Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hey! Clutch Clutch

I have been a seriously busy sewing machine these days. Not only did I finish up my cardigan, but I also stitched up 8 of these cute clutches. Eight! I followed this tutorial. Why would one person need 8 clutches? Well, they wouldn't. But, if they had eight people to give them to, then there you'll find your answer. They are intended for co-workers, employees, and bro-in-laws' girlfriends.

And actually, I need to make 2 more. I think they're very cute and I think it shows more thought and care than another candle or ornament. I hope they'll like them!

My major beef is this: I used the heaviest weight of fusible web I could find and I really wish they were a bit stiffer. I need to research other stiffening methods besides fusible web before I tackle another round of these. I have some wool that I think would make a really cute winter clutch but I want it to keep its shape better. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Born to Run

This is my second running book in as many weeks. What is wrong with me? I borrowed this from the library some time ago but returned without reading. At that time, I was lukewarm on running. I checked it out again since I've been upping my speed and mileage and am finally starting to feel like I'm an actual runner and not a fraud.

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race The World has Never Seen was written by Christopher McDougall, a journalist and runner in search of the answer to his running pains. On his journey, he discovers an incredible breed of runner, the Ultrarunner. These athletes run back-to-back marathons for their races, up to as much as 100 miles during one race. That's right, without stopping, and usually in very rough terrain and difficult climates. While researching these ultras, he stumbles upon an ancient tribe of runners, the Tarahumara. They live deep in the Mexican jungle and have no interest in modern-day technology.

Following his guide, Caballo Blanco, McDougall begins to transform his running style and attitude. The Tarahumara run everywhere throughout their lives and they do it in low profile, rubber-fashioned sandals as opposed to fancy running shoes. Eventually, McDougall and Caballo plan to hold a 50-mile race bringing together a handful of the best ultrarunners in America and as many Tarahumara that would show up.

I really enjoyed Born to Run. The chapters hop back and forth between the unbelievable path McDougall and Caballo took to make this race happen and other runners' stories and advances made in running shoes that were actually causing a lot of chronic pain issues. This format was sometimes difficult to keep up with. McDougall's research on the problems Nike and other shoe companies have created for runners with their suped up shoes was incredibly enlightening. I am one of those sufferers of foot problems and run with orthotics. Orthotics that McDougall heard from multiple doctors and running specialists were really crap. If you are not a runner, you probably won't get as much out of it as I did. However, McDougall paints amazing characters from all these runners he met along the way that you will likely still get swept up in the story. You just won't find the running research parts as interesting as I did.

Rating: * * * *

Monday, November 28, 2011

Over Achiever

I am nearly finished with my Christmas shopping and it's not even December yet. I think this is a large feather in my savvy shopper's cap. While I love shopping, I have been in the malls on December 23rd and it's not pretty. Granted, I wasn't looking for a gift at that late date but holiday-wear for myself but still, not pretty. I only have a couple more people to finish and I think I can do all of that online.

Do you know what else you can get online? These earrings.

They are the large lotus hoops by Peggy Li and I NEED gold. Charlotte wears them on Private Practice which is where I first discovered them. They are simple hoops but I think they're so unique. It's probably wishful thinking to hope that John is reading this and picking up my not so subtle hint.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #47

Two new recipes this week and neither were made on Thanksgiving. You didn't really think I'd skip my new recipe during the World Series of Eating, did you? Silly rabbit. Surprise! Two more crockpot recipes. I only have a 4 quart crockpot but it's been a workhorse for me. Rarely do I find a recipe that won't fit in its petite size.
Crockpot Turkey Pumpkin White Bean Chili: When I asked John if it was okay to make a turkey and pumpkin chili just days before Thanksgiving, he scoffed. That man LOVES pumpkin. The flavors in this recipe caught my eye. It's crock-ability had me hooked. And as if that wasn't enough, it has under 200 calories per serving. Hot dog! I really enjoyed this recipe but next time I might add even more pumpkin and double the chili powder. Other than that, parfait!
Crockpot Mulled Wine: Mmmm, warm wine. I have discovered my cold weather alternative to sangria. This recipe will elevate your single digit price tag wine to new levels. You can easily cut this batch in half like I did as the full recipe calls for two bottles. One half to test on Friday night, one half to serve to friends on Saturday night. I didn't think making a whole batch for just John and me was a wise choice. This spicy sipper was just what we needed up a chilly evening. A mug of mulled wine, a new episode of Grimm on TV and we're all set. Give this one a try!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, you turkeys! That's what my mom would say. Mark my words, that will come out of her mouth when we Skype today. For the first time in 3 years, we are not celebrating Thanksgiving with my family in Texas or in further back years, in Florida. I'm pretty sad not to be enjoying the mild temps but I have to admit, I didn't miss the airport this year. Sadie didn't either. Girlfriend does not like her traveling crate. I'm also glad to be spending Thanksgiving with our family in northern Ohio, which we don't typically do.

This year, I'm thankful for too many things to list here. My life is grand. I hope yours is too!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Party in my Cardy

I am in love. I want to live in this cardigan forever and have all its cardigan babies. I purchased this fabric from Joann's a couple months ago with no project in mind. Before I even sewed one seam, I went back and bought another yard because I loved it so much. I should have purchased the whole bolt. I had to buy 8 yards of navy polyester for another project in the works and I asked them to leave it on the bolt for me. You have no idea how excited I was to walk out of the store with a nearly full bolt of fabric, and I'm not even keeping the end product of that. I think John is afraid to walk into my sewing room these days. It looks like I'm about to open my own fabric shop. I digress.......

I know, this striped stretch jersey doesn't seem like it would provoke such strong feelings. Maybe you don't know me very well. The only reason I didn't purchase even more yardage of it on yet another return trip to Joann's was because it was on sale (only 30%) so I couldn't use my better coupon. When I bought it the first and second times, I got it for half off and it ended up costing only $6/yard. Seeing that price in print resulted in me kicking myself just now for not buying even more. Gosh, I digress again.......

Sewing with stretch fabric frightened me a bit. I did it before with a dress but I wasn't too pleased with my result. You are supposed to use a ballpoint needle, which I have. But, let me tell you something, ballpoint needles and universal needles look identical. IDENTICAL! I couldn't remember what kind was on my machine and I had a vague memory of possibly putting a universal back in with the ballpoints. Why would I do this? So, I threaded a new needle that I presumed was ballpoint, switched my stitch to a stretch zigzag and set out to sew.

Patternless, I had a concept of what I wanted this cardigan to be and went with it. I was inspired by this post on Elle Apparel. Using a stretch jersey cardigan that I own and love. I cut out a pretty loose pattern with some variations to the cut and length. Cutting into this fabric made me nervous. Going patternless also makes me nervous. Sewing this cardigan was giving me the sweats and I hadn't even put my foot on the pedal. I wanted this to come out beautifully and I did not want to ruin my fabric to an unsalvageable (not a real word) state.

                  Sorry this picture isn't pretty, also yes, the one side needs to be shortened in the front. :|

Luckily, it all turned out fine. I could not love it more! The length is amazing and I made the sleeves extra long. That's the best part. Nothing worse than too short sleeves. I'm going to wear it every single day. And now I'll be on a hunt for a similar fabric in other colors.

Monday, November 21, 2011

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

This year, I promised myself to seek out new-to-me authors. I have failed. Haruki Murakami is a contemporary writer that I've known about for some time but have never read. When I remembered I was supposed to be broadening my literary horizons, I checked this out from the library.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a memoir by Murakami about his life through running. Over a span of 20+ years, he chronicles races he ran, training he endured, and how he survived a marathon (or more) a year for the entire second half of his life. He discusses running in different geographical locations and how his feelings towards running have remained constant throughout his life.

Because this is a memoir, I didn't really get a sense of Murakami's fiction writing abilities but it piqued my interest enough to check out one of his other novels from the library that I'll delve into after my current read (incidentally, also about running). I really enjoyed What I Talk About. As a no longer fledgling runner, I appreciate his agony in training. I love hearing about others' workout regimens and race reports. Does that make me a runner? I guess so. A runner and a reader. However, I think even if you're not a runner, you can appreciate his stories of running and life and all that happens in between.

Rating: * * * 1/2

P.S. I love love love when they make movies out of books I read. Coming out in the next weeks/months, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, We Need to Talk About Kevin, and of course (although not until March) HUNGER GAMES! Cannot wait. I'd like to point out that in my 2009 review of Hunger Games, I said it would make a good movie. I am psychic and Hollywood should hire me. If you haven't watched the trailer yet.....for your viewing pleasure.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #46

I pulled out the crockpot again this week. I am obsessed with my crockpot these days. If I can crock it, it's okay by me.

Crockpot Dijon Pork Chops: Guys, I search high and low online for this recipe and came up empty-handed. It's from the Better Homes & Gardens Crockpot cookbook and they have a recipe with the same title on their site but it's not the same recipe. What gives? I am not a big pork fan. I keep trying with pork chops because I think there's got to be a recipe out there that will make me enjoy this lean cut of meat. These chops were crocked on a bed of scalloped potatoes mixed with cream of mushroom soup, onion, dijon, and some other seasonings. The flavor of the potatoes was great. The chops still came out dry and on leftover night I doused them in BBQ sauce. So, in the end, I guess it's okay that I couldn't find the recipe. It's not really worth making again. are your Thanksgiving menus coming? This year, I don't have to cook. I just have to eat twice. I know. Life is rough.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Things This Week

-I was probably unnecessarily excited when I discovered that my DVR goes up to 4x fast forward now. Those few valuable seconds saved speeding through commercials will certainly add years to my life. Did you know about this DVR Owners? How long have I been wasting my time on 3x fast forward only?

-For the last 28 years, I've been using Q-tips incorrectly. I've been sticking them in my ear canal and rolling between my fingers. Recently, I dragged the q-tip around the inner rim of the canal instead and it was much more productive. When I asked John if that was how he used Q-tips I think he questioned who he had chosen to be his life partner.

-Here's another 'duh' moment from Ashley. Last weekend, John and I went to a winery about 45 minutes away in Hanover Twp. called Hanover Winery. I'm the one that looked up the address AND put it in the GPS. But, it wasn't until we were nearly home after having tasted and purchased our wine that I realized why it was called Hanover Winery. Previously, I thought it was the proprietors' last name. See above, John questions wife choice. It didn't help matters one bit when I had to be told that Summit Mall was named as such because it's in Summit County.

-It's much more difficult to come up with Christmas wishes as you age. Do you agree? I had to try really hard to think of things to ask for. I am lucky that so many people want to buy me gifts but it was quite a task to give them ideas. And don't say 'surprise me.' I loathe when people do that to me so I refuse to do it to them. Maybe if I didn't shop so much throughout the year I would have more needs and wants to be fulfilled.

-And another thing about shopping for Christmas, why is it that when you hit the stores hoping to purchase lots of gifts, there are none for you to buy? How come you find only beautiful Lacoste trench coats that you must buy for yourself because they are 80% off? (Sold out online, sorry. But I got it in tan.) It's not as if I can wear my trench coat Christmas morning and say to my dad, "Oh, I couldn't find anything for you, but isn't this trench a stunner?"

-Where can I start a petition to have Hollywood re-release Newsies to theatres? Sing-along format is preferred. I know I'm not alone in this one. Perhaps for the 20th anniversary next year.

...that's all I got today.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Make It: Seed Stitch Cowl

A couple weeks ago I decided it was time to put a little knitting back in my life. I learned how to knit years ago thanks to my Grandma. She's also the one who taught me how to sew. These skills will last me a lifetime and I'm so grateful to have had a wonderful teacher to impart such wisdom.

While at my Mecca (aka Joann's) I stumbled upon a skein of Lion Brand wool yarn in the clearance bin for a dollar. ONE DOLLAR! It's taupe so it should be pretty versatile and oh yeah, it only cost me a buck. I have lots of scarves but no knit cowls. I was inspired by Luvin' the Mommyhood's cowl knit along. I couldn't get my act together to participate by the deadline but I'm proud of my cowl all the same. Crafting on a schedule isn't my forte. Sometimes I'm feelin' it, sometimes not.

If I do say so myself, I got pretty fancy with this cowl and broadened my knitting horizons. Having never attempted a seed stitch before, I thought this bargain cowl was a good project to give it a shot. For you non-knitters, seed stitch is a knit one, purl one alternating stitch for each row, beginning with the opposite (knit or purl) on each row you start. I thought I would have a lot of trouble trying to figure out which to start with as I'm not a fancy enough knitter to look at a row and know whether I knitted or purled last. I finally figured all that out though and came across a helpful tip, whatever you ended your previous row with, also starts your next row. So, if you ended on a purl, when you turn your knitting over, you start with a purl. Got it? Easy peasy lemon squeezey. I only messed up on 2 rows. I thought that was pretty good for my first seeding.

I didn't use a pattern for this, just cast on 14 stitches and went to town. When my desired length was reached, I stitched the two ends together. If I do this kind of cowl again, I'd probably only cast on 10 or 12 stitches. It could be a bit narrower. What I like most about the seed stitch is that it's tight and doesn't stretch too much (like garter) or curl (like stockinette). I also like the pattern all the little seeds create. I am definitely seeding again in the future.

So, that's my cowl! I can wear it loose, or doubled. I prefer the doubled look. I think it's going to look great with my cream winter coat.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Drama: An Actor's Education

I first heard a review of John Lithgow's memoir, Drama: An Actor's Education, on the radio. Somewhere smart, like NPR. An excerpt was read and I thought, "yeah okay, why not?" I checked it out from the library and got underway.

In Drama, Lithgow chronicles his life from growing up as part of a family that led a relatively nomadic lifestyle moving from city to city to sustain his father's career in the performing arts industry as a theatre festival entrepreneur/theatre program director and more. He spent a number of years in Ohio, which I never knew and was excited to learn. As a child, he didn't necessarily want to be an actor but spent his life growing up onstage, when needed, and backstage while watching his father work as an actor and director.

At Harvard, he studied performing arts and theatre and eventually was even awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study and act in London. Lithgow discusses his sometimes strained relationship with his father, his first marriage that began in his very early 20's while still a student, and the hardships of being an often unemployed actor just hoping to land his next gig.

I really enjoyed this memoir. I knew nothing of Lithgow's career and extensive theatre background. If I had to guess, my first experience of Lithgow's work was probably watching Harry and the Hendersons (classic 80's!) Throughout his writing, he seems like such a nice person with a good work ethic and positive attitude. I caught myself chuckling in many parts of Drama as well. It was an interesting and entertaining read.

Rating: * * * 3/4 (not quite 4)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #45

Another pumpkinny week here in Ohio! Still not sick of the stuff. I also discovered a new to me local coffee shop that had an awesome pumpkin latte. Pays to try new places and support your local establishments!

Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts: I woke up Sunday morning and wanted doughnuts. Luckily, I have a doughnut pan and can make that happen. I had all ingredients on hand for these except the Pumpkin Pie Spice. How did I run out of that without replacing it? I subbed in some other spices and it was just fine. These were moist and tasty. I cut the recipe in half and got 12 mini's and 1 regular sized doughnut. I skipped the chocolate glaze in the interest of calories and because I knew it wasn't necessary. These are a keeper for sure! I cooked them with my laptop on the counter. Guess it's time to print out the recipe for my binder.

Pumpkin Lasagna: I'm auditioning new lasagna recipes. I don't really like the simple one I am currently using. This is from Robert Irvine on the Food Network website. Being a pumpkin lasagna, this will not be my go-to recipe as it's relatively seasonal. However, the pumpkin was not overpowering and worked well with the surprise ingredient, zucchini! My sous chef and I used turkey sausage to cut calories and left out the romano cheese. This pan must have weighed 5 lbs when I put it in the oven. It was very filling and tasty. It's a keeper for sure!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Stolen Life

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard is a memoir about her years in captivity after having been kidnapped at age 11. She was kept from her family and childhood for 18 years. In that time, Jaycee was sexually abused and gave birth to two daughters fathered by her kidnapper, Phillip Garrido. He, along with his wife Nancy, kidnapped Jaycee and hid her in a strange secret backyard in tents and outbuildings.

Phillip had a drug problem and suffered from schizophrenia and other mental issues. He was also out on parole from another sexual crime in his past. A Stolen Life is Jaycee's recollection of her time there astounding. The Garridos were horrible people who created a terrible life for Jaycee giving her a false sense of love, as a child, and forcing her into many things she did not want to do.

A Stolen Life is an incredibly interesting memoir of Dugard's recollection of her life during those years. Though not particularly well-written, considering she had no formal education from 11 years old on, it's pretty impressive. A fast read, well worth your time.

Rating: * * * 1/2

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Butt Bible

Guys. I have found the BEST workout for your posterior region. It's by Pauline Nordin and it's called the Butt Bible. If you have Time Warner, you can find it free on Exercise TV. If you don't have Time Warner Cable, you can purchase the DVD's here for $24.99.

But seriously. There are three levels of both upper and lower workouts. I prefer the lower but have also seen good results with the upper. My butt isn't really a problem area but who wouldn't want a perfectly round tush. Let me tell you, she will kick your butt for sure. Pauline is Swedish and no nonsense. I love it! There's nothing better than the soreness on the 2nd day after a good strength workout. Am I right, or just crazy?

These toning routines coupled with my new running efforts are really starting to pay off, I think. I'm not yet in a smaller pants size (the ultimate goal) but I definitely feel stronger and see more definition. I know the strength training is helping my running pace as well. Quads, hams, and glutes are large muscles that take a long time to tone. I constantly remind myself of that fact but it's hard.

If you're looking for a new strength routine, give this a shot. If you prefer cardio (like I do), you'll still work up a good sweat with this. You try not to sweat during 2 minutes of single leg weighted dead lifts. I dare you!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pumpkin Beer, Part III

Did you think I was done trying any and every pumpkin beer I could get my hands on? I guess you don't know me very well.

Wolaver's Pumpkin Ale: This is an organic beer from Vermont. Unfortunately, we drank them all and I can't find any tasting notes online. Sad. However, this was probably my least favorite of all the beers I tried. The pumpkin flavor was too subtle for me. Pass on this next time.

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale: I liked this one a lot. It was a bit pricier than the others but still worth it. From the bottle: "This 8.0% ABV pumpkin ale is the mother of all pumpkin ales. It is heartier, spicier, and more “caramelly” and “pumpkiny” than its faint brethren! We have added lots of pumpkin along with Cinnamon, Nutmeg and a touch of cardamom and clove giving this beer a spicy, full-bodied flavor. This truly is an Imperial Pumpkin Ale." The higher alcohol content means you should probably only have one lest you do something regrettable.

O'Fallon Pumpkin Beer: I saved the very best for last. This was my absolute favorite out of all of them I've tried this year. It was the best pumpkin taste hands down. From the bottle: "We added 136 pounds of real pumpkin to the three-barley mash and then season the finished beer with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves." I found this at Kroger, of all places. I discovered O'Fallon earlier this year with their summer wheat and I loved it. They have a Chocolate Cherry beer coming out soon that I also can't wait to try. But for now, this pumpkin beer is the Grand Champion!

Stay tuned for all those delicious, stomach-warming winter beers to come!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #44

This week I'm crockin' it up again. When the temperatures drop lower and lower there's only one thing to do, turn on the crock pot!

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff: Beef stroganoff is not my favorite meal. It's even in my top 10 favorite meals but I came across this recipe in my Betty Crocker Crockpot Cookbook (say that 5 times fast) and it sounded good. John is a fan so we gave it a shot. Crockin' on Sunday is my new favorite thing to do because the meals usually yield 3 dinners for us. I totally goofed when putting this together. The sour cream isn't supposed to be stirred in until after it's cooked 8 hours, along with the cream cheese. I wasn't paying attention and poured the sour cream in with the soups and seasonings at the beginning. I realized my mistake about 2 minutes later and was beside myself. It turned out okay in the end, luckily. Also, it calls for condensed Cream of Onion soup. Supposedly, Campbell's makes this but I couldn't find it in 3 stores. I used an onion soup packet and a little milkas a substitute. This one is a keeper for sure!

P.S. Only 8 more weeks of new recipes to try! I can't believe I almost made it to the end of 2011.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hola Mexico!

For 4 nights in October, John and I vacationed at the Valentin Imperial Maya in Riviera Maya, Mexico (near Cancun). This was our first experience at an all-inclusive resort. After months of research and careful consideration, we selected the Valentin based on glowing reviews, cost, and the fact that it was adults only. I am obsessed with Trip Advisor. I don't book anything without checking it out on there first. I realize that you have to take the bad reviews with a grain of salt. Some of them knock perfectly good establishments for the littlest things. You'll quickly learn to ignore those reviews and focus on the better ones.

We arrived during a monsoon. A tropical system had settled over the Yucatan Peninsula a few days prior and though we contemplated cashing in the trip insurance and rescheduling, we went anyway and landed on, luckily, the last day of bad rain.

I got a little wet in the golf cart on the way to the room.

Upon check-in, we learned we were upgraded from a Deluxe Silver Suite to a Golden Swim-up room. Score!

This is the off-season for travel to Mexico so the resort was not at full capacity. I'm sure that's why we were upgraded. The room was spacious and as promised, had a pool right off the patio. The only rough part about being on the ground floor was the accessibility for bugs and other creepy crawlies (like geckos) who made their way into our room without invitation. The room had a stocked mini bar (also included), jetted tub, bidet (fancy!), and a separate seating area.

The resort boasts 11 restaurants including a breakfast and lunch buffet. The food was awesome, at times, and not so awesome at other times. We are pretty easy to please in the dining room but some of the dishes had no taste whatsoever. We found this incredibly odd. The guacamole, for instance, had zero taste. The best meal we had was at the French restaurant, L'Alsace. I was adventurous and ordered Chateau Briand. Delicieuse!

In the evening there was entertainment of the cheesy variety. The lip syncing was not so great, but the dancing was top notch. There was also a band in the main plaza that was very good. We sat and listened to them most nights. We also found the sports bar a great place to hang out at night. They had a variety of games on TV, you could always find a seat at the bar, and there were board games! We are board game people so this was very exciting.

During the day, when we had hoped to be soaking up the rays, clouds rolled in. Had it been a bit warmer, we could have enjoyed a large main pool with two swim up bars (plus very cold water) or of course, our own private pool. Finding a lounge chair was no problem but we tended to get there relatively early each day. We preferred the beach and its abundant palapas over the pool. The atmosphere was more relaxed and the ocean water was a touch warmer and much more pleasant. The cloudy skies, plus my 50 SPF, probably saved me from getting sunburned. But, they also prevented me from getting any color whatsoever.

There were many activities included for guests to partake in such as kayaking (which we did), bike riding (which we also did), zumba and fitness classes (that I could never get my act together to attend), Spanish lessons (conflicted with other activities) and more! We didn't plan any excursions but they were readily available as was a daily shuttle to Playa del Carmen, for those hoping to sample the local cuisine and shop!

The service could not have been better. All of the employees went out of their way to help you with a big smile. That was much appreciated. We tipped but never felt pressured to do so and felt badly when we didn't. They did just bring you a drink while you laid on your butt, right?

Sunrise on our last day

As a whole, we really enjoyed our first all-inclusive experience. I would return to the Valentin but probably not before trying some others just to compare. We still love cruising but the resort gives you a lot of bang for your buck! And, it was very nice not having a large bill upon check-out like you typically do on a cruise. Just turn in your keys and head back to reality!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

No-Sew Jersey Vest

I bought this burn-out tonal zebra fabric a couple months ago with not much of an idea of its end result. It was $4.?? for just under a yard because I got the remnant price. Then I watched this YouTube video and decided to give it a try. She calls it a sleeveless cardigan but really, isn't that just a vest? Anyway, GiannyL has tons of video tutorials. I can't wait to try more of them. You can try them too even if you don't have a sewing machine. This one just requires scissors!

I laid out my slightly under a yard of fabric folded in half.

I measured my back, shoulder to shoulder (just under 16"). Then I marked 8 inches down and 8 inches over to see where I would cut the arm holes. Borrowing the lid to my cotton ball jar, I sliced around it with my rotary cutter (love that thing!)

You need a round object with at least 4 inches of diameter, I'd say. The arm holes will stretch out a bit, depending on your fabric.

And that's it! You don't need to finish the edges because stretch jersey won't unravel. I put it on over a black shirt and skinny jeans, that I'm unfortunately not looking so skinny in these days. :(

From the back

And with a belt

I put on the vest and John gave me the side eye. Admittedly, it did come down to my knees. "Do I look crazy?" I said. He didn't want to crush my dreams, I could tell, but he was having a lot of trouble coming up with something nice to say. I ended up folding it back in half and cutting about six inches off the ends to shorten it up.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. I feel like it makes me look hippy. That's hippy as in "large hipped." According to the stores, the 70's are back. But, I can't help but remember a vest phase I already went through some time in the mid-90's. Yes, I was super cool. Though this is an updated, deconstructed vest, I'm having visions of a white waffleknit number I used to wear over a black turtleneck. I wore it to a 6th grade dance with earrings that looked like globes. I thought that was the most fashionable thing I had ever worn at the time.

The other day I told John I want to take more fashion risks. He looked frightened. I have a feeling he thinks his wife has gone off the deep end.

So, what do you think? Belted, unbelted, back in the scrap pile to be made into something else? You won't hurt my feelings, promise.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Smokin' Seventeen

This is the latest offering from Janet Evanovich in her Stephanie Plum mystery series. I waited on the hold list for MONTHS at the library for this one. So long, in fact, that her 18th both comes out in November. Guess I better put in my request for that one now.

Stephanie Plum is once again the target of a bad guy. Someone is leaving dead bodies, some even labeled for her, on the bail bonds office construction site. Also, an angry mobster and a former bondee would both like to see her six feet under and are trying their darnedest to put her their. On the relationship side of thing, Stephanie is having trouble choosing between Morelli and Ranger (What else is new?) and her mother keeps trying to set her up with a new guy who quickly becomes relentless. What is Plum to do?

This was just so-so for me. These books are pretty fluffy for the first half and then in the second half I get more into trying to figure out whodunnit. In this one, I figured it out really early on (which never happens) and so I kept hoping I would be proved wrong but it didn't happen. Evanovich has quite a formula for this series and they are all extremely similar, right down to phrasing and character descriptions. It only took me a couple hours to get through so I'm glad I read it but if I have to wait months for the next book, it wouldn't be the worst thing.

Rating: * 1/2

P.S. November 1st?! How did this happen?