Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Journaling Project... Maybe



I have never kept a successful journal in my life.  Even in my Advanced Directing class, I could not complete the journal project that accompanied all the scene work I was doing with my actors.  I finally went to my awesome professor and said, "I'm so sorry, but I am a terrible journal keeper.  Can I do something else instead?"  I love having open-minded profs who say "Yes."  I couldn't keep a journal when a grade and a degree depended on it, so why am I revisiting the topic now?

Because I read this article via Sal at Already Pretty (LOVE HER).  It has stayed with me for almost five months now (a long time for someone who cannot remember what she ate for breakfast yesterday).  Five months of thinking, "This could be really good for me."  Which then turned into, "This could really be good for me and for my friends."  So I looped in three of my best girlfriends.  On September 1, we are beginning our journals and following along with this crazy, inspiring, brilliantly written book.  I have had a copy for a month and have been flipping through it and reading all of the wonderful journal prompts and I CANNOT WAIT TO WRITE.  I cannot wait to discover me, to empower me, to view myself as I really am and not how I interpret myself to be. 

I get down on myself ... it happens.  I think everyone does it - I've yet to meet a person whose biggest critic lived outside of their body.  Maybe a year of writing positively about myself, about my body and about my mind will improve how I view the world and my place in it.  If nothing else, I think it is an excellent way to keep things fresh for a year- a new day, a new page, a new prompt. 

And who knows?  Maybe there is a journal keeper lurking inside of me somewhere :)

Yay for everyone who will be joining the Meg/Mena/Debi/Oona NYC PARTAY!  There is a huge bubble of joy inside of me :)   If you didn't see the other epic posts, check out Debi's here and Oona's here!!

Have a most fantastic night, all!! 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A BIG ANNOUNCEMENT OMG


September 30. New York City.  Make it happen, Friends!

*EDIT* MENA TROTT IS COMING, YA'LL!!!!!  This is a very big deal. For reals.

We are targeting a late morning/early afternoon picnic in the one and only Central Park, fabric shopping (because we are all fashionistas, of course), and then dinner someplace amazing.

If you are game, leave a comment with a good email address to reach you at, and we will be sending you the details :)


Happy Sunday!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I'm Bringing Zesty Back

Hello, Friends! 

I got a lovely email from a reader asking if I had any suggestions about getting the zestiness back.  I thought I might share some of the ways I reclaimed my sanity and my life with all of you in case anyone else was interested. (I apologize ahead of time for the wordiness of the post - I did try and add awesome quotes to break it up a little.  Regular sewing posts to return tomorrow!!)

*Note: I am not a zesty guru.  I welcome any and all comments/suggestions!*
via Pinterest
1.  Try something new.  It could be as simple as taking a new route to work, eating a new kind of condiment on your sandwich, or doing your hair differently for the day.  Download the free iTunes song of the week, try lemon tea if you typically drink English Breakfast, find a motto for your workout (I like "This is my sexy face"), or paint your toenails a new color.

 My first full year in Chicago, I decided to write down all the new things I did.  I made an entire list, and I believe the full amount would come to about 400 new things tried in one year.  Some of the things were as basic as trying a new kind of cheesecake or taking a train line I've not been on before, and some were a little more extensive, like walking out of a job where I was being bullied (I had given notice and had another job starting the next week) or figuring out what a 401K is.  Writing everything down gave me a chance to revisit all of those memories while making me feel like I had accomplished a ton in one year. 

Whenever I feel like I am in a rut, I add new things to my schedule.  I buy a Groupon for a restaurant I haven't eaten in before, or I try a new class at the workout studio I go to, or I do some instant gratification sewing (taking in a t-shirt, putting a zipper in a bag, etc).  These little things help keep things fresh and interesting for me, and also give me new things to talk about when I come into contact with other life forms :) 


via Pinterest
 2.  Set goals for yourself.  Inspired by this little tidbit about Carlos Santana, the uber fabulous musician, I decided this year to set two goals for myself: learn basic French and learn to knit.  Last week, I had saved up enough money for French language classes at a French cultural center near my apartment and I sat down on Friday and taught myself to knit.  It's not pretty, and it's just the knit stitch over and over, but I am super proud of it just the same.


via Pinterest


I look at goals as something completely different from resolutions.  With resolutions, you are resolving to do something, and usually, it's giving something up or changing habits.  I think there is also quite a bit of guilt if you don't succeed, or I may just be speaking for myself.  In my mind, there is an overwhelming societal pressure to change myself when the New Year comes to call.  I want to start afresh, and if I somehow fail, well, then this year was no better than last.  I've already strayed from my resolution, so why not give up on it altogether?  Goals give me a little leeway - I can start eight months into the year and still have it accomplished by December - thus, reaching my goal for this year.  I like flexibility.  Goals, for me, also mean creating new habits.  I look at goals as a way to improve myself through learning and new experiences (learning French, learning how to knit), while I look at resolutions as a way to improve myself by changing what habits are already there (nail biting, procrastination, saving money, etc).

I view resolutions and goals as a hike up a hill.  With resolutions, you start out at the peak but need to remain on that peak in spite of snow, rain, honey badgers, and mosquitoes.  With goals, you are working past those things to reach the peak - there is a journey involved.  Resolutions, to me, involve arriving at the end point without having the background to stay there.  Resolutions and goals are both difficult, but not unachievable. 


via Pinterest

3.  Set resolutions, but only set two at a time.  I used to overwhelm myself with trying to change everything I didn't like NOW.  I wanted to be healthier, drink more water, stop biting my nails, remember birthdays, stop procrastinating, and be nicer to everyone in general.  I was defeated before I began because I was setting my sights too wide.  So this year, I have one resolution: I will not purchase manufactured clothing from a store or website (aside from running clothes); I will make/remake only.  I have pretty much stuck to this resolution aside from the t-shirt I bought for myself for my birthday ... and there was plenty of guilt involved with that.
4. Let go of the negativity in your life.  This is so much easier said than done, but once done, you may notice a difference in your life.  This one was particularly hard for me because it meant admitting that some of the relationships in my life were toxic.  I have enough negativity happening around me every day in the world that to allow it in my personal bubble was just too much.  I want to be surrounded by positivity as much as possible.

via Pinterest

I started by going through my Facebook friends and assessing which ones made me feel good about myself and which ones did not.  Unfortunately, the ones who did not included family members and friends who I have known for years.  I deleted these people, and then I blocked them from seeing me on Facebook again.  In my mind, it was like putting up a mental wall that said, "Your presence is not welcome in my life.  I don't need the drama or anguish anymore.  I'm starting over."  Some of the people asked why I did it, and I told them how I viewed our relationship, but most didn't notice.  And that's ok, too.

Eliminating negativity meant I had to be honest with myself.  It also meant I had to be honest with others, no matter how awkward the conversation.  Trust me, those were some pretty awkward conversations!  In the end, though, I knew I had to take care of me and my mental and emotional health.  I am important.  These are important things.


via Imgfave


Friends, all of these things I've listed above are what I used to improve my quality of life, to get my "zestiness" back.  I cannot say that these will work for everyone, but these were my cornerstones on my path back to happiness.

Please leave any suggestions you have, or any comments/points of view below!  I love to read about all of you and your experiences :)

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sew Weekly Challenge: That 70's Sew or "A Disco Dame's Romper Refashion"

Rompers are where it is at, ya'll... until that is no longer where it is at.  For the time being, we are going to pretend that rompers will always be in fashion and I have not made something that will be torn apart by Anna Wintour in two months.

Here we have a romper pattern cover from the 1970s, proving that these particular styles do come around once every ten to fifteen years.  I like to think that I am striking while the iron is hot, though I do enjoy the idea that I'll be whipping this baby back out in 2026.


 The pattern I used was a bit more modern than the one seen above: McCalls 6332.  I bought it on a whim, but then I found the perfect fabric...
 
I had this fabulous blue linen skirt in my possession, courtesy of Mama Grand.  I knew it was my romper, looking for a new home. 
  

Finally, after six months of sewing an occasional seam here and there, it was finished:

I had a very limited amount of fabric to work with, so the halter straps have been pieced together.  The pattern called for an exposed zipper down the front.  I completely disregarded this and put a zipper in the side.  I do not want people's first impression of my epic romper to be influenced by a sketchy zipper.


Gimme that night fever, night fever ... I know how to show it.


I LOVE the back.  It scoops down pretty low, so we are going sans bra with this one.  I don't mind - the straps hold everything in their rightful place.  I am a big fan of the huge enormous bow! The shorts are a little shorter than the pattern calls for, but this is due to the limited fabric.  I like the moment when I went to piece it all together and the front short pieces were three inches longer than the back.  Oy vey!


My least favorite part of this outfit might just be those shorts.  I have two large scars on my upper thigh from getting two moles removed, and the length of these shorts shows the scars off pretty well.  Aside from that, I like the way my legs look in this outfit.  And that is saying A LOT.

Overall, I like how it turned out.  When I was trying to finish it up for this challenge, I kept telling myself not to give up on it yet, and I am glad I didn't.  The weather here has been PERFECT lately, so hopefully it sticks around for a few more weeks while I get some miles out of this linen wonder.

This is my real life friend, Stephy.  She was rooting me on from the sidelines during the photo shoot.  She's awesome like that.  Of course, my fabulous photographer is awesome too (yes, I am talking about YOU, you big silly panda).


Tell me, Friends ... have you ever made something that was immediately trendy but maybe didn't have any staying power?  Should I just come to grips with the fact that this pattern might win an ugly pattern contest in the next year?

Let me know - I would LOVE to hear your thoughts!

PS.  Thank you for all of your lovely comments on "Zest for Life."  I sincerely hope each of you is happy in your everyday endeavors, and I so appreciate you being here as a part of mine!

Bloggy hugs all around :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sew Weekly Challenge: VIP Stash or "I See London, I See France...I Have Central Park In My Armpit."

No, seriously.  There it is.

This fabric has been in my stash for a LONG time.  I'm guessing it has been travelling with me for at least seven years now, and I have never had the heart to attach it to a project.  I could never find the right pattern to show off all of the different locations on the fabric, and I knew that the fabric needed to be the focal point and the style would reflect that.

Absolutely nothing jumped out at me, so I went looking for it for this challenge.  I've never purchased a New Look pattern before, so when I was browsing through the selection of patterns listed on the Simplicity website, I was surprised by all of their fabulous styles.  This one stole my heart:


New Look 6648 View A featured everything I envisioned for this top: kimono sleeves, wide neckline, and fabric completely on display.  I rushed to Hancock Fabrics and snatched it up.  They weren't kidding when they said it was easy!

Seriously.  I had four pieces to cut out for this shirt, which was great since I only had about one yard of fabric to work with.  

London. Venice. Paris.  New York.  People can visit these locations just by poking me.  I do not recommend this, however, as poking is impolite and makes Meg stabby.

This fabric was a dream to sew and I love the final result.  I'm so glad I finally took the plunge and used it!

As for the pattern, I am itching to try out View C (wrap top) and View D (sleeveless cowl top) - I think these would be great for work or evenings out.

Speaking of evenings out, we are heading somewhere fabulous!  I have no idea where that is, but I trust Rob not to take us into shady territory.

Have a fantastic night, all!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Zest for Life....

Yesterday, I celebrated my three year anniversary of moving to Chicago.  This was quite possibly THE BEST DECISION EVER.

Before I moved here, things were not so fabulous.  I was engaged to a controlling person who did not have my best interests at heart, but I couldn't see that because I was in the situation.  These things happen.  My family stepped in and said I needed to move to Chicago and pursue my lifelong dream of doing theatre here.  Actually, I think my father's exact words to my then fiancee were: "If she doesn't move to Chicago, I'm going to hold it against you until five minutes after I die."
We Grands are a fiercely loyal bunch, ya'll.  (I thank my father all the time, BTW).


So, I moved here and the relationship ended.  And then my world positively exploded.

I saw "It's a Wonderful Life" for the first time.  I tried sushi (AND LOVED IT).  I learned to navigate public transportation.  I tried tapas (bacon wrapped dates OMG).  I quit smoking and ran a marathon. 

I even held a "Megan's Not Getting Married" Bar Crawl on the day I was supposed to get married. 


I reflect on these things every year and I am so very thankful for the opportunities I've had.  I've got a zest for life that renews itself when I think of the things I could have missed out on.  

I hope each and every one of you finds and holds onto your zest for life.  There is so much to do in this big wide world if only we reach out and grab it!
Have a fantastic Tuesday, all!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sew Weekly Challenge: Peer Review or Sweetly Sheer Sorbetto

That Mena Trott Sewing up seven Sorbettos in a week.  She is the Sorbetto Superwoman.

How could I not be inspired by that? Especially her lovely pleated neckline version??


Mine, of course, is a little more sheer than hers and does not have sleeves... which means the wind goes through it like butter.

I picked this fabric because it was lonely and I had no previous ideas for it.  It's a polyester silk blend, so it was a little strange until I ironed it - then it began to flow beautifully.  I had just enough for the body of the shirt (sans pleat down the front) and the pleated neckline.

It was a little difficult to do rolled hems with the fabric, so.... the top of the shoulders are a little weird.

But who cares about sleeves when you can throw on a jacket? This is what I wore last night, but since I was caught in a downpour, I had to wait for it to dry for these pictures.

I love this top.  While the arm holes are a little funky, I am still a big fan of the pleated neckline.  It just looks sooooo pretty.  That Mena Trott - she's so smart :)

Have a great Sunday, all!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Elvis Has Left the Building

It's like an epic romper with a cape, really.  And obnoxious flowers.  And a big black belt with a buckle...

 

but do not underestimate the power of Burda 8404!

This is probably one of the most interesting things I have ever made.  The colors alone are worth noting.  Have you ever seen Elvis in something like this?  Not in public, no...


...but I will bet you ANYTHING that he rocked out in this in his Jungle Room.  The man had good taste.


It is some fabulous rayon knit hideousness going on here.  THE COLLAR WOULD NOT LAY FLAT.  I may have thrown it on the floor and stomped on it once.  I am the queen of patience when it comes to funky knit fabrics.

There were many of us Elvii.  We are like a brotherhood.


I HAVE A CAPE, YA'LL!  (I make the whooshing noises)


Look, people actually want to be around me when I am wearing this!


Oh, HAI.


I am running all the miles!! No, seriously, I run with my arms flapping to deter bugs from flying in my mouth. 


Recovery food: peanut butter banana sandwich, chocolate covered frozen banana, water, and WATERMELON.  Very wise, race organizers... very wise, indeed.

 

Remember how I talked about possibly wearing this for my half marathon on Sunday?  Well... it's not going to happen.


The romper/mini jumpsuit ripped entirely down the middle.  Thankfully, my race number covered it up, but it's unrepairable.  I guess I took it off/put it on one too many times and my shimmying just was too much for it.  What can I say?  Hips don't lie.  Neither does ripping fabric.


I love a race that ends with someone handing me a beer.  Can you see how much hair I have?  It's obscene.  It needs to be cut.  I've begged Rob to do it, but he's a little wary.


What would an Elvis run be without an Elvis impersonator I ask you??

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your help with the Disney Princess costume... you guys are BRILLIANT.  

I was not for Ariel (at all) until I read your comments.  Oona's idea for drawing on tights, combined with Beangirl's skirt and tail, along with Molly's leotard and Allison's idea for fins on shoes...OMG.  Mind = blown.  And as for Amy's idea to run a race wearing a costume and get entered into a Guinness Book of Records?  Oh, the ideas you have given me!!!

Thank you for giving me so many laughs - I loved hearing all of your ideas!  Here's to hoping I don't disappoint you as construction on the outfit begins :)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Costumes + Running = Not Hating Running

Sorry for the lack of posting lately, Friends...but I have been working on my epic Elvis jumpsuit for tonight's race!  It is a thing of wonder, really...as in, "I wonder how I am going to get this crazy thing on???"  I'm also wondering if I can wear the jumpsuit for the half marathon (13.1 miles of tears) on Sunday morning.  It's the Rock N Roll half marathon and I think running as Elvis might be the right thing to do.  This will depend on the weather because I am not wearing a wig in 90 degrees.  I like living too much.

As some of you know, I've been training for the marathon in October (WHATWASITHINKING).... but what you may not know is that I just signed up for another race for February 2012:


....because I like shiny things...


...and running to my castle before the sun rises...

...AND MAKING A SWEET LOOKING COSTUME!  Friends, it is only natural that I would want to dress as a princess who has red hair.  This leaves me with only two choices, one of which has me wearing seashells for a bra (not exactly supportive enough during a 13.1 mile run, ya know??):

Ariel


or Giselle, the epic almost princess who wears actual clothing.

I mean, how awesome would it be to make this dress?

Or this dress?

Of course, these would be made in shorter versions (knee length or shorter) and possibly longer in the back.  I swear I could hide two water bottles and two Gu packs in each of those sleeves if I made the white dress.  Hydration is key, ya'll.

It is occasions that call for running in costumes that remind me why I like running: for the races!  I had never run before January 2010, but I had a marathon on my bucket list and I figured it would be easier to do if I started while I'm younger.  So I learned how to run.  And ten months later, I ran a marathon.  I do not recommend this craziness to anyone, but I proved to myself that I could do anything I put my mind to.  If you're interested in running, check out the Couch to 5K program - it got me started on this crazy insane path.

Back to the awesomeness that is sewing: which dress should I make?  Or, should I just paint seashells on my sports bra? I realize finding patterns for the dresses is going to be a bit difficult, but Halloween is coming up so I might be able to locate something similar in style.

Friends, your help in this matter would be so greatly appreciated!  Have a fantastic day and see you tomorrow with my Elvis photos :)


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sew Weekly Challenge: Western or "Cowboys and Aliens"

.... and by "aliens" I mean "UFOs" .... as in "Unfinished Objects".  Get it?! Bah dum chee.  I'm here all week, folks.  Please tip your waitress.

When we moved, I packed some patterns that had already been cut out in fabric.  Some of these have been cut out for three months, some six months.  Either way, they were sitting there taunting me and needed to be gone!

I used the shorts pattern from Simplicity 2659...


 

...and used Version B of McCall's 5138...

(something about this pattern feels semi-Western to me)

...and voila! Throw on my $5 cowboy boots that I bought at a Payless in Oklahoma, and I am ready to go two-stepping.  It's more of a modern Western outfit ala "small rural town where the citizens outlaw dancing" rather than "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly."

Speaking of dancing, the first song I ever two-stepped to was Brad Paisley's "Ticks."  If you've never heard it, it's hilarious.  



My boots have butterflies on the outside and Dr. Scholl's inserts on the inside.  Yep.  I'm gellin'.


I love the shirt.  I had just enough fabric and there are some pieces that are sewn together rather sketchily.  (Don't look at the collar or the shirt cuffs) The shorts were due to have cuffs ... but there wasn't enough fabric left over.  This outfit is one big scrap pile that I tried to make wearable, and overall, I'm pretty pleased.
I used bias tape on the collar seam for a little variety.


Ah, summer.  How I love thee.

 

Off to get ready for dinner and to work on my Elvis jumpsuit!
I hope you are all having a great weekend!