Thursday, January 24, 2013

New job + a few love letters

As most of you know, I've been a regular contributor over at Playful Learning since last Spring. I was recently pulled into a larger role with the blog/brand and could not be happier!

I really believe that children have endless potential, and if given the chance and resources can do more than we expect. They can do so much, and they want to learn from us. Parents want to create hands-on experiences and meaningful moments in the lives of their children, yet it's often hard to find ways to connect with them and make your everyday time together more purposeful. If you're looking for ways to do that very thing, I encourage you to check out Playful Learning.

Mariah (founder of the site) has created a wonderful resource for parents and people who work with children. In addition to the blog, she has created successful eCourses all about growing young minds and connecting with children on their level. I went through the courses earlier this year and found myself filling several pages of my notebook with ideas and ways my everyday life with my kids could change for the better. You can also check out her book, which you can find on Amazon or in most book stores.

With Valentine's Day approaching, the focus this month is on small acts that make your children feel loved. I'm over there today talking about the love letters I've been working on for my girls. Hop over to my post to find out more!

I would love to have you join the community over there, and would love to hear your thoughts on living with children here as well!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Make it: Recycled Hearts Garland

Do you have a stash of gift bags somewhere in your house? I was looking through my never ending pile the other day and realizing I will probably never end up using all of those pretty bags. Why not turn them into something I can use now?

I don't always decorate for Valentine's Day, but I've been feeling more festive since we moved into our house. I came across a cute Christmas gift bag from Target in my stash that could easily be used as Valentine's decor and set to work! You could make this garland from any leftover red gift bags/wrap/tags that you may have on hand.

I deconstructed the bag and took a heart punch to it. The garlands shown above are small, about 20-25 hearts each, but I have enough from the bag to make garlands at least three times the size.

Next, I punched a hole near the top and near the bottom of each heart with a small hole punch.

Using an embroidery needle, I threaded some white embroidery floss through each heart, starting by going through the front of the bottom hole and then up through the back of the top hole (except for one-oops! Can you spot it?). Use as many hearts as you like and then hang your festive garland in your home!

P.S. The gold garland is just golden seals folded in half over some pink embroidery floss!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Pony Party Reveal

Well, the big pony party took place this last weekend! There are still bits and pieces of the party strewn around the house, but I would rather be here, sharing the details with you, than cleaning them up! I'm still having a hard time believing A is really three. Ready for a LOT of photos? Okay, here we go...

Due to a last minute change in party dates, I had no time to order pretty party supplies from my favorite places. I was able to order some swirly lollipops and miniature horses as favors (thank you Amazon Prime), but ultimately the local Party City and I had to kiss and make up after several years of avoiding one another. I purchased tons of crepe streamers, a little bit of gold foil wrapping paper, and a few honeycomb balls and called it good.

I recently bought a fun book by illustrator Heather Ross (I mentioned her in my inspiration post) that included a disc full of her whimsical prints to use for the projects in the book. I ended up printing my favorite ones and making party hats out of them. I saved the leftover scraps to make something out of because I couldn't bear to throw those pretty designs away (dorky, I know)!

I couldn't find a pinata I liked (surprised?), so I ended up making one of my own. I free handed a horse head on to an old moving box and cut it out. I traced the shape on to more cardboard and cut that out too. I then taped three inch strips of cardboard from leftover cereal boxes (about 1.5) to both sides, creating a three dimensional effect and connecting the whole thing together. I used crepe streamers, double sided tape, and pipe cleaners (for the eye and hook at top) to decorate the pony. I have to admit, I was a little mad at that thing by the time I was done...

I also made a big prize ribbon out of the gold wrapping paper and some small blank ones for guests to color. The crepe streamers got all fringed up and hung and Addie's horse collection was on display with tiny party hats added here and there. There was also a pony tattoo station and a tiny tall cake (the layers were baked in custard ramekins).

Jeremy made an awesome spread of food and appetizers including potato and bacon bites, pea and mint pesto, pizza, ham and pickle bites, and much more. My children are so lucky to have a Dad who makes everything from scratch, including bread and butter cream frosting!

All in all, it was a great party, even though the almost-three year old had a few meltdowns (see last photo for a visual). Luckily, she rallied and the party ended on a high-note with some winter-coat wearing, starry night pinata bashing! Thank you to everyone who helped and who came to celebrate our sweet Addie!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Loving {January}:

A few things I've been loving lately:

{1} This amazing lip balm! I've been using it on and off for the past few years, but had to restock recently. My lips and skin are having a hard time adjusting to the climate change and this stuff really works! The pretty rose scent is definitely a bonus too.
{2} Cauliflower. Who knew? I recently made this delicious soup (pictured above), and we also made a cauliflower puree last week and served it up with steak. Simply chop and steam one head of cauliflower and then throw it in the blender with some butter and herbs. It comes out light and very creamy (I may have eaten a whole bowl of it)!
{3} Soft waves. I love this look-so romantic! Living in a drizzly climate means sporting straight hair is next to impossible, at least for me. I haven't found the perfect product (suggestions?) or ways of styling my wayward hair, but I'm embracing its tendencies (photo source unknown).
{4} Music by Madeleine Peyroux. Sample a few of her tunes here, or make a Pandora station featuring her music and you'll see why her smoky voice has been serenading me through these dark, gray days.

What have you been loving lately?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Horse (non)sense

Can you believe there's another party to plan around here? This time it's for little Addie. She's been over the moon about all kinds of animals since I can remember, especially horses (she used to line hers all up on her toddler bed). Naturally she's been asking for a horse-pony-unicorn party. I thought I would share a few things that have been inspiring me as I plan...

I'm loving a color scheme that features all shades of pink, orange and a little pop of gold. This idea for hanging honeycomb globes is adorable and I'm loving this unicorn fabric from Heather Ross. You can't have ponies without prize ribbons and I love the three dimensional effect of that cake! And did you know stripey straws come in gold?

I'll keep you posted as things come together. It feels like just yesterday I was planning her first birthday!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Be still my soul.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about this next year of my life. This next year in my family's life. A couple of years ago I did away with actual resolutions and started coming up with "themes" or overall ideas I want to live by.

This year it seems I only have one thing I feel strongly about. Being still. If you were to categorize me as a person you would surely find my name under the words achiever, planner, busy-body, problem solver, person who wants to do it all! I don't think this is a bad thing actually, but slowing down these past few months has made me realize that there are precious little things I am missing when I'm too busy to slow down. Like the way my baby's eyelashes brush his cheeks or how you can catch a glimpse of the mountains at the top of hill if you look for them.

When it comes to the bigger things, there's a beauty in waiting on God and letting things happen organically rather than forcing them or trying to produce outcomes. When I'm trying to control everything I can't see how He's working in my life. There's an ease in being flexible and letting go. Then I can see this Hope I'm holding on to is so much bigger than myself or the things I can do. Most of all, I really want to be present in my life, not always problem-solving in my head, or worrying. Not always with a hand on something electronic (ouch!).

Don't get me wrong, I have goals and plans and things I want to achieve this year. I just feel that stillness and peace are so rarely encouraged in our culture that I need to make a point to myself to strive after them. To slow down and say yes, to enjoy these tiny moments in my life in the midst of my doing. After all, everything we have isn't worth much without the ability to actually enjoy it.

What are your thoughts and goals for 2013?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Favorites of 2012

Before plunging into 2013, I wanted to take a minute to look back at everything that made 2012 great! Here are a few of my favorite happenings and posts from this past year...

We kicked off the year with new business cards and a trip to Alt....

Followed by a special party for A.

We had some fun with moss...

And wood.

We experimented with natural dyes...

and gave our tiny porch a makeover.

Then we made an herb garden in a box.

We played with clay,

and found a house!

We worked on our letter-writing skills...

and made a lamp.

We welcomed our sweet Jack,

and made a book.

Then we dressed up like animals,

and hosted a ticketed dinner.

The days grew colder and we made houses out of paper...

and gingerbread.

What a year! We have been so blessed to move back home and live near some of our favorites. Becoming a family of five has rocked my world in the best sort of way. I'm so happy to have shared this past year with you in this space and look forward to all that is to come in 2013! I couldn't cover it all, of course, but you can find all of our past projects by clicking the "project" button in the side bar.

Was 2012 as crazy for you as it was for our family? I would love to hear all about it. Here's to bigger and better things ahead!

In case you forgot: Favorites from 2011

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Our Christmas in pictures.

The last of our family drove off this morning and reality is calling us after a long Christmas break. We've been riding carousels in the city, making bread, taking walks, discovering new restaurants, visiting the library, cutting down trees, wrapping and opening gifts, eating cobbler, and driving through breathtaking mountain scenes.

How was your break? Did you spend time with the ones you love the most? I'm feeling recharged and ready to jump back into life. I'll be back later with a fun little recap of Swoon in 2012. Meet me here?