Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Homemade T-Shirt Scarf

A few months ago, I was perusing some crafty blogs and came across a tutorial for a scarf made out of old t-shirts. I really liked the idea -- although my scarf is modified quite a bit from the tutorial, it was my inspiration -- and I snagged a couple $1 shirts from the thrift store, then ended up setting the project aside for quite a while. I finally whipped it up last night, and it was super-fast and easy! Unfortunately, I'm afraid the scarf might be something that's good in theory but an item I may never wear in actuality. I'm so matchy-matchy about everything, and I'm not sure what I'd wear the scarf with other than a black shirt like in the pictures. Maybe I'll make another with just one (bland, boring, neutral) color family, like gray. Anyway, here's what I did:

1. Gather some old t-shirts in coordinating colors. Cut them apart so the shirts are in two pieces, front and back. Cut blocks of fabric in the same size from each shirt. The pink shirt I used was really tiny (an XS) so I cut the biggest swatch I could from that (10 inches across) and cut the rest of my pieces to match that width.

2. Get out your sewing machine (and, if you're like me, brush the dust off and find the instruction manual). Sew the pieces together. I chose to sew the wrong sides together so the stitching would be hidden, but exposed stitches -- especially in a contrasting color -- would look neat.

3. Fold the scarf in half hot-dog style, wrong sides facing out. If you're going to add fringe like I did, mark the spot where you want the fringe to start so you know where to stop sewing. Then sew the long sides of the scarf together to form a tube. Turn the tube right side out, and cut your fringe if desired. I'm actually pretty conflicted on the fringe. I had about a 10 different ideas for the ends of the scarf, such as: sew them closed and use scraps of pink t-shirt to tie bows on the ends; sew closed with a big pink zig-zag stitch; or use leftover pink fabric to make ruffles for the ends.

4. Put the scarf on, marvel at the softness of the fabric and admire your handiwork.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday #9

In sharp contrast to my last WIWW post in which I talked about how relaxed and happy I was after my amazing trip to Colorado, I have to say that this has been a bit of a rough seven days for me. It was hard coming back to Hawaii knowing that Jarrod wouldn't be here, as he's away for a month of pre-deployment training. His deployment is once again up in the air, and I've reclaimed my front-row seat on the Emotional Rollercoaster. It's very difficult not knowing -- yet again -- when and where he's going. And I certainly love my free time, but I'm one of those people who has trouble appreciating leisure if I don't have a hard day of work to measure it up against. The boredom of not working -- and the monotony of being by myself -- is starting to catch up with me. Because of all that, I didn't have many occasions to get dressed up this week. But I did manage to photograph two outfits so I could link up with The Pleated Poppy for WIWW, and I do have to say that I was very thrilled with my Saturday outfit, which includes a new shirt I bought in Colorado.

(squadron spouses' get-together -- a relaxing and fun spa night at which I was pampered with a 20-minute back massage)
Top: Kohl's
White tank top: Target
Jeans: Seven For All Mankind, Nordstrom
Earrings (hard to see but they're gold): Bealls Florida
Bracelet: thrifted

(shopping for flowers and planting them)
Tank top: American Eagle
White tank top (yet again): Target
Shorts: JC Penney
Necklace: The Vintage Pearl

Racerback tank tops are a major trend this summer, but as much as I like them on other people I just don't know about them for myself. I hate showing my bra straps but I can never find a strapless bra I like, so that means I have to wear another shirt underneath a racerback to cover my bra straps. I chose my go-to white tank top on this occasion, but I really didn't like how it looked. It just seemed too busy to me, with all those different straps. I took a picture of the back of my outfit so you can see what I mean. What do you think?

How To Make A Hanging Earring Holder

My bathroom drawer used to be a jumbled mess of hair ties, floss, makeup and jewelry. But, inspired by a project I saw in a magazine several months ago, I fashioned myself a wall-hanging earring holder and the bottom of my drawer is visible once again! The project was fun and easy and it's open to tons of interpretation. Here's what I did:

Commandeer an old picture frame. I got mine for free from a friend. It's kind of an odd size, roughly 10 by 20 inches. I would recommend using at least an 11x14. You can leave the frame as is if you like the look, or alter the appearance with paint, stain, decoupage, etc.

I applied two coats of white paint, then attempted a dry brush technique (for the first time, so it looks a little sloppy) with light blue paint to match the color scheme in my bathroom. I wanted the design on the frame to stand out, so I left it white.

I was torn between using mesh screen (like for a screen door), wire or ribbon for the hanging surface, but I decided to go with mesh because I figured it would allow me to fit more earrings on. I didn't like the look of the black against the white and blue, so I spray painted the mesh white.

After the paint on the mesh dried, I hot-glued it to the back of the frame. (A staple gun would probably be the best bet, but I don't have one.) I had originally intended to simply nail a picture hanger to the back of the frame, but when I was searching for my glue gun I came across some leftover tulle that I had used for our wedding decorations. I attached that to the back for the hanger and was thrilled with the result!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Getting Cozy

Last week, I finally stepped over that technology line that had been separating me from seemingly every other 25-year-old in America and got my first smartphone. I chose a Samsung Charge for a variety of reasons and so far I'm loving it! In the past, I would always just chuck my cell phone in my purse without a care, but my new smartphone has such a big, gorgeous, glossy -- and exceedingly fragile-looking -- screen, not to mention that even with the fantastic deal I got, it was still almost $200. So pretty much as soon as I took it out of the box, I knew I was going to knit it a cozy. I considered creating my own pattern, but since time was of the essence I chose a super-cute one from Ravelry, found here. I made a few adjustments to account for the larger size of the Charge, and voila!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Book Review: "Smokin' Seventeen"

"Smokin' Seventeen" by Janet Evanovich
Published in 2011
My rating: 3.5 out of 5

I used to devour the books in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series because they were a perfect blend of hilarity, romance and mystery. Now I read them quickly not because I can't put them down but because they're so thin on plot that I breeze right through.

According to the FAQ section on Janet Evanovich's website, she's contracted through the eighteenth book in the series, "Explosive Eighteen," which will release this November. As much as I love the series as a whole, I wouldn't be sad if "Eighteen" were the last Stephanie Plum book. I'm tired of spending nearly $20 on books that simply replay the trio of themes from all the other Plum novels with decidedly less thought and finesse.

You've got the bumbling bounty-huntering of Stephanie and Lula, which used to get me laughing out loud but hardly earned a snort from me this time. Then there's the never-ending love triangle between Stephanie, Morelli (her cop on-again, off-again boyfriend) and Ranger (oozing sex appeal but not "husband material"). The third component is what used to be a good murder-mystery but has turned into a description of some murders sans the mystery, with the killer being obvious from the get-go. And of course, the killer will come after Stephanie in the end and she will be saved by either luck, desperation, distraction, one or both of her two lovers, or all of the above.

Though the book was predictable in the utmost extreme, I didn't hate reading it. After seventeen novels spent with Stephanie, Lula and the gang, reading a Plum book is like settling into a your favorite comfy chair and putting your feet up after a long day at work. I know the characters and their personalities and their problems; I like imagining myself getting a meatball sub at Giovichinni's or having a slice of pineapple upside-down cake in Stephanie's parents' kitchen; I look forward to reading about how many caskets Grandma Mazur is going to try to pry open this time.

Don't think I've lost my love for Janet Evanovich just because I didn't love "Smokin' Seventeen." I adored the first book in her Diesel series (Diesel is an occasional character in the Plum novels), "Wicked Appetite," and I'm anxiously awaiting news of the second novel. In "Wicked Appetite," Evanovich gave herself a change of scenery, fresh characters and interesting new plotlines to work with, and the witty and page-turning writing of the earlier Plum novels resurged. I don't think she's lost her mojo; perhaps she's just as bored with the tired plotlines of the Plum books as I am.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Furry Friday

Right now I'm dog-sitting one of Conan's best buds, Abbey. They love to play together, and I managed to snap some pictures of them going at it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Book Review: "South of Broad"

"South of Broad" by Pat Conroy
Published in 2009
My rating: 4 out of 5

"South of Broad" features one main character, Leo King, and a cast of supporting actors, all of whom we meet first in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1969 when the motley crew is drawn together just before their senior year at Peninsula High School, and again in 1989 when they band together as adults to help one of their own. These characters include children of some of the most powerful families in Charleston, orphans, blacks and whites, a homosexual and a girl who will go on to become one of the most famous actresses in Hollywood. And, of course, our lovable narrator Leo King (a.k.a. The Toad for the thick glasses he wore in high school, giving him a "toad-like" appearance), whose parents are middle-class Charlestonians (his mother the principal of his high school and his father an affable physics teacher) still grieving the death of their older son Steve, who killed himself at age 10.

"South of Broad" is one of the most complex novels I've ever read. It deals with myriad social issues including: racism and integration, homosexuality and the starts of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco, religion, sexual abuse and incest, suicide, murder, infidelity, mental illness, alcoholism, high society versus lower class, bullying, the devastation to Charleston caused by category 5 Hurricane Hugo, and the list goes on. But "South of Broad" also teaches lessons of love, kindness, friendship, trust and overcoming the most difficult events life dishes out.

It took me a few chapters to really get into the novel. I don't usually enjoy authors who use overly flowery language, and it seemed the first few-dozen pages were written just so; luckily, the writing gets a bit more straightfoward after that (although there were still a couple words I had to look up in the dictionary). To my surprise, I ended up really enjoying this novel and I'm looking forward to reading more of Pat Conroy's work.

What I Wore Wednesday #8, Colorado Edition

Wow, what an absolutely fantastic week I had! I spent it in Colorado visiting my Mom, Dad and brother and really couldn't have had a better time. I enjoyed the humidity- and mosquito-free climate, sweet corn on the cob, mountain air, aspen trees, my Mom's stunning garden, reading outside in the beautiful weather, shopping at stores like Kohl's that we lack in Hawaii, and of course tons of family time. And perhaps most noticeably: STRAIGHT HAIR! As always, I'm linking up with The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday.

Thursday (shopping with Mom)
Grey tank top: American Eagle
White tank top: Target
Shorts: American Eagle
Turquoise necklace: International Marketplace, Waikiki

Friday, with my handsome little brother Andy ("Transformers" and dinner at Red Robin, which we are sadly deprived of in Hawaii -- YUMMM)
(New!!!) floral tank top: Kohl's
White tank top: Target
Jeans: Paige, Nordstrom
Bracelet and earrings: Bealls Florida

Saturday (Garden of the Gods, drive up Pikes Peak)
Top: Old Navy
Jeans: Paige, Nordstrom
Necklace: The Vintage Pearl
Sunglasses: Kohl's
Scenery: Courtesy of gorgeous Colorado

Sunday (more shopping with Mom)
Top: Macy's
Shorts: American Eagle
Necklace: Bead for Life

Monday (seeing "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2")
Top: American Eagle
Jeans: Seven For All Mankind, Nordstrom

Tuesday (looong flight back to Hawaii)
Top: Kohl's
Jeans: Seven For All Mankind, Nordstrom
Sneakers: New Balance

Friday, July 15, 2011

Furry Friday

Happy Friday! This is Conan on the Fourth of July. I'm missing my doggie while I'm here in Colorado but I know he's in good hands and is enjoying his time with his best friend, Abbey.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fun With Color Accent Mode

As you've probably realized by now, I adore reading. There's seldom a time when I'm not reading something or other. But I detest reading instruction manuals. And this sometimes causes me to miss out on things, like the newly discovered (to me) color accent mode on my camera. I had fun playing around with it yesterday, taking pictures in my parents' long, soft, verdant grass and my mom's stunning gardens. Ahhh, I love Colorado!

This is by far my favorite picture from the color accent experiment.

In Hawaii, I would laugh at you if you suggested I lie down in the grass at our house. Not only would I get dirty, I would be literally eaten alive by hoardes of mosquitoes.

Pretty petunias!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday #7

Hi all! It's been an interesting week for me. On Thursday we found out Jarrod would shortly be heading off for a month of pre-deployment training, and on a whim I decided to see if I could find reasonably priced last-minute ticket (yes, I know that's an oxymoron) to visit my family in Colorado. Everything somehow worked out perfectly, and here I am writing this from Colorado! As usual, I'm linking up with The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday.

Top: American Eagle
Jeans: Paige, Nordstrom
Necklace: The Vintage Pearl

Top: Old Navy
Jeans: Paige, Nordstrom
Opal necklace: gift from brother-in-law

Wednesday (my first full day in Colorado) with my beautiful mom. It's crazy how much we look alike!
Top: Old Navy
Jeans: Seven For All Mankind, Nordstrom

Monday, July 11, 2011

Great Balls of Cake!

We had a couple different gatherings to attend over the Fourth of July weekend and I wanted to make a festive treat to take with us. After a bit of pondering, I decided to attempt cake pops, which seem to be the new trend is desserts. Unfortunately, several factors were working against me (not to exclude my occasional incompetence in the kitchen) and I ended up with cake balls instead of pops. But the lollipop stick adds to the appearance, not the taste, and these bad boys of sugar, sugar and more sugar were still a delight on the tongue. Here's what I did:

1. Bake a cake. I'm sure any cake works fine, but I used my go-to homemade cake recipe, Hershey's Chocolate Cake.

2. Crumble the cake into fairly fine crumbs. Then mix some frosting in. I went the easy route and used canned frosting. I used half a can of frosting for each half of my 9x13 cake. I actually think it was a bit too much frosting, but go by your own taste instincts. The purpose of the frosting is to hold the cake crumbs together when you roll it into balls.

3. Roll the cake/frosting mixture into balls. Mine were about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches wide. That was too wide for making cake pops because the balls were too heavy. But that size was great for cake balls!

4. Melt some candy coating or some chocolate chips mixed with a dab of shortening. Dip the balls in the melted chocolate and immediately apply the decoration of your choosing. Place on wax paper, let set and enjoy!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Furry Friday

We slept in on Monday and shortly after I took this picture, I got snuggled back up in bed with my boys!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hank's Haute Dogs

I'm sad to say that it took us over a year to discover the amazingness that is Hank's Haute Dogs. (Although, come to think of it, I didn't really eat meat until recently, so the magic would probably have been lost on me.) Hank's gourmet hot dog menu includes traditional favorites like the chili dog and the Chicago dog, but Hank's also dishes out innovative and interesting dogs, particularly as part of their daily specials. Those sausages include alligator andouille, rabbit and veal, buffalo, lobster, duck and foie gras, and kobe beef. YUM! Jarrod had last Friday off work for the Fourth of July, and he was thrilled to be able to try Friday's special, the lobster dog.
Topped with "very green relish," takuan (a type of pickled radish) and garlic aioli, it was every bit as delicious as he imagined. Even though I detest seafood (yes, even lobster), I tried a bite and had to admit that, despite the seafoody aftertaste, it was a winner. But it better be, at over $10 a dog!
The first time we ate at Hank's Jarrod got the andouille sausage and I got the chicken dog, a chicken sausage with mango relish and lime mustard. The taste was fantastic, but I was a little unsure how much I liked the texture of the sausage. This time, I set any notion of healthiness aside and ordered the Fat Boy, a dog wrapped in bacon and fried, then topped with mayo, lettuce and tomato. The calorie count of this puppy, plus my fries and soda, probably filled my calorie quota for the entire day, but it was so mouthwateringly good that I forgot about the fact that it was fried and slathered in mayonnaise.
Hank's also has really yummy fries. My fry philosophy is the crispier the better, so Hank's is perfect for me. And there's a wide array of dipping sauces to choose from. This time we got the curry ketchup and the furikake ranch. The ketchup was fantastic, but I was a bit unsure about the ranch. The only ingredient I could put my finger (or, rather, taste buds) on was seaweed. When I got home and Googled furikake, I learned that it does indeed contain seaweed but the main ingredient is dried fish. Blech!
Hank's has been featured on Guy Fieri's "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" and in Rachael Ray's magazine, and for good reason! If you live in Hawaii and you haven't been to Hank's yet, you're missing out. And if you come to Oahu on vacation, I strongly recommend treating yourself to Hank's. You can even get a Hawaiian dog with pineapple relish, passion fruit mustard and Maui onions at the Waikiki location, so you feel like you're eating Hawaiian style! (Just don't call it be like the touristy customer who came into the thrift shop a couple months ago and told me she'd just had lunch at Hank's "Hottie" Dogs.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday #6

Hi guys! I hope you all had a fantastic holiday weekend. The Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays and this year's was great! It was full of delicious barbecue, sand between my toes, and -- best of all -- amazing fireworks! I had lots of opportunities to put on some cute clothes this week (and I even straightened my hair a couple times!), and I'm linking up with The Pleated Poppy once again for What I Wore Wednesday. I'm pleased with all my outfits this week, but I think Friday's is my favorite. I tend to shy away from necklaces, and I'm proud of myself for throwing on that turquoise one!

Thursday (helping the hubby smoke meat for a big potluck and then stuffing my face at said potluck)
Top: Old Navy
Jeans: Rock & Republic
Earrings: Target
Bracelet: Target

(lunch with Jarrod at one of my new favorite restaurants, Hank's Haute Dogs)
Ruffle tank top: thrifted
White tank top: Target
Jeans: Paige, Nordstrom
Turquoise necklace: International Marketplace in Waikiki

(poker party and more yummy smoked meat)
Top: Gap
White tank top: Target
Jeans: Paige, Nordstrom
Necklace: Bead for Life

(lunch in Waikiki and Atlantis Submarine Tour, followed by Aloha Tower fireworks)
Flower tank top: Old Navy
White tank top: Target
Shorts: American Eagle
Earrings: thrifted

Monday (Plain White T's concert on base, fireworks)
Red top: Target
White earrings: Bealls Florida
Blue jean skirt: Old Navy
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