Monday, February 28, 2011

Weekend Wear

Dress: This one, reconstructed Kathie Lee vintage, $2.50
Shoes: Thrifted, the perfect heel height for me, $4.00
Headband: Silver chain necklace re-purposed, free dollars
Approximate total: $6.50

Dress: Thrifted Banana Republic ruffled shirt-dress, $2.00
Lace Skirt:Thrifted and so ready to wear ALL THE TIME, $2.00
Belt: Vintage leather braid, with brown, red, and teal. $.25
Tights: Clearance rack, $3.50
Boots: The Boots That Started It All, thrifted from Artifacts in Iowa City when I was 20, $8.00-ish
Approximate Total: $16.00
Sorry this is so blurry! I didn't realize at the time...
Dress: This velvet dress from here, with new fringe on the neckline, $.88
Belt: Vintage, free from Thrift Mart 
Earring: Upcycled single heart chain
Tights: Two pair (clearance rack purple and Betsy Johnson), total $6.50
Boots: The Justins, thrifted $4.38
Approximate Total: $12.00
Shirt: Vintage men's collared shirt, screen-printing ink stain and two missing buttons (oh well!), $1.00
Belt: Thrifted fancy brand, $.75
Jeans: Target clearance rack, $5.00
Shoes: Not pictured, black Keds, $2.00
Approximate Total: $8.75

Friday, February 25, 2011

Taking Back the Nice

To start the weekend off, I thought I'd give a small salute to the Nice People of the world. The word "nice" has gotten a bad reputation, often used in lieu of "okay," "boring," "bland," or "I don't really have anything else positive to say about it." TAKE BACK THE NICE! Nice is downright spectacular.
Cliche dictionary definition: Nice: adjective, nic·er, nic·est. 1.pleasing; agreeable; delightful. 2.amiably pleasant; kind. 3.characterized by, showing, or requiring great accuracy, precision, skill, tact, care, or delicacy. 4.showing or indicating very small differences; minutely accurate, as instruments. 6.having or showing delicate, accurate perception: a nice sense of color. 7.refined in manners, language, etc. 8.virtuous; respectable; decorous. 9.suitable or proper. 10.carefully neat in dress, habits, etc.
I've always been a staunch advocate of niceties, raised to believe every person (and animal) should be treated well and to make someone sad or uncomfortable is certainly the "ickiest" of feelings. No, nice guys don't finish last. When you are a decent person, reciprocation is practically inevitable. I've received overwhelming kindness from both loved ones and strangers these past few days, and I'm basking in the light of NICENESS.

I could write a whole thesis, "On Being Nice." I won't. So humor me. Here are a couple relevant links, an ode to being nice:

Be sure the watch the video above, found on youtube via Vaclav.

"I did not say what I wanted to say: “I think you’re really great because you give me hope that people will be nice to my daughter later on, and so this is a completely platonic thing and it’s O.K.!”"

"We were able to throw this prom for VERY little money. We can thank that to craftiness and friendliness. Being nice to people is cool to do and occasionally has its financial pay-offs. After being loyal patrons to our karaoke master, Mike at Crowne Karaoke, he volunteered to run the music at our prom for FREE! His newest karaoke venue, Gatherings, offered up their beautiful restaurant/rental space for payment merely in smiles. We returned the favor by cleaning up their space afterward and putting out tip jars for everyone."

Outfit, Friday:
Cardigan: Vintage, from Revival in Iowa City, $7.00
Top: Thrifted, $2.00
Belt: Vintage $.25
Jeans: Clearance rack at Target, $5.00
Shoes: Thrifted jazz-style work shoes, $4.00
Approximate Total: $18.25

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Check-List Therapy

Things are weird around here right now. 

The sewing machine decided to protest, my living situation has been jeopardized (due to circumstances out of my control), a big move might come sooner than expected, and I'm feeling unsettled. This unease has crept on me in the past, and I haven't always handled it correctly. Now is the time I prove to myself that positivity and a good dose of smile-therapy can help me forge ahead. No, really. I forced myself to do some smiling on my drive home from a rough day of work, and I felt better immediately. Endorphins are magic! 


So my output of anything valuable will be little today. Without my sewing machine, I sadly won't complete the Vest Project on time, and the only other craft projects I've produced must stay top secret until a certain lady celebrates her birthday.

Instead of substance, look at me looking ridiculous and what I looked like while looking ridiculous:
The glare is from my winter-neglected bike, not-so-subtly reminding me that it exists.
Top: Thrifted beauty, complete with gold studs on the print, as well as its sleeves. $1.50
Bottoms: Discount black faux acid-wash leggings, bought for lazy days, $5.00
Shoes: Work-filthy saddle shoes, $18.00
Approximate Total: $24.50 (yikes!)
Tuesday, I chose to lift my mood with check-marks on my to-do list. Consider these exciting things accomplished: dishes washed and put away, apartment tidied up, cat litter dealt-with, boyfriend nagged, dreaded e-mails drafted, healthy asparagus and organic chicken breast dinner prepared and consumed. Maybe I'm boring, but my sanity remains!

Dress: Favorite grunge-era floral dress with modern details: bright floral, pockets, pleated top, and a tulip shape. Thrifted for $2.50.
Sweater: Men's Docker's brand cardigan, bought for an ex-boyfriend but serendipitously rejected, $.50
Tights: Clearance rack at Target, with a hole already on their first day out, $3.50
Shoes: Cherished Justin's, $4.50
Hair: Finally long enough to do this! There's a hard-to-see purple bow, for old-timey-Brooke's sake.
Approximate Total:  $11.00

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hair Dids for Frees

Until about a year ago, I hadn't paid for a haircut in almost three years. Buddy Mona is responsible for most of these short-short 'dos, all done in the backyard of our old place, The Pink Barn. The back porch cuts were always impressive and highly, highly complimented by the public. Eventually I invested in a razor comb of my own and began doing my own hair surgery, for better or worse.

Recently we have befriended a very talented young stylist, Kelsey Smart, who works at the funkiest shop around, The Fix. I've gotten two cuts from her, and a fun dye for her portfolio shoot. While I am still a little too stingy to get frequent, professional hair cuts, she is kind enough to give us all a very, very nice buddy discount. Fancy cuts for not-fancy prices? OKAY! Bonus, her cuts are done well enough that it grows in so beautifully, the compliments on my hair still roll in 6 months after the appointment! Still, much to Kelsey's chagrin, I'm doing all of my own maintenance, most often bang trims.
Kelsey would definitely like me to make two things very clear, and I would definitely like to cover my own ass:
1. My current cut is Kelsey's doing, but the bangs are my own. I repeat, Kelsey is not responsible for how my bangs look!
2. Kelsey does free bang trims so you can avoid doing your own in-between snipping. I am just lazy and spontaneous with my trims.
bottom line: be adventurous! be brave! buy a razor comb ($5.00) instead of scissors. recruit a friend or do it yourself! Watch a stylist to learn their tricks, or ask for advice on how to maintain your look at home. Remember, it's only grows back!

Weekend Roundup

The week-end, in photos:
Part of the BREAD NIGHT spread. Eating bread while listening to Bread. In the dinner & music party queue: Spoon, Cream, and the Platters. Any more suggestions?
More bread, situated below my favorite painting of Vaclav's, The Party. He brought WWII bread and some absolutely amazing Bullet bourbon. I can't bake, so I made a goat cheese and caramelized onion/balsamic spread, as well as an olive, garlic, and caper organic compound butter.
About 1/3 of the Bread Night attendees. We had cozy couch chatty times, drew all over the chalk board (which naturally turned hilariously uncouth), and took turns going into bread comas.
Following Bread Night we played a couple of parlor games at another location. And this happened.
Jake's cat spend a solid five minutes doing this, totally still. Literally five minutes. And "literally" in its proper usage here, babies.
We saw CEDAR RAPIDS, the movie. Seen in Cedar Rapids, the town. The movie was cute, but frankly it could have easily been set in any mid-sized Midwestern city. The shots of Cedar Rapids were hilarious (a park and swing set superimposed across the river from Quaker Oats, for example), and there was the occasional reference that only Cedar Rapidians would get. Overall, it was funny and sweet, but it will have much less bearing on our city than Fargo did on theirs.
    Saturday night outfit
    Shirt: Gifted that day by Carissa. The shirt reads, "Night Burglar" in a script font. Who doesn't love 'coons!?
    Sweater: A million years old, and hand-embellished on a whim years ago, $5.00
    Necklaces: Weasel pendant from Carissa, flower in resin from my Great Aunt Marlene's estate, vintage guilded talon, $.50
    Pants: Not pictured, bright green jeans, $8.00
    Shoes: Not pictured, purple lace-ups from Tom's shoes, Christmas gift.
    Approximate total: $13.50

    Saturday, February 19, 2011

    Communal Sewing Project, The Beginning

    Hey, you! Remember Ramona's idea for a communal sewing project? Well, I haven't forgotten about it, and I hope you haven't either.

    Today, I chose the sweater vest I'll be altering. I'm embarrassed to admit, this is just one of many in my collection...and one of many I don't ever really wear. They always seem like a good idea, but every time I slip one on, it fits not-quite-right or the waist band hits in the wrong spot. This project should be just what I need to finally make use of these silly little numbers.
    What do you suppose I should do to it?

    Surfin' the Positivity Wave

    Friday night was a treat! Large portions of good times and major positivity! Jake, Carissa, and I three-way dated to Iowa City to see Koo Koo Kanga Roo perform the all-ages show at Gabe's.

    These two fellas are so much fun, just oozing with a zest for life and every person and thing in it. Koo Koo Kanga Roo promotes bein' nice, havin' fun, being silly, and feeling great. We participated in a ninja vs pirate dance-off, played with an old-school parachute elementary P.E. style, and did a lot of call and response. If you know me, you know I love group activities and TOGETHERNESS, WHOA. Minneapolis needs to watch out, because I may kidnap them and keep them for all positivity, all the time.
    Carissa, myself, Jake, and Bryan (of the 'Roo) posing for the band's webcam. They bring their computer to all of their shows and encourage all of their new friends to take photos. Bryan gifted us each mustaches on a stick--handmade by them.
    The headband I'm wearing was hand-braided by Leslie Hall using spandex scraps. You can get your own here.
    Free friendship bracelet making station as part of their merch station. "MAKE ONE! And give it to someone you have NEVER met before! THOSE ARE THE RULES!"
    Gabe's has two pinball machines I've never seen before. Wheel of Fortune and Big Buck Hunter. The Wheel of Fortune is a beautiful rave of a machine, but the Big Buck table was terrifying, frankly.
    Friday's work outfit
    Top: Reconstructed by myself, an old stained tee embellished with that funky stuff from a thrifted top, $3.00-ish
    Skirt: Thrifted, $1.75
    Earrings: Rusty La Rue (by pretty lady Emily, can be found at White Rabbit), $7.50
    Shoes: Grungy work Keds, gifted by boo
    Approximate Total: $15.25

    Thursday, February 17, 2011

    Little Black Dress, $2.50 Reconstruction

     Lately there seems to be a resurgence of dresses with the mesh "illusion style" necklines and backs. Have you noticed this? Maybe you haven't. Here are a couple of celebrities to make it seem like I know what I'm talking about:
    That girl from Glee wearing David Lerner. Source.
    Another pretty celebrity wearing the same dress. Source.
    A couple places to get your own, for a pretty penny:
    ABS Dress, $174,
    I don't have any pretty pennies, so instead I used this frumpy $2.50 Kathie Lee Collection dress:

    And turned it into this (click for larger views):

    If anyone ever wanted to invite me to a cocktail party, I'm ready now (I'm free Friday, nudge nudge).

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

    Loyal Service for 24 Hours

    Hanging out with my coat. Recognize this jumper from yesterday's thrift haul?
    Shirt: Vintage cat blouse, a Christmas gift
    Jumper: Thrifted, $5.38
    Scarf: Covered in horses running free tied into a bow, also a Christmas gift
    Shoes: Target via Salvation Army, $4.00
    Approximate Total: $9.38

    I wore this jumper to work, where I spent the entire day wrangling the kind of customers that "want a coffee drink that doesn't taste like coffee." For whatever reason, these people always choose to come en masse. Weary from the 5 hours of coffee education, I slumped into my couch when I got home and promptly broke one of the buttons off the back. I guess the jumper was worn out too. Thanks for the 24 hours of loyal service, now off to the "fix pile" you go...

    Cats n Bows, My M.O.

    Not trying to be artsy or deep here, I am just this bad at staging photos.
    Lace Dress: Vintage, $2.00
    Slip: Thrifted, $2.00
    Socks: Target, $2.00
    Oxford Shoes: Target, by way of Salvation Army, $3.50
    Necklace: Made by Carissa, with extra touches by Jake and myself
    Approximate Total: $9.50
    Necklace made by Luxe Debris. Key, snake, feather, and bird charms. I added the bird charm after the key fell off and I put it in a "safe place" not to be found for months. Typical. I'm reminded of loved ones when I fasten it around my neck, and wear it when I want to feel professional (yes) without losing my spirit.
     For whatever reason, I chose today to be the day I wore something dreamy and romantic. Mostly, I took advantage of being scheduled the non-barista/less messy shift and wore light colors. I was called a fairy princess and asked if I had a magic wand. I'd call that a win!
    Ridiculous photo of my co-worker Erin and I, the dual sides of your conscience.
     After my shift, I made a bee-line for one of the area's Goodwills and bought too many dresses. Six dresses, a giant box covered in cartoon cats, and a bow for my wall. $23.00. This is definitely a splurge for me, but some days you find dresses too good to say "no" to, despite being $5.38 each.

     Dresses to alter, my attempts at "before" shots:

    Left: Black velvet with sweetheart neckline and sheer neck and sleeves. Needs to be shortened and fitted. Center: Black velvet short dress, will be fitted and embellished. This only cost 88cents. Right: Sleeveless ruffled party dress, has major fit issues and a very awkward skirt length to be fixed.

    To wear as-is, assured to be much cuter on an actual person than the mannequin:
    The dress on the left will be reserved for times I need to look nice and somewhat reserved. I'm not sure who would be inviting me to such an event, as most people know better, but it's nice to be prepared. The jumper on the right (actually labeled "JUMPER" on the tag) is perfect for the days I choose to dress like a small child from the 1940's. Those days come often.

    Dress #6, a candidate for heavy-rotation.
    This very sturdy box is large enough to fit me inside with the lid closed, and is covered entirely in these cat illustrations. Big enough for my fabric collection, and cute enough to be decorative. Function and form in a happy, committed relationship. The bow wall-hanging will make some lucky wall in my apartment feel oh-so-fancy.

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    Wassup, B?

    Wishful dressing works! The past two days have been over 40 degrees here, and the forecast is due to slowly creep up to 60 by Thursday. Iowa can be brutal, but waiting will inevitably bring you the occasional unseasonal weather. Here I am acting foolish and not wearing a coat in the 35-degree weather:
    Enjoying the fact that there is ground space not wet, icy, or snow-covered.
    Outfit seemingly inspired by Carissa.
    Dress: My favorite and most-complimented dress. So comfortable. Vintage, $5.00
    Cardigan: Handed down by my mom after an accidental shrink in the dryer, free
    Belt: Thrifted, $.25
    Earring: Upcycled from old jewelry, seen here, free
    Socks: Target, $1.75
    Shoes: Thrifted work (read:filthy) Keds, bought by my boo, free
    Sunglasses: Douche-y, but it was legitimately bright. Vintage, purchased at Thrift Mart (my favorite day of the year!), $.25
    Approximate Total: $7.25

    Rather than gather at one of our usual drinking establishments, we (the crew) collectively decided to leave the success/raucousness of Friday's PROM! be and enjoy a quiet Saturday and Sunday. I spent my Saturday afternoon working with housemate Brandon, who was miserably stuffed up. I offered him some natural tips for relief. Witness:
    Ingredients: a quarter tablespoon of "wasabi" paste and a whole lotta gumption.
    Results: Major discomfort, but about 30 minutes of intense and immediate relief.
     Saturday evening, Jake and I had our Lincoln's-Birthday-Not-Valentine's-Day Date. If you ever want to take me out on the best! date! ever!*, I recommend you follow suit: Super burgers and cheeseballs at the Starlite Room, an hour of pinball at the local dive bowling alley, at least an hour in the store in quest for the perfect snacks, and way too much candy while watching way too much Party Down in our jammies. Swoon.
    A handsome fellow posing in front of the Local Bowler's Hall of Fame. I'm a little concerned about Mr. Bottom Left.
     Can I just brag for a moment and say I earned 22 million points in JUST ONE TURN, and replay was 31 million on the Sopranos pinball game? Sure, I blew it and basically scratched my final two turns...but still! I grew up with a machine in my home and was raised by my dad to be a pinball wizard, touring the area for the best machines. It's one of many fun things my dad and I would do on "father/daughter days," my favorite days.

    Do you know of any pinball machines open for public play in the Cedar Rapids area? Hit me up! They're tough to find these days. I'd love to make a database/locator!

    *Just kidding, I am kinda-sorta-totally life partners with that guy up there. But I will gladly accept those activities under the (metaphorical) blanket of friendship!

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    Prom Outfit Rundown

    Photos courtesy of Liz, found here.
    My prom dress was a reconstructed version of a dress Carissa gifted me for the occasion. I'm terrible about doing "befores" to pair with the "afters," but the dress originally looked like a sky blue version of this:
     To alter the dress, I cut off the long skirt, fitted the bodice, removed the sleeves, made a scoop-neck, and added a giant bow and bustle from extra fabric. I used elastic and more fabric for the hair bow, and one of the sleeve's cuffs for the corsage band. Of the entire ensemble, the only thing I spent money on specifically for the occasion was the $1.00 bundle of fake grapes for my wrist. All other pieces were already in my home!
    Dress and bow: Reconstructed vintage, FREE
    Tights: Betsey Johnson, $3.00 
    Shoes: Not pictured. Thrifted floral and bow-ed wedges, $12.00 BIG SPENDER
    (pictured above were my packed "comfy pair")
    Bracelet: Rhinestone costume necklace, worn to my actual senior prom!
    Corsage: Bundle of plastic grapes, $1.00
    Approximate Total:  $16.00
    Jake's Outfit
    Shirt: Thrifted, $2.00
    Bow-tie: Thrifted, $.50
    Boutonniere: Clearance craft aisle, $1.00
    Belt: One-hundred-thousand years old, thrifted rhinestone buckle, $.50
    Pants: Thrifted, $3.00
    Shoes: Thrifted Italian snakeskin "pimpin shoes," $5.00
    Approximate Total: $12.00