thredUP Review

Have you heard of Platos Closet? Well, good news for all my fellow online shopping nerds! There’s a website that is similar to Platos! SCORE!
It’s called thredUP and they sell gently used, name brand clothing shoes and accessories. Oh- and much to my happiness they sell plus sizes!! DOUBLE SCORE!

I saw a link for it on a Work at Home forum that I follow, so I figured what the heck I’ll check it out. I received the $20 credit for being a newbie.  I quickly found a pair of Torrid Jeans (retails around $65) and a pair of Old Navy joggers for myself (retails around $30).

I had to pay shipping, but the pants were free. So I paid less than $9.00 for two pairs of good pants. My oldest daughter signed up, ordered her $20 worth of stuff (2 dress tops and some workout wear) and BLAM I got another $20! Coincidentally thredUP sent out a 20% off AND free shipping coupon the next day. So I ordered a pair of really awesome skater style deck shoes and paid $2.39.

The packaging is a cardboard envelope, fully recyclable. Some of you may not care, but the actual items presentation was impressive! Your order comes neatly folded, wrapped in funky tissue paper with a cool ENJOY sticker sealing it up. You get return instructions and a little book about the company.

The only negative that we have found is the shipping time. Our first order took 8 days to get here. BUT it was well worth it. You can’t tell that any of these things have been worn! Just keep in mind the long shipping times when ordering. They do have expedited shipping available though. I’m not complaining, just stating the facts!

If you think this is something you are interested in please use my link to sign up! You get $20 (just pay shipping, less than gas to the mall!) and I’ll get another $20 to buy some new work shirts! My referral link: $20 is yours for the spending!

 

 

2007 Mazda 5 review

Are you thinking of buying a 2007 Mazda5? Well, let me give you my honest opinion first.

The Mazda5 wears low profile tires. When I bought my car I was naive and thought I could just change them out for full size tires. Nope. That’s how the car is built. Because of the low to ground factor it scrapes on things normal cars would just roll over. I once got completely stuck in a tiny bit of mud and had to be pulled out. It was quite embarrassing. This also means it handles poorly in snow. Maybe different tires would make this a bit better.

The cabin is noisy. It quite literally sounds like there’s nothing between you and the engine. This is perhaps one of my biggest pet peeves about the car.

There is a third row. So the Mazda5 does technically seat 6. However, the third row will not comfortably fit any one over five feet tall or with average length legs. The air conditioning and heat take awhile to reach all the way back there. So it’s really not ideal for full time usage. Also, when you have the third row up your trunk area is almost nil. So imagine trying to fit a family of six and Christmas presents from three sets of people in there? Yeah, it’s not pleasant.

The gas mileage on the Mazda5 is decent for the size of it. It doesn’t have a large tank, so that’s unfortunate. I don’t have specific numbers but currently it’s around $35.00 to fill from around ¼ tank. My daughter was driving about half an hour one way to work, three days a week and one hour once a week to dance class and this took most of the tank.

The Mazda5 uses the computerized key fob with the jack knife style key. These cost roughly $300 to replace. My car only came with one. So I always freak out about people losing or breaking the key. I like the jack knife style, but I don’t like the price tag on the computer fob.

So, you may be asking what do I like? I don’t actually hate everything about this car. I like the side sliding doors, those are nice. My particular Mazda5 came with a DVD player and wireless headphones, so that is great for trips. It also has a six CD changer, which I personally appreciate very very much. I like the seat adjustments, the lumbar support is probably my favorite.

There are lots of cup holders, if you’ve ever had a car where there wasn’t enough you can understand why this makes me happy. There’s one for each seat, one in each front door and an extra one in the middle of the 2nd row. SO MANY CUPS!!

So there’s my short and to the point review. Don’t buy the Mazda5 if you need all six seats every day. Don’t buy a Mazda5 if you like to drive through mud. Do buy it if you value cup holders!

Milly in the city crossbody purse pattern

milly in the city

Milly in the city cross body purse

I wanted to make a cross body clutch sized purse for those times when I don’t really need my big purse. While heading to Washington DC with my husband and parents I came up with this! I named the pattern after my Mom and the trip, hence Milly in the city!
There’s really so many variations that you could do with this. You could use any yarn really, add in some stripes, change up the closure, whatever you want! The finished product fits my cell phone, my small wallet with room for chapstick, lip gloss, car keys or any small item. The first one I made with Caron One pounder, and it holds it’s shape really well. The second one, shown in the bottom photo was made with Lion Brand Heartland, it doesn’t hold it’s shape as well, but once you have your things in it it’s fine.

Yarn- Any.
Gauge- isn’t super important
Hook size- I used H, but hook size isn’t super important.
Button of your choosing
Needle for weaving in ends
Stitches used:
Ch- chain
SC- single crochet
HDC- half double crochet
DC- double crochet
Back loop only- instead of working through both loops of the previous row, insert hook into middle of stitch and work only in the loop at back.

*Ch. 26
*Row 1: SC in second CH from hook and continue across, ch.1 and turn (25)
*Row 2-6: HDC across, CH. 1 and turn (25)
* Row 7- This is the beginning of the side. HDC in back loop (see photo at the bottom) only across, 2 HDC in last. Working along the short side HDC 6, HDC 2 in the corner. On the second long side, HDC in back loop only, 2 HDC in last. 6 HDC across short side, 1 HDC in last corner. Slip stitch to first HDC, CH 1.
* Row 8 : HDC around, slip stitch and CH1.
*Row 9-20: repeat row 8. (you can HDC around more rows if you want a deeper purse.)

STRAP-
*Row 1- after CH.1 from row 20, turn your work and HDC 5, ch 1, turn.
*Row 2- HDC 5, CH 1, turn.
*Row 3- Ch. 3, skip 2, DC, go back and DC in previous stitch (this forms an X), DC in last stitch, CH 1 and turn.
*Row 4- HDC across, CH 1 and turn (4)
Repeat Row 4 until this side of the strap measures 27”, fasten off. Attach to opposite side and repeat from Row 1 of Strap section.

Closure Flap-
*Row 1- Attach in 2nd stitch from strap, HDC 22, CH. 1 and turn.
* Row 2-6: HDC across (22)
*Row 7: HDC 10, CH long enough to make a loop that fits around your button, Skip 2 stitches, HDC across the last 10, fasten off. Weave in ends.

Attach the button in the middle, using the loop as a guide. Enjoy!

IMAG3592      IMAG3588_1

How to display a shawl for a basket raffle

I happily volunteered to crochet a shawl for a basket raffle that a local charity is having.

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But I had no idea how to display it for the raffle! I looked on pinterest, Google and even asked a huge crochet group I belong to. No luck! You mean I had to use my head? Yes.

I came up with this!

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I used brown craft paper to form a neck and shoulder ( I used scotch tape to secure it). It’s sitting on a snack tray because I wanted to display the edging and a basket wouldn’t work. It’s so easy and aside from the actual shawl it only cost $4 to make!

 

If you are interested the shawl pattern came from Beatrice Ryan Designs and can be found here:

http://www.beatriceryandesigns.com/2014/07/15/midnight-breeze-shawl/

2014 update- Surviving the Mid-Atlantic Oireachtas

Oireachtas can seem daunting at first. But with all the chaos and crowds it is still very possible to have a fun trip without totally breaking the bank! I hope the tips on this page will help at least a little 🙂

Oireachtas is held at the Downtown Marriott. Generally people stay there or at the Courtyard Marriott which is across the street. Our first year we stayed a few blocks away at the Hilton Garden Inn, it was a great hotel but what a pain in the butt dragging everything to the Marriott and then having to lug it around all day was. We also stayed at The Lowes across the street once, amazing hotel but VERY pricey. We stay at the Courtyard now. In my opinion the only reason to choose the Marriott over the Courtyard is the pure convenience of staying the same hotel that the competitions are in. Don’t get me wrong, there is something to be said for that but life is peaceful at the Courtyard! They have free Wi-Fi in the rooms, Marriott does not. Most rooms have mini fridges. The wait for elevators is much much shorter. It has a hot tub, which is often filled with people but still if you can get a space it’s oh so relaxing! I would say that 9 times out of 10 you can be from the Courtyard to the Marriott in less than 10 minutes.

Neither hotel has breakfast included. One year I brought our toaster, we have even seen people with microwaves on their luggage carts! A small breakfast that can be taken on the go is preferable if you have competitions in the AM anyway. Granola bars, fruit etc. I have a large tote bag that I carry with me with snacks, tissues, gum, napkins, the kitchen sink (haha kidding), and water.

In the direct vicinity of Oireachtas is a 24 hour 7/11. They have a nice selection of beverages, sandwiches, snacks and even hard boiled eggs. The Reading Market is kitty corner to the Marriott, I strongly recommend going there. Every food you could want is available there, at mostly affordable prices. Be aware that it is always packed in there though, so keep your dancers close! The market’s hours are: Monday through Saturday: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm and Sunday : 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. They are closed on Thanksgiving Day. There is a Starbucks right inside the Marriott, or if you prefer Dunkin Donuts there is one accessible by going out past the Liberty Ballroom and riding the escalators down! Other restaurants that are literally right there: Chili’s, Hard Rock Cafe, Maggiano’s and the restaurants inside the hotels.

Last year we discovered this amazing pizza place called Zio’s. They have fantastic food AND deep fried canoli balls which are easily in my top 10 desserts ever. Zio’s is a short walk from the Marriot. The address is 111 S. 13th Street. If you go out the front doors of the Marriot, on the right you will see a cross walk. This is 13th street, cross the street heading south down 13th and in about 10 minutes you’re there!

I was able to use a restaurant.com gift certificate at 13 inside the Marriott for several years but I see they aren’t on the list any longer. However, there are many restaurant’s within 1 mile of the Marriott still on there.  I urge you to check that out to save some money. There is even a restaurant.com app to download so that you don’t have to print anything.

Chinatown is close by as well, that’s always worth checking out!

There are drug stores, clothing shops and a mall all in quick walking distance. So pretty much anything you may need is accessible easily. Each year we have forgotten something, which generally means a walk to Kmart or CVS.

Of course each hotel has valet parking but if you prefer to save a few dollars and use a lot or garage you can find them by using this:

http://philapark.org/locator/

Another thing I love to tell people about is the Dickens Village across the street at Macy’s. It’s awesome! You walk through and are told the story of “A Christmas Carol”. Oh my gosh I love it! The center of the store has a light show that is really impressive too. It’s really worth going over to check out.

If you are bringing non-dancer children make sure they have things to occupy themselves while waiting for their siblings to get on stage because it might be awhile. As with feising you won’t be able to tell exactly when you will be done for the day, so keep that in mind when trying to make plans.

Each night there’s a party in the lobby. These are a great way to relax and cut loose with your dance family! Or if you prefer there’s a lovely bar over at the Courtyard that is often a lot quieter!

Being a first time “O” parent can be stressful, it’s like a feis, only so much MORE. Just breathe it will all be OK. There are literally hundreds of families there who were newbies once too so you aren’t alone. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, we’ve all been there 🙂

Gluten free peanut butter chocolate brownies

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My friend just started a gluten free diet. So because I like to feed people and know how frustrating it is to have diet restrictions I made some gluten free peanut butter/ chocolate brownies for her.  I’ve never in my life made or eaten gluten free brownies, so I have nothing to compare them too. But, if you like
fudgy as opposed to cakey brownies these are right up your alley! The batter will be a little thicker than cake batter as shown:

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Ingredients
1/2 cup butter (equivalent to 1 stick), unsalted
One bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
4 large eggs
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Line an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with parchment paper or tin foil, grease it with cooking spray, and set it aside.
In a large bowl, microwave the butter to melt it.
Add the chocolate chips and all of the peanut butter into the bowl with the melted butter and microwave it until all of the ingredients are melted. (Heat it initially for 1 minute, stir, and then heat in 15 second increments until completely melted.)
Whisk in the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract until it’s smooth.Whisk in the cocoa powder until it’s smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake it for about 25-30 minutes or until an inserted tester comes out clean.
Allow the brownies to cool completely.

The consensus was mixed ( one didn’t like the peanut butter taste, one didn’t like the consistency BUT a bunch of people really liked them). The original recipe calls for a chocolate drizzle, I didn’t do that but next time I think I will make a chocolate peanut butter drizzle!
I got the original recipe from- http:// http://tinaschic.com/2014/05/flourless-chocolate-and-peanut-butter-fudgy-brownies/

PS. Please excuse my not so awesome photos!

Common core 2:00 AM ramblings

It’s 2:00 AM. I’ve been obsessing over common core and what to do about it all day. I’ve decided to ramble.
I do not want Syeira to take these “tests”.
Reports come home 4 times a year, with 5 week reports at the half way mark of each. These are far more informative than the state test “results” we get several months later. Papers are returned to the student often, proactive parents see these and know how their kids are doing in school.
In high school I had an earth science teacher. Nearly everyone failed or got far below their normal grade. Obviously, this was a teaching failure. My class was not the first time he had received these results. Teacher removed, new teacher for the next year, much better results. Why do we need these grandiose tests to measure teachers?? Shouldn’t it be apparent if they’re capable or not without them? I do not this common core method is a fair way to measure a teachers ability.

Syeira does not do well in math. I know this, she knows this, her teachers have always known it. These tests are damn near impossible for her. They stress her out. The rate at which they must move along in the classroom makes it all the more harder for her. There just isn’t time for kids who may need that extra bit of help. Opting out is not about “covering up” her weakness. These tests undermine her already fragile confidence. Each year scoring low on the math section has further destroyed her confidence. Without this perceived failure maybe she could be built up. With confidence comes success. I believe math would be so much easier for her if she could just believe in herself.

No one knows what is on these tests exactly. It’s not like chapter tests where you can say okay kids study chapter four and that’s what you’ll be tested on. So you have to hope that your kid has been taught what’s on the test this year.

I feel that the students are being used as pawns. Pawns for corporations to make money, corporations like Pearson. The public school system is not and should not be treated as a corporation. By the way, David Coleman who is the architect of common core has never spent time teaching in a class room. Does that even make sense??
We don’t see actual results. Teachers don’t see actual results. You get a stat chart that shows where your child fell percentile wise. It’s not helpful at all. Again, we get papers home constantly from school where we can look and see what EXACTLY our children got wrong or right.

My child’s education is my responsibility and it should be my right to opt out of the state tests. It is my right. I should be able to invoke this right with out backlash at Syeira. While I do not feel as some do that sit and stare is abuse I do think it’s unfair and is used as punishment to children whose parents have opted them out. There should be no problem in being able to read a book that they have brought with them. Books are educational. They give the child something to keep them from fidgeting.

I am disappointed in the Medina district. Both for the misinformed response I received from the principal and their participation the sit and stare option. I would prefer to send Syeira to school on these testing days, but I will keep her home if needed. I have not spoken to one single teacher who supports common core. Why not do what you can to make the people who want to stand against it have an easier time? It’s not just about the kids, it’s about the educators too. I want you, the teachers to be in charge of the classroom. I want you to be able to teach to the students, not to the test. You didn’t become teachers to spend a chunk of time rushing to prepare your class for an impossible test. I’d like to think you became a teacher to nurture and grow children’s minds. Those minds are not standard so why should they be given standardized tests?

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