McCall’s Winter and Holiday Pattern Release 2014

You knew it was coming. Well, maybe you didn’t, but you should have. I have to say, I’m a bit bummed out by the new releases. There are only five patterns out of the bunch that I think are worth grabbing (I bet Wining Husband will celebrate once he reads that line). I think I’ll start with those.

M7056, Misses' Vests

McCall’s 7056 – I really like this one, and I already have the jacket and skirt that were released for the fall preview collection. My only complaint about this line is it takes too long for them to release more!

M7053, Misses' Tops

McCall’s 7053 – I like this one a lot. The other view is growing on me. At first I thought, “Why would you want to stick a napkin into your neckline that matches your shirt…but then I looked at it again. I’ll probably make both views.

M7053, Misses' Tops

M7059, Misses' Vest, Jacket, Tops, Skirt and Pants

McCall’s 7059 – This is a nice set of knit coordinates. I particularly like the gored skirt and the 3/4 sleeve top. These would be great clothes for working at home and feeling comfortable – without wearing pajamas.

M7058, Misses'/Miss Petite Jackets, Coats and Belt

McCall’s 7058 – I like this coat. It’s basic, and a lot can be done with this pattern.

M7038, Infants' Tops, Jumper and Overalls

McCall’s 7038 – it’s pretty cute. I like the overalls too.

That covers the patterns I’m sure I want to make. I even have some fabric in mind for each of these.

There are two patterns I’m on the fence about.

M7051, Misses' Tops

I like what I see in the line drawings for 7051. I’m just unsure about the shirt that’s been shown up. I’m not a fan of the fabrics used. I’m tempted (and if there’s a cheap pattern sale on McCall’s patterns at the local Hancock Fabrics (affiliate link), then I’ll probably pick it up. Here’s the line art:

Line Art

On the other hand, I don’t think I’ll pick up the other one. It’s not that I don’t like it – I do. I just don’t think where the lines hit would be flattering on my body type:M7055, Misses' Vest and Cardigans

McCall’s 7055 – It’s super cute – just not for me.

And then, there was this:

M7070, Handmade Appliqués, Trims & Instructions for Purchased Sweatshirts

McCall’s 7070 – I’m sure there’s someone out there who thinks this is great. It just says, “Hey, it’s Easter at Step-Grandma’s house. Can you find the bunny?” to me.

Maybe someone in the blogosphere will sew it up and convince me otherwise.

M7044, Girls' Jacket, Skirt and Leg Warmers

McCall’s 7044  is the reason that I pick up some of the older patterns for girls when I see them. I just…no. Even the girl modeling the outfit is grimacing over the bad that is this. I’m sorry, but…at least where I’m concerned, thigh highs have no place on a little girl’s legs – especially when paired with a mini skirt. It’s just far too grown up.

Because I’m in the kids’ section:

M7040, Children's/Girls' Top, Dress and Pants

McCall’s 7040 – There. Are. No. Words.

M7041, Children's/Girls' Tops, Dress, Shorts and Pants

McCall’s 7041 – I think her feet are larger than her head. Maybe it’s the slippers, maybe it’s the crazy wide-legs. She’s cute, the outfit isn’t.

When I saw this one in the lineup, from afar, I thought, wow! Then, I clicked on the image.

M7050, Misses'/Miss Petite Dresses and Belt

McCall’s 7050 – I then said “Woah.” There is way too much going on here. Also, her torso is unnaturally long. This dress does not do good things for her – it cuts her body in half in a weird place…and why would you wear a belt with that? Yeah…pass.

M7049, Misses' Dresses

McCall’s 7049 – Again, there’s too much going on. She can’t decide if she’s going to a wedding or a bachelor party.

M7048, Misses' Top, Dress and Skirt

McCall’s 7048 – I’d love to see someone make this one up. I don’t like the fabrics used, and the fabric is puckering oddly in the images. I may be convinced that I need this one. The more I look at it, the more I like it (based on the line art, not the sewn dresses).

Line Art

Finally, I think Wining Husband’s statement about sums this next one up: “Hey, let’s wrap purple plastic wrap around the model, glue some glitter on, and call it a dress.”

Ready?

M7047, Misses' Dresses

What did you think of the new dresses?  Post your thoughts in the comments section!

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: Spelled by Kate St. Clair

If you think you have bad luck, you need to pick up Spelled by Kate St. Clair. The book is a lot of fun, and while it’s geared toward a young adult audience, I found myself enchanted by the words. I mean, seriously, how much bad luck can a person have? If you’re Georgia Sayers, quite a bit and then some. Even though it falls into that Teen Witch/Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Percy Jackson theme of “I didn’t know I had these amazing special superpowers,” it still does so with grace and entertainment. I strongly recommend it.

Title: Spelled

Author: Kate St.Clair

Publication Date: April 1, 2014

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal

Synopsis

Misfortune seems to follow the Sayers family. Georgia has tried to reestablish normality since her mother died, and she’s no closer to escaping her strange past when a mysterious fire destroys the only other high school in her tiny Texas town. Georgia is thrown into the company of Luke, a cryptic senior who brings her face to face with the truth about her heritage. Her loving, perfect mother created her family for the singular purpose of birthing five of the most powerful witches in the world, capable of terrifying magic. Now that she knows the truth, can Georgia keep her siblings safe? Who is behind the dark cult that’s after her family? And does Luke know more about her powers than even Georgia does?

Buy Links

Amazon | Black Hill Press

Author Bio

Kate was born in a tiny town outside of Austin, TX. At fourteen, she was accepted to a creative writing program at Oxford University in England. She attended boarding schools in Texas and California. When not writing, she’s contending with her activity ADD, which entails horseback riding, aerial silks, and playing with her menagerie or rescued animals.

Social Media Links

Website | Facebook  | Twitter  | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram

 

 

5 Great Washington Wines for Winter

Today’s post comes from Andy Hayes of Plum Deluxe

One of my favorite wine producing areas is the state of Washington. The second largest wine producing state (lagging far, far behind California, but growing), Washington has a variety of wines in all manner of styles. One of the most famous wineries in the state is Chateau Ste. Michelle, though at last count there are over 800 wineries now! I also firmly believe Washington wines are better value than their counterparts, with great small-batch qualities.

To help get you in the mood, I’d like to share 5 of my favorite affordable Washington wines for you to sip and sample this winter. Enjoy a glass on your own after a long day, or pop the cork with friends for those festive occasions.

Treveri Cellars Sparkling Rosé ($18)
Want a wine that makes you feel like a million bucks (and looks like you might have spent big bucks on your purchase)? Then go for the Treveri Cellars pink sparkler. It’s not just pretty – Treveri is one of the top sparkling wine producers in Washington; recently I served this wine at a party and it was the biggest hit of the night. Flavors include berries with a hint of citrus, a very light and crisp sipper. Get an extra bottle, you’ll need it.

Sleight of Hand Cellars 2012 Spellbinder ($20)
Washington has many, what I would call, “quirky” wineries, where the brands are a unique extension of the owner. One of those we always have in our house are wines from Sleight of Hand Cellars (also sold under Renegade Wines). The geeky wine names and labels are fun fodder for conversation, but there’s plenty of winemaking prowess under the hood. Spellbinder is my recommendation; it’s a red blend featuring Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc with just a splash of Syrah and Grenache. Blends are hard to pull off well, but this one is a keeper – smooth yet earthy & spicy, perfect for dinner parties.

Revelry Winery

Revelry Vinters 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon ($16)
Revelry Vinters is by far one of my favorite wineries in the state, one of the few producers where I would drink pretty much anything they produce. Located in Walla Walla, my first experience with Revelry was sipping their wines in their small tasting room, an old building by the airport that used to house a movie theater! Their Cab Sauv is my go-to, as it’s a lovely blend of grapes from the surrounding growing regions, and aged for balance – you won’t find the flavors of oak and rich berry overpowering your palate nor your pairings.

EFESTE 2012 Evergreen Riesling ($20)
Washington is the Evergreen state, so why honor not honor the title! I love the family-owned EFESTE winery that is active in philanthropy and community efforts, not to mention producing fabulous wines – don’t take my word alone; they’re racking up awards left and right. I don’t normally line up for a Riesling, but this is the exception. Picked from grapes grown at a higher elevation, this fruit-forward white wine exudes lots of tasty pear and apple flavors, and pairs well with food.

Maryhill 2011 Malbec ($22)
The winery with the best view in Washington has to go to Maryhill Winery – it’s located on the banks of the Columbia River Gorge, making it just a hop and a skip from Oregon state. From the deck of their tasting room, you can see Mt. Hood! Maryhill makes a variety of top shelf wines, including their signature 2011 Malbec – An easy-to-drink bold red. Flavors of white pepper, dark cherries, bittersweet chocolate accent this velvety wine.

Andy Hayes is the founder of Plum Deluxe, the website that helps you make moments that matter. For more ideas on wines and entertaining, check out their wine reviews and wine pairing ideas.

ModCloth Favorites

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

One of my favorite online shops is ModCloth. I first fell in love with them when I saw the Lady Love Song dress in my Facebook advertisers’ feed years ago. I’m still absolutely in love with that dress. I love their shoes. Heck, they’re the shop that first got me interested in the retro vibe. I also really love how you can see pictures of people wearing the clothes they bought – because that way I can see how their clothes might fit me.

Lady Love Song Dress in Ruby

Lady Love Song dress in Ruby

Well, since I discovered the site, a lot more pieces have caught my eye. Like this one:

About the Artist Dress in Navy

About the Artist Dress in Navy

and this one:

Coach Tour Dress in Sea Blue

Coach Tour Dress in Sea Blue

Oh and the Hepcat dress…I LOVE the Hepcat dress! (That reminds me, I should post Wining Husband’s Hepcat cocktail recipe soon!)

Hepcat Soda Fountain Dress in Cherry

Hepcat Soda Fountain Dress in Cherry

As I’ve mentioned before, however, I tend to like things to be knee length – otherwise I wind up pulling at the hem. I feel it’s a good, flattering length for my tall frame, and it makes it easier to keep up with a 10-month old without having to worry about showing everything off when I play with her. The easiest solution for that? Using the Modcloth clothes as an inspiration for the clothes I make. There’s a great column (I think it’s been discontinued) over at The Sew Daily called “Make This Look.” Where fabric and pattern are recommended for duplicating the feel of some of the ModCloth dresses.

I also like many of their shoes (However, a lot of their sizes end at sizes 10 or 11, and while some 11s will work for me…I’m technically an 11.5/12 when it comes to shoes. That makes it really difficult to find shoes that fit and are comfortable.) These are darling:

Smooth Statement Heel in Chevron

Smooth Statement Heel in Chevron

Plus, they’d annoy Tiger Boy, the teenager who hates “What Does the Fox Say?” – Win Win.

These are very similar to a pair of boots I have that I wear all the time:

Hearty Harvest Boot

 

They also have fun home decor stuff, and separates. I’m a fan of a lot of their skirts.

I wouldn’t complain if someone gave me a gift card to their site for my birthday. Wink Wink, Hint Hint.

They always offer free US shipping on all orders over $50. Since a lot of their items are over $50, that’s a pretty nice deal.

(And you can believe, if I had the Hepcat Dress, I’d be sipping a hepcat while wearing it!)

Scallop and Bacon Fettuccine Alfredo

Scallop and bacon fettuccine alfredo

Scallop and bacon fettuccine Alfredo

Sometimes, you’re at the store and you see something on sale that you haven’t really worked with before, and your husband says “YUM!” You grab up the scallops, and you think, “Now what can I make with this?”

Sometimes, you’ve also recently had wine that was amazing – Fontanella’s Chardonnay, and you think, now what could that go with? Ah, yes some sort of creamy Alfredo – with bacon.

Because, folks, if any wine I’ve tasted has wanted bacon, it’s Fontanella’s Chardonnay. It’s creamy, a little smokey, and has a bit of paprika and spice to it. Perfect for pairing with bacon.

So, I decided, I needed to make fettuccine Alfredo.

I started out by frying up 3 strips of bacon. Now, when you do bacon, in my opinion, it’s best to throw it into the stainless steel pan unadulterated. Don’t add oil to your bacon! Do you hear me? It produces its own oil as it cooks, and believe me, that’s plenty to keep it from sticking to the pan. Plus, um, who needs more fat with their bacon?

Not me.

Once the bacon is done, I take it out and put it on a paper-towel lined plate to soak up the grease and set it aside. I then drained off most of the fat, reserving about 2 tablespoons worth. Then, I added 2 tablespoons of butter. Once it melted, I added the scallops, about 1 teaspoon of white pepper, 1 teaspoon of sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary, and 1/4 teaspoon each of paprika, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes. I cooked the scallops until they were done and browned on each side, removed them to the same paper-towel lined plate added the zest of one lemon and juice from that lemon. I then set them aside to keep warm while I began working on the roux.

I added 3 tablespoons of flour to the pan and mixed it into the butter that was there until it was a light brown. Then, I added 1 onion, chopped up to the pan. Once the onion was looking translucent, I added 3 large cloves of garlic (had they been smaller, I’d have used 6 or 7 but these guys were HUGE), minced. I let that cook and added about 1 teaspoon of oregano to the pan, and let all that cook together for about a minute. Then, I added 3/4 cup of white wine to deglaze the pan, and let it boil down. I added 1 cup of cream, 1/2 cup of whole milk, and 1/4 cup of packed chopped parsley. I also re-added the scallops and the bacon, which was now chopped. I did not add parmesan to the sauce. I brought the whole thing to just below a boil, reduced the temperature, and let it do its think simmering while the fettuccine noodles cooked. When they were done, I reserved about 1 cup of pasta water, drained the noodles, and then added the reserved water to the sauce.

Simply serve the sauce over the pasta, garnish with parmesan (a good amount!) and parsley, and enjoy…with the wine.

It was an excellent pairing.

Stitch Upon a Time Sleepy Sleeper Sewing Pattern Test

Baby girl wearing her romper based on Stitch in Time's Sleepy Sleeper pattern

Baby girl wearing her romper based on Stitch in Time’s Sleepy Sleeper pattern

A couple of months ago, I was lucky enough to get to test the Sleepy Sleeper sewing pattern from Stitch Upon a Time. This is a great little sleeper, and it is super cute. While I was making it, though, I found myself having interesting issues with it – mostly because I did things that made the process unnecessarily complicated! (Yes, I’m only just now getting to putting this up on the blog. September and the first half of October were filled with the cold that didn’t go away and a reaction to a medication that made things worse instead of better.)

Stamping with butterflies and rock guitars

Stamping with butterflies and rock guitars

I started the project on the wrong foot. You see, it was my first time using a downloaded pattern. The first time I cut out the pattern, it was waaaay too big. I was really glad that I caught that before cutting out the fabric. The second problem was the fabric I used – I didn’t realize it didn’t have enough stretch until I cut it out. When making this pattern up, you want a fabric with a lot of good stretch. When I make it again, I have a couple of great knits I found while thrifting that I will use for it (one is an orange stretch terry, and one is a grey jersey with bunnies).

2014-08-22 12.41.39

Drying the stamped fabric over the back of a chair. Yup, that’s how I roll. Everything around me becomes a potential tool in my crafting schemes!

My plan kind of went like this: I would use fabric paint and rubber stamps to decorate the sleeper. Let’s just say, I didn’t start out liking it. In fact, I really didn’t like it. So, I did what any sane person would do. I kept stamping with the fabric dye, until it looked like it was purposely smudged and faded. I was quite a bit more pleased with the result then.

Finally, it was stitching time. It didn’t take me too long to realize that I really would have been better off with a stretchier fabric, and that even though I’d decided by the time I was pinning the sleeves in place that I’d be using the “sleeper” as a romper instead, the fabric was just not going to be very practical.

Sleepy Sleeper mid-project

Sleepy Sleeper mid-project

I kept with it, though, and made the pattern as it stood with three adjustments – I cut the sleeves off at the elbows. Because there wasn’t enough stretch in the fabric, the sleeves would have been entirely too tight for Baby Girl (as you can see in the picture to the left, which doesn’t have the feet added yet). I also didn’t add the collar or the cuffs (again, because the fabric just would NOT cooperate with me). Instead, I did a narrow hem on the sleeves and the neck.

Test-pinning embellishments on the romper

Test-pinning embellishments on the romper

Around then is when I also decided that I would add some ribbon and a shabby chic flower from Sunshine Shoppe to the romper. Again, I only did this because it was clear that Baby Girl would not be sleeping in this.

Oooh, I'm adding the snaps!

Oooh, I’m adding the snaps!

I wrestled the feet into place, and then, once that was done, I began working on the snaps. Now, again, enter user error: I put the snaps on, holding the ribbon in place, before I sewed down the ribbon. That’s right – I have no reason for this, either. So, after I put on the snaps, when I tried to sew the ribbon into place…well it just didn’t happen, because the whole thing would have had a weird gather on one side – that’s what seam rippers are for, though, isn’t it?

In all, I was mostly happy with how the romper came out. When I do it again, there are definitely things I will change (uh stretchy fabric, anyone?). I was provided with the pattern for free in compensation for giving honest feedback for how the pattern tested. I think in all, Baby Girl looks very cute wearing it, don’t you?

 

Blog Action Day 2014: Inequality

It’s Blog Action Day, and this year the topic is #inequality.

October 16th is finally here. That means it’s time to talk about inequality for Blog Action Day – at least, that means it’s time to do so here, along with the rest of the world participating in this event.

You know, we shouldn’t only be leaving discussions about inequality to special days or seasons of the world. Inequality exists 365 days a year. Race relations over the past year make blatantly clear just how inequality still affects us each and every day – regardless of whether we’re thinking about it or not.

The thing is, a lot of people would rather not think about it. They’d rather sip wine (or martinis, or beer, or coffee) and not think about the backs that were in the sun during the grape harvest, the children injured while picking cocoa beans, the reason Fair Trade groups exist. And frankly, isn’t that a lot easier than thinking about the fact that while you’re drinking your $100 bottle of Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon, there is a family who would do anything to have an extra $100 for healthy food?

This isn’t to make people feel guilty, but rather, to get them thinking. Sometimes, we get angry when we think about inequality. Sometimes, we’re the dominant class, sometimes we’re not. Disparities between individuals are emotional circumstances – especially when those disparities are due to circumstances of birth like race, class, gender, sexual preference, place of birth, etc.

Everyone has his or her own circumstances. When you walk down the street and you see a transient, there are circumstances that have led to his crouching in the doorway. Perhaps they are circumstances of choice – a drug addiction, alcoholism, debt – or perhaps they are not – abuse, mental illness, divorce.

Think about the way inequalities have affected your life. In what ways may you have benefitted due to someone else’s misfortune?

Perhaps it’s time to make a list of causes to become involved with. I’d suggest thinking hard about what you can do to help eradicate radical inequality in your community. At my blog, Activism My Way, I will be listing some organizations you can get involved with, if you like. The blog over there focuses upon how you can get involved with a variety of causes.