Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Father's Day

When it comes to making cards for men, it can seem like all you do is repeat the same style & theme constantly.  This is particularly true for my woodsmen father-in-law, I think nearly every card &/or gift in 10 years has been wood or tool themed.  I was desperate to do something new when my husband reminded me that his family sailed a lot when he was a kid and those outings formed the man (& sailor) he is today.  Then I was scrolling through my Cameo (.svg) files for something else & came across "You are my Anchor" design by Carta Bella so it seemed fitting to become the focus of this years father's day card.  I printed out the design on canvas before cutting it out on my cameo.  For the background I painted waves on a lt blue background & spread translucent texture paste through a dot fade stencil to create a sea look.  Then I used some (Carta Bella) paper scraps I had on my desk to make triangles & sewed them into a circle.

**Entered @ Simon Says Stamp Wednesday "For A Guy" Challenge

My husband's card I left up to my (elder) children's design; my elder daughter wanted blue & hearts & my son wanted metallic gears. So for the background I embossed Silhouette Gold Foil in a Tim Holtz gear folder & then aged it with Archival Ink.  The central heart is made of metal gears painted in picket fence & embossed with Rusty Hinge Distress Powder.  The sentiment photographed darker then it really it is - simply stamped on manila scraps (that was colored with London Blue Dylusions & Vintage Photo Distress Stain).

Making Father's Day cards led me to thinking about my late maternal Grandpa & consequentially my Grandma.  And of course one doesn't really ever need a reason to send a card, so I thought a little surprise mail would make her day.  The background is embossed in a Craftwell herringbone folder & lightly splattered with Antique Gold Distress Paint.  The cute hot air balloon is from Simon Says Stamp "Darling Friends" collection, colored with Cracked Pistachio/ Abandoned Coral/ Faded Jeans/ Vintage Photo/ Hickory Smoke Distress Markers then covered in a thin layer of Stickles & mounted on an Action Wobble Spring.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

This one's for the boy...

Sometimes I think boys can be shorted when it comes to crafting because girl stuff is generally easier & (at least my eldest) girls tend to request things to be made much more frequently.  But you know even if they don't say so, boys like to have things 'just for them' too!

When we redid my son's awhile ago I in his desired robot theme I made him a canvas to match.

The entire canvas was covered with Shabby Shutters & Peeled Paint distress paint blended together with a barely wet paint brush.  Once that was dry I used Mowed Lawn & Forest Moss distress stain through gear stencils (cut from my Cameo) and for more depth I used Brushed Pewter distress paint with a dry sponge for a softer look & Broken China mixed into texture paste.  After those were dry I miked Spiced Marmalade into clear translucent texture paste & spread it through the dot fade stencil randomly. I believe it was Dina Wakley who said you could never have too many layers so as a last canvas layer I covered a numbers stamp with Brushed Pewter distress paint & rolled it in random places across the front.  While each canvas layer was drying I worked on the robots for the front; I cut them out of chipboard from a Cameo file, covered them with foil tape & colored them with alcohol inks.  Finally the title is cut out of grungepaper (JW Alphabet font on Cameo) , embossed with a gears folder & painted in Brushed Pewter.

As I wrote about last week I made my niece a doll carrier & once I finally bribed my son to wear so I could get pictures he didn't want to take it off (5 yr olds!).  So I promised to make him one of his own.  I struck gold & found out-of-production "How to Train Your Dragon" fabric at JoAnn's for $2/yd (after sale & coupon) so I bought all they had to make a beanbag cover (not done yet) and had plenty leftover for his own carrier.

Of course the first toy to get the privilege of being carried was his beloved Eeyore & he declared "now it's even easier to give him kisses!"

And at of course Stormfly "is bored & needs to go to Target with us!" - why I didn't think of this years ago when Erin was small & left her beloved friends all over the place, they can't get lost if attached!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Stitch Fix #7

With our signature high humidity & temperatures rising well over 90F before lunch I was really looking forward to some comfy summer clothes in my June fix.  Alas, it wasn't meant to be :-(  My usual stylist, Suzanne, was on vacation so another one stepped in to cover her clients.  And to be fair I think this guest stylist did the best she could, I imagine it's hard to come in cold & try to be educated guesses.  I was slightly annoyed that while I specifically request casual clothes for the beach & playground I was sent 2 dresses & a long necklace - that might fly for a single woman in the city but not a mom of 3!

I see where the stylist was going with this top, it's lightweight & has a open lace back (above the shoulders).  However it was extremely baggy & shapeless on my frame and near see-through.  Also I didn't care for the odd ribbed texture & the color washed out my Irish skin.

I know chambray button ups are supposed to be a summer staple & this fabric was divine (ultra soft!) but buttons & my chest haven't gotten along since adolescence :-/.  While the buttons did technically close they gaped in between each one while the bottom was big around my waist/ lower torso.  I loved the fabric & polka dot so much that I thought I could wear it open over a tank top but unfortunately that looked ridiculous too.

Initially I thought this lace dress had potential but it was heavy & lace felt like the cheap variety you'd find on children's clothes.  The length & overall fit of the bottom was decent but the top had a very odd fit & didn't give me any shape.  With my jean jacket on it looked 100x better but since that's thoroughly impractical for FL summer it went back.

When I pulled this dress out of the box I was initially excited because it felt really light & has a cute boat print.  But I could not figure out what to do with the side bow, if I left it loose then I might as well have been wearing a bag but if I cinched it in then the top billowed out making me appear bigger.  The final nail in the coffin though was the neckline, it came all the way to my neck & felt suffocating no matter how much I tried to pull it down.

I like to wear layering necklaces for nice events so I thought that I could at least salvage my $20 stylist's fee with this & worst case gift it to someone else....But no this felt & looked so cheap (@ $34!!!) that I'd feel like a grinch gifting it & never wear it myself!.  And granted I'm short but this was so long it nearly reached my waist - with an 8mth old & 5 yr old no freaking way!  Worst for me was that the inner layer is these thin links that would not lie flat & straight for anything driving my OCD brain up a wall so back it went.

So I'm still without much summer wear but like I said can't be too mad at someone new cold picking items, we have all gone shopping for ourselves & left with nothing so meh it happens.  I went ahead and moved up next fix though so here's hoping it'll be better.  Overall I still think Stitch Fix is an awesome service & worth the occasional miss so if you'd like try for yourself you can go through my referral link & I'll get a small credit, thank you!

Stitch Fix Part I
Stitch Fix Part II

Teacher Gifts

One of my favorite crafts to do is gifts for my kids' teachers!  I have so much respect for the teaching profession - in large because I know I couldn't do it! - education is truly a calling  & I love how the right teacher can make all the difference in a child's life.  This year was particularly special because it was Dillon's 1st year (PK) and Erin had an AMAZING teacher this year after an extremely frustrating last year.

Erin's teacher had a wilderness theme to her classroom with the slogan Children Actively Making Progress (C.A.M.P) and a moose named Maggie as the mascot.  So I made her a wooden "Welcome to C.A.M.P" sign with a moose sitting outside a tent & a card to match - unfortunately I didn't have time to take pictures so you'll just have to take my word that it was cute :-P.

For Dillon's teacher I made a plantar box with some metal pails that could be used for plants or school supplies.  All year I had the phrase "Bloom where you planted" running through my head because Erin had the same teacher but at a different school so while they didn't get the same PK experience it was still a good school career start.  It was even more appropriate because this teacher happens to love flowers and gardening as a hobby.

Again I wish I had time to get nicely staged pictures so you can see all the details!  My husband built the box out of basic poplar (can't see the embellished pails :-( ) and then I did several layers of white washing with dry brush streaks of Hickory Smoke,Vintage Photo & Walnut Stain distress paint.  In between each layer of paint I sanded some paint away & the edges/ corner so that in the end it looked like it was well-worn. I then stenciled wildflowers around the sides with Tarnished Brass & went over it with a wipe to make it look faded.  Finally I hand lettered the phrase on one side in acrylic paint before coating the whole piece in polyurethane for durability.  The pails I got from the dollar spot @ Target, painted chalkboard rectangles on each one, embellished each one with wildflowers (in chalk paint) & labeled them "Love" "Patience" "Time".  All in all this was one of those projects that seems so simple in your head but ends up taking WAY longer then you thought!  So thankfully she loved it lol, said it was going on her kitchen counter as a reminder to herself & her kids :-D.
** Entered to Simon Says Stamp Monday "Summer Garden" Challenge

Bonus:  The pails I made the teachers for Valentine's Day but didn't have a chance to share; both were the same with an embellished heart "You're a hoot!", a Starbucks gift card in holder & a bag of M & Ms :-)

Hope everyone has a great Saturday!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Stitch Fix Part II

So yesterday I hopefully garnered your interest in Stitch Fix and showed 2 of my new favorite dresses that I've purchased from this amazing service.  As a follow-on here are my warm-weather spring/ summer items I've so far purchased:

I'm constantly begging my stylist, Suzanne, for breathable fabrics because summer coastal weather is not for the faint of heart.  Even when it does magically dip below the nineties, it's still 85%+ humidity yuck!  This top is 100% cotton, linen thin & has an open crochet back (above the bra line) - thus it is amazingly cool & comfortable no matter what.  And look at that beautiful embroidery!!  The only negative is it is tighter across the chest then I prefer & I've found that to be common to this brand Skies are Blue.  But an XL probably would've been huge because it's plenty big on bottom & the arm holes are nearly too big on my L.

This top is one I had pinned because I was intrigued by the ombre coloring & split back.  Turns out this too is 100% cotton and oh so comfortable!  It is more flowy then I generally prefer & not the most flattering from the front but again when you live in this climate you've got to make style sacrifices for comfort! The split back is really fun (especially to husband ;-) ) but still modest for the playground lol!

This is another that I pinned because as you've probably guessed I'm a sucker for embroidery but wasn't sure of the color or if it would be too "professional blouse" & not enough "domestic engineer" ;-).  The peachy-coral color is far more pretty in person & surprisingly flattering to my Irish skin!  Also it fits as a loose large, again could possibly do a medium but not sure enough to risk exchanging.  While it does seem to be made to wear with a skirt & layer under a blazer, it works perfectly well with casual shorts too.  I didn't notice until after check-out that it's 100% Polyester so it doesn't breathe at all, every single time I wear it I end up sticky & sweaty.  So for summer at least I reserve it for when I know I'll be indoors ;-)

One thing I love about Stitch Fix is that it introduces new-to-you brands, for instance my new favorite Kut from the Kloth.  These are their Elliott Cargo Shorts, fit me perfectly & love quasi-neutral olive green!  I've read on several other blogs that Stitch Fix must have a magical sizing system for pants & shorts because they seem to find well fitting bottoms when they can't be found *anywhere* else.  I have a naturally athletic/ muscular build (albeit now post-kid paunch) so shorts & jeans always fit in the waist/pelvis but tight in the thigh or fit in the thigh & gap in the waistband.  But not these!- how does that happen?!  Magic I tell you! Usually cargo pockets are the worst thing muscular or otherwise big thighs and yet somehow it works here.  Oh & did I mention they are wonderfully amazing COTTON no spandex?!

These are also by Kut from the Kloth but in a different style; a lighter weight fabric here which you'd think would be even more comfortable but that also means they skim every bump too.  But they do still fit in the waist & thigh (despite being tighter then the Elliott style) & since it's a linen-type look a bit dressier then their rugged Elliott cousin.  I kept them for the overall comfort (& my desperate need for shorts) but they do fall prey to my biggest pet peeve in clothing - trouser closure a.k.a hook & bar.  Thanks to awesome genes I'm barely past 30 & already have arthritis so trying to manipulate that little interior button is a (literal) pain & I never get the hooks on the first try.  Also since I have the standard post kid-paunch these type of closure never lay completely flat which isn't the most flattering (such first world problems :-P lol).

Have you enjoyed seeing these spring/ summer picks?  Have I convinced you to give Stitch Fix a try for yourself?  If you do decided to give it a try, I'd be very appreciative if you'd use my referral link & I'll get a small credit to my account at no cost to you!  Thanks & have a great day :-)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Stitch Fix Part I

Stitch Fix is an awesome company that takes the stress and drama out of clothes shopping. Their website probably does the best at explaining everything but basically you fill out a detailed style profile (also make a Pinterest board!), pay a $20 Stylist fee & they send you 5 items to try for 3 days after which you select which items to keep or send back.  The fee is automatically deducted from your total, if you keep all 5 get 25% off or ship it back for free.  If you'd like to try it for yourself, I'd appreciate you using my referral link & I'll get a small account credit (thank you!).

There are a lot of amazing bloggers who share their Fixes beautifully - I particularly like Erin @ Living in Yellow, Maria @ Crazy Together & Elif @ The Box Queen  - so I haven't even tried to compete with great set-ups like these.  Trust me you don't want to see my 8 yr olds attempts @ photgraphing me LOL! But Stitch Fix  provides such a wide range of styles that I figure might as well share what I receive & occassionally I might actually be wearing them ;-)

By and large the most common complaint against Stitch Fix I've read in blog-o-sphere is "it's not the cheapest way to fill a wardrobe".  If you're a devoted thrift store/ bargain shopper, they're prices might be above your comfort level.  You can set your price points ("cheaper the better", $50-100, $100-$150, $200+)  across all categories & they'll do their best to match them but all prices are MSRP and equivalent to what you'd find at the likes of J Crew.  If you purchase all 5 then you get 25% off everything which is a major perk (& pretty equivalent to standard sales).   And if you find the exact same item online for cheaper they'll match it.

Also ask yourself are you going for quality or quantity?  I've long since grown out of 'the $8 shirt "deal" that only lasts 2 months but you don't care because it was $8'! Also for me Target type clothing is notoriusly bad fitting and again don't last much more then a season.  And then there's the simple fact I.HATE.SHOPPING by that I mean it is my 7th circle of h***: bright lights, crowds of people, confusing layouts, inability to find sizes/colors, the small dressing rooms, intending to be helpful sales people commenting on your worst features...oh yeah then there's the 3 young kids I usually have with me - gives me a panic attack just thinking about it.  All of this is why this was my entire wardrobe 10+ yrs out of college & 3 kids later:

Do you see now why I love Stitch Fix?!

First I want to share my favorite item yet, I may or may not have literally squealed when I saw it in the box! Polka dots & soft comfy fabric? - oh yes please!

While they were down here, our parents watch the kids so we could see Captain America: Civil War & this made the perfect date night dress.  Our theater is always frigid so my denim jacket made the perfect complement to the dress.  Unfortunately this angle makes me look still pregnant but oh well :-P.  And oh let me show you the best part:

Yes an interesting & flattering back design that works with a standard bra! Can we say Hallelujah?!

My only real complaint about Stitch Fix is I seem to be right in the middle between a medium & large, since I prefer take "loose" over "form fit" I have my profile set to 12/ Large.  The above dress -while I LOVE it -is really loose fitting, probably could have exchanged it from a medium that would fit perfectly but you only get one exchange.  So if a medium had been too small I would've been stuck unable to wear (which would be awful!).  But now this next dress is also a large & a near perfect fit:

This one is a little on the short side & I generally prefer my skirts/ dresses to pull away rather then being (almost straight).  But the embroidery on the shoulders & bottom hem is GORGEOUS in person & the fabric is the perfectly weight for our humid coastal weather.  I really like how the sleeve/neckline helps to balance out my narrow shoulders & rather large chest.  Also until I received the polka dot dress this was my husband's favorite fix item ;-)

I'll share more of my keeper items in another post since this one is getting rather long ;-)