Monday, July 30, 2012

Happy Snapshots: July

Fun homemade gift tag

I love this vintage-looking shirt on the birthday boy.

Primal chocolate chip cookies (I successfully substituted coconut oil for the palm oil shortening)

First flowers from this orchid in over a year

My brother painted this awesome chevron accent wall for his twins' baby room.

One of my favorite salads this summer: Mediterranean salad with tomato, red onion, lettuce, spinach, goat cheese, pepperoncini, and Italian herbs

The kiddo working on his construction skills

I had no idea Target had its own themed Barbie -- check out that Target gift card and signature red shopping basket in her hands -- but yeah, I'm not surprised it was on clearance.

More from Target: I am not a doll person, but I kinda wanted one of each of these international-themed dolls.

Another baby in my family was just born! My second cousin's second child, a darling baby boy.

Adorable birthday cake (from Wal-Mart no less!)

Juicy organic peach at the farmer's market

A Friday night at the local baseball game with my two guys

Our latest experience at contra dance (see last month's) was made cooler by the fact that our dapper caller looked like an older Joss Whedon wearing 19th-century American clothing. Love the suspenders!

I'm still a bit in shock that this month is almost over. Gotta get cracking on my sewing projects, and after starts (seriously??). See you in August! :-)

xo, Gladys

Friday, July 27, 2012

Last Lesson

"Class photo"

We're all just a bit sad that today was the last swim lesson. I won't lie, it's been exhausting to constantly get the house clean and ready for seven kids and their parents (including me and the kiddo). But it was a great experience and I'm glad we did it. We might actually continue lessons after a week break or so; summer won't be over here for another month or two. The only issue is that some of the kids will be starting school again very soon. (Crazy, I know.)

It's been a real joy to watch my son come out of his usually-reserved shell ... and turn into a fish! It can be scary at times since he likes to just jump headlong into the water (to dance, float, swim, and/or get on your back for a "swimmy back ride"), but he's a blast to be around when he's in the water. He laughs underwater.

Watching him learn has also made me a better swimmer myself. I learned that good goggles are a MUST for me. I use Swedish goggles (like these), which do a fantastic job of keeping the water out, and fogging is easy to get rid of. With them on, underwater looks basically like these photos, which were taken with an underwater camera. It makes me feel calmer when I can see everything clearly, so I'm consequently able to hold my breath underwater for a good period of time. Being able to swim laps now has helped tone my muscles and improve my physique as well. (!) A very nice side-effect when all we're trying to do is have fun. :-)

xo, Gladys

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sewing: Reversible Pinafore #2

This is the second pinafore I made with this pattern from Aliyahs Hope Chest. (The first pinafore is here.) This was actually a kit so I got the fabric from the same place, but it's no longer available on her Etsy site. Believe it or not, the zoo animals print is an IKEA print. I had no idea that IKEA sold fabric. That's pretty cool.

Anyway, I made the dress for my dear friend E's little girl who just turned four, and although I would normally have made her something in her favorite colors (purple, pink), I thought that the black and white would be more striking with her darker coloring. And it was! Also neat was the fact that it looked like an awesome mod mini-dress on her since she's not very big or tall. Vintage style FTW!

To make this pinafore more special for the birthday girl, I decided to appliqué the first initial of her name on the dress on both sides. I thought that I'd be able to use a satin stitch to secure the "J"'s on the dress, but I didn't realize that the fusible webbing I had bought was a "no-sew" kind. I don't remember there being a lot of choices at the store (Jo-Ann's). Even though merely ironing on the appliqués without the extra step of sewing around the edges cut down quite a bit of time, I felt frustrated because I'd been going for a particular look. Unfortunately, because I left the appliqué until the last moment (the week was just too busy), I had to go with the iron-on look. Thank goodness I cut out the letters as neatly as I could.

On the bright side, while I wasn't happy with how the appliqués turned out, the recipient simply LOVED having the first initial of her name on both sides of her dress. In fact, she even loved the decorative "J" that I attached to the gift as a piece of flair; she wanted her mother to place it square on her chest using the safety pin. So adorable.

A brief process note on sewing the pinafore:
The last step is to close the side seams by sewing through all layers with a topstitch. Below are photos of the side seams. Because of the color difference between the fabrics, I decided to switch out the bottom (bobbin) thread in order to match the reverse fabric, in this case white. I had to redo the seams twice (my seam ripper got a good workout) so that I could make it look neater. Still not as neat as I would have liked, but it's better than it was originally.

The white/zoo side was the first side of the pinafore to be stitched closed (from the inside), but because it was necessary to topstitch from the other side in order to close the black/polka dot side, there is a rather prominent seam line on the white/zoo side. I think the black/polka dot side actually looks pretty good since I worked to topstitch as close to the edge as possible. If I could do it over, I would have closed the black/polka dot side first from the inside, then topstitched the white/zoo side closed. I don't think the black thread would have been as prominent on the black/polka dot side. Live and learn. At least it was good enough for both the birthday girl and her mom. :-)

xo, Gladys

Monday, July 23, 2012

Roosters, Fluevogs, and a Vintage Vibe

Dress: Folter via ModCloth (ON SALE!) | Shoes: Fluevog Vanny (Choice Hi family) | Bracelets: Kohl's and souvenir shop in Warsaw, Poland

I've worn this ensemble twice now, but this was the only time I was able to take photos of it. Can you tell how happy I am in these pictures? Or maybe you can tell just because I'm posting SO MANY of them...? Ah, I get so excited whenever I have an outfit to share with you.

But this really is one of my favorite dresses in my closet. I love rockabilly and pinup clothes (e.g. I posted about playing virtual dress-up with a Pin Up Maker), but I don't have a lot of them in my wardrobe. Truth be told, I bought the dress specifically to match my beautiful shoes. I got these adorable Fluevog pumps (they have a heart-shaped heel!) on sale in February 2011, but it wasn't until later that December that I found the perfect outfit to match, when I saw this dress on the ModCloth website (still available and now on sale).

I have to admit that the dress is somewhat snug -- tight, even -- across the chest and under the arms, so beware if you're bustier than I am. It's also a bit longer than I usually like my dresses. But with the right undergarments and the right-height shoes (not to mention fashion tape to prevent gaping between buttons), it's a killer outfit. I really dig the vintage 1950s vibe of it. I could not pass up the dress once I tried it on. It's such a beautiful and fun print, with a combination of colors that isn't often seen on the same fabric, and because it's 100% cotton, it feels great on. Even better, the colors don't match my Vanny pumps exactly, so putting them together doesn't feel too precious.

So I took photos of my outfit at two different times on the same day. The first set (all the photos above) was taken before going to a birthday party, and the second set (below) was taken in the late afternoon -- hence the difference in lighting. Also notice that in the first set of photos, the purple sash is missing; I just forgot to put it on for the photos. I think the dress works both ways, but the belt is a nice touch.

I haven't tried but I think it would be fun to dance in this skirt.

Aren't the big purple buttons great? And I don't have a closeup, but the piping on the collar is awesome too.

xo, Gladys

Friday, July 20, 2012

New Shoes: Canvas Flats

Here are the adorable flats that I got on clearance from Target last week (they look so much like Blowfish flats, don't they?). I almost didn't get this particular color, but it turned out to be more versatile than I thought. I've worn them out with jeans, shorts, and, yesterday, a dress.

And while I'm at it, here's a closer look at the Old Navy striped neon green dress (worn as a regular dress this time). It was recently washed so I quickly threw it on to visit my cousin-in-law at the hospital (she just gave birth to her second child). It's an effortless dress to wear, and the fabric is somewhat weighty so the skirt doesn't flip up in the wind. A major plus in the high desert.

Dress: Old Navy | Flats: Mossimo via Target

xo, Gladys

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Garden: An OMG Harvest

After yesterday's post on the garden, I wanted to share this photo of the most recent harvesting. My friend M and I harvested the garden yesterday and we ended up with a ridiculous amount of beautiful tomatoes -- all three varieties, Best Boy, Early Girl, and Roma. I also picked some green bell peppers because they were so big, they were practically begging to be picked and subsequently sliced and fried up or stuffed with seasoned ground beef and cheese. (My stomach just interrupted to say "Mmmmmmmmm...")

I knew there were a lot of tomatoes, but I had no idea how many. And we didn't even get them all. (And some we even threw right into the compost bin because they were overripe or split open.) There are still bunches close to the ground, underneath layers and layers of foliage and still-green tomatoes on the vines. For fear of getting bitten by spiders, lizards, or other creatures down there, we let those bottom tomatoes alone. Our hands thanked us.

xo, Gladys

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Garden Update + Outfit

Harvesting the garden is getting fun. The tomatoes are especially tasty and useful. Just yesterday I made a delicious marinara sauce with three pounds of tomatoes that were sitting on my counter ripening for about a week. It was my first time blanching then peeling tomatoes, and it was relatively easy. The sauce tasted like I went to a fancy restaurant, that's how good it was. The secret? Good extra-virgin olive oil and LOTS of garlic. I also like to think that our tomatoes are particularly tasty (our friends say so, anyway). I'll post the recipe here sometime.

This is the first time you've seen that we're also growing chili peppers since I've neglected to photograph the plants, which are in a different part of the yard. We've got six plants, two varieties, and they're all flowering. I hope these turn fire-engine red.

And as promised in the post title, here I am wearing a couple of items from my Old Navy shopping haul, the neon green striped coverup (which I would definitely wear on its own as a dress) and aqua blue flip-flops. Sorry I didn't do my hair or wear makeup. Getting in the pool right after dolling up kinda ruins the effect. There will be a party this weekend, so I hope I'll get decent outfit photos then. :-)

xo, Gladys

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sewing: Reversible Pinafore

I bought this adorable reversible pinafore kit (pattern + fabric) from AliyahsHopeChest via Etsy. It's like two tops in one! The kit was at such a great price that I bought a couple of other kits with different fabric. I will post on those here when I've finished them. This particular one is for the daughter of my friend M. It's like a co-op exchange: I make her daughter hand-made clothes and she babysits my son when I need it. Deal!

I love this vintage McCall's print (and I knew M would love it as well), and it works wonderfully with the pink polka-dotted fabric, which is cute in its own right.

Isn't the cross-strap back darling?

Just a couple of brief notes about the process of making the pinafore. I actually made this pinafore at the same time as another one (whose fabrics were black and white print). So I traced and cut them out of the fabrics at the same time, and I worked on both pinafores for each sewing and pressing step. There was one particular sewing step that lent itself very well to chain sewing (not exactly sure what it's called), and that was the joining of the shoulder straps. You can see in the photo directly above how the straps are still connected by the threads. I'm not sure if doing it this way saved me a significant amount of time since I only had to sew four sets of straps, but it did help give a sense of continuity instead of a start-stop feeling.

Overall I like the look of this pattern and would recommend it. There's also support for the pattern in the form of a couple of brief YouTube vids, which I needed in order to complete it, but I do wish there was a video showing how the very last step (the closing seams) should look. I'll offer closeups of how my closure seams look in my next post on the pinafore.

xo, Gladys

Friday, July 13, 2012

Shopping Haul

Hi, my name is Gladys, and I started shopping for clothes again.

It sort of does feel like I've relapsed into an addiction. I haven't shopped for clothes in a long time ... over six months, wow! (I JUST realized this.) So my recent trip to Old Navy during a 40%-off-everything-in-store sale was quite exciting. Yeah, I'm living the high life over here.

At the end of last summer, after binge-shopping during their sales events for FOUR STRAIGHT MONTHS, I realized that much of Old Navy's offerings were pretty bland and I even gave away some items that I barely wore once because they didn't look that great on me to begin with. Have you seen a lot of Old Navy in my outfit posts? No, despite the fact that I bought so much there last summer. So I promised myself that I would shop very sparingly there from now on. I don't think I've bought anything from them since August 2011. (It has definitely helped not to look at the clothes online.) Good for me. But I thought I would check out this last sale when I read the subscriber email they sent out.

I guess it was just time. I had a list of items to get for my son, and I wanted to go to the store to make sure I could try on everything I would be getting for myself. My plan was to get only (or mostly) what I needed, to be ruthless about how much I was willing to spend on any item, and to stick to sale/clearance items unless something spectacular caught my eye (didn't happen, although the white-and-black polka dot cardigan was pretty sweet).

The end result? I was really happy with the super deals that I got.

For me: Cute flip-flops, a striped beach coverup, terry shorts, a thin summery top for sleeping in, some basic camisoles, comfortable boot-cut stretch jeans ($12!), and a pair of mauve linen (sorta-cigarette) pants (this last, at $6.60, was a "splurge" that I might end up regretting since I'm iffy about the style).

For the kid: A couple of much-needed rash guard swimming tops and new socks for his growing feet. Unexpectedly, all of these items were among the most expensive in the cart, so it was good to get them 40% off.

For the hubby: To make up for expensive child gear, I scored a couple of VERY CHEAP ($1.78 and $1.48) striped knit-cotton polo shirts that may be too large for my husband (it was slim pickings in his regular size). In that case, I could use the fabric and button plackets for a refashioning project. I've been meaning to make my son a Flashback Skinny Tee, for example. And actually, I could make myself a striped pencil skirt with some of that fabric as well (thanks Pinterest!).

Although this shopping trip was kind of like going to the thrift store because of the great prices, I need to be careful not to slide down the slippery slope ... because the following day, I went to Target and, without needing to, bought myself two new pairs of flats. They were adorable AND on clearance ($6 each pair). But still. My goal was to stop buying so much fast fashion, since I don't want to give away clothes after a season and I want the items in my wardrobe to actually last.... But the shoes ARE cute and comfy (since they're basically Blowfish knockoffs), they fit me just right, and I could see myself running around in them to all my errands. I'll have to share a photo later. :-)

xo, Gladys

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pin Up Maker

A dress that I want in real life

I just had to share this nifty game with you! Create an adorable pin up girl HERE or HERE! You can even download the finished product to your computer to keep! Thanks to the talented artist who created this game, Kei Phillips, with the help of game developers at Doll Divine. I loved it so much I had to make more than one pin up ... and I've only started with an avatar that most closely resembles me. There are so many more options to choose from to make a pin up doll, especially the fun vintage hair!

Bringing a little bit of Xmas in July (and yeah, that's a chocolate milkshake haha!)

Imagining a night of dancing

Trying to replicate one of my favorite bathing suits (see second photo here). There was a plaid option but I liked the gingham better.

I MUST thank my dear friend M, who told me about a fun Jane Austen heroine quiz, Which Austen Heroine Are You? (I'm Anne by the way!), on Strangeblog ... and several surfing clicks later, we discovered a link to the pin up maker game! Below I'll share the pin up of herself that M managed to make before she had to go home. I love her creativity and fun sense of style!

xo, Gladys

Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer Swim

It's hard to believe that July is almost one-third of the way done. The month shot out of the gate and hasn't stopped racing since! My son and I ended our once-a-week Mommy and Me summer class at the end of June, only to start thrice-weekly swim lessons with six of his young friends at the beginning of July -- or last Monday, actually. I feel like it's been a lot longer than that! The constant house-cleaning has probably gotten to me already. (I'm not very good at keeping house, to be perfectly honest. But the lessons are at our pool so we've got to keep the house relatively tidy; I even put my chores on a schedule in my iPhone, which beeps whenever I need to do a certain chore.)

On the upside, it's been lovely hanging out regularly with my friends here, eating yummy food together after working up an appetite in the water. Case in point: last Friday, from whence the photos above came. Spouses had the day off from work and other family was invited, so it was a big party that lasted about ten hours. I didn't expect such a long get-together but I was loath to see guests leave before dinnertime. The pool water was wonderfully warm (thanks to a very effective pool cover) and we didn't stop swimming until 5:30pm, more than four hours after the swim instructor left. Then we had pizza with homemade toppings (you should try roasting thinly-sliced red onion and green peppers with some olive oil in the oven then putting them on top of a plain cheese pizza -- heavenly!), popcorn, and sorbet. We also had the kids watch the classic 1984 film The NeverEnding Story for the first time. They were scared at times but they loved it.

And that, to me, is what a memorable summer is all about. :-)

xo, Gladys

Friday, July 6, 2012

PSA: Fluevog Summer Sale

Châtelet (Rules family) in green

My favorite Fluevog Shoes is having their semiannual (summer) sale starting TODAY. They have a very nice selection of the recent Spring 2012 and Fall 2011 styles at up to 60% off.

Just a friendly tip: prices usually drop further after a few weeks, so you can wait it out if you're willing to risk it. However, because certain styles (and sizes) are very popular and will go fast at the first hint of a discount, you might end up waiting too long.

Also, don't forget to check out their Clearance pages for your size. Note that Fluevog sizing can vary from style to style, so it's definitely worth contacting the friendly folks at any Fluevog store via email or phone for sizing concerns. Happy hunting!

xo, Gladys

4th of July Outfit

My photo essay of a great day and night with dear friends and family:

Dress: Chuti via ModCloth | Belt: taken from another dress (via Amazon) | Sandals: Worishofer via Amazon

xo, Gladys
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