Wednesday, October 29, 2014

COOKING: Pumpkin & Maple Oatmeal

You know when you're hungry in the morning, but also feeling lazy and you don't want to eat something that could also be categorized as a dessert, but you do want something kind of sweet? This pumpkin, almond and maple oatmeal nestles nicely in the center of that Venn diagram. So easy that this is barely a recipe, but also super warm and filling and with some redeeming nutritional qualities. What else can you really hope for before the sun comes up, anyway?

WHAT YOU NEED
Oatmeal  //  Pumpkin  //  Maple Syrup  //  Almonds

HOW TO MAKE IT
Cook your oatmeal in whatever way you want. Mine has instructions for boiling and whatnot, but when I'm in a rush (okay, I always do this) I just pour some steel cut oats in the bowl, add some water and microwave it for about a minute. I don't measure, I don't time - it's all very cavalier. You can just follow the instructions, though, if you can't handle this amount of rebellion.
Oatmeal doesn't photograph well.
Continuing on my renegade path, I drop an unmeasured amount of pumpkin on top of the oatmeal.
I guess canned pumpkin doesn't photograph well, either.
Swirl all that together.

Top with almonds and a drizzle of maple syrup and eat up, breakfast fans!
I love this because it's delicious, which is most important, but I also don't have to put much thought or effort into my meal and still get to eat something that seems vaguely gourmet. Plus, in the 66 seconds of microwave time (I can't be bothered to press two different number buttons), I blend a green smoothie and everything is mouth-ready in, like, three minutes. Seriously.

Unrelated: I bought this Halloween placemat at Target and have since become obsessed with him. I mean it. His name is Ghosty and I can't promise I'll be putting him away after the 31st. So dapper!

What are your favorite pumpkin recipes? What are you eating for breakfast these days? Do you disregard the conventional method instructions too?


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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

DIY: Halloween Wreath Tutorial

I don't think I've ever made a DIY wreath before in my life, but I do have an almost fetish-level interest in holiday decorations. I admire them mostly from afar, at stores and in other people's homes, and stick to minimal seasonal cheer around my own place. The main reason for this is that I tend to focus primarily on how I'll need to store the rarely used decor and visualize myself one day packing it and moving it to a new place. It just seems like so much extra work! 

I did this for SIX YEARS at our last apartment, more regretful with every passing holiday, and when we moved into a new place last winter I promised myself I'd dive into holiday decorating, regardless of how many Christmas ornaments I may or may not have to store in a kitchen cabinet. This is my first holiday decorating at the new place so I jumped right in with a cheerful Halloween wreath. 
Want to make one too? Read on!


WHAT YOU NEED
Round Wreath Form
Black Yarn & White Yarn
Halloween Trinkets {I got these from Michael's}
Scissors
Not Pictured:
Hot Glue Gun, Glue Stick, Scrapbook Paper, Pencil, String, White Paper, Ribbon

HOW TO DO IT
I wanted a black and white striped background, so I opted to wrap yarn around my wreath form. Alternately, you could use felt, fabric or maybe even the leg of some striped tights.
To use both colors, I simply tied the two yarn strings together on the back of the wreath when I was done wrapping each section and continued on with the new color. I just eyeballed the sections. You could also glue them periodically, but I didn't. When you're done wrapping, just tie the end of your yarn to another piece of wrapped yarn in the back {bottom picture}. Make sure to knot it well.
To make the bunting, cut diamond shaped pieces from burlap-print scrapbook paper {A}. Then use a glue stick to glue the shapes to brown scrapbook paper {B} and cut out the shape, leaving a brown paper border all around {C}. Next, just fold the diamond into a triangle and crease the edge {D}.
Next comes the letters! You can obviously write whatever (a simple "BOO" makes for a much easier project, I can say with hindsight). Draw your letters to fit on your bunting {A} and cut them out {B}. Glue to the bunting and finish your other letters {C}.
To make the bunting, open your triangle and place the string against the crease {A} before gluing the triangle and pressing it closed {B}. Continue to string all the letters {C}. I made mine in two rows.
Next, start hot gluing your Halloween trinkets and bobbles (glitter heavily recommended) around your wreath. Keeping your glue gun on a paper plate makes things slightly less messy, but I still managed to hot glue my pajama pants to myself, so maybe don't listen to me.
Glue the bunting around the wreath on each side so it hangs across the middle. I also added some glitter ribbon that I had on hand between the stripes.
Then just tie a ribbon loop around the top of the wreath so you can hang it.
Done! Wreath accomplished.

Have you made any DIY Halloween decorations this year? Found any awesome Halloween trinkets at the dollar store? Why is 'bunting' such a funny word?


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Sunday, October 12, 2014

DIY: Halloween Costume Ideas Part 2

I'm back with more DIY Halloween costume ideas - let's just get started!

DIY Frida Kahlo Costume
This costume seems fun to me, not only because of all the bright colors and statement jewelry you could wear, but because few other costumes call for a drawn-on unibrow and mustache on a lady. Rare opportunities should be savored! Frida was the coolest, and dressing like her is SO simple if you have any manner of bright, layer-friendly clothes and bold accessories. Don't forget the braids!
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DIY Watermelon Slice Costume
This project is so painless, it might actually be easier than eating a watermelon slice (no messy hands either!). Find a pink dress, preferably A-line, cut out some green and white felt or fabric trim for the hem, attach with fabric glue and cut/glue black seeds all over the dress. Pair it with green tights or shoes and you're done! If you don't want to ruin (enhance?) the dress permanently, you can always use fabric tape or pins for the pieces instead.
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DIY Paula Abdul & MC Skat Kat Costume
Couples costume! If you're not on the cutting edge of late 80s music videos and somehow don't know this rapping cat, watch the video first. Okay. Throw on a simple black dress, tights and heels with teased hair. Your partner wears a white tank top and sneakers, loose blue pants, suspenders and perhaps drawn on whiskers. MC Skat Kat has his own Wikipedia page, which describes him as a "street philosopher with an alley Kat point of view," if that helps you get into character.
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DIY Jambi from Pee-Wee's Playhouse Costume
If you didn't have a Pee-Wee's Playhouse phase at some point, I'm genuinely sorry to hear that. Within the show there are so many good costume opportunities, but Jambi the Genie is as flashy as they come. Paint your face teal, with black winged eyeliner, gold brows and a ruby red lip. Tie a red scarf on your head and accent with a gold headband and jeweled brooch. For the box, cut and paint a cardboard box and decorate with gems. Wear a black turtleneck to create the illusion that you're a floating head. Throw on a single gold hoop and spend the night granting wishes, you magic maker.
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DIY Paper Doll Costume
I might use this idea myself at some point, and I'd recommend this as a good last minute-ish costume. The idea here is to look like your "clothes" are sitting on top of your body, not that you're wearing them, like a paper doll. Cut out clothing shapes from poster board or foam board and either paint designs or cover them with scrapbook or wrapping paper. Make sure to draw paper 'tabs' around your clothes, which you should outline with a black marker. Attach ribbon to the back of the pieces and hang/attach to yourself. Throw on a doll wig for good measure too.

What kind of other fun Halloween DIY projects are you working on? Are you even dressing up this year? Did you expect to see a Paula Abdul costume here?


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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

DIY: Halloween Costume Ideas Part 1

I'm a fan of Halloween costumes. Super fan, really. I fantasize about having the kind of life which enables me to host multiple costume parties throughout the year so that I can bring all of my DIY costume ideas to fruition, but I'd probably start scraping the bottom of the barrel for party theme ideas and I'm not sure who would attend a summer solstice costume party. Especially so soon after the Flag Day costume gala.

Alas, I have too many ideas that I won't ever put to good use myself, but I know that most people don't want to go to the DIY costume extremes that I usually subject myself to (smart, people!) so I've compiled some costume ideas that are more about assembly than construction. Okay, there's a little felt cutting and gluing...I just can't get away from it! 


Here are some simple ideas that you won't see everyone else wearing at the Halloween party:

DIY Jackie O. Costume
Classic as hell. I once attempted this as a last minute costume, came up short on the outfit and had to ditch the concept. Therefore, it still lingers inside me as unfinished business. Let me live through you! All you need is a tailored looking outfit - anything with clean lines and modern style will work, giant sunglasses, and some smart accessories (DIY pillbox hats are surprisingly simple).
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DIY Mommie Dearest Costume
I saw a tutorial of this costume last year, and loved how simple, yet instantly recognizable and clever it is. The trifecta of DIY costume ideas! All you need is a dark shirtdress or even nice robe, some white face makeup (your "lotion/mask"), white headband, curls, simple makeup and, of course, your wire hanger. (This is the one time wire hangers will be permitted.)
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DIY Gumball Machine Costume
Throw on a red dress or red shirt/pants/skirt/whatever combo with a red beanie. To make the "glass" part, take a clear mixing bowl and fill it with colorful pom poms or actual gumballs, cover the top with cut-to-fit cardboard and tape around edges, attach ribbon straps to the sides of bowl and strap it around your neck and waist so that it sits over your stomach, like a pregnant belly, round side out. Cut out details like a coin slot from colored felt and pin/glue to dress. Chew on that!
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DIY Maria from Guess Who? Costume
Maria is the coolest lady in the Guess Who? board game (of only, uh, five ladies - why was that? So easy to guess!). To dress like her, you need brown shoulder-length hair or a wig, a green beret, some drop pearl earrings and a swipe of coral lipstick. Cut out a hollow blue or red rectangle from foam board to frame your face and add "Maria" in letter stickers below.
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DIY Slush Puppie Costume
Dress as this beloved purveyor of convenience store sugary drinks in a simple blue t-shirt with an "S" cut out of white felt and attached, white leggings, fuzzy white slippers, a blue beanie topped with a pom pom or cotton ball, and a drawn on doggy face. Bonus points for bringing an actual Slush Puppie, too. For the record, I take it with 3 pumps blue and 3 pumps green. Flavor mixer over here!

Check back soon for Part 2 of this series!
{Edit: It's HERE!}


Are you making a DIY Halloween costume this year? What is the best costume you've ever made? Don't you kinda wanna play Guess Who with me now?


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Monday, September 29, 2014

FASHION: Great Moments in Jacket History

Ignoring the fact that I got burned yesterday in some unseasonably extreme sun, it is actually, finally, fall. This is the time for everything great: apples, pumpkins, beverages made with and inspired by apples and pumpkins, Halloween, layered clothing, fairs, crisp breezes, and significantly less boob sweat. Autumn is quintessentially New England; it's the prize for enduring long, snowy winters (except it shows up six months later - pretty rude, no?). A major player in cold weather fashion, the jacket, is more important that you may think. Obviously they keep you from getting chilly on jaunts between heated cars and buildings, but they also signal your fashion attitude to the world. I mean, you wear it over your clothes. That's the article of clothing most people see you in every day for months on end (or less if you're spectacularly lucky in your palm tree wonderland) so it should probably be awesome, or at least very you.

In celebration of this herald of autumn, I give you: Great Moments in Jacket History.

1: Mary Richards in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, 1970
Is there a person on the planet who does not recognize this infamous hat toss? Okay, maybe babies, but most people not only know this image, but also can't help muttering "you're gonna make it after alllllll!" under their breath when seeing it. Just me? This jacket, a tasteful pea coat with metallic buttons, is appropriate for both a lady trying to 'make it on her own' and Minnesota winters. She really can do it all! You know this jacket moment is important because it has its own Wikipedia page and commemorative statue. Most people never even get that.

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2: Adrian in Rocky, 1976
Picture this: a 13-year-old me, a junior high classroom, and a lazy teacher inexplicably forcing us to watch Rocky instead of doing the day's lesson plan. I was torn because any movie day is a good day, but I also didn't really care about Rocky. What I did care about was Adrian's amazing orange and cream jacket that was so deliciously 70s in its faux fur-trimmed glory. Still the #1 thing I remember from this movie. She's no slouch in the hat department, either. Well done, champ.

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3: Denise Huxtable in The Cosby Show, 1984
Denise Huxtable looked good in literally everything. She tried 80s waterfall bangs, wore dad sweatshirts and tied random scraps of fabric around her head and still managed to be the hottest person in the room, even in a family of seven. Impressive. Her denim jacket is so effortlessly cool, and the perfect complement to this autumnally shaded look. Denim can go so wrong, so easily but her general chicness just makes it work. Also, please note that skirt above. True genius.

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4: Carmen Sandiego in Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, 1991
Whether you loved her or loathed her (why was she always hiding from you?!), you must admit one thing: Carmen wore the hell outta that red trench coat. She's a woman who knows what she likes in her look and sticks with it, literally forever. I can give a tip of the ol' giant red hat to that.

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5: Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 1992
I've mentioned this before, but the fashion in the Buffy movie simply blew my second-grade mind. So much so, that I can't even choose one best jacket moment from the film because there are three that stick with me. There's the dreamy butter yellow leather jacket Buffy finds at the mall, the tough black moto jacket she tosses over her girly prom dress (because why not?) and the classic varsity jacket she wears to her first graveyard gig. This is a girl who doesn't let aggressive violence get in the way of accessorizing. Simply, she slays. (Sorry!)

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6: Fran Fine in The Nanny, 1993
Go ahead, laugh. Maybe this furry leopard number is a bit over the top, and maybe you could do without the matching hat, but you can't argue that this character has one of the most memorable wardrobes in 90s sitcoms. I'm often drawn to things other people might refer to as "tacky" so I might be alone in this one, but I do think the 1993 version of you might have totally worn this jacket. Something about matching lapels and cuffs just gets me.

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7: Daria Morgendorffer in Daria, 1997
The 90s poster girl for all young misanthropes, Daria was barely ever seen without her trademark green jacket. Paired with her black pleated skirt and calf-high combat boots, her look was no nonsense and all attitude. I always enjoyed episodes in which she wore different clothing (even once a pink crop top!) but her large-collared jacket was always a welcome return. The best part is that her look lends itself to a very easy Halloween costume!

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8: Lindsay Weir in Freaks and Geeks, 1999
Lindsay was kind of like a real life Daria, or at least she probably would've been excited that I just called her that. She was finding herself and shedding her Mathlete image, facilitated largely by the addition of an oversized green army jacket. I like to imagine her picking it out and thinking, "Yes, this is just what a freak would wear!"

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9: Penny Lane in Almost Famous, 2000
You got me again, faux fur lapel and cuffs. This film was well loved for a number of reasons, not least of which was Penny Lane and her 70s cool girl wardrobe. All you need to know about the aesthetic of this movie can be ascertained from that crochet halter top and the bold mustache peeking in from the bottom right corner of the above image (hi, dude!). This jacket was perfect for the time, the look and the character; I desperately want to pet it.

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10: Britta Perry in Community, 2009
In more recent years, Britta has really picked up the reins in sitcom fashion (just like fellow study group-er Annie) and this girl loves a classic black leather jacket. Her style has that effortlessly cool look, even though she definitely spends significant time perfectly curling her hair like so. Her uniform of fitted pants and casual shirts would be pretty basic, though, if not for her collection of edgy jackets. This is the perfect mix of polished and thrown together - she totally "pulled a Britta" here!

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What are your favorite jacket moments in history? What does your favorite coat or jacket look like? Found any great jackets for fall or winter lately? 
Show and tell me, jacket lovers!


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