Moving to a State of Hope

The world has changed at both a snail’s pace and with overwhelming rapidity over the last month or so. From initial concerns over Coronavirus and staying home, to anger and grief over the murder of George Floyd and the ongoing protests against racism and police brutality, and now Coronavirus cases exploding in areas that had rapidly reopened, it’s hard to keep up with everything.

Protest art in Providence

In the middle of all this uncertainty and unrest, The Mechanic and I are moving, far from the Washington, DC, metro area.  Someday, when we being to return to worksites, I’ll be taking a commuter train from Providence, RI, to a small town in southern Massachusetts, where my new job is headquartered. Yes, we are moving to Rhode Island. The smallest state in the United States by area, Rhode Island is tucked between Connecticut and Massachusetts, and called the Ocean State because so much of the border is ocean coastline.  The state motto is “hope,” and it’s on the state flag, along with an anchor, which has it’s own hopeful symbolism – a traditionally Christian symbol, it signifies strength and stability.

Rhode Island’s “hope” anchor as bike wheels!

Right now, I think we all need to be in a state of hope. Hope that Americans will wake up to the seriousness of Coronavirus and work together to bring down the alarming infection and death rates. Hope that Americans have at last woken up the the racism that seeps through our society, because Black lives matter. Hope that the economy won’t break the country, ruin the arts, and push us into a great depression like that of the 1930s. Hope that we will come out of this stronger and more united, because we care about others. Not back to normal – better than before.

Gay Pride Hope in Providence

I will let you decide what hopes you have, and what symbols bring you hope and strength. I have an anchor charm (from Alex and Ani, ironically, a Rhode Island company)  and a rabbit charm to remind me to have hope.

Rabbit leaping over an obstacle with the Latin phrase “Spes Vincit Thronum,” meaning “Hope Conquers”

The next time you hear from me, I will be biking and sewing in a whole new area! I look forward to exploring and learning new things, and I *hope* you will stay tuned for adventures ahead.

One of many huge murals on a building wall in Providence, this is called “Still Here,” and pays tribute to the Narragansett Tribe. Art by @gaiastreetart.

Another mural in downtown Providence.

 

Stay-at-Home Celebrating

Like so many others, I recently celebrated a birthday from the isolation of my own home. But I wasn’t alone – between Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, and Zoom, I saw more friends and family than I have in birthdays past. Add on delivery brunch and cupcakes and a special beer mailed from Dortmund, Germany, and it was a lovely day!

Many of my Taurus and April/May birthday friends have all vowed to celebrate at a later date, when we are allowed to, and feel safe about, meet in person, in groups, again. I don’t know, I may opt for another Zoom party. In our new lives (no, not when we “return” to “normal,” as life will clearly not ever be normal again), video connections will be easier, more comfortable, the new normal. What previously seemed like a momentous thing is now a quick click of a mouse or tap on an app. I remember being horrified at the thought of being able to see someone on the other line, back in the day when video phone calls were first “a thing of the future.” I didn’t want someone seeing that I was ironing while I talked to them – now it’s no big deal. Think about it – how many conference calls do pets and children wander through? What’s a few shirts ironed between friends?

Livin’ the Zoom Life

Speaking of shirts, I hustled to finish a new shirt before May 1. May is the sewists’ holiday – Me Made May. I wanted to get my new citrus shirt done to kick off the month, and I did – and I love it! The collar turned out perfectly, I found these perfect little round orange buttons, and I just love love love the print. It makes me happy, and don’t we all need happy things right now?!

Other things I’ve been celebrating includes: Star Wars Day/May the Fourth; my “new” 1973 Raleigh bicycle; and allllll the spring flowers in vibrant, brilliant bloom. I need hot pink pants, clearly.

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What have you been doing to celebrate life’s small and large moments? I hope you have something bright, happy, and wild to keep your spirits up!

Keeping Up With Current Changes

It’s been a month since I last wrote a blog post and my goodness doesn’t it seem like a lifetime ago?! Everything has changed in the last 4-5 weeks. COVID-19 rules the world, and with so much uncertainty about the future, staying home and staying safe truly is the way to get through the next weeks and months. But, as humans do, we’ve adapted in these emergency scenarios, and are getting through it with the same resourcefulness, determination, and compassion that we’ve used to get through other crises. It’s not always pretty but its happening.

For The Mechanic and I, life goes on more or less the same, with some obvious and not-so-obvious changes.

  • Still working from home. My new coworkers are the bunnies and I still take way too many pictures of them during my work day.
  • My weekends now consist of making fabric masks for friends and family who request them. Lately, cities and states around the US are recommending individuals wear masks if they are out, especially to grocery stores and on public transit, for those who still need it.
  • I’m trying really hard to get *some* exercise every day but it’s not always working. But the changes I *do not* want to see after this is over are the ones happening to my waistline so the comfort food needs to go. Maybe I’ll be healthier once this is over! #goals
  • Speaking of goals, I have to change up my Cheese-Chocolate-Champagne goals. Some of them aren’t relevant anymore, such as biking to work twice a week.
  • I feel better when I wear real shoes to “work.” Don’t ask me why, I just do. It feels more official. Even more than wearing makeup.
  • I’m saving a ton of money by not eating out and not running to Target every day from work. I had no idea how much I was really spending doing that, ulp. On the other hand, my online ordering seems to increased….
  • We are eating at home more but also trying to support our favorite locally-owned restaurants. Picking food up to go doesn’t have the same feel but it’s a welcome break from our admittedly uninspired home cooking and frozen meals.

There’s one really big change though – I started a new job! Yep, nothing like a pandemic to not only change jobs, but to one that is located in a different state. Of course, when I started the process, coronavirus was barely on our radar, and my main worry was apartment hunting in a new city. That’s a worry I’ve put off for a while. First things first. Speaking of first, on my first day of my new job, even though I was still at home, I dressed up, put on makeup, aforementioned real shoes, and decorated my standing desk. It made it feel more official. Of course, one week in and I’m well into the new job and super busy, and I may have given up again on the makeup….

I’m sure your lives have changed as well. We know we are fortunate, and think all the time of those who have lost jobs, are newly essential at their now-high risk jobs (grocery store staff and anyone working with the public), medical staff everywhere, and are also attempting to teach their children at the same time. I hope when we come out of this, the changes we see as a society recognize the value of those who perform the services we truly can’t live without.

 

 

 

TinLizzie-ing in a Time of Coronavirus

We are well into social distancing and lockdowns and stores closing, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Mechanic and I are both teleworking, which suits me – my desk is right next to the bunnies’ pen, so I get to watch them All. The. Time. Few things make me as happy as watching them snuggle together and play – also, two of them squeak-snore, how adorable is that?!??!?

Being a naturally anxious person who worries about everything, the uncertainty of our current state of affairs is hard to suppress. Luckily, there are distractions beyond the bunnies, namely, sewing, biking, and Spring flowers.

Hooray for warm weather biking! This cotton lawn shirt was lightweight and comfy, just as I’d hoped it would be!

When you inadvertently dress like your Galaxy’s Edge reusable bag….

Speaking of Star Wars (which we weren’t really but whatever), this Star Wars print cotton I ordered on clearance from Joann Fabrics arrived yesterday – if only all telework days could include fabric deliveries!

My telework days don’t really give me much more time to sew, so I am looking forward to staying home this weekend to finish this shirt I started last weekend. It looks like my bunnies! I’m trying a new shirt pattern with this one, and yes, it will have white reflective piping on it. Stay tuned! I’m playing a telework game of sorts with myself – I am going to wear each of my print shirts every day until I’ve worn them all. Most of them I’ve made myself but not all. I feel like I don’t wear them enough, which is silly, since I love them, so now is my time! I’m calling them my telework uniform. Soon the bunny shirt will be in the mix too.

I can make it through several weeks with all these shirts! (and clearly I don’t really need to make more…..)

How I telework – do you have a telework style?

I’m thankful that my company has the ability to let us work from home. So many small businesses and my friends in the theater community are suffering from loss of employment and revenue. I don’t want to talk too much about my work when they are losing out. I wish I could support all the small businesses I love, but I can’t afford to. I just hope they make it out in the end, whenever that comes.

My wine sippy cup from small business Stonemountain and Daughters Fabrics arrived just in time!

Luckily, it’s spring, and trees and plants are in bloom, and the grass and leaves are returning. I’ve been trying to walk at least once a day, but I’m aiming for twice. I need to be more disciplined about getting some exercise! Just seeing all the green things brings a bit of peace and comfort. We’ll get through this. We’ll return to normal, regardless of what that looks like a year from now.

Lightly Bounding Through Disney World

Disney bounding is a subculture, or maybe side culture, of cosplay, or dressing up in costume. But it’s a bit different, because adults are not allowed to dress up in costume the way kids are. So “Disney bounding” is a way to dress like your favorite Disney character without actually being in costume. Thanks to Kay, the woman who started it, and her *amazing* Instagram account, for unleashing an extra fun way to enjoy the Disney parks.

I don’t know what the exact rules for Disney bounding are, so I’m not 100% sure my outfits count, hence “lightly bounding” through Disney World. Not in your face, my subtle nods to some of my favorite characters made me happy, even if no one else noticed. (Actually, several people noticed my Maleficent skirt, but more on that later.) I began and ended with some of my more subtle outfits, two different shirts I made in the last several years, inspired by previous trips. In between, my outfits were a bit more obvious, but sadly, because the weather got really cold the last few days we were there, I was so bundled up, no one really got to see my favorite Star Wars shirt! Anyway, here’s a review:

Super Subtle:

  • Dinosaurs! I wore my Liberty of London dinosaurs shirt the first day, because I had lunch at the T-Rex Restaurant in Disney Springs. It was hard to get a photo, so sorry about the bad selfie. I haven’t outgrown dinosaurs!

My dino shirt in front of a dino in a truck!

  • Jungle Cruise! The last day, another travel day, I wore my Jungle Cruise shirt, yes, inspired by the ride of the same name. Again, it was cold, so I layered with my tangerine orange cardigan, to which I’d stitched a pale blue Disney “D.” Those who know will realize that it’s the Disneyland “D,” not the Disney World “D,” but I haven’t found the later in a patch. (I wore my jacket and scarf over all of this, to be honest – a high of 60*F in Orlando is chilly!).

The ceramic plates on the wall make a nice background for my Jungle Cruise shirt and bright sweater!

Less Subtle:

  • Spaceship Earth: At least, I think this one was more obvious. I really love the design of this classic EPCOT ride, so this Marcy Tilton fabric jumped out at me when I saw it last summer. The added bonus is that this is a shirt I can wear to work or anywhere, without it screaming “DISNEY!” What do you think – subtle or not so subtle?

Standing in front of Spaceship Earth in my Spaceship Earth top

  • Finding Nemo: I mean, this IS Finding Nemo fabric – can’t you see Nemo, Marlin, and Dory? But it’s a cute stripe of sorts, and one that can be worn at any waterside location. I took it to Bermuda the last time we went – hey, there are tons of fish there!

Finding Nemo print skirt with my bright cardigan and rose gold Minnie Ears

Also coordinated my Bikie Girl Bloomers under this skirt for some modesty climbing in and out of rides.

Fishes, next to fishes in Animal Kingdom!

  • Star Wars: I had several Star Wars themed garments with me on this trip. The Millennium Falcon top I made using the Sew Liberated Esme Top pattern (if I make it again, I can size down for sure). It was fairly subtle but hey, the Millennium Falcon and R2D2 are clearly visible – if you look closely.

Standing in front of the Millennium Falcon! <squee!!!> The necklace is supposed to be similar to the one Princess Leia wore at the end of the first movie, during the award ceremony.

Closer look at the print….

Although the first two days we were in the parks were hot, in the 80s, the last two barely peaked past 60*. So my fabulous Star Wars Hey June Lane Raglan tee was only briefly ever visible. I stripped off the layers to get this photo, then hastily added back my extra long sleeve shirt, my Leia jacket, and my supernova print scarf.

Star Wars print tee, silver holographic Minnie Ears, and droids in pieces – perfect!

Gorgeous Art Nouveau styling of my Princess Leia jacket, bought two years ago.

Princess Leia is my favorite Disney princess!

Not at All Subtle

  • Maleficent: My most obvious and more remarked upon outfit was the Maleficent skirt I made shortly before the trip. It was made specifically for the Villains After Party at the Magic Kingdom. I’m not normally a huge Disney Villains fan but I had to have something thematic – er, bounding! And this was the perfect way to test the skirt pattern. Several women complimented me on it, one wearing a scarf of the same fabric! Several wanted to know where I’d gotten the fabric, so I turned them onto fabric shopping on Etsy. Because the party started at 10pm and ended at 1am, and we were in the park until well after that, and the temperature floated down into the 40s (eek!), I wore tights, another pair of coordinated Bikie Girl Bloomers, a tee shirt, a turtleneck, a cardigan, my scarf, then purchased a Haunted Mansion hoody – and I was still cold! But it was worth it, 100%!

Showing off my Bikie Girl Bloomers! That’s almost villainous, right?

Accessories

I added some accessories to what I’d taken with me. But first, let me just shout the praises of the Minnie ear holder – such a brilliant accessory that made the trip. Those ears aren’t all-day-long comfortable, just so you know! I was able to move it between bags, and always had a place for those ears.

I bought this amazing droid/R2D2 fully reflective baseball cap in Galaxy’s Edge – it’s like they made it just for me!!!

Reflective droid baseball cap, standing in line at Oga’s Cantina in Galaxy’s Edge

Clan of R2D2?

I also got my “name” embroidered on a Mickey hat! I mean, why not, right?!

TinLizzie Mickey Ears

I also bought shoelace charms, no doubt intended for kids’ shoes. But the tea cup and clock face from It’s a Small World are two of my (admittedly many) favorite Disney designs. And hey, they are the same color as my Dansko sneakers! So now my shoes *and* my socks show my love of sewing for some lightly bounding Disney #memade outfits.

Sewing themed socks, Disney themed shoes!

What do you think? Subtle or not-so-subtle? Have you ever done Disney bounding? What are your thoughts on thematic dressing (not Disney related)? Do you think I’m crazy…? Don’t tell me if you do, haha!

Maybe I’m Overdoing the Disney Planning….

Not long now before a long-planned trip to Disney World with some girlfriends! I’m super excited, and have been madly planning and sewing for months now. So with apologies to my bike-y reflective fashion followers (and perhaps many more of you), here’s what I’ve been sewing for my trip.

In my last post, I shared my Spaceship Earth tunic. Spaceship Earth is not only one of my favorite rides, but the iconic feature of EPCOT. I’m really looking forward to wearing this not only because I love it and enjoy its subtle nod to the ride, but it’s not quite cotton lawn tunic weather here in Northern Virginia, and I haven’t gotten to wear it yet!

Style Arc Lennie Overshirt

I just made this fun Maleficent skirt to wear to the Villains After Hours party the last night we are there. I’m not normally one for the Disney villains but if I’m going to their party, I feel like I should dress respectfully, amirite? I had planned on downloading a skirt pattern from an independent company but they are on vacation and it wasn’t available. So I dug around in my pattern box and found this McCalls out of print pleated skirt pattern I bought ages ago. This is the perfect opportunity to test the pattern – if I don’t like it, I’m probably not going to wear a Maleficent skirt often, so it won’t matter if I don’t like it!

McCalls 7253 skirt pattern

Turns out, I love the pattern! And I love the skirt. The pleats are flattering and create the skirt fullness I love without making my hips look *huge*. I added some flame stitching, in homage to Maleficent (no dragon stitch on my machine, alas). Next time I will add pockets, since the pattern doesn’t call for them. Cause there is definitely going to be a next time for this pattern! Speaking of digging around in my stash – despite planning on wearing jeans with the tops I have made, I realized the weather might be too warm for jeans, and I might need shorts. Expect I don’t love the shorts I own. So I pulled out a knit skirt pattern that I have made multiple times for a friend but never for me, then discovered a big enough piece of navy blue knit fabric to squeeze out the pattern pieces. And voila! A new skirt that will actually be perfect for many, many casual occasions, even if I don’t wear it at Disney World.

I’ve also bought a few things for the trip that I probably could make on my own but didn’t want to work out with limited time. These clear vinyl zip bags are perfect for zipping (as it were) through the security lines on the way into the parks. I ordered one each from two different Etsy sellers, both of whom have fun options. But I really love the Mary Blair style of the one first one, and the calm parks scenes of the second one. I may be sorry I bought the smaller sizes; I have such a hard time packing light!

Clear vinyl pouch by Amy’s Small World/Etsy

Clear vinyl pouch by CYFCreations/Etsy

Another clever Disney trip thing I ordered from Etsy is this fun turquoise glitter Minnie Ear holder. The carabiner makes it easy to clip to any bag, purse, or belt loop, and the Mickey snap fastens easily around the headband’s bow. I should now, I tried all four of my ears on this! It also means I can take a smaller bag into the parks with me, since I won’t need to worry about fitting the ears into a bag when I opt not to wear them (they do squeeze my skull after a while!).

Minnie Ear Holder holding my silver Minnie ears on my #memade silver glitter purse

Going further down the Etsy-Disney rabbit hole, I found these *adorable* Hidden Mickey rose pins, and ordered a mystery pack. These will be so cute pinned to my tops or jackets!

Don’t worry, I will share my outfits with me in them after I get back (or you can follow along on my Instagram account)! Sewing projects never look the same on a hanger as they do on a body, so I do apologize for the lame photos.

MeMade Disney sewing – some subtle prints, some not-so-subtle prints!

Of course, once this trip is over, I need to start thinking about sewing for the next trip.! I’m all about the planning, haha! The Mechanic and I are going to Costa Rica with his family this spring, and although I don’t have much planned for that, I do have two garments that I want to make before we go. I’ll *try* not to over-plan that trip the way I clearly have this one though….

Really, I need to clear my table – literally and figuratively – to FINALLY make my reflective tweed jacket. That is a big project and I need to clear my head so I can really focus on that. I’m not good at slow sewing, but really want to do a good job on this.

Just because Cinderella’s mice friends made her a ballgown quickly doesn’t mean I need to make a tweed jacket quickly! Although if my fairy godmother would like to come along behind me to clean it up, that would be okay too : )

In Praise of a Crafty Long Weekend

January and February are two of my favorite months – not because of the weather (brrr) but because we get two long weekends. That means extra time for sewing! And I had a very productive Martin Luther King Day weekend.

First up on the craftiness list was completing my long-planned Epcot Spaceship Earth tunic. I bought this fabric from Marcy Tilton’s website in early summer last year, knowing that I would be going to Disney World in February 2020. It’s the perfect fabric to wear something *Disney* without wearing something DISNEY. I’ll be wearing plenty that screams Disney, but this is a tunic I know I’ll be able to wear in the office once the weather warms up. It’s a nice soft, lightweight fabric, maybe a lawn, but I’m not sure what the criteria for that might be. I not only cut the collar upside down though, and didn’t have enough fabric to recut it, but I didn’t like how stiff it was – why do I even bother interfacing collars when I know I won’t like it?!??! Despite venting to my Instagram friends and getting a ton of positive feedback on the collar, I decided to forego the collar and just left the band. And you know, I think I will really like it that way. The pattern is Style Arc’s Lennie over-shirt, and it was the first time I’d tried a Style Arc pattern. Good thing I know how to construct a shirt, because the first step in the instructions was to attach the collar. Uh, no.  Despite this and some other pattern hinkiness, I really love the way this shirt came out and can see making it again.

Style Arc Lennie Overshirt

Minnie ears to coordinate with the Spaceship Earth tunic

Speaking of pattern hinkiness (wait, is this even a word? How else do you describe something that didn’t work the way it was supposed to because the instructions were weird/hard to understand/etc.?), I also completed the long-planned Sew Sweetness Dot Dot Dash bag. I have been wanting to “improve” the crossbody bag I like the most, one I have been carrying for a few years now. It has some front pockets I don’t care for, it doesn’t have a back outside pocket, I wish it had a key chain lanyard, and the double side pockets are useless to me. So I took the foundation of the  small Dot Dot Dash bag and added a zipped back pocket, reflective pockets on the ends, simple pockets on the inside, and a key lanyard. I did not taper the top as the pattern suggests, and I didn’t make the carrying strap, but used cotton webbing instead. I knew I’d hate myself if I tried to turn a long skinny vinyl strap! Along the way, I managed to put the lining in backwards, so the small pockets I intended to be on the back are actually on the front (where the official and nice zippered pocket is). And somehow I managed to stitch the strap on backwards, so the hardware is in the front when I wear it how I prefer. Don’t even get me started on the top zipper installation; whew I really screwed that up!!! But you know what? I don’t really care – not too much anyway. I love the bag and will use it alot. I am already plotting another, improved, version though!

Sew Sweetness Dot Dot Dash bag in silver glitter vinyl with reflective pockets

Looking forward to road-testing my new bag!

The third crafty thing I did this weekend was take part in Old Town Alexandria’s Makers Mile weekend. For $30, I got a totebag and did a craft at the five participating shops. We also got free hot chocolate at Nicecream, plus a free dessert at Augie’s Beer Garden. My friend and I stitched up little fabric trays at Stitch Sew Shop, stitched fluff onto a wooden sheep using merino yarn at Fibre Space, crafted magnets at Penny Post, hand painted little wooden signs at AR Workshop, and mixed our own custom bath salts at Red Barn Mercantile. I also bought a pom pom maker, a button extender measurement tool, a “Hop to It” notepad, eraser and BitchStix chapstick, and a few pins.  The day started off snowy and ended in rain, so not the best day to be out wandering, but crafting keeps one warm, right? It was fun and I look forward to next year’s!

Maker’s Mile tote bag and loot

Now that I have a few projects crossed off my long-term list, I can turn my focus (for a while) to my reflective tweed jacket. It’s been waiting since August for me to get through some other, easier, things. But I think now is the time! I can make little bits of progress here and there while I wait for February’s long weekend, when I’ll have more dedicated time to sew. In the meantime, I need to focus on my Cheese-Chocolate-Champagne goals and get some other things done! What sort of things do you do on your long winter weekends?

Cheese, Chocolate, and Champagne Goals for 2020

It’s a new year, and a new decade, and it seems like *everyone* has been busy posting goals and resolutions and predictions for both the year and the decade. But it seems to me like rather than “New Year, New You” resolutions, everyone really sees the new date on the calendar as the opportunity to return to their pre-holiday season selves. “Eat healthier!” – we were all doing that before Halloween. “Work out more!” – even the best intentions somehow fall aside during the last few weeks of the year. So rather than set resolutions, I’m simply going to return to where I was before the holidays.

But let’s be honest – it gets tiring after a while, the same ole, same ole. The Mechanic and I were discussing goal setting, and how really, there are BIG goals and little goals, and they should be categorized differently. He objected to my Bronze-Silver-Gold level goals idea, so I suggested Cheese-Chocolate-Champagne instead. This sounds much more fun, doesn’t it?!

The Cheese goals are the smaller ones, like “Doing 15 minutes of yoga four days in a row,” or “Biking to work RT once a week.” And yes, that means I earn cheese for achieving these goals. The Chocolate goals are a bit bigger, like “Biking to work four times a week (or RT twice – I’m splitting my bike commutes with the bus these days),” or “Blogging once a week.” Champagne goals are, as you might now guess, The Big Goals. I’ve included in this category “Not buying any fabric in a month” as well as “Not buying any clothing in a month.” Ad yes, I am creating a big ole giant spreadsheet to track all this.

Not buying any fabric in a month might seem a bit radical to you, especially knowing how much I love to sew. But I have such a long list of lingering projects that I want to finish, and need to finish, before starting anything else. The other reason for this goal is the fabric buying spreadsheet I started in June. I was curious to track when I was buying fabric, and from where, since I couldn’t keep it straight. Then I noticed that not only was I spending a ton of money on fabric (not even expensive fabric!), I wasn’t making the planned garments as fast as I was planning.

June-Dec 2019 Fabric Purchases Spreadsheet

And really…. I don’t *need* any more clothing. Well, I always need pants. I can’t seem to find pants I like, #memade or store bought. But I have plenty of shirts and sweaters and skirts and things. So anything I make now is just for fun, “frosting,” if you will. Of course, this is why I sew, because it’s fun, but this past year, I was really trying to focus on things I need to have a more complete #memade wardrobe. I don’t think I’ll ever achieve a 100% #memade wardrobe but it is SUCH a satisfying feeling on the days it does happen.

My fabric stash runneth over! Yes, that’s bin is pretty much my only stash and many of the pieces are earmarked for things. I don’t tend to stash, but buy with a plan in mind. I just need to stop planning!!!

That being said… I have several trips in the first half of 2020, which means sewing for them. Doesn’t everyone do vacation sewing?! First up – a girls’ trip to Disney World; then a trip to Costa Rica with my husband’s family; then a trip to Germany with my mom and aunt in August. Naturally I have sewing plans for each of them! A glitter vinyl crossbody bag, a Spaceship Earth-inspired tunic, and a Maleficent skirt for Disney World; a shirt and skirt for Costa Rica (from some of the fabric I bought in West Virginia); and most likely pants for Germany. I’m not making any plans for that trip for a while, though!

Maleficent print for a skirt, for the Disney Villains After Hours event – hand for scale

So circling back to my goals – finishing up these projects are definitely Champagne goals! Thank goodness for some long weekends in January and February to crank out some easy projects. Of course, there are many more goals on my list for this year, but I feel like setting them out this way, with things I enjoy as the rewards, will make it much more fun. Have you made goals, set resolutions, or ignored the whole “new year” thing?

Beginning and Ending the Years with Travel

The Mechanic and I rang in the new year and decade in Quebec City, Canada, keeping with our tradition of traveling to really cold places in the winter. Planned back in March, it was a short and minimally planned trip that gave us the excuse to get out of the country in 2019 – just barely! And we had a blast, even in the cold temperatures and the snow.

As the tourism website boasts, Quebec City is feels so European, and is so close – two one-hour flights got us there through Toronto. French is the predominate language, but luckily for us, everyone is bilingual. I had to stop greeting people with “Bonjour!” because they then responded in French, which made my brain switch to the only other language I know, German – not so helpful. Adding to the European flair is the 400 years of history – Old Quebec was founded in 1608. And Old Quebec, where we stayed, is simply the most wonderful place to spend the holiday season! It’s decorated within an inch of its cobblestones, with lights everywhere! Twenty-four hours of snow over New Years Eve only added to the romantic feel of the city. Pictures don’t do it justice, but of course I am including some. : )

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Highlights of the trip included:

Toboggan slide!

Right on the walkway between the Chateau Frontenac and the Saint Lawrence River is a toboggan run, La Glissade. This is the only thing I remembered from my brief time working here in the 90s. For a nominal amount, you stand in line, are handed a toboggan, and drag it up to the top of the tracks, then slide down at a breakneck speed. It was SO FUN!

Dragging the toboggan up the ramp to the top

The View from the top is amazing!

View of Old Quebec and the Saint Lawrence River

Dining!

Quebec dining is not for the faint of heart, apparently. Every place seemed really expensive, even with a favorable exchange rate. Of course, we were in the middle of the historic and touristy area, and it was the holidays, but whew! We don’t normally eat like this! Thankfully we found a small grocery where we stocked up on bagels and Nutella for breakfasts in our hotel room. Nevertheless, we ate and drank some amazing things!

Visual Winner: Hands down favorite was Bistro L’Orygine, a boreal bistro. Located within steps of our hotel, this place dazzled all the senses – I was as in love with the decor as the food.

Eye-candy as well as delicious!

Historic Winner: While attempting to find a quick and cheap lunch on New Year’s Eve, we ended up instead at Restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens, in a building built in 1675-76. Oh you know, that old place – !!! The food is considered traditional, and it was tasty, especially my maple syrup pie! Think of a pecan pie without the pecans, and yep, that’s what it was. The prix fix lunch in a cozy location was perfect on a snowy day.

As its stood since 1676

Fanciest Experience: I decided that our toboggan experience called for fancy cocktails at the bar in Chateau Frontenac, and that decision paid off. The bar was fancy but didn’t feel stuffy, and the drinks were fun and inventive. My cocktail, Genie in the Bottle, was poured from a lamp! Personal Tradition: Apparently raclette on New Year’s Eve is a tradition in Germany, and we have done it several years when we are home. We haven’t had it in a restaurant since our honeymoon in Zurich, so having it for New Year’s Eve in Quebec was a nice way to keep this personal tradition going.

Fancy raclette set up for New Year’s Eve

Surprise Dining: Who would have thought that the tastiest meal would have been in the Toronto airport?! We ate at Twist by Roger Mooking – vegan cauliflower tacos, and the most delicious side of maple-glazed carrots, arugula, pistachios, and huge chunks of salt. This was a *side*!!! Why can’t restaurants here serve sides like this?! Would I fly an hour to Toronto just to have this again? I am not ruling it out.

Best side dish ever, in the Toronto airport!

Spa Day!

Lest you think all we did in Quebec City was eat, let me share with you possibly the biggest highlight of the trip. We went to Strom Spa Nordique. Just typing the name brings back memories of the eucalyptus steam sauna, ahh….. Located along the river and easily accessible by public bus, this experience was similar to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland but totally different. On the coldest day of our trip (“Feel like” temps of 5*F), we went outside in our swim suits and terry robes to jump into thermal baths then dip into cold pools. We tried the steam sauna, a dry sauna, and the flotation pool, plus ate a light lunch in the bistro there. Sitting in the hot water with the cold wind off the river blowing frozen steam over us, I felt like one of those Japanese monkeys in the hot springs, and it felt AMAZING. I don’t have photos of any of it but the memories will stay with me forever.

View from the Strom lobby, out towards the thermal baths and saunas. Not seen: *freezing* weather!

New Years Eve Festival

The Mechanic and I prefer to stay at home to ring in the new years, but a new decade, an international city, and a free festival of electronica and traditional music was the perfect way to celebrate. The streets were shut down, and full of Bud Light (???) pop up bars, so we stood in the snowy cold, drank our hot wine, listened to the music, and shouted “Bonne Annee!!!” along with everyone else at the stroke of midnight. So worth it.

Laser show and electronic dance music for New Years Eve

Happy 2020, everyone!!!

Up Next: 2020

We returned home on New Year’s Day, ready to start a new year. As with so many other people, my mind is spinning with the possibilities of a new decade, and thinking about where I was ten years ago when 2010 started, and twenty years ago at the dawn of 2000. But that’s a topic for another blog post!

I hope you all enjoyed your holidays and are ready (or starting) to face what this new year brings. All the best to you and yours!

Our hotel celebrated with champagne for everyone!