Oh it’s on baby

This pic is all I’m going to get to see of Williamsburg on this trip…

It’s holiday travel time and I tried to find a post I’d done ages ago with my personal helpful hints for the occasional traveller.  I can’t find it though and it’s probably fatigue, so I’ll make up a new and improved simple travel hint list:

1.  Check in online as soon as possible (usually 24 hours before your departure).  Any seat is better than no seat on an oversold flight.

2.  Check your bag.  I know, you have to pay to check it but your life will be so much easier.  Also please keep in mind that you can check your carryon sized bag at the gate FOR FREE if you didn’t heed my advice and now see the error of your ways.  It goes to baggage claim and if you’re connecting give the agent the connection information.

3.  If you can’t lift your bag, don’t bring it aboard.  I know that you want me to lift it for you, but I work 3 to 4 flights a day, there are 200 people on the plane and my company won’t pay me workman’s comp for bag lifting injuries.  I have tendonitis in both arms and a bad shoulder from all the lifting over the years, so please be mindful of what you’re bringing aboard.

4.  If there is something you absolutely need (medicine, food, pillow, blanket, magazines, earplugs) for a comfy flight, please bring that item with you.  I have none of those things to give you and cursing me out will only get you removed from the airplane.  Remember that domestic flights no longer serve food in coach, there may be food for sale, but don’t count on that.  Stop in the airport for a sandwich or bring one from home.  You can bring food through security, just not liquids.  You CAN bring your empty water bottle through security and fill it up at the airport drinking fountain.  I just don’t have enough water provisioned onboard to fill up your gallon Nalgene jug.  I wish I did, but I don’t.

5.  Allow plenty of time to get through security and expect there will be lines.  Despite what you read and hear on those awful “news” channels, you will probably not notice any difference in procedure at the security checkpoint.  Follow the TSA’s instructions about shoes and belts, take your laptops out and for heaven’s sake, that $4.99 in small change in your pocket IS going to set off the alarm so leave it in the piggy bank at home.

6.  Be nice.  Please be nice to your travel companions, fellow passengers and airport staff.  A please and thank you really go a long way.

7.  You are not alone.  There is one flight attendant for every 50 passengers and that call light is for emergencies (i.e. you’re sick, smell smoke or see fire).  Also remember that planes are dirty and disgusting.  Wear closed shoes and long pants.  I’m not kidding.  Don’t take off your shoes and walk around the airplane (EWWW) and bring a jacket.  Planes are cold, except for that one in 50 that’s way too warm.  Layers are your friend when travelling.

8.  Please don’t tell me about “how it used to be” in 1963.  The world has moved on and those $39 fare sales were financed by the 40% paycut I took in 2003.  If you are still nostalgic, read this WSJ article.

I could go on, but you get the idea.  Just plan ahead for your needs, allow enough time for the travel process and get in the right frame of mind.  You’re travelling for a reason (to be with people you love) so keep sight of that reason.  If you don’t know if you can bring something the TSA website has guidelines as well as your airline’s website.  Safe travels friends!

It’s a muslin

I know this dress looks like Mad Men meets Little House on the Prairie, but rest assured – it’s only a muslin.  That means it’s a test fit for the non-sewing crowd.  I know you can’t see the details in this super busy print, but there are front and back darts and a waist seam.  Not much crazy sewing to this dress, but it’s a simple sheath dress.  I don’t have one in my wardrobe so I thought I’d dig in the stash and make one.

In fact, using stash was my self imposed “rule” so the pattern is from one of my old issues of Burda Style magazine, the fabric I’ll use for the “real” dress is a black wool blend that’s been aging patiently and the lining will be stash too, so don’t expect that to match.  Fingers crossed I have a black zipper in the zipper box

The fit was pretty good with this pattern, just a bit too big.  I’ve pinned out the extra at the sides and will take out a smidge at the back waist to get rid of the back ripply top bit (the red thing is my sports bra peeking out where I couldn’t reach the pinning).  That should do it.  Easy “alterations” and my serger is still threaded with black thread from the “skirt who will not be named project from heck” that was trashed.

Let me anticipate some questions:  I don’t know why I bought this cotton material – it’s a bit fugly ain’t it?  It makes a nice muslin though, so kudos there.  No, I have no need for a new dress as I don’t wear the ones I currently own, but why not since all the materials are to hand.  And finally, yes I think it’s weird that Prince William gave Waity Katie his mother’s engagement ring AS an engagement ring.  Bad juju on that one.  Anything else for the oracle?

Fails, snails and automobiles

I’d hoped to show you finished pix of a cute skirt I’d made, but it was such a horror show that I’m super glad it’s trash night tomorrow.  No joke.  At least the fabric wasn’t expensive.  Lesson learned.

Instead I’ll share the excitement of sleeve number 1 from my grey Nordic yoke sweater.  Elizabeth Zimmermann is so right when she says in Knitting Without Tears that the body will take some time, so start a sleeve.  Too true, that body better fit ok or I may go nuts if I have to rip and reknit.  Again.

The more delicious part of my above photo mashup is the Pumpkin Cranberry Bread I made the other day.  It’s so easy and so yummy, I’d suggest you bookmark this recipe.  Just saying, and it gets better every day (what’s this unheard of cake ageing thing?).  And it’s not too sweet, which is so perfect with coffee.

My next sewing project is a simple sheath dress which hopefully won’t end up in the trash bin.  The muslin has been cut, so tomorrow we shall see if I can fit that mofo into something resembling a flattering garment.  If not, at least it’s trash day.

Knits, not knitting


I’m calling this one a “maybe”.  I didn’t realize before making this top that it’s asymmetrical, I thought it would be more “mock wrap”.  There is also more shirring than I realized, with ruching at the side right seam and left princessline.  This pattern is from Burda Magazine 6/2008 #124.  You can’t tell from the magazine picture that the hemline isn’t straight, and you can’t tell from the pattern pieces either.  Surprise!

What I do especially like is the V-neck.  I’d not done one using the tutorials I previously linked to, but that method works well for V-necks as well as round necks.  I’ll probably wear this top and the material was under $5, so I’ll rate this as a strong maybe for the win.

If babies are small….

…then why do baby blankets take such an age to make?

There is a baby boom in my circle at present, so my mind has turned to appropriate baby gift thingies. I have never been one to see a baby as an occasion to make things.  To my mind, babies are messy (not their fault I know) and fine hand knits are just wasted on them.  They need sturdy, washable items from TJ Maxx, which is usually what I give to harried new parents.

I also explicitly give my friends instructions to have female children since girl clothes are really much cuter.  Absolutely no one listens to me on this score, so the humans arriving early next year are all boys.  Argh!

I began this baby blanket the other day after seeing some cute versions on Rav of the Moderne Baby Blanket pattern.  I also saw some hideous versions of the pattern, but we will not be discussing those.  The versions I liked best were symmetrical and graphic, rather than a hodgepodge.  I decided to try a color progression version and see how I liked it.  So far I’m “meh” on it (needs some pink), but I’ll stick it out until I run out of yarn and see what we’ve got.

That brings me to another question:  how big is a baby blanket traditionally supposed to be?  I see patterns for little ones and some others would be suitable to swaddle a baby elephant.  What’s up with that?  I suspect my version will be on the small side since I’ve not got a huge amount of interest in swaddling an elephant.

Squash and such


What’s with the crazy looking pic?  It’s the Hipstamatic app meets my lunch.

After seeing Stephanie’s soupy freezer cache the other day, I knew it was time for me to use that red kuri squash that’s been sitting on my counter for two weeks.  I mean, it’s cooling down and may not even make it to 70 today.  I know!

I found several yummy recipes to try.  A nice sounding squash gratin, an easy baked squash and the winning soup

I didn’t change the recipe too much ingredient-wise.  I nuke my squash (whole – as it comes – no poking) for 6 minutes so it’s a kind of cooked and cuttable.  I let it cool, cut it open and cleaned out the seeds and scooped out the squashmeat (is that a word?).  I used chicken broth instead of vegetable broth and a granny smith apple.  BTW, my cinnamon is a totally superior kind (Penzy’s Extra Fancy Vietnamese), but don’t worry the cinnamon in the recipe doesn’t overpower the soup, it’s a nice addition.  I also added a tablespoon or two of medium dry sherry at the finish for extra depth of flavor.

What I did change was how I made the soup.  Since my squash was nuked and pretty much cooked, I just carmelized my onions, added the apple for a bit and dumped the rest of the ingredients in the pot and let it simmer about 20 minutes.  Pretty much my usual soup MO.  The stick blender did the rest and I’ve got soup for now and some in the freezer.  Bring on those mid 60 degree days!

Here’s some upside

One good thing to come out of the horror show that was last week, is that I’m done with Maia!  I didn’t have much more to do on the scarf-like thing, so I buckled down and finished it.  I blocked it out on my new Thomas the Tank Engine puzzle mat (I use the blank side, thanks for asking) and voila!  Big old blob of scarf!  Please note I was too lazy to block in points on the outer perimeter.  Maybe next time.

Since I’ll never wear this slung over my shoulders like some sort of nana, I thought I’d show you how Maia will be seen 99.9% of the time.  Yes, the only thing most folks will ever see of Maia are the wings peeping out of my winter jacket.  Here is the view from the puffer jacket.  Puffer cam, as it were.  This is the same puffer jacket that saved my bippy from freezing to death on Rhinebeck Saturday.  Brrr….

That said, it’s still summer where I live.  I’m glad about that so this pretty scarf will get the closet treatment for a few more weeks.  Though I see we may not make it to 80 degrees today, so maybe I’ll need Maia before too long after all.