Sunday, December 3, 2017

Fashion Challenge: Week 16

Despite the nearing conclusion* to the fashion challenge, I've got four brand new outfits for this week.

*Debating on whether or not to continue the challenge in January. I've got the clothes to wear, but I'm longing to pull out some of my old favorites for a re-wear. Stay tuned for my decision.

On to the outfits!


Monday (Day 50):
Baby blue cable-knit sweater from the Gap that I'm thinking was a Christmas present many years ago and gray plaid pants from my dear Target. Topped with pearls, I'm ready for Chapel Hill.


Tuesday (Day 51):
This dress was given to me by a colleague last year. It is a bit too big, but I remedied the length by just hacking a few inches off the bottom. Polyester blend means no hemming needed! Wore it with a black Banana blazer.


Wednesday (Day 52):
Another Christmas sweater from Ann Taylor Loft with J. Crew black pants and my beloved Target riding boots.


Thursday (Day 53):
Super cheap (and poorly made) dress from Target that has somehow survived many wearings over the last ten years. I love this dress, but it defies the laws of nature. I'm not complaining though; hopefully it'll last me another ten years. In the winter I wear it with leggings and a sweater, here a camel-colored Limited cardigan (which, yes, has appeared before in the challenge).


Saturday (Bonus (brag) Day!):
This was my outfit on Saturday for the St. Jude (half) marathon in Memphis. While I was signed up for the full, I decided in October to downgrade to the half. It was disappointing at the time; however, the half was so enjoyable and manageable that I may just opt for that distance for the foreseeable future. We shall see.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

May I Introduce you to Freekah?

(That is if you don't already know it.)

I first ate freekeh at book club a few weeks ago, prepared by my friend Jamie. She served it with some delicious Cuban food, and I immediately knew that I needed more freekeh in my life. It's a Middle Eastern grain similar to rice or quinoa, but it has much more earthiness and flavor. Jamie recommended I order it on Amazon, so as soon as book blue ended, I primed it straight to Charleswood. I've been eating it ever since.

While the instructions on the package say to use a 5:1 ratio of water/broth to freekah and cook "until done." I followed that the first time (using chicken broth) and cooked it for about 30 minutes. The freekah appeared "done," but there were still about 3 cups of unabsorbed broth in the pot. I just strained the freekah, and it tasted great.

The second time I made it, I used a 3:1 ratio and only had to strain out a little broth. That part of freekah still a work in progress, but so far, it seems to be very forgiving and difficult to screw up (a godsend for a by-the-seat-of-her-pants chef).

Once the cooked freekah is in hand, it becomes your palette. The first time I made it, I paired it with roasted butternut squash, sautéed spinach (with a little onion/garlic goodness), dried cherries, goat cheese, and a dressing of honey + brown mustard + mayo.



The next time I made it, I made it just like I did above but added chicken.



The next time I'll make it (literally as I type this right now), I think I'll do the same.

IT IS THAT GOOD. And it has that so elusive combination of healthy + delicious. You know how sometimes when you're at a county fair eating a funnel cake, you can just feel your arteries clogging? This has the opposite effect. You can feel the vitamins and protein coursing through your body. Maybe not, but it is genuinely healthy and genuinely delicious.

Thanks to Jamie for introducing me to a food that will be in my rotation for the foreseeable future.

Rejected Titles for this Post: (You're welcome.)
Lady in the streets but freekah in the sheets
Get Your Freekah On
Freekah of Nature
Control Freekah
Freekah Friday
Freekahs and Geekahs
Freekah by the Speaker

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Fashion Challenge: Week 15

Alright, Pattiwagoneers. We are nearing the end of the challenge. I have only two normal real weeks of school left plus a week a finals, in which I assume I'll be getting some jean days. The post covers the week before Thanksgiving break. I hope everyone reading had a restful and delicious Thanksgiving. I certainly did, enjoying time with both Andy and my family. On to the week-old fashion: 



Monday (Day 46): 

Black pants from J. Crew, aquamarine sweater from Banana received as a Christmas gift from Laurel a few years ago, and old standby Sperry's. I added my "Put A Bird On It" necklace (also received as a Christmas gift from Laurel) to complete this relaxed look. 


Tuesday (Day 47): 

This is a Bargain Barn special I dug out of a bin for a dollar about five years ago. I wear it sparingly (see: quality, poor), but I chose the right day this year, as I found out at school I would be giving a speech at the middle school NHS induction that same evening. Thanks to kismet I was already looking professional. 


Wednesday (Day 48):  

I documented the creation of this $8 vest on the Pattiwagon here. It's one of my proudest creations, and three years later, it's still going strong. I'm wearing it with a black cowl sweater, black J. Crew pants, and my favorite booties. (And yes, I'm still dressing for the weather I want. It was almost 70 degrees on this Wednesday.) (Both the sweater and booties were Christmas gifts from my parents. Really getting into the Christmas spirit this week!) 


Thursday (Day 49): 

This Thursday look was sponsored by Target. Shirt, pants, and vest are all Targe. (Confession, the vest is a repeat wear from Week 6. But you won't hold that against me, will you?) Shoes are my favorite mocs. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Fashion Challenge: Week 14


We're scraping the bottom of the metaphorical clothing barrel this week, but the fashion challenge surges on. I'm featuring some hand-me-downs, both intentional and accidental. Also find some tips on savvy shopping. Read on!

Monday (Day 42): 


Simple look of yellow and gray sweater from J. Crew (Christmas present from Laurel) and black pants (intentional hand-me-down from a teacher friend). If you vocalize that you don't buy clothes, you'd be amazed at the sympathy (pity?) that drives people to just toss some clothes your way. I approach free clothes like I approach free food. Where is it? And how can I get some? I also wore my favorite boots, two gems I found at a Target in Florida for less than $15. I think Target must have made only one pair of these (real leather) boots, and I happened upon them (in my size!) one day about six years ago. My mini lottery win.

Side note: The best place to buy winter clothes? Florida. Follow the logic: 1. People move from colder climates to Florida and quickly realize they don't need their winter clothes (See: furs.) 2. Said people are often wealthy and donate said furs to Goodwill. 3. Savvy shopper Pattiwagon swoops in and buys said furs for next to nothing.


Tuesday (Day 43): 


H&M dress and jean jacket bought in Germany in 2004 when "Hah und Em" was the holy grail of savvy shoppers. Some (more recent) items of H&M clothing last one wearing, but these are still going strong after thirteen years. It was a different time. I do not recommend the current incarnation of H&M to savvy shoppers.


Wednesday (Day 44): 


Another hand-me-down alert. These plaid J. Crew pants migrated into my wardrobe circa 2009 when Laurel was cleaning out her closet. I'm pretty sure they were old then. I'm now holding on until the wide leg fashion cycle comes back. Until then, though, I'll just keep wearing them. Red sweater from Gap and black flats complete this teacher look.


Thursday (Day 45): 


Bargain Barn refashion alert! I altered this skirt from a Bargain Barn special a few years ago. Confession not included in the original post: the first time I wore it, I sat down in my car and completely ripped the zipper out. Oop! That's the price I pay for my careless sewing. However, I fixed the zipper, and we've been good every since. I'm wearing it here with a deep purple top I bought in Scottsboro, Alabama at the Unclaimed Baggage Store (another holy grail for savvy shoppers). This top would be the "accidental hand-me-down" of the week. I'm also wearing black leggings and an olive green sweater from Banana. I like this look.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Fashion Challenge: Week 13


Another week, another four outfits. This was the first week that I struggled with my wardrobe. My dress/skirt options are waning, and I know that I could just wear black pants and a different sweater every until the end of the semester, that's just too boring. I have two free weekends coming up, so hopefully you'll find me busy at work in my sewing room. On to the outfits! 


Monday (Day 38):

Last week, I told the story of the bedbug dress. On this Monday, I wore the Mardi Gras vest. I bought this vest about 10 years ago and immediately loved it. It's chunky cable knit with big nautical buttons. I was going to Mardi Gras that year, so I made sure to pack it as a cute cold weather option. I climbed up on the ladder on St. Charles to watch a parade and promptly spilled an entire beer on myself. (No surprise there.) I didn't mind smelling like beer for the rest of the day. (Blame Credit the beer for that.) But when I got home and washed the sweater, I still couldn't get the stale beer smell out. It was ingrained, and I didn't want to wash it too many times, lest I destroy it. I had only gotten to love the sweater a short time, so I wasn't willing to give up on it. I faithfully put it in the back of my closet and waited for time to heal that stench. And, tada, it worked! About a year later, I got it back out, and the smell was gone. I have worn it often every since. So, no fear, serial spillers, there is hope for your clothes! I'm wearing it with a royal blue sweater from H&M (Germany, circa 2004) and a denim skirt from Gap. Steve Madden booties and brown tights on my feet. 


Tuesday (Day 39): 

*Homemade alert* This shirt was made by Mama Pattiwagon (aka Sewing Sensei). It is so beautifully constructed that I accidentally wore it inside out last year and didn't notice until hours into the school day. Oop! I paired this teal top with some navy pants from Banana and black (navy and black, the horror!) shoes from Rack Room. 


Wednesday (Day 40): 

Black skinny jeans from J. Crew, boots from DSW, and tunic from Modcloth. This is a beloved top worn very rarely, just to keep it fresh.


Thursday (Day 41): 

Army green dress from J. Crew with a black cropped blazer/sweater from an unknown store. I can't for the life of me remember where I got this, but if anyone has a tip on where I can find another (this one is getting tired), hmu. Black tights and Nine West flats complete the ensemble. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Fashion Challenge: Week 12

Confession: I had a very tired start to my week and ended up not taking any photos throughout the week. However, I didn't stop the challenge. I also didn't want to let down my loyal readers, so I recreated my outfits on this Sunday afternoon. Hence, the hair, makeup, and lighting are quite consistent in these photos. ;) 


Monday (Day 34): 

Cream colored cable knit sweater with button details on the back with black jeans and brown booties. Love this fall outfit. Sweater from TJ Maxx, I think. Jeans from J. Crew, and booties from Rack Room. 


Tuesday (Day 35): 

I was happy to recreate this look, as my 3:40 alarm clock did not leave much time or energy for hair and makeup on this day. Sorry, colleagues and students, I was looking, as the dogs say, rough on this Tuesday. But I didn't mind, because I got an extra day with an extra special houseguest. <blushing> Back to the look. Light blue sweater from Loft was a Christmas gift from Laurel a few years ago. Pants are simple J. Crew black. And flats are Nine West. Topped it off with pearls. 


Wednesday (Day 36): 

Every piece of clothing has a story. This dress has a STORY. The year was 2012. I was sitting on an airplane on the way back from New York. I was bringing bedbugs back to Memphis. For the second time. (That's another STORY.) This time, I was determined not to bring them back to my house, so as I flew itch-ily through the sky, I developed a plan. I can't remember every step in the plan, but it involved going to Target to buy the cheapest dress I could readily find. This dress was an angel from heaven. Six dollars and hanging in the front of the store. TMI alert, I stripped all (read: all) my clothes in the laundromat bathroom and wore this dress as I laundered all my clothes and sprayed all my shoes, suitcase, carry-on bag, and car upholstery. All this at 11PM at night. I'm sure I looked deranged. But I successfully decontaminated myself and all my belongings before I came back home. And I added a great dress to my wardrobe, so I don't care how crazy I seemed. Conquering bedbugs twice is a feat of which I'm very proud. But for obvious reasons, I don't much like to publicize it. 

The dress had a longer hem in the back than in the front, a feature I don't generally like, so I asked Mama Pattiwagon to straighten up the hem, which she did graciously. I paired the dress with dark red tights, brown boots (another STORY for another day) and a Limited camel cardigan I've had since college. 


Thursday (Day 37): 

The stories here are not that interesting (or memorable...), so I'll just give it to you straight. Color block plaid button-down from Modcloth, black jeans from J. Crew, and black booties from TJ Maxx (maybe?). 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Brief History of the Bullshot

Disclaimer 1: This is a recycled post I wrote five years ago and am bringing back aboard the Pattiwagon for all to enjoy. 
Disclaimer 2: This blog post may contain adult language and thematic material. 

Sorry. Patti Wagon is not one given to gratuitous cussing, but this picture definitely deserves a DOUBLE U - TEE - EF is going on here? 

Let's break it down. You might have noticed that these people are playing cards. You might also have a few questions. Like, "What are they playing?" Or, "Who's winning?" Or, "WHY ARE THE CARDS SO EFFING BIG?" Unfortunately, I can answer none of those questions for you. 

What I'm drawn to in this picture are the beverages, specifically the beverage of one Mr. Mike Dickens, seated at nine o'clock. I have taken the liberty to label all beverages, as you may want to refer back to the photo. 

The beverage labeled "bullshot" has been as ubiquitous in my summers as lightning bugs. While other children were probably learning the ratio of koolaide to water or perfecting the amount of chocolate syrup to add to milk, Clayton children were learning to make bullshots. By the way, no photographic evidence of the bullshot sweatshop exists. (DCS is a scary entity.) I made so many batches of bullshots growing up that I had the recipe memorized before I could even have a taste. 

Once I was able to taste the fruits of my labor, I realized why we made batch after batch. This concoction is that good. It has all the qualities of a bloody mary, but it's not heavy, making dangerously easy to drink.  It requires the cheapest Vodka you can buy, making it a drink for the people. And you can mix up a big batch and save it in the fridge to drink for the duration of your vacation, making it the perfect go-to cocktail. (By the way, this is definitely a vacation drink. Do not attempt to consume at any other time. Will not be the same.) 

So, what is the bullshot, you ask? Brace yourself. It's basically vodka + tomato juice + beef juice. Disgusting, right? -- No!  And excuse my blasphemy. If you've ever heard the "Don't knock it till you try it" speech, this is the time to heed that advice. 

Bullshot = Perfection in a glass. 

Years of making and drinking bullshots continued until a couple years ago, when one of the six ingredients was discontinued. For some reason, Mott's decided that the seven people who were buying Beefamato weren't actually generating the company enough profit to justify its production. (Can you imagine that?) We bought all we could, but that stockpile eventually ran out. (Thank you for your condolences.)

This year, I decided I was not going to have a bullshot-less summer, so I set out to recreate the recipe, sans Beefamato. After much experimentation, an array of ingredients, and the assistance of two willing taste testers, I found the El Dorado of cocktail recipes. 

Wolfschmidt Vodka, only the finest.

All beef broths are not created equal. 

Ratio Rationing

Bullshot retooling complete! Papa Clayton agrees.

Here's the recipe: 

For one drink: 
1 part condensed beef broth (I used Campbell's)
3/4 part tomato juice (I used homemade and Campbell's. Not much difference.)
1/4 part vodka (cheapest you can buy)
dashes of lemon juice, tabasco sauce, and Worcestershire sauce

Mix all ingredients together and serve over ice. 


For a batch: 
2-10 oz cans condensed beef broth
15 oz tomato juice
5 oz vodka
big dashes of lemon juice, tabasco sauce, and Worcestershire sauce

Mix all ingredients and chill in the fridge until ready to drink. Serve over ice. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Fashion Challenge: Week 11

As you may have noticed, I'm getting back into the blogging game a little more. I'm working on revamping the site to make it more user friendly, and I've opened up the comments. So feel free, Pattiwagoneers, to post, respond, suggest, recommend, critique. Only when you like stuff though. ;) On with the show! 


Monday (Day 30): 

Today was school picture day, so I wanted to put a little more effort into my look. I opted for my perennial St. Patrick’s Day shirt (gift from dear friend Ellen from Anthropologie), my standby black J. Crew pants, and Malachi shoes. Just send me your orders for school pictures prints. 8x10 glossy, anyone?

Tuesday (Day 31): 

Pattiwagon Original Alert! This is one of the favorite items I have ever made. Unfortunately, I’m posing a little strange in the first picture (shoulders back, girl), so the sweater looks a little tired. I made this several years ago out of two sweaters, and I have enjoyed breaking out every so often. Each time I do, I'm surprised that it's still intact. Maybe I have a little more attention-to-detail in sewing than I give myself credit for. Another pair of standby pants, J. Crew black jeans and black booties (from TJ Maxx, maybe?) on the bottom.


Wednesday (Day 32): 

Hi, first year teacher. I bought this outfit fresh out of college, when I was desperate to seem older than I looked. (Dress is from Target; jacket, Banana Republic; and shoes, Nine West.) That effort is no longer necessary, and this look is not one of my favorites. I haven’t worn the dress in a few years; however, that’s what this fashion challenge is all about. I’m digging in the back of the closet to rediscover some hidden gems. While this may be more of a hidden rock, I broke it out on this October Wednesday.


Thursday (Day 33): 

This October Thursday sees one of my favorite hidden gems from the past, this skirt from high school. It’s either a Delia’s (over the phone) order or an Eastland Mall Wet Seal purchase. It has done me well for the past 16 (!) years, and it’s still going strong. Sadly, Wet Seal can’t say the same. I paired it with a black Target shirt and sweater and Steve Madden/DSW booties.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Busy Busy Booking

I know I took a long sabbatical from posting, but it is wonder that this is my first post about busy booking, as that has been a big part of my crafting over the last couple years and my main source of Pattiwagon revenue (!). I've made eight in total, four for friends and family and four that I've sold. If you or someone you know is interested, hmu. 


Here are the top five reasons I enjoy making them: 
  1. They're just so cute. 
  2. I get to be creative in the designs. No book (or even page) looks the same. 
  3. Nothing is wasted. Tiniest bit of black felt left? That's an eye for a cow. 
  4. They take just enough concentration. I can easily watch tv or listen to podcast while I'm working, but I still feel productive with my time. 
  5. Getting to see them in action. See below for a video of the world's cutest nephew enjoying a "peek-a-boo" page. 













Here is a sampling of some of the finger puppet pages I've done. The Harry Potter puppets are my favorites. 

And finally, nephew pointing out "Pappi." <heart melts>

Monday, October 16, 2017

Weekend Roundup

New motto in the kitchen: Eat for the weather you want, not the weather you have.

Taking that to heart, I did a lot of cooking this weekend. I broke out some cold weather favorites from the Pattiwagon archives.


1. Pot roast*

2. Which became Pattiwagon favorite vegetable soup the next day. Recipe here.


3. Chicken Enchilada Spaghetti Squash. Recipe here


4. Baked oatmeal. This recipe is for carrot cake baked oatmeal, but I subbed the carrots for frozen blueberries and omitted the ginger. 

*Recipe for pot roast consists of browning a chuck roast on the stove, putting said chuck roast in the oven with potatoes, onions, carrots, and a couple cans of spicy V8 and sitting back and relaxing for two hours until it's done. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Window Treatments a la Pattiwagon: Part II

(Note: So this is only four and half years since Part I of the post. For those without a storage unit memory, let me remind you that I made some curtains for my friend Jackie's nursery. You can refresh your memory here.)

I enjoy all of my craftings, but I do not consider myself anywhere close to an expert. My interior design consists of trying to cram as much stuff as possible into my house without looking like a hoarder, which I am not. Promise. I just have a lot of stuff. I love seeing my fingerprints (and those of my family and friends) on so many different pieces in my house. 

Window treatments had been at the bottom of the priority list since I moved in. My house had plain mini-blinds. Ugly and cheap, yes, but they did a fine job of shading and shielding. Last year, however, I got new windows, so I figured it was a fine time for some proper window treatments. 

I did what any good (and frugal) crafter would do; I set out to make my own. Starting off easy (and cheap), I bought some IKEA curtains, which I simply sewed in half and hemmed the bottom to fit two small living room windows. Once those were hung, I removed the mini-blinds and now regularly enjoy the open-curtain and open-window view out of my living room. 




Feeling content (yet not challenged) with my work there, I decided to up my game on my bedroom window treatments and try roman shades. I found this tutorial and armed myself with gray blackout fabric, blackout lining fabric, fabric glue, and cheap mini blinds. That's all you need to DIY! I won't repeat all the instructions, but here a couple photos of the process. Start to finish, the first one took about three hours and the second one about two. 



Sewing Sensei, be sure to check out my mitered corner. I learned from the best. Also, hi, foot. 

Here's the finished look: 






I'm really happy with how they turned out. I do wish that I had made them a little wider to block out more light, but alas, I'm an amateur. Now, I have one window left to treat. I'm thinking a DIY valance. Check back later for Part III, hopefully within three years. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fashion Challenge: Week 10



Tuesday (Day 27): 

Finally broke out the booties on this post-fall break Tuesday. And it felt good. I got these as a Christmas present in NC last year and have loved them since. (Photo does not do their cuteness justice.) I wore them with a belted army green dress from the Targe. I like this look. 

Wednesday (Day 28): 

Calvin Klein "snakeskin" print pants. I'm not sure why I felt compelled to buy these on an outlet mall trip last summer, as animal prints are not really in my fashion repertoire. But, they match well with this black Target top and red Tieks, so perhaps I should open myself up more to the wild side of prints. 

Thursday (Day 29): 

Had planned an outfit of a cute dress and black blazer for this Thursday, but alas, I woke up ten minutes before I had to leave the house. I quickly realized leg hair depilation wasn't going to happen, so I grabbed the first ensemble I could put my hands on. Wide leg (not my fav right now) Old Navy khakis, blue chambray Levis shirt, and a much beloved scarf from my friends Corrie and Michael. On my feet are dark brown Sperrys. Not bad for ten minutes. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fashion Challenge: Week 9

When I started this fashion challenge, I had a lot of confidence that I could find enough outfits because of the seasons changing. Namely, I don't have enough summer outfits to last a full year, but I do have enough to get me into fall. And just enough fall to last until winter, etc. However, I guess I forgot that I live in Memphis in 2017. And apparently we're not having fall this year. (It was 93 yesterday.) I was talking to some friends about this, and my wise (and very fashionable!) friend Erin said, "Dress for the weather you want, not the weather you have." So I took that advice this week and decided all fall despite the 90s on the thermometer. 


Monday (Day 23): 

Military-inspired button-down with a canvas belt, J. Crew pants, and Target mocs. I'm not sure where this shirt came from, but it's been an occasional favorite in my closet for the past several years. 

Tuesday (Day 24): 

Plain gray button-down from Gap, fleece vest from Limited (haven't shopped there since high school...at least it's not Limited Too, my middle school store of choice), and corduroy capris from J. Crew. Paired with Sperry's and a new hair color (!). 

Wednesday (Day 25): 

Bargain Barn alert! This dress is originally from Old Navy, but I didn't have to pay those *exorbitant* prices. No, I found this dress in the Goodwill castoff bins for twenty-five...cents. I discovered this gem a few years ago, and it has been in the rotation every since. I am probably down to less than one cent per wear at this point. It amazes me that no one snatched it up at Goodwill for a whole two dollars, but I'm not complaining. Finds like this keep me going back to the Barn to sift through the dregs. I'm wearing it with black leggings, black Target cardigan, and black Nine West flats. 

Thursday (Day 26): 

Another fall look that would be even cuter with booties. Saving that for the next weekend fall activity. This shirt is from Target (circa 2003) and has a lot going on with it: plaid, pleats, ombre, buttons, and tie back. Somehow I think it all works. (I guess that's why I'm not a professional fashion designer.) I'm wearing it with black skinny jeans and Nine West sandals. 


Sorry for the tardiness of this post, Pattiwagoneers. I was sipping Bourbon in Kentucky with this cool cat. You understand the delay. He's a keeper. 



(To be honest, I did more spitting than sipping. Sorry, Kentucky, please don't disown me. Andy, on the other hand, became an honorary Kentuckian for the weekend: Keeneland, Commonwealth, and Bourbon. Check. Check. Check.)