Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Moving Forward

I can't believe that I've been a California Girl for one year and two days.

This was Logan before we even left for our journey west, making for darn sure that I didn't leave him behind (once we were on the road, he was inside the carrier that he's sitting on).

One year ago right now, I was absolutely freaking out. I had barely found us a place to live, neither of us had a job, and the future was so unclear. I think I may have gotten a call right about now to arrange an interview at my current job and I was praying soooo hard that I'd get it... but was soooo scared that I wouldn't!

Lucky me, I was hired about a week later and started school at the end of August. Kevin and Logan took me to school and work every morning until Kevin was lucky enough to find a job later in the fall.

Everything always falls into place.

I spent my last blog entry recapping my past year... now I'm looking forward and wondering what this next year will bring?

I'm feeling more confident at work than I did basically the entire first year. So that's good.

I hope that confidence follows me to my classes. But the word is, the entire grad school experience is spent feeling like you missed a year of school that everyone else attended. So maybe I will hope for the confidence to "embrace the messy," as my professors say, and accept what I cannot control.

After my first week of school, which happens to be my birthday week, we are going to move to a new studio. I'm pretty excited. This current place has done the job, but I'm ready to leave the apartment life behind and we are moving into a private section of a house. No more noisy neighbors. No Krazy Kids running down the halls. No more urban issues that I'm done experiencing. We'll be in a decent residential neighborhood. The size of our home will be tiny, but I'm excited for the challenge to make the space into a cozy home.

And then... a year from now, who knows where we'll be? I'll be the proud recipient of a hard-earned Master's degree and hopefully employed.

But where?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June Gloom and Drive-In Theaters

Before we moved out here, I had visions of the beach life. I thought Malibu, affectionately referred to as "the 'bu" by locals, was going to be this quaint little beach town with boutiques all along the shore. I imagined parking with ease, walking on a wooden boardwalk, and spending days lounging on the sand, maybe stopping at a cute concession stand for a lemonade on occasion.

I don't know where I got this picture of a beach town. Maybe books painted it really well in my mind. Previously, I'd been to Martha's Vineyard, but I don't remember what that looks like, Virginia Beach, St. Thomas, and San Diego. Though all of these are fun places, none of them fit my expectations of Malibu (or Santa Monica or Venice)...

The drive to Malibu is amazing. The kind of beauty that a photograph can't capture, though I've tried.

The Pacific Ocean is, of course, gorgeous. It's an ocean. How do you describe the mystic beauty of an ocean without getting all cheesey and poetic?

But Malibu... The Pacific Coast Highway (PCH, if you're cool) runs all along the shore, so my visions of a quiet shore lined with boutiques were shattered. Cars park all along the highway to avoid paying the parking fees of the parking lots, so parking with ease and taking a leisurely stroll to the beach doesn't happen until winter. Neither does finding a nice little space to call your own. Although Santa Monica is more touristy and Venice is known for its zany antics, Malibu is packed. As soon as we think we've found the perfect, quiet spot to settle down, I'll roll out my towel, lay back, close my eyes for a while and when I open them, a family of five will be blinking back expectantly at me.

And this during June Gloom. 

Apparently, this time of year, clouds hover over the beaches all day and the sun doesn't peek out until early afternoon. I don't really mind this, because, this is weird to admit, but I miss rain. I miss weather. Eighty to one hundred-and-something and sunny everyday with no chance of rain or thunderstorms or wind or pixie dust or something gets old. After spending the entire school year locked up in my apartment or the library studying, I spent two weekends outside and people couldn't believe how dark my skin is.

It turns out I'm part Indian.

Anyway, this "June Gloom" in the beach towns, opposed to all sun, all the time in the valley is allegedly keeping beach-goers away until July, when we will all go to the beach– Malibu, Hermosa, Redondo, all of them– and spoon. Allegedly keeping them away.

Spoon with strangers is basically what we did last weekend. We headed to Malibu, I got settled in with my book and Kevin fell asleep. When he woke up, there was a huge, 5 feet deep hole at his feet. Teenagers were taking turns burying themselves in it while their mom sang, "Smiiiile!! Smiiiile!" at them as she took their pictures when they were neck-deep in the sand. 

I was in the mood for some old-timey fun after spending my day listening in on the details of these kids' lives, so we looked up a drive-in movie theater and found one that has not one, but four movie screens an hour and a half away. If you want, you can watch three different movies at three different screens. 

It's pretty cool. 

We packed up the puppy, loaded up on snacks from the 99 Cents store and headed out. Seriously, we loaded up on snacks. I had meant for us to buy maybe three different healthy items. Instead, we bought the three bags of dried fruits, then added boxes of candy, a bag of chips, and some chocolate. It was pretty ridiculous. Movies do that to us. It's like we were afraid we'd starve while we waited for the sun to set for the movie to begin.

We saw The Internship, which I thought was very hilarrrrious, and Now You See Me, which I thought was very dumb. But The Internship and the fact that two movies only cost $9 made up for one bad movie.

So THAT was one summer weekend in Southern California.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

California Livin'

Once upon a time, I packed up and moved from the midwest to Los Angeles.

Like, from a town with a population of 20,000 (maybe 60,000 during the school year) to a metropolis with a population of something like 10-18 million.

And I mean packed. 

A year ago, I was going through our two bedroom apartment- already downsized from our three-bedroom, two-story house- and getting rid of every single thing that we had collected over the years. If it was truly something we absolutely never used, it was donated. If it was something important that we'll need at some point, like a dining table or dresser, it was sent to my mom's basement for storage. If it was something we absolutely had to have (iron, dishes, wardrobes), it was packed in the most compact manner possible. 

We fit every necessary belonging for two adults (and a puppy) into two cars. Not SUVs, not minivans. Two sedans. I am the master at packing.

A year later, I have absolutely no clue what is waiting for me at my mom's house.

Anyway, we made this move because I was accepted to grad school, which is both an incredibly exciting experience, and one of the most intimidating, intense experiences I've ever had. 

I should have been documenting my entire experience since last year. In fact, I tried to, but I'd get so scared while I started to write that I started to cry, so I stopped. Scared of the unknown. Scared of whether I could handle it. 

I wanted this adventure and I'm really excited to experience this journey. I wanted to see what was outside of the walls of the midwest and I'm finally here, seeing things I never knew was out there to see.

And now I'm ready to start documenting my adventures because I don't want to forget everything and, truth is, I have a terrible memory. I don't even know what I ate today. So I better write this stuff down before I forget it. 

So, a few highlights of my life out here so far before I move forward and write about The Present Day:

August 2012
We moved here and two days later, I had a job interview. That was just good luck. I got the job and am an editor for a marketing department. It's basically awesome.

On my birthday, we went to the Walk of Fame for the first time. I learned that you can't actually get a close view of the Hollywood sign, the way they show it in the movies... but you can see it from Hollywood Blvd, and I saw it for the first time this day.

A day or so before my birthday, we went to a taping of the Conan O'Brien show... in a way, it sort of ruined the magic of the show... but in a way, it's super surreal to think I was there. He and some of his band members were just an arms-length away from me at some points, because I had an aisle seat... it's hard to believe it.

September 2012
For The Mister's birthday, I took him mini-golfing in Sherman Oaks, mostly because I was excited that the Olsen twins were born in Sherman Oaks. 

October 2012
To get myself away from homework and into the Halloween spirit, we found a pumpkin patch. It turns out, this pumpkin patch is where celebrities who want to be seen go. It had a specific "zoo" for paparazzi to stand in and wait for celebrities to arrive, and they had to stay there to take photos of the celebrities during their visit. Selma Blair (Cruel Intentions, Legally Blonde) grabbed her toddler and pranced right up next to me to pose for the photographers. Then a man who had been photographed as her "mystery man" in the tabloids snuck in later and watched her toddler while she ran around the pumpkin patch. Actually, her toddler bumped into us and *I* apologized to her friend, but he ignored us and called the child over.

On our way out, The Mister spotted a white porsche and saw Hilary Duff step out. That was a weird day and the first time I realized that the paparazzi don't always go to the celebrities... sometimes the celebrities go to them.

November 2012
We went to a taping of The Talk. I really like hosts and had fun... maybe mostly because they gave out a lot of prizes during the breaks...

My dad visited for Thanksgiving, so I had an excuse not to study and go check out the area. We had lunch by the beach in Malibu. We checked out the pretty Christmas tree on the Walk of Fame. My favorite part was after Thanksgiving dinner, we went to Rodeo Drive and all of the stores were closed, so hardly anyone was there. Christmas music seemed to magically float down to us from the skies and the street was all lit up with Christmas lights. Best of all, the window displays were amazing AND they had the prettiest Christmas tree in the area. That was one of my favorite evenings here.

December 2012
One of the neighborhoods in the valley has a 50 year old tradition where every single house goes all out with Christmas decorations. Some have real Santas in their sleighs, some have a crazy amount of lights, like on National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation... it's a real sight to see, and The Locals all know about it and slowly cruise up and down the street with their families, so The Mister and I checked that out to get in the holiday spirit.

We also found a lesser known house decorated by a television producer. I have never seen anything like it, but he used robotics to have singing snowmen, spraying snow, a disco ball and a projected music video. When you drive past his house, you can turn your radio to a certain station to hear the songs that the snowmen are singing, or you can get out of the car and hear the songs from the speakers in his yard. It was spectacular.

January 2013
Honestly, all I remember about this month is returning to school, but I think we may have visited beaches just because we could.

Oh, we did go to the Grammy Museum... the highlight of that was all the instruments and equipment you get to play with. Since we went on a weekday, I didn't feel too bad for spending time on this stuff that I'm sure was intended for teens and children...

February 2013
Hmm... I can't remember right now what we did for Valentine's Day. It could have been hiking in Malibu, which is too pretty for words...

March 2013
My best friend since middle school came for a visit and I used that as an excuse to go to a taping of Jay Leno and a TMZ tour- I got T-shirts from both and wear them proudly. Jay Leno was pretty neat. While I wouldn't say I'm a huge fan of his TV show, he was a gracious host and spoke to the audience before the show and seem to have fun with it. I also danced a lot during the breaks until the audience-warm-up guy called me over and handed me a shirt. ::highlight::

We stumbled upon the premiere for Game of Thrones on Hollywood Blvd, which was pretty awesome. I don't know any of the actors, but I still could have stared at their arrivals for hours.

April 2013
This month was really all about school, but one day each weekend was spent either going to the beach or hiking. In one weekend, we came across two or three video shoots. *that* was random

May 2013
My sister-in-law came to visit and we made another trip to Hollywood Blvd to check out the attractions. One of the staples of the Walk of Fame is all of the people dressed as characters. I saw a documentary that followed the men dressed as Superman, Batman, the Incredible Hulk, and the woman dressed as Wonder Woman and it was a really interesting glimpse into their lives. On this day, we actually saw the Superman who was in this documentary. I was nerdily starstruck.

At the last minute, we got tickets to Wango Tango, which features all of my favorite artists from the Top 40s stations, like Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, Demi Lovato, Jason Derulo... seven hours of amazing pop music madness. I was in heaven.

(that's Adam Levin... ow!)

On my campus, there was a film shoot for a movie called Transcendence starring Morgan Freeman and Johnny Depp that is set to release next year. I never know about these things until they are on campus... In January, American Idol filmed their Hollywood auditions, then I guess they were back for more filming in February. 

And now it is June... I'm actually going back home in a week, so this is a silly time to try to write about my life as a California Girl, but I'll do what I can.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Keeping Up

So I've added a few more dresses to my collection to send out. But right now, the sewing machine and I are fighting.

I love the machine (A 2263 Singer. Or "Singer. Simple."). But the one annoyance is that it is REALLY touchy about thread in the bobbin area. So, like, if I get off track somehow and, liiiiiike, sew off of the fabric 'cause I'm too close the edge and mess things up on the bobbin side (I'm new. This happens) I have to cut the bobbin thread out and that's all fine and dandy. But then, for reasons I don't understand, the machine gets confused after that. Then I will discover that there are tiny pieces of thread that I didn't notice the first time I cleaned the Bobbin Cave out. So I'll get out the ol' tweazers and clean out every little bit that I didn't see the first time. But THEN, apparently the last time, I still missed something, because I went to sew (finally on a scrap piece of fabric 'cause I was starting to ruin the arm hole of a dress) and the needle just gets stuck because it starts to collect a bazillion pieces of bobbin threads.

I know this is way boring for someone who doesn't sew. Sorry! And probably doesn't make sense even if you do.

Anyway, the point is, I'm fighting with the machine right now. I was this-close to being done with my sixth dress and dreaming of what to do for the seventh and that happened on Friday. So tomorrow, I'll get back on the horse and figure this out. I'm just afraid it is going to involve a tool.

Like... a screwdriver. I mean, I like using tools, but I'd rather be making something if I'm going to get the toolbox out than cleaning out the Bobbin Cave.

Alas, I'm pretty sure I know what I'm doing (thanks to the combination of Google and the Owner's Manual). So tomorrow, I will end the fight and fix things and continue with dresses.

But I'm also really eager to make a li'l somethin' for myself. I'm not sure what. I'm an avid user of Pinterest.com and have collected a lot of ideas on there, but I have a lot of ideas just formulating in the ol' noggin that I'd like to try out.

What I like about sewing, for me, is that I allow myself mistakes. For so many other things in many other aspects of life, I am uptight and afraid to make mistakes because they will effect other people. But when I sew, I just let it all go. Little mistakes can be fixed. And if a finished product doesn't work out (like my first attempt at a shirt for me... yikes!) it's just a lesson learned and doesn't hurt anyone. I love that feeling. Ommmmmm (<~ my relaxed sound)

In other news, I'm super DUPER excited that my camera's battery charger has emerged from its hiding place! I don't like posting without pictures. And I don't like posting fuzzy photos. The battery is currently charging, so I have no photos of great interest to post right now.

Can't wait til I do!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Random Reminiscence

I was just reading through some old posts and see that I have mentioned my issue with sleep. I have been trying so hard to overcome it, but tonight, I was just lying there and just got fed up. So, even though I know it's bad to stare at a lit up screen and expect your brain to settle down, I am here...

Certainly sharing some anecdote of some kind will inevitably bore me enough to crawl back to bed.

The weather is unseasonably warm these days, which I have no qualms about. But I haven't actually done anything to go out and enjoy the weather for several weeks. I was just reminiscing about the last time I did go outside and explore.

One of my most favorite things to do is grab my dog, hop in the car, and get lost outside of the city limits. Most times, I think I am heading for some state park that I'm vaguely aware of, and we end up at some little-known hiker's paradise where I just love to let myself bask in the beauty of nature, as cliche as that sounds. Each day goes by and I can get so caught up in work and the goings-on of people around me that I don't leave time to just stop and appreciate the small beauty around us like I used to. So at the risk of sounding cheesy, I admit that I do love to find wooded trails and walk slowly 'cause I want to be aware of the smallest beautiful detail that someone walking briskly by might not notice.

I think I learned this appreciation from Grampa. While he didn't live on farm, he owned farms and one in particular was a gorgeous tree farm that he liked to tromp on every Thursday. It had a cave, creek, ponds, oak and walnut trees, prairie fields, and wildlife if we sat quietly long enough to see them. I always missed the turkeys, but I saw lots of beautiful deer. He liked to stop his truck in the middle of a field, pop open Pepsis for the two of us and just sit in silence to take in the beauty around us. And every single time, he acted like it was the first time he was seeing it all.
"Isn't this just something?" he'd say in awe, everything single time.

And I'd look with him, at the different shades of blue in the sky, the different shapes of clouds. Then the way the blue met the sharp greens of the distant trees and how the various shades of green trees slowly became prairie grass. Then see how the breeze gently made the grass dance and notice how soothing the breeze was on my skin, 'cause we *usually* went on a humid summer day.

One time, we were sitting by a pond, closer to the timber on a fall day. It was that time of year when the oak trees look like cozy little bonfires with their oranges, yellows and reds and the air is so crisp on your nose and cheeks. I was taking in the reflection of the trees in the pond and Grampa showed me how there were slight ripples moving in one direction and then would suddenly change and go in the other direction. He told me it was caused by the movement of the biggest fish swimming in the pond.

We listened to all of the leaves brush against each other in the breeze, a soothing sound like a mother hushing her baby to lull it to sleep. We hoped a deer would glide out from the timber to enjoy a treat from a salt block that was sitting out for it, so we stayed pretty quiet while we took in our surroundings.

It was so relaxing and it's what I look for now when I take my dog for a trip to escape the city limits. And it's what I found the last time I attempted and came upon some trail that I've already forgotten the name of.

But I was looking at these pictures and remembered what a pretty day it was and how I could feel Grampa with me that day. :)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sew Cool!

::Edit 6/15/13: I discovered all of my photos for this entry were no longer up. :( So this entry may make less sense than it originally did. Sorry!::

I spent my afternoon making another dress for Little Dresses for Africa and had a much easier time with the pillow case dress.

I am the amateur of amateurs and combined the knowledge of several sites claiming to have "the easiest directions" for the pillow case dress, so I decided to put everything together that I learned and put it here for a One Stop Easy Shop on how to make this dress. If you are using a yard of fabric, not a pillowcase.

The biggest bulk of my instructions are from eHow.

However, for the length, I got my info from the Little Dresses site, that I link up in my first sentence.

So, from shoulder to hem, the size goes aaaaas follows:

Small = 2, 3, and 4 (16-22 inches long)
Medium = 5, 6, and 7 (24-28 inches long)
Large = 8,9, and 10 (30-34 inches long)
X-Large - size 11 and above (anything over 35 inches long)

I wanted today's dress to be for a large size, so I made sure it was 34 in final length.

Now, here is a secret I learned after last night's dress that you will not find in the tutorials. Everyone else says, if you aren't using a pillow cause, begin by sewing your sides together.

Not me.

As The Amateur of Amateurs, I found this waaaaaaaay easier by sewing the side of the dress up toward the end.

My first step was folding up the fabric and cutting out the arm holes.
Um... that is a little smaller than I intended. But it gets my point across. Fold in half once, and you have the width of your dress. Fold in half again and cut 2inches in and 4 inches down from the "raw" corner (not the beautifully folded one!). Make sure you cut through all four layers of fabric!

For toddlers, you should cut 1.5 inches in and 3 inches down.

 I took the 2in/4in as a suggestion and since my dress in intended for grown girl, I cut 3 and 5. The beauty of this dress is that it's all easily adjustable by the girl when she ties the ribbon in the end ::sigh of relief::

Once that was cut, I didn't even use pins to sew it up. I just folded down as little fabric as I could and went to town.

My second step was the bottom hem. Because I knew I was making this for a tall girl, I made a small hem.

NOTE: When it comes to how much I sew at hems, I use measurements loosely. As long as it's straight, I'm happy.

Next was the part that I was SO not getting in the tutorials last night. Maybe I was sleepy. I don't know.
We are back at the neckline. First, you need to fold the edge down just a tad to it is nice and pretty. If you insist on a measurement, then sew 1/4". So do that on both sides.
Then, this is where I kept getting lost, because no one spoke Amateur Talk. Now you fold *again* and this is the "tunnel" where you will slide the ribbons through.

Do you realize how much searching it took for me to understand that?
Anyway, personally, my way of measurement for this was folding it over my thumb and making it super snug. The actual measurement it supposed to be 5/8 of an inch.

So this photo shows the "before" and "after" of that instruction. In front, you see how I have sewn the 1/4, but haven't pinned it, yet, for my ribbon's tunnel. In the back, you see that it is pinned and ready for me to sew the tunnel!

The ribbon.
I love the finished look, but I HATE threading the ribbon through!! And since I'm new to this, I'm lacking in tools, so I don't have a safety pin to attach to the ribbon to help thread it through.

So I got creative. I wrapped the ribbon around a pen and pushed the pen through my tunnel (why isn't it called a tunnel, really?")

And THEN....

The dress was done!!:::sigh:::
I'll be happy when I find my camera's charger.

PS I think it's only fair to plug a REAL talent, in case you happened upon my site in search of handmade clothes for little ones.
Take a look at Sweet Bug Designs for precious handmade clothing!

Sew Much Better

::edit 6/15/13 I discovered my photographs were no longer displaying, so this may not make as much sense...::

I'm going to use "sew" in place of "so" until everyone is sick and tired of it.

I just had the Grandma-est New Year. I totes mcgotes spent it sewing. The night was all mine, free to do absolutely anything I wanted... go to a party, find friends who were out, have dinner with my bestie, stay in all night and do everything that I love doing when I'm alone-- listen to 90s pop, make up silly dances (not gonna lie, it's what I do when no one is watching), read, play Wii, watch Linkcheesey movies, watch my new Britney Spears concert on blu ray...

... Britney made it into my blu ray player. But I stayed in my office and sewed.

Granted, I do have a purpose this month. When I first mentioned on Facebook that I have a sewing machine, one of my former coworkers told me about a cause for which I can sew clothing for children. Easy dresses for little girls and shorts for little boys. It's called Little Dresses for Africa. The dresses and shorts have been donated to 31 countries in Africa as well as Honduras, Cambodia, Philippines, Mexico and Haiti. AND they are currently being sent here in the states to places in the Appalachian Mountains and South Dakota. Now that I think of it, South Dakota could use warmer clothes than dresses...

Anyway, the point is that my resolution has been to be a part of big causes each month this year. A couple of years ago, I started to become more active in a few causes and it felt amazing. At that point, it was just on my Life List to be a part of something much bigger than me. Welp, I'm addicted. It's true that the little things, like a dollar donated to St. Jude's while you're shopping, help. But it feels soooo good to really spend time helping someone in need. Whether it's doing something silly and fun, like raising money through the Polar Plunge, or making these dresses. Those little people are facing hardships that I've never known and when I was making the one dress this evening, it felt cool to think that something I was creating was going to travel and provide smiles to a little girl somewhere. Something as simple as a dress.

I'm getting rambly. Obviously, it is late.

But I wanted to share what I made. Be gentle. It's my first attempt at a dress! I imagine it'll fit a small 6-ish year old.

Again, the photo quality is horrendous... it'll be a beautiful day when my camera charger emerges. ::sigh::

This is what the fabric looks like (except more vibrant and not so orangey)

And this is the dress :)

Okay. It's true. I'm proud of it. And have a really cute fabric for the next one, which I'll probably size for a girl who is closer to age 9.

Happy 2012! I hope your NYE was less Grandma-y than mine, but equally enjoyable!