Olive Riding Jacket/Butterick B6433

January had me working on Butterick B6433.  My first iteration of the jacket just did not do well.  The twill fabric I had in my stash was far too thick and stiff so when I tried it on, it just didn’t hang well.  In addition, I used a lightweight cotton for the lining which did the garment no favors and I found it difficult to put on and take off.  Again, not a good choice.

So, I had to order new fabric and am now waiting for my lining fabric to arrive before I continue.


Much better fit and drape and I am quite happy with it.  I have added the sleeves and belt since I took these pictures.


I was happy that I did not have to lengthen this as I typically have to do with tops and jackets. I am also quite please with the way it is turning out (except I did not see the handprints my son left on the mirror until after I had posted the picture, lol).

While I wait for the lining, I have been making other things, too.  I found out that I am going to be a grandmother for the first time so I have gone nuts with all the things I can make for baby.  Case in point:

Burp cloths coming up!  Perfect use for some of the fabric stash I had on hand.

That’s it for now.  Happy sewing!


First Things First

This is a post about sewing.

In my last post, I noted that I wanted to focus on sewing some of these great historic dresses.  This will, no doubt, challenge my sewing skills considerably but I think that is a good thing.  I don’t want to turn away from challenges and that’s what I typically do where my sewing is concerned.

I have decided, therefore, to commit to only 3 projects this year.  Yes, that’s right, 3 projects.  They are big projects that will not only require a lot of time but will be a bit on the pricey side, considering that 2 of them will require more fabric and expensive fabric. (I’ve done this so that I can resist the temptation to buy more fabric that will sit in my stash for too long!) I also think they will challenge me considerably but I think they will be a lot of fun and certainly force me to slow down on my sewing.  I tend to be an instant gratification type of person and these projects will certainly make me slow down.

So, without further adieu, here we go.

My first project of the year will be this outfit:


I’m making this for Dapper Days at Disneyland in April.  I thought a Jungle Cruise theme would be cool.  I just pulled out the pattern and made my adjustments on the pattern today.  I am making this in cotton twill because I think it will be far too hot in Southern California for anything else.  As I read through the instructions, I realized that this project will be teaching me many new skills.  Funny, because the pattern says that it is for a person of average skills.  Welp, um, yeah.  Average skills are about what I am but I still haven’t done many of the things required for this jacket – welt pockets, shoulder pads, and things like that.  I will most likely need to make a top to go underneath the jacket and I have a great idea for a scarf that I will make through Spoonflower.

Second up, is this gown:




This will be my first foray into 18th Century dressmaking.  Not only will I be making the gown but I will be making the undergarments as well.   Corsetry is new to me so it will be interesting to see how it turns out.  This will also be quite expensive because I plan on using some pretty spectacular fabric for the gown.  I haven’t even shopped for the fabric yet but it’s on the list.

Third, and final, just in time for Christmas, is something I saw just today that I had to have:M7732_aThis one is so lovely, I just couldn’t resist!  I’m not sure if it’s 18th Century (maybe late 18th Edwardian) but I don’t care – I love it!  Those who are into this type of sewing seem to be very specific on eras.  I’m not there yet and just doing it because I love it so much!  I’m not sure if the corset I will make, above, will work with this (I don’t think it will).  If not, I will have to buy the accompanying pattern for the correct era.  We will see.

So, there you have it.  Three projects, lots of fabric, and lots of challenge.  We’ll see what happens.  Wish me luck.  I’ll need it.


Back to Normal

Ah, the end of the holidays.  I can get the house back in order, get back on a schedule, say goodbye to the flu.  It’s raining outside for the first time this season and it’s nice to have a quiet house with just me, my dog, and my cats. The Christmas decorations have been taken down, school and work started back up, and all is right with the world again.

January has been anything but quiet.  I’ve been very busy with my own job and gearing up for 2018.  As I said in my last post, I haven’t made any particular goals and, truth be told, I wrote that post when I was knee-deep in flu and not feeling very well at all.  But, I do have somewhat of a list of things I want to do.


Sewing is, of course, back on my plate.  But, instead of sewing everyday clothing, I plan on focusing more on costuming.  I’ve always been enraptured with historic dresses and so I’ve decided to try to make one. I bought the book above and it’s the best book I have seen on the subject.  I have the patterns all set up for the dresses below, and I’m sure the thing will take me all year to finish but I think it will be a fun venture.

van cortlandt meredith barnes dec2017 W-50

Second, I have gained far too much weight in 2017.  I went to the doctor when I had the flu and I was shocked that my weight had gone up higher than I have ever been.  So, yeah, I’m back on my Cookinglight diet and counting my calories.  I’m also exercising regularly and have joined a really great Facebook fitness page.  I know it sounds cliché at the beginning of the year but I would have started sooner had I not been so sick.


I should also be able to go live with my own business, Wag the Pet.  I am making all natural dog treats and will be adding dog beds, collars and leashes, among other things.  I’m very excited for this to begin as it has been in the works for some time. More on that when the time comes.

So, there it is. I hope the beginning of your year is off to a good start.


Not A Year In Review

Hi, everyone.  Merry Christmas.


I end that Merry Christmas with a period rather than an exclamation point quite intentionally. Frankly, it’s all I can muster after the past week.

The entire household has been very sick with the flu this past week and we have all been trying to nurse each other back to health as best we can. Luckily, this morning we were feeling better and had a quiet Christmas morning, thankful to still be alive after the hell we have all experienced. We are still quarantined and bedridden, but able to finally reach out via social media at the very least.

So, to reconnect with the outside world,  I began to read all the posts in my bloglovin’ feed and saw that, rather than Merry Christmas posts, everyone is doing their end of the year reviews and plans for 2018. I can’t help but ask myself how these bloggers do it!?  How are they so on top of their lives that they can already be planning for next year?


I don’t know about you but I haven’t planned a damn thing for next year.  Not one.  Oh, sure, I have some general ideas of things that I know are coming down the pipeline but other than that, I’m just along for the ride.

And just as I write this, my eyes fall on the really cool life planner I bought mid-year that I started to keep but like writing, let fall by the wayside.

Then, I realize that blogs aren’t real life. They are just little slips of fantasy that someone has written –  mini novels, as it were, with really great pictures. Blogs are not reality and the bloggers are all writing the same things at the same time – like the end-of-year reviews and plans for the next year posts. And I find myself flipping through them like a magazine because there is little of anything of interest there for me.

And so write my own blog post. A little more down to earth.  A little less perfect.  And all me.


Hollywood is Late to the Game

film-2233661_1920I have been following the Harvey Weinstein story very closely.  I will not reiterate what he did.  Everyone knows.  I have something to say on this and it’s a bit long but I hope it is not too boring.  Let me preface this by saying I completely sympathize with the women involved in this.  Every one of us women (and some men) have been in a similar situation – more than once, I’d wager.  Please understand that I am not bringing the victims into question.  I totally understand why they did not speak up.  It’s a common thing to keep it to yourself and just warn others to caution.  I also know that I sound a bit heartless in trying to make my point and that is not my intention but given my proclivity to deride the media, it’s understandable.

But, I get ahead of myself.  Here it goes.

This morning while watching Emma Thompson’s interview on the subject (it went viral yesterday), it occurred to me that Hollywood is late to the game.

Go with me on this.  Ever since the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill incident (1991 – Thomas, as a supreme court nominee, was accused of sexually harassing Hill), the term sexual harassment has been at the forefront of workplace behavior.  Corporate America stepped up its game and put everyone through sensitivity training, clearly detailing what to do if you felt you were a victim, what to do if a victim told you, what steps to take, and the consequences of such action. Managers went through specialized training, letting them know the legal consequences to themselves and the company.  Everyone knew, everyone was informed.  Granted, Corporate America did this to cover it’s own ass, not for any feeling about employees, but I believe it created a safer work environment for everyone.

Now, here comes Hollywood almost 30 years after the Thomas/Hill incident.

30 years of casting couch behavior!  What the hell took them so long?

Hollywood has always been at the forefront of everything.  They are the very narrators of our society. They set the trends, the fashion, the politics.  They are the most supportive and vociferous of Gay Rights and Women’s Rights.  They are the most active about Climate Change.  They lend their voices and faces to good causes around the world and use their celebrity in the best ways they know how.

Why didn’t the laws of the United States seep into Hollywood as it made an impact into the rest of Corporate America? The laws apply to them, too.  Or, didn’t they get the memo? How can the very group that sets the standards of our society be so far behind on the implementation?

I guess the adage that absolute power corrupts absolutely is point on in this case.  Those with absolute power (Hollywood) exist in a bubble where people are paid to protect them and are given anything and everything they desire.  It would seem that they even believe they are untouchable at that point.  It’s no wonder that they didn’t get the memo or think it didn’t apply to them.  Nothing exists outside that bubble so why worry about it?

But, what I found most interesting about Emma Thompson’s interview is that, to her, this reveal is a new phenomenon. She speaks of it as if she speaks for all women – the self-appointed feminine mouthpiece, if you will, and as if the Thomas/Hill had never happened.  But for many of us, this is just history repeating itself.  We have already had our revelations and younger women in the workforce typically have no qualms about calling out sexual harassment.  Trust me, we all work with them. They are, for the most part, unafraid of speaking out.  So, I couldn’t help but ask about Hollywood, ‘Where have you all been?’

This is not new news.  This is actually old news that Hollywood is only recognizing almost 30 years after the fact.  Is it perhaps that we need reminding every 20-30 years or we slip back into our old ways?  If history repeats itself, maybe so. Or, did Hollywood really miss things the first time around?

This really just solidifies what I have known all along: that celebrities are completely disconnected from the real world.  Why else would they be so shocked and saddened?  Or, is it that it’s just because they are celebrities and trend-setters, that we need to care about it more.  They have their free, open mic with which to pontificate to us lowly and unwashed masses living outside their bubbles so we had best listen up thus, perpetuating the us vs. them mentality.

Why, then, do we allow them to set trends, fashion, politics, if they are so far removed from reality?

Feel free to discuss to your heart’s content.  This is a total safe space for those wishing respectful conversation.


It is so easy to place high expectations and pressures on ourselves.  It’s any wonder we aren’t bent and stooped with the weight.  We self-complicate our lives so much so that when we are unable to live up to our expectations and the world denies us our vision,  we fall a little harder. We choose to beat ourselves up over something that we likely had no control over in the first place.

Here I sit at my desk on a Saturday morning before my son’s soccer game.  I am not particularly happy with the way the last few weeks have gone in my professional life.  My personal life is awesome but my work life could be going better.


It comes right down to the fact that I’m not very good at my current job.  When I took the position 3 months ago, I thought it would be good job for me.  And, it is.  It’s easy, close to home, with good hours. As a result, it’s fairly stress-free.  It doesn’t take a lot of effort or brain power. Knowledge, perhaps, which I have, but nothing any clerk couldn’t do.  Certainly below my pay grade of an MBA.  Yet, I got written up this week for poor performance.

I knew it was coming.  It was no surprise.  I had not been doing a good job of my job.  Too many mistakes and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t seem to get it right. Like quicksand, the harder I struggled, the deeper I sank. It was really no one’s fault but my own and it’s hard to admit that you failed but, admit it I did. Instead of firing me, they demoted me.


I came to terms with a hard truth that I just can’t do it all. Well, let me rephrase that: sure, I could do it all but it didn’t necessarily follow that I would be good at it all. This was the glaring truth of it.  I had failed.

As I turned the information over and over in my head, trying to mentally lick my wounds of embarrassment, wondering how I could have slipped at such an easy job, I was reminded of all the advice that says failure is a lesson in disguise.


This hit me harder than it should have. I am experienced enough to do this job and do it well.  Perhaps I was too arrogant in thinking that this job would be cake. Perhaps I am not transitioning into the workplace with the most grace.  Perhaps the workplace has changed and I haven’t.

But, what I know for sure is that my priorities have shifted.   I’m different, now. Things like promotions and raises just don’t mean as much to me anymore. I still want to do a good job and work very hard.  I am reliable, honest, responsible, productive, and creative.  But, my job isn’t life to me.  My family is life to me. I am life to me.



My weekends and evenings are dear to me. It’s the time I sit with my family around the dinner table and share our days.  It’s the time I cheer on my son at his soccer game. It’s the time I read my books or watch my favorite TV shows.  It’s the time I spend with my husband at Disneyland.  It’s the time I have Sunday brunch with friends.

I hear my co-workers discussing work on their breaks, saying how they had to work over the weekend, answering emails, etc., and I marvel that they make no time for their lives.  They work 12 hours per day.  They have no time for family. They have no time to even get out to walk their dog.  They eat prepackaged food and complain about their weight. They have no time to even get a decent night’s sleep.  They get promotions and praise at work but they have no life outside of it.

Perhaps I haven’t really failed after all.


“A mind needs a book like a sword needs a whetstone.”  Tyrion Lannister, A Song of Ice and Fire



Social media has dumbed me down.

I didn’t realize it until I went onto an old online book discussion board that I used to frequent daily.  I decided to visit it the other day,  read some of the posts, and connect with old friends.  As I read the posts and ideas of these dear fellows,  I realized that I was in way over my head and that could barely keep up with the complex thinking of some of these topics. Topic after topic I read, trying to grasp the points, trying to have an opinion, and failing on all fronts. I soon gave up out of exasperation and I felt a bit embarrassed that, not only could I not follow along,  but that I had nothing to contribute – not even opinions.

The journey to my current situation wasn’t overnight.  It took years and years for my brainpower to degenerate.  I used to be an avid reader, constantly with book in hand.  I enjoyed lively and in-depth discussions on politics, philosophy, religion, and such.  I played many online games that were nothing more than building story-lines through a discussion thread.  It was intellectually exhilarating and I was at the top of my game.

Over time though,  I stopped going to that discussion board  because I was simply tired of it. I lost interest  going over some of the same debates and discussions.  The creativity games ended with nothing to replace them and I began to look elsewhere for my mental stimulation.  My visits became more infrequent until I stopped going altogether. Around the same time, I stopped reading books on a regular basis.

That’s when my social media time increased. I got involved in Facebook and Twitter. Platforms, I might add, that have nothing to do with discussion or creativity but rather, more with memes, falsehoods, advertisements, and other things that do nothing to contribute to the quality of life, except for the funny dog or cat videos.  My information became quick, my responses shorter, my creativity waned, and my curious mind took a vacation. I spent my free time scanning through the information I saw on social media sites without a second thought. And that’s precisely where the problem lays – doing something without a second thought.


As a result of years of this type of activity, I honestly feel that I’ve turned into a lazy thinker.  My brain has become rusty, creaky, and unwilling to engage in complex thought. I used to be a problem solver but these days, I cringe at the thought of having to use my energy to solve a problem.  My memory is shot.  In fact, I don’t even try to remember anything.  Social media has become my memory because I can just “pin” whatever I want to remember, freeing up my mind to be lazy. My curiosity is non-existent so much so that I don’t even think to question anything.

Luckily, I started to read a book again a few weeks ago but as I started, I noticed how hard it was to maintain.  Reading is a skill that I seemed to have lost.  I am still able to focus on the actual process of reading but once I put the book down, I tend to have little interest in picking it back up.   I have to force myself to pick it up again, even though I happen to be thoroughly engaged with the book I’m currently reading.  I have trained myself to the short information spurts of social media rather than the longer, richer adventure a book can provide.  I need to re-train myself to enjoy this long adventure.  I need to exercise my brain which has atrophied far worse than my body has.


Thankfully, as I have noticed these changes, I have also spent less time on social media and it is a very nice break.  I feel more calm, happier, and aware of the world around me.  I feel that I have more relaxation time especially since my evenings are spent reading and not watching TV or surfing the ‘net.

So, have you read any good books lately?




I’m Feeling Down


I didn’t sleep well last night.  In fact, I haven’t been sleeping well for the past few months.  This is due, I’m sure, to bad diet and lack of exercise.

My knees hurt all the time now and as per my doctor, I need to keep exercising to keep them from deteriorating further. But, that just makes them hurt even more and I am struggling to walk, let alone do full exercise programs.

I take pain medication to sleep at night and take one of the nighttime formula pills (supposedly non-habit forming) to help me sleep.  When I don’t take these, I don’t sleep.  They sometimes won’t even work when I do take them.

My diet has been shit.  I’m craving lots of sugar and junk food. I’m drinking more wine. I’m overeating, even though I know it will give me horrible indigestion at night (probably another reason I can’t sleep).  I give into the cravings and do not feel guilty about indulging.  As a result, my clothes have gotten tighter. I feel unhealthy and I’ve almost regained all the weight I lost 3 years ago.


To make myself feel better, I shop.  I buy things I need but I splurge on the price.   This shopping phase will end.  It always does.  But, it is a bear when I’m going through it. It’s  my downfall.  Big time!  I shop to feel better about myself. I eat out more often and buy more expensive things and that I do feel guilty about.

Now that I am employed, I should be saving.  Instead, I’m spending like it’s going out of style.  I’m eating like it’s my last meal. My self-discipline has flown out the window and I am desperately trying to get it back.

These are typically a lonely time for me and I find that kind of sad.  No one really understands the anxiety it can create except those who go through it and those who I would normally turn to either do not know what to do for me or do not care enough to help.

My husband is sympathetic and supportive and has seen me go through this phase before but he wisely keeps his words to love and support, knowing that any criticism will release the Dogs of War from me. My son is young and quick to give me hugs but stays close to Dad because when I’m this low, I do not govern my emotions well.


Other family members who I try to open up to  tend to just give me lip service. I’m not high on the family totem pole and they are dismissive of me more often than not. Their apathy is hurtful but sadly,  doesn’t surprise me.


So, it is a lonely time for me and one that I have to pull myself out of.  This time is a little more difficult for me.  My knee pain is distracting. School and soccer season have begun. I don’t have the energy to eat well after the end of the day.

But, I must find a way through it, as I always do. I just hate it while I’m here.