Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Aw Snap!

To our millions of followers, boy oh boy do we have a treat for you today.  Customer service is a major issue, especially for avid online shoppers like ourselves, so when we find a good deal, we like to share it.  When we have a great customer service experience, we want to shout it from the rooftops!

We love photos.  You know this by now.  And we took extra care in selecting the photographers for our wedding.  We loved our engagement photos so much that we made a photobook out of them and used it as our guest book for our friends and family to sign on our wedding day.

We were so impressed with the quality of the book that we decided we would order more when our wedding photos came back.  So, over the last week or so we have been working hard on a massive photo book to showcase over 700 pictures that document our wedding day.  Getting everything into the book is pretty seamless with the use of the online editor tools through various photo sites.

They are all pretty much the same but we opted to use Snapfish this time around because they had a small promotion going on and we had just purchased a few other photo gifts from them earlier in the month.

There's always a catch.  A medium sized book of 20 pages might run you around $40 according to the current promotion and how many bells and whistles you want.  Not bad considering the quality and durability;  we figured it was a no-brainer.  It turns out however, that our a giant book with 150 pages runs quite a bit more.  Like, a lot more.

What to do?

Considering we made a significant investment in the photos themselves we figured having a quality place to showcase them was money well spent.  So we checked.  Double checked.  Checked again.  And when everything looked great and just the way we wanted it, we hit the submit button at 11 pm last night and did a small happy dance of joy.

And then this morning we checked email.

At 4 am, mere hours after sealing the deal, we got the following email:

Oh Snap and oh no you didn't Snapfish!!!  50% off all orders for the next 48 hours?  Less than 7 hours after placing our giant order????

We.  Were.  Fuming.

So we made a call.   Actually Evan made the call.  Can't hurt to try right?  And without so much as a furrowed brow, they heard our plea and granted our wish come true.  A retro-active 50% off our gi-nor-mous photo book.  50% off my friends!

Larger happy dances followed.

And so, in honor of this smooth move, we salute Snapfish and their customer service effort. And while we don't get anything in return for recommending them, we want to say thanks by at least sharing the news when someone does something cool like this.

Yay for good customer service!  Yay for 50% off in the next 48 hours!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Insiders Guide

Four or five months ago I was asked to collaborate on a new local publication.  You could call it a small magazine.  I like to call it a maga-teeny.  Cute, right?

The concept behind the piece, which is titled The Insiders Guide to Midtown Mayhem is to --- get this--- provide an insiders guide to, yep, midtown.  I submitted my first piece a couple of months ago and the publication has finally begun circulating around town.

Here is a quick look at some of what's inside:

Wait!  Did you see it???  Right here...

That's me!  A real, live contributor with the task of writing about things for parents and kids to do in midtown.  Easy enough.  We sort-of live in midtown and we definitely do stuff here.  

Below is my piece: 

For a closer look you can visit Midtown Mayhem online or just pick up your copy at a variety of spots around town.  Around midtown that is.  


I love Fridays.   I hope the weekend looks like this....

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Making of A Blue Jay

When Alex decided she wanted to be a blue jay for Halloween, I figured I could find some cool wings online.  I looked around, but everything I found was totally overpriced.

I stumbled upon a couple of different tutorials and decided they looked easy enough to attempt.  So, I combined the things I liked about each and this is how I got started.

The first thing we found was the mask.  A quick search for blue jay masks tuned up all kinds of madness.  Eventually I found this image of an art school project on Flickr:

It was perfect.  A quick Amazon search, $10 and 3-5 business days later, we had a similar one of our very own.  Ta-da! 

Next came the wings.  Knowing the base of the costume would be black tights and a black leotard, I knew the only thing we really needed was a set of cool wings.  So I gathered up 3 shades of blue felt along with some white and some black.  I got about a yard and a half of each blue shade and the white.  Two full yards of black.  

All in all I spent roughly $12 on felt thanks to a sweet fabric sale Joann's was having.  

Then it was go time.  

I didn't initially plan on doing a tutorial for this because I wasn't even really sure what I was doing, so your first step isn't documented.  Evan was just shooting random pictures of me making a wing, but we ended up with enough to walk you through the basic assembly.  So, to get started, you'll want to lay your black felt out on a table and cut a tear drop shape into the corner, like this: 

The size is totally up to you.  I measured one side against Alex's arm when it was extended out, to get an idea of how long they should be shoulder to wrist.  You could make them shorter, and you might want to because these ended up being pretty heavy.  

Now you are ready to make some feathers! 

First,  cut out a freehand template of 4 scallops in the first color, I started with the darkest blue.  

Once you have the template made, use white chalk to trace the template onto all the other shades of blue and white. 

Gather 4 sets of 4 (using the same color) and start making rows.

I laid them out on my black felt, moving towards the top corner of  the base.  You'll notice I had not actually cut the teardrop shape out when I first got started, it was just traced, I think you could really do it either way.

Basically, I just laid each row down then added a second row of the same color, before moving onto the next shade.  Space them out so the top layer overlaps spaces in the layer beneath it.

As you get closer to the top, you won't need the rows to be quite as wide, so just cut off anything that looks too big or overlaps too much.  

I'd love to say there was a particular rhyme or reason to this, but really I just laid all my pieces out and then cut off anything that looked funny.  

Save these single scallops/feathers.  You'll need them later. 

Once you work your way to the top corner, you can add in a couple of single black scallops here and there.  Don't try to make them perfect, just add them in wherever.

You'll notice I then folded all the excess fabric behind the base to see how it all would look once it was in the shape of the teardrop.

Not bad.

We had grand plans of sewing each row to the base, but since I don't know how to sew and we were short on time, I chose to glue everything together using a hot glue gun.

Using a line of hot glue at the top of each scallop row, press firmly into base:

This actually turned out to be a great idea and allowed me to move shapes around and test ideas before gluing them in place.  This also made putting it all together a breeze.  I was impressed with how well the glue held and really pleased that I could add pieces easily as the project evolved.  

As I got closer to the top I started cutting my scallops smaller and smaller and just added pieces that I thought looked good.  The beauty of this project was it kept evolving.  If you see a spot that needs a scallop/feather, just throw it in using the pieces saved from earlier.  

Make sure to cut everything in pairs by cutting two pieces of felt at a time so you have all the pieces you need for your second wing.

For me, once everything was laid out it only took about 15 minutes to glue it all in place and get it to look like this: 

That funny little black piece on the top was made because I thought I would be attaching the pair of wings together to make a nice circular affect:

When they are both laid out,  flip them over and cut off all scallops/feathers that hang over the edge of the teardrop base.  In essence when looking at the back, you should have solid black teardrop with some bottom feathers hanging off.

Next, add drops of glue to all the edge pieces to ensure they stay in place.

Here, we held it up to see how it would look from the front.  Look how thrilled my child was:

At this point I wasn't sure how I would actually be attaching the wings to her, so she just held them in place for the photo op.

Next came the tail and this turned out to be my favorite part.  I wasn't initially going to make a tail, but I had tons of leftover felt pieces and thought, what the heck?  There honestly was no method to this madness.  I just cut out a base that sort of looked like a giant blue hand, then cut out multiple "fingers" to layer on top of each other.  You can do this or come up with your own version.

I glued the scraps together wherever I thought they fit, again using all those leftover pieces:

Finally, when you have what sort of resembles a tail all glued together, lay a big piece of black felt over the back of it, then glue it into place:

Cut it out wide enough at the top to wrap around your child's waist:


To secure it to her, I hot glued a long black ribbon to the top of the tail and just tied it around her waist like a belt.

I did the same thing to the wings.  In the middle of each wing, I glued the center of a long piece of ribbon to the center of the wing back.  I used the hanging ribbon to tie the wing to each arm and wrist.

Sorry - I didn't get a picture of this!

Next, I painted the mask using some acrylic paint I picked up at Hobby Lobby for $4.  This is where you can get creative and paint it however you like.  Add some eyebrows then glue some feathers here and there:

Lastly, layer two big pieces of black felt together and cut out 2 shapes that sort of look like feet.  If you layer two pieces of felt on top of one another, you'll have 2 identical pieces to make each foot, thus having 4 total.

Once you've cut out both feet, use your glue gun to outline the entire perimeter of one of your feet patterns.  Glue that foot to it's matching piece by lining them up and pressing firmly for 30 seconds to make a seam.  

Be sure you've made them extra wide so a small foot, in a pair of shoes, can fit inside.  

Repeat for the other foot pattern.  

Once the glue dries, flip the feet inside out and you're done!  

After your child goes to sleep, try everything on and wish that you had also made yourself a costume this fun.

And that's it.  For about $30 and roughly 3-4 hours of assembly, you have a feathery blue jay friend. 

Trick or treat as necessary. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Baby On The Way

Not for us.  Let's just clear that up right away.

Our good friends Steve & Rachel are expecting their first baby any day/moment now and I had the absolute pleasure of throwing the baby shower a few weeks back.  They don't know what they are having, so I chose a black/white/yellow theme for the party and picked up these adorable Wee Gallery Art Cards as my inspiration for decor:
 Here is a look at how everything turned out:

A couple of shout-outs on a few things I chose that I was very pleased with. The Baby Cakes cupcakes in pumpkin and lemon were super tasty and were gobbled up in no time.  Baby Cakes is a local cupcake shop in the KC River market.  

The zebra cookies are from my favorite cookie spot, Boulevard Bakery & Pastries, which I reserve only for the most special occasions.  They are insanely rich and super healthy I am sure. 

Finally, the wooden animal teethers I read about in Dwell magazine, then later found online at Etsy.  These were so cute and a gift I think I'll refer back to the next time I need an idea for a baby present.  Check out the other amazing items they have to offer.

The shower was great and and I was pretty happy about how all my DIY projects turned out.  I have had a couple of requests to re-create some of the small posters in different colors, so thinking maybe I'll update that Etsy shop we started up then never offered anything to sell in.  Whoops.  

I think my favorite project was the banner flags.  They were easy to make and super cheap, leftover bakers twine from the wedding and some cardstock I had on hand.  The best part was following the shower, they were easily converted into Halloween decor:

You know we love a good re-purpose!  And I'm thinking if I take the bats down, the banners can stick around through Thanksgiving.

It's basically a party that lasts all fall.  :) 

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