Athena Magazine

Fashion, lifestyle, passions

One Hour Beaded Felt-Flower Brooch August 30, 2008

Filed under: Goddess-Sanctioned Pastimes — rebmas03 @ 11:00 pm
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By Heather Lewis

This project is super easy and only takes about forty-five minutes to one hour, depending on how quickly you sew. You will need the following supplies:

•    Beads or buttons
•    Felt
•    Scissors
•    Thread
•    Needle(s)
•    ¾” bar pins (for the back of the brooch-can be found at any craft store)
•    Paper towels

First: You cut your felt into cute little “U” shapes, above right. For a really full flower, cut about 15 pieces. I cut five larger and three smaller pieces.

Second: You take your needle and thread and slowly gather the flat end of the “U” shaped piece (not the curved end) as shown, left. You will want to continue and sew all of your pieces like the photo at left. Once sewn together, they will look like these pretty little petals, below.

Third: After you have finished gathering all pieces with your thread, you will want to sew all of those pieces together to form a flower shape, one petal at a time, above. I sew the larger pieces together first and the smaller pieces last.

Fourth: Once all pieces are sewn together, you will add either beads or buttons on top as shown, left. You can use sea beads or any type of beads you like. I used three red beads that look like jelly beans.

Fifth: Once you’ve sewn your beads onto the front of the flower, you will take your ¾” bar pin and sew that on the back, as shown above right.

WaLa: You have a really pretty felt-flower brooch. This can be worn a combination of ways: on a jacket or a skirt waistband. I purchased a vintage silk belt at an estate sale that was pretty plain and added this cute lil’ brooch to the front of it to jazz it up a bit!

This item and others can be found at:


Some like it haute

Filed under: Fashionista Files,Worldly women — rebmas03 @ 2:51 am
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If you crave a website that offers everything from fall’s essentials to how to choose and care for men’s jeans, plus the scoop on beauty and fashion must-reads, Haute Mimi is for you. Self-described as “an online publication for the international habitue and fashion devotee,” Haute Mimi will keep you totally in the fashionista loop. Plus, editor-in-chief Millissa Mathai (a.k.a. Mimi) is not only haute, she’s friendly—just the sort of cool pal you’d want helping you sort through your closet. Visit Haute Mimi here.


The very best brownies … ever August 29, 2008

Filed under: Domestic Goddess,Food is Good — rebmas03 @ 1:24 am
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By Julia Pantoga

I’ve made brownies over a hundred times in the past thirty years, so you would think that I have mastered them.  I have not.  Believe it or not, I am still learning things about brownies—I just learned that using a plastic knife is best for cutting.

I’m anti-mix in general, but I’m really anti-mix when it comes to brownies.  For some reason though, brownie mixes are ubiquitous.  For that reason, as a policy, I won’t eat brownies unless I’ve watched them being made.  A mix might save you some unwrapping of butter and the clean-up of the pan you use to melt chocolate and, in a really insidious mix, there may be no eggs to crack, but it doesn’t save you from preparing the baking pan or clean-up, which is the true work of making brownies.

That said, brownies are trickier than they appear to be.  The recipe I like best has only six ingredients.  It’s a rookie mistake (which I’ve made many, many times) to think that the fewer ingredients a recipe has, the easier it is.  In general, the opposite is true in baking—fewer ingredients means that you have to handle each one precisely.

Brownies are almost entirely butter and sugar—and what do butter and sugar make?  Caramel!  Just like caramel, if you try to cut brownies too soon after baking it makes a big mess, but if you wait too long, the brownies are impossibly hard to cut or remove from the pan.  I’ve ruined entire pans of brownies by not cutting them at the right time and having to soak the whole thing in water in order to salvage the pan.  A good brownie recipe will tell you, not only exactly how long to cook the brownies but, how long to let them cool before cutting them.  Follow this part of the recipe as closely as you follow the cooking time.

Speaking of cooking time, most recipes say this but I’ll repeat it, DON’T OVERBAKE YOUR BROWNIES.  If you bake the brownies for the length of time specified in the recipe, they will appear slightly raw when you remove them from the oven.  They are supposed to be that way.

Whenever you are baking, bring the eggs to room temperature.  Room temperature eggs absorb flavor better than cold eggs.  If you know you will be baking later, take the eggs you need out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature naturally.  If you are in more of a hurry though, put your cold eggs in a bowl and fill the bowl with hot water from the tap.

I used to look for recipes that did not tell me to “prepare the pan” in the first step, figuring that if the recipe didn’t say it, I didn’t have to do it.  For brownies, in fact for most baked goods, this is just not the case.  You always need to prepare your pan.  No matter what the recipe says in that first step, this is how I prepare my pan for brownies:

First of all, I use a large shallow pan—a jelly roll pan or a cookie sheet.  I like the edge and corner pieces of brownies best, so I figured out a long time ago that I could make all my brownies have that texture if I made them extra-thin.

Next, line the pan with parchment paper.  I used to just generously butter the pan, but I’ve found parchment paper to be more foolproof.  Anchor the parchment paper by buttering the bottom of the pan lightly before you put the paper in.  (I keep a Swiss army knife in my utensil drawer for the sole purpose of trimming parchment paper.)  Once you have the bottom of the pan lined with parchment paper, butter the paper and the sides of the pan generously.  This is not only to keep the brownies from sticking, but to add flavor, so use good butter for this.  Put the pan aside, you have now finished the hardest part of brownie making.

The recipe I use and like best is as follows (with the steps in the order that I do them):

1 cup butter (two sticks)

4 ounces of unsweetened chocolate

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

½ cup flour.

Bring the eggs to room temperature.
Melt butter and chocolate in double boiler, then set aside to cool to room temperature.
Prepare the pan.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Beat eggs and sugar together.
Add vanilla.
Add chocolate mixture.
Fold in flour, mixing only until blended.
Pour mixture into prepared pan.
Bake on the middle shelf of the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes.
Cool brownies in pan for 30 minutes.  (Set your timer—this step needs to be precise.)
Cut brownies into bars with a plastic knife and transfer to cooling rack.

A friend asked me this morning if there is a difference between salted and unsalted butter.  There is, but it is fairly subtle.  As a rule of thumb, as long as the recipe does not have salt as a separate ingredient, I like to use salted butter.

One year for Valentines Day, I made these brownies with pink strawberry frosting.  What a hit!  (I used a heart cookie cutter instead of a knife for step 12.)  There were plenty of brownie scraps left over, which I crumbled up and put on ice cream.

Julia Pantoga is a writer, a cook and a Quaker. She’s also a collector of quirky domestic tricks and loves to share the wisdom she’s gathered over the years


One wickedly funny literary blog August 28, 2008

Filed under: Worldly women — rebmas03 @ 1:28 am
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London writer and anthologist Mitzi Szereto is the woman behind such naughty reads as Erotic Fairy Tales: a Romp Through the Classics and Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers, as well as the author of several best-selling erotic novels under the name M. S. Valentine. But she also has a wickedly funny blog that regularly pokes fun at the publishing world and the writing life. This week’s topic, “This Time Next Year We’ll Be Millionaires!” is about the whopping $30 dollars in Amazon’s Kindle books royalties she’s accrued since publishing on the electronic reader platform and its possibility as an alternative venue for legit writers in a tough market. Read Mitzi’s blog.


New fashion fair in Sheffield, U.K. August 27, 2008

"Hullo, can you ring me the Sheffield Fair?"

If you happen to be tooling about Great Britain on the weekend of September 27th, check out the 1st Sheffield Vintage Fair. (And if you have a bunch of vintage goods to sell, you can sign up for a free stall!) The new fashion fair will be held quarterly, beginning in September, promises to be huge and will offer local designers with vintage garments, reworks and eco-clothing, plus cool jewelry and sweets. Entry is £1. Bring plenty of cash–you don’t want to let that bargain you have found slip through your fingers. For more info, email or visit

For a map of Sheffield, click here. (Fair is at the DQ bar on Fitzwilliam Street.)


H&M to feature Commes Des Garcons line August 26, 2008

Who can argue with the spectacular value of H&M? We all head there to get trendy runway knockoffs and wardrobe filler pieces for a fraction of the designer pricetags. In the past, everyone from Karl Lagerfeld to Madonna has designed for H&M, but now we’re takin’ it to a whole new level, when in November, Rei Kawakubo of Commes Des Garcons brings Japanese cult fashion to this pocketbook-friendly store. Read more here.


My 1970s fashion memories: Live at the Wigan Casino August 25, 2008

Perhaps it’s because I was a very young child growing up the U.K. in the 1970s that I’m so fond of this era. For me, it was a glorious time. It was all about being happy and free! The feathered hair, bell bottoms, disco dancing and glam rock (who can forget the divine Marc Bolan?) all had an effect on me to some degree.

Northern Soul Sister

Northern Soul Sister

Much too young for the nightclub scene, I would long to be just like my friend’s older siblings, who would dance away the weekend at the world famous Wigan Casino Nightclub. American music magazine Billboard, voted Wigan Casino “The Best Disco in the World”, ahead of New York’s Studio 54. This was exciting news for me! The Casino was also featured in “This England,” a TV documentary about the venue, which was filmed in 1977.

Northern Soul Trouser Suit with wide Oxford Bags circa 1970s

Northern Soul Trouser Suit with wide Oxford Bags circa 1970s

The documentary, however, was just about as close as I was ever going to get to it. Oh, how I longed to be eighteen! It was my first experience of what I thought being “cool” was all about. Never had I witnessed such amazing dancers who would spin around so aggressively, their flared trousers (known as Oxford bags) looked as if they would lift them off the ground! I wanted a pair immediately! I was such an innocent then and had little knowledge about the cocktails of amphetamines and other drugs that would be handed out like toffee just to keep these marvelous dancers going all night long. No matter, they were cool and fabulous and it looked just like the perfect heaven to me! No wonder my parents brushed off the mere idea of me ever going there! The Casino has long since gone, but the memory of it is still there and even more so for the thousands of dedicated Northern soul followers who would travel from all over the UK to dance away the weekend.

While all this fun and merriment was going on down at the Casino, our TV screens were bringing us style icons in the shape of Lauren Hutton, Joan Collins, Bianca Jagger, Anjelica Houston and of course Deborah Harry to name but a few. These women were strong, independent individuals who would stare out at me from the TV screen. I was transfixed! Everyone wanted to look like them.

Bianca Jagger

Bianca Jagger

At this time, clothing manufacturers were able to plan ahead because of advances in production technology, ensuring a uniformity of style, finish and cost. Standard, off-the-peg garments were available everywhere and for the first time, in all colors and sizes. Now it really was possible to wear clothing that mirrored our favorite fashion icon.

At the beginning of this decade the look was classic, streamlined, well-cut and unfussy. Jackets had wide lapels and trousers were flared. As the 1970s progressed, women’s clothes became more closely fitted to the body and skirts lengthened. There were lots of buttoned-down flap pockets, tight sleeves with deep cuffs and wide belts and, of course, the high-waisted trouser. In addition, trouser suits for women became very popular and there was a wide variety of fabrics from linen tweed to crushed velvet. Matt fabrics also became very in vogue; brushed cottons, wool jersey and imitation suede.

Colors were both bright and subtle. Canary yellow was teamed with dark brown and grey; lilac with purple and pink; slate grey, turquoise and terracotta were worn with black. For some, the 1970s was a time for a more unconventional way of dressing, and increasingly it became more individualistic. Though many people wore mass-produced clothing, it was often mixed with clothes from past decades and other cultures—much as we do today.

This decade was a special in so many ways.

The divine Marc Bolan

It was a time when I took for granted that the sun would always be shining every single day in the summer; a time for the Double Deckers (TV show), Banana Splits and Top of the Pops; feather boas, glittery eye shadow and lip gloss and of course, the divine Marc Bolan.

(Wigan Casino photos courtesy of For video footage of the Casino, visit

Writer Louise Sleigh has a vintage and retro fashion blog at


Gotta Love Designer Resale August 23, 2008

One day I will own a Chanel jacket. As you may or may not know, this runs the pocketbook about $7k , but if you’ve ever held a Chanel jacket in your hands, you’ll know why it takes 100 couture hours to make. Enter Tatiana Resale Boutique, one of the best connected NYC resale boutiques on the planet (self-described as: “high fashion at low cost.”) Sounds promising, right? And the good news is that you don’t have to live in NYC to take advantage of Tatiana’s stock. You can find it at my favorite designer den, e-bay: If you see a Chanel jacket, I’m size 4.


Make a little keepsake box from vintage trims

By Heather Lewis

This project is super easy and only takes about one hour to an hour-and-a-half. You will need the following supplies:

• Acrylic paint
• Paint brush
• Rhinestones, tear drop shaped glass beads and some type of plastic beads. Vintage beads work best however, if you can’t find those, any beads from the craft store will work (they need to be round like a doughnut).
• Little wooden box (I found mine at the dollar store). They have these at any craft store. It does not matter what size. Mine measures 4” x 4”.
• Hot glue gun and hot glue sticks.
• Water
• Paper towels
• Felt
• Scissors
• Seam binding

First: You have to paint your little box. Choose whatever color you like best. I painted my box a darker blue color and went over it with a lighter blue. Once the lighter blue was painted on, I took a paper towel and blotted the paint. This gives the box a bit of a weathered look. It turned out really nicely.

Second: You will take your little plastic doughnut beads and space them out on the top of the box before gluing them down. This will give you an idea of how many beads you will need for your box. Then you will glue those on with the hot glue gun one by one. This is a very tedious process however it’s the only way to do it. You will want to repeat this step on the top of each side as well. Once the doughnut beads have been added, you will glue on your rhinestones one by one. Again, this is a very tedious process but it’s the only way to do it.

This is what the box will look like once you have glued on the rhinestones and beads:

Third: You will take your rhinestones and teardrop shaped glass beads (can be plastic as well) and glue those onto the sides in the shape of a flower. My box only allowed for three on each side:

Fourth: You will cut your felt to the size of the bottom of your box. You will also need to cut two pieces for the inside top and bottom. Glue those on with the hot glue once you have determined what size the pieces need to be. Here’s a pic of the bottom of the box once the felt has been added:

Fifth: You need to add binding to all inside corners. I suggest taking the binding and gluing down each side you are working with until you have covered all sides. Once you’ve finished the binding, you will make four additional flowers on the inside top of the box. You will also add a teardrop bead to each inside corner:

WaLa! You have a lovely keepsake box:

You can find this box and many other handcrafted items at or You can also click on the banner below.


She’s a Betty: great indie fashion blog from across the Pond

The U.K. is such a style hotspot these days, and I’m always looking for a fab indie pipeline.  She’s A Betty hits the spot, self-described as a blog for women with a focus on vintage & DIY fashion, indie & budget style. Sounds very familiar, kind of like She’s a Betty and Athena were separated at birth or something. (Well, Athena may be the more bookish, stay-at-home type, while Betty is an about-town party girl.) So even though She’s a Betty is a blog, if she were a girl, she’d be my best friend.