Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday Morning Inspiration/Diane Von Furstenberg

Do you ever look at something and see an image that probably, no one else sees?
I was actually on Pinterest looking for some stripe inspiration when I came across the first picture and it immediately reminded me of a whale. I know, crazy, but look at the pink image, it could be a fish tail that's up in the air! Well, at least in my imagination :)
I was curious to try and find the dress, and as it turns out, it's from the 2013 Diane Von Furstenberg Fall Collection. The search lead to Style.com where I found a lovely and timeless collection. It of course includes the iconic wrap dress, but in suede.  The prints are a little wild, but lots of fun, so take a look.

I included a picture of Diane as I love the dress she is wearing.
The fashion show really brings the garments to life. It's a little less than 10 minutes long, so worth a coffee break.

And for a little more Monday Morning Inspiration, I found this video on the beginnings of the Diane Von Furstenberg brand. It's just a short little 2 minute video, but quite interesting. Take note of the wrap dress that she is wearing in the video and the fact that she is wearing a camisole underneath it!

Wishing you a fabulous start to your week!
May your imagination lead you to unexpected places :)

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Night Reflections

The quieter you become,
The more you can hear.
                                                                                                        Ram Dass
*click on image for artist info

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Sunday's Soup

This is such a glorious time of year! The farmer's markets are absolutely alive with color. I walk in, and I'm like a kid in a candy store, I want it all!!!
On a recent trip, I was tempted by the rich purple colors, purple onions, purple cabbage, purple potatoes and purple cauliflower. So pretty!
My mind immediately went to soup. The temperatures have been a bit cool, so all the more I'm wanting a good bowl of soup.
What I decided to do was quarter the potatoes and break apart the cauliflower and then roast it. I love roasted potatoes and cauliflower.
I chose the smallest head of purple cabbage and then chopped it, but not too finely.

Here's my recipe;
Purple People Pleaser Soup

1 small head purple cabbage chopped
 About a pound of small purple potatoes, quartered
1 purple onion chopped
1 head purple cauliflower broken into florets
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence
6 cups water/chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup cream or half and half

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Quarter potatoes and break apart cauliflower. Combine in large bowl. Salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with garlic powder and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir well to coat. Place in oven and roast until fork tender and browned, about 30 to 45 minutes.
Pour remaining tablespoon of olive oil in pan and saute chopped onion. Once tender, add chopped garlic and continue to saute for approximately 1 minute.
Transfer onion/garlic mixture to a large soup pot. Add chopped cabbage, 6 cups of water or broth and Herbs de Provence. Add roasted potatoes and cauliflower. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until cabbage is tender, approximately 10 minutes. Add 1 cup of cream or half and half, simmer for another 10 minutes, being careful not to allow the soup to boil.  
Dish up and enjoy!

If you don't have Herbs de Provence, use a combination of basil and oregano. After all, cooking is all about doing a little experimentation :)
The soup was so good and the purple colors were so pleasing to the eyes. Nourishing for the body and soul.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Even a Doll Likes a Flirty Dress

Good Morning!!! Well, my morning is starting off much better than it yesterday. 
I enjoy telling crazy stories about myself. I enjoy laughing, and just a little insight into me, I especially enjoy laughing at my own jokes and even at myself :) So with that said, you won't believe what I did yesterday morning.
My husband and I have been a little worried about our dog Gracie. She came to us a stray, an absolute mess. She was starving, in fact, so thin that when she laid on the floor, her stomach would completely collapse to nothing. She was missing hair on one side of her body and she also had a rather large cyst on her side. Long story a little shorter, a little TLC and she has become just a lovely dog, a dog that can run like the win, and a beauty to watch when we're out on a hike. But, she has continued to have some stomach issues.
When I came downstairs yesterday morning, my husband had already had the dogs out for their morning walk. He said that there was still concern with Gracie and when she walked in the door, she vomited. So a call to the vet's office. The receptionist said that he would most definitely want to see her and they really needed to see a stool sample. Oh great!, my husband walked them at 6:00 and who knows where he disposed of the bag! I made a quick phone call and he said that it was in our neighbors garbage and it would be easy to find as it was the only thing in the can. Alright, so off I went with a stick. When I looked in the can, there were 3 bags! Oh great, which one is it??? So I fished out all 3 and waited for my husband to come back, hoping that he would remember the bag he used. Of course, as fate would have it, while I was standing there fishing the poop bags out of the garbage, one of my neighbors drove by. Talk about adding insult to injury ;) While at the vet's office, I told him the story. He loved it and enjoyed a good laugh at my expense, me too :) I said, "well, you know you love your dog when you're willing to go fish poop bags out of the garbage!!!" At this point, we're waiting for the tests to come back. Gracie has received lots of kisses. If only kisses could make everything better ;)
Now, for something precious. 
I receive some of the loveliest messages and they are always such a surprise as well as a delight. Back in April, I received a message from a follower who told me that I had given her the confidence to start doing a little pattern drafting. Her passion is doll clothes. She said that she has no interest in "people size clothes." Her pattern had just been published and so she wanted to share her success with me. I was so touched, but then, curiosity got the better of me, and I really wanted to see what she had created. She gladly sent me a picture and said that if I would like to give the pattern a test for her, she would be so happy. Well, so much for testing, remember, the pattern was sent to me in April! Thankfully she is a very patient person. 
When I received the pattern, I was really intrigued with the bodice of the dress. The shaping is quite nice and rather different whether for a doll pattern or a full size dress pattern.
A sample of dresses made by the "real testers." You can see the bodice a little better in the picture on the right.
 The instructions are incredible. Absolutely step by step, with photos, so you can't go wrong.
Please forgive my little model. I don't have an 18" doll, so I borrowed my little neighbor's well loved doll. Once I finished the dress, my husband even commented on how cute it is!
 An up close picture of the bodice.
 The construction of the bodice may seem like it would be a little daunting, but it is so well thought out. The shaping lines are basically tucks. The lining is drafted as a stay with no tuck lines or princess line seam .
 The bodice and the waistband are fully lined.
The dress was a breeze to put together, and I had so much fun doing something a little out of the ordinary.
As I read about how many have started sewing, time after time, they began by making doll clothes. If you have a child that would like to learn to sew, I think this would be a great pattern, and here's why. The pattern is so well marked, notches exactly where they should be. I'm a big stickler about notches! As I said earlier, I love the fact that the instructions are so well thought out and that there are so many pictures accompanying the instructions. Makes for a perfect teaching tool.
If you would like to take a look at the pattern, you can find it HERE. This is a pattern that I plan to make again. Do a puff sleeve and a long, full skirt and it becomes a wedding dress, lots of  fun possibilities. Since my little neighbor was so generous with her doll, I think it would be nice to add to the doll's wardrobe.
For those of you who enjoy making doll clothes, Pixie Faire is a great website to check out for patterns. They offer free patterns on Friday, and if you think you might like to take a stab at drafting some of your own doll patterns, they offer classes.
Have a wonderful day!

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Morning Inspiration/Black, White, and Red For Fall

I love the combination of black, white and red. It's always fresh, and great for anytime of the year, whether it's spring, summer, fall or winter. The pieces that I'm sharing this morning are from a Vogue article that was actually printed last year. But the shapes are really timeless, so I thought you might like to take a look. I think I need to copy the red scarf in the second picture!
Black on black is always a little difficult to see, so I thought I would try and findthe top and see what it really looks like, It's from Simone Rocha.
Simone Rocha Jersey Frill Short Sleeve Top
Simone Rocha Jersey Frill Short Sleeve Top (see more ruffle tops)
And here are the pants.
Simone Rocha Jersey Frill Trousers
Here's the scarf that I would like to copy. Look closely and you'll see that her hand is actually in a pocket. 
White with a pop of black is always great.
A little low cut for most of us, but I do like the sweep of the skirt and the surprise of the cream underside.
Now this is a style that I think just about anyone could wear and look fabulous in.
Such an interesting design.
This dress is from Prada.
Absolutely love this. A wonderful wrap skirt with black on the underneath side,and a great wrap jacket.
Sadly, I wasn't able to find a better picture of the top pictured below. It's from Narcisco Rodriguez. Very architectural.
A silk and leather cutout top from Louis Vuitton. I think I would forgo the hip cutouts!!!
While looking for the ruffled Simone Rocha top, I came across this top from Marni. Fun design. I included the black and the grey so you can see the lines.

So throw on a little red before you pop out the door and have a fabulous day!!!

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Night Reflections

We learn more by looking for the answer to a question
and not finding it,
than we do from learning the answer itself. 
                                                                                                             Lloyd Alexander

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Eating For Your Future/Super Salad!

Have you ever heard of a lemon cucumber??? I stopped by a friend's house a few days ago as she has such a lovely garden, and I wanted to beg for one of her cucmbers. My husband had stopped by a few days before and she gave him an English Cucumber that was out of this world. When I arrived, lucky me, she was in the garden harvesting a few things and had just picked the lemon cucumber and asked if I would like to have one. Sure!!!, I'm always game to try something new.
As it turns out, a lemon cucumber does not taste like a lemon, just looks similar to a lemon.
When cut open, they have the loveliest green center and the richest cucumber smell I've ever smelled.
I decided to look around for a recipe that would be fitting of my precious little cucumber and I found a delightful website called 101 Cookbooks, A Natural Foods Recipe Journal. The recipe that caught my eye is called
Orzo Super Salad
1 cup dried (whole wheat) orzo pasta
8 - 10 medium asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch segments
1/2 a medium head of broccoli (or broccolini), cut into small trees
small handful of cilantro(or mint if you prefer), chopped(I used mint) 
1 small clove of garlic, mashed with a big pinch of salt and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
a small handful of sprouts
1/3 cup almonds, toasted
1/2 small cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 medium avocado, sliced into small pieces
1/4 cup feta, crumbled
As usual, I made a few changes. While shopping for the ingredients that I needed, I came across a Quinoa pasta that looked interesting, so I decided to give that a try rather than the orzo.
The recipe says to throw the broccoli and the asparagus in the boiling water for the last 30 seconds of cooking. Be sure to do this as the vegetables stay crunchy, but not as hard as they would be if they are completely raw.
For the salad dressing, be sure to mash the garlic with the salt as directed. Makes all the difference in the world.
I'm growing pear tomatoes this summer and they are just beginning to ripen, so I decided to add them to the mix. I'm also growing jalapeno peppers, so I added one of those as well. I do like my peppers!!! 
I left out the sprouts as I was just too lazy to make the trip to the store where I can find them, My neighborhood market typically doesn't carry them.   

You can find the full recipe HERE. This is such an amazing salad. The mixture of the mint, lemon and garlic make for an especially tasty salad dressing. I used a Bulgarian feta which is rather creamy, fabulous! Since the feta added such a creamy aspect to the salad, I left out the avocado. Be sure to add the slivered almonds and be sure to toast them. Adds just the right amount of crunch to the salad.
You can eat the salad just as it is or serve it on a bed of greens. It would make a wonderful light supper and then the leftovers are perfect for lunches.
Once you visit 101 Cookbooks, be sure to look around a bit as she has some wonderful recipes posted. I plan to just camp out a while on her website as there are a number of recipes that I want to try.
Hope you enjoy the salad as much as I did if you give it a try!

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Become Your Own Role Model

True beauty comes from within,
 and validation and self worth must also come from within.

This past week, while doing a little cleaning, clearing out, I came across some pictures that had belonged to my grandmother, pictures of me, school pictures. I looked, I thought, and I shredded the pictures.
A good portion of yesterday was spent on the internet doing research. I write for The American Opera Society of Chicago, so I research our scholarship winners, operas that they have been in, what's happening in the opera world here in Chicago as well as other cities. The job can be a little overwhelming, and at the same time, quite rewarding. While I was looking around the internet, I just happened upon this byline,
"How To Wear Everything You've Been Told Not To."
Of course it caught my eye, we all want to look our best. There was a video that accompanied the story, so I took a look. To be honest, I had never heard of Ashley Graham, but I loved her enthusiasm. Take a look!

As it goes with the internet, one thing leads to another, and to be honest, I can't remember how I got from her Glamour video to her TedX video, but as I watched the TedX video, her words brought me back to those school pictures and the fact that I had shredded them.

What was it that prompted me to shred the pictures? What was it that I saw? It really wasn't so much about what I saw, but what I felt and what I remembered. My heart ached for the little girl that tried so hard to just look pretty. For me, it wasn't about weight, but a perception of beauty.
My fourth grade picture brought back memories of coming home from school and working with my hair. It was so thick and curly, with what seemed a mind of its own. I would get out my mother's curlers and do my best to tame my hair. Maybe that would make me look pretty.
As the years went on, my hair grew longer, still thick and full of waves. I devoured every fashion magazine that I could get my hands on. There was advice on how to wear makeup, how to frame your face by plucking your eyebrows. I tried it all and yet, when I went to school, I was told I looked like a witch. True enough, my nose is long and I have sharp, piercing green eyes. Boys would laugh and shout out, "beauty is skin deep, but ugly goes all the way to the bone." Most days, I would come home in tears. I would look in the mirror and wonder how they could call me a witch, and wonder why I couldn't be pretty like so many of the other girls. My grandmother had told me the story of the ugly duckling more times than I wanted to hear it. I didn't want to be the ugly ducking, it was too hard, and what if it never changed?
Ashley Graham makes the statement in the TedX video that only 2% of the women in the world feel that they are beautiful.
So what is beauty?
Beauty can be seen in the person who has compassion for others. Beauty is seeing joy in another person's face, when they smile without any inhibition. That beauty is reflected back to you when you know that it was you who allowed that person the freedom to feel so uninhibited and free. Beauty can be seen in the selfless act of a child when they want to share their food, their toys, or a kiss.
Beauty is not about clothes, or makeup, or any of the other external things we can surround ourselves with. It's not about how much we weigh, how tall or how short you are, or even the color of your hair. Yes, true beauty does come from within. Some of the most beautiful women I've known would never make the cover of a magazine. But they had a profound sense of making this world a better place, somehow, and making all those around them feel wonderful about themselves.
Shredding those pictures will never make the pain of those young years go away. To be honest, there are more of those pictures in existence, like all school pictures, there were sheets of them! The picture is not the point, the person in the picture is the point. I'm sure that many of you have very painful memories, memories of not being accepted, unloved, not good enough. These things can rob us of being who we were meant to be. But think about it, none of that has anything to do with beauty. It's all about some other person's inability to bring love into other's lives as well as their own.
Be you, be authentic, and know that you are beautiful.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Life Changing Magic, The Winner

Good Morning All!!
In case you missed the post, last Friday I talked about the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It's a very motivational read. I encourage you to go back and take a look at some of the comments that were left on last Friday's post. Some were very thought provoking, and I especially appreciate the heartfelt honesty that some of you shared.
 The winner of my book is I Say Sew.
Congratulations!! Please email me at sewbussted@yahoo.com with your address so I can get the book out to you.

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Monday Morning Inspiration/Duffle Bags

When it comes to making a duffle bag, the sky is the limit! You can choose to have something demur, or over the top creative. If you think that making a duffle bag is in your future, think a little about some of the things you might have that will work as fabric. An old quilt that has seen better days and yet has large areas of untattered fabric, a hand woven rug, even placemats! Below, you'll see a bag that was made from a burlap bag used for transporting coffee.
The bag below could very well be made from a wool blanket. 
It's your bag, so why not go all out and make it jungle crazy!
I came across this bag in a Sundance catalog. It's actually a carpet bag, but I love the fabric combination.
Here's the burlap bag. Might be a little itchy against the skin, but interesting nonetheless.
 A little quilted inspiration.
Now for some add-on ideas.
Create an extra compartment around the bottom. 

Do you like to keep up with your yoga routine when you travel? This bag has an extension with a belt that holds the yoga mat. Also take note that the side pocket has a zipper and there's an elasticized pocket on the end for a water bottle. 
An even easier application for carrying a yoga mat would be to incorporate it into the carrying straps.
The Grainline Portside duffle bag has a pocket on either side of the bag. It might be fun to add a zipper to one side and a flap to the other. 
When thinking about color combinations, don't forget the zipper, it can also be an accent.
Really make your bag your own by adding a monogram.

Don't forget the lining. It's fun to look inside a bag and see something a little unexpected.
For those of us who might over pack...just a bit ;), how about adding removable wheels? You can find the tutorial HERE.  
I actually once rolled the wheels off of a suitcase!!! It's a long story, but my car was parked in a different area of the airport, one which I thought wasn't that far away. I asked the taxi driver how much it would cost to take me to my car. He said $4.00. I thought to myself, that's $6.00 by the time I give him a tip...just to go around the block. So off I went walking. It was a LOT further than I thought. The $4.00 would have been a bargain. By the time I got to my car, I had rolled off one of the wheels of my suitcase. When I arrived home and my husband saw what had happened, he couldn't believe it. "Why didn't you just pay the $4.00?!!!" I explained that in my mind it wasn't that long of a walk until I actually started walking. He fixed the wheel and guess what, it cost $4.00 to fix it!!! And I learned a lesson :)
Have a wonderful day!

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