Friday, September 28, 2007

Petticoat is in the mail!

I made money last month by selling two pairs of shoes on eBay. So thanks to that deposit of money in my Paypal account I was able to order my red petticoat two days ago.

I was able to buy something without spending any money. See how I do that? Money I don't see and that doesn't show on my bank balance as a negative when I spend it, is FREE MONEY to me.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Still need portable water?

An update to my post on bottled water:

Here is a comparison of the reusable water bottles available out there by Slate magazine (found via notmartha).

Reusable water bottles you'll actually want to use.

I'm thinking Platypus. How about you?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Maybe, just one more...

The weather is still warm and I don't think the heat is gone for the year so...

I might try one more summer piece. In fact, it's the only project I actually planned for THIS year, all the others were leftovers from years before.

I laid out the fabric today and am straightening the grain right now. It should be a quick sew, at least let us hope so.

I do NOT want to be finishing this next summer!

fabric and tortoise shell buckle, JCaroline Creative.

SHELTER - Study in Do-It-Yourself Decor

Snapshotradio's pictures on Flickr caught my eye over a year ago. This picture, of her sunny blue dining room, in particular. The sense of light is amazing. Going through her other pictures, I noticed that her personal taste and love of color was visible in every corner and vignette. So many of the things that caught my eye turned out to be projects that she had done herself.

Since then, she and her husband have changed apartments and all of those details and projects came with them. Instead of buying all new things for the new place, furniture and objects were reused or revamped. Below is a pretty comprehensive account of the different projects that she and her husband have taken on to make wherever they live into a home.

What was your biggest influence in choosing your current décor?

My biggest influence in my current décor, or any décor, is nature. Our flat is very open, has many big windows with simple window treatments overlooking these old and beautiful trees. We also live near a body of water, which makes a lovely view. I’ve tried to make our space feel very organic, like an extension of the natural world outside our windows.

What specific difficulties did you have when decorating your space?

There are probably a few things I could say here. For instance, because it’s a rental there is only so much I’m allowed/or want to do with the space. I don’t really want to (nor have the means to) invest a lot financially because I know we won’t be here forever. My goal was to create a comfortable and inexpensive space that reflected the overall location and feel of the flat, while at the same time incorporating my own style. Because we’re still moving around a lot, for the more expensive pieces (i.e. larger pieces of furniture) I want to make sure that whatever I buy at the time will transition well to any space. That’s sometimes hard to do, what works for one space may not work for another. I think I’m getting better about purchasing more versatile and timeless pieces that reflect my style. I find that the lack of investment that comes with renting makes me feel a little freer to experiment and be creative.

What has been the most expensive change you have made to your space?

We recently purchased a new sofa. I had been trying forever to find a second-hand sofa I liked, but wasn’t having any luck. So we found a futon-like sofa from Urban Outfitters. I love the mid-century look of the sofa.

What has been the least expensive, yet most influential change you have made to your space?
It’s a tie between our window treatments (bought at Restore – a Habitat for Humanity home store) and painting a few of our rooms. When we moved in the entire flat was painted various shades of yellow (and one deep red room). I like yellow but we decided to take a few rooms and make them a little softer – this let a lot of light in and really gave the space a more open feeling.

Have you done any of the décor yourself (DIY)?

Why yes I have… One of my absolute favorite things to do is buy second-hand or find things on the side of the street and fix them up. If I had it my way I would make everything myself: furniture, textiles, etc! Unfortunately, I don’t have those skills just yet, so when I find something already out there that I can play around with and make my own, I do that!

What exactly did you do?

A lot! For instance, I put together a side-table with a paint-chip mosaic top. I spotted the idea in an issue of Readymade magazine. I picked up a ton of paint-chip samples from Home Depot, trimmed the edges, and used double-sided tape to stick them to the surface of the IKEA side table. I purchased the glass top from a local glass dealer. I used this same idea for another side table in our current apartment. We purchased a small table from Pier 1, and I found the plain already glass topped surface a little bland. To remedy this, I cut out a square of Pop Ink paper and laid it on the bare surface to create a brighter more appealing tabletop.

I love to use paint to transform pieces including store bought or found furniture, and home accessories such as teak bowls, candlestick holders, and picture frames.

Painted furniture remakes include a birch IKEA sideboard we purchased on sale. We repainted it with white milk paint and replaced the IKEA knobs with mismatched knobs from Anthropologie. Milk paint
* has been used for a few pieces in addition to the IKEA sideboard.

I used Marigold milk paint to revamp an old bookshelf given to my husband from his great aunt. Milk paint in Slate was also used on a plant stand we found on the side of the road, as well as the wood trim on an IKEA chalkboard.

White spray paint is one of my favorite things to have around the house. The white mirror hanging above the sideboard was an awful gold color. So I spray-painted it matte white. The white candlestick holder sitting atop the sideboard was another awful gold project, also spray painted white. My inspiration for the candlestick came from Jonathan Adler’s designs. White spray paint was also used to transform a drab chair I purchased at a thrift store, as well as a small side table, which had been thrown out by our neighbors.

My latest spray-paint projects are the six small 4x4 thrifted mirrors hanging above our appliances in the kitchen. I used blue and white spray paint, along with pearly white nail polish (it was handy at the time), around the wood trim of the mirrors.

More wall accessories include a section of wall dedicated to various fabrics displayed in embroidery hoops. The swatch portrait idea is courtesy of the Purl Bee and can be found here.


I’ve used fabric to cover a canvas or two. I’ve also used it in the more conventional way – to reupholster furniture. I found a vintage Costco stool at a local Goodwill and recovered the seat with Mexican oilcloth purchased at a garage sale.

I’ve made several pillows. The two floral pillows on our sofa were made from the fabric of a thrifted dress.*In addition, I have made a few curtains. One set of curtains, which currently hang in my husband’s office, was originally a bed cover from Urban Outfitters. I simply cut it in half and hemmed the edges to create a pair of curtains. My husband built a day bed-bench for my office. He also built and painted a plant stand. We make a pretty good team together.

What changes have you made that make you feel the most proud?

I feel most proud of giving new life to second-hand or throw away pieces. It may sound a little naïve, but sometimes I get a little overwhelmed when I think of all the “stuff” out there in the world. So much stuff or junk out there has real potential to be turned in to something useful and beautiful again. It is a satisfying feeling to take something that most people might throw out or never bring into their home in the first place, and turned it in to something that looks good and makes our living space better.

If you received $1,000 that you could only spend on your home, what would you do with the money?

A part of me wants to say I would use it to buy something off my “neat things” wists list. Another part of me wants to say I would use it as a flea market fund. But I’m also wondering if purchasing fabric, paints, and other supplies for DIY home stuff counts as home use only. If so – maybe I would set a little aside for a bit of all of the above!

What do you plan to do next in your space?
I'm planning to repaint my office/sewing room (probably a shade of white). I'm also going to put up some prints of ocean plant life that I found on the Internet and placed on foam core board, (which is an inexpensive alternative to framing). I would also like to add one more piece of furniture - a bench. I've been scouring thrift stores and yard sales for an affordable bench I like, but haven't had any luck yet - so my husband and I may just go ahead and build a simple bench. Finally, I'm sure I will continue with various sewing projects for our living space; such as wall organizers, pillows, tea towels, oven mitts and pot holders to name a few.

What kind of homes do you most admire or lust after?

I most admire homes with character, and homes that really reflect a person’s individual style, and not simply the trends of the moment.

How different is your grown-up style from the place in which you grew up?

My childhood home was on a hill in the country – surrounded by open sky and small ponds. My parents designed the home. My mom is a huge fan of antiquing and DIY. She also loves to garden, so we had gorgeous landscaping. She’s always put a lot of her own personal style into her living space, and really made our home feel comfortable. I think I’ve been influenced a lot by my mom’s approach to design, my childhood home, and the surrounding land where I grew up. At the same time, I feel like my “grown-up style” is somewhat more modern, a little less country, and a lot more influenced by urban living and small spaces.

Do you think your décor matches your personal style and do you think it represents who you are?

My personal [style] is tremendously economical, somewhat fanciful, and most of all comfortable. I would say my [home] does indeed match my personal style in these aspects. I do think these things represent who I am in the sense that I am laid back yet organized and tidy, a spendthrift, and always getting lost in my imagination. I also consider my style to reflect who I am and where I am at this moment in my life.

* Milk paint is a chemically free green alternative to latex or oil paint. In a cool coincidence, the same company she used features my friend Andy Buck's studio furniture on their site.
** She used the top part of the dress to make a shirt.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Sewing fool am I

I have actually been sewing clothes. After a long procrastination period, I am finishing up projects I started long ago.

First, this dress, the "Target" McCall's 5042, is officially done. There were a few fitting problems* but they were my fault since I lost a lot of weight this summer. The cause was probably stress. A new job will hopefully remedy that. And in the meantime, I will be buying a petticoat to puff it up a bit and maybe a belt will help too?

Do you notice the matching wristlet bag? I probably will only wear them together when I'm feeling really kitschy, however, I do have enough fabric for a headband.

I am working on this retro pattern from 1966, McCall's 8251. It just needs to be hemmed. I looked forward to making this pattern thinking it was simple and I could whip out dresses and tops all summer long. However, I'm having fitting problems with this. It just seems so big. The sleeves were way longer than pictured and I had to cut off 2 inches. After easing the sleeves in, they are actually puffy. The boatneck is just too wide. If I have to I will use a broach to pin a pleat at the throat. I promise next time I sew anything where fit is a major part of its design, I will make a muslin. I'm just an impatient sewer.

front back

For a refreshingly quick project, I followed this tutorial I saw on Whipup and made a cute pencil skirt out of a pair of pants that no longer fit my individual thighs. Now it fits perfectly and you would never know it was once a pair of creased pants. I wish I had taken a before shot and I can't find the identical black pair that I thought I still had.

*You can't see how I have no waist because of my ace modeling job.
**See my new shoes above? They're Crocs...yes, Crocs. These are the Alice maryjanes and I love them!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Past job highlights: Meeting Galliano!

I am applying for jobs in event planning again after a break of three years. I was so burnt out I thought I would never do it again, which was a shame since I loved it and was great at it (probably because I loved it). A post on Casapinka reminded me of one of the great experiences I had in that phase of my career. This one was a doozy.

A couple of year ago, when I was in public relations, I worked a big fundraising event in New York for a very worthwhile charity involving women and microfinance. Surprisingly, Vogue magazine contacted us to arrange a table for Anna Wintour and guests! You have no idea how giddy this made me. No one else in the office was as impressed though.

So working at the sign-in table with about 10 young DC women, I was the only person who recognized the designer John Galliano,(!) when he arrived. Now if you have seen him before you know that a lot (well, most) times he looks like a strung-out street junkie. Well, he did not disappoint that night either. He wore a VERY loosely woven macramé vest, calf-length khaki pants and April! In fact, even I would say that combination of his extreme tan, smarmy Dali-like mustache, eyeliner, and his waist-length uncombed hair, gave him the look of a person who probably smelled bad. He, however, was escorted by the incredibly gorgeous and classy Anh Duong.

I have a magazine spread on her from 10 years ago in one of my fashion scrapbooks and she looked exactly the same!

At sign-in, I had almost missed them. I arrived just in time to see some of the girls look around as if they had no idea what to do next. They could not find his seat arrangements. (I've always had the feeling that they were not even trying, instead thinking he was a gatecrasher because of his appearance.) That's when I came to the rescue. Seriously.

I walked up to table, found their packets immediately, welcomed them, handed them their materials, and wished them a great evening, all without ever consulting the guest list or asking "the girls" what the problem was. The "girls" probably hated me but they were making the company look bad. I could tell from the look on his face that he thought they were idiots. I don't remember getting a thank you from either guest, but that doesn't matter. I still say I met J. Galliano and Anh Duong and that I made part of their evening better.

I sure showed up those DC chicks who had been trying to change my sign-in system from the minute they got there. I guess I showed them that it wasn't the system's problem, didn't I?

Of course, I spent the rest of the evening explaining to all the organization higher-ups who Galliano was too. If only I could have instructed everyone working the event to stop making that face when looking at him. I was probably the only person who treated him with respect the whole night, and that event was supposed to be a benefit. He probably did not give a dime. Would you blame him?*

*Actually I would, but it wouldn't make as good of a story.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Handmade photo journal tutorial

I subscribe to Photojojo, a site that finds "the very best photo tips, DIY projects and gear". They come up with cool projects you can make with your photos or direct you to cool photo manipulation software out there on the Web.

Today I received an email about making personal photo journals. As soon as I saw the picture I recognized these journals as coming from five and a half. The owner/artist Judy Lee has produced an easy tutorial showing how to make these on Photojojo. You can view the video here.

five and a half maintains a blog along with their online store.

What I'm looking at today...

Vera Wang's new collection at Kohl's. It's really impressive, clothing, shoes, lingerie, and bedding. My only question is why so dark, Vera? The color palette shown on the website seems to be only black, white, gray, brown. Though if you check individual pieces there are some livelier color choices like purple, teal blue, and pink.

Emily's easy recipe for Rosemary and Olive Oil bread. Check out that close up of the crumbly, buttery-looking crust. Yum!

Inside the Paley Center panel discussions. Unscripted discussions from casts of some of the best shows on television at The Paley Center of Media, FKA the Museum of Television and Radio. Excerpts are from shows such as Lost, 30 Rock, Brothers & Sisters, House, and Grey's Anatomy, etc.

I'm inspired by this decor8 post. I like the lamp shades decorated with what looks like children's art. I know one little artist (The Julia*) that could decorate her new baby sister's nursery in a really cool way (or maybe I'll just get a lampshade for me!) Ha! When I saw her drawings I was originally thinking possible pillows but now...

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Alabama Chanin

I recently discovered artist Natalie Chanin in a Domino magazine profile. Her lifestyle-focused company, Alabama Chanin, creates limited-edition artisan created clothing, home furnishings, and jewelry from new, organic, and recycled materials. Natalie still resides in her small hometown of Florence, AL and all of her company's creation and manufacturing is done with local artists in Florence. Such an enterprise is sustainable for the local economy and very admirable.

Since her items are artisan-produced, the prices are understandably pricey. However, Ms. Chanin offers instructions for some projects, such as these appliqué t-shirt designs, on her website.

The sections on her website for Tips and Treats supply you with a list of books that have inspired her work and recipes that have been enjoyed by her family and friends.

Natalie is also publishing a home sewing book, Alabama Stitch Book, due next spring.

Bonus: Her earlier venture, Project Alabama's Spring 2006 clothing line!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Big Brother is watching you now...

Okay, I couldn't take it anymore.

Since no one wants to comment on this blog I had to put a Sitemeter counter down at the bottom. This way I can at least see that someone (besides me!) is reading this thing.

Well, I HOPE that is what I will find out.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Traveling Girl - I Had No Idea!

Due to personal vacations and past work assignments I have visited 22 states in the U.S. or 43% of the country. I would never have guessed that many. Wow!

It's quite obvious that meeting and seminar attendees prefer going somewhere warm because the North has pretty much been ignored. Let's see what I can do with those states in the next phase of my career.

Create your own visited states map.

Monday, September 03, 2007

What I'm doing on Labor Day:

  • Hemming this dress finally!!!

  • Easing in the sleeve for this vintage top.
  • Reading chapters 1 & 2 of my historic preservation textbook. I have a writing assignment due Wednesday night.
  • Watching the first season of Ricky Gervais' Extras. (YAY! Netflix!)