Monday, April 20, 2015

Blogs I’d recommend to my sisters

Even though I don’t really feel like a grown up most of the time, when I look at my life objectively it is decidedly grown up. I’m 30. I have two kids. We own a home and a “family car.” And the majority of the blogs I read reflect the fact that much of my life revolves around my identity as wife and mom. I read about quiet time activities for toddlers and healthy dinners in 20 minutes and organizing cleaning supplies.

I’m also a big sister. And my two little sisters are decidedly hipper and cooler and, well, less mom-like than me. So while many of the blogs I follow would not interest them, there are a couple of blogs I read on a regular basis that I routinely think, “I should share this with my younger, cooler sisters!” But then I never do. So this post is essentially a round up of the things I think my sisters would like to read. (Here you go, sisters!)

Yesandyes

1. Yes and Yes

This blog has tons of great posts for women who are just starting out on the whole grown-up thing. From tips on how to make your rental cute on the cheap, to guides on traveling the world, to how to dress cute in the freezing cold winter (especially helpful for my Chicago sister), this blog talks about all kinds of things that my sisters would be able to relate to. The blog also has a fascinating series called “True Story” in which she interviews people who have experienced interesting or amazing things. It’s answers to all the questions you would like to ask, but feel like would be rude to bring up. It’s a great way to gain a better understanding of the variety of people out there in the world.

Some posts to get you started:

2. The Sugar Box Blog

I am woefully out of touch when it comes to movies and TV and the people who are on those screens. Ask me who my favorite actor and actresses are and I’ll say Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. or Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Because I like Mary Poppins and You’ve Got Mail. Never mind that those movies are 50 and 15 years old.

However, my sisters are much more on top of these things. They actually watch movies every once in a while. And I think they would really enjoy all the fun fangirl posts over at the Sugar Box. This blogger has managed to meld her love of cooking desserts and watching TV into a business, and even with my limited knowledge of which handsome-faced actor is who, I find her posts to be really entertaining, and they’ve given me some good recommendations on what to watch next if I should ever find the time.

Some favorites:

There are probably a few more blogs that would appeal to a younger, hipper woman, but these are my current favs. I hope you like them too!

What about you? Do you have any favorite blogs that you would recommend to your younger sisters? Share in the comments!

Friday, April 17, 2015

These Days // 15

Thesedays2

Hello, friends. Here’s what’s happening these days…

answering: why? All. Day. Long. It is Charlie’s favorite question. He likes it so much he doesn’t even care what the answer is. Because he’s just going to ask it again. A sample conversation:

Me: Charlie, it’s time to put away your toys.
Him: Why?
Me: Because it’s almost bedtime.
Him: Why?
Me: Because it’s getting dark outside.
Him: Why?
Me: Because the sun goes down at night.
Him: Why?
Me: Because God made it that way.
Him: Why?
Me: God is supposed to be the answer to everything! Can’t you just be satisfied?!

trying: a new routine. We’ve been working on bringing a bit more structure to our days. I started implementing new after-breakfast and after-lunch routines this week and so far it’s been going well. It get us out of our pajamas, give us time for school and play, and builds in a little time for cleaning up the house as well. Somedays that’s all that gets done, but at least it’s something.

learning: more letters. Our new routine has given us a regular school time and Charlie’s been doing so well on learning his letters. Someday soon I plan to do a post sharing all the activities we’ve been doing.

reading: “The Journey” by Mary Oliver. My husband shared it in his newsletter this past week and it left me nodding and murmuring things like, “isn’t that the truth.”

The Journey

by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.

leaving: you with these pictures my husband took, because you can’t have a blog post with out pictures, and I didn’t really take many good ones this week. I feel like they capture life around here so well.

16922346177 dbb3fd410c o

16985827460 46f8d836f6 o

16967031169 dfde41b5b6 o

17114921782 2a137acdcc o

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Train birthday party

IMG 0078

I don’t remember a lot of big themed birthday parties as a kid. There was the party at the roller rink, the 8-year-old slumber party, some other small gatherings with cake and games. I also don’t recall ever being disappointed with any of these celebrations. There was cake! There were some happy streamers strewn about! There were presents! I was a happy little girl.

But times have changed, and now every child gets a meticulously planned party from the very beginning. I understand. As parents we want our child’s birthday to feel special, magical even. We love them dearly and don’t they deserve it? But then again, a stressed out mommy does not a happy birthday make. So one must find the balance. Three years in I feel like I’ve hit upon a pretty good balance for me. There is cake! There are happy streamers strewn about! There are presents! And on top of that there may be just a couple of themed activities to match the cake and streamers. And of course, there is a very happy little boy.

IMG 0079

This year we had a train themed party. The balance was found with a duplo train set and some nice train car printables.

The cake

IMG 0077

I saw some cute examples on pinterest of cupcake trains. I decided that was what I would make without really thinking through the whole turning the cupcakes into train cars part. The day before the party I made the cupcakes (Funfetti, from a box) and realized I should probably figure that part out. I didn’t really want to craft individual train cars from cardboard with ritz cracker wheels so I rummaged around the house to see what I could find. And then I remembered! Charlie got a Duplo train set for Christmas! Cupcakes would fit on that! Easy Peasy. And Charlie loved it. I think he wishes I served all his food on his train now.

IMG 0076

IMG 0075

The activities

IMG 0081

Pin the tail on the donkey is a classic party game. Pin the train on the railroad track is just as exciting. I painted a simple railroad track on a large piece of paper, then printed and cut out these train cars. A piece of tape on each and a blindfold made for a quick and easy game. Charlie wanted to play it twice. Success!

IMG 0080

IMG 0082

We also did a painting project that I failed to take pictures of. I printed out a train engine and then just cut some paper into smaller rectangles. We painted each rectangle and called it a car for the train. Eventually I’ll find a way to put those on the wall in his room (He still has his abstract car track painting up from last year).

The Caveat

The one thing missing in all these birthday parties is other kids his age. So far all his parties have just been small family affairs. One day I’ll need to get up the nerve to invite other small children over. Hopefully I’ll still be able to maintain the balance when that happens (insert slightly overwhelmed but hopeful emojii here).


Other birthday parties:

1 Year Old – Rainbow Party

2 Years Old – Cars Party

Monday, April 13, 2015

Documenting the Snow

We got so much snow this year! It was crazy. And it definitely needs to be remembered. Enter my Project Life album.

IMG 3247

Since switching to a 12×12 album I was able to fit the story of our snow days into one spread.

IMG 3251

IMG 3250

Left side – design A

IMG 3248

Right side – design B

I’m happy with the way these turned out. I really like the look of spreads that all come from one day or event. It makes the whole page look a lot more cohesive. I’d like to try to do more of these types of spreads in the future.


Resources:

12×12 American Crafts Album

Becky Higgins Photo Pocket Pages – Big Variety Pack

Amy Tangerine Mini Kit

Saturday, April 11, 2015

These Days // 14

Thesedays2

High five for… late Saturday night! Some weeks I just can’t get in a moment to write my Friday posts. This week has been full, but good. Here’s what’s been going on these days:

loving: the warm spring days. They’ve come with a lot of rain as well, but the warm sunshine in-between storms has been worth it. And it’s given us a few good puddles to splash in.

IMG 3354

IMG 3357

watching: lots of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. When I first heard about this show I was confused. A funny cop show? But it is indeed funny, and about cops. Watching it gives me similar enjoyable feelings as I got from watching The Office back in the day. So if that’s not a recommendation, I don’t know what is.

planting: some flowers in the front flower bed. We got a couple of hyacinths from a friend at church, some violets from my Aunt Barbara’s funeral, and then I tried transplanting a few irises from the side of the house. I’m interested to see if any of these things live.

celebrating: Easter! We kept it pretty low key this year, but still managed to include some fun egg dying, some easter egg hunts, and the worst deviled eggs ever.

IMG 3396

Easter eggs

planning: some new pieces to go on our walls. Hopefully these projects will get done soon and I’ll be able to share them on the blog.

getting: out of the house! This week has included trips outside the house to go to church, the playground, a friend’s house, the grocery store, and the mall. Not to mention a few walks! That’s some major activity for this family of homebodies. What’s even more impressive is that at least a few of those outings involved me going out with both children at once! Without my husband to help me! It has given me the sliver of confidence I needed to attempt that more often. Maybe one day we’ll go to the library, or Target, or (super excited about this one!) Hobby Lobby!

I hope your spring has sprung and you are soaking it in! Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See

Allthelightwecannotsee

I have to say, I started the 2015 Reading Challenge with a good one. Chris and I chose “a book that is currently on the best-seller list” as the first category of the challenge to complete. I went with All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I had no great expectations for it. It was just one of the few books on the list that didn’t seem to center on a murder or crime, so that’s what I picked.

The story is set in Europe during WWII and is told from the perspectives of two different characters – children really – who come of age during the height of WWII. The first is a blind French girl who flees Paris during the Nazi invasion with her father who may or may not be in possession of a cursed diamond. The second is a German orphan boy who escapes his fate of working in the coal mines when his gift at working with radios and mechanics awards him a spot at a prestigious school for the Hitler Youth.

The 500 some pages in the book go by quickly. It’s an easy read, but definitely not fluff. The chapters are short and go back and forth between the girl and the boy, the beginning of the war and the end. It was fascinating to watch the story unfold and reveal how these two separate lives would intersect.

At one point near the end of the book I told Chris that either there was going to be some kind of miracle, or everyone was going to die. It turned out to have some of both. There was a bit of the miraculous. There was a bit of the sad. Some people lived and some people died. Everyone came out of the war with some scars. But many also learned how very strong they could be.

If you’re looking for a book to read, I would definitely recommend this one.

Monday, April 6, 2015

A few adjustments

When I first decided to make a photo album using the Project Life system, I thought the traditional 12×12 size sound like way too much. It’s so big! I just want to keep things simple! Less is more!

Projectlife zoo1

But I quickly found that the 6×8 size that I started with couldn’t hold many 4×6 photos on a page. I was needing to do a lot of cutting and cropping of my photos, and a single event or theme had to take up several pages in my book. So after playing with the smaller size for several months, I decided that was just not the way I wanted this book to go and I took the plunge and bought a bigger album.

12x12binder

The thing’s a mammoth. But it’s also much easier to work with. I can use several 4×6 photos on a page still have plenty of space to include fun backgrounds and journalling.

IMG 0084

The nice thing about the large album is I can still fit my smaller sheets inside. I just included all the pages I’ve already made and plan to use the remainder of my small pocket sheets to make little “mini albums” of special events throughout the book.

IMG 3245

I also purchased a few kits of journaling cards to make my life easier. I love the idea of creating my own backgrounds and journaling cards, but the reality is that I will never get this album done if I try to do that for everything. The Becky Higgins site has a ton of great card designs to choose from. I went with the Amy Tangerine Mini Kit, the My Story Themed Cards, and the Inspiration Themed Cards. They are all full of bright, bold colors that I think will make this album feel really happy.

BH ThemedCards Inspirational 03 1024x1024

Inspiration themed cards

BH ThemedCards MyStory ForShop 02 1024x1024

My Story themed cards

I’m really glad I started this little project. I feel like it gets easier each time I sit down to work on a spread and I know I’ll be glad to have this album in several years when we’re all older.


Complete list of Project Life products I used:

12×12 American Crafts Album

Becky Higgins Photo Pocket Pages – Big Variety Pack

Amy Tangerine Mini Kit

Inspiration Themed Cards

My Story Themed Cards

Friday, April 3, 2015

These Days // 13

This has been a week, you guys.

Normally, my Friday posts are a time to talk about the more trivial things in life. A listing of the positives and the celebrations. But this week it’s been more about the feelings. So let’s talk about it.

B V

feeling: sad

My Aunt Barbara passed away last Thursday morning. It happened so quickly, it’s still hard to believe. Just three weeks earlier she had gone into the hospital with some swelling and difficulty breathing only to learn that she had stage 4 cancer. At first it sounded like we only had a year or two left with her. Then she developed an infection and it was a matter of days, then hours, and then she was gone. My heart aches every time I think of it.

feeling: exhausted

The funerals (there were two) were in Kansas City and her hometown of Warrensburg, MO. Getting out there is about a 9 hour drive on a good day. Add in a detour to drop off a three year old at the in-laws house, and continue on with a 3 month old that needs diaper changes and nursing breaks every couple of hours, and you’ve got yourself a really long trip. We’re still recovering.

feeling: amazed

At just how much Aunt Barbara loved us. I had always known that my sisters and I were important and special to her. I didn’t realize how much she loved to brag on us to her many friends. There were so many people that we met at the funeral who felt that they had watched us grow up through the eyes of Aunt Barbara. Even though we only got to see Aunt Barbara and Uncle Vernon a few times a year, they thought about us and talked about us and cared about us every day in between.

feeling: grateful

That we were able to have so much time with family in the time leading up to and during the funerals. If only Aunt Barbara had been there it would have been a truly joyous occasion. My parents and sisters were all there – a feat in and of itself. We spent lots of time with Uncle Vernon. We got to visit with cousins I haven’t seen in years, and I even met some family members for the first time. And I can honestly say that they are all really great people. I wish it hadn’t taken such a sad event to get us all together.

feeling: inspired

By the life my Aunt Barbara led. At first glance, it doesn’t seem that impressive. She wasn’t an influential leader. She didn’t own her own business, or start her own charity, or live some kind of high profile life. But she made an impact on so many people. Enough to fill two separate funeral homes. All these people came simply because they were loved by her. Her life is a testament to the power and impact a person can have by simply caring for the people you meet along the way – your neighbors. My Aunt Barbara lived in the same house, worked in the same company, attended the same tiny church, and went to the same high school reunions and retiree functions and volunteer opportunities for as long as I knew her and longer. But even though it seemed that nothing much changed in her life, it’s obvious to me now that she changed the lives of the people around her. I’m certain when she met Jesus face to face he said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

feeling: comforted

In the promise of heaven. I don’t know how people who don’t have a relationship with God and the reality of heaven to look forward to can handle the death of a loved one. As much as I miss Aunt Barbara now, I am comforted in the fact that I will see her again. I’m pretty sure she’s in one of those many rooms organizing her supplies in the most space efficient way possible, making friends with everyone she meets, and preparing a plate of the best chocolate chip cookies in the world to greet us with when we all go to join her.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Discover New Blogs

Liebster2

My friend Tina, from the blog Go Big or Go Home, recently nominated me to receive the Leibster blogging award. This award is basically a way for bloggers to honor and recognize other bloggers they enjoy and want to introduce to their readers. So if you’re visiting from Tina’s blog, welcome! Make yourself at home and stay awhile!

If you’re one of my regular readers, I highly recommend that you pop over to Tina’s blog and take a look around. She writes about home and craft projects, style, and her experiences being a new mom! Reading Tina’s blog is like sitting down to chat with a good friend. You should definitely check it out.

So the fun part of this award is the nominator gets to ask 10 questions to the nominee. So here we go!

1- What’s your blog about?

I write about various creative and DIY projects, activities to do with your kiddos, simplifying, and thoughts related to living a full and happy life.

2- What did you want to be when you grew up?

A ballerina! And once I got out of kindergarten and became more practical about my future, a teacher. It wasn’t until I became a grown up that I found my place as a graphic designer.

3- What is your favorite beauty product?

Boscia

Does soap count as a beauty product? After years of problem skin and using products that irritated and dried my face out, I started using Boscia Clear Complexion Cleanser. It keeps my skin as clean and blemish free as anything else (which isn’t perfectly, but I’ve given up on that) but it’s gentle and doesn’t dry me out. I also love that it’s made with natural ingredients and no preservatives. After I started having babies I became a lot more wary of the chemicals I put on my skin, so I feel safe using this soap every day.

4- What brand is your favorite pair of jeans?

Whatever fits. I don’t go jeans shopping very often, and I don’t really have a go-to brand. However, I do have fond memories of a pair of Gap jeans back in high school.

5- Tell me about your favorite day in your life!

I don’t know about one single favorite day, but I’ve learned that great days usually include the following:
* A feeling of accomplishment – This might mean getting on top of chores, completing a project, or just trying out a new activity.
* But also plenty of rest and leisure time. A great day won’t feel hurried or stressed.
* Lots of time with family – Sometimes it might just be with my little family of four, or it might include grandparents and aunts and uncles.
* Great weather and time spent in it.

Some days that fit the bill that I’ve talked about on the blog include this past Christmas and the day we went to the zoo.

6- Why did you start blogging?

For the (potential unlikely future prospect of lots of) money! Just kidding. Blogging is a way for me to express my thoughts in a way that is fun and comfortable for me. I’m pretty introverted in person, and express my thoughts much more clearly through writing (mainly because it gives me the chance to revise, and revise, and revise), so blogging is a nice way for me to get my thoughts out of my head and out into the world. It’s also a great tool for self-improvement. I’m more likely to complete projects or try new things when I’m looking for something interesting to post on the blog. A blog full of “I took a nap and watched TV today” would get old pretty quick.

7- Where is your favorite place in your house?

2013 07 12 0084

My absolute favorite place is actually outside the house, in the backyard. We have a great shade tree that makes even the hottest summer days pleasant to be out in. Given that it’s still winter right now, I’m really missing afternoons spent under the tree.

IMG 6811

It’s also gorgeous in the fall.

8- Coffee or tea?

Tea. But only when iced and full of sugar. The way my grandma makes it.

9- Tell me about your favorite DIY project.

I’m pretty proud of my coat closet makeover. It’s a project I brainstormed, planned, and executed all by myself. And we use it everyday!

10- Where do you get outfit inspiration?

My closet and the weather. Honestly, most of my outfits aren’t very “inspired.” Lately I’ve been spending most of my days in sweatpants and long-sleeved t-shirts. But I’ve been in a slow process of clearing out my closet of things that I don’t love, and hope to build up my wardrobe with some good basics once I’ve gotten through the postpartum size fluctuations. I’m really intrigued by the idea of a capsule wardrobe and hope to form one of my own eventually.

So there you have it! Thanks, Tina, for the fun questions and the nomination!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Links for you

Work station straight on view copy

It’s been a while since I’ve shared some links from the internet. I haven’t decided how much of a link sharing blog I want to be or how to best fit it in with everything else I write. But I have several good ones that I’ve been sitting on for a while now and I want to share them with you. So here it goes:

The biggest thing separating people from their artistic ambitions…

I have no ambitions to write a novel, but I do have lots of other creative goals. I think the point about deadlines is so true. I made a lot stuff for work – because I had to get things done for certain events by a certain time. At home, things just languish. How can I give myself more deadlines, without feeling artificial or stressing myself out?


Free Project Life Journal Cards

This is a really cute collection of journaling cards for your Project Life album. Just download and print out!


Water Color Pencil Palette

This is such a good idea for taking painting on the go. I’d really love to try it out someday. I didn’t even know water color pencils were a thing!


To Reuse this Notebook, Pop it in the Microwave

What?!?!


It Goes So Fast (Not a Parenting Essay)

Oh, man. I can already feel this as I’m just beginning my 30s. How in the world did I ever reach such a grown-up sounding age?


And just for fun…

Comedy Character Tournament of Champions

My final four? Liz Lemon, Leslie Knope, Dwight Shrute, and Kenneth Parcel. From there I really can’t choose.