Wednesday, September 30, 2009

BBW sale

Pssst... if you loved the Built By Wendy spring collection as much as I did, you might want to hop over to the website. Most of it is on sale for at least 50% off. The availability is a bit limited, so check it out quickly.

Some of the pieces would transition seamlessly into fall.

I really love the puff sleeve dress but I can't decide if I would look like I belong at the renaissance fair. Thoughts? What if I paired it with bright tights and black pumps?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Shop update!

There are new pieces up in the shop!


There are rosebud headbands in pewter, turquoise and sage, and rosebud belts in chocolate, navy, marigold and turquoise. There are also brand new pin corsages in several colors. They are so sweet for fall because you can pin them on blazers and cardigans. I've backed them in my favorite 100% wool felt (this is not your mother's thin craft felt, trust me), which makes them nice and sturdy and gives them a great feel.

Sidenote - I think we need to bring brooches back, people. I have a few vintage brooches that I love, because they make even old, boring coats feel special. Sometimes I stick them on blouses or belts. If you are super stylish, you could pin one on a fabulous hat and pull it off.

I thoroughly enjoyed putting this update together. And thanks again to my lovely sister for being my model. We had lots of fun shooting the photos together (we used one of my favorite family heirlooms, a hand crocheted tablecloth, as our backdrop). Hop over to the shop to see more pictures.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The weekend, briefly

It was a seriously hot weekend. The kind where you feel like you're walking through molasses, and everything seems to slow down. The kind where you look back and try to figure out what exactly you managed to get done, besides sweating and then taking multiple showers.

I ate an entire watermelon (and a honeydew) from our CSA box.


I organized my lace.

lace, organized

I worked, quite a bit.

work table

We ate quiche (recipe here) and pears.


I walked at dusk, which is one of my favorite things to do. It must be the voyeur in me, but I love seeing the lights switch on inside the houses, and seeing people's shadows move behind the windows. It's so cozy.


I hope none of you SoCal readers melted! I'm crossing my fingers for fall weather soon.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday flowers

{dahlias, in a bunch}

I think dahlias are officially my favorite flower. Although I'm notoriously fickle when it comes to flowers, so you probably don't even believe me. That's okay. Let's just say they are officially my favorite flower for the next couple weeks, which is their peak season here, I think.

{dahlias, milk glass vase}

But really, have you noticed how they seem to glow, because of the amazing coloring? And how beautifully their wandering, lanky stems contrast with the geometric flowers? And the best part is that you can just plop them in a vase any which way and they look elegant.

Have a wonderful weekend, my dears!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

More fabric

The best part about having a little shop (other than the joy of working with the amazing customers I get, of course) is the fact that I can go on wild shopping sprees and they are officially a justifiable business expense. Isn't that nice?

Yesterday was quite productive. I picked up several beautiful lengths of linen, perfect for every season. For fall inspiration, I got some crisp cottons and a pretty plaid.

fall fabrics
{fabric stack}

And, be still my beating heart, I found the most beautiful piece of super 150s Italian suiting wool in charcoal gray. A full yard. In the remnants section. It was 65% off and the price still left me breathless, but you can't believe how fabulous it is. I could just sit here all day and feel it. Cutting into it is going to give me a heart attack, I can already tell. But I will. Soon.

super 150s
{super 150s}

In the unloved, dusty clearance section at the back of the store I squealed a bit when I found two bolts of Liberty cottons, heavily discounted. They are so lovely but I'm saving them for spring so you'll just have to wait. Coincidentally, there were two bolts of beautiful silk/cotton solids that look perfect with the prints. Clearly, it was fate.

liberty of london, rescued
{liberty of london, rescued}

Now all I need is another 50 hours added to my week, so I can find time to play with all this loveliness.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Milk chocolate cookies

How to get the best possible care for a loved one in the hospital:

be nice and polite (but firm)

ask questions but don't create drama (hysterical shrieking is the fastest way to send hospital employees scattering from your room like startled rabbits)

be helpful but don't get in the way


a good bribe* never hurts.

goodie box

goodie box, inside

Two large boxes (always bring sets of two, label one for the night shift and the other for the day shift), carefully lined with wax paper, filled with homemade cookies, with a little thank you message on top. I'm not saying it's the reason I got internet access in our room, but I'm not saying it isn't either.
Milk Chocolate Cookies from Martha Stewart's Cookies

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
8 ounces good quality milk chocolate (half coarsely chopped for melted, half cut into 1/4" chunks)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

** Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.

** Melt the coarsely chopped chocolate with the butter and then allow it to cool. (You can either use a double boiler for this, or you can simply use the microwave, if you're lucky enough to have a kitchen large enough to accommodate one, unlike me.)

** Beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla in the mixer. Pour in the melted chocolate, then fold in the flour until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks.

** Set the oven to preheat to 325 degrees. Chill the dough for about half an hour (Martha doesn't mention this, but I found it really helpful) and then use a 1 1/2 inch ice cream scoop (or a large spoon) to drop dough onto parchment or Silpat lined baking sheets. Bake 15 minutes. Cookies will still be soft. Makes about 3 dozen.
These are so delicious and chocolate-y. I'm not a huge chocolate person, but these were amazing enough to win me over. I can imagine jazzing them up with nuts or white chocolate chunks, or dried cherries, or coconut, but they are perfectly wonderful as is.

*Purchased goodies work too - we recommend See's candy or large to go carafes of good coffee paired with donuts.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

So. much. food.

D and I cashed in on our KCRW subscriptions last night by attending a special invitation only buffet dinner at Loteria Grill, jointly hosted by Loteria and Angeli Caffe.

loteria grill

There are no other pictures, because I was too busy stuffing my face with chorizo and cheese quesadillas, trios of tacos, butternut squash lasagna, gnocchi and amazing salads. All while sipping a prickly pear cactus margarita. And watching chef Evan Kleinman pose for photos in a giant stockpot.

So yes, it was wonderful. There are lots of great reasons to support your public radio station, but I have to admit that this dinner might be my favorite.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The weekend, briefly

I started the weekend with a nice long session in the kitchen. I love baking in the morning. It's so quiet and peaceful.

baking in the morning
{baking + tea}

70s kitchenaid
{my 70s kitchenaid}

I use my mom's first Kitchenaid and I love it. It actually traveled the world with her, when we were living abroad. It's aged and a little loud, but it has history.

cookies, in progress
{dough, rolled}

ms cookie handbook
{book, open}

I used Martha Stewart's recipe for fig pinwheels from her cookie book but I used homemade apricot jam in place of her fig mixture. The recipe was a bit fussy (lots of rolling and chilling) and the results didn't completely win me over. Next time maybe I'll try the fig mixture because I'm guessing it would pack a little more punch.

lace pile!
{loads of vintage lace}

I visited a teeny tiny fabric store that appears to have been collecting lace since the 1960s. They thought I was insane when I came up to the counter with over 10 different selections to be cut. I don't even have a plan in mind, but I've always loved lace and I have beautiful visions floating in my head right now.

{new pieces}

I played around with some different colors and fabrics (the photo doesn't do this green justice at all - it's perfection in person).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday flowers

I picked up this pretty little wildflower-y bouquet at TJs this week and decided to split the three components into separate bottles.

friday flowers - aster and such

I know the yellow flower is aster, but I have no idea what the blue and purple pretties are. They remind me of a country roadside in summer.

friday flowers - aster and such

I can feel summer fading already, and I'm torn between loving the transition and feeling a little sad. Of course, you never know around here. We'll probably get hit with a crazy heat wave in November and I'll be shaking my fist at the sky. Southern California is so exciting that way.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bowl night

Hollywood Bowl


= a pretty good night

I haven't been won over by the new album yet, but I have undying love for Sam's Town because the insistent beat has powered D and I through many a late night work session.

There was a crazy slick stage set involved, along with pretty confetti and the famous feathered jacket. I do appreciate a glitzy stage show. I mean, if you're going to play the Bowl you should either go super minimal or all out. I enjoy either one.

It was a little disconcerting to find my beloved Bowl packed to the brim with tweens squealing and waving cell phones and glow sticks. D and I just quietly ate our sun dried tomato bruschetta paninis and I tried to find compassion in my heart for them. It was a lost cause. I didn't like myself when I was 13, so I don't see how I can be expected to like anyone else at that age. I can deal with them one on one but when they travel in packs I get skittish.

Best surprise - the Psychedelic Furs opened and the show closed with both bands coming on stage to play Pretty in Pink together. Pretty great.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mini knots - headband tutorial

Do you remember this tutorial for the knotted headband? I was thinking about it a few weeks ago and decided I wanted to make some mini versions. Because everything is cuter in miniature.

So, follow this tutorial, just like before...


But use crochet thread instead of strips of fabric. One length of thread should be measured by wrapping it around your head (add a bit extra if you are going to want to tie it) the other piece of thread (the one you'll be using to make the knots around the first piece) needs to be approximately six times as long as the first. Yes, that is very long.

You can vary the width of the finished piece by using more than one long thread (just bundle them together and make knots as if you have a single thread). For visual interest, I made three knotted strips for my headband, in three different widths. I secured them with a bit of elastic at the bottom. I've been wearing it non stop for the last two weeks.

{front & back}

There are a few up in the shop, for those of you who prefer to outsource (and because they are so compact, I'm offering free shipping!). I'm not sure if these will end up being in the shop all the time. To be honest, as much as I love making them, they are very time consuming and my poor hands don't love making all those knots. The first day I made these I went overboard and woke up the next day with swollen finger joints. Take it easy, if you want to make these.

new pieces
{pretty jumble}

Now if I were a camp counselor, I would totally put some kids to work and crank these out nonstop. Kids will do just about any manual labor for a couple pieces of candy. It doesn't even have to be particularly good candy. I once spent an entire afternoon stuffing envelopes at camp and I was paid with 5 Jolly Ranchers and I was pretty sure I'd gotten a great deal. Ah, youth.

*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.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Current favorite dress

I got this dress at the Hayden Harnett sale two weeks ago (thanks for the heads up, Suann!).

{image from Hayden Harnett}

It's instantly become my favorite. It's incredibly flattering and comfortable all at once. There's nothing like silk, really. It's definitely girl style (as opposed to guy style) - D made a comment about how peasant-y it is but I can't tell you how many compliments I get from other women when I wear it out.

There are still a few left, either in blue or gray...

Monday, September 14, 2009

P.S. Mini shop update!

There are a couple new pieces up in the shop. I found this fabulous cream silk with tiny orange and lilac polka dots on it and I fell in love. Check out the polka dot lilypad headband, ruffles headband, belt, and wrist corsage.


You can now see examples of the rosebud belt and the ruffles belt. These will always be made to order, so you can contact me about your specific color needs before ordering.

The weekend, briefly

Ups and downs this weekend.

The bad - another setback relating to last year's accident landed my family back in the hospital. And those cots they put in the rooms for family members qualify as torture devices.


The good - the prognosis is better than we expected (we're looking at two weeks in the hospital, and hopefully just one more surgery, fingers crossed) and I got to come home to drawers full of washed and folded clothes, a clean house and a freshly made bed.

fresh bed

Plus bacon and eggs for breakfast. I really do have the best boyfriend.

bacon and eggs

And I did a bit of squealing because I found blooms and tiny fruit on my mandarinquat tree. I can't wait.

mandarin quat

mandarin quat

P.S. Ever wondered what three words I would use to describe myself? You can find that out, plus more, over on Michelle's blog, love in details.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday flowers (+ a friendly warning)

My million star are happily going on week 2. Not only are they cheap, they hold up like little troopers!

million star - week 2

million star - week 2

Shop update - Thank you all for your continued support of my little shop! After a few weeks in business, it has become readily apparent that I'll need to increase prices a bit in order to keep things running. I severely underestimated the time it takes to do everything and I want to be able to keep putting the same amount of love and care into every single piece.

To sweeten the news, I'm giving you a couple days notice. Starting on Monday, headbands will increase from $18 to their new price of $23. That means you have the weekend to snatch up whatever you might want at the current price. I'll be adding some new items to the shop on Monday as well (fingers crossed that I get everything done!), so be sure to stop by to take a peek.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Random makeup love

I bought Covergirl's Outlast lip stain a month or so ago and I officially love it.

The first time, I drew it straight on like I was using a marker and I looked like a clown for hours. It comes out dark. I have shade 440, wild berry wink, and I actually love the color, but the saturation was a bit much.

I have the hang of it now. Dot it on lightly, using the very tip of the marker. Rub in each dot immediately, because it dries almost instantly. Very lightly outline your lips, doing just a tiny area at one time and blending toward the center as you go.

Bonus - I use it on my cheeks if I'm feeling lazy. Same deal, just add one dot at a time and blend it immediately. It looks nice and sheer and adds beautiful color.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cheese love

We've purchased Humboldt Fog twice in the last three days.

humboldt fog

At $19.99 a pound, our addiction can't continue at this rate.

humboldt fog

But oh, it is lovely. And so perfect for the waning days of summer.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The weekend, briefly

Some crafting,
{thread rainbow}

my favorite snack,

a drink,
afternoon beer
{afternoon beer}

and a winner...

Commenter 92, Smeagher, will be getting a rosebud headband in chocolate. Thanks to everyone for entering!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Surprise holiday giveaway!

I am making the most of the long weekend, but I can't resist spreading the joy with a holiday giveaway. If you're reading this, you probably have a huge advantage because most people are off at the beach or busy with their grills or participating the grand American holiday tradition of watching TV marathons (my pick is the Golden Girls, of course).

headbands collage

Go visit the shop and pick out your favorite headband. Leave a comment letting me know your choice. And be snappy about it. I'm going to pick a winner tonight and the prize will get mailed out as soon as I get your address. I'm guessing the pool will be pretty small this way, so you have a nice chance of winning. I certainly wouldn't want to leave out my international friends (especially because those outside of North America don't even get a holiday today) - all entries are welcome!

Enjoy the rest of your holiday!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday flowers

baby's breath

Whole Foods calls this million star, which is much more attractive than baby's breath. Unless they are actually different plants. I don't know these things.

baby's breath

I do know that they look lovely in the late afternoon light. They're sitting in some brown glass bottles that I love. They're chemical bottles from my lab, and when I'm finished with them I soak them and scrub them and bring them home. I never get tired of labware.

We have a long weekend here, so I'll be crafting and lounging and hopefully not melting into a puddle from all the heat. I'll see you all on Tuesday, my dears.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Zen kitchen

The kitchen is a retreat for me. The rest of the world slips away, and my head clears almost instantly. Last night I came home from work and baked a cake for a coworker's birthday. And I started thinking about how easily cooking and baking can become overwhelming and stressful for people.

Hence, my strategy aka the 123 method to a stressfree kitchen (yes, I just made that name up right now - catchy, isn't it?)

1. Read the entire recipe first. I am sometimes guilty of skipping this step, which means I get to the second page of the recipe and realize I needed to have a pot of water boiling 15 minutes ago.

mise en place

2. Mise en place. This is just a fancy term for good prep work. If you are baking, you should measure all your ingredients and place them in separate bowls. If you are cooking, you should wash and chop your veggies and measure out any ingredients. It makes you feel very Martha Stewart in the kitchen, because you just whisk around tossing your premixed ingredients into pots and pans.


3. Clean as you go. I think the most exhausting thing is when you finish a beautiful meal and then turn around and face a filthy kitchen with piles of dishes. Instant buzzkill. My theory is that you should never be standing still in the kitchen. Wash dishes as you go along. There is always time. When you're baking, wash dishes and wipe counters while you cream the butter and sugar. If you're cooking, do it while your veggies saute or while your water boils. When I pop a finished dish in the oven, I immediately pull out the broom and sweep the floor. By the time I'm done in the kitchen, I have drying rack full of clean dishes, freshly scrubbed counters and a clean floor. It's like magic.

cooling cakes

You also need to accept the fact that not every dish works out every time. It happens to absolutely everyone. In these instances, I recommend a large glass of wine and a good laugh. Sometimes that's really all there is to do.