21 May 2010

A Dress for Daisy

Once upon a time, two of my very good friends were getting married. It was an evening wedding, and I knew that the bridesmaids dresses were floor length, so I figured it would be on the formal side. I scoured by closet and could not find a single thing to wear. It seemed that every dress I owned was either white or not formal enough or too tight or lacking an appropriate accompanying cardigan or didn't fit right or just not in style. The real problem is that I have become addicted to Mod Cloth. I spend hours on this site cataloging favorites that I will never ever be able to afford to buy. (It's not all that unreasonable considering it is a site that hosts independent designers. I'm just not the sort of person who drops $50-100 on a dress.) Anyway, due to the hours I spend daily on Mod Cloth, for the first time in my life, I have a solid handle on what sort of styles are "in." And there is nothing in my closet even remotely close.

So I figured I would make something. I had tons of jersey fabric I bought last year about this time. I think what happens is it gets warm outside, and in my rejoicing that I don't have to wear sweaters every day, I decide I want to be cute and trendy. But I don't have the money or the peace of mind to go clothes shopping when my dresser overfloweth. So I decide that I should make myself a new wardrobe. Naturally.

Remember back when I got Daisy Dressform? I altered an existing skirt I would never wear into something cute and wearable. Here is the post. I learned a lot from that project, and I listed out all of the little lessons I would take into making clothes in the future. The first lesson was, "When it comes to clothes, it is wise to follow patterns, learn your way around, and earn the right to improvise." So I searched through all my books of patterns looking for just the right dress. But...I had a vision. And of course there was nothing in my pattern books that met my vision. So I improvised. Naturally. (Funny that even in my list of lessons from Daisy's Debut, I said, "Will I follow this advice in the future? Probably not. I have too many exciting ideas." Well, at least I know myself.)

I did start with a skirt pattern I had lying around (Simplicity 4236). Unfortunately, I cut the pattern out in the wrong size. (Note: if you are a 2-4 in real life, you're a 10-12 in simplicity patterns. I have no idea why they do this except to screw with you.) Thankfully, I noticed this before I cut my fabric, but it meant I had to guesstimate what size I should actually be, which meant that I ended up with a bunch of extra fabric in my skirt. Noted. Lesson learned.

Next I needed a top. But of course I didn't have any sort of pattern for the kind of top I wanted. So I took some extra pattern paper left over from my skirt, laid it over my dressform, and cut out the shape I wanted, cutting and taping paper together as needed, like so.

This was absurdly fun. It was kinda like a cross between sculpting and putting together a puzzle. My dad says that to carve a duck decoy, you take a block of wood and carve away whatever isn't duck. (I doubt that concept is original to him, but that's where I learned it.) That's kinda how this felt. I pinned the paper on Daisy and cut away whatever wasn't dress. If I cut too much, I just taped on some extra paper and tried again.

Once I had the shape how I wanted it, I cut out my fabric. I now have the dress fully assembled and pinned to Daisy. And here it is:

And that's where it stopped. I realized that the wedding was 2 days away, and there was no way I'd be able to finish it in time. So I went to H&M and got a $13 dress that was perfect.

Nevertheless, I really do want to finish this dress. It will be gathered a bit at the bodice, and it will get ties at the waist to bring it all together. I'm not sure if it will be stretchy enough as is or if I'll have to add a zipper (*terror*). I also have never sewed with jersey fabric before, so this should be interesting. Also, the other fabric is not jersey, which I'm sure is probably against the rules. But it's just so pretty!

I'm finally beginning to understand how to dress and accessorize in colors. Like Stacy and Clinton say, "It doesn't need to match. It needs to 'go.'" So I chose a complimentary color to the green in this bright reddish pink. It kind of reminds me of a watermelon. And I really like it. But I'm not sure how often I'll wear it. So I need your help here. Should I use all green instead? Or maybe a patterned fabric that has the green in it? Or maybe a royal purple? I just don't know. Which is part of the reason this dress remains unfinished (you know, besides that face that I have no idea what I'm doing and I like it so much now that I'm scared that sewing it will ruin it).

But there you have it. At the very least, it is currently an outfit for Daisy, who has been naked and hiding in a corner since I finished that skirt back in June. How embarrassing!

15 May 2010

Breakfast Pizza

Remember the Great Goat Vote from back in September? Of course you do. Well, as you know, my mom did not win the goats. But that little contest did get me reading the blog that sponsored the contest, and I still read it to this very day. No hard feelings. Okay...a few hard feelings, but I read it nevertheless. Every once in a while, the blog author posts posts called "Probably Something You Would Like." They are little collections of goodies and curiosities and whatnot found online that she thinks her readers will be interested in. Here is an example of a PSYWL. And that just happens to be the very post that inspired one of my weekly makes: Breakfast pizza. Here is the link to the actual website where the recipe is found (sorry...lots of links today) and the picture from that website:
I saw that pizza with the eggs and the cheese and the yummy crust, and I knew that this would be a craving I would not forget. Sure enough, one lovely Saturday morning--the first that Jason and I had together in a very long time due to prolonged weeks of youth group trips and extensive paper writing and whatnot--Jason and I made breakfast pizza. Ours didn't look nearly as good as the original, but seriously...it was amazing.

I changed the recipe somewhat. (Surprise, surprise.) Here, for your duplicating pleasure, is the recipe:

1 pizza dough*
3-4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
Olive oil
2 Tbs butter, melted
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
4 eggs
Whatever other seasonings and toppings you desire

*Yes, I realize I could/should have made my own. But I actually wanted this to happen, so I just bought some pizza dough from the store. You can generally find it in the bakery section.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Spread a bit of olive oil on your baking sheet/pizza pan/baking stone. Then sprinkle it with flour. Dip your hands and the ball of dough into the flour. On a lightly floured counter top, pat the dough into a disc with your fingertips, then drape the dough over your fists and carefully stretch it from beneath to form a 12-inch circle. (That's probably the right way to do it. But if you're feeling more adventurous, you can try tossing the dough like they do in pizza shops.) Place the dough on your oiled/floured pan. Form a crust by folding the edge over all the way around.
Combine the melted butter with garlic salt and Italian spices. Brush this over the entire pizza, crust included.
Then sprinkle the surface with the Parmesan, then the mozzarella, then the bacon.
Gently break the eggs right onto the pizza. (It helps to do this close to the surface, otherwise the egg will plop into your pizza, sending your cheese flying.) Gently puncture the yolks and spread the eggs out just a bit.
(I know if looks gross. Just run with it.)

Top with whatever else you want. I added some fresh parsley just for color. But I think fresh basil would have been fabulous. You can also try mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, onions, ham...basically whatever you like in an omelet would be excellent.

Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the pizza. Bake 2-3 more minutes. If your crust is looking dry, brush it with olive oil. Bake 1-2 more minutes. (Total baking time 8-10 minutes)

Cut the pizza into approximately 3 inch squares with a pizza wheel, and enjoy!
I highly recommend this recipe. It's really easy and fun and very cheap to make and will easily feed 4-5 hungry people.
Another fun variation to try would be to split the dough and have everyone make personal breakfast pizzas with whatever toppings they like. How cute would 4 little pizzas with an egg in the middle be! Also, just because it's called breakfast pizza does not exclude it from being a very satisfying go-to dinner selection. There is no bad time for breakfast!

05 May 2010

Will You Put Me Back Together?

It had been a lonely 4 weeks. Jason took the youth group for a week-long missions trip to New York City. This meant he was missing the last week of his semester, so the week before and the week after the trip included heavy paper-writing. He finally finished everything, and then we had 3 evenings together before he went to Wheaton for his brother's graduation. So between all of that and sitting by myself in my office all day every day, it had been a very lonely 4 weeks. I think I handled it pretty well, all things considered. I am generally pretty bad about being by myself. But it was good to spend some Robin-time, to have some space to myself outside of my office, to repeatedly watch Jane Austen movies, to catch up with my family, to think. It was good, reflective time. But it was also exhausting. Being by myself completely drains me. I am not a very outgoing person, but I am very much an extrovert in that I feed off of other people's energy. It's something I have a hard time creating on my own. When I am alone, simple tasks like eating dinner become daunting. And ambitious plans for crafting fall by the wayside. And the idea of blogging...writing entries that would be littered with loneliness and sadness...it just was not at the top of my to-do list.

A few weeks ago, I had a large personal disappointment. I can't really share it explicitly here at this point. Most of you already know. I was handling it quite well...being very logical and reasonable about it. Bottling my grief and putting on a happy face to share the news with my family and friends and small group. But after the initial shock of the disappointment, and after my prepared speech, I had to deal with the difficult and overwhelming question: "What now?" This is something I was not prepared to face, for all my planning and preparation. How do I move forward? How do I readjust the vision I had thought God had cast for me of this happy little future? How do I reconcile myself to the idea that God gave me a vision that is now not going to be fulfilled? What does that say about God? What does that say about what I should do now? What will my life look like now that I don't have this thing to look forward to? What will happen to my hope, my newly recovered good spirits, my reestablished bounce?

I faced these questions, and I'm still facing them. It has not been easy to continue with life as normal, especially when I have had to spend so much time by myself. I am not completely devastated. I have not lost all hope. But I do feel discouraged, disjointed. I drew this picture as a prayer:

It's based loosely on the style of Emily Martin, one of my favorite etsy artists. (Here is her blog and her shop.) It's not exactly my vision, but my drawings rarely are. Even so, I think it made my point, and it was cathartic in its way.

There have been very few times in my life when a door has been definitively closed. I suppose that makes me lucky. Twice it was my own doing, and twice the decision was made for me. Those four instances have sent my heart wandering down paths that the rest of me does not get to follow. It's an ugly little monster who at best is called, "What if?" and at worst is called "Regret." And as my imagination follows my heart along its own little adventures to undiscovered worlds, I sit in an office. Alone. I don't know when it will all make sense. I don't know how the pieces will come together to reveal a master plan. I fear to be reunited under the current vision of my life, scared that I am doomed to mediocrity. But the fragmentation is painful. It's hard to know who I am with so many unconnected pieces. This most recent disappointment has surely been the least dramatic of my four closed doors. But it has left me raw. It has left me scrambling to recover my carefully guarded survival mode, all the while fearing the zombie as much as the hurt. So I am currently in limbo once again. I am in the waiting. I'm looking forward to a much-needed change one way or another. And in the mean time, I'm up and down. Most of the up has been fueled by the Phoenix Suns sweeping the San Antonio Spurs on their way to the western conference finals. I know it's silly. But I literally cried tears of joy over their victory on May 9th. For all their being beat down by the Spurs over the years, the Suns finally and decidedly defeated their Goliath. And that has given me a strange sort of disembodied hope that good does win over evil, and everything will work out in the end.

There are some exciting things coming including pictures of the long-awaited and now completed granny square blanket, new recipes, a recording, and updates on several UFO's (UnFinished Objects). I hope that today finds you basking in the sunshine or at least heading towards the sun. I'm doing my best to turn my face in that direction.