Wednesday, June 28, 2006


That's how long the machinery directly in front of my house has been blasting, drilling and doing other very very loud things. There's a massive overhaul of our town's sewage system going on (and on, and on, and on....), due, I'm told, to problems with the system getting overloaded after heavy rains which resulted in sewage being dumped directly into the harbor.
The blasting that shakes the house and knocks things off the shelves is bad, but it's nothing compared to the incessant roar of machines that wears you down until you are unable to think or function. And I'm sure I don't need to tell you about effects of the nails-on-a-blackboard SQUEAL of a gargantuan drill boring through ledge about five feet from one's home.
Had I known the hell the overhaul would entail, I would have campaigned to vote it down with the slogan "Fish poop in the water, why can't we?"

Now, "Forever" by Judy Blume is a different thing entirely. Sadly, the love of Katherine and Michael didn't last as long as the project in front of my home will, but I kept it alive by reading and rereading it many times in my formative years.
It was the first novel I ever read that really dealt with sex, and I found it fascinating and worthy of much study (much to the dismay of the babysitter who had to answer the many questions my friends and I barraged her with on the subject - and do you think the mention of a babysitter implies that we were a bit too young for this tome?). This book was practically required literature for my generation, and I don't think any who read it can hear the name "Ralph" without a little snort of laughter and a prurient thought or two.
I ran across my copy of it a couple days ago while sorting through some books I had packed away. You'd think a book with a title like "Forever" would hold up better to a couple (hundred) readings.

Monday, June 26, 2006

more flea market finds

This one speaks for itself. Of course I bought it for the cover, but it turns out that there are some pretty cool patterns in it that I might try (because experimentation is perfectly normal).

I also bought another book that isn't quite as entertaining, but has some really nice patterns for bags and shoes (!). The shoes all call for "cork wedge soles" with various style numbers. I guess they have a row of stitches along the sole that you crochet into. I doubt you can still buy them, but I'm sure I can come up with a substitute if I feel a need to do a little cobbling.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

My Kitsch-en

Our kitchen had 1950s metal cabinets in it when we moved in, so I decided to embrace the retro and painted them pink. When the kitchen was first painted it made me happy every time I went in there- it was so deliciously Candyland*. However, after a couple years it fell on hard times and I started to refer to it as Barbie's Crack House.
After whining last month about the state of disrepair my house was in, I went on a bit of a crusade to spruce up the kitchen (well, the plan was actually to spruce up practically every room in the house, but this is as far as I've gotten). I didn't change the colors much, but most everything got a new coat to freshen it up, along with a whole lot of caulk to fill in various gaps that occurred after our attached barn was jacked up. Now it's finally semi-photogenic.
At some point in the (hopefully) not too distant future, we'll be doing a total kitchen renovation - knocking down a wall, removing the vinyl flooring, getting the La Cornue stove I've been wanting, etc... (well, that last one's probably not going to be happening, but the rest is pretty likely).
Making do for now isn't so bad though now that it's repainted.


edit: I first published this post from my laptop, which appears to be in desperate need of some monitor calibration. The images looked perfectly fine to me when I did them, but later on I saw what they looked like on other monitors - dark and beige. I couldn't have pictures of my cabinets looking all band-aid colored, so I went back and did some adjusting. Unfortunately, I may have gotten a wee bit carried away, as it now looks like the room is basking in the bright lights of an alien ship that seems to have landed in the center of everything.
I'm ok with that though. I watched all three seasons of Roswell, so one thing I know is that aliens are hot.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

the festive frock

We received an invitation to a wedding reception that requested that we "dress festive". My first thought, obviously, was to wear my wedding dress. It's extremely festive, and it must be appropriate to wear to a wedding or it would have a different name (I was thinking of forgoing the entourage to carry my train, though - no need to make a scene).
Sadly, my wedding dress is still splattered with the champagne and cake I drunkenly spilled the last time I wore it, so that was out.
The day of the reception arrived and I decided to try to finish a dress that had long been stuffed in my clothes-that-need-work bureau. The dress had never looked right on me - it was too high-waisted, too long, it had sleeves that seemed rather blah, and the overall effect was less than flattering.
After I bought it, I took the sleeves off and the sash apart, and then I lost interest in it and left it in pieces that went on to mock me every time I opened the drawer.
Finishing the job meant that I had to take in the dress under the arms (now that it was sleeveless, the armholes gapped obscenely), and then hem the edges. I solved the waist problem the easy way by making the sash wider than it used to be and wrapping it around where I wanted the waist to be, thus hiding the high waist and making a more flattering fit. I also shortened it to knee length. After lots of starching and ironing it was party time!
And have I mentioned how much I love my new petticoat?

Friday, June 16, 2006

and now there are two

On the left is Count Olaf, and on the right is Captain Mal.
Each one is about 6 inches across.
In the time it took me to write the entry that I posted earlier, the second moth crawled out of his cocoon. They've already made one escape (down the hallway), and had to be herded back to their room. I have to confess that I'm a little bit scared of them - their wings are beautiful, but their bodies are the type that make you want to scream and grab a rolled up newspaper. I'm sure they both have lovely personalities, though.

Things various and sundry

Good news- we're not the moth murderers that I had feared. I guess we just have a batch of late bloomers since a polyphemus moth came out today (I'll be posting a picture as soon as he has his wings spread out).
This one is a male - you can tell by the large antennae (heh... large antennae...). Its wings are beautiful, but the body is kind of scary and prehistoric looking. Sort of tarantularian. Hopefully the others will come out to face the world soon and it will be a big love-fest.

I now interrupt this blog to send out a personal message to someone I shall call Alanonymison (because that name really has a nice ring to it). Alanonymison has a lovely 4 year-old daughter that I shall call Rowan (because that's her name), who has the most amazing fashion sense. She can work multiple stripe patterns like nobody's business, she makes diaphanous iridescent capes seem like something we all should start wearing around town every day, and her use of fairy-wings as a fashion accessory had people speaking of her in awed tones for days.
It seems unfair that only the people in midcoast Maine are able to view the outfits that Rowan puts together, so I think Alanonymison would be doing the world a service if she started a blog where she posted daily about the fashion-forward ensembles Rowan has devised.
It could be called something like
It wouldn't even need words, just a photo a day. Think about it.

And now back to our regular programming...
I was visiting Thriftcraft recently and ran across a mention of a girl in Sweden who puts together some really great outfits (that's her on the right). I'm a little too old to pull off some of the more little-bo-peepish ones (if you're over 20, which I'm long past, the look gets a little creepy and reminiscent of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane), but some of them have me practically taking notes and doing sketches. I want that coat!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

my poufy dress

"Anonymous" requested photos, and what Anonymous wants, Anonymous gets...

I hate having my picture taken, so I opted to photograph my dressform in the outfit I posted about earlier. The photo-styling leaves a bit to be desired (note the duct tape on the dress form), but that's the best I could do tonight.
This is a dress that I bought on ebay quite a while ago. The original waistband was up around my ribs (like most dresses from this time period are on me) and it was too long, so I did some alterations. After shortening it, I separated the skirt from the bodice and then added a waistband thingie made from the fabric I had removed from the bottom. It was kind of a big pain in the butt: I had to add interfacing to stiffen the fabric, the zipper needed to be removed and reinserted, and it was rather challenging getting the fit right.
It's not perfect, but I'm pretty happy with the end result.

edit: I made another attempt at a photoshoot (image on left), this time with better light and the duct tape removed. I promise I only Photoshopped a window removal and not any dress alterations this time (although a couple of well-place pins were very helpful!).

late-breaking petticoat news

As I've mentioned before, I've been spending time flouncing about lately, trying on vintage dresses with my new petticoat while pretending to be various stars from the 1950s (I'm Donna Reed! I'm Doris Day! I'm the Bad Seed!). However today is the first day that I've actually ventured beyond my driveway in one of the outfits. I probably look a little silly, seeing as I'm constantly self-consciously tugging on various parts of my ensemble, but overall it's going well and I feel pretty darn sassy.This may be just the motivation I need to get going on my vast collection of garments awaiting alteration (if you thought I hadn't been posting about the alterations because I was so darn busy altering, you were quite mistaken).
Now if only the wind would die down enough for me to make it back to work without making a public scene...

end of day edit: Despite my fears of a gust of wind blowing my dress and petticoat up around my head, I did make it back to work with my dignity intact (or at least no less intact than usual).
I have to say that I'm still a huge fan of the petticoat, but I definitely feel they're more suited for wearing to events that only last a few hours rather than wearing one all day. After 12 hours I couldn't wait to get into something more comfortable.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

New comment doodad

I just changed to a new comment system, and I'm not sure yet if it's functioning properly. If anyone has any problems posting a comment please send me an email at petuladarling (at) hotmail (dot) com.
I'm afraid the old comments that were on here may have been lost - there's supposed to be some way for me to retrieve them, but I haven't figured it out yet. I promise I didn't delete your comments deliberately.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The lone moth

This is Luna (pretty clever name, huh?). She's the only moth that has hatched so far. We thought we were "thawing" the polyphemus moths, but there seems to have been a bit of a mix-up.
She's been sitting patiently on the window sill for 5 days waiting for a mate to come along, but no one has arrived. A few days ago I saw two of the cocoons moving, and I've also recently heard them make some scratching sounds, so all hope isn't lost. Of course, even if the rest of that batch suddenly hatch, there's a chance that they'll be the wrong species and she'll still be without a mate. Since Luna moths only live for 7-10 days, I'm hoping the others hatch quickly.
I'm feeling rather guilty about it all, despite having gone into moth-rearing with the best of intentions. The whole experience is calling to mind the old margerine commercial that advised, "Don't mess with Mother Nature" (who knew it was actually a public service announcement?).

Isadora isn't too happy about the presence of Luna or her cocoon kin. I think this picture is pretty funny, but she was displaying some rather unpleasant territorial behaviour and had to be sent to solitary shortly after this photo was taken.

I think I'm going to console myself now by pretending I'm doing research on musical-themed aprons while watching some season 6 Buffy episodes.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


That was kind of scary. I felt just like Milo in The Phantom Tollbooth when he started conducting the sunrise and things went smoothly at first, and then slowly, horribly, awry. Every time he tried to correct something, he made everything so much worse until the sky was yellow, snow was light green (at least it wasn't the other way around), and the sun seemed to speed through the sky.
Did you see the plaid all over the place? Did you see the accordion post appear 43 times on the page interspersed with the petticoat/brains? Lucky for me a week didn't fly by for things to get more or less back in line.


The blog makeover went too well, so I had to start messing with the code and now I've made...well..a mess.
Please bear with me.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Check out the kicky plaid!

The site redesign was pretty minor codewise. Hopefully I got rid of the somewhat pestilential tinge that was being displayed on some monitors.
While I'm waiting for the #$%^&* camera cable to arrive, I thought I'd share some links:

A Dress A Day features, as you might imagine, an image of at least one dress every day. Most of them are chosen for their fabulousness, but every once in a while she throws in one because it's so fabulously dreadful. Erin, the author, also shows dresses that she's made herself.

Another site that I've had featured in my sidebar all along is Posie. If you haven't checked out Alicia's blog, you're missing out. It's cuter than a basket of kittens (and much better behaved), and it's very well written. I used to check out her online store fairly often, and I was so happy when she started blogging.

I've mentioned Tie One On, the monthly apron sew-along, before. The theme for June is to make an apron inspired by your favorite musical. Sadly, I have no idea what sort of apron would go along with Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Once More With Feeling, so I will probably not be participating.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A moth is born

It took a little longer than expected, but the first moth crawled out of its cocoon today.
Unfortunately, I seem to have lost the cable that connects the camera to the computer, so, unless I can coax him onto the scanner, the pictures will have to wait until the new cable arrives.

Monday, June 05, 2006

International Accordion Awareness Month

It's true. I heard about it on NPR today- June is international accordion awareness month.
While I'm sure many people feel it's unfortunate that a shorter month wasn't chosen, we here at chez Petula feel that any month that celebrates the accordion is an auspicious month indeed. Davis Darling has recently taken up playing this tragically misunderstood instrument, so when I'm not listening to a beginner's wheezing oompapas earliest melodies, I'm hearing the strains of his new accordion album collection.
Fortunately, listening to someone learn to play the accordion isn't as bad as one might think. The sound doesn't carry that far, and there's none of the screeching that accompanies early attempts at some other instruments.

This is supposed to be a crafty blog, yet I don't have much of a crafty nature to post about right now. I'm currently refurbishing a cute '50s dress, but, since I don't think images of an armpit being taken in are likely to interest anyone, I'll hold off on the photos until it's finished. I think I'll also pass on keeping the world abreast of this week's home improvement tasks ("Here's a 'before' photo of some chipped paint." "Ooooh, look at how I've touched it up and now it's all one color and only moderately lumpy.").
I am going to be doing a little blog makeover soon (what, it's almost a month old- it's due for a little nip/tuck!), which is kind of a virtual craft. Hopefully things won't look too wonky while it's under the knife.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Petticoat Junction

My latest fashion fixation is the petticoat. Not in a fetishwear or gothic-Lolita kind of way, but in an I-think-I-finally-figured-out-what-my-50's-dresses-need way. All these years I just thought I wasn't built to carry off the New Look, being more tongue-depressor shaped than wasp-waisted, when turns out I may have just needed some pouf.
I snuck in an order online for one just before the start-date of Wardrobe Refashion (I didn't have much desire to make my own), and it arrived yesterday. It was a little scrunched from shipping, and my first reaction was to feel like I was wearing a lampshade when I tried it on, but I think I've grown to love it. I spent at least half an hour last night flouncing around in various dresses (that all need work, of course) pretending I was Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina.
Now I just need to run across a tutorial on Petticoats 101 which discusses their care and, more importantly, the proper length of a petticoat in relation to that of the skirt it's under.

I would also like to share the picture of a petticoat that I did NOT buy: find brains...

swing by the archives to see more petulishness
(the link is in the sidebar on the right)