The Brant House

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Tuesday, July 05, 2016

I’m not good at pauses. I’ve always had the hardest time coming back after little breaks. If I put down a book for more than a day, I’m unlikely to pick it back up. I have to be really invested in a show in order to wait and watch the new season as it airs instead of waiting until multiple season are on netflix (hint: there’s only been two of those, ever). When it comes to writing, this is even more true.

I have excuses. Many of them are certainly valid. How do I write about lighthearted matter when there have been two deaths in the family, several serious health issues, job insecurity, financial struggles, and more. More and more and more and just when I think it’s finally done, even more. How can I write something without sounding as wound up and brittle as I feel? And what do I write about?

The last few months have been very hard, but not without their fair share of beauty, either. We’ve got a busy summer planned, and it feels like it's nearly over already. But, we've been to the fair and the bay. We've borrowed stacks and stacks of books from the library--I'll have a book post up soon, I think. We're hoping to take the kids to Comic Con (fingers crossed), and we have swim lessons and out of town guests planned. We're trying to do this summer thing as best as we can.

As I type this, my two boys are building forts in their room, my husband is tearing out our kitchen floor, and I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to manage all our meals for the next few weeks with only access to a microwave. Summer!

Early 2016 Book Report

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Wednesday, March 09, 2016

I must have set a personal record for how few books I’ve read this year so far. I’ve only read 13 books since the beginning of this year, and two of those were graphic novels. I just can't seem to finish anything I pick up lately. I find myself listlessly thumbing through new books and daydreaming about older comfort reads, but not able to finish them either.

Feverborn by Karen Marie Moning. The 8th book in her Fever series. I vacillate between really liking and really disliking this book. Unlike most of her books it seemed as though nothing happened for a huge chunk of the book, and then there was a sudden cliffhanger ending. To be fair, these books are known for cliffhanger endings. But I can't remember feeling like any of the other books had chapters of narrative with nothing progressing plot-wise. On the other hand, the character development is fantastic.

Night Broken by Patricia Briggs. A re-read in preparation for the next book in the series which came out yesterday. I’ve been a fan of this series since the beginning, but this wasn't one of my favorite books in her series. Urban fantasy, 8th book in the series (with an additional four books in a spin-off series). One of the few series I recommend to people just coming in to the Urban Fantasy genre, begins with Moon Called which often goes on sale on kindle for $2-ish.

White Cat, Red Glove, and Black Heart by Holly Black. Fantastic books. They're YA, which made me hesitant to pick them up, but I am so glad I did. Cassel grows up believing he is the only non-magical person in his family of magical grifters and con artists. Over the course of the trilogy he learns otherwise, and has to come face-to-face with his con artist/grifting heritage. I love con artist/grifter movies, stories, shows, etc. mixing that and magic just makes my little heart sing.

Son of a grifter. Like I said before, I like reading/watching this sort of thing. This is a memoir about notorious mom-and-son grifter team, as told by the other brother. I found this book fascinating. It's hard to believe that they were able to get away with as much as they did for as long as they did.  

The complete photo guide to perfect fitting. This is a great sewing book, with pictures of different fitting problems and solutions to those problems. The only problem was I couldn’t find my fit problems addressed in the book.

The Colette sewing handbook by Sarai Mitnick. I’ve been reading Sarai’s blog for a very long time. I love her simple approaches and clear instructions. This book was surprisingly helpful for my fitting problem, even though I picked it up only to check out the sewing patterns.

Create the perfect fit by Joi Mahon. Still working through this book. Joi's method includes measuring out just about every measurable inch on a bodice and adjusting your flat pattern accordingly. She covers almost every possible problem you can have and how you would resolve it. I'm going to put it to use on my next two projects and see how it goes, but this may be a book I end up buying for reference.

Nesting doll dress progress

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Monday, March 07, 2016
Progress on Simplicity 1419. There are still a handful of issues that need to be tackled on this dress, but for now I'm calling the bodice good enough. Sleeves (in doll fabric) or sleeveless?

The armhole and sleeves are a bit tight--I can't lift my arm easily, so that needs to be fixed and I want to change the sleeve so it's a bit longer and straight across the arm instead of diagonal.

There is a bit of wrinkling still at the shoulders, but I think I'll live with it on this one. I also hand-sewed down an extra dart (almost a princess seam) that goes from the waist up through the bust dart, but I don't think it's too noticeable unless you're looking at it closely in person.

I should probably should take it up at least two rows of dolls, maybe even three. It lands about 2-3" below my knee which isn't a good length for me. And looking at these photos I'll probably take out the zipper so I can re-cut the skirt so the first row of dolls don't have their heads cut off. After 10 different muslins for the bodice I just got a little impatient and wanted to get this thing done.

Some days

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Wednesday, March 02, 2016

2016 has not gotten off to the best start, but I’m still hopeful it’ll turn around. It’s hard to post about anything lighthearted when all I can think about are the family, health, and other heavy topics which have taken up all of my time and energy. 

I’ve been meaning to do a post about Spark Joy by Marie Kondo. I read her other book, The life-changing magic of tidying up last year, and jumped on the chance to read this new book. It’s a step-by-step illustrated guide to her method of tidying. It's fantastic, but just came at the exact wrong time for me. I'm both inspired to clear out all my clutter and frustrated because I just haven't had the time to tackle things in the KonMari way.

What little free time I have had has been spent bouncing from one project to the next. I still need to tackle the last few fit issues of my nesting doll dress and sew up quite a few other projects in order to clear up my sewing nook. This weekend I picked up some pretty flowers and planted them. A little garden time did a world of good, I think.

 Spark Joy was provided to me for an honest review from Blogging for Books.


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Thursday, February 11, 2016


I always have trouble getting going again after taking a break from things. I feel like the next thing I do should be really special, like I need great pictures, a new great (completed) project, or a fun adventure to blog again.

We’ve been taking advantage of some really warm weather lately and heading out to the bay, Balboa Park and the park at every opportunity.
My preschool drop-off spot always has the best light for car selfies.
Matryoshka dress. There were a bunch of fitting issues, so I had to scrap this and buy another yard of fabric for a new bodice. You can’t tell in this picture, but there was a crazy amount of ease in the upper bust, all the way down through the waist.
I finished a project! Yay.


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Thursday, December 31, 2015
I blinked and the whole year was over. This year I realized I’m very much a homebody. I like my routines. Here’s my 2015, in list form:
  • I got glasses(!), which I only use when I’m reading, watching tv/movies, or driving at night.
  • I made regular tv/movie dates with my best friend and actually kept them.
  • I spent way too much money on really crappy clothes that didn’t really last the whole year.
  • Sewed a few skirts, a pair of pj pants, some dino hoodies, and attempted several dresses that ended up not fitting.
  • Watched my little ones grow.
  • Went “camping” with a friend at a friend-of-a-friend’s cabin in Palomar.
  • Saw a few friends move away, some only an hour away, some as far as Alaska.
  • Had a lump(s)-in-boob scare. Had a mammogram and found out it wasn’t anything to worry about.
  • I saw my mother go through a double mastectomy. She just finished her second-to-last reconstructive surgery. 
  • Had my house cleaned on a regular basis.
  • Went to the San Diego Fair.
  • Bought too many bento supplies.
  • Watched both my kids take swimming lessons without me in the water.
  • Watched my big guy repeatedly jump from the diving board in to the deep end at swim class (he loves swimming).
  • I saw my baby start preschool with his big brother.
  • Bought a new laptop.
  • Went to the Library about 1,000 times.
  • Dyed my hair purple.
  • Got a bazillion grey hairs.
  • Went to San Diego Comic Con (and took both boys)
  • Took the boys tent camping.
  • Watched as both boys hiked Stonewall Peak without being carried at all.
  • Watched Game of Thrones, Orange is the new black, and Peaky Blinders.
  • Read 120 books.
  • Went thrift and estate sale shopping more often than I should have.
  • Toured the e/v nautilus, one of only two dedicated ships of exploration in the world, and took photos with ROV Hercules.
  • Watched my big guy learn to ride a bicycle.
  • Showed my boys Star Wars for the first time.
  • Welcomed a new niece in to the world.
  • Had breakfast for dinner way too many times.
  • Went to the zoo about 1,000 times.
  • Moved my two boys in to twin beds. 
  • Saw Star Wars VII twice, once in imax 3d.


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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Saturday we met up with some friends and their 2- and 4-year-old boys and hiked Stonewall Peak. The hike could not have gone any better. The weather was clear and crisp but not cold, and the kids were fantastic. This was the first real hike for my boys, and I'm so glad to say that they did really well. Not a complaint from either of them, and they walked (ran!) the entire way without any fuss.

After the hike we headed to our campsite at Green Valley Falls, set up camp and had lunch. The way we worked it out, our family brought most of the camping gear, and theirs brought the food. It worked out really well, and I would definitely do it that way again.

Everything was pretty fantastic right up until around midnight, really up to that point it went as well as camping can go. But around midnight is when I realized that the down sleeping bags we borrowed and all they layers I was wearing just wasn't going to cut it. I couldn't get warm. I tossed and turned and froze all night, and as the night progressed I realized I was getting sick. At 3am, it was clear: I was definitely sick with a cold, and of course, that's when it started raining.

So, when the kids woke up at 6-ish, we made short work of tearing down and packing up the campsite and drove our soggy selves home.

All in all, it was a good time, and I would absolutely camp there the summertime. I have always maintained that I am not a cold-weather person, and this just stood to reinforce my belief. I'm not made for chilly weather at all.