Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thrifty Thursday: Thrifty Disasters - Dresses

It's time to show off some recent Thrifty Disasters. This time, the theme is Dresses.

The seam straight down the front made me LOL.

First up, this little number, which seemed to be made from parachute material. I actually really liked the skirt's construction, but it felt like a trash bag against my skin. The sleeves are just magnificent - they're made from a totally different fabric, and are a clashing shade of red.

The really amazing thing about this dress is how stretchy the material was. Think spandex. 

See how crooked those buttons are? Not good.
I wanted this one to work so badly, but it was a nightmare. The seams were crooked, the lining rode-up, and the velvet was itchy. Believe it or not, it's from BCBG.

Adorable, right?


Written commentary is irrelevant; my face says it all.

Sassy little Mod number.
I very nearly took this one home. But it was made of WOOL, and after about 30 seconds I thought I might pass out. Fabrics are tres important.

The next one shall henceforth be known as The One That Got Away:

What a tease.

UUGH, just look at it, hanging there, taunting me! My heart skipped a beat when I saw it. The lace! The slightly ruched sleeves! The delicate lining! But when I tried to put it on, I couldn't even get it over my shoulders. Curse you, fabric with no stretch! If this were a cotton blend from Target, it would have fit like a dream. Sadly, not all dresses were meant to be. Hopefully, some seven year-old found this and wears it to church.


Now I resemble said seven year-old. I considered - for a half-second - getting it so I'd have something to wear when working on messy crafts, but then I was like, "HOW TWEE," so I didn't.

Voila! Fashion disasters can happen to anyone - nothing to be ashamed of. Just make sure you snap some pictures when you're the victim so you can laugh at yourself later.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wordy Wednesday: Are You Ready to Get Inspired?

I'm a big fan of - specifically, the lists. Every day, they publish 2 or 3 on varying topics - pop culture, science, history, etc. They are always funny, and (without exception) fascinating. For a humor website, they're oddly informative. 

A couple days ago, I stumbled across this article, and it really hit home for me. The title is a little off-putting ("Why would I want to read about 6 harsh things?") but give it a chance. You want to read it because you want to be a useful person. You really do. 

I started this project to feel useful; I was tired of feeling lazy and boring. Since leaving college, I've worked a lot in my chosen field, but I've also bounced around between day jobs. I generally don't make much money, and sometimes the things I do to earn an income don't feel very fulfilling. Teaching is very useful, but I'm not truly trained to teach - some days I'm so terrified of screwing-up those kids that I just want to have a panic attack under my bed. 

But that wouldn't help anyone - least of all, me. So instead, I decided to make something. I forget sometimes that I can do that - that I'm a person with a brain and a lot of time, and when you combine those ingredients with an idea, you can create something out of nothing. I love personal style blogs, and I've secretly always wanted my own, so why not make one?

For a while, I kept the project a secret. I was afraid of people rolling their eyes. "Does the world need another blog?" I don't know, probably not. But the world doesn't need a lot of things - that doesn't mean it isn't nice to have them. Blogging is perhaps a little stupid (the word "blog" certainly is), but I'd rather make something dumb than not make anything at all. Snapping photos with my phone and writing entries is more productive than playing Tetris on Facebook. 

It's also much more fulfilling. I didn't realize it until today, but the nagging voice in the back of my brain (The "What are you going to do with your life?") voice is gone. At least, for now. It might come back up, but for the time being I'm content. I have something to look forward to every day - I have a project that won't close in three weeks, like the amazing show I'm doing.

You know, that might be part of my old malaise. My career lacks consistency - and so so my day jobs. In a world of constant juggling, this URL is a bit of consistency. It's a project that can last as long as I want it to. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Red Sauce with Butter and Onion

No one knows why we do the things we do. Human nature is a mystery, at best. So often, we'll know what needs to be done, but for whatever reason we don't take action. I can't explain why I make these decisions - I just know that I am imperfect.

I will never know why I avoided making this pasta sauce for so long. There was no good reason for the delay, no purpose for it. It's the easiest recipe there is, but still, I put it off. On Saturday, I finally gathered the meager 3 ingredients and stewed them up. And I'm furious with myself for waiting. I first read about this sauce two years ago, and that's two years of my life I can never get back.

Don't ever buy premade red sauce again. Just don't. Make this instead.

Recipe from the greatest cooking blog of them all, smitten kitchen.


  • Can of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
  • 5 tbs butter
  • 1 yellow onion
  • Peel the onion and slice it in half.
  • Put the tomatoes, onion, and butter in a 3 qt. saucepan.
  • Heat on medium until it simmers.
  • Lower heat and let simmer for about an hour.
  • Crush the tomatoes against the side of the pot. If some of the onion gets pulverized, that's okay.
  • Remove the rest of the onion and set aside. It tastes great on sandwiches, so don't just chuck it.
  • Try not to eat the whole batch directly out of the pan. It tastes even better on pasta - trust me.

When I first tasted the sauce, it didn't seem quite right - definitely not the red sauce I'm accustomed to. But I licked the spoon clean. And then I took another spoonful. And another. Pretty soon I wanted to puree the whole thing into soup and just forget that it's supposed to be sauce - but that'll have to wait til next time.

To quote, I dunno, somebody, this stuff will make you want to slap your grandma. Instead, give her the recipe. Once she tastes it, she'll slap herself for not thinking of it first. 

After you've licked your bowl clean, put the remainder in a mason jar and store it in the fridge. In a couple days, boil some adorable music note pasta and enjoy it all over again.

In other news, no one has tried the Sprout Challenge yet, and I'm a little heartbroken. Guys, what gives? Remember how I said I would wait patiently? That was a lie - I'm never patient.  Get to it!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Make-it-Mondays: The Set-up 2 - This Time it's Personal

Remember last week's sewing machine disaster? Well it's a good thing I posted about it because my mom reads my blog, and she's the one who bought the sewing machine, and she was like, "No bobbins?" Because there were supposed to be some in the box. 

Here are all the other things that were supposed to be included, but were not:

  • Buttonhole Foot
  • Button Sewing Foot
  • Pack of Needles
  • Bobbins (Class 15)
  • Thread Spool Cap
  • Darning Plate
  • L-Screwdriver
  • Seam Ripper/Lint Brush
Somebody tried to play me for a fool! And this gal don't suffer fools! 

So I marched myself back to my parent's house, got the receipt, and I exchanged the crap out of it! Got myself an identical machine - one that came with everything promised by the manufacturer! 

That's how I roll!

This morning, I got that sucker locked and loaded. 

And it was hard

I'll spare you the bitter details, but it was a long and frustrating process. Curse words were slung, booklets were hurled, and lots of thread was wasted. I read the manuals, looked at the diagrams, and was totally perplexed. Finally, I turned to the only logical source: YouTube. 

Until further notice, NORDIC SINGER is my new best friend. You can all resume your lives. 

Finally, the threads looked like this, and I was ready to play. 

The machine has twenty-seven programmed stitches, so I practiced a few.

Then I rewarded myself with Supernatural

Always dignified.
Now that I can use my sewing machine, my biggest problem is deciding which project to tackle first. The table runner? Hemming the prairie dress? The world is my oyster!

And Jared Padalenemecki is the pearl.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fashionable Friday: Kris Kross

This sweater has been a closet staple since my freshman year of college. That's six years, for those playing at home. And if I may say so, that's really impressive for a Mossimo sweater from Target. 

Isn't it sweet? I usually don't go for the gamine look, since I'm not an actual piece of straw, but I was feeling a little spunky, so I decided to play Audrey Hepburn for the night. Black top, black skinny jeans, and black ballet flats. 

I have a secret, though: 

I'm wearing the sweater backwards

Guys, this is about as rebellious as I get. Is that sad, or what? No motorcycles or tattoos for me - just wearing things the wrong way.

But then again, is there a wrong way? It's just fabric - why should it be restricted by the label, or the original intention? A few years ago, I saw this post on What I Wore, and it blew my mind. That skirt she's wearing? It's a dress! It's magic - suddenly, one garment becomes two! It's like giving your closet a power-up. 

Maybe next week I'll wear a dress as a skirt! 

Or pants as a hat! 

Or a hat as pants!

When you look beyond an item's intended use, you can unlock hidden potential within your wardrobe. Suddenly, you gain a new set of resources - without spending a penny. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to turn my shoes into earmuffs.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thrifty Thursday: Thrifting Tips - Look at Everything

So you want to pinch your pennies, but you're afraid of thrift stores. How do you shop cheap without looking it? 

If you want to find something worthwhile at Goodwill, you will have to search for it. For me the local Salvation Army is a Store Of Adventures. But if you have to take half a Xanex before going into Ross, you may want to avoid the jumble. Thrifting isn't hard, but it does take finesse, and a lot of patience.

First off, it's best not to look for anything too specific at a secondhand store. If you go in looking for a Yellow Peasant Blouse, you'll probably be disappointed. Instead, keep an open mind. What could you use more of? Dresses? Skirts? Tops? When I walk into a thrift store, I head to the section I'm looking to boost (skirts, jeans, dresses), I start at the front, and then I look at every. single. item. All of them. Generally, there is no organization in these places - forget S, M, and L racks. Even if a thrift store claims to have sizing sections, they are probably all messed-up. 

Also, thrifted items are usually inexpensive, so if you find something in a fabric you adore, you might want to get it even if it doesn't fit. Sometimes I'll buy an ill-fitting dress and use the fabric to make a hair bow or a throw pillow. 

I found this a few months back, and though it hangs on me like a sack, I'm excited to alter it, or use it for scrap. 

The moral of this post, and my first official Thrifting Tip: Look at Everything.

Oh, and just in case you haven't heard it yet, here's the best song ever written (NSFW):

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wordy Wednesdays: The Happy Homemaker

(SYLVIE stands at a stove, slowly stirring a pot of tomato sauce. MARYLYNN sits at her dining room table, sipping a glass of wine.)


I can't believe you're wearing an apron. My eyes are still adjusting to it.

It's crazy, right?

Yeah, a touch. It looks like you're playing dress-up.

I kind of am. Only, I never take the costume off. Do you know I've been cleaning this place like a madwoman?

On purpose?

Daily. I check my e-mails, write out reports, and whenever I have a little down time I'm scrubbing a toilet or wiping a counter.

If you'd done that in college, our apartment wouldn't have been so horrible.

You were a slob back then, too!

I'm still a slob! God, I can't believe you broke rank - you're a Clean Person now!

It's so weird! But I can't help it - I'm here all day long, and I just can't stand to look at everything all messy. It makes my skin crawl.

How do you have time to work and clean?

Not commuting helps. But honestly, I don't know. It just kind of happens.

I'd say, "show me your ways," but then again, I don't care. Mac does all the cleaning at our place, and that's fine by me. You know, he actually likes to clean. Says it's therapeutic. Isn't that gross?

It's a little pathological.

Last week I tried to clean a dish, and he begged me to leave it in the sink. Said he had a hard day at work, and he wanted to pretend the pesto was his boss's adult acne while he ripped it off his face. (SYLVIE snort-laughs over the stove.) I'm serious - that's a direct quote. He might be a serial killer. Whatever, as long as he wipes-up the blood, I'm cool. So you like working from home?

Yeah, but sometimes I forget that's what I'm doing here all day. Isn't that weird?

How do you forget work?

I don't know. I just sit in my office, typing and sending things off, and it might be work, or it might just be...working from home is just different. The deadlines are there and everything, but I feel so removed from it all.

I don't see how that's possible. I could never, ever pretend to enjoy my work. Uugh, you're so lucky.

(Nods in agreement) I won't argue that. (She spoons out some sauce and takes a quick taste) Ooh! Yes! Here, try.

(She hands the spoon to MARYLYNN, who takes a tiny sip.)

Oh holy God. (She slurps the rest of it up, and licks the spoon) Sweet heaven, what's in that??

Secrets. Badly-kept family secrets, courtesy of the internet.

I would eat that stuff plain - no pasta necessary.

If I had an immersion blender, I'd whip it right into soup - skip the middleman.

Maybe that's what I should get you for your birthday?

Nah, don't bother.

Why not?

That's a whole month away - who knows if I'll still be all..."domestic" by then.

Whatdya mean? You're gonna stop being June Cleaver?

I mean, probably. I'm not very good at sticking to things.

(Snort laughs) Since when?

Since, like, ever. I'm a little fickle. I go through cycles.

Doesn't everyone? And fickle? YOU? You've had your job for six years - you wear clothes you owned in high school -

Yeah, a few things. But I can't seem to make anything else stick. Hobbies, crafts, exercise plans. They always fall away.

Did you like all that stuff?

For a while, yeah.

But then you got bored of it all?

Yeah, and I just gave up.

Maybe it wasn't for you. Maybe you stopped caring because you didn't really like that stuff to begin with. Do you like wearing an apron and making amazing tomato sauces from scratch?

Yeah - it's great.

So then maybe this'll stick. This might just be YOUR hobby.


That's why you're my best friend.

I'm only yours for the food.

(SYLVIE serves the sauce over pasta. It's amazing. She keeps cooking, but the cleaning goes to pieces over time. It's okay - she doesn't live in squalor or anything.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Feasting with a High School Friend

I've known my friend Austin for ten years, which seems impossible. If I can count on him for anything, it's for ridiculous escapades and laughing until I cry (fine, two things). We hung out last week (with the Very Excellent Boyfriend in tow), and when our dinner plans fell through, we decided to improvise.

After a frenzied run through Kroger, we had the following:

  • A DiGiorno pizza
  • A bucket of Neopolitan ice cream
  • Heath magic shell syrup
  • Smuckers carmel syrup
  • Nonpareil sprinkles
  • A&W root beer
  • Zebra cakes
  • A bag of brussel sprouts

I mean, you gotta have your veggies.

And since movies are to dinner as peanut butter is to jelly, we threw on a DVD (The Emperor's New Groove) and got to cooking.

The Zebra cakes were our appetizer. I had one bite, because pre-packaged snack cakes give me crippling headaches. I rarely had them as a child, so I have little appreciation for their flavors.

I've never been a big fan of DiGiorno, but I was very impressed with the one we bought. It was really a pan of breadsticks covered in cheese and sauce, and if you think that sounds delicious, then we should be friends. We added our own (mini) pepperoni, baked it for 16 minutes (because the recommended cooking time was 15 to 17), and ate them with the accompanying packets of marinara and garlic sauce. The next time I want to eat junk food, it will be one of these.

Stay back, pup.

For a mid-movie snack, we had roasted brussel sprouts. This is Austin's recipe, and it was so rock-simple that I expect ALL of you readers to make them. I'm serious - this is the easiest dish in the world, and I want to know how you like it. So go to Kroger, buy some sprouts, and follow these steps:


  • Bag of brussel sprouts (or about 1 lb)
  • Olive oil
  • Spices - salt, pepper, garlic, grill seasoning, WHATEVER

  • Put the sprouts in a bowl
  • Drizzle a tablespoon or two of olive oil over them
  • Shake in some salt, pepper, garlic, Mrs. Dash, cayenne pepper, WHATEVER. You can add just about anything. We used salt, pepper, garlic, and grill seasoning.
  • Toss the sprouts around in the bowl - get them coated in oil and spices
  • Pour the sprouts onto a baking sheet
  • Stick the sheet in the oven at 400 degrees
  • Remove after 30 minutes

The outside layer of leaves will probably be brown and crispy - and that's exactly how they should be. Austin stuck some toothpicks in them, and we ate them like fancy hors d'oeuvres.

Then we paused the movie right here

And made ice cream sundaes.

I had forgotten that the first step to magic shell is to shake it FOREVER.

Singing and shaking

My arms got tired

He is so Very Excellent

We also made root beer floats.

Turns out that getting a little strawberry ice cream in your float is totally fine - quite good, actually.

After the movie, Very Excellent and I went home - much fatter and happier than we had left it. And that, my dears, is the correct way to eat yourself sick. It's also the perfect recipe for an evening spent with an old friend.

Now, don't think I forgot about the challenge I issued earlier. I never forget. Those Brussel sprouts could NOT be easier to make. So make 'em! Have a Tasty Tuesday of your own, or cook them this weekend for someone special. When you do, send me a picture and your review - I want to get your thoughts on the recipe. When I get your stuff, I'll feature it here so everyone else can get the benefit of your experience. E-mail it all to me at I patiently await your feedback.