22 Before 22

10/10: Pink Polka Dot Dress

Guys, I’m going to do a little report on my break from the internet soon, but let’s just say: a) it was not overly successful, but b) it was totally necessary for me to not blog/Facebook/Pinterest for that first week of September, and c) taking that much time away from my blog doesn’t make me feel good.

Do you know what does make me feel good? Conquering an extremely frustrating project.   Let me give you some context on this dress. Before sewing this dress, the extent of the sewing I’d done was cutting out two tubes of fabric and sewing three seams to make this skirt, and practicing seams on scraps of fabric. That’s all.

Turns out, there’s a *ton* of knowledge that one needs to follow a sewing pattern. That includes knowing how to even read the pattern, how to pin pattern pieces to the fabric properly, what all those funny marks on the paper mean, what to do when your sewing machine (inevitably) jams, how to finish seams, etc, etc, etc. And this is all basic stuff! Despite my stubbornness (“I’m going to sew a dress, darn it!”), I had actually chosen a relatively simple pattern – it’s just that there’s still so much I didn’t know how to do.

So how did I manage? I yelled at my pattern a lot (wish I was exaggerating). I would take the pattern one sentence at a time, and sometimes half a sentence. I called my mom about how to cut out fabric. I Googled everything and watched a lot of Youtube videos. I Googled some more. I tentatively followed the steps.

It was a bit of a meditation, actually. I was really eager to be finished the project (as I always am), but I couldn’t really rush this one. Every time I tried to rush, I’d almost mess up, and I’d have to remind myself that I wanted to do a good job, and that I needed to focus. #lifelessons

Trust me, nobody was more amazed (or motivated) than I was when I saw this dress start to take shape. Every time I finished a step it looked slightly more wearable, and it made me giddy. And guess what? Now that it’s finished, it really is wearable – and I’ve actually worn it! Success!

I bought my pattern from Simplicity, it’s called Misses’ Dresses. The one I made is called the Diplomat dress. I think the pattern was good, but I will never again buy a printable pattern – the system was not easy to use to download it, and it was so much extra work to print, cut, and tape together the pattern pieces. I picked out my fabric at Fabricville because it was cotton, and because it was pink polka-dotted.

I have to say that although this was without a doubt the most frustrating of my 10 DIYs this year, it is also probably my favourite. I am really proud to have accomplished it, and opened the door (to myself) to make more sewing patterns. Not that bad once you get the hang of it!

I’ve completed 10 DIY projects this year! To see the others, click here

22 Before 22: Make Sushi

Remember my birthday list? Well, I’m pleased to report that in just a few months of being 21 I’ve checked a couple biggies off. I have the podcast up and running, I’ve corresponded twice already with my pen pal, I’m halfway through Pride and Prejudice, and my friend and I have grown basil and cherry tomatoes – I just have to put some photos up for posterity!

And then, of course, are the “make” goals: I tend to make the quickest progress with those, for some reason. Cinnamon buns, check! And now: sushi. I loved the process of making both these, and I’m hoping that when I make cheese, it will be equally fun.

My friend Billy (longtime fan of my blog, awesome Ultimate Frisbee player and sushi master extraordinaire) offered to bring the supplies for sushi creation to a potluck that another friend was having. I leaped at the idea, and found myself making my very own sushi (and eating a lot of his). I bought calrose (aka sushi) rice at the grocery store yesterday, and am really looking forward to making more sushi sometime soon.

I learned a couple important things about the process. First, the rice should be (if possible) not too sticky. We added rice vinegar to ours, and I think that helped. Second, adding brie cheese into the rolls is a revelation! Seriously, try it and see for yourself. Brie/mango? Perfect. I also learned that you should not be afraid of pressing hard when you’re rolling, and that a recently-sharpened knife will really help in slicing perfectly. Finally, rolling the nori sheets around the rice and filling is infinitely easier than rolling the rice around the nori and filling. Even if it’s a little less pretty, perhaps.

So much fun. I’m so happy that I’ve done this one! Now back to reading Austen.

Have a wonderful Monday everyone!


The Book Learning Podcast!

I am beyond thrilled to introduce: The Book Learning Podcast with Steph (that’s me!) and Gabrielle (my good friend from the interwebs!).

I’m so incredibly excited to finally share this project with you. It’s been simmering for months now, while we worked out the details – and there were a lot of details. My to-do list for the podcast, if I wrote it all out now, would overwhelm me beyond words. But luckily we just took it one step at a time, and are still sort of muddling through. The most important thing, though, is that it’s launched! Boom. Bam! Out into the world goes my incessant giggling and Gabrielle’s awesome work ethic, and our baby of a podcast.

Watch the video above or here + listen to/download the podcast here!

I’m anticipating some questions. Let me head them off here!

What is the podcast about? 

Gabrielle and I are both amateur writers, with 16 novels collectively under our belts (it’s a skewed distribution..one of us has 15 of those, and it ain’t me). We realized that we wanted to get to know each other better, share our writing/reading tips with each other and the world, and discuss our favourite (slightly nerdy) topics to our heart’s content. If you’re like-minded, tune in!

Can you give me some specs about the podcast?

The first episode is 40 minutes, and it was a length that felt natural. You can probably expect future episodes to be about the same length. We plan to podcast roughly once at week. We record our podcasts through the Google+ service, Hangouts on Air. That means that they’re live while we record! In future, we may even alert you to when we record, so you can stream it live if you so choose. After recording in a video format, we pull the audio directly from the video and convert it to mp3. Then it becomes a magical podcast! So you can watch or listen to the format of your choice: the video and audio versions have identical content.

Why should I listen to your podcast?

Well, because it’s awesome! And this is the first episode, so it can only improve with time. We have a lot of fun ideas for upcoming podcasts, including but not limited to:

  • How we feel about books being adapted into movies
  • Self-publishing
  • Writing schedules
  • Our favourite books
  • Where we get inspiration
  • How to successfully complete National Novel Writing Month
  • Being professionally critiqued
  • Handling rejection
  • And so many more! (Listen to the podcast for a few more)

What you can expect from the podcast is a light, fun conversation between two young writers who love to write and read, but don’t take themselves too seriously. Become friends with us!

What is the first episode about? I don’t have time to listen right now, but I want to get excited for when I can listen to it later!

The first episode introduces the podcast and the podcasters (that’s us!). We talk about how we “met”, and how we hope the podcast will make us better friends. We also tell the stories of writing our first novels! Then we discuss what we’re currently reading. That’s the short version, for the long version you’ll just have to listen to the podcast!

Share + Rate + Comment + Suggest!

As we try to get this podcast off the ground and up into the air, we need all the help we can get. We would be so appreciative for your feedback: any and all of it! Leave comments here, under the youtube video, at my email, on iTunes, wherever! Rate us on iTunes! Share the podcast with your friends using that beautiful thing called social media! Suggest topics for upcoming podcasts, or make suggestions about books we should read, or ask us questions. I can’t tell you how excited we would be to hear from you. I’m serious. I’m talking to you.

And last but not least: thank you to everyone who has already been supportive of this project, before they’d even heard it. You know who you are, and I love y’all so much. Thank you for the excitement and support. Keep it up!

xo, Steph.

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