Sunday, August 30, 2015

San Gabriel Mountains

Ladies and gentlemen, it is HOT in Los Angeles.

I know, I know, I initially scoffed that Californians don't really understand hot. They haven't lived in the southeast where the temperatures top 98 degrees and are accompanied by an 80% humidity ratio. On days like these the heat cannot be escaped by dipping into the shade and the air is so heavy it is like breathing through a wet washcloth.

Heat in California means something different. Just look at that sky: endless blue. Which essentially equates to zero cloud coverage. The sun is just so powerful, blazing relentlessly, heating up the rocky earth and radiating from the ground and shriveled plant life. And it is sunny everyday.

It was on a day like this that Justin suggested we drive to the San Gabriel mountains.

We cruised up the freeway with the sun chasing us the entire way, soaking into the black interior of his old-school Porsche. The only relief was the rush of air through open windows and the beads of water sweating off my water bottle. Our skin was covered in a sheen of sweat and my hair was starting to stick to my forehead and neck as we entered into the Angeles National forest and started to climb.

It blows my mind that I live less than an hour from views like this. It is a long shot from the verdant sloping hills in Kentucky. Here is a beauty that no longer depends on foliage and waves of vibrant grass, but rather is about absence.  

All around you is sky and air, broken by the jutting peaks, rocky cliffs, and spiny shadows of plants. Gone is the constant rush of traffic; the only sound is that of the wind. The roads are like ribbons of black tarmac winding themselves around the crests of mountains, barley contained by sandy shoulders. Succulents, cacti, and ghostly pines sit like lonely sentinels along the roadside. 

It sounds romantic, but boob sweat is not. And that was the price I had to pay. 

I will take a moment to talk about the dress I am wearing. I am absolutely in love with it. It is sewn using McCall's M6558. I used dress pattern "B" and modified to make it above the knee length instead of maxi. I deeply <3 off-the-shoulder dresses. It like showing skin but in an off-hand, bohemian way.

It is such a comfy dress, with an elastic waist and all those floaty layers. The fabric is a lovely navy polyester blend covered in tiny daisies. It is very light, feminine and flirty with the way the wind teases the ruching at the hemline. It probably took about three hours to make and I have worn it a million times. 

In other news, yeah, Justin and I don't take selfies well together. Goofy meets clueless.

Despite the heat, I wouldn't trade our time in the San Gabriel mountains. It was undeniably gorgeous. Sometimes after I visit an especially beautiful place, I dream about it later. Last night I dreamt about the San Gabriel mountains. I heard the roar of the flat six, felt the engine vibrating through my seat, and watched the nose of the car hug the corners of the road where it met the cliff. Everything was sandy tones of green and amber. 

And it felt like waking up.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Abalone Shoreline Cove

Sea caves.
Tide pools.

To me, these are magical words.
Such descriptions evoke images of azure waters, marine life, and the glory of exploration. It was rallied with these thoughts that Justin, Danielle, and I set off to experience the many delights of Abalone Shoreline Cove.

I will be honest. 
We went into this adventure blind.

And thus, a variety of road blocks met us at the get-go. But it didn't matter to us that the parking lot was already closed for the day or that we were all still dressed in the clothes we wore to church, we were determined. Can you blame us?

It took us 20 fitful minutes to find street parking, another 20 to wind our way down the steep and cactus-ridden trail to the coastline, and a final ten minutes to reach the point of access to the tide pools. Once there, we quickly realized that the route to the tide pools was already under water thanks to the impending tide. 

Here is when I say I so love my husband and sister-in-law. 
Only they would be game to follow me at this point. 

Armed with the leadership of a kind stranger, we waded hip-deep into ocean water, clung by our finger tips to a rocky cliff edge, and made leaps of faith across churning chasms in the sea. We were tested, brutally, in our agility and athleticism. 

At one point I was carried by a stranger.

But let me tell you, it was so worth it.

Sea anemones, coral, crabs, sea gulls, crashing waves, and luke-warm ocean water around our ankles. It was blissful. Fishermen who had braved the trail to the tide pools sat on the rocky rim amidst frothy waves to cast their lines. Children giggled and splashed in the shallow water, and aquamarine grottos glittered in the cliffside.

And thanks to these crazy kids, I can say I have never experienced anything quite like it.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Venice Beach

It's Saturday again.
Thank goodness.

Weekend = freedom

The weekend is a time to let your hair down, sip basil gimlets on the back patio, and explore the wild and wonderful sights LA has to offer. This weekend is all the more sweet and special because my gorgeous and fun sister-in-law has joined me. And because Mr. Justin Jones has 3 days off to spend at home. 

So because I have a guest...and a burning desire to explore all Los Angeles has to offer, we elected to brave the vicious snarl of traffic and set off to Venice Beach Boulevard.

Venice Beach was originally dreamt up and constructed by developer Abbot Kinney. Thank you Mr. Kinney for setting a vision that was both whimsical and wild at the same time. Imagine this: the brilliant sun overhead, sparkling off towering palm trees and tented vendor's shops while around you throngs of busy laughing people whirl by on bikes, skateboards, and, in some cases, glittery purple ice-pick heels. The crowds range from Midwestern tourists to dreadlocked locals in flowered swim trunks. There are shops for tattoos and churros around every corner, and the air is full of the scent of sea breeze and cinnamon with occasional wafts of Lady Jane.  

Venice Beach is all luxurious white sandy beaches, ripped jean shorts, bikinis, and street art. It is energy and color woven into a multi-ethic and linguistic tapestry of motion. The air was thick with vibrations from the pounding beat of the drum circle and people wove, danced, and moon-booted their way along the street. With artists, hipsters, hippies, and fashionistas a like it offers a truly Californian experience. 

While ambling along the boulevard, avoiding skateboarders and trying not to trip over people's dogs, I rocked one of my current creations: a red striped dress with asymmetrical hemline. 

The dress is made from a stretch jersey cotton in a cherry red with white pin striping. It was shamelessly inspired by an urban outfitters dress. It is a simple shift dress with short sleeves, a scoop back, and contrasting line of stripes to accent the asymmetrical front hem. The urban outfitters version was a body-con dress but I have made mine a bit more forgiving. It seriously took me less than 2 hours to make and I love to wear it. The color currently matches my sunburn. C'est la vie.

It was the perfect dress for a sunny afternoon of people watching and photo snapping. Justin wouldn't let me take one with the 6 foot yellow python, but here is one of me with Lisa the international swimsuit model and her creepy owner. 

I absolutely love people. I love the energy you experience when tons of people from different walks of life join together in a common interest. Venice beach has its own language of singularity, embracing the bizarre, young, and old. With the marketeers selling everything from sugar skulls to two-headed turtles, it made me wish I had another set of eyes to take in all the sights. 

Thanks Danielle for donating extra pics!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

A View from Above

 Week one has come to a close.

The last week of July was also my first week of living solely in Long Beach. It has been a week of dichotomies, being both stressful and empty, quiet and eventful.

The stress is mainly work related, therefore making it both tedious and frustrating. The emptiness comes from the absence of one Mr. Justin Jones who is busy learning the ins and outs of the Embraer 175. The quiet is my life once I get home from work, and the eventful involves mini-tornados of kids at work, a gas leak in the kitchen, lizards in the house, and LA traffic.

Week one down.

Regardless of the drama, or lack of it, I have made it through one week. I have been briefly reunited with my love and gotten the opportunity to explore more of this fascinating city.

Over the weekend Justin and I have been on the search for excellent driving roads, scenic overlooks, and local dives. We spent Saturday in the Belmont Shore and 2nd Street area of Long Beach, exploring darling little boutiques, popping into creperies and pizza parlors, and lounging around our beachy bungalow drinking wine. This Sunday we drove to Rancho Palos Verdes to enjoy gorgeous views from the hilly roadsides.

I feel like I am on a never-ending vacation.

Despite the daily forays into work, the boundless sunshine and energetic hustle of the city leave me feeling like I am on an endless summer vacation. Californians don't know how good they have it. My co-workers complain about the scorching heat (85 degrees in the sun, 66 in the evening), the terrible humidity (50%), and the possibility of rain (maybe <1 inch in the next month). Those of us Kentucky bred know better.

But this post isn't just about my latest California experiences (as wild as they may be), but also to showcase my latest sewing creation: a tie-front dress with cut-out.

Those of you who have been following my blog may remember a dress very similar to this one from last year. This tie-front dress was my first attempt, wrought with poorly installed zippers, uneven darting, and an awkwardly shaped bodice. Needless to say, it needed to be re-vamped.

This latest version has an elastic waist, gathered detailing on the back bodice, side pockets, and a much more functional front-tying bodice. I used my favourite dress pattern to create the front and back bodices, HEAVILY modifying the style to create the front-ties. I used the same skirt from the pattern, using the elastic to create gathers rather than the typical pleats.

The fabric is a polyester blend in a ditsy floral pattern that I find so appealing. I am in *love* with subtle little florals. It says feminine without being overpowering. This fabric was from my local Hancock's Fabrics back in Louisville, KY. I am so excited to check out the fabric stores here in LA. It's lucky my closet is bigger, because I foresee many a new sewing project in my future. 

This dress is light and breezy, simple yet girly, with just enough skin to whisper hello. It looks cute in everything from flats to chunky heeled clogs, and is appropriate for ambling along the beach or drinking margaritas alfresco. Basically a must-love.

I want to take a moment to thank a few people. Thank you dad for all your support and wisdom that you have lavished upon Justin and me. Thanks mom for listening to my semi-hysterical phone calls and all of your prayers. And thanks to my bestie Sarah who must have the gift of foresight, because that jar of Nutella you gave me has saved my life.

Dress: self-made, shoes: DSW, necklace: Etsy