Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Good Peacock is Hard to Find

"'What a beauti-ful birrrrd!' the priest murmured." The Displaced Person, Flannery O'Conner

I love peacocks. Mind you, not as much as I love cats, but I do love peacocks.

I used to live in an apartment complex that had tons of these majestic birds prancing about, singing their call. I miss those birds. So, I'm extremely happy now when I can find peacock things that help remind me of just how beautiful those birds are. Last month I wrote about a peacock teapot I got in A Peacock for All Occasions. And now, just a month later, I found the most beauti-ful peacock dress!

I got this dress from Cats Like Us. I was fortunate enough to be on their email mailing list and again fortunate enough to open my email within the same hour they sent it out which said that they just got in more of these peacock dresses from Heart of Haute. Then once again I was fortunate enough to be able to be one of the lucky people to grab this dress in my size before they sold out. And boy, were these dresses selling out fast! They only had this dress up on their website a few days the first time around before they sold out, then the second time they stocked this dress, they only had most sizes for the first day! After the first day they only had this dress in xsmall. Though if you are pining over this dress like I was fear not because Heart of Haute will be restocking this dress and anticipate to restock it sometime in May.

And now, on to the review!

The Heart of Haute Monique Peacock Royal dress is a fitted A-line dress with a boatneck neck line and matching tie belt. It has a hidden side-zip though no back closure. While the lack of a back closure could create a bit of a nuisance to get in and out of the dress, it ensures there are no back seams on this dress that could unintentionally make breaks in the print of the fabric on the top back side. The fabric is 100% cotton which is my fabric of choice for easy care. It has a nice heavy weight that gives the dress substance and gives the skirt of the dress a great flair! The colors of this dress are extremely vibrate without being overbearing. The teal, blue, green, and mustard yellow colors really stand out against the black background of this print. And, if that wasn't enough, metallic gold adorns the peacocks as well as the flowers throughout the print. As I've mentioned before in other reviews of Heart of Haute's dresses, I am continuously surprised at the great fit of their dresses. It's almost like each of the dresses I buy of theirs was made specifically for me. For reference I am 38"-30"-38", 5'3" and as usual I bought this dress in Large. I did find that the arm holes did feel a little tight in this style and felt it rubbed under the arms a bit but I think if I sized up the dress would probably fit a tad too big. In any case, this is a beautiful dress which was well worth the wait as well as its weight in gold!

"'So beauti-ful,' the priest said. 'A tail full of suns,'" The Displaced Person, Flannery O'Conner

Heart of Haute Monique Peacock Royal Dress- Front View

Heart of Haute Monique Peacock Royal Dress- Side View

Heart of Haute Monique Peacock Royal Dress- Back View

Heart of Haute Monique Peacock Royal Dress- Close Up of Print

Heart of Haute Monique Peacock Royal Dress- Close Up with Earrings

I couldn't resist putting these two things together for this review. How perfect are these earrings with this dress? I got these earrings last summer at the annual Fremont Festival of the Arts from a seller at the festival, Melissa Huntsman. I even bought these earrings with peacocks in mind when I saw them!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Dessert First, Then a Film

This past Saturday a friend and I went to dessert only tea then to the Standford theater for the Barbara Stanwyck double feature..

I have been interested in trying something from the Golden Tea Garden's dessert menu and because it's been a while since Wendy and I have been to the Stanford Theater (one of my favorite theaters close by in Palo Alto which plays old Hollywood movies in a historic setting) we decided to make a day of it.

We started the day off with dessert!

The Golden Tea Garden, Hayward, CA

We didn't have a reservation but were able to pop in for dessert anyway.

I had the sticky toffee pudding with a pot of mulled wine black tea and Wendy had the red velvet cake with the Almond Amaretto tea. It was a dessert and liquor tea day! The teas didn't really have any liquor in it but did have a slight flavor of it.

It was strange going in for tea and not getting any of the lovely tea sandwiches but the desserts were delicious and well worth their own separate trips.

Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding at the Golden Tea Garden

Red Velvet cake at the Golden Tea Garden

After our dessert tea we headed out to the Stanford theater in Palo Alto. Going to the Stanford theater is a treat in itself. It is an old historic one-screen movie house in the middle of the lit tree-lined street of University Ave, a street which also boasts a plethora of restaurants and store fronts. The double feature for the night was Flesh and Fantasy (1943) and Witness to Murder (1954)  both starring Barbara Stanwyck. In between shows there is a curtain that closes on the screen and a pianist plays in the theater's orchestra pit. Its a very fun and cool place to check out if you're in the area. The double feature is only $7 and they have popcorn, sodas, and candy which are also priced low, $1-3. I love this place!

Stanford Theater, Palo Alto, CA

Current Festival of the Month, Barbara Stanwyck at the Stanford Theater

At the Stanford Theater, Palo Alto, CA

It was a lovely day. Time spent with a good friend plus dessert, tea, and the Stanford theater makes for a perfect Saturday out!

Outfit of the Day:

For this day I wore a light blue sweater top with crocheted collar by Darling from Modcloth, a navy herringbone skirt by Collectif also from Modcloth, a white belt I got from my sister who got it with something she bought on ebay, and blue Ida heels from B.A.I.T. footwear from Amazon. Before leaving the house, I topped it off with a basic black cardigan from the Gap. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

An Apple A Day....

Allo Mes Amies

Sorry if it's seemed like I've been on blog hiatus. I guess you can say it's been a busy month and yet at the same time you can also say I've been on mental holiday. Last weekend over the Easter vacation I stayed in and caught up on some personal crafting/sewing projects. I finally got around to making some curtains using some scrap fabric for the garage window (black and white gingham with a black trim at the bottom which came out quite cute if I do say so myself) and I also finally got around to hemming some curtains for the inside of the house. The weekend before that my grandfather was visiting from Florida and I got to spend some time with him and the family. All great things but perhaps not so blog related...

And finally I'm back and I'll start things off with a bushel of apples! I have a dress review for ya'll! And not just one dress review but two, Hell Bunny's Shelia dress in both green and in blue. I could not decide which color to get so I decided to get both colors. Perhaps it was a bit excessive of me to get two of the same dress in two different colors but Hell Bunny is priced so reasonably, and it was such a cute design, AND I've got such fun little accessories to play around with these two dresses, I just could not resist. Also, I feel that the change of color gave the dresses completely different feels to them. While the blue dress was very bright and jolly the green one felt that it emphasized its wholesome nature.

The Hell Bunny Sheila dress is a 1940's style dress with a classic A-line silhouette. There is ruching at the shoulders and little bows at each shoulder which in turn also has ruching right where the bows are placed, giving it a very sweet and feminine look. It is fitted at the waist and right under the bust line there is more ruching to balance out all the ruching at the top. (Am I using the term ruching correctly?) It also has a v-neckline that is is just right in my opinion, not too high but not too low plunging either. The fabric is made of polyester which has a light, airy, silky feel to it. There is also a back zipper. But what really makes this dress exceptional apart from all the ruching and bows, which are both two things I love in a dress, is the pattern on the fabric. These dresses have an all over pattern of red apples with green leaves and white flowers with yellow centers. I love the little apples which gives it such a sweet yet wholesome look to it. I am in love with these dresses. I got them from JBR clothing's ebay store where I got them for 10% off the already low Hell Bunny's (and JBR's) price. I love Hell Bunny. They are forever continuously designing super cute 1940's and 50's style dresses while keeping their dresses priced low. The Sheila dress is available in green, blue, black, and caramel... and if you are lucky to live in the Australia I've seen they also have turquoise out there.

For reference I bought both dresses in my usual size large which fits my 38"-30"-38" frame just right.

Hell Bunny Sheila Dress Blue- Front View

Hell Bunny Sheila Dress Blue- Side View

Hell Bunny Sheila Dress Blue- Back View

Hell Bunny Sheila Dress Blue- Close Up of Shoulder Detail

Hell Bunny Sheila Dress Blue with B.A.I.T. Ida Heels in Pale Blue and Cream

Hell Bunny Sheila Dress Green with Chelsea Crew Malibu Heels in Green- Front View

Hell Bunny Sheila Dress Green- Side View

Hell Bunny Sheila Dress Green- Back View

Hell Bunny Sheila Dress Green with Green Cloche Hat- Front View

Hell Bunny Sheila Dress Green with Green Cloche Hat- Side View

Hell Bunny Sheila Dress Green with Straw Hat- Front View

Hell Bunny Sheila Dress Green with Green Cloche Hat- Side View
With all the fun accessories I have to play with with these Sheila dresses I could not help pairing them in my pictures. I wore B.A.I.T. Ida heels in pale blue and cream with the blue Sheila dress and Chelsea Crew Malibu heels in green with the green Sheila dress. Also with the Sheila dress I paired it with two different hats, a dark green felt cloche hat I got from Nordstrom Rack, and a straw hat, the Pure Edith hat in green, from Modcloth.

Also since I picked up two of these apple dresses I had to make the look complete by ordering some apple earrings from Modcloth. I kept on putting off the purchase until I saw they only had 4 left in stock then had to buy them before they were gone but hopefully Modcloth will stock more of these apple earrings for you gals who are keen on having an apple ensemble to call your own :)

Hell Bunny Sheila Dress with Apple Earrings
And that is my review for today. I hope you enjoyed!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Etiquette of Taking Tea at the Golden Tea Garden

A few weeks ago a friend and I attended the Golden Tea Garden's special tea, The Etiquette of Taking Tea.

The event was described as such:
    So many guests have asked about the etiquette of taking tea that we should have another lesson. 

    Do you wonder who should pour, when to add sugar/cream, when should you place your napkin on your lap,  where should you put your napkin when going to the ladies room or when finished, can you eat that delectable treat in one bite or must you dissect it on your plate first?  What are you supposed to eat first?

    We will learn the answers to these inquiries and many others from our esteemed Etiquette Instructor, Lady Sylvia Montgomery.  Lady Montgomery has conducted etiquette lessons with her private groups at the Golden Tea Garden for years and now she will share her wisdom  with my guests. 

    As we enjoy a special High Tea Service Lady Montgomery will explain the fineries of taking tea.
This got me very excited! I was hoping to learn a lot about tea etiquette and some tricks of the trade perhaps. I was hoping I would learn whether the cream or the sugar goes first when preparing your cup of tea. I remember reading somewhere, in Tea Time Magazine perhaps, that the cream is supposed to go first. They had a long explanation of why but I can't remember what they said about it exactly. Also, a friend of mine from Australia who has a sister who lives in England told me once that when a pot of tea is served at your table, to ensure it has had sufficient time to brew you are supposed to rotate the pot clockwise X amount of times before pouring from it. With this as well, I can't remember how many times to rotate... perhaps 3? Maybe 5? With this particular trick of the trade I wasn't really thinking everyone in England does this (I would think the really good tea places would already have your tea brewed correctly before serving it to your table) but I did think this was a cute little trick. 
In any case, I think I had my expectations set too high for this etiquette tea. Not to say anything bad about the Golden Tea Garden, which I love. It's more just that we are American after all and perhaps manners are not our fine suit. What my friend Wendy and I found when we attended the Etiquette of Taking Tea tea was more of a general etiquette class served while having tea. There was not too much said specifically about tea etiquette, rather more on table manners, though there was some things said about tea etiquette and somethings were learned.
In any case, I will outline what was discussed.  
  • As soon as you sit down you should put your napkin on your lap folded in a triangle. Use the top of the napkin when dabbing at your mouth or fingertips. The bottom of the napkin is to protect your lap.
  • When sitting you should be about 8 inches away from the table.
  • If you are relaxed you may put your forearms on the table. 
  • Never put your cell phone or purse on the table.
  • If you need to excuse yourself from the table, your napkin goes on your chair. 
  • When pouring tea, never fill the tea cup to the top; be sure to leave room for adding cream or sugar.
  • Always use the accouterments or sugar spoon to pick up the sugar from the sugar bowl. 
  •  Try not to make any noise when stirring in your cream or sugar. Your spoon should not touch the sides of your tea cup. With your spoon stir from 6 o'clock to 12 o'clock then make figure 8s. Never swirl your cup.
  • When done stirring in your cream or sugar, place your spoon on the side of the saucer. Never leave your spoon inside the cup.
  • If you are somewhere that serves sugar in packets ask for a saucer to put the waste in.
  • If you are adding in lemon, you should have been served lemon slices. If you were served lemon wedges cup your hand over the wedge to squeeze it into the tea.
  • Bring up your saucer with you when drinking. Your cup should never be more than 12 inches away from your saucer at all times. 
  • When you place your cup down, your tea cup handle and spoon should be at the 4 o'clock position.  
  • When eating soup always dip the spoon from front to back then up. Bend slightly forward and bring the spoon to you. Do not slouch forward too much and do not sit straight up. When getting to the end of the soup tilt the bowl away from you to get the last of the soup. If putting crackers in your soup, do not put more than one piece at a time. 
  • If you are served food on a tiered plate always start from the bottom of the tier up. She described this as being savories first, then scone, then desserts. But I always thought scones were first, then savories, then desserts. ?
  • If you are sharing a tiered plate, use the utensils to take the food off the plate.
  • When eating a scone, break one piece off at a time and put on your lemon curd, jam, or cream on the broken off piece. Eat one bite at a time. In other words, pick it up, break it, spread, then eat.
  • For things that could be messy, use your knife and fork and cut it. Cut one piece at a time when eating food. 
  • When using utensils, never put utensils back on the table. Leave utensils propped up on the plate.
  • When you are finished from the meal, lightly crumple your napkin and place on the left side of the table. 
  • I found this particularly interesting: When you have a tea party there's always a specified person to pour the tea-- this person is called the mother. She also does the cream, sugar, and lemon. If Mother is away from the table there should be a designated person to do the pouring; this is usually a close friend. Is this true? Is Mother an English or American thing?
There there you have it. 
And now, pictures from our tea:  
The Golden Tea Garden, Hayward, CA
Indoor Mural, The Golden Tea Garden, Hayward, CA

Fountain and Mural, The Golden Tea Garden, Hayward, CA

The Table Waiting For Us

The Tea Menu at the Golden Tea Garden

More Tea Choices

Love that the Golden Tea Garden Has Over 300 Tea Choices!

Our Tea Pots at the Golden Tea Garden

First Course Chilled Strawberry Soup

Tiered Plate: from bottom, seafood salad in cucumber, cucumber and cream cheese sandwich, chicken salad on wheat, egg salad sandwich, ham and water cress tea sandwich; middle tier, grape macaron, swan cream pastry puff, petite four, strawberry filo; top tier, cream filled strawberry, mini chocolate truffles, scone

Heart-shaped Scone

Enjoying Tea at the Golden Tea Garden

Outfit of the Day:

When we went out to tea, it was a rainy cool day. I opted to wear a maroon sweater dress from B.B. Dakota from Nordstrom Rack, a beaded collar from Nordstrom, beige Vera Wang sweater tights from Kohls, beaded head band from Forever 21, Chelsea Crew Sofia mary janes and a black cardigan.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Outfit of the Day- Last Winter Dress of the Year

Spring has officially sprung!

This past weekend we got lots of sunshine and fair weather after a week full of rain. It was the perfect combination to spend some time working on the garden which is what I did all day Saturday. The ground was nice and moist; easy for pulling up weeds and planting some new flowers.

Sunday, being another nice, fair-weathered day, was a good day to spend out and about in a non-work capacity. Tim and I went out to the country and spent some much needed time catching up with some good friends in Sebastopol. The weather forecast said it was going to be warm, 77 degrees, but even still, when I was trying to pick what to wear for the day I couldn't get over the idea of wanting to wear my sweater dress and sweater tights. Maybe it was that there was a chill in our house, or maybe it was just that I really wanted the comfy-ness of a nice sweater dress, or maybe it was because I figured it would probably be the last chance to wear one of my warmer weather dresses... in any case, I opted for the sweater dress and some sweater tights for the occasion figuring we'd probably be indoors most of the time anyway. Also, I figured, usually right after coming out of cooler weather houses in Northern California tend to stay pretty cool for a while. It proved to be a good pick as I was comfy all day and now that the weather has hit the high 70s / low 80s, even around home, it seems likely I won't have any more occasions for warm weather dresses again at least until the next coming Fall.

And here it is...

Outfit of the Day:  

Voodoo Vixen Red Knit Dress with Polka Dots- Front View

Voodoo Vixen Red Knit Dress with Polka Dots- Side View, Murkurie- Side View

Miz Mooz Heloise T-Straps- Top View, Murkurie- Top View

Dress: red knit dress with polka dots by Voodoo Vixen from Cats Like Us
Tights: black sweater tights by Vera Wang from Kohls
Shoes: red Heloise T-Straps by Miz Mooz from Zappos

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

DIY Tutorial- How to make a 1950's style caplet with cat fur!

Hello Kittens!

Whenever I brush my cat Murkurie I'm left with a huge ball of grey soft cat fur. My husband Tim says that it's so much fur that I could make another Merk with it. He's not kidding!

It's so much fur it feel like a shame to just throw it away. And so it got my crafting mind thinking... what can I do with all this extra cat fur? Make a 1950's style caplet with it! Genius! The first step would be to brush your cat. This may take several brushings based on how matted your cat is and/or how fluffy. Save all your cat fur as you go. I like to put my saved cat fur in a mason jar to keep the other cats from licking it and thus turning it into hairballs. 

Two Cats Ready For Their Daily Brushing (Murkurie, left. Wolfgang, right)

Next, don't forget what today is... :)

....April Fools!