birthdaypalooza wishlist

Wow, time flies when you're not sitting around having fun all day! It's true, I've returned to the 9-to-5 world (well, the 8:30-to-4:30 world) and have totally fallen off the blogging wagon. Eventually I'll figure out how to balance my it is, as soon as I get home from work, my brain shuts off.

I had all those grand plans about doing a series of hostess-related posts leading up to my birthday, and lo and behold, it's tomorrow! And I only got one done. The best laid plans, etc etc. Don't worry, I've decided to make hosting a regular subject of the blog, so you'll get a chance to see all my party plans.

But today, I thought I would share a few of the things I've been lusting after (and pinning!). None of these will be among my presents, but I just might get a present or two for myself!

"And a bit alarming" by Claire Hummel, print available here

I really love this artist (you can find her tumblr right here: Shoomlah), and the thing I love most are her amazing historical Disney princess. Why? Things I love, a list: history, Disney. Belle is my very favorite princess and accordingly my favorite print. I would like to get a second one to have a pair, but I can't decide! Snow White is probably the best match colorwise, and Ariel is my next favorite after Belle but I'm not as fond of her dress. Which one would you get?

Source: via Jennifer on Pinterest

Audrey Hepburn chalkboard! I am so charmed, this is amazing. I'm a huge Hepburn fan; she's almost a cliche of a style icon by now, but for good reason! She's fabulous. I would love to have this propped up on my desk. I would use chalk markers, though; chalk dust drives me absolutely batty.

The Chroma-logical Order Clock

Okay, I kind of hate clocks. It took me a really long time for me to figure out how to tell time as a child, and I still much prefer the ease of a digital display. Maybe that's why this clock thrills me. No numbers! Modcloth is selling this one for $61.99, but it's out of stock, so there's no reason to feel guilty about DIYing it!

"Murder Mystery" by Aled Lewis, print available here

All of the prints in this series are incredible, and I highly recommend you follow the link and check them out. But this one in particular speaks to me. I'm really loving the idea of little collection of art pieces (like over on Yellow Brick Home), so I think I might order a few prints and then go thrifting for some frames to make my own personal gallery.

Do you give yourself birthday presents once in a while, or is that just my terrible rationalization for buying things?

party down: DIY pizza party

In honor of my upcoming birthday, I'm doing an experiment and incorporating something else near and dear to my heart into my blog: throwing parties! Hope you enjoy!

There's nothing that says "party" quite like pizza! But sometimes, delivery pizza just doesn't quite hit it. There are the endless debates about toppings, trying to get the order squared away with the poor pizza slave with all your "half-olives and half-pineapple with tomato on the whole thing and sausage on the half with the olives," waiting for the delivery to arrive, figuring out the tip, and somehow, you always end up with half a box of the kind you absolutely will not eat. What a drag.

But there is a way to make pizza the life of the party, get everyone from picky eaters to adventurous foodies what they want with no compromises, and do it for a lot cheaper than delivery. DIY Pizza Party!

Homemade pizza is a snap to make. It's half-a-snap (a...lonely finger?) if you have a bread machine. The morning of your gathering, make a few batches of your favorite dough recipe and after they rise a bit, leave them in the fridge to make the dough more workable. (There's a lot of online debate about the perfect pizza dough, but I'm easy so I just make either this random recipe I googled or the one in the bread machine recipe book. Works just fine.)

You could prep some common toppings and set them up in a stylish toppings bar like Haute Apple Pie did with a mashed potato bar:

Photo by Haute Apple Pie

Or, if you're more of a hands-off (or low budget) host, or you have friends with eccentric tastes, make it a BYOToppings event. When my roomies and I hosted Pizza & Star Wars earlier this year, we provided dough, sauce, and cheese and asked our guests to bring whatever they would like on top. It was fun to see all the stuff they brought along!

As you may have guessed from the name, our party centered around making personal pizzas, then watching Star Wars (The Empire Strikes Back, to be precise). And hey, what could go better with pizza than a movie? But pizza could be a precursor to pretty much any activity. I would definitely attend a Pizza & Board Games party, Pizza & Hair Braiding (as long as there's a hand-washing portion hanging out in the ampersand), Pizza & Vampires. I just like pizza and other things in general.

If you want to get really fun (and I know bloggers are some of the best hosts around), I love the idea of buying a few pizza boxes (I googled and found these) for leftovers. You could make a neat little pizzeria label for yourself, or just keep it simple:

Modge-podge or glue it to your boxes, or if you're really cool, pick up some self-adhesive paper! That way your friends can take home their delicious creation (if there's any leftover!).

Hosting Tips:
  • Stagger your prep if possible -- you can only fit so many pizzas in an oven at once! Serve salad and breadsticks for sides or for people to nibble on while they wait for their pie.

  • Related: consider what pans are useable. It might make more sense for people to make square pizzas and then double up on a cookie sheet than have a lot of unused pan space with a traditional round one.

  • Keep an eye on that dough. If you're not used to working with dough, you might be surprised by how much it will grow left alone! I've definitely had dough go Little Shop of Horrors on me and burst free of plastic wrap to try to devour the rest of the contents of my fridge.

  • If you want to save time (and mess), roll out the dough into circles ahead of time. But it is pretty darn fun for guests to play with the dough and form their pizza!

Even if you aren't throwing a party, homemade pizza is surprisingly easy and brings a lot of fun and deliciousness to the table. My bread machine is humming away right now kneading some dough for my family to have our own private pizza party tonight!

thursday things

Sadly, pics from my POTTERVENTURE are being cruelly held hostage by Kaitlin's camera, so my costume post will have to wait.

I can't believe there's only a week left in July! The month went by so fast...but even with so little time left, there are a bunch of things that I'm still looking forward to.

The return of the always fabulous and often concerned Tim Gunn to television! By which, of course, I mean Project Runway! The last few seasons (ever since they moved to Lifetime) have been a little below par by my tastes at least, but the cast list for this season looks like it could be full of both drama and talent. (You need both to make a competition show run!)


Germanfest! One of my first posts on Fickle Kitsch was about how much I love dirndls, traditional German folk dresses. I still love them, and I can see dozens of them on the Germanfest grounds while I enjoy some good ol' oom-pah-pah bands and a huge plate of spanferkel. It's true, spanferkel (aka suckling pig) is pretty much my favorite part of the summer. If I could, I would spend an entire day at Germanfest just so I could have spanferkel for lunch and then again for dinner.

Bingo Number 22
Photo by Leo Reynolds

My birthday! I'm going to be turning 22 at the end of the month (same birthday as Harry Potter, what up!). Hopefully I'll have a friend or two fight the post-college sprawl to come back and spend the day hanging out in the city with me (although that might not happen until August). And I'm sure that I'll have a great dinner with family. I've seen a few bloggers post a "dream birthday party" post, so I'll probably whip one of those up as the day gets closer.

And this afternoon, I'll be going shopping to help my baby sister get everything she needs for her dorm. They grow up so fast!

What do you still have to look forward to in July?

in search of: jewelry storage

What I'm going to do with my jewelry has been an issue I've been considering for a long time. I have pretty much two modes of "storage" for my jewelry; either it all lays out and makes a mess or it's packed away into terribly unstylish plastic tubs. I really want a storage solution that's also stylish, so I can show my pieces off, have easy access to it, and take advantage of the touch of color and sparkle I could have, using jewelry I already own as a piece of art!

I own a lot of long necklaces, so a jewelry tree/stand, as cute as they may be, just isn't going to cut it. I'm open to buying a piece, though working a little DIY magic is tempting. Here's a spread, from ready-made to DIY, that I've been pinning to my "Room Inspiration" board.

Source: via Jennifer on Pinterest

Okay, so I snuck a stand in there, but c'mon, keys! How cute is that? And I could use a little stand for my earrings and rings. As much as I'm in love with those printer's trays, right now, I'm thinking about repainting a coatrack that I liberated from my last apartment. With some spray paint, it could add a funky edge to my room while still sticking with my kind of...airy outdoors-inspired theme. (That's a dumb way to describe a theme, I should work on that.)

How do you store your jewelry? Do you keep it tucked in a jewelry box or do you try to use it as a decoration? I'm just excited to stop keeping my pretties inside a tupperware!

operation update: new layout

I'm holding off on posting more pictures of my bedroom until I get a little further along for purposes of drama/excitement/etc. But I finally rearranged it last weekend, and after a week of living in it, I'm still pleased! So this new layout is now the official set-up of my updated room. I used the Icovia Space Planner to create some mock-ups of the before/after. I didn't measure or anything, so these aren't 100% accurate. They're close enough for my blood!



I was worried about lining up the majority of my furniture along the wall, but I actually really like how it looks. It creates a little "living area" on the left side of the room where I think I'd like to put a rug. It also opens up the rest of room, giving me more floor space and showing off the beautiful hardwood floors.

Rearranging everything has brought to mind a lot of new design/decorating ideas as well as convincing me of which ones I definitely have to do.

Still to come:
  • Wall decal for between the windows

  • Line the inside of the bookcase shelves with some bright paper (why did I buy a black bookcase?)

  • Take down cork boards, use one for inspiration board (cover with fabric?)

  • Jewelry storage (I'm thinking this one, but I've been shopping Etsy too)

  • Get some art on the walls (also: frames)

  • Desk organizer stuff

  • Rug shopping

  • Get another table lamp

  • Desk chair (I'm using one of our kitchen chairs for now)

So much left to do...but with the room rearranged, I'm really feeling confident about moving forward. That was the big step, and now that I know the way it fits together, it's a lot easier to pinpoint what needs to be spruced up. And I'm really excited for the shopping portion of this redecoration, of course!

concrete jungle: a field guide for fashionable temps

As I've mentioned before, I work for a temp agency. It can be a great way to experience a bunch of different companies and jobs, as well as a way to keep working in-between full-time jobs. I started working as a temp when I started college, because I could get placed over summers and breaks without having to worry about applying/reapplying. Plus, I got experience a lot of interesting places (offices, hospitals, call centers) instead of just your usual retail work. Being a temp can be nerve-wracking, because you basically have to learn a new job every few weeks (if you're lucky and get placed a lot!), and there are plenty of tricks you can use to get through a new placement with ease and style! (These tips are also applicable for pretty much any new job! But temping is my specialty.)

The First Day
the temp

This is probably the most monochromatic set I've ever created, and with good reason. Your first day is not the day to take fashion risks. If you've gone through the full process of applying and interviewing for a job, you probably have a decent idea about the office culture/expectations. As a temp, it's pretty likely you'll be thrown in headfirst. If you're in an office environment, there is no way to go wrong with a white blouse and a neutral colored skirt (pencil or A-line of approximately knee-length). Stick with nude/neutral makeup and toned down accessories. You might feel a little blah, but it's better to look a little bit too generic when compared with a more stylish office than to seem flashy compared to a conservative one. Get a feel for the style landscape your first day--pay particular attention to what the person training you (who is probably the person you'll be filling in for) is wearing.

Consider this to figure out the office style:
  • What colors do you see? Is it all neutrals (navy, black, beige) or are there brighter colors?

  • What kinds of shoes are people of your identity wearing? Heels? Loafers? Flats? A mix?

  • Is there a wide range of clothing based on department or level of authority? Are the executives wearing suits, but no one else is? Do the IT people have sneakers on, but everyone else has dress shoes?

  • What's the temperature like in the office? Does it get hot around noon? Is the A/C on full-blast?

  • Are there tattoos on display? Non-earlobe piercings? What about "non-traditional" hair colors?

The other great way to figure out what's okay in a new office setting style-wise is to ask. For the most part, places will give you a broad definition (like "professional attire" or "business casual") and it's easy enough to pick up on the specifics yourself while training. But if you're unsure or have a special question that you can't pick up through observation, it's always best to ask outright!

Outfit Remix

pencil gradient

What I've tried to do here is create a theoretical gradient of office appropriate clothing, showing the same basic outfit (a pencil skirt and a white blouse) in three different levels of professional attire. On the right is obviously the most conservative, for a "suits and ties" sort of office. We're keeping things neutral still, not a lot of style experimenting going on. The middle is a more medium grade office, where you can get away with some flash but still want to keep things buttoned-up. We're incorporating color and pattern, and having a little bit of fun with the shoes. The left is fairly unlikely in terms of temp placement, as far as I can tell, but would be great for a very vibrant, creative office or team. Lots of color and style, getting bold with the color combinations and very trendy with the jewelry. I picked flats for all of these outfits because I usually prefer to work in them--you never know when you'll be asked to make 10+ round trips up and down a flight of stairs to the copy machine!

A fashionista still has to be stylish at work, but the corporate world has its dictates. These are particularly stringent when you're a temp; there are no guarantees, and you really want to make a good impression (who knows, if they like you enough they might keep you!). Fashion is, of course, only a small part of that. Be as friendly and diligent as possible...just because it's not a permanent gig doesn't mean you can put in half the effort. You get back whatever you give, as they say.

Have you ever worked as a temp? Made a fashion faux pas at a new job? I've been pretty lucky so far as far as fashion goes...although I did make the mistake of wearing a new skirt to work without sitting down in it first. It rode up a lot higher than I expected and definitely took some finagling to stay "office appropriate" while at my desk!

giveaway winner

This morning I made the drive down to Kaitlin and my alma mater to meet up with her for our POTTERVENTURE. So I'm posting to you live from Beloit to bring you the winner of my very first giveaway.

The recipient of the Sock Dreams giftcard is...Julie! Congratulations! Please e-mail me ( to collect your prize!

Thank you to all the entrants; I hope that you go ahead and buy yourselves the socks of your choosing, even if I'm not going to be treating you to them! And welcome to my new followers!

Who's going to see Harry Potter tonight? Feel free to party in the comments if you're so moved--I always love to get new gifs! My plan for tonight is to get dressed up, go to dinner in costume, and then cry buckets and buckets of tears. It's going to be totally awesome!

HP Theory -- Snape: The Last Marauder

I'll be seeing the very last Harry Potter movie tomorrow (well, technically Friday, but 12:04 still feels like part of tomorrow!) with my girl Disdainbrook, and we decided to commemorate the series that so many of us grew up with with a pair of HP theory posts. You'll probably want to start with Kaitlin's post about the nature of sorting, and then come back here to check mine out for a little HP Theory 201. I'll wait! (If the text-heavy isn't really your style, check out the Hogwarts house inspired outfits I created in honor of Deathly Hallows part 1!)

One of the things that English majors and fangirls alike love to do is imagine "what if" scenarios. By taking what we know about a story and using that to twist it, think of something different, you can learn so much more about it. In English majordom, this is all very academic and rooted in literary theory and usually has words like "exemplify" and lots of footnotes. Luckily, this isn't academia, this is fandom, so it's all just for funsies.

Image via

So, if we believe that the Sorting is primarily based on choice (which I think Kaitlin pretty clearly proves), it stands to reason that Snape could just as easily been a Gryffindor. Lily would have been sorted before him, and his passion for her is what drives him throughout the entire series--it's not hard to imagine that he would have wished more fervently than anything to be sorted into the same house as she was. Peter Pettigrew is in no way shape or form a Gryffindor (seriously, he seems to be a clear case of sorting for narrative ease, which is just lazy), so we'll dispense with him. His role in the Marauders, the toady, the fanboy, would be easily filled by Snape.

After all, our bitterest hatred is often reserved for those we're most jealous of. If he was placed in the same dormitory as James Potter, slept next to him, ate with him, studied with's possible that the hatred we saw would have instead blossomed as admiration for a boy who was handsome and carefree, as Snape would have wanted for himself. Being close to who we want to be is the next best thing, right? Plus, with Snape's obvious innate talent for magic--his prowess in potions and especially his gift for developing his own spells--he could certainly win the admiration of a pair of pranksters like James and Sirius. And Lupin, we know, had no special animosity towards Snape. They could have been friends.

The subject of Lily is really where this alternate timeline becomes interesting. The text says that Lily and Snape fell out over his interest in the Dark Arts. As a Gryffindor with other (presumably more light-hearted) outlets, would they have been able to develop their friendship into the more romantic relationship Snape longed for? Or, when all of his energies and yearnings for acceptance and adequacy were not focused on one single woman as his symbol of goodness, would his obsession with her have dissipated, allowing them to be true friends?

Let's assume for the sake of canon that James and Lily are meant to be together and would get together, even in this shifted universe. That's a pain and a betrayal of a whole different kind for Snape; this time, it's his friend (and in many ways his ideal self) "taking" the object of his affections from him. He would be expected to stay quiet, even congratulate James in his pursuit of Lily, all the while lusting after her. Would he be self-possessed enough to make his conflict known? The Snape we know is an intensely private person, and for all that he is entirely (I would argue) driven by selfish wants, he keeps these wants to himself. (Note that in this context, selfish is not necessarily a negative thing. Only that past any desire for good, evil, knowledge, whatever, Snape is propelled by his self, his own personal desires.) He wouldn't necessarily know how to move out of the supporting role in the Marauders, where he's expected to be a yes-man for James and Sirius, the "leads."

But if our Gryffindor!Snape was pushed this far, perhaps as far as the canonical Snape was, he could not go the same route as canonical Snape. He doesn't have the Dark Arts knowledge that his Slytherin self had, none of the Dark short, he would be lost. Of course, I would hope that his interactions with lively people (especially Sirius Black, who I think would have an important lesson for Snape about separating yourself from your heritage and being your own person) would make recognizing that Lily never felt the same way he did easier and give him the ability to move on.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this theory! Kaitlin and I have talked about it a million times, and it's great to hear new perspectives. Other points of interest: If Gryffindor!Snape was as skilled at Potions as his canonical self, could he have brewed a Wolfsbane potion for Lupin that would have eliminated the need for the Marauders to become Animagi? If not, what Animagus form might Snape have taken? If Snape was a Marauder, it can be assumed that Peter Pettigrew would have taken his place in Slytherin--how would that have affected him?

I know this is a bit of a departure for FK, but hey, it's Harry Potter. Also, my Sock Dreams giveaway deadline has been extended to midnight tonight (CST). You've still got a chance to win the $20 giftcard!

baby's first giveaway (and socks!)

I mentioned it before on twitter, I believe, but this Tuesday was a very special day: my first bloggiversary! I had planned to post on the actual day, of course, but I've been temping full-time this week and haven't had much time for blogging. But I'll be done with my placement next week and hopefully I'll learn to work and blog concurrently (since both of those are things I will hopefully be doing much more often!)

Other exciting things: my Quidditch socks came! I'm going to the very last midnight premiere of the very last Harry Potter movie and I wouldn't dream of going in plainclothes. Disdainbrook and I will be there with bells on, as well as a pair of radish earrings for her and Quidditch goggles for me! (The two of us also have some Potterlicious posts coming up next week, so watch out for that.) I'm going dressed as a Quidditch player, and will be DIYing most of my costume. However, as we all know, a few accessories can make a look, so I splurged and got myself the aforementioned goggles and socks!

Just a webcam teaser, I'll have a full post up after the premiere next week! and excuse my pasty pasty legs

And speaking of might have noticed that I've been considering a giveaway for a while. As it happened, several of the milestones I had thought might be good giveaway opportunities (25 followers, 100 posts, 1 year) fell in the same week or two. I really appreciate my readers and followers, and anyone who made me feel like I was doing more than just shooting words into the vast digital void. One of my first posts was about the marvelous Sock Dreams, where I just bought my utterly magical Quidditch socks--and where I'd like to buy you a pair (or two) of socks!

Win a $20 gift card to Sock Dreams, to be spent on whatever glorious socks tickle your fancy!

To enter:
1. Be a follower of Fickle Kitsch
2. Comment on this entry with the pair of socks, tights, or sock accessories your heart most desires!
3. ???
4. Profit!

Comments will be accepted until noon CST on Wednesday, July 13th.
Because Sock Dreams was nice enough to link my giveaway, I'm extending the deadline to midnight CST tonight. There's still a chance to win!

Don't forget that Sock Dreams has free shipping on all US orders (free shipping that is, in my experience, crazy fast!) and is super groovy.

I'll select a winner through random number generation. Please feel free to spread the word/tell your friends...I would of course love for you to follow my twitter or Pinterest, but I'm keeping things simple for my first giveaway so there is just one entry per person. Following me elsewhere might make me love you a little more, but it won't affect your chances here!

This giveaway is 100% funded by me and is not sponsored by Sock Dreams

summer inspiration: the vespa

As I was driving home from my temp job today...well, my dad was driving. I don't have a car yet, due to lack of employment, and that's actually relevant to this post. We were cruising along with the windows down, hair blowing in the breeze, and my dad remarked, "Maybe you should get a little scooter."

I can't believe I didn't think of it while I was talking about summer daydreams in the last post, but somehow it did! And it's probably a good thing, because it's deserving of a post all its own. My ultimate summer fantasy? A Vespa!

This is pretty much my goal.

Zipping through the streets with nary a care in the world, wearing a pair of colorful pumps, a totally adorable mod helmet, and an appropriately foofy skirt (with bike shorts, of course). (The handsome gentleman on the back would be nice, but not mandatory.) Scooters are incredibly tempting to me. The gas mileage is incredible, the cost isn't too bad (especially when compared with a car!), and aren't they just the cutest darn things? You don't even need a motorcycle license to drive one (at least in Wisconsin)! I could buy my Vespa and be on the road in a jiffy, darting into town for some groceries or over to the library. Plus, it's super fun to say! Vessspa!

Of course, a scooter is only really practical in a city or small town (they aren't highway legal in Wisconsin, since your average model doesn't get over 50MPH), and only in one without snow. It would be pretty much impossible to safely navigate a scooter on our icy roads, and if you're going to need a car for more than half the year anyway, it makes more sense to just get one of those. My dad quickly took back his musing anyway when we passed a fender bender.

But a girl can dream!

Via VespaUSA

Have a safe & happy long weekend! Enjoy the fireworks/grill-outs/treats/sun/extra sleep ♥


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