Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Photos from our trip to Maui

Craig and I finally went on vacation!  We don't travel all that often due to a combination of our first trip being not a lot of fun (Vegas it turns out is not a great place for us to visit), the hassle of dealing with the dogs and how expensive it tends to be.  When our friends got engaged and decided to have their wedding in Hawaii, it was a great excuse to try out this whole vacation thing again.  So we did.  Because a few of us were going to the wedding, Craig and I decided to share some of the expenses with another couple who we are friends with.  We ended up getting a little 2 bedroom cottage in Kaanapali for a steal (it was rustic, but it had a roof and a place to shower, and it was clean, which is all you really need if you're going to be in Maui... it's not like we had any desire to travel so far just to stay inside!), and shared a rental car with them.  Craig and I were both pretty happy with the setup.  I think our friends probably would have liked some nicer accommodations, but anything nicer was going to run about 2x the price.

Anyway, we had an incredible time!  Our friends who were getting married arranged for a sunset sail for all wedding guests in lieu of a rehearsal dinner. Did you know that February is high whale season in Maui?  We saw SO MANY humpback whales, including a couple babies.  It was incredible.  The next day was the wedding, which was equally gorgeous.  And right after the ceremony, there were whales just off the coast that were jumping around and slapping their tales and whatnot.  Everything was just perfect.  Anyway, I don't have a ton of photos of just Maui.  Almost all of the photos are selfies, or pics of people.  Sorry man, it's what I was interested in.

First batch of photos are from our first full day.  Our friends went to Honolulu to see Pearl Harbor, so Craig and I spent the day walking 11 miles and learning about the public transit system in West Maui.  I also got huge blisters on one of my feet and learned that the single pair of flipflops that I had brought were not great for walking long distances in.  I ended up buying a pair of flipflops made from yoga mats.  They're not great looking, but they are incredibly comfortable.

Banyan Tree Lahaina Maui
This is an enormous banyan tree in downtown Lahaina.  I'm not entirely sure why I needed this photo, but I did, and I am a tourist, so I might as well get all the tourist trap photos I want!

We ended up catching a bus all the way up towards the north end of the island to Napili bay where our friends who got married were staying, and managed to go to this mai tai party where we pretended to be resort guests for free drinks.  It worked.  The sunset was pretty beautiful.

sunset at Napili Kai resort

sunset at Napili Kai resort

sunset at Napili Kai resort
Soooo happy to have finally made it to Maui!  We had a great day!

sunset at Napili Kai resort
Miraculously, Craig actually let me get a photo of him, which he pretty much never does.
 We went to the Ocean Center Aquarium one day, so I could satisfy my crippling curiosity/fear of sharks.  Then there was the sunset sail/whalewatching trip, followed by the wedding the next day.  My primary goal through all of this was not to get sun burned before the wedding.  I succeeded.  Craig and I are extremely pale (as has been evidenced by photos) and I burn easily, so as I am wont to do, I spent some time researching sunscreen on amazon, and got this pretty incredible Sun Bum SPF70 sunscreen, which it turns out is sold in pretty much all of the surf shops in Maui also.  Anyway, photos.

maui ocean center shark selfie

maui ocean center stingray selfie

Craig looked so handsome and nautical.  I love this photo of him!

The next few days consisted of a couple beach trips, day drinking, coffee plantation tour, distillery tour, and goat dairy tour.  We had a lot of fun at all of them.

kaanapali beach

This is where some day drinking had happened, and I decided to see if "beachy waves" were really a thing.  So I let my saltwater hair dry naturally.  They are a thing, and they're fabulous.  But I woke up the next morning with my scalp full of sand.  If you got sand in your hair, it's probably best to wash it.

coffee plantation selfie

kaanapali coffee plantation

It's probably a good thing that we can't have goats at our house per city ordinances. We both want some. They're so stinkin' cute!

I am pretty much the goat whisperer.  They all love me.
Now let's talk about food.  Hawaii has a special "brand" of food.  It's called Local Food, and it's loosely associated with Asian cuisine, probably closest to Phillipino food.  It's delicious.  SPAM is a specialty.  It's also way cheaper in Hawaii than it is in Seattle, like half the price.  One of our favorite treats is SPAM Musubi, a Hawaiian creation.  Another delicious specialty is a breakfast food, loco moko.  It consists, as a base, of rice, hamburger patty, eggs, and gravy.  This is oftentimes added to.  We had some great loco moco at the Westin, which was fancy.  It had SPAM, and instead of a regular gravy, they used a sriracha demiglace, and added mushrooms.  We had it with caramelized onions, and Kihei Cafe allows you to sub in fried rice instead of plain white rice (this was the best preparation).  Either way, we tried to have some variant of loco moko for breakfast every day, which, although it was probably 3,000 calories, also kept us full til dinnertime, and stood up against a couple of bloody marys with breakfast.

SPAM endcap in Hawaii Safeway

SPAM Musubi
These were our carryon snacks!  They sell musubi at all of the convenience stores that carry food.

the Westin's Loco Moko

The Castaway Cafe's Loco Moko

Breakfast selfie at Cheeseburger in Paradise, the day we left.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I sewed a hobo bag!

I'm not calling this a purse, because it's not really.  But it's also not an all-out grocery type tote.  I'm gonna call it a hobo bag.  Because A) it is a hobo bag and B) then it kind of sounds like I meant for it to be a little shabby.

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

Once again, spurred by our upcoming trip to Hawaii (can you tell that we never go on vacation?), I am wanting a compact, lightweight, and useful bag to cruise around the island with.  It only needs to hold a few things - sunblock, my phone, wallet, lip balm, and maybe a bottle of water.  It needn't be a beach bag (although I totally sewed one of those as well!).  So I went to pinterest and found a tutorial for exactly the type of bag I was looking for.  Something simple that didn't require too much technique, and had simple, easy to understand instructions.  Oh, and a printable pattern didn't hurt either!

So I got to it.  I bought 2 yards of quilting-type cotton fabric.  I also learned that there is such a thing as "designer" fabric that is not a standard apparel type of fabric. For some reason, I expected this stuff to be cheap, but it wasn't.  It was like $10/yd.  If I had been able to locate remnants, that probably would have been good.  The store I was at had just cleared out their remnants section, and since I was set on having a mint lining... well...  I coughed up the $20 for 2 yards of fabric and went on my merry way.

I just followed the directions on the tutorial, but regardless, I started with the pattern.  It requires that you cut out 2 pieces of each fabric.  I did so.  Then I marked where the darts go, stitched along the lines, trimmed the extraneous material away, and pinned the pieces together, right-sides facing in.

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

The next step was to sew the bottom and sides together, making 2 little baggies

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

After they were stitched to themselves, the trick was nesting the mint into the navy (right sides together) and kind of pairing up the parts where they needed to pair.  All but the really strappy end parts got sewn together.  Take your time on this portion and make sure that it all makes sense. Afterwards, I turned it right side out.  It was like pulling a grapefruit through a sweatshirt sleeve.  Doable, but kinda tricky.

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

Then the only thing left was ironing all of the seams in, and stitching around all the strap parts after sewing straps together.  My "decorative" stitch sucked.  I am considering doing something a lot less visible like the gal who did the tutorial did. I think it takes the bag from "neat" to "obviously homemade," which isn't exactly the look I'm going for.  But it'll be perfect for cruising around Maui for random adventures.

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

I actually had enough extra fabric to make another bag.  The second one didn't have the straps.  Instead, I just cut it straight across, (but it still has the darts and rounded bottom), then sewed some navy nylon webbing into the top seam to function as straps.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Faux Wrap Jersey Pencil Skirt

In the last few weeks, I have kind of learned to sew.  And I mean that in the loosest sense of the word.  What I mean more, is that I have learned (mostly) how to use my sewing machine, and how to (kind of) construct clothing.  A few years ago, I picked up a 1960s Kenmore machine on Craigslist for $30.  I wanted a bunch of throw pillows because our sofa was naked and since I am super picky about everything that I really don't need to be picky about, run of the mill pillows weren't going to cut it.  So I sewed custom pillow covers using my sewing machine.  And then it got relegated to a shelf in the spare bedroom until recently.  You see, we are planning a trip to Hawaii pretty soon for our friends' wedding.  This upcoming warm weather vacation, paired with the huge wardrobe transition I am in (I'm pretty much building a new wardrobe from scratch), has put me in a kind of strange mode where I am trying to acquire all new clothes for the trip (I don't have much spring/summer wear to speak of).  I decided that I needed a jersey pencil skirt in lieu of wearing shorts (they're not a great look on me) and when I looked on pinterest for outfit ideas, I was inundated with "easy 20 minute pencil skirt tutorial."  So I crazily decided that of course I could sew a pencil skirt.  Why not?  Based on the tutorials, it seemed pretty simple.  I hit the fabric store and got 2 different fabrics, a thick navy, and a super thin mint and navy chevron.  I read over several different tutorials, and kind of winged it.  Most of them said something to the effect of "get a skirt that fits you really well, and use it as a template. The problem is that I didn't have a pencil skirt that fit me really well, so that wasn't all that useful.  I found a tutorial for making a pattern on pinterest and went with it.  I took all of my measurements, taped a couple of opened up paper bags together, and drew the pattern out on them.  My first skirt was fairly simple, and when I test-fit it, it was huge!  I hadn't accounted for the stretch inherent in jersey.  Luckily, it was just a matter of sewing another seam a couple inches in on the fabric and trimming all the extraneous bits.  After a bit of trial and error, I finally ended up with a size and shape that I was happy with.  Then I laid that on the pattern, marked, and trimmed around it!  Not ideal, but that's how it shook out with me.  Your mileage may vary.

faux wrap jersey pencil skirt tutorial

I searched high and low for a tutorial on how to make a faux wrap jersey pencil skirt, and just couldn't find something that I liked that wouldn't show my butt if I bent over.  I did however, find this Helmut Lang skirt on Pinterest that I felt reasonably confident that I could copy.  So I found some fabric.  I love saturated colors, and this bright royal blue was perfect(also, a remnant - so $6.99/yd).  Being a thin fabric, it would still be comfortable as a double layered type of thing.  I probably used about 1.5 yards of fabric.  To cut it out, I folded the fabric along the bottom edge of the skirt, being sure that the stretch ran side to side (pay attention to this!) so it was doubled, and then folded it again along the side, so that when I laid the pattern on top, I would have 4 layers of fabric.  I traced around it with some tailors chalk, and then cut it using scissors (one of those rolly cutters would have been way easier).

faux wrap jersey pencil skirt tutorial

faux wrap jersey pencil skirt tutorial

Once the fabric had been cut out, I made sure to determine which was the "right" side, that is, the side of the fabric that I wanted to face out.  It is a lot more subtle in jersey type fabrics than it is on a standard cotton.  The first thing that I did was I made the hem.  The back of the skirt needed to be 2 layers thick so I could avoid showing my underpants to anyone standing behind me, so I put the 2 good sides together, and sewed a simple stitch along the bottom of the skirt.  WHEN SEWING JERSEY, YOU MUST ALWAYS USE A ZIGZAG STITCH  There.  Now that that's out of the way, we can move on.  Use a zigzag stitch.  This allows the fabric to stretch.  If you don't, when you put the skirt on and move, you're going to break the thread and then you'll be totally bummed out when your seams fall apart.

So you sewed the 2 layers of the back together.  Now you need to turn them right side out and iron the hem.  By now you've probably realized that jersey loves to curl. This is great when you're wanting it to not unravel, but it sucks when you're trying to get it to lie flat.  Avoid stretching it at all while you're trying to work with and sew it and this will minimize(but not eliminate) curling.  I went with a simple hem for my front pieces, just folding them under once and stitching to hem.  But I couldn't get them to sit flat, so I pinned and ironed it.  Grrr.

faux wrap jersey pencil skirt tutorial

faux wrap jersey pencil skirt tutorial

Once I had the 2 layers of the back hemmed together, and the 2 layers of the front hemmed separately, I had to get one side each of the front fabric gathered.  I used this tutorial as a basis.  With the outside facing up, I sewed and gathered the left side of one piece, and the right side of the other.  I gathered about the bottom half to two thirds of each piece.  Getting it even was a lot more difficult that it seemed like it should have been.

faux wrap jersey pencil skirt tutorial

faux wrap jersey pencil skirt tutorial

Once I had the gathering determined, I set about pinning all 4 layers of the skirt together, right-sides facing in.  It was time consuming to make sure that everything was lined up as I wanted it to be  But I finally did it. I made sure the long piece of each front side matched up with the hem of the back.

faux wrap jersey pencil skirt tutorial

Then it was just a matter of sewing down each side.  After verifying fit, I decided to add the waistband, which is a piece of the same fabric, but instead of running the stretch side-to-side, it runs top to bottom, making it so the waistband fits tight.  It's also really tight going over your butt and thighs, so you may have to do some test fitting to see if this is an option for you, or whether you'll have to run your stretch horizontally.  Either way, the waistband is just a piece of fabric doubled over (right side out), and sewed along the seam that holds it together (making a loop).  Then you turn your skirt right side out, and pin the waistband to it, folded side down, so that the unfinished top of the skirt and the unfinished top of the waistband meet up.  Then just simply sew around that area.  You're still using the zigzag stitch, right?  Then you just fold the waistband up, and you essentially have a finished skirt!

faux wrap jersey pencil skirt tutorial

At this point, you just need to do some test fitting to make sure it all fits well. Once you're happy, trim all of the extraneous seam allowances off.  I finished my skirt on Saturday, and felt so proud of myself (I was also totally ready to be done) but then when I went to put it on Sunday afternoon, I realized that the zigzag stitch (and also the color of thread) that I used was not right.  The zigzag was far too "open" and resulted in the stitches kind of opening up and looking visible.  It wasn't cute.  Set your stitch length much shorter and please be sure to use a thread that actually matches your fabric.

While I was picking at it, I ended up taking a lot of the seams out to change the way that the ruching laid.  The bottom of my outer layer ended up getting shortened side-to-side by probably 3".  This helped to eliminate any parts of the skirt that were puffy or just laying weird. Sorry for the work bathroom selfies, I don't have a full length mirror at home (I am just now realizing how strange that is).

faux wrap jersey pencil skirt tutorialfaux wrap jersey pencil skirt tutorial

These should be perfect cruising around Hawaii!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Bulletproof(butter) Coffee

I am willing to try almost anything once.  When I was pretty into eating Paleo(or similar), I kept coming across references to Bulletproof Coffee.  If you have somehow missed the hipster express and have not yet heard of this substance, here, let me explain it to you.  It's basically butter and any number of other good-for-you fats dunked into your coffee.  It sounds totally sick, right?  Well it tastes incredibly close to coffee with cream.  And essentially, it is.  The concept is that it gives you energy, focus, and helps curb your appetite.  And it does.  You know, because coffee. And fat.  You could probably get a very similar product from just adding some grassfed cream and a couple hunks of coconut oil to your coffee in the morning, but for whatever reason, this feels like more of a ritual and leaves me feeling less hungry.  It very well could be psychological.

The recipe?
28 grams (2 tablespoons) of good fat (grassfed butter and coconut oil)

Grassfed butter is the preferred base of this.  People recommend unsalted.  It's expensive at the grocery store, and our Costco only sells the salted stuff.  Craig and I use it because we don't have any issues with sodium consumption, and frankly, we kind of like it.  Craig goes with the whole 28 grams in butter, because he hates coconut.  Joke's on him.  I actually quite like coconut, so I either go 14/14 or 23/5 butter/coconut oil.  The reason to include the coconut oil is that the medium chain triglycerides are easy to digest and generally considered (at least for now) quite good for you.

Coffee.  Craig and I use the heck out of our Aeropress.  Like every morning.  I actually haven't touched my espresso machine in over a year.  It's on a shelf in our spare bedroom collecting dust.  Anyway, good coffee.  Organic coffee is better for the environment (duh) and has far less chemical residue that conventionally produced coffee.  And I find that when you start getting into decent quality coffee, there often is very little (if any) cost differential between conventional and organic, so might as well find something organic you love.  We usually  get the Whole Foods store brand, Allegro.  They have a medium roast that's organic, called Early Bird Breakfast Blend.  A pound will set you back about $12.

weighing out the fat for bulletproof coffee

Here's how we go.  I have amassed quite the collection of those flimsy plastic starbucks reusable mugs.  You know, the ones that cost $1 and look like a normal paper cup?  I am constantly losing or letting to-go mugs get totally disgusting, so I figured I'd just get these quasi-disposable cups and use them for coffee at home.  The only thing is that since I've gotten these, I haven't destroyed any, and I've mostly stopped losing them.  And they last freaking forever. Oh geez.  There goes another rant.

doodles on reusable starbucks cups
Recognize  the llama?

doodles on reusable starbucks cups
Recognize the NWA reference?  Craig's favorite cup.
I have a scale out on the counter all the time.  I use them constantly for cooking, portioning, etc, so it is a super easy way to ensure I'm getting the right amount of fat in my coffee.  While the water is heating and the coffee is grinding, I just toss the cup on a scale, and start adding butter/coconut oil til I hit 28 grams.  Then I brew my coffee right over the top of the butter.  It melts the fat, and then I just buzz the half-full cup with my hand blender.  It gets frothy and emulsified, I let it sit a few more minutes for the foam to die down a little, and then finish filling the cup with additional water.  Easy peasy.

brewing coffee with the aeropress

bamix hand blender
I got this 1970s Bamix on Ebay for $30 shipped.  It's built like a tank.  Made in Switzerland, and should last you forever
blending the coffee and butter/coconut oil

blended coffee
Difference between blended butter coffee and unblended.  Gross oil slick on top of unblended.
Now, let's talk about how this goes, realistically.  Nutritionally, it's great.  It fills me up, and only sets me back a hair over 200 calories.  There are few breakfasts that do so.  It takes an equal amount of time to make as a normal cup of coffee (which I'd be making anyhow), doesn't take any more time to consume than I normally would spend (sipping while I put on makeup and drive to work), and doesn't generate any additional dishes.  The hand blender just gets rinsed off when I'm done and goes back in it's little stand thing.

And the downsides?  If I let it get cold, it gets icky.  The oils solidify and then it gets chunky.  Microwaving fixes the chunky part, but then you get the oil slick on the top again.  Fix?  Drink it faster.  Done.  The inside of the cup gets oily, and I like to reuse my cups.  Instead of just rinsing the cup before refilling it with some hot water with tea, I actually have to wash it with dish soap. I can live with that.

Additional upside?  It moisturizes my lips.

So I implore you, please try this.  At least once.  If you have one of those little bullet type blenders, make the coffee in that!  I admit that it might be kind of a bummer if you just have a vitamix or other normal blender, but give it a shot, and if you love it, spend $30 on a hand blender, which you will use all the freaking time once you have it.