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A Wannabe Fashionista Rocks Some Fur November 12, 2011

Filed under: DIY,Fashion — Erin Heisler @ 4:44 pm
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Being a wannabe fashionista in Minnesota can have its complications. One of these is COLD WEATHER.  I always struggle with neglecting my pumps during the harsh Minnesota cold and have sought a way to rock them through feet of snow. Inspired by Rachel Zoe’s love of fur and my new-found appreciation for boot-covers–I came upon a fun solution. These amazing fur leg warmers allow a fashionista to rock her favorite stilettos and stay warm during the harshest of weather.

While working on my Halloween costume, my friend’s theater-connected mother explained how to make boot covers. These are basically like leg warmers, but with buttons.  I absolutely loved rocking my teal, felt boot covers and wanted to keep that feeling throughout the winter. This desire was made fabulously possible by adding fur to the equation.

To make the boot covers you will need:

1/2 yard faux fur

12 buttons (I used the type that are sewn through a hole in the back vs. sewn through holes in the center of the button that are visible)

Elastic

Scissors

A sewing needle

Thread

How To:

I tend to rock my sewing projects by inspiration and concept, not necessarily through patterns. Thus this was a little bit of trial-and-error.

1. Put on a pair of heels. 2.  Measure the circumference of your calf (where you’d like the cuff to start), the circumference of your foot with the heels of your shoes (where you’d like the cuff to end), and the length between these two points. 3. Using these measurements draw a pattern that adds about two inches to the circumferences you measured.  Ultimately you will want a type of trapezoid: one side that is angled to accommodate the added width to the bottom of the cuff,  the other side, a straight line. 4. Sew six buttons, equal distance, about an inch into the side of the trapezoid that is angled. 5. Flip the opposing side over so that it lines up. 6. Lining up with the buttons, cut small slits about an inch into the edge of the straight side. 7. Try on your boot covers, wrap the fabric around your ankles with the straight (slit) side folding from front to back. 8. If the width of the calf is too wide, trim the circumference of the top on the side without buttons to ensure the fabric is tight against your legs and will stay up. 9. Cut two pieces of elastic about two inches shorter than the circumference you measured for your calf. 10. Along the inside, upper edge of the boot covers, stitch the ends of the elastic to each side of the cuff. (This should pull on the fabric a bit.) 11. Stretch out the cuff and measure where the elastic lines up with the middle of the cuff. 12. Stitch the elastic and cuff here. (This step will keep the cuff up on your calf) 13. Show off your amazing work while grabbing cocktails with some friends!

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A Wannabe Vinylphile Creates Bookends March 25, 2011

Filed under: Thrifty Nifty Crafts — Erin Heisler @ 3:13 am
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The great thing about getting into crafts is that once people know of your hobby, they bring other ideas to your attention.  One of my colleagues found these bookends online and thought I might be interested in finding a way to make them because I’d been talking about my first project–making record bowls.  I will admit, this isn’t as much of a grand slam in the utility department but it is a funky addition to your bookshelf.  These bookends can be used to hold lighter books–mainly paperbacks–or to cover up boring bookends for an added flair.

Materials

old records, two cookie sheets of different sizes, oven mitts

Helpful Hint

The words on the album label will most likely not be in the same direction on both sides of your record.  Be sure to look at the direction of the words on the side that will be showing so that you bend the record in the right place.

How To

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees–do not exceed this temperature! 2. Place your record on top of the larger cookie sheet and place in the oven. 3. Wait about two or three minutes, until the record becomes moldable. 4. Temporarily pull the cookie sheet out of the oven. (Don’t forget your oven mitts!) 5.  Look at the label on the opposite side to determine where you will make the bend. 6. From the point of the record which will bend and ‘above,’ press the smaller cookie sheet on top of the record so that you are flattening the record between the two sheets. 7.  Make a soft bend in the remaining record to define where the edge will be. 8.  Place the record back in the oven while it is being pressed between the cookie sheets. 9.  Wait another two or three minutes. 10. Pull everything out of the oven.  11. Carefully take the record out from in between the cookie sheets. 11. Place the opposite end on the larger cookie sheet. 12. Press this smaller end (which will be the bottom of the bookend) between the two sheets. 13. Simultaneously, work the bend of the record to a 90 degree angle. 14. As the record sets (this happens rather quickly), avoid making ripples and repress the edges if necessary. 15.  You now have some pizzazz to add to your growing book collection!

 

A Wannabe Vinylphile Finds A New Outlet March 20, 2011

Filed under: Thrifty Nifty Crafts — Erin Heisler @ 8:36 pm
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I have become more and more in love with vinyl over the past couple of years.  There is something about buying and listening to a record that is lost in the world of mp3s and I-Tunes.  I understand the arguments for sound quality, but owning records encompasses so much more than the music.  This may be stemming from reading Walter Benjamin’s perspective on books, but I believe you can sense the history of a record in the worn edges of its sleeve.  You can imagine the lives that have been rapt up in the record that is now in your hands…was this someone’s first LP?  Did they race home to listen to it over and over again? Does this record contain a couple’s first dance?  Were the artists seeking a revolution among the masses in their lyrics?

Along with collecting records to listen to, I’ve also sought out crafty ways to make them a part of my home decor.  I recommend recycling old records that no longer play correctly, but I will admit to melting a few of the duplicate vinyls that Nik and I had in our collection. 

The Record Bowl

Materials

record, oven safe bowl, cookie sheet, oven mitts

Helpful Hint

If you’d rather have your instructions in video format, I used this great how-to video on YouTube to get started. 

If you do not like the way the folds of your bowl turn out, stick it back in the oven and start over.  Just be careful that you aren’t baking the LPs for too long, as I do not know what kind of fumes are emitted in this process.

How To

1. To start, warm your oven up to 200 degrees.  Do not exceed this temperature. 2. Place the cookie sheet in the oven, place the bowl upside down atop the cookie sheet, then the record on top of the bowl. 3.  Leave in the oven for about 5 minutes.  You will see the record start to fold down and around the bowl–this is when it is ready. 4. Pull out the cookie sheet (Don’t forget your oven mitts!), quickly take the record off of the bowl and flip the bowl right side up. 5. Stuff the record into the bowl.  6. Adjust the folds that are created to your liking. 7. Pull the record partially out of the bowl to allow the ‘record bowl’ to get a little larger while keeping its shape. 8.  Let sit until cooled.  9. Put somewhere in your house to show off as funky decor or on your desk to keep odds and ends for trendy utilization.

 

A Wannabe Thriftster Makes Crafty Coasters (Part Deux) February 21, 2011

Filed under: Thrifty Nifty Crafts — Erin Heisler @ 5:47 pm
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Maybe it’s because the idea is super fun, maybe it’s because wine is trendy, or maybe we are all a little too fond of booze, but I heard from many people that they loved the wine label coaster idea.  So…as I set out to make some wine coasters for my friend, I figured I’d update the directions with some helpful hints I discovered along the way.

Wine Label Coasters

Materials:

tiles, empty wine bottles with funky labels, cork circles, oven mit, oven, hand towel, cookie sheet, razor, Mod Podge, sponge or brush, Liquid Nails

Helpful Hint:

If any of you have attempted to remove the label off  of a bottle without any prep, like I originally did, you have most likely wound up with the ripped and tattered remains of a previously gorgeous bottle slip.  The trick to removing this sticky paper all at once is heat! I found fabulous instructions on how to do this on redwinebuzz.com.

How to:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  2. In the mean time, make sure that there is no liquid left in your bottles (I feel like this is a no-brainer, but from fear of liability issues, included it).  3. Lay your bottles on a cookie sheet, label up and place in the oven.  4. Bake the bottles for 5-7 minutes–keep an eye on them to make sure the labels don’t get burnt or bubbly.  5. Carefully take the bottles out of the oven.  6. While they are still hot, one by one, hold the bottle neck with an oven mit and rest the bottom of the bottle on the hand towel as you run a razor underneath one edge of the label.  6a. This should be easy–if it isn’t, put the bottle back in the oven for a minute or so longer.  7. When you’ve loosened about a quarter- to a half-inch of the label, use your fingers (don’t burn them!) to peel the rest of the label off slowly.  8. Repeat this removal process until you have four labels which you adore. 9. Place these labels on the tiles to see how they fit.  You want the label to wrap completely around the tile or to only cover the top.  9a. If the label is a bit over the edges, trim it!  It will save you effort in the long run. 10.  Use your sponge or brush to apply a base coat of Mod Podge to the tile.  11. Place your label on the tile. 12. Coat the entire tile and label with Mod Podge. 13. Allow the Mod Podge to dry. 14. Coat the tile about 6-7 times in this manner. 15. Glue a cork circle to the bottom of the tile so it doesn’t scratch any tables or counters (I prefer Liquid Nails for any project with cork). 16. Enjoy your finished product–possibly with a tasty glass of Pinot Noir resting on it.

 

A Wannabe Hard-Body Samples Group Fitness Classes January 29, 2011

I treat my workouts like I treat my hair–too much of the same thing, no matter how wonderful it is, must be changed.  This is how I have impulsively decided to rock a blonde-streaked bob and a radiant red coif.  This is also why I have spent one summer obsessed with biking, another with workouts On-Demand, another with lifting…you get my point.  I like working out, but I’m always searching for something new.  Armed with some work out buddies and amazing trial deals, I set out to try group fitness classes.  Each class had it’s pros and cons, but ultimately my body is very happy with the ‘pain’ I’ve put it through and begging for more.

Body Flow is a class at the Y that is great for lengthening and toning the muscles.  I found the class relaxing and stress-free from start to finish.  The instructors effortlessly moved the class from one pose to the next–moving from tai chi warm ups, to sun salutations, to core strengtheners.

Pros: You breeze through the class in a calm burn. If you’re anything like me, and forget to stretch after working out, this is a great supplement on down days.  If you’ve never done yoga before, don’t be fooled into thinking it is easy. Your muscles will be pushed beyond their comfort levels to both tone and stretch in one class.  The instructors offer variations so that both the beginner and most advanced student will be challenged.

Con: I haven’t measured it, but logic would assume you don’t burn as many calories in Body Flow as in other work outs.  It isn’t going to suffice on its own for people who are seeking a body overhaul.

Cycling is another class that the Y offers–with a completely different goal than Body Flow.  This 45-minute class is spent pedaling on stationary bikes–and WOW, is it a work out!  I should have realized what I was getting myself into when I saw all of the seasoned vets set towels down on their handlebars.  My body was dripping within 10 minutes–not because of the heat, like in Bikram, but because I was pushing myself to the extremes.  The burn felt amazing and I walked out of class proud of what I accomplished.

Pros: The instructor said that (adjusting for metabolism and effort) each person most likely burns 700-1100 calories in one class!  If anyone is looking to drop a few they could do this class on a regular basis and lose the weight quickly. I’m thinking, for myself, this may be a once a week kind of thing.  The instructor was just the right amount of crazy–he kept my friend and me entertained as we pushed through our desire to quit. At times we were even laughing at his hoots of encouragement.

Cons: There isn’t really a quantitative way to measure your growth.  You don’t track miles, calories, speed or tension…so it is all based on how hard you push yourself.  For those who thrive on seeing improvement, it may be harder to track in this class.  Also, you are ultimately sitting on a bike for 45 minutes straight.  There isn’t a lot of variation so it may lead to boredom if you don’t thrive on the burn.

Intermediate Dance is a class at Larkin Dance Studio.  You break a sweat and tone your muscles as you practice tap and jazz techniques as well as learn a few combinations to music–this is the reason why dancers are always so gorgeous! Even though the studio trains award winning dancers, they also cater to non-trained dancers like myself.   The class has varying levels of dancers and the instructor and classmates are amazingly helpful at explaining how to do things that you need improvement on.  The studio also offers a Hip Hop class that I’m dying to try at a later date.

Pros: This class is great for ex- and wannabe dancers because you can practice the moves you always wanted to learn or improve on the techniques you mastered in the past.  The class doesn’t perform so you can focus on a great workout in a fun energetic atmosphere–and because you’re dancing it doesn’t seem like work!

Con: For those with an irregular schedule, who can’t commit to a class every week, it may lead to a little guilt.  I loved the class, but felt bad when I would miss a lesson which led to needing a recap of the add-ons from the week before.  The instructor never said anything and the routines are changed every once in a while, but out of respect for those who came every week and to continue the progress of the dance routine, I felt bad skipping.

Boot Camp is a class from Success Personal Training that my friend discovered.  A class of twenty people is led by a trainer through multiple work out stations and group activities.  The stations included steps, dumbell arm lifts, jumping over obstacles, etc.  Group activities included a push up circle, squat circle, and crab walk race.  To complete the push up circle we all had to hold our bodies in the lower position of a push up as one person ran around the circle, when the person made it back to her spot we could push to the upper position for a break.  This hard core variation of Duck, Duck, Goose (or, as Minnesotans call it, Grey Duck) left everyone lying on the floor begging for the end.

Pros:  This was an amazingly fun way to weight train. The class had some students who barely worked out before and others who have obviously been training.  The group activities really push everyone to view it as a challenge they can complete together.  There is no doubt in my mind, that this will lead to results–today was day-two after my first Boot Camp and I needed to go to leave my desk to stretch out my legs at work, ha!

Cons: You can’t drop in on the class.  Because of the way the class is built, only twenty people can attend at a time.  For this reason you need to sign up in advance online.  Also, there are some down times between work outs.  While my body enjoyed these moments because it was tired, the breaks also allowed my mind to catch up and realize how much I wanted to quit.

I’m not a doctor or trainer and have no empirical or factual evidence to my claims–I’m just like most of you, armed with my thoughts and opinions, and searching for ways to keep in shape and get my body ready for the swimsuit season.  Trying these classes was a blast, and I plan to attend all of them again in the future.  Sampling a little bit of each one may be just what my body needs to stay excited about the next workout and the results it will bring.

 

A Wannabe Minnesotan Learns How to Skate January 20, 2011

Filed under: Local Fun,Working up a Sweat — Erin Heisler @ 1:00 am
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I love the winter! I am awestruck after each snowfall–everything is glistening with a sparkling, fresh coat of snow; the branches of the trees are bowing to the ground, challenging just one more flake to fall that will exceed their strength; and the world seems to be calm and at peace.  As a child in Wisconsin, I looked forward to the winter for sledding, building snow forts and snowboarding–but never skating.  It’s not that skating wasn’t popular in Wausau, our high school hockey team made it to State many times, I just never paid much attention to it.

Now, I live in Minnesota–the self-proclaimed STATE OF HOCKEY.  Not that I would want to, but there is no avoiding hockey, the Wild or the thousands of children running around wanting to be the next Mikko Koivu.  So, this week I decided it was about time that I learned my way around the rink.

After picking up my first pair of hockey skates, I went over to a nearby public rink for some ice time with Nik’s nieces and nephews.  I have skated on figure skates a handful of times and have been learning to rollerblade so I didn’t expect to completely make a fool of myself, but I expected to fall–and so did the kids.  When I first got on the ice, I was doing fine, but the little ones were chanting “Fall Erin, Fall Erin.”  They thought it would be funny, and honestly, I found it humorous when they would push on me and just slide away from my body because I am at least 3x their weight.

We had a blast playing tag and chasing each other and pucks around the ice.  The eldest, who started hockey this year, was already able to skate circles around me–she really knows how to skate.  I mainly practiced feeling comfortable moving forward and backward on the ice at a reasonable speed.  No frills, no tricks, just the basics.  Though, I did a few accidental pirouettes with my arms flailing as I tried to change direction.  I had a hard time catching the older kids on the ice, but it was still great family fun.  If for no other reason, this is why I needed to learn to skate.

On Saturday, I went to my friend’s place to do some skating on the pond behind her parent’s place.  This was a completely different ballgame.  Most of my friends have skated throughout their lives–one playing hockey at Ohio State.   Watching them skate looked like a routine–I imagined their skates cutting intricate artwork into the ice as they glided across their canvas.

Then I entered the scene, as usual, lacking in grace. My friends were wonderful to another one of our friends that is a beginner and me.  They tried to explain to us how to do things and encouraged us as we practiced.  I worked on my cross-overs, making multitudes of figure eights so that I could improve both sides.  I also tried to get my hockey stop down.  Skating to the snow bank, I felt my mind subconsciously tell my body to slow down so that I wouldn’t crash, then each time I turned my hips to stop, I flew forward and submerged my hands (and more) in snow.  But…this practice did help, and eventually I felt like I could pull of a hockey stop one out of every five tries.

The night was full of fun and embarrassing moments.  My hardest fall occurred when I wasn’t even skating.  I was talking with friends and turned my body to trip over an invisible object in front of my toe.  As I lay on the ice, suddenly aware of the awkward flop I had just performed, I realized I would hurt in the morning.  But it wasn’t all painful…my friend taught me the basics of stick-handling (after I inquired how to ‘dribble’) and I really began to feel like I could get the hang of skating with more time outdoors.  All-in-all, after a week of fun, this wannabe thinks she might have what it takes to become a Minnesotan.

 

A Wannabe Aries Contemplates Her Sign January 15, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Erin Heisler @ 4:57 am
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I would not categorize myself as a left brain thinker. It’s not that I am bad at math and science—they just never really interested me.  Give me a lesson on human interactions, the psychosis behind a person’s actions or the interpretation and creation of a history and I am enthralled. Give me a lesson about pumping numbers into equations to get answers and I want to slowly pull on my hang nail like Natalie Portman in Black Swan.

This is why Astronomy surprised me.  I took the class on a whim to fulfill one of my science requirements for my bachelor’s degree.  In comparison to the other science courses that were available, it was the subject that I knew the least about.  I heard warnings of the use of physics and the amount of work needed from previous students, but everyone stated it was worth it—and they were right!

Professor Theo Koupelis at the UW-Marathon County was a wonderful teacher.  He kept his students rapt in lecture with theories, physics and calculations. I was astounded by the revelation that Jupiter helps protect the Earth from debris in the universe, forced to question the existence of god and the frailty of human kind when learning about solar flares, and distraught when we discovered what our true signs were after adjusting for the wobble of the Earth’s axis.

This revelation, however many centuries old, threw me for a loop.  It is not that I live by my horoscope or have a ram tattooed on my body, but being an Aries was a part of my understood identity.  Aries are strong, ambitious, entrepreneurs.  But I was a Pisces.

This disturbing concept had been blocked from my memory for quite a few years, but when news broke about the changing of signs this week I decided to take another look.  Regardless of debates about whether or not people accept the change of the zodiac signs, I figured it was worth comparing my ‘new’ and ‘old’ identifiers.  I found the below personality descriptions  on buzzle.com (further down are the 12 old signs if any of you would like to compare your identities):

Pisces: They are sensitive and sympathetic. They are kind and helpful. They can go out of their way to help their dear ones. This makes them excellent friends. Opinions of others can easily influence them due to which they can easily get carried away. They are not very determined or courageous. They are often vague in thinking and behavior. But their idealism is their true differentiator.

Aries: People falling under this sign are adventurous. They are generally self-willed and courageous. They may be seen as short-tempered individuals. They are often clever and confident. On some occasions they act impatiently. Their impulsiveness and quick temper can be their potential enemies. If they overcome these weaknesses, they can achieve success in life, owing to their confidence and clarity in thinking.

I believe that if I read these descriptions to those close to me and asked them which best described me, they would pick Aries.  I am a go-getter, I will take risks, I crave adrenaline… and however disappointing to admit, I have a hot temper.  It could be argued I am sensitive and caring, but I do not think these are the dominant traits of my personality.  So is this a case of predetermination, an argument for the accuracy of the zodiac or mere coincidence.  At the risk of being too obtuse, is the changing of my sign a sign that I should make changes to my personality. Nah, but maybe I should focus on embodying the good in both signs. 

This blog is a key example of my focus on many things Aries–adrenaline seeking, trying new things, being impulsive… Maybe, this is a reminder that I have other goals too–I must not forget the humanitarian desires I have or my want to do better for others.  I cannot let my impulsiveness get in the way of the nurturing and empathetic side that is oh-so important in life.  Maybe this Wannabe Aries should consider being a Wannabe Pisces.

Taurus: Those belonging to this sign are romantics. Their love for style and beauty is apparent in their way of living. They are warm at heart and prefer being secure in life. As friends, they are trustworthy and helpful. But they can be possessive about everything they have. This may translate to selfishness and greed. If on guard about these negativities, a Taurus can make a good company and an excellent friend.

Gemini: People belonging to this sign are versatile and quick-witted. They are spontaneous in communication. They come across as intelligent people. Their love towards life is evident from their living! But they tend to worry too much on certain issues and fail in managing their stress. They form opinions pretty quickly and sometimes appear to look superficially at life.

Cancer: Those falling under this zodiac sign form the sentimental lot. They are of a loving and a caring nature. They are cautious in their actions. They are very protective towards their loved ones. This nature makes them excellent and caring parents. Cancers often have an imaginative and artistic side to their life. They are subject to varying moods. Their overly emotional nature needs to be worked on. On the whole, they are good human beings.

Leo: Leos are generous and open-minded. They are quite caring in nature. They possess a dominating nature coupled with a knack of taking everyone along. This combination of traits makes them true leaders. They may be egoistic and bossy. They tend to easily lose their temper. They are both open-minded and openhanded and show deep love for magnificence and luxury. Leos are real kings!

Virgo: They are very analytical. They tend to think overly on any given subject and base their conclusions on a long thought process and deep analysis. They have unidirectional talents. They are absolute purists. Their overcritical nature can become a cause of their troubles but otherwise they are intelligent and good decision-makers.

Libra: Their romantic nature is coupled with serenity. They are balanced in nature and know how to keep their cool at all occasions. At times, they find it difficult to express themselves. Though they appear aloof, they are attached to their near ones. They tend to get influenced by the views of others. It makes them indecisive. Apart from these lacunae, they are on the whole reasonable and thoughtful.

Scorpio: Scorpios are passionate individuals with a magnetic personality. They are forceful about going by their opinions. They have clarity of thought and expression. Due to their possessive nature, they become jealous quite easily. They are clever and courageous. They can be resentful and obsessive. They seek to take revenge of the wrongdoers. So be careful while dealing with Scorpios.

Sagittarius: They are intelligent and philosophical. They know how to lighten up any atmosphere. They are fun-loving in nature. Sometimes their excessive optimism makes them behave carelessly. Their moods and whims can be bothersome but on the whole, they are intelligent people with a good sense of humor.

Capricorn: They are prudent and practical. Their ambitious nature does not allow them to ever give up. They are vigilant. They plan before playing any game of life. They may come across as sadistic individuals who are orthodox and rigid. Perseverance and tolerance are their greatest qualities. They are generally upfront in fighting whatever comes in their way.

Aquarius: They are among the intelligent in the crowd. A sense of humor, coupled with great intelligence and deep thinking make them stand out. They make loyal and honest friends. They are independent thinkers with great originality in their thoughts and actions. They may appear indifferent and less emotional. If you have an Aquarian around you, you may find it difficult to understand him/her.