Friday, July 27, 2012

DYED and gone to Heaven!

 Have you seen these cute outfits people put together and then pin on Pinterest? 

Aren't they great? If you were to look at my Pinterest boards you'd think I was a pretty stylish person, but the thing is- I'm not! In reality, if you were to put me in a store and ask me to throw together a cute outfit I would have no idea what to do with myself. I really wish that every time I pinned something on Pinterest it would just magically appear in my closet but apparently it doesn't work that way.

One thing I've really been wanting are some colored jeans. I see them everywhere, and they're so fun and summery! I'm pretty sure even the fashion challenged like myself could pull them off. However I can't justify spending the $$ seeing as by next year I'm sure they'll be out of style. After doing a little research I decided to bust out my old jean collection and make my own!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Creepy Crawly Kind of Day

I have a love-hate relationship with spiders.

Okay, so it's a little heavy on the HATE end, but I do have a certain amount of respect for them. They are a little bit fascinating, when being observed safely and on purpose.

It's those moments when you don't expect them that they are abhorrent.

I had a little bit of both today.

I met up with a bunch of friends today at a local neighborhood park, and all the moms were chilin' under a giant, gorgeous tree.

You know--the ones that you can only find in the state of Washington.

Well, it turns out spiders think Washington's trees are pretty fabulous, too, and one descended gracefully, almost landing on a 2-year-old girl's head. Luckily, one of the mommas kept her head, and rather than frantically telling the child to move, grabbed the web and moved the spider itself. But she flung it to the ground--right underneath my knees.

He (She? Aren't most spiders female? Maybe??) kept a low profile for the next 20 minutes or so, until he showed up on my leg--you know, just chillin'.

Moment of panic hit, and I flicked that sucker with enough force to make the national champion of tabletop football proud--right onto the back of my dear 39-months-pregnant friend.

Another moment of panic, and the demon was removed for good.

Naturally, a whole lot of nasty spider stories followed.

Check out what I found spanning the 4-foot gap between our tree and backyard fence when I got home.

Instead of having another panic fest, I grabbed the opportunity to play with my f2.8 100mm macro lens. I didn't dare get too close, because there was a breeze, and the web was swaying about a foot in either direction. Wouldn't that be a nasty surprise--to get a spider in its web stuck on the end of your lens!


My tip for photographing spiders and webs--if you dare?
Said in a spooky Halloween voice, naturally...

Switch your lens to manual focus--the fibers of the web can be so fine that the len's focus system doesn't pick them up. If you have a ginormous spider plopped in the middle, then you are probably fine. Mine wasn't all that ginormous--but still gross, right?


Use a lens with a long focal length. I don't think I really need to elaborate on that one.

Play around with angles and aperture sizes. The depth of field (how much of the photo is in focus, and how much is blurry) can make a huge impact on your photo. The smaller your f-stop, the wider the aperture, the narrower your depth of field (lots of blurryness!).

Monday, July 23, 2012

Use Toothpaste To Clean Your Grout?

My kitchen grout is black.  It's not supposed to be--turns out it is supposed to be a light gray color.  Fortunately, I can tell my conscience that it isn't my fault--it was that way when I moved in.  But that doesn't help me get it clean, does it?

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Party Chronicles: Episode 5- Disney CARS Party!

Being that I have 3 little girls my life usually revolves around all things pink and sparkly. I don't often get the opportunity to look for bugs and roll tractors through the dirt. (Although my youngest girl somehow manages to eats dirt on a daily basis... does that count?) So the idea of throwing my nephew a CARS Drive-In Movie party was completely foreign to me, and yet I loved every minute of it. My incredibly talented sister in law, Brittany, put this party together. All I did was take the pictures. 

Do you recognize the food bar? Yeah, it's the same one I used in Addie's Splash Party. All she did was put a big vinyl sticker on its, something she found on clearance a while back and had on hand. Use what you have! 

As you scroll through these pictures take note of the INCREDIBLE cars Brittany made of cardboard boxes. I can't believe how much they look like the characters from the movie! She said it was a lot easier than she thought it would be. She also made a few simple cardboard cars as well to make sure each child had something to sit in for the drive-in movie. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Give your litte superheroes, capes!

It all started when we received a Superman Shirt as a hand-me-down.  My five-year-old expected it to be for him--most of our hand-me-downs are. When I tried to explain that it was too small, he wouldn't listen.  My son wore that shirt everywhere--sporting a cute li'l flesh belt between his shirt and pants (even without holding his arms above his head like little brother up there).  I didn't even try to tell him I thought it might be a pajama shirt.  That would have been too cruel.

Finally, enough was enough.  I couldn't let him wear that shirt anymore.  But the next step, passing the shirt down to his little brother, was going to be too much for my big boy.  I tried to approach it with tact and understanding, but still there were tears.  Suddenly I heard myself say, "I'll make you another one!  You can help me!"  He was sold. I had my work cut out for me!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Quick & Easy Notebook Makeover

Every year, the girls age 12-18 who attend my church go to Girl's Camp. It's a much anticipated venture out into "the wild" (just how "wild" depends greatly on your personal relationship with nature), full of fabulous memories, and, naturally, lots of cute goodies and gifts. 

Let me rephrase that.

LOTS of cute goodies and gifts. 

I was asked last-minute to come up with a way to decorate some 3x5 Walmart notebooks with the camp theme for this year--
"My Story Begins..."

And thus my Quick & Easy notebook makeover was born. It's a great scrap-buster, for those of you scrapbook-ers and card makers. 

Store Natural Peanut Butter Upside Down

In my house, we love ourselves some peanut butter.  It's a great way to keep our carbs and protein balanced--perfect for our problems with hypoglycemia.  But have you ever looked at your peanut butter's ingredients? It's surprising how many unreadable things can end up in there.  Not to mention readable ones like high fructose corn syrup (which sends my kids into crazy-land)!  I like to buy products with simple lists--peanuts, salt, and nothing more, thanks very much!

You may have noticed the problem with natural peanut butter though--it separates.  If you have never tried to un-separate peanut butter, you are lucky.  I always seem to get peanut oil all over the place and there's always some dry, unspreadable peanut matter left in the bottom.

But if you store your extra peanut butter upside down, when it comes time to open and stir it, life is a little easier because the oil isn't all concentrated at the top--see the line of oil above the label in my picture?  Give it a little (or a lot) of a shake to get that last bit of peanut butter below the oil and get the stirring started before you unscrew the lid.

Thank you husband's co-worker, for this little tid-bit!  Why didn't I think of it sooner?

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Party Chronicles- Episode 4: SPLASH PARTY!

I didn't make up a price list for this party for a couple of reasons. 
A) I borrowed pretty much everything I used, from the gorgeous pink umbrellas and the food bar to the wiggly water sprinkler and the slip'n'slide. 
B) A lot of the treats were made from things I pulled out of our food storage and I don't remember what I paid for them. 
C) I honestly just didn't keep track. 
Do you still love me? Can we still be friends? 
Okay thanks. :) Onto the party planning! 

Sunshine Oreos- I just dipped the Oreos in yellow chocolate and used fondant to add cute little faces
"Seaweed Skewers"- Grapes + Skewers= a darling and easy way to make sure the party guests eat something other than sugar. 
Fish Cupcakes - decorated with M&Ms and gummy fruit slices
Flip Flop Cake- my first experience with marbled fondant, and I love how it turned out. The top of the cake is covered in gold sprinkles and sugar pearls.
Watermelon Whale- this is a project my husband wanted to tackle, and I think he did an incredible job! 

Wading pool full of dollar store squirt guns and some awesome water bombs I made using sponges and zip ties (Also from the dollar store.) 
Cooler full of popsicles 
Water Bottles- Nothing more important that staying hydrated on a hot afternoon. I just printed some cute paper labels I found here and taped them to the bottles. 
"Nutty" Flip Flops- Nutter butter cookies dipped in chocolate and decorated with fondant to look like flip flops. 
Starfish Biscuits- I just whipped out my handy dandy star shaped cookie cutter and baked up some yummy biscuits. 
Slip-N-Slide- Nothing brings back awesome memories of my childhood summers like a slip-n-slide! I didn't get pictures of most of my other water toys, which is a shame. I also had a blow-up pool and a couple of fun sprinklers. 

Octopus Suckers- How cute are these? Tootsie pops, googly eyes, and colored pipe cleaner. Adorable. 
Macaroni Coral Reef- Another attempt to make sure the kids ate something of nutritional value. I just used a mini cupcake pan and my favorite baked mac and cheese recipe to make this fun bite sized version of America's favorite food. 
Caprisun- Again with the hydration! This time it's flavored! I just tossed a box of these into a clean sand pail full of ice. They disappeared FAST!
Under the Sea Candy Bar- Goldfish crackers, sour grapefruit and watermelon slices, gummy fish, gummy sharks, and Sweedish Fish. You know... cause there wasn't enough sugar already! 

And because I'm discovering how hard it is to be the hostess and the photographer at the same time- there are a few things I didn't manage to get pictures of:
*Ocean Jell-o- Blue jello with sweedish fish swimming inside
*Jellyfish Pull-apart Bread- Rhodes rolls cooked in the shape of a jellyfish and sprinkled with parmesan cheese.
*Chocolate seashells and chocolate fish- My mom had some fun chocolate molds laying around and thought - why not?! 

So, how about you? Are you planning on throwing any fun summer parties this year? If so I hope this helped get those creative juices flowing. You may be thinking, "Sure, but I don't have giant pink umbrellas and a super darling food bar just sitting around." My answer to that is- No problem! Just use what's available to you! Picnic tables and card tables will serve the same purpose as a fancy food bar, I just happened to have access to one. :) No table cloth? No biggie- just throw down an oversized beach towel and you're in business! There are so many fun things you could do at a water party. If my daughter and her friend had been a little older I would have planned some water relay games but it was pretty dang fun as it was. The adults lounged around in their beach chairs while the kids ran willy-nilly through the sprinklers. It was a picture perfect day!

Here's my final thought of the day:  
You don't need a birthday as an excuse to throw a party! 
Life is something that should be celebrated! I know it's hard to find the time. We all have lists of things to do that seem to get longer and longer every day. There are always going to be dishes in the sink, floors to scrub, and piles of laundry that reach the sky... but sometimes don't you just want to do something FUN and break out of your day to day routine just because you can? Do it! Grab your friends, and neighbors and celebrate life. It doesn't last forever. 

Soap box over.
Happy party planning! 
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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Potty Mouth

When we bought our house, it had already been sitting empty for several months. It was a short sale, and if our offer didn't go through, it was going to go into foreclosure, so the family had already moved out. We were lucky enough that the family didn't go through and punch holes in the drywall, or take all of the light fixtures with them.

BUT--the toilets had been infected with the dreaded toilet ring.

It happens, people. If a toilet is never (or rarely) flushed, The Ring is likely to plague it.

I scrubbed ours. Oh, how I scrubbed. THIS is what they looked like AFTER being scrubbed. Heck, you can even see the soap bubbles in the bottom there...

Yeah. Not much motivation to clean them, right?

After a great deal of weeping over my toilet's condition, I discovered THIS:

Within 10 minutes apiece, my toilets went from that horrific state above to this:

Okay... so nothing in life is ever actually perfect, but this is about as close as it comes!

Seriously. Here's the side-by-side:

This is how much of the stick I used to get three toilets cured of their toilet ring:

About an inch. 

I just plunged as much water out as I could before going to town--I don't think you want to submerge the pumice. My hands didn't get wet at all. I just held the other end of the stick.
But for those of you who are more squeamish about toilet water, you can check THIS out!

Pumice on a stick!

It's three times as expensive, but hey--$9 for sparkling toilets in my opinion is totally worth it!

*This is not a sponsored post. Simply an awesome discovery I wanted to share.*

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Monday, July 2, 2012

DIY Photo Gift Boxes

Parents are universally acknowledged (I am making this up) to be the hardest people in the WORLD to shop for.  If they want something, they just buy it.  When you ask them what you should get them, they say, "a hug would be nice..."

This year for my Mom's birthday, she actually mentioned that she would like more pictures of her grandchildren.  I don't want to say that sounded boring--my kids are pretty cute, after all.  But a plain ol' pile of pictures of my fam just didn't seem like a present I'd be proud of.

But a pile of photos in a pretty box--and a BOW?  Yeah, I could get behind that one.  And the best part is, it's SUPER EASY (don't read that part Mom.  I worked REALLY HARD on your present). 


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