Tuesday, November 1, 2011

When You Were Young

I've started to notice things about my body...like the fact that I should be doing something to keep in shape because it's starting to lose the "look" it had a few of years ago. Thankfully, my roommate A. and I have started a workout regimen. Yay! I have never been a very dedicated gym-goer, except for a few stints in college, but I've always been an active person. I'm not into lifting weights and doing other "gymy" things because I would like to stay fit by doing normal things...like walking, haha. Here is a look at my gym history:
  • 1st Year of College: I lived right across the street from the Aquatic Fitness Center and had never been on an elliptical machine. I was mesmerized by it in collaboration with my roommate's iPod (because I didn't have one yet...), and I worked out on the elliptical for about 40 minutes every night at 11:00 p.m. for a few months. I'll say that The Killers played a huge role in getting me through the entire 40 minutes. I tried lifting weights one time with my friend Phil, but I became bored with that after about five minutes.
  • 2nd Year of College: I got into racquetball in a huge way and played 3-4 times a week. Racquetball is awesome and is the only reason I would ever join a gym.
  • 3rd Year of College: I was rockin' it on the racquetball court and even tried out Squash for a bit (didn't take because my friend Danno ruthlessly conquered me every time), but I would throw in some elliptical workouts for old times' sake. I tried a yoga class with my friend J. and my roommate once, and they said they'd never go back with me again because I was trying not to bust out laughing the entire time (I didn't care about how the sun related to our yoga pose; we were inside, for crying out loud).
  • 4th Year of College: I was still playing racquetball (not as frequently as I would have liked to), but more importantly, I joined an intramural sports team: Inner tube water polo. I'm serious. It was a real team, and it was so awesome. I wish I could still play inner tube water polo. I have some video footage I'll have to post on here sometime.
So, with all that exciting gym time gone, I've had to resort to other ways of keeping in shape. Not only do I get to walk up and down stairs all day at work (I'm on third floor, no elevator), I walk a lot, and that's the extent of my work-out regimen...until this past Sunday! My goal in this regimen is to strengthen and tone, with an emphasis on the upper arm. So far, we're off to a great start! 

Sunday, we did a segment on a Gaiam DVD called Lower Body Cardio Express (express, meaning 17 minutes, score!), and then yesterday morning at 6:45 a.m., we did the Upper Body Cardio Express (14 minutes, another score!). The "express" portion of the workout pleases me the most; the workout lady is very efficient and not annoying, and before you know it, the video is over. The fact that I can't really raise my arms today is a good indication that the video has been successful to this point. Maybe that's really sad and I shouldn't have admitted it. This regimen is going to be a 2 days on, 1 day off kind of deal.

I'll be honest and say that my favorite part of the workout regimen is the fried eggs and toasted whole wheat English muffin breakfast we've been eating post-workout every day. It's turning into a cottage tradition. In fact, I even ate the aforesaid breakfast of champions this morning on the first day off. 

Since I don't have a corresponding photo of A. and I work-out-videoing-it-up (trust me, there won't be one), here is one of us at a Halloween party this past weekend where she wore orange to commemorate Halloween and I wore a sequin blazer because I've found that sequins are wildly appropriate for most holidays (you can't see the sequin blazer in the photo because we had just arrived). Can't you tell we're sooo into Halloween?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Usually when asked this question, I sound out an emphatic "No!" However, this past weekend, I was definitely ready for some UVA football. If you're wondering why, it had nothing to do with the football team itself, but it was homecoming and some of my favorite people from college came to stay with me! Since I live in Charlottesville, I don't venture over to UVA that often because it feels like a totally different place without all the friends that made college so great. Here's an impromptu self-photo shoot that D., K. and I took at the game. I am still pretty shocked that we beat Georgia Tech, but it was a great first and last football game for me this season at UVA. 

We bumped into so many old friends, sang the Good Ole Song (which is the only reason I went to the game), revisited great places on the Corner (We totally rocked out at 80's night...), and got very little sleep this weekend. Would it be totally sentimental if I said I'm missing college right now?

Oh oh, PS, I made that shirt. It's Sencha by Colette Patterns! It's my favorite shirt I've made...

Thursday, October 13, 2011


About a month ago, I went to New York with my friend S. When I blogged about the trip, I wrote mostly about the Garment District. What I didn't blog about the rest of the weekend! On Saturday, my friend J. came over from Connecticut to bee-bop around town with me; I hadn't seen her in almost two years, aka way too long.
This is J. at a diner near Grand Central.
We schlepped around for a long time in Soho, and got worn out pretty quickly (Saturdays in Soho do that to me); therefore, I got a little grouchy. I even said, "Okay, dude, I'm getting grouchy, aaaaannndd I feel like we're just aimlessly wandering around." J. heartily agreed. Looking back, I'm not sure if she agreed that I was grouchy or if she felt like we were aimlessly walking around while trying to get the scuttlebutt from one another. I blame it on all 726 shoe stores that made me feel like I was at the Running of the Bulls. I'm happy to report that I did find the perfect black riding boots I'd been looking for the entire trip (Steven by Steve Madden, thank you for making my dream come true). After this exhausting pursuit was satisfied, we stumbled upon a restaurant in the West Village called August.

via August
We'd already had a quick spot of dinner, but we camped at the bar with my ginormous Steven bag and had a couple of cocktails with a bread/oil appetizer. The above-photo is the view from the bar, how cool is that conservatory-like room?! Hands down, August has the best bourbon cocktail I've ever tasted, and it was served in a sugar-rimmed martini glass. It's called My Best Friend's Girlfriend and here are the ingredients: bourbon, ginger, lemon, Pernod and Tiki bitters. I had mine sans Pernod because I'm not crazy about anise. Tiki bitters has a cinnamony-allspicy flavor, which made this the perfect fall cocktail (and I'm usually not into cinnamon). I'm pretty sure I could drink it year-round and it would still taste as fabulous.

J. and I were having such a wonderful time that we actually lost track of it and had to take a cab to rendezvous with S. and A. at the New Amsterdam Theatre for my first Broadway experience: Mary Poppins! Let me digress for a moment. When I go to New York, I'm always on the lookout for celebrities (One time when I was toting my luggage to visit J., I walked right by Elijah Wood!). I got really excited and yes, I'm still talking about it three years later. I have this running joke with a couple of friends that Matt Damon and I meet up every time I swing by New York for a weekend. It's really dumb, but whatever. Anyway, J. and I got out of our cab in Times Square and were walking briskly to the show when out of the corner of my right eye, I spotted one! I immediately whipped around and said, "Omygosh, J., there's Samuel L. Jackson!" I also wanted to shout something about a Royale with cheese, but I left that part out. And then she lost it. And then I lost it. Why? Because it was Samuel L. Jackson cast in wax. Feel free to pause and make fun of me. I have a picture to prove it. While we're on the subject of celebrities, S., A. and I did see Al Sharpton while brunching on Sunday...

Samuel L. Jackson and I chillin' in Times Square
Okay, on with the show. I'll be the first to admit that while planning the trip, S. and I both wanted to see Wicked.When we saw the ticket prices, though, we decided to find another show because we'd rather spend our ticket savings on fabric and yarn...this is where Mary Poppins came into play. I think I speak for the four of us when I say we thought it would be...youthful and not as good as Wicked. I can't speak for Wicked because I've never seen it, but Mary Poppins rocked my face off! I love musicals, and Mary Poppins was so beautiful, the set and costumes were gorgeous. It was so happy, lovely and enchanted it made me want to cry (in a good way). The show was hilarious, and I was grinning from ear to ear from beginning to end. I was so impressed by the actors and their songs and choreography. At one point, Burt tap danced from downstage up the side of the stage frame and upside down (parallel with the stage) on the frame, all while singing! (Was this confusing? If so, I apologize for using possibly incorrect terminology.) Even though I know it's not in the story, I was secretly hoping the whole time that Burt would plant a big one on Mary. Oh oh, and Mary's grand exit. I'll just say that it exceeded my expectations! In a word, Mary Poppins was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

After bidding J. adieu, S., A. and I headed down to the West Village to the White Horse Tavern and probably sat at a table where Bob Dylan once wrote a song. We then headed to a place called Marie's Crisis, which is the perfect place to go after seeing a Broadway show. Marie's Crisis has a pianist who plays musical scores and everyone sings along-we got there at the end of a slew of songs from The Sound of Music. Basically, this place is filled with aspiring actors and actresses showing off some crazy awesome pipes, but not in a competitive way. The place was filled with camaraderie. I wanted to sing "Ya Got Trouble" really badly, but that is kind of a one-man-show song, and I wasn't about to insist on that in a room full of professionals!

A., S. and I at Marie's Crisis

Back to Mary Poppins. I've been kind of obsessed with the story since New York. And look at this awesome Halloweek duo I saw earlier this week:
Keiko Lynn via Grosgrain Fabulous
 As if I've not had enough Mary Poppins mania happening in my life, I just ordered what I hope is my perfect shade of red lipstick! It's imperative that I find the perfect shade of red. Anyway, Poppy King (the Lipstick Queen!) collaborated with Kate Spade to come out with four delicious shades of Supercalifragilipsticks for this fall, and I'm trying out Adventurous Red! I will tell you how it looks once it arrives! I'm feeling pretty adventurous these days, so I think it's only appropriate...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday, I'm in Love

...with Felicity. Do y'all remember that show? It first aired in the late 90's. Anyway, I'd seen every episode except for the finale and I've been searching high and low for it on the Internet for a few years (not actively, but you know, when it crossed my mind). Earlier this week I was reading a blog that made a reference to netflixing Felicity. At first I scoffed at this with an emphatic pshhhh! because a few months ago I looked into whether it was available for Netflix online streaming and it was not. This blog had tempted me to check into it again, and when I did, there was a wonderful treat waiting for me: online streaming Felicity. I obviously watched the final episode and stayed up way too late to finish it. And just so we're clear, I think Keri Russell's hair rivals that of the best hairdos Jennifer Anniston has ever rocked. Whenever perms come back in (will they ever?), I'll probably get one, freak out for about 2 weeks because I won't know what to do without my-straighter-than-a-stick-hair, and then I'll eventually find a way to avoid looking like a Pomeranian.

I can't decide if I'm satisfied with the Felicity finale. We like to watch television shows because they are serial, and we can relate to it because our lives are like that, ongoing. We get to know the characters (and can relate to them on a certain level, depending on the show), and then we become invested in them and what they do on the show. When the show ends, it feels lame and disappointing. I feel the same way about many books, even if they have that "perfect ending." I become invested in the characters and then it ends, meaning I don't know what else happens to the character out in Fiction Land. It's entertaining in the midst, but when it's over, I'm unfulfilled. Don't get me wrong, there are obviously exceptions to what I'm saying. Maybe my expectations are just way too high. And yes, I realize I'm giving commentary on a show that stopped airing almost 10 years ago. I'll stop now.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday, I'm in Love

...with this wall of sewing machines I found in All Saints in Soho a few weeks ago:

...with the fact that I'm going to visit my family today and that I get to go rollerskating tomorrow night. They still play "Truly, Madly, Deeply" every time I go there, since fifth grade. Ha. Skate World, I love you.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Every time I have purchased my plane/train ticket to New York, I have belted out, "Start spreadin' the news, I'm leavin' today. I want to be a part of it..." Yeah yeah, you get the picture. When I bought my ticket in July, I did this in my office, except no one was on third floor when I started singing, thank goodness. I really do treat my life like a musical, though oddly enough, the music doesn't come on when I start singing.

After the tickets are purchased, the giddy anticipation sets in. For this trip in particular, my friend S. and I were setting out to make our mark on the Garment District. I'd say it's more appropriate to say that it left its mark on us. Obviously, I had Project Runway on my mind, as we wanted to go to the famous Mood. Since we're on the subject of the runway, while planning this trip, I listened to David Morales' song, "Here I Am," from The Devil Wears Prada several times. That song makes me want to cut a rug and strut down a runway somewhere; therefore, you can imagine how many clothes and shoes I packed (because you never know when you'll need those 4" heels in New York).

We took a train from Charlottesville to New York (Penn Station) via Amtrak on a Thursday morning. We had a great ride; I always feel...vintage (Is that weird?) when I take a train somewhere. When we got to New York, we hit up our hostess' apartment, aka S.'s wonderful friend, apartment to freshen up a bit before meeting her down in Soho for dinner at Boqueria Tapas Bar and Restaurant. One of our main objectives in going to the City was to pay homage to one of the crafterdinner crew's favorite online hot spots for knitting supplies. When we arrived in Soho, we had a little while to meander before dinner and before you know it, we ended up a mere two blocks away from, you guessed it, Purl Soho...20 minutes before they closed (Yikes!)! Obviously, this was the perfect time for individual photo opps:

We designated Friday as our Garment District Day, and after a cup of Earl Grey and a giant chocolate chip muffin from a little corner joint, we were ready to hit it up. I had printed a list of stores from this super helpful guide prior to the trip (because let's face it, my crackberry doesn't hold a light to the screen of an iPhone), but we decided to wander around on our own before consulting with the list.

First, we stumbled upon Paron Fabrics,which is two rooms (aka Paron West: regular price and Paron Annex: half price). This place had the best prices of all the places we went. Immediately, I fell in love with some black silk with cream polka dots, but I didn't buy it yet because we were scoping things out. I later returned to purchase the silk.

We went in NY Elegant Fabrics, which had some gorgeous textiles, and we wandered around to some other random notions stores, such as, a store that sold almost exclusively zippers! What?! When we decided to consult the aforementioned list, we went to B & J Fabrics, where both S. and I went weak in the knees. That place was organized with white walls and white floors, and it was filled with bolts from floor to ceiling. Just beautiful. I felt super touristy taking pictures inside fabric stores, so I put an end to that after my first trip to Paron's. Here is a sneak peak outside the door of B & J's.

Enter Mood. Mood had loads of wonderful fabrics, but I did not enjoy the experience as much as I did over at B & J's. I guess I had set some pretty high expectations for the place, it being a major character in Project Runway. It's not like I wanted to see Heidi, just Tim... We quickly glanced in B & J's, quickly glanced in Mood, walked back to B & J's and then finally ended up back at Mood. It was exhausting. Both S. and I had compiled a list of projects we were working on and how much materials we would need for each one. What I learned from the Garment District is that this approach is not enough. Here's the thing about Mood and most fabric stores in the garment district, if you go looking for some beautiful fabric, you are going to find it. I knew what I wanted in general for certain projects, but I wanted to glean inspiration from the selection. The next time I go to the garment district (and believe me, there will be a next time), I want to have something more specific picked out, such as a color or a texture along with my project. I did buy some gorgeous ribbons (very organized ribbon section) and a few yards of some shirting cottons from Mood and some luxurious green shirting from B & J's. 

When we walked out of Mood for the second and final visit, we probably looked like we'd gotten ruled by a few bolts of fabric, which is halfway true (you should have seen us trying to tote our bolts to the cutting table). Worn out, we both looked at each other and S. said, "Dude, I need to be honest. I'm fabric-stored-out." That was some serious music to my ears, people. That's when we decided to head back down to Purl Soho.

All the awesome projects that we've read about on their blog Purl Bee were in the store for lots of petting and oogling. One project in particular that we swooned over on the blog was the Pixie Dust Lap Blanket. I'll just tell you, friends, it's even better in person; S. wanted to snuggle up with it in the store and go to sleep:

After our last visit to Purl Soho, we needed a place to sit down and chill for a while. S. and I were reflecting on our successful yet tiring day in the garment district when we decided to shoot a little video about our experience. I will have to post again about the remainder of the trip, but for now enjoy the video and know that I did not need those 4" heels after all.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Blue Jean Blues

I have a project to share involving a jean revamp...

At the beginning of my third year of college, I bought a pair of dressy, dark-wash trouser jeans by iT! Jeans, and they were awesome. The fit was perfect, and they looked great with a pair of heels or a pair flats (with the wide hem cuffed).

I still have this pair of jeans, and they're in great condition. However, I noticed that I wasn't wearing them that much because they had faded significantly since I first bought them, thus demoting their status from dressy trouser jeans to casual trouser jeans (insert sad face here). "Casual" and "trouser" should not be used to describe an article of clothing, in my opinion. 

So instead of buying a new pair of dark-wash jeans, I decided to dye them! I used Rit powder dye in navy blue and a 5 gallon bucket to carry out the procedure according to the package directions (they were in the dye bath for about half an hour). The best part about this project: the total cost was $3! I am so impressed with how the jeans turned out. I had never dyed anything except for a swatch of dotted Swiss in cranberry juice, and I was a bit skeptical that the wash would be transformed. I was willing to try it out for $3, and I am quite happy with the results! It's like I have a new pair of jeans!

One of my favorite local shops in Charlottesville called jean theory: has new and "inherited" jeans. I scored a great pair of Lucky Jeans there a few months ago for $20, and I'm thinking about dyeing them, too. Anyway, below are the before and after photos; needless to say, my blue jean blues have disappeared! 



Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday, I'm in Love

...with my new camera battery charger that is in the mail! This is the reason why my blog has been merely text. I have a project I want to share that requires before and after photos...

...with Chipotle. Say Chipotle and I will come at you like one of Pavlov's dogs. Just kidding, that actually sounds kind of scary. Seriously, though, if someone mentions the word, I start craving it and can't stop until I eat there. I order the burrito, and if I'm getting it to go, I order the burrito bowl (Something about the way the sour cream warms up and gets pasty in the car ride between burrito conception and home gives me the heebie-jeebies). Tonight, my roomie A. and I are getting takeout for dinner. She's getting hers from Ming Dynasty, a local Chinese joint, and I'm getting my beloved Chipotle. Here's what I'm getting in my burrito bowl tonight: rice, black beans, chicken, fresh tomato salsa, extra sour cream, cheese and lettuce. And the coolest thing about Chipotle is that if you don't feel like standing in line, you can order online and just go straight to the register and pick it up at the time you specify. Score. I've been wanting an iPhone for a long time now, and if I ever get one, the first order of business is getting the Chipotle ordering app. Please don't make fun of me.

...with Effie's Homemade Oat Cakes. My roommate A. brought them to our house a couple weeks ago (from Feast!), and I need to buy her a replacement bag. I tried to sneak a couple for tea about every morning, and er, I think she may have noticed when the bag starting losing weight. For the most part, I think store bought desserts are super lame, but these are my favorite tea cookies right now. Eat some!

...with the OTBT Park City Flats! Years ago, Palladium made these shoes, and then after the fact (seasons later), I tried to find them without success. I guess I had fallen off the turnip truck when they came out.  I walked into a local shoe store and heard the little darlings screeching, "We're over here!" at me from the shelf. What a wonderful surprise! Apparently, OTBT and Palladium are sister companies. These days, Palladium is the more casual face of the operation (boots, kicks, etc.), and OTBT is the dressier face (flats, hills, etc.).I have them in black and adore them. I love that they are leather, they have elastic straps (for comfort) and a rubber sole, and they can be dressed up or down. These are some practical shoes! I'm sold, folks.

This time next week, I'll be schlepping around the garment district in New York, but I don't want to wish the time away. I'm planning to have a nice, rejuvenating weekend; I hope you do the same.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Forever in Blue Jeans

I got an LL Bean catalog in the mail today and while flipping through it, I was reminded of one of my favorite SNL commercial parodies:  Mom Jeans (sorry, LL Bean, but the jean department is lacking in my opinion). If you haven't seen it, you need to drop everything you're doing right now and remedy this issue. While we're on the subject of jeans, you can go ahead and watch another commercial parody favorite of mine, Bad Idea Jeans. I am sure I've posted at least one of these video links on rintherealworld. If not, I have done you a disservice and I apologize. 

Along with the introduction of September, this week has presented a plethora of autumnal qualities. It's been rainy for the past three days, the temperature has been in the mid-sixties and the lingering side effects of Labor Day weekend, also referred as the peak of fall allergies, are about to end. Once I get over the sneezing and sniffles from the last couple of weeks (I can't tell you how many times my co-workers have gracefully said, "God bless you!" since last week), I am ready for fall. 

I have always had a terrible time with allergies for, well, my entire life. I'm allergic to most everything outside, all kinds of grass, trees, cats, mold, dust mites, pollen, down, etc. Growing up, I always hated spring because all the new life blooming sent me into wheezing fits, especially in the evenings. Much to my entire family's dismay, all my camping memories are associated with the Benadryl haze...2011 has been a miracle for me in the allergy department, though. I always dreamed of a day when my allergies weren't so out of control, but they were so terrible that I thought they would last forever. But let me tell you people, I haven't taken a Claritin in over a year, and I have only taken Benadryl twice since January 2011 (even though I keep a ready supply of the stuff at all times)! I've read accounts about how increasing vitamin C intake can help reduce the body's histamines, and I've read that decreasing one's consumption of processed foods can also help, but I know that's not all that did it for me. All I can say is thank you, Jesus! It's been such a blessing not having to fool with the mess of allergies.

Back to fall. I am so stoked about the new season! Fall is my favorite for many reasons (I'll list just a few): sweaters, soup, boots, casseroles, knitting, apple picking, the smell of smoke in the air, blazers, change, tailgating, baking, traveling, cake, fireplaces, layers, Hemingway, flannel and last (for now), but certainly not least: blue jeans. I wish I could wear them way more than I already do, but if that's my only problem, then I'd say I'm not doing too shabby.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday, I'm in Love

...with my new white J. Crew warehouse-sale button-up shirt that I bought for a mere $20! I consider this a great deal, as they normally cost about $70. If you live in the Charlottesville area, the J. Crew warehouse sale is located at the old Whole Foods (across from Fashion Square mall) and is open through Labor Day. Honestly, I'm not crazy about sample sales; I am not a good sale-shopper because I find them to be very laborious, but I'm trying to change that for the sake of saving Mr. Green. Imagine endless rows of tables with hundreds of heaping cardboard boxes of J. Crew garb--sounds like a dream right?  Well also envision the contents of one box:  a couple of sheer cardigans, a bathing suit top, a broken necklace strand, a beautiful cashmere sweater (obviously not in your size), a ratty tee shirt and a pair of bright orange capri pants.  This is what every box is like; it's sheer madness.  However, last year I got a cream-colored wool coat for $50.00; the original price in the store was $298. 

Hands down, my favorite button-up shirt in the whole world is from J. Crew. If they ever discontinue this style, I will boycott J. Crew until my last breath. I love the fit and durability of the shirt and I have it in multiple colors, but the white shirt is what sold it. My litmus test for picking out a classic button-up shirt (aside from fit) is one question:  Can you see through the white shirt? In the case of the classic J. Crew shirt, the answer is no; therefore, it's a keeper. Including the one I bought yesterday, I now own three in white: one long sleeve, and two three-quarter sleeve (in two different sizes). Why do I own the same shirt in two different sizes, you ask? I sized down in one because sometimes I want a super fitted shirt, especially if I'm wearing it under a sweater. 

Just this morning, I read an article from Matchbook Magazine called The Oxford Shirt by Natalie Grasso, and my favorite thing she writes in the article is this:
If you don't own a white button-up shirt, buy one immediately: it's the most valuable thing you can have hanging in your closet! Here's a laundry tip: wash a white shirt after every wear; it will stay nice and bright. While we're on the subject, one of the leading causes of white shirts turning yellowy under the arms is antiperspirant deodorant. A few months ago, my mom turned me on to a mineral salt deodorant called Crystal (you can get it at Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, etc.), and it rocks. Here's why:  it is odorless, it doesn't have aluminum in it, and it doesn't leave the yellowy residue on the inside of your clothes (aka, it's wonderful for white shirts...). Oh, oh, and ladies and gents can use it!  Okay, enough about deodorant.

Everyone have a great and safe Labor Day weekend!  I'm going home for the weekend and will also be making the annual pilgrimage to the Hillsville, VA antiques/gun/flea market.  You can read about the last two years of Hillsville finds posts here and here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Another Journey By Train

I want to try out this hairstyle. 

In a few weeks, I am skipping town by train to New York with a dear friend of mine.  We're going to hit up the garment district and prance around like we own the place.  Watch out, Mood, here we come.  Oh oh!  And we're going to Purl Soho, too. Eeek!  It will be a much needed adventure.

It's about time for some Hemingway in my life again.  I'm reading The Paris Wife, a novel written from Hadley's point of view, and while I can't give a thorough review, all I know is that I want Ernest right now.  It's strange, but I like to read Hemingway and Jane Austen at the same time; thus, I will be reading my two favorite books of all time:  In Our Time and Persuasion.  I need them right now.

I would like to pour a tall one of these to accompany my late summer reads...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday, I'm in Love

...with this cake.  I want to make it stat; the recipe sounds wonderful.  
...with the fact that there has not been an earthquake or aftershock in over 24 hours here in Charlottesville!  I've talked to many people and read about different accounts of the quakes; they were similar to mine.  In short, I was scared out of my wits!  It was my first earthquake and hopefully the last one I experience for, well, forever, ha.  It's an eerie feeling when the ground is shaking beneath you, that's all I'm saying.

...with the fact that I'm having a bad hair day.  Not.

...with the fact that my house is hurricane ready.  A couple weeks ago, we had a severe thunderstorm and lost power at my house for about 25 hours (every single time there is a storm involving the slightest puff of wind, a tree blows down and onto a power line in my neck of the City).  When this happened, I had two candles in the entire house (should I be ashamed of that?), one was a tiny unscented pillar candle, and the other one was an awesome jar candle from Bath & Body Works, scented "Mango Cilantro."  I love the smell of this candle, but the cool thing about it is that you only have to burn it for 5-10 minutes for it to permeate the entire house.  I'm starting to think that this feature is not so cool.  You can imagine what happened after having it burn for a couple of hours.  I got the worst headache ever and had to blow out the candle (aka, it was night time and really dark) and sit in my room alone with a flashlight toward the ceiling for some semblance of an overhead light.  I don't really like sitting in the dark; plus, it was depressing.

We have four fireplaces in the house, and I had this vision for making a candle arrangement in the living room.  I am sure I ripped the idea from someone else, but I don't remember where...Anyway, I have a super quality image to "show off" the display after a trip to buy out World Market's supply of unscented ivory candles.  This picture was taken from my lovely phone, as I cannot find the battery charger that goes with my camera.  Awesome.  Anyway, besides those candles, I have some hurricane glasses (no pun intended) and many votive candles to brighten up the cottage if we do in fact lose power.  I should probably get some ice for my cooler...

In other news, my favorite sewing pattern company Colette Patterns is coming out with a book in November!!  The Colette Sewing HandbookI am chomping at the bit to get this book!  In fact, I may go ahead and pre-order it on Amazon.  If you have never tried their sewing patterns, I highly recommend them!  I can sing praises for Colette Patterns all day long, seriously.  Their patterns are darling, vintage-inspired pieces, and the instructions they provide for garment construction are well-thought, simple and just downright wonderful, not to mention that they have projects for all skill levels.  I have made the Sencha twice, and the Sorbetto twice as well with great results to show from both!  The Sorbetto is a free pattern download (click above), so if you want to give Colette a go before purchasing, it'd be a great project to dip your toes in the water!  I have Ginger on standby for an upcoming project for fall.  Check them out-they have great products and a great blog (and I know the book is going to be smashing!).  Here is the description of the five patterns in the book: "a scalloped-hem skirt, flutter-sleeve blouse, sweetheart neck sheath dress, asymmetrical flounce dress, and a lined dress with gathered sleeves"  They had me at Sarai Mitnick (owner/author/designer of Colette Patterns) and scalloped-hem skirt.  Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Over the course of my life to date, I've made many things.  Several memorable ventures stick out in my mind such as:
  • Glitter Play-Doh earrings with needles sticking out of them that I expected my mother to wear
  • The classic I Love You Mom alphabet necklace--white round alphabet beads strung on hot pink flimsy thread as the "necklace" portion)
  • A yellow gingham curtain for what I called the "playhouse," which in reality was a pig house with a flat metal roof that sat on the other side of the fence in my backyard.  Don't worry, there were no pigs in there.  Oh, and I wanted blue, teal and fuchsia sequin trim on it...
  • Candles shaped and scented like desserts, such as cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies
  • Glycerin soaps--once I made my grandmother a bar of cinnamon and oatmeal soap, in which all the contents sunk to the bottom of the bar.  :(
My days of craft have since improved and look more handmade in what I hope is an aesthetic way and not in a my-ten-year-old-made-this-for-you way.  I've become totally addicted to sewing apparel.  It's turning into my thing...Sewing clothing is great for me because I really enjoy sewing (so I'm going to spend the time and money on it anyway), and if I can wear what I sew then I don't have to buy as many clothes (not that I really have to buy clothes, but what girl doesn't like a new shirt every once in a while?). 

I have a suggestion for beginning apparel seamstresses:  start with a simple, A-line skirt, maybe even a wrap skirt (that was my first apparel project).  Skirts are more forgiving than shirts, as I learned when making my second piece of apparel, this white shirt.  And also, it is a good idea to become familiar with garment construction in general, as it will save you a lot of time.

If you're a super seamstress and/or thinking of opening a sweatshop to produce your fabulous designs (or you feel like doing something silly), you should play this game.  Fashion Incubator wrote a little review for it if you're interested in reading it. 

Yesterday, I ran across a craft that I'd never heard of or even considered.  It involves violently shaking a printer.  Check it out.

For dinner the other night, I fashioned a chicken parmigiana casserole.  I love casseroles for two reasons, deliciousness and longevity.  Hip hip hooray for casseroles! 

 Here's the recipe:

1/2 box thin spaghetti cooked al dente
2-3 cooked chicken breasts, cubed (I used a Rotisserie chicken)
1 1/2 jars red spaghetti sauce of your choice (I used 1 jar of Classico tomato and basil sauce and it was not enough because I like it super saucy)
fresh whole-milk Mozzarella, sliced
breadcrumbs (I used semi-stale sourdough bread made into crouton-sized toasted pieces)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a casserole dish, layer the ingredients in the following order: spaghetti, chicken, spaghetti sauce, Mozzarella, breadcrumbs.  Cover top with foil and bake for 30 minutes; remove foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes until breadcrumbs are golden.  Obviously, if you want to get gourmet, you could make your own sauce or add some fresh herbs, but I was in the mood for quick...if you try it out, tell me how it goes!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Friday, I'm in Love (even though it's Saturday)

...with this red cabbage plant that my dad and mom are growing in their garden!  It looks like a giant flower, yeah?

...with this quilt my great grandmother made out of fabric from which my grandmother sewed clothes for my mom and her three sisters when they were young girls.

Look at the fan quilting she did by hand.  I loved seeing this quilt; I'd love to hand-quilt sometime.

Have a great weekend, friends!

Monday, July 11, 2011

This Ole House

Friends, I introduce you to the cottage.  Below are just a few photos to give you a sneak peek before coming to visit!

I am obsessed with these double doors and am trying to decide what kind of wreath/door hanging to put together for it...any ideas?

This is the living room (My dad made the coffee table, isn't it awesome!  He made an extra special table that is sitting beside my bed in my bedroom, which I'll show you at a later date.).

This is the mantle in my bedroom.  My great aunt gave me those vintage wooden spools of thread from her sewing stash, along with two gorgeous framed needlepoint canvases that she made in 1967, which are hanging on both sides of the turquoise mirror.  Those little white bud vases were my grandmother's and they match a lamp that is on the far left side of the mantle, which you cannot see in this photo.

I like to remind myself that most things are a work in progress (unless it's a finished sewing or knitting project, hehe), so while the new house isn't perfect, it's good for right now.  :)

H.'s mom gave me four tomato plants that needed reviving, two pink Germans and two Mr. Stripeys (my favorite tomato ever), so I replanted them and will hopefully have fresh tomatoes by the end of August!  It's my first potted tomato garden, so we'll see how it goes.  Happy Monday!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday, I'm in Love

...with my green toes!  I got my second ever pedicure yesterday after work, and to follow the summer 2011 trend, I went with a bold, non-conventional color.  China Glaze's Four Leaf Clover.  I kind of love it.  What do you think, too much?

Below is a long-awaited photo of the first shirt I ever made:  the Amy Butler Anna Tunic.  To new apparel seamstresses, I would not recommend sewing a shirt for your first project; I kind of had a tiny meltdown, which included H. telling me that I turned into an R. monster.  I would not recommend trying an Amy Butler pattern for your first piece of homesewn clothing either.  While they have a very professional and finished look, I got really frustrated by my amateurness and not knowing exactly how to do everything the pattern asked me to do.  The instructions were very thorough, but as my second apparel project, I did not enjoy making it, which defeats the purpose in my opinion.  However, I learned a lot on this project and I do love wearing it!

The red fabric used for the brooch matches the fabric-covered buttons
on the back of the blouse, my favorite part of the shirt.

Also, check out this sweet link for 52 free dress patterns

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dear Journal

I opened my journal up this morning and it flipped to an earlier entry dated February 22, 2008.  This is the only thing I wrote that day:

When I hear the word "scholar," I think of chocolate chip waffles.

That's the stuff journal entries are made of...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday, I'm in Love

...with my red skirt with white polka dots!  Get ready for me, July 4 because it's soooo on!  I may take a bite out of history on Monday and hit up the "the great birthday of our republic" celebration at Monticello.  Gotta do TJ proud by rocking the red skirt!

...with the below image I spotted on A Cup of Jo.  It's in Norway; wouldn't you kill to be there right now?

...with Clementine Izze!  There's nothing like a big slab of chocolate cake and one of these babies in the middle of summer.  Fruit juice + sparkling water.  Get some.
In love with anything this Friday?  Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday, I'm in Love

...with my new house!  It's sooo cute, y'all; I can't wait to show some pictures of it.  A. and I are finishing up the kitchen tonight.  It's been really hard for us to cook at the new place (and eat, really) because we've been doing prep work for food/meals on the kitchen table.  Therefore, we picked up a totally sweet stainless steel worktable for counter space.  Sam's Club, you rock.  It was the cheapest one around, and it holds up to 1000 pounds.  I don't know why I got really excited about the weight capacity because we're not planning on putting anything remotely that heavy onto the table, but the point is, we could if we wanted to...

On Tuesday night, I christened the oven with my chocolate chip pear yogurt cake, and it did a very fine job.   As of tomorrow morning, though, kitchen activity should be LIVE in the sense of, routines will be formed, serving dishes and fondue pots will have found their permanent homes and normal operations can take place with ease.  Yessssss.  

I've decided to do a series on Fridays called Friday, I'm in Love (Rock it, The Cure!).  It may be a summer 2011 trend, or it may become a permanent staple on R. in the Real World.  Maybe we'll have a vote at the end of August?  In such postings you may read about a fabric, a flavor, a trend, a funny story, a person, a color, an R. kitchen staple, a picture, etc.  So for today I have two:  my new cottage and the organic blueberries I got at the Pen Park Farmer's Market on Tuesday. I used to hate blueberries because I thought they tasted super grainy, but then I discovered that I was eating all the wrong blueberries.  Sheesh.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

At Last

...Niknak got married on Saturday!  I can't say enough wonderful things about the wedding; Niknak and Al rocked, the people rocked, the event rocked, the food rocked, and the list goes on and on.  You can see a sneak preview of one of her wedding photos here by Katelyn James, who is an awesome photographer and such a sweet person.

What else is new...

I have officially moved!  Did I tell you about my awesome new cottage?  I can't remember.  It was built as a bed and breakfast in the 1930's, it has a working fire place in every room except the two bathrooms (aka, a mantle to decorate in every room), it has hardwood floors, and it has laundry machines (Thank You, Jesus.)!  It's in a really cute neighborhood in Charlottesville and I'm excited to share some pictures, as I'm sure most of you think I've completely quit snapping photos these days.  Oh, and all the walls are white, which I think is nothing short of classic in an old house.  My new roomie A. and I are in the process of moving stuff in, and I have some cleaning to do at my old apartment, but I'm just so happy my big move is out of the way.  It's kind of hard to have a big move when you're just going a few miles down the road, versus across the country, because you get in this mindset with all the little things:  Well, I'll just leave that here for now and take it over to the new place.  And then you end up driving back and forth until you get nauseated.  Anyone with me on this one?

Oh, and I made Julia Child's French onion soup recently.  It was so delicious I couldn't believe I made it.  Seriously, make it, it's one of the cheapest meals you can fix.  It got me out of my cooking strike, even though I've been wanting to go to Chipotle every night for dinner. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Great Balls of Fire

Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire, it's been forever since I posted.  I mean, I just went to Design*Sponge and didn't even know that they'd given their website a whole new facelift.  What's become of me?

I like posting in lists because that's what my life has consisted of lately:
  • The lease on the cottage my friend A. and I are renting starts TODAY, praise the Lord.  I've been fighting sewing curtains until I get moved in.
  • The Crafterdinner girls and I are having a jumbo YARD SALE this coming Saturday in Charlottesville.  I'm literally up to ears in boxes at my current apartment.  There's hardly room to walk.  
  • Thank you, Lord, for linen.  I just ordered some linen trousers for this 95 degree summer weather so I can look semi-professional at work and not be miserable in the attire.
  • Happy anniversary to my mom and dad; they've been married for 31 years today.  They are awesome.  Speaking of weddings, Niknak is getting married in less than two weeks.  Zomg.
  • It's June.  Does this blow anyone else's mind?
Here's to celebrating slacker bloggers (that's me)!  This slogan should read more like, "Here's to bloggers who have real lives and live them!"  :)  Sorry for the sarcasm.  Tootles for now.

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Tie Dye on the Highway

    I'd like to tell you that this post is about a lovely sunset while driving down the highway,but it is not.  It is, however, about a dyeing experience I had yesterday morning.  I've been getting up earlier than usual and doing productive things before going to work like cutting fabric, sewing and laundering.  It's a new thing I've begun doing (getting out of bed earlier) because well, who doesn't like being productive?  Yesterday's morning project was dyeing.

    Let me rewind and give you a brief view of my April (I'm making excuses for not blogging, obviously).  H. was sworn in at the U.S. Supreme Court, then his birthday was the same week (then a birthday party where we made 13.5 pounds of barbecue), and then I finished my white shirt I told you guys about (pictures later).  Oh, and I designed and sewed a skirt last week, which was really fun (pictures later).  I'm kind of obsessed with fabric-covered buttons right now (as evidenced by the buttons on the back of my white shirt I'm going to show later), so that's how I wanted the skirt to close in the back; the only problem was that I didn't leave the opening large enough, meaning that I must put the skirt on over my head to wear it.  How do mistakes help us?  They force us to learn and grow.  Moving on now.

    I am making a brooch to sit atop my newly sewn and flawed white shirt.  The buttons I used on the shirt were covered with a lovely red floral print fabric, from which I cut pieces for my brooch.  The little flowers are slightly pink, so for the center of my brooch I wanted to use some slightly pink fabric.  This is what led me to dyeing.

    I had some leftover white Swiss dot fabric from my shirt, so I cut a couple of swatches of it to dye.  Keep in mind that what I'm getting ready to describe happened in about 15 minutes and that I have no experience with dyeing other than with tea.  I filled a bowl with Ocean Spray 100%, no sugar added, cranberry juice, put two little pieces of fabric in the bowl and stirred.  I vaguely remembered reading somewhere that adding vinegar during one of the dyeing steps helps to set the color, so I added a little bit of vinegar (no measuring involved).  Once the color was a tidbit darker than I wanted it, I took the fabric pieces out of the cranberry juice and rinsed them with water.  

    My concern with using the Ocean Spray juice to dye the fabric was that I wanted to make sure to get any sugar from the juice rinsed out of the fabric.  What happened next still puzzles me, in a, I-haven't-really-looked-into-the-situation-any-further, kind of way:  I put a dab of Arm & Hammer's perfume-and-dye-free laundry detergent on the fabric pieces and ran them under some cold water.  I don't remember the exact moment at which this happened, but when I put the detergent on the fabric and ran it under cold water, both pieces of fabric turned a gross, greenish gray, snot color!  I needed to leave for work in less than five minutes, so I was a little peeved about the unexpected color change; therefore, I rinsed the green color out of the fabric, dipped it in more cranberry juice for about one minute and then rinsed it off with water.  I thought, to heck with getting the sugar out, then I hung it up to dry.  When I got home, I was able to use the fabric for the center of my new brooch, and it was the perfect color, yay!  Feel free to laugh at my amateur dyeing, but it got the job done in the long run.  And the project was for me, which is different than if I would have been selling the thing.  As with the many things in life, it's about the journey, not the arrival, yeah?

    Thursday, March 31, 2011

    The Voice of Cheese

    I read a very informative post about creating the perfect cheese plate over at a A Cup of Jo and thought I would let all other cheese lovers know.  I kind of feel dumb for wrapping cheese in saran wrap now...

    H. has a birthday coming up, so I may have to integrate the cheese plate guide into my party planning sessions.  I love making party food.  As far as party planning goes, all I know is that we are making a bunch of pork barbecue in a crock pot (fix it and forget it, yeah!), so I'm looking for other barbecue-worthy "sides" to make with it besides coleslaw, which I may make anyway.  Right now I'm trying to think of a cool way to turn mac and cheese into a finger food.  The pub I worked at in college used to serve baskets of deep fried mac and cheese wedges with a big cup of ranch dressing, and let me tell you, they were rock-your-socks-off delicious.  I'm not much on deep-frying at home, it's just not my style; plus, it makes my skin really greasy.  What if I handcrafted bite-sized mac and cheese balls and breaded, and browned them on the stove?...Sounds like too much work and my concern is that this method would dry them out.  Well, all ideas are welcome; I'm sure I'll come up with something with the help of any readers out there.

    Monday, March 28, 2011


    I knew this was going to happen, but I'll say it, I want a dressmaker's form.  Goll-eee, it would rock to own one of those puppies. 

    Right now I've got two sewing items on the sewing table, er, my kitchen table:  my white shirt, and my very own design.  All you guys have seen on the R-design is the sleeve; yesterday in my sewing class I tweaked the sleeve design and added the bodice.  Now I have to make the pattern on my sweet roll of wide tracing paper.  I'm a bit nervous about the pattern drafting mainly because of all the pleats in my sleeve, but I will get through it.

    In my inexperienced apparel sewing life (by that I mean, I've only finished a skirt), I've learned a couple of things about myself:  turning tubes right-side-out literally drives me to tears, I love pleats, and I'm pretty much obsessed with scalloped edges.  The shirt that I designed is covered in pleats, which I love, but because I've never sewn pleats, I'm fully prepared to get a little frustrated at first and then tackle it with tearless self control.  And these Marc Jacobs flats don't help my scallop addiction:
    I want to make a simple skirt out of the below fabric (which I already own) with a scalloped hem, using this tutorial.  What do you think?

    Pastry Line Saffron from the Little Folks Voile collection by Anna Maria Horner