Tuesday, 31 January 2012

An Alteration

Does an alteration count as a refashion?  I'm always shortening the straps on my tank tops, but this time I "altered" a skirt.

There's something weird with my body shape because lots of times if clothing fits in the hips, it's too big in the waist.  And if the waist fits, then it pulls across the hip - or maybe it's my big tummy area!

I bought a skirt at Walmart. I know, I'm of two minds re: Walmart.  Do I buy into the low prices knowing that I'm contributing to the growing gap between rich and poor?  Just google what's wrong with Walmart to see what I mean. Or do I stick to my principles and avoid it like the plague? 

Well, this time I succumbed.  And found an already low-priced skirt which was marked down some more. I bought the smaller size, but it pulled and created an indented bowl effect in front.  It looked really weird.  I exchanged it for the next size up and then the waist was too big. 

So, I stitched it up by hand - basted I think it's called.  I used orange thread because I wasn't sure if it would look good and thought it might have to be undone, and didn't want to be squinting to pick out black thread.
You can just see the orange thread.

It looked okay, so I continued with black thread and here is the result:
Hard to see, but the red outline is where it's taken in
I tried it on and it looks normal! I think this counts as my first real "alteration" and am going to wear it soon.

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Monday, 30 January 2012

Peachy Keen

Today's Visible Monday was also a peachy Monday.  I have a sweater-y top which I quite like the shape of.  It has a relatively high waist and looks quite nice on.  But, it has a such a super low v-neck that it needs a tank under it.  The v-neck goes down past the bottom of my bra! - who would wear it like that?  So I wore a ruffled tank under it.  You can just barely see it in the photo:

what i wore

It still seemed a bit bare at the neck, so I added a big scarf.  And then a ruffled cardigan for warmth.
I felt quite feminine and colourful all day.
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Sunday, 29 January 2012

Bucket List Item

When I was younger, (c'mon, not that many years ago), I loved to run, especially the longer distances and one of the things I always dreamed of doing was running a marathon.

Now 2 growing kids and lots of poundage later, it almost seems an impossible dream. But just today, I read on one of the blogs I follow (http://weight-loss-story.blogspot.com) of a success story: from 270 pounds to Ironman Cozumel!

So it's not impossible.  I'm going to start small and aim for not this year's, but next year's Sun Fun Run.  I`m hoping to get Big J interested too.


Okay, it's not a marathon, it's only 10k.  But it's a start. The fast runners finish in about 1/2 an hour, and the route is very nice - all along our sea wall. 

So: I`m starting my own Bucket List and Run a Marathon is going to be the first item on it.

How many items can you have on a Bucket List anyway?

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Saturday, 28 January 2012

Dragon Shrimp

As you know, it's the first week of year of the Dragon in the Chinese Zodiac and today Big J, kids and I went out for dinner with family and friends.  The restaurant we went to had a new year's lobster dinner.

In Chinese, the word for lobster is literally "Dragon Shrimp".  Thus the special menu item.
Lobster: Traditional Spelling

Practically every table ordered it.

We ordered many of the traditional New Year's food items: lobster, squab, lamb with bamboo shoots and dried bean curd, spicy beef, clams, noodles, fish, fried rice and veggies and a sweet dessert soup.

The symbolism: Lobster for the dragon year and plus it's red when cooked, squab for peace, fish for abundance, noodles for long life, bamboo shoots for wealth, dried bean curd for happiness.  Even the foods which were not symbolic had symbolic items thrown in.  Our spicy beef also had peanuts which mean long life.

I meant to take pictures of the food, but forgot to charge the batteries and as always, the camera conked out when it was picture time.

The food was quite yummy.  Unfortunately, the restaurant was super-busy and the dishes were veeery slow in coming, so we ended up just eating half the meal.

I still managed to wear red though:
red scarf
This is a hair scarf which was quite slippery so I used one of my trusty scarf pins to hold it together. 

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Friday, 27 January 2012

Embellished Scarf

Remember the scarf from last Monday?  Well, it has dingly-dangly things on it which I've always wanted to replace.  Half of the beads are missing from one end, although it's hard to see in the original post.
old bead

I wanted to replace them with one of these sets which I got from my favourite notions store:
package of beads
Should I go Big or Small?
They were only 99 cents and were 50% off.

I decided on the small ones and measured to see how much I needed:
measuring tape
That's almost 45 inches!

My original idea was to just sew the ribbon onto the edge of the scarf. But, the scarf was wider than I thought.  I only had 2 packages of the smaller beads at 3 feet each.  I didn't want to go back to the store, so decided to cut up the embellishment.  I thought maybe it would look better with fewer beads, not so bling and showy.

taped beads

all taped

I used tape to hold everything in place and just sewed right over it:

Then I just ripped off the tape.  I think this only works with that Magic Transparent Tape - the regular tape probably would not rip easily.

When all the bits are sewn, you have a lovely embellished scarf.
embellished scarf

I think it looks okay!  What do you think?

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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Robbie Burns Day

It's weight-loss Wednesday and I thought I'd post about the importance of fibre for example: oatmeal.

But first, here is my nod to Robbie Burns Day:
what i wore
This is the Dress Stewart Tartan
I have a red turtle neck under the holey pullover.  Still have to wear red for the rest of the week for Chinese New Year.

Now back to fibre: Fibre is very important for weight loss because it makes you feel full.  It's hard to digest, in fact I think we don't really digest it, so it passes through your system keeping you regular and taking along any bad toxins with it.  Also because it fills you up, you don't get hungry as fast and end up eating less.

There are lots of ways to get fibre in your diet:
  • Oatmeal (my favourite), but not the instant nuke-it oatmeal, you have to use those big flakes, the ones you need to cook.  I usually add dried fruit to it and have gradually reduced the brown sugar so now I don't need any sugar at all.
  • Switch from white bread to a whole grain or "squirelly" bread.  They say white bread is very bad for you, it has almost no nutritional value and makes a lumpy paste in your stomache.  I love white bread so this one is very hard for me to do.
  • Use whole wheat pasta instead of plain pasta
  • Eat lots of fruits and veggies.  Whenever possible, eat the fruit/veggie instead of drinking it.  More fibre.
One guy at my workplace lost 40 pounds! over the course of several months by having a daily bowl of oatmeal and eating more sensibly the rest of the time.

So, eat your fibre.  Even if you don't want to lose weight, fibre is good for you.

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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Wanted: A Hat

It's Tutorial-to-Try Tuesday.  I haven't found a tutorial yet for what I want to make.  As a confirmed bun-wearer, I find that it is not that easy to find hats that fit over or around the bun.

I was watching Coco before Chanel and noticed that in the old days, they used hatpins to "attach" the hat to the head.  You end up with the hat perched on top of the head like a showpiece which isn't quite what I want.  I'm more interested in keeping my ears warm in the cold.

I have 2 hats which work: one is just a regular hat, but I got a bigger size so it can cover the bun (and my ears) but just barely.  The other is one of those knit equestrian-looking hats with a small brim.  It's stretchy.

It does work well, but you get a bit of a bump at the back, which Big J says is not really noticeable. 

I think there must be a way to refashion a hat out of a sweater.  Something similar to this:
knit tam
Then the bun could just be covered by that extra bit at the bottom.

I can almost picture how to do it.  The waist band of the sweater (or perhaps the neck?) would be used to make the hat band which goes around the head.  I'm just not sure how the rest of it would be done.  Maybe use a kid's sweater?  Can anyone point me to a tutorial?

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Monday, 23 January 2012

What ? New Year Again?

Well its Chinese New Year today, the year is 4710, year of the Dragon.  I wanted to wear something red.  Red is supposed to ward off evil spirits.  I don't believe that myself, but do like to follow tradition, and it is Visible Monday, and I like red.
what i wore
You can't really tell in the picture, but everything else is brown, not black. I actually had a sweater on most of the day (it's a refashion fail, more on that later), so I looked a lot darker but I did have the big scarf floating around the front so it was still bright.

It's hard to tell in the pic, but the shirt is made up of a basket-weavey bunch of squares. 

Every other square has a hole in the middle.  Its a French label "Montagut" and was actually made in France.  I am quite happy that it fit because I remember it being a bit tight when I last wore it several years ago.

I also changed up my hair: I'm experimenting with ways to put up my hair and am using one of those Butterfly style hair clips.
butterfly hair clip

Don't quite have the hang of it yet, but it gets better each time.

Also wore my leopard coat again.
leopard coat
Didn't wear double tights, so my legs/feet were quite cold - those floor to ceiling windows are great for views, but not so good for keeping the heat in.

So, here is the refashion fail: 
My sweater has overly long sleeves and I had this idea to chop off some of the length and make some of those cute sweater cuffs.  I just measured for the cuff and chopped off the sleeves at that point, and stitched it up.  Big. Mistake.

Not sure what I did, but the sleeves ended up being about 1/2 an inch too short.  I tried wearing it like that but was constantly tugging at it.  So finally I sewed the sleeves back on.

I shortened it a bit by overlapping where it's sewn and then folded it back up.

It's shorter now, but a tad bulky, and you can sort of see a line where it is sewn together.  But I prefer that to the sleeves-too-short feeling.

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Sunday, 22 January 2012

Super Savings

Today was a very successful savings day.  The store had huge sales for some reason, so we saved $33.  We also had quite a few coupons for things we actually buy and ended up saving another $19.  So a total savings of $52Plus we got a free $16 box of chicken!

This might not sound like much compared to the savings you see on the Extreme Coupon show, but for up here in Lotusland, it's huge.  They actually had to call the supervisor because .... wait for it .... we had too many coupons!  Hardly anyone uses coupons here, maybe that's the reason they don't have 2 for 1s or double the face value like they do elsewhere.

No picture for this post, but I should try to learn to carry my camera.  Big J said everyone was looking at our buggy because it was so full.  Our cupboards are stuffed now, but it's just as well because this week is Exam week and one kid is off, so everything will probably be eaten by next weekend.

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Saturday, 21 January 2012

Blast from the Past

Big J and I spent the evening watching Sevillanas, a documentary by Carlos Saura, and then we hopped around youtube looking for videos on flamenco and sevillanas.

As you probably know, I'm a fan of fashion from a by-gone era, and it struck me while watching the videos that some of our current fashion is inspired by traditional Spanish flamenco garb.

See any familiar themes?

Carmen Amaya Ruffle
La Paquera de Jerez, polka-dots
Polka Dots
- the lady facing these 2 wore polka dots too!

Spanish Shawl

and finally all 3 in one outfit:
Feria de Sevilla
Now this is a look especially for Spain's April Fair, but you can see how the same elements are all still quite popular today.

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Thursday, 19 January 2012

Layers of Grey

Today's Thrifty Thursday post is an outfit post.  Here is today's outfit:

It was a long day

Multiple layers due to the extreme cold.  I'm wearing a s/s cardi over a polka-dot elbow cardi over a l/s turtleneck over a tank.  The bottom part is also multiple layers: footless lined tights over regular tights over knee socks over another pair of footless tights.  All crammed into my Spanish patrol boots. Was still a bit chilly outside even with a coat, hat and gloves.

Most of the items are from various boxing day sales, but the scarf was only a $1 from my fave vintage store which due to renovation and reconstruction is sadly no more.  The skirt is one of those elastic tube waist things which was reduced to 9.99 and then 50% off.

I was feeling adventurous and tried a mini pattern-mix which I've seen on a few other blogs and I think it looks okay:

All still very mono-chromatic, but cozy.  What I would've like to have included would be some bracelets, but couldn't decide what would match, so ended up doing nothing:

What d'ya think?

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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Woe is the Wii :(

The weight-loss project has ground to a screeching halt.  The Wii is dead.  It was working this morning but does not turn on anymore.  No more blue light.  No more Wii-fit.   No more old episodes of Stargate or X-Files on Netflix while using the elliptical trainer.  I can still do the waist exercises, but that's about it. Sigh. Big J will take a look at it tomorrow but it doesn't look good.

It's weight-loss Wednesday, and today's topic is snacking.  You would think that snacking is a bad thing, but it's actually the other way round.  They say you should eat every few hours.  It keeps the edge off and prevents you from eating huge meals.

But, you have to also watch what you eat: raw veggies are good.  They fill you up, are great finger food so you can eat it at your desk (we computer people live at our desks), and they make that satisfying crunch sound.  They are also low-cal as long as you don't cover them in dip.
plate of raw veggies
Yum! A plate of rabbit food!
Believe it or not, my fave is celery sticks.  I could eat them by the ton.  Raw veggies are also good because they are easy to carry.  Just throw some in a plastic baggie and you're done.  They don't leak and don't weigh much.  They also take quite a bit of time to eat because you have to munch and crunch.  You can't just wolf down baby carrots.

I've been reading about people who go on raw food diets and while I don't think I could go for months (or even weeks) eating only raw food, I'd like to try a day or two.   Has anyone tried this? 

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Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Faux Fur Trim Bag Refashion

It's supposed to be Tutorial-to-Try Tuesday, but I have a lovely refashion which I couldn't wait to post.

You know how faux fur is all the rage now?  Well I have a couple of projects on the go, but they are highly effort intensive and I wanted to do something for that quick hit of creative satisfaction.

So, take one KGB bag:
KGB bag

Some faux fur from my favourite notions store:
faux fur trim
This was only $2.99 and as soon as I saw the colour, I knew it would look great on the bag.

Then, just some two-sided tape from the hardware store et voila! Instant on-trend faux fur trimmed bag!
faux fur trimmed bag

I have enough to do another line, but I think it looks good like this too.  What do you think?

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Monday, 16 January 2012

Nepali Sweater

For today's Visible Monday, I wore a pink patched together sweater which always gets a lot of compliments.
what i wore

It looks almost tie-dyed and has funny writing on it.  It's from Nepal, so I think it's something like Sanskrit and I hope it doesn't say anything bad!

Nepali sweater

Now the visible part is not really the sweater.  For me, what makes it much more visible is that I normally wear my hair up and in a bun and haven't worn it down at work for at least 2 years.

It was very cold today, about -6 C (or 21 F), so lots of layers including 2 pairs of tights!  We had a big snowfall yesterday so everything looks like a Winter Wonderland.
snow-covered tree
Our curly hazelnut tree looks quite artsy

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Saturday, 14 January 2012

Not Fruit Cake !

Well, yesterday Big J, the kids and I all had a lovely dinner out which put me about a day behind in the weight loss fight.  We went to a Greek restaurant and although I had grilled kalamari, we also had Greek salad, fried kalamari, prawns, dessert and wine.

So, in order to get back on track, today would have to be a fewer calories than normal day.  It was going well until I decided I'd better eat some of the fruit cake before it goes bad.  I'm a big fruit cake fan and cut myself a huge slice.  But it is not all bad.

While trying to determine the number of calories in fruit cake, (I decided it was 500), I stumbled on this garage band:

Apparently there is a huge fruit cake festival every year in a small little town in eastern California called Independence, and this band will often play there.  The festival has a different theme each year like "Fruit Cakes in Space".

Fruit cakes are a love 'em or hate 'em kind of food and it's nice that there is a festival to celebrate this holiday food.

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Friday, 13 January 2012

Chinese New Year Wreath

Chinese New Year is almost upon us.  New Year's Eve will be on Sunday the 22nd so I thought it was time to start work on the 84 cent wreath.  The Lunar New Year heralds the coming of spring and in Asia is the most important holiday - similar to our Christmas.

There are a lot of traditions associated with the new year such as the colour red, firecrackers, money and fish.  Also, the new year would be the Year of the Dragon, so my plan was to incorporate all these things into the wreath.   Unfortunately, the stores are full of Valentine's Day items now - nothing to be had on the Lunar New Year front.

So, I decided to build on the "spring" theme, but include a few items which would make it Chinese.  I found some stemmed flowers at IKEA which were previously used in a display.
Cheap Stems
Can't Beat 10 Cents!

Flower Closeup

They also quite by chance also had Dragon finger puppets.  So I got a few.
Dragon Finger Puppet
Grrrrr !
Then it was just a matter of sticking the flowers onto the wreath.  The first few flowers I cut, not realizing that you could bend them into shape.  Newbie mistake. 
Working Away
Working Away
I put all the flowers on first. Here is the wreath 1/2 done:
Almost Done

It took about 2 hours to do, I was also skyping with my mom at the same time.  She thought I should include something red. After the flowers, I added the dragons, but it still did not seem very New Years-y. 

Big J suggested that I put a big Chinese word in the middle.  I didn't have one so instead I made a little centre bit with a lucky money packet and a red Christmas bow.

Here's how it turned out:
Chinese New Year Wreath
There are actually 3 dragons, but one is hidden in the shadows.  Hmm, not bad, I quite like it.

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Thursday, 12 January 2012

Make Your Own Fire Log

It's been freezing out these past few days and we've been using the wood stove. Today's Thrifty Thursday post is about making a faux fire log when you are low on wood.
Wood Stove

When you run out of wood you can roll up some newspapers instead, but unless the paper is rolled up tightly, and stays rolled up, the fire won't be very good.

Last year I read about making your own fire logs by rolling up wet newspapers and then laying out the newspaper logs to dry in the sun. Problem was it was work intensive, overly messy and since it rains here a lot, you can't count on the sun.

Then one day, Big J got this:
Toilet Paper Core
 and rolled up the newspaper inside it like this:
Faux Fire Log
Et Voila! Instant Faux Fire Log!

The only thing is it is very messy and you have to wear gloves:

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Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Tell Everyone

Yep, wore this today

It's Weight-loss Wednesday again, but I also included an outfit pic.  You can't really tell, but it was so cold, I wore 2 pairs of tights - a greenish one under the brown.  I thought it would be more visible but the pattern on the brown tights must've been too close.

This morning they had a short program about quitting smoking on the morning radio show.  The doctor said when you quit smoking, you have to tell everyone so that you can build up a support network.

Now I don't smoke, but I thought the same could apply to losing weight.  If you tell everyone your goals, you'll automatically have a lot more people helping you.  A guy at work has been trying to lose weight and to eat healthier foods.  And since he's told everyone, we don't pressure him to eat dessert etc at company lunches.

I've been using the Lose It online calorie tracking tool for about a week now and can see right away that I am eating a little too much for weight loss.  The culprit is all the leftover cake and chocolates from Christmas.

So today, I am making a conscious effort to keep my intake below the allowance.

Lose It screen
I still few a bit hungry, but am going to ignore it.  I probably could've eaten more except for the high-calorie microwaveable lunch I had which has gone onto my don't buy again list.

It was tasty and convenient but expensive ($4.99 regular price). It was also over-packaged: a plastic basket inside a plastic bowl wrapped in plastic and cardboard.  Never again.  Not very environmentally friendly. 

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Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Chic capelet

Tuesday means Tutorial to Try day.

I am quite often cold and am usually wearing 3 or 4 layers well into late spring. Usually I like to wear an over layer.

So, when I first started looking for refashion ideas, I leaned towards sweaters and I found this one by Made by Lex

The tutorial looks relatively easy and it looks sooo fashionable, and just the thing when you want a bit more warmth without the bulk.  I've been reviewing this one in my head for quite a while.  Not sure if I have the aplomb to carry it off though.

Apparently there is even enough leftover sweater bits to make a hat.

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Monday, 9 January 2012

Monochrome Monday

I'm doing a separate "what i wore" type of post today so that I can be part of Patti from Not Dead Yet Style's Visible Monday Link Party.

I thought it would be a cold wet day so wore layers, tights and a midi skirt.  It was freezing in the office because after a weekend it takes almost the whole day to get back to a normal temperature.

Here's what I wore today, not really visible at all:
what i wore

The short sweater had floppy sleeves which kept getting caught on the arm of my chair. 

The booties are the short version of the ones from the Booting Up post and have the same side zipper and tassel detail, but were only my commuting shoes.  I changed to Bata Oxford pumps when I got to work.  Unfortunately, no pic since they are at work.  I checked online but the closest I could find is this:
Oxford Pump

So what's so visible about this outfit? Nothing really.

But, I did wear this fab leopard coat with it which made it way more visible at least during the commute and at lunchtime.
Leopard Coat

Just from the few wardrobe posts I've done, I realize that I tend to dress very monochromatically and my challenge to myself will be to mix more colours into my look.

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