#4: Vintage Samsonite Camera Bag//Project ReStyle

A few weeks ago, I saw a picture of this lovely camera bag online and immediately fell in love.

Made by Jo Totes, this bag (in any color) was just what I needed to carry around my new camera that I got a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I was going to have to save my pennies before I could buy this baby though, and with a price tag of close to $100, it would be a while before I found that many pennies.

Luckily, the next day I ran across a vintage Samsonite travel bag in a thrift store and got a brilliant idea. For less than $5, I got this yellow bag that was the perfect size to hold not only my camera equipment, but also all my cords and my laptop! It was a little roughed up, but I knew that could be fixed. Plus I needed to add some extra padding for my goods, but I had a plan for that as well. After a few hours of sewing and cleaning, she’s good as new and just the thing I needed!

Here’s how I did it, in pictures:

 

Before, not bad, but not quite awesome yet.

I cut up an old laptop case to use as my padded layers.

Using some leftover upholstery fabric I had, I sewed sleeves for the padding. I also added a layer of quilt batting for some extra cushion.

The finished cushions.

The bottom was already reinforced with heavy cardboard...

... but I added a layer of cushion.

I fashioned a coozy of sorts for my extra lens out of one of the cushions.

Because the pads are removable, I can pretty much fit whatever I need in here.

 

 

 

Camera, lens, laptop, planner, cords, even an external hard drive, all snug and secure!

Without the cords and laptop, I could fit my wallet and purse goodies in here instead.

A little mink oil rubdown and the exterior leather looks good as new!

I even found a spare Samsonite luggage key lying around, so now I can lock it!

 

 

Closet Tour & A New Challenge

Hello all! Today I’m taking you all on a little tour of my closet, or more specifically my bedroom, since my clothes kinda spill out into the entire room. This is a little post that I’ve been wanting to get up since the end of the 30 for 30 Challenge back in November (December?) but I’ve been waiting for a sunny day where my closet was clean enough to take some pics. 🙂 I’m not naturally the neatest person, although I do love to organize.

The reason behind me showing you pictures of my bedroom (other than I just love to show off my house and since I moved in over a year ago, I’ve had exactly 5 visitors who weren’t related to me) is to give you an idea of how I put my outfits together. Between my closet, dressers, shoe racks, accessories table, clutch cubby and antique hat rack, there is a place for everything to go and still be easily accessible. By creating little “stations” for my stuff, my choices are all in front of me during each step of the dressing process.

 

My closet-- the part you can see at least. There's a few more feet on either side for stuff to hang, which is nice, but it's a pain to get back there. I usually keep my seasonal stuff in the center.

The shoes.

Big purses and bags live on top.

I have way too many belts. (There's another small bin of the off camera.)

What, you don't have an antique hat rack in your bedroom? Where do you hang your scarves and shoulder bags then?

Most of my clutch collection, plus a bin of bathing suits, and a bowl of random buttons and tissue packs.

My skirts get their own apartment, I meant compartment. They live nicely with my back issues of Jane magazine... oh, Jane. Sigh.

 

 

A great idea for reusing an old window frame! So much easier to keep up with jewelry when you can hang it from a nail!

 

 

I was looking for a cute way to store my tights and this vintage suitcase seemed like a perfect fit! I also threw in my square scarves and some of my more delicate necklaces.

 

So that’s it! I hope you enjoyed getting a little peak into where I spend most of my time. Not because I’m always in bed or dressing myself, it just so happens that the right side of my bed has the strongest wireless internet signal in my entire house, so I do a lot of my work there.

I also wanted to show you how I come up with my outfits because it’s time for another 30 for 30 Remix Challenge! Kendi over at Kendi Everyday announced a week or so ago that the winter edition would be kicking of February 1st. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to participate this time at first, especially since it feels like I just finished the last one, but I learned so much about my personal style from doing the last one that I decided to go ahead and sign up. However, I decided to add an extra twist to this remix, just to make it more “me.” I decided that for this remix, I would only include vintage and/or thrifted clothing in my selection! The only exceptions that I am making are for shoes, because those aren’t items that I generally buy vintage (or thrifted, although I do have one or two pairs). I’ll be sharing my 30 items with you on Monday!

My Home is Far Away

One of my “ambitions” for 2011 was to read at least 24 books, 2 per month. I love to read and used to be all up in those things, but over the past few years I’ve found less useful ways to pass my time (stupid internet). Following my other “buy less, use it more” ambition for the year, I decided to sort through my collection of books to see how many I could find that I had bought but never read. I stopped when I got to 14. (Am I the only one who’s a sucker for those Border’s clearance sales?) Since those would get me through the first half of the year, I figured I was set, so I got to reading.

I finished my first book of 2011 a few weeks ago, My Home is Far Away by Dawn Powell. I can’t exactly remember how I first heard of Dawn Powell, but I remember loving her from the first page. Though relatively obscure, she is considered by many to be one of the greatest American novelists. A few years ago, when I bought these books, almost all of her many novels were out of print. I stumbled upon about 4 different used copies in The Strand bookstore in NYC a few years ago and of course I bought them all. I was surprised to realize that I never read them all though, but pleased that I could start the year with what I knew would be a great book.

My Home is Far Away is based on the story of Powell’s own childhood. It follows the lives of three young sisters growing up in Ohio at around the turn of the twentieth century. Originally published in 1944, in this book Powell introduces us to Marcia, the “middle child.” Being a middle child myself, I could totally associate with this little girl, always missing out because I would never be the first nor ever the baby. Despite being intelligent beyond her years, Marcia leads the reader through the pains of her childhood with the innocence of a child.

It’s very rare to find yourself noticing how well written a novel is. I found myself doing that several times with this one. I feel like to say any more would be giving away the story, so I’m going to stop there. Once again, Dawn Powell did not disappoint. I definitely recommend this book!

I’m about half way through my next book, a book of essays and speeches on writing by Flannery O’Connor. I’m looking forward to sharing that one with you as well, lots to say about it!

Fried Noodles// What I Eat

After the day I had today, I needed a little comfort food for dinner so I decided to stir up some yummy fried noodles! This dish is based on the Fried Udon Noodles recipe in The Kind Diet cookbook. I followed the recipe the first time I made the dish (subbing in gluten-free pad tai noodles for the udon) but since then I’ve tweaked it a little to make it more to my tastes.

Fried Noodles

1/2 pack brown rice fettuccine style noodles

2 tbls olive oil

2 cups thinly sliced cabbage

1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 & 1/2 tbls paprika

1 tsp sea salt (more to taste)

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 cup daikon, cut into  match sticks*

1 piece kombu, broken into tiny pieces*

hemp seeds & fresh parsley for garnish*

*These guys are totally optional. Sometimes I add them if I have them handy, sometimes I don’t.

Step one: Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to directions. When al dente, drain and sit to the side.

 

This is the BEST brand of gluten free pasta!! So good, and not at all mushy!

 

Step two: In a large skillet (I used an electric wok, but just because it was still out on the counter from when I made popcorn the other night… but back to the skillet), heat 1 tbls oil over medium high heat. Add cabbage and cook until tender, about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add some water from the pasta pot if it starts to stick. Meanwhile…

Step three: In another skillet, heat remaining oil. Add onions and sweat a bit (the onions, not you). Add garlic, paprika, salt & pepper and stir to combine. Cook mixture over medium high heat until the onions start to caramalize. When things start to stick, add a little water to the pan. This helps a nice little sauce to start to form around the onions. You want to be sure to let the onions sweat on their own first though, this brings out a sweetness that you don’t want to miss! Keep adding water and cooking until the “sauce” is nice and thick.

At this point, you can add the kombu and daikon, if you wish. The dish is fine without them, but with them it’s just that much better for you.

Once the onions are done (about 5-10 minutes total), combine with the cabbage and the pasta in which ever skillet is bigger. Cook until heated through (1-3 minutes). Salt to taste.

Serve with hemp seeds and parsley, if desired. It’s a simple little noodle dish, but something about the sweetness of the onions and the smoky paprika really hits the spot!

Note: I normally use plain old green cabbage in this dish, but I had a purple head in the fridge so I gave it a try tonight. Purple isn’t bad, but green is better- it gets softer and more noodle like when cooked.

 

One of THOSE Days…

Outfit #1

Ever have one of THOSE days? Well, I have today. I suppose it started at 4am, when I was still lying in bed trying to fall asleep. It continued around 7:30am when my pets started dancing, standing, and prodding to wake me up. By 10am, I was officially in a funk that I just couldn’t shake. Never a quitter though, I went into my morning workout with my head up. 2 miles on the treadmill and an extra long strength training time later, I actually felt a little better. Motivated, I decided (after a nice hot shower) to do a little modeling for my Etsy shop today. I’ve got a few winter items that I could still put up, and a new tripod & camera to break in.

Fast forward 1 hour later and I’m digging through bins and stacks to find this one skirt that mysteriously grown legs and walked off. (Or maybe I already sold it. I guess that could also be possible.) Still not a quitter, I grabbed a few dresses and another skirt and headed downstairs to style them.

The first dress had those funny hanger points on the shoulders, so it was a no go. After trying on the skirt, I decided it was too long on me and looked better the first time it was modeled. Apparently, I lost the other dresses somewhere between my studio and my bedroom, because when I went to try them they weren’t there.

Have I mentioned I’m not a quitter? Feeling my endorphin induced high quickly wearing off, I decided to just dress up in my own clothes and go play with my new camera outside for a change (because it was beautiful today!). I loved my first outfit choice (yes, I said first) until I reviewed the first few shots and then asked myself what was I thinking. That’s the first outfit in the picture up there.

Outfit #2

After changing tops, I felt much better… until I reviewed those. Another outfit fail. It just didn’t feel right, like I was missing something.  (mind you, I’ve worn this combo before, which makes me think I need to always photograph myself before I walk out the front door.)

Outfit three. By this time, i needed to get on with my day so I didn’t take any pics before heading out to run an errand. I stopped in to visit my parents, thinking maybe I just needed some human interaction. After a few minutes though, my stomach was hurting, I felt exhausted, and I could feel a headache coming on. Not from the visit, my body just picked that timing to self-destruct. So I headed home, grabbed my tripod and headed back outside. I was not giving in to this day!

Outfit #3

After a few shots, though, I gave up. I think the breaking point was when I walked down a deer track in the tall grass and immediately was attacked on all sides by thorny sticks. I just wasn’t feeling it. So I put the tripod on the porch and just started playing around with my camera.

Then I noticed my dog, running circles around me at lightening speed. She evidently was having a great day in the sunshine.

At least one of us had a good time.

This morning when I was on the treadmill, there was a moment when I realized I was wearing my glasses. Since I’m practically blind, I usually make sure I have my contacts in before doing anything athletic. Since I didn’t really need to see where I was going (hello, treadmill), I slipped my glasses off and just ran through the blurriness. Thinking back to this, I think this is a great image of how many of my (our) days go. We just move in the direction we know we should be headed, even though the path before is fuzzy and uncertain. Some days you just have to move forward because you know the scenery will never change if you don’t.

I love manual focus.

 

Side note: Now that I’ve uploaded and edited the pictures from today, the first outfit is my favorite. Go figure.