life lately

by Nicole on September 9, 2014

 doing

We’ve been playing a ridiculous amount of tennis lately. I’m talking 4-5 days/week, sometimes even twice a day. We both played in high school, then just off and on afterwards, but the tennis bug has bit us bad this time. I think part of it is because we now realize that we need to exercise, and so if you’re going to exercise, it might as well be doing something super fun, ya know? We’re actually even considering entering local tournaments…

Besides tennis (which really has monopolized most of our time lately), I’ve been knitting (just finished this beret and currently working on this sweater) and doing only a small amount of sewing (working on a Cambie muslin). Darius has been playing lots of cell phone games and watching anime.

listening

Darius discovered Sylvan Esso while listening to NPR’s All Songs Considered. It’s fun and just makes you want to dance. Seriously, try not to enjoy this:

And as always, I have Lana Del Rey on repeat, but this time it’s her newest album, Ultraviolence. Still can’t believe I hated her for so many years, and now I can never get enough.

watching

The third season of Korra just ended, and it was the best yet. The last few episodes are so moving and epic. All three seasons are currently streaming for free.

We saw Mood Indigo for the second time.  Reviews have been really mixed, but I love absolutely everything about this movie. Gondry just makes me happy.

Snowpiercer takes the award for best movie we’ve seen in quite a while (streaming on Amazon). We actually watched it twice in two days because we wanted a deeper viewing. Joon-ho Bong’s films often start out feeling very typical, but keep watching, and you’ll discover the brilliance of his writing and directing.

Oh, and a really fun and ridiculous Bollywood movie, Dhoom 3, is finally streaming on Netflix. You do not need to see Dhoom 1 or 2 before this one, although Dhoom 2 is so silly, I recommend it too.

eating/drinking

Darius is making homemade kombucha now, after purchasing this kit. The verdict so far? Delicious!

I also made my first batch of almond milk. It was a lot easier than I thought, and I’m sure I’ll be making more in the future, especially for smoothies.

With the exception of the projects above, our food has been pretty boring recently. We’ve loved cooking since we first met, and it’s always been our #1 hobby. But lately, neither of us is really feeling it. Food feels much more like fuel now, and just not quite as fun, since it takes away time from the other stuff we’re loving. So we’re mostly doing big preps on Sunday and just eating on that food throughout the week. Two of our favorite recent prep staples are these 5-ingredient granola bars and these grain-free muffins (swapping out the chocolate chips for dried fruits and adding fun extracts and spices).

driving

The lease on our Elantra ended, and this time we ended up purchasing a 2015 Honda Fit. Honestly, it’s pretty ugly (looks like a baby minivan), but it is small, has good gas mileage, and has some neat tech (like back-up camera and bluetooth to play music from our phones wirelessly).

But still, buying a car is freaking ANNOYING, especially for people like us who care very little about our cars and just want them to be reliable. The salespeople kept being like, “Smile! You’re getting a new car today!” and I just wanted to tell them, “I’LL SMILE WHEN I’M OUT OF HERE AND DON’T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT CARS FOR ANOTHER FIVE YEARS. NOW HURRY UP WITH THIS PAPERWORK.” First world problems, amirite?

 

And if you made it this far, you deserve a cat pic (photo of Lentil taken on her 2nd bday)!

a colette moneta for fall

by Nicole on September 2, 2014

wpid-20140821_182710.jpgWhy am I so happy in the picture above? BECAUSE THIS DRESS IS THE COMFIEST THING EVER. The Moneta has been dubbed “secret pajamas” by many bloggers, and it is completely true. I have worn this dress once a week since I finished it, just because it is so. damn. comfortable. It’s actually pretty hot to wear right now, but I’ve been wearing it to work where it doesn’t really matter because, duh, A/C. But really, I made this dress for fall/winter, and I think it will look really cute with tights and boots. Plus, the fabric is super snuggly.

wpid-20140821_182204.jpgI do like how it looks too, although I’m not as sold as I hoped I would be. I do like how the bodice fits, and I hope to make the sweater-hack at some point. But, I’m just not that in love with the skirt. It looks cute when I’m standing still, but as soon as I start walking, the skirt highlights all my “wobbly bits”. I do have a bit of a “kangaroo pouch”, and although I’m not ashamed of it or anything, it’s definitely more prominent when I walk around in this dress. But it could just be the soft, drapey-ness of this fabric, rather than the way the skirt actually fits my body, so I’m definitely eager to make up more versions. Because even if my stomach is extra-jiggly in this dress, COMFORT WINS.

wpid-20140821_182237.jpgI actually found the fabric at Joann when I was there for zippers and thread, and I was drawn to the beautiful color. Upon further inspection, I was surprised at how soft it felt, and what great recovery it had. Plus, it was like $6/yard or something like that because of the never-ending sales at that place. So, it came home with me (and yay, I have enough leftover to give to my awesome sister-in-law to make a onesie for my adorable nephew, Rowan).

wpid-20140821_182343.jpgSo not only is this one of my favorite colors, but it’s also got a hint of glitter to it AND I LOVE ME SOME SPARKLIES. The picture above is the only one that came out where you can actually see the shimmer, so sorry for that super-close-up of my boobage.

wpid-20140821_182315.jpgI really liked the pattern for this dress, and the construction was fun, but a little frustrating at times.

First of all, I thought it was kind of weird that you are instructed to use clear elastic to gather/stabilize the waistline, but not to stabilize the shoulders (unless I totally missed that in the instructions somewhere…). I did stabilize the shoulders on my version.

And speaking of gathering the waistline with the clear elastic… MY MACHINE WAS PRETTY PISSED AT THIS STEP. I kind of had to tug and push at times to get the fabric to go through without being eaten, so there are some parts where it’s not exactly even gathered. It helped when I divided/pinned/stretched in more places than just the four suggested by the instructions, because I could make sure the gathers were evenly distributed, even when my machine was having a freakout.

For the unlined version, you’re instructed to just fold the neckline over and use your twin needle. I did this, but discovered my machine does not like tiny seam allowances on knits and IT WOULD RATHER EAT THEM. So my topstitching on my collar looks kind of horrendous in spots, but it blends in enough that I don’t really care. Next time, I’ll probably use a slightly larger seam allowance there. Or maybe buy a walking foot. Or, I dunno, use the lined version or do a collar or something. Or just be okay with pure mediocrity.

wpid-20140821_182517.jpgUgh, and THE HEM ON THIS THING. I used that Wonder-Under stuff and so it looks pretty good and non-puckery. THE PROBLEM WAS THAT I COULD NOT STOP RUNNING OUT OF THREAD. You know when you’re like, “Hmmm, bobbin is almost out, but I think I can make it”? WELL THAT HAPPENED LIKE FOUR TIMES. I was using my twin needle, and I hate refilling, so I pulled out my teal bobbin and used it as the second twin needle, then put a half-used spool of white for my bobbin since it wouldn’t show anyway. SURELY THIS WOULD BE ENOUGH, RIGHT?!?! WRRRRRONG! First, the twin needle using the teal thread from the bobbin ran out, so I refilled. Then, my white bobbin ran out, so I refilled using more white thread (at this point, I noticed my teal thread was starting to run low). But THEN, my OTHER twin needle, and the rest of my teal thread ran out. I really didn’t want to go to the store to buy more for HALF A HEM, so I dug around in my stash and luckily found something close. Refilled that twin needle. And of course, then, the OTHER twin needle, the one that had already ran out once, ran out AGAIN, and I had to refill AGAIN. It was really annoying. I swear the hem took like an hour because of all that crap.

So yes, this was possibly one of my most annoying makes to date, because it should have been SUPER easy, but was plagued by niggles (ha, I love that word, don’t you). But still, I’ll be making more, and hopefully the future versions will go more smoothly. I know this post sounds kind of negative, but really, I do like this dress a lot, and like I said, it’s been in constant rotation.

Oh, and changes…I only made one, and think the fit is pretty good! When I tried on the bodice, the back was way longer than the front, confirming my suspicions that yep, I have a sway-back. So, I took a big fat wedge out and that fixed the problem. Yay for easy fitting! And I usually like my dresses/skirts to be at or just above the knee, but I like this one longer (didn’t make any changes to the length, but I’m a 5’3″ shorty). I think it makes such a comfy dress look a little more elegant. Which, I dunno, kinda feels weird because I am definitely NOT elegant, but I guess there’s no harm in classing it up a little sometimes.

wpid-20140821_182636.jpgI leave you with the picture above, in which I thought I was doing a cool, serious, model-y face, but in fact look extremely perplexed.

house tour!

by Nicole on August 11, 2014

Welcome to our new house!wpid-20140802_135954.jpgBack in June, we moved just a few miles away from our old house into one of our favorite neighborhoods in Austin–Crestview!

We are already completely in love with our new place. Not only is the house much more our style, but we have fallen even harder for this neighborhood. We have an awesome park half a mile away, and we’re already spent a lot of time there swimming, playing basketball, playing tennis, and throwing a frisbee. One of our favorite casual restaurants (Little Deli) is literally just down the street (.2 miles away!). Several other favorite places are in walking distance too. Moving to this neighborhood has made it much easier for us to live an active lifestyle, since we can walk and bike to so many awesome places.

Also, the people just feel more like US, ya know? We’re both introverts, so we’re not really interested in MEETING any of those people, but it’s cool to feel the solidarity I guess? When you go outside, you actually see people out and enjoying the world instead of never seeing a living soul like in our old neighborhood. There are “free little libraries” scattered throughout the neighborhood. People give away food from their front-yard gardens, and furniture they no longer need. It’s the kind of neighborhood where you just get the feeling that everyone is listening to the same NPR station as you, LOL. So yeah, I guess this is what it means to become a yuppie, but I DON’T CARE.

MOVING ON TO THE HOUSE TOUR!

wpid-20140802_140001.jpgOur front yard has two GIANT agave plants…like 4+ feet tall. It’s always easy to spot our house!

wpid-20140802_140101.jpgWe’ve also got two rose bushes. They are called Belinda’s Dream and they smell incredible.

wpid-20140802_140048.jpgAnd according to our landlord, these are called Wandering Jews…I love the tiny purple-pink flowers, even though they seem to spread like crazy.

So that’s the front yard! If you walk around the house to the left, you see the side-yard. This is where our trash, recycling, and compost bins live. (Yes, COMPOST! This neighborhood is a pilot for the City of Austin’s composting program!)

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Keep walking past that, and you get to the backyard. It is a great backyard, although truthfully we haven’t spent as much time back there yet as we thought we would.

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wpid-20140802_140420.jpgI definitely expect that we’ll eat more meals in the backyard once the temperatures get cooler in fall.

wpid-20140802_140403.jpgThe planter box you see above will be filled with all kinds of herbs soon!

wpid-20140802_140433.jpgAnd even more yard! We plan on putting in a little badminton court over here.

And now for the inside of the house!

wpid-20140802_143207.jpgWe LOVE our kitchen (ignore the mess, please…pictures taken in the middle of Sunday meal-prep). There is a ton of storage, and since there’s so much space, Darius and I no longer bump into each other constantly like we did in our old kitchen.

Not too crazy about that yellow paint job, but we do love the bamboo floors.

wpid-20140802_140548.jpgMy favorite part of the kitchen–the space above our kitchen sink, complete with Adventure Time figurines, cool beer bottles that are now candle holders, an owl stained-glass I bought for $1 at a yard sale, and my miniatures collection.

kitchenThe dining room is on the opposite side of the kitchen (it’s all one giant room). You can see we still had a few straggler boxes when I took these photos. We’ll move the table in here at some point, but for now, it’s pretty much just my cookbook collection, our booze collection, and a freezer.

wpid-20140802_140651.jpgI love the cool wooden ceiling in the dining room! I’d like to replace that chandelier with something more modern, but that’s probably a long-term project because ugh, dealing with electrical stuff.

wpid-20140802_140735.jpgAs you exit the kitchen, you get to the living room, complete with video-game-playing-husband.

Original hardwood floors! And a colorful door! And colorful posters! Most of our walls are painted the beigey-brown color you see above, so we are definitely trying to add as much color as we can throughout the house.

wpid-20140802_140750.jpgWe still need to find some awesome art for above the fireplace. We are considering putting several pieces from Nothing But a Pigeon, but that would get pretty pricey. We want something that will be a definite focal point, but it needs to be whimsical or weird, and colorful to fit our style. We’ll figure it out in time!

wpid-20140802_140918.jpgThis window seat is the back-left corner of the living room. Hasn’t been sat on much by anyone other than our cat, Lentil, but I still like it. I’d love to sew some nice pillows for this space at some point, but let’s face it, that’s pretty low-priority since sewing pillows is boooooooring.

wpid-20140802_140934.jpgThis picture isn’t to show off my foam rollers, but to show the cool tiles on the fireplace! They are really neat-looking, but unfortunately they’re being blocked by our couch at the moment since that position was really the only way we could get the couch to fit nicely. Oh well, maybe we’ll rearrange in the colder months.

Exit the living room and you reach the hallway.

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The first door on the right is what we’re currently calling cat room/storage. It’s intended to be a bedroom, but it’s tiiiiiny. Like, could only fit a twin-size mattress tiny. So, our cat gets her own room instead!

wpid-20140802_141049.jpgCat things.

wpid-20140802_141106.jpgGames and shoes and sports and more.

wpid-20140802_141154.jpgArt supplies and DVD’s and books and video games.

Yep, not much to see in that room yet. Still need to hang several posters/paintings too.

Anyway, on to the bathroom!

wpid-20140802_141004.jpgWe get lots of natural light in here because of the awesome window over the shower. And we bought an awesome bird feeder with a double-sided mirror so that we can watch the birds, but they can’t see us. We’ve mostly seen finches, blue-jays, and doves. It’s a seriously cool feeling to be showering right next to a bird!

wpid-20140802_141018.jpgOther side of the bathroom, complete with “poop” art. Because a house isn’t a house without some toilet humor?

Next room…the bedroom!

wpid-20140802_141425.jpgAs you can tell, this room can get A LOT of light. Pretty awesome during the day, but a little annoying at night.

We keep our bedroom pretty simple and tranquil. All the better to SLEEP in, my favorite thing ever. (And yes, the bed is not made. I don’t believe in making beds. It makes no sense to me.)

wpid-20140802_141403.jpgOh, and when we moved in, we finally upgraded from the full-size bed we’ve had since 2008 to a KING. PURE LUXURY. And we purchased linen sheets from Restoration Hardware, and they are AMAZING. They are perfect for Texas summers–so breathable, drapey, and soft.

wpid-20140802_141840.jpgMy favorite space in the bedroom is the memory jar on our dresser. All year long, we add memories. On New Year’s Eve, we open the jar and relive everything from the past year!

Last stop on the tour… my sewing room! Guest rooms don’t make any sense to me unless you have people over like every weekend, so for us, a spare room equals a hobby room. Luckily, Darius’s hobbies are mostly digital, so his area is the living room (we have our computer hooked up to our TV, so he can do everything from the couch). Which means the spare room is MINE!

wpid-20140802_141526.jpgI’ve got my cutting table on one wall…

wpid-20140802_141658.jpgMy pressing station near the cutting table…

wpid-20140802_141625.jpgAnd my sewing desk/fabric bins on the other wall.

wpid-20140802_141541.jpgThere’s also a closet, where I have a shelf for patterns, books, and my notions stash (in the fabric bags). There’s also storage room for stuff like my knitting and things I plan to refashion at some point.

I had a sewing room in our old house too, and I’d say they are pretty much a “must” for any sewist lucky enough to have a spare room. My sewing didn’t really pick up until I had an official place for it, since it’s so much work to haul everything out and then put it away again when you are sewing in a shared space.

Anyway, that’s the house! We are hoping to live here for the next 3-5ish years, provided the landlords don’t want the house back at any point (they are renting out the house until they can retire here). We really love Austin, but it kinds of feels like once we’re done with this house, we might be ready to explore other cities. I mean, we don’t plan on buying a house (we like the renting lifestyle because we like the freedom of moving often to experience new things), and once you’ve lived in your favorite neighborhood, is there really anywhere else you can explore? Also, we’ve both lived in Austin since 2006, and lived in Texas for most of our lives (all, for Darius), so it seems like it could be nice to have a complete change. Eh, who knows…for now, we’ll just enjoy living in this awesome house!