Sunday, July 24, 2016

Making a Personalized Travel Quillow

I don't know that quillow is the correct term. It's basically a mini-quillow. What the heck is a quillow? It's a quilt pillow. They're usually much larger (think throw pillow) and quilted with a heaver material. I wanted to make a travel version that was a more comfortable blanket. Blallow? We'll stick with mini-quillow... 

I had a friend who was moving overseas, and I wanted something super functional, but personal. I made an open call to our friends to text/email/drop off very basic messages in thick sharpie. I color corrected them to black/white and added them to a Photoshop file. When I did the color fill I liked how the hearts stayed white. Her favorite color is green, so I went with that! The inside of certain letters stayed white as well, but I filled that in. Who wants a travel blanket with lots of white?! Here's what my square psd file looked like:

I picked a hex code that I knew Spoonflower could use, then I uploaded/ordered some custom fabric from - I don't get any perks from sending you there... just wanting to share a great company! They let you choose the repeat, so I did an offset one. I also ordered custom fabric from them for a first birthday party. They have wallpaper, and all sorts of fabric. I got 2 yards of the modern jersey. This is what the fabric looked like (a bit darker than the image shows):

I found some coordinating minky at JoAnn's Fabrics as the backside.

This is the point where I really dug in and focused on the project, so I didn't take many good pictures. You can find many quillow tutorials online, here are the basic steps I took:

-Measure out 'pocket' to be 2in wider and longer than you want your final pillow to be. 
-put fabric face-to-face and sew them together 1in from the edge(leaving a spot to flip inside out). I added a rope handle so it could go over a roller bag handle. You do not need to top-stitch this mini-blanket (pocket) because it will be sewn down to the blanket.
-It is optional if you want the fabric to match or contrast the blanket. I did one side of each so the pocket blended to the signature side but was the minky zig zag when flipped inside out.

-Make a standard blanket; face-to-face good sides, sew around (leaving a hole to flip it inside out), and DO TOP STITCH this bigger blanket.
-The blanket should be just under 7 times the pocket width and just under 3 times the height/length.

-Sew down 3 sides of the pocket to the blanket. Leave the side in the middle of the blanket unsewn (this is also the side where the handle needs to be).

Sorry again for missing the 'in the process' pictures! It's basically a tiny blanket on a bigger blanket.

The trickiest part about a quillow is folding it. 
-Pocket down.
-The 7x width of the pocket is because you want to fold each side into 1/3s and pile it on top of the pocket It's going to be tucked in, so if you can make it ever so slightly inside the pocket, it'll make your life easier!

Then, fold it down into 1/3s so you end up with a fat pile on top of the backside of the pocket.

Then, you simply invert the pillow. If you make the blanket too big, this is more difficult. The corners will always need a bit of finessing; I find it easiest to put my whole hand inside the pillow and push it to the edges of the pocket.

I ended up with enough fabric to make two, so they got a set of mini-quillows. Here they are at the going away party! We will all miss our friend, and even though we can't all go along, we can be with them in spirit!

Both fabrics are super soft and I'm thrilled with how it turned out!!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Win a Makeover in Woodbury!

Hi guys! I owe you a 'stuff' post, and I promise it's coming. Spoiler alert: May was a BAD month! Something great did happen in May, though... I was given a hair makeover! It has been way too long since I did anything with my hair... my amazing gal moved away and I just let things go. My mousy brown roots were growing out and a few grey were creeping in (eek).

I received a message giving me the opportunity to try out a salon I didn't even know existed! Fiorello's is a super cute salon in the Valley Creek Plaza between Kohl's and Dollar General. It's deceptively large on the inside!

I met Leigh, and let her do whatever she thought best! She liked the 'lob' (long bob) length and took some time to decide on a good color. I've dyed my hair many, many times and I managed to have a nice 3" thick subtle red stripe all the way around! She made sure the ends matched my roots and added some foils for dimension to catch the summer sun. I was super impressed with how thoughtful she was with the color!

Some even better news? Ficocello's is giving away a makeover on their Facebook page! One lucky person will win a free cut, color, and makeup application! Enter for your chance to win, here! *It is a giveaway page link, so it may not work from your cell phone. Good luck!

This post is sponsored by Ficocello's and I was given my own haircut/color in exchange for my honest/independent review!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Shopping with Allergies

A friend recently asked for some help navigating allergens for her son. Shopping has become second nature for me, as I've lived with food allergies for 30 years. I would love to take everyone on a shopping adventure, but I figured a virtual shopping trip would be the next best thing!!

This is by no means an inclusive list, but it's a good set of staples and snacks to help open your mind to allergy friendly items. It's also a good idea to ALWAYS read the labels before they go into your basket. Companies change formulas often and don't often advertise the changes.

The first thing to look at is the label itself. There are three ways manufacturers identify the top 8 allergens (milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy). 
1) The first (and becoming most popular) is to list all allergens in bold as a summary at the end of the ingredients. CONTAINS:MILK, SOY, EGG. This is the easiest to read, but you can't assume you're safe if you don't see this.
2) Some companies will bold/italicize the allergen in the list of the ingredients. This sometimes helps, but at size 4 font it all often looks the same.
3) Unfortunately, many companies don't identify allergens at all
The red/white label here has CONTAINS: SOY and the yellow one overlaid just has cream/milk listed with no identification. 

So, without further ado, here's my milk/peanut/tree nut list of favorites...

Our first stop is Target:

Sunbutter is my favorite peanut butter alternative. From peanut eaters I've heard it's closer than soy butter. Also, they have single-serve packs (new) to add to lunch boxes if you have a peanut-free school! If you're a crunchy fan, they sell it at HyVee or online.

GoGo Squeez apple sauce pouches are a great easy snack. Remember, all fruits and veggies are safe, as long as you aren't eating the allergen itself!

Our house loves cottage bread. Not all cottage bread is milk free, but the Village Heath brand is!

It blew my mind when I realized Oreos don't have milk… nothing in this picture has any dairy!! It's a chemical storm, but allergy friendly. (Peanut butter Oreos are not safe)

Wheat Thins are one of our grab and go snacks!

Most cereals are milk-free. Even the frosted kinds! 

No milk in any of these!

Popcorn and pretzels are a great allergy-free snack! Just be sure to avoid the cheddar version of both.

Breakfast on the go? Milk free!

Van waffles have organic and gluten free options, and have no milk!! They are kosher, don't contain artificial colors, cholesterol, egg or soy/corn. It's one of the most allergen friendly buys! Blueberry is our favorite, but the apple cinnamon is yummy as well.

Compared to Eggos that have all sorts of other allergens (and 7 grams of sugar to Van's 3):

You have to keep a close eye on things; these turkey meatballs are safe (and delish) but the italian style and beef versions contain milk.

The Immaculate brand and Annie's are mostly milk free. Seriously; fudge brownie cookies have NO DAIRY!!! Everything in this picture is safe.

Most margarines are safe because they're just oil. Earth balance was what we use for the kids (there's a soy free option).

I have a love/hate relationship with soy milk. Silk has lots of options, but is really high in sugar.  17 grams of sugar in chocolate soy milk!! Since we are a nut and milk free house, Almond & Cashew milk are out. Rice milk is super watery and also high in sugar. Some kids can handle goat's milk, but it's harder to find and you'll want to run it by your doctor.

I forgot to take a picture, but in their freezer section they have the So Delicious fudge mini bars and ice cream. A great dairy-free treat! I haven't tried the yogurts yet, but they're a great alternative if your kids are used to yogurt. 


Now some Trader Joe favorites:

We eat their Mandarin Orange Chicken at least once a week. It bakes on a sheet pan in the oven and we pair it with rice and veggies! The Beef on the left is also safe and yummy.

Their Cherry Chocolate Chip soy ice cream is sooooo yummy, but really bad for you. My kids inhale the tiny ice cream sandwiches. There used to be a chocolate kind, but our store stopped carrying them. They have a good coconut milk ice cream selection as well!

These are the best school snack! Free of all major allergens and delicious. There isn't much in the box though… so not an economical buy. 


Our kids live on these. They are always so gummy and have a fresh flavor. The sugar content is also less than most other gummies (with a shorter ingredient list). I saw them at Sam's Club last time I was there, too.

We buy our soy milk by the case. They used to have a plain kind, but the vanilla actually has less sugar. They store at room temperature, so they're great to throw in a backpack for the day until we have to open them. 

Many of the treats at Target are also here (and I get fuel rewards - wahoo!!). These 'fudge' bars are the current favorite treat:
Bonus for HyVee is grocery delivery (with the option for no substitutions) so you can have all your allergy free goodness delivered to your doorstep!

Remember, this is just a partial list. We also eat pasta, meat/chicken and lots of fresh fruits & veggies. It's just a starting place with some of our favorites!!

Good luck, and happy eating!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Breaking the Rules

Hello internet friends (and real friends). I've been really bad. Bad about blogging, bad about buying…Yes, we broke the rules. Intentionally, and well thought out. 

As the weather slowly (way too slowly) warms up, we are finding ourselves outside more and more. The kids have lots of balls, and bikes, but nothing to keep them entertained for very long.

The husband and I thought about it, and decided to break our rule and buy some outdoor toys. So, I present our newest back yard additions:

I highlighted the zip line in purple, so you can see it better. We don't have a huge slope, but enough to make it a fun ride for toddlers.

Can you see the joy on his face?! We got this zip line.

Slack lining is super fun as well. We got this one

Maybe I'll make a post about installing them. It was fairly easy, and I installed them both myself within an hour.

I don't feel too guilty, since the purchase didn't bring any stuff into the house. I also like that it made us think so long and hard about a purchase. I hope you're all having a warmer spring than we are!

**The links in this post are Amazon affiliate links and if you buy either of these cool things I get a fraction of some cents. haha

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Detox - The Food Kind

Sorry for the hiatus; is March nuts for other people?

The no buying thing is still working out. Unfortunately, I've replaced my buying stuff errands with buying food errands. So, I've gained back almost 1/2 of the weight I lost last year. So, it's time to detox.

I'm not a doctor, and I can't tell you if my plan is healthy for everyone, but I hope it works for me! I have a sugar monster… and the Easter grocery store mania doesn't help. A friend posted that they were doing a Whole30 detox which got me on the kick. I've done the 21 day sugar detox before, and it was AMAZING! Click here for the book

I wanted to do something a bit different this time, and I wanted to do something focused on resetting my gut. I did some shopping, and here is my plan:

Each day will start with a detox drink. 1/4 cup no-sugar-added cranberry juice and a tablespoon each of apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. You can dilute it if you want, but the lemon cancels out the ACV and the cranberry juice is just really tart. 
Why these ingredients? Cranberry is great for the lymphatic system and cleaning the kidneys. Apple cider vinegar helps decrease inflammation, detox the liver and improve circulation. Lemon juice helps the immune system and aids digestion. 

I plan to almost exclusively eat chicken, so to help with boredom, I cooked a variety of flavors. 
Herb, balsamic, and lemon pepper to be exact. I always cook chicken with low-sodium organic broth in the oven at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. I did all 3 at the same time, so I increased the time to an hour.

I LOVE cooking in my Pyrex dishes. I threw away most of my plastic storage a while ago, for chemical issues, and replaced it with this set. I like that they can go from oven to fridge:

I'll also have one of my favorite protein drinks each day. I get these from the Vitamin Shoppe, but they sell them online, too. I like the Orange best, but the Alpine Punch and Grape are also good. For 160 calories, 40g of protein, and no sugar, you can't beat it!

**If you purchase anything from any of the links in my post, I may receive small financial compensation from the selling company. I haven't been paid to post or use any of the products, I just want to share what I love with all of you!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Ode to Stuff Not Purchased

On the way to electronics for watch battery selection,
I passed through the leisure and children’s sections.

Toddler shirts were adorned with shamrocks and gold,
And I caressed the softest pajama set I ever did hold.
(Seriously… I hugged it for a good minute)

Everything was so cute I couldn’t turn my eye,
Without landing on something I wanted to buy.

I whipped out my phone, and texted my mom,
Who said to move quickly, get out, and be strong!

I survived the trip, but was a little bit sad,
Would just a few items have been so bad?

Later that night, when putting the laundry away,
My feelings turned to pride for the events of the day.

I found myself smiling and became quite pleased,
All the clothes fit nicely in the drawers with great ease!

The anxiety of excess is becoming a memory,
Just like those unpurchased items from Target will be.

Buying the stuff is no longer worth it,
It’s better to not have a house full of … stuff.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Simple Sock Sort

Since it's been fairly easy to not buy things, I figured it was time to turn to some de-cluttering. Every time I get socks, I have to dig through pairs I haven't worn in years. After laundry day, the drawer needs to be stuffed down to close.

I figured socks would be a good project, because there is no emotion in footwear. I first sorted them into types of socks: short, tall, boot, compression, house slippers, etc.

Then I went through each pile and kept my favorites; the rest were left to form a give away pile. I got rid of 15 pairs of socks and about 20 pairs of underwear (some went to the trash because they had lived a good life, but others were in great shape - just styles I no longer wear). 

It's a bit hard to tell, but the two sock drawers are only 2/3 full, so they're less of a hassle to deal with (and all the laundry is done). There are still some socks in the mix that I haven't worn in years, but I get nervous making serious purges. And I may need St. Patrick's Day boot socks one day, right?! March is just around the corner.

Can you think of anything in your day that you just deal with instead of fixing?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Paper Purge

I'm a paper hoarder… I keep receipts and all sorts or paperwork. Our file cabinet has been full for a long time and has slowly been expanding into stacks in the corner of our office. I had hoped that a fast pass through would clear up some space. I was blown away by how much useless stuff I had kept!

Anyone think I need a 2008 copy of my receipt and BlackBerry UPC label? 

How about an empty check register log with 2007-2009 calendars? I also had two full boxes of checks that still had my maiden name and an address at least twelve years old. I wonder how many times I've paid people to move those! See the giant pile I amassed?!

Most of the files contained sensitive information, so I had to do some shredding. I emptied the shredder basket 4 times, and had to take a 15 minute pause about half way through when the motor overheated. I filled a full grocery bag with generic recyclable trash and had a pile of emptied folders. 

Since I've already given up buying 'things' this year, for the next 40 days I'm adding something healthy instead. I'm going to run/walk/bike 3 miles every week day. The weekends will be reserved for disconnected family time! Curious about the scoop behind my year of not buying? Check out the original post here.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Super Easy Valentine's Day Cards

I'm a sucker for Valentine's Day… it's so cute and fun for the kids! Last year I had some serious mommy guilt because it slipped my mind and I forgot cards for their class party. They were too young to notice but mommy guilt usually comes from ourselves anyway.

This year I wanted something simple; so when this idea popped up on my Facebook feed I knew it was a winner! I didn't save the link, so I can't give proper credit.

I took a picture of each kiddo with a fist in the foreground, printed them at Walgreens for 40% off, took an Exacto knife and made a slit above and below the fist, and inserted a DumDum (the kids' favorite treat and free of all allergens for other kids in the class).

I'm super thrilled with how they turned out, and for the 60 cards and candy I spent less than $10. With hindsight, I would have dug out my serious camera (these came from my phone) and taken better pictures. These capture real life, and they're likely headed straight for the trash once the Dum is consumed, so I'm not too bothered by the pictures.

Have an awesome day!