Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hollywood For Ugly People

For those of you who don't know, I'm moving from South Carolina to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday! Well, technically I'll rest my head in a Virginia zip code because it's a heck of a lot cheaper, but work and play will happen in a DC zip code!

Someone once said Washington is Hollywood for ugly people. Hey, I guess that's true! You've always got an opportunity to see some "famous" politician or celebrity at dinner. I even met Ben Stein at a museum once.

I got this book from my office to prepare me for all things DC.  I read the whole thing, of course.  Did you know DC was named the nation's healthiest metropolitan area for 3 years in a row? Now you do!

I've done two 3-month stints in the DC area for internships, but this time it's actually for real! I somehow managed to find a great deal on an apartment (with TWO walk-in closets!) and in walking distance to the Metro. Now THAT is nothing short of a miracle.

Now I understand why people complain about moving- it's a pain!  (Oh where will I find enough boxes!), but my parents have been generous to give me couches and a bedroom set, along with many, many other supplies.  The hard part is just getting it all there.

So, dear DC, I'm coming back. May your sidewalks not break my high heels, may the long lines at your exclusive restaurants not deter me from trying something new, and may you always provide me with something to do on weekends.  Please don't ever make me witness a birth on the Red Line, and may your stupid STUPID traffic not make me lose my mind.


P.S. Google Reader is going away next week! Follow me on Bloglovin' for updates! It's compatible with WordPress and Blogger blogs and keeps everything organized in one place. Really there's no reason not to do it. Jus' sayin'.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Lightscoop Review

[All opinions in this post are my own. This was not sponsored by Lightscoop.] 

A few weeks ago, I bought a Lightscoop for my DSLR. I read some reviews and it said diffused the flash by reflecting it off the ceiling to add more natural-looking light to indoor photos.  Because I do a lot of crafting, cooking, and blogging, I take a LOT of indoor pictures. I thought it would be worth the investment, so I went for it! 

Photo Courtesy of Lightscoop.com

I got the Lightscoop Deluxe because it can tilt to work for vertical photography.  I'm very happy with it! The instruction book offers a few tips with it, which I highly recommend following, like watching your ISO number so your pictures don't get grainy, and not using the zoom (you can always crop!) It's taken a few trial and error shots, but I like the look of my indoor photos. And it's super easy to use! It just goes right over your hot shoe, and slides right off when you don't need it. 

You can tell from the pictures how the light looks more natural, like what we see with our naked eye. When you use flash, it's like a spotlight on whatever you're photographing. But with Lightscoop you don't get the annoying glare! I'm a fan. 

Whatcha think? Think it was worth my $36? I do! 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Thrifted Dress Refashion

I found this dress at a thrift store. (Same one where I found this dress!) It was only $4, and about 14 sizes too big for me. I loved the pattern though, so I thought I'd see what I could do with it. 

Side note to designers: Why must clothes become potato sacks when you get above a size 12? Not cool, you guys. Women come in all shapes and sizes, and everyone deserves to have clothes to flatter  their body!

First thing to do was get rid of that strange non-sash on the front. I liked the buttons, so I kept those in my stash, but the little scrap of fabric added nothing to the dress. It was easy to pick out with my seam ripper. 

Once I started getting into the nitty gritty of the dress, I saw that someone else had done their own little refashion! They had taken up the shoulders, and the hem had been altered too. 

Anyway, the show must go on! I ripped out those previous alterations.  The dress hit me about mid-calf, a look that is not attractive on anyone. I started by taking in the sides a few inches.

Next, I took 4 inches off the bottom hem.  To do this, I used a tape measure and fabric chalk to mark places around the hem. The fabric chalk was so helpful in making sure I had 4 inches evenly marked  around the whole skirt. 

After I chopped off the 4 inches from the bottom, I folded it over and used that to make a sash! 

Full disclosure: I am seriously flat-chested. It's okay, I've accepted it. BUT that means I don't quite fill out the top of this dress. I considered altering the bust to make it fit better, but that would mean taking out the lining, adding my darts, and finagling the lining back inside and sewing it down. In all honesty, I don't think I'm skilled enough to do it! I haven't been sewing long and need more practice. 

I love the way the sash cinches the waist, and the new length! Any tips on taking in the bust on a dress? I'd love to hear them! 

Linking up with The Winthrop Chronicles for this one!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Week in Paradise

Sorry, no DIYs this week. I'm busy relaxing in Florida! We're staying a short walk from Paris Hilton's house (it's huge) on the Gulf of Mexico. Gulf beaches are the best- white sand that squeaks when you walk on it, and clear blue water. And it's nice to have a quiet area that's not overrun with crazy people.

If you want to see more pretty pictures of palm trees and gorgeous beaches, follow me on Instagram at @arollo910, or using the link on my sidebar.

Don't forget- Google Reader is going away soon. Follow me on Bloglovin' to keep up with all the latest happenings!

Nice neighborhood 

Giant palm tree! 

Perfect beach

Panorama view

Palm tree on a clear night

Happy Summer!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

DIY Map Plates

For my latest DIY, I decorated some glass plates with maps!  I found the maps at the same thrift store where I found this dress! The maps are maps of Nova Scotia... I've never been, but apparently someone else did and decided to get rid of their maps! I love the bright colors. 

I started with two glass plates of different sizes, so I can stack them. I found the glass plates at Hobby Lobby for less than $5. Pretty reasonable!  

I cut up the maps into pieces, trying to get as many different colors in the pieces as possible.  If you try this on your own, remember to work "backwards". When you start glueing, you want the biggest/most colorful pieces to show through on the plate, so those should go on first. Start big and work your way down.

I put a small layer of Mod Podge where the map piece was going, then laid the piece down and put another layer of Mod Podge on top to seal it. Because the plate was curved, I pressed each map piece with my finger to get out the air bubbles. 

I repeated the process until the whole plate was covered. With the big pieces on the bottom, the smaller pieces were free to use to fill in the tiny gaps. When I finished, I put one final layer of Mod Podge over the whole plate to seal it. 

Don't worry about pieces hanging over the edge. It's easier to put them all down and trim the edges later rather than trying to cut pieces to fit along the edge. 

The Mod Podge was pretty thick (oops) so it took forever to dry, but look! Now I have cool, un-boring plates! I love the colors from the different map pieces. Even better- no two of these will ever be the same! 

Note: These are NOT dishwasher safe. I don't even think I'll put food on them. I think they'll look nice on my coffee table, or maybe even on my vanity as a jewelry tray! 

Linking up with Not Just A Housewife for this post!

Also, Google Reader is going away soon (as in a few weeks) so be sure to follow me on Bloglovin' if you like what I have to say!

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Leafy Dress Refashion

 I found this, um, interesting dress at the Helping Hands Thrift Store in Clemson.  Helping Hands is a children's shelter in the area for abused or neglected kids, and they run a thrift shop as a way to raise money to keep the home open! It's a great cause, so if you're in the Clemson area you should stop by. 

The dress was $4 and way too big on me. It reminds me of something my elementary school teachers would wear. Hey, it was the '90s! I actually like this bizarre leafy pattern, but there was way too much of it. 

Step one: Chop! And take in the sides so it doesn't swallow me! I probably would have been better off taking in the sides first, and THEN chopping the length, because altering the shape of the dress altered the hemline. No worries, nothing a few more cuts couldn't fix! 

I don't have a dress form (yet!) so I had to do all the measuring on myself. It's harder than it looks! I made it too narrow the first time. D'oh! But I just picked the seam while I watched tv and added another one. Once I start my new job in a month (!!!!) I'll suck it up and buy a dress form. They just seem so helpful, and I think it will be worth forking over the cash. 

Anyway, here's the finished product! I like the pattern a lot, now that there's less of it. I found the belt at the same thrift store for $1 and it matches perfectly! Vintage, right? 

I love being able to tailor clothes to my exact size. Off the rack? Psh, never again! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Homemade Pizza Bites!

Remember these things? I used to love them! But now I think frozen foods are icky... 

Luckily, a few weeks ago, Rachel found a recipe from "The Girl Who Ate Everything" for homemade pizza rolls! They sounded easy AND delicious, so we had to try it out! 

I'm always for taking short cuts and making life easier, so we started out with some refrigerated pizza dough, rolled it out into a thin layer, and sliced it into squares. Our squares were not even at all, so a few pizza rolls were small and a few were big, but it's all the same on the inside! 

Don't forget to flour your counter! 

The original recipe called for diced mozzarella, but we had shredded. I feel like shredded cheese will melt better inside the dough pocket anyway.  I would've liked to add some cool toppings like peppers or even make it hawaiian with ham and pineapple, but we made these on short notice and just used pepperoni and cheese. 

After the toppings are laid out, fold it over and pinch the edges.  A lot of times when working with dough you'll need to use an egg wash to seal it and press with a fork, but I didn't have any trouble getting the edges to stick. 

 After they were folded, we melted butter and brushed it on top so it could brown in the oven.  We also sprinkled on garlic powder and Italian seasoning.  The original recipe says to mix it up in a ramekin. I don't even know what a ramekin is, but trust me, a normal bowl does just fine. After that, sprinkle on extra cheese if you want. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes or until they're golden! My oven only took 9 minutes, so be careful. 

I'd recommend checking out the original recipe from here if you want to make these, but don't be afraid to make your own modifications like we did! 

In all, these were a pretty cheap snack to make. All of the supplies were less than $10 total, and we made about 20 bites! We probably could have made more if some of the squares were smaller, so that comes out to 50 cents per pizza bite! Not bad, eh? Perfect for a movie night with friends (we watched Wreck It Ralph!) 


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Anthropologie Copycat Shorts and fun with RIT dye!

Last week I had a little fun with some navy RIT dye. There were a couple of dresses that I wanted to dye because one had a stain, and the other was an outdated print. 

The shorts you see here were an afterthought, and actually used to be blue jeans! You could get this pair for $78 from Anthropologie, or you could make your own for free! 

I let the dresses sit in the dye bath for roughly 30 minutes. The first dress used to look like this: 

Bright blue and SO comfy 

 I found a stain on it, but I wasn't quite ready to give it up. But dye will cover up the stain! And I do love navy. This dress turned out beautifully, but the dress you see in the back didn't quite hold the color like I hoped. Anna still liked it, so I gave it to her. 

If you look closely, you can see that the thread around the bottom didn't hold any dye! Weird, huh? I like the little pop of bright blue color though, so hey, it works. The braiding detail around the top is my favorite. 

I wish I had a 'before' shot of the blue jeans, but if you picture a pair of tired, boring old blue jeans then you've got it! I cut them off and dunked them in a bowl of bleach.  Because I put them legs-first into the bleach, the top naturally stayed a little darker. I thought I'd up the contrast and put them into my navy dye-bath with the dresses.

For something I did on a whim, I love the way these shorts turned out! The length on these is also great- nowadays it's hard to find shorts that actually cover my rear, so being able to customize these is exactly what I needed. I turned up the raw edge and hemmed around the bottom with white thread. 

Dye is cheap, and a  great way to spice up some old clothes. Try it out! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Spring Skirt Refashion

I love taking meh clothes and making them better. This time it was an old skirt I found in the back of my closet. Fairly certain it's been 6+ years since it's been worn. See what I did after the jump. 

There was nothing physically wrong with the skirt, and it's a cute spring pattern. I was going to give it to Goodwill when my sister Anna mentioned that she'd wear it if I could fix it up.  It's just a little outdated and the ruffle along the bottom had to go. 



Fixed it! 

An update did this skirt a lot of good. It looks great on her, and is perfect for spring/summer! 

Lesson learned: If you have something in your closet that is lacking in the awesome department, don't just give up on it! It can be as quick as taking off some length and fixing the hem. Go for it! 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

DIY Workout Tank

Have you seen those pins on Pinterest about turning a t-shirt into a work out tank? I thought I'd try it! I used an old t-shirt that I haven't worn in years and grabbed my rotary cutter. 

First, I cut off the sleeves and neck, and then cut out the shoulder blades.  I cut the front into a deep scoop neck too.

I cut off the hem, and wrapped it around the back straps and knotted it at the end.  

Finally, I cut the bottom at an angle to give it a slight high-low line.  I'm a fan! 

DIY Pillow Cover

My last sewing project was sewing a pillow slip cover! Pillow covers are great because once you have a pillow form ($6-$15 at Hobby Lobby, depending on size), you can change out the cover when you're bored! Or if the cover gets dirty, you can take it off and pop it in the wash. I'm all for practicality. 

Is this fabric not the greatest?! I love the neutral colors, and the french script. So pretty. 

First, cut your fabric to fit your pillow form. I laid mine on top, got a general idea of the size, and cut around it. You don't need to leave a seam allowance because a tight cover will fluff up the pillow. Exact measurements will do just fine. You should have two pieces of fabric the size of the pillow. 

After that, I worked to install my zipper. The zipper is the reason you can take the cover off of the pillow, so it's pretty important!I had to watch a few Youtube tutorials to figure it out, but I did it! After roughly 13 tries. 

First, lay out your zipper where you want it to go and mark where the zipper ends. Take it off and sew a normal stitch until where you marked, then sew a basting stitch where the zipper goes, and when you reach where you marked again (the other end of the zipper) finish with a normal stitch.  Flatten the seam with the iron. 

After that, pin your zipper in place, and sew around the edges using a zipper foot attachment on your sewing machine.  The first time I tried this, it went perfectly.  Until I realized I did it on the wrong side of the fabric. Doh! When I tried to fix it, I kept messing up and had to try SO MANY times, but I wasn't going to let some zipper beat me! I eventually got it. 

After the zipper is sewed down, take a seam ripper and open up the part where the basting stitch is. Your zipper will be secure on the ends, and still able to move freely once you take out that middle stitching! 

Sew around the other three sides of the pillow as you would normally, then clip the little triangles made from the corners. When you turn it right-side out, poke out the corners and stuff your pillow inside! 

I'm really happy with the way it turned out! My first zipper was a lot of work, but I think it's something I could do really quickly with a little more practice. And it made a pretty pillow! I could definitely make a ton of these to change out when I get bored with this one.