Saturday, April 30, 2011

Experienced Dance Disappointment

Subtitle: A Whine and a Rant  Read at your own risk.

Experienced Dance in Rehoboth:  The calling by Lisa Greenleaf was superb, the dances were unusual, intricate and fun (I loved the double progression dances) and I was blown away by Perpetual e-Motion.  They rocked.  And yet, I felt shortchanged.  I must be getting crotchety; perhaps I need a break from dancing if this attitude persists...

We had the usual influx of new dancers that show up at any experienced dance.  There were the few who didn't know it was experienced and probably a few that figured "how hard can it be?"   No doubt I was much the same at my first challenging dance.  But even when the dance requirements were announced, people (including some "experienced")  lined up to dance that clearly didn't know what to do.  Yeah.  I know.  That's par for the course.  Unfortunately, the instructions to at least keep moving or get out of the way and come back to swing your partner at the appropriate time fell on deaf ears.

Because despite the warnings to keep moving, I bumped into more than one person standing stock still in the middle of the line.  Dead stop.  And people constantly going the wrong direction.  And people consistently progressing late.  And witnessed a few poor dancers get thrown into flourishes when they were struggling just to keep moving in the right direction.  My partner and I were ejected from our contra dance line twice in one dance because of a woeful combination of inexperienced dancers and experienced dancers that were either overwhelmed or not paying attention.  If it had been just one dance, I'd had shrugged it off as a fluke.  But this?  At Rehoboth?  At an experienced dance?  I must have done something bad to attract that much negative karma because Facebook was full of raves about Friday's dance.  Instead of immersing myself in the rhythm of the music and the pattern of a dance I spent too much of the evening keeping myself in line, compensating for the confusion and ensuring I got to my partner on time.  Made me grouchy.  Its a bad attitude to have at a dance.

I wasn't looking for perfection.  Goodness knows I can rattle off several of my own dancing faux pas from Friday night.  Half of contra dancing is about recovering from the mistakes.  I normally can laugh at all of it.  I guess I'm just disappointed that after all the anticipation for this dance - I didn't walk away with the high I had hoped for.  Bummer.

On a more positive note:  Wow! Rehoboth women are a flirty bunch.  I danced the guy's role in a dance where the woman did a hook maneuver and the men had to follow.  My goodness, gals!  I'd have followed you anywhere.  You made me smile.  I also had some amazing dances with some really delightful partners.  Thank you; you saved me from being a total grump.  I appreciate that!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Saturday Sweets

Rolling orange butter creams (lime green and purple!)

Holy Saturday.  For the last decade or two, that means inviting friends and family over to my place for a day of candy making.

The tradition began long before that, when Mom told my sister and me we'd help out the Easter Bunny and make some of our own candy for Easter.  That was way better than the previous tradition, which usually consisted of spring cleaning my bedroom and other parts of the house....

The spread

Making candy for Easter has changed a bit since its humble beginnings (and peanut brittle that glued your teeth together for 30 minutes).  For the last several years I have had five or six cooks converge in my kitchen and spend the day blending, shaping and dipping sweets.  This year's items were toffee, ginger nut clusters, mint Oreo truffles, paves, peanut butter eggs, orange buttercreams and butterscotch nests.  Delicious!

As you can see, a big focus is chocolate.  The butterscotch nests are the only non-chocolate item in the bunch.  We spend the morning making the centers that will be dipped and the afternoon is mostly concentrated on dipping, decorative work and making nests.

Get a load of decorations!  Usually we just put a squiggle or some dots on the buttercreams or truffles - something either to identify the contents or to make them a little festive. But every one of the buttercreams and truffles had something different.  Smiley faces!  Star-bursts and zig-zags.  Is that a kitty-cat face?  And that last truffle says yum

What a shame we'll have to eat all of these one-of-a-kind works of art.  Not.  I'm pretty sure the Yum truffle is truth in advertising.  I'll need to make sure the insides are as amazing as the outside.

I can't believe how quickly the day flew by.  Three cheers for the cooks!  You gals made it such a successful and enjoyable day.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Pinniped

Pinni making friends at the Fall Boston Pignic
Pinniped is two years old today.  Well... I don't have her exact birthday, but based on the paperwork I got when I adopted her, she was born mid-to-late April.  So today is the date.  I still can't believe I've had her over a year.  I still call her and Bertie the "Newbies."

She's such a fatso.  Lots to squeeze on that pig.  And always so curious.  The nose goes about whenever you're holding her.  She's grown a lot more trusting.  I reached in as if I was going to pick her up (not their favorite thing) and instead just gave her a squeeze.  And she sat there the entire time, letting me pet her afterward.

Pinni is a talker!  She has a faster, shorter wheek than Willow does, so I can tell when she's calling from the other room instead of Willow.  And when they're really impatient for breakfast, they'll sing in harmony.  If I sit with her, she'll burble and chut and tell me all about her day.

Happy Birthday, Pinniped.  I look forward to many more.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

NEFFA - Sunday

I survived NEFFA!  It figures that the day that I had the least amount planned I was the most pulled together.  Except for the camera.... forgot that at home.

We started out with another contra medley.  Much better dances in this one than yesterday's medley.  It made up for the fact the floor was hard on my knees.  After that, we had more contras with Stunt Double playing.  How can you go wrong dancing a contra dance to Cantina Band (from Star Wars)?!?!?  Very fun.

We listened to some Sea Songs and Shanties, then did some more English dancing, a last bit of contra dancing, and watched the belly dancers.  The English was more complicated today than yesterday.  Lots of going the wrong way and laughing on my part.  But there are some really cool moves in English.  It was a lot of fun.

Went home earlier than usual, again.  I just didn't have the endurance as past years.  But I hit a bunch of my favorites and accomplished my goal of trying something new.  That's it for another year.  Woot!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

NEFFA - Saturday

The feet held up, but the head wasn't so good.  We ended up heading home before the hands-six contra session.  Bummer.  I really wanted to do that.

But I danced lots.  Made it to a few contra sessions in the morning, including the contra medley (six different callers, six different dances, all in one no-stop 20 minute dance).  Couldn't miss that!

I took a beginner's lesson in belly dancing, along with a ton of other people.  We packed the classroom.  It was a lot of work to isolate and move certain parts of your body.  I wonder how much of that I'm going to feel in the morning?  Watching the instructor shimmy made me totally jealous.  My hips just don't twitch like that.  She was impressive.  The troupe is doing a performance tomorrow afternoon that I'm going to try and catch.

Did some English dancing.  This is my once-a-year thing.  English country dancing always makes me think of Jane Austin stories - its just so elegant.  Well, except when I dance it.  The calls are slightly different than in contra dancing and when they are the same, they mean a slightly different action.  Therefore, I'm almost always doing something wrong.  So I end up laughing.  A lot.  Not exactly elegant, especially with how I laugh.  But its fun!

And there's skipping.  Whee!

We stuck around to watch a few other ethnic dances, which looked like a lot of fun.  The band would play a song, and people would start forming long, snaking lines and start dancing.  One of them looked line a simple grapevine step.  Others looked complicated - I couldn't figure out what part of the music phrasing they were keying off of.  Also looked like they took a lot of energy.  Which I, at that point, was serious lacking.  I'll need to mark that down as a to-do in another year.

NEFFA - Friday

For my non-dancing friends - NEFFA is the New England Folk Festival Association.  The actual festival is simply called NEFFA as well - a weekend of dancing and music and crafts all rolled up together.  I go primarily for the dancing. 

I volunteered for setup duty, which was a bit crazy this year.  Normally, the setup starts on Thursday in time for the opening on Friday evening.  However, since the Mansfield school was still in session this week, the earliest we could get in was at 2pm on Friday - just hours before the festival began.  Dragged around and put together staging, tons chairs, tables, coat racks.  By the time I got into my dance clothes, I was already sore and tired.  But nothing like a bit of dancing to feel better (well, until I tried rolling out of bed this morning).  Its hard not to dance when music is so high-energy!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Botched Bag

Remember when I totally botched up my tote bag measurements?  I ended up with two pieces of material that were too short to make the tote bags.  Luckily, I had enough material for 3 bags (including some green material for contrasting handles).   So I completed the two for the Scout House auction and set the rest of the material aside for a later day.

That day finally came.  The two miscut pieces were shortened a bit more and became the two sides.  I had another piece that became the bottom and extends up the sides by a couple of inches (if you look closely you can see the double-stitched seam).

I love the green handles.  I wish I had bought more green; I would have done the bottom panel with the green as well.  I think would have looked really cool (and less likely to get dirty).  Maybe I'll do that for a future bag.

I'm also really happy with the bottom-to-side seams.  I doubled them over on the inside (the part in the oval), so there's no raw edges.  I discovered when sewing the first two bags that denim frays just by looking at it!  Therefore, I've tried to leave as few raw edges as possible.  I knew those horizontal seams would get a lot of contact, so finishing them off was a must.  I figured the extra row of stitching would help the strength of the bag, too.

Looks pretty good for something that originally went horribly wrong.  Now I just need to figure out who to gift it to....

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Glory Boxes Sweatshirt

Ta-da!  I think the gold and orange-brown are great colors for the dark green sweatshirt.  If I was to do this again, I might choose colors not quite so bright or a little less contrast. The gold star nearly leaps off the shirt.

Nonetheless, I think it looks pretty cool!  Its got that whole 3D ribbon, Celtic cross look to it, which was the effect I was hoping for when I picked the pattern.

In the end, I hand-stitched it.  Adding temporary white filler pieces during construction worked so well, I decided to try the same to the outer edges.  I sewed on strips, ironed the seams in, and then ripped out the stitching.  It left me with a square block with finished edges.  Wonderful!

I sprayed the back with 606, ironed it in place, and then hand-stitched the edges down.  The hand stitching went pretty slow - I swear baby quilt bindings whip together faster than this.  I repaired a few seams that suffered my overzealous application of the seam ripper when removing the white fabric.  As I was doing the very last bit of stitching I noticed one inside square was a bit more skewed than the rest.  I must not have ironed the adhesive enough and it came loose while I was working it.  Ugh.  I'm sure no one but me will notice the misalignment.  The crafter always sees flaws in their own work.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Glory Boxes

I am working on a second sweatshirt for myself.  The Scroll Sweatshirt was a stretch for me, since I gravitate towards orderly or geometric patterns.  I wanted to be back in my comfort zone with this sweatshirt - a quilt block or three, as I've done in the past.  I stumbled across a pattern called Glory Boxes years ago but have never had an opportunity to use it.  I thought a Glory Boxes block in light colors would look great on the dark green shirt, especially if I cut away the background to let the sweatshirt show through.

At first, I thought I could just sew the pieces together with the blank spots in it, but soon discovered that keeping it square and dealing with extra seam allowances was nearly impossible.  I decided to sew it as a full block, then rip out the seams and cut away what I didn't want (the white pieces).  That has been working well so far.

I am still debating how to attach it to the sweatshirt.  I planned to hand stitch it to the sweatshirt, but I've been having trouble turning under the outside 1/4 inch.  Seams get bulky when dealing with a small block.  So I may cut away the extra seam allowance and zig-zag stitch it to the shirt, like how I sewed the nine-patch blocks above.