How I got a Honda

close up of the front grill of the 2011 Civic LX

In some parts of the world getting a Honda may not seem like a big deal, but I’m a native of the Motor City. I grew up in the land of the Big 3 where you would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t have at least one friend or family member in their employ. How then could I perpetuate this blasphemy by buying ‘foreign’?

The quick surface answer is that they gave me a deal I could not pass up, which they did. For $205 a month I am leasing a brand new 2011 Civic LX – less than I was paying on my Cobalt and I come out with no negative equity.

I feel I should state here that my Cobalt served me very well in the 4.5 years we were together. We were everywhere from inner city Pontiac to the back roads of Kalkaska and back again. Often people were amazed at how much I could fit in her (like the Segway in the back seat…) and I can think of many snowy roads that we traversed. It was, however, time that we parted, so back to the Honda.

2011 Civic LX from the front

It wasn’t just the price that sold me on the car. If I had hated it I would have passed for a newer used vehicle, but I don’t hate it.

While approximately the same size as the Cobalt, it feels much bigger on the inside. Part of this is from the longer windshield. It is not only more aerodynamic (as they cite), but it also makes for a deeper more open feeling dashboard.

Speaking of the dashboard, it looks odd at first. Different from what I am accustomed to finding it cars, but from an interaction design perspective it makes sense. Take the speedometer and gas. They’re set further up in the dashboard to be in your line of sight. With a brief change of focus you know and with the change to digital your brain can skip right over reading the gauge to the information itself.

view across the steering wheel in the 2011 Civic LX

Then there are the controls for the radio, heat, fan, etc.

Note how they have been moved up to be on the top and edge of the dashboard. Again, looks a bit different, but when compared with the location of the steering wheel they are a simple swing of the hand away and, again, more in line with the line of sight for driving.

dashboard of the 2011 Civic LX

There’s also more leg room. This isn’t a problem for me. I’m short, but my family is not. Nor are all of my friends. I’m sure they will appreciate this feature, which is aided by the curved back of the seat design.

curved bcks on the seats of the 2011 Civic LX

One last design feature I noted that will work well for me is the low edge on the trunk. For some this may mean that their trunk can no longer be the junk repository because it would explode onto the ground upon opening, but the biggest problem I had with my trunk before was trying to angle in larger items that I knew would fit if only I could get them in. Problem no more.

Opened trunk on the 2011 Civic LX

Yet, in spite of all these, younger me would have been appalled at my decision. Buy foreign? I could never go home again. I would be an outcast in my own hometown – or at the very least I’d have to park a couple of blocks over to hide the shame I was bringing to my family.

Older me knows better than to think that the brand that I drive constitutes whose economy I am supporting. Older me realizes that my dad may work in the Chrysler Tech Center, but it’s for a Japanese company who supplies them and the models he does work for are manufactured in Canada and Mexico.

As my brother sent me via text – gotta love globalization.

You see, my dad is just one example of what older me has learned about the global economy. 20 years ago when I was being indoctrinated into the Great American Muscle Cars it may have been true that American was built in America and supported the American economy (aka my family and friends) but it is no longer so simple.

The ‘foreign’ car that I picked up yesterday was in fact built in Indiana.

Approximately 83% of all parts come from suppliers in the US.

Just two weeks ago Honda Transmission of America Mfg. announced a $70 million 200,000-square-foot expansion project in Russell Point, Ohio, which brings the investment in that particular plant by Honda to over $490 million. It is also creating 100 new full-time jobs.

The salesmen who helped me live and work here, as do the people who will do any work needed on my car in the next three years.

Of course, if you’re really interested in the economics they’ve got all of that information available in the form of 78 page pdf entitled ‘Contribution of Honda to the Economies of Seven States and the United States’ by the Center for Automotive Research. You can download it here.

I could continue, but I have other things to get done before heading off to New Year’s festivities this evening. So, in closing, here’s a full view of my new wheels. Younger me may have had issues with the emblem on the grill, but she would have to admit that this isn’t the rather ugly sedan of the latter 80’s and 90’s (though I am sure that is a matter of opinion as well).

2011 Civic LX in Royal Blue Pearl

The Scents of Spring: Partylite Winter/Spring 2011 Fragrances

Image for the Forbidden Fruit line representing it's sultry mystery taken from the 2011 Winter Spring Partylite Catalog

Just a little over a week ago the latest Partylite catalog went live including 3 new collections. Technically this new catalog is the Partylite Winter/Spring 2011 collection, but the new fragrances scream spring to me with their fruits and florals. You can see for yourself with this overview of the new and returning Partylite fragrances for this Winter/Spring season.

Forbidden Fruits

Indulge your fragrance fantasies with Forbidden Fruits…

Apple Allure
Fruits & Citrus
Juicy apple is mingled with sparkling fruits, flirtatious florals and provocative musk. As tempting as the fruit in the Garden of Eden.

Fig Fatale
Fruits & Citrus
This irresistible blend of sensual fig, succulent fruits and velvety vanilla is deliciously rich. Fall under fig’s captivating spell.

Passion Fruit
Fruits & Citrus
An exotic and effervescent blend of sun-ripened passion fruit, wild island berries and sparkling champagne. Its luscious ripe scent arouses the senses.

Perfect Pear
Fruits & Citrus
Anjou pear and crisp delicious apple are layered with creamy vanilla and juicy red berries in this succulent fragrance. Creates an exciting, stirring sensation.

Plum Pleasure
Fruits & Citrus
Sweet, plump plums, black cherries and red raspberries are warmed with notes of cinnamon and vanilla. Give in to your passion.

Natural Rituals

Herbal & Woodsy
A naturally soothing union of comforting lavender and peace inducing rosemary. Positively quiets the mind and relaxes the soul.

Fruits & Citrus
Stimulating blend of sparkling grapefruit, eye-opening citrus and refreshing mint is enhanced with natural spearmint. Feel recharged and ready to go.

Herbal & Woodsy
An inspiring potpourri of warm sandalwood, soothing eucalyptus and calming geranium unfolds with nuances of lemon and herbs. Sets the stage for a peaceful, contemplative journey.

Fruits & Citrus
Spicy ginger pairs with the vibrant notes of refreshing lemongrass and zesty lemon for a lively air. It’s the perfect way to awaken your senses.


Mesmerizes with its sumptuous blend of cinnamon-warmed citrus and precious florals, touched with notes of amber, creamy vanilla, musk and patchouli. Wraps your room in a comforting, plush embrace.

A luxurious fusion of sparkling mandarin, crisp apple and fresh floral notes, softened with hints of vanilla and sandalwood. Fills your home with an aura of modern sophistication.

Herbal & Woodsy
An alluring blend of rare herbs and citrus, mingled with sultry spices, black pepper, amber, cedarwood and musk. Dramatic and rich, it exudes an exotic, almost mysterious air.

The rest of the new additions…

Cherry Blossom
Cherry blossoms are delicately blended with jasmine, freesia and a whisper of fruit for a romantic, dewy fragrance. As fresh as a new spring day.

Dulche De Leche
Edible & Spicy
Sweetened milk is slowly simmered to create this rich caramel confection that is enjoyed all over the world. Creamy, decadent…just plain irresistible.

Sea Salt & Driftwood
Fresh & Clean
The scent of salty air blends with watery notes and warm driftwood for a clean and calming fragrance. Like a shower of sea spray, gently misting the coastal air.

White Lily
The pure, soft scents of jasmine, ylang and rose are entwined with hints of bergamot, vanilla and sandalwood for added richness. It’s a soft, tender air that’s just right for the warmer seasons.

Wild Rose
A romantic bouquet of rose petals enhanced with fruit and floral notes and a touch of musk. Captures the scent of wild roses in full, glorious bloom.

And for those whose noses remember the scents of the past (& those who don’t as well), here are the fragrances that will be returning this winter…

10 Limited Edition Classics

Fruits & Citrus
Harmonious blend of crisp citrus notes with floral and green notes. Brings a zesty freshness to your rooms.

Fruits & Citrus
Favorite grape scent warmed by vanilla is kept fresh by the presence of light fruit and floral notes. Be transported to a vineyard at harvest time.

Black Cherry
Fruits & Citrus
Intense fruity fragrance delivers the full-bodied sweetness of black cherries. Takes you to an orchard where they are found in abundance.

Teakwood & Cardamom
Herbal & Woodsy
Woody blend of sandalwood and patchouli combines with the warming notes of nutmeg and cinnamon. Enchants with an earthy, exotic flair.

Coconut Cove
Fruits & Citrus
A true coconut fragrance with just a touch of fruity flavor and musk. Fresh from the shores of a tropical beach.

Cedar Patchouli
Herbal & Woodsy
Earthy aromatics cedar blends with the sensual notes of patchouli and florals. Like standing in a freshly-cut clearing deep in the woods.

A light, breezy bouquet of old-fashioned flowers gathered in Grandma’s backyard.

Caramel Pear Brulee
Edible & Spicy
A buttery, caramel treat bubbling with juicy pear notes soaked in the warmth of brandy. Indulge in the richness.

Amber Dream
Herbal & Woodsy
An alluring blend of rich sandalwood, amber and musk is lightened by a touch of pine and florals. Draws you in with its warm sensual notes.

Fruits & Citrus
A medley of watery accents and white grapes surrounds a juicy heart of raspberry in this classic fragrance. Naturally uplifting and refreshing.

Seasonal favorites beyond the 10…

Fruits & Citrus

Mango Tangerine
Island Nectar


Apricot Daisy

Edible & Spicy

Icing on the Cake

Fresh & Clean

Ocean Mist

And lastly…

Departing on December 31, 2010

These are the fragrances that will be leaving us as of midnight this Friday

Fruits & Citrus

Iced Snowberries
Tangelo Mojito
Acai Berry Mist
Cranberry Delight
Sugar Plum Fairies


Peace on Earth

Edible & Spicy

Cinnamon Eggnog
Holiday Spices
Hocus Pocus
Leaves of Fun
Halloween Night
Spiced Cider
Cinnamon & Bayberry
Peppermint Bark
Cinnamon Sticks

Herbal & Woodsy

Spruce in the Snow
Tamboti Safari (check out Tamboti in the Signature Fragrances)

Fresh & Clean

Arctic Ocean

Have a question about a fragrance? Wondering if your favorite one stuck around? Feel free to ask below or via email :)

5 Things I Love – Dec 27

image for weekly list of five things I'm currently loving in life, music, art, etc.

1. Time with Family

I am blessed to have a very close immediate family, so we always enjoy when we are able to spend time in each others’ company. We were short one member in body this Christmas, but (with the help of Skype) were able to share the holiday in spite of that.

2. Skype

With my little brother not making it home for Christmas, I finally went on and created an account so that we could share Christmas Eve and morning with him from afar. I was supposed to get Skype ages ago to talk to my exchange daughter when she went back to Germany, but as my various forms of computing changed I never got that far. Now, not only can I finally talk to Miriam, but I can also catch my brothers face to face as well.

One Note: If you are installing Skype on a laptop with a built-in microphone, make sure to change your settings to accomodate that because (as we discovered after much toggling of computer settings) Skype defaults to an external mic.

3. World of Goo

In the final hours of the Humble Indie Bundle #2 special (a fundraiser for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Child’s Play Charity), I finally succumbed to temptation. At that point they had sweetened the deal with Humble Indie Bundle #1 if you donated above the average. World of Goo is the only game I’ve downloaded so far but I am already addicted. Hours of my life have been sucked into building goo structures.

4. so hooked on Carmella eau de toilette

I know I mentioned this on my holiday wishlist post and I generally am trying not to repeat myself on 5 Things I Love, but I received a bottle of it for Christmas and it is totally living up to my initial impressions.

5. Vintage Sports Apparel

On Christmas Eve my older brother, father and I sallied forth to the mall to finish up some shopping for my mother. Considering my company it should come as no surprise that we ended up at Gameday Detroit as long as we were there. I did not purchase anything for myself (though I was tempted), but the vintage apparel that has appeared since our last visit is awesome. I would actually wear the Lion’s t-shirt(this one too) or Tiger’s hoodie. I also LOVE the Old-Time Hockey lace-up hoodies – both the Original Six and the Redwings.

A Merry Christmas Competition

Last week our company essentially took recess on Friday morning in honor of the 1st Annual Christmas Decorating Contest. UX became it’s own department separate from (but embedded in) the Tech team  this past summer, so the friendly rivalry was running strong between us leading up to this.

After some discussion over what we might choose to do for our area, we chose to focus on fun and food. Part of this was obvious – cookies, Mexican hot cocoa, gift bags with more cookies and some wonderfully tasty homemade whipped cream.

the UX department all done up

But  this is a decorating contest, right? How do you incorporate food into holiday decor? Food themed snowflakes and cinnamon ornaments, of course.

another view of the UX department decor

a close up of a storage cabinet with snowflakes and ornaments

sign saying 'Merry Christmas'

The ornaments did cause a bit of confusion. You might think the beads would be enough to get that they weren’t cookies, but we decided to take the safe side of things.

cinnamon ornaments in star shapes

Caitlin made up a Christmas tree design for us while I turned a hand at snowflake cutting.

Christmas tree image

Our tree was a bit different than the ones found just across the cubicle in the Tech department. One of their was made of post-it notes (they chose a theme of office supplies).

Christmas tree made of post it notes

Their crowning glory, though ,was the Mountain Dew/ginger ale tree.

'tree' made of Mountian Dew cans with a 'binary' tree in the background

It was pretty amusing and very definitely a reflection of them.

We in UX could not just leave it at food and decor, though. We’re interactive people – the User Experience department. So Caitlin took it a step further with some Christmas trivia for the judges followed by a bit of Christmas Mad Libs.

Image of this text - Rudolph the gargantuan-nosed mamot had a very runny nose and if you ever wiped it, you would even say it flows. All of the other marmots used to belch and call him snot-nose. They never let silly Rudolph running in any incredible games.

A marmot, for those who may be unfamiliar, is a large rodent like a groundhog or squirrel. We have one for a mascot – Ce Marmot. New Business kidnapped him for the judging.

Ce Marmot, our stuffed animal marmot, in a Santa hat

We closed out our time with the judges with an impromptu rendition of ‘Rudolph the Gargantuan-Nosed Reindeer’ at the request of our president.

So, how did we fare?

We didn’t win the overall prize – that went to the Jedis over Customer Service (they did a lovely job) BUT we won ‘Most Fun’.

The devs? They got ‘Most Original’, which worked out well for all. Here are a couple of other photos from their area.

Christmas lights augmented with post-it notes

a sign saying 'Christmas: There's an app for that."

To my personal amusement, they also retained and decorated our gift to them back when we helped decorate their work area.

pink flowers with some green festiveness

The fun wasn’t limited to our side of the building, though. I personally enjoyed the Star Wars theme over at Marketing (which is otherwise known as the Dark Side). I’ve been admiring their stockings for several weeks. If you can’t read it – the skeleton is Uncle Owen.

Uncle Owen, Luke and Obi-Wan in stockings

Lord Santa even made an appearance.

Darth Vader Santa

There was also a smaller Vader feeling the Christmas spirit along with a slightly different star atop their tree.

Christmas Vader bobblehead

Christmas w/ Death Star & sign saying the world beyond i Hoth

Curiously, this morning it was pointed out to me that Rudolph was no longer a gargantuan-nosed marmot, but instead a… well, I’ll just write it out in it’s entirety.

“Rudolph the bloody-nosed Vampire Spork had a very evil nose and if you ever stubbed it, you would even say it invigorates.
All of the other penguins used to arm-wrestle and call him Edward. They never let deadly Rudolph feast in any violent games…”

The vampire spork was a dead giveaway of the culprit. If it hadn’t been then the addition of the penguin would have been more than enough.

@Firstcrusader didn’t even try to deny it when I mention it to her. I may just start calling her FirstcruVader after this pic, though.

Firstcrusader with the Vader helmet and a lightsaber

PS Our blogger also sent an excellent holiday greeting out to us this week. I hope you enjoy it.

holiday card

World Usability Day 2010 – Part Two

World Usability Day logo

If you haven’t read Part One of this post, find it here.

I apologize. I failed at the whole not taking as long to get this post up. It’s been 90% done for several weeks just waiting for me to go back and finalize it – taunting me the whole while.

So, picking up where we left off there are three presentations remaining starting with a surprisingly interesting one from a government employee.

Government on the Move

When I saw that there was someone from our state government there it was not necessarily surprising considering how close we were to the Capital Building and my knowledge of’s existence, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be sleeping by the end.

As it turns out, Chuck Baird was an entertaining speaker and even started out joking about the bad rap speakers from the government get. He shared with us about how usability came to his attention and grew from there as well as the ways that the state had started to look at usability in their development.

While anyone can tell you that there is a lot work to be done on the state’s site, Baird was able to share about the Mi Drive site, MDOT’s twitter account and the mobile version of the state’s site.

Best Practices for Mobile Application Design

This presentation, by Jason Withrow of Washtenaw Community Colleg and Usable Development, LLC, mostly discussed the basics of how to think of and work in the mobile space.

Withrow started with the range of mobile devices – screen sizes, software, supported devices, storage and microbrowsers. All of these elements can vary across a wide range. For example the average cellphone has a screen size of 100-320 pixels while an iPhone is 480 in width and PDAs can range from 320-640 pixels.

From there he moved on to specific design constraints focusing mostly on hardware like the keyboards on mobile devices, touchscreens and potential bandwidth (both connection speed & data use).

For the sake of space I’m going to breakdown the main best of practice points into an outline.

Low-end device implementation
– best done in (x)html + css with either a handheld stylesheet, .mobl address or m.domain address.
– functionality should be focused on the key task the app is meant to do
– same amount of bandwidth is consumed when elements are hidden but not removed from mobile visibility/functionality.

High-end device implementation
– Option 1: (x)html +css combined with javascript using a css media query based on device characteristics
– Option 2: write the app in a programming language supported by the device.

– Streamline task completion: keep a consistent theme in mpbile design and focus on doing 1-2 things well
– Design for preferences and patterns: remember the users frequent selections & most recent actions
– Design for single-hand use: can the user operate it with one finger? Limit the need for keyboard & multi-touch.
– Keep Fitt’s law in mind: size is critical, it needs to be big enough to acquire easily without clutter to hit accidentally around it
– Use mobility to your advantage: incorporate the users geographic location in consideration

– transition between portrait/landscape modes requires bigger adjustments than on PDA/smartphones
– drop & drag is possible

Creating Beautiful Android & Apple Mobile Applications Easily

When we first saw this topic on the docket, we really weren’t sure if we’d get anything out of it because when it comes to coding… well, that’s what the devs are for (and we appreciate it greatly). I am so glad we decided to stay anyway.

Nick Kwiatkowski (@quetwo) started out with a few stats to keep in mind –

– 4.6 billion cellular subscriptions worldwide
– 3.5 billion are capable of text messaging
– 257 million data plan holders within the USA (over 1 billion world wide)

It is not all HTML5 and people are expecting an app but the fragmentation of mobile devices makes very few things compatible across the board. Because of this creating apps for use across the board can be very expensive in development hours.

Adobe has published an application framework that allows developers to create applications that run across mac, windows and linux

AIR is either compatible or soon to be compatible for iPhone, Android, Windows & blackberry and allows you to re-use code to create an app over multiple platforms. This is not a miracle tool. The toolsets will never be as powerful as an app targeted at a specific device and the context (phone vs desktop vs other) does need to be considered before sharing the code blindly.

I’m including my notes from the talk, but if you really want to get a good grasp of how this works I suggest going to Kwiatkowski’s blog for his notes, powerpoint, etc.

Start by selecting your chosen device in Device Central

Create a new document in Photoshop
– since it is exported from device central it is already set to the correct specifications
– make sure each element is on it’s own layer because the prototype will lose it’s taxonomy
– elements should also be divided into folders
– Do not rasterize labels and fonts, this breaks accessibility

Adobe Catalyst
– create a new project from a psd.
– It will import with an options screen (choose a color other than white so people don’t take it as something being wrong)
– Ctrl/enter will run the project in internet explorer
– Use shift to select multiple
– With a click change to types of functionality (Photoshop box -> text box)
– Specify as needed (parts, repeated elements, etc.)
– Create multiple views in the pages/states sections
– Create interactions from the data list

Now into Adobe Flash Builder (can also use Flash Professional)
– rt click on project explorer, Flex mobile AIR project
– list target platforms, blank to import project in progress
– multiple Photoshop files for real life re-orientation
– App id usually domain name backwards
– Automatically imports code with the catalyst final design file
– Debug file for errors
– Can export to code or the internet
– Professional is a little more advanced with iPhone

There you go. I hope you’ve enjoyed this overview even if it has taken me far too long to post it.

5 Things I Love – Dec 20

image for weekly list of five things I'm currently loving in life, music, art, etc.

1. Mexican Hot Chocolate

I was first introduced to this tasty beverage while running an after school Cub Scout program in college. I no longer remember why we had a Mexican food theme going on that night, but I do remember how good the hot chocolate tasted and was reminded of it’s wonderfulness when my coworker brought some in for our decorating contest last Friday. Abuelita mixed into hot milk then followed with a dollop of homemade whipped cream. Mmmmm.

2. North Pole Express

The last train has run for the 2010 season, but I had the opportunity to go along on the 18th as a car host and I must say that we in car 5 had a great trip. Hot cocoa, singing with our wandering troubadour, a visit to Santa’s Village and more. It was a great dose of holiday magic.

3. Fun Snowflake Designs

Star Wars snowflakes recently made a veritable storm of chatter on the web for several days recently. While Ive not yet had the chance to give that awesomeness a try, I did lend my hands to some special snowflakes of a food theme for our decorating contest. We had turkeys and gingerbread people, forks and spoons and hot chocolate – all cut out in lovely white copy paper.

4. Singing with our Quartet

Even when it seems like the harmonies are a million years from coming together, singing with the ladies is a lot of fun. It’s also a stretching experience since I’m actually sing *gasp* harmony ;) Here are a few performances from this weekend ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘Winter Wonderland’. They are neither our best nor our worst, but they’re the ones I’ve actually got on video.

5. Calvin & Hobbes Snowmen

Yep, tis the season to pull out those comics and enjoy the snowmen anew. We haven’t gotten enough of the white fluffy stuff ourselves yet this winter to build any real life versions of Calvin’s creations, but I’m sure mother nature will take care of that soon enough. In the interim I’ll just have to enjoy this collection of other fan’s work gathered by Web Urbanist.

Rag Doll Project

New Raggedy Ann Doll

As I am sure many offices across the nation did, ours adopted several families for the Christmas season and we had an angel tree for them with ornaments of their Christmas needs. After perusing the many options available I decided to do a doll for a three year old girl. I knew I wouldn’t be able to spend a lot but I thought I’d be able to find something.

Fail. Absolute fail.

Yes, there were dolls that were marked 3 & up when I checked on my next shopping trip, but nothing that I was willing to purchase in my price range. This led to Plan B aka Alaina’s craziest holiday decision of the year – make the doll.

I will admit this decision and project were largely inspired by the Raggedy Ann doll that I myself received from my grandmother as a girl.

The inspiration doll - my own Raggedy Ann

See how cute and well-loved she is?

That in mind I picked up some unbleached muslin on my next rip to JoAnn’s (the most dangerous store in a 30 mile radius) and promptly got absorbed in other things – like NaNoWriMo & putting together a rockstar poster for our lia sophia party.  Suddenly gifts were due in five days and I realized I had not only not started, but was missing supplies.

Three more days passed and it was Monday night. NaNo was 95% done. The poster had been a success. I finally made an emergency walk to JoAnn’s for striped fabric & embroidery floss.

After washing all of my fabric (so it would do any shrinking before the sewing) I began to cut and piece together the beginnings of a doll.

cut out pieces for the doll

I realized retrospectively that I should have been more careful in lining up those stripes because they were just bit off, but that realization came much later in the process. I also started on her attire.

half finished dress and apron

There were several different fabrics I was looking between for her dress before settling on this kelly green cotton jersey because it went best with the bright stripes in her stockings.  Traditionally, Raggedy Ann is in blue but none of the blues I had looked quite right and another run to the store was out of the question at this point.

Tuesday I knew I would have some work ahead of me with the embroidery on her face and chest.

close up

It really wasn’t that bad and I was quite pleased with how it turned out. What I was not expecting was how fricking (or should I say frakkin?) long it took me to do her hair.

That there is at least half of Return of the Jedi as well as the majority of Iron Man. Why? Check out the close up.

the hair

Every single one of those loops was hand pulled and knotted. If only I had realized what a process it was I would have attempted to spread that out over several sittings instead of one. I will say I am much better at it now than when I started. By the time I was done it was the wee hours of the next morning, so I called it a night. Her body and attire were almost complete.

completed unclothed doll

Wednesday was when gifts were due so I ran home over a late lunch and finished up the details like cutting the loops on her hair and edging her sleeves and apron. I also solved my biggest conundrum of the process – how to close her dress.

Being for a three year old, snaps and buttons were a no and ties probably beyond her skills. I don’t much care for velcro so I was a bit stuck. Then I found the random zipper that was exactly the length I needed. I;m not even sure where it came from, so I’m going with that it was meant to be. Once that was in she was complete.

She paused for a picture before being packed up and wrapped.

completed doll

Sometime this coming week she will arrive with her new family and be opened by a little girl who I sincerely hope will enjoy and find companionship in her just as I did in the Raggedy Ann I received. Aside from being nervous that she is not at all what her new friend is wanting, I am quite pleased with how she turned out. I won’t say that I’ll never do it again because I am sure I will, but I certainly will have a much better idea of what I am doing when the time comes.

P.S. This is also why there haven’t been any further posts from me this week. I do have a few in the wings waiting for final finishing touches that will be up sometime this weekend.

5 Things I Love – Dec 13

image for weekly list of five things I'm currently loving in life, music, art, etc.

1. Mystery Button Bags

They just make me gleeful, all those colors and shapes and surprises. It’s like catnip for me. Even the $1.50 bag of assorted buttons in the craft section will work as fix. In fact, in a moment of great nerdery earlier this week I tweeted a picture of them all sorted by colors and matching sets. I know I have a problem. I’ll admit it. That doesn’t mean I’m giving it up anytime soon though.

2. Predator vs. Prey Mittens

I’ve come across these several times and they not only are cute and fun, they are also a lesson in the circle of life and hours of entertainment for the easily amused (like myself).

3. When Pigs Fly sticky notes

Perfect for when our UX department’s dreams fly higher than than the company’s scope for the next five years by which point bio-engineering may just have created flying pigs.

4. Built Lunch Bags

I’ve been scoping out Built’s bags for awhile and a few weeks ago I scored one of these for $2 at Wal-Mart. Not only does the bag expand to fit a pretty decent amount of food in it, but it also folds up nicely to fit in my backpack for the return home from work.

5. Windshield De-Icer

As I’m sure many of you are aware, the Midwest got a good bit of snow along with a nice temperature drop in the last 24 hours. For me this meant not only some lovely roads to drive into work on this morning, but also a completely frozen car this morning. Thankfully my clicker chose to work this morning and I was able to get enough force to open the door on the third try. Anyway, as I was waiting for the ice on my windshield to melt I couldn’t help but wish I had picked up some de-icer last time I was at the store. Believe me, this oversight will soon be amended.

Sparkle in… Sequins

There is a great quandary that faces most sparkle-holics (and wanna be sparkle-holics as well) –  how do you get that shimmer and sparkle without being gaudy? With the holiday season in full swing now, I’ve decided to broach some tips on how to achieve this starting with trend of sequins.

Sequins are back. If you’ve done any shopping lately you’ve probably seen them in several places and styles. Unfortunately, as we all know, they can easily be overdone turning into 80s flashback mode. Nobody wants this.

To avoid looking like your hair needs another 10 lbs. of hairspray, keep in mind two things.
1) Sequins are best paired with solids, not more sequins or other shiny things. Depending on what you are dressing for this could mean jeans, a cotton blend or even a satin – preferably unembellished.
2) With your jewelry, keep in mind that too much bling is not the thing and proximity is queen.

For our first example…

A night out with the girls

sequin tank paired with trouser jeans, canvas military jacket, earrings and ring
Sequin Tank, DKNY – $125
The Slim Trouser Jeans, 7 for All Mankind – $198
Military Jacket, Willow & Clay – $60
Wound Up Ring, lia sophia – $40
Cutting Edge Earrings in Hematite, lia sophia – $28

When I originally went hunting for a jacket to go with this look I was thinking of blazer, probably of the boyfriend style. Then I came across this Willow & Clay jacket and what can I say? I’m a sucker for military styling.

Why did I choose these items to go with the tank? A little sparkle goes a long way. The structure of trouser jean and jacket not only balance the brightness of the sequins, but they also give them more of a modern edge. Because of the detailing on the jacket I refrained from adding a necklace, but instead kept to the textured hematite earrings and silver ring. Both pieces have character and that modern edge but don’t compete for the spotlight.

PS Mixing metals is in (they’re all neutrals), but if you’re not quite up for it yet, check out the Matte Gold Textured Earrings and Sophia Ring as a golden alternative.

Now for something a bit dressier…

ombre sequin cardigan paired with jersey dress, necklace and ring

Dixon Ombre Sequin Cardigan, Velvet – $196
Sable Scoop Neck Dress, Velvet – $128
Beyond Reversible Necklace, lia sophia – $35
Cluster Ring, lia sophia – $125

I actually stumbled across this cardigan while looking for a jacket for the tank and had to include it. I love that it was paired with a simple black jersey dress. It really makes the cardigan pop.

Continuing with the a little sparkle goes a long way theme, both the necklace and ring are simple but interesting pieces that add to the look without creating competition for the eyes. Another option would be to drop the necklace for ear candy like the Ink Spot or Studded Pyramid Linear Earrings

Next up – Velvet.

la belle rose Expands with la belle rose II

Have you read about the first la belle rose collection yet? If not, check it out here before continuing.

Back in October, lia sophia released the ever so lovely la belle rose Red Carpet Collection. Well, just a few weeks ago that collection expanded with the debut of  la belle rose II at Lounge Tzigan at Villa Pacri, NYC. Here’s the official description:

la belle rose II encompasses not only beauty and femininity, but also strength and power through daring designs that meld traditional deco, industrial and old Hollywood glamour together with a rock and roll twist.

The result is a unique collection of breathtaking baubles that are both exotic and elegant. Share your confidence and showcase your style in la belle rose II.

As you can see below, much of the collection is truly an extension of the first collection. Here’s an overview.


3 pieces – $125-350

My favorite piece in this collection is also the newest style to be introduced in the collection – Sequence. The bracelet comes in both a matte silver with jet crystals (above) and a matte copper with matte silver and clear crystals, while the earrings only come in the matte copper scheme.

Sequence Earrings - $125


2 pieces: $375 each

The Bullet portion of the collection saw two more bracelets enter it’s midst only with a twist. While the first selections featured a combination of matte metallics, these new bracelets feature a matte base accented with enamel finish and crystals. Combos include matte gold with jet enamel or matte silver with ivory enamel both accented with black diamond crystals.

Bullet Bracelet - $375


5 pieces: $125-$650

With a new button ring in matte copper with matte silver and clear crystal accents as the edition of one ring, two bracelets and a necklace in a whole new color scheme of matte silver with jet crystals, this portion of the collection saw the greatest growth.

Runway Bracelet - $275


2 pieces: $125-$200

These two went all matte silver with jet crystal accents which are a little bolder than their matte gold and black crystal friends in the la belle rose collection.

Cluster Ring - $125

Wrapped II

3 pieces: $150-$375

Wrapped II saw the addition of a matte copper finish for it’s earrings and bracelet along with an addition to the hematite finish in the form of a ring.

Wrapped II Bracelet - $375


3 pieces: $175-$700

Here too matte copper came to play with matte copper and clear crystal versions of the ring, earrings and bracelet.

Estate Bracelet - $700


1 piece: $300

Last but not least, this portion of the collection saw the addition of a bracelet featuring black onyx resin in the mix.

Marble Cuff with Black Onyx Resin - $300

That’s a wrap on the latest from lia sophia’s Red Carpet Collections. You can check out la belle rose II on it’s own or see the whole collection together.

Visit here for pictures from the event.

Haute Living also has coverage of Villa Pacri event.

Quest Mag has a brief mention of it as well.

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