Classic Halloween Costumes – on the Fly!

Ladies and Gentleman, I am happy to inform you that I am a contributor to the fabulous blogs (for the pretty ladies) and (for the handsome gents). Speaking of such things, I am proud to present one of my latest posts, a Halloween DIY for the classy gals who needs a quick costume… (read the original post here)

Halloween is that fanciful time of year when being yourself is the last thing on your mind and finding the perfect costume is at the forefront of your thoughts. Yet, somehow, every year we leave the costume planning until the last-minute. Well, you can stop your stressing because we’ve come up with 3 great costumes that you can quickly put together with things that are already hanging in your closet: The Gypsy Dancer, the Fortune Teller and the Swashbuckler. When you have the right clothes paired with the right accessories, you can celebrate your favorite holiday in style.

Easy Halloween costume, pirate, gypsy, fortune teller, psychic

illustration by Lisa Van Wijk

The Gypsy Dancer

This costume can be easily accomplished with simple layering. Grab one of your long dresses or a loose-fitting top and maxi skirt, preferably in a solid or natural looking print. Next up, tie a colored scarf around your head in “the Esmeralda” (how-to shown here) and knot a bigger scarf, like this elegant and free-spirited number, around your hips. Give yourself an elongated cat eye and deep red lips, and you can add a beauty mark with eyeliner. To finish of the look, toss on as many bangles and necklaces as you can find. Now clang your tambourine and dance in the street. While you’ve got everyone entranced with your sultry whiles, pick their pockets.

Palm Reading Cheat SheetThe Fortune Teller

This costume is similar to the gypsy with the accessories tweaked here and there.  Start off with a loose top tucked into a maxi skirt. Add a pair of large round glasses and carry a crystal ball if you can get one. If not, you can be a palm reader instead. To complete the stereotypical psychic look, wrap a star studded scarf  around your head turban style and wear another scarf (like this twinkling scarf) as a shawl draped over the shoulders. For even more effect, you can make your hair big and frizzy and give your eyes a celestial glow with sparkling eye shadows like this look from makeup artist Linda Hallberg. You could even pick up a deck of tarot cards like this one at your local bookstore. Now speak in a mystical voice as you stare at people through your all-knowing-orb and give them unsolicited omens of bad fortune. The crystal ball tells no lies.

The Swash-Buckler

Who doesn’t love a good pirate costume? It is a classic look and it’s easier to accomplish than you might think. Let’s start with the foundation: dark skinny pants (highwaisted if you got ‘em), a light colored peasant top or loose blouse, and boots. Grab a dark solid scarf, wrap it around your waist and tuck it in so the loose end falls in front. Cinch it with a dark belt. You can top off this costume with a scarf tied in “The Bahama” (shown here), and wear a pouch of doubloons on your belt. To really seal the deal, paint your lips red and make one of your eyes black and smokey and cover the other with an eye patch. Check out this easy DIY from Art Platter. Caution: depth perception will be impaired. Print out this cheat sheet and practice your pirate-speak. Now yell nautical commands in slurred speech and swig frequently from a dirty rum bottle, ya bilge-sucking scalawag!

Halloween gives you the chance to transform yourself for a night (or two, or three). With these 3 easy last minute costumes, that transformation doesn’t have to be so difficult. Extra points go to those of you who never break character. Now get out there and have some fun!

Thanks for the read, but seriously, check out more on, they have great DIYs, fashion updates, and seriously sensitive topics on how to get over heartbreaks (don’t ask)…

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Who What Wear – With The National | Los Angeles

Now I only think about Los Angeles when the sun kicks out (Pink Rabbits | The National)

Lucky for us the sun did kick out, just on time as we were in the city celebrating our favorite band’s movie preview! Here is a quick fix of what Caitlyn and I wore to the Mistaken For Strangers screening in Los Angeles.

City City Happy Hour

style style

Here I am in my “Loose Lips Sink Ships” t-shirt, inspired by The National‘s song Cherry Tree. This shirt is fitting because Mistaken For Strangers is a movie about The National, and Cherry Tree is such a great song, and Loose Lips Sink Ships is such a great saying. In this shirt I can do no wrong.  I’m also wearing a black blazer, denim shorts (cause it’s summer!) and suede booties.

style Style

Caitlyn is wearing her favorite polka dot skirt, also with booties and a tank top. A cute get up for any long summers day of sight seeing and obsessing over our favorite band.

Tshirt DIYDSCN0374

To make this shirt more comfortable I cut the sleeves off.  The art of cutting sleeves, as seen in my previous post “Rock Your Style” is in exposing the right amount of skin.  If you just clipped your shirt down the sides, you would expose too much skin in the front, and not enough in the back. That is why I first cut off the sleeves along the stitch line, then I turn the shirt around and trim out the back, dipping lower and towards the center and work my way up. Once you have the shirt on you can stretch out the opening with your thumbs to give it a natural looking finish.  And remember, this is your shirt – Rock it however you want!

Tshirt DIY


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How to turn an Old Book into a New Journal!

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Being able to make something useful out of something forgotten is one of many joys in my life.  Such as this new trend of turning old books into new journals.  It is a terrific idea, however I am not a fan of these spindly spines people are using.  The spirals fit awkwardly on shelves, in bags, and generally look tacky. A perk of having an old book is also having its old spine to really enhance the character and give it an element of mystique, which brings us to why I have taken this book converting craze one step further:


The process is really quite simple, and a great learning experience.  I created this at-home version of book binding by looking over some books to see how they were bound.  I have broken down the process into 3 basic steps, and included pictures and texts to help you along the way.  Best of luck, have fun! Or skip the hard part, and buy a custom book from me on Etsy!

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BEFORE YOU BEGIN gather the following supplies.  Attainable around the house or any office supply store ever.

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 STEP ONE is making your new pages. Gather the 50 pages of blank paper (more or less is very acceptable) They will soon become 200 pages, because you are folding them in half, and can write front and back. Separate the 50 into groups of 10.  You will be working with 10 pages at a time.
Fold the group in half “portrait” style if you are an adult, “hamburger” style if you’re a child, and get out your ruler and push-pin.
Align the ruler next to the crease you have just formed and make 6 holes down the center of your bunch.  I started at the 1/2” and poked at 1,1/2” intervals until I reached the end.Note:  Be sure your pages are the right height for your book, you may need to cut off an inch or so, do this carefully or with a paper-cutter to get good crisp lines.  I had to take my pages to Staples where, for a small fee, they will cut paper for you using a machine.
You want to repeat the folding, the creasing, and the hole-poking for the other groups of paper.  Keep the space between holes consistent among each group for a clean finish.

Screen shot 2013-06-07 at 10.38.28 PMSTEP TWO  Cut two new spines out of the thin cardboard to match the same height and width of the book’s spine. Set aside one cardboard spine for now, this will be the backbone.

Take the second piece and use your ruler and push-pin to create the holes where you are going to sew your pages to the cardboard with needle and thread.  As you can see the book spine looks like the neck of a guitar.

Sew your pages into the spine, this will make a very sturdy book.  Start in one hole and work your way up and down the spine, closing every gap, and tie off on the outside.  Start with the first group of pages and work your way right to left until all 5 group are secured to the cardboard.  The tighter the better.

Now that you have a cardboard spine and 200 lovely pages to write on, you can attach this spine into the old book.

Carefully remove the old pages from the book.  Use sharp scissors or an exacto knife. Take extra caution when removing the spine from the back as not to tear the cover where the layers are very thin.  I made this mistake and tried taping it back in place.  Lesson learned.

Once you have the old pages out, recycle them, throw them in the air, burn them, fold them into 500 paper cranes, you do not need them anymore.

Now use your permanent double-sided tape, I used 3M squares. You can also use a glue gun. Tape the single cardboard strip to the spine, press it down. Do the same thing with the spine that you sewed your pages too, press it down.

Screen shot 2013-06-07 at 10.38.44 PMSTEP 3 involves glue and precision.

You have a book, but you want to seal it. Use some paper with a heavier weight, decorative scrapbook paper, wrapping paper…  anything that fits your desired look.  I used my favorite silver resume paper. You can find some fun styles on, or any local office supply or craft store.

First use your glue stick to glue down the very first page of your book to the inside of the front cover. Use lots of glue and seal it with your hand.  Do the same thing with the last page and the inside of the back cover.

Second, use your “fancy” paper to cover the inside of the front cover and the second page.  This decorative page should lie flat between the two pages beneath it.  Glue it down, press, and crease it. Repeat on the back side.  Cut back any paper that extends past the edges.

You did it! Congratulations.  You have created your very own book.

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I personalized the journal even more by glueing an open envelope to the back page for my friend to keep mementos in.  I also wrote  a note on the front, since it is a gift.

Be as creative as you want with your pages and content!  This is your creation, be proud that no one else has a book like yours.

For more helpful how-tos and musings, subscribe to my blog or follow my accounts @itsa_Lisa on Twitter Pinterest and Instagram!  I’m here to help you, my fellow creative friends!

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Best Of the Long Beach Patchwork Show

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Remember all that talk about buying local? Supporting our neighbors instead of overseas labor… The Patchwork Show was in town this weekend, the affair involved people buying crafts made by people. The vendors were with us selling and talking up their hand-made, or at least hand-sourced goods. I tried making friends with everyone and asked lots of questions, because I enjoy making friends and asking questions.

What is in style? If you haven’t noticed: negative space, arrows and chevrons, pale OR neon, raw, and simplicity.

business cards

business cards

Just glancing at these business cards proves said trends true.

hipster rings

hipster rings

If I had between $30-$50 to spare these nikki montoya rings would be all over my fingers.

dia de los muertos pillows

dia de los muertos pillows

These crafty skulls screams: “I am creative yet badass because I support the cute and felted, oh and skulls!” My favorite is Mr. Smoker. This style is now all the rage, but I hope you know their true origin comes from Dia De Los Muertos, the post-Halloween Mexican Holiday.

chevron aligned rocks necklace

chevron aligned rocks necklace

These handmade necklaces come in an assortment of natural colors to match the wearer’s unique style. I bought a turquoise one (not pictured) because my usual neutral get-ups could use a color pop.

franks a lot!

franks a lot!

Frankly, my dear, this card is adorable. As a DIY-er I say, “go make one yourself dammit!” But as an appreciator of the creative and talented, I say support The Library Store!

Seth Wegter bags

Seth Wegter bags

Seth Wegter is a very attractive young man who makes his own bags. You should read his about me, it is very inspiring, apparently he is also a wrestling coach. I used the line “wrestling wasn’t manly enough so you decided to also make bags?” He probably laughed out of courtesy, he has also probably heard that line more times than a zebra with a sunburn being told he’s red all over. These extremely attractive bags have that vintage flavor but are instead clean, made local, and smell like leather instead of grandma’s closet. It’s a win-win-win!

old book journals

old book journals

Ah yes the recycled book journal, one of America’s new favorites. (I have found a way to make these that actually still looks like a real book – coming soon!) These vacant reads are everywhere now, go on etsy, go on pinterest, you’ll find one. They are simple-ish to make, and terrific for a lover of nostalgia because you can make or find a journal with any sort of theme on its front cover. The experience is similar to finding an old book at a bookstore and judging the heck out of the cover, but instead of reading it you get to write your own tale. Or, you know, use it as a journal.

bird lighter

bird lighter

This little guy is just too cute. He’s an old lighter in the shape of a bird, metal with red turquoise wings. The lighter fuel has run out but if I were fixing for a mission I would have bought him up and solved the issue. Any experts on vintage mini lighters out there care to share some advice?

This concludes my fun and favorite finds. However I do have an honorable mention for the woman who owns Blossom Vintage, the traveling vintage shop set up in an old camper which hooks to her car. The inside is a very small boutique decorated with fun vintage clothes and accessories. Don’t let the size fool you, it is fully equipped with a dressing room and cash register! Here is a video

Support your local artists and support my blog! Leave your comments and share the love 🙂

XOXO  Lisa