August 5, 2012

  • It was last week that we got around to celebrating #2 daughter’s birthday with this charming (store bought) cake, and her birthday was a week before that.

    I had of course intended to make her a cake from scratch with the pastry skills I’m learning in my Cordon Bleu course this summer, but I am behind on that as on so many other things.


    I did take some time off yesterday for housework and reading, and I read God’s Debris, by Scott Adams of Dilbert fame. Mostly this is a rather shallow look at God and physics, a topic I always enjoy thinking about, but it had in it the claim that there are people who like to talk about people, and people who like to talk about ideas. The ones who like to talk about ideas are boring. 

    The book was recommended to me by the Computer Guy, with whom I like to talk about ideas. We were in fact discussing God, physics, and probability when he recommended the book. The book is largely about these subjects, so he could have been recommending it for that reason. He could also have been recommending it as a gentle hint that he would prefer to discuss celebrity gossip in future.

    Either way, it’s an interesting book. If you’ve found other books on these subjects too serious, you should check it out.

    Today’s Dilbert comic is about conferences, which makes sense since it’s conference season. #2 daughter is in San Francisco for one right now, and I am envying her quite a bit. #1 son is in Utah for a trade show, and I’d also like to be there. I’ve been to a couple already this season and have another coming up in a couple of weeks, though not at such a distance.

    Janalisa is coming with me. #1 daughter thought about it, but she says that I tend to take on the social style of whoever I’m with. If she and I go to a networking event, we sit quietly together and don’t talk to anyone else. With Janalisa, I’ll be the life and soul of the party.

    I assume this is true, because #1 daughter is very perceptive about such things. It might depend on my remembering to talk about people rather than ideas. I’ll let you know. 

August 4, 2012

  • I’ve been getting warnings when I come to xanga — the whole “Whoa, are you sure you want to go there?” “Dangerous site,” etc. Anyone else seeing that? It caused me to think about exporting to, even though I have just recently paid my Lifetime fee.

    Unfortunately, xanga doesn’t seem to offer the export option.

    I know there’s something odd going on here, actually, because of the amount of peculiar traffic I receive. I simply don’t have that many fans in the Russian Federation.

    I tried to fix things by updating, changing passwords, etc., but I don’t like the new look caused by wantonly clicking on update links, and I still get the warning.

    Time to make real changes, or abandon ship.


July 29, 2012

  • I’ve been at a conference. This involves lots of work and fun and the eating of strange foods. #2 son was in town for a few days and #2 daughter is here for the conference, so that also has been fun.

    A lot of our conversations last night were just silly, though. How sure footed is a llama, exactly, and at precisly what stage do you prefer to eat bananas? Stuff like that. However, the Computer Guy shared with me his experience of thought.

    This was interesting in and of itself, of course, but it was also interesting to me because we’ve been discussing this recently around the house. Some of us think all the time, and some of us claim to be able not to think.

    I say “claim,” because to me this sounds like saying,”Oh, my heart only beats when I’m exercising. When I’m at rest, it doesn’t beat at all.” I think that the brain is always thinking, basically. That’s what it does.

    The Computer Guy says that thoughts take up space in his mind and it’s a relief to write them down and get them out of his brain. A couple of our family members say that they can be conscious but not thinking. Sort of meditative, perhaps. I don’t know. I can’t imagine it.

    Why should our experiences of thought be different? If it’s a simple physical process, a matter of electricity in the brain, you’d expect it to be fairly uniform.

    Or not. I was interested to learn, when I did a writing project for a surgical hospital, that human bodies are not alike inside: the organs are in different places in different people.

    Perhaps, if we had more consciousness of our circulatory systems, we’d find that blood flow was different from one person to another as well.

    Today I’ll be hanging out with #2 daughter till she leaves for the Big City. There’s work I would like her to have input on, but that may not happen. We should also visit her grandparents, but I don’t know about that, either. We certainly ought to try to eat proper food.

    This afternoon, I will go back to the conference. I don’t think anyone else from my team will be going, so of course I don’t want to go, but I hope I will go anyway. I’m sure I’ll have fun if I do.

July 23, 2012

  • I decided to make #2 daughter a nice hanging pocket organizer for her birthday. I had this one nearly finished, patchwork and all, when I noticed how completely crooked the top row of pockets was.

    I had to start over, of course. You can see the second attempt below. I hope to finish both of them up this week. The crooked one can stay in my sewing room.



July 21, 2012

  • I’ve sewn a couple of things since I was last here: a nightgown in very cool cotton lawn and a nightgown-like top in green rayon challis. 

    Nightgowns are great things for practicing sewing skills. They have little fitting to worry about and your audience, if any, is likely to be uncritical. If you have little skill, you can wear them even if they turn out badly. If you have lots of skill, you can use them to practice new things like pintucking or special buttonholes. You get a lot of wear out of them, and if you use quality fabric, you can really save, since a good quality nightie will set you back at least $50.

    NIghtgown-like tops are comfy, but less defensible than actual nightgowns. This one is a new pattern (I’ll go look up the number at some point) with interesting collar options. I’m auditioning it for some expensive fabric I splurged on.

    Both these garments are large floral patterns. My daughter tells me not to wear these, because a large-scale floral makes you look like a sofa. I see their point, but I like them, so what the heck.

    Does the existence of these garments mean that I have finished objects and should be rejoicing, or that I am no further along in my tailoring class and should be ashamed of myself? Probably a little of both.

    My big plan this weekend is to be very lazy, because I will have #2 son and #2 daughter home this week and will be presenting at a conference next weekend. This means that I should spend as much time quietly alone with a book as I possibly can, to recharge my batteries, so to speak.

    Extroverts find it energizing to be with other people. They can enjoy time alone for a while, but then they need time with others to recharge and refresh themselves. Introverts are the opposite. I figure storing up some alone-time energy now will make the upcoming friends, family, and colleagues time more enjoyable.

    Accordingly, I got some work and housekeeping out of the way early on and will now settle down to read, sew, and perhaps bake cookies if I feel really energetic. 

    Work has been very busy and is looking to continue being busy. This is good. We’re working through E-myth Mastery, getting things under control so we can continue to feel excited about the continued growth of the company, rather than as though we’re on the verge of a precipice.

    Apart from work, life has ben very pleasant. Friends, family, garden produce, walks with the dogs when the temperature dips down to something tolerable. No complaints.


July 1, 2012

  • Here are some florentines I made as part of my summer studies. They were delectable. I’ve also made financiers and chocolate croissants and other tasty things. This week I’m supposed to do macarons, but we’ll see. It’s hard to think about baking in this heat.

    My tailoring class is not going that well. I’ve watched the instructional video on interfacing the jacket correctly several times but haven’t yet gathered up the courage to do it. Maybe today will be the day.

    Yesterday, #1 daughter and I went up to the Next County to the shopping mall. I got a hair cut and we had brunch (quiche and melon — quite good) and sorted out the next steps we need to take in our business.

    Later, #1 son came over for dinner and told me how his band gets together and decides what the next step should be, but then no one does anything. They talk about the same next step for months on end.

    This doesn’t work.

    Equally, watching the same lesson for weeks on end and never attempting it doesn’t work.

    After watching the lesson yet again yesterday I went to check on my courses for next term and discovered that the software upgrade means I’ll have to redo my online section completely. I’m not sure where I’ll find the 40 hours needed to do this, but I will have to, sometime in the next six weeks. 

    Clearly, if I want to accomplish any of these things, I’ll have to quit lolling around in the evenings.


June 23, 2012

  • I’ve done a bit of knitting this week, and the Nantucket Jacket has the armhole shaping done and will now continue straight to the shoulder. In the larger sizes, you end up with the cables clustered together in the middle of broad fields of seed stitch. A different, and less appealing, look. On the fronts, I may do the decreases in the seed stitch panels rather than on the edges as the pattern is written.

    So often larger sizes are merely calculated, and never knitted up to see just how they’ll work.

    Today I am torn. I have work to do, and probably ought to do it. I also want to carry on with my summer classes: tailoring a jacket and baking pastry. I would like to go back and try to find the trail I didn’t find last week.

    I also have a bookcase to put together and furniture to move around in order to get the former kids’ rooms to be completely functional office and sewing rooms.

    My husband thinks we should move to a smaller place now that the kids are grown. We still have two in college, though, and I’m not completely certain they won’t be coming home. We’re talking about having #2 daughter spend some time down here beginning next year, too, when she starts up with the business full time. And of course we still have two dogs, one a fairly big dog.

    Perhaps when the business has a space of its own someplace.

    In the meantime, I want the two rooms to be usable. A couple of weeks ago I spent Saturday putting shelves together, and I guess I need to do that again. I also need to get the bed out of the office.

    There is also housework to do, and I have several new books to read.

    This is actually a nice dilemma to have. I can be productive and work on interesting an challenging projects, do some physical work or play, or lounge about reading and knitting. Nice choices.

    #1 son is coming over at 10:30 to borrow the car and I promised I’d have all my errands done by then. That at least settles the question of how the day will begin. If I get dressed and have breakfast pretty soon here, I can do a bit of hiking and then stop by the bank and the grocery on the way home.

    I can then have a shower and do the next lesson in tailoring, have lunch, clean house, read for an hour or two, and start the furniture moving just as my husband gets home from work.

    He will be so aghast at how badly I do it that he’ll help me.

    Then I can bake him some choux pastry in appreciation.

June 17, 2012

  • I did the first lesson in the Craftsy tailoring class yesterday: cutting and marking. I did it right, including going out and buying the right kind of lining instead of figuring I’d wait till later, marking all the notches accurately, and marking the circles with tailor’s tacks. I can see that just making this effort could improve my results immeasurably, since I’ve always been a lazy cutter, but it did take me all afternoon.

    This is the jersey cardigan I sewed a while back when I didn’t have access to a camera. It turned out quite well. The print is wilder than I would normally wear, but I like how mineral-like it looks. I show it in order to demonstrate the kind of jacket I could make in the amount of time I spent cutting and marking the tailored jacket correctly.



    I also spent a little time in the garden, encouraging the baby vegetables.


    I also sort of went on that hike I planned. This is the lake where the hiking trail reputedly is.

    This is the nearest thing to a trail that I was able to find:

    I checked the map when I got home, and the proper trail is on the other side of a gate which was marked “Authorized Personnel Only.” I will try to find the correct entry point in future.

    Not today, though, because I have to work. Clients are politely demanding their stuff.

June 16, 2012

  • I made a successful SWAP several years ago — successful in the sense that I actually finished all the pieces, and had the pleasure of wearing all the nice things I had made in coordinated outfits — and have, just about every year since, planned a SWAP. Each time I have made about half of the pieces. Sometimes I have just made the muslins, using inexpensive fabrics, and worn them without getting around to making the Real Garments for the SWAP.

    There is an element of the pathetic in this, admittedly. However, I have ended up with some completed, wearable, handmade garments in this way. Accordingly, I’m going to plan another SWAP this year. If things go as planned in the business, I might be able to find the time to make all the pieces. If not, I’ve had the fun of planning them.

    I found the color grouping at left on Pinterest, and it looks like a good grouping for fall. The fabrics below arrived this week in the mail. The print is a very soft rayon that should add a bit of drama to the otherwise understated collection. I plan to be traditional and start the SWAP with a two piece dress in the print, a jacket-skirt-pants suit in the gray, and jackets in the pink fabrics. I wouldn’t wear pink pants or a pink skirt suit, and I just bought a couple of pairs of trousers in different shades of gray, so I just bought enough of the pink fabrics for jackets. I plan to take a bit of the print to a fabric store and choose all the accent colors for blouses, looking for Bellflower and Rose Smoke. Alternatively, if I cannot find suitable solids, I may go very wth pale neutral linen, which I know I can find online. Local fabric stores tend to stock lots of fleece, polyester prints, and quilting cotton, and not much else.

    I’m doing the Craftsy jacket class, so I imagine that I will be adept enough to sew up all these jackets I’m imagining.

    The pattern counts as TnT, I think, since I’ve made and fitted all the parts. I also have a basic pants pattern. The blouses are yet to be determined.

    The brown may not really work with the print. I thought it would, but now that I see them together in person, I’m not so sure. The print is always the hard part. For me, it’s also the part that gets worn least. I should learn something from this. I’m not sure what, though, so I clearly haven’t learned it yet.