Altering a Blazer Part II

I decided to by Tippy Hedren from The Birds for Halloween. We went thrifting and I found a giant jacket for $2.06 and a skirt for $.66. Here's my photo journey for refashioning the clothes into being workable. I altered a blazer awhile ago, so I basically did exactly the same thing for this blazer. Also, I'm not in the writing mood, so I'm just going to post pictures. I'm sure you brilliant people can figure out the steps.


Note: I didn't photograph it, but I also hemmed the jacket several inches to make it a normal length, and then sewed the pockets closet to eliminate the bulkiness. After Halloween, I plan to cut the sleeves back off, hem the armholes and wear it for a vest. Super cool, right? :)

Wordless Wednesday

Happy Halloween, everyone!  My little nugget may be a little unsure of his costume this year, but he's a big fan of his 'puh-kin.' 

Any guesses on his Halloween costume this year???  

Keeping our fingers crossed that he wears his costume tonight!  He's pretty leery, especially of that hat!

Top Countries for Raising Children Abroad in 2012

The Expat Explorer 2012 survey results are out. This year 5399 expats were questioned from 97 countries of the world. You can download the full report here.

To discover which country is the best to raise your child in the survey looked at these 3 main factors:
  1. Childcare (safety of children, standard of education, quality of childcare and overall cost of raising children)
  2. Health and wellbeing (spending time outdoors, spending time with parents, playing sports, playing video games, watching TV, children eat less junk food now)
  3. Integration (settled in quicker than parents, enjoying their lives, are learning new languages, missing home and friends, social integration)
Scores from each factor are weighted to arrive at an overall Raising Children Abroad score and overall rank. The weighting applied is as follows: childcare - 33,3%, Health & wellbeing - 33,3% and Integration 33,3%.

Now here are the top countries for raising children abroad according to this survey: 
  1. Canada
  2. The Netherlands
  3. Hong Kong
  4. Australia
  5. United Arab Emirates
  6. USA
  7. Saudia Arabia
  8. United Kingdom
  9. Kuwait
Apparently Hong Kong is the safest place to raise a child. 91% Of the expat parents in Hong Kong said that the safety of their children had improved after relocation.

Australia and Canada are on the top of the list for active expat families. Not only were the children more active in sports in these 2 countries but even some of the parents became more active in sports.

The Middle East provides a more challenging climate for expat families. Social integration is one of the areas were expat parents reported that their children had most difficulty. The expat children in the Middle East spent more time watching TV and playing video games. 

If you want to compare the results with last years outcome, check my post on The Top 10 Countries for Raising Children Abroad in 2011. Of course I am proud that the Netherlands is still at the top of the list on second place. I am a little surprised that France was in first place last year but that it does not feature in the top 9 countries this year. I wonder why.

What are your experiences with raising kids abroad? Do they match the results of this survey? Do you have tips for other parents? Please share it with us. Thanks.

Related Posts:

Nothing Gold Can Stay...

'I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.'

-Anne of Green Gables

Last Thursday, I decided on a whim to go and get my hair colored.  I tend to be pretty conservative with my hair, but was feeling a tad bit impulsive and decided to run with it.  I told my hair stylist I wanted to go dark, back to my roots, and that my hair was in desperate need of some 'life.'  A color, a trim, and a bottle of sea salt texturizing spray later, and I felt like a new woman.  It's amazing what an hour at the salon will do for a girl.

As I was watching Ashley apply gobs of dark color to my sun-bleached locks, I laughed when I thought of one of my favorite young adult books of all-time --- S.E. Hinton's, The Outsiders.  And while my fondest memories of this story may involve a movie version and a young Matt Dillon on a hospital bed in his underwear, I developed a deeper love of Hinton's narrative, her ability to bring these young boys and their issues to life in a way that called me to empathize as a reader, and the beauty in the way she streamed her own love of literature into the words of Ponyboy, Dally, and Johnny.  

Early on in the book, Ponyboy is watching a sunset and is reminded of the Robert Frost poem, 'Nothing Gold Can Stay.'  The poem reads:

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.  

This poem becomes a metaphor for the entire book; a deep look into issues of life, loss, and breaking the walls of traditional barriers that sort and separate people from a common understanding.  I love this poem simply because it reminds me of beauty, and the loss of, and that the beautiful things in this world are often beautiful simply because they don't stick around.  

We grow tired of things that outstay their welcome.  The winter months grow long, laundry never ends, and sun-bleached hair just doesn't look as good when that summer tan fades away.  So many of the good things in this world are good because they leave us too soon.   

I think this is why I love October.  And babies.  And Christmas.  They exist for such a short, fleeting period of time, and we do all we can to enjoy, and savor, and take advantage of them while they're here.  It's not always easy, especially when fall turns gray, and Christmas gets expensive, and babies teethe, and poop, and cry when we're really really tired, but these moments seem to be far overshadowed by the golden hues of these seasons... absolutely gorgeous October afternoon, crisp air, golden hues, and a new wool scarf wrapped just so around your neck...

...a movie under the Christmas tree, a log on the fire, and a verse of Silent Night by candlelight...

...and those sweet babies, their first smiles, and those peaceful moments of rocking them to sleep and wishing they would stay that small forever...

This weekend, we enjoyed our last weekend of October.  We carved pumpkins and roasted the seeds, made caramel apples, and drank hot cocoa.  We danced during bath time, let Cruz bang on pots and pans while Beau strummed his guitar, and practiced our trick-or-treats with a parade at Grandpa Ray and Grandma Mary's.  It was an October weekend, exactly as it should be.  



So whether it's my hair color, or this favorite month of mine, or this two year old boy who seems to grow bigger every single day, nothing gold can stay...

...but I'm afraid that if it could, it wouldn't be as sweet.

Ankle Boots ... At Last!

I finally got my wish of buying ankle boots! (And I didn't even have to accidentally google porn to find them!) Chase and I were shopping at Target and found tons 'o shoes for 50% off, so we each got a pair. One of our rare, but fun!, splurges. I bought these puppies here for $15. I'm still working on incorporating them into outfits, but so far I've been wearing them with skinny jeans. Also, I'm crazy tall when I wear them, which is basically awesome. I always had a goal of being 5'6" to 5'9", but I stopped growing at 5'4". Also, 5'4" is the average height in the U.S. for women, so I never let people call me short.


Okay, so now I need some more ideas for wearing these shoes. I'm planning to wear them with tights and a dress sometime, but I don't know how else to wear them. Can you roll your jeans up? Is it okay if part of your leg shows? Can you wear them with leggings? So many questions for a new pair of shoes. :)

Outfit Details:

Sweater -- Handmedown
Shirt -- H&M $7
Jeans -- JCPenneys $10
Necklace -- Gift
Boots -- Target $15

Total Cost: $32

A Green Alternative to Toxic Soap (Video)

It's beginning to look a lot like...cold and flu season, and you know what that means, time to really up your hand washing game. Or just get lectured by the news and advertisers as to why we MUST get a flu shot, but that's a whole other post in itself. But back to soap, most people probably think, "the stronger the better" when it comes to choosing a soap. "I want all those germs gone!" says a mother or a teacher or a doctor or anyone else who comes in contact with sickness/kids/or germs in general on a daily basis. But did you know the "germ-killing" properties of that soap may come at a price? Certain chemicals found in everyday products like the soap that is probably sitting in your bathroom right now have been shown to irritate the skin and respiratory systems, disrupt hormones, cause reproductive issues, and worst of all, lead to cancer.
"What's in my soap?"
You may be thinking, "How can this be possible? I buy it off the shelf at my local drug store, surely they wouldn't be selling me something that isn't safe...right?" I'm afraid that's wrong. I had the same "false reality" when it came to thinking that my cosmetics were safe, I figured that if it was on the shelf, then it must have been tested for safety. And if it could harm my body, my health, or my baby in anyway than there's no way it would be allowed to be produced, marketed, and sold. But as of now, there are no regulations in the world of personal care products.

Here's just a fraction of the "soap aisle" I found at Target.
What's in these products? Found out below...

Learn more about this in one of my favorite videos, "The Story of Cosmetics"...

So until that day comes, mothers, fathers, men, women, grandmas, grandpas, teens and even kids, we have to take responsibility for our own health and read the labels of the products we buy. We have to do our own research. We have to learn which kind of chemicals to avoid and what healthy alternatives we can use instead.  In the end, we can complain all we want to these companies to change their products and switch to safer ingredients, but if we continue to buy their toxic products we are contradicting ourselves.

Many food/farm advocates say, "We have to vote with our forks." I firmly believe in that idea as it relates to food, but also for our personal care products in how we can "Vote with our soap bottles...our lipstick tubes...our mascara wands, etc." You get the idea. Money is power, and where you spend your money, whether it be on toxic products or safe products, sends a message. Use that message to say we want and deserve, cleaner, greener, safer products.  Sooner or later they will get the message.

Wow, I got a little carried away there, excuse me as I step off my "soap box" and actually begin discussing soap with you...
Here's my favorite green soap...
Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap

Before I get into my favorite green soap, Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap, let me share some toxic ingredients you'll need to be on the lookout for in your quest to find a greener soap.

1. Triclosan (pronounced "try-clo-san") If you have any type of soap that claims to be "anti-bacterial" there's a pretty good chance that it has triclosan in it. Here's some facts about this toxic little gem...the EPA registers it as a PESTICIDE, it has a chemical structure similar to Agent Orange, it has been shown to disrupt the thyroid hormone in frogs and rats, alters sex hormones of laboratory animals, even worse it may be contributing to creating "antibiotic resistant super bugs". The fun doesn't stop there, in humans studies have shown it may be associated with reproductive hormones  impaired thyroid function, and liver toxicity  The kicker to it all is that studies have shown that triclosan-based soaps are no better at preventing illness than traditional soap and water.  (read more here)

Here's a funny video I found on YouTube that speaks to the truth of germ-killing chemicals called, "Disinfectants Horror Show" and although it is more about disinfectants in cleaning products, some of the chemicals are the same as what you will find in antibacterial soaps.

2. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)-This is what makes your toothpaste, shampoo, and body wash so nice and foamy.  Unfortunately, those soap bubbles aren't so innocent.  SLS can cause skin irritation, strips your skin of important oils, could affect eye sight, and possibly cause cancer.  SLS is has industrial uses too as engine degreasers...and you want me to put on your body or in your mouth, no way! (read more here)

3. Fragrance- This is one sneaky little ingredient because under the name "fragrance/parfume" manufactures can include a whole slew of ingredients, but not have to tell you because they are all part of the "fragrance"...not cool.  One common chemical used to preserve fragrance is phtalates,  (pronounced THAL-ates). Phtalates are a toxic petroleum-derivative that has been associated with cancer, disorders of sexual maturation in girls, and birth defects of the penis and desmasulinization in boys (when exposed to phtlates while in the womb).  Also causes asthma, liver and kidney damage.  Not to mention fertility problems in men.  Hmm...makes you wonder if that sweet little scented soap is worth it for all the health problems that might come from it. (read more here)

4. Parabens-These little guys are known hormone disruptors.  Basically meaning that they mimic our natural hormones, which disrupts our bodies natural hormone production.  This shift or alteration in hormone levels has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive problems in women, and decreased sperm count,  prostate and testicular cancer in men. Even more scary, a study even found parabens still intact in breast cancer tumors.  I don't know about you, but I want my hormones left alone!! (read more here)

Learn more about how I made the switch to a greener soap in this week's video...

With that said, let's take a look at the ingredients and claims of common soaps and see if we can find any of our little toxic friends from above:

First up is Dial Gold Antibacterial Soap:

The bottle claims: "Get a clean you can trust in a hand soap that's the gold standard for antibacterial protection. Enriched with moisturizer, this refreshingly scented liquid removes dirt and germs and rinses clean."

Let's check out the ingredients:
Active Ingredient: Triclosan
Inactive Ingredients: Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Chloride, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Glycerin, Fragrance, Polyquaternium-7, PPG-2 Hydroxyethyl Coco/Isoteramide, DMDM Hydantonin, Tetrasodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Yellow 5, Red 4.

See some offenders? What do you know...all three: SLS, Fragrance, and of course Triclosan.

Next up is for babies is Johnson & Johnson's Head-To-Toe Baby Wash

The bottle claims: 
"We've taken love and gentleness and bottled it. JOHNSON'S® HEAD-TO-TOE® Baby Wash is an ultra-mild cleanser for your baby's skin and hair that's gentle enough even for newborns. The #1 choice of hospitals. Milder than baby soap. NO MORE TEARS® formula is as gentle to the eyes as pure water. Soap-free, dye-free, hypoallergenic and allergy- and dermatologist-tested"

Let's check out the ingredients:
Ingredients: Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, PEG-150 Distearate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Sodium Chloride, Polyquaternium-10, Fragrance, Quaternium-15, Citric Acid, Sodium Hydroxide.

Offenders: SLS...check, Fragrance....check, no triclosan, but don't worry, it was replaced with the lovely: Quaternium-15. Read about this nasty chemical here. On top of that, I don't understand how the bottle can claim to be so gentle, mild, and doctor approved, when there are ingredients in it that are known to cause cancer and other ill effects?! No wonder parents are confused. Why question the ingredient list, when it states that it is so gentle, soap-free, and hypoallergenic?

Last up is Johnson & Johnson Baby Bubble Bath & Wash

The bottle claims:
"Turn bath time into fun time! JOHNSON'S® Baby Bubble Bath & Wash is an all-new formula combining big, bubblin' fun with a hypoallergenic, extra gentle baby wash. No need to save bubbles for special occasions; this dermatologist and pediatrician tested formula is gentle enough to use everyday."

Let's check out the ingredients:

Ingredients: Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, Acrylates Copolymer, Glycerin, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Disodium Lauroamphodiacetate, Glycol Distearate, Fragrance, Tetrasodium EDTA, Laureth-4, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, Polyquaternium-7, Citric Acid.

Now the ingredients are no surprise here, you'll find the standard Sodium "Trideceth" Sulfate, Fragrance, and many other chemicals listed.  But to me the shocker comes from the directions of use and safety precautions...

When to use: Use JOHNSON'S® Baby Bubble Bath & Wash in a warm bath, morning, day, or night, as often as you like.

Safety Tip: Use only as directed. Excessive use or prolonged exposure may cause irritation to skin and urinary tract. Discontinue use if rash, redness or itching occurs. Consult your physician if irritation persists. Keep out of reach of children, except under adult supervision.

Okay, so according to your "when to use," I can use the bubble bath morning, day, or night...but yet excessive or prolonged use may cause irritation to skin and urinary tract? Didn't you just give me the go-ahead to use whenever? So confusing. So contradicting. Anybody else mad?

Let's get green, get calm, and chill on out with my favorite green alternative... Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap.

Gotta love Dr. Bronner's and their crazy bottles!

It's plant-based, all natural, organic, and it has no additives or foaming agents.  Also, no crazy safety tips or precautions with use other than the obvious of keeping it out of your eyes.

Let's check out the ingredients:
Water, Organic Coconut Oil*, Potassium Hydroxide**, Organic Olive Oil*, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Citric Acid, Tocopherol
*Certified Fair Trade Ingredients
**None remains after saponifying oils into soap and glycerin

Ahh...much better. No triclosan, no SLS, and no fragrance.

Even better, Dr. Bronner's has 18 different uses!  The main way I use Dr. Bronner's soap is as a hand soap, but the list doesn't stop there! I also use it to:
  • as a dish soap
  • as a body wash in the shower
  • as a body wash for Avery during bath time
  • to shave with
  • to make homemade cleaners (see my favorite recipes here)
While it doesn't bubble up like I'm sure Johnson & Johnson's
does...I like to rest assured knowing she's getting clean without
all the other side effects from traditional toxic soaps. 

Other uses I've read about online are:
  • to wash dogs
  • fruit and veggie rinse
  • ant spray
  • laundry detergent
  • for brushing teeth
  • and even as shampoo
(Follow the link here to see how to dilute and use the soap for these other uses that I personally haven't tried yet.

In order to make body wash, I fill about 1/3 to 1/2 of an empty 16 oz. bottle or soap dispenser with Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Castile Soap and then I fill the rest with water.

How I make my Dr. Bronner's diluted soap. All you need is
the castile soap, a soap dispenser, and a funnel (optional).

My diluted Dr. Bronner's soap, ready
for hand washing, dish washing, and
Don't have a fancy soap dispenser? Just use another small soap bottle. This is what I use for my body wash in the shower. Just fill half of an old soap bottle with the castile soap (sometimes only 1/3 full) and then fill the rest with water. Bam...body wash (toxin free).

How I make my body wash...

Other scents they have are: citrus, lavender, almond, and rose.  They Cost: $6 for 8 oz. bottle at local health food stores, or even Target. I typically get the 32 oz. bottle for $13-14 (and with diluting it, it will last several months). Trader Joe's also sells Dr. Bronner's soap for a few bucks cheaper too, if you have one close to you!

You can also find them online here...

So now that you know the low-down on your soap, do you think you will give Dr. Bronner's a try? They have some small bottles, so you could try one of those and just "ease" into it and give it a try.

Do you already use a favorite green soap? If so, share about it below!

"This is the one I'm sticking with!"

*Disclaimer: I purchased this product with my own money and this is my honest review of it.*

Recently this post was linked up to...

Pinterest, You are Drunk

Okay. Once upon a time I got fed up with the ridiculous stupid pins and made a Pinterest board called "What the Hell." I pinned stupid stuff on it with plans to make a snarky blog post at some point. The only problem was the my pinterest people repinned the "what the hell" pins waaaay more often than they repinned anything else I had pinned. Which kind of made me feel like nobody would get it if I made a sarcastic pinterest post.

But then I found the blog, Pinterest, You are Drunk. It has already provided me with hours of entertainment.

I actually enjoy Pinterest, but I feel like there's a limit to it. Doing ten jumping jacks before you shower every day will not give you a body that looks like a muscular supermodel. Let's be real. Here are some of the pictures that provide a little bit of reality to combat the excessive crafty joy of Pinterest. :D


silver staples













Polka Dots are the New Stripes

So... I was thrilled to put my newly refashioned polka dot skirt into an outfit. But I strangely had a difficult time making something to wear. Since the skirt was loose and flowy, I figured I should balance it out with a not-loose top. But all my tank-tops are either red or black for some reason, both of which would look awful with navy, in my opinion. After way too much time staring at my closet, I decided on a Target v-neck. You seriously can't go wrong with Target v-necks. I own four of these shirts. 

Also, all of these pictures were taken by yours truly, which is why they lack the high caliber quality they have when Chase takes them. :) 

I have a story. I've mentioned before that I'm taking a class at Wheaton. Our last assignment was to write a 350 word This I Believe paper that described our fundamental belief about humanity. It was a surprisingly difficult assignment, but I enjoyed writing it, because for some reason I've been blessed (cursed?) with an over-abundance of words. The paper ended up being really personal, and I wrote about stuff I've never talked about with anybody (except Chase, of course). I was ridiculously nervous sharing that much emotion with a room full of strangers, but it was so freeing. 

One of my favorite bloggers, Elizabeth Esther, writes about how freeing it is to be honest with your past, with your problems, and with your emotions--even (especially!) the negative ones. I love her. And she inspired me to be more open about things that I would rather ignore and pretend never happened. 

Sorry if that was overly enigmatic. I'm still riding the high of baring my soul when I so rarely show deep emotions with people other than my husband. 

Plus, I made a 100 on it. That's seriously the icing on the cake. Except I hate cake. Maybe that's the peanut butter on the spoon. I love peanut butter. 
Polka Dot Maxi Skirt
Polka Dots
Trying to run into the frame on a 2-second timer is surprisingly difficult.
Either two seconds is shorter than I thought or I'm slower than I thought. 

Outfit Details:

Skirt -- Salvation Army $.66
Sandals -- Payless $4
Shirt -- Target free with giftcard
Belt -- Free

Total Cost: $4.66