Well, I’m Still Alive

I haven’t been posting recently because I’ve been quite ill. I’m going on a month now and some days it feels as though there’s no end in sight. I had hoped to be starting my Merida costume but I have a policy, “never sew when not in top form”. It’s just a waste of fabric otherwise. I have no intention of ruining a bunch of expensive fabric when I sew everything all crooked during a coughing fit. Or somehow messing up my pattern. I’m just too dizzy to be trusted to cut a straight line. 

Hopefully I’ll be better soon and I’ll be able to start my project. I’ll be sure to update here once that happens. Until then…

Crafting In Small Spaces

I wanted to get something up before going to bed tonight and since I spent some time organizing this today I figured this is what I would write about.

Before going away last month my husband bought me a little sewing table. It’s the Sauder Sewing and Craft table from Amazon. It was inexpensive, would fit where I needed it, and had great reviews. You can see it here, http://www.amazon.com/Sauder-Sewing-Cinnamon-Cherry-Finish/dp/B005405RBS/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1395224974&sr=8-2&keywords=sewing+table

Prior to buying this I just had my machine on the dining room table. That was fine for short term, but it was getting annoying having it there. Now I have a nice home for my machine and embroidery unit that doesn’t take up very much space at all.

Here it is.

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As you can see I have a stylish little child lock on it. My son likes to court disaster so this is to discourage exploration. Although he has figured out how to get it off already, he mostly leaves it alone because the lock means “off limits”.

I usually have the cover on my machine but I took it off while I was working and hadn’t put it back on. The thread rack was also from Amazon and is fairly nice. It was a lot less expensive than the one my Viking dealer is selling and it looks pretty much the same. I don’t have the space inside the cabinet to store it so it sits on top. Really it doesn’t look too bad, but I do need to put the colors in order. 

 

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This is what it looks like open. There’s a lot of “stuff” crammed in there but I don’t have a lot of other places to store it. I really need to get  the hall closet in order. But it’s one of those things. If I try to work on it when my son’s awake he feels the need to “help”. But if I try to work on it when he’s sleeping I disturb him (the closet is right by his door). What I need is a couple of hours and my husband to get him out of the house otherwise it’ll never get done. 

But back to the cabinet. The hanging shelves are ugly beyond belief but that’s nothing a little contact paper won’t fix (insert evil laughter). Sorry, inside joke. Moving on…

The hanging shelves have removable dividers. I haven’t really played with them much but they’re okay. They’re actually quite spacious and deep. There’s more than enough room for you’re usual sewing supplies. I have all your basics in there, thread, spare needles, pins, random specialty feet, etc. and I still have loads of space for more.

The shelves to the right are fairly deep and are perfect for my patterns, hoops, notebooks, stabilizer, and more. The biggest roll of stabilizer is several inches too long, but it’s fine on the floor there for now. The shelf above it is meant to store the actual machine on when you’re not using it. But I found it works better for housing the embroidery unit. The only thing is the embroidery unit is so big that I had to pull the cabinet out from the wall a bit more, otherwise the door wouldn’t close. This is more an issue of the machine being really big, not the cabinet being too small. For reference that’s a full 25 yard bolt of muslin it’s sitting on and it’s the exact width and length of the shelf, so it’s a good size. I have my biggest hoop laying on top of it all as it was just a smidge too long to fit on the shelves.

I’m very happy with this cabinet and would totally buy it again. Once we build our house I’ll have a real craft room. But I could see this ending up in the garage or something. It’s a nice little table and seems relatively sturdy. It is the Target, Ikea type stuff but still, nice for what it is. It’s only required to last me a couple of years and I’m sure it will. I can’t wait to get to work on my upcoming projects. I’ve been looking online at fabric and I need to go to JoAnns too. Hopefully I find just the right stuff soon. 

Story Time Just Got A Lot More Complicated

As mentioned previously I just got back from trips to Disney World and Disneyland. Now anyone who’s ever been to one of these parks knows you can’t go two feet without running into a little girl in full princess regalia. You can’t go into any of the shops without seeing princess garb either. So while waiting for our lunch reservations my friend and I were browsing and realized that we could fit into some of those costumes. It’s a sad state when two full grown women can fit into children’s clothing. Thank you childhood obesity, sheesh. I actually measured one of my (adult) dresses against one of the “kid sized” princess ones. 

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The red dress is an adult size Small, I bought it at one of the parks. The purple dress is a kids Rapunzel dress in an XL. Sorry for the bad photo, I took it when I was in the hotel room, it was spur the moment so I could post it on Facebook for one of my relatives. But yes, the kids dress is bigger. I know you all can’t see my shocked face, but believe me I’m making one- still.

My friend and I had been talking about buying one while we were in the shop but had to leave for lunch. I ended up going back to try a few on. In fact I’ve tried on basically every princess dress the parks have on offer (save for Elsa and Anna, they’re all gone- on both coasts). What I found is that I am 5’10″ so the dresses with shorter waists (think Merida or Ariel) didn’t work well on me. However the Cinderella, Aurora, and Rapunzel dresses fit really, really well. I held a Jasmine outfit up to me and it would have fit too but there was no changing room to double check. It’s funny, when my MIL saw me holding it even she said “Wow, that looks like it would fit you”. I know.

So if you’re not massive and you’re hoping to be a Disney Princess for Halloween you might want to consider the kids department. I’m not exactly slight, I’m tall, have broad shoulders, and weigh 143 pounds, so these will fit most women assuming you’re not too busty. I’ve found the Disney Parks costumes to be the best made, but Disney Store costumes are pretty nice as well. Also, they’re a lot less expensive than adult costumes of the same character. Something else to consider is that the kids costumes cover. So many of the adult costumes are just that, they’re “adult” if you catch my drift… I think they only really appeal to club goers in their early 20′s and older women with really bad judgement. So these are a great option for adults looking to maintain some modesty. I should point out that these dresses will not be full length on an adult, for the most part. But they’re so cute you may be willing to over look that. As I mentioned before I’m 5’10″ and the Rapunzel dress fell a few inches below the knee. So if you’re average height it’s would hit you in the “right” spot as Rapunzel’s dress in the movie is tea length. 

Here’s a few shots of it on my dress form. This is just a cute decorative one I got at HomeGoods (for $45!!!!). I can’t remember the measurements but they weren’t super far off from mine. She’s a bit more busty with a smaller waist, but adult sized just the same.

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As you can see the design elements are nice. Not exactly screen accurate, but still pretty good. I have to say it’s really well put together. I know there are a lot of parent sites that balk at the cost of these dresses but I found them to be really well priced (especially with the annual pass discount) for the quality. Of course I’m not going to outgrow this dress in a few months either. But still, this is totally something that several kids could wear, the quality is seriously that good. It’s not cheap and overly costumey where you don’t want to touch the fabric, the seams are so so, and there’s exposed elastic, etc. It’s also not the best costume I’ve ever seen, but those cost hundreds.

I was ambivalent about purchasing it but my husband convinced me. It fit, is less expensive than the adult ones, and I do still dress up every year. Plus my son freaked out when he saw me in it. Apparently “Rapunzel Mama” is waaay better than regular Mama. After we got back from our trip I put it straight on my dress form. So the next morning after I breastfed him he turned around, saw it, pointed and screamed. He was so happy. So yeah, it looks like it’s going to get a lot of wear since the kid is overwhelmed with joy his mother can double as a princess. Fine by me, it saves me a flight and hotel stay.

Of course now I feel the need to create something more screen accurate. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m looking for projects to use my new machine on or what. But I’ve ordered samples of screen accurate fabrics from Spoonflower and have been hunting for lace. Although my machine can supposedly make lace, so I might just have to go that route. :D I’m waiting for my points to be redeemable so I can get the endless embroidery hoop. That way I can do the embroidery on the skirt (as well as make the lace). In the meantime I’ve been looking for embroidery patterns and thinking of just trying to sketch my own. I can draw so that’s not the issue, I’m just concerned with getting it “wrong”. I have this amazing embroidery software, it’s called TruEmbroidery and is really the only embroidery software for Mac’s. Once I use it more I’ll post a review since there aren’t that many out there. But so far it’s pretty cool and easy to use.

I also want to make a Merida dress. I asked my husband if we could go to Disney’s Halloween party for my and my son’s birthday. He said we’ll see, but I’m hopeful. If we do I want to be Merida. My son loves the movie, he loved meeting Merida, and I think he’ll be really cute as a bear. That’ll be a really easy costume to make as well. The boys are all black with grey fur around their blue eyes. I plan to take one of his existing costumes and use it as a pattern. If you remember my very first post there was an image of the Tigger costume he has. He has that one in several sizes and it would be really easy to modify. I could also just get a black footed romper and sew a hood on if I’m feeling really lazy. My son loves wearing costumes and is happy to wear a hood. A hat would be easier but for some reason he doesn’t care for them. Well unless you put it on in front of a mirror so you can tell him how fabulous he looks, then he’ll keep it on!

Here’s the pattern I bought.

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It’s a McCall’s and even comes with instructions on how to make the belt! There is a seller on Etsy that makes incredible reproductions in real leather, but they’re sooo expensive. So I’ll have to think on it. I could probably make or find something less expensive that looks just as good. For the sash I think I want to have something custom made on Spoonflower. It’s just a small piece but why not right?

As I start working on these I’ll post photos of my progress. There’s a lot of time before Halloween but as anyone who sews or crafts can tell you, you have to start early. I just finished adjusting my dress form and covering her. Now I need to make my final decisions about how I want the dress to look. Do I want the fancy betrothal dress, her everyday dress, or the sort of in-between Face Character dress?

Here’s what the Face Characters dress looks like.

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Sorry for the coloring. My husband was taking the photos and one of us must have hit the “fancy” color options on the iPhone. We bought the park photos but they’re on another computer. It still gives you an idea of what the Park dresses look like. It’s sort of like the stylized makeover version of Merida that everyone got freaked out over. But I like it, so I may go with this version. It’s kind of a happy medium.

Eating Gluten Free At Walt Disney World, Not the Cake Walk They Claim

Okay, so this is going to be a quick post. I have a lot of things to do and not much time to do them tonight. I’d simply rather be sleeping than doing anything else. But, I thought I should get this up sooner rather than later.

So a week or so ago I went to Walt Disney World with my husband, son, and a couple of friends who’s stay overlapped ours. As you already know, I cannot eat gluten. This has not been a challenge in the past while at WDW, but sadly it has become one. Now while things weren’t quite as bad as they were at Disneyland there were still issues. For example, I can no longer eat the candy apples anywhere. Unless I’m okay with just the plain red break your teeth ones. You can get those at Downtown Disney and one place in Hollywood studios. However cross contamination can be an issue so I didn’t get one. In years past the “good” ones used to be safe at the candy shop on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. They used some caramel from a can whereas everyone else was making it from scratch (or maybe it was the other way around). Either way they knew what I was talking about and I had quite a few sugar fests over the years. That is over now. When I go in to ask I get “the blank stare”- you know the one. Then they have to “go ask someone” and next thing you know they’re having a meeting and trying to figure out what gluten is before telling me nothing is safe. Also, many of the prepackaged snacks now say “May Contain Wheat” and there’s no company to Google. So basically it’s dead end food. It’s springs from nowhere and just shows up at the park. No one manufactures it and all they know is, it’s not safe for me. What else is new…

Moving on to restaurants. On more than one occasion I was told I should head over to Cosmic Rays, they can do gluten free food for me. Well that’s all well and good, but sometimes you don’t want to walk all the way over to the other side of the park to have yet another hamburger on a horrible tasting bun. So I didn’t. I only ate there once in my entire trip and it wasn’t that great. Now in all fairness the people who work there are great. You could really tell that the few people who are in charge of dealing with “allergy guests” actually care. I’m willing to bet it’s a volunteer position and those who are putting their names in have someone they love dealing with food issues. No one else would care that much.

I did try some other quick service places and once again I was handed a book with ingredients. This was a slightly upscale version of Disneyland’s ingredient statement ripped straight off the box and handed to me. No, this was a fancy book with photo copies of ingredient statements ripped straight off the box. There was never any allergen statements attached to these lists (which means there were no allergens or someone was breaking the law). And asking if something was safe was again met with “the blank stare”. So I was forced to spend my trip Googling companies that in some cases only distribute to theme parks and restaurants. This should not have to be my responsibility if Disney is telling their guests that you can come to their park and eat hassle free. They’ve done away with the safe food lists in both DL and WDW, claiming this is easier for me. It is not since they’e stopped educating their staff. I met a family with a son who couldn’t have gluten or dairy and I told them to just plain stay away from Disneyland. They had some medical conference for their son in California and were debating a few days at that park. But they’d had so many problems in Florida they were on the fence. I was really sad to tell them there was really no point in visiting. If they thought eating at WDW was hard then they were in for an uphill battle in California.

Here are some things I can tell you are safe after talking with people who actually cared about their job, and googling company info.

The roasted pork shank at Gaston’s Tavern

LeFou’s Brew at Gastons Tavern

On my first attempt to find out the gluten free status of these foods I got nowhere and left empty handed. After googling company info I found out that the four ingredients that make up LeFou’s Brew are all gluten free. The roasted pork shank wasn’t so easy and in fact I never did have it there. I had an identical meal at a quick service spot at Hollywood Studios (I forget the name of the place). The manager there actually just knew what was safe and what wasn’t. He had the book just so we could double check ingredients if we wanted but he was extremely confident. We also had to wait a bit longer as he wanted to get us our meal separately so as to be sure no cross contamination occurred (they also sold sandwiches at this location). It was totally worth the wait. I would recommend the pork shank and we also got a turkey leg (still gluten free) which was fantastic as well.

I was also lucky enough to eat at the new Be Our Guest restaurant twice! Once we waited in line for lunch (not too bad, about 30-40 minutes). Later that day we checked back to see if anyone had canceled their reservation and we were in luck, an 8:10pm spot had opened up! The cast member said she was happy she’d asked us if we wanted it as most couples with a baby would pass on such a late meal (Chicken Little stays up late and we have a late dinner most nights). The cast member standing next to her told the couple in line beside us that there were no open spots. But as soon as he heard what the girl we were dealing with said he told that couple to hold on while he double checked. So it makes me wonder if they do have openings at times but simply don’t offer them to some guests. That or they don’t really bother to check. So if you really want to eat there be persistent! Either way I’m glad we got the chance to go back. My son acted up at lunch so I didn’t get to eat my soup when it was hot and the cheese got weird. The second time around however it was fabulous. I love French Onion Soup and had long ago given up hope I’d ever have it in a restaurant again. But they do have a gluten free option and it’s divine. They also have a gluten free dessert, a lemon and raspberry cream puff. My server (who also had Celiac disease) said it was so amazing she didn’t even feel sad she couldn’t have anything else, I agree. Now it’s not a light cream puff, it’s very dense. Probably due to the gf ingredients but it was still soooo good. I also want to give a compliment to the staff at this restaurant. The Chef was really kind and knowledgable and almost anything I wanted could be done gf (that’s for both lunch and dinner). This is in comparison to Ariels Grotto in California Adventure where the chef seemed ticked off there were gf diners (we went back few days ago and he seemed in better spirits so perhaps he was just having an off day?) and then my salad had blue cheese (there’s no such thing as gf blue cheese) on it and they also messed up my drink. So I ate my meal with a bit of fear. I also got a novelty cup but was told they were out of the clip on Ariel’s (how that happens at Ariel’s Grotto is beyond me, but it’s nothing that shocked me given my experiences here). Be Our Guest staff members care, know what their doing, and offer a wide range of choices. I also got the novelty goblet which was really fun. I like to collect those cups from different places. I feel like there’s always going to be something on every that menu I want and can’t have, but a cup won’t hurt me and makes up for quite a bit. I know everyone has their own goofy little souvenir things they like, I collect pins and cups. In fact when I was buying dishes for this new house I didn’t even get mugs to match my plates, cause I knew I’d never use them. So I saved the money and just went straight to the fun cups and mugs. :)

Here’s a couple shots of the cups I got (as well as one I didn’t). These are Disney promotional images but I doubt they’ll care I’m using them.  After all I’m using them to tell you how great these cups are and that you should totally cave and buy them.

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This one is awesome. It’s huge and ridiculous and barley fits into my cupboard. I had been sitting there wondering how I was going to wash the thing when my server read my mind. The cup part on the top screws off! There were no instructions on care but I’d hand wash for longevity no matter what. The base flashes red and blue and has a compartment for battery replacement. Even if you can’t get into this restaurant you can still buy the cup. There’s a small shop next to Gaston’s Tavern that sells it for the same price as in the restaurant (although you won’t get a drink with it).

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I got the Belle cup of course, but I’ll probably get the Gaston one on my next trip. I forget what’s on the reverse of the Gaston cup but on the Belle one there’s a Rose. I want to say it was $7 versus $4 for LeFou’s Brew in one of these versus the regular plastic cup. They’re the same size so you’re not getting more or less, you’re really just paying for the cup. I don’t mind though. I like to recreate theme park drinks and prefer to use my “special” cups when I’m at home. I’ve done been making Butter Beer for ages in my Harry Potter mugs! I hope to try and make LeFou’s Brew as well, though the ingredients may be harder to come by.

So all in all I had a good trip. The food situation could have been a lot better but it’s definitely not as bad as in California. Disney’s response to getting rid of the food lists is ridiculous. They claim to be trying to cater to the ever changing tastes of their guests. But from what I can see aside from a couple of new restaurants nothing has changed in years. In fact much of what is being offered in these restaurants was already being served in various places throughout the park. What they mean to say is they don’t like having to contact vendors every month to be sure everything is still safe. Not that it really matters as over the years I’d kept some of the safe food lists and had found virtually no variation from month to month, year to year. So the few hours they had a staff member devote to this task was not worth the thousands of dollars of revenue they were generating by being “allergen safe”. And once word starts to spread about how hard it’s getting to eat onsite I’m willing to bet they’ll start loosing money. You would think a corporation like Disney would know better. With the rise of food allergies and increased diagnoses of Celiac disease people like me are not going to suddenly vanish. If anything we’re going to become the majority. So having some safe options will be a necessity if they don’t want it to affect revenue- which at some point it will.

As always I plan to contact Disney- again. I will again send a link to my post and we’ll see what they have to say. Hopefully I’ll get an intelligent response this time.

So Much To Do, So Little Time

Okay, so I’m still here but it’ll probably be a bit before my next real post. I was away last week, and I’m going away again tomorrow. There was also talk about going away again later in the month! So while I actually have a lot to write about I just don’t have the time to do it. I’ve also been sick, so although I contacted a new ballet studio and they say they have space for me I’ve been too ill to get down there. Ugh!

 

Things to look forward to as soon as I have the time:

1. My new sewing machine! Since I wrote about the new one I was getting I’ve returned it and bought another. So for those of you keeping count I’m on my third machine but I promise it’s the last. It’s a very fancy one that can do embroidery and fancy sewing. It basically does everything but cut the pattern for you, it’s amazing. Which is good since…

2. I’m going to make at least two costumes. I decided while I was at Disney World that I really, really want to go there for their Halloween celebration for my and my son’s birthday this year (assuming we have the time). So I want to make a Rapunzel and a Merida costume by then. I still don’t know which one I’ll wear but it’s my goal. I think I may just want to do the Rapunzel because it’s prettier (and more labor intensive) but I like Merida’s character better. I wouldn’t even need a wig for Merida, I’d just need to curl my hair and add a bit of red temporary dye (although I’ve been considering going red permanently).

3. When I was at WDW my trip overlapped with my friends visit. She was there to run the Disney Princess 5k and get engaged!!!!! Of course she didn’t know about the last part. But she showed me her medal, running outfit, princess sneakers and the next thing I knew I was agreeing to do the race with her next year. For the record I don’t run, but walkers are welcome and I’ll do just about anything for princess inspired clothing. She’s coming to visit me this summer and we’re going to work on our running/walking outfits. She’s into crafting and she taught herself knitting and crochet as an adult. She wants to get into sewing and I have 20+ years experience so I’m happy to help.

4. I was able to eat as WDW, it was a lot easier than at Disneyland but there will still a lot of issues. I’ll probably write about that first since safe places to eat gluten free are important to a lot of people. For now lets just say if you’re looking to visit Disney, you can’t eat gluten, and you can only afford to do this trip once, head to Florida. Just don’t expect to eat very many treats. And you’ll probably have to do a lot of leg work on your own to find out whats safe (although I’m going to help you there!).

 

So all in all there will be mostly craft posts coming up. I just ordered some test swatches and a color chart from Spoonflower and they supposedly take two weeks to print, then ship. So I’m glad I did it now instead of waiting any longer. I bought some amazing embroidery software and can’t wait to start putting it to the test. I just need more time to play with it, but I haven’t really had any. Hopefully soon I’ll have a chance to sit still and try some stuff out. I bought a dress form and am in the process of padding and covering it. It’s taking forever but I know it’ll be worth it in the end. Besides, it’ll be forever before any fabric I buy gets here so it’s not like I don’t have the time to do it. 

My First Yumiko!

As promised here is my review of my new Yumiko.

First off is shipping- it took forever. They say to expect 4-6 weeks for construction and shipping but it was more like 8. Then, after all I paid they shipped it in one of those plastic bag mailers and it was just stuffed into a plastic bag with my name, the colors, size, and style number printed on it. I was so happy when I ripped open the package but after thinking about it I was pretty miffed. This leo was more than a hundred dollars, and they couldn’t even be bothered to fold it? So it arrived wrinkled and if it was handled roughly at all it could have been seriously damaged in shipping and I would have had to wait another two months for a replacement. I don’t think it would kill them to spring for a box and wrap it a little better. 

Now for the actual leotard.

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The first photo is the front and the second is the back. As you can see the neckline in the front is about two inches higher than it is in the back. The wrinkling is due to the way it was packaged. For those who are interested the style is Marieke, and the colors are lavender for the body and atoll for the trim.

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I was aiming for better light here but didn’t get it. For the most accurate color look for lavender on the color chart I posted before. It rained all day here and I could not get an accurate color shot to save my life today. Anyways, it drapes quite nicely and I think that’s probably part of why they fit the way they do.

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This is a shot of it inside out. As you can see the lining is the same material as the rest of the leo which I think makes it feel more substantial. The lining is only on the front panel and is not on the back or the sleeves.

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Please forgive my juvenile chipped and sparkly nail polish. ;) This is the lining and the front panel. 

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That’s the tag, I’m sure it’ll be gone after my next class.

 

Full disclaimer it’s been a while since I’ve been to a class so any muscle I might have had has been transformed to marshmallow. I hope you all appreciate this.

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As you can see I’ve yet to perfect the art of the selfie. I’m positive there’s a way to do them so I appear less flat (both front and back) and slimmer but I have no freaking clue how. 

I happened to have on one of those stretchy bras I talked about before and decided to keep it on. That way you could have an idea of how low cut it is. It comes to camisole level for the most part. The leg opening is generous and I opted for the normal low leg. My inseam is 36 inches (yes, you read that right) so I don’t need the high cut to make them look longer. Nature took care of that for me. I was surprised the sleeves were long enough, I was worried since my arms are super long too. I don’t think I’d try the full sleeves but I’d defiantly get 3/4 ones again.

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I wanted to include this side shot so you can really see the difference the front panel makes. This fabric isn’t exactly being stretched to the max and it’s still quite sheer. So if you’re getting anything this color or lighter I highly recommend getting the full front panel and not just the bust panel. Otherwise you may end up embarrassed…

 

All in all I’d say I’m very happy with this purchase. It was expensive but this leotard is so comfortable and it’s really well made. The fabric just feels nice, both in my hand and on. I could see this particular fabric lasting a very long time even with less than stellar care. If I do take care of it I’m sure I’ll have it for many years to come. I will probably add one or two more to my collection before the year is out. Now I just need to find a new studio so I can put this one to work!

If anyone has any questions feel free to ask them in the comment section, I’ll answer you as soon as I can!

 

Gluten Free Chicken Parmesan, It Does Exists!

Okay, so I’m just going to get this out of the way. My husband came up with this- partly. 

 

I’ve been off the mainland for so long I didn’t even know things like this existed.

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Now I will never say I approve of the various frozen foods out there because I don’t. But these aren’t half bad. My husband and I tried making our own with gluten free flour but they were only so-so. These are actually like the real deal. I would prefer to make my own with real chicken but what can I say, Tyson has me beat on this one.

Well one day I got the idea to make a marinara for a dipping sauce. I’d always liked that as a kid. The mozzarella sticks and chicken strips at Friendly’s are a happy memory for me. Yes, the more horrible something is for you the better it tastes. Seems to be the rule. Anyways, I wanted to make a dipping sauce and I came up with a pretty good one off the bat. I don’t have a blender or food processor so I just bought Barilla’s basic marinara sauce, it’s this one here.

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It was inexpensive and had gluten free right on the label. Since I find unaltered jar sauce to be revolting I added black pepper, chili pepper, red pepper flakes, and parmesan cheese. Then I heated it to melt the cheese. I cooked the strips and just ladled this on top, it was actually really good. It was while we were eating my husband asked me why didn’t I just use the chicken strips to make a chicken parm. It was truly one of those “face-palm” moments. There was no reason not to and I don’t know why I didn’t think of it first. It makes perfect sense but I guess sometimes it’s just hard to see things in a different light. I don’t usually like frozen stuff so it never occurred to me it could become something more than what it was. 

I’ve been trying some of the different gluten free pasta brands and I found the gf Barilla on sale so I used that for this dish. It’s okay and I’d buy it again. I still think I prefer Heartland best, but the Barilla held up better as leftovers. The Heartland brand tends to get squishy with time so you really need to eat it that day. That is unless you’re not adding a sauce, then it’s fine. 

Here’s the finished dish.

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That’s Barilla gf Penne, with mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. On top of that is the Tyson gf chicken strips, a few minutes before they were done I took them out and added my cheeses to the top. Then I popped them all back into the oven so it would melt.

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I opted to ladle a bit more sauce on top and added yet more cheese. Ever since I was pregnant with my son I’ve been such cheese fiend. It’s one pregnancy craving that simply didn’t fade, but perhaps got worse. In any case this was quite good and I plan to make it again in the future. It was fast, easy, and very filling. The whole family loved it and I’m happy I can enjoy chicken parm again.

Almost Here

I’ve bought a new sewing machine and I can’t wait until it gets here. Supposedly it’ll arrive Tuesday and I hope so. I’m really looking forward to trying it out. I bought some stabilizer, pre wound bobbins, embroidery thread, and an extra smaller hoop to go with it. I decided to get a machine that could also do embroidery since I like that sort of thing. I forever find myself staring at the monogram section of J. Crew and Neiman Marcus (did you know you could get monogrammed Uggs!). I love monograms and have a number of bags with mine on them. I have an L.L. Bean backpack I needed in a hurry so I skipped the monogram on that one and I still regret it almost six years later. Now I can finally add one and I couldn’t be more pleased. This is the machine I bought

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It’s a Brother se400, I bought it from Amazon. It was very reasonably priced and received fantastic reviews. Now obviously I would prefer separate sewing and embroidery machines, after all who wouldn’t? But I’m short on space in our new apartment and liked the notion of only having to deal with storing one machine. We’ll probably start to build our new house in a year or so and I’ll have a proper sewing room with a place to keep these things then. I figured I could use that time and this machine to learn about machine embroidery and research the really fancy ones. Then when I’m ready to make the investment in separate machines I’ll know exactly what I want.

This machine will only embroider a 4×4″ space but I think that’s fine for now. It’s not an especially large area but what am I really looking to embroider right now? My son is still a baby and onesies aren’t that big. I like monograms and small accents added to cuffs and collars, so I don’t need anything too big just yet. Everyone online says you outgrow that 4×4″ section quite quickly but I’ll only be using it for a short time in the grand scheme of things. I suspect I’ll even still use it after upgrading to a larger “better” machine. No reason not to if I needed to do a few things at once. We tend to travel on short notice and it’s nice to think I could add a few designs to a number of things before hopping on a plane. No matter how fancy and fast your machine is, they can only do one project at a time.

I’m very much looking forward to adding little characters and accents to things, not just monograms. Brother customers have access to iBroider.com where there are lots of designs to pick from and they have about 100 different designs with Tigger on them alone. That will make my little Tigger fanatic very happy. I see tiny Tiggers being added to many of his bibs and such. They also have all the regular Disney characters, flowers, nautical accents, borders, etc. There are literally thousands of designs to pick from. At first I really wanted the machine with all the Disney designs built in. But when I compared the cost I realized I’d be paying about $400 more and wouldn’t get a larger embroidery space and would have a bunch of characters I didn’t want/need. I’d rather save the money and buy just the characters I want. Right now I have 13 different designs I’m mulling over in my cart and the total is only $87, and I haven’t even factored in the 20% off they’re offering this month. So for $370 (that’s the cost of the machine and embroidery designs after discount) I can have everything I want with little I don’t. So while the Disney machine might have been nice, I don’t think it’s worth the $700 price tag. At least for me.

Now as you can imagine I have ideas stacking up in my head. At some point I expect they’ll topple, lets hope I can see some come to fruition before then. I’ve bought some spandex and FOE to practice on. I figured I could make some covers for my magic band. It would also give me an opportunity to try my hand at sewing with super stretchy material. If it goes well I might try to make a leotard, but I didn’t want to spend a bundle on the fabric before I’ve had a chance to experiment. It’s $17 a yard or more and who wants to waste something that expensive? You can only mess up so many times before you just have to chuck the material and at that point you could have just gone out and bought a ready made one for less. So I’ll try the magic band covers first and I’m hoping to add my name to them as well, maybe even a Mickey head or two. I know it’s ambitious to think about embroidering on a fabric I’ve never even sewn with before, but go big or go home right?

Here’s a look at something else I’m planning to make.

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It’s just a simple infinity scarf in a lightweight jersey knit. This one is from eBay and costs around $17 after shipping. It’ll never get here before I go away next week but they have plenty of jersey at JoAnn’s and I’m positive I could make several for that price. A half a yard would do just fine for a single scarf. I plan to add my monogram to it. I checked online and they only have a few choices but it seems as though their fashion knits are 40% off. So that plus whatever coupon I find would mean I could make one of these for a steal. I did the math and it looks like I’d spend around $4 or less to make one, assuming I could find another coupon- and you can always find another coupon. This scarf appears to have been sewn into a tube, but I’m thinking I’ll just leave it flat, sewing only the ends together and leave the edges raw. I like that look as I want something super casual. Here’s hoping I can get down there this week, I’d like to make at least one, but preferably two. One in pink, the other grey so I can wear them with everything.

Monogrammed Madness

Okay so I have some more cool apps for all of you. Like the last ones, they only really exist to make things pretty but that’s fine by me. Here they are!

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Monogram – Wallpaper & Backgrounds Maker HD

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Stencil – Monogram Wallpaper Backgrounds Fashion Skins Themes

 

They’re both by Yellow Lab Inc. and I think they’re great. In fact I made both images in about a minute because I couldn’t find a big enough photo to add here. Here’s the links to Apple’s preview page for Stencil, and then Monogram.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/stencil-monogram-wallpaper/id694556679?mt=8

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/monogram-wallpaper-backgrounds/id647594931?mt=8

Overall I like both apps, but I love the Stencil app. I just find it to be so much more versatile. Monogram is great in that it has so many more Badges (the design that frames the monogram) and fonts. There are also more color choices, you can even have glitter letters! This is not possible in Stencil, I really hope they add it though. If they were to merge the two apps it would be incredible. 

Now these are paid apps, but you can get a lite version of the monogram app. I downloaded that and quickly realized the paid version would be worth it. It was only $1.99 so I went for it. The only thing is, once you’ve paid for the app you still don’t get all of the features. This is not something they tell you about before you buy it. To me, this feels misleading. So far, with the two apps I own both have had this problem. Now, do I feel these apps are worth the real cost after you add in the “extras”? Yes. They’re very good apps, they work well and produce great images. But I sort of wish they’d stop being so sneaky, because that’s what this is- sneaky.

I have made some in app purchases, but I haven’t bought everything. Pretty much just all the fonts. There are some wallpapers, but because you can use your own image I didn’t feel the need to purchase every wallpaper pack. Here’s a quick screen shot of the only wallpaper pack I didn’t buy.

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If you click on any image you get the option to buy all 18 of the backgrounds in this folder for 99 cents. It’s not bad, but there are about 100 others I can choose from that are included in the purchase price. I also have the option to just look for one of those designs elsewhere online and use that photo. If you look at the swatches underneath the wallpaper previews you’ll see the colors you can change those backgrounds to. There are 38 color choices and just clicking on one will change the whole background that color, here’s an example.

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This is a result of clicking on the flower background and the purple swatch beneath it. As you can see you get varying shades of that purple in the design. If you went with the houndstooth to the far right you’d get just that purple and white. That’s basically how it works. There’s also some glitter backgrounds but you just get a glitter design and the rest of the background is white, I don’t care for it. I really wish you could pick a secondary color. For example, purple flowers with a teal backdrop. Giving the option to make any of it glitter would be even better. Hopefully that’s something we’ll see in the future.

Here are some designs I’ve come up with for my family, and some that I made just for this post.

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This one was created with a background I found elsewhere. 

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The entire design here is from the app alone. 

 

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I sourced the background from a different app, the “doodles” and monogram from this app. As you can see the little snowflake drawings are different sizes and colors. All of that was done with this app, it was pretty simple.Image

This badge was created by layering different badges to get this design. In fact that’s pretty much how I did all of these.

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This is one if the glitter designs available. They have a few “doodles” and a few badges to pick from in the glitter category. I really wish there were more.

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This is a really simple high contrast one I whipped up for my contacts. If you have an iPhone then you know each contact has a little circle next to it where you can put a photo. But how many of us have a photo for every person we know? I plan to do the whole alphabet and make a folder for them so I always have an image to go with each contact. :)

 

Some of these took longer than others to make. I can create one in a few minutes, others take much longer. It really depends on the complexity of the design. For the most part I mix different badges to create a unique look so it can take some time. I also like to create shadows behind my letters. I’ll duplicate the text two to three times offsetting it just slightly each time before laying my top color over it. So I can have as many as four layers for the text alone. Here’s an example.

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This was done on one of the glitter backgrounds. I’m very underwhelmed by it, it feels unfinished.

Now some wallpapers don’t seem to work well with this app. For example, my Cuptakes wallpapers don’t appear in the window when I try to add them, I have no clue why. But I’ve found simply going to photos and taking a screen shot will get around that. In fact that seems to work for any image that won’t appear on the app. 

The developers have a Pintrest page, and an Instagram account where you can share your images. They seem to be big on sharing, and that’s great. You can pull inspiration from people all over the globe. They also give you permission to do whatever you want with the images you create with their app, that’s even better! So as long as you use their backgrounds or copyright free images (available on lots of free apps, I used a bunch to make the images above) you can do as you please with the artwork you create. I see a custom Zagg in my near future! It would be cool to use the images on things like custom Sigg’s from Cafe Press, or family T-shirts for reunions and more.

This developer has a few more apps and I plan to check them out. I really like what I’ve bought from them so far. Now in general I hate to buy apps, or spend money in apps. But I love these so much and I can see myself using them for years to come, so to me it’s worth it. I hope the developers continue to improve these apps and add to them. If they do I think they could go far. There is a demand for these sorts of apps, and well made ones are few and far between. 

I plan to contact the developers soon to ask if they plan to make some of the changes I’m hoping for. If they do I’ll update this. Fingers crossed, I want my glitter fonts!

 

Makeup Brush Storage

When my husband went back to Hawaii last week he was able to grab all my makeup brushes. Yes, I forgot all but three of them. Since I knew he’d be bringing them I knew I’d need a place to put them and I set to work. In Hawaii we don’t have many stores (at least on my island) so you take what you can get. My old brush storage was just three 4″ square vases from Ace Hardware and Bright Fill Moon Drops. I paid way too much for them but it would have cost more shopping for this stuff online. Now that I’m on the mainland I decided not to settle, although not at first. Here’s what I almost bought.

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Yes, more of those 4″ square vases. Joann had them and they were $5 each. At first that seemed like a steal, then I realized I’m no longer stuck with my first option. In fact my first option is just that, the first of many. On Hawaii first option is usually code for only option, so I paid over $7 for these same vases there, ugh. 

It was at the checkout I decided to put them back because I remembered there was a dollar store just next-door. I had to go there anyways since I’d promised Chicken Little he could have a balloon weeks ago. While there I found an array of small vases, they had some smaller versions of the ones I’d just put back, as well as some that were (IMO) way better. Here’s what I bought.

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I love the rounded shape of these so much more than the square ones. And they were only $1 each as opposed to $5! It doesn’t get any better than that. 

Now you may be wondering what I used to fill them with. I was going to buy just the same Bright Fill stuff I bought before, but on the next aisle was the David Tutera wedding line. They had these small acrylic round brilliants (perhaps you recognize them from my Valentines Decor post?). They were on clearance for $5 and I figured they were worth the risk. I found that these mixed with the bright fill work way better than the Bright Fill on it’s own. I think it just gets too densely packed because of the shape and the little acrylic crystals keep that from happening. Either way it’s so much easier to push my brushes in. If you can’t find the David crystals there are still similar options out there. They’ll be in either the floral section or the wedding section, they’re “table scatter” just plastic crystals you can throw around a centerpiece to look pretty and you can pick your “carat size”. I used a mixed bag of them in my Valentines Decor post and you can get them in the different craft stores or Amazon.

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Don’t they look pretty together? They actually sparkle quite nicely for being plastic. And when they get gross (and they will because makeup and dust will fall in there) I can just put them in a mesh garment bag, scrub them, and hang them to dry. I’ve done it before and it works quite well. 

If you were wondering what Bright Fill Moon Drops is, this is it.

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This stuff is great. It comes in a dozen colors and you can find it at pretty much every craft store. I bought my first bags from Ace Hardware, they had a small Ben Franklin crafts section and this was with the flowers. It was also a much larger bag. I got my new ones at Joann, and I know they have them on Amazon. It costs around $10 a bag, don’t pay more than that. 

They’re really quite nice for this project. They’re little flat backed cabs and they’re so vibrant. I have purple and red in my old place and the colors are so deep. You really can’t see the brush handles at all even if they’re placed close to the glass, at least with the purple and red. I went with clear this time because I didn’t want the royal blue they had at Joann’s (they only had a few colors) so I opted for the clear and when I saw the crystals I thought it would be fun to mix in some teal.

This whole project cost me $17 to make, not bad considering some companies will charge at least that much if not more just for the “specialized” containers. I’ve also seen people use bean bag filler, rice, plain vase filler, sand, beads, and all sorts of other things to fill the vases with, but I’ve found these to be the prettiest, cleanest, and most effective. They’re not overly expensive either. If you don’t like the clear vases you could paint them or even look for pretty cups at places like Home Goods or TJ Maxx. I’d considered doing that but just decided to go with the less expensive clear vases. They work and I like the simplicity of them.

Enjoy!