Blog re-design!

Well, looky-looky… I did a little blog-redesign coinciding with my blogiversary! I’ve been wanting a new look and decided it was time to just sit down and do it. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out! It’s very vintage-y and I think it suits me well.

The background of the header is actually one of my favorite skirts. It belonged to my grandmother – vintage Talbots! When she passed away a year ago, my mom sent me a bunch of her clothes. I have fun wearing them.

And that picture on the left side? I’ve been meaning to share this with you for quite a while. Back in March, my good friend and an amazing photographer Beth and I cooked up a really cool vintage photo shoot. I want to share more of the photos soon, but this is your sneak peek! Although if you’re smart, you might find some more on Beth’s blog.

xoxo,
Alanna

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April 12 on 12

Do you remember the 12 on 12 post from last month? It’s that time again: time to take 12 photos on the 12th of the month. Well, actually, obviously that time is past. So here is my yesterday condensed to twelve Instagrams!

L-R: work out clothes with running shoes already shed after a 3.69 mile run; trying to be good lately about taking my vitamin every day; a trip to the most addicting store on the planet

L-R: twirling my rainbow skirt – it’s full and just begs to be twirled; smoothie time! – 1 whole gala apple, plus frozen strawberries, plus pineapple, plus vanilla yogurt, plus kids’ juice (a little weaker); side pony!

L-R: I promise this looked better before I saved it! The night sky – one of my favorite colors ever (if you look close there’s two stars – I think I must have accidentally changed the filter because it really was more obviously sky); a box of tiles ready for me to paint Scripture on Right Focus Designs; a little grooming for Lucy – she loves it!

L-R: Lucy saying, “I love you,” by making biscuits on my leg… and I think it’s time for a claw-clipping because it hurt!; Scripture card bookmark; the last thing I do before turning out the light: lip balm and hand lotion!

Yesterday wasn’t a particularly interesting day. I stayed at home for the most part. But that’s what this project is all about: capturing your day, no matter what it holds! Hope you enjoyed this little peek into my life.

xoxo,
Alanna

Once Upon a Time: Books!

This week’s OUaT post is inspired by these thoughts from Gussy Sews. Just like her family, one of our common loves is a passion for books. Luckily both my brother-in-law and sister-in-law enjoy reading as much as the rest of us, or I predict they’d be pretty left out! Both my niece (2 mos.) and nephew (20 mos.) have growing libraries – in fact my sister had a book shower for my niece. I think it’s an awesome idea… tucking it away for my future progeny.

A large part of my childhood memories of free time are those spent with a book. Curled on the couch, or perhaps “hot-sitting” – my siblings’ and my term for sitting on a floor heating vent with a blanket. One of the best things my parents did for us in regards to reading, was to only ever limit our book choices for content. I only ever remember being told I couldn’t read a book because it had themes or situations inappropriate for my age, but never because, “that’s too big a book for you.” In fact, I can remember the deep indignation I felt whenever I discovered I’d read the abridged version of a book – what had I missed?

My family didn’t just enjoy books individually, though. Some of my best and favorite reading memories are those when my mom read aloud. Every single morning, after Bible study, before we got going with schoolwork, mom would read a few chapters from a book. Sometimes it was a story from the particular era we were studying in history, sometimes it was a classic she wanted to introduce us to, and sometimes it was one we had picked out. As we listened, we occupied our fingers… my brother always drawing, while my sister and I either drew or worked on cross-stich.

This tradition only stopped when my brother left for college… when I was sixteen turning seventeen. I still love to hear people read aloud, although that isn’t an opportunity grown-ups get very often.

My mom picked the picture at the top when I requested a reading photo from her (she always gets a OUaT preview because I always have to apply to her for old photos). That’s from March 1992. I was 6.5, practicing my reading with a Bible story book we still have – I like to think that some day grandma and grandpa will introduce the stories of God’s people to my little ones from that same book.

A funny anecdote about the photo (besides the fact that, yes, I’m wearing the prairie dress): I think it’s probably taken not too long after my mom got her shoulder-length hair cut and permed. I don’t remember this, but apparently when she arrived home, I took one look at her, burst into tears and exclaimed, “You don’t look like my mama anymore!” Poor mom. I’m sorry! I think you looked lovely and it was in fact more flattering than the longer hair was!

What about you? What’s your history with books?

xoxo,
Alanna

Daily Dozen: 12 on 12

Hi friends! You know I like a fun photo challenge, especially when I can use my beloved Instagram. I’m joining Elizabeth Kartchner of Dear Lizzy with the Daily Dozen: 12 on 12. That’s 12 photos of taken during the day on the 12th of each month (or maybe the official rules don’t include every month, but those are MY rules). I’m hoping I’ll remember every month from now on. Oooh… need to set myself a reminder on my phone. On to what you really care about, photos of my intensely thrilling day yesterday!

l-r: Cats enjoying morning sunshine; Cheerios breakfast (I live on the edge); lying on my yoga mat doing leg exercises

l-r: getting my vehicle inspected (please note that’s pronounce VEE-hickle); I passed – woohoo for Cam and me!; stopped right by the crosses at Bellevue

l-r: Happy Hour!!! Love me some Sonic – a Lemonberry Slush, if you must know. It was a dollar well spent; my new pillow arrived from Amazon! – memory foam and it’s super nice (no more neck pain); $5 Rayban knock-offs from Wal-Mart since my other sunnies broke

l-r: a little organizing/decorating project I’ll feature soon – you won’t believe how this little magazine file started out!; a little pre-bed reading – I love Nouwen (it’s like I’m reading my own brain sometimes); finishing the day by praying a psalm

Hope you enjoyed this fascinating look into my little life! Hey! I saw you over there… quit your yawning.

xoxo,
Alanna

Silly cat

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I’m in the middle of my going-to-bed routine but I had to stop a moment to share with y’all this picture of my goofy boy this morning. Relaxed in my lap… he loves to lie on his back. Sometimes he does it by himself. Even sleeps. Charlie is a special cat. Special, special cat. And he makes me smile. 🙂
xoxo,
Alanna

Oscar Fashion Recap – My Version!

Gosh, y’all… I rarely get sick beyond a few colds a year. But this flu hit me hard. I spent five straight days in bed or on the couch in my pjs (and I am not a stay in my pjs all day girl). Then it took over a week to recoup. My energy was completely drained (and I actually still don’t have a huge appetite). Even yesterday afternoon I took an almost four hour nap of deep sleep…

…which sadly caused me to miss most of the Academy Awards red carpet. It’s my favorite part, too! However I saw a lot of the prettiest dresses and caught up on the rest during the show itself. Can I just say that I loved Miracle Max Billy Crystal hosting? Usually awards show presenters make me uncomfortable with their caustic, vulgar humor but Mr. Crystal was funny AND nice!

On to my dress favorites. I probably won’t say much that hasn’t been already said by a thousand other bloggers, but, hey, blogging is all about our opinions and thoughts right? I’m not sure I can rank them, so this is just a list of the looks I admired most (all images from CBS’s gallery of arrivals – click thru images for links):

Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman is no surprise as top of my list (yea, I know I said it wasn’t ranked). I love her style and this was no exception! Her vintage dress was incredibly flattering, gorgeous, simple, and just a little bit fun with the polka dots! A large, sparkly diamond necklace and very understated additional accessories completed her stunning look.

Penelope Cruz

I think I literally got giddy when I saw Penelope Cruz on the red carpet. Everything was so beautiful and glamorous from her vintage ‘do to the stunning dress! I wish that someday I could have a chance to wear a dress as amazingly lovely as that.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow’s minimalist, modern style usually isn’t that interesting to me, but I actually quite liked this dress. I thought it was prettiest without the cape, but even on the red carpet with the cape over her shoulders I found it to be a simple, elegant way to be modern and unique. That’s not easy. She absolutely glowed as always and I love the great cuff bracelet as her main accessory!

Octavia Spencer - Go, Minnie!

I was so pleased to see Octavia Spencer win! It was very deserved – her performance as Minnie, in my opinion, was spot on for what I imagined when I read The Help. Her acceptance was so moving and she looked gorgeous. The dress is simple-elegant and so flattering!

Mila Jovovich

Mila Jovovich rocked the “Old Hollywood” influence as well as Penelope Cruz. I love the finger waves, red lips, and understated jewelry. The perfect icing to an incredible dress. Sexy without revealing… the beading is amazing and the structured one shoulder is beautiful.

Emma Stone

I’ve read a bunch of negativity about Emma Stone’s bow, but I absolutely loved it! I don’t think it was too big or looked like it was eating her alive. It was an elegant gown for her tall figure, but with some youthful fun!

I also really liked the structured rose on Stacy Kiebler‘s hip. Very few figures could pull it off, but I thought it was a gorgeous centerpiece to her look, without detracting from her face. And of course you couldn’t go wrong with her main accessory. 😉 Glenn Close was classy, beautiful, and age-appropriate. Someone who’s aged with grace!

My negatives? I thought Angelina Jolie looked gorgeous except, in my opinion, her look was ruined with a too-high slit. Leaving some to the imagination is not only classy, but sexy. I don’t think she would have lost her signature, slightly edgy look with a little more modesty. The cast of Bridesmaids brought the vulgarity skipped by Billy Crystal. As I tweeted last night, being ladylike is not determined by a pretty dress. I found their behavior incredibly unflattering. Jennifer Lopez was typically busting out of her dress – girl has a great body and could absolutely stun in a lot of silhouettes but she always chooses a tacky, skin-tight look. Can I say it again? Less is more!

Overall, I was so pleased to see a vintage influence and something of a return to classy elegance. The majority of the stars seemed to be eschewing cleavage, slits to the hip, and dangerously backless frocks in favor of classic, stunning ball gowns reminiscent of a Grace Kelly-type style.

xoxo,
Alanna

Once Upon a Time Wednesday: Prairie Dress

Gosh, I can’t believe it’s been a week since I’ve posted. And I was doing better, too. Sorry y’all. But didn’t I tell you that having at least one scheduled theme post would help me? If it weren’t for today been Wednesday and Imustpostonceuponatime, maybe it would be another week before I posted. I can’t believe I almost forgot, too, because I got the photos for today’s post from my mom last week…

Annnnd… enter The Prairie Dress. I have always had a thing for Fashion. Always. When I was a bitty baby, not yet walking, we were visiting my grandparents and I disappeared. My mom found me in my grandma’s closet, sucking my thumb and cooing as I stroked her long dresses hanging down.

I have also always loved history. Maybe it’s my love of people and maybe it’s having grown up the daughter of a history major. Maybe it’s the opportunity I had of being taught in such a way that it came alive (thank you Mom!). Most likely a combo of all three. But anyway… my connection with history has always included a special fascination with what people wore during each time period.

When I was five-and-a-half, I got my first (of four) American Girls dolls, Kirsten (way back when there were only 3 dolls – and, hey, why is the Kirsten doll retired?). I loved being read the Little House books over and over. I was pretty sure I wanted to travel west in a covered wagon. Only problem was we lived in Oregon, so we actually ended up traveling east. In a minivan. But that’s another story.

I’m not sure how it came about, but when I was six my mom made me a prairie dress, complete with bonnet, pinafore, and eyelet-trimmed pantaloons. It was like my dream dress. I wanted to wear it EVERWHERE. And, honestly, I did. I probably wore it to church. The picture above was taken at the historical Carter plantation in Virginia. I do remember being a little worried about wearing it there. Not for the attention factor, but simply because I knew that it dated a good 80-90 years later than the time period of the plantation. I didn’t want people to think that I was ignorant of my historical inaccuracy. I think my mom convinced me that it wasn’t a travesty and lightening wouldn’t strike if I wore a late 1800s outfit to a colonial plantation.

I have one more photo to share of me in the The Prairie Dress. And oh, is it a good one!

This, my friends is a genuine, photographic specimen of what is known as The Princess Smile. I was convinced that princesses (and all other noteworthy females) smiled with this cheesy, lethargic-eyed, lip-pursed half-smile. It seemed elegant and somewhat tragic. Certainly dreamy. I’m sure Anne Shirley would understand.

The truth is… I would gladly wear historical costumes most days. Unfortunately, though, I’m now 26 and aware of social conventions. But I do let vintage wear take a place in my wardrobe, mixed with more modern pieces (er, or not). And give me any opportunity to dress up… I’ll be there. Perhaps one of my next posts should be about my Regency ball gown… (speaking of which, mom – will you send it to me?)

xoxo,
Alanna

Project 366!

Bonsoir, mes petites chous!*

It’s time again for a new week of Project 366. Made it 15 days already – whew! Well, 16 including today but y’all won’t get to see that ’til next week.

January 9 – I finally caved and decided to get a hair dryer with diffuser. I’ve been a life-long wet-head, air-dryer but I’ve thought about a diffuser for a while (the ONLY way I would consider heat styling my delicate curly hair).

January 10 – In preparation for Once Upon a Time Wednesday, I was browsing through old photos. I came across this sweet one from September 2010, when I was visiting my month-old nephew. Auntie Boo loves her boy. And yes… somehow I still chose to write about my hair?

January 11 – The night before I accidentally ended up making spaghetti sauce from scratch, so M. and I decided to repeat the idea this night (aaaaand Saturday, too). It was delicious, if I’m allowed to say so myself! As I said on Facebook… for a Malaysian and a Western European mutt, we sure do Italian pretty well.

January 12 – I finally remember to start the process to make nut milk, via this tutorial video. It definitely looked like milk, but I think I must not have had enough pecans because it tasted like… kinda pecan-flavored water. Not quite drinkable but I’ve used it on oatmeal in the mornings.

January 13 – I was sorting through some boxes I brought to the condo in May, full of random things tossed in at the last minute. I’d intended to take care of them long ago but hadn’t until now. Lucy enjoyed playing with the packing paper. I still need to vacuum – there are bits of paper all over my room!

January 14 – These beautiful pansies (plus yellow ones, too!) greet me when I drive through our gate. Pansies are my very favorite flower (as I mentioned before) and it makes me so happy to see their cheery faces when I get home. Saturday afternoon instead of going straight inside from the car, I walked about the complex a bit, taking pictures. I hadn’t done that in a while but I love to talk solitary walks with a camera. It was good for my soul!

This girl is sleepy – so off to bed it is for me. Tomorrow is *MoNdAy* – the day of new beginnings! Have a super start to your week, y’all!

xoxo,
Alanna

*Good evening, my little cabbages. According to my French prof in college (and she was truly French – a real Parisian), “cabbage” is a pet name in France. She always called us, “mes petites chous!”

Once Upon a Time Wednesday

Holy whoa. Please can I have a hammock bed? I’m pretty sure I was a lot less covetous before I discovered Pinterest.

Ahem. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

So I’ve been thinking about ways to both motivate my blogging and make some sort of routine. Obvious solution: some sort of regular feature post (or two). I have to be like all the cool kids, you know. So. I came up with “Once Upon a Time Wednesdays.” I like telling stories and for a 26 year old I do think I’ve had a decently interesting life. Actually I think everyone has, but that’s a thought for another post. So I declare that from hence forth, every Wednesday I shall tell you Something about my past. A story, a memory, reveal my deep dark secrets… you get the idea. Y’all are smart, right?

So. I thought I’d tell you about how I used to be Rapunzel… kinda. Once upon a time, my hair was – as we say here in the South – A Hot Mess. Like underline, italicize, bold Hot Mess. It’s always been curly. And plentiful. And I brushed it. So it was a fluffy Hot Mess. I wish I had some old photos to show you from my middleschool and highschool years. Or maybe not, because I was pretty much Frump Girl and yeah. You might be shocked. I’ve come a looooong way, people.

Anyway, I slowly began to discover that my hair wasn’t so bad if I didn’t do certain things like brush it. And then I saw the light and discovered the Curly Girl/No ‘Poo (As in SHAMpoo) method 7 years ago. And my hair has been getting better and better. But first I got it into my head that I would see how long it would grow. And so by the end of my junior year in college it looked like this…

Rapunzel hair!

Every time I look at this picture my eyes bug out just a little bit because I forget how stinkin’ long it got. I chopped off 14″ (that curly inches… it was longer stretched out) and donated it to Wigs for Kids. And never in my life again shall my hair get that long.

Okay. This was pretty much the lamest start to Once Upon a Time Wednesdays. But I figured I just needed to start and this is what came to mind. 🙂 But very few people in my life now know how ridiculously long my hair was and it’s kind of a fun fact. I promise you’ll actually get a real story next week.

Anyway. On the subject of hair… well I’ve got some interesting (and good) news to tell you! But I’m going to sit tight on it just a bit longer in the blogosphere. Ooooh. Secrets!

xoxo,
Alanna