Friday, March 30, 2012

Vera Wang in the hizzouse

Yeah, so I'm pretty much a master tailor now, NBD.

*as I get up from the floor to which I fell from laughing so hard.*

But seriously, you guys!  I sewed!!  Like for reals!

Ok, so.  I've been breastfeeding for nearly a year now and it has been awesome.  It never fails to make me happy to see my baby's fat belly or her chunky thighs and know that my body did that.  It's validating to know that my body does know how to do things right after all, you know, since it's kind of a killing machine.

And I'm one of the lucky ones for whom breastfeeding makes you lose weight.  I've lost a crap-ton of weight and I'm waaaay under my pre-pregnancy weight.  I know, hate me now.

It's great and I love being skinny.  On a quick tangent, why is there so much hate for skinny people?  We praise people all day long for getting/being skinny - as long as you used to be a giant fatty.  But let you be naturally skinny and suddenly it's okay to write in your yearbook "I hope you eat food over the summer skeleton-girl."  Or "Oh, you're skinny now, just you wait until you hit 30/have a baby, you're gonna blow up."  It's mean and rude and it's a topic for another post because this one's about my sewing prowess.

Anyway, so breastfeeding gave me a case of The Skinnies, and nothing in my closet fit.  I looked like a bag lady and for six months I whined to Drew about how my life would be perfect if only I had a pair of jeans that fit.  Finally he took mercy on me and gave me money! To go shopping!  For my birthday!  Best birthday present ever!!

These used to be tight skinny jeans.  I bought them in October last year.
 Loose and tragic

I marched my happy non-ass to Nordstrom because I had a gift card and went straight for the denim, looking for some jeans that would give me an ass because when I lost weight, I also lost my ass and it's a sad and tragic thing.

They were so helpful and sweet and I got two pair of awesome jeans that fit, were immediately comfortable and the pockets made me look like there was a little junk in the trunk!  Okay fine, not full-out junk.  Maybe just a couple of pieces of trash.  Really, just some misplaced items.
I also got a pair of bootcut jeans that were too long.
Incidentally, it is really really hard to take a picture of yourself in 
dark jeans in the middle of the night.
I took nearly fifty pictures of myself and this was the best I could do, but you get the idea.

As is my MO, the jeans sat in my closet for almost three weeks because I was afraid to sew them and mess them up.  I could have taken them to the tailor's, but I sewed a pair of jeans before.  Of course, they were Ebay fakes and not super fabulous, super expensive birthday jeans.  But, a commenter on that post directed me to her post on hemming jeans and it stuck with me.

So I went to Jo-Ann's, bought a $3 pack of denim needles and chanted to myself, "If I don't cut them, I can take them to the tailor."
I set up shop in the breakfast nook with the tutorial handy 
and my little helper for moral support.

The tutorial said it would take about fifteen minutes.  This is if you know how to sew - it took me about three hours, no lie.  I went sooo slow, praying to Jesus that I wasn't screwing up my jeans.
This is a zipper foot.  It took me nearly twenty minutes to figure out to get the other
one off the machine and put this one on.  PS, why does it say 'I?' Shouldn't it say 
'Z' for Zipper?
I pinned THE CRAP out of my jeans because I was terrified of an uneven hem and 
I need all the help I can get to sew a straight line.

Changing the needle and the foot on the machine took forever.  Measuring the jeans took Forever because I kept taking them on and off and measuring over and over again to make perfectly sure they were the right length.  Pinning took FOREVER.  The actual sewing part took the least amount of time because it was a straight stitch all the way around.

One leg done and it's the perfect length!!

Then came the hard part:  Doing the exact same thing to the other leg.  I just KNEW I was going to end up with one leg longer/shorter than the other one.  I obsessively measured and measured and measured again to make sure they were the same length and pinned the crap out of the other leg and prayed for the best.
I did it!!!
The blurry pictures are giving me a headache too, but this is the best I've got.
You come here for the writing anyway, right?  Right?
They even look good from the back!
My very first hemming job!
These are a pair that I had hemmed at the tailor - done the exact same way!
The pair from the tailor
Mine, before I basted the cuff.  Totally the same!

I wore my jeans to a birthday party Saturday night and I was holding up my leg, telling everyone that I had hemmed my jeans myself!  I was so proud when I put them on and they looked good that I was like, "ZOMG! Sofia!  I'm going to sew your prom dress!"  To which Drew dryly replied, "Judging how long it took you to do your jeans, you should probably get started now."

Whatever.  You can't rush talent.

I was on a sewing high from my jeans and decided to tackle another seemingly simple project.  Sofia's birthday party is coming up and it's a garden theme.  I'm requesting that everyone wear spring flowers or pastels and I had a perfect skirt, but it was too big.  Since I'm a master tailor now, I figured it wouldn't be that hard to fix it.
It was too big and too full.  I figured making it into a pencil skirt would be simple enough.
A straight stitch down both sides and done!

This damn skirt took me three hours to fix!  Pinning, sewing, ripping out the stitches because I pinned too much and couldn't get it over my hips, and that's saying a lot because I have no hips and no ass.  I was so frustrated but by the third try I got it!
I don't have a before pic because I started so late and 
was rushing to get it done before the baby woke up.

Next on my list is to take one of my tshirts and refashion it to wear at the party.
I'm thinking a rosette t-shirt would be fun.
from here via my Pinterest

My breakfast nook is a mess because I don't have a sewing room.
But I'm slowly making friends with my machine.
I even have a pile of clothes to fix!
I'm so ambitious!

So, even though I'm making strides in the sewing department, I'm not doing *as* well in the baking arena.  I'm thisclose to throwing in the towel and letting the pros do it because Sofia's party is next weekend.

How did the time go by so quickly?

You are cordially invited!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Addicted to cake

The universe is toying with me, mocking me, taunting me.  

Knock it off, universe.

I made another cake because I have been obsessing about what I could have done differently and how I could have improved upon my last cake-making foray (that's the universe talking, not me.  I don't use words like 'foray.')

It's just that I feel like I'm so close!  I feel like I can actually pull this off with just a few tweaks and I get all inspired to try just one more time.

And then the universe knocks me down.  The universe can be kind of a jerk sometimes.  


This weekend we hung out at my girlfriend Kristin's house for St. Patrick's Day.
Sofia and her bff Dagny on their first St. Patrick's Day
This is Sofia's signature look

Like I did the last time, I got started the night before - but I was smarter from the beginning!
HaHA!  No mess this time!
Everything is easier with wine - it's my motto.
I bought food coloring this time and decided to do shades of green.

The last time, I poured the cake mix and puree directly in the pans.  The problem with that was I had sprayed the pans, so when I mixed the puree, I was mixing the no-stick spray in with my cake.  So I got smart!
Put your cake mix in separate bowls first!  Revolutionary!
I was terrified of using too much food coloring 
so I was ultra-conservative on my first pass.

Slowly, I mixed the coloring in, praying I didn't use too much and drop by drop, I continued to add coloring until I got the variation I was looking for.  I could have gone for more dramatic shading but I was up to like 12 drops in the darkest layer and I kept hearing "bitter cake! bitter cake!" in the back of my mind like a warning bell so I quit while I was ahead.  
Varying shades of pistachio.  Not quite the kelly green I had in mind but we'll go with it.

Once again, everything went in the oven and I crossed my fingers.
Universe - 1, Desiree - 0.
Technically, I guess it would be Desiree - 4 because now it's going to be four layer cake
instead of five.  Ah well.
Flipping them over one more time.
See how one side is higher than the other?  To the best of my knowledge,
that's a natural thing and that's why you have to cut the tops off so your layers will be level.
I still love knives, even if they don't love me back.
Time for assembly!

This time around, I wanted to try and stack the layers without filling between each one, so it looked more like my inspiration photo.

After consulting with Pinterest, I settled on brushing each layer with simple syrup because when it comes from a site like I Am Baker, how can you go wrong?
She did a billion-layer cake AND tinted it with fruit instead of food coloring.
*sigh* I'm going to have to try that, probably.
from here via my Pinterest

So, I dutifully mixed up a batch of simple syrup and brushed that on each layer before stacking them.
Left side brushed.  The syrup kind of seals up the crumbs so your frosting is smooth.
Stacked and ready for Cool Whip-ing
Whipped.  Not bad, if I do say so myself!

Cool Whip is infinitely easier than frosting.  It's light and super forgiving and it looks pretty without even trying!  It took me about ten seconds to ice my cake.  But the real test was the taste and we'd have to wait until we got to Kristin's for that. 

*drivedrivedrive. stop. get out of the car. "Hey girl! Awww, look at the baby in her green! Aw, thanks!  Yes, I made a cake! I hope it doesn't suck!"*

(that was my awesome narration of the time passing so we can get back to the cake)

You guys!  It didn't suck!  It was actually really good!  
I could have made the Cool Whip thicker but other than that, it wasn't bad!

Now, here's where I have to question Ms. I Am Baker.  When I cut my cake, all the layers fell apart into little cake triangles.  The simple syrup didn't hold them together at all!  I have no idea how she got her billion-layer cake to stay together and the next time I make this I'm going to have to put something between the layers to keep them together.

Because, yes I'm making the cake again tomorrow.  My playgroup is having a party and you guessed it, I volunteered to make the cake.  Thanks to I Am Baker and this little article, I'm going to attempt organic food coloring.

It would be really cool if the universe would cooperate with me on this one. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Suffering for my art

You guys, it's a miracle I'm able to type this with all my fingers because a few days ago, I nearly chopped one of them off.  Do I have a story to tell complete with pictures?  Of course I do!

As you know, we're trying to sell our house and not being able to really live in it because it always has to be staged is annoying at times, nearly impossible at others.  Naturally, Sofia's new game is to take everything off of shelves one at a time.  She'll stand at her bookshelf and one by one take off all the books and throw them on the floor.  Only when the bookshelf is empty will she laugh, drop to her little butt and crawl away.  
Because she is my first child and I think her methodical mess-making
is cute, I put all the books right back on the shelf so she can take them off again.
We do this several times a day.

The mess-making really isn't that big a deal but because I can't live in my house, my creativity is stifled and that *is* a big deal.  I need to nest!  I need to decorate, to organize, to craft!  I have rearranged the living room which helped a little but I needed more.  I've been doing a tiny bit of sewing and that has helped too but I'm not good enough at it for it to be satisfying.  So, I brainstormed small things I could do to satisfy my crafty itch.  Naturally, I turned to Pinterest and found this little beauty.
from here via my Pinterest

It was perfect!  Drew and I are big winos so we have tons of corks.  Plus, it was even a sentimental craft as we were in Sonoma when I got pregnant.  I got all excited Googling around looking for the letters and was positively giddy when I found one.  It came a few days later, and because I have a baby, it sat in the box for several weeks.

One night, I finally pulled it out, got my corks, found my glue gun and got started!
These aren't even all the corks we have!
Setting up shop.  Please take note of the giant knife.

I have no clue how you're actually supposed to cut cork.  I rarely approach things with all the necessary information, I realize that now.  I should have looked up exactly how you cut corks safely, but I didn't.  Instead, I went to our knife drawer in the kitchen, pulled the biggest, sharpest looking one and said, "this oughta do it."

It's amazing I didn't chop my finger off because that knife didn't work very well on the round fricking cork.  I would go to cut the cork in half and it would slip away from me.  I even thought to myself I should be careful using this knife.  So what did I do?
Why, get a hacksaw, of course!
Isn't that what you would do?

I commenced to trying to saw that damn cork in half, holding it between my fingers to keep it steady.  After all, I had to make sure that I only had the cool part of the cork!  Except the hacksaw wasn't working that well, but it was getting late and I needed to get some sleep.

A few days later, Drew was out of town, the baby was taking her nap, and I decided that it was a perfect time to chop my finger off get back to my craft.  The big knife didn't work and neither did the hacksaw so I probably should have just gone ahead and glued the whole cork on the board.  But that's not what my inspiration photo looked like!  It was all cool and piecey, so that's how I had to do it too!  I went back to the knife drawer to look for something a little more substantial.
A meat cleaver!  It's thick and heavy, this has GOT to cut through cork!
PS, stop reading now if you don't do blood 
because we all know where this is going, right?

I used the cleaver to slice the tips off some of the corks so I just had small discs.  Then I re-attempted to cut one of them in half the long way.  I held the cork with my left thumb and middle finger and got about halfway through successfully.

Then the damn cork slipped out of my fingers and rolled just as I heard a dull *thunk*.

I didn't even realize what I'd done until I started bleeding.  I wasn't even surprised - I knew in the back of my mind that I was probably going to cut myself.  I just didn't count on it being so serious.  

It was one of those cuts that's so deep it doesn't bleed right away, kind of like when a baby falls and they don't immediately cry and you stop, frozen, wondering if they're going to scream or not, and you think maybe the fall wasn't that bad until WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!

It was like that, except with blood.

I even went to the living room to get my camera out of my purse so I could document this but it started bleeding so badly that I had to run back to the kitchen so I could hold it over the sink.
And take a picture with my phone, of course.

I knew it was a pretty bad cut when I ran it under water to rinse the blood away and it stung like hell!  I'd cut it so deep you could see the white part.  My brown people know what I'm talking about - when you scrape the color off your skin?  That.

I started to get a little worried when it wouldn't stop bleeding.  Like, for real.  I mean come on, I have clotting disorders!  Doesn't that mean I should stop bleeding like instantly?  But I wasn't and by this time the baby was awake.  Of course.

Which was why I didn't realize I'd cut my thumb too!  And it too was bleeding!  Are you kidding me right now?  Crap!  Now the baby was crying and I was bleeding into the bathroom sink and I was like *shit! What do I do?*

I grabbed a towel, squeezed it as best I could and went to get the baby.  I brought her in the bathroom and starting singing to her so she wouldn't get worried.

Ooooohhhh Sofiiiiiiiiiiaaaaaa, your mommy is a dork!  Sheeeeeeee cut her fingers oh yes she did!  And noooooooowww she's bleeding all over the place!  All over the place!

There was no way I was going to the emergency room by myself with the baby so I had to suck it up and do the best I could with what we had at the house.  I squeezed the heck out of my middle finger; my thumb was bad but the bleeding was slowing down so I put bandaids on both fingers.  

I soaked three bandaids on my middle finger before it slowed down.

You guys, my finger bled for like three days!  I seriously probably should have gotten stitches!  Thank God it stopped bleeding on the third day because I was really starting to get nervous.
I'm not going to be able to get a manicure for at least a month, if not longer!

It's been over a week and it still hurts and it doesn't look much better.  There's a big gash where skin should be and I'm still wearing a bandaid because it hurts so freakin bad if I bump it against anything.

I'm about halfway done with my craft and I'm really hoping I don't lose any more appendages before I'm done.

Because I'm not abandoning my little project!  I'm not going to let a little cut finger (or two) get in the way of my crafting!

I'll just have Drew cut the corks for me.


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