Sunday, December 16, 2012

Seattle Santarchy in Verse with Pictures

Every year all across the country a bunch of folks get dressed up as Santa, or some permutation thereof, and go on a pub crawl.  It's called Santarchy.  I've always seen pictures after the fact and told myself I need to go next year.  I finally went this year.  Briefly, but I went.  It started in Seattle with a meetup at Cal Anderson Park in the Capitol Hill neighborhood at noon.  Who knows what time it ended.  Some Santas were probably stumbling home after last call this morning, I'd imagine. 

It was a brave gathering of Santas - temperatures were hovering around 40F and it was raining.  We even had a bit of sleet at one point.  I brought one of my embellished umbrellas/parasols, but I can't juggle it and the camera so it stayed in the car and I got wet.  I lasted for about two hours.  If the weather is better next year I'll stay out longer.  It was worth every minute, though.  I knew hardly a soul but had lovely conversations with strangers, enjoyed a cup of hot Earl Grey at a local watering hole, and came home with a few pictures of the shenanigans.

Santarchy 2012 in Verse:

Starting out the numbers were few. But the numbers grew and grew!

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Santas are festive.  Santas are fun.

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Santas have candy for everyone!

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Elves can also be naughty or nice.

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Santas cater to every vice:

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Reindeer are coming to take you away

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Toy soldiers march in to save the day

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Children are warm with hats askew

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Santa's sporting a fu manchu!

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See the Santas all full of cheer

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And many more Santas to see next year!

Merry Christmas to all!  (And one particular Santa is wishing you a Merry Hanukkah!)

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Costuming for Santarchy

I was gifted an old fur coat in October by a friend, with instructions to "cut it up and make something with it."  It's been sitting draped over one of the chairs in our dining room since.  I was thinking last night that I wanted to go on the Santarchy pub crawl scheduled for this weekend, but I didn't have anything to wear!  (Completely forgetting about this outfit I'd made for Steamcon two years ago - doh!)

Steamcon III

But then I thought I could throw something together quick enough for today, and I had a bunch of yards of a tan upholstery velvet in the stash, so I started cutting at 4pm last night.  I've done so many of this style of outfit in different permutations now that I was confident I could get it all done and get plenty of sleep and be ready for tomorrow.

The skirt and coat went together quickly, in under an hour actually.  The first snag came when I started deconstructing the coat.  Fur everywhere, and there was sand caught in all the hemmed seams.  The living room ended up looking like a whole shelter full of cats had gotten into a fur-flying argument, and one of them had knocked over the litterbox while they were at it!  This is even after using a pair of embroidery scissors to cut the coat, trimming close to the hide!  Then I started hand sewing strips of fur onto the hems and little bits of loose fur kept clogging the thread.  And to make matters worse, at 9:30 I realized I was about a yard short trim, so I was waiting at the door when JoAnn's opened up at 9am this morning.

I did finish everything, though, at exactly 10:21 this morning.  The initial rendezvous point was scheduled for noon.  I even had time to powder my nose before getting dressed!

I kept the collar of the collar intact for the bolero jacket, and paired the suit with an antique beaver hat I won at a charity auction last month.

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I'm particularly proud of the purse - I cut 8 evenly spaced slits in the band of the hat that matched the coat and threaded two ribbons through, then sewed a tassel at the middle of the hat, which became the bottom of the purse.  Instant reticule!

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I had a short length of a tasseled fringe left over from a previous parasol project, just enough to go on the back of the jacket:

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Still need more practice at applique work, but I'm getting better:

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A sprig of holly from the tree in our backyard added a festive touch.

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Next post, pictures from Santarchy this afternoon!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Follow-up from yesterday's post

Since yesterday afternoon, my images of the newlyweds at City Hall in Seattle have gotten almost 7,000 views.  It all started at about 3pm, when I got a message from the editor of LGBTQNation, asking if they could use a couple of my photos from the morning for their article on these historic events.  I said yes, and their article was published shortly after.  They used two pictures and linked to the set at the end.  A couple of hours after that, a reporter for Gay Star News contacted me, and their article used one of my photos as well, and linked to a slideshow of the whole set at the end of the article! 

I'm feeling a bit giddy.  I took about 250 pictures, and of them I picked 39 which represented to me the joy and wonder of the day, and those images are now being used to show that joy and wonder to the world.  It's a marvelous time we live in, both for the magic of the internet and the "growing up" of the human race.

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

For love

Today for the first time same sex couples got legally married in the state of Washington.  We joined the crowds of well wishers at City Hall to cheer as the newlyweds came out.

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Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn gave a speech that none of us could hear because the PA system didn't reach the bottom of the stairs.

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A helpful soul with an impressive set of lungs standing towards the top of the flight summed up the speech for us, though.  "Mayor McGinn thanks you for coming!" he shouted down, and everyone laughed.  One of his staffers started making trips up and down the stairs checking with us.  "Could you hear us this time?  We're still tweaking the system," I heard him say to two ladies standing next to us.

The City Hall staffers and volunteers had a hard time keeping the media at bay, as they were all dying for a sound bite from the first few couples.  Kudos to them for all their hard work today, and the rest of the week that preceded it.

We got there about 10am and the first couples started coming out at 10:45 or so.  I forgot to bring my spare camera battery so of course the one I had in my camera was low and died at 11:30.  I can usually squeeze out a few extra pictures if I turn it on briefly, snap, and turn it back off, and that's how I managed to get this one, which has been the most popular so far:

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Here's a few of the other happy couples:

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There was one little boy who was determined that every single couple that came down the stairs needed flowers:

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I missed getting a picture of the little girl who was dressed as a flower girl and throwing flower petals on the newlyweds. I also missed getting a picture of one bride digging flower petals out of the front of her blouse.  There was so much laughter today.  And so many flowers!  Everyone had flowers to hand out.

Love Triumphs by *dbvictoria on deviantART

When I came home, I discovered that my hat was covered in rice, too!

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We left a little after 12pm.  I wish we could have stayed longer and cheered more, but the munchkin was starting to tire and I wanted today to be a good memory for her and not the day that mommy made her stand around for hours in the cold.  Hopefully this will be something that she'll remember, a historic day that she personally witnessed.

Congrats to all the happy couples, and love to all!


Friday, November 23, 2012

Pie, Oh My!

I've recently begun making fruit pies, after a lifetime of declaring that cooked fruit was evil, all slimy and such.   My favorite so far has been the blueberry pie, and it seems other folks appreciate it as well.  I use the basic recipe from the Joy of Cooking for both the crust and the filling, but with a few tweaks.

Preheat oven to 425F


2 1/2 cups white flour
1 tsp white sugar
1 tsp salt

Mix with a spatula

The recipe says you can use either 1 cup shortening or 1/2 cup shortening and one stick cold unsalted butter.  I use the half and half recipe, 1/2 cup of Crisco and a stick of butter.  I normally let the butter sit out for a couple of hours, not til it's room temperature but definitely not at fridge temp either.  Break the shortening up into chunks with a knife and cube the butter into pieces about 1/2-3/4" square, then cut into the flour mixture with two knives until the fat is in pea-sized pieces.  The mixture should still be dry and pebbly.

Next, the recipe calls for adding 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp water.  The first time I made my crust, I misremembered a tip from a cooking show about using vodka in the place of water.  The tip, I realized afterwards, was to use vodka as any additional moisture you needed if the measured amount wasn't enough to make the dough adhere to itself, so instead I used 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp of ice-cold vodka, and alternating between tablespoons of cold vodka and cold water if more moisture was needed.   The result is a crumblier crust.

You add the 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp, drizzling it over the dry mixture and using a spatula to cut it in.  Larger balls of dough will form and you try to press them together with your spatula.  If they don't stick, or if you have a lot of powder in the bottom of the bowl, add more moisture, a tablespoon at a time, alternating as I said between the vodka and water.  The dough should still be crumbly, but will stick together.  Knead it just enough to get it to form a ball, wrap it in shrink-wrap and refrigerate it for 20-30 minutes.

Now onto the filling prep.  Your basic recipe for the filling


5 cups fruit (I used a mixture of fresh and frozen for my blueberry pie, but you can use either/or)
3/4 cup sugar as a base (I added an extra quarter cup after the first pie, because it came out very tart)
3 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp lemon juice

Mash the fruit.  You can toss all the ingredients in a bowl together and then plop it straight in the pie, but I prefer to put 2 cups of the fruit in a pan, add the corn starch and lemon juice and sugar, and let it come to a simmer while stirring, then mix it in with the remaining fruit.  It sets better and the pie is less runny this way.

After refrigeration, cut it into uneven halve, the larger piece for the bottom of the pie.  I roll the dough out between pieces of waxed paper.  Peel off the top sheet and then lay the dough still attached to the bottom waxed paper in your pie tin, then peel off the second sheet of wax paper and use your fingers to push the crust into place.  I prefer glass for cooking pies - the crust doesn't get burned.

Pour in the filling, roll out the smaller half of the dough, remove the top layer of wax paper, and position the crust over the pie, then peel back the other sheet of wax paper.  Press the edges of the crust together and cut slits in the top of the crust with a butter knife.  Bake for 30 minutes at 425, then turn the heat down to 350, put the pie plate on a cookie sheet and cook for another 30 minutes, or until the filling bubbles up through the slits in the top crust.

You can serve it with vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whip cream.

Whip cream:

1 1/2 pint heavy whipping cream (36% fat)
3 tbsp raw sugar
1 teaspoon orange extract

Chill a metal bowl in the freezer for about a half an hour.  Add all ingredients to the bowl and use a stand mixer or beater to whip cream til it forms soft peaks.  Serve slice of pie with generous dollop.  Enjoy!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pumpkin time!

It's that time of year again, our annual trek out to Jubilee Farms for pumpkins and trebuchets!


This year we managed to snag a ride on the horse-drawn hay wagon out to the field:

On a Hayride by *dbvictoria on deviantART

 The munchkin found her perfect pumpkin, long and skinny:

 This year she wants a ghost pumpkin, we were told. I have more sinister plans, and I needed as round a pumpkin as I could find.


 We warmed our bellies on tamales and some of the tastiest roasted on the planet.


 It was rather chilly, although fortunately not raining, so we stayed for just one pumpkin launch and a pony ride.


 They were down a pony this weekend, as one was feeling a little too frisky apparently.


 We've been coming to this patch every October for the past 7 years now, and hope to keep doing so when the munchkin is grown and has kids of her own. Always so much fun! The rest of the pictures from the day can be found here.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Untwisting my knickers

I was dressing for a skit I was doing last Sunday, an announcement for a charity auction I am co-chairing. It's a Roaring 20s theme, and I was supposed to be a newsboy selling papers. "Extra! Extra! Our auction is only 5 weeks away!" etc, etc.

I have a pair of cheater knickers I made some time ago, which I couldn't find. And even if I had found them, there's a good chance they wouldn't fit anymore, as the little calories that live in your closet and shrink your clothing have been hard at work on my wardrobe this year. I ended up pulling the legs of my pants up inside, doubled up, and tying them off just below the knees with ribbons, which worked fine for that day, but that won't do for events.

This evening, I picked up a pair of slacks at the thrift store. They're a pair of Dockers that were altered for a woman who was ~5' tall, apparently. Knickers, ho!

First, I cut them off at just below my knees:


Then, I cut the hemmed portion off the remainder of the legs, cut out one of the seams and sized them to my legs just above the calves, with a seam allowance of 1/4" on either end:


Sewed down the edges of these pieces, then pinned them to the pants legs. There's now a bit of a gather:


Sewed the cuffs on and topstitched down the seam, and for fasteners I picked out a couple of antiqued silver buttons and made two loops with elastic cord:


And here you have it:


This took me about 30 minutes altogether, including the time it took to start my daughter's bedtime shower. Easy peasy!