Archive for the 'Kim or Matt related' Category

Blog backlog: I’m not dead yet! edition

November 30th, 2013

School is kicking my butt like you wouldn’t believe this year (I have my contractual maximum of 170 kids, and it’s murder), plus I’m just generally a bad blogger. So sue me.

In case you were wondering, Halloween has officially been my least favorite holiday since I began teaching middle school. (It’s closely rivaled by Valentine’s Day.) There’s a lot of hype and a lot of sugar, resulting in a lot of rowdy kids and candy wrappers everywhere. I hate it. Nonetheless, when the ASB kids made Halloween week a spirit week, I jumped right in (I love spirit weeks), even though it meant I had to come up with not one, not two, but three costumes.

Actually, I ended up making four. Monday was Pajama Day.

pyjamas

I’ve been obsessed with Phineas and Ferb ever since my kids last year chose to watch a Phineas and Ferb movie for the last two days of school. So when I found this fabric at Joann’s at the same time I had a 60% off coupon, it was a no-brainer.

Tuesday was Teacher-Student Day, explained as “Teachers dress like students, and students dress like teachers.”

student

I found leopard-print leggings at a discount store. (They’re my new favorite pajama pants, so I’m not even wasting them. In fact, I’m wearing them right now.) The gigantic hoop earrings are from Target (and they hurt!), and the rest of the effect is just details — high bun, lots of eye makeup, and my phone. :) I must have done well; my kids periodically suggest that I should wear the leopard print leggings again.

Wednesday was Rock Star Day.

rock star

The skirt I made — Halloween discount tulle (with skulls!) and clearance fabric with metallic raised dots. The shirt was a fortuitous Target clearance find, the jacket is Matt’s, the necklace has a glittery spider on it and I had it from Halloween last year. I did have to buy red lipstick, though, and it is not fun to wear. (Difficult to apply and gets everywhere.) The kids preferred the student look, but this was the favorite of the teachers.

Thursday was Halloween, and the sad thing is, the costume I spent a great deal of time on was totally eclipsed by the student and rock star looks. Oh well.

Still, this one has a tail. You can’t beat that.

The original pattern came with a ruffly skirt, which I omitted. (Although. . . guess where I got the inspiration for my rock star skirt?)

Long story short, I’ve been doing a lot of sewing and very little blogging. I wouldn’t expect that to change any time soon.

Blog backlog: Anniversary and crazy Sophie

August 19th, 2013

Matt and I took our customary jaunt out to the coast for our anniversary (7 years!) during the first week of August. Since Sophie did well at the ranch on our last trip, we figured we’d be fine taking the dogs along. (Side note: Someone at breakfast commented, “You have videos of your dogs on the internet.” Well, yes, but how did you know? Answer: She found my video of the dogs while doing internet research on the Howard Creek Ranch Inn.)

We did our usual, taking lots of walks on the beach,

Beach walk

and Matt did some geeking out at a different beach, where he spotted a geological feature called an anticline.

anticline

Sounds good, right? Well, it was. For us. And for Philip.

Philip tidepool

Not so much for Sophie, however, who has become, improbable as it may sound, still more crazy.

Sophie

She’s always been afraid of people, but now it seems like there’s no safe distance — if she can see them, she’s upset. As if that’s not enough, she’s become very sound-sensitive, too — if she can hear people, she’s upset. So in addition to her Zoloft and her weekly training class, we tried a Thundershirt and Calming Cap to see if they helped alleviate her anxiety.

Sophie's traveling gear

The answer was yes. . . and no. They helped (although Sophie really hates the Calming Cap and spends a great deal of time trying to remove it when it’s on), but not enough to keep her calm if, say, she heard anyone upstairs. Or if we went through a drive-through. Or stopped in a busy parking lot.

(One thing she doesn’t care about, though: My personal space.)

Sophie on my legs

When we got home, we scheduled another appointment with our vet behaviorist, who upped the dose of Zoloft and added another medication to Sophie’s regimen (trazodone). So far, no good, so the next step is likely to be to wean her off the Zoloft and try a different medication. In the meantime, she’s gotten worse again, and now she won’t go out the front door. So no walks, no dog park, no nothing. I now have an agoraphobe. (And you thought it couldn’t get worse. . . well, me too. More fool we.)

So I got another training book, and have a one-on-one consultation with Nancy next week, and in the meantime am trying to implement tips from both. So Sophie is being rewarded any time she looks at me (Nancy’s idea) and I’m training her to target (both the book and Nancy’s idea) and to relax on a mat (the book’s idea). Naturally, this called for a homemade mat.

Sophie mat front

It’s reversible, too. And made entirely from scraps!

Sophie mat back

So wish me luck, I guess. Sigh. (Double sigh.)

Gazpacho

July 21st, 2013

Matt and I normally hit the farmer’s market on Sundays, but he has a regatta today, so we went yesterday, mostly for tomatoes. I’ve been craving gazpacho.

gazpacho

We found some fabulously ripe heirlooms (with one of my students working the stand, no less), and they were already oozing juice by the evening. So I made gazpacho last night. At midnight. I’m glad I did, though, because now, guess what I’m having for lunch?

(For the curious, I used, loosely, this recipe. No tomato juice, though, because you don’t need it if the tomatoes are good enough, and if the tomatoes aren’t good enough, why are you making gazpacho?)

On “commission”

July 16th, 2013

In addition to my recent garment sewing kick (and I have a finished dress that’s just awaiting photography, so stay tuned), I’ve been doing some quilting this summer. Actually, I got a head start on summer quilting thanks to a “commission” (there was no money involved) — my principal retired this year, and the VP organizing her party thought she’d like a quilt.

Mary closeup

Since I didn’t get much lead time (“So. . . how long does it take you to whip out a quilt?” my VP wanted to know, two weeks before the party), I decided to keep it simple. I bought a charm pack in colors that theoretically match my principal’s RV, and gave the staff cream solid fabric, taped off into five inch squares. It’s not really to my taste, but I still thought it came out well. And thus ends “commission” number one.

(There’s no full quilt shot because I didn’t manage any decent photos. But if you want a bad one. . . here you go.)

“Commission” number two should probably have come first, because I accepted it about a year ago. Jen wanted a quilt to display Aiden’s special baby clothes, which I was happy to do (and to be fair to me, I did warn her it would probably take forever). I was a little apprehensive about starting it, because I didn’t want to make any mistakes with irreplaceable special clothes, but once I did start, it pretty much flew by. And I love it.

aiden

Ohmygoodness, where to start? I had two major challenges with this quilt. For starters, not everything was t-shirt material, which is pretty easy to work with. There were a few (adorable) fleecy outfits, and a few with fasteners through the main motif. On top of that, all the clothing pieces were different sizes and shapes.

I finally decided to use each piece as a base and fill out around it with coordinating stash fabric; each block finished at 12″ square. That solved the size and shape problem, and also meant that I could place zippers and fleece in the center of the block, and not have to deal with it when I joined blocks together. (That was a good decision. Sewing over zippers is a bear. Not just any bear, either. A very angry bear who just had his fish stolen.)

I’m especially proud of the vampire block and the fleecy lion block (brown striped background), because both came from onesies with super-cute feet. The vampires are, well, vampires, and the lion onesie said “Mommy’s mane man” on the soles. I appliqued both on a background piece to make them easier to include in the quilt, and I’m so glad I did; it’s a nice touch and keeps the blocks from looking too angular.

Those aren’t my favorite blocks, though. I put my favorites in the center: the lion block and the Mario block.

Mario block

The green mushroom is from a onesie Matt and I bought Aiden, as a Christmas present, I think. The fire flower and red mushroom are pieces I made to 1) match; and 2) fill out the block. (Thank goodness for 8-bit, and that’s all I have to say about that.)

lion block

I love the symmetry (thematic and visual) the blue elephant brings to this block; it’s fussy cut from a fabric I’ve had in stash for years (I think I made shorts out of it when I was in college. . . or maybe high school?), and I’m a big fan of bright primary colors. I’m also super happy to have found a deserving home for these elephants.

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m enormously pleased with myself, so I hope Jen and Andrew are just as happy. And Aiden, of course, but personally, I think Aiden is going to prefer the other half of his birthday present:

birthday rawr

Happy Gotcha Day, Sophie

July 7th, 2013

Or, “How can it have been a year already when she’s still so, so, so crazy?”

Sophie head shot

Here’s to our one-year anniversary with our independent, willful,

hide and seek Sophie

high-energy, comfort-loving,

Sophie in pool

little ball of crazy.

sleeping Sophie

(Sophie’s gotcha day is always bittersweet, because it’s also the birthday of my grandmother and Henry, both of whom have passed away. So, happy birthday to Grandma M and Henry. RIP x 2.)

RIP

Celebrating the Fourth with peace and quiet

July 6th, 2013

Philip fears very few things. Fireworks, though, are one of those few, and they’re legal in Sacramento. Thus, as much as possible, we spend the Fourth on the road. We opted, once again, to spend this year’s Fourth on the beach in Point Reyes.

This is our first Fourth with Sophie, so we weren’t sure quite how it would go. As I feared, the first few hours were trying; she got splashed on the side by a rogue wave, so now she won’t go near the water (the same wave, I might add, knocked Philip off his feet and was pulling him in when Matt got to him, but you don’t see Philip complaining); and she spent most of her time looking around fearfully to keep an eye on the movements of nearby strangers (as well as changing position to better monitor same). We gave her lots of treats, and she was relaxed enough to take them, so overall, she did pretty well, but it wasn’t exactly fun.

That is, it wasn’t fun until Sophie had an idea.

Her idea was to move to a little inlet close by, walk as far up it as possible, and lay down there. At that point, we had a pile of driftwood to the back of us, plus hills on either side, leaving only one, easily visible, entrance. After pulling me determinedly toward her desired safe spot, Sophie finally went to sleep.

Matt and Sophie nap

Philip, naturally, had other ideas. Primarily because he was hot.

Philip naps

Because he’s a trustworthy old man, we opted just to let him stay down there. And sure enough, he slept there until he got cold, at which point we bundled the dogs into their coats, moved into what was left of the sun, and all huddled together.

Kim and Sophie

Well, that was the plan, anyway. Sophie declined to cuddle. Philip, as always, managed just fine.

Matt and Philip

Our normal course of events is to stay on the beach until the sun sets or we get too cold, whichever comes first. This year, it was the latter, aided by a strong sand-bearing wind blowing into our faces. Since looking at the setting sun hurt, Matt and I decided to put the dogs in the car and watch the sun set from there.

selfie

(The sun was setting, I swear!)

sunset

All told, we had a very nice Fourth of July. No fireworks and no 113° weather. I call that a win.

Greyhound walk and photo shoot — to musical accompaniment

June 23rd, 2013

Although there’s apparently a massive storm on the way, it hasn’t started yet, so Matt and I thought we’d take the dogs to the river before we get rained in. Since the light was nice, I thought the walk could do double duty as a photo shoot for my new top. An evening walk by the river is always nice, but tonight, we got bonus musical entertainment!

band practice

It’s the Moonlight Classic (34th annual!) which, amusingly, Sacramento apparently stole from Stockton last year, and then promptly screwed up due to an inability to turn on the stadium lights.

At any rate, it was nice to listen to, and since it didn’t seem to bother Sophie, we were free to actually enjoy it. Aside from the music, it was your bog-standard greyhound river walk. The dogs sniffed,

nose work

I posed for pictures,

modeling

and we all came home in a car that smells like wet dog. Happy Sunday, everyone.

Oh, that’s right. . .

June 23rd, 2013

. . . I don’t really like garment sewing.

finished tank

I gave up on making my own clothes years ago because I lack both the skills, and, more critically, the patience. Case in point: this is a really simple piece of clothing — two pieces, one with darts; four seams; one hem; three bound edges — and it took what seemed like forever. To finish the seams nicely, I did faux French seams on the shoulders and sides, and bias binding on the neck and arms. Were either of them difficult? No. Do I like the way they look? Absolutely. Did I find them both extremely tedious? Yes.

I also made a significant number of rookie mistakes: I forgot to add seam allowances when I cut, so this is the original, minus ⅜” per seam. I think I actually like the slightly more fitted version, but it affected the neckline and I don’t love that. I accidentally made double-fold bias tape rather than single fold, so I had to finish the neck and arms twice. These things happen when you don’t make a muslin, which was a calculated risk I took because I was sewing a copy of a shirt that I know fits. (Knitters: it’s like not making a gauge swatch.)

Anyway, I don’t love it, but it took care of the sewing itch, so I’m calling it a win.

Pattern drafting

June 21st, 2013

Everyone in the quilting blogosphere, it seems, is talking about voile tanks at the moment, so I thought I’d like to get my hand in. My main problem, besides lack of time/inclination/material, is that I’m too lazy to find a pattern and too cheap to pay $10 for the popular patterns I’ve seen.

Summer solved the lack of time. My sewing kick solved the lack of inclination. A trip to Joann’s to stock up on zippers today solved the lack of material, as I found a super lightweight Swiss dot fabric for half off. And thus, we returned to the pattern problem.

I’ve never drafted a pattern before, but I do have a few easy tops I’d like to duplicate. So I dug around on the interwebs and read up a bit, and when Kevin and Matt went to see Star Trek Into Darkness in 3D (which makes me vomit), I drafted a pattern. It’s not much to look at.

pattern

I was going to start this tonight, but then I realized that I should probably prewash garment fabric. (I’m out of the habit of prewashing quilt fabric, and it has made me so, so happy.) So I guess I’m adding it to the list.

Kawaii

June 21st, 2013

I’ve been on a small crafting kick of late; my newest addiction is little zippered pouches. I’d hoped to make a pencil pouch for my TA this year as part of her end-of-year present, but I didn’t have time. It was too good of an idea to waste, though, so I made it anyway.

mustache

And then, because I was on a roll but out of applique ideas, I went to Google and did an image search for “kawaii.” No shortage of ideas there. . .

water

. . . although I think this one is my personal favorite.

dinosaur

I have exactly zero use for three pencil pouches, kawaii or otherwise, so I think I’m going to post them on my teacher Facebook page and let my kids fight over them (or something). I’m done with these for a while, but I’ll likely revisit them; they were very satisfying to make — cute, all scraps, and super quick. That’s a Kim win!

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