Saturday, November 22, 2014

Free Printable: Thanksgiving Placemat

Hey everyone!  Thanksgiving LOOMS.  It's one of my favorite holidays--a time to laugh with my family and eat all the best foods together.  But let's be honest, it can add a teensy smidge of stress--especially if you're trying to make it special.  I was trying to figure out how I could add my mark to Thanksgiving at my Mom's this year.  After playing some Thanksgiving-themed games with friends, I knew I had my answer: a placemat we could write on.  The perfect thing to help us focus on being thankful, instead of being distracted by stuffing our faces with our favorite goodies.

Not that I'm dissing the goodies, my friends!  In fact, I was pretty tempted to cook a full course Thanksgiving Feast so I could photograph it with the placemat.

Someday, once I learn to cook a turkey like an actual grownup, I'm going to bust a move like that.

Here's a close-up of the game: Thankfulgories (You know, like Scattergories)!  Everyone tries to think of 10 things they are thankful for that start with the letter "M."  Then, one by one, family members read their list.  Any duplicates get crossed off, and the person with the most blessings listed at the end WINS!!

On the other side, I have listed questions to take turns answering--things like, "What do you appreciate most about the person sitting at your left?" and "Describe something that happened this past week that you are grateful for, and tell us why."

Mostly, I can't wait to see my grumpy uncles' faces when I tell them they have to play along.  It's going to be GREAT!!

Oh, and the back is blank--perfect for the kids to draw the things THEY are thankful for!

You can download the Placemat HERE.

I took the file to a local print shop and had it printed on 11 x 17 cardstock.  Cheap, easy, love it!

As always, I would love, love, LOVE to hear how it goes if you use these!! Drop me a line in the comments, or upload a picture on our Facebook Page

And tell me, please: what Thanksgiving traditions do you have in your family?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Operation Organization: My Craft Space

Dear friends,

We are about to get up close and personal.  Those of you with weak stomachs for disorganization may need to avert your eyes.  I am about to share one of my MANY greatest weaknesses:

I am prone to clutter.

There are other, not so nice ways of saying this, but I prefer not to think of myself as a slob or a messy! Really, I don't know what happens, but it's not very long after I clean my craft space that it looks like this:

The leftovers from former craft projects pile up around my computer and start to take over my husband's space too.  I'm sure the poor dear often feels he's being eaten alive!  The pictures simply cannot communicate the feeling of utter chaos that I start to feel in my space.  It's just sad, because that is not how I want to feel in my creative space!

I want to feel Inspired.   Empowered.   Free.

As I get to know myself better, I have realized that it is my perfectionism that causes most of my problems (say WHAT?!?  Perfectionism can make you messy?!?).  In this case, I become overwhelmed trying to tidy a space when I have to decide, as I go, where to put things.  If everything had a place, I wouldn't fizzle out trying to clear up.  But I am reluctant to jump in and organize an area until I have a plan for the ENTIRE room.  WHAT IF I DO IT WRONG AND HATE IT LATER?!?

But I have four kids who keep me crazy busy, and a mild case of ADHD which keeps me from focusing on any one project for very long, so a full blown plan for any part of my house has yet to happen.  If I want to keep my sanity, I'm going to have to let go of my desire for a perfect plan, and get moving. 

Before my clutter starts eating family members.

I will be researching Pinterest-y ways to organize my various supplies.

Because piling it on my kids' train table isn't working...  for some reason...

I will be adding shelves, drawers, and more counter space one piece at a time (I love you, Ikea!) and slowly but surely making enough places to put my ever growing craft supply (I love you, Pick Your Plum!) and turning this chaos into order.

Will you join me, my friends?  Will you lend me the strength of your listening hearts?  Because if I know you are waiting to watch my journey, I will push myself further.  It's going to be grand--a joyful rebellion against self imposed shackles--and against entropy too.

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P.s. How do you impose order on your craft supplies?

Does keeping your creative space tidy come easy, or is it a constant struggle for you, as it is for me? 

How have you been able to conquer your inner perfectionist?

Tell me all of it in the comments below.  I need your help!!

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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


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

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:


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!

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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Monday, June 30, 2014

Top Ten Reasons Being A Newborn Is Horribly Difficult


Hi!  I'm new here.  At first glance, you would think I have the easiest life in the world: My every whim is seen to by willing, even eager slaves parents, I eat when I want, sleep when I want, and even receive praise for bodily functions usually discouraged in polite company.

But don't be fooled.  My life is far more difficult than it appears! Don't believe me?  Check out my list:

10. If I don't get my 20 hours of sleep, I get C.R.A.N.K.Y. don't even go there.

9. Speaking of which, these people keep odd hours. They sleep during the night time and don't eat nearly often enough. For some reason, they seem to expect me to adjust to THEIR schedule. They even get a bit grumpy when I refuse to conform...

8. What would be a tiny gas bubble for you is bigger than my whole stomach... So yeah, I think that's enough said.

7. Actually, no. That deserves a little more discussion. Can you even imagine the amount of discomfort that kind of flatulence can cause???

6. Imagine expressing the desire to go outside, only to be carried up the stairs, down the hall, and dumped in one's bed? Frustrating doesn't begin to cover it.  I just wish I could move by myself!

5. Trying to have a conversation or express a simple need is very frustrating when my only mode of communication is to cry.  Obviously, I have different types: I scream when I hurt, I wail when I need a clean bottom, I fuss when I am hungry and I whimper when my brothers get all up in my face.  It doesn't matter though, none of these people are very great at interpreting my signals...

4. My head is half my body weight. As fun as being a bobble head looks, it isn't. So stop laughing already.

3. I have these strange appendages that keep whacking me in the head no matter how desperately I try to control them. They invariably attack most ferociously at mealtime. My own body coming between me and my dinner? The humanity!

2. Pretty sure I know much more than these crazies who call themselves my parents. They tell me this will continue until I grow old enough to have my own, and suddenly, all bets are off... But I'm not buying.

1. I'm a grown up spirit squashed into teeny tiny quarters (Seriously. Have you seen my itsy toes?!?). It is nearly impossible to contain this much awesome, folks!!

Photo Credits: Davison Photography

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Monday, June 16, 2014

One Lucky Pickle is TWO Years Old! (Giveaways CLOSED!)

Boy have we learned a lot about ourselves and about blogging in the past two years.  It feels like only yesterday that we were giggling on the phone together, trying to decide what to call our new blog!  Since then we have added three children to our families (one each!!), Lauren moved twice, and we have written over a hundred posts. 

And this is what we have been up to most recently:

Setting up a huge birthday giveaway for our most fabulous Pickle readers!  We are tickled that YOU are here with us!  Every comment, e-mail, like, share, and pin that you send our way still makes us giddy.  We want to say thanks, so we've partnered with some of our favorite online shops to get some goodies into your hands!!

First up, a set of 3 prints from Sea What I Sea Designs.  Click on the picture for more details and to enter the giveaway!

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Next we have a hand knit monster of your choice from our very own Lauren at All Stuft Up.  Click on the picture for more details and to enter the giveaway.

Check out this gift basket filled with Younique Cosmetics (including the magical mascara that Jamie reviewed) from Crystal Chidester. Click on the image for more details and to enter the giveaway.

And finally, we have a Disney's Brave inspired necklace from Fandom Treasures!  Click on the picture for more details and to enter the giveaway.

Thanks to these awesome partners for some seriously nifty loot!  And a super big thank you to our One Lucky Pickle readers--you are the reason we do what we do.  I hope you win!

All of the giveaways start now (what are you waiting for?!?) and end Friday June 20th at 11:59 p.m. MST. They are open to all U.S. residents at least 18 years of age.  We will announce the winner on Saturday, so check back then!

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