Follow by Email

About Me

My photo
Software techie and professional seamstress.

Search This Blog

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Things to look forward to!

2017 has not been off to a good start. I won't go into deals, but my horoscope said I was to have the most amazing love life for 13 months starting in September of last year. It said nothing about heartbreak in January. Thank goodness those things are for entertainment purposes only.

The good thing is I have a trip to look forward to, and there couldn't be a better time for me to have a change of scenery for a few weeks. This could get very interesting since it will be my first time traveling as a single woman.

I just booked a ticket to see Romeo & Juliet at the Globe in London with some good friends from the states.

More to come, soon.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Let the Planning Begin

I know more than a couple of my friends were disappointed that I didn't do a Europe trip last year, but there was just too much going on (and turned out to be far more than I expected when I made the decision not to travel).
Originally it was because Wayne and I were selling the property we owned in the Hill Country, and the ASDP conference was to be in Vancouver, BC. It turned out that 2016 would also be the year we ended a 19 year marriage and I would move to my own place for the first time in 22 years.

I had planned all along to visit Europe this year, even before all the major changes.
This may be my last big trip for awhile, though. I'm getting up there in years and should really save something for retirement...

So here are my plans for this trip:

Depart AUS (Austin, TX) April 6th
Arrive LHR (London, UK) April 7th (boy do I love direct flights!)

Night train to Edinburgh April 7th (This way I cover a night's stay and transport in one go)
I'll stay here for 6 nights:  Period Georgian Flat In Central Edinburgh

From Edinburgh, I'll fly to Paris. I'll work from the Homelidays office for the week.
I'll be staying on one of the two islands in the middle of the Seine in this apartment:
Crazy View on Ile de la Cite

Next, I'll take the EuroStar (the one that goes through the Chunnel) back to London.
I'll work a couple of days and spend a couple of days looking at historical costumes with the lovely Rachel Kurland and hang out with her and her charming husband, David McWilliams.
I'll stay in this apartment in London:
Great Location - Marylebone Apartment

I'll head back to Austin on the 28th just in time to attend Phantom of the Opera on the 29th.

For people who don't know me, or know about my fondness for staying in vacation rentals:

I've been renting apartments since 2003 when my ex and I stayed in the center of Florence, and in 2004 in the Marais in Paris. That sold me on vacation rentals. Little did I know that I would end up in Austin, working at the best Vacation Rental company in the world, HomeAway.

Why do I like them better than hotels?
The list is pretty long, but here's a few reasons:

  1. Breakfast: It is so expensive to eat breakfast out when traveling, and I don't want to have to get dressed before I have my first cup of coffee. I tend to eat a pretty light breakfast, and am pretty particular about what I eat. Yogurt(even organic),  fruit and granola bar shouldn't cost $15, but in a restaurant, it usually does. Same goes for a snack and glass of wine. We're not taking a few euros/pounds--the difference can buy a whole 'nother bottle of wine. ;)
  2. Live like a local: I like to get a sense of what it's like to live in the places I visit, and that's hard to do in a hotel. I also find it is easier to maintain my own routine if I'm in a place more like a home. 
  3. Laundry. $50 bucks!!! that's what most airlines now charge for a second bag (heck, I'm paying $25 to check my one bag from Scotland to Paris). A washing machine in each apartment means I can bring fewer clothes and carry a smaller bag. This is really important when you like to travel by train (I LOVE train travel). What do I do with what I buy on the trip? I usually ship back dirty clothes and carry my treasures back with me on the plane. It costs about the same as an additional bag, but you don't have to schlep it to the airport. It arrives to your home after you get back. Like Christmas, except your own dirty clothes. Exciting, right!?
More soon as I work out details about what I'll do while I'm there...

Happy 2017,

Sunday, June 5, 2016

I have so much to tell you...

It's been far too long since my last post, but as everyone knows, there are things you don't want to share, and things that you only want to share when the time is right.

First, I want to apologize for my friends who have been traveling vicariously through this blog--I did not go to Europe this year and robbed you all of my adventures. Last Spring, we moved to a rental house in South Austin and put the Hill Country property up for sale. Since it still wasn't sold by the time I would start planning a trip, I decided not to go. Another factor is that this year's ASDP conference is in Vancouver, BC, and though the exchange rate is great for the US dollar, it will still be a bit more expensive than past conferences (if only the airfare).

I did manage a trip to Boston a couple of weeks ago, but tried something new and only took my phone with me. This makes for easier traveling, but tricky for blogging. (I was born too late to completely master texting on a tiny device.)
appetizers at Giacomo's in Boston's North End

Pasta with seafood at Giacomo's
Last fall I started working with a charity here in Austin: Multi-cultural Refugee Coalition. ASDP had posted an article about a program, Open Arms, which produces small runs of sewn items such as wall hangings, tote bags and pillows. The ladies working there are from the refugee community. I've been helping develop a curriculum for advance sewing skills and helping with a monthly drop in program for basic sewing skills.
Limited as it is, my ability to speak some French has proved helpful (though Arabic and Swahili would be even more helpful).

At some point in the middle of all this, my husband and I decided to split up. We are still friends and care about each other, but realized that we could both be much happier if we went our own way. For the first time in 22 years, I'll be moving to my own apartment (well, mine and Gabby's), to a part of Austin I'm not familiar with, but looking forward to exploring. I've been seduced by fancy amenities, tree covered walking trails, dog parks and a very, very short commute. My new neighborhood.
I've also been dating, and both in many ways make me feel like I'm in my 20's again (some bad, but mostly good). If you'd like to hear some of my tales of online dating in mid-life, invite me for a cup of coffee or a drink and I'll be happy to regale you.

I'll be moving to the new place in August. One downside is that my sewing room will be much smaller, but on the flip side I'll probably have more time to spend in it. I plan to teach private lessons and gear up my custom and alterations work as well.
This afternoon I am off to San Antonio for a week for a Classic Tailoring workshop with Claire Shaeffer.

I hope to be better about posting here (yeah, I know, I've said that before).

Happy sewing,

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Whole New Place

Earlier this year, we decided to trade in the country life and move back to 'town'. For us, that meant Austin, TX. We rented a house, moved our stuff, and Wayne has been working hard to recover the damage done to the property and road by the massive rains and flooding so we can get the place on the market.

The move meant giving up our respective out-buildings and moving into the house proper. Since I am a huge hog of space, I got the master suite, conveniently located on the first floor which is all tile. This includes a large bathroom and walk-in closet, so my main work space should be far less cluttered (we will see how true this turns out to be. I am able to use a few pieces from the old studio, but for the most part I bought all new items from Ikea. My main work tables were built-in, so new stand-alone ones were needed for the machines, and I down-sized my cutting table a bit (about an inch and a half in width to 46" and down to about 6.5' in length from 8'.)

I made the table in two halves so they can be easily separated and moved when needed. (I foresee sewing/crafting get-togethers where these will need to be moved to the living room)
Each base is a 2 x 4 cube Kallax unit set horizontally with 3 pairs of casters.
Each top is a 78 3/4x23 5/8 " Linnmon table top. I attached them to the base using L-brackets at the front and back of the cabinets. The two tables are connected with 2 chest latches from Home Depot. (these will probably not hold up for long, but they are serving the purpose for now.)
I attached Spontan magnet boards to one end of the two bases for my button and bead storage (you can see these on the left end of cutting table in the photo)

This room is also my office space, so I got a smaller Linnmon table top and basic Adils legs for my desk.

The work tables for my machines are heavier duty, and at counter height. I either stand or sit on a drafting stool when I sew, so table height won't work for me. I opted for two 61 x 29 1/2" Gerton table tops and two adjustable Gerton legs each. The other end of each table top is set on a  2x3 cube Closetmaid Cubeicals unit. Two 3 x 3 sets are stacked to the left for more storage.

Finally, a free-standing Algot system for the various tools I use for cutting, marking, sewing, etc.
This unit is behind my sewing tables, so I didn't want anything below the tables. My set has 2 sections 21" apart and one 31" apart. The top shelves are 15" deep to hold my serger thread on racks, on the 2 smaller sections I have 2 sets of 7" deep shelves for presser feet cases and tins with hand-sewing supplies.
The wider section holds a peg board for smaller tools, rotary cutters, scissors, rulers and curves.
The island I bought at BigLots a few years ago still works great for my steam press. The cabinet holds pressing tools and stabilizer for embroidery.

As you can see, I've already got a few things in the works. After a couple of months of no studio, I am so happy to have my work space back, my office in the same room, and the whole thing in the house where the dogs can come and go as they like.

Happy Sewing!

Monday, May 4, 2015

One Last Day

I am ready to go home. I've had a great time and saw quite a few friends, but I miss Wayne and the girls.
My first stop this morning was to France Post to ship back my clothes and a few things that I don't need as soon as I get back.
After getting that done, I headed to the office and wandered around the Canal St. Martin. For a Muslim no-go zone (according to Fox News), it was pretty dang tranquil. The only noise I heard was from the boats going up and down the canal, and some city workers use leaf blowers to clean the playgrounds. No riots, no sharia law, no yelling (not even the kids in the playground).

I met Cedric and Momo at the office, and we headed to lunch, talked office politics and life. Back at the office I printed my boarding passes and made my way to the left bank. I visited St. Severin, St. Germain des Pre and Musee Eugene Delacroix.
I made a stop at Lauduree and the bakery for my dinner and tomorrow's breakfast, then back to the apartment. Once last walk up to Place du Tertre to buy a painting I saw on Saturday, then back again. The taxi will be here at 5:30 (yes, AM), so I am in for the night.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Très Magnifique!

I made it to the Jeanne Lanvin exhibit yesterday after taking Mom to the airport and tidying up the apartment. (And helping 2 young Chinese women to get to Paris from the airport.)
It wasn't easy to get to Palais Galliera for the exhibit: 4 trains and a bit of a hike, but absolutely worth it. No photos were allowed, and the visitors were very respectful of each other. I felt as though I was in a place of worship (and in some ways, I was). Many garments were displayed in glass cases that were accessible from all sides. Others had mirrors to allow viewing of the front/back. A handful were in horizontal cases with angled mirrors above. Accompanying the beautiful dresses, coats, capes, hats and purses were photographs from the span of Jeanne Lanvin's career, sample books of croquis, embroidery and beading, fabrics, various promotional material and a pair of dolls from the original logo of a woman and small girl.
The range of materials, embellishments and silhouettes was broad, and there were examples from every phase of her career. The exhibition book is even more comprehensive, though only available in French. (The main descriptions for each section were in French and English.)

Sweet little garden on Ile St. Louis
After the exhibit, I headed to Ile St. Louis, the other, smaller island in the center of the Seine, winding through the streets.

Heading back to Montmartre, I picked up caramels for my co-workers and needle and thread to fix some velcro on the sofa bed in the apartment, and to attached the strap I knitted for the terrace umbrella. (owner approved, of course). I wandered around trying to decide on something to eat, and ended up at the same Italian restaurant Mom & I ate at on Thursday night. This time I had a tomato mozzarella salad and fried calamari. The waiter remembered me and brought me a Kir, then comped me a glass of white wine as well.

After the other customers left, we chatted and jokes, mostly about the tourists would ask if he spoke English and then said "Sacre Coeur?". Ronny said if I was staying back Tuesday, we should go to a movie, but agreed to a drink with me and Wayne on our next visit.

Rainy, but still magnificent
I headed back out to pick up a couple of things at BHV--A huge sale meant the store was buzzing, and everyone was out since it was Saturday night. I wish I had brought my camera--so many dogs out on the town with their people: in the stores, on the metro, hanging out at outdoor cafes, and all seemed completely at ease.

This morning I took my time getting up, waiting to confirm plans with my friend, Thomas, who we have known since 2001 when he worked with me at Borland. He lives with his mother in the 12th now.

I met him near his apartment and he drove us to Chantilly where we have an excellent lunch before visiting the Chateau de Chantilly.
Thomas thought the castle was disappointing, but when you live in Europe, the bar is probably pretty high. I thought it was very interesting. We also visited the 'stables' which were about 10 times the size of our house and much nicer.

After Thomas dropped me off on my side of Paris, I stopped at the bakery to pick up something for dinner, then settled in for the night. One more day in Paris, then I head home!

There was really a moat!

The ceiling of the room modeled after one in the Uffizi

The library

Door to the chapel

Stair rail

The ceiling in the stables

The stalls in the stable.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Closer to home

The neighborhood cat
Today was Mom's last full day in Paris, and May Day, so most museums, monuments and shops were closed. Fortunately for us, Musee Montmartre was open.
The vineyards of Montmartre
We also visited the small cemetery of Saint Vincent.
Tomorrow, Mom heads back to California and I'm on my own for a few days again.