Daddy Daughter Dance

Last year’s daddy daughter dance was when I made my first dress ever.  I can’t believe a whole year has already gone by.  This year, I really did not have any energy to make anything.  At least one person was sick in the family for the last 5 weeks, and I told little e that I didn’t have it in me to make anything and that I would just go out and buy her something. The dance was to be “Great Gatsby” themed and we were going to buy her a flapper girl dress.

However, little e came up with such a great, simple idea and I was so proud that she came up with the design herself that I popped a few Motrins and dragged myself to the sewing machine to make her dress.  Turned out, it only took 2 hours, and less than $10.

IMG_5847 - Copy

That ruffly black fabric can be bought by the yard and we had made a plum colored “Crewcuts-like” dress with it last year.  It was on sale for 50% and turned out to be $5.50 per yard.  The 3/4 inch sleeve pattern I already had from her nightgown pattern and we spent $2 for a quarter yard of chiffon.  All in $7.50 and 2 hours, my most economical project to date and little e was so excited.  Note: gaudy accessories were her interpretation of the 1930s flapper period.  I was sadly on a business trip and had no input.

IMG_5848 - Copy

I’m pretty happy with the result.  It’s not as finished as my other projects as I was in a bit of a rush, but feel pretty good about my sewing skills at this point, to be able to pull together a dress with no pattern and not much time.  That was what I was hoping to achieve one day.  I have plenty more to learn but coming from someone, who a year ago didn’t even know how to thread a sewing machine, I’m happy with how far I’ve come.

IMG_5850 - Copy

Ah, little e is growing up so quickly.  She asked me to make her wedding dress one day.  Slow down, little girl…

Chambray Shirt

I love Chambray and made a pattern to make little e a long sleeve peasant shirt.  During initial fittings, I was worried because it made her look like what I imagine a Shakespearean male actor would wear, or maybe  “1800s prairie look.”  Little e did say she felt like “ma” from Little House on the Prairie due to the puffed sleeves.  However, thankfully, I think in the end, it turned out ok.  And, more importantly, it created the basis for a few other pattern ideas that are swirling around in my head for dresses.


I love the tuck detail in the front and this is the first time experimenting with them.  I made them quite wide just based on ease of measuring at a 1 inch interval and sewing on the 1/4 inch edge of my sewing machine foot.  I ended up having to adjust my pattern to accommodate more tucks but I think it turned out perfectly for this shirt.  The process of “tuck making” is quite therapeutic: measure, drawn line, iron, sew, measure, line, iron, sew.  This is all done on a separate piece of fabric and then the pattern is laid on top of the tucks to cut.


I also finally learned how to properly sew a button.  There are many button sewing tutorials out there so I won’t go into it but the final product is a strongly anchored button with only one clean, tiny thread line in the back.  The ends are actually all hidden, in the front behind the button, and also in between the fabric fold.  E jumped on my button sewing bandwagon and quickly handed me some of his shirt and pants that were missing buttons.  Lucky me!

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about launching clothing lines and e-commerce sites. There’s a lot to learn out there and sometimes, I think the more you know, the less likely you are to just jump out there and do it.  I was considering having my Princess Lougewear manufactured but the risk seems high that I would end up with a bunch of dresses that never sell.  So, I will just make them myself for a bit, and sell one at a time, see if anyone is even interested.  It’s scary to put something out there and I do see how entrepreneurs can be so into their own product that they can’t see when it’s just a plain bad idea.  Obviously making the clothes myself will not be a long term sustainable plan and I would probably only make enough to cover my materials and maybe get paid like $2 an hour, but at least I can see if there’s any traction.

Somebody tell me if this Princess Lougewear is just plain dumb.  =)

Well my cousin from Taiwan has already said that while she thinks it’s cute, no one would want their child to wear a floor length dress in Taiwan because they would essentially be sweeping the dusty floors.  Here in the US, that doesn’t seem to be an issue and my little princesses seem to love the floor length and moms don’t mind either as floors are carpeted or hardwood for the most part and not dusty.  Anyway, I feel like a kid about to open a lemonade stand.  It’s fun.  =)

Bestia – Los Angeles

For our anniversary, E took me to eat at Bestia, this hipster Italian restaurant located in downtown LA.  It was a rare treat to be able to eat by ourselves in a nice restaurant without the kids, thanks to my lil sis and brother in law for watching our kids.

It was so hipster that I couldn’t really understand the menu.  You know when the ingredients listed are so complicated that your brain just can’t process what it actually is? We had to look up pictures on yelp to figure out what we were ordering.

Here are my “layman’s” descriptions of what we ate.  The waiter suggested that 4 plates, 2 appetizers, a pasta and a main would fill us up and he was exactly right.

Below is the “little gems” salad.  Their name, not mine.  I have to say that this might be one of my favorite salads of all time and possibly my favorite dish at this restaurant.  A salad!  It may have been because we were seated at the counter in front of the salad chefs, watching them carefully make each individual salad, rubbing each leaf to make sure that it was covered with the right amount of dressing.  They had a bucket of tasting spoons used for tasting each salad dish to ensure it was seasoned to perfection.  Sometimes they were unsure (there were three of them) and had another re-taste for a second opinion.  I suggested to E offering my tasting services to them so that I can try some of the other salad creations we did not get a chance to savor.  The whole scene reminded us of being in Japan where culturally they value the perfect presentation of everything they create.  It was fascinating to watch.  One of the salads had three perfectly shaped green leaves laid on at the end like lily pads with a few drops of oil drizzled on to look like dew.  We came up with so many SNL skit ideas from watching them.

Anyway, I digress.  Back to our salad:  each leaf was then individually laid carefully piece by piece onto the plate to create this salad pyramid, with interlocking pieces of lettuce, radish, ricotta cheese, and nuts, herbs, seasoning for the perfect bite each time.  Even the tasters never just tasted one leaf.  They had to taste a perfect mix to ensure it was correct.

The result is the best salad I ever had.  It was the dressing that made it.  But the flavors were just a perfect balance of salty, peppery, tart/sour.. I ate every last bite and wouldn’t have minded another plate.


Next we ordered the bone marrow gnoccetti.  We scooped the bone marrow off of the bone and mixed it in thoroughly with the gnoccetti.  This was a very hearty savory dish, with very well flavored pasta.   The taste of each piece just felt like it had a lot of depth.  Not just salty, but meaty, like it was well cooked in broth.  This was my second favorite dish of the night but you can’t eat too much of it, and they didn’t give much.


We had asked if ordering two pasta dishes was too much but the waiter told us that the portion of the bone marrow one was a small appetizer while the next pasta dish was a full sized pasta.  Well, even the full sized pasta was tiny.  Here we started doubting the waiter’s recommendation of four dishes.  E ordered bread just in case we were still hungry and also asked for the menu in case we  needed to add more.  This pasta was like little dumplings with oxtail stuffed inside.  The pasta skin was really perfect, just the right thickness, chewiness, consistency.  The flavor was a bit too strong.  It wasn’t just salty, it had a flavor that I think was from wine?  I don’t have the food vocabulary to describe it but with first bite, it tasted good.  However, by the time I ate three or four of these things, it was enough.  E ate it together with some bread to tone it down.  It wasn’t bad or anything.  Just something overwhelming about it.


To finish off our main meal, we had a whole Branzino and the waiter was right, this was all we needed, and nothing more.  This fish was delicious and probably tied for second with the bone marrow.  It was covered with herbs and lemon on top.


The bones were removed and the middle stuffed with watercress.  The fish was tender and perfectly cooked, still juicy and salty with the flavor of herbs.  I like watercress and it was a nice light surprise in the middle.   The crust was a bit salty by itself but when mixed together with the meat inside, it was delicious.  E and I gobbled up the whole thing and declared ourselves wholly satisfied with room for one dessert each.


I ordered for the both of us.  E is not a big dessert person so he usually lets me pick.  I have been ordering a lot of Panna Cotta at restaurants recently and have never been disappointed.  This one is with blood orange, grapefruit (I think) and honey.  It was refreshing, light, and the perfect sweetness.  The three thin wafers were some sort of lemon meyer cookie that wasn’t very memorable.  I think I ate half of one.

For E, I ordered this persimmon tart with ice cream and a berry compote.  It looked interesting to me and our waiter also recommended it.  I thought it tasted good, not too sweet, but also, not amazing.  I wouldn’t order this again.  For our anniversary, the restaurant gave us a scoop of pomegranate sorbet that really hit the spot.  The cold tartness  was refreshing after a heavy meal.  We finished all three desserts.


What a nice dinner date.  Good job, E!  We should do this more than once a year.

Some Pouches and a Dress

Little e begged me to make their basketball team snack pouches just like the ones we made for her soccer team  but I was just not up for it.  It takes a lot of motivation to make 8 pouches, especially just one week in advance of the game.  But, little e is so persistent and she wore me down.  Plus, she promised that she would help and do half of the work for me so I agreed.

She did keep her end of the bargain and did most of the sewing, serging, and cleaning up of the threads while I handled the cutting, ironing, the embroidering.  We inserted the ribbon pulls together while watching Shark Tank.  =)


In the end, I was happy that we worked on this project together.  It was fun to spend an afternoon with little e, I got to clear up my fabric stash a bit (finished all of this chevron fabric that was originally meant for a crib skirt for little c’s crib – he has been out of a crib for over 2 years… that was a project that never happened), AND little e got to get more practice sewing straight lines.

She was so excited to hand out the pouches after the game and the girls loved it… well worth the 2-3 hours it took to put these together.  I’m loving our embroidery machine, by the way.   It’s more than paid for itself (~$220).

Little e has also just completed a summer dress, finishing off the last bit of fabric she picked out from Hawaii as a souvenir last summer.  She used the same pattern that I had made for her other Hawaiian dress but she didn’t like the dress bottom so just made a simple shirred skirt attachment.


I think it looks lovely and am so proud whenever she makes anything.  I’m just waiting for her to be good enough to go on project runway junior.  =)




Princess Dress #4

I’ve made another princess gown for little e.  My mom agrees that she looks like a little Korean princess with the empire waist and pouf-y bottom.  I switched it up a bit and added some 3/4 sleeves, which ended up more like 1/2 sleeves.


I love the look actually and every night when I see little e floating around in it, it makes me happy.  She likes the floor length as well and is happily modeling it.  I like this length of sleeve better than the short sleeve version, probably because I like 3/4 sleeves in general. The double gauze is super soft and comfortable.


E still dislikes it.  He doesn’t get it, I guess.  When I was in third grade, my friend had a god mother who made her all these fancy ball gowns.  We used to play dress up in them and I’d wish that I had my own.  This princess dress makes little e feel like a princess because it’s floor length and poufy, but is also suited to my grown up taste because it’s so soft and not tacky, like most costume princess dresses are, in my opinion.  I know many little girls would love princess dresses because I did.


After binge watching Shark Tank the last few weeks, I’m almost tempted to figure out how to manufacture this and see if it sells.

Salt Lake City, Utah

We are a family that just loves to travel.  While we were planning to have a low key, relaxing winter break at home to catch up on sleep and re-organize the garage, next thing you know, E and I start randomly talking about taking the kids snowboarding.  First, we were thinking Vail and Whistler, and then settled on Park City, UT.  Literally, we planned the trip the day before and next thing you know, we were in Salt Lake City, UT.

Since the kids have never snowboarded, we opted to take them to Brighton as they are well known for their ski/snowboarding school, and it was much more affordable than the ones in Park City.


Brighton was the perfect choice.  The snowboarding instructors were great with kids and little e was able to go down the green slopes after the lesson.  Little c had to opt out of snowboard lessons due to altitude sickness which was such a scary situation.  He literally blacked out when he got out of the car and fell over on the ground flat on his back. Thankfully there was snow underneath and he had on two hats that protected his head.   Then, he was became lethargic and could barely keep his eyes open so I took him straight to the clinic.

This is where I was so impressed.  They had a pediatrician on site!  He was administered oxygen and after about an hour or so, was back to normal.  We still decided to forgo lessons but he had a great time playing in the snow.  The staff reassured us that if his symptoms returned, we could call the ski patrol and they would come to us within 2 minutes and can get him quickly down the mountain if needed.  That was reassuring and allowed us to be at peace while enjoying the snow.  Look how beautiful it was!

Now for some good food places to share.  Whenever I go anywhere, I usually go on the Design Sponge website and GOOP to check out things to see and eat.  Eva was a place recommended by Design Sponge and turned out to be a fun place to eat.  I like small plates and the opportunity to try many different things.  Overall the food was good, though I have to say, nothing really AMAZED us except for the bread which I’ll get into later.

Little e ordered the charcuterie board due to her love of salami and cheese and it was ok. The sliced brussel sprouts were tart and pretty delicious as vegetables come.  In the bowl is a Korean fusion ramen type dish with kalbi.  I have to say that this was not satisfying.  You can’t do small dish noodle soup.  Maybe because we are spoiled with really good Korean food that we just could not get into a fusion version of it, where the broth didn’t quite taste authentic, and the kalbi didn’t seem quite right in a soup base, and I just wanted more noodles.  But apparently, this soup base was award-winning.


The waitress highly recommended their pizzas, which I felt tasted ok, and not as good as what I would get at Blaze.  The dish on the upper left was a smoked salmon on top of latkas which was a special that night.  That was very yummy and the salad on top added a nice touch.  We also got their mac and cheese, which was a bit too fancy for the kids.  The description was, “baked greek mac and cheese: three-cheese macaroni, wrapped in phyllo, topped with a PLT salad.”   The greek flavors did seem a bit off for mac and cheese but it was interesting to try.  Lastly, we got eva’s bakery bread with their house butter.  That was so amazing and by far the best dish we had.  I know, it’s just bread.  But it came out hot, with the outside perfectly crispy and the inside soft and warm, with a delicious herb butter.  We were so stuffed already but still ate it.  Little e loves bread and butter so she could probably eat this every day.  Overall, a decent place.

We stayed at the Marriott in City Center and it turned out to be the perfect choice.  The rooms were ok, not amazing, but comfortable but the location was wonderful.  It was about a 20-30 minute drive to Brighton or Park City, and walking distance to a lot of good restaurants including Eva and The Copper Onion  .  The Copper Onion was so busy that we were never able to get reservations before 9PM which was way too late for the kids to eat.  Because of proximity, E just went and picked up to go.  This is the beef stroganoff which was delicious.  The pasta was cooked perfectly and the beef tender and flavorful.  and, this is taken to go.  I got their roasted chicken and it was amazing.  I don’t even like roast chicken that much, but this chicken was so good, I inhaled it, which is why there is no picture to show.  img_4368

The kids had no interest in this “fancy” food so we got them nuggets at the Carl’s Junior next door.  All were happy.  But I do wish we were able to eat there because if it’s already so good to go, it must be amazing eaten there.  We are already planning a trip back with a group of friends for next winter.

Another perk of the Marriott was that it had an indoor heated pool and an outdoor ice rink so the kids had a fun packed day.  Morning was snowboarding, afternoon some vintage shopping for me (scored flower vase below) and early evening, indoor swimming, and late night, outdoor ice skating under beautiful Christmas lights.  Perfection.


Next, a day trip to Park City was fun for some shopping and food.  We were craving ramen in the cold weather so we went to Sushi Blue.  Now, this is probably the most over-priced ramen we have ever eaten at $16 per bowl.  This is a half bowl, because they split two bowls for us so that we can each have our own and try other stuff (with $2 split fee).  It did hit the spot, though.  Nothing like good ramen on a cold day.  That seared pork belly was excellent!


Other items were ok.  Nothing to write home about and way too expensive but sometimes, you want what you want.


On the way home, we stopped by Tulie Bakery which was really popular and quite busy.


They had simple sandwiches with the star really being the bread.


I personally wouldn’t come back for breakfast.  The deserts we took to go were better than the savory sandwiches but an overall decent place with hipster decor



So that was Salt Lake City in the winter for us.  We plan to be back to visit the canyons and see it when everything is green and lush.  Certainly much more food places to try.





Grill Apron and Another Princess Dress

Little e made a grill apron as a Christmas present.  It’s reversible with chambray on one side, and black on the other.  She also used our handy embroidery machine, which has turned out to be quite useful for Christmas presents.  In addition to the grill apron, she has embroidered pouches and (store-bought) pillow cases, making simple and fast Christmas presents for the whole family.

I love how well the apron came out.  It looks very finished as there are no unsightly hems anywhere as we made it double sided.  For her birthday party this year, we are thinking of inviting her friends to a cooking class and making embroidered aprons for each of them. Little e is feeling lazy and not wanting to attempt making these in bulk but I’ll get her to come around to it.  It will be a great way to clear up my fabric stash.  I keep wanting to buy more fabric but need to finish off what I have first!  Some of the “cuter” prints that my cousin gave me from Taiwan would be perfect for these aprons.  We need 11 of them.

Next up is another princess dress I made for little e’s best bud, little a.  She loves pink and her mom loves white, so I decided to use a white double gauze with a pink velvet ribbon.  I didn’t have any pink bias tape for the collar so I had to make do with the baby blue instead. However, it’s on the inside so it’s fine when put on.


I’m sure it’s a bit boring to keep looking at the same dress made in different colors over and over again but I’m actually loving the process of this repetition.  When I tried to make cell phone pouches over and over again, I found it terribly frustrating, maybe because I kept getting the fit wrong.  With these dresses, each time I make them, I improve on my technique and finishes a little.  Instead of a serged hem, I made a french hem instead, making the inside of the garment more refined.  It’s down to about 2.5 hours to make and it’s the perfect weekend endeavor to do something stress relieving and make me feel productive at the same time.

My friend has 3 daughters and little a and e each have a dress now.  I can’t leave out little i so she’ll be getting hers soon!  I need to make a new pattern for her so I’m taking one of her old shirts to use as a pattern.

Here is little a looking like a princess in her gown.  The length is perfect.  She wrote me a thank you card saying, “I like that it is long because it covers my feet, keeps them warm, and that it is white with a fuzzy pink empire.  I enjoy holding it up in the front when I walk.”


Here are the two princess sisters in their gowns:


I just finished making little e a new one with longer sleeves for the winter.  I’ve got to go get some more double gauze!