Saturday, June 30, 2012

Huff Family Reunion 2012

My absence is due to a long weekend full of travels to eastern Ohio for a family reunion and some (maybe) restful moments away from work. I saw some familiar faces and spaces and enjoyed a great deal of fun times with my dear family. 

The recaps are going to come in installments, because (you know me) I took a bahzillion pictures and want to share a lot of it all with you. I'm starting with the Huff Family Reunion in Dover, Ohio. 

My family has been having this biennial reunion for over 20 years now. For years, we met at a hotel resort on Atwood Lake in the boonies of eastern Ohio. After some economic turns in the region, the resort changed hands and purposes and we were left to find a new host for our event. The result? We moved back "home" to Dover, where my grandpa grew up. This little town, filled with lots of german and Moravian descendants,  is the origin of the Francis Huff and Adella Portz family. We enjoyed being surrounded by our own history. 

Saturday included a tour of the family home, which was built my my great grandfather many years ago. It is still in the hands of the family that purchased it from my great grandma some 20 years ago. My family traipsed about the house poking into little corners admiring and remembering. I was too little to recall my visits to grandma's house as a toddler, but most had very specific and beautiful memories and they shared stories. 

My uncle Tim and his cousin, Kip, remembered hiding treasures in a secret door in a wooden panel. My dad didn't even know it existed! Sneaky sneaky. My 2nd cousin, Andrew recalls tossing toys down the 3 story laundry chute. I was amazed as I thought about the work my great grandfather must have put into this building. I adore the old, original hardware and his beautiful woodwork. 

The home was surrounded by beautiful gardens and yards where children have played for over a hundred years. Three generations of "Huffs" toured the family home together. What an honor to have a family that values this history.

I've always enjoyed getting together with my father's side of the family. We're fun people often with a strange sense of intelligent humor. We're kind and yet a tid bit sassy. (We don't evade the normal family dramas...)  The gang is a diverse one. You'll find, as you click through my hyperlinks on this page that we're all over the map in careers and passions. We're a melting pot of conservative and liberal, old-fashioned and modern, scientific and creative. (As I make these links, I realize we are often VERY creative.) We hail from: OH, MI, MT, CA, IL, NY, MN, GA, MA, & AZ. 

I love my family. I can't wait until next reunion. Just think how the little ones will have grown by then! And who knows what I'll be doing then...time shall tell.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Men's Shirt Refashion: The Candy Striper

Another lazy Monday inside. I spent my morning asleep, my afternoon in my pajamas cleaning and lazing, and my evening altering a shirt and watching Doris Day in "Pajama Games"... while STILL in my pajamas. 

I used some elements of my last alteration project on this shirt. But it's a very different final product. Somewhat more girly, lace will do that. I never was much of a girly girl growing up. I hated the color pink until my mid-teens. Now, I'd consider myself a fairly feminine gal- at least in my dress. I wear a lot of skirts and I tend to "dress up" more often than the average person.

  • As in the last shirt project, I started with cutting off the sleeves just along the seam. 
  • I sewed up the front of the shirt ala the other shirt as well. (I have found I really like the look of the open holes and the unused buttons. It's a quirky detail. This also allows for a looser fit and makes the shirt easier to slip over the head.)
  • I took in the arm holes to fit me. For me, this was about 1.5 in into the arm seam then tapered out. A lot of my alterations are made by making slight changes and then trying the shirt on again. This works well and assures a good final fit. (This picture was of my original step. I ended up straightening out the seam to eliminate buckling, but you can get the idea of this step from the picture, at least.)

  • Cut out the neck how you like, of course. This might be nice with a V-neck or a square neck. I like big open necks. I used my trusty hatbox as a tool to mark the cut lines. (I ended up deepening the scoop after these initial pictures. Now, I wonder if I should have. I may need to wear a tank under it if I wear it to work.)

  • I gave the back of the neck a little scoop to make the neck look more finished. 

  • Put in some side slits. Mine were 5 in and hit somewhere near my hip just above the widest point. 

  • Hem over the edges of the slits, the neck and the sleeves.
  • Tack on some lace around the neck. I doubled the lace in the front scoop to give a little more coverage. The back of the neck has only one layer of lace trim.

  •  The final step was to create a belt so that the shirt had a more fitted look even though it is comfy and loose. I used fabric from one of the sleeves to make a tube of fabric to be the belt. (I used this awesome pinterest tip to turn my tubes right side out. Holy moly this made it sooo easy. Usually I hate this step.) Had I thought my shirt out ahead of time, I would have sewn the belt into the side seams. Instead, I made a little slit and sewed it in just behind.
This shirt has a dressy look to it, with a little extra girly frill. But it's also a simple and functional top for hot weather days like today. I also like the candy striper look. It's kinda like a dress-up costume, except I can wear it whenever.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Phoenix Shirt - To the Scrap Bin & Back

You know that feeling when you have nothing to wear? I know you do. Well, I was feeling that the other day. It was hot and sticky, and my jersey tanks weren't gonna cut it for the comfort OR the cute. I considered taking on another structured alteration ala my last pinterest shirt project. But I didn't have the time or patience for a long project. That's when I stumbled across an old tattered, too small, rejected button up shirt of mine at the bottom of my scrap bin. 

The primary reason I no longer wore the shirt was some unfixable holes along the neck line. But the other problem areas are slightly more universal. I outgrew the shirt. I mean, I got a bit pudgy for it. Or maybe it shrunk, but let's get real. The sleeves were too tight and puckering. The front buttoned but not well or without gapping. Basically, it wasn't a flattering shirt.

I wore this shirt to tatters sometime around 2007 and then loved it so much I couldn't part with it so I folded it and stored it where all beloved patterns wait to become quilt squares. Thank goodness I never got around to dissecting the shirt for parts. Turns out, it has plenty of life left in it. And the redesign was simple. (SO simple.) And only took about ten minutes from start to wear. (if that)

There are three easy steps to redesign any slightly snug, neck-tattered, button-up shirt into a breezy summer tank. 

1. Cut the sleeves off. Be careful not to cut the seam off. This will keep fraying from happening. I decided against finishing this edge, but you can if you wanna take the time. (Yeah, this step is silly easy.)

2. Sew the shirt up the middle. (Warning: this won't work if your shirt is WAY too small for you, just if it's snug and gapping.) Just turn it inside out and sew the button side to the button hole side- good sides in. I only left a little seam allowance -maybe a 1/4 inch- to make sure the shirt was as loose as possible. 

3. Cut out the neck. I used an old hatbox as a template for cutting out the neckline. A mixing bowl could serve the same purpose. For this project, I just cut the front and back the exact same way. The result is a loose, sometimes over the shoulder, tank. You can leave the back straight across or cut it less deep if you want the neck to retain more structure.

So now I have this great pull-over style cotton shirt for the hot summer weather. I'm happy to have given this old favorite new life. It makes me wonder how many other gems I have waiting to be re-envisioned in my drawers and closet.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Shop & Show (or) A Spoonful of Parisian Love

Last weekend, while wandering around Troy's Strawberry Festival, I found some little trinkets at a consignment shop. From the outside, the shop looked a little skimpy. Mostly worn country-style ruffled things from the 90's. Upon closer investigation, there were some nice treasures to be found. A return visit is in order. My takes for the day were a little covered brass bowl and a set of 4 vintage place mats. 

The place mats remind me of a set of prints my old roommate, Maia, had. They hung in my first apartment in Uptown in Minneapolis. I can find anything like it on google search. But they were colorful drawings of culinary items labelled in french. 

The brass bowl is now acting as a place to store my matches for the ever-lit candle on my coffee table. I had just been keeping a big box of matches in plain sight. Not so chic (Or safe, if kiddos come 'round!) I just dumped the matches in the bowl, and am storing the strike sheet under the candle itself. I like it's look, though I am not sure what to call it. Any ideas of what this thing is, or it's style origin? 

When I checked out, I stumbled over what to call it and said it was a "doodad" from the 25 cent rack. The fellah working the register thought that was funny and typed it in on the receipt. I love little interactions like that, where someone you don't know at all is playful and friendly. I also like to see people enjoying their work. My friends say he was flirting. I'll take it either way.

Later this week, I took a therapeutic trip to Dayton's Oregon District to have some dinner with gal pals at Lucky's. Of course, I had to go to Omega first to find some new musical friends. No, I don't mean people. I mean the flat, round, spinning types of friends.

The clearance crates continue to be my best friend. I came home with 5 fun albums including a collection of mariachi music perfect for summer a dinner party. Gazpacho and margaritas anyone? The big surprise album for me was the Lovin' Spoonful. 

They had several big hits in the 60's that continue to get air play on oldies stations: "Summer in the City" and "Do you Believe in Magic" & smooth crooning "Daydream". And I hadn't much of a concept of them beyond those songs. I didn't realize that   the song "Darling be Home Soon", which I knew from Joe Cocker's spirited version, was actually a Spoonful song. I think I had expected their music to all have the bubbly saccharin of "Do You Believe in Magic". I was pleasantly surprised to find a whole lot more diversity and depth in their canon. Their sound, song to song, swaps between being a little like Joe Cocker, Simon and Garfunkel, The Rascals, and the Animals. And take a listen to the sweet, Alexi Murdoch lilt of Coconut Grove

As a kid, I remember playing the "Summer in the City" 45 in my dad's collection, mainly because of the bright Kama Sutra label. I don't remember the B-side at all. I guess I didn't give them much of a chance. But I'm about to get to know them a whole lot better. I love their sound and can't wait to collect more of them.


I was also pleased to snag this Maurice Chevalier album. A little dusty, and in need of a cleaning, she still plays pretty. I don't know what it is about french music. I just love it. The accent is so sexy. I love the relaxed way emotional tone just spills from artists like Maurice, Claudine Longet, Edith Piaf, or even contemporary artists like Charlotte Gainsbourg. 

I wouldn't say I'm a Francophile, but I'm surely drawn to the culture. Perhaps it started with my love for old movie musicals. American in Paris, Gigi & Funny Face surely had a hand in my desire to experience Paris someday. Another contributing factor? My mother lived in paris when her father was stationed there soon after her birth. I've heard stories of my grandparent's experiences living in Paris and  think it would be really beautiful to see some of the places they described. And, I mean, the fashion, food, the Eiffel Tower, and The Louvre sound pretty great, too.

For now, I'll settle to listen to a little Maurice and maybe nibble on a baguette.
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