Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Reflections on NaBloPoMo

Source: Gekokujyo on Flickr

I wanted to take the last post of January to reflect a little on my experience participating in Blogher's National Blog Post Month. I published 27 posts this month, including this one, which is certainly a LOT more frequently than I've ever written in that time frame on this little blog. I feel it was a good exercise for me; I enjoy routines, and I find it's much easier for me to find time for things that are scheduled into my daily or weekly routines. I'm realizing this month the importance of establishing such routines, to make sure that I'm prioritizing the process of taking regular time to do things I find of value.

Something else that I think is nice about the frequent posting was getting a record of much of what I wore this month, and a little bit of a journal-like record of my month. I've often enjoyed going back in my blog archives, seeing how my style changes or remains constant and reminding myself of what I was doing during those months. I used to be a frequent journal-writer...between the time I was about 9 and 18 I wrote a page or two in a journal every night before bed. (In college, I chose to spend more of my precious bits of free time with friends and my boyfriend, rather than with my journal). There's still something that I find incredibly valuable personally about having any kind of record of what I was doing, thinking, and experiencing.

However, one thing that I felt was missing from this blog-writing marathon was the time to take a few days to develop well-articulated, more thoughtful posts. Given the generally limited amount of time every day that I choose to devote to my blogging activities, the post-per-day frequency generally meant that my posts were shorter and less carefully researched or structured. I didn't find the regular writing generally difficult (except the few days I wasn't available until late in the evening), but I also chose to write in ways that were easier to me. Perhaps I could have taken advantage of the NaBloPoMo discussion topics to spark some more variety in what I wrote about.

I'm not intending to join the NaBloPoMo group for February, but may pick it back up again at some point this year. It's been an interesting experience! For the time being, perhaps I'll try having a more-regular-though-not-daily posting schedule and see how that works with the other aspects of my life.

If you have a blog, do you post everyday/nearly everyday, on a less frequent schedule, or only sporadically? How come?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Another Installment of "Making Things Shorter"

Yesterday's refashioned jean skirt wasn't the only item being refashioned...where "refashioned" seems to mean "hemmed significantly shorter." I'd thrifted this dress ages ago, loving the purple shade and the velvet, but didn't end up wearing it because the overall effect was just too much purple velvet for me, and a bit too shapeless. I haven't yet found the proportions that work really well for me with long skirts/dresses...I used to wear velvet hippie maxi skirts all the time in college, but haven't managed to integrate them into my graduate school style easily.

With a cut and re-hem, this is now a great winter dress! (With tights, of course. Wouldn't dare wear this out in Boston on a winter day without them. Maybe two pairs of tights, depending on how cold it was.)

Somehow the weekend went quickly and brought around Monday again! This should be a busy week; a couple of lab projects getting into full swing, along with a mini fashion show for the sewing class that I took over January. I'll have to share some pictures of the skirt I made, once I get them! Any exciting plans for anyone this week?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Simple Sunday Refashion

I'd show you another blazer outfit today, but I barely went out of the house except to go to the gym...I did wear my tan corduroy blazer when I went to the supermarket, but didn't get a photo. I spent today primarily doing some cleaning and decluttering (the desk is...mostly...straightened up). I also dug into my refashioning bin. I really want to start actually refashioning the pieces that are worth my time and putting those that aren't into the Goodwill bin; there's only so much time that I have for projects!

One refashioning project I worked on today was this skirt. (I'm not entirely sure why I'd thrifted this in the first place.) I've been wanting a high-waisted jean skirt for the spring, and this had some potential...but what's going on with the awkward length and big slit up the front?

This wasn't a hard fix, though. I just cut it shorter, up to the level of the slit, and re-hemmed it. Now I have my new high-waisted skirt!

So it's time for spring to arrive now, right? Right?

Also, as I said earlier in the week...here's a linkup for anyone who's interested in sharing some of their favorite blazer outfits. Would love to see how you all have been styling your blazers!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Blazer Challenge #5 and FBFF on Trends

(Well, I was going to post this yesterday. And then I was out for dinner with family, and it got very late...so. How's everyone's weekend going?)

Fashion Beauty Friend Friday is the creation of Katy of ModlyChic, and currently takes the form of a monthly set of questions for bloggers to explore on a particular Friday. If you're interested in others' answers, Katy's linkup can be found here

1. With Fashion week just around the corner, we are all beginning to focus on the upcoming trends for fall. But what about the trends hitting stores now? What are you coveting?

Hmm, I suppose all the stores are already into spring clothing, aren't they? Spring currently feels far away from the cold rainy January we're having (if it still mostly feels like fall and not winter, spring must still be months and months from now, right?). Right, spring trends. I'm looking forward to experimenting more with bold color-blocking, get out of my one-color-plus-neutral-colors tendencies:

Bold graphical prints are also supposed to be "trendy" this spring, which is great for me because I have a handful of beautiful print dresses, including two Catherine Ogust dresses that I absolutely love (though am surprised they haven't made it on the blog, yet)!

My dresses, both thrifted at different times and different places, are like this one on Ebay:

2. How do you incorporate new trends into your wardrobe?

Generally I bring in new trends via thrift stores...realistically, there are very, very few "new trends" these days that haven't been trendy at some point in the past as well (whether in the last few years or decades ago). So it's usually possible for me to find things at the thrift stores cheaply to try out a new trend and see how it works with my personal style. Sometimes items need a little updating (the print is trendy but the long length too dated), but there's generally inspiration for a low price!

3. What trend are you seeing and not loving?

I know that pastel colors come back every spring, but I also know they're not going to be finding too much of a home in my closet. Pale colors never look as good on me as saturated shades and darker colors.

Also, crop tops/bra tops are exceedingly far away from my style. I'm not even sure where one could wear such an outfit, except to the beach or at home...

4. Do you feel the pressure to constantly update your closet with the latest trends?

Not really. As someone who follows a number of fashion/style blogs, I'm certainly much more aware of trends than I used to be. Sometimes I get drawn to styles and start becoming more aware of them when I browse the thrift store, but I don't feel like I need to.

5. Where do you find inspiration that takes the trend and makes it accessible to you and your personal taste?

Mostly from blogs, but also from people I see around the city...I love looking at what everyone wears on the subway!

I also wanted to share my fifth blazer challenge outfit...this one paired together two of my favorite pieces, the dress and the velvet blazer. This is one blazer I didn't thrift recently...I got it at Forever 21 at least 6 or 7 years ago, and have worn it fairly regularly since. Velvet is definitely one of my favorite fabrics, especially this silky-soft one!

I'll post a linkup tomorrow for anyone who wants to share a favorite blazer outfit!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Blazer Challenge #4

In searching for another blazer variation, I ended up with basically a copy of this one from last February, except with black patent-ish boots instead of black patent oxfords. It had to serve for a day at the lab, including this Creative Fabric class that I've been taking over January (at some point I'll have to show you all the sculptural skirt project I've been working on for that), and a belated holiday party dinner with my boyfriend's office. Also, I needed an outfit that could work with the rain/sleet mix that was predicted for the evening. This dress is one of my favorites, with its bold print and bright colors; always nice to liven up a gray day.

I seem to still be avoiding whatever cold my lab group is spreading around...but more sleep than normal is necessary, just in case!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Blazer Challenge #3

Just a quick note tonight...going to try to get some sleep tonight, as I'm hoping not to come down with the cold that two of my officemates just got today.

For this third blazer outfit, I tried to keep a somewhat simple base to let the houndstooth blazer stay the focus. I think this is a blazer; it's lined, so I'm not sure if it's actually more of a jacket. Everything is thrifted except the shoes (Payless), jewelry (gifts), and tights.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Blazer Challenge #2

Today was sunny, after a hard rain last night...and in the mid-50's! Definitely warm enough for me to promptly decide that it is now spring and I should wear bright colors accordingly. Therefore, I pulled out the bright green blazer. Since I'd gone the jeans route yesterday, today was time for a dress...I stayed fairly simple in color, since the blazer was enough boldness for one outfit (though I briefly debated wearing it with one of my crazy floral dresses).

With the warm and sunny weather, my mood was definitely lifted today. (I joke that as soon as I realize how much the weather affects my mood I'm going to get out of Boston and head straight to California...) Also, today was actually a really productive day of meetings at the Lab, which was encouraging. Multiple projects seem to be making a lot of progress in the planning stages(and I'm hopeful that this progress will stick for a while). I'm getting excited by ideas, hoping things can start being turned into concrete designs and programs and implementations and experiences soon...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Blazer Challenge #1

All right, folks...I've decided to start a Blazer Challenge! The type of item in my closet that definitely gets the least used is my set of blazers/suit jackets...I counted this morning and I definitely have at least a dozen (all thrifted), most of which have (gasp) never been worn. Ridiculous. So this week is going to be a blazer-wearing week...let me see how many different ways I can come up with to actually wear my blazers! I'm going for at least 5 (workday) outfits, with bonus points if I find a couple of weekend blazer outfits too. To make this a bit trickier, I also have to wear a different blazer every day. Can't just stick with my one easy black blazer.

I think blazers are especially tricky for me because of how dressy they can make an outfit feel. I'm already often on the upper end of dressed-up at the Lab, and am careful how far I want to push that. (Though I've certainly developed my style a lot since the first year when my coworkers would ask if I had an interview any time I wore a skirt).

So I started off fairly easy today with this fitted navy blazer over jeans and a turtleneck. Not too fancy, but a nice touch to polish up a jeans-based outfit. However, I found that this one is a bit too tight across the shoulders...debating whether or not it should go back in my closet or in the Goodwill pile. I do like the way it looks, but comfort-wise this one didn't work as well as I'd have liked.

Also interesting to see how wavy/curly my hair gets if I air-dry it and then ignore it all day.

Anyone else interested in joining me for a challenge, break out your best blazer (or two or three)? If so, I can post a link roundup on Friday...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Outfit Log: Crazy Tights

Another outfit from a few days ago...this was Wednesday's outfit for a day at the Lab. I didn't have any meetings or demos that day, so I decided to be a bit more boundary-pushing in my outfit (at least for me). I'd thrifted these tights last winter, but not gotten up the nerve to wear them until now. (Dress thrifted, shoes from Payless, earrings from Express, I think?)

Also, how's everyone's weekend going? It snowed a couple of inches today (the most it's snowed all winter, in an unseasonably warm year), so I've basically spent the day at home doing some cooking and a little bit of cleaning.

I've been trying to pare down my closet a bit more, but am currently pondering what to do with the category of things that I think are nice and that I want to keep, but that I haven't actually been wearing...Most of them are pieces I've thrifted but not figured out how to work into my regular style. I'm thinking I need to do a fashion challenge of some kind for myself to push me to actually wear these...a week figuring out outfits that incorporate blazers? A week of only wearing my least-worn dresses? A week where every day I have to wear something unworn from my closet? (I'll wait till warmer/drier weather to do something involving a variety of shoes, I think. Right now I'm stuck in the same couple of pairs of boots.) What would you all like to see?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Outfit Log: Green Velvet

This was my outfit from Tuesday, when I wore another long-sleeve shirt that I made last weekend (for some reason, I was feeling compelled to make velvet shirts...I guess it really feels like winter these days, after a slow start). I started out with the shirt, pulled out the skirt in my closet that complemented the shade of green, and went from there. I'm not sure I'm a fan of the proportions here, though, especially as they look in the photographs. I generally prefer to tuck my shirt in when I'm wearing a fuller skirt, but this one bloused out in unflattering ways when I did. If the top were a bit longer, I'd wear a belt over it to define my waist. In general, I've found that I now almost always try to define my natural waist in the silhouette of my clothing. I've done that since I figured out it was more flattering on me, I guess. I think I need to now experiment more with variety on that theme, or at least being a bit more comfortable when an outfit (particularly a skirt-based outfit) varies from it.

Luckily, this shirt turned out to be incredibly warm and comfortable, especially because of the full cowl collar. I'm starting to think that keeping my upper chest and neck warm is a huge component to my feeling warm in general. (Does anyone else find that?) And being toasty warm all day is definitely high on my list of winter priorities!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

This Post Not Brought to You by SOPA or PIPA

Image source

I'm sure you've seen many sites on the Internet today, including Wikipedia and Google, going dark or posting banners to raise awareness of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Both acts are intended to fight against piracy of copyrighted content, which is nominally a good thing. Currently, copyright holders have legal support for getting their copyrighted content taken down from a web site that is using it without permission. The proposed acts would extend this to make unauthorized use of copyrighted content on websites a crime, allowing the government to actually shut down a web site that is found to have unauthorized copyrighted content on it, force other websites not to link to that site, and force advertisers and sponsors to withhold money from that site. However, this ends up having much bigger repercussions than just being able to shut down foreign sites streaming pirated movies. It means that if I post a copyrighted video to Facebook or YouTube, the government would have the right to shut down Facebook or Youtube themselves.

Even the lolcat that I'm using to illustrate this post was originally created for icanhazcheesburger.com; according to their terms of service, copyright remains with the lolcat creator (though they have a license). By my using this picture, the proposed acts would allow my blog to be shut down. Actually, they mean that Blogger.com could be shut down, since I used that site to post copyrighted content.

More in-depth information available at these sites:
Google: More about SOPA and PIPA
Wikipedia: SOPA and PIPA - Learn more
Electronic Freedom Foundation: How PIPA and SOPA Violate White House Principles Supporting Free Speech and Innovation
Infographic: What is the Stop Online Piracy Act, and why should I care?

The amount of potential censorship that could result from these acts is quite contrary to the free and open dissemination of information that the Internet currently upholds in America. So go call your senator if you disagree, send a message using forms from several of these sites, or sign one of the petitions.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Short and Sweet...

No post yesterday, as I had friends over for dinner and ended up with company until late. A lovely end to the day. I had the day off from the Lab, so spent much of it sporadically cleaning. I often invite people over for dinner partially to force me to do a nice thorough house-cleaning...

Actually, I had two other motivations for inviting friends over; first was my desire to see people and still actually take the holiday off. If I invite my coworkers over, I see them, without having to go into work on a holiday. Second was my long-standing desire to make this frozen Grand Marnier torte with dark chocolate crust and spiced cranberries. I've been wanting desperately to make this dessert since I saw it in December, but only recently obtained the necessary springform pan.

This was a bit involved to make, but very, very tasty (the spiced cranberry topping is AMAZING). So good times, good friends, good food. A nice way to spend the day!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Coral Velvet Shirt

Here's the shirt that I mentioned yesterday...my Saturday afternoon/evening sewing project. The velvet was leftover from a skirt that I'd made with my mom shortly after I got my sewing machine several years ago. I had just enough to finish this shirt...well, at least by making the collar out of two pieces instead of one, and by ending up with 3/4 length sleeves instead of full long sleeves. And cutting the body pieces the wrong way in relation to the nap of the velvet...well, that wasn't so much for lack of fabric as by accident.

This pattern worked up fairly quickly, especially since I decided to try using pattern weights instead of pinning my pattern to the fabric. And when I say "pattern weights" I mean a few cans from the pantry cabinet used to hold the pattern down. I'm now quite a fan, especially as pinning pattern pieces on is one of my least favorite parts of sewing. Well, that and zippers...but at least I'm getting slowly better at zippers. This top has a zipper in the back, which went in fairly well.

I also hadn't realized that the sleeve would end up having quite so much gathering on it. I'd originally tried to skip the gathering step ("I can just pin the ease in!"), only to find there was quite a bit of extra fabric...so, gathering it was. I think this detail probably is accented by the heavyweight nature of the fabric, too...if I made this shirt again, I'd do it in a lighter knit. I might make this again, now that I've figured out how to do it (including the fold-down collar detail).

All in all, this shirt actually makes it into the "quite wearable" pile, I think. I wore it out today for dim sum brunch with a friend (so many amazing pork buns! Why have I not eaten in Boston's Chinatown before now?) and running some errands. Comfortable, warm, and doesn't obviously look like I made it? Works for me!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sewing Project Sneak Peek

I finally broke out the sewing machine today for a bit more complicated project... I was going through a box of random patterns that I'd stashed away because I wasn't interested in or didn't fit them, and found a few that were actually pretty nice. Since the winter weather has been making me realize I'd really use more long-sleeve shirts, this pattern was calling my name.

So here's just a little peek of what I made this evening...I'll show you the rest tomorrow, once I've styled it up and worn it out!

Hope everyone is having a relaxing weekend so far. Except for a run to the grocery store, we've mostly been at home today, cooking various things (including banana bread and some beef/vegetable stock). I've been thinking about doing some cleaning, but instead have been making messes with projects...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Finally Friday

This morning started off gray and rainy again, so I decided to go for a comfortable outfit that feels less dressed up than it looks. This top (modified from an old shirt of my brother's) is incredibly soft and easy to wear, the black skirt is my go-to skirt, and the necklace is definitely one of my most-worn jewelry items. An easy outfit. (Though a little tight around the waist after going out for a nice dinner with family this evening...)

Not much to say today...glad it's the weekend, finally (and perhaps a long weekend? Not sure whether I'll go into the Lab on Monday or not). Anybody have any exciting weekend plans? I'm hoping to get some craft projects done, catch up on some sleep, possibly go to the aquarium while my discount tickets are still valid, otherwise maybe not leave the house much since it's supposed to get colder over the next couple of days. We'll see what other adventures I can find!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Outfit Log: Gray Day

I woke up this morning to dark gray skies and rain. I suppose this outfit came pretty quickly from that, with the bold red necklace to liven it up a little bit. Everything thrifted except for tights (and necklace via Ebay).

Overall it was a quiet, somewhat low-mood day... hasn't been a very productive week at the Lab, and I'm looking for exactly what to work on next. I often have a hard time not knowing what my next project will be, not having yet come up with an idea that drives me to work on it...I'm impatient and want the ideas to come immediately! Because of that, I was doing a lot of thinking today about the idea of having an artistic practice, and what that might mean for someone in my field of performance technologies. I think I still haven't figured out for myself exactly what to do when I'm running low on ideas, or don't have a particular large project to work on...if I were strictly a choreographer, I'd go into the studio for a bit every day and see what I came up with. If I were a writer, I'd do a lot of freewriting. But with software or technology, there's more of a need for me to have an idea before I can start experimenting...so what could that sort of artistic practice look like? I suspect it's time for me to do a lot of little projects. Temporarily forget about "having to have an idea no one's ever had before." Forget about "having to have a giant, exciting idea." Try many little things, give myself the permission to have some failed experiments, and see what ideas come out of that work...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Outfit Log: Lace Blouse and Wrap Dress

I decided to dress up a bit more today, for a mid-week mood lift (though today wound up rather unproductive). I started with the silk lace-front blouse, then looked for what dress I could wear over it. The brown lace-up boots added to the somewhat Victorian feel of the outfit. (Everything is thrifted except earrings and tights).

I wore my hair down all day, then clipped it up when I got home and immediately forgot about it when I took these pictures. Yep.

Something I love about this black wrap dress is how versatile it is. The overall look can be changed quite a bit by what blouse I wear underneath. Other ways I've worn it on the blog:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Outfit Log: Print Skirt

I feel like I've been living in black turtlenecks this winter, as well as these flat boots I got at the start of the fall. I don't wear this patterned skirt too often, but I always enjoy it when I do...comfortable, swingy, and fun.

Somewhat of a quiet day today at the Lab. Trying to hammer out details of a project I'm working on...seems like a number of the projects I'm involved in at the moment are right at the stage where we all don't quite know exactly what form they're going to take. Potentially an exciting stage, but also somewhat difficult to navigate through. It will be interesting to see where things go over this next semester, both for these projects and for the smaller ones I hope to start soon...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Outfit Log: Simple Stripes

Somehow, Monday and the start of the week came quickly! A full day of meetings and talks at the Lab, an evening helping my mother assemble some furniture, and chillier weather today meant today's outfit had to be warm, simple, and comfortable. So just a simple outfit of jeans, long sweater, and loafers. Hair in a ponytail. Can I just take a minute to praise the effects of coconut oil on my hair? A couple of months ago I started using it as conditioner a few times a week, and it's amazing how silky it leaves my hair. I'd gone without it for a couple of weeks while out of town for the holidays, and noticed a huge difference. I'm definitely wearing my hair down or just pulled back much, much more often now, instead of pulling it up in a clip every single day.

On another note, I'm still amazed that it's January and we have no snow on the ground and have basically had no snow all year. We've also only had a couple of days dip down really freezing cold. If this is global warming...well, sometimes I'm a fan. I might be able to survive this winter after all...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Lazy Sunday

It's been a nice lazy Sunday... my boyfriend K. and I had a friend over for a pancake brunch this morning, did the laundry, went to the gym, made pasta with meat sauce for dinner (one of my favorite comfort foods), and watched some television. Sometimes it's good to have a bit of time without doing too much...if I were a cat today, I'd look something like this:

Source: google.com via Nicole on Pinterest

We also got the opportunity to try out the culinary torch that K. got for the holidays on some homemade crème brûlée. K. makes amazing crème brûlée, starting with this vanilla custard recipe. Over the past several months, we'd tried a number of different ways to get the sugar crust on top without a torch; broiling just heated the custard and didn't caramelize the sugar, putting a bit of Gran Marnier on top and lighting that on fire wasn't hot enough to melt the sugar (though resulted in a nicely boozy dessert), and caramelizing the sugar in a pan beforehand made a crust that was 1/4" thick. It looks like a torch really is the best way to go! Unfortunately I didn't take pictures before the first one we made disappeared. Sidenote: this recipe also makes really, really good frozen custard. It's the same base, you just put it in an ice cream maker instead of baking it in ramekins. Amazingly decadent stuff...as might be expected from a recipe that solely consists of egg yolks, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla extract, and vanilla beans.

Hope you all had a lovely weekend and don't have anything too stressful planned for the week ahead!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

26 Things by 26

In September, I started a list of 26 things I want to do before my 26th birthday near the end of March. In the spirit of having more adventures in the new year, I thought I'd share this here. The list is in no particular order (and stayed stuck at 17 or 18 things for a few months...surprising how hard it was to come up with things appropriate for the time range/seasons I'd be experiencing!). Many, many items involve food. Bold items have already been done. Italicized items are in progress.
  1. Go apple picking. I did this last October out in Western Mass with the boyfriend and his sister. We were eating apples for weeks! (For future reference: a bushel is a LOT of apples. Also, fresh-picked apples can keep for weeks.)

  2. Submit at least one project to the Make blog

  3. See Sleep No More in NYC. I saw this site-specific show in Boston (three times), and it was amazing. Now it's in an even larger building in New York. Must see again!

  4. Try aerial silks or trapeze.

  5. Eat food from an ethnic cuisine I’ve never tried before (Afghan, Ethiopian?)

  6. Go to the Brimfield Antiques Market A few friends and I went out to Brimfield, MA in September to see the giant show that comes to town a few times over the summer. Absolutely overwhelming and fascinating amount of stuff. I came home with a pendant and a set of Pyrex Friendship pattern mixing bowls that I was inexplicably drawn to. It became more explicable when I realized I'd pinned a picture of almost the exact set a few months previously:

  7. Learn Python.

  8. Sew a dress from a 1950’s vintage pattern. I've used a few of my 1960's patterns, but not the 1950's ones.

  9. Run a 10K race. I ran my first 10K in October, the Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women. When I registered for the race in the summer, I was looking forward to how easy it would be to run mid-October, when it had finally cooled down. That was...not a good day for the weather to randomly be 80 degrees. It was a tough run, but I did it!

  10. See the glass flowers exhibit at the Harvard Natural History Museum.

  11. Visit the Boston Aquarium. (I bought Living Social discount tickets, so this will happen by the end of the month.)

  12. Learn how to make a cheesecake. Springform pan purchased with some holiday Amazon money, so hopefully this one will happen soon!

  13. Finish a crocheted afghan. I made a crocheted zigzag blanket for my best friend's holiday present (which I probably should have gotten a picture of before I shipped it off to her.

  14. Make cinnamon rolls from scratch. Preferably these cinnamon rolls
  15. .
  16. Go to at least 10 performances (theater/dance/music/etc.) (So far: Mary Zimmerman's amazing Candide, Vanessa Carlton at House of Blues, a school Chamber Music concert, Arabian Nights, La Cage Aux Folles, a Terry Riley concert)

  17. Watch a Woody Allen movie. Surprisingly, I've never seen any.

  18. Learn to make risotto.
  19. .
  20. Start some homemade vanilla extract.

  21. Work through this set of iPhone programming examples.

  22. Eat no refined sugar for a week. When I was a kid, my family didn't eat sugar...my sweet tooth kicked in as a teenager (and especially in college), but I'd like to see how I would feel if I totally avoided sugar for a bit.

  23. Find (and wear in public) a great shade of lipstick.

  24. Eat bagels in Brookline.
  25. .
  26. See at least 5 movies in the theater. I saw the new Sherlock Holmes movie and the Tintin movie over the holidays.

  27. Complete NaBloPoMo.

  28. Make this amazing frozen Gran Marnier torte with dark chocolate and cranberries. The springform pan is purchased...cranberries are in my refrigerator...this is happening soon!

  29. Spend a day without using the internet. (This one may be, perhaps, the hardest to complete. We'll see...)

What's on your list of adventures to try in the next few months?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Layering, Adulthood, and other Friday Musings

Today's outfit shows off one of my winter-survival dressing techniques: take a dress. Then wear it over a turtleneck and fleece tights. It's like you have two outfits on!

Today was a pretty long day at the lab, including a couple of hours of giving demos of our group's work to a large number of sponsors from China. It made me wish I was one of the couple of folks in our group who speak Chinese, as it's always a bit harder to demo through interpreters. Though it seemed everyone was having a fair amount of difficulty trying to translate concepts like "14 independent channels of lighting" or "frequency domain analysis".

I then spent the evening going with my mother to Ikea to pick up a few things for her, and ended up getting a new little rug and lamp for by my bed to replace the tropical-floral-print ones that I got when I moved into my first college dorm room. Another goal of sorts for this year (formed when the boyfriend and I came back from visiting his family for the holidays) is Operation Make This Place Look Like Adults Live Here. Better cleaning and decluttering is a huge part of this. As is very slowly updating a handful of decor items. Anyone who considers themselves a "grown-up," do you have any suggestions for how to make someplace feel like an adult home rather than a dorm room? We don't have any posters or things like that, but the overall impression still seems young to me...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Neverending Blanket Project

I've decided that one of the crochet projects I most want to do this year is finishing this partly-made white blanket:

It looks so simple! It's done in one basic pattern stitch, one color of yarn...the yarn is soft and easy to work with, and the stitching moves along quickly. What this blanket is hiding is that it's fairly big (well, at least really wide). When I started making it, I made the first few rows too wide, and at that point I wasn't going to unravel it and start over...no, I was going to keep going until it was tall enough to become a blanket of balanced proportions! I was going to finish this blanket! So I kept at it here and there for...I think a few months, at least. Periodically picking it up and working a few more rows. Until I eventually got bored halfway through and stuck it in a bin with the rest of the yarn.

Now, the difficulty is that I'm pretty sure I stuck it in that bin about...10-12 years ago? When I went off to college, it stayed home (having not been touched for years). A couple of years ago, the bin of yarn and blanket ended up in my apartment. And now, having built my confidence by making an afghan for my best friend's holiday present, I want to tackle this one and get it crossed off my unfinished projects list once and for all! (Fortunately, my yarn tension appears to have remained fairly steady.) Hoping to show you the full blanket within the next month or two...

What's the longest time you've had a project only partly finished? Did you ever go back and complete it, or did you decide it wasn't worth your time?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I do believe it's winter, now...

It may have taken until January for Boston to get really cold (well, a high of 26 degrees today, which is not as cold as it will get this winter, though significantly colder than December's upper-30's-mid-40's kind of weather), but now we're in what I'd legitimately label as winter. Not my favorite season, but I think this one will be short enough that I can manage.

Thus, today's weather necessitated pulling out my giant leopard-print coat. It's bulky and on the bold end for my taste, but also very warm!

Now where's that snow?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Fuzzy Crochet Cowl

I'm finally back at home today, after spending the holidays out of town with my boyfriend's family. Now time for the cleaning/organizing/crafting to slowly begin! My major craft project today was finishing up the crocheted cowl scarf that I started over the holidays.

I used this cowl pattern and several skeins of fuzzy gray yarn from my giant freecycle stash. This worked up pretty easily, and I learned how to do a couple new stitches for it. Only problem is that the yarn sheds all over the place. My shirt now looks like I own a dog!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Craft Projects for the New Year

Today I thought I'd share some of the craft projects that are inspiring me to make things in the next few months. I'm hoping to work on some stash-busting, going along with the decluttering resolution. Last year I at least made some progress with the stash-organizing...now to keep using what I've stockpiled!

I definitely want to make some progress with my stash of vintage patterns (mostly acquired via Ebay a couple of years ago). Working through a few of these would help with my fabric stash and my sewing skills...

Source: My Vintage Crafts

Also on my list are some lace-covered skirts and dresses. I have literally a dresser drawer full of lace and lacy pieces...thrifted curtains and tablecloths, bits of lace trim, etc. I've made one lace-covered skirt, but have materials for more!

Source: etsy.com via Elly on Pinterest

Source: outsapop.com via Elly on Pinterest

I'm also hoping to do some home-decor projects. Don't you love this paper-backed shelf?

Source: flickr.com via Elly on Pinterest

I've been wanting to re-cover some of the accent pillows on my couch and armchairs. I love the idea of using bold floral fabric like this:

I also need to find some new crocheting projects to help me work through my giant yarn stash (mostly via Freecycle). I'd made a few holiday presents - an afghan for a friend and some baby hats for my boyfriend's young cousins - and am now just about done with a giant furry cowl scarf, looking for new patterns.

Maybe some of these Tea Cup Bunnies?

Or a pullover?

Anyone have any exciting crafting/DIY projects you're looking forward to tackling this year?
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