Friday, January 31, 2014

my last two books

I'm trying to read two books a month this year, and so far I've completed 1/12th of my goal! yay! I LOVE reading but I feel like it's something I need to deliberately make time for or I don't do it often enough.

I started off the year with The Postmortal by Drew Magary. I intended to read a chapter or two each night but two chapters turned into three, which turned into ten.. before I knew it I was up all night reading. I had ONE chapter left when I decided I was just too tired to keep going and I don't think I've ever been more excited to wake up.

The Postmortal takes place in a dystopian future where someone has found the cure for aging. It's something everyone probably dreams about at least once or twice (or constantly) but in Magary's book he finds every single possible thing that could go wrong with that discovery. Things you would never think of until you read them and you're like "Drew Magary, you wicked genius!" His writing is insanely funny and sharp and I'm pretty bummed that his only other books are about sports and parenting because I'm dying for another novel.

The second book that I read was Never Have I Ever by Katie Heaney. It's a memoir about her life (so far!) with very little romantic experience. Katie has never had a boyfriend and, well, neither have I. I know, you probably think it's really weird. But if you read her book (please do!) you'll see it's not so weird at all. Honestly, for most of my adult life I've felt like a total misfit because of my inexperience in the love department, but reading this book made me so much more comfortable in my own virgin skin. Katie is laugh-out-loud hilarious, self-deprecating, but also empowering. I've never felt more secure about that part of my life than I have after reading her book.

The similarities between our lives are so many that sometimes I was like, "wait, did *I* write this?!" (Then I reminded myself that, no, I'm not that good of a writer and I'm not nearly as funny or witty.) But seriously, everything down to the nicknames for our crushes (mine was "french fries" to my friends, hers "garlic toast") to the awkward first kiss (although I guess most people share that fun detail?) to the precise reason that she's still single -- a lack of interest from the opposite sex (I swear that I've never been hit on, though my friends think I must just be oblivious), a healthy dose of fear, satisfaction with being single, and Disney-movie-level high expectations of what love should actually be like. Or at least When-Harry-Met-Sally-levels. I know.

All of the blurbs about Never Have I Ever suggest that you'll want Katie to be your best friend once you've read her book, and they're not kidding. It's taking everything I have not to send her BFF necklaces, cross my fingers and hope for the best. I'm sure she must be getting tons of emails and letters from romantic amateurs who have come out of the woodwork to recognize one of our own. We should form our own club or something. Katie can be our queen.

Seriously, just read the book. Even if you're the Casanova of our generation, I promise it's a fun read and it'll make you laugh your socks off.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

bat your eyelashes

Guess what genius forgot to get her flu shot this year? Yes, that would be me. I woke up yesterday feeling pretty sick and now I'm just praying to the gods of sickness that it's just a cold and not the flu. I'm bargaining "I promise I'll get my flu shot as soon as I feel better, I PROMISE!!" and hoping they'll let me go. I basically spend October-March every year living in fear of coming down with the flu (I know, you'd think someone as petrified of sickness as me would have gotten her shot, but no, I forgot. Of course.)

Not that having a totally stuffed nose and sore throat is a walk in the park but I'll take it over the flu any day. I just really hate being one of those people who is sick on and off through winter. My mom NEVER gets sick, it's ridiculous. I seem to have inherited most health-related genes from my dad (scoliosis, high cholesterol, a weird nerve issue in our feet.. thanks, dad!) so it stands to reason that I would have gotten his weak immune system, too. Phooey!

On a less germy note, how cute are these shoes? I love inanimate objects with human features, so shoes with eyelashes are pretty awesome in my book. I also love the trompe l'oeil loafer outline, too! So adorable!!

dress - forever 21 | cardigan - old navy | shoes - c/o loly in the sky
wig- minty mix | hat - forever 21 | tights - target

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

my five favorite coats

I (obviously) prefer to take outfit photos in the climate-controlled comfort of my own home rather than braving the elements outside. The only downside (besides having the same background in almost every picture, though that doesn't bother me as much as I wonder if it bothers other people) is that I never get to show off any of my coats.

These five are my super duper favorites:

I got this one last year from Dorothy Perkins (unfortunately it's sold out now) I bought 2 sizes intending to send back the one that didn't fit, but they're both so close -- one fits perfectly with light layers and one fits perfectly with bulky sweaters -- that I kept both. When you find THE perfect pink coat you make irrational decisions like keeping two of the same item, it just happens.

This coat has cat pockets, what more can I say?! I got it two years ago from Vivetta during a sale as a birthday present to myself. It's hands down one of my favorite purchases I've ever made. It's obviously cute but it's also a pretty substantial winter coat, which is coming in handy during this ungodly cold winter.

A girl can never have too many light pink coats ;) This one is perfect for fall or early spring since it has 3/4 sleeves but it's still pretty warm. Not in this particular outfit but the coat makes me feel a bit Doris Day-ish, it just has that crisp, clean look in person. It's from oasap (also sold out, boo!)

When I first got this one I didn't like it and actually put it in my shop my closet store. It sat there for a really long time and one day I decided to try it on again, fell in love and promptly removed it from the shop. And now (obviously, since it's in this list!) it's one of my favorites! It's another one that's surprisingly warm for how cute it is (usually cute things seem to be totally non-functional, don't they?!) It's from asos a few years ago. It originally had hideous buttons and I replaced them with big plastic daisies (DIY post here!)

I fluctuate between wanting to dress cute and wanting to dress kind of dramatic. In my dramatic spurts I tend to order hats with very large brims, sunglasses with enormous lenses, and lots of faux fur. During one such spurt recently I snatched up this coat on clearance at Nasty Gal (actually still available AND still on clearance, here) Granted the dramatic accessories never actually make me look dramatic but they definitely make me feel it ;)

tights - target | shoes - modcloth | wig - minty mix | dress - h&m

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

tick tock tick tock

I just noticed that society6 is offering wall clocks now! Some of my designs were automatically generated into clocks (they use the same images from tote bags & pillows to produce the clocks) and it was so fun scrolling through my shop to see how they look! These six are my favorite (I can't BELIEVE how well the bottom left one was cropped! It was an accident that it turned out that precise, isn't that cool?) I might maybe possibly get the top middle one for my apartment. I always feel weird putting my own stuff up but I just love how it looks!

The neat thing, too, is you can pick black, white or natural for the frame and black or white for the hands. These are my own preferences but it's fun playing around to see how they look with different colors.

Monday, January 27, 2014

is it spring yet?

I don't want to wish away time but my goodness I wish it was spring already. Sometimes I just ignore the snow and ice outside and in my own little apartment, it's spring. Pastels and bare legs are perfectly acceptable in a controlled climate and sipping lemonade with my back to the window brings some welcome relief from the icy wasteland outside. Of course all make-believe has to end sooner or later -- a realization that you're out of cat food or a printer warning that you're low on ink and before you know it you're once again encased in layer after layer, none of which actually provide sufficient protection from the bone-chilling wind outside.

The whole idea of "snow days" as a kid stuck with me and I've always had a soft spot for winter. I still get excited when I hear that school is cancelled, even if I'm no longer a beneficiary of that announcement. I heard we might be getting a snowstorm this weekend to rival the one in 1996 -- known to me and probably most of the local members of my generation as the longest time we ever got off from school for snow (the neighborhood dads actually built us an honest-to-goodness igloo that year!) -- part of me is excited that other kids might have the opportunity to create similar snowy memories but I have to admit, a much bigger part is just wishing that we were getting a heat wave instead... pass me the lemonade?

dress - dorothy perkins | sweater - asos | shoes - c/o bait footwear

Sunday, January 26, 2014

try a little kindness #4

This week's free printable is a photograph that I took (with my trusty new camera! yay!) with a wonderful quote by Amelia Barr. The dimensions of this one also make it suitable as a desktop background, too, for most monitors. You can download it for free here (just right-click and save) and it's also available on society6 here.

A group of high school students went around late at night and put happy, encouraging messages on every locker in their building. I think this is such a beautiful idea, especially in high school when a lot of kids start off each day feeling blue (at least I know I did.) The students got the idea from tumblr after another group had done the same thing. It would be so cool if this idea spread and more and more school kids were greeted one morning with a sunny note pinned to their locker.

1- Have a bit of a knitting addiction? Knit some hats and scarves and donate them to local shelters.
2- Think of someone that you've lost touch with and send them a sweet note, asking how they're doing.
3-Clean out your cabinets and donate any non-perishables that you aren't going to use
4- I've been noticing Girl Scout's selling cookies outside the grocery store lately -- feed two birds with one bagel by supporting young girls and getting yummy cookies at the same time!
5- When you're at the store and someone has a lot less in their cart than you do, let them go ahead of you.

One of the easiest ways to show kindness is with patience -- letting other people go ahead of you in lines, when you're driving, etc. I tend to do this whenever possible with one major exception-- if I desperately have to go to the bathroom, kindness takes a backseat to getting home immediately, lol!

Friday, January 24, 2014

do-again recipes

As part of my resolution this year to cook more of my meals at home I've been on a recipe-finding-frenzy. I have oodles of delicious meals pinned to my "yum" board on pinterest, and so far I've tried a few to varying degrees of success.

I bought myself a crock pot with some of my Christmas money and it's made cooking SO much easier. You just plop your ingredients in the pot and a few hours later you have a delectable, flavorful meal that gives the impression you were standing stove-side all day long. The first recipe I tried with my crock pot was this one for coconut chickpea curry from Tasty Yummies. In my family when a first-time recipe is a roaring success we classify it as "do-again," as in "DEFINITELY MAKE THIS AGAIN!!" This was a total do-again. It was chock-full of flavor and incredibly hearty. I'm not going to lie, I went back for THIRDS. THIRDS! I've cooked this one twice so far and the second time I served it over jasmine rice which somehow made it EVEN better. I definitely recommend it.

Another do-again recipe was this one from Love & Lemons for sweet potato tahini crostini. When I was adding the ingredients into my food processor I was a little skeptical.. maple syrup, chick peas and garlic? But it was scrumptious! I left out the ricotta since I don't eat cheese (please, please don't attack me!) It even got my dad's seal of approval -- and that's saying something, he's a super picky eater!

I also tried this crock pot recipe for quinoa with vegetables which was... okay. I added dry black beans at the beginning and they really overpowered the flavors (not to mention tinted everything a shade of greyish brown which, needless to say, wasn't very appetizing) I might try it again sometime, but adding rinsed canned chickpeas at the end instead.

Does anyone have a favorite vegetarian crock pot recipe? I'm so excited about finding new favorite dishes to make with it -- it's just so simple to use and produces such mouth-watering results :)

ps. While I'm on the subject of food... if anyone in the Princeton area has been missing Old World Pizza as much as I have (A LOT!) you need to check out Augustine's in Hamilton. The owner used to work at Old World Pizza and is using the same recipe! I was dubious at first but I ordered a pie last night and my taste buds were crying tears of joy -- it's the same pizza! I don't know if anything else in 2014 will top the happiness I felt last night (don't worry, I'm exaggerating. A little.)

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Last Saturday I went to see Frozen at the movies and dressed accordingly. Of course in the winter nobody can tell if you're theme-dressing for a movie because once you step outside you're buried under a dozen layers of outerwear. But I knew, so that must count for something..

If you haven't seen Frozen yet I HIGHLY recommend it. Aside from Up it's probably my favorite Disney movie since Mulan. I've already been obsessively looking up pins on ebay and I'm not ashamed to admit that I spent so much time memorizing my favorite song from the movie (Let it Go, I think that's the internet's favorite, too) that I'm hearing it in my head when I wake up. I'm not complaining. Ever since 3D animation came out I've been kind of iffy about it.. I just prefer old-fashioned 2D so much more. But I have to say that the animation in Frozen is breathtakingly beautiful. There were some scenes that I wished I could pause in the theater so I could soak up all the pretty.

dress- modcloth | tights - c/o we love colors | shoes -bait footwear | hat - asos

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

DIY giant tissue paper heart

This particular wall in my apartment has been causing me headaches ever since I moved in. I painted it white so I'd have a plain backdrop to use whenever I needed one (mostly for etsy product photos) but I still wanted something hanging there in the mean time. It had to be light and easy to remove whenever I needed the plain wall, but large enough to fill up the space.

First I bought a huge projector screen and did a painting on it, thinking I could easily roll it up when it had to be out of the way. But the paint made it difficult to roll up and the big black bar at the top drove me nuts. Then I bought a lightweight cotton tapestry and stretched it on a wooden frame. It was way too dark and busy for the space, so that didn't work either.

Finally I remembered seeing this project on Bri Emery's instagram. I love the way the heart looks but I wanted to make a wall-hanging version without the frame and chicken wire. I LOVE how it came out! It was probably the most time intensive DIY project I've ever worked on but it was definitely worth it.

Materials: Assuming you want a giant heart, Elmer's makes really massive foam board sheets. I got mine at Staples for (I think) $7 each. They're seriously huge. (see board-to-Hubble size comparison above) If you want to make smaller hearts (maybe as Valentine's Day decorations!) you can get smaller foam board at the dollar store or any craft store, or even just use cardboard. You also need Elmer's glue (I needed two bottles to fill the entire heart) tissue paper in the color of your choice (I used about 75 sheets. They came 5 per pack at the dollar store) cut into squares about 2" x 2" and a pencil.

Step 1 - Draw half of a heart onto one piece of your foam board. Cut it out using an x-acto knife (it doesn't have to be too smooth because the tissue paper will cover the edges) and then trace the half-heart onto your other sheet of foam board. Cut out that half.

Step 2 - Line up the two halves and tape them together with clear packing tape or duct tape. Tape both sides.

Step 3 - Cut a rectangle out of your foam board scraps and tape it to the back seam of the heart. This helps keep the heart sturdy, so it won't bend in the middle.

Step 4 -Pour some glue onto a paper plate. Take 2 pieces of tissue paper and wrap them over the top of your pencil. Dip the pencil into Elmer's glue and then adhere it to the foam board. It's the same method you probably used for art projects in kindergarten except instead of one class period this will take hours and hours and hour. But it's fun, I promise.

I used two pieces of tissue paper at a time because I was finding it filled up the heart quicker and the glue wasn't sticking to my pencil eraser. I started out using one piece at a time and pretty much every piece stuck to the pencil.

Once everything is dry you'll probably notice that the heart is incredibly warped. Just flip it over and paint a thick layer of Elmer's glue on the back and let it dry -- that will snap it flat again. To attach it to my wall I screwed a sawtooth hanger to the back and hung it on a single nail. It's incredibly lightweight so it doesn't need much help staying on the wall and it'll be SO easy to take it on-and-off whenever I need to.

I think this would also be cute for a handmade wedding decoration or a photobooth backdrop! Also, like I said, tiny versions sprinkled around the house for valentine's day would be so cute (and less time intensive lol)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

cats and more cats

Another cat print dress -- shocker!! And am I wearing cat shoes with my cat dress? You bet your kittens I am! It's an unwritten law of Catladydom that one must wear cat shoes with a cat dress. Look it up in your manual if you don't believe me ;)

Arrietty decided to get in on the outfit photo action this time (well, I lured her into the picture by dangling a mouse near the camera. potay-to, potah-to.) Her anniversary is coming up sort of soon and I'll do a whole big birthday post but can I just say how much I absolutely adore this cat? She loves to snuggle and trots after me around the apartment when I move from room to room. She caught me so off-guard... when I adopted her I knew that I was capable of caring for and loving another cat after Hypatia but I really didn't expect to get such a wonderful little buddy.

Just look at this face and that big fluffy tail. She's a keeper.

dress- c/o oasap | shoes - delias | tights - urban outfitters

Monday, January 20, 2014

style gallery

For a while I used to post all of my outfits on Lookbook but eventually I stopped.. the site seems (at least to me) to be more for edgy streetwear than pretty dresses. I just didn't feel like I fit in. I actually had forgotten that Modcloth has their own outfit gallery until they e-mailed me recently about a contest they're having to promote their Style Gallery. I uploaded one picture last year and then it completely slipped my mind as I hopelessly sent my pastel outfits into Lookbook oblivion.

I'm going to start uploading my outfits there again, and if you're interested you can follow along. They just started letting users follow each other. To promote the new feature, the user who gets the most followers by 1/27 will win $100 gift card, and two of the people who followed them will also win $50 gift cards!

I spent way more time than I care to admit scrolling through the gallery last night and was favoriting looks left and right. There's so much cute style on there! And there's a lot of variety -- it's not like everybody is wearing the same thing I do. There's edgy, cute, spunky and effortlessly cool. I think it's so nice to see so many fun, original looks. You don't even have to be wearing modcloth clothes in your photo, either! You can see my favorite looks here.

If you take outfit photos you should definitely try it out! Or even if you don't yet, it's a great place to start if you don't want to take the leap into blogging just yet :)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

try a little kindness #3

I was a bad blogger and just whipped this up really fast to make sure I still got a kindness post up today. Oops! I was up until 4am working on a different project (I'm sharing it later this week, it was definitely worth the sleep deprivation!) and was just way too tired to work on this post until this afternoon.

This download includes a set of printable notecards that you can hand out to show your appreciation to the kind human beings in your life. Sometimes the best random act of kindness is acknowledging and showing appreciation for a different one.

If you'd like you can download an 8.5"x11" free printable of this design right here (just right click and save!) They print two per page.

You probably already heard about this but I think it's pretty awesome and wanted to share.

Ok, so Jezebel offered $10,000 to anyone who would send them the unretouched photos from Lena Dunham's Vogue photo shoot. Then someone gave them the pictures and they presumably forked over Ten. Thousand. Dollars. And then the awesome Nicolette Mason and Brad Walsh stepped in and decided that that much money could be much better spent.

They started an indigogo campaign to raise $10,000 for women's empowerment -- specifically Step Up Women's Network. You can see their campaign page (and contribute, if that floats your boat!) right here. I absolutely love this story and I hope so badly that they meet their goal. It's wonderful when a crappy internet thing turns into an inspirational internet thing :)

1 - Shovel your neighbor's sidewalk
2 - Slip a happy note into a library book for a stranger to find
3 - Go on a loose-change treasure hunt in your house and donate the money. You can take the change to a coinstar machine if you don't want to manually count it out.
4 - Next time you're at the grocery store keep an eye out for donation bins near the exit. Mine has one for donating animal food and one for canned goods, so I usually get an extra can of cat food and an extra can of beans and drop them on my way out. It's less than a dollar per shop but it makes a small difference.
5 - If you have a friend that's feeling blue, make them cookies or send them a card.. give them a call or order a surprise pizza! It's amazing how much one small thoughtful gesture can brighten someone's mood :)

Friday, January 17, 2014


Some of my recent photos from instagram! In case you missed my post last month, I stopped posting on my old account and created a new private one in October. I was being harassed on my old account and wanted a safe, private place to share some of my favorite moments and interact with friends. I've been enjoying instagram so much more now! I'm sad that I lost all of my followers and about 3 years of photos (my favorites of which I'm starting to re-post for throwback thursdays :) but the peace of mind that comes with a private account is wonderful.

Originally my new account was "scathinglybrilliant" (for obvious reasons) but last week I realized that if I logged back into my old account and changed the name it would free up "kategabrielle" again and I could snatch it for my new account! It probably caused some confusion (even *I* feel confused trying to explain it lol) but I just really wanted to be able to use my name again.  SO long story short, my new private account is now kategabrielle. I'm approving most follow requests from public users and if you're a (nice, kind, friendly!) private user who wants to follow just let me know your username in the comments so I know to approve your request :)

ps.  I think I win the award for blog post with the most mentions of the word "account"
pss. I doubt anyone is interested but if the new drawings in my photos caught your eye, they're available as prints in my etsy shop. blah blah blah