Monday, June 6, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"Shoot for your dreams...even if they're covered in sequins."

I got a phone call from my aunt this week, who, knowing my interest in fashion, told me to check out this film clip from NBC's Today Show: Jenna Bush Hager interviews the head designer for "J.Crew" whose name is Jenna Lyons. Coincidentally, my name is Jenna too. Perhaps it is a sign that I should drop what I am doing and simply design clothes for the rest of my life?? That's a lofty goal - but who says it can't be a hobby?

P.S. After watching this video, I phoned a local seamstress and I signed up for sewing instruction. I said to myself, why not? In the very least, I'll be capable of sewing buttons back on a jacket.

What's your secret dream job?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Scone Posting

Today I tried baking scones for the very first time and, what do you know? My efforts were not a disaster! The scones taste delicious, although I wished they had "fluffed up" a bit more, like the ones you see in all the recipe books and in all the English bakeries.  I used a modified version of this recipe from "" I didn't have any dark chocolate and orange zest so I simply used what I had on hand - golden raisins.  Next time, however, I will undoubtedly try the dark chocolate and orange as suggested!

Here's the recipe:

Orange and Dark Chocolate Buttermilk Scones

makes four large or six small scones

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons orange zest

2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

1 large egg yolk

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold buttermilk

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Place rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, orange zest, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. I use my fingers to rub the butter and dry ingredients together. In another bowl, combine egg yolk and buttermilk and beat lightly with a fork. Add to flour mixture all at once, stirring enough to make a soft dough. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Turn out onto a floured board and knead about 15 times. Roll or pat out into a 1-inch thickness. Cut into 4 large or 6 small squares. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees F for 12-15 minutes. These are best when served immediately with butter and jam.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spring Cleaning

A recent bout of spring cleaning has inspired me to get creative with some of my old garments and craft supplies. Here are a few DIY projects I've been trying:


A tremendously trendy remedy for recycling old t-shirts! All you need is your tee of choice, and a sharp pair of scissors. For full instructions check out "" (

Lauren Conrad's spring fashion line includes light-weight tees with pretty floral designs. They are being sold for the outrageous price of $34.00 - at Kohl's nonetheless! (which is, in my opinion, a notoriously poor-quality department store). Instead of getting ripped off, I decided to paint my own pattern of roses on a clean white tee-shirt using fabric paints.

Ever since the headband trend hit the U.S. and beyond, I've been eager to create some headbands of my own! These ones I created from strips of fabric that I rolled into rosettes and secured with hot glue. I'm thinking of selling them on ? What do you think?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Here's to the Happy Couple.

Certainly the most lavish, regal, wedding I've ever witnessed...and perhaps the sweetest! Call me eccentric, but I have no regrets about waking up at 4 am to watch the ceremony on TV. Prince William and Princess Kate appear to be a truly lovely - and loving - couple! How precious is this photo of the newlyweds surrounded by all the flower girls and "pages" ?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royal Wedding Splendour

Tomorrow is the big day for William Windsor and Kate Middleton - and anyone else who has been enamoured with the history and glamour of the English crown! Though I do think the Western World has gone a little over-the-top in its attention to the Royal Wedding, I can't deny that I am excited to witness the marriage of the handsome Prince William (yes, I know the most recent pictures of him have revealed that he is "losing his bloom" - and starting to go bald! - but he is a much handsomer prince than Charles ever was, and he always looks so "smart" in his suits and uniform) and the truly beautiful Kate - "middle-class" - Middleton. In honor of their special day, I thought I would share a couple wedding-related pictures that I took on my recent stay in England:

A shot of Westminster, Abbey - the location of Will & Kate's lovely nuptials, which will be exchanged at 11 am tomorrow.

I couldn't believe some of the outrageous Royal Wedding paraphernalia that I saw in the UK! While window-shopping in Bath, England, I spotted this heart-shaped teapot upon which the bride and groom's names are painted in gilded letters (also note the ornately decorated plate in the background with William and Kate's faces on it!)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

"Downton Abbey"

Whilst I have been re-adapting to American culture since my return from the UK - there is one aspect of British culture I cannot give up: historical dramas! This past week I watched all seven episodes of "Downton Abbey"which is a series about the wealthy Crawley family and the ongoings of their household (including the lives of the kitchen maids, footmen, butler, ladies in waiting, etc.). The series is set in turn-of-the-century England (during the reign of King George the V). There are three daughters in the Crawley family and I just could not get over how elegant they were dressed in every episode! I really think we should go back to dressing this way. I pulled out my watercolors and sketched a few dresses - and faces, for that matter.

Here's the link to the trailer for Downton Abbey:

The youngest daughter, Sibyl, in a smart blue hat.

One of the dresses worn by the oldest daughter, Mary, during Episode 1.

A black gown worn by Mary while she is mourning for the death of her cousin (and fiancée) who drowned in the Titanic incident. The expression on her face is unhappy - not because she is sad for her cousin's death - but because her character dislikes the color black.
My favorite of Mary's outfits: a high-waisted silver skirt, lavender blouse, and elegant set of pearls.
The middle daughter,Edith,who bears the unfortunate reputation of being the least attractive sister.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I'm back.

I have finally returned from my 3 months of study in Oxford, England! The experience was life-changing, undoubtedly. I would love to share travel stories, and lessons learned, etc. However, it would probably take a plethora of blog entries to describe my experience in full. I am going to limit myself to a few photos for now. More photos can be found on my Facebook page:

I am also figuring out a way to post my newsletter, "Life on the Isis,"- an amateur publication that I sent on a regular basis to family and friends while in England. It provides a much more comprehensive account of my adventures!

A quintessentially English treat: shortbread topped with white chocolate and berries. This item was photographed (and devoured) at "Cassandra's Cup Cafe" across from Jane Austen's house in Hampshire, England.
A photo of New College on an especially sunny day! New College was where I was selected to study for the term.
The Radcliffe Camera - a historic reading room that is primarily used by Oxford undergraduates. It is home to hundreds of books that are part of the extensive Bodleian Library System, and also many busy-body students slaving over essays! I had the privilege of being one of those students, though I didn't mind "slaving" over my work, as I'm sure others, in truth, did not either!
My lovely friend, and master travel-companion, Elena. Last year she studied in Barcelona, Spain and made trips to many other cities in Continental Europe during her time there. Needless to say, she is an old pro when it comes to taking public transportation, etc.! It was awesome to have her along for her expertise, and most importantly, for her friendship! This photo was taken on the cliffs of Cornwall, England. Here we are at an ancient amphitheater that was built into the cliff-side.
Glorious Cornwall! We were eager to visit the ocean after 8 weeks of seeing only books and the screens of our lap-top computers!

A snapshot of me in front of the famous (and somewhat underrated, in my opinion), rock formation, "Stonehenge."

Sunday, January 2, 2011

En route to Oxford

Christmas break is coming to a close and the spring semester is quickly approaching. As many of you know, I will be continuing my studies in England instead of returning to Messiah College. I am blessed this semester to be studying at Oxford University, one of the world's top institutions. Oxford's ancient libraries and expert professors will no doubt provide me with new insights into English literature. I will be studying in particular, Victorian Literature and Restoration-era Literature (John Milton and such). My closest college friend, Elena, who is also an English major, will be coming with me to England and I am beyond excited to have her as a travel companion! I will do my best to keep everyone updated on Elena's and my adventures "across the pond."

Saturday, January 1, 2011