Monday, November 18, 2013

Travelog: New England Aquarium

I was in Boston a week ago. I got to check some things off my "to do" list like go to the New England Aquarium and I discovered some new and cool places to eat/drink in Boston and Salem. Otherwise, it was a chill weekend. I binge-watched the first season of Banshee (Cinemax) - 10 episodes - with my friends in Salem, and that was enjoyable. 

New England AquariumThe New England Aquarium is quite a bit larger than the one at the Pittsburgh Zoo. They have a very large penguin pool, segregated into three different types of penguins: African, rockhoppers, and little blue penguins. They are all so adorable. 

They have several different kinds of sea turtles, and they do sea turtle rescue.

The neat thing about the big ocean tank - it is several stories tall and surrounded by a winding ramp. The tank is open at the top and there are a couple of big projection screens where they do an interactive Q&A with the audience and human divers in the tank. That was very interesting. I learned that predators are lazy. They keep all the predators in the big ocean tank very well-fed, so the predators don't go after the prey animals. 

No sharks. I am told that they had sharks in the big tank, but I didn't see any while I was there. 

I also got to pet the rays in the touch tank. They were so soft and smooth!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

Monday, September 09, 2013

Please help: Donations needed for sick rescue puppy

I am posting this on behalf of a dear friend of mine who is foster-caring for a very sick puppy, and they are facing a very high vet bill as a result. The dog has every chance of getting through this illness, and then finding his "forever" home. I would like to see that happen, so I'm asking that you read this story and consider making a donation, however small, because every little bit helps. Thanks!

"Max" is an adorable Corgi-Shepard mix
Poor Max at the vet: they sewed an oxygen tube to his snout!
 Read Max's story:
"As many of you may know, one of my volunteer activities is with an animal rescue group called Animals Against The Odds. The organization was started by a then 10-year old girl (she's 13 now) who wanted to make a difference in the lives of shelter animals, but wasn't permitted to work with any of the local groups due to her age (you must be 18). She and several friends started their own rescue group, and have helped hundreds of animals in the 2.5 years they've been in existence. One example of the types of projects they work on is the Annual Winter Warm-UP: every winter they provide straw, insulated dog houses and cat houses as well as other supplies to animals left out in the cold.

Recently we had a puppy come in to foster (and that Mike and I are fostering) who became very ill. He was fine, then all of a sudden he was deathly ill with pneumonia, a temperature of 104.3 and needed to be rushed to the emergency vet hospital, put on oxygen, antibiotics and fluids. The estimate the vet hospital gave us was a minimum of $2700 (see attached). He's doing a bit better today, but I am helping to fundraise and cover the cost of this bill. To that end, if you can help us at all, it would be GREATLY appreciated. You can call donations in directly to PVSEC (the emergency vet hospital) at 412-366-3400 and ask that they put a credit on our (AATO) account or you can give via our You Caring fundraiser link below. If you would prefer to mail a check, that information is below as well. If you could also forward this on to any of your animal loving friends, we'd really appreciate it. These kids make a heck of a difference in the lives of so many animals, I love supporting them.

Thanks !


For Checks:

Make payable to Animals Against the Odds
PO Box 97890
Pittsburgh, PA 15227

Donating Online (You Caring)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Some memorable garb moments from Pennsic 42

Standing in front of Shauna's medieval mobile home.
An old Italian Ren dress - still a favorite and so easy to wear.
Turkish coats
Turkish garb
2013-07-30 20.40.41
Elizabethan cross-dressing
2013-07-26 21.07.20
Here's that lovely long-sleeved Turkish Kaftan
2013-07-26 22.11.56
Spotted at Vlad's "Drag Races" - this gown was impressive.
2013-07-26 21.05.21
Once again, I had a wonderfully relaxing and fun Pennsic, because my camp is awesome. I took some photos and videos to try and capture the beauty I see at Pennsic and some of the experiences that I would have difficulty describing otherwise. 

Here's my flickr set -

And, here's a playlist of videos on Youtube -

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Another Turkish coat

The Pennsic sewing continues. I'll just keep making stuff until time runs out. And my stash is far from running out. Husband doesn't have that much garb and he requested more ottoman Turkish stuff.

This is another men's kaftan, with too-long sleeves that can be worn scrunched up, or just hanging back without putting your arms into them. Once again, I used the pattern from

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Westmoreland Arts Fest 2013

Shane Speal - cigar-box guitar maker/playerIt was a beautiful day at the Twin LakesCeltic band Seven NationsCeltic Band Seven NationsFire-brick oven pizzaMobile pizza oven
Creepy planterParrotColorful birdsPetting zoo turkeySearch and rescue dachshundSearch and rescue dachshund
llamasllamasClassic carClassic carClassic car

Westmoreland Arts Fest 2013, a set on Flickr.

Poof! You're an Afghani nomad dress

Most of the time spent was sewing the trim and buttons on, otherwise this was an easy pattern to use and clever way to use some stuff from my stash that I sat on for a long time.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Next Project: Afghani Nomad Dress

I sat on this Folkwear Pattern for a long time. The fabrics I chose are mostly silk dupioni - some big pieces left over from making Japanese garb, but not enough to do more, so this pattern works out nicely. I'm also recycling mustard yellow linen tunic that has holes in it (I'll work around the holes). There's a piece of fancy Calontir trim there, and I'm still trying to scrounge up more. The rickrack and buttons are from an old thrift shop sewing box. All this stuff was in my stash.

I'm going to start with the pieces that will get embellished - the bodice and sleeves. The Afghanis tend to use buttons more often than shisha mirrors, so I'm covered there. I just don't do embroidery, so I'll have to improvise. I might do something creative with the rickrack.

Getting ready for Pennsic: medieval fashion accessories

I made this hood last year, based on the pattern in The Tudor Tailor book, to go with an early Tudor gown, and I just got it out to tweak it a bit before Pennsic. There are several layers, precariously pinned together.
I also got out the curling iron to reshape my Elizabethan ruff. It was very droopy, but a little starch and it's springy again.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Kannik's 1812 Waistcoat in the field!

Thanks to my friend, John, here you can see the finished Waistcoat in all its glory! I really like how this one turned out. Taken at Gennessee Country Museum this past weekend. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ottoman Turk coat is done!

Made this coat for my man for Pennsic. Very pleased with the fit. I did use the pattern from Reconstructing History.

This is basically the look I was going for, except less fancy:

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Books: Shape Shape, and Drape Drape

Had my eye on both of these books for a while now, and they both have sequels out already, but I finally picked up the first volumes of each series.

My main complaint about a lot of modern sewing books is that there are too many of them at the beginner level, or they are focused on quick and easy projects. A lot of them have a big introductory section on basic sewing techniques. I don't need that. I like learning new techniques, and I like projects with a bit of a challenge. Both Shape Shape, and Drape Drape present me with what I'm looking for.

Shape Shape

Lots of simple and elegant, but unique ideas here. A lot of these projects do look quick or easy, but they are very different shapes from what you usually see out there. A lot of styles can be worn in multiple ways, like "origami" for clothing. A lot of the styles look ideal for using beautiful, plain fabrics, or showing off an elegant print.

Drape Drape

I'm in love with many of these looks, and I'm fascinated with the draping techniques that are illustrated here. It looks a bit challenging, but this is exactly what I've been looking for. Of course, most of the patterns call for drapey fabrics, such as knits. I'm cool with this too. There are many looks here that I want to make for myself.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Kannik's 1812 waistcoat: progress report

The fronts are just about done. The pocket, lining, and buttonholes are in. After doing the pocket and lining all by hand, I resorted to machine sewing the buttonholes. I tried handsewing one, and it just looked hideous.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Kannik 1812 waistcoat

Can't this is a quickie post on what I'm working on. It's a Kannik's waistcoat, for my 1812 reenactor friend. So far I cut the pieces out, basted the interfacing and stay tape to the fronts, and started on the welt pockets - all by hand.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book: BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern

I have fallen behind in posting book reviews here, because I picked this one up shortly after it came out. If you got the first BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook, this is a good follow-on to that. It has more basic patterns with instructions for variations, and even includes a pattern for a mens shirt (in addition to several iconic dress silhouettes, blouses, and pants).

Meanwhile, I made two blouses from the blouse pattern in the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook, like so:

I wore this one this week as part of my work-travel wardrobe. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A story about art, obsession, and crazy

I worked a 9-5 type of job in downtown Pittsburgh for several years, early 1990s until about 2007. As I was commuting to and from my work and walking the city streets, I noticed an unusual plaque that was embedded in the middle of the street. I saw it everyday, walked over it, and wondered what it was and what it meant, but didn't think about it too much until many years later, when I saw it again -  in St. Louis. Now it really had me thinking, so I snapped a photo of it and uploaded it to the interwebs for all to see. One of my internet acquaintances recognized it and gave it a name - Toynbee tile. Mystery solved, well sort of. I just stumbled on this documentary - Resurrect Dead - which searches for the identity of the mysterious "tiler," and they do narrow it down, spoilers here. It was just a provocative story, and I feel in some small way like a firsthand witness to it.

There were hundreds of these Toynbee tiles in major cities all over the Northeast, and amazingly, in South America. However, many of them are paved over, and some have even been stolen - as in cut right out from the street - because they now have a perceived value as art. There is no effort to protect or preserve them. In Chicago, they were routinely removed like any other graffitti. So the tiles are disappearing and soon will be gone forever. There is a lesson in impermanence here. Otherwise, one might say that it was a brilliant PR campaign.

Addendum: Found the photos I took of the ones I saw in St. Louis, which aren't there anymore (I don't think).

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