Friday, February 15, 2008

Super Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day around our house is usually marked by me putting up small displays of hearts and flowers and saved artwork from our kids.
I traditionally make heart shaped cookies and treats to share with friends and neighbors, and Bernie and I exchange cards and maybe a small gift, or he gives me flowers.
This year he was inspired!

While Laura and I shopped in India (so to speak...) he was out shopping!


"Wild make my heart sing!"

Apparently Tigs and Hart shopped too...there were cards from them as well.
"Princess Laura" got a two princess themed gifts, and a different balloon tied on her car as an early morning treat for her to take to work.
It is fun to get a surprise balloon at five a.m. in the morning....
Inside the cute kitty box was the perfect nightshirt for a girl who is working on speaking more foreign languages.
And liking a glass a wine as well.

The princess card had princess stickers inside!
The stickers went on Laura's hospital badge right away.

I got red leather driving gloves, a dragonfly mother of pearl pin, enormous "diamond" stud earrings, a grey scarf with beads and sparkles, and best of all, chocolate silk pajamas!

There he is, my sweetheart, looking proud and happy with his gift giving extravaganza!
And the fun has just begun.
He has planned a Valentine's Day getaway weeking for the two of us to a historic bed and breakfast in Nachitoches (pronounced Nick-o-tish) Louisiana. It is a very old and historic town; one of the French settlement towns in Louisiana.
We'll take a four hour long drive to get there, chatting and listening to music, enjoying the ride as we go.

We're leaving in a couple of hours...hope the forecasted rain won't be too bad.
If it is...well, I guess we'll just have stay inside the inn and snuggle.

Rain or shine, we're sure to have fun!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

We made a quick trip to India Wednesday afternoon....

I'm sorry I didn't get around to posting earlier on Wednesday.
Laura and I decided to head on out to India for the day.
Or at least that is what it felt like after we spent three hours shopping at Roop Sari Palace.

I had seen this store once before. I had been on my way to a business meeting and there had been no time to stop and look around.

I have been wanting to come back ever since. It is on a street called Harwin, which is about 47 miles from my home, so I just never got around to it.
I was always thinking that I would want to go there with a buddy.

Today Laura agreed to be my buddy and away we went.

Here's Laura in the parking lot in front of the enormous store.

We walked inside the store and our jaws just dropped.
Everywhere we looked there were beautiful saris twinkling with jewels and beadwork and embroidery.
We didn't even know how to begin to shop.
We didn't even know what size we wore!

Turns out we are both about a size 42. That is for the top part of the garment, the little crop top short sleeved blouse. It is made of the same fabric as the wrap part of the sari.

Eventually we grabbed a couple of saris and headed to the dressing room, with a nice Indian lady to help us learn the art of pleating and draping the garment.

We looked and tried on, looked and tried on...there was always one more fabulous garment to try. Lively Indian music played as we shopped, and the ladies in the shop looked like flowers walking as they drifted about in their colorful silk garments.

Three hours later Laura had a sari and all the accessories to go with it.
We were hungry by then. Thankfully all we had to do was walk across the parking lot to an Indian buffett restaurant.

I have never tasted such good Indian food!
While we enjoyed every bite and every sip of our mango lasse, we watch an Indian soap opera on the television overhead.

There were lots of soulful looks and silk fabric fluttering in the breeze as the young lovers went about.

I have no idea what the plot was about, but really liked seeing the costumes and the jewelry.
And all those romantic scenes.
I think I want to rent a Bollywood movie real soon!

After lunch we headed out to take in some more of the Harwin shopping. Harwin is the street in Houston where you go to get knock off items and imports for cheap.
Purses, luggage, jewelry, clothing, shoes, rugs, perfume, name it, Harwin has it.

I pointed to a shop that advertised "club wear" clothing and asked Laura to pull into the parking lot. She gave me that look and an "okay...." like she always does when she thinks I don't know what I am asking for.

These two mannequines were just inside the front door of the club wear store.
I think Laura was right; I didn't know what I was asking for.
This yellow dress isn't exactly my kind of clothes.
If the gal in yellow was in San Diego, she could enter the Miss Emerson contest.
As in "Em are some big 'ums..."
(San Diego insider joke.)

Next door was another sari shop. It was closed, darnit, but look at how gorgeous the bead work was on this one!

I got in some good shopping elsewhere: Aqua crystal dangle earring for $5.49, five pashmina wraps ($5 each, buy four get one free), and Laura got a red silk scarf hip wrap with gold coins. Perfect for belly dancing. She's taken a class and knows how to make those coins really jingle!

After that we headed home. As we drove, we talked about how fun it would be to one day go to India together.

Laura said she would fly in jeans, but before the plane landed, she would slip into the bathroom and change into an Indian:

Indian: As in dot, not feather.
The girl can ROCK a sari!

She knows all the moves.

She's got the look down from every angle.

And all the accessories too.

The forehead mindi, earrings with chain that extends into the hair and the necklace: bought as a set.
Cost: $10
Bangles: $10

Pretty, huh?

The hip ornament was pricy: $20.
So worth it; it jingles a bit while you walk.
We looked at saris that were $2,000. They were breathtaking.
Wondering how much this sari cost?
Take a guess.
The answer will be at the end.

It is surprising how much fabric is used in the wrap.
Laura wanted me to try on her sari too for Bernie to enjoy.
She helped me get the pleats and drapes right.
The pleats and the draping makes all the difference.
When you do it wrong, you look like you are just wrapped up in a bunch of sheets.
When you do it right....

It looks like this!

I love how the crop top and wrapped skirt lets the rolls of fat around the middle actually look kind of cute. You know, graceful like. Fluid and sensual. Comfortable with yourself.

The sari cost $33.00. Who could resist a bargain like that?
Come to think of it, the whole day was a bargain.
And totally priceless as well.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In honor of....

Happy 199th Birthday Mr. Lincoln!

When I was growing up we used to get Lincoln's birthday off from school. At the beginning of February teachers would put his picture up on classroom wall, and sometimes we would make log cabins out of pretzel sticks. Other years we would make black top hats out of construction paper to wear as we had a party in the classroom in his honor.

EVERYONE knew about Abe Lincoln: He was honest, he walked a long way to return a book he had borrowed, he studied in front of the fire in his cabin.

It wasn't until much later that we delved into the horrors of the Civil War and his years of leadership in a very troubled time.

The one fact that we all knew by heart though was: "President Lincoln freed the slaves."

A few years ago I was working in an elementary school. I had a chance to talk to some kids; they were probably around seven, eight or nine years old.

I asked them who Lincoln was. They were not sure.
I asked them who Martin Luther King was.
They all agreed that King had been a President of the United States.
They firmly disagreed with me when I informed them otherwise.

I'm a big fan of Google. Today when I went to the Google home page I noticed that the colorful Google letters were in usual style.
The Google logo is often changed to give a nod to specific holidays.
The 50th anniversary of Lego bricks was honored on January 28th for instance. You can see some of the logo changes here.
And incidently, Martin Luther King has been honored every year on his birthday for the past several years.

Curiously, and outrageously, the same has not been true for any of the birthdays of Mr. Lincoln.

I guess freeing the slaves and being President just isn't important enough to warrant a Google logo.

Honestly. What ever is the world coming to when Lego blocks trumps a history changing President.

Or freeing people from the horrors of slavery.

If you wish to remind yourself about the details of Mr. Lincoln's life, here is a link to a site about him and his life. Perhaps you would like to spread the word about his life today as well by noting that today is his birthday on your blog too!

Please share a memory in the comments of this blog of how you used to celebrate Mr. Lincoln's birthday as a child if you have a memory of doing so. I'd really be interested in learning how other parts of the country celebrated his birthday.

(PS: I intend to email google about this as well. Feel free to drop them a line too. Click here to write to them.)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Day trip to Lake Livingston

It was sunny and warm yesterday as I noted on my post. It took us a while to get it together but around three we finally got in the car and head north to Lake Livingston. The lake is an hour drive away, and it is somewhat silly to drive that far to see a lake when we could just as easily walk to the end of our street and see Lake Houston, but sometimes you just have to get out and about, ya know what I mean?

As this sign points out, there are seven ecological regions in Texas. We live in the blue band called the Gulf Coast, but our forests are considered "Piney Woods."
I think the name "Piney" is funny. If the woods were made up of oak trees would they have named it the Oaky Woods? The Elmy Woods?
We actually get a lot more rain than the Pacific Northwest most years. People carry on about rain in Seattle, their average of 36 inches is nothing. We have had 36 inches in a day here.
Any hoo, Bernie, Laura and I took a nice slow amble through the nature trail. It wasn't very exciting really. We saw a few big bull frogs in the frog pond, and two other people.
Ho hum.
The Cedar Waxwings usually have come by now and stripped the live oak of their beautiful berries.
Wonder what gives with the Waxwings this year?
Lake Livingston.
There are a lot of lakes in Texas, yet only one lake, Caddo Lake, is natural. All the rest are man made. It is pretty incredible to think about that fact.
You can rent a camping cabin for thirty bucks a day right on the edge of the lake, or a space for ten bucks. B. and I have been here once before and thought it would be very relaxing to come here and camp sometime in the five or six days a year when it isn't too hot or cold to be enjoyable.
We always compare places like this to our home town of San Diego.
If this dock was in So. Calif. it would be crawling with people. Mexican music would be blaring, picnics and kids would be everywhere.
We saw one boat head out, and two people fishing from the dock. The lake has bass and catfish, crappie, and sunfish.
As we left the park we saw this sign.
I guess some people don't like spiders....

A very pretty sunset....

And we stopped for dinner at a local restaurant. Drinking beer and/or alcohol "Even in Brown Paper Bags" is illegal. I think that is funny.
I wonder which towns you can drink your booze on the street if it is in a brown paper bag?
Any takers for beer drunk out of a pretty gift bag?
Hof Brau restaurant.

Bernie ordered Chicken Fried Chicken.
I ordered a half portion of Chicken Fried Steak.
A full portion fills up a serving tray and hangs over a bit.
Does everyone understand the difference between Chicken Fried Chicken and Chicken Fried Steak?
Anyway, it was a nice day.
Made me want to find a good book and go back and sit by the lake under a tree and read.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Anniversary of being in pieces

The WIP:

A chocolate velvet cocktail hat.
Above after ruching the top of the hat. The side of the hat is incomplete.

I had purchased the velvet last November; at the time I was thinking of some other design that would require less yardage. Not having enough yardage made this project problematic; the yardage was not wide enough to cut a true bias strip for covering the side.

Here is the hat with the side almost bias band just tucked inside. As usual, I am now facing engineering issues: the side band is not as smooth as I would like, plus the seaming is irregular.

The red heart hat that is pictured at the top of my blog was being created on this day a few years back. It was my first attempt at making a heart hat. I had intended to have it completed for a Valentine's Day date.
Instead I found myself being discharged from the hospital on that Valentine's Day after having major surgery. The red heart hat actually is my Hysterectomy Hat.
You can read the story about that hat on my post on this day a year ago at Red Heart Hysterectomy hat
I apparently have learned little since I created the red hat. I didn't even try to use bias on the red one; I just scrunched the fabric and it turned out actually pretty cute.
I did learn from the red one to shape the edge to match the contour of the forehead.
I made another error in this brown hat: I began edging this hat at the heart's point, and after stitching half way around the hat realized that would leave a seam at the point, at the bottom of the hat where it would be very visible.
I should of begun at the top of the hat so the seam would be at the top of the hat, in the cleft of the heart.
Double duh.
The thought of tearing it out crossed my mind, and that made me cross, so I decided instead to just make a diagonal fold on the side as a design element. Actually I like that element.
I've been sewing inside the hat, through the edge of the velvet (which leaves little brown specks EVERYWHERE!) and stabbing my needle (and myself in the process) through the buckram (the white screen like materials), trying to slide the needle between the wire outlining the tip (top of the hat) and the edge, catching a stitch in the seam.

I am sure that there has to be a better and easier way to do this.
Sewing on a curve inside a heart shape, stabbing blindly...somebody help me, please?
I wanted to use some brown french veiling, but it really doesn't work with this design, so I'll save that for another project. I also wanted to use beads and feathers; today I am still pondering how to attach the feathers.
The silk lining....another "I'm not sure how I'm going to make that part work."
Anyway, this is after all a work in process. There is no pattern to follow. It is all learn as I go.
I still have about half of the side to tuck inside and attach. I've already jabbed my finger once today, and I am feeling very critical of the piece. I wish I had not worked the ruching so tightly against the edge, (working tight is always an issue for me, whether I am painting or doing millinery work. I have to remember to loosen up.)
Right now it is a gorgeous day outside.
I'm going to put it aside for now and head out to the sunshine.
It is too pretty of a day to stay inside anyway.