Thursday, June 30, 2011

{giving} Box Tops for Joplin

I've been collecting these Box Tops for Education off and on for a few months now.  Having no children in school yet, I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do with them, but at 10 cents a piece, I thought, "I have to clip them!  It's like throwing away money!"

Then, this week, I found a Facebook page about helping Joplin, MO schools (remember that devastating tornado?).  And they are asking for... Box Tops!  So mine are in the mail!  If you are interested in donating as well, check out their page!

On a similar note, I just pulled out my coupons that will be expiring at the end of the month.  Did you know that military families stationed overseas can use coupons up to 6 months past their expiration date?  This website has a list of bases to send them to! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

{family} Mexican Fiesta Night!

Every so often, I get tired of the same old, same old and declare to my fam, "Today we are going to __________!"  The boys are typically excited with my crazy antics and Mark just goes with the flow, bless his heart.  So, after a pretty uneventful couple of weeks, I knew we needed something to change things up a little. 

And after reading about the pinata that was made on Young House Love a little while ago, I knew we just had to make one of our own!  Thus, the theme for Mexican Fiesta Night was born! 

It was pretty cheap for a full day of fun...the only things we bought were balloons (for $1.50) and a couple bags of candy.  Everything else we already had at home.  But spending a day doing an exciting, new craft with the boys...priceless.  Definitely a family memory we will remember (and do again soon!).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

{kids crafts} Recycled Crayons

A great craft to do with the kids on a day when it's too hot to go outside: RECYCLED CRAYONS!  They are so easy and fun to do and the possibilities are endless! 

Here's what you do:
Find a bunch of old or broken crayons.  Remove all of the wrappers.  Break the crayons into small pieces and place into a muffin tin or silicone pan (we used a mini brownie pan made of silicone that I had on hand).  Place in the oven at 275 degrees for 15 minutes, or until melted.  (If using silicone, I recommend placing it on a firm cookie sheet before putting into the oven.)  Remove from the oven and let your new crayons set completely, about 1 hour.  Then, pop them out and color away!  

The boys just loved this project and we came up with a lot of ideas for next time:
  • I would use an Xacto knife to cut slits down the paper before peeling the wrappers off of the crayons.  This step took the longest and we had some trouble with the older crayons (the paper tended to stick more). 
  • I want to try to make crayons in different shapes.  I know they have candy molds at Michaels for pretty cheap, which would work perfectly for this craft!  How adorable would they be as party favors?
  • I think it would be neat to combine two colors into one space.  Once you have them all melted, swirl the colors with a stick! 

Monday, June 27, 2011

{read along} Mitten Strings for God: Mornings

Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a HurrySee my thoughts on chapter 1 here.

Chapter 2: MORNINGS

There are certain perks to having only little ones in the house.  Our mornings tend to be much like the ones described in the book: early morning risers climbing into bed with me for a little extra snuggle time.  I have one sweet boy who likes to curve himself around the shape of my spine, the other who spreads out on the foot of my bed. 

The mornings are early, REALLY early... but they are sacred.  I am embracing this time for its simplicity and simple rhythm because I know this will all change soon.  School, extra-curriculars, sports, friends...the days are going to be filled to the brim before I know it.  Here are some of my thoughts to making our mornings a great beginning to our days:
  • Get up before the boys.  In an ideal world, I would be doing this now, but those boys just wake up so. darn. early!  Hopefully, in a few years, I'll be able to wake up earlier than them and have some quiet time to myself before the business of the day begins. 
  • No rushing.  I don't like chaos and my kids don't work well with a stressed out Mamma.  When our day starts with rushing around, I feel like we all leave the house a little off.  A little frazzled.
  • Prepare beforehand for a peaceful routine.  I am practicing this skill right now, since I know I will need to have it perfected by the time the boys are a little older.  When we need to be out of the house at a certain time, I make a plan of what needs to be done and work backward.  I try to do as much as I can the night before: clothes laid out, diaper bag packed, papers signed, etc.  I think that really helps the flow of our mornings.
What do you do in your home in order to create a peaceful morning?        

Friday, June 24, 2011

{i want to remember} - 6/24/11

Sometimes life gets so busy that I forget to notice and appreciate the little things.  Here are some of the things I am loving this week:

I WANT TO REMEMBER... how D always, ALWAYS remembers to say thank you.  He will actually repeat it and repeat it until you acknowledge him. 

I WANT TO REMEMBER... how J has two teeth at 6 1/2 months old!  I just love his little toothy grin!

I WANT TO REMEMBER... how M colors everything in rainbows!  He will take each little space in a picture and color it a different color.  Sometimes it takes him 15-20 minutes to finish one page, but what an eye for detail and precision.  I can only imagine what his future holds with those qualities!

I WANT TO REMEMBER... how both of the big boys' have taken to wearing baseball caps around the house.  They never liked hats when they were babies and have always fussed when forced to wear winter caps.  So it's a big surprise now that they just LOVE their Cowboys & Boston caps! 

I WANT TO REMEMBER... how great it felt to sew a little this week.  I pulled out my hand sewing and for the first time since J was born, I was able to get a little done!  The ideas are flowing and I can't wait to get a project started!  Perhaps a baby quilt?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

{in the kitchen} Strawberry Cobbler Cake

Oh, how I love strawberry season!  We bought a 2lb. container this weekend for $4!  $4.00!!  That's a super great price around these parts.

After a quick search on the interwebs, I decided to try this yummy seasonal recipe: Strawberry Cobbler Cake!  It's got all the makings of a cobbler, but just a tad more cakey.  How's that for a description?!  It was yummy and the boys gobbled it right up.  In fact, M declared it was the best thing he'd ever eaten, which is HUGE, since he is my straight shooter and frequently likes to tell me when things are "disgusting" or "so gross". 

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Soften 3/4 cup butter and beat on medium.  Add 3/4 cup sugar and continue to mix well.  Add 1 egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla, mixing well.  
2.Combine 1 1/4 cups flour with 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Add to butter mixture, alternately with 1/2 cup milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.   
3. Pour into greased 8" pan.  Pour in batter and top with 2-3 cups of strawberries (which have been hulled and sliced in half), cut side down.
4. Make topping: Mix 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl.  Cut in 1/4 cup chilled butter.  Sprinkle over cobbler.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

{home} Boys' Room Inspiration Board

Being a homeowner for the past 5 years, I have found that I go into decorating (or re-decorating) mode in seasons.  Sometimes I am full force ahead, while other times I am happy to just enjoy the spaces I've created.  After the birth of our sweet baby J, I definitely was in the latter season for awhile.  Soaking in this new little guy was our first priority and I shifted all those projects to the back burner for awhile. 

But now....well now I've got the itch again!  And first stop on the redecorating train is the big boy's room.  It has always been a work in progress, but I really want to make it much more organized and have a quiet, cozy place for reading.

Here are some of the images that are inspiring me lately:
   1.  I like the idea of having buckets or some sort of cool storage next to each bunk for books or "guys".  Something each boy can put their treasures in.
2. I'm leaning toward the blue/red/green color scheme.  Masculine, but still child-like!
3.  I think the boys would LOVE a chalkboard wall.  Put from the baseboard to about their full height would be perfect (and trimmed out to look like it was framed!).
4. I love those red READ letters!
5.  Framing covers of favorite children's books is so sweet.
6. I'm thinking of doing plaid quilts for both beds.  Purchasing them new would be quite expensive...maybe I should think about making them?
7. I just love this idea of turning a closet into a little reading nook.  So cool!  I would have loved that growing up!

The challenge for me is: I don't want to spend a lot of money!  With a little creativity, I think I can pull it off!  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

{giving} Stephanie's Get Well Box

My sweet cousin Stephanie had surgery a few weeks ago and will be recovering for the next 4-6 weeks.  I wanted to send her a little something to lift her spirits and let her know we were thinking of her! 

I purchased a few little things for her on etsy and had such a great experience with each of these sellers!  I'm recording them here, so I can be sure to return again soon.

25 Rainbow Stripe Straws from HeyYoYo

A little bit about the seller (I love to know the stories of the people I purchase from!): "Hey Yo Yo is Amanda Graff, cupcake baker and glitter duster. My diploma is from The Culinary Institute of America in pastry, but I developed my love of all things crafty while working for Martha Stewart Television as a recipe developer. I've currently traded my whisk in for a glue gun and have never been happier."

"Make Your Own Happy" Print from DUDADAZE

A little about the seller: "Mom of three boys who enjoys creating charming little pieces of art. I am a rubber stamp artist for Sugar Nellie, have various other online shops, and a line of figures, shadow boxes and wall art through Demdaco."

DIY Mini Altered Notebook Journal Inspiration Kit from PrettyGirl Supplies

A little about the seller: "We work as a team of aunt and niece. We have always been into crafts and are anxious for new found projects and ideas."


The Packaging: I ran out of tissue paper so I decided I would use a little fabric to wrap up the items instead!  Even the fabric has a story: it is from my grandmother's collection that she has recently passed on to me!  I finished it off with some floral ribbon and a note and off it went to Steph! 

A quick recipe that I included in Stephanie's package: PEACH TEA!  This drink is delicious and so refreshing for summer!  I like it on its own, but a yummy alternative is to fill your glass with half tea/half lemonade!  You can also add a frozen peach to your glass...that's a fun touch when you're entertaining!

Pour 4 cups boiling water over 8 teabags.  Steep for 4-6 minutes.  Remove tea bags.  Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sugar and then add 4 cups cold water.  Stir and chill. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

{family} Father's Day Recap

We had family over to our house Sunday to celebrate Father's Day.  It was really special to be able to honor both my dad and Mark.  The kitchen was just the hubb of activity and in all my preparations, I didn't take a single picture!  Next year I will definitely enlist of the help of someone to take pictures of my table and spread!  :)   

Since I love the details of a good party, here is what we served for Dad and Mark's special day:

The Menu
Kabobs with Peppers
"Man Steaks"
Bacon & Ranch Potato Salad
Crunchy Coleslaw
Fruit Salad

Pink Lemonade
Peach Tea

Blueberry Cheesecake
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Friday, June 17, 2011

{i want to remember} - 6/17/11

Sometimes life gets so busy that I forget to notice and appreciate the little things.  Here are some of the things I am loving this week:

I WANT TO REMEMBER... how easy it was for D to warm up to Nana.  Since he hasn't seen her since last summer, I assumed he would be hesitant and a little nervous.  But he went right up to her and started feeding her play food.  What a sweet memory.

I WANT TO REMEMBER... how the boys yelled "Come on Nana!  Let's kick the ball!" when they were playing soccer in the front yard.  M specifically picked her for his team.

I WANT TO REMEMBER... how sweet it was to hear Nana talking to J.  He loved being with her and gave her many smiles and giggles.  I think she just melted.  

I WANT TO REMEMBER... all the stories that watching my three boys brought back for Nana.  It was so neat to hear her memories, like how Grandpa thought it was silly when she said, "Nakie babies".  Such amazing (and so personal now, for me as a mother) family history. 

I WANT TO REMEMBER... how nice it feels to be with family, how special our relationships are.  How much we are loved.  We are so, so blessed.

{etsy finds} Maine edition

I'm missing family today, so I thought I would share a few etsy finds (all Maine artisans!)that remind me of summers in Maine.

1. Kids Maine Tee   2. Beachcombing Series 8x8 Photograph   3. Seaglass Earrings in Light Green

P.S. Check out the treasury I made on etsy too: Summer on the Coast

Thursday, June 16, 2011

{family} Our Mini-Vacation to the Beach!

Last week started poorly.  We had just made the decision not to travel to Maine for vacation this year.  Financially, it just didn't make sense, not to mention the 14 hour car ride with three little boys!  So, although I knew it was the right choice, I was pretty sad.  It's hard being a grown up.  

Add to that an air conditioning unit that stopped working AGAIN!  And during a heat wave with temps in the high 90's all week!  We were all a cranky, unhappy mess.  So Mark totally won the husband of the year award when he declared on Thursday: "Pack your bags!  We're headed for an over-nighter at the Beach!"  

We drove down Thursday afternoon and checked into the hotel by dinnertime.  He had just enough points saved up from staying in a hotel during a business trip, making our stay free!  We got dinner, bought a new $5 movie at Target, and settled in for the night.  The boys love staying in a hotel, so it was quite the treat.  

Bright and early the next morning, we were up and ready to embrace the day.  Perks of having early risers: we got to the beach around 8:30 and were the only ones there!  It was utterly amazing.  I think we all just stood in awe at how beautiful it was.  M, as usual, was in his element, going back and forth between sand castles and "fighting" the waves.  D was more hesitant and a little freaked out by all the sand but he quickly warmed up and was soon way out in the water with Daddy!  J was his little happy self (as usual) and even took a nap on our beach blanket.  

Needless to say, it was such a wonderful day and exactly what we needed to get away from the monotony.  We left around lunchtime, just as the beach started to fill up.  I left feeling so much love for my little family.  And so much love and appreciation for my wonderful husband!  I am blessed. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

{read along} Mitten Strings for God: Dailiness

Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry
Okay, I'll admit it: I am your typical Type-A, over-achieving first born.  Growing up, I liked working hard towards a goal and I gave 110% in everything I did, whether that be school, sports, or my job.  Five years and three children later, I am realizing that for me, motherhood is no exception.  I love my vocation and I want to do it well. 

So one of the ways I am trying to better myself as a mother is to read great books.  Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry was recommended to me by my own wonderful mother (who deserves a blog post all her own).  I plan on going chapter by chapter and writing down some thoughts.  Care to join me?

Chapter 1: DAILINESS
I have been pondering this first section for days! I can honestly say, during my first few years of motherhood, savoring the everyday life was hard. As much as I enjoyed experiencing each day with my baby, the mundane was a hard adjustment.  These seemingly insignificant things: laundry, dishes, feeding the baby, vacuuming...  I realized I could resent them or embrace them. 

It has taken practice to acknowledge that now is not forever and that these days are fleeting.  Here are a couple of ways I am embracing the sacredness of everyday life:
  • Take the time to fully connect with each child.  I try to spend a little time with each of my boys each day, and be 100% theirs.  Whether it's reading a book or playing with "guys", I try to be with them with no distractions, no technology.
  • Divided Photo Pocket Pages - Design AParticipate in Project LifeThis is my second year participating in this scrapbook system and it has done wonders as to how I see the everyday!  I try to take a picture everyday, whether it be of the boys or just things that make me happy around the house.  Then on the journaling cards, I write a little something about that day.  Project Life has made me much more intentional in embracing our everyday.  My favorite part is the ease in which I can write about the little things: the funny things the boys say, a cute story.  All things I would hope I could remember, but would quickly forget in the bustle of life.  I think these scrapbooks with be priceless in the years to come.
Stay tuned for Chapter 2!

"So, for their sakes as well as my own, I remind myself to slow down and enjoy the day's doings.  The daily rhythms of life, the humble household rituals, the nourishment I provide --these are my offerings to my children, given with love and gratefully received." - pg.14

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

{in the kitchen} Southwestern Cobb Salad

Summer is upon us and it is hot, hot, hot!  I rarely have the desire to be in the kitchen lately, so I've been on the lookout for easy, no-fuss dinner recipes!  We recently tried this one (we adapted it from Cooking Light) and it was sooo good!

Southwestern Cobb Salad
  • 8oz. skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into pieces (for an even faster meal, you can also use rotisserie chicken.  This is also a great recipe for using up leftover chicken)
  • about 3 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 8 cups torn romaine lettuce (or one big bag that you find prepared at the store)
  • 1/2 cup pico de gallo (fresh salsa is usually found near the bagged salads in the produce section)
  • 1/2 cup diced avocado
  • 1/2 cup cheese - some in our family prefer just shredded cheddar, while others are more adventurous and like feta or pepperjack
  • 1 15oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
Preparing the salad is so easy.  If you haven't cooked the chicken, just toss in a pan and saute until no longer pink.  Then, toss everything together into salad bowls and enjoy!

Monday, June 13, 2011

{i want to remember} - 6/13/11

Sometimes life gets so busy that I forget to notice and appreciate the little things.  Here are some of the things I am loving this week:

I WANT TO REMEMBER... D's hysterical new dance moves.  He walks on his tippy toes, pointing out in different directions and his head is cocked to one side.  So strange and yet so funny!

I WANT TO REMEMBER... how J will grab the big boys' faces and dive in for a kiss.  M & D are quite patient and actually volunteer for the "pinch kiss".

I WANT TO REMEMBER... how lucky we are to have air conditioning!  Our A/C was out for three days and of course it happened during a heat wave!  With the temperature reaching 90 degrees inside the house, it was quite uncomfortable to say the least!  We are all so thankful for that cool air (and our A/C guy who saved the day)!

I WANT TO REMEMBER... the sound of M's belly laughs.  They seem to come only occasionally (lately he's become quite a serious boy) but once he gets laughing, there's just no stopping him!  This week, I was reading our very first chapter book aloud (Uncle B's old Ninja Turtles), and used a voice that he thought was so funny.  He belly laughed until he couldn't breathe!

{giving} Sarah's Wedding Gift

Found here
One of my dear friends from college is getting married next month!  The wedding is far away in Montana so I won't be able to attend.  Such a bummer!

Since I can't be there in person, I wanted to send Sarah and her beau something really special.  If you know me, you know that I hate just purchasing something off of a registry!  I have been searching off and on for a few weeks and today I found it!  THE perfect gift!

This print is from hope ink and I was immediately drawn to it.  I think it is a great verse to live by, especially for newlyweds.  Now I want one for our house!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

My Great Gram and the story behind the Big White Farmhouse

Once upon a time, in a big white farmhouse, there lived a sweet woman named Helen.  And what a great woman she was!  Truly, if you knew her, you just loved her!  She was a wife and mother, a teacher, a friend...and my great-grandmother.
Growing up, we were only able to visit her a few times a year.  And yet, those visits are some of my most precious memories.  I can still picture her waiting for us on her front porch, waving as we pulled in the drive.  I remember all of the yummy dinners we ate around the big kitchen table, the room loud with conversations.  I remember the holiday celebrations, her house filled to the brim with relatives and friends just stopping by. 
Her big white farmhouse represents home for me.  It represents family.  It represents time spent together.  And at the end of the day, those are all things that matter most in life, right? 
I named this blog in honor of my Great Gram and her beautiful farmhouse.  This is the journal of my journey to live each day as she did, intentionally and full.  Join me!
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