i read, somewhere in blogland, about a tradition of writing down memories/things that happened in the past year---stuff that you're ready to be done with---and then, SETTING THEM ON FIRE. burn 'em up baby!!! at some point during the day, that is SO happening at the balloona household. to be followed by a happy shouting about everything we are enormously lucky to have in our lives.

probably while drinking some alky-hol.

don't forget, clock is ticking on my little giveaway! and oh, your advice on my white elephant is AWESOME! so far i think a mix of dye job/jumpsuit is the frontrunner. thank you so very much, lovely peeps, for coming by and sharing your thoughts with me. the happiest of new beginnings, everyone!


like white on rice

i wore this dress two christmases ago during the peak of my, ahem, monthly strife. no, let's call a spade a spade. it was an all out NUCLEAR WAR in my uterus.

ballsy, no?

although said strife is now a happy little walk through the park, this baby has stayed in the closet since then. you really can't go galavanting around in a floor length white dress more than once. 

it's made from this great vintage pattern i swapped with the ever rocking emilykate. loooove this pattern and will use it for the summer soon! i seriously made this in one night. i got home from work to find a gene kelly marathon on.  ruggy was sound asleep in another time zone, and i was going stag to my office christmas party the next day. i had a very sad black sweater dress to wear. gene told me it simply wouldn't do. (he said it with a gentle smile though, he's so caring, that man.) so, downstairs landlord and his rule of no noise after 8pm be damned, i whipped out the vintage jackhammer sewing machine and worked in a happy musical frenzy till 3 am. 

but... what the hell do i do with this white elephant now?! dye it? keep it for my possible future twin daughters to fight over (not preggers, mom and dad.)? it's made of this great textured jersey knit, and it's actually kind of heavy. i was nice and toasty that night. i even tied it up into a high knot when the evening carried me & my coworkers to a salsa club. 

advice, anyone?


maybe it's much too early in the game-- now closed; winner announced later today!

or too late in the season for giveaways. tell me true, is it a bad idea to host a blog giveaway at the end of december? and is it maybe an even WORSE idea to give already holi-dazed peeps a mere three days to enter... one of those days being christmas eve?!

i may have gotten a bit over excited. 

okay. i call a do-over. because i CAN. so, if you would still like this tiny capelet, here's how to enter!

1. comment on this post telling me what you'll do with it. extra points for making me laugh.

2. follow me for another chance to win.

3. link to my giveaway on your blog for a third chance to win.

4. enter by january tenth

5. and YES, although i'm picking out of a hat, if you make me laugh you may get a prize anyway!

now, i am quite aware that the lack of entries may be due to the fact, that umm, no one likes this wee capelet. i mean, modcloth didn't like it either. no matter! i do believe it's darling and meant to grace someone's neck. so if one peep enters, then my peep, it shall be yours! if no peep enters, well then i'll cry. 

no seriously i will.

see more detailed pics at the original post here.

ps: to the lovely ladies who did comment originally.... um, did you mean to enter? i couldn't tell!!! hosting a blog giveaway is HARD!!! i need coffee and croissants. luckily i have some. 'kthnxloveyoumeanitbye!


courtesy of my secret santa

merry merry!

ps: i think i'm totally confused by my giveaway. i think you might be too. extended contest and better explanation coming soon. 


i'll have a purple christmas

do you play sercet santa? i do. ferociously, and with much yelling and stomping of feet. 

i head up the secret santa at work, and this was our last one--we all say goodbye to each other come january 9. rather than curl up and hoard our collective pennies, this was the brightest holiday ever.

peeps hid flowers. wrote poems. left gifts hiding everywhere. every 5 minutes, screams of thanks could be heard echoing up and down the stairwells from happy recipients.

and i had the BEST SECRET SANTA IN THE WORLD. i am serious. this is the one, the ONE person you want to get that you're sure you will never be lucky enough to get. my head about popped off when my santa revealed herself. i am a brat at christmas, it can't be helped, and boy did she have me pegged. i had something beautiful to open every day (one gift being a bag full of goodies from MJ trimmings, thankyouverymuch). i was just floored. shouted about it every night after work to ruggy. i think he may have lost some hearing over it.

and continuing my lucky streak, i chose someone who specifically requested a handmade gift for christmas! i mean, COME ON!!! i rushed out and spent my limit on goodies to shower her with all week long, then went to searching my stash for the perfect purple fabric (lucky me again, her favorite color). 

then the dreaded sewing stall hit. i had nada. robe? maxi dress? lounge pants? FEH. enter burdastyle & modcloth's handmade contest (seriously, i'm a groupie), and bang! inspiration struck! 
modcloth's ever awesome dresses got my brain churning: time for scrunch and who wants to be a frillionaire. i wanted to play up the texture of these dresses with an equally frilly accessory. one can never have too many frills.

she opened it yesterday at our holiday potluck and loved it.  and i will never forget the joyous cacophony that erupted as everyone tore into their prizes together, hugging and laughing and yelling and full of amazing home cooked pernil and banana pudding and most of all, love.

one of my best friends is getting this lavender one on christmas day. and don't forget, you can win your own lacey oonaballoona accessory here!


a lacey holiday prize for you.....

oona: hey ruggy! whaddaya think?

ruggy: it's very black...

... and sort of... puritanical...

... and not at all really the kind of thing you wear...

oona:  I  KNOW!!!

okay peeps, this one's for you! for my second ever blog giveaway, i'd like to present one fabulous gal or guy with this teeny black puritanical cape. it's made of rows and rows of soft ruffled and pleated lace, completed with a vintage jewelry closure. it's one of my modcloth handmade contest entries (once again i have burdastyle to thank for kicking my ass into sewing gear, all hail burdastyle, et spiritus santi), and it was inspired by this dress. it fits, oh say, up to a 14" neck (my neck is 12"). EDIT: i will happily size this up or down for the winner. else, what kind of santa would i be?

while i stay away from black like the plague, i gather it's an oft rocked color choice of many. i think it would look awesome with the inspiration dress, natch, but how about with jeans, tank top and blazer for a laid back new years?

to win, just leave a comment on this post and tell me what you'll do with your teeny cape. will you rock it with a ballgown? give it to your best friend? use it as a fancy collar for a four legged friend? for an extra chance to win, follow my blog, the gadgetmajig is over on the sidebar... peeps who already follow are thanked, hugged, and get their extra entry.

you can enter anytime between now and midnight christmas eve. the winner will be picked christmas morning, saturday december 25. and wherever you are in the world, it doesn't matter. YAY! i hope you like it enough to enter!

EDIT: giveaway extended, see the new rules & comment to enter at this post by january tenth! 


the shirt that was a skirt that didn't compete

long ago and far away, i had aspirations to enter the burdastyle/project runway remake challenge. i grabbed my old beloved anthropologie silk skirt, which had been sitting in my closet for years, unworn but loved. it had grown too tight.

(everyone knows clothing grows, not your body).

i wouldn't have touched it if not for the contest. however, quite stupidly, i forgot to take the "before" shot of the skirt.



so, now i have a new shirt. cody seems to like it, and it gets a LOT more wear than the skirt did. the entries for this contest were fabulous-- some of my faves were in the winners' circle, and although i don't think i would've gotten very far it would have been nice to, you know, say i'm gonna do something and see it through.

←but i did see this one through... and i made it to the top 50! YAHOO!!! it's stiff competition, but i'm pretty thrilled to be in the finalists.

okay, screw that, yes it's an honor, but REALLY what i want is that bernina. oh, computamarized machine of my dreams, please come and sit on my desk.  i mean, if i won money, that would be awesome, but i would keep it in a drawer and obsess over which bernina to put it towards.

go check out the top 50... and maybe throw a vote my way if you likey :). i'm number 32!

which is roughly the size of my waist after my skirt went on its shrinking binge.

(edit: you can vote for as many peeps as you like.)


peanut butter sandwiches

i am about to take this....

and make it into a christmas tree, a la anthropologie. yes, including the cat litter. i'm not even lying. 

tutorial to follow....


i haz sewing skillz again!

well, i mean, that's subject to opinion but really, but i'm pretty happy about my new dress. and freaking thrilled that i actually FINALLY finished a project and entered a burdastyle contest!

yeah, that's my face. but more importantly, please do check out the exposed brick wall behind me. avec long crack and old paint circa 1947. yes, friends, this is the wall from the infamous bedroom debacle. what a great job they did, eh? such attention to detail.

whatever. i've decided to embrace it and go with some sort of restoration-vintage-goes-mod combo. i think i'm going to shove flowers and little matchbox cars into the wall and make it a piece of art.

but i digress.

this party frock took me about a week. i was racing along when i realized (for the 73rd time) that it is almost impossible to drape without a dress form. i realized this where i always do, when i got to the back of the dress. luckily i've got a girlfriend at work with a booty.

as for my front, i've got many tiny pinmarks that made me scratch my head in confusion, until i remembered yards of lace falling off me while i cursed my hand for having the gall to stick my torso.

that's a lot of pin sticks.

i used the roses in the lace to line up all the pin tucks. nothing would really mark this lace, so the seams were all done by eye and with fingers crossed.

i decided to use vintage brooches from my grandmothers for closures, that way i can change it up for the occasion. i think i'm going all christmas-y with this one. BY THE WAY. where the hell did the time go? how are stores decorating for christmas?

to enter the contest, you had to make a mood board of the era you were inspired by. i did a mix of 1720 & 1980, via watteau and the one-and-only prince. google quite rightly will not let me upload my board, since the shots were swiped from the web, but you could always go check it out over on burdastyle, wink wink. and maybe even vote for me later if you like what you see!

i think the prince reference is pretty obvious. i was going for purple rain, but it even goes a little towards that 90s sexy MF performance...

anyone remember that? when ruggy (oh yeah, that's what i'm gonna call r from now on, more fun, yes?) saw the exposed sides, there was some brow lifting. at least i didn't go that far.

i really wanted a watteau back, but in the self-injuring semi-masochistic pinning, it morphed into a panel, which can be kept closed or open...

and now it's off to work i go. i leave you with this parting shot. i'm pretty sure i'm looking at the mustard colored splotch by the baseboard in disgust. 

ah, contractors.


this can't stay buried in the comments:

straight pins
curiously peeking
cleverly plotting
escape the plastic cup!

all carefully measured
precisely arranged
perfect rows in the rough

anxiously awaiting
a stitch
in time
your creative touch

- Big Daddy
in response to this post


with apologies to those who suffered... I LOVED MY BURDASTYLE BOOK PROJECT

as you know, since moving back into it, our home has showed its intense dislike of us leaving it for three years by acting like a small child throwing a large tantrum. a surprisingly strong child breaking everything in its path. i think we may need to buy our home a pony to make amends. this kid also did not care that i was recuperating; we had to unexpectedly vacate the premises for a week to get away from the toxic fumes that would finish the job (it sounds like we're killing the child, really we're not), so i suddenly found myself in a sewing predicament. of course i hadn't begun my burdastyle book project. so i packed as much of my studio as i could into a bag, and we jetted to r's mom's house on top of a mountain.

relaxation-wise, this was the best thing that could have happened. i mean, this was my view:

joke's on YOU, kid!

sewing-wise (complete with Deadline), it was maybe the most stressful thing that could have happened. but wait: enter the computerized machine...

and every inch of sewing stress flew out the window to play happily with the flocks of hummingbirds buzzing on the deck.

i know! what?! i haz fallen in love with a new fangled computer-marized machine! i swear i wasn't trying to cheat on my vintage guy, but i couldn't lug my kenmore along with me, and well, who knew? on the day i met this fancy stranger, ruggy laughed dismissively when i found i could lift it, one handed, without bending my knees. cause vintage sewers know it has to weigh at least 80 pounds to work.

joke's on me.

this machine is all kinds of awesome. it automatically threads the needle. it politely lets you know what foot, stitch length and width you should be using. it always leaves the needle in the down position. an LED light saves your eyes. the bobbin is in full clear view. it does eight thousand stitches. i mean, IT HAS A STRETCH STITCH, FOR GOD SAKES!

i didn't know this stitch existed. would you look at how purty that is? and the seams fall nice and flat. this shot is pre-pressing, which took 5 seconds. i didn't have to worry it with an iron for half an hour, as i'm very used to doing with my kenny. 

as far as my project went, i loved the process from start to finish. i've been reading a lot about peeps who had issues... didn't like their fabric, had to buy notions, wanted to just get it over with... but i had a really excellent time. it didn't hurt that i received pretty much all i needed: the most perfect 70s shades of luscious bamboo stretch jersey and matching thread. if i was making a bag or a coat and had to buy my own notions and lining, i would admittedly have been peeved. yes, there were challenges, and my head hurt from time to time... my two shades of green were different weights, so matching up seam ends took some trickery, and creating my variation required a LOT more math than expected (r's mom punched numbers into a calculator while i counted hash marks on a ruler... in the end we both threw up our hands and i cut away).

i wish i could show you the Best Thing I've Ever Sewn, but that has to wait till next year. i can tell you that i abandoned part of my variation: a hood, upon realizing it would turn my sleek creation into something you might wear in an elfin battle.

oh, and speaking of battles, Kid Home is not done yet. we came back to find that the kitchen had flooded. 

i really have to get that pony.


the first time ever i saw your :burdastyle book: face

three years ago i was sitting in a little tree house apartment in LA, stuck in the middle of a town obsessed with itself, about to pull my hair out (and i've got a LOT of hair), searching for something to do that had nothing to do with lalaland. equipped with a featherweight sewing machine, a dress form, vintage spools of rainbow thread and the misty memory of sewing a large stuffed pig back in the 6th grade, i set out on what i assumed would be a futile search for free patterns on the internet. i had resigned myself to making the ever present throw pillow.

i think i actually gasped when i stumbled across burdastyle. i raced to hook up the printer, and like the pack rat i am downloaded everything they had. i was terrified to tape my first pattern together. i didn't know how to convert inches to centimeters (seriously). i think i only had a godzilla size 18 machine needle. two days later, my first dress, a sleeveless danielle, was done up in joann's quilter's cotton. (i know! but it came in so many happy and bright kalkatroonan colors...)

it's safe to say i wouldn't be sewing garments today without burdastyle. i heart burdastyle. and i don't care who knows it. oooooh, wellz, okay actually i guess i DO cause they asked me to be a part of their very first burdastyle book! and so lotsa peeps will know it and it makes me dance around in gLeE!

rachel, our fearless project manager and all around cool chick, gave me two pattern choices, and i got my first pick of a beautiful blouse pattern by alison. in true burdastyle fashion, you're meant to build on the patterns and change them up. (the lovely nora says it much better than i can.) i had to sketch out the variations i'd make (another first burdastyle pushed me into, i've never sketched on a croquis before and now i LOVE it). i can't tell you which variation they chose, because it's still secret, but i CAN show you the most amazing bamboo jersey i get to work with, from britex fabrics --->

(apparently, when i do occasionally choose solid colors, i go for green.)
and now, it's time to finally break my new vintage serger in...
thank you burdastyle! you make me happy!

 are you doing the book too? i'd love to know!


hey look we made progress!!!

oh HAI ! remember my big promise to show y'all what we were up to with our mad decorating skillz? well just LOOK!

no, wait, you haven't seen the west wall, really and truly, it's the focal point of the room, oh well see for yourself!!!

yeah baby, it's all comin' together now! just look at that little patch of acid washed clean-as-a-whistle brick. bee-YOO-tiful.

so. a bit of a setback. the water damage has grown from a problem outside-the-building/in-one-of-our-walls to a problem within ALL of our walls. oooh, and floors. get a load of this here pretty li'l thing:

(actual image to left. oona-slightly-fainting-while-taking-account-of-size-of-damage image to right.)

THAT is our bedroom floor, gutted through to a big old pipe attached, as i understand it, to the building's boiler. or possibly sewage waste pipe? YAY!

we have some very handy men working on the situation (they always ask me how i'm feeling, they are seriously so nice), and with each accumulating issue, they still promise they'll be done in two weeks. i love them for it-- and i'm still happy as hell to be home and not in some stranger's house-- but wasn't two weeks the estimate in the money pit?


oona and the stream of consciousness

(Ruggy returns from work to find oona flat on her back in bed, surrounded by cats. Fabric is everywhere.)

Ruggy: Hi sweetness... you okay?

oona: I... I... I... I CAN'T SEW ANYTHINGannnnn I just wanna be creeeative an' but I--I-- I don't even have the right faaabric to sew the p-p-p-pattern and this day is just Baaad and I can't get anything right and why am I so TIRED and I don't even know whyI'mm cryyyyying wuh wuh what is THAT ABOUT?!!!

(There follows some soothing sounds and the promise to get whatever might make the probably still drug- induced oona happy. Ruggy braves the depths of the Still Unpacked, and a box of vintage treasures is produced.)


Smart one, that Ruggy.

I've had the great luck to have grandmothers who loved and collected costume jewelry. I've not had the luck to have both grandmothers love me quite as much as their baubles--I have my mom to thank for most of this box of treasures. (thanks, mom!!) I didn't really mind, I had a slew of cousins growing up, and I felt, quite democratically, that they had their nana and I had my nan (not to be confused with a nanny), who loved me enough for twenty grandmas. 

There's not a lot in this box that came from my nan. She never bought much for herself. She spent most of what she had on family, and those she quietly embraced as family. She allowed herself what was necessary. I wanted so much for her to have had the pretty, frivolous things she wanted, that whenever I am given a piece I knew she would have loved, I place ownership to her in my head. Especially to butterflies. She loved butterflies.

I seriously have no idea if any of these were actually hers. But they've been given to her in my imagination, so there you have it. Kalkatroonaans have one hell of an imagination. I often think things up to make them so.

Maybe I should think up some good sewing mojo for tomorrow. I could sew her a dress she might have wanted...