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!

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!

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.

Life’s Pendulum Swings

Isn’t it crazy how sometimes our lives can swing so rapidly from one event to a different and totally unrelated event? One day I was on the Hill talking about public policy and transportation, then two days later I was in Pennsylvania surrounded by All Things Bunny. Whaaa…? I know, so random!

My association, the Association for Commuter Transportation, convened in Washington, DC, last week for the annual Public Policy Summit. Policy is not my strong point, so I like to attend, in the hopes that maybe one day I’ll be able to keep up with all the transportation- related policy going on at the federal level. This year, our keynote speaker was The Honorable Kirsti Kauppi, Ambassador of Finland to the United States.  It was fascinating listening to all the ways the Finnish government is seeking to integrate technological advances while advancing their transportation system. They have such a different mindset, but then again, it’s also a much (much much) smaller country. I didn’t sign up for meetings with my local representatives (or rather, their staff members), but I did attend some sessions “on the Hill.” We met in Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure room in the Rayburn Building, which was pretty cool. Congress wasn’t in session, so the halls were pretty empty, but I still think it’s fun to wander around and see where it all happens. The following day I had to take Gaston to the vet, where he had a skull x-ray and his bottom molars were trimmed, all under anesthesia. Apparently he has been having mouth pain, which causes him to not eat, which can lead to GI statis, which can be fatal and causes his mom lots of panic. But he’s been busy chewing away at all sorts of hay and straw things since the visit, so the simple (and very expensive) molar trim seems to have helped immensely. Whew!

Funny to see what is under all that fluff!

Then that same day, I jumped into my friend Emily’s car and we drove up to Philadelphia for the first-ever Northeast BunFest! She is the creative owner of HopsalotSnacks on Etsy and is our rabbit whisperer, an expert after having had her bunny, Miss Dolley Hopsalot, for over 15 years. I had volunteered to be her employee at BunFest, where she was a vendor – motivated in part by the opportunity to see so many bunnies!!! And did we see bunnies!

HopsalotSnacks in action!

The event is apparently held annually in the Midwest, where it attracts around a thousand people. This was the first time it was held in the Northeast, and some of the people with whom I spoke had come from as far away as Boston. There were rabbit rescue groups, a hay vendor, a few vendors with beautiful wooden houses and castles for bunnies to hide in and play on, and so many different rabbit themed things for bunny parents. I didn’t buy anything, but enjoyed meeting all the bunnies – some with their vendor parents, some from shelters, and some with their parents looking to spoil them. Many had their rabbits in pet strollers, some in regular carriers, and other brave (or unwise) parents simply carried their bunnies around in their arms.

Because this event was geared towards rabbit rescue organizations, there were a number of rabbits who had clearly experienced traumatic experiences – one whose ears had been apparently cut off, another with a deformed leg that had been abandoned with a broken leg which then healed badly, several with head tilt, and several others with leg deformities. All are now being well cared for and loved, I’m happy to report, but you know there are hundreds and hundreds of other bunnies out there who have not yet met their forever parents. (Rabbit PSA – this is part of the reason why you shouldn’t buy rabbits for children and as Easter presents. Too many end up abandoned and in shelters. They are NOT starter pets.)

It was a fun day, and successful for my friend’s business, plus I got to see parts of Pennsylvania I’d never been to before. We were exhausted and glad to get home, where Gaston was happy to see me. Despite father-bunson bonding time with The Mechanic, Gaston still wanted lots and lots of attention. That’s fine, I missed him too. I felt a bit wiped out, between two days of commuter transportation talk, Gaston’s vet appointment, the mad drive to Philly, a whole day of rabbits, and a long, late evening drive home, so I was quite unproductive on Sunday, even though I really wanted to sew. I even took a nap! I never do that. But I need to rest up because although this week is relatively quiet, this weekend I will be a runway model (!!!) in an Aveda Catwalk for Water fashion show, then it’s my 45th birthday, then The Mechanic and I are headed to London for a long weekend, woo hoo! So hopefully I can keep the pendulum centered and I can stay grounded until the next totally crazy swings.

Oh, I did get this Friends of Rabbits bunny magnet at BunFest, which I added to our apartment door. Shout out to the local rabbit rescue group !