13 May 2013

A couple too few fat cell pixels???

Dear Vogue Patterns,

I love the pattern lines on some of your new summer 2013 patterns, but the presentation of extreme narrowness with your chosen models is revolting.

1349, 1350, and 8902 ... I just can't look at these pictures with joy and interest in making up the patterns.  I have the urge to gag instead.

I say this from a place of concern [into a bullhorn] "Step away from the photoshop!  And the super-skinny and tween models."  I'm not interested in you expressing your inner Wintour.  I want your patterns shown off to their best effect, not their worst.

Shudder ...

 Shudder ...

Shudder ...

I'd really get a better idea if you just hung them on a basic wire hanger.  I wouldn't be so distracted by the unfilled volume ... 

I need to find a palate cleanser.  Ahh, calves, they do a body good!  Any recommendations?

14 April 2013

St. John's, NL, CA - vacation day 8

Finally feeling like my old self - disregarding those odd coughing fits.

We are up and headed out to visit the Johnson Geo Center, which highlights the geology of Newfoundland and Labrador.  Wow, I am impressed.  You can touch the exhibits!  And many of them are at kid height so that they can be involved in the experience, too!

For the life of me, I cannot remember what this guy's name tag said.  Obviously we were at a scary part in the movie ...

We lunch at The Sprout, tasty late luncheon.

Fort Amherst was our last stop of the day before heading home.  It is a bit of a walk, and I really need to add ear covers for my next trip to 40/50 degree weather (and maybe gloves).  My scarf is working as a head wrap, but some ear coverings would be that much better (and I have two at home, why did I not bring one of them?)

Fort Amherst brings home the reality of getting goods to remote locations.  Whereas it is not a difficult feat now that St. John's is well populated, at its inception Fort Amherst was exceptionally difficult to reach and supply.  We really do have a much easier life in this modern age.



Home to snack and catch one nap before bed.  I'm not 100%, but I am doing better.

St. John's, NL, CA - Vacation day 6 and 7

Maybe it isn't allergies.  Maybe it is, in fact, a virus of some sort.  I've been dealing with the temperature just fine.  In fact, more often than not, I'm complaining about being too hot in 20C, 70F, inside temps.  I'm sock-less, and in shirt sleeves ... and I'm warm.

The spouse finally complained about how wide open I was leaving the windows, and went to install his own thick wool foot warmers.  I must be running a fever, it is the only explanation I can produce.

Thankfully, the spouse runs to the local store to get some dry it up, open it up, and drain it out magical elixir that is supposed to make my head feel more like mine rather than some strangers.  It does help to a point, and I sleep through the night.

I also awaken to achy ears and neck ... chewing and swallowing are a bit uncomfortable ... and my equilibrium is still off.  

Needless to say, I sleep most of these two days (I blame the constant soothing surf, and the medication that makes me drowsy).

St. John's, NL, CA - Vacation day 5

Finally crawl out of bed to a bright, sunny day.  The allergies are worse, and breathing is a mouth open affair.

I can see a view that was totally obscured yesterday, and realize that there are, in fact, many people either living or owning houses in this little cove.

I sent off my acceptance of the offer I was made for this new job (and started my "accomplish this" before to-do list: you know - haircut, make sure wardrobe up to snuff, have car checked - it will be getting lots of miles now).

Then the spouse and I walked along a short section of the East Coast Trail ... it is not far from our backyard.  It is lovingly maintained by someone because it is far too fresh to be left to linger.  We came upon an area marked as "swamp" on the map, and the spouse remarked upon such.  It does look a bit like a grassland, until you look closer.  The plants are, in fact, round leaved juncus species - a water loving plant.  And sure enough, later on we found a deep indention filled with water.  Knowing your plant life would be very helpful along such new surroundings.  While I cannot tell you what species of juncus it is, I can tell you for certainty that it is a water plant.

After getting our ears freeze dried by the wind for as long as we could take, and staring at some awesome rocky shore and wave interaction, we headed back to the cabin for a rest, so that I could feel sorry for myself in my allergy ridden state.

And can I just write that I really wish iPad had a move button - up, down, right, left.  My Nokia phone has this, and it makes navigating to fix spelling errors so much easier than iPad's "No, no, just move your finger around, and you will hit the problem eventually."  I finally had to turn off the spelling fix, because it causes far more mistakes than it fixes.  Arg.  Irritating machinery.

The spouse is off to the local grocery for oil, cooking oil.  Four jars of peanut butter (we only brought one of these) and no cooking oil.  Who stocks these places?  Not to mention the spatula is broken, and the non-stick pan has lost its coat.  I like to think that I would be a much more conscientious host were I to run a rental property for vacationers.

I've been reading through the Canadian fashion mags I picked up at the airport, and I quite like some of them.  They do not feel as overexposed as a lot of the American mags.  I may look into a subscription when I return home.

St. John's, NL, CA vacation day 4

My big job this morning was negotiating on a new job back home!  It is both exciting and a little trepidatious, as I am expected to do big things with a small amount of support at the beginning.  But I like the group I interviewed with, and expect it will all gel with a few bumps along the way.

The spouse was off to get the rental car while I was on the phone long distance to the states.

When he returned the call was complete and I was packed and ready to go.  The sky was definitely getting dreary by this time, and while I suggested we consider doing something in the city since we had wheels, he suggested that a grocery trip and the drive to our next place would be adventure enough for the day.

Turns out, he was right.

The grocery store ... This was our second trip to a Sobeys, and we have heard nothing but complaints about prices since we arrived.  In fact, that and St. John's parking seems to be the biggest problem of natives and locals alike.

However, our one week grocery trip cost us about $160 CA, and that sounds right.  Yes, I would expect it to cost me somewhere around $115 to $125 US.

The trip out to Bears Cove was slightly nerve wracking as fog was thick and low.  Luckily, the road crews keep the roads clear and slow downs carefully mark upcoming lights and cross traffic.  I would NOT want to meet a drunkard out here, dangerous.

Our little house is fairly easy to find, with a partially obscured view of the shore that is blocked by another house.  I don't remember THAT from the website!

Kitchen- a measuring cup, how divine.  But the knives are, of course, crappy.  There is a noisy dishwasher and an ancient washer/dryer.

My main problem is allergies setting in, nose stuffed, and headache beginning.  

After arriving, the fog and rain descend to fill in every bare spot as we cart in our grocery booty, filling the counter.

A quiet night watching the fog, dealing with breathing difficulties, and listening to the rain fall down.

St. John's, NL, CA vacation day 3

We slept late and awoke to a beautiful day.  Our host called to complete the transaction of our rental stay, and we found out that we do not need to do anything special to leave the house.

One of our friends from dinner last night heads a department at MUN, Memorial University, and offered to show us around the campus.  How exciting!

To my surprise, in addition to a driving tour of the campus, however, we also got an awesome tour of St. John's including Cape Spear, Signal Hill, neat local neighborhoods, and two unforgettable shoreline walks with he and his dog, Terra!

We may have also gotten a moderate sale on the city itself.  It is the kind of natural nature that we appreciate.  I do not need a sandy beach to lie upon, but I like to watch the waves crashing in.

Some of the biggest problems we've heard about is parking in and around the city.  While the population has grown greatly in the last eight years, the city adds only houses, not parking.

Otherwise, every person we have dealt with has been kind, courteous, and helpful.  From the guy who directed us to the grocery store, to the checker at the store, drivers along the street, and every person along the way.

We snacked for a late lunch and headed out for a walk around 5 pm.  On our way back, we stopped by Pi, a gourmet pizzeria.  I have to admit that I like their pizza better than Piotta.  More ingredients, more unusual combinations, and lots of sauce options.  Additionally, since it is not an authentic "Italian" wood-burning stove pizza it was absent of those topping and sauce free bubbles of dough through half the pizza.  Luckily it also comes covered completely in toppings and "Follow Your Heart" vegan gourmet mozzarella cheese.  

The spouse cooked scallops on the stove, and did all the dishes left in the sink ... I am so proud (sniff) ... I did not think he knew how to do dishes by hand anymore!

Packing up for our morning leave.

St. John's, NL, CA vacation day 1 and 2

I flew Air Canada from Houston to Toronto and then to St. John's.  Total flight time is fairly short, but layovers, customs, and finding my through unfamiliar airports did take the entirety of the day.  I left my house just before 5:30 am and arrived in St. John's at 7:00 pm (4:30 pm Houston time).

I went looking for Canadian fashion magazines while in the Toronto airport, and picked up Flare, Elle Canada, Fashion, and Canadian Running.

I caught a (non-smoking!) taxi from the airport to my rental at 21 Prospect Street.  It has a lovely view of the shipping lane, or "The Narrows."

No automatic dishwasher, but then, that would reduce the roominess of the kitchen.  I'd probably put in a drawer size dishwasher if it was my place.

We walked by the Rocket and picked up some extras for snacking.

Dinner at Piatto, where we met some friends of the hubbies by accident , and set up a dinner for Saturday night.  I had a basic cheeseless pizza, and after it arrived the hostess noticed that they missed adding the vegetables I asked for.  She quickly ordered a replacement, and told me to snack on the 'wrong' one - how often does that happen!

I crashed really early and slept late.  Breakfast was leftover pizza and Rocket granola.  We watched the news, and realized there is not much going on except for the launching of a large ship and the return of a terrorist to Canadian shores.

We watched ships from our living room and snoozed on the couch until it was time to get ready for our dinner with friends: J, D, T, and K.  The Sprout was my choice and seemed to be acceptable

I had: a salad (tasty house), the Papa Ghandi chickpea dish, and dessert of carrot cake and berry tart - I made the spouse order a dessert so I could try both.

We stayed too late at the restaurant chatting, and then spent even more time chatting outside the restaurant - I don't think any of us really wanted to leave such excellent company.

A swift, and chilly, walk home brings us to our lovely temporary abode.  I am so glad we are not in a hotel!

We finally left the house and headed to the farmer's market about a mile uphill.  The spouse had been told the market did not have produce, but we found broccoli, carrots, parsnips, tomatoes, and potatoes.  On the way back we hit Sobey's grocery store for tofu, peppers, pasta, and fruit.

Vogue 8831 - Another Cowl Neck knit top

In my search to find cowl neck tops, I finally gave up on the 1 piece bodice.  Since I do not have the shape to fill such a bodice, it looks droopy and reveals way too much when I bend over.  Yikes!

This defeat came when I finished my 20th (it felt like it) cowl neck top that just did not work for my body.

Finding Vogue 8831 felt like an answer to several year's worth of wishes ... or it could have been a great cosmic joke.  However, after my first trial, I will report success with this pattern that has good "bones."

This will become my cowl neck shirt of choice once I iron out a few wrinkles (mostly in the back there).

Changes I made: dropped the bust point, shortened the length, and adjusted for sway back.

I like the upper back, but may need to take a deeper sway back adjustment.  I also need a bit more width across the back hip (some of that wrinkling).

I want to narrow the sleeve: which juts out rather than conforms to my shoulder area.  And I want to remove some excess at the armhole princess seam.

I'm going to call this a really great start to an entire wardrobe of cowl neck tops!  Yippee!  No longer do I worry about the view I'm giving others when I bend over ... this top is quite secure.

I used the blind hem stitch for the sleeve and hem, and was quite happy with the inherent stretch.  No more popped hems for me.  I do have double needles, and I even have overlocker that will coverstitch - but I'm usually unwilling to fiddle with all the necessary changes and adjustments.  No siree, blind hem works well for me!

And a closing picture of me with my girl, Skyla, she will be 13 this year.  :)

05 October 2012

Review: Onion 5028

This pattern comes from the Danish company Onion.

It is a remarkable variety of tank tops, and almost exactly what I was looking for.  It pays to shop your stash! 

I chose the plain back pattern, but added in the "princess seam" option in the front (not that visible).  After assembly, I feel that the straight lines are fairly useless, and don't really add to the pattern for me (a friend agrees).

Interestingly enough, Sarah Veblen's "The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting" has a princess seam primer on page 96.  And her book may help explain my disillusionment.  For optical illusion assistance, I would be better served to have rounded seam lines on my princess seams.

Straight princess line, like those found in this pattern better serve those with sizeable chesticules.

The upper back fits well, but I probably need to take out a little more in the sway back alteration.  I ten to narrow my sway back in knits, since they are stretchy, but I think I went a little too narrow this time.

I think the front also fits well.  The neckline is comfortable, neither too low nor too high.

This is definitely a keeper for me, and I anticipate producing several more over the next couple of years ... because I am slow that way!

02 October 2012

Review: Burda 7519 Cowl Neck shirt

Burda's 7519 is two shirt patterns (same tissue) with a cowl neck and either short/fitted/sleeveless variation or long/loose/draped sleeve variation.

The fabric suggestions are jersey, satin, and crepe.  It is rare to run into a knit or woven, your choice, pattern.  They are usually either/or.

The front is cut on the bias, while the back is on the straight of grain.

I've been looking (and looking and looking) for a close fitted cowl neck top.  I really like the look of the cowl neck, but generally don't like the way they fit on me.

I made the sleeveless variation up in a thin rayon knit.  I narrowed the cowl neck by 2 inches total (it looked too big as drawn), performed a typical sway back alteration, and cut it in the smallest size.

Result?  I think the back looks good, the side view is nice, but the front is too big.  It hangs, because I don't have the, uh, chesticules to fill the top.

I suspect I would need to grade the front down another size or two, further narrow the cowl, and then, maybe, I would like the front view.

The back view is fairly comfortably fitted. The darts are a nice touch.

The side view looks good to me.  Close fit, but not tight.

But the front just has too much excess fabric.  Cowls are a fiddly pattern.  Nudged a little to far either way and they are no longer elegant. 

This one falls into the not elegant on me category. 

I am torn, do I continue fiddling with pattern?  Or try something new?  Because I'm all about trying a new pattern ... but feel that this one is close ...

28 September 2012

Review: HotPatterns Fringe Festival Scarf-T

Unfortunately, this got dumped in the trash before I had pictures of it.  Not because I didn't like the top, but because it developed a hole in the shoulder line after two wears.

My biggest problem with this pattern was the fabric I chose, a very thin rayon knit.  I think this pattern would be much better off in a medium weight knit, especially with consideration to how the scarf hangs.

I liked the cap sleeve, it has a cute shape.  A great summer weight shirt that would be more than acceptable in some work environments.

I did shorten it a bit, as I felt it was just too long, and I had an interesting experiment with the armhole seam.  I drew flaps on the traced pattern so that I could fold in and sew the armhole seam down after sewing the side seams.  It certainly worked, but I'm sure my face was unusually animated as I tried to figure out how and where to draw the flaps for later sewing ... a great fabric manipulation puzzle.

I may or may not make this pattern again.  It did feel like a short cut when I wore it (tops should be harder to sew!), and I felt the scarf was worthlessly floppy ... probably due to fabric choice. 

But, I also dislike raw edge patterns, and the raw edge of the scarf shows as it is only a single layer.  This could be fixed by doubling it, but then you have the issue of twice as much weight on the scarf.  Hm ...

25 September 2012

I'm feeling a bit lizard-ly, snake-ish, visitor-like

This ... kept me away from running for two days.

This ... gave me the weirdest lump ever for a week.

This ... was obtained tracking down the laziest dog in the world.

This ... really did not hurt like I thought it would.

This ... is almost pretty: the color, the texture, the juxtaposition of pain and beauty! 

This ... is about 4" long teal to teal.

This ... is not longer quite so pretty, I have devolved into the jaundiced yellow phase.

I paste this, not because I like to show off bruises, but rather because I've never had one color in this pattern before.

Hence, the reason I'm feeling a bit reptilian.  Apparently, I'm dragon underneath.  I anticipate a long discussion with my mother ... this is going to be some confession.

24 September 2012

Review: Budokon Beginning Practice

Budokon Beginning Practice is a short martial arts and yoga blend fusion DVD.

I only lasted for 10 of the 15 minute opening yoga practice.  It goes very slowly, and I'm more used to Power Yoga.

The second portion of the practice is also only 15 minutes and consists of punching and kicking drills.  It is far too short.

In the 25 minutes that I exercised, I burned 76 calories.  This is not the DVD you grab when you want a burn.  This is the DVD you grab when you want to meditate.

I've kept it for years due to the martial arts aspect, but have only reached for the video a handful of times.  There is no real dread factor attributed to this workout, but an acknowledgement that I might be wasting my time. 

If I want yoga fusion, I have Iron Yoga and Yogilates DVDs.

If I want Yoga, I have most of what Shiva Rea has produced, as well as several Rodney Yea and Baron Baptiste titles.

If I want martial arts, I guess I have to be content with my kickboxing DVDs.

This would be an excellent introduction for both yoga and basic martial arts for a beginner, rank beginner.  As it is, I am placing this in the give away pile, not because the instructor annoys me, but because it simply is not the workout for me.


Review: Criss-Cross Cardio with Sherri Jacquelyn

Oh, let me count the ways I cannot stand this video.

She is ALWAYS fiddling with her hair!  This is a guaranteed distraction.

Her nails are way too long, and I think they are a novelty for her.

She counts out EVERYTHING.

Her background exercisers do not have the best of form, and her cueing is not the best.

I've tried to get used to the video, but it has such a huge dread factor for me, I'm getting rid of it.  I would never willingly choose it, so off it goes.

Adequate warmup.

She really works you out.  You will be working up a sweat, and some of her combos are truly unique.

She does screw up a couple of the combos.  If you aren't watching, it won't have an impact.  If you are watching, you're going to get lost as she changes her order. 

I do hold a lot of instructors up to Cathe Friedrich and Jari Love.  I can't imagine either of them releasing a video with this many mistakes, but nobody is perfect.

Balance/Core work
Really unique, great capoeira exercises. 

Too short.

Condensed Explanation
Great workout, horrible presentation.

Goodbye CIA-2603, go make someone else sweat.


Review: Gilad Elite Forces Fat Burning Workout DVD

Gilad is a fairly well know exercise instructor, and I have seen him on TV numerous times.  But this is the first (and I suspect last) video I've ever purchased of his.

The DVD runs 55 minutes, and is recommended for intermediate to advanced exercisers.  I'd recommend it for beginner to intermediate.  I think this is a fair introduction to kickboxing, but it is slow, stagnant, and repetitive.

I can't stand instructors who walk around the set, get in someones face, and says, ad nauseum, "How you doin'?  Ready for more?  What's next?  Who's ready to work out?"  This is not what motivates me, and it is not something I picked up on in the short video I watched before I bought the DVD.  I'm telling you, if you are advanced, leave it behind for someone else, because you will not like it.

I'm am dropping this off at the library so it can go entertain someone else.

The warm-up is fairly long, and slow.  I think it is a good start for someone new to the whole punching and kicking type routine.

Body - Cardio
A lot of slowly building combos interspersed with jumping rope and jumping jacks.

The combos did not build fast enough to satisfy me, and I was bored but determined to finish.

Body - Toning
Semi interesting toning workout that was far too short.  I think I was lifting heavier weights than he was ...

Cool Down
What?  There's a cool down?  Where?  Very short and inadequate ... as usual.

Issues -
He does not work each side evenly, completely missing a combo add on one side (he's not the first and he won't be the last instructor to do this).

He's too chatty and too walky.  Stand in front and lead the exercises!

The set is very loud as it is filmed on the deck of an amphibious assault ship.  It was nice to support and highlight our troops, but couldn't you dub over the noisiest parts?

Form is non-existent with this group.  So if you are a beginner, this is not a form improvement video.  Be careful of your back and your knees, because these people are all over the place.

The enthusiasm from the crew was lukewarm at best.  They weren't really working, just placing their punches delicately in the air.

I really punched, added in some extra work (kicks, etc) and didn't start to sweat until 30 minutes into the program.  30 minutes ... more than halfway.

I barely burned 300 calories.  I did not get tired physically, though mentally I was exhausted by the imaginary jumping rope.

Goodbye DVD, I've set you free to find a more appreciative home.