Happy (almost) New Year!!

12.31.2011

Happy New Year!

I learned a new term this year--evidently "NYE" is short for New Year's Eve?  I thought people were talking about some fancy club or event in New York when I kept seeing it on Twitter.

Anyway, I hope you all have exciting plans for New Year's Eve.  I'm happy to be hanging out with family including a sister-in-law who's home from school for the holiday, and we're going to a party and then probably just catching up after!  Nothing too crazy.  I get tired early. ;)

But the beginning of a new year does make you think.  This is a good time for reflecting back, and making changes and goals for the future.  And, thinking back on my year, I remember how grateful I am to have all of you out there, readers.  I wanted to take this time to say thank you all so much for reading my blog. (!!!!)  It truly means so much to me that you want to read the stories and posts I publish, and I am so happy to hear your comments and read your emails every day.



A lot happened in my life in 2011, but I'll spare you the details.  The high points: got a "real" job, moved, got married, honeymooned, and started house-hunting!

As for the stuff you care about?  Some blog changes and improvements, for sure.  I started tweeting more, had the blog slightly redesigned, and started my How to Wear DIY series that I'm so excited about.  I love sharing how I incorporate homemade pieces into my everyday wardrobe and style.  And I really I hope you all enjoy reading about how my DIY attitude influences my outfits.

My goals for 2012 include keeping up the blog and getting better at it!  A year from now, I want to have an even better blog, and I hope you stick around and spread the word so that I'm able to get there!

What are your New Year's resolutions or goals for 2012?  Maybe you want to sew for yourself more often, or make more home-cooked meals, or clean out your closet!, or whatever it is... I'd love to hear it!

How to Wear DIY: A holiday dress

12.30.2011

I know Christmas has come and gone, but I wanted to share with you the outfit I wore to work on the 23rd.  So here's a How to Wear DIY post for ya, and hey, let's play with photo settings while we're at it, shall we?

To be festive, right around Christmas I'm happy I got to wear this plaid dress I made last winter.  It really feels most appropriate at the holidays.  Red and black plaid, so it could go any time of winter, but it was a lot of fun with gold jewelry and nails on Christmas Eve Eve!

I could have worn it with cute heels, of course, but I wanted to keep it relaxed.  I wore my cozy black riding boots.  Think preppy, classic...

You can almost feel the chilly Oregon day, can't you?  It's pretty grey here this time of year.

Tee: Old Navy. Necklace and belt: ? Boots: Steve Madden via Overstock.com. Dress: DIY!

Do you dress festively for the holidays?  Pretty soon I'll got to get out of the red/gold/glitter phase after New Year's, won't I....

I can't believe I just bought these.

12.29.2011

I never do this...
But I've been wanting some nice kitchen stuffs for a loooong time.  And this Christmas came, and I decided I needed to get myself a present!  Well, get us a couple of presents.

I got an amazing Boxing Day sale deal on these from Amazon:

Cuisinart, stainless steel, 10-piece set... our current pots/pans collection is made up entirely of these items:

  • A scraped-up, very old Calphalon skillet
  • A very dented little nonstick pot and lid
  • An old Revereware skillet
  • A huge Revereware pot with no lid
And we keep them IN the stove, because we have no cabinet space.  So this lovely shiny new set I just ordered may have to stay mostly in the box until we buy our house (soon, I hope!!).


But what I'm really excited about is this: since I started a totally new diet about two years ago, I've wanted a really great blender for smoothies, soups, etc.  Vita-Mixes are super expensive but amazing.  But I got a great deal on this one, too--Amazon Warehouse Deals!  I am over-the-moon excited that I ordered this.


AAAAAAH!!!!!!

I can't wait to use it!  My husband and I are both SO excited to have Jamba Juice-like smoothies in the comfort of our own home.  Ohhh, the possibilities...

Any tips on any of my new goodies, I'd love to hear them!  Or if you've recently treated yourself after Christmas...

Now that the secret's out... some homemade gifts!

12.28.2011

Now that Christmas is over and the gifts have been given, I can share some of the projects I made!  Never know who's gonna read this, and I didn't want to spoil any surprises...

My homemade gifts usually have a theme.  One year I made everyone microwaveable rice bags, one year aprons, and so on.  This year I was excited to make some purses from patterns made by my inspiring sponsor Paradiso Designs.  Cheryl has built quite the line of patterns including lots of cute bags!

I tried out the Okashi pattern for my sister-in-law...


Picked a brown plaid twill I thought she would like, and colors to compliment it.  Rather than use the metal ring, I created a T-shape made of strap piece to attach the straps.



I put pockets on both sides of the inside, though you can only see one--lots of room for a cell phone, pens, gum... I picked this bag because it seemed like such a great size!  And, to sew, it was really simple and fun, but it still has the rectangular base that makes a bag this size useable.


I made the Tiny Bag for my friend.  How cute is this little thing?

Again picking colors I thought she'd like, I used a soft wide wale corduroy for the outside.  Rather than make my own straps, I bought one at JoAnn and some small D-rings and used them.



The inside is a quilter's cotton, which worked well for bias trim, on the top and on the pockets.


This one has a pocket on the outside back, too.


Can you see the bottom corners?  I love the technique for making this little bag have corners.

If you want to try out purse-making, I highly recommend either of these patterns!  They're simple, mostly rectangles and such, but the instructions really help you get the idea of how you can make a high quality piece with no tricky, complicated, messy parts... I especially love how all Cheryl's bags have a layer of muslin between the outside and lining fabrics.  It means you can make a sturdy bag with whatever cute fabrics you like!

What did you make this Christmas for gifts??

How to Wear DIY: It's the Thought that Counts

12.25.2011

Hope you all had an amazing holiday!

I have some thoughts that I'd like to share with you today, inspired in part by the holiday break and my time with friends and family.  Get ready to get philosophical.

I believe that DIY is more of an attitude than an action, a power that you feel to take your wardrobe, home, menu, whatever it is into your own hands and create what you want or need.

Let me explain.  Over Christmas I get to see some family members I don't often see, which is awesome.  I made a couple of homemade gifts for some of them (more on that later! I have pics!).  They were very well-received, I'm so happy to say--it's awesome when people like the stuff you put work into.  Same with me--I don't always love my projects, but it's great when I love them and wear them all the time.

But anyway, these gifts were also received with comments of "wow, you're so talented, I wish I could sew like that!"  And neither of these sisters-in-law is untalented, btw, and both have some crafty skills themselves.  When they said these things to me, I immediately thought, "but, you can do stuff like that, too--you made that quilt that one time, and you took the embellishments off that sweater..."  But they don't think those things are good enough.  They see me sewing and crafting all the time and think that I'm doing something they can't do.

I beg you to think of it differently.  The biggest difference between me and an occasional crafter who does smaller or simpler projects is that I've built it into my routine and I do it often and think of it often.  I am fortunate to be able to have a sewing machine set up all the time, and I have Goodwill and craft store purchases sitting around my house waiting to be turned into something else.  I have more practice, yes, but a) I'm not doing anything other people can't do, and b) if you've done the slightest little modification, project, craft, or, goodness-knows-what, I call you a DIYer.

I have an attitude with me all the time that I can make my own of whatever it is--so can you.  I DIY all the time because it gives me more options (on a limited budget, for less waste for the planet, and because it feels good to be creative and take things into my own hands).  It doesn't really matter what your abilities are or what you've been able to do before, it's just that mindset that you CAN do it yourself.

That's kind of why I enjoy sharing these How to Wear DIY posts I've been doing and loving so much.  They're not just outfit posts; they're outfit posts where I show that I can look normal and current and stylish in something I've made.  Homemade clothes don't have to just be prom dresses or aprons or tea cozies; they can be actual wearable garments that we can incorporate into our wardrobes all the time.  And, yes, you can be proud to say "Thanks, I made it!", but really, regardless of what it is or why, the amazing thing is that you know you can do what you need or want yourself.

I know many of you know this already--that may be why you started reading my blog in the first place.  But I get the feeling that a lot of you don't sew for yourselves a whole lot, and like my blog for other reasons (no matter who you are, thank you so much for reading. I am so happy to have you!).

But let me illustrate my point a little bit.  I argue that a great DIYer is not necessarily a super-talented seamstress or ModPodge-er, but someone who is open to creating and re-creating.  Example: these jeans.  I bought them, they fit perfectly. I washed them, they shrank more than an inch in length and were too short.  Some people might toss them in the Goodwill pile.  Maaaaaybe cut them off into cutoffs.  But I gotta say, I am so happy that I said, "isn't there a way to save these?"  I did this sneaky little technique to make them longer, and now they're much more wearable and less nerdy!  I loooooooooove these jeans. I wear them ALL the time.  They fit great, and I am so happy to have them!  Just think if I had thrown in the towel when they shrank?!

So here's a How to Wear DIY outfit post that hopefully illustrates my point rather than feels like cheating in this theme.  This Christmas, I wore these fave jeans with my (also fave) soft denim shirt and boots that I wear nonstop in the winter (both Target brands found brand new at Goodwill, interestingly), and a super cozy chunky Old Navy cardi.  My mom and I take a long walk every Christmas morning, and it includes a stroll along a little creek at the edge of town.  This outfit was great on a foggy, chilly Christmas morning!


Fave jeans!!
Sweater: Old Navy. Denim shirt and leather boots: Target via Goodwill. Necklace: Forever 21. 
Watch: American Eagle. Jeans: Levi's, and DIY'ed!

So, no, you can't really even tell that I'm wearing home-fixed jeans.  But isn't that kind of the point?  Being a DIYer means being accustomed to  wearing stuff you've made, and not feeling weird or out-of-the-ordinary about it.

Post script--I woke up this morning with these words in  mind.  I hope you know what I'm talking about and appreciate my concept of DIY!  I'd love to hear your ideas about it, too.

And I hope you all had a very merry Christmas!

Easy Christmas DIY

12.24.2011

Have you ever made orange and clove pomanders before?





My mom and I used to make them around Christmas, and they smell so good and are so pretty!  And as a kid it was a great DIY project that even I was able to do.

The instructions are, basically, stick cloves into an orange in a pretty pattern.  But you can get creative!  MadeByGirl had a tutorial yesterday on some cute patterns you can do, and tie it with a ribbon.

If you're looking for an easy and festive DIY project to do with kids or family this year, I highly recommend you give everyone an orange and stark pomand-ing!

What do you do around the house at Christmas to make things smell festive?  Ohhhh, I can just imagine the spiced cider cooking on the stove and giving the whole house that amazing scent...

Accidental purple headboard

12.22.2011

How does one accidentally own a purple headboard, you ask?

Here's the story.  You probably don't remember the headboard I made a couple years ago, with the help of my dad's power tools.  I've used it in two of the three places I've lived in as an adult, and it's gone through some changes.  I recovered it in yellow print, and then at our current apartment the color scheme was totally different and it went with blue and white.

Anyway, now the walls are pale grey (thanks to my sweet husband for doing the painting!), and I'm going with a grey, white, and pink? turquoise? yellow? not sure, some accent color scheme.  So I was imagining a white headboard would look good in our room, or maybe the perfect grey.  Ideally I would add buttons or at least tufting, get this sort of look:



Source: issuu.com via Suzannah on Pinterest




So I've been sort of looking for headboard fabric for a while now, but the other day I got fed up--went to the fabric store and really, really wanted to buy something.  I couldn't find any whites or greys that were even remotely close or good enough.  I saw some dark browns, though, that were nice.  I figured, well I have this dresser:

...in our room, and it looks pretty good with the pale grey walls and white bedding.  It's a very, very dark brown, not quite black.  I think.  So I looked around at the dark browns, and chose one in a suedecloth.  I don't think I've ever bought or used suedecloth before--I kind of hate it for apparel, but it seemed good for a headboard.

So I buy the dark brown (called "Caviar") and bring it home.  I get it home and drape it in our bedroom... and it looks sort of purple.

Sort of purple.  I guess the fluorescent lighting in JoAnn was misleading??

In the light of our bedroom it looks like dark, brown-ish purple.  Oops.

But, it's better than the tan it was before, and better than most of the other stuff I saw at the store.  So I staple it on.  Tweeted a pic.


Ohhh, staple gun projects are so fast and fun!

Here she is, our purple headboard.  It was an accident, but it works for now.



*Ohhh, boy. Every time I do anything to our house I am reminded how much we can't wait to buy a place of our own!!  We're hoping there are more places listed in the area we're looking for after the holidays.

Nostalgia trip! And, How to Wear DIY--that scarf.

12.20.2011

Over the weekend, husband and I headed down the 100 miles or so to Eugene, where we went to school at University of Oregon (go ducks!).  I took Friday off work and we had so much fun relaxing and doing old favorite things on a quiet, foggy day in Eugene.

We went to lunch at our old favorite Thai place, where we went the night Jason proposed.  Had to document it!

Ta Ra Rin.  Reeeeeeeally good papaya salad.


Over by campus, we went to one of the greatest bookstores, Smith Family Bookstore.  This place is awesome.  It looks so tiny on the outside, but you head a couple flights of stairs, and you're surrounded by allllll these shelves.  It has lots of textbooks as well, being near campus, but has a great selection of other books, too.


I always remember the stacks in this place... every aisle, stacks of books on the floor!


We wandered around campus, too.  It was kind of magical to be there when all the students have gone home for the holidays, and it's the darkest time of year, and it was foggy.

We also stopped by the park where Jason proposed after a Pixies concert we went to more than two years ago.  It feels smaller than I remember it!


He recreated the moment...


We also stopped by Max's, the only bar in the world that I like.  That's not entirely true, but I do really like it, and I almost never like bars.


They always are playing great alternative music, and I love how they always have peanuts or popcorn or chex mix on all the tables!!  And chess boards.  Oh, how I miss Tuesday trivia nights at Max's!


So, we had a great time on our little mini-vacation.  And did you catch it?  This is a How to Wear DIY story, as well--that scarf, from yesterday??  Turned it into an infinity/chunky cowl look.  Wore it with this brown faux leather jacket I've been loving--Target for $15 after Thanksgiving, and chunky sweater tights and riding boots.  I was cozy!

Jacket: Target. Shirt: Old Navy. Skirt: Gap. Tights: Express via Marshall's. Boots: Steve Madden from Overstock.com. 
Necklace: Forever 21. Watch: American Eagle. Cowl: DIY!

Cowl-inspired scarf idea

12.19.2011

So I'm seeing cowl/infinity scarves everywhere.  Super cute for fall, and a cute alternative to a regular knitted scarf... let's allow Pinterest to demonstrate my meaning, shall we?









Totally cute, right?

I used to knit a lot, so I have quite a few knitted scarves that I don't wear (some were experimental, some were made of the wrong kind of yarn, some shed on everything... etc.)--one of those was a long, skinny one I made ages ago out of a delicious pure wool yarn.  I don't remember where I got it but I think I only had a little, which is why the scarf was so narrow and not quite long enough.

So, inspired by cowl-shaped infinity scarves, I made a quick alteration to this one: using a big needle and thread, I sewed the ends together so it's actually a big loop!


So there's a seam made of regular thread, which isn't ideal for a knit, which has stretch, but I'm pretty confident it'll be just fine with this little seam, which doesn't really show much anyway and can be put at the back.


I can loop it three times around my neck and get the cozy look of a cowl or infinity scarf, and it's pretty cool that I made it for myself originally and then transformed it.


So, I highly recommend, if you have a scarf you don't wear for a length or width reason (or any reason!), would you wear it if it were looped?  Try it on without the stitching and try to imagine it in a cowl shape.  Pretty cute...

And it'll take you only a few seconds to whip those ends together.
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