I’m a couple days away from my move to Wisconsin, so of course travel is on my mind. But also tropical prints. Lots and lots of tropical prints. While sorting through the endless bins of crafting and sewing scraps in my house, I found a decent amount of yardage of this very cute Hawaiian print fabric. And by decent, I mean enough to craft into a modern re-imagining of a retro sundress.
I used New Look 6799 as my pattern, which was actually a very simple pattern to make (once you get past the darts. Darts are the worst).
The fabric is a very soft cotton with bright tropical flowers printed with illustrated postcard shots of “Honolulu Hotel.”
I chose to pair the dress with a black and white wide-brimmed sunhat from Forever 21, and purple suede heels from Guess that I originally bought to match my Winter Formals dress.
I love how old-school and glamorous this dress feels, especially paired with these accessories and a bold red lip. I think we could all use a sprinkle more of glamour in our everyday lives.
While most people tend to make new goals at the start of the traditional new year, I find that it’s never a bad idea to reevaluate and reinforce any resolutions I have made. As I start my 22nd year (feeling happy/free/confused/lonely – love you, Taylor), I find myself excited more than anything, and a little apprehensive. The following is a list of goals I’ve compiled for my next year – some general, some concrete, some fun, some difficult.
1) Maintain relationships – and make new ones! (I’m terrible at keeping in touch – I will change this).
2) Create a fitness routine and stick to it.
3) Become a friendlier person – I’m an introvert raised in the often slightly frigid East Coast. Hopefully, moving to the Midwest will help melt my icy shyness.
4) Embrace change and think (a lot) more about the future.
5) Be more communicative – talk more to people and have more meaningful talks.
6) Become a more positive person.
7) Write an average of 2-3 posts a week (also one of my Twenty in my Twenties goals.)
8) Become more involved in the blogging community (host giveaways, guest blog, and join interest groups)
9) Learn to code in CSS and HTML
10) Start new regular features
11) Continue making every month bigger than the last
12) Learn more advanced sewing techniques
13) Reupholster a chair (hopefully happening soon!)
14) Make vintage-style hat (I have so many patterns – I just need to make one of them!)
15) Create an inspiring yet organized creative space
16) Customize a dress pattern with a muslin
17) Go on a real (hopefully tropical) vacation!
18) Get to know Madison – I want to take advantage of this change in scenery and not let the cold keep me down.
19) Visit the Cheese Museum in Wisconsin (I love cheese. I could literally live only on cheese – some years I have.).
20) Cull and cultivate my closet – I want to love (and reasonably use) every single piece in my wardrobe by my 23rd birthday
21) Visit my friends and family (and explore other parts of the U.S. at the same time).
22) Join a team or group of some sort, whether volleyball (a new-found love), knitting, a book group, what-have-you.
Here’s hoping that 22 will be exciting and fulfilling!
This past week my family, Lucas, and I went to the beach for mini-vacation at my uncle’s beach house in Long Beach, Long Island. As Charles Dickens’ once wrote, “It was the best of [weeks], it was the worst of [weeks]”. My uncle’s house doesn’t have air conditioning, which, in conjunction with the recent heat wave, was unbearable. Luckily, we also had the ocean. It’s a toss up.
While there, Lucas and I tried a new doughnut shop, Dough Hut, and sampled every single one of their flavors. My personal favorites included Maple Bacon and Vanilla Crumb, while Lucas liked Pistachio and Jelly.
Long Beach was hit pretty hard by Hurricane Sandy, so it’s nice seeing it get back on its feet. There’s more art around, including this cute (and resourceful) mural on a low dividing wall. It’s made of thousands of bright bottle caps.
I also got my traditional beach mani/pedi while there in Essie’s Bikini So Teeny. (Pictured with my own personal almost-matching teeny bikini).
We also made a stop at family-favorite Rockaway Taco to get their delicious fish tacos. They are simply divine. I highly recommend visiting (except not while I’m there, because that place is crowded enough as it is, thanksverymuch).
How are you beating the heat?
This past weekend I celebrated my 22nd birthday with what has now become a birthday tradition – an excessively long and filling tea party. After what must have been my fourth or fifth party (I’ve kind of lost track of when it started), the routine’s settled. The guests change a little, the sandwiches, tea, and desserts vary, but the base of it remains the same: four delicious and individually filling courses stretched across three hours or more of laughs, gossip, and good times.
I got the inspiration from a high tea I attended years ago at the Chateau Frontenac, a beautiful hotel at the heart of Old Quebec City. I was about 11 at the time, and, as my dad likes to point out, completely floored by the experience (I didn’t speak above a low whisper for the duration of the meal out of fear that my vocal vibrations would break something beautiful). My backyard tea party has become a far more casual meal (especially since I usually rely on the guests to help me create it), but infinitely more satisfying.
If you’re looking for a template for a tea party, I find that mine works very well. In my opinion, the best tea parties are smaller, intimate affairs (I don’t like to have more than six people at mine) set in nice locations (we lounge on my parent’s back porch for hours staring at the summer blooms). Aesthetically, I prefer the hodge-podge of mismatching teacups and teapots, tableclothes and napkins, but that’s up to your taste (it’s also a lot easier if you happen to be like me and my mother and collect random pretty elements that don’t necessarily make up a whole set).
For me, the first course consists of three types of tea sandwiches. This year, I did cucumbers, cream cheese, scallions, and red onion, apples and brie, and ham, cheddar, and mayonnaise, but in the past I’ve also done pear and blue cheese and lox and cream cheese. I like to use white bread – it’s both aesthetically nicer and more reminiscent of childhood – with the crusts cut off. After preparing the sandwiches normally, cut them along the diagonals so that each sandwich is a cute obtuse triangle.
The second course is always scones. I’ve used store-bought scones in the past, but this year my friend William (who also happens to be a tea fanatic and provided delicious tea for the party) made some homemade scones for us in the shape of teapots. Scones are incomplete without delicious spreads, and if you choose sweet (not savory) scones, I would recommend buying some good jam (I like Bonne Maman’s raspberry preserves) and some clotted cream. If you’ve never had clotted cream before (I believe it’s far more popular in the British Isle than in the U.S.), you need to buy a jar right away. Eat all of it, and then don’t buy another jar for the rest of the year because don’t be crazy, that stuff will kill you. Lather your scones liberally with it.
After two carb-heavy courses and lots of tea (no lie – we usually go through about two teapots per course so we’re getting pretty jittery at this point), you need to take a break. That’s where the berry course comes in. If you’re doing this in the winter I would substitute more seasonal fruits, but for a summer tea party, a sweet and tart berry medley is a perfect palate cleansing course. My mother has these adorable glass pear dishes, so I pile a carton each of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries into the five or six pears. If you feel like you haven’t consumed enough fat yet (and that would probably mean you haven’t eaten any clotted cream, so, shame on you), you could make some homemade whipped cream to top the berries. I decided it wasn’t really necessary.
The final course is dessert. In the past, I’ve bought pre-made petit-four cakes and made coconut macaroons. This year, I bought Linzer tart cookies and almond macaroons from a local bakery. Other great cookie choices include the ever-popular macarons, palmiers, or, as Lucas suggested, Argentine alfajores (you really can’t go wrong with dulce de leche). You probably won’t need many desserts, since everyone’s stomachs should be busting at the seams at this point, but why would you say no to leftovers? That’s right, you wouldn’t.
Tea parties often come down to the details, so I love to round out the party with cute elements like sugar cubes instead of loose sugar and cake stands (both real and improvised). Ultimately, you don’t want to stress out about any one thing. Just enjoy the tea, the food, the company, and the chance to just kick back and relax for a few hours. Also, remember to wear a hat. A tea party is nothing without hats.
Do you have any recommendations for further tweaks on tea parties or backyard parties in general? I’m always looking to improve mine.
In my drive to clear all clutter out of my room in preparation for my move to Wisconsin, I’ve been going through all of the fabric I have laying around from old projects. This particular floral fabric was actually cut from a dust ruffle that my neighbor gave me a long time ago. While I was originally perplexed as to what I could do with such little fabric (it was about four feet long and a foot and a half wide), I realized that it was the perfect amount for a gathered – or dirndl – skirt.
What’s really useful about making this skirt out of a dust ruffle is that the dust ruffle will come pre-hemmed on the bottom (yay!) and will possibly already have a way to attach to itself. I was very lucky and found that my fabric had cute yellow buttons and buttonholes already in place, which made this project ten times easier. If your fabric doesn’t have buttons like mine, you’ll have to either sew your own buttonholes (here’s a relatively easy tutorial on how to machine sew buttonholes) or add a zipper.
- Skirt fabric – the longer this is, the fuller your skirt will be. You want the width to be the length from your waist to your ideal skirt length, plus a couple of inches for hemming. If you’re working with a dust ruffle, disregard the hemming part. You can use many types of fabric for this – I used a cotton but special occasion fabrics would also give this skirt a little oomph.
- Waistband fabric – get fabric in a matching or complementary color. You won’t need much, just long enough to go around your waist and about 6-8 inches wide depending on how thick you want the waistband to be.
- Matching thread
- Optional – interfacing for the waistband (to make it stiffer – I didn’t do this but you could), buttons, and zippers are all optional.
- Gather the skirt fabric – Baste (loosely stitch – I set my stitch width at 4) two lines across the top of your fabric. Pull one thread from each line on each side, scrunching up the fabric as you go. The fabric should slide pretty easily over the thread. Make sure that the skirt is distributed evenly over the thread with the gathering pretty even overall.
- Sew the fabric to the waistband – With the right sides of the fabric together, pin the skirt to the waistband. Sew the two together (back on a normal stitch – I use 2), making sure that you are sewing lower than the two gather threads (so they end up inside the waistband, not visible to the outside world).
- Slipstitch the waistband closed – Iron the free edge of the waistband over about 3/8 in. Fold the waistband in half, and slipstitch the ironed edge to the other half of the waistband. If you’re using interfacing, apply (iron or sew) the interfacing to one half of the waistband before you sew it shut.
- Optional: Hemming the skirt and sewing it closed While I didn’t have to do this, if you don’t start with a dust ruffle, you’ll have to hem the skirt. Fold 3/8 in. of the bottom of the skirt under and sew it. Then, fold it under again until the skirt is your desired length. Pin it in place, and slip stitch the hem. To close the skirt, fold over and hem the two edges, sewing buttons and buttonholes down the skirt’s length. If you’re using a zipper, figure out how long you need the zipper to be (probably 7-9 in., but it needs to be able to open up to fit over the widest part of your hips). Sew the skirt closed up to that point. Next sew in the zipper, following the above tutorial.
I absolutely love my new skirt, and I’m so glad I’ve finally found a use for such charming fabric. Depending on how you style the skirt and what fabric you use, a gathered skirt can be used for almost any occasion – work, leisure, special occasions. I would recommend wearing it with a tucked in shirt, however, since the gathers might look awkward if the flattering waist is hidden. If you use enough fabric (more than I did), you can also wear a petticoat underneath it, and wear it like a classic vintage skirt – there are so many possibilities.
For a post-Fourth of July date, Lucas and I visited Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ. If you haven’t been there before, it’s a great outdoor 43 acre sculpture park filled with all sorts of statues and definitely worth a visit. The date gave me an opportunity to take out my new safari clothes I picked up from Banana Republic.
I’ve developed a recent obsession with tropical prints (I’ve got a couple dresses currently in the works on my sewing table). I love how summery they feel, and how playful they are while still being stylish. I’ve also started loving excessively matching prints. When I saw this shirt and pants combo at Banana Republic, I knew I couldn’t leave it behind.
Grounds for Sculpture is filled with kooky realistic sculptures of people, including recreations of famous paintings. Some of the statues are really startling – you have to look twice before you realize what they are. Peacocks also roam the grounds, amping up the surreal nature of it all.
If you are ever in the area, you should definitely visit Grounds for Sculpture.
Happy Independence Day everyone! Hopefully everyone enjoyed the holiday. We had a relaxing party on my back porch with a hodge-podge of red, white, and blue decor. I used a lace table cloth and a red and blue star printed burlap cloth as a table runner, along with some blue plates and red chargers to get into the holiday spirit. I’m loving the idea of using burlap as a table runner for summer parties – Joann Fabrics has such cute patterns that add such spunk to the table.
For our main drink, I made a patriotic sangria. The recipe is fairly simple:
- 2 bottles dry white wine (I used Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck Chardonnay)
- 1/2 cup of vodka (I used whipped vodka, which gave the sangria a lightly vanilla flavor)
- 1/2 cup of limoncello (you could also replace this with triple sec or maybe peach schnapps)
- 1 package of blueberries
- 1 package of strawberries, sliced
- 1 pineapple, cut into chunks
Combine all of the ingredients into a pitcher and let them soak together for a couple of hours, then, enjoy!
We also used a couple sparklers I found in my desk drawer that have been languishing there since I don’t know when. They were so much fun that I think I might track down more for my birthday.
I hope everyone’s been having a good week,