Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Warm, springy, happy feelings

It is warm and springy, the flowers are busting out of the ground, Rita's is open again, I still feel like a rock star from the conference I attended, my gym instructor has added lower back stretches to the routine, I start physical therapy next week, and I'm visiting Pete in England at the end of the month. Does it get any better than that?

Since M liked the yellow flower pix, here are two more flower pix. Love the fake grapes lying there in the dirt; they're from a wreath I used to have hanging on my front door. The gray strip of door insulation used to be on my door frame too, ha ha! Oh, entropy.

Yellow hyacinths bursting out
Yellow hyacinth

Um, I don't remember the name of these flowers, but they make me happy
Blue flowers I don't remember the name of

I've made some more progress on the Amy Butler Snow Mum Pillow. Last night I cut out the medium & small petals with my embroidery scissors (I abandoned the rotary cutter for this task). Tonight I sewed a 1/8" seam down 1" of all 20 large, 16 medium and 12 small petals. I tried to sew the seam for the center petal, but I don't like the results. I might rip that out and leave it sans seam, or try a half inch instead of an inch. It looks like a starfish in the picture. The circle is the flower base.

Flower bits for the Amy Butler Snow Mum Pillow

Maybe I'll try cutting the threads off later tonight.

Gosh, could I have this pillow done by the end of the week?? er, weekend? I need to:
  • assemble the flower
  • sew the flower to the pillow front
  • sew on the piping
  • hem the back pieces
  • sew the back pieces to the front
  • insert pillow form
  • admire & photograph my work
I'm thinking, if I'm going to make my wedding dress, I should try making a dress soon, since it's been awhile since I made a dress. But there are still some shirts I want to make.

Oh, and rocketboy posted a review of a buttondown shirt he made. He is talented! He sewed that shirt out of a bed sheet. Another good reminder that fabric is everywhere.

And check out my competition for the Sewn Hat contest. I believe voting starts April 2.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Mad Hatter

Here's the hat I made for the Sewing Pattern Review Hat contest. I haven't written the SPR review yet, but I will (before Tuesday night, the deadline!!)


The pattern is my favorite skull cap, McCall's 4664. I've been wearing the plain aqua version quite a lot and when I saw this contest, I had this idea that I could make the hat again (since it must be made in the month of March) and then embellish it with flowers. Originally I was going to use the top most flower from Amy Butler's mum pillow, but I decided it was too large and too spikey. I then drew a few flowers til I wound up using the smaller size that I liked.

Love how I labelled one of my free-form flowers "good one". The spiky flower on the right is from Amy Butler's mum pattern; I decided not to use it.

Using my old hat as a guide for how many flowers I'd need; I really did make another aqua hat--on the left and upper portion of the picture are the cut-out pieces.

The flowers seemed plain without...something. So I cut leaves out of green fleece and centers out of aqua fleece and added beads from my grandmother's collection for the center.

Scrappy bits.

I started cutting out this hat around 10:30pm last night; I finished it around 9pm tonight. There are 60 flowers and centers and leaves and beads in total, all over the hat, front and back. The flowers, centers and leaves are all hand cut and hand sewn on.


If I had to do it over again, I'd interface the flowers so they wouldn't fray (I had white fleece but thought the contrast was too stark, so I used this cream colored flannel instead). And perhaps I'd make the layout of flowers more random.

Don't you like how I'm wearing my flower shirt with my flower hat?

I stuffed the hat for this shot.
Overhead view.

I have a whole album of poses--I need to decide which one I will choose for the main photo for my SPR contest!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Who is going to Pattern Review Portland???

1. Who is going to Pattern Review weekend, Portland edition?? I'm really really really curious about going to this, even if it is on the other side of the country and conflicts with two other events I'd like to attend. I'm feeling bitten by the travel bug again. Is the PR weekend on the East Coast in even years?

2. I meant to say, I knew the Saturday with Antoinette was going to be good when she said, "Good Times" as we approached the first stop light, driving away from the hotel.

3. As we chatted during the day, Antoinette talked about her blogging buddies, referring to each one by her real first name(I didn't know), then stating her blog name (which I then recognized).

4. I felt like a rock star at the conference I attended. The most rock star worthy moment was two women approached me at the reception and said they wanted to meet me, and one of them said she printed my documentation and read it on the plane and enjoyed it. Plus, 1 out of every 4 conference attendees came to my talk on Monday, when there were 5 concurrent sessions, and no one in the room used the module I was talking about. Isn't that a great feeling?

5. Spring has sprung! The daffodils are here...
Daffodil patch!

Love this one, struggling to come up...
Daffodil struggling to emerge

6. I bought some ranunculus at the grocery store...
Ranunculus from the grocery store

It reminds me of the ranunculus fields I visited in Carslbad, CA when I visited San Diego for 3 months in 2004:

looking to the south

7. I'm thinking of entering the PR hat contest. If I'm going to do it, I better get it done tmw!! (Contest deadline is March 31).

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Texas charm

I took pix of some of the details of my hotel room which fill it with Texas charm:

Love how the sign has the Texas twine!
Do not disturb. Love the twine.

I just like the pattern on this chair
Love the pattern and the colors; I may need to cross stitch this some day.

I like the brick detail.
Love the "exposed" brick wall.

The bed I didn't sleep in!
Love the "footer"

The conference is now over. Maybe sometime I'll blog about giving talks, but for right now I'd like to blog about being the audience member attending a talk.

In one of the sessions today, there were people doing the usual emailing, web surfing and blackberrying, but today there was someone who was also knitting a pink and red (yes, pink and red) blanket. Seems kinda wild to me (the color and the act of knitting during a talk). I don't knit, but from what I understand, you can get in the groove where it gets kind of mindless. I'm not sure how I feel about the whole emailing/blackberrying/knitting thing. Don't get me wrong, I've seen the emailing/other technology stuff by audiences before, but this knitting thing was new to me and got me thinking about the overall idea. Hmmm...

My flight is at 7am tmw. Wish me luck!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dinner was crazy and loud...

...I think the ceiling really embodies what the dinner scene was all about!!
There is this multi-color edition:
Mi Terra ceiling, multi-color edition
but also this silver/gold edition:
Mi Terra ceiling (new year's edition)

I have walked so much today...on my own this morning...with Antoinette this afternoon...on the way to dinner...after dinner. I think I will sleep well tonight!
Good night everyone!

I met Antoinette!!

I had a fantastic day! and it's not over yet...

First I had breakfast at the Crockett Hotel, which featured make-yer-own waffles in the shape of Texas! I forgot my camera in the hotel room, but if I had brought it with me, there would be a picture of a Texas shaped waffle right about here.

*imagine, texas shaped waffle picture right here*

It was actually quite tasty, too.

I went for a walk and saw the Alamo and went down to the RiverWalk and bought a hat because I forgot my sun hat at home.

Alamo with Crockett Hotel sign in back

And then I finally got to meet Antoinette! It was so much fun! Thank you, Antoinette, for doing all of the driving, first for driving from Austin to here and then to drive us all over, including the congested rush-hour style drive to the conference hotel.

We had such a great day! We had trouble finding the Southwest School of Art and Craft (thanks, Google maps, that street where we were supposed to turn is a parking lot), then we had trouble finding somewhere near the Craft school to eat lunch, but finally we found "Cafe Cool" and were able to relax and chat. We talked about a wide range of things, from sewing and refashioning, to weddings to environmental issues, and it was a lot of fun. It's the first time I ever met anyone in person who I originally met on the internet, and I came away feeling like if we lived in the same area, we'd hang out quite a lot (and definitely would take some classes together at the Craft school!)

Here we are at the end of the day:

Antoinette and me

Here she is taking pix of the library, after we just exited the Southwest School of Art and Craft:
Antoinette taking a picture of the library

Here I am with the "Art o Mat" vending machine, a converted cigarette machine that now dispenses art for $5:
should I take that one??

And here's one for Michele, for our love of cows, this one has red hearts:
a cow with red hearts for michele

And for Antoinette: here's the pattern review person who makes his own jeans, underwear, swim trunks and t-shirts:

And here's the Texas place where I buy double knit:

And here is the posting of my fabric stash:

Now I'm at the Conference Hotel, the Hotel Contessa. Each room is a suite, and my suite is larger than a floor of my townhouse. Holy cow! It has a lot of Texas charm, too!

living room couch and chair and coffee tables
Full sized couch in the living room of my suite...

You can see pix of my San Antonio trip, thus far, in my San Antonio 2009 Flickr album.

Thanks again, Antoinette--I had such a great day!! Hope to see you again sometime soon!

Friday, March 20, 2009

the night of the horse drawn carriage...

the light in my corner room at the Crockett Hotel...from it, I can see the ACA hotel and the cheaper place I stayed at after ACA in 2002...

the light in my corner room at the Crockett Hotel

i can see the alamo entrance from my hotel room, but those pix didn't come out so well.

but here's a horse drawn carriage picture...clomp clomp clomp clomp
the horsedrawn carriages outsideAlign Center

it's warm and i love being back here!

Snow on March 20!

I slept for 6 continuous hours last night, and then for another 2 hours. Now, that's what I'm talking about!

I got up and stumbled around and realized that it looked white in between the slots of the matted roman shades in my bedroom. What? The only way it could be white is if it snowed...

Snow on March 20, 2009!

I had no idea that it was supposed to snow last night! It's almost all melted now, approx 3 hours after I took the picture.

From snow to 85, here I come!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I was miserable, now I'm not

Usually sleep is my reprieve from anything that's bothering me, but with my back injury, it's not possible. Especially this week, when I've woken up quite a lot during the night. The funniest bit was Monday night, I was waking up every hour or so (too hot, too cold, had a dream that I was in the ocean with the kids from Jon & Kate Plus 8, and lobsters were pinching me--when I woke up, the pinching was my back and leg pain...) I've also learned that I am miserable without sleep, and miserably uncomfortable when I'm sleep deprived, nauseous, and in pain as I was on Tuesday evening. Finally, last night I was able to sleep for 3.5 hours without waking up, then another 2 hours, then another hour, so overall I was in good spirits today.

Plus, I'm flying to San Antonio tomorrow for a conference! I'm giving two talks (one that's an hour, and one that's a 5 minute lightning talk) but I'm not really nervous, at least not yet. I'm hoping the warm weather and change in routine magically mends my back. And, I get to finally meet Antoinette from CleverGirl in person! We are spending some time together on Saturday and will hopefully get visit to the Southwest School of Art and Craft, which I visited on my last trip to SA in May 2002. It was around graduation time for their school, and the student work on display really inspired me!

Last night I attended a Bryn Mawr alumnae event that was held at Princeton, to welcome the new President, Jane Damenn McAuliffe. Why don't more young alumnae attend these events? The three of us who graduated in the last 12 years instantly started chatting to each other. A student (class of 2009) was there for the panel discussion and she chatted with us young alums as well. She's probably 22 or 23, and it makes me wonder, what when I was 22, what was my idea of what someone who is 33 looks like? The student pointed out, one of the alums in attendance was class of 1938. I graduated 60 years after her. Mawrters definitely have longevity on their side.

I finished a shirt last weekend, NewLook 6838, view B. I added a ruffle to the top of it because I felt it was a bit low. Will I ever tire of ruffles? (hint: probably not!)

New Look 6828 view B

New Look 6828 View B close up before removing threads

Oh, and I packed tonight using my smallest suitcase and my new Acer with its new netbook sleeve (which also happened to be red on the inside). The red in real life is closer to burgundy than the red in the pix. Also, I read many reviews about the fingerprint issue--yes, it is true--it shows fingerprints like there's no tomorrow!

My Acer on top of a magazine
On top of the now-defunct "Sew Stylish" magazine. That's how small it is!

My new Acer Aspire One, the case, and lots of fingerprints

So at the baggage carousel, I'm going to target a random cowboy and ask him to pick my luggage off the carousel for me!!

I've lightened my load...
Too bad there's no sense of perspective...

Friday, March 13, 2009

It works at work

Following up from yesterday:

This morning Devin suggested the following:
You've had that wireless router for a couple of years (actually, it's 4.5 years old). You might want to try upgrading the firmware on the router itself. Usually you do this by going to D-Link's support page, putting in the model number of the router, and uploading the firmware to the router via it's web-based management interface.

I brought the Acer to work with me today and tried the wireless internet. Lo and behold, it works like a champ! So it *is* my wireless router at home that's the issue. I will be putting Devin's advice to use. Thanks, Devin! btw, I don't know what brand of router is in use at work, because that stuff is squirreled away and outside my dept's control. Unlike my last job, where the router was out on the table in the conference room for everyone to see.

I will wait til after my trip to San Antonio to play with updating the router at home. I have a work upgrade to test from home tmw, so I need the internet to work for that. I thought I might play with updating the router afterward, but my dad had a good suggestion to wait til after the trip is over. Maybe my 4 year old laptop won't like the update to the router, or maybe I'll need to update the drivers for the 4 year old laptop's card too. Better to play with all that after the trippy bip.

Oh, and Acer's tech support did write back, to say I should try turning off power save mode, even though I already had said in my initial report that I had tried that (by that point I was at work and the wireless was working, though a little slow, so it did remind me to turn off power save mode and after that the internet was super fast). Their response made me think of Antoinette's issues with Simplicity's customer service. Half my job is running a help desk, so I think it's doubly painful for me when customer service is poor.

Happy weekend!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Netbook no workie

So I've spent 2.75 hours trying to get my netbook wireless internet to work properly, no dice.

This is what I bought:

Cute, huh? It knows it's cute, and that's the problem.

And this is the wireless adaptor: Atheros AR5007EG.

So, the wired internet works just fine.

Wireless doesn't work properly.
It finds my wireless router and connects. (For some people, they weren't able to reach this point. So I'm apparently ahead of the curve, though it doesn't feel like it.)

But it has trouble loading pages.
I either get:
a. "IE is unable to connect"
b. It connects, part of the yahoo page loads (text and some but not all images/graphics). I try to navigate to another site, it may do either a or b.
c. It just thinks and thinks and doesn't load.

I went to Power Save and shut it off (some people reported that changing the setting from "maximum" to "off" fixed the problem for them), even though it's plugged in. Rebooted, still no difference.

I rebooted between the wired connection and wireless--and again, it finds the wireless router, but is unable to display pages or only displays parts.

I don't like IE, so I installed Firefox with the wired connection.
Went through the above, but with firefox I similar things to above.

I googled to find a solution. TONS of people have written about their problems with the wireless in Acer netbooks and their solutions or lack thereof.

I tried a few (find the latest adapter through Windows--well, I do that, it thinks for quite a long time, then says what I have is the latest adapter--oh, it's 8/14/08 datestamped)

I downloaded the latest adapter from atheros.cz dated November-something 2008, version ('cuz atheros.com doesn't have the adapters for my card).
I reboot.
I turn off power save mode (even though it's plugged to the wall...).
I try again.
Well, this time the first 2 pages load (text, graphics, etc) but then it fails to load the next page or anything thereafter.

I downloaded the latest adaptor from the acer.com site. It turns out to be the 8/14/08 one, version, so not as new as the one I just tried, but whatev, I'll give it a shot, uninstall, reinstall...reboot, turn off power save (still plugged in to the wall).
I try again.
This time THREE pages load (all text and graphics (google, google maps, yahoo home page) but it fails to load the next page (katie holmes's hair extensions) or anything after.

I tried the "troubleshooting" button (makes me laugh, it's a button but you have to double click on it...see the tester coming out?) and it really didn't help at all.

Then I see someone said that their acer netbook didn't work with DLink routers but worked with other routers? So I check, and mine is a DLink router. So I might try bringing the netbook to Panera or some other place with free wireless and see if it works there. While there are other wireless networks in range here at my house, they are all secure except for one, which doesn't even have one bar.

Oh, and McAfee (which was pre-installed) was turned off the whole time. The netbook was plugged in the whole time. Yes, I rebooted after every uninstall/reinstall of the adaptor. And the wireless works on my 4 year old laptop the whole time. I turned off the wireless on my old laptop in case there was some fierce competition going on, but it didn't make a difference.

Someone said the only way to solve their problem was to buy a completely different wireless card for $33 and install it themselves.

I filled out Acer's online tech support form more than 24 hours ago, haven't heard a peep, and yes I checked my spam filter and no their response is not there.

So I thought, maybe I'll just return this and buy the HP mini that's at Best Buy down the road even though the battery life is 2.5 hours instead of 6-7 hours and the hard drive is 60 instead of 160.

So I google "HP mini wireless problems" and there's just as many people with problems about that...

I should have gone to bed an hour ago!

Any ideas???

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Rolling stones

Time for a bit of spring, no?
My fake forsythia wreath
Welcome home!

That's the fake forsythia wreath I made on my day off, February 27, 2009.
Funny to think that last Sunday night, I was really really hoping for a snow day. It snowed about 6 inches overnight, resulting in a delayed opening Monday morning.
Then it was 70 degrees yesterday and I ate dinner outside.

And now the time change has happened. Please, can we choose a time and stick with it? I hate adjusting to the time change...

So on Thursday night I thought I would never get better. While my lower right back had been injured/hurting all this time but was mending (7 weeks now), my lower left back was fine, until I was collecting trash...something happened, a pain shot down my left leg, and I went down to the floor. At least the pain down the leg went away, though the pinching/aching sensation in my left back has not. I guess the good news is I think the right lower back is almost completely healed now. Or the left side just hurts more than the right side, but in a different way than the original injury. If that makes any sense.

A coworker helped me discover heat wraps, which magically become warm when they are in contact with air (ok, with a BA in chemistry I should know what reaction is taking place here...but I have not bothered to google it yet). They stick onto the body and last for at least 8 hours. They are a fantastic distraction. Maybe it's only psychological, but it's helping.

I have done a bit of shopping...I bought a new mattress to help with my back, and today I ordered a mini-laptop, or "netbook" as I heard they are called. It will be great for mobility around the house and also when I go to a conference in less than 2 weeks--I don't think I can lug an 8 pound laptop through the airport in my current state. I played with a netbook in Best Buy this afternoon and not only is it super cute (such an important quality for electronics, no?), it is so lightweight. The one I ordered is a hefty three pounds--but that's because the 6 cell battery should last for 7 hours. The 2.25 pound one contains a 3 cell battery that lasts 2 or 3 hours.

Rounding out my spending spree will be the ticket I will buy to see Pete in late April or early May. I have to do my taxes soon to get my refund!

In the meantime, I think I'd rather have the back injury than a kidney stone. My friend Devin has been in pain for 4 days with one, and finally passed the stone this morning. Congrats!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

In progress, please stand by

Thought I'd share some works in progress with you. Wow, isn't "works" a lofty word in this context?

Work 1:
New Look 6828 in progress...

I don't know, for some reason (the pattern directions didn't say to) I thought I could get away with not gathering the sleeve caps before sewing them into the shirt. Ha ha ha ha ha. And I was so sure, I didn't baste them in. Ha ha ha ha ha. At least I only sewed down one sleeve.

Guess who will be spending some serious quality time with her seam ripper?
See the last time I made this shirt it was sleeveless, so I did not have to bear these problems.

Work 2:
It's Amy Butler's Snow Mum Pillow!
I really loved what Peacock Chic did with this pillow pattern and I felt I had to make it.

Though it features a lot of my nemesis interfacing and that heat n' bond stuff, my new good friend piping will be added to the pillow. This is a mainly thoughtless project for now. Iron a lot, cut approx 500 petals and sew. Ha ha! It's also good for using my new rotary cutter and mat. Maybe I need a smaller cutter for these delicate little petals. Some of them are kinda ugly. I need to improve my rotary cutting skills.

So far I've cut out 20 large petals and I've interfaced the front pillow section. On the left are the 20 petals, which I've arranged like a leafy vine for now, just to show you (hmmm...another pillow idea??). The burgundy is just for contrast, so you can see the petals. The right side is the flannel I'm using for the pillow front and back. Don't you just love the pintucked squares? I do!

and those are just the big leaves...
I'm making it 14 x 14 and will for the first time in my life use a pillow form. Those forms are $$$, so that's why I chose the size I did instead of the 18 x 18 Amy recommends. JoAnn's already has enough of my hard earned cash, thanks.

Anyway, I can totally see making a cool pin out of the petals...can't you?
Imagine, a flower pin...
Til next time...