Friday, October 31, 2008

Josefina Dress in Yellow

Another Josefina "Christmas" dress, this time in yellow. And I will be making more in pink, as well. :) 

Another Christmas Party Dress for Samantha

This time in blue, with white lace and ribbon. I like the wider satin on this one as opposed to the purple one I made earlier. The green one is still my favorite, though. 

Kirsten's Apron Dress

This outfit was made from Kirsten's Pretty Clothes patterns from Pleasant Company. The copyright date was 1990. Yeah, we've had these for a while! 

The first picture was with the apron. I modified the pattern, leaving out the rick-rack, and using an eyelet scrap that I had. It was really easy, but I decided to use a snap as the back closure because there was too much fabric in the waistband to use the button-holer on my machine. 

I like the dress just fine without the apron, too! 

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Josefina's "Christmas" Dress

I know: it doesn't look like Josefina and it doesn't look very Christmas-y! The pattern is Josefina's, though, and I chose this material because I wanted the Lizzie Bennet look from Pride and Prejudice. I thought the lawn material might be too thin, but with the undergarments, it looks just right. And now that I've got my serger working, I can finish the seams much more quickly. It works well with the material that shreds easily. I like how it looks and I have cut out the pieces for a similar one in yellow! 

Now, I just have to buy white satin ribbon to finish yet another one of Samantha's Holiday Dress. :) 

Place Mats

These have been a long time coming. I've had the pattern for years (sorry, I have forgotten it), I've had the material for years (pretty toile!) and they've been sitting there. So, I finally made the place-mats, and I think they look pretty durn good. I had a problem with the corners, getting them all straight, but for a first try, not too shabby! 

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hot Property by Carly Phillips

Hot Property is the fourth book in Phillip's Hot Zone series. The first three books followed the romances of three sisters who worked in the family PR business that catered to athletes. The fourth book follows the romance of John Roper, a friend of the family and center fielder for the fictional baseball team the New York Renegades. 

John Roper has been having a rough off-season after a stinging loss in the World Series. His physical therapy is derailed more often than not by the demands of his family. In an attempt to bring his life back on track, PR agent Amy Stone squires him away to a resort. While there, the sparks fly. 

Phillips' Hot Zone books are very character-oriented and filled with crazy secondary characters. Neither John nor Amy have what may be considered "normal" families. (Okay, who does?) Both have families that crave the spotlight, from Amy's hyper mom and aunt to John's actress mother who can't admit she's aging. Then there's Amy's boss, Yank, who is going blind but won't admit it, instead tripping over things and getting a dog that's hardly a seeing-eye dog. The anchors in the story are John and Amy, but the secondary characters threaten to overwhelm the main characters. They're just way too cheesy. 

Amy's problem is that because her family is so "out-there" she doesn't like the spotlight, which makes her shy away from Roper every time a picture of them is taken. She's very good at telling him how to handle his family, but she does not have the same finesse in handling her own family. John goes all therapist towards the end of the book: 
It didn't take a psychologist to figure out that Amy dove into handling his family so methodically not because she was used to handling her own, but because she couldn't control them. In managing Roper's family issues, she'd been able to take charge in a way she hadn't been able to with her own family. She saw herself in Roper, and when Roper fell back into old habits, she'd backed away.

I could also have done without the epilogue, which is written like a Page Six gossip column. Having taken a journalism class and understanding what is required of newspaper writing, Phillips writing here just doesn't cut it. It's confusing and is tacked on at the end where it's not really needed. 

Grade: B-

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Samantha's Christmas Dresses

This week I made two versions of Samantha's Christmas Dress from the patterns made specifically for the Samantha Doll. 

This is the second one: 

I used a broader ribbon around the waist, which I really liked. I also got the serger working, so  the seams were finished. 

This one is the first one I made: 

I would have liked a broader ribbon around the waist, but that was the widest white I had. I also would have liked broader lace around the shoulders, but I used what was available. 

ETA: The purple dress was given to Hannah for Christmas '08. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris

Definitely Dead is the sixth book in Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series. I'm a bit disappointed that I read through this one so quickly because I'm out of books and there's only two left! Well, so far. Hopefully she'll continue with the series well beyond eight books. 

In this book, Sookie has discovered that she has inherited her vampire cousin Hadley's earthly belongings. This is no easy task and goes beyond merely cleaning out an apartment an arranging new homes for the belongings. Sookie has made many enemies in the vampire world, and not always through her own actions but merely knowing some of the inner workings of the vampire world. While in New Orleans, Sookie comes into contact with the Vampire Queen of Louisiana, who is newly married to the Vampire King of Arkansas. Also into the mix is Quinn, Sookie's new shape-shifter boyfriend. Oh, and there's also the family of her friend Alcide's ex-girlfriend--they want to find out what happened to their daughter and sister. 

Until this point, I have preferred the books that Harris has written about the small town of Bon Temps. Although this one is mostly set in New Orleans, it was still a good read. The usual crew of supes were present in this book as well: weres, shape-shifters, vampires, fairies, and the just plain undescribable. Harris weaves a very good story without bogging down the narrative with infodump. She explains just enough of the characters to catch the reader up without explaining every little detail. 

I also loved the humor in the book. The opening scene is the photo shoot for a romance novel cover portfolio she promised the fairy Claude she'd shoot. And the new element in the book are witches. 

I can already anticipate what the next book is about and can't wait. The Queen of Louisiana and the King of Arkansas are not happy newlyweds, and all did not end well for them in this book. 


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Power Play by Deirdre Martin

I searched high and low for this book. I went to all two bookstores in town the day it came out, the day after it came out, and two days after it came out. I gave up on Books-A-Million because they didn't have any in stock, which doesn't surprise me considering they can't even alphabetize their books. Barnes and Noble at least bothered to look in the back for me. I suppose that since the book didn't go on one of the tables or an end-cap, shelving it was not a priority. Never mind that the romance genre is a billion-dollar industry. So, this book better be pretty good in order to justify the gas and time spent searching for it. 

Power Play is the latest book in Deirdre Martin's New York Blade's series, following the events in Chasing Stanley. (I'm not sure if Just a Taste really qualifies as part of this series, even if it does include Michael Dante from Fair Play.) The book follows the budding romance between Monica Geary and Eric Mitchell. 

Monica is a popular soap star whose star may be eclipsed by a younger, less talented actress. Monica isn't very sure about her profession, thinking she'll work in the soaps until something more "professional" comes around. But now that she may not be the number one star on the show, she's realizing her job's worth. But is it too late? In an effort to give her profile a boost, she agrees to a fake romance with Eric. 

Eric Mitchell is the newest player on the New York Blades, a professional hockey team in New York City. Eric's pretty unpopular because he was traded from Jersey (that enough should damn him) for a popular Blades' player, Guy Le Temp. Not only do the fans not like him, but the team doesn't like him, either. Oh, and his play sucks. He's not living up to the hype from the trade. He jumps on the chance to up his profile by dating Monica, that and because he thinks she's hot. 

I like the whole idea of the plot. How many hockey players in reality date models and pageant queens? (Yes, I'm speaking of you, Willa Ford. Eye roll.)  The plot is completely believable, and the fact that Martin used to work for soaps makes for an interesting look at the behind-the-scenes of a soap. The backbiting, the gossiping, the casting couches... But what the book needed was better execution. The dialogue was often wooden, and I had a really hard time with the character of Eric. I had a hard time to like him, and if a reader can't like the hero of a romance novel, then the romance is not believable. It's like watching your best friend date a jerk. 

While the soap opera part of the book was believable, the locker room bits with the Blades was a bit harder to read. Her writing of game plays read like copy from a newspaper article. 
Eric could hardly contain his excitement as he and Monica headed uptown toward their respective apartments in her hired car. To say he'd slaughtered out on the ice tonight was an understatement. He'd scored on the power play two minutes into the second period, and he'd orchestrated the team's other three power plays as if he had the puck on a string. They'd scored three out of four chances on the power play, in addition to their two even-strength goals. He'd excelled in his own end as well, skating the puck and making crip breakout passes.

That paragraph completely threw me off from the rest of the narrative. 

This book earned a solid C. 

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Panther Pillow

A few weeks ago my friend Alison (who is probably the most generous person I know, because I know I'm not) asked me to make a pillow for the homecoming tiaras. Since she asked, I made it, most of it from stuff I had laying around (or from her own mother!). The only thing I had to buy was some thin silver ribbon and the blue and gold grosgrain. 

I absolutely love this pillow. I know I'll be making more just like it! 

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Samantha's Retirement

One of the websites that I frequent is The Complete Guide to American Girl Doll Collecting.  When I went on this morning, the website showed this announcement. In it, it details Samantha's retirement, including the entire collection and the Nellie collection as well.  Samantha was one of the three original dolls, including Molly and Kirsten. 

Since Samantha was my first American Girl doll this is a blow to me. She has the most exquisite collection of them all, with beautiful clothes and accessories. Is this a move to ramp up interest in the collection and therefore increase sales in this economic downturn? With this announcement no doubt the prices on E-bay will continue to skyrocket as collectors attempt to finish their collections. 

Over the years I have been disappointed in the expansion of the collections with the Best Friend dolls. The American Girl of Today and the Just Like Me dolls are the focus of the company since Pleasant Company was sold to Mattel. 

ETA: The site I linked above by Kurt Danhauser is amazing, and nothing I've found rivals it. It's my source when I need to remember what an outfit looks like or what has been retired. 

Oh, and I'm still sad about this. Idiots. 

Friday, October 10, 2008

Are We Back in the 1980s?

The NHL is stuck in the 1980s, from the preponderance of mullets worn by current and former players to last night's entertainment on Versus.

It was Def Leppard. Now, I love Pyromania, and they've done some great stuff--in the 1980s--but last night's gaffe proved how out of touch the NHL is.

Yeah, dat's right. He put the Stanley Cup back upside-down and then says, "Oh, never mind."

But my big question is this: Why the hell did the NHL choose Def Leppard, a band that apparently knows nothing about hockey? Why not pick another band that knows hockey, or at least heard of it and the Stanley Cup, to do the entertainment?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Project Runway Season 5: Finale Part One

I realized last night as I was watching that there was no reunion show! What is up with that? The best part is when they all get together, choose who is going to be Fan Favorite, and yell at the one villain the entire time. 

How can we forget Vanessa's lying about the interview she did with that one website (long since forgotten by me, when she trashed the other designers? Or how mad she was that everyone said she can't sew? And then there's the wine stain and her departure after the commercial break. 

Or how about Keith being asked about cheating? 

And here we are deprived of having Kenley the tugboat captain's daughter not having the chance to defend herself! 

This episode was very boring and uninspired. I thought Korto should have gone home, because her dresses looked like they were those woven placemats. I didn't see wedding in either of those dresses. 

My favorite was Leanne's, and Kenley's was nice. I'm sad to see Jerrell did not make it. 

Eh. Maybe it'll be better on Lifetime. 

Sunday, October 05, 2008

My View on The View

Sometimes I have those random days where I don't have to go into work, whether it's a holiday, summer break, or one of those rare personal days that I take for myself. On occasion I use these days to be completely lazy and watch day time television. (I'm still coming to terms with Drew Carey replacing Bob Barker.) So, at 11 AM, I watch The View, with Barbara Walters and company.

Some days, it's entertaining. Other days it's excruciating with celeb gossip and political leanings. The best times are when the ladies end up on Best Week Ever or The Soup, usually for something stupid Sheri Shepard has said.

But dare I say it? The show "jumped the shark", so to speak, when Meredith Viera left the show for a more lucrative career at The Today Show. That was when she was replaced with Rosie O'Donnell, who I used to love until she showed her true colors. I'm not talking about her being a lesbian, because I could care less about her sexual orientation, but her rudeness. I can't put myself in her shoes, with all the hurdles she's had to jump to have her career and to keep her family life separate, but the shouting match with Elisabeth Hasslebeck nearly two years ago was the last straw. Such intolerance for another viewpoint!

And isn't that what the show is about? Different viewpoints? Elisabeth is the first truly conservative view on the show. The other ladies include Whoopi Goldberg, the "moderator"; Joy Behar, who likes to talk about menopause; and Sheri Shepard, who doesn't realize that Christianity was not around the time of the Ancient Greeks nor does she put much thought into the shape of the earth (it's round). And then there's Barbara Walters, who has written a scandalous, tell-all book, and is hardly an unbiased journalist.

The last straw was when I was watching The Soup and saw a clip on how the ladies finally want Elisabeth to explain her viewpoints. Righfully so, she felt she was being pop-quizzed, and sounded quite bitter about it. She's always being called out on her conservative issues.

Sure, I should have watched the entire clip, maybe see it in context, but I work, and I don't have DVR for a reason. (Besides, all I'd have on it were USC games--as in South Carolina--and hockey games. Why waste the space on a talk show?) And I don't agree with Elisabeth's politics, but she has as much right to her beliefs as Whoopi and Joy. Girl, leave the show. Barbara has already said that she loves having you on the show, so leave now while the leaving's good. The end is near, and no doubt Fox News has something for you to do.

But this seems to be the way that "news" shows are going--constantly yelling over each other, interrupting, and general lack of respect.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris

After watching the recent episodes of True Blood on HBO, I've read two Charlaine Harris books. Dead as  Doornail is the fifth book in the Southern Vampire series. 

Less than a month after finding her brother Jason a were-panther, Sookie and Jason are dealing with his new supernatural powers. Little time is made for adjustment, though, when someone starts shooting at the area's shape-shifting community. Sookie has to find out who has shot her boss, Sam, and the leader of the were-panther community, Calvin Norris, because her brother is once again prime suspect when it comes to the shootings. One piece of information she has over the Bon Temps police force, however, is that all of the victims are shape-shifters, who, unlike vampires, keep a low profile. 

As if this weren't enough for Sookie to deal with, she also has her romantic life to deal with. For someone who was solidly single for her entire life before meeting ex-boyfriend Bill, Sookie is quite sought after by the supernatural bachelors of Louisiana. All are intrigued by her telepathic nature, something that scared off "normal" human beaus. The count is pretty overwhelming for Sookie: Sam, her boss; Alcide, the werewolf; Calvin Norris; and multiple vampires. But as she's dealing with conflicting emotions and the discovery of being used by many of these men for her abilities, she meets another shape-shifter who I have no doubt will be in future books. 

Other plot-points in the book include her friend Tara's relationship with Mickey the vampire, as well as more intrigue in the Shreveport wolf-pack. When their pack leader is killed, the pack must find a new leader, and Alcide's intentions towards Sookie are less than gentlemanly. Add on top of this a house fire and more attempts on Sookie's life, and the book is packed solid for the entire three hundred pages. 

The supernatural world of Bon Temps is becoming larger and larger with each installment. At times it becomes confusing trying to keep all of it in my head, but Harris has been very good about keeping the new information to a minimum. One thing that I dislike about series is the constant regurgitation of information from one book to another. (I remember skipping entire chapters of Baby-sitters Club books when I was ten, and complaining to my mom that I thought it was stupid.) But with all the recurring characters in the book, the information Harris reviews sounds natural in Sookie's first person narration, and I'm quite thankful for it!  

Harris also keeps her world very real and humorous. My favorite part of the book is when Claude the fairy picks up Sookie from the hospital. A surly and (hopefully for Sookie) bisexual fairy that exudes charisma and hotness, Claude is the twin brother of Sookie's fairy godmother, Claudine. 
Claude had been a stripper on ladies' night at Hooligan's, c club in Monroe, but lately he'd not only moved into managing the club, he'd also branched into print and runway modeling. The opportunities for such work were few and far between in northern Louisiana, so Claude had decided to compete for Mr. Romance at a romance reader's convention. He'd even had his ears surgically alters so they weren't pointed anymore. The big payoff was the chance to appear on a romance cover. I didn't know too much about the contest, but I knew what I saw when I looked at Claude. I felt pretty confident Claude would win by acclamation.
Of course, Sookie becomes involved in even that. 

My favorite books in the series have involved the shape-shifters and have taken place in Bon Temps. Harris' characters in the Bon Temps area are real and interesting, but when Sookie was in Dallas and Jackson in previous books I was less than impressed. Unfortunately, with future books, I have a feeling that Sookie will be traveling because Eric will be hiring her for a job. 

And I'm disappointed over the whole Alcide thing, because I love him as a character, but he treated Sookie horribly in this book. Oh, well. I have three more books in the series to read. And if he's ever cast in True Blood, I have some ideas, folks at HBO. 

A. (Though not A for Alcide.) 

Sidenote: I am completely unhappy with the guy playing Andy Bellefleur in True Blood. He looks like a detective, but I was expecting someone more... well, someone more. 

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Last Night's Project Runway Episode

Oh, the last episode before the two finales drove me nuts! What was the point? 

Jerrell won, and the judges couldn't decide between Kenley, Leanne, and Korto. So, they're letting all three come back and decide among the FOUR of them who will make it. So, Jerrell isn't even automatically in. NO ONE at this point has been decided to go on to the final three. 

So, all four get to make a collection. Big freakin' deal. So do Joe and Suede, because neither of them had been eliminated on the air by the time Fashion Week came. So, there were SIX collections. 

Last night's episode was a waste. It has been an underwhelming challenge to judge in every season. Remember the Nancy O'Dell challenge in Season One where Wendy Pepper won? All of the outfits were bad, but the judges still managed to make a decision! 

This is a huge, disappointing cop-out. 

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Why the NHL Must Hate Women

The NHL really needs to employ at least one woman in its merchandise development office. For years I have lamented over the fact that there is no jersey for women in team colors. There's the stereotypical pink and white jersey, which you can wear with your pink and white team hat. WTH is up with this? If I'm a fan of a team, I want to wear the team colors. For some reason, the marketing geniuses think that women will only support their teams with "girly" colors. (Way to ruin a Black-out, my friends.) 

So, two Christmases ago, I got a Carolina Hurricanes jersey (# 26, Erik Cole) in a men's medium. (Two months later, they started selling smalls. Hate that.) It's huge, but I love it. There was nothing comparable in women's sizes, not for lack of trying. My only other option was the hated pink and white. 

Today I got my NHL catalog in the mail. Inside, there are women's jerseys in team colors! Yay! They look great, and are cheaper then the men's Rbk Edge jerseys. (Of course they're not authentic, but whatever. At least it would fit.) And on the page next to them, I found this: 

What? A "Fashion Jersey?" Isn't that an oxymoron? This particular model is the "Silver Ice Jersey", "frosted with silver metallic foil graphics." Gee, thanks! Make me five years old again when some metallic and sparkly shirt was all that made me happy. 

Then, if you look down the page, there's the Rbk HerShield Jerseys. I couldn't come across a picture, but there are versions that exist for the NFL. This "Fashion Jersey" is gray with baby blue or baby pink accents. And to top it all off, it is "Ultra fun with sugar glitter." Ooh, shiny! Must buy. 

Thanks NHL for continuing the stereotype.