Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Medium is the Message Dress

Here it finally is, my Mad Men Challenge Dress. I hope Julia accepts late submissions….Oh, well. As always, I was finished this puppy about a week ago, but the issue was finding some sucker willing to take my photo. Thanks, Laura! Laura is lovely. We got brunch this morning and I asked her if she would be willing to take a few photos of me. And then I made her take 70. I think the trick is just to keep shouting “take more photos!” because the more they take, the higher probability that there will be at least one or two you don’t abhor.

So why that title, you might ask? If comes from one of the final episodes of Season One when Peggy (who is crazy pregnant, but everyone just thinks she’s fat) gets promoted to a Junior Copywriter. She’s understandably excited and asks Joan, who seems none too pleased with this development, if Peggy ought to go thank the partners in person. Joan, without skipping a beat, says, “Well, you know what they say.” (gesturing to her glorious form) “The medium is the message”. CLASSIC Joan.

I did not show up to brunch looking like Joan Harris nee Holloway. That’s too much even for me, and it’s not warm here in Philadelphia today. Instead I changed in the bathroom, startling other diners with my sudden transformation. I tell myself that they couldn’t keep their eyes off my stunning form, but they probably thought, who the hell is this crazy lady pretending it’s 1963? In my defense, however, we met this morning in Silk City Dinner, which looks like it’s been ripped off of the set of Grease, so really, I was quite forward thinking…

As you may or may not recall, I was trying to duplicate this oh so iconic dress:

Hey, I figured, if you are going to go Joan, GO JOAN.

I am mostly quite happy with this reproduction. I think it’s quite close, don’t you?

Ignore the closed eyes, if you would be so kind.

I couldn’t quite figure out how to adapt the Pastille Bodice pattern to mimic Joan’s sleeves. Now that I look again at her dress I can, of course, see how to do it easily and perfectly. My 20:20 hindsight is just wonderful. Oh, well.

The fabric I used, viscose, has a lovely drape. It’s a synthetic fabric, but it breathes very well (I think, I honestly have only worn this for the photo shoot). I lined the dress with silk Sari remnants which I bought when I first started sewing. It’s a bit wrinkled in the photos, ah, well, what can you do, that’s what happens when you stuff your dress in your bag with the eight million other things you will obviously need on for a brunch with a friend. Like a book. And all your worldly possessions.

No, this shoot does not match the amazing nature of Julia’s shoots. (Julia, how do you get such amazing photos? Share with us your secrets! Deal with the Devil? Probably).

Now. I know that Joan wouldn’t really hang out in a diner. But maybe if she was slumming it?

I even tried to do a thing with my hair! Which is not really like me!

It’s kind of a Monet (if you don’t get that reference I really don’t want to deal with you. Hint: You’re a virgin who can’t drive!) but it’s looks good from the front!

Joan doesn’t really smile much in photos. So neither did I. But I’m a fairly exuberent person, in case you couldn’t tell, and I was emulating my favorite character from one of my favorite shows, so I couldn’t COMPLETELY control myself….

Ahhhhh I’m having Rodger Sterling’s BABY! Ahhh! That makes this the second unplanned secret pregnancy in the show! I’m just waiting for Susanne (the teacher) or someone to roll in like, Don Draper? Here’s your FOURTH child. Deal with THAT, Megan. Deal with that. A song wont save you now….

Ahem. Got a little carried away there. Final Joan-inspired shot:

Oh, for a pen necklace.

I have so loved seeing everyone’s Mad Men inspired outfits. It’s such a sad thing that they are moving towards the ugly portion of the 60’s. Sigh. The age of Joan is at an end, make way for polyester and prints. Kill me now. Oh, well, we’ll always have Sterling Cooper!

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OWOP 7: The Finale

Spoiler alert: This is not the outfit I wore all day today. I KNOW. TO my shame and dismay I completely forgot to beg a photo off a co-worker. In fact, as I speed off to a spin class (you know what I’m not wild about? Spinning.) having changed into my workout clothing at work (a neat trick to make damn sure I actually make it to the gym) and my co-worker Dani even said to me, Leah, don’t you need a photo for today? And I responded with, oh, hell. But what could I do, spin class awaited! So I ran off and spun and then forced my friend Victoria to snap one of me after a dinner of tacos and margaritas. But the pants, the pants remained the one constant!

And the winner for MVP is…..the Denim Clovers!  Yeah, we all saw that one coming. What can I say, guys, they are JEANS, basically, they go with everything! Also, they are comfortable and dark enough to look okay in a room full of hipsters and yuppies.

Wooooooo! I made it, guys! I MADE IT! (I’m doing that thing that gymnasts do when they land and they throw their hands in the air in all directions.) MADE. IT. Done. And you know what? I’m so glad I chose Clovers as my pattern. Not only do I love this pattern, but it made me realize that I really wear skirts all the time, and have been neglecting pants as an option. Am I eager to return to skirts? You bet your tights I am. But I’m happy to have spent a week in pants and remembered all the things I love about them!  Thank you eternally, Tilly, for organizing this, and to everyone else who is participating, well fricking done! I love what I’m seeing out there on the interwebs. God, when am I NOT?

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OWOP 6: The Rebel

Today I went to work, like I do, and then I biked over to West Philadelphia (I am not fond of West Philadelphia, and the blame for that rests solely on the shoulders of the University of Pennsylvania, or more precisely, its students. They are the worst. Yeah, Wharton kids, I’m talking to you.) Dodging girls in yoga pants that cost about as much as my rent (though in my defense, I went to a school where most of the populations COULD have worn those pants, but didn’t, because there is no point in trying in New Haven, CT, there is just no point), I met my friend Diana for dinner and a drink before a screening of Cecilia, a Cuban film playing for free (Free!) at the International House. The film is based on the novel Cecilia Valdes and it’s a fascinating if somewhat confusing movie whose “free adaptation” from the novel blend attitudes about race, politics, Cuba’s place in the Caribbean and a socialist examination of history. Well, I say socialist, but what I mean is a sort of Castroist sort of a thing. (Sidenote, we gots to find ways to talk about Cuban politics. Russia gets Soviets or Stalinist etc, and China gets Maoist, but we are really failing on the Cuba front. Can someone get on this? Thanks). Anyway, it’s a very interesting film, so if you come across it and have a couple of hours to burn, I would recommend it. And here is what I wore:

The sweater? Vintage. The Pants? Wrinkled. But divine.

I realize from these posts that my life this week seems a lot more exciting then it really is. I blame the Clovers.

One more day, people. What will the last day of OWOP bring? It’s anyone’s guess, really….

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OWOP 5: The Middle Child (New Finished Project: The Sewing Is Not Exact Science Pants)

We can all agree that I’ve made a bunch of clovers, right? Counting the muslin I made that never saw the light of day, I have made 5 pairs of these pants. It doesn’t match the number of muslins I’ve seen out there (Lauren, I’m talking to you, though the final fit was clearly worth it!) but still, I’ve made these pants. I’ve cut them out, I’ve flat felled their seams, I’ve inserted their invisible zippers. To be fair, I totally follow the instructions every time because I just like reading Sarai’s instructions, but still. I know how to make these pants.

And yet….the pair of clovers I most wanted to make, the pair I probably spent the most time one, well, they are a triffle snug in the, um, crotch. And I could not for the life of me tell you why. They have literally the same measurements as EVERY OTHER PAIR I MADE. I cut them from the SAME PATTERN PIECES. The fabric.com order said they have stretch! And yet….and yet. Maybe they have LESS stretch then the other fabrics in which I made these? I don’t even know. People, I just don’t know.

Still. I do actually like them, and I noticed over the course of the day that as they stretched a bit with wear they actually feel more and more comfortable. So, yeah. I’m going to wear them. Because dammit, this is One Week One Pattern and I made these pants so this is what we are doing. I will make the crotch work with SHEER. FORCE. OF. WILL. Same way I made things fat free just by thinking about them.

But hey, they look cute, right? Let’s go to the photos:

They are also SHORTER then all the other pants. It’s gotta be the fabric, right? I just don’t get it otherwise.

So what did I do today? Well, Brother Cadfael needed his shots. And I am not rich. So I took him to the clinic hours offered by the SPCA, which is way the hell up in North Philadelphia and has open hours on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I figured it would be less crowded on Wednesday, so I packed my meowing friend into a carrier and took him to the clinic. OH. MY. GOD. There were approximately 80 dogs and three other cats (…odd) waiting for their vaccines and microchips as well. Poor Cadfael was a champion, ignoring the mastiffs and pitbulls and not even uttering a whimper when jabbed with the CANON* they use to chip animal. Still, spending the morning in an endless line with my trembling cat was, you know, just the best. Still. At least I looked cute!

More photos? But of course!

You want to see the back? Of course you do. Who wouldn’t?

I did not angle this photo. This is how Dani, my photographer/co-worker, likes to take photos.

It should be noted that I never during this entire photo session released my coffee cup. Because coffee makes me feel like the above photo. And the below photo:

The pants may not fit me just exactly the way I might wish, but hey, they are slim black capris. They’ll do.

Oh, I don’t mean to get all girlie here, but guuuuyyyyys, check out my shoooooeeeeees!

They are little mice. They were made by Marc Jacobs.  I bought them at a second-hand shop for 35 dollars. They literally make my heels bleed. But I do not care. (Why don’t I care? Um, did you hear that thing about the MICE?)

So, that’s all my clovers. I’ve already repeated my denim ones. What will I wear next….

*Okay, yes, it was just a very large needle, but I swear, it looked like some sort of weapon.

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OWOP 4: The New Kid (Finished The Wildcard Pants!)

I made another pair of clovers. A pair of bright blue clovers. Yeah I did. YEAH I did. And this is how they make me feel:

BOOM. Love them. LOVE THEM.

I made these from the mystery fabric from Chicago, which is just unbelievably stretchy. That makes these my loosest fitting and most comfortable Clovers to date. I gotta say, they are a joy to wear, even on days that are a touch too cold for them, like today.

Yeah, I wore socks with it. What are you going to do about it? (It was seriously, cold, I’m shivering in these photos but you don’t know! Acting.) They have pandas on them. That’s how I do.

They are rather wrinkled, but hey, man, that’s life in the real world. Aren’t they bright? I love them. They put quite a “spring” in my step. GET IT? subtlety. It’s my best thing.

I have to say, I never would have been so bold as to turn these into pants had my friend Becca not convinced me I could do so. Burgundy? I might leave that to the hipsters. But these I think give off a nice “Summer in Monaco” look, which is a shame, because I’m totally not going to Monaco this summer. Unless you know a millionaire who wants to TAKE me?

Just look what he could have on his arm. And the back view, you say? Don’t mind if I do.

Weak showing, you say, because it’s not a close up? My lovely photographer Dani had no qualms about zooming in:

Darts. How does anything happen without them? I owe all I am to darts.

And this is what it looks like when I’m laughing because I made my friend and co-worker take a bunch of booty shots. A little sheepish, but mostly cool with it.

Fun fact? I also made the shirt! It’s the third Renfrew I have made, though not that last. I’m making all nine variations, mark my words. Number 2 went to my lovely mother, and this is the scoop neck mid length sleeves I made up with a fabric I got at Mood the first time I visited that mecca of knit and silk (and everything else, let’s be honest here).

I love me a Renfrew. I also really adore this print:

Nice, right? I likes it.

Four days down, three to go. How is everyone else doing with this One Week One Pattern business?

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OWOP 3: The Tourist

Circumstances conspired to send me to New York today, and as it happened I ended up doing a lot of walking. A LOT of walking. I even happened to wander about the fabric district, sneaking into Mood and Parons, but I walked out empty handed. I know, I know, my willpower, it’s astounding. Seriously, I actually went to Mood TWICE, and I still managed to resist a silky cotton voile and several delicious knits. Give this girl a prize.

It was actually rather brisk today in Manhatten, despite the sun, and I found myself bundling up against the cold and more then a little relieved to board my Bolt Bus home. But before I was able to dash back to Philadelphia, I had time to grab a quick coffee and a snack with my friend Victoria, who helpfully snapped this photo. We ended up at Tick Tock Diner, a hilariously touristy diner which we picked because it was just a stone’s through away from my Bolt Bus Stop. Location location location.

So here is me, taking a classic New York Tourist shot, in my Denim Clovers:

PS: I also made that shirt. It’s a much modified Sorbetto and I need to iron the ties but let’s get real here, I don’t iron things once they are finished. That’s just not how I roll.

Approximately ten million people walked by while Victoria was trying to take my photo. That may or may not be an exaggeration.

But I got my touristy New York shot! Ha! Take that, natives, I exercised my right to take smiling photos in front of innocuous locations. Bam. Now point me towards Times Square, I want to go see Cats and spend 100 dollars for a bad meal.

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OWOP 2: The Classic

Day Two. Here we go. Sundays are the days I usually get a chance to relax with my mom. We have breakfast, we take an exercise class, etc. This Sunday we traded our usual awesome Piloxing class (pilates plus boxing, lead by Gina, who is amazing) for a slightly less awesome but still fun Barre Sculpt Class. I liked the Barre workout, but the teacher was a touch tentative. Still, calories burned and all that jazz. Then I slipped on my Denim Clovers, my Never Have I Ever Pants, and walked with my mother over to the Kimmel Center to see a Kabuki Dance performance. Like you do.

It was….interesting. I studied Kabuki in college, (ah, theater major, you are the best) and I have seen taped dances and dance that was strongly influenced by Kabuki, but never actual Kabuki. In point of fact this wasn’t a true Kabuki troupe, they also do Noh theater and other Japanese and Chinese forms, but still, one mustn’t be picky. Kabuki plots are traditionally tragic, and these were no exception. The Last Journey of Two Butterflies, for example, is a lovely tale of two lovers who have committed suicide and come back as butterflies in the meadow. They journey through the world of the dead and eventually are engulfed in flames to pay them back for the sins of their feuding families. Lovely. Good fun had by all, eh? Fun times. Love suicides.

Anyway, here is what I looked like when I was watching all this go down:

Not my most exciting outfit ever, but it’s not terrible, right? I really need to start living up to the “styling” part of this challenge. Still, I love these pants because they really do go with everything, I mean, that’s denim for you! I do think they look better sans socks but it’s brisk today so you do what you must, right?

The waistband is rippling oddly in these photos, but trust me, these pants are cute.  Sometimes I hate photos, don’t you? I promise I’m cute in real life, people, regardless of all the evidence to the contrary.

Still. At least the building looks good.

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OWOP: El Original

Here we go, people, One Week, One Pattern. Let’s make it happen, shall we?

For everyone’s information, I chose to make the Colette Pattern’s Clover Pants for my drug of choice. There are actually a ton of patterns that I have made more then once. I’m a multiple maker, personally, once I find something I like I tend to make it at least twice. Part of it is that I’m fairly cheap, honestly, so when I pay for a pattern I want to get my money’s worth. But part of it is that I really enjoy having a kind of a uniform, so making more then one of something I like just makes sense.

Also, I must admit, my father always said, when I liked an item in a store, okay, good, buy two! So now I make two. What are you going to do, childhood scars us all differently.

Onto the pants!

I do not adore this photos, but when you ask strangers to shoot you you kind of have to take what you can get, right?

People who have been avid readers of this blog, i.e. my mother, will recognize these as the first pair of pants I ever made, The Rear View Pants. I had to fix the front tire of my bike this morning, so I had the extremely nice people at Trophy Bikes take my photo. I wanted to take photos through the day, so I asked a girl at my beloved PA Fabric Outlet, where I went to buy a zipper this afternoon, to take my photo. I asked her three times if the pants were in the photo. She was like, of course!

Yeah. You can’t trust nobody in this life. I swear.

Day one, down. Just 6 to go. I got this, people. Get excited.

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“Don’t go to the well, Peter, there’s no more water there”

People, sometimes being a planner can be a problem. I’m all about the plan, the inspiration board, the concept. I thought I had this Mad Men Challenge in the bag people. IN THE BAG. The best laid plans of mice and men. Am I right? AM I RIGHT?

Let me start by saying, I am a huge fan of the TV show. Just a really huge fan. I know there are people out there who are into it for the vintage style and the pretty ladies, and that’s all well and good. And I know there are people who don’t even like the show itself, and while I literally can’t understand that, I totally respect your right to not invest in the story. Hey, man, I couldn’t get past chapter 1 of The Hunger Games (but I swear I’m going to try again! It’s such a  disturbing concept…) and I don’t even watch The Wire! So I’m guilty of some stuff. When it comes to Mad Men, however, I am a fanatic. So if you don’t get some of the references and direct quotes coming up, just ignore them, that’s totally fine by me. But know this. They will be coming at you fast and furious. Get excited.

Let me first say that I knew from the very begining that I didn’t want to emulate Joan. Don’t get me wrong, I love Joan. I love Christina Hendricks! I loved her on Life! Remember Life? Great show. Sorry it was canceled. Damien Lewis, please feel free to CALL ME. But I didn’t want to go for Joan. SO mainstream. How can I express my true and complete fandom by dressing like the one character everyone knows? So I thought at first I was going to replicate something of Trudy Campbell’s. Not only does she have the same last name of one of the best people I know (talking to you, Lisa!), but I just adore her. Yes, she has gotten repeatedly screwed (on many levels, HEYo!) by Pete, and yes, she wears some insane hats. But I love her. Girlfriend is a treat. “This is America, you don’t just SHOOT the President!” Fact. Love her. But then I realized that because Trudy is so fashion-forward (read, trend obsessed) she rocks a lot of ensembles that don’t suit my personal taste. Okay, I thought, I have a near-encycolpedic knowledge of this show, let’s do this. I did love me some Helen Bishop! All progressive and pro-Kennedy despite her son Creepy Glen and her scandalous divorce. But she’s clearly an Autumn. And I’m a winter. That’s no good. Megan and I have simular coloring! But she’s a stick. And also more into the late 60’s aesthetic which frankly is abhorrent to me on so many levels. (Mod and I do NOT get along.) Allison is pretty! But she dressed pretty terribly, let’s admit that, shall we? Plus, she slept with Don and then freaked out and took it out on Peggy (and I’m very protective of Peggy) so I don’t want her life. Kitty is cute! But rather garish, though I do love her! And I don’t want to end up married to a gay man. Dr. Faye is super cute! But she’s a blond. That’s not happening.  And I’m not really into the boho thing going down with Madge (though I love me some Rosemary DeWitt). As a Jew and the decendent of department store owners, the Rachel Mempkin thing seemed a TOUCH on the nose, plus her best thing were her suits, which I don’t feel up to right this minute, or this amazing nightgown: Super practical. Where WOULDN’T I wear that? I loved this golden dress Bobbie Barrett wore, but I really have been trying to shop my stash and there is a curious lack of gold up in there: Besides, who wants to emulate Bobbie? Girl had issues. “The full Don Draper treatment”? Gross. I’m not going to discuss Betty and Peggy, because my mom already thinks I dress like a little girl, so those full skirts and florals aren’t going to do me any favors, and besides, I already have a ton of ’em.

So there I was. Sigh. I didn’t want to go there, I really didn’t, but in the end, I ended up with Joan. Still, if you have to end up with anyone as your inspiration, oughtn’t it to be the most gorgeous woman on television? With curves for days and some of the best most silkily delivered insults anyone has every heard? “The last thing I would have thought Paul was was open minded”. GOOD lord. “I’m not a solution to your problem. I’m just another problem.” JOAN. Be my friend, please. Thanks.

So I decided to try and emulate one of her outfits. No big deal, right? Of course not, easy peasy lemon squeezy. I wanted to use Simplicity 4558, which I had bought on Etsy. HOWEVER. When I took said pattern out to make a muslin, I had the shocking realization that this pattern is skirtless. I mean, I’m sure there was a skirt originally included but somehow I had bought the pattern without a skirt. No wonder it was so cheap….

Okay, I thought, I can use a skirt from so other source, no problem. Then I make the bodice muslin. And I just thought, no. This is not good. I do not like this. A. it needs a FBA (god, that’s just going to be my life, isn’t it? How did I get away with not doing them for TWO YEARS?) and B. I just didn’t love it! So what was I to do? Then, like manna from the heavens, I thought, the Pastille dress! I like the pattern, I’ve already adjusted it to fit my frame, I know how to make it, let’s do it! I ditched the pale pink and pulled out a hot magenta viscose I had bought at Mood Fabric all those months ago. It has a great drape and a nice hand (look at me, using fabric words!) and I thought it would be perfect in replicating that amazing magenta dress Joan wears. Of course, it’s a promo dress, I don’t think it ever made it onto the actual show, but you know what? I don’t even care. I DON’T EVEN CARE.

Ah, Joan, you help me stay calm.

So anyway, I’m almost done the bodice and then it’s skirt darts, attach skirt, install zipper and hem. I’ve made a few adjustments to the original pattern that I will outline later in more detail, but I’m just so thrilled to have something that I’m happy with and happy to be making and, hopefully, pays homage to one of my favorite things on television. And I watch a LOT of TV, folks, so that’s a stiff competition right there.

So, what’s going on with you? Are you a Mad Men fan, or do you just not get the hype? Did my Hunger Games confession concern you? I promise, I’m going to try again!

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The Internets is the Best.

Some things on the internet are horrible. That’s just a fact. For example, I recently found out about large digital communities in which people encourage each other not to eat in order to become emaciated. That is objectively horrible and I hope that stops sometime soon.

BUT, there are also communities of support and help for eating disorders on the internets as well. And there are also lovely people out there who give me blog awards. To which I say, thank you very much, you make up for this website I found of people who thing The Onion is a real news source. COME on, guys, get it together!

On the other hand, that website has allowed me a lot of (disgusted) pleasure, so, you  know, catch 22 there.

Anyway, a really nice blogger named Sue has awarded me the Versatile Blogger award which runs around the internets like a jack rabbit. Which I think is really sweet,  so thank you, Sue, you are a peach. Check out Sue’s blog, she’s just a delight, I can’t wait to see her Joan-inspired olive Green Mad Men Challenge dress. It’s going to be epic.

  1. Add the badge to the winning blog page.
  2. Thank the blogger who gave it.
  3. List the rules.
  4. List seven (7) random facts about yourself.
  5. Pass on the award to fifteen (15) deserving and conscientious bloggers who are nominated for their diligence, demonstrated skill, and achievements in the world of blogging and specifically in the sewing related category.
  6. Contact the nominated bloggers and let them know they are recipients.

Hmmmmm. Seven facts, eh? Sue, you are a crafty devil. But I shall accept this challenge (and this lovely award) with grace, and struggle. Like I do.

Facts about me:

1. I started cooking in restaurants at the age of 15. I worked as a chef in my vacations etc. for five years. And to think, most kids just babysit.

2.  I hate mushrooms. There was an incident in my youth, too traumatic to recount. Trust me.

3. I drink a lot of coffee. A LOT of coffee. Once in college I had six shots of espresso and four cups of coffee in one day (I was directing a show, it was a mess, I was young!) and I’ve never gone there again, but I’ve been close, people. I’ve been close. I really like coffee.

4. Monsoon Wedding is one of my favorite movies. I watch it all the time. I love it. It’s the best.

5. I’ve been to more countries outside of the United States then states within the United States. What can I say, I’m more interested in the Algarve then Alabama.

6. I’m a playwright. I really love Tom Stoppard. I really hate David Mamet. Judge me all you want, I hate Glengarry Glenn Ross. I just do. To tell you why would fill volumes. And I will defend Coasts of Utopia to the death, because while not everything works, but there is real dramatic initiative there! The Decemberists revolution! 9 hours! Billy Crudup! Come on!

7. I have read almost everything Terry Prachett has ever written. What can I say, I’m a fan.

And now to pass this baby onto other people! 15, eh? Goodness. Well, I certainly read more blogs then that, so if you didn’t make this list please don’t be mad at me, I think you are wonderful!

Dixie DIY

Miss P

She’s in Fashion

Trash Planet

Experiments and Accidents

Adventures in Adventuring

Miss Crayola Creepy

Dapper Duds

Cirque du Bebe

What Would Nancy Drew Wear

Oonaballoona

Thinking in Shapes

The Wardrobe, Reimagined

JuliaBobbin

Ginger Makes

Now that I’m thinking about it, I could give this award to many people out there. I love me some internet, sometimes. Afterall, it gives us stuff like this. And this. And also this. The internets. For all it’s bad, there is just so much good.

Thank you very much, Sue, I really appreciate it.

And because I can’t bear not to, enjoy this photo of my parent’s newly rescued cat, Hercule Poirot. (We are all really into the mystery genre, historic and otherwise. Hence our cats being named Hercule Poirot, Brother Cadfael, Endeavor Morse and Marcus Didius Falco.)

We went with Poirot because of the mustache.

Cat photos.  Yet another reason to love the internet.

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