My vintage obsession

Ok, I’m lying in bed, exhausted from my first week back to work after my Christmas vacation. So why am I blogging, you ask? Cause I could be doing other things. Things like sleeping, even. But I’ve decided I should share something with you, gentle readers, before I plain forgot.

Soooooo. . . I just watched the first episode of season 2 of Sherlock (!!!!!!), in which there were some seriously cool vintage-style fashions modeled by the lovely Irene Adler character.

Like this one:

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(Source: Addicted to Media)

Which is apparently the Illusion-Bolero Sheath dress from Alexander McQueen. So 40s and gorgeous. Very Hollywood heyday.

And this one:

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(Source: Fashioned for the Geek)

You can’t see it super-well (or at all. Sorry about that) but that one is a stunner. Modern details with classic silhouettes, how can you go wrong?? It seems to be another take on the classic sheath dress, but with a beautifully detailed neckline. I wish I could find a better picture of it somewhere. . .

But, to get to a point of some sort, this is feeding into a newly revived obsession with vintage, and vintage-style clothing. See, I’m starting to follow sewing blogs (like Adventures in Dressmaking, and A Dress A Day, both of which are awesome! Go to my blog roll if you’re interested in checking them out. Or, just go anyway, cause they’re awesome!!). And since my party dress challenge this fall when I learned that I hadn’t lost my sewing skills, I decided that I will try to start making more clothing for myself. Cause 1) I can choose what fabrics to use, 2) I can choose what patterns to use, and 3) I can alter the pattern during the sewing stage to fit me perfectly (and thus develop a repertoire of patterns I can use multiple times with great ease). Plus, with my love of high quality fabrics and finishing, doing it myself will probably end up costing me a whole lot less than what a ready-made dress of equivalent quality would run. Patterns vary from 4$-50$ (for good condition vintage), you generally use 3-4 yards (or less) of fashion fabric and 2-3 of lining, and you can get some really good deals now with online stores from 3$-20$ a yard, which I think is more than reasonable. Zippers, bias tape, and other notions are generally negligible costs in the long run (I can get 500m spools of Gutenberg thread for a few bucks, and they last for multiple projects). So material costs would generally come under 200$ easily. I won’t get into value of my time, cause hey, I’m getting a fucking dress or whatever out if the deal! How easy do you think it would be to find a well-made vintage (in good wearing condition) or vintage-style dress that would fit a “generous” figure like mine?? And if the vintage is even in my size, what are the odds I’ll find good vintage styles that I’d actually want to wear?? So far I haven’t found any anywhere. There are companies like Bettie Page Clothing that are styling modern clothing on retro styles. But I’d like to choose the styles, not just from the styles someone else has chosen to make. The sheer number of patterns out there means that I can fairly easily find a great pattern that is very close to what I’m looking for.

And, there’s the satisfaction of making your own clothes to consider. Cause it’s quite its own peculiar kind of high – I made this!!! It’s actually very similar to knitting a sweater for me. You slog through the uninteresting process of creation, cause well, it’s not a fun activity in itself for me, and you slog through the problems that inevitably arise, and in the end you have this garment you made that someone can actually wear! How cool is that??!?!!!

Pretty damn cool, I say!

So, an ongoing project for this year is to collect patterns and fabric, and start building my new career-woman wardrobe. Though. Not pants. I’ll continue to leave that one to the professionals. To that end, I’ve begun to search (and order. . .) through McCall’s and Simplicity, et al. for patterns new and vintage reprints, as well as through the vintage sellers, for actual vintage patterns. I might even get into eBay at some point as another vintage pattern search option. And there’s the awesome Vintage Pattern Wiki that is collecting all the different vintage pattern info, for posterity. It is a perfect place to search for styles I like, silhouettes that would be great, all the possibilities!

Who knows? Maybe I’ll be showing off some new awesome threads sometime in the not too distant future. . .

Anyroad. I think, Dear Internet, that it is time to fall asleep. Cause, damn but I’m tired. Maybe I’ll even be able to sleep in past 8. . .

Good night, Dear Internet! I hope you have exciting plans you’re working to bring to fruition 🙂 And to help bring sweet dreams to you as you fall asleep, I leave you with this:

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(Source: holligenet.tumbler)

Not as sexy as Irene’s I’m-going-to-be-naked-for-a-whole-effing-scene thing, but vastly more amusing . . . Night night!!

Hey 2012, what’s up?

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(Source: Nerd Boyfriend)

So. Do I have your attention now?

No? How about now??

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(Source: Who Is Matt Smith? )

Well, now that sexy men have gotten your attention, Dear Internet, I’ll get to my post. Which doesn’t actually have a whole lot to do with those images. Sexy as they are. . . Though, to be fair, I should probably even things out with some sexy woman action too. Just to be fair.

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(Source: Karen Gillan’s InStyle photoshoot

It’s a new year, and everyone’s getting all revved up about making resolutions and turning over a new leaf. Cause, you know, an arbitrary date management cycle has recommenced? Usually my resolution is that I won’t make any resolutions, cause it’s kind of a sham and hooey and they never get kept cause nobody ever makes really realistic goals for themselves. And then there are the tears and recriminations and apathy, and why start that vicious cycle when I only just jumped off the last one? Not that I’m a cynic or anything. But this year, something’s different. I’m at the cusp of making some changes in my life, and it just so happens that I want to start these changes now, at the turn of a new year. New Year’s Resolutions Bandwagon, you are being jumped upon by me, finally.

Grouped into a few areas, here are my goals for this new year:
1) Manage Money Like an Adult, dumbface
– don’t use the credit card as a crutch, if you can’t afford it, don’t go for it
– pay off the little bit of debt I’ve accumulated
– start actually saving money
– develop a proper budget

I’m planning on finally moving out sometime this year, so I really think I should buckle down and become an adult about money. Like now.

2) Get Healthy.
– start the process to diagnose a potential health issue I’ve been dealing with for the past six months
– develop a regular exercise schedule
– plan on changing some food habits, develop a healthy diet plan (where “diet” = the food I eat, not fad self-denial/starvation plan. Cause that shit won’t work for me)
– hike more. Lots more. And try to be more active in general

As I say above, I’ve been having some minor health issues since I finally got a job last spring. I guess the release of all the pent up stress of the two years previous messed up my system even more than I’d thought. And, having spoken with my doctor briefly about what’s going on, she agreed that we should definitely do some (wheeee. . .) testing and get to the bottom of things. And part of the treatment for the condition I might have developed include diet changes and increased activity. Which I wanted to do anyway. So. Win-win?

Now, what does this mean about my baking obsession?? Well, I’ll probably not change a whole lot, cause the things I bake, I bake them for other people. I’ll just have to pretty much not eat most things. And, I’ll probably start playing with new recipes, to test substitution options, and test the Healthy Baking Waters. But let me reassure you all now, there will still be pounds of butter. Cause, sorry margarine enthusiasts, it’s just better.

3) Make Decisions About Things That Have Been Pissing Me Off (finally)
– specifically, decide what I’m going to do about my choir issues. So there will be much research on choirs going on in the next few months
– find a decent paying Sunday choir gig, if possible. Cause I’m sick and tired of feeling like my opinion is invalid because I’m just-a-volunteer
– think about singing lessons, when I have more money at my disposal

4) Plan the Next Step, Career-wise
– start résumé revisions, cover letter writing, etc. well ahead of my contract ending
– start trolling job listings and job boards soonish
– think about where I really want to end up, and how each job I do apply to will help me achieve my goals in my career

5) Take the Time to Art
– use some of my cherished me-time to go back to sketching and painting
– play with new media, and mixing medias
– work on getting my technique back up to snuff, cause I’m feeling a bit rusty
– think about art classes, when I have some income to burn
– play with my craft obsessions and see how far I can push them into my art. Specifically, work on developing my own knitting patterns

During my vacation after Christmas, I worked on my first actual art project in YEARS. A friend of mine, with whom I have been lamenting letting our passion for our arts go in the name of practicality, challenged me to make something for her for Christmas. Well, being one effing-super-busy lady, I couldn’t do it in time for Christmas, so it became a post-Christmas project. And it felt good to be painting again. No, let me rephrase: it felt GREAT!! I’m about half done, so there’s more to do, but I’ve been putting off working on it a little because I don’t want it to be over. I guess I’m starting to realize just how big a whole I’d dug out of my heart when I decided to give all this up. So it’s time to start patching up that gaping hole, I guess.

I wish I could say I know it’ll all work out great. But I’m a confirmed pessimist and I’m not naive. But I can say right now that I am going to put everything into this, which is something I’ve avoided almost my whole life, and that’s both daunting and exhilarating. There are things at stake now!! I guess this is what it feels like to not be depressed? If so, I think I like it!!

I just read a great article about the physiological issues that might be at play in problems with maintaining weight loss. A lot of which makes good sense to me, especially since I watched my mom go through the whole crash-diet-massive-weight-loss-then-incremental-weight-gain thing my whole life. And I guess I could be discouraged since I’m likely to have to work hard at maintaining any weight loss I do accomplish, but it’s really nice to know that at least part of my overweight-ness can potentially be attributable to forces not entirely under my control. It’s kind of freeing, really. I’m also looking at the Mediterranean diet as inspiration for my new food resolutions.

Well. Anyroad, I think I’ve yammered long enough about this. Time to get back to work, Dear Internet!!

Any new resolutions this year for you, Dear Internet??

Opera, and other stuffs

Ok. So. . . That was an AMAZING opera production. AMAZING!

I must admit to preferring early opera to Romantic or Classical opera. I just like the music better. Don’t get me wrong, I do ocasionally lurve the Mozart, it’s just that well. . . He never really hits my heart the way earlier music does.

That being said – if you’re in Toronto, I HIGHLY!! recommend going to see Opera Atelier’s production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Guest conductor, Italian Stefano Montanari, is charismatic, expressive and a great leader for the exceptional Tafelmusik Orchestra. He didn’t even let smacking his stand light off at the Concertmaster phase him. Did I mention that he was expressive? Veeeeeeerrrryyyyy expressive. My fearless leader and I could imagine that Mozart would have conducted very similarly to him, which did add quite a lot to our viewing pleasure. I’m only sad that I don’t have several sets of eyes so that I could have watched him throughout the opera as well as the action on stage.

And boy, was there some action on stage, let me tell you.

They definitely played on the Opera Buffa aspects of the piece – there was a certain amount of Ham Acting going on. But it was never too much. They played with that line (between hilarious and tedious) and never crossed it. There was a freshness to the performance that maintained its buoyancy throughout the show. No miscasting either – the stars were definitely suited to their roles.

The sopranos were effervescent, in this soprano-heavy opera. Carla Hutanen as Zerlina, Peggy Kriha Dye as Donna Elvira, and Meghan Lindsay as Donna Anna were all superb. The different colours of their voices suited them particularly well to their respective parts and they are all fabulous singers. Donna Elvira was my favourite, but then I’ve enjoyed Dye’s singing for several seasons of Opera Atelier productions now, and she always delivers the goods. And then some.

On to the basses: Leporello, played by Vasil Garvanliev (who, oddly enough, I have actually sung with. If briefly – he was a member of my Sunday choir for a few months, before he got all famous and stuff) was both buffoonish and endearing. And damn, but he can sing. He is also able to act with his singing voice, which isn’t something everyone can do well. Opera Atelier mainstay Curtis Sullivan (playing both Masetto and the Commendatore) was great as usual. Though, to be frank, he’s got a better baritone range than bass range and for some reason he keeps getting bass-y parts. He can sing the lowest notes, he just doesn’t have the same power on them. Though this was less evident in this performance than in his turn as Sarastro a few years ago (Sarastro’s solos are one of my favourite things, ever, so I must admit to some disappointment there. . .). And finally, Phillip Addis as Don Giovanni himself. Hoo Boy. I’d let him seduce me too. He has a beuatiful, supple bass voice – it just flows over you like silk and cashmere and some smooth alcohol that i can’t think of right now. I definitely came close to jumping out of my seat to jump into his arms. . .

The cast is intentionally young and fresh which adds a believability to the insanity of the story-line: only young people are that dumb about stuff. Also, the chorus and dancers were great. Not to mention the tight pants on the men – Opera Atelier is definitely known for their busts and bulges and this performance was no exception.

And, in the tradition of saving the best for last, the tenor. You thought I’d forgotten about Don Ottavio, didn’t you?! Well, how could I with Lawrence Wiliford playing the part?? I’d seen him previously as Damon in the Opera Atelier production of Acis and Galatea last season. And, forgive me basses (you are my one and only true love, never fear), but holy hells can this man sing. Don Ottavio’s solo brought me to tears. Wiliford, in contrast with the majority of opera singers, has very little vibrato, and sings with a pure tone. And what a pure tone. He also has incredible power and supreme control over his voice that is simply a treat to hear. This guy could sing the highway code at me and I’d swoon. I’m not kidding.

All in all, I’m going to have to say that Opera Aetlier’s Don Giovanni is a masterful production that marries beauty for the eyes and beauty for the ears in one sumptuous spectacle that is not to be missed.

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Now for some life stuffs. . .

I can’t wait for work to be done so I can go for a lovely swim. I might be having some sinus troubles that are spreading to my ear canals, but hopefully the Otrivin will offset the water in the ears. I should really invest in some ear plugs for swimming, what with my being prone to ear infections and all . . . But regardless, I’m going to love my swim – it’s been a little bit of an indulgent week so far – Hallowe’en, opera and a lovely meal out, no exercise. . . – that I really need to get back on that horse.

Though, I did do a little hike yesterday afternoon, so my week isn’t a total loss exercise-wise. I had an appointment with my ophthalmologist yesterday for a routine check up. Well, I was supposed to have my check-up, but a lateitude of buses made that unpossible. So I’m going again next week, and this time before work, so I won’t have to deal with afternoon rush hour that somehow starts at 2?? When did that happen??? Well, anyway, I walked home from there – From Weston and Eglinton to Dundas and Islington. If you know that part of the city, you’ll know it’s a bit of a hike – about one and a half hours or so, walking pretty fast. I listened to the Sixteen’s recording of the Missa Papae Marcelli, so I didn’t really notice the time. At all.

And then, after a very satisfying nap (thanks Otrivin!) we sang some beautiful music for the Samhain/All Souls service – which went swimmingly 😀  And there was booze and food after the service (with stupidly tastsy pierogies. mmmmmm pierogies. . .).

To wrap up, I’m just going to let you know, Dear Internet, that my posts will become rather more infrequent in the next little while, as my plate, it is full – I’m almost finished my Christmas shopping, but I’m waiting for my yarn to arrive to start the immensely long to knit list (it’s like externally-enforced procrastination, I prefer internally-enforced myself. . .), I have two belated X-mas present dinners to plan and execute, music to learn for Wednesdays as well as a Carol Concert I’m doing with some friends, baking, preparing a TARDIS cake for a friend’s Dr. Who Indoctrination Marathon this weekend, a cake and a tasty present to bake for my dad’s birthday, more baking, buttloads of knitting, etc. ad infinitum. Not to mention working full time and being desirous of exercising regularly (to offset the extreme amount of eating that will be happening in the next couple of months. . .). I’m tired just thinking about it. . .

Well, I’m really looking forward to the recipe I’m going to be trying out for the TARDIS cake! That’s going to be fun 😉

I hope your holiday-season lead up isn’t super stressful, Dear Internet. I know I’m only doing this to myself, but it isn’t Christmas without several nervous breakdowns, I always say.

p.s. There will be a separate post of some photos regarding Hallowe’en coming your way soonish. . . so stay tuned!!

T-7 days left and counting. . .

So, Dear Internet, I’m on my way to spin class for the first time in a couple of weeks. Boy am I going to be smarting tomorrow. . . But that will be balanced out with a lovely cake-filled baby shower for a friend of mine. And strangely enough, I won’t be providing any baked goods. Oddly enough. Kind feel bereft about it. Huh, maybe there’s a patch to deal with the withdrawal symptoms. But I do have to put together a present package and make a cute card (I have a stamp set that’s perfect for my needs. You can imagine I’m fiendishly rubbing my hands together while grinning maniacally, if you like. It’s a fairly accurate image. . . Well, except I’m actually on a train and writing this on my iPhone, so it’s more what I’m doing in my head that in actuality. Not to burst your bubble there). But I think cake will be a nice panacea for my sore muscles, plus hangings out with peoples what are awesome = double plus good!

But today I’ve been kind of having an existential crisis. I know, right? Who has those anymore, Dear Internet?!

It’s my second last week of actual employment, and though I’ve been assiduously applying to boatloads o jobs all fricking summer, no bites. Not a call, nothing. It’s looking more and more that this was an anomaly instead of, as I had hoped, a sign that I might in fact soon find myself fully and gainfully employed.

Luckily I have PEI to look forward to, otherwise I might get depressed or something. No idea what I’m going to do after PEI, aside from look forward to the next wedding on the docket (and maybe even the making of my pretty dress). And, duh, more job hunting. The benefit to everyone using the Internet for job applications is that if you have access to the Internet you can easily apply to as many jobs as you can make cover letters for. The downsides are that you feel like you’ve thrown your application into a deep ocean crevasse instead of worked to secure your future, and that the hundreds of millions of other people who have access to the interwebs have done the exact same thing. And nobody ever bothers to let you know if your even being considered as a candidate. So you’re left to assume you’re not and forget what you’ve applied for. Cause if you care about the opportunity, it actively hurts each day that you don’t get a phone call.

Of course, by the time someone does call you for an interview, you’ve then completely forgotten everything about the job and then sound pretty silly asking “What job is it I’m interviewing for again?” Also, if you do have the honour to get an interview (yes, it’s an _honour_ Bulldunkle.), the odds anyone ever gets back to you with feedback afterwards (even if they promised to do so) is next to nil. Of the 20-odd interviews I had in the last couple of years, THREE got back to me after the interview, one of which was for the job I ended up getting. A good six-ten others _said_ they’d get back to me.

And my experience so far is that you have to have 20+ interviews, at the very least, before you’re likely to actually ever get a job offer. For example, after graduating from a Masters degree, I spent two years futilely applying to countless jobs only to end up with a temporary, crappily paid summer student gig with terrible prospects cause they just cut 1900 jobs. . .

Oh how I love this state of being.

So I think I should, instead of dwelling on it (and thanks for letting me rant it out, Dear Internet), I should try to live each day as it comes. Look forward to the things to look forward to, and madly apply to job after job after job after job (and go quietly mad from the boredom) and get more into my hobbies. Maybe even start an etsy store or something to fill my time. So I can potentially offload the massive amounts of crafty I’ll probably end up producing. . .

Cause one thing I know for sure is that job hunting, it is one of the most boringest activities known to man.

At least I have a roof over my head, food in my tummy, and supportive and awesome peoples standing by and being all supportive. Maybe I won’t have to wait another two years for the next crappy short-term job. Always positive, that’s me. Well, I said I should try to look forward to the good things and live each day for itself, not get a personality transplant. When I get chipper, that’s when you know I’ve succumbed to the drugs.

Anything getting you down, Dear Internet?

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Heh. Just saw this sitting on the shelf near me in the bookstore (waiting to go to my spin class, where else would I hang out? Do you know me at all?). Though, sadly, too true. . .

Lovely Long August Weekend

A couple of weekends ago was Canada’s Simcoe/Civic holiday long weekend. And, boy, was I looking forward to it. I spent the entire week before aching for it to be Friday, 3 pm. I went up to my friend’s cottage (our Wednesday night Baritone), and stayed for three glorious days.

It was serene. I got to sleep in until after 9 am (very exciting). We ate lovely food (loooooots of spinach) and spent hours in the lake. It was a little slice of heaven. I even got a bit of colour – very surprising since I’ve pretty much never tanned in my life, ever. Though it’s mostly sunburn and freckles. Us pale people have to take what we can get, I guess.

I only wish the boyfriend could have come too, but he was at a bachelor party white water rafting experience thing (with spa treatments, of course). Ah well, there’s always next time.

The bride’s bachelorette was this past Friday night, as previously discussed (soooooo much fun! and the food went over pretty well, though my tasty cupcakes went uneaten 😦   well, I enjoyed them at least), and in just a week, they’ll be married!! Soooooo exciting! And you’ll get to see the dress I had made.

Aren’t long weekends the best, Dear Internet?