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!


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