Felicity, Miscellenia

Five for Friday: What I’ve been up to, June Edition

Felicity the sewing cat thedreamstress.com1

What I’m working on:

Trying to accomplish things faster than the disaster roller coaster that has become my life can run them down.

I’m not sure what’s going on, but sometime between June & November last year Murphy’s Law decided to take a really personal interest in my life, and annoying, time consuming, money demanding things have happened one after the other.  You’ve heard about the epic computer crash of January 2017, and then there was the stove that decided to stop working and needed replacing (buying appliances is pretty much my least favourite activity in the world, and takes forever), followed by ‘Oops, it turns out your electrical system won’t support a modern stove, you need to re-wire a big portion of your house’.

This was followed by ‘Felicity needs dental surgery’, which is scheduled for next week and a bit, so I’m a little freaked out by that…

And that’s the stuff I can tell you about (there have to be some boundaries).

There are perks to some of the disasters.  For example, the new stove is awesome, but…. it’s part of the cause of my latest catastrophe, because it brings water to a boil so much faster than the old one, which is partly why a pressure cooker full of black beans exploded all over my kitchen last night.

Did you know that black beans are a very effective dye?  They are!  So every non-stainless-steel or enamel surface in the kitchen is now spattered with a very attractive shade of purple-blue.  It’s very…organic.  In both senses of the word.  And abstract modern art-y.  And durable.  I’m on hour 3 of scrubbing so far, and have pretty much had to admit that I may be able to scrub the paint off, but I won’t be able to scrub the colour out.

This is what happens when a pressure cooker full of black beans explodes... thedreamstress.com

This is what happens when a pressure cooker full of black beans explodes... thedreamstress.com

It’s funny, except that it caused so much damage.

In addition to staining the ceiling, walls, cupboards, countertops, and floor, the explosion also destroyed my pressure cooker (sniff – though I’m pretty sure it was a faulty pressure valve that did it, so it needed replacing), broke a beautiful bowl we got as a wedding present (and the potter no longer makes them, wailey, wailey), broke two brackets on the stovetop pot-supporter rack thing (and it’s only a month old!), put a bunch of dents and cracks in our beautiful vintage ceiling, which I am really gutted about, and blew out the lights in fully half the house.

Fingers crossed it’s just a case of re-doing the old-fashioned fuses to get them working again.  Otherwise, at least I know of an electrician I can trust!

So how are you feeling about everything?:

Pretty glum actually.  I plan time into my work schedule for unexpected setbacks, but there have been so many this year that they have eaten ALL my disaster (hope it doesn’t happen) and rainy day (you know it will happen, you just don’t know when) time planning, plus most of my blogging time (yep, that’s why I’ve been so quiet), discretionary sewing time, and social time.

So I’ve done no sewing for myself in over 6 months that wasn’t desperately needed for wardrobe updates, and not a single wearable stitch towards Costume College (aka, fun sewing).  I’m hoping for a miracle in the next week, or it’s going to be rather grim for me costume wise this year!

I’ve been so busy that there is actually a Regency dance here in Wellington tomorrow night, and I don’t think I’m going to be able to make it.  How sad is that?

Has anything good happened?  

Yes!  Despite everything, there have been some really lovely, bright spots, and life overall has been good.

Regional News Wellington did a lovely interview on me (read it here on page 9), complete with studio photoshoot with gorgeous photos:

The Dreamstress, photo by Regional News Wellington

And two separate Scroop Patterns:  the Ngaio Blouse and the Henrietta Maria Dress + Top, have been reviewed on the Curvy Sewing Collective!

The Scroop Ngaio Blouse scrooppatterns.com

Scroop Henrietta Maria

I’ve worked really hard to make the Scroop Pattern line as size inclusive as possible, and to make sure that each pattern fits accurately at every size in the range, and just to make them generally really good patterns, with comprehensive instructions, and thoughtful sewing processes.  It’s really nice to see that work has been noticed and appreciated.

And Mr D & I have gone for lots of nice walks together, and I love my sewing students, so at least I see nice people, even if I don’t do much ‘socialising’.  And I’ve been teaching Costume History at Toi Whakaari (the NZ Drama School), and that’s been wonderful.

So life has been really good, I just want to spend a lot less of it traipsing round hardware stores, and getting repair quotes for things.


What I’ve been reading:

ALL the Stella Gibbons.  Her writing is just the mix of humour, compassion mixed with cynicism, and insightfulness that I’ve been needing, and she’s one of the few authors that I can read nothing but that author’s works for months on end without it feeling repetitive.

Stella Gibbons books thedreamstress.com

I own Cold Comfort Farm in a Folio edition, and my Christmas and Conference’s were gifts from the ever-wonderful Lynne.  I was holding out for ‘proper’ editions of all of her criminally underrated non-woodshed related works, but have finally admitted that they are just too hard to find, and have bought the modern reissues of Westwood, Nightingale Wood, and Starlight (currently on loan to a friend) while I dream of old hardcover editions…

One day I shall own every single one of her books.  It will happen!

 What’s for dinner:

Soups!  Lots and lots of soups.

We’re particularly fond of a vegetable with barley, peas & lentils soup that is based on a recipe I discovered for my Fortnight in 1916 experiment.  It’s particularly interesting because it involves no potato: just leeks, parsnips, swedes, carrots, and celery if you have any.

Vegetable barley soup thedreamstress.com

Vegetable barley soup thedreamstress.com

Vegetable barley soup thedreamstress.com

(kitchen shown in old-stove, pre-blued state).

What next:

Not sure, but please wish me a miracle that I’ll get my taxes done this weekend, and be able to do fun things like sew!

And that the sewing goes super well, so I have fun things to show you!




  1. Tracy Ragland says

    What an awful series of unfortunate events! Your kitchen’s unplanned colorizing reminds me of when I was ten years old and removed a pitcher of grape juice from the fridge holding the T-ware pitcher by only the lid. The pitcher landed upright on the floor and a sticky purple geyser erupted. My mom made me clean it, clean it again, and finally help her clean it thoroughly.

    Fast forward a few years when I was away at college. My parents were remodeling the kitchen and called to tell me about all the grape juice found in unexpected places.

  2. Theresa says

    Ugh, sorry that has all happened to you, Leimomi. At least it’s one of those ‘well, that won’t happen AGAIN’ kind of things! (Small pleasures.)

  3. Angela says

    What a nice interview you gave for the Regional News. Sorry about the beans.

  4. Oh no! I’ve been in those phases of terribleness and they are just so wearying and grind you down. That bean stain is quite beautiful…. but not on walls and ceiling! I hope life starts giving you a break soon.

  5. Kate says

    The interview was a very enjoyable read!

    The bean incident and consequent empurplement of your kitchen sounds terrible, although what a relief no one was in the kitchen at the time, I don’t want to think about the sort of burns and injuries an exploding pressure cooker full of boiling beans could inflict.

    I hope that was the climax of your terrible horrible no good very bad run of months and things start to improve from now!

  6. Christine says

    I’m so sorry that you’ve had a run of bad things all at once – what a pain! I admire your ability to look on the bright side of things.
    Know that you’ve been missed while you were gone! May this be the start of an uncommonly long run of good luck for you!

  7. Hope the next six months can look up for you! I had a much smaller kitchen disaster happen the other week where I had a glass bottle of soy sauce fall out of the fridge and smash all over the floor, I even cut my foot on the glass.

  8. Elina G says

    Ouch! At least it seems the cooker didn`t hit any of you. Be merciful to yourself and take time to just sit down and breathe. With a fully recovered Felicity in your lap.

  9. Elise says

    Best of luck going forward! Your bits about Gibbons is so funny to me, because I know exactly how her tone sets the mood.

    Lots a person (who hardly knows you) could write: talking about plaster repair, painting ideas, bean culture and bean recipes, sympathy for fur-baby health needs, article high-fives, review high-fives…

    Just glad that no one –besides the house, which sort of counts as a person–was hurt. And hoping that the good luck found there will increase and spread throughout the rest of your life and work.

  10. fitch says

    On a lighter note I now know that what I’d call a rutabaga here in Indiana is a swede in your part of the world!

  11. You are right, it is a lovely shade. I haven’t done that, but I’ve certainly made a mess with a few other things. It does get me wondering what would happen if I tried to dye fabric with black beans…..

    I hope you were able to make the Regency dance, that would be so fun to go to.

  12. MayravB says

    What a series of unfortunate events! I hope that you get relief from them soon (as well as for the un-mentioned ones).

  13. That is rough!! Here’s hoping things get a bit brighter soon. The Curvy Sewing Collective reviews are great! It’s always so nice to hear that people value the work you’ve put in, especially since you put so much effort and thought into your pattern drafting.

  14. Oh dear! Things do sound busy and stressful! Quotes and such are so boring… ugh! At least there have been bright spots! I will certainly send happy sewing thoughts to you! And I do hope that things start going a bit more smoothly.


  15. Jo says

    Yes that would be a useful shade of dye if it wasn’t in the wrong place! And Stella Gibbons Forever!!

  16. Here’s to things turning around for you soon! Nothing as demoralizing as a run of bad luck.

  17. Lylassandra says

    I’m so sorry life has been treating you so poorly lately! Here’s hoping things turn around soon.

  18. nanny norfolk says

    It’s strange how disasters always happen together, never one at a time. Hope that everything gets better for you. Lovely colour bean dye though, of course not where you don’t want it! Wish I’d known about that one when I used to do natural dyeing many years ago. Purple is not an easy colour to get. You may find though it’s fugitive ( not permanent ) & may fade to a brown colour. I hope not. I found that husbands urine & lichens left in a large glass jar in the sun for a few weeks gave a nice light purple on wool. The smell washed out ok, in case you were wondering

  19. Oh no! I’m sorry to hear about Felicity’s dental woes on top of everything. My Ella needed 3 canines removed in May and it upset her, me, and my bank account. She’s fully recovered now though and I hope Fissy is too.

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