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!

Just A Little Update

I’m headed off to Florida in the morning and wanted to give a quick update. I did finish the sash for my husband’s Kristoff costume. There was much drama and I ended up having to do an emergency last minute run to the fabric store. But I did finish on time. I actually even filmed a video but was unable to upload it. Hopefully when I get back I’ll be able to do a post on that, I don’t know if the video thing will happen or not though. But there will be photos at the very least.

I did create about three posts that will go up during the time I’m gone. This of you who subscribe to the blog probably already saw one post when it went up accidentally. It has been modified since then, so you may still wish to check it out when it goes up for real.

I’ll be back soon and let everyone know how the costumes wore. I expect I’ll melt, but I’m trying to keep a positive outlook. So long as I don’t pass out I’ll consider it a success, lol. Why does Florida need to be so hot? Ugh…

How To Replace The Pacifier On A Wubbanub

My son loves Wubbanubs. They’re more than just pacifiers to him, they’re friends. I bought him his first when I was 18 weeks along on a trip to Oahu. That is the one we’ll be working on today. I’ve replaced one before and had been meaning to do some of his older ones lately, but kept putting it off. That was until Carmine Froggy had an accident. We were driving back from visiting my mother in law when I parked the car and heard my son making his sad noise. I turned around and he held up his little buddy. The top was completely missing! He was so sad. Fortunately he hadn’t swallowed it and he was keeping it safe on his lap. He gave me the piece and I promised him I’d fix his little buddy. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how great these are, except for the non removable pacifier part. Well it’s not true they can’t be replaced. You can totally do it and I’m going to show you how. I promise it’s not hard and you won’t ruin our kid’s lovey. First step is to get your wubbanub. I thought I had yellow bobishes (that’s what we call them in our family) but I only had pink, purple, and blue on hand. I think Carmine Froggy will look better with a yellow bobish. I’ll order some when we come back from vacation (I need to redo a ton of these so I’ll need more anyways). We’ll fix up Lambchop up today as I think she’ll look nice in pink, it matches her nose. :)

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The second step is actually the most important. Make sure your kid isn’t around. I did this to one of these when he was around seven months and he screamed throughout the entire 10 minute process. He thought I was killing him. Oops. Don’t worry, Rico lived to tell the tale and Chicken Little seemed to come away from the experience relatively unscathed. But still, wait until the kid is in bed or just lock yourself in the bathroom. Whatever it takes to make this a solo project.

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Here are your supplies. I know you’re probably all super blown away by how high tech this all is, don’t get intimidated now! Depending on your needle and bobish you may not even need the thimble. The first time I did this I didn’t need one, this time I did. I guess my supplies in Hawaii are better. For some inexplicable reason I didn’t have white thread on hand. That was fine, this pink was barely visible in the finished result. Just aim for something close, it’s not the end of the world if you see a stitch or two. And I promise you, stitches will be visible so get over any delusions of perfection now.

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Take a look at your wubbanub, pull back the fur and bobish and you’ll see the stitching. That’s what you’ve got to remove. You can cut the bobish off at this point or leave it on, it really doesn’t matter. I thought having it on made it easier to hold onto, you do what works best for you.

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What you’re going to want to do now is slip your seam ripper into that first thread and cut it. Once you get the first couple of stitches out it’s pretty easy sailing. Be sure to remove all of your cut threads. I know it can be a little scary to see such a beloved friend in such a state, but I promise you it’ll get better really soon. This goes fast. IMG_9410

Right now, with the old pacifier removed you’re at an important stage. You can do a number of things here. You can sew the mouth shut if you’re looking to ditch the bobish and keep the friend, or you could even sew in a completely different type of pacifier. My son only likes Avent Soothies, and by that I mean the 0-3 months ones. I should probably replace them with the harder to chew through 6+ month ones, but I think I’ll save those for when I want/need him to give them up cause he really doesn’t like them. You’ll definitely need a thimble if you want to use any other brand of silicone pacifier, Soothies are just softer than most. If your child prefers the plastic kind with the handle then you have a unique opportunity to add in a strap so the pacifier can be removed for washing. I would take a small scrap of fabric or ribbon and attach snaps to it. So all you’d have to do is sew the end of your strip into the mouth and then you could fasten the other end with the snaps around the pacifier of your choice. But since my son doesn’t like those I’m just going to replace it with another Soothie.

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Just pick a side and create a sturdy knot. Trim the ends. Slide in your bobish and get ready to sew.

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Now we’re going to use an extremely sophisticated sewing method called the “stab and pull through”. Fortunately anyone can do it with just a little practice! Just start on one side, and work your way to the other. Try to be sure you’re catching the fabric on both sides of the mouth. Don’t worry if you miss a few times, it’ll be fine. Just keep going until you feel it’s not going anywhere. Pull on it a few times to be sure. Then tie off the end.

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As you can see it’s not the prettiest sewing job, but this bobish is going nowhere. My son likes to pull and bite on them. I like to throw them into the washing machine and then pop them into the dryer on the highest heat setting to kill any germs. Despite that the last one I did is a year old and is still holding up just fine.

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If you followed all these steps congratulations, you’re finished! You’re little one has a brand new(ish) wubbanub. It takes a little effort but is totally worth it. These things can cost as much as $25 so it’s far better to replace the pacifier part as opposed to the whole thing as they get worn. Besides, it’ll never be the “same” so it’s kind of a waste of money. Plus you can pick a different color (all wubbanubs come with green pacifiers only) to make yours easy to spot anywhere. :)

***UPDATE***

Wubbanub contacted me via Twitter this morning. This was their Tweet,

@koolchicken – We do not suggest altering, modifying, or changing the product in any way. New products for older infants in Winter 2015.

That’s fine with me, I figured they wouldn’t be okay with people modifying their design, I’m guessing it’s a safety thing. But lets be honest. If your child has a lovey that has become unsafe you have two options, try to fix it or toss it. For many parents throwing away a beloved stuffed animal is just not an option. My son might not freak out if his buddy “disappeared” but many kids will. I know that the new pacifier I’ve attached is on there well and isn’t going anywhere. And I accept the fact that if my child becomes hurt on a wubbanub I’ve modified it’s 100% my fault. But as parents we have to take responsibility for anything we give our child, modified or not. That first wubbanub I swapped the pacifier out on was only a week old when the pacifier it came with broke. It was a mistake in the stitching and it tore. That was not safe to give my son and a return of that particular pacifier was not possible. So it’s important to remember, even a brand new product with all original parts can be dangerous as well and all children should be supervised (as much as possible) when given any toy. So if you decided to follow this tutorial remember, you don’t have wubbanub’s support. My modified wubbanub’s have held up fine with no issues. But your experience may vary.

Adult Kristoff Costume, Finished!

I’ve finally finished my husbands Kristoff costume. He doesn’t really care about dressing up. Usually I’m lucky to get him into a t shirt with a print on it, like this delightful little number.

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He got this monstrosity at Target years ago. So yeah, this is his version of a costume. As you can guess, it doesn’t really mesh well with my vision. I would have just bought a ready made costume for him since he really doesn’t care about this stuff, but nothing existed. Well, that’s not 100% true. There were made to order costumes available from China but they cost a whopping $120 plus shipping. No way was I going to spend that for something that might not have even gotten here on time and will probably only be worn a few times. So I got out my muslin and set to work.

I took a t shirt that fit my husband loosely and used that to figure out how wide to make the tunic. I also added on the weird sleeves. I was going to add them in afterwards but decided there was no point. I had my husband try on the first muslin when he got home from work and made the necessary adjustments. Basically adding a bit to the hips and length. He also asked me to cut back the arm holes so now they look goofy (at least to me).

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I straightened out the lines and used a circle skirt to make the curved bottom. I laid the skirt down and traced the back, then I wrapped the skirt around the front overlapping them slightly off center (because Kristoff’s tunic has the center point of his tunic slightly off) then I traced those. Once I was sure I liked it I started to cut out my pieces.

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Since I didn’t have any computer generated reindeer hide (or even any regular reindeer hide) I opted to use gray flannel. I think it’ll make a decent stand in, but only time will tell. :) I decided to line it as well since I didn’t want it bunching up on my husband while he’s wearing it. I bought him just a simple long sleeved t and some grey sweats from Target to go underneath cause there was no was I was going to make those as well. I don’t hate my life.

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I decided to use bias tape to make the detailing on the front of the tunic. I think Kristoff’s might also have pink but I didn’t want to get crazy with this. I kept it simple and it looks just fine. I sewed this down before I attached the lining.

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I sewed the lining to the neckline, “sleeves” armholes, and hem first. Then I turned the whole thing inside out and pressed it. Then I put the two right sides together and serged the sides. Almost finished!

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Now I needed to add the fur trim. It felt a lot like punishment, it was not easy. The fur kept getting in the way and I had a hard time keeping it in place. Trying to use pins was a waste of time and things went way better without them. I’ll never use this stupid stuff again.

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Finished!

I whip stitched the trim on the fur down on the hem but I trimmed it up by the shoulders. It seemed to just work best that way. I still need to make the sash, I plan to do that tomorrow. I would have done it tonight but I was too tired after ballet and baby wrangling. So I worked on this post and another little craft you’ll see next. ;)

I hope this “tutorial” can help anyone looking to make a Kristoff costume. Sadly the boys have been ignored by Disney. There have been Anna and Elsa costumes since day one. They only just came out with an Olaf costume last month and we all saw how that went, sold out in hours and stock has yet to be replenished. It’s a crying shame they’ve been refusing to produce sufficient Frozen merchandise. They’ve had multiple variations of Anna and Elsa’s dresses, would it have killed them to make a Kristoff? They also skipped releasing adult costumes this year, I don’t think they’ve ever done that before. Oh well, what are you going to do? We can’t force them to produce certain things and when that happens we just have to make our own!

For anyone who’s looking to make one of these I got all my materials at Joann Fabrics. I think this cost me around $45 because I shopped sales and used a bunch of coupons. By far the most expensive part of this outfit was the fur trim at $7 a yard (I bought two yards and skipped the collar but I would have had exactly enough to do it if I had not omitted it). So it wasn’t too bad, this was dirt cheap compared to my costume. It also went together pretty quickly. A couple of days worth of work. If I were making this for my son it probably would have gone even faster so if you’re making this for a child expect it to take an afternoon.

Designing Fabric For Spoonflower

Okay, so over the past month I’ve gone from hating Spoonflower to kind of loving them. Go figure.

I was browsing their site over the past couple of days and realized that most if not all of the fabric I’d purchased or pinned was just gone. I contacted one of the designers and she told me one of the Disney people contacted them and forced them to remove their designs from their shops citing copyright infringement. Seriously? There’s tons of Frozen knock offs on eBay but no, they don’t care about that. They’d like to bully random individuals who are making designs inspired by “their” characters. Kind of enrages me. It’s like how they’re actively trying to copyright the name Aurora even though they didn’t come up with it. This is an issue because if they succeed then every performance of the ballet The Sleeping Beauty will now have to omit the name of the main character (and it’s where the name originated). Now don’t get me wrong, I think they should protect their brand. But their deranged desire to own the world needs to be scaled back a bit.

Any-who, there was a design I really loved. I shared it in a past post (the link now goes to nowhere) and I bought a swatch. A single swatch, sob. I’ll never be able to get more- unless I make my own…

This is how it all started. I wanted to see just how difficult it would be to make my own fabric. Turns out, not that hard. I mean, the really fancy stuff is pretty hard and I’m not even going to try (at least not yet). But I really wanted that specific design. I’d just ask the designer if she’d be willing to sell me the image, but I don’t know who s/he is. So I can’t contact them. So I tried making my own. I first had to draw my main character.

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Look familiar? Yeah, he’s a cousin. Some modifications have been made and I’m not sure I’m finished. I may add some spikes to his back for a little variation. But I think he’s now generic enough I can still get the “look” without veering too close to copyright infringement. He looks pretty similar to many Chinese dragons without the added frills and facial features that make him who he is. Makes sense too, they studied Chinese dragons before finalizing shapes for him. So unless Disney can claim copyrights to all Chinese style dragons, he’s mine. I typed “Free Chinese Dragon Clipart” into Google images and this is some of what I found. So I think I’ll be just fine.

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Obviously this is not a new shape. And looking at these make me want to add spikes to the back of “mine” even more now. I didn’t want him to have facial features or any patterns to him, I really wanted him to remain a solid color. I thought that would give me more flexibility in what I create. Here’s one sample of a soon to be fabric in my shop.

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Sorry about that, but it’s my actual file and I had to draw that. You want one you draw it, deal? This is just one little sample, I did about a dozen more. Some are actually totally different but with leaves. I wanted to branch out and try the software and see what I could come up with. I think they look okay considering this is all just on my first attempt. You can see everything I made here in my shop. Please be aware that none of this is currently available to purchase. I can order all I like. But I am required to actually buy a swatch of each before I can make them available for public sale. What is nice though is that I can buy my own designs at a discount. And to order sample swatches it works out to something like a $1.25 per swatch instead of the usual $5, I also get 10% off each yard! I won’t complain about that. :)

I had been thinking. I need some new pajama pants at some point. I own three pairs and as you can imagine they’re in pretty heavy rotation. Only one pair actually fits, so that adds to the fun. I’m thinking I may want to design a really special fabric and when I do I’ll buy a couple of yards and do an actual tutorial. I think that might be fun. So if anyone wanted to make the same pair they’d be able to. I might do a few little tutorials like that. Come up with a special fabric just for that and share a how to. I like it when other bloggers do it, so why not join in on the fun? I’ll need to start coming up with ideas of designs. Maybe start carrying a sketchbook again. I think Target sells tiny moleskin ones. Perhaps I’ll pick one up the next time I’m there.

In the mean time feel free to let me know what you think of the designs, here or there. I’m not too good at this yet so I probably won’t be able to accommodate many, if any requests. I am able to draw though so who knows?

Spoonflower LMTD Satin & A New Beginning

As I mentioned in my last post, I decided to give Spoonflower a second chance. Well, the order I shared with you all in my last post has shipped. But there was also another I didn’t mention…

In the past week or so Spoonflower released two limited time only fabrics. One was a satin, the other a poly crepe de chine. As I mentioned in the past I’m not a big fan of synthetics, but I feel Spoonflower prints best on polyester. Reasons may vary, but it’s just what I’ve noticed.

I had been wanting to make a Rapunzel dress, ever since I bought that kids costume back in February. Believe it or not that one is still living on my dress form in my bedroom. It’s just so pretty I could never hide it in a closet. I sometimes pop it on for my son. He gets so excited, well, it’s hard to describe this thing he does beyond saying he literally vibrates. It’s pretty funny. But despite him believing me to be the real deal when I’m wearing it, the dress is not exact. It’s kind of strange too. You’d think if anyone were going to get it “right” it would be Disney themselves. It’s not like they couldn’t print their own fabric, but they’re clearly just buying some random brocade. I knew I could do better.

So I indulged. I knew that I shouldn’t, that it was wrong to buy more fabric I didn’t need. But it was either buy this now, or hope they re-release this fabric in the future. If they never offered it again I would have bought what I had been planning initially which was their silk, and that costs $34 a yard! For comparison the satin is $17.50, which actually isn’t a bad price for satin and it’s the exact same price as the basic combed cotton. I always shop sales or use a coupon, but satin at JoAnn’s is at least that much regularly so it’s not like I’m getting robbed. There’s also the fact that Rapunzel’s dress in the movie is satin, or at least it looks like it is. In some scenes it could be anything, in others it has a really noticeable shine to it. So this is more screen accurate (sometimes), and it’s half the price of the silk.

Now I know what you’re thinking “Ummm, koolchicken? Silk is silk and satin is polyester“. I hear you, and I understand your concern. But this fabric actually feels nice and it looks so pretty, and it’s machine washable. Very important when you’re staring down thirty and you still routinely dump stuff down the front of you. My kid wears white and looks fabulous. I start out wearing white and by the end of the day I’m a technicolor rainbow. I was once wearing my favorite white skirt when I looked down and notice I’d somehow spilled Orange Julius down the front of it. My BIL wanted to know exactly how I’d managed that as I was drinking from a cup, with a lid and a straw, and I’d only just bought it. Hand to God I still don’t know. So machine washable is something that’s important to me when it comes to something that’s worth so much due to materials and labor. Heck, forget the materials and just focus on the labor. It won’t be amusing if I trash it on the first wear.

So I’m really glad I took the plunge and bought some. I have just enough to do the outfit, nothing extra. I was so tempted to buy a little extra of it to make some accessories but I resisted. I’ll probably have enough left from the darker print to do a little something. I do wonder if I should buy another yard of the bodice material though. Just because if I made a mistake cutting or sewing it I’m kind of screwed if/when they stop producing this fabric. I didn’t make any mistakes on my Anna costume and I’m pretty good about not having to rip stuff out. But this is satin. and satin doesn’t like oops moments of any kind. So I’m going to have to be really, really careful. I’m also a smidge paranoid about the skirt. If my machine ever had an issue with the embroidery, I’d have the same problem. Obviously I could just buy different fabric for the skirt and keep the center panel in the satin. But who wants that? I’d rather have it look seamless.

Here’s the fabric I bought.

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This is the material for the bodice and the sleeves. I bought two fat quarters for the sleeves. Looking back I really should have just bought a yard due to the cost difference. Lesson learned. The colors here are fairly accurate. It’s a verily lovely lilac pink color.

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This is the material for the skirt, the patterned part is for the center panel the rest of the skirt is plain. I bought a single yard of the patterned fabric and I can’t imagine needing more of that. I think the colors here are not coming across true to life, perhaps a bit more berry/red than purpley. But the fabric is pink toned not purple as in the film (sometimes).

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The colors here are still slightly off but I think it still gives a good first glimpse of what they all look like together. As you can see the lighter design has a smaller scale to fit on the smaller area. I have the buttons I’m going to use for this already. I saw them ages ago and thought they were perfect so I just scooped them up. I still need lining fabric, lace in both white and pink, pink cording, grommets (and a grommet punch), as well as pink ribbon or cording. I’m not in a rush to get any of those. This is something I’ll work on when I have the time. Right now I need to be focusing my resources and time elsewhere.

Just thought I’d mention Spoonflower is running a contest on their site. The prize is, Gertie Sews Vintage Casual and three yards of Performance Piqué. Gertie is really cool and her blog a great resource for vintage sewing tips, and really just sewing tips in general. So I’m guessing the book will be amazing. I haven’t used any of her patterns yet but I’ve been tempted. She has  an Etsy shop as well where you can buy kits to make her vintage slip, and panties. She did a sew along with that and I thought it was so cool. A great way to start sewing if you’re new to it I say. A kit with everything you need plus the designer herself showing you how to put the garment together. Genius! Anyways, here’s my referral link to the contest

Enter Here!

Enter by Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 for a chance to win. The winner will be announced on the Spoonflower blog on Wednesday, September 17th. Full Disclosure, I think get extra points or whatever if you click on that link to enter. I’m not 100% on that, but I’m pretty sure. Just wanted people to be aware.

I do still have to finish my husband’s Kristoff costume. I finished the muslin last night and I need to tweak the sleeves just a bit, but it’s done. I hope to start cutting the fabric tonight and begin sewing tomorrow (if not tonight). I made the decision not to attach the collar to this so it won’t be super accurate and more just “inspired by”. That’s fine though. Kirstoff’s tunic has a small stand collar and there’s fur attached. Every time I think about it all I can think is “Geez, I hate doing collars” and “That fur is going to be uncomfortable, he’s gonna hate me”. So just an hour ago I decided to omit it. I doubt anyone will notice and it not only saves me work, but it’ll keep my husband from being miserable. Lets be honest, men just want to be comfortable. They don’t care if something is “accurate” or “cute”. It’s why the people they cast to play the Orc’s in LOTR’s were women. They wouldn’t complain about wearing a hot uncomfortable garment for hours on end. I’ll keep the fur around the sleeves and hem, but that’s it. Photos and more information on that costume to come. Now I’ve got to go deal with a tiny crazy person who’s taking my living room apart. :)