Love, Lydia - Notes from a geeky, plus sized artist.: July 2015

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

More Fiction Reviews

Hi folks,

Today I've got 5 book reviews in store for you all, here goes!

Geekomancy by Michael R. Underwood is the first in a series of lighthearted adventures that I'm only halfway through.  I was really unsure if I would like this book, and at times I thought it tried too hard to get in as many geeky references as possible.  However, in all I really enjoyed the protagonist, Ree, and the rest of her world.  The premise that all things geeky can be used to power a type of magic and the stuff of most sci fi and fantasy stories has some kind of reality beneath it.  If you love all things geek this is fun, if not you may not like it as much, but it was enjoyable for me.

Celebromancy by Michael R. Underwood is the second in the series, and while I enjoyed hearing more about the world (or underworld depending on how you see it), I thought this book wasn't quite as good as the first.  This book looks at the magic of Hollywood and movie culture.  I found the characters a little less relatable, but still enjoyed the story.  I'll definitely be reading the next book in this series when I have the chance.

The Long War by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter follows up from The Long Earth.  The book looks at how within a generation those who've colonized the long earth are deemed less important by those in charge of the original earth.  They want to make sure they own the land across each world and can tax the citizens throughout since it costs more to send people and supplies to further worlds.  When war comes the way it's handled is unique and we see both familiar and new characters solving the problems of the long earth.

 The Long Mars by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter picks up not too long after the last book and explore space travel while also following Joshua and Lobsang on another of their adventures and watching what unfolds as original earth faces its own disaster.  I feel like this series is one you'll either love or hate from the reviews I've read, and personally I love it.  There's a storyline that should lead nicely into the next volume of this series and I can't wait to read it.

 The Reluctant Midwife by Patricia Harman is a novel I just picked up in the last week and have burned through quickly.  It's a great period book set during the Great Depression and manages to convey the gravity of the time very well.  We follow Nurse Becky's troubles and joys as she helps deliver babies and finally finds a community to be at home in.  If you like any of the things mentioned above with a dash of sound medical facts thrown in this is a great read for you.  It's the second book in a series, but I wasn't able to tell and found out after I finished reading it.

Hope this give you some great ideas for summer reads.  I'll be heading to the beach next week with a copy of Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), A Walk in the Woods (Bill Bryson), and Trust Me I'm Lying (Ryan Holiday).  No promises on how much I'll actually read, because at the beach things are pretty unscheduled. But you all will hear from me as I continue posting about books, fashion, and life.

Beyond all that I've started editing my blog some and now have labels on all my posts.  At the bottom of each post you'll find some links with words related to the post so you can see any other posts on the same subject.  Hopefully this will allow you all to find whatever book, tutorial, or other story you need easily.  Let me know if you have any suggestion for words I should add to a post!  Thanks, I'll see you next time.


Monday, July 27, 2015

The Garden Corner

Hi folks,

I know I've occasionally mentioned how I planned to start a garden once we moved.  I wrote down ideas and potential ways of setting things up.  All my planning got dropped on its head when I got to our finished yard.  Not to say I haven't done a lot.  I have, but I've had my fair share of failures too.

When we closed on our house there was just straw in the backyard, with some sparse grass seeds.  The seeds have struggled and even with a second seeding of some other type of grass there's still muddy patches around.  The biggest problem is the soil quality in the backyard, the topsoil was all stripped, so despite my soil testing being a bit more promising this spring nothing except densely compacted clay is in the backyard.  I still need to check a bit of the hillside though, so maybe I'll get lucky there.  We're getting some lawn treatments as a move in bonus, so hopefully that'll help too.  In the meantime I had a gaggle of seedlings and small plants to put in the ground and I unexpectedly inherited a variety of plants from my parents old house too!

What I've managed so far is:

Planting the sad little Japanese Maple my parents sent
Setting up two raised beds with new soil
Creating a compost bin with the help of Bryan's dad
I seeded most of the backyard with clover since it stays low the the ground, needs less mowing,
enriches the nitrogen levels of the soil, and is rabbit friendly too!
Planting a blueberry bush (1 of the 2 we bought died before we could plant it)
Planting the gardenia I'd been trying to rescue
Planted a Climbing Don Juan rose
Set up bird feeders in the back and front yards
Transplanted all the seedlings I had left from my starters
Planting more veggies from seeds

We originally put the raised beds a bit further into the yard, but moved the further one so contractors could access our yard and fix the drainage problems (the paths the water created after our first rain show how the grass seed got washed away)

What's flourished:

The Blueberry bush
Most of the clover
Spinach - though some has bolted (gone to seed) our bunny doesn't mind the taste
Bell peppers
The 2 dwarf mulberry trees
The rose bush

What we're not sure about:

Cauliflower (the bugs like it, but it's still growing)
Tomatoes (only 2 plants made it until I could transplant them, with our first fruit expected soon)
Our apple trees
A couple little lettuce plants - I planted them from seed, but the heat seems to be too bad

What's died:
The Japanese Maple
The old strawberry plants
Most lettuce, miners lettuce, and sea kale
The gardenia
The surprise plants I from my parents that I couldn't get into the ground fast enough

Everything in our garden is pesticide free, and I've tried to pair plants that work well together in the same bed.  That's mostly gone quite well, though we'll see how the cauliflower turns out, I think they might not like the hot summers, so I'll be planting more of them for fall as well.  A lot of plants that enjoy cooler weather can be planted at the end of summer and harvested in fall and winter.  I'll be planting more kale, lettuce, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, and a few other things in a few weeks when we get back from a trip to the beach.  The only special treatment I've given plants otherwise is watering them for 15 minutes with a sprinkler if it's been a few days since it rained.  I haven't had to do that too much yet thankfully, but the summer isn't over yet.

I'm thinking about creating some hillside planters once the weather is cool enough to really work outside more.   If so I'd set them up for the dwarf mulberries and apple trees.  I'd love to have full terraces with steps and eliminate mowing the slope altogether, but I'm not sure when I could implement a project that large, but I could use the area for more vegetables and fruit and some great flowers too.  I'd love to attract more local pollinators.  I know we have the hummingbirds around since I've seen one at the feeder in our front yard and got buzzed in the face by one while wearing my brightly colored Pokemon tshirt last Thursday!  I think it mistook me for a flower patch and then thought better of it once it got close enough to me face.

As you can see I'm keeping things green where I can!  Let me know if you have any suggestions.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Fashion Friday

Hi everyone,

I'm out for the weekend to a family reunion, so this will be a shorter entry.  I'll have travel pictures and possibly some good stories when I return.

This week I have a couple of outfits to share with you all and a quick "How-to" for the method I use to dye my hair (with help from my husband).

I start off by using Beyond The Zone bleach on my hair.  It comes in a great kit that contains powder and a bottle of developer, gloves, a hair cap you can use to highlight or just protect your stuff from bleach/dye, plus a little highlighting wand and a brush for applying the bleach.  I always use this kit because it works incredibly well.  It takes 30-90 minutes depending on your hair, mine usually works at around an hour.  And this is the result:

I could wait for it to get more white blond, but I also run the danger of waiting too long and frying a bit of hair.  I've only had this happen once, and serendipitously it just gave me some cute bangs.  But it scared me enough to never wait too long again!

After the bleach process is washed out of your hair you have to it's fully dry before dying it.  The bleach makes hair dry, but the color I use by Manic Panic is a stain, so it can sit on hair for hours and not hurt a thing.  I find it actually moisturizes my hair really well as long as I leave it on for a couple hours.  This time I left the color on overnight, and put on the hair cap from the bleach kit to protect my pillow.  When I went to wash the dye out very little came out because it had soaked in so well.  As for the color I started by adding bits of After Midnight (blue) and Enchanted Forest (dark green) strategically where I wanted them to show best, then I put Atomic Turquoise on the rest.  Bryan helped me spot and fix places I couldn't see.  I'm blind without my glasses, so I'm very glad to have him helping me.  Here's what it looks like with the dye in my hair:

and then after it's washed out and complete:

Other than sometimes using a hairdryer to help the dye or bleach soak in better (use sparingly for the bleach unless you really know what you're doing), I don't really do anything fancy.

Anyway, now for the outfits:

The top is from Maurices, the jeans are skinnies from Torrid, the flip flips from Old Navy and the necklace was made by a fellow artist at the Crafty Cotillion Handmade Expo back in 2009.  I tried to track them down, but I couldn't find her site.  I love this piece though! 


This top is one I tried from Gwynnie Bee, I was going to wear it on the trip today, but at the last minute decided I really wasn't so into it, for several reasons - the fit and for comfort's sake.  So I switched to the top pictured below from Anthropologie instead, but brought the floral button down from Anthopologie in case I needed it, and kept the zip ankle jeans and converse sneakers too.

That's all for today, but I'll be back to talk about my garden Monday.  Till then do you readers have any suggestions for new ways I can try wearing what's in my wardrobe?


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Book Reviews in Fiction and Non-Fiction

Hello everyone,

I'm finally getting my thoughts down about all these books I've been reading.  Hopefully my mini reviews will help you discover some great new reads!  And if you're yearning for more after this I'll be writing many more posts like this in the future, usually on Wednesdays, or you can look at my Goodreads page to see my full reading history.

Without further adieu here are two of my fiction selections to start out with:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is a classic that I've watched many times on the big and small screen.  The A&E version is my favorite of course!  I couldn't help but love it after watching it at girls nights at Mrs. H's when I was a teenager.  Mrs. H had all boys and would invite the young ladies from my church for a movie night and some of her home cooking, we'd always have a great time.  I'd bought myself a copy and read part of it, but finally came back to it and read it while also reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, going back and forth every few chapters.  I supremely enjoyed reading Austen's work, but found myself disappointed by Grahame-Smith's.  It's a period book, and Grahame-Smith nor the illustrator Philip Smiley took the time to properly research the clothing, and many other aspects of the time.  It just ruined it for me, and I didn't think the writing was particularly great either, since many aspects of characters were changed.  The dialogue was sadly much too modern in parts, which I also found jolting.  However, Austen's work engrossed me and I could easily imagine the world and characters she created between the films and her masterful prose.  There was a really lovely quote I wanted to share with you all, but I can't find it now that I'm looking.  Isn't that always the way that works?

Next up some non-fiction:

The Weekend Homesteader by Anna Hess is a great starting book for those who wish to start a home mini farm or be more self sufficient.  I really liked how it grouped different activities by the month they should be done in (more or less depending on climate of course!).  And she even ranks things by difficulty, which is helpful for those just getting started.  I found that at least half of the activities weren't the type I was interested in persuing, but still found it an interesting read.  If you're thinking about raising chickens and doing some serious work in your yard/garden this is a great read to start with.

Call the Nurse by Mary J. MacLeod is the memoir of an English nurse on the far Scottish isles of the Hebrides.  Her stories are both funny and poignant, which made me unable to put this book down.  She captures a time around 1970 when only a bit of modernization had come to the islands and many people still lived much the way their ancestors had for centuries.  Having picked this book up on a whim I'm now happy to recommend it to all of my readers who might enjoy a book of short stories that's sure to please.

My last selection in this category is Paradise Lot by Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates.  This is book documenting the journey of a pair of young single gardeners as they move into their first home and change the landscape into an urban oasis.  There are bumps along the way, lots of garden talk, and a bit of romance too.  I found it was a very insightful book for those looking to create edible gardens, but it's written more as a story that just happens to involve lots of plant life than a guide to growing.  It's an amusing read if you're into gardening and ecology, but a bit less approachable compared to the other two books above.

On a related note I've been writing an entry about gardening at our new house to share with you all next week.  I want to show you the whole house, but I'm not quite happy with everything just yet.  So I'm delaying the post on that until I can get things up to snuff.  Between the house, yard, fashioning my capsule wardrobe, games with Bryan's family, planning trips for summer and fall, making art, and reading I've been keeping quite busy!  I'll see you all Friday for another fashion themed post.  Till then keep being wonderful.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Getting to Know You: Durham

Hey folks,

So Bryan and I have lived in Raleigh the past 2 and a half years and we explored the city a bit.  But Bryan grew up there and knew a lot of interesting things to do and we didn't even get to all of them before moving.  Now here we are in Durham and I can't wait to find new places to eat, shop and hang out around town!

One of my goals is to try a new restaurant every month, and since we go for a date night once a week it's perfect for trying them.  I thought I'd share some of our discoveries with you all since some of you might be locals or visiting Durham sometime!

Our June discovery was The Blue Corn Cafe.  They're a fantastic little family run restaurant on 9th St near Duke University.  They specialize in Latin American foods of all kinds.  I think Bryan and I were both a little nervous since we're not as familiar with most of the foods on the menu, but everything we had was delicious!  We tried their chips and queso with refried beans as well as their homemade salsa, which all had just the right balance of savory and spicy flavors.  Bryan had the Ropa Vieja, it's a steamed beef dish with red sauce over saffron rice.  He also had a side of Cuban bread with it, which proved to be a favorite.  The Ropa Vieja is definitely a comfort food type of dish, it's hearty with a good bit of spice, but not too much for a wimp like me.  And then I had the fish special of the day, which featured locally caught fish over rice with salsa (spicier than I thought it might be, but so good!), as well as fried plantains, and a side of refried beans.  While I really enjoyed it I'm looking forward to going back for the Chicken and Mole, and Bryan has already asked to return for some Ropa Vieja.  The staff at Blue Corn was fantastic and we felt so welcome during our visit.  We hope you'll stop by and check them out too!

Now that July is here we decided to head back the the 9th St neighborhood and try out Heavenly Buffaloes.  I had seen them on Google maps, which can sometimes go really well, but can also have interesting results.  In this case it was both!  I got all dressed up thinking we'd be going inside and sitting down, but when we got to the restaurant it was actually just a cute little place with an order window.  We weren't perturbed though, and since Bryan and I had been thinking about wings all day we decided it would be a good night to watch a movie together at home.  So we tried out the Honey BBQ, (good, but not a stand out) Carolina Honey Mustard (sooooo good, I don't know how I'll manage to try many more sauces because I know I'll always want to get this one now), and the Zesty Garlic Parmesan (just the perfect amount of spice with plenty of complexity to the flavor, Bryan loved it), with a side of waffle fries that were also seasoned with Garlic Parmesan (great flavor too, but eat them before they get cold or they're not nearly as good).  I loved it and Bryan enjoyed it too, though I think we was slightly more disappointed it wasn't a place we could go inside to eat.  However, they do have late night hours Wednesday-Saturday, so I think we've found our late night food stop.

Hope you find some good eats too.  Feel free to tell me about your local favorites in the comments!  Until next time.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Summer Fun and Fashion

Hey everyone,

This week we welcomed Bryan's brother Michael home from a year in Jerusalem with a party celebrating all the holidays we'd missed.  (You all should check out his blog, he's a fantastic writer!) We started with Michael giving kids Halloween candy, then had a thanksgiving dinner together (with most of the people who come for thanksgiving!), then had Christmas presents, counted down to the new year, celebrated Michael's birthday, and finally finished off the night with 4th of July fireworks. (Easter was skipped since his parents visited him then)  We're really glad to have him back, and were excited to hear all his stories.  Here are some shots from the festivities.

Lots of fun with family and friends!

Now for the fashion part of the post.  Here are a couple of the outfits I put together from the Sunday of the party, running errands Wednesday, and Thursday's date night.

Sunday - Top Catos, Skirt Torrid, Sandals Modcloth

Wednesday - Top Anthropologie, Necklace Forever 21, Shorts Lane Bryant, Sandals Modcloth

Thursday - Top Anthropologie, Necklace Charming Charlie, Skirt Catos, Sandals Modcloth

And what happens when my camera falls off its precarious perch on the windowsill.

I'm hoping to get a nice mini tripod that will help with this for or after my birthday in a few weeks though, so hopefully we won't have too many more blurred action shots.

Finally I'm doing a free trial month with Gwynnie Bee, a clothing rental service for sizes 10-32 that lets you try new brands and styles you might not otherwise try.  I've tried them in the past when I was job hunting, but it's been a while and I wanted to see what new things they might have.  My first 3 pieces all fit wrong, the top hand length issues in the arms, the solid dress fit like a sack, and the printed dress just hung wrong on my frame.  I didn't even like them well enough to photograph them, and sent them back immediately.  I should get another 3 pieces to try tomorrow, and I'm hoping I have better luck with them.
Details: Nic + Zoe Misty Striped Top size 1x, Lucie Lu Collared Shirtdress in Navy in 4x(Gwynnie Bee Exclusive), and Jete Floral Remix Tank Dress in 2x.  They all fit about right in size, it's just the cuts that were wrong.  It's crazy how sizing can be so different from brand to brand too.  In general I wear a 22/2x for dresses and bottoms, and a 20/1x for tops on a pear shaped frame..

That's all for now, but I've got plenty of posts in the works and lots of great book reviews, travel fun, and more to share with you soon.  Have a great weekend!


Monday, July 13, 2015

My Summer Book Report - Overview

Hi guys,

I've been doing lots of reading, and also rereading books while moving.  But it's been a long time since I've written you all one of my bigger book review posts.  So this one is long past due!

The books I've read since my last post in February (oh long ago!) are as follows The Weekend Homesteader by Anna Hess, Call The Nurse by Mary J MacLeod, and Paradise Lot by Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates - these are all non-fiction.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, Jane Austen, and Philip Smiley, Geekomancy by Michael R. Underwood, Celebromancy by Michael R. Underwood, The Long War by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, The Long Mars by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter - these are adult fiction.

Fuse by Julianna Baggott, Burn by Julianna Baggott, Gifts of the Blood by Vicki Keire, The Swap by Megan Shull, Cipher by Aileen Erin, Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger,  plus the books I reread The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine, and Wild MagicWolf Speaker, and Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce - all YA fiction.

And finally with many more entries than I've had before comes the graphic novels/comics section.
Manifest Destiny Volume 1 by Chris Dingess, Matthew Roberts, and Owen Gieni, Amulet Volume 1 by Kazu Kibuishi, Thor: Godess of Thunder Volume 1 by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman, The Sculptor by Scott McCloud, Rat Queens Volume 1 by Kurtis J. Weibe and Roc Upchurch, Rat Queens Volume 2 by Kurtis J. Weibe, Roc Upchurch, Stjepan Sejic, and Ed Brisson,   Captain Marvel: Marvel Now, Volume 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick, David Lopez, and Lee Loughridge, Lumberjanes Volume 1 by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke A. Allen, Ms. Marvel Volume 2 by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and Jacob Wyatt, Ms. Marvel Volume 3 by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Elmo Bondoc, and Mark Waid, Bride of the Water God Volume 1  by Mi-Kyung Yun, Avengers & X-Men: Axis by Rick Remender, Adam Kubert, and Leinil Francis Yu, Batgirl Volume 1 by Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr, and Brenden Fletcher.

Also here's an updated list for my more complex reading challenge.  I'd love recommendations for books, and if anyone can think of a book set in Roanoke, VA that'd be fantastic!  I don't want to have to cheat and use a book about the lost colony, but I guess I could if I have to.

The big reason I have so many graphic novels on my list is because back in February Bryan and I happened to spot a new comic book store in a strip mall we often passed going on errands from our old house.  The place is called Fight or Flight Comics and it was exactly the kind of store we didn't even know we were looking for.  We always end up in some great conversations when we go in, and find new things to read too.  6 of the 13 comic titles are entirely thanks to them!  If you're in Raleigh or the Triangle area be sure to check them out, their shiny new shop is well worth the trip!  You'll probably hear more about them in the future as Bryan and I are hoping to get involved with a discussion group they have going.

Anyway, back to the books - I don't want to overwhelm you all, so I'll be breaking the actual reviews into 6 entries of 4-7 items each since there are 42 books in total on this list.  I'm very close to hitting my yearly goal of 52 books, because with all these I'm sitting at 51!  I imagine by the time I get around to writing the last of the 6 sets of reviews I'll have topped that and should be adding a couple more books to the lists as I go along.  Till next time.


Friday, July 10, 2015

More on My Capsule Wardrobe

Hi folks,

So first off I realized I wasn't totally clear about some things in my post about my capsule wardrobe.  I want to clarify how a capsule wardrobe works and what I'm doing with mine, then I'll highlight some of the struggles I've had in making it work thus far.

What's a capsule wardrobe?

The concept of a capsule wardrobe springs from the idea that if you look at what's in your closet after years of compiling more stuff you start to realize you hold on to things you don't need.  In some cases it's things that don't suit you as a person anymore, or that aren't work appropriate, things you have too many of, items that don't fit you right, or items that are worn or in need of repairs that might take too much effort.  Everyone has a little bit of these things in the closet in some way or other unless of course they're already some sort of minimalist.  If so you don't need to create a capsule, you're already doing it and just didn't know!

Once you start to condense your closet to just the "good stuff" you start to see more clearly what your sense of style is like, the types of clothes you enjoy wearing, what works well for your body, and a whole lot more.  It allows you to see what items you actually need so you spend less and also get more bang for your buck because you're being mindful about the buying process.  It places priority on only buying items you love that are of better quality instead of spending on a whim.  It also lets you relax since you know most items are mix and match ready with other pieces in your closet.  So it helps de-stress your daily routine, while opening the way for creativity in how you pair items.

I happened on the concept of the capsule wardrobe while browsing for new fashion blogs back in February.  While perhaps I don't seem like the type to care about it all from the point of designers and brand names I find that I really enjoy the aesthetic fun of creating new looks for myself, and viewing what other normal people have done as well.  I mulled over the idea and knowing our move would give me the perfect chance to enact a big change I started planning things out during April and May.  The sites I drew inspiration from were Unfancy and Project 333 for the basics of how to put the capsule together.  Then blogs like Crafty Minx (who makes some of her own clothes and is also a plus sized lady!) and Kendra's Closet Confections (I loooove her way of combining bright colors and classic cuts) for ideas on what kinds of items might work well for my style, since I like their looks.  These days I'm looking for new ways to style what I've chosen from blogs like my friend Rachel's (where she pairs long sleeves with shorts, totally on my to try list!) and some of the other new plus size capsule creators like Little Raven Ink (she's also an artist, so her blog is extra fun).

Most capsule wardrobes are created to cover a 3 month period and use about 30-37 pieces.  My first one landed at 35 pieces, but I'm already starting to see I should have made a few changes now that I'm a month and a half in to my June-August cycle.  A lot of people have different rules for what pieces they include and don't too, some count purses, jewelry, and other accessories, and some don't.  Mine includes tops, bottoms, dresses and shoes for now.  I also kind of added my purse, so you could say it's 36 pieces now.  I'm not too picky this time around.  To recap here are the images of all the clothes I've included.

For more information about the individual pieces please check out my last post.

So, you're probably wondering what kind of issues could I have had?  These clothes look pretty good.  (At least I hope that's what you're thinking!) Well, my problem is I want to layer more and add things like scarves to my repertoire.  My struggle there is it's really been hot here in North Carolina.  To an extent it is every summer, but for the past month & a half the highs have been above 90F the vast majority of days (average is supposed to be mid 80s).  I get hot way too easily for being fancy most days since I'm more the fall and winter loving type of person.  I think I've only managed to wear jeans 5-6 times since the start of June, though the olive khakis should fare a bit better since they roll up.

That's really been the biggest issue I've had.  Also I feel like I don't have need for skirts as much as I hoped during summer.  And though having 2 dresses available is nice I'm not sure I'll wear the second one by the end of summer unless I start making opportunities to.  I'm more comfortable wearing skirts and dresses in fall when I can throw on some leggings and not have to deal with heat rash on my poor bare legs.

My goals for the next month and a half are to:
1. Start photographing my favorite combinations
2. Plan my fall wardrobe with as few new items as possible
3. Connect with other bloggers
4. Be more creative with the pieces and accessories I've got

That's all for this Fashionyface Friday.  Next week I'll try to share some of my outfits with you all and talk about my experiences with the clothing rental company Gwynnie Bee.  Till next time!


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Bacon to Break in My New Kitchen

Hi again everyone!

Since we've moved to the new house in Durham we've been able to do more cooking.  Having a working kitchen sink made it better than the old rental already!  Really though, we're thankful to have a nice new kitchen with enough space to cook comfortably allowing us to enjoy cooking again.  It's nothing huge or fancy, but after an apartment and a small older home it feels fantastic.

What have we cooked so far?  Well the first weekend after we closed on the house we made My Mom's Chili, breakfast pizzas (precooked biscuits/english muffins, with sausage, scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese and gravy as components you can mix and match, then just toast it in the oven for 5-10 minutes until the cheese starts to brown), and other favorites like crock pot pork tenderloin, plus new dishes including Bacon Cinnamon Rolls, and Ranch Chicken Club Roll-Ups.

Really the biggest thing was learning to cook bacon in the oven.  I've done it three times in the last week, most recently for the cinnamon rolls.  It makes me happy every time I get to smell it.  Also it's delicious bacon.  The cinnamon rolls were pretty good, and if you're into sweet and savory combinations you should give it a try.  I made sure the bacon was cooked through, but soft enough to roll up into the dough.  Baking the rolls really didn't cook the bacon more so you can get away with making the bacon the way you like as long as you're able to tuck it in the buns, so the strips don't have to be that soft.  I ended up using a half a slice of bacon in each roll.  Here's what ours looked like.

Here's a quick tour of our kitchen too.  Starting from the day we got our keys, a few weeks later we finally got our fridge, and just recently with a fresh coat of paint.  


Thank goodness for Memorial Day sales, which allowed us to get a really nice fridge on a budget.  We're so glad to be settling in and making things feel like home finally.

That's all I have to share with you for today, Thursday I'll be making this Cheesy Enchilada Rice Skillet for dinner and next week I'm hoping to tackle some Homemade Maine Style Lobster Rolls for a good challenge.  So more food blogs are in the works.  Check back Friday as I share some reflections on my capsule wardrobe and start making my fashion based blogs a Friday only event.  Thanks for reading!!


Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Capsule Wardrobe AKA Fashionyface Things

Hey folks,

So on the good side of things when I tend to stay busy I'm also better able to hold depression at bay.  That's for reasons from being more social, to feeling useful, all the way to simply not having as much time to think and reflect on things.  Over the past few months I've stayed fairly busy and the past couple weeks have been no exception.  I've put together my capsule wardrobe, which comes to a total of 35 pieces.  I found that once I took a good long look at my clothes it wasn't too tough.  I set aside some of my clothes for different seasons by grouping by colors to a certain extent.  So I have 3-4 pieces set aside for spring, about 16 for fall, and around 8 for winter.  Plus I haven't bothered to purge a lot of my winter things just yet so I'm sure I'll add to that number. I've managed to go through most other items in my closet and will try selling a bunch of shoes on either Ebay or Poshmark perhaps.  If anyone has experience with Poshmark let me know what you think if them as I just heard of them and want to hear some reviews.

Now that I've cleared out my closet, on the the Summer 2015 Capsule wardrobe!

So now it's on with the clothes!  Let me know if you want more information, for now I'm sticking with where I got items and a quick descriptor.  I'm happy to provide more info!  I love discussing places to find adorable outfits when I get the chance too so I'd love to hear what some of my reader's favorites are as well.  Let me know what places you love in the comments.

1 -  Serenity Mosaica (Firefly/Serenity) tshirt from Neatoshop
2 - Lace trim cami, Kmart
3 - Ruffled swing top, Anthropologie
4 - Tank with chiffon inset, Catos
5 - Balloon print top, Macy's
6 - Rolled sleeve dolman tshirt, Catos
7 - Striped hi-low top, Anthropologie
8 - Geometric print cami, City Chic
9 - Orange Islands (Pokemon) Tshirt from Neatoshop
10 - Eiffel tower print crop top, Catos
11 - Bubble hem cami, City Chic
12 - Henley tank, Anthropologie
13 - Bubble hem cami, City Chic (I have this top in 4 colors because I caught a great sale and love how comfortable it feels!  I'm saving the purple one for fall as well as a black and white striped one.)
14 - Contrast strap lace front tank, Maurices
15 - Floral print button down, Anthropologie
16 - Lace back hoodie, Target

17 - Zip vent, studded pocket ankle jeans, Torrid
18 - Skinny jeans, Torrid
19 - Roll tab pants, Macy's
20 - Lace maxi skirt, Torrid
21 - Striped terry skirt, Catos
22 - Gauze maxi skirt, Old Navy
23 - Linen drawstring shorts, Lane Bryant
24 - Levis cut off shorts, Modcloth
25 - Levis dark wash, rolled hem shorts, Amazon
26 - Heart print sundress, City Chic
27 - Levis light wash, rolled hem shorts, Amazon
28 - Colored denim rolled hem shorts, Lane Bryant
29 - The Story of Citrus dress, Modcloth
30 - Gallery Cafe sandal, Modcloth
31 - Paisley wedge flip flops (girls size 5=7 womens), Old Navy
32 - Floral print flats, Payless
33 - Corner Bistro sandal, Modcloth
34 - Lauren navy and straw wedge, Macy's
35 - Converse ruffle tongue sneakers (girls size 5), Macy's

I feel pretty great about it all and over the course of this month I've not felt limited at all!  So far items I haven't worn are 2, 4, 10, 20, 22, 29, and 34.  And in the case of 4 & 10 it's because I pulled them out of a box later in unpacking....because I still have some clothes left to unpack.  >.<  Not much though.  I don't have a lot of occasions to wear skirts and dresses in the summer, but I want to wear skirts a bit more often for fun.  I wore the sundress on father's day at least, and the striped skirt out to the movies last Sunday.  I know I also have a couple skirts and dresses left to unpack, so perhaps I'll have more to wear in that department soon!  Also I'll probably incorporate my purses and scarves into my next season's capsule.  Right now I've been using this little shoulder bag all the time, though I have several others too.  (lip balm shown for scale!)

Other than all that I also got a bit of a makeover this month with a nice short haircut for summer.

I've been trying to decide what color I'll do next since last time I did this lovely color transition.

So, this post is completely vain...but not in vain I hope?  haha  Ok, no more puns....
Really though I'll be back soon to show a bit more of our home to you so you all can see what I've been working on.  Also it's past time for a good book review post.  And I've been gardening and trying new recipes too!  Having a kitchen with a working sink is such a blessing after spending the last month at the rental without one.  And having space to's simply amazing!  I can't wait to share all of it with you.  Til next time!