Brother, Sister, and Me

Having Sister here for a few weeks was eye opening. I’ve never seen Good Man and Sister interact for an extended period of time without one or both of their parents around.

Hand in the Photo

In Williamsburg, I saw Good Man try to stick his hand in Sister’s photo. He does this to me all the time, and I thought he was doing it just to annoy me. Now I know he does it to annoy Sister, too. I’m not sure if that makes me feel less annoyed or extra annoyed on her behalf.

Sister Laughs

Good Man does this weird thing with his hands where we can individually move each joint at a time. He claims he broke his fingers multiple times while playing basketball. I’m not sure about that, but it’s creepy and alien-like.

Well, Sister can bend her fingers way, way back. They’re extremely curved. While I was taking photos, they decided to give me Vulcan fingers in honor of how much Good Man looks like Spock. I should have taken some video of their creepy hand tricks.

Spock Siblings

I got to see how Good Man and Sister interacted, but we also created jokes only the three of us would understand.

When Sister completed her apron and was working on her skirt, I picked Good Man up from the subway station. “Look,” I said, “[Sister] worked really hard on her apron and you will compliment her! No ‘ung’ing. You will say, ‘Good job, that looks really nice.'”

We got home and Good Man stopped in front of her apron. Sister showed him. “Good job, that looks really nice,” he said.

Sister narrowed her eyes. “Why did you respond like that? That is weird. You are not my brother.”

Good Man pointed at me, “She told me to say it.”

“What are you, her robot?” Sister laughed and poked him.

“‘Good job, that looks really nice.'”

The rest of the visit, we would poke Good Man from time to time so he’d say what we wanted him to say.

Sister Sews Some More

After completing her first apron, Sister went on to make some clothes during her visit.

First up, she did Simplicity 2224, a cute little pull-on skirt with pockets. She learned how to cut up the pattern, do pleats, attach a patch-style pocket, and make a casing. She also learned how to line up “friends,” which is what I called the notches since I have no idea what they’re called in Korean!

She used some quilting cotton. Some people think quilting cotton should only be used for quilting, but once we washed out the sizing, this fabric had a really nice hand and worked out very well for this skirt!

The skirt was huge! We took slightly deeper seams because it was soooo big. But it looks great on her, and she finished it Friday morning, so she could wear it in Williamsburg. It was a quick project, and very appropriate for a new sewer.


When we got back from Williamsburg, Sister made a shirt, Simplicity 1969.

This is a part of their Sew Simple line, which are repackaged, simplified patterns, offered in a limited range of sizes. This pattern appears to be one view of 2594 (view E without the lace trim). The patterns are inexpensive because of how much cheaper they are to produce.

Sister learned how to sew a facing and gathers (which sort of ended up more like pleats), and we both learned how to do a yoke. She also learned how to do top-stitching and got a lot of practice.

I think this shirt would look pattern in a fabric with more drape. The armholes are really low, and you need to wear a cami if you don’t want to show your bra. But it looks great!

S1969, Front

S1969, Back

Finally, Sister made Butterick 6625, an out-of-print skirt with a drawstring in the back that makes the back bustle up. I actually sewed this pattern ten years ago for myself. With this pattern, Sister learned how to make buttonholes.

B6625, Back

In ten years, I had forgotten what made this skirt not very wearable. The back of this pattern looks great, but in order to get it to gather, you have to really yank on the drawstring, which pulls the skirt very tight against the front of the body. Sister will probably end up using it as a beach coverup.

The fabric from this pattern was a black and white striped fabric picked up at the $2.97/yard table at G Street. We dyed it this really pretty green-blue using Rit dye. We also dyed a piece of fabric I picked up a royal blue. The next day I went to school with zombie-colored fingernails…

Those were all of the sewing projects we got done together. Sister alternated from “this is fun!” to “this is hard,” which made me laugh, because I’m the same way. I’m glad I got to teach her a little bit about sewing. It gave us something to do together in the evenings, and I learned some new skills, too.

Squirrels and Gardening

A few days ago, I found a huge pit in one of my pots of bulbs. Some creature had dug a large hole in the pot, and had gnawed on some of my plants.

Thursday the 15th, I planted onions (probably too late in the seasons), two kinds of beans, two kinds of peas, and squash.

By Tuesday the 20th, I had some tiny sprouts and came home to find some peas thrown out of the pot, a giant hole, and chestnut bits in the bottom of the pot.

Peas Out of the Pot


I will find this awful squirrel, capture it, and then talk at it until it repents for eating my bulbs.

Then Awful Squirrel will go away and tell its Awful Squirrel Friends to avoid the Crazy Talking Lady.

Early Spring

We’re having a very, very early spring, which makes for a lot of pollen, a screwy growing season, and some great photography opportunities.

It also means Sister got to see nearly-peak blooms over two weeks early at the Cherry Blossom Festival today.

I, however, did not get to go to the festival today since I was at work. These photos are from Williamsburg.



Early Spring


Purple I

Purple II


This weekend the three of us went to Williamsburg. I was there in October for the state’s Association for the Gifted conference, but didn’t pay the ticket to go inside the buildings of the open-air museum.

We got into town right after 5 pm on Friday and only then discovered that if we had purchased multi-day tickets and used them for the first time on Friday, we would have saved a lot of money. On Saturday, the ticket price increased for the high season.

I also found out that teachers with their ID cards could get a 50% discount on the ticket price. Of course, I didn’t have mine. I called their ticket line and asked if I could bring in a pay stub instead.

“No, we need actual proof that you’re a teacher, not just an employee, so we need your teacher ID,” the woman said to me in a rather sassy voice.

I thanked her and hung up. Then I thought for a moment. My ID is a county-wide ID. It is the same as the ID my principal has, and the same as the school cooks and bus drivers. My intern’s is the only ID I’ve ever seen that’s different, because it says “intern” on it. I’m pretty sure even the long-term subs get the same ID.

I also considered that the counter employees and phone employees are often different. So I printed off my pay stub and the short version of my contract, which clearly says “teacher” on it.

We arrived at the historic site and I smiled sweetly and said, “I know teachers get a 50% discount and ID. I don’t have my school ID, but I do have my pay stub and a copy of my contract info…”

The clerk smiled, said I was well-prepared, and gave me the discount. I’m glad I didn’t listen to the lady on the phone!

Drying Meat at the Plantation

Foyer at the Governor’s Palace

18th Century Bedroom Print

Chandelier in a Very Green Room

We attended tours at the Governor’s Palace, Capitol Building, and Jail. We also talked extensively with a woman representing a slave at the plantation.

At the Palace, I just interpreted a few points quietly for Sister. Most of my translation was, “Ehhh, history, history, teenagers lived here.” We stood at the edge of the group, and it worked out well.

At the plantation, the woman said, “Oh, you’re interpreting. I’ll wait.” She waited after each point, and made eye contact with all three of us while she was speaking. That woman was awesome! Of course, we weren’t in a timed tour, so it was easy for her to take more time.

At the jail… Oh, at the jail! We got there just after another group started their tour, so we sat down and waited for a few minutes. The woman came to start our tour, even though we were the only ones waiting. She soon realized I was speaking another language to Sister. She said, “Oh! You’re translating! I’ll condense my points!” I nodded, and then she started speaking really…loudly.


We went inside and another family joined us. They appeared to be of South Asian descent, and were speaking perfect American English. She said, loudly, “This is the tour for foreigners! I’m speaking slowly so you can translate!”


I cringed. They looked at us. They looked at her. The mother said, “We are American.”

A third family came in, and she said (loudly), “I’m speaking slowly so she can translate!”

We left and Sister said, “Why was she so loud?”

“Because you don’t speak English.”


“I know.”

Fifes and Drums

Passing By

At the Bindery

Playing Cards

View from Jail

Good Man

Hanging out with Poultry at the Trial


Weaving, Spinning, Dying

Scale Model

Sewing Sister

I took the day off of work today and spent it teaching Sister how to sew. I don’t know much about sewing, but I know enough to teach her the basics.

Sister Sewing

Last weekend we found this great fabric at G Street on their $2.97/yard sales table. It had a mistake in the print, so she ended up getting an entire yard for $2.23 before tax.

Kitchen Print

This was a pattern-less, torn fabric sort of thing. I pressed and told her where to sew so she could just practice making straight lines. It turned out great!

(And I want my own personal presser now.)

Sister’s apron has three pockets across the front and a drawstring waist. It used about a half a yard of the fabric, and we have enough to make bread bags.

Finished Apron

While she was sewing, I set about fixing this penguin clock. I bought origami clock kits at the paper museum Paul and I visited together. Sister and I spent an evening making clocks this summer while watching Korean pop music. I made a penguin, and she made a bear.

Unfortunately, it is still running slowly. Maybe I need a new battery?

Penguin Clock

Sewing Projects (M5974 and Car Trash Bag)

I finally started sewing again.

I sewed my first knit dress back in December and finally finished the hemming in Febraury. Unfortunately, since I cut and sewed everything before January, I can’t count the yardage toward my resolution.

McCall’s 5974

This is McCall’s 5974 in a cotton double-knit I bought at G Street on their $2.97/yard table. It was my first knit dress. I originally tried it in a black slinky fabric, which was just plain stupid.

It’s a fake wrap dress. The crossing in the front comes from wrap ties, but the dress isn’t a wrap dress. I didn’t use a zipper, shortened the sleeves (which were eight hundred feet long), and changed the shoulder gathers to an inverted box pleat.

I like the dress fairly well, but the ties are supposed to wrap around the front and I think that added too much bulk. I think my fabric choice was a little poor because it’s a bit heavy. But it was cotton, and that was my main desire since the cotton was easier to work with than polyester.

Still, the color is great, and the neckline is completely work appropriate. I like that I don’t risk falling out of it.

For my first knit dress (done on a sewing machine only, since I don’t own a serger), I think this turned out pretty well. I wore it to work today (see the industrial school floor in this photo) and got a lot of compliments on it, so I guess it wears well in public!

This dress cost about $15 all told when you count fabric, thread, and needles.


In my truck, I had an old trash bag. The original loop (if there was one?) was gone and my mom wrapped it around the stick with an old stretchy head band. Well, the bag is at least ten years old, and gross, and I don’t have a stick to wrap the trash bag around in Irene.

So I used a piece of canvas remnant fabric from Joann’s to make a bag. I lined it with…a broken umbrella! I have had this broken umbrella sitting around for about a year, and thought it would be a good trash bag lining material.

Car Trash Bag


Working Hard

This was a dead simple project, except that sewing the lining down was rough going, probably because it was just a strange, slippery fabric that wouldn’t press! You can see that the lining is less than perfect in the photos.

If I were smarter, I would have turned the whole bag inside out and sewn it with the lining on the outside (facing the needle, not the feed dogs).

Total cost came to under $3, and that’s generously overestimating the cost of the remnant.

I used ~1/3 a yard of fabric for this project.

Of course… On Sunday I bought a yard of fabric. So I’m still up for the year. Darn.

Good Man thought my whole project was odd.

“You really sewed a trash bag for your car?”


Finally, two photos from this evening’s walk.



Take a Picture, Anger a Korean

This afternoon it started raining, a light, drizzly mist.

Walking from school to my bus stop I passed two kids playing a computer game outside of the stationery shop. Their huge umbrella dwarfted them and I thought the scene was perfect for a picture.

I had to back up again a wall to get the photo. I took one photo and a man in a truck nearby rolled down his window.

“What are you doing?” he asked in Korean.

“Taking a photo,” I said sweetly, while taking a second shot.

“Why? Who are you? What are you doing?” he said very angrily, aggressively.

Note that this man (and the woman in the truck next to him) had not told me who he was. He had not identified himself as a parent or anything of the sort. I looked at him and said, “I’m taking a photo. It’s funny, because the umbrella is so big.”

“You can’t take pictures!” He started shaking his fist at me, about eight inches from my face.

“Why?” Before he could answer, I suddenly got very mad.

My schoolyard’s wall was 150 feet away. I have walked up and down that same street every school day for nine months. I have never, ever seen another identifiable foreigner in that part of town. Most of the shop owners (including the one at that stationery shop) know who I am. I get free food sometimes, because I am Amanda Teacher.

The Pakistani sock seller knows who I am. Halmonis have watched me scold middle school boys who have yelled at me for free English practice. The ice cream shop woman has watched kids run out of her shop to yell, “Amanda Teacher! I love you!” I’ve brought students into shops and bought them pencils, practiced English with them.

Just yesterday, the pizza truck guy, Strawberry Guy, and a random old woman who spoke flawless English and lived in the States 25 years ago, and I all had a twenty minute conversation in the middle of the street. In Korean.

The two kids playing video games are first graders at our school. I teach their sisters, brothers, cousins. These children are playing games in public. There was nothing wrong with my photo at all.

Before he could answer, I said, “I am a teacher. I teach there!” I pointed. “I like photography. Every day this year I am taking one photo. This is a nice picture.”

As soon as I said I was a teacher, they started to back down a bit. Luckily (and unusually!) I had my name card. It doesn’t have my school on it, but it clearly states my name, degree, and graduate university in both Korean and English. Since I have my M. Ed, it shows that I am a “real” teacher and not just some fresh-college graduate here because I couldn’t get a job back home. I thrust a name card in his hand (with one hand tucked under the other arm, as I am polite to older Koreans, even when I’m angry) and shot two more frames.

Then I walked away. The woman in the truck got out, went to tattle on my completely legal and appropriate photography to the woman in the stationery shop. I left.

And as I was coming home, I got angrier and angrier. What in the world did I look like I was doing? Who did they think I was? Would I have been bothered were I Korean? Would I have been bothered had I been using a tiny point-and-shoot instead of a DSLR? And who were they? Why were they getting mad at me?

Rest assured: had they identified themselves as the children’s parents, I happily would’ve identified myself, shown them the photos, offered them prints. But as far as I know, these were just two creepy adults watching kids play video games. (I have never, ever seen adults watching their kids at these gaming spots. Never.) Also rest assured that there are many, many photos I have not taken in this country, the homeless woman being only one, because I didn’t think they were appropriate. Photos I have wanted to take.

Young children are grabbed by strangers in this country. On the bus, on the subway, on trains. They are picked up by strangers, and this is considered completely fine. Yet I take a photo in public, in a neighborhood where I am (or should be, if they’ve been paying any attention!) known, where you can’t even identify if the children are male or female and some random Koreans get upset about it?

Children Under An Umbrella

Sister vs Brother

Sister and Good Man “Fight”

Tonight Sister and I made roasted chicken with roasted veggies, fresh bread, and gravy. Good Man asked what was in the gravy.

“Butter, flour, chicken juices, pepper, and a secret.”

“What’s the secret?”

“I know the secret,” Sister said, smiling.

Good Man raised his eyebrows. “Spit?”

Sister twisted up her face, sighed and rolled her eyes. Finally! Someone who understands what I go through!


Yesterday Sister and I went shopping. We stopped by Ross and tried on some dresses. The 70s are back, it seems, with the number of caftan-ish things we saw. (The massive eye shadow ads are another sign.)

I pulled out a jersey knit dress and Sister said it would be too low cut. I promised it wouldn’t be if she wore a tank under it, and she’d need to, because it was thin. It was $11 and looked great.

The weird sleeves on this thing, however, made me get my Angry Flying Dinosaur look on.

I did not buy it.

Angry Flying Dinosaur Dress