Tuesday, July 31, 2012

More Faves

Time for more products reviews!

**Note: the opinions expressed are totally my own; I have not been reimbursed by any company to share the following:)

Melissa & Doug Wooden Primary Beads:

I found these (at Marshall's, of all places) and snagged them, thinking they would make a great surprise for the kids on one of those fidgety afternoons:) Olivia loves them and I love that the pieces are too big to be a choking hazard for Jonah, though I don't leave them unsupervised to be safe. This makes for a great way to reinforce colors, shapes and work on fine tuning those motor skills- the developed necklaces also make for great accessorization:)


Both Livy & Jonah dig Barbara's Snackimals- I think we've tried each flavor. Oatmeal & Snickerdoodle are current faves- you can see that Jonah has no trouble polishing off his snackimals in a groovy purple bib, courtesy of Olivia:)

All natural goodness for a sweet treat and Livy loves all the different animals- we work on appropriate sound effects as she munches:) I've been purchasing through Sprouts but they're available through other places.

Kindy Garden:

I recently ordered 2 personalized prints for Jonah & Olivia through Kindy Garden, created by my good friend Megan aka superbly gifted artist:) The above pic doesn't do Livy's print justice, I'm afraid (so tricky to get good lighting around nap times!)- it's gorgeous though! The paper quality and colors are stunning and match perfectly with Livy's bedroom:)

These lovely stickers came too- saving them for a special occasion:) Check out Kindy Garden for the perfect birthday/shower gift, decor addition etc... and you'll be so glad you did:)

Newman's Own All Natural Pizza:

Since changing over our diet/groceries to 'all natural' I've been hunting for a decent pizza option for Livy & hubby- they don't eat it often but when they do, it's need to be good. While they both prefer when I make homemade pizza using a Mama Mary's crust, homemade sauce etc..., this passed muster.

As you can see, Livy wasn't thrilled with having to wait for her treat, but she did & enjoyed it:)

Gilden Tree Foot Scrubber:

I stumbled upon an Amazon local deal (few months ago) for I chose to redeem for some natural goodies. This 2 sided foot scrubber is made from terra cotta and soothes away roughies with ease and doesn't disintegrate (like pumice). I love it- just need to remember to use it more often:) Incidentally, it made Oprah's "best" list.

Feel free to share your faves too:)


Monday, July 30, 2012

Spotty Dotty T-shirt

I often gain inspiration by glancing at flyers, magazines etc... that randomly appear in our mailbox- one of these mysterious publications was Boden USA (high end kids clothing company).

Within this particular mini magazine were some pom pom T-Shirts that I fell in love with- of course, that meant that I would be making one vs buying it...$28? I think not:)

I chanced to find some clearance pom poms at a local craft store (100 for a whopping $1) that would work perfectly.

Next I was on a mission to find the right T-Shirt...this took several weeks but then I finally saw one at Kid to Kid that looked brand new, would coordinate with the pom poms and look good on Livy...for $1.99. Sold!

It even had the same ribbon detailing on the inside of the neck as the Boden Ts; just monotone vs a contrasting color:)

I began to lay out the pom poms, mimicking the heart design but am stuck on which design I should I need your opinions, please!

Should Livy's T include a star, butterfly or heart???

Pleas leave a comment with your vote so I can finish this project by the end of the week- hubby will be so pleased to have these pom poms put away:)


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Jonah's 1st Birthday: Invites

"I love parties. I've loved parties ever since I was a little girl..." Betty Ramsey.

My beautiful boy will be turning one in just a few short weeks & I can't believe how quickly this time has flown by.

I have literally gone back & forth dozens of times about whether to do an actual birthday 'party' for Jonah's 1st birthday as we usually keep things low key and laid back for 1st birthdays. I was leaning towards just gathering family to our home for cake & gifts, however, that didn't last long. I love parties & I love to plan/design them (yes, I have plans sketched out for the next 5+years of the kid's birthdays!)- it's great to set time aside and celebrate:)

So, at this point I'm totally crunched for time, have umpteen other projects in session and am still not certain what my party theme should be- I'm really like themes as they provide a framework to keep things together:) And remember that themes can include colors, polka dots, chevrons, books, etc...; doesn't have to be centered around an animated figure, so skies the limit!

After much rumination and contemplation, I confidently settled on a vintage, Golden Books theme with an emphasis on "The Poky Little Puppy"- seemed appropriate:) I first snagged a glance at a Golden Books themed baby shower while googling for sewing tutorials (this is often how I discover things- by accident!) and fell in love with the simplicity of something so time honored. Sold!

First things first- invitations.

Through much trial and error and the needed opinions of my Mom, Sweet Stamper, I finished with this 5x7 design:

I really couldn't be happier and love how it evolved- looks nothing like what I began to create!

Besides the digital Golden Books motif on the invitation base, all supplies are Stampin' Up!- Anneliese graciously supplied a free download for her version of the Golden Books print which made my life infinitely easier since I was running so short on time:)

Tip: Save an extra invite to place in a memory/scrap book- your kiddo will love seeing them years down the road:)

Stay tuned for the next installment of Jonah's birthday preparations- have so much to share:)Link

Saturday, July 28, 2012

"Hair, Sun Tan, Cod Liver or Castor?"

While Lucy & Ethel get excited about oil wells, I've been discovering the goodness of olive oil. Earlier this year I decided to not replenish our toiletries/cleaning supplies etc... with store bought solutions but rather make my own all natural alternatives- so far so good.

I reached the end of my Clinique eye make-up remover last week and started using extra virgin olive oil instead, based on a great post by 'Crunchy Betty' about natural facial cleansing. Evidently any nourishing, cold pressed oil will do for your eyes such as apricot, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, sweet almond etc...; I just happened to have a ton of olive oil, hence my choice.

And after browsing a fabulous post (also by 'Crunchy Betty') on how to pick pure extra virgin olive oil (a must if you're using it in facial cleansing), I picked up some at Costco, based on the recommendation- I love when other conscientious bloggers save me the time/trouble of doing mounds of research and yet supply me with the pertinent info needed:)

Application Tip: I simply sweep a dab over my eyelashes (downward motion) with a cotton ball, Q-Tip or my handy dandy finger and wipe away. My eyes have never felt better & it's so easy:)

Ready to try this? "Unless I miss my guess...", you're going to be awfully glad you did:)


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wise Words From Minnie Finch

The 'I Love Lucy' episode, 'Fan Magazine Interview' aired 58 years ago and hasn't grown stale a bit- it's a real favorite:) And one of the most memorable scenes includes, 'Minnie Finch' telling Lucy that she has a date with Ricky "and why".

Well, Olivia loves her dates with 'Ricky' too and happily waves, never looking back as she utters, "Bye Bye, Nonah...Bye Bye, Mama" while exiting the house. We're grateful that separation anxiety has not been an issue with Olivia since sleep continues to be! Can't have it all, I guess....

One of Olivia's favorite outings with Daddy includes class at Gymboree Play & Music (for a little while longer) followed by a trip to Costco where a giant "haw daw" is waiting- such simple pleasures:) And here is the reward hubby receives:

In the famous words of Minnie Finch, "When I kiss 'em, they stay kissed!"


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Vintage Scrapbook

So I'm currently on a mission to create handmade gifts, indefinitely, much to hubby's chagrin, as this involves me staying even busier than usual! He's such a good sport though and valiantly watches the kids while I work away at the studio with Sweet Stamper aka my Mom:)

A few weeks ago I hatched a plan to complete a vintage themed scrapbook- I wanted to create a unique & special gift for Rose, in honor of her turning 1:) Thus, I grabbed some fabulous Stampin' Up! supplies and got busy- the collection of products that I used has retired (sniff) but was called 'Sew Suite' and I fell in love with all of it:)

I also must apologize for the dreadful quality of the pictures in this post (especially)- the clouds decided to roll in, the pages are still in their plastic sleeves and I was snapping these pics 1o minutes before flying out the door to Rose's birthday bash! Still, I hope you can see enough to be inspired:)

Here are a few of the pages:

Love the vintage buttons and a little pom pom trim seemed just right:)

I adore the blue 'floral' print- it just makes me happy:)

Vintage sewing machines and faux fabric patterns- yes, please.

Love the card stock ric rac and 'needle & thread' image on the Designer Series Paper:)

And of course, to stay with the vintage theme, I made a coordinating birthday card...

...just love that sweet bow:)

I aged the layers with lots of sponging and the stamped images are coordinating rub-ons.

Jenny was kind enough to report that my vintage scrapbook was a hit (always the goal!) & I can't wait to see pictures of Rose adorning the pages:)

Be sure to take time & capture those special moments- they vanish so quickly.

Thanks for stopping by,


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pillowcase Muu Muu

I've recently begun the journey of sewing & am LOVING it! For the record, I abhorred sewing in my younger years and was 'forced' to take a basic sewing class in high school that I despised- if only I had known how far my interests would turn!

That said, I'm a total newbie and have not wanted to begin a project that might quickly become overwhelming or likely end in disaster- my 1st project was this embellished white dress for Olivia which I love:)

My 2nd project (almost complete) will be featured shortly... you can see a sneak peak above:)

With a delay in completing my 2nd project, I opted to jump into my 3rd- a pillowcase dress for Livy. I'd read that this was a great project for beginners and was very forgiving- sold. I also was drawn to the loose style of the pillowcase dress, perfect for my active "Peanut":)

My Mom unearthed a stash of fabric that I purchased off the clearance table (somewhere?) approx 12 yrs ago- in that pile I found a bright Hawaiian cotton print as well as a bright pink Charmeuse (I think). Why I originally bought them, I have no idea, however they're being put to great use now! We're planning a luau themed birthday party for Leyla next month and so I wanted to make an outfit for Livy that would coordinate. A Pillowcase Muu Muu seemed perfect- "Muu Muu' means "cut off" (if you're wondering as obviously I was), and originally lacked a yoke:)

So at approx 8 pm the other night, I followed this tutorial for a basic pillowcase dress (adding a ruffle and sash ties vs ribbon ones). I'm pretty sure my Hawaiian print was a full yard so I simply measured the length I wanted (with fabric being folded) and cut with my newly acquired (and so loved) rotary cutter; I also cut down the crease line to form my 2 dress panels.

Next it was time to iron. I guesstimated a 1/4 inch fold on each long side of the panels and ironed in place, then folded over a 2nd time and ironed on all 4 sides. Stitch just inside each fold and you're done with 'Phase 1'.

'Phase 2' requires building your casing that will house the ribbon/sash. Again, I guesstimated the width, ironed in place and then folded over again and ironed. Stitch just inside each fold and then again at the very top, creating a neat casing that will lay properly.

'Phase 3' is creating the arm holes- see the tutorial as I followed it exactly for this step and stitched accordingly.

Continue with the tutorial, attaching the panels, ironing seams and hemming:)

Now ribbon would have been a great (and easier) choice for my dress ties, but I was determined to keep the cost for this project to $0 (essentially, since there was no out of pocket expense) so I opted to sew sashes since I had coordinating fabric.

I guessed on an approximate width to coordinate with my dress casing, cut and stitched. I then cut off the excess with pinking shears to minimize fraying.

And now begins the long, arduous task of having to turn these 'tubes' inside-out; it took awhile but the help of a handy dandy bamboo skewer (I'm sure there's a better way, so feel free to share!) the task was completed, eventually. Attach a safety pin at one end of the sash (or ribbon) and feed through the dress casing until both ends are equal (I also made sure the casing edges were equal); pinch the dress casing at the halfway mark and sew along that line, stabilizing the sash in place. Repeat for the second sash (ribbon tie).

Looking at my finished hem, I felt it was a bit plain. I was also worried that my Muu Muu would be too short but since I was doing this at 10pm, I didn't have Livy present to check my measurements, so I played it safe and opted for a ruffle.

Cutting a strip of the Charmeuse approx 5 inches in width and the length of the fabric (just shy of double the width of the Muu Muu) I began to iron the edges, turn them over and iron once more- I pinned as I worked as this material is slick:) Sew the hem of the ruffle in place.

Due to the lateness of the hour, I neglected to sew a basting stitch at the top of the ruffle which would allow me to ruffle it (grrrrr), so I pinned little pleats and sewed them in place which worked out just fine, resulting in a subtle ruffle. Attach the 2 ends of the ruffle and then slowly stitch the ruffle onto the hem (make sure your sides are positioned correctly!), removing pins as you sew each pleat:) ***I checked the length of my pinned & pleated ruffle (before attaching) with the length of the Muu Muu to ensure it would fit and readjusted as necessary.

The next afternoon, Olivia came running out of her room after taking a nap and saw the dress; she immediately began to smile, work her hands and dance the hula! I never cease to be amazed at how much our kids understand- she was aware that this was a Hawaiian dress and thus, a hula dance was appropriate. Livy loves the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse "Hula Hibiscus" episode and "Lucy's Hawaiian Vacation" and thankfully, since there's plenty of room to grow in this Muu Muu, she can dance the hula through the next summer season:)

And there's lots of room to play and move around in- here Livy has on her tea gloves too:)

The sash ends are still not finished- need to trim and sew the edges but otherwise it's complete, all ready for our upcoming luau party! I have enough of the Hawaiian print to make a skirt or maybe something for Jonah so they can match... still ruminating:)

I'm quite chuffed with my 1st complete dress attempt and even more so because it cost me $0!!!

Thanks for looking & let me know of you have any questions:)


Monday, July 23, 2012

On Strike

I can't help but smile as I write this- approx a week ago, I felt that hubby wasn't duly appreciative of my efforts to provide a hot meal for him to take to work each day and so I graciously excused myself from continuing...for a time. I've been ensuring hubby had "decent" food to take to work each day since we got married almost 5 yrs ago- with 2 little ones that rarely stop moving, this has become increasingly challenging, so I felt a break was in order:)

I recall my Mom going 'on strike' more than once when I was young due to family members complaining and being less than grateful. We ate a lot of PB&J everyday & it got old fast (though I adore it now!) and quickly began begging my Mom to cook for us again with promises of being VERY grateful and liking everything that was prepared- I had hopes that the same turn of events would occur in our home too:)

Well, after hubby fixed his own lunches for approx 2 weeks (and he's very adept, unlike many males) , I decided to treat him- his level of appreciation had risen markedly & we were able to joke about the whole scenario (good thing!). ***Sorry these pics are dreadful- was doing this after kids were asleep!

One of hubby's favorite things to eat is salmon & HEB had it on sale, so perfect timing:) I simply lined my toaster oven baking sheet with foil (spritzed with veg spray), patted my fish dry and placed it on the foil. Next I brushed the salmon with olive oil, salt & pepper and placed lemon slices and fresh Thyme sprigs on top- very difficult. Sealed the foil, forming a tent and baked in the toaster oven at 375 degrees for 20-25 mins (depending on size of fish) until it flaked.***Love using the toaster oven vs conventional oven during the summer as it doesn't heat up the kitchen!

To accompany the salmon, I whipped up a herbed rice pilaf. Since I was using Basmati rice, I began with 1 3/4 cups water, set to boil- once boiling, I added 1 cup rice along with salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 10-15 mins, until liquid is absorbed.

While the rice cooked, I prepared some aromatics: green onion, fresh basil, parsley and lemon zest. Once the rice was done, I gently folded the aromatics in, added some fresh ground pepper and took a taste- divine:)

Since this was going with hubby to work, I packed everything in a tupperware plate- the peas (my 'handy dandy go to' vegetable) were dressed up with chopped, fresh Thyme, salt, pepper & olive oil.

So in approx 20 mins, I had a lovely, healthy and GF meal ready for hubby- it was greatly enjoyed & appreciated:) ***This meal is great cold, room temp or hot!

I believe we all become accustomed to certain things and lose sight of how important they are, namely people. While I'm ribbing hubby in this post (he's such a good sport!), be assured there are plenty of opportunities that I've taken him & others for granted and had to readjust.

Make it a priority today to express your appreciation to someone special in your life:) ***Sprouts has their salmon on sale this week for $4.99/lb!!!