Archives for the month of: August, 2012

In case you’ve been under a rock the past five years, Vera Bradley is seemingly an essential piece of wardrobe in a lot of women’s closets. Honestly, when I first saw the prints I hated them, but after re-modeling a lot of their patterns and bringing in fresh ones every season, they have me hooked.

Needless to say, I use my ID/Wallet/Phone holder a lot. I used it at school every day, so it got pretty dingy. Not to mention, it’s black & white, so the white on the inside was a stark contrast to the outside.

About two weeks ago, I decided this had infuriated me enough to sit down and try to find some reasonable ways to clean it…without having to buy a specific cleaner. I already have a Coach cleaner, do I really need another?

A lot of sites on the web told me to not put in the wash..or to put it in the wash. Many said the use of a washing machine would bend the cardboard inside to the point where it won’t stay straight anymore. Now, before you all rush off buying the shampoo, you need to know that you don’t need a washing machine to do this. In fact…you just need water, a cloth, and a small amount of detergent.

I decided to use a Woolite travel packet, because I have a small rubbermaid full of them (seriously, I love these things, they work great). You can find them virtually anywhere and are perfect for college students, since it’s a lot less expensive than buying a full container of Woolite. One packet is good for a full load of hand-washed laundry, which is great for sweaters when you live in New England, like me.

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A little sneak preview of what my much-loved Vera Bradley wallet looks like, comparable to what the inside looks like:

Eewwww so dirty!! Image

Honestly? After I took that picture, I immediately started filling up my bathroom sink with warm water & Woolite. I then just proceeded to plunge the wallet into the sink, to hell with cardboard consequences!

So I took a dark colored washcloth (that I use for all my little washing projects that can’t just be tossed in the washer; ie dog toys). Dipping the cloth in the sudsy water, I scrubbed the entire wallet down, dunked it again, then scrubbed a second time.

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(Excuse the nails, work was brutal on them)

After I rinsed out the wallet, I squeezed it a little, taking care to not actually bend the wallet in case the cardboard was at it’s breaking point. I then laid out a dry towel on my armoire and left the wallet open face down to dry overnight.

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At first, I was a little worried because it didn’t look like it had thoroughly cleaned anything on the wallet. But the next afternoon, I was surprised to see how clean it was! I mean, you can clearly see the dirt when you rinse off your wallet after scrubbing it, but look at the difference!!

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I’m thoroughly impressed with how clean it came out. I did use a lot of Woolite, but last night I washed a second wallet, 2 lanyards, and 2 of my mother’s id cases and they came out just as well. I don’t know how well it would work with bargain brand detergent, because I always find Woolite gets things cleaner than normal, but you can always try!!

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It’s summertime…or near the end of summer time for a lot of us. That means last minute hauls to the beach with friends & family in tow. Spur of the moment beach trips are always fun & rewarding, but your bag shouldn’t reflect that. So I’ve compiled a list of things that are essential to any beach outing, planned or not. Don’t have time to pack the bag every time you head to the beach? Keep most of the essentials in the bag and toss in what you need the hour before.

TWO towels. Why two? Have you ever tried to sit comfortably in the car after a day at the beach? Leave an extra towel in the car so that when you get ready to go home, you have something dry underneath you. No one likes wet car seats.

Sunscreen. This should be obvious. It may seem like a waste of time, but after you get out of the water, make sure to re-apply. Unless you want to risk getting skin cancer or looking wrinkly at the age of forty, do this. Don’t forget to also bring sunscreen for your face! Aveeno makes a great SPF 30 for the face.

Hats and sunglasses. Again, this should be obvious, but I don’t know how many times I’ve gone to the beach with friends who’ve forgotten these things. You don’t need to bring your best sunglasses or hat either, I usually bring my cheap $3 sunglasses because they’re bound to get sand on them and they could possibly get smashed by running children.

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Extra baggies and napkins. It’s pretty obvious you should pack your lunch & some snacks for the beach. However, packing some large Ziploc bags can keep the trash sealed and away from pesky seagulls who want the ends of your bread or apple. Also, if you’re like me, you can easily collect some crazy-looking seashells to display in a glass case at your house. This will keep them from moving around in your bag, either breaking or spreading sand everywhere.

Camera, phone, money (all in a Ziploc bag). What’s with the zippered bags? Well, for one they keep the sand out of those tiny crevices in your phone or camera that would completely ruin them. Second, it keeps all three important things in one place, so when you grab the plastic bag to grab a snack at the vendor, you know you have all the important things with you.

Entertainment. Let’s face it, you can only do so much people watching at the beach, so bringing something like a book, iPod or magazine will help keep you entertained. I usually bring my ipod, an easy read book, and a magazine so that I can choose what I want to do. I do keep the iPod in the same baggie as the aforementioned camera/phone/money, so that it is kept away from the sand.

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Baby powder. Say what? Why baby powder, without the baby, you may ask. Well, you know how you’re running around in the sand all day? Forget showering your feet off at the outdoor showers after you’re done & ready to go home. Just before you hop into the car, sprinkle some baby powder on your feet & rub it off. The sand will come off automatically and also help keep your feet fresh. Keep a travel size bottle in the car for late night beach walks as well.

Water, water, water…in a cooler. You may be surrounded by water, but that doesn’t mean you need to skimp out on bringing water. I suggest each person bringing a cold water, then one that is frozen. Halfway through your day at the beach, that frozen water should be melted enough to drink up, keeping you cooled down.

Beach blanket or mat. Some people use their beach towels to sit out in the sun (with sunscreen on, of course), but then those towels get really wet & who wants a bunch of wet towels? I usually bring an old blanket or a beach mat (a simple bamboo one works great). They’re larger, so you can sit more than one person on them, and they easily dry & roll up.

Blanket ‘chomps’ or clamps. You can find these anywhere during the summer, like <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Sand-and-Wind-Clips-Blanket/dp/B007AYRSR2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1342454809&sr=8-1&keywords=blanket+stakes”>these</a> at Amazon. They keep your blanket or towel anchored to the sand despite toes or wind kicking them up. If you live in the New England area, head over to your local Christmas Tree Store, all of which usually have a variety clamps at half the price.

Mini-first aid kit. Every lifeguard does have a first aid kit on their stand, but having a baggie with just some band-aids and aspirin is a lot easier than getting a lifeguard. Long exposure to sun can give people sun headaches and if you accidentally get cut by anything, those band-aids will come in handy.

Headband & extra elastics. Even if you go to the beach with your hair up, it’s helpful to have these two floating around in your bag. On more than one occasion, I’ve lost my elastic in the ocean while horsing around, so having one or two extra in my bag was extremely helpful. I also have a thick headband, like the no-sweat/no-slip wide bands, like Sweaty Bands that stay in place even in the water. Thick, colorful headbands will keep those wisps out of your face and help tame the frizz after you get out of the water.

Chair & umbrella. If you don’t want to bring an umbrella, or don’t have room for one, that’s fine. Just make sure you still have a hat to keep the sun off your face. A chair is pretty essential & I love the ones that come with their own bag and you can slip over your shoulder. In fact, I just spent a bit of money on a new one, a Sport-Brella chair. I bought the beach one, which comes in around $40 (but if you buy with a friend, it’s currently buy one, get one half off so it can be split $30 each way). These chairs are great, as they come WITH the umbrella that can be positioned any way you want. It may be a bit expensive, but it’s an umbrella & chair in one bag.

Cooler to keep all those snacks & drinks in. Bring one big enough to comfortably hold all the snacks & with outside zipper pockets to hold napkins, forks, & other utensils. Stuff a couple plastic shopping bags in there to toss the trash before you leave as well.

Bag big enough to keep everything in. I’m not talking a small tote bag that will easily get wet. Go out and buy an actual beach bag, one that is waterproof & large enough to hold all the aforementioned stuff (except the cooler, which you can carry separately). If you have a waterproof backpack, you can also bring that as well, which will help keep your hands free. Look around for a bag that will fit your style, as well as all your goodies.

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And last, but not least, enjoy your beach day! Summer only comes around for a few months, so make sure to get the best of it! 

If you have been on Pinterest, most likely you’ve seen variations of the following DIY. A main problem is that it doesn’t actually have a link up to show you step by step on how to construct this awesome (and kid friendly) DIY. And, trust me, it’s not as easy as painting a glass or candlestick with elmers glue.

I first took on this project about a month ago when I sauntered into my local Christmas Tree Store and found an entire section of Mason Jars. Obviously I bought about ten, at about 80 cents a pop (which is the cheapest I’ve seen in the Massachusetts area). I had Elmers glue, food coloring, and a couple random paintbrushes so I thought “Hey! This won’t be so hard…”

I wasn’t half wrong, either. I was mostly right, only there’s a slight science on how to do this. First off, you’ll need the following supplies:

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  • Elmers Glue
  • Food dye (I bought mine for $1 at the dollar store)
  • Paint brush (NOT a foam brush, trust me)
  • Paper plate or newspaper
  • Mason jar
  • No-flame candle for lighting (not shown)

The (1) first step is to get your color glue going. First, drop about a dime size amount of glue onto the plate (I did more than that, but I also did a couple candlesticks that I, unfortunately, did not get pictures of). (2)/(3) Then you want to to 2-3 drops of the food dye of your choice. Since I was going for purple, I did 2 drops of blue and 3 drops of red.

(4)Mix these together to form the color you want. Obviously, the purple is dark, but if you use the end of your paintbrush, you’ll be able to see the color if you wipe it on a paper towel.

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Your next step is to simply paint paint paint! This is a great craft for kids, because there are no lines & it’s Elmers glue, so you know it’s going to wash off. If you have a smooth surface to paint on, that’s great, but the mason jars I found are actually engraved so you have to work the tiniest bit harder to get into those grooves. You can choose to paint the bottom or the rim, but it’s up to you. I choose to paint the rim because I usually don’t top it off with the lid when I have the candle in there.

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Warning: If you glob on the Elmers, be prepared for drips & for it to take a lot longer to dry. Some is okay, because when lit it will give a different glow (the yellow one below is a drip one, for instance, the blue isn’t). Again, all up to you.

Let sit & dry, drop a LED/flameless tea candle in there and let it glow! (ps; should take an hour to dry)

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Oh and for the price tag?

Mason Jar: 80 cents
Food dye: $1.00/package
LED Candle: $1.99/eight package (Christmas Tree Store)
Paintbrush: $4.29 for an ‘artists’ package (Michaels)

Total: $8.08