My cousin recently gave birth to a daughter after having two boys and much to the surprise/delight of our family, her baby girl was born with a full head of thick hair.  This is a rarity in our family as every generation of both boys and girls seem to be born bald.  My twin sister and I were pretty hairless until we were 2 years old and everyone thought that we were a pair of boys.  We still haven’t had to take Zoey in for a haircut yet. Zoey and my niece Rylie are only starting to have enough hair for pigtails and ponytails, which makes dressing them up all the more fun.  Now that we can finally experiment with new hairstyles, I’ve been making grosgrain ribbon hair bows for the little sweet girls in our family.

I used to buy hair bows off of etsy vendors but at $3 or more a pop, they are a bit on the pricey side, especially for something that I could make myself.  We tend to lose hairbows, or “hair clippies” as Zoey calls them, everyday so it was starting to get expensive ordering them.   Whenever Jeff takes Zoey out of the house, she returns hairbowless and usually pantsless, too.  Not sure how every time she leaves the house with her daddy, she comes back without her pants on, but I’m not surprised anymore and I don’t ask questions! I’m just happy whenever the two of them leave the house and I get a few hours to myself!   On one of those rare afternoons, I spent sewing up these hair bows in a rainbow of colors:



I got all the colorful grosgrain ribbon from Britax Fabrics in San Francisco’s Union Square, which is the mecca for fabric and notions for the sewing-obsessed in the city. Their assortment of ribbons is swoon-worthy!hairbows6


For every color, I got ribbon in 2 different widths – ⅜” and 1″.  These were the ribbon parts used to make up one hair bow:


I won’t do a full tutorial on how I put the hair bows together, because its pretty self-explanatory and there are tons of great tutorials on the web, but here are a few tips:

1.) I found it easier to sew the “bow” part of the hair clip by hand first. Then hot glue the pieces to the clip. I’m not too skilled with the hot glue gun and I found it tricky glue the bow into the “pinched” form.  Then I sewed the bow “tails” piece to the bottom of the bow and sewed the center piece around them.  I couldn’t work fast enough for the glue gun and there would be big globs of dried glue everywhere, burns on my fingers and the glue globs added extra weight to each clip.  It was just too messy to do with the glue gun.  Sewing gave me a lot more control and was a lot easier for me.

2.  Since I was making a large amount of hair bows, I did everything in stages. I first cut all the ribbon pieces at once. Then burned all the ends of the ribbon with a lighter to seal the edges.  Then sewed all the pieces together.  Then wrapped all the metal clips with the ⅜” ribbon. Then glued all the hair bows on top of the clips.  This was all best done in front of the television :)

3. I bought my metal alligator clips from ebay here. Etsy also sells them.  I used 1 3/8″ Mini Single Prong Alligator Clips without claws which was the perfect size for little girls.

4.  Since most girls’ hair are superfine and slippery, I added little grips to the clips to help them stay in.  I used non-slip drawer liner that I got from the contact paper section of Target  (similar to this) to add to the back of the clips:hairbows4

I’m not going to lie. I understand now why similar hair bows like these sell for $3 or more on Etsy! Each bow was a lot of work.   It takes a lot of precision and patience to churn out a perfect, symmetrical bow!  I estimate spending about half an hour on each one.

Totally worth all the work for my sweet, sweet girls:

I packaged them using card stock, clipping them through holes in the paper:hairbows3
It’s going to be a while before I make any more of these, I’m all bowed out for now. But I love how they turned out!






I’ve made other types of hair clip over the past few years.  Click on the photos below to see posts on these other hair clippies:




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A few years ago, I built a serving tray out of old cedar wood planks and blogged about it here.  I put it together without nails, just wood glued the pieces together, and its held together really well since then.   Fast forward 3 years, we have moved 2 times, my decor has evolved a bit and it was time for a refresh. We don’t have anything cedar-colored in our home, so I decided to upcycle my already upycled tray into this:


All it needed was a few coats of white paint and it has a whole new look to it. I bought kitchen door handles from Hobby Lobby to nail onto the ends to use as tray handles, but I ended up leaving them off.  I liked it plain and simple.  For the paint, I used Annie Sloan’s chalk paint in pure white.   I’ve always wanted to experiment with this paint, I’ve heard great things about it around the web and I am contemplating re-painting our media console with it, so I thought this was the perfect project to test it out.  The great thing about chalk paint is that you don’t need to sand, strip or prime the surface before painting, which is great because I am lazy when it comes to those steps.   You can also use it on a lot of different types of surfaces - wood, concrete, metal – and  inside or outside the home.   It’s also great for distressing if you are into the distressed paint look.  The only hard part is purchasing the paint!  Its hard to find a retailer who sells the paint in stores! I ended up buying the paint, wax and paint brushes online from here. It was not cheap, total costed about $100 including shipping, but I have a ton of paint left over that I can use for future projects.

Instead of painting the tray solid white, I decided to write the word “HAPPY” on the bottom of the tray.  To do this, I used my Silhouette machine to cut out the word in vinyl adhesive and stuck the adhesive onto the tray. If you don’t have a cutting machine, I’m sure you can use painters tape or contact paper instead:



Then I painted over the letters with the chalk paint:happy_tray4

This is what it looks like after one coat of paint:happy_tray5

I ended up needing 4 coats of paint to get a pretty solid layer. Luckily, the paint dries fairly quickly and I only had to wait about half an hour between coats. After letting it dry over night, I peeled off the vinyl letters and got a pretty clean image left behind:happy_tray6

Now it was time to wax.  Waxing protects and seals the surface.  I’ve never done this before so I was a little intimidated but its much easier than applying polyurethane over paint.  The wax is soft like crisco and you rub it into the surface with a clean cloth or wax brush in small section, then wipe off the excess. I did 2 layers of wax:happy_tray7

Let the wax cure overnight and it hardens with a subtle sheen to it. I love the finished look!happy_tray8

It’s up on our wall for now, just hanging out, but I can’t wait to use it for future parties!happy_tray9

Click on the photo below to see the original cedar tray post:



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I live in San Francisco where gluten is public enemy #1, the whole city is is seemingly vegetarian/vegan/nut-free/dairy-free, the non-conformists are considered the cool ones and coconut oil reigns as the cure-all for everything.  I had never heard of coconut oil until 2014 and its now become the new superfood, claiming to do everything from promoting weight loss to whitening teeth to strengthening the immune system.  See 101 uses of coconut oil here.  Seriously, is there anything coconut oil CAN’T do?!  I haven’t really jumped into this fad because I’m not a huge coconut person, but I did pick up a jar of coconut oil from Trader Joe’s to use as moisturizer.  Since I had a huge jar of it, I also used it to make Zoey homemade play dough!  I’ve made buckets and buckets of play dough with Zoey before with all sorts of oils, but coconut oil is definitely my favorite because it smells so good and has the added benefit of moisturizing our hands when we play with it.

Coconut oil is one of those weird oils that is solid at room temperature, looking a lot like lard, but liquifies when heated up:


Look at all the pretty colors you can make!


We go through play dough a lot in our household so making our own homemade version is actually really easy, fast and cheap.  It takes only about 3-5 minutes on the stovetop.  The only downside is that it uses A TON of salt in the recipe, we are constantly running out!  Once I make the dough though, if stored in a sealed container or ziploc bag, it lasts for a long time.  We are still playing with play dough that I made over half a year ago!

Here are the ingredients you need to make one large ball of dough, all things that you can find in your pantry:



  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp. cream of tarter
  • 1/3 cup salt (any kind)
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. You can also use 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil (pictured) or olive oil
  • food coloring. I use Wilton’s gel food coloring



In a saucepan combine flour, cream of tart and salt together:playdough6

Turn on your stove to medium heat,  add water and your choice of oil, and stir:


Add a couple drops of food coloring to the mix and keep stirring:


The mixture will be lumpy at first but will start congealing quickly, within a matter of minutes, so keep your eye on the stove and keep mixing:playdough9

It’ll thicken up fast and so you want to scrape  the drier dough off the bottom of the pan quickly and keep incorporating it into the wet dough until it starts to dry out like this:playdough10

Remove it from heat immediately when it all balls together and let cool for about half an hour on a piece of wax paper or silpat mat:playdough11

After the dough is cool enough to touch, knead gently with your hands until the dough is smooth:playdough12


Time to play!!! Zoey loves playing with all her play dough!!! We have all sorts of animal cookie cutters and these play dough tools. It’ll keep her occupied for awhile.  We have been potty training lately (Lord, help us all!) so play dough has been the perfect indoor activity for us!

Now go make lots of fun colors!


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Merry Christmas, my friends!!!!!

Here are my family’s Christmas stockings hung up and ready to be stuffed with goodies tonight:


I bought these white cable knit stockings from Target last year for $14 each but never got a chance to hang them up since we were in San Diego/Vegas last Christmas.  Luckily, I had the foresight to buy four stockings last winter in case we ever had a second child.  Jeff thought I was being a crazy shopoholic for buying stockings last year that we didn’t even use and an extra one for a non-existent person, but I’m so glad I did!  Now our second daughter won’t have a mismatched stocking!  And I finally got to hang them up!

I have been looking for a neutral cable knit stockings for awhile and you can’t beat the Target price.  I wanted to customize them with our names though and thought it’d be cute to embroider our first names with some chunky yarn.  For this project, I used leftover gray wool yarn and bought a tapestry needle :


The tapestry needles work great because they are larger and thicker than regular sewing needles and have an extra large eye to thread the thick yarn through:embroidered_stockings2

I wished I had a disappearing fabric ink marker so that I could trace out the letters before I sewed them, but mine dried up so I sort of freehand sewed as I went.  The letters turned out sort of wonky but I kind of like that they are imperfect and have that handmade look to them.  It look awhile to finish each name (luckily we all have pretty short first names!) and I was able to sew one stocking a night in front of the tv. We still haven’t decided on a name for baby girl #2 yet, but here are the current three of us:


Since we don’t have a mantle, the stockings are hung on our media console:embroidered_stockings3

Here is our Christmas card this year!

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 9.46.03 PM

See our holiday cards from previous years: 2013, 2012, 2011 & 2010

Jeff’s making his famous Peking duck for us tomorrow!  He’s also brushing up on his guitar skills so that we can sing some Christmas carols.   I’m planning on  making a special pancake breakfast and Zoey and I will bake a birthday cake for baby Jesus.  Then we are off on a short road trip down the central California coast with my family.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!!! Hope this holiday season is a joyful one for you!!!  Wishing you all the best!

Thanks for reading my blog! See you in the new year!

Lots of love, ilene


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Girly Felt Christmas Ornaments!

by ilene on December 22, 2014 · 1 comment

in christmas, holidays, sewing




I finally finished!!  I thought I was way ahead of the game and started sewing these felt Christmas ornaments for Zoey in OCTOBER but it took so long that I finally finished the last one yesterday. Whew! Just in time for the week of Christmas!  Cutting it a little close. I almost gave up halfway through.  I wanted to make Zoey a set of 25 super girly ornaments for the little Christmas tree we set up in her bedroom.  We got her this little 5 foot $25 Christmas tree from Ikea which she proudly calls “Zoey’s Christmas tree”.  She reminds me to turn on the twinkle lights every day and shows it off to all our visitors. My original plan was to have these ornaments sewn up and ready for the beginning of Advent and give her one each day to hang up but I just couldn’t get them done in time.  Depending on the complexity of the design, each ornament took an average of 45 min to an hour to sew.  This project was definitely a labor of love!!  Luckily Jeff took Zoey out for an afternoon trip to Napa yesterday and left me alone at home for 7 glorious hours!  Six of which was spent on my sewing machine.  That was the longest time I’ve been by myself since Zoey was born!   I didn’t get out of my pajamas, caught up on my DVR, ate cupcakes for lunch and enjoyed not wearing an ounce of makeup.  Best day ever.  I was so glad I finally had a good chunk of time to finish these.  Its amazing how much I can get done when there is no toddler clinging to my leg!

Since Zoey’s bedroom is decorated in pink and gray, I kept the color scheme for these ornaments in these colors. When I was in NYC in October, I hit up my favorite fabric store, Purl SOHO, and got a bunch of high quality wool felt for this project.  I also got a few extra colors from this wonderful Etsy store.  I used left over quilting batting in between the layers of felt.


Half the ornaments were “sweets” themed since Zozo is just like her mama and loves her desserts:felt_ornament3


Most of the designs I drew up  by hand or printed out clipart I found on google image search to use as patterns. I did buy a pattern for the teacup/teapot/cupcakes from this etsy shop because I thought they were adorable.

The other half of the ornaments were more traditional shapes:felt_ornament4

I tried to make each ornament unique with a special design and add some sort of embellishment like sequins, beads, lace or iron on rhinestones.  The ones with the sequins took the longest to make because they had to be sewn by hand.   It would have been easier to just use fabric glue but I’m hoping these ornaments would last for years to come and wasn’t sure how well glue would hold up:


This “i+j” heart is so simple but my favorite:



Zoey likes to hang them up and then take them down and then hang them all up again.   Since she is so little, she hangs them in one big cluster on the lower branches. Its so cute to see them all bunched together at the bottom:felt_ornament7

I’m hoping Zoey and her little sister will cherish these handmade ornaments made for them by mom!  My plan is to hang them up on their tree year after year!

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