Thursday, April 21, 2016

Party like it’s 1999...

So…another celebrity has passed. It’s been a stellar year for celebrity passings. Because their stars burn so much brighter, we notice them more when they burn out.
And this one hit me so much harder than David Bowie, whom I loved, but really didn’t have as much of a personal connection.

It was 1992 and I remember buying Prince’s Love Symbol album on cd and playing it over and over again. This was so controversial at the time because he changed his name from Prince to an unpronounceable symbol.  I drew that symbol all over everything and had decided that when I got my first tattoo-that was going to be it.  In my young adult eyes, there was just something charismatic and subtly sexual about Prince. He was flamboyant, but not over the top.  He was just so fascinating and I adored his music. I still do.

It’s funny. I just found my old stash of cd’s-most of them still playable. And you’ll never guess what one was on top?

Monday, March 28, 2016

22,895 -or- how I’ve beat my inner editor this Nano (repost)

Last Nanowritmo was a disaster. And it was my first one, so I was loath to start again this year without a battle plan. Last time, my inner editor beat me to a bloody, circling pulp, sending me into a never-ending editing spiral that ended in a word-addled panic attack.
So this year I came up with a plan. The novel I intended to write, I had been mulling over in my head all summer, but hadn’t written any actual words on yet. I knew my characters, knew roughly where it started, who dun it (cozy mystery) and setting. I knew that I needed to muffle that inner editor, but how?
That’s when I did a search for using Scrivener better-because it’s such a powerful writing source for some and I knew I really wasn’t using it well.
This was my plan:  I started a new Scrivener project, using a mystery novel template, then I pretty much followed Jason Hough's 'Scrivener Bootcamp' and following Nanowordsprints very closely. They have been a lifesaver!
This meant always moving forward with my writing. I haven't done more than a few minor word changes since I've started.
Here's what I mean:
Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 7.14.00 PM.png
(Any running commentary from my editor-is either prefaced by /// or the letters TK which I write as or the case of a new character that I don't want to take the time to flesh out now- 'Officer TK' with a comment added to the side.
Like this:
Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 7.14.50 PM.png
This literally takes seconds and when I finish the word vomit that is my initial draft, I'll go find all of the 'TK's and fix them.

Is this my best writing? No.
Is this utter crap? Hell no.
But I am so proud of myself for getting almost halfway through my 50,000 word count. I'm not even worried about the ending yet because a typical cozy is 90,000 to 100,000 words anyway-so I'm aiming for progress to middle.
It is me telling myself the story the first time. The polishing and fluffing out will come after.
You can follow my progress, nano and after here and here.

Hedgehog care for those who care

Okay, here goes (with a warning that I can get long winded on animal care. I apologize in advance):
Hedgie ownership is not for everyone. They are nocturnal, prickly (though not painfully so) and gram for gram are the biggest poopers of any animal I’ve ever owned.
**Story-time:skip if you’d like**
That being said-I adored my girls-I ended up with 3-but would have taken more. I started off with one (fairly expensive) girl bought from a breeder out in Buffalo NY and caravan’ed to me here. So I didn’t get to pick her out. She was a big prickleubutt. My second girl was a rescue (which I would suggest). She and her brothers and sisters were rescued from a neglectful home and it took me a while to win her over. My third and favorite girl was technically a birthday present-but only because I was kind of broke. I would have figured out a way to get her anyway. She and her siblings were in a pet store (don’t get me started about buying from pet stores)-at least 5 of them-in a ten gallon fish tank, no hiding places, on pine shavings-no wheel or anything. I felt horrible snagging her and not grabbing her siblings, but I couldn’t buy them.**Adorable pictures of the girls at the end** 
**Okay-Caring for and pampering your new prickly butt friend**
~Please take what I’m saying as my experience-not gospel. Your milage may vary. I’ve put further handy resources at the bottom.~
1) Cage: Hedgies (unlike guinea pigs or rabbits) don’t chew. and for the most part can’t really climb (unlike hamsters) So: Cages can be open topped, made of many things. I made my first cage out of two sterilite totes. Second one out of those mesh cube things that you pop together.
~At LEAST 4′x2′. I wouldn’t say double it for each animal-but how would you feel confined to such a small space for your whole life.
Make it BIG. Most cages they have in the pet store are rubbish for space. Research building hedgehog cages. There are some awesome how to’s out there and they are easy.
*** The bottom of the cube cage I made is a ‘box-type’ liner made from corrugated plastic (coroplast). They are awesome and you can build your own easy. Example here.
2) In the cage: (see above as well)
~Good size wheels are mandatory. They have a territory of 2-300 meters-and as such they run a lot. They are also poop-runners. So, a pan with some type of litter should be under the wheels. I used short sided aluminum pans filled with pelleted news print type littler (just don’t use cedar or clumping cat litter-gets stuck in their paws.) You should clean daily-as they poop A LOT and are smelly.
Sleeping/eating area: can be covered in cloth type liners. This area tends to not be soiled as much. I despise having them walk and sleep on litter and sewed my own liners. You can also use cut up velux blankets-as long as it doesn’t fray-loose strings amputate toes. Fleece (esp. clearance cuts) is a marvelous thing.
They are hiders by nature, so need a covered place to retreat and or sleep. Hedgie hats (above in ‘Cuse colors) are a quick sew or just give them extra blankies to burrow under. I sewed a fleece sac for hiding/sleeping in. They loved it.
Things like cat toys (balls and such), Large PVC pipes to hide/play in, stuffed animals, etc are always fun to add. As are the legendary tp tubes. Hedgies love to go ‘tubing’
Food: I don’t know how readily available specific hedgie food is now, but Mazuri makes an insectivore diet and apparently there is a complete hedgie diet in a bag. IF you  choose to go the cat food route: they need high protein, low fat. I used to buy things like Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul Lite, Blue Buffalo cat food, or similar. The whole animal protein should be the first on the list.  They like eggs,chicken, most fruits and veggies.
They are insectivores, so crickets, meal worms, silk worms, etc can be fed (in moderation), as can high quality canned cat food on occasion. **my first girl loved her food-and ended up being over 600 grams. If you have more than one hedge-I’d recommend NOT free-feeding so you can monitor food intake.**
Water should always be available. I preferred water bowls to 
Socialization: Contrary to initial thoughts:hedgies aren’t ALWAYS in prickle mode. Most of the time their quills lie flat to their body and they like being petted once they are comfortable with you. I do the scoop from the side: fingers go between front and back legs under belly to scoop up. Let them on laps, chests,shoulders, much like kitties. Patience is the key. Just pick up, pet and hold daily.
*If you have an area wide open and pet safe-you can let them run around the room-or pen off areas. They like to explore. Also: there are hedgie sized hamster type balls you can put them in to run around in-those are fun and safe.
Odds and ends:
*Temps need to be kept above 70℉ as they are African Hedgehogs. They do not hibernate like the European Hedgies. They do enjoy a heating pad under their sleeping area if your room is cooler.
*They can be prone to cancer and other diseases.
**cleanliness is next to godliness** Most of them like baths: tepid water, baby shampoo. They get very dirty (poopy boots)-so baths often may be necessary.  Old toothbrushes help clean dirty quills and feets. Towel dry.
Their nails grow constantly-and need to be cut frequently. I used Bird nail scissors.
I felt better having a pet/hedgie first aid kit made up: here (though I bought one-can’t remember where. AS well as finding a vet who treats hedgies.
Fun/weird hedgie things:
~They do this thing called ‘annointing’. They take spit and groom it into their quills on their back. I think I read somewhere that they did it in the wild after eating something toxic (not to them) as more of a protective mechanism. 
~They make funny noises. Especially when disturbed. They ‘huff’ ‘pop’ and can ‘growl’. When irritated. the puff their quills up and ‘pop’ like little jumps and make a quick ‘pfft’ ‘pfft’ noise. Here and here.
~They can weigh anywhere from 250-550 grams. (I weighed every week-to keep track of health. They drop weight fast when sick and can hide symptoms)
~Common life span is 4-6 years
~baby hedgies are called hoglets or pups and litters are anywhere between 4-9.
~There are some amazingly beautiful colors of hedgies out there. Some rarer than others. My favorites are: choc. snowflake, cinnacot, platinum, pintos. BUT go into it for personality-not necessarily color. You’ll Pay for color.
(The Dutchess-also knows as princess prickly pants)
(rescued hedgebutt-aka Rosie the grump)
(and little tiny Lilly the smol-who sleeps on my chest)
Good research sites:
Examples of places to buy stuff. Here and here.

Okay- advice needed:

I’m in the process of merging my myriad of writing RL blogs into one blog on Blogger. 
MY original blogger blog was made for a teaching course and had writing about teaching, the work for the course, etc....    There’s pretty much no way I’m going to be teaching again (long story) but do I want to dump all that writing and move on?
I’m having the same conundrum IRL with my boxes of files and curriculum and everything that’s gone untouched since I left last February. How do you get rid of almost 7 years of work? Almost 10 years of college work? 
I don’t have the room or the need really for it, but do I need to keep it?

Former Art Teacher: Looking For a New Gig…

Can I just tell you how freaking different searching & applying for jobs is than when I had to do it fifteen years ago?
Yes, I am old (no not really-but by Tumblr standards I am ancient) and I was at my former job in all it’s incarnations for almost 15 years. I certainly don’t feel as old as I should-at least most days. Almost a year later-I wish I could tell you I don’t feel as washed up, used up and broken, defective and a waste as I did last year as February rolled into March….but I sort of do.
I can honestly say that I couldn’t see myself staying in teaching/education until I retired at the ripe old age of ancient (let’s be real-in the current economy would I really be able to afford to retire at 65?)  So what now?
Yah-I’ve been working on a book manuscript.
Yes-I’ve been trying to get back into drawing, creating-but I feel like my art well has gone dry and that breaks my heart like you would not believe. I don’t know if it’s fear of not being able to actually draw anymore, or just apathy-there are so many more talented people here on the internet-hell even my fourteen year old cousin draws better than I do. The writing is just coming a bit easier right now. Not that I feel I’m any good.
I want to try and get into freelance writing of some sort-but I certainly don’t have the confidence-or the publishing experience.
In a way-me having to forcefully rip myself out of that rather distasteful educational scene I was in-was a blessing. At least in the long run.  Now I’m having to take care of my mother. Because of medical issues that started this summer-she is now unable really see or withstand any light brighter than a dim table light and driving (especially in the winter sun) is out of the question. I am chauffeur, cook, maid, etc.  But I’m out of work-so it’s the least I can do, right?
I really need to find a job I can do at home so I can be there for her and not feel like such a schmuck for not contributing.
But what do?

Friday, August 06, 2010

New writing idea...

Thank you Chrissy for the great idea. I was messaged last week by a good friend with a great idea (she rarely has any other kind). Here's what she said: "I was at work today when I thought of a really cool website idea. Imagine writing a paragraph, posting it, then letting someone else write the next one, then someone else the next and so on. It's like an online version of the old car trip game..." So. I have been trying to think of the best way to implement this new scheme..... I have a Apple MobileMe web site, but that doesn't have the means of an add on type page. Hence the blog format. Now, since I can't think of a fictional paragraph to start us off, I will email my good friend and have her start us.......Feel free to post your addition to our little running story. Maybe, if it takes off, we'll start a new one each month. Please keep it clean & spell check. I will delete anything that is offensive. ~Jenn

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


I'm almost there. I have the pants sewn together and gathered, but not the waist band. That little thing is giving me a big problem!

I've been very busy with school and dealing with this retched winter doldrums, so I just haven't had the motivation to focus on why I can't get my waistband finished....

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pretties For A Queen

I am really not a fan of Queen Mary. I have however become enamored with a few of the dresses in portraits of the Queen.How this relates to costuming:
I am on a major brown kick... IRL my wardrobe consists of mostly browns, pinks,reds, blues, grays, and some blacks. 

These colors have found their way to my fabric stash.  I have been searching for searching all over the internet for for enough brown velvet to make a Mary Tudor overdress.   
For now, I have compromised and purchased enough heavy silk satin twill for the overdress.  I have bought it from Silk Connections and will have to dye it the color I want. 
Period damasks and patterned pieces are hard to find. I love the pattern on the kirtle that Queen Mary is wearing under her dress.  
What do you think I can use to replicate this?  The search is on...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

An update

Just a quick update before I turn in:
I have cut out the pieces to the venetian hose and have decided to line and interline them just for kicks. Why not do it by  the book the first timer right?
That's where "by the book" goes out the window.
I have become a huge fan of this website, and follow her on LiveJournal and such. Laura Mellin, along with Kass McGann, have done some interesting work on period hand sewing.  Being such a blasted visual person, I need to read something quite a few times before it makes sense. Laura's article on "The Elizabethan Seam" just made sense. I had gotten Kass's period sewing guides for Christmas, but without the personal tutorial, not all of it made sense.
My downfall for period technique, I suppose is that I have modern sewing experience. It has gotten in the way of my understanding a few of Kass's pattern directions. (She's more than willing to help someone out of a pickle and explain further her directions btw).
This is why I like Margo's manual. I need step-by-step, treat me like a novice sewer- directions. After I make the thing up once, I got it, but I need to be hit over the head with it sometimes.

So... This is the decision I made in regards to Luke's Venetian hose.
I cut the mustard colored outer fabric. cotton interlining and red lining out. I ironed all of the seam allowances under and sandwiched them together so that I can sew all three layers together at once. 

This allows me to show no seams without having to worry about sewing the lining in later. 

I still don't know if I will leave a hole in the lining to slip the pocket in between or just tack it to the lining so it doesn't jangle about.  The directions for the boy's pattern isn't as detailed as the boys and not all the points are marked like it says...
After all 4 sides of the legs are sewn (2 front & 2 back) I will whip stitch them all together and gather to the waistband and such.

 It should be that simple... Now I just have to get it all done by the 9th of March.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bitten off.....

I have decided that I have bitten off more than I can chew... er .. sew.  I have set the doublet aside as I am totally frustrated with it.  I have cut out the pieces for the smock and the venetian hose.

  I dearly wish I had patterns with better directions!  In typical Jennifer fashion, I have made this project more complicated than it actually needs to be. It's a good thing I am off from work this week and don't have much else to do, except put off cleaning the house and restructuring my literacy centers in my classroom.

Since the pattern I am using says little about closings and what to use, I was playing with making my own cording. I used the instructions from this site: Finger braiding.

Here's some pics:

From left to right: Ven. hose cut in tan moleskin w/ red cotton lining, silk thread finger braiding w/ 4 loops, me diligently sewing while surfing.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

All ahead... slow

Boy I wish I didn't have to work!  It really puts a crimp on things!  But then again, it does help me feed my addictions (fabric, clothes,etc).  I am sewing the side and arm seams tonight, then will have the little man try it on.  I forgot to cut out arms, so that will be done tomorrow night. I can't believe how slow this is going!

BTW- I also have to have a pirate costume done by mid March for our school's PARP (Parents As Reading Partners), for which I am on the committee.  I don't know what has gotten into me. I am actually taking risks this year and will dress up!

That is if I don't make a total ass of myself while participating in our charity Donkey basketball game for Leukemia..... What have I gotten myself into!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

cutting, cutting and more cutting...

Tonight, after I hand washed most of my new fabric, I started to lay out the doublet fabric for cutting.
This green cotton was bought way back in 2000 when I first started on this journey. Some of it was turned into (what I thought at the time) was a great ren. costume. I used Alteryears's Irish leinne costume and made an Elizabethan pair of bodies to go with it. Many years and a good deal of research later and I'm here blogging to you.

Back to our diary...
Today I washed the red lining fabric and boy howdy did it bleed. Not having a working washer, I chose to save my coins and wash my fabric like they did in ole' Henry's time- by hand.
I washed the red broadcloth, yellow faux silk, 8.5 mm (real) silk Habotai and 5 oz linen canvas. The last two were purchased through Silk Connection and are LOVELY!

Boy I seem to be getting side tracked tonight!
I layed out my green fabric and cut out the pieces with seam allowance. One of the things that I don't like about the TT patterns is that they do not include seam allowances. I don't have any experience with patterns outside of McCalls or Simplicity, so I don't know if this is standard.

TT tells you differing seam allowances for certain pieces. I just hope I have them cut right.  I don't know if I will be interlining... I might use the muslin as the interlining
Next step- cut lining...

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Tudor boy's diary- Step 1

Tonight I used my supply of muslin to cut out a doublet slopper to try in my son. This is the first time that I've ever done this, so it's a learn as you go type adventure.
I chose to just cut out the center fronts and back and baste them together for him to try on.
Here's how it went:
  • The left arm hole fit tightly, but the right was fine...Both "holes" were cut identical and he is left handed so....... Will I probably have to cut out bigger armscyes for that side?
  • Length looks a bit short, but I'm going to add the skirt pieces to the bottom. I may add an inch & a half to the bottom to account for growth. I can't remember if Tudor mens clothes were shorter-waisted than modern day or not...
  • I went back and resewed the left armscye- and it fit better.
That's all I can manage tonight as I'm battling something my lovely students chose to share germ-wise with me....

The Order of the Iron Hand

This past month I have been more active on the costuming message lists. I am relatively new to period costuming and have many questions. I do have a pretty good traditional sewing background, but feel like I'm on another planet while navigating my way through historic portraits, patterns, lack of patterns and pages of dress diaries on the web. There is so much information out there that it can get very overwhelming, very quickly.
I want to thank the Margo Anderson message board for not only being so very helpful and supportive, but giving me answers to so many questions. Some day I will be able to answer someone else's newbie questions!
Anyway... back to the post title: On Margo's list, we were talking about hand sewing and how much of a B@#$& it can be. It seems that they have started a group for those of us who have struggled their way through hand-sewing a piece of clothing in one month.
Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I said that I would sew:
  • a linen Tudor smock
  • Tudor doublet
  • Tudor Venetian hose
All this hand-sewn in one month. Now this all has to be documented with pictures and such. These will be for my son's first SCA costume. He's all excited (or as excited as a 12 year old boy will openly show) about his outfit and can't wait to see it.
I will certainly keep you all posted here, as this will be the place for my dress/garb diaries.
Wish me luck...
Your's in time...

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Gettin' all medieval on y'all

Okay, so I had to make this bog for a class. So much for extra credit! Anyway- history is something that I'm pretty passionate about. I especially love medieval and Renaissance ( & pre1600) history. I LOVE renaissance festivals and SCA. Since I'm done with my bachelor's degree, hopefully I will soon have more time to focus on the reasons why I love the renaissance. Stay tuned....