Thursday, February 28, 2013

New Nephew


This is my older sister and her new baby -- her second child and my fourth nephew on my siblings' side. Like his older brother, this little guy was born a few weeks early (I guess that's just how my sister rolls). He is beautiful and precious, and I'm sad we don't live closer so that we can visit easily. FaceTime and Skype just don't cut it. We won't be able to meet him in person until we can visit in late spring/early summer. I can't wait for our vacation!

xo, Gladys

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sewing PSA

There is currently a $1.88 pattern sale going on at Butterick/McCall's/Vogue Patterns online, only through this Thursday, February 28, so get cracking!

Check out the Retro Buttericks on sale. I heard about the sale from one of the designers (Gretchen of Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing). Love her newest patterns (see one of them above), and I'm definitely getting them. I'm actually feeling a little overwhelmed going through everything. Besides the retro patterns, I'm getting patterns for kids, especially boys. Have fun!

xo, Gladys

Superhero Me


I got permission from my dear friend Paola to post this awesome pencil drawing that she quickly sketched out one evening, after we had dinner together at her house, of me and herself as comic superheroes. She said she wanted to make sure I had on some cute heels (per my Fluevog addiction), and she laughed when she pointed out how sassy my pose and outfit were compared to her own more-demure avatar (wearing her favorite type of shoes, oxfords). I totally love it, of course. And let's just say that cuteness and strength aren't mutually exclusive. *grin*

I'll add that when I was at her house, she totally helped me prep for my kiddo's upcoming birthday party with her art/craft skills.

File this under #damnivegottalentedfriends.

xo, Gladys

Monday, February 25, 2013

Space Dome

On top of the world

So remember the playground climber that I spotted at our local Costco a couple weeks ago? Yeah, we bought it. I asked my mom and siblings if they'd be willing to pool money with me and my husband to get it for the kiddo's upcoming 5th birthday, and they were like, hell yeah! *grin*

My amazing husband spent much of his free time since then prepping the backyard -- drawing some plans, doing lots of digging, and buying the necessary items to create a mulched area. THEN he started putting together the climber, which comprised a surprising number of pieces and bolts. He braved near-freezing winds to get this done in time, but get it done he did. With some (very) last-minute help from me and the kiddo, the climber aka "Space Dome" (still available here) was ready to be climbed by the end of the day last Friday. And, barring any horrible weather, it should be available for playing during my son's birthday party this coming weekend. (Btw, the theme we decided on? DINOSAURS!)

The lovely mulched area ready and waiting (with random piece of rubber siding that needed to be thrown to the side) (See also the vegetable patch in the background right, also ready to be sown with new seeds in a few weeks!)

My husband hard at work, as usual

All put together and ready to be moved onto the mulch

I think this thing looks so cool. I love the colors, the size, the shape.... It's perfect for our backyard, which we decided not to plant with sod grass and simply leave as dirt. With the vegetable patch and the climber, it's coming along nicely. And I'll admit that I'm excited like a kid about having the climber in my home. :-) I used to love climbing apparatuses like this when I was a kid -- anything where I could hang or swing like a monkey. Now that I'm a creaky old adult, I can no longer climb like I used to, but I have nice flashbacks when I watch my son. Moreover, he's always been a more physically-cautious kid than I was, so this is a great way for him to test and expand his limits on a regular basis. Thanks to his mama-grandma and auntie and uncle for such a great birthday gift!

xo, Gladys

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sewing: Classic Stripe Apron


My love affair with this Lotta Jansdotter reversible apron pattern continues -- it's my FOURTH one so far. (Here are 1 / 2 / 3.) After the first one (for Joanne, who looks ridiculously adorable in hers), I decided to make one for all of my close friends here for their birthdays because the apron looks fabulous on everyone. I have to say, I think it looks a little better on folks with a larger bust area than I do, so my friends have that covered. ;-) Anyway, I've got one more to go later this year.

This one was for super-cute S, who mostly wears solids for a very classic, low-key look. She's a runner and prefers wearing loose, comfy clothing. (I also found out that she loves paperboy caps, which would look great with her current hairstyle. Note to self for her birthday next year.) I almost chose dark brown or black but then decided to use something brighter. It helped that right before I sat down to make the apron, I saw her wearing a lovely red-and-gray striped sweater top; and it looked so great on her, I knew I had to make a fabric run after that. This striped fabric was the closest to that design that I could find. (Jo-Ann's Fabrics seriously needs to carry more striped fabric, especially since they have such a large selection of woven fabric. Anyway.)

Construction-wise, I liked the one large pocket at the thigh area that I made the last time and so I did it again. I also learned my lesson from last time and made sure to buy 1.25 yards of each fabric even though the pattern only calls for 1 yard each. I'm so glad that, this time, there was no scrambling and piecing together different fabrics to make the apron; while it turned out OK for the last apron, it would have ruined the classic look for S's apron.

A small meditation on sewing: I thought that I would get a lot faster sewing this pattern by the fourth time, but sewing is just a time-consuming project. Measuring and cutting take the longest, and perhaps I take longer now because I'm more careful about measuring. BUT, I have shaved off some time since I first made this pattern because 1) I wasn't pulling my hair over the pleats, which I figured out by the second time making the apron, and 2) I didn't need to use my trusty seam ripper at all. Oh, right, I also didn't have to do extra piecing since I had enough fabric. Hooray for the small victories!

xo, Gladys

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentines

This might be the most eventful Valentine's Day I've ever had. But the biggest news is that I am a new auntie!! My older sister -- whose birthday happens to be TODAY -- had her second baby (boy) a couple of days ago, so our whole family is on a high right now. :-D

And in the spirit of sharing some love, this is the first year we made Valentines for my son's classmates. He was in a daycare last year, and I was totally "that parent" or "that mom" who didn't do anything special. In fact, I kind of forgot that it was Valentine's Day, so when I dropped him off and saw all the kids sitting down at their little tables with cupcakes in front of them, I was confused. Yup, that mom.

But this time, we printed out some cool Superman and Wonder Woman Lego Valentines and added a sucker for each of the kiddo's classmates. Look how cool they turned out!


I actually found this great idea (with the printable photos!) a year ago and managed to remember it in time. And since we got a color printer for Xmas, it was easy to crank these out. The hardest part? Getting my son to write the names of his classmates on the back of the photos. He's still shaky with the writing but also has a perfectionist personality; mix the two together and it can get a little ugly! However, it was worth it. I think these are awesome.


Speaking of which, here are more awesome Valentines. My mom gave my son some yummy See's chocolate in a heart-shaped box -- we demolished the chocolate pretty quickly. ;-) But I had to share this very cute Valentine box from my husband, who said he couldn't resist getting it for me since he knows how drawn I am to owls. And it is ADORABLE. I love how the owl's wings swing up to show the word "love" on its belly. And even better, the box is filled with yummy brownies and cookies from Mrs. Fields. (It's an FTD.com item that's no longer available.)


Finally, these two cards came in the mail for us. The one on the left is actually from my son, who made it in school (yeah, I'm just going to ignore the typo there). Then his teacher had him drop it off in the mailbox after it was addressed and stamped. That was last Thursday. Needless to say, we got the card a few days early.

The one on the right is from my friend Dorothy of the MotleyFlue, who is a huge lover of Valentine's Day and offered to send a card to anyone who wanted it. I asked her to send one to my son, and I just love what she wrote. What a sweet, lovely message. Thank you, dear Dorothy!


Happy Valentine's Day to one and all!

xo, Gladys

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Recipe: Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Since I stopped regularly baking with wheat flour over a year ago, one of the things I've tried to do is find an alternative paleo, primal, or, at the very least, gluten-free recipe to replace chocolate chip cookies. I often enjoy the treats that I make, including almond butter and coconut flour cookies. However, it wasn't until recently that I found a recipe that passed muster with my son, who can tell immediately whether the cookies I bake are "healthy" or not. (And unfortunately he prefers the non-healthy kind.)

This recipe is very quick to make, with simple measurements and no elbow grease required to "cream" the butter and sugar substitutes (melted coconut oil and honey mix quite easily together). It also has no eggs, so even eating the batter is pretty safe. My son makes this with me and he always asks to lick the spoon.

Some of my changes: I use dairy milk because I usually don't have almond milk at hand, and I also use semi-sweet chocolate chips. My cookies look more like the traditional wheat flour cookies and different from the original, which is likely because I flatten mine into the traditional cookie shape before baking, and because we use different almond meals/flours (mine is the blanched almond meal flour made by Honeyville Farms). I'm sure it would taste just fine without the almond meal being blanched.


Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Running to the Kitchen

Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond flour/meal
  • 1 Tbsp almond milk (or other nut milk, or dairy milk)
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips (use more as desired)

Method

Preheat oven 350F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper if desired. Except for chocolate, mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Stir in chocolate. Drop batter in 1 flat Tbsp at a time, leaving 1.5 to 2 inches between each cookie. You may roll the dough into a ball first, then flatten into cookie shape with palm once on the cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the bottom edge starts to darken.

Take out of the oven and allow to cool and solidify for 5-10 minutes, as the cookies will be very soft right after baking. The longer you let them cool, the firmer they will be. I prefer them a little soft and chewy, so a 5- to 10-minute cooling period is just right for me.

Enjoy!


xo, Gladys

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sewing: Oliver + S Tote Redux

It was an unusually busy week for me last week, and only now do I feel like I can breathe deeply again. In between various errands, dental appointments, impromptu babysitting, an appointment with an accountant, a birthday lunch, a birthday party, and a school field trip with my son, I managed to squeeze in some time for a couple of sewing projects. Here's one of them, an Oliver + S Mother-Daughter tote (free pattern) for my niece's 8th birthday.


If that sounds familiar, it's because I used this same pattern before to make totes for my 9-year-old twin nieces last fall (all three young ladies are cousins). Here's the purple tote:


As you can see, I tweaked the pattern by using one large stripe for the middle instead of two smaller ones, and using the same complementary solid-color fabric for the bottom, top stripe, and handles. While I loved the original patchwork feel, I was going for a different, more elegant look. I was inspired by the dragonfly/butterfly fabric and knew that I couldn't simply use it as an unrecognizable stripe on the tote. So instead I decided to "frame" it and make it the centerpiece. (If you're interested in how I dealt with the dimensions, I simply added the height dimensions of the two middle stripes, from 3.25 inches each to one larger piece that was 6.5 inches. The height dimension of the lining had to be increased two inches to 23 inches. The rest of the dimensions remained the same, but the change resulted in a slightly taller tote than the original.) I think the tote turned out wonderfully, and this time around I was more meticulous about cutting the pieces and doing any necessary trimming as I went along so that the seam edges matched as closely as possible (though unfortunately still not perfect).



Here's a closeup of the awesome dragonfly/butterfly fabric, superimposed with different handwritten designs appearing to be the work of a natural historian or entomologist. The fabric design is both lovely and intellectual, and I thought it would be appropriate for a youngster who is exceedingly bright.


I don't have a photo of the inside lining, but for some fun I used this colorful stripey fabric which might look familiar to long-time readers. I used the same fabric to make an art smock from another Oliver + S pattern last summer. For this tote, I had the stripes going horizontally since it looked better that way. I wanted to use a colorful fabric for the lining because I personally get a kick out of seeing polka-dotted or brightly-colored linings in elegant leather purses or wallets. The contrast makes me feel like I've got a fun little secret, like when I wear bright patterned socks underneath pants or boots. Just one of the things that float my boat. :-)


xo, Gladys

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Party Ideas

My son's 5th birthday is coming up in less than a month and we're still trying to figure out the theme. Superheroes? Dinosaurs? Crafts? Spring and the outdoors? One of his classmates just had a Lego birthday recently or it would have been our first choice. Of course we might just rehash it. Our kid lives and breathes Legos on a daily basis. Last year we had two parties, two piƱatas, and two themes (Lego Star Wars and Mickey Mouse). This year, I feel burned out. My husband says we should just do a "generic" party theme -- bright colors, balloons, and a cake. I'm thinking maybe we should also add lots of prizes so that every kid goes home with a prize that they won (maybe instead of the usual party favor bags).

Anyway, all I know for sure is that we're having cupcakes AND ice cream cake.

A very cool homemade cake from his classmate's Lego-themed birthday a couple of weeks ago

One of the coolest things I've seen in a while (except it's really expensive for a polyester shirt)

We saw this at Costco and were sorely tempted. Sometimes I think Costco will be the death of our family wallet. (Fluevog will be the death of my personal one.)

And here's a bonus photo of the kiddo with some friends:

Hanging out and contra dancing with a few of his closest friends

xo, Gladys

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Doctor Who Tees

I have a confession. I've been buying fan-art Doctor Who t-shirts almost whenever I come across them. It's all Facebook's fault. While on FB one day in November, I noticed one of the ads with a Doctor Who-themed tee on it, and of course I clicked. The link took me to a site called TeeFury, which sells a different t-shirt design each day for $10. You only have 24 hours to buy that particular t-shirt. For one day after that, if there are still some left, you can buy the t-shirt for $13 ... but there is a new t-shirt design on the front page. The thing is, it's a geek/nerd/fangirl's paradise for t-shirts, with lots of clever mashups and fantastic illustration, everything from Star Trek to Star Wars, Adventure Time, X-Files, Indiana Jones, Breaking Bad, Hello Kitty, Harry Potter, Big Bang Theory, and lots of other cultural phenomena that I'm less familiar with. Check out their gallery of past designs. It's insane.

(Click on the images below to go to the TeeFury site.)

So I snagged the one that Facebook linked to that day -- with the TARDIS framed by all of the Doctor's enemies -- and I've been hooked since. I've bought four other tees to date. That's a lot of graphic tees for someone like me who usually acquires that many over the course of a year!

One of them made me laugh: Daleks, the Doctor's worst enemy, pretending to be the Doctor of different incarnations. I can just imagine that loud, grating, robotic voice plaintively shouting "Im-per-son-ate! Im-per-son-ate!" (instead of the usual "Ex-ter-min-ate!" in case you didn't know).

This tee I oh-so-generously gifted to Shirl, one of the MotleyFlue, who is also a DW fan like me. The tee depicts the verrry-hot David Tennant as the 10 of Hearts (being the 10th Doctor). Swoon.

My most recent purchase was a twofer, since it was a competition between two Doctor Who tees -- the one to the left is called "Bad Landing" and below that is "Time Fiction" (after Pulp Fiction, get it? *g*). I liked them both and since they were the usual $10 each I decided to go for it.

Given that the official DW tees from ThinkGeek cost twice as much (and the designs aren't as clever as TeeFury's fan-made designs), these are a steal. Plus I like the feel of the fabric itself, which is a soft stretchy cotton knit. I'm usually a size Small but I buy the women's tee in Medium, and it's comfortable and a little loose (which is what I prefer in the "baby tee" style) rather than form-fitting.

There are even a few DW designs that I missed and sort of regret:

Most recently the River Song tee. I love River Song's character. I wasn't in love with this particular design (it barely looks like her) but there are so few RS items that depict her face/body that now I wish I'd gotten it. Oh well.

Then there's this totally adorable design made to look like a knit sweater pattern. It would have been the perfect cheeky graphic tee for winter. I'm not sure how I missed this but I'm sorry about it.

And this one didn't strike me as that interesting at first, but 1) it's a different color than the usual black or navy blue of the other TeeFury tees offered and 2) I'm a fan of French, of David Tennant's Doctor (who said this phrase all the time), and of the typography wrapped around the sonic screwdriver. Why in the world didn't I buy it? I think maybe it was because it was too subtle. At the time it came out, I probably wanted my graphic tees to loudly and obviously proclaim my love for DW. Now I wish I had this one as well.

And by the way, I did buy some Doctor Who fabric from Spoonflower in December, just a couple of fat quarters (this and this). I still haven't figured out what to do with them -- people have made aprons, clutches, purses, and tote bags among other things. We'll see what finally inspires me. :-)

xo, Gladys

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Happy in Green

I meant to get this post up a couple of days ago, but the week has been a little crazy with both my husband and kiddo getting sick. Anyway, these happy scenes make me feel a little better. :-)

Wearing Tulle Los Angeles dress and Ya Los Angeles cardigan, both via ModCloth, to my twin nephews' baptism. I also wore my green Fluevog Elizabeth heels but didn't get a photo of it. 

With one of the precious babies and my mom and sister

At Buca di Beppo for lunch: One of my favorite things about being a mom -- free kisses :-)

Here we are with the other precious twin, a week later ... unfortunately the babies were sick with RSV, and I do believe that's when my son contracted his cold.

Sometimes I can't get over how long my son's eyelashes are. He gets them from his dad, obviously. I mean, it's really unfair. They even CURL UP naturally. And does he care? Nope. He just wants to play his Legos and his Angry Birds cars.
xo, Gladys
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