Sunday, September 29, 2013

Cali Faye Collection Pattern Review

Ha!  So its only a week or two late, but I promised a pattern review.  This one will be short and sweet because I'm also gearing up for the first week of school.  I don't take classes anymore but I do teach one class a term at my university and it takes a good amount of preparation.

Anyhow, I bought several patterns from Cali Faye Collection on Etsy.  Specifically I bought the Simply Chic DressDrewB Blazer, and the Wednesday Dress.

I have to say her patterns are well done.  The only thing I would change is that I would love love love if each size had its own print-out. I get the overlapping sizes on the same sheets of paper.  That is how traditional paper patterns are as well. It makes total sense for paper patterns to have overlapping sizes; its more economical and it saves on paper.  Now, I will say if you have a color printer, Cali Faye Collection does take some of the guess work out by color coding each size.  But I don't have a color printer so each size comes out in some various shade of gray.

With a digital pattern, each size could have its own page numbers. Folks who wanted a size 4 could simply print out the corresponding page numbers rather than try to figure out which line in a sea of lines is the size 4. That aside however her tutorials are super easy to follow and the construction of her clothing is just superb. I think my favorite is the Wednesday dress.  I love the silhouette and I think it has that classic old-timey feel to it.

Here are my versions of the Simply Chic and the Wednesday dresses.

Simply Chic in denim; collar is pink with white pin polka dots.
The Wednesday in some funky green fabric with green satin ribbon.
 I actually also used her Simply Chic dress pattern and the DrewB Blazer pattern to make Aria's costumes for the Rose City Comic Con.
I used the Simply Chic Dress pattern here but left off the collar obviously and added color blocking.
I had an awful time trying to locate a bomber jacket like Rogue's.  So I took the DrewB Blazer and cropped the heck out of it, rolled up the sleeves, and added an X-Men logo on the arm.  Voila!  Rogue Jacket.  :)
Next up, I will be making Aria more Wednesday dresses...we have some Marvel superhero fabric that is calling to be made into a dress.  ;)  I will probably alter the dress to remove the big circle cutout from the back.  Its cute but its rainy season over here and closing up that cut out and adding some thick tights and a cardigan will elevate the dress to winter wear.  :)  

I also really really really want the following patterns from her shop...
Papillon Dress 
Racerback Flare Dress
Raglan Hooded Coat
Tulip Shorts 
Anyhow, if you sew you should check out her patterns.  
Do you have any favorite pattern makers?  Do share.  I love trying out new patterns.  



Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Back to School Night Awaits!

Tonight is my first Back to School Night at my new job. I am really excited and more than a bit nervous. I recently had my first Back to School experience as a parent too! A lot of firsts around here recently.

I've been thinking a lot about what to do with the 10 minutes I have with my students' parents. 10 minutes is not a lot of time. I know it will go by in a blink, but I want to connect with these parents and let them know how excited I am for these classes and their kids. I've decided to skip over class policies and grading and all that since it's on our class websites, and try to just to focus on all the cool stuff we get to do over the course of the semester. I think this is a choice a lot of teachers make, especially in the higher grades where parents have to go around and meet a lot of teachers.

So, I thought I'd give a few tips for Back to School Night for parents, from a teacher's point of view. (This is just my opinion, of course, the teachers you deal with might have totally different ideas, so take it with a grain of salt!)

  • Have your contact information ready. I'm going to be trying to collect email addresses from as many parents as I can. The school tries to have that for all kids, but I know I have several missing emails on my class list. I'd really love to have at least one for every kid. 
  • If you have specific questions about just your kid, those are best handled at another time. At least for me, that means an email later. We have only 10 minutes. If every parents asks a 30 second question about just their child, I'll only even get through half of them. 
  • If you want to get involved let the teacher know! We are all low on resources and will take every offer of help we can. You have extra supplies? Want to volunteer? Can put me in contact with a potential guest speaker? Great! I want to know all those things. You can let them know at Back to School Night, but send them and email or something too, 'cause it's a crazy night!
  • Be prepared to be excited! I really want to get parents as excited about my classes as I am. I know it's at the end of the day and teachers are throwing a lot at you, but we're passionate about what we do. Face to face time with teachers can be rare; try to experience the good things we're putting in front of you, not get too distracted by the details. 
  • Write down your questions. Of course you're going to have questions; probably lots of them. We're not going to get through them all in 10 minutes, so write them all down and send an email. Teachers want you to feel involved and included, we just can't answer everything for everyone in one night. 

I don't know if that will really help anyone, but going into tonight, it's what I would tell every parent before they came if I could. I hope everyone's school year is off to as great a start as mine!


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Rose City Comic Con 2013

Phew!  We've had a busy, but extremely fun weekend.  Saturday and Sunday was the 2nd Annual Rose City Comic Con.  We were there for the first and we were determined to be there for the second.  Aria dressed as Domino for the first one and had so much fun she decided she needed two costumes for the second one.  Heh.  You can sneak a peek at her costume for the first one in this blog post about comics HERE.   This year she decided upon Rogue from the X-Men and Wasp from the Avengers.
Like last year, Aria got a lot of attention for her cosplays.  I mean after all what warms an adult geeky heart more than seeing a little person already fostering a love and appreciation for the same obsession? I could probably write several posts about the fabulous 2 days we had at the comic con but instead I'll condense them into highlights for the sake of brevity.  Mind you, the highlights themselves are still pretty word and picture heavy, but we had a really good time so its the best I could do.

Highlight 1:
All three of us enjoyed perusing the great vendors that the organizers for the Rose City Comic Con lined up. There were some big time celebrities as well as more local ones but they were all great.  I picked up some great artwork and I can barely wait until we get them framed and up on the walls.
Top: The cutest print of kitties as My Little Pony by Katie Cook of Gronk fame.  She does some other fabulous prints with kitties as Star Wars, Avengers, and more.  Bottom L: Baby Avengers by battlerobots !!! Ack, so adorable. Bottom R:  Simply cool Avengers print by Chris Uminga.  
L: Sweet Rogue art by Super Emo Friends.  Come on!!  Don't you just want to snuggle that sad little Rogue?  R: Amazing Thor print by Dane Ault from Monkey Minion Press.  I seriously need to buy all his old timey Avengers prints.  They are so cool.
Aria also got custom artwork from Katie Cook and Andy Price.  Katie Cook is the writer and Andy Price the artist of the My Little Pony comics issues 1-4.
L: Custom Twilight Sparkle by Andy Price.  R: Custom artwork of Aria as Wasp by Katie Cook
Highlight 2:
Meeting all the fabulous con goers who were so incredibly nice to my little girl.  No seriously...these folks are what make the comic con a blast for Aria.  Sure she loves buying cool geeky stuff and meeting some of the creators and minds behind the comics and cartoons, but she also feels like a rock star when folks ask to take her picture or tell her how fabulous she looks in her costume or just treat her with kindness.  I have to say that our experiences at both Rose City Comic Cons has been great in that department.  People are just genuinely nice.  
L: Wookie LOVE.  Ahhhh....  R: Rogue, Phoenix, and Storm.  :)  This awesome lady came up and asked to get a group photo and I was happy to oblige as long as I could get a shot as well.
L: Aria loved running into grown up Rogue.  Grown up Rogue is cosplayed by Abi Sue Cosplay who along with Gambit took first in the Heroes and Villians costume contest.  R: Aria ran into Wolverine and we couldn't miss the opportunity to take a picture.  :)
L: What are the chances that the day Aria goes as Wasp, she runs into an adult Wasp?  R: Ms. Marvel and Wasp.  Ms. Marvel was She Hulk on day one.  Apparently, Aria stole her powers when she was Rogue.  Heh.
L: Wasp and Captain America.  He was very nice when I asked for a picture and then asked us to wait just a moment so he could get his own photo of the two of them together.  R: Wonder Woman was very  busy and she looked exhausted but she was very sweet and posed with Aria for this picture.  Oddly enough, Aria doesn't know much about Wonder Woman but she insists that she is one of her favorites now.  Apparently her imaginary friend/brother Dega dressed up as Wonder Woman last year.  Heh.
Highlight 3:
We entered Aria in the costume contest at the end of Day 1.  She was so incredibly brave as she took that stage all by herself.  I was so proud of her.  It was such a bonus when she took second in the 14 and under costume contest.  Aria was beyond the moon and couldn't stop talking about it all the way home that first night.  

She is so tiny up on that stage.  So proud of my brave girl.
Highlight 4:
Aria joining an impromptu Marvel shoot with a bunch of grown up cosplayers.  Seriously, how cute is this???

Highlight 5:
I shared this on the Tansy Doll FB page already so if you follow us there, you already heard it but bear with me as I tell it again because this might be the top highlight of this year's comic con.  We didn't plan out the comic con very well and resorted to just wandering aimlessly, taking in the booths, vendors, and costumes. Christopher Yost was sitting at his table when we passed him.  For those of you familiar with The Avengers: Earth Mighiest Heroes, Yost is the head writer for the show. He called Aria over to his table and asked if I could take a photo of the two of them together. I said yes, as long as I could take a second on my camera.  He told Aria that he wrote the show and that Wasp was his favorite...before Hulk, Iron Man, and even Thor.  Aria stood wide-eyed, half-smiling at him.  I don't think he knows what an impression he made on her.  She is rather shy and it takes a bit for her to process experiences, especially those that are overwhelming for her.  But the next morning, she insisted on watching the cartoon and said, "Momma, I want to write to Christopher Yost.  He said Wasp is his favorite."  She was all smiles.  THIS is what it is all about. Two minutes, a little attention, and the head writer for a popular Avengers cartoon made Aria feel like a million bucks.  I didn't thank him very well that day because I was a bit overwhelmed myself, but I think we'll send that letter Aria wants to write and I'll be sure to tell him then that I appreciate what he did and that I cannot thank him enough for making my little girl's day.  

So that wraps it up.  We had a blast.  We are all excited about next year's Rose City Comic Con and are already planning costumes.  If you live anywhere in the Pacific NW and haven't checked out the Rose City Comic Con, you should seriously make a point to come to the 2014 one.  They rocked this year's and I can only imagine the next one will be even better.  Thanks to the organizers and volunteers who made it all happen.  See you next year!!! 


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Maker Faire 2013

Hey, guys! Do you remember last September when I posted about Portland's Mini Maker Faire? No? Well, no worries you can check it out here.

Anyway, I got to go again this year. Yay! I was even lucky enough to get to go solo. Now, I loved going with Max last year, and I want to take him again, but we do have rather different interests, so it was nice to get to play on my own this time.

So here's my trip to 2013's Portland Mini Maker Faire! I know I missed some stuff, but enjoy all the goodies I did find! (Note: these are just in the order I wandered the Faire.)

I saw a lot of 3D printers at the Faire, but this was the first I wandered over to. The booth was OpenFab PDX and they were printing F-F-Fiddles, which are just what they sound like - little fiddles! There was a guy playing one too and it was pretty spectacular. 

Look at all the pretty goodies by Digital Craft PDX! They have a great range of services and were super friendly to boot. 

I've always wanted to try glass blowing, so the glass is what drew me over to Tool Shed PDX, but they were also there with a full welding tent and doing some awesome projects. 

Man, I wanted to buy one of everything these guys had! The kits at Low Voltage Labs were super cute. Teach those kids to solder early! They were also doing Raspberry Pi demos, which is cool, but I liked the blinking lights. What can I say, I'm easily distracted. :)

That would be a bee hive! Full of real bees! Bridgetown Bees was holding court on city beekeeping! Especially will all the sad bee news that's made the headlines recently, I just had to pick up some info.  

The Perlan Project is working on setting a new altitude record for glider flight. They also collect valuable data on atmospheric conditions. Plus, kiddos in a plane!

 I'm a huge fan of Trackers Earth. I kind of want to lie about my age so I can go to all the classes. I have a dream of one day being a camp counselor for them. sigh Anyway, they had a spread of booths that were all popular. This is where they were letting visitors try archery.

The Intel tent had a really fun activity this year. You got to make an LED light wand, then go into a dark tent where there were computers set up with software that would track your light and displayed you painting with your light paintbrush. Ok, that was a horrible description, but it was really fun!

There were a lot of cool characters wandering around. I'm pretty sure these guys were with the armor booth in the next picture, but they weren't the only ones posing for photos! I saw several incarnations of The Doctor, a collection of pirates, many Star Wars characters, a healthy smattering of steam punk, and a few comic heroes. 

Midnight Armor can help make your cosplay dreams come true! Especially if they involve vacuformed armor pieces. :D

Portland has so many cool clubs! Here are some of the awesome bots built by the R2D2 Builders Group. Lots of photos taken there!

I'm not sure who this little guy belonged to, but he sure way cute. He had a donation sign on his head and was getting fed change from all the little kids! Genius! (I'm pretty sure he was fundraising for an FTC team.)

Look; another 3D printer! This one was running at the Thomas Houha Designs booth. But the wood cutting was the real story there - check out the tiny treehouse! These models were gorgeous! I want!

So many cool components for sale! It was like a candy shop and toy store rolled into one!

I've had a steep learning curve about robotics challenges recently, so it was cool to see the robots of not 1, but 2 FRC teams at the Faire. This one is from the Flaming Chickens, from Catlin Gabel, Portland, OR. 

Here's another awesome frisbee chucker, this one by team Mean Machine, Portland's 1st place team from 2013. 

There were also rocket. Lots of rockets. I'm not sure which rocket booth this was, but there were tons and they were all pretty awesome. 

Hooray for sword fighting! The folks from Academia Duellatoria were back to give all these techie-types a taste of the classics with historic fencing demonstrations and lessons. 

Pirates! They were putting on a lovely show and firing canons off every hour or so. Arrr! (Don't forget tomorrow is Talk Like A Pirate Day!)

This is the current challenge board for the First Lego League groups. It's called Nature's Fury and encourages kids to think about people's reactions to natural disasters. This one was brought by Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach Program, who you can be sure I'll be looking up soon!

This is a car covered in yarn! How cool is that?!? I kind of want to do this to my car, but I don't think Matt will be into it. Ah well...

Everything's better with a trebuchet! 

In the back workshop area they had a bunch of video game demos set up. This one is controlled by a chair you sit in. You lean side to side to slalom down the ski slope. 

These kids are controlling the game entirely by sound. They have mics instead of controllers and change pitch and volume to play. 

You know an exhibit is going to be good when it has a warning sign like this. 

That's 2 big Tesla Coils I got to see in action! Don Anderson was doing a great show every hour or so. We got to see big arcs, he fried a CD, toasted a banana, and made all sorts of great light effects.  

I really wish my camera hadn't been giving out by this point, but what can ya do, eh? You can see at least a bit of pretty electricity here, plus those two glowing rods in the back? Those are florescent lightbulbs his lovely assistant is holding up. No, they're not plugged in, and yes, they're glowing rather brightly. 

Ok, that's only about a third of the pictures I took, and I only took pictures of half of what was there! So much fun stuff! Mark your calendars now; don't miss Portland's Maker Faire next September! Or look up the one in your area because they are not to be missed!


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Volcanoes and water

Max has been very into rocks, minerals, and volcanoes recently. It started with him loving mines (there's the train connection!), then rocks and shiny things from mines, then volcanoes which help make rocks in the first place. His Grandma took him to the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals in Hillsboro, which just made him more excited about it all. He brought home a big mine rock that is his new bath toy.

Well, as Labor Day weekend approached, we decided we had to get in at least one more camping trip, even if we were kind of too busy. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a real live volcano is easy driving distance, but we are, so that's where we headed. Max was completely thrilled to hear that Mt. St. Helens was a real volcano, especially once we assured him it wouldn't explode while we were there.

Packing for adventure. Max chose books, card games, a xylophone, and a bucket of diggers. 
We left and camped Friday night, then spent Saturday learning all about the volcano. Our very first stop was breakfast at Patty's Place. Wow. If you end up anywhere in the area, it's worth the detour. Delicious! We even had to go back on Sunday to try the dinner menu! Yum - definitely get some cobbler.

Next up was the Forest Learning Center. Max loved this place. It has free admission, wonderful views, excellent learning exhibits, a playground, and a small gift shop. We spent several hours here and I learned an awful lot I never knew about the 1980 eruption and the forest recovery since then. Max was practically entranced at parts.

Max getting ready to come down the volcano slide right on Dad's head. 
Learning about pumice rock. It floats!
Some of the amazing exhibits at the Forest Learning Center. 
This was one of his favorites - pretending to fly a helicopter over a big diorama of the mountain and its surroundings. 
Our next stop was the Johnson Ridge Observatory and its breathtaking views of the volcano. This center does have a fee, so we stuck with the paths and views this time. And an ice cream break, 'cause man it was hot.
It's really something in person. Do this: use your fingers along the sides of the mountain to visualize where the peak used to be. That gives you a better idea of just how much material erupted. Don't mind my cute boys in the front. :) 
On Sunday we were ready to cool off a bit, so we stayed closer to camp and rented a pontoon boat from Silver Lake Resort. Those folks there were a pleasure to deal with and have row boats, canoes, and more than one size of pontoon. We went for the little one.
Matt and Max getting our boat ready for adventure. 
We had a beautiful morning out on the water. We took fishing gear, so Matt taught Max the basics of baiting, casting, and reeling. We didn't catch a darn thing except lily pads, but they had a great time. Max fed ducks, I did some knitting, we all had a picnic, and played 20 questions and I Spy.
On the water!
Max did eventually get a little bored, but mom and dad weren't ready to head back, so dad came up with the perfect diversion for a 5-year-old; learn to drive a motorboat! Max was initially a little shy, especially of the noise, but was soon driving like a pro. The only down side? I got to hear, for the rest of the weekend, "I can drive a motorboat, I don't need help with ___."
The driving pro. 
One more night of campfires, s'mores, and sleeping bags, then we headed home. I felt like I came back to even more work than I left, but it was totally worth it. I hope your summer held adventures too!

We have some Tansy Dolls adventures going on too! We'll be at the Belmont Street Fair this Saturday (9/14/2013) from noon to 7pm and we'd love to see you!

Also, Tansy Dolls is entered in Martha Stewart's American Made contest. We'd love your votes! It only takes a few seconds to sign up, and you can vote 6 times a day from now until September 13! Here's the link to vote for Tansy Dolls! We love you guys!