DIY Valentine’s Decor

Last time I wrote about this I was whining about the general lack of decor for this holiday. I think perhaps I was just being lazy. I’m going to blame mid winter dreariness and being sick on that. I’m better now, and so is my house! Just take a look!

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Yeah, sorry but I had to cover the photos. I don’t share my face or my son’s online.

This is definitely not exactly perfect, but it’s much better than what it looked like before. And there’s certainly room for growth. We’ve only been in this house a year, barely. So rushing into filling it’s a top priority. I want to find the “right” things. We still don’t even have a coffee table and the television console has a missing panel. It did have one, but it was just shattered one morning. We checked the security cameras and don’t know how it happened, probably ghosts. It’s all okay though, I’ll buy those pieces as I find them. I don’t want furniture that’s kind of right, I want to be sure it’s right. Mostly because I’m lazy and once it’s here, it’s here to stay so I need to like it. For smaller decor items I’m okay with making some mistakes. That painting for example will probably be redone. Or maybe I’ll keep it. For those that are interested, I call it “Frustration at 2am”.

My Christmas display was probably the best look I’ve done so far. But Christmas is a holiday that decorates itself. Grab some sparkly bottle brush trees, a few cute animal statuettes and suddenly you’re done. And even more remarkably, it all looks like something straight out of a catalog and you think you’ve become an interior designer overnight. Then you pack those decorations away and you realize it wasn’t you, it was just the materials. When there’s a lot to pick from, it’s easy to make good choices. Now it’s time to really try.

As usual I visited Pintrest to look for inspiration and came away with some ideas. I’ve had this huge hurricane vase for a couple of years and I’ve found it’s kind of perfect for vase filler. I never really understood the whole vase filler concept but I totally get it now. Not only is it an easy way to decorate, but it’s inexpensive and very easy to store. Important to a lot of people who may not have a lot of storage space. It’s also fun to get creative with it. You can buy specialty vase filler, use candy, or even just look for items that fit your theme.

I found this bag of candy on sale at Target, I think it’s about $5 regular price. It’s filled with (horrible for you, yet reasonably tasty) candy inside translucent plastic easter egg type hearts. Perfect Valentine’s vase filler! I was at Daiso and found some leftover Christmas ornaments that were heart shaped. I want to say there were 5-6 to a pack and at $1.50 per pack I didn’t need many. I was just sad there was only one glitter one left. :( I popped off the silver tops and strings and arranged them in the vase how I wanted them. I love how it looks and something I love even more is when the season is over, I can just toss these in a ziplock bag until next year.

 

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There were twenty two in the bag. They had Frozen themed hearts and the other bag had Ninja Turtles.

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Out of the wrappers this is what I had. They split in half like Easter eggs.

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The small hearts are from Daiso, they only had two packs and I’d have preferred three. I found the glittery ones at Dollar Tree. They come on wooden stakes. I saw them being used on other blogs and stopped in to pick some up for myself. I knew I wanted a couple to top off the felt heart trees I planned to make, and I needed a few of the wooden sticks so I cut off the remaining pieces and stuck the hearts in the tiny apothecary jar (HomeGoods, a year or two ago). The crystals are table scatter purchased from Jo-Ann’s last year around this time, you can find them in the wedding aisle. The conversation hearts are just that, conversation hearts. I was worried about bringing those into the house. I know I can use candy as decor but my husband seems incapable of walking past the stuff without “sampling”. Sure enough it wasn’t on the mantle 12 hours before I heard it hitting the floor because I purposely overfilled the jar (I like the look) and my husband tried to open it and eat some. Pantry full of candy I told him he couldn’t have but he bought anyways and he’s still eating my decor. That man will be the death of me…

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This fun little family under the dome is one I made. The dome is a Christmas item from Jo-Ann’s and I grabbed it at 70% off! I hated the look of the wood, it was unfinished and honestly, looked dirty even though it wasn’t. Probably why so many of them didn’t sell. I’ve painted this since I took the photo. A couple of coats of Martha Stewart’s rose gold craft paint and I think it looks fantastic. I found all the pieces to make the little family at Jo-Ann’s (save the red sticks, those were from the Dollar Tree heart things) and it was mere dollars to put the whole thing together. I messed up on the lady’s eyelashes but otherwise I think it’s okay. I’m sure I’ll get better at them in the future. I want to make one for each holiday. I’m really looking forward to making an Easter one. :) I think I may even brach out later on and add in some fabric details. And if I ever get bored with them, this thing cost me maybe $3-$4 to make so I won’t feel bad about tossing it into the recycling bin. Although I could just probably peel off the hot glue and re paint them if I were so inclined.

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The blank boards you see in the first photo (the pink heart and purple rectangle) are actually chalkboards that were still curing at the time I took this photo. I bought the MDF shapes at Jo-Ann’s (of course) and the heart was most expensive at maybe $2.49. I like it because it’s on theme, but I’ll probably be buying more of the funky shaped ones. I bought the Rustoleum clear chalkboard paint after hearing good things about it and decided to try it out. I love the notion that I could have chalkboards in the “right” color for each season. I also love that they’ll take up soooo little space in storage. Seriously, I can just lay them one on top of the other. You really can’t beat that. I know chalkboards are trendy but I love them anyways. I like drawing and growing up my grandmother lived in a condo in what was formerly the old high school in our town, so every unit had huge chalkboards (unless you removed them, and only the crazy people did). I loved drawing on them, it was something my siblings and I could spend hours doing. I found a tiny one at HomeGoods a while back and have really enjoyed coming up with things to draw on it. It usually lives in my butlers pantry and it looks pretty cute if I do say so myself.

One thing I didn’t know though is that you have to “season” chalkboards. I thought that little one I bought was “bad” or that the chalk pencils I bought were. Nope, I just didn’t know because being from a land as old as time (or as old as it gets in America when it comes to such things), all the chalkboards I’ve used in my life were seriously old. Chalkboards have porous surfaces, no matter if you make or buy them. So you have to “season” them before the first use or using them will be difficult and you can even ruin them by leaving a “ghosting” of previously written words. To season one you need to rub the side of a piece of chalk on the surface and then rub it in with a cloth. Then if you like you can wipe down the board with a slightly damp cloth. You’ll never get that perfectly black background back again, but you will fill in the little holes in the surface with chalk so hopefully you won’t leave impressions when you write or draw on the surface. Every time you wash the board you will need to season it again.

The felt heart trees were something my sister helped me with. I used scrapbooking paper and rolled a sheet into a cone and I made a stencil for my sister and she painstakingly traced and cut each and every heart by hand while I was busy painting and putting together everything else on the mantle place. I had four colors and she filled each sheet with hearts before cutting them out, I had just enough to do this one tree with some leftover. So it took quite a few to make this. If I didn’t have her doing this it would have been an extra day or so worth of work so it was nice she helped out. For the stand I just flipped a Pottery Barn stand I had laying around and set the cone on top of it. These really needed to be on some sort of stand, but I didn’t have anything. Sometimes just looking around your own home and seeing if you can’t repurpose something is all you need to do. There’s usually something laying around. Assuming you’re the same sort of pack rat I am. ;)

So there you have it, my Valentine’s display. There are some things I planned to move or change, like the hearts on sticks you see in that candle holder. I planned to make a second tree, and have almost enough hearts cut out. I’ll probably get that done just as the holiday is passing us by at this rate. As always, that’s okay. But for the most part, I think it looks just fine and I’m not really inclined to change anything.

Starbucks Security Lapse

This is a bit of a departure from what I normally write about on here. It’s usually all ballet, sewing, crafting and the like. But the good thing about having a blog is when something serious happens, you can actually share that serious news with others. I’ve mentioned in the past I like Teavana, they’re now owned by Starbucks and this is about a serious problem I encountered on the Starbucks website. I want to start out by saying I don’t think everyone needs to boycott Starbucks or do anything drastic. I’m not that kind of person, you know the sort, the “lets just destroy them cause they pissed me off” type. But what I am saying is this, if you pay by credit card in their stores or on their website, stop now. Paypal and cash are options, use them.

This is a little embarrassing to admit, but I actually noticed there was a problem no less than a week before I took action. But (and yes, I’m going to use my kid as an excuse) I was distracted when I was out and forgot. I was looking at my phone while at Fred Meyer to see if I had a free drink and I saw someone else’s name. I thought perhaps it was a fluke. You know how sometimes you’re on someone else’s wifi and you see something you shouldn’t? We’ve all had that happen. I was in a store, I logged out of the site, logged back  in and saw my name and figured that was the end of it. But it wasn’t… I should have looked closer, but I was paying attention to my kid and forgot to look again at home.

The next week I went to look at my account again because my account had been running low. As some of you may already know I own (and love) the Breville Perfect Tea Maker, and I like making my own fancy beverages. But this winter things have been so out of control I’ve been buying more than I make at home. I really haven’t been putting enough care into anything at all lately. :( But back to my story, I went to reload my account and at the very last second stopped. And it’s lucky for Alyson W. Jackson of Alabama that I did, because I almost used her credit card to do it. Yes, that’s right, I had full access to someone else’s credit card. I could have spent hundreds reloading my card, or bought a number of coffee and gift items. All with her money. And what would she have done about it? Complained she didn’t make the charge? Still would have been too late, and really I could have claimed I never noticed it wasn’t my money I was spending. After all, I was signed into my account. Morally I’d have been doing something wrong, but it’s sort of the virtual equivalent of finding cash on the ground. Fortunately for Alyson and Starbucks I’m the sort who will shout for miles “Has anyone lost any money!!!!”.

It was late and their phones were closed. I knew this was really important and they needed to be alerted to this as soon as possible so I left my account alone and sent off an email. When I still hadn’t heard back from them the next afternoon (around 4pm) I called. The lady I spoke to was very polite and friendly, but also very, very dumb. I hate saying that but sadly it’s true. I had to explain the problem several times and finally when she deleted the card from my account (FTR, I could have done that myself but I left it because I wanted them to see I wasn’t making this up) the woman asked me if I wanted to add another card! I told her under no circumstances would I be doing that as they clearly couldn’t protect their customers credit card information. This woman really couldn’t have been more casual about the whole situation and it was like she dealt with this sort of thing all day. It was very scary. I finally received an email from them at around midnight that night. It told me they thought this was a really serious matter so I should call right away. You can’t make this stuff up.

I had an exchange going with them, it was brief as they eventually just stopped writing back. I told them flat out I was going to put the entire exchange on here. This is completely unedited. And yes, I was a bit snarky. I make no apologies.

 

Received: 2016-01-11 04:12:06
To: <info@starbucks.cust-serv.com>
Subject: Other

Hi,This is about a security issue I’m having. I logged on to do my “Starbucks For Life Game” (BTW, I felt like I wasn’t getting credited properly for the game and I might know why now). And I decided to reload my card. The payment and billing info linked to my account is not mine! It’s someone by the name of Alyson W. Jackson and she lives in Alabama. I have never been there and don’t know her. Obviously I’m not evil, so I didn’t reload my card on her dime. But this needs to be straighten out ASAP! I’m positive that the account I’ve signed into is mine. I signed into my computer and iPad, both times with my email and my password. The result was the same, this is not a fluke. I thought I noticed something amiss on my phone several days ago, but I was out with my son and didn’t really have time to do more than glance. I wish I’d been paying more attention then… Clearly something has gone wrong and our accounts have been merged. Please help me sort this out! I don’t want access to someone else’s credit card!

Hello ———–,

Thank you for contacting Starbucks. I hope you are doing well today. I just finished reading your email and appreciate you taking the time to share your concerns with us.

The situation that you described is very concerning to me as I’m sure it is to you. I would like to help you get this taken care of promptly. In order to best assist you, we would like the opportunity to speak with you over the phone.

Please call our customer contact center and have reference # 21336919 handy to provide to our representative. Our contact center can be reached at 877-309-3180 Monday-Friday 5am-8pm, as well as Saturday-Sunday 6am-4pm (PST).

If you ever have any questions or concerns in the future, please visit us at customerservice.starbucks.com.

Sincerely,

Annice M.
customer service
Hi,

I emailed your company almost 24 hours ago about something very serious. And your response is please call us? For starters I’d have to wait another day to call because your phones are closed, and secondly this is not something that you should be just sitting on your hands waiting to take care of.

Since I clearly take breaches of privacy more seriously than you do, I’ve already called. I called hours ago. The woman I spoke to on the phone had the same casual attitude towards this as you do. She had me give her the info on the account and just deleted the credit card like it was no big deal. Uh, I could have done that as I HAD ACESS to the card just as if it were my own. Then, and this is hilarious, she asked me if I wanted to add another card. I told her absolutely not as it’s clear your site isn’t safe. There was no apology, no “we’ll make sure this never happens again”, no nothing. I’m so glad I’ve never used my credit card on your site, and now that this has happened, I never will.

I’ve already taken the liberty of posting about this on your Facebook page. People need to be warned to delete their credit cards from your site, they aren’t safe on there. Since I know you’ll probably just delete that post I reposted it on my own page and it’s already started to be shared there. Thank goodness.

Best Regards,

———————

Hello —-,

Thank you for getting back in touch with us.

I apologize if you felt us asking you to call meant we did not take your concern seriously.
We take maintaining the security of customer accounts very seriously. Because of the nature of your email, we wanted to make sure we could address it as soon as possible, and get all the information we needed at one time.

I am sorry if this made you feel like your personal information, or that of other customers does not matter. And I do apologize if you felt your concern was not properly addressed by the representative you spoke with earlier.

I want to assure you that I’ve shared your comments with the appropriate teams for their review.

If you ever have any questions or concerns in the future, please visit us at customerservice.starbucks.com.

Sincerely,

LaTosha J
customer service

*Time Out*

I just want to take this opportunity to point out the spot where my name is in the greeting is shortened. Some of you might have picked up on that. That’s where this employee decided they were somehow at liberty to give me a nickname despite the fact I was using my full name in all of my correspondences with them. It’s a little thing but the unprofessionalism just really irks me, especially given the circumstances.

*Time In*

Hi,

No, it had nothing to do with you asking me to call and everything to do with the amount of time it took you to respond to a very serious issue. The response time for the first email was twenty hours. This time it was eighteen. I could understand if I were writing about ingredients, or a problem reloading my card. Please, take your time getting back to me on those questions. Issues regarding credit card safety? That needs to be addressed ASAP. That’s why I emailed. Because it was too late at night to call when I discovered there was indeed a problem, so I emailed assuming you’d get it first thing. Not that you’d get it then sit on the information until it was once again too late for me to call. So I’m glad I took the initiative when it became clear you do not care.

And for the record, this little statement “I am sorry if this made you feel like your personal information, or that of other customers does not matter.” is laughable. Your tone implies I’m overreacting. I’m not. If a customer contacts you and alerts you to a serious security breech you act promptly. You do not sit around twiddling your thumbs, you do not have your reps on the phone act like it’s NIB and happens all the time, you do not basically say “Oh well, sorry you feel that way.” You say, “You know what? You’re right, we screwed up big time and for that we’re genuinely sorry.” You do NOT try to SHIFT BLAME.

This entire exchange will be going on my blog. I really can’t believe you guys. This is horrifying.

—————-

 

Now again, I’m not saying anyone should just give up Starbucks or Teavana. I am saying you should log onto their site if you have an account and delete your credit card if you have one on there. You’ll still be able to reload your account with Paypal or go into any store and do the same with cash. It’d be nice if they’d just stop their nonsense altogether and get with Apple Pay. They don’t want to do that though and now they’re having security issues. I’m not exactly surprised. They want to use their cards. I get it, but it has problems. So please, be safe. Because if you have a problem I can’t imagine Starbucks is going to care at all. It’s going to be you fighting with your credit card company trying to claim you really didn’t go on a shopping spree and them saying but of course you did, no one else was signed into your account.

So please, I never ask this. But if there’s a coffee/tea junkie in your life, pass this post on to them. Make sure your all your friends and family know. Maybe if you’re a credit card only person and you’re too afraid to visit the stores now you might consider buying the little Via packets they sell at Target and the Supermarkets so you don’t even need to visit the chain to enjoy their coffee. The company has said they’re gluten free in the past and I’ve yet to get sick on them, but I encourage you to contact them yourself if you have any concerns as they’re not labeled GF. I still have my account and I’m not planning on deleting it. But I’ll really never use a credit card with them again. Keep that information safe!

See you all next week. Hopefully with a much happier post!

Seasonal Decor

I have no photos. I want there to be photos, but there are no photos. Why are there no photos? It’s due to the lack of decor. I know you’re probably all thinking “Um koolchicken, I saw the title of your post there and I thought we’d get to see some seasonal decor. I’m feeling kinda misled.” Yeah, here’s the thing, I want it, but I can’t find any.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m starting too soon. But I feel like there’s nothing out there for Valentine’s Day decor. All the candy is out in the stores, and there’s “some” decor. But the selection is miniscule. I was at HomeGoods today looking for a toothbrush holder and they had a section for Valentine’s stuff, it was literally three shelves. Christmas, Halloween, even Easter, those holidays take up the majority of the store. At Joann’s they actually have most of the Easter stuff out already! So I say, where’s the love for Valentine’s Day? No pun intended.

I did get lucky at Daiso. I found some Christmas ornaments of all things that were shaped like hearts. They had them in light pink, hot pink, and red. Each pack had maybe five or six in it and there were a range of finishes from high shine to satin (one pack was even glitter!). So I have those in my large hurricane vase. They also had some tiny medium and pale pink puff heart ones so I bought those to fill one of my two small apothecary jars. The other has a mix of big and small conversation hearts. I have a few candle holders up there as well, in varying shades of pink, two are hobnail and one is this round sort of mercury glass looking thing. I still have up one of my Christmas ornaments but my son asked me not to put it away. It’s a pink house with tiny little bottle brush trees in front of it, and everything is covered in iridescent “snow” all of it is housed inside a glass globe. It is an ornament that could go on a tree, but it’s so big I’d never put it on there. It actually lives on a stand I bought from Pottery Barn years ago.

I have a very large canvas that’s still in the shrink wrap sitting up there. It judges me. I need to paint something, but I’m still waiting for inspiration to strike. I gave painting up years ago and never intended to go back to it. Initially I used not having all the colors I needed as my excuse, but I bought them so now I don’t really have one anymore. I need to get on it.

I did, finally, after living here almost a year, get some pictures printed so that’s nice. Actually having pictures in frames to look at has made a huge difference to the space. I do think I have too many up there. But that’s okay. I may take some down, put them in one of my boxes in the pantry. I can rotate them every so often to keep things interesting. And if I can ever get off my butt and get some more pictures printed, it’ll be even better. I do love my acrylic frames if anyone is looking to purchase frames in the near future. They’re just the coolest thing. I have these laser cut frames that come in the neatest shapes, and they sandwich together to hold the print with magnets so it “floats”. Visually they don’t take up much space and let the picture take center stage, but they still make quite the impact. I highly recommend them.

I always see these cool looking vignettes on pintrest and on different blogs and I wonder, where do people find this stuff? I suppose over the course of a lifetime a person acquires a number of interesting objects and I will too. I don’t need to have “everything” all at once. But it would be nice to have an idea of where people are shopping! Or at least how they’re making this stuff. I think I need to do more crafting. I’ve seen some really cool garlands/bunting lately, in store, on Pintrest, and different places online and I need to make some. This is just not something you need to buy, it can be made. I have to start saving more of my sewing scraps I think. They’d be perfect for some of these bunting projects. You really want variety there and it’s an easy way to get it, plus it’s a fun way to remember favorite prints. I have one print I bought recently at Joann’s just because it was 40% off and really cute that has the most lovely coral, teal, and grey tones in it, it’s just very spring. I also have some fabric I bought especially for Valentine’s Day to make some of my own things. I hope to share that at a later date with all of you. It’s actually in the washing machine as I write this. :) I’m very excited to see what happens at the sewing machine. I honestly haven’t a clue but I’m sure it’ll be exciting. Sometimes the ideas don’t come to me until I’m ready to start cutting. I’ll have to be sure to bring my camera to the craft room so I can blog about what I make.

I did make something for my friend this past week. A full on seven layer tulle skirt. I did start taking photos of the process, but it’s a lot of work to make one of those. So at some point I had to stop if it was ever going to get done. I’m going to make a different skirt for her. One that’s black sequins. Perhaps I’ll photograph that one? Or maybe I don’t want to spill all of my secrets? I am trading these for some very expensive hairstyles done in the connivence of my own home… Oh, who am I kidding. I’d do it for her anyways. The fabulous mermaid hair (it’s violet, aqua, and orchid!) is just a bonus. :)

I had my friend out for a few days and yesterday I picked up my sister from the airport and dropped her off. My sister will be here for a week (or more?). I’ve decided not to travel with my husband at the end of the month because it’s just too much for me. I found out we were actually going to Phoenix and not Vegas (where my SIL lives) so I was just like, “um, nope” and my son and I will be staying here. We’ll probably go out to eat just the two of us for fun, but I’m glad I won’t have to fly. Again. And did I mention I have a sinus infection? Yeah, I was sick all the way back the end of October beginning of November and never really got 100% better. I want to say I got 75% better. Then we went to CA and the cousins had something so of course I got it. Well, I did and I didn’t. It just felt like the original illness back with a vengeance. I need to just get back on track. My last ballet class before the holidays I had to leave early from. As I said, I never 100% recovered I just felt so ill I had to duck out. I was so sad. I missed the class after that too because I was still feeling unwell and then we had to leave. I’m still not doing all of my classes, and I actually feel dizzy during and after turns! I’m the freak who never gets dizzy! I’m so excited I’m on antibiotics and I’m going to get better now.

I’m just counting down the days until February. I’m going to be feeling better, I just know it. I’ll probably be back up to strength and able to do all my ballet classes. The house won’t look like so much of a pit. I’m going to do some crafting, some of it promised work for my friend and some of it just for fun. With everything going better I’m sure I’ll be back to writing weekly again. That’ll be good. I don’t like slacking on here. Makes me feel lazy. And I have some clip art I commissioned ages ago that I need to use. I really need to get to work with updating the look of the blog, I’m thinking of a new background. :) 2016 is going to be very exciting I’m sure.

See you next week!

Brand New Year, Same Old Stuff

2015 is coming to a close and it’s none too soon. This year has been a good one for me, but it has been busy! I know I haven’t been writing as much as I would have liked, my goal of one post a week every Monday has been only moderately successful. But I’d like to keep at it over the course of this next year. Hopefully I’ll do better in 2016!

I was lucky enough to go on an impromptu trip this year to California and Mexico and meet family members I had yet to be introduced to. My son even got to meet three of his young cousins so that was a lot of fun for him. But as the days wore on, we were ready to come home. We’ve done a lot of travel this year and of course, we’re still not done. We’re never really done. There will always be places to go, people to see. If I’m not very much mistaken we’re going away again the end of next month as well. It’s difficult to complain though. I get stressed when I travel, but at the same time I do love to see my friends and family and I know they can’t always come to me. In fact it’s very rare that they’re able to. That’s why January is going to be a big month for me as both my very good friend and my sister have back to back trips set to come visit me! It’s kind of crazy too. I’m literally dropping one off at the airport and picking another up the same day. Everyone wants my son to themselves, but that’s fine with me. I do need to get on with getting the guest room and bath in order though!

I’ve been sick since I got back from California. That’s what being in a house with four kids will do to me. If I were a school teacher, I’d be dead by the end of the first week. My immune system hates me, truly. So between the travel, the holiday, and getting sick I’ve been out of ballet almost the entire month of December. I’m scared. The bathroom scale is saying all the right numbers, but I know the truth. Just because a person can shimmy into their leotard, doesn’t mean you didn’t get fat and lazy over break. I might literally die when I go back to class. No Saturday classes for me for a while I guess. I think my heart will thank me when I don’t give it the shock of the lifetime by jumping straight in with a four class week and ending it with an early morning that goes on till after lunch. My goal is starting back on Monday, well see though. I’m still pretty weak.

All in all though it was a good holiday. I got some fun dance gear that I hope to share on here at a later date. I also got to go see The Nutcracker with my husband and son on Christmas Eve. I hope everyone else enjoyed their holiday and was able to spend time doing things they enjoyed with people they love!

My goal is as was stated above, to try and get back on board with my every Monday posting schedule. Wish me luck! I’ll see you then. :)

 

Ballet Warmups, A Review

So far on this blog I’ve talked a lot about leotards, but I’ve never once mentioned warm ups. I do live in a colder climate so I do wear them for at least half the year, sometimes more. When I was in New York I ended up buying a few new things as some of my old items had become shabby. Items I already owned are basics like the Body Wrappers leg warmers most people own.

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These are the ones I have. I have them in both pink and black and both colors fit very differently. They don’t have a ton of stretch, the material is synthetic and not very nice. And I bought the 36″ (if you click the picture it’ll take you to those ones) but they fit me exactly like the 27″ ones fit the model in their promo images. Though I can’t really fault Body Wrappers for that one. If I want them to go over my foot, they’re just not going to go that high up my leg. They do sell even longer ones though, at 48″ so I could get this look. But as this brand is so hit or miss with the stretch I can’t be bothered to try again. For the record, the ones I have now are an exchange. I bought the longer ones but they didn’t stretch enough to go around my very normal sized thighs. So I exchanged them for the shorter ones.

I also own these ones.

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I have them in this color and the pink/purple color way. These came at the recommendation of my instructor in Hawaii. She told me that Wear Moi stuff ran long and right she was. I’m not sure the exact length of these but they are very long. I usually wear them over my feet and while they don’t quite come up as high as in the photo, I’d say they’re close to the second highest stripe. They also have enough stretch that I could pull them up to the widest part of my thigh no problem. They never sag, bunch, slide around, or fall down either. The only two complains I have about them are the lack of hole for my heel, and the stitching for their logo itches something fierce. Now I know that the heel hole will not be a deal breaker for some, but the embroidery? Why must Wear Moi stamp their name on everything? One of the other women in my class has a beautiful wrap sweater from them but it has the same logo stitched on so I’m sure that itches too so I won’t buy it. I usually end up folding that part over, I don’t really care how it looks. Just so long as I’m not itching.

I also have some shorts, but those aren’t even worth sharing photos of. One pair no longer exists and the other, the Natalie warm up shorts warm really well, but are almost more trouble than they’re worth. And they look really bad, I’ve had them less than a year too. :( They’re overly fuzzy, have pilled a bit, stretched out funny, and the list goes on and on. I’ve found washing and drying them in a garment bag helps but I suspect they’ll die soon. Not good as I have wonky hips that should be kept warm.

So I’m going to share some of my new finds and what I like about them so far!

We’ll start with the shorts. These ones are from Capezio.

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These are the Cross Country Romance Shorts and they’re part of a line. There are shrugs (like the one pictured), sweaters, wraps, scarves, and leg warmers. I really want to add the leg warmers and maybe one of the sweaters to my collection. When I saw this amazing rose color I really couldn’t resist it. Usually warm up shorts come in black, black, or black. So these were a treat to find. They don’t even come in black! They come in a sort of purpley navy blue and a dark sage green in addition to this bright rose. All the colors are lovely and they coordinate well enough that you could mix and match if you were so inclined. I personally love these shorts with my Anna leotard with the Bed of Roses back panel. That fabric is still available on Elevé’s website should anyone be interested.

Next up are these ones from Gaynor Minden.

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I actually bought these shorts at the Capezio store and not the Gaynor Minden boutique. I totally forgot about them when I was there and when I was browsing at Capezio looking at shorts I stumbled across them. Sadly they didn’t have them in the black as well, but I’m happy to have the purple. They also come in pink now which I didn’t know about, I’m pretty excited about that. These are great shorts if you prefer something shorter and not too bulky. These are thinner and the Capezio ones are quite a bit longer. The Capezio ones also tend to alternate between bunching and sagging at the crotch (attractive right? Once I’ve started sweating they stick a little and stop doing that but initially it’s not a good look) whereas these ones don’t do that. But I think these ones have a much thicker waistband and I like to wear these Adidas pullovers at the barre (they’re seriously amazing) and they add a lot of bulk around the middle where you might not want it. Especially if you fold the waist band over, the way pretty much everyone in the world will.

Next up are these leg warmers, also from Gaynor Minden.

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I have these in both colors, the black and the purple and I love them both. I was very excited to have leg warmers in a “fun” color and I can only hope now that they’re making the shorts in pink, they’ll make these in that color as well. The only thing is, these say in the description on the website that these will never slip or fall down, and they do manage to do that. But it feels as if that’s by some sort of miracle. These are very loose. If you’re a person who has trouble finding leg warmers because they’re all too tight, then these are the ones for you. There’s just no way these will be too tight on anyone. They’re also incredibly long. These actually fit me as shown in the photo, that’s a first for me. Now granted mine aren’t all bunched and are smoothed out, but I can get them up that high and there’s still a bit of bunching. So these are very, very long. A bonus for me as I like to take that tiny bit of extra and bunch it around my right ankle where I need it. Another upside to these is where the heel cut out is. Have you ever had your leg warmer flip off your foot? Annoying right? These will never in a million years do that, because these are cut so that they cover the majority of your foot. It’s also nice because I tend to get cramps in my right foot especially. So anything to keep that one warm is a good thing. Now full disclosure, I have size 10 feet. In this photo it looks like there is slight bunching of the product on the dancers foot, and that’s fine. She probably doesn’t wear anything smaller than a 7.5. But if you do, that’s something you might need to think about, because the heel on these might actually be cut too far back for you. Although you could fold the foot part in half if you really had to. The fabric is not so thick it would get in your way or interrupt your line. I bought the M/L, I don’t know what the size difference in these is. But it might be something worth contacting the company over before you commit to purchasing these if you have petite feet or have shorter legs and don’t want to have these bunched up on your leg or folded over. I may end up putting mine in the dryer but I’m still on the fence. So far I’ve machine washed and hung them to dry several times and they’re still looking brand new, no fading, pilling, or stretching out funny. I’ve always found Gaynor Minden’s clothing to be top quality and these are no exception. The fabric is very nice, and I’m loving the length. But length is something I have too. So these may not be for everyone.

So there you have it. I didn’t really buy much. Just a few new pieces, but I love them all. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to anyone and I even hope to pick up some of these items in other colors. The coordinating leg warmers from Capezio are top on my list.

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They don’t have that heel hole I love, but I could always add one in if I were so inclined. And the shorts are such nice material so I’m sure these will feel equally lovely. I just wish they had these in stock when I was buying the shorts. When I was there they only had the wrap/blanket thing, shorts, and the shrug pictured with the shorts. All of these are new items this season.

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And the rose version of the Gaynor Minden Bamboo shorts, they really are lovely. Though those will need to take a backseat to a pair of black ones. Because although I joked earlier, very soon I won’t even have a single pair of black shorts. And winter is long…

Given that I did actually purchase a few things with a 20% off coupon I’d been saving for a rainy day. Those items are mostly being saved for Christmas but I got a couple of things early due to heating issues at my studio.

I’d heard some good things about these Sansha leg warmers online so decided to give them a shot.

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These look amazing, and even my instructor said “Wow, you look great!” as soon as she walked in. But there’s just no way around it, these are fashion not function. This photo doesn’t show it but they do have a cutout for the heel, not that it stays on. It kept flipping off. They slid down my legs, bunched, and the material is only so so. They arrived dirty and with loose threads on top of it. For $12.90 I thought they were an awesome deal and wanted to love these as much as everyone else. Especially since I had a 20% off coupon so they were even less. But these just aren’t working out for me. These are just a couple of photos I took to add to my DDS review.

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If you look at the promo images in DDS you can see the elastic threads but they don’t do a great job of advertising it and I think they should cause it’s not the best look. I thought at least it’ll keep them up, but nope. I may just get some of that silicone stuff like for strapless bras and tops at Joann’s and put several drops in there. That will probably help. Same as if I didn’t wear tights, but wearing these sans tights would be very uncomfortable I think. Fixing the stitching is easy enough, but I feel like I shouldn’t have to do it. Regardless what I paid. And I’ll probably put some of that silicone stuff at the foot as well. Despite all the stuff I don’t like about them, they do keep me very warm. The heat has been broken at my studio lately and some days we have none at all. The weather here has been hit or miss, with some days being in the 50’s and others being in the 30’s with snow on the ground. So these were quite toasty. But that was about it.

Given the heating issues I also bought these.

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These I have yet to have to wear. I brought them along last Thursday fully expecting to need them because the heat was out the previous day. But go figure, it was restored. Not only that, it was so warm I ended up doing the whole class en pointe. These feel like you’re walking on clouds though. I have size 10 feet and thought I wouldn’t fit into these but I do. I happened to see them in store and they had a Large on the floor so I tried them on just for kicks. This was back in summer and I obviously didn’t need them then. So when we started having heating trouble I decided to go for it. I can wear them with my flat shoes and with pointe shoes (though that’s a bit of a stretch). They don’t have a real sole so I wouldn’t go wearing them around outside, but indoors is fine. You wouldn’t want a real sole on them anyways because it would get in the way of moving your feet. In these I still have full control of them. It’s a bit more work (never a bad thing) but I could definitely wear them during barre.

So there you have it. All of the new warmups I bought in New York, and a peek at some of my others. I’m really loving most everything I’ve shared here, only the one miss for the most part and if you’re looking for a good last minute gift idea for a dancer in your life many of these would fit the bill nicely. I know most people like to give leotards because leotards are fun, but warmups are practical. Just be sure that if you’re gifting a student their studio allows warm up clothing! Some do not allow such things at the barre. Or they only allow certain items as part of their school uniform. So check with the parents! But for adults or recreational dancers, usually anything goes. Also, for younger students, class time itself is a nice suggestion.

As always I’m not getting paid for any of this and I bought all of these things myself. I love all these pieces (except for the ones from Sansha) and I’m happy to recommend them just based on my own experiences. If there are brands you love please let me know them. I’m always interested in learning about new companies. Especially small companies that are hand making their items.  The larger companies are nice and all, but when I can support a smaller business I like to.

See you next week!

 

Ainsliewear and Mariaa Leotards

This is round two of the leotard reviews from my time in New York. I actually bought both of these at the Capezio store near Times Square. I bought a couple of other warm up items (to be featured in another post) but not a single leotard was actually Capezio brand, go figure.

I got to the store very late, they actually closed while I was there. In all fairness I’d have checked out while they were still open but there was a lady in front of me in line who was arguing about the return policy on tights (yes she had worn them, no they didn’t want to take them back cause gross, they ultimately did it anyways cause they have fantastic customer service). While I was busy touching every last item in the store I came across the clearance rack. They were doing a promo on those items and it was buy one get one free, on top of the clearance price! So I actually got the Mariaa one for free! Makes me feel a little better about it. A lot of you are already aware of this, but for those that aren’t Mariaa is basically a Yumiko knockoff. They have been very overt in copying their designs but since suing over copying a clothing design is almost never successful the line has not only continued since it’s initial debut, it’s expanded.

This store had a great selection and was just overall lovely. It’s also huge by New York standards. This isn’t the best photo but it’ll give you an idea.

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That whole display off to the right hand side, those are all Ainsliewear leotards. That particular brand used to be a bit harder to find but now I feel like I’m seeing it everywhere. They’re the official uniform of Canada’s National Ballet School, and yes, they’re a Canadian brand. So far I’ve seen this brand at one of my local dance shops here in Washington, at Discount Dance in California, Grishko in NYC, and this store. So they’re definitely catching on here in the States. They’re very nicely made. Not overly fussy but they still have some nice design details. Here’s the one I ended up with.

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Now I definitely feel a bit exposed in this one. The entire back save for that tiny bit that covers my bum, is mesh. The sides are the same, and dare I say, it’s a bit risqué. I always wear a bra with this one even though there’s no way to ever hide it just because I feel so exposed. I still like it though. I didn’t own a purple leotard previously, so I was excited about the color. I definitely won’t have to worry about over heating in this one, so there’s that too, lol. One thing I don’t like is the seam that runs down the center back. None of my other leotards have that so I’m not used to it and I find it annoying.

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It has a simple bust liner. It doesn’t offer any support, and it’s dark enough that it doesn’t really need it but it’s nice that they added it in.

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I had to cut the tag out. It was huge and well, inconveniently located. It had to go. You can see that center back seam I hate so much. The mesh is not tacked or anything to allow freedom of movement. I have no complaints about it. Despite the seam and the exposure I really like this one and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy from the brand again. This one was plenty long enough, so it’s fine if you have a longer torso.

Next up is my Mariaa leotard.

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The legs really are that high cut and I’m not a fan. I don’t need a high cut leg and I hate the way it looks on me personally. But if you’re someone who likes that, this is a brand to consider. This is also a brand that I feel runs a bit shorter. It’s long enough to work, but I wish it was longer. As you all know I’m not a fan of cut out backs. I avoid them whenever possible, especially when they come down this low. Again, I just don’t like it. I feel very exposed. The Mariaa leotards, like the Yumiko ones are heavy on the cutouts. That’s not to say you can’t find one without a cutout, but they’re few and far between.

As this one was free I’m a little less picky about it. I was lucky in that they just happened to have two leotards in colors I wanted in my size. They really didn’t have many leotards on the clearance rack, it was mostly Betsy Johnson stuff. So I was very lucky. I actually wore this one today and it was fine. It didn’t twist, shift, bunch, pinch, ride up, or do anything weird. By the time I got home I was happy to take it off, but it was just fine during class and for quite some time afterwards.

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Finally I’ve managed to capture a color accurately! Yes, it really is this electric. It almost glows, and it’s shiny. :) This shelf bra actually does something, but only because this leotard is actually rather snug. Partly it’s the cut, and partly it’s the fabric. The fabric is just not the same as Yumiko’s. It’s thicker and the more basic sort of stuff you’d encounter at the fabric store. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, especially if you don’t want to wear a bra. I’ve cut that tag out as well, this one kind of sticks to you. I just cut them all out, saves a lot of hassle cause I’ll probably hate them all.

So there you have it. These are all the leotards I bought while in New York. I did buy a few other things while I was there, warmups and the pointe shoes I’d mentioned previously. I’m not sure when I’ll get those posts up but I’m trying. I do have to go away again, as usual. Then we have the holidays so I make no promises. I also have the photos taken for an Elevé review that’s seriously overdue. I bought and received those leotards in summer. You can’t even get some of the fabrics anymore it’s been so long. But I still think the review will be worthwhile given the solids are always worth a look at and the lace comes in and out of stock and it’s good to know if you want it or not so you can order it as soon as it becomes available because it does tend to go quick. So there’s lots to come. It’s just a matter of when I’ll be able to get it up.

See you next week (I hope)!

My Visit To Yumiko in NYC

Two weeks ago I said my husband surprised me with a trip to NYC for my birthday. We were already on the East Coast and he decided it would be easy to drive into the city and spend a couple of days there. So as a treat that’s what we did. I had the opportunity to get fitted for pointe shoes at both Gaynor Minden and Grishko (more to come on that in a future post) and the following day I was able to visit the Yumiko boutique. I’ve been there before and it was just as fun. I know in the past I’ve said I really prefer Elevé leotards to Yumiko’s and that’s still true, but when an opportunity like this comes up you take it.

Now the first thing you’ll find is that you need to ring a doorbell when you get there. It’s not in the safest of neighborhoods. My husband decided to take my son to the park directly across the street to play while I shopped. My husband is from the burbs and didn’t notice anything amiss, fortunately my mother and sister are city dwellers. Naturally they noticed pretty quickly that the nearby public restroom was actually a crack den. So try not to visit after dark and maybe don’t go by yourself. If you’re in the store you’re okay though, you’ll be locked in.

The store itself is tiny and chic. The leotards they have on offer are basically what you see on the website. They generally have two of each style in two different color ways. One will be an exact match to what you see on the website. For example, on the site you’ll see the Becky in Cassi, Brule, and Chilli. That exact model was available in store. They also had it in another color way I can’t recall (I really liked the purple and orange as I’ve been thinking of doing one like that for some time now). The sizes for each varied, some were only in small, others were in a medium, and they actually had a fair number of larges to pick from. They also had a number of the dip dyed pieces on hand. I tried on a really beautiful Wendy that was in a stunning blue but despite being labeled a large it felt like a medium- it was also well over $200 and that’s just crazy money. I did not feel bad putting that one back. I can fit into a large, despite preferring the x-large. So I did buy two. Here they are.

First up is the Heather.

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Yeah, had to do that to a few photos. I’m horrible at selfies. Not that this is supposed to be a picture of me anyways, it’s supposed to show the clothes.

I like this one. I tried this one on on a lark. I usually avoid spaghetti straps because of the shoulder thing but I think they actually look okay. I usually wear a crazy colored sports bra under this. As you can see from the very last photo, the white tag (by the little tag on the outside) is visible underneath. So this one like so many other Yumiko’s is semi sheer. This blue wasn’t that bad though. There were many (and I mean many) that I picked up and instantly put back because I could see thorough the fabric on the hanger. I don’t know who they’re selling some of these sheer pastel colors to. But they have a no exchange, or refund policy so I sort of think they’re just hoping people look at them and think “oooh pretty” and just walk out without trying them on knowing they can’t bring them back. The fabric is beautiful, honestly no other company is using anything like this. Their spandex is different. But it clearly has a trade off. I decided not to wear a bra or tights for these photos to show that you don’t need to. It is opaque enough for that (it has a shelf liner, all in store leos come with them). But I prefer to wear both to class. And when I wear a funky bra, usually something neon, it’s not so sheer with the bust panel that it looks odd. You really can’t see it from the front and I don’t care if you can see it from the back.

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This is the interior. I really like how they’re using FOE on the bust panel. It lays flat, is comfortable, and doesn’t bunch or shift. This one did not have a crotch liner, I did not notice one on any of the other models I tried on and I must have tried on seven or eight styles.

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As you can see the back straps are free floating, they’re not sewn down so it’s more comfortable. This fabric looks crumpled because I had washed it (I’ve already worn it) and I took the photos then kind of left them on the floor in a ball while I did stuff with my son before taking these photos. I know its weird that a leotard is holding wrinkles, but it’s just part of the nature of this fabric. It’s strange and silky.

I had a very difficult time taking color accurate photos. Both for this leotard and the next one. The colors of this one are Turchese/N and White/N. The blue is downright electric, not for the faint of heart. the other color they had available in the store was a yellow called Sun, a very accurate name. You can see it on their website here.

This one is one I’ve wanted for quite some time. It’s the Marieke but it’s sleeveless. I have one with sleeves but I regret getting sleeves on that one and have debated getting a sleeveless one for some time. Well, when I was in there store I made it a point to try on one of these and fell in love.

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Now there’s just one little problem, and you may or may not be able to spot it. The bust panel. It fits very differently than the one in the Heather. You see now that I’ve worn this one a couple of times I’ve noticed it, but I wish I spotted the problem in the store, before I shelled out nearly $100.

As you may have noticed, I, in all my rectangular glory, am not particularly well endowed. I am not wearing a bra at all in these photos, I am a B cup at best. Yet, the bottom of the bust panel rides up and cuts across my boobs in a very visible way. I had just put this on so perhaps it hadn’t had a chance to rise up yet, but it’s too short on this one. I have to call it a defect because obviously I’m flat as the day is long. Not super flat of course, but I’m hardly popping out of my top- ever. When people complain about empire waisted tops and say who are those made for cause they cut across the boobs most every woman. Yeah, they’re made for me.

So I’m probably going to be forced to cut it out and that stinks. But I don’t really have a choice. I’m sick of having to mess with my boobs during class. It’s not a good look.

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The color of this one is also off. The pink feels pretty spot on, but I feel like this is coming across very blue when in reality is has a much cooler slate grey thing happening. Imagine a slate blue grey color, that’s the actual color. I tried moving these to different rooms to access different light sources, but they refused to be photographed accurately. Not sure why. I know some colors are just difficult to capture, but I wasn’t aware blue was one of them. Maybe it just is for me.

The colors for this style are, Paros/T Mauve/T

When you buy in store you are limited with your sizes, they do not carry x-large which is a shame. I really prefer it for the length. I can make do with these, though I’m obviously much more comfortable in a longer length given that I’m so tall. Here’s both of my Marieke leotards so you can see the difference.

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As you can see, there’s really no difference in width at all, it’s all length. I’d say it measures almost two inches, so it’s significant. In the future I may wish to simply buy online. But there is a savings if you buy in store. For me it worked out to be about $22, and that’s just what I saved on shipping. When you buy in store you’re not charged any sales tax or shipping, it’s just what you see on the tag. So my leotards were $71 and $72, that’s the base price for each plus the $10 upcharge for the bust panels. Then add to that the time you save. If you like the colors you see in the store, why not just buy what you see? It’ll be a 6-8 week wait just for production, then it has to be shipped- from Spain. All Christmas orders had to be in by October 1st and that date has long since passed. So the convenience factor is not to be overlooked.

When I bought mine I was given a reusable bag, it was quite cute.

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The only dance shop that didn’t seem to do this was Capezio. No worries. I really liked this one though. It’s such a good size.

And here’s an updated shot of their color chart.

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Full disclosure, the colors on this are a bit off. I was indoors and the overhead lights were competing with the outside natural light but I did my best. Please use this as a guide, don’t assume anything you order will be perfectly identical to the swatches in this booklet though. Also, this booklet is not going to be valid for much longer anyways. I was told by the shopgirl that they’re coming out with new colors in the Spring. Though she did not state whether or not the whole line would be overhauled, more colors would be added, some would be removed, or what exactly would be happening. Just that the line up is changing. So if there is a special color you feel you can’t live without, you need to consider ordering in the next few months, because it may not be around much longer.

As always I do hope this is able to help those looking to purchase one of these. Designer leotards are definitely a vice of mine. This week is Thanksgiving here in the US and the day after we have what’s known as Black Friday, a big shopping holiday. I can’t remember but I think last year Yumiko did something for it I can’t remember though. Be sure to check their Facebook page as that’s where they tend to announce such sales. Elevé always does something for either Black Friday or Cyber Monday, last year I think it was 15% off. They announce sales on their Facebook page first usually and if you’re signed up for emails you’ll get them that way as well. So if you were thinking about getting something it might make more sense to wait until the end of the week to see what deals may be offered first as these are expensive. Just be aware that neither brand will be able to deliver in time for Christmas.

I don’t plan to partake in the sales this year. But if any of you do please feel free to share in the comments section!

See you all next week!

Much To Come

Sorry all, there won’t be much of a post this week. I just got back from my trip the day before yesterday and I’m still very disorganized. I’m the sort of weirdo who can’t let anyone else do their laundry because they’ll do it “wrong”, so I totally suffer for it. I’m currently staring at a pile that dwarfs myself. I’m scared. Laundry nightmares aside there’s a lot of good happening. My hair is currently a shade I’m calling “blurple” and my husband suprised me with a couple days in New York on my birthday so I was able to get fitted for pointe shoes (again). The pointe shoe drama is real people. I’ve been burning through a pair per class and at $75 a pair that’s starting to hurt. I visited (in no particular order) Gaynor Minden, Grishko, Capezio, Yumiko, and Sansha. I bought quite a bit and I’ll be sharing all of it with you just as soon as I can. I’m trying to ease back into my schedule, class is tomorrow and the next day, hopefully I’ll have time Wednesday or Friday to take some photos? I really don’t know though. I’m still just a smidge under the weather. I don’t know if any of you remember, ages ago when I did my pajama pant tutorial I mentioned I was writing it from bed because I was sick? Yeah, it’s like the world’s most hearty virus. It’s held fast and resisted everything I’ve thrown at it. I’m feeling a lot better, well enough to go to class and I no longer think I’ll infect those around me. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve been contagious for some time, I think I’m just still somewhat congested for no real reason at all. Despite that, I’m trying to get more rest, just in case. So while I don’t want to outright promise a new post next Monday, I do want to say the next one I put up will be seriously awesome for my ballet readers. :)

Fingers crossed for next week!

Koolchicken’s Fall Fashion Favorites

Today is my birthday so in honor of that today’s post is just about fun things that I’m loving this fall.

First up is this amazing dress from Anthropologie.

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I’m definitely in-between sizes on this one. The Medium was too snug and the Large is quite roomy. I don’t care though. This dress is so comfortable it’s worth the alterations. Add to that I never thought I’d be able to find an off the rack dress with long sleeves that fit. Usually they’re way too short. So hat’s off to Maeve my favorite Anthropologie designer, you’ve done it again! I wore this today with black tights, thick burgundy over the knee socks scrunched down to just below the knee, my favorite brown riding boots, and a thick plaid scarf.

Next up are Grace and Lace’s Alpine Thigh High Boot Socks

wineedit__29634.1385514667.1280.1280I bought these in their “Wine” color way and though I have yet to wear them out, I’m in love. These are seriously thick, and even on me they do come over the knee! I almost worry about them fitting into my boots they’re so thick, but I’ll figure it out. I suspect they’re going to be well worth it. When I bought these I used a 10% off promo code they had sent me and they were running a promo for a free gift with every order. I was over the moon when I saw they sent me a pair of their leg warmers for free! And in purple no less! I love wearing leg warmers and I’m in them from fall until spring since I wear dresses most days. They’re just a really nice extra layer to wear over my tights and under (and sticking up from) my boots. I’d have never bought the color ordinarily, but now that I have it I can’t wait to wear them.

This is the plaid scarf I mentioned above.

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This is the Preppy Plaid Wrap from Francesca’s. I’ve been in the store a few times but had never bought anything, until I saw this scarf. I honestly don’t know why it looks so thin in these photos, it’s very substantial in person. I like to wear it folded in half lengthwise and wrapped around my neck. It’s a super cute way to embrace the plaid trend that’s happening now (clearly my prayers for plaid everywhere have been answered). And I love how the colors will work fantastic come Christmas!

This is a dress I’ve shown you all before, it’s my absolute favorite.

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I steadfastly maintain it’s one of the best things to have ever happened to me, at least fashion wise. This dress is thick, warm, beautifully made, the detail is amazing, and did I mention it’s comfortable? You really can’t beat that. Tragically this is gone now, but it’s called the Needlepoint Garden Dress and should you ever stumble across one in a thrift shop or on eBay buy it without hesitation. May mine live forever.

And what do you top all of this off with you might ask? I present to you, the infamous Lady Day Coat from J. Crew.

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I own it in the Navy shown, but a word of warning. To say that obtaining this coat was an odyssey would be putting it mildly. At one point I had about seven of them laying in my dining room and not one of them fit. I don’t know if they’ve sorted out their quality control issues, but it was a massive headache at the time. Discovering that their size 10 was actually smaller than a size 8 was not funny. And the Tall and Regular tags clearly meant nothing. I finally was forced to call customer service and the woman I talked to was very helpful. She ended up sending me a label to return them all for free, and then had someone go to the warehouse and measure every last coat until they found one that fit my exact measurements. I cannot tell you what size I ended up with because by the end I did not care, their labels hold as much weight as a tiny piece of toilet paper. I can tell you that my coat fits me like a glove. But I can’t see myself investing in any of their other amazing/beautiful/plentiful/drool worthy colors (ugh, Retro Pink, I think I’m in love…) due to the stress of ordering my current coat. I do have a lot of people approach me and ask about it though. So if you’re looking for something very warm, with classic styling, that won’t make you look heavy, this is the coat for you and it may well be worth the hassle.

And since I’m not a fan of strolling around town barefoot, I present to you the best boots I’ve ever encountered.

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Tragically these have been discontinued. But, if you have very tiny feet you can still snap them up for a pittance! I looked all over for something very basic, that had a low heel, and I could wear with everything. I found these by chance and I’m so glad I bought them. I’ve actually had them re-soled already since I’m very hard on my shoes but it was worth it. I looked on eBay for more in my size but with no luck. These work with dresses, skinny jeans, you name it. They’re just the all around perfect leather boots and I truly hope the brand comes out with more similar styles in the future.

So there you have it. A small list of things I’m really loving this fall. Everything is comfortable, yet stylish, and easy to move in. Important since I do have an almost three year old running around! My husband is forever calling my wardrobe “impractical” for a mother but I disagree. One need not wear noting but yoga pants and sweatshirts to be considered practical. Beautiful clothes make me happy. And yes, I may fret about something getting ruined, but it’s only because I truly love everything in my closet. If I didn’t care about the things I wore, and was fine with them being treated like a dish rag I think that would make me far more unhappy than the momentary frustration of having to explain to my son I’m in silk so he needs to go wash his hands. And while I do own many items that are dry clean only everything pictured here is machine washable! Well, besides the boots and the coat obviously of course. Bonus points top dress, with it’s fun texture and interesting keyhole detailing in the back is actually stretchy! So I looked nice today, but I still felt like I was in pajamas. Score! :D

A quick note, just so everyone is aware especially if you’re new. While none of these photos belong to me, you can click on any of them and they’ll lead you straight to the’s item page on the retailers website. And as always, I bought everything you see here myself. Nothing was gifted or traded for a review. These are all things I’m just very happy with and wanted to share with all of you!

See you next week!

Amy Butler Wide Leg Lounge Pants, Sewing The Pants

I’d like to start off by apologizing. I’m sick right now so while I am striving to be as coherent as possible, I may slip up and not catch it. I would put this off but I’m running out of time. We’re going on vacation again soon, so I need this up. Also, this is just such a quick and easy pattern once you’ve made the pieces whipping up a pair of these is going to take you maybe an hour (especially if you decide to omit the drawstring and go with an elastic waistband!). I’ve made two pairs so far and need to make a third. I’ll probably do that when I get home, but for now my two pairs will suffice! Okay, lets get started!

Last week we left off with drafting our pattern pieces and cutting out the fabric. As I showed you all I serged the edges of my pieces so you’re going to see that in this tutorial. This is a completely optional step but if you have a serger I highly recommend doing this. It makes the pieces a dream to work with and I swear you end up saving so much time. If you do not have a serger no worries, when you’re finished sewing your seams simply go over them with a zig zag stitch making sure you catch the fabric on one side, and that the thread goes over the edge on the other half of the zig zag. You could also use pinking shears.

The first step is going to be putting together one leg. Lay one front piece over one back piece making sure right sides are together. See the pretty design? Yeah, that’s going to go inside and you’re going to sew on the dull/wrong side so you’re working inside out. You’re going to sew the outside of the leg together first (that’s the side I’m pointing to).

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Be sure to press your seams. The book says to iron them towards the back panel (that’s the part with the deeper curve). I personally didn’t like that. I sewed these according to the instructions this time, but with my second pair I ironed them open. It makes fitting the drawstring or elastic a little more fiddly, but it’s not a big deal. Do what works for you, just be sure you do press them. It’s very important for making a professionally finished garment. Having twisted seam allowances in store bought clothes is a major pet peeve of mine. So don’t let it happen in something you’re making yourself! Do better than the stores!

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The next step will be to line up the inside portion of the legs (that’s the side with the curved part) and sew those together. Do this for both legs. It’ll look a little silly on you’re sewing table to have two legs just sitting there for a bit, but this next part is like magic I swear.

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Now this is the part where a lot of beginner sewists get confused. “How do I put these two legs together” they ask. Well, get ready for this. If you’ve sewn before you know you almost always sew right sides together. But to get the pant legs together, with the seam on the inside, you have to turn them right side out! And this is going to feel very tricky and maybe even a little overwhelming, but I promise you, it’s not that hard. And bonus, I’m going to show you pictures of what you should be doing. They always include diagrams for every other part of a pattern but I swear there are none for this part ever. I think that’s what makes it so hard.

Start simple, get your pant legs and lay them like this, right side out. This way you’ll easily see the “front” part of the pants and the “back”.

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See what I’ve done here? I’m going to lay them together making sure the curved seam lines up. Then I’m going to take it to my machine and sew them together. Now some of you may have noticed I haven’t mentioned anything about pins. Well, that’s because I don’t usually use them. If you’re an advanced sewist you may not need them. If you’re just starting out or are an intermediate sewer then I think you should use them, especially for this part. If you’ve serged your edges then I think it’s much easier to forgo pins. Especially for quilting cottons (which is what I’m using) or flannels. They’re stiff and don’t slide. But if you do need them do not feel bad, pin the heck out of that seam. It’s better to have to do the stop and go thing at the machine a million times to remove the pins (try not to hit them, it’s bad for the machine and you can break your needle).

Now, move this over to the machine and sew that seam! The pattern instructions suggest going over the crotch seam twice to account for extra wear and tear on this spot and I highly encourage that. Do your first seam then go back the the very center of the pants and sew a second line from about halfway down the front to halfway down the back.

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Okay, so here you have it! You’re pants are starting to be pants. You could even try them on now just to get a feel for them. Be aware though, they have no waist band yet and they’re a very wide loose fit so they’re just going to fall off of you. But they are officially pants now!

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The next step is putting in the button holes for the drawstring. Don’t worry, button holes are not that hard just be sure to practice on a scrap piece first if you’re not sure. Even I did that prior to putting them in these pants and buttonholes are one of my special skills. Doing dry runs on scrap fabric is always a good idea. Now, to do the buttonholes you’re going to want to use interfacing. You can find it at pretty much any sewing store, I actually invested in a bolt of it because I use it a lot. It’s just going to help stabilize the fabric so that over time the buttonholes don’t stretch out of shape or warp. The instructions say to cut a 2″x 2″ square.

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Your next step is to iron it to your pants. I think about two inches down but I don’t have the book in front of me so please consult your instructions. You’re going to do this on the front side of your pants. The front side is the side with the shorter curve at the crotch. So look for that, measure from the top of the waistband, and iron it down. Be sure the bumpy side is touching the fabric and the soft side is facing you! Otherwise you’ll be scraping glue off your iron for a very, very long time…

As you can see I ironed my crotch seams open.

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The next step is going to be sewing in your button holes. I forget how far down they’re supposed to be, again I don’t have my book with me and I feel too unwell to get up and get it. So please, consult your instructions.

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Once you’ve added your buttonholes, cut them open with your seam ripper. This part is a lot of fun. :)

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Next you need to actually make your waistband. So start by ironing down the top quarter inch. Then you’re going to iron down the next 1 3/4″. This hides that ugly raw (or serged) edge. and makes for a beautiful finished waistband.

A quick tip! If you have trouble iorning down such a small edge, I recommend sewing a quarter inch seam. The you can just fold along that line as you follow behind that hand with your iron!

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Now that you’ve ironed this down the whole way, you’re going to want to sew the waistband down. Be sure you catch that folded under edge!

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The next step is up to you. You can either make the drawstring or you can hem the pants. I personally think making the drawstring is the right next step. That way you can put the pants on properly and mark where you want to hem them. I don’t show the hemming of my pants, nor will I show adding the decorative border as shown in the book. I did hem them (obviously) but I did not add the border. I wanted to keep this tutorial as simple as possible. Also, there are many, many ways to add a border if you so desire. And one of the most popular ways to make these pants, is to use vintage sheets that have a decorative border to begin with so you don’t have to hem at all. Just be sure if you’re doing that that you account for it in your pattern! I made these with an allowance for a hem. If you’re using a border you don’t want to lose, make the pants the exact right length for you from the beginning. Also, the book recommends using fabric for the border, but it’s just as easy to add ribbon or another type of trim such as lace. Just sew it down over the top of your hem seam!

Here’s how to make the drawstring. First cut a strip of fabric that’s 60″. If you plan to use leftovers from your pants don’t toss them until you’ve taken that strip! You can also use ribbon if you like. I may do that on a future pair but decided to do things “right” for this first pair as much as possible.

Please enjoy the image of my crumpled nearly finished pants underneath my table…

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You’re going to need to iron the strip in half lengthwise. Then, once you have that center seam, you need to fold in each half and iron it down to “sandwich” the edges.

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I don’t know if you can tell, but you see how I did that here? You also need to fold the edges in. I did not serge this piece because 1. It’s never going to unravel, and 2. It would be too bulky. Now fold that so it’s one long skinny strip and topstitch as close to the edge as you can get.

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Grab a safety pin and feed that drawstring through the button holes and voila, you’re pants are finished! As you can see this was really very simple and anyone could pull off these pants in an afternoon.

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I love these pants because they’re so comfortable. My husband hates them and calls them clown pants. They are seriously wide and in the future I may make them in a small. Remember, these are the same measurements the whole way down. So the legs are going to be seriously wide. But honestly, it’s what makes them so crazy comfortable. And there are so many ways to personalize them. Use a ribbon instead of making a drawstring. Use different types of fabric, try flannel, fleece, or satin! Heck, if you make the bottoms of these elastic and made the legs out of something shimmery you could have Princess Jasmine pants! This pattern is really perfect for that to be honest. You can add ribbon, or lace as mentioned above to make the decorative border at the bottom hem. You could also create a cuff. Embroider a monogram on the hip, or add an elastic waistband. This is just one of those really simple projects that is easy to do and once you do it you’ll be able to churn out multiple pairs quite quickly. In a weekend you could make several pairs of these. So should you be looking for a handmade Christmas gift for your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews, whatever, these are perfect. To make them for children you could scan the pattern pieces and scale them down, or simply hand draw them, they’re really not that complicated.

Overall I really liked these pants and I’m happy with them. I’m actually wearing this exact pair I’m showing you right now! I’m sick and they’re so comfortable. So don’t listen to the nay sayers who say they’re too baggy and wide. They’re called lounge pants, not going out pants! No need to dress it up if you’re literally in bed, just be comfortable. And these really, truly, are. I don’t see myself ever using another pajama pant pattern.

I really hope this tutorial/walkthrough of the pattern and drafting process was a help to those feeling intimidated or overwhelmed. As you can see it wasn’t hard. I really like Amy Butler patterns and although I’m not much of a pattern user, I enjoy hers. I do want to offer a word of warning should you be interested in her other clothing patterns. Amy Butler is a tall thin woman who designs clothing for tall thin women. If you do not fit this mold you’ll likely have to do a lot of alterations. If however you do look like that, then congratulations, you’ve finally found a line of patterns that will fit you!

I’m headed out to Boston soon, and will actually be there at the time of this going live. I wanted to have a few posts lined up but sadly I do not. I’ll try to work on that this weekend but as I’m sick I don’t know if it’ll happen. So I might be on a little break. But I’ll be back soon enough with more fun stories to tell and stuff to show you!