DIY Burlap and Ribbon Table Runner

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I am so excited to introduce you to a new sponsor at Styled by Jess – Offray Ribbon. I’ve used their ribbon in the past (here) and love, love it! They’ve recently launched an online shop for their ribbon so you can shop for any color, size, pattern you need right online. I recently used some bright, summery Offray ribbon to make my own table runner. I always like to freshen the look of my kitchen table every season and/or holiday so I thought this Burlap and Ribbon Table Runner would be perfect for a bright summer look.

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To make your own Burlap and Ribbon Table Runner you’ll need: a roll of burlap (I found a role that was 2 feet wide and perfect to make a table runner with), very sharp scissors, glue gun, measuring tape, and ribbon – I chose 2 of different size and color/pattern to make it look more interesting.

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Start by measuring and then cutting holes into your burlap that you will weave the ribbon through. For example: the green ribbon is 1 1/2″ thick so that is the width hole I cut in the burlap. You can make the distance between holes however large you want – I like the look of a long amount of ribbon between weaves so I went with 2″. Cutting into burlap is very forgiving so don’t worry too much if you end up cutting too much on any of the holes.

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Once your cuts are made for that row of ribbon, cut a piece of ribbon to the width of your burlap, and weave through each hole.

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Use your glue gun to glue down each end so the ribbon doesn’t slip out of the holes.

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Continue cutting, weaving, and gluing until desired pattern is reached.

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And voila – an adorable, colorful handmade burlap and ribbon table runner.

Thank you to Offray for sponsoring this post! And thank you for supporting the brands that support Styled by Jess.

Fun at the Volvo Ocean Race Stopover in Newport, RI

We told my parents that we were headed to Newport, RI for mother’s day weekend and they asked if we were going to the Volvo Ocean Race. We had never heard of it so we went to their website and after a little research we decided to check the event out while we were in town. Well, it was SO fun. I hadn’t even intended on blogging about it but you know when you have exactly zero expectations about something and it turns out great and that makes it even greater? That’s sort of what happened with the Volvo Ocean Race Stopover event in Newport, RI at Fort Adams National Park.

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First, the Volvo Ocean Race is basically a group of 7 sailing teams racing around the world (actual ships are pictured above). There are 9 legs of the race with 11 ports (the only port in the US this year is Newport). In each port they set up a race village where you can learn more about the boats, the teams, and have a little fun with the activities. The village at Fort Adams in Newport, RI will be set up through May 17th so there is still time to go!

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The event is for all ages, we were pleasantly surprised to find a decent amount of fun activities for kids like this one – M sure did love “driving” this little Volvo truck through the course.

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There is an area where you get carded (children are allowed in) that was just lovely – all sorts of lounge areas set up, each one based on one of the countries where the stopovers are with coordinating games. They sell food, beer, champagne, and yummy mixed drinks. Again, we had NO expectations of this event so we ended up bringing in our own food (which you’re welcome to do) but the menu looked great (this area sold higher end food like flatbreads and fresh burgers, another food area had clam chowder and hot dogs).

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It was great to sit, eat, have a drink, and let Z play some of the games they had set up.

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Also, she was obsessed with this pirate on stilts (who was there to promote the rum sponsor)!

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Of course the event is really all about the sailing. It was neat to visit the cross-section model of one of the ships that’s racing. Once you took your shoes off you were free to roam through, see where they sleep (tiny bunk beds!), work (tiny desk!), and basically crawl around the hull to get everywhere.

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The last fun area was within the actual fort on the park. There were life size chess and checker boards, giant Jenga, and more. There was also this little bumper boat area for kids to “sail” their own boats, which was great for us since Z had been asking to ride a boat all morning. She jumped right in and zoomed around the pool, it was pretty hilarious.

The Volvo OCean Race Stopover event in Newport was really very fun. The event is free to attend and you’re welcome to drive, take a boat shuttle, ride your bike, etc… to get to Fort Adams. We drove and it was only $10 to park (next weekend will be $20 to park but free if you drive a Volvo). Next Sunday is when the ships take off for leg 7 on their way to Lisbon. Let me know if you go!

What to Wear this Summer

We’ve had summer-like temps around here lately and I have felt rather unprepared – I was out of sunscreen, my sandals were packed away, and I really felt like I had nothing to wear. I haven’t worn my “normal” summer clothes in 2 years now (I was juuuuuust post-partum last summer so my regular clothes weren’t happening just yet) so I wanted to find a couple pieces for summer to freshen up my summer wardrobe. Here are a few things I’ve found perfect to be wearing (and using) all summer long!

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1. I love a straw bag for the summer as a catch all for my stuff, kid stuff, and all the extras for summer like sunscreen and hats. This Mar y Sol Caracas tote could not be cuter! The price-tag is a bit much for me, but I have a DIY for the blog for a similar straw bag look in the near future!

2. I jumped on the romper bandwagon years ago (if you remember) and when I saw this jumpsuit with straps from Zara I knew it would be adorable dressed down with a tee for the playground or dressed up with a collared shirt and heels for dinner out. A couple notes: these look a little like a wrestler’s outfit when it’s not on you, but don’t be afraid – so. cute. on. It also runs long, I had to do a little sewing and shorten my straps but taking out like 6″ of fabric.

3. Another pair of sandals I’m dying for this summer are these paz two strap sandals from Loeffler Randall – adorable, right?

4. These cotton faille pull-on shorts from J. Crew are the best. They run a little big, but I always size up in shorts anyway, so I didn’t mind. Wear them to the beach over your suit or with a tucked in chambray for a more put together look.

5. For our birthdays in the fall my husband and I got each other new sunglasses, I opted for these Maui Jim cliff house aviators and I love them!

6. American Eagle is killing it in the summer sandal department – yes, AE! I personally love these ankle tie gladiator sandals and at $35 you can’t beat the price.

7. We are constantly setting up picnics and/or little areas for M to crawl around while we’re at the playground so I like to have a fun, bright towel with me at all times. Turkish towels are so soft and colorful like this turkish-t beach candy towel from Madewell. I love the colors together!

What are you summer must-haves?

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She’s been asking for “rainbow toes” for weeks so we finally did it and they came out so cute. Her fav is the far right in this photo – the gold at the end of the rainbow, Z’s idea! She’s so creative already…

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Non. stop. every. minute. I had forgotten (or blocked out?) how exhausting this baby stage is for all of us. ;)

#FreeToBe

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Four years ago when I was pregnant with Z I started making big decisions for her (as all parents do): figuring out how I would feed her, what diapers to buy, which onesies she’d wear, how I’d decorate her nursery, etc… It was at this point I started hearing from other moms about special laundry detergents to use to wash babies’ clothes that are free from dyes and harsh scents that could aggravate young skin. Then I realized the detergent we’d been using for years would be perfect for our babies’ skin – all free clear.

all-free-clear-1All free clear is recommended by dermatologists, allergists, and pediatricians for sensitive skin, which I didn’t even know until I was researching before I had Z – we just used all free clear because it made our clothes nice and clean and didn’t have any harsh, artificial smells.

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All free clear has a new campaign #freetobe and I was so glad they reached out to have me be a part of it because we’ve always been fans of this laundry detergent. And now we are #freetobe ourselves without worrying about our clothes or our laundry routine.

Thank you for supporting the brands that support Styled by Jess by clicking through links above.

Cross-stitch Update

It’s been over 2 months since I mentioned my new crafting hobby – cross-stitch! Not only cross-stitch but designing my own patterns and cross-stitching them. I thought it was time for an update and to give a few tips if you’ve decided to try designing patterns and cross-stitching them.

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1. When sketching out your design using graph paper is easiest where one square in the graph paper equals one square in the cross-stitch, pretty simple. When I did my practice cross-stitch design with Z I used standard graph paper for my sketch – I actually just bought the only graph paper notebook I could find at CVS (who knew graph paper was so hard to find these days?). What I didn’t take into account was that the squares of my graph paper were MUCH larger than the squares in my cross-stitch cloth (aida cloth) – standard graph paper is 4 squares across per square inch whereas the standard aida cloth is 14 squares across per square inch. No big deal other than you have to make massive drawings that turn into tiny cross-stitch projects. I found a 5 squares across per square inch notebook at Staples but you can also get much smaller squares per square inch in an engineering notebook (although that comes at a much higher cost).

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2. You use embroidery floss to cross-stitch (children of the 90s, what we used to make friendship bracelets!). Embroidery floss comes as 6 tiny strands twisted together, for your standard stitch, you’ll want to split those strands in half and stitch with just 3 strands at a time (increase to 4 for a thicker stitch, decrease to 2 or even 1 for a light stitch as I did with my necklace above).

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3. Do the quick math and properly scale the people in your cross-stitch. You’ll never get exact shapes with your cross-stitch (our heads are round and you’re stitching squares) but at least everyone’s proportions can be correct. The drawing I did of myself, once stitched onto the aida cloth seemed so out of proportion and it was. I had to go back and make my legs and torso longer which required un-sewing and resewing quite a bit. I started our family cross-stitch with my husband and adjusted all of us to his height accordingly. Learn from my mistake and do your math first!

4. The hardest part for me was getting our skin, eye, and hair colors accurate. There is a vast wall of embroidery floss at Michaels (where I bought mine) and I spent too much time agonizing over colors. I am off a bit on eye color for my husband and myself and Z’s hair is just wrong. It’s hard because I was using a family photo as a guide for outfits, etc… and I know next time to take more creative freedom in the details rather than trying to exactly replicate a photo.

I’m going to let this cross-stitch continue to flatten under a book (it has the lines from where it was stretched in the embroidery hoop) and then I’ll personalize it, frame it, and add it to the gallery wall in our living room. After this project I realize that I do prefer designing my own pattern but I think I’ll do something a little more abstract for my next project….I’ll do another update then!

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I can’t eat an apple (which I do every day) without this little guy taking it from me so he can have a few bites first.

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We brought the kids to a Disney Princesses Live Show where they performed Snow White, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast. Needless to say, she was in Heaven.

Babbo Boston and a Few Other Things

I have been off my blogging game lately, which is funny since I spent last Saturday at Blog Better Boston‘s Blog Beautiful Conference. It was great learning tips, seeing some blog friends (Christine and Noelle among others…), and meeting some new Boston Bloggers. It was a great event with topics such as taking better food photos and making your Instagram account more beautiful. But, despite an inspiring conference, baby M has been waking up before 5:30am for almost 2 weeks now and it’s like my motivation and creativity are the first things to go when I am over tired. This “up early” routine has coincided with his new found love of crawling and climbing up so I’m pretty sure he’s over eager to get at it every morning much to the chagrin of the rest of us. Anyway, I’ve been dying to write a little post on what I did after Saturday’s blog conference (which I mentioned last week) – we ate at Mario Batali’s new Babbo in the Seaport district and it. was. incredible!

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The menu is full of interesting options (almost too many, if that could ever be a complaint). Our reservation was at 4:30 so we ordered a bunch of stuff to share knowing we’d take some things home for later. A little Eggplant Caponata, pizza with prosciutto, Rigatoni Cacio e Pepe, Lentils Toscana, and more (yes more, I told you we planned on leftovers)….

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…and my favorite – this mozzarella in carozza – basically a decadent grilled cheese with a delicious dip. Heaven.

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Despite what you may think, this restaurant is great for kids. The menu is full of pizza and pasta options AND they give kids wikki sticks when you’re seated (in place of boring old crayons) which kept our Z occupied for the entire dinner.

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I can’t wait to go back! The staff was so great and welcoming of our kiddos (it doesn’t hurt to have M with us with his loud, infectious giggle) and when our Rigatoni Cacio e Pepe came out as gnocchi instead, they quickly brought us a complimentary appetizer AND knocked the pasta off the bill, which we thought was very generous. It’s hard to get a reservation at this point, especially with this rave review from the Boston Globe, but you could always head there for lunch like a friend of mine is doing. The ONLY bummer of our night was learning later that we missed Mario’s appearance at the restaurant by about 15 minutes! Maybe next time…