Finally. I am finally breaking my nearly nine-month-blogging-hiatus (more on this in a later post), and of course it took the inspiring Christmas season to pull me out of my lethargy.
But I’m not talking about inspiration via Pinterest/Facebook/Lifestyle blogs galore. In fact, I’m finding those things a bit overwhelming lately. I bet I’m not the only one who finds the most meaningful Christmas inspiration in those tried and true, pre-Pinterest, good ‘ole family traditions.
Here are some of my personal faves:
Mornings and nights spent in the living room, by the light of the tree. Christmas albums playing in the background (Jewel is my absolute fave), and my favorite seasonal drink in hand. When I was a kid, it was always Egg Nog. Now-a-days I’ll have it with a shot of spiced black rum.
Another favorite tradition of mine is observing Advent. When I was a kid, we’d always light the advent wreath each Sunday night at home. It keeps me grounded and is a personal reminder for me of what Christmas is really all about.
A childhood memory I was only just now reminded of is how we always had candy canes decorating the Christmas tree. What a treat it was when I would get to partake in one! I’m going out as soon as possible to add these to our tree. See how useful reminiscing can be?
Each year since Lyle and I have gotten married, we have stuck to our own Christmas tradition we created for ourselves. The weekend after Thanksgiving, we go pick out a tree, bring it home and decorate it while watching Home Alone and baking cookies. It is one of our most sacred traditions, and I love it! Even if this is what it actually looks like: me decorating, while Lyle watches Home Alone. In Lyle’s defense, he did help with the tree portion, and he did bake the cookies!
One more family tradition: every year, my sister makes everyone in our family new stockings. Since we don’t have a mantel, but hosted an early Christmas for my whole family this year, we had to come up with a creative solution for hanging 11 stockings!
These are all really simple traditions, but they are ours, and I love them. I’d love to hear about your favorite family traditions this time of year!
Oh, what have the YouFrillMe gals been doing lately? Let’s see, at our house there’s been lots of swimming, sprinkler-playing, watermelon-eating, and fermenting!
Whaaa? Fermenting, you say?!
Yes, my friends. I am positively Frilled by a good FERMENT. This has so far been my summer of fermentation experimentation. It’s something I’ve been interested in for a while, just haven’t gotten brave and done it. Except for making kombucha, which I’ve been doing for several years now (store-bought kombucha is spendy, y’all, and I gotta fuel my habit affordably). I wish I had ventured in to the world of fermentation sooner. It’s one of my personal “final frontiers” of food transformation.
You may be wondering: Why, Frannie? Why play around with icky bacteria?
Well, bottom line is: BUGS ARE GOOD FOR YOU! Check out this article, or this TED talk, or my own past articles on probiotics here and here. I have been in bug love for a while now, so growing my own bugs and using them to turn ordinary foods into delicious, tangy, superfoods is a natural progression for me. Fermentation is also a traditional means of food preservation, one of the oldest we know about.
Kombucha, a traditionally fermented tea, was the Gateway Ferment for me. Kefir, or cultured milk, was the next step. Mostly I’ve been fermenting coconut milk and raw goat’s milk. My Littles love their kefir!
And I’ve been fermenting vegetables too: so far banana peppers, sauerkraut (cabbage), and cucumbers — usually anything I get too much of in my CSA farm share that I need to preserve longer than a week. (btw: lacto-fermented banana peppers on salads are amazing!)
Sprouting has also made it into my repertoire, in the form of sprouted beans and buckwheat. Soaking and sprouting increases the bioavailability of nutrients in foods like seeds, beans, and grains, and makes them more digestible. After you soak nuts, it’s easy to throw them in the blender to make healthy nut milks. Homemade walnut milk is creamy-delicious, but be careful to use or drink it promptly; it only keeps a day or two in the fridge.
If you’re interested in getting started with making kombucha, kefir, or cultured vegetables, Cultures For Health is a great resource. You don’t need any fancy gear to get started, just the cultures and some jars. I think it’s a good way to invest in your health, save money, and recycle pasta sauce jars
I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that it’s going to take me a year or two to get my house like I want it. We have lived here since August – so about 9 months, during which a baby arrived – and I still look around and see so many projects I want to do. Like screen in the back porch. Acquire the perfect chair for the living room. Find a few fabulous pieces of art. But the fact is, I have to go slowly. I live in my house all day every day and I want to love it. I want it to suit our aesthetic. I want it to feel right. And even if I weren’t one who has to ruminate on things before I know what I want, I still am bound by budget and time constraints.
If only my house looked like this.
I have made some small progress, however…
Do you have a hard time finding pillows you love? I feel like I hunt and hunt.
…accessorizing a teensy bit…
…and making progress in my office cubby. Remember what it used to look like? An improvement, no? Not 100%, but vastly better…
Sometimes I wish I could be like my friend Kate whose house is absolutely 100% gorgeous and totally HER, about 24 hours after she moves in, despite the fact that she has her hands full with three kids. Alas, that is not me. I’m a brooder, people. I have to mull things over.
In last week’s cardigan post we talked about four formulae for adding layers to our look, specifically using light cardigans. Formulae #’s 1-4 were somewhat basic, fairly expected and proven usages of the cardigan as a layering technique (haha, like that technical lingo? Wait till we get to Advanced Cardigan…).
Well, today’s Frilling Formulae are a step up from Basic. A little less-expected. A little more daring. A little more Frilling. And very colorful!
Remember how Formula #1 involved matching the cardigan color to a color in the pattern? Well, as we progress to Intermediate Cardigan, we want to think about harmonizing our colors rather than matching them. First we learn the matching rule, then we learn to break it.
Formula #5: Tone-on-Tone
Also known as Monochromatic. I love this look. It’s a trick I personally pull a lot. I just love piling on layers of the same color. In fact, I think I exercised a fair amount of restraint by not wearing pink shoes and lipstick. That would be overkill, right? Anyway, the point is to layer varying shades of the same color, or varying textures of the same color. Here I have my favorite pink Madewell v-neck tee with a hot pink cardi overtop. The scarf could just have easily been a neutral color, or a necklace, or removed entirely. I kept the bottom neutral with dark skinnies.
Aurelia is mixing lavenders here, with a cute striped short. (Incidentally: Ellie, this is a version of your warm-weather outfit.)
…And she’s doing the same outfit concept here, but with mixed-pinks on top. See? Super useful.
Formula #6: Bright-on-Bright (or Pastel-on-Pastel, or Pastel-on-Bright, or Neon-on-Neon)
Color blocking has been a big trend the past few seasons, and this is a variation on it. Take two strong colors, and put them in the same outfit. Zoey D is always doing this on New Girl. I always love it.
These three examples are all of cardigans and dresses. But a bright top paired with a bright cardigan atop a neutral or printed skirt or pants accomplishes the same thing in terms of this formula.
The Patterned Cardigan
So far we’ve only discussed solid cardigans. Now its time to step it up to patterns! The You Frill Me gals LOVE pattern. You will be amazed at how much use you’ll get out of a couple patterned layers. I only have a few patterned cardis, but I wear the heck out of them. If you’re afraid of pattern, or just unfamiliar, here is the simplest way to wear it
Formula #7: Patterned Cardi + Solid Base Layer
Your base layer – say a cami, blouse, or tee - can be neutral. For sure, the easiest is to throw a pattern on top of a navy, white, or black tee. And that surely works. But we’re talking about playing with lively, bright color here, soooo…. why not pair stripes or animal print with a bright or pastel solid?
Naomi texted me this quick pic she took of a combo she likes to wear, pairing her teal and navy stripe with a bright coral top. I love these colors. She is definitely thinking about color harmony here, but what’s interesting about this striped cardi is that I’m guessing she gets tons of use out of it since the teal and navy can work with a lot of different colors. For instance, a yellow top would be just as cute with it. Or red. Or cobalt (mixing hues). Or pink. You get it.
Alternatively, Naomi could use this same cardi and follow the reverse of Formula #1, and wear a coordinating (matchy-matching) base layer. But it wouldn’t be as playful, would it?
And here is one of my own favorite printed cardigans. This sucker gets tons of use. We think stripes and animal print are two of the easiest patterns to wear and remix. In fact, I mostly consider the animal print to be neutral, and tend to use this particular cardigan just like I use a neutral one, and mix it with lots of different prints and colors. I just threw it on with a v-neck tee and a cobalt cami (I like a camisole to keep my tummy covered while nursing) for a regular weekday. But it dresses up easily too.
This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of pattern. Oh yes my Frills, there will be more. Advanced Cardigans is aaaaaall about pattern. And other fun things.
So what do you think? Opine in the comments!
We’ve been talking about the “Rule of Three” - the idea of layering pieces to create a more cohesive, sophisticated look - over here on the blog lately. There’s been lots of discussion happening on facebook about it, and apparently it has struck a chord of inspiration with some of our favorite readers. Fabulous. Frilling!
My darling friend Ali gave herself a challenge to help her step up her game a bit in the style department. She decided that for 3 days she’d follow the Rule of Three. I asked her about her experience and here’s what she said:
I’m fashionally challenged. So after Fran explained the “three layer rule,” we made it homework: three days of three layers in one week. To start, I went thrifting and found a few new pieces that I could easily layer with items I already own:
Day One: I picked the sky-blue cardigan, layering it over an favorite T and adding the new necklace. I wasn’t convinced it was a great outfit, but I knew I’d made a start. I took my photo–but I wasn’t happy about it.
Day Two: I picked the teal cardigan, which I had fallen in love with. I poked around on the LOFT website, looking for how their models wore their cardigans. I noticed most of the “loud” cardigans were paired with neutral tops, so I imitated that. A beaded necklace functioned as my third layer. I felt confident in my choices and let my husband snap a cute pic for me.
Day Three: I faced a two-outfit day. For work, I picked the black-and-white striped tee. Fran had challenged me to use a scarf as my third layer rather than a necklace, so I added a black cardigan and a hot pink scarf. I paired the top with a flirty skirt instead of my uniform pants–and I felt like a movie star.
For after-work, I knew I’d be attending a formal awards banquet. I chose a print top with a cami and a complementary necklace, paired with a white skirt and metallic wedges.
How does it feel, now that it’s done? As someone who usually finds shopping and dressing to be painfully difficult, the three-layer challenge was liberating. My confidence grew exponentially. And, as I stood in my closet the night before the final challenge day, putting together my outfits was actually fun. Frillingly so.
There are so many things I love about this. One is that Ali was about to make the Rule work for her in her daily life fairly easily. Two is that she went shopping with a purpose, looking for specific pieces to work with and Frill up her existing wardrobe. Three, that Ali embraced some bright, fun colors. And four, that she said her outfit made her feel like a movie star. And that, folks, is where it’s at.
Ali, You FRILL us!
PS: Ali, your next challenge is to remix those cardigans into other outfits.
PPS: Stay tuned for the next installment of our cardigan series, hopefully later this week!
My friend Ellie sent me a message that said: “…Remove Old Navy cotton from my choices and I’ve gotta be honest I’m lost when it comes to hot weather fashion. I can’t wear three layers every day…” (She’s referring to the Rule of Three, mentioned in yesterday’s post.)
With that comment in mind, I thought I’d share an outfit that I envision Ellie getting a lot of use out of. Ellie, what you’re intuiting is true: Woman Cannot Live by Old Navy Alone. O.N. is fine for the odd fun piece here and there, but we grownup women do need a little more sophistication now and again. So, taking into account Ellie’s vibrant and fun personality, her job as a minister to youth and college students, as well as her job as a Mama to two young boys, not to mention summer heat and humidity; I made this collage of an outfit I think Ellie might find pretty useful in her daily life.
These are obviously example pieces you could sub for something else, but you get the idea: a lightweight tank, a cute dressier-type short (sista has great gams), a comfy wedge sandal, a lightweight 3/4 sleeve cardigan for air-conditioned spaces. Summer date night – done. Daytime meeting – done. Grocery shopping – done. Grown-up but fun. Sophisticated but not stuffy. And all pieces that work in myriad ways with lots of other outfits.
So, ya’ll know Aurelia and I are always talking about cardigans, right? I even published a post entitled “Cardigans 101,” where I talked about the Frilling Four: four cardigans I recommend to start your cardi collection. See, what we’re really talking about is layers, ’cause cardigans make great layering pieces.
We think layering is an easy way to make your outfits look put-together, grown up, and interesting. Layers take a little more thought than just throwing on a top and bottom and running out the door, but not that much more once you get the hang of it. The best advice I’ve found is the “Rule of Three.” Shana has a great post on it if you’re unfamiliar. (This post is helpful too.) The gist is, aim for three pieces on top. For warm weather these may be a tank + a light cardi + a statement necklace. Or a tee + blazer + scarf. Or in cooler weather a cami + long sleeve button-up + fuzzy sweater. You get the idea. Three is the magic number.
A YouFrillMe reader friend sent me this message: “Fran, I am now the proud owner of several mostly-solid-colored cardigans. But I have no idea what to put underneath them! Would love some help…”
Ok friend, here goes. The rules are…(drum roll)…there are NO RULES. But, lest I seem unhelpful, here are a few examples — “formulae” if you will — to get you started on your happy layering journey.
Formula #1: Patterned Blouse + Coordinating Solid Cardigan
This is the simplest, most no-brainer way to combine layers. Think 60′s housewife. Here Aurelia does the formula in a more modern way, but its the same principle your granny has been wearing in her twinsets for years. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s classic and a little bit preppy, and it works.
I’m doing the same formula here: I simply chose a color from my the pattern in my dress and added that color cardigan. Easy peasy. Not unexpected, but cute. My seafoam statement necklace satisfies the Rule of Three.
Formula #2: Mixing Neutrals
Here I’m following the Rule of Three with a tank, a light cardi, and a statement necklace (this chunky seafoam necklace has been keeping me good company this spring – I’ve been throwing it on with everything). With the exception of the necklace, everything is neutral in color: a navy tank, wheat-colored cardi, and light gray shorts. Neutrals like this are like the O-negative blood of your wardrobe – the universal donors that can go anywhere. I love mixing neutrals, but I try to not let it get too boring by adding cool accessories like the necklace and these hand-me-down blue Naot wedges (soooo comfy!).
Formula #3: Neutral Top + Bright (or Pastel) Cardigan
Here my friend Ali is demonstrating her layering skills with a neutral blouse plus a bright cardigan. With a neutral (white, cream, beige, gray, navy, black, chambray) blouse and bottom, she can choose any color cardigan she wants. This turquoise is springy and enlivening, and she’s following the Rule of Three by adding a cute beaded necklace. The lace on the white blouse adds textural interest also. Doesn’t she look pretty?
Aurelia is following this same formula below (from this post, if you’ve been following her series on how to wear chambray), and also following the Rule of Three, with her chambray + coral cardigan + statement necklace:
Formula #4: Bright Top + Neutral Cardigan
This is Formula #3 in reverse. Beth, a master hand at neutrals, is wearing a solid pastel shirt-dress with a neutral cardigan. Her cardi is extra frilling because it’s subtly striped and menswear-inspired. The Frills are in the details, folks.
And remember Naomi did this too, with her cobalt top and beige cardi paired with a bold pattern on bottom.
More ideas for how to wear your layers to come, so stay tuned for Intermediate and Advanced… but meanwhile, how do you do it? And, if you’re in need of more cardigan inspiration, check out Shana’s How We Wear it series.
Look at this sweet baby.
Somehow, 6 months have passed. Unfathomable. But there she is, in all her jolly glorious adorableness. I used to secretly judge parents who would be constantly kissing their babies in public. You know, those ones who are always just walking around smooching away regardless of the situation. Well, I am one of those parents. I can’t help it. Seriously, the most smoochable baby. Those cheeks. You try picking her up without smooching them and tell me how you do.
Recently I had a craving for cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes with cream filling and a milk chocolate icing. YUM. I bought a gluten free chocolate cupcake mix, and used a recipe for the cream filling that I can’t find now! I inserted the cream into the cupcakes using a large icing tip, and whipped up a batch of chocolate frosting. I added sprinkles for extra FRILLS. I ate a few (yes, a few), saved some for Lyle, and then gave the rest away so that I didn’t eat them for the next day’s breakfast, lunch and supper. So good!
Hello all! Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve last posted. It’s been really busy for us lately because we’ve been doing this:
I have some fun before and afters coming up, but right now, we are on our way to France for a couple of weeks! Until then, follow me on instagram (@aureliajoy) for regular updates!