Saturday, December 21, 2013

Almost a White Christmas

We got snow on December 20th, but it's all melted already.

A few more pictures here.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Steampunks at the Park

The Steamrats converged on Gasworks Park yesterday for one of our big photoshoot get-togethers.  Good times were had.  Silliness occurred.  Also puppies!

steamrats at gasworks 1 copy

steamrats at gasworks 4 copy

steamrats at gasworks 8 copy

steamrats at gasworks 25 copy

steamrats at gasworks 33 copy

 More pictures here.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Winter is coming!

We had our first heavy frosts of the season this week.  I'm not a big fan of the cold in general, but it does make with the pretty.









Monday, November 11, 2013

Our Dragon Banner

I realized looking at the pictures from my previous post that I'd never talked about this year's big embroidery project here.  We ended up not camping out for faire this year, as it was right after we got back from New Orleans and we'd had our fill of being overly warm for the summer, so we day-tripped it instead, and so I didn't get to use the banner I'd made for our campsite.  Next year.  But here it is - I based it on a drawing my daughter did in art class, a serpentine dragon.  Oops!  Just realized I need a picture of the drawing!  But anyways, I traced it onto some cloth and then spent somewhere between 20-30 hours filling it in.

In progress shots:




I then finished the edges with some ribbon:


And then backed it on blue satin:


Husband has promised me a fancy painted stick on which it will hang, which will hopefully happen before next year's faire, because we will camp out next year so I can show this off, dagnammit!


Friday, November 8, 2013

The Steampunk Pied Piper

Last year my wonderful, patient husband took charge of not only my own munchkin but 5 other children of other merchants during Steamcon.  This year we decided to coordinate his costume with his cat herding activities, and I made him a Steampunk Pied Pier-esque outfit.  I started with an old wool coat, tail'd it, and then covered it in patches using embroidery floss.

Steampunk pied piper in progress front

Steampunk pied piper in progress back

After the first few went on, I asked my husband if he thought it was too much and he told me it wasn't enough.  Okay, then!

Steampunk pied piper front

Steampunk pied piper back

I also made him a hat with gramophone horns coming out of the back that we rigged with a bluetooth speaker so he could wander down the hallways playing music with kids following him dancing.  Unfortunately the kids were all much more self-sufficient this year, and the hat turned out really heavy so he didn't wear it much.  The only picture I got was after he'd traded it in for his more mundane, non-music playing topper.

Steamcon V

He enjoyed the outfit, though, and that's what counts.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Crisco Incident

Isn’t one of the joys of parenthood the setting down for posterity the embarrassingly funny things our children do?  I think so.

The Crisco Incident, as it has since been named, occurred when our munchkin was 3 or 4.  I was getting ready to make some banana bread and had a can of Crisco out on the kitchen counter.  My dear sweet child saw the container and got all excited.  “Momma!!!!  Dessert!!!!” and she pointed to the container. 

She can’t be blamed, I guess.  I mean, there it is - a picture of a piece of cherry pie on the label, big and flakey and red.   

How my child came to make the connection between this picture and dessert remains a mystery to me.  I have rather strong feelings about pie.  Un-American feelings, some may say.  I am very much not a fan of cooked fruit.  Pies did not exist in our household, unless they were cheesecake, which isn’t really a pie, or pumpkin, which is a creamy puree of deliciousness.  Texture is a huge part of the food experience for me, and cooked fruit is rubbery.  And slimey.  Slimey is the big culprit here.  I do not like slimey food.   Apple pie in particular seems to be the slimeiest.  Bleargh.  (See?  Un-American!)

So the connection is a mystery, how my child learned about pie, but somehow she had made the connection.  I tried to talk her out of it.  I opened the container and showed her the (to me) unappetizing white paste, but at this point she seemed to think that Mommy was trying to pull one over on her and that this was really the most amazing food substance on the face of the Earth, and nothing I said could dissuade her that she did not want to stuff her face with the whole container.

At this point, I decided to make this A Teaching Moment.  At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  My husband will tell you it’s because I have a sick, twisted sense of humor, but don’t believe a word of it.  I told my daughter fine, she could have some “dessert” if she ate all her dinner without complaining about it.  Her plate had to be clean, not one whimper.  She agreed, and I can’t remember now exactly what I served her, but it was something I’d just spent a previous dinner arguing with her over how she wouldn’t now eat what used to be her favorite dish.  Teaching Moment, remember?  I am a sweet loving mother.

She did clean her plate, and I told her to get a spoon out and come get dessert.  She, thinking herself smart and sneaky, got the one of the big spoons out of the silverware drawer and scooped herself out a full teaspoon-sized dollop of Crisco.  She stuck the whole glop into her mouth and sucked it off the spoon.  There then proceeded an extended round of what I refer to as a “cat eating peanut butter face” as she attempted to chew and swallow a tablespoon of Crisco.  I asked her how she liked her dessert, and she absolutely and completely refused to acknowledge that Mommy had been right that she didn’t want any Crisco and it wasn’t really dessert.  (The husband says this is a sign that she is definitely my child.  I say it’s a sign that she’s definitely his.  When asked, our friends refuse to take sides.)

Being the sweet, loving mother that I am, I told my child that she could have more “dessert” if she wanted.  She put the very tip of the spoon into the Crisco and barely got a microscopic dab on the tip, then stared at it for about 5 seconds before putting it into her mouth.  She swallowed, and said “That’s enough dessert for tonight, Mommy.”

“Are you sure, honey?  You can have some more if you want.”

“No, that’s okay, mommy.  I’ve had enough dessert.”

That was the end of it, and the next day we had a nice discussion about how what’s on the outside doesn’t always reflect what’s on the inside.  A bit deep for a toddler, but it doesn’t hurt to start early.

The munchkin will be 10 in a few days.  During the holidays last year some magical switch flipped in my head and I started grudgingly admitting that maybe all fruit pies weren’t steaming baked piles of rubbery slime, and actually started baking some myself.  (I haven’t made a pie yet that I didn’t personally like.  I’m still up in the air about pies baked by other people.)  As I experimented with pie making, and perfecting my pie crust, the Crisco spent a lot of time on the kitchen counter again.  (I’ve found that half butter, half shortening is pie crust magic.)  Of course, I had to tell the munchkin the “dessert” story.  She didn’t believe me, and during the course of the story I invited her to try some Crisco.  This time she took out a tiny little spoon, one of the ones I use to serve my homemade boozy jellies with at parties, and tasted a pea-sized dollop.  Children do learn.  See?


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I got almost no pictures of my costuming for this year's Steamcon, unfortunately.  Friday's outfit was a big hit, though.  I did a lolita-esque gender bent Alex from A Clockwork Orange.

Steamcon V



Monday, November 4, 2013

Eat Me!

The parking lot for my nearest Trader Joe's is full of huge, glorious, albeit poisonous mushrooms.  We saw them when we went grocery shopping a couple of weekends ago, and I made at trip back with the good camera a few days later.  The biggest ones most glorious had been stomped on, sadly, but there were still plenty remaining.

mushrooms 2

mushrooms 4

mushrooms 13

We also have a large stump in our back yard, after having a dying cottonwood tree removed, and it's developed quite a collection of shelf fungi.

mushrooms 16

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Haunted Bordello

I spent the weekend at friends' B&B, which they turned super spooky for Halloween. I didn't get too many pictures, as more time was spent socializing and being spooky myself, but here's a few shots of their decorations:

Haunted Bordello

Haunted Bordello

Haunted Bordello

Haunted Bordello

Haunted Bordello

Haunted Bordello

Haunted Bordello

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Boozey jelly making

Today's challenge - can I turn all these bottles of adult beverages into jelly?

Grown up jelly making

I scored 35 half-pint jars at the thrift store this week.  I have a couple dozen pint jars too.  I may have to make a sugar run.

Alcohol jelly
  • 3 1/2 cups wine
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 (2 ounce) package dry pectin
  • 4 1/2 cups white sugar
  1. Combine wine, lemon juice, and pectin in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam off top, if necessary.
  2. Ladle hot jelly into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Tighten 2 piece lids. Process for 5 minutes in boiling water bath.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Cost of Handmade, revisited

This happens with great regularity.  Someone will find one of my sold parasols through a search engine. They'll message me. "Oh, I love this!  It'll go perfectly with this outfit I have!"  Or "I need six of these for my bridesmaids!"  And then they ask "How much are they?" because the selling price isn't listed for sold items on sites like Etsy and Artfire.  (There's a good reason for this - costs go up and eventually, even though they don't want to, artists have to raise their prices occasionally.  But it is possible to browse through an artist's shop and see what similar items cost.  Most people don't bother, though.)

When I respond and tell them what the price is, I never hear back from them.  Maybe 1 person in 20 will give me an "outside my budget" reply.  Maybe.  When selling in person, it's common for people to make comments like "Oh, I didn't realize they were so expensive!" after they look at the price tags.

Why do I charge so much for my parasols?  Here's why:

anatomy of a parasol

This is one of my more popular styles.  I start out with a modern umbrella covered in costume satin. There's a ruffle that goes around the center at the top, and one that goes around the outside edge.  I cover each of the 8 panels in lace and ribbon combinations, then add lace trim to the outside edges of the ruffle and finish it all with braid along each rib and each edge of the ruffle.  Every piece is individually hand-sewn.  That means I go once around the ruffle for the lace trim and another time when I sew the braid on top of it.

Now let's look at the math.  For the panels, I've used about 1/8 of a yard of fabric and around 3 yards of ribbon.  The diameter of the center ruffle is 30".  It doesn't look like it is, but there's lots of gathering there.  If I put lace on both the inside and outside edge, that brings me to almost three and a half yards of trim and lace just for this small part.  Each rib is 11", and there are 8 of them.  The bottom ruffle is 128" in diameter.  That's 3.5 yards.  Multiply that by 3 or 4, and then total everything up and you end up with anywhere from 15-20 yards of lace and trim on every one of these parasols.  And remember - every single piece of fabric and row of trim is hand-sewn.  A parasol like this can take me 8-10 hours to complete.

So that's why my parasols are "so expensive."  Except they aren't really, when you really look at the materials and labor.  They aren't mass produced at a factory.  Every one is individual and unique.  Isn't that worth a little more?


Saturday, July 27, 2013

A visit to New Orleans

I lived in New Orleans, Louisiana for almost 9 years.  I moved down there for college, having received a scholarship to the University of New Orleans, and life just happened. It was a great decade.  I was young, and it is a town for the young.  I worked in and around the French Quarter for the majority of that time, three and a half of it at a boutique one block off of Bourbon Street (no longer there, we discovered on this trip - sadness).  I attended my first conventions and started costuming while I lived there, as well as met my husband (We were both members of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy book club.  Punch my geek card, thank you very much!)

We spent a long week there last week, and it has been determined that I've become a huge wimp when it comes to to the heat and humidity of a southern summer.  I was never all that happy about it when I lived there, and I've acclimated nicely to the temperate Puget Sound region in the last 15 years.

We did lots of sight-seeing, both of nostalgic places to us (like our first apartment and the first bead store I ever bought supplies at) and touristy places like the Aquarium, St. Louis Cemetary, and Blain Kern's Mardi Gras world.  I've hardly begun editing the pictures yet, but here's a few teasers.

Mask by *dbvictoria on deviantART

Jester by *dbvictoria on deviantART

A row of crosses by *dbvictoria on deviantART

I've got about 500 shots to go through, and some costuming stuff to do beforehand.  Well, and housecleaning, but we won't talk about that.