Tricks

How to Fix Broken Blush

  So I expect that plenty of you have found yourself in the same situation I did this weekend.  I was getting ready for the day and R was crawling around on the floor and he went for something he wasn’t supposed to have…and while I grabbed for him, my blush flipped upside-down, the circle of blush fell out of the pan and onto the floor, shattering into a bunch of little pieces.

  I about cried.  It was a brand new, fancy-pants, certainly-overpriced mineral blush, and it was now in a bunch of chunks on my bathroom floor.
  I’d seen a couple of pins on Pinterest about how to save it, but I wasn’t sure…would it work?

  Happily, yes!
  I dumped all the chunks back into the pot, dripped a small amount of rubbing alcohol on top to moisten up the really powdery bits and used a small knife to smooth it all out.  I set it up on a high cabinet (to keep curious fingers out of it) and let it dry.  By that afternoon it was ready to go again.
  Now, it’s not the prettiest solution…I, of course, couldn’t rescue the pretty little flower that had been pressed into the top originally or make it nearly as smooth, but it’s a nice, solid pat again that I can swirl a decent amount of blush off of, instead of getting clown-like amounts of pink powder.
  Long story short, if/when you drop one of your eyeshadows or blushes, don’t hesitate to try this out!

The House Always Wins- Creating a Mini-Economy to Improve Behavior

  A few weeks ago, G started to earn his first allowance.  To be clear, we’re not talking about boring, plain ol’ green money, but bright red poker chips.  G is thrilled.  Red is his favorite color.
  As R is getting older, he’s needing more and more attention and it was getting hard to take care of everything he needs and everything G wanted me to do and not collapse from exhaustion halfway through the day.  There are only so many times Mommy can clone herself to be in 3 places at once before lunch.  G’s allowance is part of a system we’ve put in place that is simultaneously giving me a breather, teaching him about money, improving his counting skills and cutting down on some of his whining about wanting to watch tv.
  One of the biggest behaviors that we were hoping to curtail with this approach was G’s need for “company” while he uses the bathroom.  He’s a social little guy and he figured out pretty quickly that he can have a captive audience to yammer at if they’re waiting for him to use the potty.  That means that using the toilet inevitably takes him 10 times longer than it should while whoever is keeping him company is trapped in the hallway outside the door, unable to do anything else while he chatters away at them.  He was potty trained months before R was born…he doesn’t need help anymore, he just likes the attention.
  Neither my Mr or I have a problem per say with keeping him company, but he wanted it every single time he used the bathroom and would throw a fit when we didn’t.  It wasn’t a great situation.  So, I told G we were going to start something new and handed him 3 poker chips.
  It works like this: every morning he gets 3 poker chips.  He can spend his poker chips however he wants or save them all day long, but certain things have prices.  If he wants someone to keep him company in the bathroom for instance, he has to pay them 1 poker chip…in which case we’ll be happy to accompany him.  However, if he saves his poker chips and builds up 5 of them, he can pick to watch a show at some point during the day when he normally wouldn’t be allowed to watch tv.
  This is working beautifully so far.  He still occasionally wants one of us to keep him company in the bathroom, but for the most part he has started going by himself…and far more quickly than when he would sit and talk to us.  The tantrums have evaporated because it’s his choice to save the “coins” instead of having company.  He watches a teenie bit more television now, but not much, seeing as he can’t earn an extra show more often than every other day, but best of all, his begging for tv is gone.  Before we implemented this system I was hesitant to let him watch any television besides the 1/2 hour he gets with his lunch.  If it wasn’t part of a routine it always unleashed a tidal wave of begging, whining and tantruming while demanding he be allowed to watch more for days afterwards.  Now, all I have to say is “do you have 5 coins?” and the discussion is over.
  The behavioral changes alone are enough for me, but as an added bonus, we’re also teaching him how money works by doing this.  He is responsible for keeping track of his coins.  Sometimes people lose their money, and once already, G lost a coin.  It made the difference between his being able to afford a show and not being able to afford one.  I happily helped him look for the coin, but refused when he suggested I just go get him another one since, basically, I knew he was supposed to have another one.  Sorry kiddo, nobody is going to hand over that Armani suit jacket you want just because they know you’re supposed to have the money to give them, even if you can’t quite remember what you did with it…  In the same vein, we’ve discussed that he can’t have more coins just because he wants them either.  He counts out his coins to pay for things and we’ve discussed the importance of making sure you’re paying accurately as well…that nobody is going to let you pay with too little, but that sometimes if you accidentally give someone too much, they may just keep it.  Good encouragement for him to make sure he’s really counting correctly!
  So far we’re keeping the system really simple.  He’s only 3 and there are a lot of new concepts involved in all this, so we don’t want to overwhelm him, but it has the potential to develop lots of nuance that will teach him the basics of money and discourage frustrating behaviors.
  Have any questions about how we’re making this work?  Leave me a comment or send me an email!

How to sew a French Seam

  Since the yoked top I was working on the last few weeks was all french seams, I thought I would walk you guys through how to do them.  They seem fancy and they give a beautiful finish to the inside of your garment, but they’re incredibly easy to do.  It takes a little bit of extra time, but especially if you’re working with a fabric that shreds and frays a lot, it makes such a difference in the end product.

  Now, like I said, these are crazy easy to do.  If you can sew a straight line and not burn yourself when you use the iron (or hey, even just mildly burn yourself) I promise you can make French seams.
  We’re going to start by placing the WRONG sides of the fabric together and stitching about 1/4″ from the edge.  If you’ve been sewing for a while this is going to feel like you’re committing a cardinal sin, but cool it Betsy Ross, it’ll all be okay.  
  Next, you want to take some good, sharp scissors and trim your seam allowance closely to the seam you just stitched.  Obviously don’t clip it so close that the stitches immediately fall out, but don’t worry too much about it, because any tension on the seam from wearing is going to be on the next seam we sew, not the one you’re trimming.  You want to make sure you don’t leave too much seam allowance because if you do you’ll wind up with bits of fabric sticking out of your finished seam and looking ugly, like this: 
  Once your seam allowance is trimmed, heat up your iron and press the seam flat with RIGHT sides together.  Then sew a second seam 3/8″ from your ironed fold.  (These measurements will make a 5/8″ seam, btw, for those who aren’t wild about math)
  Finally, take your piece back to the ironing board and press the seam open and flat, pushing the enclosed seam allowance to one side.
  Pretty, right?

An Easy Way to Keep Sun Off Your Baby in the Car

  So I realize that I’m one of about 15 moms anywhere who doesn’t drive either a minivan or a SUV with tinted windows, so the vast majority of you don’t have this problem, but those of us who are stubbornly sticking to our “sedans” have a sun problem when it comes to our rear-facing babies.
  See, depending on the time of day and which direction we’re driving, sunlight pours into the back windshield, blinding our adorable little spawn…and, usually, making them scream bloody murder.
  I tried sunglasses with G (that’s him above, I didn’t chop my hair off again), but he kind of hated them and ripped them off as soon as I climbed into the front seat.  Not terribly effective.  I’ve tried hats, but they seem to always interact with the back of the car seat in such a way that they wind up entirely behind the boys’ head or totally covering their faces…still results in screams.  Blankets always seem to fall, and the little sunshade on the car seat itself is just a joke.
  Finally, I’ve figured out something that works and stays put.
  Crib sheets!  Tucked over the back of the seat and then over the headrest they make a perfect little tent that protects Jr. from a face full of solar lava, doesn’t slide off, and, best of all, are something you’ve already got.  Plus, you can slide it over to one side to make sure that no light leaks in from your door window and that big brother or sister can still see the little one.
  This has made such a huge difference in R’s happiness while we’re driving that I’ve started just leaving one of these sheets in my car so I can pop it on whenever we need it.  Too bad it took til my second kid to figure it out!

How to Fit Your Diaper Bag in Your Purse

  I really hate having to haul a diaper bag with me.  If I have both boys with me, at a minimum, I already have my purse, R in his car seat and G by the hand.  Usually I also have at least one or two other things I need to be carrying, pushing or pulling, so dragging a full sized, satchel diaper bag around on top of everything else I have makes me feel like an overburdened Sherpa.  It doesn’t help my level of annoyance that 9 times out of 10 that I haul that big bag with me, I don’t wind up needing it.
  I can’t very well not take it though, or that inevitable 10th time will surely strike in the most desperate, stinky way possible.  So what is a vain, likes-to-travel-light mama supposed to do?
  Enter the mini-diaper bag.
  This obviously isn’t the whole kit and caboodle diaper bag with burp cloths, blankets and toys, but a lot of the time you don’t need all that stuff, like when you’re grocery shopping for instance.  You do however need to have supplies on hand in case of diaper emergencies.
  I’m keeping a couple of these made up with whatever size diaper R is in at the time so I can have one in my purse or toss one into the stroller when we’re on the go.
  Want to make your own?  Here’s what you need:
A quart sized sandwich bag
2 or 3 packaged wet wipes (you can get sensitive ones safe for baby’s skin)
An appropriately sized diaper
A small bag for dirty diaper containment (in case you’re not near a trash)
A waterproof pad*
*I use cut in half disposable “underpads” that we used for protecting the car seat when we were potty training G.  You may have some of these from the hospital when you gave birth.
  Fold your underpad to a size that will fit into your bag.  This will be what you lay the baby on to protect them/the surface you are changing them on from yuck.  Next, place your diaper in the bag with the pad.  Fold up your small bag and add it and finally toss in your wet wipes.  Squish all the air out of the bag and seal it shut.
  You now have everything you need for an emergency change!  The whole package is less than an inch thick and isn’t much bigger than a folded in half sheet of paper.  Unless your purse is really tiny, it should be small enough to tag along at all times without much fuss.
  Much nicer than remembering that giant diaper bag, isn’t it?

Cheap, Easy Way to Blur Photo Edges (Without Smearing Anything on Your Camera)

  Sometimes taking portraits in a studio setting just doesn’t work.  Especially for pictures of little kids, capturing them in their element tends to yield much more authentic, meaningful pictures than standing them on a sterile field and expecting to photograph a natural expression.  Problem is, their element tends to be messy and visually distracting.  Not so great for getting a nice portrait.  Blurring the edges of your photo can solve this problem and help keep the focus on your subject, but until the other day, the only way I knew of doing it was by smearing Vaseline on your camera lens and, uh, that is not happening.
  So how did I get these shots with the blurry, light filled edges if I didn’t (shudders) sludge my camera?  Well, I found this pin, and tried it out.  Basically, you just need a sandwich baggie and a little bit of time to experiment.
  Tear a hole in the bottom of your baggie so you have rough edges and gather it around your lens so that the edges stick into your picture.  Center your subject in the middle (through the hole) and click away!  Experiment with the light and how far from the lens you hold the bag for different effects.
  I found that the more I backlit G, the more opaque the baggie became in the picture.
  This is definitely a technique I’m going to be playing around with more…it’s so easy and yields such great results!  Who would have thought it came from something that’s usually holding pb & j?!

Sewing with a Double Needle, or, Why Haven’t I Used This for Years?

  I have a confession to make.  Double needles scared me.  I had never used one until late last week, and now I honestly can’t tell you why.
  Maybe because they sorta look like snake fangs?

  Seriously though, I’m really aggravated with myself for not trying this sooner.  It fits into my standard sewing machine, so I easily could have been using this years ago, and using wooly nylon thread, this works far better than this technique for keeping hems stretchy.
  Because of the two needles, this creates a nice, even set of parallel lines on the top of your piece with the bobbin thread zig zagging back and forth on the back.  You have to be careful to make sure and sew on the right side so you don’t wind up with the “clean” side on the inside of your garment, but that’s not a huge deal.  This isn’t as clean of a look as you’d get with a coverstitch machine (I still want one eventually)…you’re certainly not going to be purposely showing the back of this stitch like a lot of sportswear does with coverstitch, but it’s a really good step in the right direction.
  I haven’t tried it yet with non-wooly nylon thread, so I can’t speak to the stretchiness that way, but that’s my only current complaint…wooly nylon is a lot harder to find in matching colors than plain thread.  I’ll let you guys know how the plain thread works when I try it!

How to start hand sewing without knotting the thread

If you’re still tying a knot in your thread to start your hand stitching, today’s tip will change the way you sew forever.  Seriously.  I used to knot my thread, and it made me crazy that half the time that knot would just pull right through, and even if it didn’t, it left a lump in my garment where the knot was.  Ugh.  This method solves the issue of loose weave fabric and doesn’t give you the “this was made by a third grader” look that a big honkin knot in your thread does.

  Here’s how you do it:
How to start hand sewing without knotting the thread

 

Incredibly poor choice of thread color so you can see what I’m doing.
  Start by picking up 3-4 threads of your fabric with your needle.  You want a small piece of fabric, but 1-2 threads, depending on the fabric, may be too fragile.  Pull your needle and thread through the fabric, leaving a thread tail of around 2 inches.
How to start hand sewing without knotting the thread

 

  Pull your needle around and put it back through the exact same spot, making sure not to pull your original thread tail through.
How to start hand sewing without knotting the thread

 

  Start to pull your thread through.  Before it is completely pulled through, a loop will form.  Thread your needle through this loop and then finish tightening your thread.  This method works somewhat similarly to the Chinese finger traps you can find in dollar stores.  The more the thread is pulled on, the more it tightens around itself.
How to start hand sewing without knotting the thread

 

  Once you’ve finished tightening this, you can trim off the excess tail.  You can also use this method to tie your thread off when you’ve finished sewing.  No more knots, no more bumps and far less frustration.
  Now isn’t that better?
  If you’ve just found my blog, please, check out some of my other posts!  All of my sewing how to’s can be found here.