Friday, August 18, 2017

Fashion Challenge: Week 3

Monday (Challenge Day #5): 
Monday night was open house, so I was aiming for professional, comfortable, and cute. Oh, how things have changed since my first year of teaching when I aimed for old, old, and old on open house night. I think I wore a suit (!). Thankfully, I no longer have to overcompensate for my youth with my fashion, so I opted for this Target dress from last year with a pair of mustard yellow flats that perfectly match one of the colors in the dress (as well as my hardwood floors). 

Tuesday (Challenge Day #6): 
I went coastal casual chic with my seersucker cropped pants (definitely second hand, probably Goodwill), a white linen shirt I bought on Amazon, and some simple Target sandals. Easy Breezy. 

Wednesday (Challenge Day #7): 
This day sees the first Pattiwagon original fashion. I made that chambray skirt a few years ago, and it may look familiar, as I have shown it off on the blog previously. Chambray is definitely one of my favorite fabrics to wear (and work with). I found a bunch of it on sale, immediately made the skirt, made (now forgotten) plans for the rest, and then immediately put it in fabric purgatory. Currently seeking chambray inspiration if anyone can offer. Until then, I'll just love this skirt, which I wore with well-loved plaid shirt from Gap and my red Tieks. 

Thursday (Challenge Day #8): 
Maxi skirt and plain black tee from Target with Aldo sandals. I was feeling comfort on this day, and this skirt always brings it. 

Side Note: I feel like my photography is perhaps getting worse with each week. I blame it on the fact that it is still dark outside when I take these photos, and my indoor lights aren't exactly photo studio quality. So I guess we'll be suffering until DST ends in November. Buckle in for more shadows and blurriness! 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fashion Challenge: Week 2

Monday (Challenge Day 2): 
Navy J. Crew pants with a striped sweater-ish shirt from Express. Necklace is a red leather flower with an unknown origin. As this challenge goes on, you'll notice that I don't wear a lot of jewelry. It's strange. I'm not at all picky about buying clothes. (Looks halfway decent, fits halfway decent, and is affordable? Sold!) Jewelry and shoes, on the other hand, can be an excruciating purchasing process with eternal hems and haws. Luckily, I found some shoes that pass the Pattiwagon Pickiness Test for this outfit: Tieks. They are super comfortable leather ballet flats with a teal sole. My look was dubbed "Perfecty Patriotic" at school. 

Tuesday (Challenge Day 3): 
Could I look more like a teacher? Cotton dress is super old from Old Navy (like, at least 10 tag designs ago). The belt came with a shirt that I don't really like so much from Anthropologie, so thank goodness I like the belt and thank goodness it was on clearance. (I did have to put some interfacing on the inside of the belt to give it structure. Pattiwagon Sewing Tip of the Day: if you don't like the look or feel of something you own, experiment with ways to improve it. The worst that could happen is you ruin it. And, well, you didn't like it to begin with.) The little sweater is favorite from Gap. Shoes are a random brand from DSW. 

Wednesday (Challenge Day 4): 
I found this outfit right before I started my challenge in the clearance section of Target. Pants: $12.98. Shirt: $4.98. Yes, I know, a little pricy for me. But I think I'll get a lot of wears out of the pants (on the weekends, of course!). Shoes are tan Sperrys, making an appearance in Week Two. 

We had a big "Minute to Win It" competition at school today, so my principal allowed us to wear jeans today. (FYI, this happens fairly frequently at school. Don't mean to harp on this so much, but during the school year, we teachers are overworked, and there aren't many tangible carrots to dangle in front of us. Fortunately, we can be bribed, assuaged, and cheered with the currency of denim. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017


It's early August. Late July has come and gone. You may be wondering about the most wonderful time of the year, tomato camp. Well, due to the eclipse, we moved tomato camp to coincide. (Hopkinsville, KY is among the best places for viewing, what?) So, with tomato camp being moved to mid-August, here's a tomato pie recipe to tide all of you tomato fiends over.

This tomato pie is legit. It combines four of my favorite things: pie crust, tomatoes, cheese, and most of all, mayonnaise. But, all you mayo haters out there, you really can't tell. It just melds into the pie like velvet. The whole concoction is one velvety, cheesy, tomato-y delight. (Yes, it is an indulgence. And, no, it's not on the diet.) This recipe comes from my parents' friend, Martha, and it is my kind of recipe. No measurements. No times. Just eyeballing. I've eaten it a few times, but this was my first solo flight.

Unfortunately (but not surprisingly), I did have one in a long lineage of pie crust fails with the recipe. Martha's recipe stated to use Mark Bittman's pie crust recipe. I respect Mark and all, but his pie crust uses sugar. Sugar not really being my thing in a pie crust, I found this New York Times pie crust recipe that had all the hallmarks of Bittman other than the sugar. Followed the directions to a tee, until it talked about pie weights. Umm, who needs pie weights when you can just prick the bottom and sides with a fork? Well, me apparently, when I make this recipe. Because, here's a before and after. 
(Just spent a cool 45 on that braid, nbd.) 

Better Homes and Gardens recipe, why do I betray you? The NYT crust tasted delicious (So! Flaky!), but clearly, it was not going to be filled with tomatoes, cheese, and mayonnaise. So, one in a long lineage of emergency Kroger trips was in store. Pre-made pie crust in hand (sigh), I made the pie. Here's what I did. 

First, bake the pie crust according to directions. As soon as it comes out of the oven, lay thin slices of provolone cheese on the bottom. This will prevent future sogginess. 
Then, prepare the filling. I sliced two tomatoes, placed them in a colander, lightly salted them, and then let them sit for about 10 minutes. After that, I placed them between two paper towels and soaked up any moisture. This, like the provolone, is a sogginess prevention technique. 
While the tomatoes are soaking, grate some Jarlsberg. I used 8oz total. Mix the grated cheese with a bit of grated pepper and some mayo. Hellmans. In a jar. There is no other option on mayonnaise. I used about a cup. (Note: this picture was my first "eyeball." I ended up using about double this amount.)
Now you're ready to pie. Place one layer of tomatoes in the pie crust, followed by a layer of chiffonaded basil and about half the cheese/mayo mixture. Repeat the layers once to complete this savory delight. 
I baked it at 350 for about 45 minutes. Notice, I put tin foil around the crust about 15 minutes into the baking because I noticed the edges were getting crispy. Also, I baked it on a cookie sheet, again, to prevent sogginess. (Sogginess is clearly the archenemy of this pie.)
Bake until it's lightly brown and bubbly on the edges. Before you enjoy, be sure to complete the most important pie-making step, #posewithyourpie. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Fashion Challenge: Week 1

There is a saying in the teaching world (not sure how commonly known it is outside of our realm) that teachers are supposed to dress only in black until December. You know, to inspire the funereal atmosphere that is a hallmark of all educational institutions. 

Clearly, I don't subscribe to that tenet or that attitude. And, after eleven years and two days of teaching, I think I'm mostly doing alright. However, I did subscribe to the all black look on the first day, mostly because I just love this dress. (See you in January, buddy.)

The dress is a classic shift design with exposed gold zippers on front pockets and up the back. Unfortunately I can't remember when or where I bought it, but it's been a fav for several years. Shoes are my beloved peep toe Nine West flats with gold detail. (You'll be seeing these a lot.) 


Although Fridays won't count toward my fashion challenge, here you can see my typical Friday aesthetic. There are not a lot of perks in the school year for teachers, so jean Friday is one we hold sacred. These are J. Crew toothpick-fit jeans, paired with another beloved shoe, my light brown Sperrys. (You'll be seeing a lot of these, too. Just wish you could see more of them in the photo. Clearly I need to work on my photo taking skills. Good thing I'll have lots of days to practice.)

Week 1 is complete; 17 to go! 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

New School Year = New Challenge

As my loyal readers know, Pattiwagon loves a bargain, and Pattiwagon loves a challenge. You may remember my two No Spend Month challenges a few years ago, both of which resulted in some very interesting meals. (Did I really eat a condensed milk sandwich? Yes, yes, I did. And I loved it.)

It's a new school year and a new resurgence of the blog, so I'm embarking on a fashion challenge. You may be familiar with the idea of a capsule wardrobe. While I love that idea, I currently have what I would consider to be the opposite of a capsule wardrobe: so many random (and cheaply-made; see: Bargain Barn) clothes that don't really go with anything else. So, I'm turning my clothing collection frowns upside down with this challenge. 

Here are the rules: 

1. Wear a different outfit every day of the school year from now until Christmas break. 
2. Do not purchase any new clothing. If I would like a new outfit, I can either hit up the BB and refashion or make something from scratch. 
3. Document my outfits with weekly blog posts. Starting Friday! 
4. At the end of the challenge, donate/discard any (school-appropriate) clothing I didn't wear. 

Here are the exceptions: 

1. Fridays will not count on the challenge, because those are jeans + staff shirt days, and I'm not going to forgo that teacher treat. (So that leaves approximately 72 different outfits to come up with.) 
2. I'm allowed to repeat my black pants, black leggings, black t-shirt, and any shoes. 
3. I'm allowed to buy new running shoes/equipment. (Marathon training, yo!) 

Wish me luck, loyal readers! And please don't make fun of me when I wear the clothing equivalent of a condensed milk sandwich. 

And, for good measure, here's Baby Pattiwagon on her very first day of school: 
The pinnacle of my modeling career. I am giving the camera everything I have. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Pattiwagon Takes DC: Part 1

Tap, tap. Is this thing still on? It’s been a minute, loyal Pattiwagoneers. I hope you’ve found your way back here, and I hope you’ll stay a bit because this post is going to be epic (and drawn out into multiple posts). Why epic? Because I just returned from the magical fairy dreamland that is Washington, DC. And, still awash in the glow of our nation’s capital, I want to tell you all about it. (Correction: I wrote this right when I returned, let it sit for a few weeks as I am wont to do, but I’m back in DC for a long weekend to enjoy the sites, sounds, smells, and of course, the citizen(s). So, yeah, I figured now would be a good time to publish, awash anew in that glow.)

The Background:
Mike and Denise Dickens are long-time friends of my parents, and they were going to be traveling to Iceland and London for a month this summer. Knowing that I have the summers off and a healthy supply of wanderlust, they asked me to housesit for them. It was a symbiotic proposal, but I really feel like the bigger beneficiary. Although, I did keep their plants alive (for the most part) and house kept (for the most part).

Here I am, posing outside the house in my last moments before leaving. Awash.

This first post is going to focus on the museums I visited. Subsequent posts will be on food/drink and other activities. So consider me your DC museum tour guide for the next thousand words or so. (Yikes. Feel free to skip around.)

Museums Visited: 14 (12 of which were free)

Before I get into my list, I need to express how grateful I am to live in a country that supports these institutions. [Pattiwagon ‘bout to get political.] We are currently living under an administration that ostensibly denies the existence of climate change and feels very dicey on evolution. The National Museum of Natural History stands out as a particularly bright spot in this, our current political and educational sojourn to the Dark Ages. According to the Smithsonian, climate change and evolution are not up for debate. I am thankful that children (and adults) who may not be hearing that on the reg have a place to go for free, legitimate science education.

I was refreshing to see that the government-funded museums are not controlled by the impulses of a capricious president, but rather, the research performed by measured scientists. As far as government goes, I am much more Leslie Knope than Ron Swanson, and the Smithsonian Institution really speaks to the reasons why.  

So, without further ado, my museum list…

Newseum ($25): Always a winner, unfortunately we went two days before David Fahrenthold’s most famous notebook went on display. Next time.

Building Museum ($10): Following a recommendation for toddler activities in DC, Laurel and I took Henry here during nephew’s first DC trip. They have a miniature children’s museum here that encourages…building? Really, it was a giant playroom packed with toys. Henry loved it. In addition to housing the Building Zone, as it is called, the museum had exhibits on Frank Lloyd Wright and Architecture of the Asylum that I’ll save for next time. Maybe more so the FLW than the AotA though.   

National Air and Space Museum: Hadn’t been since elementary school. Very cool, but very overrun with middle schoolers. Of course I enjoyed the IMAX on life on the International Space Station. 

National Museum of Natural History: See above. I’m definitely more of an art museum girl (see below), but I’m really glad I went. And I saw a great IMAX on national parks. 

Hirshorn: Modern art museum with several unorthodox works by Yoko Ono currently on display. I hung two wishes on the Wish Tree, one personal wish and one political wish. You might be able figure out the latter. Periodically, the wishes are "harvested" and sent to Ono's Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland.

National Gallery of Art: Typical, overwhelming art museum spanning centuries. I downloaded the audio guide on my phone and was perfectly satisfied to spend the morning here. They are hosting a Vermeer exhibit in the fall with twelve of his forty paintings on display. Who's up for return? 

National Gallery of Art East Wing: Modern art – LOVED! Favorite parts were the Alexander Calder mobiles and the Byron Kim Synecdoche. Most memorable, however, would have to be this. Uh heh. 

Sackler Gallery: Asian art – liked it. Best exhibit was on Turquoise Mountain, a project that promotes artisans in Old Kabul, Afghanistan. They have rebuilt the city and are reviving the art industry with some amazing work in design. 

National Museum of African Art: Attached to the Sackler, great exhibit on the role of water in art. As an aforementioned (On the blog. Many years ago. No hard feelings if you don’t remember.) lover of all things water and all things art, this obviously spoke to me.

National Museum of African American History and Culture: If you haven’t heard, this may be the hottest museum in the country (world?) right now. Presold tickets are sold out months in advance, so in order to go, one must reserve day-of tickets online at 6:30AM. I woke up five times at 6:29AM in order to reserve, and on the fifth try, I finally lucked out. WORTH IT. I know that I may have a proclivity for the hyperbole, but I cannot overstate how wonderful this museum is. I started on the upper floors with exhibits that celebrate African Americans in sport and culture. I really enjoyed it, but what I came away with was, in two words, white appropriation. However, that was definitely a product of my white guilt and not something on which the museum curators focused. It truly was a celebration. I felt like this quote summed it up nicely: 

The bottom three floors guided me through the history of African Americans, beginning with slave trade and ending present day. The exhibits were numerous, and one thing I noted was how many of the artifacts had been given as gifts by the original owners. Really shows how committed those involved with the museum are to the educational mission. One of the coolest parts of the museum was the serenity room at the end of the museum. The indoor waterfall serves as a soothing presence after all the pain of history. As soon as I walked in, I saw the Sam Cook lyric, “A change is gonna come” on the wall, and tears sprung from my eyes. Hope springs eternal.

Postal Museum – I would not have visited this museum had Ellen not been visiting and wanting to scratch her philately itch. I’m so glad we went. Lots of exhibits and lots of stamps (who knew?!) to look at which were surprisingly interesting, but my favorite part was the kiosk in which we got to design our own stamps.

My surprise at the interest level of the Postal Museum immortalized in a stamp 

National Museum of American History – Honestly, not a lot to say here. First Lady exhibit was fine, but it felt very outdated. While I appreciate the “culture” that the First Ladies brought (and bring) to the White House, it feels a bit anti-feminist to go gaga over their china patterns and gowns. Perhaps a few more exhibits on their non-hostess-related contributions could create a better balance. Abigail Adams, where you at?

National Museum of the American Indian – Ellen and I went here, and full disclosure, I slept (sitting straight up on a bench, mind you) through the intro video. (I don’t know if my issues of sleeping through movies shown in public are well documented on this blog, but they should be.) The rest of the museum was interesting, but we both thought it was a little glossy with regards to the white man’s exploitation of American Indians. Granted, American Indians are much more than their mistreatment, so probably another case of white guilt.

United States Botanic Garden – Lots of winding paths through areas with plants from all climates, both indoors and out. Beautiful visit on a beautiful day.

National Portrait Gallery – Breezed through here one afternoon. Lots of portraits. Something about cat art before the age of the internet. I went to a lot of museums. May have been a bit delirious.

Perhaps you are feeling the same way if you made it down this far, so congratulations! Even though I visited all of these, in some ways, I feel like I just scratched the surface with regards to the cultural and educational opportunities in DC. So, next visit. I see a trend. 

Epic DC post #2 will cover many of my non-museum activities, so keep your eyes peeled for that. And, welcome back to the Pattiwagon!