Friday, December 12, 2014

Disney’s so Magical, Even Twitter Comes to Life

More from the Schultzsters Adventure.  And what is an adventure without friends?  Anaheim happens to be the old stomping grounds of our fabulous friend, Tromboneforhire.  His new stomping grounds aren’t terribly far away, so we arranged an afternoon of adventures.

None of us had yet met Tromboneforhire in person, so it was very exciting.  “Does he know what he’s getting himself into?” Munchkinhead asked about his meeting the three of us at once.  I looked at her.  “Yes, he does,” we said together and laughed.  Twitter with our family is, if anything, a true representation of what it’s like to hang out with us.  “Was it weird meeting someone off Twitter?”  Mr. Trizzle asked later.  This is the fourth or fifth friend I’ve first met on Twitter and then hung out with, the first being Short Fabulous, so I had only excitement and extremely high expectations.  Tromboneforhire lived up to them.

Munchkinhead, Alfred and I were hanging out in the Lego store – the meeting point Tromboneforhire had designated – playing with the Lego people display.  I was digging through a tub of Legos when Munchkinhead looked at me and nodded behind me.  I turned around and there was Tromboneforhire, just chillin, watching us getting giddy over Legos.  I shrieked and threw my arms around him.  Sneaky man.

Greetings all around and we were off on our adventure around Downtown Disney.  We had lunch at a Mexican restaurant where Munchkinhead had a birthday margarita bigger than her head.  We did lots of window shopping and playing in the many toy stores and the ESPN store, including some dress up.  This may be my most favorite picture of Alfred, ever.furry folks

We wandered all over Downtown Disney and into one of the nearby resorts.  We finished off the afternoon at a Tiki bar where Katrina eating brainsMunchkinhead drank brains out of a skull.  Alfred bought her the mug to take home with her, except they gave Munchkinhead the wrong, which wasn’t discovered until weeks after we were back home.  Sadness.  Or something.  That mug was incredibly scary so I’m not too sure it’s a bad thing she got the wrong one.

Alfred and I had fancy drinks, too, but we didn’t opt for keepsake mugs.  My drink set off a tidal wave or something in the bar.  The lights went dim, a boat in a glass display went all topsy turvy and the bartender sprayed patrons with a water gun.

It was a great afternoon spent strolling, chatting and being utterly silly.  What more could the Schultzsters want in an adventure?

The Hulk and crewThe Four of Us Chillin with Lego Hulk

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Warm Wrists for Winter

I have monkey arms.  This is great for things like playing the trombone and getting stuff down from atop the fridge.  It is not great for finding clothes that fit, particularly not for jackets.

I live in Wisconsin.  It gets cold here in the winter. Very, very cold.  This is generally not a problem as us Wisconsinites know how to bundle ourselves up pretty well. 

The problem is, bundling up while still looking classy is difficult when jacket sleeves are too short for you.  Sure, I could wear my giant XL puff coat and be warm and well-covered down to my fingertips, but a puff coat with a suit?!  No siree Bob!  I like my glove and coatbeautiful black trench coat.  I just don’t like how cold my wrists get and how the wind rushes up my arms from that gap between glove and sleeve.  So, I did something about it.

I made wrist cuffs!  They go under my jacket and gloves and keep my wrists snug and warm and the draftiness out.  I made them with the same yarn as my phone cozies, and actually started with the same pattern as a base.  After all, that pattern was for fingerless gloves.  I figured the cast-on amount would be appropriate for a wrist.  It was.warm wrist cuffs

Pair of ‘em

I cast on 44 stitches and did a 2x2 rib as long as I wanted the cuff.  At the top, I did a couple rows of seed stitch and added a thumb hole to help keep the cuffs in place.  Rather than doing a “hold these stitches over here” like a normal glove or fingerless glove, I cast off 6 stitches where I wanted the thumb and on the next time around, cast on 6 stitches and joined those to the other side so I had a thumb hole.  I then did 2 more rounds and bound off the whole thing.

wrist cuff Covered wrist

The left cuff is extra special.  The one good thing about that gap between my gloves and sleeve is that I can look at my watch.  I wanted to keep that bonus while warming my wrists, so the left cuff has a watch hole.

watch hole

Watch opening

So far, I love them.  It takes a little longer to get ready, and they have to go on after the jacket (and thus come off before I can put the jacket on if I’m just wearing them around), but it’s worth it.  The extra warmth they provide is amazing, especially with how they keep the wind out of my jacket.

Monday, December 8, 2014

M-I-C. K-E-Y. M-O-U-S-

I’m sorry, you’re going to have to buy that last vowel.  That’s the standard impression of Disneyland anyway.  “How much did the mouse fleece you for?” was one of my friends’ first question when he learned we’d been there for the day.  Whatever the reputation, we still had fun.

Munchkinhead, Alfred and I were there for Munchkinhead’s 26th birthday.  Well, sort of .  I mean, we were at Disneyland for her birthday, but the being in Anaheim that facilitated going to Disneyland was the State Bar of California’s IP Institute.  If I just had to be in Anaheim the day after Munchkinhead’s birthday, we might as well go to Disneyland on her birthday, right?  Right.  So we took that train ride and went for a mouse-fleecing.

Munchkinhead had gotten special birthday ears and we were each given a pin to show that we were celebrating her birthday.  We got all dolled up in our Disney paraphernalia, including Alfred in her “Hans Shot First” t-shirt and headed out for some Schultzsters adventure!

Our Super 8 was only a few blocks from the theme parks, so we walked over.  First stop, those funny pass things for Space Mountain, which Munchkinhead and Alfred both wanted to go on.  But before we went on any rides, we had a very special breakfast (2nd breakfast as Super 8 had breakfast included and we like to have about 2 of every meal.)  Breakfast with Minnie and friends!

We all got our pictures taken with a bunch of Disney characters.  Captain Hook tried to steal Alfred, who went rather willingly with a big smile on her face.  I was super excited to see that Minnie and I had on matching pantoloons.  And Munchkinhead got lots of autographs, which are still in my work notebook in my purse.  The Fairly Godmother was quite surprised that Munchkinhead’s Fairy Godmother doesn’t have a magic wand.

Katrina and Minnie

Captain Hook stealing Wendy

We had lots of great adventures throughout the day.  Almost everyone got to go on their favorite rides, except poor Munchkinhead.  And on her birthday!  It’s a Small World was closed.  Alfred took us on the Star Wars adventure ride, which my tummy wasn’t too happy about, even with medicine.  We hit my favorite, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride pretty early.  We also went on the Peter Pan ride and somehow I survived the Teacups.  We took turns riding solo on the 2-people rides.

Alfred and I made light sabers.  Hers was a Darth Vader replica for her husband.  Mine was me picking out the things I thought were pretty.  My lightsaber’s purple!  Like Samuel L. Jackson’s.  Oooh.  They guy helping us asked if we knew why is was purple.  Alfred started going on this long shpiel about Mace Windu and the dude’s like “cuz Samuel L. Jackson said he wanted it that way.”  Alfred was quite miffed, “I was answering in cannon.”  Shrug.  I like purple and Samuel L. Jackson, that was good enough for my light saber.

We went to the Tiki room, and Abraham Lincoln’s speech and watched a bit of Jedi training, and all sorts of fun stuff!  We also blew through the New Orleans section where Munchkinhead tried to knock over some lamp poles.  That’s pretty much on par with Captain Hook trying to steal Alfred.

All day long, everyone kept saying “Happy Birthday” to Munkchinhead.  Even the characters in the parade!  Tromboneforhire helped us out throughout the day, providing tips and tricks via Twitter and text.  He helped us get a great spot for the parade and navigate the park.  It was a very long and fun day.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Dinner and a Song

Liberace I knew he was from Milwaukee.  I knew he was Vegas, and I knew he liked sequins.  That was about all I knew about Liberace.  I had no idea he was a piano player.  Ok, I knew he was gay, but only because of previews for that movie not that long ago with Matt Damon.  I did not know he died of AIDS.  I had no idea he was Polish.  And I certainly didn’t knew he was actually a very talented man.

Liberace! at The Rep was not just informative, it was highly entertaining and extremely well done.  Jack Forbes Wilson is amazing and entirely believable to be the ghost incarnate of Liberace himself.   Of course, since I didn’t even know Liberace played the piano, I clearly am not familiar with his work so I can’t offer a comparison.  But, Mr. Wilson can certainly play the piano and keep your attention for several hours.  I think this was my favorite thing I’ve seen at the Rep so far.

I’m usually not a fan of one-man shows.  I get bored.  And The Rep isn’t my favorite theater in the city.  It’s ostentatious.  But this one-man show was perfectly ostentatious and not at all boring.

Liberace! is performed in the cabaret theater.  Munkchinhead and I hadn’t been to this yet and didn’t really know what to expect.  It reminded me a bit of the jazz club in Oakland that Mr. Trizzle took me to once.  Munchkinhead had some whiskey hot chocolate and I had some bourbon pecan pie.  Mmmmm…. And we watched and wowed at the dazzling display on stage.  Oh. my. gosh. Those outfits!  I totally want a cloak again now, though with a few less sequins.

Liberace! is running through January 11th.  There’s some sing-a-long parts! (and they swam and they swam…)  Tickets.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sophisticated Sunday

This Sunday, Munchknihead and I had a theater day.  It turned out to be more of a “professional imitations of life with the Schultzes” day, but it was still rather fun.

Complete Works of Shakespeare

Show One

The first show we say was The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised] at Milwaukee Chamber Theater.  The play very much reminded me of the NG antics the neighbor kids and us would get into in Mommy and Daddy’s basement.  Friends goofing around, grabbing this thing and that for props, wearing Christmas tree skirts, writing scripts, goofing around, pretending there was an audience.  In that sense, it felt a little silly to have paid to come watch such a thing.

The show was amusing – although honestly the most amusing part was watching a bunch of 70 year-old white woman laugh at what they probably didn’t know was a “Gin and Juice” parody.  I especially loved the local things worked in, like the cheeshead.  The four-man cast included Rick Pendzich, who played Max in the Lend Me a Tenor show Munchkinhead and I saw in April. He’s excellent, and so pretty to look at I’d probably watch him play a tree.

The show’s good for quite a few laughs, and now I know the plot lines to a lot more Shakespeare plays.  It runs at the Chamber Theater through December 14th, so there’s still time to check it out. Warning, it’s somewhat interactive – How Munchkinhead and I keep accidentally going to interactive theater, I don’t know!  Tickets.


After playing dress-up with the Shakespeareans, Munchkinhead and I decided to do dinner somewhere on KK we hadn’t been yet.  So we drove down KK.  We seemed to comment more on the places we had been, as if checking off “nope, can’t go there.”  As we neared the end of the Bay View part of KK, we passed Pastiche.  Neither of us had been there, so we triangled around the block (KK is a crooked street) and parked next to the restaurant.  

Woo eee! Fancy!  There was a couple dining there so finely dressed, the man entered in a top hat, a long black coat with a cape on the shoulders and a tall cane with a metal knob.  Very elegant!  There was a sign on the table in French.  Neither Munchkinhead or I knew enough French to parse it out completely, so we took out our phones to find out what it said.  It said “please don’t use your mobile devices.”  Oops!  Good thing we had explained to the waitress when she came to take our order that we were just looking up the words we didn’t know.  She politely explained douphinoise potatoes to us.

The food was delicious.  Munchkinhead even had the waitress pair a wine with her meal!  Though I still don’t understand ratatouille; it always feels like someone forgot to put pasta under the sauce.

Show Two

Harvey After dinner, we headed back downtown to see Harvey at the Rep.  Yup, we went from four guys playing in their basement to a man with a giant invisible rabbit.  You see what I mean about this “life with the Schultzes” thing?  (Lewin would.) 

Harvey is a very cute play, so of course the show was cute.  But it wasn’t nearly as good as the production I saw with Daddy Bunny (his post here) at the Contra Costa Civic Theater.  The Rep has a much bigger budget and quite frankly, it just feels like they’re trying too hard.  A lot of the characters felt too high-strung.  Not quite over-acting but ridiculously intense in a way that made intermission feel like coming up for air.  The one exception to that was Mr. Wilson, played by Justin Brill, who felt properly toned.  The person in a bunny suit behind the windows was also over the top.  Imagination is far more powerful than a man in a bunny suit.

Still, as I said, Harvey is a very cute play.  It’s running at the Rep through December 21.  Tickets.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Sparkle-ing up my Wardrobe

collar (1)I’d started noticing something, a pattern sort of.  The clothing that I liked in stores and catalogs, it all had something in common.  It wasn’t really the cut or the fabric, it was that all of it had embellishments.  Beads, lace, ruffles, sequins, sparkliness, something extra that made it fun and feminine.  That realization got the ball rolling.  A tiny little marble sliding around in my head.  A lone marble; all the others are lost.

<-- Alfred.

Munchkinhead had bought me some grey sparkly yarn when I was finishing up Mzzzz Jones’ scarf and my crocheted stockings in case I didn’t have enough purple and needed to put another color in the stocking heels.  I hadn’t needed it then, so I started thinking about what to do with it.  It’s very pretty.  What do you know?  That loose marble rolled up.  I could use the sparkly silver yarn to make something to embellish my dress clothes.  A collar!  I could make a collar.

I went online and found a pattern that I thought looked pretty and not too difficult.  It has a beautiful leaf pattern in it and some lacey accents that I thought would look great with the fairly-thin yarn.  The pattern called for two colors, but as we know, I like to experiment, so I decided to do it in just the silver.  The really awesome part was that the pattern itself called for embellishments, 55 small beads. Munchkinhead let me have some white, shiny coated, plastic beads from here collection.  Then I found some beautiful pearly looking glass beads at Jo-Ann’s that I liked even better.  For some reason, I also threw into my purse, a string of small pearled plastic beads.

I knit the collar on our train ride to California.  The knitting went pretty easy, but when it came time for the beads, oh boy.  This was major group effort.  The glass beads I’d purchased had holes far too small to fit onto the yarn, or my needles.  Luckily, Alfred lent me a needle from her cross-stitch kit.  I tried stringing the prettier glass beads onto some thread from Alfred’s sewing kit and knitting the thread and yarn together.  That was not working well.   So, I decided to try the plastic beads Munchkinhead had given me.  I strung up some beads and began attaching them into the cast off as the pattern instructed.  It looked awful.  The beads dangled off the bottom of the collar, looking more like jingle bells that flattering feminine decorations. 

Then I got an idea.  I don’t quite know where it came from, but it worked wonderfully.  That string of small plastic beads glued in place on some sort of stiff cord or something turned out to look perfect, and it was long enough.  Instead of stringing beads onto the working yarn, I worked the pre-strung chain into the cast-off.  When wrapping the working yarn around my needle for the knit stitch, I would also wrap it around the space between two beads.  As I knit the cast-off stitch, the yarn would pull the bead string against the edge of the collar.  The result is that the collar looks perfectly edged in little white beads.

It’s gorgeous!  Now I just need to find a blouse or dress to adorn with it.

collar (2)Munchkinhead holding the completed collar.

Here are some close-ups of the beading edge on the front and back of the work.

beads from front beads from back

Yarn: Lion Brand Vanna’s Glamour in Platinum, 2 Fine, size 5 needles or size 6 hook recommended

Needles: Wooden size 3 circular

Pattern: Lacy Knit Collar by Lorna Miser, available at

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

An Adventure in Structured Knitting

I had to wonder if I’d made a bad decision.  We were only five minutes in and I was already thinking, “crap; this is going be one of those types of things.”  Whatever those is; does anyone ever know when they say that?  I’m not sure I knew, but it is what I was thinking.

This month, I started a new knitting class.  Actually, it’s my first ever knitting class.  The yarn and fabric store next to the office that I mentioned the other day offers knitting, quilting and other sewing classes.  Mommy’s gone to a few quilting ones and enjoyed them, so I thought I’d give a knitting one a try.

This class isn’t an entry-level class, but it’s still simple enough to be a good beginner’s program.  The idea is that each month we’ll learn a new knitting technique by using that technique in a single square, and at the end of a year we’ll put all the different squares together into a blanket.  We’re using a book called Building Blocks by Michelle Hunter. 

And we are following the book.  Rules.  Rules and me, we have a special relationship, one of those ones where you’re so close you know what the other means despite what they say.  The Rules say, “do this.”  And I say, “ok.”  And I know what the rules really mean is, “do something kinda like this that gets you a similar, better or good enough result.”  And the Rules know I mean, “I sort of will, but I’m totally going to experiment.”  And we’re all good.   Except other people, they don’t really get mine and Rules’ close special relationship.

The way this class started, I thought Rules and I were going to be beefing.  Everyone began casting on their project, except me.  The teacher had taken my yarn away.  No, I wasn’t trying to eat it.  I had bought one of those skeins were it’s not all put in a nice center-pull ballish shaped thing.  She said I couldn’t use it like that.  I usually do, until it gets super knotted and I pause to wind the rest of it into a ball.  So she took it away and had the store lady wind it into a cylinder on a machine.  Pout.

Once I had my yarn, I was ready start.  Cast-on here I come!  Except, the book said we had to do a long-tail cast-on.  Long-tail is the first cast-on I learned, and my least favorite.  Bigger pout.  I dislike it for a number of reasons, it’s hard to judge how much of a tail you’ll need so you can wind up having to start over multiple times or waste a lot of yarn with a big tail left over, my cast-on stitches tend to come out too tight and uneven, and I always forget how to do it.  But, the teacher said we were using this method for a reason and I was here to improve the knitting skills in my arsenal, so I peered over my neighbor’s shoulder and started casting on with a long tail.  It’s uneven. *shrug* Maybe next time will be better.

This particular square is a tweed pattern done completely in knits and purls.  By the time class ended, my square was more than half done.  I was very happy. One thing that worried me when signing up for the class was how much other knitting I’d be able to do.  Would the class project take up all my knitting time?  (I only spend so much time at church, watching football and sitting on public transit.)  Looks like I’ll be able to keep most of that knitting time for other mis-adventures.

The other thing that worried me about the class is what I’d find there.  I’d like to say I didn’t know what to expect, but honestly, it’s more that I had preconceived notions of little old Midwestern ladies with lots of medications and aches to talk about, and I was fearing I’d be right.  I was wrong. Yay!  There were seven of us, all ladies, spanning a good range of ages.  The class is taught by Mrs. Eileen Waldo who’s living the retired woman’s dream, hanging out in a yarn store, teaching classes and offering her fiber expertise to all those who need it.  Sadly, one of the other younger ladies decided she’s really more of a crocheter and won’t be back for this particular class.  She did sell her book to someone in the store, so we’ll at least have a new person.

I’m missing the next two classes because I’ll be out of town for both of them – opposite coasts.  But, I’m excited to rejoin the group in February.  …Unless I go on that Mission trip.  Then I’ll be back in March. … Unless that’s the weekend I’m supposed to be in Sacramento.  …Well, April, at the very least April.

knitting square day 1My square at the end of the first class.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Be Careful What You Ask For

They say, “be careful what you ask for.”  Especially when asking God.  He’ll give it to you, and not always in the way you expect, or want.

I was sitting around, having one of those imaginary conversations in my head like I like to do, this one in English, explaining to some imaginary person about why I went into the Peace Corps.  It got me thinking about times God’s answered my prayers, and it made me think of one particular instance that always makes me laugh.

walking up the path croppedIn the summer of 2007 (a year conspicuously missing from this blog), I did a 6-week study abroad summer program with Vandy in Venice, Italy.  Classes during the day, excursion trips here and there.  Very fun.  There was a large group of us, I’d guess around 20 something, in the program.  We all booked our own flights and found our own housing arrangements.  I shared a flat with a delightful couple and another friend.  It was wonderful.  Photo above: our group at a winery tour.

In this group was one particular classmate that had driven a lot of us nuts throughout our first year of classes.  And now, here he was again, in our very small and always together summer program class.  Ugh.

As the weeks of class went on, I found myself being rather mean.  Probably not to his face - though I honestly can’t claim that for sure – but, definitely snide in conversations with my friends where we’d talk about how obnoxious he was and how much he annoyed us.

I didn’t like this me.  I don’t like being mean, and I don’t want to be a mean person.  So at night, when I’d get ready for bed, I’d tack on to my prayers a request for patience and for me to be nicer to him.

I don’t know what I expected.  To gradually just start having more patience?  To magically become nicer without any work on my part?  For him to become less obnoxious or annoy me less so I’d be nicer?  It doesn’t work like that.  No, not at all.

As the program wound down, we were all excited to head back and start our first summer legal internships.  I was also relieved to be getting away from the group, and particularly that guy.

We were pretty much all leaving on different days, depending on people’s schedules for their internships, extra tourism plans and whatnot.  As I mentioned above, we all booked our own flights.  On my departure day, I headed to the airport to fly home.  I boarded my flight, this giant jumbo jet to go across the ocean, and who’s sitting in the seat next to mine?  That guy from my class.

Me and that guy from my class for the next 7 or so hours, with only each other for company, in a sealed metal tube hurling above the ocean.  “God, this is not what I meant!”

It turned out to be a great flight.  He’s not truly obnoxious, just highly energetic and genuine in a way that’s so unusual it can come off as fake if you’re too full of your own thoughts to pay attention.  We had a wonderful time and by the time that plane landed, I considered him a friend.

It makes me laugh because I never would have prayed “God, please let me be trapped next to this guy for 7 or 8 hours so I can learn to like him.”  But that’s exactly how I found myself being nice to him, and I then didn’t need the patience I’d asked for either.

Friday, November 21, 2014

If I Can’t Be a Housewife, I’m at least Dressing like One

“Mommy, Betty White’s wearing my dress!”  I exclaimed into the phone.  I’d been watching Life with Elizabeth on the Roku’s Pop Films Classic TV channel.  - I love that show; Betty White in 1954, amazing.  Anyway…  Just a few weeks earlier I had finished this fabulous new dress and here was Betty White, 60 years ago, wearing a dress of the exact same cut.  I was thrilled.

I found the fabric first.  In the new knitting and quilting shop that opened up next door to the office.  Danger Will Robinson, DANGER!!!!  I can’t remember what I’d actually gone in there for.  Perhaps to finally see it.  The building had been built my great-grandfather as his store front and home when he was a Roundy’s salesman, well before being elected to the judiciary.  Unlike all the other buildings he built, I’d never been in it.  The ladies at Bungalow Quilting & Yarn have done a great job incorporating the original feel of the building into their shop.  It was while I was admiring this that I also found myself admiring some fabulous fabric. 

fun fabric Pattern-colored, with pattern instructions and images sprawling across the fabric.  A nice, soft, light cotton.  This place isn’t your standard big box discount store, so I gathered together some resolve and left the store without it.  Then I got a coupon in my email a few weeks later.  I knew exactly what I wanted.

“What are you going to make with it?”  “I want to make a dress, use this for the bodice.”  The lady looked at me skeptically.  “Let us know how that turns out.”  I can’t blame her.  I’m sure “dress!” is not the first thing that comes to most people’s minds upon seeing that fabric.  But then, I never claim to be most people.

Butterick B6055 Mommy and I took the fabric and headed to JoAnn’s to find a suitable pattern and a coordinating fabric for the skirt.  At first, I was thinking maybe a pattern similar to the one that’s depicted on the fabric, but honestly, that style doesn’t work well on my jumbo-muscle thighs.  Instead, I picked out a fabulous Retro Butterick pattern from 1950, B6055.  We perused the general cottons, blends and quilting fabrics looking for something that would go well with one of the colors in the bodice fabric and me.  Mommy found the most delightful and perfect fabric, mint with large white polka dots!

polka dots I’m sort of notorious for messing with patterns.  Altering the sizes, the style, the embellishments.  This time, the only alteration I made was to leave off the pockets.  They looked as though they’d be an awful temptation for creating cell-phone destruction through gravity. 

double sided belt I suppose I can’t really claim no pockets as the only change since I also slightly modified the belt.  The belt called for a 1” buckle.  We couldn’t find a 1” buckle at JoAnn’s or in Mommy’s stash, so I improvised.  Instead, I put belt fronttwo  button holes in the belt, one at each end, and secured it with a large cuff link.  I love it!  It looks awesome and the cuff link seems to keep the belt from spinning around my waist.   The belt currently isn’t size adjustable, but if I ever need it to be, I belt backcan just add another button hole at either end.  I also made the belt double-sided so it can match either the bodice or the skirt.

Oh, and I also added a skirt lining.  I guess I messed with the pattern more than I realized at the time. The polka dot fabric is pretty thin, so I added a slip-style lining with natural-colored muslin from my large bolt.  Basically, I cut the skirt out of both fabrics, assembled the lining and skirt separate, basted them at the waist with wrong sides together and sewed the bodice to the whole skirt unit. 

After wearing the dress, I also wish I’d have lined the whole bodice in the polka dots instead of just doing the collar with facing like the pattern says.  Then I would be able to turn up my sleeves and have little polka dot cuffs.  I may go back and add some false cuffs to it.

I love the dress.  I love how it turned out.  I love that it fits me pretty much perfectly.  And I really, really love, that I just happened to already have shoes in the exact right color and style.  It also goes great with mouse ears and pearls.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

LA Should be Beautiful This Time of Year, All that Snow

at MKA (2) We were standing next to the empty tracks shivering, Munchkinhead and me.  “Which sleeping car is it like?”  She asked me through chattering teeth.  “The second one,”  I replied bouncing up and down to stay warm.  We laughed.  No one had mentioned White Christmas, but I knew exactly what she was referencing, what she was asking about.  We’re sisters; we work like that.    At MKA Amtrak Station after Mommy dropped us off.

It was the start of our great #Schultzsters Adventure, a hashtag created for us by the darling Meg&Jack who rather adorably assumed we already called ourselves that.  We do now. 

The dates had been announced nearly a year ago.  The next California State Bar Intellectual Property Section Annual Intellectual Property Institute would be held on November 6th and 7th.  Our Executive Committee meeting would be held the day before that, on the 5th, exactly one day after Munchkinhead’s birthday.  When the location was announced, there was only one idea in my head.  The Orange County Hyatt at Disneyland.  “Hey Munchkinhead, wanna go to Disneyland for your birthday?”

Before long, we had a sleeper car room reserved on the Southwest Chief, going from Chicago through Kansas City to Los Angeles.  Through Kansas City?!  A little bit longer and lot bit prodding later, Alfred had a ticket to join us.  And we were off!

Munchkinhead and I started in Milwaukee on the Hiawatha and switched trains in Chicago.  Thanks to our sleeper car – and thanks to Amtrak’s fabulous reward miles program for that free sleeper! – we got to hang out in the fancy lounge where we giggled with anticipation as we ate peanut butter sandwiches out of a Victoria’s Secret bag.  Ah, lunch on the road.

Katrina in the sleeper car (4)We left Chicago just before 4pm and by 10ish, were in Kansas City, eagerly running around the platform looking for Alfred.  When she and Munchkinhead spotted each other on the platform, there was running from both directions and a giant group hug in the middle of the main walkway.  And chatter.  So much chatter.  Alfred slept in coach that first night and we traded the next night so she could have a bed, though I heard Munchkinhead made her climb into the upper berth.   Munchkinhead in our Sleeper Car, excited for the adventure.

WP_20141101_031 Schultzsters

We hung out together in our room and in the observation car, knitting, cross-stitching and watching the landscape run past.  At smoking breaks, where the train stops for longer amounts at a station and the passengers can detrain for a bit, we drank in fresh air, took pictures with the station signs and stood together singing “Snow. Snow. Snow. Snow. Snow!”  Apparently we were all trying to be Judy.

Albuqurque (5)

Me and Alfred in Albuquerque

San Bernadino (1)

Munchkinhead in San Bernadino

By the time we reached our final destination of Fullerton, CA, I think we were rather infamous among the train passengers.  Munchkinhead had been wearing her special Birthday Star plastic canvas crown around the train, especially to meals.  People not only wished her happy birthday when she had it on, they wished her happy birthday or asked if she was the birthday girl when she wasn’t wearing it.  The people near Alfred’s coach seat knew about our adventure and were very nice when I swapped places with her.  And then there was that thing with my phone.  It slid off the seat into a narrow crevice between the seat frame and the shelf/stairs for the upper bed.  It took two guys 20 minutes, a knife, a folded paper bag and a crowbar to retrieve it.  I’m still rather amazed they managed to do it.

We had a fabulous time riding the train together.  The trip seemed super short.  We’ll have to find somewhere to go together that takes longer to get to, and maybe to somewhere that actually has snow.

Monday, November 17, 2014

It’s Cold Outside…

You’re either now singing a Christmas tune or the theme song from Red Dwarf.  Me, I’m doing the later while dancing in my fabulous new pink flannel jammies! 

pink jammie piping (4)It seemed like a very silly project to be doing in August, but in Wisconsin, August quickly gives way to chilly fall nights.  Mommy and I found the pink checked flannel on a trip to JoAnn’s.  Since my two pairs of jammies – both satin jammies from Vickie’s – are falling apart after years of year-round wear in the Bay Area, I thought it’d be nice to have a new set.

The pattern wasn’t too hard and there was a surprising amount of room for creativity and fun because we didn’t purchase any piping.  Instead, we raided Mommy’s boxes of piping packets collected by various grandmothers and such over the past 50ish years.  We did the same for the buttons in the time capsule of button tins.

pink jammie piping (6) The pajamas have piping on the sleeve and leg faux cuffs, along the collar edge, down the front opening and on the pockets.  There wasn’t enough of any one piping to do everything, so I mixed and matched.  The legs and arms have black.  The pockets have pink.  The front opening has a fun bright robin's egg blue and the collar has a slightly peachier pink.

I don’t remember how many buttons it was supposed to have, but we found three big, flat pink buttons so Mommy put 3 button holes in the placket.  I sewed the buttons on.

Personally, I think the jammies turned  out really cute.  And they’re so warm.  Perfect for snuggling down into bed on a chilly night.

Pattern: Simplicity 2371, same as Monkey pants I made for Mr. Trizzle; Currently available for sale here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Ivory’s Adventures in Canada: Banff

breathtaking skyscape

It’s like the Dells meets the Pacific Northwest.  Tiny little tourist shops stocked to the gills will all sorts of silliness, surrounded by  pine forests, towering mountains and valleys of rushing water.  Banff.

Jack’s a huge fan of Banff, so of course we had to visit.  I can see why.  It’s like his own home town bit of paradise.  The area is extremely beautiful.  The vibrant colors energize your soul.  Pale green grass with a touch of tan peeking through from the dry dirt below gives way into deep green pine trees covering the mountainsides like tightly packed brillo pads.  Near the peaks, a special type of pine tree that turns gold in the autumn shimmers as though Midas himself has climbed every one.  Jutting above, the grey mountain tops loom as shadows against the bright blue sky.

There’s a particular mountain you can climb, Sulfur Mountain.  It reminded me of Table Mountain in Cape Town, the way you can ride a gondola up it and how the top is set aside for tourists regardless of their physical prowess.  We didn’t climb this one.  I’d have liked to, and I bet we could have if we’d had more time.  The path was a little clearer and more subdued than the trek up Table Mountain.  Instead, we took the gondola up, gliding high up above the trees.  At the top, we hiked around the paths and over to a neighboring peak where we climbed up to an old cosmic ray station that now serves as a sort of mini-museum display.  It was pretty and jack atop Sulfur Mountain

Me and Jack atop Sulfur Mountain

rushing river We also explored nature back down in the valley, walking along a rushing river, watching a wedding party take photos on a beach downstream.  There were people everywhere, yet somehow the place still felt secluded.  I guess tall pine trees will do that.

The day’s adventures also featured browsing many of those trinket-filled stores, picking up a few nifty things here and there, including giant footed, onsie pajamas for me!  Yup, for gigantic tall me.  Canada certainly does some things right.

candelabbra  In the evening, we toured this huge castle-looking hotel.  It was enormous.  I felt like a princess walking through the tall, dimly-lit halls, the flame-shaped light bulbs reflecting in mirrors along the corridor.

crazy moose (1) Windows reached from the floor to high above my head, giving spectacular views of the starry night sky.  In the old reception area, a crackling fireplace warmed guests at medival looking tables while the craziest taxidermist moose I’ve ever seen lolled down from an inset in an arched door frame.  And there are some things Canada does … strangely.

I’m very glad we got to spend the day exploring the area, both inside and outside.

me atop Sulfur mountain cropped

Standing on one of the lookout areas near the old Cosmic Ray station; the town of Banff down below in the valley

(Of course I wore my hiking boots, why would you even think otherwise?)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Shaina’s Scarf

I like to have a fiber project in my purse.  Something small to work on when waiting, sitting with friends or generally lolling around in a situation where I might otherwise get myself into trouble.  During a trip to DC for Mzzzz Jones’ baby shower, I was working on my sparkly purple stockings

Shaina's scarf (2)Mzzzz Jones commented that she liked the yarn very much and would love a scarf made out of it.  I’d gotten the yarn on clearance at JoAnn’s and only had one more skein or so left.  It would have to be a very lacey scarf to be of any decent length with that little yarn.  She said that was fine.  So I went for it.  It turned out gorgeous (if I do say so myself, though Mzzzz Jones also said she loves it).

Shaina's scarf in progress (1)I decided to do a fairly basic knit pattern but with large needles in order to give the scarf lots of space and a sort of lacey feel.  The yarn calls for size 2 needles; I used size 15, the largest bamboo needles I had.      Scarf in progress.

I tried a garter stitch at first, to get an idea of what it would look like.  It was underwhelming.  Then I tried a one-stitch wide rib.  That worked fabulously.  It gave the scarf a very symmetrical look; there’s no front or back.  The ribbing also gave the scarf depth, making it appear and feel very thick despite the thin yarn and loose stitches.  And best of all, it made the scarf extremely bouncy and stretchy.  Baby J can pull on it all he wants and not strangle Mzzzz Jones.

 Shaina's scarf (1)

yarn: Vanna’s Glamour by Lion Brand in Purple Topaz; listed for size 2; 96% acrylic and 4% metallic polyester

Needles: Takumi bamboo straight needles size 15

Monday, November 10, 2014

Ivory’s Adventures in Canada: 5 pin bowling

In early fall, I took an unusual sort of trip for me, a straight up vacation.  No conference, no coffee meetings, just a visit to my friend Jack.  We had a lot of fabulous adventures full of many, many new-to-me things.  Canadians sure do things goofy!

5 pin lanes 

One of those goofy adventures was 5 pin bowling.  I’ve done plenty of bowling.  Heck, I even have a bowling skirt.  But, I’d never done 5 pin bowling before.  The pins are the same, except it’s only the front ones.  The balls are different.  They’re about the size of a softball and rather light compared to a full size bowling ball.  There’s less pin action because the pins are on strings, like puppets, for resetting.

The play and scoring are a little different, too.  You get 3 chances instead of 2 and pins are worth different points depending on where they are.  The head pin is 5, the next two out are 3 and the end two are 2 each.  There’s still strikes and spares and they work essentially the same.  There’s no bonus for taking 3 balls to knock down all the pins.  The max score per frame is 30.  I have no idea what a decent game score is.  All I know is, I beat Jack both games.  Hee hee.

My first couple rolls were terrible because I tried rolling the mini ball like I do my regular ball, straight down the lane.  That didn’t work because that roll relies on the size of the ball and closeness of the pins to knock things into other things.  Then I tried throwing it with a hook using the movements Mr. Trizzle had taught me for a curve roll.  It worked beautifully.

It was a lot of fun.  I kinda wish we had 5 pin bowling down here.

5 pin bowling in action

Friday, November 7, 2014

Africa in the Middle of Wisconsin

I turned off the D’banj song and exited my car.  “Baby girl….” D’banj’s lyrics kept going in my head, “I love the way you make your body twerk…”  I stepped into the lobby and was greeted by a 6ft tall cast iron elephant, palm trees and thatched roofed kiosks.  This place is called Kalahari, but the Africaness of its environment hadn’t really clicked as a possibility.  “Oh dear.  What have I gotten myself into?”

The key card clicked in the door, but I hesitated before turning the handle, unsure what I’d find inside.  Every place I roamed in the resort, every first encounter with a new area, a new wall, a new menu, was filled with hesitation.  The Kalahari is simultaneously disappointedly what you’d expect of an African-themed hotel in the middle of Wisconsin and surprisingly delightful.

My room looked like any other hotel room, save for the two framed West African masks hanging near the balcony door.  The hallway outside had also been almost non-descript, save for the wood poles strung overhead like a strange dropped ceiling.  I decided to venture out and take a look around.

Africa mural A long skywalk connected the building where my room was to the main building with conference center, lobby and waterpark.  A detailed mural stretched the full length.  It, like the rest of the hotel, was a combination of “that’s awesome” and “what the?!”  The mural began with a map of Africa.  Missing South Sudan, but otherwise pretty decent.  And a little did you know blurb.  For example, did you know that Africa is almost completely surrounded by water?  Maybe because, oh I don’t know, it’s a CONTINENT?!

A sort series of blurbs, almost tweet-like in their brevity give a small glimpse into a handful of tribes.  Beyond the Intro to Africa section, a trail of Adinkra symbols from the Ashanti culture interspersed with ads for area restaurants and attractions leads you across the skywalk.  “Compassion & Protection are represented in this symbol of a person who teaches another person with patience.”  “CARNIVAL CAFE 24 LANES OF BOWLING, LIFE SIZE BASKETBALL, FOOTBALL AND HOCKEY!” “Humility . Readiness to learn and to WP_20141023_073develop wisdom are signaled with this Adinkra symbol.”  “TOMMY BARTLETT” “Consideration & Tenderness are represented in this Adinkra symbol of a stylized comb.” 

One particular ad caught my eye, for the Ivory Coast restaurant, located somewhere within the hotel.  I wanted to find that restaurant.  A small, likely foolish, part of me thought it possible that the Ivory Coast restaurant might have African food.

As I explored, I found the entire resort complex was filled with art, both African-inspired and authentic African pieces.  Yoruba masks, Kente cloth, bead works, wood carvings, wax prints; you name it, they had something.  Each hallway was a new adventure.

In the evening, after the State Bar of Wisconsin programming was over (you didn’t think I just upped and went to the Kalahari cuz I missed Africa, did you?), I had a chance to explore the water park.  I felt a little odd walking through these art-decked hallways with my citenge wrapped around my swimsuit.  I always pack a citenge when I travel, but if I had known the hotel would be such a mix of Africa and African stereotypes, I wouldn’t have packed the one with the Zambian village scene on it.  I half expected someone to stop me and ask which hotel gift store I got it at.citenge

The water slides were a lot of fun, despite leaving my muscles aching from the thrashing about. And I did eventually find that Ivory Coast restaurant.  There wasn’t a single African thing on the menu, not even some fried plantains.  At least the fun on the water slides and my delight at a real squat rack and bench in the fitness room almost made up for the disappointment on the food front.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Old Fabric, Old Pattern, New Skirt

Over the years, I’ve collected a bit of a stash of fabric.  Nothing, I mean nothing compared to what Mommy’s got, but still enough where I feel like I ought to be doing something with it.  One of my favorite things to do with stash fabric – whether mine or Mommy’s – is look through old patterns around either of our houses to see if I can find something good.  And that’s exactly what I did.

I had a delightful grey suiting fabric.  Light weight but rather decent quality.  I’ve been having the most miserable time finding good business clothes that fit me, so I thought I’d make a skirt for work.  I dug through Mommy’s patterns and found an old 1982 skirt pattern that she’d used to make a skirt for her Mommy.  Thank goodness!  That meant it wasn’t her teeny-tiny pre-kids size.  I had a shot at this working.

WP_20140921_001 The pattern was old-school size 12, with a 26 1/2” waist.  That’s still a little smaller than mine, but not by too much.  I utilized resizing tactics that I learned in a book that is currently at her house where you add inches to the sides by pivoting the pattern piece out from an anchor at the center top. I added a bit to the waist and a bit to the hips. 

I also sort of added down the sides by carrying the expanded line most of the way down the pattern.  I should not have done that.  It would have worked better to blend the extended line into the existing pattern.  The skirt’s a bit wide at the knees.

grey skirt (5) The hardest part turned out to be the pleats.  I was so proud of myself.  They turned out absolutely gorgeous the first time, with amazingly straight top stitching.  I was so excited, I ran down to the kitchen where Mommy was cooking dinner so I could show her, only to realize I’d put them on the wrong side of the fabric.  Mommy always says, “as ye sew, so shall ye rip.”  I ripped.  Boy did I rip.  It took a long time to get those pleats right.  Let’s just say, third time’s the charm.

The pattern didn’t have a lining, but I like my skirts lined.  So, I found a bolt of black lining fabric in Mommy’s closet – I think it’s left from Alfred’s bridesmaid dresses.  I used the quasi-assembled skirt as a guide and cut a front and 2 back pieces.  I stitched the side seams all the way and the back seam up to about the bottom of the zipper on the skirt.  Then, I basted the lining to the skirt and stitched the waistband to both.  It worked well.

grey skirt zipper  For the zipper, we dug around in Mommy’s zipper drawer until we found something that was close to the called for size.  It’s a fabulous old metal zipper on black zipper tape with a wide zipper pull.  Gives some great edginess to the rather classic-styled skirt.

In the end, it may not be perfect, but I have a nice dress skirt that fits me pretty darn well and works nicely with my existing wardrobe.  (But not necessarily the part of my wardrobe that I was wearing the day I finished it.)

grey skirt (4)

grey skirt (3)

Pattern: Simplicity 5749 (old school)