DIY, travel

Upcycled skirt at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

Last month, we headed to the Mojave desert for a long weekend of camping and wildflower seeking. We drove out to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve on the first day and it was a dream. I wanted to make a new dress to wear but didn’t have time. So, I pulled a dress out of my ‘to mend’ pile, cut the straps in half and managed to tie it into a skirt. I purchased the dress on Etsy several years ago but never wore it because it was quite unflattering. It was made of beautiful material though. On the car ride up to the desert, I pulled the details off the original straps and sewed them up the skirt with some pearl beads. It turned out beautiful for a last minute upcycle, though I’ll actually add a real zipper to it eventually. The wildflowers are just about gone for the year but I recommend a trip up next early Spring. It was so stunning in person.

Upcycled dress at poppy fields from Typhoon Tessie IMG_9881 IMG_0047 IMG_0680 Here’s the original dress. I bought it on Etsy four years ago but never wore it because the shape of the dress was terrible for the shape of my body. IMG_0542 IMG_9902 IMG_9923 IMG_9981 IMG_9929 IMG_9944 IMG_9969 IMG_0067 IMG_0080 IMG_0707 IMG_9819

baking, dessert, DIY, drinks, friends, Valentines

30th Birthday Celebration!

Three of my girlfriends from high school all turned 30 within a month and a half, so I had a mini celebration for them. Granted, they’re all now 33 but c’est la vie.

Courtney loves gin and tonics, so I made her lime flavored cupcakes with gin frosting and candied limes on top. In high school, Lori was packing for a trip to Guatemala and I came over to help her pack, bringing over her favorite Rite Aid ice cream- pineapple coconut. It still makes me think of her, so I made her pineapple cupcakes with coconut frosting. Erin loves coffee, so I made her caramel frappuccino cupcakes. It ended up just being me and three birthday ladies, but we managed to finish of A Lot of the cupcakes.

I choose pink, red and hearts for the decorations since my house was already decorated for Valentine’s Day. I made this fun window display with doilies, glitter and wax paper crayon hearts. It looked prettiest with the sun shining through.
A 30 and more hearts from paper from the dollar section at Target.
the birthday cupcakes
Caramel Frappuccino cupcake: chocolate mocha cake (chocolate cake mix with a tablespoon of instant coffee added) filled with coffee mousse and Trader Joes salted caramel sauce. Topped with coffee mousse buttercream (regular buttercream with a few tablespoons of the coffee mousse added) and Trader Joe’s chocolate/sugar/coffee bean grinder and heart sprinkles. I think we unanimously agreed that this was the best.
Gin and Tonic cupcake: lime cupcake with gin mascarpone frosting, topped with a candied lime and heart sprinkles.

And the individual picture of the Coconut Pineapple cupcake went missing: pineapple coconut cupcake with coconut buttercream frosting, topped with a little bit of pineapple and heart sprinkles

I used a silver sharpie to decorate some cheap paper cupcake toppers
friends for over half of our lives
I served Palomas with little tags so that we wouldn’t mix up our drinks.
my mom’s glasses with a pretty sugared lime slice and a ribbon with an initialed card stock heart

DIY, dress, handmade, new look, sew, sewing

Graduation dress

This is the other dress I sewed from my other bit of dreamy fabric from some Mood LA. I wore it for a few graduations- this is the perfect Spring fabric. I used some leftover polka dot fabric to make a sash to go with it. I really love how this dress turned out. I have tons of extra fabric so I think I’ll try to make a pair of Grainline shorts with it. 

Photo location: Occidental College 

Pattern: New Look A6020 B

Alterations: shortened a few inches

Outfit deets: flower hair pin- handmade, shoes- Payless, watch- Bulova, bracelet- Tiffany & Co

By Hand London, concert, DIY, handmade, jersey, Lady Gaga, leather, pattern, sew, sewing

A dress for Mother Monster

the card I made my sister before the concert to let her know what her birthday present was

Last May, my sister, friend and I saw Lady Gaga in concert. It seemed like the best time to learn how to sew cups and to sew with leather for the first time. Gaga’s worth it 😉 And luckily, it was far easier than I expected. I found this dress pattern from By Hand London and though it was quite an expensive pattern after international shipping, I had never seen anything else like it (*unfortunately, they are out of the printed pattern, but you can still buy it as a PDF download). It’s certainly not an everyday style, but I would love to make it again, though a bit less flashy. 

Being busty, I had to add a lot to the cups to make the dress decent. I made up my own alteration, which thankfully worked. But afterwards, I discovered that they actually had done a blog post on how to modify the cups based on your bra size. I used a purple metallic leather and a jersey floral print from

Right before the concert- super made up!

please excuse the akward pose on this one- I was channeling my inner Gaga, I think. 

I hand the stitched at the neckline as I was short on time and didn’t have time to figure out how to feed leather on leather through my machine. I also hand sewed on the straps. 

I was so worried about buying the fabrics online, but I think they worked great together. 

Fabric: Gunmetal Leather, Jersey knit (similar
Alterations: I made thicker straps and had them meet in the middle back instead of going straight down the back. Modified the bust to have larger cups. 
Outfit deets: earrings, bracelet- Forever 21 (old), shoes: Aldo (old)

DIY, handmade, mood, new look, sewing

Easter dress

Last year, I took my first (and so far, only) trip to Mood LA. It was dreamy- I had no idea that amazing fabric existed! Sewing with thick cotton blends with a tiny bit of stretch is the best. My first dress from high quality fabric: 

A selfie in front of extra fabric. I need to get better about not buying so much extra. 

Photo location: my aunt and uncle’s house in Orange County
Alterations: can’t remember. oops.
Outfit deets: earrings- Anthropolgy, shoes: Audrey Brooke, watch: Bulova, bracelet: Tiffanys

cake, craft, DIY, embroidery, family, flowers, sewing, wedding

Wedding DIY! Part 6: Ring Pillow, cake table & extra

I just realized that I never finished posting about our wedding.

We decorated our sweetheart table with blue rimmed Mexican glass, potted succulents, my bouquet and the piece of Mexican tin art that David gave me when we had been dating for 6 months. It was the image (two sacred hearts with the words “Estare contigo siempre” (“I will be with you always) that was painted on our invitations surrounded by the flowers.

photo by Vanessa Ha

photo by Vanessa Ha

This pretty fireplace was outside right by where our ceremony was held. We decorated it with frames with photos of our family members who had passed and succulents.

My dad made our cake platter with tiles that he had left over from when he tiled the fountain. I was really proud of my idea to make a cake platter with Mexican tiles and then I saw it on a wedding featured on Martha Stewart online. Oh well. Our coffee table has a clear glass covering so the cake platter is always displayed.

photo by Vanessa Ha

My mom embroidered our ring pillow with the flowers that I painted on our invitations and my nana lined it in ribbon and sewed it into a pillow. It is exquistly beautiful and such a pretty keepsake.

DIY, nailpolish, outfit, party

Outfit Post: All the Glittters

…is not gold. All that glitters is sequins! Or glitter. Speaking of glitter, I missed the late 90s when glitter could be counted as makeup. The good ol’ days.

Back to the topic at hand. I had two bachelorette parties to go to this summer and wore the same dress to each (two weekends in a row). How dare she!? I have this bad habit of not wanting to wear the same fancy dresses often. And it’s black-ish. Not a color I wear much and not a color I like to wear to fancy events, because of the prevalence of black. But, one of the parties was supposed to be bride wears white and everyone else wears black. So I found this dress many months ago at the Express after winter sale and new that sequins would make black bearable for me. I really love this dress. Comfortable, sexy but not risque, and of course, sequins. I styled it differently for each bachelorette (more classic for downtown San Diego with red and more fun with neon for the one in Vegas).

 San Diego

look at that view! The hotel room was incredible.

with my sister

my girl power super hero bracelet
half moon nails (with a party cup I made- more on decorations at a later date)

cousins & the only picture I could find with my shoes

my belt was DIY. I found a cheap primary yellow belt for $3. I took some neon yellow nail polish and painted about 5 coats on it until I got it a nice bright yellow. Nail polish can be a great diy tool.

details: dress- Express
SD: purse- ?? it’s pretty old, shoes- Nina (my most comfortable pair of fancy heels), bracelets/earrings- Forever 21, hair feathers- small craft store in Berkeley, nail polish- Sally Hanson Hard as Nails Crimson Diamond (I have had this for many years and it is still my favorite and works great), lipstick- Maybelline 14 hour in Ravishing Rouge
Vegas: belt- Pink Zone in PB painted with Milani Neon Totally 80’s nail polish, shoes- Kelly & Katie, Earrings/Bracelet- Forever 21, Nails- Milani Neon Totally 80’s & NYC West Village, bridesmaid button- made by me (more on that later)

DIY, family, Valentine

Valentine’s Day recap

Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. I love pink and red and especially hearts.  I made a fun window display for the little party I threw for my girlfriends (post on that tomorrow- with yummy cupcake recipes!). Afterwards, I pulled off the “Happy 30th” and just left up the hearts. They looked so pretty in the day light.

I dipped fortune cookies in chocolate and sprinkled on colorful heart sprinkles and made a little tag to put them on that said “Your Valentine’s Day will be excellent!” I made these for my students and for Jack.

making Valentines for my students

This is my Valentine’s card from Jack. I put it over the heart paper and framed it for the month because it was so cute. My mom drew me and Jack decorated with jewelry from catalogs. The rest of the card is cover in Xs and Os.

The rest of the pictures are all from my mom’s house. I love decorating for holidays, because she always decorates all out for V Day, St. Pat’s, Easter, Halloween and Christmas. I realized that I should start taking photos of all of it so that I always remember how festive and pretty it looks.

I sent out a few Valentines, but added some glitter to spice them up- now so much fancier!

So, my mom apparently only saved Caroline’s artwork. For each holiday, she seems to have a piece of Caroline’s artwork to put up, but never mine. This year she was decorating and pulled out the piece on top. She said, “oh, Jack must have made this last year.” Oh no, I made that last year and sent it to Jack in his secret admirer package. At least I finally made it up!

this was store bought but so cute. I would like to recreate it some day.

My mom taught my sister and I this poem and we would recite it as kids. This little Valentine is many years old.

A photo of Caroline and I from many years ago.

For more Valentine’s fun, visit here and here and here.
DIY, family, flowers, wedding

Wedding DIY! Part 5: Bouquets & Boutonnieres

Our flowers were another one of my favorite handmade items from our wedding. I think that I mentioned this in the paper flower post, but I never dreamed of my wedding. I just knew that I wanted a lot of colors and my mom to do the arrangements. My mom was worried about the pressure of doing my bouquet, but I had faith in her and thankfully talked her into it. My bouquet was stunning and exactly what I wanted! She had help from my nana and two of my aunts and David’s mom. Together, they made my bouquet, my bridesmaid’s, the toss bouquet and all of the boutonnieres. My mom also made little centerpieces for the cocktail hour that were all used the night before for our rehearsal dinner centerpieces. The flowers came from the Carlsbad wholesale market and the succulents came from my aunt’s garden.

centerpieces packed up

waiting to be arranged- I love the orange roses!


colors to match the girls’ bridesmaid dresses

my aunt and nana

my nana and mom

David’s mom pulling the petals for the flower girl basket


boutonniere with our rings- two days after the wedding and still looking excellent

twine ribbon, pearl pins and a pretty milagro from Artelexia

finished! my handmade bouquet. Photo by Vanessa Ha

all of the bouquets. Photo by Vanessa Ha

my mom, sister and I. photo by Vanessa Ha
this should have been up with the loose flowers- all of the gorgeous succulents from my aunt’s garden.
bouquet and boutonniere. Photo by Vanessa Ha.

the cake by Twiggs. We had it very simple decorated to draw attention to the succulents. My mom and the baker from Twiggs decorated it together with the succulents from my aunt’s garden. I highly suggest Twiggs. The cake tasting experience was informative, relaxing and delicious. Dan clearly enjoys his job and my mom said he was great to work with when decorating. And they are affordable (relative to the cost of wedding cakes).
DIY, family, party, Valentines

Super hero Valentine lollipops

My sister and I made the superhero lollies that have been going around Pinterest and the blogosphere. They turned out very cute but it was a lot of work cutting out all of those little masks. We used purple paper beacause I have tons left over from our wedding invitations. We used puffy paint to decorate then because it went over the dark purple and we didn’t have enough stickers to decorate. We used blow pops for some and valentine tootsie pops for others. The shape of the tootsie pop wrapper and the light pink made for a much cuter super hero lollie.

Jack writing his name. These were pretty difficult and this was the only part that he could really help with.

me puffy painting the hearts (with my heart finger nail!)

the capes, complete with each classmate’s initial

super hero!

I have one more Valentine’s Day post planned out- I love hearts and red and pink!