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The Economics of Fashion




Blazer: J.Crew; Blouse: Banana Republic; Jeans: F21; Tights: H&M; Heels: Thrifted; Necklace: H&M
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New favorite necklace, meet my blog. Blog, meet my new favorite necklace. I saw this at H&M the other day and fell in love - adorable, double-stranded chunky beads, including orange ones? Sold. Plus, the baby didn't pull on my necklace once. It was a new purchase miracle. Chunky beads + unattractive to babies = a win in my book. You can see that I put my econ major to good use.

PS - Happy Leap Day!! Is it strange that I am ridiculously excited about today?

Linking Up
What I Wore Wednesday at Transatlantic Blonde

Weekend Casual




Blazer: Benetton; Shirt: Old Navy; Jeans: Banana Republic; Shoes: Target; Bag: Zappos: Silk scarf: India
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I started to write "weekend cash" but then that just looked like slang for money instead of casual abbreviated and we all know that weekends involve spending money, not making it, right?

Also? It was really really windy when we took those pictures. And cold. Which also means that those smiles you see, all fake. So there's my weekend recap, spending money and fake smiles.

Red, Blue and...Cream?


Cardi: Target; Blouse: Old Navy; Skinnies: Old Navy; Heels: Target
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I love red & navy together, but I usually feel like a giant American flag...classy, but not usually the look I'm going for. (You can see why I love Independence Day, because aside from barbeques and music and friends, I can wear an oft-loved but rarely-worn color combo. What, isn't that why you like holidays?) I decided to try it with subbing in cream to tone down the flag-factor. What do you think? Yea or nay?

Linking Up
What I Wore

Floral on Floral




Cardi: Target; Blouse: Downeast Basics; Skirt: Ann Taylor; Belt: From another dress; Flats: Target
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This week demonstrates what is known as "progression." Sweat pants to skinny jeans to skirts. Now you know where my affections are placed. This skirt was really begging for some cute heels but I wanted to have something to move on to the next day. We also went to a My Gym (free) intro class (fun, but seriously, who pays that much money for those things? evidently they do not have a church nursery. also, would you like to pass on some of your wealth?) and I was already the only mom wearing anything but jeans or yoga pants, so I'm glad I opted for the flats.

Linking Up
Sarah of Frills 4 Thrill's Copycats post because I was inspired to do the floral on floral by...something. But I cannot for the life of me find the image now (this is what happens when I fail to immediately pin things. or maybe I just dreamed up the combo all by my brilliant self?). Sooo...I don't know if that counts. Sarah? Feel free to let me know if it doesn't and I won't be offended. :)

Fashion Friday at Blonde Episodes
Friday Free-for-All at Five Days Five Ways
Whatever Whenever Wednesday at Rolled Up Pretty
What I Wore Wednesday at The Pleated Poppy

Recuperating + Liebster Blog Award


Cardi: Gap; Button down: Downeast Basics; Skinnies: H&M; Flats: Target; Belt-as-bracelet: thrifted
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Yesterday I did manage to hit my goal of showering, and even got into non-flannel clothing! Success! Still, I figured I could leave skirts and heels for another day and opted for a totally comfortable outfit, but one which I also loved the appearance of. Comfy + cute = definite win in my book.

Also, I was so excited to see that the lovely Sharon of The Tiny Heart awarded me the Liebster Blog Award! Thanks so much, Sharon! Now I get the fun of picking 5 more awesome blogs to award:

  1. For the Birds - I think she has fewer than 200 followers, which shocks me, because Rachel has seriously amazing style and layering skills.
  2. See Me Rwar - Rebecca has a great eye for putting together unexpected pieces, and has awesome shoes!
  3. The Perpetual Student's Wife - Kate is always so classy but practical. Love!
  4. Messy Jess C - Love her style & her recipes! This girl seriously has the cutest skirts.
  5. My Greatest Hits - Kayla just hosted a fabulous ABCs of style challenge. Fun and creative.
Whew! Hard Choices. Now for The Rules, copied & pasted:

If you've been awarded the Liebster Blog Award:
- Choose 5 up and coming blogs with less than 200 followers to award.
- Give thanks to the blogger that awarded you by linking back to them. Follow them too for extra appreciation.
- Post the award on your blog along with the links to the 5 bloggers you chose. (it's also nice to leave them a comment letting them know!).

Fashion Confession

Yesterday, I came down with a nasty cold and was totally miserable. I kept trying to talk myself into getting dressed, but the couch was just too appealing. At the end of the night, I was so exhausted by 9:30 that I couldn't even bring myself to finish the second half of the Downton Abbey season finale...yikes. The goal today is to shower.

While I'm certain all of you want to see a photo of my red-nosed and sweatpant-clad self, I'll spare you the trauma. So - fashion confession it is! Remember all those heels I've worn? Like here, here, and here? Well, Indians don't typically wear shoes in the house. And on most of those days, I pretty much just put on shoes to go outside for outfit pictures, and maaaybe for a pediatrician's appointment or something requiring equally minimal walking. Whew! Feels good to get that off my chest.

Aaand...a few cute pictures. Just 'cuz.

An Okay Outfit + Whole Foods Artichoke Stuffed Pasta

We got back late last night from a delightful trip to our beloved Philadelphia. We used to live there and love that city like none other. We stayed with some dear friends (Dan's mission presidents, actually) who spoiled us like crazy by cooking/treating us to amazing meals, taking us to incredible concerts, and just generally being fantastic company.

While there, I wore several outfits I loved, but failed to take one single picture. Alas. So while you're waiting for me to rewear those outfits this week, here's an outfit I wore several weeks ago and liked but didn't love. It was comfy and casual and easy, but not extraordinary. Perfect for a take-it-easy sort of Saturday. I'm also including the recipe for the amazing Valentine's main dish I made last week. Because everyone knows a so-so outfit + an awesome recipe = a pretty good blog post, right?
Sweater: Gap; Vest: old cardi with sleeves cut off; Jeans: H&M; Belt: thrifted; Watch: online; Flats: Target; Necklace: clothing swap


And now for the recipe...I give you Artichoke Stuffed Pasta, adapted from Deb of Smitten Kitchen (aka my food blogger crush). This was perfect for Valentine's Day - creamy without being overly heavy, and amazingly complex flavors (browned butter, caramelized onions, artichokes...if that doesn't speak to your heart, well, then I don't think we can be friends). Deb uses store-bought pasta shells, but since Trader Joe's didn't have them on hand and since it was Valentine's, I decided to go with homemade whole wheat pasta.

Bonus - if you make your own pasta and don't care about the coloring of the sauce from using wheat flour instead of all-purpose, this recipe is completely whole-foods friendly. That said, making the noodles from scratch adds at least an hour to the process. If you don't do that, you could have this dish in the oven in 45-60 minutes, easy.


Artichoke-Stuffed Pasta
Pasta (slightly adapted from the Betty Crocker Bridal Edition cookbook)
Either use 1/2 of this whole wheat pasta recipe, or 18 jumbo pasta shells

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/4 cup water
1-1.5 tablespoons olive oil

Mix flour & salt in stand mixer. Make a well and add eggs, water & oil. Knead with dough hook for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover and let sit for about 15-20 minutes (you can skip this if you need, but the dough will be much easier to work with if you leave it be for a bit). Divide into pieces (I like my pasta thin, so I usually have balls about half the size of my palm) and roll and cut the dough either with a rolling pin/pizza cutter or a pasta machine. I cut mine into rectangles slightly smaller than lasagna noodles. Lay out on kitchen towels and let dry for 20-30 minutes. Boil until al dente and toss with a bit of olive oil to keep them from sticking until ready to assemble.

Filling

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped small
12 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and patted dry
1/2 cup (1 1/4 ounces) finely grated Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 large egg yolks
1.5-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Melt butter in a heavy 12-inch skillet or pot over medium heat and cook it until it turns nutty and brown, stirring occasionally to keep the solids moving. Once the butter is browned, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the onions and turn heat to low. Cook until onions are lightly brown and caramelized, about 15-20 minutes. Raise the heat slightly, add the artichoke hearts and cook them until they are softened a bit, about 5-10 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and add both cheeses, yolks, lemon juice, salt & pepper and mash with a spatula until the artichokes are separated and incorporated, but still have texture. If you want your filling smoother, you can also do a couple of pulses with an immersion blender.

Sauce
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour (wheat works fine, but will make your sauce brown)
2 cups whole milk
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the flour all at once and whisk it until smooth. Add the milk, a little bit at a time, whisking constantly so no lumps form. Once the mixture has reached a batter-like consistency, you can begin adding the milk in larger pours at a time, whisking the whole time. Once all the milk is added, add the garlic and bring the sauce to a boil, stirring frequently. Once boiling, it will immediately begin to thicken. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for two to three minutes before stirring in the ricotta, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Remove from heat and adjust salt, pepper and lemon to taste.

Assembly
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour 1 cup of sauce (you'll have about 2 1/2 cups total) into the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish and spread evenly. Scoop 1-2 tablespoons into each sheet of pasta and roll. Place seam down on the sauce. Pour remaining sauce over the pasta. Cover the dish with foil and bake it for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake it for a final 15 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley or basil, if using, and serve immediately.

Ruffled Lace Extender Slip Tutorial (aka Sewing for Dummies 2.0)

It seems that The Easiest Skirt Ever tutorial actually helped some number of you who are also beginners at sewing. Who knew? So I decided to share another very brief and easy project I did recently in the hopes that someone else has been considering something like this but was a little intimidated or didn't now how to start.

I made this extender slip a while back but just haven't really loved it. I was bothered by the flatness of it under a skirt - I wanted it to poof out a bit and add some more depth. I looked around but didn't really see a tutorial so I decided to just wing it. I wasn't planning on making a tutorial so I didn't take many pictures along the way, but let me know if you need more to understand and I can try to recreate the process (maybe even with better lighting).

To start with, I went to the thrift store and bought an old slip for $1 and a huge lace curtain for maybe $2.50. Lace can be dang expensive if you purchase it at a fabric store, especially if you want some nicer looking stuff. Bonus was that the lace from the curtain looked a little older and more delicate, which I preferred to bright new white lace, and since the curtain was so big, I had a bunch leftover.

To get a floofy look, I decided to create some ruffles by pleating the lace onto the slip. I didn't take a ton of pictures along the way, but you'll get the idea.

Step 1: Determine Full Length
You'll want to decide how long you want your extender slip to be. Do you want it to hit at the knees? Just above or below? This will also depend on where you will wear the slip - on your hips? At your natural waist? To give you an idea, my full length of slip + lace was about 23" from natural waist to mid-knee (I'm 5'4").

Step 2: Determine Lace Length
Here's where you'll have to decide how much of the full length (23" in my case) you want to be lace, and how much you want to be slip. This, again, will depend on your preference. I wanted my lace to go up a bit under whatever skirt I was wearing, so I think my lace length ended up being about 5-6". You also need to decide how wide you want your strip to be. Mine was quite big because I added in quite a few pleats, so that took up extra fabric. I would say measure around the bottom of your slip (in a circle) and maybe triple or quadruple that number. Since I had a big curtain, I could cut out more strips as needed.

Step 3: Cut Lace

Here's where you'll take your lace and cut out a strip that is your "lace length" (above) in one direction, and as long as you can get it on the other. I ended up using two long strips (one for the front and one for the back), but if your curtain is really long and/or you don't want a lot of pleats, you may be able to get away with just one strip. You'll want to leave an extra 1/2-1" for seam allowance. Also, if you can cut your lace along a finished edge, you can let that end peek out and you won't need to finish the bottom of your extender slip. After you cut it, if you couldn't cut along a finished edge, go ahead and finish one side of your lace (whatever side will be along the bottom of the slip).

Step 4: Pin Lace
Here's where you'll keep that "full slip length" number in mind. Arrange the lace onto the slip so that the full length of slip + lace equals your full length number (remember, mine was 23"). I ended up cutting a bit extra, so you'll see extra fabric peeking above the pins in the picture. I just cut that off later. If your actual slip is on the longish side, then you may want to cut off the bottom of the slip, hem the edge, and then pin the lace on (although I just sewed the lace on and cut off whatever extra slip was peeking out and didn't bother hemming it - I figured I was only going to hand wash this, anyway, and since it was underneath, I wasn't as concerned about fraying).

Then you can start pinning! I started by pinning one edge down, then folding the lace over itself to make a pleat, pinning that, and repeating about a million times until I was all the way around the slip.
Step 5: Try it On
I have this step here because with all the pleats and ruffliness, it's easy for it to get uneven. So try the slip on and see if it seems to be generally even in terms of length, fullness, etc.

Step 5: Sew on the Lace
Now you can sew the lace in place! I just used a white thread, although it shouldn't really matter since this part won't be showing out, anyway. I recommend going with the pleats instead of against them as you sew them down so your foot won't always be pushing up against the pleats. Still, working with lace is tricky and there were a few choice under-breath utterances. Just persevere. I actually unpicked several sections several times because the bottom hem of the lace would get caught and sewn in, or the lace wasn't falling evenly or whatever.

Step 6: Wear Your New Slip!
And love how it automatically makes any skirt more interesting and feminine.

More pictures of the slip in action here. And that's it! Any questions? Confused about anything?

What I Wore for Valentine's





Cardi: borrowed from sister; Blouse: Banana Republic; Skirt: H&M; Tights: Forever 21; Shoes: Target; Necklace: made by husband; Earrings: Nordstrom; Belt: Old
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One of the downsides to cooking a good bit is that you get rather snotty about restaurant food. I often think, "I could do better." Valentine's has never been huge for us, so we decided to lay low and make a special dinner at home (balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts, artichoke stuffed pasta with homemade noodles, and chocolate fondue). So our night basically consisted of playing with/feeding/bathing the tiny one, enjoying our amazing homemade meal, and catching up on Downton Abbey in front of the fire. Just about the perfect night, if you ask me.

Lace & Checks


Shirt: borrowed from husband; Skirt: Downeast Basics (similar); Tights: Target; Boots: Payless; Necklace: from a clothing swap
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I've worn this outfit no fewer than three times in the past week. We kept forgetting to take pictures but I quite liked the outfit so I just kept hoping I wouldn't see the same people. And then when we finally did get pictures, they weren't even that good, but I figured wearing the outfit a fourth time was maybe a bit excessive. And smelly.

Valentine



Cardi: Gap (similar); Lace shirt + undershirt: Downeast Basics; Pants: Old Navy; Heels: Target
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I've never been a particular fan of Valentine's Day. It's just always seemed sort of cheesy and annoying to me (and no, that wasn't just when I was single). But this year, it's decided to embrace a trend I've been wanting to try, so me and St. Valentine, we made our peace for the sake of fashion.

Also, you might notice that I finally am wearing red lipstick. I decided to buck up and get some...well, some red gloss, at least. Baby steps.


Pink + Red | Everybody, Everywear
What I Wore Wednesday
Whatever, Whenever Wednesday
What I Wednesday