20140201-224657.jpg20140201-224712.jpg

20140202-005349.jpgI’ve written about felting before. This Christmas I got some awesome felting needles and reference books on it. So my first project was the owl below and the freehand white chibi totoro and robot. I’m pretty happy with the totoro, but the robot leaves more to be desired. I may just stick to simple shapes to start.

The allure is that it’s just like sculpture. If you understand spatial relationships, then you can do it. It’s like getting some play dough. You don’t need to be consistent with your punching (you kind of do, but it’s not like knitting/purling with yarn). It’s an incredibly wide entry. You can get SUPER creative with it, but there are a lot of low hanging fruit and it’s so satisfying. It’s pretty quick if you’re dealing with a small project, that you get that satisfaction in 1-5 days.

I may start making my own designs on a wool sweater. (I should pick up cheap ones at Old Navy!)

The thing about felting is it takes no real skill (I suppose you need to be good with spatial conception) and you get results fairly quickly. It’s just so much more satisfying than knitting or crocheting.

A lot less abstract and really cathartic to stab something with needles. (I did stab my palm a couple of times (ouch), so you need to be careful.

20140201-224724.jpg

20140202-005400.jpg

20140201-224802.jpgAs I mentioned before, Ryan and I were away from the apartment for 4+ weeks. I originally didn’t intent to be away for that long. I knew 3 weeks was a little long, but I knew they would be ok for 2 weeks, and I was willing to risk the extra week. Little did I know that the East coast Polar Vortex had another plans for me. When my flight was canceled, they weren’t able to schedule me on a plane for another WEEK.

Luckily, I was just at my in-laws and I wasn’t stranded in the airport or in a hotel for that extra week. It was pretty lovely and I worked from home.

So, my poor fish. We had 11 fish in a 20 gallon tank. I cleaned the tank before I left and had a timer on the light. (I have plants in there – so I wanted to make sure they wouldn’t die.) I lost 2 fish, which probably became fish food for the rest of the fish (yeaaaaaah…), and my aquaria was infested with red and brown algae. I guess that was to be expected.

All of my rummy nose tetras survived. The neons, though, didn’t do well. My 2 cardinals were fine. The algae just made my tank LOOK SO UGLY. I was pretty depressed about my tank and when I came back, I cut the amount of light to the tank to restrain the growth. (Of course, I also did frequent smaller water changes to keep the nutrients out of the water.) It helped a little bit.

The second step was to buy some extra plans so that they out compete the algae for the light.

The third step, which made me nervous, was to do a bleach dip of the old plants covered in algae. (They won’t be able to get light and they are going to die. My java fern was already turning all sorts of red shades.) I made a solution of 20 parts water and 1 part bleach. I soaked the leaves and stems for 1-3 minutes (depending on how fragile the leaves where) and rubbed off as much algae as I could without damaging the leaves. I also did a quick bleach dip on the new plants to make sure I wasn’t introducing any pests to my aquarium.

I decided to clean much of my cloth plants and my castle, as well. The result is that my aquarium is not as bad to look at again. (Final picture above.) I am so pleased with the extra plants. I hope they survive. I did a quick water change, and I may do another one tomorrow, since I am paranoid about the bleach. (After the bleach solution, I soaked everything in regular tap water for 3-5 minutes, then I soaked them in dechlorinated water for 10+ minutes.)

It’s been a couple of hours + a feeding and so far so good.

Odd Note – The Neon tetras and cardinals were always SO skittish. I think the great hunger of 4 weeks, made them come out of their shell. That, and the fact that there is only 3 blue fish, they sort of joined the rummy nosed school. They follow them around and the result is that they are visible and not skittish anymore. They come out for food, I see them schooling regularly. I was thinking of getting 3 more neons to finish the school, but I may leave well enough alone for now.

OK. I know this was a big trend before, but can I just say that I love the animal graphic sweater/tee trend?

It’s so cute. And now that it’s old news, I still want to continue wearing my dog print sweater and fox print beanie. Truth be told, I’ve always loved animal stuff. I have couple of small dolls and sculptures around the apartment of animals (birds, owls, deer, and foxes), and I love animal graphics on clothes. (I have a fox dress that I bought in Williamsburg that I love and a deer ring that can stab you with its antlers.)

I’ve already accepted that I will look like someone who just can’t get away from fall of 2012.

I feel like it’s that little old lady in me. In another generation, I would have been that lady with a huge boho bag in some crazy bird pattern with all these porcelain animals everywhere. Maybe a glass menagerie chirping on about some gentleman caller? Perhaps.

When I cleaned my closet, I lost a couple of sweaters to moths. Maybe that’s why I let myself buy a couple of sweaters at old navy, one of them being a bird cardigan (in navy).


(found at old navy)

Buying new things was against one of the rules I set for myself for the capsule wardrobe. I have more than enough stuff. Still… I just couldn’t resist. The kicker is that everything I bought was on sale (1 $10 sweater, 1 $20 sweater, and $20 button down shirt). IN ADDITION, since I bought $50, I got free shipping and an extra 30% off for using a mobile phone and code “MOBILE.” I got those three items for $35. How amazing is that?

So… hopefully I don’t get too many eye rolls, but I think that sweater is ADORABLE.

So, normally I’m not one to make any New Year’s resolutions. That being said, I wanted to try to live a better life with less. I wanted to appropriate the mantra, “Quality over quantity.” this year. That being said, the first step was just getting my life in order (haha) and getting my act together to clean the apartment.

Last time we were in Oregon (in October), a friend of mine needed a place to stay and asked to stay at our apartment for a night when we weren’t there. Unfortunately the state of our bedroom was RIDICULOUS, but she was able to stay on the futon in the living room. That was embarrassing, but she’s like family, so what are you going to do, right? Either way, I was very much aware of how I need to clean my apartment.

20140201-223712.jpgThis time Ryan and I have been away from the apartment for nearly 4 week+ weeks. The aquarium was a MESS. (Although majority of the fish survived without anyone feeding it or doing water changes.) The living room was cluttered and it was everything we could do to just get rid of the filth and do all the dishes before we left. (We may not be doing this adult thing like we’re suppose to.)

So the first thing I did when we came back (ok – so this happened the second weekend back) was to clean the apartment. To facilitate this, I invited Jay and his GF over. I had to clean the living room, at least. I felt motivated. That’s saying a lot, since normally I would need to force myself to watch Hoarders to get the horrific inspiration to clean. I cleaned the kitchen (dishes, stovetop, and scrubbed the sink clean), bathroom, living area/TV… everything except my bedroom. Uhg.

20140201-223703.jpgEventually, on Sunday, I hauled my ass to clean the bedroom. It’s not perfect, but it’s SO much better. The floor is completely clear of stray clothes. I cleaned my closet for the first time in YEARS. I found this iced tea in one of those tote bags above. I also may have found a Duane Reade receipt dated 2011. Yeah. It has never been opened, so it’s probably fine. (If there is ever a nuclear disaster, it may have been a good idea to just go foraging for food and water in my closet. Thankfully there wasn’t too much more perishables in there. It was a little ridiculous how I found extra packets of hot cocoa mix in one of my bags still filled with sordid random items from my last job. (Mind you, I’ve been at my current job over 2 years now.) There were mountains of tote bags. I found random sweaters eaten apart by moths. Sweaters I used to like. :( (This resulted in a small shopping spree at Old Navy for 2 new sweaters – but that’s another story.)

20140201-223720.jpgIt’s always the case in these situations that you find things you COMPLETELY forgot about. Clothes that you never wore and bags you never saw again. I bought a tote bag the last time I was at a Tori Amos concert, and I found it. I don’t think I ever used it. :P (This also leads to the question, WHY ON EARTH DO I HAVE SO MANY FABRIC TOTES NOW? I never used to have fabric totes a decade ago. These are bags I collected in the last… 10 years? Where did all these bags come from? I’ve organized them into, bags I like and want to keep – aka. bags I bought – and bags I am going to set aside to give to friends whenever they need a bag to put shit in – aka. random tote bags I managed to accumulate via free stuff.)

It’s like a weird unintentional time capsule, don’t you think? I also found 3 random Magic the Gathering cards, H&M gift cards, scarves, hats and gloves I forgot I had (I suspect these were gifts from a friend who works at an accessories company), etc.

Also, WHAT IS THAT BLACK PIG with wire around it’s neck? I think it was given to me by someone at my last job, but why on earth would I take it and keep it? I just hold on to way too much stuff. Also, what is that unidentified clear bottle of liquid, which was clearly some free item without a label saying what it is, just the damn healthcare brand on it. WTH?

I still also found tons of shutterfly branded chapstick that I drunkenly took at a vendor event at shutterfly.

I want to adopt the idea of a capsule wardrobe. I just want to have a regular rotation of high quality items I can wear that will last. I want to get rid of all of my “crap” in my bedroom. (Hence the recent cleaning spree, which I will discuss later.) I want to stop being such a hoarder. I need to purge. (33 is an arbitrary number. I will probably settle on 40-50 depending on the season, but it’s definitely a start.)


(image courtesy of samishome, which illustrates the idea of capsule wardrobes well)

I have an insane amount of hats. It’s ridiculous. I have like 20-30 hats. I DID NOT BUY ANY OF THEM. This is what happens when you know someone in the accessory field. I like a lot of them, but I’m not a hat person. Hmmm. I may sell some of them to Beacon’s Closet or on Ebay.

I plan to throw away anything I don’t want. I want to store everything else out of sight and mind. The plan is that if I don’t think about these things when I move next year… I am throwing them out. (Reasonable, right? I need to take baby steps.)

I just want to live a better life with less.

Happy New Year!! (Ok, so it is already February.)

So, quite some time ago, when I was still in the single digits, my mother signed up me for a show that was filmed to teach kids in Japan English. It was sort of… Barney-esque? (Or what I imagine a children’s show like Barney to be like, since I was too old to actually watch Barney.) This was my chance to be a child star, or so I like to think. I could be Lindsay Lohan right now, running from rehab doing way too much blow in trendy places like grungy garages of some new hipster boy band. So, the concept of this show was that there was this white lady with a guitar, surrounded by bilingual Japanese-American kids. Some of us half-white, some of us not, etc. So they cast me and we went through rehearsals, where we repeat and sing with the lady in perfect English. If my memory serves me right, I was made to sing, “Fresh fish for lunch, fresh fish for dinner…” or something stupid like that. Either way, the woman LOVED me and I breezed through rehearsals. Then, when they started rolling, I JUST COMPLETELY FROZE. And there goes my career. (I was also on some AT&T commercial for international calling plans as a baby. Apparently. My father was also an extra on a skit on SNL, back in the late 70s. Yeah. Lots of C-level talent here in this family.)

20140201-224622.jpgThis weekend, I was asked to say a few lines for my friend Carey’s movie that he is shooting. I don’t want to give away too much, but it wasn’t so much an acting part… as much shooting a PSA? I don’t want to give too much away, so I am going to leave it at that.

Either way, it was a lot of fun, a breeze, and it didn’t traumatize me like the above incident. I got to catch up with a friend, and I did not clam up. All in all, not too shabby. I’m going to stop patting myself on the back, though, since I haven’t seen how it all came out. Hopefully this is my chance to be a STAAAAAR DAAARLING! :P (Although, it made the memories come flooding back. All those child star dreams down the drain. Oh woe.) The studios as a cute small place in the city. There was lots of red, and when it comes out I will definitely post it here. (I was asked to be in another video of his, on Critical Thinking, but I ended up having too much to do on the day of the shoot (I had a party planned) and it didn’t work out.

See the below video for other things my friend Carey has done.

As you may know, my husband bought me a sewing machine for Christmas. (So it’s kind of been a year.) I’ve made some small pillows, pillow covers, and a shoddy dress and t shirt dress. I also created an apron from a pattern that my MIL and SIL got me as a combination gift. I’ve also made pants. That bring said, I am such a beginner, I realized that I don’t really know finishing techniques, and how to effectively use a pattern.

This led me to look for online tutorials on how to make a dress/skirt. That’s how I found Craftsy. I found a basic class for fundamentals, where Brett Bara walks you through a simple pattern from start to finish, called Sew Ready Garment Basics.

Finished skirt flat

Finished skirt flat

In the class, I made a straight/pencil skirt. It has no lining. It taught me how to properly put in pattern darts and install a zipper. I really learned some great fundamentals, such as pressing all my seams as I went and finishing my seams. I also used fusible interfacing for the first time to reinforce the waistband. I’m really pleased at how it came out.

Here’s a little quick recap.

Cutting the pattern

Cutting the pattern

The class came with a basic straight skirt pattern from Butterick B5466 Misses Skirt and Belt. It includes 6 different variations on the basic skirt. In the tutorial, she offers a view into version A and C. I created the basic version A.

The tutorial walks you through how to read the pattern, which may be very basic, but was something I was missing. I totally didn’t know any of the short hand for going along the grain/cutting the pattern so the garment lays correctly. If you never had anyone teach you how to read patterns, this is a really helpful tutorial to get you set up with all the basics.

It takes you through putting in a dart and how to press the fabric to make it look really professional. The zipper installment was pretty straight forward, too, although I kind of fudged the seam there.

A little snafu, putting in the zipper.

A little snafu, putting in the zipper.

The thing I liked the best is that I normally skimp on a lot of steps that would make a garment more professional looking, such as finishing seams, pressing, and adding interfacing to the waistband. All of these things, really helped the end result. She also had nice tips for adding the curvature to the garment.

Adding the fused interfacing/facing waistband

Adding the fused interfacing/facing waistband

And for the record, I totally missed that the sizing on these things are not based on traditional sizes and you had to take actual measurements. I actually had to fudge the pattern a bit, since I didn’t think the larger cut out would fit me. In the end, it was pretty big, and I was able to take the pattern in. I also messed up on the slope of my hips, but I easily fixed that in one of the early steps (where she has us try the skirt on – when you assemble the larger pieces). I’m pretty happy with the end result, although it’s still a little looser than I how I buy commercial garments. (I didn’t want to end up with something too snug, though.)

Not too bad for my first garment without elastic, right?

Finished skirt!

Finished skirt!

Voila! Do you guys have any patterns that are good for beginners?

I wanted to use cotton to begin with, but I might go over my steps to create a skirt that is a little shorter out of a warmer fabric for winter. Maybe something in twill, so that I can wear it to work in the coming months?

20131109-135232.jpg

I’ve been privately upcoming my coffee game for a bit. I’m pretty lucky that the local Associated sells Brooklyn coffee, which is pretty tasty. Our favorites are their Bespoke custom blend, as well as, the BQE espresso beans. (We tried the BQE after a suggestion from my friend Genevieve, who takes the cake for best coffee I’ve had at someone’s apartment.) I’m pretty particular for french press coffee. Freshly ground beans in the Hario grinder helps, as well as, the cute Japanese tea set.

Near work in NYC’s financial district, there is a place called “Bean and Bean,” which makes excellent coffee. I also found another Australian coffee place on Broadway, which has delicious coffee. Luckily, I just bring some coffee grinds in from home and use my work french press. I find that in the end, my coffee is better than starbucks and cheaper in the end.

What’s your favorite coffee?