Polymer Clay, Ideas and a Tutorial!

Hello everyone! I’m back this week to offer up some fun ideas and a tutorial. It’s summer now and for many people, that means kids are home (and in your hair, lol). This is going to be something fun you can do with a slightly older child, it’s not really toddler friendly simply because you can’t risk them eating the clay. The website says it’s non-toxic but honestly, it’s flexible plastic so it’s really only suitable for older kids. I like Sculpey clay, I’ve used it ever since I was little and I find it to be a really great product. There are other brands of polymer clay out there that others swear by, use what you like (or can find). I bought mine during a half on sale Joann’s was having so each 2oz bar was around $1.50. Even at full price it’s not that expensive and a little goes a long way. Today we’re going to make a small marbled bowl, all told it’ll take a quarter of a block so you’ll have plenty left over for other creations! Now, lets get started!

First thing you’re going to do is pick your colors. For this I picked blue, two different greens, and white. I find that picking colors that’ll mix nicely together is key. So either pick similar colors, like my greens and blues, or pick colors that will mix to create a new color like red and blue so you’ll get purple. I’ve tried a lot of different combos but find that the colors mix so easily that while pink and green might look great together, mixed they create a really ugly shade. So think your color combos through first!

Now that you’ve picked your colors it’s time to start mixing them. I like to roll mine out into logs, then I twist them together and roll them out again.

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After I’ve rolled out my giant log, I fold it back on itself and twist and roll again.

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Then I start to smush it up a bit. Have fun with it but remember not to do it too much! You want the colors to swirl and blend. But if you play with it too much you’ll lose the swirl effect we’re going for. Once you’ve got it to the point you want it roll it into a ball in your palms.

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Then grab your rolling pin and start rolling it out. As you’re rolling things out try to ensure you’re rolling it out evenly, and pay attention to the swirl pattern you’re creating. Halfway through I recommend flipping it over to see what the other side looks like. If you prefer one over the other then focus on that side. In this case I ended up liking the bottom side better, so I flipped it.

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Now it’s important to keep an eye out for air bubbles. They can expand in the oven and totally ruin your piece. So if you see one, just pop it with one of your tools then smooth it out with your finger. Due to the swirled nature of the pattern you’ll never see it later.

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After you’ve got your clay to your desired thickness grab something to trace a circle. I found a large plastic cup to work perfectly for this. Cut around the perimeter and get ready to lay it into your bowl.

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Find an oven safe bowl you don’t mind donating to the cause. Once you use something for polymer clay you really shouldn’t eat off of it again. So far as I know no brand has tested whether it’s safe to use these items again, but it’s recommended against. You can easily pick a glass bowl up from the dollar store, or just use one you don’t like. I have several of this same red cafe au lait bowl so I used that. I plan to use it in my craft room so I didn’t mind using it for this.

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Lay your clay circle in the bowl then bake according to the clay’s instructions being careful to watch the clock so it doesn’t burn!

Now, if you’re like me you’l get this far and do something stupid. For me, I was in my dimly lit kitchen and wearing an oven mitt when I decided it would be a good idea to poke at what I thought was a bubble (there was no bubble). Since I had my circle just laying in the bowl and not pressed into the center there was space. A smart thing to do would have been to tip the bowl upside down and tap so my clay bowl would fall out. Instead I put my finger through it. Grrrr.

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You’re clay will still be somewhat pliable and slightly brittle when it’s still piping hot from the oven. Hence the weird cracking it did when I trashed the bowl. But I was able to press it back together and it’s fine and not especially noticeable now. I know some of you are thinking “why didn’t you just start over and never mention you screwed up”. Well, I think it’s fair to show your failings. And if I can help someone else learn from my mistakes, that’s great. I’ve made a number of these with no issues, but the time I set out to photograph it for the blog this happens. And hey, maybe it happened so I could share my experience, who knows? So I’m leaving it in.

When it’s cool you can leave it as is, or you can glaze it. I decided to gold leaf the edge and glaze it. This is the gold leaf paint I used. It’s seriously the coolest stuff in the jar, liquid metal. I glazed my bowl using Sculpey glaze. When using polymer clay you can’t use just anything on it. No acrylic paints or nail polish or what have you. Over time it’ll degrade the cay and cause a gooey mess, not good. So be sure you’re using clay safe glaze.

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I did make a tiny little bowl from my scraps. I thought about just mixing them together and making a kawaii creature (another plus of using coordinating colors). But just decided to roll them out into an irregular shape and make a very tiny bowl. There were some air bubbles in this one and I’m glad for it, it gives you all a chance to see what they can look like. They aren’t that bad in this piece, but you can see how this might ruin a sculpture.

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Another fun thing you can make using very little clay and a lot of imagination is fun charms or pocket pals. I’m seriously addicted to making these. I actually still have a ladybug I made more than fifteen years ago. He’s back in the Hawaii house somewhere, I’ll need to find him and bring him back. I haven’t played with this stuff in ages though. But I’m glad I took the craft back up, it’s very relaxing. And it’s a great thing to do on days you’d rather just sit inside in the AC because it’s too hot for the kids to play outside.

Here are some of the cute little things I’ve made over the past several days.

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I really like this particular YouTube channel, she has a lot of cute little tutorials that show how to create these.

There are also a lot of cute inspirational pictures on Pintrest. I’ve created a special board devoted to these cute little guys, you can see it here. I’ve also started to use Instagram. There is someone on there with my name (I do not find it funny) but you can find the real koolchicken here.

I do want to be completely honest. I try to post tutorials I think anyone could do, so you can follow along and come away with something cute and feel good about yourself. I really feel like a lot of the Pintrest hate out there is because the site sets people up for unrealistic expectations. Yes, there’s something for everyone out there, but a lot of this stuff is hard and you have to know how to pick your projects. This bowl really is super easy and any four year old could manage this (with a little adult help for the cutting and baking). But where the little clay animals are concerned, you may struggle. I actually started a new medicine for nerve pain and was pretty drugged when I made the strawberry, mushroom, watermelon. This is one of my talents, I can and have made these while struggling to speak properly. I come from a long line of artists and though no one else has sculpted (to my knowledge) I’ve been doing it for years. I once managed a complicated vase on a pottery wheel on my first try, I wasn’t even ten. When we played with clay in school I was always the weird kid who managed some elaborate figurine when everyone else made ashtrays and snakes. I was making canes at 12. I’m not saying this to brag, I’m just trying to be honest and say that the little figurines are tricky if you’ve never done it before and they may take real practice. So you may not be able to just watch a two minute video and recreate this perfectly on your first try, even if you’re sober. I’m sorry. But, I truly believe that if you look over my Pintrest board anyone could find something they could make with a bit of practice. I’ve got a good mix on there. Regardless of whether you’ll be able to make something exactly the same as someone who’s been doing this for years, this stuff is still really fun to play around with. If what you’re making isn’t coming out the way you like, smush it up and start over. No big deal. The main purpose of this all is to have fun. Stressing about making something perfect isn’t fun. If you make a mistake, just go with it. It’s okay.

Now, some tips to make playing with this stuff a bit more fun and successful.

*First up, protect your work surface! I like to lay down some wax paper. I tape it down so it doesn’t bunch or shift. You can also lay it out on top of your clay to make rolling it out easier. I’ve been wanting a piece of marble tile for a while now, just to use with some of my other craft projects. I think it’ll work especially well with my clay, and I’ve seen others using them as well. They can be bought individually at the hardware store for very little.

*When it comes to rolling out your clay you can either use a bit of waxed paper to protect your rolling pin, or you can use a dedicated rolling pin. The one I used in the tutorial can be bought here. It was inexpensive and comes with removable guide rings that make rolling out your surface evenly easy.

*If you’re looking for tools to use with your clay, nail art tools can be very handy. I recently bought some from eBay, you can buy the same ones here. You can use them to glue pieced of baked clay together, for painting, and for picking up small pieces. It can also be helpful for smoothing out the clay and attaching pieces.

*If you want to glue your clay, E6000 is the only glue that seems to work on polymer clay. This is a restricted item many places. In New York I used to have to show ID to buy it. But it’s very strong and I love it. It actually works better than super glue and is more effective on many surfaces. So I tend to use it for more than just clay. You can buy it in many supermarkets, Target, Walmart, etc.

*Clean up can be a little tricky. After you wash your hands they’ll often still feel as though they have a film on them. Just using a bit of rubbing alcohol or some hand sanitizer will remove that residue instantly. It can also be great to have it with you when you’re working with the clay so when you swap colors, the red that’s on your fingers doesn’t transfer to your white and turn it pink! Baby wipes also seem to work well.

So there you have it. I hope you all feel inspired to get out there and start crafting. Polymer clay is a lot of fun and a great boredom buster. This stuff can totally keep most kids occupied for hours, and you’ll probably feel compelled to join in on the fun too. It’s hard to resist this stuff. :)

See you next week!

Day Planner Supplies

Hi everyone, today I’m going to talk about planner/agenda supplies! I do have an electronic day planner that I use and love (Cozi for IOS devices) but it wasn’t working for my blog. At some point, even an electronic planner can get cluttered. So I decided to go back to a paper planner, but just for my blogging. I did have a disc bound planner and some printables, but I wanted to save that notebook for different things. So I bought a Lilly Pulitzer agenda. To go with that I decided to get some accessories. When I initially went into the store I planned to get just a couple sheets of stickers. But Joann’s happened to be running a 40% off sale on their stickers and paper crafting supplies, so between the sale and some of the great things I found. Well… I think you can guess what happened. Yeah, I got a bit carried away.

I decided to try something different with this post. I filmed a video for you all! In this you’ll see what I bought and how I’m using it. Let me know what you think!

Now my craft room is still a work in progress so I need a place where I can have easy access to some of my stationary supplies. So I converted our kitchen junk drawer into a stationary drawer! I share the space with my husband so I just removed his stuff for the photo, but the rest is mine. I literally use this drawer several times a day. It makes me so happy just to look at it. All that washi tape! I swear I spend half the day looking for places to stick it. I actually have some framing my laptop screen right now. ;)

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I think even after I get my craft room up and running I’m going to keep a small stationary “command center” in the kitchen. It’s just super practical. I love having a small stash of thank you notes, along with pens and some fun tapes right there in my kitchen. I don’t know why I didn’t start doing this years ago. Having them in some closet is a pain, this makes sure my notes get written promptly! And having some washi tape close by is always a good thing! Never know when you’ll need it. :)

I wanted to also take a moment to show you all what my current planner looks like. I’m using this until my Lilly one comes in (it’s backordered, plus it doesn’t start until August). I have June already filled in but didn’t want to share what’s coming up next week, so I’m only showing you July. As you can see it’s very simplistic but it still works. It’s bright, colorful, and with the label stickers it’s easy to just look at it and go “Oh, next week I’m doing X so I’d better get on it”. I also have enough room to fill in other little things like doctors appointments and such that I might need to work around. Like this month, I have two doctors appointments and I may have to have more in July. So I have some washi (which is often removable) in my June pages showing that day, and notes on how I can keep myself on track if I don’t feel up to writing.

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I love looking at how other people decorate their planners. I could watch those videos on YouTube all day. In the past I found this really challenging but over time I’ve gotten better at it. I think it also helps if you don’t really need to write that much down. For me I’m aiming for one post a week. So I have one day where it’s always going to be blocked off, plus the other side of the week where I can write a note or two. The rest of the space is then free to decorate.

If you’re wondering how I put these pages together it’s actually really simple. To start the top of the page where the month and year go I used the scrapbooking paper I showed you in the video. I used double sided tape to stick it down, and just used some letter stickers I had on hand. If I wanted to keep things simple I could have just written what I was going to post every Monday in the square, but adding a cute label sticker really jazzes it up. Same goes for the notes I wanted to add for later in the week. The long labels that cover Thursday through Saturday also serve the dual purpose of blocking off all of those days, since that’s the time I’ve planned out to write. That leaves me with Sundays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays to add additional notes or to decorate. With the printables I’m using there’s also a Notes section off to the far right, but I elected to cover that section with more scrapbooking paper to add a little color. The addition of some washi tape was just a fun way to add even more color, patterns, and tie the whole look together. To keep the pages I want together open I used some star shaped paperclips I found at Ikea.

For July I pretty much copied what I did in June, just in another color scheme. The only really difference is the addition of a few doodles. All in all this is very simple to do, but it really helps when you have coordinating supplies. For the most part everything I used is from the same line and they’re made to go with one another. But you can pull an organized look off even without using matching sets. I think it’s always easier when you start with a color scheme and go from there. There’s also a lot of great inspiration on Pintrest and YouTube, and there are so many bloggers who write about nothing but day planners. There are even some groups that pick a color scheme (or other design inspiration) and challenge all of their followers to decorate their moth or week around those colors. So it can take a lot of the guess work out of it for you.

Hopefully this planner keeps working for me and I’ll be able to keep up with my posting schedule. I know I haven’t even been doing this a month but so far I really like knowing every Monday there will be something new up. This is no longer a source of stress for me. I just come up with something and I write when I get the chance, and schedule it to go live when there’s an open slot. I hope all of you are enjoying the posts. I know they’re all a bit random and this blog doesn’t have a clear direction if you will. But for me, it’s just sort of all my favorite things to read about in one spot. Ballet gear, crafting, sewing, stationary, Pintrest (OMG Pintrest!), and more. I have to assume I’m not really that unique and this stuff would appeal to a lot of other people as well. I’m always surprised by how many hits I get on this blog everyday, so it’s clear the what I’m writing about is working for at least some people. I don’t know. I just love reading “fun” blogs, and I like the idea of maybe being one of them. :)

See you next week!

In Defense Of The Pintrest Hairdo

You may have noticed there’s a lot of hate on the mommy blogs. It’s often directed at anyone who dares to enjoy parenting, getting dressed in the morning, or even showering on the regular. If you ask me I just see these outburst that claim others are “judging” to be insecure whining. And there’s a special sort of rage directed towards any woman that uses Pintrest. I’ll never understand why. No, no one’s life is Pintrest perfect, we all know this. So stop the hate okay? It’s not healthy. Today I’m going to show you all two variations of a great style I found on Pintrest that I love to do. It’s easy, and it’s a fantastic alternative to your basic ponytail or messy bun.

For me, I never wanted to become one of those mothers that loses herself, I wanted to keep my fancy hair. It’s one thing to be totally devoted to your kid. But it’s another when you no longer realize that you’ve walked out the door in pajama bottoms. Granted if the kid’s still a baby you totally get a free pass, it’s hard to function on 3 hours of sleep. But when your baby is entering fourth grade? No excuses. One of the big things people seem to let slide is their hair. Now I’m going to be honest here, I’m soooo guilty of this. Not in the styling, but definitely in the cutting of it. My friend is a hair dresser and there’s a lot of head shaking when she asks me when I last got it cut and I say, “Oh, remember the last time you flew out. Six months ago? Yeah, then.” She does not find me funny. I either need to see her more often (she’s 3,00 miles away, sniff sniff) or I need to cut it out and find a local stylist. Even though I know they’ll never do as good a job!

My hair is pretty long, so it’s easy to hide the fact I neglect trims. Sort of. I purposely didn’t do the “mum bob” so many women do. You know, you have a baby and you just lop off all that long hair you grew during pregnancy thinking it’ll be so much easier. Yeah, I wore my hair short for years. So I knew it wasn’t easier, that I’d have to keep up on my trims if I wanted it to stay looking good. Do I get points for putting effort into thinking about how to be lazy better? No? Eh, worth a shot.

Well, with long hair you can just toss it into a ponytail and call it a day. But I found that actually pulling my hair into something a little more elegant is well worth the extra time. It’s also practical to get it all up, especially since I do neglect those trims and my hair has gotten pretty long over the years (it was nearly waist length before my last trim!). I do this one style that’s netted me countless compliments and it literally takes me four minutes to do if I’m rushing. I do a two stranded french rope on the sides and a bun with the ponytail. It looks very similar to this, just with both sides braided and the bun is in the center.

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It’s the perfect style if you have bed head, if you’ve gone too long between washing, or if you haven’t had time to style your hair after washing (mine looks a little messy/fluffy if I haven’t flat ironed it).You can make it more intricate, or you can pick up big sections to save time. It took me several tries before I had this down to under five minutes, when I first started it took me more like fifteen. But it’s definitely worth looking on Pintrest (or YouTube) and finding just one or two hairstyles and practicing them. Do it once every few days until you’re confident.

You know, the rage directed towards the “Pintrest Mum” really is just misdirected anger. I know a lot of people hate the Pintrest hairstyles claiming them to all be too much. But really, they’re not all impossible. Some are really, really simple. Picking a couple to have up your sleeve for those off days when you still want to look put together but you’re short on time is a good thing. And while I know I’ll never master the bow bun, this one I can do. I accept that particular failing and move on. It’s not a big deal and doesn’t make me any less of a mother/wife/person. I promise, if you can’t manage this hairstyle then it’ll have no bearing on your abilities as a mother/wife/person. You just need to try something different, maybe the bow bun is your special talent. If it is I’ll be eternally jealous. But at the end of the day, it’s just a hairstyle from some website. How doing stuff you saw on Pintrest became synonymous with being a good mother is beyond me. They really have little to do with one another.

This is another, very similar hairstyle I’ve been known to sport.

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You have to admit, these are a lot more chic than your standard ponytail. And if you have a baby or toddler that’s grabby finding a style that keeps your hair away from them is a good thing! For a long time if my hair was down my son would stick it in his mouth or just yank. I literally could not carry him in the ergo if my hair wasn’t in a bun of some sort. He used it like reins, and yes, it was painful. Something else I like about these hairstyles is they contain “growth” if you will. With the summer months coming I know some of you out there will be battling the humidity. Sometimes it’s easier to just put down the hot tools and admit you’ve lost this round. These are good styles to keep fluffy and frizzing hair in check without a ton of pins. And if you do have to use them, at least they can be hidden in the braid. I hate how when my hair is in a pony tail or just regular bun I have to use those stupid little clips, you can see them and they never really contain everything. Stuff escapes and I just look sloppy and only half put together. This is a much nicer alternative.

So there you are. Two variations on a very easy, yet elegant hairstyle that’s simple to master. It would look good on any woman, of any age. You will need hair that’s at least past your shoulders though. I’m sure I’ll be wearing my hair up like this a lot during these upcoming summer months. Sometimes I even like to wear my hair like this to ballet, it’s always held up great!

Hope you enjoyed this post, see you next week!

A Review Of My Newest Elevé Leotards

I mentioned on here months ago that I ordered a new Elevé leotard. Well a few weeks after that they had a sale so I ordered three more. There’s free shipping on orders of $150 or more, so really I was saving money by ordering more. ;) I decided since the orders were placed pretty close together I should just wait until I had all four before doing a review on them. My first leotard took about six weeks to the day to arrive, so technically ahead of schedule. These last three took closer to eight, being one day shy of the day I placed my order. I’ve often found that the more I order at once the longer it takes for my order to arrive. Makes sense, I seriously doubt they spread different items from the same order to several seamstresses. They likely go to one, and she (or he) is responsible for the total order. And they finish when they finish. I’m fine with that, these are worth waiting for.

First up is my new Vinzant leotard. I picked “Bed Of Roses” for the base and “Celery” for the mesh. The size is Large and it feels a bit snug in some areas, as well as a smidge short. I’ve found that this is just the way the shiny spandex seems to be. It’s just tighter. My last Vinzant was in the matte spandex and even though the tag says Medium (an error on their part, I only noticed the other day) it fits fine.

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The next up is the Anna style. The base is “Blush”, the back is “Bed Of Roses” and the trim is “Ivory”. I bought a size Large and it’s spot on. I want to caution that the Blush color is very sheer. So sheer in fact I will not be sharing detailed photos of it. I even pulled on a pair of tights thinking it’d fix it, but nope. So you either need to be willing to wear black (or another dark color) tights, or shorts with this. I really wish I got the full front liner but it’s too late now. :( I tried a neutral thong, but it’s painfully obvious. As are the tights. This color is basically see through and I almost wonder why they didn’t contact me to say “what are you thinking”. The bust panel seems to do a decent job of covering up the girls. But I could obviously just wear a bra with this style. I have another Anna with a mesh back (and a back hole, I asked for that to be omitted from this one) and when there’s mesh a bra doesn’t look so great. Although I have been know to wear them sometimes, but I wear a bright contracting color so it’s clear it’s a deliberate choice.

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This one is the Laico With Sleeves. The Base is in “Jade” and the mesh is “Flower Bunches”. The size is a new one and it’s X-Large (please note as of the time I placed my order not all styles were available in an X-Large). Given how much trouble I had with this style I decided to try it out. I found that it is a much better fit. I laid this one out on top of my other Laico and as you can see there is a real size difference. Now granted it’s more in width than length but that’s okay, because it’s a four way stretch fabric. If you need more stretch one way, and less in another, the fabric will give where you need it. I often buy tights too big so that they’ll have the stretch lengthwise. So it’s snug enough, yet the perfect length. The fabric really blew me away too. I pulled it out of the mailer and it just took my breath away. These photos don’t do it justice. The Jade is bright! I tired taking photos under different lights but it made no difference, it refuses to be accurately captured, but the closeup of the mesh is spot on. It’s just absolutely stunning. I desperately want a skirt in this pattern now. Fingers crossed they have another sale soon cause I don’t think I’ll be able to resist. It’s funny too, since I knew I liked this pattern but it wasn’t at the top of my list or anything. I bought it because I was pressed for time. They announced a sale when I was at Disney and my husband wanted us to get ready for the day so we could hit the park. So I really rushed through the order. Clearly the best thing that could have happened to me since this is my new favorite leotard.

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This last one is one of their newest styles, the Tri. They describe it as being for mesh lovers and I would definitely fit that description! I picked the “Raspberry” color for the base and the “Black Tulip Lace” for the top/back. I bought this one in a size Large. Once on this fits perfectly, but getting it on is another story. This lace doesn’t have the best stretch, so it’s a bit snug going over my hips. That’s something you might want to keep in mind if you’re planning to do something like sleeves. Often stretch lace is two way stretch only so I’m not too surprised by this. Four way stretch fabrics are much more comfortable but most mesh and lace fabrics just don’t come in four way stretch, some printed spandex fabrics are two way only as well. So that’s something to remember when buying these crazy/fun patterns. If you’re concerned about fit I’ll tell you what I always do, just contact the company they’re happy to help. I opted for a sleeveless style so my broad shoulders and somewhat flabby arms wouldn’t be restricted. I’m glad I did. I feel like the photos on the website don’t really showcase the tulip design as well as they should. Somehow the tulips get lost in it, probably because the photo is taken from a distance. The photo on the site makes it seem like the lace is a smaller pattern, but in reality it’s very generously sized. The Raspberry fabric is to die for as well. I had a hard time photographing this one as well, but it’s just such a beautiful rich color in person. It’s actually much brighter and more pink in person. It’s very much a fuchsia/raspberry shade.

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All in all I’m very happy with this order. I’m definitely addicted to these leotards, they’re one of my favorite things. If I were Oprah there’d be nothing on my list besides these leotards and maybe washi tape, lol. I just love them that much. I really can’t think of a single bad thing to say about the brand or company. I had to contact them about this order and they got back to me straight away as they always do. And you can just tell the people who work for the company are happy. You can almost hear them smiling in their emails.

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This last photo is a comparison of the lining material they’re using. The one on the right is new, and the left is from my last round of leotards (I think that one is my Lauren in Smoke). The material is thicker, and more like a microfiber versus the same sort of spandex they use for the rest of the leotard. I really like it and I know that if my Anna had been fully lined in it, it would have been fine. Also worth mentioning. There was no bleeding when I washed these leotards. I know some people have mentioned a weird fluorescent yellow that comes off of their leotards for the first few washes and I thought it might be coming from the lining. Given that there was no bleeding (not even with the pink one) I think it’s safe to say it was probably the lining material and the new stuff doesn’t do it.

I do want to apologize for the photos in this post. I’ve been having trouble with my phone and computer and I had to email these to myself. The quality really suffered for it. Then there’s the lighting. I’m just horrible at selfies, sorry. The exposure is always off when I take them. I hope you’re all still able to get a good idea of what these look like in real life. I know there are a lot of people who visit my blog just for these reviews, so I try to get the best photos I can. But what can I say, I’m no great photographer. Please don’t hesitate to contact me or comment on this post if you have any questions I didn’t cover in the post. I’m always happy to help out!

See you next week!

DIY Etched Glass Water Bottle

I know I mentioned that I was going to share with you all a craft I saw on Pintrest that I thought was really cool. It’s finally happening! It all started when I saw this awesome etched glass water bottle and I loved it, but it was sold out. So I did what I usually do, turned to Pintrest to see if I could track it down elsewhere. While I didn’t find that same bottle, I did find a tutorial I could follow to make my own.

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This water bottle looked awesome so I knew I had to try it. First thing I did was head to JoAnn’s. There I found the exact same type of stencils, you can also find them here on Amazon.

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The second shot is just a close up of one of them. I haven’t used this set yet but I have plans for it!

I also bought some glass etching cream and paintbrushes, I really liked these Martha Stewart ones. They wash up so nicely and work very well. I’d definitely buy more of these in the future.

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Then I had to track down a water bottle. I used a Voss bottle like in the tutorial, but you could use any glass bottle you happen to have. First thing I did was remove the paint from the bottle. In the tutorial I linked to they used a paint scraper but it’s really overkill if you’re using a Voss bottle. I literally took a Brillo (steel wool) pad to it and the paint came off with no effort whatsoever. Then I rubbed the whole bottle down with a little rubbing alcohol.

Next I had to decide where to place my stencils. Once I found my ideal placement I stuck them on (they’re sticky!) and grabbed some gloves. The glass etching cream is pretty dangerous so you need to be sure your skin is protected. I actually have a really big prescription pill bottle that I keep mine in because I’m paranoid about my son getting into it. I couldn’t find the Martha Stewart brand they use in the tutorial, but I found this one and it worked just as well.

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I’ll admit, I slapped this stuff on and waited the required time. I wiped it off and honestly, I thought it hadn’t worked. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t in a super well lit area (remember the cave I used to live in?), maybe it’s because the stencils were still on. I don’t know, but for a minute there I was like “Oh man, another bogus pin”. :( But after I took the stencils off and washed the bottle I was like “Woah!” It looked so cool! So here she is, in all her glory.

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Do you know how hard it is to take pictures of something semi-translucent on something totally clear? I didn’t, now I do. Still, it looks really good in person. I totally want to do this again and I’m sure I will. I still have the stencils (they’re reusable) and some of the glass etching cream left, not that it was very expensive. In fact the priciest part of the project was probably the stencils and they were only about $10. They sell them lots of places and Michaels and JoAnnes have 40% coupons a lot. You can reuse them (as well as the paintbrushes) so that saves you if you plan to do this several times. I recently had this great, totally original idea to do this on some of my Pyrex dishes. Then I looked online and realized a million other people had already had this totally “original” idea. You can actually buy monogrammed ones on Etsy.

If you like these stencils but don’t want to use the preexisting patterns you can make your own as Martha Stewart sells sheets of this stuff.

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I should warn you though, it’s not adhesive. You’ll either have to tape it down or use spray adhesive but it’s the same flexible material. You’ll be able to cut through it with an exacto knife.

So there you have it. An easy craft anyone can do, that yields some pretty amazing results. You could do this in an afternoon. I wouldn’t recommend letting kids help, maybe a teen or very mature tween. As for food safety I’m fairly certain these are fine to drink out of since the etching was done on the exterior of the bottle. I scrubbed it well before use though. Just don’t go trying to sue me if you do this then decide I’m responsible if you drop your bottle and it breaks or something equally ridiculous. And while I do intend to do this on some of my Pyrex dishes I’m going to do it on the outside of the dish. So bottom line. I’ve been using my bottle for almost a year with no ill effects. I followed all of the package instructions on the etching cream and I treat it likes it’s a glass bottle, because it is. So use good judgement!

That’s all for now, see you next week!

Quick Update, Changes to the Posting Schedule

Okay I know the title says changes to the schedule, and you’re probably all thinking “there’s a schedule?”. Fair enough, there has been no schedule, but I think there probably should be. After all I have a following, how that happened I’ll never know. I never thought I was particularly interesting, but there we are. And I wouldn’t want you all to think I was ignoring you. So I’m going to try (key word, try) and start posting on the regular. I’m thinking every Monday. Just cause it’s the start of the week, maybe you’re at work (and you’d rather you weren’t) and you just want a fluffy little something to entertain you. Well, I’d like to provide that fluff.

So, I have made an official list. Not like in the past where I would write on here about what I had planned then have to come back and find that post cause I forgot what I said. Oh, no. There’ll be none of that! I’ve made a real list of things I plan to write about over the coming months. I have enough topics to get me though the next two and a half months. And I’m sure more ideas will come to me along the way. As it stands there will be more style posts, general and ballet related (I know a lot of people love my leotard reviews, I have four more coming…). Plus some easy crafts. I love Pintrest, and I do actually do a lot of those pins I pin. There’s one I did that came out phenomenal and I really want to share it with all of you. I’ve been meaning to do it forever but maybe having it on the “Official List” will see it become a reality. I really hope I can keep up with this posting schedule. I plan to write whenever I have the time and just schedule the posts to go live on Monday’s so there’s always something coming, even when I don’t have the time to write. I suspect it’ll be a bust summer and I don’t want to get behind!

So. I’ll see you next Monday. :D

Mum’s Can Be Stylish Too

It’s no secret among my close friends and family that I view the wearing of yoga pants 24/7 to be a terrorist act. Some of you may love your yoga pants and be unwilling to give them up. But for those of you who are looking to branch out, allow me to assist. I write a lot about fun ballet wear and pretty cosmetics that are gluten free. But obviously I don’t spend my every day in just leotards and lipgloss! I do have to wear other things. And as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a mother. Some women do use this as their excuse to just let themselves go. Don’t believe me, just check out some of the mummy blogs that routinely bash any women who admits they want little to do with the sainted yoga pants (yeah, I’m sure I’ll get flack for this post, and no I won’t be approving any negative comments). I don’t know what’s wrong with women today that they feel it’s acceptable to leave the house dressed like they just rolled out of bed. It’s one thing if you’re sick or injured. If that’s the case then please, don’t dress up on my account. But to show up at the Children’s Museum or the zoo? Come on now. It’s just not this hard to get dressed, I promise. And I’m not just going to tell you it’s easy and walk away, I’m going to help you.

I’ve mentioned before on here I have a capsule wardrobe. There are many variations on the capsule wardrobe, and you don’t have to limit yourself to just one. I myself have two. One for my everyday clothing and a separate one with clothes I wear on vacation (think my crazy Disney Bound skirts, and dresses I won’t be crying over if they’re trashed at an amusement park or lost by the airline). You may wish to have one for work and another for your off days. Do what works for you. Here are some links to great blogs and blog posts about capsule wardrobes.

This one is one my friend sent to me. It was a really entertaining read and this woman is also a mother. She had been living in yoga pants when she’d finally had enough. She asked a stylish friend how she did it and now she’s looking great everyday too, with minimal effort!

The blog The Daily Connoisseur is a great resource for living well. The author, Jennifer (mother of two) has actually made a living promoting the capsule wardrobe (among other things). Her blog is one I’ve followed for some time and I highly recommend it. She also mostly vlogs now, but the videos are really informative. She and I seem to be on the same page about a lot! I really loved one of her more recent posts about dressing up daily (5/18/15). If nothing else you should watch that video.

Un-Fancy is another great blog to look into whether you’re just starting out or are looking for outfit inspiration. She has a 37 piece wardrobe and posts photos of how she creates different looks. She also has a great beginners guide!

I truly believe that capsule wardrobes are the way to go. If you only have things you love and fit in your closet it really takes the guesswork out of what to wear on a daily basis. I have about a dozen dresses in my closet (since I mostly wear dresses, I have very few separates) and many can be dressed up or down. If it’s ever hard for me to pick what to wear it’s because every choice is a good one. And I don’t fret over spending a lot on a single dress since I know I’ll wear it every chance I get. I dropped $200 last fall on this little beauty.

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Totally worth every penny. It’s very sturdy, thick enough to wear even in the dead of winter, and so comfortable. I wore it with a cardigan from J Crew (in my signature orange color, everyone should have a signature color- or two!), tights, and my favorite brown leather knee length boots. I also wore hunter green, decorative knee socks with them most days. So while this dress was a little pricey, it ended up costing me very little per wear. And because it wasn’t competing for attention with 30 other dresses, plus as many pants and skirts it got the amount or wear it deserved and I didn’t feel bad about spending the money.

Beyond just reading blogs I love to look for outfit inspiration. Like I mentioned above, Un-Fancy offers just that. But she’s not the only one. There are lots of blogs out there that are devoted to just that. Here are some that I like.

Classy Girls Wear Pearls is run by Sarah Vickers, a New England native. She runs the blog partly as her own creative endeavor and partly as a means to advertise the company she and her fiancé own, Kiel James Patrick. They carry a small range of apparel and shoes but are mostly devoted to accessories. For some inexplicable reason I’ve never bought from them, but I really should try and remedy that soon. Blogs like this are great because they tell you not only what they’re wearing, but where you can buy the same items (or similar). So if you like that persons style, you can get a replica of their outfit.

The College Prepster does a little bit of everything, but she does have a fashion section. And like Sarah’s website she tells you where you can buy what she’s wearing.

Now I’m only going to show a couple of blogs that I follow because not everyone has the same taste in clothing that I do and I don’t want this post to get bogged down with links to sites you may have no interest in. So what I recommend is, identify your style. Once you’ve done that, hit up Google. Type in “preppy fashion blog” or “hipster fashion blog”, or whatever your style is. Or even just the name and brand of your favorite dress. That alone can actually lead you to a lot of sites run by individuals who share your same taste in fashion. It’s always worked for me! Most brands also have blogs. J Crew, Kate Spade, and Anthropologie all have blogs dedicated to their brand. And these blogs will often feature other bloggers who are loyal to their brand, it can be a great way to find new style blogs that fit your aesthetic. In addition to all of this there’s Pintrest. I cannot stress the importance of creating a board where you can pin any outfit you want to try and recreate. It can also be helpful if you have a board where you’ve pinned all the clothes you own. I have one for myself right here and it’s been a big help to me when I’m shopping. I can look at it and ask myself if the item I’m considering fit’s my current style. And I have everything on there, summer clothes, winter, all of it, even shoes. I created an inspiration board last fall to help me flush out my fall style, it being my first fall in several years. It honestly made a difference and I incorporated many of the things you see in that board into my wardrobe.

Okay, so now you’ve looked at photos, you’ve gotten some ideas, and you’re inspired to clear out your closet. Hopefully. Maybe you want to track what you own a little more closely. Or create your own looks with things you already own. There’s a great app for this called Stylebook. I bought it ($3.99) last month and I’ve already used it quite a bit. It really does it all. You can create a virtual closet with only your clothing items (you can either save the images from retailers or take photos with your own camera/phone and edit them right on the app). You can put together entire looks, complete with shoes, accessories, and makeup. You can plan your clothing for the week, month, and beyond in their calendar. And it even keeps track of how often you wear items from your closet and the cost per wear! Definitely my favorite feature. There’s lots of style inspiration to be found right on the app and you can even shop right on it. If you’re utilizing it properly it can really be a huge time saver. because the time you sink into using this app is going to come back to you ten fold when you’re not scrambling last minute trying to decide what to wear or suddenly realizing you have an event and you never went to the dry cleaners. It helps you plan so much more than just what tops you want to wear with your new pants. It’ll also help you be more efficient when it comes time to clear out your closet. You’ll be able to see exactly what you did and did not wear in the past six months. And you can save brand and style info because they have a notes section for each and every garment. So write down all those important details like care info and brand, because over time they can wear off or you may remove them. And if you’re wearing something three years after you bought it and it’s still looking like new, then you’re going to want to keep shopping with that brand! So don’t forget where you got the item!

Hopefully this post helped anyone looking to change up their style a bit or scale back. It can be hard to break out of the casual wear rut. And I totally understand it can be frustrating to dress a postpartum figure. You’re a totally different shape and weight, nothing fits right, and if you’re breastfeeding there can be additional issues. I really struggled when my son was breastfeeding. I’m a life long fan of the shift dress and well, you can’t really breast feed in those. I had no idea what to wear in the beginning (fyi, wrap dresses are your friend) and when he finally weaned it was sad, but also a huge relief! I could go back to form fitting clothes, oh happy day! But some people do struggle to shift the weight, and they don’t morph back to their pre-pregnancy shape. Starting fresh can be intimidating. You’ve gone your whole life knowing what works and suddenly it just doesn’t anymore. It’s almost easier to just pull on some stretchy pants and just give up, but don’t. Everyone deserves to look great, especially mums.

Here are just a few real suggestions to get you started if you just had a baby and don’t know where to begin.

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This dress would be great for hiding a bit of a tummy if you still have one. It’ll just look like the dress which is designed to be boxy and swingy. It also has stretch built in so you won’t feel restricted.

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This one would be fantastic for breastfeeding mums because you can just push the top aside. It has an asymmetrical hem so you won’t be tripping over it when chasing older kids. The print will hide a multitude of sins so if you haven’t shifted all the weight it’s no biggie. And it’s a stretchy jersey so you’ll look chic but will feel like you’re still in your yoga pants. It’ll also stick with you as you loose any extra weight.

Now maybe you’re already down to your pre pregnancy weight, or you’ve just accepted it’s never going to happen. There are still lots of easy ways to dress your new body that don’t rely on spandex alone.

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This dress from J Crew is great because it’s more structured than one made of jersey. So it’ll hide any extra you might have and lets be honest, wrap dresses look great on every woman. Whether you’re a shapeless string bean like me or a perfect hourglass like my sister. If you’re super busty just wear a camisole underneath it and you’re good to go!

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This featherweight cashmere sweater is perfect for anyone. If you’re breastfeeding just wear a tank underneath and pull the sweater up. It’s loose fit will drape nicely over any shape and they’re sooooo comfy. You can pair it with jeans on a cool day, and if it’s warmer pick a pair of shorts. Classics like this top never go out of style.

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Speaking of shorts, these are the famous Lilly Pulitzer Callahan shorts. They’re famous because they flatter most everyone and the reason is simple. They’re made of a stiffer cotton and have an inseam of 5″. That makes them not too short, not too long. You generally want shorts to hit you right where you’re thighs are thinnest, and for most women that’s about 5″ down. Any of the prints these come in would look just darling with the sweater I showed above.

Hope you all enjoyed this post and you’re now feeling inspired. Honestly, yoga pants and a tee shirt are easy to pull on in the morning. But you know what takes the same amount of time? Jeans and a cute top. They’re not harder to wash either. A dress is even easier because there’s less guess work. And there are so many different fabrics and styles of clothing out there these days. Don’t limit yourself to seriously boring clothes that probably aren’t doing you any favors. Every woman deserves to leave the house feeling confident in herself and what she’s wearing. So just take a little time for yourself, spend that time thinking about what you want to look like first, then start shopping. I truly believe every body shape can pull off any style be it a classic preppy style, or a trendy edgy one. It’s just a matter of finding the specific pieces and brands that work for your body. And just because you’re a mother does not mean you can’t wear cool, or funky, or beautiful clothing. Just because you became a mum doesn’t not mean that you have to just become some blob who exists solely to serve her husband and kids. So take some time to yourself, you’re important too. :)

Lilly Pulitzer For Target, An Exercise in Madness

So unless you’ve been in a coma for the last few weeks you’ve probably heard Target’s latest designer collaboration was with Lilly Pulitzer. And you’re probably also aware of the madness that followed. The line went live online at 3am and was sold out within minutes. Target themselves purposely slowed parts of the site for some visitors and totally shut down the site for a time. They really didn’t respond to the customers who contacted them on Facebook. The only update coming in the early morning hours basically saying “Good news, we fixed the site and you’re free to shop!” And that would have been great, if they hadn’t known full well that every last item was out of stock. Cue the rage posts. Women around the country (myself included, I was first in line at my local store) lined up well before dawn knowing that they might not get anything if they didn’t go to the stores. After waiting for hours many of us were met with empty racks because people did things like this.

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This my friends is one of the most hated women in America. I’m willing to bet she’s grateful her face isn’t showing. Despite her top, it’s fair to say she’s likely a re-seller. Because amongst the loyal fans of the brand, there were people who showed up with one goal. And that was to clear the racks and list the goods on eBay for triple the regular retail price. Even before the stores opened, those lucky few who got online seem to not have been Lilly fans, but “e(vil)Bayers”. Tens of thousands of items were listed on eBay while the stores were empty. It ended up not being a collection for Target, but a flash sale and a collection for eBay. The outrage is still alive and well but people have mostly calmed down (not that this means this hasn’t hurt Target). Women have formed buy/sell/trade groups, helping other women to get things near cost. I myself sent out six packages this week to women all over the country.

Despite being first in line I ended up with almost nothing. I foolishly thought we’d all act like ladies. I went to get a shopping cart and walked at a reasonable pace- while the women around me who were working in teams pushed, shoved, and ran towards the racks. They were mostly empty seconds later and I made it in time to pick up a few things that were too big, while girls walked past me with their arms full to the brim. It was ridiculous. I got lucky with returns though. Finding two shifts people decided to return (there was a two week window). These are them.

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I bought one in the Upstream print, but they pretty much only had really big sizes left. Everything under a 12 was gone. I was able to sell mine on Facebook and purchase the right size from someone else in the same group.

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I found this one this week in that same group.

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These aren’t all the shift patterns, there are three others but I’ve totally given up on those. It would seem as though Target didn’t make anywhere near as many of those three patterns as they did of these ones shown above. So, some of you might be thinking what’s the big deal about these? Well, a Lilly shift generally runs about $200, but these cost around $40. Yep. Real Lilly Pulitzer shifts, in exclusive prints, designed especially for this collection for just $40. The quality isn’t 100% the same, but it’s almost there. And for the price difference you probably won’t care. This is why so many women lost their minds, and the evil people who prey on these women went out of their way to take these dresses from them. And it wasn’t just these dresses, there were home goods (something Lilly pretty much never does), and other accessories. The embroidered clutches were a hot ticket item and honestly very few ever saw them in stores. Many stores had virtually nothing in stock, while some claimed no stock. With the employees buying everything and the customers never having a shot. There’s one store locally that supposedly has 4 clutches in stock, but a horrifyingly rude sales clerk has insisted they aren’t in store. Despite Brick Seek saying they have them, other employees in the store saying they’re in the system, and other stores confirming this as well. This woman was downright hostile to me (despite the fact I was nothing but polite) and would barely let me finish asking about them when I called and was shouting at me when I showed up at the store anyways. What’s to say, everyone but her says they should be in the store. Clearly she has them. This is what it’s come down to. Employees who apparently don’t care about their jobs. That are hiding things in the stores, waiting for markdowns, so they can purchase and flip these items. It’s out of control. I’m really lucky I was able to buy anything at all.

I was fortunate enough to find some cosmetic and toiletries bags on the first day. I think most people forgot about them and I was first to that display at my local Target so I got to take my pick. I picked up the headbands, turbans, bobby pins, and some nail files. I was also lucky enough to find one of the more rare items. A Weekender in Nosie Posey.

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The Weekender is really big, and the name pretty much says it all. It’ll fit enough for a weekend even if you’re an over-packer. Some people were disappointed in the size. Thinking this could be a carry-on that would replace a backpack or diaper bag. But this is just not going to fit under the seat in front of you on an airplane. It’s overhead compartment only! It’s perfect for me though. My husband recently switched jobs and it could mean that we’ll be forced to do some short term semi-local travel. This bag will hold enough for my son and I during those trips. I was able to score the toiletry and cosmetic bag that match this one, and it’s such a cute set. I still can’t believe I got so lucky.

There were also scarves, flip flops, hats, beach towels and more. I got really lucky with those too. Lilly Pulitzer isn’t as big a deal out here on the West Coast, so returns are still happening in my local stores, especially for these items. I really got into wearing scarves over the past two years so of course I picked up a number of these.

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They even had cases for the iPhone 6 Plus! I have been so disappointed with the lack of case options for this phone. Hardly anything’s been made for it. Even my favorite brand, Casemate, didn’t bother. Releasing a full line for the 6 and all but ignoring the 6 Plus- but not Lilly! They remembered. :) I was able to snag two for regular retail. The Sea Urchin For You print is my favorite.

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I also snagged both flounce dresses. Initially I had the Sea Urchin print in a Large but it was just too big, I got lucky and found returns in a Medium in stores so bought those and it’s a perfect fit. I really love the orange and pink print as well since it features giraffes, I love giraffes. <3

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It might be hard to see them, but my giraffes are there! I just wish I could find the scarf and cell phone case in this print…

Prior to this I had a love hate relationship with this brand. Their dresses are short, and I’m really tall. Add to that they’re such bright colors. Being a Bostonian the inclusion of color in my wardrobe is somewhat foreign. Oh sure some women back East wear these dresses, but for me grey or navy has been about as crazy as I ever got. Only after I moved away did I get more into wearing color. I think had I never lived in Hawaii I might not have branched out. Over there you don’t see a lot of black. The one day I wore all black (I had a cousin die) I felt odd and out of place. But still, I hadn’t bought more than the occasional accessory from the brand, despite perusing their website on occasion. I did visit their boutique on Newbury Street when I went home to shop for a wedding dress a few years back. But oddly they had virtually nothing in stock, so I left empty handed. It’s just as well. I’m glad this was my first real foray into the brand. I’ve met a lot of really nice ladies online and discovered a lot of pieces I really like from the brand (though sadly many of the items are now discontinued). I even went as far to buy a “real” Lilly from their website after being so impressed by the Target collection.

I decided on a “safe” print/color combo that looked longer. After looking at the entire website and every print I likes “In The Vias” the best. I wanted something really casual that I could wear anytime, so I bought the Palmetto V-Neck T-Shirt Dress.

IMG_1730They also had this print in a maxi dress (and I LOVE maxi dresses) but I wasn’t too sure about the metal rings on the straps. This seemed safest for now. It arrived the other day and honestly, I’m in love. It comes to mid thigh on me but I’m used to things being short on my ridiculously long legs. I really see this working well for at least three out of four seasons. It’s probably a bit too bright for winter, but in a different print or solid (they used to have this in Navy) it could totally work year round. It’s 100% cotton, and so soft. It’s kind of slinky actually and has virtually no stretch which is a bit odd. But I guess that’s just because I’m used to how most brands tend to sneak 1-2% spandex in with their cotton. I wore this yesterday and it’s so comfortable. I see myself wearing this as shown during the summer and come fall, I’ll be pairing it with boots, maybe even tights or leggings. I could easily wear an undershirt under this (I wear an undershirt with most things) and a chunky sweater or jacket over it. I saw a girl on another blog wearing a near identical dress (it was a Lilly but a slightly different style) and she had on ballet flats and a fitted puffer vest from J Crew. It looked fabulous, and it’s totally a look I’ll be sporting this fall. As many of you know I believe the wearing of yoga pants as everyday clothes to be a hostile act. But this is just as comfortable, and it’s socially acceptable. So if you’re looking to break out of a lounge wear rut, I recommend this dress.

I was also able to score a few other things. A maxi dress, other scarves, towels, plates, blows, and some other little things. I realize I’m far more lucky than most women, especially since I bought most of these things at cost only paying above retail for two things. I’m also lucky enough that I could just shop the “real” Lilly site only. And honestly, that’s what I plan to do in the future. This is not the first time Target has pulled a stunt like this, and I know it won’t be the last. I’m just not getting sucked in like this again. I think unless they paired with Kate Spade, I won’t be bothering with any future collection. I’ll just visit the designers website and buy direct from them, the way I’ve always done. It’s not worth the stress these collections cause. I’m honestly glad I missed out on the collections they did in the past (living in HI without a Target I was relegated to the online store and since that never works during these sales I never got anything) they really aren’t worth the hysteria. I did love virtually everything in this collaboration and I’m happy with what I bought. But never again.

Putting Together The Pieces

We’re all moved in and mostly settled now. The boxes have been unpacked since almost day three, and we somehow managed to fit in a trip to Disney World with all this going on. We’re back now so it’s time to start thinking about making this place more like a home. One of our couches has been delivered as has one rug, and the desk for the office. We’re still waiting on some other pieces and I haven’t even finished ordering everything we need. For example we have no coffee table or footstools. I’m probably going to go with something dual purpose like this great ottoman from zgallerie.

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I’m thinking I may want to get two since the room is quite large and I do have two full sized couches. Since these are soft and tufted and I will want to be able to use them as coffee tables as well, I’m planning to get some of those great trays from West Elm.

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They sell them in various shapes and sizes, and in all sorts of colors and materials. I’m partial to the rectangular acrylic ones but they certainly have something for everyone. You can even have them monogrammed- and yes, that includes acrylic and mirrored ones! I really love the idea of a footstool as a coffee table, it just seems so practical. They can be extra seating, they’re soft (when my brother was three he cracked his egg on what we thought was a wooden coffee table with blunt edges…), you can move them to where you need them. The trays seem like a great solution to keeping any spilled snacks and drinks contained. These trays can actually go on stands West Elm sells, so they are designed for food. And I love that if I were to have guests I can style one and set it out only when I have to, putting it away after they leave. So you can still have a lovely styled living room that’s easily put away when kids are running through the place! I also love the idea of them on stands for a unique side table.

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The sofas I picked have quite tall arms. A side table looks best when it’s level or near level with the arm of your seating. It’s also more practical. If you can’t reach your table because it’s down too low, how will you safely place anything on it? These stands come in at 31.5″ high, and that’s before the tray is placed on it! So often side tables are short, coming in at around 24″, 27″ if you’re lucky. So I’ll have to think outside the box for mine. I really like the idea of these though, and even better is that they can be folded and put away if you should suddenly need more space. There was also this really cool bar cart I liked from zgallerie.

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This is also quite tall, perfect for entertaining, and you can place it where you need it. The only downside for me is that when I showed the catalog to my son he said “Oooh, car-car!!!”. Yeah, that’s what I was worried about. This kid has a real fixation with wheels. I can just see it now. I’ll buy this, my son will toss everything I’ve placed on it off, he’ll load it up with cars and dolls and use it like a stroller. No way. So while I’m not opposed to this idea, it’d have to come later. My son truly does not care how severely I’d punish him, if it has wheels it’s like he literally can’t stop himself from trying to push it. It’s best to just avoid something so tempting in the first place.

I’m going to be nice now and share a few shots of the house.

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This is the kitchen and you can see the butlers pantry off to the left. The color is Sherwin-Williams Spirited Green should you be wondering. And it truly is Spirited, the space feels so lively and happy. My countertops are quartz (as is the backsplash) which is the new thing. Granite is kind of getting dated looking, and while I did have that option I’m glad I picked the white quartz. There are silver flecks in it so my countertops literally sparkle, I cannot tell you how happy that makes me. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with this space. I love how it looks empty, yet at the same time it feels too sparse. I really don’t want any appliances on the counters, though I do allow the rice cooker to sit out. I’m thinking about trying to put it away when not in use in the cabinet below. I have the toaster there now (that cabinet is totally empty save for the toaster, so there’s space for it) but I don’t know if it’d feel like too much work. We use it a lot, and I’ll keep the rice for a 2-3 days after I make it. So it wouldn’t have much time in the cabinet. The pink bowl is actually heart shaped and I got it a little over a year ago. World Market had them for Valentine’s Day and I bought two. They’re just so practical. With the point they’re great mix and pour bowls for different batters and they hold even straighter bananas well. In fact that’s what’s in there now. My son is a real banana fiend, I always have to have some in the house and I have to ration them otherwise he’d eat them all in a sitting. If you’re wondering what the weird line on the floor is, it’s painters tape. As you can see the kitchen is open concept, so keeping my son away from the gas burner while I’m cooking is a top priority. So aside from using only the back burners, and ensuring the handles are well out reach, I’ve taught my son not to cross the line when I say I’m cooking. Having that visual reminder really seems to work for him.

The glass cabinet feels just like dead space right now. There are things in there, but they’re not easily visible.

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The tea cups and plates on the second shelf, as well as the ceramic egg tray above it are too short. The really pretty vintage inspired bowl on the top shelf is too transparent. Bottom line, the things I’ve picked for this cabinet just aren’t quite right. I think as I add to my cafe au lait bowl collection that shelf will improve. The same goes for my tea cups, I think they’d benefit from being stacked at least. I really should just put that egg crate to use. It fits a dozen. Just write the date on one with a Sharpie and use that one last. I bought this limited edition Cinderella tea set from the Disney Store.

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I think it’ll look great on display in there, so I’ll be adjusting things soon enough. The chicken stays though. Every kitchen needs one.

The butlers pantry is actually something I’m not too displeased by. It still needs work, but things are happening there.

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Yes I know this mostly empty space is thrilling for all of you.

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This is the side that gets the most use. I bought that book from World Market and just placed it there casually, I ended up liking it there so it hasn’t moved. The straw dispenser behind it is from HomeGoods and I absolutely love it. I almost always use a straw so having it right there is very practical since the fridge is right next to this spot. I got tired of fishing around for spoons when making my tea so I bought this cup little cup from Anthropologie. I don’t make tea everyday so I like having an airtight container to hold my sugar. The tray is a Royal Albert tray I picked up for very little on Amazon, just a lucky find. It’s the exact right size to hold what I need and the colors are a perfect match to my cup and sugar box. The space does still feel a bit plain and I know I need to do more with it. But it’s difficult, I almost feel as though the space is too large. For that reason I wonder if perhaps I made a mistake with my tray. A much larger one that could have also held a tea tin or two, maybe a few tea books as well would work better? The there wouldn’t be as much dead space. I could always take the tray over to the sink. I have need of another over there. I realize this is a nice problem to have of course, but it’ll take me longer to sort through these design ideas.

I suspect at some point I may wish to change out the upper doors with glass ones. It’s not something I’d do anytime soon, it’s something I’d do years into the future. But it is something I’ve thought on. I have a great many beautiful tea tins and I collect mugs, I don’t own two of the same. So it might be nice to see my collection. Although once you can see it, it not only has to be neat in there always. The colors and patterns must play nicely with the rooms nearby. I do know what I want for this house, design wise. And I’m not 100% that brightly colored Frozen and Winnie the Pooh mugs factor into that design…

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As you can see, I kind of have things divided. I’m still unsure if I would rather have everything on one side, or keep them this way. I prefer to have such things on dishes, I hate it when soap bottles just sit in a puddle. They always get so gross don’t they?  I like knowing that every so often I can just toss my sponge, put the bottles in the sink for a rinse off, and put what they sit on in the dishwasher. I got that cute little tray from Anthropologie and it’s lived in so many different rooms and held so many different things in the year I’ve owned it. It’s just a really great shape and size, it’s perfect for so much. I’m also thinking through what I want to do about the bottles. I generally don’t like commercial packaging. The Mrs. Meyer’s bottle is actually pretty cute, as is my lotion. But I really dislike the Method bottle. I only have a few of that scent left (it was a seasonal scent and I bought a ton of them last fall). So I need to think now about what I want to do. Invest in a pretty bottle to refill, or just toss it and go back to using just the dish soap when washing my hands in the kitchen. Yes, these are the decisions that keep me up at night. As you can see, I lead a rather tortured life.

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Another big issue I’m having is cords. Every last one in this room bothers me, but this is hands down the worst spot in the entire downstairs. That Echo has a long skinny cord, the Kitchenaid has the usual thick and super long one that does not want to be hidden, and the wax warmer has a switch on it. I sort of wonder why the builder didn’t install the outlets lower, it would have made hiding the plugs so much easier. I’ve been thinking of trying to Pintrest a solution. I saw this one pin where they wrapped the cord with suede cording. It actually looked great and it’s not something I’d mind seeing. Although if I used white it’d actually blend and I might like that better. I also saw something where they wrapped an iPhone charger with pipe cleaners. And I think if nothing else it’d be a great tool for wrapping the cords into smaller bundles. I kept the little twist tie my wax warmer came with and it’s still folded and tied with that. But I feel like a fun pipe cleaner (or a plain one the same color as the cord) could be a better, more effective way to bundle the wire so that I can still access the switch and have it not look like I’ve just tied the thing in a knot. I’ll be sure to post updates if I find something that works. If anyone out there has any suggestions I’m open to them.

In addition to decor, I’m still working on some basics like organization. I have a rather large walk in pantry which is great, but it’s something that can get really out of control if you’re not careful. The Master Closet, Office, Bonus Room, and Craft room are still sitting unfinished as well. The Craft and Bonus rooms can wait, but I really need to do something about that closet. The office has a desk so that’s fine for now, and at this stage I need to prioritize I can’t deal with every room at once. So first up is the pantry. It needs to be functional and everything must be easily accessible. The space is so big I’m using it for food, cleaning and general household supplies, and our bags. So I need to get to Target and HomeGoods and start looking for storage solutions. The entire top shelf is just clutter, I need plastic totes or something to put my seasonal decor in. The bottom shelf is where I toss my pocketbook, and ballet bag, as well as my sons playcare backpack. We need baskets for these things cause it looks really bad having them just tossed on that shelf. Not only that those things don’t always stand up straight and I have things I might want to be sure I take with me when I leave the house. So if I have large enough baskets I’ll be able to toss in my bags, plus things like pre-filled playcare drop off sheets, things I want to return, coupons, etc.

It’ll probably take a while to complete the whole pantry. There are a lot of things I need to do in there. But I’ve taken a “before” photo and I’ll try to remember to take progress shots. The pantry really is big and houses a lot of different things, so I don’t expect this to be a quick project. But I’ll do a post once it’s completed. I won’t be posting my before shot now, I don’t want anyone seeing what a disaster zone it looks like without being able to prove I could turn it around!

Elevé Leotard Photos

I was able to take some photos of my replacement leotards and my newest one this afternoon. The light wasn’t the very best but it was okay. It probably would have been better if I’d just waited to publish the last post until I had the photos. But I almost think it really motivated me to get them up more than anything. Here’s a quick link to that post if you’re coming here by email, https://thekoolchicken.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/my-replacement-eleve-leotards-have-arrived/. I haven’t really changed any of the text, just deleted the parts where I say I’m going to get the photos up.

I’m going away the end of the week, we’re going to Disney World again. My husband is working like crazy and I have class nearly every day. So I honestly don’t think I’ll have time to get anything up before then. I do have some ideas, mainly one about the way I dress my son. Not really craft or dance related but it’s something people comment to me all the time about. I’d really love to share how I shop for him and come up with his outfits. I’ve always felt that people think dressing boys isn’t fun but it’s simply not true! I’m out to show that dressing boys can be fun, and it’s really not that hard to get your little guy looking great! And these will be tips that you could apply to any wardrobe, whether it be for a little girl or an adult!