Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Earring Rack & Jewelry Holder

I want to preface this post by saying I know that this style of earring rack isn't that original.  My sister made something similar when I was in elementary school, even.  This is just my method and personal twist.

Supplies You Will Need:
-Plastic Cross Stitch Grid
-Ribbon (around 5/8" wide) - Preferably a new spool
-Copper Wire (mid-gauge size)
-Sewing Needle
-Thread to match Ribbon
-Wire Cutter - Jewelry Tool
-Needle nose Pliers - Jewelry Tool (not pictured)
-Round nose Plies -Jewelry Tool
-OPTIONAL - Sparkly Bits or Cabochons (and E6000 glue)
-OPTIONAL - Paperclips/Binder clips
To start out, cut your cross stitch canvas to the size you want.  For this tutorial, though, I recommend keeping it square or rectangular.  Make sure you trim off any little bumpy bits that may be left behind.
Next, we're going to play with copper wire and make hooks!  You're going to want to cut pieces approximately 1-2" long (I don't actually measure anything, so I'm not exactly sure how long mine were). 
Then you're going to want to take that piece, and fold it in half.  You may need to use your needle nose to help flatten it.  It should look something like this, now:
Next, take the wire piece, and put it all the way on the low end of the round nose pliers, with a bit of a tail sticking out. (vertically, like shown above).  Use your needle nose pliers to take that tail, and bend it around the round nose. You should have enough plus a LITTLE extra to make it around the rounded part.
Then, determine how long you want the hook to be.  Once you know that, hold the wire with the narrow end of the round nose and pull around in the opposite direction of the first hook using the needle nose.
And then, because that's kind of hard to explain, this is what your finished hook should look like!  Take your wire cutter and trim off any little tail pieces still hanging off the small end of the hook.  Determine how many hooks you need and repeat (I put one hook through every 5th hole).

To put them onto the canvas, simply pop them into the grid (DO NOT use the 1st or 2nd grid piece on either side).
 Pinch the small hook closed with your needle nose pliers, and you've got a hook on your racking!
Once you're ready for the next step, you should have a line of little copper wire hooks, like this one!
Now, we're going to start sewing!  Take and knot off your thread (I was using a thin, gauzy ribbon so I knotted my thread 3 or 4 times, to get a nice large knot) and thread your needle. 
Starting at the MIDDLE of the TOP start stitching on the ribbon.  Do not cut the ribbon, just leave it on the spool.  I recommend using the grid as a guide for your stitches.
When you come up to a corner (within 2 or 3 holes) knot off before you sew it.
When you get to the corner, fold the ribbon over onto itself, making a little fold.  Sew it in place.  The very corner piece of the grid will probably stick out, but that can be remedied later.
Continue all the way around, using the same method on each corner.  I recommend taking your time and being patient along the bottom because your ribbon and thread will get caught on the hooks.
When you get back up to the top, carefully line up the ribbon you're sewing on to the ribbon you started with.  Once you get back to the middle (you may want a little bit of overlap) tie off and cut the ribbon!
If at any point, you're having difficulty keeping the ribbon flat where you need it, use a paperclip or binder clip to hold it in place.
When you're done, it should look something like this.  If you look, you can see that the corners on the grid are still sticking out from under the ribbon.
Next, determine approximately were the middle on the top of your grid is.  Take a piece of 1 1/2" wire and crease  it lightly at the middle.  Center the crease above the middle of the grid, and stick the ends though.  Using your needle nose to bend the ends up.
Trim off those nasty corners (I suggest using a small precise scissor so you can get as much off as possible.  Then add something to cover the seem where the ribbon meets at the top.  I just made a simple bow and sewed it on.
OPTIONAL - Using E6000 (or some other epoxy based glue) glue on any sparklies, cabochons or any other bits and bobs you'd like on the ribbon.  The cabochons were pulling away at the corners, so I just used a paperclip to help keep them flat against the earring rack.  Let dry for at least 12 hours!
Here it is all finished.  I didn't put much on it because this one isn't for me, it's a gift.  However, with lots of goodies, your earring rack will look like this:
That one's my original I made a few months ago.  So, in addition to being able to hold LOTS of stuff, it looks pretty on the wall!

Friday, February 11, 2011

On Being an Atypical Lolita - Outfit Post

I was going to update this last Tuesday, truly.  However, due to a series of events (which I think are pretty great) I was unable to.  I got a call from my sister Monday morning asking if I wanted to attend the Green Bay Packer's Return to Titletown celebration the next day.  After making sure she had a baby-sitter procured (Husband is such a great guy) we got three tickets, and they were so cheap!
I had a lot of other running around to do that morning as well, before I was picked up to go.
Big sister, myself and big brother.  Check out my sister and my deco sparkle!
For fun, my sister and I attached green and yellow crafting gems to our cheeks with eyelash glue (which works awesome, by the way)!
So, it was awesome, and that was probably the closest I'll ever be to my favorite player, Aaron Rodgers (#12 and the Super Bowl MVP) in my life!

So, by all accounts I sort of figure myself to be atypical as a Lolita.  While I do love things that are pretty and like many, many cute things as well as things like tea and baking, I do a lot of non-Lolita type things (often while wearing Lolita).  I also love working non-Lolita hobbies into my wardrobe.  This can be as simple as wearing my Mass Effect 2 Normandy SR2 necklace, with a plain coord, or wearing gamer fitted tees!  This last Sunday, I really feel I kicked that up a notch by wearing a Green Bay Packer inspired Lolita coord to the Super Bowl XLV party!  I'd been working on it for 2 weeks!
Outfit Rundown
Shirt - Official NFL Apparel
Skirt - F+F
Cardigan/Shoes - Offbrand
Jewelry/Accessories - Handmade by Me
Tights - Hand-me-Down and Dyed by Me

The most expensive thing in the coord is the skirt, which was on sale, after that it's my #12 shirt (it cost me, about $22.00 but I had to have it).  The cardigan I got on sale ( $18) at Kohl's.  Everything else, I previously had or cost me almost nothing to make!
I was really mad at my hair poofs, though.  I'd been practicing them all week, and they looked great!  This day I just couldn't get them to work as well, and I don't know what I did different.
Otherwise, I'm pleased with the coord as a casual look.  I'd love to get some more accessories and do it up in more of a sweet style though. 
Also, I know you want to see those cupcakes I'm holding up close, right?
You can't see very well, but the cake is actually a layered two-tone cake.  Also, I've never done dual colored piping (or used a large cupcake piping tip) before, so I was pleased at how well these came out!  I swear, it's that butter-cream frosting recipe I use.  It always comes out perfect!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Good-Sized Fanplusfriend Review

Due to a series of events, I find myself at home on a day that I haven't had off in, probably, well over 2 years.  Basically, there's a pretty hardcore blizzard visiting the Midwest, and my boss and I decided my 45 minute commute would not be safe today.
In addition to being home today, I got an unbelievable surprise delivered to my door yesterday (and right after I vacuumed!)  My order from Fanplusfriend came, probably a month earlier than I was planning on!

So first of all, here's what I ordered:
-Sweet/Casual Lolita Frill and Smocking Neat Skirt - 2 of this skirt, one in black & one in dark brown
-Casual/Country Lolita Flat Top Straw Hat - in Ivory
-Casual Lolita Black "Note & Crown" High Stockings White
-Classical Lolita Rose Piece Knee Length Thick Stockings - in Pink
-Elegant Pink & Cream Pearls Bracelet
-Snowflake Pearls (I cannot find the listing on their website, anymore).
All of this, with shipping, cost $131 and some change.  I thought this was a great price!

Second of all my order timeline:
January 23rd, 2011
-Placed order and paid, received order and payment confirmation
January 24th, 2011
-Received message from Fanplusfriend that informed "From Jan 13 to Feb 17 we are on holiday, we cannot make order during this period.  Your order would be shipped after Feb 18 in time sequence".
January 29th, 2011
-Received e-mail informing me my order had shipped with tracking number
January 31st, 2011
-Package arrived at my door

The little crown is just covering up my address
So, because I'm silly and ordered something else from China around the same time, I assumed that this was my new bento box so I ripped open the terrible packaging.  I stuffed a blanket back into the envelope to give a better idea what showed up on my doorstep.  For some reason, it seems to have been partially coated in packing tape, and I'm not really sure why.  On a lighter note, nothing in the unglamorous lumpy packaging was damaged in any way.

Look!  Here's my stuff
Everything was individually wrapped.  Even the jewelry boxes were in little plastic bags.  It seemed that the skirts and socks were arranged to protect the hat.  I was so worried it would get crushed in transit, so I was thrilled that it was all in one piece.
I love Country Lolita more that, almost, every other style or Lolita, especially in spring and summer.  So, I've been trying to find on of these for, about a year.  So, I've finally ordered one!  The bow on the hat is very simple, but the knot in the middle is loose enough that I can slip a flower corsage clip through.  The inside is plain, with lining just above the brim.
Once I took pictures, I wore the hat the rest of the time.  I made Husband take a picture.
I'm really pleased, as it sits comfortably and it does fit.  I also love the light color and I can't wait until it really gets warm enough for me to wear outside!
Pink pearls!  I love pearls and, as far as I'm concerned, if they're stretchy it seems like a bonus!  Again, I was concerned because I have bigger wrists, however, everything sat nicely without any weird stretching.

While I do like the piece, I'm not sure how much I'll be wearing it with my Lolita stuff, though I do know that I will wear it with a lot of my other clothing, and with my mass of single strand stretch pearl bracelets.  Though, it would look gorgeous if I ever dressed in Hime Lolita again.

Now, I'm not going to lie.  These looked nicer on the website, but on the other hand, they were 88cents.  I love few things as much as pearls, but snowflakes are up there.  It's sort of getting out of the winter season, but I should be able to wear these another month, and definitely will be able to use them next year.
I also got 2 pairs of socks, both were packaged differently and were made differently.  On the pink pair, the design is woven in.  On the white pair, the design is printed on.  I'm nervous about washing them, and will be looking into information if it's safe in the future.

So, as far as socks, they're pretty much fine.  The pink ones are the shorter Japanese OTK type, with the cute scalloped edge.  The white ones are more of an American (in my experience) style OTK.  They are quite long, and say up on my legs very nicely.
I did want to point out that the white and black socks seem to suffer from a printing flaw.  Both socks have the same flaw in the same spot on both socks (the black line circled in pink).  It's very tiny and hard to see, but if you're thinking about ordering, it's good to know.  Also, the image kind of stretches apart when these are worn.  It doesn't obscure the images or anything, it's just a result of a printed on image.

Finally!  My skirts!  I wanted a very plain black and brown skirt to go along with more casual coordinates.  One of the lovely members at the LolitaFashion.org Forums pointed me in the direction of this skirt, and I fell in love.  I decided to get both colors in the same pattern. 
Overall, the fabric is a very lightweight and unlined cotton.  I know this would be a turn-off for some people, but I was very pleased.  This means I can layer under it in winter, but it's light enough that I'll be able to wear them in summer with no problems.

The lace on both is lovely, and quite simple.  I was hoping that the brown skirt would have brown lace, but I really like the black lace.  The brown is a dark enough color that the lace doesn't pop out too much, and is just a lovely accent.
Also, it has a button and zipper closure (shown on the brown skirt, because it's easier to see.)  It also had non-detachable waist ties.  Due to the light nature of the fabric, when tied the waist ties lay very flat and don't cause weird bulges under fitted shirts.

Then, naturally, I had to throw some coords together with all of my new goodies.  You can't see it, but the shirt I'm wearing in the first outfit is my self-made Mass Effect "Impressive" shirt.  For the second one, I wanted something very casual (and would you believe that pink sweater cost me $5?)

So my final run-down on my Fanplusfriend order!
Communication - 4/5 Only because do to their wording I was not expecting these things for almost a month.  I'm happy they were early, but I feel like something was not communicated correctly in the first e-mail I was sent.
Shipping - 4/5 Shipping was very fast!  I didn't check my e-mail for two days and it was on my doorstep!  However, that bag it was shipped in looked like something tried to eat it before they sent it out...
Product Quality - 4/5 Everything was fantastic for what I paid.

Individual items:
Boater Hat - 8/10 It's pretty much fantastic.  Upon close inspection, you can tell it was inexpensive, but otherwise great.
Pearl Bracelet - 6/10 Very nice, but costume jewelry.
Pearl Earrings - 5/10 Great value, but don't look as nice in their stock photos.
White&Black Socks - 6/10 Very nice, and very warm, but with some printing issues
Pink Socks - 9/10 These are great!  Right up there with my BTSSB OTK's
Skirts - 8.5/10  I love these, but I can see others being disappointed in the fabric quality.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Winter Skin Care Routine

I'm one of those people who have dry skin, all of the time.  In addition to dry skin, I also have sensitive skin.  For me, winter is just ridiculous for my skin and I have a careful skin regimen to follow.  Everything I use can easily be found at a place like Target, Walgreens or CVS.  Also, with all of these products, I tend to be thrifty and wait for sales (if I can).  Also, I want to clarify that I'm not getting paid or reimbursed in any way to write about these products.

I learned a long time ago (when I was 15 or 16) that ageless and anti-wrinkle type products.  I used to use Neutrogena brand moisturizers, but they tended to be a little watery (in my opinion).  When Olay released their age defying line a few years ago, my mom one day picked up one of their products for me to try, and I can't live without it now.
Olay Age Defying Daily Renewal Cream - This is a lighter moisturizer, perfect for in the morning before I put on my make-up.  It's thick without being heavy and has a very faint and pleasant scent.  However, this stuff is sort of pricey (though in the last year the price has come down).  Averages around $9.50.
Olay Age Defying Intensive Nourishing Night Cream - I love this!  It is my favorite facial moisturizer, ever!  I use this at night after washing my face, right before I go to bed.  Like the daily renewal cream, this is a very thick formula and has a light scent.  However, it is a bit heavier than the day cream, but this is not a bad thing.  It really keeps my skin soft and helps prevent drying out. Averages, around, $9.50.
BONUS Bath and Body Works Twilight Woods Triple Moisture Body Cream - I first tried Bath & Body Works triple moisture cream this last month.  I love it!  I use it for full-body moisturizing, after a shower or bath and put it on my hands before bed every night.  My hands get really dry at work, and putting this stuff on my hands feels like Heaven!  Also, I just listed Twilight Woods, as it's my favorite scent!  $12.00 a tube.

Ponds Wet Cleansing Towelettes - Evening Soothe - I've used these facial towelettes from Neutrogena, Ponds and various offbrand versions, pretty much, since they've come out.  I posted the Ponds Evening Soothe, because those are the ones I'm currently using (and they smell so good!).  Whatever soap they use in these is really easy on the skin, and I'm pretty sure there's not much of it.  However, these take off my make-up really well!  Truthfully, they seem to be slightly moisturizing and make my skin feel really soft. About $6.29 for a 30-pack, but if you buy a store brand I've seen them as cheap as $3.99.
Aveeno Skin Brightening Daily Scrub - Sometimes I get dead-skin-bits that can't be moisturized, and then I need to exfoliate.  This stuff is fantastic and, like most products from Aveeno, is great for sensitive skin.  However, it is mildly drying and I always moisturize after I use this!  All-in-all it does what it's supposed to without destroying my skin, and that's what I need it for!  About $6.99 a tube.
BONUS Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Make-Up Remover - This is my back-up for when I run out of towelettes (which I tend to do every month).  I'm listing it here, because it works, it's just not my favorite.  Even though it's oil-free, it makes my face feel oily after I use it.  About $7.99.

So, there it is!  I hope that there's some useful information in there for everyone!