Bunnies, Biking and Building

It’s been a busy few weeks, from a friend’s visit to a marathon IKEA-Home Depot-Beth Bath & Beyond day to building more and more IKEA pieces. In between, I am getting used to a new bike commute and we are all still adjusting to the new rabbits. Whew! We can’t wait until the long Thanksgiving weekend when we can hopefully finish and relax.

First, the bunnies. We have begun to let them out into the living room and watching their antics as they explore is highly entertaining. Quinn is the explorer of the bunch (girl power!) and is always out hopping onto things.

Er – on the tub on the bookcase – probably not a good place to be…

Sully is less excited to explore but has his moments.

“Didn’t you put the treats over here?”

Gaston has been happy to return to having lengthy pet sessions. I am more than happy to comply. Love this little bunny! Speaking of bunny love, I stumbled upon a Kate Spade ring on the Rent the Runway site and decided I had to have it. Thankfully it was on eBay at half the original price. This is 100% what my mom and aunt call an “F&M” – as in, “a fool and his money are soon parted.” And you know what? I totally don’t care. I bought another bauble at the Coach store, a personalized embossed leather tag for my super old Coach bag. They had the embossing machine in the store so I got to watch it get made. This is also an F&M – I need to start sewing again to keep me focused!

This is the closest to sewing I get these days – I am attempting to participate in #BPsewvember on Instagram, a sewing photo a day challenge during the month of November. As my sewing space is still in piles and my machines still packed up, it’s not been an overwhelming success so far.

I am getting some baubles that are not F&Ms – I ordered progressive sunglasses. I’ve reached the point where I want to be able to read my phone, menus, labels, and anything else in a small print when I’m out and about. Its annoying to carry glasses around and put them on when I need them (maybe I’m lazy), so my regular progressives have become super useful. But maybe I’m delicate – I need some sun protection too! So with a balance in my FSA account, I visited a new eye glasses shop and picked out a swanky pair of tortiseshell frames. Can’t wait to get these babies back!

My new bike commute is almost a mile longer; that is, the route I prefer lengthens the commute about a mile. I could go another direction and it would probably be equal to what I’ve been doing. But I like going through the neighborhoods, not on the main streets, and who doesn’t need a little extra exercise?! So now I’ve got 4 miles each way, slightly uphill in the mornings. I need that too. I have been on the bus a lot, due to a variety of reasons, and now it’s *cold* in the mornings again, and I’m having a hard time adjusting. It will come, but I’m not as excited when its around freezing when I wake up.

I had a lot to carry with me this day, so those morning hills were even harder!

About the house – this should say it all:

This just happened.

So check back in with us in a week or two, and hopefully by then I’ll be SEWING!

A Brief Intro to Our New Lives

We have been in our new home for two weeks now – seems like forever yet we still aren’t 100% unpacked. The Mechanic started a new job right before we moved and his been working crazy long hours, so we haven’t gotten as much done as we’d like. Consequently, I don’t have many photos to share – hence the brief into. (Note: I am writing this on the bus so apologies for weirdness.)

This is one of the highlights so far:   

We have hardwood floors, yay!, and picking out rugs is so fun. This is in our dining room, from which we have lovely views of trees. 

I did unpack the sewing machine and put notions in drawers for an important psychological step forward. (The box clutter is beginning to stress me out.) No time to sew yet but hopefully soon! 

I have a new bike commute but I don’t have any photos of that yet. It’s about a mile longer, at least the route I am taking is, and ever so slightly uphill in the morning. I know I need the exercise….

The biggest change in our new lives is now being parents to three bunnies. English angora siblings Sullivan (the boy) and Quinn (the girl) came home with Gaston right after we moved in. Twice his weight and three times the fluff, we find ourselves in a scramble to have enough hay, litter and greens. Yes, I did just order a 50lb box of hay. 

They all get along very well in a sort of love triangle way – sometimes I see Gaston snuggling with Quinn, sometimes with Sully, and sometimes it’s Sully and Quinn together. Last night I opened the pen up to see what they would do and give them a taste of things to come. Sully and Quinn happily nosed around the living room and I even saw a few tiny binkies! Follow all three on Instagram : @fluff_and_ears 

Hopefully I’ll be back on track soon! 

Variations on a Dream

The American Dream – the white picket fence around the suburban house, with 2.5 kids and a dog and two cars. It’s what everyone strives for – everyone except me! An urban girl, I’ve always preferred renting and letting someone else deal with repairs and maintenance and yard work. I know, I know – renting is wasting money, blah blah blah. I’ve heard it for decades. Homeownership simply hasn’t held the allure for me that is has for millions of others.

And yet – The Mechanic and I are now Homeowners!!! It’s quite the mind shift for me, honestly, and I feel somewhat like I’ve given into that suburban lifestyle I’ve never wanted. But I’m perfectly happy – apparently my version of the American Dream turns out to be a pre-WWII two-story townhouse, trio of very fluffy rabbits, and a fleet of bicycles. We’ve actually been talking about buying a place since this time last year, and we finally found a place we love. It’s a two-story townhouse with a back deck overlooking green space. We will have a yard we don’t have to spend every weekend working on, hurray! It’s not a large place, but thanks to it’s pre-war design, square rooms, one bathroom and a small-ish kitchen, the rooms are larger than the modern apartment we currently live in with the same square footage. We are no longer walking distance to a Metro station, but the grocery store, cafes, restaurants and many bus lines are very nearby. It’s exciting to think of the possibilities of what we can do with this place!

Our new view!

Old townhouse equals old and gorgeous trees

The first thing we did was buy new dishes. New home = new look!The fluffy trio will stay at the foster mom’s until we move and then join us. The Mechanic is busy adding an “attic” to Gaston’s Tavern, so the threesome will have more space to run around when we aren’t home. We’ve been visiting our bunkids as often as we can. Gaston is definitely warming up and getting braver, but we haven’t seen him snuggle with Sullivan and Quinn yet. It’s only been two weeks – I’m not worried.

Oh my goodness, they beg like small dogs!

Breakfasting together

A friend said Gaston picked the angora siblings to be his body guards. I can see it, can’t you?

I’ve had to pack all my sewing stuff of course, so I won’t get anything done for a while. I don’t mind not getting my stuff done (lie, I totally do) but I am disappointed that the baby clothes I plan to make for some friends won’t be done before their different baby showers. Fabric swatches aren’t as fun as gifts as the finished product!

See you soon, my lovelies!

It might be a while before I get a chance to blog again, but there will be tons to update you on when I do!

So much green space around our new home!

 

 

 

 

Hoppy October!

No, that’s not a typo – this is really a hoppy October. I’ve been MIA the last few weeks because Gaston has been dating, and that has honestly taken up all my free time. My sewing projects laying neglected, but I have had some fun reflective fashion arrive. October will be all about the bunnies. Sounds like a hashtag, doesn’t it?

The Mechanic and I decided this summer that Gaston needed a friend. I love how much time he wants to spend with us, but feel bad when we don’t have the time. Rabbits are very social animals and wild rabbits live in warrens with dozens of family members. Why shouldn’t Gaston have a companion? So after much discussion and research, we approached the local rabbit rescue about bunny dating.  We took Gaston two different times to meet some eligible bunny bachelorettes.

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After Gaston met eight females (missed a photo of one) and pretty much ignored most of them, we joked about introducing him to a pair. And of course – he fell instantly in love with the largest, fluffiest angora siblings, Sullivan and Quinn. The Mechanic and I were in shock – we were not really prepared to bring home *two* more rabbits! But Gaston seemed so happy, and after having seen him with the others, well, how could we deny our bun-son? These English angoras are about 7lbs, compared to Gaston’s 3lbs, and just as fluffy and sweet as can be. Their foster mom said that Sullivan, the boy, loves to be held. Good thing too, since we’ll need to brush them every day! The angora’s foster mom took all three rabbits home with her to do the bonding. We hate not having them with us, but luckily, she lives nearby and we have been able to visit. It seems like it is going well, faster than the average of four weeks. Hopefully they can come home soon, one big happy fluffy family.Be sure to follow their adventures on Instagram @fluff_and_ears

In between driving Gaston around on his dates, I’ve lined up my fall sewing projects. I’m only planning two, since there will be so much other stuff going. The first will be a black floral peasant dress with reflective ribbon on the sleeves and hem, and reflective bias in the yoke seams.

The second, largest and most exciting project will be a coat with the Dashing Tweeds fabric I bought in London this past May. I’ve never made a coat, and will for sure be making a muslin first for fit. I don’t have enough for the full coat, so I’ll use it for the sleeves, collar and back belt.

And I finally achieved one of my sartorial goals – I finally purchased a Vespertine NYC blazer (I think I got the last black one). It’s so cool! I love it!

Fits great, good for work, and reflects perfectly on the bike! (sorry for the blurry image…)

I also ordered some reflective fabric, elastic and grosgrain ribbon from Mood Fabrics. That stash arrived the same day as the Vespertine blazer. #reflectivelove !

This isn’t reflective but also super cool – my Lorica Scudamore printed armor leggings finally arrived! I backed these  on Kickstarter months ago and they finally arrived. I can’t wait to wear them (I’m just not sure where….)!

So Hoppy October, everyone! Stay tuned for further adventures of bunnies, sewing and reflective fashion!

Revisiting Bike Fashion Options

I recently realized that I haven’t done much with women’s bike fashion outside of my own sewing projects (and admittedly I’ve gotten a bit away from making *everything* reflective and/or bike friendly). I haven’t done much non-commute biking a far too long, either, so it’s been a bit off my radar. I thought that maybe I’d be inspired to both bike and refocus my sewing if I found some great resources out there, so naturally I poked around on the Internet a bit. However, I found what I sort of suspected – there isn’t much going on.

Well that’s disappointing.

It’s not like there isn’t anything going on, of course. Here is my round up of options for the stylist city cyclist.

Resolute Bay

Resolute Bay recently released their women’s cycling jeans. Naturally I love the reflective details! (Resolute Bay is working on a really cool reflective jacket too – for men.) But man, these jeans look tight on the model – how are normal sized women supposed to feel about that? Maybe I’m feeling overly sensitive after realizing how much weight I gained this summer (oops, not biking enough) but I can’t get excited about tight jeans.

Ligne 8

Ligne 8 is still around and has added more pieces since I looked last time, including “cycling gear,” which seem to be geared towards the road bike crowd – jerseys, padded shorts, bibs. I love the “urban” collection of A-line skirts, basic shirts, and several non-jeans pants.   I wish I could afford to order some of these pieces to see what they feel and wear like, but alas, they are out of my price range. That is – I’d rather spend the money on fabric! Still, it’s a nice collection of wardrobe basics for the woman (or man) who likes to look classic and classy on the bike and at the destination.

Reid Miller Apparel

I met Reid Miller in DC a few years ago and backed her cycling jeans on Kickstarter, which are my favorite cycling jeans. Reid has been busy with her company and blogging about the the sustainable manufacturing journey she has been on over the last two years.  I’ve read her updates with interest as she examines fast fashion and it’s negative impact on the garment industry in the United States. You can still order her Riding Jeans, and she is relaunching the Riding Jacket this fall, but if nothing else, I recommend reading some of her blog posts.

Here I am in August 2015, trying on the Reid Miller jacket and jeans

The Willary

The Willary is a new company that has gained many fans among the women I follow on social media. The company’s tagline is “A wardrobe that works” and each piece of the Core Wardrobe is made of stain resistant, stretch fabrics in classic shapes. I love the dress, the Core Dress, which to me is one of those perfect travel pieces (I live in this fantasy that I travel alot and need things that work for every destination, haha!). It’s short and doesn’t seem quite bike-friendly enough, but that’s no reason to not like it! I do like the way they have approached different body shapes, as explained in their video. I hope they have the opportunity to expand their collection; I’ll be keeping an eye on it.

The Willary Core Dress (Image from The Willary website)

 

REI

REI seems to have redone their Novara brand because the cycling clothing has moved away from the casual, everyday clothing I used to like and now only seems to have “biking” clothing. That’s disappointing, and makes me like the pieces I still have, like my Whittier Dress from 2014 (!!!).

When this dress was new – THREE years ago!

Anything Else?

There must be more out there for the everyday person who happens to ride a bike and not want to wear spandex. I do like T Athleta and Title Nine , but most of their things are still pretty sporty for my tastes. Terry Bicycles often has some non-spandex options. And since I don’t wear jeans often, cycling jeans aren’t what I’m looking for. So help me out and introduce me to collections I have missed!

Onward to Autumn!

Welcome to the unofficial start of Autumn! Hope you enjoyed the Labor Day weekend!

September started off with a preview of what’s to come this fall – cooler temperatures, rainy weather and pumpkin flavors. It’s not fall without some crazy pumpkin flavored foods, is it?!

I do love pumpkin spice things, similarly to the way I love chai tea, so I do look forward to pumpkin beers and fall flavored things. Yes, unless the pumpkin!

Unleash the Pumpkin!

But I do draw the line somewhere – I’m just not sure about pumpkin spice pudding, and this atomic pumpkin spice beer might be a spice too far for me. I’m not the only one to think this trend has gone on for too long, but I know I won’t bail to the maple-flavored everything trend. Not a huge fan of maple.

I was pretty excited to find Dole Whip at our local Nando’s Peri-Peri, however. I just love this light pineapple-flavored soft serve. I’ve only had it before at Disney World or Disneyland, so it brings back memories of those trips. While this past weekend was Labor Day, it was also The Mechanic’s birthday weekend. He has been sick but we still managed a small celebration. I brought home vegan cookies from Bakeshop VA, a local bakery, not because we are vegan, but because the bakery sells several different kinds of vegan cookies and I was curious. Our highly scientific experiment proved that they are just as tasty as non-vegan cookies. And for his birthday dinner, we both opted for Belgian beers. No crazy pumpkin beers for us! (Yet.)

An unintentional ironic pairing, for anyone who knows their French history….

But before you begin to wonder if I’ve suddenly become a food blogger, not to worry! Sewing did in fact happen this weekend as well.

I made a skirt out of the IKEA fabric I recently purchased and wore it out the same day, to dinner with The Mechanic. It was cool and rainy so I sadly accessorized with boots and a blazer. (When you walk places instead of drive, proper footwear is key.) Although I didn’t quite get the box pleats right, and it only has a token reflective ribbon loop on the waistband, I really love the skirt. I think this will be a great all-season option.

I had hoped to get my Liberty of London Stars blouse completed this weekend as well, but I seem to be battling The Mechanic’s cold (nooooooooo!) and my brain was not thinking right. What I got done took probably twice as long as it normally would. I just need to finish it this month, because it looks like our schedules are going to get busy, despite our best efforts to the contrary. September is National Sewing Month (huzzah!) and I am participating in Sew Photo Hop again. It’s an Instagram challenge with a daily topic. I’m not sure how it will go but keep an eye on my Instagram account to follow along. I really enjoy this more to see what everyone else posts, rather than sharing my sewing. I redid my mood board over the weekend as well, and as The Mechanic said, “it’s so dark!” I’m not sure why I’m so drawn to dark florals and celestial prints when I normally prefer rich fall colors for cold weather. Time for a change, I guess. And isn’t that what a new season is all about?

Summer’s Last Gasp

We all know that at least here in the DC area, there will be a random week at the end of September or mid-October when summer roars back to life and brings on the heat. However, Labor Day weekend is pretty much the end of summer for everyone, even if you don’t have kids going back to school.

And I spent some time last week with local teachers gearing up for back-to-school, which gave me the “summer’s over” feelings even more. However, I did get to see the eclipse with the teachers. Nothing like watching a scientific event with a bunch of educators! I didn’t have a pair of glasses, but teachers shared, and anyway, I almost enjoyed the low tech ways of seeing it anyway. The shadows on the ground from the tree leaves, a colander and a pinhole were really cool. The tree leaf shadows made me think of fabric prints.

I didn’t plan this for back to school but I do have a fun new hairstyle for it. I didn’t realize I had a hair cut scheduled for this weekend, fun! My salon has a light that makes me look amazing, so I snuck a selfie while my stylist took photos for her portfolio. I love changing up my hairstyles.The Mechanic and I took a field trip to IKEA over the weekend as well. And look! They had the IKEA bikes set up! Naturally we spent some time playing with them and analyzing the features. I almost bought the pannier/backpack they sell but as it was plain black, I decided against it. But it’s great that they offer everything from that to helmets to small pumps to U-locks, as well as the bikes and all the accessories. We didn’t buy anything at IKEA, well, not much. I bought a jar and some fabric. That’s right, fabric! I’ve always studied the fabrics when we go but I couldn’t resist this print. It’s on a rather heavy twill so I think I will simply box pleat it onto a waistband and see how it goes. Maybe I’ll line it as well, but I’m not sure. Looking ahead at the calendar for the next few months, I’ve realized that I won’t have much time to sew <weep>. Time to focus on the fall/winter projects. I have several lined up, so I have to make sure I FOCUS on what I really want to get done. I’m taking classes two weekends in a row from the store where I purchased my new sewing machine. They offer “getting to know your new machine” classes, and although I’ve already made a bunch of stuff with it, I’m sure there will be plenty to learn. Then I can focus on my winter coat and a brocade jacket. But first, I just need to finish this blouse, made with the Liberty of London print I purchased in the spring when we were in London. Then the IKEA skirt. But then no more distractions! Winter is coming and I need to be prepared!The other thing that happened this past weekend has nothing to do with summer – it was the first anniversary of Gaston’s Adoption Day! Although he wasn’t feeling well for most of the day, he eventually bounced back and has mostly forgiven us for picking him up and shoving meds in his mouth. It’s amazing how a little fluffy 3lb rabbit can change our lives in one year. I look forward to many more.

Love this sweet fluffy boy!

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Nothing But Flowers

Life has been a bit crazy and a lot boring from too much going on – and by boring, I mean, work work work work work. No biking and no sewing. I haven’t even gotten the sewing space set up yet! Although that is partially because I spent most of Sunday binge watching Netflix series “Grace and Frankie.” It’s a fun show that packs a serious emotional punch at the same time. A highly scientific Facebook survey of my friends showed that I am not the only one my age who likes this show about retired couples. Everyone has given it thumbs up.

Binge watching aside, I apparently needed time away from everything. The Mechanic was out of town for the weekend, so it was just Gaston and I puttering around the apartment. I did get most of my to-do list done, so it wasn’t totally wasted, but still, no biking and no sewing. So instead of photos of a fun bike ride or my latest sewing project, all I have for you is flowers. But you know what? Sometimes I think we all need a little more beauty in our lives.

We have had a ton of rain lately (although that is fairly normal for summers here, it somehow seems like more than our fair share), and with that we get mushrooms popping up on the lawns everywhere. I love the ones that create fairy rings, or almost rings. Don’t they seem magical? My favorite, however, is this spot of sidewalk where annually some zinnia pushes through the cement and makes it’s own statement. It’s like one of those motivational posters, don’t you think?

Nevertheless, it persisted

Settling the Sewing

Well, that was chaotic! And a bit of a disaster. The Mechanic and I moved into our new apartment, only to discover that it has a fatal flaw: a low, sustained, throbbing noise, apparently from a mechanical closet that backs up to one side of our apartment. It’s like having a very large idling truck right next to your bed. So after we got everything more or less settled, we realized we can’t sleep with that noise, so we swapped bedrooms – now our bed is in the larger bedroom, further from the noise, while our craft equipment is crammed into the smaller room next to the loud noise. I guess when the sewing machine is going, maybe I won’t hear it? I’m not sure what we are going to do but at least we can’t hear it as loudly in the larger bedroom.  : (

Poor little Gaston has had a hard time settling into the new place. I’m not sure how the noise is affecting him, but the other night we woke up to him frantically thumping (a warning or distress noise for rabbits), and came out to find him running around the living room – somehow he busted out of his pen! He goes back and forth between content and unhappy. I’m unhappy at the idea that our noise apartment is bothering him. The low drumming bothers us, how can it not bother him?

I returned from New Orleans to find some fabric orders waiting for me. One was polar fleece for new rabbit blankets, but the other two were exciting. One was the Charley Harper Western Birds quilting cotton I ordered months ago from Fabricworm.com – this new collection was delayed forever and I was thrilled to learn it was finally shipping. However….. the print is MUCH larger than I was expecting. I was thinking the birds were about an inch, inch and a half, perfect for a small print blouse. But no – they are huge!

Not really blouse fabric. Now what do I do with it?!

The other fabrics I ordered after seeing an Instagram sewing friend make a fabulous dress with one. You know me and florals – I can’t resist them! I ordered this wildflower print rayon from Blackbird Fabrics in both the black and the white. I think I know what I want to make with the black, but the white I will save for next summer.

SO lovely! (spotted in the corner – the polar fleece for bunnies)

All the fall clothing is beginning to appear now, even though we probably have three more months of warm weather. I’m amused to see that several companies have denim shirt dresses prominently displayed.

I like the denim button front dress I made last year but I don’t love it, so I’m considering making another one. Maybe something a bit more bike friendly, ie, with a fuller skirt. Although I did bike to friends’ wedding anniversary cocktail party in my bug-bejeweled Victoria Beckham for Target Little Black Dress last weekend – who needs to drive when going to a party?! (PS – Spanx help more than just sucking in one’s tummy! If one needed to, that is… )

I spotted this blouse in Target:

Love this!

It gives me some flashbacks to my childhood and Laura Ashley and my obsession with the Little House on the Prairie books (NOT the TV show), which I loved. The fabric is fun, the polka dotted piping is fun, and obviously you can see where I’d put reflective piping. I just need to find a pattern for this – anyone know of a close match?

I’m anxious to get back to sewing but the sewing space is barely set up. I decided to use the setting up process as a good time to prioritize stuff, sort out fabric scraps, decided if I really need my paper fashion scrap books, etc. Then I need to register for the “Getting to know your sewing machine” classes at the store where I purchased my new Husqvarna Viking. Although I’ve made several things since I bought it, I’m sure I’ll learn a ton from the classes, so I need to do that. But by then, it will be mid-September. I guess I need to start my fall and winter projects, and put the rest of my summer things away for a while. I think I need to sew faster!

My half of the craft room – same stuff, almost the same floor plan.

From New Orleans to New Apartment

A week again I was in New Orleans for work. The Association for Commuter Transportation held its annual conference in the Big Easy, five days of greeting industry friends, meeting new ones, learning a lot and being inspired.

One of the highlights was hearing Elizabeth Levin and LaVerne Reid talk about women in transportation and different experiences breaking into a traditionally male industry decades ago. I bought the book “Boots on the Ground, Flats in the Boardroom,” and am looking forward to reading it. Hopefully someday soon….

I didn’t do any biking while in New Orleans but saw the brilliant (and I do mean that literally!) Social Ride, with at least 20 people riding bikes almost entirely covered in lights. That was on Frenchmen Street, where we also enjoyed some local music and beverages.

One of the conference vendors was Lime Bike, a dockless bikeshare system. I love the bikes for their design, but also the solar panels in the front baskets that power the digitally-connected ring locks that unlock the bike for you. I think they mostly cater to the university transportation people at the conference. 

Upon my return from the conference, I jumped in to help The Mechanic finish our move. It sounds like everything that could possibly go wrong did, and we are only now digging out from the chaos. It will be a relief to get settled. Gaston is already quite comfortable in the new place, but then again, he is still in his same place. 

I shall be back to my regular blogging schedule but alas, I doubt I will get any sewing done. It’s just as well – nothing like moving to make me feel like I have too much stuff. I’m trying to purge as I unpacked. Do I really need 6 lipsticks in almost the same color?!?

Let me leave you with some photos from Dat Dog on Frenchmen Street. This hot dog place (yes they have vegetarian/vegan options) is being redecorated in an intergalactic style – complete with Chewbacca over the bar. I love this place.