Thursday, December 29, 2011

The (Un)Toy Story!

I know this is not a mommy blog but I have a bad mom confession to make any way: I hate toys, all toys! They either have millions of pieces, are ginormous, expensive, or kids are only interest in them for about five seconds {this may be an exageration, but you get the idea}. I also live in a 1000sq foot row home, which gets cluttered very easily. Add to this the fact that I tend to get stir crazy staying in one place all day,and you can see why I need to find some alternatives! So instead of buying Maya lots of stuff, I take her out of the house to encourage creative play :) We go to different local jaunts like the Philadelphia Zoo, our local branch of the Philly Library, or other kid friendly places. Sometimes we just stay home and she writes on my couch with a black gel pen, true story.{Don’t get me wrong Maya does have some toys, but I try to get her classics or very well made stuff that will stand the test of time}. 

"High Horse" get it? ;)
 So anyway let me get off my high horse... This week as part of her Christmas gift, Maya and I went to the Please Touch Museum for the first time ever, and Maya loved it! I think we will be treating ourselves to a membership! Last year we were diehards and braved the elements to play outside. This year mama is a wimp and we need places where we can stay warm and dry. 
   So here are some pics. And here's another confession: though I do care about conservation and conscientious consumption, I also wanted you guys to see my cutie's outfit ;)After all, this is technically a fashion blog, right?!

                                                                                                   *  Kia 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sugar Body Scrubs! Last minute gifts you can make in a hurry!

Easy to make sugar body scrubs! *Phot by my friend Anyelis
As Christmas is fast approaching, I wanted to do just a few more posts on some last minute ideas. At the beginning of November one of my girlfriends, Anyelis, hosted a sugar scrub making party.

Now, I certainly love a party, and this was a good one. Anyelis gathered some friends, created a facebook page, where we divided who would bring what ingredients and what toppings for our ice cream desert. Introductions were made, and we set to work creating yummy smelling scrubs to give as Christmas gifts. You probably don’t have time to get a party together before you light the Yule log, but you can still whip these bad boy scrubs together before the 25th! The whole process can take you way less than an hour, and you probably have allot of the ingredients already. Anyelis found a good recipe and great instructions for making and decorating at Maybe Matilda.

If you have mason jars, excellent, but if not you can recycle any nicer looking glass containers and lids which may at one time have contained, oh let’s say pickles or spaghetti sauce ;) I believe the jar I used once housed specialty goat cheese. Just wash thoroughly and remove any paper labels. Next you whip up your scrubs, for which several bloggers have their own recipes but Rachel from Maybe Matilda recommends:

- 3 cups white sugar
- 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. good quality oil (I used olive oil, but you can use any nice, non-smelly oil)
- 10 drops of yummy-scented essential oil per jar (I went with mandarin, peppermint, and lavender)
Body Scrub Party! Beautiful and yummy smelling presents you can make in a flash!
At the party we went to town and created various scrubs with lots of different scents and colors. You can avoid chemicals by purchase organic food coloring from local natural food stores or Amazon, but since this the pre-Christmas time crunch if you just use any old food coloring have laying around I’m not going to tell…. Mixing is simple; just use a little bit of the coloring at a time to get a hue you like.

Mirelis, Nilda, Carolina, Anyelis, Katie, and Lina decorating their jars.
 You can also add cocoa powder for a sweet chocolate smell and rich brown color. Anyelis also suggested we add vitamin E. Next, decorate, decorate, decorate those containers! Go all out!  Have fun, and have a Merry Christmas!



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Homemade Couture for your Christmas Giraffe!

Mr. Gerald Giraffe looking swanky in his upcycled duds!
Back in 2010 when I found out one of my closest girlfriends, Sarah, was pregnant, I was thrilled for her and her husband Joe! They are such kind and also funny people (the two characteristics I value most ;) and I knew any baby of theirs would be equally awesome. Shortly after I heard the news I was in my favorite Fair Trade shop, Ten Thousand Villages, when I saw an adorable giraffe doll I thought would be perfect for the soon to be born baby {unfortunately, they no longer make this Giraffe, but they still have other great toys}. Sarah and Joe decided to wait until the birth to find out the sex of the baby, but I had this feeling the little one was a girl. This being the case, I purchased the giraffe in a dress. But it became apparent I chose incorrectly! Little baby boy Christian was born in January, and when it came time to give him his Christmas gift I wanted to make this Geraldine Giraffe into a Gerald, I it occurred to me this transformation would be a good submission for the DIY round up from the Ethical Fashion Bloggers!
Overalls back view

I tend to keep scraps of fabric I like from old clothes or projects I done {my sister calls it hoarding, I prefer to think of it as being prepared}. I pulled out the legs from some stretchy jeans I made into shorts last summer and the top of an old shirt of mine I had cut, and I set to work creating the adorable little ensemble you see before you! Now, for doll clothes you can buy patterns, and I certainly recommend them for complicated work. However, I’m adventurous, so I lay the giraffe over my fabric, left myself room for the seam, and cut from there. To get the crotch of the pants correctly cut (you have to curve them) I grabbed a pair of my own and looked at it as a guide for the shape.

My very old Kenmore sewing machine!

When making clothes for a stuffed animal, I recommend using stretchy fabric as these little guys tent to have more than their share of curves. For instance, Gerald Giraffe is extremely curvy about the hips, but a well-tailored pair of overalls hides that quite nicely! Sewing human sized clothes in stretchy fabric with a typical sewing machine is not ideal, as the stitches here can rip from human movement. You’ll want a serger machine for that, but for a stuffed animal whom we don’t expect to be independently mobile, using your normal sewing machine and a zigzag stitch is more than fine. To hold up Gerald’s cute little overalls I used part of a brown ribbon, which was wrapped around box of chocolates.

Look at those chubby cheaks!!!

I was very lucky to be able to visit Sarah, Joe, and Christian this past weekend, and I’m very happy to report he is very fond of his new Giraffe! Go Auntie Marcie!

Christian, a beautiful and bright baby boy!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Gift Ideas: Picture this, Sari Scarves, and Wraps that Rock!

The Gifts:
For friends and family: Framed Photos
For someone with a baby: The Sleepy Wrap
For people like people: Asha imports sari fabric accessories and home fabrics
Zoe, at MomentuM, a fairtrade shop in downtown Boulder CO

The back story: In November I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to Colorado and visit my brother Andrew, sister-in-law, Kelly, and the kids, ZoĆ«, Ashley, and baby Ginger. And, I got to hang out with my old seminary roommate, Robin, and her husband Ben, too! They all live near Boulder, which is a great city for laidback and ethical fashion.

   And this dear friends, brings us to gift idea one, framed photos of family and friends. Before I flew out to visit my family in C.O. my mom asked me to please take a family photo of the Andrew, Kelly, and the girls so she could frame it. Because of the health issues my dad had this summer, my parents haven’t been able to go out to visit the Colorado Brozyna’s and meet the new baby, Ginger. So, we duly obliged, and I’ll be printing this photo for mom and my great aunt, Vivian, for Christmas.

In this age where the vast majority of us are using digital cameras it’s so easy to take a beautiful photo only to have it perpetually remain in the digital world. There are millions of lonely desks, walls, and pianos simply crying out for some updated photos! Why should computers have all the fun? Let’s jazzy up our physical living environments with some printed paper and frames! Bring a smile to those you love and let them remember the good times ;)
Another one I need to print!
I’m a last minute Betty, so I have yet to get this photo printed, but I’ll be taking my USB to Ritz Camera. This is a good place to have either film or digit prints made. You can of course also take them to many drugstores for printing, but check online first to see who has them in store. Also, remember many no longer develop film. Additionally, if you haven’t waited to the absolute last minute, as I seem to have, you can digitally send your photos to Kodak online and they will main prints back to you.
Kelly, Ginger, and Ashley looking sassy
My trip to Colorado also inspired my second gift suggestion, the Sleepy Wrap. My sister-in-law, Kelly received one and she says it is simply the best baby wrap/carrier she has ever owned, and she’s on baby number three, so she’s tried quite a few over the years! Kelly was saying it is extremely comfortable and versatile, allowing you to wrap it different ways to safely suite the needs of you and your baby. Additionally, it comes in a myriad of colors, so you won’t get bored looking at it, which is important as parents wear it daily! One of Kelly’s favorite colors is orange, and here you can see her, Ginger, and Ashley looking cool and hanging out in downtown Boulder! 
Cute hats at MomentuM in Boulder

Fair Trade Recycled Sari Scarf Eco Scarves
Asha Imports Sari Scarf
We also went to Boulder’s awesome fair-trade home goods and accessories shop, MomentuM. They write, “The products in our store support fair trade, environmentally friendly production, independent artists and organic farming.” If you’re heading to Boulder, be sure to check it out. And for the rest of us, soon we’ll be order from their website. My favorite product from the store is my gift suggestion three, a recycled sari scarf/table runner.I purchased one of these beauties made by Asha Imports {Asha means “hope”}. They are  fairtrade and recycled, so what’s not to love?! You can order them from a couple websites, including the Green Heart Shop. Enjoy! 


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Kick-Ass Christmas-Craft Party and Gifts!

Our gang of elves, created 10/12/11!
One of the things I love most about the Holidays is the parties! Christmas, New Years, and my birthday, which is Christmas Eve. Spur of the moment I decided to through myself an early party. You don’t need to plan for weeks and weeks, so it’s not to late to put together a holiday get together of your own! My friend Nate holds weekly screenings of VHS movies (and here’s the blog), and this month has been showing Christmas flicks. He gathers friends, gets some food, and pops in a tape, and presto -instant party! All you need is good friends, some food, and maybe something to do. We have time before Christmas, so what are you waiting for?!

Nathelie, Nikki, Mekissa, me, Miriam, Jess, and Brie
This past weekend I had a small birthday and Christmas party, affectionately named, “Marcie’s Kick-Ass Holiday Craft and Birthday Party.” Seeing as there are parties every weekend in December, I do concede it’s a tough time of year to get people to come to a  party, but you just have to invite lots of folks!  A little under half of who got invites were able to come, and I am so thankful they did! For this little gathering the wine flowed freely, the Christmas records spun constantly, and hands were busy making awesome crafts.

busy bees!
The inspiration for these awesome pinecone elves came from Martha Stewart’s 2009 December Magazine, but my mommy tells me they’ve been around since the 70’s. Kia, Maya, Mark, Steve, Jess, Nathalie, Miriam, Phil, Brie, Melissa, and Nikki make totally bitchin’ pinecone elves and pipe cleaner decorations!
Steve and his many stars!
All dressed up with no where to "snow"

The pipe cleaner stars are so simple! Just three take metallic pipe cleaners, cut in half, so you have six pieces, and twist in the middle! Add a ribbon, and poof (!) Christmas cheer! Also, they are super easy to bend and twist into the shape of other Christmas symbols! These elves are super easy, and kids just need a little help with the glue gun for the pinecones. Both of these crafts make sweet whimsical gifts for the holidays!

Marcie, Maya, Kia, and yes, this is my kitchen!

Kia and I recently joined the Ethical Fashion Bloggers, a group of fashion bloggers concerned with social, environmental, and all around sustainability in the world of looking stylish. Ceri, the organizer recently put out a call for Christmas/Holiday party outfits, so Kia and I submitted this pic.  Because the main activity of this party was making Christmas crafts, we went low key and casual for our attire.  I am proudly wearing a tunic dress I sewed last year using a Simplicity pattern, leggings from American Apparel, and knee high leg warmers I found in my grandma’s closet! My hat is from Krochet Kids International, a fair trade non-profit that employs women in Uganda and Peru so they can support their families. It was given to me as a birthday gift last year by my good friend, Malorie.
Kia and Maya making stars

Kia’s daughter, Maya, is attired in a tunic dress, much like mine as great minds do think alike, from the Salvation Army thrift shop. Her leggings and shoes are hand me-down favorites. Kia is sporting a fair trade scarf from Ten Thousand Villages, and her favorite denim jacket, which she has proudly owned for about a decade! Her long maxi skirt is from a fashionable Philadelphia second hand shop, Buffalo Exchange. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and Haoppy Holidays with however many parties you like!

Phil, Jessica, Stephen, Mark, Nikki, Melissa, and Miriam just starting to get their craft on!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tis the Season to CHILL OUT(!) and Escape the Vortex of Materialism!

Lake George, New York as seen through my parents' window. 

   With out a doubt Christmas time is my favorite time of year. I love the snow, the lights, the cheer, the decorations, the time with family, the time for God, and the time for reflection. And I admit I have loved the presents…. preeeessssents… so many preeeessssents….. As a child the excitement of waiting for Santa and seeing what he brought me was probably the very best thing about Christmas.  Seeing as I was just a wee babe, this is understandable, but it’s also a tad pretty depressing.
    Sure, giving gifts is a sign of love, and it’s wonderful to recieive these gifts and to feel special. But why do we need to many gifts to feel good? Why such expensive gifts to feel special? When did we develop this sense of entitlement? How on earth did a gift-giving traditon, which was indended to honor the Magi presenting presents  to the poor and underprivileged baby Jesus, morph into this vortex of materialism? I mean sure, the little guy received some pretty snazzy gifts- gold, frankincense, myrrh- but you know his mommy probably had to sell them so the family could have food….
     Whether you celebrate Christmas as a religious remembrance or as a more general family holiday, I think it’s time we all reined ourselves in a little. Let’s hold our horses and take some steps out of the destructive path of insatiable consumerism. Let’s stretch ourselves through showing constraint. Let’s appreciate the little things, the acts of kindness, the acts of charity. Let’s spend less and have it mean more. Let’s resist the urge to give something, anything {like inexpensive sweatshop crap or overpriced indulgences} to absolutely everyone we know just become that’s what’s done this time of year. 
     Let’s realize it’s not a contest, but an opportunity – an opportunity to teach ourselves and our kids the virtues of giving to those who need it. It's an opportunity to demonstrate how to graciously receiving what we’re given. It’s an opportunity to direct our gifts to those who really need them and to celebrate love more while spending money less.
   This holiday season Kia and I will be posting fun low-key gifts, jolly party ideas, festive local shops, fair-trade options, and links to meaningful charities.  We hope you have fun, enjoy the process, and find ways to help others through your purchases and time. Remember, there is nothing historic, helpful, or holly jolly about going into debt for the sake of celebrating Christmas! Quite the opposite!