give and get: clothing swap how-to {reuse, recycle, refashion}

About twice a year I host a clothing swap. It’s one of the most fun events we do all season.

Why partake in a clothing swap?

  • It’s free
  • You purge the things from your closet that you never wear
  • You come home with new, fresh pieces to liven up your wardrobe
  • Always wanted a blazer/(insert some piece of clothing here) but never wanted to buy one because you didn’t know if you’d love it? You can now grab one for free, and see if you like it.
  • Take something you know you’ll only use for a season, or a pair of pants that will fit you for the interview you have next week, but you’ll only wear once.
  • Free. Free. Free.

The truth is, we  talk often about being good stewards of what we have. Here’s a practical step: simplify your closet and get a few new things for the season without spending a dime. in short: friends + friends’ friends + old clothes = new friends + new-to-you clothes

Sometimes you have this:

But you need this:

or This:

or this:

What’s a girl to do? Skip that trip to the stores to overhaul your wardrobe and clean out your closet instead. There are perfectly good clothes in there. I promise. You just don’t wear them because they don’t fit your body, your lifestyle, or your job right now. Bring them to a house with 30 other women and they’re bound to be the perfect piece for someone else.

So here’s what we do:

1. Plan a date and send an invitation that tells everyone to:

  • Clean out your closet* and bring your old/don’t fit/i-never-wear-this clothes/shoes/jewelry/purses.
  • Bring a bag or two so that you can haul away your new goodies.
  • Bring your friends. The more the merrier.
2. Host the event
  • First 30-40 minutes: Everyone can show up and grab a drink and a snack. Have designated ares in your home for tops/pants/dresses/accessories/shoes, etc. and have people lay their clothes out accordingly. We don’t categorize by size. Once everyone starts going through the clothes, it’s a mess and sizing gets rearranged, anyway.
  • Next 30-45 minutes: Go time! Everyone can dig through piles, start bagging what they want, and try things on. Have some mirrors around the house.
  • End: Have another snack, laugh, and go through piles one last time. As people try things on, items that didn’t work for them get thrown back in the mix and pay be perfect for someone else.
  • Later: Attendees get to go home and brag to husband/fiancee/roommate how they just got bags of fantastic clothing and accessories for free, AND got rid of the crap in their closets. Everyone is happy.

3. Donate what’s left. No clothes are lost or wasted, everything is reused and recycled. Everything finds a new home.

*And, attendees:
  • Have a ton of stuff and some of it is old tees? Bring all of it. We’ll have an embarrassing stuff/old t-shirts pile. Everything’s going to get donated anyway, so this saves you a trip to donate them (or if you’re like me, this saves you from carrying three bags of junk in your trunk for months before you finally take them to be donated).
  • Have nothing? Come anyway. Take freely. There will be plenty of things.

this is how you make the best french fries

this is how you make the best french fries if you want them to be thin and crispy and baked and still have their skin on. i have another recipe if you want them to be skinless wedges. more on that later.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 large potatoes
  • 3-4 T. olive oil
  • 2 t. cornstarch
  • salt

Other things you need:

  • parchment paper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Cut your potatoes into long slices, and then cut those slices into sticks. mine are usually about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick and deep.
  2. Put them in a plastic bag and sprinkle the cornstarch in there. The cornstarch will help them get brown and crispy.
  3. Shake the cornstarch all around until it’s not clumpy.
  4. Drizzle the oil in the bag and shake.
  5. Pull the fries out (don’t’ dump them. actually pull them out so that the excess oil is left in the bag and not on your baking sheet)
  6. Put them in a single layer on the baking sheet. This is important. The part of the potato that’s touching the parchment/baking sheet will brown, so you want all of the pieces to be laying on the baking sheet.
  7. Sprinkle with salt.
  8. Bake 18-30 minutes or until the bottoms begin to brown.
  9. Flip fries over and bake another 15-20 minutes or until browned all over.

i was pregnant and now i am not

august 31 and we have a good ultrasound. baby is about 7w4d, almost a week behind where i thought i was, but what am i to know. heartbeat – check. everything looks good.

i take the picture home and put it on the fridge.

september 4 and it is shilah’s first day of preschool.
a few things happened the night before that led me to call the doctor.

nothing monumental. nothing  yahoo answers didn’t say was normal. (why do i trust yahoo answers? ever?). but i called.

the doctor said to come in to the office.

shilah does a stellar drop off at preschool. no crying and straight to the toy bin of babies. uncharacteristic of her and a gift from God since i am preoccupied. panicky.

fastforward 15 minutes and i am in the doctors office.

it a nice office. not luxurious-nice but friendly-nice. there are fresh cookies at the door and cucumber water at the reception desk.

no one asks my name when i come in. they know who i am because of why i am there.

five more minutes.

ultrasound.

i saw it on the screen. it looked similar to how it did four days ago at that ultrasound.
that ultrasound where it measured a week small, but had a strong heartbeat, so no one challenged the calendar math
it looked similar to how it did four days ago at that ultrasound. but cloudy. the screen was darker. the parts less defined.
the sonographer moved quickly, taking measurements.
i don’t want to keep you waiting. there’s not a heartbeat.
i hold my breath and close my eyes but tears come out anyway.
i have to take a few more measurements. ill be quick, i just wanted you to know.

i sit in a room and wait. rationalize. silent tears.
the doctor comes in and we talk options. lots of them. but don’t make a decision today. wait and think.

i call jon.

i lost the baby.
that’s what i want to say.
but i can’t make the words come out.
it’s not lost.
i saw it.

the baby died.

that’s what i say. it doesn’t sound as nice, but it’s true.

i know why we told everyone. i say. i know we told everyone because no one talks about this stuff and if something happened – i would want our friends to know. i would want people to watch me go through it in a way that’s glorifying to God. and i still think that. but this. will. be. hard.

mommy, you sad? i get you a kleenex.

shilah desktop

the everyday: part 3 {march 9, 2012}

This kid is loving life.

 

Waking up early.

Skipping naps and requesting elmo instead.

Broken of a pacifier.

Counting to 10.

Eating jalepeno chips.

Talking with her hands, not sign language-style, but i-am-a-girl style.

On a super strong antibiotic that is clearing an infection that has been lingering for probably six months.

Speaking in full sentences. Most often:

  • “I want to go to grocery store?”
  • “Mama kiss it? All better.”
  • “Shilah big girl. Give paa-faa to Babu Beau.”
  • “Where it go? I FOUND IT!”
  • “Shilah read hungry cat-pillar, booooo-tiful buuhh-fly”

Yes, I know some of those weren’t full sentences.

On a related note, we have been careful not to get her stuck on saying “mine!” and consequently, she speaks in the third person often. Better? Worse? Oops.

I shall leave you with are a few great parenting reads for the weekend:

An article in the Huffington Post:

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And, a delightful read on parenting:

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a purple baby shower {baby violet}

On Saturday, I had the honor of hosting a baby shower. Honor. I mean it. What an amazing friend we got to celebrate, and I had four other ladies to put this shower on with me. Talk about the party planning dream team.

Scott and Lydia are having a baby girl. Her name will be Violet, which I think is beautiful. And it fits Lydia. Scott too, but it really fits Lydia. I love it.

I had Scott answer a bunch of questions that we were going to go through at the party but we didn’t even get the chance. Scott left a note at the end, how happy he was that Lydia gave him the gift of naming this little girl Violet and in an instant it occurred to me that this name I have been thinking of, praying for, talking about for months that fit Lydia so, so well…was Scott’s idea. And I thought that was pretty special, how well the three of them will fit together.

Anyhow, we did a photobooth at the party, which was a great way to get pictures of people at the shower and avoid all of those awkward sitting-down-opening-presents shots I usually get. These are way better.

Friends:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A special appearance by Nana from NC!

 

 

There’s a veggie dip in the bottom of these cups. What a wonderful and mess-free idea!

a pretty mobile with something we want our children to know: God loves His childres/with a never stopping/never giving up/unbreaking/always/and forever/love.

A step back from the photobooth:

Notes for Lydia

Make a headband for baby V.

Sign a frame for V’s room


 

 

 

 

a side of pretzel {recipe: pretzel rolls}

who doesn’t like a side of pretzel?

these pretzel rolls are delish, but serve them aside a salad or something of the sort because they are, um, dense. it’s a lot of bread, but who’s complaining?

pretzel roll

Pretzel Rolls

adapted from une bonne vie

makes 8 large rolls

Dough Ingredients

  • 3-3.5 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, lukewarm
  • 1/2 cup water, lukewarm water
  • Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Water Bath Ingredients

  • 7 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons baking soda

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 200
  • Combine 3 cups of flour and teaspoon of salt in a large bowl.
  • In a small container, mix yeast with warmed milk and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Add canola oil and warmed water to yeast mixture.
  • Pour yeast mixture into with flour and salt.
  • Hand-knead in the bowl until dough is mostly smooth. Add more flour if your dough cannot be easily handled. The dough will be somewhat stiff.
  • Turn off preheated oven.
  • Cover the bowl with a dish towel and put in warm oven to rise for one hour.
  • Punch down dough and knead in bowl for one minute. Cut dough into 8 pieces.
  • Form balls by pushing dough into a circle in your palm, and then pull all of the outside edges of the dough to the center and pinch.
  • Place dough balls seam side down on a well-greased surface.
  • Let the dough balls rise for 15 minutes.
  • While the dough balls are rising, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and get the pretzel “bath” ready. In a large pot, bring water, salt, and baking soda to a rolling boil.
  • Plunge three dough balls into the water and let them “poach” for 1 minute total. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a well-greased baking sheet. They will be sort of slimy.
  • With a serrated knife, cut 2-3 lines across each roll and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until pretzels are a rich brown.  These are best eaten the same day they are made.

free valentines printables {free download}

it’s the day before valentine’s day.

maybe you need some valentines.

you’re in luck. i know, you didn’t think you’d get lucky today. you’re planning your last-minute trip to spend 4x too much on valentines at walgreens right now.

there are three different valentines – you can click the link to the pdf below each one and you’ll get an 8.5×11 document with four valentines per page.

i made these for an amazing party that a friend threw last weekend, hope you enjoy them too!

click here to download the red valentine PDF.

click here to download the pink valentine PDF.

click here to download the blue valentine PDF.

free for personal use. please do not sell.

on-hand dessert {recipe: the best, easiest, most reliable chocolate chip cookies}

These cookies are amazing. I have made three batches each time, and every time I form the dough into five logs, wrap them in plastic wrap, drop them all in a big Ziploc bag, and put them in the freezer.

Then when people are over for dinner, or I’m headed out to see a friend, I take out a log, preheat the oven, break the dough into chunks, and drop it on a cookie sheet.

Delicious homemade cookies in 10 minutes. Wonderful.

The Best, Easiest, Most Reliable Chocolate Chip Cookies

makes about 72. adapted from MADE.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 6 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 bags choc chips (12 oz bags) – 1 semi-sweet, 1 milk chocolate, 1/2 bag white chocolate
Instructions:
  1. Mix the shortening and butter with white and brown sugar, three minutes.
  2. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix seven minutes (a long mixing time is necessary to completely combine the ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together (flour, baking soda, and salt). Add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix. Then add the other 1/2 and mix.
  4. Add in the chocolate chips and mix.
  5. Refrigerate dough while oven preheats to 350.
  6. Place 1/4-cup balls of dough on an ungreased cookie sheet (NOT nonstick is better for this – just a regular pan)
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-9 minutes or just until the cookies are barely golden on parts of their tops. Allow them to cool for a few minutes and transfer to a cooking rack.

If you make the whole recipe of dough, you can freeze some for later:

  • Divide the dough up into 4 or 5 piles on pieces of plastic wrap.
  • Use the plastic wrap and your hands to shape each pile into a loaf.
  • Roll them up inside of the plastic wrap.
  • Place them all in a ziplock bag together. Put them in the freezer.
  • When you’re ready to bake a few cookies, take out a cookie loaf. Cut off chunks of dough and bake them as above but for 11-12 minutes.