Sunday, June 16, 2013

My Stack of Books: May's Reads

I thought I read more during May--this list is surprisingly short!  I was probably sampling books--skimming through and not finishing them.  I only write down what I finish. So without further ado,

Product Details

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare.  My favorite Shakespeare play.  I am hoping to see the new film version--there is a small theater in town that shows the more arty films, and I'd bet that this will play there.  9 out of 10

Faith by Jennifer Haigh.  This is the third book of Haigh's that I have read.  The subject (Catholic priest in Boston is removed from his parish) made me squirm.  I wasn't sure I even wanted to read it, but it was worth it.  It wasn't what I thought it was going to be--does that make sense?  6 out of 10

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.  This was my first 10 out of 10 for the year.  I picked this one up at a bookstore in the Chicago airport because I needed a book to read on the flight home.  What a happy find.  I came to this book with no expectations, and it was such a delight.

That's a wrap for May.  The kids get out of school this week, so I am moving into Summer Reading Mode!  See you next month.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Finished Object

A finished object--something once so commonly seen around here, now, a rare treat.

And what a treat this one is!  Caroline has a school project.  She had to choose an historical figure to study and then present a speech/powerpoint as to why that person should be named the Historical Person of the Year.  She chose Queen Elizabeth I.  I was completely surprised and delighted (I have a Tudor fixation, you may remember.).  And then my wheels started turning about the costume.

Here is my girl, all decked out in her dress.

And now for the details.  I wanted to keep the expenses down.  My first thought was to search thrift stores for some tablecloths.  I already had the pattern.  I used this pattern when Caroline was in third grade and she was Laura Ingalls Wilder for a different project.  This time I used a different View--and I edited the view that I did use.  The dresses in the pattern were more colonial in style.  Another challenge I had was that some of the pattern pieces had already been cut when I made the size 8 dress.  There was some playing about with tissue paper in order to lengthen the pieces, and I made a muslin of the top part of the dress just so I could be sure the sleeves would work.

I never had the time to venture out to the thrift stores.  Over Memorial Day weekend, we were all at Joann's, and Rob found this silver fabric in the remnant section.  All remnants were on sale for 50% off, so the silver fabric was $3 per yard.  The plum faux silk was also in the remnant section.  I also purchased some tulle and some interfacing, and thread.  I had a zipper at home to use.

The first challenge I didn't anticipate was that this fabric would just unweave itself once it was cut.  The more I handled it, the worse it got.  The joining of the bodice to the gathered skirt was especially tricky.  I ended up stitching around that seam a few times in the hope that the stitching will hold the fabric together.  The zipper was also tricky--not so much the installation of the zipper as the actual working of the zipper.  There are many frayed ends of fabric that keep getting caught in the zipper and make it nearly impossible to work.

 I had designed a tall collar to sew around the neckline, but I didn't think I could sew it in without doing irreparable harm to the garment.  I had looked at purchasing some lace to make a collar, but that was a budget buster.  I had made a collar out of the silver and the plum fabrics, but by the time I gathered them, it was clear that sewing through the gathers plus the additional layers of fabric was not going to be easy, and I didn't have enough left over fabric to cut new pieces if the sewing went wrong.
 I used the collar pieces at the waist instead.  I had planned to sew in some tulle under the waist as well to give it some fullness, but again I decided that there were too many layers to get through. The state of the fraying fabric made me abandon all ideas of "extras."  I just wanted to get this done before the fabric fell apart.

The many strings of pearls were giveaways from a bat mitzvah that we went to last month.  We cut them up to various lengths.  That will detract from the fact that this dress is about four inches too short!  I had to make up a skirt length because the last time I used this pattern, I cut it to fit a size 8.  I didn't add enough length.  At this point, I don't really care.  And Caroline wasn't bothered by it.

So there it is--my finished object.  There are many things wrong with it, and it didn't turn out at all like I had envisioned, but it does look quite pretty and regal.  I was happy to make it.

Monday, June 3, 2013

2013 Goals: The May Update

Oh, those goals!  There's always room for improvement.

Fitness:  Gym attendance was about where it has been, although I'm adjusting my attitude about trying new machines in the fitness center.  The elliptical may be my favorite way to get sweaty, but it's not the only way. Now that the Saturday morning activities are starting to wind down, I'd like to go to the Saturday morning yoga class at least once during June.  I think I'm also going to add a longer morning walk with the dog once the kids are out of school.

Crafty:  I really didn't have a craft-related goal for this year.  Crafting came to a screaming halt once Honey joined our family, but I miss the process of making.  This month I am making a costume dress for Caroline.  Keep your fingers crossed for me, because I may have bitten off a little more than I can chew. And because creative activities have a way of spawning other activities, I also have a quilt in mind to make, and we are considering fabric for curtains in our freshly-painted sunroom.

Reading:  Still reading, still blurbing.  I'll share my latest reads here mid-month.  Last month I did add a new page at the top of the blog where I am listing all the titles I've read so far.

Cooking:  Last month I had one of those weeks where every meal was from a magazine.  The kids do not love it when I do that--they can only go so many nights before they're looking for something more kid-menu-like.  It's feast or famine around here!  Here are the recipes:  Pan-roasted chicken with carrots and almonds (from Bon Appetit--this one is going into the rotation), Minted Chicken with Asparagus, Shrimp tacos with lime slaw, and sizzling steak with lime basil sauce.  The two chicken dishes were the winners.  The shrimp tacos needed something else to flesh them out, and the steak dish was okay.

We have two and half more weeks of school left.  At this point, it's mostly field trips and field days.  The kids have just about lost focus on academics.  I have ordered up several books for summer reading for the kids.  I'll share that in my next reading post.