You can also find used skates at some skate shops and sports shops. Also check bulletin boards at the rink. Don’t buy the first cheap skate you see.
What to avoid: anything with heavy creases at the ankle, a sign that the boot is broken down and won’t support you; rough patches inside the boot, which can lead to blisters; and rusty or nicked blades.
Be sure you consider only boots and blades that fit your level of skating. Do not buy a boot for a more advanced level, just because you can get a deal. More advanced boots are stiff to support jumps. You do not want super stiff boots if you are a beginner. New skates for advanced skaters are too stiff for beginners. The toe pick is also too big for beginners. Used skates can be less stiff, but the toe pick stays the same . . . still too big for beginners.
You take a risk when you buy used skates online because there is no way to test how broken down the leather is. That being said, I bought my daughter’s third pair (pictured here) used from a shop in New York without trying them on (we live in Southern California). They were the same brand and model as at our shop but half the price. I think I paid about $110, whereas the shop at the rink was charging about $250. The photo and description looked good. And I felt comfortable about the shop owner after she told me exactly how to measure my daughter’s feet and asked many questions about her skating level. She sharpened the blades and threw in a pair of soakers. The only flaw: the chrome on the lace eyelets was not as shiny as the brand new ones her friends had.
I think used skates in good condition might be just fine for a beginner if you are careful about what you buy. A beginner might even like the fact that the skates were “broken in” a bit. More advanced skaters needing stability for jumps should probably steer clear of used skates. If possible have a coach check used skates out before you buy.
With the money you save buying used skates, you could get a ZÜCA bag. This is the hot bag to have for the ice. Amazon has them in all different colors and styles. If you buy through Amazon, please use my link (I am an Amazon affiliate).
If you are a skate mom and spend a lot of time at the rink, check out the Amazon Kindle. The best way to read while your daughter skates!
Two things my daughter and I love: figure skating and crafts. But it’s hard to find craft materials with a an ice skating theme! So I am sharing my links to items that feature figure skates. Hope you find something you like. I will be adding more, so check back. Let me know if you have suggestions.
If your daughter plays soccer, you have no trouble finding her soccer-related t-shirts, hair clips, and even shoe adornments when you want to give her a gift that celebrates her sport. But if she skates on ice . . . well, have fun hunting. It is almost impossible to find any figure skating gifts at the mall, so you have to spend time surfing the web.
That’s why I am going to share the links that I find. I hope these hints save you time and help you find the perfect gift for your skater. Feel free to give me suggestions.
Tips for Finding and Affording a Competition Dress that Wows
You’ve spent hours taking your daughter to the rink and spent hundreds on skates and lessons. Now it’s time for her first competition. How do you go about buying a skating dress that won’t take forever to find . . . and won’t break your budget? Here are some tips from a skate mom to consider.
If you have more tips to share, please add in comments section below.
Even if you do not have a figure skating competition coming up, a new skate dress can inspire you to skate your best on the ice.
Age. Do not pick something too provocative for a young girl or too cutesy for an older girl.
Style. Do not pick a style based on what it looks like in a picture on a model. Some ice skating dresses work well with thin bodies and others with fuller ones. Choose a style based on what it looks like in the mirror. Remember you will be moving in the dress, so make sure it works when you bend and jump.
Size. Buy something that fits now with a little room for growth.
Color. Not everyone looks good in every shade. If you are not sure, read up on color analyzing to see what “season” the skater is.
Theme. Pick music and routine before you get the dress. Classic music requires a different style than, say, pop, rock or 60s music. Have the dress fit the theme. In the photo above, my daughter’s theme was the 60s. She skated to “These Boots are Made for Walking” by Nancy Sinatra. She is third from the left. In the photo at right, she chose another 60s song, “I Feel Good” by James Brown.
Budget. Only look at figure skating dresses you can afford.
Competition Rules. Sometimes there are competition requirements so check this out first. Never buy or make dresses with adornments that fall off easily as this is hazardous on the ice.
Timeline.Do not wait until the last minute. This is especially important if you are having the dress custom made or buying online.
Advice. Ask coaches and more advanced skaters where they get their costumes.
Where to look. First place to look is a skate shop, usually located at or near a rink. The manufacturer’s tags will have model numbers. Jot down the numbers of the best styles along with the size that fits and price. Even if you do not find the perfect competition dress, you now have information for comparison shopping at other stores or online.
Also check shops that sell dancewear.
Attend figure skating competitions as the rink often allows companies to bring merchandise to the rink and set up a rack.
Other skaters often sell their old costumes, so ask at your rink.
Choose a dress that is age-appropriate and fits well no matter how you move, as shown above. This color is great on this girl as well.
Google “figure skating dresses” or “ice skating dresses” or “competition dresses” and you will find many online stores. If you have done your research you will have a couple model numbers in mind. Check return policy and shipping time.
Ebay has hundreds of competition dresses. Check the seller’s rating as a seller, not just the overall rating. Communicate about size before you bid. Ask to see additional photos if needed. If there are crystals, make sure they are Swarovski. Make sure you have time to receive item well before the competition. Have a back-up plan in mind. We bought a dress off eBay once . . . and the seller never sent it! So always have a back-up plan.
Keep in mind: you can zazz up a plain skate dress and make it dazzling by putting on Swarvoski crystals yourself. Practice on another item as applying them properly takes a little practice. You will need to buy Hot Fix Swarovski Crystals and a hot fix applicator, found at Amazon or in better sewing stores or some craft stores.
Custom Seamstress. If money is not an object, hire a professional seamstress who specializes in skating outfits. Schedule your dress to be made well in advance of the competition. Find a seamstress by asking at the rink.
Sew it yourself only if you are a good seamstress. Be advised that figure skating costumes are usually sewn on a specail sewing machine called a Serger that allows seams that stretch. They are made from 4-way stretch material. Check to make sure it is truly 4-way stretch and not just 2-way. You can find patterns online.
Another less expensive and maybe easier option is to convert a dress, like I did with the dress above. Go to the thrift store and look for prom gowns made of 4-way stretch material. Have your daughter try it on and see if you think you can alter it. We did this a couple of times with great success. I shortened the dress made a slit in the sides, took in the seams, and added crystals. We used dance shorts for underneath. I had a beautiful custom dress for under $20! Click on any picture to see a larger version.
Note in the photo above: the theme was “Glamour” since the song was Fergie’s “Glamorous.” I altered a prom dress, used hot-fix Swarovski crystals, and had a friend do her hair to fit the theme.
Take good care of your competition dresses. After you are done you can sell them on ebay or at your rink, use them as practice dresses, or give them to a younger skater who is a friend.Please let me know if you find these tips helpful, or if you have others to share, by leaving a comment below. Good luck finding a dress that wows for less!
Text and all photos copyright by kpdesign, creativezazz.com
Commemorate your daughter’s first competition with a charm she will cherish her whole life. Finding well-made figure-skating jewelry is not easy, but I did find a few items and am sharing a link to figure skate jewelry.
A good cd case is going to come in handy if your daughter starts skating in competitions as she will need to carry her own music with her. Be sure to label all your cds with her name and her coach’s name. Always have at least 2 copies of her edited music.
Here’s another tip: Second Spin is a great place to buy used cds for music. They have really low prices and ship fast. We have used them many times. Click the link below for the latest deals at Second Spin.
I picked 1+1 because numerous people had recommended it and it had a great price. Although my host (Hostgator) also offered domain name registration, I heeded advice to register my domain name with a different company. That way if I ever want to change my host, or have a dispute with my host, it cannot hold my domain name hostage. 1+1 also has some great tools for picking a good name.
Check out different site names.
Let me know if you have comments about 1+1. I found my experience signing up easy and so far I have no problems with them.
How to Pick a Great Web Host . . . Choose Hostgator!
Before I launched creativezazz.com I did extensive research on web hosting. I ended up choosing Hostgator because they had the most good reviews (and no nightmare reviews, like several other places had), and they had a reasonable price. They also had all the features that I wanted.
This site is my first one, and I found the set up with Hostgator pretty easy. When I did have a question, they had a great forum. I have never had to call for help, but I have heard to is pretty easy to get a live person.
If you do go through Hostgator, check for coupon codes and specials, which they frequently have. Also, do not be afraid to pick one plan over another, because they will let you switch plans if you find you want a different one.
You can also register your domain name through Hostgator. I chose to register through a different company just because my research suggested this was a wise thing to do.
If you do choose Hostgator, please consider going through my link. Thanks.
Hostgator has good reviews, that’s why I chose it. It is also reasonable.
I welcome your feedback about Hostgator. So far, my experience has been good!
By the way, you can find free hosting sites. This might be a good option if you are starting a brand new website for the first time. Then once you know more what you want you can switch to Hostgator or another host. Free sites do not have all the features you will eventually want. They may not let you put up your own ads and in fact may put up their own ads. But it might be a an option just to let you get your feet wet for free. You will need to transfer all your info to the new host, however, so it might be easier in the long run just to try a low-end plan from a paid site from the start.
February is Pet Dental Health Month. The American Veterinary Dental Society estimates that 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age three!
What if you had to go without brushing your teeth for a week? What if you had to stop for a year? Unthinkable, right? Yet many pet owners neglect the dental health of their cats and dogs.
Not only does this make their breath bad and their smile yellow, it can lead to periodontal disease or gingivitis. Pets can get swollen and bleeding gums and painful cavities. I know about this personally. Once our cat, Brownie, stated losing weight. I noticed she was not eating as much as usual and wondered if she was sick. When I took her in, the veterinarian showed me that the problem was her teeth: they had gotten so bad that it hurt to eat!
Your your dog or cat may be suffering, too, but it has no way to tell you!
Poor dental care can even lead to kidney, liver, or heart disease.
Yes, it is hard to get a cat or dog to sit still and endure teeth brushing, but it can be done.
Here are some tips:
Buy pet toothpaste. Look for a pet toothpaste with enzymes. It comes in different flavors, try poultry. Pet tooth paste is safe for pets to swallow and they like the taste. Never use toothpaste made for humans, which can make a pet sick.
You can buy the toothpaste online or at a retail pet store. It should run you $5 to $6. If you buy online, look for a coupon code at check out. Open another window and do a search for the name of the online store along with the words “coupon code.” You can also try a search with the name of the store and”free shipping.” You may find a code to save you some money.
Buy a pet toothbrush. Some are specially shaped and have two sides so you can brush front and back at once. All have soft bristles. Pet toothbrushes run from $3 to $10. You can even get electric ones. You can also use just a child’s soft toothbrush. You can get those at the dollar store to save money.
If you are just starting, you may want to consider buying a kit that has both the toothpaste and the toothbrush. I have some links below to buy through Amazon.
Let your dog or cat try the taste. Massage the gums with your finger. Once the animal starts accepting or even looking forward to this new ritual, introduce a toothbrush.
Periodontal disease usually affects the upper, back teeth first and worst so make sure you cover those areas. Try to clean near the gum, just like you do when you do your own teeth.
For a cat or a small dog, hold it in your lap. For a larger dog, have a leash on.
Accept that a bit of chewing or mouthing in inevitable. Do not get frustrated and give up. It may take several weeks for the two of you to get the process down.
Do the best you can. Even if you cannot brush every tooth completely, the enzymes in the toothpaste will help clean the teeth, and some brushing is better than none. You may be able to do a btter job as you get both get used to it.
Establish a ritual, a time of day when you always do it so you do not forget. Follow up with praise and maybe even a treat. Give yourself a treat, too, so you look forward to the ritual. Do it every day.
Dental chews, rawhide, dental bones and other healthy products can help, but do not think they can replace brushing.
If your pet already has signs of periodontal disease, you will need a professional cleaning by your veterinarian. This is expensive because it requires anesthesia. Your pet may require a professional cleaning less frequently if you maintain a routine of brushing, so you save money.
Pat yourself on the back for taking good care of your pet despite your busy schedule. And enjoy a beautiful smile on your pet.
If you love pets, please pass the word on about brushing teeth. Let me know if you have other tips.
A condensed version of this article can be found on eHow.
I found a couple good pet toothbrush / toothpaste kits on Amazon and the links are below.
Everything You Need to Know About Buying Figure Skates
The time had finally come to fork out money to buy my daughter pretty white skates. She was about 8 and had been taking lessons twice a week for a year at Center Ice Arena. Using rental skates—stiff, brown and less-than-attractive—she had mastered swizels, one-foot glide, backwards crossovers, hockey stops, ballet jumps and increasingly advanced moves required to pass a test to move to the next level. All without complaint. Ice is hard when you fall. In those early months bruises testified to her perseverance. Her class dwindled as the difficulty increased. Now she was the only one left on the brown rentals. She was starting jumps and spins. She needed better skates. She had earned them.
But entering the skate shop gave me shivers, and not from the cold. I had zero knowledge of skates. I knew girls at her rink spent hundreds of dollars on a pair of skates. I did not want to get the wrong thing!
Well, Skate-girl is almost 11 now and is ready for her fifth pair of skates. We learned from each purchase we made. We paid from $5 (a lucky used bargain) to about $530. More advanced skaters pay much more. Here’s my tips for avoiding pitfalls in this expensive sport.
Know when to buy. Don’t buy until you try. Rent first. I’ve seen a lot of ads on eBay for skates worn only once or twice because the enthusiasm wore off after a couple of falls. After a year in rentals I knew my skater was committed, and I think she valued her new skates more after waiting to get them. I’ll never forget the giddiness she felt finally getting her first pair of brand new white skates.
Know where to buy. Sporting goods stores and department stores sell figure skates, but the best place to buy is a shop that specializes in figure skates. You will find more choices, better skates, and a knowledgeable salesperson. If you are lucky, your rink has such a shop. But beware: some skate shops at the rink specialize in hockey. Sales staff may have only a few figure skate models and limited knowledge of how to fit and recommend figure skates. Such a shop will be fine for a beginning pair, but you may have to go elsewhere if your daughter advances.
A good fitting technician will: ask about the skater’s weight and height; observe how she stands; measure length, width and ankles carefully; and ask about skating level. If you are not asked these questions, you need to find another fitter.
Know what to spend. Be prepared to spend $150-$250 for a entry-level set of boots and blades. You may find a deal for less, but you do not want cheapo plastic boots . . . you would be better off renting.
Know your level of skating. A more expensive skate is not better for beginners! Entry-level and recreational skaters need a boot that is more comfortable and flexible than the stiff skates made for jumpers. Beginning skates also have smaller toe picks. So don’t think you are doing your daughter any favors by buying something that is more expensive than what she needs. It is counterproductive!
Buy skates and blades as a package at first. Beginning skates come as a set with a blade already mounted (but not sharpened). As you advance you buy the boot separate from the blade so you can customize what you need. Beginners do not need (nor want) the more advanced blade, so why pay more?
Blades. When you do buy blades separately, get them slightly large. That way you can use the same blade for the next pair of boots. One blade can last through two boots if you think ahead.
Know your shoe size vs. your skate size. Shoe sizes and skate sizes are not the same thing! Each company has its own sizing system. A reputable skate shop will have rulers from all the brands they sell. For example, if you buy Riedell boots, you will be measured on a Riedell ruler. If you buy Jackson boots, you will be measured on a Jackson ruler. You can research how each company’s skates fit by visiting their website.
Online tips. If there is no good shop near you, or if you want to save money and are willing to take a bit of a risk, you can buy online. But be careful about communication and return policy. You want to buy from an online shop that converses with you by email or phone. The salesperson should ask your shoe size and have you trace around both feet on paper and then measure the drawing both in length and width. (Be sure to do both feet as one is often larger.) Give the skater’s age, skating level, height and weight. Be sure to say if feet are narrow or wide, if the arches are high or low, etc. If you buy online, be sure they do allow returns and under what conditions. You may have to pay shipping on returns.
Wear the right sock. Try the boot on with the socks you will be wearing. Most coaches recommend wearing thin socks or skate tights, not bulky socks. Regular cotton socks absorb sweat and may make feet cold. They also bunch up. You will never see them on serious skaters. Skate shops sell skate tights and skate socks, but you can also use nylons or trouser socks. Bring two pairs as you may want to try the boot with two pairs of tight-fitting socks. Some growing skaters will buy the skate a half size big to allow for growth and then wear 2 pairs or add a sole liner to start.
Try on skates properly. Once your foot is in the boot, kick the heel back firmly several times to make sure your heel is snugly against the back of the boot. Kicking the heel back is important. Make sure you lace up correctly. Start from the bottom and pull laces firmly before each crisscross. The laces should be roughly half inch apart at first but may go a bit wider and looser at top. The salesperson will help you lace up, but pay attention so you know how to do it.
Test properly. Stand and lean forward. For a child, you want to be able to wiggle a finger into the back of the boot when the skater is leaning forward. For an adult they should fit snug but not feel tight. Coaches and fitters recommend buying no more than a half size up.
Ask about heat fit. Many better boots can be “heat fit.” The shop will heat them in a special oven. You then try on the warm skates let them cool. The skates mold to your feet. We did this with my daughter’s first pair of new boots, and it worked like a charm. Do not try doing this in your oven at home. If you buy the skates at the shop, this is free. You can heat fit again later as the skater grows, but you will be charged a fee for subsequent heat-fitting.
Get waterproofing.Water is a pair of skate’s biggest enemy. Blades rust and leather rots if exposed to water. Better skates have leather soles. You can protect your investment if you have the shop waterproof them. They will charge you and it will take a couple days. They remove the blades, put on the waterproofing and let it dry, then out the blades back on. Our shop painted the skater’s name and a design on sole first, which the girls loved. It made the boots more special. I am glad we went ahead and paid extra for waterproofing. A skate-dad told me he did not know about this option when he got new skates for his daughter at a different shop. After a few months they had water damage and it was a hassle to wait until they were dried out to have it done later.
You should also periodically put Sno-Seal or similar beeswax waterproofing product on your skates.
The best price is not always the best choice. We all want a deal. But getting the correct skate and right fit is so important, it may be worth it to have a professional help you. Returns are always a hassle. You may wonder why the shop at the rink charges more than the same skate online. Good skate shops work with you for the initial fitting of the boot at no added cost.This may mean providing a sole liner, or “punching out” the leather near the ankle, or stretching the boot or heat fitting. Skate shops have special tools to fit skates. Buying skates at a shop also includes the first blade sharpening. If you buy skates online, and then take them into the shop for this work, you will pay ($10-$20 each time) for each of these services. That adds up. But no matter where you buy, it is a good idea to research skate models online before you plunk down cash. If you do buy online, many places will price match. Ask if they will throw in blade guards.
Sharpening. When you buy skates, the blades are not sharpened. Make sure you like the fit of the boot before you have the blades sharpened. Once the blades are sharpened, the return policy is usually voided. Be sure to get figure skate blades sharpened by someone who knows how to sharpen for figure skating (not hockey). Ask experienced skaters at your rink who sharpens their blades.
Break them in. You can break your skates in by wearing them around the house with the blade guards on and by skating for short sessions. If you find they still hurt after a few weeks, take them to the shop for readjustments. On my daughter’s last pair, we went back for adjustments about five times. We got the sole built up a couple times and the ankles punched out a couple times until it was right. You can also buy special blister pads or gel ankle wraps. The gel ankle sleeve was great for my daughter and worth the money. Skate shops sell these. Later we got her boots stretched for a small fee.
Take care of your skates. Every skater needs two kinds of blade protectors: hard and soft. Only put on the hard ones while walking in the skates. Never store skates with the hard plastic protectors on, or your blades will rust. I have seen blades less than a year old covered in rust because they were stored this way! After each use wipe the blades off and put on terry cloth covers on for storage. It is best to let skates air out to dry. Scratches on the leather are inevitable . . . if you want to keep your skates pretty you can buy over-the-boot tights or nylon skate covers that go over the boot. They come in a variety of colors.
Enjoy your skates.
Please let me know if you find these tips helpful or if you have additional tips to add.