Monday, February 3, 2014

Candy Free Valentines

For the last few years, the boys' elementary school has had a "no candy" policy regarding Valentine's Day in their classrooms - no heart shaped lollipops, no conversation hearts, and gasp, no chocolate hearts!
The purpose of this post is not to debate why candy is not allowed, it's just a tale of how I scrambled together at the last minute {procrastinators unite... tomorrow} to come up with a candy-free alternative, let's save the debates for another time.



Two years ago the boys were REALLY into Star Wars, so we made a Star Wars Lego Valentine using the free printable found here and glow in the dark bracelets that we found at the dollar store. They were a hit and super adorable!


So I kind of set the bar high the previous year, and in my usual fashion, I totally planned ahead waited until the night before the school Valentine's celebrations to figure out what the boys would hand out. We decided to hit up the dollar store and look for some inspiration, coupled with some ideas that I had already gathered on Pinterest.

We picked up some rulers - 3 for $1, and packs of adhesive mustaches 6 for $1- SCORE!!




I knew exactly what my plan was for the rulers - thank you Relocated Living! Isadora already had this figured out and she was kind enough to share her genius with the rest of us. Follow this link to her post where she shares a free download for us "last minute roses" that will make us look like Martha {Martha shops at the dollar store, right??}.

Jack picked out a few different colored pieces of card stock from my stash, we printed Isabella's free download on the card stock, cut them apart using my paper cutter, made slits for the rulers to slide into, had Jack sign his name, inserted the rulers and in the words of Amy Duncan, "Ba Bam!"



The mustaches were a bit more time consuming, and probably not something that I should have attempted at the 11th hour, but what's a mom to do when her kid is all about the mustache? It also doesn't hurt that I usually do my best work when I'm under the gun and I have no other choice.

There were some cute ideas on Pinterest that had the wording I liked, but I decided that I needed to reinvent the wheel, since I had all of this spare time on my hands...

I figured that since we were going super trendy with the mustache, we might as well milk another trend that will surely be gone soon enough - my beloved CHEVRON. Thanks be to the free download gods for this chevron download, it comes in quite a few color options, I went for red - it is Valentine's Day after all.
Now please bear with me, my memory is not what it used to be, and it's been almost a year since I made this.
Photoshop would probably a great tool, but I prefer to go the FREE route, so PicMonkey is my go to for editing photos and making printables. I'm not going to walk you through all of the boring "how to's", mostly because I can't quite remember, and partly because I'm lazy and don't feel like typing out the whole process {and there's a huge pile of laundry waiting for me to finish this post}, plus I did the work so that you don't have to - my pain, is your gain!
Long story short, here's my first free printable for you!!! Now I am new to this, just learning the ropes, so you can either right click and save the pic below or save it from Flickr by clicking here. Flickr will allow you to download it in it's original size, which will give you the best resolution for printing.




Next - just PRINT the Valentines on white card stock, CUT them to size {I love to use my paper cutter in the pic below for nice straight edges}, have your child SIGN the back of the card, STUFF the card and a mustache in clear bag {I just happened to have these little bags in my stash, but you can pick them up in the candy making section of most craft stores}, then SEAL the bags with a Valentine sticker or some cute washi tape, but if you're like me last year, you'll just use some clear tape because it's almost midnight and your sister is up late at your house helping you stuff little bags with furry mustaches...



The good news is that we moved over the summer to a new school district, so I don't have to worry about coming up with any new ideas this year - we can just recycle these old ideas - think my kids will go along with that??


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chalk Paint Virgin


So, I've been curious about chalk paint since I first started seeing pins on Pinterest that praised its wonders. Now I will admit that when I first read chalk paint, I thought they were referring to chalkboard paint - I quickly realized that these were two completely different animals, although both are equally admired by DIY bloggers everywhere ;)

This post by the Centsational Girl really piqued my interest, and started my quest for more information on the wonders of chalk paint. I read post after post that sung the praises of chalk paint, namely Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. The only con that was rarely, but occasionally, mentioned was the cost - $38 for a quart of paint does sound a bit steep. Upon further investigation, I learned that this magical little quart goes a long way. Chalk paint isn't absorbed by your wood, it sits on top, giving you great coverage with just one to two coats, depending on the look you want to achieve. One blogger mentioned that she was able to paint five mid-sized dressers with just one quart of ASCP {Annie Sloan Chalk Paint}- that comes to just $7.60 per piece, which sounds not too shabby to me! Another plus is that you do not have to sand or prime your furniture - you literally wipe down your piece to remove and dirt/dust, open your can of paint and get to it. I loathe the prep that comes with traditional paint, so when I read this my brain went "ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!!!" Now, I should mention that you do not need to use a shellac to seal your piece, you just apply two very thin coats of Annie Sloan's Soft Wax to protect your piece, and then buff.



After weeks of internal debate, I finally decided to just bite the bullet and make my first purchase. Much to my dismay, I don't have any ASCP authorized retailers in my area - whomp, whomp, whomp... I'm one of those people that needs to see colors in person, I don't trust my laptop monitor to show me true colors, and one person's description of taupe can be vastly different than mine - example: my Nan, love her, but she has the WORST sense of color of anyone that I have ever met, we continually debate colors! So what is a sad sap like myself to do? Totally out of character, I decided to take a leap of faith and just pick a damn color! After swapping out about four different colors from my online cart, {what can I say, I'm indecisive and a commitment phobe} Duck Egg was the winner. I also added the clear soft wax and a waxine brush and then hit "place order" before I could change my mind again...

For my first date with chalk paint, I didn't want to go away for the weekend {oh yeah, I am totally relating this to dating, even though it's been almost 16 years since I was in that game} I figured we should just meet for coffee and see if we click.


I picked up this little beauty with the curvy legs at my local Goodwill, and brought her home for a cool $10 - talk about a cheap date {wink, wink}
It's a little side table that looks like it did have a little drawer at one time, honestly, I didn't even realize that there was supposed to be a drawer until I started painting, because it looks great without it. This piece was no spring chicken, she has some minor dings and scratches, but I think that they only add to her character. I wiped her down to remove any dust or dirt that was on the surface, made sure she was dry, and got busy painting.
Another big plus is that ASCP is No VOC, so it's safe to paint indoors, and cleans up easily. I decided that I wanted a bit of a distressed worn look for this piece. To achieve this look, I applied one coat of ASCP, one coat of AS soft wax, lightly sanded where I wanted it to look worn, applied a second coat of AS soft wax, and then buffed my piece.


Doesn't she look great? And I am loving the Duck Egg!! It's kind of a soft greeny-blue in person, although it looks more blue in the pictures. Are you ready for a close-up?


Meow... am I right??

So there you have it, I am an Annie Sloan Chalk Paint convert, I'm ready to go steady and doodle our names together all over my notebook... swoon...
I think I may even go all the way and paint my kitchen table and chairs with the charcoal colored ASCP - squeal!


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Keeping It Real: The Christmas Edition


First, I need to give credit where credit is due - Young House Love. I'm a big fan of YHL, but I especially love when they do one of their "Keeping It Real" posts, showing us what their home looks like when they are in the midst of a project, or just the day to day hum drum. They remind me that they are human, and they do not live in a bubble of photoshopped perfection.

In this Facebook age, we tend to get altered pictures of what people's lives are like. We are usually shown a filtered version of our FB "friends" lives, the best is shown, and the undesirable is not. I am guilty of this, I mean who doesn't love a good Instagram filter? Seriously, I wish I could walk around with an Instagram filter on - a soft focus that hides my wrinkles and breakouts!
*in the event of my death, this is the pre-approved official picture to be used in any cases where a picture is needed
This is not to be confused with AMC's Dead Yourself filter....
#filtersgonewrong

Now I'm not calling for a movement to show the good, bad and the ugly on FB, I personally prefer to keep FB light and positive. I've even been know to hide people from my news feed that tend to be Eeyores - in the words of Sweet Brown "ain't nobody got time for that".

Ok, ok, I swear there was a point to this whole post - and this people, is why my posts are so few and far between - I am the queen of the tangents! I actually compose blog posts all of the time in my head, they just rarely make it to the Internet...

So without further ado I give you Keeping It Real: The Christmas Edition

Now please don't judge me based solely on this post, although who could blame you?!

Welcome to the week before Christmas in our house: The Christmas cookies are half gone because someone ate most of them herself (I refuse to name names. ok, it was me)... the house is a disaster (we're talking barely fit for humans)... I can't remember the last real meal that I cooked... I'm pretty sure that the last time the bathrooms were cleaned we were eating turkey... my husband is wearing his last pair of clean underwear... the bins of ornaments are still sitting in the family room (pretty sure they've been around since the time of the turkey too)... out of the last 7-9 days, I've only managed to shower 3 times... I cried yesterday when I looked at a picture of the boys from 2011 and it hit me that they will never be that little again, and that those days of Christmas magic for all three of them are over (why???)
'Twas the Night Before Christmas that this mom's heart exploded


Martha Stewart, I am not, but I have been known to Martha it up sometimes. I will also let you in on a few secrets - my house may look spotless when company arrives, but it was a mad dash to get it that way, and there probably is a closet somewhere about to burst... the whipped cream may be freshly made, but the gingerbread is a box mix... the Christmas card may look picture perfect, but it wasn't easy getting that shot with a stubborn 4-year old that thought holding his breath was the way to go...

So why am I telling you all of this? Because I think we all need to cut ourselves some slack. As women, and mothers, we have a tendency to put a lot of pressures on ourselves to create magic and make everything perfect.
The other day I admitted to my husband that I can really only do one thing at a time. I was on a roll with keeping the house tidy, the laundry in check, and getting the kids off to school, but then Christmas came along, and a week + of being sick hit me, and things spiraled out of control. The handmade gifts that I had planned didn't get made, cookie trays to our new neighbors never got delivered, and I never got around to decorating my pretty white tree.
My husband put it best when he said "the difference between us is that you set out to climb Everest, and I set out to walk over the hill."
He couldn't have been more right - I always give myself these unattainable goals, goals that I could never possibly accomplish. Being a master procrastinator does not help my self-imposed situation either...

I think I took a step in the right direction last night when I called my mother and asked if she would mind hosting Christmas Eve at her house. She was happy to host, and I was happy to take 1 of my 3 hosting days away. So now I can host a big family gathering on Sunday, have a couple of days to recover, and then be refreshed to host a lovely Christmas dinner - topped off with some box mix gingerbread!



*on the LEFT - what you will see on Facebook and Instagram              *on the RIGHT - what things look like in reality      
*LEFT - this fell down yesterday, and looks exactly the same today       *RIGHT - someone really needs to clean this up    
*somehow the holding of the breath wasn't captured on film...

Wishing you all a Merry Messy Christmas!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Joy Filled Home Challenge

I'm a homebody, and always have been.

Growing up we didn't have a lot, but my mom took pride in our home and turned that "handyman special" into a beautiful, warm and inviting space. I like to think that I too am creating a space for my family and friends to gather and create memories.

Today, while scanning through my Instagram feed I came across a new photo a day challenge. While I'm not the best at seeing these challenges through to the end of the month (hello - it is called a CHALLENGE), but I love that they make you stop and think about your photos, and to think out side of the box at times.


This month won't you join me on Instagram and take part of the November Joy Filled Home Challenge? I'd love to see your pictures!

Here's my Day 1: Favorite Room pic



Please stop by Michaela Noelle Designs blog to gets all of the details on the challenge.

Monday, September 9, 2013

#momfail

Such is my luck that on Sam's first day at his new preschool, Matthew's bus never showed up. Luckily,  Sam was raring to get dressed and be ready to start his day, so I switched out my pj's for some proper "be seen in public" clothes, ran a toothbrush over my teeth and into the car we all went!

I knew that dropping Matty off at school and getting Sam to preschool on time was going to be a skin of my teeth moment. As we sat at the light, waiting forever to make a left hand turn, I realized that I had left my phone in the kitchen. Guess that 1st day of school pic was not going to happen...

By the magic of time travel (seriously,  that's the only explanation) I managed to drop off Matty and make it to Sam's new school with about five minutes to spare - miracle of miracles!!

We had just enough time to feel comfortable, but not enough time for him to think this whole school thing through and change his mind. Last year was a freaking nightmare - I actually woke up twenty minutes before my alarm this morning because I was so nervous about the meltdowns of last year - he was that kid that cried EVERYDAY (except the first day, go figure) up until the last day of school. He also refused to do the day's craft or sit for picture day, I used to joke with the teacher that our only proof that he actually attended preschool were my cancelled checks.

In the end he did walk into the classroom of his own freewill, at the slowest pace known to man, but there were no tears so I will consider it a success. Don't worry though, this is not my first time to the rodeo, I am not green enough to think that I will be this lucky Wednesday morning...

I did manage to snap this little shot of Sam's first day of preschool.

Yeah, so it's not my kid holding a cute little chalkboard sign while smiling the perfect smile (grrr... why don't I ever plan those things out ahead of time?? oh right, because my boys  would never cooperate anyway - well, maybe Jack, on a good day...) but this is life!

Monday, August 5, 2013

11 More Days...

11 more days in the house that we brought all of babies home from the hospital to.

Sweet Baby Jack


11 more days days of playing in the cul de sac.



11 more days to pack - yikes!!!

I was off to a great start, but then took too many congratulatory breaks, and now I am in panic mode... (this comes as no surprise at all to anyone that knows me - stop laughing!)



11 more days to swim in this gorgeous pool.

Hello - it's August in PA - where the heck is the hot weather???


11 more days to say goodbye to our wonderful neighbors, who have become more than just great friends, they have become a second family - our Cara Court Family.



11 more days of Jack and Sam sharing a room.

Disclaimer: this was a shot from our listing - their room NEVER looked like this!


11 more days of being able to send the boys down to play in the basement (and out of my hair...)

Disclaimer: Again, it NEVER looked like this in "real life"


11 more days of my pretty white kitchen.

alright, alright, enough chatter from the peanut gallery - seriously, stop laughing! Yes, you can see the island - who knew there was granite underneath all of the junk that typically covered it?!


11 more days to make memories in our first home.

We stopped by almost every weekend to check the progress of our 1st home - man do I miss that Jeep, sniff, sniff
So young and clueless - these two had no idea what was in store for them over the next 11 years...
Love.


11 more days until we start making memories in our new home...


Below is a video tour that I found from the listing of our "soon to be" home - I'm excited to get in their and make it our home, put my our stamp on it!



3276 Gun Club Road, Upper Nazareth Twp, Pa 18064 from Peter Hewitt on Vimeo.

Monday, February 25, 2013

And the Award goes to...

Before we get to the "important" stuff, can we all just give it up for Seth MacFarlane?!
Even though the show ran long (shocker!) and became quite the snoozefest towards the end, he really did entertain - come on, he got Sally Field to make out with him on TV! And as much as I would've loved to see more of his work spread throughout the show, it just would've made the damn show that much longer.
And of course I woke up this morning singing "We Saw Your Boobs"



Stuck in your head too? You're welcome ;)

Now let's talk Red Carpet, shall we?

BIG thanks to Jessica Chastain for giving us some instant gratification! She was the first major player to hit the red carpet, and she did not disappoint.
Jessica sparkled in Armani Prive, but I think it's how genuine and gracious she seems in interviews that really shines through, makes me want to invite her over for tea.

Next to arrive was Amy Adams in a grand Oscar de la Renta gown
Amy really can pull off the princess look (A+ for the casting director of Enchanted). I'm loving the easiness of her hair, make up and even her jewels - she really held back and let the dress do the talking.

So after these seeing these first two looks, I was wondering if pale muted colors were going to be a trend for the 2013 Oscars, and then BAM! Reese Witherspoon stepped on the carpet in vibrant blue Louis Vuitton.
While I think the fit wasn't great (in some pics she was actually stepping on the front of her dress), I do think that the color was amazing on her. And I am always a sucker for black accents with blue.

Speaking of blue, I am on a major navy kick, so Jennifer Hudson immediately caught my eye her navy sequined Roberto Cavalli
My only critique would be to lose the slit, just not a fan, it sort of cheapened the look.

Another lady in blue was Helen Hunt
Helen chose to go with an accessible dress from H&M to support their global green initiative. Props to her for that. Go green, go affordable, but just don't go wrinkled (cue the Debbie Downer music).

I loved Jackie Weaver in Silver Linings Playbook, but I just wish that someone would have stepped back, looked at her dress as a whole, and said "let's NOT do a nude illusion bust"

Since we're going there, here are my least favorite of the night...

Amanda Seyfried in Alexander McQueen
Now by no means does she look terrible, but I'm just not a fan of the neckline (which, btw, does not fit properly - and by now, you know I am a stickler for fit!), and she just kind of looks blah, for lack of a better word.

Now I know I am probably going to get a lot of backlash from this, but I was not a fan of Jennifer Lawrence's dress pick.
While this is a beautiful Dior Haute Couture gown, I just felt like it was a little redundant and expected. I was hoping for something a little different.

Speaking of letdowns...
Anne was probably one of the ones that I was most excited to see - major star power, coupled with the styling of Rachel Zoe usually combine to create a feast for the eyes. From the moment I saw Anne step on the red carpet, I was greatly disappointed (cue the Debbie Downer music again - and I'm pretty sure that exact sound byte is what I heard when I saw her).
This pale pink Prada reminded me of Calvin Klein from the 1990's, and the necklace - oh that necklace (shaking my head), I can't even, I mean I just can't...

Catherine Zeta Jones in Zuhair Murad
This is just too much. Not a fan. Enough said.

Now this one pains me - and for a couple different reasons
1. I really do love her, and I know how hard it can be to dress a not so perfect figure
2. Her stylists should have NEVER let her even entertain the thought of this dress and that hair! Shame on them.
So here it goes, the worst dressed of the night - Melissa McCarthy
On the bright side, I think her make up looks great! But I'm pretty sure that they used a trash bag for that peek-a-boo panel :(

Ok, let's turn this around!
Major props to Halle Berry for resisting the urge to wear a one shoulder gown!!! Did she read my Golden Globes post???
Halle said that she wanted channel the Bond girl vibe, and this Versace gown definitely did not disappoint.

Now I may have gasped a little when I caught my first glimpse of Charlize Theron on the red carpet - I only spotted her cropped pixie, but that was enough for me!
With a face like that, does it even matter what she's wearing?? The answer is NO, it does not, but she knocked it out of the Kodak Theatre in a white Dior Haute Couture.
I have had a major girl crush on Charlize since she walked her first Oscar red carpet back in 2000 wearing Vera Wang.

I am a sucker for a black dress - you just can't go wrong in black. End of story.
Les Miserables' Samantha Barks smoldered in this sexy black Valentino - now that is a dress that is cut to perfection!

I was pleasantly surprised to see Stacy Keibler step it up and demand some of the attention that George usually commands.
Stacy oozed Art Deco glam in this Naaem Khan dazzler.

My favorite couple of the night, and of all of Hollywood, is Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck - could they be any cuter?
Anyone else wondering what Jennifer's ruffled Gucci looked like after sitting on it for 4 hours??

And now for the moment that you've all been waiting for - you have been waiting for it, right?
The award for the Best Dressed at the 2013 Oscars goes to...
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Naomi Watts in Armani Prive!!!!
She was the ONLY one on the red carpet that took my breath away - she just got it all right - hair, make up, jewels, and the dress! She may not have walked away with Oscar gold (even though her performance in The Impossible was award-worthy - I teared up when they showed her nominee clip - that scene was pure raw emotion - do yourself a favor and see The Impossible), but she gets my vote for the Best Dressed.


A little disclaimer ;)
Now I am by no means a fashion expert, I have no credentials that qualify me or that would make you value my opinion over someone else. I have just been a lover of all things pretty since birth. There's an old tale of me mortifying my Nan in a department store before I could even walk - I was like a moth to a flame when I spotted a mannequin's shoes - there may have been some loving strokes given to those pretty shoes, but alas I was too young to remember so I plead the 5th.
And I'm pretty sure that I fell in love with The Wizard of Oz because of a certain pair of ruby slippers...