Category Archives: blogging

Twerps. Twoids?

Snippets of information that WOULD be tweets if I could squeeze them into 140 characters. But I talk too much.

  • I smashed a large, lumbering, pesky fly last night. Whacked it a few times to make sure it was good and dead. Didn’t rush to dispose of it because 1. euw and 2. it wasn’t going anywhere. But 15 or 20 minutes later when I decided to do something about it, it was gone. I’m hoping that one of the housecats got it, but I don’t recall seeing either of them in the area. I’m waiting to be attacked by a giant and vengeful fly, hopefully in my sleep.
  • Mom brought over a DVD of Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas that she borrowed from the library, which reminded me of two things: 1. The library is a wonderful resource for obtaining books and music and movies FOR FREE and 2. I am not in the mood for watching a Christmas movie in August.
  • Yes, I was in Sacramento for Midnight Mass. Yes, I had a wonderful time. No, I didn’t take a single, solitary photo. Not even with my phone. My friend Rich posted some, though, so here’s a link for those. Nick took some pretty nice car photos, when he sobered up enough to figure out how to focus Rich’s fancy camera, and those are posted here. I’ll be heading back to Cali for a friend’s birthday at the end of the month, and I’m toying with the idea of heading out again in September for Billetproof.
  • After a few people put the idea in my head that I should consider going to school for hair cutting/styling, combined with the dismal print design jobs being advertised (or even whispered about), I decided to contact a local reputable-looking school. According to the enrollment gal who called me back, Colorado requires 1800 hours of combined training to get a cosmetology license, which works out to going back to school full-time (Mon-Fri from 8:30 to 5) for 11 straight months, or choosing the part-time option which is “only” 4 hours every weeknight except Friday, plus all day Saturday, for two years. We didn’t even get around to discussing the cost, beyond the application fee. I’m just not that serious about it, I guess, but that’s not a time commitment that I’m ready to make right now.
  • I’ve posted a few vintage patterns on my etsy store (more to come as I get the pattern pieces counted and envelopes scanned), and I woke up one morning thinking that one pattern, which was in my size, was just too pretty to let go. Of course, that was the one that had sold overnight. I did my best to make a hurried copy of the pattern before I shipped it out, but it’s not likely I’ll get to it in the near future. I have too many other unsewn patterns!
  • I have a basement full of stuff that I need to photograph and get listed in the shop. It takes an enormous amount of time; I’m sorry that I haven’t been better about it. If there’s a particular item that you’re waiting for me to list (I know there are a few of you waiting for specific dresses) then please harass me about it and I’ll get to those first.
  • My radish garden was a waste of soil this year, but my cherry tomatoes are doing well in their EarthBox. I’m also growing artichoke leaves (no actual blossoms yet) as well as Brussels sprouts and cauliflower in there. SOMETHING is chewing holes in the leaves of the cruiciferous plants, but I can’t find any bugs. Hopefully whatever it is leaves the actual veggies alone.

I need a nap. I’m cranky. I hope you all are doing well, please drop by and visit!

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Filed under blogging, friends, gardening, sewing, vacation

The Skirt

Finally, the skirt that I promised to blog about. This skirt is near and dear to me because it combines so many things that I like: Vintage illustration, thrifting, handcrafting, fashion, recycling, and BALL FRINGE.

You see, this skirt started life as a vintage kiddie curtain-and-valance set. Wonderful old Mother Goose illustrations, and, if I haven’t mentioned, BALL FRINGE. Oh man, do I ever love ball fringe. (Some day I will have a skirt that is tier upon tier of ball fringe, hopefully with a matching box-cut sleeveless top, but this is not that day.)

I saw the curtains in a thrift store, and immediately knew that I would make it into a skirt. Because I am some sort of thrift store goddess, I got the set for $2.48 (plus tax). Step Two would be finding a pattern to match what I was seeing in my head. A simple, high-waist pencil skirt. I went to JoAnn. Butterick had nothing. Simplicity had nothing. New Look, Burda, Vogue, McCall’s… nobody had what I was looking for. And my own drafting skills… well, they get me by for Halloween costumes, but this was going to require better than that. So I sat on it for a while, but I knew that I wanted to make this skirt to wear to the Hooch n’ Smooch event at Viva, and time was ticking away.

Enter: Another trip to the thrift store.

Thrift stores always have sewing patterns, and more often than not, they are a disorganized mess of the worst that fashion had to offer… in the ’80s. And that’s saying something. I usually give the pile a cursory glance, to see if there are any promising yellowing envelopes sticking out, and then I continue on my way. But this one day, at this one thrift store, the stash of patterns was small enough to consider flipping through each and every one. I wasn’t even looking with the skirt in mind, but rather just to see if anything seemed workable for any project. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly. Without merit. Ugly. And then… skirt! Here’s a skirt pattern, in my size! Three options, one of which is JUST what I am looking for! There were no prices marked, but I took a risk. At the counter, the cashier informed be that all sewing patterns are 49¢. Was I okay with that?

Glee!

Ahem, um, yes. That’s fine. Thank you.

I got it home, and cleaned off the dining room sewing table. I knew that the pattern would already be cut out, but hoped that if it was cut smaller than my size, I could at least estimate up to… holy chit. This pattern is untouched. Nobody has ever cut it, and as best as I can tell, nobody has ever even unfolded it. There’s still an advertisement in it for new, upcoming Spring (1987) patterns. LA LA LA LA LA!

I got busy with my seam ripper, opening up the curtain panel everywhere I had to, and nowhere that I didn’t. I laid out the pattern pieces so that I could salvage most of one of the original curtain seams, thus NOT having to cut the ball fringe in one place. I wound up using just about the entire curtain for the skirt, and a bit of the valance for the waistband. The waistband which turned out to be FAR easier than putting in the zipper, and shouldn’t have slowed me down to a procrastinating crawl. And then I was done! Well, except for the last hook-and eye… hook-and-eye… I have about 300 (okay, 48 and yes I did count) assorted hook-and-eye sets in my sewing basket, and none are the right size. Damn damn damn. A trip to JoAnn and back home, and now I have the hook-and-eye and WHERE the hell are my sewing needles? Oh, come ON. I am NOT going back to JoAnn AGAIN. And then I remembered the emergency sewing kit I kept in my desk at the office, and that my desk at the office was still packed into a box in the basement, and lo and behold, I have a needle.

The end result is a one-of-a-kind, semi-vintage skirt that cost me approximately $4 (curtain, zipper, hook-and-eye, thread) and is, like anything I sew for myself, only a little too big in the waist.

(They’re difficult to see, but the flowerpots full of smiling daisies are my favorite bits.)

ADDITION: Dur, I forgot to post the pattern!  It’s Butterick 4706, ca. 1986, and it looks like this:
dresspattern121

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Filed under blogging, cute and fuzzy bunny, fashion, sewing, vintage, Viva Las Vegas

Weekend Update

A blog post? On a weekend? No, Hell hath not frozen over. Although, by looking out the window on this April morning, you may not realize that. Yesterday was beautiful; sunny and warm, so today? Snow. Welcome to springtime along the Front Range.

If you follow me on Twitter (@ampersandwich) you know that I was sewing a skirt the other day, and even hinted at a blog post about it, but suddenly stopped talking about it. Here’s the deal: it’s coming out really well. Seriously. The first evening of sewing went off without a hitch. The initial fitting is just about perfect (as with anything I sew for myself, I could have cut it a little smaller). The only thing I have left to do is the waistband, which I’ve been putting off because I’ve never done a waistband before and I don’t want to screw up an otherwise excellent sewing project.

On the other hand; without the waistband, it’s unwearable. So there’s that.

Also, I desperately need to finish this skirt because not only will it be fodder for an interesting (I hope) blog post, but because it’s a planned outfit for Day One of my annual pilgrimmage to the Viva Las Vegas rockabilly weekender, and Day One is getting very, very close. So close, in fact, that while I certainly miss the income that comes from being employed, this is the last weekend before the big event and were I having to head to the office on Monday, I would be FREAKING OUT right now.

Which brings us to Viva Las Vegas. Vivaaaaaa Las Vegas. In past years, I have spent the month or so before the trip planning and plotting and packing with local friends. This year I’ve been on my own, although with the supportive buzz and hum of assorted online “friends” whom I expect to run into down there. I suppose I should be more assertive (eek!) about getting people’s phone numbers, so we can actually coordinate general times and locations. It can be difficult to find people in the sizable crowd even when you DO know what they look like in 3D. I was planning on spectating from the safety of The Boyfriend’s arm, but it turns out that he has a handful of friends who will be there, and he’ll want to spend some time with them. My last attempt to make friends with his friends didn’t go so well, so I think I’ll bypass this “opportunity” for now. (It wasn’t their fault. It’s just that, even when you explain social anxiety to folks, they think that once they say “hi” and the sky doesn’t fall down, that I’ll become a normal person. But it doesn’t work that way. This, apparently, leaves them feeling inadequate. Or something.) A couple of my own friends recently decided to go as well, but they’ve been keeping to themselves lately and I don’t want to interfere with whatever they’ve got going on. So I guess I’m back on my own again, for some events. As a result, if you’re down at The Orleans and see a ’billy girl hyperventilating quietly in the bathroom, that’s just me, freaking out about having to interact with other, live, human beings. Please move slowly, bring me something to drink, preferably liquor, and I’ll be okay. I have already put the schedule of bands I want to see into my iPhone, so if you can help me calm down enough to operate it, I’ll know where I need to be next.

As for now, I need to busy myself with finishing the skirt, creating three more hair flowers, researching spray tans so my pasty glow doesn’t blind people poolside, getting my hair color touched up (appt is on Wednesday; nothing like the last minute!), making a new necklace, and figuring out how to fit 8 dresses, 8 handbags, 8 pairs of shoes, plus all of my toiletries and whatnot, into ONE suitcase and ONE garment bag. If I have time left over, I’d like to sew my Standard Oil patch onto the back of my jacket (Suggested company motto: ‘Squishing a dwindling supply of dinosaurs for over 100 years’) and paint flames on the cuffs of a pair of jeans (although I’ve been saying I’m going to do that for a year).

Today’s agenda: Finish skirt. Glue flowers. Make trip to Walgreen’s to exchange the Almay Moisturizing Eye Makeup Remover pads for the less drippy Almay Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover Pads. Seriously, I think Almay took all of the oil they WOULD have used in the oil-free pads, and added it to the oil in the moisturizing pads. Dipping a cotton ball into straight mineral oil would be less oily. I went through two tissues before switching to a washcloth just trying to get the excess oil OFF of my eyes. I’m all for moisturizing the delicate eye area, but come on. Oh, and the gal who will be doing my hair on Wednesday asked if I could stop by her shop today so she could take a look at what she’ll be dealing with. And, um, post this. So, step one begins… now.

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Filed under blogging, fashion, friends, nostalgia, sewing, vacation, Viva Las Vegas

It Will Stand

Woody doesn’t read my blog. I know that he doesn’t read it because when he asked me what had happened to the pie I was going to make him, and I cut-and-pasted the blog excerpt of the pie that was born from the withering apples of “his” pie, he seemed pleased that I’d written about him. I explained to him that no, I hadn’t. I’d written about pie. Which then made him cyber-pouty.

Good friend that I am, I poke around for any mention of him on my blog, to cheer him up. And I find one, vague reference: I touch on a song I heard on “a friend’s” iTunes playlist in my tale of the WPLJ montage. I send him the link for the post, and passionate music nerd that he is, he doesn’t care about the lame allusion but needs to know WHAT song it was. We squabble for a while, because I’m sure it had been W.P.L.J. by either The Four Deuces or The Hoodoo Rhythm Devils and he is sure that those aren’t in his library. While we’re typing back and forth, I’m listening to the Carol Miller aircheck of the montage. 8:11 in, the song I heard at his place comes on for 4 seconds. He’s right, it’s not W.P.L.J. after all. But with only a snippet of song, and no real lyrics to speak of, I can’t look up what it is. He can’t play RealAudio files, so he can’t hear the snippet. “Well,” he asks, “what are the words?” Of course, he’s not going to be able to get it from that. But I type, “Rock, roll, rock, roll.” Two words, common to the genre, repeated once. No music to go by. No clues, other than it’s something, somewhere, in his library of +/-4,000 vintage tracks.

He immediately types back to me, “It Will Stand by The Showmen.” Okay, he’s taking a stab. This is his first guess. We’ll narrow it down, because I can say “No, the tempo is faster” or “The guy’s voice is lower” and stuff. I head to iTMS to play samples. Hmm… none of them are playing anything that sounds like the bit used in the montage. I broaden my search, and find the whole song on YouTube.

It was no guess. He knew exactly what song it was. Yup, it’s the brief intro to It Will Stand, by The Showmen. It’s short, it isn’t repeated anywhere in the song, and Woody managed to “Name That Tune” in no notes. I tip my hat to you, ’60s Music Geek. I still owe you a pie.

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Late to the meme party

TWO people sent me this meme, and I’m finally now getting around to it.

Two word answers:

1. Where is your cell phone? ………………. right here

2. Your significant other?…………………. not yet

3. Your hair? ……………………………. two-tone

4. Your mother? ………………………….. not far

5. Your father?…………………………… daddy’s girl

6. Your favorite thing?……………………. my friends

7. Your dream last night?………………….. missed it

8. Your favorite drink? …………………… vanilla Coke

9. Your dream/goal?……………………….. independent success

10. The room you’re in?……………………. terribly cluttered

11. Your favorite food?……………………. dairy products

12. Your fear?……………………………. heights/drowning

13. Where do you want to be in 6 years?……… reasonably happy

14. Where were you last night?……………… Berkeley nabe

15. What you’re not?………………………. social butterfly

16. Muffins?……………………………… toasted corn

17. One of your wish list items?……………. always shoes!

18. Where you grew up?…………………….. metro NYC

19. The last thing you did?………………… ordered presents

20. What are you wearing?………………….. skirt/sweater

21. Your TV?……………………………… background noise

22. Your pets?……………………………. friendly fuzzies

23. Your computer? ……………………….. always on

24. Your life?……………………………. moving forward

25. Your mood?……………………………. anxious ennui

26. Missing someone?………………………. hell yes

27. Your car?…………………………….. reliably zippy

28. What you’re about to do?……………….. watch TV

29. Favorite Store?……………………….. too many

30. Your summer?………………………….. too hot

31. Your job?…………………………….. self-employed

32. Your favorite color?…………………… persimmon/periwinkle

33. Last time you laughed………………….. last night

34. Last time you cried?…………………… this afternoon

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November’s Header

If you’re wondering, and you probably are, this month’s header is from a color slide taken at the 1959 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. My mom and I are big fans of the parade, and she actually got to march in it one year as a “balloonatic,” one of the handlers for the giant helium balloons. I still tear up a little every year when I watch the Rockettes perform for the grandstand.

The very last Horn & Hardart Automat closed in 1991, and I am so very sad that I never ate there.

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Filed under blogging, family, holidays, nostalgia, vintage

love

I haven’t written in a while. If you’re a regular reader, you’ve already noticed this. Not that my blog was ever “about” anything, but I’ve felt as though I have even less to add these days. I’m picking up the odd design job here and there, and busying myself with jewelry-making in between. I’ve been experimenting with new materials, since, outside of the pet tags, nothing seems particularly popular with the masses. And the dog tags? I don’t make a dime on them. Even if I kept the “profit” portion of their price for myself, it would be tough to live on $2 a month.

My usual flurry of Halloween activity was tempered this year. Halfway through my second costume, I just gave up. I didn’t care about it. I was relieved that I already had one finished, but to be completely honest, that one wouldn’t have come together without the dedicated assistance of Megan doing my hair at the last minute. (I did have a great time helping Megan and Joe decorate for their party, and while I know they think that I was doing them a favor, it is I who really appreciate spending all of those days with them.)

In August, I finally started sewing Butterick 4790. I bunged up my sewing machine, and spent hours/days trying to figure out how to affordably fix it. Finally, with some ingenuity (and a metal kebab skewer) I was able to clear out enough thread from the innards to start sewing again. My (single) costume dress was back on, and it came out rather well if I may say so myself (very forgiving material) but that Walk-Away dress is still unfinished. And will likely remain so. I love the chrysanthemum fabric I chose for the front panel, but I went too cheap on the wrap-around solid, and I just don’t want to work with it. Even if I liked the fabric, I am faced with stitching on 300 yards of bias tape. Ugh.

Yesterday, things were picking up. I successfully made myself a cup of tea, AND drank it before it got cold. I’ve been typing out, longhand, a 13-chapter story, one chapter at a time, for a friend, and I managed to find an entire chapter already online. Copy-and-paste! I finally got myself started with my Blue Book, so I could be an informed voter AND still vote early. The beads that I had ordered specifically for an exclusive bracelet design being sold at an online shop FINALLY came in. I swapped some good email with a potential client, and worked on a business card design for another. I cleaned up a section of the kitchen, which has become my cluttered food-prep-and-jewelry studio.

And then the tape came loose. Megan called. In and of itself, unusual. The middle of the afternoon only made it more so. It turns out that their oldest, tiniest, sweetest cat was sick. Very sick. Always plagued with respiratory issues, Wheezer’s breathing had been getting more labored. She had just taken him into the vet, and some cells had been swabbed for testing. He was scared, not feeling well, test results weren’t back yet, and Megan and her husband were supposed to be leaving for vacation on Friday morning. Assuring them that staying home wouldn’t help our dear fuzzy friend get any better, I agreed to stay with him in their home so he wouldn’t have to be kenneled while they were gone. I was nervous about the possibility of the prognosis being Not Good on my watch, but I love that little guy like my own and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him (and my friends). Besides, the vet have given three possible diagnoses, so statistically, things would probably be okay. I’d pick up some meds and take care of whatever needed caring.

A few hours later, Joe called, and the bottom fell out. He and Megan had gone back to the vet’s to pick up our little pal, but the vet had assessed the situation with more observation and test results, and my friends had a very difficult decision to make. It wasn’t so much a choice as it was a necessary kindness, but that doesn’t make the pain any easier to swallow.

Too soon, I am again left with a hole in my heart that aches for my friends’ loss, knowing that there isn’t a damn thing I can do. This time, that loss feels more personal, because of the relationship that little Wheezer had with everyone who ever walked into his house. Every person he ever met was his best friend, and possessed his most comfortable lap in which to sleep. His only emotion was contentment. I am consoled by the fact that his last weekend was spent in a houseful of hands ready and willing to pet him, an assortment of laps to test, and that so many people, though they didn’t know it, got a chance to say good-bye. I am glad that I stole a few minutes to laugh and play with him on Friday when I should have been setting up more décor, and glad that he slept at my feet, wheezing of course, when the party was all over.

Wheezer brought love with him wherever he went, and no matter how much he gave away, he always had more. His capacity for love was bigger than his physical size. It filled him, spilled out, and if you sat still long enough, it would fill you, too. I hope I can learn from him.

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