All Aboard

by Valerie on Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I kept my outfit neutral, wanting the make-up to emphasize all the color. But it wasn’t applied dramatically enough to show through the camera and instead ended up looking like I was crying all night. Oh well.

I like the way red and green look together; they are complementary. But for some people, it looks too much like Christmas. What do you think—hit or miss?

I made this basic striped shift dress for me, but ended up liking the fit so much that it’s now a new addition to the shop.

I ordered these shoes for two reasons: 1. because Keds never go out of style, and 2. to enter the Chictopia/Keds contest. But they arrived one day shy of deadline. Damn it.

I bent down and yelled Hello! into one of those hollow poles behind me. But it didn’t say anything back.

military jacket – Ralph Lauren (borrowed from my boyfriend’s closet)
silver rings – gifts from Loraine
studded bangle – self-made
striped mini – Neneee (self-made)
shoes – Keds

Weekend Recipe: Fresh Lumpia

by Valerie on Sunday, May 16, 2010

Today I’ll show you how to make one of my favorite staple foods. Fresh lumpia comes in different varieties. There’s the minty Thai version, the light Filipino version, but my absolute favorite is the delicious Vietnamese version. I like to have this right after a good run because it’s heavy in refined carbs, but also has some lean protein and healthy fats thrown in for good measure. It’s just what your body needs to replenish those glycogen stores.

(makes 4 servings)

for lumpia:
8 large dry rice papers (or 16 small ones)
2 cups rice noodles (boiled and strained)
4 pieces romaine lettuce
1 cup bean sprouts
2 pork chops (vegetarians can substitute with tofu [I’m looking at you, TOOTS!])
12 pieces cocktail shrimp
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup hot water

for dipping sauce:
peanut butter
club soda

To prepare the ingredients first rinse your veggies. Cook rice noodles to the recommended time on its package and strain. Slice and salt pork to taste and steam; trim the fat. Then butterfly your shrimp all the way in half.

Add hot water and sesame oil in a deep-ish plate. Dip rice paper for about 5 seconds on each side making sure all ends are covered in the mixture; try not to soak the wrapper for too long ’cause it’ll soften as you add the filling. Lay it out on a flat surface like a cutting board or in this case, a sushi roller. *Note: I’m using 2 small overlapping pieces of rice paper. You can also use 1 large piece instead—it’s actually easier—but our grocery store was sold out.

Now, about 2 inches from the end of your wrapper, layer your lettuce, rice noodles, bean sprouts, pork, and more rice noodles in that order. Try not to overload on ingredients because it might make the wrapping part a toughie. Fold the 2 inch excess wrapper tautly over ingredients, then do the same for each side. Roll once.

Then lay 2-3 pieces of shrimp orange side up just above the wrapped portion and roll ’til the end. Done. You can repeat the same process for as many pieces of lumpia you like.

For the sauce, I didn’t make any precise measurements, but instead mixed just about equal parts hoisin and peanut butter (maybe a little more peanut butter, I love peanut butter!). With club soda, I diluted the mixture until it reached the consistency of a creamy salad dressing like Ranch. I’m pretty sure restaurants use 7-up, but didn’t want to add any unnecessary sugar to an already sweet mixture.

Serve immediately and enjoy ^_^ om nom nom!

Puzzle Pieces

by Valerie on Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How cool is it to find the ultimate present for your mom in the toy department? She can spend months on end assembling her 10,000 count jigsaw puzzle, admire its completion for five minutes, then take it all apart and toss every piece back in their box like it isn’t anything. WTH. If you want to know where I inherit my OCD tendencies from… Thanks, Mom!

One time, Francis and I worked on a jigsaw puzzle together. This was a very long time ago—when our metabolism was more forgiving and we were still easily upset by things beyond our control. When he would wait for me to clock out at the corner of the bar, meanwhile slipping little haiku’s written on the back of beer labels or prose on paper towels into my jacket pocket whenever I served him his next round. Still very restless after hours, I’d hijack borrow a bottle of Black Label from inventory and a liter of Coke and with that, we’d plop down on my back yard and talk about absolutely nothing.

What I remember him saying was, “Did you know Courtney Love used to be a stripper on Guam?” and I said, “Ah, you read Spin, too?” And there was something familiar in somebody whom I didn’t have much in common with. Like feeling at home in a foreign country; that’s how I wanted to get people, how I wanted to be gotten. Even if we both felt a little smug in our knowledge of the most random useless information. Blame it on adolescent arrogance if you will.

Another time brought us well into sunrise. We took a drive to 7-11 in my beat down piece-of-crap ’92 Jeep Grand Cherokee for the largest cup of butter toffee coffee ’cause it was too late (or technically, early) to fall asleep and the chemical that tells your brain to wake up when sunlight dilates your pupils had already kicked in. We found ourselves crashed out on my bed by afternoon only to wake up still dressed in the previous night’s attire with bloody bad breath and boogers in our eyes and no weird feelings about sleeping together without ever actually, you know, sleeping together.

“Sorry I left without saying bye. You were still asleep and I needed to take a dump. I’ve been thinking about you all day though; I even thought about you in the crapper,” he said. A regular Casanova.

The things I come away with from those days—a dozen crinkled Bounty sheets, a magazine subscription circa 2004, a completed jigsaw puzzle—sentimental reminders of a time during courtship and carelessness. At first glance they don’t amount to much, but there’s something to be said about that. Something The Sunday Best said well, best when he quoted so-and-so (I forget who) in defense of fashion, “‘You can’t have depth without a surface.'”

straw boater hat – eBay
pink jabot top – reconstructed Kamiseta
denim shortalls – thrifted Calvin Klein
bag – Jill Stuart
mint sandals – Ecote

They Smell of Moss in Your Hand

by Valerie on Thursday, May 6, 2010

braided headband – eBay
charcoal knit cardigan – Forever 21
jabot blouse – Zara
black velvet bow – diy
rock bracelet – gift from Michelle
brown leather belt – Polo
kelly green shorts – gift from Lydia
lace oxfords – cool, casual by Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Lydia, my internet pal over at Style is Style sent these shaweet shorts for a clothes swap we did last month. After going through her box of goodies, I knew it was the first of the bunch that I wanted to wear. But as with most vintage pieces, it needed a couple of modern alterations before making its debut—taking in at the waist with some pleats and permanent cuffs at the hem.

Fit is so crucial to me. You can have a great fit in the grossest fabric and still look fantastic, but hardly ever vice versa. The truth is, I’ve been living in my jammies. mostly holed up sewing custom orders for the past month—with intermittent snack breaks over Breaking Bad reruns so as not to go completely bonkers. Sometimes I’m so preoccupied trying to dress other girls up nice and spiffy; it hardly affords any opportunities to dress myself up.

But over the weekend I read The Road by Cormac McCarthy and it kinda broke my heart and left me with an increasing need to ditch home and appreciate the outside world a little more. Well, that, and also we were down to our last slice of Roman Meal and last cup of Egg Beaters. And like the man and the boy, I was forced out of hibernation to make a quick food run.

So thankies Lydia for allowing me to do it in KELLY GREEN SHORTS! For sure, you’ll be seeing some of her other awesome picks in future style diary entries. But for now, look how cute she is in the cupcake skirt I made as a part of her care package:

You are not your soap dish

by Valerie on Thursday, April 15, 2010

I feel the same way about interior decor as I do about web design. That is, I’d rather strip it down to only the most essential. No flash (or flashy stuff) and if it doesn’t have some sort of utilitarian or sentimental value, then there’s no need keep it lying around.

This has something to do with an impressionable freshman year in high school and the first time I ever watched Fight Club. I remember entering my bedroom with a twenty gallon Rubbermaid bin for squeezing all useless crap into—all the Spawn collector’s action figures perched on top of my computer desk, all the fuzzy stuffed animals perfectly arranged on my perfect little twin-sized bed (save for a teddy bear from my nephew and gorilla from my big brother), all the hand-carved geometric scented candles that I never actually lit because its fancy form would melt into gunk. The more stuff you have, the more stuff you have to maintain, the more stuff you have to lose. It was a relief to stuff that burden into a giant plastic container and send it off to the goodwill.

But I mean, that’s not to say the practical stuff can’t also be awesome. Suramics offers these tiny tea bag rests in her etsy shop. But they also make nifty soap dishes—just the right size for those leftover bars of soap that are enough to build up a decent lather for your hands, but not on your entire body. I always feel guilty about letting those dry up in the shower rack and go to waste.

The dishes feature little hand drawn animals on them. Here’s one with a fox in our master bathroom:

And a bulldog for our guest bathroom:

Naturally, my favorites have to be the canids 😉 I’m considering this cute Dashchund for our kitchen, but hoping she’ll add more to her collection in the future. Maybe a Blue Dane or Chocolate Lab, or even a Jack Russel Terrier—I love their little eye patches! Especially when they extend to only one ear, it’s like a beautiful fault.

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