Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Car Talk- Say it ain't so boys!

I have a thing about weekend radio shows on NPR- maybe it's because I never get to listen to them live because I work Saturdays or it's leftover from childhood and I feel nostalgic. My parents listened to these programs (probably still do!) and I can remember them playing in the background as we ate our breakfast on Saturday mornings. So imagine my dismay when I heard that one of those shows is about to go kaput (or at least no longer be new episodes)! Shock, horror, trembly chin!!

This brings me to today's topic: Car Talk. And more specifically the retirement of Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers (brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi). When I heard this I sniffled and wiped away a tear (after I closed my dropped jaw)- they were a staple of my childhood and once the podcast was released in 2007, a staple of my adulthood too. Who would have thought a radio program about cars and car repair would be so very entertaining?! But it's fantastic- did I mention the brothers are funny- not a show goes by that I don't chuckle or even guffaw out loud! What's even better is these guys are MIT graduates- I love how seriously unexpected that is!

CAR TALK. Ray and Tom Magliozzi at their finest 

So while the show will go on in "repurposed" repeats there will be no more originals- though I guess after 35 years (25 of which as regulars on the national level of NPR broadcasting) they deserve to retire and rest on their laurels. In their own words, "...thank you for giving us far more of your time than we ever deserved. We love you. And know that starting this fall, for the first time, we’ll be able to sit at home, laughing at Car Talk along with you guys on Saturday mornings." -Ray Magliozzi. (Love it!!)

So I wish them a fond farewell and will cherish every episode until October when they do their final sign off of "Don't drive like my brother. "... "And don't drive like my brother."

sniffle, gulp, sigh... it's an end of an era!!

**All I've got to say is, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! you'd better hang in there or I might just have a breakdown!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Nesting Isn't Just For Birds

When I was in Jr. High/High School I had a bunch of pen pals from foreign countries- some of whom I'm still in contact with (big shout out to Julie Partington and Catherine Laing!)  One of my pen pals, Elena was from Russia, and and I don't mean the generic catch all "Russia" I mean Russia proper. I had to learn to write her name and address in Cyrillic (which was actually way fun!) and load those envelopes with stamps galore! She coveted American Levi's jeans and I coveted traditional Russian matryoshka or nesting dolls. So... we traded! :)

The day that box arrived was glorious! I sent off some Levi's from Mervyns and in return I got a piece of history and culture!

Elena sent me what's called the Semenov Matryoshka after the town in which they originated.
I've looked after those dolls for many years, sometimes taking them down off of their shelf and just taking a moment to uncap each doll to find the secret hiding within! There is just something so special and awe inspiring about a handcrafted piece of art! Knowing these dolls are steeped in history makes them just that much more special! The colors are traditional (red, yellow and green), the way the flowers are painted on the apron are specific (asymmetrical and off to the right) and the dress of the maiden- the sarafan- a celebration of the peasant "little matron".  Whew, history nerd alert!!

Fast forward MANY years and once again my eyes light up.... for what should I see?- a super fun interpretation of those nesting dolls just waiting to be strategically and lovingly placed in my house!!

Enter Thomaspaul, purveyor of all things whimsical of the pillow variety!

I just love them! I can't help but smile each time I walk passed my own bed! So thank you Elena, wherever you are, for starting me on my little love affair with the humble Matryoshka doll!!

my next Thomaspaul obsession?!

I would redecorate my whole house just to make this pillow work!! Too bad that this adorableness comes at such a high price....sigh.....
Oh dirigible, why did you go out of fashion?

Victorian dirigibles in all their glory.

 But I digress... that's a whole 'nother post folks.....

Friday, July 20, 2012

Romantic Crown Braid- Tutorial

Romantic Crown Braid Tutorial- a collaboration with SLOmygosh

So those of you that follow my blog posts will be familiar with the name SLOmygosh, as I am constantly referencing this fantastic blog in my posts! Coral, the brains behind the blog is an amazing photographer so when she had the insanely awesome idea of doing a collaboration I jumped at the chance! (I couldn't pass up the chance to work with her as a photographer but also it was just a great opportunity to finally meet her and hang out for a little bit!)

We took a little time to get it together, coordinate schedules (I mean, my model has 3, yes 3 jobs!!) and finally zero in on a location. I'm tremendously grateful that Coral found an alternate location to my original idea of a somewhat dirty, yet easily accessible alley! Whew, that could have been interesting!

So a gigantic thank you to Ambiance for allowing us to take over their upstairs and create some romantic hair heaven amongst their gorgeous home decor! And another equally gigantic thank you to Coral, who's pretty much my favorite person right now!

Without further ado...
Let's create some braided goodness people!

What you'll need:

A comb
bobby pins
2 clear elastic bands
some sort of styling product such as pomade or paste if your hair is short or heavily layered

Andi before. :)

 Comb the hair and part it on the side. You choose how deep you want the side part to go. 

Create a diagonal part  using a comb, ending the part just below the ear on the opposite side.

Begin an inverse braid. This is an upside down french braid. Taking the hair under instead of over allows the braid to "stand up" on the head. If this is too difficult, do a traditional french braid in it's place. 

Taking hair only from the crown to incorporate into the braid continue the braid all the way down.

 Secure braid with a clear elastic band.

Do the same thing on the opposite side.

Once braids are finished and secure, gently tug them apart, creating separation and a larger, more imperfect braid. You can be subtle about this or you can go big and really pull the braids apart.

Pull braid around the back of the head just above the nape and secure with bobby pins above the ear.

Take the braid from the opposite side and cross over to the original side, securing with bobby pins as you go. Remember to tuck in the loose ends of the tail of the braid!

Spray with hairspray to keep in place.

 And voila! You're done!
(How cute is Andi?!)
And also I'd be remiss if I didn't extend a major thank you to my model, Andi Modugno- a very busy lady indeed! Thanks Andi!

All photos taken by: Coral Kessler.
Andi's shirt, jean jacket (both Free People) and necklace provided by Ambiance in San Luis Obispo. My bracelets by Heather Gardner were also provided by Ambiance. Butter London nail polish available for purchase at Ambiance.

737 Higuera Street
San Luis Obispo, Ca

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Ambiance on Instagram: Ambianceslo

Saturday, July 14, 2012

My Word! A Half Hour of Amazingness!

My Word!

I love this show. I find myself laughing out loud more often than not even when I don't know what they're talking about. If you're not familiar with it, and let's face it- I'm probably the only nerd out there  who is familiar with it- it's a BBC radio program that first aired in 1956 and ended in 1990. Until recently our local Public Radio station KCBX aired it on Tuesday nights at 6:30 (Where, oh where did it go, KCBX?!). I made sure to tune in every Tuesday that I could, oftentimes sitting in my car in the garage when I got home just to hear the last 10 minutes (the best part!) or inventing a trip to the grocery store so I could listen to it on the way there.  Basically 90% of the time I didn't know what they were talking about, but the banter is just so funny you don't have have to know what they are talking about to laugh!

Basically this is a literary word game for smarty pants who know a lot about a lot! It's depressing to think of how much people used to know about literature, vocabulary and phrases that are so obscure today that I doubt many people beyond English professors would know. A half hour of My Word! was like a funny college lecture with upper crust English accents. For just a little while after listening I would feel a wee bit smarter.

The real reason to sit through the first 20 minutes (which is entertaining in itself) is to get to the last 10 minutes where regular panelists Frank Muir and Denis Norden take literary quotes and create a story and a clever twist on the words of the quote. I also adore Frank Muir's lisp which is insanely charming when mixed with his dignified english accent and when Denis Norden slips into the cockney accent which doesn't sound remotely like his everyday voice you can't help but smile. While I listen to their amiable stories I can't help but wish these charismatic men were my grandfathers.

Here's an excerpt of this treasure of a radio program:

My Word, you're just the cat's meow.

and as an extra special treat..... here's an example of Frank's adorable lisp!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Shoes- Need I Say More?

In a perfect world I would have every pair of shoes that I drool over. This not being a perfect world, I don't. So if anyone wants to gift me a pair of shoes for say, National Hammock Day (July 22) or National Left- Handers Day (August 13) hey- my mom's a lefty, that counts right?!) or even National Marshmallow Toasting Day (August 30)- nothing goes better with s'mores like a new pair of shoes!), have at it!  Here's what I 'm currently drooling over:

I know these look crazy but they are sooo adorable on!!

From JCrew:


The Piece De Resistance!!

The "I would give my right arm for these" shoe:
from Anthropologie:

These would go nicely with a hammock, don't you think?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Terrarium- Part Deux

So I really wanted to re-create the terrarium in Making It Lovely DIY Terrarium post. I knew that I wasn't going to be able to be exact with it, as I didn't know exactly what plants were used, but I wanted to get close. Fortunately Nicole Balch, the lovely lady behind Making It Lovely blog, included a link to the tall glass jar that she used. Unfortunately that tall glass jar is now no longer available, so I can not provide that link, but I can provide you with a link to their other terrarium containers: HERE

Lucky for me, I was able to get that glass container before it was sold out. It arrived in a HUGE box!! The box was so big that when I broke it down to bring to a co-worker who was moving it wouldn't fit anywhere in my car- not the trunk, not the backseat, not even with the sunroof open!

So here's what I've been basically calling the Terrarium Of My Dreams! For a tutorial on terrariums see:  HERE and HERE

Irish Moss, a pink geode, some yellow gemstones, river rock and my secret  surprise: fake flowers. I didn't want to use real ones because I couldn't find any that would work at my local nursery. We'll see how the fake ones work- see if they mold or mildew. fingers crossed!

it gets it's own table!

Because this is a lidded terrarium, it's a little different from the ones I've already done. I'm really hoping that the plants I used do well in the humid environment inside the jar. It's been fascinating watching the condensation form and then clear as the day goes on. I periodically take the lid off and let it air out, per instructions. So far so good! I just love this little mini world!

Update:   Good news my friends!!!!! The tall glass jar from west elm  is back in stock and on sale!!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hula Hoop, Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?

Cue Culture Club.

Imagine Boy George sadly crooning, "Do you really want to hurt me... do you really want to make me cry?" That, my friends is what I hear every time the hula hoop clatters to the ground at my feet!

I was a master hula hooper (is that a word?!) as a child, so naturally I assumed it was like riding a bicycle! Wrong!! So very wrong! Oh and did I mention these new fan-dangled (again, is that a word?!) fancy pants hula hoops are weighted? Yeah...

I owe this new purchase to my friend Brenna, a friend for many years, and then some. She mentioned that she wanted one and I latched on! I'd been thinking about it for a few years, I have a few acquaintances that hoop, but I've been waiting for someone I see on the reg to get one!

Enter Brenna... and lovely lady, I'm not sure whether to hug you or bill you for my Advil!

Who knew such a staple of childhood would be so HARD?!

ahhh... sigh, finally- I got it!!!! And in the words of my dear friend Brenna: "I hooped for ten seconds! I squealed like a little girl." Me too my friend, me too!

I purchased my hoop from Canyon Hoops:

Canyon Hoops

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Make Pie Not War- Interview with Founder and Jewelry Designer, Alana Little

(photos provided by Alana Little)

An Interview with Alana Little, Owner and Brains behind Make Pie Not War

Alana founded MPNW in 2007 (celebrating her 5 year anniversary next month).  She lives in Fresno, California with her husband Cameron, daughter Lucy and dogs Obe and Smeagol. She is the founder, owner and one woman show that is the jewelry business Make Pie Not War!

Alana was kind enough to take the time to answer the list of questions that I sent to her and here's what she had to say:

 How did you learn to make jewelry? Did you take classes or are you self taught? 

Alana: I started making jewelry when I was 10 with my little Indian seed beads and little pewter charms… I was obsessed with African trading beads when I was kid. Ok, I still am. I am currently taking some metalsmithing classes, but most of my techniques are based off of necessity. If I really want to do something, I find a way to do it or wait until I can find a way!

Since having your daughter Lucy, has your jewelry changed at all- or is it just that you have less time for just yourself and your jewelry?

Alana:  Interesting question, I like to say that my life is a gigantic E.R. Who is dying first? That’s who Dr. Alana will tend to first. MPNW has definitely changed in that I have cut the fat. I used to sit around and fart around with pieces and do lunches with fellow designers, but who really wants to talk to a designer when she’s trying to cut her toddler’s sandwich up in little bites and trying to focus on an adult conversation?  Not so glamorous. Lucy has definitely made me better in many ways. In regards to MPNW, she has made me quicker, more efficient and realigned my overall priorities. Less time for lil ol’ me? YES. Do I mind? Sometimes, but wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Is it ever hard to find supplies for your pieces, you use a lot of vintage stuff?  

Alana: YES. It’s the most common question I am asked ALLLLLLL the time. “Where do you get your pieces from?” I’m going to start saying “Mars.”

I feel like your business has exploded (i mean, you have 3,075 likes on FB and 4278 admirers on Etsy!)- were you prepared for this kind of success or did you think you'd just stay small and local to your area? I feel like a lot of people find out about you through word of mouth, so that's got to be exciting! I always feel like personal referrals mean so much more than just standard advertising! 

Alana: I’m not sure I think of MPNW as successful. I guess designers never really feel like that because we’re always imagining ourselves somewhere else and onto the next BIG thing! I am sooooo grateful for really great faithful fans and customers that keep me going. They really are the heroes behind my success. When I hear about a customer buying because a friend recommended me, it really makes me feel like I am doing the right thing with my life. FB, Instagram, Twitter, and Etsy has really allowed my business to blossom internationally in a really tough market and allowed me to do this full time. I don’t ever want to be huge. I really love that I am a wife to Cameron and a mom to Lucy. That’s my first priority and MPNW is my vessel I use to keep me here!

You work out of your home- it is hard to stay focused or are you good at tuning out the world and getting down to business? 

Alana: Oh man, good thing my bff isn’t here to answer… I am the biggest farter-arounder. I think I need that adrenaline time crunch. I normally get anxious, bite my nails off, and then get down to work and rip through the work! I am a night owl and will do what it takes to get it done. I never want to let down my customers. It’s not business for me; MPNW is personal.

 **(Let me just interject my own personal view here: you can absolutely 100% tell that Alana takes pride in what she does and doesn't treat it like a business. As a customer it's one of the things I love! It's always personal services, she's a can-do kind of a gal!!)

I'd like to see you take over the world- what are your ambitions for your company? Do you want to stay a smaller one woman business or do you see yourself growing beyond that? 

Alana: That’s hilarious. Some day I’m definitely taking over the world. I am a natural born entrepreneur. My first enterprise was when I was about 10 and I started, C.S.A.T. (Children Saving America Today) and we collected cans in my parents rich crusty neighborhood so we could cash them in to sponsor a whale. I’m sure my parents wanted to die when they got calls from the neighbors to see if we were struggling for money. Lololololol…. My current ambition is to complete my facelift I am giving MPNW as we celebrate our fifth year. New website, new cards, new art, new booth, new products, better service, new packaging, better social marketing, and more. We really are trying to go outside our comfort zone and offer a better company while still maintaining the funky fresh vintage fun fabulousness! I am a one woman show, but I am producing more now than before I had my babes. I am becoming a jewelry making machine and I love it. (Side note: my joints would like to interject that they are currently in opposition to this new output and are ready to strike.)

Thank you to Alana, @ Make Pie Not War  for a fun and fresh interview and for being my first feature, you're the best!!

Check out some of her amazing work below!! 
(from my collection and also some items from her etsy shop, available for purchase- links provided). 

My Pieces: 
(I think I might actually have enough to warrant calling it a collection!!)
 Links to items for sale provided: please click on the price for the link.
Left to Right: My Favorite Hoops in sterling silver, $40,  Plain Ol' Jane hoops, $29 (mine have an additional turquoise bead) and Rosie Posie rose gold hammered earrings, $37 (featured MANY times in my Outfit of the Day posts), soon to arrive to my earring collection: Far Out Constellation Vacation, featured below in her items from MPNW Etsy shop.  

Mustard is Cam's Delight bracelet, $44
(Alana was kind enough to customize this piece for me, removing the locket so I don't bonk people's foreheads while shampooing at work!)

Bee Mine Forever brass chain, $20
(I cannot stress enough how delicate and teeny tiny this necklace is. It's so precious!)

This piece is no longer available, but it's similar to free as a bird.
This necklace was my very first MPNW purchase!

Big Black Bauble necklace, $30 

This exact piece is no longer available but it's similar to: Free As A Bird

One of a kind piece, and my absolute favorite!!

A Few Pieces Currently on Make Pie Not War's Etsy page:
Links provided: please click "found here" in each caption for the link

Far Out Constellation Vacation red brass earrings, $40. found here

Shoot Me Camera necklace, gold filled or sterling silver, $42 found here

My Granny Left Her Jewels vintage brooch necklace, $72 found here

My Favorite Hoops in Mint, $43 found here

If Cleopatra Worked At Anthropologie, $75 found here
*(photos provided by Alana Little through her Etsy shop. Thank you for your permission!) 

Where to find Make Pie Not War:

(currently under construction)

How to Contact Alana:

She does great custom pieces!! Late Summer/Fall brides, it's not too late to hit her up! :)

an amendment to the original post: got my far out constellation vacation earrings today, it's LOVE

*next up in what I'm calling my "Summer Features": A local bakery whose wares are something you can really get hooked on... stay tuned!