Monday, September 29, 2014

Celebrate You Glitter Dahlia Card


I wish I had the photography skills to share this card in its true glory.  How does one photograph glitter?  Teach us how, Lauren and Jamie!!

At any rate, this was my first time playing with Silhouette's double sided adhesive and I'm in love!  I used this shape and the font is Amatic!


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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Getting My Stripe On :: DIY Striped Magazine Boxes

So.


You know when there's a giveaway that you REEEEAALLY want to win, so you jump through all the hoops and like all 700 people on instagram, facebook, pinterest, etc. etc. etc.? 
I entered one of those once.

I don't do it often, because I'm kind of a streamlining freak, and I get all OCD when my instagram feed gets all cluttered with people and companies I don't really care about. But I thought to myself, "Maybe I'll really like one of these new people/companies/brands--who knows!?" Well, I ended up un-following most after the giveaway ended, but there was one who's posts I enjoy, and I loved THESE from her site. 

Only problem?
I love navy.

That's not the problem.
The problem is that navy (and gold, for that matter) and my color scheme don't hang out all that much right now.

So I decided to hack it. I was walking around IKEA and found these magazine file boxes and knew I had to try. At 2/$5 it wasn't much of a financial risk. I picked up some cheap acrylic paint at Michael's (it was on sale for 6/$2) and some painters tape and totally winged it.

Tip: look closely when buying the file boxes. Sometimes the silver strip across the top isn't perfectly straight, and it will make your stripes look a bit crooked.


I slapped some paint on there--two coats of the coral, three of the robins egg blue.
Tip: Make sure to be slow and careful taking the tape off around the corners where the top coat of cardboard is thinner, or you'll rip it off.


Once the paint is dry, assemble. Which, basically amounts to un-flattening it and putting the corner trim on. 


 Now I just need to label them. I'm still deciding which magazines to put where. 


 I love how they turned out! They're not perfect, but they were fast, cheap, and they give me that extra pop of pattern and color that I wanted.


So tell me--what color will you try?



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Friday, September 19, 2014

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Party


We threw this birthday party for my son who is a big fan of Jake, Izzy, Cubby, Scully, and Bucky. It was very simple, but after all, a five year old doesn't care as long as he gets to eat cake and open presents!



What pirate party would be complete without a treasure hunt?  The kids swung through jungle vines, conquered the Never-Peak, slid down the Never-Falls, and collected coconuts, following instructions "from Jake himself!"  I printed up some treasure maps from the Handmade Home and placed them before each activity. Notice the low-key "coconuts" and the buckets we threw them in.  If you wanted to dress things up, you could cover the buckets with wrapping or butcher paper.  Make sure you say "Oh coconuts!" Cubby-style if you miss the buckets!!


I thought the final treasure was rather clever: the kids got to decorate their own treasure chests and fill them with gold (chocolate) coins and ring pops!!  They had a blast gluing jewels on and covering everything with markers.



They did turn out rather marvelously, don't you think?

If you'd like to play along at home, I've uploaded the Silhouette files:
Box Bottom
Box Top
Simply cut them out attach the top pieces with gold or silver brads--very piratey indeed!


We ate "X Marks the Spot Rice Crispy Treats, Pirates Treasure (popcorn, chocolate and M&Ms), "Scully Want Some Cheese and Crackers" and Jello and orange slice sailboats.


And of course, the exquisite Jake cake!  Perfect it is not, all I cared about as a kid were the plastic characters on top.  Check and check, my friends!  Add to that the delicious chocolate frosting covered rice crispy ship and island?  This was quite tasty!  I have to shout out to my friend who shared her Jake cake on Facebook--she was actually the inspiration for this whole party!

I've made you a Bucky sail, if you would like to build your own Jake cake. It is slightly different than what I have--it has a Happy Birthday medallion on it!
Bucky Sail Download

What other games or food would you have at a Pirate Party?  Do tell!

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Free Printable: Lunch Box Love Notes

It's that time again, and we are up to our necks in the back to school frenzy!  New teachers, new schedules, and blessedly, a return to routine.  I'm hoping one of these days I'll be able to keep up with it all...

Last year, I started sending little love notes in my oldest's lunch box.  At one point he told me how "embarrassing" it was, but I didn't stop because I kind of like to annoy him...When I volunteered in his classroom, I started leaving them at his desk as well.  His teacher let me know how much he loved them, and when he brought home his pencil case this summer, I found a bunch of them that he'd saved.

Can I get an Awwwwww?

Sadly, I got out of the habit of sending the lunch notes.  I was pregnant and tired and my husband started taking care of the morning routine while I...dealt with my morning sickness.

Excuses, excuses...

This year, I am determined that I will send a note every day and see how much I can "embarrass" the child.  And to make it easier, I made a few to print out.  I can fill out a couple ahead of time and if I am busy with the baby in the morning, it will be easy for the husby to slip one in the lunch box.


It occurred to me that perhaps you might like to make your littles feel special too, so feel free to snag the download and print away!

 Free Printable: Lunch Box Love Notes
Click here for the Printable
 
Click here for a borderless version of the Printable

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Saturday, August 9, 2014

All-Natural Sunburn Relief

So. 
Essential Oils. 
Everyone's doing them.

Aaaand a while back my curiosity got the better of me and I just had to try them to find out what all they hype was about. I'm ashamed to admit that they have mostly lived peacefully in the sweet little subdivided box I purchased for them.

There are one or two that I've used several times, but they were blends--designed to perform a specific purpose. No mixing or creativity required. One is designed to help boost your immune system, and the other helps with congestion.

So I've decided to experiment and bit and share my successes (hopefully no failures, right!?) here. 

My first experiment?
Sunburn relief.



We enrolled my girls in swimming lessons this year, but they didn't start until the end of July. And that may have been the first time I've worn my swimsuit this year. Nope--that's false. It was the second time. But that's beside the point. 

The point is that most of my lovely skin hadn't said hello to the summer sun yet, and I got a bit rosy after bobbing around in the pool with my mini-man while the girlies were getting their swim on. When I got home I rolled my eyes a bit, realizing that I didn't have any aloe vera in my house.

But then inspiration hit.
Essential oils!
Hey! I have some of those! Maybe one of my oils provides relief from sunburn! 

After a bit of research on the world wide web, I decided to go with this:

INGREDIENTS:

20 drops lavendar oil (for healing and soothing)
25 drops peppermint oil (for cooling and soothing)
water/fractionated coconut oil to fill a 2 ounce spray bottle
(I happened to have a pump bottle of hair spray from my airplane-friendly toiletries stash.)




And that's it! Make sure your pump bottle is clean, put in the oils, and fill with the carrier. I used fractionated coconut oil. Shake well, and spray away. I like to rub it in a bit after I spray.

It wasn't the same sort of instant cool that a bottle of aloe provides, but I felt like the soothing lasted much longer and I healed faster. Plus I always feel sticky when I use aloe, but not with this!

But get this--EVEN MY HUSBAND LIKED IT.
Say WHAT!?

This is the same husband who puts the word essential in little quotation marks with his fingers whenever he talks about them. He sunburned his feet pretty bad when we went paddle boarding last weekend, and I put some of this on his feet when we got home (to the tune of some eye rolling on the Mr.'s part), and what do you know! The next day there was no sign of it. 

The Mr. said (and I quote):
"You've made me a believer!"



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Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Happy Marriage = A Happy Home


The clock said 9:15. We had started our children's bedtime routine at 7:45, which meant we had been at it for an hour and a half. It was one of those nights where everything was a battle- from getting in and out of the bath to picking out the “right” pajamas. It had been one of "those" nights for months now. With a toddler hanging from my shoulder and a screaming 7 year old at my feet, I glanced across the room at my husband for help. He was wrestling with our teething baby, trying to keep him from biting his shoulder, all while trying to explain to our 5 year old why she couldn’t take a bowl of cereal to bed with her to “keep under her pillow until she got hungry.” His voice was full of patience, yet he spoke every word like it weighed a hundred pounds. He had ketchup on his pants, and spit up on his shirt. He looked completely drained.  He caught my eye and for a moment we just looked at each other… and I thought to myself- How did we get here?

Just yesterday we were young newlyweds, certain that the power of love could conquer anything! All you need is love! Right?! We were blissfully unaware of things like unemployment, mountains of laundry, stacks of bills, or the grief of losing a child. There were days we thought we were busy, and tired... but the true meaning of those words had yet to be discovered. 

It didn’t take long before we became acquainted with the cruel realities of life. Even the monotony of day-to-day living started to take it’s toll. There were lists to be made, things to be done, and children to take care of. The days quietly turned to years, and suddenly I found myself looking across the room at this handsome man and thinking… when was the last time I REALLY talked to him? Sigh….This man. This wonderful amazing man… do I even know him anymore?

My husband is going to school, and working full time, so our time together is extremely limited. I am the mother of 4 children under the age of 7. My children are young and dependent on me for everything. While in the trenches of motherhood it is often hard to remember that before I became a mother, I was a wife. I was a friend, a lover, and a companion. Just months after we were married, while I was still settling into my role as a spouse, we found out I was expecting. And now, here we are… four children later. I wouldn’t change the number of children we have, or our choice to have them so close together. I know that the decisions we made were right for our family. However, I had become so wrapped up in my role as a mother that I had put my relationship with my husband on the backburner without even realizing it.

That night I decided something had to change. Over the course of the last few months I have put more effort into making my relationship with my husband a priority. Implementing a few small habits brought about some big changes in our relationship, and I wanted to share them with you just incase you find yourself in the same boat we were in. 

 1.    Do the little things.
Let’s be honest, between work, kids, and an endless list of things to do, date night often gets pushed to the bottom of the list. And far too often a weekly night out is not in the budget for us. But don’t despair! We have found it’s the little things that keep our relationship alive: Hold hands when you’re at the park with the kids, send your spouse a quick text to see how their day is going, let them know you’re thinking about them. When your husband gets home from work, stop what you’re doing and give him a hug and a kiss. Cuddle on the couch when you watch a movie… In front of the kids? Really? YES. Really. Children need to know their parents love one another. I have realized that my husband and I are the strongest example to our children of what a marriage should look like. How we treat one another becomes the blueprint for how our children will learn to treat their future spouse. Raising them in a home where their mother and father clearly love and value one another will set them on the right path for how to build their own healthy relationships. So yes, do the little things- and let your children see them.


2. Be a team!
When women get together there is a tendency to start husband bashing. You all know exactly what I’m talking about and I’ve got two words for you- Stop it.

Maybe he does leave his socks on the floor, and maybe he really can’t remember to take out the trash. But guess what? No one is perfect.

How would you feel if your husband complained about your flaws in public? “Ugh, when I came home from work yesterday it looked like a tornado had blown through the house. My wife was STILL in her sweats, probably because they’re the only thing that fits her these days… she hadn’t even bothered to put on make up! The kids were screaming at the top of their lungs, and my wife hadn’t even thought about what we were going to have for dinner yet. Unbelievable! I work hard all day long, and yet THIS is what I come home to?” It’s not so funny when the tables are turned is it?

So next time your girlfriends are swapping complaints about their husbands- resist the urge to join in. Praise him when he can hear you, and praise him when he can’t. Respect him and he will do the same for you. Build him up in front of your children, “Wow, you are so lucky to have a dad who will play tea party with you!” or “Doesn’t daddy look handsome today?”  It will make him feel like the super hero he is.

Be each other’s number one fan. Support one another, even when it’s hard. When my husband told me he wanted to go back to school to get another degree I told him that if it’s what he really wants, then I’m behind him 100%... even though it means surviving long days without him, living on a tighter budget, and doing it without making him feel guilty about it. I’ve got his back, and I know he has mine.

Work together. Play together. You’re a team- so act like it!


3. Go to bed together.

This seems like such a simple thing, but for some reason it is so hard for us to do. Too often I’m up late working on the computer, or my husband is studying, and we end up dragging ourselves into bed at different times. And I’m embarrassed to say that FAR too often we let a third party interrupt our alone time. Nope, not the kiddos. I’m talking about a nasty time-sucking tyrant called TECHNOLOGY. Laying in bed with my husband playing games on the ipad, and me on my phone surfing Pinterest for new recipes, and pinning articles about how to connect with your spouse (oh the irony.) … we may as well be on separate continents.  Our new rule is to turn off all electronic devices 30 minutes before bedtime. Those 30 minutes are our time together to talk and reconnect without the constant distraction of text messages or the ensnaring appeal of the Internet.

I recently had a good talk with a friend of mine, and when I told her that my husband comes before my kids she looked at me like I was crazy. “What? Your husband is a grown man. He can take care of himself.” But here’s the thing - putting my husband first doesn’t mean my children’s needs are neglected. My responsibilities as a mother haven’t changed. My days are still filled to the brim with carpools, homework, spelling lists, skinned knees, dance recitals, sticky fingers, PB and J, and endless battles over who gets the pink cup (Would it be so hard for Ikea to make their dinnerware in ONE color?!? I'm just sayin'!) My plate is still as full as it was 6 months ago, if not fuller- but the days don’t seem as long. Why? I think it’s because I don’t feel alone in the chaos. My relationship with my husband is stronger than it’s ever been, and even when the kids are bouncing off the walls- our home feels a little more peaceful.

At first the idea of making my husband’s needs a priority stressed me out.  After all, I’ve already got an army of little people who need my love and attention. The thought of one more person who needed a slice of my time was overwhelming. But do you know what I’ve learned? Putting my husband first isn’t really a matter of how I divide my time during the day. In fact, if we were to graph it out, the kids would definitely get the bigger piece of the pie! So what’s the difference? It’s not so much about the size of the slice of pie, it’s about the quality of it. It’s not about how much time my husband and I have together- it’s about making the most of what we have. And it’s worth the effort. A happier marriage = a happier home.

So tonight, as I look across the battlefield at my husband as he rocks our baby to sleep, his shirt covered in spaghetti sauce, his hair disheveled from building a fort in the living room… I’m not looking at a man I hardly know anymore. I’m looking at my teammate, my best friend, the love of my life. And I can’t help but think he’s never looked sexier.




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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Swimmable Mermaid Tail Giveaway (CLOSED)

Oh boy do I have news for you! You're totally gonna flip!
It turns out MERMAIDS ARE REAL! Like REALLY real! As real as the load of laundry hovering ominously behind me.

You want proof? 
You can't handle the proof!!!
Okay. Yes you can.

BOOM!
Check it out! Real live mermaids!


Okay so maybe they're not real in the traditional sense of the word, but they ARE super adorable.


My girls have been obsessed with mermaids over the past 6 months, so when I saw these mermaid tails I just couldn't resist. What little girl doesn't spend hours perfecting her Little Mermaid impressions in the bathtub, or practicing Ariel's dramatic first breath as a human every time you go to the swimming pool? I know I do! I mean... did. :)


I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm totally living vicariously through my kids right now, and it feels great!


Now, let me start by saying I've done what is probably an unhealthy amount of research on all of the swimmable mermaid tails on the market. Shimmertail first caught my eye because they are a fraction of the cost of many of their competitors. Call me crazy, but I just can't bring myself to fork out hundreds of dollars on an obsession that my girls may or may not grow out of next month. I also love that the Shimmertail mermaid tails come with a swim fin. I've found that typically the fins inserts are sold separately.


HOLY COW what fun we've had with these!!! They are pretty magical. My girls have worn them to the lake, and the pool (always with life jackets on!) and every afternoon while little brother is taking his nap we pull out the wading pool and the girls have a blast splashing around, letting their imaginations take them away. I even found my oldest girl tucked in bed the other night reading the mermaid books we just bought her for her birthday... and wearing her tail! (Please excuse the crummy phone picture...it was too cute not to share)


Do you have a little girl in your life who would just FLIP over one of these mermaid tails?! Today is your LUCKY day!!! We're giving one away!!! The winner will get to choose a mermaid tail of their choice, available in size 2-10. Entering is super easy- and we'll pick a winner at 9:00 p.m. on Friday night. Good luck!


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