Gluten Free Holiday Cosmetics

I know I’ve been gone for a while, again. But I have some time now and I’m going to talk a bit about gluten free cosmetics. As most of you will already be aware most major cosmetic brands have limited edition gifts sets they release this time of year. Last year I mostly purchased Too Faced cosmetics, but this year I bought tarte products exclusively. I’ve talked a bit about them in the past, about how they’re a 100% gluten free cosmetics company. I really like knowing that all of their products are gluten free, it reduces the risk of cross contamination and makes me want to buy from them even more. I also like the quality of their products. There’s also the variety they offer. For the last several years Too Faced has released nearly identical palettes. Well, let me rephrase that. They style the exterior of their sets differently, and they rename the shades, but they’re the exact same shades. I really feel like last years major palette and the one the year prior to that were super lazy. Simply because the eyeshadows were not just identical, but the layout was nearly identical. As a result I bought nothing from them this year. Sadly it’ll stay that way until I either use up all of my existing products from them, or they come out with something different. I do use their shadows quite a bit, and I’m sure I’ll run out at some point. But it’s going to be a long time. I’m not going to throw my money away buying eight of the same freaking eyeshadow just because it’s wrapped in a different box. They need to make something new or they’re going to lose all of their current customers.

So I was all tarte all the way this year and I’m very happy. I’m going to start things off with something that released in the fall and isn’t actually part of the holiday collections, but is still available.

553This is tarte’s Rainforest After Dark palette. It’s limited edition and I’m really glad I was able to buy it before it was gone (I missed their BeMATTEnificent palette and I’m still so, so sad). This has gotten some mixed reviews, mostly saying the eyeshadows are fine but the blush has issues with stiffness, pigmentation, and blendability. I have not actually had any of those problems. In fact I merely touch my brush to the pan and I’m able to lift enough of their incredibly soft powder to get true to pan color. It blends like a dream too. Now I’m not going to say all the people who have reviewed this are lying, but I do think they might have just gotten duds. Or maybe I just got incredibly lucky. Who knows, all I know is I literally find myself reaching for this palette nearly everyday. I’m going to have to force myself to start branching out soon.

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This is the Away Oui Go Portable Palette & Collectors Set. This one was an Ulta exclusive and I believe it’s sold out online, you may still be able to find it in stores though. This is similar in style to last years set, where you could pop ready made palettes into an included travel case. The layout and colors are different (as are the actual makeup shades) but the concept is identical. That set was also an Ulta exclusive. I think sets like this are great for people who aren’t sure what to make of those huge palettes with 30 shades in them. This is everything you need to do an eye look plus a matching blush, it really takes the guess work out of things. I haven’t used this yet as I really don’t have the space in my bathroom. I’d either have to pick a pre-made palette and stick to it, or open the entire box and have that sitting out. I just don’t have the countertop space, that and I usually have my son wandering around while I get ready and I worry he could get curious and knock the whole thing off the counter. It’d really hurt to see everything smashed so I try to limit what I have out at one time. Once we move I’ll probably depot everything here so I could put it all into just one big palette if I wanted, though I’ll probably break them up into favorites and “colors for when I’m feeling daring”. I do like most every color in this box so I’m really happy about the whole thing. I really can’t wait to start using it.

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This is the Petite Treat 12 Days of Tarte Advent Calendar and was another Ulta exclusive. It’s also sold out online (last I checked) but my local store had dozens of them sitting on the shelves. This is a bit different than your standard 24 day advent calendar with only 12 days, but that was fine for me. I picked it up the other day and was able to open a few days all at once so that was fun. My son has been helping me and he loves this. His tiny little fingers have also helped in getting the product out of the holes, lol. I’ve started giving him a chocolate for each door we open and I promised to share the skin care products with him so he’s fine with not having one of his own. I have to say I’m really excited about all the products in this calendar. With any set like this there are bound to be products you wouldn’t care for inside but I love pretty much all of them. There’s also their lash extending primer in this (it’s the product I got tonight!) and I’ve really been looking forward to trying that, so now I’ll get the chance. It also had a deluxe size blush which is a bit stiff in the pan but is a lovely color just the same.

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This is one I really wanted, but sadly I missed my chance. It’s their Chic To Cheek Deluxe Amazonian Clay Blush Set. I am holding out a bit of hope I’m able to find this one in store. But the one I visit most often didn’t have it in stock saying they sold out around Black Friday. It’s also sold out on Sephora and the tarte website itself. You never know though, I could get lucky somewhere. Even if I don’t it’s not the end of the world, it’s just blush. This is the first year they had a set where I liked all four colors, maybe I’ll get lucky and next year and I’ll like that set as well. I’ll be sure to buy early in that case!

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This is another one I don’t own, but I’m still sharing it because I just love it. This is their Bon Voyage Collectors Set & Travel Bag and it’s a Sephora exclusive. I do love this set, I really do. But the thing is, it’s a $60 cosmetics set and I clearly have quite a bit of makeup already. So it’s not like I need more which makes it difficult/impossible to justify. There’s also the little issue of loyalty points. I’d really rather shop at Ulta because you can get actual dollars to spend on anything in their stores when you buy from them. With Sephora you get one point for every dollar you spend and you need at least 100 to get a trial size of something random and the better sets are usually about 500 points. I get trial sizes and travel sizes for free all the time from Ulta. That’s in addition to my points which I earn at a rate of 1.25, assuming they’re not having a bonus point promotion where I could earn as many as 5 per dollar spent. I feel like this is going to become a growing issue for me. Sephora is also the sole distributor of the Repetto perfume I recently fell in love with. But again, I really don’t want to spend the money when I’m, 1. Not getting any “real” benefits in return, and 2. I have to spend real money to purchase the product (as opposed to with Ulta where I have enough store credit to buy three of these sets). So I’ll be skipping this one this year. Maybe next year I’ll indulge in some of the Sephora sets. But for now I just can’t bring myself to do it.

That was a lot, but I hope all of you enjoyed this post! I hope if any new Celiacs find this post they look at these images and realize they can still wear cosmetics. That you’re not limited to indie brands you can’t see in person before you buy, or that come in boring packaging and boring shades. That there is a lot of safe stuff out there and major retailers are selling it! That you can take part in the holiday sets with the fun packaging and admittedly great pricing for what you’re getting in return. That blush set is $35, for four full sizes blushes that typically go for $26 each. The Away Oui Go set features all full size blushes and eyeshadows, and only the glosses and mascara are half size. The last set has all full sized eyeshadows and the lip products are full sized as well. With most of these even if you only like half of what you’re getting it’s still a phenomenal deal. They also make really great gifts. I personally like the Away Oui Go set for anyone, but especially teens or people who are new to makeup because of the foolproof palettes. And the blush set would make a great stocking stuffers and you could totally break up the set since they’re all full size.

Happy Shopping!

Elevé vs Yumiko

I mentioned in my last post that I’m starting to take more ballet classes. I go Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. In January my studio is starting a new class on Wednesday night at an even better time for me. Since I’ll only be able to do some Saturday classes (scheduling conflict) I want to try the Wednesday class out. It’s an intermediate level which I’m really not up to, but my instructor said I’m more than welcome. So when possible I’m going to try to do that class. Really I’m always trying to take as many classes as I can, and it’s a rarity I’m able to attend all of them. I think over the course of the next year I’d be lucky to go to class all five days a few times. But that’s okay, and the more classes I have open to me the better. After all, before last week I had never done a Saturday class. And unless I want to get my son (who sleeps till noon or later) up at 7am to feed, clothe, and drive him to the play center before backtracking to the studio there will be many Saturdays that I just don’t get to go to class. Just this week I had things to do on Monday and Tuesday and Thursday was a holiday so I’m happy for these past two Saturdays. And that’s how I’m trying to look at it. I want three classes a week minimum and it’s what I’ll need if I want to progress onto pointe.

My teacher in Hawaii (who I still talk to and see) said if I keep up what I’m doing now I’ll be getting my shoes in the next year. But I want to feel confident in them. My current studio will let anyone with a years training take pointe, so I could be doing it now (I could have been doing it in September to be honest). That’s great and all, and if I really just wanted the shoes I’d schedule a fitting tomorrow. But it’s not just about the shoes. I want to do more than just wear them, I want to be able to dance in them. I also don’t want to hurt myself, so while my current teacher says I have good ankle strength and really good feet (and I can do any foot exercise you throw at me without thinking twice about it, yes I’m a freak) I think I could still be better. So I’m going to keep taking class, and maybe in the spring or summer I’ll start thinking about getting pointe shoes.

Since I’m taking all of these classes I decided to get some more leotards and that’s what this post is really about. Right now I have one Gaynor Minden leotard (the Lyric in plum in case you’re interested) that fits well, as well as two Yumiko’s and two Elevé’s. I do have a few others but they were less expensive and ultimately the quality wasn’t there. Both Yumiko and Elevé are expensive but the quality is so much better than my super basic leos from Discount Dance. However, I’m starting to move away from Yumiko.

This is not to say that Yumiko is bad, or that the quality is lacking. It’s not that at all! I still feel like my Yumiko’s are super nice and they are beautiful. But they’re short, and the arms are snug, too snug. I find I don’t wear my Marieke at all. I’ve tried a few times, but the shoulders just keep popping off and it’s beyond annoying. The Anna is much better, but the arm holes are still a little annoying. I do wear that one a lot though so it’s not annoying to the point of distraction. The Marieke on the other hand… Perhaps if I hadn’t gotten it without the sleeves it would be better. Actually I know it would. I’ve thought about removing them in the past but I feel like it’ll ruin the look because I can’t match the trim. I would probably buy the Anna style again, but forgo the sleeves. That aside, there’s still the issue of length. For some reason the Anna isn’t as bad as the Marieke, but it’s still a bit too short as well. I feel like Yumiko’s are great if you’re under 5’6″, but anything over that and you’re really running the risk of it not fitting properly. Yumiko allows you to customize so much of their leotards, I wish they’d give you the option to pay for extra length. Perhaps this will be an option in the future. Until then I’ll be holding off on ordering any more.

Now on to Elevé, my new favorite brand. This company is fantastic if you’re looking for a longer leotard. It’s just they way they’re built, long. They also have mesh, which is something Yumiko is only now getting into, and with only one style. I find that in terms of quality my Elevé leotards are holding up super well, and I wear the two I own all the time. I hand wash them and hang them to dry, and both still look brand spanking new. There’s been no fading and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve actually decided to branch out a bit and order three new ones, in three different styles. I’m not going to tell you all my fabric choices, you’ll have to wait and see when they come in. :)

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The first one up is the “Amber”. I initially thought I could never wear this style, I was sure I’d look like a line backer in it. But Discount Dance had some of their new Yumiko knockoffs in stock and one of them was very similar to this. I was actually surprised at how good I looked in it. If it didn’t have the huge cut out in the back I probably would have bought it. But I’m not a fan of cutouts, and the price was $50. If you’re going to compare that to a Yumiko it’s a steal because a comparable style there will cost you $91- before shipping. So it’s half price. But an Elevé is $72 before shipping and unlike Yumiko the shipping charges are only $6-7 and if you spend a certain amount it’s free. Elevé also offers sales (like the 15% I got off this order). So I basically paid a bit over $10 more than the DDS one and got to pick my fabrics and have it made without the back cut out. I also didn’t pay tax on this, and I would have had to pay nearly 10% if I bought the DDS one. So I feel like I made out like a bandit and I’ll be looking good doing it!

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Next up is the “Laico With Sleeves”. I was initially wary of this style as well, because of the shoulder thing. But they had some Ainsliewear leotards at DDS that were similar but with short sleeves and that looked good as well. Kathryn Morgan also suggested this when I asker her opinion on styles since she feels her shoulders are broad as well. She wears this style a lot and I think she looks good, hopefully I’ll look good too. Like the Amber I opted for the 3/4 sleeves on this one, I got the longer ones that stop just below the elbow. And I know you’re probably all wondering, yes I’m still kicking myself for not buying that Ainsliewear one. It was so pretty in black and gold, and they have nothing similar on their website right now either but it’s part of their holiday collection so it probably sold out. It’s not available on DDS>com at all. It was less than $40 too (sobs). If I hand’t bought these I’d probably ask my BIL to go pick it up for me.

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This last one is the “Lauren”. This is the one I’m most nervous about as I think it has to potential to emphasize my shoulders more than the other two. But I’m counting on the v-neck to sort of cancel out the sleeveless style. Sort of like how the Amber style DDS leo looked fine so long as I didn’t zip it up all the way. Worst case I still look broad and I just suck it up and wear it anyways because I bought it in a beautiful fabric I’m going to be happy wearing. After all, they’re just shoulders and people are focusing on themselves. No one’s spending the entire class staring at me and if they are it’s my feet and arms they’re looking at, not my perceived flaws. If you notice on this one it has a cute little mock turtleneck to it. I thought that would look so cute peeking out under my wrap sweater. Just a fun little pop of color (or pattern, again not telling!) up by my face.

Some other good things I like about Elevé that I’m not getting with Yumiko are the style options. For starters Yumiko has 33 styles to pick from, Elevé has 55. Then once you’ve picked your base style, there are often sleeve styles. Both have the same number of sleeve options, but Yumiko’s cost far more. There’s also the bust panel or full front liners and you can get them on both. However bust panels are free with Elevé and they’re $10 for Yumiko. A full front lining won’t even run you that much with Elevé. Now many dancers will roll the legs of their leotards to make their legs look longer, or you can buy them higher cut. For this service Yumiko charges an extra $22. Yes you read that right, to use less fabric they’re tacking on an extra $22. Elevé leotards on the other hand come with a higher leg standard. Both have options for turning various styles into biketards and unitards but I’m not into the look. I do think it’s weird that Yumiko charges less to make something into a biketard which uses more fabric. But hey, they know what people want and will change for it. There’s also the issue of the cutouts. Both brands offer cutouts on many of their styles, but Elevé unlike Yumiko gives you the option to forgo the cutouts. On many of their styles there’s even an option to click “full back”, though I’m told when placing your order if you don’t want it just add it in the comments section and if it’s possible they’ll make it without the hole. So basically they’re giving you even more style options. Then there’s the mesh. Yumiko is just now moving into mesh and that’s great. But I do wonder what the limitations on it will be. In the promo images it looks like they just have black and white, Elevé has dozens of choices and many of them are prints. They also offer matte or shiny spandex (they stuff they use is called milliskin and it’s really cool) and prints. Sometimes they’ve even offered burnout velvets and lace (Kathryn Morgan has a Laico in Vampire with matching burnout velvet that I adore). Now Elevé leotards are a bit more “edgy” and they don’t do just the solid color with contrasting trim. But they have so much else that I personally don’t miss it. And if you do want to do something simple and streamlined you can, like my simple grey and orchid leo for instance. That one could be done solid color (or spandex with matching mesh or just spandex altogether) with a contrasting trim. And there are a few others as well. So you can get a similar look to Yumiko with at least a few of the Elevé’s, but for less. And lastly there’s length, Elevé has it and Yumiko just doesn’t. That’s fine, shorter dancers need something too and Yumiko might be a better fit for them. But for me I just love the length on Elevé’s leotards. They never ride up, they stay in place, and I don’t have marks on my shoulders when I get home from class.

I have mentioned some of these things in the past but I really feel like they bear repeating. Especially since I’m saying I really only want to buy from Elevé in the future. Again, if Yumiko started offering extended lengths I’d totally try them out. But for now I have so many styles, and fabric options with Elevé I’m not sad to say goodbye to Yumiko. And as I’ve mentioned before, Elevé rotates it’s stock, so once a fabric is gone it’s likely gone for good. So I’d rather buy two leotards from Elevé with cool mesh or crazy spandex before those patterns are gone than get just one really basic leotard from Yumiko that has a so so fit and colors that will pretty much always be there.

I just placed my order yesterday and I don’t expect to see my leotards before January. I am moving that month but something this awesome deserves to be shared. So you can be sure I’ll stop whatever it is I’m doing and take photos of these as soon as they get here. And I’m not making any promises but I might be updating my last Elevé post. Previously I was too self conscious to photograph myself in my current Elevé leotards. But suddenly, my back has stopped marshmallowing out of the cutouts. I don’t know how it happened because the scale insists I’ve lost nothing, but I suspect things are starting to shift. I noticed last years knee high boots are a bit snug, as are my skinny jeans so I think my leg muscles have started to bulk back up (oh dear) and I know my midsection is looking like it has a shape to it. I’m still a rectangle, but I now have almost a waist, I’m not the same measurement all the way down! It looks like this ballet stuff is having some nice side benefits. :D So I may take a few selfies and add them to the previous post. It’s fun and all seeing what other people have designed and what the fabrics look like in real life, but sometimes it helps to see them on an actual person. And I want to help anyone who’s on the fence about a style or color.

I know my leotard posts generate a lot of traffic and I still get comments on my Yumiko posts. So please, if anyone out there has something to ask or add please feel free to comment. Even if this post gets old I do read all of my comments and try to answer every question as best I can! Don’t be shy. :)

Quick Update

I’ve been such a bad blogger as of late. I really, really want to get back to it but just haven’t had the energy. I don’t think I’m sick, but I definitely feel drained these days. I want to rest, but I simply can’t allow myself to do it for some reason. I always have a pile of things I’m working on. Be it laundry, seven random crafts, ballet, or whatever. Right now I’ve decided to devote myself to ballet and the house cleaning so my projects have gone to the way side for now. I’ll get to them, I always do it’ll just have to wait. I did get my Spoonflower stuff in and I have to say, it’s pretty exciting. I really need to take some photos of those fat quarters. There’s definitely enough to do some shorts so that’s a new project. I still haven’t even washed the fabric for my pj’s and yes, I am quite cold. I’ve taken to stealing my husbands pants. I need to make my own. Maybe by Christmas… So basically here’s a run down of what’s going on.

Ballet

I’m aiming for four days a week now. And I’ve decided to try a different school on Tuesdays. Up until now I’ve been doing hour long classes. My Saturday class which I’ve just started is 1.5 hours, this new Tuesday one will be as well. I really want things to work out well at this new school as I think they can teach me more. It’s also in a more convenient location for me. So while I’ll only be eligible for one class at this particular school, in the future I’ll be able to take more classes with them and it’ll just work out better for me overall. The classes are also later in the evening so I’ll have fewer issues driving through rush hour traffic, I’ll miss it completely at this new later time. And because I’m taking so many classes I decided to add to my leotard collection. Elevé was having a Black Friday sale and I bought a few new ones. I’m keeping the styles and colors a secret for now but I’ll post photos when they finally show up.

Crafting/Sewing

I’m doing so much ballet now I don’t have the same amount of time to devote to my other hobbies. I really need to get on my pants and I’m probably putting them off because they feel like work. I’ll make them (cause there is no buying them, grrrr), but I just need to admit defeat. Dragging out the serger, drafting a pattern, washing, ironing, cutting, and sewing the fabric. It’s just more trouble than it’s worth right now. I ended up buying my fabric from JoAnn’s and I think maybe I’m just so lax about doing it cause I’m a bit luke warm on my fabric choices. It’s okay, and it’s plenty nice. But it’s just not jumping out at me, you know? I’m sure I’ll love them once their finished, and if that happens before April I’ll be happy. I also need to sew some shorts for ballet. I have the fabric and I’m looking forward to putting them together. They’ll be super easy and will probably only take an hour. But again, it’s the dragging out the serger that puts me off it. I also have other fabric that I have a lot of ideas for, but I’m not feeling super inspired right now.

Travel

I have mercifully been granted a reprieve. I need it right now too. I can’t bear the thought of boarding another plane at the moment. We will probably go to Hawaii some time early in the new year and then we have a Florida trip already lined up. I’m hoping I have a bit more pep by the time all that rolls around cause again, it’s feeling more like work than fun.

Housework

I know this isn’t really a fun thing to talk/read about, but it is part of what’s keeping me from blogging. I feel as though there’s a never ending amount of it these days. It’s to the point I’ve been thinking of dropping my son off at the hourly play center down the street for a few hours so I can get some extra work down without him running under foot. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good baby. But he does make housework take longer than it needs to by “helping” and sometimes you just want it done. By the time he goes to bed most days I’m dead tired. Even tonight, I’m exhausted yet wired. I’m too tired to do more than write, but I can’t sleep yet. I need to go to bed right after this though as it’s 1:30am and I need to be up at 9am so I can be at ballet at 10am.

The Holidays

I’ve done virtually nothing to decorate and I do not feel sorry. I’m moving in a couple of months. The last thing I need to do is spend a bundle on a bunch of stuff that’ll need to go straight into storage. My kid will live with little more than a tree. And I don’t want to buy a bunch of stuff that works with the decor I have now, but might not work in the new house next year. Usually I go all out, so it’s a bit depressing skipping things this year. Yet I can’t bring myself to do something different. We’re going to make our Christmas ornaments (I bought little kits from Target) and that’s it.

So that’s what’s going on with me. I have a million half finished things and no time or motivation to finish any of it. I’ll get my energy back though. Perhaps if I put it on the schedule it’ll get done. If nothing else it couldn’t hurt.

Spoonflower Fabric, What I Made & What’s Coming

I’ve vented about my difficulties with Spoonflower in the past, I definitely have a love hate relationship with them. I am willing to give companies a second try most of the time though. For instance I stopped buying from Fabric.com a few years back after repeated issues (and by that I mean every order was an issue for almost a year, they never had anything in stock and liked to cancel my orders for no reason other than it was fun). But once I got wind they moved into a bigger space and hired on more workers and things had turned around I was back. It was a very sad time though when I did stop buying from them. Living on an island I didn’t have many fabric options and they were the only company that would ship to Hawaii for less than a pint of blood and the promise of my first born. My local Walmart did carry a lot of really cool Japanese fabrics (ones that sell online for an absolute fortune) but sometimes you just want something a little more sophisticated and not covered in hedgehogs… So like Fabric.com I’m hoping Spoonflower turns things around too, they’ve got a great product.

I did recently try my hand at designing some of my own fabric. It was both easy and difficult at the same time. My second round definitely went a lot better. Playing around making my own stuff definitely makes me want to study graphic design. It’s something I enjoy for sure. Here are some of the fabrics I came up with. These are just 8″x8″ swatches done on plain combed cotton.

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Once again the photos have been taken at night, and on a dark background. They do look nicer in real life I promise. I think they look good on the basic cotton, but I suspect the ones I’m having printed on a synthetic will look way better.

Since Spoonflower is having a buy one get one sale on fat quarters right now I decided to partake. Between the sale and my designers discount it wasn’t too expensive. I bought a number of these in different fabric types. I bought Linen Cotton Canvas, Modern Jersey, and Performance Piqué. I have a few ideas for them. Maybe a cover for my day planner (though I now wish I bought the Eco Canvas). And I plan to use the jersey and performance fabric for exercise related items. I’m not sure exactly how much I’d need to make shorts for ballet. I have some jersey laying around and I’ll probably use it to test drive a pair and make my pattern. I looked online for shorts and nothing I liked was in stock and I didn’t even know if they’d fit the way I want them to. Most of them have no inseam, they’re more like briefs. I want something with a one to two inch inseam at the very least. I may be being a bit ambitious with what I can do with a piece of fabric that small, but I won’t know if it’s possible until I have it in hand. If only because Spoonflower’s fat quarters vary in size depending on the type of fabric you’re buying. The performance pique is 28×18, the modern jersey is the same. So a little larger than your standard 22×18 quilting cotton ones. I could probably do a top if the shorts don’t work out though. If only because I’d want a contrasting trim on a top, and the direction of the design won’t be as much of an issue. I don’t want my little ballerinas going sideways on my shorts!

I’ll probably make at least one top, and will use the scraps to make a headband. I have these amazing yoga ones from Life Is Good that they made for a single season and then discontinued them. I love them because you can scrunch them up to make a narrower headband, or if you have short hair you can wear it with the fabric spread out (it covers the entire top of your head) to keep your hair completely out of your face. I’ve seen similar lace designs online that cater to religious women who wish to cover their heads for church or random prayer while still staying fashionable and enabling them to forgo a full covering 24/7. I love mine not for exercise actually, but for sewing. On my old machine the little metal thing you thread the thread through that bobs back and fourth had a tendency to catch the little hairs near my hairline. After having that happen twice and being terrified of being scalped I started wearing headbands to sew. Now I feel like I can’t sew without my hair covered. Here’s the metal bit I’m taking about, can’t remember what it’s called for some reason.

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I also like them for cooking. And I suspect that when I’m taking class in summer or Hawaii I’ll be grateful for them. My hair is long, but I have these wispy bits that never seems to get longer than about 5″ that always work their way out of my bun, and this will keep me looking neat while also reducing the urge the brush my hair out of my face.

I’m still not 100% on what I’ll use the rest for. I’ll find something to do with it though. Probably small accessories but that’s fine, you can never have too many. I’ve been thinking about getting a small pencil case for when I travel, but making one would be so much better. I hate being forced to buy whatever the stores are selling. Sometimes you need something but they don’t have anything you like and you’re forced to buy something you’d rather not just to get what you need.

I won’t receive my fabric until I get back from California, so it’ll be a while until there are any new fabric pictures. But I’ll post them when I get them. I know people like to see the fabric they’re thinking of buying, so it’s only fair to post up some images if I’m going to make it for sale. I’ve already had sales (I hope you like it strangers who bought my designs!) but I want to be fair and share what the fabric will really look like once it’s been printed up. Just cause I really hate Spoonflowers buy it to see if you like it policy. I’ll buy it, and I’ll share it so others don’t have to take that gamble. After all, I’m far more likely than anyone else to love it regardless just because I’m the one that made it.

Getting Organized, The Fun Way

As I mentioned in my last post (if you remember it, it was a zillion years ago…) I’ve been a bit swamped. In an effort to dig myself out I bought myself a planner. I did try out some apps and did a ton of research on them, trying to find the best ones. What I found was that there were a lot of good ones, but nothing great. They were also really specific, calendar apps, cooking apps, notepads, etc., they were all separate apps. Now don’t get me wrong, that’s fine and I’m not asking these developers to revamp an app to include things that don’t interest them. If all you want to think about all day is cooking you’re not going to create an app that reminds you to put in a load of laundry. But I did need something to help me stay on top of both cooking and cleaning, that’s where paper came in. Do you remember it? It’s this flat white stuff, you use these little sticks to make marks on it. You can find it in most stores, and I bought some.

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This is the planner I bought. It’s a Martha Stewart discbound notebook planner from Staples. Sadly the line is being discontinued and they were out of the blue ones. I was able to score this one on a big discount though and the cashier had a coupon too, score! It came with the tiny silver discs and I bought some of Staples own Arc brand discs in hot pink, they’re the next size up. The notebook came with a lot of basic lined pages and I set them aside in favor of some task specific printables I’d found. There are a lot of printables out there, both for free and for purchase. I tried my hand at making some but quickly discovered it was outside of my skill set. I flirted with buying some, but was eventually able to find free ones that I loved. This site, Scattered Squirrel has a ton of them. Most of the ones I downloaded are from this lady’s site, a few are from other places. I don’t know if Jesus told this particular blogger to make them free, but it seems like why so many other bloggers are doing it. Whatever, I call it an even trade for Catholic guilt.

I printed out a ton of different ones so I could test them all. Every couple of weeks I’m going to take out the old pages and put in new ones. I’ll keep that up until I find the specific sheets that work for me. Right now I’m getting the most use out of the monthly calendar sheets, menu planning sheets, cleaning sheets, and general note sheets. So in the future I’ll probably remove the weekly and daily ones. Though I may wish to add them in on weeks I’m traveling. Just because there’s so much that doesn’t merit going into our digital calendar and I like to know what we’re doing each day. While we’re away I find myself asking my husband “what are we doing X day” over and over again. Now I’ll just be able to write it down in one place and refer to it as needed. I had used the notes app on my phones for years, but it ends up cluttered. I literally have dozens of notes going at any given time, with lists, addresses, recipes, and more. Now I’ll be able to write these things down in their designated spot, and when I don’t need them anymore I can just take the sheets out and toss them. I’m far less likely to let clutter build up in a paper binder than I am in a digital format. Just because I don’t want to have to lug the excess but on my phone it’s not taking up space in the same way so I delete nothing. Not good.

Here’s a look at how I have some of it set up. I’m just getting started with this so it’s a bit more bare than many of the planners I’ve seen on there blogs and Pintrest. That’s okay, eventually I’ll figure out what I want to have in there and I’m sure every pocket will be full sooner than I expect.

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Sorry for the dark photos, I haven’t had time to take many photos during the day. So it’s night time photos or no photos at all.

In one of the card pockets I have my travel washi tape. I just took an old hotel room key from my sons stash (he has dozens and won’t miss it). Then I wrapped the washi tape around it several times. In the zip pocket I have a half sheet of stickers. Behind that I have several sheets from a notepad I found in the Target dollar section and punched using my Arc hole punch. Right now it has a list of all the coupons I have that are good this month, how much they’re for, and when they expire.

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This is my dashboard. I didn’t even know I needed something like this but found a ton of boards and pins on these on Pintrest and realized it might actually be a good idea to have one. You can buy or make them, I made mine. I used some Christmas wrapping paper from Paperchase they had at Target and some laminating sheets. I do hope to own a laminating machine in the future (a long held dream) and they’re really cheap at Costco but I don’t have the space for it so it’ll have to wait. I can’t remember the brand I used, Avery or Scotch but I bought them at Target, they were inexpensive, well sized, and leftovers take up almost no room in the closet. Now granted they’re not very thick sheets but they get the job done. I cut out two sheets of the wrapping paper, taped them wrong sides together and laid them in-between two laminating sheets. I cut them out and punched them. After I did that I realized they weren’t going to be sturdy enough so I wrapped the edges in washi tape. and re-punched them. I actually wish I did that in the first place cause it looks so cute and a lot more polished. Now I have a place to lay out all of my sticky notes and page flags (bought at Target and Dasio). They take up so much less room than when I had them in the zippered pouch and I’m actually able to carry a wider assortment. On the other side of the snowflakes I have a bunch of notes that I wanted to keep front and center. I love that I can now move them around without wearing out the adhesive. And since these were so inexpensive and easy to make I can update it each season. So after Christmas I can make a new house one, in February I can have hearts, and Disney ones for March, and so on. I hope to have a decent sized stash to pull from in the future just to keep things fresh and interesting.

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This is my monthly page. It’s missing some dates and even has one that shouldn’t be there. But it works This is one of my most commonly used pages and I don’t know if I’ll need to have more than this in the future. As I’ve mentioned above I just don’t really use the day or week at a glance sheets. Perhaps that’ll change in the future, but for now we’re just not that busy. I used washi tape to embellish and block off certain days. I like that I can remove it if I need to. It also adds a fun splash of color.

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I’m using this page a lot as well. I really got behind with all the travel and then getting sick. One week with everything written down like this and I’m almost back to zero. Granted I’m leaving for California in just days. But I’ll have this to lean on again when I get back so I’m not concerned. I just realized I have some of the letters backwards in towels, I’m dyslexic and this does nothing to help correct my constant mistakes. But I know what I’m trying to write and that’s all that matters.

Sadly I do not have a color printer. I was so bummed when I discovered last year my husband bought one that only does ugly black and white copies. In the future I’m sure we’ll purchase a color one. Until then I’ll just have to keep embellishing the pages. I don’t mind though! I used washi tape to embellish the page dividers and I have a ton of pretty fine point Sharpies as well as Avery markers. They sell much better Avery ones in Asia and I could probably ask my MIL to pick some up for me as I know for a fact some they’re sold in Singapore. But for now I’m fine with the colors I have.

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If you were wondering about my washi tape collection here’s a bit of what I own. These all came from either Target or Dasio. And all of the Target ones (with the exception of the sprinkles one in the dispenser) are from Scotch. You can also get them at Staples, they actually have the best selection. I swear they never order it at Target, so I’ve had to go to a few to get all of these. Dasio, if you’re unfamiliar, is a Japanese $1.50 store and I’ve really done well at my local one. The few we have here are really small, but they’ve just opened a new one that’s not in a shopping mall. I haven’t checked it out yet and I’m hoping it’s bigger than the two I currently frequent. You really can’t beat $1.50 for washi tape. Some of them don’t have as much tape as the $3.50 Scotch rolls, but others (like the three striped ones on the left) have a ton more so it evens out. I got the little punches from Target and they were only $2! I really scored with those and have already put them to good use. They’re the perfect size to make washi stickers with and won’t take up much space on my calendar. So they’re really perfect. I hope they get some more shapes in, they only had these and a mustache one.

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People always ask “how do you use washi tape” and there are lots of ways. It’s pretty, you can write on it, it comes off cleanly, and is reposition able so really the sky’s the limit. Here’s a little shot of how I used my washi tapes and new punches to dress up my phone. There aren’t many cases to pick from yet as it’s so new. I didn’t want it to get scratched and I also wanted it to be a bit more colorful. So I just ripped strips of tape and alternated them. Then to add a little more interest I punched some stars and hearts from a tape in a coordinating color.

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I did roughly the same thing on my iPad. It was a birthday present so I broke out the birthday tapes (from Dasio) and got to work making stickers with my new punches!

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I have the best husband. <3

Since I couldn’t let the outside of my devices have all the fun I used Cocoppa, which I’ve written about here to refresh my icons.

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I really can’t control myself where Christmas is concerned. We’ve already been watching Christmas movies, for months. Now not all apps can be given a makeover but most can. The last time I wrote about this app fewer of these could be done over (like the App Store and Mail for example) but now you can! I made a couple of them because I couldn’t find any I liked and I made the wallpaper as well. I used Stencil which I wrote about here. Stencil is a paid app which I think was totally worth it as I still use it all the time, Cocoppa is free as always.

I hope to take some photos before I go away, then if I have the time I’ll be able to write a few posts. Unlike last time I don’t have anything scheduled to post while I’m away. I do have a little done with my felt food and unless I want to have to hand it over to my son now I can’t photograph it during the day. So maybe I’ll get to it once my son is in bed tonight or tomorrow. I bought the fabric for my pajama pants and I still haven’t even washed it, let alone started sewing. It’s going to be a long cold winter if I don’t get on it soon… Spoonflower is having a buy one get one sale on fat quarters so I bought a couple. I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to make with them, but I’m hoping to come up with something simple and write a tutorial. It’ll just be a tiny amount of fabric so it’ll be an accessory of some sort. I may buy another couple before the sale is over. Just to have a little something fun to play around with.

A Quick Update

It’s been a while since I last posted and I wanted to let everyone know I am still here. What can I say for my absence? Well, I’ve been tired. I was away for two weeks which was one week too many I think. Then I got sick during the last few days and spent most of my time in bed. Naturally I was still sick when we got home, and it took me a while to get better. Just as I was almost better, I got a new infection. I’m just batting a thousand these days.

I do have some posts coming up, as always. Before we left I had actually started to make some of the felt foods I was talking about. I made some different types of pasta and even sauce! There are also some cute little pancakes with syrup/jam toppers. I really can’t wait to share those, I feel terribly clever for some of the things I came up with. I also finished the sash for my husband’s Kristoff costume. I really need to just take some photos of that, if only to get them up here before Halloween. Having been to WDW again I had to eat in the parks and they’ve made (yet more) changes to their gluten free dining experience. Not in all places, but in some and I like them. So I’ll be sharing some images if their new menus! I’ve also discovered some new cool stuff and I want to share those items and companies as well.

I’m sure there are other things I’ve been meaning to write about. But I’m just too tired to think right now. My son has entered a whiny phase, and I’ve been trying to get my house back into proper order since I got home. Basically cleaning two weeks worth of dust and the clutter that formed before we left and just got worse when we got back. I’ve also had to swap out all of our summer clothes, at the same moment we’d emptied our luggage. So I’m up to my eyeballs in laundry. I don’t sleep much anymore. But it’ll get better, it always does. Until then wish me luck!

Tea Time

Lately I’ve gotten more into drinking tea again. It’s something I’ve swung back and fourth with over the years. I do the same with coffee. Consequently I always have a bit of both laying about the house. This summer I had an old friend from Boston visiting and she always wanted to stop and get a drink. My sister is like that, so is pretty much everyone else I know. I don’t really do that, I think I stopped popping into tea and coffee shops after I went off gluten. One of the places she liked to visit was Teavana. My mother and sister are always stopping by there when we’re at the mall and they always have a zillion samples and a person standing there trying to get you to take them. I always ask if they’re gluten free and they always say they are. So finally, one day as I was passing by I saw they had cider. I love cider and it’s impossible to get the good (that’s code for super sugary fake awesome stuff) without gluten. It’s always unsafe for some reason, but this was promised to be safe so I took the plunge and bought a cup. While it didn’t taste like liquefied sugar with a little artificial apple thrown in it was still pretty good. Good enough that I went back the next day and bought an obscene amount without thinking twice. That’s what actually kicked me in the butt. Cause it was not only expensive, but I didn’t think of anything like how I’d need something to steep my tea in, measure it out, etc. So the day after that I went back, again. I’m looking like an idiot now, I know.

Initially I bought this

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It seemed perfect at first. Simple, effective, and it could also be stashed in a drawer when not in use. What’s not to love? Well, for starters there are the reviews. I did think it was odd it boasted laser cut holes but then had huge ones on the top. Apparently it is an issue and leaves do escapes from them. Supposedly it’s also hard to open. And I’m sorry but I’m not looking to spend the entire steep time monitoring this to ensure it doesn’t fall too far into my cup or fiddle with a cup of soggy leaves when it’s time to empty. So back it went.

I bought this instead.

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This is actually quite thrilling to watch in action. you simply place it on top of your cup and the tea just pours out of a hole on the bottom. Here’s a video of it in action on You Tube

I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of this, it’s just so cool and it’s perfect if you’re just looking to make one cup of an unfussy blend. Or if you have something fun to watch like a blooming tea. However, it is made of plastic and I know some people are wary of consuming things that have been stored or prepared in plastic. I personally have decided not to worry too much about that stuff. I think the argument I got into about sunblock causing skin cancer (I do not care, burning is painful and I’m still going to use it) is sort of how I feel about all of this stuff. It seems everything will kill you these days. So as long as I stay away from the obvious, cigarettes, drugs, unprotected sex with hookers… You know, the usual daily temptations, I’ll be fine. ;) My husband was feeling especially generous though and he bought me this.

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It’s seriously amazing. Even better is we bought it from Bed Bath & Beyond with a 20% off coupon! This thing does nothing but make tea and it does it well. It has preset temperature settings as well as preset steep times. You can alter those if you wish but it takes a lot of the thought process out of what can be a very confusing beverage. Steep some teas too long or at too high a temperature and you can ruin them. And when you’re paying more for loose leaf tea the last thing you want to do is be throwing your money away! Besides, why have a less enjoyable tea experience if you don’t have to? I’ll probably do a full review on this at some point it’s that cool. I already know exactly where it’s going in the new house!

I had bought this before my trip but it never even turned on.

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It gets some pretty bad reviews so it seems as though I’m not alone in disliking it. I think if it had worked I would have been happy with it and wouldn’t have bought the fancy kettle. I sort of wonder why a company that seems so devoted to tea would even sell such a horrible product. The sales clerk didn’t seem surprised I was returning it. Such a shame. I’ve seen and used similar products in tea houses in the past and thought they were cool, just not this one.

I also bought one of Teavana’s perfect tea spoons. It’s a simple metal spoon and I have no complaints. They have a (much prettier) one for about three times as much but I’m happy with the simple one. My Breville actually comes with a tea spoon but it’s plastic and not as nice in my opinion. I like the metal one better, but I’ll keep the Breville around incase the metal one gets lost, or in my case goes down the garbage disposal (yeah, I’ve lost a lot of utensils over the years that way as well as one glass cup, oops). So if you buy the Breville right off the bat you won’t actually need the other things like the Perfect Tea Maker or Tea Spoon. But they’re definitely nice to have’s.

Moving on to the teas I bought. This was my first.

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This is their Spiced Apple Cider Rooibos Tea (rooibos is pronounced like roy-boss). It’s sort of what started it all. It’s on sale right now and will continue to be for a few more days. It’s also been available as a sample in all of their stores since it’s new and they’re pushing it. You have to really like cinnamon to enjoy this but since I love it this is perfect for me. There’s also what appears to be dehydrated apples and other fun stuff. I steeped this multiple times and it was great each time. I gave a third steeping to my son (diluted with no sugar) and he seemed to enjoy it.

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This is Teavana’s Pumkin Spice Brûlée Oolong Tea and it is lovely. I would actually go as far as to say this one is my favorite. Sweetened, unsweetened, I like it both ways. I’ve given this one to my son in store and he’s a fan as well. I see myself purchasing more of this in the future. I believe this one is limited for the season so I will have to make sure I buy extra before it’s gone, but I have enough for now. It’s also on sale right now along with the cider and a few others.

This is the last one I bought.

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This one is available as the loose tea, the tumbler alone, and as this set. I opted for the set. A bit of a dicey move since the set comes with 6oz of the tea and I hadn’t tried it before. But I read the reviews and I suspected I’d enjoy it. Admittedly I’m on the fence, it’s very strong smelling. The rose is very prominent, fortunately I like rose but I was hoping the strawberry would be the standout. I might try mixing this with a chocolate tea, I suspect it would be phenomenal. I do want to mention something, if you like the tin the only way you can get it is with this set. So if you’re unsure you want to commit to that much tea (and the mug) just to get the canister you might try eBay. I’ve seen some limited edition ones on there and you might get lucky. You could also buy the set and gift the tea and mug (the tea comes in sealed 2oz bags same as all their others when buying online). So if you know someone who likes tea, and or rose, the 2oz bags are a nice little stocking stuffer. It’s not too much, not too little. It would easily net someone a cup or two of tea every day for a month (depending on how strong they like it and wether or not they re-steep).

If you were looking to give a gift set this one would actually be nice. I don’t remember it being mentioned in the item description but the tumbler has a tea strainer built in! It has the same nice tiny holes as the perfect tea ball, but it’s open topped. So it’s better if you’re looking to make tea at your desk or something. The little strainer actually fits perfectly into the cap so I’m guessing this is actually what this was designed for. You could fill the basket before heading out in the morning and then steep your tea throughout the day (loose leaf teas can be re-steeped, some are even supposed to be). The tea in this set is Oolong and it’s not as finicky as white or green. You could simply boil water and wait about ten minutes for it to cool to 195F (90 Celsius) then go ahead and steep, it won’t get ruined if you forget about it and it steeps too long either. So this might actually be a cute gift for secretaries day or any tea drinking office worker that you’re looking to gift a little something. I don’t know if I’d travel with this tumbler though. It is ceramic and I don’t know how prone it is to chipping or breakage. I know my backpack gets kicked around a lot and dropped, I don’t know if this would survive that. The inside of the lid has a silicone gasket but I haven’t test driven it so I don’t know if it’s prone to leaks either. In an office or a house you could simply dump the remainder of your beverage before leaving for the day. But on a plane when it’s time to get off no one wants to wait for you to causally finish off your beverage and dumping something hot isn’t exactly possible (or safe) unless you’re right next to the bathroom. Then there’s the issue of the open topped strainer, so I think this is a poor choice overall for air travel but very nice for home or office use.

Speaking of tins, when you shop at Teavana they’ll try to force you to buy a tin to store your tea in. It’s a tactic called up-selling. Basically it’s when you go in to a store to buy a specific item and the clerk tries to sell you a complementing item (a mascara to go with that eyeshadow for example). I’ve read online that their sales people are very aggressive but that has not been my experience at all. Maybe they’ve mellowed since all of those reviews were written, or perhaps it’s the change in ownership (I guess the husband and wife duo who started it were a piece of work) and Starbucks owns them now. Maybe I’m just lucky and all of the employees at my local stores are just super nice and relaxed. Who knows, all I can say for sure is that I’ve had nothing but positive in store experiences. I did buy one tin from them (pressure free) and I might buy more in the future. But I prefer “pretty” tins. I bought two small ones in Japan at Epcot and there are lots of other places you can buy tea specific tins. For example World Market.

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This is an airtight, light blocking tin that’s designed for loose teas. It’s pretty and it’s inexpensive at only $3! World Market is forever having sales, offering coupons, and they have a rewards program so you could pick up a few for free if you happen to get one of their $10 certificates! I’ll probably get a couple myself. Don’t get me wrong, I like Teavana’s tins, but I would prefer a little variety and they cater to a very specific aesthetic. So not many of them mesh with my style. World Market’s however is just lovely and they have quite a few to pick from. They’re not super big but they’ll fit 4oz easy and do you really need more than that at any one time? I suppose if you really only like a few types then it might make sense to just buy a few of Teavana’s super big tins. But if you’re like me and want variety then it makes sense to buy in smaller quantities so it’s not just sitting going stale. Teavana’s teas will keep for at least a year if stored properly, but I don’t intend to buy so much I couldn’t go through all of it in that time. Really I expect to have to re-buy once every 4-5 months. Assuming I have a cup or two everyday. I’m also looking to switch my son over to tea from juice.

Right now the only thing I can’t get my kid to consume is plain water. Bath water, great, chlorinated pool water, even better. But plain filtered water? Nope. Short of pinning this kid down and forcing it down his throat he will not consume it. So I’ll mix something stupid like half an ounce of apple juice into a ten ounce water bottle. He’ll guzzle that down in record time. But I don’t like it cause I’m paranoid about his teeth. Besides apple juice is doing nothing for him health wise. Since he seems to like tea I’m going to try and switch him over from the juice. Then he can have something more flavorful than his “apple water” and I can feel better he’s not getting any more liquid sugar. Some teas do have caffeine but it’s something I try to avoid myself. So I’m picking teas low in it and not giving him the first steeping. I’m also looking at a few caffeine free varieties. When we find one he likes I’ll happily buy that just for him. Despite only giving him the tiniest bit of juice he drinks so much (enough to make me worry) everyday that we’re going through a ton of juice daily. I think the tea will be a better bet. It’ll be more cost effective and a healthier alternative to the sugar water they call juice.

How To Make Storage For Play Food

I’m still on vacation but I wanted to do a little tutorial to keep everyone entertained until I’m back. I also wanted to get this up sooner rather than later just because I know some people are looking for Christmas crafts and the more time they have to do them the better. Although even if you only had a day to do this it can still be done, I did this today and it literally took me minutes. It was especially simple since I had everything I needed on hand, but you can easily pick this stuff up at any Target or Walmart type place. I bought my contact paper from Fred Meyer but they sell it looks of places and you don’t even need to use it, I was just trying to keep things simple and unfussy.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m actively looking for play food storage. Today I found this in my refrigerator.

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What better to use for play food storage, than real food storage! I actually have two of these, one is almost half gone and this one was pretty much empty. We eat a lot of this delicious, delicious cheese. I seriously can’t get enough, started the day I got pregnant and it’s turned into the never ending craving. I’ll have a matching set of eight in no time, lol.

Once I polished off the cheese (yum!) I washed the container. The labels are plasticy so I didn’t really worry about them getting wet and becoming stuck forever. So check your sticker type if you’re hoping to remove it! You don’t need to but it’s better to remove as much as possible if it’s a paper sticker. Just cause they tend to get weird and your new label might not hold up as the one underneath it deteriorates. I decided to remove my stickers after I noticed how poorly stuck on the one on top was. It was already curling on one side and folded on the other, so I just pulled slowly and it came right off. To make the replacement stickers I used contact paper. I’m thinking bright pink will be an accent color in my kitchen. Since I plan to have my son’s kitchen near the real one I decided I should use complementary colors. My son also likes pink quite a bit so thats just a nice bonus.

Since I was removing my labels I decided the easiest way to cut my new stickers to size was to stick them to the backing of my contact paper.

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All I had to do after deciding where to put my label was to cut around it.

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Super simple right? I forgot to take photos when I made the big label on the front, but the process is the same. Look at the front of your contact paper and decide what you want to cut out. Then mark the back, place your label, and just cut around it. My labels were on the package a little lopsided and I just played with the alignment prior to peeling off the backing and sticking it on. I just sort of held it up where I liked it and made a note of where it looked best (the space was larger than the sticker). Then I just sort of eye-balled it and stuck it on. Contact paper is usually reposition-able for a bit, but I didn’t need to fuss with it.

Here’s my (mostly) finished container!

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Pretty cute right? Now all it needs is a label to identify the contents.

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I picked this pack of labels up for less than $2 and I’ll have more than enough to mark all of the containers I plan to make. I didn’t stick it down because I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to put in here yet. Probably pasta but I’d rather wait until I’ve finished everything. I will use these containers as general storage as I finish each food and I’m sure during that time it’ll become clear what should be stored in which container.

So this was a super fast, easy, and inexpensive to do and the results are so worth the time it took to do this. The total cost for this project was less than thirty cents too. I was buying that cheese no matter what and would have just tossed the container so that was free. Then I had the contact paper and it was around $5 for two rolls. I used such a tiny amount from one roll and the label works out to about six cents. Awesome!

This would be a great craft for older kids and the opening is more than wide enough to store things like toy cars or small blocks. I could fix more than a dozen matchbox cars in there easy, but it’s not too big to be used for something like crayons so there are a multitude of uses. You can also get super creative with what you use to cover this. Scrapbooking paper with some packing tape to cover it (so it can be washed) would look cute. Or you could even just pull off the label and let your kids go to town putting stickers on it. There is no right or wrong way to do this. And it’s so simple that even if you’re not crafty and are planning to just buy things like play food, you can still make these and feel good about yourself. This is definitely one of those Pintrest things anyone can do for a little mood boost!

I am still keeping an eye out for containers. I have this one lined up next.

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I’m sure it’ll be horrible having to eat all those cashews, but I guess I’ll just have to sacrifice. ;) Here’s a revamped Nutella jar. This one took three times as long to clean out as it did to decorate.

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I also have a peanut butter jar that’s about met it’s end and I’ll wash that out tonight. Basically anything plastic with a wide mouth will work well and there’s no need to go out and buy these things. You already have plenty of these items laying about the house you just need to be looking at them with new eyes to see their potential.

If you already have some containers you think would work but still have some stuff in them, mark them. Otherwise they run the risk of being tossed by others in the house who aren’t thinking about your project. It’s also a good way to remind yourself when you spot a good container so you don’t do it yourself!

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It’s just a bit of painters tape I wrote on with a Sharpie. So simple! I really need to go through my pantry and start marking off things I’d like to save…

Stocking A Play Kitchen

Hello All! I’m still on vacation but in the meantime I wanted to share something I plan to start working on when I get back. I do have to make some new pants and they are getting priority, but this is another little craft I’ll be slowly working on in my free time.

As you may remember I mentioned I’m moving in January. My current apartment has a very tiny galley kitchen and we have a baby gate in the entryway (it’s seriously that tiny, we have a gate designed to work in a doorway blocking the entire entryway). The new house will have a huge open kitchen. It looks great, but it’s not ideal with a toddler running through the place. I do not want my son anywhere near the oven or range while I’m cooking. I plan to put down some painters tape and teach him never to cross those lines, but it would also be helpful to have something to distract him. So I’m planning on buying him a play kitchen. He’ll be the perfect age for it when we move, a smidge over two. He enjoys playing “picnic” with his little leapfrog picnic basket and he really loved the Melissa & Doug wooden vegetable set (it’s one of the ones with velcro so you can “chop” the veggies!). In fact he’s been playing with just an empty bowl and fork while I write this. He’s totally into pretend food right now and I don’t see him suddenly losing interest.

He really liked the Pottery Barn kitchen set in the past and was playing with it the other day while we were in store. I’ve debated purchasing it but I’m probably going to just go with a Kidcraft set off of Amazon. They have some great ones that are very gender neutral. Costco has a Kidcraft one for $100 (very decent price) but it’s pink and flowery. A little ridiculous if you ask me. Especially when you consider most top chefs are male, and it’s a very male dominated field. But nope, if you’re playing house you must be a girl. It infuriates me to no end. House play stuff should be gender neutral because both boys and girls live in houses and like to imitate their parents. And with the rise in stay at home dads it’s a little insulting that the message that’s still being sent to children through their toys is that it’s only okay for girls/women to do laundry and cook dinner. So I’ll be getting him a cool set that any kid would like, they even have some with stainless steel appliances! But what to stock the kitchen with?

I had a gift certificate and a big honking coupon for Pottery Barn, so we bought that wooden vegetable set, as well as a few other toys. But he’ll still need little things like pots and pans, utensils, and of course extra food and storage. I plan to pick up these great sets from Ikea.

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If you click on the images they’ll take you to Ikea where you can look at the product info. But basically they’re child size cooking things and each set is $10. That’s fine by me since I really don’t want to spend more than $2 per item for this kitchen. If I can get it under a dollar an item though I’ll be even happier. My goal is to do this for as little as possible. Simply because in doing that it forces me to be even more creative and as a result I can be sure my son ends up with a kitchen stash no one else will have. It will also force me to recycle more and that’s always a good thing! The recycling will also allow for a bit more creativity and I love doing projects, so it’s a bit of a present for me as well. :D

Since I have from now until January to do this I’m going to start keeping an eye out for things I can repurpose, or that are super duper cheap. I actually found some awesome things today! I took my son on a walk and we had some things we needed to get at Target. While there I came across these plastic containers in the dollar section.

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Each one comes as a set of two and costs $1, so thats fifty cents a piece! Not too shabby. :) They also had these in black but I figured white would be easier to work with and less likely to show scuffs over time. These are tiny and the perfect size to hold play kitchen supplies, I can see myself adding a bit of washi tape to jazz them up and maybe some of those chalkboard labels so we’ll know what’s on special at Chez Chicken Little! Now these aren’t the sturdiest of plastic containers, the rectangle ones are a smidge thin (the ovals actually aren’t bad at all) but I’m positive they’ll hold up to quite a bit of play. Just so long as my son doesn’t use them as step stools…

I’m forever getting gifts with purchase and that means I have more than my fair share of tiny little bottles in both deluxe trial size and travel size. That’s fine though, they’ll make perfect “condiment” containers!

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These are just a small sampling of some of the tiny bottles and containers I have laying around. Right now they don’t look like much. But removing the labels, and adding a bit of decorative tape, contact paper, stickers, and new labels will change that. I’ve been known to glue shut my empty cosmetics and I’ll probably do that with some of the tiny caps. It might also be fun to add a bit of water, glycerin, and glitter to some of the bottles before I seal them. E600 glue works best in my experience. I’ve used that on some empty Eos lip balms and an empty mascara tube and I can put them trough the dishwasher without them coming apart. It just melts the plastic together so I’m not worried about leakage.

My husband also likes Wet One’s and any house with babies and kids is usually overflowing with empty wipes containers. I think they’ll be perfect for various food storage as well. I may start looking for products that come in nifty containers. Usually I buy things once (like hand soap or wipes) and then just get refills. But I might want to buy things just for the package for a bit. It’s an inexpensive way to get some extra containers.

Condiments and such aside, this kitchen will also need food. What good is a syrup bottle if you have no pancakes to “pour” your syrup over, right? When I get back it’ll be the second week of October, that means all the bolts of cool Halloween fabric will pretty much be gone- but the remnant bin will be full! All those crazy fabrics in small quantities, at discounted prices -they’re calling to me. Play food doesn’t use much fabric and having a crazy variety on hand will ensure a variety of foods. I’ll probably also buy some felt, but I’m hoping for lots of different textures. And the remnant bin is easier to search if you’re looking for lots of little bits of different stuff. Not that I’m opposed to going through the entire store touching everything, but there’s no real need. Besides I don’t want the ladies behind the cutting counter hating me when I come up asking for 12″ of thirty different fabrics. We need to maintain a good working relationship.

The stuffing is probably going to be the most expensive thing (and it’s not really avoidable for some things). So I’m going to keep an eye out for things like clearance pillows and such. Maybe take up some of the stuffing space with unconventional things likes plastic beads, to give certain things weight and a fun feel. Like pumpkins, cause pumpkins should be “heavy”. It’ll also look cool if I make things like tea bags. I saw some where they used rice or something and you could sort of see the dark “tea leaves” under the white fabric, it was pretty cool.

There are some great tutorials online and even some patterns for felt food. Here’s one site that has a ton.

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This site, American Felt & Craft has dozens of tutorials for felt food. They also offer free patterns and I haven’t really looked around much (save to pin a ton of tutorials) but I believe they also sell the supplies to make them. They’re also a great resource if you’re looking to learn a bit of hand sewing. They have graphics  showing how to do many of the stitches they show in their tutorials. So check them out if you need a brush up or are learning for the first time. For me I know how to sew and I’m really just after inspiration photos. But I’ll never say no to a free template, or twelve!

My mother sent me this pin

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I love this sushi set. There are lots of different food images out there. Tutorials and templates are nice, but for the most part you don’t really need them.

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This pasta set was on Etsy going for $20. The seller seems to be making doll clothes now but even still, $20 is pretty steep for a piece of felt cut into strips and a few rectangles sewn together. I have a mat and rotary cutter and I’ve been meaning to pick up some pinking shears, but this is something anyone could make. Even someone with no sewing experience since some of these don’t require sewing and the rest can be done by hand with a few simple stitches. I’ll be making my son a variety of pasta shapes, and have plans to also make “sauce”. Pancakes are a pretty popular felt food and the syrup is basically two pieces cut out in a random shape and sewn together, I’ll be making my sauce the same way. Here’s an idea of that that looks like.

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This image is from Fiskars website and they’re one piece pancakes. They have the templates and tutorial for free, but are advertising their products in the tutorial. No matter, you can still use the tutorial even if you don’t buy their stuff (although lets be honest, everyone already uses Fiskar).

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I’m enamored with these sugar cookies. I love that the person who made them actually took the time to hand bead them, it really makes the sprinkles look real! There’s a lot of love in these cookies, that’s for sure. I’ll probably be doing the same. Although you can totally do this with just a bit of embroidery thread as well, it’s a great way to add variety and practice your French knots! If you buy a variegated thread you’ll only need one or two skeins! Further keeping them on budget as a single skein usually runs around thirty five cents.

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These are sugar snow peas but they could totally double as edamame. Perfect for the little chef who wants to offer up a healthy appetizer or a stir fry!

There are just so many food options and there are plenty of images to inspire you on Pintrest and the web in general. You really don’t need a tutorial to make any of them, just the image alone should suffice many are so simplistic. I mean has bacon ever been this easy to make? I think not! So I’ll be keeping an eye out for containers I can reuse as food storage and such. I’ll also be making little foods here and there, and you can be sure I’ll share the process and any little tricks I may have found to make things go faster or easier. I suspect many of these will come together very quickly and a person could create an entire entree in a single evening while front of the TV.

I’m Gonna Need New Pants

I’m actually on vacation right now and I’ve scheduled this to publish while I’m away. So nothing is really going to happen today, sorry. But I am going to tell you about future plans!

My pajama pants have died. This isn’t a big issue for most people, they can just go to any store and pick up a new pair. But as a really tall woman I only own three two pairs cause finding ones that fit can be an nightmare. I had been talking to my husband about making a few new pairs and not a day later did I notice a hole in the back of my pants. It was a small hole and I figured I’d fix it later. I woke up the next morning to discover it was now a foot long and the fabric had basically disintegrated. There’s just no fixing them.

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The fabric is awesome right? My MIL knew exactly what pair I was talking about when I told her they died. ;) I’d had them for seven years, they lived a good life. They were pretty much the only pair I wore when I was pregnant. When you’re tall you don’t get many options for pj’s, so I got stuck with a size Large. This is how I’ve been wearing them since I got them.

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It’s not super comfy having that all bunched up in front like that. It was great when I was pregnant don’t get me wrong, but it was the only time they fit. But beggars can’t be choosers. I bought them from Old Navy and they’re impossible as a company. They usually just slap a Tall label on their regular clothes and send them out. So there’s no sense in trying to buy another pair from them, I had to order like a dozen just to get this pair that was long enough. I’ve had too many instances of buying two of the same top or pants only to have one show up long enough (or almost long enough) and the other is way too short. Old Navy has zero quality control so I no longer shop there (except for baby socks, I have to admit they’re the best).

I’ve made my own pants in the past and that’s what I’m going to do again. My two other pairs of pants that are just as old and almost as well loved, so they’re probably not long for this world either. I ordered some swatches of the fabric I created on Spoonflower and I’ll get them when I get home. I’ll share them on here so everyone can see how they turned out. I’m not too sure which fabric type I’ll pick, still on the fence about that but it’ll be one of the cottons that much is for sure. I don’t want my lounge wear to be polyester, I’d like to be comfortable. I plan to use a different pair of pants to make my pattern, they have a wider, longer leg. I’m also going to omit the ties cause I hate them and go for a wide elastic waistband instead. I’ll probably also make them somewhat high waisted to avoid my stomach which still hurts quite a bit.

Making pj pants is super easy and anyone can do it. It’s a fantastic beginners project that really only requires you to be able to sew a straight line. But there is still plenty of room for customization. Fun ribbon ties, contrasting cuffs or hems, piping, pockets. Lots of ways to make them fancy while still keeping it a simple project. I do need these pants sooner than later so I know it’ll probably be made by months end, they’re getting priority. So keep an eye out, I’ll probably have a tutorial up by the end of October!