Happy Friday + Retro Office Girl in Noir (with a little edge)

Happy Friday! There just aren’t enough hours in the day, especially now that December and Christmas are looming.

Here’s my creation for this week: an incredibly comfortable long sleeve knit dress in my most favorite-est color combination. And a wool houndstooth jacket with edgy faux leather elbow patches.

This is a great dress and wish I had bought more of the fabric because I would so make myself a top with it. It’s a no-frills dress, and I’m proud of the neck detailing in the front and back (see photos at bottom). Knits are not my friend, and I still have a hard time sewing them. The pattern is from this book.

Doesn’t she look like a little retro office girl, especially with the super cool vintage file case I found at the always fun Fremont Sunday Market? She also looks like a Parisienne, do you agree? By now, you know that I adore the color grey, but I am equally passionate about black and white. And I have a slight obsession with scarves. There will be many more scarves in future posts. Here she is stylishly tying the scarf up.

The jacket. I really really wanted to use the faux leather for the elbow patches, though I’m worried about washing it. I had some trouble with the pattern…it’s from my beloved pattern book, but I was not a happy camper with this one. The rounded collar is tricky – and I had to iron the thing to death to get all the puckering out. Next time, I’d like to get the pockets to line up better and try a bright plaid.

And don’t you love the black tights with sparkly gems? Crewcuts, of course. I always get a bunch of tights from the store whenever there’s a sale.

All in all, it wasn’t the most smooth sailing sewing adventure this week, but hey, K loves the outfit and I’m pretty pleased too.

We are ready for December! Bring it on!! I hope you all have a spectacular weekend, and see you on Monday.

Details, details…

Geometric Advent Calendar 2012

Remember my Advent Calendar Round-up and my mission to create one this year? Well, I finally finished it yesterday, just in time for December 1st. It’s simple, minimal, with just enough festive sparkle. I had a blast making this, though next time I make these geometric shapes, I might have to try glue instead of double-sided tape because I had to keep reinforcing them with additional tape and you can still see gaps.

I initially clustered them all together, which looks fantastic. However, I realized that the strings would get tangled up so I tied them to a branch I found in our neighborhood park (I got lots of funny looks when I took the branch into a coffee shop when we stopped for hot cocoa after a romp around the playground). I cleaned the branch thoroughly and like it so much I will keep it up on the wall after the holidays!

Here it is on the branch.

I added little numbers for the day of the month on the teeny tiny circles, and what holiday craft would be complete without stripey baker’s twine? I downloaded the awesome geometric templates from Ruffled, reduced the size to 75% and used text-weight paper in gold, silver and textured white.

As a kid, I remember how fun it was to open up little windows of a cardboard box to get a little piece of chocolate every day, but with so many sweets that are inevitably part of the holiday season, I decided to go for a combination of chocolate, little non-edible treats and activities. The miniscule grey scrolls have written activities like “Trim tree”, “Paint nails with sparkly polish”, “Donate toys”, “Take a family walk to look at the neighborhood Christmas decorations”, and “Stay in pajamas all day and make hot chocolate with the works”. There are twelve in all. Fun.

I discovered that many of the little treats I got were too heavy for the geometric shapes, so I wrapped them up separately and inserted “Toy Basket” tags into the geometric shapes for days when she gets a toy.

Can you tell I got way into making this? LOVE. K is beside herself with excitement and can’t wait till Saturday to open her first one.

I will be back tomorrow afternoon with an outfit. The calendar took a good while to make and I’m a bit behind on my sewing…



I have an art show coming up in January, and I’m sketching out some ideas (the image above and the ones below are watercolor paintings from a previous art show). It’s funny – I don’t really consider myself an artist, though I’ve always loved to make things. I happen to come from a family full of artists and from an early age I was expected to be one. Maybe it’s because of that expectation that I kind of rebelled and went corporate for many, many years (ironic, no?). After so many years convincing myself that I’m not an artist, it feels a little strange to be doing what I’m doing. Though it also feels very right.

At any rate, I’m making art. For a little show. Which is happening so soon and I’ll post more details in a couple of weeks. If you’re in the Seattle area, I hope you’ll be able to stop by!

I’m partial to repeating shapes and want to incorporate them into my new work. I might do something with geometric shapes…

Mini Buckwheat Pancakes

Creatures of habit comprise our little household. Every day, we follow the exact same bedtime routine. Every Saturday, we go to the same cafe for breakfast. Of course, we almost always order the same things. And every Sunday, I make mini pancakes. It is the way of things for us. We adore routine.

I’ve been making these pancakes for years, and along the way I’ve experimented with various recipes and settled onto this one that is pretty much all mine at this point.

They are diminutive and not too sweet. The buckwheat flour lends an earthy, almost nutty flavor (there are no pistachios in the recipe, but I put them there for scale). We usually eat them plain, but sometimes will add maple syrup and butter. Or a smidgen of jam. On special occasions we’ll bust out the whipped cream.

The key, I’ve found is in the half-and-half and milk combination. I’ve tried all sorts of blends of milk, whipped cream, water and buttermilk, and I think I’ve hit upon the exact creamy ratio. These pancakes are fluffy and light, but not too light. So good.

Buckwheat pancakes
yields about 20 mini pancakes that are about 3 inches in diameter

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
5 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 egg
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 cup milk (I use 1%)

1. Combine flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl and whisk together

2. Mix egg into melted butter, then add half-and-half and milk

3. Slowly pour liquid mixture into flour mixture and stir together until just combined. Do not over mix the batter.

4. Melt a little butter in a skillet or on a griddle over medium heat, just for the first batch. Pour little circles of batter and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes per side for the first batch (the buttery batch, as we call it). Subsequent batches will take less time – more like a minute per side.

That’s it! These are usually a big hit with the little ones and I have fed many little ones these pancakes :-).

Happy Monday + Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

Good morning! I hope you had a wonderful weekend – there was much celebrating and relaxing and family fun for us. I’m feeling refreshed (and significantly healthier) and wanted to kick off this week with a cute little outfit I made. The colors made me think of Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle’s “Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?” – the follow-up to the classic “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

She didn’t like the heather grey socks, so we switched socks. Picky, picky…

I had so much fun re-purposing the grey raindrops dress, I started hunting around to see if there was anything else unused that I could transform into a wearable item. Enter my beloved, yet woefully shrunken Madewell polka dot sweatshirt from a few years ago. It was always a little snug, but with every wash, it kept getting scandalously tighter and midriff baring. I chopped a few inches here and there, dug through my stash of zippers, added elastic to the wrist bands, and a few minutes later I had a sweet and comfy knit top for for K. Check it out:

Let’s talk about the über cute hat, shall we? I used the bear hat pattern from the Oliver + S book, which is fantastic. Her instructions and patterns are so well-constructed and clear, it came together in a snap. I made mine with fleece instead of wool and velveteen, and made ties out of the fleece as well instead of using ribbons. The color scheme is almost identical to the version in the book, which is something I rarely do but I really liked the white/blue combo.

And oh, the aqua cords! They are from the same pattern as the grey almost skinnies, though I made these slightly slimmer. I. Love. Them. So bright and happy and the perfect antidote to the thundering rain that we’ve been having. A good way to start the week, I’d say.