Anthropologie Petites - Ajuda field floral sweater blazer

anthropologie petite floral jacket 1 Anthropologie Ajuda field sweater blazer c/o (~70% off, wearing petite xs), ASOS petites dress (old)
BR bag (old, similar - love this!), Stella & Dot ever after necklace c/o, Louboutin pumps

Earlier last month, Anthropologie sent me the Eva dress (on me, ~1" clipped back) from their latest WHIT Two collaboration. It was my first time trying their petite sizing, and the dress was unfortunately too roomy throughout. For anyone interested in it, it's 100% non-stretch cotton, and the 00 petite measured 17" across the chest and 13" across the waist. I brought it to a store to exchange, and learned that petite sizing is only available online and in their Seattle store location. However, any sales associate can order petite-sized items (including sale items, but excluding "online exclusives") for customers inside the store, and ship it to your home for free.
anthropologie petite floral jacket
Several items in-store were marked with "comes in petite," to help identify what's available in special sizing. I was in the back corner of the sale rack when when a bright floral knit caught my eye. I was initially a little hesitant as it's a bit "granny" (sure enough, most of the glowing online reviews are from ladies 50+), but my concerns were lessened once Nick expressed how much he liked it, granny and all.

Summer Weekends - Fresh fruit picking

asos skirt and crop topASOS Petites chambray dot 2-piece set (no longer available) (similar one-piece)
Gap outlet hat (similar), old H&M cross-body bag

Last Saturday morning, my friend mentioned a strawberry-picking festival with promises of strawberry shortcake, which was enough to get me leaping out of bed. I love picking seasonal fruit at local farms, but the cherry on top is when the farm's market offers corresponding treats (fresh cider donuts, anyone?). If you're interested in finding "pick your own" farms near you, this international guide looks like a pretty good resource (seeking out cherries next!).
asos skirt and crop top1
Our first stop of the day was to fuel up on my favorite breakfast dish in the greater Boston area...

Petite-friendly statement dresses: Clover Canyon (Taj Mahal)

clover canyon taj mahal dress2
Clover Canyon Taj Mahal Dress (XS here, other sizes here), Philippines clutch, eBay heels (similar)

I first came across Clover Canyon via Blair, and was interested to learn that the line is designed and produced in Los Angeles using original prints. I then got to try on a dress during vacation, and fell in love with the bright colors and surprisingly petite-friendly style. After returning home (to lower domestic pricing), I pored over all the print options available and had a tough time deciding what to try in the right size.
clover canyon taj mahal dress3
I was most drawn to the Indian-inspired prints, with their vibrant and whimsical designs. I ordered this Taj Mahal sleeved dress and another sleeveless one (not yet arrived), and plan on keeping my favorite one. I wanted to snap some quick photos to share the sleeved option in detail, as the cut seems to be a Clover Canyon classic and the fit has been fairly consistent for me across different patterns I've tried.

Target x FEED USA collection to benefit Feeding America

target feed
Available June 30th, 2013 – men & women's apparel, home goods, and more

As readers of this blog may know, food is something that I immensely enjoy. And when cooking and trying new foods become a passion of sorts, it’s easy to forget that for many Americans, finding any type of food is still a daily struggle. When I was contacted to share about a collaboration between Target + FEED USA, I was interested and did some research. I was surprised to discover that - even even in this country - hunger is an issue for 1 in 6 Americans.

The Target + FEED USA collection aims to raise awareness and funds to benefit Feeding America, one of the largest hunger-relief charities in the United States. The collection includes apparel, accessories, homegoods, and more, and each item shows the number of donated meals the purchase will provide. I’ve picked some of my favorites here to share, including a heathered red jacket ($25, 20 meals), a burlap tote perfect for the farmers market ($10, 8 meals), and some adorable kitchenware ($14-$20, 10-20 meals each). Each item was designed by Target and FEED, a company whose mission is to fight hunger through sales of purposefully-designed products. Their goal is to provide more than 10 million meals through Feeding America with this collaboration. With each product sale, 10 percent of the original retail price will be donated to the organization.

I’ve long admired Target for their community contributions (they commit to giving 5% of pre-tax profits to charity), which is separate from proceeds generated by initiatives such as this one. You can learn more about Target + FEED USA here, and also about Feeding America here. Disclosure - This is a sponsored post. 

Back to Classics: Mustard, cream + printed silk

mustard skirt hermes scarf1
J.Crew pencil skirt, waist altered (same style in cotton, on sale), vintage Hermes scarf c/o LXR&CO (invite)
LOFT blouse, H&M blazer (also worn here), Prada tote (review), J.Crew pumps (mid-heel version)

Weekday mornings are tough for me - I sleep like a drugged rhino and barely make it out the door in time. In exchange for a few extra minutes of snooze, I've been reaching for the same trusty pairings week after week. An old favorite combo is red with neutrals plus a leopard accent (shown here and here), and joining the ranks is mustard and cream with printed silk. The soft colors here serve as the perfect backdrop for a bright print, and the smooth silk adds luxury to a basic outfit.
mustard skirt hermes scarf2I just finished my semi-annual switcheroo of seasonal pieces between my closet and under-bed storage compartments. This skirt in a heavier weight wool was packed away for fall, and I plan on substituting a pleated A-line one in it's place for repeat pairings this season.

Cantonese faves: Ginger scallion lobster pasta & zong zi recipes

plate of zong zi
Hot plate of fresh zong zi, DIY apron made over a decade ago for Mom

When I was a teen, my mom often lamented that her Cantonese cooking legacy was coming to an end with my generation. I did plenty of eating but regrettably no cooking! Each time we visit home now, I make sure to request my favorites and take plenty of notes. I love experiencing different cultures through food, and would love to be able to cook my childhood favorites for my own kids. Per some of your requests, today I am sharing recipes for two dishes that always hit the spot, and can be easily modified to suit varying tastes.

Zong zi (joong): Pictured above - sticky rice mixed with goodies, wrapped in bamboo leaves. The zong are boiled gently for 3+ hours, resulting in a heavenly melding of flavors inside. The first bite of one hot out of the pot with a touch of soy sauce = blissful. My mom often reminisces about buying these as a kid for breakfast, using saved pennies at street-side vendors. I can't eat these store-bought (usually skimpy on fillings and not cooked long enough) anymore after having ones home made with love. Zong require a lot of prep and wrapping labor, but you can make extra and freeze (after boiling) for weeks of enjoyment or gifting to friends.
ginger scallion lobster 2
Ginger scallion lobster over noodles: Living in New England, summertime means eating so much lobster that I'm afraid I'll turn into one. Fresh ones are yummy simply boiled whole, but my all-time favorite way has to be stir-fried and served over noodles to sop up the sauce. I initially tried this back in Canton, and was a little too excited to discover the noodles underneath. The lobster is first cut into pieces, which allows the flavors to get right to the meat, plus eliminates the need for messy claw cracking at the table.

Sewing with lining: Convertible Fit & Flare Striped "Dress"

DIYflairstripeddress1b
DIY top + skirt, Ann Taylor sandals (this year's version - 40% off), Warby Parker Evelyn sunglasses c/o
J.Crew bag (30% off sale w/ SUMMERTIME), Kate Spade belt thanks to Wendy

When I first spotted this classic striped material at JoAnn’s for $10 a yard (armed w/ coupon), I yanked it out with joy, then scratched my head for about 15 minutes debating what to make with it. A dress would be adorable (looved SPG's project), but a skirt might be more versatile. A skirt would be easier, whereas a dress would require a zipper and lining (eek). I ended up settling on a skirt and bought 1.5 yards of material.

90% of the way into skirt making, I realized I had sizeable scraps of fabric left over. I pinned them together into a makeshift bodice, fell in love with the combined look, and didn't hesitate to switch gears into dress mode. From there, more waves of indecisiveness resulted in the dress evolving towards a two-piece set, and later came the idea to add a peplum hem to the top. When both pieces are worn together as a "dress," the peplum tucks nicely underneath the fuller skirt.
DIY dress worn 3 ways
I'm a big fan of the "fit & flare" silhouette that's been plentiful in stores. The fitted torso combined with a fuller skirt is flattering on many body types, if the proportions are right. My challenge when shopping was waistline placement and skirt volume - for shorter ladies, the waist may need to be a little higher (it's actually a little too high in my photos) to balance out a full skirt, and for those with smaller frames, a too-poofy skirt can easily edge into kiddy territory.
Striped Fit and Flare dresses
Shop Similar:
1) For ladies who are a little taller (although the bodice looks short, so perhaps petite women can pull it off with a simple hem job), a beautiful WHBM option in sizes 00 - 16 regular on sale for over 50% off. I can tell from the video that the fabric has a good weight to it.
2) Forever21 version under $25 - looks like a less structured knit. Reviews say length is good for petites.
3) LOFT strappy version (now 40% off) available in extended petite sizing and regular
4) Modcloth similar style skirt w/ elastic waist, and peplum top - both labeled as "runs small."

Eat & Explore London (and packing light for tourism)

striped blazer red pants
J.Crew blazer (30% off w/SUMMERTIME), Coach court bag (review),
Ann Taylor pants (similar at J.Crew for $35+, similar at LOFT w/ extra 40% off), old H&M linen scarf

While in London, I admired the tall, put-together locals, donning late-May “uniforms” of mostly dark jeans, ankle-height flat booties, and dark leather jackets or trench coats. I wore my bright touristy fare with chagrin, so would recommend packing the aforementioned pieces for visiting if you own them & can pull off the booties. Unlike in this last suitcase series, I packed this time with the primary goal of all-day comfort. The nice part about dressing during travels (for lazy ones like myself, anyways) is that no one will notice when you wear similar outfits daily, or items on repeat. I wore this with heels to the office, onto a red-eye flight, then straight into a day of tourism.
striped blazer red pants2
For longer trips, I use this Samsonite hard shell spinner (use FRIENDS for an extra 25% off) and love it. The 20" size is pretty small, but on the plus side, it limits packing to a weight that I can lift. This has been key, ever since one of my travel fears came true when a few bystanders refused my requests for help with the overhead bin (resulting in a shaky, embarrassing struggle standing on top of a seat & almost chipping a tooth).

london packing
When trying to pack compactly, I start planning with the largest items (and wear the pieces that take up the most room)...

DIY convertible hem skirt: Moroccan print meets elephant trim

lime elephant skirt DIY 2
H&M shell from last year, DIY skirt (seen here without the trim), eBay sandals (similar at Nordstrom)

Not wanting to tire you guys of travel stuff too quickly, today's post features a skirt that I've been loving in the warmer weather. This was my first attempt in years to make an "everyday" garment from scratch, and it was riddled with mistakes. For the pattern, I started by tracing my beloved map skirt with back slit custom made by SewPetiteGal (completely forgot that she did a tutorial on that skirt here!). I then played with the length and shape through rounds of trial & error, and had some struggles remembering how to insert an invisible zipper. Sewing will be a slow, continuous learning process for me - I took a beginner's class as a young teen, and highly recommend a local sewing course for anyone interested in getting started. Since many of you have asked for a machine recommendation, I use the old version of this Brother 10-stitch which has lasted me over a decade.

When I first debuted this skirt, all my in-person critics / friends loved the elephant trim, whereas online feedback was overwhelmingly against it. That was a bummer, but I was partial to the trim myself and had no doubts about keeping it. One of the best parts about sewing is that you can make whimsical pieces to suit your fancy.
convertible skirt
I mentioned half-seriously on FB and Instagram that I wish the trim could be convertible, not expecting to receive useful suggestions from several ladies (thank you!). One idea in particular thanks to Michelle Y. ("add Velcro to the top of the trim and Velcro to the wrong side of the hem to make it convertible") got me thinking....

Eat & Explore Edinburgh, Part 2 (food pic heavy)

For the remainder of our Scotland visit, we considered popular tourist activities like day trips to the Highlands (to sneak a peek at the Loch Ness monster), but settled on exploring the town by foot. We started the day with a delicious Scottish breakfast cooked fresh by Doris & Eddie of Doris Crook B&B. When traveling, we love trying a mix of hotels and cozy B&B's.
edinburgh-eats5
For lunch, we went 3.5 miles north to Leith (Edinburgh's waterfront) for a Michelin star restaurant featured by Anthony Bourdain. I rather trust the man's recommendations, as we share similar passions for crispy-skinned lechon or a hot bowl of pho noodles.

The Kitchin in Leith serves "modern British cuisine" with a big focus on using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. After being seated, we each got little maps showing the birthplaces of ingredients used in the current menu. I felt like a kid with a connect-the-dots placemat at Applebees, matching pieces of each course to the map.edinburgh-eats4
Left: Braised ox tripe w/ crispy ox tongue Right: Grilled squid atop braised squid w/ ink

After some veggie crudite, an amuse bouche (pre-appetizer), and warm rolls, these appetizers arrived and stole the show. The ox tripe tasted like a beloved dim sum dish, and the tongue (which I'm normally fearful of) was reminiscent of seared Spam - a guilty pleasure. I couldn't get enough of the flavorful braised squid, which had a meaty, stew-like consistency. It was especially yummy paired with the tender grilled pieces, dabbed in ink.

Thrifted girls tweed dress & Savers / Value Village Giveaway

green blazer pastel tweed
Dress from Savers, Ferragamo Vara shoes (current version), Lefties blazer, Ann Taylor necklace

Although I've always liked the idea of scoring quality, unique pieces for less at thrift stores, I didn't have much luck shopping them until recent years. The stores around Boston are usually sorted only by color, or item type, or not sorted at all...making it quite the hunt for items that fit. After seeing constant pieces on fellow blogger Kerry sourced from a "Savers" thrift store, I popped into one years ago and have been a fan ever since. The locations I've visited have been very organized (Nick usually makes a beeline for the homegoods & used books selection), with clothes actually sorted by size. And if you sign up for emails, they offer 30 - 50% off on select holidays. I was excited when the company reached out to me last month, with gift certificates to share (scroll down for giveaway details)!

Pic taken last year - dress worn differently w/ Nordies rack pearls, Morgan Ashleigh necklace, H&M heels
pastel tweed dress 1 On one of these 50% off sales last year, I found this dress as part of a 2-piece for $4. At first glance, it was a terrifying explosion of pastel tweed and frill, probably worn once by a little girl for Easter and tossed quickly afterwards (funny enough, half a year later I came across an identical set at a thrift store hours away, which only confirms the fleeting life of this design). After peeling off the cumbersome jacket, however, I saw a cute, petite-friendly dress similar to items I've been eying from mainstream retailers.
 
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