February 23, 2011

Alessi's Ark

I do not claim to be one of those people who always know about the newest bands. I'm really more of a music snob, than a music whore(da-er (inside joke)). I like what I like, I don't care if it makes me cool or not, and I don't like what I don't like and I do not care. Yes I have my guilty pleasures, and a sophisticated musical pallet, and there are certain "musicians" who I would like to see erased from the memory of society (I'm looking at you and your whistle tones Mariah Carey). See much more of a snob. :-) But occasionally I come across someone before anyone else I know and I get very excited and a bit exuberant in becoming a fan. 

One such group I discovered over the last few days is Alessi's Ark. This is a project headed by the absolutely adorable Alessi Laurent-Marke. The group hails from the UK and I completely love their mellow folksy tunes. Alessi's sweet and pure voice adds a touch of innocence to the cleverly written songs, which is something I tend to find lacking in most modern music. The tunes are upbeat with a hint of melancholy, which makes the group's music quite enjoyable. Too often modern music is either just noise, or aesthetically challenging, but Alessi's Ark combinds both. The music is simple, but not overtly so, and at times is actually interestingly woven together. And the lyrics are clever, honest, and really nice to listen to. I'm not a music critic, nor do I pretend to be one, but I do know what I like, and I like Alessi's Ark. Beyond having a voice I am quite envious of, Miss Alessi also has some killer style. And on top of that she's stinking adorable! 

To learn more about Alessi's Ark you can read here.
Official website.
Listen here.

February 22, 2011




Remember back when I went as a Navy Nurse for Hallowe'en? Well I had planned on making a cape to go with the costume, but with running out of time and the fact that is was still bloody hot in October (and November, and December, and...) I never bothered doing so. I had bought all the necessary things for the cape which have been sitting in my stash since then.  I had planned on letting it sit there until next fall when I will actually need outerwear, but the weather was so nice and gloomy this past week, that I decided to go ahead and make it. It was a relatively quick project and came out pretty well. Something went awry with the hem (I hate hemming with all my being and thus am pre-disposed to screw them up), and I really should not have done all the finishing at 3am, but otherwise, it's great.

Forgive the mirror shot! I apparently need to clean my mirror!
Also just forgive the whole set of photos. My room has the worst lighting.



Of course, had I my druthers, I'd have taken photos of this in some rather dramatic rainy moor-like setting, but the weather has turned sunny again. Sometimes I worry that maybe I only like rain because it's a novelty, and I've never had enough of it and that come this next year when I'll be living in a cold, rainy climate, I'll find that I am actually like all the rest of the world and hate rain. But then we get a week of rainy weather and I am delighted, and then the sun comes back and I literally get so frustrated. It's not even that warm (well by our standards. It's been between the 40's to the 60's.), but it's just so darn bright and sunny, and I just don't like it. I was meant to live life as a vampire. Consequently (in case my 3am sewing binges weren't clue enough) I'm also a total night owl. I would make a great rock star, up all night and sleep all day. Except the room I slept in would have to have those black out curtains because I can't sleep with any light. Where even is this post going....




Back to the cape. I used this pattern. I did shorten it quite a bit. If you're going to use this pattern let me warn you that you might want to size down. I cut out an XL and it was huge! I gathered it way more than I needed to because of how much fabric it used. I actually probably could have used the size small, there was just so much fabric. I used a Navy (despite what the photos might suggest) poly-wool blend that I bought on sale at Joann's and some crimson lining. The giant hook and eye was in my stash and I have no idea where it came from. I debated adding the anchor buttons and gold stars I had originally intended to add for my costume, but I wanted to avoid making  it look like a costume piece. All in all I really like it, though if I ever made another one, I'd add arm holes. not having any is a tad annoying. Delaney has asked me to make her one for her birthday, so I think I'll do that on hers. Hopefully the storm that is coming in will be a nice enough one that I can wear it!


February 18, 2011

The Eleventh Hour

Literally. Also this has the potential to be an incredibly long post.

The Eleventh Hour
Blouse and Sweater- thrifted
Skirt- Made by me
Saddle Shoes- Payless

On occasion I am an idiot. No, really. I fully believe the key to a healthy life is to burst your own ego bubble from time to time, so I have no problem in saying it: I am sometimes really, really stupid. Case and Point: Last night at 11 o'clock in the evening I decided to make a skirt. I had actually been planning on making said skirt all day, but hadn't got around to it yet. I have no idea why I thought 11pm was a good time to start a sewing project, but start I did. And finish I did, but we'll get there.

The Eleventh Hour

The Eleventh Hour

I used this pattern. I've had it in my stash for a while and never put it to use. I feel like this post is going in rabbit trails, but there is actually a back story to all this. See yesterday was the first day I'd worn a dress all week. I've been living in jeans and tees and have been so frustrated with my wardrobe that I seriously considered getting rid of it all and starting over. There is no cohesion, and making outfits has become very difficult. Also, y'know that phrase "too much of a good thing...," well that is totally my closet. There is just too much and it leaves me exhausted just looking at it. Another problem is that I apparently have an aversion to solids. 99% of my wardrobe is made up of cute and charming prints, and absolutely zippo on the basics side. So sometime earlier this week (I literally can barely remember what I did this morning) I sat down with a sketch book, and made up a Spring And Summer Wardrobe Plan (<----- big fancy name). It still needs a bit of fine tuning, but I like the direction it's headed. My SASWP, as I like to say, has really brought to light the holes in my wardrobe, and will allow me to eliminate things that are worn out, don't get a lot of wear, and just not my style anymore. The SASWP (I love saying this) also lets me play with colours I don't already have in my closet but have been wanting to incorporate. 

The Eleventh Hour

The Eleventh Hour

 When I was "designing" this wardrobe plan I first made a list of the basics, by category, that I do have, but need to be replaced and then listed basics in colours I'd like to play with. So The skirts category looks something like this: Basics to replace: Black, Brown, Navy, Red. Basics to incorporate: Grey, Maroon/plumb, Tan(?). I did this for my entire closet, pants, shorts, dresses, even pyjamas. My theory is that once I have these basics, then I can go an add more fun pieces. I'm not finished with the planning, but I'm close! 

The Eleventh Hour

The Eleventh Hour

So back to the skirt. I really prefer these 40's style, gored, A line skirts to other styles and shapes. I am a very oddly proportioned person, and A line skirts tend to balance me out better than their full counter part, and this pattern fit the bill. I had read a few reviews for this pattern and each an every single one said in bold, all caps lettering CHECK THE FINISHED GARMENT MEASUREMENTS! This statement was usually followed by multiple exclamation points. I know that at some point I did this, because the back of my pattern had the size 22 circled. I usually cut a 22 in most patterns. I usually have to take in the waist a bit, but always cut it for my hips. For some reason though, I looked at the back of the pattern and the measurements for the 22 and thought I'd gone crazy because they were super small! So I sized up to a 28, which was the closest thing to my measurements.

The Eleventh Hour

The Eleventh Hour

I kept doing a fitting with the paper pattern and was really nervous about the fit being too small. But I cut it out. I also wanted to fully line this skirt so I used a bit of some leftover mint green (another colour I'm trying to incorporate) cotton/poly blend satin. I learned that I have no idea how to line a skirt. I mean, yeah it should be pretty easy right? You make two skirts and then you stitch them together right? Oh no, I wanted to be *clever.* I attached each piece of the lining to the corresponding skirt piece at the waist, then I actually sewed the skirt pieces together. Which would have been a great idea, had the main fabric not been so thick. The tweed is lightweight on it's own, but not with the added lining. So that was kind of a fail. I know there is a way to do the lining and skirt all in one, but clearly I am not that smart. The biggest issue with this method is that it makes the hem stick out funny in some spots, even after steaming it. I will just have to fix that on the next one...

The Eleventh Hour
I promise the skirt is actually grey tweed, the lighting was off and I couldn't fix it. The buttons is also grey, and I forgot to take a pic of the zipper which is also mint green! These are the kind of details that I love about sewing your own clothes!
So I got the skirt made and went to go do a fitting. Yeah, I had to take it in by EIGHT inches. Eight. Do you read that!!?? Eight! I took it in at the sides, four inches each. Added the zipper and the button and voila, new skirt. So before I go any further let me just say, that the skirt was super easy to assemble, and I literally have no complaints about how it went together. A line skirts are not exactly a difficult thing to create, but this was really a great pattern and I fully plan on using it many more times. And it would have been even better had I not tried being so very *clever* and actually just lined the damn thing like a normal person would. And it was a fairly quick project too. I mean I started cutting the paper pattern out at 11pm and finished the hem at 3am (I know). The total sewing time was about 2 hours. (by the way, the pattern didn't call for it to be lined but the tweed I used is a bit on the itchy side so I went ahead an did so. If you're daunted by the idea of lining, you can totally emit it, and I really do recommend this pattern.)  But I have learned that I can complicate anything regardless of how simple it is, which is where the whole lining thing comes in Also, I forgot to wash my fabric. Also I found it in the garage and it is really dusty. This is a bad, bad thing. 

The Eleventh Hour
The lining and the bulky hem. Sigh.

So I'm calling this a working muslin, because it is wearable, but needs some work. Like, why is there so much skirt at the sides? I think it has to do with the curvature of the skirt from the original too big size ( by the way according to the finished measurements, the 28 ended up being like 10 inches bigger than the body measurements. WTH?), so I will need to take in more off the sides. I feel like I'm swimming in skirt like this. I think I might even size go a size down. I also need to make it a tad shorter and I'm thinking about adding some in seam pockets, or maybe some patch pockets. This pattern was also crazy long. I really shouldn't complain because I honestly love this pattern, but my ill proportions coupled with my cleverness tends to complicate things. 

As far as outfits go, I really like this one. It's actually funny but I have been wanting to put something like this together for a long time, but never had a grey skirt. I have been searching for one for months and finally resorted to making my own. Long, long story short, I love this pattern, I can be an idiot, and as soon as I have some $$ I'm going to go buy some solid fabrics to make skirts out of. What is up with my not having a solid fabrics? It's all prints, prints, prints! Okay I'll shut up now. I think I need some more sleep.

February 16, 2011


Oh dear, I did not mean to disappear! On the plus side I have something really cool to show you!!

Last week Charissa turned 21! Being that she had classes all day on her actual birthday we couldn't do anything to celebrate. So Sunday we headed down to LA-LA-land to celebrate. We went on a hike in the Malibu hills, and then went out to dinner and cupcakes at a restaurant on the Malibu pier. It was a lovely coolish day, and aside from a few scheduling mishaps, everything was perfect! I forgot to take pictures of it, but around 5 o'clock a huge fog rolled in, covering the entirety of Malibu in dark grey gloominess. This was my personal favourite part of the day. It was super weird having to turn on my fog lights on PCH! The other best part of the day was the waterfall! We took the trail that led to a waterfall at an old burnt down McMansion fro the 50's. The place was breathtaking and the water was wonderfully cold! Which ended up being a saving grace too! I was climbing from one rock to another and slipped, landing on my ankle. I soaked it in the water for a good 20 mins and other than a little bit of a pulled tendon, I'm as good as new! All in all it was an excellent day!


My speedometer is broken. I was stopped at a stoplight when I took this!






I was searching for the trail and took a wrong turn up a very steep hill. Then I did a U turn on this very narrow road. It was awesome.




A Hole! We were very amused by all the hollowed out trees and kept joking about finding holes, which I'm sure you can guess where that led...


This was the remains of an old hunting cabin. It was built in 1870-something and didn't burn down until 2007 when we had some really bad fired sweep through this section.


This place brought back a lot of childhood memories! When I was a kid my great grandparents had a cabin up in Big Bear and my sisters and I would go exploring in the woods to find this old burned down cabin which we somehow became convinced was the home of the "Scary Man" who had killed his wife and children, burnt down his home and now roamed the forest looking for other children to murder. We even knew where the secret graves of the wife and children were. One year my dad and uncle were perpetuating this silly legend, and Bri and I were playing on the bunk beds in our room when someone's hand -holding a knife- suddenly hit the window. Bri and I screamed, went running through the cabin screaming. As my dad kept trying to tell us it was just our imagination, my dumb uncle came waltzing into the cabin, quickly hiding something in his pocket. I knew right away that is was my uncle's had on the window, and started yelling at him (I was a very feisty child), and all the adults insisted it wasn't him with what I liked to call their "lying grins." It took years for my uncle to finally admit it was him. Weird how certain places can bring a rush of memories.



We loved how like a band photo this looks!


A rare sighting of Ashley is work-out gear!



Then this happened.


This was the McMansion. It was actually really amazing! It was built in the 1950's and burned down (another fire, welcome to California) in 1982. It was supposed to be a Tropical Paradise, which was kind of funny, because you went from forest to a sudden Oasis of palm trees and tropical flowers.


It went on forever! 


There were also about a million fireplaces and stoves!


And bathrooms!


I found the mixed flora quite amusing.


Beyond the house there was once a large terrace area that overlooking the private waterfall. There was a walk way and rail that led to the actual swimming hole section. 


At deepest it hit me about my waist, but mostly you could just wade through it. Oh it felt so wonderful! 



Bri, Charissa, and I decided to take a waterfall shower! It was freezing cold! The shock of the cold made it all the more fun.







It wasn't actually deep enough to swim (this was the waist deep part), but I tripped and began to swim back to everyone. Plus this was post the ankle thing, so I was not doing to well on me feet.


So much fun!


We stopped at Crumbs for cupcakes which was located in an outdoor shopping mall. This sign was posted on the walls of the buildings and cracked me up. Welcome to Los Angeles County.


For dinner we went to The Beachcomber. The food was marvelous, as were the drinks. And Charissa learned that she is a lightweight. She downed her entire drink before we even got our appetizers and had only had some jerky and trail mix to eat all day. It was pretty funny watching her freak out about how dizzy she felt. 


This picture cracks me up!



Calamari with Green Goddess Sauce. I have no idea what it was, but the calamari was to die for!


They had a limited menu because of Valentine's Day, which we were a little disappointed by, but my gosh it was all soooooo good. This is the tangerine shrimp with rice pilaf. Kind of amazing. Bri got Linguine with clams in white wine sauce, Charissa got the Mango Lobster Martini, and Michael and Sarah got the pot roast. Everything was delish! We also got a crab cake appetizer, which was equally amazing. Basically we all ate, and ate, and ate!


Bri and I got Charissa a Hollywood Hangover kit. We also got her some good presents too, but the kit was actually super cute!


And the cupcakes? Omigawd! This was my Cherry Cobbler cupcake. It was amazing.


After dinner we took a walk along the pier and then this happened. I have no idea how, but I took pictures.


And we all went on our merry way!
It was a really wonderful day!
And this is about half the photos I have. If you want to see more you can see the whole set here.

How was your weekend?