3.1 Phillip Lim Open Back Stripe Sculpted Dress

Fashion Friday: 3.1 Phillip Lim Look for Less

3.1 Phillip Lim Open Back Stripe Sculpted Dress

The perfect summer dress–if you have $550 to spend. 3.1 Phillip Lim Open Back Stripe Sculpted Dress via Nordstrom.

So I’m in the process of putting my spring/summer 10-item wardrobe together–yay! While most of the pieces I wore last year are in good shape, I do need a few things: new t-shirts, a pair of shorts, and a casual-yet-spiffy dress. So I was psyched to spot this 3.1 Phillip Lim Open Back Stripe Sculpted Dress during a recent shopping trip with my mom. It combines three things I love: stripes, a fitted silhouette, and a super-cute back opening. Then I checked the price tag.

$550. Yikes! Yes, that was me dropping the tag like a hot potato and sadly trudging away. I can make a dress last a long time, but I’d have to wear it for about 10 years to make it worthwhile. Will I want a back cut-out when I’m 51? Probably not.

J Crew Factory Chevron-Striped Dress

J Crew Factory Chevron-Striped Dress–a very reasonable $64.50! Via J Crew Factory.

But then! True love found me via banner ad (I know, right? Who even notices banners these days) and showed me this J. Crew Factory (like that is a surprise) Factory Chevron-Striped Dress, which is quite reasonably priced at $64.50. Like the 3.1 Phillip Lim dress, you can see that it’s striped and fitted (albeit with a front pleat), and the neckline and armholes are similar. Instead of white with navy stripes, it’s navy with white stripes. But what captured my attention was . . . (drumroll please):

FFJCrew2Yes! The back opening (described as a “coyback opening” in the Nordstrom URL, good description, meta data!) is very similar. Definitely worth a try! I never even tried on the 3.1 dress (I think my tears would have soiled it), but I’ll be making a trip to Woodburn after Memorial Day weekend!

I feel a little like Betty unearthing a cute knockoff of one of Veronica’s “Paris originals.” Yes, pretty much all of these Fashion Friday posts will contain an Archie Comics reference. You’re welcome.

What are you looking for this summer? Post below!

Yes You Can: Get Vomit out of a Car Seat

BakingSoda

You don’t want to need this post. But you may, someday. And then you’ll thank me. If thinking about babies or toddlers projectile-vomiting all over their car seats makes you queasy, bookmark this and come back as needed.

One day, I was setting up my son’s annual school art auction all day, so my sweet Sarah went to her brother’s baseball game with Daddy, Aunt Myndi, Grandma, and Grandpa. This is what I heard when they came home (I was upstairs getting into a fancy dress and doing my hair).

Sid: “That baby threw up everywhere! Your car smells like puke!”

Sarah: “Waaaaaaaaaaaah!”

I came downstairs to find Sarah covered, and I mean covered, in greenish puke (turns out it was chocolate chip mint ice cream) and sobbing, arms outstretched, as Scott undressed her on the front porch. The car seat was there, looking like Slimer from Ghostbusters had exploded all over it. It reeked of semi-digested dairy and bile. Whoa nelly. Now if this had been her infant carrier, it would have been easy–the whole cover came off and was washable. That was not the case with this one (check your manual to make sure).

This is how I handled it (the next day, even), with help from this source:

How to Get Vomit out of a Car Seat

  1. Blot up/scrape up as much of the vomit as possible. Use a spoon and/or a kitchen towel. Burn them with fire after.
  2. Cover the affected areas with baking soda; let sit for 30 minutes (preferably outside).
  3. Vacuum up the baking soda. Throw away your vacuum.
  4. Mix a solution of hot water with a splash of white vinegar and a few drops of dish soap.
  5. Now get a washcloth and/or a brush and scrub that chair! Don’t forget the straps–move around the buckles/pads/etc. to get into every crevice.
  6. Move around the padding/lining to make sure there aren’t any puddles of goo.
  7. Blot with a clean towel.
  8. Let dry, preferably outside in the sun, but a warm dry place will do.

Thankfully, this did the trick. And really, that car seat needed a good cleaning anyway. But dear Lord someone remind me to keep an old towel in the back seat!

Celebrate GeekCraft Expo PDX at Bridge City Comics 6/10

Hey guys! Here’s an update on GeekCraft Expo PDX, which I am helping to coordinate. We’re throwing a party Friday, June 10 with free food and beer and prizes! Come on out and have a fun evening at Bridge City Comics.

GeekCraftPartyWhat: GeekCraft Expo PDX Kick-Off Party
Where: Bridge City Comics, 3725 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR 97227
When: June 10, 2016 from 6 to 9 pm
RSVP on Facebook

GeekCraft Expo founder and comic book writer Daniel Way (Deadpool, Wolverine: Origins) invites you to celebrate the debut of GeekCraft Expo PDX, Portland’s nerdiest craft fair, at a special kick-off party at Bridge City Comics June 10! This epic bash will feature free beer from Hop Valley Brewing Co. (for those 21+ with valid ID) and complimentary snacks, as well as music by sci-fi DJ Kielen King. In addition, every attendee will take a spin on the prize wheel, loaded with goodies from Dark Horse Comics, Hollywood Theatre, Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade, Guardian Games, Bridge City Comics, and Portland Retro Gaming Expo—while supplies last! This is an all-ages event.

“This being my first ‘official’ visit to Portland, I’m really looking forward to getting my nerd on with PDX’s legendary geek community,” said Daniel Way. “I can’t wait to open the doors on the inaugural GeekCraft Expo PDX!”

“I was intrigued when I first heard about GeekCraft Expo,” said Bridge City Comics owner Michael Ring. “Handmade geeky crafts? I love it! And I was especially honored when Bridge City Comics was asked to host the kick-off party. I jumped at the chance to work with this crew!”

GeekCraft Expo is an Etsy-Meets-Comic Con craft show that has traveled to 16 cities across the US and Canada. Its Portland debut, June 11-12 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Portland, is free to the public and will showcase local crafters and artisans who create jewelry, plushes, artwork, and more inspired by comics and pop culture. Interested in exhibiting? Apply by May 17. Interested in attending? RSVP on Facebook.

Who’s coming? I want to see your faces!

Betty Veronica Dan DeCarlo Fashion

Betty & Veronica Fashion Friday

Betty Veronica Dan DeCarlo Fashion

Betty and Veronica as drawn by Dan DeCarlo, circa 1960s.

It’s no secret I love Archie Comics and Betty and Veronica. I especially enjoy the ’60s-era Dan DeCarlo renditions of my favorite frenemies–particularly the clothes. If you look at any of DeCarlo’s comics and pinups, it’s immediately clear that he really researched the clothes of the era, and that he had definitive ideas of how Betty and Veronica should dress (for example, Betty generally wears full skirts, while Veronica–that hussy–opts for pencil skirts).

I’ve always aspired to dress like the ladies–so classic! So graphic! So I decided to have a little fun and create my own interpretation of one of their looks. I even went so far as to select affordable clothing for Betty (Nordstrom Rack!) and designer for dear Ronnie (Dolce & Gabbana!).

So how did I do?

Betty & Veronica Fashion Friday #1

 

Coffee Grinder Zero Waste

Shopping With Less Waste: the Caffeinated Version

Coffee Grinder Zero Waste

My shiny “new” coffee grinder!

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Zero Waste post, mainly because I’ve just been doing the same things: using reusable bags (including produce and bulk bags), doing as much bulk bin shopping as I can, and doing monthly meal planning to try to cut food waste. Unfortunately, I am still buying meat and cheese in plastic (although I’m buying large quantities to at least cut down on the overall packaging). But I did have a revelation a couple weeks ago that will propel me down a path to less waste.

Our house guest, Alise, stayed with us for a month after Emerald City Comic Con. That was enough time for her to acquire enough souvenirs and gifts from people and publishers that she needed another suitcase before she flew home to Latvia! Not wanting her to spend more money than necessary, I took her to the massive Goodwill Superstore near us. If you’ve never been to a Goodwill before (how?!?), it’s a thrift store filled with donations from people clearing out their closets, as well as some new things donated from companies.

I usually only go there to get rid of things (so many things). I rarely go in, because I’m trying not to buy more stuff. And yet. When I went down the aisles stuffed with electronics, kitchen gear, books, and more, I kept seeing things that yes, I had purchased new this year. A five-gallon drink cooler! A stainless steel travel mug! Pyrex (I bought a 10″ x 14″ glass casserole dish for $7.99, score)! My mind boggled as I realized I probably never needed to buy anything new again.

So this was fresh in my mind when I opened Sid’s Mother’s Day present to me, which included a bag of coffee! Yay, I love coffee! However, when I opened the bag, I realized it was coffee beans. And I have no grinder. Or rather, I had one, but I lent it to a neighbor 15 years (and about 12 residences) ago and never got it back (I am pretty weird sometimes).

Off to Goodwill, where I found two identical white Mr. Coffee grinders, one for $4.99, one for $7.99 (I picked up the $7.99 one just in case). Took it home–no bag, no packaging to toss–gave it a quick clean, and then made a pot of coffee. Perfect! I looked up my grinder on Amazon and saw an identical one for $15.44, so I felt very smug. Also caffeinated.

Thrift store purchases might be hard to stomach, for some. The stuff usually seems “used,” rather than “vintage.” It can make you feel poor. There’s definitely something in our culture that makes stepping into a shiny-new store and buying a brand-new, brand-name object feel so good.

But how many of those things have you donated to Goodwill–or a similar outfit–over the years? The “new thing” smell wears off pretty quick. And oh man, the gadgets I saw: Ninja blenders, juicers (juicers are like the gym memberships of kitchen appliances), espresso machines, old-fashioned giant coffee urns like you see at church suppers (that might be something only I coo over)!

My tips: thrift stores in wealthier areas tend to have more brand-name items. And if you want something very specific (like a coffee grinder), I’d suggest going straight to a Goodwill Superstore rather than one of the smaller stores (you’ll waste less gas or have a shorter bike trip). Also, when you realize that no, you really don’t want to buy 20 pounds of produce to juice every week . . . donate that juicer back so another sucker can pick it up.

What’s your best thrift store find? Post below!

Enchanted Forest Map

Enchanted Forest: How to Have the Best Time Without Spending All Your Money

Enchanted Forest Map

An outdated yet charming map of the Enchanted Forest! Image via the Enchanted Forest.

Oregon’s Enchanted Forest is a very special, deeply weird place. Created by Roger Tofte, who opened the park in 1971 after working on it practically single-handedly for seven years, the Enchanted Forest is still family owned and operated, and it looks it. This is not a dig. The description on the Google map is “enduring children’s theme park” which is perfect (but it’s not just for children).

Walking through this fairytale-themed wonderland, you can see the evolution of a singular vision: from the old, creepy animatronic dioramas of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, to the mid-sized but still very effective Ice Mountain Bobsleds roller coaster, finally arriving at the thoroughly modern (and cool!) Challenge of Mondor ride. I love it all. However, when we went last summer, I was shocked–shocked!–at how much money we spent without even thinking. So I analyzed the features of the park so I (and you) could strategize for the future!

Note: The purpose of this article is not to be as cheap as possible. I support the Enchanted Forest and want it to thrive for decades to come. This is more about allocating your funds in a thoughtful matter and prioritizing what you and your family will really enjoy. Think of this as a way for you to go to the Enchanted Forest more often, because you didn’t blow your budget the first time. So let’s get started!

Enchanted Forest

The Enchanted Forest is DELIGHTFUL. Photo via Wikipedia.

Arriving at the Enchanted Forest

You’re not getting in the door without paying admission: $11.75 for adults, $10.50 for seniors and children 3-12. This is also where you can buy ride tickets and bracelets. Danger Zone!

Big Timber Log Ride Enchanted Forest

The Big Timber Log Ride! Photo via PDXFamilyAdventures.com.

Ride Bracelets: Yea or Nay?

With ride tickets at $1 and rides ranging from two to four tickets, the unlimited ride bracelets can seem like a good deal–but check out the park and your kid’s tolerance for rides and long lines first! EF has two bracelets: a Regular Ride Bracelet for $25.95 (about 10 rides if you spent the equivalent in tickets and went on each ride once or so), and a Kiddy Ride Bracelet for $15.95 (about seven rides’ worth of tickets).

So, if your child (or, er, you) wants to go on more rides than that–or they prefer to stick to the more expensive rides (Big Timber Log Ride!), a bracelet can be a good deal. Check out the lines. Do you have enough time to get your money’s worth? Are you tall enough to go on all the rides? Go forth and spend your money! The last time we went, we bought Sid a regular bracelet without considering that 1) he doesn’t like roller coasters or log rides and 2) the line for Challenge of Mondor was really long. We would have been better off spending $8 for him to fight wizards and dragons twice.

Enchanted Forest

Good makeout place. Not in front of the kids! Photo from PDXFamilyAdventures.com.

Free Things to Do at The Enchanted Forest

If you’re on a super-limited budget (or have a goal of hitting EF every single weekend), you are in luck. There are tons of things to do at the Enchanted Forest that are free, once you pay admission:

  • Storybook Lane – The old-school part of the Enchanted Forest. Visit Snow White and see the Seven Dwarves’ mine, walk through the Little Crooked House, listen to Hansel, Gretel, and the Witch (super creepy), fall (or rather scoot) down Alice’s rabbit hole, and more. This is equal parts magical and kind of horrifying.
  • Tofteville Western Town – Includes a “town” with wooden sidewalks, Fort Fearless, the Indian Caves, and the Opera House gift shop (not free unless you shoplift–do not shoplift, there is a jail in Western Town).
  • Fantasy Fountains Water-Light Show – A water show with pretty lights set to music! Plays throughout the day. I find this very soothing.
  • Summer Comedy Theater – Each year, Roger Tofte’s daughter Susan Vaslev writes her own comedic take on a fairy tale, and high school drama kids perform it twice per day. Last year’s Emperor’s New Clothes was a crack-up (and also a musical)!
  • Smooching. I’m serious (not for children). The Indian Caves and inside the Witch’s Head are primo makeout spots!

Food: Bring Your Own

The food at the Enchanted Forest is not bad: typical plain-Jane fast food burgers, nachos, corn dogs, etc. It’s just not good. The Enchanted Forest is perfectly fine with people bringing picnics, so why not just pack a lunch and buy an ice cream cone while you’re there? You won’t be missing out on much. Just remember you’ll need to carry your stuff around–a backpack is good. This is why people keep using strollers when their children can walk just fine, by the way. I know this now.

Enchanted Forest Plate

Do I need this Enchanted Forest plate? No. Do I want it? Kinda. Photo via Etsy.

Do You Need Souvenirs?

This is a personal question that everyone must answer for themselves. I am currently in a life-or-death struggle against junk at my house, so my answer is no, I don’t need another mug or water pistol or whatever branded dollar store goods the Enchanted Forest has to offer. EF has expanded its offerings to include The Best Little Facepainting and Costume Shoppe (the name of which will never not make me laugh, hello Dolly Parton), which I think must be in response to Great Wolf Lodge’s similar offerings.

Didn’t You Forget Something?

Do not go in the Haunted House. It is super scary and I will never go in it again (the last time I was 22 and nannying two 8-year-olds and a 4-four-old, it did not go well). Stop reminding me. No I will not post a picture.

The Enchanted Forest is located in Turner, Oregon and is open daily from May 13 to September 5 (open weekends until September 25). Go forth and enjoy this unique, magical wonderland–wisely.

Happy Monday! So Much Geek Stuff

GrandmaSarah

I love this picture of my Mom and Sarah!

Hello everyone! How was your weekend? Did you celebrate Mother’s Day? I had a lovely day–I got to sleep in while Scott dressed and fed Sarah and took her for a walk, and then we met up with family for brunch. You know it was a serious brunch because they had cocktail shrimp and, yes, I ate a lot of them.

Guys, there’s so much geeky stuff going on–both in general and for me personally. I’m actually missing seeing Captain America: Civil War this weekend because I have a geeky craft meetup I’m organizing the same day. The mind boggles! But let’s get to it:

Geeky Stuff

Where to begin? GeekCraft Expo PDX–a curated, handmade geeky craft show–is coming to Portland June 11-12 at the DoubleTree Portland. The Facebook event is here. The website (listing 15 other GeekCraft Expos in the US and Canada) is here. All exhibitors are pre-qualified to exhibit as makers at Rose City Comic Con 2017 (while space allows). The extended deadline to apply is May 17!

To celebrate, we’re hosting another GeekCraftUp at SCRAP PDX, an amazing nonprofit organization that accepts craft materials donations and is committed to be creativity and recycling! We’re meeting from 4-7 pm May 14 (this is why I’m missing Civil War, dear readers), and every attendee will receive a bright yellow Avatar: The Last Airbender reusable bag from Dark Horse Comics with a couple of goodies inside (while supplies last), plus we’ll have some amazing raffle prizes, including a print signed by Hellboy creator (and recent Grand Master Award winner from Spectrum) Mike Mignola!

Mysterious GeekCraft Expo-related event TBA! Could it be a kickoff party (it might be a kickoff party)? Might it be at a super cool location (yes) with awesome music, (uh huh) prizes (of course), and more? Stay tuned for our announcement!

In other news, Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men have finally reached my X-Men comics entry point, Inferno (the Madelyne Pryor stuff)! I cannot wait to listen to this week’s episode. My only complaint is I cannot do anything else (like type) while listening to them–their program is so dense (in the best way) and full of trivia, insights, and sheer passion!

Also, The Doubleclicks, Portland’s geek-flavored folk-rock sister duo, are leaving on a giant summer tour beginning in June, gracing 28 towns and two countries with their sweet-yet-snarky tunes.

Phew! That’s all I’ve got for today. Stay tuned for more fun stuff this week!