August 19, 2011

The Biggest Mess/Obsession of All

Hi there! I’ve been keeping a pretty low profile the past month or so. Standing as far away as possible from a knitting needle, sewing machine, pasta machine, yarn, embroidery thread, hoops, fabric, notions! And I’m telling you, I have never been happier. I have a feeling that’s all about to change as Halloween and Christmas crafts begin to pop up. I have a folder on my computer at work that holds wish lists of things I want to make. The folder is getting larger and larger, but I’m really interested to share my latest and greatest obsession. The craftiest mess of all time, well, maybe, not as bad as a pasta bits stuck to the inner most corners of the machine, but a fairly big mess that I’ve been working behind the scenes trying to make some headway on.

What is this crafty mess you may ask? I won’t keep you waiting a minute more.

It’s me!

Standing at 4’11”, I am the biggest crafty mess of all when it comes to style, wardrobe, all things me. I work two really challenging jobs. I love them so much and am lucky to have them and am forever grateful that I get to work in a super creative environment surrounded by talented people that I learn from each day. I work in a man’s world and I only want to be judged by talent, not appearance nor gender, so often style takes a back seat. I cover up winter, spring, fall and summer in blue jeans, flip flops and an oversized hoodie. My hair has been pulled up in a bun since high school and the little bit of makeup I own has seen better days. However, that is all about to change. For the last few months, I’ve decided to put the crafts aside, for monetary reasons and really focus on myself. I lost so many quality things in Hurricane Katrina, it’s been hard for me to want to reward myself with fun things in fear that it may all be taken away again. However, the wonderful feeling I get knowing my husband and I are this amazing team, has made me see things in a new and different light. I don’t want life to pass me by and my tombstone to read: “She really liked to wear old jeans!” haha, not to worry, more than anything, I do not have a serious attitude about all this stuff. In fact, I poke a lot of fun at it. In order to document this change, I’ve decided to blog about it and I would love for you to visit the blog and catch up with me as I’ve been scouring the web and online sales to learn more about fashion, beauty, expensive purses I can’t own and Kate Middleton. So far it’s been about 2 months and a lot of fun and already I can see and feel a difference. I stand up a little taller and realize that focusing on appearance enhances all aspects of my life! Don’t worry, though. I haven’t given up crafting for good. Just setting it aside while I focus on a few more important things!

August 1, 2011

Krewe de Fail

It’s been awhile since we last spoke. I have been firmly sticking to my ‘no crafting’ plan for the last few weeks and let me tell you, I am a lot less stressed. However, I did slide a little this past week and revisited a craft fail from the past, The New Orleans King Cake. I’ve been failing long before this blog went into effect. Unfortunately, I didn’t document a lot of those earlier fails but let’s all catch up and relive the great bake fail of Mardi Gras 2011. This is a bit of a lengthy read, but then we are talking about the KING CAKE!

Every year around Mardi Gras season, I long for those yummy King Cakes that you can only find in New Orleans. Whether it be a Randazzo’s or a Haydel’s version, the King Cake lives in a kingdom of its own. Purple, green and gold sugar, sprinkled over a thick sugary glaze on a brioche style cake, filled with cinnamon or jam, cream cheese, chocolate, almost anything you can think of. And of course, let’s not forget that famous king cake baby, which represents the Epiphany, where the three kings search and discover the baby Jesus. (I didn’t even have to wiki that one, every good Catholic New Orleanian knows this!). I usually send for a king cake each year, but while they may only cost $15 at Rouses, it costs about $50 to have one shipped! I don’t need the beads or a Mardi Gras cup, nor do I need the history of the king cake sent with it. In fact, Randazzo’s should make a special king cake for those of us former residents. Anyway, I decided that I could make one. I researched many recipes and while I should have stuck to reliable ol’ Marcelle Bienvenue, I opted for John Besh’s recipe. Making the dough was actually fairly easy. In fact, it was a success until I had to braid the dough. I handled the dough for too long and it eventually just broke apart. I baked it anyway but it was a mess. Needless to say, I had no king cake and another Mardi Gras passed me by. My mom was well aware of this disaster and promised to help me next time. Not like she had baked one before but she has the patience of St. Monica. I didn’t know that one off hand, but I’ll be praying to her from now on and declare her the Patron Saint of Crafts.

Well, that promise turned into a reality last weekend while visiting my parents. My mom purchased a Mam PaPaul’s mix from Zuppardo’s on Transcontinental. It had been in the pantry for months waiting for me to arrive, or as I like to call it to Search and Destroy! It came with everything minus butter and eggs. And I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical. People just don’t sit around making king cakes. You leave that sort of task to professionals.

One of the first steps was to knead the dough and yeast in the provided paper bag. This was genius and not messy! I’m always taking off my rings when I work with dough and here I am watching my mom knead it in bag. (I was her assistant, wink, wink). Next, it kneaded to rise(can’t help myself). The directions suggest heating up your oven for two minutes on the lowest setting and then turning it off. Place the dough, still in the bag, in the oven, in an oven-safe dish of course and watch it rise! Genius again!

Once the dough was ready to be rolled out, my mom and I witnessed a turn of events. My dad was watching us roll at the dough and in his opinion, we were doing it wrong! So he pretty much swiped the rolling pin and the project out from under us and got to work. He rolled that dough like a madman! I was shocked! Where did this come from? I had one of those moments where you realize your parents really are human and they actually knew how to do stuff before you appeared! But you know, he rolled that with love and maybe that’s what my problem is. I bake to finish. Gosh, still learning from my parents!

After the dough was rolled, my dad let me assist with jellyrolling the praline filling into the dough and that was pretty much my last contribution to the cake. My dad baked and then even went so far to decorate the cake.

Look at that! Isn’t it beautiful?? And, why does it have a chunk taken out of it? Well, my mom had to try it before she served it to people. And??? FAN-TAS-TIC!!! In fact, it was as good as any king cake I have ever had. Not nearly as sugary as the real thing, which was kind of nice. I was so proud of my parents for pulling this whole thing off. We served it at our weekly Favaloro Fam-Jam. There was not a crumb left.

While I maybe completed 10% of the work, it was reassuring to know that they did not pass an impatient gene on to me. I’m not quite sure where I got it from. Maybe it’s all in my head and that I use my parents as an excuse for my impatience. Could I be turning over a new leaf? Will I have to rename my blog? I need to find a baking project to solidify that maybe I’m not a crafty mess. Maybe I’m a crafty maven? Stay tuned…

July 7, 2011

Jane’s Addiction

So I still haven’t crafted anything. It’s been a little over  a week and I have to say, I’m doing okay. But like most addicts recovering from an addiction, they often trade one addiction for another. Some say, Angelina Jolie traded her drug addiction for an adoption addiction! Imagine to being addicted to having as many kids as possible! Wow! Well, I have decided to learn everything there possibly is about luxury fashion. It’s all due to the fact that I dress like a 12 year old tomboy, and at my ripe old age of 33, it’s time to dress a little more age appropriate. However, I don’t want to just go on a shopping spree! I want to adopt the idea of dressing like an elegant French sophisticate! Classic, timeless pieces, a fab expensive bag, perfect shoes for every occasion, ooh la la!

At one point, I had a shoe closet to rival Carrie Bradshaw, but having lost everything in Hurricane Katrina, I have had this overdue dread to buy stuff worth anything. I’ve had this attitude for the last 5 years that stuff is stuff and it goes faster than it comes. Depressing, n’est-ce pas? Well, I’m slowly climbing out of that mindset and ready to make up for some lost time. I mean, I actually just purchased a dresser yesterday. For the last 5 years my stuff has been in plastic bins! It’s time to move forward so I hope you check it out.

Welcome to My Diary:

June 30, 2011

Stop Motion Experiment

No, I’m not crafting, I was just working on a little stop motion experiment that I think you might enjoy. It sort of happened by accident, or my inability to stay still, that I got this nice little natural blur so I decided to go for it and create motion within the stop motion.

June 27, 2011

Don’t Be Cruel

Once again, I am 0-???. I’m starting to lose count but I’m not winning. Friday evening, MadMaloney and I were discussing our next creative projects and one thing we both agreed upon was that it would be nice to have new potholders. Brilliant! It’s a square, it’s useful and that’s about it. I have tons of scraps sitting around and I could make at least 3-4 on Saturday afternoon. So I did some research and found a bunch of free potholder tutorials online. All I would need to buy? Some bias tape for the edging and some heat-resistant batting. I already had some really cool Elvis fabric that I purchased in Graceland.

Saturday morning I set out for Hobby Lobby feeling rejuvenated from previous failures and confident that today would be the day I begin to pull myself out of this sewing slump, this losing streak that I spend sleepless nights analyzing mistakes upon mistakes. And I was going to do it with potholders no less. As I stood waiting for my Insul-Brite heat resistant batting to be cut, the salesgirl asked me what I intended to make. I felt like a kid sharing my most precious secret, “I’m making potholders”. “Oh, what a great idea. And so simple”, she said. “I may buy some of this today and make some too”. The difference between me and the salesgirl? Hers probably came out okay.

Well, I measured and cut out squares really neatly with my rotary cutter and even decided to try out some quilting techniques with the layers and layers of fabric. Easy peasy! My sewing machine and I are finally becoming friendly. I wish I could say that these came out okay but they are a disaster and for once (okay not for once), but I don’t really know what happened. All I know is they are messy as sin! The pictures are forgiving, but the amount of mess and loopy threads hanging out all over the place is amazing. See for yourself:

Look at the details of mess!

What are these loops everywhere?

This bias tape is not easy to play with.

I can’t even sew a straight square. And I’m so bummed about this, that I’m taking a little break from crafting for awhile. It’s not too expensive of a hobby, but I don’t see any progress. MadMaloney seems to think I don’t like to follow directions and maybe there is a little truth to that, but I really do want to succeed at this. I just need a little time to reflect and regroup. That being said, I did just receive a vintage pattern set of Barbie clothes 🙂

June 20, 2011

It’s My Pajama Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m not trying to fail, I just get confused sometimes. Today’s project is another fine example why this blog exists. I didn’t just fail at my first attempt at a wearable EASY pair of pajama pants, I lost control, hit rock bottom, flopped, missed the boat and the pajama party I was hoping to have wearing my new drawstring pants!

It all started because I got too excited with the success of my reversible bag. I figured I had the hang of this sewing thing and I want to keep pushing myself a little further with each new project. I found a great FREE pattern on the Simplicity website for drawstring pajama pants. I had flashbacks of the sewing class I took back in the summer of 1986 when I attempted to sew a similar pair of pants. I failed those with flying colors, but I was also 8! I’ve learned to follow directions since then and there’s no way I could fail again. I set out to my local Hancock fabrics with seersucker in mind and this is what I found:

It’s a bit more madras print then seersucker, but I thought it was cute and summery, plus anything will be an upgrade from MadMaloney’s flannel plaid pants that I’ve swiped. I also realized once I washed the fabric that it has quite a bit of stretch to it. That should have been my first sign to run, but I have been determined for the last few weeks to make these pants. Now for the pattern. The beauty of this pattern was that it was free, the ugly of this pattern was that I had to print out 25 pages from my printer and then piece the thing together, but I guess that’s what I get for being a cheapskate.

So I taped and I taped and pulled it apart and put it back together  and then I taped some more. And then I had a cocktail and I think that made the process a lot more enjoyable.

And yes, I couldn’t find regular scotch tape but I think the blue painters tape worked just fine. What do you expect? I’m a mess! I decided I had done enough for one evening so I put it to bed so I could be fresh and sober when I started cutting the pattern. In retrospect, sober is irrelevant when it comes to me and sewing crafting.

I spent all of Friday evening spread out across my bedroom floor cutting out the pattern. MadMaloney was out for the evening meeting with a client on a new skull ring. His jewelry skills are insane. I am coming to the realization that there may not be enough room for two talented folks in our household, but he wasn’t home so I figured I was queen of that throne for the evening! Honestly, the cutting went pretty well, even if I disregarded the fact that those notches they tell you to cut out should really line up.

Everything is sort of nicely cut, and then came the buttonhole. Figuring out how to attach the buttonhole foot wasn’t as painful as I thought but trying to sew the hole was a nightmare. I think I may have spent 2-3 hours practicing on scrap fabrics until I finally threw in the madras fabric and decided “MY PANTS ARE NOT GOING TO HAVE A DRAWSTRING” I am only sleeping in them, I don’t care! On to the sewing. I can sew a straight line. Whoo hoo, I’m home free. And then this happened:

I sewed the crotch right up to the waistline and learned that if you don’t line up the notches then you might be exposing yourself. Once again, F for failure, F for flop, F for EFF THIS! I am feeling a little defeated today but after some unsuccessful reflection on what went wrong, I’ve decided maybe a shirt would be easier!

I’ll leave you with this. It’s My Party and I’ll cry if I want to, you would cry too if it happened to you. Who needs pajama pants anyway?

June 17, 2011

Memphis Beat, Vol. 2

Hi there and Happy Friday! I thought I’d share some more Memphis trip photos and this time it’s all about the food! Once again, all taken with the Instagram!

Check out all the amazing dishes we had:

BBQ Ribs at Blues City Cafe

BYOB (Build Your Own Burger) At Sole in the Westin

Salmon Panini at Sole in the Westin

Gus’s Famous Spicy Fried Chicken

and of course, DYER’S! This is the Filthy Diablo!

June 14, 2011

Memphis Beat

Hi there friends! I just returned from my annual Memphis trip and had to share some of the amazing photos that I captured with my free iPhone app, Instagram. I have so many that I’ll share a few every couple of days, this way I don’t overload you, and hopefully, you’ll remain intrigued. And if you are an Instagram user, follow me at littlechrissie

Being from New Orleans, the idea of taking a carriage ride seems like a tourist trap. However, I have to say, this carriage was a great way to see downtown Memphis and look at this awesome carriage!

June 7, 2011

All You Got To Do Is Try…Try A Little Animation

Okay, i’m reaching for that title, but I’m heading to Stax Museum on Thursday and I love Otis Redding. In the meantime, check out some of my animation experiments created in After Effects

The Rules: No Effects, Limited Color Palette, 2-3 Hour Time Limit

June 6, 2011

A Woman Is A Woman (with a new bag!)

So it pains me to tell you that my latest sewing adventure definitely gets a passing grade. Sewing enthusiasts may think otherwise but then I’ll send them over to Burdastyle if they are interested in properly executed projects.

Saturday morning I set out to start my first real sewing project: the super cute reversible hobo bag from verypurpleperson, called the Charlie Bag. I decided to visit my local Hancock Fabrics to survey the goods. I love watching Project Runway and I thought it would be fun if I only gave myself 30 minutes to find my two fabric choices. That is so hard when you have no idea what you are looking for. I stared at the wall of cotton fabrics for a half hour before I even touched anything. I pulled out at least 10 different combinations before I finally decided on a red Hawaiian pattern and a flowery yellow pattern. It’s fair at best. The fabric cost a total of $12 so I figured when I mess up, it wouldn’t have cost me too much.

I printed out the pattern and instructions and got to work. One of my favorite French New Wave films, Une Femme est Une Femme (A Woman Is a Woman), played in the background as I began cutting the fabric.

I think I cut for what seemed like hours but alas I had all the pieces ready to be sewn. I had never sewn darts before and I sure am glad I took the time to find a video tutorial because darts meant something different to me than it does in the sewing world. Had I not, this project would have been sent straight to the mother of all fail blogs, Craft Fail. Needless to say, the darts were a small victory. I got through the sewing portion pretty easily but when I had completely finished sewing up the straps, I realized that I had sewn them wrong. Maybe it doesn’t look too bad but the seam is running down the middle. You’ll also notice that the straps are all different thicknesses but I never said I was perfect!

I did take the time to rip out the seams and resew the straps correctly and VOILA! I got a bag:

Yes it’s so cute! Yes it has plenty of problems. I had no idea how to hide the fraying fabric edges but I don’t care. Some people are perfectionists, I am not one of those people. I like to see, “the hand of the artist”, in my work and it shows all over! I”ll be walking in Memphis, walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale!