Monday, April 25, 2011

The good life.

Saturday we lived the good life. Not in a flashy, opulent sort of way. But in an everyday luxuries kind of way. We woke up and went to our favorite coffee shop for lattes. We drove to the farmers market and attended a natural running clinic. For lunch we ate oysters and drank Belgian beer at my favorite seafood restaurant. We jumped into the first swim of summer. We gobbled giant pieces of fresh-from-the-griddle flat bread at an amazing Middle Easters restaurant. We chitchatted with friends until the late hours of the night. We lived the good life, reminding ourselves all the way that we are very lucky people. Very lucky indeed.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Birthday Boy!

What do you get when you combined one 30th birthday boy, about 30 of his friends, a moon bounce, a taco truck, some patio lights, a bumpin' play-list, a huge cake from Costco, and a game of bags? You get a mighty fine birthday party, that's what you get!

Thanks to everyone who joined us last night to celebrate my Sam's official easement into bona fide adulthood. No matter that for years he has been married, held a stable job, saved in his 401K, paid taxes, and eaten his vegetables without a fight.... somehow this felt like his official transition more than any of those actions.

Happy Birthday Sam. Here's to 30 more, and 30 MORE after that!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Jailbird. A fashion do or a fashion don't?

Let's just start this post with a multiple choice question.

When Kate wears this black and white striped skirt, she looks:
a) boldly fashionable
b) graphically challenged
c) like she just broke out of jail
d) all of the above
e) none of the above. Other: _______________

I finished sewing this puppy yesterday. But now I can't decide if I can really pull it off. I was inspired by the lovely Lilli of Frocks and Frou Frou, who wore a black and white striped skirt recently with a black and white patterned top (you can see it here). I though she looked so chic, so bold, so confident, and so I immediately began coveting a similar skirt of my own.

I scoured the Internet high and low for the perfect striped fabric. I found very little in the way of appropriate striped fabric. Stripes were either too narrow, or staggered in different sizes, or just plain not available. But while there was no fabric available, along the way I managed to find lots and lots of images of striped clothing to peak my lust, including a Kate Spade yellow striped skirt that enhanced my obsession with striped skirt. I even found a blogger obsessed with Kate Spade who made her own version of striped skirts in red, blue, green, and black. But still, not fabric found. Then, magic of all magics, I found Michael Miller's Two by Two in both black and white and yellow and white.

I made this skirt using a combo of Gertie's dirndl skirt tutorials (#1 and #2), with my own addition of a wide elastic waist instead of a band with zipper. It just is so easy and comfortable with the elastic I added a pocket, which proved challenging as I had to rip it out and redo it twice (if you know how to do french seems with pockets, please share!). I also added a lining of full muslin, which may prove too heavy and bulky, but I was trying to prevent sheerness and add poof. It was a simple project made complicated by user error, but I am optimistic I can crank out more of these quickly, presuming it is a good addition to my wardrobe.

So, that is why I need your opinions. I tried the skirt on with several options for top, and now need to know the truth - does the striped skirt work for me? Let me know what you think. Or, to put the questions in a multiple choice:

If we were going to lunch, and I showed up in any of the outfits below, would you be:
a) openly envious of my outfit
b) a little bit self conscious that my skirt was making others dizzy from the stripe-i-ness
d) worried that I had an inappropriate view of my figure
d) all of the above
e) none of the above. Other: _______________

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mussels in white wine.

Dinner was going to be plain old paninis, albeit good paninis with roast beef and caramelized onion and blue cheese and arugula. But paninis none the less.

We had the necessary panini groceries in the cart by the time we got to the seafood area of Central Market and started sampling the mussels, and dinner plans changed quite suddenly. You see, the mussel samples we tasted in the grocery store were better than any seafood I have tasted, even in the nicest restaurants. Blasphemous. I mean, Central Market foodies were cooking the samples standing in teh middle of the store, at only Bunsen burners, and wearing silly hairnets at that. And the seafood sample was free. How could it be better than a plate of food I might pay $15, $20 or $30 for if I was out?!? But it was.

This led us to think... maybe, just maybe, we could make delicious mussels at home ourselves? It took a few more mussel samples to convince us. The first taste was a mussel in garlic and white wine, the second was a fried oyster, the third some crayfish etouffee, and then a second mussel steamed only in some water and its own essence. Each bite was fresh, simple, and delicious. We were sold. Six pounds of mussels in the cart, plus a bag of frozen french fries and a six pack of Belgian beer. It was our night to feast.

Trepidation returned briefly in the kitchen, first as we sorted through the mussels (wait, how open means food-borne illness?), then again right before steaming (how much liquid, how hot, how long?). But when we opened our pot of white onion, garlic, butter, white wine and mussels, there there were six pounds of beautiful, perfect, fresh and piping hot mussels, ready for eating. And again, they were better than any bucket of mussels I have eaten anywhere else.

With a big cone of french fries, a heaping side salad of veggies, a nice Belgian beer, and the good company of our friends Will and Carmen (Carmen actually took these pictures, thanks!), we were set for our feast. Additionally, Sam taught me that mussels are the most sustainable seafood. Delicious, nutritious, and ecological! Yeah.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Easy peazy, nice and breezy skirt refashion.

Nothing like a quick refashion to get the sewing urge recharged. Last year, when Liberty of London and Target collaborated, I was lucky enough to pick up a little dress on sale for $6.49 in the sale racks of my favorite Target. The dress itself was not right for me - it had a jersey halter top with a built in bra that would not come CLOSE to cover my ample self. But, the lower half of the dress was a gathered tube of about 60 inches of pretty, lightweight cotton in a gorgeous Liberty print, including a lightweight cotton lining. I thought "what the heck." It's cheaper than buying a yard of Liberty fabric (or even quilting cotton for the most part).

Well, a year later, I finally got around to converting the steal to a summer skirt, easy peasy. I just chopped off the jersey halter top, regathered the tube of fabric to my waist measurements plus a few inches for pulling on and off, attached it to the lining, and put the whole thing on a circle of extra wide elastic. Viola! A new summer skirt. Since the lining and the fashion fabric were already hemmed and seems serged, it was nothing to do the rest.

The elastic keeps it comfortable. The biggest debate was whether to use black or white elastic. The Liberty pattern has black accents in the flower pattern, and rather than being solid white, the flowers are really more of an off-white. But in the end, I speculated a white waistband would attract less attention to my waist than black. And I thought it would let me wear my shirt tucked in with a slightly higher waist than I usually do.

All in all, I think the refashion worked out wonderfully. So wonderfully, I immediately put it on and wore it to the grocery store. Now that's a statement of success!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Ellen visits Texas.

When Ellen visited Texas a few weeks ago. We had a good time. She swam in a cold lake, stood by a pit of meat, felt constantly cold despite coming to a warmer climate than she is used too, ate breakfast tacos as many times as was possible, and vainly wore false eyelashes with me . And we talked. And we laughed. And we had such a nice time just being together and relaxing and rejuvenating. I wish my sisters could be with me always.