Monday, October 19, 2015

My Konmari Method Closet Makeover

  I really like clothes.  There are so many tangents I could go off on related to them:  the history of a fabric, the idea of creating a pattern, different fasteners, garment finishes, the memories I have attached to things I've worn, thinking about the history of a thrift store item before I bought it, how to copy and create a "look" I want to wear...I could go on and on.
  Because of all that emotional investment, how can I get rid of anything?
  Because of all that curiosity, how can I stop buying new things? 
  I have had to finally answer these questions because I am running out of space.  I have had to confront what I really want out of my clothing because I want to not only enjoy what I have, but also to be smart about what I bring into my closet from this point forward so I don't neglect to use the things I already have. 
 Organizing what I have into a system where I can see it is what I have needed to do.  I've seen articles and forum threads about professional organizer Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up which is also referred to as the "Konmari method" of de-cluttering and organizing your belongings.
  How you organize clothing drawers is probably the most recognizable aspect of her method.  In the past I folded things like they are folded on shelves at the clothing store.  The variation of the Konmari method is that you flip them over and fold them in half one more time and store them on end, so that everything is visible and not stacked on top of each other.
 Here is my dresser with my T shirts, shorts, and capri-length pants. I am really enjoying being able to get what I want without digging through my drawers to find it:
These are my dresses in the closet before I reorganized.  I had even more dresses in a drawer because there wasn't room to hang them all up:

 I switched to uniformly colored ultra-thin coat hangers from AmazonBasics.  Changing the coat hangers meant I was able to take the additional clothes from my dresser drawer and put them back into the closet.  It's still full but it's more functional now and dresses aren't getting wrinkled from being squished together.  Here's the after photo:

I've always kept my scarves on a hanging scarf organizer, but I switched to a folded, stacked on a shelf method for them so I can see them all at once:

The last bit I'd like to highlight is how I'm sorting my slips and shapewear.  Everything is black or nude, so it all looks the same in the drawer. I put like items into quart- or gallon-sized Ziploc bags and labeled the contents for ease of use.  The drawer also stays more organized because I'm not rooting around it looking for what I want:

  I've been so happy with this organizational approach that I've done the same with my kids' and my husband's closets!
  I encourage you to give the Konmari method a try- if you don't want to buy the book there's lots of other people posting about their experiences on the internet, on youtube and on pinterest to give you inspiration.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Pan Movie Review


 At the beginning of Pan you are told:
Sometimes friends begins as enemies and enemies begin as friends. Sometimes to truly understand how things ends, we must first know how they begin.
  This movie is where we come to learn the story of how Peter Pan ended up at Neverland.  There is a bad guy played  by Hugh Jackman (Or as we call him at my house, Huge Ackman, thanks to his cameo in the third installment of Night At the Museum). There are good guys you can cheer for and still others who you have to categorize under a question mark as you are not quite sure if you can trust them.   
  Since I don't see how I can really talk about specifics of the movie without using spoilers, I can only really say that as we walked out of the theater, my 12 year old daughter and I had enjoyed ourselves.  The movie was a bit ambitious- the plot rolled along with only a few minor lulls but I felt at times that I wanted them to spend a couple minutes more on elements such as Blackbeard and Peter's mother and why the fairies needed Peter (it looked like they were doing just fine at defending themselves when push came to shove??).
  My daughter wanted more closure about Hook and Peter, but I suppose that will come in a sequel if one is made.  She was taken aback by modern songs being used by the characters but allowed that perhaps it could be considered "edgy." 
  The reception to Pan hasn't been amazing, but I certainly think it's good enough for a family movie night.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Alice Bow Insoles Review

  As a grown woman with four children and a life to live, I am a bit embarrassed to admit my fan girl status over Kate Middleton aka the Duchess of Cambridge.  It's not so much that I want to copy her for the sake of copying her but I find that she makes good choices with respect to quality.  Some brands or styles I already wear, others I found out about after reading about them in connection with her.  

  I almost always read reviews online before I buy something, so I look at my few Kate-instigated purchases as a type of review, keeping in mind that there are also times that companies or magazines will throw her name into an article to entice people.  Ultimately I have to decide based on personal preference.

  One such item would be Alice Bow insoles.  I read somewhere that Kate Middleton wears them to stay comfortable in her heels.  I don't know if this is true.  However, I was intrigued by what I read about them and decided I wanted to give them a try.  I don't believe in "suffering for beauty" and prize comfort as much as, or more than, style.

  They aren't cheap at about $20 a pair, but all the same, I decided that if I was going to order them I would get a couple of pairs of high heel insoles in case I liked them.  At the time I ordered them it was noted that there is backlog of orders and it would take some time for them to be delivered to me in the US from the UK.  Believe them: I ordered in July and my order came in September. 

  Regarding sizing:  I wear a size 10.  Sometimes shoe brands call this a 40, sometimes they call it a 41.  I ordered a 39-40 for my insoles because I didn't want to take the chance that a 41-42 would need trimming.  The Alice Bow 39-40 does seem to be a conservative 10, so I think either would work fine but maybe next time I would order a 41-42.

  So are they worth it?  I have to say, I think so.

  My husband and I had a rare night out recently and I decided to put the new insoles into a pair of Stuart Weitzman Nudistsong shoes that I had not worn before.  I've read that Nudist and Nudistsong (height difference is the reason for the name variation) are not the most comfortable shoes to wear, so it seemed like a good choice for the maiden voyage of my Alice Bow insoles.

  I noticed that the balls of my feet felt kind of snuggled down into them even though they don't look very thick.  The insoles worked out really well and I didn't have any soreness in my feet the next day like sometimes can happen after wearing heels all evening. 

  These worked out really well.  Thanks, Kate (maybe?) for the tip!

Thomas & Friends New Movie

  Thomas the Tank Engine is a fixture in our house- My 17 year old loved Thomas when he was little and over the years our collection of trains, tracks and videos has grown as his younger sisters and brother have gone through their own Thomas phase!

  I was happy to get the newest Thomas &Friends movie, Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure, in the mail, but not as happy as my 2 1/2 year old, who ripped apart the plastic cover of the case in his haste to get the it open:

  Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure is a fun movie and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the older kids sat down and watched the film with their little brother.  A new story is always nice!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Tips for Great Wolf Lodge, MagiQuest & What to Pack

Photo: Rob Finch, The Oregonian

 We just made our second visit to Great Wolf Lodge recently.  It's a nice little trip to take with your family.  There's a little bit of everything to do in the water park which is great since there is a real spread in the ages of my kids- from toddler to teenager.

  We also got the hang of the MagiQuest scavenger hunt game on this trip, so it was less frustrating than the last time we tried it.  Since we stayed Friday and Saturday nights the kids also enjoyed the dance party GWL hosts in the main lobby area at 9 PM those nights (Sunday is the most popular day to check in because of better pricing.  We stayed when we did because we had a Groupon).

  On Sunday, when it was time to return home, we ended our last day at the park with what has become our tradition:  one last stand all together underneath the giant water bucket.

What to Pack

1.  Packing for Great Wolf Lodge is easy, and for a family of 6, it's a refreshing change to not have to haul a lot of bags on vacation!  Basically all you need per person is:
  • 2 changes of clothing
  • 2 swimsuits
  • flip-flops or crocs
  • goggles
  • chlorine removing shampoo
  • toothbrush. 
2.  If you have a baby or toddler I recommend swim shoes, because for some inexplicable reason only certain areas of flooring inside the park is slip-resistant.  On this trip my little boy wore
 i Play swim shoes  and they worked out great.  The green was on sale for $9.99 so it wasn't too much of an investment for a little peace of mind.  These aren't the kind of shoes you want to have "room to grow," so order what fits now.  Give yourself enough time that if you need to, you can return and buy a different size. A tip about putting these on:  Put your finger into the loop before you start to give yourself leverage while trying to get your little one's foot inside.


3.  Another item I was really glad to have brought for my toddler was a Disney Hydro Wheels Car.  Over on one side of Fort Mackenzie (the giant water-dumping bucket) there are several jets and water features that create currents the car can follow and jump along.  The cars are plastic and have specially designed wheels, so they don't get lost under water.  I supervised the use of the car and kept an eye out to be sure no one would step on it and slip.  My little boy had lots of fun with it and it kept him busy for quite a bit of time each day.  I actually brought two so I had a back-up in case something happened to the first one:">Disney/Pixar Cars Hydro Wheels Sarge Vehicle</a><img src="" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

Tips & Observations
  Best swimsuit style is a one-piece or a tankini because then you don't have to think about rearranging your swimsuit after a coming out of the tube slide, etc.  Choose swimwear with bright, distinctive colors/styles to make it easier to find your family members at the water park.  In my family, "The Men" wore bright green,  my girls wore matching orange Nike sport-style tankinis :
...and I wore a pink and red striped Speedo one-piece (similar)

1.  Bring your own breakfast items to eat in your room.  For example,  I brought applesauce pouches, fruit cups and Jimmy Dean Pancake on a Stick and kept the box in the little in-room freezer.  Before we went to the hotel we stopped at the near-by convenience store to get some milk and orange juice.  Don't forget to also bring paper plates and cups!  Eating in the room means you can be at the doors when the park opens at 9- the kids loved being among the handful of first guests in the park.
2.   Buy the Great Wolf Lodge souvenir cups which entitle you to unlimited free refills.  There is one for pop and slurpees with a lid and straw as well as one for beer.  You can use them in the park as well as at all the restaurants inside the Lodge.   T
3.  For lunch you can get a pizza from Hungry Like A Wolf near the entrance and take it to your table inside the park, or get hot dogs, etc. at Buckets which is below the entrance level. 
  Dinner the first night we ate at GWL at Lodges, where the kids really like the macaroni and cheese with bacon and Andouille sausage (although they mostly ate around the Andouille.  The second night we walked across the parking lot to Burger Claim. It was really good and inexpensive.  There are a lot of good reviews on Yelp.
How It Works
  On the main floor, in the stairwells and on the first five floors of the hotel there are a variety of objects that can be activated to light up or play a message or animation by using a wand that you buy/activate at the MagiQuest Marketplace.  Once you visit one of the trees by the main staircase or by the arcade, then you will be asked to find certain items in a specific order to solve levels of the quest until you work your way to the "Boss Level" and defeat the bad guy at the end.
1. Use your phone camera to take a picture of the screen the tree will display of what items you need to find to complete the task. 
2.  Document what you see around you on each floor, either on your phone in the notes app, or bring a notepad and pen to use.  You might think you will remember, but trust me:  the crystals come in several colors, and each color has 3 locations, for slow, medium and fast blinking.  They start to blend together after a while. 
3.  If you really get stumped go ask back at the MagiQuest Marketplace and they will tell you.  We did that a couple of times although we didn't show the kids the answer so they could still have fun figuring out the location with an extra hint from us.
4. Consider sharing a wand among the kids and save it (along with your GWL refillable souvenir cups) in a place where you can find it again when you visit again.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Stuart Weitzman York Wedge VS Corkswoon

  Here is a quick comparison between the Stuart Weitzman York and Corkswoon style wedges.  If you are wondering, they are the same shoe except for the difference in heel height:  the York is about 3" high, while the Corkswoon is about 4 1/2".  They are both great shoes- I wear them with jeans or dresses. Pretty versatile.  I sized down a half size in these shoes (both style), and also added a small Dr. Scholl's pad for the ball of my foot to help them stay on comfortably.   I really like these shoes, although I lean towards the York because they are easier to walk in since they aren't as high!

Corkswoon on the left, York on the right.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


  Here is our Breville Juice Fountain Plus juicer- for almost a month now I have been using it and I couldn't be happier with it!  I use it almost every morning to make juice for my kids and myself, and on Friday nights I juice a pineapple so Mr. Mother of Style and I can have a TGIF Mai Tai :).

  For the kids it is pretty much just fruit juice that they want to drink-  apple, strawberry, pineapple, lime, pear and orange in various combos.  After I make their juice I add kale to mine (and sometimes beets, carrots or cucumber).  One of my favorite combinations is pineapple, kale and lime.

  Preparing the produce for juicing is pretty easy.  Cut the rind of off citrus and pineapple and everything can just go straight into the juice without any extra steps besides cutting it into quarters in order to make it fit into the chute.   Less successful fruits have been blueberries and raspberries.  Raspberries were the worst because they just end up being sprayed back up towards the chute instead of going into the pitcher as juice.  I reserve raspberries for smoothies in a blender ever since that unfortunate juicing experiment!

  As far as vegetables go, the only recommendation I have is about kale: I had better results with baby kale leaves than with the curly pieces that are sold specifically for juicing.  The curly pieces just ended up shredded and stuck to the top of the shield, same as the raspberries.  This doesn't happen with the leaves.

  Clean up is pretty easy and pain-free.  First step, before you juice, line the pulp catcher with a plastic produce bag- when you are finished just lift the bag out.  You can either use the pulp in baking or toss it/compost it.  The most important thing is to not let the dirty juicer sit for more than maybe half an hour- if you clean it promptly you can rinse all the parts in 2 minutes and set it on a towel on the counter to air dry.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Kate Middleton Style

photo from

  I really like Kate Middleton's style because she has a knack for choosing items that are flattering and can be worn in different ways and in varied situations.  Not all of what she wears is groundbreaking, true, but I don't think style only has value if it is shocking or unusual.

  Kate wears shoes and clothes that are sometimes similar to what many of us already have in our closets, don't you think?  I think this is why her style is such a hit with lots of people.  A lot of times a particular brand she is shown wearing sells out of the item, but it is a familiar enough "look" that those who want to can find a "repli-Kate" elsewhere in a wide range of prices.  This last factor becomes more important as she begins to wear more high-end designer items or waiting to wear things she has bought until after they are no longer in stores.

  I have recently put together an Amazon store called Kate Middleton Signature Style with clothing, footwear and beauty items that are Kate-related.  Please check it out!

  The sites I like best for Kate related news are:

Friday, January 23, 2015

3 Essentials To Maintain Your Wardrobe

  New stuff is fun to buy, but it can also be enjoyable to spend a little time maintain the things you already have.  Sometimes you might even find that you don't need to replace an item that you thought was toast once it has gotten a little TLC!

#1 Clothing/Shoe Brush

  After becoming a fan of Downton Abbey I read a book called The Butler's Guide to Running the Home and Other Graces by Stanley Ager.  I think it is a book that the writers of Downton Abbey have consulted to get some of the show details right.  Anyway, one of the areas it focuses on is how to clean and maintain shoes and clothing.  Mr. Ager wrote about what types of brushes work best and which direction to brush in, things like that.  I thought it sounded fun, so I bought a Kent brush after looking around online to see what was popular.  Funny enough, about a week later my mom gave me one without knowing I had bought one (I think she was also influenced by Downton Abbey!) so I decided to dedicate one to shoes and the other to clothes. (Kent Brush)

#2 Garment Steamer

I use this all the time: it helps with T-shirts and skirts that have been folded for too long, with pleated tops, a coat that had a bent lapel from being squished in the closet...I really like it.  I bought a hand held model, and when I need to use it I just put what I want to steam onto a hanger and hang it in the shower to hold it up.  (Conair Extreme Steam Fabric Steamer.)
#3 Fabric Defuzzer
This might be a little sad to admit, but this morning I put on this grey sweater and was so happy when I realized it needed to be de-fuzzed.   I bought the defuzzer as a last ditch effort to avoid losing some things in my closet that I like so much:  I defuzzed several sweaters and a fleece North Face jacket.  They all look good as new, and it was kind of fun to lay them out on the bed to work on them while watching the Seahawks.  It was like finding money in a pair of jeans that haven't been worn in while! (Conair Battery Operated Defuzzer.)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Hairy Situation

  My hair has been hit hard post-baby this time around.  I have had lots of breakage and shedding and although I think my hair is starting to come back, I can't be certain yet.  I went in to the hair salon for a trim yesterday and my hairdresser suggested that I do two things:  1) Switch to a cream formula heat protectant and 2) Start taking biotin.
  I have been using a Nexxus spray on heat protectant because I think I get more coverage by using that delivery method.  Maybe it's not working though, since my hair looked dry to the hairdresser?  I ordered Alterna's Caviar CC Cream for Hair 10-in-1 Complete Correction yesterday so we will see what that does for me.  Hopefully something since it was $25! 
  Biotin, which is vitamin B7,  is something I have read about before and I have been on the fence about it since I know some people can have adverse reactions to too much of it.  Too much biotin can lead to acne, an increased risk of miscarriage and can interfere with anti-cholesterol medication.  Eek.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

School Lunch: Week 4

Waffle (leftover from breakfast)
Homemade pear sauce
Crème fraiche
Pork sandwich
Cherry tomatoes

Leftover basil salmon with Rice and Shredded cheddar
Pear sauce
Chocolate graham crackers

Leftover Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef) and Rice
Granola bar
Baked potato salad

Cheese sandwich, Chocolate graham crackers and Raisins
Vanilla pudding
Grapes and Applesauce

Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich
Yogurt w/ pour in Fruit
Apple juice

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wasteful Packaging

I ordered a lipstick from Nordstrom, which offers three free samples with a beauty purchase.  The warehouse split the order, so I received my lipstick and then a day later the samples showed up.  I have to say, after opening all this up:
This felt rather anti-climatic:
About a month ago I received a T shirt on a hanger inside a box the size of a sheet cake.  I don't understand why they don't use mailing envelopes (or smaller boxes at least) instead of such wasteful packaging like this.  If they don't care about environmental impact, at least they would see the business benefit of reducing their shipping costs? 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

School Lunches: Week 3

Broccoli, cheddar cubes,  strawberries, cantaloupe, cherry tomatoes, blackberries and Doritos
Mini oreos in the center

Cherry tomatoes, cheese crackers and strawberries
Pineapple juice
Hamburger sandwich

My version of a "Pizza Lunchable"
Grand biscuit
Sauce bottle with spaghetti sauce
Mini pepperoni and cheese
Peach cup

Ham sandwich
Mini blueberry muffins
Carrots and cherry tomatoes (my kids are going to be sick of cherry tomatoes soon...)
Cheese crackers

Strawberries, apple slices and vanilla cookies
Blueberry yogurt
Cheese sandwich
Mid-way through this week I ran out of drinks to put in the school lunches, so I asked the girls to buy their drinks in the cafeteria during lunchtime instead. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Shrink to Fit Jeans: Not As Easy As It Sounds!

  I like the idea behind a pair of jeans that have been shrunk to fit.  They are something uniquely yours, and no pair turns out exactly the same.  There are lots of tutorials online, and it looks pretty straightforward.  The only thing is, there aren't very many takes on the process from a woman's perspective.  It seems to be pretty much a guy thing.  Why is that?

  After watching a segment about vintage denim on CBS News Sunday Morning I decided I wanted to try my hand at creating my own special pair of jeans.  I read a bunch of stuff online and then went to the store and bought a pair of Levi's 501 shrink to fit jeans two sizes bigger than what I usually buy (because they are going to shrink of course).  I imagined my future self wearing some cool perfectly fit jeans, with naturally-occurring whiskering and creasing that would develop over time around the knees and hips .

  I filled the bathtub with hot water and put the jeans in to soak, then let them drip dry to the point where I could put them on and wear them until they dry.  I think this is a summer only project. 

  But when I put them on after all that effort, I was kinda disappointed.  They were fitted at the waist and hips, but they just don't feel fitted on the thighs.  They feel like bad mom jeans.  I don't think I did anything wrong, it's just the nature of the cut.  I see nice "after" photos of other people's 501s online, but I guess that's the point:  It's more suited to menswear:  not "boyfriend style for her," just boyfriend :).  They are supposed to be looser in the leg.

  I still want a pair of jeans that I could work on to become individualized, so I bought a pair of $9.95 skinny jeans in a dark rinse from H&M that I'm not going to wash for at least 6 months and wear as often as possible to see what happens.  My theory is that since they are inexpensive, the dye isn't going to be as incorporated into the denim, and therefore will become more worn looking overtime, at a quicker pace than other denim might wear down.

  So far there is definite creasing at the ankles, knees and hips.  Nothing faded but it has only been about a month and a half.  I've done some spot cleaning because 1) I spill stuff and 2) I have kids who use me as a human napkin. 

  I like the idea of jeans with some history, we'll see how it goes!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

School Lunches: Week 2


Yellow tomatoes, carrots, salami and babybel cheese
Juice pouch
Cool ranch Doritos
Pistachio pudding

Applesauce pouch
Pistachio pudding
Peanut butter & Jelly on a hotdog bun
Babybel cheese
Pineapple juice


Today the girls wanted different fillings for their sandwiches.  One girl has nutella while the other chose turkey and cheddar.  I rounded the lunch out with yellow tomatoes, babybel and carrots.

Blueberry bagel w/ strawberry cream cheese
Grapes, white cheddar sticks, dried apricots and raisins
Chocolate filled cookies
Water w/ Hawaiian Punch powder

Smoked sausage, white cheddar cubes and cherry tomatoes from our yard (yay!)
Gummy bears (TGIF treat)
Water w/ Hawaiian Punch powder
ready to go....

I'm really liking these little rectangular containers.  They are a great size for school lunches.