Monday, January 31, 2011

Organizing: Weekly Outfits

The first step in finding a solution for a problem, as we all know, is to acknowledge there is a problem. In my case, there were two problems that prevented me from looking presentable when doing the school run.

One - I like to have stuff ready
Two - I panic when I have to make split-second decisions

This meant I ended up running out of the house in sweatpants and one of my husband's t-shirts most days, because nothing in my own closet seemed to suit.

Now, with a little pre-planning, I am hardly likely to make Vanity Fair's Best Dressed List but at least I don't look like complete and utter shit while dropping the boys at school.

No, I don't make a pic like this every week, this is just for demonstration purposes :D

What I do do is, set up my clothes and accessories on hangers so they are ready to go, and all I have to do is grab them and get dressed.

Every weekend I take 7 hangers for the upcoming week and first hang a pair of pants on the hanger bar, then take out some t-shirts/tanks/blouses and hang them on. If it's going to be a chilly week, layer on the cardigan/jacket/sweater.

I also add the accessories at this point - any jewelry gets hung on the hanger, as do scarves if needed. Brooches/pins get put on the outer garment. If I think I'll wear a hat, then I either stuff it in a pocket or lay it over the pants hanging inside.

This is just my little method to look respectable in the mornings. It works for me, it alleviates my panic (I take meds, but I'd rather make things as easy as I can) and I don't need to think about it too much. Win-win!

I'm linking this up to Amanda's Weekend Bloggy Reading Party!
Weekend Bloggy Reading

Friday, January 28, 2011

What I'm Watching: Pillars of the Earth

I like my stories to have strong characters, plausible storylines, interesting concepts and, ideally, be set in a period other than the current one. If there's eye candy, especially if there's British eye candy, I'm there.

I'm currently watching Pillars of the Earth on Netflix, catching half an episode here and there, when the boys let me. I completely missed this when it came on TV, but I was browsing around and found this, and I am completely hooked!

The summary will tell you it's about building a cathedral in the Middle Ages but it's about much more than that. The cast is awesome, including two of my favorite Brits: Rufus Sewell, who caught my eye in Middlemarch years ago, and Matthew Macfadyen, Mr. Darcy from the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice.

I never read the book but now I will definitely read the sequel, World Without End, and hope it is also made as a TV series.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

New wall art

One of my favorite stores is Paper Source. I am pretty lucky that there is one fairly close (20 minute drive) and every couple of months I stop by to see what new stuff they have.

Their gift wrap selection is awesome, but I don't buy it to wrap presents. I buy their gift wrap to frame and hang up around my house. This is the latest sheet I've bought and it's hanging in my bathroom.
It goes with the warm yellow walls and is cheerful and spring-y.

Before the holidays I had this one in the bathroom, and this one hangs on my side of the bedroom. They were out last time I was there, but this world map is coming home with me next time it's in stock, we're going to start tracking places we've been ;D

For less than $4, it's a total bargain.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Well Preserved

Well Preserved is the title of an awesome book I got a couple of weeks ago - I am so excited to try some of the recipes! It's all about preserving food, which is something fairly new to me. I have made fruit jam and frozen lots of stuff but am new to canning/dehydrating.

The author is pretty no-nonsense, there is no pretentious bullshit, the recipes look yummy and the preserving instructions crystal-clear. It's a really good book if you want to try your hand at preserving food in small quantities.

One I mean to try as soon as the main ingredient is available is the Cherries in Wine recipe - for every preserving recipe there are three recipes on how to use your newly preserved item. Did that make sense? For example, you get a Cherries in Wine preserving recipe, then recipes for Cherry Tenderloin, Seared Duck Breast with Cherries, and Cherries in Wine Soup with Mascarpone. Yum.

Between this book and my newly acquired dehydrator, I think we are going to have some very happy bellies this year!

Monday, January 24, 2011

My first award!

The fabulous and always-stylish Carinae L'Etoile has graciously bestowed on me my first award! I'm so verklempt!

The Stylish Blogger Award Rules

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award.

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers.

4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!

Seven Things About Myself

1 - I feel woefully understocked in my nail polish collection compared to Ms. L'Etoile. Really. Go visit her and you'll see what I mean.

2 - I have pared down my daily cosmetic ritual to three products. It's what makes me ready to go out the door without frightening children.

3 - I'm turning 40 this year and I am having a real style turning corner moment.

4 - I need to lose about 30 lbs.

5 - I fondly remember my college days with Ms. L'Etoile, us all in black, wearing MAC Veruschka or some blood red colored lipstick. Ah, my Latin Goth days.

6 - My son's class all singing their Months of the Year song always makes me laugh - it's the "Decembeeeeeeeeer" part that cracks me up.

7 - I'm trying to tilt our family's eating habits towards a 70/30 vegetarian to meat/based meals ratio.

Awarding the Stylish Blogger Award to:

Style your Life - Jen rocks with real life, affordable styling tips.
Everyday Makeup with Becky - Gorgeous makeup tutorials and tips.
Kevin & Amanda - Still envious of her craft room!
Little Miss Momma - Love this girl, so real and honest!
The English Organizer - Because organization is at the base of a stylish woman's closet.
Knock Off Decor - Because style doesn't ahve to cost $$$.
Le Chateau des Fleurs - Her posts make me smile, so lovely and whimsical.
Absolutely Ladylike - Beautiful images, beautiful words.
La Petite Plume - Gorgeously decadent stationery.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

More Sunday reading!

This time I'm linking up my little Valentine-themed mantel.

I made the little mantel cloth from some remnants from JoAnn's and leftover brown fabric I pleated for a pretty edge.

I've kept my mantel pretty simple, some pictures on the sides of my "loves" and a picture from our honeymoon in the center. Target has these seasonal frames for $4.99 and I wish I'd gotten more of the black ones, but I love the pretty red heart one.

A crystal dish on the left for Valentine Hershey kisses and a red candle on the right, and pretty candlesticks with red candles on the ends.

That's my Valentine mantel linked up at The Stories of A to Z!

Sunday Reading!

Read some of the best posts-of-the-week at Serenity Now!

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Friday, January 21, 2011

Kitchen shelves

My lovely husband got me some kitchen shelves a couple of months ago - I love them!

However, in the last couple of weeks the shelves became somewhat of a dump area:
I mean, honestly, 4 different bottles of Melatonin? We give it nightly to my youngest, and it's the best spot to store it, but FOUR BOTTLES?

There were also assorted baggies of candy from birthday parties, condiment packets all over both shelves, and endless junk that got put there for no good reason.

I took everything down, gave the shelves a good clean, then decided to tighten the focus a little.

Instead of random cookbooks, I chose a few I mean to use in the next few weeks. This way, I can rotate cookbooks and try new recipes for my family.

I put away all the Melatonin bottles except one, and all the condiment packets went inside a recipe box. The cookbook on the upper right was given to me by my mother-in-law. I love the cheerful yellow, which also repeats in the adorable ramekins and the beignet mix box on the upper left. I left a few items I want to incorporate in our meals in the next weeks, like beignets (yum!), a crepe mix tin, and a garlic aioli mustard sauce I got at Trader Joe's. This way, these new-to-us items don't get put in the pantry, never to be seen again.

I love how my shelves look now, a lot less cluttered and I have items I want to try right there, so I can't forget about them!

I'm joining this kitchen clean up to Traci's Kitchen Clean Up Linky Party at Beneath My Heart!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Favorite Outfit: warm, cozy, and plum

Okay, I'm going to keep it real here because I couldn't find any of the actual items I own, so these are the closest I could find on Polyvore, or anywhere online, actually.

The main piece here is the cardigan. Mine is a shade lighter (I was inspired after seeing this post from Kevin and Amanda) and it's as comfy as a hoodie but dressier. It is so comfy and the moment I put it on I want to make some tea and watch Gosford Park.

I am lucky that both my sister and my mom love to knit and crochet, so I have hats and scarves galore. With this light plum cardie I like to wear a dark pink t-shirt, with black and gray accessories.

Easy peasy, comfy enough for errands but stylish enough for, uh, the red carpet. Hmmm, maybe not. But stylish enough that I don't want to hide when doing the school run :D

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

On dinnerware

When my husband and I got married, we did not register for china. We're not the china sort, plus both my mother and his gave us china when we first moved in together. In the time we've been together we've had his green-trimmed dinnerware to see us through.


While the green trim is lovely, we've started to lose pieces here and there, mostly due to the kidlets. A couple of dishes are chipped, also due to the kidlets. Having hosted holidays for a couple of years now, it is clear we simply do not have enough service for everyone.

Bit by bit, I would like to add some dinnerware. Given my love for all things fleur-de-lys, I would LOVE these from Anthropologie, but the price is way too scary.

Then I ran into these at Walmart:
I know, Walmart is evil, bla bla bla, but this is $35 for a 16 piece set (4 of each in the photo) vs. $16 FOR ONE DINNER PLATE from Anthropologie.

I can build a set of dinnerware that can see me through everyday and my guests through the holidays little by little. Just hope they don't discontinue them before I get all the ones I need :D

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Seed money

I sold some old stuff I had laying around and now I have my little veggie garden fund ready to go!

Aside from the goodness we can find at our local nurseries, there are some items I will probably need to order online:
Peruvian purple potatoes. Can't wait to try these. We are setting aside a corner of our yard for our potatoes and these are definitely on the list.

Rocoto, a Peruvian hot pepper, is on the list as well, it can be made into a chili paste or also served stuffed.

Other items on the list are our tried-and-true favorites: zucchini, swiss chard, green beans, tomatoes, bok choy, lettuces, etc.

This year I am canning and drying tomatoes, so we are ordering a few different varieties and see which work best. I will also be drying many of my pears and making a ton of plum jam like last year. I hope to get a water bath canner to be able to process it to store without refrigeration, but if not, I will still make a bunch and freeze for later use.

I am so excited about my garden this year, and feeding my family lovely homegrown produce!

Monday, January 17, 2011

My mercurial model

I was told that if I wanted a photo of my oldest with the jammies I made him, it would only be with him standing on the back of the sofa.

Only 5 years old and already making demands like J.Lo, I tell you!
I just bought some flannel - it was super cheap at JoAnn - so I'm going to be making some fitted sheets and more jammies for my sweet boys.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Warm neutrality

I love looking through people's homes, mostly when their sense of color is different from mine. I love cottage chic dining rooms, crisp and clean bedrooms, soothing blue and white living rooms. I love seeing how people put their visions together and seeing how the details are more often what pull it all into a cohesive look.

For me, it's all about warmth, coziness, and the way I see that is through color. Our home palette is full of yellows, both butter and butternut colored, warm reds, honey-toned wood and a trim color in our kitchen/dining room called Peanut Butter :D

Here are some more warm neutrals inspiration pics - all from Martha Stewart:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Jammies with appliqued initial

My oldest boy went through a serious elephant phase a couple of years ago, and even though dinosaurs are now his thing, he still has a soft spot for elephants. I had bought some soft flannel fabric to make him blankets, but now that he's left behind footy pajamas, I figured I'd make him some two piece jammies.

A couple of months ago I made him a gray set - gray/cream elephant print pants and I cut out his first initial out of a scrap of fabric left and sewed it onto a plain gray t-shirt. He loved it, my mother-in-law loved it, and my mother even thought I had bought it somewhere.

Out came another elephant fabric blanket for the transformation. Here are the steps I have followed - mom taught me how to get a elastic-waist pants pattern from a regular pair of pants.
Start out with a regular (not elastic waist) pair of pants.

Take one of the legs and pull it inside out.

Cut out the applique in the shape of your choice. Lucky for me, both my boys' names start with A :D

Stitch applique onto shirt. I use a zigzag stitch and do all the edges twice.

My boy is pretty psyched to wear these, but he needs to stop jumping around while watching Godzilla so I can snap a good pic :D

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Inspiration: Pottery Barn

Ah, Pottery Barn, one of the leaders in home goods inspiration, and I mean *just* inspiration because their shit is too fucking expensive for this mama's wallet.

But inspire they do, and isn't that the best? To see something that makes little sparks go off in our brain because we just KNOW that we can make something like it for far less moolah.

Check out this pretty pillow:
I know the colors would look great on my burgundy sofa, but would I pay $29 for it? Hell no!

Or these darling distressed lanterns:
I'm even more distressed because there's no way I'm paying $49 to $99 bucks for one of those! I have my eye on a couple of cheapo lanterns that I plan on painting white and faux-distressing.

However, I do have to stop, put my hands up and cry Uncle when it comes to their bedding:
I want this shit - I mean, these sheets - so bad, they're perfect for my neutral-toned master bedroom. I love paisley motifs more than floral Laura Ashley type stuff, and let's face it, I can't exactly go out and make my own sheet set for less than the $99 a queen set of these would cost me.

It might just have to be a splurge later on, because these babies are calling to me. "Come buy us! We're soft and cozy and go with your lovely neutral-toned bedroom!"

Orissa Paisley Sheet Set, I got my eye on you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

When you find a good thing . . .

get it in as many colors as you can!

I swear I would be in trouble if Target made these jeans in more than TWO washes, but since they have only the two, I will admit that I broke down and bought the medium wash a couple of weeks ago.
I already had the dark wash and they were my favorite jeans ever, but with spring coming a lighter wash was needed and welcome.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Favorite Outfit

Here's a very autumn-y outfit I love, but swap out the t-shirt and scarf and it could easily be more spring-y.

I like to keep things simple, clean lines in my basics, and then add a little glam with accessories. I got the bag a couple of months ago and I love it. It's a metallic but so neutral I can wear it with anything, really. And it was under $25. Awesome.

I am also very fortunate that both my mom and my sister are prolific scarf knitters, so I have quite the array. Neither the boots nor the scarf are exactly what I have, but they are close enough.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A time for tears, a time for laughs

After commemorating my dear dad's birthday yesterday I figured I was due for some levity. Here are some of my favorite YouTube videos, hopefully they make you laugh too!

Some of these are NSFW, so watch with caution :D

Natalie Raps
The Guru - Chori Chori
Lullaby by Stephen Lynch
Jim & Pam's Wedding
Karen Walker does Circus Music
Nail Salon by Anjelah Johnson


Friday, January 7, 2011

My daddy

My darling dad passed away on July 3, 2010. Officially, he died on July 6, but that is just the date when the machines were unplugged. He was gone on the 3rd, after his third - and fatal - heart attack. They were able to fix his heart and get it going again, but his brain was without oxygen for too long and that, my father was unable to overcome.

Dad and I had our rough times, but after my firstborn arrived we agreed that we wouldn't ever let others' bullshit get in the way of our relationship, and that we'd talk everything out. He was a doting and proud grandfather and loved my boys dearly. He was always looking out for something new to get them, or making sure he had foods he liked at home for when we visited.

This is the last photo I have of me and my dad, taken a few months before he died. Today would have been his 77th birthday. We would probably have taken him out for dinner or brought dinner over to his place.

I miss you so much, dad, every day I think of you and the times we shared. I'm sure someday we'll see each other again. Until then, I hope you are proud of me and my boys.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Girl Crush: Blake Lively

I just love Blake Lively. No offense to Nikki Reed, but if *I* had been in charge of casting Rosalie in the Twilight movies, I would have chosen Blake to play her. Please, the most beautiful creature on the planet? Easy choice. Nikki is a sexy, gorgeous brunette, but Catherine Hardwicke fucked up the casting big time and now in the movies, Rosalie looks like a bitch with a bad dye job.

ANYWAY, onto my girl Blake - she was just named the face of Chanel Mademoiselle handbags. Here she is with the Kaiser himself, Karl Lagerfeld:
Her smile is so sparkling and sweet, she might be a bitch from hell for all I know but come on, anyone who makes cupcakes can't be all that bad.

And no, I don't want Gossip Girl. I don't have time. But I do love Blake. Or as I call her, my Rosalie.

Okay, that was creepy even for me.

Bathroom tales

In 2009 I decided to paint out main bathroom (as opposed to the master bathroom) - the walls were white, the toilet (obviously) and tub were white, the cabinet was an ugly dark brown and the hideous banjo-shaped counter was a groovy faux marble white/cream monstrosity.

Much to my husband's chagrin, I chose a very colorful butternut squash-y rich yellow-orange called Chamois, by Ralph Lauren.
I love it. It is warm and cozy and wonderful for those mornings when you wake up feeling like hell and you need something more than a nasty white wall behind you as you look in the mirror.

I also changed the curtain to something more neutral than baby elephants and bought a curtain rod in an oil-rubbed bronze finish to continue the rich, warm tones idea.

In 2011, a more extensive update to the bathroom is going to be a necessity. The flooring was not well done and there is damage that needs to be repaired. Also, my children's baths have caused further damage, I am sure, and although we were hoping to wait until they were over their lengthy baths, I don't think that's happening any time soon.

So, flooring needs to be done, and also we can finally be rid of the nasty banjo counter and dark cabinet. The cabinet itself is in good shape, so I am thinking a good sanding and painting would do it a world of good. Thing is, I can't make up my mind. Should I go for it and paint it white in order to lighten up the room? Or go the opposite way and go for a rich dark brown, not the nasty orange-y brown it is now. The medicine cabinet would be painted to match and the toilet lid would be changed.

We do have a bit of time before I figure it out. Right now we have a (ha ha) nature theme in our bathroom, with a framed Cavallini print on one wall, so I thought the aviary shower curtain would be a cute addition. If not, something very neutral, as I like to change the decor regularly.

The bathroom area, aside from the tub, is 5x5, so it's quite small. In a way, that's a good thing because we have a smaller space to purchase flooring for. This is a very rough draft of what I'm thinking for our bathroom:

What do you think? Ideas? Suggestions?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Getting the blues

My mom gave me a gorgeous peacoat for Christmas. I love it, it fits wonderfully, and it's blue. Huh?

Other than jeans, I rarely do blue, and I never do gray, which I associate with blue. I guess because I love black and burgundy too much, and recently started my tan/neutral/chocolate obsession, so that's what I have been focusing on, but I've started to think of lovely outfits to top off with my new blue coat.

Now I can't wait. In fact, I'm probably going to throw the thing on tonight, even if I have nowhere to go.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Favorite Outfits

I'm starting a series here of some of my favorite outfits - both to share my finds with you guys and also to remind myself of options I have on those mornings when I think I have nothing to wear.

This first one is pretty basic; I am a busy mom with two young boys and the time before the school run is limited. I try my best to not look like I just dragged my sorry carcass out of bed, so if there's time I do add a cute hat, or a pin, or at least some pretty lip gloss.

As I mentioned in my favorites page, I puffy heart LOVE these jeans. I have the dark wash, because I never find the medium wash in the store, but I might have to just order it because these really are fab jeans. The hoodie is comfy and cozy for cold mornings, but unlike my other hoodies, this one is a little more form fitting. A small detail, but makes me look a bit more pulled together. The boots give me a little more height and style. 'nuff said :D