Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking back on 2016

When I used to blog more regularly (something I'm hoping to get back to in 2017) I would do year-end round ups with my favorite outfits from each month. I didn't actually do enough this year to pick that many outfits (although I did fairly well in June during my 30 day challenge) so I'm just picking one. I love the outfit, but I especially love the photo. I feel like it's difficult to capture your real personality when you're posing for pictures in your bedroom, taking 50 shots and hoping you look semi-decent in at least one of them, but this one just feels very "me" to me :)

As far as the world goes, I'm definitely on the "2016 sucked" train. So much heartbreaking news, so many tragic passings (I still have my sealed Blackstar album and haven't been able to bring myself to listen yet, and it's almost been a year since Bowie died) and don't even get me started on the election. However, as painful as it was to watch the news each day, personally this was probably the best year of my entire life. I almost feel a little guilty about it, since it feels like the world is going to hell in a handbasket, but especially considering how much I was dreading turning 30 this year, and approached 2016 with some serious anxiety, I'm really happy with how it all turned out.

Let's start with this:

We could probably end there too because IT WAS THAT AWESOME. I went to Paris and Rome by myself. I still can't really believe it. That's me at The Lourve. In Paris.

And the night before I caught my flight to France I was out until 1am seeing The Killers live in Atlantic City. It was my first time going to a concert by myself and it rocked. I saw Jen Kirkman, Bill Maher, Peter Murphy, Charles Aznavour, and New Order live. I saw my favorite movie at a theater in Paris. I found the single best pizza I've ever tasted in my life (Seven Brothers' Mamma Mia pizza w/o cheese in Trenton, NJ. If you live even remotely within driving distance, try it!) I went to the TCM Film Festival with two of my best friends. I saw my first Broadway play. I saw Anna Karina and Isabelle Huppert in person! I attended a rally with Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Bill Clinton (despite the outcome I'll never forget how boundlessly optimistic I felt that night.) I took my Grandmom on a cruise to Alaska. My business had its best year of all time. I was able to pay off in full two really giant unexpected bills that came up this year. And (knock on wood) I started doing well enough to hire my brother full time! And probably most importantly, I'm super happy with where my life is at right now.

I made a 30 before 30 list last year and while I didn't check off a lot of the items (I have yet to even pick up my balalaika) I feel like I accomplished the most important ones and I had so much [this feels gross to say but whatever] personal growth (yuck) that none of the other silly items on the list matter.

Number 25 had me flirting with the idea of trying online dating. I got really serious about that one for a time, and I was pretty determined to give it a go. But before I took the plunge I started to realize how much I love being single. In the past any adoration I had for my lifestyle came with an asterisk *would probably really prefer having a boyfriend though. I felt kind of loser-ish for being perpetually single. I felt like I was defective for never having any romantic prospects. But the more I really thought about it this year, the more I realized it's not actually what I want. I've known for my whole life that I didn't want to be a mother (I've been swatting down "you'll change your mind" remarks since I was seven years old) and I never felt like there was anything wrong with that. I never doubted that my path would be a childless one. I didn't feel defective or freakish for that. And it just took me a while to feel the same way about being single. And I'm looking at it this way -- if guys can be hip bachelors with cool jet-setting lifestyles, so can girls. I feel like single girls still live in the shadow of the antiquated concept of "old maids" while single guys are respected, even celebrated, for their independence.

Anyway, I'm really proud of this revelation and I wanted to share it in case anyone else is feeling similar. For years I've been watching as my friends and fellow bloggers follow the "normal" path in life -- getting hitched, having kids, buying houses, etc. So far I have yet to find a blog that reflects my own offbeat lifestyle, and sometimes that can seem scary and enforce the "I'm a freak!" thoughts (tbh I probably AM a freak but I really don't care.) So if you're nearing 30 and haven't dated or been interested in dating (or even if you're way younger -- I've been wrestling with this since I was around 18) you're not alone. And if you want to live the single life, GO FOR IT!

As long as I don't have Huffington Post open in my browser I'm usually a pretty happy camper. I can't think of any time in my life since I was a kid that I've felt this contended and pleased with my lot. There's still stuff I need to change and things I want to accomplish. I have long-term goals that'll take a few years to happen, some debt I still need to pay off, work I've wanted to finish but never got around to yet, places I want to go that aren't in the budget yet (China!) and I definitely, absolutely, 100% need to pledge the most cliche resolution of all -- eating healthy. My god, I'm surprised I haven't just turned into a giant Christmas cookie. I've eaten enough of them that I'm pretty sure my blood stream has chocolate chips floating around in it.

But I'm happy. I hope so much that you're happy too, and if you're not, I hope you find your happy in 2017 :) Happy New Year! See you on the flip side!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from me and my furry friend to you and yours! :)

Monday, December 19, 2016

DIY Christmas ornament box photo mat

When I was helping my Grandmom decorate her tree this year, I noticed one of her ornament boxes was on the verge of completely falling apart. My Grandmom is kind of quick to just throw things out, without regarding sentimental (or vintage) value so I asked if she ever decided to toss out the box if I could have dibs on it first. To which she replied, "Just take it now!"

It was too delicate to actually use to store ornaments anymore, but the design is such perfect vintage, and it's been around for so many family Christmases (this one has been in use since my mom was little!) that I couldn't bear to see it thrown away. I thought I'd share what I used the box for, just in case anyone else is in a similar situation, with all these beautiful boxes that land somewhere between "too fragile to use" and "too special to throw away."

I decided to use my box as a mat for a festive photo of Arrietty. The box was *almost* 8" x 10" so I just bought a piece of red polka dot scrapbook paper at the craft store to fill in the gaps. I carefully cut the sides away from the box and then taped any rips and tears to create a sturdy mat for my photo. I used repositionable glue dots to hold the photo in place and then mounted it in the frame.

I definitely could have stopped there (and tbh my frame would have looked a lot less DIY/crafty if I had) but I didn't want the illustrations on the sides of the box to go to waste, either. So I cut them out carefully (I used scissors but if you have a delicate box, learn from my mistake and use an x-acto knife instead) and hot-glued them to the base of the frame. Then I used a paint pen to add some embellishments that matched the design of the box.

I'm so happy that I was able to save a piece of our family's Christmas heritage and turn it into a decoration that I'll be putting up for years to come :)

Monday, November 28, 2016

DIY Christmas tree enamel pin display

I thought it would be fun to make a little enamel pin display using a small (2') Christmas tree! It started off as an idea for an instagram photo, but then I thought I'd do a DIY in case anyone else wanted to make an enamel pin tree display, too. It's such a cute way to show off your collection this time of year! And enamel pins are the PERFECT size for small trees. I got my white one on amazon here.

All you need for each ornament is one enamel pin and one ornament hook. THIS IS SO EASY.

Loosen the backing a little bit, loop the end of the hook around the pin back, pinch the wire closed and then push the backing on tightly to secure the hook. This definitely works better with pins that have rubber backs since you can press them tightly to keep the hook in place. I actually keep extra rubber backs on hand in case pins come with clutch backs, since I like the rubber ones better. I got mine on amazon (50 for like $5) here.

And that's it! Then just hang your ornaments and admire your tree :D If you make a pin tree display and post a photo on IG please tag me (@kategabrielle) I'd love to see it!

Also (shameless plug alert) all of the pins on my tree are from my shop, here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

DIY Christmas movie snow globes

This isn't so much a DIY as it is an idea for a Christmas decoration, but I'm so happy with how these came out that I had to share in case anyone else wanted to do it, too!

Aside from my mom's cookies, I think my favorite part of the holiday season is the movies. There's nothing quite as comforting and festive to me as snuggling in bed with Arrietty, hot chocolate, and one of my favorite Christmas films. And since I love incorporating my love of movies into my decor, I thought it would be fun to do that with my Christmas decorations, too!

I got my snow globe picture frames from Urban Outfitters. They don't have the rose gold color anymore, but they still have this shape/size in clear here. They also have some pretty instax-sized ones in other colors here.

All I did was find scenes from two of my favorite Christmas movies, print them on photo paper, and then cut them to size. The frames come with templates so you can cut your photo to fit perfectly in the snow globe. Just make sure that the photo you find will fit inside of a vertical frame. A lot of movie stills are horizontal, since movies are shot in that orientation, but it's pretty easy to crop a picture to be just right.

I chose stills from the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol (the best, in my opinion) and the Barbara Stanwyck movie Christmas in Connecticut. If you haven't seen either one yet, definitely try to give them a watch this holiday season. Just make sure you have some hot cocoa and warm blankets handy! ;)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

This was definitely a last minute costume (I painted that rib cage on my dress last night!) but I'm mildly happy with how it came out. I don't think I've ever done a spooky Halloween costume before, I usually go with some kind of pop culture figure (past favorites: Princess Unicorn from The Office and Helena from Orphan Black) but tonight I'm volunteering at my local independent movie theater and the costume theme is characters from horror films.

I have to admit, I haven't seen that many modern horror movies. I've seen a lot of the fun ones, like Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Craft, Beetlejuice, etc. but ACTUAL horror movies like Saw, the Freddy movies, the Jason movies, The Exorcist, Poltergeist, those have all eluded me. So I went with what I know and chose to dress up like Barbara Steele's character from the 1961 Italian horror movie Black Sunday.

Black Sunday is about a witch who is burned at the stake and vows vengeance on the family that killed her. It's low budget but super atmospheric with lots of fog and cobwebs to give it a spooky vibe. It also has this thing (a lot of people HATE this in movies but I personally love it) where it takes place in the middle ages but everyone's hair and makeup is super 60's. It's probably one of the reasons I gravitated towards this movie when I was deciding on a costume :)

It's an Italian production but the movie is dubbed in English, so if you're not a fan of foreign films, don't let that turn you off. It's available to rent on amazon here, and I highly recommend it if you're in the mood for a fun thriller to watch tonight! I also just watched another Barbara Steele horror film (although this one is in Italian with English subtitles) called The Long Hair of Death. I like Black Sunday better but this one is *almost* as good, and it's on Amazon Prime so if you have an account it's free to stream :)

Last but not least, I put together a Halloween video set to Bauhaus' "She's in Parties." I included clips from some of my favorite spooky classic movies like Cat People, The Old Dark House, and The Bride of Frankenstein. If you're a fan of classic movies, I hope you'll love it, and if you're not a fan (yet!) maybe this video will give you a little taste of what classic horror movies are like. If you're interested in checking out any of the films in the video, I have a list of the ones that I included on the youtube video page here.

Since I'm pretty sure a reference is necessary for this costume, here is Barbara Steele in stills from Black Sunday:

Friday, October 21, 2016

posh frock friday

This dress makes me feel like a Rockette! I even picked these shoes because they are the most "tap dance" shoes that I own.

I did tap and ballet from when I was three until I was sixteen, and I really miss it sometimes. I recently bought a ballet workout DVD to do at home but I feel kind of silly doing it in sweatpants or pajamas so now I feel like I also need a leotard, and a skirt, and ballet shoes... Maybe I should just buy a tap dance DVD instead and I can workout in my Rockette outfit! ;)

If you're participating in Posh Frock Friday don't forget to hashtag your outfit on IG with #poshfrockfridays so that everyone can see your pretty outfit!

dress- vintage from whurl | shoes - bait footwear | purple rug - amazon

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

wishlist wednesday

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13

Monday, October 17, 2016

it's beginning to look a lot like halloween

I'm in such a Halloween mood this year! I think it's actually going to be tough to let go of it after October 31st -- kind of like how sometimes you have to leave the Christmas tree up until mid-February. I'll still have fake spiders and webbing up around the house through November ;)

If you're a classic movie buff (and especially if you're a classic horror movie buff) there was some exciting news in the film restoration front this past week! My favorite spooky movie, The Old Dark House (1932) is getting a 4K restoration from Universal and the Cohen Media Group. I am SO excited. A lot of Cohen restorations get art house theater releases, too, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it shows up at The Film Forum in the next year or two. If you've never seen the film, don't wait for the restoration (although, watch that too once it's out, obviously!) it's available on DVD in a kind of shoddy public-domain style transfer but it's still SO GOOD and SOOOOO spooky! It's the perfect movie to watch late at night a few days before Halloween :)

dress- asos | boots - bait footwear | cardigan - old navy

Friday, October 14, 2016

posh frock friday

I might have to start turning this into a bi-weekly feature because it has occurred to me that I don't think I own enough fancy dresses to do a posh frock friday every single week (although, this could be an excuse to buy more posh frocks, lol!)

My collection is actually decreasing quite a bit soon, because I'm going to be doing a vintage sale with Whurl. If you're not familiar with Whurl, it's a shopping app where you can post photos of things that you're searching for and vintage sellers will respond with items that match your search. It's also a shopping marketplace where sellers can list vintage items for sale. In the next week or two I'll be listing a sizeable chunk of my vintage collection on the app -- LOTS of dresses and a few tops. It's not all in my size, so if that's been an issue for you when I do closet sales in the past, definitely check this out. I've always had a habit of buying vintage dresses no matter what size they are, just because they're pretty, lol.

If you're interested, be sure to download the app! And I'll obviously be doing another post before the sale goes live so you'll get a heads up :)

Don't forget if you're participating in posh frock friday, use the hashtag #poshfrockfridays on IG so everyone can see your pretty outfit! xo

dress- vintage | bodysuit - boohoo (old)
shoes - daisy street | purple rug - amazon

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

wishlist wednesday: halloween edition

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13

Monday, October 10, 2016

sweater weather

It's officially sweater weather! Actually it's even colder than that already, lol. I went apple picking with my brother and his girlfriend a couple weeks ago and they prepared for the weather much better than I did. I only had on a thin sweater (this one, actually) while they had the foresight to wear heavier clothes and jackets. When we were wandering around in the brisk weather my brother asked if I was too cold and I said that as someone who spent all summer moaning about how hot it was, I'm not letting myself utter a single complaint about cold weather, lol. I'm just going to smile & soak it all in, goosebumps and all.

Friday, October 7, 2016

posh frock friday

This dress is one of my unicorns -- a brand new dress that looks like a vintage 60's party dress. They're super hard to find, at least in my experience. Most vintage reproductions seem to be more like classic vintage: 1950's, Audrey Hepburn or Marilyn Monroe-ish, wiggle dresses, etc. Even when 60's styles are reproduced, it tends to be mod Twiggy-style mini dresses. Which I love, don't get me wrong, but it's SO hard to find things with knife-pleated chiffon or giant bows along the collar or enormous sheer sleeves. And when I do find them, more often than not they just don't feel as special as the original vintage does... something just feels off.  

BUT THIS DRESS. This dress gets it right. I had this hanging up next to a lilac knife-pleated dress from the 60's in my closet and you would never have been able to guess that they were produced some 50+ years apart. This really feels like vintage. But THANK THE HEAVENS it comes in multiple sizes so it's not like 99% of the vintage dresses sitting in my etsy favorites, whose waist measurements would prevent me from even getting the dress around one thigh.

Don't forget if you're joining in and getting all dolled up today, post your outfit on IG with the hashtag #poshfrockfridays

Monday, October 3, 2016

black is the happiest color

Guys, I like wearing black now. I feel like my style goes in cycles... this is definitely something I would have worn in 2009 or 2010 and then for a few years it didn't feel right and now it feels like "me" again. Does that make sense?

Anyway. Speaking of changing and growing or whatever, I only have a little over a month left to try to complete my 30 before 30 list and now that I'm looking it over there are so many things on it that don't even interest me anymore. I only made the list a year ago! I think I might revise it this week to fit my current state of mind. Is that cheating? I don't really care if it is, lol :)

One major thing that I did manage to check off was number 15. I've been volunteering at my local non-profit movie theater since March and I'm enjoying it so much! Everyone is incredibly nice and it's been wonderful to get out of the house more often. Being self-employed is fantastic for so many reasons but after a while you can become acutely aware of how isolating it is. But to bring this full circle, the dress code at the theater is "black" and that's probably partially responsible for the resurgence of my appreciation for darker colors in my wardrobe.

dress- forever 21 (old) | shoes - asos | purple rug - amazon