Monday, August 15, 2016

What I made For Old Fort Erie: Food and a Shortgown!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man woman in possession of a good fortune dutch oven must be in want of a wife charge of food at any given reenactment.

Blah blah historically inaccurate, I know I know.  But let's get a few things straight:

I really like food.
I also really like playing with fire.
I enjoy the undying admiration and devotion of men who are well fed.

So, while it's not an amazing camp follower portrayal, putting a woman in charge of food does mean that sh*t gets done, even when all the men have to go blow up black powder for the pleasure of the paying guests.  Also, I'd rather play with fire than do fake laundry for paying guests who are really just there to see soldiers blowing up black powder, so there's that.

So, in summary, this was my duty station of sorts at Old Fort Erie.  Thanks to unusually dry weather, there was a fire ban at the site, so no fire pits or split logs allowed.  Braziers, however, were permitted, as long as we used charcoal or other "non sparking" fuel.  Lesson learned: "non sparking" doesn't mean "clean burning."  We had plenty of ash.  The hardwood lump charcoal that Rich procured at our friendly neighborhood Tractor Supply worked extremely well, however, and we made lots of toast and heated stew very successfully.

My faithful red and white checked dress seemed a trifle delicate for the rigors of camp life, though, and cooking in white (or even partial white) seemed awfully ambitious for someone as accident prone as I am.  So, when it came to pass that I was volun-told to take care of food for the weekend, it became clear that I needed to invest in some new wardrobe staples.

Inspired by Katherine's Shortgown Tutorial, I liberated a length of cotton print from my stash and set about following her instructions basically to the letter.

Mine doesn't have the cute little buttons in back because I got lazy.

A couple things about the sleeves:  For one, I wish I could say that the bias cut was a purely design decision, but it was in reality the only way my sleeve pattern would fit on my fabric without piecing.  And, I'm lazy, so the least amount of sewing I could get away with was ideal!  For another, I used another of Katherine's tutorials for setting the sleeves.  Namely, the sleeve cap and the armscye did not match up AT ALL.  The sleeve was originally drafted to be a puffed sleeve, but I wanted a tighter fit through the arm.  So I seamed the sleeve smaller and just fit it into the armscye however it needed to go, without matching the cut edges to the armscye at all.  There are untrimmed bits of extra fabric inside.  I didn't clip any of my seam allowances.  Fight me.

But no, really--I was super happy with how the shortgown turned out and I feel like all the making do with what I had on hand suited the project very well!  Also I'm calling the half-assed sleeve patterning a success because I had great range of motion in this, which was excellent for all the camp work I did.  Next I just need to put a couple more tucks in that petticoat.  It wasn't terrible, but it was a hair too long for all the bending required to cook on the ground.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Year 2

So, today is my second wedding anniversary (kind of.)  Our whole marriage process was a bit crazier than the norm thanks to immigration laws, so we actually have a few special dates that symbolize our marriage.  June 13 was the church ceremony with friends and family, though, so today is the first of our anniversary dates.  In 2014, it was a Friday the 13th, but we got a kick out of it because we got engaged on April 1--April Fool's Day!  So why not continue with our accidental little theme of picking offbeat days for our milestones?

Holme Pierrepont Hall

Anyway, I think I posted photo? when we actually got married, because we were also busy moving Rich overseas, filing for immigration status, and adjusting to being married.  Normally I would feel a bit silly sharing our wedding photos two years later...but, and I say this with a humble, grateful heart, our wedding day was gorgeous.  I planned it from 4,000 miles away and the first time I ever saw the venue was when I walked in an hour before saying my vows, in my wedding dress...and my jaw just hit the floor.  I mean, the pictures on the internet were pretty, which is how I picked it, but I was not at all prepared for how amazing it was.  It was like walking into a fairy tale!  There was so much stress leading up to it, and for the whole day to go off without a hitch and to be so gorgeous was just such a gift.

 I might have a heart attack if I had to do it again, but looking back on the photos reminds me of how wonderful it was.  My friends and family traveled thousands of miles to be there with us, and Rich's friends and family surrounded us so lovingly.  I am truly grateful for everyone who made that day so special, and for how amazing it was...and for how far we've come in two years.  Here's to the ones we still have to look forward to!

Our wedding party:
Elizabeth, Julie, Holly, Katie & Rich, Andy, Dan
Such wonderful people!
That was the most amazing, velvety grass I have ever walked upon!

Grandpa made it 4k miles to be there!
And then we went and had Indian food!
The food was beautiful and amazing, too!

The end!  Or rather, that was just the beginning.  I love you, Rich, and I hope we have many more adventures in our years to come.  And also naps.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Memorial Weekend 2016: Meigs and Greenfield

Alternate title:  My Weekend, As Told By My Dog.

We had a great time!  1812 at Fort Meigs on Saturday and Sunday, then Monday at Greenfield Village for their Civil War Remembrance event.  We saw lots of old friends and made new ones, and got a little sunburned.  We ate well and stayed hydrated, and even got to bring our pup along for the first two days.  Here are some photos!

Thanks to everyone who said hi, stopped to chat, and welcomed us at both of these great events!  I hope we don't have to wait a whole year to see you all again! :)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Tulip Time 2016!

I would love for this to be a compelling, eloquent post about Michigan history in the 18th century, or the history of Holland, MI and the Tulip Time festival.

Unfortunately, I'm drawing a blank.  I think I need more coffee.  But, fortunately a picture is worth a thousand words or something, so I'm just going to let the photos we took yesterday do the talking for me!

Such a great day, with beautiful weather and great friends.  Totally worth the tired feet and mild sunburn!  See the rest of the photos on Flickr here!

Monday, May 2, 2016


For a long time, ever since an incident involving scones and wine, Rich and I have been tossing around the idea to make a video series about making stuff.  Or rather, our mishaps making stuff.  In other words, This is Why We Can't Make Nice Things.

I've posted a few teasers for this on my Instagram (go follow me!  @katie.lovely) and with lots of help from my wonderful husband it's finally here!  This hopefully first of many videos deals with how I made a period looking bandbox using a ready-made papier-mâché box from a local craft store.
Finished and ready to fill with stuff!

Rich has by far more experience with sound and video creation and editing, so I have a lot of confidence that our productions will only get better now that we're over the biggest hurdle that is *just getting started on something new and different!*

Behind the scenes: drying tea-dyed "newspaper."

As promised, my links and sources:

Wallpaper: Wallpaper Aficionado
Glue: Grandmother Stover's "A Stikflat Glue"
The Young Sewphisticate: A 19th Century Sewing Box

I would love to hear your feedback, here of on my blog' Facebook page! Thanks for watching!!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Work in Progress

This is not the update I hoped to have for this week.  It's also not the day I hoped to update for the week...I try to aim for Mondays.  It's now Friday.  $#!& happens, I suppose.

Anyway, last weekend Rich and I went to Ikea.  For us, it's a three hour trip each way, so it pretty much takes a whole day.  We managed not to get too lost in the showroom and only spent 50% more than we planned on, so yay?

We got a LOT of stuff, though, including but not limited to all new storage for our bedroom, and several days' worth of assembly to complete.

Fortunately for me, Rich is very good at deciphering Ikea instruction pamphlets.  Fortunately for our marriage, I recognize my limitations in this matter and am content just to follow his lead.  So, on Sunday, we got two nightstands, a dresser, and these assembled:

The cutting table (about which I am SO freaking excited!) actually served us very well in the garage for a while as an assembly surface for our bedroom furniture.

I can already tell that I am going to want more of the cube shelving units, probably a swivel desk chair, and eventually I'd like a computer desk that goes with the sort of birch/white color scheme I've got going on, too.  But until then, this works for me.

My computer was at the doctor for a bit over the past couple weeks, too, which is partly why my new and exciting content has not yet made an appearance on the blog.  It's so good to have it back, and to be making the space my own!  As you can see, I'm experimenting with some decorating ideas (hence the frog tape temporarily holding up the paper fans).  I also purchased some art to go somewhere in the room.  I'm not usually one to just go buy random art, but this just speaks to me on a deep, visceral level...

You got that right!

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Swearing Seamstress' Sewing Space, Part 1

When Rich and I moved into our very first house together, we made a deal.  He wanted the basement workshop for his hobbies.  In kind, I got to claim my first pick of the bedrooms as my sewing room.

I've mentioned before that while the house is really cute outside, it wasn't anything special in terms of decorating on the inside.  It was all perfectly livable and in good repair, but definitely not done in colors or trims that I would have chosen.  Slowly, I've been working on that!

From the original listing.

We did not buy this house for the decor

I chose one of the two upstairs bedrooms for my space, which was very beige to start with as you can see from the photos above.  Not terrible, but certainly not exciting.  And based on the evidence I've uncovered while renovating, it looks like at one point this room was BLUE.  Like,  BLUUUUE.  TARDIS blue?  Royal blue?  Some sort of really bold blue.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, since it's been beige-d over) not a very attractive blue, but I imagine a very young boy might have found it a nice color to grow into?

No, actually, it's just ugly.  But thankfully all that remains of the BLUE paint is some shadowing through the beige in one spot, and some spots behind electric switch covers that didn't get painted.  Which begs the question...who doesn't remove plate covers when painting?

The painting in this house is a bit DIY meets WTF.  I'm sure my efforts aren't much better, but...WTF.

Anyway, the first thing I wanted to do something about was the popcorn ceiling.  Does anyone actually like popcorn ceilings?  I mean...I get why they were popular.  Getting drywall 100% flawless is difficult, and doubly so when you're working overhead.  But c'mon...there's got to be a better solution that popcorn ceilings.  Sadly, in 1979 when the house was built, popcorn was common.  And, guess what?!  So was asbestos.

Asbestos was outlawed in building materials in 1978 in the US.  However, the ban didn't force everyone to immediately dispose of all asbestos-containing supplies they already had, so it's possible to still find asbestos building materials in houses built after 1978.  For this reason, it's very important to make very very certain that anything you're going to rip out of your 1980s house does not contain asbestos.

That all sounds really intimidating, right?  Well, it's not.  You can get asbestos testing kits on Amazon, of all things.  For like $7 plus the $40 testing fee, you can put your mind totally at rest about whether or not you're giving yourself cancer.  Worth it!

This is not a DIY home improvement blog, so the only thing I will say about the process of removing popcorn ceiling is that it. is. MESSY.  I would totally do it again.  But it is messy as all hell and the dust WILL get on everything, and your husband WILL think you are crazy.  Or maybe that's just mine.

Mask definitely needed.

No...I am your father...

It was so damn messy I only took these two photos.  This isn't even the half of it--this was MILD mess compared to where we were at by the end.  Also, I'm not going to talk about all the things I did wrong in patching the drywall underneath, or how much sanding drywall sucks.  In the end, I decided that perfection was the enemy of progress and stopped obsessing about my newly naked ceiling's flaws.

Subsequent photos from this phase of doing the ceiling all basically look like this, in varying shades of white.  Two coats of sealer/primer, two coats of Dover White in flat finish.

Trim primed!  I used a chemical sander/deglosser, followed by a bonding primer that was very much like painting with Greek yogurt.  Except for the part where it doesn't wash off when you get it on your skin.  Or in your hair.  At that point, all my coworkers suddenly knew I was in the midst of a painting project.

The trim got two coats of Dover White in semi-gloss and will probably need a third coat.  Mehhhh.  The walls are the same soft yellow I used in the kitchen and dining room, Compatible Cream.  They're actually two colors on the same Sherwin Williams swatch card, and I love how they look together!  Dover White is very warm and creamy but still reads as white, rather than ivory, and Compatible Cream is just a really nice soft yellow without being baby-y or lemony.

Lit from inside

Lit from inside

Natural light

Natural light

And done!  The cats are so glad to have all the plastic and drop cloths up off the floor, although the kitten did enjoy tunneling underneath the drops and trying to swat our feet.  They moved right in as soon as all the ruckus died down; I'm sure I'll end up putting a cat tree or shelves or something in there for them!

Lucie exploring the "new" digs.
Wait...what is that behind you, Lucie?
Of course the first thing that happened after re-opening the room to the public is that our long-haired kitty, Lucie, horked a hairball up on the carpet.  I suppose we say with sewing, it's not a real project until you've bled on it...this is the same idea, right?  *sigh...*