Monday, September 14, 2015

Pinterest Water Blob Review

Hey there! How was your summer? We're swiftly moving into fall, but I wanted to review a project the kids and I tackled this year before I forgot about it.

This summer was HOT in our part of the world. Since we don't have air conditioning in the house (with the exception of 1 room) that meant we were DESPERATE to find ways to keep cool. While browsing Pinterest I kept coming across tutorials for water blobs. They looked like crazy fun, so we decided to give it a try.


I combined these 2 tutorials to make a water blob for each of the kids. hello, Wonderful. and homemadetoast. From cutting my plastic, to having both of the blobs full of water and ready to play took about an hour and a half. Most of that was waiting for them to fill with water.

I went with 3 foot wide plastic sheeting in 4 mil thickness; Truthfully, because the store was out of the 10 foot size I'd seen in several tutorials to make one giant blob. In the end though, I think it made the project a lot better. It was the perfect width for each kid to lay on, it was more easily managed on my ironing board, and if I had gotten the 10' wide roll and wanted to make individual blobs it would have made for a lot more cutting. The 3' wide roll saved me that.

Since my kids are roughly 3 feet tall, these didn't need to be very long to accommodate their height. I cut my plastic to 8 feet long, then folded it in half on itself so I had 2 blobs roughly 3' x 4'. If you want them longer, just cut a longer strip! If you can trust your kiddos not to run all over the plastic while you're trying to cut and iron, go ahead and try it any time. For us, that's not the case, so I made sure to prep the blobs during nap time so they were ready to play with as soon as the kids woke up. The ironing directions are perfect from homemadetoast. Follow them to the letter and you can't go wrong.

Some notes about the project:
  • Make the hole for the hose larger than you think you need. I made mine about the width of the hose, but forgot about stretching for the height. It was a pretty tight squeeze getting it in and out of the blob, but it did work.
  • Clear out even the tiniest sticks in the yard if you want your blob to last. If the kids had just laid on the blobs, we'd probably have been alright. Avery insisted on body slamming the blob though, which meant a bunch of tiny leaks on the underside of the blob by the end of play time--all of which coincided with a small stick that I didn't bother to clear out. Even with the leaks we had SEVERAL hours of play time. (I left them in the yard overnight and it still had water the following morning!)
  • Use LOTS of duct tape to seal the corner where you left the hole for the hose. That's where you'll get the most leaks. Layer it up to make it last. You can also use duct tape to patch any other leaks that spring up while you play, but it adheres better to dry plastic.
  • Use the iron method!!! I also saw several tutorials where folks just used duct tape to seal the edges. A friend of mine confirmed (after we tried this) that it just leaks like crazy. They had to throw their blobs away after one use. We were able to use our several times before Avery slammed too many tiny holes in the bottom with the sticks.
Overall, this was definitely a win. It kept everyone cool and the kids had a lot of fun. You'll also most likely have a ton of plastic sheeting leftover. I used some of ours to make an i-Spy bag for a road trip to the lake!


Thursday, April 16, 2015

#BecauseOfJamberry

You may or may not know this, but I became in Independent Consultant for Jamberry Nails in mid-February. This week a popular blog featured a strongly worded article bashing the direct sales industry, including the company I chose to join. (If you're interested, you can read it here. I still hate the article, but it is sort of relevant to the one you're reading.) While I find it disappointing from a business standpoint (Thanks lady! You just made my job even harder!) this hurt more on a personal level. Why? Because I didn't start my business with money in mind. Sorta. Read on to hear my explanation.

It's no secret that I am a stay at home mom to 2 young children. It's a job that's challenging, rewarding, and exhausting. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. My staying at home though means one thing...every dollar that comes into our household is earned by my husband. My children and I depend on him for food, shelter, clothing, transportation, recreation, you name it. Without his job we have nothing.  But that's the thing about marriage, you're supposed to put your trust in your spouse and you work through things together. In our family he's the breadwinner and I manage the household. It works for us. For me, the catch is when it comes to "want" items instead of "need" items.

I have a lot of crafting hobbies. I also like fun things like pretty nails, or a new pair of shoes, even cool gadgets to use in my kitchen. Those "want" items cost money. When I spend money on things for the family it's no big deal because it's something we all enjoy together or it's essential for our survival. (Somebody has to go grocery shopping!) But when I'm spending money that somebody else (hubby) earned on an item that is just for me it doesn't feel like a fun splurge. It makes me feel guilty and selfish. Never mind if I actually deserve a nice treat. I felt like if I wanted to continue purchasing these fun things, I needed to chip in somehow. My answer was Jamberry.

Now you might be thinking, "Well...Why don't you just go out and get a job?" Here's why: Even though we are solidly parked in a middle-class neighborhood, the city we live in is the overall wealthiest area in the state. The opportunistic folks who live here have jacked up the prices of all goods and services accordingly. If I were to get a part time job outside my home 2 things happen. First, ALL and I do mean ALL of the money I would make from that job would be spent on childcare. More likely, it would be all of my paycheck plus a portion of my husbands since we have 2 kids still in diapers. (Some of my husbands friends invited us over for dinner a few weeks ago and confessed that the daycare rate they'll be paying once their second child is born will be over $1800 per month. That's after giving them a break for having a 2nd child in the same daycare, and a break for the oldest for being potty trained.) These child care costs were a major factor in my deciding to stay home with the kids in the first place. Even if we could afford to spend that much, I would not be willing to. The second thing that happens if I take a job outside the home is that I lose any teensy bit of free time I have. Since daycare is not an option, I would be forced to work nights and weekends so that I could work around hubby's schedule. This would mean no free time for me and no time together as a family. Sure we could survive it, but what's the point of the extra income if there's no opportunity to enjoy it? My answer was Jamberry.

Here's the other thing about being a stay at home mom...it can be lonely and isolating. Yes, I love my children, but they cannot carry on a meaningful conversation just yet. We also moved over an hour away from family and friends to be near my husband's job. The couple I mentioned above...they are the ONLY friends I have who live within a 30 minute drive from our house. I have a solid group of online friends through Ravelry, but those friendships revolve around our children. We only found each other because we were all pregnant at the same time. I have tried finding mommy groups in the area only to discover that I can't stand the people in them. (Turns out that some wealthy folks live up to the stereotype of being snotty.) And again...those friendships would all be based around the kids. How long can you go without interaction with another adult? How long can you go without the conversations being about one of your children? After spending over 2 years without real-life friends nearby, I didn't just want a conversation that has nothing to do with kids. I needed it. My answer was Jamberry.

My answer was Jamberry because I needed something just for me. Not for the kids, not for the whole family, not for my husband. ME. The fact that I could run a business completely online, with my wild ones screaming in the background the whole time was the golden ticket. I don't need to find child care. I can work with them right beside me. Jamberry allows me the opportunity to earn a little something extra to pay for my "want" items, and I don't have the guilt anymore when I actually purchase them. Am I rolling in dough over here? Obviously not, but I didn't expect that going in. The option is there, but I just don't want to work that hard. This is a hobby for me. (Jamberry suggests the average consultant holds 2-4 parties a week. I do 2-4 in a month.)

In addition to the extra fun money I have met so many amazing people, even in the short amount of time I've been doing this. Jamberry has a slogan that says, "Run your own business without being alone." This has never been more true. I have felt valued by every team member I have encountered so far. I've even reached out to the home office with some suggestions about our consultant websites and they responded to me! Not a robot-response, but a personal, back-and-forth conversation! Consultants support each other with tips and ideas for our businesses, but we've also gotten to know each other in more personal settings. One of the girls is getting married next month. Her Jamberry business is helping to pay for her wedding. Some of the other girls are helping her coordinate nail wraps (and design custom wraps) to match her bridesmaids dresses. Show me another direct sales company with teammates who are that awesome!  I feel like I have friends again!

As for the portion of that rotten article that states, "The products are secondary. It's the exploiting of friendships to gain new recruits that really squicks me out." I call baloney. Nobody is going to sign up and pay to be part of something like this if they don't truly want it. Especially your friends. I flat out told my sponsor, "I'm not creating a team." (She told me that was great and I could run my business however I wanted!) Well guess what...I've got a girl set to sign up this coming Friday! Not because I conned her into it, but because SHE ASKED to join this company. Just like me, she has a need for some extra income, and along with whatever other reasons she has, she realized that Jamberry was a good fit to meet those needs.

Digression: At this point I'd like to make another thing clear. My business is NOT a pyramid scheme. Will I make bonuses based on my recruits? Yes. BUT! I need to hit my OWN sales goals in order to earn those bonuses. I'm not just sitting back raking in money that somebody else worked hard for, and somebody else higher up isn't doing the same to me. /end digression.

So this long rambling post boils down to this...There are also BENEFITS to direct sales companies. Focusing on bad business practices and the irritation of receiving multiple Facebook invites does not reflect the true nature of my business. I've gotten so much more out of this opportunity than I ever expected. The people on social media who are inviting you to these parties are just trying to share the same joy that they've found. If you aren't interested, politely say "No, Thank you." and move on. A good consultant will respect that.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Viking We Will Go!

A friend of ours is throwing a costumed birthday/Halloween party next weekend. It has a viking theme, so I decided the kids needed viking hats to wear.  I couldn't quite find a pattern I liked, so I whipped up my own. Below you'll find the pattern for the hat base, along with a link to directions for the horns. (Those were created by another crafter on Ravelry named sar.) My hat pattern is crochet. Sar's horns are knit. Perfect chance to learn another craft if you only know one! (Or neither.)


Avery's Viking Hat
Finished size approx. 18" circumference to fit a toddler
Worsted/Aran weight yarn and size I hook. Click Here to see which yarns I used. Less than half a skein of each color is needed.
Gauge: 3sts and 3.6 rows per inch- make a swatch so you know it will fit!!

Work continuously in the round. (Do not join end to beginning of round with a slst.) Place a marker in the first stitch of the round and move it up as you complete each round. This pattern uses American crochet terms.

Row 1: Work 6sc in magic circle.
Row 2: 2 sc in each st around (12 sts)
Row 3: (1sc, 2sc in next st)* around (18 sts)
Row 4: (sc in next 2 sts, 2sc in next st)* around (24 sts)
Row 5: (sc in next 3 sts, 2sc in next st)* around (30 sts)
Row 6: (sc in next 4 sts, 2sc in next st)* around (36 sts)
Row 7: (sc in next 5 sts, 2sc in next st)* around (42 sts)
Row 8: (sc in next 6 sts, 2sc in next st)* around (48 sts)
Row 9: (sc in next 7 sts, 2sc in next st)* around (54 sts)
Row 10-24: sc in each st around
Row 25: sc in first st. (Bobble stitch into the next st. sc in next 2 sts.)* around. sc in last st. (18 bobbles)-Note: for my bobbles I DC'ed 4 sts together instead of 5 like the video shows.  It shouldn't matter, but in case you want your hat to totally match I wanted to point it out.
Row 26-27: sc in each st around. At the end of row 27, join yarn to the beginning of the round with a slst. Bind off. Weave in ends.

Horns. (Directions are in the notes section at the bottom of the page.) Make 2. Stuff with a small amount of Poly-Fil. Attach to either side of the helmet using yellow yarn, just above the bobble "rivets". Hint: You should have 18 bobbles. Center one of the horns just above a bobble and you can count 9 bobbles in either direction to line up the position for the other horn. I used a US size 8 (5.0mm) needle to knit my horns.

If desired, add braids to the hat, centering them just below the horns. This is how to do it. I cut my yarn to 24" lengths, and then folded it in half to secure to the hat. After knotting the ends of the braids, I trimmed the excess with scissors to my liking. I used a total of 24 strands on each side of my hat for chunkier braids. This made knotting the ends difficult, but with a little fiddling I managed to do it. Experiment with yarn amounts until you get braids you're happy with.


Because elements of this pattern were not designed by me, please craft items from this pattern for personal use only.


Glossary:
st(s)-stitch(es)
slst-slip stitch
sc-single crochet
*-repeat

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Crazy Update

This will not make sense unless you've read part 1.

I have "processed" about half the diaper stash with the aquarium ammonia remover. (The other half hasn't been done because I'm out of the solution and have been too busy lazy to go get more.) The verdict is...it works. Mostly.

Per the directions on the blog post I linked in part 1, I used the highest water setting my washer allows, adding 60 mL of the ammonia remover, and soaked the diapers in hot water for 6 hours. After the soak I ran a rinse cycle, followed by a full wash cycle which included detergent and an extra rinse.

Immediately you could tell the inserts were better off. The ammonia remover got out a lingering funk that was on all of the inserts.  That funk never really smelled like ammonia, nor did it smell like barnyard (which is another scent all the diaper blogs caution you about), and I'd always chalked it up to leftovers from our strange water conditions. It didn't smell bad, but it was just sort of there. You would only notice it when you placed an insert against your nose and intentionally took a good whiff. And yes, I did that often while trying to assess the problem with these diapers. I'm not weird. Check the other diaper blogs...those moms did it too.  The scent might have actually been from our water, it might not have, I have no idea. Either way it's gone now, if only temporarily.

The majority of the diapers go on the kids, get used, and come off with no issues. No rashes, no immediate ammonia stench coming from the diaper itself. But there are a select few diapers that the solution seemed to help, but didn't completely rid them of ammonia. And it's random across the diapers that have been treated, not like it is one of the 2 brands we use or something like that. The random diapers are better than they were before, just a bit of redness on the kids instead of full blown chemical burns, and they clearly smell like ammonia when you take them off (instead of smelling like some ammonia-mix weirdness which was part of the problem in diagnosing this issue) so I know I'm making progress. If I segregated those diapers from the bunch and repeated the process it would probably do the trick.

We are at least back to a manageable point. I can use our cloth diapers, though there is still work to be done before I'll be completely happy again.  I'd recommend the aquarium ammonia remover as a last ditch attempt to save your diapers (like I needed), but not as a regular maintenance type of thing.