New Tutorial on Shrimp Salad Circus!

I've got a new tutorial up over on Shrimp Salad Circus!  This time, I knew I wanted to make something super cozy since winter is (unfortunately) nowhere near over.  I noticed that I was seeing cardigans in stores and online that were basically just envelopes of fabric and warmth, so I tried my hand at making one of my own.  I'm pretty happy with the result!  And I called it a Cocoon Cardigan.  Because that's what it feels like.  In a really good way.

Click over here if you'd like to see how this one was made.  And the rest of my tutorials can be found here!


Our First Pets

The mail room in our building sometimes doubles as a giveaway room:  people bring books or furniture or whatever they don't want anymore and leave it there for someone else to pick up.  So I was surprised, but not that surprised, when Scott showed up with an empty aquarium, fully equipped with a filter and a heater and a net that he nagged in the mail room!

After cultivating our ecosystem for the past week, we were ready to bring home some fish last night!  Meet our five new guppies (the colorful guys) and our two mollies.  Only the mollies have names at this point (because we can't tell the guppies apart yet), and they have been affectionately called Agent Dale Cooper (Coop) and Killer Bob (Bob), due to our recent watching/obsession/fascination with Twin Peaks.

I've never had fish before (actually, I've never really even had a pet before!), so we're hoping these guys not only survive, but really thrive.  I love them already.


Dottie Adele: Photo Shoot

What we've all been waiting for (or at least me!)...

Here are the final results of the photo shoot we did back in DecemberIt makes me incredibly grateful to see my designs so wonderfully worn and stunningly photographed.  Please enjoy!  (And let me know your favorites!)
Photo shoot was a collaboration between:
Photographer:  Kate Ignatowski
Hair:  Janice Latorre
Models:  Rachel Novick and Lilly Alanah
Clothes:  Dottie Adele

My shop is "on vacation" until March 1, but if you see anything you like, check back in March!Heart-Shaped Waistband Skirt, Polka Dot Top (sold out), Roses Skirt, Blush Pink Maxi Dress, Pleated Polka Dot Skirt, Lace Back Blouse, Peter Pan Blouse, Printed Shorts, Sweetheart Dress, Mustard Sweater Top (coming soon!)


How to Be Insanely Productive

3-day weekends are the best, aren't they?  Sometimes I like to use that extra day to relax, and sometimes I like to use it to get stuff done.  This past 3-day weekend fell into the latter category.

I have been abundantly blessed in the last few months with opportunities for sewing things for people and contributing to their lives and memories.  I love this.  It's what I want to do.  However, since I also have a regular 8-hour-a-day job, it's not that hard to fall behind on my sewing obligations (even if I really wish I could just be sewing all the time).  This weekend, I set my sights, and I set those sights high, on sewing up a storm.

My friend Brittany and I have similar dreams-becoming-realities-outside-the-regular-working-hours things going on right now, and on Friday when we talked about how much we both wanted to accomplish this weekend, I half-jokingly said that we should e-mail each other our progress as accountability partners.

On Saturday morning, I woke up to just such an e-mail from Brittany, which started an entire weekend of productivity accountability THAT WAS AWESOME.

Here are some excerpts from our e-mails:

"Day's long term goal: minimize the amount of ice cream I eat. (eep.)"

"Closing report:  I accomplished the minimum I said I would do.  Didn't make it to bed by midnight, but that's because I was watching Jennifer Lawrence on SNL, which I feel is a somewhat valid excuse."
"I needed reinforcements, so I'm bringing in Devil Wears Prada and ice cream. I'm aiming to be done with this by 3."
"Immediate plans:  shower, lunch, put away laundry, vacuum, do the ironing, change the bedsheets before 2 PM.  If I do all that, the only thing I have left to accomplish today not sewing related is making dinner.  I will be watching last week's Downton and the remainder of all my week's tv shows while doing all of the above."
"My plant from my boss is not dead (yet)!!! Small victories."
"So it turns out that even though The Impossible was extremely painful to watch, it helped quite a bit today when I went on my walk and the wind was blowing at, oh, 30-40 miles per hour.  About 5 minutes in I was like, "I should just go home," but then I remembered how Naomi Watts' entire body was basically destroyed and she still swam through debris-filled tsunami water, so surely I can walk up this hill.  And so I did."

Somehow, laying out everything that I needed or wanted to get done that day - from housework to cooking to exercising to working on my sewing - and then knowing that I was going to check in with Brittany again in just a matter of hours made me work so much harder without even feeling like I was working.  We virtually high-fived one another when we got things accomplished, and used each other's victories as our own motivation to get more stuff done.

Call me a productivity nerd, but having an accountability partner in all of it made things fun.  Next time you have a gigantic, intimidating to-do list, I highly recommend getting yourself someone to report back to!


Hearts on My Sleeves

I made plans for this top almost 3 months ago, and finally followed through!
I don't have too much to say about this one except that it's cute and it's silky and it has a pocket and it's fun and out of my norm and I love it!  (Guess that was more than I thought I had to say.)

And just because I must show you this print in close up:
So cute, right?  (Soh kyoot.)

Fabric - Heart of the Matter Crepe de Chine from Gorgeous Fabrics
Pattern - New Look 6148
Time to complete - 4 hours


NYC List: Intrepid Museum

Although we've been there many times before, the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum is still one of my all-time favorites (which is strange, considering I don't really are about planes or military stuff at all...and the entire museum is actually an aircraft carrier).  I think I love it so much because I love seeing and learning about ways of life that seem so out of the norm to me.  Living on a gigantic ship carrying planes and never setting foot on land for months at a time?  I'm intrigued.  Sign me up!

We also had this on our "Things We Must Do Before We Leave The City" list because in all the previous times we've been, we had never gone on the submarine or seen the recently-arrived space shuttle, so when Blake and Julie were visiting, we made our return trip.

Submarine spaces are tiny.
Who wants to bunk with the torpedo?  Not it.
Here is Scott on top of the submarine with the city in the background.  With his eyes closed.
You probably don't want me running one of the machine guns on the deck.
Ready Room!  I love this room because it reminds me Top Gun and also I learned these are the most comfortable chairs on the ship.  They do look pretty loungey.
All four of us decided to ride in this G-Force Simulator.  I get motion sick, but thankfully I had some Dramamene on me and we had a 30-minute wait in line for it to kick in.  While in line, Scott told me he wouldn't go upside down or crash on purpose, a promise he broke about 4 seconds after the ride started.  Still, I didn't puke.
The shuttle's area got damaged during Hurricane Sandy, so they are currently rebuilding and you can't go walk around it right now, but we at least got to view if from afar.
Navigation Bridge, where several quotes from Titanic came to mind.  "Take her to sea, Mr. Murdoch.  Let's stretch her legs..."
A plane on the plane elevator.
Helicopters and skyscrapers.
I love this place.


Book I Read Half Of And Then Just Went to the Movie Instead

You probably could have guessed it:  Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo.

I had great intentions of reading the whole book before I saw the movie (because I've never seen the musical either).  Then I found out the book is 1500 pages long.  No, thank you.  So I found an abridged version that was *only* 600 pages long.  Do-able.  And I tried, I really did.  I got through Fantine's depressing existence and Cosette's childhood and I was really loving Jean Valjean's unwavering morality, and then I got to Marius and we started talking about French politics...and I just. could. not. go. on.  I'm sorry, Marius!  You're just too boring!

So, with knowledge of only half of the story, I gave in and we just went to see the movie instead this weekend.  (Just in time, too, since it did quite well for itself at the Golden Globes last night!)  I honestly ended up with mixed feelings about it, possibly more on the bad side than the good, but I'll just stick to what I loved and leave out the parts I wasn't so crazy about.
  • Anne Hathaway deserves every good word, pat on the back, accolade, and audience member tear she gets for this.
  • Amanda Seyfried looks awesome in bonnets.
  • The hoodrat child is the best.
  • Hugh Jackman, I would like for you to come rearrange all my furniture with your brute strength while singing me lullabies.
  • Samantha Barks, your waist is so small it rivals Scarlett O'Hara's, and you sang "On My Own" almost as good as Joey Potter.  Just kidding, you were obviously better than Joey, but thank you, Dawson's Creek, for the first time I ever heard this song and my many years of not realizing it wasn't written specifially for your show.
  • There is always hope.  Always.  If these wretched, miserable peasants don't let it die, nor should you.  Hope is found in love, and, as ol' 24601 lets us know:  "To love another person is to see the face of God." 
Vive la France!  Vive la Revolution!


Still Can't Get Enough of Mustard Yellow

Most recently made item:  another square sweater, from this simple tutorial, this time in my old standard color, mustard yellow.
I love the simplicity of making this top:  it truly is just 4 rectangles sewn together.  As a wannabe minimalist, it can't get much better than that for me!
You might notice that this shutter closet door is normally reserved for my shop pictures, but I decided I already have enough yellow things on Dottie Adele (proof).  Ha!

Oh, and remember that photo shoot with Kate Ignatowski I did in December? Here's a sneak peek, with one of the models wearing this top! Look forward to all the pictures next week!


Recovery Update

Tomorrow it will have been 3 months since my surgery.  I imagined that by now I would be, at the very least, able to stand up and bend over without feeling the same ol' pain, and had even grander dreams of running and skiing and dancing again.  While that's not exactly the case, I feel confident that things are improving, albeit really, really, really slowly.

My surgery fixed up my major problem, which was herniated discs in my lower back.  But, now that those are cleaned up and no longer an issue, a bunch of other issues that we all previously chalked up to being symptoms of the discs are still lurking around!  Basically, in an attempt to cause me the least amount of pain from those slipped discs, my body has been trying to help me by overcompensating with other muscles (thanks for the effort, body!), but those tiny changes in the way that I move and do things have been causing damage that now needs to be undone.  Upper back tightness, lower back inflexibility, hip rotation, pain in the glutes (yes, my butt hurts!).

I'm going to physical therapy twice a week and being the best darn patient I know how to be while at home, doing my exercises every day (except for a couple I missed while traveling over Christmas), changing my habits of movement and sitting, and just trying to be aware of what I am doing to my back.  It's helping - I know it is - but it's not at all the instant relief that I had hoped I would have the moment I woke up from surgery, and honestly, it's frustrating.

In an effort to keep myself accountable for my own back health and to keep a record for my future self of the changes I've made, I wanted to document these things here.  (Also, if you have lower back pain on a daily basis, try changing up some of these things!)

- I don't lift anything over 10 pounds.  If I need to move something heavy and no one else is around, I usually just push it with my feet.  This has been a hard one for me because I've always prided myself on being strong (that's even what my name means!).

- When I do pick something up, I keep it as close to my body as possible.  One of my physical therapists told me to pretend I have T-Rex arms.  I love that visual.

- If I need to reach the floor or something low, I always squat instead of bending over.  I've rearranged my kitchen so that the things I use more than once a week are no longer in lower cupboards, so I have to do this even less.

- I try to remember to stand up at least once an hour.  That sounds like nothing, but I have a desk job, and I really could go a long time without ever getting up!

- Ergonomics of my work spaces and how I sit are also a big part of it.  As part of my PT, we took pictures of me in the places I sit the most, and my therapist helped me make adjustments.

Sewing table:
 I need a chair that I can lean on to help support me.  My sewing machine should be at least 6 -12 inches higher so that I don't have to bend over and slouch to see what I'm doing.  Both these things will help me sit up straighter and take pressure off my lower back.

I've moved my phone to the right side of me so it's easier to reach with my right hand.  We raised my chair up so my hips are higher than my knees and I no longer cross my legs.  I also sit scooted up so the chair's arm rests are all the way up to my desk.  I have pulled my keyboard to the edge of my desk now, and use a wrist rest while I type.

The right side of my back is extremely tight with all the overcompensating my muscles have been trying to do, so I need to stop sitting with my legs curled to that side.  If I sit with my legs to my left instead, it stretches out the right side of my back.

Fascinating, I know (<--- sarcasm).  There are tons of little changes and adjustments to be made and reteaching my body the correct way to move, but I really want to have less pain and more movement, and get back to the level of strength and energy and mobility as I had before.  I'll keep you updated!


NYC List: Roosevelt Island Tram

Last week, while our NYE co-conspirators were in town, we also went down to ride the Roosevelt Island Tram, thus marking off one of my "Things We Must Do Before We Leave the City" items!
When I'm being a tourist, I'm always a sucker for views, and I love to ride anything that gives you a different perspective on a city that you wouldn't normally get just walking or driving through it.

The Tram takes you from East 60th St...
over the East River...
and drops you on a skinny little island in the middle of the river, which was eerily quiet (away from the city traffic).  It's mostly apartment buildings and a hospital, from what I can tell, but we did snag some pizza!  (Duh, it's still New York)

Your parallel companion as you're tramming along is the Queensboro Bridge, which we decided looks like it was built with K'nex (remember those?).

The whole ride is merely the cost of a Metrocard swipe, and probably only lasts 4 or 5 minutes one way.  A unique, inexpensive way to get some views of the city's East Side!
One item done!


Something You Do Once and Then Never Do Again: Times Square NYE

With two of our favorite friends from Oklahoma in tow, Scott and I celebrated our last New Year's Eve in NYC the most classic way possible:  Times Square Ball Drop!

First of all, I need to confess that in this case, I use the term "Times Square" lightly.  Normally, Times Square would be considered the range of 42nd St. to 47th St., and we were standing waaaaaay up on the 57th St. block.  But our entire goal was to be able to witness the ball dropping into 2013 with our own two eyes, and that we did!

See?  That light blue streak of light in the middle...was the 20-story building which the ball was on.
The picture above was really the best I could get.  The rest of them all looked like this:
Which is actually kind of cool looking, but not if I'm trying to document my view on New Year's Eve.

Here are my quickest tips for surviving such an adventure:
1.  Wear a ton of layers.  I wore 5 tops, tights, jeans, wool socks, my biggest winter coat, a hat that covered my ears, and a giant scarf.  I wasn't sorry.  The good news is that the millions of people packed into each tiny block also really help block the wind.
2.  Go with people that you don't mind having a long conversation with just standing somewhere for several hours.  Also with people that you don't mind standing uncomfortably close to.  (Love you, Blake and Julie!)
3.  Go the bathroom before you get there and then just hold it at all costs.  If you leave, first of all, there is no way the cops are letting you back in the barricades and, second of all, you would never find your people again anyway.
4.  If all you want to do is see the ball drop, it's not necessary to go crazy early.  We went at 9:30 PM and could see just fine for what we wanted to see.  Also, there are fireworks in Times Square AND Central Park, so if even if you're closer to the park, you still get a good show!

We went, we stood, we saw, we left.  Welcome, 2013!