Thursday, April 30, 2009

Guest post at The City Sage

P.S. Come over and visit me on Anne's lovely blog. I'm sharing a little project you haven't seen yet...

jewelry display

And if you're a City Sage reader who just popped over, welcome! Check out some crafty projects or some recipes, whatever suits you. Or just browse around a bit.


We eat a lot of naan. Naan with lentils, naan pizza, naan with dip.

I should admit right away that I rarely make naan. We rely on the frozen naan from TJs, and it's amazing.

But every once in a while, I make naan for fun. It's a process, slightly tinged with danger, and I like it.

naan resting

I use Madhur Jaffrey's recipe from World Vegetarian. Mix up your dough as directed, and divide it up into 6 - 8 balls. Let them rest for a bit. In the meantime, pick out the largest cast iron pan you have and put it on the stove.

naan rolled out

Gently stretch the dough into naan-ish shapes. As you can tell, mine vary widely. I don't worry about it. Coat your hands with olive oil or butter during this process to avoid becoming a sticky mess.


This is the dangerous part. Heat your cast iron pan up and also have your oven open with the broiler going - set up a rack about 6 inches below the broiler. Shoo small children and animals out of the kitchen. Pick up a shaped naan and toss it on the pan on the stove. Allow it to cook for a minute or two. It will puff up beautifully.

Pull your oven mitts on and transfer the entire pan to the oven. The top should just start to brown (I overcooked mine this last time and they were tougher than I like). Pull the pan out, set it back on the stove, use a spatula to pull the cooked naan off and then slap an uncooked naan on. Repeat. Try not to run into anyone or trip over anything while you are rushing around the kitchen carrying a flaming hot, incredibly heavy pan.

naan finished

This becomes a fun little dance. Have a dishtowel waiting on the counter next to the stove, as a landing place for your finished naan. You can re-heat them in the oven right before eating.

Maybe next time I'll make a double batch and undercook them slightly so I can freeze them and get us off our TJ's naan habit. We'll see.

Naan (makes 6 - 8 large naan, from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian)
5 to 6 cups flour (you can use whatever combination of white and whole wheat you like)
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1½ tsp sugar
2 tbsp plain yogurt
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1 large egg
1 cup melted butter (I just used olive oil as necessary, much less than 1 cup)

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a different bowl, combine sugar and yogurt with electric mixer. Beat in milk and water, then gradually beat in 2 cups of the dry ingredients. When thoroughly mixed in, the batter will look a bit pasty. Beat in egg and then slowly add approximately 2 cups of additional flour. The batter should be thick and elastic.

Oil your hands. Scrape the dough out onto a floured surface and knead in about one more cup of flour. You can add more if necessary.

The dough will be slightly sticky. Divide into 6 - 8 balls and space evenly on baking sheet. Oil your hands again and flatten each ball. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for at least 30 minutes, or refrigerate for up to 48 hours before making the bread.

Place cast iron skillet on stove over medium-high heat. Light your broiler and place the tray about six inches from the heat.

Working on the floured counter, place one dough circle on flour, dip hands in melted butter (or oil), and press down on / push dough to make a large tear shape, about 5 inches at the narrow end and 9 at the wide end. Continue stretching until the naan is about 7 by 12 inches. (I wasn't terribly fussy about this, as you can tell.)

Slap the naan on the hot skillet. Cook for 30 seconds, move around a bit so it browns evenly, and cook another 45 seconds.

Brush with a little butter (or oil) and place pan under broiler for one minute, until it gets a few reddish spots.

Remove from broiler, brush with more butter (if desired, I don't), and serve or wrap in towel to keep warm. Repeat with remaining dough and serve or wrap in foil and refrigerate for later. To reheat, place foil-wrapped naan in 350 oven for 15 minutes.

Ms. Jaffrey recommends sprinkling the top of your naan with sesame seeds before cooking. Personally, I'm not a big sesame seed person, so I left them out, even though I'm sure it's delicious that way.

This is definitely not a recipe you break out on a weeknight unless you come home from work much more motivated than I do. Save it for a weekend and you'll thank me.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Coconut curried red lentils

Will you kill me if I post yet another lentil recipe? I just don't get sick of them. It's an addiction.

red lentils

Luckily, unlike many of my other addictions, this one is cheap and healthy. (Don't look at me like that - I'm talking about my love of expensive cookware and fluffy cupcakes).

naan + red lentils
{like almost all lentil recipes, it isn't particularly photogenic}

This recipe combines lentils and coconut milk, and creates an insanely delicious meal. It smells heavenly too. Like many Indian dishes, it has a somewhat intimidating list of ingredients, but if you pre-measure your spices you won't run into any problems.

This is what I think of as a weekend slow cooker recipe, because it only takes two hours so you can't go to work and leave it. If you're in a rush, I think you could easily just go ahead and simmer it gently in a pot on the stove. It will probably take approximately 45 minutes if you choose to do it this way.

Coconut, Tomato and Lentil Dhal (serves 4, from Best Ever Recipes for your Slow Cooker)
30 ml/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, very finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, diced
1 carrot, diced
10 ml/2 tsp cumin seeds
10 ml/2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
2.5 cm/1 inch piece fresh ginger root, grated
10 ml/2 tsp ground turmeric
5 ml/1 tsp mild chili powder
5 ml/1 tsp garam masala*
225g/8 oz/1 cup split red lentils
400 ml/14 fl oz/1 2/3 cups boiling vegetable stock
400 ml/14 flz oz/1 2/3 cups coconut milk (I used light and it was perfectly fine)
5 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (I used one can of diced tomatoes instead)
juice of 2 limes
60 ml/4 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
salt and ground black pepper
25g/1 oz/1/4 cup sliced, toasted almonds

1. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, until softened, stirring occasionally.

2. Add the garlic, carrot, cumin, mustard seeds and ginger to the pan. Cook for 3 -4 minutes, stirring, until the seeds begin to pop, the aromas are released and the carrot softens slightly.

3. Add the ground turmeric, chili powder, and garam masala to the pan and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, or until the flavors begin to mingle.

4. Tip the mixture into the ceramic cooking pot. Add the lentils, stock, coconut milk and the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir well and cover the pot with the lid.

5. Cook on high for 2 hours, or until the lentils are soft, stirring halfway through the cooking time. Stir the lime juice and the cilantro into the dhal, check the seasoning and cook for an additional 30 minutes (if you're making it on the stove, do this after about 35 minutes and cook for an additional 10 minutes). Serve with toasted almonds (I skipped this because I'm lazy).
*Good garam masala is the key to this recipe. The spice mixture is readily available at Indian markets. If you aren't lucky enough to have a source, you can read a recipe for the mixture here.

Naan recipe coming tomorrow...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Good luck at Goodwill

You already know that I frequently haunt thrift stores looking for sheets for my sewing projects. Which I realize sounds a little gross, but it isn't. Okay, I did find it icky at first. But I've learned which stores thoroughly wash and then hang their sheets, which makes the experience much more pleasant.

I scored last week.

thrifted fabrics
{you'll be seeing these fabrics in various forms for a few months}

That one in the front is a great print that reminds of tiki style things. And you can see a hint of the pink stripey one I found. I also got some plain jane white and yellow ones that are really good cotton and will be lovely to work with.

And for the first time in years, I wandered into the clothing section, lured in by this sweet little corduroy jacket. It is so well made and it has tiny puffs at the sleeves and cuffs. I love it. And then I found a dress, which I remember seeing at Urban a while back.

{the jacket + a little pleated dress}

It quickly devolved into a two hour Goodwill rampage, and I walked out $60 poorer but in possession of both the jacket and the dress, along with two fabulous tunic tops, an Italian spring weight wool coat (currently at the dry cleaners), and my 5 sets of sheets, all crammed into a giant trash bag.

The only sad part is that I then had to make the one mile (slightly uphill) walk home cradling said giant trash bag, and my arms ached for two days. Ouch.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Looking for something?


I've added a DIY index, just in case you're looking for a specific project. You can click on the link in the sidebar to get to it.

And hopefully you've already seen the recipe index, which is also in the sidebar.

Just because I love you guys and I know how annoying it is to search through the archives.

Sunday afternoon tea

Digestive biscuits are so much more delicious than the name implies.

{I pretend I'm being healthy if I don't get the chocolate covered ones}

D and I managed to eat an entire roll of them over the weekend, which is why we don't keep them in the house more often. I wish I could restrain myself and just have two every afternoon with my tea. Sadly, restraint is not one of my strong suits.

I did do other things this weekend besides eat too many biscuits and drink tea. Namely, a bit of cooking, a bit of sewing and a lot of daydreaming. Projects and recipes coming up this week. I hope you all had lovely weekends.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday flowers

Happy Friday!

Here are the little ranunculus I've been enjoying all week.

{improvised vases}

The short vase is an Ikea cup with a metal flower frog inside (from the Japanese market). The tall vase is a beer bottle.

Lately D and I have been browsing the Whole Foods drinks selection and each picking out a beer in a fancy bottle to go with our non-fancy dinners. This is pint of English ale from a couple weeks ago. I love the shape of the bottle, so we're keeping it.

I do own some real vases, but I'm much fonder of just using whatever containers I have on hand. Does anyone else do this?

P.S. Come visit me over on Simple Lovely today, where I'm participating in Joslyn's wonderful Blogger's Favorites series. And pop over to Smitten, where I'm sharing my favorite meal of the day (and my favorite place to get it).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pretty + green (my first purchase!)

I'm sure you were all expecting something more momentous. After three months without shopping, I kind of thought I would have a rampage through Forever 21. Or at least indulge in the sale section on Bluefly.

But I am very happy with my first purchase. Glass straws! I couldn't choose, so I ordered both bent and straight styles.

{glass staws}

I love straws, for some reason. I like to use them with almost everything. This is probably not an issue for most people, but when you work in science there is always an eco-minded person glaring at you over your be-strawed happy hour drink. My straw obsession has survived years of this treatment, but I do feel increasingly guilty about it.

{top view}

The glass straws are a great solution. They are very sturdy, easily washable, and much more chic than the plastic ones. I can't wait for our first summer mojito party, where we'll all be able to sip in style. My only regret is that I would like them to be just a bit more delicate (and these are the smaller, "iced tea" size, as opposed to the "smoothie" size), but then I would probably go around breaking them all the time, so I guess it's a catch 22.

Want to try one? The company, Glass Dharma, is offering everyone a free straw to celebrate Earth month. Just go to the site, click on the free straw link, and read the instructions. You have to pay $3 shipping, but you get the straw for free. Even if you don't suffer from straw guilt, I think you'll fall in love with these sleek options. They feel very adult.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

We're super classy

About 6 months ago, we ran out of paper towels. Then for 2 full months we kept forgetting to buy them (yes, we are that forgetful and that lazy). Once we hit the 3 month mark, we realized we didn't really need the paper towels. We do have cleaning rags, after all, and they serve pretty much the same purpose. I'd say the lack of paper towels is now 50% earth friendly choice and 50% residual laziness. We will probably eventually buy some paper towels, but I don't think we'll be using them as much as we used to.

All this is a very long lead up to say that last week we ran out of paper napkins. Luckily I had a thrifted tablecloth lying around and I quickly began repurposing it. It coincided with my first attempt at embroidery. I got the Stitch It kit last year, and now I'm sad I didn't try it out earlier. She walks you through the stitches and it's very easy to pick up.

These aren't a pattern, though. I just took a pencil and lightly wrote on these, and then embroidered over my lines.

{everyday napkins}

I tried a couple of colors. I think I'd like a rainbow effect for the table.

{napkin trio}

Ever so much more refined than paper napkins.

I have to confess something though...I don't think I'll be making napkins again. This is a very, very thrifty project ($2 tablecloth + $2 worth of thread = 16 reusable napkins) but it takes a LOT of time. We're talking hours of pressing and hemming, at least for me, for a product that looks slightly less professional than what you would get at Cost Plus. Next time I think I'll find a bulk set of napkins and just do the embroidery, which is the fun part.

Did you hear that? I just encouraged you to buy something instead of make it. See, I'm not completely insane.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's a special month...

Yes, April is Earth month, and I am all for the Earth.

But it is also National Grilled Cheese month, which I have to admit is slightly more delicious.

{bbq chicken grilled cheese sandwich}

D and I have been celebrating with weekly trips to Clementine Bakery.

The menu changes every week, and you can pick up these sweet postcards with LA themed grilled cheese images on the front and the weekly lineup on the back.

{images from Clementine's website}

This week I think I'll be going for the Camembert with mustard greens. Yum.

{gingersnap to go}

Grilled Cheese month only comes once a year, so you have to celebrate accordingly.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend bits

{sunday morning}

Strong tea with milk + a good book + what used to be a cinnamon roll.

{embroidery thread}

Playing around with a new project.

{cutting mess}

Experimenting with knits for the first time (not as scary as I thought it would be).

I always feel like weeks should really be 8 days long, and then if I worked for 4 days and stayed home for 4 days, I would get so much more more done. Someone get on this, please.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Happy Friday

Here's hoping the sun decides to come back to Southern California.
In the meantime, here are some cheery daffodils.

Daffodils + sun
{daffodils + sun - in a little ceramic vase D made years ago}

From one of the days last week when the sun actually decided to peek his head out.

Daffodils + sun
{daffodils + sun - a glimpse of our balcony in the back}

I love backlighting, for some reason. It gives you that magical light effect. Or it just ruins your pictures. You've pretty much got a 50/50 shot.

Is it spring yet for any of you?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Zesty lemon bars

When you have fresh lemons, you can make lemonade (and I do, frequently), but if you have a little extra time, you might as well make lemon bars.

{lemons are so beautiful, aren't they?}

A good lemon bar should be tangy, with a delicate crust and texture. It shouldn't be cloyingly sweet. Lauren recommended this Amy's Bread recipe, via Martha, and I'm glad I trusted her. These are wonderful, and the dash of coarse salt provides a perfect contrast to the sweetness.


Sadly, they do not photograph well. I'm thinking next time I might actually wait for them to cool down and then pop them in the freezer for half an hour to get them nice and firm before slicing. Don't let the lack of photos discourage you, though. We tore into these bars despite the ragged edges and everyone loved them.

Zesty Lemon Bars (makes 20 bars, from The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread, via Martha Stewart)

Crust ingredients
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

Topping ingredients

2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 3/4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Note: I also added the zest from the lemons, because wasting it is a crime, in my book
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

**Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center of oven. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

**To make crust: In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, confectioners' sugar, cornstarch, and salt; process to combine. Add butter to processor and process until mixture is pale yellow and resembles a coarse meal, about 10 seconds. If you don't have a food processor, whisk together flour, confectioners' sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and work into flour mixture using a pastry blender or your fingers.

**Pour crust mixture into prepared baking dish, pressing down with your fingers to create a 1/4-inch-thick layer along the bottom and 1/2-inch up the sides, pressing firmly at the edges to seal. Transfer pan to freezer and freeze for 30 minutes. Transfer to oven and bake, rotating pan once during baking, until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

**Meanwhile, make the topping: In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, and flour; stir in lemon juice, milk, and salt until well combined.

**Remove baking pan from oven. Stir topping and pour into warm crust. Return pan to oven and continue baking until topping is just set but not browned, about 20 minutes.

**Transfer baking pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into 20 squares. Serve immediately or wrap each bar tightly with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

I think I need this cookbook now.

P.S. Come visit me over at Jess's blog, where I'm sharing some of my life intentions. It's a great series and I was thrilled to be able to participate!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chop + snip

After all your thoughtful hair input a couple weeks ago, I decided I better take action.

I went with short-ish, but a cut that will be easy to grow out. It's just long enough that I can still pull it back. And I have bangs! Or fringe, which is what professionals seem to call it.

{thank you D, for taking the pictures and making me laugh}

The cut itself was really pleasant. I'm a lucky duck because they recently opened an Aveda school a few blocks away from my office. If you are willing to sign a slightly scary waiver and let a student cut your hair, it's only $19 and tipping is optional (I did tip, because they donate the tips to charity, which is sweet). You get a relaxation treatment (mini shoulder massage), hair shampoo, cut, and style and a "facial" (they call it a facial, I call it washing your face, but it was still nice).

The students are new, but there is an instructor who supervises and steps in, so you have some reassurance. I admit I'm glad I don't get my hair colored, because the girl next to me looked a little terrified when her stylist applied goop to her head and then asked "wait, was that bleach? because I wasn't supposed to use bleach." It wasn't, and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

I even went ahead and bought the Volumizing Tonic they used on my hair, because I've heard good things about Aveda products and it came in a brown glass bottle that I loved. They give you a discount, so it was $10 instead of $15. All told, I was out $35, which is less than what I would have paid in a salon before you even factor in the tip.

Bottom line: If you're nervous about your hair, or you tend to cry if your stylist accidentally cuts off an inch more than you wanted, you might not want to risk it. If you are okay with the fact that hair grows out and you love a good deal, go for it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chalkboard cannisters - DIY

Are you sighing already when you see new uses for chalkboard paint? I know it's all over the place, but I think that's partly because it's so practical.

Take these for instance. Perfectly serviceable tea tins that I didn't want to just toss out. But the labels are not removable and sadly, they aren't quite pretty enough to stay as they are. (They have nutrition facts on the back. Despite the fact that all the values are zero, because it is TEA.) EDIT: I wasn't clear enough about the nature of the labels - they are actually screen printed on, not just stuck on, so it really is impossible to remove them.

{tea tins}

Solution? Carefully tape them off.


Prime them. Paint them with chalkboard paint.


Write the contents on them in chalk and change it up as often as you like. You could do this project with any container, really. Leftover glass jars with a rectangle of chalkboard paint might be my next project. My sister and I were talking this weekend about doing this with larger containers for pantry storage in her new house. It's a bit like Martha's etching idea, but without the hazardous chemicals or the commitment.

Maybe I just like chalkboard paint because I am indecisive.

*This tutorial is provided for personal use only. Please do not sell this tutorial or create items for re-sale using this tutorial. Tutorial may be re-published only with my permission.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Eggs + color

Busy, busy weekend here.

Dozens of eggs to dye and hide (luckily I had good help).

{egg rainbow}

I even tried a few natural methods, courtesy of Martha (turmeric worked well, beets not so well).

{beets + eggs}

{turmeric eggs}

Thanks for all the great Easter "basket" suggestions last week. The simple fillers really are the best, and I didn't have to feel bad about buying little bits of plastic crap that will get thrown out next week.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter tree

This is my little Easter tree. It is actually a jewelry hanger from Urban Outfitters, but we bought it last year for our painted eggs.

{easter tree}

They are from Prague and they make me very happy.

P.S. We Americans have nothing on Europeans when it comes to Easter. They do it right. In Prague they have special street markets with fun goods (wooden tulips and handpainted eggs!) and seasonal treats like grilled dough for at least a month leading up to it. In Greece they have rabble rousing candle lit parades through the streets at midnight and gorgeous crimson eggs. We need to get on this, people.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Brightside Project

Are you playing along at the Brightside Project?

{image from brightside project header}

You should be. They do a sweet giveaway every single day, and all you have to do is answer the fun questions posed by the featured artists. This month is all accessories!

Hence, this fabulous new clutch from Give that arrived in the mail last week. I love it.

{excuse my bandaged finger - i know it isn't elegant enough for the clutch}

Get yourself over there and start playing.

{give clutch + daffodils}

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Not an Easter basket

This year my little nieces will be getting their goodies in Easter purses.


Very pale sage green canvas + spring green gingham lining + rosy pink stitching.


Square bottomed bag just like this one. No pattern, but the pieces were 8.5 x 11" (I cut around a piece of letter paper) and the gussets were three inches deep. The strap is just a long piece of each fabric, right sides sewn together, turned inside out and pressed.

I hope they're a hit. Now I just have to figure out what to put inside them. Any bright ideas? I'm thinking headbands, little gingham pouches for candy, colored pencils and silly putty. I like the classics.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bolt 44 + Wonderboy clothing

I've been holding out on you guys. Please don't hate me. You know how sometimes you find something so fabulous that you just want to hug it to yourself and not tell anyone for a while? Well, Bolt 44 is like that. I discovered them through the True Up fabric blog, ogled the site for days and finally ended up making a purchase that completely broke my shopping hiatus. (I couldn't share it with you earlier because some of the fabric was a gift and I didn't want to spoil the surprise.)

{they had me at the logo - image from Bolt 44 header}

Bolt 44 isn't your average fabric supplier. They update the site all the time, so it's always exciting to check in. Any given fabric is only available until they run out of stock (hence, my urgent need to buy some before my hiatus was over), which might be anywhere from a few to a few hundred yards. They often have custom designs, which means you won't find them anywhere else and the quality is wonderful. And the prices are better than any I've seen.

{all images from Bolt44 - follow links to one, two, three & four}

Why are the fabrics so amazing? Maybe because they are remnants from designer Christine Johnston's awesome clothing line, Wonderboy. I've spent way too much time staring at the site considering I don't have a child to dress - it's getting embarrassing. If I had a little munchkin, he would be wearing these clothes. I can't guarantee that he would be as adorable as these guys.

{all images belong to Wonderboy clothing, photo credit:}
{follow links to candy dots, blue mosque, and carat shirts pictured above}

Bonus? Wonderboy is a small, designer run company based in Philadelphia that uses local labor and resources. They even have their knits made locally. This definitely fits with my spending mindfully mantra. I am so bummed that I didn't find these clothes before D's little bro got too big for them. I would have been all over it. If you are looking to buy, check out the Wonderboy selection at Small Concept or Modern Moppet. Wouldn't any of these be perfect for Easter?

Monday, April 6, 2009

End of the shopping hiatus - thoughts

I've now completed 12 full weeks of the shopping hiatus inspired by Joslyn. It was such a good exercise, and I'm really glad I participated. This post is a little wordy, so settle in and relax. Or drift away and come back tomorrow for something more exciting. I promise I won't be offended.

Reflections: I learned a lot about how I shop (impulsively). I am by no means a crazy shopper, but I am easily swayed by a good sale. When I cleaned out my closet during the first week, I realized that I tend to buy things on sale that aren't quite right in terms of fit, color, or purpose. I also tend to stock up when things are on sale (if one sweater is good, three are better!) which is only sometimes justified.

Cheats: Pretty minimal. The boots, which are utterly fabulous in person and I haven't had an ounce of regret since purchasing them. The tea cup, which I still maintain is not a real cheat because it was vintage. A few yards of new fabric, which is a cheat and which I haven't shared with you quite yet, but I will, I promise.

{1. Ceres Testa 2. Orthosie Royal 3. 17306 4. Crio}

{tea cup!}

Non cheating, but still shopping: Some thrift store/Craigslist purchases including sheets (for sewing projects), picture frames (for crafting) and wine crates (for planters). Some supplies including three cans of spray paint, one sheet of metal, two sheets of wood, two packages of brass hooks, some needles and thread, some bias tape. Hair product.

Moving forward: I'd like to target my impulsivity to cut down on my silly spending. Shop mindfully is my new mantra. This means viewing my money as a resource that I want to use and spread wisely. I'd like to increase my Etsy/independent designer shopping and decrease (not cut out altogether) my Forever 21 binges. I'm also working on keeping a list that categorizes things I notice and want, rather than buying them immediately. The idea is to look for patterns in my desires and then find options that work for me, rather than buying random pieces whenever they catch my eye.

My current list includes layering tanks, good cardigans, good jeans, good flats/sandals, super soft tees, and anything with stripes, ruffles, or in gray and ivory.

Specific strategies:
1. Keep a list of things that catch my eye. This serves two purposes, because writing it down helps with not actually buying, and it also lets me analyze my cravings.
2. Avoid stores when possible.
3. Look for alternative options on Etsy and in independent stores.

I will still stock up on sales when it's worth it (once every couple years I need to invest in sweaters and cardigans, because I wear them every single day), but I'll try not to let myself get too caught up in the frenzy.

Things to ask myself:
1. Do I love it?
2. Can I use it/think of a place to wear it (imaginary balls or cocktail parties don't count)/find a place to put it?
3. Do I feel good about buying it? I've found that buying things where I have a personal connection with the artist makes me feel happiest.

The best part was that, even knowing my twelve weeks were up, I felt no compulsion to go buy anything this weekend. I think that the urge to go shopping decreases significantly if you cut yourself off for a bit. It's like I've rewired my brain! I've also realized that researching what you want to buy is almost as much fun as actually purchasing it. And when you eventually do purchase something that you've fully researched, you feel much happier about it.

If you missed out and want to see my progression through the hiatus you can see weeks one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten and eleven right here.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Happy Friday + a WINNER!

Hello, my loves. It has been a long week. A very long week. I am ready to curl up and relax and maybe get some sewing done.

bits + bobbins
{bits and bobbins, organized}

Last weekend I organized my little sewing area, and now it is very tempting. There's something so motivating about a fresh, clean work space.

And the news you are eagerly waiting for (at the end of the post, because I'm mean like that) - the winner of the Shoestring Home giveaway is commenter number 51, Blue Moss. Congratulations!

As consolation for the rest of us, Mandi is kindly offering a 20% discount off your entire order at Shoestring Home through April 10th. Just enter coupon code HEART when you check out. Luckily for me, this week marks the end of my shopping hiatus, and I'm officially free to purchase cake stands again. Yay!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Another headband...

Making a new headband is so fast and easy that it makes me feel very productive.

second headband

This new one is slightly different from the last. Instead of braiding, I tried knotting it.

Want to make one? It's very, very simple, especially if you used to spend lots of time making friendship bracelets.


Once again, I just tied it around my head. One of these days I'm going to get some elastic.

*This tutorial is provided for personal use only. Please do not sell this tutorial or create items for re-sale using this tutorial. Tutorial may be re-published only with my permission.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pizza + prosecco

A dinner party inspired by the latest issue of Bon Appetit? Why not? We already know we're huge dorks, so we just go ahead and put it out there.


Dinner parties are one of my favorite things to do. I am not a club type of girl because...
a) Loud places and crowds make me tired.
b) $12 drinks annoy me.
c) Not being able to hear anything your friends say is frustrating.
d) Trying to look cool enough is exhausting.
I love a homey, laid back pub or a non pretentious happy hour, but they are hard to come by in LA (the Daily Pint does a pretty good job and Q's is nice if you get there embarrassingly early and there is the ever delicious Border Grill, although they have significantly scaled back their HH menu).

A dinner party means you can actually talk to people you like (hopefully you like them, since you invited them over) and there is no corkage fee and you can bond in the kitchen. Perfect.

I made a huge batch of dough (recipe here) and we all brought toppings for our pizza "concepts" and a bottle of prosecco.


Happiness ensued.


I highly recommend it.


P.S. There is still time to enter the fabulous giveaway from Shoestring Home! Comment on this post for your chance to win.