Monthly Archives: November 2006

pre-cocktail party list to do

in prep. for my very exciting traditional cocktail party full of interesting people this sat., I have a serious list of things to do. so serious that when a PM in the MD office asked if I could come down for a day this week I said “HECK NO” and then had to straighten my schedule out before I called him back and said “oh, how about Wednesday?” Which, luckily, isn’t good for him, so I won’t be traveling this week.
of course, now that my couch is covered I’m feeling kind of awesome about the other stuff I have to do. no big deal, right?

  • clean the kitchen, including the mopping of the floor. I have put away most of the china/dishes from gramma’s house so that’s something.
  • donate clothes that are in my hall
  • finish cleaning the living room. areas that are outstanding are small, but include: the stuff on one of my end tables and a bunch of magazines on the floor. also a box of crafty things that will go to the basement until I can find a place for them to live in my apartment.
  • clean my bedroom. this is bigger. will take some serious work.
  • hang things on the walls: old photo of my family, pressed metal stork, tin-can flower paintings, mountain dulcimer, ceramic horses head, gramma’s weaving.
  • laundry, including two new sheet sets.
  • sew cocktail dress. I have the fabric (repurposing some fabric we’d bought for curtains in pgh and never used) and the pattern (a butterick vintage reissue of a sheath dress with an interesting open neckline.
  • shopping and making of horse doovers. I will ask for help to do this on sat.
  • hairs cut. sat. also.

all this, and then there are the following work functions that I need to squeeze in:

  • Tuesday: dinner with co-workers?
  • Wednesday: drinks with new company we’re merging with?
  • Thursday: making a diaper cake for a coworker who is going out on maternity leave this week?
  • Friday: office party
  • Monday-Friday: working my day job.

So. Not too bad. [insert sound of manical laughter here.] the way I think it will work is today after work I will do beauty things (I am having my legs waxed for the first time! eee!) and I’ll clean the kitchen for real. Tomorrow after dinner I will cut the dress and start sewing. See also Wednesday, Thursday. Thursday I will do laundry and clean my bedroom. The plan is to have everything done by Friday morning so I can wake up on Sat., get a hair cut, and go to market for appetizer supplies. And then I can spend the day mixing drinks and piping soft cheese onto crackers instead of finishing my dress, cleaning my house, AND piping soft cheese.

what I did on sunday

yesterday I took about 11 1/2 hours and reupholstered my couch. to be fair, it really took about 10 hours – there was some time spent on the phone with kathleen, or eating lunch, or lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling. but it was worth the pin sticks and the long toil, because here it is: my beautiful, reupholstered couch!

it took so very very long because the fabric that I bought was only 54″ wide, and my couch is, obviously, much longer than that. so I split the fabric and sewed it onto the ends of another piece to avoid a seam down the middle, and that was horrible excrutiating work, but it came out awfully nice.

the process was a bear because it involved a lot of draping and pinning and sewing and fitting and pinning and sewing and fitting. lots of back-and-forth between the couch and the sewing machine. I fitted everything together like this:


and sewed on the arms and then the fronts of the arms very last. I listened to the 3rd amelia peabody book downloaded from the library and boy howdy am I glad it’s done! I won’t make any brash assertions that I won’t do this again ever (like I did with the denim couch) but I won’t do it again for a good long time, that’s for sure.


I love this photo – from a quick stop by the grafton peace pagoda with birdie, her dog rufus, daniel, ryan, and kevin.


the few other photos are here

am thankful for…

  • family
  • friends
  • being crafty
  • civil liberties
  • friends
  • a job that values me and mentors me
  • good health
  • family
  • crafty family tradition
  • my body doing what I ask of it
  • competent and downright brilliant coworkers
  • healthy family and friends
  • the luxury of affording my flash hybrid insight
  • the luxury of not worrying about affording dinner
  • my lifestyle
  • the internets to facilitate my friendly relationships
  • making skirts, complete with zippers
  • my new swank boots
  • books and sardines
  • my nephews
  • being able to take time off of work
  • fountain pens
  • the luxury to buy carbon neutrality
  • being totally dorky and surrounded by people who don’t mind (and actually secretly love it)
  • etc.etc.etc.

fabric warehouse

I didn’t mention in my earlier post that there is a whole bunch of tassels etc. at the fabric warehouse. I joked to kathleen that I would go there for ALL of my tassel needs, but after thinking about tassels a little more, I DO have tassel needs. perhaps more significant than the next person. the joke is on me!

fuzzyfez1 Yay!

anyway, while I’ve got this wee post about fabric stores, here is the short list of what I’m going to think about buying (like the wording on that statement?) at joann’s over thanksgiving weekend:

  • pinking shears
  • cutting mat
  • patterns (vogue and mccalls on sale)
  • cordory or broadcloth
  • potentially a cocktail dress fabric
  • dress form, if the one that is on sale for 80 bucks is actually adjustible enough to handle my very large personage

There’s a cutting table for sale too, but I’d better not get too crazy. I have a hard enough time fitting everything that is currently in my apartment into my apartment! a cutting table would be a DREAM but for the amount that I sew, the floor will suffice.

more CO2 savings

I’ve decided to take the slate-treehugger challenge as an example of how much CO2 I’m saving over the theoretical me who doesn’t have to wait for her living room CFL bulbs to warm up when she gets home at night. this week was electricity, and I have saved 1178 by checking off all the things that I’ve already done. sigh. it doesn’t matter, either, b/c I have windpowered my home.

and for what it’s worth, it’s totally great to replace all your incandecents with CFL. even if they do take a while to warm up and even if they are more expensive and even if you do need to take them to a special disposal place b/c of the mercury content. Totally worth it.

why I love sardines

I started loving the sardines b/c they go on crackers, and they are tinned fish. you can say canned fish, but tinned fish is much more exotic and dare I say classy.

and then I realized there are lots of thinking-person reasons to eat sardines, you know, reasons that do not rely on gut level preconceived notions of what is classy or not. and they include:

The only thing that I do NOT love about sardines is that I can’t bring them to work for lunch. they are not an office-friendly food. sad!

I am not so great at following directions.

Last night’s plans:

  • go to ikea for shelves;
  • go to lowes for a staple gun;
  • go home and sew fabric together;
  • eat sardines for dinner;
  • go to the grocery store and get fixings for green bean casserole; and
  • go to bed right after therapy.

What happened instead of some of these items: Continue reading


I eat a lot of sardines in the winter – probably because they go so well with crackers, aka, my favorite food ever. so I thought maybe I should blog about sardines. initially I thought this should be part of the fish sandwiches blog, because now that I don’t live in pittsburgh I don’t eat a lot of fish sandwiches, but upon further thought I have decided that no, sardines deserve their own category. Commencing STAT.

Last night I had some Brunswick sardines in a mustard dill sauce.


the wrapper comes off and there is a boring tin underneath:


but once you open the tin, the mustard sauce is totally exciting and scary looking:


scary or not, though, it is so tasty. it’s more of a yellow mustard (obviously) taste than a spicy mustard, and the dill is so subtle as to be not noticable, but it goes very well with the fish.

The sardine pieces are kind of giant, too:


I prefer my sardines a little less SO BIG but they were good. I didn’t take any pictures of the little bones because that part is kind of gross and I try to pop them into my mouth quickly, but the spines are very big and obvious. so these sardines, while very tasty, might not be for the beginning eater-of-sardines.


already I’m not beating myself up for not getting to work early today.

tonight I’m going to:

  • go to ikea for shelves;
  • go to lowes for a staple gun;
  • go home and sew fabric together;
  • eat sardines for dinner;
  • go to the grocery store and get fixings for green bean casserole; and
  • go to bed right after therapy.

Maybe I can do the early to rise thing tomorrow. we’ll see.

overly ambitious

this weekend I had very ambitious plans, as related to aurora:

  • girls night sleep-over with college friends on friday night
  • clean out my ceder chest
  • unpack and photograph stuff from gramma’s house
  • sew couch cover
  • sew new skirt (if possible)
  • go to Japanese travel agent to firm up plans for Japan trip in spring with stepsis on sat.
  • meet crafty friend lorelei for tea and cocktail hostess planning session

what really happened:

  • girls night sleep-over with college friends on friday night. drank too much, got sick next day. sigh.
  • unpack and reboxed some stuff from gramma’s house. no photographs. didn’t put away, b/c ceder chest still full.
  • bought fabric for couch, but was totally different fabric than had been obsessing about. didn’t sew anything.
  • went to Japanese travel agent with rachel on sat. but didn’t firm up anything as tickets to japan = teh pricy.
  • met crafty friend lorelei for tea and cocktail hostess planning session.
  • thought I’d lost work laptop, paniced, went to work and found it safely there. oops.
  • set up a thingy to tell me what prices are for airline tickets to japan. you know, just in case.

Something exciting that I DID do:

  • went to the fabric warehouse for the first time and it was AMAZING. so big, so much stuff, and so cheap. I bought 4 different patterned suiting fabric in long enough lengths to make skirts and 13+ yds of upholstery fabrick for about 70 bucks. SWEET. special shout-out to kathleen for spending 6 hours with me, 2 of which were at the fabric warehouse in total indecision.
  • ate 6 eggs. maggie gave me some farm fresh eggs last weekend and I hadn’t eaten them at all. they are so good. not fresh enough still for me to poach, but lightly fried? yum. so extra golden tasty.

and, in the interest of getting everything done that needs doing:

  • monday: go to work early, get work done. leave work on time, go home, do laundry. also, sew on couch a bit. get stuff for green bean casserole
  • tuesday: eat dinner with gal pals. throw together green bean casserole.
  • wednesday: thanksgiving potluck feast at work. go home. sew on couch.
  • thursday: up and at them. go to albany early. eat food. yum.
  • friday-sat. family and old coworkers time.
  • sunday: go home early am in order to 1. beat traffic and 2. sew on couch. also, pick out fancy party dress pattern. commence sewing.
  • monday through friday. sew on cocktail dress and make sure apartment is clean.
  • sat.: cocktail party day. make elaborate and old fashioned appetizers, including tomato aspic. beautiful.
  • sunday: enjoy clean apartment and covered couch. bask in accomplishments.


here’s another couch mock-up. heck! it’s so hard to pick a strategery!


severe dorkitude

this weekend I have a number of engagements, but the most long-standing is my date with reupholstering my couch. I reupholstered our couch in spanish harlem – michelle and I got to work with a bunch of denim and a staple gun and my sewing machine and made our tweedy couch into a thing of sleek beauty. it was horrible. it took FOREVER (like, more than 1 evening) and was a big old pain in the keyster, but it was so beautiful when I was done.

the couch I’m using now is a hand-me-down from my stepfamily – maggie bought it new in the 90s, which explains the hunter green navajo print, and then sarah used it for a while, and then it sat on her (enclosed) front porch for a while. As I have a no-moving-the-couch policy currently (it’s WAY easier to ditch the couch when you move), I am not ready to commit to purchasing a new one for hundreds of dollars. and even though I swore up and down I would never reupholster a couch again, in the interests of re-using a couch (aka keeping it off the street) and not turning 30 with a couch covered in sheets (v. collegate), I will cover this old used couch that I have.

I was going to cover it with this fabric:


but now I’m not sure. it’s beautiful fabric, but it’s awfully busy. it won’t match my orange tweed recliner. and it stresses me out to worry about matching patterns so neatly when I sew the whole thing together. Sat. I’m going to stop by the Fabric Warehouse in bellville to see what they’ve got, and hopefully there will be lots of some cheap, light colored (non blue) decorators fabric with which I can reupholster my couch. Currently the couch is wrapped in some lavender sheets and that is pretty great. I would also like white, but as I enjoy eating chocolate on the couch it might not be the best idea. Ideally I want to get something that will match my beautiful dream fabric so I can cover old pillows in it. (I plan to reuse old smooshed bedroom pillows as the pillow bases. this is one of the reasons I categorized this post under buy vs. make.)

EDIT: after talking to a coworker who has her first degree in interior design, she suggested the busy busy fabric for the body of the couch and black for the cushions. and if that’s too busy adding additional throw pillows on the couch with black or white fabric. HMM. she is totally talking me back into it!

anyway, here is the dorkitude: tuesday night I went home and made these sketches (on graph paper liberated from a prior employer) of my couch to estimate how much fabric I needed. I’m so glad I did it because now I know what I’m in store for. but, yeah. Very Dorky.



mk product review

I was a huge skeptic when EVERYONE said one should use yellow concealer for redness. I’m so pink and red, how can I use yellow toned products? but yesterday I got tired of the GIANT RED BUMP that is growing on the bridge of my nose, right below my eyes. Exactly placed for a rhinoceros horn. and while the bump has been getting less giant, it is not getting less red.

so I broke out a yellow mary kay concealer and dabbed it on and finished my whole face with (mary kay) powder (using the fancy mary kay brush set) and what do you know: it totally works! there you have it! fear not the yellow concealer!

ideas swiming through grey matter

just to capture the latest crackpot idea floating through my head:

They’ve just built 3000 sqft townhouses on my street. They’re selling the end units for roughly 750,000. YIKES. no way I could afford that, and no way I have any kind of downpayment, and no way am I going to be buying property in N. NJ anytime soon.

So say these 3000 sq ft townhomes are roughly 3 or 4 bedrooms. say that we use a 1% rule of thumb for mortgage, taxes, and insurance. Say, then, the monthly mortgage would be $7,500.

OK, the point of this saying-exercise is to point out that even if I could talk Kathleen and Gabbi into moving in with me and buying a townhome en masse, we STILL couldn’t afford it. b/c there’s no way in HECK that I’m paying $2,500 a month for a TOWNHOUSE without a YARD.

Therefore, I won’t even mention it to them. unless they catch a drift of it here. See girls? it won’t work out for us. Sorry!

wk 4 of carbon diet

this week’s slate challenge was all about clothes, and while I was hoping for more of a buy vs. make slant, there was more about how one should wash ones cloths in cold water (check) and hang dry laundry (already do for 1/2 of my clothes) or donating old clothes rather than tossing (um, super check, and how about remaking?). so even though I scored 797, I feel like I was cheating b/c every single question? was something I already do. except for the bonus, a pledge to buy an energy star dryer when the time comes, and which is already something I’d do. well.

I know it’s easier to criticize, and I know that I’m beyond the target audience (apparently) in knowledge and practice, but this carbon diet seems to be so dumbed down. what do y’all think? Am I just so hyper nerdy about efficiency and environmentalism that these moot points are actually NOT moot points?

I just bounced this off of our drafter and she pointed out that if people don’t get it, they won’t do it. so I need to be a little more patient and remember this is an education and encouragement tool rather than a true measurement tool. sigh.

can you imagine?

Four years ago on November 2nd I started my lame webpage using msword and an ftp portal to my server. it was unwieldy and huge and hard to update, but I was putting in serious hours at a thankless job and was almost compelled to find a productive way of taking breaks through those 12 hour days. Now blogging software is not only free, but also super easy to install. it’s as easy for me to update this site as it is to write an email.

I’ve copied all of my old journal pages into wordpress but still haven’t take down the old pages. my new job is busyifying (but not busy work) and I don’t have nearly as much to complain about. Four years ago I was kind of vaguing around, and while I wanted to suceed, I didn’t really have any ambition to reach the level I am at now.

So, my mom still reads this thing (hi mom!) but I’ve also got a few friends who do as well, seemingly regularly. I’ve managed to figure out how much of the private to make public, and feel pretty confident with where my boundaries are (especially after having to figure all that out more definately during the summer). I don’t eat as many fish sandwiches as I once did, but am considering adding sardine reviews to the fish sandwich category. I’ve moved to pittsburgh and then to nj. I’ve rolled with some punches. I’ve crafted lots of things. and now we can all refer back to it in excrutiating detail – ha!

October 2006 books

76. The Secret Message of Jesus by Brian McLaren
77. Sue Barton: Student Nurse by Helen Dore Boylston
78. Sue Barton: Senior Nurse by Helen Dore Boylston
79. Sue Barton: Visiting Nurse by Helen Dore Boylston
80. Sue Barton: Rural Nurse by Helen Dore Boylston
81. The Story We Find Ourselves In by Brian McLaren
82. Sue Barton: Superintendent of Nurses by Helen Dore Boylston
83. Sue Barton: Neighborhood Nurse by Helen Dore Boylston
84. Alligator by Lisa Moore
85. Electric Michaelangelo by Sarah Hall
86. April Lady by Georgette Heyer
87. Giant’s Bread by Mary Westmacott

I didn’t even know Agatha Christie wrote books under a nom de plume (Ms. Westmacott). I can read just about anything, but man, the plot and general story of Giant’s Bread was so convaluted and horrible. The writing was great, natch – but too much romance and selfish and people making noble decisions and other people not being noble. I didn’t have the heart to read the other five books she’d written as Mary Westmacott. Although she might have improved the formula, it just wasn’t worth it to find out.

veteran’s day

I heard on NPR this morning a piece about how veteran’s day ties all veterans together. what struck me about the piece was the authors description of armistace day – at the 11th minute of the 11th day of the 11th month, everyone would stop what they were doing: police officers would halt traffic, buses would slam to a stop — and maintain a 2 minute period of silence. How powerful that must have been so soon after the first world war. How impossible to enforce on today’s hungry, busy, talkative country. it’s just amazing to imagine. that was a time when we treated our veterans with responsibility, I guess.


not only did my favorite attorney general get himself elected to the governors spot in NYS, but also, Whiz Bang! check out the number of house seats that the democrats won! I am so excited!
I feel like America has been ruled by the politics of fear for so long, and that this election is America standing out, sticking out her chin, bucking up, and MOVING THE HECK ON. saying “enough of this! you’ve scared and bullied me long enough. onwards and upwards!” America, I am so excited for you. YAY.

[[and tangentially, now Nancy Pelosi will be closer than any woman has been to the presidency! Not that I’d wish any harm on GWB JOHN ASHCROFT I’M LOOKING AT YOU, DON’T GET ANY IDEAS but it is pretty darn exciting.]]

EDIT! Rumsfeld Resigns! what an exciting mid-term election! see, everyone? voting is AWESOME! you get to feel totally invested in the process and it’s results!

EDIT AGAIN! I feel like running around the office yelling “the emperor has no clothes! the emperor has no clothes! this is SO exciting.