Freckles in April: April 2011

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fabric Painting Tutorial

See the dress in action over here

I did extensive research* to figure out how best to accomplish the watercolor effect on my dress. Basically, you want fabric with a tighter weave and it needs to be able to tolerate and absorb water (no dry clean only fabrics!). If you buy your fabric new, make sure to read the wash instructions on the end of the bolt. Mine was cold wash and line dry. I did the initial pre-paint wash in the washing machine but I'll hand wash the finished dress in the future. Better safe than sorry.

*10 minutes of Googling

My fabric drying in the sun

To test fabrics I snuck a water bottle into Joann's with me and used my finger to put a tiny drop on the corner of the silk I was eying. If the water beads on the surface of the fabric then your paint won't sink in either. The drop should absorb into the fabric.


Fabric (I read that cotton/poly blends work best but my cheap silk worked great and I tried 100% cotton this weekend and it was fine)
Spray bottle filled with water
Fabric paints
Little bowls for holding paints

First, you want to mix your paints with water. The most paint you want is a 50/50 mixture. Any more paint than that and your finished product will feel stiff. Mine was like 30% paint and if I were to do it again I think I would dilute it even more for a better watercolor effect.

I just took the front piece for my dress and laid it on the grass in my backyard so I didn't have to do any real prep work. But if you're doing a shirt or something like that you'll want to cover some cardboard in wax paper or maybe foil and put it inside the shirt. Otherwise the paint will bleed through big time.

Take your water bottle and spritz your fabric real well. The water acts as a conduit for your paint and will make it kind of bleed and feather at the edges.

Start painting! I suggest testing on a scrap first to get a feel for how the color will spread.

I painted a bit then spritzed it with water then painted some more. Play around with it until you get the effect that you want. I just used those cheapy foam brushes from Joann's but I'm sure using different sized brushes would be cool too. I also really wanted to try putting the water/paint mixture in spray bottles but I only had one on hand and I needed it for the water.

For the orange on my dress I just mixed the paint, dipped my fingers in, then flicked it on to the fabric.

It kind of looks like I got splattered with spaghetti sauce. Maybe try a different color if you go that route.

Keep spritzing with water and adding color. When it looks good let it dry. I left mine in the sun and it was dry super fast. My paints don't say anything about heat setting but I did anyway. Put a cloth of some sort down on your ironing board (I used a flour sack tea towel) then put your fabric paint side down on the cloth. Iron on the hottest setting allowed for your fabric.

Love painting on fabric? Try my moon phase tee tutorial!


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Friday, April 29, 2011

New Shirt From an Old Shirt

Things you do not normally see on my blog: yoga pants

A couple months ago I made Aaron go through his closet and give me whatever he didn't want. I ended up with two of his collared shirts. One became a skirt and the other hung out in my closet while I figured out what to do with it.

Eventually I decided I just wanted to take it in. I love button up shirts and I can always use another one.

I turned it inside out and laid a shirt that fits me well on top. I traced around with my fabric marking pen, did a quick sewing job and voila. Freeeee new shirt.

The fit is a little looser and quite long with dropped shoulders. It's super comfortable. My favorite way to wear it is with skinny jeans-

Wearing Aaron's reworked shirt, necklace by me, jeans from Kohls, Toms wedges

Best part of these pictures? The dead tree attacking my head.

 But it also works tucked into my favorite skirt-

Wearing Aaron's reworked shirt, Target necklace, department store skirt (old), Steve Madden heels from Last Chance

Tyra would be wondering where my neck went

And, in other shirt news, let me introduce you to my freshman roommate, Nicole (you can call her Miss Micoe):

She got style.
Roomies 4eva

Nicole loved that one ruffled shirt as much as we all did but instead of spending like 3 hours trying to locate the original (not that I did that), she made her own. And took some super awesome pictures in the process.

Love it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dress Details

I'm super busy today getting ready for the skirt party (pray we don't kill the breaker with the sewing machines!) so I thought I'd just leave you with a few non-blown out pictures of my watercolor dress.

I'm working on a fabric painting tutorial that should be going up on Tuesday. It's super easy, I promise!

See it in action on my birthday post!

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Birthday Recap

Can we just talk about how amazingly awesome my birthday was??

First, Janssen wrote this incredibly sweet post that maaaybe made me tear up just a tiny bit every time I read it (which was like 6 times throughout the day). One of the great tragedies of my life is that she is not my next door neighbor. How did I get so blessed with such a friend??

There were like a million wonderful comments and facebook messages which just made me feel super loved all day long (THANK YOU!!). Also, I currently have 26 comments on my birthday post. *twilight zone music*

Definitely RA sent me this AWESOME ecard

It really does not get much better than this.

Another dear friend brought me purple balloons tied with twirly ribbons. Raquel dropped off some deep fried nutella wontons (they were as amazing as they sound). There were lots of lovely gifts throughout the day from friends and family.

We dropped off the kids with my parents and Aaron took me to one of our favorite restaurants (we had our pre-wedding dinner there!). And I got to wear my new dress. And take crazy windy outfit pictures in front of a helicopter. Because why not?

Wearing earrings from my in-laws, dress by me, bangles from Last Chance, Steve Madden heels via Last Chance

I really wanted a new dress for my birthday but nothing was really striking my fancy at a price point I was interested in. And then Madeline posted about this watercolor dress last week and I was like, "THAT."

So, fabric paints + 3 yards of white silk + Burda's Anda pattern + some tweaking = watercolor birthday dress! When I showed Aaron he said, "It either looks really expensive or homemade." Sweet.

I think I'm going to paint it some more. Maybe wrap it around the back a bit. I have plenty of paint left to play with, so why not? Also, I made that tie from leftover silk but next time I want to try it with my blue belt. The sash kept coming untied. Kind of annoying.

26 is going to be good. I can feel it.

Want to see how I made this dress? Hop over to my fabric painting tutorial! Looking for a similar project? Try this dip-dye skirt/dress!


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The Wednesday Want

Design Mom posted about these straight leg linen jeans a couple weeks ago and I've had them in an open tab in my browser ever since. They look so wonderfully comfortable and lightweight and they come in five different colors and two lengths.

(I also really like this stripey dress)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

26 on the 26th

Today is my golden birthday. I really wanted to do something big and special to celebrate but, as it often does, life got busy.

Instead, here is a list of 13 things I have accomplished by age 26 (not in any particular order):

1. Got married
2. Birthed 2 offspring
3. Ran a few 5ks
4. Went to college
5. Went to nine foreign countries (England, Scotland, Wales, Mexico, Bahamas, Costa Rica, Honduras, Cayman Islands, Belize)
6. Read 146 books in one year (Janssen and I had a friendly competition in 2009. I kept track of my pages too: 45,671)
7. Participated in NaNoWriMo (same year as the book wars. It was a very literary year)
8. Stopped biting my nails
9. Ate an entire Cafe Rio burrito in one sitting
10. Swam with dolphins
11. Overcame my dislike of vegetables
12. Went on a road trip by myself
13. Took (somewhat mediocre) outfit pictures in (a pretty neat spot in) public

Wearing headband by me, Hanes shirt, Gap pants, thrifted wedges
Horseshoe necklace from Target, family necklace gift from my sis, other necklace is hiding but it was from church

Outfit inspiration

Here is a list of 13 things I hope to accomplish in the next 26 years (in no particular order):

1. Birth another child.
2. Write a book
3. Visit more foreign countries
4. Learn how to use power tools
5. Build something cool with power tools
6. Sew something from an actual pattern. Maybe a dress?
7. Run a half marathon
8. Get something I write published (and not on my blog)
9. Celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary
10. Read more good books (and don't bother finishing mediocre ones)
11. Grow my own vegetables
12. Stop being such a nervous flyer
13. Be a better wife, mother, sister, daughter, teacher and friend.

Every birthday I tell Aaron that I'm just getting better with age. Each year I feel more confident, more relaxed, more beautiful and comfortable in my own skin. I'm kind of excited to see what 40 feels like. But for now I'm pretty happy being 26.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Secret Weapon

I think I am not alone in the fact that I sometimes do not feel like cooking. I really do enjoy dinking around in my kitchen but I get burnt out sometimes and I just want a quick and easy meal.

Enter the Pato.

The other side of the can says "Salsa de Chile Fresco." Just so you know.

This sauce plus chicken or beef in the crockpot (or, if you're short on time, in a covered saucepan on the stove) equals super easy taco meat. Throw in some guacamole, cheese, tortillas (homemade. Or not. Your call), and lots of leafy greens and dinner is served.


In case you can't quite read that-

Contains: tomato puree, water, chiles, onions, garlic, salt and spices.
May contain trace amounts of FD&C Yellow #5.

Yes, that last ingredient is kind of scary BUT the rest of the list? I know what those things are. This is my idea of a good compromise. It makes dinner prep a little faster and easier and is mostly whole foods friendly. Plus, it's DELICIOUS.

Just thought I'd share.

Spring Skirt Number 5

This isn't a sewing project but it was still an undertaking. I like dyeing things in theory but in practice it's always a lot of messy work with mixed results. \

I've had this long white and black skirt for ages but I haven't worn it in a while because it got a couple weird yellow spots right in front. They weren't super obvious but they were definitely there and I couldn't get them out. I set the skirt aside and figured some day I'd know what to do with it.

I bought some RIT dye for another project that ended up not happening so I decided to use it on the skirt.

I dyed the whole thing orange but, to my consternation, the dye was SUPER attracted to the spots and those areas became glaring splotlights. So I took some royal blue dye and just dipped the top in enough to cover the spots. The end result makes me feel a bit like a walking sunset.

Wearing Gap shirt, JCPenney undershirt, Aaron's belt, old skirt, Steve Madden sandals from Ross
The dye job is a little crazy but I love it. Aaron loves it too and I got stopped three times in the grocery store by women asking about my skirt (two were over 65, but still).

Also, I've always worn it as a skirt before but I kind of prefer it as a dress-

Wearing DEB undershirt, JCPenney belt, old shirt I cut open to make a cardigan, etsy earrings, Steve Madden heels from Last Chance

Like this post? Then you may also like this DIY watercolor dress I made!

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Whole Foods Recipe: Pasta with Bacon and Asparagus

If you are even remotely considering changing up your diet, now is the time to do it. Spring and Summer produce is upon us and it's so much easier to eat well when you've got lots of yummy fresh fruits and veggies at your fingertips. It's way harder in the winter when you're limited to apples, citrus, and winter squashes (I'm so sick of butternut right now).

This recipe has been a favorite for a while. I adapted it from another recipe that is apparently no longer online but involved peas (not my fav).

This is one of those recipes that you really need to have everything chopped and measured and ready before you turn on the stove. Otherwise you'll be frantically chopping and stirring and super annoyed at yourself. Not that I know from experience or anything.

mise en place

Also, I don't know if bacon counts as a whole food (it's a gray area) but this recipe wouldn't be nearly as good without it so oh well.

Pasta with Bacon and Asparagus

1 pound dry pasta (I always use the homemade stuff)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
3 tablespoons heavy cream
zest of 1/2 lemon
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 yellow onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 1/2 cups asparagus, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 cups chopped spinach
salt and freshly ground black pepper
torn fresh basil leaves

1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and toss with the olive oil.

2. While the pasta is cooking, in a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, Parmesan cheese, heavy cream and lemon zest.

3. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the bacon pieces and cook until the bacon is crisp and cooked through. Use a slotted spoon and remove the bacon, keeping as much of the bacon drippings in the pan as possible.

4. Return the pan (with the bacon drippings) to medium heat. Add the onions and asparagus and saute until the onions are softened, about 2 minutes. Add the minced garlic, basil and spinach and saute an additional 30 seconds until fragrant.

5. Turn the heat to medium-high and whisk in the egg/cream mixture. Let the sauce bubble briefly and then quickly add in the pasta and the cooked bacon (you don't want too much of the egg/cream mixture to evaporate, so work quickly)

6. Toss so that the ingredients are well mixed throughout. When the pasta is heated through (about 4 minutes) season with salt and pepper to taste (go easy on the salt - remember the bacon is salty and you've salted the pasta water.) Add additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.

A 50 Picture Day

Wearing Macy's? shirt, Gap jeans, Toms wedges, Necklace from Last Chance, cuff from street vendor in the Bahamas and bracelet that was a gift from my mom

Most days the outfit pictures are easy. I get dressed, I go outside, I take a couple pictures, DONE. Move on with life.

Today was not like that. I took over 50 pictures. FIFTY. Between the wind and my inability to stop making stupid faces it was pretty much one terrible picture after another. That one above? Is the best of the bunch. No lie. And for that I would like to thank the bug that flew right by my face.

Despite this fact, I think this might be my favorite outfit out of all the ones I've posted here on this little blog. It felt very me in all the best ways.

The front tuck wins!

I wasn't sure I was on board with the wide leg trend but turns out I already own some, so...guess I'm on board. I finally decided I really like them as long as I wear them with my wedges (plus mine aren't super wide, which I prefer. Moderation! And I like the double button).

QUICK! What time was it when I took this picture!

It's taking you a long time to read that clock, isn't it? You Child of the Digital Age you.

(It was 12:37 and 42 seconds)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring Skirt Number 4. Also: BRAVERY

Wearing Old Navy shades, DownEast shirt, skirt by me, Seychelles sandals via Last Chance, bracelets from Last Chance, earrings from in-laws, ring from Charlotte Russe

This picture was taken in front of my house. Sure, I ran inside even when I THOUGHT I heard a car (which was every 2 seconds because it was windy), but still. Gold star for venturing forth, I say.

My hat is way way off to all the fashion bloggers who blithely go into public places and take their outfit pictures. I'm just not sure I have it in me.


I whipped this skirt up in well under an hour last night. The pros: I like the shape. I love the waistband. The cons: it looks like a bed sheet. Which makes sense because that's what it was in its former life. A much beloved blue striped bed sheet.

One Year

Chocolate + vanilla bean cake, cream cheese filling and chocolate frosting

One year ago today-

Last belly picture taken in L&D triage at almost 40 weeks. I was large and in pain.

Pain gone. Sunshine! Rainbows! SO much love.

Having a second child was so odd to me. I had one child who I knew completely, inside and out. He was my sidekick, my constant companion, my little love. And then I had this total stranger growing in my belly. I was worried I wouldn't know how to love another baby quite like I loved my little Stinky.

And then Baby 2 was born.

I struggled to bond with Stinky at first. I was brand new to motherhood and he spent his first 2 weeks in the NICU. I had a hard time seeing that tiny darling thing in the isolette as mine. Not so with Baby 2. They plopped his hefty 8+ pound bod on my chest in the OR while my belly was still yawning open. I looked into that bitty round grumpy face and knew.

Baby 2 is one today. Being his mommy is like having my heart beating outside my body and teetering around covered in dirt and unknown sticky substances.

Over the past month a few freckles have popped up on his sweet round cheeks.

That's my baby.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pay What You Want Art

You guys remember the beautiful Caitlin of Hue and Hum? Her guest post was all about the amazing clothes she has made for her rock star husband but she's also an incredibly talented artist-

She regularly offers prints of her work for sale on her blog but, here's the thing

You pay what you want.

For reals. Those prints you see above are the ones she's currently offering for sale for Mother's Day (or, you know, for whatever. Like the super special occasion known as Thursday night). If you want to pick one up for yourself or for your mom or BFF (for a price you get to choose!) just hop on over to her blog!

PS You guys, Blogger hates me. The link to Ralphie's blog is now working. I seriously have no idea why my links keep breaking but it's making me feel stabby. But really, her blog is gorgeous and you should go visit. 
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