Tuesday, 13 March 2012

I Love the Weekend (no.2)

Oh, weekend, where are you so brief? This was the weekend of lamb.

On Saturday chap and I spent the morning pootling about the shops in Balham. I made friends with the lovely man in a local fabric shop, he gave me 4 metres of cotton (bought to make a few, hopefully wearable muslins) for the price of 3, new best friend. He has a huge selection of block colour cotton for £2 a metre, this is where I will shop for all muslin fabric from now on!

In the afternoon, we headed off towards the country side to have dinner with chap's family. Having forgotten to have lunch, we had pasties on the train, I love a good pasty.


Dinner was, as it always is with chap's family, lovely. We had slow cooked lamb shanks: delicious. There was also a lot of wine, which resulted in very silly board game playing and the wearing of animal masks!

Apparently wine turns chap into a tiger, who knew?

On Sunday I had a long-overdue catch up with and an old friend, she only lives down the road but somehow we never see each other! She also made lamb, the roast kind, with potato daupinoise (my sinful favourite), it was so so yummy.

It was so lovely to see her and we had a great time catching up, giggling, reminiscing, and stuffing our faces (we had strawberries and ice-cream for pudding).

On Monday morning (my weekend doesn't finish until I go to work on Monday afternoon), chap left for the Wales leg of his tour, which made me sad so to cheer myself up I made some serious progress on my Lonsdale dress. I had been putting it off because the waistband was giving me attitude, but I showed that waistband who's boss and we worked it out (well who wouldn't do as they were told if I stuck a tonne of pins in them!)

Take that, waistband.

Then I moved on to the pockets, which have been my favourite bit of the whole project so far, there's something super satisfying about producing pockets. Not to mention I sewed beautiful, neat (as in not my usual wonky disaster) french seams, on a curve, without any chalked on guidelines; a major achievement for me.

Hurray for french seams. 
So now my skirt front pieces have pockets, and I'm enjoying making this dress again.

Look! Pockets!
I hope your weekend was delightful, full of yummy foods and achievements great or small.

Alice x

Friday, 9 March 2012

24 before 25...

I've been meaning to do this for a while now, and now I've done it I would like to share my list of goals for the coming year with you.

1. Get an acting job: I graduated from drama school last summer and I haven't worked as an actor yet, this needs to change.

2.Learn to crochet: I love crochet blankets and throws, I really want to make some for our house.

3. Decorate the lounge: this is the room I have the most ideas for so it seems like the best one to start with.

4. Try all the 'The Beauty Department' Hair Tutorials: I love doing new things with my hair and this website has some great tutorials for some great hair-dos.

5. Complete my Book Stash Bust challenge: I hope I will have time to read more than these 6 books but at the very least these must be read.

6. Join a dance class: I loved the little dancing we did at drama school, it's a great way to keep fit and it's so much fun.

7. Fill up my recipe book: for Valentine's day, my chap bought me a lovely recipe book binder just itching to be filled with yummy recipes I have tried and tested. I've gotten a bit lazy with my culinary exploits lately, I hope this will change that.

8. Go on 6 'non-standard' dates: this means not the cinema, the theatre or a restaurant. 6 might seem like too few but as Chap's away on tour for 50% of this year I think it's a realistic number.

9. Take a photography class: I take pretty rubbish photos and I have no idea what all the buttons on my camera do, I would like to change this.

10. Try writing a play: it might turn out to be terrible but i'd like to give it a go.

11. Go to the Edinburgh Festival: I have technically been, once, but I was 15, with my parents and only saw one (amazing) dance show. I want to do it properly.

12. Run 5km: I am not a runner. I should be, I live opposite a beautiful and rather large common, it's the perfect place to go for a run and it's free! Once the weather warms up I'll be dusting off my trainers and getting out there. I think 5km is a realistic goal given that I am not at all in shape at the moment!!

13. Go to the Lido: the common also has a giant outdoor swimming pool (apparently it's one of the biggest in Europe) and in the 9 months we've lived 30 seconds away from it we've never been. Come summer time this will change, there will be a picnic involved.

14. Sew at least 8 garments: I'd like to make more but 8 seems achievable.

15. Explore more of London: because my job doesn't require me to travel more than a 15 minute walk from my home, I don't get out and around London much and there is so much to see and do. I'd like to explore more.

16. Do some volunteering: I have a fair amount of free time at the moment and I'd like to use some of it to help out some worthy causes.

17. Go to the National Portrait Gallery: I love portraits, I think because I'm actor I like to create characters to go with the faces, but I have never been to the NPG!

18. Go wine tasting: I love wine (I am currently enjoying a lovely glass of Merlot) and I'd like to know more about it and stop automatically ordering Merlot purely because I know I'll like it. (I will, however, always love Merlot)

19. Make a cheesecake: I don't make desserts much but as a great fan of the cheesecake I should really know how to make one.

20. Learn Grade 2 on the piano: I'm not planning to take the exam (that requires a teacher and money) but I have some old grade books and I'd like to be able to play the level 2 pieces well. Perhaps by 28 I'll be a grade 8 pianist!! HA!

21. Make Marmalade: there is nothing better than marmalade on toast and a good cuppa. I bet it's even better when you've made the marmalade yourself.

22. Visit 5 new places: this can include places I went as a child, as it's such a different experience when you make all the decisions! I'll be visiting Chap on his tour a few times over the coming months so that will help me to achieve this one.

23. Take a photo a day for a month: i don't think I'm ready for a 365 challenge but perhaps a mini one later in the year after I've accomplished number 9.

24. Read all of Shakespeare's plays: ok so this one has rather a lot of room for interpretation, I have already read, studied or seen 27 of them, my goal this year is to get to know the ones that have so far evaded me, either by reading them or seeing them at the theatre. Hey, Alice, don't go and see King Lear for the 4th time, try Pericles of Timon of Athens...

Phew, all typed up like that it seems like a lot, but it's definitely doable and I think it'll be a lot of fun.

Alice x

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Goldhawk Road Goodness

After a disappointing trip to Dorothy Perkins to exchange a dress with a broken zip for one that , you know, I could actually wear only to discover they'd completely sold out in my size, I decided to take a trip to Goldhawk road to cheer myself up. I've read about this magical fabric land on many a blog and it was finally time to go and explore. I had planned to only but fabric to complete items on my list of sewing plans but that so didn't happen. My oh my there were some beautiful fabrics. Here's my newly acquired little stash.

I did manage to acquire one fabric from my list. It's for my 'Laurie outfit blouse'. I simply asked the man in the shop (I forget which one) "Do you have anything floaty, navy blue with white polka dots?" and he said "yes!". Hooray. I have no idea what kind of fabric it is but it fits the bill.

I couldn't find any grey denim for my crescent skirt anywhere, everyone said they'd had some but it had all been sold! Bummer. 

In one of the shops I found a whole row of satin for £1.99 a meter in just about every colour, I immediately thought of Sewaholic's Pendrell Blouse, and then fantasised about a rainbow of pendrell's in my wardrobe, but I controlled myself and only bought one colour (this time). I went with navy blue, for no other reason than I like navy blue and want more of it in my wardrobe.

Next up a floral cotton. I'm not sure what I'll make with this one but it's very pretty and makes me think of summer, perhaps a sundress for picnicing.

Finally, my favourite find of the day: this beautiful horse print fabric.

Again, I have no idea what kind of fabric it is but it's very see-through and seems pretty delicate. It will definitely need under-lining. As soon as I saw it I was reminded of this gorgeous dress tutorial from A Beautiful Mess. I really want to hand stamp a dress of my own some day, but for now I have plenty of pony fabric to play with. I'm planning to turn this into a Meghan Neilsen Darling Ranges dress, I've seen loads of these popping up all over the blogosphere and I can't wait to have one of my own. Although I think I will be waiting a little while as I need to find the perfect buttons (would horseshoe buttons be equine overkill?) and build up the courage to conquer this 'intermediate' pattern.

I am so excited to start these projects.

Alice x

Monday, 5 March 2012

I Love the Weekend

Well, who doesn't? Guilt free lazing around, plenty of time to be crafty and lots of fun with friends.
My weekend consisted of:

Cutting and sticking.

I'm trying to get some collages/moodboards together for when we actually get round to decorating our flat and I spent a lovely few hours on Saturday cutting and sticking and playing with paint. I think this one for our lounge is coming together nicely. We get lots of light coming through our windows (when the sun is shining) so I want the room to be a lovely fresh blue and white with lots of warm neutrals to stop it looking like a bathroom! I'm so excited to get started and I have lots of ideas for crafty DIY's to make our home extra special!

Sorting Sunday.

On Sunday I had a little sort our of the sewing bits and bobs my mum brought over for my birthday last month, including this big box of thread that was my grandma's (the woman kept EVERYTHING). There is tonnes of the stuff in every colour, I must find a way to organise it in pretty colour order. It's so lovely to have supplies that my Grandma used to make her own clothes, I discovered sewing after she passed away but it feels like she's still spurring me on with these little bits and bobs. I also received lots of buttons, some maroon bias tape and a box labelled 'finest pins'. I know that this means that the pins are super thin, but I like to think that they were really the pins reserved for the finest projects, the pins one gets out when the queen comes to sew. I can't express how happy I am to be sewing with my Grandma's tools.

Pink drinks by candle light.

On Sunday night I met up with two of my favourite girls for some drinks and gossip. We went to a lovely little place in Balham called The Balham Bowls Club which is full of all sorts of quirky decor and lovely little trinkets. They also have a ukele club every other Sunday! I love Fruli beer, it's nice to have a pink pint to make me feel a little less blokey while indulging my love of beer and, it's delicious. Pink beer is the perfect accompaniment to girly chats. Lovely evening had by all.

Sunny Monday. 

Ok, so Monday isn't technically the weekend but it was so lovely and sunny this morning and I didn't start work until 3.30pm so I extended that weekend feeling. I only popped out to run a couple of errands but the sun was so pretty and the blue sky was divine, I had to take a picture.

I also saw this super cool car just trundling down the main road outside my house. I wonder what all that stuff strapped to the top is? So glad i had my camera to capture this little oddity.

I did make some progress with my Lonsdale dress this weekend, but then I got to the waistband and it's testing my last nerve. Lonsdale and I are not on speaking terms. Some time apart should fix it and we'll be friends again before I know it.

I hope your weekend was full of joyous things, here's to the next one.

Alice x

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Book Stash Busting!

Happy World Book Day!! I loved world book day when I was a kid, my favourite costume was the Snow Queen from The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe (what a book) my Dad made me an excellent crown with lots of cotton wool (snow) and glitter (evil magic!) my dad is an excellent costume maker (he can also crochet, which I hope he'll teach me some day).
At the beginning of this year I noticed that our bookshelves were overflowing somewhat, and shockingly there was a large number of books on those shelves that I haven't read, much like a stash of unused fabric.  I don't really have much of a fabric stash (yet) so I've decided to bust my book stash instead. Here is my To Read List 2012.

1. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

I've already started on this one but at over 1400 pages I think it's going to be a challenge (I'm only 250 pages in). I really like it though. It's full of wonderful characters and although nothing hugely dramatic has happened yet, I'm still desperate to find out what happens next to each and every one of them. This book is lusciously descriptive and everything sings with colour and sound a smell and taste, I can't wait to read on...

2. Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

This one is not something I ever saw myself wanting to read and I have to admit is a little bit of a busting cheat as it's not technically my book, it belongs to my lovely Chap. We both really got into the HBO series based on this series of books because one of Chap's classmates from drama school is in it so we thought we'd check it out and we were hooked within the first 10 minutes!! We are both nerdishly excited for series 2 in April. I am usually a read before watching kinda girl and will often miss a film in the cinema because I am stubbornly finishing the book, but I wasn't so bothered about the book this time round. However Chap and one of my besty's have been going on and on (and on) about how good the book is that I've been coerced in to adding it to my list. At 780 pages this is another mountain of book but I'm looking forward to it a lot.

3. If This Is A Man and The Truce by Primo Levi

I have a particular interest in books, poetry and plays about the First or Second World Wars. I don't really know why it enthralls me so much but it does. I'm not interested in the political and strategical history of these times but in the human stories. I adore the poems of Wilfred Owen, Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks is one of my all time favourite novels and Blackadder Goes Forth is definitely the best of all the Blackadder series. I picked up this book in my local charity book shop, which is full of weird and wonderful books (and staff!) and have been itching to read it ever since. I know it will be hard going and harrowing but I also know it will be worth it.

4. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

I stole borrowed this book from my parents years ago and I keep hearing people say how wonderful it is but have never gotten round to reading it. My Dad has clearly forgotten that I pinched it from him, as he bought me a stunning illustrated copy of the book for Christmas.

How could I possibly not read such a beautiful thing?

5. The Idiot by Dostoyevesky

I started reading this maybe a year ago during a break from uni and I was really enjoying it but then I went back to uni and the poor thing got forgotten. I'm hoping to get to this by the time summer hits us so I can go and lounge around on the common just opposite our flat (maybe in my finished Lonsdale dress) and read in the sunshine, otherwise I shall just have to enjoy it under a blanket with a cup of tea and some chocolate digestives.

6. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood.

I picked this one up at The RSC bookshop for a mere £3, that place is usually pretty expensive. I love ancient Greek myth and legend and I love Margaret Atwood and I love that it's all about the girls. This is a nice short one to finish the reading year off.

There they are my six books for 2012, in theory that makes it a book every 2 months but, as we are now in month number 3 and I'm nowhere near finishing book number 1, that theory is already somewhat out of the window!! Not to mention I've just joined goodreads.com which is a great way to keep track of what you've read, what you want to read and to get recommendations, but not a great way of keeping my reading wishlist in any way realistic!!! Oops.

This has been a pretty long post huh? Here is a beautiful bunch of flowers on my lovely sunny windowsill to say thanks for reading!!

Alice x

Sewing Plans

I have a tendency to over plan, lots of ideas, lots of lists (love lists) and then lots of not doing anything about it! Still, that hasn't stopped me in the past and nor will it now! So, here's what I have planned for my sewing table in the upcoming months.


Crescent Skirt. I'm a little scared of this pattern because it is described as Intermediate...AAAH! I am so a beginner. However the brilliant crescent sew-along makes it look do-able so I'm going to give it a go. Having colour co-ordinated my wardrobe recently, I discovered I own a tonne of black clothes, white clothes and black and white clothes. I mean really, the top row of my wardrobe looks like a black and white movie. I don't mind this really (and I do have a second row full of colour), I think the monochrome look suits me and I want to make something that will fit right in as a handy basic to go with it all (and with my ever growing collection of dusky pink tops, mega addiction alert). So I'm going to make my first crescent in a pale grey denim (and probably line it in dusky pink!) much like the fabric on this FCUK skirt.
I'm hoping to find a nice lightweight denim so that the skirt has some movement in it. We shall see what my next fabric hunt throws out!


I love Cougar Town. I really do and this outfit that Laurie (not the bald fat guy) is wearing is my new favourite and I plan to steal re-create it. Just today Marie from A Sewing Odyssey wrote a post about Salme Sewing Patterns and lo and behold, right there was the perfect pattern for the blouse.

You can buy the pattern here.

A big thank you to Marie for bringing this to my attention. I'm sure it won't be too difficult to find a navy blue and white polka-dot fabric?
I haven't found a pattern for the skirt (yet) and to be honest the shape of it doesn't rock my world, I'm more in love with the pairing of the navy and the yellow, so perhaps another Crescent? Who knows, only time will tell. Speaking of yellow, blue and Laurie, this weeks episode of Cougar Town featured another epic pairing:

Adore the yellow and the denim. I won't add this outfit to the list just yet but I might have to find myself a denim jacket to go with the yellow mini sundress I already own. Charity shops here I come...

Alice x