Monthly Archives: August 2013

Qinceanera Dos

I turned 30 this year and we decided to celebrate by having a Quinceanera Dos party. I have been a fan for several years of the big quinceanera dresses in California so we decided that 30 (15 times 2) was the right time to have a party where I could wear one. Of course, I wanted to make the dress myself so Lloyd and I went to the fabric store and bought the most fabric I have ever bought for a single project. We bought 5 yards of black tulle, 4 yards of red tulle, a yard of red silk, 5 yards of black satin, and half a yard of red lining. Then Lloyd had to go back and get another 5 yards of black tulle. Lots of fabric. We also bought a red invisible zipper (16 inches), a yard of black and red belt material, and a sparkly belt clasp.

Again, I stared with a pattern already in existence and modified it for what I wanted. I started with this pattern, which I’m not sure that they make anymore, and modified the pattern for dress B. The first step was to cut out the many layers of tulle in four different lengths. The bottom layer was black and went all the way from my waist to the floor, about 29 inches for me. The next layer was red and since the pattern hit where I wanted, about mid-calf, I just used the pattern for this layer. Then I cut the second black layer to about knee level. Finally, I cut the second red layer to about miniskirt length.

uring tape was very handy.

A measuring tape was very handy.

Then I cut out the underskirt and the bodice from the satin. I cut the bodice from the red silk and lining as well. The bodice didn’t fit particularly well, so I resized it using my dress form first to get close to the correct size and then on myself. Then I sewed the silk to the satin and sewed the bodice together. Before I added in the lining, I added straps since I don’t entirely trust strapless dresses. Once the bodice was sewn together, I pinned in the zipper and attached the underskirt so I could size that as well. With a little pleating, the underskirt fit nicely.

This reminded me of a prom dress I wanted in high school.

This reminded me of a prom dress I wanted in high school.

At this stage, the dress really looked like a prom dress, but I wanted some volume in the skirt. A fun few hours of gathering the tulle ensued. I sewed each layer of tulle to the underskirt individually, the longer layers first.

Slightly more interesting skirt.

Slightly more interesting skirt.

I like the contrast.

I like the contrast.

Starting to see color effects!

Starting to see color effects!

All the layers are in place.

All the layers are in place.

After the skirt was assembled, I installed the zipper and hemmed the bottom two layers to the correct length so that I could walk without tripping over the skirt. I liked the finished product even though I feel it came out a little more “Old West” than “quinceanera”.

The final dress. Taken in the front yard, of course.

The final dress. Taken in the front yard, of course.

Lloyd dressed up too.

Lloyd dressed up too.

Note: I was given a tiara at the party later that night.

 

Cake!

I am no baker; in fact, the only thing I have baked on any sort of regular basis is pizza and bagels. However, for the past couple of years I have baked Jasmine a cake for her birthday and this year is no different.

Mmm... cake

Mmm… cake

The cake was a simple chocolate cake out of Betty Crocker and the topping was a raspberry topping I just made up with 4 parts raspberry, 2 parts sugar, and 1 part melted butter.  The main exciting thing about the cake was that it called for shortening (being a cook book originally from the 50’s) so I decided to use some clarified pork fat, i.e. lard, as the only fat in the cake.  And I have to say it was a success and tasted rather tasty and cake like.  Jasmine liked it as well but as chocolate and raspberry are two of her favorites it would be rather hard to go wrong.

 

Bay Trail (Baylands to Dumbarton)

A few weekends ago Jasmine and I went hiking on the Bay Trail, and I thought I would share some pictures.  But first you ask, “What is the Bay Trail?” Basically, it is a series of not connected trails that go around the San Francisco Bay.  We have hiked all of the trail through the city of San Francisco, though most of it was not hiking but rather walking though quasi-abandoned industrial areas in the southeast of the city.

The section that we hiked between the Sunnyvale Baylands park on the south tip of the bay and the Dumbarton bridge was rather pleasant.  For the most part, it seemed to be well used by joggers and bicyclists but any section farther than one mile from a parking lot was pretty abandoned.  The only sad part was that the trail section we were on ended abruptly just south of the bridge and we had to walk though a construction zone and past a very confused security guard to make it back to the Palo Alto Caltrain station and home safe.  Over all, it was a very fun, if tiring 24 mile hike.

Its a GIF!

Animated GIF of every 5 minutes of the hike looking forward. (You may have to click to animate.)

Squadron of Pelicans

Squadron of Pelicans

Sunnyvale only partially believes in sidewalks

Sunnyvale only partially believes in sidewalks

I had to talk a picture of this sign

I had to talk a picture of this sign

There were lots of birds on the hike

There were lots of birds on the hike

Ravenswood Open Space was pretty industrial

Ravenswood Open Space was pretty industrial

The trail goes by a small airport which is cool

The trail goes by a small airport which is cool

NASA Ames is right next to the trail

NASA Ames is right next to the trail

Most of the hike looked like this

Most of the hike looked like this

Some of the trail was swampy

Some of the trail was swampy

And some of it was grassy

And some of it was grassy

 

 

 

 

Hobbit Vest

After spending many hours working on computers with hobbit backgrounds (lab computers – long story), I decided to make a hobbit vest for my brother’s birthday. One of the pictures had this really interesting vest that appeared to be quilted and I really liked the idea.

I like this vest.

I like this vest.

So, in keeping with my design process, I came up with a color scheme first: I wanted forest green color for the vest and a neutral color for the lining. Then I planned out a shape for the vest and a quilting pattern and went shopping.

As it turns out, the quilting store by me does not sell lining fabric, possibly because it specializes in quilting, so I ended up buying the same cotton fabric for the outside as for the lining. I chose a charcoal gray color for the lining because I liked the way it looked with the green. I wanted wooden buttons for the vest in keeping with its hobbity nature and am very excited about what I found.

You can tell it's hobbity because of its floral nature.

You can tell it’s hobbity because of its floral pattern.

I used a men’s button down shirt pattern for the base of this shirt and then cut it down to a fitted vest. The pattern I used was this one, which I’ve used for many button down shirts for Lloyd in the past. I cut the green about 2 inches longer than I cut the gray so that I could fold over the bottom for a hem. Then I cut pieces of quilting batting slightly smaller than the gray pieces to fit inside the vest.

Once everything was cut out, I sewed together the green vest, connecting the shoulders and side seams. Then I sewed together the gray lining, connecting its shoulders and side seams. These were identical except for the extra two inches of length in the green vest. Next, I sewed the outer edges of the two vests together, right sides in, leaving the bottom and arm holes open. Then I turned the vest the right side out and fit the back piece of batting into the vest. I trimmed the edges of the batting so that it fit between the side seams and did not bunch up anywhere. Once I had it placed where I wanted, I pinned it in place using a couple dozen pins. You probably don’t need that many, but I’m just getting the hang of quilting and am a bit nervous about the batting slipping. I then fit the front batting pieces the same way, trimming and pinning when I was done. Once the jacket was assembled, I sewed the arm hole seams shut and folded over the extra green fabric and sewed it in place to make a hem.

Then I began the long, long process of sewing in the quilting pattern. I started about 1/2 an inch from the shoulder seams and sewed, on my sewing machine, across the vest parallel to the seam. I repeated this process for both of the shoulder seams in the front and the back. Then I sewed parallel lines about 2 inches apart all along the front of one side of the jacket. I repeated this process on the other side of the jacket, creating a nice chevron pattern across the front of the jacket. I also created this chevron pattern in the back of the jacket by sewing each line parallel to the shoulder seam, just like in the front of the jacket. However, in the back, I followed the right shoulder seam on the right side and the left shoulder seam on the left side. These lines meet up in the middle of the jacket – where the fabric fold was still dimly visible – to form the chevrons. This can be seen in the figures below.

So many lines!

So many lines!

A closer view.

A closer view.

Finally, I added in pockets to the front of the vest. I didn’t have patterns for these so I free-handed a pattern, using my cell phone for sizing. Then I folded the pattern in half to cut it out so that it was symmetric.

The pattern.

The pattern.

I then cut out two of these pockets and ironed the edges down flat as well as the hem along the top. I sewed in the hem before attaching the pocket to the vest.

The pocket is ready to join the vest.

The pocket is ready to join the vest.

I’m pretty happy with the finished product.

What has it got in its pocketses? Mushrooms, of course!

What has it got in its pocketses? Mushrooms, of course!

The finished vest.

The finished vest.

Pickled Cucumbers

In an attempt to fully explore all of the available fermented foods, I started making pickles a while ago.  The recipe I use is based off of “How to Cook Everything” and it is a great summer snack.  For the truly daring, adding a little brine to a Mexican lager (I like Pacifico) is a great treat and just drinking the brine is very refreshing if you have been out in the sun all day

Ingredients

What                                                                          How Much

Cucumbers, “Kirby” and fresh                                   2-3 lbs (about 10 medium size)
Garlic                                                                     5 cloves
Red onion                                                               1/3 cup thinly sliced
Black Pepper crushed                                              1 tbl
Dill, or some other aromatic herb                               1 large bunch, or 3 tbl dry
Water                                                                      1 1/2 cups
Salt                                                                         1/3 cup
Ice or cold water                                                       ½ cup

Directions: Clean the cucumbers, and cut 0.5cm (¼”) of the ends off of the cucumbers.  Slice up the cucumbers into any desired shape; I cut them into 4cm (1.5”) long cylinders.  Add the cucumber, onion, and garlic into ball jars.

Cut up and cleaned ingredients

Cut up and cleaned ingredients

Jarred Cucumbers

Jarred Cucumbers

Bring the water and salt to a boil dissolving the salt, then remove from heat.  Add all the black pepper and any aromatic herbs to the water.  After 1 minute, add the ice or cold water to chill down the brine.

Boiling Salt Water, YEAH!

Boiling Salt Water, YEAH!

Pour the brine into the ball jars over the cucumbers, then cover the ball jars loosely.  Now wait for the lactobacillius to work its fermenting magic.  I start sampling after 8 hours to see how sour the pickles have become and usually I leave them out at room temperature for 32 hours.  When they are as pickled as you want, close the containers tightly and refrigerate. The pickles will keep for 1 months or so in the refrigerator, but I can’t speak to that as I always eat them all up in 4 or 5 days.

Brined Cucumbers

Completed Pickles