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Craft Rage

...Making a mess of things since 1973


Bride vs Groom Dance-off

I wonder if I could talk The Hotness into doing this at our wedding. The first 45 seconds looks pretty generic, but as you can see, it rapidly turns into something else indeed!

This is the best thing I've seen on the internet today!



I can't even show you pictures

Remember Boobah, the cat with the head wound, and who also lost part of his tail to an unfortunate wind-related accident?

Well, since then, the original head wound has healed, and he's given himself a new one on the other side of his head. Also, last week, the vet amputated part of his tail, because...well, I don't remember what the actual term was, but essentially, he had a teeny fraction of exposed bone at the tip of his tail, and rather than healing around it, his flesh was just creeping upwards, so they had to lop off about a half-inch of tail and pull the remaining flesh down around it and stitch it.

Poor, miserable cat. He's in a supersized head-cone, which The Hotness and I refer to as his "helmet". Unfortunately, we've begun referring to the entire cat that way, as in, "Where's The Helmet?" "Oh, he's crashed out on top of the washing machine." I say again, poor, miserable cat.

I started my corset for my wedding dress, I cleaned the house from top to bottom, baked two loaves of bread from scratch, (my first time EVER), and caught up on the laundry.

And I didn't take pictures of anything at all.

Anyway, I'm off to wash Boobah's face, since he can't do it himself. Poor, miserable cat.


This story reinforces my desire to make my own wedding dresses, rather than be at the mercy of the folks at wedding boutiques.


I lied - maybe ONE picture.



No 'Poo Update

I recently finished listening to two books by Dean Koontz, Fear Nothing and Seize the Night. I enjoyed both audiobooks very much, but really, the only reason I'm telling you this is so that I can accurately describe what's happening to my hair.

In the books, a DNA-altering retrovirus has escaped the lab. People who are infected are Becoming...becoming what, nobody knows, but they are Becoming someone else, possibly someTHING else.

My hair is Becoming.

Day 1 to day 5 were...pretty bad. Partly because I didn't really know what I was doing, so I was using way too much of everything. On the positive side, everything was from my baking cupboard, so at least I was edible the entire time. On the negative side, I spent a great deal of time trying to pretend that the vinegar smell was NOT emanating from my head. It takes a lot more effort to avoid head-sniffers than you might imagine.

Day 6 to day 8 were...well, they were also pretty bad. I reformulated my "shampoo" and "conditioner", so I no longer smelled like salad, but my hair looked and felt pretty awful. Imagine greasy, static-y straw.

On days 9 and 10, I wanted to pull a full-on Britney, and shave my head right to the skin.

On day 11, I started to feel like, if I didn't shampoo my hair, I was going to have a psychotic break. I took a shower, washed with my hair with my baking soda solution, rinsed with my vinegar/green tea/vodka solution, and then stood in the shower, rocking back and forth, hands outstretched to the shampoo bottle.

I made a compromise with myself; I decided that if I could find a bottle in the shower that didn't have the dreaded 'cones (dimethicone) in it, I'd use it. As an aside, did you know that pretty much all conditioners and many shampoos have silicone in them? I did not. I mean, it's not like I assumed that shampoo was made of magical fairy dust, in non-sweatshop fairy factories, where elves sang as they did the bottling, but I didn't think it contained a derivative of the product I used to seal the edges of my bathtub. Who knew?

Anyway, owing to the fact that I have longish, slightly shampoo and conditioner resistant hair, I have a lot of different bottles hanging out everywhere, because I've tried EVERYTHING. I found a shampoo with no 'cones, and for a few seconds, I just stood there, staring at the bottle in my hand, feeling like an addict who's come face to face with her addiction. After a quick argument with myself (which I did aloud, the pro side in my own voice, the con side done in the voice of Stimpy) I turned my head upside down, put the tiniest little dab of shampoo in my hands, and worked it through the ends of my hair, careful not to touch my scalp.

I shudder to report that the rinse water came out black.


At first, I thought it was dirt, and I can't even describe how grossed out I was. Somehow, I managed to fight the urge to curl up in a ball in the bottom of the shower, moaning "Unclean, unclean, UNCLEAN!", along with the urge to re-wash my hair and dump the no 'poo experiment once and for all.

I finished rinsing, then crawled out of the shower to towel off and pour myself a drink. As I passed the mirror, I noticed that something was different, but I wasn't ready to look too closely. When I combed it out, I finally realized why my rinse water was so dark.

About six months ago, I colored my naturally dark brown hair a very, very dark brown, nearly black. When I dye my hair, I never do an all-over job, because I'm not very good at maintenance, so any treatment that leaves me with the potential for different colored roots is NOT my friend. Instead of doing the all-over head thing, I tend to comb new color through in streaks, starting at random points a few inches from the root, so while I never end up with a shocking new hair color, I also never have visible roots, so it all works out.

Well, after ten days of being washed with baking soda, which is moderately caustic, and rinsed with apple cider vinegar, which is moderately acidic, the little bit of shampoo I used finished the task of stripping out nearly all of the remaining color, which is why the water was black. It also got rid of the last of the vinegar smell, and left my hair feeling soft and shiny, and all-round excellent.

Days 12 to 18 haven't been as bad as the first days; my hair is completely scent-free, and is surprisingly voluminous, and appears to be developing a bit of a wave, which is really exciting. It no longer feels greasy and lank, but it's gotten kind of frizzy, which is a problem I've never, ever had before. Ever. While I'm enjoying the novelty of it, I can see that it's going to get annoying very quickly.

In short, I'm glad I didn't shave it all off, but honestly, I'm not sure that the gladness will last.

My hair is Becoming. I just hope it's Becoming something I won't want to set on fire.



No rest for the wicked

I recently cleaned my office out and rearranged all the furniture, so that the cats would have more access to the window, without having to knock paperwork off my desk to do so.

When I rearranged everything, I noticed that there was a kind of tunnel between the wall and the back of the boxes I had stacked in the closet. I don't know why, but I reached my hand back there, and was horrified to put my hand on a thick mat of cat hair.

After a bit of dry-heaving, (when I first reached back there, it felt a lot like I was touching a dead animal), I moved the boxes, got the vacuum and cleaned up the hair, then rearranged the closet so that I could put a cat bed down there; they can still hide out, but I'll be able to keep it a little less hairy. It's since been named The Cat Hole, because... well, because The Hotness and I like to name things.

Since Boobah's been so under the weather, he's been hanging out in the cat hole a lot lately, probably because he can prop his cone on the side of the bed and find a good sleeping position.

Unfortunately, it appears that this is no longer going to be a peaceful retreat for him; he went and laid down about half an hour ago, and when I returned to my office after making coffee and tidying up the kitchen, I found him laying on the bottom of a cat pile, with what I imagine to be a resigned look on his face.

Poor little conehead.



Skirt B Mock-Up

I'd better sleep lightly tonight, because if cats are vengeful creatures, Boobah and Dinger are probably going to make their move tonight. They'll need the cover of darkness, though; I'm fat, but I move pretty fast when I'm scared.

I made an appointment to bring everyone but Smooshy to the vet - Bonzo and Dinger need checkups, and Boobah has...well, he has ongoing tail and head problems.

When the time came, Bonzo managed to hide so completely that I ended up leaving without her, and just took Boobah and Dinger to the vet. Unfortunately, when I was trying to load them into their cat carrier, the door came off, and I was forced to improvise a cat carrier.

Nothing screams white trash like walking into a veterinary office with a laundry basket full of cats with their harnesses tied together with string. Luckily my vets and their assistants have wonderful senses of humor!

There were shots all around, vaccinations and whatnot, and we got some pain medication for Boobah - I hate to medicate my animals, but I'm not willing to leave them hurting just to save the skin on my hands. And arms. And neck. Bygones.

On the way home I stopped and picked up a couple of extra-special cat massaging combs, and gave Boobah the royal treatment when we got home - poor dude has been in his collar for a week, now. Hopefully the shot he got will clear up any problems, and give him a bit of relief.

Along with that, I managed to get a bit of sewing done. I did a lot of staring at this skirt over the weekend, so that I could figure out what to do to make a similar skirt of my own.

After much staring, I made a paper model. I do this with pretty much everything I make, because I'm pattern challenged. Stupid lines everywhere. Don't cut here, do cut here, try not to cut off your fingertips, ha ha, you cut yourself! Stupid patterns. Yeah, yeah, a poor craftsman blames his tools. I hear you. :)

Anyway, since I'm pattern challenged, I tend to be less intimidated by just sketching out what I think the pieces should look like. I just use regular notepaper, sketch my pieces in miniature, then tape them together to see how the pieces fit. Everything ends up Barbie-sized, but at least I can tell if I'm on the right track.

Sometimes, I take my mini-pattern pieces and cut them out of my test fabric, to see if they hang properly; I did this with these pieces, and if I had a Barbie, she'd have a cute little blue taffeta fit-and-flare skirt to wear. Unfortunately, my Barbie and Ken dolls had an accident when I was 12, shortly after my mom rented The Fly.

Somehow, Barbie ended up with Ken's head and left arm, and a right leg made of twigs, and Ken ended up with Barbie's left arm and right leg, and a head made out of cheese. Then my dog ate his head. And the steering wheel out of the Barbie Corvette. Which is okay, since neither Barbie nor Ken could work the pedals anymore.

Anyway, back to the skirt. Since it seemed like I WAS on the right track, I cut out my four pieces, and this is what I ended up with;

I did a bit of retouching for color, because in real life, the bottom of the skirt is the same brown you see in the photo, but the top of the skirt is a bright, screaming teal color, so it's a bit distracting.

The skirt definitely needs some crinoline, and maybe a little bit less fullness, but I'm comfortable with the general shape. Once I get the crinoline under it, I can tweak the fullness as necessary. Also, I cut the skirt too long on purpose; I wasn't sure how much room to leave for the crinoline, so I figured that if I left a lot of extra fabric, I'd be able to figure out my hem length once the underskirt is sorted out.

I put in an invisible zipper so that I could test the size of my darts - the ones on the front are fine, but one of the back darts is pretty crooked, which is why the fabric is pulling on the left side. Oopsie! Once I have that worked out, and the hem length worked out, I'll be able to mark everything up, take the pieces apart, and I'll have pattern pieces with which to cut my real dress fabric.

Then I'll be working on the corset top. At least I only need to do one of those, not two, since the corset will actually be the same regardless of the skirt design I go for.

Next time, I'll show you the mock-up for the ballgown skirt. It was 20 minutes well spent!

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My favorite commercial

I'm just a little bit in love with Mr. Bill. Also, his gym experiences and mine are remarkably similar!



Cat In A Box

Just figured I'd give you a quick update on the deaf kitten.

The name Dinger seems to be sticking, but he isn't very responsive to it, since, you know, he's deaf and all. Still, he's learned that when all the cats leap up and run to the kitchen at once, it means someone's opening a can of cat food - what else does he really need to know?

The Hotness and I went out and spent a stupid amount of time and money purchasing just the right cat toys, only to come home and find Dinger playing in a discarded box.

I bought a bunch of belting supplies at a garage sale on the weekend, and immediately emptied my new treasures into the drawer I keep belting supplies in, and tossed the box in my craft room garbage can. I guess Dinger fished it out and dragged it into the hallway, because when I got home from work yesterday, this is where I found him sleeping;


My No 'Poo Experiment

A couple of months ago, I started hearing and reading about no-poo adherents; people who don't use shampoo to wash their hair. I'm not sure where exactly I started seeing this (someone's blog, I'm sure), but I've decided to see if no 'poo will work for me.

I've always had long, straight, hair, fairly fine, but lots of it, and I've never been much for primping, so most of the time, I have it back in a ponytail and up in a clip. This is because when I wear my hair down, I look like I've got a bad case of helmet head - my hair just clings to my scalp and lays there, clean and shiny and limp.

I've used cheap shampoo and expensive shampoo, and I've got to tell you, I've never noticed enough of a difference in my own hair to make ANY shampoo worth $26.00 for a 16 oz bottle.

What I'm wondering, though, is if ditching shampoo altogether might give me different results.

For now, I'm mixing about two teaspoons of baking soda with just enough water to make a paste, enthusiastically rubbing it into my head (scalp only), and then letting it sit for a slow count of thirty. A good rinse to remove the baking soda, and then I pour a mixture of 3 parts apple cider vinegar, seven parts water over my hair, everywhere but the scalp, wait about a minute, then rinse.

I started last week, and I had a bit of a rough start - the first time, I rinsed with straight apple cider vinegar, which did NOT rinse out well. It worked very effectively as a cat-repellent, though, so I may just do it again when I need a good night's sleep. So far, I'm really surprised that the vinegar rinse works as well as it does to detangle my hair. REALLY surprised, since my hair tangles fairly easily, and is normally kind of a pain to work with.

The first little while is supposed to have a pretty high "ick" factor, and yes, my hair is very icky right now, after one week. It's heavy and limp, and feels like greasy straw. It also smells vaguely like salad dressing (my last rinse was still 50% vinegar, 50% water - my mistake), which is making me hungry.

On the other hand, it looks very shiny and very thick, and has a very slight wave to it. A lot of people claim that their normally straight hair regains a natural wave after a while on no 'poo, which would be pretty exciting for me, personally, since I've never actually HAD wavy hair.

Apparently there are a couple of ways to do it; one is to stop shampooing, cold turkey, which is what I've done. Since your scalp is used to having to produce a LOT of oil to keep up with the speed at which you strip it out with shampoo, when you cut out the shampoo, your scalp just goes along, merrily producing excess oil for awhile, until it realizes the extra isn't needed.

The other, and probably more sensible route, is to start by watering down your shampoo a bit each time you wash, until what's left in your shampoo bottle is pretty much nothing but water. It takes more time, but it seems to me that your scalp would handle the change a little better if it were a gradual change.

Since I went with the hard way, I'm going to stick with it and see how it goes. If it works, I'll post before and after pictures. If it doesn't, I'll let you know!



September Resolution: FAIL

About two weeks ago, I made a September resolution to keep my house clean enough that unexpected guests could swing by any time, and I wouldn't have to resort to a frenzy of shoving dirty dishes in the oven and discarded clothing behind the sofa last-minute cleaning, or else allow them to go home wondering why there was a bra-strap hanging out of the drawer in the sofa table.

Week one went very well. Week two was a little less than perfect, but not horrible. Week three is going to be a disaster, even though it's only Tuesday.

I blame it on sewing. And cats. And everything but my own laziness. I've been in my sewing room since this weekend, so while the laundry remains caught up (only because the washer and dryer are RIGHT THERE, and I needed to pre-wash some fabric anyway), the rest of the house looks...kinda shabby. I'd take pictures to show you, but if The Hotness were to ever find my blog and see that I've posted pictures of my mess, he might actually give me an old-fashioned shunning.

Since I didn't get any housekeeping done, (other than the dishes, which I did a very half-assed job of) I completed the first draft for both Big Dress skirts last night, just by pinning them to Clarice and adjusting, re-adjusting, and re-pinning. Tonight I'll sew them together and try them on - pictures to follow.


Muslin frenzy

Now that I'm back on track, I feel almost a frenzy to get a couple of muslins turned out, to try them on.

In an effort to locate all my materials, I came across some fabric I didn't remember I had - does that ever happen to you? I have my stash pretty neatly organized, but all my taffeta is on it's original bolts, and all together on one shelf. I'd forgotten, however, that two of my seven colors weren't on bolts at all, but just folded bolt-width and tucked up there. When I pulled it down, wedged between the purple/gold and the red/black, I found...can you believe it... silver/gold.
Honestly, I have no recollection of buying this fabric at all; if I was one bit crazier, I'd think that fairies brought it to me. After all my hemming and hawing over color, NOW I find the fabric of my dreams, in my own stash!

Well, except that it's too small a piece; only 4 metres (4.4yds) of 60" fabric; it's just big enough for the fit-and-flare dress. Oh well, another project, maybe.

In other news, I actually HAVE a skirt pattern to match the ballgown skirt; it's this vintage Butterick pattern, B8017 with the same inverted pleats; I don't have the whole pattern scanned in, but this has been featured as one of my sidebar ladies, the images along the left side of my blog.

The placement of the pleats is a little off, but I think I like the idea of having a centre pleat, instead of the flat centre in the sample dress; it would give me a chance to tuck a bit of embroidery or something in that pleat, for interest.

Alternatively, the pattern will at least give me pattern pieces in the right shape, to start with; I can always tweak the pleat location once I've cut out the pieces.

And last but not least, I have a similar pattern for the fit-and-flare dress; it's Vogue 8828. I picked up this pattern in April or so, because I loved that silhouette even then, but really, this pattern isn't quite right. Again, I like the corset top, but the flare on this dress starts at about knee length, which is too mermaid-y for me; I prefer the flare to start around the upper thigh, instead.

At any rate, again, at least I have an idea how the pattern pieces should look; I made a few attempts yesterday, and while I ended up with the right general shape, the pattern pieces were small and pieced together to make the flare, rather than having the dramatic, seamless look that I was hoping for. Plus it was too short. And done in a green striped polyester fabric that I'm afraid to take pictures of, for fear that the memory card in my camera will melt in protest at the ugliness it's forced to witness. Still, I hope to knock off another try tonight; when I do, I'll take pictures!

Have a great day, y'all!


Back On Track (I think)


Yesterday, I went and tried on a couple more wedding dresses. With the idea that I wasn't going to just randomly try stuff on, I tried on two silhouettes I'd previously thought were my favorites, decided I wasn't really much of a fan, and left.

This doesn't sound like a successful outing, but in fact, it was exactly what I needed.

Since the beginning, I've had this dress stuck in my head;
Specifically, I LOVE the color, I liked the pickups in the skirt, and the fact that it's got a corset top. I don't like the bodice shown in the picture, but basically, this is the overall look I've had in my head.

Lately, I've been getting more of this vibe;
I like that the more simple skirt, but dislike the crossed/ruched bust detail.

I had originally looked at a couple of halter patterns, specifically these ones;
I still love them from the bustline down, but the simple fact is that halter style dresses aren't flattering on me.

Again, part of my choice rests with what color I decide to go with, and also whether I've made up my mind about lace or no lace.

I've finally settled on gold. Just gold. All gold, all the time. Because as Marjie said, I've written about it over and over; why am I second-guessing myself?

Plans for the Small Dress are complete. It will be beaded lace over a gold stretch satin, and will be the same dress you've already seen, although I will likely either add sleeves, or make a small lace shrug to go over top.

The Big Dress will be one of two silhouettes.

It will either be shaped like this;

(Image from Google Images)
or like this:

(Image from Google Images)

Whichever silhouette I land on, I think I might have the fabric for the dress in my stash already!

The first dress, the ball gown, might be made with two layers of fabric; an ivory crinkle burnout chiffon over a light, shimmery gold chiffon. The top picture is a little dark; the bottom picture shows the two fabrics layered, and is pretty much what I see in real life.

For the second dress, the fit-and-flare, I'm not sure whether this same fabric would work. If not, I still have about 12 yards of off-white crinkle taffeta. I'm going to cut a few swatches and attempt to tea-stain it into a dark ivory color. If that doesn't work, I'll just use it as it is, and bead the heck out of it until it turns gold. :)

Either way, at least I'm only making two muslins now, not ten. I've come a long way in two days. Thank goodness. And thank YOU, for your comments!



Big Dress Avoidance Rant

I've been working on the muslin for The Big Dress, and honestly, I feel like I'm just spinning my wheels.

I've draped and re-draped the bodice, but no matter what I do, I can't shake the feeling that it's too soon to be making a muslin. This probably explains why I posted about the tragic love affair between my dress dummy and my vacuum cleaner - I am slowly going crazy.

As I work on the muslin, the clear picture I have in my head (of the dress I thought I wanted) keeps changing, and it's driving me mad. It's not that I've forgotten what it looks like, it's just that the picture keeps changing, now, and nothing is sticking, so every time I try to adapt my muslin to the picture, by the time I'm finished, it no longer matches the new picture in my mind.

I have a number of photos I've been using for inspiration, ones that I've gotten from bridal shows, magazines, and websites, and honestly, the dresses I LOVE are all so different that I'm completely stuck. I've been to bridal salons and tried on a number of styles, and while I'm not egotistical enough to say that they all look fabulous on me, they at least, for the most part, all look just fine.

I've tried on about 60 dresses over the past two years (we've been engaged since August 2006), but I've never had that "this is the one" feeling, because it's always been in my heart to make my own dress.

The closest I've come to that feeling was when I tried on the muslin for The Small Dress. That muslin is NOT finished to a high standard (or barely any standard), but it IS the overall correct look and feel; it's simple and comfortable, but with the correct fabric, and the judicious use of sparkly beads, it will become something a little more formal. Admittedly, the picture in that post does make me look like a bit of a bridge troll, but that's due more to the fact that I'm the least photogenic human being on earth than to any failing of the dress itself.

Anyway, I've been watching a lot of Say Yes To The Dress on TLC, reading my nine thousand bridal magazines, and looking at an endless number of dresses online, but while I'm sure it's hurting my ability to make a firm decision, I honestly don't think that quitting is an option at this point.

I think the biggest thing thats hurting me that I can't decide on a color.

I prefer silver over gold, but gold looks better on me. I love dresses in non-traditional colors like red and blue, but I find that if you're not really careful, you end up looking less like a bride and more like a prom queen, which is not a BAD thing, but it's not what I personally want from my Big Dress.

The groomsmen are going to be wearing vests like this one, which is a hunting camo pattern, but there's no way on earth I'm wearing a blaze orange dress, or a camo wedding dress.

Because...yikes. A slender girl could pull it off, but a woman my size would look like the most comfortable sofa in the hunting lodge.

I do have a rather large amount of chocolate brown taffeta with a slight gold sheen to it, which would work perfectly, if I can talk myself into a brown wedding dress. But in ALL of the pictures in my head, my dress is a light color; gold, silver, light bronze, (are you noticing the metallic theme, here?) or taupe, but never navy or brown or red.

The only firm decision I've made is that I won't wear a white or cream dress, partly because white makes me look really washed-out, and partly because I am that kid in the Tide commercial who just can't keep her clothes clean. I'm the Pigpen of the white clothing world. And, of course, pink is out.

I don't know what to do. I already asked if we could elope, and got the big N O. The Hotness is all "Buy a dress, I don't care what it costs" but the idea of making my own dress was never about saving money, so that's not the answer.

At this point, I'm tempted to make ten dresses, and then just pick the one I like best on my wedding day. *sigh* Or maybe I'll just join Mrs. G's Woman's Colony and leave The Hotness to tend the cats and pine for me.

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I bought something yesterday, just because it was that certain shade of green that says "old stuff". I have no idea why I do this. I suppose that, if I MUST have a stupid habit, at least it's not smoking, or crack, or both.

I didn't know what it was when I bought it, and when I googled it, I couldn't figure it out, either.

Anyone out there know what this is?



Stupid Dummy

My dress dummy, Clarice, is being a jerk.

I know exactly what's wrong with her, but frankly, I don't care.

It's not appropriate for ME to bring MY personal problems to work, so honestly, I don't understand why it's okay for her.

I know it can be hard to break up with someone, but everyone could see that the vacuum cleaner was just using her for...well... you know. What do all vacuum cleaners want, you know??!! I mean, really, what more can you expect! He sucks up cat dander for a living. He's not exactly the Prince of Wales. Or Colin Firth, who is much hotter than the Prince of Wales.

And anyway, the point is, he's gone now. Gone to be with the cat tree in the living room.

I know, I know. It's hard, knowing that he's just out there, living his life with someone else, but what are you going to do, lay around doing nothing all day? You need to sort yourself out, get over him. I've seen the way the shelf looks at you, like it can see right through your cover and into your plastic innards. That has to make you feel good, even if the shelf isn't quite your type. All I ask is that you don't toy with him.

What's that? You've got a tough life? Yes, yes, anyone can reel off the litany of problems in your life, Clarice.

You're fat. Hey, so am I! You should be glad that at least you've still got a waist, like I am!

You're headless. Well, that does kind of suck, but it's not like you ever had a head before, so that can hardly be an issue now. And no, your lack of a head is NOT what made the vacuum cleaner break up with you, because, hello? The cat tree has no head, either.

You have no arms. Again, suckfest. I get it. But again, the cat tree is in the same boat. And so is that guy from the One video. The point is, we all have to work with the gifts we are given. You have the skinniest leg I have EVER seen! And it's adjustable! How cool is that?! If you want to be tall, you get to be tall. If you want to try short on for size, well, no problem! Although, Clarice, honey, to be honest, short isn't a good look for you. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.

Life is about making lemonade out of lemons, and that kind of crap. Not that you'd want to make lemonade out of crap, because then it wouldn't be lemonade, it would be crapade, and who would drink it. You get my point, though. Make the best of what you've got! See the positive!

Just because you FEEL like your life is over doesn't mean it IS over.

Suck it up, Clarice.

Pull up your right boob, and for crying out loud, tuck that sock back up your backside - I need it to make the back of my dress hang right!

When you're miserable, I'm miserable. I'm making my WEDDING DRESS MUSLIN, here, I can't afford to be miserable. Chip in and do YOUR part, why don't you!


If you HAD arms, I would make you do the ironing, so really, your lack of limbs is kind of a plus for you.


I want my green shirt back.

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A Personal Cake Wreck

Okay, so it's either really sweet, or really creepy, but The Hotness and I don't exchange purchased greeting cards. You know, birthday cards, valentine's day, etc.

Instead, we exchange handmade cards, which are ostensibly made by the cats. Paw-made cards, as it were.

You may gag on the sweetness now.

Are you finished yet? Good.

So anyway, this started after we'd been together for just over a year. The Hotness is an incredibly hard worker, and though he makes a concerted effort to be home for special days, sometimes his work doesn't leave him enough time to shop.

Plus, when we first got together, we decided to exchange one piece of information about our ex that drove us mad. He said that if we made it to the point where marriage was an option, I was not, under any circumstances, allowed to take my engagement ring back to the store and exchange it for something else without at least warning him. I told him that I wasn't really a fan of purchased cards, and that honestly, I'd be perfectly comfortable with a hug instead. You see, my ex, for every single occasion, be it birthday, Christmas, whatever, would take me to Wal-Mart, stand me in the greeting card aisle, pick out a card, hand it to me, and say "There's your card. Read it and let's get out of here."

I'll pause for your laughter.

So anyway, as you might imagine, I developed a slight dislike for greeting cards.

For the first few special occasions, The Hotness gave me a purchased card, and I liked them, because I know he spent time actually picking them out - his family is VERY big into greeting cards for every occasion.

Then, he had to work on Mother's Day, and since I have no actual children, I didn't think anything of it. But that night, about a half hour after he got home, he presented me with the ugliest, most awesome card I've ever gotten, badly misspelled and partly shredded, but with pictures "drawn" by the "cats". I love using "air quotes" but it doesn't have the same effect on my blog as in person, where I get to use my fingers. Anyway, I LOVED that card, and still have it packed away.

Then, for my birthday that year, I got another handmade card, also "made" by the "cats", but also including a fairly fresh hairball. So fresh that it was still wet when it was placed in the card, and I had to pry the card open. I laughed for three days. What the hell, I'm STILL laughing!

From that point forward, all we ever exchanged were handmade cards, signed by whatever animals we have on hand. I give you exhibit A - pictures of my birthday card from back in August.

Normally, he's just plain better at this than I am.

Last May, however, I made an extra effort, and gave him a cake "decorated" by the "cats". Please picture the air quotes in your head.

He's a huge Minnesota Vikings fan, so I went online and found this picture of their helmet.

With this picture I made this;

Are you ready for it?

Keep scrolling - I want it to be a surprise!

One more little scroll! And don't forget, you can click on it to see it in all it's 1000px glory!


He was so happy and proud of me, he nearly cried.

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Crooked Legs

My mom and her boyfriend decided to get one last motorcycle ride in before the snow flies, so they took their last week of holidays to go camping and fishing, and stopped by to visit for a couple of nights here.

My mom is awesome. Of course, she's my mom, so I have to say that, but really, she IS pretty great. She's really go-with-the-flow, and very non-judgmental, which is good, because it means she eats my cooking without complaint, and doesn't care if I NEVER dust under the TV.

My mom blames herself for the fact that I'm clumsy, though she herself is incredibly graceful, and up until a few years ago, was winning dance competitions all over western Canada and the US.

When I told her about falling off my deck, and showed her my still-swollen ankle (yes, three months later, it's still swollen and painful, but that's another story) she sighed heavily and shook her head.

Mom: "It's all my fault."

Me: "Wha...?"

Mom: "Me and your dad. We should have broken your legs when we had a chance."

Me: "WHA...?"

Mom: "I just couldn't do it to you - you were so little. And cute."

Me: "What. Are. You. Talking. About?!"

Mom: (nonchalantly) "Oh, you were born with crooked legs."

Me: "Crooked...legs?"

Mom: "Oh yes, REALLY crooked. The doctors wanted to break them and splint them right after you were born, but your dad and I just couldn't do it to you."

Me: "Crooked? How crooked?"

Mom: "Oh, like this, kind of." (she draws a sketch on the table with her finger that resembles frogs legs - in at the knees, out at the feet) "But you were so little - we just couldn't do it." "But I guess if we had, you probably wouldn't have fallen off your deck."

Me: "Or out of the back of the truck. Or off the dance floor. Or at 7-11. Or at prom. Or in the parking lot. Or off the swing set. Or..."

"Mom: "Yes, yes. See, it's all my fault! And your dads!"

Now I have an official excuse for being a klutz! It's my mom's fault! I wonder if that will cover me for sewing through my fingernail this weekend. Maybe my arms are crooked, too!

In any case, I'll leave you with this:
Simplicity 1447, size 18, bust 36. I LOVE this dress.

I couldn't wear it, of course, because my legs are crooked, so I'll end up selling it, but what I really love is this cover art.

The lady in the blue dress is obviously the clear winner of a fairly scathing verbal exchange between herself and the lady in red. But nobody who wears a red dress is going to take the humiliation kindly. Her little red clutch purse contains a tiny vial of something that mixes very well with a vodka martini, and her next words will be "I'm sorry, you're right. May I get you a drink?"

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This is probably going to be the first and last post I make from my brand new BlackBerry pearl. Holy cow, texting takes forever on this thing!

Anyway, as I was getting ready to leave the house this morning, I went to throw the load of laundry into the dryer, I noticed a strange lump in the pocket of the pants I washed last night. Turned out to be my old Motorola Razer.

I guess that's why you're supposed to check the pockets first.

Oh well, I needed a new phone anyway.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device


Window Seat

Well, I'm a little hesitant to show pictures of this, since it's hardly a triumph of skill, but at least it's finished!

As you can see, this is the cushion for the new window seat for the cats.

It's not lumpy because my sewing skills suck, but because I made and used covered buttons to tuft it. The ties for the buttons actually extend right through to the bottom of the cushion, and are used to tie the cushion to the stainless steel wire shelf below it. So really, my tufting skills suck. Plus, in my defense, I was trying to tie it while three cats were climbing my back to get onto it.

I had a hard time getting this picture cat-free. Within ten seconds of me putting it up, Smooshy was on it, making this face;

I don't know if that's a grin, or a promise to carve out my liver while I sleep, but either way, it doesn't photograph well.

Thirty seconds later, it looked like this;

And shortly after that, it looked like this.

As you can see, it's made with the Peony Garden fabric I am so crazy about, and it still makes me happy every time I look at it. I'm not sure how I'll feel about it once it's covered with cat hair, but I guess we'll see. The fabric is essentially a washable cover - when the thing needs some attention, I just untie the ribbon ties underneath, slide off the covered buttons, and then remove the fabric like a pillowcase. Yay!

Oh yeah, and a gratuitous kitten shot;

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Bad Car Day

A lady I work with, Jessie, got a new car about a month ago, and since then, every time we go for lunch, she drives.

The reason for this is twofold; one, she's in love with her car (I can't blame her) and two, I am a horrible, horrible, garbage magnet. Or rather, my car is. I personally am not a garbage magnet, because that would be gross.

I drive an old Cavalier Z24. I like to make sure I always add in the "Z24" because it makes the car sound really fast and stylish, when in reality, it's just a '94 Cavalier with a lame little spoiler attached to the trunk.

Anyway, questions of speed and coolness aside, I can't seem to keep the thing clear of junk - I'm not sure how it happens, but I've cleaned it out four times so far this summer, and it's STILL crammed with gas receipts and coffee cups, though I religiously throw them away every time I get a new coffee.

Yesterday I finally did some basic cleaning, just enough to clear some room on the front seat. And this afternoon at lunch, I insisted on either giving Jessie gas money, or taking over half of the driving duty, because it doesn't seem fair to always be booting around town in HER car. After a brief argument, which I might have ended by threatening to sing "I'm Henry The Eighth I Am" at the top of my lungs for the rest of the afternoon, and demonstrating a couple of verses in the parking lot, she finally got into my car and we took off for lunch.

I should add; nobody ever rides in my car. The Hotness has a company pickup truck that we use for the odd trip to town, and we have his old pickup truck for everything else, but my car is usually too messy to ride in. And it's not cool enough for The Hotness to be seen in. But mostly, it's just the mess. Essentially, this constant lack of witnesses allows CrazyRachelle to behave quite poorly towards other drivers.

Anyway, Jessie and I are driving along, planning a strategic hit on the buffet, when some lady with big hair pulls into the busy street, right out in front of me, slams on her brakes, then pulls out a map. A MAP! IN THE MIDDLE OF A BUSY STREET!

CrazyRachelle surfaced instantly. Without thought, I slammed on the brakes, screamed "WHAT ARE YOU DOING, JACKASS?" out my open window, and laid on the horn.

Almost immediately, I realized that I wasn't alone in the car, and I looked over at Jessie, to see if her head had exploded. To my utter amazement, she's sitting there looking at her fingernails, wondering if she should change her polish color, completely unfazed by our near-but-not-really-near death experience. I'm all "OMG, I'm so sorry!" and she's all "WTF are you talking about?" and "Who cares?"

CrazyRachelle has finally found a wingman!

Unfortunately, it appears that CrazyRachelle might be going off the road for awhile; I went to a few garage sales on my way home this afternoon, and after the last one, I started to smell something strange coming from the vents. Kind of an...electrical smell. I turned onto the road that leads to the highway, and suddenly there were great clouds of greasy blue smoke billowing out of the vents, smelling vaguely like burned dog-crap (yes, I know what that smells like - another post, I'll tell you about it.)

Apparently, the sewing I planned to do this weekend has been replaced by dismantling my dash and seeing if I can find the cause of the smoke.

I wonder if I didn't subconsciously mess with my car so that I could engage in more Big Dress Avoidance, a term I learned from Brooke, who is also making herself two wedding dresses.

Oh well, at least it's leftovers tonight, so I don't have to cook dinner, and can run to my sewing room right now and finish the window seat for the cats. Now that IS Big Dress Avoidance at its best.

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I made a September Resolution

I suck at making resolutions.

In fact, I don't think I've made any since 1996, the year I decided to be less of an introvert, and ended up tipsy in my buddy's back yard, cutting down his trees with his equally tipsy wife. Oh, we had a TON of fun, but my buddy wasn't exactly thrilled that we'd been at his power tools while partway through our third bottle of wine. In any case, I fulfilled my resolution, but not necessarily in the right way, so I stopped making them.

However, since more than a decade has gone by, I feel like maybe it's time to try again.

My September resolution is to keep my house clean enough that if people were to suddenly stop by, they would not sit silently in my living room and judge me. At least, not my housekeeping.

My personal theory of housekeeping is this; if it doesn't stink, and it's clean underneath, it doesn't matter what's on top. Which is to say, I love to kill germs, and I clean under my fridge and stove religiously, but hey, if dishes sit in the sink, whatever! Clothes all over the floor - whatever! General untidiness - no smell, no tell!

It drives The Hotness mad, because he's a kind of neat freak - I say "a kind of neat freak" on purpose - his idea of clean is exactly the reverse of mine - as long as it LOOKS tidy, it must be clean, which means that surface clean is all that matters. (insert shudder of horror here. O! the bacteria!).

Still, we've managed to find a more or less happy medium, in which I spend more time keeping the kitchen counters clear, and he ignores the dishes in the sink.

Honestly, though, since I started to work from home more, I've become more aware of how annoying my general clutter is. So I've decided to fulfill The Hotness' greatest wish, which is to have a house that looks as clean as it smells, at all times.

For the month of September, at least. I make no promises about October.

As part of my cleanup, I decided to work my way across the house, from my office and sewing room, all the way to our bedroom on the other side of the house. The basement belongs to The Hotness - it's the Man Zone, so if he wants it clean, he has to do it himself, other than cat litter, which makes him gag and complain loudly about how hard he works all day long, just to have to come home to clean cat litter. He's lucky he's got a nice tush.

The sewing room was almost done, but now the office is as clean as it's going to get, and I've made myself yet another cat-related project. I can't help but think I'm trying to evade doing the muslin for The Big Dress.

Anyway, half of my desk used to sit directly under the massive window in my office. The window overlooks The Hotness' bird tree, which makes all the cats salivate. Here's a shot of about half of The Hotness' bird friends, taken this past winter. The other half is a bunch of yellow and orange finches, which apparently don't like to eat at the same time as these sparrows.

In any case, as you can imagine, a window that looks directly onto such a scene ends up being quite the cat-magnet.

So, when I moved my office around, I moved my desk away from the window, and put a shelf underneath it. It's a stainless steel wire affair, and not very comfortable for kitty feet, so I'm going to make a cushion for it. As you can see, the towel isn't really doing the trick. And it's ugly.

Off to my sewing room!

P.S. If you can't put your finger on exactly what's different on my blog today, I changed the image of the woman on the bottom left of the page. It used to be a line drawing of a lady in a blue dress with red flowers, and it's now the envelope art from a vintage pattern in my collection, B8017. I love changin' stuff!



I Heart LA & TX

I'm not the praying kind. I support others who find solace or hope in prayer, but my own relationship with God is a little more loosey-goosey. That said, I prayed my ass off this weekend, as I watched Gustav roll in, and then roll by. I'm a landlocked Canadian, but my heart was in NO these past few days.

I'd meant to spend the weekend updating my Etsy store, working on the muslin for The Big Dress, and generally goofing off. As it turned out, I did a lot of goofing off, but not the sewing related kind.

The Hotness took his first weekend off since March. I'm not kidding; with the exception of a quick camping trip with his family back at the beginning of July, The Hotness hasn't taken a single day completely off since March. To celebrate his at-home-ness (yeah, I made it up, but Erin from A Dress A Day said it's okay) we rented some games and movies, and just hung out.

Except secretly, while we were hanging out, I was making surreptitious trips to my computer to see if there were any updates on Gustav.

My interest is kind of personal. See, back in June of 1995, an opportunity arose for me to buy a ridiculously cheap plane ticket from Edmonton, Alberta to Houston, TX. Without giving it a great deal of thought, I simply bought the tickets, and hoped I'd be able to get the time off work.

At the time, I was in the military, and I had some extra leave time accumulated. I calculated that if I didn't take any more, I'd have just enough so that I could take a good portion of December off. By the time December finally rolled around, I had a freshly-broken heart and only a vague idea of what I would do during my trip.

I drove down the Gulf coast to Brownsville, via Corpus Christie and Kingsville NAS. I was raised on the Pacific coast, so I was used to sea air and lush greenery in the middle of winter, but I was unprepared for the difference in the quality of the sunlight, which made the crops look greener, and the water, bluer.

After a day in Brownsville, I swung up to Laredo, then over to San Antonio, and I have to tell you, in all the days I spent in Texas, I didn't encounter a single unfriendly face. Plus, I ate like it was going out of style; Texas beef, BBQ, seafood, Tex-Mex, you name it, I ate it.

Originally, I'd planned on spending the entire time in Texas, but partway through the trip, I heard the song "Calling Baton Rouge" while eating dinner in some mom and pop restaurant, and decided to go check it out, and maybe hit New Orleans.

I left early the next morning, spent a couple of hours wandering around Baton Rouge, then hopped in the car and headed to NO. By the time I hit that little stretch of I10 that runs along the edge of the Ponchartrain, I was fizzing with excitement.

I've never met a more friendly group of people than those who helped me try to break into my rental car in the Shoney's parking lot that first night. No word of a lie, about 20 people gathered around my car, cheering me on, offering to give the coat hanger a tug for me. Including two NOPD officers who were called in because of the large crowd, and ended up also being unable to break into that infernal car.

In the end, a group of six young folks (my age at the time, I guess, early 20's)came outside and cheerily insisted that I eat dinner with them while one of the girls called her sister, who happened to be a locksmith. I explained that I couldn't eat dinner, because I'd locked my keys in the trunk with my purse. They laughed at me and led me inside, while the NOPD officers broke up the rest of the crowd and went on their way. That group of six fed me until I was ready to burst, and when the girl's sister finally arrived and freed my purse and keys, nobody would take a dime, or even to allow me to chip in for the massive dinner we'd consumed.

The next morning, I got up early and went straight to the French Quarter, where I ate beignets and drank strong, black coffee at the Cafe Du Monde, then, struck out to take pictures and see what I could see, and in three days, I managed to see an awful lot.

Then, it was back to Texas, with three pounds of fudge in my car from a place in the Riverwalk mall, which I intended to bring home to share with family, but which never even made it into the state of Texas before being consumed.

I came back from that trip tired, sick with the flu (and probably an overdose of fudge), and convinced that I'd see the Gulf Coast again, and soon. Somehow, though, I never made it back.

The long and short of it is, I fell in love with Texas and Louisiana, and I was incredibly upset when Katrina hit. Along with millions of others, I watched with horror as pictures of places I visited flashed on the screen, filled with churning waters.

It broke my heart to think of the group of six, and those NOPD officers who'd been so kind to me 10 years before, and all those wonderful Texans I'd met along the Gulf Coast.

I hope they made it through Katrina, and I'm very glad that Gustav treated New Orleans a little more gently.