A Very Potter Party

In a very inactive, sort of fashion blog by a literature grad student, it seems totally appropriate to break a months-long blog silence with pictures from my son’s Harry Potter-themed birthday party that happened, incidentally, several months ago. Yes, yes, of course.

When I’m not being really bad about updating this blog or doing whatever it is grad students do (read, write, grade papers, rinse and repeat), I really love planning parties. My grandmother, who raised five kids and nobody got a birthday party every year and when they did it was cake, sing happy birthday, play pin the tail on the donkey and say goodbye, thinks I’m crazy, but I love me a themed party. When my oldest son was obsessed with Thomas the Train, I bought a train-shaped cake pan (that made individually-sized train cars), decorated the train with candy, and made a track on a cake board with black licorice. It was awesome. One year we threw a monster party for my younger son complete with monster cupcakes with googly eyes. And also slime (can’t have a monster party without slime!).

But considering my own irrepressible obsession with the Harry Potter universe, you can imagine how happy I was when my older son asked for a Harry Potter party for his 7th birthday. I’ve been reading the books to him at bedtime for the past year or so, and I told him he could screen the first movie at his party since we had just finished the first book. (Obviously, it is a serious rule in our household that one may not watch a film based on a book before reading the actual book.)

I did so much work for this party. It was insane. But, in the end, it was the most awesome party ever, and my son still talks about it being one of the best days of his (very-distinguished-at-age-seven) life. Most of the pictures I took with my real camera were of the kids so excuse the instagramy nature of these images:

chinese fireball

Guests were greeted by a Chinese Fireball dragon, which guarded the entrance to Gringotts, where the children were given the key to their vault and collected a sack of galleons.

flourish and blotts

At Diagon Alley, the children bought a copy of The Standard Book of Spells: Grade 1 (yes, inside is actual text about various spells from the Harry Potter wiki, compiled by yours truly into an actual spellbook) and quills. The quills and many of the other paper goods from the party were from PropPrintables, an etsy shop chock full of the most amazing HP-themed printables.

ollivanders

The children then continued on to Ollivanders, where a wand chose each child. (Wands were bought unfinished at another great etsy shop Party Scribbles and then I spray painted them brown. Each wand came with a little tag indicating the wood and wand core!)

Platform 9 3/4

Finally, the children entered through Platform 9 3/4…

potions

and finally arrived at Hogwarts to study potions with Professor Snape! (Our dining room was done up as the great hall, but I never managed to get a picture.)

Hogwarts letters

Our fireplace the Dursley’s fireplace on the morning when all the letters burst through it.

floo power

Of course, the Dursley’s would never had floo powder in their house!

HP candy

Finally, the children had a Hogsmeade weekend right before the film started and were able to visit Honeydukes for Chocolate Frogs, Squeaking Sugar Mice, Licorice Wands, Sweet Slytherins, Dumbledore’s favorite Serbert Lemons, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. The amazing candy containers were from PropPrintables. But, let me tell you, the cutting and the folding and the gluing of all those candy containers is not for the faint of heart.

Can you just make out he adult beverages on the counter above? Yes, that was a nice touch, if I do say so myself.

head of ravenclaw

And here I am in my Ravenclaw robes (I was, of course, Head of Ravenclaw). If you look closely, you can see I’m wearing dirigible plum earrings. (10 points to your house if you know what those are!) You can see the Sorting Hat in the foreground (all the children were sorted).

There was also a golden snitch cake (specially requested by the birthday boy), which was probably the most difficult cake I’ve ever done (let me tell you about those wings), and of course it fell apart just as I was transporting it the four feet from the kitchen to the dining room. But even so, the kids loved it. Still, no pictures of the broken cake for the internets.

Back to School Shopping

My fall semester begins in a little over a week, but next week I have work orientations for my various teaching jobs and I have been frantically trying to lesson plan, write essay prompts, and otherwise prepare for my classes so it feels like school/work has more or less already begun.

I recently read that August is the worst month to buy clothes, but unfortunately I had no choice but to go back to school shopping this month unless I wanted my son to traipse off to school virtually naked. That child grows like a weed and wears his clothes out even more quickly. Luckily, I’ve gotten down kids shopping to a near science – buy the basics at Target (skinny jeans, shorts, cute graphic t–shirts, underwear) and Lands End (always with a discount – socks, sweat pants) and Gap Kids (again, always with a discount that makes the prices comparable to Target – more skinny jeans and shorts) and sweaters, jackets, and button downs are where I splurge a bit (mini boden, J.Crew’s clearance section, and Zara Kids).

And as for me? Well, I just couldn’t resist a few things:

┬áJacket – Zara, Shirt – Madewell, Belt – Nordstrom, Boots – Boden

Although I’m always tempted to buy all sorts of very on-trend pieces, as I’ve gotten older I’ve tried to stick mostly with pieces I’m sure I love enough to wear for the life of that piece. And, to be honest, I’m a lot more risk-adverse when it comes to clothes than I like to imagine. So, for me, these pieces are just perfect. Classic pieces with a little dash of whimsy. I’m a sucker for simple pieces with very feminine details so I’m absolutely in love with the big bow on the otherwise plain white t-shirt from Madewell and the puffed shoulders on the Zara jacket. And of course I’ve been wanting to buy a pair of ankle boots for ages, but they were either way out of my price range or not wedges. I’ve promised myself to only wear them occasionally as 1) they’re suede and will wear and 2) my poor back can’t handle even wedges all that often. And the belt, though it was a “risky” pick for me as I’ve never really worn belts, I’ve been wearing it quite often since I bought it. In fact, I’ve decided that I’m rather enamored of belts now.

So hopefully as school gears up again I’ll muster up the time to post some of my outfits as I incorporate these pieces into my existing wardrobe.

Until then, adieu!

Weather Confusion

It feels as if LA can’t decide whether it wants it to be winter – cold and blustery with rainclouds perpetually threatening – or spring. The flowering trees and bushes in front of our house are in full, triumphant bloom. This weekend and yesterday were balmy in the high 70s. Today, however, was cold. (But, you know, LA-cold, which is, um, in the 50s? Don’t laugh. I’m an Angeleno. It’s my right to complain when the weather dips below 65 degrees.)

So, anyway, this is all to say that even though I was wearing a coat and a scarf today, I was very cold. I really don’t like being cold! This is the whole reason why I can’t move away from Los Angeles, and then it has to go play this dirty weather trick on me.

Harumph.

Enough about the weather, yes? This is what I wore to work today to conference with students. This skirt I’m wearing is pretty awesome. I love the little white leather circles that are sewn in layers on the skirt panel. It feels fun and feathery (alliteration!). And I was so excited that all I needed for work today was a folder full of essays and a purse. Usually I’m dragging several folders, a few books, maybe my laptop, various school supplies, plus all of the stuff that always goes in my purse.

After work, I went to pick up my boys at school.

I’ve set up a new points/rewards system for my eldest son so he was all eager to get home and start his homework. It was rather entertaining.

Basically, he gets a point (indicated on a calendar by a sticker) for fulfilling various responsibilities; homework and piano practice are the main ones, but he can also get points for reading a book or doing extra math worksheets or being caught doing something particularly good. I thought about adding points for doing chores such as setting the table or cleaning up his toys or making his bed, but he’s still at the age where he’s really eager to help around the house so I figured if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

The points he earns can be exchanged for limited amounts of “screen time” (TV or games on the ipad) or other small rewards. He seems pretty motivated.

Most days I have to do quite a bit of cajoling to get him to start on his homework and practice piano, but today he had done everything within an hour of getting home. An hour after that, he had done 4 pages of a math workbook and read a book. I had to insist that he stop and go play.

Coat: Burberry (also worn here)
Shirt: Mikkat Market (also worn here and here)
Skirt: Zara white leather skirt
Tights: J.Crew
Shoes: Modcloth
Bag: Modcloth
Accessories: Esprit outlet scarf (old), silver bow hair clip (gift from my mama), Herkimer diamond earrings from Principessa (gift from Yubo), Dogeared heart necklace
Nail Polish: essie licorice and deborah lippmann shake your groove thing
Lipstick: NARS Jungle Red lip liner and Red Lizard lipstick

Sheer Sleeves

I hope you are all having a nice weekend. Yubo and the children have Monday off for President’s Day so they will be going to visit my in-laws tomorrow, but I still have class tomorrow.

This morning I took my eldest to a play date and then drove him to piano. He’s been taking piano for about a year and he loved it for the first six months or so after which the novelty faded and it set in that learning and, more to the point, practicing piano is hard work. Hard work that is often tedious and repetitive, even when you like your teacher and your mom is a super awesome home coach (of course!).

He doesn’t actively hate it, but he does drag his feet about practicing and would definitely rather have spent his Sunday afternoon setting up a lemonade stand at his friend’s house than forcing his left hand to coordinate with his right hand on the keyboard. Still, once he starts playing, he seems happy enough and the sense of pride and accomplishment on his face when he’s mastered a new song or performed at a recital is pretty priceless.

Regardless, I’ve tried to present piano in the same way I present school. Does he sometimes want to stay home and play with his legos rather than go to school? Yes, but school is not a choice. Same goes for piano: piano is not a choice. I’m sure some people might think that’s kind of harsh, but I truly believe that music and, ideally, learning an instrument, should be a part of a well-rounded education. My children are fortunate enough to have grandparents who offered to support their private lessons, and I feel blessed that my parents wanted to give that to them.

I certainly don’t expect my children to become concert pianists or to play at Carnegie Hall or even start a garage band (though if that’s what they want, I’ll be there in the front row cheering them on), but I do want them to understand and appreciate music and be able to have music as a creative and emotional outlet. I know that there are cognitive benefits to learning an instrument as well, but mostly I just think that music is a gift that they will have their whole lives.

That said, it would be nice if he just wanted to practice everyday without complaint!

This shirt I’m wearing was a gift from my friend Katherine of Mikkat Market. It’s probably not something I would have chosen myself, especially with my super hesitant online buying issues, but I really, really love it now. It’s so versatile – I can dress it up like this or wear it with a tank and jeans. I can layer over it or show off the pretty, pretty sleeves. Speaking of the sleeves, they’ve got an almost Renaissance thing going on, and thus make me inordinately happy.

I just recently learned that its some odd fashion rule that you’re not to mix black and brown (is this like not wearing white after Labor Day?), which I think is absolutely ridiculous as black and brown look perfectly lovely together. It all depends on what particular pieces we’re talking about, I think. Anyway, obviously, I’m mixing black and brown and taupe and grey so I hope that the fashion gods do not come down to smote me.

Also, I have brown hair so does that mean I’m not supposed to wear black? How very silly. I guess that just goes to show, rules are made to be broken. (Except my rules, of course, like my children must learn to play an instrument and give their mommy kisses everyday. Because my rules make sense.)

(Duh.)

Shirt: asymmetrical shirt, c/o Mikkat Market (different cut, but same color and sheer sleeves here)
Dress: Thakoon for Target, worn as skirt (old)
Shoes: J.Crew wedges
Tights: J.Crew
Bag: Louis Vuitton (gift from my mama)
Belt: Theory (old)
Lipstick: shu uemura warm nude 939 (discontinued) over Cle de Peau Extra Rich Lipstick T5

Vintage Swing Coat

Hey there! I haven’t posted all week and it’s been even longer since I posted an outfit, but I was sick. And my kids were sick. And then my kids were sick again.

It’s been ugly.

Anyway, I’m breaking the blog silence with a bang. A bright pink one, to be specific.

I bought this vintage 1960s swing coat off ebay for a song a couple of years ago at the height of my Mad Men obsession. It’s beautiful and so delightfully pink.

I used to have a really hard time buying clothing online. You know how things can look great on the rack, but you try it on and it looks atrocious? Obviously when you buy clothes online, you can’t try it on, which is a conundrum supposedly solved by generous return policies. Unfortunately, I’m horrible at returning things. (I’m weird and feel really guilty when I return things. It’s dumb, but I can’t help it.)

Vintage clothes are even harder since it’s often hard to really know the condition of the piece from pictures. When I saw this coat, however, I just had to believe that it would be perfect.

And it was.

Just so you know, I have (quite happily, except in regards to my checking account) mostly overcome these hurdles to online fashion consumption. Sigh.

When I wear this coat, I feel instantly glamorous. The color, the weight, the length, the cut – everything about this coat is just lovely and fun.

Seriously, is it not gorgeous?

I felt a little like Superman/Clark Kent in this outfit. Or maybe Wonder Woman/Diana Prince would be a more appropriate analogy? My coat is like a cape – it’s big, bright, nostalgic, and out-of-place in the best way possible. When I remove it, I look and feel completely different. I blend in again, but in a I’m-wearing-leather-so-I-still-kick-ass kind of way.

Coat: vintage (from ebay)
Shirt: Anthropologie (old)
Sweater: J.Crew
Shorts: Q40 glam leather shorts
Tights: J.Crew
Shoes: J.Crew
Bag: fieldguided canvas bag
Accessories: Forever 21 bracelets and Dogeared heart necklace
Nail Polish: essie licorice

Field Trip

This morning I helped chaperone my son’s kindergarten class field trip to a local restaurant. The kids were so well-behaved and it was pretty adorable to see them holding hands in pairs, walking behind their teacher through the neighborhood like Madeline and her classmates following Miss Clavel through Paris.

The restaurant even provided coffee for the parents and teacher during the children’s pizza making lesson and then provided a couple of pizzas for the adults when the pizzas were ready to eat.

Best field trip ever!

This sweater I’m wearing was a gift from my mama when I was in college. I like that it can be worn open or buttoned up high so it serves as a turtleneck. It also has pockets, which is nearly always an automatic plus in my book.

Everything should have pockets.

On a side note, I’m kind of unhappy with my hair at this stage. I’ve been growing it out from the pixie cut I had a year or so ago, but it’s just at such an annoyingly dull stage right now. I’m tempted to just chop it all off again, but that’s not really what I want either.

Jacket: Moschino Cheap and Chic (borrowed from my mama)
Sweater: Theory (old)
Shirt: J.Crew silk tank
Shorts: Mikkat Market glitter shorts
Tights: J.Crew
Shoes: J.Crew glitter oxford ballet flats
Sunglasses: Chanel (hand-me-down from my mama)
Accessories: Banana Republic earrings (old)