Friday, January 29, 2010

Fig Wrap Blouse

Do you ever have those weeks that are crammed with work? The ones that tax your brain and drain your energy? The kind of week where you wake up on Thursday thinking that it's Friday, and then spend the whole rest of the day mourning that it's not?

Well...I had one of those weeks. Which is why come yesterday afternoon, I desperately needed a creative boost.

Fortunately I had just the supplies I needed for a recharge--namely a Vogue pattern and some silky soft fig colored fabric.
To say that I "whipped up" this lovely wrap blouse would be an exaggeration, because in truth it consumed much of my afternoon and early evening.

In other words, I made mistakes. Many of them.
These mistakes admittedly compromised the "relaxation factor" of my enterprise. As did that moment when I knocked over my can of root beer and it spilled like a river into the bottom of my desk drawer. And onto my computer. And all over my chair.
But I managed to recover, both from the sewing mistakes and my sticky root beer problem, and ended up with this beautiful new shirt for my wardrobe.

The fabric, I think, is the best. It drapes elegantly, and feels so soft against my skin. I think it has some silk in it, although I can't remember for sure. Regardless, it certainly makes me feel like a lady when I'm wearing it.
And did you know that purple is the traditional color for royalty? Apparently the dye used to make purple was quite rare and expensive in ancient times, so only the fanciest of women wore it.
I like to think of that when I'm cloaked in purple. Especially when I'm sitting on a still slightly sticky chair and have a whole day of work ahead of me before the weekend.

What are you looking forward to this weekend? I'm having dinner with family tonight, brunch tomorrow with friends, and hopefully some spare time to catch up on Project Runway, Big Love and my latest knitting project... How about you?

Thursday, January 28, 2010


note: all of these lovely images (in pink!) are from online vintage shop owner, Thrush.
Being gracious is certainly one of the attributes that I immediately thought of when I started devising the content for this series on being a lady. The term, of course, refers to kindness, politeness, and esteem.

When I think of graciousness, I immediately picture the women from Jane Austen’s novels--
at least the heroines (because goodness knows there were quite a few malevolent vixens in her novels as well). They were always complimentary, seeking to be of service, ready to be kind.

This behavior, fortunately, is not extinct. In fact, I’d wager that you are all highly gracious, or at least try to be that way most of the time.

But there is one area of graciousness that I think we as ladies often do rather poorly, and that is the art of graciously receiving from others.
I hadn’t thought of this until an acquaintance and friend of mine recently brought it up. Since then, I’ve noticed this fault on numerous occasions.
What do you mean? you ask. Well, I’ll give you a scenario:

girl 1:
Oh, I love your outfit today.

girl 2:
Ugh...thank you...I just threw it on this morning. I feel so fat today that I hardly even care what I look like.

Sound familiar? If not, consider this scenario:

Babe, you look great today. Did you do something different?

What are you trying to say--that I don’t look good normally?

Is that closer to home?
And how about this one:

This project turned out great. You did a wonderful job.

Thanks, but I can’t take the credit. So-and-so did so much of the work....It was really more of a team effort.

Do you see what I mean? We deflect esteem. We dodge favor. We pass off compliments to others. We are often self-deprecating to a fault.

So, if any of those scenarios sounded familiar to you,
I’m assigning some homework, which is to practice this:

Hey--you look nice today.

Thank you. That’s kind of you to say.

THEN...resist the urge to: a) make a snarky comment about the size of your thighs, b) complain about how much your outfit cost, c) avert attention from yourself by talking about how fabulous someone else looks, or d) saying “well...I’m no Heidi Klum, but...”

Instead take a deep breath, and graciously receive the esteem, because that is what a lady would do.

Glossary of beautiful vintage clothing/jewelry by
vintage 1970s goldtone necklace
pale pink box blouse
pale pink mini dress
vintage 1950s pink shimmer holiday party dress
bowtie secretary blouse
vintage 1960s holiday ruffle dress

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


warning: this post contains gratuitous images of pink frosting. Viewing these images may cause you to impulsively crave cake. We at Deviantly Domesticated take no responsibility for actions caused by this post and cannot be held liable.
Today's post, my friends, has very little to do with being a lady. Oh yes, I suppose that I could conjure up some profound kind of connection, like the feminine value of serving pretty desserts, or my fondness for all things pink. But really...I don't have the energy.
Although truth be told, I probably should have the energy since this lovely cake you are viewing was, in fact, my breakfast.

Not the whole cake, mind you. If it was the whole cake I would not be writing but would instead be spending some quality time in the restroom. Fortunately I have better restraint than that.

I felt compelled to bake this little sugary treasure for a variety of reasons. First, it was one of my best friend's birthdays yesterday and I thought it an appropriate way to celebrate.

And, yes, I know that she lives in Los Angeles and I live in Colorado.
I hardly see what that has to do with anything...

I've also developed a seasonal hankering for frosted treats, particularly adorned in shades of pink. I blame it on Valentine's Day and all of my magazines that feel it necessary to publish lush photos of such desserts every year around this time.
Obviously by now you've noticed that I decorated the top with polka dots of teensy round sprinkles. It just makes eating it all that much more enjoyable. Nevermind that the sides are lopsided and that it definitely resembles the Mad Hater leaning ever so slightly to the left on top of its cake stand.
In fact, the whole cake reminds me of some trippy psychedelic dish you might find in Wonderland. To be honest, I've never been all that fond of Alice in Wonderland. Too creepy and dark.
I am, however, quite fond of this cake, which tastes neither creepy nor dark in spite of its rabbit-hole resemblances.

To close, if you haven't already left this post to bake yourself a giant pink polka dot cake, then permit to say this one last thing, which is that you should come back tomorrow where I will indulge in more pink, except in a far more responsible manner.

Happy Craving!--steph

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Little Luxuries

This past weekend, while enjoying a leisurely Saturday, I encountered an old article I had stashed away featuring a select handful of fashion industry leaders. The article, titled "Women in Luxury," was something I had clipped out years ago because I found it inspiring. The women, I felt, possessed a unique blend of business savvy, strength, and femininity.
Upon reading through the article again, I was struck by one particular statement made by Valerie Hermann at Yves Saint Laurent. She said that though she grew up in the midst of a culture of science and medicine (many of her family members are physicians), she was always attracted to an atmosphere of "quality and beauty."

That's it! I thought. That is precisely what I'm attracted to! The latter part, beauty, is of course easy. I've always gravitated toward lovely places and pretty things. As for quality...well that has taken me a bit longer to appreciate.
Quality, I've come to realize, is not as easy to spot. Something can indeed be beautiful but of poor quality (think of cheap cashmere and vapid runway queens). This, I fear, is especially true in our modern world of mass-produced fashionable, convenient and "affordable" goods. "Affordable," of course, meaning "cheap"--both in price and in quality.

Now I'm not suggesting that in order to be a lady we must all start spending oodles of cash on only the finest things.
Because although that would be simply wonderful, most of us can't stomach the expense. But I am saying that beauty and quality should go hand-in-hand as often as possible.
For me, this involves creating more of my own clothing, gifts, food, and home accessories using materials that are special. Like the soft yarn you see below. Or the pencil skirt I sewed last week. Or the farm-fresh milk we drink every morning from cold glass jugs. They are luxuries--little ones--that make up that "atmosphere" Hermann was referring to.
Of course, additionally it also involves combining my outside appearance with my internal character (both are always evolving and...frankly...requiring constant maintenance). I don't just want to be a beautiful person--I want to be a quality person, too. Someone who is generous and kind and patient and persevering. Someone who is not wasteful or crude.

Because good character, I suppose, is one of the best luxuries a lady can have...

What is your favorite little luxury this week?
Mine is definitely the super soft merino and baby alpaca yarn that I purchased last Friday. And also perhaps those chocolates you see above, too. A girl needs her chocolate... How about you? What are you enjoying?

Monday, January 25, 2010


My mom and sister were thumbing through a recent issue of Shape magazine, and came across this lovely fashion spread of vintage-style clothing and accessories. Naturally they thought of me, and thus I inherited the glossy along with these graceful images.
My intention was to compose a post about dressing like a lady...or something along those lines...but my heart is on deeper things this Monday morning. You see, I have been witness to several tragic circumstances unfolding in lives of people I either know or know of recently, and my thoughts are with them this morning. And while it is true that good fashion is an adequate remedy for a mild case of the blues, or to take the edge off of a hard day at work, it is entirely insufficient for easing the pain of a sick child awaiting surgery, or a new mother who has just lost her baby.
And therein lies the harsh reality of living in this world--it is full of pain. Real, in-your-face pain. The kind that never graces the whimsical pages of glossy women's magazines.

But--and here is where I make use of these gorgeous photos--in the midst of pain there is also beauty.
Not the commercialized beauty we normally see on tv and in tabloids. But real, inner beauty.
As women, I feel that we are uniquely commissioned to share this beauty with a world in pain. This sharing cannot and does not negate said pain, just like lipstick and pencil skirts will not make a grieving mother forget her sorrow, but it does bring a strong and noble contrast to it.
This noble contrast is the reason we have art museums and pretty parks We fight wars to preserve beauty. We battle the drudgery of the daily mundane with lovely things. Beauty is a tool--a weapon even--to keep our spirits fresh and alive.
I would have preferred, I think, to have composed a lighter post this morning about cute heels and sharp wool dresses, but the truth is that sometimes these pursuits really do seem a bit shallow.

But true beauty, my friends,
is never shallow when in the face of hardship and heartache. So here is to a Beautiful (if yet also painful) Monday...


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Vote for Your Favorite Feature Wall Design!

One of the first steps of my winter office makeover is to figure out what to do with the feature wall, and I need your help! Please vote your favorite design from the SEVEN options below (or add your own idea) by submitting your comment here!
We're starting with the most conservative here, so option 1 is to add some thin molding to the walls following a traditional pattern of rectangles, with a small headband and chair rail.
I think I've decided that I want salmon to be my signature color (painted over a deep tan), although grayish-blue is also in the running. Here, option 2 spruces up the molding with some splashes of solid color.
And now we get fancy.... This option is a pattern of retro circles stenciled in stripes onto the wall.
Option 4 includes the same circle motif, only this time it is paired with the molding.
Option 5 just substitutes the circles with a bolder herringbone pattern.
Option 6 is what I would call my "chandelier" design, and you can see that it includes a little molding.
Finally, option 7 shows the chandelier pattern with the complete molding design.

So...what do you like best? Help me to decide by posting your comment below! I appreciate all of your thoughts and suggestions, and would love to get painting this next week!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Very Vogue

There is just something very enticing about a pencil skirt, isn't there? No wonder it has endured decades of coming-and-going trends and remained a flattering staple of every woman's wardrobe.

Pencil skirts, plainly, are the essence of femininity. They hug curves. The smooth midsections. They slenderize legs. Basically they're the best kind of optical trick, "drawing the eye downward," as Clinton and Stacy from What Not to Wear would say.
And although I could talk on and on about all of that, instead I want to tell you a quick story about a few other pencil skirts I made about three years ago.

Fairly new to sewing clothing, I purchased a generic pattern, some fabrics, and set to work. The result was...well...not exactly the chic number you're seeing here. Why? There are several reasons:

First, I was not good at sewing. Therefore, the fit was lumpy, the length awkward, and the zipper was exposed. Second, I bought a cheap pattern not knowing that the brand really does make a difference.
Nevertheless--and here is the point of this story--I wore these skirts anyway. I wore them to work, and out to dinner, and on the town. I wore them even though they weren't my greatest garments. I wore them because I was proud that I had made them, and I knew that if I kept practicing I would get better. And I have.
I tell you this because I know that some of you are reading this post and thinking "that's cute, but I could never make something like that." And I want you to know that a) you can, and b) it simply takes some practice and a small dose of confidence. The first few pencil skirts I made were Not this good. But I made them and wore them anyway, because I wasn't afraid of what other people would think (incidentally, most people liked my first, less flattering attempts), and I knew that with some practice I would improve.
In other words, I didn't let my fear of failure stop me from trying. And along the way I learned that I really can sew a great skirt.

So I encourage you to give it a whirl and try a new skill this season! This skirt is from Vogue's pattern line, #V8363, if you want to start there. Or maybe you have something entirely different in mind, like learning how to cook a knockout beef bourguignon, or to run a half-marathon, or to play an instrument. Whatever it is, don't let fear of failure keep you from trying. Because sometimes really good pencil skirts come after a few lumpy ones...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

almost ready part 2

okay, I know I promised photos of a Completed skirt, but it isn't finished yet. Why? Because I thought I would try my hand at a blind hem, which as it turns out takes a wee bit of time...

So--skirt tomorrow! Until then, I'll be hemming and watching Project Runway for inspiration!

almost ready...

It's coming soon... My pencil skirt, that is. I tried to finish it last night, but have learned long ago that sewing while sleepy is Not a good idea.

That...and...I managed to make not one but Two errors while cutting the fabric that have to be remedied before it's finished. looks very chic so far. Photos coming later this morning, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Now that we’re into this series on being a lady, I want to drive home an important point: I like being a lady. I think it’s fun. I enjoy the pretty things--the sparkles, the hairstyles, the dresses. I’ve liked these things since I was a little girl, twirling around the living room in my skirt and plastic costume jewelry.
I do not--and this is important, so pay attention--do it because I feel like I have to. I couldn’t give a damn about what the culture expects from me, or how women are supposed to be, or what is the latest trendy thing. I am a lady because I want to be.
I bring this up because the last thing I want, dear readers, is for you to think that you have to be someone you’re not in order to be a lady. Femininity is above all things about inner confidence. It resonates from your spirit--not your wardrobe or your home or your perfectly manicured nails. Yes, I’d prefer it if all of us forever banished our sweats to the recesses of our drawers, never to be shown in the light of public again...but if sweat pants make your inner beauty shine, than by all means--wear them with zeal.
It is true that in my experience, there is something special about cultivating beauty in our lives, even if it is as simple as applying lip gloss before we head out to run errands. I won’t speak for you, but the small feminine touches in my day help give me life. A mundane afternoon full of boring chores somehow seems less burdensome when I’m wearing pink patent leather peep toe pumps. But the key point is that those patent leather pumps invigorate my spirit. They make me stand just a little bit taller. They make me radiate a little more warmth.
This inner radiance is what I’m after, and what I hope you are after too. To be a lady is to radiate, so find what makes you shine, and then find a way to add it to your life every day.

By the way--aren't these jewelry pieces fabulous? I love amethyst (and yes--the fact that it is my birthstone might have something to do with it...), don't you? Which one is your favorite? I'm having a hard time picking, but I'd have to say the purple ring, because I LOVE rings. What about you?

Glossary of images, all handmade by jewelers on Etsy!
1. princess amethyst ring by jalcyme moonlight jewelry
2. adventurine and amethyst stone necklace by molly the pirate
3. amethyst vintage hearts by lily leigh's vintage to modern jewelry
4. amethyst triple strand necklace by piedra studio
5. gray moonstone, rose quartz and amethyst sterling silver bracelet by mf jewellry designs

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I haven't posted any of my baking undertakings lately, and I figured that perhaps it was time once again for some lovely sweets. Fortunately, my sister was visiting and in the mood for cupcakes, and so I had the perfect excuse to dust off my muffin tins.
Now it has come to my attention that perhaps some of you have developed this impression of me as some type of homemaking diva. The type that makes everything from scratch, and always has a batch of warm cookies baking in the oven when someone comes over for a visit.

And it is true that hospitality is a quality of elegant females. And that I prefer to make things from scratch. And that I do often have frozen cookie dough in my freezer. But...I am not exempt from baking disasters.
With the best of intentions, and fresh ingredients, I managed to deliver some of the worst cupcakes I have ever baked. Everything went wrong. Everything.

The middles sunk into sad hollows. The edges turned crispy brown while the centers stayed gooey.

And they were chewy. Not fluffy. Not moist. Not light and airy.

What went wrong, you ask? Well...we're not entirely sure, but the baking powder is our leading suspect.

So what did I do about my gruesome cupcakes?

I did what every normal person would do. I threw them away, went to Wal-Mart, and bought a cake mix. A cake mix that I will use later today to redeem this sad, sad baking story.
And hope that this time they turn out something like the cupcake above.

What is your worst baking disaster? Make me feel better and share your story here by commenting below!
Blog Widget by LinkWithin