Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Exploding water and missing sewing machine parts make for a bad day...

So everything today was going fine and dandy.  I decided to make dinner today -- one of those package things where you add all the ingredients then put it in the oven.  Hey, I'm no cook, ya know...

One of the instructions was to put 1 1/2 cup of hot water in it.  So as I always did, I took out the Pyrex measuring cup, put 1 1/2 cup of water in it and stuck in the microwave for a few minutes.  I've done it a million times...

The timer goes off, I take the Pyrex cup out of the microwave.  The microwave is set high, above the stove.  Then *POW!!!*  What seems to be the myths of urban legends...the water explodes, and I'm showered with boiling water.  I let out a loud scream as a reaction to the burn.  I kid you not.  I was like WTF?!?  I've burned the top of my thumb and the side of my index finger on my right hand and bits of my scalp.  Thank bloody hell that it was only a minor first degree burn, but still singes, pains, and throbs.  So I'll survive, but WTF?

Sean said that he had heard something about that before.  I never had.  So I had to do some research on it.  Happens that I "superheated" the water.

According to a guy in the University of New South Wales physics department, "...superheating means the heating of a liquid to a temperature above its normal boiling point. The superheated state is unstable, and it can very rapidly turn into liquid at the boiling point, plus a substantial quantity of vapour...The rapid production of a substantial quantity of steam within the bulk of the water will cause it to boil vigorously and possibly to appear to explode. The result is boiling water flying at speed out of the container."

So that explains it.  Hey look, it's even on Snopes!  True, but *rare*.  Man, I must be perfect because it happened to me...sheesh...

So anyways, I get my thoughts back together, Sean's laughing at me, and I go to stick the dinner in the oven..oh shit, my newly burned fingers throb with pain at the nearest hint of heat from the oven!!! 

I go to my sewing area to work on my Art+Life+Kenya project.  I'm piecing one thing together that I'll need to sew.  I take my sewing machine, that was on the floor, and put it on the table.  Crap, it's missing the bobbin cover.  WTF?!?  Now really, is it my day or what?  I scrounge around on the floor trying to find this piece of plastic.  I tell Sean, so as to get some sympathy, and he helps me look for it.  Nothing.  Crap.  My project, which for the juried contest, is due SUNDAY, is all sewn.  I can't find this stinkin' part. 

Long story short, we never found the plastic p.o.s., watched an episode of Project Runway to calm my nerves, and hell, screw it, I'm not working on the quilt till tomorrow if I can find a replacement part in town.  If I can't find a replacement part, then I'm most likely going to pull myself out of the project since it'll take eons to hand sew everything the old fashioned way.

What a night!

Monday, September 25, 2006


Got back from the roadtrip Saturday eve.  No time to blog quite yet.

Just wanted to update with my latest project (life is full of them!).  I'm participating in an artist project through Art+Life+Kenya.  Artists receive a message in a bottle that inspires them to create art.  The art will be auctioned off at the Austin Children's Museum.  It benefits the Providence Childrens home outside of Nairobi.  The orphans there are orphans of the AIDS epidemic in Africa.  More about the Providence Childrens home can be found here.

Long story short, there was a bit of a fluke in the system, I didn't get my message in the bottle.  However, there have been 9 or 10 new orphans at the home.  I'm still going to participate without the message.  It's inspiration from the heart that comes to play. 

I'm planning on making a quilted wallhanging -- the main portion of it being a kanga, a traditional fabric of East Africa that women wear with a Kiswahili saying on it.  Below the kanga will be a scene inspired from my own trip to Africa -- Kilimanjaro, acacia and baobab trees, giraffes, and elephants.  I haven't decided whether I'm going to frame the sides of the kanga or not -- I think it depends on how big the scene below it is.  It will be hung from fabric where you can put a curtain rod in it, and I plan to embroider a Kiswahili saying onto that piece of fabric as well.

On the back will be some sort of quilter's cotton for the backing, but also a fabric cutout of Kenya, a piece of fabric that I will write on -- my inspirations for this project, maybe a few more inspirations in Kiswahili, and maybe even images from my own trip to Africa.

Well, the catch is...I have only one week to work on it if I want to enter it in the juried contest...EEK!!!  Yeah.  It's going to be a tough one.  If I can't enter it in the juried contest, then I can have two weeks to finish the project.

Well, I've picked out the kanga from the ones I carried over from Tanzania...time to get on the ball!!!

Friday, September 08, 2006

The great midwest roadtrip -- departing Saturday morn

Time for another little Volvo roadtrip! Sean and I packed our gear and my car up tonight. We'll head on our trip Sat morning. The goal is to get to Columbus, Ohio on the eve of the 14th. We'll spend a long weekend in Columbus for his cousin's rehearsal dinner, wedding, and family time. We just hope we won't get so much heat having Texas plates. Why you ask? Well, today is a HUGE game...number 1 Ohio State U is playing number 2 U Texas. We're leaving our burnt orange at home so that we don't get lynched there (OSU is in Columbus, and ironically, Sean was born at the OSU hospital, that overlooks the football stadium).

We kind of have the route up to Columbus planned. It's a loose plan, though. We're planning to head up to Horseshoe Canyon near Jasper, Arkansas, for some rock climbing. We haven't climbed in a few months, so we're rusty. We'll stick to the 5.7 to 5.9's. Maybe Sean will be adventurous and go for a 5.10 of some sort. We'll see...

Sept 9 - Sat AM - leave Austin

PM - arrive Horseshoe Canyon (Jasper, AR) - camp Steele Creek?

Sept 10 - HSC

Sept 11 - HSC

Sept 12 - Tues AM - leave HSC

PM - arrive Hermitage, TN

Sept 13 - Wed AM - Hermitage

PM - arrive Mammoth Cave NP, KY

Sept 14 - Thurs AM - leave Mammoth Cave NP

PM - arrive Columbus, OH

After we leave Columbus, it's an open book from there. We thought about going up to Canada, but I think we're leaning against it because it's so much further out of the way. One thing for sure, on the way back, we'll most likely stop over at the Red River Gorge in Kentucky for a few days to do some more climbing there.

It'll be a cheap trip -- a lot of camping along the way and a few stopovers at friends places as well. But regardless, it should be fun. We packed the car full. And I mean full, especially since we're bringing the Mad Pad -- our rock climbing crash pad -- with us. I told Sean that I couldn't carry him out if he broke an ankle...

Lots o'gear and provisions!!

Won't have internet access for another two weeks, so will see ya when I get back!!! :)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Dressmaking 101

So I got a serger...then I had a project...

Sean and I are going to his cousin's wedding in Ohio in two weeks time. I learned as of late that it is going to be a formal wedding. I don't know them really well, so I don't know what qualifies as 'formal'. If you know me, I'm a tee-shirt and jeans kinda girl, a bikini and board shorts type of girl. Formal doesn't exist in my world...but Sean said that for his cousin's bar-mitzvah, his [cousin's] mom wore some sparkly dress that probably cost a thousand dollars. *THAT* type of formal...

I had long given away my old prom dress, which actually would not have been too dated. In a pinch, I pulled out a few dress patterns I had lying around, and Sean helped me pick out one. We settled on Simplicity 5235.

Pattern and fabric choices - plum/burgundy satin and cream brocade

Friday after work, I headed up to Hancock because I remembered them having the best affordable brocade selections. Of course when I go, there is none. Funny how that happens. The lady told me that they had clearanced them all. *doh*

I go back south to JoAnn's, and find a nice selection of brocades there. And lucky for me, it was all on sale! I took about an hour to figure out which satin and brocade combination I wanted. I wasn't too impressed by their nicer satins, not too many flattering colors to choose from. But finally, I figured that a dark plumish-burgundy would look good with a creme brocade that was not too detailed. So there it was...

I started working on the dress Friday night up til about 3am. The serger cut down a lot of steps, and proved extremely handy. I'm overjoyed at my late birthday/early christmas present from Sean :) But a serger cannot do it all (without the painstaking task of rethreading all the time...) so I used my old sewing machine as well. My workspace is pretty small and limited. I can't have both machines on my sewing table conveniently, so when I need to use one, I push the other out of the way and so on.

I had to cut the pattern to a size 12 Misses *gasp!* Yeah, well sewing patterns, if you didn't know already, are all weird when it comes to measurements...not exactly good for the ego. But anyways, I trust the measurements actually marked on the pattern pieces themselves rather than on the pattern envelope, and they pointed size 12 for me, and so it was...

I was pleasantly surprised that this dress was easier than I thought it would be. I was a bit apprehensive because it uses boning and netting, neither of which I have used before. And has button holes as well. Button holes..ugh, I could care less about button holes! The directions were sometimes confusing, but then they cleared up as I thought about things logically and from my experience.

Mostly constructed, a constant running back and forth to iron

The pattern called for a 3/8 inch ribbon for the back. I searched a few stores, and expected that I would not find a good match for my color of satin. It is too purple to be burgundy. I ended up having to make my own ribbon using a bias tape maker, an iron, and scrap fabric pieces. After all the work put into the dress already, I couldn't spare the detail of having mismatched ribbon to fabric.

Making my own ribbon

The netting proved to be a pain in the ass, though. I wasn't sure how it would sew and how it would be to work with. I had to create kind of like a ruffled skirt, to give the dress some body. The pieces of netting I had to work with were pretty long. And trying to pin netting to netting that is sewing into huge circles...yeah...pain in the ass. Not to mention that I didn't read the directions, so I ended up doing the netting as one of the last details. The directions say to sew the netting to the skirt lining, then sew the skirt lining+netting to top lining, then sew the lining to the dress itself. Well, I had aleady sewed the lining to the dress, so I had to be creative.

Netting pinned to skirt lining

A measure of a good sewer is someone who can fix mistakes or improvise. I'm no perfectionist, so I improvise. And no one would have even known had I not mentioned it. So I pinned the netting to the skirt lining and sewed it in place. Sounds easy, huh? Well, it was easy, but a pain because it seemed like my sewing machine was being attacked by netting.

I decided that the front of the dress looked too plain being a solid color, so I added a band of the contrasting fabric to go over the top to give it a bit more character. Little by little, boning, ribbon, hemming, etc...I was finally done...and I have impressed myself with this one!

Total project cost: under $50 (yay for sales!)

Total project time: about 30 hours

Looking better than the bride: priceless (Just kidding!!! haha!)

I've come a far way with my sewing skills in the past 4 years. Practice, practice, and more practice. I challenge myself every once in a while, and with each challenge, I learn more. This project could not have turned out any better...

A funny note...so I have this fancy ass dress now...well, I've taught Sean how to be cheap. Being cheap gives us more room in our budget to do fun things, like travelling and wakeboarding. We live the life we do, and we love it.

In an effort to save money going to Ohio, we've decided to make a roadtrip out of it and camp along the way. Then we'll end up in Columbus for the fancy schmancy wedding, where we're staying at the local Motel 6 (for $37? a night) so that we can get somewhat cleaned up for the shindig. Everyone else..well, they're staying at the Westin for some ungodly amount of $115/night. See the savings rolling in already? I really wanted to do the camping thing in Columbus as well and borrow Sean's parents room to clean up. I'm sure they'd feel pity on us and let us borrow the bathroom ;) But Sean decided that we should have a base of our own, so we're splurging for the Motel 6. Yes, that's a splurge. Sean's parents want us to stay at the Westin, and we're like..um..hell no...there's a reason why we're driving..there's a reason why we're camping...we aren't going to blow $350 on hotel rooms for a long weekend. Besides, we have our own wedding to save for...I'm talking $9/night for my wedding guests. Now we're talking ;)

I'm looking forward to the roadtrip...we're leaving on Saturday the 9th, and will be back the 24th of Sept.