[The DIY Files] dishing it out. spiders and all.

 

Living at home, unfortunately, has proven to put a cramp in my ‘living’ space. Meaning, my usual array of oddball treasures, skulls and bones, and walls of books have remained packed for the most part; hence, the boxes and sterile organization method to madness I mentioned previously. I figured the addition of something on the small side, like this jewelry/knick-knack dish, would add a touch of personality and keep my more oft-worn pieces within reach.

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Materials and the such you’ll need:

  • Polymer clay — I recommend the Premo! Sculpey brand, since it’s both tougher than the regular Sculpey AND bakes to a much more sturdy final state. Instead of the usual white/pearl hues, I opted instead for a matter black color. 1 pack = 2 oz = 1 5 in wide dish.
  • an acrylic multi-surface paint with a metallic finish.
  • a sponge paintbrush
  • an oven-safe bowl or concave object which the dish can be set inside and will be used to create the form.
  • wax paper/non-stick non-porous surface.
  • cutting utensil — a plastic knife, Xacto knife, or blade.
  • stencil, or shape to cut from the clay; this can be a lid from a Tupperware set.
  • rolling pin or round dowel with smooth surface to use in rolling out the clay.
  • sandpaper — a small pack with varying grits is less than $5 at Michael’s.
  • Scotch-Tape
  • thread
  • scissors
  • rubbing alcohol + cotton swabs
  • optional: a clear polymer clay sealant

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1. Unwrap the Premo! clay and begin conditioning (i.e. rolling/massaging/beating to death) the clay in between your hands. Use the warmth of your palms to speed up the process.

 

2. Once the clay has softened enough to be malleable, take the entire lump of clay and place on a clean, texture-less surface. Press down on the ball with the palm of your hand.

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3. Taking the rolling pin, slowly press down evenly across the ball, flattening the clay down. A few rolls, pick up the clay, and turn 30-45 degrees to run the rolling pin across it again.

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4. Keep rolling over the clay until its somewhat round and about 1/8 inch thick, about 5 inches across.

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5. To make the ‘spider web’ cut several strings 5 inches long, and arrange them on the flattened surface. Tape down the ends of the strings to keep them in place.

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6. Use the rolling pin to flatten the impressions of the strings into the clay surface, slowly and putting slight pressure onto the pin. Don’t thin the clay out too much.

7. If there are any additional textures you want to add into the surface, stamp them onto the surface. I added an impression of a spider slightly off-center using a regular rubber stamp.

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8. Taking the Tupperware lid, gently place it over the main section of the clay ‘dish’ — I have the spider slightly off-center, and the square shape’s corners go over the round edge of the clay I’ve already shaped out, but eh…. take your cutting utensil and slice out your preferred dish shape.

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9. Pre-heat the oven at 275 degrees while you take the clay and slowly slide it into the bottom of the shaping oven-safe bowl, gently pressing it to the bottom of the bowl and shaping the dish. Place the bowl in the oven and set a timer for 12 minutes.

**Keep an eye on your dish! I’m not sure if its the uneven heating in the oven, but the clay tends to get easily burned in some spots, and under-baked in others…**

10. Once the dish is baked to your liking (you know, it’s hard as a rock), allow it to cool in the bowl. I generally get through an episode of Downton Abbey and then go back to the kitchen, ha.

11. Pull your clay dish out of the bowl, and using the sandpaper, gently sand down any rough, patchy, or sharp areas. Take notice of the edges of the dish and make sure there aren’t any visible cracks.

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12. With the cotton swab, lightly dampen the swab with some rubbing alcohol and wipe all over the bowl. Front. Back. Side to side. Leave no crevice un-swabbed!

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13. Now, we paint! I used only a single coat of the metallic silver color on my black dish, the impressions of the ‘web’ and ‘spider’ in the dish using cast shadows to give depth.

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14. Wait 1 hour for the dish to dry. Back to Downton we go…

15. Go over the dish with the clear sealant coat as well, so that the paint doesn’t flake off and to keep it from becoming tacky to the touch.

16. Picking just a few of the pieces I constantly reach for, I set my dish on top of my dresser. No more hunting for pieces as I rush out the door!

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So I still have 3 more packs of polymer clay… perhaps more holders are in my future?? Hmmm??

– Nita

[inspiration alley] managing organized chaos of… the jewelry i hoard.

…back to business! Or something like that. The last six weeks have been spent working on a varying projects — the new line of vintage plugs and gauges for the shop, designing and researching for a custom line of wedding jewelry for a client, and completing bridesmaid duties for a friend’s wedding. A pile of projects have instead shown up and taken a temporary backseat, so its about damn time.

Rather than waiting for Spring to show up — it’s Houston, there is no such thing — I began attacking the aftermath of the holidays + the wedding in the area formerly known as ‘where I slumber.’ In the midst of cleaning out my closet/shelves/various amalgam of boxes stuffed away into nooks, I found myself attempting to organize, separating items into keep/donate/trash piles. Yeah… that didn’t go so well. Mostly because the “keep” pile kept growing and became somewhat of an entangled mess of items.

And Hoarder Culture

something like this – the clown dolls + shoes and boxes

No need to call Hoarders, just yet.

I abandoned the organization attempt, finished cleaning WHATEVER I could, and hit up Pinterest. Due to my f*ck-it-all tendencies during the week, a methodology to keep jewelry and knick-knacks somewhat untangled has become quite necessary. Small changes to de-clutter = baby steps towards something resembling a place where an adult resides.

SO, in an effort to make my room look more inhabited and less landfill-chic, I figured some touches with personality are due.

There are quite the myriad of dish-able DIYs on the interwebs, ranging from the simplified and sweet to the quirky and practical. Yes, I said it, practical. Especially for the accident-prone as myself.

(Let’s face it, in a Pinterest-ruled world, the dainty white dishes below would not crack/spill/be knocked over. However, I live in reality. These are just pretty to look at.)

heart shaped dish lovelyindeed blog

a gilded heart-shaped dish / lovelyindeed

etsy monogrammed dish

put your name on it / ohmywordesigns

urbancomfort imprint dishes

nature brought indoors / urbancomfort

abeautifulmess clay dishes

bursts of color in this faux-marble clay dish / abeautifulmess

Ah, the land of stark white. Like an untouched field with freshly lain snow, white dishes were aplenty. Everything from gold gilding to snaps of color interrupting its facade, to impressed lace and leaves upon the surface to say “I’m not just another white plate!” Again, aesthetically pleasing but not… me.

Instead, I sought out pieces which weren’t quite so obvious. From the octopus of realism to geometric blocks, from contrast color in lace impressions, to literal helping hands, I found myself going down a less ‘aesthetic’ and more ‘darkly oddball’ road.

shayne greco octopus bowl

octopus bowl / shayne greco

anthropologie octopus dish

a modern sea creature / anthropologie

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like a rock. / thehappytulip

vintage lace bowl

lace impression resembling henna / OldeKettleLane

skull dish urbanoutfitters

iron skull, so hard-headed / urbanoutfitters

black deer and dish lulus

oh deer, a dish of trinkets / lulus blog

silver jewelry dish etsy

silver filigree tray / pinkchicboutique

hands holding pot

on the creepier side / artsonia art museum

 My issue is that my current jewelry space is a single drawer in my IKEA ‘dresser’ with little height and multiple random containers which are enabling disorder rather than preventing it. While having a simple curved dish would suffice on the surface of said dresser, I think I need to create a dish/holder/hook apparatus in order to better manage the mischief of my jewelry.

 I’ve got clay + lace + a few ideas… we’ll see what happens.

 – Nita

[inspiration alley] the capes of wrath.

First day of the NEW YEAR… first PROJECT of 2015?

Since we (in Houston and many parts of the world) are still in the midst of winter and/or a general freezing of temperatures, what better project to start with than a winter necessity? Is it a jacket, a coat, or something to hide your secrets? Especially since I’ve received about 300 emails screaming “SALE SALE SALE” and the last thing I need is another ding to my bank account, I’d much rather start off the year making something rather than just buying it.

Also, who wouldn’t want to dress like a superhero-detective crossover in their regular life?

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sophie cape / nastygal

Varying in lengths from waist-length all the way down to the knee, capes have slowly integrated themselves into winter wear of the highly snapped and famous. Whether the textile is a wool, heavy knit, or Hepburn-esque tweed, the cape is both ladylike AND badass. Case in point would be the former editor of Harper’s Bazaar Russia Miroslava Duma, who brings elegance as well as flair to her cape-wearing ways.

collage Miroslava cape

duma in whowhatwear / instyle uk

Capes for the fashionable set is nothing new, as we see mention of the garment dated as early as the 1920s when they were worn over long opera dresses for an night out. Initially the modern century saw these pieces as a final touch on an evening look, and evolving into a piece of function as well. The 40’s and 50’s brought about capes paired with gloves and/or hat, and the ladies of these mid-century decades enhanced the prim-and-proper look with a dash of majesty. The demure appearance translated well for women of stature, their appearance already conveying they were much more worldly than one would presume.

collage vintage capes

dior 1953 / mccall patterns / wool wrap 1956

Bringing the cape into the modern day, we’ve seen a more classic and vintage-inspired take on the piece — inclusive of the sunglasses and gloves. But for someone who verges (ok, RUNS) far away from the pearls-and-lbd look, I’ll have to incorporate some of my own aesthetic to create a cape with more witchy-ness.

olivia pope 1

modern gladiator, olivia pope / popsugar

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more of olivia’s signature style + stance / popsugar

victoria beckham cape

a less-covered approach via victoria beckham / tumblr

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cape in flight / morbidfashion tumblr

Alright, that’s enough of the eye candy. Be back with the details!

-Nita

return of the living dead. here, at least.

So, I’m back. Just in time to close out 2014, though I’ve already started on fixing things in 2015.

I know, another lapse in giving this space attention, the entire month of December just… gone. In a single moment, it seems.

While other blogs spent this week doing a recap of the previous 364 days, I started writing. Not here, obviously. It’s all introspection, so putting it here would be dangerous. Partially because there’s a lot — a LOT — which has happened that made me want to end things in this space, and partially because its all so cluttered in my head that organizing it here would be a pain for all involved.

I started writing in another space, a different blog-type-thing I had started years ago but abandoned as, at that time, it served more of a reminder of my failings rather than something to help me get out of that place of despair. Now that I find myself returning to such a place, it only made sense to sort out that mental mess before coming back here to put on a face and pretend. Again.

2014 was a rather eventful year — in both the good and bad, to be honest. I finally escaped from a soul-crushing job into one where I’m not only finding more to do with my skills, but have also found a place where my contributions are finally being acknowledged. I re-branded and took my shop into the world (ok, into the city of Houston), and found unexpected feedback from those who crossed my path. I started taking note of my inspirations and kept them in a physical place, so when the despair started creeping in, I could reflect on the images and voices which instead made me just a bit happy.

Creating has been in my blood as far back as I can remember, and I know that I allowed myself to keep from creating this past year. True, I churned out more pieces for the shop in the past 6 months than I have in years prior, but even that was not without its edits and limitations. I have lists of projects for this space, jewelry and accessory lines sketched out in various notebooks and scraps, and half-altered canvases lining my room’s walls… all waiting for some kind of realization that remains to be seen.

I have some challenging blockades to overcome, not only for this year but for every day after. Obstacles that aren’t visible to anyone but myself, doubts which plague me anytime I just try anything, words which continue to convince me my goals belong in the shredder. As much as I’d like to have an epiphany where I throw such negativity away and am whisked off into a world full of rainbows, sunshine, and unicorns (barf), all I can hope for is that I CAN continue to take steps forward.

collage 2014

I read an article a few days ago about ambition. Women tend to forget their ambitions because something — no, someONE — is holding them back, not just to discourage them, but to offer settling as the ‘better’ option. I remember having ambition when I was 5 or 6 years old, and the naivete that came with seeing my future in such a way. I need to unearth that ambition (sans the optimism) and somehow transform it to work for me.

Here’s to a year where moving forward is taken day-by-day, with fewer interruptions in the meantime.

 

Happy New Year.

-Nita

[The DIY Files] blanket space scarf.

Like many of the 20-something American women out there, I have a disease called ‘I Can Make That’-tis. Even though my skill sets may be nowhere in the same ballpark as what’s needed to make something I can more-easily buy… I would much rather make it. It REALLY becomes a problem when I see a high-end item, or a runway trend, and the wheels begin turning in my head. That’s where The DIY Files come to the rescue.

Hot Glue crisis… AVERTED!

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blush + navy for the season

With the further drop in temperatures in Houston over the last few days, it became apparent that I really needed to move on from my long, skinny scarves to something with more punch and more mass. One random trip to Joann’s later, and this blush lacework fabric (with stretch!) called to me. PERFECT for this project!

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at the start…

Things you’ll need:

  • 1.5 to 2 yards of medium-weight fabric.
  • ruler or a sturdy item with a straight edge
  • scissors
  • about 30 minutes or so

1. Before purchasing/acquiring the appropriate length of fabric, I recommend measuring the length of your arm-span from finger tip-to-finger tip ahead of time. This way, you can have the fabric cut in yardage, but then the excess can be trimmed off.

2. Fold the fabric lengthwise, with the cut edges lining up.

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uneven as ‘eff.

3. Place the straight-edge item or ruler along the cut edge of the fabric — most likely, the edge will NOT be even along the entire side.

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that’s better.

4. Slowly, snip off the excess fabric and try to maintain as straight an edge as possible.

5. Open the fabric up fully, and lay it out with a finished side edge on your left, and one of the cut edges at the bottom.

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6. Taking the straight-edge item or ruler, line it up along the finished edge, and determine how far from the finished edge you want to cut. This particular fabric pattern has open stitches running about 1/4 of an inch from the edge, so I chose to cut at that point. This will end up giving me a raw “unfinished” edge on each side of the scarf to match the cut ends.

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7. Again, taking your time, cut off the finished piece(s) while keeping the side even and as straight as possible.

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8. As you cut along the edge, pull the excess trim away from the main fabric piece.

9. The open stitches should resemble a raw “frayed” edge.

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10. Take a bit of the fabric and begin to stretch it back and forth slowly, loosening the fibers to increase movement.

11. The cut edge (horizontal to the fiber weave) may begin rolling — go with it!

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…and now, a few ways to throw it on…

 

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With the holiday season coming through like a wrecking ball, you can easily make scarves to gift in as much time as a F.R.I.E.N.D.S. episode.

Or, make a few for yourself… one can’t have too many blankets OR scarves.

– Nita

[inspiration alley] scarf it down, wrap it up.

…and we’re back! My apologies, dear internet explorers. It’s been quite… an eventful several weeks… hopefully there will be a smoother ride in the coming days. UGH. Sorry, I just can’t focus on something I enjoy (i.e. here) when there are erratic events going on around me.

Frustration in copious doses :/

***

“Oversized” is the word of the day — er, year?– because it seems that being draped in extra large apparel can be oddly and unexpectedly flattering. But when I say “oversized” I don’t mean a literal three-sizes-too-big garment; the cut and shape of these particular articles are deliberately formed in such a way that the silhouette exaggerates certain forms and angles. Not to mention, when you add in the cooler weather, oversized equates to COMFORTABLE, and isn’t that what we all want?

blanket scarf as cape

worn as a wrap / unfancy

I’ve seen these ‘blanket’ scarves pop up all over the place — from Urban Outfitters to Zara, it appears that even the traditional scarf has become oversized. No longer simply skinny in width and long enough to strangle, and found in more textures and thicknesses to capture the coziness of a true ‘blanket,’ these scarves can be easily manipulated and worn in a myriad of ways.

On days when its just not feasible to pile on the layers — especially if you end up peeling them off/putting them back on at various points during the day — the scarf comes in handy with providing additional warmth without the bulk. However, with the average scarf, one can wrap it around the neck and call it a day. But as for coverage? Not so much. The ‘banket’ scarf, on the contrary, provides more coverage as well as versatility.

mk and a scarves www

the original mavens of oversized goodness / whowhatwear

Since the shape of the ‘blanket’ scarf is more square than rectangle, the larger size allows for the scarf to become a wrap (a la the Olsens), a poncho, or even a jacket-esque layer. And if all else fails, it’s still easy enough to manipulate and wrap around your neck and go.

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easy going even when searching for keys / freepeople

Here, the scarf is folded length-wise and draped across the shoulders, then secured with a thin belt, giving the piece new functionality.

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belted and tucked / camila l

The corners tied together turn this piece of fabric into an ‘infinite’ loop, to be wrapped around the neck and fitted over the shoulders, resembling a shrug. The scarf’s double-duty here provides a buffer between the elements and the open neck area, as well as accenting the trench jacket worn below.

wrap around scarf the cut 1

knotted around the shoulders / chictopia

And, of course, we have the usual — amped up by the extra volume of a blanket scarf, the fabric forms a cocoon-like funnel around the neck and throat to effortlessly look both casual and deliberate.

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the fabric funnel / mango

While all of this is well and GREAT, I’m having trouble swallowing the price tag for a majority of these scarves. I get it, these scarves are LARGER = more fabric = its made of gold = pay the price of gold?! I mean, for $45 I would expect that piece of fabric to fold itself. AND cook me dinner.

…that’s where one magical trip to Joann’s and some fancy scissor-work comes in.

The project from The DIY Files tomorrow!

– Nita

The Autumn Edit. Or, ‘things I won’t be able to enjoy until this blanket of heat dissapates.’

Are you drinking a :gulp: pumpkin-spiced latte? Wearing a beanie, haphazardly tilted back on your head? Or maybe you’ve decided that its about time to stock up on faux-leaf decor and go cornacopia-crazy?

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nope, don’t let the photoshop fool ya.

Fall is one of my favorite seasons, but I despise the fact that we Houstonians are cheated out of it for a good portion of its duration. My moto-jackets and scarves, peppermint dark hot chocolate (not the Starbucks kind), and BOOTS are forced to wait in the dark until about… late October/early November. Tuesday may have been the first ‘official’ day of Autumn, but we’ll be the last kids picked to play in the leaves. (edit: it was actually cool today! Go figure.) Why not start planning to wring out as much ‘fall’ as I can ahead of schedule?

nailing it — hues that make you go “YES.”

I commonly (ok, almost always) wear either black, charcoal gray, or a deep wine polish on my nails. Year. Round. With the handmade pieces I work on for the shop + painting, spending more time than “just enough” for two coats has become a non-priority. Now that I’ve been defaulting to plainly polished nails, I have found two colors which satisfy my craving for new and exciting shades in the coming months (well, and beyond, duh).

collage opi nordic

l : skating on thin ice-land | r : going my way or norway?

As a South Asian living in the U.S., the terminology for ‘skin-like’ or ‘nude’ coloring has always been a mixed bag. You call it ‘nude,” I say “pale pink-peach.” So imagine my surprise when I passed by the Fall 14 OPI Nordic collection at ULTA and saw a bottle of polish with a shade… that was eerily similar to my own?

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delving into my ring drawer.

On the other hand, if you’re aiming to pump up the ‘vamp’ factor for fall — without reaching for the usual maroon or oxblood — this plum/wine shade from OPI’s Skating on Thin Ice-land is absolutely GORGEOUS. In the bottle, it appears to be a more deep violet with cool undertones. On the nail (2 coats), there is a bit of redness that magically appears. Its a refreshing departure from the usual burgundy or peppy purple.

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two coats on, looking almost black.

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a look at the contrasts.

booted — because stomping around in heels + leaves is no good.

Stiletto heeled boots are a staple when it comes to fall footwear, but the stacked heel is truly the saving grace for the season. The thicker and chunkier, the better. My collection (yeah, its getting its own area of the closet) of black boots veer towards a mix of moto-influenced and witchy, but these are on my wishlist thanks to the combination of the stacked heel + Chelsea boot profile. The style dates back to the Victorian era, but is resurrecting thanks to mod elements from the runways.

chelsea 1

more to the point. | asos

collage boots

leather and croc patterning. | zara

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chelsea + menswear crossover. | macys

wrap it up — no overexposure here.

I remember seeing a floral wrap skirt back in the 7th grade on a mannequin in Dillard’s, thinking that it would be so difficult to walk in without exposing yourself to everyone else. Just because you’re showing a bit of skin doesn’t mean it can’t be executed in with some element of modesty — and modern cuts with intelligent draping allow for this. After spying this long-sleeve top at H&M with a faux-wrap back detail, especially in teal, I say heck YES. A peek of skin between the folds never hurt anyone.

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delicate draping thats demure | h&m

 This spring and summer were all about the white button-down, so why not transition into the latter part of the year with a white wrap blouse? Easily layered for warmth, the wrapped front fit keeps the piece from overwhelming you. Under a cropped blazer for work, or segue into evening-wear with a long vest and heels, this white blouse is anything but stuffy.

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in a classic ivory but with a DVF-flair | river island

 favored flavors — spice and all things nice

I think the PSL (ugh, writing that made a little part of me wither away) has received overhyped adulation for the Fall season. I mean, pumpkin is always welcome, but does a single drink really encapsulate everything about this season? There are bigger, bolder flavors out there which do one better, savory and sweet with a bit of pizzaz. For one, I’ve grown up drinking chai, but infusing the cardamom, smoky clove, and nutmeg into a warn or cold dessert (see my own cupcake concoction here) makes for a hearty and delicious treat.

chai cupcake

with bright blue frosting, no less.

chai ice cream

always screaming for ice cream. | seriouseats.com

For those who are lucky to have a la Madeleine in your vicinity, you know where I’m headed: the tomato basil soup. I know, its just soup… but you’d be WRONG. A cup of this crack-in-a-bowl and some of their fresh baked bread is just what you need when the temperatures start dropping (or when you’re craving a smooth but savory meal).

tomato basil soup

sorry, I’m drooling over here.

playing maze-runner — more fun than you’d think

By pure accident, I came across a corn maze in Houston a few years ago. A FREAKIN’ MAZE, people. Dewberry Farm hosts a huge corn maze as well as a quite a few other activities (all family-friendly) during the fall months — and every year, the maze design changes so its a completely new experience each time. There’s also a myriad of treats available for purchase on site, as well as a popcorn kernel pit for kids (or adults who manage to sneak in, ha). If you make it to the Farm early enough in the season, you can also manage to pick pumpkins or flowers.

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flyover of the maze | dewberry farm

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this year’s design | dewberry farm

madly mod — looking at outerwear

Earlier this year, silhouettes of the mod-era were abundant on Fashion Week runways, but such striking forms can easily become costume-y. A simply formed and structural piece, such as this funnel-neck coat, can ease you into incorporating elements of the decade into the coming seasons. Also, its hella comfy. Olivia Pope is calling.

collage funnel coat

made for gladiators | mango (on sale!)

Although I’m craving quite a few other ‘autumnal’ elements, if I include everything this post will become never-ending. Instead, I’ll head off to work on some pieces for the upcoming fair — stay tuned for details! Or, LIKE the shop on Facebook HERE >>> https://www.facebook.com/findyouruncommon to get insider peeks into the new line + coupon codes + news you can use!

I’ll be BACH.

– Nita