Stuff We Love: Cleaning: Fran’s Picks

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Back when I used to work as a purchaser in the natural products industry, one of the categories I bought was cleaning products.  I learned a lot about natural cleaning products, and got to try out many different brands because vendors would send me samples.  I got on the natural cleaning bandwagon a long time ago, so I have some years of housecleaning experience with natural products.  And, because I hate having a bunch of extraneous stuff lying around, I’ve tried to streamline my cleaning products to the minimum. Here are some of my favorites:

Bon Ami Powder Cleanser.


A formula of plant-based cleaning agents and soft abrasive minerals, this is what I use for scrubbing sinks, toilets, tubs, and tile.  The ingredients are all natural and contain no perfumes, dyes, or anything toxic.  The Bon Ami company started in 1886, and has been making exceptional cleaning products ever since. 

Method Antibac Wipes


These do whatever the Bon Ami powder won’t, and utilize plant-based essential oils to do it.  I’m no germophobe; as far as I’m concerned, if it looks, feels, and smells clean then it’s clean enough for me (plus I’m a bit wary excessive disinfecting.  I think we live in a world filled with micro-organisms, both helpful and harmful.  But that’s a whole other topic.) But in certain places, I want to keep the bad germs to a minimum — like the bathroom and around the kitchen sink. And wherever else I occasionally need a quick swipe. For me, the con about the Method products is that they are owned

Citradish

This is a natural dish soap that works.  There are other natural brands that work, but I’m particularly fond of this one.  Most especially in the lavender bergamot scent.  Lavender is my favorite-favorite-favorite fragrance, and to have natural lavender-scented dish soap makes doing dishes that much more pleasant for me. Plus, I used to work with the vendor, and they are very nice folks.

Ecover Automatic Dishwashing Powder

This is what I used to use in my dishwasher, and I liked it alot.  I don’t use it anymore because the Trader Joe’s brand works just as well, with, from what I can tell, the same ingredients.  I have a hunch that Ecover does their private labeling for them, but I can’t prove it.

Ecos Laundry Detergent


My criteria for laundry soap are: must be all-natural, plant-based, toxin-free; must be liquid; bonus if it’s concentrated so there’s less weight to lug up the stairs. I’m not loyal to any one brand of laundry detergent because I’ve found that, for the most part, all the natural brands work about the same.  But Ecos Magnolia and Lily has essential oils that smell so lovely that I’m partial to it, and always hope it goes on sale.

Other than these, I use rubbing alcohol to clean glass, vinegar on the floors, and microfiber towels for the rare occasion when I’m actually dusting.

What are your favorite cleaning products?

-f

June 15, 2011 10:00 AM | Comments | Categories: For the Home | Tags:

3 Ways to Wear a Lace Overlay

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This month’s pick over at Everybody Everywear is lace, which is PERFECT because I’ve been planning on making this post anyway. I love lace. Remember? I already told you about how much I love lace and how exciting it is that it’s been EVERYWHERE lately. 

A while back, my dearest mom-in-law purchased an absolutely beautiful lace overlay as part of my graduation gift, and I am IN LOVE. But how are you supposed to wear it? It’s one of THOSE. You love it in the store, but when you get home, you’re not sure exactly what to do with it. 

I decided to just GO for it, and I put together three random outfits from my closet:

1. Wear it with wide leg jeans, BIG wedges and a printed, sleeveless top.

2. Wear it with leggings, boots, and a cute hat. 

3. Wear it with a strappy dress and your favorite summer shoes:

I’m interested to know how you would wear this lace overlay? Do you have a favorite style from the ones that I posted? Will you EBEW today?

- Aurelia

Lace | Everybody, Everywear

June 14, 2011 9:26 AM | Comments | Categories: Fashion, Outfit posts | Tags: ,

I Finally Found Them…

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The comfiest everyday ballet flat. 

Now, I know that most of you are in the throes of hot weather, wearing strappy dresses and sandals; but here in SF it’s foggy and chilly most days and we wear close-toe shoes.

The Adele flat by Born.  I have tried on pair after pair of ballet flats in search of a pair that are slim and chic enough to still be ballet flats, but comfortable enough for my lifestyle.  As I’ve mentioned before, I have high comfort standards.  Many of the “walking shoe” ballet flats are too chunky; for instance, the Naot Architect, while being super-comfortable, is too chunky to be called a ballet flat, in my opinion.  But these babies are sleek and low-volume, and somehow still supportive and dreamy to wear.  They have a nice cushy sole, and the leather is butter soft and doesn’t need breaking in.

I scored my pair on sale at a shoe boutique here in SF.  Mine are a nice “natural” color that is close to my skin tone (that I can’t find online); which means it goes with EVERYTHING. 

I have worn them nearly every day since I got them.  And I have walked at least two miles up and down San Francisco hills while carrying my 20-pound child on most of those days.  What, you say?  A ballet flat you can walk miles in while carrying heavy loads AND STILL LOOK STYLISH? Oh yes, my friends.

I like them so much, I’m thinking of of ordering another color; maybe red or purple.  But if you really want a workhorse pair, choose a nude color or other neutral.  The Born site has a metallic bronze that could go with everything also.

June 13, 2011 10:00 AM | Comments | Categories: Fashion | Tags: ,

Sweet Saturday: Daisy Happy

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Most of you can probably guess that I bake A LOT. But what you might not know is that I bake with a purpose. Today I got to make chocolate cupcakes for someone’s baby shower. I knew the theme was pink and orange Gerber daisies, so earlier this week, I spent the afternoon making some out of royal icing. I needed a few days for them to harden so that I could place them easily on the cupcakes. 

Wanna see?

Ooh, pretty! Gerber daisies are SO summer-timy aren’t they? I decided to add these cute picket fence liners around the cupcakes because along with the chocolate, I felt like I was looking at a cute lil’ garden. 

Pretty please with a daisy on top?

- Aurelia

June 11, 2011 11:28 AM | Comments | Categories: Cake Jubilee, Food, Sweet Saturday | Tags: , , ,

Frilling Friday 6/10/11

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Happy Friday!
It’s shaping up to be a sunny and breezy weekend here in the Bay Area, and we’re planning some Frilling outings with our friends who are coming to visit.  Wine tastings in Napa Valley, anyone?

We have some Frilling news for you! Our new site design is nearly complete, and my Graphic Designer huzz has made us something sleek and lovely.  Stay tuned for our new look sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Here are some fun things I found this week:

Remember when I said I had only ever seen one cool thing in cross-stitch?  Well, here I am, eating those words.

Jewelry pick of the week: Gold Coin necklaces from Emerson Made.

Cute skirt of the week.

We eat a lot of beans at our house.  This is my new favorite one.

An awesome gift idea.  This one is going in my (mental) idea file.

I want to go to Paris! Jordan is sponsoring a giveaway trip!

These customizable dolls by Simpli Jessi are the cutest dolls ever.  I saw them over on Bleubird; they have a pair of Mama and Papa dolls.  So adorable, I can’t stand it.

A craft project gone wrong.  It happens to the best of us.  No hard feelings.

Remember when I told you about the Charley Harper children’s book some friends gave us?  There’s Charley Harper tableware!

Did you find anything FRILLING this week? 
-f

June 10, 2011 1:53 PM | Comments | Categories: Frilling Friday | No Tags

7 Basic Sewing Essentials

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Lately, quite a few friends of mine have asked me for sewing advice. Just to get things straight, I completely consider myself a beginner. Still, I know what it’s like to be starting out and with a budget in mind. It’s easy to go to a fabric shop and feel the need to buy EVERYTHING. There’s a tool out there for it all, but what exactly do you NEED? And what can you get by without?

Here is my list of basic sewing essentials. With these few supplies, I feel like I can do most anything at my skill level without breaking the bank, but still with the efficiency proper sewing tools often provide. This list is intended for those with a sewing machine already, so I didn’t include needle, thread or fabric. 

1. Pins: DUH! Really? Do I have to explain why you need these?

2. Iron: I hope you all have an iron anyway (come on people, don’t be wrinkly). For sewing, you can’t live without this. Whether you are getting the wrinkles out of your fabric or marking your hems, you’re going to eventually need an iron.

3. FABRIC scissors. Honestly people, regular craft scissors may cut it (PUN! haha!) for a while, but life is so much easier with a good pair of fabric scissors. If you want to save money, just by a small pair like mine here. I have found that you can do everything with a small pair, but it is much more difficult to do everything with the standard, larger size. 

4. Quilter’s Ruler: You NEED this. Again, you could use a standard ruler, but the little sliders you see at the left of the ruler REALLY help guide you when you are doing your hem or any other measuring at the ironing board. Plus, these are smaller and therefore, more convenient, than a typical ruler.

5. Water Soluble Writing Utensils: Markers, Pens, Pencils, whatever. Marking on your fabric with something that will come out with water is essential if precision means anything to you. 

6. Rotary Cutter and Mat: This and the rotary mat are probably things you can live without. However, I included them because they are SO handy as you begin sewing more and more. Using these tools, it’s much easier to cut a larger portion of fabric and make bigger measurements. If you are pinching pennies or don’t have a lot of space to work with, don’t buy these first. But FYI: somewhere, someday, you will eventually cave.  

7. Seam Ripper: The fun part. Just when you’ve ALMOST finished your project, you realize you’ve made a mistake and that the seams HAVE to go. Unless you’re perfect, buy these ASAP. Unlike scissors, they are a safe way to rip out your seams faster, without risking tearing up your fabric. 

So, there you have it; my advice on basic sewing essentials. This is based on my own experience, so comment below if I’ve left anything important off the list!

- Aurelia

June 9, 2011 10:00 AM | Comments | Categories: Crafts + DIY | Tags: , , , , ,

Red Sings From Treetops

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In SPRING,
Red sings from treetops:

cheer-cheer-cheer,
each note dropping

like a cherry

into my ear
.
(from Red Sings From Treetops, by Joyce Sidman)

Our dear friends Bryan and Cory, who are inspiring to us in so many ways, but especially in regards to their literary tastes; sent us a lovely book after Baby was born. The Caldecott Honor book, _Red Sings From Treetops: A Year in Colors_, by Joyce Sidman, Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski; this is one of the most lovely children’s books I have come across.

It is a joy to read, lovely both to see and to hear – a beautiful poem about colors and seasons. Exactly the kind of language and imagery to delight children and inspire adults….

You can find a copy of this book here.  Or you can check your library.  We are huge fans of the library for a rotating selection of children’s books, but this is one you’re probably gonna want to own.

Since becoming parents we are always on the lookout for beautiful kids’ books, ones that are a mix of art, poetry, and good design.  Children’s literature can be FRILLING.

Do you have any FRILLING children’s book recommendations for us – ones that are well-written and beautifully illustrated and overall excellent examples of literature and design? Tell us in the comments!

-f

June 8, 2011 10:04 AM | Comments | Categories: Baby | Tags: , , ,

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“If you believe that you are a beautiful person inside and out, there is no look you can’t pull off.” – Jessie Arrington. 

Brilliant.  Check out this 6-minute talk she gave at TED.  And here’s the awesome design studio she co-founded.

What do you think? Are you inspired?  I am.
-f

June 7, 2011 2:07 PM | Comments | Categories: Baby Fashion | No Tags

I Won Something!

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On a blog giveaway!  It’s never happened before, in all the years I’ve been reading blogs.  It’s this Leju Aniko Ring from EcoBohemia, and I won it over on EcoMilf:

It’s carved from vegetable ivory, which is to say, the seed of a particular type of Palm tree in the Amazon rainforest.  Cool, huh?  I can’t wait to see it.  Oh, I hope it fits…

-f

June 6, 2011 10:00 AM | Comments | Categories: Fashion | Tags: , ,

Sweet Saturday: DIY Recipe: Easy Mini-Cinnamon Rolls

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My freshman year of college, my roommate and childhood friend, Amy, used to make these easy mini-cinnamon rolls for me. Every time she made them, I would be EVER so excited. First, cause I love any good sweet-treat, and second, cause I’m a sucker for miniature versions of things. Aren’t mini things just so cute and frilling? 

Luckily, Amy blessed me with the recipe when I moved out, and it hasn’t left my recipe book since. I’m telling you, it’s so simple. Check out the easy steps below: 

1. Pop open a can of biscuits, and spread them out on a flat surface. I suppose if your ambitious you could make them from scratch. Apparently I’m not ambitious. 

2. Using a glass, roll out and flatten each biscuit. 

3. Spread some butter on the biscuits. Then, sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top. 

4. Roll up each biscuit into a log shape. 

5. Slice each log into about 5 or 6 pieces. Place side by side on a baking sheet. 

6. Bake for about 15 minutes or so at 350 degrees. While baking, mix a cup of powdered sugar, 2 tbls of milk (It doesn’t matter what kind. I used coconut; it wasn’t my fave, but still good all the same.), and 1 tsp of almond or vanilla flavoring together for the glaze. 

7. Pour your glaze on top of the rolls and serve immediately. If you love nuts as much as we do, you’ll add chopped pecans for extra FRILLS. Either way, you’ll really enjoy this fun and easy treat. Thanks Amy!

- Aurelia

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fran & aurelia

Fran likes knitting, cooking, reading design blogs, curating her home, and wearing chunky jewelry.

Aurelia likes baking, fashion, hosting lovely dinner parties, and laughing at clever and witty things.

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