Monday, March 26, 2012

I have moved

Not far, not so very different but I felt that this blog wasn't quite worthy of my sparkling personality and I deserved a fresh, new start.

So here you go:

The Hot Mess Housewife

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Out of the clear blue sky

I'd forgotten how much I love Vera Farmiga until I attempted to google screen shots of that scene I was thinking of with Leonardo DiCaprio.

She's absolutely gorgeous.

I want that blouse
A lovely Grecian inspired bodice
I really should hate on women who look this cute while pregnant.
Alas, it's Vera and I find I cannot hate her.

And to bring it all together and justify this post's presence on a vintage housewife's blog, please watch The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. But only if you're prepared to fawn over WWII fashion and bawl your little eyes out.

May I also recommend Charlotte Gray with the lovely Cate Blanchett and Good with Viggo Mortensen and Jason Isaacs?

Excuse me, miss

Christmas wasn't the only thing Downton Abbey brought to mind. But since the last post was getting quite long, I figured I'd dedicate a new one to the baby's Christening plans. I fell hard and fast with this gorgeous day gown Lady Sybill wore a number of times throughout the series.

The crisp white collar looks gorgeous laying against the vivid violet, doesn't it? Nevermind the delicate embroidery, white tabs, purple buttons, and white cuffs.

As it so happens, I've been spending quite a bit of time with two issues of Sew Beautiful Magazine, #130 The Blue Issue and #123 The White Issue.

I'd already decided on baby Jacob's Christening gown, a not so frilly but still very baby ode to my family's nautical traditions of naval service. (Please don't tell my army husband.) The pattern is #112 from Creations by Michie. But instead of white, because babies are hot messes who live to puke on their mother's hard work, I think a blue handkerchief linen with white lace trim. Not that awful baby blue though but a nice, medium blue like the color of the summer sky. I'll probably add #110 Dedication Bubble but I'm undecided on the whole collar business. It seems two collars would be a bit too much, don't you think? So which outfit gets the collar and which does not?

Not the dress, silly. Try bottom left.
I'd also settled on Annika by Maja's Heirlooms for pinky's coordinating dress as featured in the Blue Issue and pictured below.

Then, a few weeks ago, someone on the Colette Patterns forum asked about how to modify the Crepe dress for breastfeeding. It was decided the best way to go about it would be to break up the one piece bodice into two parts to button down the middle. And since I already have the pattern, it seemed a natural fit.

So you can imagine where my mind went as soon as I saw Lady Sybill's violet gown. I only need to figure out the whole collar business in addition to finding the perfect blue linen, four whole yards of it at a decent price. I'd originally planned to use a navy linen but Lady Sybill has made that next to impossible now. It must be blue, in the same family as that gorgeous violet.

Look at this beautiful one Sarah from Sew Crafy Houston put together.

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Remember when Titanic was released? I was sixteen and I'd been waiting with baited breath for its release. Not because I thought Leo DiCaprio was some kind of dream boat because honestly, he's never done a thing for me (except for those five minutes in The Departed when he macked on Vera Farmiga anyway.) No, I've always known about the Titanic and its sad voyage to the bottom of the sea. One of my first memories was of the news reports on the day they found the wreck in 1985.

What I didn't know was how amazing and wonderful the fashions of the day were. It's enough to take your breath away, at least it was when I was all of sixteen and managed to get my mother to take me to see it three times in the theater. At the time, I wasn't really much of a sewist. I couldn't tell if I'd sewn anything just yet. If I had, it was only a handful of horrid dresses. Certainly I could never fathom recreating anything resembling Rose Dewitt Bukater's remarkable wardrobe. Upon subsequent viewings and as I progressed in my sewing knowledge, lingerie dresses and sequinned evening gowns became quite obtainable. However, I then had the problem of how exactly one would wear an afternoon tea dress with layers of floaty chiffon falling about one's ankles. After all, I don't have a boiler room to run through.

It doesn't help that all of the line drawings and magazine articles from the day don't give one much clue how they would look on a modern figure. Actually, it's a bit difficult to picture them on any figure. We aren't the first generation to give ourself an unattainable figure to copy. The S-curve corset could only do so much to thrust the female form into such an odd configuration.

Because this is realistic, right?

All of that awe and inspiration, however, came together in a way I could finally translate into my own wardrobe thanks to a working weekend for my husband and 48 hours with netflix in his absence.

Squee, right?
Cotton gauze, striped silk, sparse floral prints, oh the day gowns are enough to make you wish you could pay a visit. No, you probably can't wear such a gown any where but a costumed event but can you imagine those bodices tucked into a pencil skirt? That's exactly what I'm picturing and thanks to Past Patterns, I plan to make that happen next year sometime. 

But for something nearer, I was inspired by the ladies' evening gowns, just as I was by Rose's red and blue gowns back in 1997.

What could be prettier than lace and chiffon? And here I was, knitting away, contemplating what a dreadfully dull dress I'd be forced to wear for Christmas that would accomodate my pregnant belly when these beautiful gowns sauntered across the screen. With bodices like this, it wouldn't matter much what happened below, would it? I think I like Lady Sybill's gown on the right the best. The elbow length sheer sleeves, the bit of lace edging falling off center down the front of the skirt.

I've decided on navy for the under layers with a black lace trimmed chiffon for the overlay. And since we're dealing with a maternity dress I'll only wear again should I go through the effort to recut the skirt, I'm going to save up my Joann's coupons and shop from their Casa Collection. Past Patterns again will come to my rescue though I think I'll have to do up a few muslins to come up with the right look and fit.

Yes, without that batwing drapey part, I promise.

As it happens, my extensive stash will provide exactly the prefect fabric and pattern for pinky's dress. I picked up a few yards of a navy polyester taffeta for less than $5 a yard when I first discovered FabricMart fabrics about 18 months ago. I sewed up a quickie dress for pinkers that turned out so well that I bought five more yards when I saw it in their clearance bin a few months later. $1.99 a yard actually. I can't seem to find a picture right now so you'll have to wait until closer to Christmas.

I was thinking of a Simplicity pattern I've been holding onto for years. It's sized 3-6 so now is the perfect time to use it. It's not nearly a similar look or era but it will be cute nonetheless, especially for a little girl who is fond of big skirted dressed, puffed sleeves, and the slightest touch of lace. Go here for a better look. I'm thinking the white one but without the bottom scallops.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Everybody's Gotta Love Today

Come and get me, boys

It's time for dinner.

Kinda Sorta Beef and Broccoli

Want the recipe?

First up, the rice. My stupid rice cooker quit my ass two nights ago for reasons unknown. Perhaps it took up with the wok I lost in the move. I suppose it's a blessing in disguise since being without it brought to mind a simple rice "recipe" I used frequently before that little appliance came into my life.

Simple Rice

Melt one tablespoon of butter in a heavy saucepan. Mince up nice and fine one glove of garlic and add to the butter. Drop in 2 cups of calrose* rice. Stir over high heat until the rice is nice and shiny and looks a bit like well sweated onions. Pour in three and a half cups of water and bring to a boil, stirring so the rice doesn't stick. Cover with a lid and reduce heat to just a bit above low. Let cook for 10-20 minutes or until you see little tunnels in the rice.

*Calrose rice is a California rice that's really popular in Guam, Hawaii and parts of Asia. And I had no idea it was from California until I looked up just now on Wikipedia. It's in the asian section of the grocery store if it's not with the regular rice and usually comes in a big yellow bag. You can sub some other rice though, just not the minute stuff.

Now onto the stir fry. It's a blending of a couple different recipes I've used at one time or another. Accordingly, the measurements are more eyeballed than exact. So taste along the way and adjust as necessary.

Beef and Broccoli

1-2lbs of beef (I used top blade steak because it was cheap and cheap is my friend)
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 bag of frozen asian stir fry veggies
2 cups of frozen broccoli
1/3 c of teriyaki sauce
1/3 c ketchup (yes, I said ketchup, dooooeeeeet!)
1 1/4 c chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp corn starch

1. Stir fry the veggies and broccoli until heated though, seasoning with a bit of salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the teriyaki sauce, ketchup, chicken broth, and cornstarch until well blended, especially the cornstarch. It tends to stick to the bottom of the bowl.

3. Slice the beef nice and thin against the grain. Add a tbsp of butter or oil. Drop in the beef and the garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook until just shy of done. Pour over the teriyaki mix and cook until the sauce is thickened.

4. Pile the rice onto a platter or into a cassarole dish. Pour the veggies on top, followed by the saucy beef.


And hopefully yours looks better than my cellphone's crap camera.

I'm going slightly mad

Remember that ADD problem I mentioned? It seems to have gotten worse with pregnancy. So I did what any good procrastinator does, I started a new project, one I found after meandering around Ravelry for far too many hours planning my unborn child's coming home outfit. My time loss is your reading gain as I have another topic for another post. But this has done nothing for my current projects.

I'm supposed to be sewing, not knitting.

Is this a sigh or a gaze of longing into the past? And yes, pretend I do dishes.

For days, I have been planning to sew. I even get up, collect my supplies, fiddle a wee bit here, turn on the sewing machine there, but to no end. I pick up on project only to find my mind wandering to another. This weekend, after an absent husband and nothing to show for it aside from a couple more episodes of Mad Men under my belt, I needed to have a come to Jesus meeting with my face.

It was time to make a list, three lists actually. For starters, it was time to return to the entire point of my blog, WWJCD? Honestly, she'd probably don her pearls and pull out the vaccuum but since my pearls are still packed somewhere and I don't own carpet, list number one will have to suffice.

For the record, my doggie is not forlorn and unloved. She plays nicely in the backyard after doing her business a number of times of day. But I need to get out of the house and walking her about the neighborhood seems as good an opportunity as any. Plus, if I take her with me, I'll be less tempted to gorge myself on salt and vinegar chips as some kind of award for, as Chris Rock so eloquently put it, doing what I'm supposed to do.

If you'll notice at the top of that list, I mentioned knitting. If there is one thing my snarky little ass can't manage to finish ever it's a knitting project. I take that back. I once finished a baby hat and a pair of socks. Hot pink and lime green. Very, very cute. I'm not sure it counts though as there was meant to be a pair of knitting lime green mary janes to match and those were never finished. And so the set sits in a box somewhere while the newborn baby I started the project for is a hale and hearty nine months old now.

And so, another list was in order.

Lucky for me, I have until the end of January to complete these projects. Socks and hats go quickly but I have a feeling I'm going to be working on that romper between contractions.

And now we are on our final list. List number three gives me the heeby jeebies if you want to know the truth. It's not because they are difficult or even that time consuming. In fact, each bullet point should only take me two to four days to complete, even with staying on the conservative end of my 3-4 hours a day sewing plants. The problem is that I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can complete everything on this list by November 15th.

Well, perhaps not fingers crossed. It's hard to trace patterns that way.

In any case, game, set, match.

It's time to get crafting.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My future's so bright

This is what happens when you stay up much too late and can't sleep. The brain starts to wander you see. And while I should be thinking about upcoming plans, I'm sitting here with the startling realization that I'll have to make any Easter dress I do up next year into a nursing dress.

Now that this little thought has entered my mind, I won't be able to sleep until I've given myself a couple ideas. Thankfully, I've come up with three. However, now I can't go to bed until I write them up and stash them somewhere lest I forget between now and March of next year.

What better place than here, cached and safe from my slippery little brain?

Would you like to see?

Option number one would be this adorable, 1940's reproduction from Decades of Style. It wouldn't take much to make those buttons functional and do some kind of nursing openings into a lining underneath. Or would it?

Maybe in a linen and with a jaunty little hat to match, of course.

From Past Patterns we have option number two. This one is a pretty, 1930's number I think could be adjusted by using that little tie detail across the front to hide nursing access. Some experimentation would be in order but with the right fabric, it might work.

Again with the linen. I think layers of chiffon would be prettier but it wouldn't cover up the nursing access much, would it?

Option number three would be the easiest solution. Separates! For the top, I'd hit up Folkwear and use the Armistice Blouse pattern circa 1918 and gussy it up with all the embroidery and lace insertion befitting such a pretty thing. I'd always wanted to make one so that's a bonus in this option's corner. However, lace insertion is a time consuming process, one I might not be up to three months postpartum, or rather the baby might not allow me to be up to. If I were so inclined, I'd match it with this skirt from Past Patterns.

Of course I have plenty of time to decide or come up with a whole slew of different ideas. And there's still Christmas to consider. But I'll save Yuletide musings for a little later, perhaps once I've gotten a few maternity projects under my belt.

Everybody's working for the weekend!

So I finished the skirt but I put the waistband in wrong. I also cut the bodice piece on one of the Spring Ruffle Tops just a wee bit too short. However, I have plenty of that fabric left so it's not biggie. I just need to cut another one. My progress on the rest have been stymied by the realization that I've pretty much cut shapeless tents in my bid to come up with something that fits my pregnant belly. So I have a few adjustments to make before I proceed.

Lest you be afraid for me and/or take me up on my previous invitation to yell at me, I have started on the Fall Palette Challenge . . . sort of. No, really, I did start. However, I started on a piece that I added last minute. It's a hodgepodge of two patterns made up from some kind of lightweight walmart weirdo piece that's likely a poly blend of some sort. It's almost lining like. I have no idea. All I know is it's a beautiful burgundy color and I got four yards of the stuff from wally world's remnant basket. What four yards of anything is doing in a remnant basket is anyone's guess but it's not up to me to doubt the awesomeness of such a find. Since it is a questionable and cheap fabric, I think it's perfect for a maternity dress.

How very 40's, don't you think? I'm not in love with those sleeves so we'll be adjusting that into something more of a flutter sleeve. I also had to do a full bust adjustment on that bodice. Quite frankly, I should be doing a FBA on everything I sew given how *ahem* gifted I am in that area but alas, my laziness and fear of FBAs has kept me from doing so. I was planning to just press ahead as usual but hey, what's a challenge without a wee bit of challenge?

And so I present to you my first FBA.

I've already made up a muslin of the bodice and the fit is just about spot on. That's good enough for me.

I bet you're wondering how I'm going to get a baby belly into that thing. Well, I have a pattern in my stash that I think will help with that.

The pattern is meant for knits but since I just want to use the front skirt piece, it should suffice. Surely there's enough room with all those pleats. I'll have to cut it just a wee bit longer in the middle front to make up for how much length I'll lose covering a a belly. But I think it will work.

What say you?

Oops, I almost forgot the mention! I used Lazy Stitching's FBA tutorial for a gathered bodice found here. Thank you!

Monday, September 12, 2011

I Swear by the moon and the stars in the sky

I succeeded in cutting out the pieces for all four of my planned Spring Ruffle Tops. I'd love to show you a picture but someone has informed me that they are not the one today. I'm not sure if it's my phone or tinypic but one of them has had enough of my shennanigans of late and is not speaking to me.

This is what appeared when I googled "not the one."
Yeah, I don't know either.

But trust me. They're all waiting underneath my coffee table for their chance to meet up with my iron first thing in the morning. My goal for tomorrow is two tops and a skirt. Think I can do it?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Always something there to remind me

I have crafting ADD.

As you know, I'm supposed to be working on my Fall Palette Challenge. True to my nature, something else has taken up my attention, namely clothes that fit my fat belly. It seems everything I own is either increasingly tighter or increasingly shorter if not both. So I think I'm going to take a very short break from the challenge to sew up a couple quickies lest I be forced to wear H's band tees and my Flyers pajama shorts everywhere.

Not a good look, unless you love the Broad Street Bullies of course. Not that they've bullied anyone in ages mind you.

Thanks to the vast world of my fellow sewing bloggers, this project should only side track me for three days at most. What's not to love about an easy to use tutorial? I'm thinking this skirt from Sew, Mama, Sew in a linen looking navy blue and a few versions of Rae's Spring Ruffle Top using some of the fabrics I bought from's Everything's $1.75 section last spring.

While I'm doing that, I can finalize the details of my maternity alterations and find the swedish tracing paper I've misplaced.

Feel free to yell at me if I'm not back to the challenge by Thursday.

I'm sorry, Mama

I never meant to hurt you. I never meant to make you cry but tonight, I'm not using Bisquick.

This is the face Eminem will make if he finds out what I've done to his song.

I grew up in a strictly Bisquick home. No other baking mixes, be them store brand or otherwise wer permitted in our household. And rightly so. Bisquick pancakes are only the fluffiest, most awesome things in the world, even better than Denny's. However, mr man in law buys whatever's on sale. And since I never turn down food I didn't have to cook, I've gotten used to them.

They're actually pretty tasty.

As a bonus, they don't require milk or eggs which saves me a few pennies and leaves me with two extra eggs when I make breakfast for dinner.

So tonight, we used Krusteaz.

Unfortunate name not withstanding, I love them. But don't worry, Mom. I still have a soft spot for the good stuff. There's a whole box of it in my cabinet.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Are you scared?

Untitled #9

Because I was. Those colors I posted yesterday just weren't sitting well with me. I spent an hour or so combing through my fabric stash and pattern collection and finally settled on something I like better.

What do you think?

It works so much better than that hot mess I posted yesterday. I also narrowed down the list of projects to a much more manageable six pieces. This means I have to finish one a week to end on time. The primary question is should I get the easier ones of the way and save the dress for last or do I tackle the hard stuff and the rest will be the breeze?

Isn't that dress to die for? I know, I know. It resembles a retro dentist's smock. But trust, it's adorable. Or at least it will be. This dress will combine two firsts for me, working with knits and my first attempt at an Ottobre pattern. Oh, three actually since I'll have to figure out a way to make a sheath dress fit a baby belly. Where there's a will, there's a way . . . or a hot mess. Let's hope for the former, shall we?

And now for the actual fabrics.

See that cute black and turquoise checkered business? Yes, yes, that will be my Joan Holloway dress, oh yes indeed. Let's cross our fingers that I won't have to take out too many seams. There's also a black denim in there that will be worked into a little jacket with a Peter Pan collar. A warm black corduroy will be fashioned into a perfectly pleated skirt. That bright flash of bright aquamarine will make a lovely wrap sweater and the pretty floral silk looking fabric in the bottom corner will be turned into a pretty little sleeveless blouse.

Wish me luck!

Made by Lena