summer shopping list: shoes

My absolute favorite part of summer is driving around when it's warm and sunny out, listening to music. Usually I hate car trips, but when you have the windows down and the right song (preferably something frothy and substanceless and great to sing along to) comes on? There's nothing like it, and nothing else says summer more clearly to me.

Of course, summer is also the time for wardrobe metamorphosis, as we all emerge from the woolly cocoons of sweaters and peacoats and become beautiful, colorful butterflies again. Shed your layers! Forget every bland piece of clothing you had to wear to keep your arms from falling off (or is that just me?)! Summer fashion is sort of a strange thing to me. Things seem to simultaneously chic up and scrub up. There are tons of cute summer clothes, but a lot of them are ultra casual. I don't really have a grand point here, just an observation!

So, after that tangent, shoes!

flirty footwear

yeah, I always wanted to make a circle of shoes like this!

Summer shoes are kind of the greatest shoes. I like a pair of cheery flats that I can just slip on as I leave the house, and slip off whenever I choose...if I find a sprinkler to run through or something unexpectedly, who knows! All sorts of crazy stuff happens in the summer! I don't usually want to bother with heels on the average summer day, but I'm not really much of a flipflop/sandal person. A really cute sandal might catch my attention, but for the most part, I'm interested in flats with some kind of cute decoration. Nothing too heavy or sparkly. Summer for me is all about the flowers and bows and polka dots and even some sassy nautical stripes. I know that "nautical" is the hot trend for pretty much every summer ever, but I never get sick of it.

Right now, I just have a pair of gray sneaker-style polka dot flats that I wear...pretty much every day. Which puts cute flats right up at the tip-top of my summer shopping list! Next time: accessories!

Happy Memorial Day weekend! We're firing up the grill tonight and Monday night for a good ol' USA grillathon. What are you folks up to over the long weekend?

grow it down to there (hair!)

I got my hair done today! It was my very first time having it colored professionally; it felt kind of wrong to be chilling in a salon chair instead of sitting on a desk chair dragged into the bathroom. But the results were miles better (even though all my amateur hair colorist friends did a great job! There's only so much you can do with a box), and she produced pretty much exactly the color I wanted. Now, if I had my way, my hair would be no-holds-barred true red. But I'm getting started interviewing and trying to make my way in the professional world, so no cherry bomb red for me. Stylewise, I'm pretty happy with what I've got, so I just asked her to trim it and touch up my layers. It was getting a little scraggly at the ends there.

Without further ado, the 'do:

Not a huge change, but it's pretty much exactly what I was hoping for, so I'm really pleased! And maybe it was a good talisman, because I came home from the salon with my interview-ready hair to find an offer for an interview! I was thrilled, and took the opportunity to call my temp agency...who also had a great opportunity for me to work a few days and (hopefully!) hear Tim Gunn speak. I know. It's amazing what a good hair day can do for you!

cupcake follow-up! chocolate malted from martha stewart

As soon as she saw my post from Saturday, my sister was deeply interested. "When are you going to make those cupcakes?" She asked. And then the next day, "You haven't made cupcakes yet. Where are the cupcakes?" So today, while she was at school, I made the cupcakes!

My fabulous team of ingredients. The only things I had to buy for this recipe was sour cream, malt powder, and the cocoa powder, which is why I picked this first. A lot of Martha's recipes are very fancy/specialized, but you can definitely find ones that are more tailored to kitchen basics.

First the dry ingredients:

Then the wet:

I forgot to take a picture of the batter all mixed together; to be honest, I'm kind of terrified of electric mixers. Usually I just do whatever mixing I have to by hand, but this was my cupcake adventure, so I obeyed Martha and whipped our the electric. And I didn't even end up with a humorous poof of cocoa and flour in my face!

My actual baking was a little bit out of the ordinary. Our oven has been broken for a while now, and to tide us over until we get around to replacing it, my parents bought a little countertop oven that has convection settings as well. The only downside is that it's basically a 12x12 oven: a cupcake tray does not fit. So we bought silicone cupcake molds, and I just set those on top of one of the oven's little baking trays.

Ta-da! The directions said to fill the cups halfway, which I did...resulting in the first batch of tiny cupcakes, that look sort of like little golf balls in cupcake wrappers. The rest I filled up more generously, and they came out looking just lovely.

I was going to make the vanilla frosting Martha recommended, but there wasn't time. We dusted them with powdered sugar instead. They were delicious just like that!

saturday sweets: martha stewart's cupcakes

Weekends are always the hardest days for me to actually get my rear in gear and put a post together. So I've decided to try to put up something sweet and delicious on Saturdays, just to start the weekend off right.

One of the definite upsides of being home: book presents! You see, my mom works in a library (but is not a librarian! Even though she does pretty much exactly the same thing as any librarian! Oh the wacky adventures of my family!), and as such, gets first dibs on the books that have been donated/decommissioned for the book sale room. Score!

It also means she checks out books that I might find when she presented me with a copy of Martha Stewart's Cupcakes yesterday, I thought it must be from the library's collection. Surely such a fabulous book in excellent condition was still in circulation! But when I sat down to flip through, I saw the tell-tale blacked out code: the book was mine!

Available on Amazon for $14.69

I've only taken a cursory tour through the recipes, but I already have a list of delicious tiny cakes I can't wait to try! I know that cupcakes are both ultra-trendy and ultra-passe at the moment, but I still love them. I have a ridiculous sweet tooth, so a hefty helping of frosting is a plus for me! But the fact never changes that they're personal-sized cakes. It makes it really easy to try a variety of flavors, decoration options, and techniques. Plus, you can eat a lot of them without feeling guilty!

The two that immediately got a "gotta try it" from me were the rhubarb cupcakes (we're huge rhubarb fans in my house, and sometimes we're able to bake with what grows in our backyard!) and the tiramisu cupcakes (tiramisu is basically my sister an I's signature dessert -- anytime we're out to dinner together and it's on the menu, we have to get a piece!) And those are just in the first section! I picked the recipe that had the least ingredients I didn't already have, so I'll be whipping up a batch of Chocolate Malted Cupcakes sometime this weekend. I'll definitely keep you guys updated with my experiments, though, it's Martha: you know it's going to be good!

operation update: bumps (and deskspiration!)

Now that I'm home, the plan to update my room seems...both more and less possible than from afar. I feel vindicated that all the things I remember as being pretty cool about it are, in fact, still pretty cool! I feel excited to get a little HGTV with it and carve out my own space! I feel somewhat defeated because my room is filled with stuff.

Yes, gentle readers, I completely forgot the most obvious fact: having just moved my entire life from one place to another, my room is filled with boxes, bags, suitcases, and everything else that was at school with me. It should be easy enough, right? Just put it all away! But aye, there's the rub; my lovely double closet? Is filled with enough junk to choke a dragon. It was never really properly cleaned out before I went to school and in the last four years has become a receptacle for everything I don't feel like dealing with. I have to clear out the closet before I can clear out the room before I can redo the room.

Yikes. That sounds like a lot of work for one little redecoration! But luckily, I have my inspiration to keep me going. I've been trying to save the great rooms I come across on Pinterest, which is a really nifty online pinboard site. Lately, I've been gravitating towards desks, which makes sense, since that's the major element of my update that I don't have!

Clipboards! I remember first seeing this organizational trick on Saucy Dwellings ages ago, and I still adore it. What a stylish and easy way to keep everything you need right where you need it!

This gorgeous and airy double-desk space is bigger than anything I can manage now, but doesn't it look like the greatest place to work? In a dream world, I would have a desk like this, with one half for my computer/writing and the other half for crafting!

A lovely desk with inspiration board. I have my inspiration almost entirely online (and even in board form, thanks to Pinterest!), but there's something wonderfully romantic about a physical representation of your inspiration. Maybe I need to start printing things or reading more magazines! I do have all those bulletin boards without a purpose...

You can see more of my room inspiration and the sources for all these pictures on my Room Inspiration board. If you're on Pinterest, let me know so I can creep on your boards as well!

Also, I'm getting close to two groovy milestones (for me): 100 posts and 25 followers! I've been thinking about doing a giveaway once I reach one of them, though I haven't decided which. Thoughts?

hair experiments: the baking soda and vinegar adventure

In my last post, I mentioned a bit of a change-up in my hair care ritual. I've officially come out to my parents about it, so I figured I can tell the blogosphere: I've started washing my hair with baking soda and vinegar.

Source, with some other great tips for cleaning with these!

Now we rewind a bit. One of my school friends actually started doing this last year, and I definitely turned up my nose at it. Really? Vinegar? I've always had difficult hair: oily, tangle-prone, frizz-prone. And it's curly, which means the wrong shampoo leaves me with residue weighing my hair down and making it not-so-fabulous. And, once I started dyeing it, I went straight for the color protection stuff because of course I picked the color with the highest fade.

On a more ideological level, I've never really been one for "hippie" stuff. You only really have to look at the amount of Mountain Dew I drink to know how I feel about putting chemicals in my body! But I've gotten really into DIY and the kind of offbeat domesticity that's going around the blogosphere these days, and, well, I'm cheap. If I could take the $14 I spend on shampoo/conditioner and buy lipstick instead? I would be a very happy camper. So when my (now ex, sob!) roommate Claire decided to take the leap, I leapt right after her!

It's definitely a process. I'm still experimenting with the right amount of baking soda, and being at home changed everything up -- the water here is very hard (we have a well), and has always made my hair coarser. I mix a few tablespoons of baking soda into a glass of water, and a tablespoon or two of vinegar into another glass. And I resist the temptation to pour them on at the same time and make a volcano on my head.

The vinegar has almost completely detangled my hair. What used to be a fight is now just a few strokes of the comb. When I have the right ratio of baking soda to water to hair, my hair is completely residue-free and curls up into fat ringlets that I totally love. And, my major concern: my hair does not smell like vinegar. I'm not sure if I'm on the baking soda and vinegar train for good, but so far, I'm happy (and thrifty!)

Baking soda, by the way, is apparently the superhero of the world. I had no idea! But I googled it when Claire and I were trying to figure out the reasoning behind this method, and you can use baking soda for...everything, basically. It's obviously used in baking, but also as a meat tenderizer, to lower acidity in sauces, to clean pretty much anything in the household, to deodorize to soothe sunburn and poison ivy, to put out grease fires, to keep ants away, to brush your teeth, or to balance the pH of your pool! (Source!) That's a lot of work for something so inexpensive!

What do you use baking soda for? Just cookies, or for something cool? Share your best tips in the comments!

mortarboard diy

I don't know if this is the case at other schools, but at my school (almost my alma mater, yikes!), graduating seniors decorate their mortarboards for the Commencement ceremony. It ranges from the fairly sedate 2D drawings and messages to full on 3D extravaganzas (a guy last year built a log cabin out of sticks on his, and a friend attached his top hat to his!). I was pretty unsure of what I wanted to do, but finally decided on something that I thought suited me rather well.

Decoupage-palooza! I needed one (1) mortarboard, one (1) bottle of Modge Podge, and one (1) book that I didn't like and the bookstore refused to buy back.

Sorry, dude

I will admit that tearing the pages out of a book was both terrifying and thrilling. I don't know if I could have done it to a beloved novel, but a short story collection that I was forced to buy for class? You're toast, buddy. The really satisfying part was tearing each page into little pieces for a more patchwork appearance.

Originally, my plan was to write a quotation that I'm especially fond of on top of the pages, but now I sort of like the literary simplicity of this. I might write the quote along the underside of the actual "board." We'll see how it goes!

Here's a shot from a little further back (and yes, the combination of my new haircare routine, which I will probably post about eventually, and the humidity has definitely turned my hair into a mess of ringlet tentacles. I kind of feel like my head is a squid. And I kind of like it.)

Such fun! (And a glimpse of my school colors, blue and gold!) I have to say, there's also something excellent about having a kitchen table totally overrun with craft supplies. I can't wait to do more DIY in my decorating life; that desk I keep talking about runs a high risk of being covered in projects.

Have any of you ever heard of/participated in this tradition? I'm hoping to get shots of my friends and roommates caps as well (I already know one that's super fabulous), and will share those with you if I can.

soaped up

My dear readers, I feel we know each other pretty well by now, this being the 87th (!!!) post and all. And there's something I've been meaning to say. Now, I don't want to hurt your feelings, but, well...I really think you ought to shower more often.

Haha, just kidding! I don't think you smell! The internet doesn't even transmit scent waves. But you're probably going to want to shower a lot more often when you check out these awesome soaps:

All images & soaps from GeekSoap. (The cut-off attributions are due to fit, no intention to cover them up!)

Aren't those the greatest things? GeekSoap also features a number of other deliciously nerdily themed soaps, including binary, WOW, pi, mustaches, Trek, and all sorts of old school games and superhero-y goodness. They're really well-priced for their awesomeness, and are handmade, all-natural, and vegan.

I haven't bought anything from here (yet), so I can't vouch for scent or the squeaky-clean feeling they may or may not provide, but even as decoration, these little guys are darling. I have to admit I'm partial to the charming social networking ones...perfect for the blogger who loves to shower (or one who needs a little extra motivation)! I don't know if I could actually use them my house, we used to put nice smell soaps in dresser drawers to keep clothes smell fresh, or out on shelves. That might be more my speed when it comes to soap this cute.

Which soap would you pick? Do you think you could bear to use one and let the cute little geeky design wash away down the the drain?

nails nails nails

I've been growing my nails out since middle school, and by now, they can get pretty darn long. I get a lot of questions about them, the most common being "Are those your real nails?" and the second most common being "How do you type?" The answers are: yes and quite quickly, thank you. But, much as I hate to admit it, they don't always look very well cared for, for one simple reason: I stink at painting nails.

When I was in high school, once a week my mom would paint my nails, usually while we were watching a movie. But then I went to college, and I felt silly asking someone to paint my nails for me. I can usually manage a half decent job on the left hand, but the right? Disaster area!

But the internet is a cruel temptress. I keep seeing these magical manicures popping up, just the right mix of glamorous and kitschy: right where I belong!

All images via Awesome Finds

I'm going to pick up some nail polish when I go out this afternoon, and hopefully I'll manage to figure a simple but attractive manicure I can do for myself for graduation. My current plan is polka dots!

Any manicure tips? What's your favorite kitschy manicure? (A girl in my class did Pokeballs was pretty amazing!)

Hey! Renovations are pretty much done, so if you're reading this through a feed, come on over to the blog proper and check it out~. I added some nifty sharing buttons, so it's super easy for you to show all your friends the cool stuff you see on here!

end of an era/spring cleaning

I went to my very last class today! For all intents and purposes...I'm done. I still have one bonus class (my professor was speaking at a conference and missed the last day), and two brief written finals to do, but I believe they can both be submitted electronically. So, really, I few a few strings left to tie off, but really? I'm done.

Today was also exciting because I won an award!

Yay! I've started wearing my "summer" lipglosses again, including this one (my favorite), Skipper, a "juicy coral"

I won a prose prize for one of my short stories, which I've been really proud of. So that was a great way to wrap up my career as a creative writing major!

Along with these exciting life changes, there are also going to be some changes going on right here at Fickle Kitsch (gasp!). I've been wanting to fiddle with some things, give the blog a bit of a new look, for a while, and it seems like as good a time as any. I have less on my plate academically, and it does sort of feel poetic, doesn't it?

This announcement is sort of twofold in purpose: first, don't be alarmed/disgusted if you check the site and things are looking a bit squiffy! I'm going to be fiddling with HTML (always a dangerous prospect), but everything will get set aright eventually.

Secondly, I want your opinions! What do you want to see (design-wise, or content-wise)? Any thoughts/ideas/criticisms? Lay 'em on me! It's much appreciated ♥

operation update: the plan

Hopefully most of you have picked up on the fact that I'm graduating in (ulp) two weeks. This means an awful lot of very exciting and moving and important things, but it also means this: I'm moving back home. For an indefinite period of time.

Our lives in the style of the always adorable Pear Pear on the chalkboard sticker (very cool!). Japanese courtesy of Kaitlin.

I've already started packing up most of my things from this year's apartment. It's sad, but to be honest, it was still student housing, and I was never really able to personalize it (all standard furniture, etc). My room at home is already pretty personalized, but it's definitely a young adult room. Not a young professional.

Obviously, it doesn't make sense to completely redo the room, when I'll (hopefully) be moving out within the year. But at the same time, I did decide that I wanted to live as close to my ideal at any given time -- no waiting for the perfect scenario allowed! So I'm planning on doing some tweaking and, with luck, will blog about it until my room is a (slightly) new place!

Things I Won't/Can't Change

  1. the color (I actually selected a, in my opinion, rather sophisticated pair of blues when my room was repainted in high school. Still love 'em!)
  2. the bed &
  3. the dresser &
  4. the nightstand (which are all part of a set that was bought for me when I was a wee one and is still really nice/stylish)
  5. existing window treatments (we put up blinds a few years ago, and they get the job done!)
  6. floor lamp (I love this lamp. Hopefully when I post pictures of my room as-is, you will love it too)

Things I Plan to Change

  1. bedding (I still have a Harry Potter bedding set on my bed. Go ahead. Laugh for a moment, then be jealous. Then we'll move on)
  2. desk (I don't have one! but I want one. I feel that's one of the key elements that will separate general teen "bedroom" into an adult's "mini-apartment inside your parents house" for me. Also, a place for my laptop to live when I do have a real apartment!)
  3. rug (maybe. I used to have one when I was younger, but it didn't fit the redo. Now I'm sort of hankering for one again to tie the room together. I might be watching too much "For Rent" on
  4. furniture accessories (I have a vague notion to put drawer pulls on my dresser and nightstand. I'm feeling that might liven them up/make them feel "new" without much work or cost)
  5. bulletin boards (I have them. Three of them. They saved my room from being covered in posters, which I'm thankful for, but as fond as I am of them, they've gotta go if I want to update the room. Alternate solution: place one stylish poster in each of them and pretend they're wooden frames.)

That's my starting point. Any suggestions, folks who have done it before? Are any other graduates worried about making your "old" room a good space for the "new" you?

Also, happy May!


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