Monday, July 25, 2011

Things I Love: I Enjoy Being a Girl (or Summer Beauty Favorites)

1. Vichy Dermablend makeup: I've become obsessed with Lisa Eldridge's make-up videos lately - girl is a capital-P Professional! One of my favorites is this amazing video, where she basically real-life Photoshops away a model's acne. I've had acne issues on and off for the past three years (as teenager, nothing; I hit 23 and all of the sudden, it's zit central on my jaw bone) and this video was so amazing that I had to buy the magic makeup Ms. Eldridge used. I just got it last week and I'm in love - it works just as well as it does in the video.
2. "That Gal" makeup primer: I love Benefit cosmetics. Every item I've tried from them has become a favorite. I ordered a sampler that included That Gal makeup primer, PoreFessional primer, and Stay Don't Stray eyemake primer and already know that I can't go without That Gal. Not only does it smooth over any dry spots, it adds a bit of brightness. My makeup goes on so much better now.
3. Sephora foundation brush #47: Really love how soft this is, as well as how small it is. It makes it easy to get smooth coverage. Plus, makeup brushes are fun.
4. Kiehl's lip balm, coconut flavor: Best lip balm ever, no contest. Instead of constantly applying it throughout the day, I only need to use it 2-3 times a day. It's magic.
5. "Hello, Flawless!" powder foundation: The name pretty much says it. Another Benefit product I love to bits. And combined with That Gal primer, it doesn't look powdery or cakey at all.
6. Kate Spade Twirl perfume: a fresh summery scent. I haven't bought new perfume in awhile, so it's nice to have something to switch between from my standard Daisy (though I will never get rid of Daisy, it's my absolute favorite ever).
7. High Beam highlighter: The last Benefit product on my list, but one of my all-time favorites. It's good for days when I don't want to wear much makeup: a bit on the cheekbones and a bit on the browbone brightens up my complexion enough that I don't look tired. It's pretty great stuff.
8. Bumble and bumble Surf Spray: LOVE this stuff! It's meant to give you wavy "beach hair," but it also makes your hair a bit matte, so it covers up second (or third) day grease. It also gives my super-straight hair texture. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Shopping Local, pt. 1: Of Dust, Steele, and Nurses in Foreign Lands

Ages ago, I mentioned Books of Yesterday, a used book store in Logan that I love dearly. I attempted to describe the stacks and stacks of the printed word that live there, but didn't provide any pictures. Fortunately, I had the afternoon off last Thursday and decided to spend it in the basement of my favorite local book shop.
This is the tower of books sitting in an "employees only" area of the basement (I've never seen an employee down there, so felt safe taking a picture). They seem to be books on their way out - even the amount of books headed to the recycling bin is kind of amazing.

The section that always transfixes me. How can there be so many Harlequins? How can there be so many sub-categories of Harlequins? How can I possibly find the most hilarious covers when there are several thousand to go through? It blows my mind to bits.
This is the shelf I concentrated on most - it had the most vintage Harlequin covers. Lots of nurses in foreign lands. A surprising amount of nurses in foreign lands. Nearly every other book about nurses in foreign lands.
A collage depicting my contempt for Danielle Steele: this is the reason the lowest Cover Judging grade awarded is called the Steele Pendant. Not only do these covers display no originality, their sheer volume (three very full shelves) indicate how much "Danielle Steele" cares for her writing. The cover's color may change, but I doubt the stories do (although, as previously noted, I've never once read any of the books I feature in Cover Judging).

This is the front quarter of the basement - it's quite long and narrow (and fittingly, the horror section is placed in the poorly-lit corner at the very end). Even with pictures, it's hard to display the magnitude of this place. It's seriously crazy. In the best possible way, obvs.
And less you think I wasted all my time in the romance section, I came home with The Complete Book of Sewing, copyright 1943! Along with about ten 1960s Harlequins, but that hardly matters, right?

**Update: I just found this video that shows parts of the top floor (sadly, no basement).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

June Photo Challenge: Bad habits, trucks, and sunsets

This week's most challenging was the bad habit picture: I'd thought I might buy a bunch of candy and photograph it, but then I'd end up eating all of it; I couldn't figure out how to show my nose-scrunching to adjust glasses habit. It took me until 10:30 to decide on zit-picking, a not-at-all gross picture.

The one I like best is the childhood memory picture of the library. It's not the world's best picture (it's pretty boring, actually), but ever since I've applied to grad school, I've realized how much I was affected by all those childhood library trips. All of the library books I read as a kid led me to being the dorky English major I was in college and the librarian-in-training I hope to be soon. Cheesy, but true. :)

London calling

On September 26th of this year, I will finally fulfill a life-long wish:

I'm going to London!! I've wanted to visit England ever since I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as a kid. It's only been worse since - I graduated in English Lit, for crying in the mud!

My dream of seeing London finally reached its tipping point when I watched Sherlock the other week (a great series, you should watch it). It's a modern-day version of the Sherlock Holmes stories and it's shot mostly on location in London. The city looks pretty amazing in the show and I finally decided: I've got vacation hours, I've got cash, I'm going!

One of my good friends, who lived in London for awhile, is going with me and I'm so beyond excited. My list so far includes the London Eye (because you have to do at least one cheesy touristy thing), Platform 9 3/4 (for nerd's sake), and an afternoon in Portobello Road. We're also going to make a pilgrimage up to Dublin to pay homage to the James Joyce statue. Those are our plans so far - if you have anywhere we must visit, please let me know. In the meantime, I will be counting down the days!

Monday, June 6, 2011

June Photo Challenge: A Study in Sandals, Sprite, and Dead Birds

Something about White Peach Photography's 30-day Photo Challenge struck my fancy. I'm not one for such challenges, normally (I fail at all sew-alongs and dislike the idea of swearing off shopping for a month or whatever), but one photo a day for a month? I can do that.

The most difficult so far was day 5, a photo from a high angle; I couldn't think of any interesting high angles, so I went with the bridge over the canal. My favorite so far is my brother and the Mexican Sprite from the "something green" day, although my opinion may be swayed by the delicious real-sugar Sprite.

I may do another of these posts. If not, you can follow along on my Flikr account.
xo, M

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My continuing conflict with footwear (alternately: A love letter to my Chacos)

As I discussed in my surprisingly detailed essay on boots, I have a complicated relationship with shoes. I love them, of course, but it's hard to find the right pair. Now that spring is nearly here (fingers crossed), I've been evaluating my shoes yet again: hashed pair of Top-Siders I wear nearly every day, aging Chacos dying to be worn again, black Keds that I can't give up, a few pairs of colorful flats. I need to change things up:
Clockwise from top right: ASOS bow flip-flops, Topshop canvas tie flats, Topshop peep toe flats, Chaco Local Ecotread, Sperry Top-Sider 2-Eye, Birkenstock Bali, Topshop straw woven sandals

I tend to wear my shoes, especially my summer shoes, to the bitter end. And I have a bizarre sense of brand loyalty once I find the right pair. You'll notice this little collage contains Top-Siders, Chacos, and Birkenstocks, all of which are brands I love and own/have owned before.

Since I bought my first pair of Chacos, you'll rarely find me in anything else during the summer. I'm anti-flip-flop, but a huge proponent of Chacs: wear them with jeans, wear them with dresses, wear them hiking... Call me granola all you want, but I love my Chacos. I've had them for nearly five years, though, and as hard as it is to say goodbye, it's time for a new pair. I'm thinking of making a change from the waterproof nylon straps to the similarly designed, but nicer leather straps. But oddly, I feel a bit weird about that: shouldn't the point be that I can rinse my Chacs off with a hose after I wear them to First Dam? Am I weirded out because the leather Chacs are more grown-up? Shouldn't the citizens of Cache Valley lobby for a more creatively-named dam system? And why do shoes always seem to bring out my more thoughtful side?

Will I buy the leather Chacos? Or will I remain comfortably strapped into my beloved college student, been-through-everything pair? Stay tuned to find out.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A semi-comprehensive catalogue of clothing similar to Bridgit Mendler's in Lemonade Mouth

Someone asked me for help in finding reasonable facsimiles of Bridgit Mendler's outfits in Lemonade Mouth, a style I admired a few days ago. Always willing to help (especially after work, when all I want to do is stare at the computer screen for awhile), I perused several "cheap chic" retailers (H&M, forever21, Urban Outfitters, and Topshop) and came up with the following:

Cooperative sweetheart neckline dress
$59 -
Forever21 empire waist dress
$16 -
H m cardigan
15 GBP -
TopShop knit cardigan
$64 -
Forever21 crochet vest
$18 -
TopShop full skirt
$70 -
Forever21 stretchy bracelet
$6.80 -
Forever21 stretchy bracelet
$6.80 -
TopShop white bracelet
$25 -
Heart shaped necklace
$17 -

Hope that helps some!
xoxo, Maren

Sunday, May 1, 2011

TV Style/Review: Dresscue Me

I'm not sure how I stumbled across Dresscue Me - it's pretty deep cable (channel 286 on directv) and at first glance, it doesn't seem to fit with the other shows on Planet Green. A vintage fashion reality show on the same network as Whale Wars and various renovation shows?

But Dresscue Me establishes its place in the Planet Green ethos early on in the episode, Shareen Mitchell, owner and designer for Shareen Vintage, is doing a collection of upcycled "bat-wing tops" (a phrase that is repeated endlessly), made from those crinkly Indian-print skirts everyone wore in the 90s. To fill the order, Shareen and an assistant visit this mountain of discarded clothing:
This scene really illustrates the green aspect of vintage dressing and the finished product shows how creativity can help eliminate all that wasted clothing.
Not my style, but I know a lot of girls who would love it.
The time we spend in the shop make up the best parts of the episode. Shareen Mitchell, whose LA-ness made my eyes roll a bit, is nevertheless very talented at matching the girl to the dress. The dress try-on parts of the episode really won me over.
Shareen Vintage has its celebrity clients (Nylon tells me that Kirsten Dunst shops there) and I was so excited to see Cat Deeley on my TV! I do miss her in between SYTYCD seasons. There's a charming dress try-on sequence with lots of Cat laughing joyously and ooo-ing over the fab dresses. We even get to see her try on a dress she wore on the show last season!
The other client highlighted in the episode was a gal who was going to be in a wedding party. Shareen finds a GORGEOUS 50s seafoam-green wiggle dress that the girl loves. Shareen Vintage alters the dress and when the girl comes to pick it up, she brings her friend...who ruins everything. It's interesting to watch the girl deflate as her friend stares at the dress and dismisses it as "" She tries several other dresses that the friend dislikes and Shareen diagnoses the problem: "Do you wear vintage?" "No." And it all makes sense - to a lot of people, wearing vintage will always look either overdone or costume. Sometimes it's hard out there for a vintage-loving girl (she ended up looking cute in a tropical floral dress).
 Unfortunately, the reality show construct just can't help itself and we're treated to a few "Shareen is the fashion boss from hell" scenes before the fashion line launch party. I wish this trope would go away: everyone gets stressed at their job, especially when they have a big event or project. Just because this person's job is in fashion does not automatically make them Miranda Priestley!

Beside that nod to reality tv, Dresscue Me is an enjoyable way to spend a half hour in the afternoon. More vintage dress fashion show, please!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pattern re-write: Simplicity 2250 lining

Pattern instructions are quite inscrutable sometimes. Often, looking at the diagrams works better than deciphering the instructions. Before I started sewing this last dress, I checked out pattern reviews to see if there were any tricks to it. Of the eight reviews, five mentioned problems with the lining; most just scrapped it and left the interlining as is.

So, for my pattern reviewing friends and any others who want to make Simplicity 2250, a brief lining tutorial:
*Note: I found the lining pattern was a bit short, so I added 2" to the bottom of each piece.

1. Pin straps to the front of the bodice. This ensures they won't get caught in the stitching accidentally (I'm not the only one who's done something like that, right?)

2. Flip over the casing so the raw edges are on the top. You'll only need a few pins to help it stay put.

3. Right sides together, line up bodice and lining. Make sure to match the centers! Stitch along seam allowance.

4. Optional - To top-stitch the lining, just turn your lining to the inside, keeping the main bodice pressed out. Stitch just below the new seam using small stitches.

And you're done! This is a pretty common lining technique - I used it on another dress, attaching the lining to the neckband facing. I have to say, I love linings - they make the finished garment feel so luxe and it just looks so professional. So happy linings to you, friends, til we meet again!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Dress Tuesday: Simplicity 2250

It's done!  I've been working on this dress off and on for about a month - I just haven't had much time for sewing, but I had to finish because I'm dying to wear this dress!
I fell in love with this Cynthia Rowley pattern as soon as I saw it and I was so excited when the fabric came in the mail.  It's from Mood and it's perfect: kind of 60s, but kind of modern pixel-y and the prettiest salmon color.  I really like it with this pattern - I think it works with all the tucks and pleats in the bodice.

The bodice is a bit tricky as far as fitting goes.  There are about three darts on each side, each in a different length.  I had a hard time adjusting it down to fit, but it ended up fitting pretty well.  Definitely make a muslin of the bodice if you want to try this pattern!

The bodice has an interlining and a lining as well - I used a coordinating china silk and I love the finished look it gives the dress.  The pattern instructions for the lining aren't well-written, so I'm going to do a tutorial for it, if you're interested in making this dress.
Also, I used horsehair braid on the hem!  I've been wanting to try it since I read Gertie's tutorial and I love the effect on a fullish skirt like this.  The skirt is a gathered and pleated rectangle skirt, so the horsehair braid really helps the skirt "float" instead of just hang.  I'm really happy with the way the whole dress turned out - I've already worn it twice and can't wait to wear it again!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Today is the first warmish, "springy" day we've had all year - a perfect Easter Sunday. I went to my parent's ward this morning - I really enjoyed the talks in church today and it was fun to see both my parents in the choir (yes, my mom finally succeeded in getting Dad to join the choir!).

I have to say, though, the lack of Easter bonnets was a bit of a disappointment. In my day as a Primary girl, we got fancied up on Easter! Here is me and my sister, Easter 1988:
I was a terrible ham when I was a kid (and, okay, I still am).

I don't remember this outfit, but I'm loving my dress. Gingham with a strawberry half-pinafore? Yes, please!  I love my sister's dress, too, with it's ice cream colors and tiny embroidered ice cream cone.  And, of course, most importantly, we are wearing hats!  Here we are, two years later:
Here, Amy (3) and I (5) are demonstrating that we are sooooooo big.
This is the Easter outfit I remember most: frilly and pastel with a fancy purse. I loved my Easter purse - it was the one time in the whole year that I got to bring crayons to church! (Even though I loved my pretty yellow purse, I was secretly jealous that my sister got the pink one!)

Hope your Easter was wonderful and filled with family, happiness, and love!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

TV Style: Lemonade Mouth

I am not above the Disney Channel.  I know I'm too old for it, but I will watch Wizards of Waverly Place like an obsessed 12-year-old.  Also, Disney Channel Original Movies.

Both places are were I found myself loving the way they dress Bridgit Mendler, a dimpled cutie-pie Disney Channel blonde.  I even bought a skirt similar to one she wore in Wizards of Waverly Place. I am 26 years old.
However, I did not buy the wings or vampire teeth.
In the newest Disney Channel Original Movie, Lemonade Mouth, I decided I covet her outfits.  They are so super-girly cute, in a dress-with-cowboy-boots kind of way.  Observe:

This was my favorite outfit from the movie.

 Seriously, super-cute, right? Is it wrong that I'm totally in love with the fashion on a Disney Channel Original Movie?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Book Report: The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets

I wouldn't be me if I wasn't drawn in by this cover: give me girls in colorful 50s gowns and gloves, telling secrets as the title suggests and I'm there!

And while the cover fits, there's a lot more to The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets than fashion and gossip.  Set in 1950s England, it's about being part of the generation that were only children when the war ended.  Our narrator, Penelope Wallace, is young, "six foot with my shoes on," and lives with her beautiful mother and teddy boy brother in a grand house that fell into disrepair during the war.  Penelope is level-headed and somewhat unadventurous, but like many teenage girls, she's obsessed with the singer Johnnie Ray.

After a chance invitation to tea at a bus stop, Penelope befriends the spunky Charlotte Ferris and Pen's quiet life changes for good.  Charlotte is outgoing, spirited, and totally loveable; the girls share a love of Johnnie Ray and quickly become best friends.  Charlotte introduces Penelope to her cousin Harry.  Soon after their meeting, Penelope finds herself agreeing to accompany Harry to a party to make his ex-girlfriend jealous.  But will their friendship remain just friendship?

The book focuses on Penelope's family, also, which I found lovely.  After a dreaded "duck supper," Penelope and her brother Inigo learn that the family is broke and that their ancient, grand house, Magna, won't be restored to it's former grandeur.  Their young mother, married at 17 and a widow at 23, hesitates to even speak to another man (even a charming and handsome American who's very interested and very rich!).  Inigo, her little brother, is getting in trouble at boarding school for listening to rock and roll on the radio; after receiving a record from his American uncle, Inigo cultivates a growing obsession with a new American singer, Elvis Presley, and hopes to make his living as a musician.

That's about the full cast (though I neglected to mention the fabulous Aunt Clare, Harry's mother).  There are so many things to like about the plot, which has a sweet romance, but also focuses on Penelope and Charlotte's best friendship and the Wallace family's struggles living in Magna.  Much of the book is about the changes in post-war England: Charlotte plans on designing and selling clothes in her own shop, Inigo wants to move to America to become a musician, Mrs. Wallace overcomes her resistance to Americans, and Penelope is allowed to fall for someone who isn't rich.

It's a simple book and a quick read, but there's a lot to think about and enjoy inside.  If you're looking for a sweet book with a little romance, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is a great choice!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

That's what you get for making whoopie (pie)!

I'm an unashamed Top Chef lover - I even watch the Masters seasons.  More to the point, I watched the horror show that was Top Chef Just Desserts without diminishing my love for this series.  TC: Just Desserts was the kind of high emotional drama that TC: Original Recipe avoids.  Just Desserts left me with a greater appreciation for the original series and with a deep curiosity about "whoopie pies".

I had to google whoopie pie, which turns out to be what I know as "homemade Oreos," surely a Utah-phenism* - see post title for possible scandal.

*Other dessert-related Utah-phenism: Better Than [Robert Redford] Cake

I found a really straightforward recipe on the Omnomicon blog - it was perfect for this last Sunday, when we didn't have much in the house.  All you need are the basics: flour, cocoa, shortening (loads of shortening), milk, ect. 

I learned that it really helps if you have one of those neat-o cookie scooper things.  Otherwise, your cookies turn out like this:

HUGE!  They ended up being about 3-4" in diameter, instead of a dainty 1.5"!  To solve the size issue, I used a small glass as a guide and cut each cookie individually.
This is my scary "I have a knife!" face
The creme filling is crazy - half cup margarine, half cup shortening!  Some other things, too, but holy fattening delicious.
Yes, ladies, he's single!  My little brother, who helped with the cookie batter.

Finished product: turned out pretty yummy, but I only got through one - they are RICH!  I'll make them again, but only after I get a cookie scooper gadget thing.