Discovering Oxford and searching for Alice.

I was compensated for this review. All opinions are honest and my own, as are all of my reviews. Thank you for visiting!

Just about two weeks ago my husband and I embarked on the trip of a lifetime, of our lifetimes at least. We hopped a plane or two and crossed an ocean to visit Ireland and England! Neither of us had ever been out of the country before, and got our first passports for this trip. In fact, mine arrived only 3 weeks before we were due to leave, which was cutting it a bit too close for my taste! Thankfully, it got to me in time, the kids went to spend a fun-filled week with the grandparents, and Tom and I went on a grand adventure.

One of the cities that we spent time in was Oxford, England, the city of dreaming spires. It is absolutely magnificent! The history, the architecture, and the tradition are awe-inspiring to say the least.

photo 4-9

Oxford maintains a bit of whimsy as well! Did you know that Oxford is the home of Alice? Lewis Carroll (a pen name) was Charles Dodgson, a maths lecturer at Christ Church, Oxford. His famous books, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass were stories that Charles told to the Dean of Christ Church’s daughter, Alice! Many of the locations in her adventures are based on parts of the college itself. So I went looking for Alice in Oxford and imagined where she might have wandered and played.

The first place was Christ Church Cathedral itself, which is just beautiful. Can you imagine a more beautiful setting to base story books on?

Oxford Uncommon Goods Review

The meadows across the way are populated with deer, and if you explore a bit you’ll find Addison’s walk, where C.S. Lewis liked to walk and think.

Some places were not so obviously found. On my adventure I took Alice with me everywhere I went! I wore my Alice In Wonderland literary scarf from Uncommon Goods Gifts under $50 page! It seemed like there wasn’t a place that could be more fitting to wear it. After all, Oxford is where her adventures started. The weather called for a scarf, and this was just the right thing to wear. The entire scarf is covered with text and images from the book-I love it! It was honestly just what I needed, and if my adventures had taken me elsewhere, I could have chosen from a few other literary scarves. In fact, if I were Alice, I might take a drink from that little bottle and shrink myself down so that I could play in the postcard garden found on this page (in Gifts under $25). How cute is that?

Uncommon Goods Review

Uncommon Goods Literary scarf review

There are other more obvious places to find Alice… she’s quite popular around this town. There’s a quaint little shop called Alice’s Shop where you can find just about anything Alice related, from stationary to jewelry, teapots to tea towels, and books to wall clocks. It really is a cute (very small) shop, and I would have taken a photo of the inside except that they were not permitted, so here’s a shot of me and my Alice scarf in front of Alice’s Shop.

Uncommon Goods Review

Alice's Shop Oxford

Oxford is truly an amazing town. It was hard to decide if I felt stupider by comparison or smarter by osmosis just walking through its streets. It seemed as if everyone there must be highly academic and have some grand goals for their lives. They’re in Oxford, after all! I enjoyed soaking in the sites; the bell towers, cathedrals, spires, canals, lovely old buildings, and eager young faces of the students walking or riding their bicycles past us. I wish we had allowed ourselves more time to explore.

Radcliffe Camera Oxford

Our next adventure takes us to New York City, where Uncommon Goods is based, coincidentally! They were founded in 1999 and are headquartered in Brooklyn, which we just so happen to be visiting during our stay. They’re actually based out of the historic Brooklyn Army terminal, which is so cool. They are such a unique, or should I say uncommon (lol) company, supporting and providing a platform for artists and designers to share their creative work. In fact, one of my friends just so happens to have been one of those designers who Uncommon Goods gave a chance to shine, so I know first hand that they do what they say they do. So if you find yourself in Brooklyn you might want to check in and see about touring because they offer studio tours… how fun would that be? Or just check out their website while you’re doing your holiday shopping.

We saw so much more than Oxford on our trip. I hope to get some photos of our adventures in Ireland posted too. I fell in love with Ireland, even more than I did England.

Have you traveled to Oxford or Ireland before? What is your dream vacation?

Mod Podge Rocks! Peel and Stick Stencils.

When Amy Anderson of Mod Podge Rocks fame asked if I would share about her new Mod Podge Rocks! Peel and Stick Stencils, I didn’t have to think twice. Amy is an amazing woman and an old blogging friend of mine. She is actually one of the first bloggers that I met in real life and I was taken with her fun style and creativity.

With our journey into essential oil use and the collection that I am acquiring, I needed something to keep all of those cute little bottles in. I went to Michael’s and bought one of those cheap little boxes with the gold clasp in the front. Like this…

wooden box

My DoTerra essential oil bottles fit perfectly inside the box. I have a few oils that I bought from Whole Foods before I was introduced to DoTerra. They came in bigger bottles, and they even fit just right.

Doterra essential oils at The Southern Institute ||  www.thesoutherninstitute.com

But how BORING is that box? I knew exactly what it needed! Glitter, of course! How about gold to match the little gold clasp? And how to apply the glitter? With Amy’s Mod Podge Rocks! Peel and Stick Stencils and Mod Podge Spouncer Applicators.

Peel and stick stencils take most of the human error out of stenciling. You literal just peel them off of the backing and stick them onto the surface that you want to stencil. I wasn’t sure how well it would adhere to the wooden box, seeing how porous it is, but the stencil held quite well! It would do better on a non-porous surface such as glass or plastic, but I was quite happy with how it turned out. I used the Starlite design, but you can choose from five others, including a really cool wood grain design. The spouncer makes it easy to apply the Mod Podge. Once you are finished with the stencil, just rinse it clean and allow it to dry. It’s good for up to 20 uses!

EO Box front2

The glitters are totally fun to work with. They come in a little poof bottle that you squeeze. The glitter comes out of the tiny nozzle tip, landing right where you want it to land. It cuts down on waste and mess too, which I love. I was amazed at how much glitter was in the small bottle…it’s only about 2 inches long!

EO box top

Now my precious DoTerra oils have a beautiful, sparkly home. They have become something that we use on a daily basis, so it’s nice to open a fun little box every time I reach for the oils.

EO Box front

I was given product for free to review. As always, opinions and honest and my own. Thanks for reading today!

Simple Sewing For Baby (and a giveaway!)

Simple Sewing Book Review by thesoutherninstitute.com

I have not the slightest clue how much time and work it takes to write a book, so I am over the moon excited for my friend Katie Lewis who has just published her first sewing book, Simple Sewing: 30 Fast and Easy Projects for Beginners.  If you don’t know Katie, she is the gal behind The Red Kitchen, super fun, enormously talented, and a blogging friend of mine.  If you bought the Fall 2013 Sew Fab Pattern Bundle then you have her Underpants pattern in your sewing pattern collection right now!  When Katie asked me to be a part of her book tour there was no other choice for me but to say “YES!”.  It just so happened that I had a nephew due when Katie asked me to join the tour, so I flipped right to the Baby section of Simple Sewing and chose a project.

 

What nephew doesn’t need a cozy little blanket from his auntie to snuggle with?  I’m secretly hoping that this becomes his very favorite.  You know, the one that gets dragged with him to the playground, gets peanut butter and jelly stains on it, and is tucked into bed with him every night.  This baby blanket that Katie has designed is made with flannel on one side and quilting cotton on the other, and there are so many adorable fabrics to choose from.

Simple Sewing Book Review by thesoutherninstitute.com

The projects in Simple Sewing are perfectly suited for the beginner sewist, and the great thing about them is that they are totally practical projects that you’ll love to use or give.  They are quick and easy sews which make them great gifts when you’re in a pinch for time, but want to give something special.  I wish I had this book when I was first learning to sew, but I’m glad that I have it now.  It will definitely come in handy!

Simple Sewing Book Review by thesoutherninstitute.com

Simple Sewing Book Review by thesoutherninstitute.com

My sweet little nephew has arrived since I finished the blanket!  He hasn’t exactly told me but I think he likes it.  Let’s put it this way, he didn’t cry when I wrapped him up in it and I think I see a little smile in the top photo, don’t you?

Simple Sewing Book Review by thesoutherninstitute.com

Simple Sewing Book Review by thesoutherninstitute.com

Whether you are new to sewing or have been sewing for awhile, I think you’d love this book.  Simple Sewing has so much to keep you busy, and if you have a young daughter like I do, it’s the perfect resource for her if she is wanting to learn to sew too.  There are a few places that you can buy Simple Sewing.  You can find it at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Books & Things.  You can also enter to win a copy below.  Don’t you love a good giveaway?  You can check out more Simple Sewing projects from An at Straight Grain and Jessica at Happy Together.

Thanks to Katie for having me on the tour!  I’m honored to be a small part of this journey.

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I received a free copy of Simple Sewing: 30 Fast and Easy Projects for Beginners to review for this book tour.  All opinions on the book and its contents are my own and are honest.