Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011: In the Flesh

No, we did not go as Jesus and Mary for Halloween this year.  However, we felt pretty cool dressing up as two characters from our new favorite show . . .



For anyone who actually read last week’s post on the possible people we would be dressing up as, if you guessed we would be going as Don Draper and Joan Holloway, you were correct!

Initially, I was going to cop out and dress up as an old cat lady, since I knew I could find the necessary items at Goodwill.  However, when I was at a store that had old prom dresses for cheap, I looked through and found the perfect Joan dress.  And, it was only $12!  It was a little big but I decided to make do because I absolutely love Joan, I already have the red hair, and I’m obsessed with the 60’s.

Here was the dress before I altered or ironed it:


As you can see, it’s very low cut, so I used some safety pins under the flaps of the collar to make the plunge a little less deep.  Joan definitely has more prominent “assets” than I do, if you know what I mean, and mine cannot pull off a deep neckline, nor can hold up a dress the way hers can.


The dress was extremely well made.  It had an inner lining, an outer lining, and then the outside of the dress, all with boning to keep it streamlined and tight (although not tight initially on me because it wasn’t my size).  I opened both sides completely and brought the dress in about an inch on each side.  I could have spent a lot of time making the dress look as beautiful on the inside as it does on the out by sewing the lining back the way they had it, but I took the easy way out, since it’s a one-time-wear costume and sewed all the layers together with the dress inside out.  Somehow, without pinning (because it’s really hard to pin a dress yourself while you are wearing it), it turned out to fit me perfectly!

Mr. Converse Sneakers used clothes he already owned.  He doesn’t have a suit, nor would I let him wear one for Halloween if he did have one in fear of it getting destroyed, so he wore a jacket and some pants that didn’t match, but went together enough to work for Halloween.

Here we are:


Mr. CS didn’t have shoes on in the photo, which explains why I am taller than him.  Normally we are the same height.


I am definitely far from a stylist, so the hair gave me problems, even though it was fairly simple.  I am no good at teasing my hair since I never do it, and thank goodness for that because I swear I lost half of my hair while brushing it out at the end of the night!  The hair clip is one I had from our senior prom.



He’s my stud!  I’ve always loved him with a side part, which he hates normally, so this was the one day of my life I got to see him for a few hours with his hair combed like that.  He looked incredibly handsome!


What do you think – did we pull it off?  What did you dress up as or are going to dress up as tonight?

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Marital Pumpkin Carving Contest

I never thought carving pumpkins for the first time with my husband (his first time ever) would turn into a mini contest.  It didn’t really feel that way at the time, but there was definitely a winner, and I wasn’t it.

We were going to carve all four pumpkins we bought (one when we went to the pumpkin patch and three from the grocery store for cheaper), but I hate the scoop/scrape process of making the insides hollow, so we only did two.


All I could find were Disney carving kits, which the mister was very thrilled about, see?


We carved the pumpkins on Sunday, when I was pretty sick (I’m still getting over it coughcough Ugh), so Mr. Converse Sneakers printed out a picture that I described of an S, and found one with hearts.  Score!


He is pretty obsessed with skulls for some reason (you wouldn’t know it by his sweet personality), and he is a good artist, so he draw them a lot.  However, he used a print out to base his drawing on and then sketched it out.  Fitting for Halloween, unlike my girly love-stricken idea.


I guess I don’t care too much for carving pumpkins, so it took me only about 10 minutes to carve mine.  It wasn’t the best either.  My husband, however, spent a lot longer getting his perfect.  It must be the cutting motion that makes men weak in the knees.  I will never understand.


Here they are finished:




We put lemon juice on the cuts to keep them from browning.



He read somewhere you should spray cooking spray on them to lock in the moisture, and we thought it couldn’t hurt, so we did it.


I’m loving doing all these things for the first time as a married couple.  Honestly, though, I think traditions are even more fun with kids involved, but I’m happy to start some traditions the years before we have any little ones running around.

What Halloween traditions do you partake in?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Banking Moolah: Putting Our Elbows to Good Use

I have no idea where the term “elbow grease” came from, and now that I think about it, it sounds pretty gross (I suppose not as gross as ear grease or armpit grease would sound, but still gross nonetheless), but this weekend I definitely used a lot of it!

You see, we are trying to cut costs wherever we can, but we hate sacrificing quality in the process.  For most of my life, I have used cheap, generic brands of laundry detergent to wash my clothes and honestly, I never thought twice about it most of the time.  However, during college, I would find that food spills on my clothes were not coming our or my purple shirts (my college has purple as one of its colors) would mysteriously come out with pink splotches.  I thought the culprit was the college washing machines, but after trying the same soap in other high-efficiency, quality washers and dryers, I realized it was the soap.  I switched to Tide, which is definitely more expensive, but is also worth the money compared to the generic brands I was using.  Normally, generic brands are my best friends, but detergent is one area they are not.

However, as much as I liked the clean clothes I was getting, I did not like paying so much for laundry detergent, so I scoured blogs and websites for an alternative.  Apparently I am not the only one who hates paying a lot of money for detergent!

I went out an bought myself some materials to make my own powder detergent.  Note: Perhaps I am stupid, but I could not find anything but the Borax at Target which I thought was odd.  The Fels Naptha soap and washing soda were bought at the grocery store.


Three cheap ingredients.  I can’t complain!  I also wanted a reason to buy a pretty glass container for $5.


I could have used ivory soap, which I probably will switch to since I bought a huge pack of it when I couldn’t find the Fels Naptha at Target, but man is this soap pretty.  I love how vintage it looks!


This is where the elbow grease came in.  It took me over 10 minutes to grate just one third of the bar and it got everywhere!  All the tutorials I found online said making this would only take 5 minutes (and they used a whole bar of Fels Naptha)!  I work out, my arm muscles are not that weak, yet I found myself sweating as I grated it.  I can’t imagine doing a whole bar.  Maybe this is a part I will corral Mr. Converse Sneakers into doing. Heehee


Other than grating the bar of soap, I simply added half a cup of washing soda . . .


. . . and half a cup of Borax into our blender with the grated soap.


Then I went to town.  So, blending this little money-saving concoction did not work.  It all stuck to the bottom and only the middle would blend.   I used a spoon after to mix it up.  I probably lost a fifth of the mixture due to the dust that started flying out.


The awesome thing is that a tablespoon per load is all the is required.

When I do this again, since it is definitely worth the money saved, I will pour the Borax, washing soda, and grated soap into three separate containers and put 1/2 tbsp of the soap, 1/4 tbsp of the washing soda, and 1/4 tbsp of the Borax into each load.  this way I won’t need to blend anything, I will get a perfect ratio with each load, and I won’t have to store the extra boxes in our storage room which already has enough packed away.

Do you make your own laundry detergent?  Maybe you DIY some other cleaner that is normally expensive.  Please spill your secrets!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween for Redheads (or Redhead-Lovers)

One of my best friends, Megan, who was the maid of honor at our wedding, has a birthday/Halloween party every year since her birthday is the 29th.  Normally, I would have no reason to get dressed up for Halloween since I’ve never been a big partier or bar-goer, but since I couldn’t miss her party, I have a reason to dress up.

Although I’m only twenty two and many girls my age love to dress up in the more scandalous outfits, I have never been one for showing off my body, even for Halloween.  Plus, those costumes are EXPENSIVE, think $50+ for one itty-bitty costume that isn’t even very well made and tons of other people are wearing.  Instead, I try to play off my own interests and assets (if you will).  What assets am I talking about?

Here’s a clue, last year Mr. Converse Sneakers and I went as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo:


Let me rephrase that.  I went as Lucy and my hubby (then fiance) went as the dead-and-come-back-to-life-as-a-zombie Ricky Ricardo.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned his love for zombies (sometimes I swear he actually believes in them, to which he replies, “Well it doesn’t hurt to be prepared, justincase”), so I told him he could zombify himself as long as he still fit with my costume.

I bought the polka dot dress nearly a year before Halloween 2010 when I spotted it at a garage sale for about $8.  It was too big, so I took in the sides and added a belt.  I bought the wig even though I have the classic red hair naturally (though not as bright), but I had no time to style it the Lucy way because we had our engagement photos just before the party (and my hair in the photo below from that shoot was definitely not from the 50s era although the similar blue polka dot dress could have been straight out of Lucy’s closet):

S S eSession063

S S eSession048

Sorry, I love our engagement photos so much that I have to include them whenever I can. :)

If you haven’t guessed by now, I love going as a redhead for Halloween.  Bonus points if Mr. Converse Sneakers can dress up as someone in relation to the redhead I dress up as.  Although he is Asian, he has similar coloring as Desi Arnaz, so it worked out.  However, Mr. CS likes to go as redheads too (I think I inspired a love for all redheads in him when we started dating).

The year before I went as June Cleaver, wearing a pencil skirt, lacey top and cardigan and an apron (all of which I already had on hand.  My hair was cut into a cute bob at the time, so it fit with the time period.  I tend to have a huge love for the 50s and 60s.

This year, I wanted to keep with my normal theme, but again, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  Can you guess which costumes we went with?  I’ll reveal it next week, probably on Halloween, once I have the costumes perfect and get all dressed up on Friday for the party.

Fred and Wilma Flintstone from The Flintstones


George and Judy Jetson from The Jetsons


Joan Holloway/Harris and Don Draper from Mad Men


Chuckie Finster and Didi Pickles from Rugrats


Ariel and Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid


And here is one last clue: I only spent $12 on the costume!  10 million brownie points to whoever guesses correctly. 

What/who are you dressing up as for Halloween?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How To Overcome the Pants-Are-Too-Long Blues

I’ve joked for many years that the one child my parents had turned out to inherit all the “bad” traits.  I’m referring to my horrible eyesight (from Dad), my muscular calves that I’ve never liked (from Dad), my red hair and pale skin (from both or neither, I guess), my short eyelashes (from Mom), and so on.  I’m kidding, of course, because I have learned to love most of these things or deal with them, but it is fun to play-complain from time to time.  Something that I don’t normally complain about, however, is my height.  I’m what people like to call “petite,” although I suppose I’m just at the cut off point.  I’m about 5’3”, which bothers me sometimes when I can’t reach something or when people mistake me for a 14 year old (although the red hair and freckles don’t help, I’m sure), but I usually like being small.  If I weren’t this short, I don’t think I would have agreed to go on a date with my now-husband who claims he is 5’4”, but I’m pretty sure he only beats me by a centimeter.  The one thing I hate, though, about being this short is that finding a pair of pants that fits is practically impossible.



Okay, well, I suppose people who like to spend lots of money on clothes (which is totally fine, but just not me) could find me many pairs of pants that fit me perfectly, but I like to buy my clothes as cheap as I can get ‘em.  For the past few years, I don’t think I’ve spent more than $12 on a pair of pants, and even that is up there.  I really like the fit of many jeans from Aeropostale and they typically are netural in design so they can last a long time.  However, the ones that fit me the best are “regular” length.  When I move down to the “short” length, they refuse to cover my back side (if you know what I mean), which makes no sense to me because I thought they just made the pants longer.  Apparently I have the butt of a “regular” person and the legs of a super short person.  Who knew?  So, I end up buying the longer pants and either cuff them (which I hate because it doesn’t look right on me), let them pile up at the bottom or drag on the floor, or let them sit in my closet for years.  Normally, the last option is what I go with.

I know many people have the same problem with pants and just end up hemming them.  That would seem like the logical thing to do, right?  Well, I’m stubborn and too afraid to try that on my own clothes.  Usually, anyway, except for this weekend.  I had just figured out the arrangement for my craft area, so I suppose I had my sewing machine on my mind.  I had bookmarked this tutorial a few years ago, and then a fellow blogger, Kristi, posted the same one last month.  I have wanted to try hemming my pants for a long time, but I had never worked up the courage until this weekend.

I don’t know what I was so scared of because it was EASY!  And I’m a beginner at this whole sewing thing, so if I say it is easy, it really is.

I’m not going to re-post the tutorial since I did not come up with the method, but I think I need to show some proof that I actually did this and came out on the other side, not only alive, but cheering and doing my happy my-pants-actually-fit dance.  Alright!

One of the reasons I never hemmed my pants before was because I like the way they look with their original thread and many hemming jobs make the bottom of the pants look differently than they did when they were purchased (like the fabric was just folded over because it was).  This tutorial allows you to keep the look of the original hem, but seemed trickier to me which is why I avoided it.  It was not tricky at all!


I folded the pants to where I wanted them, measured the distance from the original hem to the fold and then divided it in half.  Then I refolded them to the new measurement and pinned them.  The above photo shoes a 1.5 cm fold which seems small, but I needed them taken up 3 cm total which is enough of a difference to make the pants drag on the floor.  It was more difficult to sew this pair since the pins were hanging off, but it still made such a difference that it was worth it.  My longest pants needed to be taken up 8 cm (I measured in centimeters because the lengths are so small that I could measure more accurately with the metric system).


Here is my hem (white thread) next to the original.  I love that I could use any color thread I had on the sewing machine since it is hidden by the end, however, it would be best to use a stronger thread (I didn’t have any on hand).

When you cut off the extra denim at the bottom and flip the cuff back down, you have a small fold above the hem that is invisible once ironed.  It’s amazing!

I’m liking these before and afters (I should have ironed them all completely which is why it still appears that they are bunching up in the after photos but they are the perfect length)!





No more cuffing for me!  I’m in love with my “new” pants that have sat in my closet since I bought them.  The best part was that it only took me an hour to do all 4 and would take me even less time now that I know what I am doing.

What body ailment keeps you from looking your best and what do you do about it?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Making Room for the Crafter in Me

Between graduate school, working 25 hours a week, starting a photography business, teaching at my final field experience, adapting to married life, and driving my husband crazy, I have little extra time.   Some days I leave for work at 8am and get home from class at 10:30pm.  The little time that I do have left, I blog, spend time with my friends (which does not happen enough), and spend time with my adorable husband.  However, none of the things I do are solely “me” activities.  Sometimes I need a little me time, to clear my head, to feel good about myself, and to re-inspire myself for the next week or two.

Usually, me time includes crafting because it can be done cheaply, it is incredibly inspirational, and it helps us have pretty things without having to spend lots of money.  However, all of my crafty supplies are in our laundry/storage room which we have to go through our bathroom to get to.  It is not convenient at all, so we usually don’t do things that involve dragging boxes out of the storage room because that adds tons of extra time.


For example, when I made our “S” pillow, I spent nearly half an hour lugging all the materials I needed (sewing machine, scissors, sewing kit, sewing supplies, paper, etc.) from the storage room to our kitchen table upstairs.  When I am already limited on time to myself, I hate spending part of it just getting ready to do something fun and inspirational.

The problem we face with this whole scenario is that we don’t have another room to make into a craft room, which I would love, but it’s just not practical or even possible right now.  We barely have any extra space in our bedroom or living room.  As much as we want to live in a beautiful home with a room for every want and need, we would rather have spaces that fit our needs, regardless of whether they are completely pleasant to the eye (although that is always a bonus).  So, we decided (okay, it was more of a solo decision made by me – my hubby is great enough to let me do my own thing from time to time) to add an itty-bitty craft area.  But where would we put it?

Well, we brought down the bookcase I made with my dad so we could have our books closer, so that meant even less space in the living room.


It’s not shown in this photo, but it sat to the right of our entertainment stand.  That left the area next to our bedroom door, to the left of the access panel sticking out of the far wall in the photo above.  However, a craft area requires some kind of table surface, and that space has no room since we need a walkway to get into our bedroom.

So, we did a little rearranging and this is what we came up with:


We moved the bookcase to the empty spot on the far wall (I’m still working on how to arrange the books – bookcases can sometimes be a little chaotic with all the different book colors, but I’m not about to cover them all).  This arrangement gave us a tiny area next to the entertainment stand for a craft area.

When my parents came to visit us a couple weeks ago, they brought up a vintage sewing table they thought would be perfect.  Here it is in the space (it will be painted once I decide on a color):



Luckily, me sewing machine just barely fits in the drop down area so I can keep it close by without having it sitting out.  the top of the table has hinges so it opens up to twice the size, and it’s on casters so I can move it to the couch or somewhere else in the room if I don’t want to be cramped in the corner, keeping the bathroom door from opening.  It is not the ideal arrangement, but it’s the only one that makes sense.

This is just the first step for this little craft nook.  I have small dreams of what I want it to become over the next couple months (since this is not our main priority right now).  I did some searching around for what other people have done with small spaces to make little craft nooks:










I would love to go all girl-crazy on the space, but because I share this room with my macho husband (if macho men secretly love Anne of Green Gables and are obsessed with babies), I’m going to keep his wants in mind as well.  I would love to teach Mr. Converse Sneakers to sew (once I officially learn how), so if I keep the area a little more gender-neutral, maybe he will get his craft on as well!  I’ve never really been one to crush on macho men, anyway.  I love seeing my man in an apron or covered in paint.

I’ll keep you posted as we make over our little crafty corner and I’ll definitely let you know what I create in that little space.  Stay tuned this week to read about my first test run in the new craft nook.  It does involve my sewing machine, but I wouldn’t call it a craft.

Where do you get your craft on?


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