Friday, July 29, 2011

{etsy finds} Lovely Baby Gifts from Green Thread Shop!

Babies are on my mind today.  Newly pregnant friends, about to burst many opportunities to celebrate new life!  And boy, do I love to shop for those sweet little ones!  I'm always looking for unique and meaningful gifts, so off I went to my favorite place: etsyAnd look at this amazing shop I found: all WilD by Green Thread!  I was immediately drawn to the simple aesthetic and sweet details. 

1. Bunny Pillow 2. Organic Blanket 3. Onesie 4. Bunny Pillow
I just adore the sweet bunny pillow!  Wouldn't it be so darling tied up with that blanket?  Such a wonderful, unique gift.  Check out their shop here.  What is your favorite?

UPDATE: Nadia was so gracious to offer my readers 10% off anything in her shop.  Use the coupon code: ALLWILD10

Thursday, July 28, 2011

{read along} Mitten Strings for God: TV

Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a HurryTo read the rest of the read along posts, click here.

Oh TV.  What a love/hate relationship I have with you.    

As I read this chapter, with the lovely descriptions of a dusty television and increased amounts of family time, I was intrigued.  Who needs hours of mindless idling when you could be out experiencing life with your family?

But at the same time, I was torn.  Because I like movies.  I like the occasional reality show.  I like cooking shows and HGTV.  

So, like the majority of things in my life, I have decided that for my family, it's all about balance.  Will I allow my kids to watch TV? Yes.  Will they watch gobs and gobs of it? No way.  There's just way too many books to read, Lego creations to build and crafts to make instead!

What about you?  Do you have a TV in your home?  What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

{home} Dining Room Makeover: Board and Batten!

I have seen Board and Batten all over the DIY blogs for months now.  It immediately went on my list of "must do!" because I knew it would be just the thing to add a little character to our builder's grade, non-descript house.  And the stars seemed to align last week, when my sweet husband declared a four-day "staycation" and said we should tackle one of the projects on my list.

And boy, what an adventure.  I used this, this and this blog as inspiration and for some direction.  The process is pretty self-explanatory and easy, just time consuming with lots of painting!

But enough words.  Here is my new and improved dining room:


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

{home} Dining Room Sneak Peak!

Just a sneak peak!  The full post will be coming soon!  Mark surprised me with a little four-day "staycation" and we got a project crossed off of my list: Board and Batten!  More details to come!!


A heads up in case you are in the market for new light fixtures: on our trip to the big blue store, they had CRAZY deals in the lighting department!  The prices were so great that we decided to snatch two light fixtures for the upstairs bathrooms!

Monday, July 25, 2011

{i want to remember} - 7/25/11

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 much the big boys love our little blow-up pool on the back deck.  They have been spending hours out there!  I love to watch them play and imagine together; my favorite so far is policemen with water guns. 

I WANT TO REMEMBER... how all of a sudden, J is everywhere!  He is discovering every inch of our living room and even pulling himself up to standing.  Time is flying with that boy.

I WANT TO REMEMBER... the awesome Craigslist deal I scored!  For months, I have been looking all over for an affordable mirror for above our fireplace.  No such luck...until last week!  I found it on Craigslist and even managed to talk her down $15. 

I WANT TO REMEMBER... how utterly delicious icecream sundaes from McDonald's taste after a day with record high temps (with the heat index, it was 115 degrees!). 

I WANT TO REMEMBER... dance parties after dinner, big wet smooches, and giggling brothers...we are so blessed.

Friday, July 22, 2011

{kids crafts} Marshmallow Structures

M is such an interesting little guy.  The older he gets, the more we learn about how he sees the world.  He is very detail oriented and is particular about things.  He has just recently become interested in Legos and we will find him in his room, surrounded by those teeny pieces, making rocket ships and laser blasters.

So I just knew he'd love this easy, open-ended craft using mini marshmallows and toothpicks.  Mark showed him the idea and he was off!  In hindsight, I think next time, we'll either snap the toothpicks in half when using the mini's or just use regular sized marshmallows.  Our structures were quite fragile!  But we had lots of fun! 

P.S. I'd like to add that while M was in his building element, his brother couldn't take the temptation and just started chowing down.  That boy...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

{in the kitchen} Soft & Chewy Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies

As I mentioned in a previous post, the recipes in my "to try" pile have gotten out of control, so I have been going through them in an attempt to weed through and organize!  Recipe #3 was cut from a magazine and since it calls for a boxed cake mix, it has been in my pile for ages.  I rarely buy boxed mixes, but I found an awesome sale at the store last week and knew it was the perfect time to try this recipe!   

Soft & Chewy Chocolate - Peanut Butter Cookies

1 package devil's food cake mix
4 oz (1/2 of an 8oz. package) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place all ingredients in a large bowl.  Beat with a mixer on low speed for 2 minutes.  Beat on medium speed for 2 more minutes.
2. Shape into 1-inch balls.  Place on baking sheets.  Flatten each ball in a criss-cross pattern with a fork dipped in sugar.
3. Bake 6-8 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are set.  Cook 2 minutes on the baking sheet, then remove to wire racks.

They are small and bite-sized and the boys loved them.  Mark liked that they were chewy and not too sweet.  So another winner!  After three successful sweet recipes, I think I need to find something savory for my next experiment!  My waistline will thank me!  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

{read along} Mitten Strings for God: Simplicity

Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry
I really needed to read this chapter this week.  All of my thoughts these days seem to be turned toward the fall, and the task of preparing for homeschooling and birthday celebrations can sometimes feel quite daunting.

But I totally agree with what Dawn from By Sun and Candlelight wrote about this chapter: "Every holiday has potential to be a wonderful experience for our children, and our children are only young for a short time. We mothers are always aware of that ticking clock ~ there are only so many years to go caroling or egg-rolling or trick-or-treating. And yet, I don't want their holidays to be stretched thin with frantic energy and meaningess activity. I want those memories to be rich and sweet, and I want the meanings of the day(s) to be clear."

I think her thoughts fit perfectly with both school at home and the upcoming celebrations!  So, with that in mind, here are a few ways my little family will embrace simplicity in the next few months:

1. Our boys' birthdays all happen in a six-week time period.  They will only be receiving a couple of gifts from us...and that's okay.  I am challenging myself to find the most perfect gift for that particular child and leave it at that. 
2. Our birthday parties are going to be fun, but not cost an arm and a leg.  I want to include the boys in the party planning and have it be a fun experience for the whole family.  No stress!
3. My mantra with Pre-K this year will be: Just Enough.  Just Enough.  I often fall into the trap of thinking I need to do every great idea I come across. I mean, there is just so much to see in books, magazines and the Internet!  But I know that M doesn't work that way.  So I'm embracing simplicity in schooling: lots of reading, maybe a craft or two, and plenty of unstructured playtime.  And that is just enough.

What are your thoughts on simplicity?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

{chit chat} What's New?

How are you, friends?  I have so many things to tell and share that I thought I would just compile them into one big post! 

  • First of all, have you tried these (our empty bag is pictured above)???  They were totally an impulse buy from the last time we went to the store, but they are excellent! 

  • I'm considering doing this Quilt-Along as a way to use up some of my fabric stash.  My taste has changed slightly since I started sewing a few years ago, but I hate not to use all the yardage I bought.  And this quilt has the potential to use up a lot of fabric!   
  • I just purchased this scrapbook binder to hold the first half of my 2011 Project Life.  This way of scrapbooking has been so liberating for me and I just love that I am completely caught up, almost to the day.   

  • Since M just misses the cut off for kindergarten, we are going to do a Preschool/Pre-K mix this year at home.  I have decided to use Five in a Row with him (with an "around the world" twist) that I think he will love.  Ideas and lesson plans are in full swing around here right now, which I hope to share soon!

  • The boys' room has been put on hold because we aren't sure M is ready for the top bunk just yet.  I think we'll give it a few more months and revisit it then.
  • Because of that, my focus has shifted to finishing up the living room!  We got quite a bit accomplished last fall, but I still have a few projects left.  Inspiration board and to-do list will be coming soon!

  • The heat here has just been unbearable lately, so I am already looking forward to fall.  I know most families are just starting their summer, but with three little ones who aren't in school yet, I feel like we've been having summer since the beginning of May!  I'm so ready for cooler weather!
  • Call me the super planner or just plain crazy, but I've begun brainstorming the boys' birthdays.  The three of them have birthdays within a six week period in the fall, so I have to be organized!  Ideas so far: robots, pirates, police (and baby J's is a secret!)
What's new with you this week?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

{home} Boys' Room Inspiration - Part 2

Well, I'm still in the planning stages for the boys' bedroom.  I'm itching to get started, but here's my predicament: right now, we have the bunk beds separated into two twins.  In order for me to redo the room, they'll need to go back to bunks.  Is M ready to be on the top bunk?  Will he be able to get down safely if he's half asleep and needs to go to the bathroom?  Questions, questions...

So until I figure that part out, I found some more ideas! 
1. I just love this print of two brothers.  I'm considering asking the artist if she can make one with three brothers (we can't forget about J!)
2. This quilt is from Land of Nod.  I love the plaid patchwork.  I go back and forth between making them myself and just buying them.  Time is money, right?
3. I'm also loving this print.  The boys have car sheets so this would go right along.
4. These toy cubbies are great!  I'm thinking we can DIY them ourselves and paint them navy.
5. One more print idea!  This one is so cute: "He was small but his dreams were big"

Thursday, July 14, 2011

{read along} Mitten Strings for God: Quiet

Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry"It's quiet, isn't it, Mamma?" 
We were the only ones home, a rare occurrence since baby J was born.  Daddy had taken the two little boys out for a jog and it was just my oldest and me.  I was reading a novel and M was working on some new Lego creation.  There was silence and we both loved it. 

My favorite part of this chapter:
"Our children are exposed to incessant commotion in the world that exists beyond our walls.  Let home be the place where they can find the peace and quiet they need to make sense of it all.  A place, too, where we can nurture our inner lives without distraction.  The soul speaks softly.  And so I guard our quiet times.  Creativity flourishes in these spaces; grace and peace reside here, too." - page 33, emphasis mine

In a busy house of boys, I have to be intentional with quiet time.  When the day becomes taxing with bickering or meltdowns, I usually respond with quiet time.  No TV, no loud toys...just books, Legos and their imaginations.  It usually does the trick!  What do you do in your homes to help your kids with quiet?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

(giving} Color a Smile

One of the reasons I love the Internet so much is the ease in which information is spread.  I found out about this awesome non-profit from this post.  On their website, Color A Smile has a variety of coloring pages that you can print out and send back to them.  They, in turn, will pass them out to nursing homes and retirement homes - anyone in need of a smile.  Such an easy way to give! 

My kids are little, but they are starting to understand what it means to give to others, so I knew this would a perfect project for our family.  I told M and D that there were some Gramma's and Grampa's who didn't have any kids to draw them pictures, so we were going to color some for them!  The boys jumped right on board and they colored quite a few!  Some will be going to our own grandmothers who need a little cheer and the rest will be mailed off to Color a Smile! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

{in the kitchen} Blueberry Buckle

I'm back again with another delicious treat: Blueberry Buckle!  This one was so delicious, it was gone hours after it came out of the oven!  Enjoy!

Blueberry Buckle

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter (4 Tablespoons), softened
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups blueberries

Crumbly top: 1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons) butter, softened

1. Cream the sugar and 1/4 cup butter.  Add the egg. 
2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir into the wet ingredients, alternating with the milk.
3.  Fold in the berries and then pour into a greased or parchment lined 8x8" pan.
4. Mix together the crumbly top ingredients and sprinkle over the top of the buckle.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  (I had to bake mine a litle longer because it was still raw in the middle.  I just put foil on top for the last 5-10 minutes, so the top wouldn't burn)

Monday, July 11, 2011

{family favorites} Melissa & Doug

There are so many toys out there...and let's be honest, some stuff is just junk.  Cheap plastic with bright colors that lose their appeal in a matter of days.  I'm always on the look out for quality toys and materials.  Here are a few that my boys are really loving these days:

Melissa & Doug 60 Piece Standard Unit Blocks
We bought these blocks for the boys as a Christmas present and they have been well worth the money.  I think the quality of these blocks is great and they are very open ended - we have made everything from towers to houses to robots with them!  We keep these in our living room where they are easily accessible, so they are used often!

Melissa & Doug Jumbo Coloring Pad in Blue (I believe they have a girl verson as well)
This big coloring pad has been a HUGE hit with M.  They are big pages with lots of details in a variety of topics.  We currently have at least three finished masterpieces taped to our fridge as we speak!
What child does NOT love stickers?  My boys loved the different themed pages: dinosaurs, race cars, pirates, and more.  I liked that they were easily removable from coffee tables and walls (put there courtesy of a certain 2 year old...ahem)
What are some of the favorite toys in your home right now?

Friday, July 8, 2011

{read along} Mitten Strings for God: Peace

Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a HurrySee my thoughts on previous chapters here.

"In a society that endorses activity, I think we would all do well to put more trust in stillness.  No matter how busy we are, we can find meaning and renewal in those moments that are available to us.  We can come together in an intimate way, even at the end of a long, draining day, if we are willing to be fully present with our children--to take the time to hear their confidences and to respond from the heart.  We can teach them the value of a deep breath, of a spiritual pause, of rest, if we take the time to learn it ourselves." - page 24

Peace.  Quiet moments to be fully there for my children, without distractions.  This chapter really made me take a step back and look at myself.  I tend to be busy all day long.  Laundry, cleaning, taking care of J, feeding the big boys, projects, more cleaning, more laundry, dinner...somedays it feels like I just never stop!  But Katrina Kenison's words have really challenged me to be more present, to slow down.  How will my boys learn how to be still, how to enjoy each other's company, if I don't exhibit that myself? 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

{i want to remember} - 7/7/11

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 J loves to bang everything together!  His second favorite game is throwing toys off of his high chair.  And so it begins...

I WANT TO REMEMBER... D's sweet little face as he looked intently at my recipe card (like he was reading it) when we baked muffins together.

I WANT TO REMEMBER... M's obsession with all things Power Rangers after Mark discovered you could watch it instantly on Netflix.  I have to limit the number of episodes he watches or he'd have it on all day!

I WANT TO REMEMBER... the excitement in our home when our sweet baby J started crawling!  Seven months old and on the move!  The big boys were his biggest cheerleaders and were hugging and high fiving each other.  It was quite possibly the sweetest thing I've ever seen. 

I WANT TO REMEMBER... relaxing with Mark after the boys are in bed watching episodes of "Deadliest Warrior".  My husband declares that I am "The Greatest Wife Ever." I think he's pretty great too.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

{in the kitchen} Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

I LOVE recipes...maybe too much!  Between my piles of magazine cut-outs, quickly written notes from blogs and websites, and Pinterest!, my collection is just out of control!  So I decided to stop bringing more in until I work through the ones I already have.  Weed out the so-so recipes and just keep the fabulous ones.  And you get to come along for the ride! 

Recipe #1 was one I found on the internet awhile ago and the lazy 4th of July weekend seemed like the perfect time to try it!  I love that I can just pop it in the oven in the morning...those recipes are the best!  My boys' reactions: LOVED it! 

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sugar
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 3/4 cups flour (you may need a little more; you want the dough to be soft, but not really sticky and wet)

Filling: 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1-2 Tablespoons cinnamon

1. Sprinkle yeast over warm water and let stand for 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl or mixer, combine yeast mixture with warm buttermilk, sugar, melted butter, egg, egg yolk, salt and baking soda.  Add in flour to make a nice soft dough. 
3. Knead 10 minutes by hand or 8 minutes in a mixer until smooth and elastic.
4. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly battered bowl.  Turn the dough to coat.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place until the dough doubles in volume.
5. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface.  Roll, pat and stretch the dough into a 14x10" rectangle.
6. Brush the dough with 1-2 Tablespoons melted butter.
7. Mix up the filling (you can adjust the amount of brown sugar and cinnamon to your preference) and spread over the dough.
8. Roll into a cyclinder, then pinch the long seam shut.
9. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 16 slices.  Butter a 9x13" pan and place the rolls in it, swirly side up.
10. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in fridge overnight (8-12 hours).
The next morning...
11. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
12. Let the rolls sit in a warm spot for about 30 minutes.
13. Bake for 25-30 minutes (depending on your oven) or until done.  (I would watch them at around 23-25 minutes, because they start to brown quickly and you don't want burnt cinnamon rolls!)

I made a little powdered sugar glaze (1 cup powdered sugar and 2-3 Tablespoons can add more or less water to get the consistency you prefer), but I'd love to try it again with a cream cheese frosting!  Yum! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

{family} A Walk & a Scavenger Hunt

Thrilled to have their picture taken...and doesn't everyone take their spatula with them on walks?

The weather has cooled off some (HA!  How ridiculous when the mid/high 80's are considered "cooling off"!)   So we've been walking around the neighborhood!  It's fun for the whole family: Daddy pushes our new-to-us double stroller with the big boys and I have J in the Sleepy Wrap.  

On one of these adventures, M was getting quite ansy, so I suggested that he participate in my latest idea: a Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt - Photograph Style!  He is always dying to use the camera, so he was excited!  He sat in the stroller and Mark and I took turns giving him something to find on our walk.  When he saw it, he took a picture.  He had fun and actually took some great shots!  I think we'll be doing this game again soon!


Monday, July 4, 2011

{etsy finds} USA edition

Happy Fourth of July (and hurray for three day weekends with Daddy!)!  In honor of this great holiday, I found some neat Americana-inspired finds on etsy.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 1, 2011

{mamma craft} Grandmother's Flower Hand!

The camera made the colors a little harsh...the picture below is a better representation of the fabrics.

Under piles and piles of folded fabric, I found a long lost project I had started before I found out I was pregnant with J.  Morning sickness took a big toll on me those first few weeks and I soon lost interest in any sewing for most of the pregnancy.  Then came a new baby and juggling being a mamma to THREE, and well...there really wasn't a whole lot of creative energy left.

So it was kind of fun to pull out this long forsaken project and come up with some new ideas.  I decided to stick with just four different fabrics (with a white border), but do a totally new design.  I like to look at tile shop examples for ideas on hexagon placement.  They always have some neat patterns!

Hopefully, these little hexies will turn into a baby quilt.  Can't you picture the colors in a sweet baby girl's nursery? 

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