Friday, December 20, 2013

Traveling by Car with a Baby

Shirt, Leggings, Sweatshirt, Hair Ties, Gray Slippers, PJ's, Baby Boots

Christmas is next week!!! I don't know about you, but I'm not ready. Before cozying up with family, I still need to purchase a few more gifts, wrap presents, and bake Christmas cookies. And some years include a drive to Ohio to be with my family. Since we've already taken a few road trips with Monica, including going to her first wedding, I thought I would share a few tips for those taking their first long drive with a baby.

Allow extra time to make extra stops
Traffic and wintery weather already contribute to longer than usual travel times. Add a baby to the mix and drive times can increase by a few hours. You never know when an atomic diaper will strike, how long naps will be, or if someone will want to eat again. In conjunction with the inevitable diaper changes, we've learned to make time for extra "wiggle" stops. Babies are just like adults in that they want to stretch out and move around after being seated in the car for a while.

Have one person sit in the backseat
One of us I have been sitting in the backseat with Monica almost exclusively since bringing her home from the hospital. 95% of the time, she's a chill baby and fine sitting by herself. But that 5% when she is fussy can be excruciating. To help prevent and combat the fussies, we bring an assortment of toys, books, and a pacifier. Some of the toys are her favorites and others are new things she hasn't played with yet. 

Though sometimes you just have to stop the car. While driving home from a recent trip to St. Louis, Monica took a 1.5 hour nap, which is pretty amazing for her. Not so amazing was when she woke up hangry and wailing. I was driving and we were stuck in traffic on the highway. John was sitting with her in the backseat, trying to soothe and distract her until we could exit the highway. Her bottles were in a cooler and the milk was way too cold to drink. Needless to say, we had to pull over to the side of the road where I could nurse Monica back to happy.

Carry a well stocked diaper bag
In addition to the usual suspects, it's helpful to have extra extra diapers, wipes, diaper cream, outfits, swaddle blankets, and trash bags in your diaper bag. This includes extra outfits for mom and dad because super spit up and explosive diapers seem to happen on the go. And since rest stop bathrooms can be questionable, be sure to bring a travel-friendly changing pad.

Pump on the go
While Monica tends to prefer her milk straight from the source, sometimes it's easier for us to give her a bottle on the road, especially when she gets hungry in between rest stops. Plus, I still feel a little self-conscious about nursing in public. Enter the manual pump or electric pump with a battery pack or car lighter adapter. Then I use the pump and accessory wipes for quick clean up. Freshly pumped milk will then keep about 5 hours at room temperature or 24 hours in an insulated cooler with ice packs.

Try not to pack the kitchen sink
This one is easier said than done, but babies really only need clothes, diapers, and food. If you forget something critical, you can probably buy it on the road or at your destination.

Any other tips you want to share for traveling with a baby?

see more cozy inspiration at {long distance loving}

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Wedding Guest Dress (with a Baby!)

Alexis Bittar earrings and Diane von Furstenberg dress via Rent the Runway
Kate Spade clutch and Banana Republic pumps
Hi, friends! It's been a while since I've joined the Friday's Saturday's Fancies fun and this week's "holiday party" theme couldn't come sooner. My cousin is getting married this month, so I've been brainstorming what to wear.

Most of my dresses are summery or not quite baby/nursing friendly. Thank goodness for Rent the Runway! I have the above dress scheduled for delivery that meets all of my needs:
  • Looks good on a still slightly funky postpartum body: A wrap dress (by the queen of wrap dresses!) is pretty forgiving and they're sending my dress in two sizes.
  • Made of soft material: Sequins need not apply since they'll scratch Monica.
  • Easy access to the boobies: A V-neck or crisscrossed neckline is preferable.
  • I can wear a regular (nursing) bra.

Last time I rented a dress, I was trying to hide a mini baby bump. Now that Monica is here, renting a dress is a fabulous idea because I don't have to worry about being spit up on! RTR includes a small insurance policy with each rental and dry cleaning is also included.

And since the wedding is out of town, I'm having the dress delivered directly to Ohio. Having one less thing to worry about packing is another perk of renting. And then I just pop the dress back in the mail after the wedding.

If you're looking to sparkle this holiday season for a fraction of the price, I highly recommend Rent the Runway. And no, this isn't a sponsored post, I just really like RTR. And if you sign up through my Rent the Runway referral link, we'll both get $20 off our next orders.

Have a fabulous weekend!

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Turkey Burger with Cranberry Aioli

Hi, friends! I've been waiting to share this recipe with you since the summer. John enjoyed the "Thankful" burger at Grange Hall Burger Bar in July and we recreated it a weekend or so later. While the burger was tasty enough to share then, the flavors are a little more appropriate for this week of Thanksgiving.
Speaking of Thanksgiving, I'm extremely thankful for my family this year. Yes, being a parent is hard work, but Monica's smiles, giggles, and overall happiness makes it worth it. I'm also thankful for John and his cooking skills. I often joke that he feeds me (and himself) and I feed Monica, so things are even in the kitchen.
Back to the kitchen...if you'd rather use this burger as a way to give leftovers a new life, have at it! You could easily use a few slices of roasted turkey in place of ground turkey. If you go that route, I would suggest adding some fresh sage leaves to your sandwich.

As for the cranberry aioli, it was super easy to make using the food processor. And I felt very Julia Child in the process.

If you're not feeling that brave (yes, there is a raw egg yolk in there), you can take some leftover cranberry sauce and mix it with mayonnaise and a little minced garlic.

Top your burger (or leftover turkey sandwich) with some muenster cheese, arugula, a healthy slathering of cranberry aoili, and serve it on a pretzel bun. If you are going the leftover turkey sandwich route, I highly recommend melting the cheese under the broiler. 

Thanksgiving Turkey Burger with Cranberry Aioli
Inspired by Grange Hall Burger Bar
Yields 6 burgers


For the burgers:
2 pounds ground turkey
1/2 medium sweet onion, minced
~12 sage leaves, rough chopped
Salt and pepper

For the cranberry aioli:
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
1 cup olive oil
1 cup fresh cranberries*, roughly chopped
1 T sugar

6 slices muenster cheese
6 pretzel buns

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the ground turkey, onion, sage, salt, and pepper. Divide the ground turkey mixture into six patties.

Pulse the garlic, salt, and egg yolk in the food processor or blender.

Slowly pour the olive oil into the food processor or blender on "stir." As the aioli thickens, keep pouring in the olive oil until it's all incorporated. Taste and add more garlic or salt, as necessary.

Add the cranberries and sugar to the aioli and pulse a few times in the food processor or blender. Taste again.

Grill your burgers to desired doneness, adding the cheese at the very end to melt.

Serve on pretzel buns with arugula and cranberry aioli.

*I used fresh cranberries that were previously frozen. Roughly chop, add sugar, and microwave in a bowl for about 15 seconds to thaw.
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Monday, November 18, 2013

Improve Your Credit Score by Increasing Your Credit Limit

Good morning, friends! Coming off of Wednesday's guest post on negotiating lower rent, I wanted to follow up with a way to increase your credit score. Don't know your credit score? A great place to start is Credit Karma. It's absolutely free and you can monitor the progress of your credit score over time.

As last week's post said, 30% of your credit score comes from your credit utilization rate, or how much you owe divided by how much credit is available to you. If your credit card has a balance of $1,000 and a credit limit of $5,000, then your credit utilization rate is 20%. Financial experts recommend keeping your credit utilization rate below 30% for your credit cards individually and collectively.

If you're currently carrying credit card debt, one obvious way to increase your credit score is to pay down your balances and get out of debt. If you need some inspiration, J. Money shared four success stories and links to how they kicked debt to the curb.

But if (and only if) you're responsible with your credit by keeping your credit utilization rate below 30% and pay off your credit cards each month; then it's time to focus on the other side of the ratio by increasing the credit available to you.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from my bank saying that I was eligible for a credit line increase. I provided them with some information and received confirmation of my increase a few days later.

However, you don't have to wait for your bank to contact you. You can call up customer service or fill out an online application to request a credit limit increase. I would recommend calling and using Ramit's script. That way, you can talk with a live person, which tends to speed up the process. Plus, you ask whether they will be checking your credit report as a hard or soft inquiry.

A hard inquiry will show up on your credit report and slightly lower your credit score until the inquiry rolls off after two years. A soft inquiry has no affect on your credit score. It's OK to have a few hard inquiries on your credit report (we have them from refinancing and buying our car), but keep them at 1 to 2 per year.
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Negotiate Lower Rent with These 3 Tactics

Today we have a fabulous guest post from the folks at Zillow about negotiating lower rent. I'm a huge fan of Zillow! We used some of their tools when buying our home over 2 years ago and still enjoy checking out properties on Zillow on occasion. For those still renting, read on! And when you're done, you can search for apartment and home rentals on Zillow.

Most renters assume the advertised price on an apartment is the price they’ll pay, but in most cases additional costs such as deposits, fees, insurance and utilities apply. In fact, the advertised price may only apply to the cheapest available unit. Before getting discouraged, consider that renters may be able to negotiate lower monthly payments depending on demand in their local rental markets. While it takes a little legwork to effectively negotiate the price, it can save renters hundreds -- sometimes thousands -- of dollars throughout the duration of their leases. Here are three tactics to help renters negotiate rent.

Know the market
Consumers who understand their local rental markets are able to negotiate more effectively. Renters should figure out rents charged for apartments comparable to the units they want to or currently rent. If comparable properties charge less rent, then renters may have room to negotiate. In a hot rental market, landlords may receive multiple applications for each unit, with some applicants offering to pay more to ensure they get the apartments. In these competitive markets, renters are generally at the mercy of a landlord’s asking price. In cooler markets, landlords may be more willing to negotiate. 

To determine a fair market price for an apartment, renters should check out the rental section on sites such as, comparing asking prices, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage and amenities such as dishwashers, washer/dryers, balconies, free gyms and courtyard barbeques. Renters should ask around about the rental markets they’re interested in; are the markets easy to navigate, accessible or highly competitive? Research helps renters determine whether they can negotiate rent, and if so, by how much. 

If the landlord is asking a higher-than-expected price, renters can counter with their research when asking for lower prices. Often renters should quote a slightly lower rate than they’d actually pay, as landlords typically counter with a higher price; and the two parties generally meet at a price in the middle.

Demonstrate responsibility
Before renters try to negotiate rent with a landlord, they need to look good on paper. First, renters should make sure they have good credit by checking their credit scores on, which gives consumers one free score each year. Look to correct any errors on credit reports before sending in rental applications. Credit scores range from 300 (very poor) to 850 (excellent); the rating is based on how frequently consumers pay bills on time (35 percent), amount of debt owed (30 percent), how long they’ve had credit (15 percent), new credit applications (10 percent) and types of credit (10 percent). Consumers should work to pay their bills on time and pay down debt to gradually improve their credit scores, as landlords find renters with higher credit scores more desirable.

Landlords also prefer renters with some savings in the bank, as this ensures their ability to pay rent even if they lose their jobs. Renters may also want to print out a list of former landlords’ contact information to provide referrals. Finally, when going to view an apartment, renters should appear groomed and professional in a business-casual outfit. All of this shows a landlord they’re responsible and prepared to take good care of the apartment.

Commit to a longer lease
If the landlord seems resistant to giving a qualified renter with good credit and references a lower rate, the renter can offer renting the apartment for longer than a year. Ask to sign an 18- or 24-month lease in exchange for lower monthly rent. Finding new tenants can be an expensive process for landlords, so many prefer to sign qualified tenants onto longer leases, even if that means a little less money each month. Be committed to the longer lease, as some leases include penalties for breaking the lease, such as paying back all concessions earned throughout the duration of tenancy.

If renting is the best financial decision or simply the most affordable option until consumers can afford purchasing a home, then they should take full advantage of the savings effective negotiating can earn them. To successfully negotiate lower monthly payments, renters should know the rental markets in their areas, improve their credit scores, collect solid references and keep savings in the bank. If those factors don’t lead landlords to offer lower rents, renters can offer to sign longer leases.

Jay Robert is a mortgage writer for Zillow and an associate with Kassoff, Robert & Lerner, LLP, focusing in the areas of elder law, real estate, special needs law and estates.
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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween! infographic: The cost of Halloween

Happy Halloween! I thought I would share this "spooky" infographic I found on about the cost of Halloween. Sure, we shelled out more than the national average on our pumpkin, but spent much less on costumes and candy.

Is Halloween a trick or treat for your budget?
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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

DIY Baby Dinosaur Costume

Halloween is only a few days away! Are you ready? I finally pulled together Monica's costume over the weekend. We went to Target a few weeks ago and were less than impressed at the costume selection for babies. So we picked up the pumpkin onesie she wore to the pumpkin patch and called it a day. The onesie also came with a pumpkin hat, so we figured she would be a pumpkin for Halloween.

Turns out, the pumpkin hat was a tad small (girlfriend has lots of hair!), so it wasn't looking like she was going to be a pumpkin. After brainstorming and creating a quick costume for my work party (thanks to this tutorial), I knew it would be easy enough to whip up Monica's costume.

I present to you, our little Cute-a-saurus!

See also: a DIY baby dinosaur costume that can be made in less than an hour for only a few bucks. If you're still searching for a costume for your little one, grab your sewing machine and get crafting!

  • Hooded sweatshirt (one with a zipper is easier to sew)
  • Two sheets of felt (mine were 9"x12")
  • Thread
  • Fabric glue
    • Note: Not all fabric glues are created equal. Test yours out on a piece of scraft felt first. I tried two kinds of fabric glue (Liquid Stitch and Sew No More) and both drenched the felt. I finally had success with Martha Stewart's glittering glue. The original tutorial said that Aleene's no-sew fabric glue worked well for her.
  • Rotary cutter and cutting mat (or scissors)
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Sewing machine
  • Pins
Cut the felt rectangles in half, widthwise.

You'll now have four 6"x9" felt rectangles.

Fold the felt rectangles in half lengthwise and iron the crease.

It's now time to mark where the spikes will be cut from the felt. I was able to get three spikes from each of the felt rectangles. Along the creased side of the felt, put a mark at 3" and 6". Along the open side of the felt, put a mark at 1.5", 4.5", and 7.5". You can trace a line to connect the marks if you like. Repeat for the other felt rectangles.

Cut out your spikes.

For a newborn-sized sweatshirt, I only needed 7 spikes. Two 9"x12" sheets of felt yielded 12 spikes, so use as many as you need for larger sweatshirts.  

Unfold the spikes and pin them down the center of the hoodie, making sure the crease is in the center. Start with the hood (there's usually a seam going down the center) and work your way down.

Sew the spikes onto the hoodie, following the creases as your guide.

Looking cute!

Apply fabric glue to the spikes, fold together, and let dry overnight. This gives the spikes a little more substance. Or if you don't have time to glue the spikes, you can just tape and fold them together.


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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Why We Spent $9 on a Pumpkin

Hi, friends! Long time, no chat. What's new with you? This past (extended) weekend, I was in St. Louis at FINCON13 to brush up on my financial blogging skills. Before heading back to Chicago, we took a quick trip to Eckert's to go pumpkin picking.  

Lately, I've seen a bunch of blog posts sharing ways to save money on fall activites. One tip was to skip the pumpkin patch and just buy a pumpkin at the grocery store. Ignoring the "expert" advice, we happily drove to the pumpkin patch and gladly parted with our $9. 

Isn't this the most beautiful pumpkin you've ever seen? I won't be offended if you don't think so because...


Sure, we could save a few bucks by buying our pumpkin at the grocery store, but going to a pumpkin patch is about the experience and creating new memories. Memories for me as a new parent and new memories for Monica: driving to the farm in the country, riding the wagon, and choosing our pumpkin in the middle of a field.

And then changing Monica's diaper in the middle of said field and discussing life insurance on the wagon ride back.

Going to the pumpkin patch also included feasting on a giant turkey leg, corn dog, and kettle corn. We don't eat those things on a regular basis, so they're a treat. Plus, giant turkey legs remind me of our trip to the Illinois State Fair when we were still dating and corn dogs remind me of going to Cedar Point with my family.

And know what? Those memories are priceless.
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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hey, Mama!

While financial freedom comes from bigger wins like negotiating a higher salary or refinancing, who doesn't enjoy some freebies? I recently received the Mama VoxBox from Influenster for review, so I wanted to share my thoughts about the goodies.

The Mama VoxBox included Pond's Luminous Finish BB+ Cream in two different tints, a belVita breakfast biscuit, a cup of Annie's Homegrown real aged cheddar mac and cheese, and Dr. Scholl's for Her comfort insoles.

One of my favorite items from the box was the Annie's mac and cheese cup. Last week was a little hectic with John travelling for work and Monica tackling a growth spurt and cold, so this was an easy lunch option. The last time I had instant/microwave mac and cheese was Kraft Easy Mac in college, so I wasn't sure what to expect. It's obviously not fresh-out-of-the-oven homemade or Chicago's Southern Mac and Cheese, but it was pretty good for a convenience item.
Would I buy this item?
Maybe. It was convenient to keep in my desk at work as a back up, but I wouldn't buy it on a regular basis.

The item that surprised me the most was the Dr. Scholl's for Her Comfort Insoles. The last time I bought insoles was over five years ago for my wedding shoes. I popped the insoles into my flats for a quick afternoon of shopping and in my flats at work.
Would I buy this item?
Probably not. While the insoles are comfortable, my feet don't bother me on a regular basis. If anything, I might look into something that prevents the back of my shoe from rubbing my feet.

I was really interested to try out the POND's Luminous Finish BB+ Cream because this is something I wouldn't go out and buy on my own. I've heard all about BB creams, but it's a little hard to break out of my regular makeup routine. 
Would I buy this item?
The jury is still out. With all the hype about BB creams, I was expecting something amazing. I was a little disappointed.
A bunch of dark spots popped up on my face while I was pregnant and I have some pretty good dark circles under my eyes due now that Monica is here. So I still needed to use concealer for extra coverage. And I was feeling a little greasy by the end of the workday.
Maybe if the VoxBox came while I was on maternity leave, it would have had more time to work its BB cream magic. Though I will say, this is a great product for the weekends when I only need a little cover-up.

I was also interested to try the belVita Soft Baked Breakfast Biscuit (i.e. cookie). Chocolate! And carbs! And it has the word "cookie" on the wrapper! Unfortunately, belVita didn't deliver the moist cookie I was hoping for. The "cookie" was a little dry and crumbly and could have used a few more chocolate chips. And while the "cookie" had 20% of my daily recommended fiber intake, it didn't keep me full for very long. Could be all the calories I'm buring from breastfeeding and pumping or it could be the "cookie."

Would I buy this item?
Sorry, belVita, I don't think I'll be buying your breakfast biscuits anytime soon. If I'm looking for something a little more substantial than a granola bar, I'm more likely to grab a CLIF bar.
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Friday, October 11, 2013

Cinnamon Sugar Buttermilk Donuts

I don't know how it is for the other new mamas out there, but I've had more cravings after Monica was born than while pregnant with her. My cravings of choice include ice cream, milkshakes, donuts, cookies, and a myriad of other sweets. I chalk it up to breastfeeding and running.

A few weeks back, I decided to indulge in my donut craving. The weather was starting to turn fall-ish and I associate fall with cinnamon and baking. OK, I fried the donuts, but you get my point.

The great thing about these donuts is that I already had everything I needed on hand. The original recipe called for sour cream and buttermilk, but there are easy substitutions for those. We usually have yogurt in the fridge, so I swapped out the sour cream for Chobani honey ginger Greek yogurt. And you can "make" buttermilk by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of milk and letting sit until it curdles, about 10 minutes.

As for special tools, you really only need a candy thermometer since it's important to keep the oil between 165 - 170*. Nobody wants a burnt donut! I used a plastic cup and old spice jar to cut out the donuts and donut holes.

A bench scraper is helpful, but you can also use a spatula to lift the donuts off your counter. And a slotted spoon, as opposed to a spider strainer/skimmer, can be used to take the donuts out of the hot oil. 

Since I didn't want to indulge too much, I only made half of the original recipe, which was plenty for John and I. The ingredients and measurements below are for the half batch and yielded about 6 big donuts and at least a dozen donut holes.
While these donuts are delicious dipped in cinnamon sugar, they're also pretty fantastic on their own because cinnamon and nutmeg is in the donut itself.

Cinnamon Sugar Buttermilk Donuts
Adapted from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented

Note: This recipe is for a half batch, which makes about 6 large donuts and a dozen-ish donut holes


For the Donuts:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/8 cup (or 6 tablespoons) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I made this a heaping 1/2 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I made this a heaping 1/2 teaspoon)
1 large egg
3/8 cup buttermilk (or 1 1/8 teaspoon lemon juice and 3/8 cup milk, mixed together and let sit until curdled)
2 tablespoons reduced fat sour cream or yogurt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Vegetable oil for frying

For the Cinnamon Sugar:
5/8 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

Line one baking sheet with parchment paper and another with paper towels.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

In another bowl, whisk the egg, buttermilk, and sour cream/yogurt until combined. Add the melted butter and whisk again. The butter might harden once it hits the cold buttermilk mixture, so be sure to whisk the mixture well.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the egg mixture into the center. Gently fold the flour into the liquid until the mixture forms a sticky dough.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle the top of the dough with flour. Pat the dough out until it is about 1/2 inch thick.

Use two round cutters (2 1/2 inch and 1 inch). Dip the larger cutter in flour and cut out the donuts. Dip the smaller cutter in flour and cut the donut holes. Arrange the donuts and donut holes onto the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Continue to pat together the remaining scraps and repeat cutting as many donuts as possible ( I got about 6 big donuts and a dozen donut holes). Chill the dough while you heat the oil.

Pour oil into a deep skillet or dutch oven until it is about 1 – 1 1/2 inch deep. Slowly heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 165-170 degrees.

Mix the cinnamon sugar while the oil heats.

To Fry the Doughnuts
Once the oil reaches the appropriate temperature, gently place the doughnuts into the hot oil. Be sure to only fry about three at time so you don’t over crowd the pot.

Be careful to keep the oil temperature even. Adjust the burner to keep temperature between 165-170 degrees!

Once they have browned on one side, carefully flip them over in the oil. These should take about 2-3 minutes per side. Using a slotted spoon or spider strainer, transfer the donuts to the paper towel lined baking sheet.

Continue with the rest of the donuts and the donut holes. The donut holes will take less time, about 1 minute per side.

Assemble Doughnuts
Once you have finished frying the doughnuts, quickly dip them in the cinnamon sugar. Or just enjoy them au naturel!
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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Wanted: Perfect Black Flats

Top: 1, 2, 3, 4
Middle: 1, 2, 3, 4
Bottom: 1, 2, 3, 4
Friends, I need your advice. My basic black flats have bit the dust. Between years of wear and tear and swollen pregnancy feet, it's time to invest in a new pair. I can easily throw down $100+ for a new pair of running shoes, but am having trouble pulling the trigger on dressier shoes. Beyond that, I'm torn between all of the options: plain vs. embellished, matte leather vs. patent leather vs. suede, rounded vs. pointy, etc.
Do you have a favorite pair of black flats you'd like to share?
see more Friday's Fancies at {long distance loving}

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

An Easy Duvet Cover Update

It's been a little while since I shared a DIY project, no? Let's remedy that with an easy update to a duvet cover or comforter. Truth be told, I first completed this project over four years ago. The ribbons were starting to fall off, so I decided to clean things up a little and share this project with you!
  • Duvet cover or comforter (I bought this light-weight comforter at Target over four years ago)
  • Ribbon, cut to the length and width (plus a few inches) of your duvet cover or comforter
  • Ultrahold HeatnBond, slightly thinner than the width of your ribbon
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape

Before starting, be sure to pre-wash, dry, and iron your duvet cover or comforter.

Next, one of the most important steps of this entire project is to measure the length and width your duvet cover or comforter. I'd do it twice just to be sure. This determines how much ribbon and HeatnBond you need.

One you have your measurements, add a few inches. One, because you'll be folding under the ends of the ribbon for a finished look. And two, because the duvet cover or comforter might stretch out a little while ironing on the ribbon.

Pre-heat your iron to medium heat (wool) setting without steam.
Fold the starting end of the ribbon under 1/2 inch. Place the HeatnBond adhesive-side down/paper side up on the back of your ribbon. Lightly press and hold the iron on the paper side of the adhesive for 2 seconds. Move down the ribbon and repeat until the entire length is bonded.

Go back to the starting end of the ribbon. There will be a loop where you folded under the end of the ribbon. Cut a small piece of the HeatnBond, remove the paper backing, and slide the tiny piece of adhesive into the loop. Lighly press and hold the iron on that section for 2 seconds.

Once the HeatnBond-ed ribbon is cool, peel off the paper backing.
Measure where you will iron the ribbon onto your duvet cover or comforter (i.e. 6 inches from the edge, 3 inches from a second ribbon, etc.). You can pin down the ribbon or recheck the measurements as you iron.

With the adhesive-side of the ribbon down on the comforter or duvet cover, press and hold the iron for 8 to 10 seconds on each section of the ribbon until the entire length of the ribbon is bonded to the duvet cover or comforter. Be sure to start with the looped end of the ribbon.

If you want to do a basket weave pattern, be sure to iron down the appropriate pieces of ribbon first, then overlap as necessary.

Once you get to the other end of the duvet cover or comforter, loop under the end of the ribbon 1/2 inch. You'll need to cut another small section of the Heatnbond. Peel off the paper backing and place the adhesive between the ribbon and duvet cover or comforter. Press and hold the iron for 8 to 10 seconds

Continue ironing your ribbons until your pattern is complete!

This is a great project to customize a plain duvet cover or comforter. You could also use this same technique to embellish simple curtains or basic pillow covers.

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