Outfit of the Day: Peplumed and Booted in Black

We had a very satisfying day, the highlight of which was performing at an open mic of 20 talented songwriters in Duluth, Georgia (see Eddie Owen Presents).  It was a freakishly cold day and that meant only one thing — time to awaken the sleeping jackets!

OK. . . I look like a duck. Quack.

This jacket was a thrift store find. I bought it for 3 reasons: 1) it’s well made, 2) it’s velvet but matte, and 3) it has a peplum.

I love a peplum. I was unaware that it made a comeback recently but I don’t care much for trends. In fact, I love peplumed garments because they remind me of bustles, which will probably never be resurrected.  Sure, Vivienne Westwood made a go at it and they looked smashing on the runway. But I can’t see a modern woman sporting a bustle.  Can you? How would she drive her car without flattening the thing? Just imagine her making a grand entrance to a party with deflated bunched-up fabric against her bum. Sad.

Peplums are like demure bustles. They say, “I want to make your butt look bigger, but not too much, OK? Heehee!” Why exactly this excites me, I can’t say.  It sure does amuse me.  Maybe it’s because I like a little humor in what I wear.

I confess: I’m a little knock-kneed.

A view from the top!

And here are my vintage Dr. Martens 20-eye lace boots. I got them for a steal at Ebay from a very nice seller. They are unique because they don’t have the trademark yellow stitching DMs usually have.

Haha, I say that now but, to be honest, after I bid on them, I started sweating bullets when I noticed too late the lack of yellow along the sides.  “Fake”, my brain whispered.  Maybe . . .  Then Bronne pointed out another disturbing thing: the soles are not the usual transparent DM soles with the ridges.  “FAKE!!!”, my brain screamed.  As the end of bidding neared, I stared at my laptop and willed someone to bid even just a mere 50 cents higher than me.  But, alas, I won. And the evil shoe gods laughed with glee.

Then I did a little googling. OK, a lot of it. I learned that DM does produce non-yellow-stitched boots and their soles are not always transparent. In fact, these were Made in England and they have a registered no. on their soles that can be traced and thus proves THEY ARE NOT FAKE. So take that, evil shoe gods. Who’s laughing now, you cruel clog deities!

Anyways, I love these boots. I’m very partial to combat-looking boots. Probably because they remind me of my dad’s army boots. My dad is/was the best man I know and his choices and actions have shaped my life tremendously. He was a proud military officer, but a gentle man. He used to bring us to his barracks when my brother and I were kids and we christened his men, according to their physical appearances, after characters from the comic strip, ‘Beetle Bailey’. I was mesmerized whenever they did their formations. And their marching chants to the rhythm of boots against the ground were music to my ears.

Why I included this photo, I don’t know. I hate my face sometimes. Especially tonight. I thought I looked good but this photo, snickering, proved otherwise. But I’m posting it to memorialize my hair, to show everyone WHY NOT TO CUT YOUR OWN HAIR.

Yes. I cut my own hair. Back in the Philippines, my mom usually cut my hair. When I wanted to get pampered, I would walk to the next street and have our neighbor cut it. She ran a salon from her living room. It smelled of dye and burnt hair from hair dryers. No fancy salon sinks here. Clients bend over to get shampooed from a bathroom-type sink, their crowns often greeted by the faucet jutting out — bonk!  Anyways, my hair loved Nancy-the-friendly-neighborhood-hairdresser.  It thrived after she cut it.

So, because I can’t imagine anyone else cutting my hair here, I started doing it. It’s not so bad NOW. But there was a time I didn’t have my glasses on and I cut my hair. Hahaha. That was 2 months worth of hat-wearing.

And because Bronne wanted to memorialize his outfit, I’m including it here.

Look at him. His eyes are half-closed but he still looks great (grumble!). Guess who cuts his hair? (Evil grin.)

This is Bronne’s signature look: black top and red pants. It took us a long time to find him red jeans and I think we got these at Marshall’s or Ross, two of our very favorite shops. Actually, we call them our treasure haunts.  We go through the racks until we find a treasure and for a bargain, too. I got my first pair of Dr. Martens from a Ross.  Bronne found two very nice Ben Sherman button-downs for a song (“♪♫ Twenty Dollars! Twenty Dollars! ♪♫). Often we leave empty-handed, but that just makes the treasure hunt more exciting each time!

His red-striped Addidas sneakers. I almost typed ‘rubber shoes’ which gives you a clue how ancient I am.

Who am I kidding? I practically revealed it when I mentioned the comic strip, ‘Beetle Bailey’.

Bronne has a collection of belt buckles. This, I think is one of his top three faves. He’s Superman, my husband, and his kryptonite: belt buckles and British-branded shirts!!! This superhero goes weak-kneed at the sight of a unique buckle or a Ben Sherman shirt. On sale, of course.

And lastly,

Bronne sandwiched between red pillows, having a conversation with Ladybug. He’s telling her about our open mic experience, which was pretty good. But, boy, were we tired tonight.

I wanted to be in this photo but Katie refused to take our picture. What a diva.


MHL Project: Tip Basket with Foldable Legs!

The ubiquitous tip jar.

Imagine any street or coffeehouse musician and you’d see a tip jar in your mind’s eye.  I, for one, have always felt uncomfortable with it.  First off, Bronne and I have several instruments to set up, cables to plug, and sounds to check before a performance.  The tip jar is a detail we can do without.  Second, and more importantly, I’ve always felt uneasy putting it out which is strange because I’d never feel contempt for any musician who has one.  It isn’t the ‘playing-music-for-money’ part that I dislike.  I think a tip jar could be seen as another means of measuring how one’s gig went. . .

How did we do today?

Oh, we got $10.  Not bad considering there were only 3 people here.  

. . .  and, head count, applause, and compliments, aside, do I really need another means to make myself feel insecure?

But many times in the past when we didn’t bring a tip jar, people would come up to us asking for it.  Some, with their dollar bill on hand, would awkwardly stand in front of us and  place their tip on my keyboard or at my feet.  Some would actually advise us, “You guys should have a tip jar.”  So to prevent any more discomfort or awkwardness for these people who show us their appreciation, we started putting one out.

We’ve been using a small basket we bought from a thrift store for 50 cents.  One of my concerns during set-up is where to put this darn tip basket.  We can’t put it on the floor.  We can put it on a chair but, because we play an 88-key keyboard, bells, and 2 guitars and use 3 mics with mic stands and 2 music stands, we take up space more than the typical duo.  Putting the tip basket on a chair would just create more clutter.

A few months ago, we went to another thrift store and bought half-a-music stand for 79 cents.  We couldn’t find the lyre.  I had the feeling the legs alone would come in handy some day, so we bought it.  And a couple of weeks ago, I thought of putting one and one together to eliminate this tip jar concern from my mind.

All it took was a needle and sturdy twine, glue gun and sticks, a small square cardboard, clear tape, and a chopstick.

I sewed the basket to the legs by hooking the twine around the clip (where one adjusts the height of the stand).  I used the glue gun to keep the twine in place and to make the basket more stable. Finally, I wrote THANK YOU on a small cardboard and covered it with clear tape to keep it from getting dirty.  I cut a slit at the end of the chopstick and slipped the cardboard in.

I know it’s such an easy little project but it sure made a huge difference for our band mascot, Joyful, who’s in charge of the tips.  He seems to really appreciate the tip basket’s handiness and compactness.

Was it Plato who said, “Necessity is the mother of invention”? It’s true in this case.  Design doesn’t have to be complicated and practicality often brings about elegance.

How to Add an Image to your Facebook Like Badge

I opened Facebook last week and read a cry of help from comic book artist, Josh Latta, who is also making a name for himself for creating custom made avatars, or cartoon representations. I’ve yet to find out why he calls them avatards but you can ask him or find samples of his works here. Josh needed help with, among other things, his Facebook Page and Like Badge, and promised an avatard for your trouble.

I decided to help him. First off, I’ve always wanted a Josh Latta custom-made avatard for my band, He Sang She Sang. Second, Josh, whose FB status updates are funny one-liners aimed to skewer or shock, uncharacteristically sounded serious. The dude needed help and I wanted an avatard. I told him I’d help. His Facebook Badge problems were:

He wanted to have the status on his Facebook Page Badge removed. The badge status doesn’t update. Weeks before, he posted this:

ATTENTION HOT CHICKS: Send me a picture of you with my comics and I will put you on my website for free!

And more strangely, it’s not complete. Josh’s badge just said: “ATTENTION HOT CHICKS: Send me a picture of you…” which made him sound like a perv. Him possibly being one is not the point. Why include the page status if the thought isn’t complete? (Also, I was kidding about Josh possibly being a perv — hahaha!)  He didn’t know how to add his pic on the FB Like Badge. It has that default male/female silhouette. Example: The Powerpuff Girls’ Like badge:

The problem is, I don’t know anything about HTML codes.

So, unbeknownst to Josh, I did a little research and played around with the codes. It was a hit or miss process that involved a lot of hunting for words and copy-pasting. I used my own badge and posted them first on my dead blogs to see if they worked. Painstaking, yes, but a worthwhile endeavor because I succeeded!

First Problem: Removing the FB Page Badge status update didn’t require any HTML manipulations. Just in case you want to know, these are the steps:

  1. Go to Facebook Badges.
  2. Choose Page Badge.
  3. Click on “Edit this Badge”.
  4. Un-check ‘status’.
  5. Save.
  6. Then ‘Choose where to add the badge’ to get the HTML code.
  7. Do the dance of joy.

Second Problem: Replacing the default silhouette on the FB like badge with your own picture.

  1. After you’ve done “selecting a page” you like on FB Like Badge, copy the HTML Code.
  2. Now for tedious but exciting (for fastidious geeks like me) part!
  • Paste the code on notepad or word. (I chose notepad)
  • HTML codes can look daunting but treat this whole process like a game. HUNT for the name of the page you selected to like. In this example, I selected to like the band “He Sang She Sang”.  Now look for “He Sang She Sang”.

MHL Tutorial: Make 3 New Accessories from an Old Sweater

Hello, lovelies!  How do you feel about recycling?

I think I’ve mentioned that I am all for it . If it’s not ratty, smelly, soiled, or tattered beyond repair, I usually keep old clothes in the hopes of turning them into something new.

If you look around Etsy, you’d notice some sellers using the tag “upcycled“, instead of recycled.  Upcycling was a term coined by one Reiner Pilz in the mid-90’s to describe reusing things by giving them more value, not less.  The opposite of upcycling is downcycling (duh) where materials are converted into something of lesser quality.

For example, an old T-shirt could be downcycled by turning it into a rag.  You’re recycling it but it has been downgraded.  Now, if you turn that T-shirt into a dress, then you’re upcycling it.

For this tutorial, I used a child’s old sweater and upcycled it into 3 new accessories: a knitted hat, arm warmers, and a headband.  I got this sweater from a Freecycler who had kids.  (If you haven’t heard of Freecycle yet, visit their website.  I’ll make a post about it one of these days, don’t you worry.)  It’s quite easy and you don’t even need a sewing machine for this project.

What You Need: scissors, a seam ripper, needle and thread, and a child’s old sweater (the label says 4/5).

How to Make your Arm Warmers:  Let’s go through this clockwise, shall we?

Just make sure to reinforce the stitching around your thumb hole so it won’t fray.  Here’s the finished product:

How to Make your Knitted Hat:  Clockwise, please.

The result:

Joyful fell in love with the hat.   He thought he and it shared the same nose.  Teehee!

How to Make your Headband:

Just carefully cut out.  This will only work if your sweater has a band like mine does.

I wasn’t able to take a photo of me wearing the headband.  My hair got flattened from being hidden under a knitted hat since morning.

That’s it, lovelies!  I hope this inspires you to recycle or upcycle.  Let’s keep still usable things from landfills, everyone!  Have a lovely Sunday.  See you Monday! 🙂

MHL Thursday Thrift Trip: Goodwill

Hello, lovelies!  Today is Thursday.

I know it’s not but I only realized yesterday that I’ve been walking around living a day late.  It’s called losing all sense of time from being cooped up at home all week. Haha!

So, today, in my time-warped mind, is Thursday and I’m introducing a new series called MHL Thursday Thrift Trip.  (Try saying that 4 times without pausing.)  This is where I’ll be featuring treasures I found from thrifting which will include, aside from the usual Goodwill goodies, sale items from various stores B. and I like to haunt.  Since I don’t have the fabulous Katie‘s wonderland Goodwill where dresses are sold for $2 or jewelry for 25 cents, or her fairytale Target with the mysterious 25-cent bin, my purchases would probably not be as fantastic but good finds nonetheless.

Last week, B. and I went to Goodwill and found these items:

Even though I’ve plenty of skirts, I couldn’t let go of this one because it has two things I absolutely adore: plaid and purple.  B. calls it eggplant skirt but he liked it as well.  It falls above the knee and is an A-line cut.  It would really look great with tights or, I can imagine, without.  Price: $4.59.

I own several jackets but all my black ones are too light for this cold weather.  So I’ve been shopping around for a black jacket I could wear with anything — skirts, pants, dresses.  We were about to buy one at Sears but I said, let’s have a look-see at ol’ Goodwill first.  I’m happy I suggested it because there I found this.  This black 100% cotton from Old Navy is brand new and better than the one we’ve been mulling over at Sears.  It was covered with lint and I wondered if the owner gave this one away because her shitzu slept on top of it.   I’m glad she’s never heard of a lint remover or else I never would have owned this.  Price: $5.59.

Alas, woe is me!  I love belts but I have no waistline.  Still I’m compelled to buy belts, especially when they’re priced this low.  This little number is by Fossil and it’s a little raggedy where the holes are.  I told B. I can use the metal hardware as material for a project but really, I just wanted to wear it.  Price: $2.59.

Awww… look at that.  It’s a fish belt and when I saw it I felt like I found the end of the rainbow.  It’s made of fabric and tassels and it could look really enhance an all black outfit.  An artist from Atlanta called Susan Maddox designed it.  Price: $2.59.

Then there’s this Grecian column belt I saw as we were walking towards the cashier line.  B. has an interesting collection of belt buckles and I thought this would be a perfect addition.  He’s an architect and walking around with a Grecian pillar on his person would be very apt.  The belt itself has to be replaced because it’s fraying at the sides but that’s easy to do.  Price: $2.59.

Lest you’re getting sick of belts, here’s a straw hat.

This was adorned with the most artificial looking yellow flowers I’ve ever seen on a hat.  Fortunately, whoever attacked it with the hideous flowers scrimped much on the glue so they didn’t leave a mark after I removed them. I’ve yet to experience Spring but I figured I’ll be needing a straw hat either soon or in Summer.  Price: $2.60.

So, all in all we spent…

… on 6 items.  Not bad, eh?

Of late, I haven’t been taking any outfit photos.  Although the call of the college sweater and jogging pants ensemble is strong, I do dress up.  I just haven’t taken any photos because I really do want to finish organizing my workstation before anything else.  Also, Mildred has been pestering me. Teehee!

That all, lovelies!  Have a fabulous weekend! 😀

An MHL Open Letter: to the Grumpy Goodwill Girl

BUT all is not lost because B. and I had a very fruitful thrifting trip at the Sears Outlet where he found a snazzy jacket and shirt, and I, 7 pairs of leg wear, including 2 pairs of thick knitted tights that I’ve been looking for even before the start of winter.  And they were just a dollar each! Success!!!

Plus, that Sears Outlet cashier girl was really nice.  Yipee!

Yes, I didn’t brush my hair and let the head band crown my frizzy glory!  And, yes.  I wore mustard tights that could have been more matte.  Oh well.  You live and learn.  Below, I was trying to pose a la Joyful, the green doggy.  Did I succeed?

Brown knitted dress with lace edging:   thrifted back home
Italian flower-printed silk scarf:  thrifted back home (Thanks for the silk scarf tip, Millie!)
Brown patent leather head band:  bought at a bazaar back home for less than a dollar
Yellow bracelet watch:  a gift from my mom’s friend
Mustard tights:   bought at a mall back home for $5.  (I thought then that that was cheap.)
Light brown socks:   Hue, 3 for $18 at Macy’s
Brown boots with swirly design:  Joy and Peace, thrifted back home

This taupe and brown Francois Marot shoulder bag is another one of my greatest finds!  I think I got this one for less than $4 and it’s in very good condition.

Ok, got to go, lovelies.  I have to get ready for a belated Chinese New Year party at a friend’s.  Will take pics, I promise!  Smile! 😀  (And that includes you, grumpy Goodwill girl!)

Man Hands Melancholy and a Quickie Alteration

Today I woke up feeling melancholy. Maybe it’s the weather; the cold, especially.  I’ve never been this cold this long.  I feel like a package of ham living inside the fridge.  My body is so forking confused.  Why the hoot is it so cold yet blindingly sunny outside?  What the heck is that?  Where I came from, if it’s forking sunny then you can be darned sure it’s going to be hot.  You know what to wear and have your shades and bottled water at the ready.  Here, you bring your shades, and your coat, AND your hat, AND your gloves , AND your scarf — but you might not need them.  So bring a big bag.  Con-forking-fusing, I tell you.  Growl.

Ew. Reading what I just wrote, I realized I sounded a bit like that Palin woman with all her “hoot” and “heck” and whatever.  But, when it comes to writing, I can’t bring myself to be hardcore.  I’m out of practice.  I am still too much the high school music teacher of a traditional Catholic school.  At least I didn’t say “hopey-changey”.  I would have barfed into my laptop.  You hear that?  BARFED.


In an attempt to feel better, I thought I’d wear the frilly blouse I thrifted back home and walk around the house doing that booby shake thing Latin dancers do.  Surely that would lift my spirits as well as my bust line.  I’m not really into the frilly and the frou frou BUT I liked this one because it’s black and looked elegant despite the ruffles.

The frilly blouse also had frills at the end of its sleeves.  But, with the help of my trusty scissors, I took them off!  Err… in my excitement, I forgot to take a ‘before’ photo of the whole blouse.  But you get the picture.

I was careful not to cut into the seams, of course, to prevent fraying.  I’ll use the frill fabric for a future project.  I think the blouse now looks a hundred times better.

Black frilly long-sleeves:  thrifted back home
Brown asymmetrical wool skirt with lace edging:  thrifted back home
Brown tights: Hue, Macy’s, 3 for $18 rip off (joke)
Brown metal neck piece embedded with real flowers:  I got this from a bazaar back home.  It’s quite heavy!
Brown headband that stays in place whatever you do:  Goody, 2 for $1 at Big Lots

I really love these!  They’re lovely-deadly, but oh-so soft and comfy.

Brown pointy leather boots with stitching design:   Mango, thrifted back home for less than $5!!!

I smiled in my photos and I felt better for a while.  Then I went back to my cold workstation and stared at my mess for a few hours, feeling wholly frozen.  Boo-hoo.