Sunday, August 31, 2014

Colorblocked Maxi Dress DIY

So I'm still stuck on maxi dresses because they are so comfortable and work is business-casual (with a slight emphasis on the casual since jeans and button-downs are very common).  I've been wearing them on an almost constant rotation with blazers, sweaters, and cardigans whilst feeling like I'm lounging around in pajamas.  Nothing beats cranking on Excel in pajamas - I'm only kind of kidding.  :)

Anyhoo, I've been churning them out like a madwoman and this week was no exception.  To break it up a little, I colorblocked and made the hem asymmetrical.

Difficulty: Easy

Time: ~1.5 - 2 hours

Materials: ~2 yards knit fabric A + 3/4 yd knit fabric B for the hem colorblocking

Pattern: Modified neck and hem from the Draped Maxi Dress Tutorial.  The hem looks asymmetrical when wearing, but you can see in the above that it actually is a straight hem.  I cut more flow starting under the bust so that it would drape longer on each side for a little visual interest.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Anniversary & Appreciation Giveaway

4 years ago, I haphazardly wandered into blogging and was floored by the sense of community I found.   Readers and bloggers alike made me feel so welcome - I will be forever grateful for the kindness you've all shown me.  As a token of my appreciation, I'd like to hold a giveaway for a custom-made, knee-length, pleated navy chevron skirt as shown below:

This skirt will be custom made to your waist size and length using 100% cotton / machine-washable fabric.  Once measurements have been communicated, please allow 3-4 weeks for skirt construction.

Giveaway Guidelines:

  1. To enter, simply leave a comment below with either your email OR Twitter / Instagram username.
  2. For a bonus entry, leave a comment on what you'd like to see on the blog.  Could be a DIY / tutorial project or any feedback you may have.
  3. I will randomly select a winner on September 24th.  The winner will have 48 hours to contact me to claim the skirt.  If unclaimed, I will draw another winner.  
  4. This giveaway is open to all readers domestic or international.

Thank you and good luck!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Day in South Bay: Eats & Fabrics

Starting the day off with a 6.0 earthquake was quite jarring.  We are thankful that our area is ok and sending our thoughts to those injured or who sustained any damage up north.

If you search for ramen in San Jose, 2 eateries that inevitably pop up are Orenchi (see here) and Santouka.  I have to say that I was a little skeptical of Santouka given its food court setting, but the broth was well-developed (Spicy Miso, Shio, and Shoyu were distinctively flavored) and the noodles had a good bite.  The regular size bowl gave you a very generous portion of noodles.  

Santouka - Spicy Miso Ramen Combo w/ Ikura Salmon Rice
(Rice was unremarkable)

My current ramen rankings would be 1. Orenchi, 2. Ramen Izakaya Kagura, 3. Santouka, 4. Ramen Dojo / Santa Ramen, and 5. Ramen Parlor.

Diagonal from Santouka was Matcha Love.  We didn't get to try it (too full from Santouka), but are looking forward to it next time!  
As Suzanne mentioned on IG, they have a hojicha offering (roasted green tea) that sounds promising!

 Other Mitsuwa treats included these matcha flavored finds.  I'm saving these for a gal pal outing, but am betting they will be a big hit :)

Matcha Oreos, Hojicha (roasted green tea) Pocky, and Matcha cream sandwich cookies

As if Mitsuwa's offerings weren't enough, there was also a Paris Baguette in the same shopping center (thank you, Caroline, for the recommendation!)

Pain Au Chocolat, Mango Cronut, Strawberry Cronut, Mango Boat
All I can say is Cronut = yummy in my tummy

And what's a trip to San Jose without some fabric shopping at Fabrics R Us?
Pretty checks for $4/yd and chiffon stripes for $2/yd - ridiculously good prices!

Also got to meet up with sweet Phoebe for some boba at Tea Era.  I keep repeating myself, but I love it here and never want to leave!

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

DIY Mini Fabric Bolts & Sewing Room Tour

Prior to having the mini fabric bolts, I'd store my fabrics in giant plastic bins and have to rummage through all of them to find something specific.  I love that I can now just see all of my fabrics at a glance.  I first saw the idea for mini fabric bolts at Iheartnaptime and thought it was genius to use comic book boards as the basis for the bolts.  Because I initially kept poking myself with pins, I modified her idea by simply folding and wrapping my fabrics around the boards instead.


  • Comic Book Boards - I used 8.5 x 11"
  • Fabric


Note - For thinner fabrics like chiffons, I'd recommend placing them in magazine holders to maximize shelf space and keep them standing better (see above pic, bottom right).

1.  Fold fabric into a size that is roughly 3X wider than your board (does NOT have to be perfect)

2.  Fold one side of the fabric over the long edge of the board.

3.  Fold fabric over both of the shorter ends of the board

4.  Roll board and fabric towards the loose fabric end

5.  Tuck

You're finished!  Now display your fabrics proudly!

On to the Sewing Room tour - so when I say "Sewing Room", it's really more of a sewing corner in a living room that also serves as an office.  Space is tight, but it's still nice to have dedicated space.  When I first started sewing (2 houses ago), I would haul my sewing machine and materials into the breakfast nook, sew, and then put everything away again.

My little sewing table holds my serger and sewing machine.  The OttLite in the middle is great for detail work.

Kitchen jars organize little sewing items like tape measures, zippers, etc.

My little sewing corner

Fabric Shelf (Ikea Expedit)
Most fabrics are organized on mini bolts and shelved (typically by material and then color) like books for easy visibility.  Solids are kept in the bins and organized by material - i.e. knits, twills, shirtings, laces.  Also in bins are bulky wools, remnants, and supplies.

Example of one of the fabric bins

If you have any good organizational tips (especially for small spaces), please do share!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

20 Minute Convertible Maxi Dress / Skirt DIY Tutorial

The fall magazine issues are starting to roll in, but I'm still on a summer maxi dress kick.  The bonus to this one is that you can fold down the top portion to wear as a skirt AND it only takes 20 minutes to make.

Difficulty: Very Easy

Time: 20 minutes

  • 2 yards stretchy knit fabric
Due to the length of the post and number of pictures, please see the rest of the tutorial after the jump.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mom's Kitchen: Easy Chinese Salt & Pepper Chicken

A long-time favorite, Salt & Pepper (Jiao Yan) anything is a big hit with the family.  It complements a simple bowl of rice or a plate of salad.  The typical chicken preparation for this uses chicken wings or dark meat, but the kids and I are lazy about bones and prefer white to dark meat.  Feel free to use what you like!

Prep Time: ~15 minutes 

Cooking Time: ~15 minutes

  • 1 Chicken Breast (or chicken wings, dark meat, etc.)
  • 1 tbsp Minced Garlic
  • Cooking Oil (enough to submerge your chicken)
  • Corn Starch (enough to coat your chicken)
  • Dried Chili Pepper
  • Salt and White Pepper
  • Sprinkle of Chinese Five-Spice Powder
  • Green Onions (optional)
  • Fresh Jalapeno (optional)
  • Coat your chicken using a mixture of corn starch with dashes of salt and pepper.  Coat evenly.

  • Heat up your oil.  Once hot, toss in your chicken to fry.  Do not stir!  Wait until it looks like the batter has solidified, otherwise your coating will fall off.
  • Once evenly fried (~5 min), let chicken cool a little bit on a paper towel.  After a few minutes of cooling, place it back in the oil for a quick flash fry.  This ensures it will stay crisp throughout the meal.

  • In a pan, heat up a little oil.  Saute garlic and green onions.  Toss in your seasonings and chicken. Stir well to coat.


I'm thinking about uploading cooking videos on YouTube - is that preferable to pictures / text?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Easy Infinity Maxi Dress DIY Tutorial

I've long been enamored with the concept of infinity dresses, but was a little wary of the open back.  So instead of the typical 2 strap version - I used 4 straps - 2 in front and 2 in back - for more complete coverage.  I also made the fabric overlap deeper to ensure the "v" didn't cut too low on any given side (the thought of wardrobe malfunction terrifies me).

Difficulty: Easy

Time: ~2-3 hrs

  • 4 yards 56-60" width chiffon fabric (I wear a strapless dress or full slip underneath)
  • 1/4" elastic
Due to the length of the post and number of pictures, please see the rest of the tutorial after the jump.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Mom's Kitchen: Chinese Cucumber Salad

Last week was sweltering and our house does not have air conditioning (I'm told the temperature never used to exceed the 70s out here).  Whilst we tried to cool ourselves with innumerable fans, Mom made this salad and I fell in love with how refreshing it was.  Even better was that the prep only took 10 minutes and no cooking was required.

Prep Time: ~10 minutes 

Marinating Time: ~30 minutes

  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1 tbsp Minced Garlic
  • Dash of Sesame Oil
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Chili Sauce (we use Sambal Oelek, amount is really up to you and your preferences)
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Green Onions (optional)
  • Combine garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, chili sauce, salt, and pepper in a bowl and mix.

  • Lightly peel your cucumber (optional) and cut in half lengthwise

  • Smash your cucumbers by placing a knife over top and lightly tapping the flat part of the knife with your palm.  This allows the marinade to soak through more thoroughly.

  • Cut into bite-sized pieces and toss into bowl.
  • Add sesame seeds and green onions.  Stir and let sit in refrigerator for 30 minutes or more.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Maxi Makeover w/ a DIY Scarf

Inspired by Blake Lively's Gucci dress, I wanted to try a simple overlay effect.  For this, I chose a print to contrast with my solid maxi dress:

Difficulty: Easy

Time: ~20 minutes

  • 3/4 yard of 52-60" width chiffon fabric
  • Scarf tutorial here, but modify the measurements as follows: 
    • Narrow the width - I used 10" by measuring at the base of my neck from one shoulder to the other 
    • Mirror the length of your maxi * 2 for the length (mine was 104" so I connected 2 rectangles of 10 x 52.5")
Once the scarf is finished, simply cut a hole in the middle for your head and finish the edges with a rolled hem.  I used an existing slip-over type top to get the proper size.

That's it!

Other scarf-as-clothing ideas HERE and HERE.

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!


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