In which a Canadian girl goes to Maine

Three menopausal sisters, a twenty-something daughter, and a soon-to-be-daughter-in-law pile in a truck and drive to Maine.

... I don't have a punch line, I'm afraid.

'Few weeks back I went to Maine with the ladies of T's family. I...

  • ...ate a properly cooked steak! I didn't realize that meat could melt like that.
  • ...found all the remaining bits needed to complete my Animaritime costume on time
  • ...went yard-saleing for the first time!
  • ...witnessed an anime convention by accident. We saw all the people in costumes walking around the convention hotel and the nearby mall.

Storefront of the British Goods store
A stinkin' adorable shop in Freeport. They had a whole window display of Doctor Who swag

A bracelet made to look as if it is a chain of toonies Three shelves of blue teapot lamps, at least two lamps deep
A bracelet made of fake toonies. SO MANY TEAPOT LAMPS

Highlight the First

While driving through what I think is probably one of the least-populated sections of the highway, we suddenly all had to pee. Our choices were pretty limited - the ditch or the kind of gas stations that horror movies are filmed in. Neither choice was good, and the situation was getting... dire. Suddenly, an angelic choir and a majestic parting of the clouds alerted us to a glistening white sign just ahead - 'IRVING', it glowed, and we all sighed in near-relief.

But the sign was a trap! Here was not the whitewashed buildings with their cleaned-thrice-daily washrooms that I remember from childhood car trips, to which admittance was granted by a token purchase of a bottle of Dr. Pepper and a bag of chips. No, this was a bafflingly arranged Ma-'n-Pa store, that also happened to have a serious grudge against animals.

Assorted animal furs and animal tails hanging from wires
There was a mouse trap nailed to a sign next to the furs - "Animal Activists - to register a complaint, please press the button below."

Everyone took turns in the tiny, wood-paneled, much-graffitied bathroom with a toilet that refused to flush, while I stoked each of the furs and inspected the posted prices. I was sorely tempted to blow half my shopping budget on a full gray fox skin ($74.99), or at the very least a lovely sliver of white ermine ($14.99). But, as I reached the bottom of the price chart, I knew destiny would only allow me to walk away with one purchase: Coyote Faces: $3.99

Several coyote faces clipped to a hanger

That such total barbarism could be put so unabashedly on display was stunning to me; the price point of the pithily named coyote faces merely emphasizing the flippant disregard for the life of a creature that, to a city-dweller, is semi-mythical.

As I paid for my coyote face and tried to contain my baffled glee, one of the cashiers asked if I was from Canada. They probably get that reaction a lot, but I didn't mind. I was the proud new owner of a coyote face! A weird treasure, and an amazingly soft scrap of fur which will keep me content until the bunnies are home for the winter. (Writing it out makes it sound really creepy, but it's true.) It even has whiskers!


Highlight the Second


The second highlight of my whole trip was going to the headquarters L.L. Bean in Freeport. I have yet to be able to describe to anyone how bizarre the whole experience was, but I'll try again.

First of all, the store is actually more of a campus - there's a cluster of stores that are grouped around a central sort of park area. As far as I can tell, the largest building is the clothing section, which spans two (three?) floors, but it is also connected to the hunting, camping, and biking sections. Secondly, they're open 24 hours a day. Thirdly, they have a trout pond with real trout in it inside the clothing store. There was a mustachioed man in water waders doing a live fly fishing demonstration.



The store's heritage of an outdoors-y store greatly flavored the decor. Almost everywhere you looked there was wood and taxidermy. And it was quite surreal to leave the clothing section and arrive at the shotgun counter.


Sam laughing in front of a taxidermy grizzly
"HAHA! I laugh in the face of DANGER!"

But, my favourite part of the whole store was the giant "riverbed" aquarium they had in a hallway. At one end of the aquarium was a thick plastic bubble. You could crawl under and pop your head up, and it was like you were actually in the water with the fishes.


The whole time I was there, there was a constant stream of children swarming in and out of it. I almost had to fight them to get a chance at the bubble - and this was after eleven at night. Totally worth it, though, because we got probably the best photo ever taken of me:

Sam under a bubble, grinning and staring starry-eyed at several large, ugly fish swimming near her face

Overall, the trip was really fun, though it involved quite a few more dead animals than I had accounted for.

Animaritime 2013

Animaritime was in my city last weekend! I managed to find out about it a few months back, and was able to get a costume together just in time. Way back in October, I had started working on a Cardcaptor Sakura costume; I didn't finish that particular battle costume because I spent all my time on a Journey cloak for T. BUT - I had actually finished the staff prop around Christmas time! Clearly I just needed to make another of Sakura's battle costumes. Given the constraints of the con being held in late June, and the theme being "Through Time and Space," I figured I would make the fairy battle costume from the episode where she captures the Time card.

I thought I was being clever. ;)

Sam in Cardcaptor Sakura's fairy battle costume


The weather was on the chilly side, so T was able to wear his Journey costume. We even found an obelisk for him! Apparently there were a bunch of Journey travelers on one of the days, but we missed them as we only went on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

T wearing a Journey costume

T wearing a Journey costume, meditating before an obelisk

We didn't make it to many of the panels because we're bad at schedules, but it was still really, really cool to see so many people in such great costumes. I do know now to pay more attention to the schedule - most of the panels I was interested in, as well as the masquerade, were in the early afternoon, but I was too busy sleeping in to notice. In the end, we spent most of our time wandering around just looking at stuff. It was really funny to walk around the familiar downtown area and see a bunch of fantasy characters sitting in cafes and lounging on park benches.

One of the weirdest parts was how may strangers (not at the convention) would talk to us. As soon as we left the apartment to head downtown, a couple of guys shouted at us from across the street than ran over to shake our hands and ask why we were in costume. (They then tried to sell us drugs. That was unexpected.) There were people shouting out of cars, and more than one person leaning out of their house windows shouting that they liked our costumes. I just thought it was weird because the only other time I've been in costume in public is at Halloween, and I guess its expected then, so people don't get so excited?

We also ran into a photographer friend of ours, and we did a little photoshoot! (I've got the edited pictures, but they're so nice they deserve a post of their own.)

I didn't take many photos because I was really shy about asking, but here's what I did get. T found a Journey buddy, and I met another magical girl from a different series. (There were a few other Sakuras, but I missed the photo-op!)

T and another person in a Journey costume, sitting together

And a few really great costumes - but there were so many more I didn't get photos of, or even see! Some of these people have been tagged in my album in the Facebook group

Someone wearing Mandalorian armor

Someone in a Link costumeSomeone in a Link costume, in a battle pose with a sword

Characters from NarutoA semi-humanized BMO costume



Pinspired | Summer Bloomers and Foxy Sleep Masks


Madeleine Mini Bloomers

Model wearing a completed pair of mini-bloomer shorts
(Promotional image from Coletterie.com)

While looking for some free shorts patterns for my upcoming Sakura costume, I found these lovelies at coletterie.com. They're a fantastic base for the shorts I need for my costume, but I also thought they would be adorable for regular summer sleepwear. They're also happen to be a perfect use for all those breezy floral-print chiffons I have languishing in my stash:


The pattern and instructions are provided as a free download. The instructions are decent, though be sure to read them carefully a few times because not every step is illustrated, and some of it can be confusing if you're only looking at the pictures. ;) I didn't make any alterations, and found the size to be accurate according to the provided size chart.

I went a little wild and handstiched all the hems and seams except the elastic casings - figured I could use the practice, and my cheap-o machine likes to eat gauzy fabrics, anyway. I also finished the bloomers with a french seam, due to the sheer fabric. I was tempted to only do one elastic at the waist, but quickly realized that the waist is designed with four channels and two elastics to prevent it from rolling over on itself, so I kept to the pattern as designed.

Turns out my fabric choice was perfect - the ones in the promotional image look downright frumpy compared to my breezy pair. These bloomers are very light and comfy for summer, and I'll definitely be making more!

Fox (or Cat) Sleep Masks


This tutorial and pattern comes from Lucille of Foxshop via A Pair and a Spare DIY.


I failed to follow the instructions and used the mask outline as a pattern with seam allowances included, rather than tracing it onto my fabric. Everything still worked out fine, I just have slightly smaller masks, haha. This was a great use for some fat quarters I had in my stash, and I've actually been sleeping better when I wear my fox face to bed!

Storage closet, and a DIY pocket organizer

In my continuing efforts to get a solid grasp on this homemaking thing, I started following a fourteen-week organizing challenge, hosted by A Bowl Full of Lemons (which is a great homemaking blog, by the way. Simple, practical, and I don't gag while reading it.). One of the weeks I was actually able to complete was "Garage week," where I reorganized our storage closet. (Due to a general lack of rooms and/or funds, I haven't been able to complete many of the other challenges.)

Here's my before pictures... although at this point I had already sorted and refolded all my fabric, so it's not as cluttered as it had been.



It could certainly have been worse... most things were still in boxes from when we moved in, and there was ample shelf space. But there were a lot of things that didn't have a "home," and they tended to pile up and get in my way. The second major problem was that it was difficult to find any cords or electronics, since they had all been shoved into drawers.



So my two goals for this space were to find a better cord and gadget solution, and to create logical homes for our stuff. While not spending any money.

The first was easy enough, conceptually. I figured I could use an old plastic shower curtain we had recently replaced - combined with the leftovers from assorted sewing projects - to create a double-sided pocket organizer. (For the less desperate, you can buy these pocket organizers for like, ten bucks... though they won't be as kickin' rad as mine is.)



The layout of a pocket organizer is pretty easy, but this project took a very long time. I thought my shower curtain was fairly clean, but a closer inspection revealed a tough buildup of waterspots and soap scum. Scrubbing it off took a significant chunk of time! And then the actual sewing took a while, too, since I had to piece together so many strips of fabric and plastic. I broke a handful of needles try to sew through two layers of plastic before I learned I would have to do each side separately... which doubled my project time.

BUT in the end it was totally worth it, because I could completely replace the ugly plastic gadget drawers with a smaller, neater organizer.

The rest of the closet was straightforward - unboxed some things, boxed some other things. Moved some things out, moved other things in. Themed the cubbies and grouped items better. Just your normal organizing procedure!



It's still ugly as sin, but the good news is its a snap to find stuff, and it's super easy to keep organized. It's been probably a month and a half since I did the clean, and it looks pretty much the same now as in the after photos - and that's not from a lack of use! The door to this closet is right next to my computer chair, so I spend way too much time staring at my nice, organized closet.

A sheepish hello

Ummmm.... hi again.

I'm back from my unannounced blogging hiatus. I really needed that guiltless break to let my creativity recharge. After agonizing over a complete and utter writer's constipation block, I stopped worrying about not posting and just let myself go ahead and not post.

The past few months I've been searching for a job as a relatively inexperienced CS grad in a city that is flooded with relatively inexperienced CS grads. Things were rough for a while. I didn't have any money to spare for fun/entertainment, so most of my time was filled with playing free video games, watching Netflix, and obsessively refreshing my inbox. Not exactly the sort of activity that gets the juices flowing, creative or otherwise.

That's not entirely true, of course - looking back, there's actually a number of projects that I've worked on that are worthy of sharing. But at the time, I just felt so "blah" that I was incapable of writing... well, anything.

BUT! The blahs have come to an end! I am now gainfully employed, and things are looking up. For any of my remaining readers out there, please bear with me over the next few weeks as I try to get back into the swing of things. I've missed you all, and my blog, and blogging... so here's to rekindling our relationship!
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