Saturday, April 28, 2012

Demand Photography for Senior Portraits

This year is flying by fast!  As a school teacher, I'm almost as excited as the kids.  But as a mom with a graduating senior, I want time to slow down.  This is it.  I will have an adult child who is off to school. Our family dynamic will never be the same.

Enough of the sappy sentimentality. Let's get down to the business of having a senior.  It is dang expensive! For those locals who are reading my blog, let me give you some tips. (If you are not local you can still read my blog!)

Racket Number One:  Sometime in the summer before your child is a senior, you will get an announcement from Prestige Photography that your child needs to report for his or her yearbook picture, but there are also several graduation packages you can choose from.  If you want more than one pose you have to pay a fee.  At this point they do not tell you the prices.  A few weeks later your proofs come and you can buy a small package of one pose for about $300.00.  What?  $300.00. No way!  Yes, $300.00.  Now keep in mind that this is the exact same product that you buy for $20.00 when your child was in the earlier grades.  

This is why we went with professional photographer, Mandy Munns of Demand Photography.  

Isn't my son handsome?  The prices for a professional photographer were reasonable. My son had one outfit change, and we got to choose ten poses that we have the permission to print.  Mandy also offers the option to have her make the prints.  Included with our package as a promotion was a graduation announcement.  This leads me to Racket Number Two.

Racket Number Two: Graduation announcements by Jostens. Jostens has had the corner on the market on graduation paraphernalia and yearbooks forever.  Within the first week of school they are there hitting up the students and parents to buy graduation stuff they don't need.  So I bought announcements.  Gaudy, goopy, tasteless announcements.  Oh, if I had known.  Learn from me.  Don't do it. Don't be sucked in! There are other smaller businesses that can make a darling announcement like Mandy did.  You could even do it yourself with photo software.  

This photo is my favorite.  It captures my son perfectly.

Now I hate to use the work cute to describe an adult, professional woman, but she was cute with my son.  Her personality made him relaxed and comfortable.  Her work was excellent and I highly recommend her for senior portraits.  I suggested we use an urban setting and she knew the perfect place.  When she came to our house so we could pick the 10 poses we wanted, she even brought treats from a fancy bakery. How cool is that.  Overall, the experience was easy and the photos were great.  

The lesson here?  Save your money now on senior expenses because setting your kid up for college....oh man, I'm in trouble.  

Oh and by the way if you use Demand Photography, mention me and our family will get a discount next time.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Taffy Blouse From Colette Patternes



I have been participating in the Sew Colette challenge hosted by Rhinestones and Telephones and Miss Crayola Creepy.  I finished my  Meringue Skirt in January but didn't sew the Pastille Dress because I thought it wouldn't look good on me.  I didn't do the Truffle dress because it didn't have sleeves.  I need sleeves.  So the Taffy blouse seemed to be a pattern that would look good on me and it had sleeves.  My son even quoted Napoleon Dynamite when the blouse was done, "I like your sleeves.  They're real big."

I love this blouse!  I learned how to cut out slippery fabrics by placing tissue paper underneath the fabric and the pattern on top.  Notice that I did not use the original pattern but made a copy. I also use pins and pattern weights to keep the fabric from moving.

Once the blouse was sewn together and before the finishing touches were in place, I tried on the blouse.  No, I didn't make the muslin beforehand.  I was too impatient.  So yes, there was a fitting problem.  I had those dreaded horizontal pulling rumples in the back.  No photo of that will be provided!

So I decided to add gussets to the sides. At least I think that is what they are called.  Gussets sound very "seamstressy" in the very least!

This is the gusset with the French seam.  I really had to think how to do the French seam with the added fabric, and it turned out just fine.  

A pretty finishing touch was the added bias tape to the neck line, sleeves, and ties.  I omitted the ties and used a 1/4 in bias instead of a 1/2 inch bias because I wanted to make my own and I only had a 1/4 inch bias tape maker.  

Here is the Colette model in the Taffy Blouse.  I think she is size negative something.  That is not my size. I am certainly positive something!

And here are my pictures in the Taffy blouse.  I used a shear blue polka dot and a darker blue polka dot for the binding.  

The beautiful sleeve. 

The front and the dreaded back.

Sitting on my newly painted picnic table.  Luckily it was dry.

My daughter, the blog photographer, posing me in a crazy ways. 

Notice my super short and somewhat gray hair.  Almost four weeks ago I buzzed it for charity.  I like the cut and the gray.  My cool niece even called it edgy, and a co-worker called it striking.  But it doesn't hurt to have the super feminine Taffy blouse to make one feel a little more girly.  

Lessons learned on this blouse:
     Make a muslin--dang it!
     French seams.
     Cutting techniques for slippery fabric.

Love the blouse, pattern, and directions. I would recommend this to  sewists who are at least advanced beginners.   

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse

We didn't live in Texas very long, but long enough to know that people take their bar-b-que seriously.   And the best place to go for bar-b-que was the Salt Lick  located out in the country in Driftwood.  The Salt Lick was in a dry county so people could be seen bringing their spirits to the restaurant in coolers.  Then they were seated at a picnic table where they were served generous portions of brisket, sausage, ribs, pork, bread, potatoes, baked beans and coleslaw.  For about 15 dollars the food kept coming as long as a person could keep eating.  This popular eating establishment was even featured on the Travel Channel's "Man vs. Food."

The Salt Lick has become our bbq litmus test.  The big, scientific question: Is this as good as the Salt Lick? Sonny Bryant's Smokehouse is a franchise from Dallas so it had promise.  Was Sonny Bryant's as good as the Salt Lick?  Yeah, almost.

The ambiance wasn't nearly as "country" and down-to-earth. But it was comfortably casual and clean.  The food was great.  My husband's platter consisted of brisket, jallepeno sausage, and turkey.  They were all tasty but the turkey was the best.  I had a pulled pork sandwich with mac and cheese and green beans.  Did you know mac and cheese is considered a vegetable in the South?  The only slight disappointment was that my green beans weren't appropriately melt-in-your mouth soft as they were in the South.

My sandwich, on the other hand, was fantastic.  Now let's talk buns y'all.  They can either make or break a sandwich.  So many restaurants use stale grocery store buns.  Theese were not store buns but buttery, soft, fresh buns that really added to the sandwich.  I wish they had topped the pork with a little coleslaw as is also common in the South, but the sandwich could stand on its own merit.

One of our dining companions is lactose intolerant.  We were all impressed how the manager personally oversaw the preparation of his food to make sure it was prepared correctly.  Now that is good service.

4 out of 5 stars.

By the way my Utah friends, bbq is not grilling! Go to Sonny Bryant's Smokehouse and try the real deal! Don't forget to try the fried pickles.  You won't regret it!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

2012 Color Palette

2012 Color Pallette

The Colette Pattern  creators are having a spring palette challenge.  The idea is to come up with a palette and make pieces that fit and match the styles and colors chosen.  They suggested  using to create a personal mood board.  

I had a great time putting my mood board together.  Of course I added way too many inspiration pieces and I will never get this much sewn this spring.  I am thinking I may get a blouse and a skirt done and thrift other pieces.  I won't buy anything new especially anything from this list.  The lovely polka-dot dress is only slightly out of my price range---$380 US dollars.  Thus, sewing and thrifting.

The pink or grey floral blouse would look good with McCalls 6467.


The gray wrap shirt would be cute with McCalls 6564.


It was quite fun to play and dream with Polyvore.  If I get two good pieces out of this, I will be happy.  If not, it was a great way to waste my otherwise valuable time and I don't feel guilty!

Hunger Games, the Movie

From the opening scenes of this movie, I was taken in by the emotional, desperate situation of the people from District 12.  This was an excellent movie that stayed true to the character of the book and in some cases did an even better job than the book.  

For example, in the book Katniss, the main character, is participating in the Hunger Games, and we read about her experiences. In the movie we can see the control room of the Hunger Games and how the games are technologically manipulated to get the results the government wants. That made the situation these children were in all the more powerful and tragic.  

If you are unfamiliar with this story, there is no need to read the books in order to understand the movie.  I won't give the plot away, but will say the acting was wonderful! Even though I did not picture them this way in the book,  I loved Woody Harrelson as Haymitch and Lenny Kravitz as Cinna.  But my favorite was Stanly Tucci as Caesar Flikerman.  He offered much needed comic relief!

Go see this movie even if you haven't read the book.  I loved it!  Be warned, there is violence and it is not for young children or sensitive teens.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Decades of Style 1930s Button Dress

This is was the retro dress of all retro dresses.  This was the dress that I was so excited to get started.  This was the dress that I went to three stores just to hunt down the right buttons.  

I used a Decades of Style pattern which is a modern pattern of a retro style.  The instructions and pattern pieces are for today's sewists.

Here is the lovely pattern.

Here are the lovely buttons.

I spent a great deal of time thinking about this pattern.  My body shape is a somewhere between an "apple" and a  "brick" according to Trinny and Susanah's 12 body types.  I made a muslin and made adjustments for my lack of waist, high back hips (that means my I'm short waisted and I carry that extra flub on hips in the back), and protruding tummy.  So I call myself a brick with high hips.  Not quite an apple.

I digress.  So I planned carefully, making adjustments for all the sizing problems that vex me.  I shortened the bodice and added for the tummy and hips.

Again, the pattern.

The dress on Matilda.  

I thought the contrast in colors would make the curve at the waist stand out more.  The dress looks great on Matilda because she is set at my daughter's small size.  Not my medium size.  

Now here is the scary part.  The dress on me.

Ahhh!  Have mercy!  You can all turn away now.  But before you do, look at the neck line.  What happened?  You can see the curve is not perfect.  

This pattern, although charming, gorgeous and simple, was not meant for me, a brick with high hips.  Even if I did fix the neck line knowing the mistake I made, would I feel comfortable in this dress?  No.  So disappointing after all the time I put into it.   Maybe I'll donate it to the school drama department.  

Yes, I recommend the pattern as long as you aren't a brick or an apple.  And send me a picture if you do make it.  I will be happy for you and your long waist.  

I think tomorrow I will start a more rigorous exercise routine. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

McCall's 6074

My daughter has taken after me and loves to sew.  Yay!  She is just a beginner so McCall's 6074 was an easy pattern to make.  The envelope says it is a one hour pattern.  Not for a beginner.  And not if you decide to line the dress.  She chose to make the maxi version on the left, shown here in blue.

We had to make a few changes.  Using the sizing guide on the back we chose the larger version and thought we could take in as necessary.  Besides, there is a little piece of elastic in the front to pull everything together.  As is turns out, it was still too small in the chest so we opened it up to where the elastic should have been, redesigned the neck line, and skipped the elastic.  She wore a cami to make up for the opening.  

She added a belt and this is the way it looks in the back.

She did a pretty great job, if I do say so myself.  

This patterns gets my recommendation for ease.   It would have been easier if we didn't have to change the neck line, but that was our fault for not making a muslin.  Sometimes you just want to get sewing, but pattern sizing is not always reliable and is not specialized for individuals.  We were even thinking that with different fabric it would make a great prom dress. So we  she will be making this one again.  (OK, I'll help.  I can't stop myself anyway.)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

From Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter to Prayers for Sale

I've certainly read a wide variety of books these past few weeks.  It is amazing what an inner ear infection can do to squander all other productiveness.  Painted picnic table, ripped off wall paper, torn out carpet, and home sewn Easter dress be darned.  There are books to be read!

First, I finished Prayers for Sale  by Sandra Dallas.  This is a story about an elderly woman who lives in a small mining town in Colorado during the 1930s.  She befriends a young mining wife and their friendship is built on the old woman's stories and their love of quilts.


Meh.  It was overly folksy for my taste, and the author continually makes the overdone, cliche connections of how quilts are like life in any and every way you can conceive.  I'm even a quilter and this, along with the folksiness, came across as trying too hard.  

By the way, this was the book club selection for April.  I think I am going to get kicked out of book club.  I've said this before.

So my darling husband said that I've read too many books laden with charming wisdom so why didn't I try Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith.

 What a clever idea.  The lost colony of Roanoke? Vampires.  Causing the death of Abraham's mother? Vampires. Keeping the slave trade alive? Vampires. Causing the Civil War? You guessed it, vampires. John Wilkes Booth? It goes without saying.

This is an incredibly clever and well-written pseudo-biography that includes real as well as made up journal entries.  However, by the time I reached the Battle of Bull Run, which, by the way, was won by the South because they sent those pesky old vampires as soldiers, I had grown weary of heads being ripped off, axes thrown expertly into the chest, and necks being torn open. The blood and gore were just too much (hello--book about vampires--to be expected), and I longed for the Ten-Mile Range of Prayers For Sale filled with flowers and quilts and babies and pies.

I guess it goes without saying that the camaraderie of women is better than that of vampires. 

Speaking of violence, I decided to read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins again before the movie came out. 

I loved this young adult novel as much as I did the first time.  Yes, it is violent, not as bad as Old Abe, but still not for the faint of heart.  I loved the main characters and thought the themes of survival and oppression lent themselves well to a great post-apocalyptic story. 

I haven't seen the movie yet but am planning on it.

Let's get back to realism here. One of my favorite young adult novelists is Jordan Sonnenblick. I've read four of the following novels he has written.

Recently, I finished reading Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie with some of my students.  It is a story about a typically nerdy, musically talented middle school student who deals with his 5 year old brother's struggle with leukemia.  Sounds a little too heavy for a middle school topic, but it is not.  The voice of this teenager is so well written, it is just as if you were talking to a sarcastic, confused fourteen year old.  The topic is handled with all the humor, embarrassment, struggle and success that you would encounter in a teen going through this ordeal.  I loved all the music and jazz references as well.  My students loved it. They laughed out loud and tried not to cry.  And I loved it again. 

Why is it that some young-adult novels are so much better than novels written for adults?