life lately 1/22/15

by Nicole on January 22, 2015

Hey everyone! How’s 2015 been for you so far? Everything is going well for us so far, and it’s pretty much same-old, same-old–work, tennis, cooking, relaxing. I took last semester off of school, so it’s been a bit annoying to start back this semester, but at least I’m ahead in all my classes so far.







Starting at the beginning of January, I’ve been posting most my meals on Instagram. I’m generally trying to post everything, but if a picture is truly horrible (stupid winter lighting…), then I’ve been sparing you guys. So if you’ve been into the food rituals posts, come follow along on Instagram!

Speaking of the food rituals posts,  I have a few new ones in the works, but I still need to finalize them. I’ll be featuring Lauren of Lladybird and Novita of Very Purple Person! So if you’ve been wondering what the sewing greats eat… well… you’ll find out soon!

Oh, and this cookbook. I feel like I can’t stop talking about it, but that’s mostly because I can’t stop cooking from it! The photography is gorgeous, the writing is great (the author is a food writer, after all), and the recipes are so creative and so delicious, while still being very healthy.

Lastly, I’m on a mission to find more really good sparkling wines. Two of my favorites, both of which are very affordable, are Graham Beck Rose and Gruet Blanc de Blancs. At the grocery store last week, I bought a split of pretty much everything they had so I can try a few different kinds. So far I’ve tried Domaine Chandon and Veuve Cliquot, and I still have Nicholas Feuillatte and Perrier Jouet waiting for me. If you have any suggestions, please share!


I’m currently reading Wool, and I love it so far. It’s a self-published post-apocalyptic thriller. I unabashedly love those kinds of books, even though they usually leave me wanting something with more depth. But Wool is really good so far, and I haven’t yet felt annoyed at any weak characters (cough MAZE RUNNER cough) or supposedly-strong female leads who really just don’t show emotion (cough HUNGER GAMES cough).


I love this song by the Living Sisters. And the video, which was directed by Michel Gondry, is such a fun juxtaposition to the sweet sound.

We haven’t been watching any movies lately, although I’m still dying to see Boyhood. We’ve mostly been going crazy for TV. We discovered a cartoon called Clarence and it is now one of my favorites. It is so funny, one of those great-for-kids-and-adults shows, and Clarence is just SO  endearing. Like, I’d kill myself if he was my child, but I would love to be his aunt or something.

Here’s an episode from the first season:

We also just finished True Detective, which was AMAZING. It completely changed my opinion on Matthew McConaughey. The writing, editing, and direction are also incredible.

Currently we’re following along with the new seasons of Girls, Kroll Show, and Portlandia.


Welp, I think that’s pretty much it. I know I really can’t complain since I live in Texas, but the weather lately has just made me want to sit on the couch and either read or watch something. It’s kind of funny because I actually find the cold to be very invigorating, so I love going outside in this kind of weather for walks and tennis and the like. But when I’m in my house, I just want to wear pj’s and sit on the couch, not go into my cold, cold sewing room. I’m planning on going to a sewing meetup in a few weeks, so hopefully that will spark some sew-jo.

2015 sewing plans

by Nicole on January 7, 2015

I know, I know…these kinds of posts are generally pretty boring, but I’m doing it anyway.  Lately, my “sewing brain” feels like it’s flitting around like a little hummingbird–PRETTY FABRIC, PRETTY PATTERN, PRETTY FABRIC, PRETTY PATTERN–and I feel like a need a solid plan to help me keep on track with the things I really want to be making, not just the shiny new stuff.

And also, I just outright haven’t felt like sewing lately, so I’m hoping writing out my goals will give me a push. I’m considering implementing a habit of at least 15 minutes per day or something like that, which has generally been a good motivator for me in the past. The only thing is that school starts back up for me next week, so that will undoubtedly take up some of my free time, and with playing tennis daily and cooking at home more, I’ll only have so much free time in the evenings. I just want to make sure the 15 minutes stays fun instead of feeling like a chore.

Anyway, onto the 2015 plans!

the “big” projects to expand my skills:

Image from Closet Case Files website (click photo for link)

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans–first pair of jeans!
I know, I’ve been saying I’m working on these for like the past month, but I haven’t gotten past the first muslin. I cut a size 18, but it’s way too big (luckily, I basted everything together per the instructions, so I found out early on). I’m debating if I should cut one size smaller or even two sizes smaller, as I like my jeans pretty snug. I just need to make the decision and move forward. Indecision is a major weakness for me lately.

Image from Cloth Habit website (click photo for link)

Cloth Habit Watson Bra–first bra!
While I have almost no interest in making “real” bras (there’s an incredible bra store just down the street from me), I really want some cute, comfortable around-the-house ones. I also bought two kits from Blackbird Fabrics, so I need to put them to use!

Image from Deer & Doe website (click photo for link)

Deer & Doe Pavot Coat–first coat!
There’s not a huge need in Texas for coats, but my current RTW coat is way too big and just isn’t very flattering. The Pavot has always been my first coat-love, and it looks relatively simple, so it’s definitely the one I’d like to choose as my first coat.

for warm weather:

Image from Deer & Doe website (click photo for link)

Deer & Doe Datura Blouse
This top is so cute and will be perfect for hot Texas summers with a pair of shorts. I’d like to make it in some really light linen or chambray or voile–something drapey and soft and breezy!

Image from Grainline website (click photo for link)

Grainline Maritime Shorts
I want some basic shorts. I really like my Katy & Laney Tap Shorts, but I always feel as if the style is a little too cool for my not-very-cool style, and I end up feeling very conspicuous. Maritimes seem like the perfect pair of basic shorts.

Image from Deer & Doe website (click photo for link)

Deer & Doe Chardon Skirt
Skirts are my preferred choice of bottoms in the summer because they’re both cute and breezy, so I definitely want to make some more Chardons. I have a pretty mint-colored bottom-weight  I’ll probably use (unless it becomes Maritimes), and will likely use a bunch of my stashed quilting cottons too, since I tend to go for a lot of color in the summer.

Image from Closet Case Files website (click photo for link)

Closet Case Files Nettie Bodysuit
I made a muslin in 2014, but will need to make some changes in the shoulders before I can continue. I’ve been slowly learning that I My lack of fitting knowledge has been what’s really stopping me here, but I really just need to go for it, because I’d love to wear nothing but Netties & skirts in the summer. I have a few cute prints in my stash (polka dots and flowers!), but also want some solids.

Image from Deer & Doe website (click photo for link)

Deer & Doe Belladone Dress
As strange it sounds, Belladone kind of counts as icing for me, because the skirt is a little straight for my typical style of casual-wear. I may end up doing a circle-skirt version at some point? No fabric ideas yet.

Image from By Hand London website (click photo for link)

By Hand London Flora Dress
I love the cross-over bodice, but it’s definite icing for my life. The other bodice variation is a lot more casual to me, so that may be what I choose. No fabric ideas for this one yet either.

for cold weather:

These are things I may get around to making soon before it warms up in Texas (which, realistically, is like March/April). If not, I’ll slate them for when it gets colder again (which, realistically, is like November).

Image from Colette website (click photo for link)

Colette Zinnia Skirt
I really like the button-front version of this skirt, but I’d make it shorter so I can wear it easily with tights and boots for fall/winter. I quite like the navy with brown buttons in the sample, so I may just copy-cat.

Image from Closet Case Files website (click photo for link)

Flora Skirt a la Heather Lou
Heather Lou’s idea to turn Flora into a skirt is so smart, and I think I like it even more as a skirt than as a full dress! I really love the wool suiting she used, so I’d look for that or something similar.

Image from Deer & Doe website (click photo for link)

Deer & Doe Anemone
The peplum-skirt is a silhouette I’ve never really tried, but it seems like it would be adorable for fall/winter with tights & booties. I’d like to try this one in a tweed or some other kind of wool.

Image from Deer & Doe website (click photo for link)

Deer & Doe Bruyere Shirt
I don’t wear a lot of button-ups because any RTW ones I’ve purchased have never been very flattering, but I love the feminine shape of this one. It seems so comfy when paired with leggings and boots, while still looking very polished.

Image from Seamwork website (click photo for link)

Seamwork Manila Leggings
That tulip cuff is just too cute! Assuming the pattern fits well, I’d love to make a bunch of these to wear with oversized sweaters.


Wow, so, that’s a lot. Realistically, I highly doubt that I’ll make ALL of these things, but it’s nice to have so many ideas on paper to pull from when I’m not sure what project to work on next. With the exception of the Watson Bra and Maritime Shorts, I already own all of the patterns, so hopefully that will encourage me to use what I already have. But with so many incredible indie designers, I’m sure there will be many more items I add to my list as patterns are released throughout the year.

life lately 12/17/14

by Nicole on December 17, 2014

Wow, the last few months have just flown by. So let’s catch up, yeah?


We’ve started a new Saturday routine, and it’s made the weekends so enjoyable lately. First thing in the morning, we head out to Boggy Creek Farm, which is so much more peaceful than going to a farmers’ market. We get produce (always some kind of greens, some kind of starch, plus a few more vegetables), eggs, and maybe some fun pantry goods like smoked tomatoes or strawberry-fig jam. Then we drive to Dai Due to pick up meat. We particularly love their sausages, stocks, and chicken liver mousse, but all of their meat is great. From there, we walk to In.gredients, a fairly small little store that specializes in local items, and we’ll pick up whatever we need to round out our meals for the week–dried goods like oats or spices, locally-made tortillas and cheeses, maybe a bottle of local cider or some beer. Somewhere in there we stop for breakfast and coffee (new discoveries include Sawyer & Co., Sa-Ten, and Brew & Brew). We then go home and prep as much as we can for the week, usually spending a few hours in the kitchen. The new routine has given us each a surge of cooking inspiration, and it’s a great feeling to know you have tons of healthy, delicious, local food waiting in your fridge for you throughout the week!

I’m still in the routine of meditating each morning using Headspace, and it just gets better and better. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I cannot recommend it enough because it helps in ways you wouldn’t even think of. Not only are you more mindful in a world where it can be very hard to be, but it’s an excellent way to relieve stress, and an excellent way to improve the way you react to the world and to others.

We’re also still playing tennis (working our way back up to our usual 4-5/week after we both caught sucky colds). Afterwards, Darius plays basketball for about 5-10 minutes while I do a short run.

I feel in some ways as if I’ve finally cracked the code of the perfect routine for me. I think I am happiest when I feel healthy, strong, and vibrant in both body and mind. I’ve realized what’s actually going on in life doesn’t matter quite as much. So it’s become more important to me lately to eat well, exercise, meditate, and engage only in what actually feels fulfilling to me.


In case you didn’t see on Instagram, I got a new sewing machine as a very early Christmas present! And shortly thereafter, I picked up a serger during an Amazon sale (only $140 for a Brother 1034D!!).

So you’d think I’d be sewing like 24/7 now, right? WRONG. Immediately after I got my new machine, I took my first stab at being a tester for a new sewing pattern. Nothing against the pattern, but I quickly realized that the testing process is just not for me. I don’t like sewing things I’m not really feeling or that are frustrating me, and my first muslin showed I’d need a lot of changes to get a good fit, and even then, I didn’t actually like the style on me once I saw the garment. Ultimately, I decided to drop out of the testing process. I felt bad about changing my mind on them, but my free time is just worth so much to me that I didn’t want to slog my way through something that wasn’t making me happy. The experience gave me a tiny feeling of burnout, so my machines have been pretty much untouched for the past two weeks. But now I know myself better, and I can indeed say THANK YOU to all you selfless souls who are willing to put all that effort into testing!

(Photo from Closet Case Files)

The good news is that I’m off work all next week, and hope to spend a chunk of that time in my sewing room SEWING JEANS. Literally five seconds after reading about Heather Lou’s new Ginger Jeans pattern, I purchased one of the kits. The pattern is literally my perfect jeans pattern! (Can I say LITERALLY again? I mean, I’ve already said it twice in two sentences…) I’ve never made jeans before, so I’m a little scared, but I know the instructions will be great and the sewalong will be super helpful. I also bought a ton of stretch denim on sale for $4/yard–enough for six pairs, actually, so there will be plenty left over after muslins too!


After a huge hiatus, we rediscovered Pandemic and have been playing several times per week. Seriously, best board game ever.


By this point, I’m sure you have all heard of Serial. If not, you definitely need to check it out, but only if you are prepared to be ruined on podcasts forever because nothing else will ever compare again. I don’t want to say much about the podcast, other than that it’s a true life murder mystery that plays out little by little each week (and actually, tomorrow is the final episode). And if you like it, donate towards the second season!

I used to love Pandora, but had to take a break from it because it seemed it was always playing the same songs over and over again. I recently heard about Songza and have been playing around with it’s “Concierge” feature. You tell it what you’re doing, like working, then drill in with options like “cleaning out your inbox: pumped-up hits” or “playing office DJ: indie” and then it gives you three different playlist options. There are also stations by activity (like “being creative”, “going for a bike ride”, and “waking up on the right side of the bed”), and playlists by mood.


(Photo from Louie Schwartzberg’s TED talk.)

This TED talk on nature, beauty, and gratitude is such a good reminder.

If you want something stupidly hilarious, you need to watch Nathan For You. Comedy Central describes it as, “A man armed with a business degree thinks he can give advice to people with struggling businesses.” Nathan’s advice is SO funny, but the reactions of the people he is “helping” are even funnier. Both seasons are currently streaming on Amazon Prime, and you might be able to find it on Comedy Central On-Demand too.

Darius and I re-watched Samsara recently, and I cannot recommend this movie enough. The scenes themselves are gorgeous, but the movie is also really moving and stays with you long after it’s over. You come away with a sense of how strange and connected and beautiful and weird our world is. Here’s the IMDB description: “Filmed over nearly five years in twenty-five countries on five continents, and shot on seventy-millimetre film, Samsara transports us to the varied worlds of sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial complexes, and natural wonders.”


Currently, I’m reading Oryx and Crake (which my mom got me for my birthday) and Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper (which my in-laws Jess & Mat got me for my birthday).

And my to-read list never ends. High on the list are The Cuckoo’s Calling, Casual Vacancy, I Am Malala, The Year of Magical Thinking, Wool, and What Alice Forgot. And I’ve sent a ton of samples to my Kindle recently that I can’t even remember.