Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cooking #1: Nems

I am going to do a slight turn as a cooking blog.  Ha!  Not really, but I am going to try to make something every week or so from my new cookbook and I'd like to share the results with you.  I'll label the posts, so you can avoid the cooking ones if that's not your thing!

So this is the new cookbook, and frankly the presentation makes everything look super delicious and NOT SCARY to make:

So, we attacked the spring rolls (nems, in French) recipe first because I love that!!

Here are some prep pictures:

Shredded carrots and mushrooms:

Shredded onions and parsley

And here are the noodles...

I said 'we' prepared the nems, but that's not really true, unless you consider documenting the process as preparing. ;)  In fact, my new boyfriend did all the work.  Yeah, so that...that's the main reason that the blog has been so silent.  My husband and I have divorced, but the whole process has been pretty smooth.  My husband and I have been able to stay friends so far, and as we are both motivated to remain so, I think we'll be able to make it work.  

Anyhow, here's introducing K., the man who did all the cooking (that's his hobby), about to enjoy a nice pint in London:

So all of the following is his magnificent and delicious onions, pork, mushrooms, noodles, etc.

The pile waiting to be fried:

And now, the frying...

On a scale of five stars, K. places the result at a solid four stars: **** !  The recipe is stamped and approved and the taste was yum, yum, yum.  The form wasn't quite there yet, the first nems were a bit too long and skinny, hence the four out of five. ;)

Ready to eat!

With a nice salad:

It was delicious...and nearly like in the photo!

Recipe ingredients:

10 black mushrooms
1 handful of rice noodles
2 garlic cloves
2 small onions (shallot)
1 carrot
6 shrimp (uncooked)
1 chile pepper
1 bunch of coriander
1 bunch of mint
1/2 bunch of green onions
1 handful of soy beans
200 g of ground pork
1 tablespoon of nuoc-mam sauce
30 rice sheets
oil for frying

Now we just need to choose the next recipe...and maybe I'll chop something... ;)

Friday, September 12, 2014

An Orléans Fashion Update!!

It's time for our monthly whenever-I-feel-like-it fashion update with Edith, the woman's rag in Orléans.

Here's what they feel are the must-have fall looks...what do you think, does this look like fashion in your city??

This plaza is just outside of my new apartment!

A little Archer, any one?

I feel like the red shoes push the matchy-matchiness too far; otherwise I like this outfit.  But with black shoes.  What do you think?

And for the kids...

 Or for the adults, why not? ;)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Blog, Interrupted

I moved!!!  There have been some changes in my personal life that put my crafting life on hold.  I am finally on vacation, so I'm taking advantage of the free time to try to organize and decorate my new apartment.

Here's a view of my new living room, complete with cats:

 Looking more toward the kitchen:

With a little luck, I'll even start sewing again before I have to go back to work.  I want to start with something quick and easy.  So I'm thinking of re-using a pattern I know.  But, of course, those new  patterns are tempting.  I think I've pretty much decided, but here are my choices.

First, in tops, I'm thinking another Renfrew, another little peasant blouse, or another short-sleeve shirt of some kind.

OK, you're right.  I decided already.  I want to make this Lisette top in this crazy owl fabric.  I know, it's a little too much.  But I think the slouchy look with the crazy fabric ... and the right pants ... could totally work.  Is it too crazy?


On the short-list is another dress ... I'm leaning toward the maxi knit dress in a turquoise jersey.  But starting a new project in jersey is not my idea of easing into it!!

I like the two Lisette dresses - a lot - but I don't have the appropriate fabric to make them.  And I am absolutely positively sewing from my stash!!

Otherwise, I did finish some sewing recently.  I finally finished my Colette Beignet, but it's too big.  And I really don't want to go back in and shrink it up.  There's the lining and all that.  So I'll live with this version being too big and if I make another one, I'll go down a size.  But doing all those buttons was a wee bit of a chore, so I don't envisage another one right away.  One day I'll put up a F.O. photo ... one day

In the meantime, enjoy some cat pictures. ;)

Oohh, gonna getcha!!

'Til next time!!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Finished Object: Spring Tunic using Simplicity 2365

I love this make!  Technically speaking, it's not my best work.  I haven't had much time to sew lately, so the skills are a bit rusty.  But the fabric is so happy and soft!  It's like wearing a spring day. :)

I sewed the tunic version (version A of Simplicity 2365), but I shortened it by about 4 inches.  In fact, I imagine I shortened it to be the length of version B.  I sewed on the sleeve tabs, but ultimately I left off the buttons because I can't see myself ever rolling and pinning up the sleeves.

I can see myself making another version of this.  I quite like the mandarin collar and I did a better job making this one than I did with the last one (Simplicity 2339).

I didn't originally plan on pairing it with these pants (as I had intended this fabric to become a dress!) but I'm glad that they work together because I don't have much to match with these green trews.

Not much to add, technically or style-wise.  I put some buttons in the middle, just for fun.  The fabric is a bit transparent, so a camisole underneath is advised. :)

As you may have noticed,  I'm not participating in Me-Made-May this year.  I don't have enough me-mades in my wardrobe to be able to manage something every day.  And honestly even a fun challenge like this is too much on my plate right now!  But I'm enjoying following what everybody else is doing and hopefully I'll be back on the wagon next year. 

One parting shot...

I hope everyone's enjoying some sunshine - have a nice weekend!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

St. Fargeau

Warning: this is not sewing related!  This is me geeking out and reminiscing.

My master's thesis back in graduate school was an analysis of La Grande Mademoiselle's (Anne Marie Louise d'Orléans) memoirs.  An essential part of that analysis was about how she created her persona: via texts, via physical representations (portraits, etc.) and via estate-building.  Well, I finally got to visit the chateau that she is most associated with during her exile: St. Fargeau.

While the castle suffered during the Revolution and then afterward, through neglect, it was renovated in the late 70's and early 80's.  It's privately owned and still suffers from a lack of funding, but it's definitely better than it was 40 years ago.

Montpensier transformed what was essentially a medieval defensive castle into a neo-classical 17th beauty.  Here are some photos of the outside, with its large park in the back:

The inside needs more love.  Nonetheless, here are some shots (with a before and after renovation), plus an extract of Mme. de Sévigné's witty letter about Montpensier's supposed marriage:

There were many, many representations of La Grande Mademoiselle around the castle, in various degrees of preservation.  Because these were essential to my master's thesis, I made a little collage of these too:

However, the portrait which was the key to my analysis is not here.  It's at Versailles.  Here's a link.  And here's the portrait:

And, because I'm a dork, here we are together:

Happy Easter everybody!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Nothing to Say

Do you ever go through those times when you feel like you just have nothing to say?  Or, more accurately, nothing worthy to say?  Well, that has been the case for me for months and months now.  But I've been inspired by other bloggers' blues (and their public struggles against it) and decided to just write a post, even if the post doesn't interest anyone but myself.

It's MY freakin' blog, right?!?  Throat clearing noise.  Anyhow, moving on.

So I've recently been reading The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt, which I would describe as a philosophical socioeconomic treatise.  Maybe I just made that sound really boring.  It's not; it's fascinating.  I believe it was originally published in 1958 and some of the things she wrote seem ahead of their time for 1958.  But then what do I know, I wasn't alive in 1958.

For example, she writes, with my comment in parentheses:

"the spare time of the animal laborans [i.e., humans] is never spent in anything but consumption, and the more time left to him, the greedier and more craving his appetites.  That these appetites become more sophisticated, so that consumption is no longer restricted to the necessities but, on the contrary, mainly concentrates on the superfluities of life, does not change the character of this society, but harbors the grave danger that eventually no object of the world will be safe from consumption and annihilation through consumption.
    The rather uncomfortable truth of the matter is that the triumph the modern world has achieved over necessity is due to the emancipation of labor, that is, to the fact that the animal laborans was permitted to occupy the public realm; and yet, as long as the animal laborans remains in possession of it, there can be no true public realm, but only private activities displayed in the open."

Like this blog. 

But the reason I quote this part - from her section on labor - is that it seems extremely relevant, not only to blogging, but also to the consumer awareness (and inherent consumption) that is part of the maker revolution of which seamstresses, etc. are a part.

I generally try to avoid doing this kind of thing on my blog because I feel like I'll seem pretentious.  But today, I say, f*ck it, I am pretentious, there are worse things.  And I think her ideas are worth quoting.

Also, quite fascinating, is her discussion of the root for the word object.  Apparently it is a derivative of the Latin verb obicere, meaning "something thrown" or "put against".  So inherent in the word is the idea of standing against something, or withstanding time and/or forces, pressures, etc.  She talks about humans defining themselves against objects.  Our rapidly declining (dying) bodies being contrasted against objects which can and do outlast us.  And defining who we are via these objects, i.e. establishing meaning in the fact that I use this object (brand, whatever) over another object.  That this object can then stand in for me as a place marker. 

I realize that those aren't new ideas, but still, I enjoy the visceral reminder that we humans are creating those objects and the meanings attached to those objects and that all of it is just sorta improvised.  I find it beautiful and tragic at the same time.  We are so imaginative and self-deluding. 

But the other part of that quote, that there is "no true public realm," has to do with political power structures and civil liberties, I believe.  Who has access to what, who participates in what decisions, etc.  And if we are chiefly concerned with trying to create some kind of immortality with objects - or prolong our life cycle (consumption) as much as possible - we are focused primarily on the self and less on the social.  I'm working with the definition that political structures are there to regulate how people interact with other people (and governments with other governments).  So our (previously) private, personal relationships with objects (and perhaps, but not necessarily, with the creation of those objects) becomes more important than our interactions with other, equally dying, people. 

Or that we interact with other people via the object, again, giving some kind of precedence to the object.  Subordinating our social behavior to the forms dictated by the object.  Social networking, anyone? 

Anyhow, that's just me thinking out loud.  And using an object to deliver my thoughts via a specific social platform. ;)  Any thoughts?

And because they say no blog post without a photo shall there be, here's a photo:

One of my objects, on which I had advanced quite considerably, and decided to rip out.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Anouk by Victory Patterns

The Anouk by Victory Patterns: this shirt has been finished for at least a month.  I've just been waiting for some sunshine to peek its head so that I could take photos.

I made version 2, the tunic.  I cut the bust along the 35 1/2 cm. pattern because the finished size is 37 1/2 cm, which is my size.  I perhaps could have gone up a size because it is tight across the shoulders and upper back.  Although I think next time I'll use the same size and simply take out less fabric with the back pin tucks.

I paired a white, embroidered fabric that I got from my friend Indira with an Alexander Henry fabric called Oxford Butterfly.  I think it's a cotton lawn from the Fulham Road collection.  And I used vintage buttons that I bought on Etsy.

I am definitely making more versions of this.  I'd like to make the dress, both with and without sleeves.  And I'd like another version of the tunic.  I guess you could say that I'm pretty happy with the pattern!

The overall effect is a little more prairie girl than I was going for.  I played it up deliberately here for the pics, with my cowboy boots.  But I had originally thought the result would be more sophisticated.  Still, I like it.  I've already worn it nearly once a week since I finished it.  I normally pair it with a belt, as above, because otherwise I think it makes me look pregnant.  I included a picture in the collage, just so you can see the difference.

As far as technical remarks, I don't really have any.  I think the pattern is well-drafted and the instructions are well-written.  I'm a fan of the brand and I got myself several patterns for Christmas: the Ava and the Nicola.  But honestly I love all the patterns!