Monday, February 27, 2012

Are your notebooks SAFE?

I was browsing Barnes & Noble to get my Moleskine fix in an effort to organize my ever growing pile of magazine "rippings". I love Moleskine: The look, the texture, the colors, the simplicity and the stylishness. I recently bought a couple of extra small pocket notebooks in pink to keep track of things like emergency phone numbers, passwords and such.
So imagine my intrigue when there is a "California Prop 65 warning" on each Moleskine page on
Out of curiosity, I clicked to find out more and this is what I found.

Errr what? My notebooks could be causing me to have cancer later in life? Have I contaminated all my purses? I am completely baffled and pretty spooked by that warning and I can tell you that I definitely won't be buying any more Moleskine! Scary. How are they allowed to produce a product that could cause cancer? Yes, yes, I know that sounds naive. Still, everyone knows about cigarettes and sun exposure and the usual cancer culprits but NOTEBOOKS? Who knew your paper products could be killing you? I don't even know if I need to be wearing gloves and a mask to transfer the info contained in my Moleskines to my (hopefully non-cancer-causing) Graphic Image notebooks.
Random lady prepares to transfer notes from Moleskine notebook {missing source}

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Birds of L.A.

I love birds. The chirp of a bird in the morning signals Spring time to me. In fact, there's nothing quite like hearing your favorite birds sing outside while you wake up or watching a bluebird take a birdbath in a rain puddle.
However, you know what they say... too much of a good thing... can be creepy rather than chirpy (adapted proverb for my own purposes, don't sue me). Pictures below from my cross-country road trip archives.
Those little dots... all birds
Target must be having a seed & nuts sale...
I know what you're thinking: Birds of a feather...
Since this was just outside L.A. I wasn't sure if we were inadvertently witnessing a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds...
...but I was sure glad to be sitting in a car! Have a great Sunday everyone :-)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mild closet update

Have you heard of Chez Larsson? I randomly came across this Swedish Martha-approved blog while surfing Pinterest for huggable hangers and closet organization. Yes, I'm sad. 
This lady makes my closet obsession seem tame. Yet I can totally relate to her need to organize every nook and cranny when storage real estate is less than ideal. I am perpetually frustrated with my pathetic closet situation, so I rearrange my clothes....oh, probably twice a month. Again, we've established I'm sad.
Today I rearranged my sweater closet. I only rearranged it, because unlike some very admirable people who are able to completely detach themselves from their belongings and radically purge their unworn clothing, I actually like 98% of what is in my closet, so parting with something isn't always my goal. More space would be great though, hence my HH research.

Sweater love
In an effort to keep my stacks neater for longer, I have organized my sweaters by most likely to wear at the top, least likely to wear at the bottom (in each cubicle). Chunky cableknits and sweaters in muted tones to the left, brighter and thinner cardigans to the right. Since it's still officially winter, I won't be wearing many of the brights yet, except the cashmere cableknits, which I've respectively stacked on the top.
On another note, did your mother teach you to store clothing turned inside out? I know it makes sense when you don't have closet doors, but I like seeing patterns... I love you Mom.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Crushing on Kate Spade

Typically, Kate Spade lures me in with their sales emails. Occasionally I venture to their website without being baited by discounts and holy amazeballs did they hit the nail on the head with the current selection of clutches!
The absolute front runner and now object of sleepless nights is the All Aboard Ship Clutch. Need I say more.
Kate Spade All Aboard ship clutch
Not oooonly is this just about the cutest clutch from the outside, but when you take a peek inside....
Red, white and blue stripes, steam chimney clasp and a gold anchor. This, my friends, is what we call a nautical trifecta.
If you prefer less nautical and more Chanel-esque two toned, the Mount Perry Adira clutch will hit the spot:
Kate Spade Mount Perry Adira raffia clutch for strolling along the French Riviera
Finally for maximum princess-gone-disco impact, wear a pink tulle skirt with the I Kissed a Frog clutch.
Kate Spade I Kissed a Frog clutch in Multi.

So now I bid you ahoy as I return to gawk at my the ship clutch. Really, it's art, not a purse. I mean, this could be...this could be.... my blog mascot! Nobody said you can't have a purse for a mascot. Nobody. Quiet back there! Keep shoveling coal! That steam engine requires about 350 lumps of coal.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Needlepoint Love

This week's theme is definitely needlepointing! I already showed you the needlepoint collars I've made for pup Sherman here. Then EAS blogged about Stina Stitches and Allie continued the thread by posting about her never ending needlepoint belt project (that soooo sounds like my Christmas stocking project... started sometime in 2010... estimated completion date 2013... if I'm lucky).
So to round out the needlepoint show-and-tell, I thought I'd post about the needlepoint keyfobs I did for my hubster and I. I didn't use a pre-printed or pre-packaged kit, so it's not quite as perfect as it probably could be, but designing your own allows you to customize size, color and topic to be completely unique!

Patriotic for him (already looking quite grubby lol!)
American flag needlepoint key chain with leather

Tropical for moi (just completed!)
Flamingo needlepoint key chain

I could definitely use more practice in stitching leather, but it wouldn't be handmade if it looked too professional, right? riiiiiight?
I'm just finishing off another collar for Sherman (to be premiered shortly) and my sister has already placed an order for a crab needlepoint key fob.
Here's two needlepoint pictures my grandma made probably 50 years ago.
Lady wearing traditional German Tracht

Traditional man in German Tracht
Phew, do those look time consuming, or what!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day, Knots and Knotettes!
Is there anything nicer than being woken up by a kiss, a pretty bouquet and lovingly written card on your bedside table? Ok perhaps those Meg Carter studs woulda been a nice touch...
Unconventional Tulips!
No, your eyes are not deceiving you! My beau opted for Valentine's day tulips instead of roses this year. I've been telling him for yeeeeeeears that roses (particularly the long stemmed variety) are toooootally overrated. What's the point of a long stem? Is it pretty? I much prefer little pink button roses - but those are hard to come by in a bouquet form. Generally speaking I prefer pink over red flowers, buuuut red is the only color permissible for Valentine's day for most men (fearing a year of chastising looks for picking the wrong shade of crimson). Baby steps, people.

Wishing everyone a lurrrrrrve filled day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Homemade Chai Latte

The other day, we discovered a hole-in-the wall Asian grocery store. I love those kinds of hidden gems, in part because they stock so many things I've never even heard of, but also because we love Asian food, so buying ingredients where the "locals" (expats, in this case) buy them is always reassuring. I would have taken photos of the inside, but the aisles were so narrow and crowded, it felt too intrusive to start clicking away.
Asian grocery loot
We picked up three kinds of chili sauce (sweet, onion and regular), as well as lemongrass powder, green cardamom pods, cloves and Oolong and Pu-erh tea. Oolong tea is, based on this sample alone, not going to make the pantry cut. It tastes bland yet oddly herbal and required a considerable amount of honey and milk to make it drinkable. I've heard good things about Pu-erh tea, so I can't wait to try it.
I always stock up on green cardamom pods and cloves so I can make homemade Chai. No, it does not taste particularly similar to Starbucks Chai, but has a gazillion fewer calories, is caffeine free and is a suitable alternative in Chai emergencies.

Homemade Chai  Latte (makes 2-3 mugs)
2 Roiboos (redbush) tea bags
3 mugs of freshly brewed water
6-7 green cardamom pods (roughly crushed)
6-7 whole cloves
1/2 tsp (or a splash) of vanilla extract
2 cinnamon sticks
Milk and honey to taste
(have not tried it with black pepper, star anise or ginger juice, all of which are contained in the Starbucks version)

Directions: Boil the water while putting all ingredients and tea bags, except milk and honey, in a small saucepot. Pour boiled water into sauce pot and simmer lightly about 5-8 minutes. Turn heat down and add milk until it has a nice warm latte color. Let seep a little longer, low heat, just until the milk is warmed through and the Chai is hot. Add honey to taste (I usually add around one or two tablespoons for 3 mugs), serve with one of the cinnamon sticks in your mug.That's it! Super easy and honestly, tastes delicious. Not to mention, it costs a fraction of Starbucks or Oregon Chai.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cambridge Satchels

Today we decided to brave the masses and head into the big city.
What's that dent, you ask?
One look at the crowds and I wanted to go back into hibernation, but there was no turning around. At the very least we had to find out what that dent in the side of the building was.
Why, it's just your run of the mill glass portal (to a galaxy far far away, natch!)
Rock star parking for the two-wheelers
Sherman was not loving the icy temperatures, nor being forced to wear a sweater...
Why put a sweater on me, but leave me to walk around bare-pawed? hmm? Can you explain that to me?

Next stop was Urban Outfitters, which always seems to have an eclectic mix of overpriced 80s leftovers (MC Hammer Levi's jeans? errr, pass...Shredded spiderweb acrylic sweater? errr, no thank you.).
These tribal-y friendship bracelets sure brought back memories, minus the spikes that is. I felt completely uninspired until I spotted the Cambridge satchels.
Leather Cambridge Satchel in tan
They come in a variety of colors, UO stocked the black and tan, of which I much preferred the tan. It's part schoolboy gamine, part stuffy Oxbridge intellectual biking to a lecture.
Lately I've been struggling with slippery straps on my Barbour and other puffy parkas, so I'm seriously considering getting a Cambridge satchel for the winter months.
11" Cambridge Leather Satchel
I like the look of the 11" (if you can ignore the lopsided cuffed jeans...), but considering the amount of stuff I like to tote around, I think I would go with the 13" satchel instead. For being all leather, they are surprisingly lightweight. I love that you can customize your satchel with a gold embossed monogram on their website! That fact pretty much seals the deal. Now I just need to decide on a color. Tan is a classic and goes with every winter coat I own. I also love the navy....and the red. Really, I love the green too, it's a bright Kelly green. Oh, who am I kidding, I love them all! So while I save my pennies to splurge on a Lotuff & Clegg, I think a Cambridge Satchel will do nicely!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Hibernation activities

Aside from reading interior decorating magazines (if looking at pretty pictures counts as "reading") and watching the original Grey Gardens (errr... eccentric is all I can say to that), I've found myself picking up long forgotten needlepoint projects.
Nautical needlepoint dog collar
Sherman is now sporting his nautical crab collar and for Valentine's he will be the most fashionable pooch on the block with his pink and green heart collar.
Nom nom... is it Valentine's yet?
Yes, I know he is a male dog. The collar is for me, ok? Dogs are colorblind anyway...
Now resume the hibernation lounging position and zzzzz........
Kindness to my readers for putting up with my lousy photography skills compounded by a model who won't sit still.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The only solution...

... to a never ending winter that looks like this...
 ... is to put on one of these...
...some of these...
... brew up one of these...
... grab a few of these...
...and a couple of these... 

... and then make like one of these...

... and hibernate until it's Spring.

Who's with me??

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

On the hunt

So this is the post that never was, the post that was robbed from me by a stealth attack courtesy of Blogger. This time I'm flying under the radar with a very abbreviated post, in the hopes of not being detected.
Has anyone else been watching the RHOBH reunion shows? Forget what's-her-name's quack quack lips, I'm far more interested Demi Moore's Kyle Richard's arm candy.

Kyle Richards on RHOBH Season 2 reunion
Fingers crossed it is not the DVF Pave Sutra bracelet from H Stern or I've got no chance of adding it to my collection... Any clever jewellery detectives know who makes these?
Kindness to Ms Richards for schooling us in the art of bracelet stacking. Kindness also to Ms Richards for living up to her claim of being thrifty by not having bought a $102000 bracelet, so that the populace can have one for V-Day... Finally kindness to any reader who can point me in the direction of an affordable version of the coveted arm candy!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Flip Folding

Is there anything more frustrating than having technology rob you of an afternoon? That seems to have happened with my posts planned for this past weekend - somehow Blogger decided to publish only the title but not my painstakingly assembled blog post... Perhaps this is Blogger telling me to keep things short.... Ok. Stop. Message received. Stop. Will comply in future. Stop.
By now you may have noticed that I am a bit OCD when it comes to organizing and stacking things. A source of ridicule to some, to me, it gives me a sense of calm. Take my winter closet for example. I know where eeeeeeeeverything is.
Frequently used scarves to the right, gloves in the middle, less used scarves on the left
Which is why I find it infinitely frustrating that I can't seem to get my stash of cardigans and sweaters look neat.

About 5% of the problem
Sure, Ikea floppy plastic shelving is a pretty pathetic excuse for a wardrobe, but it should be possible to make it look a bit more Martha, a little less Imelda. What I need is a FlipFold! These things seem ingenious.

Geek approved device
If it's good enough for Sheldon...I'm thinking I need a pink one for myself (junior size) and a lime green one (adult size) for folding hubbies sweaters into sharp squares.
Pink for moi, green for hubs, s'il-vous-plait.
What's the verdict on these bad boys? Worth using or time consuming?

Kindness to my readers for indulging my OCD Hausfrau posts. Can I help that I live in a Bree Van de Kamp fantasy? It's cold outside! What else do you expect while I hibernate....

Friday, February 3, 2012

February blooms and pink

Are you ready for Spring? I know I can't stop daydreaming of beautiful spring flowers and warmth on my skin. I may just have to book DH and myself a little getaway to a European beach, stat. For now, I pretend it's not really 6 weeks until the end of winter by wearing February's official color: Pink. I have no pink jackets that are remotely warm enough, so my only option is to color block with shades of pink, navy and *drumroll* my orange Longchamp. What do you mean, pink and orange don't play well together?
The hot pink top looks tomato colored, thanks to my amazingly outdated camera...
{Jacket: Barbour, sweater: Ralph Lauren(old), jewellery: Cartier (trinity), bag: Longchamp, "pashmina": Target(old)}
It's amazing what a bit of color can do for your mood! Finally a break from the olive, brown, navy and black monotony I've been wearing since November. I felt cheery and even bought some plants for the kitchen, since my herb garden doesn't survive more than 2 months of heavy use (witness the sparse basil plant on it's last leg)!

Basil (in back), chives and rosemary are essential cooking plants. Just don't eat the primroses...
Here's to a pre-spring spring wardrobe and herbage!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Brrrrrringing back hot water bottles

Boy, is it chilly this week! Ahhh sunshine, hurray, spring has sprung! WRONG! Time to freeze again. Don't pack your woolies and cashmeres away just yet, there is still a lot of cold to weather before we're out of the meteorological woods. *Sigh* I am so over cold toes and finger tips.
The only warm spot on my body right now
For the record, I am already layering my husband's 100% wool Shetland sweaters and wearing LLBean's sheepskin slippers aaaaaaand have the heat cranked up to the max, so this is an emergency!
Since my Doxie lap warmer isn't always willing to service my frosty legs (and what about my feet and hands, anyway?), I dug out two hideous water bottles I keep "stored" at the bottom of the laundry hamper for just such an emergency.
Close-up of presh pawsitude
These water bottles are not cute. They are the drugstore, on sale, bought in a fit of "every household should have one of these" standard boring water bottles with some sort of icky, highly flammable cover.
A cute water bottle cover is the kind of frivolous need, that always makes its list waaaaay down the list of things to buy. I was reminded of my annual missed opportunity when I spotted cashmere covers on OneKingsLane the other day, but they were rather boring and frankly, overpriced. And I always seem to see felted wool versions at Christmas markets, yet somehow I always neglect to pick one up... But, an emergency this is - to Etsy we go!
This cable cashmere cover definitely looks cute and cuddly. Being handmade is always a bonus! But at more than $60... it would most likely get pushed back down my must-buy list.
This one could be cute, but I'm not in love with the yellow buttons and the wrinkly seams (look, I'm type A, ok?). The inside is an adorable vintage floral fabric, but it's not visible when in use... Ok forget cashmere, I'll make due with wool...
Bingo! I love this virgin wool one, crafted from beautiful Pendleton dress stewart tartan wool. I looooove tartan blankets and Pendleton makes the best wool ones. In fact, I asked for a dress steward Pendleton wool blanket (preferably monogrammed) for Christmas but nada... Unfortunately, at $175 ... my budget creaks and a regretful veto comes out.
Jeoweo on Etsy has a nice selection (pictured above). My pick would be the orange and pink stripe fleece or the grey and charcoal brown stripe wool, except I am not loving the leaves. I'd rather have a nice flat black velvet bow on the pink/orange a la Kate Spade or a pink applique elephant (or yellow bee?) on the grey/charcoal.
Failing that...I may attempt to upcycle one of my own cable cashmere sweaters if this cold snap continues! Then I can customize til my heart's content and frostbite is averted. Do any of my readers have experience or hints for sewing with knits? The whole unraveling and bunching dilemma scares me...