Friday, January 30, 2015

Joshua Tree

One of the things John and I did when we were out in California in December was go to Joshua Tree National Park.  We attempted to do so back in May, but it was super hot, even for the desert, and we weren't quite prepared.  We still didn't quite know what the park was like, but John got some good pointers from a co-worker, and so we headed out for a Saturday of exploring.  We went to four different areas, and each one was a totally different landscape - it's amazing how much variety was there.  The first hike we went on was in Rattlesnake Canyon, which was basically just full of huge boulders, so our first hike ended up being more rock climbing.  I'm not a huge fan of heights, but I was proud of myself for clambering around.

We went all the way up to the top of the peak in the middle of this photo.

The second hike we went on was about 15-20 minutes away, and was more towards the interior of the desert, of which the main feature was the Skull Rock.  It was much flatter overall, and there was a lot more plant life around.

Next we headed further into the desert and finally got our first look at the Joshua trees.  It really looks like a landscape straight out of Dr. Seuss.  We went to a wash, and saw some actual wildlife.

After popping over a slight ridge and around some trees, I jumped a little when I saw one of these long-horn sheep standing about 20 feet away, staring straight at me.  I then laughed, because it wasn't moving, and I somehow figured it was a statue.  Then it moved, and I jumped again.  :)  There was a group of about eight of them, and I was convinced they were some sort of aggressive antelope that was going to attack us, but John kept stalking them and I kept telling him to get back.  We eventually figured out they were sheep, not antelope.

After the wash, it was heading towards evening, so went went to an overlook of the Coachella Valley to watch the sunset.  As all the smog from LA basically heads straight for the valley, it wasn't quite as impressive as I thought it might be, but it was a neat view.

We then waited around for a while for it to get dark and check out view of the stars.  It was freezing, so we didn't stick around long, but it was a good end to an interesting day.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Me Made Bird Edition - 1/26/15

One of the things about being so busy with work is that it requires stress relief, which for me means locking myself in my attic and sewing away.  When you spend hours shaking your fist at your computer because the model is not spitting out numbers that make sense, it's nice to take a break and make something with your hands that is a real tangible output.  That is, until you end up shaking your fist at your sewing machine because it eats your fabric. :)  Luckily I'm getting much better at sewing, and that doesn't happen as much.  Anyway, that was a long intro to just say that I've been super productive in my sewing so far this year, and probably am approaching the same number of completed garments for 2015 as I made in all of 2014.  

This tank top was actually the first garment of the year, and I finished it up on New Years Day.  As part of my effort to clean up my project list, this was a super quick task to cross something off the list.  I used the Wiksten Tank pattern, which is intended for woven fabrics, but I took about 2" out of the center to make it more suitable for a knit fabric.  I've been saving this bird fabric for a while now, and actually wanted to make a little cardigan out of it, but I didn't have enough, so a tank top it is.  The only other changes I did were to add the bindings for the neck and armholes, and I lengthened it, making the back longer than the front.  I just serged the hemline, since my twin needle has been acting up, but I could probably just do a normal hem, since it doesn't stretch that much going over my head.

Black and White all Over - 1/25/15

Playing catch-up a bit today!  I've been working from home quite a bit more lately, which means my daily routine isn't that interesting, and not much is blog-worthy. :)  Sunday I did get dressed up though, so I have an outfit photo from then.  Our old church in DC met on Sunday evenings and was quite casual, so I usually wore jeans.  Our new church here is also on the casual side, but especially since I wear t-shirts and jeans when I work at home, it's nice to dress up a bit more.  One of my favorite tricks to make myself like my clothes again is to put them away for a while and re-evaluate later.  I was planning on getting rid of this skirt (which I last wore in November - the beauty of both spreadsheets and a blog with outfit posts), but I gave it another shot, and decided I do like it after all.  The trick with this one is that I prefer to wear non-tucked in shirts that are black, which, while it's pretty specific, the skirt is busy enough that I don't wear it that regularly that it becomes boring to always pair it with a certain type of shirt.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Chartreuse Green - 1/15/15

I'm never entirely sure if I should wear this color or not, but I love it, so I do anyway.  Nothing too earth-shattering today, but a good basic outfit.

Stay at Home Kinda Day - 1/14/15

I worked from home yesterday, so went much more casual and comfy - nothing too exciting, except for my new scarf!  Back in November I mused about learning how to knit so I could make this scarf:

Being too cheap to spend the $99 on the yarn kit, I made up my own selection from JoAnn's, and spent a month and a half working away, getting about 3/4 of the way done before realizing I hated it.  Mainly because my yellow and pale pink yarns were different from the other three colors (much fluffier), and threw it all off.  I then unraveled the whole thing and started my own version, which is what is below, just using the coral/red and magenta.  My takeaway - knitting sucks.  It takes forever compared to crocheting, but that might just be due to my many more years crocheting.  I do have another knitting project on the back-burner though, so I will give it one more go.

Without further ado, I give you my scarf:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dressed Up - 1/13/15

I went a little dressier today, but my hair is crazy looking, and I'm not sure about the blazer over the dress.  I do like the dress by itself though.  The dress came with a belt that I thought was too fussy looking (it was black elastic, with a gold medallion thing in the front), so I switched it out for a belt that was more me.

Monday, January 12, 2015


I spent the majority of my weekend sewing away, and this is one of the three things I completed (all three had been previously started, so I'm not that super speedy).  I had been eyeing this cheetah twill (from the home decor section at JoAnn's) for a while, thinking I would make a simple woven tee, but then I got the Rosie top pattern from Style Arc, and even though it was intended for a more slinky fabric, figured I would give it a try.

Based on some internet perusing to see how others fared with the pattern, I knew I would have to make a few adjustments, as well as figuring out how the twill fabric would work.  I lowered the waistline by 2 or 3 inches (the line drawing is deceptive, it's actually quite a bit higher in the pattern itself), and I moved the bodice seams in towards the center 1" each.  The bodice still wasn't fitting quite right over the bust, so I took in the top angled bit of the seam some more, which made the neckline all wacky, and I lowered it to fix it.  I knew the sleeves would be problematic with the twill, so I cut them back to be tank top straps.  

The bust fit is still mushy looking, which I think was actually made worse by the fact I lengthened the top.  The pattern is intended to be a looser-fitting top without a zipper, and I think tightening it up and adding a zipper in the side would have fixed that up.

More looseness in the back, which again would be fixed up by adding a zipper and either slimming it up or moving the waist seam back up.

All in all, I'm not super happy with the fit, but I knew it was a bit of a crap shoot going into it.  It may end up in my goodwill pile, but it was a fun experiment.

Simple - 1/12/15

I've been doing a lot of thinking about my wardrobe for a while now (hence the daily outfit photo), and I've really been coming back to the basics, and realizing I'm happiest with that.  Today is a version of my winter uniform, which I could wear some variation of every day (black boots + black skinny pants + black shirt + colored topper).

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Me Made Thursday - 1/8/15

I've finally gotten around to getting my photo corner set up again, this time in the guest room (which is basically my closet anyway, so it works out well).  I'm serious about trying to whittle down my sewing project list, so I've been tackling quick and easy items, to get them out of the way.  This skirt is actually the second item I've sewn in 2015 (so far, most productive year ever), but I haven't gotten around to taking photos of the first one.  This is just a super simple lined knit skirt.  I'm not entirely sure what the outside fabric is made of, but it seems like a cheap synthetic version of a linen knit.  I ordered it from Gorgeous Fabrics because I really like the pattern, but I think I'm going to start only buying fabric in person, because I've had several misses the last few times.

The construction was quick and easy - I just serged up the side seams, basted the top of the lining and the outside together and then zig-zag stitched the top  to a piece of wide elastic, which is folded into the inside.  My twin needle has not been working properly, so I haven't actually hemmed it yet, but it's holding up without a hem so far.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Goodbye, Christmas!

Seeing as how yesterday we started to take down the Christmas decorations, I figured I would share them with you all!  It was so much fun to decorate our house for the holidays.  Next year will be even better, just you wait!

Buying a tree a week and a half before Christmas didn't leave us with many options, not to mention it's one of those things John and I have differing opinions on.  Compromise - this year we got a small dense tree (John's pick) and no tinsel (my pick).  Next year we get a big airy tree with tinsel. 

The boxwood garland ended up a bit more wild looking than I was envisioning, but it's fun.  You may also notice the dining room light fixture, which is neither a boob light or festooned with swans.  Stay tuned more more details on that one.

I was really excited to have a banister to wrap with a garland.  This was actually garland number 2, as we started with a live garland that looked awful and was shedding after like 2 days.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Can my next house look like this?

Back in December, I spent about a week out in California, and one of the things we did was go visit the Gamble House in Pasadena.  It was designed by Greene and Greene, two brothers who basically spearheaded Craftsman architecture on the west coast, and it is basically the only pristine example left.  All of the original furniture, dishes, rugs were designed for the house and are still there.  It was built in 1907 as the winter home of the Gamble family (of Proctor and Gamble), and in the 50s the second generation decided to sell it as the upkeep was getting a lot. Instead of taking the offer of the person whose decorator recommended painting all of the hand-carved paneling bright white,as the dim Craftsman style had gone out of favor with the prevalence of mid-century modern, they instead donated it to the city of Pasadena and USC, and it's been preserved ever since.  Craftsman is the one style that John and I actually agree on, and we both really enjoyed the tour.  No inside pictures were allowed, but it was even more gorgeous than the outside.

Graphic Fun

Sorry it's been quite a while!  I rearranged my sewing studio, and my picture corner is out of commission at the moment, and life/work/holidays just sort of got in the way.  Since I don't have any outfit photos to share, I found these pictures, which I scanned from an old encyclopedia I found way back in high school, I think, probably at a thrift store or something.  My plan was eventually to frame these, but they haven't quite made it that far yet, so I figured I would share a few of my favorites.