Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 Year in Review

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season so far!  Sometimes it's hard to believe that the year is nearly over.  It's been a pretty full year for us as a family.  If you'll indulge me, I'd like to share some of my personal highlights.  :)

Favorite DIYs:
I cut down on buying clothing (1% vs. 4% last year) and focused more on making my own.  This year, I tried my hand at making more complex items like coats:

I also played around with different details on maxi dresses:

And experimented with more dress / skirt tutorials:

Favorite Eats:
My family and I spent a good deal of the year exploring different eateries :)
  • Gochi in Mountain View / Cupertino
  • Hakka in San Francisco
  • Mango Medley in San Francisco
  • Everything in Hong Kong (1, 2, and 3)

Favorite Moments / Events:
  • Food and fabric exploration adventures in SF, LA (1 and 2), and Hong Kong
  • Mommy moments
    • Toddler affection - when E asks for a "huck" (hug), or "I want to kiss your nose", or says "I wuv you" / "Hewwo Mom"
    • Preschooler accomplishments - V's utter excitement about reading / listening to bedtime stories / doing homework / learning Chinese (enrolled in bilingual preschool w/ nightly tutorials from my husband)
    • Building Lego castles with them and seeing their glee in knocking them down
    • Christmas morning squeals :)
  • Cycling with husband
    • Went from an exhausting 10 miles on our mountain bikes to 30 miles on our new hybrids 2x a week

Happy New Year to everyone!!  May 2014 bring you happiness and many blessings!
A GIANT thank you for visiting this blog and joining me in my sewing, dining, and shopping adventures!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

J. Crew Factory Fitting Room Reviews & Happy Holidays!

Against my husband's better judgement, we went to the outlet mall this morning to make some exchanges.  While there, I saw that Kate Spade had an additional 60% off the entire store.  The line, even at 10ish AM, extended past the door, across the center, and nearly to the street.  I did not go in, but I'm sure there were good deals!

I did stop by J. Crew Factory enticed by their 50% off plus additional 25% off for card members.

Jeweled Charley Sweater, XS, orig. $108, sale $40 (don't see online, style # 06063)
I thought this was a nice design around the collar and the Charley is very consistent in sizing.  I've been an XS for years (slim sleeves, a little room in the torso, and good length - not too short or long) and I love that they're never itchy.
Verdict:  Not a bad price for a jeweled item, but I wasn't in love with it enough to purchase it.

Lace-Print Sweatshirt, XXS, orig. $68, sale $25 (here)
It's such a pretty shirt!  As far as fit goes, the sleeves were a little snug, but the chest fit fine and the torso just had a little bit of extra room.  
Verdict:  I would have purchased an XS if they had it, but the XXS was too snug in the arms and I figured the S might be a little too big.
See on Jean and Gigi.

Charley Sweater, XS, orig. $78, sale $20
Typical Charley fit as described above.  I was drawn to the bright pink, but didn't think it looked as good on me as it did on Gigi.
Verdict:  No, not in love with it on me
See also on Gigi.

Hope you and your families have a wonderful holiday season!!
Used to holiday-ize our photo :)

Friday, December 20, 2013

SF Eats: Indian Street Food

San Francisco eateries never cease to amaze me.  High quality, diverse offerings, and most importantly, delicious.  We are having so much fun eating our way through the Bay :)

Touting "Indian Street Food", we couldn't help but sample a Chicken Tikka Masala burrito from Curry Up Now's food truck.  As a big fan of proper fusion, and not the sad attempts by certain big chain restaurants, this really hit the spot.  Chicken Tikka Masala is my go-to dish and it was so very tasty in burrito form (convenient too since we walking around at an event).  We kept our eye out for the truck to come back in our area, but it never did.  So we made the trek to their sit-down restaurant in San Mateo.

Deconstructed Samosa -  Chicken, Garbanzo Beans, Pico, Chutneys, & Rice topped w/ Mini Samosas
The mini samosas were deliciously fragrant and added the perfect textural crunch.  Very flavorful and generously portioned dish.

Fried Ravioli w/ Tikka Masala Dip
Was again amazed by how fragrant their components are.  The cheese tasted rich, indulgent, and incredibly creamy.  And really, you just can't go wrong with Tikka Masala dip.  I will note here that their TM dip is more on the tomato-y side rather than the creamy version I've had in other Indian restaurants.

8 Item Thali Platter - Chicken Tikka Masala, Pork Belly, Brown Rice, Parantha, Garbanzo Beans, Papadum, and salad
I thought my dish was big until I saw my husband's.  It was massive, but a perfect fit for his appetite.  The sauce with the Pork Belly was particularly good.

We will definitely be making this trek more often!  If you have any other Fusion recommendations, please do tell!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Working On: Reversible Notched Shell DIY

I picked up some gorgeous heavy knit fabric at Fabrics R Us over the weekend and decided to do a fitted reversible shell.  To add a little visual interest, I decided to notch the neckline.  At the moment, I'm contemplating adding a removable peplum like my map skirt back here or handkerchief peplum dress here.  Thoughts?

Reversible Cobalt - Charcoal Notched Shell DIY

Tutorial to come!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

SF Eats: Lers Ros, Cafe Bunn Mi, & San Tung

After spending an entire weekend of meals with Ping, and not being disappointed with a single one, my husband and I started exploring other restaurants she's mentioned.  Most recently, we hit 3 places: 1.) Lers Ros (Ping's pics here), 2.) Cafe Bunn Mi, and 3.) San Tung.

At Lers Ros, we joined Ping and Karen for a lovely lunch.  Unsurprisingly, the best dishes were the ones they ordered and everything was very flavorful :)
Pad Kra Prow Moo Krob - Stir-fried pork belly with crispy rind and Basil leaves
This was definitely the star of the show!  Despite being served with a sauce, the pork belly rind remained crisp even at very end.

Duck Larb - A chunk of roasted duck mixed with rice powder, chili powder and lime based salad dressing.  The lime and chili combination packed a nice zesty kick - my second favorite dish of the bunch.

Whole Fried Trout w/ Mango Relish
I didn't actually try the relish, but the fish itself was very tasty and didn't really need any accompaniments.

 At Cafe Bunn Mi, we tried their Mojito Lemonade (non-alcoholic and quite refreshing), as well as:
Pork Belly Banh Mi
Like packing a bunch of Chinese siu yook into a yummy toasted bun.  The sandwiches themselves are actually quite large and generously filled. 

Crispy Duck Banh Mi
The Pork Belly version came out first and we eagerly devoured it.  When the Crispy Duck came out, we were already feeling a little full, but the moment we tasted it, we forgot about our full bellies and ate it ravenously too.  I'm not usually a huge fan of duck - save for the duck larb above and this banh mi - but this one is amazing.  Crispy skin with savory and juicy meat.

Finally, we tried the famous chicken wings at San Tung:
Dry Fried Chicken Wings
Again, we were awed (are we easily awed?) that something coated in sauce could remain crisp for the duration of a meal.  A mixture of honey sweetness with garlic and hot peppers.  Try to go for lunch to avoid long lines.  

Big thanks to Ping for sharing her foodie expertise!  Next up, we'd love to try Izakaya Sozai!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Winter Coat DIY Part 2

After 3 weeks of tinkering and taking breaks, I've finally finished my winter coat project (part 1 here)!

Winter Coat DIY w/ quilted faux leather sleeves and pocket flaps

What it looks like on me

Difficulty: Intermediate-ish.  I wouldn't say it's hard, per se, but it is very time-consuming

Time: ~12 hours off and on over a course of 3 weeks

Pattern: Simplicity 2508, adjusted using the recommended petite lengths built into the pattern.  Made smaller patch pockets and added faux leather pocket flaps.

  • 2 yards of gray blizzard fleece from Joann's (Since this was my first real foray into outerwear, I wanted to use a more forgiving, i.e. cheaper material, as a practice run.  For reference, I purchased my fleece on sale for $3 / yd and wool - even the cheaper, itchy stuff - is around $30 / yd.  The benefit to fleece is that it looks wool-esque from a distance.  )  
  • 3/4 yards quilted faux leather from Fabrix
  • 6 toggle buttons from Joann's

Overall, I'm pretty happy with how this turned out.  I will be experimenting more before tackling using a wool or wool blend.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Easy J. Crew Inspired Jeweled Sweatshirt Tutorial

Jewels, jewels, everywhere.  I especially love the combination with a comfortable sweatshirt for a cozy yet luxe feel.  Inspired by the beautiful details on J. Crew Factory's Jeweled Raglan Sweatshirt (here, $98), I wanted to try making my own after finding this Target striped sweatshirt (here, $12).

Jeweled Raglan Sweatshirt DIY

Difficulty: Easy

Time: ~2 hours + let glue dry overnight if gluing only
           additional ~2 hours to reinforce with thread

  • Existing sweatshirt (raglan sleeves work well if you're going for a similar look)
  • Jewels / Gems / Baubles
    • I used sewable black gems in a variety of sizes (Joann's) and small silver spikes from a previous project (eBay)
    • Note: The prettiest, clearest gems are Swarovski, but those are $$.  If you're going for a cheaper gem (like me), I'd recommend an opaque color so you don't have to worry about "muddy" clarity or surface scratches.
  • Fabric glue
  • Optional: fusible interfacing for added stability.  My sweatshirt is very thin and I was afraid the added gems would make the material droop, so I added a rectangle of interfacing on the underside of the sleeve seams on the front.
  • Optional: needle and matching thread.  I didn't want to take the chance of any gems falling off so reinforced with stitching by hand.
    • I would recommend against invisible nylon thread if you plan on wearing the top without a camisole as the thread ends tend to feel plastic-like and irritate skin.

  1. If your sweatshirt material is thin, consider using the optional interfacing.  Simply cut interfacing in the size and shape of your general design.  Turn your sweatshirt inside out and iron the interfacing (nubby fusible side towards the sweatshirt) in your design area.
  2. Lay out gems in your desired configuration.  Use the seaming to help orient the gems symmetrically.
  3. One by one, add a small dab of glue to each gem and glue in place.  If you misalign one, simply pull it off and re-glue.
  4. Allow glue to dry overnight.
  5. Optionally, reinforce with hand stitching after glue has dried.

Detailed look

Finished Jeweled Sweatshirt DIY

Happy DIYing!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

DIYs in Progress: Winter Coat (cont'd) and Jeweled Sweatshirt

With the holidays, I've been a little slow on sewing and DIYs lately, but here are a couple that are getting close to completion:

Winter Coat DIY - *almost* complete
As expected, this is the most complex and time-consuming project I've tackled.  Just needs buttons and buttonholes!

DIY Jeweled Sweatshirt
To avoid crowds, I did most of my Black Friday shopping online, but did venture to Target once things calmed down to pick up some DVDs for the kids.  While there, I found this cute Merona sweatshirt for only $12 (40% off apparel in stores on Black Friday) and decided I would try to create my own version of J. Crew Factory's Jeweled Raglan Sweatshirt (pinned here).  I've glued down the gems for now and plan to reinforce it with some stitching.

Strawberry Kit Kat bars, Cookies 'n' Cream Kit Kat bars, Panda Pocky, and Matcha Pocky
(from Genki Crepes, Inner Richmond area)
On a side note, I found some new Asian goodies today in the city.  Of all the Kit Kat flavors, I think I like Green Tea or original best, but I will never tire of trying all of the varieties :)

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

50% Off J. Crew Factory - Fitting Room Reviews

My manager looked around at the sparse group of people in the office today and announced we were all to take a half day off.  To celebrate, I went to the outlet mall to check out the early Black Friday sales :)

Girls' Factory Intarsia Bow Sweater, sz 14, $32, here
Since they didn't have the Women's navy version of this sweater, I picked up the Girls' instead.  Sometimes Girls' tops are boxy or too short, but this one actually fits like a Women's XXS.  A good option at a lower price point.
Verdict: Came close to buying this, but ultimately didn't feel like I really loved it

Intarsia Big Bow Sweater, XS, $44, here
You can see the Women's XS has longer sleeves and a slightly longer / roomier torso.
Verdict: No for me

Collared Peplum Top, sz 0, $20 on clearance in store, here
Cute concept and great price in store.  The peplum is low-profile with just the slightest hint of a flare.  For that reason (and my rectangular torso), I don't think it looks very flattering on me.  Would work better for other body types. 
Verdict: No, not flattering

Printed Bow Neck Top, sz 0, $38, here
Very cute!  I loved the retail version last year.  This one seems to run a little big in the chest and torso.  I'd recommend sizing down.  
Verdict: No.  Material is primarily synthetic (I think the tag said ~90%).  For that reason, I think the price is still a bit high even after 50% off.

Black Watch Plaid Blazer, sz 00, here
This particular blazer seems to fit like retail Schoolboy size 0.  There are many people who look fantastic in plaid blazers, but unfortunately I look comical in it. 
Verdict: No.  Just can't pull it off.

Placed Lace Tee, XXS, $20 on clearance in store, here 
(the lace pattern on this seems different than pictured online so this may be a different tee?)
This is a very cute tee and it fits well throughout, but the material is insanely thin.

It is so thin that you can see the blazer tag right through it. 
Verdict: No, thin material means I have wear a cami underneath and I'd prefer not to in a form-fitting tee

Merino Charley Sweater, Burgundy, XXS, ~$30, here
This color is so gorgeous in person and I very nearly purchased this, but felt like XS would give me more breathing room to mask a big lunch (important for me).  Unfortunately, they only had XL and XXS in store.  It looks like you can order all the sizes online, but it's backordered until January.
Verdict: No, need to size up

See Gigi's IRL pic guide here for more reviews.

I didn't wind up buying anything for myself, but did purchase some items for my husband and son.  I wonder if they'll have any additional promotion for Black Friday in stores?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mom's Kitchen: Baked Pork Chop Rice

My Mother is amazing and among her many talents, she is also a fantastic cook.  I learned to sew from her and now I'm hoping to expand my skills in the cooking arena.  Perhaps you'd be interested in joining me in this journey as well? :)

Baked Pork Chop Rice

Prep Time: 30 minutes + marinate overnight

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Due to the number of pictures, please see rest of the recipe after the jump.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Japanese Fusion: Sushirritos and More

We were in Chinatown for a haircut and Yelped for nearby restaurants.  Though we were planning on staying in Chinatown for some (duh) Chinese food, I saw a listing for Sushirrito close by in the Financial District.  Intrigued by the name and the concept of a Japanese / Latin flavor scheme, we checked it out.

Geisha's Kiss - Yellowfin Tuna (Hand-Line Caught), Tamago, Piquillo Peppers, Yuzu Tobiko, Lotus Chips, Namasu Cucumber, Butter Lettuce, Avocado, Green Onions Sesame White Soya
The most Yelped about menu item didn't disappoint.  I'm not usually a huge fan of tamago, but thought this married nicely with all of the other components.  The tuna was fresh and the proportion of rice was perfect.

Lava Nachos - Brown Rice Chips topped with Tuna Picante, Melted Pepper Jack Cheese, Avocado, Green Onions, Nori Strips Sriracha Aioli
The spectacular thing about this dish?  Even at the end of the meal, the chips never got soggy.  True to its name, the nachos had a nice kick to it that you could cool down with their avocado.  Very large portion of tuna!

Porkivore - Oven Roasted Pork Belly, Shaved Cabbage, Avocado, Cilantro, Green Onions, Red Radish Mustard Seed Mayo
My husband's pick reminded me of Chinese roasted pork (the crispy skin one - siu yook).  The flavors were good - especially the crunch of the cabbage - but I prefer fish to pork in my "sushi."

All in all, I'm glad we took a detour to give this a try.  I'm always up for novel combinations of food.  A bonus?  This place was very eco-friendly.  Almost every item was recyclable or compostable.

And I know I've talked about Gochi before, but I have better photos this time :)  This is easily one of my favorite restaurants in the Bay Area:
Sake Oyako Meshi Clay Pot Rice - grilled salmon and salmon roe
One of my favorite dishes ever.

Post mixing - you can see those delightful crispy rice bits

Mentaiko Pizza - spicy cod roe, snow crab, mushrooms & bacon
Thanks Emily for the recommendation!  This was SO good!  The crust was perfectly crisp with a good topping ratio and yummy savoriness.  The whole family enjoyed it - even our picky 4-year old  :)

Hope everyone has a great week!  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sewing: Winter Coat Project Part 1

I've played around with a couple of jackets here and here - both relatively simple in construction - and am now venturing into a more complex type of coat.  For this initial foray, I am experimenting with quilted faux leather and heather gray fleece.  At the moment, this is still a work in progress.  The edges are still raw, I haven't affixed the closures, and I haven't decided on what kind of pockets I want.  I initially thought leather patch pockets, but am wondering if that is too much contrast.  Maybe fleece patch pocket with a leather flap?  Decisions…  If you have any thoughts on the pockets, I'd love to hear!

Winter Coat DIY w/ Faux Leather Accents

Thursday, November 14, 2013

LA: Food Whirlwind

I know I've mentioned this repeatedly, but I LOVE living in the Bay Area.  Not only do I get to enjoy SF, but we also get to pop down to LA on random weekends.  On this trip, we enjoyed:

Pretty Desserts at Bottega Louie - Earl Grey Macarons and Chocolate Soufflé
A ridiculously beautiful and open setting filled with the most gorgeous desserts.  We didn't have the time or stomach room to sample more, but will definitely be exploring this more thoroughly on our next visit.  I did pick up a bag of gourmet marshmallows in a variety of flavors to take home and they were heavenly!

Souper Shabu - Suki Yaki (brown one above), Kombu, and Miso bases w/ Angus Snow Beef, Fish Filet, and a Veggie Plate
Ping has awakened a constant craving for shabu in us so we were thrilled when we could take the whole family to experience it too.  Souper Shabu offers an astonishing amount of soup bases (15!) and loads of fresh veggies.  My favorite broth was the Suki Yaki - super flavorful.

Ink Sack - Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookie, Jose Andres, and Cold Fried Chicken Sandwiches
I have always wanted to try a Top Chef eatery and we were in the area of Michael Voltaggio's Ink Sack.  It did not disappoint.  The Cold Fried Chicken was our favorite, but everything used what seemed like the finest / freshest ingredients in flavor combinations we hadn't experienced before.

And of course, we never pass up a photo booth at a party…
The jacket I'm wearing is from H&M (66-0959 in Sz 4 - a new favorite) that I got for $15.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...