Shell Wall Hanging

23 10 2017

A couple years ago I picked up some awesome shells at Cumberland Island and made a bunch into candles (see post here), but I had some cute smaller ones leftover and wanted to put them somewhere they could be seen. So I came across this really plain, cheap shadow box at Michaels and decided to make a display.

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(Forgive the crappy photos; there are all with my cell phone.) I just left them in there for a few months until I got off my butt to work on it.

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This is so easy, you need only a few supplies: the shadow box (obviously), a brush, whatever paint you want, sandpaper, aluminum foil to use as a palette for the paint, and newspaper to protect your workspace. Craft stores sell little $1 bottles of cheap acrylic that would have been perfect, but I didn’t have those and didn’t feel like making an extra trip, so I just used real acrylics (I don’t recommend, waste of money, plus the black tends to dry glossy, which isn’t what you want.)

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I wasn’t exactly sure what color scheme I wanted, so I did a few mock ups in Photoshop (I have green walls). This is the one I decided on.

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So simple! And the final product on the wall:

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So, maybe I went too easy with it because you can see a couple little blops of white paint on the glass. Oops! I probably could get those off. Also, this is after it’s been up for a couple weeks… see the line below the bottom shells? That’s sand/shell particles. I cleaned the shells and brushed them off repeatedly, but still – so FYI you probably will have to open the case and do that a few times.

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Dessert

25 09 2017

The hurricane and residual work chaos threw me off my stride, but I did do this little painting I’ve been meaning to do for some time. Why a fork/knife/crumb-laden plate? Can’t explain it, just wanted to.

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For kicks I took cell photos (the above one is from the crappy cell too) of the progress.

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Pics above are in natural light – ala hurricane power outage.

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Dessert – yum.





B-Day Part 5: Hardy House & Manchester Ruins

30 08 2017

I’m overdue with this final b-day post after spending a week in Pennsylvania (which means more travel posts in the not too distant future!) and then facing the nightmare that is work after missing a week. But…here we are!

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On our way home, we stopped outside of Atlanta near Sweetwater Creek to visit the Manchester Mills ruins. I do love me some old ruins!

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This is also where they filmed a few minutes of one of the last Hunger Games movies…there’s a short scene right at the ruins.

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It’s fantastic to look at, but they do have  fence surrounding it. Frustrating! Also I’m not sure if there are paths or not on the other side of the water (we only had 1 hour there, so not much time to explore). If so, you might be able to get some good reviews of it with the water in front of it.

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We did try to walk around it, and ultimately tried going out on the river rocks, but firstly we weren’t dressed for that, and secondly the river curves away so even if you’re standing out there, I don’t think you can see a lot.

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It’s still a beautiful park even without the ruins….lots of people hiking, bringing their dogs. Peaceful place.

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I just realized I’m doing this post out of chronological order, because we saw the ruins last, and this next part we actually saw back on Lookout Mountain. One evening we had a short amount of daylight left so decided to follow the signs to Cravens House, thinking everything would probably be closed. The house was, but the park itself is open (even at near-twilight), so we could park and walk around. Great place to look down over the city itself. Also, as we started down a path, there’s a really cool old, abandoned house:

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(Sorry for the pic quality here; all I had was my cell phone.) Initially we saw what looked like an abandoned garage, but looking to the left we could see a house behind a fence (with some stone built in – how awesome!).

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I LOVE abandoned old places, and if urbex wasn’t basically illegal (“no trespassing”), I would totally do it. So I wasn’t going to try going in the house, but I wanted to get a closer look.

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Beautiful! Later on I did some research and found out that this is the “Hardy Home,” former home of Richard Hardy (who was mayor of Chattanooga at some point). Couldn’t find a year it was built, but looks like he lived there for some time between 1910-1927. Can’t believe this is just sitting there! Not sure what the park service will do with it, but sadly there looks like some talk of tearing it down.

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It has so much character. Look at this rock/stone storage thing! It’s creepy and cute all at once. Here’s a closer look:

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So neat how they built stuff into the natural landscape.

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Still has an old bird fountain..

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…and another cool/creepy storage thing…We walked around and tried to see the front of the house, but can’t see too well as that area’s gated. Here are the stairs up to the front:

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The base of the stairs feeds into an empty old road – I think some people use it as a hiking path.

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Of all the times not to bring my real camera! Anyway, happy birthday to me – was a great trip all around. Now somehow in between work and more trips, I want to get some new art content on this site (not to mention some Pennsylvania “dark sky park” photos!)





B-Day Part 4: Chattanooga

15 08 2017

Part 4 of 5 – 1 part left! Of course, you can’t visit the Chattanooga area without visiting the center of Chattanooga itself. While I wasn’t impressed with the famous Choo Choo (none of the shops were open noon-ish on Saturday, AND the one restaurant that was open said it was an hour wait for a bagel #areyoukidding), I was impressed with some great treat options and the Aquarium.

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Jellies!!

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The Aquarium consists of 2 huge buildings. One is for saltwater animals and the other is for freshwater. Above is in the freshwater building in the upper area that’s supposed to be like local mountain-type terrain. The saltwater building has the cooler upper area though due to a stingray petting zoo:

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…and a butterfly garden:

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Of course, anytime there are jellyfish, they steal the show. Just a couple out of about 100 shots:

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I’m proud of the next one no matter how grainy it is; this next jelly was incredibly dark – much post processing was needed even with my highest ISO. The orange light you see moves through them looking like an electrical current. It’s the coolest thing ever.

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Outer space jelly.
These buildings are massive –  I mean really massive. You could take pictures for a half a day. We only had a couple hours. Moving to the freshwater building, the seahorse room was my personal favorite, but all my pics there had too much noise. The cute otters came out though:

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And amidst the piranhas and tree frogs are some guys practically out of my backyard:

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And now – switching gears completely: the other highlight – TREATS!!

I had read up on The Hot Chocolatier on Trip Advisor and was dying to try it. Was not disappointed! So worth it! So amazing! Please open one in Jax!!

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It’s a little space right across the Choo Choo and has the biggest variety of hot chocolate options I’ve ever seen, each topped with your choice of homemade marshmallow (!) or whipped cream. Yum!

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Everything was good. Understatement! And, yes, they do have other treats:

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Wanted to try this macaron cake, but was too full; how pretty!

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But here’s the star of the show, complete with giant homemade marshmallow:

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The other good treat place is a bakery called Koch’s that’s been around for years. We were only able to stop on the way out of town, and only had my cell for pics which didn’t turn out great. But they have a great variety of cookies and donuts:

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…and an awesome mural.

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Donut selfie! Anyway, one final set of birthday pics next week. 🙂





B-Day Part 3: Arboretum and Cloud Canyon

8 08 2017

On my actual birthday we stopped by the Reflection Riding Arboretum, which is also on Lookout Mountain, followed by an unplanned but amazing hike at Cloud Canyon State Park. The highlight of the Arboretum is undoubtedly the tree house!

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The rest of the Arboretum I found a little disappointing. Maybe I was expecting too much. They do have an area with animals they are rehabilitating, which is nice, and then the rest of it is mainly this huge grassy area you can do a driving tour around, and they give you a brochure outlining the path with points of note, but the brochure doesn’t always match to what’s there. Anyway, this tree house was fantastic.

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It’s not very big and is really built on stilts over this wetlands area, but the trees run right through it and the architecture – well, just look! Plus it has some cute details…

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The interior is fairly sparse but quiet and peaceful. There’s a little bench-swing and some other chairs inside. I didn’t get a good shot of it, but there’s also some interesting carvings.

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..not to mention some cool stained glass windows.

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I just love the aesthetic of the place!

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One last tree house shot, walking away toward the canoe launch and animals:

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The Arboretum didn’t take as long as expected, but it was around 4:00 I think, so near closing time for many attractions. However, state parks are open til sundown. We discovered Cloudland Canyon State Park not too far away and decided to head there.

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For something unplanned, Cloud Canyon ended up being one of the most memorable parts of the trip. You park up on a mountain (obviously), and immediately come to one of many overlooks on scenes like the one above. I took a ton of shots with my camera and cell and not a single one captures the grandeur of the place (needed a wide angle). You can barely see a waterfall in the bottom left of the picture. The main waterfall attractions are down in the bottom of the canyon – a very long trek!

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Rock formations everywhere! Above, this is pretty early on in the journey. Before we were sweating with burning calves from countless stairs.

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Impressive rocks tower over you as you make the descent. At one point, there’s a fork and you choose – the waterfall to the left is easier to get to, and in my opinion, prettier to look at. People climbing back up from the right side looked like they were about to pass out (to be fair, it was really hot).

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…making our way down to the waterfall on the left (I’ve forgotten its name!)…and here it is, a first glimpse:

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If I’d had a towel I would have loved to have taken my shoes off and gone in the water, even though it says you aren’t supposed to (observe: no one heeding the sign).

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Beautiful!! Next we made our way to the waterfall on the right. You can’t get as close (technically, you can, but you have to go down off a boardwalk so it’s trickier).

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And then back up we go…

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This is just partway. It doesn’t look like much, but according to my FitBit, we climbed 56 floors. Oye! Learn from my mistakes and bring a water bottle. Oh and when you get back to the top (overlook part), go all the way to the right to the furthest overlook – it has the best views!





B-Day Part 2: Ruby Falls and The Lost Sea

31 07 2017

Ruby Falls is just a skip away from Rock City, so you can easily see both on the same day and still have time in your day. The Lost Sea is about 1.5 hours away in Sweetwater, TN, and we saw it a couple days later, but since they’re both caverns, thought one post made sense.

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For Ruby Falls, you park right by the building, go in, and buy a ticket (if you haven’t bought a combined one first) and then at your ticket time, take an elevator down into the caverns to wait on your tour to start. The elevator gets a little packed and is really the only way in/out. Most of your journey to the falls looks like this:

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…fairly dark and narrow, but throughout there are some labeled rock formations and come cool lit up rocks.

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We went on a day when a lot of little kids were there on field trips, and the path is only wide enough for one group to go through (single file) at a time, so it was a little annoying having to press up against a rock wall every few minutes and let people through. Also didn’t give us any time to really stop and take pictures, but that’s because the main attraction is the fall itself. When you’re finally there, it opens into this huge cavern – I mean monstrously high – and your group herds in and waits in almost darkness until the “show” starts where lights and sound bring the falls into view:

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Not a single picture even looks 10% as awe-inspiring as this thing really was. The height is incredible. I couldn’t get the whole thing in a single shot. Here’s the top (interestingly, no one is entirely sure where the water flows from):

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…and here’s the bottom of it:

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The lights kept changing color and were beautiful.

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You just can’t even fathom the scope and height of the place without being there.

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It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. Worth it! Go see it!

Now – for The Lost Sea. While still underground, this was completely different in feel. The caverns are much, much wider and roomier, so you’re never squished walking through it, but they also don’t use the colored lights Ruby Falls does, so the place is more natural in color (albeit not as exciting). Still really cool.

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Your tour starts walking down a yellow passageway, above.

You enter into the huge cavern and take a look at some formations before starting your walk to the underground lake. I will say the part at the beginning was a little alarming, because you walk out on this slightly rusty, narrow, metal walkway suspended high over the bottom of the cave.

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The tour guide will point out interesting things, like these living crystals on the ceiling, below:

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…and these charcoal writings done by people in the cave during the civil war and the decades after:

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.. Down, down you go…

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Stopping by a small waterfall:

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And finally down into the dark pit where the sea resides. It was so dark, my camera had trouble focusing, so I had to use flash for some pictures:

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One thing to note, they advertise glass bottom boats, but with the intense darkness of the cave and the cloudiness of the water (which I think was due to recent rain storms), you can’t see anything through the glass.

The group gets in a boat or two which is taken very slowly around the lake – it’s almost silent it’s so slow. The only light comes from these few white lights embedded just under the water line. Every now and then you can see the shadow if a fish swimming around. The below shot was actually really overexposed so you could see some light!

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It was a cool experience, albeit a little creepy. My favorite photo was taken below on the walk out – little scratches people have made on the dark side of an emergency call box:

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Leaving the caves and going into the sun again is a shock:

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As you can see, the rest of the Lost Sea attraction are a group of buildings outdoors that sell some touristy things, have some food and ice cream, and a glass blowing shop. Cute little place! My favorite were the remnants of an old kids’ train ride out back.

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Both cave attractions were fun and worth it, but very different!





B-Day Part 1: Rock City and Fairyland Caverns

25 07 2017

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For the past 3 – 4 years, I’ve made a point to take some time off at my birthday in May and go somewhere fun. This year it was a blast from the past – visiting a place I last saw at age 4: Rock City on Lookout Mountain! Lookout Mountain shares land with both Georgia and Tennessee and is basically right on the edge of Chattanooga.

Rock City was beyond amazing – not a single picture I took begins to do it justice.

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We got there on a Friday close after opening – which I would recommend. It’s great to have it mostly to yourself before the crowds show up.

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At first it was overcast, and the early morning + height and scope of the huge rocks kept in the cool. Everything had a misty, dewey feel.

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The path works its way around and through rocks, taking you up on outcroppings, under and through narrow passageways… it feels like an adventure.

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Look at the scope! Did not have a proper lens for capturing it. What I don’t show here but did take pics of are the cute labels they have for rock formations like “Mushroom Rock” or the little gnomes set up in random places.

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The few animals were a surprise. A couple deer reside here in an enclosure, and wild chipmunks run around everywhere, usually too quickly to get a decent shot, but I did try:

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The waterfall under Lover’s Leap has a couple great “selfie” spots and a rainbow wall (with glass windows in each color of the rainbow) that you can walk behind. Only got cell phone shots there, and they weren’t great.

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At the top-most area is the lookout over 7 states at once. It’s actually a big area with viewing binoculars and a café.  You then make your way down through more bridges and cavern-like areas with cute names:

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My childhood memories revolved around a part of Rock City called Fairyland Caverns, which you wander into near the end of the path:

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It’s definitely a hold over from decades past (mostly the 30s) when these kind of attractions (specifically the dark park and walk through sites) were big. Well, I still thought it was awesome.

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First, the entrance is decked out in all these crystals (see the one peeking out under the plants above?), and the ceiling is embedded with coral.

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You descend down into the cavern which becomes super dark except for little scenes embedded in the walls of gnome life:

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Above, green light illuminates the path behind us. Then finally you get to the main area with fairy tales depicted in individual cave windows. I took a picture for each but will only show a few here.

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Little Red Riding Hood…and Cinderella:

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My favorite was Snow White:

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It concludes in a large room with a huge castle and other fairy tale characters surrounding it.

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Looking back, I wish I’d taken different lenses because the whole attraction was amazing and so different than anything you see anywhere else. Would def recommend. Even better, you can buy joint tickets to Ruby Falls which is practically right around the corner, and coming up next!





Fitness!… Bleh

16 07 2017

cat walkSo I’ve been on a “fitness journey” this year that involved a successful Couch to 5K but since has not been as smooth (the anemia and 95 degree weather outside do NOT help), so I was drawing a pic about running (with a cat?? I dunno) and then a companion piece about how much I hate it especially compared to other weekend morning options like getting donuts.

So these are really 2 parts of the same scene.  Bleh!

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So I Made a Dress

18 05 2017

Craft time! Somehow I’ve managed to make actually wearable full circle skirts, and that’s about it… but recently I decided to try making an entire dress. With no pattern. And I barely know how to sew. Fun!

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Actually it was kind of fun, and even though it’s clearly a bit ill-fitting, and I had no idea how to do boob darts, I think it looks pretty decent for a 1st try. I mean, I least I can get in and out of it!

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Okay, I’m actually pretty proud of it. I had to do a whole crappy iPhone photo shoot to memorialize my victory in case it starts falling apart down the road.

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I tried to use a much shorter spandex dress I have as a “model”, made a pattern from that and estimated the extra allowance for cotton since it doesn’t really stretch. I didn’t estimate quite right on the bodice’s proportions.
Then I did a 1/2 circle skirt instead of a full, because I didn’t have enough material. You can see – it still moves but isn’t as swishy.

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Well, okay, it’s a little swishy. (Ignore my dumb face pls!)

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Walking away, the back doesn’t look too bad. But up close, you can see that I put the zipper in off-angle (woops) and have excess material. Plus I want to leave the top of the back open so it can close with a bow thing and haven’t gotten to that part yet. (It stays zipped anyway without it.)

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Ack – just pretend like you can’t see that part. Oh, and the other part that doesn’t fit right:

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See how the hip sticks out from the bodice? Ugh. Anyway – I learned a lot and (hopefully) my next dress will fit better. Maybe I’ll get unlazy and actually buy a pattern.

Oh and just FYI this lily pad material came from JoAnn’s in the cotton section – not too expensive!

 





Villain Number One

2 05 2017

I stumbled into the beautiful meme trap that is We Are Number One, and somehow it’s developed into this full-blown adoration of all things Lazy Town and Robbie Rotten. He’s so relatable! The whole show is so cute!
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