A Good Student and Bad Behavior

A lot of my sewing and other crafting endeavors are improvisational and self-taught. This fly-by-the-seat-of-your pants approach certainly has its benefits. I would hate to create nothing but step-by-step projects that leave little or no room for your own interpretation; conjuring up your own ideas is empowering. On the other hand, I’ve also been developing a greater appreciation for the rules; that is, the procedures and know-hows that ensure a successful outcome. I’ve learned that doing some by-the-book projects every now and then is good for my technique, and need not stifle my personal creativity.

So this weekend, in addition to finishing my gigantic Mexican napkin pillow, I made a dress using the formal pattern cutting, measuring, and proper sewing procedures that one should. One of the many benefits of working at a quilting magazine is being sent free copies of books like this one:

 

Without getting too far into product-review territory, I’ll just say that this book is awesome and full of very doable, very adorable dress patterns that are based on just a few basic designs. For instance, “Rock the Boatneck”:

 

Do you recognize the fabrics by any chance? They’re from the stash that my mom gave me after cleaning out our basement a few weeks ago. The combination of four different fabrics is Wendy’s idea, but of course I couldn’t stick with plain old solids.

Basically, I woke up this past Sunday morning with the urge for a little machine sewing and a break from the hand-stitched applique that I’ve been so focused on. I then remembered that my house guest rarely wakes up before noon (actually, she woke up at 1 pm when her alarm went off) so I used the time to cut out the necessary pattern pieces. Later that evening, it took me about 2 hours to sew it all together, hem the seams, etc. I realize the fabric looks a tad wrinkly even though I’ve ironed it to death so some steaming might be in order. It also looks shapeless, but I promise it’s very cute when it’s on. It’s quite short, which complements the looser fit; fun, but not overly scandalous 😉 There isn’t a dress in this book that I’m not dying to make so you can expect to see many more frocks in my future.

On Tuesday night, I tried out something a little different: fabric-based, of course, but no sewing required. It recently came to my attention that Lexington Community Education offers random winter classes in a variety of fields, including Fine and Fabric Arts. A couple of months ago I signed up for French memo boards. The class took place in my old high school (weird!) and included myself, the instructor, and two other women. Small classes are the best since there’s no jockeying for the teacher’s attention. It was informal, fun, and oh-so-gratifying. After an hour and a half, I had created this:

 

I’ll just cut to the chase and say that I’m completely hooked and my mind is already swarming with ideas for more memo boards. I mean, they’re a very practical room accessory, good for keeping track of all the little fliers and postcards that accumulate along the way:

 

But they’re also beautiful and not overly time-consuming. I have a new crafting love and have already informed my family and friends that they will be receiving memo boards whether they like it or not (fortunately, they mostly seem to like it).

It’s a good thing I’ve been getting my fabric fix these days because tomorrow morning Kyle and I leave for Las Vegas (we have a 6 am flight—early even for me) where I doubt I’ll be doing much sewing (I have my knitting, don’t worry). This is fine: I’m in for a different sort of trip. I feel like if you’re going to go to Vegas, you might as well go all out, and in preparation for the potential madness, I’ve been taking it easy this week with plenty of sleep and simple meals made out of whatever needs to be used up in the fridge. It’s been quite a while since I’ve really grocery shopped and am at the point where there isn’t too much left to work with so I’ve been eating lots of  cheese sandwiches for lunch. This isn’t as sad as it sounds: lots of gooey, melted cheese can be just as satisfying as any combination of multiple fancy ingredients. Dinners have been a hodgepodge of random foods but fortunately, my mom recently restocked my collection of fresh chicken eggs which are my new favorite dinner ingredient.

There is nothing like fresh eggs. Once you’ve had them, it’s hard to go back. Their yokes really are yellow, and they really are loaded with flavor; store-bought eggs are pale and bland in comparison. The other wonderful thing about fresh eggs is the frequent appearance of double yokes:

 

The first time I got one of these, I was so excited that I took a picture on my phone and sent it to my mom. I’ve had several by now, but I still texted her last night as soon as I saw two happy yellow yokes floating in my skillet. It just never gets old. A quick Google search turns up no real consensus on what a double yoke actually means—everything from good luck to the likelihood of giving birth to evil twins. All I know is it gives me an inexplicably good feeling. Double yokes makes me feel blessed—and even if I’m wrong about the good luck, at least I’m getting the double the nutrients in one go.

One of my favorite ways to have eggs is over easy on top of…pretty much anything: stir-fried veggies and rice, polenta, pasta—but last night, I decided to try something a little different. I broke into a long-forgotten carton of oats and made myself some savory oatmeal:

 

Yes, it looks like regular oatmeal, but it’s made with chicken broth, lots of cheese, and a bit of salt. My morning oatmeal of choice is loaded with milk, cinnamon and brown sugar—but this was equally delicious in a different way, and served as a lovely base for my eggs. That, plus a roasted acorn squash (which I planned on eating half of, but just couldn’t resist), and some green veggies for good measure, made for a satisfying and saintly dinner:

 

Being good can be such fun, but so is a healthy dose of bad behavior…Vegas, here I come.

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