Wrapping Up November (Where Has the Year Gone?!)

Anyone else mourning the speed with which this year has flown? I guess it happens every year, but I still think that somehow, some year, it will be relaxed and I’ll be able to let it unfold slowly. But no – and now we are weeks away from 2020!!!

Things that have been keeping me busy this month so far – Sewing, friends, and bunnies. And sometimes a combination of those, like the day a friend and I took a bunny yoga class, a fundraiser for one of the local rabbit rescue groups. Not often you take a yoga class where the instructor keeps say, “Just watch for bunnies before you _____!”

First, to catch you up on October sewing: I finally finished my Zodiac mesh top! I appliqued the Taurus image onto the back – I am a Taurus, so why not show it off! Besides, I hated to not use as much of the gorgeous fabric as possible. I also made a skirt, McCalls 7891 – it’s probably too long but I won’t shorten it until the warm weather returns. The reflective piping and heavy drape of the fabric makes me soooo happy! I like this skirt pattern a lot and have a ton of plans to use it again.

I also bought some fabric on our West Virginia trip! Fayetteville, WV has a Ben Franklin Crafts store, so *of course* we had to go in. Some of the fabric was so cheap! I bought four yards of this blue fern/leaf cotton because it was $2/yard! I think it will be a dress eventually but who knows. The green batik will be another McCalls 7981 skirt (probably without reflective details, ha), and the turquoise butterfly print will be a fun summer shirt of some sort. Doesn’t fabric make the best souvenir?! I’ll always remember how amazing that trip was when I wear something made from these fabrics. Most of my November sewing has been Christmas presents sewing, so I can’t share photos right now. But I did squeeze in a super easy and highly satisfying Hey June Handmade Lane raglan tee out of this adorable (but most likely licensed…..) Star Wars print I found on Etsy. If you remember, the pattern and the purple knit I bought at Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, CO earlier this year – yet another souvenir of a great trip! And part of my wardrobe for a 2020 trip with some girlfriends to Disney World (90 days but who’s counting?!?!). In other crafty but not sewing news, I took a class to learn the basics of spinning! My long-term goal is to be able to use Sullivan’s angora fluff to make yarn. The class was at Fibre Space, in Old Town Alexandria, and the class was taught by Maiah, who spins lovely lovely things. #goals I’m still not interested in knitting, but the idea of spinning and dyeing yarn is rather appealing. I just have to get much, much, *much* better at it! Our fluffsters have been taking up much of our time (#parenting lol) because they are not getting along as well as they should, so we’ve taken drastic bunny bonding measures. Basically this means going on car rides, because yes, you do sort of scare them into being friends. They are mostly friends, but occasionally, poor little Gaston (the oldest at 6 years old but the smallest at 3lbs) freaks out and runs from Sullivan. He’s totally falling for Henrietta though, and likes to snuggle with her. Awww…. SO worth the work! The remainder of the year will include more sewing (of course!), more bunnies, lots of holiday cheer with friends and family, squeezing in bike commuting when it’s not freezing cold, and making plans for 2020. What do you have planned for the rest of 2019?

 

Difficult Decisions When Hobbies Collide

This past weekend, several of my hobbies and interests all took place on the same day. Emergency preparedness, biking, bunnies, and fiber arts events all happened on the same day! What’s a girl to do?!?

The first event was a combo event: Arlington’s second annual Disaster Relief Trials, held in partnership with BikeArlington and the County Office of Emergency Management. I love this whole concept – people discovering all the different ways their bikes are the perfect vehicle in an emergency, when roads are possibly closed and no one can get around.

The second event was the first-ever Arlington bunny parents meet-up, organized through Instagram. Connecting with other bunny parents who live nearby is a great opportunity to compare notes on bunny care, adoption histories, and swap sitters’ contact info.

Then the third event was at the GW University Museum and Textile Museum’s 40th annual  Celebration of Textiles. This free event promised sheep, hands-on activities, and family-friendly entertainment. I was especially attracted to the line that said local artists would be spinning and weaving. I’ve been thinking about spinning Sullivan’s angora fluff….

It was a hard decision, but I ended up going with the bunny meet-up and textile event. Meeting other bunny parents was fun, and somewhat gratifying to know that we all go through the same bunny challenges, they all have silly personalities, and we aren’t all crazy!

I’m sure everyone else in the coffee shop wondered what on earth was going on….

The Celebration of Textiles was really cool. My friend who went with me and I tried Japanese embroidery and bobbin lace making, oohed and ahhed over the sheep and llamas, admired some looms, and talked to a woman who does needle felting creations. But most excitingly, the women who were there spinning actually spun some of Sullivan’s fluff (which of course i took with me) into yarn! I’m so inspired, I want to try this myself. It would take a long time to make enough yarn to knit anything, but that’s okay. It’s not like I have a ton of time for a new hobby.

Speaking of new textile hobbies, I also took a shibori fabric dye class last week. Hosted through Arlington adult education, a local artist walked the five of us in the class through different types of dyes and fabrics and techniques. In two hours, we didn’t get much done, especially when we realized that some of the textiles the instructor brought were polyester or polyester blends which didn’t take the dye at all. But the last two that I dyed were clearly all-natural fibers and took the dyes quite well. The resist technique I chose for those two were the same – desk clips! I folded the fabric different ways, which resulted in different designs. I have no idea what I’ll do with these but with Christmas around the corner (ack!), I’m sure I’ll come up with something.

Fresh out of the dye pot!

The successes: fuchsia cotton and red linen

The polyester failures: indigo poly/silk, and turquoise what I think was a polar fleece, not wool, as the instructor suggested. You can see how the one on the left didn’t take any dye at all, and the other took some dye but didn’t “shibori,” despite being twisted and tied.

I am sorry that I missed the Disaster Relief Trials for the second year in a row. From what I saw on Twitter, water and even “pets” were transported by bike! Maybe next year all my hobbies won’t collide on the same day!

Don’t worry, Sully, we’ve already thought about how to evacuate with you if we have to!

Sewing March19: Bunnies Take Over

Not much sewing happened in February because the bunnies took over our lives. Seriously, three little rabbits, the largest not even 7lbs, and all we did was watch them every minute we could. Bunny bonding is not for the lazy or distracted.

Pretty much how I spent all February

L to R – Sullivan the Angora, Henrietta Rosalia Miracle, Gaston the Lionhead

In November, while we were on a family trip to Disney World, one of our angora rabbits unexpectedly died. Apparently Quinn, sister to Sullivan, was the glue to our happy fluffy bunny family, because Sullivan and Gaston, our little 3lb lionhead bunny, ceased to be friends. We took them speed dating at three different rabbit rescue group events, and eventually chose a new girl to be their friend. Henrietta Rosalia Miracle (I like the name Henrietta; she hid under a rose bush for 6 months after her former abusive owners threw her out of the house; Miracle is what the rescue group named her) came home the first weekend of February. Although Hetty and Sully and Gaston spent a week together at the rabbit rescue group and seemed to get along fine, we kept a close eye on them. All seemed to be fine for the first week, and then they started brawling. Yikes! Sully liked Hetty so much that he was mounting her as much as he could (which is a normal part of the bunny bonding process; its how they establish their natural hierarchy) – but she didn’t like it. So they started fighting, which is a *bad bad* thing. So we separated them, rebuilt the pen to keep them all apart, and called the rescue group for advice. For the last two weeks we’ve done some careful bunny bonding steps to reintroduce them in smaller neutral territory, and it seems to be working. Whew!

Although I haven’t had the free time to sew that I had hoped for, I finally managed to finish my Charley Harper children’s sheets top. Clearly I have no idea how to determine ease on patterns any more because I cut a size that ended up being massively oversized. So I took it in and hope that I like it. I did a rather crappy job on the neckline but I can’t imagine anyone else will notice. I have enough fabric (sheets) left over that I plan to make a summer top, too, yay! I ordered a Burda 6678 pants pattern then decided that I ought to test it first before I use the tencel twill I have in mind for this pattern. So I found a quilting cotton at JoAnn Fabrics on clearance and bought the last 2 5/8 yards. Hopefully that’s enough after I lengthen the pants! I may try to make those before our upcoming trip to Texas mid-March, but maybe not. Then I have at least four tops I want to make – I really don’t need more tops but they are so much easier to sew than the things I really need, which are pants (bah).

Burda pants muslin cotton quilting fabric – not the best for this style but cheap and ultimately wearable

Considering changing my mind and making both fabrics with the Vogue 8772 pattern

My mom and aunt visited Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics last week and bought me  yard of this fab-u-lous zodiac embroidered mesh I asked for. Do I have anywhere to wear a fancy top made out of this amazing fabric? No – but do I care?!?! Look at it!!! Thanks, Mom! (totally envious that they got to go, since they are nearby and I’m on the other side of the country….) It’s almost spring, though, and our icky weather will soon be behind us! Has anyone else started their spring or summer sewing yet?

Season’s Greetings from Sewing Cycling Santa

Merry Christmas, everyone! I’m sure Santa was busy delivering presents by bicycle (although I hope he used a cargo bike!) last night!

I am celebrating by spending some Me Sewing time. The Mechanic and I are both in our happy places working on projects, while thinking about loved ones near and far – and you too, dear Readers!

Enjoy your day, however you celebrate.

Happy Christmas from Gaston and Sullivan!

MeMade, Disney, and Quinn

Last week was the long-planned, long-awaited family trip to Disney World. I’d love to report that it was an absolute blast, but sadly, we got bad news at almost the very beginning of the trip, and ended up coming home early.

Our bunny girl, Quinn the Angora, died overnight the first night that we were gone, and our newly-hired pet sitter found her. We got the call right after breakfast our first morning, and then spent the rest of the day on the phone with the sitter, the vet, and our bunny friend who swooped in to help out. Being in The Happiest Place on Earth while mourning the loss of one of our sweet babies made it hard to get into the Disney Magic.

The sudden, unexpected death of Quinn the Angora is sadly not uncommon in rabbits. They have very fragile systems. The vet said her intestines ruptured and she probably died withing 8-12 hours. Even if we had been home, the outcome would have been the same.

After deciding to cut our trip short so we could go home and see Gaston the Lionhead and Sullivan the Angora, Quinn’s brother, we rallied and enjoyed the rest of the time we were at DIsney World. We went on the Flight of the Banshee ride in the new Pandora world in Animal Kingdom, and all I can say is that it was worth the 2 hours standing in line. Btw, no one does standing in line like Disney does! I didn’t get to my favorite Magic Kingdom rides, but enjoyed many others. And being with my in laws was fun too. Everything was decorated for Christmas, which was a bit weird because it was so much hotter than we expected it to be (not that we were complaining, mind you!).

I had to cut one of my Disney themed outfits out, but managed to wear three things made with Disney in mind. Day One was my Liberty of London dinosaur shirt – after my January trip, I rediscovered my love of dinosaurs and ordered this fabric from London directly. Day Two was my Belle and the prince peplum tee made out of fabric that exactly matches a mosaic in the Be Our Guest castle, where we had breakfast (and where we stayed to deal with the death of Quinn). Day Three was my Finding Dory skirt in Epcot, where they have a whole Living with the Sea area, complete with Dory, Nemo, Merlin, and other Finding Nemo characters. I got several compliments on the Belle shirt and the Dory skirt, even from cast members! I also saw a ton of super cute Disney themed outfits on other guests, so I’m glad I wore my pieces and I didn’t feel weird about it at all.

We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, which was amazing. We’d planned our trip to include time to spend in the resort, but then didn’t get to. Beyond the spectacular lobby and the view of roaming animals out our balcony, another highlight for me was the custom (I assume) animal lace curtains.

I’ve mostly been home sitting on the floor of the living room, anxiously watching Sullivan and Gaston, to make sure they are okay. It’s hard to tell how much they miss their sister. I have noticed that they aren’t snuggling like they used to, and I hope they soon remember how much they liked each other. The Mechanic and I have agreed that it won’t be too long before we start looking for a third bunny. We like the dynamics of three, and think the boys need another friend. I guess it’s now full speed ahead into the holidays and a new year, isn’t it?!

Working My Way Back to You, Bike

It’s been three and a half weeks since I had major surgery. In that time I’ve watched the trees from our bedroom windows, played with our rabbits, read alot, gotten a tattoo, done a bit of sewing, and eaten way more comfort food than planned (whoops). I’d say it’s been relaxing but it hasn’t been, really. There’s still some pain and I am exhausted all the time. The days I’ve managed 5,000 steps have wiped me out so when I’m finally allowed to start biking again, I might not be biking very far. But I’m working my way back to you, Fauntleroy – we can’t miss all the lovely spring biking weather!

Gaston, Quinn and Sullivan (l to r)

Inspirational necklace made by a friend many years ago.

I’ll be ready for that day though, because one of the things I made is a lightweight coat. This Simplicity 8055 was a super easy pattern but I decided to make it slightly more complicated by lengthening the sleeves, flat lining all the pieces, adding some dimensional stitches to the cuffs, and making covered buttons. Playing around with my Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 965q stitches was a lot of fun and I plan on doing this again on other projects.

Lately, Spring has sprung around our place so my daily walks have resulted in many, many photos of flowers.

I’m returning to work with some trepidation, knowing that I need a nap every afternoon. But I need to get back to my normal routine, or at least as close as I can. I guess I have to accept that it will be slow going, but I’m not a patient person, so we’ll see how it goes.

Ringing in 2018!

Happy New Year everyone!

Rang in 2018 with The Mechanic, my parents and my aunt who were visiting for the holidays

Who’s ready for a new year? <raises hand>

2017 was definitely not a bad year for me by any stretch but the last few months were just hectic enough that I am ready for a new start and some time to recover. To recap life since July:

  • We moved into a new apartment that we hated
  • We placed an offer on a townhouse and bought our first home
  • We took Gaston bunny speed dating and he picked a pair of English angora siblings, Sullivan and Quinn
  • We moved into our new home
  • We adjusted/continue to adjust to life with three rabbits, two of whom are larger and require more maintenance
  • We went to IKEA and Home Depot more times in the last two months than we have in the last two years
  • We hosted people for Thanksgiving
  • We hosted family for Christmas and took a 7-person strong trip to Natural Bridge, VA

Looking at it like that, it doesn’t seem like as big of a deal as it feels! Crazy, chaotic, stressful – and 100% good!

Now I’m looking forward to a new year and a fresh start. I need to catch up on many things, like sewing (I only made 15 things in 2017! <sad face>), biking, reading, and being healthy. Oh, and blogging more – I’ve gotten really behind with this blog!

I’m not going to set any resolutions but here are a few of my plans for the near future:

Sewing

  1. Finish the Dashing Tweed reflective tweed winter coat I’ve been planning since the summer
  2. Make a reflective brocade bomber jacket
  3. Learn how to use my new walking foot
  4. Use the patterns and fabrics I have stacked up
  5. Rethink how and where I use reflective fabrics in sewing projects
  6. Find a new source for reflective fabric!

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Biking

I’ve become a weekday warrior! Seriously, I hardly bike on the weekends at all anymore. I just bike back and forth to work. (#lazy ) I need to find some fun yet not crazy long bike ride event to get back into the swing of things. Then make some fun moisture-wicking bike clothing! Any suggestions for VA-MD events?

 

Reading

I went to a Smithsonian Associates lecture about archeology and it rekindled my love of learning. The first of a series of five, “Indiana Jones: The Eternal Explorer” looks at the politics of archeology through the popular culture character of Indiana Jones. I love Indiana Jones aka Harrison Ford, and I love archeology, and it has something to do with the research I did for my Master’s thesis, back in the day. I can’t wait for the next four lectures. It makes me want to read more and learn more so I’m going to set a goal to actually get some reading done this year. Focused, historical reading, not the news, not work-related, but something that fires another part of my brain. Also, I just miss history.

Health

Isn’t this the top of everyone’s list every year? I let my health get away from me in 2017 and I’m ready to reclaim it! Time to get back to BodyPump and yoga and veggies and no desserts and cooking. The Mechanic and I are still doing Green Chef and love the meals, so we won’t give that up any time soon. It’s taught us a lot about cooking and food and vegetarian/vegan meal options. So now I can take those lessons and try to cook more ourselves. Toast and peanut butter really shouldn’t be my every day staple.

 

Blogging

I don’t seem to have time for two blog posts a week anymore so once a week it is. Sorry about that! I’ll try to balance out more with sewing and biking, especially as I get back into biking more (caveat: current temps are much colder than I prefer to bike in so it might be a while…). I have some sustainable fashion ideas as well as some general mobility topics in mind, and of course, my favorite – All Things Reflective!!! I need to do some scheduling and organizing to stay on track, I think.

 

What fun and exciting things are you planning for 2018? What will be your focus or goal for the new year? Whatever it is, I wish you a year of happiness, strength and success!

So Much to Be Thankful For

Hard to believe it’s almost Thanksgiving but it is! This will be the first year The Mechanic and I spend in our new home, so it is an extra special year. We don’t have much planned, other than trying to cross off things from our lengthy New Home list. We did order a vegan meal from Whole Foods and we found a bottle of Straffe Hendrik Quadruple Ale, a favorite from our honeymoon visit to Bruges. Something special for a special first holiday.

Yum, Belgian beer!

We have so much to be thankful for this year: new house and new bunnies being top of the list. I’m thankful that the home buying process and subsequent move went as smoothly as they did, and I’m thankful that incorporating two new bunnies into our little family went smoothly as well. Gaston, Sullivan and Quinn are all happily enjoying each other’s company as well as their pen and free space. Our friends and families have been so excited for us, and I’m thankful as always for them. I’m also thankful, and somewhat surprised, that for the first time in my adult life, I feel connected to a community. It’s a nice feeling, belonging, and knowing neighbors. I’m thankful Arlington has turned out to be such a wonderful place to live. I’m thankful for the support of my social media “family” as well. I’ve learned so many new things and been exposed to a wider world than I would experience on my own, and I have all of you to thank for that. It’s wonderful, getting to connect virtually with people of similar hobbies, tastes and values.

Seasonal mini quilt, made by my mother. I’m so glad I finally have a good place to display it!

Most importantly, I’m thankful that I found The Mechanic. (I’m sure he’d say the same about me!) Having a partner in crime, mechanic, bike expert, newly converted bunny enthusiast dad and equally reluctant cook is amazing. And I’m so thankful. So is my bike.Whatever you do this week, I hope your Thanksgiving is full of love and laughter, and maybe some biking or sewing, and definitely some pumpkin…

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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!