Wednesday, August 31, 2011

21 Day Challenge, Day 17: Repair It and Wear It

Day 17: Repair it and wear it

Today we were enjoined to take something out of our mending piles, fix it, and wear it. I have a pair of pants that have wax on them from Holy Week (ahem, 2010) and my plan was to clean those up and wear them. But I couldn't find them. I had recently pulled them out of the pile and left them on the guest bed in the hopes of spurring me to take action on. Currently the guest bed is disassembled and leaning against the wall as part of our remodeling upheaval, so clearly they are no longer there. I poked around a bit, but there are all kinds of bags and boxes of stuff in the guest room right now, so I gave up. I did manage to find my mending pile. It contains: 3 winter sweaters, 2 pairs of pants and a shirt belonging to James, a towel, one pair of pants with completely seam ripped legs, which in theory I intend to convert to a skirt, and this shirt. There were also a few things that had been in the pile so long that they no longer fit, and they are now in the donate pile. There was no way I was going to wear I a sweater, since I thought it was too hot for slacks and a long sleeved shirt yesterday. The towel and the clothes belonging to James were definitely out. My sewing machine is inaccessible, thanks to the general mayhem, so that ruled out the pants/future skirt project.

That left this shirt. Confession: I didn't actually repair the shirt before I wore it. It has a small rip in one of the ties, right where it's attached to the shirt. You can't see it when it's tied. The shirt has been in the repair pile for years. It never got fixed because I'm not that keen on this shirt. It's one of those weird tie it 100 different ways for 98 strange and unflattering looks shirts. It was a freebie from an Avon grab bag, and I figured I'd wear it as a test run before going to the trouble of fixing it. I'm still on the fence about whether or not I want to keep it. Feel free to cast your vote as to whether or not it's a keeper. I put it on and I thought, "Meh, I hate this shirt." But then, thanks to all the fashion knowledge I've absorbed in the last 17 days, I decided to tuck it in. And I tied the tie so it was like a belt. I've always worn it tied under the bust for an empire waste before. I don't hate it like this, but I can't say I love it either. I do love the skirt, though. And I got a new hair dryer yesterday, so I'm loving my haircut, too.

Shirt: Avon; Tank: Kohls; Skirt: Thrifted (vintage), Shoes: Shoe Carnival; Jewelry: Don't remember.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

21 Day Challenge, Day 16: Menswear Inspired

Day 16, Menswear Inspired

Today the prompt was to create a menswear inspired outfit. This was a pretty fun one. It felt natural to me, and check out how I'm applying what I've learned. Not only did I tuck my shirt in and belt it again, I've actually layered accessories. I thought the dogtag style necklace went with the whole menswear thing, and I decided to add pearls for a classic feminine touch. These pants have a herringbone stripe, so they fit the challenge perfectly. I didn't raid my husband's closet for the tie, I actually bought it several years ago for a Hermione costume, and it's not the first time I've worn it as a belt. I also wore it the day the final Harry Potter book was released. I liked this outfit, but it felt pretty autumnal. Fall is not here yet in central Indiana. Ironically, I was a bit too warm wearing this when we were rehearsing our dancing librarians routine for the Fall Festival parade today. In non-clothing related news, here's a bit of a sneak peek of more of the work that's been going on in our bedroom this week.

Shirt: Eddie Bauer; Pants: Scott Taylor, Stein Mart; Tie: Brooks, thrifted; Shoes: Danexx (That's the brand name on them. I don't remember the name of the store where I bought them) Jewelry: dogtag, Anne Klein, Pearls: I've had the necklace since high school, they're fake and probably from Claire's; Earrings, they were my mother's, real.

Monday, August 29, 2011

21 Day Challenge, Day 15: New Hair Do

Day 15, New Hair

I mentioned yesterday that I was excited about today's prompt, which is to sport a new hairstyle. Kayla, the host of the 21 Day Challenge told us, ”Your head has the power to makeorbreak your outfit (AND your confidence).” It occurred to me that I always feel the most confident with a bob, and that all summer long I've been wanting to get my hair cut. It's been driving me crazy for the past month, so I took the challenge as the push I needed to get it cut. It definitely gave me a confidence boost today, and that's despite the fact that my hair dryer fritzed out on me this morning. I'll have to make sure I don't put off replacing it as long as I put off getting a haircut.

New Hair, full length

In honor of confidence boosts, I wore my favorite shirt. Not sure I love it with this skirt, though. It's been helpful to see my clothes in photos. A full length mirror is just not the same perspective.

Shirt, vintage; Skirt, J. Crew; Shoes, Avon; Bracelet, gift--Moroccan

Sunday, August 28, 2011

21 Day Challenge, Day 14, Copycat

Day 14

When I read today's prompt, find an outfit you love and recreate it,my first thought was: "Oh, no!" You might think it would be kind of fun and easy to copy somebody else's outfit, but before this I didn't read fashion blogs, and I while I love Pinterest, I've been pinning house stuff, not clothes. The only thing I had pinned to my "wearables" board was a swimming suit. Not really an outfit I could recreate. Yesterday I worked a half day, and then spent the rest of the day working on my bedroom. I managed to squeeze in a little time looking at the fashion and apparel boards on Pinterest to find an outfit I could recreate. I settled on this:

Finding a look I liked that I could actually replicate with my own clothes on short order was definitely a challenge. Then add into the mix that I needed a church outfit, and I felt pretty stumped. When I saw this, I thought it was pretty cute. I'm a fan of blue and green together, and I happen to have a green purse. Plus, I have a blue and white striped silk shell. So I decided to take this basic idea and dress it up a little for church. So here we go. I like the scarf in the inspiration pic, but I don't have one with this shade of green. I decided to go with my green flats and green jewelry. All in all, I was pleased with this outfit, and I think I might try the casual version sometime, too. Maybe I'll have to start pinning clothing more in the future.

Since you can't see my bracelet in the picture, and I love it, here's a picture of it, too. It's malachite and lapis lazuli. My mom gave it to me when I was in high school.

Oh, and I was having a terrible hair day, and I'm really excited about tomorrow's prompt!

Cardigan: Croft and Barrow, thrifted; Shell: Silx, hand me down; Skirt: Jones & Co., Stein Mart; Shoes: Repetto, thrifted; necklace: I made it; Purse: Coach, inherited from my kind, generous, funny, smart,beautiful, stylish cousin who departed this life in January at the age of 34 from complications related to Diabetes. Memory eternal, Alison!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

21 Day Challenge, Day 13: Neutrals with a Pop of Color

Day 13, Neutral with a Pop of Color

Over all I think I liked my outfits for week one of the 21 Day Challenge better than my week two efforts. Traveling definitely added an extra layer of complication to things at the beginning of the week, and the rest of the week has been so busy as a result that I still didn't have much energy to put into my clothes. Hopefully I can step up my game for the third and final week. I'm looking forward to some of the prompts, and some will be more of a reach. Should be fun, though.

Today the prompt was to wear neutrals with with a pop of color. I figured this was a good chance to wear my remix skirt again, since white is definitely a neutral. I just wanted something easy, since I knew it would be a long day. I threw on a heathered grey t-shirt and these bright peep toe flats for my pop of color. That was still pretty boring, so I added this shell necklace. I like that the pink beads tie in with my shoes, but the shells still read as neutral. Not the most adventurous outfit, but it got the job done. James didn't get home from work until I was in the midst of painting, so we took this picture after I had showered for dinner. You can see random evidence of DIY in the photo. I'm really pleased with the progress we're making, and as soon as the Challenge is over I'll start chronicling our DIY adventures.

T-shirt: J. Crew, thrifted; Skirt: Target, remix! Shoes: Avon (My mom works for Avon corporate, so I think these were free in some grab bag) Necklace: Some vacation?

Friday, August 26, 2011

21 Day Challenge, Day 12: Jazz Up Jeans

Day 12, Jazz Up Jeans

Jazzing up jeans is not really something I typically do these days. Usually I reach for jeans because they are easy, and at work more often than not I'm wearing some obligatory T-shirt with them. Witness today's shirt: Geek the library is a national campaign to promote public libraries, their value to communities, and the services they provide. The library where I work kicked off the campaign locally this week. It makes use of the word geek as a verb meaning to be passionate for or really interested in something. Whatever you geek, your local public library has resources to support your interest. So if you geek fashion, you may find the library has subscriptions to your favorite fashion mags, and if you geek church history your library may have or can inter-library loan books on that topic. Libraries offer all kinds of resources to help you get your geek on, like wi-fi, community rooms, instructional DVDs, online classes and materials, programs, and, yes, books. So if you haven't visited your local library lately, you should check it out. And if you're already a big fan of libraries, you might want to see what you can do to support library funding in your community. Library funding has taken a hit all over the country, and library use goes up during economic downturns. Unfortunately, libraries tend to have the least money when we have the most users. /public service announcement

Since we kicked off the campaign this week, I wanted to wear my T-shirt, team player that I am. I would probably have worn it yesterday with my skirt, and gone with something a little jazzier today if I had known today was going to be just jeans, not jeans and a tee. I think this would be more fun with another pop of red, like a red belt, or some big red beads. However, I had to work with what I've got, so I did what I could with red heels, and ”fancy” jewelry. I also added this belt since I learned last Friday that a belt and heels go a long way to dress up jeans and a t-shirt. My assessment of this outfit: not bad, but room for improvement. Since we will be running Geek the Library through the spring, I'm going to have to get some red accessories.

Jeans: Old Navy, thrifted; T-shirt:; Shoes, bracelets, earrings: Target, Belt: came with a dress

Thursday, August 25, 2011

21 Day Challenge, Day 11: Skirt or Dress

Day 11, Wear a skirt or dress

We're just over halfway through the 21 Day Challenge! Good news if you're getting bored with seeing pictures of my clothes every day. Or if you're my husband and you're getting sick of taking my picture every day. And have you noticed it's getting dark earlier? I got home before dark today, but I started fixing dinner and the next thing I knew the sun had set. I'm kind of bummed because this was one of my favorite outfits so far, and this picture doesn't do justice to these shoes. I really liked how fresh and summery the green and white felt. Autumn may be coming fast, but I'm not ready for it quite yet.

The prompt today was to wear a skirt or dress. This was, without a doubt, the easiest one for me so far. I love wearing skirts and dresses. You may have guessed that by the fact that I wore one every day for the first week. They're so comfortable, and they're much easier in terms of fit than pants and shorts. My first thought with this prompt was to wear a dress, since I've only worn one so far, but then I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to wear my remix piece. It seemed like a no-brainer, since it is a skirt. I've also been wanting a chance to wear these fun green flats, which are a recent Goodwill find. I will definitely wear this again.

Shirt: Old Navy, thrifted; Shoes: Repetto, thrifted; Skirt: Target; jewelry: gifts

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

21 Day Challenge, Day 10: Closet Orphan

Day 10, Closet Orphan

Imagine the clothes you have hanging around, gathering dust at the back of your closet because you never wear them. Those are your closet orphans, and today for the 21 Day Challenge we were supposed to drag one out and wear it. I don't know about you, but most of my clothes are in regular rotation, except for the ones that don't quite fit. I do have several items in that category that I'm particularly fond of and can't bring myself to donate. You know, just in case I lose 5-10 pounds.

So that limited my options of wearable closet orphans. However, I've had this shirt for about three years, and I'd only worn it once before. It is blue silk shot with purple, and I guess it just seems really dressy to me. I never think to wear it; the one time I did wear it was for a wedding. Today, I decided to embrace the dressiness, and I wore it with tuxedo pants. It's rather hard to see the satin stripe on the pant leg since I get home after dark on Wednesdays. I actually really liked this outfit, so I think I'll start wearing this shirt more. I'd say operation closet orphan was a success.

Since I had to take a picture inside, here I am in my bedroom with our beautiful new cork floor. As you can see by the lack of outlet covers, the bedroom is still a work in progress, but the floor is such a huge step in the right direction.

Shirt & pants: hand me downs, Shoes: Shoe Carnival, Jewelry: gifts

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

21 Day Challenge, Day 9: Monochrome

Day 9: Monochrome

Despite the fact that I am 5'2", and wearing all one color is supposed to make you look taller, this is something I very rarely do. For some reason I feel weird about it. Partly I think it's my deeply ingrained desire for colors to match precisely. If they aren't exactly the same shade, I feel like they shouldn't be worn together. I'm trying to stretch myself as part of the 21 Day Challenge. So I'm trying to break myself of the matchy-matchy thing. For instance, on color blocking day, my scarf and skirt were slightly different shades of green. Two different green tones! Wacky, right? And for today's monochromatic prompt here I am in all brown, even though the browns are not the same. I'm breaking my self-imposed rules. (Or maybe mother imposed?)

I thought this was kind of boring, and I wish I would have gone with another color. I could have managed a monochrome outfit in all green, but I've worn both of my green skirts already. I don't have many skirts or pants that are not neutrals. I did really like the jewelry with it, though. I only wore this for about 2 hours today, and I don't think anyone saw it besides my husband. We just got up and drove home this morning. James took my picture (once again in our backyard), we ate lunch, and then we spent the rest of the day working on the flooring in our bedroom.


I stuck with the monochrome look for my work clothes, though. Two shades of blue!  I feel no personal obligation for my clothes to match when I am installing flooring underlayment, however, so I didn't really go out on a limb with the different blues. We finished the floor today! We set up the bed in our room again, and we are pretty excited to be sleeping in our own bed tonight. There are still a number of other projects ahead of us in our bedroom, and we also still have to install the new flooring in the other two bedrooms. Even so, it felt pretty wonderful to finish this phase of the project.

Shirt: Kohls; Capris: Ann Taylor Loft; Shoes: Target; Necklace & earrings: made by my SIL; Bracelet: gift; I'm also wearing a tank. It's beige, so it's blending in with my skin tone and not really showing up in this picture. It's from the Limited, and I've had it for about 12 years. I'm sure you're dying to know the sources for my work clothing, too. The t-shirt was designed by a fellow AmeriCorps*NCCC member back in 2001. The shorts are a pair of my little brother's old gym shorts.

Monday, August 22, 2011

21 Day Challenge, Day 8: Mixing Fancy & Casual

Day 8, Fancy and casual

I think packing for a trip is challenging enough without adding another later of complication, but we are spending a couple of days in a state park lodge as a little anniversary getaway/escape from remodeling chaos. So here I am with a travel edition of the 21 Day Challenge, squinty vacation picture and all. I was a little concerned when I saw the prompt for today was to mix dressy and casual, since my plans for the day included hiking and swimming. I puzzled over it for quite a while, but finally I thought of this shirt. I usually wear it with black pants or skirt. Full disclosure: I did not wear this for hiking or swimming. :-) But it was great for playing tourist in town where we wandered around checking out boutiques and galleries. I even got a few compliments on my shirt. We are having a great time and enjoying gorgeous weather. Back to vacation now; I'll write more about our trip later.

Details: Shirt: Hand me down; Jeans: Target, thrifted; Shoes, Sketchers; one of my bracelets from yesterday

Sunday, August 21, 2011

21 Day Challenge, Day 7: Layering Accessories

Day 7, Layered Accessories

I made it through week one, and I've met every challenge! Plus I've blogged every day, which is unheard of for me. Now, there's no chance I'm going to become a fashion blogger after this 21 Day Challenge is over, but it has been such a great experience so far. We'll see if I've changed my tune after week two. :-) Today the challenge was to layer accessories. I don't think I came up with a particularly interesting look, but it is definitely outside my normal comfort zone. I've actually been accessorizing much more than normal this past week. Typically I wear my cross and the same pair of silver earrings, and maybe I'll throw on a bracelet. I used to wear more jewelry, but I have a bad habit of losing it. My skin is pretty sensitive, and I don't really like the feel of it, so I take it off and misplace it. All this to say, generally I don't really bother with accessories, so I definitely don't layer them.

I played around with them a lot trying to decide what to layer. I had fun with it, but in the end I decided to keep it pretty simple. We left on a short getaway right after church, and since we were going to be spending time in the car and playing tourist, my main goal with my clothing was comfort. I decided to wear a necklace with my cross, and wear three bracelets. I pretty much never wear other necklaces with my cross. On the rare occasion that I do wear a different necklace, I just don't wear the cross. What I took from this challenge is that I'll have to be on the lookout for other necklaces I can wear with it, because I feel kind of naked without my cross.

Day 7, full length

Dress and shoes: Kohls; Tank: Valerie Stevens, hand me down (it's part of a twinset with the cardigan I wore Monday; Cross: gift; Turquoise necklace: ? I don't remember; Bracelets: I made the one with black beads, the other two are hand me downs

Saturday, August 20, 2011

21 Day Challenge: Day 6, Unconventional

Day 6, Unconventional

Today for the 21 Day Challenge we were supposed to take an item of clothing and wear it in an unconventional fashion. At the beginning of the week I thought this would be really hard for me. Thankfully, after a week of seeing all the creative outfits the other women in the challenge were putting together, it was a lot easier to get my head around the idea.

I ended up having a very swimwear oriented day. I struck on the idea of using this bikini top from my college days. Even though I haven't worn a bikini in years, I haven't let go of this one because I love the colors. I tried this as a headband, which I really liked, but then when I was trying to decide what to wear with it, I thought of this T-shirt dress. It's also from college, making both of these over 10 years old, and I've only kept the dress for use as a swimsuit cover-up. I thought it would tie in well with the orange in the swimsuit. So then I decided to tuck it into this skirt, and wear the swimsuit top as a belt/sash.

I'm hitting on a ton of challenge prompts today. I'm tucked in, belted, and wearing a closet orphan, in addition to fulfilling the prompt for today. I thought it wasn't a bad look for casual Saturday running errands. But I don't recommend unconventional dressing when you're going to be trying on clothes! One of my errands was to try on some clearance swimsuits for a brief getaway we're taking this week. No luck unfortunately, and this outfit was kind of a hassle to take off and put on.

T-shirt dress as shirt: the Limited; bandeau bikini top as sash: Old Navy; Skirt (only 5 years old), J. Crew; Flip flops: my mom brought these back from India

Friday, August 19, 2011

21 Day Challenge: Day 5, Belt It

Day 5: Belt it

Today the prompt for the 21 Day Challenge was to wear a belt. This was actually the hardest one for me so far. I have three belts, and I wore one of them for Day 2, Tuck It In, so my choices were limited. As far as I can recall, I have never, no not ever, worn a belt over a shirt, so I tried something new. I wasn't thrilled with the result. The belt felt awkward, and I kept fussing with it all day. I did like how the belt dressed up a simple T-shirt. I think without the belt this would have seemed too casual for work, even for jeans day. Plus, I love these shoes, and they worked for this prompt because they have a belt thing going on with the buckles. I think I might like belting a shirt more if I had a belt that stayed in place better. I'm glad I tried something different for me, and I think I'll be more open to belts in the future.

Shirt: Ann Taylor Loft; Jeans: Target, thrifted; Belt: Kohl's; Shoes: Nine West, Stein Mart; Necklace: made for me by my lovely sister-in-law; Bracelet, gift from my parents, who got it as a souvenir in Morocco about 20 years ago.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

21 Day Challenge: Day 4, Color Blocking

Day 4, Color blocking

Today was color blocking day for the 21 Day Challenge which is basically wearing multiple solid colors together. This is actually something I do all the time, since most of my wardrobe pieces are solids. Usually I pair a bright with a neutral, so since I'm doing this challenge to challenge myself, I went with two brights. Plus, I wore a scarf! I know, heady stuff, but usually my major consideration when getting dressed is what I can wear that doesn't need to be ironed. Accessories don't typically enter into it. This challenge has been really fun and inspiring so far. I can't wait to see what the prompts are for next week.

Details: Sweater: Ann Taylor, thrifted; S.L.B., hand me down; Scarf: gift, my best friend brought this back for me after she was in India with the Foreign Service; Shoes: Liz Claiborn, Stein Mart; Bracelet, gift from my mother in law--it has a little guy and girl charms, the year we got married, plus three hearts to represent the three family weddings that summer.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

21 Day Challenge: Day 3, Pattern Mixing

Day 3: Pattern Mixing

Today the prompt for the 21 Day Challenge was pattern mixing. I don't really wear many patterns. I'd say 90% of my clothing is solid, so mixing patterns definitely isn't something I do, um, ever. I immediately knew what I wanted to wear for this challenge, though. I've kind of been wanting to wear these two pieces together. I like the combo of navy and green, but my mind always balked at the pattern mixing. I don't know why I couldn't bring myself to try this before. I'm not exactly out on a limb with this outfit. The pattern on the shirt is so subtle you can't even see it in my photo! The second chapter of Pattern Mixing for Beginners by Dotty Houndstooth (my imaginary guide) is: Try Patterns that Read as Solids. The first chapter, if you're wondering, is: Try Stripes. I'm sure there are more chapters, but I haven't gotten that far yet. I'm taking baby steps with the patterns.

I added the inset so you can see the tiny polka dots in my shirt. I had to prove I really did mix patterns. Sorry for the terrible photo where you can't even see my mixing efforts. I didn't get home until after dark, and it just wasn't happening with the cell phone. It was bedtime, and we didn't have the energy to track down the regular camera and batteries in the chaos that is remodeling. Anyway, I think the pattern mixing was a success, even thought I didn't get any shrugs. :) I'll have to try harder next time. I think I'd have to buy some more patterned shirts to manage it, though.

Outfit details--Top and skirt: Ann Taylor Loft, a few years ago; earrings and bracelets: Target, last year; shoes: Nina, my wedding shoes! Still love these, 8 years ago from Lazarus, which is now Macy's.

Despite the fact that it's getting rather ragged at this point, and I'm in my jammies, I wanted to show my favorite part of my look for today. This pic makes me think of Hermione, "Is that really how my hair looks from the back?"

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

21 Day Challenge: Day 2, Tuck It In

Day 2: Tuck it in

OK, so today's challenge was to tuck it in. I almost never wear my shirt tucked in, and the last few times I've tried it, I've been dissatisfied with my outfit. I felt like I was going to have trouble with this challenge, and I didn't pick anything out until this morning. I had visions of myself trying on every pair of pants I own, but then I thought of this skirt. This was the first thing I put on today, and I loved it!  I never would have thought of wearing a shirt tucked into this skirt if it weren't for the challenge, and I will probably wear this again.

Outfit details: my shirt is from Eddie Bauer, 5-10 years old. Tank is Danzen, thrifted. The skirt is from the Gap. I was so pleased when I found it at a thrift store last month.  It is fun to wear because it's very full and twirly.  My shoes are from Payless, 4-5 years ago. I've always liked the color combo in them; they're kind of peach striped with green, and the heels are green. The belt is a hand me down from a friend. The bracelet was a gift. It's originally supposed to be a choker, but the beads feel sharp to me, so I twisted the wire into a bracelet. It has a bigger bead dangling from it that you can't see in the pic. My basic white earrings are from Target last year.

So that's it for today.

Monday, August 15, 2011

21 Day Challenge: Day 1

Challenge 1: Remix

Here is my first outfit for the 21 Day Challenge. This is definitely going to be a learning experience. I've never read fashion blogs before, and I really don't enjoy shopping. For me clothes are pretty utilitarian. It's going to be interesting to try to think about them a little more creatively and step out of my usual comfort zone. I wouldn't say that I really did that here, but I have never worn these three pieces all together before.

Since I haven't bought clothes anywhere besides a thrift store in over a year, I don't know how helpful it is to share sources for my clothes, but that seems to be part of the deal. Here's the info, for what it's worth. My sweater is a hand-me-down from a friend, tag says Valerie Stevens. Top is from Old Navy, 10+ years ago. Skirt is from Target, 5+ years ago. I bought the shoes at Shoe Carnival 8 years ago (the summer I got married). I'm not sure what brand they are. Earrings were a gift.

One thing I've learned already is I feel completely awkward getting my picture taken for this. I'm so impressed with you bloggers who do this regularly, and have such lovely photos. Mine was taken in the Home Depot parking lot. A good reflection of my life lately. :)

The white eyelet skirt is what I will remix. It's pretty versatile, and I figure I might as well wear it now; summer will be gone before we know it. The top is kind of a gingham seersucker, and the sweater is trimmed in bugle beads. That's about all I have to say about my clothing, except that I wore blue today for the Dormition. I try to wear blue for the feasts of the Theotokos.

Joyous feast to my normal readers! I don't have the energy for two separate posts, so here is our church's new Dormition icon.

Friday, August 12, 2011

21 Day Challenge

21 Day Challenge

Sign me up. I'm probably crazy to try something like this when my bedroom currently looks like this:

Or to put it in words, it's a construction site, and most of my clothes are consequently jammed into the guest bedroom closet. I'm not even sure where some of them are, because James took them out when he painted the ceiling of our closet. Hmmm. I'll have to check with him about that.  But even so, I'm kind of excited about this idea. I learned about it from Rebekah at Verdant Bents.

As you might guess from the picture, we've got this whole bedroom makeover in the works. Since it will include the closet, over the summer I've been trying to go through my clothes and get rid of things that don't fit and that I don't love to wear. I've also been trying to replace some of the clothes I've been divesting myself of with clothes that do fit, that I do love to wear. I've been thinking a lot more about clothes than I usually do, which is why I'm keen on this idea, despite the craziness going on around here.

This challenge is hosted by Freckles in April, a new-to-me blog. I really like that Kayla does fashion blogging as a regular girl on a budget, and that, like me, she gets a lot of her clothes at thrift shops. Other things we have in common: we both have freckles, were born in April, and like to cook healthy foods for our families. So I'm going to trust her enough to spend August 15-September 4 getting dressed based on her prompts, and, um, posting pictures of my outfits on the internet. Should be fun. Go check it out. There are even cool prizes involved, if you want to join in. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Our parish has commissioned a set of festal icons from iconographer Dennis Bell, and we received three new ones this week. One of them was the Transfiguration, so not only did we have the blessing of the first fruits today, we had the blessing of the new icon. You can see it's still wet with holy water. I wish you could see it in person, instead of my poor effort with my cell phone camera. It's quite beautiful. I wanted to display it larger so that you could see some of the details. I had to edit the html of my blog template to change the margins, so please let me know if that's resulted in any weird formatting for you.

I also took some pictures during the blessing of the icon, but later when I was taking the picture of the icon itself, I wondered why the camera just wouldn't seem to focus. Then I realized the lens was smudged. That explains why my pictures have been so blurry this week! I wish I could pretend my picture of first fruits below is intentionally blurry for artistic reasons.  Ah, well. Sometimes I think I might enjoy getting a nice camera and learning photography, but for now I'll see if I can improve things simply by keeping the lens clean.

Tomatoes are the fruit of the vine for this Indiana girl, and the yellow tomato is literally the first fruit from that plant. I picked these this morning before liturgy. We sliced them up and ate them afterward, along with the grapes and other fruits which people had brought. It was lovely.  I hope you have had (or will have) a lovely feast day as well .

Joyous feast!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fast Food Friday: TLTs

Since we're in the midst of the Dormition fast, I thought I'd share a favorite summertime fasting recipe. At the beginning of August tomatoes start coming on fast and furious in central Indiana. It's also usually so hot and humid that anything that requires much cooking is pretty unappealing, making the classic Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich a perfect dinner. I remember having them often this time of year as a kid, but of course, I've been a vegetarian for now for about 10 years. So, no bacon for me.

Enter tempeh "bacon."  While we occasionally eat vegetarian meat substitutes, I avoid them during fasting periods. I just don't see this as one, because honestly, it's nothing like real bacon. It has a totally different texture, and it just doesn't taste like meat. But it does make a smoky, flavorful sandwich filling that's a great foil for lettuce and tomato. This recipe is adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

The ingredients:

3 Tbs. soy sauce
3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs. molasses
1 Tbs. tomato paste
1 Tbs. water
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 8 oz. package of tempeh
2 Tbs. oil for frying

Measure all the ingredients but the last two ingreients into a container for marinating, such as a covered baking dish.  Whisk them together until well combined. Slice the tempeh into 1/4 inch. thin strips. The shape doesn't really matter, but I cut them like this:

Add your strips to the marinade and make sure the strips are well coated. Treat them fairly gently, or the tempeh will crumble. Put in the refrigerator to marinate for at least an hour. I did this in the morning before I went to work. The night before works great, too.

When you're ready, heat your oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add your tempeh strips, and cook about 3-5 minutes.  How long it takes will depend on your pan and how hot your stove cooks. They go from nicely browned to burnt to a crisp quickly, so watch them carefully. When they are browned flip them over and cook for another 2-4 minutes, until the other side is browned. Remove from heat.  You can toss them with the remaining marinade (take out the garlic), if you like.
Enjoy on a sandwich with fresh tomatoes and lettuce. Yum!

If you are looking for an easy, no-bake fasting dessert , I made these PB Crispy Treats last week, and, well, they are long gone now, so James and I recommend them.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Be Awesome

So, I mentioned the last time I was here that I have been spending wasting time on Pinterest. And that is true. Maybe I'll be inspired to write about a few of the other things I've managed to do lately, but last week I read this over at Young House Love.  And I thought a Pinterest Challenge was a great idea, so I took them up on the invitation to create my own spin on something I've pinned.

This week is my brother's birthday, and I had pinned this poster, which I thought was right up his alley. It is a quotation from Barney on the TV show How I Met Your Mother. But I didn't really think he would dig the yellow, and I have no idea if this poster is still available, so I wanted to make my own version.

I invested $15 and one Saturday into this project. First, I picked up a 2x4 foot canvas at Michaels with a 50% off coupon.  Beyond that I only used supplies I already had, which included a paint sample I bought to test the color for my bedroom (Smoke Screen in Olympic paint from Lowes), and some red and black craft paint. I think it was $15 well spent.  And I had fun making it, so I can't complain about it costing me a Saturday, either.

I rolled on the Smoke Screen with a mini-roller. I really like this color; it's blue in some lights, grey in others.  I didn't put down anything to protect the carpet because we are going to be tearing it out any day now. (Can't wait!) While it dried I played around with layouts and fonts for the text. I settled on Britannic Bold and Segoe Condensed. Then I printed out the letters I needed to make stencils. I just did this in MS Word. I printed the stencils in landscape orientation so I could fit more letters per page. I used the outline effect on the font so that I wouldn't waste a ton of ink, which was wise since my cartridge is almost empty.

Then I spent a few hours cutting out the letters while watching HGTV Design Star on Hulu. I mostly used scissors, but I used an exacto knife for the little ones and tricky parts. Finally, I got to paint. I mixed together red and black paint to make the dark red and used a teeny tiny brush from a kids watercolor set to paint all the letters. I dry brushed "sad" to make it look a little sad. I painted  "awesome" with straight red to make it stand out. The color scheme kind of reminds me of the St. Louis Cardinals jerseys from the '80s, which is perfect, because my brother is a huge Cardinals fan. I used the lid from a popcorn tin to trace the circle for "true story."  The lid even fit in with the color scheme. I just scotch taped my stencils to the canvas to paint them on, and I eye-balled the placement.

It probably took about eight hours total to do this project. The stencil cutting and painting were both time-consuming, but my method got the job done. It could probably be done more quickly if your tools are superior to mine. If I would change anything, I'd stretch the letters in "awesome" to make them a little taller. If you're more particular than me, you could pencil in lines for guidelines for your stencils. But all in all, I'm really pleased with how it came out, and my brother loved it. Which is awesome.

Edited to add: By the way, be sure to go check out all the other great Pinterest inspired projects at the blogs of the amazing challenge hosts:

Bower Power
Making a House a Home
Style by Emily Henderson
Young House Love