it was there all along

I’m sure it’s pretty evident that I’ve been a little (a lot) on the meh side in recent months.

I’ve been very unhappy in a way I haven’t been for years and years. I’ve been analysing this (to death) and have tried tweaking various bits and pieces:
+ maybe I need to take it easy and chill?
+ maybe I need to give up the self-improvement books?
+ maybe I need to leave SML?
+ maybe I need more creativity?
+ maybe I need to quit the ambitious to-do lists?
+ maybe I need to stop buying stuff?
+ maybe I need to stop the daily journal?
+ maybe I need to give up instagram?
+ maybe I need x, y, z other things?
None of this really worked.

I lunched with Knut (ex-colleague and golden boy) during the week for the first time in about 6 months and he looked fabulous – relaxed, healthy, calm, centred. He’s been exercising and goal-setting and meditating (though in his case it manifests itself as prayer) and self-improvement-ing all over the place. The transformation was quite amazing. And it occurred to me that I love this sort of personal development stuff, but I’ve fallen into a place where I feel like I have no agency in my life and I’m letting everything kind of just happen to me. I’m not exercising, I’m eating badly, I’m disengaged, I’m kind of defeated. But I actually am in the very privileged position where I do have agency and lots of it! And I made a plan to spend this weekend mapping out just how I want to move forward. Perhaps a way out at last?

Last night I took some heavy duty night-time cold-and-flu tablets because I could feel one coming on (and various members of my team have been out with it) and I didn’t wake until 5:30am. This is pretty unprecedented – I generally wake at least 3 times a night with a raging thirst and drink copious amounts of water.

This morning I woke full of enthusiasm, cheerfulness, energy and all the good things.

Could it be that all I really need is a proper night’s sleep?

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wet wet wet

In one of my recent wardrobe purges I sent two quite unsatisfactory raincoats to the charity shop. They both looked great, but didn’t actually do much in the way of rain prevention – one had opera length sleeves and no hood, the other was quite short (barely covering my bum), quite heavy and not entirely comfortable.

The intention was to obtain a fit-for-purpose, decent-looking replacement pretty soon afterward, but with a spate of sunny hot weather (and my apparently inability to remember what rain was), the replacement never happened.

It was pouring on Sunday, I was out and about and an umbrella can only do so much. I’ve since spent hours and hours (and hours!) scouring the Information Superhighway for something suitable. Hours. I’ve learned that there are some astoundingly expensive** raincoats out there (in the >$5k range), and that there are also some astoundingly** expensive** quite** hideous** raincoats out there, and I’m only marginally closer to finding a winner.

This is one of those jam study problems. I should just pull the trigger on something knee-length, not hideous, with a hood and long sleeves, and move on with my life.

xxx

**Because links are such fragile things – herewith is my list of some Astoundingly Expensive and Astoundingly Expensive Quite Hideous raincoats
+ Akris – Bellevue Two-in-One Hooded Coat – AU$8,194.65
+ Rosie Assoulin – Sarah Jessica Water Resistant Parka – reduced to AU$1,370.25 from AU$3,425.63
+ Junya Watanabe – Tartan Patchwork Denim Coat – AU$6,425.86
+ Simone Rocha – Puff-Sleeve Laminated Tweed Trench Coat – reduced to AU$1,788.19 from AU$4,470.49
+ GUCCI Rainbow – Panther Hooded Jacket – AU$3,283.83

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five things; or filler #02

I get wildly excited about really clever innovations, particularly in the sustainability space. These projects are completely amazing – how wonderful to go to work and be involved in something like this!

+ upcycled lobster shells as packaging!

+ shoe soles from used chewing gum!. More used chewing gum!

+ chairs from recycled fishing nets!

xxx

If I wasn’t on a personal spending ban (which I completely and spectacularly ignored on Sunday) I’d be inclined to grab these untranslatable words cards from School of Life, which you might have seen kicking about on the Information Superhighway.

I was familiar with some of the words, but this one delights me:

Litost (Czech)
the humiliated despair we feel when someone accidentally reminds us, through their accomplishment, of everything that has gone wrong in our lives. They casually allude to a luxurious house they are renting for the holidays. They mention the glamorous friends they have had for dinner. We feel searing self-pity at the scale of our inadequacies.

More words.

xxx

Sad to read that our cast iron casserole has been retired.

Each remaining AUSfonte™ piece is a rare and precious slice of Australian manufacturing history. These will be treasured heirloom pieces, with each bearing the date of casting for those who will inherit for many generations to come. A wonderful legacy to leave!

Though it almost needs a hoist to lift it, it is one of my very favourite things to cook with and we use it at least once a week. Very glad to own it, though I am not entirely convinced I’ll be handing it down through the generations – “dear children, I bequeath you my casserole dish”.

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kryptonite

Near the exit of Don’s work-provided parking space, shoved into the corner of large-ish parking sign sits Coffee Jesus.


coffee jesus

Being the absolute antithesis of godly, I was unaware that supplying coffee was something Jesus was known for. I wonder if it is part of a wider series of Jesus serving other refreshments. Hamburger Jesus? Cheesecake Jesus? Virgin Mojito Jesus?

I feel that this will remain forever a Mysterious Mystery and I’m okay with that.

xxx

Instagram would have been the natural home for sharing Coffee Jesus. That is if I wasn’t taking a break (29 days and counting). But I am dormant and it is actually pretty nice to be so. Though I am entirely certain that I am missing out on Things.

I know this more speaks to me and my mental health than the platform itself, but I invariably come away from there feeling like failure at life. So many people doing All The Things: creative Things, fun Things, clever Things, interesting Things, pretty Things. So many people sharing wonderful photos. I compare myself unfavourably. I am doing none of those Things. My photos are less than wonderful.

What I do miss is keeping up with my Imaginary Internet Friends – many of whom have long abandoned blogging but are quite active on instagram. So in an attempt to do that keeping up, I’m planning to go private and cull the accounts I’m following to Imaginary Internet Friends only.

I’ll keep that up for a month and monitor my mood. Access once a day only. At my desktop. I do not need to be constantly plugged in – it definitely serves me better to spend idle moments practicing my very rudimentary Japanese or listening to music, or snippets of a podcast.

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and slept in until 7am

Last night was the first in an age where I’ve slept reasonably well and have not woken multiple times by: thirst (I often get through 3-4 x 700ml bottles of water a night); needing to go to the bathroom (see aforementioned water); being too hot (hot flushes begone); freezing (air-conditioner); or by nightmares (who knows?). This is pretty exciting. Hopefully autumn

Today mostly involved Palace(OfLove) Admin – grocery shopping, bathroom cleaning, laundry … stuff. I rode 10km on the exercise bike (run rate now ~$22.00 per ride). I listened to an audiobook (Christmas Hirelings – freebie from audible, Victorian, sentimental). I finished reading anyresemblance’s archives.

We finally admitted defeat and packed away Bessie’s fiendish Xmas puzzle.

It had been sitting incomplete on that table with a blanket over it since early in the New Year. I had super-good intentions last week of perhaps adding a piece or two each evening rather than collapsing in a heap on the couch mindlessly scrolling on my ipad or staring exhaustedly into middle-distance, but alas this didn’t really eventuate. SML has been gruelling (a post for another time), I’m barely coherent when I arrive home.

This evening, as part of my attempt to get more creativity in my life, I’m planning to cast on the love and kisses cowl in rowan brushed fleece in the hush shade.** I bought this yarn a couple of weeks ago in a now rare lunchtime outing – at the moment it is all I can do to grab coffee and fruit at lunch. I don’t consider the yarn personal spending as I have quite a bit of credit at Morris and Sons – they’re very good about taking back unused balls at full price and last year I de-cluttered about $80 worth of aspirational yarn.

In other crafty endeavours, I’ve been working at least 10 stitches a day on the endless embroidery. I’ve just commenced year eight – there is some way to go.

Tomorrow I need to make a plan to tackle some outstanding worky-work, pack a care package for Joan, hang a large photograph and get stuck into a rather large ironing pile. Oh and dye my eyebrows. And vacuum the stairs.

I think I will find it helpful to exercise some control over my environment in small ways where I can!

xxx

** I cast on 160 stitches in the round and knit first row – only to find I’d knitted 161. Ripped back.

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four things, or, filler #01

I had no intention of doing anything other than cutting up this pineapple for snacking, but the label absolutely compelled me to make my first ever ham (okay, prosciutto) and pineapple pizza.

A++ would eat again. As would Joe/Frank and Bessie. Don did not partake as he considers pineapple on pizza is an abomination. Such a luddite.

xxx

The Nod podcast is really great! This episode is delightful! This one is fascinating! You should go listen!

xxx

These articles of interest episodes of the 99% invisible podcast are also wonderful. Recommend pockets and blue jeans. You should listen to them too!

xxx

And this article (Who killed the weekend?) inspired me to track down the book (currently on reserve at the Library). I’m not calling it self-help – despite all signs to the contrary!

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stretching the brain

My anticipated 2 hours of dress-making morphed into slightly longer. The dress is made up of 4 rectangles which you’d think would be quick and simple, but as an unknown russian knitting blogger quoted by the ever-excellent carmela once said – “it is the precision and mastery of the details that make the difference between a beautiful garment and granny’s vest”. This was one of the best things I’ve ever read about making a wearable garment. I often think back to it.

This dress could have looked completely dreadful, but I was rather hoping it wouldn’t.

There were a couple of unexpected challenges:
+ cutting giant rectangles without pattern pieces and ensuring you don’t end up with a parallelogram (or even worse, a trapezium). I’m thankful for the sisal rug, a t-square and the retractable tape measure from the toolbox.
+ the fabric was quite textured, slippery and had a slight stretch, so cutting and sewing evenly was rather laborious.
+ pockets were never going to be realistic in this fabric (see above), so I abandoned that idea quite early on.

The overlocker (serger) was absolutely genius and made for stellar finished edges. I really need to investigate how to properly use it – there’s an instructional DVD and booklet which I’ve cheerfully ignored (as I’ve mostly cheerfully ignored the overlocker). Another project for the endless list.

Save for the pockets I mostly stuck to the plan. I realised mid-way through that no matter how simple the elements of the dress are, to make this you need to have a pretty solid understanding of the process of garment construction. I think I often under-estimate my skills and knowledge (in most areas). I mean, it’s not a blazer or a wedding dress, but you need to know what bits to sew when.

On with the pix.


dimensions – my “pattern”


cutting on the rug

The precision and mastery of detail had me pinning and then basting everything. The basting was time-consuming but made for a much more even seam – especially with the slippy fabric.


basting and tools – that tape-measure was amazingly helpful


inside – elastic casing


inside – adjustable elastic waist


twins! side by side comparison

After all that I was pretty pleased with the result.


ACTION SHOT!


ACTION SHOT! too many bags

It was a very hot day and I was expecting to cook because it’s definitely 1000% synthetic. I was pleasantly surprised to be reasonably cool – I suspect the loose fit helped with that.

I ran into JackieChan (our very zany IT Manager) in the lift on the way in to SML, we exchanged greetings and he commented “hey, nice dress” and I kept it all casual with a “thanks, I made it on the weekend”. He responded with a “no way! that’s awesome! are you joking? that’s awesome! you’re joking right? No way!” and called his amazement out to colleagues when we got into the office. Gratifying!

I do think though that I’ll save it for evenings and holidays – it’s a little too shiny for a casual office.

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back in a big way

I am absolutely knackered after a rotten sleep last night and a enervating day – so no update on dress-making today.

I will leave you with this – from an email from third drawer down


yours for only AU$155

Because what decor wouldn’t be elevated by a giant half-eaten corn cob stool?

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achievement achieved

In delightful news, I completed the dress!

It turned out as planned and isn’t too hideous, so I’ll wear it to work tomorrow – though this will likely be a one off as I think being on the shiny side it’s better as evening wear. Tomorrow I will also bore you to death with the making details and perhaps include an action shot.

Not only did I complete the dress, I rode 10km on the exercise bike on Saturday morning, attended yoga this morning, did approximately 87 loads of washing, made dinner inspired by** Homesick Texan’s Roast chicken with bacon, tomatoes, and green chiles, grocery shopped and read a bunch of anyresemblance’s archives after falling down a rabbit hole from a link in this post.

I really feel quite productive and pleased with myself.

I see that for the next little bit (or for always!) I’ll need to ensure I have a defined weekend project that’s not house-work, cooking or ironing related.

xxx

** inspired by because we can’t get most of the ingredients here, so I usually free-style by replacing the can of diced tomatoes and green chiles with a jar of pico de gallo; and the New Mexican red chile powder with half ancho chilli powder and half chipotle chilli powder. Then I chuck in bits of whatever I have around that’s vaguely mexican – couple of chipotles in adobo, some pickled jalapenos, bit of smoky salsa. Rarely tastes the same – always tastes wonderful.

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suck it up, princess

My weekends of late have consisted of laundry, ironing in front of comforting television, occasional mending and a bit of light housework. I have come to find ironing really soothing, I’ll often iron things that don’t really need ironing. I don’t even know who I am anymore.

I’ve set myself one goal for the weekend – that’s to remake this dress from an off-cut I bought from the fabric store just over a year ago.

I actually thought it was much older, but consulted the photographic evidence that I’d meant to post but never got around to – my hard drive is full of such things.

I’m using the black piece at the top. It has quite a nice texture and think cost around $20. I love off-cuts. No idea what I’ll do with those other pieces, but if this is successful I’ll put my mind to those. Need to overcome my ridiculous sewing fear and get my creative mojo back. I quite like this top from the same source as the dress. I’m very into simple shapes and crumpled textures right now. Ironic loving the crumples while having a love for the ironing.

If it all works out, I plan to wear it to SML on Monday.

I’m planning to recreate the dress with small mods – side splits rather than back and will add pockets because everything is better with pockets.

Steps:
01. measure dimensions of existing dress
02. cut fabric (add seam allowances)
03. test sewing machine tension on fabric scrap
04. test overlock tension on fabric scrap
05. overlock around front and back
06. press
07. sew neckline and shoulder seams
08. press
09. try on, mark pocket placement, mark elastic casing placement, mark side splits
10. press
11. sew pockets
12. press
13. sew elastic casing
14. press
15. sew side-seams and splits
16. press
17. insert elastic
18. sew hems
19. press
20. fin

I have a slightly nervous feeling because I can’t recall if I pre-washed the fabric. I usually do this as a matter of course shortly after purchase, do I take the risk? For the non-sewists, risk is that it will shrink / distort after the first wash – rendering all that hard work worthless.

edited to add: I’ve just thrown it in the wash – best to be cautious.

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