You Know it’s Official When…


I’ve been focusing my energy on men’s button down shirts lately. I had just completed a paisley shirt for Artur. It has a red background and large blue, peach, and green paisley swirls. He wore it around and got compliments, and then when his friends learned that I made it, they wanted some too. They wanted to know how much I would charge, Artur told me. “good question!” was my reply.

Artur wanted, for his next one blue with white flowers. As a thank you we went online together and designed labels for my work, which he ordered for me. I had those little “handmade with love” things I had been putting in projects, but these… these would say, “katygo!”

I knew the day would come where I would have to figure out what to charge, though, and to figure it out I had to make a shirt! John, my big brother and newest reader (Hi, John!) just had a birthday, and I made him the shirt above (blue to match his eyes). I had been making him Civil War clothes for years, and it had never occurred to me to make him something he could wear in everyday life (yay music teachers).

It took me 7.5 hours to make that shirt. At $10 an hour, and materials at around $25-$30 that would be $100 a shirt. Next step… find more shortcuts without jeopardizing quality. The labels came just in time to put the first one in his shirt before I mailed it off….

Thanksgiving Eve Pizza

So it was the night before Thanksgiving and Artur and I were craving mulled wine. After consuming the entire warm and spicy bottle we got brainstorming about pizza and came up with a plan. You see, we wanted tomato sauce and white sauce. Artur also wanted the olive oil and garlic on top of the cheese instead of under to make the cheese gooier. We also wanted lots of basil on it, seeing as neither of us had additional toppings.

So… a little tipsy I started this endeavor. After setting the dough to rise I realized I had forgotten to add the oil. I, also was too hungry to let it rise for too long, and so after only 15 minutes I pressed it and stretched it out. It made for a nice thin and sticky crust. Next came the tomato sauce, and then all I had was buffalo mozzarella so that’s what I used. It smelled amazing and was already gooey. Putting it on was like doing a pizza finger painting. Nothing like a mess you can eat! I had sautéed some garlic in oil which I drizzled all over the top, and threw it in the oven for 10 minutes at 500 Degrees F. When it came out I sprinkled fresh basil all over that bad boy, and the two of us ate the entire thing.

Seeing as we were both under the influence I didn’t know for sure if the pizza was as good as I remembered until last night when I recreated it. We ate the entire thing again. The oil free crust makes for a real thin and crispy vehicle for the pizza paint on the surface. One of the best pizzas I’ve ever made. We ate it too quickly to take a photo. Maybe next time we will practice restraint.

Step #3 Make a Baby…


Quilt. I found out that my cousin was going to have a baby, and I wanted to make a baby quilt for her future little boy. My mom and I, one summer, spent hours making quilts for an unplanned pregnancy center in NY. She and I both had a lot of unfinished projects and scrap material, and so we decided to try and finish them all and use up as much scrap fabric as we could, while simultaneously supporting new parents in the area.

Since then I have found great joy in throwing together a baby quilt for anyone I know who is expecting. My family was so excited to hear that my cousin and her husband would be starting this new adventure, and I wanted to share with them a quilt, which not only represents my love for them, but also is a reminder of my mother.

Step #2: Take a Class

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The first day I lived in Berkeley I went into Stonemountain and Daughter and learned that they offered classes, and picked up a flyer. I picked up every flyer that came out and highlighted the classes that I wanted to take, and each time either time or money wasn’t on my side, until I decided that it was time for me to make it work. I signed up for the “how to make a perfectly fitted pair of pants class”

This class took place over six consecutive Thursdays, and every single one of them was amazing. There were five of us in the class, and instead of working from an existing pattern we decided to work from our own measurements only, drafting patterns on dot paper. For years now I have wanted to develop pattern making skills, and finally I was doing it. In the first class, I nearly cried three times, so grateful was I for the opportunity and for the knowledge that I was given the chance to learn. Passion = Tears, and sometimes we do not cry enough. My suggestion to anyone of any age, take a class, it will open more than doors.

After making two pairs of practice pants, three patterns with adjustments, and one practice pocket. I was ready to cut into my 1/2 off summer weight pendelton wool. The pockets made the front baggy and the waist band was too big, but I put buttons on the pockets to hold the front flat, and added synches to the sides, and they are beautiful!

Only one question left….. what class to sign up for next…

Step #1: Quit Your Job


So…. New Years Resolutions are made for breaking, right? Seriously, who has ever kept one? So here I am ten months later picking up where I left off. Since then I’ve lost a job, gained a job, quit a job, and been sewing the whole time. Around January Artur noticed that his shirts were all falling apart; old age and use. He said that he would have to go to the Goodwill to get some more. Him being a craftsman, however, I knew that he would appreciate a handmade shirt. For Valentine’s Day I completed his first surprise button down. It fit him perfectly, but then he washed it. And I had been in such a hurry that I hadn’t prewashed  the material, and so his first shirt is now mine… (always prewash your material)

He loved it though and commissioned two more from me, immediately. He wanted them longer to tuck them in, and he wanted a wider collar. Also he wanted a contrasting material for under the cuffs, collar, and inside the pocket. No problem. He trusted my judgement on materials and I got them to fit him perfectly.

I’ve now completed four shirts total for him, and he wants more!!! Thank, god I have more time now to devote to my craft.

New Years Revolutions!


Happy New Year!!! New years resolutions always seem like a good idea, and never seem to come to fruition. Mine this year is to do everything. By this I mean that I have many interests. Most of the time I end up focusing on only one or none of them at all, because I am overwhelmed by the possibility of doing so many things. I need to stay calm and remember to work all of them into my life. Also, I am not going to turn down offers for adventure, and I am going to create opportunity for adventure. Catch phrase for the year, “When in doubt go out.” Thank you, Quinn and Artur!!! It is going to be a fun, creative, busily relaxing year, and I can’t wait!  (Oh… and also, I am going to write in my blog more often…)

Sexy Mermaid Fabric

B3GTA2hCUAEqWaHSo, there was this really amazing pin-up girl mermaid fabric at Stonemountain and Daughter. I noticed it my first time in there about a year ago, and have been trying to come up with something to make out of it.

I thought about curtains for a while, but decided that might be too much for the neighbors. I thought about a sun dress for a bit, but after perusing patterns, still, I think it would be too much. Besides these are approximately 6″ Mermaids we’re talking about, here. And well endowed. I fear, that it would be impossible to even fit a whole one in the bodice sections, even if I wanted to,

I had drawn a sundress on the white board in our kitchen, and told everyone that that was what I was going to make. I went into the shop to find a pattern similar to work with, when lo and behold, I found one that matched the one I wanted to make perfectly! In mermaid print, though, I don’t think so. I did find a beautiful cotton, though with the weave green, and the weft, red. It had a bit of shine to it too, like it was a little polished. Perfect for a sun dress.

While the lady was cutting it for me, last minute I turned around and grabbed the mermaid fabric from behind me, and I asked for two yards of it. I told her I didn’t know what I was going to make, but I needed some of that fabric before it was all gone.

When I got home I showed the roommies that fabric I had romanticized about. They agreed that it was AMAZING and that I needed to make something out of it. And I will…

Banana Cream Pie

I have this banana cream pie recipe. It was my Great Aunt Obi’s. I know that my Grandmother made it from time to time, and I know that it was one of Jean, my sister’s, favorites (Hi, Jean! She’s one of my most avid readers!). Anyways, the roomies have been after me to give it a go.

I’ve never made banana cream pie before. Bananas are not exactly my favorite. I will occasionally buy them. I like them when they’re a little unripe, but I don’t like carrying them places or storing them anywhere. The banana smell just overpowers everything, and then I don’t want to eat it. Also, sometimes, after I eat bananas I get a stomach ache.

I was, however, able to put my prejudice aside, and give banana cream pie a chance, and let me tell you, it’s pretty darn good! Somehow, being smothered in homemade vanilla custard, and cradled in a perfectly browned pie crust with a blanket of meringue on top makes bananas 100% tolerable.

I have had trouble with meringue shrinking in the past. I’ve tried a couple different recipes with specific mix times and lots of ingredients like cream of tartar, and dashes of salt. They have all equally shrunk away from the edge despite spreading it all the way to the crust. On my Aunt’s recipe, however, she just wrote, Meringue: 3 egg whites and 6 tablespoons of sugar. No instruction. Just that. So I decided to do it her way. I beat the three egg yokes until they started to be frothy, then I started adding the sugar slowly and beat it until it was glossy, and starting to get stiff. I then spread it over the bananas and custard, and made sure to spread it all the way to the edge. I put the pie in at 400F for 8 minutes. Perfect.

Cornucopia in need of Consumption

CIMG3064So we have way too much food. It started when two of my housemates signed up for a weekly CSA from one of the local organic farms. They quickly found that it was too much food for the two of them so they invited the rest of us to join. There are now five of us sharing in this CSA, and we were doing ok, but then the food in our garden began to ripen. We have so many fruits and vegetables. We can’t keep up.

I have been trying to eat some of the fruits and veggies every day. Even if its just a little bit of onion in my eggs, but there is a lot of food that I’m unfamiliar with cooking. I make pizza a lot, and I make tacos. I put peppers, onions, and garlic in a lot of what I make, but that wasn’t enough. I started reading cook books and anything which called for vegetables we had, I book marked.

The most recent adventure was emailed to me by one of my housemates, inspired by my habit of making pizza. It is an eggplant focaccia.  Basically it’s pizza dough topped with olive oil, eggplant slices, cheese and basil. To zazz up the olive oil I sauteed some garlic in it and then strained it out. It just lightly flavored the olive oil like garlic so you can taste it but it doesn’t give you dragon breath. Josh taught me that trick.

You drizzle the oil over the dough once its rolled out, and then sprinkle half of your cheese on. Then layer on the eggplant, which has been salted to draw out some moisture and then patted dry. Drizzle with more olive oil, the rest of the cheese, and fresh basil. Bake at 500 degrees F for 10 minutes, and you’ve used a whole eggplant!




photo-1NormCore- Normal/Hardcore. This term was first mentioned to me by a Teva Rep. at work. He said that models were wearing Teva sandals on the NYC runways, and that fashion magazines were featuring Teva sandals for summer. NormCore is basically wearing comfortable practical clothes instead of high fashion, which makes it even more hilarious that its on the runway.

I’ve come to realize two things about this new fashion trend. Number one is that as I look at pictures on the internet of examples of it, it is basically Berkeley, CA fashion. Everyone here wears their summer skirts and dresses with leggings and sport sandals or even better, running shoes. Men wear Chacos with their nice jeans and button downs to the office. People wear what’s appropriate for mobility, weather, and comfort, and everyone accepts it.

The second thing I’ve come to realize with NormCore, is that the fashion world has finally caught up with me. The other night I went into San Francisco to see Blood and Dust play. Full band. Amazing show! A beer called Poppy Jasper! And what was I wearing? The shirt from my last post, a sweater I’ve had since 7th grade, bermuda length hiking shorts, and Teva sandals. Was I comfy? Absolutely! Was my outfit appropriate? Yes. Did I get hit on? Indeed. Side note; I also wore my backpacking watch (big honker), and a lady at the bar was so impressed by it she asked me if it could fly.

In my opinion this is exactly what fashion should be; comfy, creative, practical, and fun. A little bit of confident, who cares?, goes a long way. I thank NormCore for validating my choices at the same time I would still be dressing this way even without the NYC seal of approval.

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