After the wedding was over (and with it all the planning that had taken up so much of our time for so many months), I kept getting asked what I was going to do with all my new free time when I got home. My answer was, “Whatever I want!”. I knew I wouldn’t have a hard time finding things to do and just a couple of days after we got home, I got an email asking me if I wanted to be pattern tester for Jennifer Lauren‘s new Cressida Skirt Pattern. Hell yeah, I did! I jumped on that opportunity. I had never been a pattern tester before, but I loved the idea of being a part of something like that and that it had a deadline. Deadlines are good. Plus, I got the pattern for free!

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This was my first time sewing with a pdf pattern. I don’t know why I had shied away from it for so long. If all pdf patterns are this easy to assemble, then I was scared for no reason. I’m glad I had a good first experience with a pdf pattern, because it just opened me up to a bunch of patterns I’d been avoiding because they do not come in a printed version… like more of Jennifer Lauren’s patterns. Hello Bronte top!

It was a fairly quick sew and the instructions were very clear. I didn’t do a muslin, because I figured that since it was a circle skirt, all I really had to do was make sure the waist fit, so that saved time. I think it looks cute that it sits at my actual waist, but if I make it again, I’ll probably make it a size bigger, just so it sits a little lower on the hips, but that’s just a personal preference for how I like my skirts to fit.

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I also love that it has pockets. The pattern is designed very well, so the pockets stay closed and don’t flare out at all.

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The fabric I used is a “Strawberry” Chambray from Pacific Fabrics. How could I resist with a name like that? I’m also proud of myself for picking a solid colored fabric for a change. As a result, this skirt will make a nice staple. I think I am finally getting better at making things I will actually wear. It goes so well with my Violet Blouse too!

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Practicing my model “step” move.

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source: www.buttonlovers.com

The buttons I used looked kind of like strawberries to me, so I thought they would go perfect with the “Strawberry” Chambray fabric.

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front

Here it is on the dress form, so you can see what it looks like without a belt.

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back

In the final pattern, I think that the belt tabs have been moved forward more towards the center of the front and back. It’s a small thing and I wasn’t unhappy with where they ended up, but I could see how it might look better. Just something to note if you do buy this pattern.

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side

Big thanks to Jennifer Lauren for giving me the opportunity to be a pattern tester for her. Pattern designing seems like such a huge and daunting task and I have no idea how it’s even done. I would imagine there’s a lot of math involved… and patience. So hats off to her for creating such a lovely pattern. This was a great experience for me and I hope I will get to do it again!

I’m ba-ack… from Vermont and the wedding, which was lovely and wonderful, but more on that later! Now that things have calmed down a bit though, I can finally get back to blogging, which feels good! I have so much I want to share about the wedding, but am waiting on photos, so in the meantime, let’s talk about what survived in my garden while I was gone. Carrots!

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My carrots were looking pretty good before I left and I was happy to find that they all kept well underground while I was away. I canned 6 pints of spicy pickled carrots, with the biggest carrots I harvested, but there were still so many smaller carrots that I didn’t want to go to waste. What was I to do with all those baby carrots? Carrot Cake? Carrot muffins? Sure, those can be great, but I just love the look (and taste) of roasted baby carrots and the thought of it felt healthy and seasonal all at the same time. But how could I make them better than just roasted carrots? Add maple syrup of course!

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Mmm, roasted maple goodness.

Maple Glazed Carrots
 
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. of baby carrots, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk olive oil and maple syrup with salt and pepper.
  3. Toss carrots in maple mixture until evenly coated.
  4. Cook for 30-40 minutes, flipping the carrots halfway through. Carrots should be lightly browned on both sides. Serve warm.
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Enjoy!

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Photo by Amy Kiel Photography

My goal when I started this blog was to average a post once a week (since that is what is realistic for my life) and I think I have done a pretty good job of sticking to that. Through all the ups and downs of the last couple of years, through my mom’s illness and death, I somehow managed to keep blogging. It gave me joy, the routine of it was good for keeping me going and it has given me a place to talk about things. I certainly have not gone this long without posting though, but there was another death shortly after my last post (my beloved dog Charlie), and now my wedding is exactly one month away as of today! So life finally won out over blogging.

I’m okay though. Matt and I are so excited for the wedding and we have finally had a chance to work on some of the visual details, which has been super fun and I can’t wait to share it all with you. This has been such a bittersweet year, that I fear I will be crying tears of joy all day at my wedding, just because I will be so happy to be with my loved ones. We will probably just collapse in a heap for our mini-moon in Maine… and that may be just what we need. My plan is to come back from the wedding refreshed and ready to start this new phase of my life.

So I guess I am taking a blog break and I think it is in order. Thank you for all your kind words and encouragement over the last couple of years. Your comments have guided me through some pivotal moments, from grieving the loss of my mother to planning my wedding dress, so I thank you all for that! I look forward to sharing all the wonderful things we made for the wedding (like the invitations, my dress and decorations and such). So see you all back here in a month or so!

I love my garden this time of year, when all the beds are full and everything is growing like crazy. Awhile ago, I did a tour of my studio and figured this would be the perfect time to give a tour of my garden.

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I’ll start with the front yard, since that is where the majority of the beds are. Unfortunately, I don’t have any good “before” pictures of my front yard. When I bought the house in 2007, there was just one raised bed, by the front fence line, and it was all overgrown. The rest was all lawn.

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Over the years we have added to the garden slowly. One year, we added a couple of feed troughs, the next year, two more raised beds, the year after that, cold frames. Slowly, the lawn disappeared.

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There are still more things we want to add to the garden. Our next big project will be to replace the chain link fence with cattle panel fencing. While we’re at it, we’ll probably build trellises for hops as well. I say “we”, but it’s really Matt, he does all the hardscaping.

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I found these great “before” pictures of the back yard.

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Man, it’s come a long way!

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We spend a lot of time out here in the Summer and have spent countless evenings grilling, playing cribbage and sitting by the fire, with friends or just the two of us! The dogs love lounging out here with us too (note the dog dish in the photo above).

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I had always wanted a porch swing and last year, Matt rebuilt the roof over the side porch so that it was strong enough for one. We found the swing itself at Bay Hay on Bainbridge Island. I plan on sewing some cushions for it, so that Mickey can sit with me (it’s currently too hard for his little bum).

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 The back yard is a good example of container gardening and edible landscaping.

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Last but not least, is the chicken coop. These chickens are 7 years old now, so this was one of the first additions to my little urban farm. At the time, I had no idea how much room chickens really needed, so this coop has been added on to over the years. We started calling it the “Egg McMansion” after Matt built the run to the left. When the chickens were still fighting and picking at each other, he constructed the run to the right. Thus “Cannibal Run”. Yes, it’s open air, but we lock them up at night and have never had a problem.

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My urban farm tour wouldn’t be complete without a picture of the dudes, who often “help” me in the garden, by eating compost and sticks, barking at things, pooping and peeing everywhere and knocking over plants (Wyatt).

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But seriously, these outdoor spaces that Matt and I have created give me so much happiness. Gardening adds a rewarding structure to my life in so many ways. I may not feel like shoveling a yard of compost into the garden every Spring, but it’s so worth it. Getting out in the yard and getting my hands in the soil is a huge stress reliever for me. It relaxes me, gives me time to think or simply takes my mind off of things. My hard work pays off when I taste that first sungold tomato of the season or when I’m collecting eggs and harvesting pounds of potatoes. I take great pride in showing off my garden and love watching people eat snap peas straight off the vine. Being able to share something I grew with family and friends is so gratifying. I now associate annual events, like birthdays and holidays, with harvest times. The years have a rhythm to them that I enjoy, so hopefully this will be something I can do for years to come!

It’s hard to believe that it has been over a year already since Matt and I got engaged. It felt like we had so much time to plan the wedding and somehow, suddenly, it’s only 9 weeks away! We are doing pretty well planning-wise. We were able to get the big things nailed down back in March, while we were in Vermont, like the catering and the tent. The rest of it we have been able to work on from here, like the wedding website, “Save the Date” cards, invitations, having rings made and getting Matt’s suit ordered, etc.. All the while, I have been slowly working on my wedding dress and recently completed my second “wearable” muslin!

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I already did a regular muslin, out of actual muslin fabric, without seam finishes, sleeves, etc. and determined what adjustments to the pattern I wanted to make. Since I want my wedding dress to fit especially well and the actual fabric wasn’t exactly cheap, I wanted to make the dress all the way through, with my adjustments, to get a better idea of the fit. I also wanted to see how it was finished and make sure it wasn’t going to be too hard for me.

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The pattern said “intermediate”, so I was a bit nervous that it would be outside my skill level. There were some things I hadn’t done before, like french seams, but those turned out to be a cinch. Sewing the yoke to the sweetheart neckline was a bit challenging, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t do.

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When I got to the part where you attach the front and back bias binding (to the inside of the dress, to cover the raw edges), I found the directions a bit hard to understand. So I just did it the way I’ve done it for all the oven mitts I’ve made and it worked great! It was a real confidence booster that I just knew how to do it. See, I have learned some things in the past couple of years!

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The instructions have you do french seams at the shoulders if using “a delicate or mesh fabric”. This was my first time doing french seams and I thought they were going to be a lot harder and/or confusing to do then they were. It was a piece of cake, worked great and looks good with the black lace.

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I have the exact same lace, but in white, for my wedding dress. It’s not very fancy lace or anything. In fact, it was from Joann’s and was super cheap, so I was worried about it being scratchy against my skin, but it’s totally not. Between the french seams and the front and back bias binding (which I did in the rayon), there is no scratch factor at all!

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I had originally thought the cap sleeves would be more form-fitting around the shoulders than they turned out to be. I’m sure I could make adjustments to make them fit that way, but I like how they ruffle a bit, so I think I’ll just keep it how it is.

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This was my first time making a wearable muslin. I usually just do a traditional muslin just to get a rough fit, make my adjustments to the pattern and then go straight to working on the actual garment. So I am really pleased with just how wearable this muslin is. I wasn’t expecting that. In fact, I have already worn it twice! I wore it once on my birthday and once out dancing. It is the perfect dancing dress as it swishes and twirls in all the right ways!

It was a stashbuster too and was from the sale/remnant table at Pacific Fabrics, so it was cheap to begin with. The print is kind of crazy, but I love rayon (it is easy to work with and so comfy), so I had to grab this one. I knew I could find something to do with it! I think it was meant for this pattern, as I had just enough fabric. Plus, I think the black lace yoke cuts down the loudness of the print a bit.

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Matt keeps calling this my “practice dress” and I have started calling it that too, because it was great practice and I learned a lot from doing it. I now know I love this pattern and the way it is finished and that it is within my skill level. Now I just have to make it all over again in white!

It still feels a wee bit big in the bodice but, since there are no side bust darts, altering that will be easy. The pattern has you try on the dress before you install the zipper, so you can make any last minute adjustments to the fit then. I already have plans for a friend to come over and help me do a final fitting at that point.

So take a good look at this dress. Now picture it in white lace and silk. Hold on to that thought, because you are not going to see this dress in full until after the wedding! I may do some progress updates and show some detail shots, but I have to keep something a surprise, don’t I?