Category Archives: DIY

How to Throw a Clothes Swap Party

Swap Party

Every two months or so, my girlfriends from college (Rock Chalk!) like to get together and catch up. This month, we decided to do something a little different and throw a clothes swap party.

Because we are constantly asking each other things like “Where did you get that cute blouse?” we decided it would be great to go through our closets, find clothes we no longer wear, bring them to our next get-together and swap. We rifled through blouses, skirts, pants, jewelry, belts, shoes and purses, and we each walked away with a tote bag filled with free clothes. We are so smart.

If you, too, want to throw a clothes swap party, follow these simple rules.

Rules for a Clothes Swap Party

Swap Party

1. Invite a group of friends over to your house who have similar tastes. (Especially the friends in your life who love to shop.)

2. Set a few ground rules: no torn or tattered clothing; bring anything you no longer like, even if you think the item is out-of-date; and bring a minimum set number of items. We didn’t actually include that last rule at our party, but I think we would next time…I’m looking at you Laura. 😉

3. Also ask everyone to bring a couple of tote bags to use to lug home their scored goods.

4. Provide light, non-messy snacks. Our hostess, miss Kimberlyloc, shelled out quite the spread, including popcorn, nuts, chocolate and a chili feast. Serve lighter snacks such as popcorn and nuts before and during the swapping, and save the heavier foods, i.e. chili, for after (as reward for a job well-swapped).

5. Designate a room for wardrobe changes. You will want to try everything on before committing.

6. Also designate a space for showcasing clothes. We spread all of our clothes on a bed (see picture above).

7. Make a clear shopping plan. Here was ours:

Each person showcases what they brought. If you’re interested in it, you say so. A lot of the times, only one person will be interested in an item (granted, there were only four of us), but for cases that more than one person is interested in an item, put it in the communal pile.

Once everyone has showcased what they brought, takes turns trying on what interests you. Sometimes you won’t end up liking what you were initially interested in. Other times you will LOVE what you scored.

If more than one person still ends up loving what they tried on, then you have to “fight” over it. And by fight, I mean rock-paper-scissors. We’re so tough.

8. Finally, have fun! Then donate whatever clothes no one wanted to charity.

What I Scored

Swap-Party-3

From left to right: a cheetah-print top; a basic brown T-shirt; a green and blue striped button-up blouse

Swap-Party-4

From left to right: A blue and white striped blouse with buttons up the back; an orange, white and black striped sweater with pleather elbow patches

Swap-Party-5

From left to right: A black cardigan with sequined pockets; a black and snakeskin peplum top; a pair of studded hoop earrings

Swap Party

From left to right: black and grey tuxedo pants from Banana Republic; a blue and white printed peasant top

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5 Couples Costume Ideas

I love Halloween. To an astronomical degree. Every year, when the trees are at their prettiest, everyone—adults included—get the chance to dress up in costume, no judgement allowed, and party. The options are endless, and I love the chance to harness my creativity. I am also very thankful to have a husband who lets me get as creative as I want and even enjoys pitching in with his help and ideas. Every year we dress up as something outlandish, and we tend to lean toward characters from 90s pop culture. Here are five couples costume ideas that you can use for your last-minute Halloween costume. I’ll give you a short run-down on how to put the ladies portion of these costumes together.

Doug and Patti

Doug Funnie and Patti Mayonnaise

You may recall a little Nickelodeon cartoon called Doug. If you don’t, I’m not sure whether we can still be friends. In case you don’t remember, Doug had a crush on Patti in the 90s series, and constantly wrote journal entries about her, among many other awesome musings. Here’s what you’ll need for Patti:

* A blue sweater (thrifted)
* Pink fabric paint (search your local craft store)
* A denim skirt (thrifted)
* Pink sneakers (already owned)
* SPLURGE on a blonde Marilyn Monroe-type wig to finish the look.

Add pink polka dots to your sweater with the fabric paint, and give it enough time to dry (a couple of hours).

Note: In case you were wondering, my husband is wearing a bald cap with brown pipe cleaners sticking out of it to give his hair that cartoonish look. If you recall, Doug had maybe 10 hairs on his head.

Miss Piggy and Gonzo

Miss Piggy and Gonzo

My husband and I don’t always like to dress up as conventional couples. I loved watching the Muppet Babies when I was a kid, and I still insist that Miss Piggy would have been better if paired with Gonzo rather than Kermit. Kermit was rather boring, but Gonzo was always fun and always had Miss Piggy’s back. Thus, our costume. Here’s what you’ll need for Miss Piggy:

* Pink shirt (thrifted)
* Pink skirt (thrifted)
* White lacy socks (costume store)
* Pink flats (already owned)
* Pig nose and ears (costume store)
* White gloves (costume store)
* Pink bow (local craft store)
* SPLURGE on a blonde wig (I reused my wig from the Patti costume!)

I added tulle to the ends of my gloves and sleeves, and also wore a white tulle skirt that I bought from a costume store under my thrifted pink skirt to make it poofy. Finally, add the pink bow to the top of your pig ears and you’re done.

Note: AJ’s Gonzo nose is made out of a hodge podge of fuzzy blue pipe cleaners, as are his ears (or whatever those are on Gonzo’s head).

Mrs Pacman and Ghost

Mrs. Pacman and Ghost

Another evil couple pairing; go figure. I still love playing Mrs. Pacman at old arcades, even when one of the ghosts inevitably defeats me. I think it’s the bow that I love the most. This costume was one of the easiest I’ve ever put together, and one of the most fun to take to parties. I chased the husband around all night! Here’s what you’ll need:

* Black shirt and pants (already owned)
* Red high heels (already owned)
* Red bow (local craft store)
* Yellow taskboard (ask your local craft store)
* Black ribbon (local craft store)
* Red and black sharpie (already owned)

1. Lay out your yellow taskboard and cut out a circle that is big enough to cover your torso. The taskboard I found was not large enough for this purpose, so I cut two pieces together and adhered them with yellow duck tape.

2. Once you have the appropriate-size circle, cut the mouth then, using sharpies or another marker that won’t smear, draw on the lips, eye and eyelashes.

3. Poke two holes near the top of your Pacman face. String a long piece of black ribbon though one hole, wrapping it around your neck and through the second hole. Tie the ends so the Pacman face won’t fall when worn around your neck.

4. Finally, tie your hair up in the red bow to give your costume the finishing touch.

Super Mario and Bowser

Super Mario and Bowser

Once again, the husband and I are enemies. But Super Mario and his arch nemesis Bowser must like each other enough to continuously engage in battle, right? I think so. Another arcade game that both of us cherished as kids, this costume was so much fun to wear. My absolute favorite part about my outfit was the handmade photo booth mustache. All of my friends took photo ops with it throughout the night! Here’s what you’ll need:

* Blue overalls (thrifted)
* Red shirt (local craft store)
* Red baseball cap (local craft store)
* White, yellow and black felt (local craft store)
* White tights (costume store)
* Black flats (already owned)
* White gloves (costume store)
* Long, skinny wooden stick (local craft store)
* Small piece of cardboard (already owned)

1. Cut your yellow felt into two small circles that you will fashion onto your overall straps as giant buttons with either hot glue or safety pins.

2. Cut your white felt into another small circle, and slice out a capital letter “M” in the middle. Hot glue or hand sew this onto your red baseball cap.

3. Finally, cut your black felt into a mustache shape. Cut your wooden stick to the length you want it (I found my stick in the aisle with the model hobby supplies) and hot glue it to the back of your mustache. Then, hot glue a piece of cardboard onto the back, with the stick in between the mustache and the cardboard, to keep the back nice and firm. You don’t want the mustache to hang and look wimpy when posing for photos. (Color the cardboard with black sharpie, if you want to keep it all black, or use all-black cardstock.)

wicked-witch

Elphaba and Fiyero

Most people thought we were dressed up as enemies pitted against each other, but that just isn’t true. For anyone familiar with the Broadway musical Wicked, you know that Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) and Fiyero (the scarecrow) are madly in love. So take that Romeo and Juliet! After seeing this wonderful musical on Broadway, the husband and I agreed it was the best costume choice for us that year. Here’s what you’ll need:

* Black witch hat (costume store)
* Black witch costume (costume store) or any long black dress with a high collar
* Black cape (costume store)
* Black tights (already owned)
* Black boots (already owned)
* Broom (costume store)
* Green face paint, and lots of it (costume store)
* Green nail polish (beauty store)

This costume relies heavily on the masterful application of face paint and heavy eyeliner. Whatever you do, do not buy the cheap face paint. It will slowly flake off (a lesson the husband learned all too well the year he dressed up as Gonzo). SPLURGE on good quality face paint, and thrift the rest of your outfit to save money elsewhere. Ask your costume store about which brands are the best.

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I’m Always The Hostess: Brunch-Themed Bridal Shower

This past weekend I had the opportunity to throw a bridal shower in honor of my younger cousin, April. And as someone who loves any chance to throw a good party, I started pinning ideas right away.

The Decorations

For ambiance, pastels like light pinks and pale blues took center stage: I crafted a homemade flag banner with leftover cardstock from my scrapbook collection and filled my home with peonies, zinnias and rose of Sharon from the Lawrence farmer’s market and my very own garden.

 

The Food

I wanted to keep everything simple, so I put together a menu that featured all brunch-themed foods. Here is what I included on my brunch-themed menu:

+ Quiche Lorraine (Thanks for the delicious sausage quiches, mom! They were yummy!)
+ Crustless Zucchini & Basil Quiche
+ Maple Bacon
+ Biscuits with jam (Shortcake recipe courtesy Rustic Fruit Desserts.)
+ Donut and fruit skewers (This adorable idea is courtesy Val So Cal.)
+ French Toast Cupcakes






The Drinks

I also put together a mimosa bar. This is the best idea ever, in my opinion. I want one ready for me at all times throughout the day. To create a mimosa bar, simply buy two kinds of juice (I chose orange juice and cranberry-raspberry juice), pour them into decorative pitchers, flank them on either side of a bottle of champagne, and top the bar off with fruit garnishes. This was my favorite thing about the party (aside from the donut and fruit skewers). It was there for the party to make their own mimosa as strong (or as weak) as they like. And the kids loved sneaking away with some of the orange slices.

The Fun & Games

For entertainment I put together a couple of games for the party to delight in: One little game called “The Groom Says,” which is essentially a fill-in-the-blank game that includes statements made by the groom, and another game that involved toilet paper. This one produced lots of laughs and was definitely the favorite of the afternoon. We adorned the bride-to-be and another one of our cousins in toilet paper in an attempt to turn the toilet paper into a beautiful wedding dress. As you can tell, we failed. 🙂

Then of course, we ate, opened presents, and celebrated April’s happiness.

 

So that’s a wrap everyone! Everyone seemed to have a great time, and I had a fabulous time planning the whole thing. I can’t wait to throw another party sometime soon. And here’s my advice to anyone throwing a bridal shower: Keep the menu simple and don’t get lost in all the endless food options. Pick a few key dishes and let them really shine. Also, enlist the help of someone special. My husband kept me sane by helping me clean the house and my mom helped out in every possible way. Thanks you guys!

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

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Getting Organized: How to Organize Your Jewelry

I love accessorizing, but my jewelry station has been in need of a major revamp for awhile now. It mostly consisted of a jewelry box my husband made back in high school and some additional trinket boxes thrown in. I could never find what I was looking for—necklaces would get tangled, earrings would get lost and it was just a big ol’ mess.


Enough was enough, so I went scouring shops for stylish storage options. I made the decision that, even though I would keep some of my rarely worn pieces safely stowed away in my closet-bound wooden jewelry box (such as my replica Heart of the Ocean necklace—don’t judge), I wanted my favorite jewelry pieces on display where I could see them. They are decorations in and of themselves.


This is what I’ve come up with for the time being. Most everything here was half off from Urban Outfitters. I love the small brass keys I found as well as the colorful dishes I’m using to store my bracelets. To replicate my set up, here are a few things you’ll need to find.

• A stylish mirror. I found this beauty at Hobby Lobby. Although I have it safely secured to my wall, I like that it looks like it’s just casually leaning there.

• Cute storage solutions. Mix it up. I particularly love my white stacked floral tray. I can store necklaces and bracelets in it as well as hang earrings from it. Include trays, hooks, stands, bowls and dishes to your jewelry display. Just don’t over-do it and avoid the potential for too much clutter.

• A scented candle. Check out Thymes for botanical candles that fill a room with floral fragrances. Their containers are beautiful and their scents are sensational.

• Fun picture frame. Add personality to your jewelry station. This particular photo is from New Year’s Eve in 2010.

Do you keep your jewelry on display? How do you manage to stay organized?

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What I’m Inspired By: Pinterest

I have a new love in my life and its name is Pinterest. If you have no idea what that is, you’re in for a treat.

Pinterest, a virtual inspiration board, allows you to “pin” and organize your favorite finds on the Internet. Sifting through modcloth.com and come across a dress you want to save for later? Pin it. Reading your favorite blogs and happen upon a DIY project you want to try? Pin it. Looking for dinner recipes and chance upon a delicious Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcake recipe you want to bookmark for the future? Pin it! (Seriously, these cupcakes look delicious.)

The best part about this website is that you can follow your friends and browse boards, insuring inspiration every time you log on. And for a blogger like myself, I’m always on the lookout for inspiration.

I’ve created a handful of pin boards, some of which include Styles I Love, For the Kitchen and For the Home. Check them out and make your own. Don’t feel limited to fashion, cooking or home decor boards. You can create any kind you want.


Here are some of my favorite finds that I never would have discovered had it not been for Pinterest.

{These look easy and fabulous. See my pin here.}

{I love this sparkly skirt. Especially paired with a cream button-up blouse. See my pin here.}

{To the left, office inspiration. To the right, I love this idea! I need to re-organize my own dresser, and this is adorable. See my pins here, and here.}

{Watermelon Daiquiris? Yes please! I think I’ll make these for my upcoming bbq. See my pin here.}

{Adding memories throughout the year and then reading them on New Year’s Eve. What a cute idea! See my pin here.}

To join Pinterest, request an invitation from a friend or from Pinterest itself. It took me less than a week to receive my invitation from the website and less than a few minutes to get started. I recommend trying it. If you do, please follow my pins. And if the mood strikes, pin some of my blogs to share with your friends!

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