Surprises in Northeastern Oregon

I missed a regular blog post earlier this week because The Mechanic and I were in Northeastern Oregon on a family trip. My dad’s side of the family gathered to say goodbye to my grandparents with a celebration of life and scattering of their ashes. I hadn’t been there in seven years, for my grandfather’s 90th birthday, and enjoyed exploring with fresh eyes.

Thirty-five years ago, my dad’s dad and his second wife moved to Lostine, Oregon, a small town in Wallowa County, Oregon. Their property, titled Big Foot Ranch (no idea why), is tucked in a narrow valley between Lostine and Enterprise. I was ten when they moved, and got to travel with them in my great-grandmother’s fifth wheel trailer – a huge adventure to me. Every summer thereafter we drove up to visit them. I rode their horse, swam in the irrigation ditch, and learned to drive on a Model A Ford pickup and an old John Deere tractor. (There goes my city creds – The Mechanic now has plenty of ammo to call me a country girl!)

Enterprise, in the far northeast corner of Oregon

To get there, we flew into Boise, the closest airport, and after meeting up with my brother and sister-in-law (who flew in from Texas), drove four hours to Enterprise. After being greeted by the beef industry in the Boise airport, we joked about what the cattle-raising locals would think when four  vegetarians rolled into town.My grandparents’ property is so lovely, with the rushing river and fields on either side. Marching up the hillside through the weeds is still the same, returning with socks and shoe laces full of burrs. This is my kind of wilderness! Also, the low humidity was sooo refreshing, despite the high temperatures.

I have changed in the seven years (!!!) since I’d been to my grandparents’ – then I was single, newly moved from Manhattan to Washington, DC, and unhappy with my job. Wanting to show The Mechanic all the things my brother and I grew up doing in Oregon made everything new. The biggest surprise was how bike-y the area is – whaat? Bike lanes through the middle of Enterprise?! And Joseph, OR, not only had bike lanes, but bike racks shaped like bikes, and one store had a large “Bike Friendly” sign out front, notifying all that not only were there bike racks, but drinking fountains, public restrooms and package shipping. I’ve never even seen this on stores here in the DC metro area! The Mechanic and I chatted with a woman who had been biking 65 miles into Enterprise, to get to Terminal Gravity Brewing. She said that for the most part, cars were pretty respectful of her and kept their distance, because not all the roads have decent shoulders and space to bike. I had heard that the area was trying hard to promote cycle tourism, and now I believe it.

Another surprise was just how much we loved the town of Joseph. It’s Main Street is maybe 5 blocks long, but it packs a ton of cute into those blocks. Famous for the bronze foundry, Joseph has a huge arts scene. Every corner had artwork in brilliant floral beds, every other store was something related to the arts (a wonderful quilt store too!), not to mention the artisan chocolate shop, the bistros and restaurants, and the murals. If you are looking for a relaxing, small town getaway with tons to do and see, this is your destination.

Wallowa Lake was also a surprise – having been in the area for so many years, I don’t know why we never hung out at the lake. My parents, brother, sister-in-law, The Mechanic and I ended up spending a very, very relaxing afternoon reading in the park by the lake. We had gone up to the top of Mt. Howard on the Wallowa Lake Tramway to admire the mountain views, and had planned on renting kayaks. Instead, we enjoyed the beautiful weather and gorgeous scenery around us. Ah….

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All around are remembrances of the Nez Perce tribe, native to the Wallowa area. As obsessed with Native Americans as I was as a child, I don’t remember exploring any of their history while visiting my grandparents. So I was pleased to be able to see a small bit of their history at the Old Chief Joseph Gravesite and Joseph Canyon from the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Viewpoint.

It seems like we packed a lot into a short trip; this doesn’t even include our evening at Terminal Gravity (their grassy front lawn will make you stay far longer than you planned!) and the day we spent with extended family and friends remembering my grandparents. I will leave you with more photos of the area. It is just so beautiful that photos don’t do it justice. I’m glad I got to visit one last time and have these images to share with you.

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But now we are home and I’m back to embrace my kind of outdoorsy –

ButIt seeWe packed a lot of scenery intoTheSave

Spontaneously Staycationing But Not Sewing

Happy July! Hard to believe that 2017 is halfway over, isn’t it? I haven’t gotten anywhere near the amount of sewing done that I’d hoped for this year. My plans for some June sewing while staycationing sort of flew out the window too, due to some last minute, quite spontaneous outings with The Mechanic. Even though I’m sad at the loss of my sewing time, spending time with The Mechanic is never a bad thing. : )

Staycation Day 1 – Part of the beginning of my staycation was dedicated to my volunteer work for my association, but then The Mechanic and I had a dinner date. Walking home from where the Lyft driver dropped us off (because I still haven’t figured out how to update my home location and didn’t pay attention when scheduling the ride…), we saw the teeny-ist, tiny-ist wild rabbit. Of course I had to stop and take pictures of it. Probably a teen bunny, it was smaller than Gaston, and totally unafraid of us. It was adorable to watch it groom, but such an unafraid bunny might not last long in the Arlington wilds. Still, I loved watching it.

Okay, maybe I was stalking it…

Staycation Day 2 – we biked to brunch at our favorite spot, Silver Diner. We love Silver Diner because it has such a range of vegetarian and vegan meal options. Even in the Washington, DC, metro region, it’s hard to find restaurants with decent veggie options. When a previously scheduled conference call was cancelled at somewhat the last minute, The Mechanic and I hopped Metro to the National Mall. Although our destination was the National Museum of the American Indian, we wandered through the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, taking place alone the Mall. I am not a huge fan of circuses, but it was fun to see all the circus exhibits set up – we missed most of the performances, however. After exploring the NMAI, we wandered along the Mall until we stumbled upon a lucky find – the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building was being used for the FolkLife Festival Marketplace! This building is normally closed to the public, due to renovations, but it’s my favorite building on the Mall, and of course I jumped at the chance to go in.

The Arts and Industries Building, opened in 1881. It was reopened as a special events location in 2015, after being closed for 12 years.

Through the marketing place and circus school, you could see signs of renovation work, and a series of photos near the restrooms showed what it had once looked like.

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Staycation Day 3 – This day was completely and 100% spontaneous. A friend of The Mechanic’s texted to see if we wanted to go sailing with him on his father-in-law’s 54′ sail boat. Um, yes!!! (Of course, that did require an emergency run to Target – I don’t (didn’t) own shorts, and figured that they would be more practical on a boat than a skirt – and since I didn’t have time or fabric to make a pair, well, fast fashion it was.) I love sailing, I love the ocean, I love the Chesapeake Bay, and harbors and, well, nautical style, despite my dislike for sun damage. Armed in a rash guard from Lands’ End, a wide-brimmed hat and lots of mineral sunscreen, I enjoyed a quite leisurely sail with three other people into St. Michael’s, MD.

Who needs to know anything about sailing when the hi tech boat does almost all of it on its own?!?

I love the choppy water, too, so I was happy as a clam when we sailed back into the wind. I find it very peaceful, somehow.

Staycation Day 4 – Deciding to invite friends over meant a morning of mad cleaning, but the reward was a spotless apartment when our friends arrived. And an leisurely evening of reading after they left.

Staycation Day 5 – With all the housecleaning done, I had time to sew, but alas, ran into many complications and had to stop. I made a muslin of Butterick 5602 (Version C) and since I didn’t have a long enough zipper, I had The Mechanic help me pin it. Then I realized that the denim lace fabric will need something sheer-ish for a hem faching, to preserve the sheerness. Then I realized that my white interfacing will show, then that fusible (woven) interfacing will be gross and tacky (probably literally), so I need to find something else. And that although I ordered an invisible zipper, the way the lining is constructed isn’t very invisible zipper friendly, and I’ll have to either rethink how to put in the lining, or use a regular zipper. Bah. So – basically I can’t finish my denim lace dress any time soon.

Another muslin from my old bed sheet!

Disappointing to end five days off without a new finished garment, but look at all the fun we had!

It’s now a new fiscal year in my office, and the beginning of the second half of the year. Somehow it seems like New Years all over again. I’m glad I had some time to staycation, because the rest of this summer doesn’t seem to be slowing down! I think every weekend is booked until September. So much for spontaneous!

Mermaids are spontaneous, right? LOL

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Transportation in London: Is the Bike Lane Greener?

Despite the short amount of time we were in London (3.5 days), we still managed to get a ton of photos of the transportation scene – of course. As with any new city, there were some notable differences, not the least of which was the fact that traffic seemed *crazy* to us. But also – it was really, really quiet! No honking, no loud motors, extremely few obnoxiously loud motorcycles… even the tourist hop-on/hop-off buses were quiet! We know because we took one. The most notable things were: quiet streets; hi viz everywhere; indecipherable street markings; bikeshare stations *everywhere*; and the ease with which we were able to find and get on every train and bus we took.

Quiet Streets

We were there for Friday morning and evening rush hour and Monday morning rush hour, plus the weekend in between, and were astounded at how quiet it was. Honking was the exception, not the norm. Buses were quiet. Motorcycles were quiet. Nothing at all like New York City! It was so nice, ahh….

Lots of hybrid double decker buses (also, so fun to ride!)

Hi Viz Everywhere!

Everyone wore hi viz, even the cars. Cops, maintenance workers, cyclists, little school kids in museums, people on the sidewalk. Police cars, maintenance trucks, emergency vehicles, and similar – they were also decked out in hi viz. Either the hi viz companies are doing a bang up job at marketing, or the streets really are that crazy. Maybe it’s that hard to see in the London fog?Indecipherable Street Markings

Thank goodness there were instructions at the crosswalks about which direction to look! That opposite direction traffic had us totally turned around, and not in the right way. If the intersections weren’t marked, we had no idea what was going on, and weren’t there long enough to figure it out. Seriously, what do the zigzag white lines mean in the streets?!?

Also really loved that the crosswalks were divided not only by the medians, but were not directly across from each other. Having to turn left or right to walk to the continuation seems like really smart street design to me.Bikeshare Stations Everywhere

We were amazed not only by the sheer number of Santander Cycles (aka “Boris bikes”) bikeshare stations on every corner, but also by the fact that they were all twice the size of the Capital Bikeshare stations here in the DC Metro area. We never tried them, because we were a bit afraid of the traffic and because we didn’t know where we were going. Although, from what we observed, people just biked out in traffic and didn’t seem to be phased by the vehicles around them. And honestly, I know it exists, but we never saw any driver acting aggressively towards or honking at cyclists. Thank you, London drivers, for the positive impression!

Seriously, look at all those stations!

Other notable bike-y things: the bike lanes were really narrow; there were tons of bike boxes; we saw the most bike lanes and cycle super highways in the central City of London part; Bromptons were everywhere; Transport for London had tons of information about how to travel with your folding and non-folding bike on buses and trains; buses and many trucks had stickers on the back corners cautioning cyclists about turns… It seemed like it was just part of everyday life there, not some totally outlandish idea that a crazy minority indulges in. (Ed. note: yes, that’s sarcasm.)

So Easy to Get Around

A system this big must be hard to manage, but The Mechanic and I never waited more than 5 minutes for an Underground train (Or “tube”), even after seeing a show on Saturday night, and only waited about 10 minutes for one of our buses. It was so easy to get around! The bus map I picked up in the airport was super easy to read, finding bus stops was really easy, and with our pre-ordered Visitors Oyster cards, using the Tube and the buses was as easy as using our SmarTrip cards here at home. That was definitely a dream.

I also love that so many Tube stations have shops and kiosks around them.

Is the Transportation Grass Greener?

I have to say, that if I lived in London, the Tube is so easy that I might not be a cyclist. What?!?! Okay, I probably would but I’d definitely need to figure out the streets. But given how easy it was to figure out the Tube and the buses, I might be more than happy to let someone else do the driving for me, rather than fight it out on my own on the streets. But I’m going to have to conclude that I need several more chances to explore all the options in London before I can decide. So, next flight to London?

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Celebrating My Mid-Life Crisis

Last week I turned 45, and as it is more or less the middle of my life (3 of 4 grandparents lived into their mid-90s), I figured it was a good time to have a midlife crisis. So instead of running off with a younger man (done) or buying an expensive sports car (why?), I opted for two different things – modeling in a fashion show and a weekend trip to London!

I get my hair done at a local Aveda hair salon, Casal’s de Spa and Salon, in Clarendon. I have always been a big Aveda supporter, because they do so much good stuff for the environment. Every April they celebrate Earth Month by focusing on protecting clean water, and salons around the US have fashion shows to fund raise and showcase their stylists’ skills.  So when my hair stylist asked me if I wanted to be one of their two models in the DC area show, I hesitated only briefly. I did have to audition though – that was nerve-wracking enough! I hadn’t thought much about the actual show until we got to the venue. Honestly, being up on that stage by myself made me so nervous that I thought I would collapse! But I was enormously proud of the team of stylists from Casal’s who made the outfit, all from recyclable materials from the salon, cut and colored my hair, and did my makeup, and thrilled that my look won best overall of the show! And now I can add “runway model” to my resume!

Plastic caps, hair color tubes, shampoo and conditioner bottles, and signs and placards make up this outfit, all on a base of an old pair of jeans. The white lashes are individual strips of paper glued on. I wore my own flat shoes, because the stylists didn’t want me towering over everyone else.

Then, a few days later, The Mechanic and I flew to London!

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We had found really inexpensive flights, so we went for a long weekend. We arrived on Friday and returned on Monday, giving us three and barely a half days to explore one of the biggest and most exciting cities in the world. I had last been to London in 1990, on my first trip out of the US. I didn’t remember much of London, so it was great to run past all the major sights. And although my girlfriends and I saw Princess Diana in the Natural History Museum in 1990, The Mechanic and I didn’t see any notables on this trip. Of course, I was too busy shopping to pay attention!

And shopping I did – on my list were Liberty of London and Dashing Tweeds. I planned on buying fabric at both locations. I simply *adore* anything Liberty of London, and although there were so many beautiful fabric options, I ended up buying the star print Tana Lawn cotton I wanted. Then at the last minute, I grabbed two pre-made handkerchief/scarves in prints I also loved. Dashing Tweeds is the menswear shop that makes bespoke suits, including lovely reflective tweed suits. They sell their Lumatwills tweed fabric, so naturally that was what I was after. I wasn’t planning on getting more than a yard, but the burgundy color I wanted had a yard and a half on the bolt, so of course I bought it all. And a cap in basic gray. I think I know just the coat pattern I want to use this on…

Then there were the spontaneous purchases – the most amazing shoes ever and an adorable rabbit purse. The shoes are from Cordings, a shop I’d never heard of before, but we walked in simply because they had a huge ad for the Tweed Run in their window. Full of tweed and Liberty of London women’s shirts, the blue suede ankle boots caught my eye and then the rhinestone edging sold me. My first 100% Made in Italy shoes! Definitely my Midlife Crisis Shoes.The first major purchase of the trip was actually this rabbit clutch from Heidi Sturgess London. Made in England, her website claims her small boutique items were a well-kept secret in London. I didn’t know that at the time, having purchased this clutch at a stall in Covent Garden, but I like the idea that these are handmade and the owner has her hands very much in the products. 

We just so happened to be there during London Craft Week, an annual event that showcases exception craftsmanship in all types of things. If I had known about it in advance, I would have made an effort to find some of the events. I think there is a lot of amazing craft work going on in the UK right now, and, as someone who sews their own clothes, I appreciate and admire handwork of all sorts.  It is funny – when I went to Europe for the first time in 1990, I came back with a burning desire to work with clothing, so I gave up my career goals of something international and multilingual to take sewing classes and work in theatrical costuming. Twenty-seven years later, I’m experiencing the same sort of thoughts. I really want to spend more time with handcrafted clothing. Is that the midlife crisis brewing?!?

 

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 !

Tulips and Bicycles in Philly

A friend and I spent a freezing cold Saturday in Philadelphia, PA, admiring all types of plants in wild, brilliant blooms, at the Philadelphia Flower Show. The theme was “Holland: Flowering the World,” and my hopes for tulips and bicycles were happily achieved – so many of the display gardens featured bicycles in some way or another. Tulips, my favorite flowers, were present everywhere. I have never been to the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society’s 188-year-old flower show, but my gardening friend and I were eager to go, and let Reston Limo to do the driving. Taking a day trip in a motorcoach from the Vienna Metro Station to the Convention Center in Philly was the perfect way to spend time with flowers, and each other (see, who needs a car?). I was expecting an exhibit hall of floral landscapes and scenes, but in fact, the show is divided up into several sections. We started with the landscapes, worked our way through the educational displays (where sustainability was on gorgeous display), then studied some of the art displays before walking through the plant competition on our way to the market place, then checked out the complimentary wine and spirits tasting. There was so much to see that we didn’t get to see it all! We also ran through the Reading Terminal Market, which was across the street, and a quick peek into The Fabric Workshop and Museum. Whew! So much to do in a day!

I loved the creative landscapes:

And I loved that so many of the landscapes included bicycles and bike parts: There was definite emphasis on how bicycles are embraced by the Dutch, as well as a sustainable form of transportation. Something I wasn’t expecting was all the cool artistic flower displays, which were really amazing:

I was inspired by all the displays about sustainability and green space, and its importance in cities, and hope that visitors had a chance to really read some of the signs and information.

It was a shame that the weather was so cold, because I had made a long-promised dress for my friend, and it was too cold for her to wear it. I guess she’ll will have to wait until the weather really is spring-like to wear her floral print spring dress! But isn’t it cute?

McCalls 6520 with modified sleeve – the perfect flower show dress, if it had been warmer!

It was so much fun getting to indulge in flowers, friendship and, as always, bicycles, for a day. I think we will add this to our annual “things to do” list! To see more and better photos of the flowers, and shots without the crowds, check out the article in the Washington Post.

Blog-iversary and Re-Introduction

February marks my five year anniversary of this blog, yay! It’s pretty amazing how my life has changed in five years – I had just started my current job, met my now-husband, and was just getting into biking and sewing. And because so much has changed, I thought it would be nice and possibly useful to do a re-introduction of who I am and what I do.  Here’s a quick summary:

  • My name is Elizabeth but I really dislike being called Liz or Lizzie. The blog name is inspired by the “Tin Lizzie”Ford Model T cars; I love vintage cars. I grew up in Sacramento, CA, started off wanting to be a costume designer, ended up touring with Disney on Ice for three years, then moved to New York City to work as a dresser or Broadway. After doing that for a while, I went to grad school and finished a Masters degree in Modern European History. I ended up in the D.C. Area after a stint working as an editor for a human rights nonprofit before finally stumbling into my current job. I promote transit benefits and sustainable transportation in Arlington County (VA). So I’ve been all over the place, figuratively and literally! 

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  • I married The Mechanic in June 2014. We met in September 2011, when I was fairly new to biking. Our second date was a bike mechanics class – he taught me how to change a tire, remove the chain, and so on. It was a marathon date that lasted all day! We couldn’t stop talking. Because of his love of taking things apart and fixing them, and his vast range of bicycle (and motorcycle and car) knowledge, he stays anonymous on the blog and other social media outlets as “The Mechanic.” He’s a civil engineer by training, and although his professional focus is water resources management, he’s personally interested in transportation and urban design and how cities can make it easier for it’s residents to walk and bike as much as possible.
We biked to our civil ceremony in Arlington, VA

We biked to our civil ceremony in Arlington, VA

  • I haven’t owned a car since I moved to New York in 1999. (Technically I’ve never *owned* a car, having driven one of my parents’ cars up until then.) I have gotten around quite easily on public transportation, on foot, by bike and by a wide range of rental vehicles. Moving to Arlington, VA, showed me how easy it was to get around by bike, and I drank the Kool-Aid, as it were, and now try to encourage others to try it as well. (Seriously, this is part of my job.) Between The Mechanic and I, we now own EIGHT bicycles – we each have a folding bike, a mountain bike and two commuter bikes. Thank goodness we recently moved into an apartment that has a bike storage room that allows us to keep them safe, protected and out of the elements.
The Mechanic's blue Workscycles bike with my new vintage Raleigh

The Mechanic’s blue Workcycles bike with my new vintage Raleigh

  • Biking revived my interest in sewing. I don’t want to ride my bike to work and then change clothes, so I started exploring ways to sew clothing that I could wear in the office, but were also bike-friendly. Basically this means “are also reflective” because just about everything I make myself has reflective fabric or trim somewhere on it.
  • I love to travel. The Mechanic and I love to travel. Sometimes we travel domestically (just got back from Disney World!) but we really love to travel internationally. We are planning on another European bike tour later this year, huzzah!

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  • We recently adopted Gaston, an extremely fuzzy 3lb lionhead rabbit, from the local shelter. Poor baby, in his almost three years of life, he had been in the shelter twice. I told him that although we couldn’t guarantee his forever home, we’d be his forever parents, wherever that takes us. He’s a naughty, smart, cautious boy with chronic runny eyes, and I couldn’t love him more. Isn’t it amazing how wonderful it is to have a pet? gaston

So that’s a summary of me and my loves. I plan to expand on these over the rest of the month, to bring you up to speed on my bikes (new bike this weekend!!!), my sewing and our travel. You can follow Gaston’s antics on my Instagram or Twitter feeds, as I tend to share photos of him there.  Instagram is where I post mostly sewing pics while Twitter is bike and work related, so pick yer poison.

I look forward to sharing more in the future, and hope to get to know you more as well! smithsonian-penny-farthing

Disney World, and What I Wore

Last week, I introduced The Mechanic to Disney World. He’d never been to Disney World nor to Disneyland, and I love both, so I happily planned out five days of experiences and restaurant reservations that I thought would appeal to him as well as show of all the magic that Disney World has to offer. I love the magic, the emphasis on imagination, creativity, attention to detail, and messages of togetherness and inclusiveness that is on display every step of the way. And now that he’s been, he sees how Disney caters to family members of all ages, not just princess-obsessed 5 year old girls – fast rides, slow rides, museum-style exhibits, ADA-friendly rides, various price-points, and so on.

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Me being who I am, of course, carefully picked my outfits so that not only was I wearing something I made four out of five days, I coordinated said outfits to where we were going each day. Yep, I’m weird like that.

Day 1 – Animal Kingdom

It was too cold our first day to get a photo of me in my new Charley Harper Sanderlings tee shirt, so I had to pose with Prince Eric in our Little Mermaid themed room at the Art of Animation resort. prince-eric-sanderlingsOne of my favorite things at the Animal Kingdom is all the exhibits about animals, including a bird enclosure with all kinds of exotic birds. Here we met Larry, the Great Argus Pheasant.

Larry

Larry

Animal Kingdom = animals of all kinds = bird-themed outfit.

Day 2 – Magic Kingdom

This was the one day I didn’t wear anything I made, but I love these red jeans and the tee shirt I’ve had for a while. mickeyRecognize the inspiration?

Day 3 – Epcot, Day 1

For Epcot, I was inspired by the park’s iconic giant spherical ride, Spaceship Earth. My moon phase Dressy Talk Patterns shirt coordinated perfectly! My star purse was the perfect accessory as well.epcot-day-1Day 4 – Epcot, Day 2

We split our fourth day between the Animal Kingdom in the morning and Epcot again in the afternoon. This time I wore my recently completed denim skirt with a Liberty of London/Uniqlo tee shirt, for a slight homage to France, one of the many countries represented in Epcot’s World Showcase. What is more French that denim and stripes?! And trying on a beret made me feel oh so Parisienne!

Bon jour from Epcot!

Bon jour from Epcot!

Day Five – Hollywood Studios

On our last day, we had brunch with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald Duck and Pluto, in a charachter brunch at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary Resort. I picked it because the menu had a tofu scramble, and it was really hard to find decent vegetarian options, despite all the restaurants (that’s a whole other story!). So we suffered through awkward photo moments in pursuit of a delicious brunch. with-chef-mickeyBut this outfit was inspired by the Toy Story Mania ride we did as our last event before we left. This is another Dressy Talk Patterns top, completed shortly before the trip. The fun shoe print reminds me of the toys from Toy Story, even though the pattern is subtle unless you are really close to it. toy-story-shoesI don’t always make my outfits quite so thematic but it’s really easy to do at Disney World. It’s fun to me – maybe that’s why I like theatrical costuming and Disney so much!

We had a wonderful time but reality rears it’s very ugly head and we must now focus on our everyday lives. No more vacations planned for the near future, but never fear, we have plans for the fall. And I’m sure as we get closer, I’ll be strategizing my wardrobe for that trip too!

Of course we had to visit Gaston's Tavern!

Of course we had to visit Gaston’s Tavern!

October Travel Recap: Biking in Shenandoah

My second “catch up” blog post from the traveling I’ve done this month! Soon I should be back on track – at least a bit…

I’ve wanted to go to the Shenandoah Fall Foliage Bike Festival for a few years now – biking through the Shenadoah Valley in October = fall colors, farms, exploring new places, stretching the bike legs. Also, it’s proximity to the Frontier Culture Museum was a huge lure; that’s a museum I’ve wanted to go to for a while. This year, The Mechanic and I blocked the weekend and made sure to go. staunton-welcomes-cyclists-sign

Admittedly, blocking the weekend did not equal being prepared. We registered late, which made it more expensive, and were madly throwing anything and everything together the day we left. We planned to camp, since the Festival offers cheap camping on the soccer field at the middle school headquarters. Yep, not really prepared to camp. But that’s okay, because we had a great time!

I was so impressed about the way the host town of Staunton, VA welcomed the festival and how organized everything was. There were signs everywhere welcoming cyclists, and stores in the historic downtown area all had signs welcoming cyclists; some offered discounts. The hostess at one restaurant told us that the Saturday night of the Festival is their busiest night *of the year*. Still don’t believe in the economic power of people on bikes? staunton-welcomes-cyclists

I was highly impressed by the festival booklet that everyone received. The booklet contained cue sheets for every single ride of the two days, in tear-out pages. Each page included the map, cues, the “need help” phone number, and a QR code if you wanted to download it. The booklet also contained the full Festival schedule, Friday, October 14- Sunday, October 16th, a map of this historic downtown, information on local shops and Festival sponsors, driving directions to the remote start locations, and a recap of how the Festival put our registration dollars to work, donating to local charities and initiatives. I guess after 26 years of organizing this event, they know what they are doing, but I am still impressed by all this. cue-sheet-booklet

Part of our non-preparation (I kept thinking of Rootchopper’s No Wrong Plan Trip) meant that we arrived at registration Friday night after dark. That meant setting up the tent in the dark. After we went to find dinner. Sorry, other bike campers! We took our commuter bikes, since we sold our road bikes, which meant a more comfortable weekend. I never even wore my padded bike shorts, which I took. In fact, we pretty much stood out as the only cyclists *not* wearing cycling kit. If we’d done longer rides, of course it would have been a different story. But I enjoyed our leisurely approach to the Festival.

Another part of our non-preparation meant that instead of doing the 34-mile loop that we’d planned to do, we did the short 13-mile “family ride.” We were too exhausted from the week to get up early, and wanted to get in some area sightseeing as well. No big deal – the 13 mile loop, which started from Natural Chimneys park, which had once been renown for jousting, was lovely and we were quite happy with our laziness. Sunday we were more on the ball and got a reasonable start to the 20-mile farm loop, which included stops at three farms. Well, one was a bushel of apples set out for cyclists at an orchard, one was a pickling farm stop, and the last, official stop was Polyface Farms, famous for “radical” farming ideas that include healing the earth and being sustainable. We had hoped for an educational component to that stop, to learn more about their mission and values and techniques, but had to settle for hot dogs and “switchel” offered by polite middle school students. (I was happy to see friendly bunnies, even though I know they are being raised for their meat…) farm-ridefields

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We ate well in several downtown Staunton restaurants and cafes (more vegetarian options in this tiny 10-block town than in all of the DC area!), enjoyed the Frontier Culture Museum, and had absolutely perfect weather!

We are definitely adding this bike weekend to our schedule for next year. There is still more in the area that we haven’t explored, and with so many route options, we know we will see new things. And maybe be a bit better prepared for the camping….

Fields of Gold in Shenadoah

Fields of Gold in Shenadoah

 

Oct Travel Recap: New York City

Oh my – between travel and everything else crazy that has gone on this month, I haven’t had time to blog! But there is so much to share, so here’s the first of two recaps of October travel.

I went to New York City for four days earlier in October to fabric shop and visit friends. It was a really good trip, successful in fabric shopping, friends, art, culture and some thought-provoking museum exhibits.

Fabric shopping was on the top of my list, so after arriving on the Vamoose Bus and dropping my luggage at Schwartz Luggage Storage, I ran to the Garment District. Some friends had posted articles about the Garment District fabric stores closing, and although the large ones like Mood and my favorite B&J Fabrics don’t seem to be effected, the small, family-run stores are in danger. I found one store that advertised it was it’s last day, and everything was on clearance. Although I don’t have an immediate need for two-colored sequin fabric or brocades, well, I couldn’t beat the prices, so I purchased 2 yards of each. And a pretty knit for the McCalls 6844 sweater I’ve wanted to make for a while now.

Last day here - the owner (manager?) was very friendly and upbeat, flirted a bit, so I didn't ask about what he does next. I didn't want to remind him...

Last day here – the owner (manager?) was very friendly and upbeat, flirted a bit, so I didn’t ask about what he does next. I didn’t want to remind him…

I did buy some luxury fabrics at B&J Fabrics, to make some nice basics – a blue tencel twill for another Dressy Talk basic blouse, and a stretch gray for a Sew Over It Ultimate Pencil Skirt. Those two pieces will be nice work basics, nothing flashy, but good “uniform” pieces.

The blue is darker than I was looking for but I love the fabric. It's hard to get the color right in these photos!

The blue is darker than I was looking for but I love the fabric. It’s hard to get the color right in these photos!

Meeting up with a friend in Hoboken resulted in a stash of vintage sewing patterns. She has been cleaning out her mother’s and grandmother’s sewing stashes, and has offered me whatever I want. I made two blouses out of Liberty of London fabric she gave me a while ago. The vintage patterns were fun, especially after having attended the National Arts Club FashionSpeak Fridays talk about the collaboration between Jackie Kennedy and designer Oleg Cassini. I’m not a 1960s styles fan but seeing all the photos of Jackie’s outfits was wonderful. So I ended up with a few patterns that I might end up making.

I also went to two Broadway shows, “School of Rock” and “Something Rotten,” and loved both of them. I have friends working on both shows (wardrobe friends, so backstage, not on stage), so it was fun to see what they are up do. school-of-rock something-rottenMy visit to the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum was one of the best things I did all weekend (and I did alot of great things). I went for the Scraps: Fashion, Textiles and Creative Reuse exhibit, but found so much more. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a museum that so thoroughly engaged my intellect as well as my creativity. cooper-hewitt_scrapsThe exhibits focused on the design element in the world around us, such as the history of design of the American police system, but also how design can improve the future, how it tackles social injustice, the affordable housing crisis, and even allowed the public to design solutions for modern social problems.

I found these statistics to be depressing as well as educational and inspiring.

I found these statistics to be depressing as well as educational and inspiring.

But the Cooper Hewitt had a really cool feature that I wish all museums would do – a digital “pen” that allowed each individual guest to “collect” the display items that they like. You match the + on the end of the pen with the + on each item display, and it downloads or links or something. With each payment you are given a unique code, and then you can log onto their website and see the things you liked. So cool! Also, then I didn’t have to take photos of everything and fill up my already overtaxed iPhone storage…

I am always pleased to have such a stimulating trip, full of ideas and concepts and thoughts as well as just simple visuals of where I have been. Between the city itself, Central Park, the new Oculus at Ground Zero, and a stroll down Fifth Avenue, I feel inspired and yearning to create and design. Now, if only I had the time! After returning from this long weekend, The Mechanic and I went away for a bike weekend in the country. Still no time to create! But that was also a lovely weekend – stay tuned for that recap coming up soon.

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