What I'm Listening To: Mark Lanegan- 'Hit The City'

Saturday, January 31, 2015
Earlier this week my husband attended a Mark Lanegan concert. After the performance, Mark Lanegan did an autograph session, and as my husband stood in line he tried to think of something clever to say when he reached the front of the line. But when he got to the front, Mark Lanegan didn't say a word and the staff member told my husband "just put whatever you want signed in front of him and he'll sign it". So much for being clever!

So in honor of Mark Lanegan's visit to England I decided to share 'Hit the City' which also features one of my favorite rocker ladies, PJ Harvey.


The Wardrobe Architect: January Challenge

Friday, January 30, 2015
As you'll recall, I decided to participate in the Coletterie's Wardrobe Architect 2015 Challenge. January's challenge was to look at the Wardrobe Architect weeks 1-4 to examine and determine my core style, but the 2015 challenge kicked the challenge up a notch by asking participants to try to come up with at least 20 patterns or designs in different categories of clothing, such as tops, blouses, pants, skirts, or outerwear that fit our style that we would like to make.

Since I already participated in the Wardrobe Architect Challenge last year, I re-examined last year's exercises and last year's Personal Style Pinterest board to see if my style had changed. Then I created a new Spring/ Summer 2015 Fashion Inspiration board to collect my inspirational images.

I also started a sketchbook page to sketch out my ideas for new wardrobe pieces.

Overall, my style history, icons, and silhouettes haven't really changed in the last year- they've just become more refined.

Defining My Style

The five words I've chosen to define my style in 2015 are:
  1. Casual
  2. Classic
  3. Edgy
  4. Quirky
  5. Vintage 

Choosing Silhouettes

I still have a pear/ hourglass figure and I prefer shapes that flatter my figure. Since I've taken more notice in the clothes I wear, I know that I favor pants and shorts over skirts and dresses because they fit my lifestyle better. I like my tops to be fitted (even though I have been known to experiment with boxy shapes on occasion) and I like my pants to be straight or boot-cut but I am curious to see if I could pull off a wider pant. I can't do short-shorts or capris, so I need my shorts to be at a happy medium.
Picking Patterns 
After determining my style and silhouettes I began looking at the sewing patterns I had in my collection and admired on Pinterest, and the knitting patterns that I owned and admired on Ravelry and I chose 20 that I'm considering making.  When looking at these patterns I tried to consider the following questions:
  • Have you worn similar styles before? How did you feel about them when you wore them?
  • Would you need to make any modifications to the designs you choose?
  • Are there any designs that don’t quite fit with the others?
  • Are these designs cute and trendy, but maybe not quite you?

The main reason I like the Calais top is because it reminds me of Faye Dunaway's sweater from the film, Bonnie and Clyde, and I already have the yarn to make it.

This shirt looks comfortable, easy to wear, and the collar adds a bit of fun. I could see myself in this top.

The Coco looks comfortable, it's got a vintage 'Briditte Bardot' style, and I already own the pattern. Looks like this is on my must make list.

What's appealing about this top is that the silhouette reminds me of one of my favorite easy breezy summer tops.


This is another sweater that I've already bought the yarn to make. It does have a classic vibe.

I just purchased this pattern because it's got a classic silhouette and I like the collar. I've heard that the pattern can be a bit wide, but I have seen some tutorials online to make this more fitted to my liking.

I wear my button down shirts All.The.Time. I'd love to make my own button down shirt in hot pink, grid pattern, or another fun print.

I already own this pattern and I've seen a lot of great versions online, although I'm not sure how this will look on my figure.


Wide-leg 1970's pants are trending, and I'd love to have a pair in navy, black and white stripe, and grid pattern.

These would make amazing sailor shorts!

I could imagine myself making these in black and white polka dot print.

I've been curious about exploring the culotte trend or making a pair of extra wide legged pants, but I'm on the fence.
I already have this pattern in my collection.


I've seen a lot of great Zinnia skirts online.

I've already started sewing up a tye dye Moneta and just need to finish it up.


This pattern is already in my collection and could be cute as a pinafore a fun summer dress in a quirky print.

I feel like a good shirtdress could be a great staple piece and maybe this is the one for me.

Featherweight Cardigan

This looks like an easy, classic piece that could be worn with anything.

I know I should be focusing on spring/summer pieces, but I've also been drooling over tons of capes.

This is also an exceptional looking cape.

Right now my make list is way overly-ambitious and overwhelming, but I'll be refining my sewing/ knitting list as this process goes along. Feel free to tell me your opinions if there is a particular pattern or silhouette you'd like to see me try. 

Next month the focus will be on cleaning out my closet and taking inventory. 
The Wardrobe Architect 2014


What I'm Reading: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Thursday, January 29, 2015
I would like to apologize for not staying up to date with my reading posts. Even though I wasn't consistently blogging about A Beautiful Messes book club, I have managed to stay up to date with it. Back in September the ABM book club read Middelsex by Jeffrey Eugenides.  

  • When I first found out that Middelsex was the chosen book I felt a little leery about it because I was not a fan of The Virgin Suicides movie (and Jeffrey Eugenides wrote that book as well), but the plot of this book intrigued me and the book was very well reviewed. By the time I finished this book I found it to be a very enjoyable read. 
  • I liked Calliope/ Cal's story and I liked how we got to learn about how Cal's family history made her into the person he was in the modern day. 
  • I also enjoyed the narration style and how the story sometimes shifted from modern day to the past. I felt like this was a welcome shift and it helped me as the reader to reflect on how the experiences of the past helped to shape the present. 
  • Although I haven't struggled with gender identity, I could relate to the awkwardness Cal experienced in Cal's early relationship and sexual experiences.
  • Having recently researched my own family history through Ancestry.com, I could also relate to the idea of the story exploring Cal's family history to reflect upon the past's impact on the present generation. 
  • One of the discussion questions asked "If you were to write the story of your life, can you step back and see any constants, any ideas that have had a place throughout your story?" I feel like this is a difficult question to answer because I can't "step back" from my life and I am constantly changing and evolving. I suppose one motif one could find in my story is the passing of 2 of my closest relatives...which lead to my being able to move to a new country without feeling like I was somehow disappointing them or making them sad missing and worrying about me while I'm away.
  • I'm not sure if Middlesex has any real villains (even though "Father Mike" wasn't so Godly in the end"). Some might argue that Dr. Luce could have been the villain of this book, but I felt that although Dr. Luce might have been guilty pursuing his own research over paying attention and being sensitive to Cal's needs/interests, he was not the villain of this book. I think that based on the information Cal and her family had given Dr. Luce, his research, and society's opinions on the topic at that time, he probably thought he was making a decision in the best interests of all involved.
  • One of the more obvious takeaways from this book is that it highlights the LGBT community and specifically highlights the lesser discussed hermaphrodite community and makes you consider what life is like in "Cal's shoes" and that sex and gender do not always go hand-in-hand.

Shop Your Heart Out

Monday, January 26, 2015
Hi Friends,

You know I love it when fashion meets philanthropy, so I'm just writing to let you know that my friends over at My Jewel Candy will be donating 20% of the profits from their Valentine's collection to the American Heart Association until the end of February. So shop your heart out!

images courtesy of My Jewel Candy.

What's Making Me Laugh: The Knitting Guy on Jimmy Kimmel

Sunday, January 25, 2015
During the taping of a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Kimmel did an off camera chat with his audience and discovered that a guy in the audience was knitting.

Things people can learn:
  1. Men who knit are cool!
  2. Men who knit in public are awesome!
  3. The fact that this guy took up knitting because his daughter wouldn't knit him a hat is mega-awesome!
  4. Mic drop.


What I'm Listening To: George Ezra 'Budapest'

Saturday, January 24, 2015
This week I decided to share a song from George Ezra who is basically the greatest thing to hit the UK since sliced bread...or English muffins...or whatever. This young man has been selling out shows UK wide and was the hot ticket at 2014's Glastonbury. So, if you haven't heard him yet, check out his song "Budapest."


10 Great Things About Winter

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

1. Christmas Markets

One of my favorite things about being in Europe in the winter time is seeing all of the Christmas Markets. This year I visited several markets - some local, some in London, and one in Finland. I just love the little log cabin huts, the lights, the trinkets, and the candy and mulled wine!

2. The Holidays

It's the most wonderful time of the year! I love binge watching holiday films, having an excuse to Skype with family and friends, picking out and opening presents, and all of the other things mentioned here.

3. Winter Break

I realize that not everyone gets a Winter Break from their day job, but those of us that do (teachers and students) really appreciate that much needed R&R.

4. Warm Beverages 

Coffee, lattes. tea, hot cocoa, mulled wine, glogg...I love holding onto and sipping warm beverages to keep warm.

5. Christmas Specials on TV

The English know how to do Christmas Specials right! This year I got to watch Christmas Specials of Dr. Who, Call The Midwife, Downton Abbey, the finales of Miranda and Derek, and the made for TV movie, Esio Troi, with Dustin Hoffman and Dame Judi Dench. 

6. Oscar Contender Movies

Not only is it award season, but this is also the time of year when all of the good movies come out. I've been lucky enough to have seen several Oscar contenders already (The Imitation Game, Mr. Turner, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel) and it's the perfect time of year to cuddle up and binge watch all of the films I haven't seen.

7. Sweater Weather

Finally my cute sweaters get to see the light of day!

8. Winter Sales

It's the perfect time of year to take advantage of Christmas sales and post-holiday clear-out sales. I always hit up the bookstores after New Years and pick up my annual calender for half-price.

9. Snow

I have a love/hate relationship with snow. I like to look at snow, but I'm not a fan of the cold or driving on it. However, if my area happens to get enough snow to cancel work, I absolutely love it!

10. Snuggling

Snuggling is the best!

This post was inspired by Mathilde Heart Manech's blog post 5 Positive Things To Do this Week #116.

My Favorite Looks from the 2015 Golden Globe Awards

Tuesday, January 20, 2015
I know I'm kind of showing up late to the party by talking about the 2015 Golden Globe Awards because I'm writing about it over a week after it aired (on January 11, 2015). In my defence I wasn't able to watch it live because of the whole time-zone thing, but I was able to see highlights from the Golden Globes the following day and now I want to share my favorite outfits from the awards show.

I'm not so much in love with the soft pink color, but I loved the lines on Chrissy Teigen (aka. Mrs. John Legend)'s Zuhair Murad dress.
Chrissy Teigen in Zuhair Murad
I thought Emma Stone made the perfect choice by wearing a Lanvin jumpsuit to the awards show. I thought it was a perfect blend of casual meets red carpet style that suits her young and fun personality.
Emma Stone in Lanvin
Is it just me or has Keira Knightley's pregnancy just enhanced her beauty? I mean, she looked good before she was pregnant but sometimes I just wanted to hand her a sandwich and now she's got curves, her face is a little fuller ,and she's got that pregnant glow. I like it...and the dress is nice too!
Keira Knightley in Chanel
My vote for best dressed celebrity couple on the red carpet goes to Joshua Jackson and Diane Kruger. I thought Josh looked dapper and Diane's dress was elegant and sophisticated.
Joshua Jackson and Diane Kruger
Do you enjoy browsing red carpet looks? Are you excited for awards season? Who wore your favorite outfits? Let me know in the comments below.

All images borrowed from Vogue.co.uk

What I Made in 2014

Monday, January 19, 2015
There's something very satisfying about having all of the things that you made on display on a single page. Here's what I made in 2014:

From Left to Right
Row 1: Quick Baby Sweater for my co-worker; The Virtual Paintout Vladivostok sketch; The Virtual Paintout Chile sketch; Wicken Fen sketch (not blogged); Aidez cardigan; Simplicity 1803 for the OAL2014 (not blogged); Myrna cardigan; Mollie Makes flower brooch; woolen squirrel for Woolen Woods; Blue Chamomile; Tweed toad; Cathode; Beanie for my husband; 12th Doctor gloves; Ed Wood Pink Angora Sweater; Oia, Greece sketch.

I also made the Bridget scarf and a finger crocheted snowflake at the Handmade Fair and I sewed my own outfit for a 1920's theme party in an afternoon (talk about your "make it work" moments). I don't recommend doing that!

As you already know, I kicked off 2015 with new drawings in my sketchbook and I have more sewing and knitting projects on my horizon. Hopefully 2015's re-cap will be even bigger than this one!

A Belated Virtual Paintout Post- Luxembourg

Thursday, January 15, 2015
After completing my Philadelphia and Rome drawings I decided to visit another location from the Virtual Paintout archives. In November 2014 The Virtual Paintout focused on the country of Luxembourg. There were several artists who completed their sketches on time that decided to sketch Beaufort Castle, but after browsing around Luxembourg with my Google Maps peg man I couldn't get the image of this street  view out of my mind and decided to give it a go.

"Beaufort Castle" 
watercolor, pen, marker

The castle reminded me of something out of a fairy tale and I loved all of the sheep in the yard!

A Belated Virtual Paintout Post- Rome, Italy

Wednesday, January 14, 2015
After I finished my Philadelphia, Pennsylvania drawing for the Virtual Paintout I wanted to keep going, so I decided to check out some of the Virtual Paintout locations that I had missed. In December 2014 The Virtual Paintout focused on Rome, Italy. It was said that "If you can't find something to draw or paint at this location, you might need to give it up!" and boy did I struggle to find a location before I finally settled on the Colosseum. Classic!

"Piazza del Colosseo"
Rome, Italy
water color, pen & marker


The Wardrobe Architect 2015 Challenge

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

This year fast-fashion is OUT and capsule wardrobes are IN as many bloggers have decided to swear off shopping and make due with a smaller wardrobe. 

As you'll recall, last year I participated in Coletterie's Wardrobe Architect Challenge which helped motivate me to pair down my wardrobe and analyse my style so that I could create a better and more authentic wardrobe. And I'm pleased to announce that the Wardrobe Architect series has returned in 2015. While participants are encouraged to avoid fast fashion and to sew new clothing items, it's not mandatory to participate and you can adapt the guidelines to fit your needs. Below is a list of what the Wardrobe Architect will be covering each month:

  • January – Find your core style and explore shapes
  • February – Clean out your closet and take inventory
  • March – Review and finalize your spring/summer sewing projects
  • April – Plan colors and shop for spring fabric
  • May & June – Sew for your spring/summer capsule wardrobe
  • July – Review and finalize your autumn/winter sewing projects
  • August – Plan colors and shop for autumn fabric
  • September & October – Sewing for your autumn/winter capsule wardrobe
  • November – Review and refine
  • December – Show off your wardrobe!
  • I'll admit that committing to avoid fast fashion sounds a bit daunting and I'm not sure if I have the time and/or the confidence in my ability to make EVERY new clothing item, but I do want to invest in quality items over quantity, I want a more manageable and authentic wardrobe, and I have been favoring more mid-range stores and vintage shops lately. So I'm going to do my best to follow the Wardrobe Architect 2015 Challenge, avoid fast fashion as much as possible, and complete the Wardrobe Architect exercises from month to month.

    Are you doing a capsule wardrobe in 2015? Will you be participating in the Wardrobe Architect 2015 Challenge? I'd love to hear from you!

    Random Outfits of 2014

    Monday, January 12, 2015
    I was cruising on my Instagram account this weekend and discovered that I had taken a number of outfit pictures in the summer of 2014 and forgot to share them on the blog.

    denim shirt- Banana Republic (similar)
    gingham skirt- Made by Me
    shoes- Toms (no longer available)
    glasses- BonLook

    dress- Ann Taylor Loft (2 years old)
    gold kitten heels- Kmart (ancient)

    dress-  Made by Me
    white tee- GAP (similar)
    watch- Casio

    t-shirt- Garbage merchandise (similar)
    cropped jeans- Old Navy
    cardigan- Aidez Sweater Made by Me

    What I'm Listening To: War on Drugs- 'Under the Pressure'

    Saturday, January 10, 2015
    Last weekend I spent most of my day trying to come up with a fun 2014 recap letter to send to my friends and family back home. In one part of my newsletter I wanted to list the top 5 music artists my husband and I had been listening to in 2014 which lead me down a rabbit hole seeking out the top reviewed music artists of 2014 where I stumbled upon the critically acclaimed War on Drugs song, 'Under the Pressure.' How could I have let 2014 pass me by without this song in my life!? Give it a listen. It's clear why this song is so highly reviewed.


    Virtual Paintout- Philadelphia

    Wednesday, January 7, 2015
    In 2015 The Virtual Paintout is kicking off the new year by virtually traveling to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There are so many American history sites to be captured, but I decided to just randomly place my peg man on the map and I happened to stumble upon this scene. I'm hoping to do a bit more drawing in 2015, so keep reading for more drawing adventures.


    What I Got For Christmas 2014

    Tuesday, January 6, 2015
    Hello readers! I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa) and a Happy New Year and that your holidays brought you everything that you wanted and more. Today I thought I'd share a snip-it of what I got for Christmas this year.


    Let's Talk About Facial Piercings

    Monday, January 5, 2015
    I'd like to start off by saying that I am no expert on the subject of facial piercings or piercings in general. I have my ears pierce, the cartridge in my upper ears pierced, and I have a nose stud.

    My Piercing History

    My earliest recollection of wanting a nose piercing was in middle school when the post-grunge, riot grrrl movement was in full swing. I can remember taking some of my adjustable rings and clipping them to my nose and then waiting for my parents to respond with shock and disapproval. I grew up in a town where facial piercings weren't approved of, but earrings were okay. My school's dress code didn't allow for "unnatural haircolors," hats, bananas, or facial piercings and after I finished college and entered the working world I found that most of the places I worked at had the same rules.

    Robin Tunney in Empire Records (image link)
    I was 13 years old when I got my ears pierced. Even though my mom had offered to take me to the mall to get my ears pierced several times in my childhood (and I often scolded my parents for not getting them done when I was a baby like many of my friends had done), I was afraid of the pain they might cause.

    When I was 19, my college room-mates and I decided to get our ear cartilage pierced because we liked the look of it. We went to a piercing shop located in the back of a Domino's Pizza shop, but the place seemed clean enough. I remember it didn't hurt at first but it took a long time (and several months of sleeping on my opposite side) to heal. I liked my first one so much, I got my other ear done a year later- before the piercing place shut down.

    Getting My Nose Pierced

    I didn't get my nose pierced until nearly a year ago, when I was 30 years old. After I moved to the UK, that old desire to get my nose pierced came creeping back stronger than ever, but this time my situation had changed. Namely:
    • I had moved to a new country, several thousand miles from friends and family.
    • I started working at a place that was more tolerant of employees with facial piercings and visible tattoos.  
    • My husband had casually said he would be cool with it if I decided to get it done.
    • I'd had some recent family bereavements that prompted me to adopt a more YOLO outlook on life.
    I'd started researching places in my area that do nose piercings, the cost, ratings of piercing shops, etc. several months prior to getting it done. But I actually got my nose pierced on a random whim: my husband was away for work and I was shopping in Cambridge and I just decided that today was the day. I knew there was a shop called Tattoo Crazy that did nose piercing with a needle and got pretty good reviews so I walked in, filled out some paperwork and sat down to get my nose pierced. My piercer wore gloves and cleaned my nose with a rubbing alcohol swab before using a special marker to place a dot on the intended spot and handing me a mirror. My piercer encouraged me to be critical of the placement since it was my piercing and she wiped the dot and tried several times before we marked just the right spot. I was super nervous when it was time to do the actual piercing because I was afraid it would hurt so my piercer encouraged me to take a couple of deep breaths before she began at a count of three. 


    At the end of the count it was in and I only felt a tiny pinch. As my piercer dabbed my fresh piercing I started to chuckle because I'd been so worried about the pain and whether or not to do it and it was done. Before I left I was given a set of piercing care instructions (namely to clean it several times a day and not take out the stud for 3 months) and I bought some BPA piercing after-care fluid.  I immediately Facebook texted 3 of my friends from home and my husband to tell them what I'd just done and they all approved.

    image link
    I followed my aftercare instructions to a tee and, aside from getting a few nose bleeds shortly after getting pierced, I barely notice it's there. I will say that it's not the most comfortable feeling when changing out my piercing, but it's not unbearable. Also, after a recent mishap where my nose stud fell out and I didn't notice it until hours later, I learned that my piercing can start to heal up fairly quickly. Lesson learned: it's important to keep a ring or retainer in it at all times.

    Now that my nose piecing is approaching it's one year anniversary I still have no regrets about getting it done and wish I would have gotten it done sooner. If I ever find myself in another work environment that doesn't approve of my nose piercing I can always wear a  clear retainer or heal it up. 

    Nose Rings I Currently Own:

    My original nose stud looks very similar to this one. The best part is that it's really simple to take in and out, but the worst part is that it's really simple to take in and out.  
    Clear Nose Bone
    My husband got this stud for me as a gift and it is my favorite and the one I wear most often. The ring itself looks a lot smaller than my original ring, but the diamond is larger. I prefer the L-shape to the straight or curly shape as the L-shape holds in place well, but isn't so impossible to take out (as the curly shape). The only con with this ring is that the diamond with prongs can easily be snagged if you wipe your face on a fluffy towel or sweater.

    14K White Gold, Surgical Steel
    I also bought these semi-hoops for when I'm feeling rebellious. These are a bit of a pain to put in because you insert them inside your nose first (the nub acts like a stopper) and it's hard to determine your correct hoop size except by trial and error.
    Gold & Silver plated hoop

    What's Making Me Laugh: Marcel Lucont

    Sunday, January 4, 2015
    Another event that my husband and I attended in Canterbury was called Cabaret Fantastique which included performances by a magician, a "mind reader", a burlesque dance, and was hosted by comedian Alexis Dubus a.k.a. Marcel Lucont

    Cabaret Fantastique
    For those of you not in the know, Marcel Lucont fancies himself to be the greatest French comedian in the UK and an expert on love. Check out a scene from his performance for BBC Radio 1 below.


    What I'm Listening To: Geno Washington

    Saturday, January 3, 2015
    Last Fall my husband and I traveled to Canterbury to attend the Canterbury Festival's celebration of multiple forms of art. One of the events we attended was a performance from The King of Swingers, Geno Washington and his Ram Jam Band. Although Geno and his band are most famously known for their performances in the 1960s, let me tell you, he's still got it. In Canterbury his band took the stage at 9:30pm and by the end of the night he had everyone up on their feet dancing and clapping and the audience wouldn't let him stop playing until after midnight. It was awesome!

    image source
    Check out a video of Geno Washington and the Ram Jam band performing their hit song, 'Michael' below:

    Fun fact: Geno Washington first came to England in the 1960s when he was stationed there with the U.S. Air Force. In his spare time, he began gigging in London, and eventually Geno fell in love while in England and never left. The rest is history.
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