Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sally Ann Fashion Show
Backstage and Runway Show Photos from April Ranew

 Enjoy some more photos from my December fashion show at Sky City in Augusta, Georgia. The thirty piece line was modeled by 13 local women. Photos by April Ranew. All the lingerie was made from recycled materials! See the entire line at

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday Tunes - Downstairs Live
A basement music venue & listening room
With Ryan Star and Michael Tolcher

Sunday night, Matt and I went to one of the most interesting music shows I've ever attended. In the basement of a home in South Carolina, we sat and watched a set from Ryan Star and special guest Michael Tolcher. The invite only concert was called Downstairs Live.

In a nice residential neighborhood in North Augusta, we walked down the driveway and into a garage. Any other house you'd be walking into a den, but here you walk into an elaborate set up. It's a listening room with folding chairs, camera, a sound board. On a small stage, maybe 10' x 8' there are mic stands and guitars. Before the show we head upstairs, into the home of married couple, Chuck and Heather, where there is a plethora of food and appetizers. It's BYOB, so Matt brings a six pack. In the corner of the living room is a merch table, with both bands CDs and t-shirts are sold. 

Living room lights flash on and off, Chuck calls everyone downstairs and the show will start in 5 minutes. We head to out padded folding chair that was already designated with our names and lanyards for each person. We sit third of five rows, only ten feet from the small stage.

Michael Tolcher opened the show with a 50 minute set. Just an acoustic guitar, and very percussive playing, using his knuckles and the body of his guitar to keep a beat. He was very entertaining and engaged the audience throughout his set. He played a fun variety of songs, one that made us all laugh out loud so hard about a women he is hitting on at the bar. He was great!

A quick twenty minute break between bands we headed back upstairs to chat and to grab some munchies. Again, lights flash and we head back down. Ryan Star is next.

A very dramatic entrance and melodic soulful music from Ryan Star. He was accompanied by a young lady that played keyboard, drums, and sang backup. His voice reminiscent of a young Neil Diamond with a hipster twist. He was very passionate and into what he was singing. It was great energy, especially in such an intimate setting.

Ryan even did a mash-up with the band I featured on my first Tuesday Tunes review: Gotye. See more from Ryan Star below, it's his music video, "Breathe".

Ah, if only I could transplant Bjork, Bon Iver, or Yo La Tengo into Downstairs Live, I could die happy! This venue is the most amazing idea ever. What a great thing this couple is doing, sharing music with friends and friends of friends.

The tickets are not available to the public, one has to be invited to be able to buy tickets. Thanks to our friends Chuck and Sandie that invited us and gave us tickets. This was truly a night I will remember!

Michael Tolcher
Ryan Star
Downstairs Live

And special thanks to Jeff Miles for photos from the show!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sunday Salmon Dinner
Healthy Living and Low Sodium Recipes

Last night, Matt and I had our friend Sean over for dinner before we went to a special concert called Downstairs Live. We have all been changing our lifestyles very dramatically over the last month and a half. Matt and I started going to the gym again, at least three times a week. 

We cleaned out the fridge shortly after Matt moved in, getting rid of all the unhealthy food, staying away from carbs, starches, and fillers. I even threw away my Oreos! We have focused our diet on fresh raw food, less red meat, more protein, and cutting sugars out (almost) completely. It's great going to the grocery store and almost completely avoiding the center aisles. My mother always tells me the healthiest things are on the outside edges of the store, not those center aisles full of boxed food.

Sean is "Matt's Biggest Loser". Matt is an on-air personality on Augusta's local rock station, 95 Rock, where Matt has started to motivate Sean by poking fun at him on air. If Sean doesn't have positive results, callers are allowed to call in and make fun of him. They're silly about it all. Sean has already lost 15+ pounds in the last three weeks! 

He weighs in every Thursday. Since last week only saw a negative loss of two pounds, Sean is working really hard this week, adding a decreased sodium diet and also more cardio. Even this morning, bright and early, Sean and I ran 1.5 miles, biked 5, and worked out our legs.

In the last month, I have lost about two pounds, but gained quite a bit of muscle. I'm not very focused on the number on the scale, but more with getting a toner, leaner body. Matt is doing the same. We've both seen a dramatic change in our energy, appearance, and that little layer of fat that coated our bodies from lazy winter times.

Dinner last night was a parmesan salmon filet, green beans, and salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing (with absolutely no sodium!). The salmon topping was from the back of the filet, but we modified the recipe, substituting chives with pearl onions and lemon juice with lime juice. 

Creamy Parmesan Salmon Filet
  • 1 large skin-on Salmon Filet, thawed
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cut grated parmesan
  • 2 pearl onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground pepper

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients, except the salmon of course. Spread on salmon evenly. Cook at 400 for 25-30 minutes or until fish flakes apart with a fork and top is golden brown.

Sodium free balsamic vinaigrette dressing
  • 3 tsbp olive oil
  • 2 tsbp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
The salad was fresh greens, hard boiled egg, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, sunflower seeds, almonds, and craisins. The vinaigrette dressing really let the flavors of the salad remain, not overpowering at all. And the best part, no sodium!

More on the concert, Downstairs Live, tomorrow for my weekly music segment, Tuesday Tunes. It's a concert unlike any other I've ever attended. What a great night with good friends and my boyfriend.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

How to sew scalloped lace onto polyester at hem
Via Instagram photos
Hearts Lingerie by Sally Ann

 Step 1: Split open bottom of one side seam. Pin lace onto polyester. Use a pin every few inches.

Step 2: Baste stitch on lace. (A baste stitch is simply holding the lace in place. Set your dial to 6 or 8 stitches per inch) Do not lock stitch in place, so NO back stitching! 
(NOTE: if the lace is not scalloped along the top edge you can skip this step!)

 Step 3: Zig zag stitch the lace on the top side. Remove baste stitch.

Step 4: Trim excess fabric up to the bottom of the zig zag stitch.

The finished piece, poke my heart. Available in my Etsy shop.

Friday, February 24, 2012

How to change a t-shirt's neckline DIY
Marc Maron rocks!
What I Wore :: 2.23.12

Matt and I went and saw Marc Maron in Atlanta last month. It was such a great show; he's so funny. It was a great atmosphere with less than 50 people in the audience, a very intimate show. I love Marc Maron! He is a cat guy too, and his WTF podcast is hilarious. I had to have a cat shirt! Yay for kitties. Marc records his podcast from his home, called the cat ranch. 

I'm listening to today's podcast while I write this post. Download it here.

Blurry Marc Maron and I after the show. Way to go, Matt, geez. (just kidding). Marc was so great and super nice. 

Matt bought me a sweet shirt after the show. Since I never wear high necked tees, I had to cut up and sew this shirt before I could wear it. So here is a fun tutorial on how to change the neckline and sleeves of a standard t-shirt. Marc Maron has three cats, and on the shirt he is yelling at his cat Boomer. I thought it'd be funny and silly to take some after pictures doing the same to Clementine. She was just rolling around the whole time. 

Enjoy this simple tutorial and fun cat pictures!

Before. A medium men's shirt. Marc didn't have any women's shirts at his show so I had to get this one. But he does have women's shirts on his site! Buy yours here.

1. Use chalk to draw the new neckline. Do not cut more than an inch or two from the hem on the original neckline or you will end up with an extreme boat neck. 2. Cut a strip of fabric to use for the new neckline. I chose tan cotton. 3. Measure the opening of the new neckline and cut the strip of fabric that length plus one inch for seam allowance. Press the fabric bad sides together, lengthwise. Sew end to end, good sides together, creating a loop. Place the seam at the side seam on the neckline and sew the neckline to the t-shirt, good sides together. 4. Top stitch on the t-shirt, with the raw edge of the seam pressed down and caught by the stitch.

For the sleeves, 1. Cut to desired length. 2. Using a double folded hem. stitch the sleeves on the machine. 3. Stay on the inside edge of the seam. 4. Voila, so easy, you're done!

Showing me her fat tummy. Clem seriously needs to go on a diet.

My fat Clementine was a sport while taking these pictures. She was groaning at me by the time I was finishing up. I had to put down cat nip to get her to stay in place and lock Zeus out of the kitchen. I love my big fat cat. Stella too. She was nearby watching the picture taking, glad she wasn't being forced into pictures. 

I hope you all enjoyed this tutorial! Have a great Friday.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Host your own clothing swap!
Tips and Tricks for your own swap and party.
Swapped outfit :: What I Wore 2.22.12

Last weekend, with the help from some friends, I hosted my second clothing swap. I love swaps! What better way to revamp your wardrobe for no cost whatsoever! Not only do you get "new" things, but at the same time, you clean out what you don't wear, and someone else gets to love your clothes. It's win-win for everyone!
1. First, create a guest list. I use Facebook and create an event. I invite every woman I know in my town. They don't have to be close friends, because this is a great way to get to know some of your casual acquaintances. I always invite about 100 people to the event. You'll get half to respond and even less to actually come. Encourage friends to bring other friends. The more the merrier.

2. Set rules. Everyone must bring clothes and/or accessories. I like to be sure to remind everyone to bring things that women will actually pick up and take home. No junk! Some clothes should just go straight to Goodwill. Save the hassle of having clutter in the swap and only bring wearable clothes. This of course is objective and a matter of opinion for most women. Sometimes you'll end up with crap in the piles but that's ok. There are always leftovers.

3. Set up folding tables and clothing racks. Label them according to type of clothes. My friend Sarah always brings over her tables she uses for craft shows. We set up as many tables as we can, labeling them with cardstock signs, catergories like short sleeved shirts, long sleeved shirts, sweaters, pants, shorts, skirts, accessories, etc. I also utilized my mantle and dining room table for accessories. Place shoes under the tables, neatly arranged of course, to save room. Set up a clothing rack for dresses or drape them over the back of a couch with skirts. 

4. Upon arrival, each woman sorts her own clothes! This prevents the host from having to do all the work. When you have 10+ women, that's a lot of clothing!

5. Provide appetizers and wine. Nothing gets strangers to chatting like wine and clothing. It's great to see women that I know, but don't know each other, become friends and meet at these swaps. It's like I'm a little matchmaker. When people are filtering in during the first half hour to hour is a great time to socialize and have a glass or two.

6. Add a little incentive and prize! Put all the women's names in a bowl. Once all clothing is sorted and out, pick a name or two, depending on the size of your group. The name(s) selected get(s) a first round pick at all the clothes. Then time to start swapping!

Most important rule to swapping: DON'T BE SHY! Try on clothes. Wear sometime to the swap you can easily throw something over. Or head to the bathroom and try on a pile of selected clothes. You don't want to take something home, only to find it doesn't fit and that someone else could have used it. I love this dress that Jaye found (above). I wish I had seen it first! Lucky gal. She found some amazing things at the swap.
Carry a bag on one shoulder. Toss all your finds in it, and when it gets a little full, step aside, go through it again, seeing what you picked. Ask yourself questions like: "Would I wear this?" or "How much use would I get from this piece?" If you don't know the answer, maybe consider putting it back.
Be picky with your choices. Again, someone else could use the top you are indecisive about. I started having these swaps to aid in my hoarding, and to help ME clean out my closet. So the last thing I want to do it take an excessive amount of clothes that I will not wear. 
Don't forget about accessories! I had two huge shoe boxes full of sunglasses last week. Now, only one. I managed to part with 20+ pairs of sunglasses (I told you I'm a slight hoarder), and since I donated all these pairs to the swap, I'm sure a bunch of the ladies now have some sweet new shades to sport. It feels good knowing they'll get some use and see the sun, since they mostly only see the inside of their box.
Make rounds and rounds at all the tables. Don't spend too much time and try to circle as much as possible. Even at the end of the swap, you'll discover items you didn't see the first three go-arounds. This is my favorite part! When the tables dwindle down to half that was there in the beginning...

And then you'll have leftovers. After everyone finished swapping, drank their wine and wound up conversations, they headed home with their new clothes. With the help of friends Sarah and Katie, we separated business and business casual clothing into garbage bags. These will go to a women's shelter and will help women that are trying to find work and need clothing.

The rest of the clothes I am taking to resale shops like Plato's closet and Uptown Cheapskate. Whatever money is earned from the sale of these leftovers I am donating to the local ASPCA or Humane Society. As much as I love Goodwill and Salvation Army, I have about 6 garbage bags left and the women that participated can do some good for local animals. I can't wait to see how much money I can get!

The leftovers from the resale shops will go to a thrift store, and hopefully I can hand a nice chunk of change to the local animal shelter, I haven't decided which one yet, I need to do some more research on where the money will be best sent to.

My first fully swapped outfit, what I wore yesterday. Swapped skirt, swapped cardigan, swapped t-shirt. The cardigan was something I wouldn't ever buy in a retail store. It has the hem that is longer in the front, and waist height in the back. Very slouchy and almost a tissue tee material. Great way to wear it: tie it in a bow! I loved it with the high-waisted floral skirt and tights, paired with some comfy thrifted cowboy boots and I was set for my first day back to work after a brief flu on Monday and Tuesday.

Questions? Comments? Want to host your own swap?! DO IT! It's a blast.
Check out the post from the last swap I hosted: here!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday Tunes - Stars - Changes (uncensored)

This video is so beautiful and I love this band Stars. I discovered them last February on "All Songs Considered", they were featured on their Valentine's podcast, "Breakup Songs" from 2010. I immediately bought the album, "Set Yourself On Fire". Bob Boilen, host of All Songs Considered, is my musical soulmate. 

The music video, "Changes" comes the indie rock band's most recent album, "The Five Ghosts." Beware, there is nudity. I'm listening to this album today while I work on more pieces for my April fashion show! 

Above is a live video of the band's acoustic set from NPR's Tiny Desk Concert. Thank you NPR for being so awesome and showing me beautiful new music to listen to over the years. You never let me down.

What are you listening to this week?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lake Michigan in February

I went home the for my birthday to visit my family and the Great Lakes state on a long weekend. This mild winter and little snow isn't at all like what I remember winter in Michigan! Four days, three nights; was the perfect winter visit. The one thing I wanted to be sure to photograph was the beautiful lake I grew up on, Lake Michigan.

I've lived in the south for over two years now, and our idea of winter in Georgia is long sleeves and socks with your shoes. You may have to wear a coat, but that's not for more than a month or two. By March it's back to t-shirts and shorts. Very different from what I remember growing up. In Michigan it's layer upon layer, warm boots, long Johns, ear muffs or hat, scarves, gloves, the works! 

While I miss having a "white Christmas" sometimes, I do not miss the cold winters! I was lucky enough to see some snow in Michigan, it snowed the morning I arrived and stayed all weekend, just a few inches.