Category Archives: Fashion

A Wild Week in Lancaster City: Car Accident, Locking Myself Out of the House, and More TV Show Info

So far I’ve been having a beautiful time in Lancaster city. The wild Autumn breezes whip the leaves along the sidewalk as I walk to the nearest coffee shop. I admire the houses I pass—cozy brick structures, but instead of identical row houses, they all have interesting unique designs.

But I’ve had my stressful moments too.

The (Very Minor but Very Weird) Car Accident

Last week as I was driving right through the heart of the city, some crazy lady hit my car.

I was stopped at a stoplight, in the middle lane, when whomp! Someone merged right into me from the left turn lane. I don’t know how she didn’t see me. I wasn’t even in her blind spot—I was in front of her.

The light turned green but I couldn’t move because her car was stuck on my mirror. And when she finally dislodged herself I still wasn’t sure what to do because there was no place to pull over. But I didn’t want to block the street, so I pulled forward to the stoplight, which was red again.

She drove behind me and pulled up beside me in the right lane. We rolled our windows down. “Get out and see if there’s any damage,” said the woman behind the wheel.

So I got out to check, but I didn’t look too closely. I didn’t want to hold up traffic again. “It looks fine,” I told her. “Are you okay?” I added, just to be nice.

“I’ll check,” said the woman. But I didn’t care about her car, so I drove off when the light turned green again and decided that that was the end of that.

Well what do you know, a few blocks later she pulled up next to me again, motioning me to stop. I pulled off on a side street. She pulled up next to me, double parked, and got out. “My car is damaged,” she said, pointing to the long black scrape where her car had gotten stuck on my mirror.

“I mean, you hit me,” I said.

“Do you have good insurance?”

“Sure, we can exchange insurance information if you want to,” I said. As I got out of my car I noticed that my door scraped a bit from a small dent. “I guess it would be good to have your insurance information just in case this dent ends up being costly to fix.”

But as soon as I started asking for her insurance information, she said “no, it’s okay, it’s okay,” and refused to give it to me.

So yeah…very sketchy.

I don’t mind about the dent—my car is already dented—but it certainly doesn’t help my driving anxiety. I flinch now when I see people merging. It feels like anyone could just plow into me for no reason.

The Onions that Locked Me Out of the House

Later that day I went grocery shopping at Strasburg Marketplace, where I found pre-chopped onions. I like onions but I don’t like chopping them, so I thought this was wonderful and bought some.

Spoiler alert: it wasn’t wonderful.

These onions had the strongest onion smell I’ve ever smelled. Every time I cooked with them, the smell pervaded the whole house. I opened doors. I ran the stove fan. But onion smells still dominated.

Not wanting to throw them out completely, I decided to make a rice and bean bowl and toss some raw onions on top. But I ate on the back porch, and I didn’t even open the container of onions until I was completely outside with the door shut.

Now the onion smell would never get into the house.

And, as it unfortunately turned out, neither would I.

Yes, the doorknob was locked, able to be twisted from the inside but not the outside, and I hadn’t realized it.

I had no keys and no shoes—just my cellphone, a pair of socks, dirty dishes, and a container of onions.

My roommate was at work and not answering her phone. I had a vague memory of her telling me how to find the spare key, but I searched through the yard and didn’t find it.

And then I was attacked by mosquitos. In half a minute I had eight giant, dime-sized bites up and down my arms and legs. I fled the yard, out onto the front sidewalk where there were no more mosquitos, and there called my friend Esta asking if I could come hang out at her place.

She picked me up, and there I hung out until my roommate came home.

More About the TV Show

In my last post, I talked about being a semi-finalist for the pilot of a potential new reality TV show called America’s Next Great Author.

Well, on Tuesday, all the semi-finalists were invited to a live Q and A. Now that that’s happened, I have a bit more information to share.

The difference between the pilot and the TV show

If America’s Next Great Author ever gets picked up as a reality TV show, this is how it will go:

In cities across America, writers will be invited to participate in “pitchapaloozas,” where they stand onstage and “pitch” their book idea to a live audience. Similar to something like American Idol, only instead of singing, writers have one minute to make you care about their book.

Each “pitchapalooza” will have a winner, and six winners will then live together in a house for a month. Most of the show will be about the winners as they each try to write a book during that month, and also do various interesting/creative writing exercises. If they successfully write a book in a month, they will get their book published!

They’re aiming for a fun/kind/creative/supportive vibe, like The Great British Baking Show.

For the pilot, they’re doing a mini version of this. 100 semifinalists (including me) are participating in a pitchapalooza. The winner will receive $2,500 and stay for a second day of shooting. I’m not exactly sure what will happen that second day, but they’re trying to do some things to replicate how things might be in the TV show when the winners are all in a house together.

With this footage, they’ll make a pilot, which will give networks an idea of what a full TV show could look like.


We found out that being in the pilot offers no guarantee that we’ll be in the TV show. If the show gets picked up, we’ll all have to completely re-apply and re-pitch our books if we want to be on it.

They initially told us that whoever wins this pilot pitchapalooza would be “featured” in the TV show if it gets picked up. A lot of us thought “featured” meant “be one of the six writers in the house.” But no…turns out it just means…some of your footage will be in the show? I’m not sure.

I could tell a number of people were disappointed about that.

How the Pitchapalooza will work

Even though there are 100 semi-finalists, only 20 people will get to pitch their book.

They invited more people than they needed, just in case some people wouldn’t be able to show up. Also, part of the tension that will make the show interesting is the way that all of us semi-finalists in the audience will be on the edge of our seats, wondering if we’ll get called to pitch next.

At this point no one, not even the show producers, knows who will be pitching. The names will be chosen randomly while we all sit in the audience hoping to hear our name.

The judges will choose a winner from the 20 pitches, based entirely on the strength of the pitch.

What Not to Wear

We also went over what we should and shouldn’t wear. Basically, we can’t wear logos or mascots because of licensing issues. And some prints, like polka dots and stripes, show up weirdly on camera, so we were advised to avoid them.

Which is cool except I was 100% planning to wear my favorite blue dress, and it has polka dots.

This blue dress has been my go-to dress for over 10 years. It’s comfortable—no tags, buttons, or zippers. It’s also “my color” and looks good on me. Perfect. Case closed.

But it has polka dots!

And I really didn’t have a plan B. Most of my interesting clothes are skirts that I pair with black shirts, and black just seems so boring if I’m gonna be on camera. I also have limited options since I left some of my clothes in Oregon.

I’m nervous about buying something new because I’m so picky about how clothes feel. Being on camera, and the pressure of pitching my book, is just too stressful of a thing to do in uncomfortable clothes.

But then I had an idea:

My poor blue dress is struggling these days. It still looks great from a distance, but up close it’s covered in snags, some of the dots are wearing off, the interfacing has dissolved, and the facing tends to flop out the back.

I’d already been thinking of trying to clone it—I just didn’t have the “push” to get it done.

Well, now I did.

Making My Dress for the Big City

My friends Esta and Janessa are really into color analysis right now. You know how back in the day that book Color Me Beautiful was all the rage, and people would talk about how they can’t wear this particular shirt because they’re an Autumn, not a Spring?

Well apparently color analysis is coming back in style, and I’m not mad about it.

So I asked the two of them if they could help me find fabric that’s my color, and they agreed! Saturday morning we set out for Zinck’s Fabric Outlet.

Essentially they draped me in lots of fabrics, and we set aside the ones that looked especially nice. The lighting was not ideal—harsh and florescent—but they were still able to pinpoint a selection of colors that looked nice on me.

Here are some of the best ones:

Janessa mostly took reference photos of the colors that looked nice, not the ones that looked bad, but here’s one photo where you can see the contrast. The green below was not my color.

Ultimately my favorites were the royal blue, the royal purple, the mint green/light aqua, and the deeper green. After that I narrowed it down by fabric type. The royal blue had the most similar weight and stretch to the original dress, so that’s what I bought, as well as thread and elastic.

You can’t see it in the picture because I’m showing the wrong side, but the deeper green is actually covered in sequins. Not only would a full dress of that fabric be quite “extra,” but I’m afraid I’d find it uncomfortable.

However, I was fascinated by it and decided to get a couple yards as backup. My plan is to make a t-shirt-like blouse and pair it with my pleated black skirt. If it is comfortable and looks better than the blue dress, or if I don’t get the blue dress done, I’ll wear the green shirt instead. Otherwise, I’ll take it along in the off chance that I win the whole thing and need an outfit for Day 2.

Here’s what the sparkly side looks like.

Doing It for the Plot and Content

The other day Jenny was telling me about her life, and said she was doing something “for the plot and content.”

“I don’t know what that means!” I said. “Is that Gen Z slang?”

“It’s part Gen Z slang, part inside joke with Kathrine and I,” said Jenny. She explained that if you “do something for the plot” it’s something you do because you imagine your life as a story that needs a better plot, and “doing something for the content” means you’re doing it to have interesting things to tell your long-distance friends when they call.

I kinda feel like I’m doing this TV pilot for the plot and content.

It’s marketed with a “we can make your dreams come true!” energy similar to, say, American Idol, like you’re supposed to come on the show desperate for the publishing deal that could change your life.

And I love that for people who thrive on that sort of thing, but that’s way too much stress and pressure for me. I want to have fun and make connections, but most of all I think I just want to know what it’s like to film a TV pilot.

I still really want to be one of the twenty people who gets to pitch. What an incredible experience! I really enjoy performance and public speaking so the thought of pitching makes me really excited, as well as nervous of course.

Unless I have to sign some funky nondisclosure agreement or something, I’ll tell you all about it later.

Meanwhile, I’ll plan to post about it on Instagram while I’m there, and also provide updates on clothing preparation and such. I’ve never cloned a dress before so…yeah who knows how this will go.


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Twitter: @emilysmucker
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Making a Purse out of a Shark Toy (Video)

With my book finished, I suddenly have time to make YouTube videos again. I’ve dabbled in various types of videos, but my favorite thing to do is make/sew stuff, so that’s what I’ll be focusing on in the near future.

Anyway, enjoy this video, and feel free to subscribe to my channel if you want to see more content like this!

You can order my book here.

You can find me on

Instagram: @emilytheduchess

Twitter: @emilysmucker



Patreon: (This is where I post bonus blog posts, about more personal/controversial subjects, for a subscription fee of $1 a month [or more if you’re feeling generous]. I try to post twice a month. My latest two posts were titled What 2020 Has Given; What 2020 Has Taken Away, and The Ditch on Either Side of the Road.)

Video: Turning an Ugly Sweatshirt into a Cute Skirt


Hey everybody! Today I have a fun video for you.

As a writer, I’m always in the market for cute and comfy clothing, so I impulsively bought this pink beaded sweatshirt when it was advertised to me on Facebook. And. Um. It wasn’t really cute. And it was huge.

So I decided to turn it into a comfy skirt, and film the transformation!

If you want to subscribe to my YouTube channel it’s super duper easy…just follow this link and click the red “subscribe” button under the video. This will make it easier for you to find my videos in the future. I mentioned in the video that I’m trying to get 1000 subscribers…basically, that’s the benchmark for when YouTube considers you to be a “real” YouTuber, and starts giving you a small portion of the add revenue. So I thought that would be a fun goal to try and hit this year!

The Great Thrift Store Haul


I miss making videos, so I decided to make one. This is Jenny and I chatting about our recent thrift store hauls.

Stumbling Into your Favorite Career

I read This Article yesterday on MSN (of course) about people who accidentally fell into a career that they loved.

It totally reminds me of me. I am in love with my temporary job of helping my Dad teach in the school I grew up in before the next term of college starts. It’s like, the fun of school without the schoolwork.

Wait…your school wasn’t fun?

Well mine was. So there. (cue trip down memory lane…)

Ooooh, what violent folks we are.

Awww look how cute I was back then. I still had my tooth. And I had a terrible taste in hair and covering styles.

(Above two photos stolen from Anna Stone’s facebook page)

Culturally relevant news of the day: Justin Beiber lost the Best New Artist Grammy to Esperanza Spalding. I have no idea what kind of music she sings, except that it is jazz, but I think she is absolutely gorgeous.

photo from

Jenny thinks her hair is weird but I love it and I am also obsessed with this outfit she is wearing. So unique, so beautiful, so modest. Wait, modest? How shocking! How groundbreaking!

Oh, and she is from Portland Oregon. Score!

And yes, I am afraid to look up more information on her because I’m scared that I won’t like her so much. Hee hee. For now I’ll just smile to myself that she won over the teen idol (read: pretty much literally worshiped) Justin Beiber.

Enough said.

Lady Gaga at the Grammys and Other Fascinating Topics

Here I am, trying to be culturally relevant by posting about Lady Gaga. Uh huh. I’ll tell you why: she arrived at the Grammys in an egg.

(Image from google images. Yes I blacked out the whole picture, because honestly, I’m not sure it’s worth looking at at all.)

Yes, that is her, inside a giant egg carried on a litter by slave-looking men in gold underpants. Hmmm. Does it ever strike you as odd that ultra-liberal “let’s repeal don’t ask don’t tell” Lady Gaga promotes slavery?

Or, more realistically, promotes having slave-looking men in gold underpants carry her around on a litter? Yeah. Something about this reminds me of the whole meat dress deal. Somehow, in my mind, ultra-liberal would be synonymous with animal-loving, at least animal-respecting, not raw-animal-wearing.

Just saying.

Today I wore my favorite silver dress which Mom made me when I graduated using fabric that was on clearance which she bought. But however on the other hand, my shoes cost me seven bucks at walmart, so all in all it was a pretty spendy outfit.

Also, unique, because one of my shoes had teeth marks in it. I think a dog got a hold of it. But I chose that outfit because I got up late and that was just what I threw on. It was right there, easy to grab, because I just wore the dress yesterday to sand my desk and have tea with my mother and sisters.

This is my plan. Next year at the Grammys, when Lady Gaga shows up in an egg carried by men in silver underpants, I’ll just casually walk up and show her my awesome silver dress. I am sure she’ll hire me to walk alongside her litter with my hand in the air, but the twist will be that I will be dressing modestly.


So shocking, in fact, that she will realize that the only thing left that she can do which will actually surprise people is to dress modestly herself.

Bwa ha ha ha, you’re no match for my evil schemes, Lady Gaga.

You know my shoes that the dog got a hold of? I bought them at walmart last summer. While I was walking to the check out counter I saw this girl named Darlani who I worked with at an after school program.

She also listens to Lady Gaga music.

Yep. If you wonder why I even care that some celebrity showed up at the Grammys in a giant egg, there is your answer. The girls in the world who are tweens and going through hard things and who I like to hang out with are listening to her music, and I want to know about the people they’re using as role models.

Just sayin’

Sisters and also, like, Fashion

Fashion bloggers always upload pictures of themselves wearing whatever they wore that day.

Then they talk about it.

You know, what inspired it, where they got the clothes, how much the clothes cost, etc .

This is what I wore to work today.

Aka, to help my dad teach school.

Aka, to answer flags and score tests and drink tea. It was a lovely day.

On the way home I had an idea. I could get Jenny to take pictures of me, and I could post them on my blog like I was a real fashion blogger.

THEN I got another brilliant idea. We could go down by the river to take pictures. And we could have tea. And play tag. And stuff.

Yes, this is what Oregon looks like in the winter when it is not raining. Be envious.

There was one problem with the outing that Jenny and I planned: We couldn’t find Mom’s camera to use. So instead we asked Amy to join us.

You won’t see her in any of the pictures. She took them all.

Aren’t they gorgeous?

I am in love with this picture of Jenny. So beautiful.

Oh yes, I nearly forgot.

I am wearing….

A black denim skirt I got at goodwill or something years and years ago when mom still bought my clothes. It is long and had arabic writing on the tag so I’m pretty sure it came from some Arab land and that is why it is so long and modest.

Both my pink t-shirt and pink scarf came from Amy. I did not borrow them, she gave them to me. I am not sure why she decided to give up the t-shirt. But she gave me the scarf because once she tried to wear it and it was so big and clunky and awkward looking that Jenny and I laughed at her.

I thought it might be weird to wear a scarf and a shirt that almost-but-not-totally matched but then I remembered that the Arab fashionistas do that all the time. So I guess I have a very Arab inspired outfit.There you can see my socks which sort-of but don’t really match too. And my shoes. I borrowed them from Jenny since I couldn’t find any of my shoes and I was tired of borrowing from Amy all the time.

Jenny said, “actually those are Amy’s shoes. I borrowed them from here.”

It is nice to have the same shoe size as your sisters. Although those shoes are actually pretty ugly. I am not a big fan of brown or tan things.

The only part of that outfit that I actually spent any money on is the sweater.

It cost $1.50. I got it at a cute little thrift store in downtown Harrisonburg on the day that sweaters were half off.

Don’t you think it adds a nice touch? Retro, fifty’s thing, and also modern and trendy because horizontal black and white stripes are so in right now.

This is how I am: I love fashion, and I study fashion, and thus I notice Arab style and what is trendy right now and what adds a 50’s vibe.


I still get dressed in the morning by just throwing something on.


Why on earth would you waste time choosing something to wear when you could just throw something on and have extra time to spend with your sisters?

I don’t like kleenexes

I have never really liked kleenexes, actually. Why did mom always have to buy those little kleenex boxes to set in my school desk? Why couldn’t I just grab a roll of toilet paper from the bathroom like everybody else?

Toilet paper is cheaper. And you can get a big piece or a little piece, depending on how much you  need.

But once when I was telling my mom all this, she proceeded to tell me about how, in her childhood, her friends would ask for a kleenex, and her mom would tell them to just use toilet paper, and she was extremely embarrassed. Something like that. So of course then I felt bad and never again complained about kleenexes. Well maybe I did. I don’t actually remember.

I still don’t like kleenexes. Every time Mom visits me, large ugly flowered boxes appear all over the house, and I don’t know what to do with them. I suppose I could use them, but I’d much rather replace them with my latest craft obsession, homemade kleenex boxes.

So easy to make. And fun. Get a coffee can or a reliv can or some sort of can that’s around the same size as a roll of toilet paper and has a soft plastic lid. Cut a hole in the lid, pull out the cardboard tube in the roll of toilet paper, and stick the roll in the can. The paper should be pulled from the center of the roll and go out the hole in the lid.

Easy sneezy.

And fun. Cause you can decorate the can however you want.

And you can refill it again and again, unlike normal kleenex boxes.

And you have all the amazing benefits of using toilet paper.

The first time I made a kleenex box out of a reliv tin it went very well. I had to unroll some toilet paper from the roll to make it fit in the can, but I just folded up the extra and stuck it in my bathroom and used it.

But yesterday when I got a roll of toilet paper to put in my latest kleenex box I ran into a problem. All I had left was this thin one-ply stuff like they have in gas station restrooms. Which meant that a LOT of toilet paper fit on that roll. So to get it small enough I had to unroll and unroll and unroll until I had piles and piles of extra toilet paper around me. So much that I got sick of trying to fold it up. And it seemed wasteful to just throw it away. So instead I tried to make a sort of paper mache out of it.

I really have no idea how to paper mache. Like most craft projects I attempt to do, I made it up as I went along. I soked it in water and elmers glue and then tried to form it into something.

It didn’t go too well.

Finally I made a sort of bowl. No idea how it’s going to turn out. It’s still trying to dry.

Different subject:

I have so much fun layering my clothes and such to make them unique and modest, but that doesn’t work well in the summer. What I need is t-shirts.

So today I took this Seattle Seahawks t-shirt my brother gave me that hung like a sack, and took it in. It was so easy. I just measured two inches in on the side from the hem to the tip of the sleeve, and surged it all the way.

Now I have a t-shirt that fits me, is long, and doesn’t have those “itty bitty cap sleeves” that my mom detests so much.

I feel very clever and thrifty at the moment. 🙂