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Archive for March, 2010

Sometimes I like to sew.

Actually, at one point I used to sew quite a bit – and not just pillow cases! I would make a variety of ren-faire garb and this one time, back in college, I made a black silk DEEP (like down to my navel deep) v-neck dress (think the infamous J-Lo dress only black silk) for the radio station formal.

Oh, to be that small again (size and chest, there’s NO way I could pull it off now without having some sort of “malfunction”).

Anyway, I’ve been drooling over the new series of maxi dresses hitting the stores for summer. It love that they can hide a multitude of sins and depending on the cut and material, just about anyone can wear them.

I bought one recently at Old Navy – it’s a beautiful light blue/aqua linen-esq material. It even has POCKETS! I was thrilled. I got it for our trip to Florida and to wear to Beltane.

But then I thought, gee a slightly more elaborate version of this dress would be awesome as a bridesmaid’s dress (don’t worry, I’m still putting the cart before the horse here – we’re not officially engaged yet) in a simple nice fabric with some embellishments. That way, the maids can hem it later if they want or keep it long. AND it solves the problem of finding dresses that meet my requirements:

1. Has to be the same style/color for each maid (I’m just like that)

2. Has to be flattering on a large variety of body types. (Unfortunately, the women I have in mind are not all the same body type so it needs to be something uniformly flattering)

3. Has to be something that they can wear outside of this one event.

The last requirement is the hardest to fulfill. The problem I have is that the women I have in mind all have vastly different lives so finding something that would work with everyone is more than difficult.

So I’ve come to the conclusion that I will make this much more difficult than it needs to be (of course) and make the bridesmaids dresses myself for a total of probably 4 dresses. Luckily 2 of my other maids know how to sew and have machines. So I will only have to make 2 myself.

I will also purchase the fabric/notions/etc for them and they can make the dress. Most of my friends don’t have a ton of left over income so I’m not going to put that burden on them. I think I’ll ask them to provide shoes, but that’s it. The labor of making the dress will save me a ton of anxiety.

I was looking for some patterns and I found a convertible dress that had the kind of maxi dress style I was looking for (something with sort of dolman-like sleeve option)

http://rowena.typepad.com/rostitchery/infinity-dress.html

I couldn’t even believe how easy it was! There’s no real “pattern” to use – and I think my friends could whip these up in an afternoon. The only thing I don’t like about this dress is that it doesn’t leave much room for embellishment except on the hem line of the skirt. Ah well, we could make some pretty beaded necklaces or something I suppose.

They say jersey material is the best to use with this pattern so I’m wondering if I could take some old jersey linens I have an make a mock-up (for myself) and see if it works. I think I’d need more than one seam for a longer skirt however. Maybe I’ll use the pattern for the circle skirt I made for the ren faire…

The jersey linen I have is off-white so I can always dye it if need be.

Might be a project for tonight if I’m feeling rather ambitious.

However, I’ve found another dress that I love and need to find a pattern for:

I found this dress on the Target website and enjoy the shape to it. There is room for embellishment on the neckline and around the waist line as well. Also – it can be hemmed to a shorter length after the wedding if they so desire. It’s also one of those dresses you can either dress up or down and will look good on all body types (without having to wear an insane amount of shapewear). Most importantly, I want all my maids to feel beautiful for a few reasons:

1. After putting up with all my crazy – they deserve it. I just hope I can keep it in check.

2. They’re my closest friends – they deserve to feel pretty!

3. I want them to be happy and comfortable. Asking someone to be a bridesmaid is not as easy as one would think. Not to mention I’m *technically* having 2 ceremonies. Granted they are a year apart, but still, it’s not like it’s a one and done kind of deal. There will be quite a bit of work to be done (in the realm of decorating and planning) and the making of stuff for everything that it will be a little more taxing than “Go get this dress and show up at the rehersal.”

I’m sure my friends wouldn’t want it any other way – they definitely are creative and hands-on type of people – which is why I plan on choosing them.

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The last week or so has been pretty crazy around here (work and at home) so sorry the posts have been minimal.

I’ve also been trying to keep food costs at an absolute minimal since we’re leaving for Florida on Friday! Finally! Vacation!!

The result has been relatively uninspired meals, which for the most part isn’t a problem, but for as much as I love to cook, it does make me feel slightly guilty.

Saturday night we made a Bacon Cheeseburger Soup. Unfortunately I forgot to print the recipe at work and for the life of me, I couldn’t find it online again! Damn!

So here’s the original recipe:

1 lb ground beef

2 slices strong bacon

1 tbs beef bullion powder (or one cube)

1/2 lb mild cheddar cheese (shredded)

1/4 C chopped onion

2 celery stalks – chopped

1 large green pepper – seeded and chopped

4 C whole milk

4 tbs flour

1/8 tsp seasoned salt

Fry bacon and set aside, sautee veggies in bacon fat until soft and cooked through – set aside.

Cook ground beef until brown, add bullion, season salt and flour slowly so it doesn’t clump – mix well.

Turn down heat and add milk – still mixing the mixture.

Add bacon and veggies.

Turn heat to low.

Add shredded cheddar and stir until melted.

Now, we didn’t do it that way. I honestly don’t really know what happened – Garry did most of it because I felt pretty yucky. But, he explained to me that he likes his soups really thick, like thicker than a stew (but then it’s not a soup anymore!) So he went about with his own recipe (based off the directions I gave him).

Instead of celery we used jalapenos and added potatoes. He added a bunch of other spices to the meat too. (he doesn’t really remember what)

We also used pre-cooked bacon to avoid some of the fat from the bacon grease.

So here’s how he did it.

Put 6 C water (or stock) in the pot and set to boil

Cut up and sautee the veggies until soft.

Peed and cut potatoes into small chunks and add veggies to now boiling pot.

Brown the ground beef (adding whatever spices it is that he added) and add to pot.

Crumble bacon and add to pot.

Add 2 C milk to pot.

Add flour (which I will say that I didn’t think it needed flour at all. It seemed perfectly find to me, but he insisted that he wanted a really thick soup so fine, I let him)

Add shredded cheese and stir until melted.

We served this with some heat and serve garlic bread from Weggies. Honestly, the bread was AWESOME – although a little too salty for my taste. Natrually, Garry was in heaven with that bread.

The soup was good, but not amazing. I think it needed something more to it. I think less flour so it was an actual soup would’ve been good too – it was actually more like a very thick alfredo sauce consistency. It tasted fine, but when you want soup, well… you want soup.

So I think I’ll be making the cheeseburger soup next time – at least the liquid.

Garry LOVED the soup. He was actually quite pleased with himself. He is getting much better at cooking and having to ask less questions. Although if he doesn’t have a recipe written out infront of him he is kind of lost. That’s all well and good. I still need recipes too. I’m a FAR cry from being able to just “cook” something marvelous just by knowing the science of cooking.

That’s the one thing I love about it – cooking is not only an art, but it’s a science. It’s a beautiful blending of the two sides of the brain to create a masterpiece.

Tonight I’m making a very tasty meal that we had at Crazy Ladies Night last week. It’s like a pasta salad, but not… I don’t know how to explain it. My friend Annalise made it and it was SOOO good.

I’m making it with Ramen noodles for our Noodle night, and it consists of pinto beans (there weren’t ANY black beans a the store – seriously… NONE) garbanzo beans, some peppers and fresh cilantro. It’s a little different than what she made, but I think I got the same idea down.

Should be very tasty. 🙂 And it makes a really high yeild so we’ll have some for lunch and for left overs tomorrow.

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Making an effort

Friday Garry and I went to Kohl’s to go clothes shopping. I wasn’t expecting much. I haven’t been able to successfully shop for anything at Kohl’s for myself since I was in high school and I was expecting to be successful this time around either. I was just looking for jeans that didn’t feel like they were going to cut me in half and possibly a dress that was lightweight, but professional looking so I could wear it to Florida for the family dinner and to work.

Suprisingly, I only went up one pant size. I was sure it was going to be at least 2 pant sizes, putting me back at a size 16. But, I managed to find a pair of jeans that were a size 14 that fit nicely. Can’t complain about that I suppose.

I also found a really cute wrap dress (it’s brown, green, lime, cream and teal paisley) on sale so I grabbed that as well. Add a pair of cork and white vinyl wedges and I was set. Oh, and a waist cincher… the heavy-duty kind with boning… you know, for everything else I own that doesn’t fit that I’d like to be able to wear.

I’m wearing the contraption today and I have to say, the boning is rather uncomfortable! I’ve worn garments with boning before and have never been this uncomfortable in them. *grumble* Another reason to get my butt to the gym.

We had a beautiful weekend up here in upstate New York. It was sunny and ne’re a cloud in the sky. I wish the weather could stay like that a while with a good rainstorm at night. You know, kind of like Camelot.

Saturday Garry and I went to an Ostara ritual hosted by a few friends of his. It’s always a little awkward going, mostly because out of everyone there, I’m the only non-Heathen (Heathen in this case, their proper term representing people who follow the Norse pantheon of neo-paganism) and it’s always a little… weird for me. While I don’t get bothered by it, I’ve always felt a little like I’m spoiling the party by inviting gods (from the pantheon I follow – the Greco-Romans) to the service.

I’d feel like I was doing them a disservice if I didn’t acknowledge them, and why should I not? As much as the stories point toward Hera having malicious and jealous tendancies, I don’t think she’d stand out too far from the Norse. And if she decided to attach me to someone who has the nickname Loki… well… I’m doubtful then that she takes much issue with the Norse, she probably think they’re entertaining.

Anyway, it was a lovely, albeit awkward, service. Garry and I planted the two pots of Casablanca lilies, blessed them with mead and… honestly… it was really beautiful. It felt so good to do something like that together. He knows how significant the bloom is to me, and I think it holds similar significance to him as well.

We cleared off the teak buffet and wiped it down. I grabbed the antlers off my dresser, along with my sun and moon rocks, a small depression glass plate, and the small loaf of bread that was made for us as offering. I also have the cobalt bottle that contained the mead (which has blue lilies on the label coincidentally) filled with water. I arranged everything on the buffet nice and symmetrically. It will be a while before the altar is completely finished – I will need to find the correct statuary, cloths, candles and incense holders. Ideally, I’d like a censor or something other than a stick burner.

It looks lovely right now, but bare. I’m not sure what Garry will want to put on there yet. Neither of us really have ritual tools – I guess we’re not really tool people. Would I like to acquire some? Sure. But running off and buying a tool just because it looks pretty isn’t what I’m looking to do. I’d need to Need it first of all, and right now I don’t really have much Need for a tool. As for right now, the only “tool” I have is my drum. That, I think, will be hung on the wall – safe from kitties. I’d really like a big mural over the altar (it’s 6 feet long) and that would be really cool, but of what?

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Today is the first day of Spring. Finally, the days are longer than the nights. The Earth will wake and we can have of Her bounty.

Something about today makes me feel good and optimistic.

Yesterday we went to Lowes to get seeds to start our garden. When we walked by the section of lily bulbs there was one package of Casablanca Lilies left.

I can’t plant anything in upstate NY until April anyway, the veggies can wait. Today is a special day, and a special plant should be planted. So I bought the Casablanca Lilies and two pots for the 6 bulbs.

Nearly 3 years ago I had a vision, standing in a field full of white lilies, and She came to me and told me of things that took me a while to really believe. I wore a blue dress, which I now own, and sat under a large oak tree while weaving wreaths of these lilies. It was when She told me of the strength and the perserverence I’d need to get through the trials of the next few years, that I should never give up hope. She challenged me to jump off that cliff, to dive into the ocean and once I had face that fear I’d find my reward.

And I did. I found someone who loved me unconditionally, despite all my flaws. I found someone who is protector, lover and advisor. I found something I never thought I’d find in a place that seemed so unlikely, and at a time that seemed inconvenient. When in reality, it was what I needed, when I needed it.

So today we’re planting the lilies, in thanks to Her and her Infinite wisdom and guidance and rememberance of the Dream.

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It definitely is starting to feel like Spring here in upstate NY.

I hear the birds every time I’m lying in bed and I can leave the windows open and smell that moisture in the air. I never really noticed the smell of spring as much as I have this time around, maybe because I’m more aware of it coming this time.

The smell of damp Earth. The snow is melting away and seeping into the sod that was frozen just a few weeks ago. You can feel things rumbling, stirring, like in those few moments before you get out of bed each morning.

Today I’m feeling a little better. Yesterday I managed to have (what I’m calling) the curse of the Irish. I didn’t drink more than 2 cokes with a splash of rum, but somehow, someway, I felt like I drank an entire bottle of rum the next morning. Lovely. Still trying to figure out how that happened.

So today I’m feeling a little more spring-like. I’m listening to a variety of Loreena McKennitt songs on YouTube. Something about the music reminds me of Spring. Maybe it’s the association with Celtic music and rythms that reminds me of Ireland, which is pretty green and green equals Spring? Something? Anyone?

Either way, I’m enjoying the music and feeling everything start to wake up around me. It makes me want to drum some more oddly enough.

It also makes it difficult to get anything accomplished today as the music is rather trancey. Almost time to go home though…

No, I’ve figured it out. It’s the drumming. The drumming reminds me of Beltane (which is only about 6 weeks away) and the Scarf Dance, and the enourmous Balefires, and all of those beautiful wonderful things.

It feels good this year. Last year I wasn’t looking forward to Spring, or Beltane or really much of anything for that matter. I was stuck in a time warp where everything was just the past, there wasn’t really any looking forward to the future.

But, things are much different now. I’m finding a rekindled love with my community and the people in it. With Adee and Jeff bringing a new life into our circle, I’m left to think about what growing up really is and what part of that path I’m on.

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Dear friends,

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, the one day a year that people of Irish heritage celebrate their ancestry by eating corned beef and cabbage, mashed potatoes and drinking copious quantities of Guiness or other varieties of beer or liquor.

While I will be the first to champion the celebration of your heritage, I’m going to ask politely of a few favors.

1. Don’t forget what you’re celebrating. Instead of chugging 8 pints of green beer, maybe take 8 minutes and learn about what St. Patrick’s Day is all about and take a minute to reflect on your feelings on the story. St. Patrick didn’t drive the snakes out of Ireland my friends, he drove the Pagans out. (Snakes being a metaphor for Pagans) I’m not writing this to make a point that this a holiday centered around persecution, (I celebrate St. George’s Day and it’s the same thing, only English) but just take a minute to think about it. Take a moment to appreciate your heritage and what the Irish people have had to overcome to make it in America.

2. Limit yourself. Most of us have to work on Thursday and going to work hungover isn’t fun. It’s also not fun to work with people who are hungover. Also, if you are celebrating somewhere other than home, for the love of all things holy and sacred, do NOT drive. Please order a cab or have a sober friend or relative drive you home. If at all possible, celebrate somewhere where you can stay overnight if you plan on indulging. I do not want to have to come back from the dead to haunt someone who was irresponsible. That’s not how I want to spend my afterlife thanks.

3. If I’m not wearing green tomorrow do not pinch me. Really. We’re not in 2nd grade anymore. Just because you are Irish or pretending to be Irish doesn’t mean I have to as well.

4. Along the lines of number 3, just because I don’t plan on drinking an insane amount of alcohol (or even to the point of being drunk), does not mean I’m a party pooper. Actually, it means I’m a responsible adult. So don’t make fun of me, or others, that might not feel the need to tip more than a few back.

In closing, I wish all of you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day. May the luck of the Irish shine on us all, even if we’re only pretending to be Irish.

Much love,

Amy

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Frugality at it’s best

I am determined to plant seeds this Ostara – and desperate times call for desperate measures.

Luckily for me, I can put together a menu that isn’t so terrible that I can pull off a week’s worth of groceries for about $50 at Wegman’s. Also it helps that once a week I go to ladie’s night and Garry knaws on some venison that his dad gave us.

So here is my $50 a week budget meal planning:

Wed 3/17: St. Patty’s Day party – Bonfire Warmer Soup

Carrots, milk, pre-cooked bacon (or buy bacon and cook it yourself), onion, butter, flour (already have), curry powder (already have)

(Guests are bringing side dishes)

Thurs: 3/18: Orange glazed pork chops w/ asparagus and rice

Pork chops, orange juice, asparagus, apricot preserves (all already have), rice

Fri 3/19: Noodle night! – Chicken and broccoli ramen

Ramen noodles, chicken breast, broccoli, cream of broccoli soup

Sat 3/20: Raspberry pancakes

pancake mix (already have), raspberries

Sun 3/21: Ostara

Spring Omelets w/ sausage

Eggs, leeks, asparagus, sausage (already have sausage)

Mon 3/22: Frozen pizza (I know, how unimaginative!)

Tues 3/23: Lady’s night (Garry will probably make some venison and rice)

Wed 3/24: Bean burritos

Black beans, onion, jalapeno, salsa, rice, cheese, burrito tortillas (I have some left over)

So I’m hoping it won’t be too bad. I have $125 to last me until next Thursday and I should put some gas in my car today too. That leaves $100 to buy a week’s worth of groceries. If I can keep it close to $50 I’ll be a happy camper. (You know incase we need cat food/litter or something)

It’s a bit of a stretch, but I think we can do it! If I can save that $$ I can happily go buy myself some seeds and potting mix and not feel terribly guilty about it.

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