Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My life; a magical adventure involving gourds.

So, what exactly is it that I'm doin' here?

Most people I know have blogs designated for particular purposes; sewing, character diaries,cooking, personal stuff, etc. This one has so far been pretty random; books, cooking, sewing, character stuff, amusing anecdotes about my adventures, and the occasional serious thoughts. Basically, my life.

You got a problem with that?

There are the labels of course, if you look down at the bottoms of my posts, you will see categories each post is in and click on it for more like that. However I don't really think anyone does that.

I keep thinking I need to rewrite my description at the top, since I am no longer in fact a grad student. I guess I could just cross it out and write 'adjunct'. God knows that pays nothing and eats up a ridiculous amount of time as well. That seems to be the one thing I *haven't* been blogging much about, but it is going on. It takes a huge amount of time, but it is rewarding. And I know a lot of this is because it is the first semester and I have nothing made up already. Hopefully in future that will work out a bit better.

So, if you were looking for a particular purpose here, there isn't one. Just me, livin' my life, making shit and engaging in shenanigans, historical and otherwise :-).

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lentil Soup

So since I met the Fella, I have been introduced to the magic of lentils. Delicious, nutritious, and no pre-soaking or any of that malarchy involved! Tonight was my first actual experience cooking with them, and it seems to be a resounding success! I made up the following after looking at a few different recipes and based on what we actually had in the house.

All the recipes I found online called for using vegetable stock, which I did not do because a) it is chock FULL of sodium and goodness knows what else and b) there is no reason for it! If you have a nice base of olive oil and onions plus other delicious ingredients, in this case including the juices from a can of stewed tomatoes, you will get plenty of flavor. There is no reason to go with prepackaged sodium filled garbage!

Lentil Veggie Soup

Enough olive oil to coat the bottom of your pot.
(The) 1 small (sad) carrot (left in the fridge).
2 stalks cellery
1/2 yellow onion
Kosher salt- about a tablespoon
Several grindings worth of black pepper
2 bay leaves
basil and oregano - a goodly amount (Yes, that's a unit of measurement now).
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar.
1 1/2 cups lentils
8 cups water

Heat olive oil in the bottom of your pot on medium and chop the veggies. Add garlic and kosher salt once the oil is warm, followed by the chopped veggies and other seasonings (except the vinegar). Most recipes tell you to saute onions before other veggies, but I've started putting them in with the carrots and celery because those things take a little while to cook, and I don't like to destroy my onions.

Saute until veggies are tender. In the meantime make sure you don't like, need to chop the tomatoes. Because apparently those can still be in pretty big chunks, and you wouldn't want to have to them out of your soup once you dump the can in to chop...yeah...anyway...

Once veggies are getting tender, add water, lentils, and tomatoes. Make sure you don't drain the tomatoes or lose any of their juicy goodness, you want that for your broth.  Raise to a boil, then simmer till lentils are tender, about 20-30 minutes.

Once it seems ready, take a final taste test. Add any salt, pepper, etc. Then and only then add in the vinegar.

Serve with fresh baked bread, if your honey is awesome and makes you fresh bread :-)

Drawstring dress- Yesterday's Progress

Yesterday was apparently Skirt Day for both Maggie and I. Perhaps if we ask really nicely she will show us what she did too :-) 

On this end, I got it in one piece, gathered and stitched it into the waistband. There is a great deal more to do, but it is now actually a dress!

(That side back seam is going to get some more attention, but first I need to try it on and see how everything is fitting with the weight of the skirt.)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

I do things- drawstring dress (in progress)

So back on the 'I really do do things' track, I find myself here in Regency/Federal Land- and what a marvelous excuse to make all kinds of delightful things! I already have the gold dress from last summer and the set of stays I made for it, of course, however now that I am here I needed to begin building my regency wardrobe in earnest.

Since I already have the stays, and a passable (if not great) shift, this begins with a dress. Yes, I know, I already have *a* dress, but that one is specific. What I needed was the all purpose, white, long sleeved drawstring regency dress. It's the 'little black dress' of the regency. The basic wardrobe piece from which all else may build.

Luckily I already had fabric. When I went down to the garment district with Laura at costume college last summer I had regency on the brain, and came back with five yards of some lovely woven white striped cotton.

Maggie approved. 
(It was produced, as demanded, to be rolled in upon our last visit to Birdsall Cottage)

What I needed next, of course, was a pattern. Enter the amazing Maggie Waterman; having pleased her with my offering of fabric to be rolled in, I was rewarded with my very own draped-by-Maggie (tm) pattern! The awesome part about this is that she traced it over my stays, so it covers them nicely. I wish there was a picture of this process, because it was fun and awesome, but just imagine Maggie bustling around and positioning me and working her magic. 

All that was left for me to figure out was the shoulder strap and making the sleeve pattern she had traced me off something else fit. Then followed an OBSESSIVE amount of staring at fashion plates, paintings, pictures of extant garments and books to decide if I wanted to have a separate shoulder strap of make it one piece with the bodice front. Examples of both abound. Maggie's advice was that having it separate gives you two places to adjust from and keeps it straight on the grain line. I think I eventually went with it because it doesn't look right to my modern sensibilities, (but dear lord have I now stared at enough examples to know that it is right).  I like things like that. 

The sleeve also required some adjustment to go from fitting Maggie's arm to mine. 

This is a way bigger pain in the ass in practice than anyone will tell you.

This involved Brian holding the computer with Maggie on Skype up over this thing on the floor while I cursed and fucked with it. It was awesome.

Since the fabric is see-through, I did french seems on everything that isn't curved. I will end up clipping down the sleeves and center back seems, but I'm waiting till I am absolutely sure I don't need to fuss with it more. Right now there is just a little bit of extra fabric pooch in the sides, but I think once I have the weight from the skirt pulling it down it will be fine. 

I also hand stitched down the top seam for the drawstring channel and the sleeves. 

Making this work over all the angles is a major pain in the ass at first, but as you go along it gets easier. 

Et voy-la. 

It's a look. 

Now I just need to finish the sleeves, add the skirt, and the back closures. Then, on to Spencer-town!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Austin Continued...

So I finally finished S & S a couple nights ago. Took me a little longer than I would have thought, mostly because I have been busy....but also, because I was kind of rationing it out to try and make it last!

I really enjoyed the points she was trying to make about being over and under sentimental. I love that Elinor is not always right, either. And of course Miss Austen's sketches of all other human failings are as insightful and perfect as ever. Their brother convincing himself he's a hero for doing practically nothing for his sisters, Mrs. Ferrars unable to decide if her children are alive or dead to her, etc.

The wrap-up did seem a little too convenient to me- Edward magically free, Marianne just gets over it and decides to marry someone twice her age. Still, I got the point - getting over your preconceptions and realizing your ideas about what will make you happy were very, very off. God knows we've all had one or two Willoughby's to learn from  :-p

Do not feel sorry for him. He is an asshole. 

It's interesting, because I think she was making a similar statement in P&P about preconceptions, but unfortunately, the lesson most girls take from that is 'you know that rich handsome guy who's kind of a jerk? dont' worry, you will totally win him over and everything in your life will come together!" This one is perhaps a little more mature, and definitely harder to misconstrue  "That mysterious handsome guy who's doing everything to lead you on but not actually offering you a real commitment? Yeah, he's a selfish bastard who is never going to make you happy." Hell, they should skip the Darcy fettish and make high schoolers read this one!

Not an asshole- but whoever you are projecting him onto in your real life probably is. 

As soon as I was done I wanted to read it again to absorb every little nuance, but I don't really like to reread something right away. It's weird, my mind doesn't really want to absorb it again yet. I have to give it some space.

Therefore, on to Persuasion! I'm about three chapters in so far, and loving it! I have no idea how I ever waited so long to read these books, but it's almost a gift that I did since I get to discover them now.

Look at you, just waiting calmly for me all these years, you saucy little thing- you knew I'd be back! 

Monday, February 18, 2013

In which I continue to slobber over the 1830's. In particular, prints and sleeves.

My newfound 1830's obsession starts with staring at all the different awesome prints. Also, Fashion In Detail and all the images I stare at confirm what the Past Patterns book tells me- that after 1836 the sleeves stopped being full at the shoulder and got tight up top with all the poof-age starting near the elbow.

For the prints there are some awesomely wacky things, which speak to the most insane depraved parts of my soul, but also some absolutely darling florals.

1832-35 from the Met
Holy FORK I want one!

1832-35 The Met
I think those sleeves could give you hay fever. 

1835 The Met
Some hot pellerine on pellerine action. 
Also, not a print.

1837-39 from the Met
Apparently we can tone it down a bit in the 1830's too. 
Notice the sleeve poof-age has migrated down. 

Hey look, it's that dress from page 192. 

Just a few other things I've noticed so far about the differences between the earlier and later years, but this may not be a big enough sample to tell; 

1) the pellerines seem to belong to the early years 
2) the waistbands, while always there, seem somehow more ....pronounced earlier on. Possibly even a little higher. I think it has to do with the contrast with the giant sleeves being at the same level- your waist should be tiny next to them. 

I will definitely be wanting a big-ass awesome buckle for the front. 

Edit: Take that back about the waistlines- here are some examples of buckles with the lower sleeve poofs. 

Also very quickly falling in love with the wrap front style.......

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mail Call- patterns!!!

Past Patterns was having a sale in January, so Brian and I decided to stock up. Package came today yesterday with the following for me

1862-1865 Garibaldi Shirt

The Garibaldi Blouse Pattern is the same one the wonderful and amazing Juliana Gaul used for the blouse she lent me for 100 Years on the Ohio last September. I believe her advice at the time on the pattern was to ignore the instructions and just put it together using common sense since it is very easy. Sweet.

1830's Full High Gown

The 1830's dress is one I have to admit I was only kind of excited about when I ordered it. Brian and I have been kicking around the idea of 1830's, it looked O.K., it was on sale- so yeah, just get it, whatevs. But OMG, from the moment this baby hit my hot little hands my excitement level began to skyrocket. Not only is the illustration super cute, but it just gets better upon further inspection. She's got a whole little intro on proper 1830's undergarments which made me freakin' squee (corded petty and bustle FTW). And the construction, knock on wood, looks new and slightly different but not actually that unlike everything else I've done. The perfect challenge level.

Those sleeve puffs are separate from the chemise, people! 
This is a kind of crazy I want in on.....

This one will probably take awhile to materialize however, mostly since I don't know when I will wear it. 100 Years is a good timeline event, and the Farnsley/Mormon house dates from that period, but Brian's docket is pretty full before then so he probably wouldn't have time to make anything to match. No matter, however. I'm happy to take my time, do more research, obsessively pour over fashion plates, and hunt down the perfect print like a bobcat after an unsuspecting field mouse.

I need to do more corset research- how much will the shape change if I fit it with my mid-century corset? How hard IS it to make an 1830's corset? They look like about the last era where I would ever even consider it- everything after 1840 and only Laurie Tavan is ever allowed to make my foundation garments. I've been wanting a corded petty for a long time anyway, so that is a win. And OMFUCKINGGOD separate sleeve poofs!!

 The 1830's are coming, my friends....oh, they're coming.......

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Miss Waterman's Diary

Miss Waterman recalls her engagement, as well as a strange dream in which Miss Tattman apparently begins a strange, new fashion.....

Miss Tattman and the Doctor share an unspoken sentiment. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

What I'm reading- the Austen Winter begins...

So believe it or not, despite having set myself up as a fount of Dickensian knowledge, I am actually pretty unversed in Austen. The exception of course is P & P- not only have I read it, but after being in Don's amazing adaptation with Butterfield 8, the dialogue has literally become something so familiar I could put it on as comforting background noise when I was studying for my comps. However the rest of Austen I have yet to delve into. 

Therefore, I have decided this will be the Winter of Austen, wherein all that changes. When I left school, I remember one of my professors telling me that if I meant to continue my studies but had some time on my hands, I ought to delve into all the literature I could to get a feel for the period I was interested in. Considering I am out in 1812/Austen land, this seemed like an especially good place to start. 

So, at the suggestion of my friend Christopher Erickson, who is working through the Austen Odyssey a little bit ahead of myself, I decided to start with Sense and Sensibility. This has the added benefit of being one I really do not know anything about, unlike say Emma (i.e, if at all avoidable, please try not to leave a bunch of spoiler comments).

So far I am about 45 pages in, and am enjoying it immensely. Miss Austen really does have a keen understanding of human foibles, both in the most obvious and subtle senses. I am really enjoying her characters and both cannot wait and kind of dread to see where they go. 

This Willoughby guy cannot be on the level.....