Monday, 27 May 2013

Mini Road Trip to St Louis

It was Spring Break school holidays, my dad, also known as D-Dad by the girls, was over from the UK, and it was my 40th birthday week, so we decided to take a mini road trip to St Louis in Missouri, another new state to cross off our list, so with the car packed and me swished in between the car seats we set off Sunday morning for a leisurely drive down to St Louis, about 5 hours away, as planned an hour or so into our journey, we stopped for brunch at the iconic Denny's before hitting the road again, our plan was to cruise it down Route 66, stop in Atlanta, Illinios for pie, Springfield our states Capital, to visit the grave of Abraham Lincoln, before finally arriving in St Louis.

However a very bad turn of weather, saw us drive very slowly down to St Louis. It was horrendous, we were driving in a snow blizzard with very limited visibility and in some sections of the freeway down to one lane, we passed at least 20 cars that had swerved off the road and down the slight embankment with no way of getting out, that's how bad the conditions were, we contemplated stopping in Springfield for the night but decided to keep going.

And I am happy to say 9 hours after we had left home we finally made it to our destination St Louis, Mo and the furthest south we've been so far in the US. With the weather so bad and nowhere to go, we went out for dinner at a local institution Chuck Berry's restaurant and bar Blueberry Hill. It was fabulous, full of memorabilia and the meal itself was good too.

The next day, we were pleased to see it had stopped snowing finally, after breakfast we headed into downtown St Louis to see the famous Gateway Arch - an iconic monument erected to symbolize the westward expansion of the United states.

Where is this Arch they keep talking about?

Nearby the Arch is another very interesting piece of history - the Eads Bridge (completed in 1874 and named after James B Eads, the designer and builder.)  It was the first bridge in the world to be completely made out of steel, it was also the first bridge to be built using cantilever support methods, there is a lot of history in this bridge still being used today, it crosses the Mississipi river and was built to provide a link for eastern and western railroads - a very lucrative business back in the 1800's if you'd like to know more I suggest this series for a quick insight into America in those days - The Men Who Built America

Anyway back to the Arch, after a short walk we arrived at the rather tall Arch, and discovered we could actually go up the Arch to the top and back down again, so after a small but interesting movie about the making of the monument,  we went up on the "Journey to the Top"  in a short tram ride. we were transported up the North Leg and after a good time sightseeing up there, we came down the South leg.

The view from the top
D-Dad 630ft above the ground
Snowy views of St Louis from the top of the Arch

After a quick look around the museum (we could have spent a lot longer there) we went to meet friends at a local brewery and eating place Schafly Tap Room fantastic food and booze, I sampled their Sampler - 6 (small ones) of their finest beers- truly delicious.

After lunch we went to this rather peculiar place called the city museum, it was weird and wonderful, and so much fun, a huge adventure playground, like nothing you had seen before, it wasn't long before all of us were up climbing around, having fun, we even encountered a 10 storey helter skelter style slide, climbing the stairs up to it was a nightmare, but coming down was fab. Even D-Dad with his cast on made the slide down. It was such a fun place, our only regret was we hadn't come earlier, it was definitely a place we could have stayed for a whole day, we only touched a small section of it.

After all that excitement, you'd think we were ready for dinner and bed, but no we decided to go ten pin bowling - the girls first time and they loved it we had a great time, then it was time for dinner, we found a lovely Italian then headed back to the hotel.

The girls first bowling experience

Our last day as the weather was still bad, saw us visit the Museum of Transportation. We spent a few hours there, before hitting the road to see Springfield, after a very nice spot of lunch and beer, we went to visit Lincoln's home and street where he had lived and we visited his rather grand grave/memorial.

Outside Lincoln's modest home

After our little jaunt in Springfield, we took the Route 66 to Atlanta but we didn't get there in time to stop for pie at the famous Palms Grill Cafe, however we did meet a giant man and his hot dog.

Atlanta, Il

It wasn't long though until we started losing our way on the 66 (as it is not well sign posted as it is a decommissioned highway now) and we headed back to Chicago on the freeway.

We really enjoyed St Louis and due to the bad weather, we didn't get to see all that we had planned to see, but there will be a next time, and I'd definitely recommend a visit there, I can't wait to go back to the City museum.

And I'll leave you with a very nice instagram of my dad and his ditzy blonde beer

Dad and his Ditzy Blonde - Cheers Dad

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Kids Clothes Week - The Finished Garments

Very late indeed but here is a round up of the clothes I managed to make during KCW (Kids Clothes week) a few weeks back.

As I always love a challenge, I do get pretty determined when I set my mind to things, so for the rest of the KCW, I was busy planning what to make, cutting out patterns, cutting out fabric and finally sewing and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I whipped up a pretty easy skirt on day one - see here

Day 2  - saw me do the planning side of things, as I'd had a busy day with Tilly, only being home for lunch, before taking her to pre-school where I stayed as I was parent helper for the day, by the time we had picked up Ruby from school, I knew I wouldn't and didn't have time to do any sewing so I opted for planning instead - deciding what were going to be my challenges for the week.

After scouring through my favourite books & patterns - Make It Perfect and Making Children's Clothes, I settled on the Puffball Skirt for Ruby from Making Children's Clothes and a simple Simplicity A-Line Dress for Tilly (pattern no 1836).

Day 3 - I traced the size patterns I needed and cut them out onto tracing paper - well actually I used parchment paper as I couldn't find tracing paper. I then got all the pieces cut out for the puffball ball skirt and dress and before I knew it my hour or so was up.

Puffball Skirt Pattern pieces

Day 4  - I got the puffball skirt started, the instructions were clear and easy even the gathering wasn't too bad, but it did take a while to get it even(ish) so I only got as a far as gathering the bottom part of the skirt, inserting the lining and sewing the two pieces together.

Day 5 - I completed the top part of the puffball skirt which included more gathering and adding the waistband, but then the instructions said to slip stitch the waistband on the inside, and I hate hand sewing so after contemplating using the sewing machine, I decided against it, as I thought it just wouldn't look right or neat, I put it too one side and got on with making Tilly the A-Line Dress. After several attempts at putting in the zip (more my curse of perfection than doing it wrong) I finally got it right how I wanted it and ended my sewing hour(s) there.

Day 6 - Saturday with Mr C at home I got to spend more time in my sewing room, so I finally plucked up the courage to do the hand sewing on the puff ball skirt, and I was very pleased with the results, once finished I sewed on the buttons, inserted the buttonhole elastic and voila one finished skirt, I love it and more importantly Ruby loves it.

Day 7 - Sunday - after my several attempts at inserting the zip, I discovered my back piece was now way smaller than the front piece arghhhh and had to start all over again, so I cut out two more back pieces, inserted the zip correctly first time too phew and left it at that, and that is where is it still currently. I will finish it honestly.

Ruby posing in her new skirt

She makes a great little model.

Fabric is Amy Butler - Lotus Wall Flower in Cherry, I've had it ages and wanted to make myself either the versatile wrap or the shearwater kaftan by Make it Perfect as I have both these patterns with the fabric, but I had bought the fabric before the patterns and discovered I didn't have enough for either, so instead I get to enjoy my Ruby wearing the fabric instead.