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.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sewing 101: Self-drafted vs. Commercial Patterns

I personally approach patterns 2 ways: 1.) draft my own based on existing garments 2.) use commercial patterns.  Here are my personal views of when to use each if you are newer to sewing.

Drafting based on existing garments
  • Use for simple silhouettes like sleeveless blouse-y tops, shift dresses, OR freehand draft skirts based on rectangles (1, 2, 3)
  • Pros:
    • Nicely mimics the fit of something you are familiar with
    • Free
  • Cons:
    • Not always suitable for more complicated garments
Commercial Patterns
  • Use for complex garments like long-sleeved tops, darted bodices, intricate seaming, non-pajama type pants
  • Pros
    • Are essentially packaged tutorials with clear directions on construction, helpful tips, and patterns in multiple variations.  For example, one pattern will contain sizes 6 through 14.  This is fantastic for people (ahem, me) who have different sized tops than bottoms. 
    • The larger pattern companies like McCall's, Simplicity, and Butterick are often on sale at your local fabric store for ~$1
    • Want to go designer?  Vogue offers big name designs from famous names like Michael Kors, Donna Karan, Rebecca Taylor, and Badgley Mischka.  These are typically more expensive (~$5 on sale), but still a great way to tackle more complicated / innovative designs at home.
  • Cons
    • Despite providing measurements for fit, variations in individual bodies mean these still require adjustments and alterations.  For example, I have a narrower frame than average and need to adjust my patterns this way.
    • Basic garment types are easy to find, but you can't always find an exact match for what you're picturing.  In this case, I piece together several patterns or draft part of my own.
Basic Commercial Pattern (McCall's M5972) for a Bodice
Blue arrows indicate dart placements
Red boxes for details like measurements and where to lengthen or shorten

Examples of patterns from

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

LA: Fabric Steals & Taiwanese Food

Excited to revisit LA's Fashion District, home of fabric stores galore, I headed straight to Michael Levine's Loft store.  It was closed when I visited last time and I really wanted to see what kind of selection they had.  Fabric there is sold for $2.50 per pound.  I wound up with 14 yards of fabric at about 9 lbs, costing me a little over $24 after taxes.  This nets out to be $1.70 per yard which is a STEAL.  My bargain fabrics are around $3-$5 a yard and the majority of my fabrics cost $10 / yard.

The selection consisted primarily of knits in solid colors.  The staff was very friendly and the fabric bolts were neatly arranged by color.  They also had remnant bins of different types of prints / leathers / buttons / etc.

14 yards of fabric = 9 lbs = $24 (after taxes), Michael Levine's Loft
I purchased some cream sateen, striped / cobalt / magenta jersey, and a ruffled knit fabric to dress up little E.

I wanted to further explore the neighboring stores, but many close around 5:30 PM and it was starting to get a little dark.  Till next time!

On to the food!  SinBala is one of our favorite places to get Taiwan style milk tea, but we had never tried their food.
Sausage w/ Rice Plate
I've had Chinese sausage (lap cheong) before, but this was different and very tasty.  The skin seemed thinner, the filling lighter, and the general taste reminded me of Chinese roasted pork (cha siew).  I actually prefer this to cha siew because I get the same wallop of flavor without dealing with the inevitable chunks of fat / tendon / etc.  We wound up buying a package of their sausage to take home with us and will be buying more on our next trip.

Taiwan Style Milk Tea
There is an incredible depth of tea flavor in Taiwan style milk tea that gives it a hint of an almost coffee taste.  I don't know what it is or what kind of tea they use, but every time I have it, I recognize it instantly.  Can anyone shed some light on this or am I crazy?

Popcorn Chicken
Granted, popcorn chicken is hardly an adventurous choice, but this was highly recommended on Yelp and I wanted to see what it was all about.  I have to say that this was done very well and seemed like it was freshly prepared rather than frozen.  A very thin layer of batter coated the chicken (maybe just dredged in seasoned flour?) to give it the perfect crisp.

Have a great week!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Homemade Halloween Pt. 2: Costumes for the Family

Continued from this post, I did wind up finishing character heads for the adults.  To make it faster, I glued the face pieces onto the fleece and then left the edges raw.  If I make costumes again next year, I think I'll glue the embellishments on and sew the foundational pieces.

A family of Yo Gabba Gabba-inspired characters
(Husband's photo is deliberately omitted here since I'm pretty sure he'd kill me for posting it publicly)

Foofa and Muno
Poor E's Foofa hood kept sliding until it slid completely off.  Awfully comical though :)

For all who celebrate, I hope you had a fantastic Halloween!


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