Thursday, April 17, 2014

I Like Breakfast Foods…Just Not for Breakfast

Waffles, pancakes, doughnuts, French toast, hash browns, bacon and sausage, these are all tasty breakfast items, and I like them…just not for breakfast. Most traditional American breakfast foods are just too sweet or too heavy for me first thing in the morning. Even things like yogurt or oatmeal (which tend to be your healthier options) are just not appealing to me.

Truthfully, I don’t think I thought too much about my breakfast options until I was in Japan. Growing up, I ate a lot of cereal for breakfast, and later, toast (and maybe an egg) with my coffee—and I was never really excited about any of these quick breakfast options. However, when I stayed at a traditional Japanese inn they gave everyone the same breakfast tray that had rice with nori, maybe a bit of fish and pickles, and miso soup. And I thought it was great—everything looked and tasted good to me, and I think it was then I realized that I’d been doing breakfast all wrong (at least for me).

Almost always, I want to eat something savory in the morning, and throughout this past winter I ate a lot of soup for breakfast. Perhaps at first glance that’s strange to some people, but I think it’s only because we’ve been conditioned to expect certain foods for breakfast. I like eating leftovers for breakfast because it’s fast and easy and tends to suit my savory appetite. Soup is great because it usually has vegetables in it (which I likely don’t eat enough of) and it isn’t too filling. Chicken noodle soup, butternut squash soup, minestrone, potato leek soup and ox tail soup have all been tasty starts to my day. [Pause.] Although with summer around the corner, soup probably won’t be too appealing; I may switch to salads…

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Vintage Sewing Patterns

Previously I shared about the cool vintage stuff I picked up and here’s the rest of what I got: sewing patterns. They had tons of old sewing patterns (maybe around 100 of them that I probably could have bought for practically nothing since they were trying to get rid of them). But because I don’t need more patterns (and don’t really have room for too many more), I selected my favorites (whether it was because the cute pictures on the front or a desire to actually make the clothes). I got a total of 11 patterns; some have already been cut out and some are still uncut.

Most of the patterns span from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. To me, it was interesting to see the similarities and differences between the older and newer patterns. The older patterns don’t contain multiple sizes—you get the one size you need. And perhaps there are fewer design options within the pattern itself.

Also, it’s interesting to see how the sizes have changed over time. In the oldest pattern I got (from 1965), a size 12’s measurements are: Bust 32, Waist 25 and Hip 34. However, in a pattern that was made 1983, a size 12’s measurements are: Bust 34, Waist 26.5 and Hip 36. This is almost the size of a 1965’s size 14’s measurements (except the waist is a 26).

I’m going to start from the oldest pattern. First up is this cute coat from 1965. I thought it was a dress at first, but no, it’s a coat.

Next is this loose dress from 1967. Truthfully I’m not really into dresses that lack a waist, but I do love the mandarin collar and the buttons that go down the front.

This scallop dress is from 1968. It looks like a very simple dress to make (and it ought to be since it’s a “How to Sew” pattern).

This shirt pattern is from 1968. It’s not terribly exciting looking…it’s just a button down shirt. I thought I’d throw it in my pile of patterns to buy because the drawings were kind of cute.

This pattern has a short and long skirt, very voluminous pants and a very 70’s shirt (just look at that collar); it’s from 1969.

This knit skirt and shirt pattern is from 1972. I think the drawings are adorable; I especially like the girl with the purple scarf.

A simple dress pattern from 1981. I’m not excited about that pink polka dot dress, but I think the gray drawing of the dress is quite lovely.

This dress and jacket pattern is from 1983. That jacket is pretty terrible—it doesn’t look like it fits the model at all. And those dress sleeves…well it was the 80’s. But I think the red dress on the drawing is cute and looks fairly contemporary.

Next up is the blouse pattern from 1986 (that I think screams Designing Women). It’s so 80’s. It seems a bit too voluminous in the body, but I admit, I like these types of lady-like blouses. I would totally wear “A” blouse.

This is the newest pattern I have from 2002. I probably didn’t need to get it. I thought the pants were kind of cute, but I’m not sure I’d ever make them. They lack a waistband, it’s just elastic…

Finally, I could not find the date on this pattern, but it looks like it from the 1980’s. I think the dress is cute…and I’m a sucker for pockets.

I felt like I totally scored on these patterns that I spent a couple of dollars on. Most of them are around my size (although I might have to make some adjustments on them). There’s definitely a couple I’d like to try to make.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Vintage Sewing Stuff and Boxes

It’s always dangerous when I go any place that sells used goods because there’s a good chance I’ll find something to like. I enjoy the randomness of the items that are often happy surprises. Recently I went to a local store and got a good pile of cool stuff for $24 (which made me quite happy).

A good chuck of the stuff I got was sewing related. While I’m not excited about the colors, I really like the packaging on these old bias tapes. They’re so cute. I’m not sure how old they are, but the Wright’s one is 10 cents…so it was a while ago.

Then I got some cool boxes. First up is this old plastic box; I love the soft minty green color and the simple design on the lid. I got a bunch of old sewing patterns as well (that I’ll share in a later post).

I adore this Carter’s Midnight Typewriter Ribbon tin. I love the simple celestial images; it’s such a clean design.

And one of the most interesting things I bought was a blue safety deposit box from The Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company. And the combination lock still works (which is fantastic).

I’m not quite sure how I’ll be using most of these items, but it was too difficult to resist…

Saturday, March 29, 2014

What? Glass Breaks?

Generally I think of myself as a lucky person, or at the very least not unlucky. Perhaps I was overdue for some bad luck because I haven’t felt terribly lucky lately. Not long ago I shared that I ruined my khaki jacket with a big yellow curry stain, and now, my new glass water bottle has suffered an abysmal fate.

A couple of months ago I got a new glass water bottle because it’s smaller in size than my other glass water bottle. I wanted a water bottle that wouldn’t be too large to carry with me. I bought a different brand than the larger water bottle I have…and perhaps that was a mistake.

My new water bottle was cute, but last weekend I dropped it on the pavement and it shattered—just pieces everywhere. I guess it must have fallen on the weakest part of the bottle where the silicon sleeve didn’t protect it. It was disappointing since it was pretty much brand new…there’s nearly thirty dollars down the drain. So then I had to get a replacement water bottle and I did not buy same brand. While it’s unlikely this wouldn’t happen a second time, I’d rather not test that theory. If I’m going to be disappointed again, I’d rather it be a new something than an old one.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sporadic Pencil Skirt

I started sewing this pencil skirt a month or two ago and thought I’d whip it out quickly…that didn’t happen. I lost a bit of my momentum after I initially cut out my material and sewed the first couple of seams; I then sewed sporadically a weekend here and a weekend there until I finally finished.

I picked up this bottom-weight fabric a few months ago at a local fabric store. It wasn’t a very expensive fabric (and on sale too—which made me extra happy); I think it was about $5/yard. I chose it because I loved the subdued blue color and subtle pattern, and I also thought the fabric felt nice. When I saw it I immediately thought it would make a good pencil skirt, so I bought the fabric (which then sat in my fabric stack for a while…).

When I finally got into a sewing mood again, I wanted to sew my pencil skirt. However, looking over the patterns I had, I only had one pencil skirt pattern that was one of those super easy patterns for those learning to sew. The end product is just two pieces of fabric sewn together with a slit on the side. I had sewn the pattern once before and wasn’t excited to sew it again. I wanted my skirt to have a slit in the back and have a waistband (which I think is pretty essential in making a skirt look complete).

So I looked through my patterns and found a dress pattern that I thought I could steal the skirt portion of it; I just used its two pattern pieces and added a waistband piece (from a skirt pattern). The pattern also used a lining so I incorporated a lining into my skirt as well. I’ve done self-lined bodices for dresses before, but had never done a skirt lining before. However, I figured it couldn’t be too hard and I wanted to do it because I generally prefer lined skirts since they look and feel so much better than the unlined ones.

Having a lined skirt did create extra steps and forced me to think a bit more about how to do things. I followed my dress directions for the skirt to a point, but sometimes they didn’t seem terribly clear or weren’t applicable to my skirt, so I disregarded them and just sewed in a way that made sense to me. For the most part it was pretty smooth sewing it and I’m pretty happy with my finished skirt. It’s simple and I think it’ll be fairly versatile because it has a pretty neutral pattern.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Frugal, Not Cheap

I consider myself frugal rather than cheap. Cheap brings to mind stinginess, where the price of something trumps any other factor and there’s an unwillingness to spend more on something (even if it’s a better product). Frugal seems more positive to me. Yes, the price of something is important, but there are other considerations that are thought of when making a purchase. And in the end there’s a thought-process that asks, “Is this worth it?”

Of course I like getting a good deal on something, but I’m perfectly willing to spend more on a product if I think it’s worth it. For example, there are certain wardrobe items I have a particular desire for quality in: outerwear, handbags and shoes. These items can easily last a long time if they’re made well and properly taken care of so they’re worth spending more on.

The hard part is finding something I want that is well made…because there’s a lot of crap out there. There are quite a few stores that I might have bought a pair of shoes at a couple of years ago that I’ve finally given up on. I eventually came to the conclusion that it would just be a waste of my time to even peruse the shoes because while they may be cute from a distance, up close they’re a mess. They’re made of cheap and uncomfortable materials that I don’t want to walk in; they’re basically disposable shoes that will fall apart in a couple of months. [Pause.] It’s really quite disappointing.

In the end, buying lots of cheap shoes is more expensive than buying one pair of quality shoes. There are times I might need cheap shoes for a specific outfit or event, but for everyday use, quality is best.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Word of the Day Exercise: Week Fifteen

I finished my Word of the Day notebook on Monday—100 continuous days of drawing the Word of the Day each day. Overall it was a fun exercise. Some words I knew and some words were new to me, but I was always curious each morning to see what that day’s word of the day would be. Some days I instantly knew what I was going to draw, while others I felt less inspired and less motivated to do it, but I always did it.

Since there’s no “undo” function when drawing in pencil, I tried to think about my approach of each Word of the Day a bit before setting pencil to paper, because it’s rather time-consuming every time you make a mistake or want to try something different. [Pause.] And let’s just say I used my eraser…a lot. The most common issue I had in my drawings was trying to figure out the letter spacing (so I wouldn’t run out of room on the page towards the end of the word). Often the letter spacing was off, but I could only care to a point because I had my predetermined time limit.  

I’m a little sad that my exercise is over (since I got used to it and it was kind of fun). But I’m also glad it’s finished because it frees up quite a bit of time. While an hour was my maximum time limit for this daily exercise, on average I probably spent closer to 30-45 minutes per drawing (and maybe 20 minutes on the quick ones). Now I just have decide how I’ll use all that extra time…

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Word of the Day Exercise: Week Fourteen

I enjoyed doing my last full week of my Word of the Day exercise. But it’s a little bittersweet knowing that it’ll soon be over…