Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rambling: Fashion and... who am I?

You know all those posts about whether there are too many perfume blogs out there, whether there's room for so many voices, all that? Yeah; have you seen how many sewing blogs there are? Oh, my. If I go to a perfume blog and follow its blogroll, and then follow its blogroll's blogrolls, I'll very soon find myself linking in circles, already having visited most of the blogs. In the sewing world, the lists of blogs just grow, apparently exponentially.

And I'm not reading those blogs purely for the sake of geeky technical sewing information. I'm paging through them looking at clothes. Looking at dresses. See this post about the Mad Men Dress Challenge? Dresses like that. Mad Men. Downton Abbey.

You understand that this is weird for me, right? My awakening of interest in clothes is something that I can't yet begin to explain. It's been, I admit, an occasional theme through my blog, a weak watery thread, starting 'way back in 2009 with Perfume and Being a Girl. But that doesn't make it any less incomprehensible.  I'm staring at those dresses, wondering if I could ever get as perfect a fit. Wondering what it would be like to own a Little Black Dress. When we went to Manresa restaurant in Los Gatos recently, I looked around the dining room and found myself noting that, "I could wear evening clothes here, if I wanted."

What the what?! Evening cl... who is residing in my brain? Who? Who let her in? And why don't I want her thrown out?

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Food: The Best

Anybody who doesn't think that the best hamburger place in the world is in his home town is a sissy.
Calvin Trillin

The best Thai iced tea in the world is served at Tour Eiffel in Los Altos, California, along with the world's best egg rolls. I hadn't tasted either one since we moved to Oregon; I'm happily full of them today. We've been traveling. And eating. (Read Himself's post for the details and the restaurants that you really should visit.) And I've been thinking about the best foods in the world, past and present, available and lost. The best foods, that is, according to my memories.

The best cupcakes in the world are sold at Saint Cupcake in Portland, Oregon. They're not the usual bought cupcakes, the kind that are mostly sugar and oh-yeah-maybe-we-should-add-some-butter. They taste of enough butter to make your fingers shiny when you eat them, and of eggs, and chocolate--that is, if you get the yellow cupcake with chocolate icing, my choice. The buttercream icing has the texture of chocolate ice cream that's thawed to precisely the point of no resistance, except when you're dealing with ice cream that point is followed fourteen seconds later by melting into liquid, while the cupcake can stay there all day. Or at least half an hour, which is the longest I've ever kept one uneaten.

The best fried chicken in the world was cooked by my mother. I'm pretty good at frying it myself now, though I only sometimes achieve the level of glorious greasy crunchiness that she accomplished regularly. I've learned part of the secret--it's a side effect of cooking more chicken than will fit in the pan. But I think there's more to learn, and Mom doesn't cook it any more, so I'll have to figure it out on my own.

Early in my St. Louis childhood, I learned that the Flaming Pit was the best burger restaurant in the world. We moved away to Nashville for a few years, where I ate the micro-thin steamy burgers from fast food restaurants. And then we moved yet again, back to St. Louis, and my brother and I begged to rush to the Flaming Pit. I have a clear memory of my first reunion with that burger, in its fat, smoky charredness... and not liking it one little bit. My mis-trained palate betrayed my memory, and as far as burgers are concerned, it never recovered; I never asked to return again, and have never appreciated a really good burger.

My memory asserts that the best Chinese food in the world is served at King Doh's in Kirkwood, Missouri, the town where I spent my teen years. I remember when King Doh opened, decades ago; back then, the term "stir fry" was a new curiosity, at least for folks my mother's age. The first time she was invited, Mom said that she didn't want to go, because she didn't like fried food.

We figured it out eventually, and ate a lot of dinners there. Mom was delighted by the chopsticks and the feeling of experimenting with the exotic, Dad looked forward to the hot sake; they both seemed more jovial than at most other family occasions. I hope my brother experienced those meals as happy, too. Me, I loved the food and still remember it as having a flavor unmatched by any Chinese restaurant I've eaten at since. Did it, or is my memory colored by happy moments? I suspect I'll never know.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Vignette: Lunch

It's been too long since I posted a vignette, so it's time to start "just post it!"ing. I wrote this in the context of a discussion of how to depict the passage of time.

He was too late to catch the tastysquirrels in their nighttime hibernation; by the time he reached the grove, the sun was up and the squirrels were chasing one another up and down the trees. He sat in a not-too-damp patch of leaves and watched them scamper, then amble, then settle into un-defended furry sleeping heaps as the midday heat took hold.

Venturing from his hiding place, he was dumbfounded to learn that John was right; the colony of squirrels slept on when he grabbed several by the scruff of the neck and tossed them into his basket. Even the captives just keened irritably and curled up again in the wicker, resuming their tiny snores. "Like windfall apples with fur," he murmured as he headed home with his harvest, wondering if he had any panko crumbs in the pantry.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Link: Vignette Pointer

Most of my older fiction is at the old Rambling Chicken blog. So I'm adding this post so that they can be found with the newer ones here. So, below find links for Rambling Chicken tags:

Vignettes
Coriolis Effect (The stuff about Henry and Emily)
Fiction
Writing

Be warned, here's a lot of redundancy in those tags.

Image: By Tony Lozano. Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sewing: Liberty Shirt Version 2

So, my sewing plans tend to be over-ambitious. When I cut the altered (shoulders narrowed, sleeves shortened) Sewing Workshop Liberty Shirt out of some medium-weight black linen, I had fancy plans for it. The linen is too heavy for the French seams that the pattern instructions call for, so I was going to do a Hong Kong seam finish with bias strips of black chiffon. And I was going to line or interline the sleeves to make them nice and slick, to make the shirt suitable as a jacket. I even considered a full bagged lining, not that I know how.

Then it was six (or so) weeks later and today I decided to just sew it up. I followed the very fine instructions for the mitered hem, and argued the sleeves into the armhole (it took two rounds of "staystitch plus"). I did ordinary seams, finishing them with the fake serger-like stitch on my sewing machine. I pressed, I did buttonholes, I sewed in glossy little shell buttons, and yay! It's ready to wear tomorrow.

That doesn't eliminate my fancy plans; they've just moved to other garments. I have extra elaborate intentions for a garment involving silk brocade piped with silk charmeuse, but before I go that far I think that I'll try handkerchief linen piped with... well, something. Something gaudy. I still crave the whacky.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sewing: Valuable Packages!

My edgestitching foot came! My edgestitching foot came!

As I said to Himself while opening it, trying to topstitch without an edgestitching foot is rather like trying to work as a draftsman without a straight-edge. I was dismayed when I learned that I'd lost my old foot, and so were the wobbly-stitched shirts that were created during the foot famine. I'm delighted that the replacement has arrived.

I also got a package full of linen, which raised a question for me: Is it weird to review fabric?

I review perfume. Well, I don't know if you can call it a review, in the sense of an educated and informed professional who takes care to remain neutral, blah blah blah. I'm an amateur expressing an opinionated opinion. I also once reviewed a chocolate bar. And I've opinionated about the occasional book. So now that my obsession has turned toward sewing, and now that fabric stores are rare and so much yardage is bought online, it seems not unreasonable to review fabric.

But it still feels weird. If I reviewed, say, a Parfumerie Generale perfume, I'd have no hesitation about linking to their site. Why do I hesitate to point to the fabric store's site?

OK, I'm going to declare that it's not weird, and say that the quite inexpensive linen from fabrics-store.com seems to be pretty nice. I just received two cuts, one handkerchief linen (3.5 oz/yard) and one heavier (5.3 oz/yard). The handkerchief linen was a nice texture, fluid and not too crisp. The heavier stuff feels a little stiff, but a PatternReview poster (see? someone else informally reviewed this fabric) says that it washes up to a pleasantly rumply shirt-weight texture.

I still have to prewash it and sew it up, so I'll have a better idea then, but I'm pretty pleased--this stuff is cheap enough to use as a staple, without any obvious down side. Well, except maybe for the down side of choosing colors online. The site does offer free swatches, but they were sadly already out of one color that I wanted by the time that my swatches came, so I ordered the other interesting colors in a hurry. The cut in the color called "crimson" is a color that I would call "tomato". I love all sorts of reds, so I'll use it, but I may send off for another cut in "biking" red. This is my own fault--with free swatches available, I have no excuse for complaining about color disappointment.

Was that weird?

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Rambling: Rambling

It's been days and days days since I wrote a blog post.

I fried a chicken day before yesterday.

I wore Cristalle yesterday.

I'm wearing Cuir de Russie today. It's not quite working for me. Is it possible that it's not a winter perfume?

I declared a fabric diet. Nine cuts of fabric are coming in the mail. Dieting isn't so much working.

The less-sugar diet is kind of working. Maybe that's why I'm buying all that fabric.

Not a bit of perfume is coming in the mail, and I haven't set foot on the LuckyScent website in weeks. Possibly months. I seem to be a one-obsession girl.

Silk costs more but takes up less space.

When you search for Wikimedia Commons, the actual Wikimedia Commons site is the fifth in the list. This seems like a flaw.

I'm planning to make a shirt in lime green silk brocade with violet dragons, with violet silk piping. And another in violet linen with lime green piping made from the scraps of the brocade. I really hope one or both of them work. I crave the whacky.

I'm happy with whacky shirts and jackets, but I want skirts to be sober. Why is that?

I need to learn how to fit patterns. The whacky should, ideally, be flawless in every other regard.

That is all.

Image: By Deutche Fotothek. Wikimedia Commons.