Baby Mouse Wants to Play, Too.

She came to be almost 6 months ago, and if she knew she wasn't even mentioned in this blog, she'd be pissed.  Although, to be fair, nothing's been mentioned in this blog in about 6 months, give or take (give) the last two long months of pregnancy where I couldn't feel my ribs anymore and nothing seemed fun.  

She went from this tiny, unimpressed, lip pursing creature (that we were all scared of):

To this:

Still tiny, but a whole little person, with a personality, likes (Mr Snork, baths, her toes), dislikes (she changes these up frequently to keep me on my toes, but always greeted with a ridiculous for her size angry grunt), and all types of skills (that we're still scared of, but not as much). 

Like this whole foot in the mouth business.  She couldn't do this couple weeks ago.  I got probably 80 shots on my camera during this toe discovery business.  My hard drive at 6 months post partum is groaning with the weight of thousands of baby pictures.  Some taken in continuous action mode.  Which makes me think, I have a couple pictures of my great grandma.  Baby Mouse's great-grandchildren will be able to see her every day since birth, until Mr Snork confiscates my camera, like he's been threatening. 

She's amazing all over, of course, because I  m a d e  her (with some help from Mr Snork) but she has been particularly amazing in two respects.  One is her standing.  She started doing it at about 4 weeks old, she'd straighten herself  and we thought it was gas, until it turned out she just really likes to stand upright.  At about the same time we learned that she did not like being cradled, which to this day, makes for a feeding challenge. 

And the other is her face.   She's been giving us dirty looks from Day 1.  They say babies can't focus well the first couple weeks..  I'm here to tell you, if there's was a reason to focus (milk not in mouth soon enough) she managed to focus.  I read an article that said tiny babies don't know what hunger is, and they don't know when it hits, that their parents will be there shortly to relieve it, hence the massive freak out.  She may not know I'll be there to relieve it, but she looks at me like she KNOWS I could've been there sooner.  It's pretty amazing.  And, for Mr Snork, there are also looks of complete and utter adoration.  The first bunch of actual, real smiles were actually directed at Mr Snork.  Of course.  And his ribs didn't even feel a thing.  Typical.

Please welcome Baby Mouse (formerly referred to as Strawberry. Turns out she's less of a fruit and more of a tiny animal in person.)  My new, tiny, adorable, temperamental sidekick.  Who loves her Papa a little more than me, but I'm not bitter or anything.  It's probably a baby thing. 


The Nesting Mode is a Terrible Thing

When you have ADD. 

We got back from our late honeymoon, and the long stay at the hotel has inspired me.

 .. To throw away everything I own.   There's something about living in an empty hotel room, out of a bag with 3 dresses (and 9 bathing suits) that was really, really appealing.   This seemed really simple until I got home and remembered I really *like* all the crap I have.  But, my God.. there's so much stuff.  

So far I have simply resorted to randomly throw away various pieces of clothing as I fold laundry.  I have to be quick about it, because if they linger in a plastic 'donate' bag by the door too long, I eventually talk myself into keeping it for refashioning, using the fabric for something else.. a dusting rag..  etc.   I think what the problem *really* is, is that I do not have a walk in closet.  Clearly.

The kitchen also got hit, and I managed to toss all the ratty old spatulas, and the 5 sets of measuring cup sets.  As well as 800 packets of soy sauce.  Then I thought, what if we go camping, spur of the moment, and make rice.. and I'll have no soy sauce?!  And then I thought that's exactly how I end up with 800 packets of soy sauce, and that if I served it with rice while camping, Mr Snork would refuse to eat it anyway, citing health concerns, FDA guidelines, and average life expectancy of people who scavenge for food at the bottooms of their kitchen drawers. 

I did, however, keep the 200 ketchup packets, because parting with two perfectly edible things at once might seriously scar my psyche. 

I have also stripped down the living room curtains, and made Mr Snork put up a traverse rod we've had for ages, and am now working on making the sheers into austrian shades, of sort.  I was pretty sure getting the rod hanging was the major obstacle, but it's now been 4 curtain-less days, and an unreasonable sunny/hot living room.  Oops.

I am waiting for the mail ordered sheer austrian tape.   Had I known the sheer type can only be gotten online, Mr Snork might have gotten an extension.   Something tells me it's going to be a disaster.  Horizontal gathers just seem wrong.  I mean, I found some really good pictures online, but my sheers are looking at me with a smug smirk that tells me they will not go down easily.  It's not just their attidude, either.  I used some opaque white tape JoAnn Fabric carries for the edges, and the sheers curved in mutinously.  Something tells me that adding 5-6 more segments is not going to improve the situation.   Good thing I got a load of drapery weights at a yard sale for a nickel.  Fingers crossed.

In addition this, I'm re-making the curtains to add heading tape, pleats, hooks, etc.  This requires piecing panels together, by hand;  so, mostly, I've been staring at a giant pile of curtain.  I have a sore back that's not conducive to hours of hand sewing.  I'm contemplating Stitch-Witchery, or some other iron on adhesive.   Horrifying as it may be, it might be the only way these curtains will go up before Strawberry gets here.

Speaking of whom, I have to paint her room.  Green, with bubbles?  Or flowers?  And, may be a monkey.  Might have to stencil the monkey..   She's also going to need curtains.  I'm waiting for Mr Snork to rip out the carpet and put down flooring in that room.  He's seriously lagging on his nesting syndrome, because I sense no sense of urgency about him whatsoever.  Although, he is remarkably good at humoring me, so there's that.  Had I said today I need that room painted purple, hire an artist to paint a castle, and need him to get into the walls to wire some lights into said castle, I swear, he wouldn't bat an eyelash.  He'd pretend to look up castle painting artists adn their credentials and lay low, waiting for the nightmare to pass.

AND, in a truly exciting development, I think I have tracked down the T-Mobile dress reincarnation.  What do you think:

And, this, from McCall (#6029) with a fluffiier skirt:

Well, it's close enough.  It's closer than the other 'reincarnation' I procured on Ebay:

 Might have to make both.  After the curtains.  And room painting.  And shady sheers.  And a quilt I am making...  (true story).  And, of course, the wedding thank you cards.  (Insert very ashamed smiley face)

And, only, like, 6 weeks to go till Strawberry!  (Who is no longer breech, after 9 days of 4-hour-a-day snorkeling schedule). 


Vogue 8438 Complete!

The previous attempt to shame myself into finishing the coat has been successfull.  It's missing the snaps, or more likely, hooks that I'll use for closure, because I'd like to be able to put it on before I position them.  And I am about 3 months from being able to put it on.  

I also hadn't topstitched the two front panels, because I haven't decided if I want to do a running stitch by hand instead of a machine stitch (in pink!).   I added a belt thingy in the back, and had topstitched the edges, so if I decide to hand stitch the front, the back would have to be re-done to match. 


I love the 'flower petal collar'.  I wanted it tighter around my neck, to make it warmer for the windy Chicago/NorCal trips, and I wasn't sure how to do that, so I just added 1/2" all around the neckline.  It worked beautifully.

 I also moved in the princess seams 1/2" in towards the center by redrafting the side front pieces [wider] and the cetner front pieces [narrower].  In retrospect, I should have done it for the back as well.

I lined it in some rad $1 JoAnn's clearance Simply Silky print I had laying around.  It was a little vile to work with, but I love the end result.  I used the Threads tutorial on bagging the lining, instead of the pattern direction to leave it hanging free, though I left an opening at bottom for outside pleat. 

It's also interlined with cotton flannel.  A giant industrial sized bolt of it that I got for $3 at a garage sale, while Mr Snork kicked and screamed, and that has been an endless supply of interlining for all drapes in my house, and now this jacket.  I cut the pieces with lining, and serged the lining + interlining edges together, and then worked with with them as one piece.  I omitted the center back pleat in the interlining though, it was looking a little bulky.   Mr Snork gifted me my clothing labels, and I used a scrap of raw silk to 'frame it' a la RTW stuff:

I drafted a back facing piece for a more RTW look, and to offset the 6 layers of collar/interfacing/coat that it was to be sewn onto.  I had a hard time pressing seams because of the 'velvet like' pile of the uncut cordiroy, but I think they turned out OK.  I used sew-in interfacing, heavy for the collar band and medium for the facings, but I wish I had used something even more burly for the collar band.   Although it falls kinda nicely as is:

It feels nice and heavy like a jacket should, and I am pretty pleased with the end result.  I think a matching hat is in order.  Lined in same bright fabric.  I wonder what type of a hat wouldn't have a hard time competing with a giant collar.  Would a matching purse be too much?  :D 


Phases of a Project (that lead to its failure)

 - OMG!  Look at this pattern!  I must make it immediately.  (Vogue 8438, currently)

 - Stalking and purchase of all related materials, that aren't already stockpiled during the weekend dumpstering sprees. 

 - Hanging up the material in some prominent spot, to look at and envision the coat once it's made.  Reading pattern instructions 8 times, and meticulously preparing.

 - Making of the muslin. 

That's when it kind of start falling apart.  I'm really driven to make it, cause it's going to be super awesome, and I'm going to wear it everywhere.  Then, once a muslin comes together, it's like, "Oh, there you are.  I see.  Next." 

In this case, I still wanted to see the finished coat in the purple cordiroy, so I pressed on.  But once that came together, it's like ADD kicks in, and I will do anything but finish.    It has taken more than 3 weeks now to complete the lining.  During which I have:

 - gone camping, and taught my little brother about intricacies of riding a dirt bike:

That was fun, except a brief episode where he got either stabbed by an evil plant or bitten by a rattlesnake, and we didn't know which.. (evil plant must have won, since his arm was still intact after the longest. 20. minutes.  ever.)

- Mutliated an unused bridesmaids' dress I had hanging around from my wedding into a Princess Aurora skirt for giraffy (to gallop in a race in, of all things):

(Some gold bias tape and a bit of sparkly kitchen curtain really princessed it up!)

- Possibly inspired by giraffy, taken up running again.  Really, really slow running.  That looks a lot like walking from distance.  But supplemented by swimming.  I heard this speeds up labor.  And I'm pretty freaked out about the whole labor/birth thing.  Plus, the 'Diet-Cause I'm Puky' phase was replaced byt the  'Eat EVERYthing' phase somewhere in the 5th month, and it's not pretty.  I actually have walked into the gym on several occasions, shaking out the remainder of Chocolate Chex cereal from the bag into my mouth.. 

 - And, finally, taken up golfing, having found a brand new set of (puprle) golf clubs at the S-Boutique, to replace ones I lost somewhere. 

I will say Strawberry does not enjoy golfing.  No matter how gracefully I tried to squat when setting up the balls. 

And, then, there was the 50's dress obsession, and Ebay/Etsy stalkage of any and all 50's patterns that I might find appealing, despite the fact that Vogue 8438 has been spread out on my dinner table, effectively preventing anyone from eating dinner there for a month now. 

Additionally, during the super excited stage, I decide to make all these additions and modifications to the garment, which surpass my sewing skills by leaps.. and then seams start to not match up, it gets really frustrating, and I frolick off to consider other, more pleasing projects.


I'm hoping to shame myself into finishing it, by posting a public goal.  The coat itself is done.  Unless I want to add pockets, which I decided I might want..  The lining is done if you don't count the sleeves.  ALL that is left (other than the unfortunate pockets) is the sleeves, and then joining them into one garment. 

I added the insert in back with label, to mimic the RTW coats.  The lining fabric was in my stash from a previous JoAnn's clearance, and it's slippery, ravels on eye contact, and absolutely vile to work with, but I loved the colors..  I chose to interline the coat in cotton flannel, which is super ...bendy.   I cut it and the lining in one go, and by the time I turn around, the underlining is a totally different shape.   All these contribute to its undone-ness.

Anyway.  I would like to finish this coat tonight.  Not for wearability - there's no room for a 7 month Strawberry-belly in it, but as a matter of decency. 


Obsession Du Jour: Impractical Dresses

What's a girl to do to pass time once she sprouts a formidable 6 month fetus belly?  Why, shop for hourglass figure dresses, of course.  And it's all TMobile's fault.

I saw one in their commercial (with whom I'm not even on speaking terms, because their upgrade policy is awful.  New customers get shiny, pretty phones, and meanwhile, my Blackberry looks like it suffered a from a 5 story window.  Twice.  Into a dump truck.  With tree mulching capabilities.)  But, their insistence on charging me hundreds of dollars for a new phone is less annoying than putting pretty dresses on their TV models, and having me find out they were custom made. 

I don't recall how exactly, but this has led to a massive, unreasonable in its span, search for 50's dresses on Ebay, Etsy, this weekends' yard sales and favorite GMarts.  It's still ongoing.  I am seeing a whole lot of ugly 80's, and none of pretty 50's. 

Meanwhile, I might have purchased this:

Which I was hoping to alter into the TMobile dress, but there pretty buttons in the back:

Mr Snork has repeatedly expressed his hope that if I *were* to wear this out (he says incredulously) I would "at least take those sleeves off".   If he keeps it up, I'm gonna wear it, with sleeves, to his office to drop off lunch. 

Also currently stalking this wrap dress:

Not a huge fan of the colouring, but I want to make one like it, out of some fabric I have, that's scary close to the cabbage rose pattern fabric in the above dress. 

And, possibly this one:

The front!!

So, essentially, not only has TMobile wronged me in their handling of my phone needs, I am now possibly three dresses deep into a dress, and the toll is rising, since none of them so far look anything like THE dress.   Which is fine, really, cause I can't fit into anything with a waist for another 3 months, and it's questionable thereafter, with the amount of cake I have been throwing down my throat.    Stupid TV. 


Pelmeni - Siberian Potstickers

I have finally found a perfect dough recipe that must be documented for my (and possiby yours?) future use.  Typically, the dough part leaves me rockign back and forth in the corner at the end of the night.  It's either too sticky, or too crumbly, too stretchy, or not stretchy apart.  Ghastly, really.

I picked this up off a Russian message board, where a woman allegedly got it from an old Siberian babushka.  After seeing 70 more women chime in, I figured I had nothing to lose.  If it failed, I'll resort to eating crappy dough or buying them at $8 a package (small package) at the Russian gorcery shop. 

Stories have it that in the old times a village would gather to make these potsticker type things for the winter.  They would then store them in their cold attics and survive a winter on them.  My mom used to make the family gather, because traditionally, to do them entirely by hand, you do need a small army.   (Of obedient children, typically)

I cheat, with a little aluminium form.  The look isn't quite the same, but it cuts prep time by 2/3rds, if you're working alone.

For the magical, possibly Siberian dough:
half cup hot water
half cup hot water with tablespoon of full fat sour cream dissolved.  (Or just half cup milk)
3 cups flour
tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp olive/vegetable/sunflower oil

For filling:
1/2 lb beef
1/2 lb pork
one (grated) onion
salt and pepper

I made a mountain of 3 cups of flour on the table, with a well in the middle, into which an egg is dropped, with the hot water/milk mixture and salt and kneaded a quick doug.   I've watched my grandma do this, so I like the tabletop method, but a bowl is probably safer.  Less space for a runny milky floury egg disaster that way.  I know this for a fact.. 
I wiped tiny bit of oil on top of the dough ball, and stuck it in a plastic bag to hang out at room temperature for 40 minutes.  When it came out of the bag, it was like dough magic.  I didn't even need to knead it anymore. 

The rest is..

The thinner the better.  About 2mm is just right. 

 This was my last batch, so I have some empty spaces in the form.  The recipe yielded 4 forms of pelmeni.

It needs a tap to get them to come out.

They hang out on a floured baking sheet in the freezer for a few minutes, until the dough gets hard enough to pile them into plastic bags for storage.

I drop them in salted boiling water (with bay leaf) and 7 minutes later, plus some sour cream - dinner is served. 


And then this bird...

Mr Snork pulled off the I-5 to drop into our favorite GMart in Laguna Niguel, and there, along the off ramp, was the most beautiful stork looking bird.  Like this one:

Except, not by a lake, and far from the ocean.  Well, a 10 minute flight anyway.  I get super frantic, trying to figure out how to rescue the clearly lost confused bird.  (By stuffing in it in the back of the trucklet, of course, and taking it down to Dana Point swamps, from which we just came, and where it clearly belongs. )

Mr Snork, who's gotten creepy good at mind reading, gets frantic in turn, with, "Do you know what will happen to us with that bird in the vehicle??!"  He's also gotten wicked good with thwarting any good plan I have, and generally raining on my parades.   He got downright dramatic with, "It'll peck our eyes out, and beat us with its wings and claws".  Seriously.  I mean, it's a bird.  How hard could it be.  We could keep the windows open, and the wind G forces should keep it in the back.  

So, I try to appeal to his apparently nonexistant humanitarian side - He's lost!  And confused!  Look at him!!  His beak is made for fish, and here he is, on the side of the highway.  He is sad, and hungry, and he needs to be taken to a swamp, to eat!  

In all fairness, it really did look out of place, stalking around gingerly,  like he was trying to step around broken glass and cigarette butts, shaking his tiny head..  Until.. and phawk if, in the middle of my bird saving tirade, he didn't gracefully bend his tiny sad head into the grass, and come up with the biggest mouse ever.  With a wiggling tail, and everything.  And ATE it, with his skinny fish beak, and delicate throat, that apparently expands to fit mice size of sewer rats. 

The look Mr Snork gave me as the light turned green was something special.  I can tell my credibility as a wildlife expert has suffered a setback today it might take years to recover from, to say the least.


Vogue 8438 Part II (The Good)

Coming together. 

Kinda nicely.  Especially on Nora, who still has a waist..

I tried to use the bias tape sleeve setting method I picked up on Gertie's sewing blog, but somehow failed and they still look 'gathered' at the caps.  Could be because for lack of other wool materials, I used a stretchy old sock.  It acted like an elastic would..

Channeling skinny thoughts to Strawberry:

I just noticed another bit of unfairness in the pattern illustration.  The drawing's neck sticks out for a good 3" out of the collar.  I have decided this is an anatomical impossibility, unless you are part swan.  Or giraffe. 

Their drawings really bug me. 

The waist still hasn't been moved up, and the whole thing needs to be lengthened, but I'm thinking it's Bright Purple Cordiroy time!


Vogue 8438, Part I (The Ugly)

I had all these dresses I meant to make, to take advantage of my new temporary boob situation, empire waists, strappy, good for belly, good for boobs, etc.  Then I came across (during pattern sale) and decided I must. make. this coat.

Even though it's fitted, and therefore progressively less and less wearable for the next at least 4 months.    By then it'll be June, in SoCal, so, can safely add another 3 months.  I think it was the giant collar that drew me in.  And, when there was a corresponding purple cordiroy in the clearance isle, it was like it's meant to be, so I set out to make pretty coat. 

The instructions seemed easy, easier than dress bodice instructions, actually.  So, I thought I'd cut a straight size 12 and see where we go from there.   Here's take one:

I mean.  No words are needed.  Even if we ingored the uni-sleeve (what was the point of doing the other one at this point..), and the collar that I pressed wrong (it doesn't need to be pressed at all), and stitched on wrong twice, and the belly.  Mr Snork sensing a huge meltdown, kindly volunteered himself to rip the seam the second time.   I should have lined up the center front together for the picture, but I was pretty sure I will never sew again, and didn't really feel like documenting this last adventure.  It didn't make much difference anyway, it hung like a bathrobe.

Here's a back view. 

Sensing my sizing was a little off, I asked Mr Snork to put it on.  -->
It actually looked like it had potential on him.  (Minus the collar.  It would look good on nobody, ever)
I swore off sewing, and went to bed after this picture.  Pity, too, I wish I had taken more for comparison.   

It even looked terrible on Nora, and nothing, ever, looks bad on Nora.  Everything I have ever made, no matter how crappy on me, has looked spectacular on Nora.  

This morning, I tried to talk myself into just winging it, figuring it's a coat, and therefore, should be baggy.  I *really* want to get into that purple cordiroy.  But then I looked at pattern envelope. 

 I hate when they draw pictures instead of having real people model it. It always gives me hope, like, "well..  that's what it looks like on Barbie.. but, on a *real* person, like me, it should probably look like this.." pan to me wearing a hobo sack, looking hopefully in the mirror, stiffly holding my arms 1" higher in their sockets, to keep the sack from falling off.    

Then I pictured hobo sack in bright purple, and it just didn't do it for me.  A quick scan on PR revealed the 3 people who've made it don't look like potato sack wearers either.  Must not be part of the design element.  Bummer.

Newly energized by the helpful people on PR, who kindly informed me about the princess seams, and where they should lay (not under the armpits), I tore off the offensive muslin collar and trashed it along with the sleeve, tore the bodice down every seam, and redrew a size 10. 

After this picture, I let it out 1/4" at the sides.  I can't really suck in 5 month fetus in enough to gauge what it would look like post baby, but it seemed a wee snug.  I still have to smuggle a lining under there, and I don't like my coats super tight.

There.  I might not give up sewing after all.  The waist needs to be brought up 1/4", and will add 2" or 3" to the length. 

I think I might be OK with it enough to make another collar and a sleeve.  If I managed to make this in the next couple weeks, I might still fit into it at completion time. 

If not, I'll let Nora wear it until next winter.  

Now I'm back to fantasizing about what color lining I can put in.   Bright pink?  Teal?  Green?  Something with frogs on it??