Tuesday, August 20, 2013

(Some Literal) Navel Gazing

I've got to admit it: I've been struggling for some time now with blogging. Not really with the why of it, but the how.

Sometime in the past two months -- I'm not sure when exactly it happened -- I stopped reading other blogs regularly so I no longer feel much inspiration to share. Sometimes, it's like I don't even know how to put together a post. But this is probably what happened: I quit sewing temporarily at the start of summer because I needed to make sure the house was always ready for guests during our swim lessons here. Then my regular reading of sewing blogs petered out since I wasn't quite as interested anymore. But because I'm a voracious reader, that reading vacuum was filled by news and political editorials as well as a return to my large TBR piles of genre novels. (And thanks to that, I haven't slept well since June.) I'm not really interested in doing book reviews here, however, nor do I see this as a space to rant and rave on politics.

The end result is that I don't have anything to post about on a regular basis. Sure, you've gotten vacation photos and you know about my Fluevog visits/binges. But nothing regular like when I'd have a sewing project done every couple of weeks. I don't even take outfit photos that much anymore because I don't dress up that much. It's just too hot! (Also, no weddings or new babies this year.) And when I do take photos, it's like I've forgotten how to pose -- not that I ever really knew how, but I used to feel more comfortable in front of the camera.

Now that my kid has started kindergarten, I'd like to get back into sewing a bit. There's so much else to do, though, like going back to my dissertation, volunteering at my kid's classroom, and continuing with yoga. Did I tell you I've been doing yoga for the past month? Just once a week, but so far so good. I do it with friends, which is nice. I stopped singing lessons at the beginning of this month because of the stress of dealing with the fallout of my husband's car accident and of preparing for the beginning of the school year. For me, yoga is way better than singing lessons for de-stressing.

I'm hoping the coming fall season will bring back some inspiration. As a weekly classroom volunteer, I might start wearing some of my dresses to school. My son goes to a uniform-policy school, so all of the teachers wear pretty nice outfits everyday. It would be a good opportunity to dress up. :-)

As for sewing, I have a project that I'd like to start and finish this week. If I manage to complete it, I'll take some pics and blog about it.

Finally, here are a couple of outfits I wore recently.

Romper: Prim I Am via ModCloth | Shoes: TOMS via Zulily

The romper was worn to a ladies' night out; we watched the 1980s film Dirty Dancing -- a little cheesy but truly one of the most romantic movies EVER -- for the local movie theater's Classics Series. I still have that famous last song and dance on the brain, "(I've Had the) Time of My Life." The film depicts the early Sixties with the characters wearing some gorgeous resort wear with a Fifties feel. The high-waisted bottom of my romper was appropriate, but not the loose top, and overall the outfit looks Seventies instead. Oh well. At least I finally wore the romper in public; it's been over a year since I bought it. It's actually quite comfortable, good for lounging around at home, but I'm laughing a little in the photo because I know it looks dorky (and I felt dorky wearing it, plus I didn't like the shoes. Not that comfy. I'm not a TOMS fan, I must say).

Top: Freebird via ModCloth | Skirt: Old Navy | Shoes: Fluevog Amie via Amazon

This brown, beige, and cream outfit is something you may remember from my trip to Hawai'i last October. I wore it again for a kid birthday party in the park, this time with Fluevog flats. It was appropriately loose and comfortable for a warm, humid day in Long Beach. No doubt I was remembering the heat and humidity of Hawai'i when I was putting the outfit together. 100% cotton is always a good choice for that kind of weather.

xo, Gladys

Monday, August 19, 2013

PSA #2: ModCloth Last Hurrah Summer Sale

Oh dear, the 70% off Last Hurrah Sale is on at ModCloth! Um, I may or may not have gotten a couple of things already. Okay fine, I did. I mean, come on, 70% off! I had to at least peek at what was available. But hurry hurry hurry, because things go FAST during these sales. Something got pulled from my online cart while I was still shopping, and I'm still bummed about it (a fun mustard-colored top with a cute ribbon at the nape). Sigh. Happy hunting!

(Do keep in mind that these items are now FINAL SALE, no returns accepted. So please go through the reviews as much as you can.)

Daily Double-Take Dress $13.99 SALE

xo, Gladys

Friday, August 9, 2013

PSA ModCloth Summer Sale

You know how much I love ModCloth, right? I'd be remiss if I didn't share that they're having a 50% off Summer Sale right now. Bathing suits, sandals, and of course cuuuute dresses. For desert climates like mine, there's still plenty of summer left, months and months (even if my kid has already started school!). So tempting! I want another summer/spring dress.

Cottage in the Country Dress

xo, Gladys

First Day of Kindergarten

I couldn't help but post these photos of my baby's first day of kindergarten. He started yesterday and oh man, what an emotional day. I managed not to cry when I dropped him off, but I did cry a bit once he was home again and I could give him cuddles and kisses. I was so proud. His personality is generally low-key and the fact that he seemed satisfied when I picked him up -- and not upset about anything -- was a good sign. This little guy is my first and only child, so it was a big moment for us. Last year, he went to a pretty small preschool for barely 3 hours a day, so a full 6-hour day at a large primary school is quite scary. At least the kindergarteners have their special area where older kids are not allowed. The bigger kids are just so ... large. He's probably the smallest kid in his class, counting both boys and girls, and he's very quiet when not at home or with close family and friends. I worry about him speaking up, being heard, paying attention, remembering where he put his stuff, going to the restroom when he feels the urge, making new friends, having a good relationship with his teacher, everything. I'm glad that he's got several old friends from preschool to play with again, although the majority are not in his class.

I'm planning to volunteer in his classroom once we're allowed. I honestly never thought I'd be a volunteer parent; mine never volunteered at our school when we were growing up because they were always at work. (And let's face it: they weren't all that interested. They were basically the throw-you-into-the-deep-end-of-the-pool-and-see-if-you-learn-to-swim kind of parents. I'm still alive, though, right? Lol) But I hear it's quite fun to do it, and it's something to look forward to this coming year.

I want to laugh when I see this picture. I totally wanted to take more photos but he started giving me this face, like, "Oh come on, Mom! You're not seriously going to take anymore pictures?" so I restrained myself. At least we got a couple of good ones. My precious baby is growing up!

xo, Gladys

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Magical Lavender Fog

Here's a closer look at what I wore to the Ilona Andrews book event in San Diego over the weekend. Notice my new haircut? I was SOOO happy to see my stylist again last week. (Also, she's pregnant, and it was great to see her doing well.) I've decided to grow out my bangs and they are at that annoying-and-awkward stage where I can't trim them too much or I'll have to restart at square one, yet they always seem to be in my eyes. At least I was able to have the rest of my hair cut pretty short, and once again I am reminded how much I prefer it this length, just down to my jaw.

Top: Tommy Hilfiger (hand-me-down from Mom) | Capri jeans: Sonoma via Kohl's | Shoes: Fluevog Angela (ON SALE)

I also got to wear my new maryjane Fluevogs for the first time. Since I figured we wouldn't be doing a ton of walking, I decided it was a good day to start breaking them in. I used foot-length insoles and they worked wonderfully for me since the shoes are slightly big. (My right foot was a little more smushed because it's larger, but it wasn't too noticeable.) Because I wore the shoes for over 12 hours, the soles of my feet felt a little raw when I took them off that night, but I do believe wearing them for a whole day went a long way toward breaking them in. The leather on these shoes is pretty firm, so there is indeed a break-in period for them.

Anyway, they were the perfect shoes to accompany me to a store called Mysterious Galaxy, which specializes in fantasy and science fiction. The lavender and silvery-gray look like magical fog, don't you think? What fun shoes for a fun day!

xo, Gladys

P.S. Today is my husband's birthday, and tomorrow my 5-year-old starts big-kid school! What a huge week for us. Happy birthday to my dear one, and good luck to us on the first day of school. I'm as nervous as if I was the one starting.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Ilona Andrews in San Diego

Posing with the husband-wife writing team, Ilona Andrews

I don't talk a lot about my reading habits on this blog, but it's one of my favorite hobbies in the world and I will always have books to fall back on. It's my fantasy to live in a huge house with its own dedicated library room (kind of like the Beast's library in the Disney Beauty and the Beast). If only, right? Reading was my first love growing up and I even wanted to make a career out of it once; after all, I was a graduate student in English for a long time.

But I definitely don't read high-falutin' books all that much anymore. These days, my reading diet consists mostly of genre fiction. Confession: I ended up as a graduate student in literature partly because I was a romance-novel junkie in my formative years. I moved to the United States from the Philippines when I was about seven years old, and in the ensuing years, I became adept at reading, writing, spelling, and speaking English mostly because I read romance novels all the time. You know, the racy but quick-reading Harlequin Presents stuff. Then I moved on to longer stand-alone historicals, contemporary romances, and then paranormal romances (a subgenre which exploded into the publishing scene back when I was a late teenager). In the middle of all that, I also read the more age-appropriate The Baby-sitters Club series and the occasional sci-fi/fantasy and young adult book (think Norma Klein and Lois Lowry), but it's really the romances that got me started. Once I read Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre in 8th grade, I was hooked into a literate and literary life for good.

In the mid-1990s, while in my tender high school years, I found Laurell K. Hamilton and became a fan of dark urban fantasy. When I got tired of the constant sexxx0ring in the later books of her Anita Blake series, I looked around and found Kim Harrison, who introduced me to a funner and funnier version of the subgenre (I highly recommend her Hollows/Rachel Morgan series -- start with Dead Witch Walking). That led me to several other authors later on, particularly Ilona Andrews, whose Kate Daniels series also had a lot of biting humor and excellent romantic tension that never took over the plotting or world-building.

Reading these novels was my little secret for a long time. You may not know how many people scoff when they hear me talk about romance novels. And this is from people who've never read any (sorry, Jane Austen doesn't count). Only my older sister and one of her friends ever read genre fiction the way I did, and my sister now reads mostly contemporary literary fiction. So you can imagine my surprise and delight when my son and I visited his classmate's house for a playdate last year and I found that his mother's bookcases carried TONS of genre fiction, with lots of crossovers with my own collection. Michelle, the classmate's mom, used to be a young adult services librarian, and she even has a book review blog documenting her prolific reading. We've been exchanging books since then, and I have been happy to get lots of recommendations from her. I slowed down my personal reading quite a bit while working on grad school projects, and it didn't pick up again until this summer, when I managed to knock off at least 6 novels plus several novellas from my mountainous TBR (to-be-read) pile since July. (That's a lot for me, by the way. I'm not a fast reader by any means.) I even re-read a couple of books to remember context. I just wish I didn't need sleep! Anyway, Michelle is a huge fan of Ilona Andrews books, and when she told me about their upcoming visit to San Diego and invited me to go down with her, I said yes.

It turned out to be a grand experience. Her friend Becca kindly drove us down to the awesome independent bookstore, Mysterious Galaxy, and then we met up with Maggie, one of Michelle's blogger friends, after the talk and signing. The talk was really an hour-long Q&A with the husband and wife team that is Ilona Andrews. Ilona is a Russian immigrant with a charming accent and really fun sense of humor, and Andrew is an ex-military guy with a quieter but complementary kind of humor. They were so wry and funny together, and you could see how it's possible that they haven't killed each other working so closely together everyday. It was also fun to see how each of their personalities is built into their characters, especially Kate and Curran (if you're familiar with the series). What was truly wonderful, though, was how nice they were in person. They were so generous with their time, signing ALL the books that people brought/bought, and then taking a little extra time to take photos with their readers. Even though they must be exhausted from traveling (Ilona said she has a lot of anxiety flying on airplanes), they are so good with their fans. If you'd like to get a taste of their writing, you can check out their blog where they have hilarious posts as well as free stuff you can read.

We ended the outing with sushi and a visit to a huge used-book/CD/DVD emporium called Book-Off, which was conveniently across the street from the yummy sushi place we found via Google Local. We stuffed ourselves ridiculously full (I didn't take photos of the spicy seaweed poke salad I polished off) then treated ourselves to even more books. Gah!!

Aside from requiring such long drives (special thanks to Becca for getting us there and back safely as well as going to the nearby Japanese grocery and providing us with fun candy snacks to keep us awake on the drive home), it was a perfect day with new friends that nourished mind and body both. Bonding over good books and good food is no small thing. What a great way to cap off my summer vacation.

xo, Gladys

Friday, August 2, 2013

Fluevog Love: Fall 2013 on Melrose Part 1

Happy August! It's technically the middle of summer in my part of the world, but it already feels like autumn. Weather-wise, it's still very warm here -- so why the cognitive dissonance? Well, my son will be starting kindergarten in less than a week, can you believe it? (I'm a little disgruntled about how early school starts for him, but whatever.) Also, the end of July/early August also means something else for me: the new Fall 2013 collection of Fluevogs has started to arrive in stores. Woohoo!

Last weekend, we were in the Hollywood/Koreatown area to buy a used car my husband found via Craigslist. (I'm happy to say it turned out well, even though the whole process caused anxiety and nervousness all around.) But the day was made much better by a trip to the Fluevog L.A. store on Melrose. I wanted to come in to take care of some layaway business and also to try on some of the new Fall shoes that have started trickling in. I tried on only 7 women's styles from the new collection last Saturday -- there were at least 5 more that I didn't get to -- so this is just a sampling of the gorgeous new colors and textures. At least one fantastic new family, too. (I have a full review/writeup about my recent visit over at For the Love of Vogs and Joanne, one of the co-bloggers there, has her own reviews as well.)

The Fluevog website currently lists only a fraction of what's already available at the stores, but I know that even more will be arriving throughout this month. I've been following the sneak previews via the FlueBlog and Facebook, and I know with absolute certainty that this Fall is going to be an amazing collection. Fluevog has been hitting it out of the park for the last couple of seasons, and this new one is going to be another winner. Here, let me just show you.

Half Truth | Crystal in red. Size 6.

Half Truth | Tanya in purple. Size 6. These photograph blue for some reason. I tinkered with the photo but it turned the whole image orange-ish, as you see.

Half Truth is the new family of Fluevog shoes I'm talking about. Aren't they gorgeous? Sleek, elegant, edgy. Love it! I'm a huge fan of kitten heels; added to this shape of shoe, they are genius. And if you look closely, the Crystal booties have a safety pin with a skull charm. Lol. Imagine wearing these with pencil skirts, perhaps big poufy skirts for a more prim look, and definitely jeans with a jewel-toned top. These will step up any outfit. They run true to size length-wise but are narrow.

Kitschy Kitschy Boom Boom | Viv in brown/navy. Size 6.

The Kitschy Kitschy Boom Boom family is growing! Remember the Liz from last season and how much I loved them? These oxfords are in the same family. Originally, I wasn't impressed by this particular colorway, but after I tried them on, I don't know what I was thinking. The blue is actually more navy than the photo above suggests, but it is still a nice, sharp color that contrasts beautifully with the blond-brown. Also, the piping and dots are sky blue. So, so, so uniquely pretty. Sizing is short 1/2 size but wide. I like the size 6 on my 5.5 feet, but maybe it would be smart to go up another half size if you plan to wear thick socks/tights with these in the fall and winter.

Baroque | Rubens in blue. Size 5.

Baroque | Rubens in green. Size 5.

The Rubens runs a half size small, so I was very happy to see size 5's at the Melrose store. And did you notice the blue Rubens two photos above? That's TARDIS blue, is what it is. The Rubens is a staple in Fluevogdom, particularly in the black and burgundy colorways. I actually put the burgundy with its ornate stamped suede and burgundy leather on layaway in June. Very lovely shoes that I had been drooling over from afar for years now. Those hexagonal heels are works of art. However, after trying on the blue and getting some feedback from fellow Vogers, I've decided to switch over. To jump ship, if you'll allow mixed metaphors. No stamped suede on the blue but just as beautiful -- and more meaningful to my geeky Whovian heart. TARDIS shoes, here I come! I plan to make them my special holiday shoes this year. Already thinking about what dress to wear them with. *rubs hands together in glee*

Bellevue | Libby Smith in patent burgundy/gray. Size 6. Not yet available online. Other colorway here.

Speaking of fancy shoes, get a load of these boots. Um, that patent burgundy is ridiculous. This colorway is also available in another Fall 2013 style of Bellevue, the Laura Evans, but not in as striking a fashion. Need some inspiration for a fancy steampunk ballgown costume? Look no further! I'm sure these would also look amazing in other venues, but seriously, the venues need to live up to these shoes!

Prepare | Leader in purple. Size 6.

There's something special about the Prepare family. I love my blue Guides which are the slingback version of these maryjanes, and I think this new colorway is fantastic. I like the way these look at the end of my legs; they balance my thicker calves by elongating my leg and making my short, flat feet look bigger than they are. And that pop of color on the soles is just lovely. These run true to size, maybe a little small. I could make these size 6 shoes work with insoles, but I would probably take a size 5.5 if I bought them.

Hopeful | Luxon in burgundy. Size 6.

And yet another adorable shoe in the Hopeful family. The Luxons came out last Fall, and they fit 1/2 size small. I like the look of these, but they'd fit better if I had higher/thicker arches. There's weird ruching at the inside of the straps which means they're a little loose there. Dealer Kate says it's fixable at the cobbler's, but yes that means adding another $30 to the cost of the shoes. If they fit you nicely, however, you'd be lucky to get them! This is a really great color for fall and winter.

* * *

Of course I couldn't leave the store without checking out the fantastic sale shoes still available. You see, I changed my mind about the striking Faraday slingback heels I had put on layaway in May (they're on a great sale now, btw). Remember how gaga we went over them? How I feel about them hasn't changed, but I did realize that once I took them home, they'd probably languish in my closet like too many other Fluevogs before them. I have a tendency to look at Fluevog shoes like an art collector, and I simply can't justify that. For one thing, I don't have unlimited funds (if only!), and for another, the shoes need to be worn. That's the reason I sold 8 pairs of Fluevogs via the FlueMarket just this past year. It's silly to hoard Fluevogs and not wear them. And the Faradays, with their steel toes and sleek design, deserve to be out in the world kicking ass everywhere. My current lifestyle doesn't warrant the Faradays.

So I converted my layaway into store credit, which I ended up using. With my sights trained on the coming fall season, I decided to stick to flats. I also wanted flat maryjanes if possible. I tried on several pairs and here's what I ended up with.

7th Heaven | Angela in acid purple. Size 6.

I found that the 7th Heaven | Angela fit me better than I thought; I had tried them on in the green colorway back in May as well and thought that they were too loose, but I managed to secure the purple colorway so that I didn't have to worry about stepping out of them whenever I walked. These run 1/2 size short but wide. I think they're absolutely adorable. I loved the green colorway but I now have way more green and its variants (teal, aqua, turquoise) in my collection than I do purple or pink or even gray. These will be fun to wear this fall.

Presence | Imagine in black. Size 7.

After trying on this black pair of art deco gorgeousness, I made up my mind to spend a little extra and take them home as well. I had tried on the lovely aqua colorway back in March and thought that I would buy that colorway if I bought the shoe style at all. However, given that I'd already gotten the aqua Amies, I didn't want to double up on same-color flats. Besides, not only did I want a darker color for the fall, but I also wanted fancy black shoes that weren't heels, and these fit the bill. They've already been taken out for light contra dancing, and they held up well. They probably need another couple of wears to completely break in. They run about 1.5 sizes too small, though, so definitely size up! They'll be great to wear to parties and other events this fall and winter.

xo, Gladys
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