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8 degrees

You know when it gets to be so cold that you put on tights, a dress, a giant sweatshirt, a jacket, fuzzy socks, boots, a hat, and gloves, and you don’t even CARE that you look like a maniac? That’s the point I reached yesterday. The next theme is going to be THINGS THAT KEEP YOU WARM, starting with this skirt, which I am lining in FLANNEL:
image of two wraparound tie skirts in denim blue and black, lined with floral print fabric

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you straight up just blew dust in my eye

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coffee

sketch of a greent teapot with "not allowed" symbol over it.

I will not wax lyrical, simply say that having tea only leads to DISCONTENT in the HOUSEHOLD.

Thank you to jaxpix on Flickr for the original sketch.

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men’s pants

Know what is remarkably hard to find in life?  Men’s pants patterns (that aren’t tuxedo pants). The paucity of patterns out there leads me to the following possibilities:

1.  Men don’t sew their own pants.

2.  Women don’t sew their men pants.

3. No one has sewn pants since this pattern came out in approx. 1993:

4.  Men don’t wear pants.

None of the above makes any sense to me.  Women knit men articles of clothing all the time because if you are a knitter with a man-friend, you naturally want to knit him something so that he can measure your love for him in inches of hand-knit fabric.  Thus, if you are a sewer and you have a man-friend, don’t you want to sew him something so that he can measure your love for him in machine-stitched articles of clothing?  And since men don’t like stuffed animals, potholders, or other adorable and easy-to-gift sewing projects, aren’t pants the natural choice?  Because shirts are hard.  Shirts are really really hard.  I’ve been sewing for twelve years now, and I’ve never made a shirt successfully.

Anyway, despite the obstacle of not having a pattern, I made AQ some pants for Xmas (because I said Hey, I could sew you something and he said, as is only natural, How about pants?).  I did it by taking apart a pair of Goodwill-gotten khaki pants, also manufactured ca. 1993 but somehow more appealing than buying the Kwik Sew pattern above for $12 plus shipping.

Here are some shots:

wide-wale corduroy pants' buttonhole

baptism of the buttonholer on my sewing machine. it was awesome.

buttoned wide-wale corduroy pants

it was awesome because it worked.

side view of pockets of wide-wale corduroy pants, showing white and blue plaid lining peeking through

i’m ridiculously proud of these pockets. fabric courtesy of Simple Savvy (see sidebar)

cuff of pants on blue print flowered ironing board

a creative cuff was required. actually, that was Simple Savvy’s idea. she’s so clever.

The hardest part BY FAR was sewing an honest-to-goodness fly.  Now, it wasn’t as tricky as making a shirt collar (have I mentioned?  SHIRTS ARE HARD) but it was pretty durn complicated without a freaking pattern.  So I ask you, Simplicity, New Look, Butterick, or heck, INDEPENDENT SEWING PATTERN DESIGNERS, will you please make a men’s pants pattern?

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snowed in again

When it looks like this out,

snowy trail between two rows of trees leaning towards each other, a la tower of Pisa

I feel obligated to stay inside, watch endless episodes of Friends, and make things.  Or, as the case may be, hang things:

fabric framed in square black frames over the brown couch littered with tools and a measuring tape

I bought 20 (yes, 20–it was a good deal!  And I had a friend haggling for me) batik prints while I was in Malaysia and 2 (only two–I’m scared of haggling  alone) pillowcases in India.  Only a week or two…well, maybe a month ago, I found t-shirt frames at Michael’s on sale–$5 apiece!  For $20 and a few Asian bucks, you, too, can have sweet wall decor.

side angle view of framed fabric.  pink pillowcase in front, green and blue batik follow.

The best part is that the fabric isn’t cut–all I did was fold it to fit the frame.  Since the pillowcases were thin, I pressed an extra folded-up batik print behind each one.  Decor and storage?  Who knew? (Answer: everyone at Real Simple magazine.)

I’m in love with batik, which is print made by designing with wax, painting in the white spaces left over, and washing off the wax.  Of course, when you have gorgeous batik prints with multiple colors, it’s more complicated than that (or, it’s just printed on with a giant printer somewhere).  Batik is an Indonesian thing, but old women (and weird travelers like me) wear it all the time in Malaysia.  The prints come sewn into a tube and you wrap it around and tuck it in like a skirt sarong.

It’s very comfortable in thousand-degree weather.

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go green

Freaking genius!  A re-usable Swiffer cover!

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how to be snowed in, part 4: or, how to plan a menu for a cocktail party

I realize that many moons ago I said I’d planned a menu for a dinner party.  That was a bald-faced lie; I planned a menu for a cocktail party.  And, it turned out pretty good.  I had never cooked all day for a party before and I wanted to try it; the results were not on par with the effort put in, but they got a few “You cooked all this?” which is, let’s face it, what I was going for on some level.

My menu was:

  • Pork Belly Tea Sandwiches, converted to plain roast pork sandwiches, courtesy of the big red NY Times cookbook.
  • Asian Slaw, ditto above.
  • Variation on Spicy Orange Salad.
  • Crab Wontons from the Food Network Cookbook.
  • Fortune cookies, candied oranges, and chocolate Boy Scout popcorn.

So, how did I get to this menu?  Let me tell the story…

Whilst snowed in, I began to think about the “sips and apps” party me and my buddy were throwing on NYE.  He was in charge of sips (and MY GOD, did he come through.  We could drown a few people with the amount of liquor we have on hand) and I volunteered to make apps.  At first, I thought “cheese straws.”  Amanda Hesser says they’re easy to make and a crowd-pleaser.  But then, after I looked through the “starters” section of each of my zillion cookbooks, I found the crab wontons recipe.  And I thought to myself, Self, THAT is how you impress people.  So I hunted down vaguely Asian-sounding recipes to go with them.  The spicy orange salad is actually Moroccan, but it was a good complement to the other warm dishes.

The only really disappointing dish was the pork belly sandwiches.  I’m pretty sure this is because I didn’t use pork belly.  The wontons were yummy and fairly cheap to make (they sell lump crab like tuna–in cans!), no one thought the Asian Slaw was racist, and the orange salad got a compliment.  For a first serious stab at hostessing, I was happy.

I’m going to use all those make-ahead tips you can find in every freaking magazine and cookbook next time, though.  Because for gadsakes, nobody needs to be cooking all day.  If I were to do it over again, I would also choose less of a theme–though it was fun–because I’ve eaten slaw for a few days now and it’s kind of gross.  A theme might be better for a large party, rather than a nice-sized sips and apps party, which is what we had.