Belgium – Holland 2014

Now that I’ve got some of the sewing related stuff out. Here’s a final post on how the rest of the trip went.

IMGP0169

Before we started the bike and barge portion, we spent a day on a bike tour in Brussels. I’ve done bicycle tours in Minneapolis, Montreal and Shanghai. They really are a great way to cover a ton of ground and get an overview of the city.

Royal Palace in Brussels

Royal Palace in Brussels

The Royal Palace was open for about three weeks for tours for the year. But, we could not seem to get organized around things shutting down around 4 p.m. Thus, I missed my chance to tour the palace. A theme which continued on in the Netherlands.

The Liege waffle might be the best thing I’ve ever eaten.

IMGP0213

I’ll also just tell you now. We had a lot of frites. I’m not that in to chocolate. I don’t think we even bought any on this trip. But, I ate waffles and fries like they were being discontinued. They say the Liege waffle has sugar in the middle. I decided it’s not sugar. It’s crack inside of them. They were that additive.

IMGP0189

After a day in Brussels, we headed to Bruges. It’s SO BEAUTIFUL. All I really knew about Bruges was from the movie, In Bruges. Guess what? There’s a Bernina store there! If you think the prices are high for Berninas here, the feet there would cost me 30 percent more because of the exchange rate. Ouch.

IMGP0270

Right-o. The bike trip began in Bruges. Our barge would sail during the day while we biked and we’d get back on board in the evening. The crew was great and the food was awesome.

IMGP0300

The biking was fun! I wasn’t at all prepared for it training wise, but you didn’t really need to be. That said, it was a lot harder for me now than three years ago. Jordan on the other hand thought it was easy peasy.

IMGP0809

We  saw castles and windmills and ate lots of cheese.

IMGP0769

We also visited a working dairy farm and bought more cheese than a cardiologist would approve of.

IMGP0921

I gasped in this room. We brought back three Gouda cheeses. We have 1.5 left…

IMGP0920

When we got on board our guide immediately knew our names. I asked how he knew it was us. And he said, ‘Easy. You’re the youngest people on the tour.’ Isn’t that awesome? The next person in age to me was 20 years older and they rode hard. Do you see why I can’t moan about being out of shape?? This guy below is from Australia. He’s 75. Jordan is the same age as his oldest grandson. And, he kicked our butts going up hills. He’s got the legs of a 35 year old. He’s in a bike club in Australia and has two hip replacements.. He was awesome. I tried to hook him up with Jordan’s grandmother but I suspect the distance between Melbourne and Maryland is too far.

IMGP0928

Along the tour we stopped in Utrecht and Antwerp before getting in to Amsterdam. Once the bike and barge portion ended in Amsterdam, we rented a flat for a few days in the Jordaan neighborhood. I got a total kick out of the name. Jordan didn’t think it was as funny as I did. I never did find him a tee shirt that said Jordaan…

IMGP1098

Our first day in Amsterdam we took a really fun food tour of Jordaan, the neighborhood we were staying in. We sampled all kinds of Dutch specialties including herring, Surinamese food, Dutch food (bitterballen), licorice, and Dutch apple pie.

IMGP1042 IMGP1034 IMGP1019 IMGP1011 IMGP0999

Sunday we hit the Van Gogh Museum and the Jewish Quarter. In the Jewish Quarter we stopped by the Portuguese Synagogue and the Jewish History Museum. We didn’t have enough time for my favorite museum, the Dutch Resistance Museum.

IMGP1117

Sunday night we saw an English language improv show with all American actors at Boom Chicago. Isn’t that amazing? American comedy in Amsterdam. And, the place was full!

IMGP1128

When you walk around Amsterdam, you can see in almost everyone’s window.

IMGP1046

Imagine how tickled I was when I saw a dress form on a canal house boat and a woman working away on her sewing machine!

IMGP1105

\IMGP1107

IMGP1106

And of course, I still can’t get over ALL THE BICYCLES.IMGP1223

IMGP0796

It was a tremendous vacation. We chose our honeymoon in the middle of what I can only describe as the most surreal time of my life. Traveling, especially in Europe, reminds me of my mom in all the best ways. She always took us on trips and suggested places to go. Traveling was really her passion. This trip felt like closing the chapter on an emotionally complicated period and opening a door to the next phase.  The last year I’ve literally felt like the walking wounded. I didn’t realize  just how much was weighing on me.  I knew I was sad. I didn’t know I was crippled. I am honestly starting to feel like me again.

IMGP1254

International Internet Friends: Brussels & Holland Edition

So much of our trip’s success relied on the kindness of Internet friends!

First, sweet Katherine in Brussels offered to let us stay at her home outside of Brussels for a few nights before we headed in to Bruges to start our trip.  Imagine our car-centric surprise when she arrived with a bicycle and two adorable children to carry our luggage to her house!

IMGP0107

** Jordan’s not in the Army. But, he’s using my mom’s old US Army duffle which I used to use to travel all over the world. After this trip, we are so not going to travel with it overseas. Oy.

Can I tell you that these kids are the greatest?!? Like Linus, they liked Jordan better than me. He managed to do two different arts and crafts projects with them at the same time. Katherine and I were busy talking sewing machines.

IMGP0254Also, when you speak to these cuties in English, they respond in French. IT WAS SO STINKING CUTE. We’d say, ‘I don’t speak French. Anglais? Anglais?’ and they’d look at us like we were simpletons, sigh politely and and say like three words in English. Their mom speaks to them in English, but she understands their French when they respond.   You know how they say ‘Hello, Kitty’? ‘Hallo Keeety!” I wanted to die of cute overload.

IMGP0250

Katherine also took some time to show me how to make vegetarian dolsot bibimbap from Korea. Mmmmm. We’ve been talking about this for years!

From Katherine’s, we headed to Bruges to start our week of biking and barging from Belgium into Holland. At some point I may get myself together to actually talk about the non sewing related parts of the trip!

IMGP0969

After our week of biking, our clothes were so so terribly smelly. And, being American, we expected the laundromat in Amsterdam to be open all night long. Not only did the laundromat by our rented flat in close at 3:00 pm on Saturday, it wasn’t even open on Sunday. Jordan was literally out of clothes (I was washing mine as we went along. He… wasn’t). I emailed Valerie who lived in the neighborhood for suggestions of other places to try. Since we were staying in her neighborhood,  she cheerfully suggested we do it at her house. First, she saved us like 25 Euros. But, second, we got to drink wine while the laundry was running and talk to she and her husband all about Amsterdam, the neighborhood, the politics of the city and country. We’re policy geeks so loved getting to hear the un PC version of what was going on in Holland.

IMGP1157

The next day, she also escorted us to meet up with Hilde (on the left and Valerie on the right) and tour the Monday fabric market in Amsterdam. Did you hear that? OUT DOOR FABRIC MARKET.

Hilde came bearing gifts: A men’s issue of Knip Mode and some beautiful lace in her stash for lingerie sewing! (I thought I took a photo…)  Do you see Jordan stretching a little to improve his height? He spent a lot of trip noting women he could look in the eye and men he had to look up to. The Dutch are tall!

After touching all the fabric at the market (and buying something I didn’t take a photo of), Hilde came along with us to Rotterdam where Marta was there to give us an insiders tour. Rotterdam is a Baltimore’s Sister City. But, the city is also known for it’s modern architecture and I thought Jordan would get a kick out of it. Can you believe Marta took time off work to show us around??

IMGP1168

Marta was an excellent guide. She showed us all her favorite spots and sites that Rotterdam is known for.

IMGP1177

I think Jordan’s finally gotten used to meeting my ‘internet friends’ when we travel. I’m just really glad we had enough time and people were so generous with theirs! To be honest, I totally added an extra day to our trip just to make sure I could get my fix.

IMGP1192

 

No Store Like It: Kantje Boord

When we were trying to figure out where to honeymoon, I suggested a bike trip in France. Jordan was worried that the food portions would be too small for his American appetite and he suggested the Netherlands. He thought I might not want to go back since I’d been there three years before. But, with memories of Kantje Boord in my mind I was ALL OVER IT. We made a deposit on our trip that night and before he could change his mind.

I have to thank Sigrid for taking the time to meet with me on a work day and Valerie for offering to give me a ride to Kantje Boord. It was my second time meeting Sigrid and my first introduction to Valerie. It’s always a pleasure to meet people you have an online relationship with. YAY for the internets!

 photo IMGP1232_zps83d4f9e4.jpg

And, let me tell you, Kantje Boord is all that I remember and more. First, it’s expanded. Second, I didn’t hyperventilate from indecision. But, I may have hugged the fabric. For those who might not know, Kantje Boord is a lingerie  focused sewing shop in Amsterdam. What makes it unique for lingerie sewing is the sheer volume of options. There are hundreds and hundreds of laces to select from.

 

 photo IMGP1230_zps00ed1f90.jpg

They have ALL the notions ALL in one place. You go to different walls for the strapping, for the lycra, for the little cute ribbons, for the elastics.

 photo IMGP1235_zpse99c4767.jpg

When you go to the counter, the lovely shop clerk (who I totally remembered from three years ago) pulls the best tulle, lining, channeling and metal sliders for you. She makes it impossible for you to forget something. I really love making bras. But, for me it’s totally frustrating to ‘gather’ the supplies. I’m not a fabric dyer so I don’t want to be bothered with that either. The first time I went to Kantje Boord, I was totally overwhelmed. I just bought little pieces of lace and ordered the rest of the kits online. This time. I went in to buy everything I needed to sew a complete bra (minus the underwire).

 photo IMGP1234_zpse5e8ae70.jpg

And, thank goodness for Valerie and Sigrid! I was still overwhelmed in the shop and couldn’t think straight about how much of what I needed to buy. They were the best at helping me winnow down my original stack of 12 laces to a reasonable amount.

 photo IMGP1227_zps58ac708b.jpg

I weep from the beauty of it all. And, if Jordan hadn’t taken money out of my purse for his day out on his own, I would have squeezed two more kits in to here.  Considering my last three RTW bras that I bought last month were in the $60+ range, I really consider this an investment.

 photo IMGP1260_zps78efd72d.jpg

I won’t be sewing these up anytime soon though. I need to work on my new bra size and order the right underwires that I now need. Plus, I’d like to clone one of my RTW bras to have a new pattern. Luckily, Jordan loved Amsterdam too. I’m thinking we’re grounded to North America for travel the next few years. But, here’s hoping for long Amsterdam layovers the next time we travel!

 

Fabric Heaven and Minneapolis

 photo IMGP0268_zpsc8535de5.jpg

Wearing Vogue 1224 an unblogged Tracy Reese knit dress.

We had a great time in Minneapolis over the long Memorial Day holiday. I was going to bore you twice with two posts about our trip. But, I will just compress it into one. I’m also burying the lede here and telling you that SR Harris Fabric Outlet in Minnesota is the greatest fabric store on earth. Bar. None.

 photo IMGP0247_zpsc67e1386.jpg

But, let’s start with the trip. First, I’m embarrassed to admit that All I knew about Minneapolis is that Prince was from there. We went because J.’s law school roommate lives there with his wife and daughter. My only condition when asked if we could go was to not go in winter. For serious.

 photo IMGP0275_zps0f1fd5c7.jpg

Knowing my trepidation, J. pretty much planned the entire trip from the Mall of America visit and Guthrie Theater production to our road trip into Wisconsin and attending a Twins game.

 photo IMGP0233_zps0c6a866b.jpg

Above: Vogue 1086 blogged here.  Minneapolis is beautiful!!! It’s incredibly diverse. The food scene is amazing. The biking infrastructure is PHENOMENAL. There really are 10,000 lakes!

 

There are a dozen museums. Public art is everywhere. The streets are so clean. Midwesterners are so very friendly. The antiques are plentiful. And, best of all, I found the fabric shop of dreams.

 photo IMGP0245_zpscc09d409.jpg

Listen folks. I have been to a lot of fabric stores. I have never been gobsmacked over the size and volume. I planned about one hour at SR Harris fabrics and ONLY went because of emails and comments here that I should stop by. I figured I had seen a lot of fabric and I didn’t need more. I mean, how great could this place be? We got there at 8:30 when they opened and I barely emerged two hours later. I ONLY left because J. was sitting in the car waiting and I thought if I spent any more time it would be a bridge too far.

This place is 30,000 square feet. I barely left the knits aisle. Why? I had a list of things to look for (pique for polo shirts, nylon wovens for men’s swim shorts, brocade for neck ties). But, it was so totally overwhelming I decided to just focus on the gobs of Nike dri fit fabric for honeymoon wardrobe sewing (we’re making a bike trip).

 photo IMGP0252_zps3108f645.jpg

The fabric selection was extensive as were things like trims, elastic, zippers, etc. And, all the fabric was 50 percent off the marked price. The Dri Fit was about $5 a yard. Five. Dollars. A. Yard.

 photo IMGP0251_zps55cd8766.jpg

I’m already plotting how we can go back so I can buy ALL THE LEATHER. Crap. I think that woman is pointing at the piece I want.

 photo IMGP0257_zpsc67dc914.jpg

Here’s one more thing that I did find kind of funny. I hate the way Joanns cuts my fabric. Well, can’t complain about that because you cut all your own fabric at SR Harris.

 photo IMGP0253_zpsabce0186.jpg

 photo IMGP0249_zpsc70aff6f.jpg

Here’s a pic of some of the pieces I got. I hope to sew what I got up very very soon. I bought about 10 cuts.  Jordan will get about five new basic tee shirts in technical fabric. I’ll make some wicking dresses for the bike trip and some pajamas too.

To sum up. If you can get anywhere near the SR Harris Fabric Warehouse in Minnesota, run. Don’t walk. And, plan for several hours. Bring water and trail mix. And maybe bread to leave yourself a trail. I got lost twice. Sadly, not kidding.

China Lace Dresses

I had a stack of China related posts ready to write while I was there. But, then things got c-r-a-z-y.  One thing I wanted to talk about were the custom clothes I had made in China. I had two suits, four shirts made, but I was really excited about these lace dresses.

 photo IMGP0798_zps0279adfa.jpg

As you may recall, I spotted these laces while in China at the Silk Bund Spinning Market. I paid about$15 usd a yard for them and was feeling a little taken to the cleaners. But, I felt better after spotting the same lace in white in Xiamen and they were asking double the price before negotiating. I felt especially good after coming back from China and finding these laces at A Fabric Place for $85 to $110 a yard.

 photo null_zpsa75f5aa6.jpg

Anywhoo, I decided I wanted to have dresses made rather than sew them myself when I got home. I went online and picked these two styles for inspiration.

 photo file_zps3621c9e1.jpg

Valentino

 photo file_zps895a6112.jpg
Dolce and Gabbana ($3,500)

 photo file_zps501f3805.jpg
Second view of DG dress

I’ve never really sewn with lace before and wasn’t all that amped to try anytime soon. So, going to a tailor to have them made in China would also be part of the experience. I also decided to wait until Xiamen instead of Shanghai because of the prices. I knew the labor costs would be half since Xiamen isn’t saturated with Westerners having clothes made.

 photo IMGP0920_zps860e6981.jpg

In Xiamen one of our guides, found a brother, sister and mom  who worked out of their home. I showed them the dresses on my iPad and from the September editions of Vogue magazine. They took my measurements and got to work.

Essentially, there is no pattern. They marked my hip, waist and bust measurements right on the fabric.

 photo IMGP0922_zpsf30456ea.jpg

From there, they draft, again, on the fabric.

If you can imagine, they had appliqued the neckline lace. Something, I just would not have the patience to do.

 photo IMGP0926_zpscae4b45c.jpg

I went in for about two fittings on the three dresses and here are the results. I had the cream and purple made into the Valentino cap sleeve style. I asked for a side zipper because I didn’t want to ruin the lines of the lace.

 photo file_zps2952989c.jpg
 photo file_zps6f03c3de.jpg
 photo file_zps6df2ab56.jpg
 photo file_zps50a8a438.jpg

I always knew I wanted to wear the cream dress for our rehearsal / welcome dinner. And, Liz looked so cute in the purple version, that she wore it that night too.

 photo file_zps7792a231.jpg

Now, on me the cream lace dress is about four inches too long. It would be better just above my knee. The purple proportions are fine.

 photo file_zpsb0a02c4b.jpg

I’m not tall (or thin) enough to get away with this middy look.

 photo file_zps908a95f4.jpg

I thought about hacking some off the bottom and reapplying the lace. But, I’m not going to do that.

 photo file_zps945c6acd.jpg

And, I think it looks prettier with the lace detail (unlike above where it’s turned under). I’m also not going to cut it at the waist, shorten from there, and sew it back. It’s just not in me.

Anywho, Liz wore the purple version that night and looked smashing.

 photo file_zpsed7c902a.jpg
 photo file_zpsce203f07.jpg
 photo file_zps70fdbeb1.jpg

I haven’t gotten to wear the red one yet. Man, red takes terrible pictures.  We just finalized details for a post-wedding party his parents are hosting. I thought about wearing it then, but it seems a little fancy for a Sunday afternoon gig.

 photo file_zps808bcdac.jpg
 photo file_zps64e45496.jpg
 photo file_zpsc8dd6e8d.jpg

Overall, I am thrilled with the dresses. They are really beautifully made and I wouldn’t have gotten around to sewing them any time soon. Plus, it was an experience having someone else interpret your idea of a dress. I think being a sewist myself made me super patient with the process. I also knew I needed to give them photos of what I wanted and NOT deviate. Between the language barrier and time, not having a photo is the way to get what you don’t want.

 photo null_zps185d63a2.jpg

My interpreter this year, Ashley (below)  was fascinated by the whole process. But, she too could not understand why I would want to get dresses made when there are H&M and other stores all over China. I also got to bore her pants of with wedding details. Weddings are BIG business in China. Since I was always online ordering stuff for the wedding, she was my one woman focus group.

 photo IMGP0927_zpsd720490c.jpg

What is different this year, is she didn’t think I paid too much. Three years ago, my interpreters thought my custom clothes were expensive. But, the economy in China has changed since then and this didn’t seem too high to her.

I’ll post about the suits and shirts another time, I think this post is long enough!

Back From China

Hello Everyone!

First, thank you for all the congratulations on my recent engagement!!! We ended up taking a las minute trip over the Labor Day holiday weekend to see my parents in Florida.

 photo null_zps2e3b956a.jpg

Pass A Grille Beach in St. Pete, FL

Sitting on the lanai, (thank you Debbie Cooke, I had no idea what that thing was called) by the pool, we read every single comment out loud. There was a lot of squealing of delight on my part :-) It was so fun to hear from long time internet friends, real life friends and from those of you who delurked.  I am sincerely overwhelmed and touched by your outpouring of congratulations. Jordan, for sure, knows there is a whole community rooting for us!

Two weeks week ago (the Tuesday after Labor Day), I left for a two-week business trip to Shanghai and Xiamen in China. My colleagues and I were incredibly busy with work meetings and work meals.

 photo null_zps328ca2ec.jpg

But, I had to get back to the South Bund Spinning Market while in Shanghai.

 photo IMGP0819_zps75e4a013.jpg

 photo IMGP0796_zpsb26943ab.jpg

 photo IMGP0813_zpsdc809b27.jpg

Long time readers may remember that the market is mostly for buying custom made clothing.

 photo IMGP0805_zps0f69f564.jpg

For instance, this dress is a knock off of a dress worn by Kate Middleton. Their price, pre-bargining, custom fit, $100.

This Burberry copy was $80

 photo IMGP0811_zps390fefa0.jpg

But, I was focused on buying laces. My plan was to buy fabric in Shanghai and have it sewn in Xiamen. Prior experience told me construction prices would be half.

 photo null_zpsae9865c5.jpg

These guipere laces are stunning at stall no 398. They are similar to Prada and Versace. And, after bargaining, $15 a yard. I may have overpaid. But, you lose perspective!

 photo IMGP0801_zps04e5128f.jpg

They’ve been turned into three lace dresses (cream, red, and purple), one of which I will wear for my rehearsal dinner.

Here is the cream lace mid construction

 photo null_zps4dca4735.jpg

If I lived in China, I would have everything custom made. Period.

 photo null_zps1e6de00a.jpg

I also bought several meters of each of these laces to make my wedding veil. For 20 yards I spent about $20. I want a finger tip, one layer veil edged in lace. I saw them going for $300 US. That, is bananas. I’ll use the savings for my shoes. The first and last are my top contenders. I will use the second and third to practice.

 photo null_zps60918087.jpg

I am now back home after 40 hours of travel from Xiamen to Shanghai, Shanghai to Detroit and Detroit to Baltimore and, incredibly jet lagged (hence my 4:00 a.m. posting)

I’ll get the four shirts, two suits and three dresses I had made on the dressform and post some about that process and the food I ate. Oh, China has changed since I went three years ago and I’ll bore you with my thoughts on that too!

Lots of Little Things

The last time I wrote, I promised I’d have photos of my latest project on me. Well, little did I know it would be a incredibly windy and biting 36 degrees (2.2 celsius) on Sunday when I wore the dress in Michigan. In case you’re wondering, that’s 35 degrees cooler than it was when I left Baltimore. It was just too cold to take pictures outside. I was hopeful that I’d get some pictures inside but, things were so rushed that it just didn’t happen. My occasional photographer didn’t seem all that interested in having a photo shoot for my sewing blog on the day he graduated from law school. The nerve.

I did get one photo in my dress. But….

 photo file_zps08bcfb79.jpg

The lighting wasn’t good. My flash didn’t go off. I look sort of goofy. My waist (and fabric) were grabbed so tight that I look about three months pregnant in all the pictures!  The darts! They hurt my eyes. Blergh.

 photo file_zpsba43b94d.jpg

I’ve not attended anyone’s graduation since my own. So, I was feeling super old school at this ceremony. I love this version (my third) of this Burda pattern.  I am obsessed with this seersucker. Karen gave me the remnants of her pieces of it. At this point this seersucker is… five years old? I’ve used it for several projects in the past. If I could get more, I’d buy a bolt and make a whole summer wardrobe just from this seersucker.

 photo null_zps97cd699a.jpg

Because it was so fricking cold, I did get to wear this awesome vintage leather coat that was gifted to me by a co-worker. Listen, people. There is something to be said for being known for loving vintage fashion.

This colleague kept telling me she was moving and cleaning out her closets and had some coats to give me and I kept rolling my eyes. I have been the sorry recipent of terrible 80s patterns and ratchet clothing from other people. She dropped them off in a garment bag and it sat in my office for weeks before I took them home or even bothered looking. I finally opened the bag and this and another GORGEOUS  black wool  with a fur collar coat were inside. I rocked the hell outta this jacket over the weekend. This makes me want to save ALL THE VINTAGE in the world. Like, all of it. I want to own it ALL, wear it ALL and be fabulous in ALL OF IT. ME ME ME.

 photo null_zps749e7480.jpg

It only took my third trip to Michigan to have time to sightsee. I’m always here for a few days and running in and out of town on other people’s schedules. But, this time, I finally got to go to Detroit! I’ve always wanted to see Detroit since it’s compared so much to Baltimore as a urban city with a blue collar background (and massive population declines). We were super short on time but I made sure we went to the Motown Museum.

 photo null_zpse49d57b4.jpg

Oh. Em. Gee. We couldn’t take photos inside.  Let me tell you. I grew up listening to the sounds of Motown and was completely stoked to walk the same halls and be in the recording studio where the likes of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, and the Temptations walked and sang.  Especially exciting was their exhibit on girl groups. People, I need you all to be prepared for my style the next few months to be heavily influenced by the 1960 girl groups of Detroit and the Motown sound. I am not playing. Talk about serious black glamour. I’m going to be doing plenty of sheath dresses and empire waists.

 photo null_zps2ea163b9.jpg

Finally, before I headed out of town, I did get to go to the Original Sewing and Quilting Expo with Robin, which was in Baltimore. I’ve never been to an expo before and my MAIN motivation for going was to check out the Babylock serger with Jet Air Threading and a Juki semi-professional straight stitch only machine. My modern Kenmore’s tension is so wonky that I sewed the above dress on my green vintage Kenmore. I’m in the market for a new machine in a few months.

Well, Brother, Pfaff and Babylock (all sponsors) were there. But, Juki (also a sponsor) wasn’t! I did test out the Babylock Imagine serger and purchased a pre-owned version. I’m picking it up tomorrow (Thursday)!

The fashion piece of the Expo wasn’t nearly where I’d like it to be. I heard Vogue Fabrics attended expos in the past. I like quilting quite a bit and enjoyed that aspect of the show. But, all the bitching and moaning from the vendors about the lack of attendees annoyed me. I mean seriously. I heard at least three stalls complaining about it to either me or to other vendors. I thought it was kind of tacky and a downer on something I’d been looking forward to for months. They thought parking was the reason people didn’t come. They thought crime was the reason people weren’t there. They thought no one likes coming in to a city. Whatever. I’ve never set foot in Chantilly, Va. But, I came downtown to see this. Make of it what you will.

Whew. So, yeah. Lots of little things going on. Just thought I’d get a lot of it said :)

A Two Picture Post

I’ve been using CollageIt lately for creating collages on my blog. It’s a fun little program that works on an Apple computer. 

My first project was this collage of mailboxes from countries I’ve visited.  Oh, wait. I see Grenada is missing. Darn. I need to do this again, LOL. For a while I was also taking pictures of public pay phones too. But, they started disappearing on me with the rise of the mobile phone. I was able to take most of these photos on my trip. Some I had to take from Flickr though after my backup hard drive crashed. Never thought I want a back up to my back up….

I’m thinking it’s not populated enough to work as the large poster I was thinking of for my bedroom. Should I try to do one of every country I can get a photo of?

Second, the Ravens play the Patriots this weekend. This game decides if we go to the Superbowl. Last year was a heartbreaking game (for Raven’s fans) against the Patriots in the playoffs. Here’s a photo of City Hall (my office) lit in purple for the playoffs. My fingers are crossed!! Just so you know, if we lose, we will not speak of it here.

White House Holiday Tour

Taking a cue from Trena’s trip last year, I had an opportunity to visit the White House to see the holiday decorations set up for the Holidays. I’m saying ‘holidays’. But, really. As a friend pointed out — 45 Christmas trees and one menorah :)


I’ve been to the White House a few times over the years for work and school. But, haven’t really taken a tour for fun. So, this was a much more relaxing experience! Except, out scheduled time was 8 a.m. on a Saturday! For those who don’t know, I’m about an hour north of DC. So, I was up at 5:30 a.m. to make sure we got there on time. But, in retrospect, it’s a GREAT time to go. Plenty of parking and as the first group to go through, the crowd isn’t that bad and the three security check points go faster.

We were told before the day that cameras and photos were not allowed. I was *salty* as I had plans on making this the cover of my Christmas card this year. But, when we arrived, they said photos were allowed for the holidays! So, I snapped a few (so-so pics) with my phone.

First, we saw Bo (the Obama dog). Folks, you would have thought the President was walking on the lawn. Like, people went running to the windows and the gate to get a picture of this animal. A friend with me who won’t even pet Linus yelled like the Beatles just landed.

There is a Bo in the White House decor too. I couldn’t tell what it was made from. Maybe yarn?

I loved the White House Gingerbread House. Look at the bottom left of the white house lawn, there is a gingerbread Bo. And, can you see Santa on top of the White House? So stinking cute.

Can I tell you how in awe I was in seeing the Presidential seal?

Here is the State Dining room. They are gearing up for several holiday parties of the next few weeks.

All of the hallway arches are decked out with garland

I went with someone who has a serious admiration for the Kennedys. More so for RFK… but his photo isn’t hanging in the White House. The photo was my idea :-)

I planned to wear my finished cape. I’d been calling it the White House cape! But, we were SO LATE getting to DC that I just bolted out of the car with my wallet, keys and mobile phone (no bags allowed). I didn’t make anything I’m wearing. The top was purchased from my boss :) I think it’s Alice & Olivia with lace insets. Plaid socks to be festive :)

And, on this first day of Hanukkah, here is the menorah (and me taking the photos. heh)

I might make this an annual tradition. My mom wants to come next next year. So, it’ll be Christmas in Baltimore!

Boston – NYC Leg


Man, I hate traffic. A four hour drive from Boston to New York took 6.5 hours on Monday. There was a bad accident somewhere in Connecticut and we sat on the highway for almost two hours. It did make for some fun photos though.

But, it was worth it! I dropped my friends off at the subway and they went on to Harlem to see friends and I drove to Brooklyn to have dinner with the couple I’m marrying. I can’t believe how much Brooklyn has changed from my visits as a kid. I knew I was in a gentrified neighborhood because the restaurant didn’t have a name on it. You know, one of those places that you’re just supposed to know about and is too cool for a SIGN. No name on the door. No banner. No awning. No STREET NUMBER. Ask me how many times I drove around the block incredibly confused. In fact, I called the restaurant and asked what they were near. He said, ‘A block down from the museum on Eastern’. I was looking for ‘next to the Lucky Liquors’. For real. I have apparently become too old (and square) for Prospect Heights.

Tuesday morning I spent some time visiting with my grandmother and made it into Manhattan to see off Elizabeth on her last day of work in corporate America.

But, the highlight, HIGHLIGHT of my trip was my stop by Mood!

You know, I’ve never been to the garment district solo? I always have someone to show me around (Karen, Trena, Elizabeth, Carolyn). My time was SO stinking tight on Tuesday and I had serious shopping to do and I needed to be alone. I’ve come to realize I don’t like shopping in general and I’m not great making decisions when I have too many options. I kind of feel like I’m getting hives.

That, and I’m not a communal shopper for either clothing or fabric (show me what you got? What are you making? How does this look on me? What do you think of this?). Fabric doesn’t speak to me. It doesn’t tell me what it wants to be.

I understand part of the fun for some is working through the selection process. But, again, for me, too many opinions and too many options = a horrible time.

Silk Taffetas

Meg was at Mood and of *course* I had to say ‘hi’! I’d have a photo of her, but no camera. We had a wicked storm on Friday night in Baltimore and I lost power while charging my camera battery. When I was leaving for Boston on Saturday morning at 5 I did so in the dark and totally forgot (didn’t see because it was dark) my camera battery. And, my cell phone(s) batteries were conking out by the time I got to Mood.

It was nice to shop with a specific garment in mind. I’m trying to stop with the mindless shopping and buying of material. Plus, I want to make better and higher quality items. I’m fine with and focused on having a core wardrobe.

With Meg and fabric consultant / sales associate Ann’s guidance, I picked out something amazing for my Celebrant duties in September. But, that’s another post. I will tell you it’s BEAUTIFUL. And, not at all what I thought I would get. It’s not lace and it’s multiple colors.

I love the NYC Garment District. Like, seriously, love. Every time I leave I wonder why I don’t go more often or for longer jaunts.

After my time at Mood, I went to a trim store or two and got back on the subway for the hour ride back to my family’s. My friends and I were back in Baltimore around midnight and I plan on spending the Fourth working on my July project.

Great mini-break with Las Bostonians.