one dress, three ways (part three)

hello, friends!
welcome to day three of my fun little series! i actually haven't officially worn this particular outfit yet, but it's only a matter of time (which, hopefully will be sooner than later). i think gray, navy and brown are the single most wonderful color combination. they're not too matchy but they still look fresh and pulled together.

i spent the majority of this little photo shoot sweating my butt off, by the way. beyond ready for fall! i love how this dress will transition really easily. i may even try it out with some colored tights and a heavier blazer come late fall.

hopefully you've enjoyed my attempts at mixing up my closet - playing with pieces is beyond fun for me! and special thanks to my mom for playing photographer and helping make these posts possible.

also, if you use your imagination in this last photograph, it kind of looks like fall a little bit. hooray!

dress: self-made
sweater: goodwill
belt: thrift store
boots: steve madden via macy's
necklace: anthropologie (gift)
watch: men's pulsar
bag: h&m


one dress, three ways (part two)

over the last several months, i've had the awesome opportunity to do some volunteer work at our local chamber of commerce, which has been really fun. it's great to feel like i'm contributing to something, to stay engaged in the community and to wear pretty, professional clothes instead of comfortable, stretchy clothes every day of the week. i'm beyond ready to have a job again, so it's been really great to work a little, even if there isn't a paycheck involved.

so, i wore outfit number two to the chamber a few weeks ago, and i love the way it came out. it was one of those days right after all the intense heat and humidity that wasn't so bad, and i felt breezy and pretty. it was inspired by the original atlantic-pacific outfit, and as fall hits, i plan to wear it with a trench as well.

blazer: goodwill
shoes: kohls via goodwil
clutch: 0.50 at a thrift store
necklaces: antique store, american eagle, yard sale
bracelets: forever 21
watch: men's merona from target

see you tomorrow for the third and final look!


one dress, three ways (part one)

back in july, i saw this outfit on atlantic-pacific and was immediately smitten with the blue and white striped dress. the dress itself (from asos) was more than i wanted to pay, but so, so cool. i figured i could probably make something similar, so i set out to the fabric store and found this vogue pattern. it is a bit different than the original inspiration, but i love it. i unfortunately couldn't find fabric exactly like i wanted (who knew stripes were so hard to track down!?), but i found a fairly similar striped print at mary jo's fabric in gastonia (a fabric mecca for all you sewers and crafters out there) and set to work.

 this was my first time sewing something on my own, without my mom's expert sewing help. i kept her around for questions and to make sure i was doing things correctly, but i'm proud to say that with only a few minor meltdowns, i made this pretty little dress all by myself! the pattern was relatively simple, although, i will say the skirt is a full circle of fabric (which was a lot to deal with), and the bodice is fully lined. i altered it a bit to make the ties double-sided (originally they were just supposed to be hemmed, but i thought that would look ugly) and i used fusible interfacing instead of the sew-on stuff, which is so much simpler. i sewed a size 10 (i always sew a size or two above my regular dress size to allow for changes if needed) and it was pretty spot-on with a few minor seam allowance adjustments for fit.

one of things i love about this dress is its versatility. i purposefully made the dress longer than the original asos one a)because i wanted to layer it up for work in the future (assuming i actually get a job someday) and b)because the high waist and fullness of the skirt made the dress look overly sweet and  juvenile when i pinned it up higher. i've already worn it several different ways, and grabbed some photos of three separate looks to share. i love easy, machine washable dresses that can be fancy, casual, or professional with the right styling.

so anyway, look one is rather simple. which is what i prefer when it is 100 degrees outside. this dress requires no bra (hooray!) and looks super with a flat pair of sandals or my tall espadrilles.  it's so easy and pulled together and i seriously can't stop wearing it....

dress: self-made (pattern: $3.99 on sale at hancock fabric, fabric and supplies: ~$30.00)
shoes: target
straw tote: talbots via goodwill
earrings: rugged warehouse
bracelets: forever 21, jcrew via piccolo antique mall, yard sale
watch: men's pulsar

definitely stay tuned the rest of this week for looks two and three!!!

side note... this dress also looks fairly awesome with a mustache. i'm just saying.


summer in the blue ridge

a few weeks ago. mom and i took a day trip up to blowing rock. it's a place we've been going since i was a child and it's just idyllic. beautiful boutiques, amazing views, and, thankfully, cooler temperatures. we started the day with coffee and muffins at kojay cafe, shopped in town, took a walk around the lake with the tiniest and cutest baby ducklings ever, checked out the original mast general store in valle crucis, stopped off at the moses cone estate and then hit the road home. we topped off the day with a visit to goodwill in lenoir and combos at arbys (i'm embarassed to admit how much i love it there). it was a pretty perfect day and i had fun taking a few photos on the trip...


from russia with love

oh my goodness. i opened my mailbox an hour or so ago and literally gasped in excitement - the jcrew fall catalog is here! and it wasn't just the prospect of delicious styling and italian car coats that made me giddy with excitement; it was the gorgeous cashmere-clad ballerinas staring back at me on the cover! i 'm so smitten! ballerinas still captivate me in the same way they did when i was a girl. they are the epitome of grace and beauty and i still want to be one when i grow up.

in case you're interested, the catalog was shot at the renowned yakobson and mariinsky companies (home to greats like mikhail baryshnikov, who, if you're not into ballet also played carrie bradshaw's artist boyfriend aleksandr petrovsky in the final episodes of sex and the city) in st. petersburg, russia.

if no one else, jcrew sure knows how to sell me a cashmere sweater. and perhaps a tutu, if those are for sale?

all images via jcrew


let us eat cake

yesterday was my mom's birthday. in case you haven't noticed, i get really excited about birthdays. i like celebrating mine, i like celebrating others', i like eating birthday cake. i think this quote, though, really captures why i love them so much...

"birthdays need to be celebrated. i think it is more important to celebrate a birthday than a successful exam, promotion, or a victory. because to celebrate a birthday means to to say to someone: 'thank you for being you.' celebrating a birthday is exalting life and being glad for it. on a birthday we do not say: 'thanks for what you did, or said, or accomplished.' no, we say: 'thank you for being born and being among us.' on birthdays we celebrate the present. we do not complain about what happened or speculate about what will happen, but we lift someone up and let everyone say: 'we love you.'

i know a friend who, on his birthday, is picked up by his friends, carried to the bathroom, and thrown clothes and all into a full tub of water. everyone eagerly awaits his birthday, even he himself. i have no idea where this tradition came from, but to be lifted up and 're-baptized' seems like a good way to have your life celebrated. we are made aware that although we have to keep our feet on the ground, we are created to reach to the heavens, and that, although we easily get dirty, we can always be washed clean again and our life given a new start.

celebrating a birthday reminds us of the goodness of life, and in this spirit we really need to celebrate people's birthdays every day, by showing gratitude, kindness, forgiveness, gentleness, and affection. these are ways of saying: 'it's good that you are alive; it's good that you are walking with me on this earth. let's be glad and rejoice. this is the day that God has made for us to be and be together.'"

- henri j.m. nouwen, here and now: living in the spirit

(birthday banner made by me!)

that said, i tend to get a little carried away with birthday plans and celebrations. and, as cake is my favorite food, birthday cakes. i've never attempted to make a tiered cake before, but i figured three layers can't be that much more difficult than the standard two. i also like mini things, and given that my stove is mini, i figured a mini tiered cake was exactly what mom wanted for her special day. i have no photos of the process, but the finished product exceeded my expectations immensely...

here's what i did:
- mixed up one box of duncan hines classic white cake mix. (i honestly think cake mix is easier and doesn't taste any different than made-from-scratch cake. i've made a lot of both, and sometimes cake mix is even better.)
- chose three small ramekins/pyrex bowls in ascending sizes, greased, and added batter.
- disassembled my smoke alarm when the extra-small ramekin overflowed in the oven.
- cooled cakes overnight, first on a cooling rack, then in the fridge. (i think this part is important - they would have fallen apart much more easily if they weren't cold.)
- used dental floss to shave off the domed top of each cake, so that each layer was completely flat-topped.
- used dental floss to split each mini layer into two smaller layers, for a total of six layers (if you don't know about the dental floss trick, check it out here. it's magical.)
- spread seedless raspberry preserves inside new the layers i cut, and whipped cake icing (also store bought - making icing seemed like too much work - i used three cans) between the full layers. i like using preserves in multi-layer cakes. it prevents icing overkill (if that's even possible) and really adds some flavor/moisture. lemon curd is also super. 
- inserted 2 wooden grilling skewers into the full stacked cake to prevent layers from sliding.
- used my pampered chef easy accent decorator (and various other random kitchen items) to frost completed cake.

annnnnddddd done!

happy birthday, mom!

what i learned:
- next time i will choose more pronounced cake layer sizes. they were each so similar in size/width, i had to get pretty creative with the icing to make it look tiered. it sort of started out looking more like this:

- icing a cake in a hot kitchen in the summer is decidedly frustrating. next time i will make sure to take more breaks to chill the icing to keep it from sliding around so much.
- the cake went further than expected - i'd say it had about six small servings in it.

so, happy birthday, mom! i love you and thank you for sharing your mini tiered cake with me! (i already finished all of my leftovers.)

images: 1.weheartit  2.google


mad men

can we just talk about how much i l-o-v-e the new mad men collection at banana republic? i dress with a lot of 50's and 60's-era influence anyway, but oh my goodness. it's like they captured all of my favorite classic/signature looks in one collection! i already have virtually all of these silhouettes and styles in my closet. and, the colors and fabrics are making me so excited about fall, i can hardly stand it!

and while i have to admit i've never seen the show (i don't have cable), i think christina hendricks is one of the most beautiful women in hollywood. she's 36 and a natural blonde, both of which i find hard to believe. i think she is so much sexier than other actresses who are overly skinny, overly tanned and overly fake. doesn't this dress look exactly like something she'd wear?

this tie-neck blouse is my favorite thing in the collection. i love the look above with the black skirt and booties - i actually have a banana skirt that looks remarkably similar (from the goodwill, of course) so i'll have to try to recreate this look this fall.

and, while we're at it, i'm also loving the liquid eyeliner cat-eye and red lipstick look. i'm a little afraid of liquid eyeliner, but i may have to give this a try. i've been rocking a very similar bun/french twist updo lately, so why not add the make-up?

christina hendricks image via thecitrusreport. all other images via bananarepublic


green thumb

i should probably preface this post with a little bit of honesty. the flowers about which i'll be bragging today no longer look this good. the past two weeks of crippling temperatures nearly killed/did kill some of them. i'm hoping they'll hang on until mum season, but it's touch and go at this point.

that said, however, i'm remarkably thrilled with the fact that they've lasted this long. and it's not like i can control 100+ degree temperatures (although watering them more might have helped, which i can control). i don't really posses any shade of a green thumb, nor do i particularly enjoy tending plants and flowers. i generally find myself sweaty, dirty, and covered in mosquito bites. but this summer, my flowers have actually been pretty. and green. and leafy. and so naturally i'm fairly proud of myself...

window boxes include lantana (middle) and portulaca. i've grown these the past two years, and they generally do really well in the hot sun.  

my proudest achievement. i know it doesn't look like much, but i actually tilled up this area in my backyard, added soil and planted two types of zinnia seeds. and they GREW. (some weeds grew, too, as you can see.) i'm pretty sure that's never happened before. they've been growing taller for quite a while now, but i'm beginning to wonder if they're ever going to bloom. if they do, you'll be the first to know.

zinnias and basil, which is currently out. of. control. i can't cut it or cook with it fast enough.


more zinnias and cilantro. unfortunately, the cilantro didn't make it. my salsas will never be the same. the cute small pot and bird stand, by the way, are a score from the mighty dollar. 

it's possible i may have gotten carried away with the zinnias? 

hopefully, someday i will live somewhere cooler and i can enjoy gardening a bit more than i currently do. until then, i'm glad i only have a small porch, two window boxes and a tiny backyard garden to contend with!