Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Travel Tuesday: Ferry

Lake Champlain is a mini ocean between New York and Vermont. Alright, maybe it isn't that big but it definitely helps to define Vermont. There are so many stories about Champ, the lake monster that lives in Lake Champlain. I'm going to leave that to you as to whether you want to believe or even look into the story more

A lot of people travel in the area, use the Lake Champlain Ferry to get across Lake Champlain. There are three places in which you can catch the ferry: Charlotte, VT to Essex, NY this is known as the Southern Crossing, Burlington, VT to Port Kent, NY this is known as the scenic crossing and finally Grand Isle, VT to Plattsburgh, NY. I have done two out of the three crossing and they are fun. I know most people use them as a way to cross the lake, save time and money. Personally, I like to use to them catch up on sleep or just relax looking at the views!

view as we cross Lake Champlain
Each of the crossings has a different schedule make sure to check when and where they leave. Some of the crossing are not open past certain times during the winter. Trust me it is not fun when you miss the ferry and you have to drive all around the lake after driving for 10 hours. Oh yes, I made that mistake!

other boats out on the lake
No matter which ferry you take or when, there are some options. The majority of the people drive their cars right onto the ferry and once parked get out and check out the sights. The bigger ferries have decks in which you can climb up and look. Some of the smaller ones (again the size of the ferries depends on the time and the season) allow you to get out of your car but only have one deck. 
our car on the deck of the ferry

Most of the trips across the lake take an hour or just under and hour. If you get a great ferry operator, they will give you some of the history of the Lake. Remember this isn't just a tourist attraction but a way for the locals to commute so they might not be talking about the history. There are specific scenic cruises that offer meals, tour guides and offer private cruises for parties/weddings. We went on one of those as well and it was a blast. These cruises board at the King St. dock (Burlington to Port Kent route). The cost of the cruise is $6.00 for just the tour and $10.00 if you want the buffet lunch. 

crossing the ferry during the winter
 The ferry rides cost about $11 for the vehicle and driver, depending on the weight. Each additional person is a dollar. If you plan on visiting Vermont, try to catch the ferry it will help to explore the Lake!

another view of crossing during the winter

isn't it beautiful

scary to think that the ferry will push all of the ice/snow away!

Enjoy the lake and take in all the views!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cloud Mobile

Simple is my favorite, I love making things out of nothing or maybe better yet a bunch of random items. If you remember my paint chip mobile, I made a couple of years back. It still hangs in Pumpkin's room and she absolutely loves it. The best part was it created out of stuff that I had around the house already!

When I was teaching at the daycare, we had a bunch of stuff that was just hanging out and I couldn't take throwing things away. I came across a string of lights with lanterns on it. The lanterns kept falling off and the strand of lights were burned out. Really a bummer because it was really cute!

had the lights still worked they would have looked something like this!

After shoving the lanterns and the broken strand of lights into a cabinet, until I could do something with them. It hit me one day when I was writing notes home to parents (don't ask how this connection was made but it was!) I need to make clouds to hang in the napping portion of the room. 

This is the finished mobile and I couldn't be happier with it. I love the simplicity and the organicness to it. Is that even a word? Well it is now!

finished cloud mobile hanging in the corner of the room

isn't it just so adorable?

Now, how to recreate it! I promise you it is simple. I started with 8 out of the 10 lanterns from the strand. (I used the other two for something else, which you will see later!),  quilt batting (I used about 1/8 of the roll) , fishing line and an embroidery hoop. 

lanterns and stuffing
hoop and finishing line
The paper lanterns are very delicate, I think I poked a few holes in them, luckily I was able to cover the holes up with the quilting batting. I didn't want the lanterns to become to heavy so I used watered down Elmer's Glue to affix the batting. There is no right or wrong way to do this so, again it is another wonderfully easy craft.  I slowly pulled the batting until I got what I felt looked like a cloud. Each cloud took me about five minutes to create.

I kept asking everyone that walked in the room, what does this look like? You should have seen the looks that I got! 

close up of one of the clouds

See what I mean about the organicness of the cloud? After doing this 7 more times, I let them dry by placing them in the window and using the sun. The next morning, I went back with my watered down glue mixture and fixed any pieces that didn't quite hang right. 

I originally used an embroidery hoop but it turned out to be too heavy, so I found another wooden ring in the school and used it! It turned out to be perfect as it was flat and easy to hold. 

This was honestly the most difficult part of the project, I needed an extra set of hand to help make sure the cloud hung in a spiral shape. Using the fishing line, each cloud was tied on the ring, starting with really short pieces, to the longer ones. I never measured the actually length of the fishing line, just eyeballed it while tying. This helped to create the appearance of movement. The trick to getting the lanterns to hang level was to tie the fishing line on the middle part of the hanger. I put a tiny glob of glue to help it from shifting. 

I love love love the way the mobile turned out! Simple, elegant and helps to create the sleepy mood in the sleeping zone of the classroom. The infants adored it as well. They kept trying to reach for the clouds. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Stich Fix: my new go to for clothes

If you are anything like me, you hate to clothes shop. Don't get me wrong but I cannot stand taking the time to go clothes shopping. Maybe it is because I have children and it is hard to find a sitter to be able to go. Have you ever tried shopping with children, I think I would rather get a root canal. One child has to go to the bathroom, another one is hungry and the third is bored. Once you get them settled, a different one has to go to bathroom, even though you had them go before you all left the bathroom. Ugh, seriously I am tired just thinking about it as I write this post! (This post contains affiliate links) 

So, you can imagine two things: well actually please don't it is kind of embarrassing. I haven't been clothes shopping in so long, the majority of my wardrobe has come from people giving me pieces that they no longer want or as gifts. As pathetic as it sounds that is about 90% of my wardrobe. Seriously, no laughing! Enter stitch fix!

One day I was scrolling on facebook and an add for stitch fix came up. I decided to look into it more and well I am so glad that I did! You start by completing your profile. The basic questions come first, what is your name? birth date, height, weight, clothing size. The sizes are broken down by the type of clothes, such as dresses and blouses. You answer more questions about the length of clothes you like, do you have a preference to the way the clothing fits (is it snug, loose?). After you finish the basics, then the fun part comes.

You are presented with a series of pictures and you have to mark whether you like it, love it, don't really like it and hate it. I had so much fun doing this. I kept picturing the movie Clueless where Cher is picking out her clothing using the computerized closet. Did I just show my age? Oh well, I was having fun. 
sample of clothing that you identify your level of like

To continue with your profile, you will then answer some more questions about what type of clothing you want sent and the percentage of items. Do you want mainly casual, dressy, combination of both? What if anything your stylist should not send you, and finally how much money you are willing to spend in each category. 

what can we send?
help us get to know you!

The profile is designed to help your personal stylist send you amazing boxes right to your door. That's right the boxes come with five articles of clothing and or accessories to help you build your wardrobe. 

After answering all of your questions and letting Stitch Fix know what you want and how often. You just sit back and relax. I choose a box a month. You can choose every month, every other month and every three months. I might change the frequency once I have  a more updated wardrobe. Although, I have so much fun, it might be worth it to keep the style boxes coming. I guess only time will tell! Now, there is a $20, styling fee per box. This fee covers the shipping to and from (if you decide to send items back). 

A couple of weeks later a box arrived for me and let me tell you I was super stoked. This was the best thing since sliced bread. New clothes, hand picked for me based on my preferences. I love it! 

I was shaking with excitement as I opened the box to see what my personal stylist decided to send me. In addition to the five articles of clothing, there was a note from my stylist and a personalized clothing card. This card showed me the pieces that were sent and two ways in which I could wear them. The first was a more casual look and the second a dressier one! I love this as I have such a hard time matching and creating outfits. 

styling sheet with the pieces that were sent and how to incorporate them into my wardrobe

close up of the blouse suggestions

The five pieces that were sent fit me to a T! I love casual, yet sophisticated and simple items that I can mix and match and not have to worry about only looking good with certain pieces. 

The first piece was a Faux Leather jacket Moto Jacket. My pumpkin fell in love with this piece, actually I did too. I loved how versatile it was. I could easily pair it with a pair of jeans or a skirt for work!

sharp jacket

I love the way it looks!
The next piece was the Lani Distressed Cropped Skinny Jean, they were a great pair of jeans. If I had to say this would have been my least favorite in the box. There wasn't anything necessarily wrong with them, I just didn't like the way they fit!

these made me feel sexy and confident

My favorite piece was the Edmondo Stud Detailed Split-Back Blouse. I not only loved the design, the color but the fabric as well. The blouse was beautiful. It really made my eyes pop. I tell you what a girl could get used to this, a personal stylist makes me feel like royalty. 

love this blouse, wonder what other colors it comes in?
Isn't the detail on the blouse amazing? Again this piece was easy to incorporate into my closet as I could easily wear it with a pair of jeans, dress pants or even a skirt depending on the look I was going for. 

Next up was the casual Stephen Colorblock and Striped Raglan Top. I usually don't go for yellow or tiny stripes, but there was just something about this top that I love. The color was great, simple and classic (just my style). I liked the fun stripes they were a bit unexpected and I think that is what I liked. Another piece that could easily fit right into my wardrobe, I could see myself wearing this for a Saturday afternoon or even a teacher casual work day. 

isn't this too cute?
Finally the Demetrius Ombre Striped Sweater, the fifth piece in the Stitch fix box for January. This piece was great, classic, elegant and for a sweater not too heavy and bulky. I hate when you put on a sweater and feel as if you are wearing a cardboard box. I loved the simplicity, I am all about pieces that can easily go from day to night and not have a ton to change. I also liked that all of the pieces were something I would pick out and purchase for myself if I were to go shopping. 

Love this!
I have to say I felt spoiled during the entire process. Once your pieces arrive you have three days to figure out what you want to do. At the end of the three days, you log into your style fix account and mark whether you want to keep or return them. If you decide to keep all five you receive a 25% discount. The $20.00 that you spend to have the items shipped is also credited to your account if you want to keep any of the pieces or all of them. 

If you send anything back you just put it into the enclosed envelope and drop it off at the closest post office. Not bad at all. I was even lucky enough to have my neighbor drop mine off! 

Stitch Fix is a life changer for me, I need to update my wardrobe and this way allows me to do it in the comfort of my own home and not have to worry about the children. I was also able to see what other pieces I already had that would work. The best and most fun part was the fashion show I could put on! 

Try Stitch fix, you won't be sorry. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Travel Tuesday: Vermont Teddy Bear Factory

When I first moved to Vermont, everyone told me. “Why are you going there?” and then the very next comment they said was “Vermont Teddy Bears are the best.” One afternoon, when we didn't have a lot to do, we decided to go exploring. My kiddos and I loaded up the car, picked up a couple of friends and drove to Shelburne.

Shelburne is a small town located very close to Burlington, VT and along Lake Champlain.  It is located in Chittenden County, which happens to be the most populated county in the state. Shelburne is also the home to Shelburne Farms and Shelburne Museum. If you click on the name it will take you to my review of those places. 

The welcome sign in front of the factory

We started our visit to Vermont Teddy Bear Factory by pulling into the huge parking lot and exploring the outside activities that they have. Take your picture in a bear and tour the outside silo, with activities inside. When we did our tour it was during the winter season, so it was quite a bit chilly outside. Our outside festivities didn't last very long.

part of the factory and the silo

the roof of the silo

Don't you just love the paws everywhere?

outside the factory

Once we were inside it was the Teddy Magic Land, the children were so excited that they didn't even know where to begin. This particular trip I took my three kiddos, my friend’s two children, thank goodness I brought my wonderful friend Mariah to help wrangle the madness. The factory has three big showrooms, with teddy bears, accessories and other stuffed friends that you can walk around and enjoy. In one room there was a tea set that you could enjoy a tea party with stuffed teddies.
some of the displays around the factory

the very 1st Vermont Teddy Bear

of course there are skiing bears

the lobby that leads to the party area

The factory itself is another section, which you can also tour. The tour we went on wasn’t very crowded, mind you this was winter and summer months are very different. Our tour lasted about 45 minutes. Our tour started in the lobby part, they showed all of the sizes of bear that are made and talked about the lifetime guarantee. VT teddy bears have a special eye, if you look at the bear eye’s it says Born In Vermont. That’s how you can tell it is a VT Teddy bear, my understanding is this is a more recent addition. VT Teddy bear has been in business since 1981!
all of the bear sizes

different displays at the start of the tour
Bear's eye- Born in Vermont
factory tour
The next part of the tour was the cutting room floor, you can watch how they cut the pieces out of the different fabrics to make the bears. They even give each guest a little bear made out of the left over fabric. They do not want to waste (which goes to my previous post 10 things about Vermont)
cutting room floor (this day they were making pieces for blue bears)
The next part of the tour is the sewing room, you can see how each piece is stitched together by hand and then the pin and assembly where they put all of the pieces together. It amazes me the amount of detail that goes into each bear!
sewing room

pin and assembly

After the assembly is the puff box (honestly not sure of the official name) but it blows air on the bears to help get them clean. How about we go with the Bear Bath? As you continue through the tour, they have a station that shows you how an order is placed online and what happens in the factory to make the bear.
ordering process
bear bath?
Finally you end up in the Bear hospital, this is where people from all around send their bears to be repaired.  It is kind of sad to see what some of these bears go through (look I know they aren't real living things but that is besides the point).
bear hospital- each cubby is a bear needed care

don't you just love the honey drip? I mean, I just can't!

The VT Teddy Bear Factory has a policy, if they cannot repair your bear to be like new, then they will send you a brand new one. How cool is that?

After the tour you are given the option to purchase your own bear or create your own. We decided to create your own. As most places there are bears at different price ranges, I kept the children in the 19.99 range as we were making three bears and they were each allowed to pick one accessory.
Peanut and Pumpkin making their bears

Bear brushing his bear and getting ready to make the birth certificate

To build your bear it is similar to build a bear (you choose the skin and then stuff), don’t’ tell anyone I made that comparison, I might end up in Teddy Bear jail. Once your bear is stuffed, you move to the grooming station and finally end the process with creating a birth certificate. 
Bean's finished bear
Every bear comes home in their own box (check out the air hole that is in case you need to ship your bear)
The day spent at the factory was amazing and a lot of fun. I highly recommend you mosey on up there and make yourself a bear. 

quote on the factory wall

inside one of the shopping rooms (look at the displays)

mat on the way to the bathroom! Each one is different!

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