Wining Wife®

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Month: March 2015

Please, Keep Your Insecurities to Yourself

Being a total diva in my dressToday’s post was going to be titled “Versatile Skirt/Dress Made from Sew Cheeky Fabric’s Retro Doodle knit” or something to that effect.  I sewed up this great dress that can also be worn as a knee-length skirt or midi-length skirt depending on my mood. I did it without using a pattern – go me! And wahoo – not only did it come out well – I LOVE it. 

So, I did what any person would do – I had my husband conduct a photo shoot. He’s become quite adept at getting photos of me. And before you think this is a post where I’m saying,  “I don’t look good, build me up,” let me stop you there. I look freaking awesome in this dress/skirt. We had a lot of fun. I felt like such a goof coming up with my props – but I LOVE how the pictures come out. I look beautiful, and very diva-like in the dress, fun and playful in the knee-length skirt, and cute in the midi-length skirt. I was stoked, and I posted the pictures on my personal Facebook page. 

Now, I’m well-past the age where I need outside validation to know that I look good/that I’m cool/ that whatever. I couldn’t give a flying rat’s hind end whether someone likes me or something I make. So that’s not why I’m writing this now. I’m writing this because there are many other women – those who never take pictures with their kids  (and many who are far smaller than I), those who starve themselves even though there’s no weight left to lose, those struggling with medical issues of very sorts, and those who have had lifelong struggles with weight and body image – there are ALL KINDS OF WOMEN who might post something similar, and who, instead of standing up for themselves, may delete the images they’ve posted, and retreat into the background, hiding their body from further criticism or comment.

So what was the “offending” thing that happened when I shared my fabulous sewn creation?  Someone, a person I’ve not met in person, but whom I know through another person close to me, took it upon herself to recommend that I “like” a Facebook page dedicated to low carb and high protein eating. 

You know? I’d already had so many “likes” on my pictures and posts across the places I’d shared. I get that posting pictures of myself full-bodied and confident does open me up to possible criticism, and I’m good with that. It wasn’t even that such a suggestion hurt my feelings. No, it pissed me off. 

You see, there are a lot of assumptions with a recommendation like that. One is that I don’t like how I am currently. Another is that I want advice on my weight that my doctor couldn’t give me (my doctors have never mentioned my size as a concern to them, by the way. That’s because on paper, I am extremely healthy, healthier than I was, actually, when I was 22 years old and a size 00 would hang loosely from my bony, too-thin body. By the way, when I was that tiny? People kept telling me to eat a sandwich. Sigh. Is a woman’s weight EVER off the table for others to comment on?). A third, more shady assumption is that I just couldn’t possibly actually be happy with my body the way it is.

Here’s the thing, though. I think that this person meant well. She probably really thought she was “helping” me. I think it was coming from a place of her own insecurities. It was a way of her saying “If I were your size, I’d want to look for this solution.”

However, I rather like my body. Here are many reasons why I like this body I have.

  1. I’m a corporeal being. I rather like having a body. If I didn’t, I don’t know that I’d exist. I mean maybe I would be chillin’ in the spiritual realm watching over my family, but my body allows me to do things. I can interact with the world around me. 
  2. My body has nurtured life, twice. It is the body belonging to the mother of my two, very awesome children.
  3. This body has allowed me to build houses with Habitat for Humanity. 
  4. This body has allowed me to hug those who needed hugs – even strangers who were hurting.
  5. This body is STRONG. 
  6. This body has completed several 5K races. While I haven’t participated in one since Little Miss was born, it’s something I want to do again to help raise money for various causes.
  7. This body allows me to get from point A to point B. 
  8. This body survived domestic violence, emotional abuse, and other trauma.
  9. etc.

The list goes on and frankly, you don’t need to know the reasons why i love my body the way it is. You need to know the reasons you love your body the way it is. It’s uniquely yours. It allows you to do all the things you enjoy doing. You, dear reader, are beautiful. I know that sounds like mumbo jumbo hippy feel good crap – but it’s true. We get so caught up in what everyone else thinks or might think or may possibly think about us, that it’s hard to see ourselves through all of that. 

My husband is my photographer (every once in a while Tiger Boy will step in and take a picture or two in his place). That means, the person on the other side of the camera is someone who loves me and who thinks I’m absolutely beautiful as. I. am.  When he takes photos, and I look through them, it’s kind of like seeing myself through his eyes – particularly when I go through the photos and he comments on the ones he likes. Even without him, in those times I try to capture selfies, I find that I rather like what I see – a lot of the time. Now, I’m not perfect. There are times when I don’t feel so great. There are times when someone suggesting a weight loss page could really sting… and that’s why I’m writing this.

In a world where so many women do not take photos with their children because they’re “too fat” or have a pimple or aren’t dressed right, why the HELL would anyone be so stupid and irresponsible as to recommend such a page to any woman who did not specifically ask for advice on weight loss methods or diets? Would you say to someone’s face, “Oh hey, have you heard of Weight Watchers”, right after she said to you, “Look at this fabulous dress I made! I feel so great in it!”? 

On that note, I’ll say to you, look at this fabulous dress/skirt I created. I love it, it’s comfortable, and I think I look amazing in it – especially when I’m wearing it as a dress. I made it using So Cheeky Fabric’s Retro Doodles. I was sent a yard of the fabric’s strike off to review. It was really easy to sew with, it’s stretchy in a good way,  I didn’t use a pattern. Instead, I made it based off my waist and hip measurements (and incidentally my upper bust is the same). I cut the waistband out and sewed it up and hemmed it. It was a really quick sew – partially because I kept the “pattern” simple, but also because the fabric is both beautiful and easy to work with. Here it is. I have three different “looks” I created, and I was goofing off in the back yard while hubby was taking pictures. 

Look 1: “Saturday Morning Farmer’s Market” 

The sweater is Old Navy, tank top is from Gap, shoes are Monolo Blahnik.

Look 2: Coffee Shop Bookworm

Okay, so I’m not *in* a coffee shop. But still 😛 Top is oh gosh, I don’t know. I think I got it from Kohls years upon years ago. The shoes here are also older, I think from Target, actually. The sweater is super-vintage. I’ve had it since I was 16. It belonged to my grandmother before then. There’s one more “look” after this, and you don’t want to miss it.

Look 3: Full-on DIVA

My favorite. The cardigan is older, from Fashion Bug (I actually got it and a couple of tops and some jeans after doing a fashion show as a plus-sized model several years back while still in grad school). The shoes are Gucci.

And so, my lovelies, keep on keeping on. I’m going to head off and snuggle a cute baby. 

Bow Back Beauty by Little Kiwi’s Closet

Little Kiwi's Closet Bow Back BeautyRecently, I had the opportunity to test out Little Kiwi’s Closet Bow Back Beauty. I was assigned to make 2 bodysuit options in the 6-12 month size. I chose a smaller size, because Little Miss is tiny! She’s such a peanut. I figured, based upon the measurements that it would fit better than the twelve month size, and I was right.

Originally, I had planned on sewing with fabrics I’d had in my stash, however, Wining Husband and I made a trip to our local Salvation Army. While we were there, I saw a great red and cream print shirt. I knew that shirt had to be upcycled into this little project. I found a matching cream cardigan, and grabbed those. The second option with long sleeves was made from upcycled turtlenecks snagged during the same trip. 

Sewing the Bow Back Beauties

I eagerly cut up the shirts so that I had my pattern pieces, and I began assembling the bodysuits. They have envelope necklines – which aren’t too tricky, but you do want to make sure you baste well and sew slowly over the bindings that are meant to be tucked under the sleeve fronts. It’s a great advanced beginner/intermediate pattern, and while I think that a beginner could handle it, I think a little experience with a project or two beforehand would be beneficial. 

Always, always, always change your needles

GAAHHHH!!!!I’m a bit of a fanatic about this, generally, and I was changing my needles – but the knits I used for this required a 65 instead of the usual 75 ballpoint I have on hand. After running out to get the proper needles for the project, I solved the problem in the picture you see to the left. Seriously, a new ballpoint in a smaller size was all it took to keep me from screaming at my machine in a rage fit.

Long sleeve one-piece shirt with peplum

The first bodysuit I made used two turtlenecks – one had blue, gray, silver glitter, and pink stripes, the other was a pink that matched the stripes. I really love how this came out.The fit, even though it’s a 6-12 month is a little loose in the back – but honestly, I like the way that the back drapes on her. When she sits, it pulls taught, but in a comfortable way. Like I said, the most difficult part of this pattern is sewing the sleeves on. When it came time to attach the peplum to the bodysuit (when I tested, the alternate instructions were not available yet), I put the bodysuit on Little Miss, and then marked about where I wanted the peplum to sit. I the removed it, turned the peplum inside out, and slid it onto the bodysuit upside down, so that the edge of the peplum lined up just under my mark. I pinned it in place, stretched the suit slightly to align with the skirt, and voilà, done. I hung it up and noticed that somehow, somewhere, my stripes on the peplum moved and were off-center. Because you know how much I LOOOOOOVE seam ripping, I decided that I was okay with the off-center look and that a flower would go above it. Perfect. Love the way this one turned out. (More about bodysuit 2 after the image gallery)

Bodysuit # 2 – red and tan

This bodysuit was much more of a challenge. The fabrics I used were really slinky and slippery. Originally, I thought I’d leave the peplum off on this one. I cut it anyway “just in case.” Because I was upcycling shirts, I accidentally cut the circle across a seam – even though I’d checked it three times to be sure that wasn’t the case.  So…I did what anyone would do when I decided that I did, indeed , want the peplum. I cut the seam off, following the curve of the other side. I also was going to do arm bands on a sleeveless version – but, I decided that it wanted short sleeves. In fact, it needed short sleeves, so that’s what I did. I placed the peplum on with the shorter part on one side, and the longer on the other, so it would create a waterfall effect. For the pictures, I styled it over a Joe Fresh tutu and with Converse baby sneakers. I LOVE both so much. I’m already thinking about doing a third – the full dress version with the high low skirt that comes in Little Kiwi’s Closet’s Bow Back Beauty pattern. The pattern is for sizes NB-14. Designer Lydia Persson really amazes me with her talent.

Bahama Mama Colorblock Tankini Top & Boyshorts from Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop

Recently, I had the opportunity to test for Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop. I’ve wanted to do a swimsuit for a while, and I have a collection of swim fabrics built up, but I was nervous since swim fabric can be  a challenge. When I was offered the chance to test a swimsuit, I jumped at it. Not only would it mean that I would get to make a new swimsuit, but it meant I’d have a deadline to do so.

Getting started with the Bahama Mama Swimsuit

Getting to sewing was a challenge. We had a mishap in the kitchen, Wining Husband was swamped with work, Baby Girl decided that sleep is something that toddlers just don’t do, and Tiger Boy was a giant ball of pre-spring break stress. Add to that indecision about fabric to order from Fabric Fairy (I never did) and forgetting to order the bra cups form Wawak sewing supply…and well… sigh I was a mess.  A mombie mess.  But, I knew I had that stash of swimsuit fabrics, so I gathered them together and looked at them.

None of them “went” with each other. My best bet was to choose one and then go with that. I picked out this gorgeous blue fabric I had, and figured I would pair it with brown and do white facings and straps. The fabric was one of those great thrift store finds – and it is definitely vintage. The swimsuit doesn’t use up a whole lot of fabric, so I figured I’d go with that and be able to use the fabric to make something else. I cut everything out, and I was ready to go. I was a bit nervous, since my measurements are 50-44-53 and I wasn’t sure whether the shorts would fit okay or not. I just cut and kept my fingers crossed.  After all, it was a pattern test, and well…yeah.

Working with swimsuit knit

So, my sewing machine wanted to eat the lining fabric. I used power mesh to line the suit. Let me tell you – sewing machines think that this is like a delicacy. Soooo instead of just using my usual crepe streamer under the knit fabric trick to stabilize it, I had to turn to regular paper – because yeah. The fabric is thin and veeeery stretchy. 

I finished the shorts in a very short time – yay! They were easy. Well, once I got my fabric to work with me, they were easy. Then I started on the top. The top also goes together really simply. I changed out my needle to be sure I had a fresh ballpoint in there since the thread was breaking….I had perfect, beautiful seams… when DOH!

Have I told you how much I hate ripping out seams?

So, there I was, staring at my top, thinking, gosh…I know I’m big but I’m not THAT big. It was really big. It took me about 5 minutes before a wave of panic came over me. Did I cut the side panels right? I checked the PDF instructions. 13 centimeters, 5 inches wide. Crap. Crap, crap, crap. I cut 13 inches across. I checked the pattern to be sure that it was in fact a user error and not in the pattern. Nope. This is what happens when I’m cutting quickly in between play time with Baby Girl and serving dinner. I cut the darned thing waaaaay too big. So…I ripped out the beautiful seams.

I hate ripping out seams – particularly on knit fabric. It takes so long. Plus, I think I need a better seam ripper. Do you have a recommendation? Please! Share it with me in the comments. Mine seems to be dull…and it tears fabric terribly. There *has* to be a better way. And yes, I’ve seen the ball-down video. I’ve tried it.  Doesn’t work with my ripper.

I made it work, Andre

Sorry, I can’t help but refer to my favorite season of Project Runway when I think about making do. I ripped the seams out, cried over it. Pulled out the gathering stitch, cut the pieces down to five inches wide, got the seam stuck in the machine, because at this point I was sewing frustrated, yelled at the machine, put the swimsuit top on time out, pouted, finished it, and tried it on. It was perfect. I put it to the side so I could get photographs in the morning outside. You know…with the sun and all.

Tragedy strikes

2015-03-18 09.20.34The next morning, I grabbed my camera and my teenager (Wining Husband was out of town). I went to change while he got things set up. I put on the top. Then, it happened. From the hem, extending upward to the neck through the chest, I got runs in my beautiful blue fabric. It wasn’t as though the suit were too tight and that happened, The top fit pretty well. Perfectly, in fact. And I’d used a ball-point needle sewing, so it wasn’t like a sharp had pierced it. And, well I used zig-zag stitching, went slower than I otherwise would, and I had a fresh needle. So, I don’t know. My only guess is that when I was cutting the pattern out, I’d managed to catch some of the weft in it with my scissors and that’s what sparked it. As it was, the top was completely unwearable. It could also have been that the fabric is an older fabric, and so it just didn’t want to cooperate with being swimwear. I’ll salvage what I can from it, and upcycle it into something for Baby Girl.

Swimsuit top redux

So, I was looking again at my fabrics. When it dawned on me. I had this really cool orange and brown patterned swimsuit fabric I bought from JoAnn’s a couple of years ago thinking I’d turn it into a tank top to wear with denim. I never got around to it, and I’d had it freshly washed from thinking I might use it in a different project. Well, it got used in the suit – and I have to say, I think it came out even better than the blue and brown suit did. 

The verdict on the Bahama Mama Color Block Tankini and Boy Shorts

This was my first swimsuit that I’ve ever made. That said, I think it’s a great project for someone who hasn’t done a swimsuit before – particularly for getting used to sewing with swim fabric. The fit on both the shorts and the top are great. I think it looks awesome on. The XXXL fit perfectly. Ann at Peek-a-Boo Patterns did a great job designing it.

Both patterns are marked down 15% and you can save another $3 with the code “BAHAMA” at checkout




Volcanica Coffee Costa Rica and Amaretto Blends (And Giveaway!)

Oh boy have I been wanting to share this with you.  I recently was able to taste-test two of Volcanica Coffee’s blends. If you haven’t tried this company, you should. They are quite good. I was provided with a credit toward one pound of coffee and shipping; I decided I would try two of their flavors and shell out a little bit of cash from my own pocket to try the second. The first was the Costa Rica Coffee and the second was the Amaretto.  Since I love coffee even more than I even love wine (I think my blood is 85% caffeine – HAH!), I was really excited that the company approached me to try some of their flavors.

A little bit about Volcanica Coffee

Volcanica Coffee  grows their coffee beans “on rich volcanic soil producing an exotic gourmet coffee with a smooth and rich flavor.” They offer many Fair Trade (vital), organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified, and Shade Grown varieties of coffee. Prior to working with them, I hadn’t heard of their brand, but i was happy to learn more though their website and through partnering with them. They roast their beans fresh prior to shipping, so that they arrive with a wonderful aroma.

One of my favorite smells in the world is coffee, and the bags did not disappoint when the arrived! They work hard to pay the farmers a fair share – which appeals to me, since I support ethical companies and Fair Trade companies when it comes to coffee and chocolate. Both coffees were ordered whole bean, and we ground them using a burr coffee grinder just before brewing.

**The links in this review are affiliate links. Should you click on them and make a purchase, I will receive compensation. However, all opinions expressed concerning the quality, like always, are my own. I enjoy sharing cool stuff I find with my readers.*

The Costa Rica Coffee

Volcanica Coffee

The Costa Rica Coffee is one of Volcanica’s most popular blends, and so I thought it would be a good one to try. It’s Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance Certified, and Shade Grown. It’s a medium roast – but not lacking on flavor. It’s grown in the mountains in Tarrazu. According to the website description, because it is grown at a high altitude and in volcanic soil, the cherries mature at a slower rate, making them more flavorful. 

We made the Costa Rica Coffee using a French press to help really bring out the nuances in flavor. Although I’m normally a sugar and milk kinda gal, I abstained from adding either to my tasting of the coffee. It had a wonderful nutty aroma. Upon tasting, I found hints of chestnuts, and even a molasses-like flavor to it. It was definitely medium-bodied and very smooth but with a full flavor. Wining Husband usually prefers dark roasts, and he’s not too big on “flavored” coffees. He liked this one as well. There was a hint of smoke and ash in the flavor – presumably picked up from the terrain where it was grown. It also had a black cherry finish. I have to say, that even though I’m an habitual adder of sweet and milk to my coffee, this roast did not need either to pack a punch.

The Amaretto Flavored Coffee

I happen to love flavored coffees. I was a little nervous when Wining Husband went to taste this one with me, because as I mentioned, he’s not a big fan of flavored coffees. Each of the flavored coffees offered by Volcanica is roasted just prior to shipping. That means that the coffee is super-fresh when it gets to you, a good thing. They also don’t add any sugar or additives or chemicals to their flavored coffees, which is a huge plus for me. I’m super sensitive to various chemicals and preservatives, so a company that sticks to natural ingredients gets major kudos in my book. So, when I ordered Volcanica’s Amaretto Flavored Coffee, I was really excited for it to arrive so I could try it out.

As with the Costa Rica Coffee, we brewed the amaretto flavored coffee in the French press and enjoyed it unadulterated. It had a wonderful nutty aroma, and I could pick up the hints of amaretto on the nose. Like the Costa Rica Coffee, it was medium bodied and smooth – but without loosing the flavor. There was a slight oily quality to the coffee, and it was easy to pick up the amaretto flavor. This would be a great coffee to serve with dessert – particularly one that had some amaretto in the whipped cream. (Hmmm…ideas!)

Win a credit toward your Volcanica coffee purchase

I have three $30 purchase codes to give away to three lucky readers. You just have to answer a simple question: Which of Volcanica’s Flavoured Gourmet Coffees would you pick for your morning cup of coffee?  The giveaway runs from 3/17/2015-3/25/2015 at midnight

In the meantime, I also have a special deal for you. If you make a purchase from Volcanica Coffee and use the code “WiningWife” between now and March 31st, you’ll receive an extra 15% of an order of $40 or more.  Don’t forget to enter using the Rafflecopter and share with your friends! 

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wine Notes: 1995 Mavrodaphne

Opening a 19 year old bottle of wine from Greece 1995 MavrodaphneThis is one of many tasting notes I’ve been wanting to share with you for a while.  Unfortunately, I put my tasting notes in one of those “safe” places and uh, just located them a couple of days ago. Following teething shenanigans from Baby Girl and a lot of great client work, I’m now able to get back to a wine post – yay!

Guess when we opened this 19-year old (at the time of drinking) bottle of wine? Christmas! We thought it would be the perfect finish to our Christmas dinner. We enjoyed it with Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for pear crisps with vanilla brown butter.  It was spectacular.

15 year old Mavrodaphne

So first, a little history about the wine. Wining Husband, once upon an undergraduate career, was a classics major. He went to study over in Greece. He came back with some Greek wine. This is one of those bottles. He had it in his personal cellar when we met, and he’d been saving it for a special occasion. Well, this past Christmas was such an occasion. 

What is Mavrodaphni? 

Mavrodaphne (also spelled Mavrodafni) is a sweet, port-like dessert wine. This appellation is probably the best-known coming out of Greece. It’s grown in Petras, and it’s one of those heavily produced wines. That means that while you can find some very good Mavrodaphni (just as you can find some very good Chardonnay or Merlot) you can also find some very bad Mavrodaphni. The bottle Wining Husband had of this fortified wine happened to be very good. 

About Achaia Clauss

Wining Husband visited the Achaia Clauss winery while in Greece. It is one of the older wine companies, first founded in 1854. Gustav Clauss, the founder, began by making wine for himself and his friends, before he built the winery in 1861 and began bottling Mavrodaphni wine in 1873. Since then, they’ve become the largest producer and exporter of Greek wines.

1995 Achaia Clauss Mavrodaphne Tasting notes

We filtered and decanted the wine, since it had a lot of sediment in it. It had a lovely, rich tawny color to it, only enhanced as it aerated through the filter. There was a hint of maraschino cherry on the nose. Upon tasting, it was quite sweet – and full-bodied. This was a very creamy wine. It had a plum/prune finish that was a nice balance to the sweetness. After swirling the wine, you could smell the heat on it – this was definitely an alcoholic wine. It had aged very well, and you could still pick up the vanilla nutmeg, and cinnamon in the wine. 

Where to find Mavrodaphne in the U.S. 

You may find this varietal in some Mediterranean grocery stores, but your best bet if you live in a state allowing for wine deliveries is to order it online.  Here are some resources (note, these are affiliate links. If you click on them and decide to purchase, I will be compensated).

Archaia Clauss Mavrodaphne of Petras


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