Biblio-files for July 2016

Books to read, July 2016

I’m finally caught up on book posts!! In a few weeks, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled book posts, once a month. Ahhhhh, it feels good. July was a really sad month for reading. I read less than I have in years, because you know…moving. I don’t think I even picked up a book when I got into bed most of the month, I was that tired. We also didn’t have normal book club in July so there was not a book required for that, BUT I did join a second one that I’m excited about! I still hardly read though, so we’ll keep it short and sweet* and skip the superlatives.

1. Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran. As I have become more and more into historical fiction, I have been finding that I really enjoy certain authors of the genre. Moran is in the top 5 right now. She is an incredibly descriptive writer and I loved this book. I felt transported to ancient Rome and enjoyed it throughly. If you’re looking for a book to read I suggest this one first.

2. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards. I’ve had this book on my “to read” shelf for years and never really gave it much thought, but this was an excellent book. Engaging and well written, I loved the story. This is number two for my what to read suggestion, if you’re not into historical fiction, it moves up to one.

3. The Moon In The Palace by Weina Dai Randel. My new book club is focused entirely on historical fiction. We picked this book as our first and it was also the authors first. Perhaps reading this on the heels of a Moran book is unfair, but her descriptions fell short. By the end it was getting better, and as this is book one of two parts, she was perhaps holding back for a reason. I’ll read the second book, but am not in a rush, especially where there are authors out there who I can’t wait to read more of.

**In my biblio-files I write about what I thought and felt about the book, in the style that if I ran into and you said you needed a book to read, and asked what have I been reading, this is what I would say. To find out the plot or what is written on the back, simply look it up on amazon, good reads or at your favorite book store!

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Bathroom Selfies Vol. I

Bathroom: Shake Shack on South Lamar, Austin TX. December 22, 2015
Bathroom: Shake Shack on South Lamar, Austin TX. December 22, 2015

Last winter I started taking phone photos of myself in bathrooms around Austin. The first one was due to matching the bathroom. The second, because I looked cute in my out-on-the-town outfit. Some were to remember how beautiful the bathrooms were. Some were to mark the occasion. Over 6 months, there were only 10 shots taken, so by no means have I done this is every bathroom I’ve been in, but mainly because I didn’t know what to do with the photos yet. Last week, I finally started an IG account separate from Manic Trout and it’s given me the freedom to post things like Bathroom Selfies. So I hope to continue the series. I’ve honestly been really into bathroom design since I was really little so this feels pretty awesome.

Bathroom: Vince Youngs Steakhouse, Downtown Austin, TX. January 4th, 2016.
Bathroom: Vince Youngs Steakhouse, Downtown Austin, TX. January 4th, 2016.

 

Bathroom: South Austin Dentists Office on South Lamar, Austin TX. January 6th, 2016.
Bathroom: South Austin Dentists Office on South Lamar, Austin TX. January 6th, 2016.

 

Bathroom: Jeffrey's in Clarksville, Austin TX. March 22nd, 2016.
Bathroom: Jeffrey’s in Clarksville, Austin TX. March 22nd, 2016.

 

Bathroom: Juliet Ristorante on Barton Springs, Austin TX. April 26th, 2016.
Bathroom: Juliet Ristorante on Barton Springs, Austin TX. April 26th, 2016.

 

Bathroom: Launderette on Holly St, Austin TX. May 6th, 2016.
Bathroom: Launderette on Holly St, Austin TX. May 6th, 2016.

 

Bathroom: South Congress Hotel, Austin TX. May 23rd, 2016.
Bathroom: South Congress Hotel, Austin TX. May 23rd, 2016.

 

Bathroom: Elizabeth St Cafe on South 1st St with Laura Noel, Austin TX. May 24th, 2016.
Bathroom: Elizabeth St Cafe on South 1st St with Laura Noel, Austin TX. May 24th, 2016.

 

Bathroom: Hotel Saint Cecilia, Austin TX. May 25th, 2016.
Bathroom: Hotel Saint Cecilia, Austin TX. May 25th, 2016.

 

Bathroom: Portable Restroom Trailer at a wedding in Quogue, Southampton NY. June 18th, 2016.
Bathroom: Portable Restroom Trailer at a wedding at a residence in Quogue, Southampton NY. June 18th, 2016.
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Behind the scenes: the process of releasing a new collection

This is the workbench in the middle of sample making. I am not a messy person, but at this stage, chaos is part of the process!
This is the workbench in the middle of sample making. I am not a messy person, but at this stage, chaos is part of the process!

Ever wondered what goes into a new collection after it’s designed but before it’s released?

The FW16 Collection will be arriving in just a couple of short weeks. The arrival marks when you are able to purchase the jewelry from ManicTrout.com. The reality is that the jewelry in this collection was designed months ago, the samples have been made and there has already been a preview party at West Elm here in Austin!

Today I wanted to share with you some of the in progress shots of what happens before a collection makes its official online debut.

An in progress shot of one of the new designs. I spy Tigers Eye! 
An in progress shot of one of the new designs. I spy Tigers Eye!

I typically begin designing a collection about a year to nine months before the official release date (when it’s available to the public online). I start with drawings, doodles, notes and lots of research on what colors, animals, gemstones and price points I’ll be working with. Once I have the designs down, I make samples (enough to have in the studio and send off to press), photograph each piece multiple ways and create line sheets. The line sheets are submitted to the press and to stores months ahead of time so I try to be quick to get those done after the samples and photos are finished. I also schedule to have a lifestyle photo shoot done if I want that style campaign for that season.

Stunning sodalite.
Stunning sodalite.

Sometimes things don’t always go as planned and there are always delays for random reasons. Or for designer gush moments like when the gemstones I’m considering for a new collection start to arrive, it sometimes changes the direction I was headed when I see them in person. An excellent example of this happened with these Sodalite stones. They are so incredible in person and more beautiful than I thought they would be that I decided they needed a different animal than I had planned. This threw everything off and I found myself redesigning part of the collection late in the game. It made everything a bit hectic but it was a great decision and the necklace with these stones is so lovely!

Outfit post teasers with pieces from the new collection!
Outfit post teasers with pieces from the new collection!

During this time, after the samples are made and before the collection debuts I take photos, I most importantly…wear the jewelry. This is a key step as I need to make sure each piece is comfortable, looks good and wears well. It also gives me a chance to get feedback from people. There are some pieces in this collection that I’m already obsessed with after wearing them!

FW16_BTS_04
Our table for the Preview Party at West Elm in Austin.

For this collection I tried something new that went so well, I hope to continue the tradition. I had a Preview Party here in Austin! Saturday afternoon, I set up at the West Elm on 5th St and brought the FW16 Collection to preview along with a few favorite pieces for those instant gratification shoppers. I asked my friend Kelly to join me as she is launching a handbag company this fall, Festival Bag Co. and our products go great together. It was a fun way to meet new people and get feedback on what pieces caught the eyes of shoppers.

With Kelly Weeks, designer and owner of Festival Bag Co.
With Kelly Weeks, designer and owner of Festival Bag Co.

The last part of the process will be to create the copy for the website and do all of the coding. I release a collection first on ManicTrout.com and then on sites that I also sell on, Modalyst, Etsy Wholesale, Etsy, Amazon Handmade, Aftcra and a few others. I will also be sharing images on social media throughout this time. After the release, I will continue to pitch to the press, stores and influencers for a few weeks before my focus moves onto the next collection. I release quarterly collections, so I am always working on three to four collections at a time at different stages.

I am so pleased that I put myself out there and tried something new with this release! The Preview Party was so much fun and the FW16 Collection was so well received that it made me super excited to share the new collection with you in its full glory in a few weeks. I can’t wait!!

Thank you for learning about the process of releasing a collection with me!

{As I’m making you wait, it’s only fair that I spoil you a bit: so please enjoy 25% off site wide through August 26th with code backtoschool at checkout.}

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I’d be happy if you’d DI-Try

DITry

When we moved into our new house, we inherited ceiling fans and lights that required reading a manual to operate them. Thank goodness for google as I have spent many nights in bed downloading and reading pdfs on operating these mysterious marvels. At first, I was so overwhelmed with unpacking and decorating that I tried to get Adam to handle it but I kid you not, he actually looked at me as we tried to figure out how to open one of them up to change a bulb, and suggested that we should call a professional. To change a lightbulb. I recalled the post I did about our tasks in our relationship and that I am in charge of these things and immediately fired him from the job.  So that is how I ended up reading manuals on lighting fixtures. You know, it’s a good thing I did, most of them are pretty fancy and were obviously picked out by someone who enjoys life made better by technology. The fans are all operated by buttons on the wall and have 6 speed settings and light dimmers involved. I doubt I would have figured that or the crazy different bulbs for each one without it and have enjoyed using them in full functioning glory.

It’s interesting owning a home with someone and seeing what they think they can do themselves. I grew up with a mom who was single through my teens and who was a beast with doing stuff herself and taught us all to be the same. We all had to climb down in the well and change fuses and could use all tools with ease. What’s really interesting is that my sister and I both married men who had dads who were crazy DIYers but neither of our husbands seem to think they are able to do anything without calling for help. When we first moved in, I balked that he made us hire a plumber to hook up the gas dryer, but I understand his fear with gas. We also had an electrician come and do a long list of things that involved drilling holes in walls and wiring that was overwhelming to us. Besides that though, I’m of camp DIY when you own a house, in less it would take me so long to do something that its cheaper to hire out than use my time. We’ve talked about this and Adam likes the idea of being a Mr. Fix it like his Dad was, so I have been giving him pep talks and telling him to find youtube videos to figure stuff out. I am proud to say that he has been fixing things outside and he’s been working on his own motorcycle and even built a box thing for skateboarding with this new confidence. All I’ve asked is that he at least DI-Try before he calls for help and it’s amazing what he can do!

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Top 5 Favorite Things Right Now

Shoe boxes in action in the studi
Shoe boxes in action in the studio

I enjoyed my Top 5 Favorite Things so much a few weeks ago, that I have decided to do it again. That’s the beauty of having your own blog after all, you share whatever you want.

1. Jelly hair elastics. I have been using these for a few years and feel that it is my duty as a person with fine long hair who is athletic to bring these up. These things do. not. move. You can jump up and down, run for miles, punch and kick shit and get soaked with sweat and your ponytail will be right where you left it. They are not the easiest to remove as you can’t just pull it off your ponytail, and instead have to unwind it, but no big deal. I bought mine at the grocery store, but Amazon has them too. (Scunci No-slip Grip Evolution Jelly Ponytailers)

2. Crime shows. I have yet to meet one that I did’t love. I actually screamed in excitement yesterday when I saw that there was a new season of NCIS on Netflix. I have watched probably most of the shows out there, but am always looking for suggestions for new ones. I have a few days coming up where I will have to lay low on the couch and take it easy so I’m currently trying to prep myself with good tv…well, you know what I mean.

3. Jicama Tortillas. My gal pal Cyndie brought these to book club to go with her epic cuban pork and holy moly, they’re amazing! They don’t crack/rip/break as you’d think they would, are crisp, delicious (I have a crazy crush on jicama) and really good for you compared to a real tortilla. I’m not sure if other states have them but we have them at HEB here in Texas in the produce section and I HIGHLY recommend you try them.

4. The Container Store shoe boxes. I bought 2 cases for my studio when we moved and I’m ready to order a few more cases. They are great for organizing, well made and cheaper than most boxes this size. I heart them.

5. Magic Erasure. I have been using these for years and years and every single time I use one, I agree that it’s magic. Every house should have one on hand so you can experience it’s magic powers.

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Biblio-files for June 2016

Books_June2016

The amount I had been reading vastly slowed down in June when I had a week long vacation with my mom and sisters that I talked the entire time during and was therefore too tired to read more then a few pages when I got into bed. This was followed immediately by one week of the most intense packing of my life as we had a quick closing and were leaving a rental, so I spent every waking moment working or packing. Speaking of which, I’m really looking forward to the day (hopefully soon) when I no longer feel compelled to talk about packing any longer. Also during that month we did tedtalks for our book club so I didn’t have a random book from that either. I still managed to read some great books though!

1. Cherry by Mary Karr – There’s a reason this woman is the queen of biography writing. I bought this a bit ago, but it had been on my amazon list for years. I hadn’t yet read Liars’ Club and didn’t want to read them out of order and I for some reason kept forgetting to buy it. The after it arrived, I knew it would be amazing so I held out for a little while, saving it. I was glad I waited as that book was fantastic. I then help out on Cherry for a while as I knew it would be great and again I saved it for when I knew I could really enjoy it. It did not disappoint. It’s wonderful. Raw, well written and full of teenage angst. I highly recommend it, but start with The Liars’ Club, as they’re chronological.

2. Call of The Midwife Volume 2: Shadows of The Workhouse by Jennifer Worth. It took me a bit to get as engrossed in this one as I was in the first volume. But by the end of it, I was wishing it wasn’t over. The format was a bit different, but it was still wonderful. It was darker than the first and explored in greater depth the poverty in postwar London, and it was excellent. I love this series and need to order the 3rd.

3. Schroder by Amity Gaige – I’ll admit that the back perhaps over sold this one a bit. It was ok, not the one on the list to run out and buy, especially with the others I read this month. It was one of the books that I have to look at for a few moments and then maybe a read a page or two to recall what it was about. I may have read it while exhausted though so it may not be a fair assessment. An ok story but nothing that I think you ‘d miss if you skipped it.

4. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield – This was a highly engaging book. The more I begin to recall from it, the more I remember how much I liked it. Excellent story, descriptive and really entertaining. The best option here if you need a beach or plane book to keep you engrossed.

5. Pour Your Heart Into It by Howard Schultz – This book made me LOVE Starbucks as a company. Seriously, it made me obsessed. I wish I could follow Howard Schultz around and shadow him at work for a year. It’s his story about how he came to own, transform and grow Starbucks. It was written in 1997 though, so it’s not the Starbucks we know at this point but there is one that continues on from that time, which I cannot wait to read. I love that company. I believe it was one of the first to be considered a conscious capitalism company and what a mission that was! If you enjoy business biographies and have not read this yet, it’s a must!!

Superlatives for the May list

Most likely to tell you to read if I saw you in person: Pour Your Heart Into It
Most likely to enjoy on a plane or beach: The Thirteenth Tale
Most likely make you want to read all of the others books by the author: Call of The Midwife Volume 2: Shadows of The Workhouse
Least likely to put down: Cherry
Least likely to recommend: Schroder

*In my biblio-files I write about what I thought and felt about the book, in the style that if I ran into and you said you needed a book to read, and asked what have I been reading, this is what I would say. To find out the plot or what is written on the back, simply look it up on amazon, good reads or at your favorite book store!

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Finding the time for what we love

Reading

I have mentioned before about stolen time, and how I declared that when I wanted to find the time to read more, I did. Today I wanted to elaborate on that and explain how I did it and what inspired me. It started when this past winter, I asked myself why I felt that taking the time to do my favorite thing, read, felt like such a guilty pleasure. My entire life, I have read before bed. But oddly, anything more than that felt like I was not being productive, which is weird as reading is much more productive than for example, watching TV. It became obvious that I needed to both give myself permission to have me time and find the time to do it. Then I thought about an awesome conversation I had had with my grandmother a few years ago.

My grandmother Joanne is an amazing woman. She has done more with her life than most people put together and although getting quite up there in years, she’s still going strong. It started when we were talking about her resistance to facebook. She avoids it as she feel there are only so many years left and so much she wants to accomplish in those years. If facebook entered her life, her fear is that  she would waste so much time on it that her goals would not be met. This was my first deep nugget of awesomeness from this conversation: I spend too much time on facebook. Then she told me about how when she was younger, had 5 kids under the age of 10 and was helping my grandfather run his business, she decided she wanted to write a book. So she found the time to do it. Getting up every day 2 hours before everyone in her family, she wrote her book. My grandmother found the time somehow to get the thing she wanted done and she then kept going. So lesson two was that if I wanted to do something badly enough, I could find the time…I mean really, I already had 5 less children in my own quest!

With these thoughts in my head, I sought out to steal back lost time from myself. First by granting myself the permission to do so. If I want to be happy and healthy, I need to make sure that my brain and body are exercised. So I made it a priority to give myself the time every day to read, work out and cook. Besides giving myself the time to do these things, they do not have to be what I cross off my list when I need extra time. The things that I do that do nothing for me in return are the things that needed to go. For me, these are watching tv (with the exception of during production in the studio) and checking up on things online for hours without actually doing anything. The amount of time I can waste re-checking stats, facebook, email, twitter and on and on is shocking. I started paying attention to when I was mindlessly doing either of these things (and not enjoying either of them) and would consciously get up and go read instead. I scheduled my workouts for 5 days a week and joined a kickboxing gym so I would have to answer to my trainer and my new workout bff (Hi Heidi!!) if I wasn’t there. I set aside time to cook at the very least dinner every night and I started paying attention to when I was mindlessly eating.

You know what happened? I went from reading 4 books a month to 10-12. I lost 45lbs and now have a visible 6 pack. I found a love for non fiction and historical fiction and have greatly expanded my knowledge on a few subjects I was really interested in. I’m still blown away with how much time I have to do these things and I’m not missing at all what they replaced. I’m not writing this to say that you should read more or not watch tv or anything like that. I just wanted to share how I felt like I was missing out on the things that made me happy and with a little tweaking to my life, discovered that I did in fact have the time for all of it. It’s one of the things I’ve done in a long time that I’m the most proud of as it’s made me prioritize what’s important and I feel so much better for it. Thank you to my grandmother (whom I call Ga) for the inspiration. It’s pretty cool what we can do when we set our minds to something!

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Time for Two

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We were talking to friends of ours with kids recently about date nights and we all joked that when you’re married without kids, its always date night. Unfortunately, it also means that you probably take it for granted. We of course enjoy the occasional, get dressed up and make a night of dinner out, but it happens as rarely for us as probably does people with kids. Much of the reason is due to Adam being in hospitality and my being self employed, so most nights we don’t see each other at all. It’s funny, I can always tell when it’s been too long since we’ve had a good dose of together time because Adam gets clingy and wants my attention constantly and I go the opposite route and retreat further into an island of one. To try and avoid this, on the nights we are home together we always eat at the dining room table, but it’s not a long meal and we’re both guilty of being on social media much of dinner as it’s rare downtime for both of us. We used to have these quick, under an hour dessert dates but once I gave up sugar, we were sort of at a loss about what should replace those mini dates. After we moved we came up with the idea to fit in an activity in the evening together. If it’s nice out and we’re both home, we go to the pool or walk the dogs. It’s actually better than eating together as we actually talk to each other without phones or food in the way and we are both happier when active. The days when the evenings are full are more the problem. If Adam is home, I’m working and not always able to just drop everything to hang out. We sometimes try to squeeze in a lunch, but it’s tough. I’m hoping that when the weather cools down (and it’s not raining, we seem to have one or the other this year!) we can fit in more day walks with the dogs. What do you do to spend one on one time with your significant other? We’re always on the lookout for fun things to do that do not involve eating, alcohol or kids where we can actually talk to each other. It’s harder than you think to find them!

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Style Diaries: July 2016

A few months ago, I decided to begin documenting what I wore. Nothing fancy, when I actually put some effort into getting dressed, I’d simply snap a few photos in the mirror and off I’d go. What I discovered were 2 things. 1. That even though I have been expanding my style and trying new things, I tend to wear the same outfits a lot. 2. There are not many times in a month that I put any effort into what I’m wearing. Some of it recently was due to moving and the chaos of all of that, but much of it is that I am in a bad rut of work at home-itis. I get up, pull on a pair of basically pj shorts that I have a stack of from GapBody, a t-shirt, my house shoes and throw my hair in a pony tail. I change into work out clothes in the afternoon, and then it’s back to loungewear. I’m kind of over it,  but at the same time, I’m in the studio all day and it’s not that I’m getting all dirty, but making jewelry can be kind of rough on clothes. I also don’t want to dry clean dresses that I wear around the house, so I need to think on this, but some effort needs to be made.

In an effort towards some style accountability, I gathered the photos I had for July. I am keeping in mind that I was moving and unpacking for the first two weeks as we closed on the 1st and then I was on an island for almost a week at the end of the month, so the opportunity to put on an “outfit” was diminished for the month. It’s still a pretty sad showing. I only put on real clothes 8 times. Eight! August is off to a worse start and I was only away for 3 days of it. I’m hoping that writing this will act as an awakening of sorts, as I of course sit here writing this in lounge wear. But at the very least I need to go back to scheduling things out of the house, it forces me to get dressed at least a few times a week that way.

I also want to note that I do not suggest that I should get dressed because I have to, or I should or any other social pressure. I say this because I love to get dressed up. Obviously as I am in fashion, I enjoy participating in the ritual of choosing and wearing outfits. I miss feeling pulled together and stylish and want to go back to how I typically spend my time. I also read so often that if you work at home, you can try and stay somewhat dressed for work so it helps you separate work life from home life easier. I like that idea a great deal as well and now I’m feeling pretty motivated to do so, let’s see how I do!

July 13th – Date Night

Outfir_July_13th_2016

July 18th – Errands and Lunch Date

Outfir_July_18th_2016

July 21st – Academy of Handmade Austin Chapter Event

Outfit_July_21st_2016

July 22nd – Lunch with Kelly W

Outfit_July_22nd_2016

July 22nd – Ashley & Trent Birthday Party

Outfit_July_22nd_2_2016

July 23rd – Errands

Outfit_July_23rd_2016

July 25th – Coffee with Kelly C in the morning and AbFab with Cyndie in the evening

Outfit_July_25th_2016

July 29th – Dinner with Adam & Gretchen

Outfit_July_29th_2016

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Embracing the slow

time

I’m trying something new this year. The three weeks that are my slowest of the year are here, and I’ve just been going with it. This is not easy. Every inch of me wants to freak out that it’s slow. However, two years ago, Adam had enough of my annual spaz out over the slow time and reminded me that it happens every year, so I needed to learn to deal with it. I’m trying, I swear I am. I’ll admit that this year was a little different as I went on vacation for a week, came home, packed, moved, unpacked and then went away again for almost a week. So I was exhausted going into it and may not have cared as much. But now that I’ve rested a bit, I’m officially to the point where I need to be going with it. Yesterday I realized that being a bit more productive during the slow time would be beneficial, but I apparently have two speeds…balls to the wall and stop. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in my studio every day working, but I’m by no means going above and beyond what needs to get done. There were no huge projects accomplished last week. But I’m ok with that. I can’t really expect to both not freak out AND use this time well…that’s just crazy talk!

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