Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Project Runway Take 3 - NY Nite Life

Man, I have stuff to write about even before this episode starts.

Earlier in the week I saw Bravo's Project Runway website report that shorty-shorts Wesley and Daniel are dating. And now I can't find anything about it but it certainly explained Daniel's comments about "connecting" with Wesley and being sad that he is gone.

Keith Bryce - good to know he is from Mormon stock and so far he's not trashing the church or his family. I like that he is well-spoken and doesn't use as much slang as most of the designers do - he seems so much more professional. Probably because he is! Thanks to Your Heart Out, I found Keith's website, Filthy Gorgeous: Urban Couture Clothing and Artist Network. Certainly not my style, but interesting to check out. The website seems to be a work in progress because although the structure is there, the content is mostly empty.

I love it when they give the designers cameras - they always find cool stuff. And it's nice to focus on New York since this is the last season here and LA is sooo different. I hope the show isn't ruined, but it could be really cool. When I finally get to New York City I really want to go visit Mood - it's cool to see what they have and I'm glad the designers finally got to pick their own fabrics - we see each of their visions better.

Bravo's website is great, but be warned. If you are watching the episode later than East Coast time, you might spoil it for yourself. I went online to vote about Tim's new catch-phrase and they showed the loser on the sidebar! Ouch, I was so sad - I hadn't even seen the dresses on the runway yet. I love Tim Gunn! He was so funny with the Holla At Cha Boy thing. Check out this picture of him. Tim thought Jerrell should have made the top three, according to his blog. I actually loved his comments on all the designs, because we don't always get to hear what he thinks about the final designs.


Thoughts During the Show

There sure are some pretty girls this season - I love Kenley's look with the 30s and 40s aesthetic. She seems very talented and knows her own mind - I think she'll go far. Emily is very pretty too, but seems too cliche and wishy washy.

Terri has been pretty quiet so far, but it's nice to learn a little more about her. I wish the producers would give us more info on all the designers sooner - it makes me care more and it keeps people watching.

Stella, or Cheroin, as they call her, is pretty annoying to me - why does she not even know how to use a camera? She seems too old and out of it to be on Project Runway. And she's totally a one-trick pony. Her "leatha" outfit was awful, and apparently not even real leather (they only had $100). Why was she not in the bottom three?

Thoughts During the Runway Show

*I loved Leanne's skirt - and she came up with a basic black tank that didn't distract from it.
*Jennifer's dress is ugly!
*Yikes, so is Kelli's.
*Daniel's dress was okay - but am I the only one who thinks his model isn't very pretty. I mean, she has a gorgeous face, but her hair is awful. She just doesn't look much like a model to me.
*Why would Kenley make her model's hips look so big? A goiter - Sandra Bernhardt is so funny.
*Oh, I really like Korto's outfit - I'm glad she did pants and it still looks appropriate for night.
*I was worried about Terri's dress, but I thought it was cool in the end. Certainly different. And the judges loved it too!

The Best and Worst

Keith, Jennifer and Emily made up the bottom three and I certainly didn't like any of them. Although I really didn't like Kelli's or Stella's either - they were both worse than Keith's. I thought Jennifer's dress was the worst, but Emily's was pretty bad too. It's interesting to hear her say how great her dress was, even after she lost! Auf Weidersehn, Emily.


Terri, Leanne, and Kenley were the top three. I like how the judges commented on Leanne learning from the critique last week but keeping her own point of view still. Leanne's bangs are awful - her hair is kind of flat and boring. But I love her because I'm afraid that's exactly how my hair looks like 90% of the time! Except back in a ponytail. And I liked her design the best, but Kenley's was interesting too - and very original. But only suitable for wafer-thin models.


P.S. - Did the judges get to see the inspiration photos? Thanks to Bravo for the pictures!

Did everyone else get the American Express commercial with Diane Von Furstenburg? I've seen it before but still love it. I think she is an amazing designer and love her clothes. I hope to own one of her dresses someday - they are classic and I could justify the expense because it would be beautiful forever!

Check out another PR review and comments on Mormon Mommy Wars.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On My Nightstand III

What's On Your Nightstand

I've been doing "On My Nightstand" semi-regularly, but was inspired to post it today because of 5 Minutes for Books. If you're looking to see what other bloggers are reading, or some good reviews, check out the carnival at 5 Minutes for Books. Or write you own post and link up! They actually host it every month on the last Tuesday.

Carrot Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke
The Moms' Club Diaries, Notes from a World of Play Dates, Pacifiers, and Poignant Moments, compiled by Allyson Condie & Lindsay Hepworth
Dare to Repair: A Do-It-Herself Guide to Fixing (Almost) Anything in the Home by Julie Sussman & Stephanie Glakas-Tenet
Do It Herself: Everything you need to know to fix, maintain, and improve you home by Joanne Liebeler
Angus, Thongs, & Full Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison
The Food You Want to Eat - Ted Allen
You Never Did Learn to Knock: 14 Stories About Girls and Their Mothers, compiled by Bel Mooney

August issue of Martha Stewart Living
August issue of Cookie
August issue of domino
August issue of Lucky
Fall issue of Do It Yourself
August issue of Parents

I am actually reading the current issue of all the above magazines! Usually I am way behind. Although several of the above are still in the plastic. At least I have a few weeks before the September issues come out.

The Lucky Winner

Sorry I'm a little slow here, we're just getting back from a little vacations to the mountains. Did I mention how beautiful and cool it is up there? Gorgeous!

I'm happy to announce the winner of the Joanne Fluke giveaway is bookworm.

bookworm, please e-mail me your address and you can start devouring the books and all the great recipes.

Thanks again to Joanne Fluke for donating the books - remember to check out her website, Murder She Baked. She was even nice enough to send me my own copy of Carrot Cake Murder, thanks Jo! Can't wait to try the carrot cake and the almond cake.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Kids Wall Makeover - Peg Boards

My project inspiration came from the Company Kids Catalogue and was especially needed because this is what my boys' room looked like before. Read here to find out why we boarded up their windows.

I headed to my trusty Home Depot to find pegboards, which came in 2 foot by 4 foot sheets and were either unfinished, or with a cool, silver finish. I bought 2 sheets of silver pegboard for $3.29 each. I also bought several kinds of latches, for a couple bucks each.

I decided to leave my pegboard uncut to save time & effort, but I wanted to paint it to spruce things up. I used painters tape to map out stripes and used plain craft paint available from Michael's or just about any craft store. I realized as soon as I started painting that the shiny pegboard would need a primer for the paint to stick. Luckily I had some Kilz, in an easy spray can. I sprayed the stripes and was able to paint over them within 30 minutes. After the colored paint was dry I applied a clear gloss finish. I thought about using a magnetic primer and then painting the whole board, but at $20 it was more money than I wanted to spend on this project. It's a great idea though - you paint the primer on just about anything to turn it into a magnetic surface so you can use cute magnets with it.

Thanks to the unexpected early arrival of my husband from work on Wednesday, I was able to haul the MDF boards out of the boys' room and to the back porch. I toiled in the heat to paint them the same color as the walls (with hopes of blending in). And thankfully they were dry enough to put back before bedtime.

The first order of business the next morning was to attach the MDF sheets to the wall so little monkeys couldn't pull them down. One of the boards I attached with a latch that my husband or I could easily remove in the event of a fire or other emergency. I realized I needed the wall to be level with the board so the halves of the latch would match up, so I cut a small piece of MDF and mounted it to the wall above the board, attaching it to the stud. But first I screwed the top half of the latch to the small piece. A word to the wise - don't screw or drill into things while they are resting on your wood furniture. And don't tell my husband that the two small holes in the top of the dresser are from me! I'm blaming it on the 2 year old. Here's what it looks like now, working latch and all. And no, I will probably never get around to paining that other piece of MDF, but you never know.

I found some good advice at On The House, with info on using plastic spacers to mount your pegboard, rather than the traditional wooden strips used to create an empty space behind the board. I didn't think about it, but it makes sense - you need room to install the pegs. The spacer is just a little plastic cylinder, about 0.75 inches long. I bought pegs that came with spacers, but found the spacers by themselves at the hardware store too.

Since I had dead space behind MDF boards because of the window I decided to bolt the pegboard just to the MDF. So I drilled through the MDF with my trust green drill, slipped a bolt through the pegboard, then through the spacer, then through the board. I added a lock washer and a nut, and voila! If you don't know what these terms mean, I plan to do a glossary of tools and hardware soon - keep checking back. I attached the board in 6 places and it's secure enough I withstand a 2 year old hanging from a peg. I can't vouch for the 2 year old though. AFTER I bolted the pegboard on, I screwed the MDF board to 2 studs, at the top above the window.

I bought two packages of assorted pegs and hooks, trying to get ones with a rubber protector over the end, to avoid gouged-out eyes and other bodily injuries. I chose these because they have little plastic clips that you put over the installed pegs that keep them from falling out. In my case, I'm hoping those clips keep the 2 year old from pulling all the hooks out.

I am thrilled to finish this project, and am not planning to do more for the time being. But... it's not really as great looking as I imagined. Of course, when this is what you're going for, disappointment is bound to happen. Maybe I'll get to some additions and finishing touches, like framing, sometime in the future. I must admit everything looked a lot better once we hung things on the pegs. And the boys love it!

I wanted to add some corkboards in addition to the pegboard, but I don't quite trust my 2-year-old with sharp pushpins. That's the understatement of the year. Maybe in a few years. Check out Nesting Place for some beautifully covered corkboards the Nester did for her kids. I've attempted this before, but never with the beautiful results Nester gets. But I'm thinking of trying again for my office/craft room/sewing room/baby's room (for another 6-12 months). There are several rooms ahead of that one on my redo list, but I'll get there.

This project was part of Boo Mama's Before and After. Click on over to see other great projects around the house.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Project Runway Take 2 - Green Fabrics

I'm writing a lot of this post while I watch Project Runway tonight, so it might be a bit free-form and stream-of-consciousness. And it jumps from present to past tense in a hopefully not too annoying way. Cause I'm fun like that.

I think the model point of view and it's evolution has been interesting through the seasons. The first season the designers seemed to pick different models every challenge, at least until it got down to the final five or six designers. That has changed over time, with huge drama over the stealing of other designers' models. Last season the models seemed to be very behind the scenes, without much emphasis on their point of view. So this episode starts off with a big spotlight on the models; these beauties got to be the clients and actually do all the fabric shopping.

I'm so not a green person, but I try to respect those who are, rather than make fun of them. Green fabrics are great though, they're the already classic ones - cotton, linen, silk, bamboo, hmmm... can't think of any others.

Is anyone else having a hard time differentiating between Emily and Kenley? Just in the looks department, not necessarily design. And Jennifer and Leanne are quite similar to me also. Kind of soft-spoken with a small town vibe.

Blayne looks very cheap surfer-dude to me. With a gap tooth and squinty eyes. The -licious is getting very old already.

I guess Keith will be the Mormon favorite, being from Salt Lake City. With a classic last name like Bryce, you gotta think he comes from pioneer stock. My own 3 greats-grandfather was Ebenezer Bryce, whom Bryce Canyon National Park is named after. Since we're famous like that, we used Bryce for the middle name of our oldest son. I liked Keith's dress tonight, but it was very middle-of-the-pack.

Natalie Portman is so cute. Just finished watching Star Wars Episode 1-3 last week with my husband and she was the highlight of the series. And her costume designers were so great. My favorite was the white wrap jump-suit kind of thing. She could really move in it!

I was suprised the judges liked Stella's dress, it seemed older rocker-chick style with the one long-sleeve and the laced side. Like a throw-back from the 90s. But it certainly looked like Stella. I thought they should have picked Terri's dress instead for the top three - she did a cute belt like Kenley, but used a navy fabric and had a ruffled collar. And I thought that Kenley should have won the challenge; I loved her classic design with the fun, high collar.

It's seriously annoying how Suede refers to himself in the third person. Can they start beeping that out like they do with the cursing? But I have to admit, his dress was great! It was young and hip and Natalie loved it. Although I didn't pick him to win the challenge, there is no question that Suede went from the bottom to the top in one week. Guess we'll have to put up with his third person references for a while longer.

We say auf Wiedersehen to cute little Wesley and his short-shorts. His dress was awful and he knew it. He got stuck with the boring fabric that some of the other designers worked with, but none of them made it look so mangled. This looks like one of my projects gone very bad. Funny how he looks like his model below.

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit

I once read a Martha Stewart book, Great American Wreaths, that featured 51 wreaths, representative of every state in the nation, plus DC. There were some real beauties; some were not very feasible here in Arizona, but my favorite was the wreath for Idaho. It was a large oval shape done in concentric circles of brown (reminescent of potatoes I guess) and it was made entirely of dried beans. Yep, dried beans. Like pinto, kidney, small red, black, etc. That was many years ago and I've been wanting to try making one ever since, but of course have never done it.

This summer my sister-in-law is teaching a weekly craft class and she bought The Big-Ass Book of Crafts, by Mark Montano. As I thumbed through it I found a craft that also utilized the "magical fruit." (Sidenote: I taught my 3-year-old that song once when we were having beans and he thought it was hilarious. But he really didn't get it.) Dried beans are glued to a piece of canvas to make a wall panel. I decided to try it out on a little bit smaller scale.

I bought a cheap wooden picture frame from the craft section of Walmart, drew on a design in pencil, and started gluing! I really liked the border design from the craft book and copied it the best I could. I used Clear Gel Tacky Glue and small black beans, red and pink kidney beans, and white rice.

I liked the look of it above, with all the beans on, but went ahead and filled in all the non-bean areas with white rice. Then I finished everything off with 2 coats of Mod Podge.

The final product!

Next time I will paint the frame first, probably black or brown - I just left the edges as unfinished wood on mine. And I will try the a different sealant. Or better yet, next time I will try doing it on a canvas like The Big-Ass Craft Book suggests. Or maybe I'll tackle the Martha Stewart wreath.

Beans are great for a Kid Craft too - they can work right alongside you. I gave my three-year-old some beans and a paper plate, them helped him draw designs with the glue. It kept him busy for 30 minutes and he loved it! His creation is still reigning supreme on our frig a month later. It certainly Worked for Me.

For more Works for Me Wednesday tips check out Rocks in My Dryer.

Don't miss my Giveaway this week, plus a new delicious recipe!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Recipe & a Giveaway

This giveaway is closed. Find the winner here.

As a follow-up to Mouth-Watering Mysteries, I have a fun prize to giveaway! Joanne Fluke graciously gave permission for me to share a recipe with my readers and donated a couple of her Hannah Swensen books for the giveaway, including the one I reviewed, Carrot Cake Murder. She even autographed them! I can't wait until her next book comes out and she comes on tour here in Arizona - I'm definitely going to meet her. The other book is Key Lime Pie Murder, so if you love key lime pie then enter to win and try out Jo's recipe. (Oh yes, Jo & I are on a first name basis now.) She also included the cutest packet of carrot seeds to plant in your garden. Don't forget to visit her website, Murder She Baked.

To win the books please leave a comment and share your favorite mystery book/series or your favorite thing to make (recipes not necessary in the comments but if you have it posted somewhere please link to it so we can try it!). I will choose a winner on Sunday.

Cocoa Fudge Cake

Grease and flour a 9x13 cake pan and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2 c. sugar
2 c. flour

1 c. butter
1 c. water
3 Tbs. cocoa powder

1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs, beaten

In a large bowl, stir the sugar and flour together. Set aside.

Put the butter, water, and cocoa powder into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.

Pour the cocoa mixture over the sugar and flour, and mix it all up together.

Whisk the milk, vanilla, baking soda, and eggs together in a small bowl.

Add the egg mixture to the large bowl. Stir it until it's thoroughly incorporated.

Pour the batter into the greased and floured 9x13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. When the cake begins to shrink away from the sides of the pan, it's done.

Neverfail Fudge Frosting

1/2 c. salted butter
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. cream
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. chopped pecans (optional)

Place the butter, sugar, and cream into a medium-size saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Turn down the heat to medium and cook for two minutes.

Add the chocolate chips, stir them in until melted, and remove the saucepan from the heat.

Stir in the vanilla and the chopped pecans.

Pour the frosting on the cake and spread it out quickly with a spatula.

If you want this frosting to cool in a big hurry so that you can cut the cake, just slip it in the refrigerator, uncovered, for a half-hour or so.

St. Ives Best and Worst

For me, the frumpiest feeling in the world is dull, lackluster skin that seems to be flaking off in quarter size pieces. So my favorite way to Fight the Frump is by exfoliating! Let me start off with the disclaimer that my face is NOT sensitive. I think I could take a belt sander to the skin and not feel pain. My biggest spa day wish would be for microdermabrasion.

I'm sure you understand now when I say I exfoliate daily. And my product of choice...

St. Ives Apricot Scrub, Blemish Control. It costs $4-5 dollars at any grocery store, drug store, Target, Walmart, etc. I love that it is so easy to find, and I love that it is so cheap. Although it kills me to pay $5 sometimes because I remember when it was $2 or under. Yes, I have been using it since 1988. For those of you with quick math skills like mine, that's 20 years! You used to be able to purchase it in the big tub, which while economical, made a bigger mess since you have to unscrew the lib and scoop it out with your fingers.

I use this EVERY day in the shower. Well, okay, every day that I take a shower. I am a mom to small children. Don't tell me you managed a 20 minute shower everyday when you had a newborn. Apricot Scrub goes with me when I travel and if I somehow forget it, I buy some wherever I am - another reason I'm glad it's widely available. On the rare times I get rushed or interrupted in the shower and forget to scrub, I can tell immediately and my face feels tight, stiff, and kind of heavy. I like the Blemish Control version of Apricot scrub that was introduced a few years ago. I have perpetually breaking-out skin and love that my favorite scrub helps to control it. Although I must admit that since I first got pregnant, three kids ago, my skin has shaped up a lot. It's like using my procreative powers made my skin sit up and say, "Oh, she's a grown-up now. Guess it's time to get over the whole teenage angst thing."

Some day I will splurge for microdermabrasion at a professional place. Until then it's great that there are so many new "microdermabrasion" products. I tried L'oreal's version a couple years ago and liked it quite well. The scrub was great and I really enjoyed the accompanying post-treatment sunscreen moisturizer. Unfortunately the scrub was gone in a month and I used that moisturizer for the next six. Why can't you buy them separately? And the kit cost $25, which is more than this Beauty on a Budget gal can afford every month. So when my beloved St. Ives came out with their Elements collection, including Microderm Abrasion, I was excited to try it.

I bought it at my local grocery store, with a $2 off coupon. And I am sad to report I Do Not Like It! I want to, but I just don't. The grit in here is way too fine for my skin and I end up scrubbing so hard my fingers are sore from trying to push harder on my face. Now don't forget my first disclaimer about my leathery skin. For those of you with sensitive skin, the Elements Microderm Abrasion is probably perfect. For under $10 you should definitely try it. And I did find that when I used Microderm Abrasion AFTER my apricot scrub, the results were great! It's like sanding wood - start with the heavy duty sand paper and move to the fine grit stuff.

Please check out this post for a delicious chocolate cake recipe and a giveaway!

If you love Project Runway, check out my weekly recaps.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

BlogHop '08

I have a friend who lives in SF, and as much as I'd like to see her, mostly I'd like to be staying at her house for free, attending the BlogHer conference right now. I'm making a goal to attend next year. In absentia - I'm joining the stay-at-home parties, specifically Pensieve's BlogHop '08. This is a great idea to introduce yourself to some new bloggers and have some fun this weekend. Join in the party!

I'm Tara and this blog is all about the Well-Rounded Woman. As women, we find our lives very full and often sliced into many little pieces. We have developed a wide range of interests, hobbies, and skills, all of which help in our many roles and responsibilites. In running a family and maintaining a home we try to keep everything running smoothly without losing ourselves in the fray. This blog serves up slices of interest to the well-rounded women, including the following weekly features: Beauty on a Budget, Home and Family, and Do It Herself.

I also started a weekly recap of Project Runway, my latest fave show! If you love it too, check out my post on Thursdays.

I love magazines, TiVo, food, recipes, books, shopping, shoes & beauty products! And let's not forget blogging - some of my favorites are What About Mom, a little sussy, Bye Bye Pie, Picky Palate, Nesting Place, and These are a few of my Favorite Things.

Hope you are a kindred spirit and will bookmark The Well-Rounded Woman or subscribe to my feed.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Before: Kids Wall Makeover

This has been a planned project for a couple of months now, and I've actually already started some of the sub-projects, with proper picture-documenting for a Friday Do It Herself post. So when I found BooMama's Before and After challenge I knew this would be perfect. Make sure you check out her blog for many other fun Before and After home projects. She did post that she is changing the end date of the challenge. So rest assured, if you want to join in, the deadline is NOT July 25th. Thank goodness, because I need more time! She's thinking of Labor Day weekend - so check back for periodic updates on my project.


The two beautiful boards you see on the wall are our version of draperies. It seems when we did some creative furniture placement in our boys' room they thought it would be fun to pull the existing draperies out of the wall as quickly as possible. And then quickly make confetti out of the mini-blinds. It turns out I am not fond of waking at 4:45am, which is when the sun rises here and wakes my little monkeys up. My husband and I discussed options and then made a run to Home Depot and purchased two sheets of MDF that just cover up the windows. They're ugly but we're all sleeping much longer now. But to hide and spruce up our solution, here is the list of things that need to be done.
  1. Paint the boards the same color as the walls.

  2. Secure one board to the studs but find some kind of latch for the other - you know, in case there is a fire. Or in case Mom locks herself in the boys room (the locks were long ago reversed to the outside) and needs a quick escape route. This may or may not have already happened.
  3. Add some functional and fun display ideas. Here is my inspiration:

This picture is from Company Kids. Of course they don't sell it, which is fine because although their stuff is fabulous, I really can't afford it. But I can afford to dream, can't I?

Hooray! I finished this project. See the final reveal at the After post.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Project Runway Take 1

Oh how I love television. And TiVo. And Project Runway. I started watching Project Runway last season (3) but thanks to Bravo's marathon reruns I have compulsively watched all four seasons, some multiple times. Over the fourth of July weekend my husband took our "hard" kids out of town for several days, leaving me with a six-month-old and time to persue my more selfish hobbies. I watched the entire first season and somehow decided I could be a seamstress too. This is what my kitchen looked like over the weekend.

My husband will be shocked - I've done my best to convince him that sewing machine was just a paper weight . I was quite disappointed when the "1 Hour" skirt pattern I bought was only half-way finished after three or four hours. I guess I need to brush up on my basics.

And I figured the best way to brush up on basics was to watch the Project Runway Season Five Premiere last night! I thoroughly enjoyed it, possibly because it was finally a new episode, but am inspired enough to start a weekly recap here on my blog. Because The Well-Rounded Woman certainly should know how to design and construct beautiful clothes!

First stop this morning after watching the premiere, Bravo's website for PR. I could have spent hours and hours there, good thing I have needy children to pull me out before I was completely sucked in. But if you hanker for more PR news, please check it out. They even have all 14 episodes listed for this season, complete with titles, airdates, challenge, and guest judge. I think that takes some of the anticipation out of it, but maybe TiVo-less people will make sure they catch their favorites.

I didn't think the PR premiere was overly exciting - it's hard to care about 16 people you don't know much about. Tim said this is the most diverse group of designers they're ever had - I suppose so, but there seems to be a bit more grunge/goth/far-from-couture stuff. I suppose we'll see how versatile those people can be.

I just finished watching season one on TiVo so it was fun for me to see Austin back - and I didn't mind the re-run challenge either. It sure gives the designers a chance to show their creativity, but like the judges, I was disappointed with the range of materials. I agreed with the judges on the best and worst dresses, but would have chosen differently for the winner and loser. Here are my picks:

I thought Daniel was wildly inventive and the dress is beautiful; it looks like patent leather. Stella's garbage bag monstrosity was a huge cop-out and ugly to boot. But here are the judges picks:

Congratulations to Kelli, whose innovative design brought her the first win, and we say Auf Wiedersehn to Jerry. I agree that his outfit looks like a costume for a pyscho movie. But at least he made something. If he lost the gloves it would have been better.

As for my sewing projects, I might need to stick to pillowcases and pajama pants for a while.
Thanks for Bravo TV for all the images!
Check out all my Project Runway Recaps.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dare to Display Your Doilies

My sweet grandmother passed away last fall and I miss her. She was a talented seamstress and crafter and would patiently teach my three sisters and I how to crochet long strings or cross-stitch basic patterns. Even with six granddaughters she planned ahead and handmade birthday presents for each of us every year from age 11 to age 19. There was a specific item designated for each birthday, but as the oldest, I was suprised every year. My hope chest soon filled up with beautiful items, but by the time I married and was setting up a home of my own, some of my treasures seemed a bit outdated. I love my cross-stitched aprons and soft purple afghan, but wasn't a fan of the three large doilies my beloved Gram made for me. Yet I was proud of them and somehow wanted to display them. So I came up with this piece. I personally like it because it reminds me of my grandmother, but I have also received a lot of compliments and comments from guests. My mother-in-law is expecting one for Christmas this year.

I used a heavy piece of black fabric, mine has a tone on tone vertical stripe, and wrapped it around a piece of foam core display board. You can just duct tape it to the back. I also duct taped some wire back there to hang it. Then I bought ahpolstery tacks and just used them to tack my doily to the board. I thought about starching the doily to keep it flat and attached to the board, or glueing it somehow, but it's been fine for a couple years now. The biggest problem is keeping my display dust-free, since it's not in glass. But it Works for Me! Here's a shot of my project on the wall at a time when my kitchen was relatively clean.

For more Works for Me Wednesday tips check out Rocks in My Dryer.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Maxi Dress is not Short for Maximum Coverage

Every year there are some trends I hate, and some I love. And this summer there's one I hate to love - the maxi dress. I love it, but I hate to love it because I really can't wear it, nor do I want to recommend it. I have seen dozens of these dresses in magazines and online (not so many in real life) and the biggest reason they look so great is the balance. With the voluminous, floor-grazing skirts comes bare arms, shoulders, decolletage, and worse. And I think they look great on models. In real life, I are a firm believer in modesty for woman and personally do not wear sleeveless shirts or dresses. And many of the maxi dresses I have seen have halter tops, spaghetti straps, are strapless altogether, or most fun - have a neckline that plunges to the belly button. From a design standpoint, I can see the reason for some bareness. But for those who refuse to bare all, what choices are left for this latest trend?

I spent quite a bit of time online and did not find a lot. There were some options in long sleeves, if the maxi-dress survives to the fall (or late November here in Arizona). And much of my research was hypothetical, since the maxi dresses I found ran from $75 to $425. So much for Beauty on a Budget! Let's just pretend we're rich this week.

This is the first maxi dress I saw (in Lucky magazine) that made me think I might be able to wear this look. It would require a cami or something underneath to hide the cleavage, but I think it would still look good. Unfortunately for my pocketbook this dress is by Diane von Furstenberg and sells for $425. If you are rich in real life and not just for make believe, this Chiffon "Maupiti" dress can be purchased at Saks Fifth Avenue.

I adore this black maxi dress with actual sleeves! It's from Evans, a plus-size clothing company from the UK selling US sizes 10-28. Looking through their site, I really wish they had stores here, but they do ship to the states for a flat rate of 10 pounds. This dress retailed for 40 pounds. Too bad the dollar is in the toilet right now.

This is another plus sized option - the bolero jacket helps cover a bit of skin. I'm not sure I completely love the dress - the contrasting waist band and low-cut are too much for me. But again, I like the idea of using a little jacket to make a maxi dress more modest. I found it at Curvety.

And for a last option, this Elle Zigzag Smocked Maxi Dress from Kohl's doesn't have quite enough coverage for me, but would probably work well for many of you out there. I could add a little jacket or possibly baby tee underneath. It was originally $50 but is on sale for $37. Not bad!

To view some beautiful photos of maxi dresses, check out this slideshow at The Arizona Republic website. The Republic puts out a weekly "fashion magazine" in the newspaper called YES. On June 27th there was an article and and photo spread called Turn Up the Volume, all about maxi dresses. I'm not endorsing the lack of modesty in most of these dresses, but the photos and many of the dresses are so beautiful!
"Yards of whisper-thin fabrics and piles of sheer layers have morphed dresses into ethereal confections. The look is effortless when you're floating around in a stylish maxi dress. These floor-grazing frocks are perfect for keeping cool because they're nearly weightless. The trend is at its best when kept casual. Accessorize simply with flat sandals and a statement necklace or bangle. Or change up the silhouette of a voluminous dress by reining in layers with a vintage-inspired belt. We traveled to the University of Arizona in Tucson, where students from the School of Dance used an aerial swing and fans to show off the volume of summer dresses,lending their grace and balance to make the dresses float."

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