Monday, December 17, 2012

So it's been awhile

I have a lot of excuses.  I'm tired.  I'm pregnant.  I have two toddlers.  I busted our camera two weeks ago and am still broken up about it - blogging is just a reminder that I dropped the darn thing AGAIN.  Also apparently I have reached the limit on the number of photos I can upload to the blog - or something - so anything I post now will be illustration-less.  I'm sure there is a work-around but I've been too busy preparing for our trip (read: sewing like a crazy person) to figure out what it is.

But in just a few days I will be cruelly separated from my sewing machine and with a lot more time on my hands (I hope), and then maybe I'll have time to post all of the posts that have been bouncing around in my head.  I've got some thoughts on Disney princesses (why I like them, actually), on driving in Georgia (not so much), that road trip to Yerevan, a number of sewing projects and probably some other stuff I am forgetting.

I'll be back.  I swear.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Been working on something ...

... for about six months.  Figured I might as well give you all a sneak peek.

Made a few receiving blankets too, but those are in a suitcase in a closet and being six-and-a-half months pregnant, I couldn't get it out by myself.

This is my excuse for infrequent blog posts.  I've been trying to stay off my feet, which is challenging with two high-energy toddlers running around.  I had grand plans for a full hand-sewn layette, but the above (and those blankets) might be all we end up with.

Stay tuned, as I do have some stuff to blog about, including a road trip we took to Yerevan earlier this month, and some more crafts.  Hopefully I'll find some time to blog about those in the near future.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Road trip to Batumi

Since we arrived in Georgia two months ago, Jeremy has already taken two work trips to Batumi.  We had hoped to accompany him on the second one, but the logistics just didn't work out.  So Jeremy took Friday off and we set out on the 240-mile drive at about 9:30 a.m. It was the longest our kids had ever been in a car - we did DC-OBX this summer, but that is only four hours.  

They did pretty well.  The built-in DVD player in our truck helped.  I had considered the DVD player a luxury; we bought the car used in a small market, and it just happened to have one. But I'm now thinking this may be a staple item in any future car we buy.

Anyway.  As is typical for the Caucasus, parts of the drive were lovely, and parts were, well, not so lovely.

The road was quite good, considering, even winding through mountains and various tiny villages.  The villages en route to Batumi (and, I'm told, throughout Georgia) each seem to specialize in one particular handicraft. First you pass through the hammock village, where outside every house for at least a mile hang hammocks and childrens' swings for sale. I am not sure how anyone makes any money, saturated as the market is.

You also drive through a village specializing in clay pots, from the tiny to the large-enough-to-fit-a-grown-man (these are meant for wine).

There is the village that is "the only place to get a decent cup of coffee" between Tbilisi and Batumi. It features three storefronts offering Lavazza coffee to go.

We stopped only in the village where there are at least 50 little old ladies hawking an eggy honey bread baked in a stone oven.  One large loaf=$1.25.

We rolled into Batumi about six hours after we had left home (including a lengthy lunch stop).  I had been there once, seven years ago, and was astonished at the changes.

My visit in 2005, unfortunately pre-blog, involved a stay in a rented apartment and a terrifying encounter with gypsies who tried to climb in through the window and spent the entire night breaking glass and yowling like wounded cats (or perhaps wounding actual cats, who then yowled), outside our window.  Back then, Batumi was very run-down and not very attractive.

Now, however, the Black Sea resort town is home to multiple luxury hotels, and Donald Trump is said to be building a new one in the future.  It's also home, as you can see, to some questionable architecture. And the water is still kind of dirty.  The Outer Banks it's not, but still, it was nice to spend a weekend at the beach.

We stayed in the Sheraton, in a beautiful 17th floor suite Jeremy got for cheap thanks to his recent visit and some shrewd bargaining. November is off-season in Batumi so there were maybe five other guests at the hotel.

The views were pretty awesome.

The next day, we drove 20 minutes south to Sarpi, the border crossing into Turkey. I remembered from my previous trip that the water there was much cleaner than that in Batumi proper (Batumi is a port and all those ships coming in and out don't make for very clear water).

We spent several hours there, throwing rocks, playing in the one patch of black sand on the stony beach, and eventually, when it warmed up a bit, swimming in a picturesque lagoon.

Note the mosque on the Turkish side of the border. There is
 a Georgian Orthodox church on the Georgian side. 

I had hoped to enjoy a seaside dinner, watching the sunset over the Black Sea. Unfortunately, shortly after these photos were taken, I came down with either food poisoning or a stomach bug, and spent the rest of our trip in bed.  Jeremy and the girls enjoyed a surprisingly tasty and reasonably priced room service dinner.  Kids eat free!  

Sadly, we ended up leaving Sunday instead of Monday, due in part to my illness.  It was a rough road home, but still a great vacation (and good practice for next weekend, when we will hit the road again).

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Anyone for Jumprope?

While in the U.S., I bought some purple corduroy with the intention of making Natasha a Jumprope Dress from Oliver+S patterns.  When I got to cutting it out, however, I found that I had somehow bought too small a quantity of the fabric for a 3T dress.  So it ended up being 2T and went to Zoia, who was thrilled to get a new dress (poor kid, hand-me-downs are particularly tough when your sister wore them just last year).  I really wanted to make Natasha a dress too, and the only cord I had in the right amount was charcoal gray.  I was excited about the dress, because the gray goes perfectly with some beautiful ribbon from my late grandmother's stash, which I have been dying to use ever since I acquired it.  I knew it would be a risk, though, since the dress wouldn't be pink, purple, flowery or sparkly.  I decided to forge ahead.

I really love both dresses.  Natasha, predictably, protested putting hers on, and declared it "for a boy." We'll see whether I can ever get it on her again.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gondola over old town

The last few Sundays after church, we have been going to a little French cafe in Tbilisi's old town.  The cafe sits directly under the cable car line that leads to the hill behind the old town. Natasha asks every week to ride on the gondola, and last week we finally did it. She was thrilled.  Zoia took a little more getting used to, but by the time we rode back down, she enjoyed it. Mother Georgia, a large silver-colored statue, also stands on the hill. I told Natasha she was a princess (!) and so the girls gladly agreed to take a walk over to her.

Nariqala Fortress.

The glass-bottomed car is a bit scratched up ...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Morning at Ananuri

One great thing about being in Georgia with princess-obsessed toddlers is that castles, or things that look like castles, are pretty easy to come by.  On Saturday we decided to drive to Ananuri, which is a legitimate castle at the edge of a normally lovely reservoir (on this particular day the water was pretty low and it was less lovely than usual).  The girls had a blast exploring the many little passages and caverns within the fortress.  We found a lizard crawling around on the outer wall. We had a tailgate picnic afterwards, and were home in time for naps. A good time had by all.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

KCWC Days 6 and 7

Continuing with the Oliver + S theme, I finished off this KCWC with two Sunday Brunch skirts and a Hopscotch top.  The skirts (burgundy corduroy) turned out so cute, but I could not get a good photo of the girls together in them. Also, funny to note, Z's skirt is actually two sizes larger than N's. They actually have almost the same measurements, but Z needed a bigger size because of her cloth-diapered rear, whereas N is potty-trained (hooray!).  I really really wanted N to wear her black knit boots with this outfit (because, how cute would that have been?), but the kid officially has a fashion sense and it had to be the blue sparkly shoes.

The Hopscotch top was super-exciting because it is my first knit item on a serger, and the first knit item I've sewn that didn't make me want to tear all my hair out. Only some. But I'm still figuring the serger out. I made a straight 3T rather than worry about fiddling with the pattern. It's a little roomy on N, but then, so are all her store-bought shirts.  Excuse the filthy tights - this was after several spills off her bike. Also, I guess we're doing funny poses now :)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

KCWC Days 3, 4 & 5

It's been busy around here.  Last night I finally finished my second Playdate dress.  I really love this dress. I also love that Natasha was super-excited to wear it, despite its definite lack of pink, purple, and flowers.  It is a little snug around the armholes, though, so when I finally sew the velveteen for her Christmas dress, I will go up a size. No more mock-ups, though, this is it.