if you want use of the full space.


I haven't seen Hans since Monday (I wonder why). He just called and said he'd been reading my posts and wanted to know if I'd really kicked my computer. He sounded concerned.

"That's the only way I can get it to work." I said impatiently.
Then he wanted to know who Sally Stitch was.

"She's my dress form." I snapped. "And if you really loved me you would know that!"
"Well" He said slowly, like one might, when speaking to an idiot. "I'm not sure if you realize it but you said she barricaded herself and the cats in your sewing room. I think what you meant to say was that your cats knocked her over and she blocked your door."

"No", I said through clenched teeth. "She barricaded it shut. She thinks I'm unstable."
Still speaking slowly and carefully he said, "How do you know that?"
"Because she told me!" I screamed hysterically. "And she tells me that my clothes look better on her than on me too!!! Someone needs to make her stop!"


"Hello? Hans, are you there?"

Damn cell phones, he must have driven through a dead spot.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The whine bag

No, when I say whine bag I'm not talking about me.

No, it's not a misspelling.

It started as a wine bag but evolved into a whine bag.

I've made and given many of these bags as gifts, and all have been received (I'm thrilled to say) with squeals of delight.

Hans and I have been invited out this weekend to an intimate little cafe where you bring your own wine. In the past we've actually been gauche enough to bring our wine in a WalMart bag, but c'mon, if I give them as gifts I should have one of my own.

I was in the middle of working on Burda 11-2007-109 but with the onset of PMS felt it wise to put that little project on hold.

That was probably the sanest decision I've made all week.

The bag went together fairly quickly and I was zipping into the last steps when I realized I had not put a magnetic snap into the flap and I was not about to disassemble it at this point.


I told myself that this was just going to force myself to think outside the lines. It was an opportunity to come up with a creative and new answer.

I ended up deciding on a button hole. Not new or creative but certainly workable.

The one, single. stupid, buttonhole took over one hour to make!!!!

I am not kidding, this is the honest truth.

First I made a sample button hole on a scrap of fabric that exactly mimicked the bag.


Then I made one on the bag.

The bobbin jammed up horribly and I had to rip it out.

Tried again.

I wondered what the hell my machine was doing and realized it made an eyelet! Not a button hole.

Ripped it out.

Started over.

The thread came off it's little track somewhere in the bowels of my machine and created the most unbelievable, dense mess yet once again in the bobbin area.

Ripped it out.

By now, my fabric which is a pale blue and white stripe is grubby and full of holes.

I made another test button hole on the other fabric.


Back to my bag.

Disaster, and I can hear Sally Stitch snickering in the background.

I'm truly ready to weep by this time. It's literally been one hour! I know this because I've just listened to two full Andy Griffith episodes on my little TV and all I want to do is finish this disaster but I'm stuck in the Twilight Zone.

One more time.


I'll take it.

I still have to sew a button on but I'm going to stop while I'm ahead. I'll finish it when the planets are aligned in a more favorable position which better be soon as I need it by Saturday.

I'm just glad that our little cafe is dark and pray that Hans doesn't take one look at it and ask, "Why don't we just use a WalMart bag?"


I took pictures but my computer ate them.

Monday, January 14, 2008

I hear voices, and one belongs to my dress form

So I get home tonight and I'm trying to get into my sewing room but Sally Stitch has barricaded herself in there along with my computer, sewing machine, and cats.

She says I'm unstable. (Just because when I went home for lunch, I kicked the computer and threatened to sell the cats to a chinese restaurant).

So I'm pounding on the door, screaming at her to unlock it, when I hear a commercial on the TV that gets my attention." thoughts, severe mood swings, bursts of energy followed by bouts of exhaustion."

I realize that it's a pharmaceutical commercial describing my symptoms to a T. I fall to my knees in front of the TV praying that FINALLY the drug companies have turned over a new leaf. Instead of manufacturing yet one more drug for men who have problems (ahem) performing that just maybe, they've come up with a drug, for women crippled by PMS, that won't cause cancer, pack on an extra 50 pounds, or give us a five o'clock shadow at two in the afternoon.

" may be bipolar."


Guess what my neighbors are saying tonight.

"Hey Myrtle, the neighbor lady just threw a TV out her front window."

And Myrtle will reply,"Ooh, must be bad this time, last month it was her toaster oven."

Sally Stitch

(Her days may be numbered)

Danger Zone, Do Not Enter

PMS came roaring into town like a bitch on wheels last night.

Hans left a jet stream in his wake when he fled my house this morning.

The cats are hiding under the bed and won't come out.

Let the good times roll.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Finished muslin

I worked on Burda 11-2007-109 today. It seemed like it took all day but I think I really only put about 3 hours or so into it. I should have named my blog "The impatient sewist."

The finished muslin is a little loose. But I'm taking into account that this is only one layer and the finished dress will have 3 (lining, inner lining, and fashion fabric). When I made my daughter's prom dress (see the review at pattern review) her muslin was also a little large but when I sewed up the fashion fabric it was actually snug. I'm sure it's because I used a cheap, woven fabric for her muslin (as I did mine) that has more give than the fashion fabric.

Also I compared the magazine picture to my test and I think the 'drape' on the model is narrower which exposes the waist more than mine. So when I make mine, I will gather it about a 1/2 inch more.

What I liked about the magazine version was the tight fit through the waist. Mine is so much looser but when I reached under the drape and tugged it tighter it seemed to mimic the model's dress a bit more. I'm also considering extending the pleats in the front by about a 1/2 inch, but we'll see.

I'm going to 'lift' the drape at the side seam too. I don't want it riding on my hips.

The zipper in the back seems to be ok. In some BWOF patterns, the back seam is so 'straight' that is doesn't curve at the upper back towards the neck and requires darts etc... I'm not finding that here (so far).

Not the best angle, and way too long. I'll work on it some more tomorrow night.
Ignore the crazy lady in the picture. She has PMS.

We call this: Cat Butter", Beast (closest to the camera) and Chlorox (near the fireplace) stretch out in front of the fire and just melt.

Also keep in mind that this is my family room which is in the basement and a storage place for all rejected furniture etc...

Tune in tomorrow for God knows what. When there's PMS involved, life gets interesting.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Don't ask

Never sew when you're:

Drunk, Tired, or Hungry.

There will be no sewing in this house tonight.

Take your pick.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Finally some sewing!!

This is my next project. I knew I wanted to make this dress the first time I saw it. Coincidentally I just bought the latest Threads issue and there's a great article on inner/underlining that I really need to pay attention to.

Until I started reading blogs I never would have thought of an underlining. So I'm headed to Joann's after work (the only fabric store in my area) to get fabric, underlining, and lining.

Also, Lovely at That's So Live has posted that Pattern Review has a great contest going on now. Find a RTW item that you love and do your own knock off. My first inclination was to pass it by, but it sounds like too much fun. It would have to be simple (for me) and I know it wouldn't win but we have to give the judges something to do, right?

My traced pattern with seams butted next to each other. The picture with my finger is the back top and back bottom pinned together. There was a gap that shouldn't have been there so I had to dig out the pattern once again and measure my copy to theirs. Since they matched up I decided that I was probably a little off with my darts.

I've bought the fabric and it's already washed and dried. Of course it's all polyester. The only way JoAnn's will ever offer anything of quality would be if silk worms descended upon them and held them hostage.

But I think I'm making this far too difficult. I traced the pattern from BWOF but did not add seam allowances at that time. I then traced the pattern onto my muslin fabric with a pen, these will be my stitching lines, meaning I'll sew directly onto these lines.

But when I traced the pattern onto the muslin (cheap $1.00 WalMart fabric) I knew I was going to just cut 1" or so SA's around these lines but I wasn't going to be exact. SO! since I only traced on the top layer of doubled fabric, needless to say the tracing lines are not on the bottom layer. But since I intend for these lines to be my sewing lines that means tracing each piece TWICE. First with the pattern right side up and then flipped over. Double the work. Am I making sense? By the way, I didn't want to use a tracing wheel with carbon paper sandwiched in between because I feel that the fabric shifts too much using that process.

Now I'm going to sew the muslin together and check for fit.

Here's the fabric. I wanted a burnt orange but decided I might end up looking like the great pumpkin!

Then I'll trace the finished muslin onto the underlining (organza) with the stitching lines once again traced onto them, baste the underlining to the fashion fabric and treat as one.
Again, I think I'm making this more difficult than I need to.
I will post some pictures as soon as I can get my lazy computer to do something, anything!!!!. (I think maybe it's a reincarnated teenager!)

I went home for lunch, kicked the computer, and forced it to spit out some pictures. It retaliated by printing out a picture of my messy sewing area.

And to close, here's a picture of my little sewing friend, Chlorox. Such a sweet, timid kitty. Not at all like the Beast! And she's assured me that she had nothing to do with the New Year's debacle.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Never Ending Story Finally Ends.

We finally got home from Boston late Sunday night.
So, you wonder, how did the rest of the trip go? I mean it was only for one week end, right?
If you're just now tuning in you might want to read this post first, and then this one.
I'll try to keep it brief. That makes it less painful for all of us.
Actually, Sunday was a very nice day. It was cold but sunny, and with no snow or rain we were able to walk all over Rockport.

Then we went to the airport.

We heard a commotion when we were dropping our car off at Avis Rentals and realized that the problem was with us. Just what had we done to the car? Where were we when the damage occurred, they asked. What damage, we asked.
And they showed us.
The back bumper was all scuffed up and dented and the rear tail light was broke. Just guess whose side of the car it was on?
I know they didn't believe us but we had no idea when it occurred. It was most likely the night before when we parked in a parking lot and that side of the car was exposed. Much paper signing followed.
Once into the airport we headed to security. Surely we wouldn't have any problems I hoped.


The little ticket taker, who was bitching because he'd been working for a whole hour without a break, scribbled all over my boarding pass and Hans' boarding pass thus sealing our fate.
Were were literally swarmed by gloved, security personnel. Three to each of us. We were groped, our luggage was massaged, cell phones were wiped down, and coats shook out. They were kind enough to ask me if I wanted privacy before making me spread eagle in front of all the other passengers. I told them to go right on ahead. Why should I be the only one to enjoy it.
If only the airlines would employ OB-GYNs I could have gotten my pap smear out of the way while we were at it.
Released yet once again, we went to the bar for a much needed beer and got carded.
Yes, carded.
"I'd be flattered," Hans said reaching for his wallet "if this weren't so ludicrous.

Finally we were on the plane.
I was buckling up when Hans started to laugh and told me to take a look at the pilot.
I leaned to the side. All I could see was a little kid.
"Where?" I asked.
Hans pointed to the little kid.
"He can't be the pilot," I gasped.
Hans shrugged. "He has five stripes, so he must know what he's doing."
"I don't care if he has five stripes, any idiot can get something like that from a costume store. For God's sake, I had a nurses outfit when I was a little kid!"
"You did?" Hans asked. "Do you still have it?" He asked hopefully.
I told him to be quiet as the boy wonder up front was saying something.

"Hey everyone! I'm JimBob and I'll be your pilot tonight." His voice cracked.
"We're gonna have a really great flight, we have clear skys and should arrive at our destination in about an hour and ten minutes. (Unless Laura's on board and then you might want to check that there fine print!).
"Hey! Did you notice you all have your own TVs? Isn't that neat! So if your watching the game tonight be sure to keep me posted on the score."
"You just get your butt in that cockpit and fly this damn plane you little stinker!" Is what I wanted to yell but wisely held my tongue.
Once in flight he didn't make me feel any better when he kept interrupting our TV watching to announce that while he knew we were suffering from turbulence, he had no idea why! (Fine print!).
After we landed, JimBob said, "On behalf of Blah Blah Airlines I would like to thank you for flying with us....and..." snort, giggle "I forgot what I was going to say!" More laughing. "Oh, yeah, if you have to pick up checked luggage you'll need to go to carousel K...that's K as in KRIPTONIIIIITE, if your a Superman fan like I am."

I kid you not!

As we climbed into Hans' car to go home he sighed and said "God, I hope I don't have to fly to Australia next month."
Wiggling happily in the seat next to him I said "Oooh, Australia, can I go?"

Have you ever seen a grown man cry?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Why bother with TV when there's airport security!

We arrived bright and early (6:30 AM) at the airport for our trip to Boston. Luckily we were on time and didn't miss our flight, like the time we did in Puerto Rico because someone, who shall remain nameless, (HANS) dawdled (his name for it not mine, and it had nothing to do with my being a jinx!).

Things were going smoothly until we got to security. Suddenly we went from being normal citizens to possible terrorists, because we were sent to the 'special place.' The place with rubber gloves, probes, and big scary machines that blow on you.

Being the lowest on the totem pole, I got to go first. All of my gear was thrown onto the conveyor belt but shoes were to remain ON! I was then directed into a security archway, that looked like something out of Star Trek, and told to STAND STILL!

Before you could say, "Beam me up Scotty", the machine went WHOOSH, WHOOSH, WHOOSH, blew air up my butt and in my face, and scared the living bejesus out of me.

From there I was told to take my shoes OFF (thank God I'd put on socks with no holes), and then I was thrust into a corral to await the meat inspector. All of my junk was brought over to a table and my heart lurched when I saw a woman boring down on me with rubber gloves and a cattle prod.

I watched with relief as she started in on my luggage and not me. But then something caught my eye. Standing on tiptoe so I could see better, I watched a couple (whose clothes and demeanor screamed wealth) get yanked aside because something suspicious in the woman's luggage had been caught on X-Ray.

Unzipping her bag, the security person pulled out what looked like a missile. But in reality it was the biggest, honking can of hairspray I've ever seen.

For those of you who don't travel by plane, I've got to tell you; this is a big no no. Items that can be spread, spilled, or spewed must be in containers under 4 ounces and even then, they all have to fit into a quart size baggie. (Don't even get me going on that fun rule).

Tsk, tsk, tsk, went the security person, shaking his head.

With thin lips disappearing and eyes narrowing, the lady tried to grab her hairspray back.

No, no, no, went the security person, who then went on to explain why it wasn't allowed.

I saw her executive type/hen pecked husband step back in hopes that they'd throw her in the brig or at least wear her out so she'd leave him alone for awhile.

The guard took the hairspray and put it behind him. Even though hardly a muscle moved in her face (most likely from the obvious botox and plastic surgeries), you could feel her fury.

Hurriedly I looked for Hans. I wanted him to enjoy this also, but now he was in the wind tunnel machine and quite frankly, sometimes we aren't on the same page when it comes to humor anyway.

At this point I was yanked out of the corral and Hans was tossed in. Now it was his turn for the cattle prod.

But before the prod lady sent me on my way, she pointed at my purse and said, "Nice bag."

I almost wet myself.

Finally Hans was done and as we left (with admonitions of: "We know where you live"), I saw the hair spray lady stomping away, without the hairspray, but with her husband who looked more than a little disappointed and a whole lot frightened.

Now folks, this is what I think.

That lady was not going to blow up the plane with her hair spray. She needed every ounce of it to keep her lacquered hair in place.

Secondly, do you really think a terrorist was going to say, "Hey lady, give me that big, honking can of hair spray, I need to blow up this plane."?

No, because if a terrorist had said, "Hey lady, give me that big, honking can of hair spray." Do you know what would have happened?

There would be one less terrorist on this earth today.

Friday, January 4, 2008


I'm a vacation jinx.

I may have failed to mention this to Hans when we first met.

It's possible I may not have mentioned a few other things to him too.

Kids. "All these kids? No they're not mine, they belong to the neighbor. You guys knock it off in there or I'll come in there and beat the snot out of you! Cute aren't they?"

Cats. " These are very rare cats, very unusual and exotic. You won't find cats like this anywhere else on the earth." (Well, that one was true anyway).

Turtles. "These turtles were actually adopted from down south. There are so many homeless turtles down there that need good homes, that I just couldn't refuse. I've been assured they won't grow any larger than their habitat." Thank God I have a queen size bed.

Skink. This little lizard is a fascinating display of organ/limb regeneration. Every time his tail is yanked off it's truly an education.

How do I know I'm a jinx? Just read the small print the next time you get airline tickets.
You've been assured that your flight will take approximately one hour MAYBE EVEN LESS IF YOU CATCH A GOOD HEAD WIND.

But, read the small print.

Your flight will take approximately one hour unless Laura is on board. Then you may expect major delays, turbulence, and possible alien sightings.

One of my first trips with Hans required a short jaunt that was to take all of about one and a half hours.

Three and a half hours and a full barf bag later (guess who?), we landed just in time to watch a Fed Ex plane burn on the runway.

Hans was in awe. In all of his many years and millions of miles of flying, he'd never experienced anything like this.

Hang in there baby, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Procrastination, thy name is...


I don't make New Years Resolutions but I would really like to try to be a little more organized this year. Now, I'm down to one job for the next 3 months, so you would think that would free up some time. Think again.

I've known for about 2 weeks that we were going to Boston this weekend. As of this morning (Friday) I am not packed, I have dirty dishes etc... in my kitchen, my garbage needs to be put out, yada yada yada.
So, what have I been doing, you ask?

Well, first of all we had to get through Christmas, and my waitressing job didn't end until Dec 23. Then we had to get through the New Year and in between all of this I still have a full time job. So, Wednesday afternoon I thought to myself 'I need a new carry on bag or tote bag' or whatever you want to call it. So Wednesday evening I made a mad dash to the state store as my bourbon has a way of evaporating, (especially after I have my fuel oil tank filled to the tune of $628.00) and JoAnnns just happens to be in the same plaza.

I did not go into JoAnns, I did not pass Go, I did not collect $200. (How could I? I just spent $628.00 for fuel oil!).

I went home and used some fabric from my stash because like I said before, I spent six hundred and twenty eight dollars on fuel oil!!!!!

I think I paid $1.50 yard on sale for the home dec fabric that I used.

Luckily it was pre-washed so all I had to do was cut it out and sew it together. I didn't use a pattern so there was a whole lot of measuring and remeasuring. I had a basic idea of what I wanted but then I'd get another idea and waste time thinking things over. Then I'd have to measure and remeasure again. (That's why I like patterns, all that stuff is already done for you). Then I had to take the time to go for my run. I usually go for 4 miles but I've upped it to 5 as it's too easy to gain weight at this time of the year.

Thursday night (last night) I want to finish this bag!!! I do not want to carry the bag that I made last year (a horrible monstrosity that I made myself use because I'd put too much time into it). I found some purse handles that I bought on sale last year so now I have more ideas (oh, c'mon! It's just a stupid bag!!). I'm almost done but I have to go for my run. Oh, how I long for a better metabolism!! I got back from my run and finally around 11:00 I was finished!!

I wasn't packed for this trip (I have to go straight to Hans' from work today and he lives 90 minutes away from me), I did not give myself the hair treatment that desperately needs to be done, but I have a new bag. Now what's more important than that?

But, if I hadn't procrastinated and if I'd budgeted my time a little better, I wouldn't be a jittery mess right now.
We have a very busy year planned and I really don't want to go through this again and again.
Fortunately, I can go home for lunch. I'll pack up some clothes, throw dishes in the dishwasher, and put the garbage out so that my garbage can will blow around my driveway all weekend.

The sides can be let out for fullness. Now you might wonder why I used such springy colors in the middle of winter. I happen to like these colors, I used up some stash (fuel oil bill!), and who the hell would steal this in the middle of the airport? How many of these do you suppose are floating around out there? I could spot this baby a mile away!

I just had a brilliant thought. I'm not a procrastinator!! It's only January and I already have a leg up on summer.

This is a beach bag!!!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year Yinz Guys

Last night we went out with some friends for New Year's Eve to a local restaurant bar. In the past, when my kids were little, I always stayed home and we would play games and watch the Nick at Night countdown of favorite old shows. For me that was a lot of fun, but now that they are grown I like going out again. Here we are at the start of the evening. I only have this picture because I made Hans take my camera back out to the car. I didn't want to try to keep track of it all night.

But get this, this is too funny. There was a young couple there who came running up to Hans and me, and they were so excited. Puffing on his cigarette, the man said to me, "My wife just has to meet you! We can't believe yinz guys are here!" And the wife, puffing on her cigarette, gushed, "Oh my God, we saw yinz guys out last summer and you have so much energy and you are the best dancer!"
Now I love to dance, but I've got to tell you I just throw myself around is all and I told her as much. "Oh no! We saw you out last summer and you had on this really cute white dress and we couldn't believe what a great dancer you are!" And then they both had to shake my hand. I was so embarrassed. I felt like a cross between Angelina Jolie and Phyllis Diller.
But what really made my night was that they were talking about this dress.


McCalls 5094

Last night when we went out there was no snow.


This is what I just came in from about 5 minutes ago.

Easily a foot (if not more) of snow. It would have taken me at least an hour to shovel but a new neighbor from across the street came over on his 4 wheeler with a plow attached and made a few sweeps over my drive. Isn't that nice? I don't even know their names.

And this is what greeted us this morning.

She does not have my sympathy.

And what the hell happened to my chair.