Archive for the ‘sponsored’ Category

Sponsored: Leather Folio Tutorial

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jo-totes

This tutorial is sponsored by Jo Totes. They have a wide selection of fashionable camera bags in both genuine and vegan leather. My favorite of all is the Siena bag - an italian leather bag that ages beautifully. I use it as my every day bag. It fits all of the essentials! The structured body allows me to easily find all of my purse’s contents quickly.

Stay up to date with Jo Totes on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

My purse essentials (beyond baby stuff): my instax camera, a notebook, pen, chapstick and gum.

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For a while I had my notebook just floating around my purse naked. The problem with this was that the top page would frequently break off, wrinkle and just get disgusting. To remedy the problem, I hand-bound a folio where I can just insert the notebook I’m using and protect it from the contents of my purse. I’m constantly ripping out pages and tossing them, so it’s nice to have something reusable instead of having to bind a new journal every time I run through my pages.

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The original version I bound was a traditional 3/4 rounded back bind with cutouts and pockets. I thought about sharing how to make this, but as I broke down each step, I realized that I had very specific bookbinding tools and the steps would take 5+ hours to photograph and explain. I ditched that idea for a simpler sewn version. It’s not as rigid, but it’s still quite sturdy and can be completed in well under an hour. You could opt out of real leather and use an industrial felt instead. I’m not sure I would recommend a vegan leather as it doesn’t tend to wear well over time.

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This would be a great gift for a guy or gal. Christmas gift perhaps? It’s just over 2 months away, so time to start planning! I’ve already taken care of a couple of Christmas gifts already. I feel way more on top of things this year. Don’t worry though, I have plenty of time to procrastinate and get behind on my gift-giving.

So would you like to make one with me? It’ll take you about 20-30 minutes. If you’re making a bunch all at once (which I would totally recommend!) it’d take less than that for each one.

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Supplies:

  • ruler
  • rotary cutter (and mat)
  • bulldog clips
  • thread
  • leather needle (or topstitch needle)
  • elastic
  • button
  • hand-sewing needle
  • x-acto knife
  • pen
  • bonefolder
  • leather
  • sturdy canvas or a fabric wallpaper*
  • notebook**

* I used fabric wallpaper for this. I scored some years ago from design centers in SF. Just ask an interior design company if they have any wallpaper samples that are being discontinued that you can have. Alternatively you can fuse any kind of fabric to Ultra Hold Heat ‘n Bond with regular copy paper.

** My favorite paper is the Rhodia pad or Clairefontaine Triomphe paper. They come in plain, grid, dot grid and lined.

Read more for the full tutorial.

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Sponsored: Nesting with The Honest Company

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This post is sponsored by the Honest Company. They’re a fabulous resource for safer home products such as cleaning supplies, personal care and baby essentials. They’ll even deliver all that awesomeness to your doorstep through their bundle and save subscriptions.

Also, how cute are their diapers?

 

Has anyone ever asked you the question: Would you rather have a cleaning service or a landscaper?

I was thinking about this the other day, I’d much rather have a landscaper. I can’t stand all the weeds in our yard and I have no idea what to do to make our yard look pretty. It’s been a source of internal contention for some time. I can’t seem to keep the real plants alive and the morning glory seems to love whatever it is I’m doing wrong.

And the truth is, I don’t mind cleaning. Doing the floors and dishes aren’t my cup of tea (Chris does those, thank heavens), but I get strange satisfaction out of cleaning bathrooms.

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After some reflection, I think I know why:

  • The bathroom is a small finite space (unlike floors which go on FOREVER).
  • You know when it’s clean because of how it smells when you walk in.
  • A clean bathroom seems like a much brighter, open space.
  • It’s easier to keep a bathroom relatively clean/tidy for a longer period of time than to keep the kitchen sink tidy (unless you just never cook).

I’ve slacked off in my bathroom duties with this pregnancy because of the tight spaces, little air circulation and how those two play into basically suffocating me when cleaning out the toilet with bleach. I’m sure What to Expect When You’re Expecting has some warning about cleaning agents alongside with germophobic warnings as well. Let it go on the record that I absolutely hate that worthless book. I read it once while I was pregnant with Penelope. It induced moderate to severe paranoia about everything I came into contact. Worthless.  I digress.

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See my slacking duties? You can see smears on the mirror and all of my junk out with no particular purpose. Honest Company sent me a bunch of cleaning supplies which were just the motivation I needed to get cleaning and jazz up my bathroom a little bit.

Did I mention these cleaning supplies didn’t send my lungs into a panic? The eucalyptis mint bathroom cleaner works as nicely to remove bathroom grime as it smells. And it smells soooo good.

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Taaa Daaaa!!! Look at that transformation!! This is no amazing before and after. Quite pathetic really, but Chris noted a very dramatic change when he first stepped foot into my bathroom.

At some point, we’re going to demolish this bathroom and give it the finish it deserves (or should I say I deserve?). We want to replace the vanity with double sinks (so Chris can actually use this bathroom, he’s currently stuck with the one down the hall). I want to tear down the wall to the “toilet closet”, who needs a 3′ x 8′ closet for a toilet? Open that floor up, baby!! I also want to tear down the wall to the linen closet and have open teak shelving there. Add subway tiles along the floor and walls and a giant soaking tub and I’ll be a happy woman.

Until that happens (cough, $$, cough), I’ll be happy with my minute upgrades. :)

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I started out by designing and cutting out vinyl decals of random geometric outlines to add some fun texture to the wall. I organized my nail polishes on the little rack to keep them away from Penelope and around for frequent use. This is a spice rack I scored from Ikea for $4. Chris originally put one in his bathroom so I copied the idea. It’s perfect for storing bathroom stuff up high.

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I end up taking my cosmetics around the corner to the bedroom mirror and work on applying my face while sitting on the floor. It’s much easier than trying to manage my giant belly around the counter top to get close enough to the mirror to curl my eyelashes. I was previously using a wire basket, which would frequently lose pencils because of the wire-y-ness of the basket. Switching to a real tray made a difference. It’s prettier, too.

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I decanted my hand soap to a pretty dispenser and bought mis-matched containers for my toothbrush, tumbler and plant.

The light in this bathroom really stinks, so the plant is now happily living in our bright master bedroom instead. I miss the greenery in my bathroom, though.

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I got a new curtain that allows a little more light in and has more of a neutral spin to it. The geometric pattern plays well with all of the different textures.

A while back we were using regular towel rods, my towels never seemed to migrate off the floor. Chris cut out some wood, stained it and added hooks to the wall instead. It’s much easier to hang towels when in a rush to get kids out the door in the morning.

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I created a little piece of artwork that reads, “Hello Gorgeous”. I already feel gross with this pregnancy and I know it’ll only get magnified when the postpartum body comes into play. I need a little reminder that I’m gorgeous no matter what my body may look like. It’s sad how media distorts perceptions of how our bodies are supposed to look like after a baby. I’m a believer in trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but a healthy outlook is also important.

Other than that, I haven’t done as much nesting as I would have liked. Next up is organizing artwork; making sure it’s all framed and hanging it on our bare walls. I’ve got 2 boxes and a pile about 5 inches tall of art that’s waiting to find a home on our walls. My mom will be in town next week to help with the baby, so maybe she’ll be able to help. :)

This post is sponsored, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Sponsored: Beating Boredom with Learning on the Go

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This post is sponsored by Intel. Stay connected on the go this summer with Intel Tablets . Join the Intel Advocate Experience here.

 

We had a grand time on vacation this summer. We started out with a quick trip to Vegas to see Chris’s grandma get remarried, then we headed to Los Angeles to play in the sun and introduce Penelope and Felix to the magic of Disneyland. And it. Was. MAGICAL. Chris and I both agreed that it was more fun to go as parents with young kids than it was to go as a kid. Seeing their faces light up with every little ride was priceless.

After the great food and fun times in the Los Angeles area, we headed east to see Chris’s family in Phoenix. Chris’s sister Shelley got back from an 18 month stint in the Chicago, Illinois area, so it was a happy reunion. Both Shelley and my youngest sister-in-law Brooke are in transition this summer.

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Brooke’s transition has been the hardest. She’s playing a waiting game until she finds out where she’ll be in the next few months. Not being able to plan for the future has her in a rut of sorts. And bored.

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So to beat the boredom, I busted out a calligraphy kit for her and we’ve spent some time working on calligraphy. It was wonderful to teach her and Shelley. They’re naturals and made fabulous company while I filled my practice sheets. Have I mentioned how awesome my in-law’s are? You should be jealous.

Learning artistic and domestic skills online has become quite popular recently. With the rise of online learning at istilllovecalligraphy.com, Atly, Craftsy, Skillshare and about a million others, there are so many things you can learn online. I’m more than a little biased towards the calligraphy class I offer at istilllovecalligraphy.com. It’s pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

I LOVE, LOVE to reach out to people all over and get them excited about the art of Calligraphy and coach them along the way. Best part? Students can take the class wherever they go since it’s tablet compatible ( Intel Tablets work especially well).

What do you do to beat summer boredom?

#spon: This post is sponsored by Intel. All thoughts and content are my own.

Maternity Style: My Mom-iform

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white-plum

This post is sponsored by White Plum. Find all sorts of great fashion items for the every day woman at a fabulous price. Use discount code MELISSA20 for 20% off your entire purchase until 7/7/14. 

I’m officially 25 weeks along now (how is it flying by so quickly?), spending more and more time each morning scouring my wardrobe for comfortable items that will stretch with me throughout the day. I’m finding I reach for my stretchy dresses and leggings more than anything. I’m also finding that I’m running out of shirts that adequately cover my belly.

Funny how clothes that I thought would fit for my whole pregnancy are already becoming too tight/short.

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To remedy that situation, I sewed up Megan Nielsen’s ruched maternity shirt in a mint jersey. The mint color is a bit of a gamble for me since I’m prone to stain just about anything lighter than middle-grey. But it’s such a gorgeous color I couldn’t resist.

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It’s also such a neutral color that I can pair it with just about any of my pants (that still fit). This one-layer wonder is going to get a lot of wear this summer.

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As all of Megan’s patterns, this was a breeze to sew up and fit was spot on the first try. Adjustments made:

  • lengthened shirt hem by 1 1/2 inches
  • lengthened the sleeve hem by 1 1/2 inches
  • tapered the sleeve at the hem by 1 inch
  • raised the neckline by 1/2 inch

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I added a raw band to the neckline and sleeve hem, then steamed the bottom hem so the knit would roll nicely. I need to launder the shirt so the sleeve and collar roll a little more, but as the hem is now, it doesn’t bother me.

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Chris said he liked the ruching. I do too. I’ve tried to sew items that will work for both maternity and postpartum, but this may be the only exception. I don’t see how it will flatter post-pregnancy, because it’s ruched only in the front, but I’m more concerned about comfort at this moment. The leggings will definitely be great after baby arrives, though! I live in leggings these days.

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Outfit details:

What are your go-to summer items for comfort? Leggings? Tees? Skirts?

 

Partied Out: Secret Garden Party Details

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This post is sponsored by Tai Pan Trading, where you can find outrageously awesome decor and fashion for a fabulous price.

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First off, I want to give a huge shout out to Tai Pan for making our party possible. We couldn’t have made quite the visual impact without their generosity or fabulous decor.

Alt Summit put a call for party submissions several months ago (August? September?). I quickly emailed Erin (I’ve been wanting to collaborate with her for some time), and we put our minds to work. Alt went with Erin’s genius plan for a Secret Garden themed soiree.

Why the genius? Because it totally played into the styling and decor that already exists at the Grand America (our venue)!

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photo by rue rococo

We took on two more extraordinary creative partners, Alix and Brittany, and planned the heck out of it. I can’t begin to tell you how much hard work went into every little detail. Nevermind. I guess I can because you’re here, reading this.

Our hurdles:

  • $1000 decor/photography budget
  • a refrigerator box and a dishwasher box and a bundle of 10′ pipes that needed to be transported 700+ miles
  • arranging seating in a 500 sq. ft. room, half filled with a meat carving station
  • hanging things without touching the walls
  • finding time in our busy schedules to make everything happen

 

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photo by Justin Hackworth

Knowing that the florals were taken care of (minus shipping them 700+ miles), it allowed us to focus on the decor. Unfortunately, if we wanted any kind of big statement (and we did) $1000 wouldn’t get us a whole lot.

Tai Pan let us borrow the most magnificent over-sized urns, topiaries, ceramic gnomes, 4′ lions and more! Every little piece was the right kind of whimsical detail to make the party great.

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photo by rue rococo

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photo by Brooke Dennis

We used two 5′ planters on either side of the interior of the door to hold the 8-10 tall florals. With our team and the help of serious floral foam, we got them to create a cozy archway that made such a fabulous impact on entry of the room. Sort of an Alice-in-Wonderland moment.

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photo by Justin Hackworth

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photo by Erin Mercado

I didn’t get nearly as many photos as I would have liked, but here’s a little snippit of some of the signage I made and the hankie wall. We pinned the hankies onto several moss plaques. It made a fun statement, but when the hankies were gone it still looked nice.

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photo by Erin Mercado

Flanking either side of the exterior doors were lions. They were at least 3 feet tall. Alix made giant floral crowns for them. I loved the juxtaposition of those two elements.

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photo by rue rococo

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Shhh!! It’s a secret! It was so wonderful to work with such talented ladies. From left: Erin, Brittany, Alix, Me

Alix made the photo backdrop from shredding lace and dyed thrift store bed sheets. Inspired by this pin (anyone know the original resource?), but a TON fuller. It made a fabulous impact in the room.

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photo by rue rococo

We kept the tables pretty simple with moss runners, river rocks, ceramic gnomes and inspirational quotes. Trying to find quotes that would fit the Secret garden theme was TOUGH! I watched the movie with Penelope about a month or so ago. I forgot how sad it was. Penelope even started crying! She was so sad to see the little girl’s mom ignoring her. It might have hit a little too close to home for Penelope (Chris has been picking up a lot of slack lately with all this Alt craziness).

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photo by rue rococo

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photo by rue rococo

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View all photobooth pics here.

Planning a party of this scale couldn’t have been done without such great support of these fabulous ladies (and a husband or two). Working with these inspiring women was so much fun (a little too much fun at times, even).

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Another special thanks to all of the people and brands that helped make our vision happen: Tai Pan Trading for decor and jewelry, Lizy Bowden for florals, Spoonflower for the hankies and Tiffany for the C-stands for the backdrops.

Now I’m ready for a nap.

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