Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Easy Refashion DIY Tutorial: Dress --> Separates

When my t-shirt dress shrank from slightly above the knee to slightly below my butt, I groaned at my laundering (in)capabilities.  Too long to be a shirt, too short to be a dress, I decided to chop it in half to create a tee for me and a skirt for E - whee! Sorry for cheesy rhyming, but I couldn't resist.  Our current bedtime story rotation consists of Dr. Seuss books.

Dress --> Tee + Toddler Skirt
Difficulty: Easy

Time: ~1 hr


  • Existing dress
  • Elastic for waistband
  • Optional - serger, twin needle

What I did:
1.) Try on your dress and mark how long you'd like your shirt to be.  Add on ~1" to allow for hemming.

2.) Cut your dress at your desired length (marked in Step 1).

3.) Skirt - We'll start with the elastic waistband.  To join your elastic ends together, I typically sew and backstitch 2 rows of zigzags.

 4.) If you have a serger,  go ahead and serge your elastic band to the waist of your skirt.  This prevents your elastic band from flipping around in the casing.

ALTERNATIVELY, for regular sewing machines, fold the waist over the elastic band to create a casing and stitch along the bottom.  To prevent elastic flipping, you can stitch / backstitch / stitch with matching thread along the side seams to hold it in place.  I usually go 3 forward, 3 back, and 3 forward to secure.  Go ahead and skip to Step 8.

5.) Fold the elastic waist over into the skirt interior.  Add a few pins to keep it in place.

 6.) Sew along the bottom to anchor and hide your elastic.

7.) Finished skirt:

8.) For the top, all you have to do is hem it!  I folded the hem inwards and then used a twin needle and navy blue thread to sew along the navy stripe.

9.) Iron the seams of both garments and you're finished!

P.S.  Today is the last day to enter the $1000 gift card giveaway from Vaseline Spray and Go Moisturizer.  All you have to do is leave a comment on the review post here.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Brocade Peplum Top DIY & Skirt Donation Pt. 2

I made this top a couple of months ago with ambitions of hand-beading it a la this dress on Pinterest, but then started to feel a bit lazy and started wearing it sans beading.  Fail, maybe someday...

Brocade Top DIY
J. Crew Inspired Pleated Skirt DIY (tutorial here)

Brocade details

Skirt Donation Part 2
It took me longer than I thought (Pt. 1 here), but I finally finished the skirts I had planned for Skirting the Issue (sorry IG peeps for re-posting here) and found a local foster closet (Agape Villages if you're in Nor Cal) for the donation.  If you would like to get involved, please check the list provided by Simple Simon & Co in the link above or your local charities.  If you don't sew, I know mine is also accepting school supply donations for the upcoming school year.
Don't worry, I ironed before dropping them off :)

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Snacks and Sweets in SF

HK-Style Desserts:
Thanks to an email from SF-based reader, Christine (thank you!!!!), I found my new favorite dessert place - Mango Medley.  Some might remember the (ahem) enthusiasm I had for desserts when we were vacationing in Hong Kong.  So you can imagine my excitement when we got around to checking this place out:

Mango Medley Delight (mango slices, coconut jelly, pomelo bits, Asian pear) w/ Buttermilk Panna Cotta

Mango Bliss (mango chunks, ice cream, coconut sauce) w/ Buttermilk Panna Cotta

Mango Cream Pillows w/ Coconut Ice Cream
You can customize these with your choice of ice cream flavor - taro, coconut, green tea, mango, or of course, vanilla.

Banana Cream Pillows w/ Coconut Ice Cream

White Chocolate HK Style Milk Tea
I'm a huge fan of Hong Kong style milk tea and really didn't think that anything could improve upon it.  I was wrong.  Add a dash of chocolate flavoring and it elevates the drink to a new level.

Everything at Mango Medley was incredibly fresh and you can tell they make everything to order with great care.

Bubble (Boba) Tea
My husband got me hooked on Milk Tea in college and I've been a bit of a fanatic about it ever since.  My favorites (aside from HK style) are the traditional Taiwanese milk tea (there's just an incredible depth of flavor - would recommend Sinbala in LA), Rose teas, and "Tiger" Milk Tea (a mixture of black milk tea & Thai tea at Quickly).  For toppings, I love honey boba, coconut jelly, pineapple jelly, and egg pudding.

On Irving Street, you can find several tea shops that offer a boba buffet where you can DIY your own concoction:

Tea Way

My favorites in the Bay area: black milk tea from Wonderful Foods Co, iced milks from Purple Kow (half-sweet), the "Tiger" milk tea mentioned above from Quickly, and rose tea from Tea Era (edit - this is actually in Mountain View - thanks for the heads up, Freecia!).

As with anything else, SF has some amazing bakeries.  My favorites so far:
  • House of Silvanas (Filipino macaron-esque treats in Daly City) originally in this post.
  • Sheng Kee's Pineapple Raisin Buns (Irving Street)
  • Golden Gate Bakery's Egg Tarts (Chinatown) originally in this post.
Savory Snacks:
Here's another HK favorite of mine - faux fin soup.  Typically found in street stalls, the "fin" is made from noodles and the soup also contains shredded chicken, mushrooms, and sesame oil.  You can add a little red vinegar to give it some tang.  In SF, you can try it at Eggettes (can also order Regular, Chocolate or Honeydew flavored eggettes):
(Faux) "Fin Soup" - Eggettes

And a recent discovery of mine - fried fish skins:
Fried Fish Skins w/ Fish Broth (for dipping) - Soho Cafe (Dublin)

If you have any recommendations, please send them my way.  I love exploring good eats!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Racerback Maxi Dress DIY

The last maxi dress of my maxi sewing obsession.  This one features twisted straps in the front and a racerback.

Material:  Stretchy knit from Michael Levine, 2 yards

Difficulty: Easy, all serger construction

Time: ~3 hours

Pattern: Bodice front from Simplicity 3503 view C, drafted bodice back by using a racer back bra as a template and then matched up the strap placement with bodice front, self-drafted skirt (just a rectangle)

Racerback Maxi Dress DIY

Twisted Strap Detail

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

LA: Travel, Eat, and Repeat

Growing up in typical Chinese-immigrant fashion, I spent all day, everyday in my parents' Chinese restaurant.  Every (seriously, every) time we traveled in North America, the first stop was always Chinatown / Chinatown facsimile followed by an elaborate, multi-course Chinese meal.  I used to wonder (and whine) why they felt the need to have MORE Chinese food when they lived and breathed it at home.

Fast-forward to college.  Being plied with food at all angles back at home, going to college and having to feed myself was a novel concept resulting in rapidly losing 13 lbs while others were gaining their freshman 15.  That was when I realized how good I had it at home and how much I missed Asian food.  So, minus the restaurant, my husband and I became my parents.  Every destination is an excuse to try more food.  And though we stray from Chinese to other Asian cuisines (haha, the apple doesn't fall that far from the tree), we always visit whatever China / Japan / Korea town facsimile nearby.

I know, that's a lot of words to say, "this is what we ate in LA.  It was primarily Asian in nature.":

Newport Tan Cang
Chinese-style seafood, 2.5 hour wait, uber popular with the locals.  We wound up ordering while waiting and our dinner was served within 10 minutes of getting seated.
Salt & Pepper Crab

Newport Special Lobster 

Clams in Spicy Sauce

Our family feast also consisted of Beef Loc Lac, Steamed Whole Fish, Salt & Pepper Shrimp, Seafood Soup, Kung Pao Chicken (surprisingly good for such a common dish) and kid-friendly Fried Rice :)

We didn't get this guy, but the crabs in the tank were larger than my children.

If you would stretch the crab from claw to claw, he would dwarf my daughter.

Hakata Ramen Shin-Sen-Gumi:
We didn't have time to eat a full meal here so we all got 1/2 orders of ramen.  It was the best broth I've ever had in my life.  Forget those wimpy broths that taste of bouillon cubes and water, this broth was the real deal.  As in patiently-stewed-and-simmered to get ALL the porky flavor you can handle.  If you want broth with depth, look no further.  If you want to learn more about ramen broth, I found this wonderfully informative blog post
I wish looks alone could convey it's deliciousness.

Have you ever started a meal where the first bite is amazing and each subsequent bite pales in comparison to the first?  This was out of this world from beginning to end.

Sushi Gen:
Originally reviewed here for their $15 Sashimi lunch, we went back for a Chirashi dinner.  Insanely fresh as always.

Yi Mei:
Yummy Taiwanese breakfast on our way home
Beef Sandwich - flavorfully marinated

Pork Belly Sandwich

Savory Rice Roll

Xiao Long Bao, nicely thin skin and decent amount of broth, 10 for only $5.50!

Scallion Pancake

My dining observations between SF and LA?  SF is fantastic for dim sum, cha chaan teng (Hong Kong cafe) eats, and general Chinese food / bakeries / desserts.  LA shines for ramen, sushi, Taiwanese eats / milk tea, and fusion cuisines.  If you have a recommendations for either area, please share!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mommy & Me Striped Maxi DIYs

I'm having a bit of a maxi moment.  They are sooo comfortable that I've sewn 3 back to back.  I made a shorter version (so she doesn't trip) for my 22-month old daughter, E.  We had fun taking pictures together under the direction of my 4-year old son, V :)

Machines: Regular sewing machine w/ twin needle for gathering and serger for all other construction.

Materials: 2 yards of jersey for me, about 1/2 for E

Difficulty: Easy

Dress Pattern: Modified and lined bodice from McCall's M5893, self-drafted skirt


The kids love taking their father's iPad

Her hair is long enough to be braided now!

Striped Maxi DIY

I took a Twitter / Instagram poll on vertical vs. horizontal stripes for the bodice and was surprised to see  that the opinions were equally divided.  I ultimately went for vertical since it was different.  Thank you to everyone who weighed in!

Interested in entering an easy giveaway?  Check out this post for a chance to win a $1000 gift card via Vaseline® Spray & Go Moisturizer!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bright Paisley Dress DIY & Skirt Donation

I'm a rather predictable person.  Stick me in a fabric store and I automatically gravitate towards nautical / classical prints like stripes, paisleys, and florals.  Similarly, you can expect that I will overuse my favorite McCall's M5972 bodice and self-draft a skirt with some kind of pleated detail.  For this dress, I decided to tone down the bold print a little with a narrower silhouette than my typical fit-and-flare.  Using three box pleats in the center, I was able straighten the hip flare while still masking my ever-present mommy pouch (flat tummy mommies - please share your secrets!).  I added cap sleeves to make it a tiny bit more demure for the office.

Fabric: Joann's, 2 yards, home decor, 54", 100% polyester.  Sooo, technically, this is outdoor fabric and I wouldn't really recommend it for apparel purposes because it is quite stiff.  However, I  really loved the print and noted that it was washable, so figured it'd be ok for my purposes.

Pattern: McCall's M5972 bodice w/ narrowed frame (using this method), cap sleeves (using this tutorial), and self-drafted skirt 

Difficulty: Easy / Intermediate

Time: ~3.5 hrs

Bright Paisley Dress DIY
Talbots Sandals (good eye, Gigi!)
F21 Necklace & J. Crew bracelet (not that you can really see them)

Box Pleat Detail

To those who sew out there, I saw this tweet from Tailor Made Blog and thought it would be great to share and drum up some sewing for those in need (focus is on girls in foster care):
I will be whipping up some skirts this weekend!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Easy Shift Dress DIY Tutorial

As mentioned before, I really love the ease of a shift dress.  The fact that it's a relatively simple sewing project is a plus!  To make your own, please check out the steps after the jump (it's rather picture-heavy).

Nautical Shift Dress DIY

Difficulty: Easy

Time: ~2 hours

Pattern:  Make your own from an existing shift dress!

  • Fabric (I used 100% cotton - I think from Joann's, 60" wide, 2 yards) - your best fabric types will have a little bit of drape like a soft cotton, knit, or silky.  Stiffer fabrics will have more of a tent-like shape.
  • Existing shift dress - it's best to match the sleeve length of your existing dress to your desired end result.  Sleeveless, full sleeve, cap sleeve, etc.  This will make a difference in your armscye (armhole) shape.  I did not do this and thus had to tweak my armscye - more on that later.
  • Bias tape (optional)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

SF Exploration: Hakka Cuisine & Bike Tour

Nestled in what primarily looks like a residential area is my new favorite SF eatery - Hakka Restaurant.  Hakka people predominantly live in the southern parts of China (many in Guangdong where my grandparents grew up), and as such, the food is Chinese-style with Hakka / Cantonese leanings.

You can order items a la carte or in a family-style set dinner.  I would highly recommend the set dinners.  You can substitute in the Egg Yolk Crab below for a nominal charge (under $10 - I want to say it was ~$5?, originally $35) and get a bevy of other eats (dishes include stir-fried fish fillets, stuffed tofu, veggies, house special chicken, Peking pork, soup of the day, and fresh fruit for dessert = $~70).

The star of the show is the crab.  Have you ever eaten Chinese salted egg?  They dip the crab in the yolk and bake it.  The result?  Sweet, tender crab meat mixed with an almost buttery, savory flavor.  Words (especially mine) don't do it justice.  It was divine.

Try to visit at an odd time to avoid the long lines!

Egg Yolk Crab - SO delicious!

Stuffed Tofu

Stir-fried Fish Fillets

House Special Chicken w/ Ginger Scallion Oil

Bike Tour
We took the "heart of the city" tour (~9 miles over the course of 3 hrs - very doable!) with Streets of San Francisco hitting Golden Gate Park, Haight-Ashbury, the Mission, and the 7 Sisters (one is the house shown in the opening credits of my favorite childhood TV show, Full House).  I semi-expected a moving tour of the city with some half-hearted pointing and saying "here is X and here is Y," but was surprised at how in depth the tour really was.  We learned so many interesting tidbits of SF history - how the city was built upon sand dunes, the many fires, the painted ladies/Victorians, etc.  Our tour guide was genuinely enthusiastic about the history so that it never sounded like a boring lecture.  A fun way to see the city and exercise off all the yummy food :)
Street Art

Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park

Us posing goofily in front of the 7 Sisters

Next on the list?  I can sometimes be a bit of a sushi purist and would love to find a place that serves uber fresh, no-frills sashimi.  A place like Sushi Gen in LA would be PERFECT!  I would also love to do something adventurous like tandem hang gliding or an aerial arts class.  What's on your list?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Review: Vaseline® Spray & Go Moisturizer

9/10/13 - The winner is Tina R - congratulations!!  Thanks to everyone for your entries!

Our life is constantly in a state of organized chaos and being "halfway there."  The house is clean, but incredibly cluttered (one of the kids' toys is always underfoot).  The laundry is washed and folded, but more often resides in laundry baskets than closets or drawers.  I used to be fastidiously neat.  Our house was almost always "guest ready" and everything was in its place.  My hair was always straightened of kinks instead of pulled up into a ponytail, sunscreen was religiously applied to my face, and a full arsenal of beauty products stood at the ready for my daily regimen.  I still have my arsenal, but they sit there gathering dust, unused.  There are so many things I have to do, it's easy to forget the things that would be nice to do.

It goes without saying that nothing gets my attention quicker than something designed to make a task go faster.  When I heard about Vaseline® Spray & Go Moisturizer Total Moisture, I was intrigued and delighted to give it a try.

Easy application process:

How it compares to traditional lotions:

This product was sent for me to use and review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

To find out more information, just visit their Facebook page!

Now on to the sweepstakes!  For a chance to win a $1,000 SpaFinder gift card, leave a comment based on the question below:
How would Vaseline Spray & Go Moisturizer Total Moisture max your morning?   
Each comment will automatically be entered for chance to win! Entries will be pooled from participating blogs and one winner chosen.
Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner  will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 7/1/13 - 7/31/13.
Be sure to visit the Vaseline® Spray & Go page on where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!


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