Monday, August 31, 2009

Little Pretties

My mother in law was in town over the weekend and I planned a craft/pizza night on Friday. We made pizzas a la Smitten Kitchen and flower hair pins via Refabulous' fantastic tutorial.

I've seen these types of shabby, weathered flowers all over Etsy and Craftster, but I had no idea they were so simple and fun to make! You just singe the edges of polyester circles, stack them up and sew a bead or button in as a center. If you plan to try this at home, be sure to check out Refabulous' tutorial. She's even got a super helpful video up of the singeing process.

I picked up a slew of polyester lining fabrics in gorgeous colors at Joann's; candles, clothespins and bobby pins at the pharmacy next door and we were ready to go! We used buttons and pearls from my collection as centers, and the rest of the materials (thread, needles, E6000 glue) crafters are likely to have on hand already.

The flowers were easy and quick to make and came out beautifully! I put together 5 in the blink of an eye, and the next day made several more tiny bobby flowers in about 30 mintues time. They're super cute, quick and easy and fun to make! Can you guess what LOTS of girls on my list will be getting for Christmas? ;)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Quite Possibly The Best Birthday Gift Ever

My husband. Seriously. This guy is freaking amazing. I'm not easily surprised . . . mainly because a) I am pretty forthcoming with gift ideas for birthdays and the like and b) I'm a nosy bastard. My Boy manages to pull off surprises, GOOD ONES! with pretty alarming regularity nonetheless.

Take, for instance, my birthday gift. A vintage, 1960's era souvenir locket bracelet from Disneyland. Something I love SO! MUCH! that I can't imagine now it has NEVER OCCURED TO ME to go looking for one. He knows me better than I know myself sometimes.

Just check out this gorgeous thing:

I wore it to Disneyland all three days I went last week and opened it up regularly to compare and contrast the 1960's park to today's. So much fun!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Project Runway, Early Opinions


(Why, YES, I did ride Pirates of the Carribean three times this week.)

So! It was a pretty good episode! Awesome bits inlcude:

- Watching the designers shop at Mood in LA which was WALKING DISTANCE from the apartment I lived in before I got married. WALKING distance, yo.

- Hearing that Ra'mon left med school where he was studying neurosurgery to persue fashion. Um, RAD!

- Blazing So. Cal sun for the requisite rooftop / pre competeition / champagne scene. Gorgoeus, gorgeous, gorgeous footage . . . and it made me So! Excited! about Runway coming to my hometown!

After scoping the first epidose I've got a few early favorites:

- Nicholas: He didn't catch my attention upfront, but I really liked his first challenege dress and OMG YOU GUYS check out his prior work on Runway's website. It is all gothic angel wings and armor. LOVE!

- Ra'mon: See aforementioned nerd points. And the pleating on his first-challenge gown was HOT.

AND NOW FOR THE TRASH TALKING! Hooray! Trash talking!

- Qristal: Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Her model looked like Target and Payless simultaneously barfed on her. And a quick glance at her online portfolio reveals gems like this one:

All I'm sayin' is I know a little site called What Not To Crochet and I bet be they'd be mighty interested in that photo.

- Johnny: Needs to shut the fuck up. I don't even care if he's a decent designer . . . all has been eclipsed by his whinging.

What did you all think of the show? Assuming everyone watched it because, HELLO IT IS PROJECT RUNWAY!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Oh, hai! Back from Vacay!

Boy and I had a fantastic, fantastic time! We drove up to Anaheim on Sunday afternoon and checked in to the Anabella Hotel. Our room was teh gorgeous. We went to dinner that night at Tortilla Jo's in Downtown Disney where I had positively life-changing veggie enchilladas. Like, woah, were they good. We ended up the night with drinks at the Grand Californian which we sipped while searching for the many hidden Mickeys in the hotel lobby. Found seven of 'em too!

The next day was our first day in the parks. We did a ton of rides we don't normally do: Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin for the first time ever, the Tiki Room which I haven't done since I was a kid, the Canoes and the usual favorites like The Haunted Mansion, Pirates and the Jungle Cruise (at night, of course!).

My good friend Tara and her husband have passes as well, so they joined us for dinner and a few rides at night. We all went on the new Toy Story Midway Mania at CA Adventure which was FANTASTIC fun! It is an interactive game ride with shooting, scoring and points all in 3D!

Tuesday was my actual birthday, and since we already had tickets to the park I was able to get a $72 Birthday Fun Card in place of free admission. $72. For free. To spend at Disneyland. HOW COOL IS THAT?! We spent a lot of that day SHOPPING, obviously. I came home with a pair of Minnie sweatpants, a Nightmare Before Christmas car coffee cup and a killer Nightmare sleeve for my new laptop.

All in all, a pretty freaking great birthday!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Theme Park Proof Makeup

I've been investing a lot of time (and MONEY!) lately in trying to find makeup products that actually stick. The whole plan being that I'll be able to enjoy our Disneyland time without worrying that I'll look pale and ghosty in all our pictures (which has TOTALLY HAPPENED BEFORE.) Yep, guys. It is true. This is what I spend my time thinking about. Disneyland-proof makeup.

You can go ahead and remove me from your Google reader now, I'll understand.

You might want to read this next bit first though. I really seem to have found a magical combo!

- I start with SPF 70 (So that I may remain pale and ghostly). I've been using Coppertone NutraShield lately which is great because it has all sorts of fancy skincare ingredients mixed in and ergo reduces my anxiety about skipping additional moisturizer underneath.

- Key trick here! I wait at least 20 minutes between sunblock and makeup and before I start the makeup I USE BLOTTING PAPERS. Blotting papers BEFORE makeup. I consider myself some kind of mad genius for coming up with this (who cares if I'm not the first!) Using the blotting papers pre-makeup seriously, seriously makes everything last longer, as makeup has an oil free canvas to adhere to. I use Boots Expert Shine Control Papers from Target.

- Then I use a magical product . . . tinted moisturizer and primer all in one. Too Faced Primed and Poreless. Primer is the key to making makeup stay put. I'm not big on full on foundation, opting instead for tinted moisturizer most of the time. Primer then tinted moisturizer (on top of sunblock, mind you) just seems like an oil slick waiting to happen. Thats why this Too Faced primer is soooo far superior, in my opinion, to any other primer I've seen on the market: it is tinted. Just enough to gloss over minor imperfections and make my skin look clean and fresh in one step.

- Next I use my favorite Nars blush and Benefit concealer, which both stick like magic on top of the primer.

- Then I set everything with a dusting of Bare Minerals Hydrating Mineral Veil. This powder is fantastic for girls with dryer skin like mine. It sets makeup and gives a softly diffused finish without looking chalky or feeling tight. It has the perfect teensy bit of shimmer which is gorgeously dewy on the skin . . . even in broad sunlight.

- Next up is another magical primer from Too Faced: Shadow Insurance. If you take none of my advice, take this. This primer is MAGICAL. It makes any eyeshaddow bulletproof. I have worn it through the day with nary a crease, then GONE HIKING in the evening after work without having removed my makeup first. SWEAR ON MY LIFE, even after a full workday and a hike, my eyeshadow looked exactly like it did when I applied it in the morning. MAGICAL, I tell you. Go buy now.

- Then I put on any old eyeshadow. My favorites are taupe/mushroom/shimmer-y shades like Bare Minerals Celestine, an old Stila trio that seems to be discontinued, but looks very similar to their Champagne Glow trio, and Elizabeth Arden's shadow in Smoke. I use the primer under my lashline and on the inner corners of my eyes, so the shadow says when I line below my eye and put a speck of shimmery pale shadow in my inner corners.

- Then waterproof mascara. I have one from Stila called Lash Visor that lasts all day without budging. I also quickly darken my brows with good old Maybelline brow pencil.

- Then for lipstick . . . there's the hard bit. Long lasting lipsticks really don't work, do they? Stains are better, but they're drying. My compromise is to use a stain (Cover Girl Outlast Lip Stain in Teasing Blush) and top it with a little SPF 15 balm (on10 Disney Red Apple Balm, because how cute is that package?!). The balm on top means I do have to reapply the stain throughout the day, but it is much longer lasting than regular gloss or lipstick. I get a good 3 to 4 hours of wear out of it.

And there you have it! The results of my extensive and expensive research. So, you know, if you ever want to go to Disneyland and have your makeup stay on all day NOW YOU TOTALLY CAN.

Have a great weekend everyone, be back Wednesday with photos from our trip!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vintage Disneyland

I arrived at my parents' house a few weeks ago for lunch to find their entire sunken living room straight COVERED with piles of old photographs. There were piles of school photos, piles of baby photos, piles of photos of them before I was born and piles of family holiday card photos. My absolute favorite pile though was the Disneyland pile.

I grew up in LA, just a handful of miles down the freeway from Anaheim. When I was a little tyke, my parents would take me to Disneyland pretty darn often (which was easy to do considering that in 1982 a ticket to Disneyland cost TWELVE DOLLARS!).

As I got a little older, early grade school age, we started buying annual passes. Sometimes in the Summer my parents would show up a few hours early to pick me up from day camp, carrying a grocery bag. I'd squeal with delight, knowing that the bag contained a change of clothes for me and they'd gotten off work early to take me to Disneyland for dinner, fireworks and a few rides.

We went so often that one year my mom kept track and by the time our passes expired we'd logged something like 23 visits. When I say I grew up at Disneyland, I'm not exaggerating by much!

Thanks to having put all of our wedding and light condo remodeling expenses on our Disney Visa, Boy and I are getting annual passes this year essentially for free. We're kicking off our year of fun with two days next week for my 30th birthday. Then we're going the following Saturday for my mom's birthday. And then on 9/13 I'm going back with a childhood friend who also has passes. And again in October. And of course December; we have to see the holiday decorations.

We might not hit 23 visits, but I'm certainly going to try! Because as far as I'm concerned, Disneyland is straight magic. I know there are many out there who would disagree with me (and, frankly, the fact that all the princesses seem to have gotten boob jobs recently bugs me too), but let me give you one little story by way of example:

Boy and I got engaged at Disneyland. I knew it was coming, we'd picked out the ring together and all day at the park the ring was hidden in the lining of my purse for safekeeping. I was thrilled, obviously, obviously . . . but I was a tiny bit sad that there wouldn't be a huge element of surprise. Seriously? Ring in my purse here.

Boy had made 'dinner plans' which obviously meant The Blue Bayou. We were making our way over to New Orleans Square, back behind the Matterhorn, when we were approached by a group of cast members. Not just any cast members, but members of the Dream Team. They handed us two Fastpasses for any ride and told us to have fun. We went to dinner, magic in another, non-Disney related way!, and on our way out we stopped by the Matterhorn to use our Fastpasses. As if hopping right on the ride weren't enough, we'd somehow accidentally timed things so that during our ride the fireworks started. As we pulled in around the final bend, we looked up from our bobsled and watched the fireworks finale, right over our heads. It was spectacular. Totally unexpected, and perfectly timed to coincide with such crazy, romantic, memorable night.

It was, for lack of a better term, pretty magical.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Forever 21 never quits while they're ahead

Take this sweater for instance, which I blogged about here.

Freaking adorable, right? Well, I bought it (because, like I said, it is SOMEBODY'S birthday very soon) and was giddy with excitement when it came in the mail. Until I realized that the white, demure looking buttons in the photo were just an optical illusion and the sweater in real life was encrusted with TACKY RHINESTONE BUTTONS. Observe:

SERIOUSLY, FOREVER 21?! This is why people think your clothes are tacky and cheap looking. Because you are TRYING WAY TO FREAKING HARD. So hard that you took a gorgeous, gothic lolita / Alice In Wonderland inspired cardigan and turned it into a fucking joke. Do I sound like I've gotten a little carried away here? Maybe I have . . . but Forever 21, if you're listening, SERIOUSLY. Knock it off with the rhinestone buttons, the obnoxious back bows, the unnecessary and poorly made crochet panels on everything and IN GENERAL if a trim needs to be GLUED ON then a garment could probably do without it. Rant: Fin.

Fortunately, buttons are an easy thing to fix. And even more fortunately, I've got a stash 4 mason jars full of vintage buttons just sitting around in my craft area waiting to be used. My first pick would have been these STUNNING green glass and gold leaf buttons. Alas, I only had 5 of them and the cardi needed 8. New mission: Find a 5 button black cardi . . . I can't bear to keep these gorgeous little things in a jar any longer!

I considered using some teeny, natural mother of pearl buttons but eventually decided on these gorgeous black ceramic beauties. They're etched with a bit of an astro-star pattern so I think they're probably circa 1960's, but with the way I buy buttons (typically in Granny's original jar for $2 at a flea market) I can never be 100% sure. Gorgeous, they are . . . however old!

And thus, my cardi finds its happily ever after.

Friday, August 7, 2009

We have a winner!!!

The winner of the Savor Soap giveaway is visitor number 17 the lovely Refabulous!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered, and to Savor for donating the awesome prize!

Happy weekend, kids!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Spectacularly good for you (Although not likely to win any beauty contests)

I've never been great about eating breakfast. As a child I flat out refused to eat in the mornings. It got so bad that my poor parents resorted to waking me up at 4am as my dad was getting ready for work, hoping they could get a bowl of cereal in me and send me back off to bed for a few hours before I woke up enough to protest.

That actually somehow worked for a few weeks.

Once I was living on my own and making my own rules, if I was going to have breakfast at all I'd have soup. Yep. You read that right. Soup. To this day, when I'm on vacation with my family at Hampton Court I revert to soup for breakfast behavior.

The thing isn't so much that I hate breakfast food. I'll quite happily eat eggs and BREAKFAST POTATOES OMG for brunch on the weekends. It is just that on workdays the last thing I want to get involved in as I'm flinging myself around trying to get out the door is FOOD PREPARATION. Granola bars and the like don't count in my book because food has to be HOT in order to make me feel like I've really eaten. By the time I get to the office, honestly? I'm not really hungry anymore. And can quite happily stay not hungry until lunchtime. At which point, I'd gladly eat a live water buffalo.

Skipping breakfast isn't the sanest practice. Clearly.

Several months ago, Swistle blogged about a fairly involved but yummy and week-long-lasting oatmeal recipe. "EAT IT FOR A WEEK" caught my attention immediately. There were bits about the recipe that I wasn't that into . . . bananas for one (I'll happily eat a banana, but never one that has been mushed). And the canned pineapple sounded nice but I didn't like the idea of opening a can only to use a bit then toss the rest. But the basic concept, to cook a pile of oatmeal and fruit casserole style, was genius.

I played around with it a bit and came up with an apple and cinnamon version, to which I added blueberries, and eventually walnuts. That's three, arguably FOUR, so-called "Superfoods" in one breakfast dish (oats, blueberries, walnuts and sometimes apples). I make a batch every Sunday, toss it in a tupperware and dole out portions every morning at work. 50 seconds in the microwave and I've got a hot, filling and extremely healthy breakfast. It is also, admittedly, a freakishly purple looking breakfast. Like I said, won't be winning any beauty pageants, but it seems to have solved my breakfast dilemma.

Super-Awesome Oatmeal
1 1/2 cups milk
2 heaping tblsp. brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
big pinch salt
1 cup quick cook steel cut oats (if you can't find them, I've made this with regular old Quaker oats and it comes out fine)
2 apples, diced
1 - 1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
1 - 1 1/4 cups walnuts

- in a stockpot, bring milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt to a boil
- stir in oatmeal and let simmer for a minute or two
- stir in apples, blueberries and walnuts then remove from heat
- transfer to a greased baking dish and bake at 350 for 15 minutes
Makes 5 nicely sized servings which will keep for a week and can be reheated in 50 seconds (or so) in the microwave.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Soaps Good Enough To Eat (And A Contest You Seriously Don't Want To Miss!)

As you all well know, I'm a beauty product junkie. I'm also a total Etsy junkie . . . and anytime I can combine those two additictions by buying beauty products on Etsy is bound to be a good time!

My absolute favorite bath and beauty seller on Etsy is Savor. Lisa makes the most amazing, positively edible soaps and shower creams. They smell absolutely divine, last for ages in the shower and leave my (fairly sensitive and dry) skin soft enough to skip body lotion.

The first product in Lisa's shop that caught my eye was her Earl Grey Tea Soap With Lemon Peel. Remember how I'm a committed Anglophile? This soap combined THREE of my great loves: Etsy, beauty products and British things. I snapped it up the day I first noticed it online, along with a bar of Lime Chiffon. The Earl Grey was heaven, just like I expected it to be . . . the Lime Chiffon smelled exactly like lime Jello and I promptly fell in love with it as well.

I went on to try Sex Appeal (strawberry and rose . . . a genius combination!), Pineapple Buttercream (I was hard pressed not to lick the bar, this stuff smelled so edible), Hawaiian Orange Alaea (rich, buttery and wonderful), Lemon Chiffon, Aubergine (a spectacular, sexy musk sent . . . haven't seen it around the shop lately but it was rich and lovely!), Joie de Vivre (a lush, herby spa scent), Gateau au Citron (quite possibly the world's most perfect lemon soap), Bamboo with Rosewood (rich and sophisticated), Italy (luscious herbal heaven, perfect for boys. And for stealing from boys.), Black Honey, Kir Royale (Gorgeous blackcurrant that smells like my first trip to London), Dread Pirate Roberts and Princess Bride (Because how could you NOT buy soaps with those names?!), Tropical Black Hawaiian Sea Salt, Blood Orange Granita (used on my wedding day!) and Winter Grapefruit (A spectacularly unique combo of grapefruit and pine.)

Why, YES. I do spend a lot of time buying soap.

The best thing about Lisa's soaps is that they're reasonably priced, reliably awesome and they come in an ever changing cast of spectacular scents. She has a real talent for mixing scents in unexpectedly delicious combinations.

The soaps are the perfect gift, for yourself or for a friend. Over the holidays I bought dozens of bars . . . my favorites Kir Royale and Earl Grey Tea for the girls on my list and Italy for the boys.

They also make great gifts for my spectacular and much loved blog readers.

That's you!!!

I've partnered up with Lisa to offer one lucky reader a free bar of her new Angel Food Cake soap, pictured below. To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment to this entry sometime before Friday, 1pm PST. I'll use the random number generator to pick a winner. Make sure you leave some way for me to contact you if you've won, either a link to your blog or Etsy shop or your email address.

Good luck!