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. 

Mini Break in Boston

Hello there. My friends and I took a last minute trip to Boston. That’s Catalina above driving Nigel.

We wanted a weekend away and something fun to do. I hadn’t been to Boston since my sophomore year of college and remembered liking it then. I couldn’t indulge in the lobster or clam chowder, but I ate my way through the South End.

We stayed in Back Bay and spent our time in the North End, the Fish Pier, and the South End.

Boston was hosting the tall ships this weekend too which was nice to see how differently we did our events.

We also took a bike tour of Boston on Sunday evening. I swear this is the best way to see a City. I’ve done them now in Montreal and Shanghai. Maybe I should start one for weekends in Baltimore, huh?

We’re heading to New York today. I’m going to visit with family and see off Elizabeth before she heads to the west coat. I’m also meeting with the couple I’ll be marrying in September. Oh, and pizza. I’m going to eat A LOT of pizza. Multiple times in 24 hours I’ll be eating pizza.

Miss Celie
Award Winning Blogger and Officiant (I’m testing this out)

Happy Christmas!

Yeah… a week later, LOL. 

I spent Christmas 2011 in Ohio visiting my best friend from middle school and her three daughters. You may remember when we reconnected after 20 years or when I visited them in 2010. Steph and I met in Germany when our families were stationed there. I remember bawling my eyes out on my last night in town I was so upset to be leaving her.

This year when I visited the family in Youngstown, we did the touristy thing in Cleveland.

There, I froze my pajamas off by Lake Erie.For real. FREEZING. I now know what ‘Lake Effects’ mean.

We hit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Loved every single minute of it. I love history and music and this was a perfect meld.

After four hours at the Hall of Fame, we had lunch at the West Side Market. By far my favorite public market is Pike Place in Seattle. But, this is a close second.

I couldn’t get enough of the pasta shop. Mmmm. Pasta.

I don’t have children and I’m the youngest in my family. So, I’ve never experienced the Christmas Morning Wake Up. But, with a 6, 11 and 15 year old around, my presence was requested far earlier than I would have gotten up on my own.

Christmas is seriously magical for kids. I didn’t realize that until now. All that double talk about Santa. I didn’t want to be the one to spoil the ‘secret’.

And, now I’m back home.  I’ll be doing my 2011 recap as soon as I get a new keyboard. What’s that? New keyboard? Yeah. I spilled wine on my iMac keyboard just before leaving town. It is kaput for real. A new one is coming soon and I’ll be able to update on other projects.

Atlanta Wedding

I’m back from my 36 hour Atlanta adventure. I was there for a traditional Indian / Hindu wedding of a dear friend. I was SO EXCITED to go to this wedding because I’ve never been to an Indian wedding. And, it lived up to all my expectations!

We should probably discuss the fact that I am going to be wearing a sari whenever feasible for the forseeable future. I just wanted to grab fabric and start running! They are stunning.

The ceremony started at 7:30 on Friday morning and took place at a Hindu temple in Atlanta.

We had to take our shoes off. I planned ahead and got a pedicure:) But, I did scramble to scratch off my Payless Shoe Source price tag from the sole…

During the trip, I was able to stay with Bhoomhika of Wearable Toile, who first introduced the bride and I last fall (what was I thinking with that red hair??).

She was kind of enough to loan me a traditional garment (I know it’s not a sari, but I don’t recall the name).

Do you look Bhoomhika’s sari? It was such a pleasure watching her mom help her dress.

The ceremony was beautiful, spiritual and I was absolutely engrossed.

And the bride… the bride took my breath away

Can we talk about how cool her entrance was? She was carried in a basket by her uncles.

Later that night was the reception

Unfortunately, I don’t have a good photo of me in the yellow vintage ensemble which I wore to the reception.

But, it was a fun wear and I can’t wait to break it out again. Oh, and you can be sure I will be wearing a bindi whenever and wherever I can.

So, I’m back home and it’s C-O-L-D. Brrrrrr. I’m starting to think my red trench is not as bad as I thought. And, I may sew up the already cut warmer to get a bit more wear out of it. Thanks for all the feedback:) It’s definitely growing on me.

Bicycles in the Netherlands

To answer a few questions about the actual cycling

Melissa asked about our boat, the Liza Marlen. Melissa, I have failed you. I didn’t take many photos of the actual boat. But, there were several bike and barge tours during the same time as ours.


I should have taken a photo of my bedroom. It was so *teeny* that I walked in and was puzzled trying to figure out where the rest of the room was. Luckily Trena and I didn’t have to share as originally planned because the room could not have held both of our suitcases. But, you were hardly in the room so it barely mattered.

Thanks to Darci and Marie-Christine, I rewashed my clothes a few times with vinegar and borax and am odor free! I’m also tracking down Biz on another commenter’s suggestion.

Toby asked how windy was it. Well, it’s windy! It’s true Holland is relatively flat. But, the wind can make cycling hard.

I managed not to ride on the super windy day (I rode the boat into Amsterdam so I would have time to go to the Dutch Resistance Museum and the Rijksmuseum). But, I got a feel for it biking and I was glad I didn’t have my cape. I could just see myself blowing across the road in to a canal like a sailboat!

Weather: I was cold at night and by the end of the trip wished I had brought an actual coat with a scarf. Brrrr.

Riding: Well, I rode five out of the seven days and did fine. I was only sore on one day. I was in the middle of the pack of riders. And, oddly enough was more comfortable the times I had to ride in the street with cars than I was on the bike path. I guess that’s what I’m used to! I did ride to and from work on Friday and it was the first time I wasn’t wiped out and breathless on my all uphill ride home. So, I guess I did actually get some conditioning in while I was gone.

Now, on to the meat of this post!

I cannot express to you how many bicycles there are in Holland. And, how everyone, and I mean everyone rides one. In fact, there are 16 million bikes in the Netherlands and 16.5 million people. So seriously, everyone has a bike. I asked Sigrid when do children start learning to ride and she said, ‘As soon as they can walk!”

There are barges to carry bicycles and cars across the canals


Here is the bicycle parking lot


What makes the Netherlands an ideal biking country is the intricate bicycle network and infrastructure. Here’s an example

Above, you can see seperate signage pointing bicycles in the right direction and telling you how far something is

There are certain elements to Dutch (Oma) bike that I wanted in my new bike (the Trek Allant). These included fenders, stepthrough frame and an upright position. My actual Gazelle bike in the Netherlands was so heavy I actually could not lift it. But, because of the non hilly terrain you wouldn’t event know.

Prior to my trip I ordered several panniers (one set not pictured) that Sigrid kindly agreed to accept delivery of for me. They were on sale there and with the free shipping ended up being almost half the price as they are here in the US.

These has enclosed clips that allow me to easily attach them to my back rack.

This summer I’ll make some skirt gaurds too.

These prevent your skirt or coat from getting caught in the back wheel

And now, I have got to start working on a dress for the Seersucker Social in DC. Just two weeks away!

Please, treat the artwork with respect

Because of usually high temps (which were a boon for us) the field of tulips I remembered never materialized. Because of the warmth, the tulips bloomed early. But, happily there were still some in the fields.

This also made me realize it was 23 years to the same Mother’s Day weekend I had been in the Netherlands the first time! I remember because I bought my mom roses and a black corduroy  skirt from a flea market. I think she still has the skirt actually.

I think the memory of the tulips all those years ago cemented them as my favorite flowers.

Luckily we stopped at Keukenhof where the curators were keeping the flowers alive out of doors and inside a massive greenhouse / display.

They had displays up in a pagent manner for different dresses.

*cough*  I may have stood in line to pose with  in the wedding dress.

There were many tulips to see at the gardens which were beautifully curated

My favorite memory of the garden though is this sculpture and sign.

Click to enlarge

“Please. Treat the artwork with respect.”

You know, don’t tease the artwork because it’s not Michaelangelo’s David! It’s not the scultpure’s fault he wasn’t made into the Thinker. Not everyone can be Lady Justice! Show some respect! Heh. I know. I’m juvenile.

In Which I Eat My Way Through Holland

How can you travel without eating any and everything? Plus, I convinced myself that biking each day would cancel out all the foods I planned to inhale.

My first foray into Dutch food was a big fat serving of  frites with mayonaise. Possibly this was something I ate almost daily. I’m not sold on the mayo, but ketchup wasn’t hard to come by.

On board the boat, we were also treated to amazing Indonesian food and a special breakfast of crepes and poffertjes. The poffertjes were so good that when I got together with sewing friends on Saturday, we sought them out at the open air market.

Poffertjes, little puffy pancakes served with powder sugar or syrup.

Trena and I both caved for stroopwafels. Now,  I’ve had them pre-packed from Trader Joe’s so I had a sense of what they would be like.

But, let me tell you that popping hot fresh ones made to order are the things dreams are made from.

Our last night’s dinner was at Bolhoed (the Dutch word for a bowler hat) in Amsterdam.

I had the Bolhead special with fresh white Dutch asparagus. Can I just tell you I bought strawberries at the market that actually tasted sweet and like strawberries?!?

A dining companion went with the quiche.

Trena, had chocolate.

I’m also happy to report that beer costs as much as bottled water in the restaurants. I don’t actually like beer so I thought I’d try a lambic. Trena thinks it tasted like cough syrup.

How Do We Know Each Other? Oh, You Know. The Internet.

Our fellow travelers asked Lynn, Trena and I how we knew each other. It was great fun explaining PatternReview.com and how we had friends in the Netherlands. We gathered together in a little town called Nieuwport. How cute is this City Hall? The canal flows right underneath.

It really warms your heart to know how generous our community is. Really. These days, isn’t the most precious gift time?  I was looking forward to this ALL week. And not in that, ‘What will we talk about? What will we do? I hope they like me!” kind of looking forward. But, the ‘Woot! Woot! I’m going to see long lost friends!!” looking forward.

I was rather sad about missing PR Weekend in Chicago last weekend. It looks like it was the biggest turnout ever. But, honestly? This was just as good!
I had the pleasure of first meeting up with Sigrid, JoanaMarta, Hilde in a little town called Nieuwport. And truly, when you start talking, you feel like you’ve known them forever. I also learned that in the Netherlands, you greet with three kisses on the cheek. You can believe I’m going to be whipping that one out  at my next greeting.

Lynn, Trena and I joined them for some espressos, tea and wine.

Joana wanted our opinion on some handbags she crafted. I tried to buy the velvet bag Sigrid is holding below but Joana wasn’t selling them yet.

The time flew! The next thing I knew it was minutes to 10:00 p.m.! We’d kept them out all night.

I have to go on the record here to say that there is nothing better than traveling overseas and meeting people you ‘know’ that you never thought you would actually meet. It shows you how small the world is and how far reaching the internet has become. This is officially my thing. Wither I goest, you will be called / e-mailed / stalked until you agree to meet with me. I really cannot express how much I enjoyed my evening.

Plus, we left with magazines!

I’ll post about our second rendezvous seperately which was a visit to Kantje Boord. Be still my heart.