Tuesday, May 31, 2011

B4818: Done, and KS3231 Too

The jacket and coordinating skirt (KS3231) are done, although I think I need to re-do the elastic in the skirt to be tighter. Which will be a royal pain since it's serged onto the waist edge, turned, and coverstitched. I'll decide after it's gone through the laundry cycle to see if the elastic shrinks back up. Steaming with the iron helped a little.

I've decided I'm also going to make a sleeveless top from the skirt fabric to wear under the opened jacket, for a 2-piece dress effect.

I just got back from an interview (it went well) and snapped a smudgy mirror pic before I changed. This is RTW that I bought 3 years ago when I was last looking for a job. I had never worn either piece and the tags were even still in place. I bought the set for the jacket, since the price was right even if the dress was too snug.

A month ago, I couldn't get the dress around my butt and belly, tons tighter even than when I first bought it. On a whim this morning, I decided to try it on even though I just finished pressing another outfit. It fit! Except that it was too long from shoulder to waist, making the waist shaping hit at the wrong place on me and the neckline too low. (It's also not as long overall as it seems in this pic - the perspective is a little off with my camera angle. And, yes, Belinda, I can button the jacket. lol)

For those of you that think my sewing is so wonderful :coughcough: … I present my 60 Second Quick and Ugly Fix:

Yep, I just folded over the shoulders and stitched them down. Pitiful, huh? ;-) At some point, I will probably unstitch the ugly fix and do it right so I can take off the jacket, but the dress is fully-lined so it's going to take more than 60 seconds for that one. For now, no one will know if we don't tell them.

I wore these shoes I recently bought. They are the pair that Zappos had on my porch less than 14 hours after I ordered them. They fit perfectly and are comfortable.

Oh, and I said "screw it" this morning and left the pantyhose in the drawer. Which is probably why I slowed down to take the mirror shot instead of ripping off my clothes. ;-)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Sunday Shopping

Did I finish my jacket and start my skirt yesterday? Uh, no. I went shopping.

First stop, Joann's for their Memorial Day notions and Simplicity pattern sales.

From the notions wall (which isn't even really a wall anymore since they rearranged the store a while ago):

Stretch needles and 110/18 topstitching needles (Singer because they were out of Schmetz) and Hollywood tape. I can't say enough good things about the Hollywood tape. I use it on my left bra strap every time I wear a Hot Patterns Sunshine Top because my neck is off-center or my shoulders are uneven or *something* and any top with a wider-cut neckline eventually slips and shows my left bra strap. Just the left one. Weird, I know. Do NOT pay full-price ($10.99) because you can either stock up during a notions sale or use a coupon. I also use it on crossover necklines for insurance. So much easier than a safety pin and it won't wear a hole in your fabric. Cute little metal tin too.

I also bought 2 yds of the fabric you see under my Joann purchases at $7.98 per yard (sale price). It's a very nice rayon/Lycra knit. At Joann's! Who knew.

From the Simplicity pattern drawers, which were quite picked over by the time I got there:

These are the first Simplicity patterns I've bought in probably a year. I tend to buy most of my patterns online now because I know they're in stock in my size and I get to avoid dealing with the crazies who ravage the pattern drawers during sales. Yes woman in the blue dress, you know who you are!

Many of the patterns I really wanted were out of stock and I noticed during a visit to Simplicity's website that a lot of OOP patterns are patterns I would've bought IF Simplicity.com had good sales like BMV. Simplicity, are you listening?? (Your 30% sale this weekend is a start, but 30% off isn't enough of a draw for me.)

Next stop, Walmart for some drugstore items and a cheap necklace to wear with the new jacket.

Last stop, Fabric.com:

The three prints are rayon/Lycra, and the white solid is a poly ITY. I really need a solid white top to wear with skirts and jackets so while boring, it will probably be the first make from this group. And why am I buying MORE fabric when I have an entire fabric closet to soon pack up and move? I plead temporary insanity.

Also, I found this Fabric.com coupon from RetailMeNot.com, and it worked for me:  Coupon Code for $10 Off orders of $50 or more June 8, 2011: TRY112

I would have had time in the sewing room after shopping and dinner, but the Marine has decided he wants to shop for a new car. Yes, this is after Alex and I took his Jeep up to him not two weeks ago. So this new plan meant a lot of telephone time trying to teach him the loan process and how to deal with car salesmen (er, salesPEOPLE). I'm pretty sure I have him convinced to only look around today and to NOT sign anything no matter how irresistible the salesperson makes the "deal" seem. If he does buy a new car, he'll still keep his Jeep with him on base. He just wants something newer and spiffier and since he now has all this money to burn because he has absolutely NO EXPENSES after savings, cell, and car insurance, well — I was 22 once too. I understand. He's looking at Ford Fiestas, Mazda 2s, Kia Souls and Rios, and probably a little of everything else.

Now off to the sewing room to try to make some progress before the Marine calls with his first can't-resist-deal. ;-)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

B4818: Almost Done

The jacket is nearly done. All that's left is buttonholes and buttons, which I'll do this afternoon when I get back from some errands.

I don't hate it and I will definitely wear it, but in my heart I still wish the print placement was better. I know not everyone sees it, but I'm one of those people who does. However, I've decided a big smile and lots of dramatic arm movements will distract even the most OCD like me. Hehehehe

I thought BConky came up with a GREAT solution to add a faux waistband. I even cut, sewed and pressed the strips, and left the jacket's sideseams unserged so I could open up slots and insert my prepared strips into them. And that's where I stalled. While the strips did a wonderful job covering up and/or camouflaging the blossoms dead center of the jacket, I wasn't loving what they were doing to the overall aesthetic. I kept pinning them on, taking them off, pinning them on, taking them off. But I couldn't get past my feeling that they were cutting me in half and fighting with the eye on a very busy print, even more-so after adding pockets that were purposely cut to NOT blend in.

In the end, I decided to ditch the faux waistband "design opportunity," especially after looking at the jacket as a whole. As you can see, almost every angle has big red blossoms and I think (hope?) those keep the eyes busy enough to not just land and stop on center. Besides, it's not like I'm going to be standing still like a mannequin when I'm wearing it, even without dramatic arm movements.

But I'm going to see what I have in the stash and/or keep my eyes open in the stores for a solid scarf to hang down under the lapels because like many who left comments on the last post, that was also my first thought for a fix after discovering my "disaster." Plus, one of my favorite features of this pattern (besides the awesome fit!) is the lapels. I love the shape, I love the depth — they just work perfectly for me — and a scarf underneath will make them show up better.

I'm going to be using textured Mother of Pearl buttons from the "Carolyn Collection" (and I note I'm glad to see she has ended her blogging break before my cold sweats kicked in). The iridescence in the MOP picks up all the colors in the jacket nicely without screaming "Look at me, I'm something else assaulting your eyes!" ;-)

The skirt to wear with this jacket should be a breeze. Solid color with no print to worry about, elastic waist and knit and TNT so no real fitting except length, and one, yes ONE, pattern piece. The machines are already threaded with the right colors and ready to go so let's hope I'm not eating those words tomorrow and have a finished outfit to show off.

And speaking of eating … another great thing for still-recovering sore teeth/gums in the summer? Watermelon! OMG I love this time of year for the watermelons you can buy for $3 out of some dude's pick-up truck on the side of the road.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

B4818: Stupid Stupid

So here's Butterick 4818 in progress. Do you see my stupid mistake?

I was so intent on not landing big blossoms on the bazooms that I completely missed that I was cutting twins and now I have two fronts that are almost carbon copies of each other and not in a good way. Arggh. I was 2 inches short with leftover fabric for cutting one new front or else I would have. I'll still finish it and wear it, but I won't love it like I do its predecessor. Why did it have to be the big bright red flowers smack in the middle?? Grrr.

And because that's all I have, here's another crappy mirror pic of what I'm wearing today. The capris which look like the ones I usually wear are actually the ones I couldn't fit into 3 months ago and now they're even loose.The top is a Simplicity something-I-forget-at-the-moment that I made a few summers and also couldn't wear until now. I love this top because it's perfect for hot temps, so I'm very happy to have it back in rotation.

Finally, that's Chili doing his wiggle dance on the floor. Translation: Look at me, talk to me, pet me NOW! He's always quite the attention hog … I mean dog.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

These Dreaded Things

So, I'm getting dressed for an "interview" this morning and it's time to dig out the pantyhose from my dresser. No problem, I still have a few brand-new pairs from 3 years ago when I was last job-hunting. I get out one pair, scrunch them up and stick in one foot. Scrunch again and in goes the other foot. So far, so good. Until I had them 3/4 up and promptly stuck my thumbnail through the left thigh. Yeah, straight into the trash for those. Apparently, I'm out of practice with these dreaded things, but luckily pair #2 went on without a hitch. (I'm a fast learner!)

It's well into the 90s here, even in the morning hours. I thought the hose would be torture, but they actually weren't too bad. Granted, I only walked outside from the house to the car and then from the car through a parking lot and I didn't have any potty breaks until I got back home and took them off for the day. ;-)

Since I stole the image above, it's only right that I link back to its rightful owner's page — 10 Ways to Recycle Pantyhose.

(The "interview" was fine. It wasn't a real interview, just an agency. But they have set me up with interviews at two real firms with more to come, so it was a productive morning.)

Miscellaneous tidbit #1: Best diet? Get your teeth worked on so it's too painful to eat anything firmer than eggs, bananas, oranges and yogurt and you too can lose 10 lbs. in 3 weeks. Yep, that's me. I hope they keep hurting for about 90 more lbs. ;-) I'm wearing clothes I haven't worn in 3 years. Woo! But a happy life outlook also helps because I'm finding that I'm not medicating with food these days either. I eat when I'm hungry and that's it, and even then it's slow going and I end up giving up before cleaning my plate. I made chocolate chip cookies for the Marine last night and boxed them all up for shipping without sampling a one. If this keeps up, I may even surprise myself with some exercise.

Miscellaneous tidbit #2: I was asked if the dogs are going with me. Yes! Although, unfortunately, Pepper may not be going with anyone, as she's not been doing too well lately. Old age is quickly overtaking her.

Miscellaneous tidbit #3: I was also asked if I'm staying in Florida. Yes. I'm staying in the same exact area, actually, for Alex. I will not move him away from his base of friends and everything he's ever known. That limits the apartment search, but there are still plenty to choose from. I'll be getting at least a 2-bedroom apartment — one BR for me and one for Alex, but if I can swing 3 BR, that will be my first choice. Otherwise, a DR or LR will be sacrificed to the Sewing Gods. If Peter can sew and hoard machines in a NYC apartment, I'm sure I'll be fine. As for leaving Florida one day — my recent trip to NC and Virginia confirmed that after 21 years, I am a Florida girl. I was only gone for 4 days, but I still missed the perpetual sunshine and bright blue skies. I don't think I could ever go back to where the skies are gray as often as not. And I haven't even touched on winter temps, say anything below 65 … Brrrr.

Now I'm off to work on that Butterick jacket, which is cut out and waiting for me. Maybe I'll have some progress pics tomorrow.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Change of Course

Thank you for all the nice comments on the dress yesterday. Like Carolyn, I'm a comment 'ho and, well, keep 'em coming. ;-) (And Carolyn — you haven't updated your blog in ELEVEN days … I'm just sayin' …)

I didn't spend a lot of time in the sewing room yesterday, but I did pull out some knit scraps and cut some new panties. I'm overdue, but no one sees 'em so it hasn't been a big priority.

I cut out 6 pairs (2 of the blue). I'm using poly knit scraps this time for the silky and "firming" factors. Think Spanx-lite.

It's apparently still not a big priority because that's as far as I got. After perusing my "on deck" pattern basket last night, I set them aside for a while, in favor of …

…this! The print will be a remake of Butterick 4818. Which is this jacket below, one of my favorite things ever that I've made. The alterations are already done from the first make so I should be able to just cut and sew. Fingers crossed.

The solid is a knit, which will be a gored skirt. At least that's the current plan. Always subject to change, of course.

I was reminded in the comments yesterday that it would've been pointless to vacuum, what with the Rapture and impending end of the world. I didn't need my arm twisted, so my sewing room floor still looks like this. But I'm going to enjoy the prerogative to leave a dedicated sewing room floor messy because I probably won't have a separate sewing room once I move to an apartment. You win some, you lose some, right?

Parting Shots: The Marine hard at work on the flight deck, and hard at play on a Single Marine Program trip to Busch Gardens Williamsburg yesterday.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday Tidbits

Because I know you all love crappy dirty mirror pics just as much as I do, I present …

What I wore yesterday to run errands around town. It dresses down pretty nicely too. I think I *have* to make more of these and soon. I can see me living in this and the scoop style all summer long. Would 10 from the same pattern be too much? ;-)

What I'm wearing today to run a couple more errands and then laze around the sewing room, where I might even be inclined to vacuum the floor in there. Maybe.

On a whim, I dug these out of the back of my closet to try on — thinking they wouldn't fit anymore and I'd be putting them in the donate pile and two less things to pack. I made these in 2006 — where did the time go?? The joke was on me since they do fit. I wonder how much wear I've wasted letting them collect dust. And, yes, I know these are some crazy capris with big cocktails and garnishes all over them, but it's Florida and we all dress in crazy stuff here, right? I'm not worried. I'll fit right in at Walmart today. Hah.

Friday, May 20, 2011

See & Sew 5593 Round 2 - Another Winner!

This is my new favorite pattern, and I owe it to Sherril for making it up and recommending it. Truthfully, I never look at See & Sew patterns but I think I should at least glance at them now from time to time.

Here's the front. As you can see, I added sleeves. I wanted this dress to be office-friendly without another layer. I swiped the top-gathered sleeve pattern from my ever-trusty TNT Ottobre 02/2007 tee pattern. You know the one that Belinda and I have made at least six zillion times now.

Click any photo for a larger view

Here's the back. It's got a CB seam which I did account for when cutting the fabric. I think I matched things up pretty well, and even though the "stripes" look off-center in this pic, the thinner stripe really does hit at exact center in real life, just the way I wanted.

When I made the first version of this dress, I was tempted to lay the back piece on the fold but I'm glad I didn't. There is subtle shaping in the CB seam and that shaping gives me a little waist definition in the back and adds to the swish factor of the skirt.

Here's a close-up of the sleeve cap, but it's still hard to see that it's gathered. 

I also made a stand-alone "scarf." I use that term lightly because it's really just an 8"-wide length of fabric, folded in half with shaped ends. I wanted an extra something to add when wearing a jacket. Which brings me to my question for all of you …

Which do you like better? The green jacket — there *is* green in the dress print which isn't showing as much in these pics as it does in real life.

Or the brown jacket?

I'm thinking I like the green jacket for warmer temps like NOW and I like the unexpected color and contrast. The brown jacket seems more autumn/winter to me, even if the temps don't drop too much most days here in Florida. If it matters, the browns match perfectly between jacket and dress. I'm curious to see your opinions but I won't promise they will change my mind. ;-)

On to some construction details …

As a full-busted girl, crossover tops do tend to gape and/or expose too much. And since I used a cheater FBA of just adding gradual length across the bottom of the upper bodice pattern piece, I knew the neckline would need some help to stay snugged-in. I eliminated the front neckline facings and used clear elastic instead.

Because the clear elastic I was using is 3/8" wide, I trimmed 2/8" (1/4") from the 5/8" seam allowance on the neckline so I could just lay the elastic at the edge to attach it and then folding it over would net me the same neckline width as the original pattern. Got that? ;-)

I used a small ZZ stitch to attach the elastic. I left a long tail at the start so I would have something to grab onto when starting. I used my Teflon foot since clear elastic does not usually feed smoothly under a regular presser foot. While stitching it onto the neckline edge, I pulled the elastic very taut to build in some "snugging-in" when worn against my chest. If you look closely at the elastic edge below, you can see that it is slightly rippled. I also left a tail at the finishing end so I would have a holding-on point when coverstitching the neckline, but you can't see that in the pics.

Because there *is* now some stretch and a slight gather built into the neckline edge after attaching the clear elastic and I didn't want to wrestle the neckline while doing the coverstitching, I cheated and used some Collins Wonder Tape. Here it is below with the paper still on and before I folded the neckline edge over. Again, you can see some slight rippling which is a Good Thing for wearing, but not so good for turning and stitching without stopping and readjusting every couple of inches w/o the Wonder Tape.

Here's the neckline edge folded over and stuck down onto the Wonder Tape. It's now ready for coverstitching (or topstitching if you don't have a CS machine).

Sewing the shoulder seam like this *is* covered in the pattern directions, but I took pics anyway. The red line below is the finished edge of the front bodice. You can see that the back shoulder is sticking out 5/8" (the seam allowance) past this. The pins are holding my shoulder gathers in place until I sew the shoulder seam. Just be sure you leave the 5/8" seam allowance as shown when you sew the shoulder seam for this view so that when you turn under the back neckline edge, it lines up with the finished edge of the front.

Like this:

Lastly, here's my super-technical FBA. I also had to cross the front pieces over each other more than the pattern markings on the tissue or I'd be showing everyone my navel. ;-)  I recommend that when you get to this step, take the extra time to pin/baste and try it on. I ended up needing to ease the lower skirt waist to the upper bodice waist at that joining seam because I crossed-over more than the pattern, but when worn it looks perfectly flat (except for the pleats, of course).

BTW, in my first post about this pattern I noted that I cut out to the 22 width from the armhole downward but ended up removing back to the "19" (between 18 and 20). I did end up adjusting the pattern too instead of leaving it like I said I would do. I decided it's better not to challenge the sewing brain cells too much with "maybe scenarios" that I won't remember 6 months from now. This ended up being the exact right move since I had to ease the top bodice to the waist and without the trim, it would've been a much bigger stretch.

Parting shot: More new shoes on the way! I ordered these last night from Zappos at about 1 AM Eastern Time and they are being delivered TODAY per the UPS tracking number. How do they do that?? Well, I'm not complaining and I hope they fit. Do you think we could get Fabric.com hooked up with Zappos' shipping department?

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Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

See & Sew 5593 Round 2

So, I'm actually kind of enjoying this unemployment stuff. Well, except for the no income part. lol But I've had some time to do things for just me and that part has been great. In another life, I would be a billionaire heiress who never has to work for the money. Ahhhh, it's good to daydream, and would somebody please pass me that winning lottery ticket!

Out of dreamland … I've cut out the crossover version of this See & Sew dress and hope to get it mostly or completely sewn before I hit the hay tonight. I'm using the second knit I bought at Joann's last week because I'm thinking it will go well with a RTW jacket I already have. When I get the dress done, I will probably be soliciting opinions on the pairing because I'm still not quite sure.

Speaking of jackets, I have two interviews scheduled for next week, with the possibility of a third. So far, so good. In my previous life mumblemumbletwentysomething years ago, I was a legal secretary at some of the big law firms in Washington, D.C. That's the field I'm hoping to return to now and those big D.C. names on the resume, no matter how old, should help. As will a recent reference letter from one of the partners I used to work for.

I'm one of those weird people who actually like lawyers and at one point before I got married, I thought I would be one … but life turned out differently. Understanding legalese has always come naturally for me and my office skills are still top-notch so I'm hoping I can slip back in without too much searching. Plus, the pay and benefits at law firms is always better than at other places. I also started looking into getting my paralegal certificate and I think that will be something I'll do in the near future. Phyllis - feel free to weigh in on this. ;-)

I lied when I said my dental visits were over for now. Or, actually, they lied to me. Well, not really — they are just being thorough, which is welcome. This is a new-to-me dental practice and they have been awesome. Very kind and caring. And his London accent and good looks don't hurt either. ;-) I have another follow-up next week, and then that should be it for a little while. I still have more stuff I need done, but for now I have a pretty smile again and a workable care/money plan.

Things seem to be moving along, and I feel pretty good. Always a good thing, right?

Thank you again for all of the love and support. It helps more than you'll know!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

See & Sew 5593 and Weekend Trip

I finished the dress and took these pics last Thursday, but Blogger was down and so this post had to wait until I got back from my trip to North Carolina and Virginia.

This pattern is definitely a keeper. I'll be trying out the crossover bodice view next because this scoop view was super fast and easy to make and my alterations were minimal.

I also quickly (as in less than 2 hours cutting to done) made up a short-sleeved version of the cardigan from Jalie 2566 to wear with my dress.

I had made this pattern years ago and the first cardi still fits, so the alterations were already done and all I had to do was cut and sew. The orange of the cardi is a perfect match for some areas of the dress print, despite my camera colors being a little off in the pics. My orange sandals from DS#2's graduation last year were also great with the print. I guess they are now the Official Graduation Sandals, having been worn to two in a row.

I left off the belt because it made my chest look like All-Boob-All-The-Time, and I turned the neck "binding" outward and coverstitched it instead of folding inward and topstitching because I liked the bit of contrast. I think next time I will bind the neckline and armholes with my coverstitch machine. The instructions have you just turn under those areas 5/8" and stitch, but I like a more finished look. A new necklace and matching drop earrings completed the look.

Here are my altered pattern pieces. My floor is disgustingly dirty so please ignore that — I know I have been. ;-) I added 3 inches of length to the bottom but I should've added another inch or so. I ended up adding an additional 1-inch band to the bottom edge, which you can't discern at all because of the print so no harm no foul on that quick fix.

For both bodice sections (front and back), I made a 3/8" tuck to remove length and altered for square shoulders as I cut the tissue, which are usuals for me. For the front, my (ahem) super-technical FBA was to start with the 18 for the shoulders/upper chest, morph out to the 22 width at the sideseams, and add length at the empire seam by graduating from the sideseam. I didn't need the entire width of the 22, and ended up sewing back to the 18-ish line (I'd call it 19) at the waist area and then keeping the 22 width from hip downward. I will probably keep the pattern as-is, though, as "just in case" insurance for different fabrics. It's easy enough to remove what isn't needed and not so easy the other way around.

* * * * *

Now onto the weekend …

Alex and I drove to Cherry Point, NC all day Friday. ALL day. We left Florida in both vehicles at 6 AM and arrived to the base gate just before 7 PM. We  had walkie-talkies and had fun with them during the trip. Boys and walkie-talkies seem to go hand in hand. I never would have thought to bring them on my own.

After checking in and getting our temporary base passes, we dropped off Tyler's Jeep in his barracks parking lot and then went up to Tyler's room for a quick tour while he changed into civvies and grabbed his "assault pack" (backpack to you and me) with his change of clothes. I have to say it was SO COOL being met by him at the gate in full cammie gear. He really is a Marine. ;-)

We went out for a leisurely dinner off base. The "boys" had steaks and ribs. Still nursing my very sore teeth, I had soft fish and a soft crab cake and a few bites of a not-so-soft baked potato. I  would have picked the seafood anyway so there was no sacrifice involved in that. After dinner, we drove to a hotel about 20 minutes north of the base. After partaking of the hotel's free breakfast buffet (Tyler had one of everything and still eats at boot camp speed!) Saturday morning, we left the hotel about 10 AM and drove 4 hours to my sister's in Richmond, VA.

Upon our arrival, we hung out and visited for a few hours before the start of her party. Once it was party time, we consumed way too much beer and lemon drop shots. I would've eaten more and drank less, but the teeth situation forced me to drink more and eat less. Yeah, that's my story. There was a DJ, karaoke, cornhole competitions (who knew how popular that game is??) and dancing.

I'd show you pics of the party, but my sister hasn't sent them yet. And they will probably be too incriminating anyway. It POURED rain all during the party, which was outside in her back yard, but luckily my BIL had rented a huge party tent and had set it and other smaller canopies up that morning so we all stayed dry and comfortable. Well, except for my sister who ended up on her backside in the mud. But that's another story and nothing unusual for her. Her nickname is "Grace." ;-) Use your imagination.

Sunday morning, we left Richmond and headed back to North Carolina. Once we arrived at the base, Tyler high-tailed it into the barbershop and got his weekly "regulation" haircut. He goes into withdrawal if his hair is more than 1/8" long in the back. Then I hung around outside his barracks while Tyler and Alex pulled off the Jeep's plastic wheel guards to allow the big tires more clearance. (Tyler's room is on the 3rd floor, the 4th door from the left in the pic below.)

He looks pretty happy with his stuff from home, doesn't he? That's my cammie purse on the chair. The Marine guard at the front gate asked about it and commented positively, which made me happy.

Alex had fun trying on Big Bro's combat gear.

The view from the "kitchenette" to the outside door.

It was a GREAT weekend. It was so nice spending time with my sons and my sister, her husband,  and her friends, some of which I've known since they were all 12 years old. But it's back to the real world this week, and looking for that perfect job. Plus one more follow-up trip to the dentist tomorrow and I'm done there for another month or so.