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 #BPsewvemberย 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!

Summer’s Last Gasp

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

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

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

Love this sweet fluffy boy!

Save

Sewing Reset with Bikes

A weekend immersed in IKEA led to another weekend immersed in sewing, although not with the best results. At least the folding bike storage turned out well!

The Mechanic and I ran out to IKEA two weekends ago, and came home with enough stuff to revamp the look and feel and storage of our apartment. I love IKEA – I love the sleek Scandinavian designs and the fun, quirky designs as well. I wish I had the space for some of those giant closet systems! I found myself wishing I had space for a new desk, too, once I found a desktop covered with cute buttons. Alas, it was the wrong size for my space, so I had to leave it behind.

Look at the cute buttons!

Look at the cute buttons!

The goal of the trip was to get another of those oh-so-useful 2×4 Kallax bookcases. I can’t get enough of these. This time, we put it up on legs, so the folding bikes could be stored *underneath* the storage. It worked perfectly! Genius.

Folding bikes below, sewing stuff in the cubbies, art work will eventually be hung on the wall.

Folding bikes below, sewing stuff in the cubbies, art work will eventually be hung on the wall.

After measuring and pricing and examining three different storage units for our living room, we went with the same Kallax collection. This time we added 8 cabinet doors to the 4×4 bookcase and carefully moved the almost-full 10 gallon fish tank to the top. It’s amazing how a larger piece of furniture can make our living room look bigger! We are both quite pleased with how this turned out, and at a fraction of the price of the other options we considered.

We even added a wine rack!

We even added a wine rack!

Of course, moving thing around was a good opportunity to sort fabric and notions and so on. Since I recently ordered some fall sewing patterns, I have new options in mind, and therefore did a bit of shopping in my stash. Is it weird to use the same fabrics and color schemes over and over?!? Because I have some knits that could be good for the New Look 6412 dress I will make, but is another navy and teal/aqua dress one too many?!

Too much of a good thing?

Too much of a good thing?

Sorting through fabrics got my fall sewing plans juices flowing, but I need to finish my summer projects first! So despite being on antibiotics and pain meds for Gum Graft #2 this weekend, I cranked out some stuff. In retrospect, perhaps I shouldn’t have – I’m not really pleased with how things turned out.

I made a third Vogue 8815 peplum top, in white pique with reflective piping on the hem, and realized a few things – first, reflective piping is the wrong reflective finish – I look like Judy Jetson wearing this top. Second, the badly fitting bust darts show up waaaaay more on this plain white pique than they did in the two print versions I did. I realized, way too late, that when I lengthened the waist on this pattern, I never dropped the bust point correspondingly. Whoops. So I’ll have to redo those darts. And I think I’ll use the last of my reflective rick rack on the hem, instead of the piping.

Then I made the Straight Stitch Sewing Greenwood tank. I was so excited about this pattern – so easy, a tank top, what could go wrong?! And I have been in love with the fabric forever, so I was glad to finally have an excuse to make something with it. And then…. it turned out terribly. I don’t really know what went wrong first, but I was concerned when the instructions said the armhole and neck bands should be “slightly stretched” to fit their corresponding opening. I had to stretch A LOT to get them to fit. Then I tried a stretch stitch on the bindings, which turned out too heavy, too dark, and both armhole bindings are thick ropy, distorted seams. They look terrible. The narrow zigzag I did around the neck looks marginally better. To top it off, the fit is weird – baggy around the upper torso and snug around my waist and hips. Added to these problems was the fact that it was my first download-and-tape-together pattern, which I’m too impatient for. Overall, I’m quite disappointed. This will be a wear-around-the-house top, if that.

So I have one more project to complete and I hope it doesn’t disappoint me either! I need to finish Simplicity 1693, just need more bias for the neck and armholes, then add the elastic waist. I love the geometric “eyelet” but it’s not as drape-y as I assumed it would be, so that could be a problem with the gathers. Simplicity camiI am trying not to get too excited about fall sewing, since I know that whatever I want now for the fall will not be what I end up loving (I can’t explain it but this happens with every season). On the other hand, I feel like I need to have stuff done before the season starts. At least I have some things still lined up for summer – and at least it will be warm well into October! But planning is the best part. Fall Ideas

Save

A Much Needed Change

An impromptu trip to IKEA last night meant that I unexpectedly spent Sunday building IKEA furniture. At last, I redesigned my workspace! I think this will make me more productive, since I won’t be buried under crap, or at least might have it organized a bit better.

This desk configuration was done recently, to give me more sewing table space:

Computer on my old sewing table, an old school desk, plus several pieces of mismatched storage units

Computer on my old sewing table, an old school desk, plus several pieces of mismatched storage units (sorry for the blurry photo!)

More space for the machines, but still with mismatched storage pieces

More space for the machines, but still with mismatched storage pieces

So my day went from flat pack boxes to wide open desk space:

 

I still have piles of stuff that doesn’t yet have a home, but I plan on figuring that out this upcoming week. Regardless, having this open space makes me feel so much better! This much needed change makes me feel a bit more professional, with matching/coordinated space. Now I can focus on the changes I want to bring to my blog.

You maybe have noticed, if you are a regular reader, that I recently changed the look of my blog. I am trying to come up with something a bit more sophisticated and TinLizzie, reflective fashion-appropriate. I’m not entirely sure what that is, but I’ll know it when I find it. In the meantime, I am working on refocusing my blog to be more on bike clothing and fashion. I’d like to find more bike fashion designers to talk to, especially bike friends like Bike Pretty and Cleverhood and velojoy. I know I have much to learn from them and their experiences, and if you aren’t already following them, well, you are missing out.

So stay tuned while I tinker with things – more much needed changes coming!

Still building!

Still building!

IKEA Rain Poncho – Look Out, Cleverhood!

IKEA always has the most fun stuff for such good prices, and I can’t ever leave there without spending more than planned. But I certainly wasn’t expecting to find a gray print rain poncho with reflective trim for $6! Look out, Cleverhood! IKEA copied you!

The poncho packs into its own small bag, which then acts as the front pouch pocket, which is a nice feature. The pocket flap, the two arm slits, the neck, and, rather randomly, a bit of the elasticized hood are all trimmed with reflective material, although there is nothing on the back other than the neck. The elasticized hood is a bit odd, and combined with the big Velcro flap under the chin, makes the face opening so small that it is hard to see out of. It does fit under my helmet, but the hood is large enough to fit over my helmet as well. I discovered this one evening when it started to rain heavier than expected, and I didn’t want to stop and fuss with the hood. The fabric is very lightweight, which makes it easy to fold into the pouch, but means that the fabric flapped up as I biked in the rain, and my back got wet.

 

It is longer than my Cleverhood, so it covers more of my bike, but because it is not made for biking, it doesn’t have the extremely useful thumb loops the Cleverhoods do, so I clutched the fabric and my handlebars at the same awkward time. Functional, for $6, but not very comfortable.

 

I wouldn’t use this IKEA poncho in a heavy rainstorm, because I am not confident it would keep me dry for too long. However, it’s not a bad backup to have, in case of an emergency. I could keep it at work, so if I need to bike home in an unexpected rain storm, I would be more comfortable than without. People with cars might want to think about keeping one in their vehicle emergency kit, although the solid black version is not a good idea at night. But if you are interested in a real rain cape, definitely splurge on the Cleverhood. Besides, you will be that much more fashionable in one!

Rental Car Date

Yesterday was a big day for The Mechanic – he sold Helga, his motorcycle.

Auf Wiedersehen Helga! (At last, I’ve gotten rid of the other woman!)

Now we are 100% bicycle-dependent for transportation. So we rented a car.

The rental car was actually to help The Mechanic get everything to the meeting point with the buyer, and then home again (since weekend public transportation to Woodbridge, VA is non-existant). But since we had it, we decided to go on a car date.

We braved the Beltway traffic and went to the IKEA in College Park, MD. Yay IKEA! I could spend hours in there, and in fact, we almost did. Although we were only on a fact-finding mission, I still ended up buying some stuff. It’s so hard not to! But I really needed a seat cushion for my desk chair, and then there was the Christmas stuff…. I know I won’t be back there until January, so I bought the two Christmas things I know I will need – Unicef holiday cards and an advent calendar. I still like to mail holiday cards, and I love my advent calendar tradition.

The main point of the rental car, however, was to celebrate the sale of the motorcycle by having dinner at Seasons 52.

Seasons 52 in Rockville, MD (although we eat at the one in Tyson’s Corner)

Seasons 52 is this great concept of a restaurant that focuses on seasonal foods AND every menu item is under 475 calories! It’s a health-conscious foodie’s delight!

Impossible, you say, how can this be an upscale restaurant with caloric limitations like that?! This completely gives power to the argument that good food doesn’t have to be fattening. Here’s what we had:

Chipotle Shrimp Flatbread for starters

Cedar Plank Roasted Salmon with potatoes, carrots and asparagus

Caramelized Sea Scallops with asparagus and pearl risotto

Our Mini Indulgences – pumpkin pie and rocky road. You can see how mini they are next to our wine glasses!

Yes, this is healthy eating! They even have steak on the menu, as well as several vegetarian choices. Both restaurants in Rockville and Tyson’s Corner were packed, with an hour wait time at each. We made reservations at the Tyson’s Corner location so we could kill time in the mall (in retrospect, maybe not a good idea, since I now have expensive chai tea from Teavana…). I’m not sure how many people eat there because of the healthy meal concept, but it’s certainly not scaring people away, either.

We needed to return the rental car afterwards, which felt somewhat like Cinderella’s coach being turned back into a pumpkin, but thankfully, the Metro and bus worked out perfectly so we didn’t have to wait too long to get home. And I was just as glad to be back on the Metro – traffic, parking lots, crazy stupid drivers, having to hunt down a gas station… These are all things I would not like to do on a daily basis. What a nightmare! I think driving makes me more tense than biking next to traffic. But it was fun to do a car date! Since we bike everywhere anyway, shaking things up a bit, and getting outside our bike-able zone, was an adventure. And I’m always up for an adventure!