Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Top 3 Eco-Friendly BRC Products

Happy Earth Day!

Taking care of the earth can be done in big or small ways.  While it's great to participate in beach clean-ups and tree plantings, sometimes it's the little, everyday choices that can create the biggest change.  By tweaking our daily habits some of our most ordinary daily routines can become a little more eco-friendly.  Here are a few of my most eco-savvy items that can help you leave less of a footprint on our earth, little by little:

1.  Coffee Cup Cozy

Now, of course it's better to bring your own cup to your favorite coffee shop.  But sometimes you forget, and when you are traveling it's not so easy.  Or if you are like me, it's not too hygienic -- I always forget to wash the cup in my car until it's growing like a science project!  Enter these fun little coffee cozies.

They may not seem like a big deal when you are using a paper cup already, but every little bit helps.  In 2011, Starbucks alone used (and their customers promptly discarded) almost 3 BILLION of their cardboard cup sleeves.   That's a lot of excess paper going into landfills and a lot of trees being cut down!

2.  Plastic Bag Holder

Again, not the most green sounding item, but this item encourages multiple uses for what is usually a single use item.  I typically use my reusable bags, but I still end up with a few plastic bags here and there that I like to save and reuse.  And now with many cities and counties banning plastic bags, there is even more of a reason to save and hoard the ones you do get!

3.  Ice Cream Cozy

This one may be a bit of a stretch, but it does eliminate the need for a bowl, which saves water, energy to heat the dishwasher and...saves soap and .... ok, it's not the most earth-friendly item out there, but it's awfully handy!  No one likes frozen fingers!

And coming soon...

I'm working on several new products using up-cycled denim jeans.  Repurposing used items that would usually get thrown out is a great way to reduce landfill waste and also create something fun and new.  Check back soon for pics of the new items!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Flair on the Farm Holiday Boutique & Craft Show Display Ideas

It's that time of year again!

Saturday, November 22nd is another amazing show at Flair on the Farm.  I will have a booth there again this year and I'm so excited!  It's my favorite show of the year!  

I was thrilled to be able to participate in Flair on the Farm Spring Fling show in April as well.  Their shows always have great attendance and an amazing selection of vendors.  The Spring Fling show was no exception and I'm sure the Holiday Boutique will be even better!

My booth at the Spring Fling show in April 2014.

Vendor booths along side a rustic farm building.

The setting is rustic and charming!  Set on an actual working farm, there are vendors inside a antique barn and also outside on a manicured lawn area.

Shoppers outside the historic barn.

The spring show boasted over 60 vendors, a wine and mimosa bar, a food truck and tea stand.  The holiday show is expected to be another great one, with the addition of a gift wrap booth, dessert vendors and more.

My craft show display ideas and tips...

Each show is a challenge for me to find new and better ways to display my items.  I'm constantly adding and changing elements and no two booths are ever the same.

This past show, I had a lot more tea towels and had to be creative in finding ways to display them.  I finally settled on this clothesline approach.  I liked the way it separated my booth from my neighbor's booth without feeling like a wall. 

I also had extra towels laying on the table, but found I had to constantly fix the display after customers went through them or after the wind picked up.  I'm still thinking about a better way to display the towels.

For some of my smaller items, I used assorted tins and dishes to corral the individual pieces.  Paper gift tags were used for my pricing.  I've found if your items aren't priced you end up repeating yourself so many times during the show, it's better to label everything from the very beginning!

These wooden apple crates were a new item I added to my displays for this show.  They were an inexpensive and easy way to add some height to my display.  I found them at a local craft store on sale and spent less than $20 for two.  Eventually, I'd like to paint or stain them a nice color, but in the meantime they still look nice in the natural wood color.  Bonus--I used them to haul in other display pieces from my car!

Another thing I like to have at my shows is a little bowl of candy and a big stack of business cards.  The candy lures them in and the cards are a great way to get follow-up business.  This little mug was from my grandmother's set of dishes and it was just right for holding some hard candies.  The card holder was purchased off of Etsy from a shop called Creative Works.

Gorgeous farm buildings against a bright blue sky.

This show is one of my favorites and always has a unique selection of vendors.  Plus you can't beat the gorgeous setting.  It's a bit of a drive out to the country, but it's well worth it!  Hope to see you out there on Saturday, November 22nd!

My new friend, the blind barn cat.

View of the farm from the road.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Stitch Fix Box #3

I received my third Stitch Fix box last week, and this box was my favorite by far!  

If you aren't familiar with Stitch Fix, it is a personal shopping service that delivers your style fix straight to your door.  The selections are based on a detailed profile you fill out when you sign up with your sizing, preferences and colors you like.  Once the items arrive, you have 3 days to try them on and decide if you want to keep them or send them back.  If you send everything back, you only pay a $20 styling fee.  If you keep everything, your styling fee is deducted AND you get 25% off.  You can schedule your "fixes" to come monthly or less frequent if you like.

This month's box included 3 tops, 1 pair of jeans, and one cardigan in fun spring shades.  This is my first box without a scarf or accessory and I feel it was the best value because it contained only clothing pieces.

The box included coral skinny jeans again!!  Even though the website does not guarantee being able to exchange sizes, my stylist was able to resend the same jeans from last time in the next size up.  They fit much better (I could breathe this time!) and I decided to keep them.  The blue and white striped racerback tank was a great color and pattern for me, but it fit kind of weird at the bottom where the seams were.  I wasn't wild about the fit.

The second tank in the box had a polyester, chiffon front and a navy knit back.  I really liked the pattern  and it fit well, the knit back made it super comfortable.  It will be great for layering or wearing on its own.

The third top was a beautiful green knit top with a twist back detail.  The photos don't depict the brightness very well, but it's a really nice bright green.   There is a bit of chiffon fabric on the upper back as well.  I think I will get a lot of wear out of this one!

Lastly, I received a coral open front cardigan sweater.  I tried it on with my regular jeans, coral head-to-toe is not a good look.  It paired well with all the tops in my box.  I even tried the striped blue tank with it and found the tank looked better layered.  I probably would have sent it back though if I didn't love everything else in the box.   It was priced pretty high for a cotton tank top, but if you purchase the entire box you get a discount, so sending it back would have cost me more in the end.  

So that was box #3 for me.  I have had the same stylist for the last two boxes and I think she is doing well picking pieces I will like.  I can tell she's been checking out my Pinterest board too.  I have another box scheduled for next month, hopefully I get another good one!  Thanks for checking it out (and please excuse the smudged-up mirror! I didn't notice it until I loaded the pictures.  Darn kids!)

If anyone would like to give Stitch Fix a try, please use my referral code:
I get a credit towards my next fix for each of my friends who use the code.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

Craft Show Display Ideas #2

The spring craft show season is almost here!  I'm scouring Pinterest and going through my photos of past events and looking for ways to improve my displays.  My booth is different each time I do an event, and over the years it's evolved and changed.

Last November I was honored to be chosen as a vendor for the fall Flair on the Farm show and I think this booth was my best yet!   This was an outdoor event so I used a large canopy with a white backdrop to separate my booth from my neighbor behind me.

I made a fun fabric scrap garland to decorate the back wall of the booth and hold my sign.  I really like how that helped identify my booth and added some shabby flair.  For my upcoming shows I am going to work on improving my sign with a bit more homemade character.  Maybe embroidery? Or applique?

This was also the first show in a while that gave me a full 10ft x10ft booth.  I thought I would have so much room, but there just never seems to be enough!  I was one table short of what I needed so I ended up using my chair to display items. (I reclaimed it later in the day when my feet were tired!)

I was also given the challenge of a corner booth, so my other side of the booth had to be viewable from two sides.  This ended up being pretty challenging, I spent a lot of time shuffling things around.  I also wanted to be careful what items I placed on that table to detract from any possible theft.  The benefit of this corner location was a lot of traffic which outweighed any display challenges!

I put smaller items like rings and hairpins inside the booth where I could keep my eye on them. (Recognize that hairpin board from this post? I'm still so impressed with that late-night creation!)  Trays full of black beans provided an interesting display for the rings.   The shutters I found at a garage sale a while back helped hang some totes and added some height to the display.  I also had a sale basket on the ground with odds and ends that I wanted to get rid of.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with how this booth turned out.  I think I need to add at least one more table, or two, and maybe some more height for visual interest.  I really like this idea using those cheap wooden crates from craft stores.

I will be participating in the Flair on the Farm Spring Fling show coming up this weekend.  My booth is in the center of an aisle so my set-up will have to change.  I also plan on using another table and some new display pieces.  I will be taking lots of pictures of my booth this time so you can see how it all turns out.

If you are local come say hi to me at the show!  Here is the info:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Flair on the Farm Spring Fling

I'm pleased to announce that I will be a vendor at the Flair on the Farm show on April 26th.  This show takes place on an actual working farm, out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields of row crops and gorgeous foothills.  The historic barn and surrounding grassy areas will be filled with vendors showcasing amazing wares.  This show is a class act and there is always a huge crowd of eager shoppers.  Arrive early to get the best parking and get in line, the early bird gets the worm (or at least the cutest stuff!)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Travel with Kids - Travel Laundry Bags

We are in the midst of Spring Break season and I know a lot of families use this time to schedule a fun family vacation.  In the planning stages it sounds fun and relaxing, but traveling with kids is totally different experience than adult travel.  There is a whole different set of necessities and items needed for a peaceful, relaxing and fun vacation.

In addition to all the toys, snacks and electronics needed for the car or plane ride getting there, there are also little things that can make your destination with kids a bit more tolerable.

When we stay in hotels, we always seem to have a dirty laundry problem.  Maybe it's just my kids that haven't learned how to live out of a suitcase properly, but we inevitably run into the same problems every hotel stay.  The dirty clothes end up getting piled up into a corner, or worse mingled back into the suitcase with the clean clothes.  By the end of the stay there is a pile of stinky dirty clothes to try to stuff back into a suitcase.  If I wanted to stare at piles of laundry, I could have skipped the vacation and just stayed home.

Some hotels provide the little plastic laundry bags that I think you are supposed to use for the in-hotel cleaning services, but we usually end up using them for our own dirty laundry to take home.  But they must be the thinnest plastic ever made because they ALWAYS end up busting open when we stuff them too full.

Enter these nifty little bags I made up for the boys.  They are just simple drawstring bags, sized about 18" x 24" with a cotton cord drawstring closure.  They will hold most of the kids dirty laundry for a 3-4 day trip and can easily be hung on a doorknob or chair to keep the hotel room nice and neat.

BONUS: Upon repacking, just toss the bag into the suitcase and you don't have to touch the dirty clothes and it will keep them separate from any unworn clean clothes.  (I tend to overpack with kids, and I hate having to wash everything when we get home because of contamination, LOL.)

If you want to make your own, free tutorials on drawstring bags are easy to find online.  Ours are just basic bags because I was in a hurry, but you can customize these and make them as simple or embellished as you like.  Color-blocking, contrasting lining, appliques or embroidered monograms would make these bags truly special as well as functional.  I used a cotton cord for the drawstring (it reminds me of a clothes line), but you could also use ribbon or make a fabric drawstring.  The possibilities are endless!

Or if you are not a seamstress, there are very cute ones for sale on Etsy.  I love this bag by Swoon.  Just search for "drawstring bag" or "laundry bag" and you'll get lots of handmade options!

Happy (and organized) traveling everyone!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Attempt to Dress Fashionably

Over the last 15 months or so, I have been on a weight loss journey and have avoided buying clothes as much as possible.  I didn't want to waste money on clothes that were in a size that I wouldn't be in for long.  Now that I am pretty much at my goal weight (just a few more pounds to go), I feel comfortable buying some things in my new size.  (Plus I am tired of constantly washing the only two pairs of pants that fit me right now)

I am a serious online shopper.  My UPS man probably hates me.  Or loves me for the job security.  I don't really like shopping in person because I get frustrated trying to find things and I'm usually crunched for time.  I'd much rather type a phrase in the search bar, and find what I need in a few seconds.  I've gotten a feel for styles that fit me well and try to avoid the styles that are more risky and trendy to avoid dealing with returns.  The only problem is that gets a bit boring after a while sticking with the tried and true.

Enter a service called Stitch Fix.  A friend posted about it on Facebook and it had me intrigued.  It's an online personal stylist who selects five items for you to try.  The selections are based on a detailed profile you fill out when you sign up with your sizing, preferences and colors you like.  Once the items arrive, you have 3 days to try them on and decide if you want to keep them or send them back.  If you send everything back, you only pay a $20 styling fee.  If you keep everything, your styling fee is deducted AND you get 25% off.  You can schedule your "fixes" to come monthly or less frequent if you like.

My first "fix" was last month, and I was so nervous about it, but I was pleasantly surprised.  I liked most of the items, and even really loved a few.  I was on the fence about one item, but decided to keep it to get the 25% discount.  

My second "fix" arrived today and I thought I would document it to share what it is like.  Stitch Fix is located in San Francisco, so when I got the shipping notification yesterday, I knew it would be here fast!
The packaging is modern and cute!

I was so excited, it was like Christmas morning!  I have to admit, I cheated a bit and peeked at my online account yesterday to see what I'd be getting.  They don't show pictures, but I knew what styles were being sent.  It kind of ruined the surprise, so I don't think I'll be doing that again...if I can help it!  

In addition to the items, your package includes a prepaid shipping envelope for the returns, your invoice for the items, a note from your stylist and these fun style cards.  They give you ideas for styling your items in different ways.  Super helpful for the fashion challenged like myself!

This shipment included a pair of colored skinny jeans, 2 tops, a scarf and a dress.  I loved how it was all coordinated and Spring-y!  I couldn't wait to go upstairs and try it all on!

I had gotten a pair of the same jeans in my first box and just happened to be wearing them today.  They were a touch snug, but loosened up as I wore them.  The fabric is nice and soft, and a bit thinner than other skinny jeans I own, but in a good way.  They are comfortable to wear and a good length, maybe even a bit on the long side.  Here they are today, with a flannel shirt I already owned and my brown boots.

Unfortunately the coral pair I received today did not fit as well as the first pair.  They were the exact same size and style, but super tight.  I got them buttoned, but it was just not a flattering or comfortable look.  The color was out of my comfort zone, but I probably would have kept them if they fit a bit looser.  I'm just not into the painted on jeans look.

I tried them on with this striped dolman style top.  It was a bit sheer, but the fabric had a nice texture and I loved the color.  This one is a keeper for sure!

Next I tried on the dress.  It was a soft cotton fabric, lined nicely, and had an elastic waist and keyhole button back.   Dresses are a hard fit for me because I have a larger sized top than my waist size.  So when this dress was a bit snug in the top I wasn't really surprised.  I really, really wanted to like this dress because it was super cute.  I even tried it with one of my belts (note to self: buy new smaller belts), but I just didn't find it flattering.  Bummer.

Next I tried on this navy, flowy shirt covered in white hearts.  I wasn't wild about the hearts, but I thought I may change my mind once I tried it on.  Nope.  Not my style.  The shirt itself was fine, although the button pulled a bit at the chest.  I just felt the hearts were too young of a style for me, I would have preferred just regular polka dots.  I tried the shirt on with the jeans again and confirmed my decision on the jeans when I saw the back view.  So not flattering.

Finally, I threw on the scarf to get a picture of it, and paired with the shirt and the pants it's a bit overwhelming.  But I love the chevron print and the coral/pink color.  It's super light and soft, perfect for Spring.  I'll be keeping it too!

So overall, I was happy with my second box.  I'm a little bummed everything didn't work out, but it was still fun to try new things and get a few pieces that will work for me.  I can't wait to get my next box!

The winners........and the losers!

When you fill out your profile you set your pricing preferences, I had most of mine in the middle to low range.  To buy all five of my items in this shipment it would have been $198 after the discounts.  For just the shirt and the scarf it was $64.50 (includes $4.50 tax for CA residents).  That's probably a bit more than I would have paid for them in person, but it was still fun to try new things and you can't beat the convenience.  As they get a feel for your style and get feedback it's supposed to get better, so I think I will hang in there for a few more tries.

If any of my readers want to sign up and give Stitch Fix a try, you can follow this link.  I get credit towards future "fixes" for each person who signs up through my referral link. :)