I made a dress today. My first dress! It turned out pretty good. The pattern is Simplicity 3875 (otherwise referred to as the Duro Junior.) I didn’t make the more traditional Duro view; I made the v-neck with the crossover banding.
Here’s what I learned:
- My pattern was the wrong size, so I had to fudge a little on sizing it up to my measurements. This was actually pretty successful. I probably can take the shoulders back down a size, but otherwise, my alterations were pretty spot on. Except…
- The back-neck-to-waist measurement was two inches longer than on me, so I shortened the bodice by two inches. Because it’s an empire waist, though, two inches was too many. I should have shortened the bodice by 1 inch — maybe even only by half an inch — and taken the other inch or inch and a half off of the skirt front.
- The sleeves on this dress — the C pattern — are just not great. I don’t think it has anything to do with my construction or my alterations; they just aren’t good sleeves. The big problem is that I can’t lift my arms up at all. Next time I’ll make the B dress, which doesn’t have a set-in sleeve and thus should avoid that problem.
- This fabric, while a little heavy for the pattern, actually worked out quite well. It’s got a nice sheen to it, and it really sewed up beautifully. Given that it’s actually a home dec fabric, I am pretty happy with it.
Also, I made soufflés tonight. We had a sweet tooth.
This recipe always makes THREE, not TWO. One of these days I’ll remember that. The reason this is a problem tonight is that I doubled the original recipe because the ramekins I currently have are 2 cup ramekins, not the 1 cup ramekins the recipe calls for. But the recipe always makes three, ALWAYS. Which I just never remember. If I had remembered that the recipe always makes more than it’s supposed to, I would not have changed it at all, and it probably would have made just enough for two, 2-cup ramekins.
Anyway, here they are in the oven:
The recipe is here; the pictures on that post seem to have disappeared, probably during a migration at some point.
I finally finished my skirt, and I have to say, it didn’t turn out too badly. The zipper is still completely messed up, and the trim is slightly uneven, but overall, I think it turned out pretty cute.
Next up: a cute sundress in a fun sunflowery fabric. It’s going to take me a while to make it, based on the instructions.
I live in a great city for meat. Despite that, I’ve never bought meat anywhere but at the local grocery store or Whole Foods. The former has a pretty terrible selection and the quality isn’t terrific; the latter is just too damn expensive for every day. So I finally took the time to figure out where the nearest butcher is and, today, stopped by.
I was, admittedly, nervous. Which is ridiculous—I mean, we’re talking about a butcher shop, right? People have been buying meat from the butcher instead of the supermarket forever. But this butcher shop is in the meatpacking district and is very no frills and I really just had no idea how user-friendly it would be. (I hear stories of one place where you walk into, basically, the meat cooler and have to put on gloves so you can pick out your own meat. Ack!)
My nerves, though, were completely unwarranted. Not only was this shop VERY user-friendly—from the butcher who rummaged in the back for a couple of my special requests to the wholesale dealer who took five minutes to talk to me about the difference between two kinds of Polish sausage—but it was also CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP. Example: I managed to get out of there with 2-1/2 pounds of tenderloin for about $6/lb. (I also got a whole chicken, two beautiful ribeyes, some pork chops, and a pork blade steak for tacos later this week. The blade steak was $2. TWO DOLLARS. And it will feed us for at least one dinner with plenty for leftovers.)
Tonight, I took advantage of the tenderloin and made Beef Wellington for Two. I picked up a Cook’s Illustrated issue full of recipes scaled down for two people a few weeks ago, and the Beef Wellington looked amazing. Instead of wrapping an entire tenderloin in puff pastry, as is traditional for a Beef Wellington, this recipe calls for cooking the two portions individually.
First, I trimmed the tenderloin (it was actually the tenderloin head) and cut it into three pieces. (One piece went into the freezer; I’ll figure out something amazing to do with it later.)
Then I seared the steaks in a small pan on the stovetop.
The steaks went into a 425˚ oven for 15 minutes, along with the puff pastry, each on its own pan. While they cooked, I made the sauce—Madeira, mushrooms, Dijon mustard, and some other stuff.
Out came the steaks, to be smeared with paté (duck paté made with port wine, which I picked up at the grocery counter of the liquor store). For plating, I rested each steak on the bottom half of piece of puff pastry, topped with the sauce and the other half of the puff pastry. Served with steamed asparagus and a white wine beurre blanc.
The steaks were a touch overcooked—the next time I make this, I’ll shave a few minutes off the oven time as well as from the searing—but still very, very tasty, and the sauce was amazing. I’m calling this one a win.
It hasn’t been a bad week; things are picking up a bit at work, and I’m still feeling flush with the success of last weekend’s skirt making. I wanted to keep the good going, so I’ve spent tonight doing things I enjoy: watching trash movies and having a cocktail.
The trash movie is last weekend’s Meteor (part two on Sunday!), and the cocktail is a true Old Fashioned.
(OK, maybe not true — I don’t have any bourbon. ((I used Jack Daniels, a fair compromise.)) But there’s no fruit in my recipe — fruit does not belong in an Old Fashioned.)
Mix up some simple syrup if you don’t have some already. ((Put equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until it forms a light syrup. Cool before using. I just keep a jar of it in the fridge.))
Then, in an old fashioned glass (the short, fat, round kind), put several cubes of ice, two tablespoons of simple syrup (I used less because of the Jack Daniels), a couple dashes each Angostura bitters and Peychaud bitters ((You might have to search for the Peychaud bitters, but they’re worth it. Not just for the color — bright red — but for the flavor and aroma.)) and a couple of ounces bourbon. Scotch can work too, but I don’t really care for Scotch. Stir gently and enjoy slowly.
Snapping out of a funk is sometimes as simple as doing something with your hands. Being in a funk, I decided to do something with my hands–but something that would not cause me to gain weight, as my favorite hands-on hobby, cooking, tends to do. (I figure, if you’re going to make something fancy, why worry about the calories? Bring on the butter!)
So I pulled the sewing machine back out this weekend, and set to make a garment–and this time, to follow instructions and not get frustrated like the last time I tried to make a garment. (For the record, The Ugliest Skirt Ever.)
After a trip to the remnant room at the neighborhood fabric store (and a second trip back for a lining fabric), I created this:
It still needs to be hemmed, though I think I’ll keep it longer than knee-length; it seems to work on this particular skirt.
As you can see below, the zipper/waistband was a total fail and I still haven’t finished the trim:
But I made it! And it’s pretty good for a first (genuine) effort!
I leave you with the pretty lining:
(Oh, the skirt was modeled, in all but the mirror photo, by my duct tape dress form which Mr. Angst Very Kindly helped me create this weekend.)
So it’s been a while.
I’m still here.
I’m wanting to write again, but there’s not much I can say right now. Work is verboten and there’s not much going on in my life besides work. That’s not to say I’m crazy busy—indeed, my schedule is very manageable. So manageable that I stress out about my hours on a very regular basis. Many of my colleagues are in the same position. Needless to say, the work environment isn’t super right now. ((I had a great April and May, and so did a lot of my colleagues. I think it left us unprepared for a big summer slowdown.)) Given that I’m leaving the firm in a few months to clerk, when I say things are bad, you know they have to be pretty shitty.
It’s more than just the general slowness. It’s the way big firm lawyers react to being slow. We’re risk averse people, we lawyers. Unpredictable workflow causes us to attempt to create some semblance of stability by hoarding work. I say “us” but I don’t mean me. I have no work to hoard. I only get work when it flows downhill and right now, there’s just not a lot coming my way.
This sounds unbelievably gloomy. It’s really not all horrible. I have due course matters that give me a few hours here and there, and some of them are showing signs of life right now. But it’s hard to get back to feeling good about my profession when I’ve been down in the dumps about it for so long. And it really is the profession as a whole, in this particular time. Because I like my firm. I like the people I work with. I love my work, when I have it. Almost every negative thing I can say about my job right now is directly related to the crappy economy and the rational responses of my firm to the downturn. Damn, it sucks to be so logical sometimes—I can’t even sustain genuine anger at my employer because however crappy morale is right now, there’s nothing they can do about it. Legal services have become a luxury and big law associates are the victims.
Today, in an effort to control something, I bought a box of color and did my own hair. I haven’t done my own color in a while—I’ve been having it done by a terrific stylist, who I really like and who does a phenomenal job, but she’s not cheap and I did my own color for so long, and with good results, that I decided to just take that duty back. But I can’t do the lovely, subtle golden highlights I’ve been paying so much for in my bathroom, so I went back to red. And this little exercise of control has thrown me completely out of whack. I guess I didn’t realize how much I liked being sort of blonde, how much that had become part of my identity. And I guess I didn’t realize how risk averse I myself have become, because now I am freaking out at how much darker my hair is—so much so that it will certainly be noticed at work, and possibly commented on by people whose notice I generally try to avoid.
In other words, I have become afraid. A shrinking violet. Nervous. Self-conscious. Insecure. And I really am not any of those things, or wasn’t, until lately. And I don’t like being this way. I think I mostly do a good job of keeping a stiff upper lip and all that, but apparently underneath that stiff lip is a mushy little wimp. Any little change turns that wimp into spaghetti—even, it seems, a positive, taking-control-of-my-own-life kind of change.
The thing is that, even though I’m down and blue and tired and scared, I know when it ends for me–and I am counting the days to my clerkship, let me tell you. The rest of my colleagues probably aren’t so lucky. I know a lot of them feel the same way I do. But there’s no answer for them, no light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s easy to say that we’ll–I’ll–be stronger for having had this experience. It doesn’t make the living of it easy, though.