Book Reviews and Some New Finds – Part Duex


I am back!  I am having an easy Sunday as my father prepared breakfast for us and had to stop writing momentarily until we have eaten and I washed the dishes.  Hey if someone cooks, the very least another person can do is wash dishes.

In my previous blog were the two book reviews and now I have some new finds that may interest some of you reading.  I discovered that blog stats has more than 22,500 visitors over the past three years and think that is a good thing, but never mind that for the time being.  Last night, I was giving my January’s issue of Martha Stewart a cursory read, happened upon the home keeping section of the magazine, and saw two items that caught my attention and interest.  It is a step-by-step guide to a cleaner and healthier home.  The two products are for the kitchen and find the money-saving potential something to consider.  One product is making your own fizzy water and the other to purify your water.  Prior to the advertising and marketing onslaught, people drink water from their faucet.  People were convince that purchasing bottle water was better for you, but neglected to mention that we are adding more garbage to the landfill.  Essentially, the advertising and marketing gurus convinced us to purchase an item was already free, and brainwashed into paying for water.  We do not have pay for water just purchase a water purifier and we can once drink free water and not add to the landfill at the same time.  The reality is that these bottling companies are selling us tap water that they have purified themselves.  Spring water could be come from the springs a city water system (I am just saying).  The water purifier mentioned in the article is GE’s Full Flow Water Filtration that you can attach to the cold-water line beneath the sink (from $80, GE Appliances has more information).  The cost savings of drinking tap water is about $500 per year and each filter last approximately six months.  I think that is a good cost saving. 

Another product is making your fizzy soda or water at home again saving money and keeping plastic bottles ending up in a landfill.  You can store it on your countertop and turn water into seltzer.  There is a carbon dioxide cartridge that can make up to 110 liters of soda just mail it back to the company to be refilled.  The price varies for machines, but for more information about the product is at Soda Stream USA.

I have some candy eye sewing/fashion goodness to share.  When I signed up for Facebook a few years ago, I joined a club called The Sewing Studio.  It is a company in Toronto, CA that teaches sewing classes at all ages and skills level.  Yes, I live in New Jersey, but in this age of technology, I would at least receive a newsletter and read the blog.  I received a message from The Sewing Studio last night that announced a new online magazine dedicated to sewing and fashion.  Of course, I had to look at the site Love Sewing and the magazine is fabulous.  My advice is to see for yourself and if you become inspired like I did.  There is one featured designer, Michi Calica in the magazine’s “Get Inspired” column.  I think some her designs are wonderful, Michi creates vintage-inspired with a modern twist.  She also does wedding dresses and creates different sizes for her clients.  One dress is the white orchard linen dress.  I love the simplicity yet elegant and feminine look at this dress.  Michi has this dress on Etsy Shop for about $280 or if you are sewing, who is inspired can probably create something along this line.  I think this is a good price for the dress, but that is for you to decide.

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Another dress the designer has on her shop is her wavy hem dress that is another creatively simple but elegant dress that seems fun to wear.

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Michi Calica has other pieces of clothing including evening bags, jewelry and other accessories at her Etsy Shop.  I think some of you may fall in love with her designs.

Those the some new finds for the time being.  I am going to spend this week testing out a couple of recipes I read in Martha Stewart’s January issue such as braised red cabbage and a kale and roasted potato salad.  I think those recipes fall in line with me being healthier and getting down my blood pressure.  I am still thinking about getting shape for a 5k run, that will fill in my exercise goals as well. Ciao for now.

 

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What to Learn in the Coming Year


I got up this morning and started my day by listening to NPR’s Saturday Weekend Edition.  My confession is that I am a bit of the geek and like to know what is going on in the world.  NPR is a lot like oatmeal, it is good for you although there are times you do not fully appreciate it.  It also helps to have a cup of coffee along with listening and savor the moment.  In addition to listening to the happenings in the country and aboard, SWE asked a few people of their thoughts of what the next decade may bring.  It was more of their hope than a predication as no one can really know what the future may bring. 

One commentary was from publisher and style maven, Martha Stewart that she hope that the economy will correct, people safe in their homes and not threatened by foreclosures, and her concerned about the environment in where our meats and vegetables and think about organic and humane ways to cultivate our food.  Her wish is that people stay healthy, be healthy and comfortable.  I say Amen to that sentiment.

Another commentator was Barney’s Creative Director, Simon Doonan on his views about the future of fashion in the next decade.  He mentioned that fashion in the past ten years has been extreme and could use them to predicate what may happen next in fashion.  It has been a self-critical period for women as we have seen shoes ridiculously high and painful, thighs are not long enough, boobs not big enough, and not Botox enough and he hopes that in the next ten years women will stop being self-masochistic becoming more looser and bohemian (except wearing that Christmas or Thanksgiving sweater, lol).

These comments are something to think about learns from as we go into a new decade.  The comments from Simon Doonan really struck a chord with me particularly when have reality shows such as the Real Housewives Orange County, Atlanta, New York, New Jersey and what other town or city that can find women who are willing to make complete fools of themselves on nationally television and perpetuating an unrealistic idea about women who are housewives.  The women I know continue to work either within the home or outside.  Besides raising a family for many of stay at home mom is real job that is not always easy.  I always believe that stay-at-home moms should be paid and health benefits.  I do share Simon’s hope that women will finally become looser and bohemian as if we thought about it, Coco Chanel want to create fashion for women that did not constrict and restrain them and yet we seem to have devolved than evolve that idea of independence and being comfortable in our own skin.  I think the Real Housewives franchise shows gives one a bleak view about this women having considerably unhappy and unfulfilled lives.  There is a crack in their materialistic facades and no amount of Botox and plastic surgery is enough to repair or cover it.

I promise to write my review of the books mentioned in my blog from yesterday evening, but it was important for me to write my reflections of the day. Ciao for now.

New Stuff to See


I subscribe to a lot of blogs containing various information and tips from cooking to knitting to sewing.  Today, I read a blog entry from Skamama, Julie Armstrong Holetz who wrote the book Uncommon Crochet that I mentioned in a previous blog entry.  I love her crochet patterns because they are so hip and modern.  Now Holetz is the editor of a new crochet magazine from Great Britain called Inside Crochet Magazine (http://www.insidecrochet.co.uk/issue1.html) and the first issue goes on sale March 27, but you can go onto the website and pre-order.  Inside Crochet also on Facebook and Raverly.

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Burda Fashion has its April issue preview online and saw this dress that pique my intererst.  I noticed that the dresses for the spring and summer are long.  It’s a gown without being formal, but stylish and yes the c word comfortable.  I can see myself going out to dinner with friends or a nice outdoor party.  I am thinking about getting the April issue and add this dress to my inspiration notebook of things to sew.

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I read a comment that someone left me yesterday.  Her name is Maranda Burke and her blog is (http://mandmstudio.blogspot.com/).  I took an opportunity to visit her blog as she visited mine and realized that she has a shop online (http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=6837291) with some great fabrics that takes you into a world of crafty imagination.  There is a print that I thinking about purchasing to make that Sushi Apron from “The Perfect Apron” I purchased last week.  I also see that tunic in my fabric.  Maranda is also have a giveaway of some fabric, so just visit her blog and entry.

My last thing to see is from www.burdastyle.com.  It’s called the Paloa Dress.  It’s a nice wrap dress and the pattern cost $4.00 which you can download as a PDF file.  I see this dress with a pair of trousers if some us have knees that have gone south.

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I guess that is all I have for now with stuff to see.  Enjoy everyone!

Why I Make My Own Accessories and Clothes


One of things I typically do on-line is browse the web particularly for accessories and clothes.  I like to have an idea what is the latest fashion, and came across this website called Stewart & Brown, www.stewartbrown.com, a specialty store that sells organic clothing and accessories.  I saw this peasant hat which is a lovely hat, but what is not lovely is its price ($165.00).  The hat is Mongolian cashmere from the description, and calling it a peasant hat may not be appropriate considering its price.

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I do not know and can not speak for everyone, but I do not the have the money paid $165.00 for a hat that I may wear three to four months out of the year.  And some of you very experienced sewers and knitters I could produce a a few articles of clothing for that price.  This is one of the reason I became interested in making my own accessories and clothes, I cannot afford to paid retailers’ prices.  Of course, I am not saying that I am going to make single piece of clothing, but probably will end up making about 80% of my clothes.  In fact, I have not purchased a hat or scarf in three years.

There is another issue, the green movement and the need to purchase products that are good for the environment.  I am not against this idea purchasing organic products if I positively know if indeed they are organic, and after hearing about how demin is processed, I will be learning how to make a pair using organic demin to reduce having harmful chemicals.  Just one tip, if you purchased a pair jeans costing under $30.00, please wash them before wearing as there are chemicals that could irriate your skin.  I am hopeful that organic fabric does become more available and cost less as time progresses.  I believe it is becoming more practical to make your own clothes and accessories in addition to having a creative outlet.

Greener Cosmetics


If some of you read my Wednesday’s blog about toxic chemicals in our everyday products, then you might have heard the interview I posted yesterday with the investigator reporter, Mark Schapiro on Fresh Air/National Public Radio.  In the interview, Schapiro told Terry Gross (interviewer) that many of the lipsticks on the market contain lead.  That’s right my sisters lead along with petroleum which I venture to say is not probably a good thing to put on our bodies and faces.  I was reading an article in January 2007 issue of Essence Magazine where one of the celebrities (think it was Nancy Wilson) said that she used Vaseoline petroleum.  Now you could have knock me over with a feather that in this day and age that some people still use this product.  I do not use petroleum on your face or body when can also use it to fuel your car or home, not a good thing.

What I also learned from the interview is that there is no requirement in the United States to test cosmetics.  Have you ever read on the back of the face cream you use that the company doesn’t test their products on animals with the statement “no animal testing”?  Now have you asked yourself how does the company test their products?  I am all for not testing animals, but they should create testing on cosmetics to prove its safety.

I suppose the same the rule for food applies, “If you cannot pronounce, then do not eat it.”  With that said, just as there places like Whole Foods and Wild Oats alternative food markets selling organic products, the same is true for cosmetics.  There are new organic cosmetics companies on the market everyday.   This does not include the 8,000 products that the beauty industry creates each year.  So I am going to write about some alternative cosmetics companies for you do your own research and see what best suits you.  Yesterday I wrote in my blog about a database that gives you the ingredients in cosmetics and a safety rating.  I am going to post it again, so that when you do your research the alternative companies you can rate them as well.  Not all organic products are alike or equal.

Probably one of most largest organic skincare company is Origins (www.origins.com).  The company first started in 1990 and has grown over the 17 years.  Origins has stores across the country and also sells its product in Bloomingsdale’s and Macy’s department stores.  The company sells skin care, make-up, fragrances, and bath & body care.  The next company is Avalon Naturals (www.avalonnaturalproducts.com).  The company sells a variety of body, skin, and hair products, however, does not sell color cosmetics.  A good thing about this company is that it products for babies.   Avea (www.avea.co.uk) is an organic company from Great Britain with an interesting surprise, it sells non-toxic nail polish and herbal hair dyes (the US government does have some requirements about hair dyes).  This may a company worth going on the site and see what it offers. 

One note:  Ladies and Gentlemen from the very fair-skinned to the darkest hue it is very important to use sunscreen if you plan to spend hours outdoors, and this does include people of color as everyone is at risk of getting cancer.  Do you research on the safest sunscreen to purchase and wear.

Here are some other companies you might be interested in taking a look:

Aubrey Organics  www.aubrey-organics.com

L’Occitane – http://usa.loccitane.com/FO/Default.aspx?cm_mmc=

Saffron Rouge www.saffronrouge.com

Lastly, The Green Guide had an article published back in April about organic cosmetic and here is the link for you to read www.thegreenguide.com/doc/119/makeup.  All is not lost, we can still look fabulous but our products can be safer and greener.  Enjoy! 

Next Stop, Knits


I tend to do a significant amount of thinking as I am sure everyone does. As I wrote a couple of days about my muslin for the pants from the Simplicity pattern. In addition to noticing that I should lengthen the pants because the petite length is too short (I’m 5’4″), and would like to wear with heels. My original plan was use a lightweight wool, but thought about and decided today that it would be better to use a knit with some stretch. A mid-weight knit that I can wear during the fall and winter months, and there is the idea of using twill with stretch which will probably work and is a suggested fabric to use.

I have not yet worked with knits, but have some patterns in my stash that call for that fabric. This is a personal preference, but I like wearing knit during the fall and winter months as it is comfortable and easy to care by hand washing or a gentle wash. I like to wear these pieces for work, weekends, and going out (I can dress it up). I love wearing tweeds and wools, but it requires more care than knits (I like washable knits too).

With my planning with sewing dresses, jackets, pants, and skirts, I need to think about tops to wear as well. I do not have enough tops and that means looking at some patterns of some knits to purchase. I do intend to make shell tops because they are great to wear under jackets and sweaters. Well I suppose that is all I have today, but I certainly will take any advice or suggestions you may have. You can also tell me how you feel about working and wearing knits. Cheers!

For the Plus Size Girl


Well here I go again, reading from the November 2007 issue of O Magazine for more fashion advice.  O’s creative director Adam Glassman responded to a reader who is plus-size what she absolutely needs in her closet.  He responds by saying what your best friend or friends will not tell you:

  • Lingerie that lifts, smooths, and supports, including shapewear pieces and a properly fitted bra. You’ve got to get dressed from the inside out.
  • A white wrap shirt to show off your waist (if you have one) or give the illusion of curves (if you don’t).
  • Black boot-cut stretch pants to balance broader hips.
  • Jeans with some stretch—I’ll even allow elasticized waists as long as you swear to wear your tops untucked.
  • A wrap dress in a solid color (more slimming than prints).
  • A trenchcoat with a waist-shrinking belt. Epaulets build up the shoulders—instant hourglass.
  • A straight skirt for the curvy; an a-line if your body shape is less defined.
  • A stretch tank to layer with—it helps to contain larger breasts.
  • A pair of heels for shapelier calves.
  • …and opaque hose to match—for the longest-looking legs in town.

I think this is great advice for not only plus-size women, but any woman who needs to have essential pieces in their warbrode.  I know that have people told me that is a nice skirt that you are wearing and often wonder if they like the skirt but not just on me.  There have been times when I knew something I wore did not flatter me at and yet people paid me a compliment of how nice I look (makes me question their fashion sense).  I know I say to myself what was I thinking, but the person paying the compliment, well let’s just say that he or she felt like using drama license so not to hurt my feelings.  I don’t know, but like when someone tells me that there is something hanging from my nose, or my skirt is higher in the back than front.  What do you think and how do you feel about having some rules as a guide to dress your best?

Website Review – My Shape


I like to read magazine as with others who read them discover new products, services and get ideas.  I came across a little tidbit in the July 2007 issue of O Magazine about a website called My Shape (www.myshape.com).  The concept of My Shape is finding clothes that fit your body type that flatters you.  My Shape devised seven body types to determine what clothes flatters your figure best.  You can enter your body measurements, the site calculates and determines what body type works for you.  I copied the body types so you can get an idea:   
Women with softened, straight figures and fairly straight shoulderlines. They have rounded bottoms and the difference between their waist and hip measurements is 7 inches or more.

Broad-shouldered women with proportionally narrow hips and less defined waistlines.

Women with curvy front and side profiles as well as softened shoulderlines, whose waist measurements are at least 10 inches smaller than their balanced bust and hip measurements.

Women whose shoulders and hips are generally in line with each other and whose waist measurements are within 6 inches of their hip measurements. Often with flat bottoms in profile.

Women whose hips are broader than their busts and shoulders.

Women with busts larger than their hips and whose bottoms tend to be flat rather than rounded.

Women with rounded profiles whose waist measurements are proportionally larger than their more balanced bust and hip measurements. They’re often short-waisted and long-legged.

My Shape has a personal shopper that chooses clothes for your body type so you can shop online (there are some very nice items), and the clothes are appropriate for all ages.  You can either shop online or get an idea to make the clothes if you are very particular about what you wear. various body types.  I suggest that you give My Shape a visit and see if it helps you flatter your shape.

Ebony Fashion Fair Show


Yesterday evening, I attended the Ebony Fashion Fair show – the world’s largest traveling fashion show is the tagline.  The show is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and the theme for the 2007 – 2008 season is “Glam Odyssey.”  The show has duel purpose of showcasing to the black community high fashion, and raising funds for the charity organization that organizes the event where the show travels.  The $40.00 includes a six month subscription to Jet Magazine, or a year subscription to Ebony Magazine, price of admission along some of the proceeds going to a charitable organization, typically a scholarship fund.

The show has many designers including Dolce & Gabbana, Missoni, Oscar de la Renta, and Tracy Reese.  Ebony Fashion Fashion manages to do a wonderful show and includes a full-figured model on its runway (yes there something for the hips and thighs gals).

What is Style?


I watched the preview show of Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style as he and Veronica Webb help a 41 year-old mother and wife with finding her style underneath too much make-up and wearing too many revealing clothes to keep her sexiness (her look a turn of sluthly than sexy). I understand a woman wanting to exude her sexiness and allow the inner siren to come out. However, some women do not realize that being sexy is a state of mind and it does come through than the clothes aren’t going to make any difference.

There is a question that we should individually ask ourselves, what is style, better yet how can discover our personal style. I have a confession to make, I became a slave to wearing black because it was the easiest way to get ready in the morning. There isn’t much thought to wearing black as it’s a “neutral color” and goes with everything. I believe that until the BBC’s series “What Not to Wear,” when an unsuspected fashion victim told Suzanne and Trinny that black makes her look slimmer, and they told her that it does not make her look slimmer, it makes you look like you have jaundice.” Yes while it’s true that black can make you look slimmer, but if you have bags under your eyes or didn’t get much sleep from the night before, wearing black will make people notice your bags and tired eyes. With that in mind, I slowly got myself out the black phase and became to wear other colors such as brown, blue and gray as my neutrals and discovered red, pink, purple, etc. Yes I have fallen in love with tweed both silk and wool, and cotton is my best friend as I can wash and still look great. Deep down inside I have always loved wearing dresses, but they fell out of style and recently are making a comeback into wardrobes, particularly the wrap dress.

My style should reflect my personality, and like the fact that I can walk out on a fall day on a weekend wearing wool jersey pants with a cardigan sweater, a t-shirt, and nice pair of stylish walking shoes. A tweed jacket with a pair of denim trousers, and a pair of ankle boots (I think red is great with denim). I think of a nice wool knit wrap dress with a pair of boots going out to dinner with friends, or a dinner party at a  friend’s house. I can’t forget the lounging PJs on the Sundays I don’t feel like going out, but want to treat myself to a nice and quiet day with a book, writing, or watching a good mystery.  Sophisticated, sexy, comfortable, and well put together is my personality style.  A style not created from pretension, but the way I want to live and look.

Fashion Sense


I love fashion, although my current warbrobe could use a transfusion of color and style reflecting my personality. I watch reality shows such as “What Not to Wear” and lately “Project Runway.” People who are generally fashion challenged have the excuse of saying that they do not care what other people think about the way they look. However, the question the person should ask him or herself, do I care how I look. I believe what you feel on the inside is reflected the outside. Having a disheveled look would typical mean disorganized and out of sort, it also means that a person does not care about his or her appearance. There are days when I do not feel like dressing, but solved that problem by not going out and have my moment of messiness. However, when I go out there into the world, I want to dress my best because it simply makes me feel great about myself.

I also learned over the years that it’s best to dress the body you have at the moment. Trying on clothes and shoes are important to a proper fit. This means making a trip to the store and trying to see what fits best to your body type. Finding a tailor for a better fit can improve the way clothes look on your body.