HomemadeBanana | Making things beautiful.

DIY Bust Bud Vase

Sometimes DIY projects flop, and sometimes they turn out even better you thought they would. Now, I’m definitely no sculptor, so please don’t judge these against the work of real artists. That being said, I’m pretty darn happy with how these a-little-bit-naughty-a-little-bit-nice busts turned out. I got the idea for these saucy tchotchkes after spying a vintage bust vase on the perfectly styled dresser of Sara over at Emily Henderson’s obsession-worthy blog. I was hoping to click my way right to a purchase, but after Sara noted it was a vintage piece, I thought I’d do the next-best thing: make one myself.

Admittedly, mine’s not as…shall we say, polished…but I’m sort of into the imperfect charm of my handmade version. And yes, it took a few tries to get the shape right (it turns out it’s not so easy to sculpt perky-but-non-vulgar boobies on the first try), but overall this project was super easy. All you have to do is sculpt a couple of busts while you’re finishing an episode of American Crime Story, pop them in the oven while you watch another episode (even though you should be going to bed), paint a few red dots then slap on a coat of clear varnish and you’ve got yourself a miniature vase. Or matchstick holder. Or place to corral bobby pins on your bedside table. The possibilities are endless—as long as they involve things small in scale. What can I say? I love miniatures!

For this project, you’ll need the following:
• one 8 oz. block of white Sculpey oven-back clay, 2 oz. blocks of yellow and hot pink Sculpey oven-back clay
• red acrylic paint
• Sculpey Gloss Glaze
• X-acto knife

1. To make the perfect shade of soft pink, start with a big block of white clay (for reference, I used about 4 oz. of white clay for the large bust, and about 2 oz. for the small bust. Then, shave off about a pea-sized chunk of yellow and pink clay. Make a long snake out of the white, pink and yellow clay, then roll them all together. Keep rolling and twisting and kneading until all three colors are totally combined. At this point, if you want to tweak the color at all, you can add more pink or yellow clay and mix it in.

2. Once you’re happy with the color, roll the clay into a rounded rectangle that’s just a little bit taller than the finished height you’re looking for.

3. Using the X-acto knife, shave off some of the bottom so that you have a nice, flat surface so your vase won’t wobble at all when you’re done.

4. Now’s the time to put your sculpting cap on. Using your fingers and whatever tools you have laying around (I dragooned a bobby pin and a kitchen knife into service) to form an approximation of the female form. Once you’re happy with the shape, use the X-acto knife and a small spoon to scoop out an inch or two of the innards, depending on how big your bust is.

5. Pop that sucker in the oven and bake according to the instructions on the clay package.

6. After the bust cools, use a small paintbrush to dot the nips and belly button with bright red paint. A little goes a long way here.

7. Once the red paint dries completely, go over the whole bust with a coat of the gloss glaze and you’re good to go!



Trendspotting: The Statement Strap

via // via

We know that the mind of Karl Lagerfeld contains many magical and mysterious things: glamour shots of his beloved Choupette, images of perfectly stacked bookshelves, chocolate sculptures of beautiful men and little furry monsters.  And now, we can add statement handbag straps covered in candy-colored studs to that wonderful list. I first encountered the Fendi Strap You collection at work and immediately thought three things:

1. I want that. 2. I obviously can’t spend $1,000 on a strap that doesn’t even come with a bag to clip it to. 3. It’s only a matter of time before this concept trickles its way down to us non-heiresses. As of now, Marc Jacobs and Rebecca Minkoff are offering affordable takes on the statement strap (both of which are pictured below), but until the fast-fashion world catches up, here are a few of my favorite designer takes on this trend to watch.

kenzojw-andersonfendimarc-jacobsmiu-miuloewedolce-gabbanafendi-karlitoversaceguccirebecca-minkoffvalentinoburberrythe-rowpradamarniKenzo // J.W. Anderson // Fendi // Marc Jacobs // Miu Miu // Loewe // Dolce & Gabbana // Fendi Karlito // Versace // Gucci // Rebecca Minkoff // Valentino // Burberry // The Row // Prada // Marni

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Clothing, Style

Polka Dot Jumpsuit

zara-polka-dot-jumpsuit-11 zara-polka-dot-jumpsuit-2 zara-polka-dot-jumpsuit-3 zara-polka-dot-jumpsuit-4 zara-polka-dot-jumpsuit-5 zara-polka-dot-jumpsuit-6 zara-polka-dot-jumpsuit-7 zara-polka-dot-jumpsuit-1
Jumpsuit: Zara (sold out, similar here) // Cardigan: Target // Hat: Target (old, similar) // Shoes: Zara (old, similar) // Bag: Forever 21 (old, similar) // Sunglasses: Prada // Bracelet: Kate Spade // Watch: Michael Kors

This polka-dot jumpsuit was a last-minute purchase at Zara. My sister and I were doing some speed shopping on my last trip down to San Antonio, and as we were running to the registers to check out, I plucked this little number off the sale rack and bought it without trying it on. Sometimes these things are just fated.

I love the tied waist that adds structure to the silhouette. I love the wide flowing legs and, of course, I love the polka dots. When the weather gets hot, I’ll style this puppy with some strappy sandals and not much else, but for now I’m happy to toss on a lightweight cardigan and my favorite lace-up heels for a look that’s equally at home at work and on a Sunday afternoon stroll through small town Iowa.

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DIY Tassel Napkins

diy-tassel-napkins-5There are some things demanded by the well-appointed life that just always seem to be overpriced: custom framing, area rugs and table linens—specifically cloth napkins. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for beautiful napkins at vintage stores and on sale racks.

I picked up these ivory napkins with geometric woven texture and gold stitching for about three bucks apiece at Anthropologie a few months ago, and while they’re beautiful as is, I decided to spruce them up with a bit of color. So I turned to my go-to embellishment du jour: the tassel. They’re easy to make in a range of rich colors, and they add a touch of playful texture to these fairly simple napkins.

diy-tassel-napkins-1diy-tassel-napkins-2For this project, you’ll need the following:
• cloth napkins of your choice (I picked these up on sale at Anthro, but these are very similar)
• embroidery thread
• needle and thread
• small piece of cardboard

diy-tassel-napkins-91. Start by making 16 tassels for each napkin. You can make them all the same color, or you can do what I did and make four each of different shades of one color for a subtle ombré effect.

2. To make the tassels, start with a piece of cardboard cut to the desired length of your finished tassels (mine are about an inch long), then wrap the embroidery thread around the cardboard 18 times.

3. Cut a 6″ piece of embroidery thread and slip it through the top loops of the wrapped thread. Tie it tightly twice then take the long ends and pull them down on either side of the tassel. Slide the tassel off of the piece of cardboard.

4. Cut another small piece of embroidery thread, about 12″, and tie around the tassel about a half of an inch down from the top. This will create the ‘head’ of the tassel.

5. Using scissors, cut the loops at the end of the tassel and trim the ends so they’re even.

6. Once you’ve made all of  your tassels, start sewing them one by one around the edges of your napkin, spacing them evenly along each side. Sew on four of your darkest color, four of your second darkest color, four of your second lightest color and finally, four of your lightest color to create the subtle ombré effect.



7 Best Ballet Documentaries to Watch This Weekend

02-shop-the-ballet-lookPhoto via Annie Leibovitz for Vogue

You know those moments of artistic appreciation that just cut right to your soul and summon tears to your eyes because of the sheer beauty of the moment? Hearing a favorite band play a great show, getting lost in the colors of a masterful painting, eating that perfect bite of salmon nigiri (don’t laugh; it’s happened). Ballet never fails to evoke this type of emotional response from me. Picture me ugly crying as the curtain closes on the final pas de deux of Don Quixote, whispering to myself, “It’s just so beautiful.”

I’ve loved the ballet since I was three, when I first donned pink slippers and did my first plié. And although my first pair of pointe shoes have long been packed away in a box in my mom’s garage, I’ve found ways to keep ballet in my life. Last spring, I took an adult ballet class (boy, was I rusty), I see The Nutcracker every year, plus usually at least one other live performance, and I watch and rewatch every ballet-related documentary that pops up on my internet radar.

Below, a round-up the seven best ballet documentaries out there, so grab some popcorn, turn out those feet and get streaming.

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1. First Position
This documentary follows several young dancers as they prepare to compete in the Youth America Grand Prix, one of the premier ballet competitions in the world. After you watch this, two things will happen: you’ll feel much more motivated to work harder and you’ll spend at least an hour Googling where these kids are now.

2. City Ballet
Produced and narrated by none other than SJP, this web series features interviews, insights and looks into the lives of dancers in the New York City Ballet. If you’re new to ballet, this series is great because it explains the basics of how world-class companies function, and if you’re a die-hard fan you’ll have fun nerding out over Sara Mearns’ gorgeous hair and Chase Finlay’s real-life Cooper Nielson status.

3. Ballet 422
Justin Peck is a dancer with the New York City Ballet, and in 2013 he was commissioned to choreograph a new work for the company. This documentary chronicles that process, which has since launched he to superstar status in the world of ballet choreography. Although I wish this film featured a bit more dancing and a bit less broody staring, it’s lovely to witness the origin of what will likely be one of the greatest choreographic talents of our time.

4. A Ballerina’s Tale
Misty Copeland is that rare thing: a ballet dancer whose fame crosses into pop culture territory. Perhaps you’ve seen her interview with Obama, her Under Armour commercial or you simply know her as the first African American dancer to to made a principal at ABT. Whatever the case may be, it’s worth watching this doc on her rise to the top of this white-dominated industry.

5. Ballet Russes
As much a beautiful history lesson as it is an ode to Serge Diaghilev’s legendary Paris-based Ballets Russes, this documentary lovingly weaves together archival footage with modern-day interviews while offering a master class in the origin of ballet as we know it.

6. Bolshoi Babylon
The Bolshoi is one of Russia’s cultural crown jewels, but in 2013 it was floundering. A star dancer stood trial for throwing acid in the face of company director Sergei Filin, partially blinding him and tearing the company apart. This new documentary chronicles the aftermath of one of the most scandalous events in ballet history.

7. Bringing Balanchine Back
This documentary is an oldie but a goodie. It chronicles the return of the New York City Ballet to the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, home of NYCB co-founder George Balanchine. Bonus points if you can spot a young Benjamin Millepied (current director of the Paris Opera Ballet and husband to Natalie Portman) waiting in the wings.

Do you have any favorite ballet documentaries I forgot to mention?


Trendspotting: Flamenco-Inspired Polka Dots


To some, polka dots conjure images of Minnie Mouse and wholesome charm, but to me, they represent seduction, grace and the power of the feminine form. And I think that’s because I most immediately associate them with the traditional traje de flamenco—the most famous version of the dress worn by the traditional dancers of Andalusia. Polka dots of white or black pattern these stunningly tiered and flared silhouettes, adding an extra dose of visual movement to the swirling layers.

Although polka dots have been en vogue in some form since the 1920s, this combination of spots and tiered ruffles feels suddenly fresh and desirable. I first took note of this trend after falling in love with the Spanish-inspired Dolce & Gabbana SS2015 show, and I’ve since been seeing spots everywhere I look. On the diaphanous pleats of a sheer chiffon halter top, atop the mesh tiers of a layered tulle midi skirt and even on the pristine white culottes worn by Olivia Palermo herself.

So scroll down as far as you dare, and take in the best examples of flamenco-inspired polka dots the internet has to offer. If, like me, this particular selection of photos makes you itch to spangle yourself with spots, you can shop some of my polka dotted pics in the widget at the end.

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Shop flamenco polka-dot pieces here:

Accessories, DIY

DIY Floral Headband

easter-flower-headband-diy-5When I was a wee lass, I looked forward to Easter every year for the joyous celebrations and the candy-filled baskets, yes, but what I also treasured a certain wardrobe-expanding tradition: the purchase of an Easter outfit including a pastel dress, white gloves and a hat to match. I lovingly referred to this corresponding accessory as my Easter bonnet and I absolutely could not wait to don it come Sunday morning.

As I grew older, the Easter baskets remained but the tradition of the Easter bonnet faded away. This year I decided to bring that tradition back with a little twist. Instead of a big straw hat with the flower-embellished front flipped up as ’90s style dictated, I decided to go with a more modern, albeit ’70s-inspired floral headband. Sans spray paint dry time, this DIY floral headband took about five minutes to put together, but it adds a whole bunch of gilt glamour to any Easter Sunday look, whether you plan on heading to a sunrise service or a deviled egg-filled brunch.

easter-flower-headband-diy-3For this project, you’ll need the following:
• metallic gold spray paint
• gold headband
• wire-stem flowers
• needlenose pliers

1. Use foil-finish gold spray paint to cover each flower with at least two coats so the flowers have a metallic sheen.

2. Once the flowers are completely dry, after about an hour, hold the first flower just above the center of the headband and wrap the wire stem tightly around the headband. Working from the right, do the same with the next two flowers, making sure they’re nice and snug up against each other. Repeat on the left side.

3. Use the pliers to secure any ends that are poking out and pick out your finest Easter dress to pair your headband with.

easter-flower-headband-diy-6easter-flower-headband-diy-7Linking up with Sydney Fashion Hunter.



Otomi-Print Easter Eggs

otomi-print-easter-egg-diy-4otomi-print-easter-egg-diy-6otomi-print-easter-egg-diy-9otomi-print-easter-egg-diy-10Now, I understand that some of you fools might be over Otomi print, but I am certainly not. A pair of beautifully embroidered Otomi pillows sit proudly on the wingback chairs in my living room, and because of their close proximity to my line of sight when I sit on the couch at night and dream up ideas for this ol’ blog, I’m always wanting to Otomi-print everything. A cake? Yeah, sounds delicious. My hair? Would that I could. Some festive Easter eggs? Sounds right up my alley.

One thing I especially love about this particular Easter egg decoration method is that it doesn’t require any dying. I don’t know why, but as I get older, I’m less and less interested in dying eggs and more interested in using easily wielded tools like markers and gold leaf to achieve the designs of my dreams. And while this project is not super time intensive, I did choose to use blown eggs for my little Otomi beauties so I could pack them away after this Sunday and break them out to enjoy next year as well.

otomi-print-easter-egg-diy-1For this project, you’ll need the following:
• blown eggs
• markers (I used these)
• pencil and eraser

1. Once you’ve cleaned, blown out and dried your eggs, sketch the Otomi print of your choice onto your egg using a pencil. Here’s a good example of what you can base your sketches on. Then, use an eraser to lightly erase the pencil lines so you can just barely see the outline.

2. Grab some markers and start filling in your shapes! Use scribbly stripes (that’s a technical term) to shade each image, roughly mimicking the texture of embroidery. Once you’ve colored in your whole egg, let the ink dry completely so it doesn’t smudge and then proudly display your beautiful Otomi-print eggs.


Style, Travel

Garfield Conservatory

floral-silk-blouse-garfield-observatory-13floral-silk-blouse-garfield-observatory-18floral-silk-blouse-garfield-observatory-16floral-silk-blouse-garfield-observatory-17floral-silk-blouse-garfield-observatory-10floral-silk-blouse-garfield-observatory-15 floral-silk-blouse-garfield-observatory-9floral-silk-blouse-garfield-observatory-11floral-silk-blouse-garfield-observatory-8floral-silk-blouse-garfield-observatory-12floral-silk-blouse-garfield-observatory-3floral-silk-blouse-garfield-observatory-2floral-silk-blouse-garfield-observatory-4floral-silk-blouse-garfield-observatory-14 floral-silk-blouse-garfield-observatory-6floral-silk-blouse-garfield-observatory-7 floral-silk-blouse-garfield-observatory-5Vest: Topshop // Blouse: Banana Republic // Jeans: Express // Sunglasses: Karen Walker via DITTO // Earrings: old, similar // Bag: old, similar // Boots: Circus by Sam Edelman // Manicure: Nails by MEI

What to do when you’re more than ready for spring to come, but the bulbs are just starting to push through the ground? Put on your prettiest floral print silk top—layered with a luxuriously plush faux fur vest because it’s technically still winter—and head to that great Victorian invention of indoor botany: the conservatory. Although the stunning facade of the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco may be more appealing from the outside, the Garfield Conservatory just outside of Chicago boasts hidden lush gardens that are hard to beat.

We recently popped up to Chicago so I could cover an event for the Nordstrom blog, where I was treated to this bananas manicure by the great Mei, but once my job was done we had some time to explore Chicagoland a bit. We were originally planning on checking out the Van Gogh exhibit at the Art Institute but ran out of time, so we decided to explore the conservatory after we happened to drive past it, and I’m so glad we did.

In addition to the wealth of daffodils, hyacinths, orchids and succulents, the Garfield is currently home to the solarise exhibit, which the conservatory website describes as “a series of light and sculptural environments created by Luftwerk – Chicago artists Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero.” I especially loved the floral patchwork of red-and-blue lucite panels that were suspended over the Show Room, adding another layer of color to the already stunning setting. We spent over an hour wandering from greenhouse to greenhouse, snapping photos along the way, but I could have happily just moved on in like the kids in From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Being around that many flowers and all that beautiful color left me with a huge, dumb grin on my face, and I can’t wait to go back.

Accessories, Shopping

12 Pairs of Gloves for Leap Day

IMG_8706-1542x1542Image via W Magazine

If you’ve seen that horrible rom com Leap Year, or if you’re at all in tune with leap day lore, you probably know that there’s a time-honored Irish tradition that gives women the agency to propose to her man on the 29th day of February. What you may not know, however, is a less-talked about custom that requires any man who turns down such a proposal from a woman on Leap Day must buy her 12 pairs of gloves as a sort of fine. Presumably, this would be one pair of gloves a month for a year—a necessity when trying to hide the shame of an empty ring finger.

But since we don’t live in medieval Europe and we now have Queen Bey to look up to rather than Queen Margaret, we can toss all that waiting-on-a-man stuff out the window and enjoy being independent women until we find someone who earns the privilege of putting a ring on it. In the meantime, let’s treat ourselves to some pretty new gloves, shall we? ‘Cause, you know, the gloves I’m wearing—I bought ’em.

Click on the gloves above to get the links!