10-Item Summer 2017 Wardrobe: Stripes & Coral

Woo! I finally have all the pics together for my 10-Item Summer Wardrobe (such as they are), and I am psyched to share this–and to wear this! (Hey, I’m a poet and I didn’t know it). As longtime readers know, I adopted the capsule wardrobe approach after reading Jennifer L. Scott’s Madame Chic books (be sure to check out her blog, The Daily Connoisseur, as well). The premise: collect 10 “core items” that either go together and complement each other, then augment it with “extras” such as T-shirts, outerwear, evening wear, etc.

Unfortunately, due to the light and the different times I took these photos, the colors aren’t just right (and my clothes look a little wrinkly–that’s totally my fault). But I swear these all go together, and I’m pretty happy!

Another note: you may notice a couple returns from a few years ago. While I do practice the 10-item wardrobe, I don’t always purge everything I’m not wearing in a particular season. For example, right after I had Sarah and I was in super-breastfeeding mode, I went down a size, and some of my shorts were too big. I saved them just in case, and guess what–I’m glad I did. Since most of last year’s summer wardrobe just plain wore out (after many years of service), I was glad I kept some pieces in reserve!

But without further ado, let’s . . . a-do this! (™ Hub Hubbard.)

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Pale pink Merona cotton sweater. I got this for free at my friend Melissa’s Naked Lady party and built a lot of this wardrobe around it! Love it, and it pairs well with coral and red.

10 item wardrobe

Thread & Supply blue “menswear” shirt.

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You think you’ve seen this shirt a million times, but guess what: it’s a new J Crew Factory striped boatneck shirt! After many years, I realized the underarms of my old one . . . turned black. Fortunately I was literally at J Crew Factory when I discovered this.

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J Crew Factory sunwashed slim chino. My husband got me these for Mother’s Day, and I love them. I would never have picked them, because they get dirty as f*ck every time I wear them, but they wash well and are more comfortable in the heat that jeans.

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J Crew Factory coral seersucker shorts. These are from at least four years ago!

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J Crew Factory 5″ chino shorts in aqua. These are kind of like a chambray? Very old. 

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J Crew Factory striped daybreak dress. I love this because it looks structured, but it’s made of stretch material. It looks like they’re out of this particular stripe, sad.

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LOFT striped dress. This dress is ancient (at least five years) and I think it was actually supposed to be a swimsuit coverup? It’s my favorite summer dress: it’s cute and doesn’t hug my body.

10-Item Wardrobe

Floral dress, made by me maybe five or six years ago? Pattern by Amy Butler.

So there are my 10 pieces! On to the extras: T-shirts!

10-Item Wardrobe

J Crew Factory “fruit salad” T-shirt. I’ve had this for years and it’s a little too sheer now, so I wear a camisole under it.

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J Crew Factory collector T-shirt–another gift from my husband. Looks like it’s out of stock online.

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J Crew studio T-shirt. A perfect basic!

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J Crew Factory perfect fit shell. These are my new favorites–they really do fit perfectly, and they’re a little more polished than a tank top.

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J Crew Factory striped boatneck short-sleeved T-shirt. I don’t think they have this on the site anymore (I picked it up last year) and it’s too bad, it wears well like the long-sleeved one!

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Novelty shirts! My sister Jessica gave me the Star Wars shirt, and I picked up the tank visiting Carmel this spring for a family reunion. Guest starring my toes.

Ahhh. I love using the 10-item wardrobe because it makes everything easier. My drawers are organized, I can see all my clothes, and it makes laundry a snap (and necessary). It’s also been really interesting to see which items hold up well (the dress I made, certain J Crew items) and which did not (most T-shirts).

What do you think? Is anyone else out there doing this? Post below!

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J Crew Factory Chevron-Striped Dress

10-Item Wardrobe Prep: Summer 2017

Hey everyone! Hope you had a wonderful weekend. I was busy podcasting and doing load upon load upon load of laundry, while enduring 100-degree weather. Oh Portland, why do you go from rain to trying to kill me in June?

But! I’ve also been putting the finishing touches on this year’s Summer 10-Item Wardrobe, which means I had to go through last year’s to evaluate the condition and usefulness of each piece. Join me and see who lives . . . and who goes to Goodwill.

10 item wardrobe

Fisherman’s wool sweater, vintage.

Oh, this sweater. I really loved it. I’m also glad I got it for about $40 on Etsy, because this sweater is full of holes. I noticed a couple right after I received it and tied them off, but I keep finding them, and it really is super bulky and heavy and warm, and I just can’t make it work. Boo.

10 item wardrobe

J Crew Factory jeans.

These jeans are pretty great, but have I mentioned it is super hot this summer? These jeans will go bye-bye until next spring.

10-Item Wardrobe

Gap cropped white jeans.

Same for these babies.

10-Item Wardrobe

J Crew Factory striped dress. I love this dress. I wore it until I was eight months pregnant last year and it still looks great.

I loved this dress so hard. I bought it in 2012 and wore it before, during, and after my pregnancy, but the neckline started to unravel, and it is gone.

10-Item Wardrobe

Floral dress, made by me maybe five or six years ago? Pattern by Amy Butler.

This dress will liiiiiiiive foreverrrr (™ Queen) and I am keeping it.

10-Item Wardrobe

J Crew Factory chambray shirt.

This shirt! I also bought this five years ago and wore it over and over again, but the underarms finally got discolored and I had to donate it. Geez, will I have any clothes left?

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J. Crew Factory striped short-sleeve shirt.

A keeper! Whew. I just got this last year, and so far it’s just as durable as its long-sleeved counterpart. I am pleased.

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J. Crew Factory 5″ chino shorts.

So this kind of sucks, but I’m sharing. I was one size in J. Crew Factory before my pregnancy, and I was one size smaller after my pregnancy. I knew it wouldn’t last. I resisted buying new clothes! But I did. And now–I’m back to my original size, and these give me camel toe, and I may keep them in reserve in case I get food poisoning or something but . . . gone.

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J. Crew Factory 5″ chino shorts.

Ditto! Buh-bye.

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J. Crew Factory striped dress.

I still love this dress, but I do not wear it often enough for it to be part of my 10-Item Wardrobe. It’s been kicked up to special occasion wear, because Portland is hella casual.

Uhhhh . . . so I’m only keeping two out of my 10 items! Fortunately, I did save some older shorts, and I do rotate things in and out of my wardrobes, so I didn’t have to buy all new things. You’ll have to wait until my next fashion post to see this season’s wardrobe (the suspense!), but I can show you the one piece that’s pulling it all together!

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Merona pink cotton cardigan.

It’s wrinkly in the picture (I’ll take a better one later) and I got it for free at my friend Melissa’s Naked Lady Party (a clothes swap, don’t be scandalized), but I really love this sweater! I originally picked it to wear (as Audrey) at our Twin Peaks brunch, but it’s perfect for summer: lightweight, a great color, and a flattering fit.

Stay tuned, true believers! I should post my full Summer 2017 10-Item Wardrobe Wednesday . . . if I can get all this laundry done!

GeekCraft Expo PDX 2017

Happy Monday! Thor Stuff, Twin Peaks & 10-Item Wardrobe

GeekCraft Expo PDX 2017Happy Monday, folks! Hope you’re having a wonderful start to the summer. I’m using this little lull to catch up on my blogging, woo!

Local Happenings

GeekCraft Expo PDX concluded June 11 and–whew–I was tired afterward. It was a great show. Our exhibitors are so great. Not only are they insanely talented and obsessed with all things geek, but they’re genuinely nice people! You can find all of our Portland exhibitors here. Up next: the GeekCraft Expo Seattle Holiday Market November 25-26!

It seems like as soon as I slow down a little, something else pops up that I cannot resist! I’ve just started working with Pairings, which bills itself as “Portland’s Weirdest Wine Shop and Bar,” and they are amazing. I went to their “Salmon 5 Ways with Rosé All Day” event right before Mother’s Day with my co-parent, Myndi (she discovered the place), and I had such a great time! Pairings focuses on making wine fun and accessible, so they pair wines to adjectives and personality traits–which means they have wines paired to Harry Potter characters, female superheroes, astrological signs, and more! Next they’re pairing eight wines to eight characters from Animal House. June 22-25, $25!

Geekery

Did you know that I am now nerd famous? It is TRUE. Well. Kinda. Anyway, the latest episode of my podcast with Miles Stokes, Thor: The Lightning and the Storm, is up! We’re going through Walter Simonson’s epic 1980s run on The Mighty Thor, and we’ve finally reached one of the most hard-hitting, metal moments in all of comics: the Executioner’s Last Stand!

I’m also recording a guest spot on Titan up the Defense, another local podcast I enjoy immensely. Brothers Hub and Cory alternate reading (and discussing) New Teen Titans and Defenders. I have a ginormous soft spot for New Teen Titans (thanks to my cousin Bryan’s collection), so I’m psyched to join in. Plus! They allow drinking during podcasting! Miles would never. Ha!

Finally, I’ve been invited to guest on Comic Book Cover Story, a podcast that features my good friend (and former TFAW co-worker) Sean Wynn and Kurt Loyd!

Fashion

With summer right around the corner, I need to spruce up my Spring/Summer 10-Item Wardrobe, so I’m going through my current clothes and shopping with my mom later this week. Get ready for a post next week, and maybe a prep post this week!

Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks is in a category by itself, because really . . . where would you put it? I just have to say episode 7 was intense. I admit I was kind of wavering about where it was going. I actually love “Dougie Jones,” but it’s super frustrating how no one will take him to a doctor! I mean, a man supposedly shows up one day with new hair and wardrobe, 20 pounds lighter, and can barely string one word together? Come on. But I love it. I love every moment (almost). I sit with my eyes as wide as possible, in silence, absorbing every second.

Confused? You really should have been prepared for that. But Laura Hudson’s wonderfully written Twin Peaks recaps may help.

That’s it for now! Man, I’m just glad I got to blog today. Do you have any Twin Peaks theories? Wardrobe hints? Other podcasts to check out? Put them in the comments!

Happy Wednesday! Thor Podcasts, Sexy Party Fashion & GeekCraft Expo

Thor350covercrop.jpgHappy Wednesday! I hope you’re all enjoying your spring–the hot weather finally arrived in Portland this week, and . . . we put up all the AC units in our bedrooms. I was not cut out for 90-degree weather.

I’ve been super busy with geeky projects and the kids–here’s what I’ve been up to!

Geekery

As I mentioned the last time I wrote, I’ve started up a new Thor podcast, THOR: The Lightning and the Storm, with my friend Miles Stokes from Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men! We’re doing 13 episodes exploring Walter Simonson’s epic 1980s run on The Mighty Thor, and it’s been a lot of fun–and a lot of work! We’re covering three or four comics each episode, and our outlines are about 10 pages long. Plus we drive to Beaverton to record. This is serious stuff!

If you’re geeky–or you want to brush up on your classic Thor history before Thor: Ragnarok hits theaters, subscribe! We also have a special “zero issue” episode available for everyone who donates $5 or more to our IndieGogo campaign!

GeekCraft Expo PDX Nerd Wood

Wooden art by Nerd Wood Designs!

In other geeky news, GeekCraft Expo PDX returns to the DoubleTree Portland June 10 and 11 and ohmygosh that’s soon. We’re also throwing an epic kickoff party June 9 at Bridge City Comics with free beer (for those 21+) from Hop Valley Brewing, and prizes from Bridge City, Centerplate, Guardian Games, Ground Kontrol, Espionage Cosmetics, SCRAP PDX, and our exhibitors!

Fashion

I’m still going through my spring/summer wardrobe and need to pick up a few things for this season’s 10-Item Wardrobe, but in the meantime . . . I needed a party outfit. And I realized I was having kind of an identity crisis, now that I am post-40 and post-baby.

In my 20s and 30s, my party style was tight. Literally. And short. Let’s say there were a lot of American Apparel dresses and not a lot of underwear.

But! American Apparel is no more, and I’ve shifted into classic, preppy wardrobe mode in recent years. And while this works really well for my everyday life, it made me feel like I was dressed for church when I went out for karaoke. If I have a babysitter and I’m out having fun and drinking adult beverages, I want to be sexy, dammit! But maybe not in a miniskirt.

Fortunately, inspiration arrived for me at the library, when Ines de la Fressange’s new book, Parisian Chic Look Book, finally came in. This was a fun one–first, the cover is metallic gold, and it’s filled with fun, classic looks with names like, “Date Night,” “Meeting Your Boyfriend’s Parents,” “Going to Court for Your Divorce,” etc. The “My Ex Has Invited Me to Dinner” look was exactly what I was looking for: a pencil skirt, a camisole, and a cozy jacket. Cute, sexy, comfy–I was sold.

My budget isn’t immense, however, so I promptly took myself to H&M. This is what I found: a sequined mesh camisole top, a black jersey pencil skirt, and a burgundy sweatshirt. Paired with some sandals, fancy makeup, and my garnet necklace, I felt I looked glamorous but not like I was trying too hard–or trying to look 25!

Twin Peaks

Finally: Twin Peaks is back! This created a lot of excitement in my house, especially for my husband (he loves David Lynch more than anyone I’ve ever known). We binged the first four episodes Sunday night, and I’m . . . intrigued. And frustrated. And wondering when we’ll see Audrey. But I knew from the beginning that this wouldn’t be a “reunion show”–this isn’t a Northern Exposure revival (although really, I would enjoy that as well).

Twin Peaks The Return

Here’s an article about the parallels between Twin Peaks and Gilmore Girls.

We did a Twin Peaks brunch (it happened again)! I’ll do a post later, but in the meantime, here’s a link to our Twin Peaks dinner party, in case you want themed eats and drinks when Episode 5 arrives June 4.

That’s it for now! I’m looking forward to blogging more after GeekCraft Expo is over–I still need to watch the new Netflix Anne of Green Gables show, and I am certain I will have many things to say. Plus, updates on my darling children (sorry Sid) and my Spring/Summer 10-Item Wardrobe. See you soon!

10 item wardrobe

10 Item Wardrobe Prep: Winter 2017

Sometimes I hate the 10-item wardrobe. Don’t get me wrong: having 10 core pieces (pants, sweaters, dresses, etc.) and extras (t-shirts) that look great together and fit my personal style is amazing! I can get dressed in three minutes, I always at least look presentable, and it’s really easy to pack for trips. However. When you are in the habit of saving your Christmas and birthday money and doing your major shopping in January, and three of your 10 items (two pairs of three-year-old jeans and one pair of red pants) go kaput in October, you start to look pretty shabby.

I was able to still wear my old black jeans and sub in my light-blue summer jeans from J Crew Factory, but then I realized that my t-shirts were looking pretty worn out. Then one day, I took out my APC sweater dress–purchased just two years ago–and realized that despite my special care, it had become shapeless and unflattering. What was happening?!? I basically wore my striped J Crew Factory shirts and my worn-thin black jeans for two months straight. When I wasn’t dressed as Mrs. Santa Claus.

The good new is: I went shopping today with my Mom! And, just like in Pretty Woman, I had money to spend, thanks to my weekly savings plan (I sock away a little money every week to buy the whole family clothes) and gift money. Thank you parents and in-laws!

I’m waiting on one pair of jeans to be delivered, so in the meantime, I’m going to go through last winter’s 10-item wardrobe and talk about what worked, what didn’t, and what should die in a fire. Then next week, I’ll have a shiny new post unveiling my new duds! I’m sure you’re all very excited.

10 item wardrobe

J. Crew Factory long-sleeved striped boatneck t-shirts.

If you’re a regular reader of these 10-item wardrobe posts, you recognize these shirts–they just keep going and going! Seriously, I’ve had the navy-striped one for at least three years and it shows no sign of wearing out (pro tip: I always hang these to dry). I may actually get sick of these! Definitely staying (but I really count these as extras).

10 item wardrobe

Thread & Supply blue “menswear” shirt.

I feel a little guilty looking at this one. I got it last year from my parents for my birthday while shopping with my Mom (thanks again!) but while I wore it a fair amount this summer, I totally forgot about it. Gonna have to try it on and see if it’s worthy to be one of the 10, or I may just keep it for when I need to look business-y. It’s a maybe.

10 item wardrobe

Spider-Man sweatshirt, Forever 21.

This is another item that’s still going strong! I bought it in San Diego during Comic-Con 2013, the final one I worked as an employee of Things From Another World–but not at Comic-Con, weirdly enough. Not only does this sweatshirt feature Spider-Man (its initial selling point), but it’s the perfect size and weight. Also, a great conversation starter. It’s staying!

10 item wardrobe

Halogen grey wool-blend sweater with embroidery.

I like this a lot–the look, the weight, the fit–but it isn’t wearing as nicely as I would like. I’ve laid it flat to dry but it’s still pilling. It’s staying this year, but we’ll see for next.

10 item wardrobe

Red and gray J Crew Factory sweater with gold polka dots

Ditto for this one–I still like it, but it’s pilling. Maybe it’s me? Likely will stay for 2017.

10 item wardrobe

J Crew Factory jeans.

These jeans are great, but it’s weird that I had them in my “winter” 10-item wardrobe last year. I’ve been wearing them this winter until I got new jeans, but I’ll put them away until this summer.

10 item wardrobe

J. Crew Factory red tailored stretch Lexie pant.

These . . . did not stretch the way I needed them to. They’ve either shrunk a bit or I’ve put on five pounds. I’m not going to say which. They also faded (typical for red fabric), so they’re gone!

10 item wardrobe

Vince black ponte pants.

I still like these pants, but they’re a maybe. They tend to stretch out and get baggy as I wear them. If I wash them and put them in the dryer they shrink up again, but I feel like they’ll wear out faster that way.

10 item wardrobe

APC sweater dress.

Ack–no! I have been very disappointed by this dress, which I bought on sale a couple years ago. You can kind of see it here–despite my keeping it folded in a drawer and dry-cleaning it (a rarity for me), it has . . . relaxed? It’s baggy and shapeless, and I give up. I give up!

10 item wardrobe

Fisherman’s sweater, vintage.

Oh man. I still love this, but it had a couple of moth holes when I bought it. I repaired them, but either more keep happening or I’m discovering more! Also, it’s very thick and heavy, so it’s bulky under my coat, and I run hot and tend to not need a sweater as warm as this one. A maybe.

Final verdict: three maybes, and three no’s–leaving a possible six slots open in my highly competitive, breathlessly anticipated 10-item winter wardrobe! Do you feel the excitement? Gee, I hope people don’t bet their entire fortunes on the outcome.

As always, I must credit Jennifer L. Scott, author of the Madame Chic books, for her 10-item wardrobe inspiration! See you next week!

Mrs Santa Dress How-To

Presenting My Mrs. Santa Dress

Mrs Santa Dress How-To

All dolled up in my Mrs. Santa dress–unveiled below!

You may remember my desire to make a big green velvet Christmas dress this year–I even had a pattern picked out! However, after an extensive search (at three different fabric stores) I couldn’t find any green velvet, and after a look at the calendar, I realized that realistically, I wasn’t going to have time to sew a dress anyway. I was quite disappointed–until I brainstormed a way to make the most Christmassy gown I could ever want, using a dress I made a few years ago!

Mrs Santa Dress How-To

Mrs. Santa dress: before!

About six years ago, I wanted to make a big red Christmas dress, which I did, using a pattern I cannot find, either in my sewing stuff or online, but I believe it was a Vogue pattern that must be out of print: boatneck, big swingy skirt, defined waist, bracelet-length sleeves. While I wore the heck of it that year, it was never quite right: I should have taken up the shoulders, and I chose a polyester crepe fabric (partly because it was inexpensive, partly because it was the perfect color) that was a little too stiff.

Mrs. Santa Dress How-To

Mrs. Santa dress: after!

But! If I took it to a tailor (who fixed the shoulders for $20) and hot glue-gunned a little fake fur around the edges–voila! I’d have a perfect Mrs. Santa dress! After I rummaged through my closet and found a black patent leather belt and heels, my course was set.

Mrs Santa Dress How-To

Out on the town as Mrs. Santa at the Rum Club!

You can see the end result, and I’m quite proud of it! I wore it to a party and out for holiday drinks with my best girlfriends, and let me tell you: it is a lot of fun to dress as Mrs. Santa–I got a big (and mostly positive) reaction everywhere I went.

I’m pretty proud of my ingenuity (or is that insanity?). It took me less than half an hour to glue the trim on, and I got a re-branded, very distinctive dress for less than $40!

Do you have an ideal Christmas outfit? I’m still dreaming of a White Christmas-type dress (basically my Mrs. Santa dress on steroids). Post it below!

Help Me Make a Christmas Dress

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Look at Beej! We are adorable. Christmas in Tualatin, circa 1979. Oh I just noticed we matched the tree skirt!

Christmas! Like many kids, I grew up loving Christmas. The whole season seemed magical: learning songs in school, making paper-chain advent calendars. Soon after Thanksgiving, my Mom would transform the house into a winter wonderland, bringing out treasured decorations–many of which she had made herself–and she always had new projects going on. The late ’70s-early ’80s was the height of the “dough art” craze, and my Mom would design and painstakingly make, by hand, hundreds of Christmas ornaments that she would sell in local bazaars. I have fond memories of our dining room completely covered with clown marionettes (with ribbon ruffs) or teddy bears sitting on baby blocks, as Mom hand-painted and glazed each and every one.

But my fondest–and most hilarious–memory is when I was four: the year Mom made my brother and I matching green velvet Christmas finery. I was beside myself: the dress was long and trimmed with white eyelet lace. I had, and have, never been so glamorous. My brother, who was two, was decked out in a green velvet vest and shorts, which made him look like an adorable toddler Kermit the Frog. We have pictures. They still make us laugh.

For years my brother and I have been threatening to break out the green velvet and recreate these magical memories, but this year I think I’m actually going to do it: I want to make a big, fancy, green velvet dress that screams Christmas and that I can wear to our fancy Christmas cocktail party.

It’s been almost 20 years since I’ve worked with velvet. It’s not very fashionable for the over-12 set (at least not since the ’90s), and it’s a pain to work with. However, I’m not going to let this stop me–I will make my dreams come true. Unless I lose interest halfway. I’m not making any promises here, folks.

Here are the three patterns I am considering:

Vogue Patterns V2903: Misses V-Neck Fit and Flare Dresses

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Pros: Big, swishy skirt. I feel like a constructed, retro style would lend itself well to velvet. Cons: I don’t think the pleats will work with velvet.

Butterick B6094: Misses’ Fold-Back Facing Dresses

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Pros: The bias-cut skirt is big and swishy without the bulk of gathers or pleats, plus that back is amazing! Cons: Not sure if I want to make a petticoat. I own one, might work.

Butterick B5748: Misses’/Misses’ Petite Flared Dresses

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Pros: I love the idea of an actual retro pattern. Cons: This is basically a less interesting version of Butterick B6094, above.

So what do you think? Which should I pick? And . . . should I make a vest for Beej?!?