Stuff We Love {Sundays}

Stuff We Love {Sundays} |

If you’re anything like me, it may have finally occurred to you that next weekend is Easter. Around our house we go mostly sans candy and sweets because of Mayhem’s pesky food allergies. But we do like to find a small gift for her basket. Last week, thanks to Mayhem, I stumbled into an awesome gift idea. For you anyway. Because obviously I screwed myself by letting her play with this…

It’s this: Crayola My Virtual Fashion ShowStuff We Love {Sundays} | We LOVE this! (and yes, that’s an affiliate link)

We were gifted with a My Virtual Fashion Show kit about a month ago. Someone thought there was possibly a small person in our home that might enjoy it. Go figure Stuff We Love {Sundays} | To be honest with you, I set it on a shelf and walked away from it. A few days ago, Mayhem spotted it and brought it to me. “Can I do this, Mom?”…

So I decided to let her give it a go. I didn’t have high expectations. And I thought it might be complicated. I was wrong. (My husband will likely be very happy to see that last sentence came from my own conscience.)

You guys … this kit is all kinds of awesome! And it couldn’t be easier to use (IMHO, of course). Let me walk you through just how awesomely easy it is -

Step 1: open the package – find there is a handy carrying case, booklet with templates, colored pencils

Step 2: download My Virtual Fashion Show app (compatible with iOS and Android devices) and unlock it by scanning a little graphic in the front of the booklet

Step 3: start coloring – each 2 page spread in the booklet is an outfit (the left page is the front of the outfit and the right page is the back of the outfit)

Step 4: use the app to snap photos of the front and back of your completed outfit – this part is a little too tricky for Mayhem as you need to line up the corners of the the pages with squares in the app, but I’m sure with a little practice, she’ll have it down in no time

Step 5: see your design come to life on a virtual model

Stuff We Love {Sundays} |

I’m not going to lie to you, I was blown away by how well this works. I didn’t have high hopes that it would accurately “translate” the drawing, but it was FLAWLESS. Every little stroke from those colored pencils was there. The only minor “issue” we had was that on two separate occasions, the app told us that we were scanning the wrong template (the app recognizes which dress/outfit you’re scanning and doesn’t allow you to mismatch the front and back) even though we weren’t. I simply started over and scanned the back first and then did the front. And it worked!

After that, you can customize your model (hair style/color, skin tone, etc.) and then watch her walk the runway. As you create new designs, you’ll start seeing all of them appear in your fashion show.

Mayhem sat still for more than an hour playing with this. Which is the equivalent of a miracle. At least in our house.

This particular item gets two enthusiastic thumbs up from Mayhem. And me. And Dad (he was WAY impressed too). So basically, it gets six thumbs up from the Mayhem household. And when I found out it was less than $20 on Amazon, I thought some of you might like the heads up as well. The recommended age is 6+ on this kit, but I can tell you that our four year old loves it. She needs a little help with taking the photographs and we do of course, always supervise her when she’s using colored pencils, so we’re very comfortable allowing her to have fun with this.  

And once again, I’m sharing this because we LOVE it. We did receive this item as a gift, but I was never EVER asked to say anything about it. We just happened to pull it out of the package last week and it was an instant hit. Capisce? And now that I’ve given you an idea, got any $20 or less Easter basket ideas for me???? Pretty please Stuff We Love {Sundays} |

Stuff We Love {Sundays}

I’ve received countless comments and emails asking “So who is the bunny in the photographs? And where can I find one?” ….

Snuggle Bunny. That’s who frequently makes an appearance in photographs with Mayhem.

Stuff We Love {Sundays} |

Snuggle Bunny arrived the same day Mayhem did. My aunt brought it to the hospital and we knew it would be a winner. It was literally the softest most perfect plush I’d ever felt. From the time Mayhem was able to hold onto something, Snuggle Bunny has been there. Those are truly the most loved ears you’ll ever meet.

When Mayhem was about a year and a half old, I realized we needed a backup. Because Snuggle Bunny goes everywhere with us. EVERYWHERE. And I was terrified that something might happen to it (like leaving it on the floor in the post office or on the skywalk in downtown Cincinnati …. yes, both have happened). But Snuggle Bunny happened to be a limited edition type of a bunny (made by Kaloo) and I had no idea just how hard tracking down a backup would be. But after approximately 863 hours spent on Google, I stumbled upon a toy store that was going out of business and liquidating their inventory. And they had one. I think it’s probably the best online purchase I’ve ever made.

So now we have two Snuggle Bunnies.

Stuff We Love {Sundays} |

One is obviously a little more “loved” than the other. As in, I’ve had to stitch the ears, neck and foot to keep original Snuggle Bunny in one piece. But Snuggle Bunny 2 gets plenty of attention as well.

The original still goes with us EVERYWHERE. And gets bi-weekly baths in the washing machine. And is the most loved toy I’ve ever encountered.

So a couple weeks ago when we found out that our niece and her husband are expecting their first baby this fall, we just knew we needed to find a Snuggle Bunny to send to them. And this is what we sent them:

Stuff We Love {Sundays} | FashionByMayhem.comIt’s a Kaloo Plume Rabbit, Medium, BeigeStuff We Love {Sundays} | (yes, that’s an Amazon affiliate link). They have a few different colors to choose from, but we opted for the beige because we don’t know yet whether a little boy or girl will be joining our family. And we were just too stinkin’ excited and weren’t going to wait on that little detail to send this to them.

For the record, Kaloo offers larger and smaller sizes of these bunnies as well as other animals (like bears), but we’re pretty partial to the medium size bunnies. There’s just something about those ears that Mayhem has always loved hanging on to and rubbing on her face to fall asleep. And the size is absolutely perfect for snuggling.

So there you have it, the 411 on the bunny in the photographs Stuff We Love {Sundays} |

And for the record, this is not sponsored. Just stuff we love that we’ve received questions about and wanted to share.  Over and out.

Stuff We Love {Sundays}

Please note: Due to overwhelming response, Holly has had to put her Etsy shop on vacation to work on the orders that flooded in. Hang in there though, she does great work that’s most definitely worth the wait Stuff We Love {Sundays} |
Stuff We Love {Sundays} | FashionByMayhem.comWhen I posted this photograph on my Instagram account a few weeks ago, LOTS of you were curious where we got the Elsa hat/braid. I had comments and emails galore about this particular item.

The truth is, I’m a sucker for cute crocheted hats. And Etsy is such an enabler. I really wanted to find something unique and “Frozen” for Mayhem for Christmas and this hat popped up in an Etsy search. One look and I was in love. Mayhem fell in love when she opened it on Christmas morning too Stuff We Love {Sundays} |

So a couple weeks ago I contacted Holly who owns the Willow Hill Kids Too shop on Etsy to see if she’d be OK with me sharing a link to her shop here. (In all fairness to her, I didn’t want to overwhelm her if a whole lot of you made a mad dash to her shop all at once.) She gave me the thumbs up and I was JUST about to share the link when something else caught my eye ….

You guys….. she makes an Anna hat/braids too!

I hadn’t seen this one when I made my original purchase. Because obviously, I would have HAD to purchase both from the get go.

So I made my second purchase. And yesterday the Anna hat arrived. Mayhem flipped out when she opened it. And pretty much hasn’t taken it off in the past 24 hours.

Also, she’s finally allowing me to have a turn with the Elsa hat Stuff We Love {Sundays} |

Stuff We Love {Sundays} |

So, do you wanna build a snowman????

FYI- I’m featuring these because we love them and so many of you were wondering where we found the Elsa hat. We did indeed pay for both of our hats and they are worth every penny! Holly does awesome work and we’re just happy to share.

What We Do With The Dresses

By far, the most frequently asked question regarding our paper dresses is this: “What do you do with the dresses after she wears them?” Or some other variation like “How do you preserve the dresses?” or “Do you have a closet filled with paper dresses?”.

And the answer usually shocks most people.

After wearing them for approximately 5 minutes, Mayhem takes them off, and we tear the tape off and put every bit of the paper we can salvage back into our paper stash. And then we reuse that paper again and again and again until we no longer can. Scraps of paper we can no longer use end up at the recycling center here in our community. FYI – the Scotch brand packing tape we buy in bulk comes back off of construction paper VERY easily. With tissue paper, rather than attempting to tear the tape off, I usually cut it off to minimize the damage and maximize reusability. And a recent find is that masking tape comes off of tissue paper with relative ease if we de-construct the dress right away.

This has been the way we’ve operated from the beginning. Until recently.

This project runway replica dress was among the first that we just couldn’t bring ourselves to part with:

What We Do With The Dresses |


So we taped it up on the wall. And started a small gallery. A little bit for inspiration and a lotta bit to remind us that we can do anything we set our minds to. We currently have about 10 dresses taped to the walls of our “design studio”.

What We Do With The Dresses |

If you’ve ever visited our FAQ page, you may have seen me mention that what we’re doing really has a whole lot more to do with the time I get to spend with Mayhem, rather than wearing the dresses. And that’s the absolute truth. We spend WAY more time making them than she ever dreams of wearing them (except for all versions of Anna’s coronation dress – the kid is OBSESSED with all things Frozen and wears those until they are in SHREDS).

But we’re pretty much out of display space at this point. Unless we take Mayhem’s advice and “Let’s just get a bigger house with bigger walls!”.

Duh! Now who wants to give a four year old a mortgage? Or a job? Preferably in the reverse order What We Do With The Dresses |

So we’re back to de-constructing as we go. Or swapping out old display dresses for new ones. I’ve had a few people suggest that we should auction off some of our dresses for a cause (or multiple causes) and I’m entertaining that idea. I’m not sure how much interest there would really be, but if some good stuff could happen from what we’re doing, then that’s absolutely a train we’d like to take a ride on.

We’ll see. But for now, hopefully that clues you in to what we’ve found is the most burning question about what we do.

Gratitude, Excitement and Overwhelm

Mayhem. It’s not just a nickname for our kid anymore. It very accurately describes the past five days of our lives.

Gratitude, Excitement and Overwhelm |

First, we can’t begin to tell you how humbling it is to have so many people reaching out to us and sharing that our story of making paper dresses has either touched or inspired them in some way. The kind words have brought smiles, laughs and at times, even tears (the good kind). I’m literally still shaking my head and saying “but we’re just hanging out at home making paper dresses…”.

So thank you, to each of you who have dropped us a line, left us a comment (anywhere) or reached out in some way.

We’ve had many exciting opportunities come our way. To say our inbox runneth over is an understatement. And for that, too, we are SO grateful.

Chatting with a few friends last night, I expressed that this whole experience was exciting for about 2.4 seconds before it became overwhelming and even a bit intimidating. The kind of overwhelm which causes your body to physically shake. Nonstop. (For about 60 hours in my case.) But here’s where that gratitude comes back in … we have some of the BEST people you can imagine in our lives. Friends who dropped what they were doing to make phone calls, send emails, and jump in with both feet to help us get a handle on things. We owe a lot of people a LOT right now.

And those friends came in droves offering emotional support too. Just as important. Incredible words of encouragement and inspiration were sent our way.

I was encouraged to trust myself. Trust my intuition. To stand guard at the door of my mind. To maintain my integrity. To keep on keeping Mayhem priority number one. 

So we put the brakes on. And stopped panicking about the hundreds of emails labeled “Urgent”, “Immediate Response”, “Oscars”, “Red Carpet”, “Exclusive” and “Extremely Time Sensitive”. We stopped answering the phone. And we started asking questions like: How do we keep Mayhem safe? How do we keep this fun? How do we maintain our integrity? How do we manage all this? Do we want something else to come from this? Which opportunities could we embrace and still have the kind of family life that is important to us? So we made phone calls and put some things in place to make life a little more manageable.

And then we did the normal stuff. Grocery shopping, playing Sequence for Kids, Goldie Blox, Go Fish, dress making, coloring, hidden pictures, watching Frozen (out on iTunes already!) and puzzles just to name a few.

Many many friends have asked if Mayhem has a clue what’s going on and the answer is no and yes. No, she doesn’t really have any idea of the magnitude of what has just happened. But yes, because like all kids, she knows when something is up. She feels it when mom and dad get stressed. And she’s not a big fan of that. The other day she told me “no more email Mom, let’s just go make a dress”. And this morning as I was back at it typing away, she sat next to me and cried stating “I’m afraid you’ll never play with me again Mom”. Don’t worry, she knows better than that. While I know she’s feeling a lot of stuff from us, she’s also a pint sized master manipulator Gratitude, Excitement and Overwhelm |

We’ve passed on a lot of opportunities already. We know many of them were “time sensitive”. And since everyone wants to know, no, we’re not currently in New York. And we won’t be appearing on any morning shows live tomorrow. Don’t get us wrong, we are extremely appreciative for the offers that came in, but it just didn’t feel right yet.

So we’re here at home. Watching it snow. And expecting up to seven inches of snow in the next 24 hours means we might just be snowed in tomorrow.

Yes, we’ll be watching the Academy Awards tonight. We might even let Mayhem stay up and watch it for a while too Gratitude, Excitement and Overwhelm | I’ll let her take a look at the dresses and see what she thinks. Just like we always do. I won’t force her to make anything she doesn’t want to. And we won’t put any deadlines on making them. Because I’m pretty sure that might just suck the fun right out of this. But we’ll sit in our cozy little space and do our thing. The way we usually do it. In the place we usually do it.

Today, my friend Tricia commented  “If it begins to be too much pressure…the fun is gone! Your purpose is gone. You know that!!!”

It was the virtual hug I needed to know that this isn’t just about tonight or tomorrow. We’ve been making dresses out of paper for nearly nine months now. Just for fun. And we’re going to keep on keeping on. We hope you’ll keep on enjoying what we do.

Finally, the absolute greatest joy that we’ve had through this whole experience is to see the creations we’ve inspired. Checking out the tags #fashionbymayhem and #inspiredbymayhem on Instagram right now are mind blowing! We never in a million years would have guessed so many people would jump in and get creative with us. So keep ‘em coming! You guys are amazing and we adore seeing them Gratitude, Excitement and Overwhelm |

The (First) Vision Board Dress

The (First) Vision Board Dress |

Daydreaming about tropical vacations used to among my favorite pastimes.

Truth be told, once upon a time, I even sold travel. On the side. For a few years. It was fun.

Pre-Mayhem, we were developing the habit of vacationing in places that required we do a whole lotta nothing. Crystal clear water, white sand, and a drinks replenished before we could finish the one in hand. The all-inclusive vacation worked for us. Falling asleep on a lounge chair reading a good book during the day followed by a casual dinner and listening to the waves roll in to finish out the day seemed just about perfect.

Enter Mayhem. There was never a doubt in our minds that once we felt she was old enough, we’d pack her up and head to one of those Mexican or Caribbean resorts. Not that we had the illusion we’d be falling asleep in those lounge chairs, but playing in the sand in the sun or hanging out in the pool all day long doesn’t sound too shabby either.

Enter the food allergy diagnosis. My daydreams of heading to one of those locales came to a screeching halt.

The (First) Vision Board Dress | FashionByMayhem.comThe fear that we may not be able to effectively communicate the severity or extent of Mayhem’s allergies with staff in order to find “safe” meals for her was second only to the terrifying idea that she may need medical attention. And of course,  not being able to communicate effectively with medical personnel.

So I’d pretty much given up on the idea of that tropical vacation. For a while anyway.

But fresh off our second Disney trip, in as many years, I’ve decided it’s time to revisit the tropical vacation dreaming. (Don’t get me wrong, Disney is a fabulous vacation with kids, but it’s not what I consider relaxing.) So I pulled out a stack of Travel & Leisure magazines and started tearing out my ideal vacation images.

Which I turned into a vision board. A la a dress for Mayhem. Hey, if the kid is going to follow me around all day, at least she can bring the vision along.

This time the dream is to find a place where we can have a full kitchen, be able to fix our own meals, and feel confident about the ability to communicate (as well as the medical care available). AND still spend our days playing in the sun, sand and crystal clear water. I’ve asked around a lot. And a rental in Grand Cayman may be Mayhem’s first tropical vacation. We’ll see. But I do plan to go ahead and secure that passport for her just in case an amazing opportunity arises sooner rather than later.

The (First) Vision Board Dress |

In the meantime, this is the dress I’m making her wear everyday. You know, because vision boards are important.

Have any advice for us? We’d LOVE to hear your suggestions for family friendly tropical vacation rentals! (Preferably in a primarily English speaking locale.)


Anatomy of The Kristin Dress

If you FaceTime with Mayhem for an hour and have cute dogs who do cool tricks, Mayhem will insist upon making a dress in your honor. Just ask Kristin. Aka @lunaticatlarge.  Wait, you don’t know Kristin? You should. Journalist, conference organizer, entrepreneur, everything she touches turns to gold, first true #fashionbymayhem fan, and most importantly: friend. This is the Kristin dress:

Anatomy of The Kristin Dress | FashionByMayhem.comAnd here’s how it breaks down:

Anatomy of The Kristin Dress |

Two tone purple baby! Purple top. Purple bottom. Purple belt.

And the most perfect accessory. A cute little white dog!

Why the two tone? Glad you asked. Because Mayhem wanted to use the shiny purple wrapping paper and we didn’t have enough to make a whole dress. So we got creative. And cut the wrapping paper into construction paper sized sheets. And then, as Mayhem says “Let’s make a pattern! Shiny, not shiny, shiny, not shiny!”.

When I suggested we make the belt a different color, Mayhem raised her eyebrows and simply stated “She said she likes purple. Not silver. Not pink. Just purple, Mom.”

And with that, any and all discussion about accent colors was over.

She also insisted I needed more light on the dress when I wanted to photograph it. She made made me wait until she got a reflector out and then said, “How’s that, Mom?”.

Anatomy of The Kristin Dress |

And then she put on the dress.  And did what Mayhem does. I can’t remember exactly what she was doing/saying in this one, but all I see is her channeling her inner Celine Dion.

Anatomy of The Kristin Dress | FashionByMayhem.comSo there you have it. The Kristin dress. Mayhem has been insisting we send it to Kristin, but I’m inclined to hang it on our wall of fame …. we’ll see Anatomy of The Kristin Dress |

#inspiredbymayhem – We Want To See YOUR Creations

Excuse Mayhem for a moment while she finishes her cookie.  Because eating a chocolate chip cookie while posing in a “chocolate” dress only makes sense, right?

#inspiredbymayhem   We Want To See YOUR Creations | FashionByMayhem.comPretty much not a day goes by that we don’t receive a message from someone letting us know how much they enjoy what we’re doing and think it would be fun to try with their own kids.  Our thoughts?  Go for it!

My friend Erin suggested the hashtag #inspiredbymayhem to encourage others to join in the shenanigans.  Genius, that girl #inspiredbymayhem   We Want To See YOUR Creations |

Let’s face it, this isn’t rocket science here folks, and we’re just making it up as we go.  Some trial and error, a giant roll of packing tape and and a whole lot of fun.  And for the record, we made our first paper dress on May 23, 2013 and it looked like this:

#inspiredbymayhem   We Want To See YOUR Creations |

Growing tired of finding articles of my own clothing strewn about her room, I suggested we make a dress from paper. She was in. This was our first.

We didn’t even have packing tape then! Since that time, we’ve literally made more than a hundred paper dresses.  We’ve done simple stuff, fancy stuff, outlandish stuff, and gone right back to simple stuff.  Sure, we’ve figured out some tricks along the way and we plan to share some of those with you here in the coming days.

And if you don’t have any tissue paper, wrapping paper or construction paper laying around, no worries! Just get creative with whatever you have laying around. We’ve even used an entire roll of foam athletic tape as an outfit:

#inspiredbymayhem   We Want To See YOUR Creations |

But for now, we’ d love for you to take a shot at it and share your creations with us.  Tag your images with #inspiredbymayhem if you’re willing to let us feature them here on our site. Like @fourplusangel did ….

#inspiredbymayhem   We Want To See YOUR Creations |

A whole royal family … High five to Jessica for knocking it out of the park on her first go at this!

So hop to it peeps, let’s have some fun together #inspiredbymayhem   We Want To See YOUR Creations |

Anatomy of a Paper Project Runway Dress

To date, this is our most time consuming dress.

Anatomy of a Paper Project Runway Dress |

Image on left via Bravo TV

It took somewhere close to four hours to make.  And that time was spread over two days (attention span shortage, anyone?).  We have tabs open on our iPad showing google image search results for both “Taylor Swift dresses” and “Project Runway dresses” and Mayhem loves to scroll through them.  She stumbled across the above left image last week and immediately said “Ooooooooh, Mom! This one! This ONE!”.  To be honest, I denied the first five requests Mayhem made for this dress.  I just couldn’t wrap my brain around how it all would come together.  But if Mayhem is nothing else, she is relentless.  I truly aspire to one day be as persistent as she is.  The argument that sealed the deal was “Come on Mom, we don’t even have to make the headphones, remember Granny got me some for Christmas!” …. because clearly, the headphones would be the most difficult part Anatomy of a Paper Project Runway Dress |

So we dove in headfirst and quickly found that making “feathers” by simply tearing strips of construction paper was going to be the key to this look.  We did lots of tearing.  Lots and lots.  This was truly a 50-50 project as Mayhem did at least half of the tearing and half of the gluing.  She also insisted on making the necklace solo.  And since we get a LOT of questions about how things come together, I thought I’d share the dissected version of this dress.

Anatomy of a Paper Project Runway Dress |

As you can see there are lots of pieces.  We constructed each of the pieces independently and then taped them all on together to create our finished “dress”.  The bottom wraps around her and the areas without “feathers” overlapped (which is where we taped it together).  Next, we wrapped the top around her and taped it together in the back. We then added the “straps” which attached to the top in the front and back (with the “feathers” covering her shoulders). Next, the “sleeves” simply slipped onto her arms and stayed in place.  The collar was then taped to the backside of the top (and straps) and simply stands up on it’s own. And the final piece is, of course, the necklace that reaches her waist.

In the end, we were both thrilled with our finished project.  So much so, that it’s hanging on our “design studio” wall to serve as future inspiration.

So there you have it, the anatomy of our most time consuming dress (so far).  And quite possibly, our newest favorite!