Friday, June 29, 2012

what i'm working on : uncommon

So I've been patiently waiting to share this with you but I have sold 6 of my designs to Uncommon which is a company that sells custom and designer iPhone and iPad cases! Order online here! Haha I'm just kidding (unless you really are in the market for a new case).  Big thanks to my friend A who works at Uncommon and opened the door for me to send in some designs.

I hope they sell well so I will be asked to submit more work ... oh, and get paid.  LOL!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

unsolicited wedding advice wednesdays : shapewear

I think every girl wants to look her best whether it's on her wedding day or just going out for the day. All of us have some part of our body that we're not happy with but sometimes it's nice to get a little help if we can. Shapewear has come a long way over the years and could potentially make you look way thinner than you actually are. I say, if you can trick the eye into making yourself look thinner, why not?!  I happened to catch a re-run episode of Dr. Oz when he had Janie Byant who is the costumer designer for Madmen and some of her recommendations for shapewear that she uses on the show.

If you're more of a pear shape (more weight in hips and thighs) she recommended two products from Rago.  First is the Upper Body Extra Firm Shaping Long Line Bra ($44) and the Leg Shaper Firm Shaping ($37). Bryant simplified the names of the products on the show but I think these are the ones she showed. Both of these are the two images below. If you'd like to see some of Rago's products in action there are some YouTube videos of women before and after wearing different shapewear by Rago, here.

If you're more of an apple shape (more weight in the belly area) Bryant recommended Flexees Easy-Up Strapless Unitard from Maidenform ($38.99-$44). Ok, so if you're like me the first thing you'll think when you see the picture below is, "Why are there straps when the product is supposed to be strapless." Well, the straps are removable so I guess it's both. 

If you're in need of some help all around, Bryant recommended Bodysuit with Legs ($92, comes with or without an underwire) by Lipo in a Box (image below). This is supposed to suck and shape everything from the bust all the way down to the thighs.

Lastly, (or firstly?) the image at the very top of this post is shapewear recommendation from a different episode of Dr. Oz from Emme the plus-size model. She recommended the Flexees Ultimate Slimmer Wear Your Own Bra (WYOB) Torsette Body Briefer ($36) from Maidenform. She liked that you could wear your own bra while still getting be benefits from shapewear. You can check out the video from the episode, here.

Also, I'd like to include a short clip also from the Dr. Oz (I swear, I rarely watch this show!!) show that rather convincingly explains why you should always wash worn shapewear after every use. It's kind of gross but it's informational, here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

new sharpees

Am I the only one that hasn't seen these new Sharpie pens?? C'mon, if you're a student then the highlighter Sharpees are a must and if you are like me and can't resist buying Sharpees in all their forms then these new brush tip Sharpees are killer. The best of both fine point and ultra fine point worlds. but wait there's more, there are new Stained Sharpees that are fabric markers also with the brush tip. Perfect for summer projects for kids and adults. Although, I do fear for parents who may have these just laying around. I can just imagine kids trying to do painting projects at home on their own with these when their parents aren't looking. :\ Stock up on Mr. Clean Magic Erasers! If you're specifically looking for any of these sold individually then I'd definitely check your local art supply store (buy local!) but I also saw them individually at Target.

Monday, June 25, 2012

the new 'do

And when I said I was going to "chop the mop" I surely meant it! Saturday, Mark and I headed to the Chicago to a suggested hair studio (a.k.a. salon) from C, called Milio's. I gave them a call to make an appointment a few days before and told them I was a new customer and basically I had to take my chances on who the receptionist would give me as my stylist. 

I arrived pretty apprehensive because I haven't had to "date" a hair stylist in a very long time. I was introduced to Jeannette and we chatted a little and I showed her a picture of the "faux hawk" look that I wanted. She seemed pretty surprised and immediately asked me if I knew that this would require taking the time to blow dry and style the hair every morning. I told her I did but she still kind of looked unconvinced. I tried to explain that I've had pixie cuts in the past so I wasn't a newbie to the short hair club. 

*snip, snip, snip* An hour later we were both at a point that we felt happy with the 'do. I really appreciated how open she was to making the style a collaborative effort as opposed to her getting offended when I asked to take some more off the top. She styled the finished hair cut with more of a "floppy" look (first image below) when I walked out the door and Sunday I styled it more with a faux hawk look (last image below). I think this is probably my most favorite hair cut to date because of its versatility. If you're in the Chicago area and need a hair cut then check out Milio's and ask for Jeannette (she works Tue - Sat)!

Friday, June 22, 2012

hair cut time

Boy do I love a good hair cut. I love chopping off the mop to something short and sassy. But I've had a hard time getting a cut here in IL because my go-to stylist is all the way in CA, I miss Linda. Right after the wedding last year I chopped off all the hair that I had worked so hard to grow for the wedding and got a little pixie cut and it felt awesome. This year the IL heat is prompting me to cut off all the hair that has grown in the past year...

So tomorrow I'll be heading to a new-to-me salon in Chicago, IL for a new 'do for the summer! I feel kind of nervous getting my hair done by someone I haven't gone to before but the deed must be done! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

unsolicited wedding advice wednesdays : wrap it up

Boy do I have a major weakness for scarves. I love 'em. If I were still in Southern CA I could definitely justify wearing a scarf or having one handy in the summer because the desert temperatures dip dramatically once the sun goes down. 

If you're in a wedding nowadays that tends to mean you're going to be wearing a dress with thin straps or more common a strapless dress. In the cooler months this means you'll be exposed to the elements of cold and wind but in the warmer months this means you'll be exposed to the sun. The last thing you want is to be sunburned in wedding pictures. 

Having a thin, longish, light material scarf to wrap around your shoulders might be an interesting option this summer rather than a light sweater, shrug, even a pashmina (which tends to be heavier), or God forbid a taffeta wrap. Scarves are awesome because of the sheer quantity of different colors and patterns available and they're easy to tuck away in a small purse unlike a sweater. All the scarves shown are from Scarves Dot Net which offers a heck of a lot of variety and at great prices. Also, check out their ever growing Knot Library of different ways to wear a scarf. 

row 1: Ryder Tassel Scarf ($16.96), Alex Striped Scarf ($16.96)
row 2: Rae Aztec Scarf ($16.96), Tristan Zig-Zag Scarf ($16.96)
row 3: Cassidy Zig-Zag Scarf ($15.26), Amanda Gingham Scarf ($12.71)

Monday, June 18, 2012

i won't give up

Jason Mraz definitely has a knack for writing love songs. I think almost every wedding I went to in 2011 had "Lucky" playing at one point (including mine!). My prediction is that "I Won't Give Up" will be the "it" song for 2012. Almost more than Jason himself I am mesmerized by the woman accompanying him in this video. I mean, how many different instruments can one person play? Keep an eye on her foot when she lifts and drops a tambourine off the ground with only her foot while keeping time. Crazy.  

Friday, June 15, 2012


Have you ever had an amazing idea for a product that would totally make your life easier? Or do you already have a product that is just a few design flaws short of being perfect for what you need it for? If this has happened to you then think about submitting your idea to Quirky. It's a website that everyday people submit ideas to and potentially have their ideas made into real products. Each idea submission costs $10 but I could see why they would do that. Otherwise some 16 year old schmuck might just sit on his computer for 8 hours submitting stupid ideas. LOL Who knows, maybe you have the next big idea!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

unsolicited wedding advice wednesdays : professional bobby pins

Before my friend Linda offered to do my hair and makeup for my wedding I was fully prepared to do my own in order save some money. She is an awesome stylist and if you're in the Irvine, CA area I fully recommend her. Even though I live in IL now I only let Linda cut my hair so I always pencil her in when I'm home visiting CA.

Cut to Linda and me doing a pre-wedding consultation last year and she had to do some twists and braids with my mid-length hair. She used some bobby pins that were freakishly strong. Come to find out that they were professional grade bobby pins that kick those Goody bobby pins you buy at Target in the face! They are actually crazy strong and don't warp after one use. I had always thought that bobby pins just did that - warp and lose their hold like it was their fatal flaw. No sir, not with the professional grade bobby pins. I saved all the pins after the wedding and have used them for a full year and they're still going strong.

If you need to do your own hair and are in need of some pins I suggest going the extra mile and buying the pro stuff. There are several brands out there but here's one that is on Amazon - Marianna Supreme Bobby Pins, 1lb box for $8.99. Better yet, visit your local professional beauty supply store and test them out in person before you buy. They seem to usually come in a box versus on a piece of cardboard.

Monday, June 11, 2012

pappy's smokehouse

So our weekend consisted of a road trip down to Springfield, MO but our friends suggested that we stop by St. Louis on the way for some BBQ at Pappy's Smokehouse. We ordered a half slab of ribs with slaw and fried corn on the cob as well as beef brisket and pulled pork with fried corn on the cob and sweet potato fries. Yes, it was just the two of us and, yes, we ate every last bite. I say with full confidence and complete passion that this is THE best BBQ that Mark and I have ever eaten in our entire lives. We reminisce about this day by saying to each other, "Remember that one time we had Pappy's?" This is pork so good that you don't need sauce. We arrived when the place opened on a Thursday and by the time we got our food (maybe 5 min) there was a line to the back of the restaurant. By the time we finished our food and left there was a line wrapping outside the restaurant. Our original plan was to stop by for lunch on our way home but things didn't work out as planned and we were so disappointed that we decided not to talk about it on the way home.

If you ever find yourself near St. Louis, MO you MUST go to Pappy's Smokehouse!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

road trip!

It's my first time seeing the St. Louis arch and it was pretty impressive. I think the size of it doesn't translate very well in this picture that I took while we were driving but I cannot even imagine how it was built. More adventures to come!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

unsolicited wedding advice wednesdays : wedding attire

Weddings have changed a lot in recent years. They are no longer the predictable and strictly formal occasion with traditional restrictions or boundaries. Weddings nowadays have so many different styles and formality levels which is wonderful but can also be confusing for guests. A common question for family and friends to ask is, "What's the dress code?" The wedding stationery, wedding time (evening versus daytime), and location (beach versus church) may give some clue as to whether the wedding will be formal, casual, or somewhere in between but these are hardly concrete indications of the dress code. Probably one of the most embarrassing feelings as a guest is to arrive the day of the wedding and suddenly realize that you are either horribly under or over dressed. 

One way to help your guests plan and feel at ease is to just flat out state what the dress code is on the invite or your wedding website.
  • Formal (black tie/white tie) - usually this requires a specific kind of suit and tie or tux for men and an evening gown for women. 
  • Semi-Formal - probably the closest thing that most people can relate to is prom. Suits and ties for men and gowns or cocktail dresses for women.
  • Informal - could mean something like a nice polo shirt with kakis for men and cocktail dresses for women. Probably something you'd wear on a nicer date.
  • Casual - could mean nice t-shirt and jeans for men and an everyday kind of dress for women.
  • Costume - specifies if there is a theme or a "look" to the wedding and for the wedding guests (i.e. "vintage" look, 1960's/Madmen look, nautical look, etc).
It should go without saying that guests should dress respectfully and cleanly regardless of casualness. Categories help but as you can tell there are often some overlaps so it's helpful to be as specific as possible so guests will have a better idea of what "Informal Dress Code" might mean to you. In addition to written communication of the dress code, verbal communication is also important. Older guests and family will probably ask the couple's parents for guidance so explaining thoroughly to both sets of parents would be wise. Otherwise they might communicate incorrect information like a bad game of "Operator."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

moonrise kingdom!

via www.

Finally! Moonrise Kingdom will we opening (in select theaters) this Friday! Unfortunately, for me the closest theater that is showing it is an hour+ away. But maybe you'll be luckier than me (especially if you live in CA, sheesh). Find a theater near you, here. You can listen to an interview with the director, Wes Anderson, interviewed by Terry Gross from Fresh Air on NPR, here.

Monday, June 4, 2012

deconstructed banana cream pie

I have been a fan of banana cream pie for a long time. It's yummy and usually pretty cheap to purchase. But I've noticed that oddly enough I have a hard time finding a good/convenient pie place here in IL. I would have thought the midwest would be crawling with pie places but they don't even have Marie Callenders or Polly Pies here. Boo. Something similar to banana cream pie would be banana pudding. Good banana pudding will have real pieces of banana mixed in and pieces of graham cracker or Nilla wafers too. Sidebar: have you tried the banana pudding milk shake at Chick-fil-a yet?  If you haven't then you need to get in your car right now and get one. But I digress ... so my love for things banana has led me to today when I thought I'd create my own take on the banana cream pie but deconstructed.

So I put crushed graham cracker on the bottom of an individual trifle bowl and then added frozen banana slices then topped that with whipped topping and garnished with more crushed graham cracker pieces. It's not a pie and it's not banana pudding but it's something in between and yet totally different, you follow? All the same components but deconstructed and put back together. Mark really liked the finished product and it was a very refreshing treat on a hot IL day like today. Frozen banana pieces are still very chewable so don't worry about it breaking your teeth.

Deconstructed Banana Cream Pie, serves 6
3 large bananas, sliced and frozen
6 whole graham cracker sheets (or about 8 Nilla wafers)
whipped topping recipe from Cook's Country (follow link or see below)

1. Slice bananas and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for several hours or overnight. About half a banana will be for one serving. 2. To make a single serving start by crushing half a graham cracker sheet or 4 Nilla wafers and place in the bottom of your individual serving vessel. Next, layer with about 8-11 slices of frozen banana depending on how thick your slices are. Then top with whipped topping using a spoon or pipe in a plastic bag with or without a pastry tip, roughly about 1/4 cup. Lastly, garnish the whipped topping with the remaining half sheet of graham cracker or 4 Nilla wafers. Repeat to finish the other 5 servings.

Whipped Topping (from Cook's Country)
4 ounces of cream cheese, softened
3 Tb sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream

With electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth, about 30 seconds. With mixer running, add cream and whip until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

weekend snapshot

This weekend has been the first full weekend that Mark and I have had together in almost a year. Finally his work schedule is back to a normal Mon-Fri pace. This Saturday he planned for us to visit the Lincoln Park Zoo and have lunch in the city together. It was a wonderful day with my sweet hubby. Here's a snapshot of the downtown skyline from in the car as we left the zoo.
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