Gotta Catch 'Em All


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Over the weekend, my husband and I were invited to a costume party. Because I don't know any scary costume ideas, (and also because I jump at every opportunity to dress up like a cartoon character) I chose to make a pikachu outfit. The skirt is a simple paper bag design that I learned to do last week (and now I have 5 more skirts that I just made--you'll be seeing a lot of skirt blog posts soon) and the top part was sewn over a top I rarely used. I made the ears as a piece attached to a headband, and my cheeks were painted with red lip color.

It was such a simple outfit, but I really prefer it to buying stuff from the store. The party was a disappointment, especially because I didn't win any of the costume prizes (SAD FACE!) It's ok, because the prize was a box of hot chocolate (which looked like it's been sitting in the host's cupboard for years). The winner bought her overpriced Egyptian headdress and painted her face white and was supposed to be a zombie Cleopatra. hmmm...

Don't mind me. I'm just being bitter because I'm truthfully an overachiever.

What did/will you dress up as for Halloween? 

Imperfect


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black and white cardi: Forever 21 :: bow tee: DIY :: denim:Old Navy::
booties: Payless

I've gone a little bow-crazy these past few days. This is the first of many bow DIYs that you'll be seeing in this blog. I promise, you will be entertained. I went to bring my husband some food while he was working late last night while wearing this stripey bow outfit, and he asked, "was this outfit inspired by Klaus Nomi?" He knows me all too well. 

The bow on this is a little lopsided. I blame it on my overeagerness to finish the project. I still like it, however, and am making outfit combinations in my head as I type this post. I'm really proud of this bow that I made since I sewed all the seams, not just glued or folded it. It's very sturdy and can be thrown in the wash if needed. That's probably why I still plan on wearing this imperfect tee.

Do you have imperfect pieces that you still wear or cling to?
...


ps. Remember all the gorgeous stuff I found on eShakti? like that gorgeous cape I wore on Tuesday? Well, you can get some eShakti goodness customized just for you at a discounted price if you use the code DELIGHTED0811 during checkout! You will get $20 off your purchase using this code. AND you can use the code repeatedly until December 31,2011! Share it with your friends and get this awesome discount!

Two Negatives


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dress: Target:: blazer, belt: thrifted:: kitten heels: Old Navy::
purse: Laura Ashley






Go on ahead and say it. Laura, you look like a reporter from the 80s. Well that I do. The hot pink blazer takes care of that. I had to take off my vintage-inspired specs for these photos because I really looked and felt like I was whisked back in time, and I felt compelled to start asking the hard-hitting questions.

In truth, I kinda like this clash of pinks/maroons. Separately, the blazer and the dress are among my least favorite pieces of clothing I own. The jacket was a cheap $0.50 afterthought. I contemplated taking the massive shoulder pads off, but that requires cutting through the inside lining. The dress was begrudgingly purchased at the behest of a friend, who thought that it would be conservative enough to wear when teaching. The neckline is this odd rectangular shape which flatters no one, and when I wear it with tights, the underlining clings to it like Paula Deen to butter.

Together, these two negatives make a positively interesting outfit. (See what I did there? I just make my title relevant to the post)


Laura Has No Socks




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Once upon a time there lived a girl who hated cake. Oh, she thought they were cute and lovely, but she never really cared for frosting or ganache or even fondant. She always thought that cake was too heavy of a dessert and preferred to munch on fruit instead. 

Then one day, she met Red Velvet. And the Red Velvet rocked the socks out of her world. 

I've tried many red velvet cakes, but this one, I think, is worth sharing because it's a red velvet that doesn't use vegetable oil. Almost all the recipes I've found call for at least a cup of oil, which makes the cake very moist, but also leaves a nasty, greasy feeling in my mouth. This recipe uses butter. I'll tell you now, the cake is still moist, but isn't AS moist as your typical red velvet cupcake. The upside is that you can eat more than one. AND Cream cheese buttercream frosting. 'Nuff said. 

Red Velvet Cupcakes
(makes 15 cupcakes)
*recipe taken from here.
Ingredients:
DRY
1 1/3 cups flour
4 Tablespoons of Cocoa powder (I used Dutch process. )
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
WET
4 Tablespoons softened (not melted) butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 c buttermilk*
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon red food coloring
*If you don't have buttermilk, you can make some by adding a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to 3/4 c of milk.

Directions:
*preheat oven to 350 F
1. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and the sugar. 
3. Add eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated.
4. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and mix well. 
5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix well. 
6. Spoon into lined cupcake tins until 3/4 full. 
7. Bake for 22 minutes.
8. Cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
(makes just enough for 15 cupcakes and then some to eat without cupcakes)
Ingredients:
1 8oz container of cream cheese
4 oz of softened butter (about 4 Tablespoons)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1.5 c of powdered sugar

Directions:
Beat the butter and cream cheese together with a mixer. Add sugar a half cup at a time until well-blended. Add in vanilla. 

What are your favorite cake/cupcake flavors?

On Stranger Tides: eShakti Product Review


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cape: c/o eShakti :: dress: Forever 21:: shoes: Payless:: purse: Laura Ashley
*This cape was sent to me for review by eShakti, but all opinions are my own.* 


I was so thrilled to be asked by eShakti to review a product from their vast array of beautiful clothing. I have a little bit over 2 months left before the end of my challenge, and my closet has been shrinking quite drastically. I'd been writing up a list of things I wanted to buy after the challenge was over and a cape was one of those items that I knew I just needed to have. So I lunged at this opportunity and chose this beautiful "On Stranger Tides" cape to add to my closet. 

If you didn't already know, eShakti allows customization of all their items for better fit, which means you can change anything from the neckline to the sleeve and hem length. They also offer a full-size selection from sizes 0-26W. 

Measuring is simple because they have illustrated guides that show you how and where to run the tape measure to get the most accurate readings. I chose to get this cape in a 14L because my measurements matched the sizing perfectly, but put in my height (5'1") to make sure the sleeves and item length were taken into consideration. My cape came in 6 days after I placed the order. 

PROS:
1. the quality of the product is superb. The stitching is clean, the colors are bright, and the fabric used is soft and very comfortable. 
2. the length is perfect on me. I'm very short, so I was thrilled when the cape didn't swallow me in fabric. 
3. ordering was very easy. The measuring guides were very helpful.
4. shipping was very fast. The cape came in folded very neatly in a waterproof packaging. 

CONS:
1. I usually wear a 12L but my measurements matched the 14L category, so I ordered that instead. The cape is a tad roomier than I expected, especially in the waist area. 

I am so glad I got to sample eShakti. I am looking forward to getting more pieces from them when I can finally start shopping again. These are the pieces I'd love to get my hands on!




Have you tried eShakti?

The Mean People-Watcher


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striped tunic: thrifted:: red Pashmina: gift:: cardi: NY and Co::
boots: Old Navy :: purse: Laura Ashley

Over the weekend, my husband and I decided to go out to lunch to our favorite fish place in town. We don't go there very often because it's quite far away and the food takes a while to cook. But we were so hungry for catfish, so we set out anyway. Big mistake. Apparently, there was a home game scheduled that day, and navigating through scads of frustrated drivers looking for parking added another 15 minutes to our trip.

We ate our lunch then decided to people watch while we ate our dessert. I'd been craving Boston Cream Pie all week, but we couldn't find any place in town that sold them by the slice. I ended up getting a cream-filled doughnut, instead. Chocolate, cream, cake. It's all in there.

I love people watching. I remember back in undergrad, during the extra time I had between classes, my bff and I would park ourselves in one of the common areas and just watch people go by. Once in a while we'd comment on their clothes, but oftentimes we'd make up stories about them. My husband and I watched for a good hour and made up some good ones. I won't share them here because I'm a mean people watcher.

Do you like people-watching? Boston Cream Pie?

The winner of the Shabby Apple giveaway is: NNENNA ODELUGA! 

Thank you for all who entered this giveaway! I'm thinking about having another one (open to international readers!!!) soon, so stay tuned!

Laura in Wonderland


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dress, belt, necklace: Forever 21:: sheer top: NY&Co:: sandals: Urban Outfitters::
headband: Sanrio:: ring:?



Outift #46 of my 6-Month Challenge

One thing I've grown to love about where I live is the abundance of gorgeous foliage. This is probably why I don't ever want to move to a bigger city-- except maybe Seattle because there are trees everywhere! During Autumn, I am always captivated by the trees changing color and their falling leaves. Nature seems to be so alive around me, and it inspires me to dress with a little bit more whimsy in mind-- like I'm in my own Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland  was my favorite book, growing up. I must have read it 3-4 times a year since I was 7. Though I had a copy of my own, I recall wanting to steal my school library's battered copy with Carroll's ACTUAL illustrations. Just thinking about them makes me squeal in glee just a little bit. Being too much of a goody-good girl, I never did, but checked it out as often as I could (in between Baby-sitters Club and Sweet Valley books, of course)

What was/were your favorite childhood book/s?


ps. have you entered my giveaway yet?

Green Woes: A Stellar Spinach Dip Recipe


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Don't you want me, baby?

The first time I had spinach, I spat it back onto my plate and swore never to eat anything green ever again. I grew up watching old Popeye cartoons, thinking that the green, muscle builder grew in thick, mucky clumps that the ever-famous sailor man squeezed from cans into his maw. Upon seeing that they were actual leaves, I was pleasantly surprised to discover they looked quite "natural." Then, one boiled spoonful later, I gagged at my premature eagerness.

Over the years, I've learned to cook spinach in soups and add it to salads. I was beginning to enjoy its flavor.I thought my green woes were finally over. Then one day,at a party, I sampled store-bought spinach dip... And my woes returned.

My husband loves spinach dip, and I try to make healthier, homemade alternatives for us to enjoy. When I made this batch, I was worried that he wouldn't like it because I had used much less mayonnaise than most spinach dip recipes require. But! He said it was the best dip he had ever tasted! AND he'll never buy store-bought again!


Laura's Stellar Spinach Dip
Ingredients:
1 8oz bag of spinach
1.5 cups of sour cream (i used light)
.5 c of mayonnaise
.5 of a small onion, diced into tiny pieces
juice of 1/2 a lemon, about 1 Tablespoon
2 Tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of paprika

Directions:
1. In a pot, boil the spinach in some water until wilted. About 3-4 minutes.
2. Drain the spinach in a colander, and when cool enough to handle, squeeze the excess water.
3. In a bowl, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, onion, lemon juice, salt, and paprika. Mix well.
4. Add in the spinach and mix well. 

Voila! Dip. 
 
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Are you a spinach lover?

ps. have you entered my giveaway yet?

Pineapple Princess

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tank: Forever 21:: skirt: LOFT :: flats: Target:: belt: Urban Outfitters::
blazer: Old Navy:: pin: Comic Con:: faux pearls: Claire's 
Outfit # 45 of my 6-Month Challenge

It was raining balls today, so we had to take indoor photos. I look ridiculously tanned in these shots. I blame the lighting. My husband remarked that I look like an island princess with the dark skin and the bright floral skirt. I'm not complaining.

All the talk about tans, islands, and flowers makes me wish I was in the beach right now, dipping my toes in water and letting my hair loose. Instead, my hair is a frizzy Hermione mess. But! this song always brightens my mood!




What songs brighten your mood?
Happy Wednesday! 

ps. have you entered my giveaway yet?

Mornings, I Hate You

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I don't look happy because it's before 8am
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white polo: Burlington Coat Factory:: black blazer cardi, denim:: Old Navy ::
grey tank, heart necklace: Forever 21:: flats: Target:: purse: Laura Ashley

Outfit # 44 of my 6-Month Challenge

Thanks for all the lovely comments on my new layout! I totally feel like it's more "me." The panda pastry is actually from a Japanese bakery. This particular delicacy is filled with vanilla pudding. yum. Watch the bottom left sidebar for pictures of things that make me happy, to be updated weekly.

No matter how much I love breakfasts, I won't ever wake up super early to make them everyday. And it's not because I'm a night owl. I love sleeping and wish I could recline forever amidst piles and piles of books, with a trained monkey catering to my every whim (which means he'll serve me breakfast when I want it. And that's all the time.) I shall name him my breakfast monkey.

As you can see, I'm not very outfit-creative in the early morning. I wore this when I had to go to an orientation at 9:00am. I know, that's not sooo early, but I had just contracted a nasty cold the night before and downed basically a whole box of Nyquil 10 hours earlier. I apologize if my comments sound either off or are shorter than usual-- my brains have been aching the past few days. I look congested and tired, but I feel so much better now.

To distract you from my unimpressive face and outfit, I'm going to talk about my Laura Ashley purse that I LOVE to death. I've been carrying this baby around a lot lately, and I love it because it matches almost everything I wear. It's nice and roomy, too-- perfect for stashing a book or a water bottle when I need it.
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my trusty, everyday purse
I've been seeing a lot of these "What's in Your Purse" tags. And though no one has tagged me (sad bunny), I wanted to share the meager contents of my everyday purse! 

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From the contents of my purse, you'd think I was 4 going on 12.
a: make-up bag with a blush brush, some face powder, Dramamine, and fem hygiene products
b: Hello Kitty Patent Wallet. Anniversary edition.
c: Warby Parker glasses case
d: Sephora Green Tea Blotting Papers
e: Old School Cell Phone, complete with Hello Kitty decal
f: black gel pen, for leaving naughty notes
g: Hydra pin, from a random comic shop in Chicago
h: my keys
i: Ipod
j: eos lipbalm in sweet mint
k: Snoopy face tissues
l: Hello Kitty "Memoirs of a Geisha" palette

Shabby Apple Giveaway



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When the lovely folks at Shabby Apple contacted me about a jewelry giveaway for my readers, I got so excited since I've long lusted over their beautiful vintage-inspired pieces. I picked The Duchess, a black cameo necklace set in gold metal. The cameo pendant, measuring 40x30mm, hangs from a 24" inch chain. The giveaway ends on Sunday, Oct 23rd, and the lucky winner will be announced on Monday's (Oct 24th) blogpost.
To my international readers, I apologize, but this giveaway is available for US readers only. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter the giveaway!  







If you didn't already know, Shabby Apple also offers dresses, skirts, shoes, and other accessories. Take a gander at their beautiful collection, and enjoy this great deal going on right now!




Dresses from Shabby Apple

Good Luck!

Ridiculous


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I ate this panda face for breakfast


Good Sunday to you! It's been a long time since I've blogged on a weekend-day, but... I just couldn't help myself. I've been thinking about changing the layout of my blog (again) for a very long time (for those who remember my "Twilight" layout, it's been since then.) The previous layout with the black birds and gothic feel was more of like a placeholder, if that makes any sense. I love the idea of incorporating birds into my blog (think Chaucer's "The Parlement of Foules," Chaunticleer in "The Nun's Priest's Tale" and the falcon and the tercelet in "The Squire's Tale.") but I didn't have the time or the motivation to think and execute something aesthetically pleasing to me. Also, my graphic design skills,tools, and html knowledge are next to nil. 

Though the layout may look simple, I spent a lot of time figuring stuff out. Aaaand, I like it.  

So the birds are still here, but now they perch on colorful foliage.  

Changes:
1. I've tweaked my About page a bit, but I don't quite know what else to add. Suggestions?
2. I've added some of my daily reads on the right sidebar. Check them out.
3. Made a button that's ridiculous, but so true. 

I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank you, dear reader, for taking the time to share in my silliness and reading my posts. Because of you, I blog on. 

♥s and tons of hugs,
laura

My Cheating Ways


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black dress, chiffon top: Rue 21 :: wooden clogs: Target:: turquoise ring: thrifted::
heart key necklace: Forever 21 :: earrings: Pac Sun 




I kinda feel like I'm cheating because 1. I didn't put much thought into the composition of this "outfit"; 2. I wore this outfit for all of an hour when I had to actually get out of the house and run an errand; and 3. I'm wearing blue again.

I suppose reason #1 can't be helped. I was in a rush to leave and grabbed what made sense to wear. The second reason explains why I'm not wearing any makeup and why my dirty hair is bundled up like a pork bun on top of my head. As for reason #3... well, I guess I just have a ton of blue in my shrinking wardrobe.

Realizing that I have a bazillion items in blue is yet another perk of my 6-month challenge. I now know that I need to incorporate more colors into my closet. I'm in desperate need of some mustards, pinks, and greens! If you want to assess what you need for your wardrobe, I recommend looking at the colors of the items you already own. Which ones do you have a lot of? From there, you can figure out what you need to spruce up your look!

What colors do you have too much of in your closet? Which ones do you wish you had more of?

ps. The lovely Jana from Jana Styles featured me in her lovely blog! Check the interview and the her awesome blog (one of my favorite daily reads!) here! 

Have a happy weekend!

Brunching in Chicago

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my friend Joy and I love Fall
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Angel Food Bakery-- scrumptious!
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the husband's plate: fried green tomatoes with poached eggs
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mine: roasted asparagus goat cheese scramble
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everyone else's: creamed white mushrooms and poached eggs
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dress worn as top: Forever 21 : shorts: Old Navy :: flats: Target:: bag: Laura Ashley




Two things about me: I don't like taking photos AND I love breakfast. If I could have breakfast for every single meal everyday for the rest of my life, I would be in heaven. Breakfast al fresco? it's like heaven with unicorns. We (the besties, my husband, and I) went to brunch at this lovely, little cafe called Angel Food Bakery. It's a cute little place that serves scrumptious brunch and has a great selection of baked treats! Since we had spent the night chatting and drinking, we were all starving and really didn't care how we looked when we ate. I, of course, wore another food-baby top. Genius.

Ah, the things we do for our hungry bellies

Do you love breakfast as much as I do?