Monday, July 19, 2010

get some bang for your buck.

BUY INEXPENSIVE FABRIC (and things of the like)!

Last week, after a nice, but sourly-ending visit at my friend's house (sourly because my dog escaped their backyard and proceeded to run rampidly around a neighbor's yard, which had stray cats, 'no trespassing' and 'beware of dog' signs, in the POURING rain), I made a quick stop at 'Affordable Fabrics'. The fabric store where everything, and I mean, EVERYTHING, costs $1.99/yd.

How fantastic is that? Of course finding valuable, quality pieces requires some digging, but it is SO worth it. I bought a LOT for a little. 

All this (it's about 3 yards each) for only $18.00...


I tend to get a little carried away when I'm buying things on the cheap. But last Wednesday, I showed some composure. I was in and out of the store (said dog, soiled and dirty, was waiting for me in the car) in about ten minutes. I kept my eye on the price (did not buy just to buy, like I often do). And I have ideas in mind for each fabric. I have my mother to thank for teaching me the art of bargain shopping at a young age.

So, ever in Uncasville, CT and in need of some interesting, inexpensive fabrics (or ribbons, etc)? visit Affordable Fabrics!!! Make sure to stay composed, though.  

i am the proud maker

...of three CROP TOPS. Made 'em last week. That word, though, is starting to creep me out. 'Crop top'. It could be the fact that the definition includes the word 'midriff', not quite sure.

So, I need a new word before these items are released.

Ideas: cropped blouse, cropped tank, belly shirt (haaa, no), short shirt?

Ehhh, any of you have some wonderful suggestions?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

crop top.

According to Wikipedia,  'A crop top (also cropped top, belly shirt, half shirt, midriff shirt, tummy top, short shirt, and cutoff shirt) is a t-shirt or blouse with the lower portion cut off, resulting in the exposure of some of the wearer's abdomen.'

And, did you know that the style became a men's fad first? Originally based on American football jerseys which were cropped above the navel to make them cooler in hot weather, it became popular to cut T-shirts above the midriff for daily wear. I'm pretty sure my brother sported a few back in the day. 

Very 1980s sounding, no?

Well, they are so back (really!).

I'm loving crop tops these days. And although some girls/women can get away with showing a little 'midriff', I prefer to go the less exposed route (with a tank underneath).

So, in light of my inspirational Nana, I copied a top I bought at TJ Maxx yesterday (and I plan to make a few more today). It was very easy. And I am very proud of myself!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

my best friend's wedding [a short digression from my etsy posts].

Two of my dear friends, Lisa and Dom, got married last weekend. Well, two weekends ago (I guess I had that opening sentence in my mind for a while, and it took me a little longer than a while to write this).

It was phenomenal.

Here's a little history: they grew up together! They lived (just about their whole lives, or as long as I can remember) just 1/8th of a mile away from eachother. ON THE SAME STREET! So cute, right? Well, it gets better. Dom's a musician (and a great guy, of course); he had his own band and I can vividly remember his amazing Pearl Jam solo from our high school talent show, and Lisa is potter, design major and creative soul.

So, when they told me that the wedding was to take place in an empty lot across the street from Dom's childhood home, I instantly knew it would be a success. A blank canvas; it's what I always dreamed of.

It was so (so so so) much more than a success. I found out the day before the wedding that Dom had built an irrigation system out to the bathroom and they had a homemade sink. PHENOMENAL.

[picture to come]

I'll narrate the day properly though (in chronological order, that is).

Around 2pm I arrived to a fabulous cocktail.

(the bridesmaid: prosecco, gingerale and raspberry sorbet)

And then I toured the ceremony site (Lisa's parents' backyard), which was even more fabulous than the Prosecco cocktail that accompanied me (one would hope so, I guess).

Gazebo, along the Charles River marsh, in an impeccably landscaped backyard, with every detail mulled over, VERY CAREFULLY. It was a rustic-chic fairy tale.

Here is a picture from afar, followed by a couple closeups. My favorite (if you dare ask) is the mauve-colored hydrangea hybrid. I'm a sucker for hydrangeas; when eyes caught it paired with the vibrant green bottle, I got a little weak in the knees.

So cool.

And, in case the guests were a bit parched...

Now on to the fun part, though. The reception. It was just a short stroll up the street, from Lisa's, to the said vacant lot across from Dom's house.

They thought of everything. Didn't miss a detail. The reception included it all: homemade wine (picture quality not great, so I won't bore you with the image), fabulous centerpieces...

Complete with favors (mixed herbs in mason jars), wine in an awesome rustic basin AND lighting. Now THAT is a package deal!

...cute signs...

(please disregard the plastic cup that someone so rudely dropped on their way to the john)

...decor around the tent pole (loving the silver pots and the simple flower arrangements) which includes PEONIES (love, sigh)...
and the awesome, awesome, awesome BATHROOM (drum roll, please)...

I love everything about it, especially that rustic basin they used for the sink. And I must admit that I adore animal prints, so the towels easily stole my heart. 

Here's another shot....

I will say it again, PHENOMENAL. PHENOMENAL. 

I think that concludes my narration. It was a fantastic evening. After some good old fashioned dessert...

I crossed the mini bridge (handmade, of course) and left wholly satisfied (and quite impressed)...

Congrats, friends.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

been [too] busy sunbathing.

New rule: two posts per week (if you couldn't tell, I've been bit of a slacker, especially since the weather has been nice).

Three items (to sell, that is) per week.

Maybel and I have been enjoying the sun a bit too much...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

ode to my wonderful nana (and her wonderful sewing machine)

My grandmother was a wonderful woman. Formally named Carmela, she was known to most as Nana, Mom or Nellie (there was also a period, while in kindergarten, that she inconspicuously changed her name to Carol, because of her dislike for the nickname 'Nellie', but that's probably another story, for another time). Not only was she amazingly beautiful, nurturing, fun-spirited and loving, she was a woman of many many talents. She could cook (obviously). She could garden (I guess I didn't get this gene). She could put a smile on your face. AND, she could SEW. I owe her a lot of thank yous (I think we all do). So, thank you Nana. Thank you, first and foremost, for being you. And, thank you for teaching my mom, who later taught me, to cook, garden, and master the art of the sewing machine.

But back to this 'ode'. My grandmother could sew anything. She'd pick out a dress, a pair of slacks, a jumper, you name it, from Filene's (which she pronounced 'Fill-eens'), bring it home, copy it to the TEE, and take it back (cutting the cost by at least half). I have a long way to go, since I can't even thread a bobbin without doing it manually (yes, pathetic, I know), but Nellie is my inspiration and with her on my side, I can conquer the world. She did.

So, last week, I found myself down in her basement, helping my uncle clean out some old stuff. I found a lot of junk, a few little treasures. And one BIG treasure: her 'Dressmaster' (yes, that is the brand) sewing machine. It's not just a sewing machine, like the white, plastic, boxed machines made in today's era. It's a piece of furniture.

(this picture was taken, at its most open position)

And, then I got a bit carried away...

(all folded up, posing as a vanity)

(the ABC's of White Magic Sewing. a booklet including patterns for dress up vestees, if you're ever looking for such a pattern!)

The machine is made of steel. It's heavy. It's beautiful. It is timeless. And it will last forever. My grandmother was made of steel (I mean, she had to have been. the things she could complete, in that little body of hers. she was a force of nature). She was beautiful. And the imprint she left in my heart will last forever.

I am forever inspired.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

sneak peek.

The unveiling time has arrived. For the one piece that I've finished (man, I need to get going here), at least. So, here is a little sneak peek. Not completed just yet. And I know it doesn't look like much, but it took a large orange extension cord (I realized that my sewing room only has one plug. ONE. In the entire room.), a bloody cuticle and a trip to the convenience store (well, a trip for Tom), only to realize that they don't sell bandaids (next time I'll use a thimble), to get this far! So, positive feedback only, please.

With an abundance of this tried-and-true, steal-of-the-century, flea market found- fabric, I was in luck.

Strings still attached. Button not sewn on just yet. But, I think it's a good start. It may not make it into the final cuts for my Etsy store, but, I'm learning each and every day.

Monday, June 7, 2010

and...I'M BACK.

Well, hello there. I am greatly sorry for my two-week hiatus (or longer), but not that you really care (I understand that my dinky little blog isn't really at the top of your to-do lists each day, although it would be really cool if it was). I promise not to leave you for that long again. It's one of those things, like going to the gym, that once you stop, it's very easy to continue stopping. Like, when I stopped writing in my blog, I also took a gym hiatus, and well, I haven't been back since.

So time for blogging and gymming starts up AGAIN, today. I swear.

In light of wedding season, and wearing all different dresses that require all different purses, clutches, etc., today I will be sewing a clutch. A simple clutch, that can be made and remade in all different colors. Because I, for one, have some crazy colored dresses to wear this summer.

See you soon.


your favorite blog-author - Dena

Monday, May 17, 2010

to reverse or not to reverse.

A clutch, that is.

What is the consensus? totally tacky? or brilliant? Is it one of those things that you would buy but then hide from your friends? or would you flaunt it (whatever that 'it' may be, in your case) with pride?

I've been toying with the idea of creating a reversible clutch. Then, I get awful images in my head: fluorescent windbreakers (pink on one side, green on the other), terribly bulky sweatshirts, hideous UMBRO shorts (always white on one side). These images are of my childhood, which took place in the 80s and 90s, and they are NOT pretty. Insert the big hair and puffy painted socks and I want to hide my head in shame for decades of horrendous dress.

So, can it work (in a non-tacky sort of way)? I'm not quite sure, but I think I will take a gander. Check out these reversible rugs at Apartment Therapy - Reversible Rugs: Double Your Decor Options. Pretty cool, eh (I think so too)? They definitely work, right? I like them so much that I may even have to pick one up.

So, take a leap of faith with me, will you?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

day one: organization (baby steps).

Okay, so the challenge is set. The deadline is in place. And now, I need to get organized. What I really mean by this is I need to turn my giant, oversized closet (aka. our spare bedroom) into my creating space.

Step one: get rid of old clothes and take to Goodwill. Check and check.

Step two: de-trash, de-clutter and de-furnish (only the useless furniture, of course). Check, check and CHECK.

Step three: set up SEWING MACHINE. CHECK.

Step four: sit back and adoringly compare the before and after. 


This is a good start, right? I know it looks as baron and uninspiring as a sweatshop, but that won’t last. I plan to visit my mother’s flea market (err, I mean basement) this weekend (remember, I’m on a very TIGHT budget), so before long, the d├ęcor will be plentiful.

Next stop: FABRIC STORE (well, first my mom's pseudo-flea market and THEN to the fabric store I will go). 

Friday, May 14, 2010

operation: starting an etsy shop on a [VERY tight] budget.

You all know that I have quite a bit of time on my hands, right? But, have I told you that I dream of being self-employed? Well, I do (along with half the world, I'm sure). Unrealistic, definitely. Doable? possibly. Does that make sense? not sure.

Well, I'm going to try. My first mission is to create an Etsy shop (my second mission will be to make a *successful* Etsy shop, but one step at a time, ladies and gents). My deadline: September 1st. And, here on my blog, I plan to chronicle my headaches, triumphs, obstacles and victories, in a very Julie Powell-esque-inspired manner. As in, if I could achieve the fame that she did for mastering the art of french cooking in 365 days (laugh, if you will), I will forever be a hero (in my own eyes, anyways).

So, I have 108 days to create a shop on Etsy. My shop will have handmade items: some clothing, accessories (including, but not limited to, earrings, headbands, belts), and handbags. I am a sucker for standout vintage pieces also, so I will include the occasional vintage item (if I find any that I can live without keeping in my own wardrobe, that is). I will have 30 pieces for sale with, at least, 10 items in backstock. So, 40 items in 108 days. If Julie Powell can cook 524 recipes in 365 days, then I can create/find 40 items in 108 days. I am sure of it.

The challenge begins tomorrow, so check back for what I hope to be more triumphs than defeats!

[credits to my big brother for the inspiration]

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

my thumb is black.

It's also what many people refer to as a 'hammer thumb', BUT, that is a another story for a another day.

Black generally signifies death, right? Well, my thumb pretty much does too, when it comes to gardening, anyways. I kill all plants. It is not intentional, though. It's completely inevitable. 

So, this is the year, where my black thumb TURNS GREEN. I have plans, BIG plans for my immense garden. But first, I have done some [much needed] research.

The first of my problems relates to the absurd amount of weeds that have overtaken the flower beds, which once a upon a time (aka. before we lived here!), looked quite beautiful. In light of being eco-friendly and saving my grass-, weed-, flower-eating canine from a terribly upset stomach, these tips will hopefully become my life savers...

4 Eco-Friendly Ways to Kill Weeds

So, what caught my eye about this article? I don't know, but maybe the question, 'If your backyard is beginning to look like a wilderness campground, it may be time to get rid of the weeds.' Yes, I think it is time. And for the record, both my front and backyards are beginning to look like said wilderness campground.

My next problem: CHIVES. I have wild chives growing in my backyard. I can't rake without crying. I can't cut the grass without PUKING (over the awful B.O. stench). Based on my research, these are, apparently, just weeds, so I'm assuming they can be handled the same way as the rest of the weeds. Keep your fingers crossed.

As soon as I can get my problem areas tackled, I can get to the fun part: color (flowers) and herbs and veggies. And the goal here: DO NOT KILL.

Check back for my progress. I'm thinking Friday will be THE DAY THAT I TRANSFORM MY YARD.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

i think i'm in love.

The dog is walked and fed, my coffee is brewing and I have sat down to get my daily dose of Apartment Therapy (well, and to vote for my sister and brother-in-law's beautifully decorated rowhome, in the FINAL FOUR of the small cool contest), and I fell in love.

This is a photo stolen from Apartment Therapy's (from here on out, I'll just refer to it as AT, because it will visit my blog again) house tour on the home of Netherlands stool designer, Ingrid Jansen. See complete house tour here - Ingrid's Wood and Wool Wonderland. Let's just say, I'm in an infatuation phase.

I think it's a three-part love affair, actually. I'm in love with the house, of course. I'm in love with the idea of picturing myself living there (with all the decor, obviously), and I'm in love with the fact that she has the dining room table that I HAVE BEEN PINING OVER and have commissioned my father to build for me for my birthday next month!!!

Could it be fate?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

reno of the kitchen.

[Reno], as in, R-E-N-O-V-A-T-I-O-N. well, almost.

When we moved into our house, two and a half years ago, the countertops were green. And, they still are (gasp). Unfortunately the renovation hasn't gotten quite that far, however, I have made some progress from the green-countertopped, unoriginal (as in, every other run of the mill, American family has) cabineted (sp?) and sad peach-walled kitchen!

The walls are painted! It's a light gray color, that I had originally bought for our basement (with the hopes to have it on the walls of a new man-cave, which was under one foot of water last month). The painting was the easy part. After taping the ceiling, cabinets, etc., I had it done in no time. It's a neutral, cool gray and it looks divine. I plan to add some yellow accents (in the form of pictures and possibly curtains) to compliment the starkly colored walls.

Installing the shelves did not happen with ease, of any kind. well, they were easy to *buy* (along with the other hundred dollars worth of items that quickly filled up my cart at Ikea last week), but they were not easy to install. Somehow the drywall in my house is softer than any, and the studs are much harder than any. So, I made three trips to the store for stronger screw anchors, before finding one that worked. And, I got a screw stuck in the wall and a drill bit BROKEN in the wall. I cried, I screamed. I dropped quite a few f-bombs and my dog was essentially afraid of me (my husband would have been afraid of me as well, had he been home). Note to self: make sure to tackle projects of this nature when ALONE in the house.

But, the finished product awaits you:

The first thing my husband said when he saw it was, 'we need to get some more interesting glasses'. I guess it's a good thing that he's warranting me to go shopping (he's a bit of a finance warden), but it wasn't really the response I was looking for. Especially not after my mentally exhausting day.

Check out these other photos as well...

Imagine these cabinets covering the entire kitchen:

Opposite wall before (it did have oak-colored shelves, but I forgot to take real 'before' pictures):

Opposite wall after:

I am very proud of my handiwork and I hope you enjoy it too!!

Next week: cabs go white.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

project funway.

Today I made a dress. Actually, scratch that. Today, I finished making a dress.

I should probably start at the beginning, though.

I went to the Jewett City flea market a few weeks ago and well, I was like a kid in a candy store. The place is PHENOMENAL.

Although I could digress for days and days about the endless treasures that you are SURE to find, should you visit the good old town of Jewett City, but I won't. The point is: I bought fabric from the Fabric Lady. I probably got a total of fifteen yards, for approximately thirteen dollars. Good stuff too: retro prints, beach-y stripes, thick fabrics for re-upholstering. A dressmaker's (or someone hoping to gain that title, like little 'ole me) PARADISE.

So, come Monday morning, there I sat, in front of my sewing machine, with a few spools of thread, a racing mind (full of ideas that my hands could not comprehend) and some AMAZING fabric...

Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum would be proud (I hope). Look at what my [rather uncoordinated] hands produced!

I mean, I know it didn't take an expert to sew this, but I am pretty damn happy with the results. And I will be wearing it as soon as possible.

So, I'd like to send out some thank yous here, for aiding in my creativity. First, and foremost, THE FABRIC LADY (duh), Jeanette Holliday and Victoria Mueller (for introducing me to the flea market. this is both a good thing and a VERY bad thing) and my wonderful husband for making this all possible, by supplying me with a sewing machine! I guess I could also thank the state of Connecticut for providing me with the ten dollars needed for buying all the fabric and thread from said, fabric lady, as well. So, thanks Jodi Rell.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I started my morning off right. I woke up early, brewed some uber strong coffee, made my husband's lunch (just one of the many useful things that I do while funemployed), and headed to the beach (purely for the purpose of exercise) for a quick game of fetch with Maybel.

And then...the morning made history. There it stood, as if a light shone down on it from the heavens.

Perhaps it looks like a piece of glorified driftwood, but to me, it was (and still is) a gem. Albeit after a chipped nail, a bruised shin and undeniably exhausted arms, it is ALL mine.        

I will keep you posted with the finished product. I'm thinking stool...


Of course it is only a play on words, however, I'd much rather tell people that I'm on funemployment, than say, um, unemployment. It sounds much nicer, doesn't it? And I really like the reaction I get when people ask what I do...'I'm on funemployment.' They smirk (and sometimes giggle) and ask, 'oh, and what is that?'. Then I get to tell them how wonderful my life is. Well, how wonderful my life is, without work.

I do not take bubble baths, while drinking mimosas, followed by long walks on the beach with my canine companion (although some may beg to differ). I do stuff. Lots of stuff. And that is precisely what my blog is about: a day (well, many days) in the life of funemployed ME.