Friday, January 31, 2014

Valentine's Day Nails Using YouTube Tutorials

Valentine's Day is only a couple weeks away, and I've painted my nails for the upcoming occasion.

I tend to follow various YouTube nail art tutorials when creating these types of designs. Here, I'll share the tutorials I used for a few of my nails.

Thumb: "simple dot rose nail art, sweet for Valentines day." by sewcrafty1
I started out by painting my nails a light blue. To create these roses, I used the four dots and swirl technique from this video with a dotting tool. Then, I added dark and light green leaves using stripers, which are just polishes that come with skinny brushes for precise designs.

I've also used the technique from this video by bubzbeauty to create roses. You can get similar results by using a toothpick instead of a dotting tool.

Index Finger: No YouTube tutorial required
I just painted my nails a pale pink color and added white dots using a dotting tool. Don't have a dotting tool? You can make your own by following this tutorial by cutepolish.

Middle Finger: "Valentine's Day Heart Nail Art Tutorial" by SimpleNailArtDesigns
OK, so this tutorial actually involves using tape with the shape of a heart cut into it as a stencil you put on your nail to create a heart-shaped gradient. I tried, and I failed miserably. But I did use a makeup sponge like the one shown in the video to create a gradient on my nail. Then, I added hearts in pink, blue and red using dotting tools. Cutepolish has a perfect technique for creating these types of hearts in this video.

Ring Finger: No YouTube tutorial required
I just painted my nails red, and then used a white striper to write an "X" and an "O."

Pinky: No YouTube tutorial required
I painted my nails a light blue, and then used a dotting tool to create a red heart. Then, I used a smaller dotting tool to create a smaller pink heart on top of the red. Again, cutepolish has a perfect technique for creating these types of hearts in this video.

What are your favorite YouTube nail art tutorials? How are you decorating your nails for Valentine's Day? Tell me in the comments!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My Visit to Playclothes Vintage Fashions in Burbank, CA

There's nothing quite like the thrill of hunting down a one-of-a-kind vintage piece and making it your own, and that's exactly what happened when I found this beautiful green dress during an October trip to Playclothes Vintage Fashions in Burbank, CA.

I was fortunate enough to make the journey to The Golden State to visit my sister, who lives just outside of Los Angeles, after I was laid off from my full-time job in the middle of the month. My parents just so happened to be in town, so the timing was perfect. The four of us hadn't been together in years.

Before I left, my sister asked me what I wanted to do during my visit. She planned to take us to an Oktoberfest celebration at Big Bear Lake, and she had tickets for herself, my mom and I to go to The Price is Right (our episode is airing Wednesday, Jan. 29, btw!).

I absolutely love to shop, especially for anything vintage, and after doing some research online, I gave my sis a list of about five vintage stores I wanted to check out. No. 1 on my list was Playclothes because of the great reviews from people who said the selection was amazing and easy to sort through. It's also a favorite of TV and movie costume designers. I was excited to see what treasures I'd find.

Although we weren't able to all go together, I did end up traveling to the store by myself--and it was just as awesome as I had hoped.

Playclothes is located in the historic Moorpark Pharmacy building, and it has neon signs that reflect the space's origins. The one that read "PRESCRIPTIONS" called to me as if it was saying: "Browse here to cure what ails ya."

I spent two hours combing through everything in the store. The selection was vast; there were so many vintage treasures just waiting for new homes. Most pieces were from the 1940s-80s, and there was a variety of clothing styles, accessories, jewelry and home furnishings.

Each clothing item was labeled with the decade it was from and the modern-day size equivalent. I ended up with this lovely emerald frock from the 1960s.

The bottom hem and the lining at the collar were both coming apart, so once I got back to Tampa, I had a tailor repair the dress. After a trip to the dry cleaner, it was ready for wear--my own little unique find.

Have you been to Playclothes? What trinkets did you find? What are the best vintage shops where you live? Tell me in the comments!

Outfit Details:
Vintage Dress from Playclothes Vintage Fashions
Vintage Purse
Vintage Jade Ring and Earrings (inherited from my grandmother)
Vintage Necklace

Monday, January 27, 2014

What's the Perfect Gift for a Writer?

Are you looking for the perfect present for the talented author or journalist in your life? Provided your wordsmith is of the feminine persuasion, a great gift might just be letterpress jewelry.

Made from old pieces of movable type that were once used for relief printing with ink, letterpress jewelry is a unique way to re-purpose these vintage materials.

My thoughtful fiance, Matt, gave me a letterpress necklace for my birthday last month from Etsy shop MIMAboutique. Shop owner Mi Ma uses authentic vintage letterpress pieces to create custom messages. Then, the text is printed once on a necklace card before it's cleaned and shipped. Mine says "Stret&Reamster," nicknames my fiance and I call each other.

After he saw how much I liked the necklace, Matt went a step further for Christmas and gifted me with a letterpress ring from Etsy shop Headcase Press. Shop owner Nicole Monforti creates collages of letters in varying sizes and typefaces. She offers rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, tie bars, cuff links and more. Nicole does custom orders, so you can pick which letters you'd like her to use. Matt asked her to incorporate my initials, AMR, into the piece.

When the ring ended up being too small for my ring finger, Nicole worked with Matt and ended up making a whole new ring with a larger band that now fits on my middle finger!

For this writer, these letterpress jewelry pieces are perfect. I absolutely love them!

Do you have letterpress jewelry or other re-purposed letterpress items? Tell me in the comments!

Outfit Details:
Letterpress Necklace from MIMAboutique
Letterpress Ring from Headcase Press
Urban Outfitters Dress (old, similar)
ModCloth Sweater (old)
Target Leggings
Payless Boots (old, similar)
Target Purse
ModCloth Scarf (old)
Anthropologie Leaf Necklace (old, similar on Etsy)
The Alchemy Shop Delicate Fox Ring

This post contains ModCloth and Urban Outfitters affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you click on them and make a purchase.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Current Obsession: Hmong Embroidery

Actually, a more accurate title would reflect my ongoing obsession with this age-old textile art.

I've been collecting purses and bags made from what I assume is new and re-purposed Hmong embroidery even before I knew what the style was. The beautiful vibrant colors and interesting geometric patterns are what drew me in.

These accessories provide an instant color pop to any outfit. But what makes them truly striking is the story behind them.

According to, a site that exhibits Hmong embroidery pieces, the technique was traditionally used by the Hmong people to decorate clothing and make it bright and beautiful. It was passed down from mothers to daughters.

When the Hmong people lived in China long ago, they weren't allowed to use their own written language, so the women began disguising the symbols as embroidered patterns on their skirts, the website states. Over time, the language was lost, so the original messages can't be translated.

I love wearing something that has such a mysterious history!

Do you have any Hmong embroidery pieces? Tell me in the comments.

Outfit Details:
Hmong Embroidered Bag and Quartz Ring from Earthbound Trading Company
Cubus Blouse (old; fashion souvenir from a 2011 trip to Finland)
Go Fish Clothing Shoes (old)
Antiqued Brass Hot Air Balloon Steam Punk Necklace from Etsy shop DreaminSteam
Francesca's Earrings (in store only; similar at The Silver Seahorse)

Outfit photos by my sweet fiance, Matt

This post contains Urban Outfitters affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you click on them and make a purchase.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

From Grandma With Love

Remember when I talked about how much I appreciate crafty talents? Well, one of the first people whose talent I adored was my grandmother.

She could crochet the simplest things, like a pot holder or washcloth, and make them look beautiful.

When I was in college in Virginia, I asked her to crochet a winter hat for me. I printed out a picture of what I wanted it to look like, bought the softest mint green yarn I could find, and handed everything to her. Within a week, I had the cutest little beanie I've ever owned.

My grandma passed away a few years ago, and I miss her every day, but I'm so glad I have some of her hand crocheted items that still remind me of the love and care she showed to me and others throughout her life. (I may or may not be getting teary-eyed right now.)

Anyway, I wanted to publish another outfit post today, but my hair was a mess, so I threw on this hat and built my outfit around it. The dress and blouse are both from ModCloth, which is perfect because I'll be posting one of the pictures below to the ModCloth Style Gallery.

The Style Gallery is a place where you can share your own outfit photos with others in the ModCloth Community. Any outfit is accepted--the clothes don't have to be from ModCloth!

Recently, ModCloth added a special feature to the Style Gallery that allows you to follow your favorite contributors. They're having a Follow Your Faves Contest through Jan. 27 to promote follows. The most-followed contributor gets a $100 gift certificate.

Check out the Style Gallery to see what it's all about, and while you're there, give my profile a follow!

Like my nails? Here's a tutorial: How to Put Your Dog on Your Nails.

Outfit Details:
Coach Tour Dress in Bleu from ModCloth
Pam Breeze-ly Tunic from ModCloth (sold out, similar)
Target Tights (old, similar)
Tamaris Shoes (old; fashion souvenir from a 2011 trip to Finland)
Urban Outfitters Purse (old)
Old Navy Locket (old)
Delicate Fox Animal Ring in Platinum Plate from The Alchemy Shop and my January Wish List
Druzy Ring (gift)

Photos by my sweet fiance, Matt

This post contains ModCloth and Urban Outfitters affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you click on them and make a purchase.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The 'Wheel' Deal on My Bicycle Outfit

Like that title? I absolutely stole "'wheel' deal" from ModCloth's cute description of the Ride Here, Right Now Dress.

The quirky bicycle print on this dress inspired the styling of my accessories and the photos. It's a bit of bike overload, but I'm not apologizing!

I've been riding my bike a lot lately for exercise, and I love that Cleo can come along with me in the basket. It might look like a tight fit with all her fluff, but she's perfectly content to sit in her little compartment and take in all the sites as we ride through the neighborhood.

Although it's gotten pretty cold here the past couple days, Florida has the perfect weather to facilitate year-round bike rides. And to wear this adorable dress.

The dress comes with its own belt, but I wanted something more substantial.

Like my nails? Here's a tutorial: How to Put Your Dog on Your Nails.

Outfit Details:
Victoria's Secret Sweater (old)
Torrid Belt (old)
Urban Outfitters Shoes (old)
Icing Backpack (old, similar)
American Eagle Long Bicycle Necklace (old)
Short Bicycle Necklace and Earrings (gifts, similar at Bicycle Gift Hub)

Photos by my sweet fiance, Matt

This post contains ModCloth and Urban Outfitters affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you click on them and make a purchase.