DIY: Paper Succulents

I love succulents. I’ve been pinning them and staring at etsy creations featuring them for a couple of years now. You can’t deny their beauty. What’s great about succulents is that there are so many varieties, colors, shapes, and sizes – literally something for everyone. Even men love succulents, a great alternative to flowers. They’ve taken off in the wedding world, and something I’ve considered using for my one day future wedding.

As I was scrolling through the Michaels website, I decided to check out classes being held at my local store. One of the options scheduled for June was a session creating succulent artwork out of paper! Yes, paper! I’ve already bought a teeny tiny succulent plant from Michaels, and have been contemplating buying more to spruce up my desks at work and home. But why buy plants when I can make something cute myself (with the help of Michaels still).

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What you’ll need (I didn’t purchase everything in the above materials list):

  • Bazzill Basics Cardstock (2-3 colors) – .79/each
  • Artminds Unfinished Wood Frame – $1.00
  • Ashland Moss Variety Pack – $8.49
  • Glue gun
  • Paper plate
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers

Instructions:

Draw different sized leaf shapes on a paper plate and cut them out. You’ll use these as your template to cut out your leaves in your selected card stock. While the example from Michaels has three different succulents, for this tutorial you’ll only be making two succulents.
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Use your templates to trace your leaves onto your cardstock. Then start assembling your leaves in a shape of your desire. Once you’re pleased with the design, start hot gluing the leaves together, overlapping. You may find using smaller leaves in the center of the succulent is more visually pleasing.

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I then rolled a small leaf up to create a little center bud.

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After you’re happy with your first succulent, create a second.

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You may find the hot glue goes all over the place, leaving stingy pieces everywhere. Don’t fret! Just use a pair of tweezers to remove excess glue.

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Next, we’ll want to cut a piece of cardstock that’s slightly bigger than the picture frame’s hole.

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Once that’s measured, start placing your succulents on the paper (don’t glue them!) to get a sense of where things look best. You’ll see in the picture below I cut a couple leaves out and added them to the bottom of each succulent with my hot glue.

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After you know where you want your succulents to go, it’s time to start playing around with our moss. This is where things get messy! The moss bits tend to break apart a bit, especially if you cut them into smaller pieces, which I recommend doing for this project.

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Once you have some moss down, it’s time to attach your first succulent. Having moss below your succulents adds a 3D effect.

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Continue to add moss around the first succulent, and then add your final succulent to the cardstock square. Once the square is completely filled, and you can’t see any of the cardstock beneath, it’s time to glue your creation to the frame. Add a thin line of hot glue around the frame’s opening, and press very lightly down with your cardstock. Within seconds the glue will be dry and it’s time to add the peg to the back of the frame and display your creation!

This creation would be great for a cheap centerpiece, desk decoration, or wall art.

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Rent the Runway Review: Wedding attire

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What’s Rent the Runway?
A rental service for dresses, accessories, and outfits. They carry a ton of different designers from Kate Spade, Badgley Mischka, and everyone in between. When you rent a dress, you’re allowed to choose two sizes, at no extra cost, so you can try the dresses on at home and make sure you get the right fit for you.

I had been meaning to try them out for a couple of years, but after college I didn’t have many events that called for a fancy dress. This past year however, the wedding invitations poured in and my boyfriend suggested I finally give it a try. We had a mutual high school friend’s wedding this past fall so I decided to go for it. I found a great dress and was super pumped to see how it would look, but that’s where the excitement ended.

My dress was scheduled to arrive two days before we left, I had a UPS tracking number and it showed everything was looking good. I should note, I live in the same town as the Rent the Runway factory where they ship all the dresses out. I assumed the whole rental was going to be easy peasy and everything would go smoothly, but boy was I wrong. UPS showed my dress was out for delivery by 8pm (our complex is the last stop for UPS as we’re also in the same town as the UPS shipping center). 8pm came and went, as did 9pm. I started to freak out.

My boyfriend called UPS and said we would pick up the dress in person the following morning when they opened up.The next day we went to UPS and the man at the front desk said they didn’t have the package. Apparently Rent the Runway was (or maybe still is) known for not placing labels on packages securely. They mentioned that this was a frequent occurrence where the labels would fall off and the delivery person wouldn’t know which package was which so they would just bring the clothes back to Rent the Runway. We then spent the next day calling Rent the Runway, emailing, and tweeting them. No one answered. Twitter showed a lot of people were also missing their dresses. We even offered to go to the warehouse to pick up the dress in person (they have a store where you can buy the worn dresses from them as well – I’ll do a review one of these days) but they said that they wouldn’t be able to give us my rental dress. I was crushed, and luckily had a backup option. Rent the Runway gave me a coupon code for my next rental and refunded my purchase after a few days of harassing them.

Flash forward a few months and I decided I would put that coupon code to use and try once more to see if Rent the Runway could come through for a wedding. Everything started to play out just like last time. The dress was “out for delivery” for hours and it was starting to look like another failure. Eventually, I got an email from the front desk that I had a delivery. I was expecting to get my hopes up again, fearing I couldn’t trust RtR, but success, my dresses arrived! Now onto what I ordered:

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The wedding was in April so I figured a cute brightly colored dress would be perfect, and lo and behold I found this Kate Spade Mint Bow Back Dress. I chose the 4 day rental, crossed my fingers that the dress would fit and look appropriate. Shortly after placing my rental order I realized the back, which appeared fairly low in pictures, along with the inward facing straps might call for a strapless bra. I didn’t have anything great on hand, except a neon pink one, so I zapped my way over to Zappos and ordered a nude strapless bra, which came before the dress 🙂

As I opened the garment bag I started to get really nervous. Is the dress going to fit me? I chose to order a second size (for free) just to be safe, and I also found the dress being sold at a department store online and checked out the size guide there so I felt I had a fairly decent idea of what size would work best. Thankfully, both dresses fit (the bigger size was a little too roomy so I opted for the smaller size).

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That weekend, I got nothing but complements on the dress. Everyone loved the color and thought the cut and fit was absolutely perfect. No one could believe I rented it! With my coupon code for RtR’s previous blunder, and the Pro account I bought (covers insurance and shipping) I got the dress for $35! That’s a steal when the dress itself costs $348 at retail.

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Would I use Rent the Runway again?
Yes, but always with apprehension. I suggest that you always have a backup on hand because you never know what might happen. The dresses I received were in perfect condition, so I definitely trust the quality. If you can get away with it, try the 8 day rental option for your first order so that if something does go wrong, you might be able to get through to customer service in time for a new dress.

Have you rented from Rent the Runway?

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May Obsessions

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Every month I’ll be posting a handful of things (shows, treats, activities, etc) that I can’t get enough of. This month I’m digging:

Lost Boy by Ruth B – I discovered this song one afternoon a couple of months ago while I was listening to Pandora at work. I’ve become obsessed with it. This month I heard the song on the radio for the first time here in NYC (Z100). I’m so excited to now hear my latest favorite song being shared across the airwaves. I look forward to more music from Ruth B! You’ve got to check her out 🙂

7 Years by Lukas Graham – Super catchy song that makes me think about where I am in life and how the years are flying by. I need to start slowing down and enjoy the world around me.

Tour Group (tv show on Bravo) – Ok, it’s not the best show, but I love travel shows and with summer around the corner this show is getting me in the mindset to plan a vacation, which I’m really bad at doing.

Below Deck Mediterranean (tv show on Bravo)– Not as good as the original Below Deck series but it’s got Chef Ben who is one of my favorite members of the crew.

Papyrus Cards – Since May plays hosts to Mother’s Day I had to give Papyrus a shout out. Papyrus greeting cards are the most beautiful cards out there, hands down! I was first introduced to these beauties in my college bookstore and then I visited a stand alone Papyrus store when I lived out in California. My grandmother has quickly fallen in love with receiving these cards from me so I always make sure to go out of my way to scout down the prettiest Papyrus card I can find. Sending cards has always been something I’ve enjoyed and I’m glad there’s something a little “extra special” available in the greeting card aisles.

Hamilton (Broadway Musical)– My boyfriend surprised me with tickets to the musical to help celebrate my recent promotion. I’m specifically obsessed with the King in the show and can’t get his funny antics and songs out of my head. The show is worth the wait and cost!

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Watercolors for beginners: Lupine Flowers

 

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I’ve been meaning to try watercolors lately since the last time I recall using the medium was when I was a small child in art class. For my first watercolor post I wanted to share a very basic, safe for beginners, watercolor painting of Lupine flowers – a beautiful wildflower.

What you’ll need:

  • Water color paints (easily found at Amazon.com)
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This Koi Water Colors kit comes with everything you need, including a water color brush that you fill with water!

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  • Watercolor paper (easily found at Amazon.com)

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  • A paper towel – great for wiping up extra paint/water
  • Cup of water

Lupine flowers are kind of coned shaped with a bigger base of buds at the bottom with progressively smaller buds as you move up the flower, forming a point at the top.

To get started we’ll pick a color and make imperfect tear dropped or oval shapes.

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Continue making ovals and teardrops, moving up the paper creating a cone shape. Consider adding a second color to your buds to add a little depth or movement. The color will disperse throughout the bud since the blue paint is still wet. Let the paint do it’s thing! Perfection is not needed with watercolors.

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Once you’ve created a cone shape, create a light colored stem to bring your Lupine together.

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If you’re like me you still have some gaps to fill in around the stem. Simply add more buds.

Once you have one Lupine flower, add additional ones to fill your paper and create a nice landscape. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but adding different colored Lupines is recommended.

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Once you have 3-4 Lupines, add some grass at the bottom of your painting. Optional, add a blue background/sky by wetting the paper extensively and smoothing a blue paint across the paper, watering down the color so it’s pale and almost translucent.

And voila! Before you know it you’ve got a simple watercolor painting completed!

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An Honest Tieks Review – Are they comfy? Do Tieks smell?

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What are Tieks? They are a foldable leather pair of flats that you can take on the go with you. They also happen to come in the cutest packaging.

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Whenever I peruse Pinterest, Tieks reviews are always popping up and they always have the same things in common:

a) The post is sponsored by Tieks themselves, OR

b) It’s the same cookie cutter blog post with practically the same review/comments.

When I was looking to purchase my own Tieks I did some Google searching and all the results were basically the same, making me question whether these shoes were really the answer to all my flat shoe prayers or if it was just too good to be true.  I feel there’s a need to provide you with an honest review from someone who isn’t going to sugar coat things.

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I currently own 3 pairs of Tieks, but typically only wear one on a regular basis (Metallic Pewter). First thing to note, Tieks are pretty pricey with a price tag starting at $175. You need to make sure you’re ready to invest in something so pricey that may or may not work out for you. Flats are one of those items that are tricky to purchase, especially online and if you have narrow feet/ankles.

My ankles are pretty small so I’m used to giving up the fight with flats because they always slip off my ankles and make me feel like I’m wearing flip flops since they flop right off and flip right back up at me. My default is to just put on my trusty Target sandals. Skinny ankles aside, I’ve wanted to look more mature in the office and I felt flats were worth investing in (and investigating). Alas, I gave into the hype and purchased my first pair.

Initial reactions? The shoes were kind of uncomfortable, giving me blisters on my heels and the tight toe bed made my big toe on one foot noticeable through the leather. I even tried a size up thinking maybe I had the wrong size, but the larger size was too big and floppy. So, I took action and put on my fluffiest pair of socks and slipped on my Tieks to stretch them a bit, and I added stick on heel protectors inside of the shoes to cushion my heels and help with any potential blisters. This helped but it took several sock sessions and evenings out with my Tieks to make them feel comfortable.

Nowadays I am walking around in my already worn in pair of Tieks without the stick on heel protectors after several months of use, which gives me hope that Tieks can become a staple in my wardrobe. I’m still wearing only one of my pairs on a regular basis because breaking in the shoes is sometimes too exhausting when most of my commute involves walking. No one wants to commute in and out of Manhattan with blisters and the back of flats digging into your ankles.

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Heavily worn Tieks

Now on to one TMI topic I must address: Smell. I don’t think I’m typically a sweaty foot kind of person but Tieks with their full leather construction make my feet heat up and get a bit sweaty, which leads to the leather (non-removable) insoles becoming worn and smelly. You don’t know how many Google searches I did to see if this was normal or if people had cleaning suggestions. Sadly, I always came up empty handed. Maybe I’m just special (weird), but I can’t be the only one with smelly Tieks! Sadly I don’t have a great suggestion to avoid them from getting smelly but I have found a couple products from Avon (Thanks Mom!) worth keeping on hand if you plan to do a lot of walking that have helped a bit.

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Avon foot works – Deodorizing spray and foot powder help keep your Tieks smelling too much

Next up on my journey of fresh smelling Tieks I’ll be trying a new product, Foot Petals: Sock-Free Saviors, that are removable and machine washable insoles! They are supposed to help with odor and be a great tool for shoes you can’t wear socks with, or rather not wear socks with (thinking of Keds). I’ll be walking around with the Sock-Free Saviors over the next couple of weeks so stay tuned for a review here!

5 Takeaways on Tieks:

  1. Tieks aren’t life altering as some reviewers will make you think, but they are fashionable and are a great alternative to heels or sneakers.
  2. I don’t feel like I’m walking on clouds but I do feel a fair amount of cushioning thanks to the eye catching cushioned blue bottoms.
  3. For me at least, they required a great deal of breaking in – they weren’t super comfortable or enjoyable right out of the box but if you’re determined to keep your Tieks, keep at it with wearing socks with them within your home until you get them just right.
  4. As many other ladies have mentioned, Tieks should consider creating half sizes. Half sizes might help with those of us who have slight complaints about the initial fit, and found that going up a size didn’t resolve the initial tightness.
  5. The price is on the high side, but it’s worth paying the price for a well constructed pair of flats. I do a lot of walking in my Tieks to and from work and the shoes have held up and still look brand new on the outside.

Would I recommend them? Yes and no. If you have narrow ankles I would prepare for needing to do some extra breaking in. If you’re someone who typically wears new flats without issue, Tieks offer a great selection of colors with great cushioning. Happy walking!

 

 

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