30 July 2016

HOW I MADE A DRESS FROM TWO OLD SKIRTS





Some years ago, I forget how many -- maybe five or six -- I bought two white skirts at the end of the summer clearance sales.  I didn't try them on, as I never do (because I hate trying on clothes), till after I got them I home.

I determined that I could make them work with a little fixing, then put them away and forgot about them till late Spring the next year when we took off on a little trip.


I took Skirt #1 with me on a trip to Savannah with a cute top, and put it on to go to brunch at The Olde Pink House.  It was a whole lotta skirt!  It practically dragged the floor so I pulled it up to the top of my midriff and covered it up with the blouse.  I felt incredibly tacky.  Brunch was incredibly good, though.
  


Skirt #2 was really cute, more casual, and looked good with a t-shirt and sandals.  Made of a lightweight batiste and lined with a heavier cotton, it had a lightweight lacy band at the waist.  However, I had to roll over the elasticized waistband a few times.  So I cut that waistband off, and then never shortened it.  The plan was to put it back after I cut off a few inches from the top.  Then I couldn't find it, said the hell with it, and so I just pinned skirt #2 onto my dress form, which subsequently got shoved in the attic and forgotten about till I got the bug to sew clothes again this year. 


I found both skirts again when I cleaned out my sewing closet months ago when Sweet Husband painted all the closets.  They mocked me every time I opened that closet to look for something else.  I decided this would be the summer I would do something with those skirts!  So I thought and thought, and came up with this idea.




As I usually do when trying to work out how to put anything together, I reached for my sketch pad, and the ideas came together rapidly.  Off the shoulder dresses and tops are all the rage, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the parts.   The big full skirt with the smocked dropped waist could be the body of the dress with the smocked top pulled up right up under the boobs!  I needed to work out how to add a bandeau style section to cover the aforementioned boobs, and then figure out how to attach the ruffle from skirt #2 as an off the shoulder flounce.  

This was the general idea ...  I cut the bandeau from a width of the batiste from skirt #2,  then adjusted it to be narrower in the back.  

What it took me a bit to sort out was exactly how to get the ruffle on if I put elastic in the top of the bandeau.   In the end, I turned down a casing on the ruffle and put elastic into it, plus the top of the bandeau had a casing, too.  Then I sewed the ruffle casing directly to the bandeau casing after trying it on to determine the placement so I could the leave the space open for my arms to go through. 







Ultimately I had to sew in a tighter elastic for the waist because the weight of the skirt caused it to drop way down!

Whaddaya think?

Success?




25 July 2016

WHIRLING DERVISH WEEK HIGHLIGHTS!




When I was very young, I thought when I got older I would be sitting on the front porch knitting or something, with my little grandbabies crawling around my feet.  Ha!  My unmarried only son is living in Beijing, China with unbreathable air half the time, gallivanting around that country soaking up the culture while teaching their young how to make movies American style.   Nary a grandbaby in sight.  Here on the homefront, our country is going to hell in a hand-basket with one presidential candidate who would end civilization as we know it because he "loves the under-educated"  unless the other one wins, while her husband's foundation merrily launders money for notorious brothers of high finance.  I am thinking of booking a one-way ticket to the lands down under.  


Delicious peaches and watermelon!

We hit the Farmer's Market at Lee Branch very early Saturday, and we really loaded up.  (It was the first time I had been up at 6:30 a.m. in god only knows when -- I don't know how people do it.)  I was snapping and stringing beans till about ten o'clock Saturday night.  There is a passel  of other stuff to get in the freezer Monday morning, but I took Sunday off!  Even God rested after six whirlwind days, so don't judge me.  I didn't even put on any makeup.  (Eeeeek!!!)






In my spare time, or while watching some mindless TV, I have been "coloring" like a kid.  You know these new coloring books for grownups that are all the rage now?  Well, I just can't do that, as it seems so pointless.  What I have been coloring on with markers is fabric.  A few years ago, I found this cute transfer somewhere, don't even remember where, and put it on four pieces of white fabric cut in two sizes for pillow tops.  Then they got tossed into the stacks and forgotten till I organized my fabrics and sewing closet last year.  I had laid them aside where I could find them, and this Summer has been so blooming hot, it seemed like a good time to give it a go.  I have two finished and this third one nearly done. Once I have colored in the last one, I will make it into flouncy pillows.  

Sunday afternoon, I vegged while coloring with Australian TV on Hulu and Amazon Prime again in the afternoon.  I figure I might as well familiarize myself with the landscape in case I have to move there to save myself.  The previous evening while stringing all those beans we got on Saturday morning and destroying my manicure, I watched another Julian Fellowes' mini-series set in Victorian England, an adaptation of Anthony Trollope's novel DR. THORNE.  (I love happy endings.)  


After arising around ten o'clock and coming alive to the aroma of Sweet Husband's coffee,  I felt like I might make it, but it has been a busy week.   After a few cups of my own coffee, I made Swedish pancakes with sausages and fresh peaches alongside.   We called it a brunch at this point, because it was almost noon.






Friday, we went to the Southern Living Idea House out in Mt. Laurel which is featured in this month's issue.  For those not in the Birmingham area, this is a small planned community Southeast of the city with it's own little downtown, etc., set out in what was once just a beautiful green valley.


The world renowned architect Bill Ingram, who is a Birmingham native, designed the house this year, and he also decorated the kitchen, family room and powder room.  We saw the great man himself when we were doing our tour.  He dropped in with an associate and immediately did what every designer does when they just pop in to check on their space before heading "off to the lake for the weekend."  (I heard him say it!  He does have a fantastic lakehouse which has also been published in Southern Living.)  He started fluffing pillows, moving things a few centimeters here and there back to where they belong, a knee-jerk reaction common to any designer who has ever done a showhouse.   
The Southern Living 50th Anniversary Idea House did not disappoint.  Featured in this month's Southern Living , (I am not repeating myself -- I just don't want you to miss it -- open till December, I think.) or you can find it online here.   The tented Family Room is not something you see everyday, and the kitchen is REALLY dark green, although all those Thermador appliances are to die for.  (Actually, I would slap yo' Mama and sell your Grandma into white slavery for that stove, but that's neither here nor there.)


Go to the links to see slideshows and videos from the Southern Livng website.

My favorite space hands down was the huge Living Room done by Mark D. Sikes, and my second favorite was the Pajama Lounge upstairs done by Amy Berry.  I am not a beige kind of girl, but these two spaces where the beige was juxtaposed with a lot of bright white possibly could make me a believer.  The Dining Room with it's coral chairs and gorgeous drapery was really pretty too, but I am not a huge fan of the type of artwork in there, although I know it is a big thing now to hang abstract art in a very traditional room.  All the rooms had been inspired by past issues of Southern Living, although none were copies or reinventions, obviously.  

After our tour we stopped into a little pizza joint in the little "town" area for a late lunch that has been around about as long as Mt. Laurel itself, and the pizza was really good.  The day was hot as the hinges of hell, and the AC could have been cranked up a lot more, but we did coerce their tallest wait-girl to climb up on a chair and turn on the ceiling fan over our table.  It was kind of fun listening to the political discussion at the table behind us.   I thought it might be young people, so animated was the discussion, but when I turned around and surreptitiously took a look, they were most definitely Seniors!  Three glasses of wine each and their discussion was getting "heated."  She was buying because it was his birthday, she informed the the wait-girl.   The woman really was really rather funny, and she evidently cracked up her lunch date.  He had a weird laugh that sounded like a cross between severe hiccups and a braying donkey, and that really made us giggle into our napkins.  It made for a memorable lunch in an otherwise mundane little country neighborhood setting.



After hitting the Farmer's Market really early, we passed through the Chick Fil-A drive-thru for a chicken biscuit before we headed home and dropped off our considerable bounty.  Fortified, we headed out to the estate sales.   The first one was a bit weird, so we didn't buy anything.  The neighborhood was fairly new, so generic with all the townhouse buildings identical,  and I wondered how anyone could find his way home in the dark.  (That one did have an elliptical Waterford compote that knocked my socks off, but I didn't bid.)  The second one, however, was a treasure trove, although we should have gone there first and early for the best selection.  It was really hoppin' and there was a cop directing traffic and parking!





I was examining some Fitz and Floyd parrot plates in the kitchen, when Sweet Husband called out to me to come and look!  I left them and found him in a nearby closet, waving around a big round footed silver tray.  Someone had apparently hidden it in the back of that closet, hoping to come back later and get it for half off.  He asked, "Isn't this the kind you have been looking for?"  It was.  He tucked it under his arm.  

I hurried back to the plates, and there was a guy, maybe Persian from his accent, examining them them closely.  I let out my breath when he finally put them down and moved on.  He actually did buy the lovely green 2000 Jaguar with incredibly low mileage parked out front for a nominal sum.  (Good luck with that, Sir!)  

I snatched up those parrot plates (for $12).  Many of the wonderful items I had been looking at on the Gallery were gone, and others were plastered with the dreaded big red "sold" tag.  It was especially sad to see that red tag on the gilded triple French dressing mirror with trays on either side for jewlery or buttonhooks or whatever ladies' maids used for getting the Madam into her stays and finery.  The sting was mitigated somewhat by sweet Husband paying for the tray at the checkout, saying, "Your birthday is coming up, so this is a little lagniappe!"  He also gave me this card when we got home!





Food was a definitely a "thing" this week, as Sweet Husband enjoyed his own birthday on Tuesday as you saw last post, and also earlier in the week I had lunch with a blogger friend at Chang's which was fun.  Sunday night I made the best Chicken Piccata I have ever had from a recipe which I found on another blog.    I highly recommend you try this one.  You might want to double the sauce -- just sayin'.


EASY LEMON CHICKEN PICCATA
YIELD: 4 SERVINGS PREP TIME: 15 MINUTES COOK TIME: 15 MINUTES TOTAL TIME: 30 MINUTES
You won’t believe how quick and simple this is with ingredients you already have on hand! Serve with pasta and you’re set!
INGREDIENTS:
1 pound spaghetti
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut crosswise in half Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup diced shallots
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine*
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup capers, drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
DIRECTIONS:
  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well.
  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. Working one at a time, dredge chicken in flour.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook, flipping once, until cooked through, about 4-5 minutes on each side. Set aside and keep warm.
  4. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in the skillet. Add garlic and shallots, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in chicken broth, wine and lemon juice. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
  6. Gradually whisk in heavy cream until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in capers.
http://damndelicious.net/2016/02/26/easy-lemon-chicken-piccata/print/ Page 1 of 2
Easy Lemon Chicken Piccata - Damn Delicious 7/24/16, 3:22 PM
7. Serve immediately with pasta and chicken, garnished with parsley, if desired.
page2image2392
*Additional chicken broth can be used for white wine as a non-alcoholic substitute.
This delicious recipe brought to you by DAMN DELICIOUS http://damndelicious.net/2016/02/26/easy-lemon-chicken-piccata/ 


In the upcoming week, I will be having lunch with another blogger friend, so I would have to say unequivocally that blogging has been a positive experience in my life.  I have met people that I wouldn't have otherwise, and they are all so interesting and talented.    We all share some common interests, and it has been a real pleasure to get to know people in person that I first knew on the blogs.  

I suppose that is why I keep on writing this little blog, because the feedback I get is largely positive, even though the blogging world as I first knew it has drastically changed.  I have actually just discarded a lot of those early bloggers who decided to make it a business, whose greed got the better of them, and who just didn't have time to visit their readers back any more.   Ain't nobody got time for that!

Thank you for reading my sporadic ramblings here, and I appreciate every one of you, especially when you leave me a nice comment.  


Do check out the links to the Southern Living Idea House for some great inspiration.  If you get a chance, go visit it for yourself.  

21 July 2016

A BIRTHDAY FOR SWEET HUSBAND



THE big day for us this week was Tuesday when Sweet Husband had a birthday.  On Monday, I made him his annual German Chocolate Cake.  (In his book there is no other kind.)  I also worked on his gifts, trying to finish them up.  For the man who never wants anything, who says he has everything he ever wanted so please don't buy him anything --  I can't get too upset over that, now can I?   I started making him things years ago, and he always seems to love them.


I got dolled up for this date!

It was sometime into Tuesday afternoon before the gifts were finished, and then that evening I took him to a great new steakhouse which recently opened here in Birmingham, Perry's.  If you have one in your area, I highly recommend it for a special occasion.  (There are 13 total, Bham is the newest, and they are based in Texas.)  It was a chance to get all glammed up and go on a real date, so of course I loved it.  



Sweet Husband is a peach, but he is not great at people photos!



We sat behind a glass wall next to LOTS of wine!

I was using my iPhone so I could not get a panoramic view -- this is only a small section!

They had several of these fancy light fixtures made of black chains.
Very Urban Chic!

They gave Sweet Husband a complimentary dessert.
I was very nice and didn't even take a teensy taste.
(Pat me on the back.)
He said it was fabulous!

Now you probably wonder what kind of gifts I made for the man who says he has everything.  OK, here they are.


A shelf

A lacquered box

First I made him a shelf for his bathroom where he is collecting all kinds of tribal stuff.  Sometimes we see something he likes at an estate sale or even just in a store, and we add it to the collection.  The whole mess has a distinctly African vibe now, especially after I added my lovely Zulu Princess painting to his trinkets.   






I decided a black shelf would be good, and I had a definite idea how it should look.  I had some wood left from our floor project last year, so I trimmed out the shelf with some beaded wood trim I found at Michael's.  (So glad I bought that mitre saw years ago for my OWN birthday!)  The brackets I found at Hobby Lobby, but they got a paint job, too, so everything is now black.  He did hang it up himself.  He is very persnickety about hanging things, so I leave him to it.




The other birthday gift project was another up-cycled watch box.  I think the first watch I ever gave him (a gold-plated Seiko which looked a lot like a Rolex I thought at the time) about twenty-five years ago came in this one.   I told him he gets a real Rolex when I make my first million.  That will probably be a long wait.  But I digress....

I painted the box with a shade of craft paint called "Midnight" (a blue-black) and then gold leafed a letter R which I glued to the boxtop.  That gold trim around the edge was already on there so I was careful not to cover that as I painted.  Last, I coated it a couple of times with high gloss lacquer.  Sweet Husband put it on his desk,  planning to use it to keep small odds and ends.  Yes, that is duct tape holding his desk pad together....  

So what do you think?  Do you still exchange birthday gifts after being married (or attached to someone) a long time?  Do you try to do something special for the occasion?  A lot of people say they don't, but I do think it takes making an effort to keep the romance alive.   When people get complacent and lazy, things get dull.  I don't know about you, but I have had dull and I don't like it!  I have also had high drama, and I have certainly had enough of that for several lifetimes.  The point is, I think it is a good idea to find a happy place where you and your partner are both comfortable -- and there is probably no right or wrong way.   It certainly does not hurt to get dressed up and go out on a nice date, even after many years together!

Just sayin'.  



The outtakes...









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