One of the best things about moving to a new city is that you get to be a tourist...for like the next two years. When I (Haley) visit a city over a long weekend or even a week's vacation, I feel like I need to cram as much STUFF into the trip as possible, because who knows when I'll be back? But living in LA means that I have all the time in the world to explore, and I'm loving doing it at my own pace.
Los Angeles itself is HUGE and has so many cool attractions and beaches and parks that I'll never be able to visit them all. But it also has a lot of suburbs and outlying areas (Pasadena, Newport, Catalina, etc.), so the bucket list is basically infinite. Thankfully, my church organized a trip for the youth to the Reagan Presidential Library (about an hour away in Simi Valley) a couple of weekends ago, and I got to tag along as a chaperone, crossing one awesome item off my list. We only had a couple of hours to walk around but there was so much to see that I'll definitely be back (and I'll take more pictures next time!). I'll also bring Jared because he's a mega history nerd and I know his mouth would have hung open the entire time.
The first part of the museum was all about Reagan's early life and acting career, prior to his involvement in politics. I think one of the coolest things was Clark Gable's WWII military discharge order, signed by then Captain of the First Motion Picture Unit, Ronald Reagan.
Fun Fact: Every US president gets to redecorate the Oval Office any way they want during their presidency. The Reagan Library had a recreation of how the Oval Office looked during Reagan's terms in office. Don't think I would have gone with the peachy curtains, but then, this was the 80s.
(Also, side note that I'm kicking myself for not taking pictures of Nancy Reagan's outfits that they had on display. That lady had class and I was swooning over the vintage vibes.)
Without a doubt, the coolest thing in the library was the actual Air Force One used during the Reagan administration. You can walk through it and they've kept it era accurate, but you can't take pictures inside so these exterior shots will have to suffice. Let's just say there were jelly beans everywhere and the computer room had floppy disks aplenty. (I'm not sure the teenagers I was with had any idea what they were. Some of them hadn't even heard of Reagan...)
The Marine One helicopters that flew President Reagan are still in service, but this one flew LBJ. Still pretty cool, right?
Looking at all of the switches and buttons and gauges in the helicopter and cockpit of the plane made me feel pretty good about my decision not to become a pilot.
While he was running for governor of California, Reagan started eating jelly beans to help distract him from smoking. It worked, and the Jelly Belly company continued to ship him jelly beans throughout his terms as Governor and President. Check out this awesome mural of Reagan, composed entirely of Jelly Bellies. I can only hope to be so important that one day my face is made into an edible mural.
The grounds of the library are gorgeous, with well manicured lawns and gardens and views of the mountains and valleys below. The next time I come I think I'll pack a picnic and plan to spend several hours just soaking it all in.
A piece of the Berlin Wall, displayed on the grounds at the Reagan Presidential Library.
Ronald Reagan's grave:
So Jared and I (Haley) have been married for not-quite-two-years, which means we're still pretty new to this whole "being a family" and "acting like grownups" thing. Last holiday season I had the fleeting thought that we should send out a Christmas card/newsletter to our loved ones, since that's a thing that put-together adults do, but the thought passed and pretty soon it was mid-January and that ship had sailed.
So, I know that everyone's minds are on Halloween and not Christmas right now, but you guys, I was proactive this year and actually made AND ordered Christmas cards BEFORE Christmas.
There are a ton of options for cute Christmas cards that you can your plop your family photos into. At Shutterfly, for example, their cheapest personalized Christmas cards are $1.09 each if you want between 75 - 100.
But, as we've already established, I'm frugal to my core. I wanted cute, simple photo Christmas cards, but I didn't want to pay $90 for them. So I designed a quick and simple one myself, and am really happy with how it turned out!
We had our pictures taken by the lovely and talented Sarah at Sarah Lynn Hill Photography before we left Boston in March, so I just chose a favorite photo and created a little title tag in InDesign. Now, instead of paying $1 each for pre-designed Christmas cards, all I had to do was pay to get some basic 4 x 6 inch prints, which are only $0.15 each on Shutterfly. And then on top of THAT, I found two coupon codes for 50 free prints, and 30 free prints, so I got 80 Christmas cards for only the cost of shipping, which came to $6.19, or less than $0.08 each. Savings swoon.
If you're interested in doing something similar, I've outlined my process below (shown in Paint for those who don't have InDesign). If you like the way my tag turned out and want to use it on your own cards, be my guest (and skip to the end of the post to download!).
1. Find a background
I googled "free chalkboard background" to find a fun and free-for-personal-use background for my tag / ribbon. Then I imported it into Paint and resized it to approximately the size and shape I wanted my final ribbon to be.
2. Make a shape
You can get really creative here by adding borders, playing with different shapes, etc. but I kept my ribbon really simple because a) my design skills aren't that great and b) I didn't want to detract too much from the photo. To create the ribbon shape, I simply made a white triangle and resized and rotated it until the ribbon looked the way I wanted it to.
4. add your ribbon to your photo(s)
Select around your shape and copy it using Ctrl + C. Make sure that the "Transparent Selection" option is selected so that the white background doesn't come with it.
Then open up your photo in another Paint window, and hit Paste or Ctrl + V to paste your shape onto your photo. Arrange it however your like, crop the whole thing to your desired size, and save it as its own JPEG.
Et voilà! You have a super simple, 5-minutes-to-make Christmas card. Well, not quite yet. There's still that whole business of getting them printed out (which you can do in either a glossy or matte finish). But that's the easy part. Actually, it's ALL the easy part.
And, as promised, if you'd rather just use my ribbon, here you go (click to download):
Let me know if you have any questions as your embark on your own DIY Christmas card journey--I'd love to see how yours turn out!
Back home, the capital of the state where I (Monica) lived has consistently found itself near the top of any list ranking places to find a job for new and expanding markets. This was great for new businesses and job searches, but when I started an internship in this city rush hour would turn my usual 40 minute commute into a 2 hour drive to get home. (I laugh at past Monica who thought this was terrible, little did I know).
To compensate for this long drive I figured out that my internship was (sort-of) walking distance from a metro station. Most days rather than drive I would hop a train, then take a transfer via light-rail and walk a mile and a half to my internship.
This cut my travel time down considerably; though it did still give me a lot of time to ponder life's mysteries, avoid (or fail to avoid) uncomfortable train conversations (like a stranger letting his children climb all over me while I was trying to politely ignore them and talk to an old friend--why stranger?!) and more often than not, try out new podcasts.
There are so many podcasts I love to listen to and now that I have a job (YAY!) I frequently get the chance to enjoy them all. Rather than overwhelm you with an insane list, lets go by genre--
Welcome to Nightvale: with over 80 episodes, most for free or pay what you can and an average of 25 minutes each--you are set for the next 33+ hours of your life! You're welcome. This podcast is twice monthly and is from the point of view of a radio host who gives updates about a small desert town named Nightvale where things aren't quite right but for the most part he doesn't realize it. The writers do a great job of drawing you into this world and anytime they reference something from an older episode they do a great job at explaining what it is so that no one is left in the dust.
Limetown: Did you like the podcast Serial? Do you like This American Life? Does Ira Glass frequently entertain your earbuds? Are you creeped out by this introduction? Good, me too. Limetown is a podcast which tells the story of a town whose members mysteriously disappeared, told in the same format as This American Life or Serial. There are only 2 episodes so far and they go by way too fast. Go listen and then email me so we can talk about it. I have so many theories about where this story could lead I want to hear more!
Do you have any favorite podcasts you think I should listen to? Tell us about it in the comments!
Thrifted "Thursday" is coming at you a day early this week because I (Haley) want to get the word out about The Huntington Collection's next sale before it happens tomorrow, in case any of you feel like braving LA traffic to go. When we first moved to Pasadena and I was scouring Craigslist ads for cute but affordable furniture and weighing the convenience of IKEA against the prices of thrift stores, a friend from church told me that she had gotten her bookshelf from the Huntington Collection Annex, and that I should check it out. Lifesaver, this girl.
The Huntington Collection is a building across from the Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena. They accept donated and consigned furniture, clothing, and home goods and their proceeds go to the Huntington Hospital's Senior Care Network. The higher end items are put in the Collection's boutique storefront and sold at a discounted but still fairly high price, and everything else is sold in their "Annex." The Annex is essentially a small warehouse filled mainly with furniture and other decor items--everything from sofas and bookcases to patio sets, fancy rugs, and light fixtures.
On the last Thursday of every month, the Collection holds a sale. Certain boutique items are usually on sale (tomorrow it's clothing), but ALL of the donated furniture in the Annex is 50% off, and there are some sweet deals to be found. I went today to check out the goods because there will be people lining up tomorrow before the store opens, and it's best to already have picked out what you want so you can make a beeline for it and snag it before someone else does. Here are some photos from my visit to the Huntington Collection Annex today:
One of my favorite parts about the Annex (and really any used furniture store) is picturing what type of person donated each piece. I'm thinking the lady (or possibly gentleman?) who owned this purple velvet number was at least 65, owned a yappy little lap dog, and wears rhinestone sunglasses.
This is the price tag for the purple chair. All of the furniture in the Annex is marked with either a "D" for donation or "C" for consignment. Only the donated furniture is half off on sale days. As you can see, even with half off, this particular chair would be almost $250. But, considering the quality, that still is a great deal. And, if purple velvet isn't your thing, there are lots of other items at lower prices.
The main floor is taken up with furniture, but the sides house rugs, artwork, light fixtures, small electronics, dishware, and books. While browsing around the electronics section I came across this sign--whoohoo! All of the smaller items are pretty reasonably priced anyway ($5 throw pillows, $20 blenders), but an extra half off definitely couldn't hurt. I was eyeing a blender and stand mixer that I think I might sneak back for tomorrow.
I was super in love with a set of these cubbies / bookshelves. They have a very midcentury vibe and match one of the bookshelves I already have. Too bad I have zero room left in my house for big furniture and all of my books already have a home!
One of the largest rugs I have ever seen in my life. It's folded in half in the photo, and could easily cover 2-3 rooms in my house. I think it was also like $8,000...so there's that.
Girly chandelier, anyone? This would be awesome in a girl's bedroom or dramatic dining room.
After all that, though, the only thing I came home with was this hardback Harry Potter book for $1 (I only had it in paperback, alright?).
Though I'm seriously considering going back for this blender and a couple of pillows tomorrow:
For the record, here are the two pieces of furniture I bought on my original trip to the Huntington Collection Annex:
I went with a list of things we still needed for the house: a bookshelf, a desk, a rug, and an entryway table or dresser. I managed to grab this black bureau for the entryway for $95 (I have grand schemes to replace the knobs and paint it blue one day, but we'll see...). It's incredibly well made and very heavy duty--Jared and our FIREMAN neighbor had to stop every few feet to rest while carrying it up to our apartment--and it makes a great catch-all for those random things around the house that don't go anywhere else. The mirror was a $5 garage sale find, by the way. Ahhh LA, land of yearlong yard sales.
This combination bookshelf/dresser was $65 and the perfect storage solution for us. We needed another bookshelf, but we also needed more drawers to house various craft supplies, DVDs, etc. This piece is really a 3-drawer short dresser with a bookshelf hutch that rests on top. Two in one! And I love that the shelf compartments aren't divided exactly in half--it adds a fun feel to the piece and the room as a whole.
So, I managed to find 2 of the pieces I was looking for at the Huntington Annex, and for just $160 plus tax. It's a bit more expensive than some thrift stores, but less expensive by far than buying them new (even at IKEA), and the price is balanced by the quality and the convenience of having such a wide furniture selection in one place, without having to browse Craigslist for weeks on end. And they will deliver within 10 miles for a $50 fee, I think.
The address, if you decide that you want to check out the next sale, is:
766 South Fair Oaks Avenue (corner of Fillmore)
Pasadena, CA. 91105
Hours of operation are:
10am to 4pm Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday
Noon to 6pm on Thursday
You guys! I, (Monica), found the most wonderful connection to beautiful vintage and thrifted clothing items ever!
Want to know my secret?
It's a costume shop.
I've been doing some seasonal work there, helping out with costume alterations as they get ready for the busy Halloween season. This place has been operating for over 25 years in the Santa Monica area doing both ready made costumes and rentals. **Not a sponsored post**
Often clothing will wear out, or items simply won't be rented very often and the cost of holding on to an item/mending an item is more than the benefits of having it on hand. My boss, who is very kind, let me and the other seamstresses go through the store's pile of clothes destined for Goodwill; it was great!
Enough about me, let's get to this Dress Refashion:
I wanted so badly to be able to mend this dress because look at! LOOK AT IT! It is so cute.
Sadly there were some portions of the dress that seemed beyond repair due to the nature of the fabric and locations of many tears.
Here are some steps I took to refashion this dress into a skirt. My hope is that this post can serve as a guide in case anyone else would like to do the same thing!
Take out zipper (not pictured but you can see where it was.
Draw determined skirt length (notice the white chalk line?). This is ultimately where I wanted the top of the skirt to start. I cut 5/8" above that to give myself wiggle room for seam allowances.
Install a new zipper.
I picked a red zipper because it's a cute contrast and when properly sewn in the lapped zipper effectively hides all but the tiniest of peeks.
Next I had to figure out how to get the top of the skirt to fit my waist. I had my usual 3 options: darts, pleats and gathers. Since there were these beautiful kick pleats at the bottom of the skirt I wanted the top of the skirt to be more smooth, so that left darts. I tried something a little radical. Instead of doing darts just to the side of center front and center back as you often see in form-fitting pencil and A-line skirts, I took in the side seams as if they were darts.
Fitting the waist at the side seams worked out great. One thing to note for your own projects: Since I took in the side seams at a curved line to account for my hips, the lines on the on the fabric which were once parallel to each other--when they met at the side seam, now meet at an angle. If you care that the lines will be even with one another you will want to find another fitting option.
Finish the top of the skirt:
I had a few options to finish the top edge of my skirt.
A waistband which is a piece of fabric cut in a rectangle sewn to the top of the skirt and often sits at the waist
A yoke which is more curved piece of fabric sewn to the top of the skirt and sits at the hips
A facing which essentially mirrors the shape of the fabric opening, sewn right sides together then flipped so it lies inside the garment effectively enclosing the raw edges at the top of the garment.
I really wanted to go with the facing option because I wanted to bring the attention to these awesome pleats at the bottom of my skirt rather than the top of my skirt. Making a facing pattern is one of my favorite pattern-making techniques because it's so simple and quick to make.
Here is my skirt with the facing folded out:
A few tips to make your facing look as professional as possible: understitch, clip/notch, use proper pressing techniques.
Ta Da! Here is the finished product!
Do you have any questions on how I did anything?
Do you have a skirt you've refashioned from a dress? Share with us! contact [at] jupedujour [dot] com for a chance to be featured on our blog or Instagram!
Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Halloween. Like, think about my costume all year round, watch The Nightmare Before Christmas on repeat, try to celebrate for the whole month of October kind of love. And, since I figure it's about time that you got to know me, too, I'll let you in on my obsession in the most intimate way possible--by showing you my lady beard.
Now I know what you're thinking: Haley, why on earth would I ever want to have a beard?
And I don't know, maybe you wouldn't. But maybe, just maybe, you're sick of the sexy Halloween costumes and you want to be Paul Bunyan or a freak show bearded lady or Ulysses S. Grant for Halloween. Or you're headed to ComicCon as Gimli from Lord of the Rings and want to be as authentic as possible. Or you've always wanted to know what having a beard feels like. Or you want to protect your face from the cold weather. Or you're hiding from the mafia. Whatever, the reason is up to you.
For me, it started with a stroke of genius. I was sitting in bed one night trying to come up with the Halloween costume to end all Halloween costumes and knew I wanted to incorporate some fun wordplay. After scratching some mediocre ideas out, it hit me: I was going to be Lumber Jackson Pollock and Jared would be Salvador Dali Lama. It was perfect--clever and slightly pretentious but mostly just super fun. (In retrospect, this was totally backward, since Jared had a beard at the time and Salvador Dali doesn't, but whatever, it's much better this way.) So I bought a flannel shirt and man jeans at the thrift store and some fabric paint and went to town:
I already had an ear flap hat, boots, and suspenders, so that just left the beard. I could have bought a costume one or made my own from some craft faux fur, but I figured it was 1) cheaper and 2) faster to just use my own hair, which at the time hit about halfway down my bicep. I didn't take pictures of the process at the time, but, lucky for you, I recreated them today for you. I currently have a long bob, which made the beard a bit trickier to keep in place, but it can be done, like so:
Step 1: Make Your Mustache
To do this, you'll want to grab hair from behind your ear. If you use the hair at the front of your head, it'll come down the side of your face at too steep an angle. Men's mustaches and the tops of their beards generally run roughly parallel to their mouths, leaving the tops of their cheeks exposed. So grab a strand from toward the back of your head and pull it forward. It needs to come past the middle of your nose when you pull it tight across your face, and should be roughly the thickness that you want your final mustache to be.
Do the same on the on the other side of your head, and then join them using a miniature rubber band (clear or in your hair color).
Now, pull on the ends to tighten everything up (the way you would tighten a ponytail) and then part your mustache by pinning the excess hair to either side. When I had long hair, the excess reached all the way back to the side of my head, so it was easy to pin it behind my ear. This time around, however, I had to stick bobby pins right in the middle of my face. But don't worry, we'll remove them later.
Step 2: Build Your Beard
The next step begins similarly to the first, but this time you'll want to grab the strands of hair from the front of your head and tie them together just under your mouth. This is the frame of your beard. You can play around with how thick the strands are--I just don't have enough hair to make them much thicker than this to start!
From there, use bobby pins to add additional strands of hair to start filling in your beard. (PS I DIED laughing when I saw how this photo turned out. Like, forget Lumber Jackson Pollock, I could have been Jesus for Halloween if it weren't so blasphemous. That light over my head is just too perfect...)
Repeat the previous steps as many times as you need to to fill in your beard to your satisfaction. I gathered all the ends and banded them one last time. At this point I also had a bit of hair at the back that wasn't long enough to be added to the beard, so I threw it in a ponytail behind my head for now.
Then, just like you did with the mustache, divide the chin-ponytail (eww) in half and use bobby pins to secure to the rest of the hair. If you don't want your beard to be this full, I suggest not using the hair from the front of your head and, as with the mustache, using hair from a little further back. You can tuck whatever you don't use into a hat or ponytail at the back of your head.
Step 3: Facial Hair Finishing Touches
To finish off your beard, I highly recommend a hat of some kind. It hides the fact that your "beard" hair is connected to your normal hair, and you can tuck any excess into it.
To remove the obvious bobby pins from the mustache, I grabbed some of my husband's pomade and used it to "stick" the mustache hair to itself. This time around I had a lot of visible bobby pins in my beard as well, some of which could probably be eliminated by using more pomade or gel (but I didn't want to put my hair through that today).
I also recommend a couple of coats of strong hair spray, which will help keep everything in place and smooth flyaways.
Lastly, this whole process works slightly better with unwashed hair. Not greasy hair, but not freshly washed hair either, which tends to produce more flyaways, which will tickle you like crazy.
Again, some of these visible bobby pins could probably be eliminated with the use of pomade, or if I had been more careful with their placement they wouldn't show as much. But, as part of a costume, and from a few feet away, no one's going to notice a few bobby pins!
For the record, this is how my beard turned out when I had long hair. Once the frame of the beard was in place, it was much easier to divide the chin ponytail and pin it back toward my ears. Then, I took long strands and stretched them all the way across my chin so that there was no part down the middle. The ear flaps on that hat were also great for hiding pins.
A word to the wise: Beards are WARM. Plan on being a few degrees hotter than you're used to all night while your beard is in place. Also, you won't be able to open your mouth all the way (or rather, you can, but hair will get in it). This makes eating and drinking at parties a bit of a pain, so forks and straws are your best friends.
And, since I know you're dying to know how our clever costumes turned out (okay really I'm just dying to show you):
We actually went to the Halloween party at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and I got to take a picture with a Jackson Pollock painting...dressed as Lumber Jackson Pollock. Pretty sweet, right? You could almost see the wheels turning in the heads of the museum staff as I stood there.
I also love how Jared's costume turned out. So simple, but so funny.
So there you have it! The how to make your own beard tutorial that you probably never even thought to want! Feel free to use my Halloween costume idea, but please make sure to tell everyone how cool I am if you do, and if you end up creating your own lady beard using this tutorial make sure to send us a picture of the final product at contact at jupedujour dot com!
I (Haley) love everything about fall. I love the changing leaves, the crisp air (still waiting on that), pumpkin cookies, and the holidays (Halloween anyone??). But more than almost anything else, I love the clothes. All summer I've been wearing gym shorts and the thinnest tees I can get away with because it is SO FREAKING HOT here. If you met me in the last three months you'd probably think I didn't have much of a sense of style, but the truth is that it just doesn't come out until fall, when I can layer to my heart's content. If you're more of a summer kind of gal and are wondering what to do with your sundresses, tanks, and shorts during the fall and winter, or just need some inspiration for layering, you're in the right place. Everything shown was taken from my personal closet (some of which is for sale!) and you've probably got similar pieces you can mix and match with using these tips:
1. Add Some Denim
Denim and fall go together like peanut butter and jelly. If you have a tank or summer dress you want to keep wearing throughout the fall, throw it on with a denim jacket or chambray overshirt and you're in business! Also note the addition of a vintage fedora and and ankle booties--hats and boots just scream fall.
2. Add a Blazer
I have several blazers and tend to only wear them for business and more formal occasions, but blazers can be an excellent way to make your summer pieces into great fall outfits. Throw one over a sundress, as shown here, or over a tank paired with a skirt or jeans. They're a great alternative to sweaters, since they can be dressed up and easily removed if things warm up.
3. Add a Scarf and/or Plaid
A scarf, even just a light one, instantly makes your outfit a bit cozier and amps up the fall factor. They're a great way to layer because they add a lot of warmth but are also easy to remove once you're indoors. And, more than any other print, plaid goes hand in hand with fall. Add it in a shirt, scarf, socks, coat, or even pants!
4. Add Tights and Boots to Shorts and Short Skirts
Normally shorts are the first thing you pack away once colder weather hits, but you don't necessarily have to! Shorts, especially high waisted ones, can be a great fall staple if you wear them with tights and a heeled boot. Throw on with a comfortable cardigan and necklace to help balance things out, and you've got an ultra put together, slightly edgy look for autumn. This method also works great with mini skirts!
5. Swap Out Your Hat and Shoes
You don't always need to add something to create a new outfit--sometimes you just need to switch out existing pieces for more weather appropriate ones, like trading your floppy sunhat or baseball cap from summer for a beanie, fedora, or beret for fall. Or swapping your flip flops or sandals for boots, flats, or tennis shoes. Start with your central piece and then dig around your closet for hats, shoes, socks, belts, sweaters, purses, etc. that coordinate--I bet you'll be surprised by how many outfit options you have!
Which one is your favorite look? Do you have any favorite fall fashion trends or tricks? Let me know in the comments!
Did you know that California does not like plastic grocery bags? The hatred is so strong here that there is legislation in the works to ban (tax) grocers statewide from handing out single-use grocery bags to customers. Just like the trend-setting city that Los Angeles is, this town has already banned freely handing out single use plastic bags and replaced it with an ordinance charging 70 cents for a plastic bag or 10 cents for a paper bag.
As someone who loves the environment this is great. As an LA newbie who did not know about this legislation when she first met LA and went to buy groceries after moving here, it was less great. (Mostly the shame of feeling ignorant and the necessity of spending more than I planned, etc).
SO, if you're cheap like me and love to find ways to recycle items from around your home that you would normally have thrown away or donated, then you are in the right place. Today I will show you how to make a reusable grocery bag
First, start with an old t shirt.
Next cut your shirt.
I began with the sleeves. I cut them right along the seam line of the armscye (armhole) leaving the stitching that connected the sleeve to the shirt on the sleeve piece. I cut specifically here so that the cut arm holes would look even on both sides and the stitching would be on the cut sleeve leaving the armscye free to be slung over my own arm. *note: leave the shoulder seams where they are!*
Then I cut the neckline. If you look close you can see that there are two parts to my neckline scraps. There is no exact science here, I would just hold the shirt neckline in a circular-like opening and then imagined stuffing my groceries in it. Afterward I decided that I would need more space and made the opening more oblong/oval-like.
Finally, I cut the bottom about 2 inches since I knew this bag would stretch with use and I didn't want to begin with it being too big.
Now it's time for the fun part! SEWING! The only stitching you need to do is along the bottom edge of the shirt. This becomes the bottom of your shopping bag.
Knits react differently to being stretched than woven fabric does so it is important when you stitch your shirt/bag closed with right sides together that you use a zig-zag stitch so that your stitches don't pop when you're carrying your groceries home from the store. I would even test it out on a scrap from your shirt to see if it will hold up before sewing on the real thing. Just to be safe zig-zag stitch twice over the bottom of your bag to make sure everything stays secure. (Or serge if you have access to one of those lovely machines.)
One more thing you can do to ensure the bottom of your bag doesn't go anywhere is to use a double needle on the outside of your bag after you've zig-zagged or overlocked it shut. If you look closely you can see that's what I have done here.
Since Jersey knit material doesn't fray I decided to leave the arm and neck holes free without finishing the edges. If you have access to a serger/overlock by all means, serge around the edges of your bag.
The final trick is the hardest; to remember to take the bag with me when I go to the store :)
Jared is a California kid at heart. He was raised in the Pacific Northwest, like me, but was born in Glendale and lived there until 2nd grade. His dad was born in LA, his dad's parents were both born in LA, and his great-grandfather is buried 15 minutes away from where we live now. After his family moved to Seattle, they would come back to California to visit every summer, often staying at his grandparents' mountain cabin in Big Bear.
For as long as I've known Jared (and that will be 5 years in a couple of weeks), his nostalgia for Big Bear has colored his memories of childhood. We'd be walking around Provo on a summer night and he'd stop in his tracks and say "Do you smell that? It smells like Big Bear." I've heard countless stories about his and his siblings' adventures climbing all over the boulders on the mountainside and walking to the corner market with their cousins. The first time we roadtripped to Southern California together, in February 2011, he couldn't stop smiling. He just kept saying "California, man, there's something about it."
Now that we live in LA we're only an hour and half's drive from Big Bear, so this last weekend we loaded up our tent, laced up our hiking shoes, and headed out to introduce me to the little town that Jared so loyally loves.
Jared's grandpa sold the cabin a few years ago, but we went to see it. We knocked on the door but no one was home, so we trespassed a little so Jared could show me the "backyard" (read: boulder-filled wilderness) where he spent so many happy hours.
The Swan family genealogy as of 1990, etched into the front walkway.
The boulder that Jared and his siblings used to refer to as "Jaws Rock."
Big Bear has everything you'd expect from a small lake/mountain town. It reminded me a lot of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and in some ways Ashland, Oregon. I also discovered that mountain towns are similar in a lot of ways to beach towns. They attract people who like life a little slower, air a little fresher, and shops a little kitschier. This is the Alpine slide at a cute little family fun center called Magic Mountain. It had this, a waterslide, go-karts, an arcade, and mini golf (at which Jared beat me soundly). As a kid this would have been my favorite place. As an adult it was pretty dang fun too.
There's a part of Big Bear Lake that's just called "The Village" and has every cute little shop imaginable (a large percentage of which sell bear-related items). The arcade is closed down now, but Jared has fond memories of playing Skee Ball there as a kid. The candy shop on the right had me FREAKING out in a good way. We were walking around the Village and I saw bubbles floating all through the air and naturally had to follow them back to their source. It turns out that this candy shop has a bubble machine hooked up to its side (see that black pipe?). It looks like an exhaust pipe, though, so I like imagining that the natural output/waste from candy production is bubbles. Something so Willy Wonka about that.
We camped at the Hanna Flat campground on Saturday night, which is about a 15 minute drive from the "happening" side of the lake. It was a gorgeous, well-maintained site, and each plot was huge. No campfires allowed, because this is a Southern California drought-ridden summer, but for $26 a night it was a beautiful, budget-friendly way to stay in Big Bear. Well, not that budget friendly, since we just ended up spending all of the money we would have spent on lodging on food instead :)
Big Bear has a sliiight obsession with wood-carved animal sculptures. Apparently this squirrel has been in the same spot for as long as Jared can remember, and the owners dress it according to the season/holiday. And there must be close to a thousand bear statues. There are, honestly, probably more bear statues than permanent residents. And would you LOOK at that dinosaur sculpture?? At first I thought it was just a T-Rex, but on closer inspection it's a whole pillar of dinosaurs--there's a pterodactyl on its chest, a triceratops on its butt, and a long-neck down at the bottom. It's like the Land Before Time in a lawn ornament. Just needs Duckie!
There are, alas, no pictures of us on the lake, though we did try paddle boarding for the first time (verdict: kayaking is better). But we also went on two awesome hikes. This picture is from the Woodland Nature Trail adjacent to the Big Bear Discover Center. They give you a little pamphlet with numbers that correspond to interesting sights along the path. The coolest things were 1) a packrat's house, 2) this Jeffrey pine that serves as a "kitchen pantry" for woodpeckers, who store their acorns in the gajillion holes they've bored into it, and 3) the fact that Jeffrey pines smell exactly like vanilla up close!
The second hike we did, on Sunday morning, was the Castle Rock hike, which was a bit strenuous (especially since we were gasping for air in the high altitude) but definitely rewarding, thanks to this view:
All in all, a beautiful, restful, much-needed mini-vacation. Big Bear is only a slightly farther drive from us than, say, Malibu, so it didn't require much planning to hop in the car and head up there. The lake is gorgeous, the people are friendly, the hiking is good, and chocolate shops abound. What else do you need, really? What are your favorite spots for a quick weekend away?