Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Costume Idea: In the Cloud

(Warning: This post contains unbridled amounts of extremely hot, sexy nerdy costume ideas. Regular posting with toned down nerdiness will resume next week).

Every Halloween, the inspiration for my costume comes to me really, really late. This year it came so late that I thought I might not even dress up at all. Then, last week, while sitting at a stoplight, the nerdiest costume idea ever popped into my head, and I knew I had to do it. All it took was some felt, some pillow filler and some hot glue: I'm a cloud! But not just any cloud, specifically, I'm "in the cloud." (In reference to cloud computing). I know! I warned you it was nerdy! This is what happens when you work in the Silicon Valley.

And this is only the short list of all the benefits cloud computing has to offer!

And in case you're still in need of some Halloween costume ideas, here are my costumes from the past few years. The best part is that they're all really easy to make (satyr furry pants not included) which is perfect for all my fellow procrastinators out there.

Twitter bird: this one was a huge hit! It won two costume contests (even beating out all the sexy nurses, cops and teachers :)

Pizza: My cousin Joseph borrowed this one for his Halloween trip to Vegas this weekend. If you see a big, buff 6'1" combo pizza running around town, say hi!

Chick: before there was Twitter, there were just little baby birds. This costume placed in the top 3 at the company costume contest. As you can see, the competition was pretty stiff! (And these people were just from my team alone -- that was one spirited company).

Satyr: Sewing fur pants is hard to do. Making satyr faces, apparently, is not.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Etsy Vintage Decor

Back in September, my cousin Denise asked me to help her decorate her guest bedroom. I leapt at the chance to decorate an entire room and have had so much fun these past few months finding all the right pieces. I'll be revealing the finished room to Denise this weekend, and I really hope she likes it! (I'll be posting all about it next week :)

One thing I found in my decor hunt is that it can be a challenge finding unique pieces. The obvious answer to me was to buy vintage (plus, vintage touches look great in any room), but there weren't as many nearby and worthwhile places to shop as I'd hoped. Next Sunday, I'm headed to the Alameda Point Antiques Faire with my friend Irene to check out the goods -- there are so many rave reviews, it has to be worth a trip. In the meantime, I've found a treasure trove of vintage goodies on Etsy. Here are a few of my favorite decorating ideas:

Keepin' It Brassy: Ideas for Your Desk (above)
Brass apple trinket box: This would be such a cute hideaway for paper clips or ponytail holders.
Brass heart key paper weight: Golden keys + hearts add a playful touch to any desk.

Statement Pieces: For the Bookshelf
Display Globe: Showcase your favorite collection in a unique glass globe.
Mozart Ceramic Bust: Spiff up any space with this classic, stately piece.

Letters & Numbers: For Anywhere
These vintage letters and numbers would look great on a shelf, in the bedroom, or even in the kitchen.

Bottle It Up: Bathroom Baubles
Apothecary bottles and specimen jars brighten the room with a bit of cool mad scientist allure.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Diamond Cupcakes

Last Friday my cousin Denise had a small birthday celebration over cocktails and fancy pigs in a blanket. I decided to bring cupcakes for dessert because they're festive and party-friendly (a.k.a. really easy to serve). Combining her love for chocolate and her love for diamonds, I made these "diamond" cupcakes.

I love the look of cupcake toppers, so I thought of a funny idea, and my friend Roy helped me design them. (Thanks, Roy!) Aren't they cute? To make them, I printed the toppers on sticker paper and sandwiched a toothpick in between the print and another sheet of sticker paper.

I was inspired to get fancy with the frosting by my friend Deanna. She has a super awesome baking blog and explained the whole frosting piping process to me. (Thanks, Deanna!)

I found these ruffle wrappers (that look like tutus!) at Michaels. (Did you know they have a whole aisle of sickeningly cute baking accessories?? Yes, it is a dangerous place.)

Denise's all-time favorite diamond is the yellow diamond. I tried making a batch of yellow rock candy "diamonds" to decorate the cupcakes with, but the online tutorials that promised me that making rock candy is easy all lied. Somehow my rock candy turned out to be rock candy chips. I went out and bought rock candy at the store as a backup, but the chips turned out to look kinda cool.

The cupcakes themselves were amazing (or at least I thought so). The chocolate cake was so moist and fluffy and the vanilla buttercream frosting wasn't too sweet. I got both recipes from Deanna, and before you keep reading to see what the secret ingredient was in the chocolate cake, let me just say, I know it sounds weird, but just trust me on this one.

Emily's Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
From Occasional Sugar

2 cups sifted flour
1 cup sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
3 Tbsp cocoa
1 cup cold water
1 cup mayo
1 tsp vanilla

Sift together the dry ingredients. Add 1 cup cold water, 1 cup mayonnaise and 1 tsp vanilla. Beat until well combined.

Bake in 8 x 8 x 2” pan, 30 – 45 min. at 350.

Double ingredients for 9 x 13” pan. Bake 50 – 60 minutes.
(325 for glass pans)

This made me about 12 cupcakes that baked for 18-20 minutes.

Friday, October 22, 2010

J. Crew Inspired Layers + Easy DIY Shorts

When I think about fall fashion, I think about layers. Lots and lots of layers. Then I think about J. Crew because if there's anyone who knows layers, it would be them. I never cease to be impressed at how their stylists have perfected the layered look and find myself constantly coveting their adorable outfits. So, last weekend, I styled my own J. Crew-inspired look with a few of my favorite pieces and a pair of DIY cut-off shorts.

To make the shorts, I went into my closet and found a pair of jeans too flare-y for my current tastes. They were my very first pair of designer jeans ever (they're by 7 For All Mankind and I yearned for them most of my entire freshmen year of college until I finally gave in, saved all my milk money and bought a pair) so it was hard to think about altering them, but I never wear them anymore anyway, so they were the perfect candidate for cut-off shorts. I always seem to make things shorter than I intend them to be, so I added on a few extra inches when deciding on the length. I used a ruler to make sure both sides would be even and began snipping away.

Peeling back the layers: Gibson blazer, Kersh cardigan, Old Navy tie blouse

Say yes to socks and shorts!

And then have a warm cup of coffee and enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pretty Pumpkin Round Up

I love seeing all the fall pumpkins on neighborhood doorsteps this time of year, even if most of them are left out uncarved and undecorated. This year I found inspiration in delicately carved lace-patterned pumpkins (I've been in love with these for so long now) and the forest scene pumpkin from Sweet Paul Magazine (I almost fell out of my seat when I saw it! It reminds me of the dioramas I'd make as a kid).

I decided to do some good ol' fashioned carving on my pumpkin this year and decided to carve out the Quiet Like Horses' leaf design from the header image (with a spider hanging from its web because c'mon, it's Halloween). I haven't carved in a long, long time which might explain why my carving took such a long, long time. It took most of the evening, and the next day, even my triceps and hand muscles were sore -- who knew carving could be so taxing? :P It does look quite pretty when lit up at night though, if I do say so myself.

Bottom pumpkin images: Country Living gilded pumpkins via Happy Mundane, Real Simple plaid pumpkins

Monday, October 18, 2010

Birthday Banana Bread Hearts

I've been slowly, but surely, building a fine collection of over-ripened, spotty bananas which I knew would someday make an amazing banana bread. Just as my freezer was beginning to look like a black banana wasteland, I finally got the perfect opportunity to break out my banana booty. My dear friend Irene turns another year wiser today, so over the weekend, I surprised her with a batch of banana bread hearts. As a teacher, she's always rushing around, and since she's always on the go, I thought these convenient treats would be a tasty alternative to her usual breakfast routine. This recipe was so easy, and yet the bread was crazy moist and dee-licious. I'm already working on building another collection of old bananas to make another batch of this bread for myself!

Hearts for someone I heart. Happy birthday, Irene!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Conquering the Full-Size Scarf

I've always liked scarves because of their high coziness factor which gives them an undeniable edge over pearls, gold necklaces, and other neck adornments when the weather cools. They are also a great way to sass up a basic outfit without breaking the bank. Since I'm planning on taking a 3-week trip to Southeast Asia this coming January with my cousins (we just bought our tickets on Wednesday!), I plan on taking full advantage of their low-cost, snazzifying effects all season.

For a long time, the scarves I owned all looked pretty much the same: long and skinny. Then, for my birthday this year, my cousin Nathalie gifted me with this full-size scarf. I love the repeating horse print, but was a little intimidated by its size. But after a few awkward attempts, I finally got it to tie in a nice drapey manner.

Step 1: Fold in half.

Step 2: Fold in half again, on the diagonal. It's okay if it's messy. Unstructured is in.

Step 3: Pull the ends back and to one side.

Step 4: Tie the ends into a side knot.

Et voila!

How do you wear your biggest scarves?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Calling Cards

Sometimes A lot of the time I will get into conversations with people about my blog (it's hard not to when you have friends and family like mine who love publicizing for me :) Quiet Like Horses isn't the easiest thing for people to remember, so I decided to have calling cards made up for people interested in visiting. My talented friend Phuong designed these for me -- aren't they adorable? My favorite part is how the leaf design is reversed out on the other side.

Maybe it's just me, but I think a pretty calling card can make quite an impact and help people remember you. Case in point: my friends Sue and Thai recently went on a trip to the East Coast (I was jealous) and brought me back a couple of unique cards from two Brooklyn businesses (I've never been, but Brooklyn seems so cool). They're the top two -- the oversized one from domestic construction and the one that reminds me of a rucksack from nydesignroom. The bright red one is from a tiny bar my friends and I discovered on a fantastic, insane 3-day trip to London a few years ago. I keep it out on my dresser because it reminds me of all the craziness and fun of that trip which is a nice way to start the morning.

p.s. Quiet Like Horses is now on Facebook at! Come on over -- join the party! :D

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cookie Break Kit!

One ordinary morning, I came into work, sat down at my desk, and was floored to find a beautifully wrapped gift from my friend Stacy waiting for me. She gave me an adorable set of measuring cups and the note said, "I saw these and thought they were perfect for you." Isn't that the sweetest? Her thoughtfulness really made my day, so I knew I wanted to do something equally as sweet for her. After thinking long and hard, I decided on surprising her with homemade chocolate chip cookies (you can never go wrong with those! I used this brilliant recipe). I wrapped them in these Sur La Table treat bags and added a personal-size milk carton and pretty paper straws for a complete "cookie break kit." I hope it puts as bright a spot in her day as my measuring cups did in mine!

Friday, October 8, 2010

4 Ways to Wear Boots This Fall

This season, I decided to invest in a nice pair of boots. After trying on dozens of different kinds, I decided on a tall pair by Frye. I also waited to pick a pair during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (such a good time to stock up on fall essentials!) since boots can be a bit of an investment. These boots are seriously comfortable and forgiving on my wide feet, but what I love most is how versatile they are. Here are some of my favorite ideas on how to style your fall boots:

1) Black and brown: Tuck skinny black pants into your boots to update a classic black and white color combo.

2) Skirting the issue: No time to shave in the morning? Wear tall boots with a longer skirt. No socks, hosiery, or razors required.

3) Over-the-top: I've been wanting to try over-the-knee socks for a while. The verdict? They're thick, warm, and make short skirts fall-appropriate.

4) Cuffs & tights: For those days when you're feelin' extra sassy, pull on a pair of textured tights, fold your boots over and get ready to shake your booties.

(You can see the other pictures my friend Thai took right here.)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Playing Hostess

Last Friday, I took the day off to spend time with my visiting family. We had no special plans, so we wandered around and I got to play hostess. First, we got goodies at Icing on the Cake, one of my favorite bakeries. They make the best banana cakes. I got a banana cupcake this time and thought that it might even be better than the banana cake (if that's at all possible).

Then we walked to a huge giant, sun-drenched lawn. Eating baked goods and playing in the sun in the middle of the day is so much more exhilarating when you know everyone else is sitting at their desks. It feels like having a secret.

We admired the flowers.

We walked across the Golden Gate Bridge (all 3.4 miles of it!)

We took in the pretty sights -- the weather in the City was clear, warm and perfect for our stroll.

Sophie's pup Petrie made himself right at home. He had a grand ol' time playing with his bunny pal.

One night we transformed my living room into a slumber party theater by laying tons of blankets and pillows out on the floor in front of the TV. We watched The Disappearance of Alice Creed, a crime thriller with Gemma Arterton (she was so gorgeous in Prince of Persia) and Martin Compston (I want his Scottish accent). I even brought out the Reese's Pieces and sour belts I had bought for just the occasion, but barely anyone touched them except for me!

I was sad to see them go, especially since Sophie wouldn't let me keep Petrie all to myself. I can't wait for Christmas to see him everyone again.
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