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Same blog, new site!

Please head over to http://thechamplife.com/ and follow me there!

New site, long story

January 23, 2013

It all started with wanting to figure out how to set up a linky party… and somehow I fell down the rabbit hole and ended up self-hosting my blog. I’ll spare you all the details that took me from Step 1 to Step 847, but nonetheless big changes have happened.

My new URL is:

http://thechamplife.com/

 

I’m sorry to have to ask this of you, but could you pretty please jet over there and follow that instead of this? With sugar on top?

Details on the Monday Review linky party are up over there, so don’t miss it!

The Monday Review vol. 2

January 21, 2013

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This week we will be talking about a hair product: Not Your Mother’s Kinky Moves Curl Defining Hair Cream (whew! a mouthful!):

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Let me preface this by telling you about the situation on my head so you can really understand why this product caught my interest so easily. My hair is thick, coarse, and a combination of curly/wavy. If you read all of that and heard “poofy with a tendency to frizz”, then you heard correctly. This is why I keep my hair long, after years of trial and error running the gamut of hairstyles from short to where I am now. The length weighs it down, which combats the poof nicely. In a Revolution-esque world without electricity, I would weep the loss of my straightener. It’s the first time (that I can recall) that I actually like my hair. But straightening the mass amount of hair I have gets tedious, and in the back of my head I always have the thought: If only I could find something that would make my curls nice so I wouldn’t have to do this all the time.

So, as I was browsing Pinterest (as I am wont to do) and saw this picture:

I was like a moth to the flame. A very hopeful moth. As soon as I was able to get to Walmart to purchase this stuff, I did.

You guys… I wanted to love this stuff. Words cannot even express. I was sure- so sure!- that I would get out of the shower, apply this magical cream to my hair and a ray of sunshine would come down through the parted clouds while birds chirped and angels sang and my curls would appear flawless and lovely.

This did not actually happen. Somehow, I don’t know how, it made my curls less curly than they would have been sans product. They were stringy and weird. I will show you what it looked like, but under duress:

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Yikes. Just… yikes.

What went wrong? Was it user error? Did I apply too much or too little? Is it because of my shampoo? The tube said you could blow dry or air dry your hair, and I chose to air dry (I almost never blow dry my hair since the heat tends to pump up the poof). Lacey of Lace and Lacquers (whose picture I linked above) also let hers air dry… and just look at how hers turned out! Everyone’s hair texture is different, and I know this, but the way she described her hair texture sounded similar enough to mine that I had high hopes.

If I feel up to it this week, I may try one more time. I mean… I have a full tube of this stuff now and it’s totally useless to me just sitting there, so it’s worth giving it another shot. Just to see. Can you tell I’m really having a hard time letting the hope die? If by some miracle it works out for me and I figure out why it went so awry this time, I’ll let you know. If you never hear about it again, just assume that it got hidden away in the dark recesses of my closet where it will stay until a future purge.

But on a brighter note, let me give you an update on last week’s Monday Review. The big question that remained was what effect using the Monistat Chafing Gel as primer would have on my skin. Specifically, I was concerned with breakouts. I am happy to report that nothing like that happened at all. My skin remains clear. I will say that I do wash my face every night before bed to remove makeup, but that was part of my regular routine and not something I started doing because of the Chafing Gel. My makeup has held up with no issues or sliding or weirdness, and I am officially sold on this substitution.

Stay tuned for next week when I will be reviewing a Not Your Mother’s hair product (purchased at the same time as this bummer) that I actually really do love.

Glorious Weekend

January 20, 2013

Mark had a long weekend this week, and it was so awesome. It was exactly the kind of weekend I feel like we’ve been needing for a while.

We got some projects done around the house, including starting in on what will be the baby’s room, and made a lot of headway there. I have big plans (and still a bit to do!) for the nursery and can’t wait to get it all together. We also spent a lot of time on the couch as a family watching movies and just being together. I kept walking by my sewing table, looking at all of the blocks I have to piece for this next quilt top… but instead of working on it, I just hung out with the boys. There’s not too much time left for it to be just the three of us, and while we’re all so excited be welcoming a little girl, we’ve been a family of three for three years now and it was just nice to enjoy our time together and connect before big changes come. I hope we get more weekends like this one in the coming months!

In other big news- Little MarkĀ peed on the potty twice! This is huge here. He’s been pretty resistant to the whole thing, and the last thing I wanted was to make potty training a battle royale with a stubborn toddler, so I didn’t really push him. We’ve been asking him frequently if he wants to try, and he’s been saying no, and we’ve let it be. I knew it would happen eventually, so I didn’t want to pressure him especially since he seemed scared of the potty (long story). Anyway, I’m glad we waited until he was really ready instead of forcing it. He was so excited and proud of himself. I’m sure we have more work and some accidents in our future, but that’s okay. Just the fact that he tried- and succeeded!- twice in one night is a great start.

So, that’s been the happenings. I hope you all enjoy what’s left of the weekend with your families!

7 Quick Takes vol. 7

January 18, 2013

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 201)

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Today my baby brother is graduating from Basic Military Training for the Air Force!

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Here’s a blurry shot of him from yesterday. Congratulations, bro! We are all so, so proud of you!

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I am going to be very, very careful of what I title my blog posts from now on. My last one was “Slice and Dice“, and it ended up being way more apropos then I could have imagined. I was cutting fabric with my rotary cutter, and ended up cutting my finger- right through my fingernail. My first thought is inappropriate to share for the class-act blog I’m trying to run around here, but it was immediately followed by, “Oh no! The fabric!” Naturally, I was cutting white fabric. Thankfully I did not get blood on it, and aside from being unable to wear nail polish on my thumb for the foreseeable future, it looks like I’ll live.

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I’ve started a new series, and if you missed Monday’s review, go check it out! I reviewed Monistat Chafing Gel as facial primer, which sounds way weirder than it actually is. I’ll have an update on that this Monday, as well as a review for a different product. And I’d love to hear reviews of any new products you have tried (I’m a glutton for that stuff), so if you’ve even kind of blogged about something you’ve tried recently, leave a comment and let me know!

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Speaking of reviews, I recently signed up for this nifty little sample service offered by Birchbox. For $10 a month, they send you a box (monthly) with samples of beauty products. And don’t feel left out, men! There is a man version of Birchbox, but for whatever reason yours costs $20 a month. Anyway, you earn 10 points for each sample that you review from your box, and 100 points equals $10 on their site to buy full-sized products. If you refer a friend, you earn 50 points. It almost ends up paying for itself. Almost. There’s no contract, so no commitment, and you can cancel anytime. It’s been really fun so far, and getting that little box of samples has been a treat every month.

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This little baby is way more active than I remember Little Mark being in utero. I’m not really sure when she rests, because it seems like she’s always moving. I mentioned to my husband that she wiggles all the time, and he informed me that he feels her move at night when I’m sleeping. Little Mark was a really laid-back baby, so I’m wondering if this pre-birth activity level is indicative of post-birth energy. I just don’t have enough data to make a guess.

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My New Year’s Resolution to drink more water is still going really well. I keep mentioning it because I’m amazed at how well I’m sticking with it, and I’m clinging to this moment of success for all it’s worth. The other day I poured myself a glass of Pepsi for the first time in a couple weeks, and literally could not drink more than the first sip. It was too sweet. Too much… I don’t know. It grossed me out. Besides my morning coffee all I’ve been drinking is water. My skin looks better. I feel better. I know it’s way, way too early to call 2013 a success, but so far it’s looking like January will be at least!

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Just because I feel like these takes are pretty text-heavy and short on pictures, here’s a shot of Quilt #3 coming along:

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The blocks are being squared! See how the white fabric is bloodless? I’m thoughtful like that.

Go see Jen and all the folk at Conversion Diary for more takes! And don’t forget to keep her, her family, and her recovery in your prayers!

Slice and Dice

January 16, 2013

I wanted to get started on Quilt # 3 yesterday, but when I looked around my house and saw all of the tasks I had neglected in the mad rush to finish the chevron quilt, I just couldn’t justify putting it off again. So this is as far as I got:

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Pattern math. Today I will begin slicing up the fabric, which is my least favorite part of the whole process. But- it must be done! Depending on how quickly I accomplish that, I may even start piecing blocks. We will see.

I mentioned in Friday’s 7 Quick Takes that I had a head cold, courtesy of Little Mark. The good news is that it’s out of my head, which is awesome because I was getting pretty sick of feeling like I was walking around with a bowling ball on my shoulders. The bad news is that it’s migrated to my chest, so now I’m coughing like a lunatic. Good times. I actually feel fine- I just sound like Marge Simpson’s sisters.

It’s super flattering. I can’t decide if I’d rather be the pink one or the blue one. I can’t decide if it’s weird that that was my first thought after inserting that image. You be the judge. Or… don’t, please.

So that’s that. A thrilling Wednesday all around, as you can imagine.

The Second Quilt: The Saga Continues

January 15, 2013

I finished my second quilt yesterday. It’s for Little Mark. I had gotten a little fat quarter bundle for Christmas and wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do with it, but then inspiration hit and I decided I would make a chevron quilt. Here’s a little photographic journal of how it went:

First I cut a million squares and made my half-square triangles (HSTs):

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Then, I pieced those together and made my chevron blocks, and squared them:

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This is where I made a pretty stupid mistake. When I squared my first set of blocks, I cut the bottom pretty flush with the bottom point of the chevron (as you can see). It hit me like lightning: When I piece these blocks into rows, the bottom is going to be blunted, not pointy. Without leaving that little bit of excess on the bottom to account for the seam allowance between rows… well, there went my perfectly pointy chevron. I decided to keep doing it that way, figuring that it would be better for all the blocks to end up a little blunted than for some of them to while the rest were pointy. I soldiered on.

I laid out all of my blocks into rows in the order I wanted the colors to be:

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And sewed them together.

I had a rough time deciding what I wanted to do to quilt this thing. I had an idea initially in mind, and when I was ready to get started on the actual quilting I couldn’t find the guide to my walking foot anywhere. (Actually, I still can’t. I did find all of my sewing feet removed from their little baggie and lined up in a neat row in front of my machine, but no guide to be found. I’m pretty sure the little boy who lined up the feet is behind the missing guide bar- since that is where it was also kept- but, of course I have no proof of this.) Anyway- my initial quilting plan required lines that were equally distant, and I was too lazy to actually draw all those out, so I decided to just echo the chevron using the edge of my walking foot as a guide.

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Now that it’s quilted, I have to say that I am really glad that I did it this way instead of the original design I had in mind. It’s just so cute, and it makes the back of the quilt so much more interesting.

Then it was time to bind!

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I decided to do a scrappy binding using all of the colors from the chevron. The binding was the part I was most anxious to try this time, because I had such a hard time with it last time, and thought I learned how to improve. Now that it’s over, I can definitely say: it went so much better this time! It’s not a perfect binding (though I’m starting to question how perfect you can actually get your binding when you sew it on completely by machine), but it’s pretty damned good for a second quilt. All I was looking for was improvement, and I am happy with it.

The final product:

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All in all, besides improved precision in execution (something I’m sure can only come with time and practice), my only real complaint with this quilt is the mistake I made when I squared up my blocks that didn’t let them be super pointy. I’m really happy with how it turned out, and even Mark says he can see a marked difference in improvement between the first quilt and this one.

I have fabric ready to go for the next project, and finally settled on a design last night so I’m ready to start quilt #3! Again, all I’m really looking for is to see improvement. I’m trying not to overwhelm myself with a laundry list of things to improve on because I don’t want this to be something that stops being fun, or it’s just not worth it. Practice is the key to mastering anything, I think, and I have a long way to go after all!

As an aside- I realize that the iPhone pictures are just not cutting it. It’s hard to really see what the quilt looks like. My real, actual, adult camera is in the closet that will soon be the baby’s room, and we’re hoping to get that cleaned out and organized this weekend. I will dig it out, and start taking better pictures!

The Monday Review

January 14, 2013

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I’m starting a new series that I’ve been wanting to do for a while. One of my favorite kinds of blog posts to read are reviews that other people do of products they’ve tried, especially anything beauty/hair/health. I also really like trying new stuff. So when I came across the topic of today’s review on Pinterest, I figured it was a great time to start The Monday Review. To be clear: I don’t consider myself an expert or some kind of guru filled with knowledge that makes me super-qualified to do reviews- I’m just a regular person talking about how much I like or dislike a product in my regular life. If this is something you think you’d like to get in on, too, then I’d be happy to turn it into a linky party if there’s enough interest. And it doesn’t have to be cosmetic in nature… just whatever new product or technique you’ve tried, or whatever it is that you want to review. (Pinterest is a gold mine for this, with all its many DIY recipes from masks to household cleaners to crafts, etc.) It’s just fun, I think. Anyway, enough about that- let’s get to it!

Monistat Chafing Gel as Foundation Primer?

If, like me, you hear the word “Monistat” and have the Pavlovian reaction of running towards the hills, let me hasten to assure you it is not that Monistat. Totally different product:

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This may be old news to some, but as I was browsing Pinterest the other night, I came across a pin that claimed that this gel is the same formula as pricier foundation primers (such as Smashbox) and had never heard this claim before in my life. I have no idea if the formula is exactly the same, but the active ingredient that counts is dimethicone. Currently, I have been using bareMinerals Prime Time, which I love. However, with a difference in price of almost $20 (plus the difference of half an ounce more product for that much less cash)…. well, I figured that was almost $20 I could be spending on something else if it worked. If not, I’d be out less than $6 and be that much the wiser. So I grabbed some at Target, and it happened to be on sale.

I have to say that it felt exactly the same (or at least extremely similar) to my name brand primer when I applied it. I honestly don’t think I would have been able to tell the difference if I had been blindfolded. It left my skin feeling silky, and my makeup went on smoothly.

As for staying power, this does the job as well as my Prime Time. My makeup didn’t shift around or settle into lines or disappear, so high marks for that as well.

I’m ready to call this a win, but the only factor that I don’t have data on yet is simply time. I’m going to keep using this for the next week to make sure that it doesn’t have some horrible effect on my face like a breakout. I don’t see why it would, but you never know. I’ll update on that aspect of it next Monday. Barring that possibility, I’ll stick with this. It’s nothing against my Prime Time primer (which as I said, I absolutely love- and if the thought of buying a Monistat product skeeves you out and you don’t mind shelling out $23 for primer, I recommend it in a heartbeat), but as far as I can see (and feel), this does the same job for a lot less.

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