Monday, 17 December 2012

So Long and Thanks For All the Fish

Just a quick post to wish everyone a safe and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sew, Cook, Garden, Repeat! will be on hiatus while Trev and I take some much needed holidays. I'll try to take lots of pictures!

Enjoy the snow, the hot chocolate, and the wooly sweaters and cozy up to your loved ones while I am on hiatus, will ya?!

{You're Welcome :)}

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Oh Good Lord Don't Tell The Producers of Hoarders...

...Or those two ladies from How Clean Is Your House? Seriously. Just don't.

Recently, Sunni posted about the state of her sewing room. She shared with us all the disaster that is her room. She was totally burnt out and her sewing room reflected her state of being.

I just want to share with you that she is not the only one. The following is our sewing-room/office/boxes-that-seemingly-will-never-be-unpacked-room. Mayhaps it was Sunni's post, or mayhaps it is the fact that after almost one full calendar year of living in our house, there are boxes that remain unpacked, but I feel the need to post photos of the disaster area in question to motivate me to get rid of the junk and organize:

View from the entrance. Oh good lord.

A broader look into the room in question.

My mending/alteration pile. I'm just pretending it doesn't exist. And yes that is a copy of the Toronto Star from Obama's *first* election win.

My machine is supposed to go on this desk.....somewhere (it was downstairs for a quilting foray).

And I am supposed to sit on here when I sew?

Part of my fabric stash which clearly has gotten a little messy.
Dude! I just realized that this could turn into a wicked "look and find" game! Did you have those books when you were younger?

 I have to say, simply taking the pictures has forced me to make some progress. But I won't post the "after" photos until I am completely satisfied with how the room looks.

Believe it or not, I used to be (and still am, to some extent) a hardcore organizer and perfectionist. If my sister took something from my closet, I could tell you exactly what was taken. So what happened here? Well, when we moved in, all of the boxes with no homes went into here, as well as all of our teaching materials. Since we aren't teaching, that wasn't a problem. We also don't have wireless yet so we never have the computer up here either. Eventually, every time we had company, we would throw our "homeless" items into here and shut the door. After that, well, it was easier to leave the room be than to try to tackle it.

I've since started, and man, does it feel good. But there is still a long way to go. So we'll see. I'd like for this to be done before we leave for holidays, but I also have a cold to get over, packing to do, a house to clean, and Christmas presents to make.

Do you have a room in your house like this, full of unpacked boxes and other junk that you don't know what to do with? Do you have any projects that seem to keep requiring more and more work, encouraging you to start it less and less? How do you motivate yourself to get it done?


{Fleas on rats}

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Wedding Refashion!

Hello all!

Here is a quick little refashion that I did for my cousin's wedding at the end of October. I won't get into too much detail, but here is what I started with:

I bought this dress from Le Chateau in 2001! That's right, I've held onto this bad boy for over ten years! I bought it in December with my aunt for semi formal. I've always liked the dress but clearly, it is not the most figure flattering dress I own. Those straps and that straight neckline do NOTHING for me.

The dress is a cheap stretchy bright red fabric (I think a polyester), with a lace overlay.

Since I am not buying any clothing for a year, I could not buy a dress for the wedding. I had a few other options for dresses that I could alter, but this one was the fastest dress to fix.

First, I cut off the straps. That felt good. Then I took a strapless bra that I have and sewed the dress to it. I wanted more of a revealing neckline so I literally followed the shape of the bra as I sewed. Then, I grabbed a black sash I already own to add some definition to my waist and voila! New dress and lots of compliments:

 Sorry for the crappy photos. The hall was super dark and so this is the best shot we got. I had to Photoshop the heck out of this to make it this bright. I'm pretty sure I am slouching here as well, probably because I didn't think this photo would turn out, just like all the others. HA joke's on me. 

Anyway, it turned out pretty decent for a dress I would never have worn otherwise. Better than the pictures would have you believe, anyway. Not bad. Now, back to trying to get Christmas presents made without spreading my disgusting germs all over them. And mucous. No one wants a mucous-y surprise at Christmas.  Ugh, I feel like death. See you soon with some admissions brought on by the lovely Sunni.



Tuesday, 4 December 2012

It'sa ME, MA-rio!

So, I know this has been a long time coming. But here it is. The Princess Peach skirt!

Check out Harley's photobomb!
Unfortunately it was HELLA WINDY outside, so an outdoor photoshoot was not going to happen. Dining room will have to do!

Why Princess Peach? Well, the fabric pattern reminded me of two things: fish scales and Super Mario (because of the little hills and mushrooms, naturally). I thought about calling this the "Blurt Skirt" because "Blurt" is the name of the flying fish in Mario, and thus, I would be combining both of the things the fabric reminds me into one, but this skirt is so puffy and princess-y that I couldn't resist. I know Blurt Skirt rhymes, but I think Princess Peach would totally wear this skirt. Just sayin'.

So this is the basic dirndl style skirt from Gertie's tutorial. I bought the fabric, and was ready to make the skirt. I had my pattern pieces and everything and then BAM! I remembered seeing the skirt from the Collette Sewing Handbook and thought: Well, I want to make scallops, but scallops on the bottom would look odd going in the opposite direction of the hills in the pattern. I wonder if I can make the scallops on the waistband? Why the hell not!

So I followed their Easy Scalloped Hem tutorial and just put it on my waistband instead!

Because my fabric was a little see-through, I put another layer of cheap cotton under it in a punchy green. It made the skirt thick, but that's not a bad thing for a Canadian winter. Especially if I am making an effort to wear more pretty clothes during the day. I almost made this skirt reversible, but decided in the end that it wasn't worth the effort. Not when I wanted to wear it right away.
I also put a hugemongous hem on this skirt. I measured it out to where I normally wear my skirts but then thought that I never wear anything shorter. I decided at the end that since it is so high waisted, I might as well live a little and make the skirt a little shorter. I know, it's not really short at all, but it is a big deal for me! I got to try out my blind hem stitch setting! That was fun and useful to learn! I have been hemming my pants ever since this skirt!

Now for the good: Gertie's tutorial requires that the inner waistband be sewn to the skirt. I decided to try one of the hand stitches I learned in wardrobe and I am pretty happy how it turned out! Check it:
I know it is a little wonky in places, but overall, I like it! It makes the inside look puuuurty.

And for the bad: I rushed through the zipper. It was the second time I put in a zipper and I rushed it and effed it up. It is horrendous. I did such a nice zipper on the Jungle Dress and then, well, just don't judge me. I am still learning and once I made my mistake, I was not unpicking it. Luckily for me, the masive amount of pleating, for lack of a better word, hides this grotesque abomination. And I usually wear it with a cardigan. So no one has noticed. And I have sewers in the family. Hardcore sewers. But I will parade my mistakes with you so you know: Take your frickin time with your zipper! Een if you are going to a bridal shower in one hour and haven't even straightened your hair and are determined to wear your new skirt. Just trust me! Here is the monster:

So yeah. It is horrible.

But anyway, this skirt, being so princess-y, also puffs out like crazy when I stand on the heater in the winter to keep warm (Or sit on it while I eat breakfast. Every morning.). I think it is pretty funny.:
 I suppose I could just make a petticoat to have it always poofed out in it's puffy glory? Maybe in the new year.

Anywho, I wanted to post this about two and a half months ago and figured, you know, I should get around to it.

Also: This is the skirt that I spoke about in my post, The Ugly Side of Looking Pretty. Just thought you'd like to know. Cause the skirt is not even that short!

But I digress.

I am itching to get back to reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, so I will presently go do that!

See you soon!


{apple cider}

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The Ugly Side of Looking Pretty

(This was originally  posted on Bitches With Stitches on October 14th, 2012)

Look, this is going to be a short long post, but it is a very important one nonetheless, so stay with me.

Three Saturdays ago I had a cold. I was doing pretty well to keep it from hitting me too hard-lots of tea and fresh orange juice-but I was still pretty tired. I decided that I would give myself a break for the weekend and just relax so that I wouldn't have to miss any work on Monday. I straightened my hair on Sunday night, set out my new skirt, and made sure that I would be all set for a photo shoot for my next post.

I still felt a little tired but I felt really good about how well put together I was. I even wore my heels to work. I never really feel so well put together so even though my cold was making me tired, I was still feeling really happy. As happy as the first time I wore the jungle dress out.

Now, part of the reason why we all sew our own clothes is because it feels satisfying! There is something so satisfying knowing that you have created something with your bare hands. You figured out what fabric to use, you decided which pattern to make, and you came up with all the little details that make the piece of clothing so much more than what a store bought article could ever be. And the clothes actually fit to boot! It is something unique that is literally made by you. It puts you in control, instead the corporations who manufacture cheap trends using, essentially, slave labour.

Another reason why we make our own clothes is because, let's face it, the attention that you get while wearing your own clothes feels awesome. Homemade clothes look so different that people can't help but comment. The first time I wore my jungle dress a lady at a store asked where I bought it and when I told her I made it, she was so amazed that she asked if I had my own store! That felt pretty damn good! We all like getting good attention, whether we like to admit it or not, and when you feel good in what you wear, and when what you wear looks great on, then the positive remarks tend to flow in constantly.

Unfortunately, sometimes we can get negative attention too. We can get whistles and catcalls and creepy stares. Sometimes we can get worse.

Trevor and I were walking around a store after work on said Monday evening and while we were looking around for a new toilet brush, we felt like we were being followed. Now, I wasn't being paranoid. If you've ever been followed before, you know the feeling I am talking about. Everywhere you walk, the other person walks. If you pick up your speed, so do they. The last time I felt like this was in England when someone was trying to pickpocket my wallet from my purse.

I moved my purse to the front, thinking that the man behind us was going to try to grab my purse, but we were still being followed. I think Trevor felt it too because he said we should just go back to the car. On the way out the door, the man moved so close that I thought he was going to grab my bum. Seriously. He sort of quickly bent down and then walked away. As soon as he turned, I saw it. In his hand he had a cell phone with the camera facing up. This man took a picture up my skirt.

It was so surreal. Did I imagine it? I told Trevor to try to make sure he suspected something had happened too. He did. I wanted to find a phone and call the police (of course, my cell was dead), but I didn't want the perp to get away. Trevor wanted to confront him but I said no. I didn't want him to get into a fight or something. The man, luckily walked into a nearby store where we could watch him as we called the police.

Now, I'm not going to get into too much detail past this point, other than to say that the police showed up super fast (thanks!), but could do nothing because the man had (e-mailed and then deleted?) no evidence on his phone. What I want to say is this:

My cell phone was dead and I did not know the phone number for the Niagara Regional Police. The skirt that I was wearing was modest in length (you'll see), so the thought of some creep taking advantage never crossed my mind. I was lucky enough to be: a) with my husband, b) in a high traffic area, and c) near a store with some amazingly helpful and caring people (Thanks Commisso's!) who let me use their phone. If I was else where and alone, I would have been screwed and this creep would not have his name recorded in the police file.

So, first: PLEASE REPORT IT TO THE POLICE IF SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPENS TO YOU. If it isn't reported by you and it happens again to someone else, then he might get away with it again and again. If his name is on the police report, even if he isn't caught, and there is another person accusing him of the same act again in the future, then the police have something to work with. I want this creep behind bars dammit!

Second: PLEASE MAKE SURE THAT YOUR CELL PHONE IS ALWAYS CHARGED AND PLEASE ADD THE PHONE NUMBER OF YOUR LOCAL POLICE SERVICE INTO IT RIGHT NOW. I mean it. I will wait here while you add it...................Are you done yet? No? Geeze you are a slow phone-typer............Done? Okay. Good. Thank you.

I never thought something like this would happen to me, so I'm sure you are thinking the same. I hope it doesn't, because I was in a real funk for the week after it happened. I was real shook up after it happened. I was really down the next day. I didn't want to do my photo shoot and I didn't want to wear my skirt (or any skirt). But at the same time I wanted to wear it all the time as if to say, "I'm not going to let you stop me from doing what I want!" I was basically a walking mixed bag of emotions.

The following night after work one our mousetraps went off in the kitchen and the trap had caught it's teeny tiny leg, but he was still alive. Trevor hates mice (I think they are fricking cute as hell, I'd just rather they not be in my house eating my food), so I had to release him from the trap. I felt AWFUL for the little guy. He clearly was in pain. I let him out outside (not thinking), and he proceeded to crawl back under the deck (and likely back into the house, ha!). It is at this point that I lost it. So I decided to give myself a break from the blog until I felt good enough to tell you all about my ordeal.

Luckily for me, when karma gives you a really awful few days, it tries to make up for it. I took the day off that Wednesday to recoup. Trevor found out that his police check came in (He can start supply working finally! He was waiting for over a month for this thing.), I got to FEED SOME CHICKENS (It is actually a dream of mine to one day own chickens. They are hilarious.), and we went out for a great dinner with some friends on that Friday, where I ordered a locally-sourced maple syrup cotton candy for dessert that literally towered three feet into the air. While wearing my jungle dress. :)

I also made a face out of my cotton candy when I had eaten too much of it and was waiting for it to get packed up:

Notice he sports a fancy moustache.
As for the next Saturday, it was Thanksgiving! So Trev and I took some much needed time off. And this Saturday? It was Oktoberfest, silly! But hey, here is my post. And the skirt photo shoot has taken place already, and is in the works for real soon. Perhaps even during the week? We'll see.

So please. Don't feel bad for me or apologize that this happened to me. It did. It sucked. I'm over it. Just promise me you'll report it if it happens to you.

And keep wearing those damn skirts, ladies!


[powered by: This guy- because serious posts require silly videos, and this song]

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Tom-ay-to, Tom-ah-to!

(This was originally posted on Bitches With Stitches on October 12th, 2012)

Sorry for being M.I.A. lately. Long story! Regardless, since this is one of the last weekends that you will be able to get tomatoes at the farmer's market and off your tomato plants (at least here in Niagara), I though I would show you how Trevor and I freeze our tomatoes for sauce.

But first a little garden story: When Trevor and I bought this house, one of the first things we did was start to plan out the garden. I went online to Johnny's Select Seeds and onto Salt Spring Seeds and went crazy! I just love growing plants from seed. It is very satisfying knowing that your tender loving care is what produced such a bounty of food in such a short time! Even better than that, I like growing heirloom varieties that no one else really grows.

Chillin' on my tomato plant: If you know what kind of caterpillar this is, please let me know!
This is especially true with tomatoes. Did you know that you can grow tomatoes that are red, green, yellow, orange, pink, white, purple, brown/black, striped, in husks, marble-sized, softball-sized, pepper-shaped, pear-shaped, smooth, bumpy, and everything in between? This means that I have lots of variety to choose from each year. (Next year? Yes, please!)

This year we chose three varieties: black cherry, wild, and riesetomate, which is my favourite, because it looks weird.

Unriped Riesetomate in my garden
We ended up with ten plants in the ground between the three varieties. Then, Trevor's tutor family gave him two giant flats of tomato plants (!!!). So, we dug a giant hole in the ground, planted ten more and put the rest in pots. The ones in pots sadly, did not do as well as the others (mostly because I tend to forget to water, and it was smokin' hot this summer), but the ones in the ground did great! Check out this one day's bounty:

We did not know what variety the plants that were given to us. My best guess is some saladette, some beefsteak, some roma, and some san marzano. Regardless, that means we had a garden, almost exclusively, of a lot of tomatoes! And anyone who has a few tomato plants knows that tomatoes don't always turn at the same time. So instead of canning them, we decided to freeze our tomatoes in a way that they would just need a little cooking down before becoming sauce.

I will warn you if you wish to give it a try: this is messy. And rewarding!

First get out your tomatoes! It is okay if they are a little green, or have yucky (not moldy), parts on them: you can cut them off. You don't want them to be too ripe and mushy (firm is good).

The next thing you have to do is give all your tomatoes two slices in the shape of an X on the "bum end" of the tomato. Make sure it is as shallow as you can get it. The aim is to pierce the skin.

Once all your tomatoes are ready and pierced, you need a large pot of boiling water, a pot of ice water (we just used super cold water, we had no ice), and something to move the tomatoes out of the hot into the cold. Place a few tomatoes at a time into the boiling water.

They will only need to be in there for about one minute. If you notice that the skin is already coming off, like the big tomato in the photo above, it is definitely ready! Next, transfer the tomatoes into the ice water to stop the cooking and get the next batch of tomatoes into the boiling water as you work.

After about a minute or two, you can take the tomatoes out of the ice water and peel the skins off. You can discard the skins. Once peeled, cut out any of the aforementioned "yucky" spots, and slice in half.

Finally, SQUEEZE out the seeds, toss the "goods" into a strainer, and once you are finished all the tomatoes, take the tomatoes from the strainer and place into some freezer bags. Try to get out as much air as possible.

Enjoy on a cold winter's night!

Special thanks to the guide on Pick Your Own for getting us through the first time!

See you soon!

Carlee :)

Granny Alert!

(This was originally posted Bitches With Stitches on September 24th, 2012)

Some exciting news to share at the end of the post. Stick with me, it is worth it!

In other news: an apology. I was going to post a picture of my skirt today, but it wasn't finished. I didn't have an invisible zipper foot, or even a regular zipper foot, so I was going to hand-sew on my invisible zipper, which really isn't a big deal. but then I started thinking that maybe I'll make my skirt reversible since it already looks really nice on the inside, and if I was going to be putting in the extra effort to hand-sew the zippers, I might as well get the seam ripper out in order to hide my inside seam (this will make more sense next week). I figured that I would just suck it up, take the extra time and make it look really, really good. And in the meantime, while I was making up my mind with the skirt, I decided that I was going to do something up really quick that I had been planning on doing for some time.

So this all sounds very cryptic, but stay with me. So, when I picked out the fabric for the skirt, my mind started to race. I was trying to figure out what I would be able to wear with it-something that I already own. Then I thought about this minty green cardigan that I plucked from my sister's closet a few years ago. She bought it from Value Village, a local thrift store, for two or three dollars, and when she tired of it, she said I could just keep it (We borrowed a lot from each other at the time so I was wearing it often anyway). I was actually planning on giving it away because it looked like this:

Granny sweater alert! Even my hair looks granny here! I think I aged about 50 years.

Being a granny usually comes with saggy arms. This sweater has plenty of arm-sag!

It's just so ill-fitting. How did I ever wear this before?

So I decided to take a page out of Ms. Jillian Owens' and Ms. Charity Shop Chic's books and refashion it!

Now, unfortunately, I didn't think to take photos of what I did to my sweater, because fortunately this took all of an hour to refashion.

Here is the finished product! (Poor quality photos, sorry!)

Done up! Much better!

And unbuttoned!

So I will briefly explain what I did to it. First I chopped off the arms just past the elbow. For some reason I am not really a fan of fabric past my elbows. I think it is because I get all sorts of chalk and pen and pencil on my sleeves when I am teaching. No one likes a dirty sweater. Once I did the big chop, I put the sweater on inside out and pinned it in the armpit, in the waist, and near the bottom to so I would know where I would need to sew on the innards. I also tried to get a rough idea of how much fabric I could take out of the arm-sags. I pinched the sleeves and figured it was about an inch or so. I just sort of winged it to be honest. I then took the sweater off and sewed the sleeves tighter until the armpit. Here, I kept the needle in the fabric while I lifted my presser foot to turn the fabric. Then I sewed down the side of the sweater using the pins as my guide. I tried it on for fit, folded my sweater as perfectly in half as I could, then used my new taken in sweater side to mark the other half of the sweater so that both sides matched perfectly. I then followed my guide and sewed. I chopped off the inner excess (which got rid of some major pinching in the armpit areas), flipped up my sleeve ends twice, and sewed around the circumference of the sleeve to make a cute little sleeve cap, for lack of a better word.

That's it! New sweater complete! And the best part is that I haven't worn this sweater in years, and now I can't stop! Oh! Not to mention that it goes with the skirt I will be showing you this upcoming Saturday. How awesome it that? I think that I will be refashioning other items in the very near future! It is just so easy and satisfying to have a complete garment in a short time period.

Oh. Long story short. Another reason why I didn't finish my skirt is that I have been using my aunt's machine all this time and now that the weather is cool again, it is quilting season, and thus the machine is no longer with me. However: my birthday is in one month, and my other aunt and my husband are amazing:

Early birthday present!!!

Ain't she purrrty? So this is why this post is later than usual. I was putting her together and getting my skirt done! Hurrah!

See you soon!


(powered by: Walk Off The Earth "From Me To You")

These Aren't The Droids You're Looking For...

 (This was originally posted on Bitches With Stitches on September 15th, 2012)

And now for something a little different. I went to visit Jamie a few weeks ago, right after I finished my dress, and since she took fashion and lives in Toronto, it naturally follows that we went to the Queen Street fabric shops. I bought some buttons for myself that I'm sure I will find a use for eventually. As well, I saw a fabric that I knew I had to buy immediately so that I could make something for Trevor.

Well, I made something, and today we walked to the market with Harley, picked up some lovely fresh fruit and veg, and Trevor modeled for me in public (a little awkward for him!).

I present to you, The TIE Fighter (Get it?):

The Jack Russell did not like Harley.

A close up of the magnificent print.

So I actually finished this the night before we went away for our one year anniversary. I did not use a pattern, rather I took one of Kyle's ties (I was staying with Jamie and Kyle), laid it out on the wrong side of the fabric, and I used a square and some good old fashioned arithmetic, and created my pattern pieces from that. I just marked the fabric with (shhh!) a pen, and cut them out. Once the tie was stitched together, I used some interfacing I had at home to stiffen the material (it is just a cotton), and then I stitched the back up by hand. It's not the prettiest back there, I was rushing to finish it the night before, but it works. Pretty easy overall.

I've already made another tie (more in a later post), and I've made some significant adjustments. For one, the new tie has a wool lining up the entire tie (this tie has no lining). Second, I skimped on the interfacing, figuring that only the bottom part of the tie would need the added stiffness, but it turns out the entire tie length needs it to ensure that the fabric doesn't twist from wear (which is happening to Trevor's after only two wears). Live and learn!

I still think it looks pretty good. I can't wait to make more nerd ties!

Here is another shot of our furbaby:

Oh! And remember how in my post about the Jungle Dress, I mentioned that I originally was going into Fabricland to pick out a different fabric? Well, here is a little sneak peek of what is to come soon:

I'm almost done and I'm already showing everyone! I can't wait! Cheers!


(powered by: John Williams "Cantina Band")