Tuesday, April 15, 2014

FASHION: Statement Necklaces

It's always kind of funny to me when I hear that statement necklaces are "in style" because they've never been out of style for me. Ever since I can remember, I've gravitated toward oversized (read: obnoxiously large, garish chest decorations) necklaces because, let's be real, huge necklaces are AWESOME. Add awesome points to that if the necklace also contains blindingly bright gemstones or several tiers of beading. Yeah, I'll take alllll o' that, please. I have a nice stable of go-to giant necklaces, but I always like to fantasize about who I might add to that collection. You can generally find inexpensive statement necklaces at places like Target, H&M, Forever 21 or Claire's, but remember to look in unexpected places too; some of my most compliment-attracting necklaces came from random clearance piles at Sears, Yes, that Sears. They're out there making statements so start listening! 
One //  Two  //  Three  //  Four  //  Five
Six //  Seven  //  Eight  //  Nine  //  Ten
Eleven //  Twelve  //  Thirteen  //  Fourteen  //  Fifteen

Are you into statement necklaces or are you more of a charm-on-a-chain kinda girl? Or maybe you love giant earrings? I just wanna know what you're wearing!


Monday, March 17, 2014

BEAUTY: Spring Flowers Nail Art Tutorial

I know it isn't quite spring yet calendar-wise, and it feels even more distant weather-wise (thanks for that 19 degree morning, winter!), but I can't resist a theme project when one presents itself, which, coincidentally, is also why we're having Sweet Potato Irish Nachos and Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies for dinner and dessert tonight in honor of St. Patrick's Day, despite lacking even an iota of Irish heritage. I will seriously use food coloring in the name of ANY holiday. In a burst of warm weather inspiration I felt like I absolutely needed a flower-centric manicure immediately. I thought maybe if I kept flowers on my hands it would stop snowing for no reason out of nowhere all the time, but I was wrong. 

If you know what I'm talking about, console yourself with this springy nail sitch:

What You Need
Sky Blue Nail Polish {Wet n Wild I Need a Refresh-Mint}
Purple Nail Polish {Wet n Wild On a Trip}
White Nail Polish {Wet n Wild White}
Pink Nail Polish {Sally Hansen Coral Reef}
Yellow Nail Polish {Sally Hansen Mellow Yellow}
Green Nail Polish {Sally Hansen Going Green}
Top Coat {Seche Vite}
Dotting Tools & Paper Reinforcement Stickers

How To Do It
Start with 1-2 coats of the sky blue polish on all nails, except your ring fingers, which should have 1-2 coats of yellow polish.

Use the round tip of a dotting tool to create flower petal shapes on the top half of all the blue nails. These don't have to be perfect (hey, all flowers are different!) and it's easy to draw them by just making tiny dots in a star-shaped cluster.

Use a dotting tool to create a yellow center in all of the flowers. I find it helpful to put a glob of nail polish on a paper plate or paper towel and dip the dotting tool directly into it.

Use a dotting tool to draw straight lines with the green polish from the flowers to the edge of your nail.

Next, paint a green tip on the edge of your blue nails. I used a dotting tool to drag some polish up to make some uneven grass-like realness. 

Okay, we're finally coming back to that poor, lonely ring finger. First, put a paper reinforcement sticker over the top half of your nail [A]. It helps to stick it to skin first to remove some of the stickiness. Paint the bottom half of the nail sky blue [B]. Remove the sticker [C]. Use a tool to paint yellow stripes coming from the yellow semi-circle [D]. Now you have a sun with bright and friendly rays!

Top the whole thang off with a GOOD top coat to seal it all in and keep it glossy. I recommend Seche Vite for nail art because it doesn't drag the colors or muddy up designs, plus it dries in literally less time than it takes to peel an orange or brush your hair. Or more time, if you are extremely talented at either of those tasks. I'm not.

Are you into seasonal nail art? Is it already spring-like where you live? Do you know that makes everyone else furious with you?!


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

DIY: How to Make Your Own Curtains

If you'd like to try making your own curtains, but fear it sounds too difficult, I'll let you in on a little secret that the charlatans of the curtain industry (we'll call them "Big Curtain") do not want you to know: making your own curtains is WAY easy. It's just sewing some straight lines!

Big Curtain would have you believe that curtain making is so arduous and advanced that you should just fork over hundreds of your hard-earned dollars, while they laugh all the way to the bank, comforted by the knowledge that you'll never learn their slimy secret. Okay, maybe they're, like, really nice people who just want to spruce up your living room and give your grandmother's kitchen that certain charm that only apple-and-gingham-printed curtains can give. Either way, you do NOT need to pay for their wares!
A Curtain Executive (totally a thing) right before he makes it rain with your money!
If you have the ability to sew a straight line (either on a machine or by hand) and do some simple fabric folding and very basic measuring, you can make your own curtains. Just take it one step at a time and you'll see how simple it really is!

Plus, have you seen curtain prices lately/ever? Ummm, are they serious? Since recently moving, we've needed a lot of home-related items, which I've either made myself or found for great deals (it's what I do!), but curtains are just not budget friendly, even at the cheaper stores, like Home Goods and Target. And selection - either I'm absurdly picky or every curtain for sale everywhere is ugly (okay, maybe it's the former), but DIY curtains allow you to pick any fabric, colors and designs you want and save a bunch of money. I got this fabric at Joann's for around $12. Take that, Big Curtain!

There are obviously many ways to do anything, but this is the simple way I make presentable curtains and how you can do it too.

What You Need:
Fabric {enough to cover the width of your window and the length you desire}
Measuring Tape
Sewing Pins
Sewing Machine or Needle & Thread

How To Make It:
Start by cutting your fabric to the desired size. My window is 65 inches wide so I opted for two panels that were each 36 inches wide so they would fully cover the window when closed, with a little fabric left over to give that scrunchy curtain look (not to be confused with the scrunchie look, which is not an acceptable window treatment or hair accessory).

I also wanted the panels to be 60 inches in length so I cut two even pieces to my desired dimensions with extra all around for seam allowance.

Next, carefully pin the side hems of your panel(s). I folded over each edge 1 inch and then folded it over again 1 inch and pinned in place to create a finished looking edge. This is kind of like my "How to Hem Your Own Pants" tutorial, except instead of pants we're doing curtains, so feel free to refer to your curtains as "window pants" from here forward.

Then, just sew up the side hems that you just pinned. 

Next comes the top edge. Again, I folded over the edge 1 inch and pinned it in place.

Then I folded over the top edge 4 inches and pinned in place. This gives the curtain panel a loop for the curtain rod to go through so make sure to create enough space for whatever size rod you're using. The reason I first pinned down that 1 inch edge in the last step was to create a finished looking seam instead of showing the raw edge. That is just vulgar.

Sew the seam up to create your hangin' loop.

Here's an inside view of the loop we created:

Now for the big finish! Create a clean hem on the bottom edge by folding over the edge 1 inch and then folding it over again 1 inch. Pin in place, making sure that both panels are the same length before sewing.
Lay the panels on top of one another to make sure the bottom edges line up. No crooked curtains, kids!
Mount the curtains and admire your handy skills and expert money-saving techniques.

I dig this fabric because it's opaque enough for privacy, but still lets light shine through.
I also made some curtains for our bedroom from this incredibly loud, outlandishly 70s floral fabric. It's just obnoxious enough to satisfy me, while still maintaining some semblance of "sophistication." Quotes are needed around that word because I just bet my definition is way different (i.e. looser) than yours!

Would you ever try making your own curtains? Are you handy around the house? What's your biggest home DIY victory or horror story? I simply must know!


Monday, February 24, 2014

FASHION: OOTD Blue Studded Vest

I'm baaaaack! Sorry for the unintended break around here - I've been busy looking for a place to live and moving unexpectedly (long, horrible story), but we're finally settled in and I'm finally ready to get back to some normal habits, like this here blog. Lucky you, right?!

Just to dip my toe back into the Neon Rattail universe, here's a simple Outfit of the Day post taken a couple months back and lost in the twists and turns of my hard drive before being unearthed during a recent marathon organizational session.
I snatched up this vest from the Dots clearance rack last summer, where it was hanging all alone with its measly $5 price tag. Yes, $5. I'd almost purchased it previously at full price because, while I can do a lot of things successfully, resisting bright blues and moto-style clothing are usually not among them. I originally passed on it because I thought it was slightly overpriced for what it is (I'm sure it's made of, like, plastic and old paint chips or something), but at five bucks I was ready to play ball. Plus, I had a bunch of studs laying around (ebay is the best for bags of cheap studs!) that I used to quickly upgrade this vest.

Vintage Paisley, Revlon Lipstick, Skeptical Face
Outfit Details
Blue Studded Vest: Dots {with some DIY studs added by me}
T-Shirt: Old Navy
Jeans: Marshall's
Head Scarf: Vintage {thrifted}
Necklace: Forever 21
Ring: Dots

What have you been up to in my absence, babes? Have you ever done any DIY studding? How much do you LOVE clearance racks at already-cheap stores?


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

COOKING: Cranberry Rosemary Mustard

Not to toot my own horn (which is the polite thing to say before doing so), but I happen to be quite a condiment connoisseur. I know - brag, brag, brag. I've just always been much more interested in what is ON my food rather than the food itself. I have literally placed a food order by requesting "a lot of sweet and sour sauce - like, more than you think a human could eat" on the side, which, incidentally, resulted in TWO measly containers of my beloved nectar, but that is not the point. The point is that I love a good accent flavor, even elderly-style flavors like piccalilli and other pepper relishes. I have an opinion on pepper relishes! See? Told you I was a condiment connoisseur!

Despite my passion, I've made very few DIY condiments, so I wanted to do so before I rightfully claim my place on top of the sauce throne. There is a sauce throne, right? Don't tell me I've been training for nothing!

4 TBS Mustard Seeds
3 TBS Dried Cranberries
1 TBS Fresh Rosemary
Large Splash of Apple Cider Vinegar

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl.

Add just enough apple cider vinegar to cover the dry ingredients by about a 1/4 inch.

Cover the bowl and put that bad boy in the refrigerator for a few days. 
Use the downtime to go on with your non-mustard-related business.

On day 2, a lot of the liquid had been absorbed by the mustard seeds.

I would say 3-5 days of soaking is good. This is what it looked like on day 5:

After you've soaked 'til you can't soak no more, dump the whole thing in a food processor and blend for several minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides of the bowl or just take a break from panicking that your neighbors are angry with you for making such a loud noise.

The noise of my food processor scared the hell out of this adorable squirrel who was on a branch near my window. He was frozen in fear until he started chewing on the tree instead. He later found a small stick and ran away gleefully with it in his mouth. I took this as a 'halfway there, champ'-style pep talk.

When it seems done blending (meaning there are few or no whole mustard seeds left), you're done!

I popped mine in a mason jar and it filled it about halfway. My ingredients are based on the small jar of mustard seeds available in most grocery stores, but you could scale up {4 Parts Mustard Seed, 3 Parts Cranberries, 1 Part Rosemary} to meet your needs.

This mustard has a bit of a kick to it, which I enjoy (again, connoisseur) but might be a lot for some people. It tastes great on sandwiches and pretzels, of both the snack size and soft variety.

Would you ever make your own condiments? Are you more of a plain yellow mustard type? Will you share your best ketchup, BBQ or hot sauce recipes with me?


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