Black Pants

I thought I would get back into posts with a simple update; I made another pair of pants for Lloyd. These pants came about from a series of mistakes. A couple of years ago, I bought some black fabric to replace the top of a dress. When the fabric came, it was way too stiff to use for the dress so I put it in my fabric stash and forgot about it. Later, I bought some black fabric to make pants for Lloyd but, since he didn’t need any new pants at the time, I just put the fabric away until needed.

Fast forward to earlier this year when it came time to make the pants. I pulled out all of the black fabric I had and none of it seemed suitable for pants. Except for the fabric I’d originally bought for my dress. So I used that. Happily, the pants turned out really well and seem to be pretty durable. However, there may be more pants fabric floating around the house somewhere that I haven’t found yet! Also in black…

The finished pants!

The finished pants!

These seemed huge when I was working on them given the scale of my previous pants project.

These seemed huge when I was working on them given the scale of my previous pants project.

Froyo (You can take the transplant out of California but not the California out of the transplant.)

Alternative title is “or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cali.” We received a mixer as a present when we got back into the country a couple of years ago and, while Jasmine has been using it for some time for baking, I decided to get in on the act. And what better way than with ice cream! After some experimenting, I found this recipe works the best both for my taste and the ice cream maker as the yogurt adds tang but there is still enough cream to get good mouthfeel and creaminess.

-2 cups heavy cream

-2 cups whole milk yogurt (PLAIN)

-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

-1/2 cup of sugar

-1/4 to 1 cup of chopped up fruit (strawberries or cherries are my favorites).

Mix 1/4 cup of sugar with the fruit and let macerate for 2+ hours. Mix all other ingredients and put aside in refrigerator. Mix the fruit mixture with the cream and immediately add to the ice cream maker. Wait for it to get firm, plus and additional 5 minutes because you are probably wrong and it will get more firm. Enjoy! It lasts about 3 days in the freezer before it gets hard so you’ll have to eat it sooner than that – for shame.

The mixer in all of its churning glory.

The mixer in all of its churning glory.

MMmmm, frozen yogurt.

MMmmm, frozen yogurt.

PAX West

After being overtaken by events during the past couple of weeks, we are back into the blogging and going to try to catch up on the missed posts. First up from the way back machine of about two weeks ago:

Neither Jasmine nor I had ever gone to a convention before so we decided to change that up and bought tickets to the PAX West in Seattle. For those of you not in the know, PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) is a large (~80k people) Video and Board game exposition where you can check out all the new games and meet the creators and others who like the same games. As we are both fans of gaming, we thought we should at least check it out.

As it turns out, Jasmine wasn’t able to make it but, one ferry ride later,I went and checked it out. As it turns out, very large conventions are not my jam. It was, as would be expected, full of really cool games, and everyone I interacted with was nice and happy to be there, but the operative words are “full of”. With that amount of people in that small of a space, I don’t think I could really enjoy myself. So, overall, I would say worth trying, but not for me.

This is was the entire convention center looked like, more or less.

This is was the entire convention center looked like, more or less.

Some of the presenter had sweet dioramas!

Some of the presenters had sweet dioramas!

The best part of the day, coffee and donuts at a a punny place (Porpoises)

The best part of the day, coffee and donuts at a pun place (General Porpoises).

Victoria Gardens

Apparently we have been busy in the last week, but see the exciting conclusion of our Victoria wanderings below!

One of the aspects of wandering around Victoria that Jasmine and I like the most is all of the various gardens that are open for the public to wander through. This time, the big ticket find was Government House, the residence for the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. The grounds are full of a surprisingly large number of sub-gardens with multiple rose gardens, a wilderness area, and an obligatory herb garden. It was a very pleasant place to wander around for an hour or so in the morning.

One day we will run out of things to find in Victoria, but not this visit.

A water feature is key for Pacific Northwest gardens.

A water feature is key for Pacific Northwest gardens.

The rose garden.

The rose garden.

Manicured English garden

Manicured English garden.

Lavender everywhere in the herb garden! It is almost a weed around here.

Lavender everywhere in the herb garden! It is almost a weed around here.

There was a heraldry exhibit apparently? I took a picture of the cutest coat of arms.

There was a heraldry exhibit apparently? I took a picture of the cutest coat of arms.

Victoria Wanderings

We took a long weekend and went up to Victoria. Having been there and blogged about it before, we spent most of our time wandering around the city, checking out the gardens, and having some coffee and nice food. We did things a little differently this time and stayed at a bed and breakfast – which unfortunately stopped doing breakfast.

We had a great time. I think that there is a bit more of the city to explore so we will be going up there again.

Getting some coffee at our favorite so far in Victoria, Hey Happy.

Getting some coffee at our favorite cafe so far in Victoria: Hey Happy.

They have pianos distributed all over Victoria. I like to think the seals enjoy it.

They have pianos distributed all over Victoria. I like to think the seals enjoy it.

Oak Bay is a pleasant place to sit around.

Oak Bay is a pleasant place to sit around.

Art!

Art!

Victoria may need more real wolves instead of steel wolves.

Victoria may need more real wolves instead of steel wolves.

Stretch Silk Dress

My brother recently got married and, as I have made my own dress for family weddings, it was time to make another dress. I knew I wanted to make the dress out of stretch silk, but wasn’t sure what color I wanted. I probably ordered too many swatches to look at, but ended up settling on a nice lilac color in the end.

The dress was based on my favorite go-to jersey dress that I bought a few years ago so I had to draft a pattern before I began. This necessitated making a couple of mock-ups to make sure I got it right. Once I was happy with the mock-ups, I started working on it in the actual stretch silk.

As I was laying out the dress on the silk, I realized one thing I would have to add: a zipper. There was no way the fabric was going to stretch enough to pull over my head. I immediately added a seam down the back of the dress and started looking at zippers, finally settling on a closely color matched invisible zipper. Unfortunately, I’d never installed an invisible zipper that I was happy with before. A couple of Google searches and several websites later, I felt slightly more confident about it – and then proceeded to put it off as long as possible. In the end, however, I was very happy with the result.

The invisible zipper as installed. Not quite invisible, but nicely done.

The invisible zipper as installed. Not quite invisible, but nicely done.

In the end, I was very happy with the way the dress turned out; I think I may have a new favorite material to work with! After wearing this dress all day, it was still comfortable and breathable despite the humidity of summer on the east coast. I would definitely make a dress like this again.

I even put some nice pleats in front.

I even put some nice pleats in front.

The dress definitely had nice movement. Silk is great for that!

The dress definitely had nice movement. Silk is great for that!

New York City Waterways

On the second half of the trip, we decided to do some things that were new to us and explore the various water options available. Stop one was Rockaway Beach out in Queens, which we were told was one of the few beaches accessible by public transit. We took the “A” train and headed on out for a pleasant day at the beach. The water was, to our West Coast feelings, very warm even though it was only June. The beach is a very weird thing for the two of us as we are so used to short days with foggy, rocky beaches and cold, wavy water that the warm, calm water, sandy beaches, and 100% sun was pleasant but felt weird.

When we got back to Manhattan, we proceeded to spend a day taking ferries up and down the East River and hanging out in Brooklyn for a while as well. I think that a combo of walking and ferry transit with some good food, cafe stops, and great views is my perfect vacation, so I give the East River ferry an A+ and the same grade to NYC Ferries for graphic design.

The beach was pretty empty until noonish.

The beach was pretty empty until noonish.

Chilling between dipping in. The waves were just large enough to body surf, so that is what I spent a solid 3 hours doing.

Chilling between dipping in. The waves were just large enough to body surf, so that is what I spent a solid 3 hours doing.

Double bridge!

Double bridge!

A bit of a funhouse maze area on the Brooklyn Bridge Park was a cute change of pace.

A bit of a fun-house maze area on the Brooklyn Bridge Park was a cute change of pace.

This is cover of our upcoming LP "Futures"

This is cover of our upcoming LP “Futures”.

New York, New York

Is everything they say, and no place that I’d rather be. Where else can you do a half a million things all at a quarter to three. In somewhat recent news, Jasmine and I were in New York for a family wedding and it is about time it showed up on the blog. The wedding was fun and went off with only a single hitch so you, gentle reader, get to hear about about the rest of the trip.

We got a hotel in FiDi so, in the standard Lloyd and Jasmine fashion, we proceeded to walk every block of lower and midtown Manhattan from Battery Park through Central Park. Two major complaints: first where do you keep your chill cafes? That, more than anything else, we missed from the West Coast. And second, our favorite park during the last visit was the Highline, but holy crap is it a tourist mecca now! We could barely find standing room much less enjoy the park.

Now onto the good things – like ICE CREAM!!! Our favorite was Van Leeuwen’s, but there were so many awesome options. I think Seattle has something to learn here. Food was also consistently good; it is one of those things you forget occasionally when you don’t live in a major city, but city restaurants are miles better than rural ones on average. This is one of the reasons we are keen on the move from Renton to W. Seattle.

Finally, we spent a lot of time walking the paths and parks on both the East River and the Hudson. These are both much nicer than I remember from last time I was in New York and quite pleasant to walk on. Whereas three years ago I said don’t miss out on the Highline, I would revise that to walk the Hudson from Battery to Pier 51 on the Greenway.

Goodbye West Seattle.

Goodbye West Seattle.

Hello East River.

Hello East River.

This is a rooftop park in the Financial District, I love the concept of public rooftop parks in cities.

This is a rooftop park in the Financial District. I love the concept of public rooftop parks in cities.

And the Hudson in the morning. It was very picturesque with just the right lighting.

And the Hudson in the morning. It was very picturesque with just the right lighting.

Some yatching in central park.

Some yachting in Central Park.

Hobie Cat Lift (Guest Post)

Lloyd’s dad is back with another guest post.

Alice and I live in NC on Lake Auman in the Sandhills region. We have beautiful sand bottom lakes in the area are fortunate to live on one. One of our favorite pastimes is sailing on our Hobie Cat when the wind is up.

All the lakes are man-made so they are bulkheaded to keep them in their boundaries. We kept the Hobie on land to save the wear and tear on the rigging as the lake gets a good deal of chop. We had a serviceable solution with a crank belt connected to a pine tree. This required me to lift the lip above the bulkhead and then for Alice to crank as I lifted and pulled the boat up. Not too bad; the lift was about two feet and the total boat weight is about 250 lbs. The biggest problem was that it was awkward lifting and getting up the bulkhead at the same time.

I was going to make a crack pun but that would make jasmine winch.

I was going to make a crank pun but that would make Jasmine winch.

They lowered the lake to do some dam maintenance, giving me a higher lift and I am not getting any younger. It was time for a different solution. This winter, when we were in Seattle visiting Jasmine and Lloyd, I talked about getting a block and tackle with two steel pipes and lifting with those. We have twin docks and I could run it between them. Lloyd suggested cargo straps instead; he felt it would give a better hold and be easier to build [ed. also straps don’t rust].

I found a cheaper solution to the block and tackle in a modified carabiner with a locking friction clamp addition. I figured at 250 lbs, I could just muscle it up. My first try was a fail. I got 12’ strapping and, with the stretch, it was too long and I could not get enough lift. I reordered 10’ strapping and we were off to the races, totally out of the water.

High and dry dock.

High and dry dock.

I added a cleat to each rope so that, even if there was a failure of the locking carabiner, it would still hold somewhat.

Strapped in without a hitch.

Strapped in without a hitch.

You still need to muscle up each side, but it is not nearly as awkward. Plus, I could take out and put the boat away by myself. No real wind yet, but a couple of boats passed close and no wobble at all.

Hat Trimming

Lloyd and I had several conversations about hats this past week. It got me thinking about the hat I modified last year to have a removable band. The idea was to be able to change out the band to make it match multiple outfits or just give it a different look. Then the weather got cold and I got distracted and never made any additional bands.

But now that it’s hat season again, I pulled out my nice straw cloche and dug through my fabric bins to find something fun.

The starting materials. I used this fabric for a skirt a couple of years ago and really like it.

The starting materials. I used this fabric for a skirt a couple of years ago and really like it.

I wanted to keep things simple so I sewed a fabric tube with a single angled side and pinned it together. I’m very happy with the result and looking forward to wearing it soon!

The finished hat. I think Grandma's pin makes this look a lot more finished.

The finished hat. I think Grandma’s pin makes this look a lot more finished.