Sunday, January 31, 2010

a hint of lace

Yesterday, I dug out some lace fabric from the bottom of my sewing box. There wasn't enough lace to make anything substantial, but I've been seeing a lot of these bandeaus being sold at American Apparel, Urban Outfitters, Aritzia and the like. They're perfect for a layering piece (a little scandalous to wear on its own, no?), but not much else... which doesn't justify the $15 price tag. So I thought I'd make my own thrifty version with some sewing box leftovers!

Time: less than 1 hour Cost: $0!
A step by step guide...

1. Measure the amount of lace required to cover the bust by wrapping the lace around your front torso. Add 1" to each side, to account for seams. Using these measurements, cut 2 rectangles (one will be for the front, and one for the back). For myself, I cut two 11" by 5" rectangles.

2. Mark the midline on one of your rectangles - this will be the front of the bandeau. On your sewing machine (or alternatively, you can do this by hand), make wide stitches along the midline. DO NOT REVERSE STITCH - you want to be able to pull the end threads to scrunch up the centre of the rectangle.

3. Pull the loose threads to scrunch up the midline of the bandeau. When the scrunching is even, tie up the loose ends and clip any excess thread.

4. Sew the left and right sides of the front piece to the second rectangle (back piece). Make sure to reinforce the stitching!

The finished product

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

treasure hunting

Saturday morning was spent exploring the vintage stores in downtown Kitchener. Armed with an open mind, a bottle of water (gotta stay hydrated!) and my friend's impeccable sense of direction (better than a map, I swear), we ventured through the streets of Kitchener in search of some thrifted goodies.

Though I'm not quite the vintage veteran that my friend is, I scored a beautiful envelope clutch for the even more beautiful price of $3! But I do have to mention that Nadia walked away with more than I did, and paid less. I'm quite jealous.

A quick compilation of the stores we visited today:

Out of the Past
100 Queen Street South, Kitchener
The obligatory thrift-store incense smell hit me as soon as I walked in... never quite adapted to it the whole time I was shopping there. Interesting selection of clothing, thought not in the best condition. They were charging $12 for a bucket purse that was clearly ripping with a broken clasp. And a LOT of polyester... I felt like I was swimming in it.

Rockway Mennonite Thrift Store
137 King Street East, Kitchener
For a thrift store, I was pleasantly surprised by the condition of the items they were selling. Fantastic variety of household goods - wine glasses, plates, teapots, and other trinkets - all at amazing prices.

In Orbit
213 King Street West, Kitchener
I've always passed by this store whenever I make my cupcake runs to The Cake Box, but I never felt compelled to go inside. It's actually a lot larger than I thought it would be, and it's filled with housewares, some interesting furniture (mostly chinoiserie that's way overpriced), and decent-sized record selection at the back of the store. The highlight of their stock is their beautiful collection of Jackie O-inspired dresses. But unless someone throws a 60's party in the near future, I don't think you'll be seeing me in those dresses anytime soon.

Patina Vintage Consignments
205 King Street South, Waterloo
Definitely saved the best for last! Walking into this tiny store was like walking into the closet of a stylish lady-who-lunches. Ethereal dresses, dainty beaded purses, stylish hats, colourful scarves... and I could go on and on. The clothing was in great condition and of great fabrication (silks! wools! mohair!) Fell in love with a beautiful silk skirt but it was about 10 sizes too big. I'll definitely be back again - especially since Sabletine, my new favourite bakery, is right next door!

Cute trinkets at Rockway Mennonite Thrift Store

Records at In Orbit

Mirror mirror on the wall... one day you shall be mine!

The prettiest scarves at Patina Vintage

I felt like we were raiding some fashionable old lady's closet

The great wall of purses (the picture doesn't do it justice)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

american apparel is coming to waterloo! h&m is coming to waterloo!

Yes, a few of my favourite stores are landing in little ol' Waterloo very soon. H&M is set to appear in Conestoga Mall (in the old food court space), while American Apparel is opening shop beside the Uptown Waterloo LCBO.

In other news, Topshop is in talks to open small boutiques within select HBC stores. I predict a very stylish forecast in the season to come...

So let's raise a glass of Pabst and nonchalantly shrug in celebration. Cheers!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

chain reaction

I was feeling a little creative this week, and so I ventured into Michaels in search of something to play around with. These little treasures ended up following me home:

A few lengths of chain (reasonably priced at about $2 a pop!)

Jump rings and lobster claws

Some adorable bow charms

I was originally planning to bling out a black t-shirt dress with loads of chains. For a second I forgot about the laws of physics and started piling them on... when eventually I realized that t-shirt + heavy chains = sagging (damn you, gravity!). I was pretty horrified by the results, to say the least. Back to square one?

Thankfully, one thing led to another and I ended up with this happy accident. Hurray for DIY jewellery!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

secrets from the recipe box I: truffle making

From top:
Dark Chocolate Orange Truffle (dark chocolate ganache with orange extract, enrobed in white chocolate); Hazelnut Chai Truffle (milk chocolate ganache with hazelnuts and chai tea, rolled in cocoa powder); Peppermint Crunch Truffle (mint chocolate ganache with crushed candy cane pieces, enrobed in dark chocolate); Sugar and Spice Truffle (milk/dark chocolate ganache with cinnamon and nutmeg, rolled in turbinado sugar);

I received the most adorable recipe box as a Christmas present this year, and I've already begun to fill it with some of my most cherished (read: foolproof) recipes. Today I thought I'd share my yearly Christmas tradition*... truffle making! I've found a lot a random truffle recipes online and in cookbooks, but this one that I've adapted from a Sobeys catalog seems to have the best consistency. Not to mention it is practically foolproof (unlike those chocolate covered cherries we tried to make last year, eh Steph?)

*this is the second time I've made truffles at Christmastime, thus officiating it as a "yearly tradition".

Foolproof Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients (makes about 18 small truffles)
  • 150 grams good-quality chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup 35% whipping cream
  • flavouring agents - cinnamon, nutmeg, flavoured liqueurs, peppermint extract, orange extract, the possibilities are only limited by your creativity!
  • fine cocoa powder for coating
  • optional: chocolate for coating truffles
  1. Heat the whipping cream in a small saucepan, until bubbles just begin to break the surface.
  2. Pour heated whipping cream over chopped chocolate.
  3. LET SIT 5 MINUTES (this step is extremely important! Otherwise, the layers will separate and you will be left with a oily, gooey mess. I would know - this has happened to me twice...damn my impatience!)
  4. Stir the whipping cream and chopped chocolate until mixture (called ganache) is smooth. If you are adding any flavouring agents, now would be the time to mix them in.
  5. Refrigerate for 1.5-2 hours, or until ganache is hardened.
  6. With a melon-baller, scoop out small balls of ganache and roll into a ball with your hands.
  7. Roll the ganache in cocoa powder until completely covered.
  8. If you would like to cover the truffle in a coat of chocolate, skip step 7. Instead, heat the chocolate in a double boiler (or in a microwave at low power, in spurts of about 30 s). With a small spoon, dip the ganache ball into the melted chocolate until completely coated. Set on wax paper and refrigerate until chocolate has hardened.

Monday, January 4, 2010

hello to a new year, hello to a new blog

Hello to 2010! Dawn of a new decade, but more importantly (at least to me), dawn of some new endeavours I've been cooking up as part of my new year's resolutions.

Project one: start a blog to document my projects (check).
Project two: build my repertoire of dessert recipes (it can't just be red velvet cupcakes all the time...)
Project three: revisit some old sewing projects that have been sitting in the bottom of my closet for quite some time. Perhaps I'll even be able to make some new ones (oh, how I miss fashion class).

Time to get happy about (sweet) nothings.