Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July Desktop Calendar

Happy July! This is always one of my favorite months of the year- summer is in full swing, vacation Bible school, 4th of July, my wedding anniversary, and lots of watermelon eating. Have a great month!

To enjoy this desktop calendar all month long, simply right click on it and save. Then open it and make it your desktop background.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Worldly Summer: Antarctica

The second place in the world Abby wanted to study was Antarctica. So, while it has been 90 degrees here in Texas, we've had fun with cold things inside!

We made a snow globe and decided to let our little friend Olaf live inside. You can see directions here. It really is simple- glue a toy on the lid, fill with water and glitter, screw on the lid, and shake!

The next thing we made was snow! It only took two ingredients and a few minutes to make a big mess, I mean big fun times! Abby's littlest pet shop enjoyed throwing snow, sliding in the snow and burying each other. The directions are here.... just note, it takes a few minutes to set. It felt like shaving cream for a while and then suddenly was more "snow" like. 

We also watched Happy Feet this week and learned a lot about penguins, sea lions, whales and the environment. Such a cute movie!

The library was our trusty friend and we found lots of books on Antarctica and learned about weather, climate, researchers, animals, ice, snow, and even how the Earth and the Sun rotate.

Since there are not people living in Antarctica, our food had to be a little more creative. We made two types of COLD ice cream this week.

Pineapple Whip was delicious and super healthy. We will make this again for sure! I like that it is only 3 clean ingredients and tastes like sweet whipped pineapples.

 Finally, we pulled out my Perfect Pops cookbook and molds and Abby picked Cookies and Cream popsicles. We enjoyed those to conclude our cold study of Antarctica!

It really has been fun and easy to travel the world this summer. I know I am enjoying having some easy activities during the day when swimming and iPad time are done.

To see more of our summer, click here or check out all my World Summer pins here. Next up, we are studying the parts of the world Jesus visited!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Worldly Summer: Mexico

There is a little bit of a homeschool Mom in me, so this summer we are going around the world with my daughter who will enter 1st grade next year. She picked the countries she wanted to study (with a little help from my husband and I) and we've come up with food, crafts, books, movies, and more to study the culture of the people there. We are planning to do this over 7 weeks of the summer when we don't have other big things planned like VBS or vacation. I'll share craft ideas and recipes as we go!

Hola! We visited Mexico for our first world summer stop! 

We studied the beaches of Mexico- Cancun, Cozumel and Cabo and made this fun beach craft with playdoh, salt dough, and a paper plate. See details here

We are keeping this really simple so we checked out books from the library to learn more about the country, climate, people, and history and bought a fun Dora book that helps teach simple Spanish words. It had pull tabs and Abby really enjoyed it. She made us laugh with her deep voice for crab!

We did math with Mexican coins, sampled Mexican candies from the local convenient store, enjoyed Mangonada, and Pioneer Woman's Tres Leches cake. 

I pinned lots of ideas here if you want to preview our summer! This week, we are studying Antarctica! Brr! :)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Chicago for Kids- Our Favorite Places, Food and Travel Tips

My husband, 6 year old and I just returned from a week in Chicago. Everyone has asked me this weekend how was it and I have to say over and over again, I LOVE THAT CITY! Chicago has it all- water, parks, playgrounds, museums, culture, free zoo, awesome food. We had visited before my daughter was born and enjoyed it as adults, but with a kid in the big city for the first time, it was even better!

Both times we have been to Chicago we stayed on The Magnificent Mile. I can't imagine staying anywhere else. It is the big city! Abby loved calling cabs and the big circular doors. We loved all the stores, food and coffee shops within walking distance.

Here are a few of my favorites places to see, places to eat and tips for navigating Chicago!

Favorite Places to See

The first night we walked out to Navy Pier. We ate pizza, rode the swings and the Ferris wheel. It is just fun for kids- everything is lit up, water is all around you, and you can see the city so easily from the Pier. It is a must see! Rides are about $6-$8/person/ride. So, we split up and my husband did the swings with Abby and I did the Ferris wheel with her. The wheel is best at sunset so we did swings, ate dinner and walked the little souvenir shops and then did the Ferris wheel last. Be sure to get a bag of Garrett's Popcorn when you visit. We bought a big bag and snacked on it all week!

Hands down, our favorite place was Maggie Daley Park. It just opened a few months before our trip and was like no other park. 

We visited it twice. The backdrop was amazing! The slides were so creative! Abby had fun running around and being a kid! 

The whole place is just full of laughter and imagination. We really loved it! 

From Maggie Daley park, you can take a fun footbridge over to Millennium Park to see the famous bean and also the Crown Fountains. 

Be sure to pack clothes to change into. Abby loved seeing the fountains spit water out on all the kids. We just rolled her jeans up and limited her fountain time. Lots of kids come in swimsuits!

There is so much to learn in Chicago and the zoo was a must see. It is a free zoo, so there are gates open all around and people in the parks surrounding the zoo. They had picnic lunches, flew kites, and ran all around the grassy fields near the zoo. We took the bus and were there in time for lunch before we started exploring.

We are zoo people- we have visited 8 other zoos and really loved this one. I judge a zoo based upon the ability to not get lost and the ability to see the animals well. I dislike a zoo with the animals all in hiding indoors. We saw everything! They had more monkeys than I've ever seen- big ones, little ones, playful ones, old and tired ones. There is an entire primate house to show all the different monkeys!

Due to rain and chilly temps for us warm Texans, we skipped our beach day and ended up at The Field Museum. It was a great Plan B! This is Sue, she is the most complete dinosaur I believe in the world. Only a small handful of her bones were recreated. This is the museum of natural history which houses animals, culture, and artifacts from centuries ago. 

We also visited the Museum of Science and Industry- our FAVORITE museum. It is all about how science and technology have influenced our world from combines helping farmers or robots building toys. It was super cool and very hands on!

Favorite Places to Eat

We did a lot of really good eating and a lot of walking in Chicago, so it all balances out, right? I sent a request out on social media and put everyone's suggestions into a Word document and saved it on the Google drive so my husband and I could access it. I knew the place, address, hours and food types from peeking online. It helped us decide on the fly!

Here are a few of my favorites... we splurged on Glazed & Infused Doughnuts one morning. Oh so good! I had that giant Lemon Blueberry Toffee doughnut. So good! Plus, they had the best Iced Chai tea I've ever had. Lots of locations around Chicago!

Of course a proper lunch at American Girl was enjoyed!

Chicago is known for their hot dogs and pizza and we made sure to sample some of the best!

I like my hot dog plain- no ketchup, mustard, nothing. Plain! So, this was a lot to take in. Marcus loved them both!

Within walking distance of the zoo was the Chicago Pizza and Grinder Company. It is a tiny little place with a cool history. They make their pizzas in a bowl! They fill it with cheese, then meat sauce and then cover the bowl with bread. It bakes and then as they bring it to the table, they flip it over. It was like a yummy pizza soup inside a bread bowl. Very cool and unique.

We were seated in the back of the restaurant and every table we passed was eating this, so we ordered it. Best decision! Their Mediterranean bread was a thin bread covered in seasonings, dried peppers and cheese. So good and perfect while our pizza cooked.

In the middle of our busy trip, we had a fireworks boat cruise planned out on Lake Michigan. We had made that day lighter and were in the hotel room for naps by 3 PM. We ordered deep dish from Lou Malnatis for dinner and had it delivered to our room. It was so good- the best pizza we've ever had. Normally I don't like deep dish because it is too saucy, but this was just extra cheesy! The salad with sweet vinaigrette was also wonderful. I'm happy to know they ship!

Finally, on our last night in town we ventured to Ed Debevic's. It is a 50's style diner with dancing wait staff, jukeboxes, silly hats and sassy waiters. As in, when I ordered Abby a grilled cheese, he said, "something you could make cheaper at home." It was fun and really good! They are known for the world's smallest sundae. It was cute and the perfect ending! 

Tips for Navigating Chicago

First of all, we went no fancy camera on this trip. I knew I would not want to pull it out! But, I also hate the storage almost full message that always comes at the wrong time! We installed Google drive on our phones before the trip and set up a Chicago folder both my husband and I could access. At night in our hotel room, we would transfer our pictures from everyone's devices into the drive and they were off our phones and easy to access back at home. I'll do this for every trip from now on!

Speaking of technology, I would have been so lost without the Citymapper app and they have it for lots of cities worldwide. It has over 1200 reviews and almost 5 stars! You can easily enter where you want to go- address or just place like The Bean- and it will map it out for you. Then, it will offer you bus routes, train options, walking, or can call an Uber (like a private taxi) for you. It never failed us- we used it over and over each day. 

I feel like we timed a big city trip with our daughter really well- no stroller, she could walk about a mile without complaining, she can stay up late without a nap, etc. But, we still needed a booster seat according to Illinois state law. So, we bought this cheap and light one for $12.99 at Target. We knew if it was lost, we would be okay and also that it was light to carry all around. We were able to pay $1 and coat check it at museums and then the hooks attached onto my husband's backpack easily. The foam cover also comes right off which was good for the rain we experienced! She used it on the plane and whenever we took a taxi.

And speaking of rain, we were pretty bummed to miss out on a Cubs game at Wrigley Field when torrential rain invaded our Tuesday. They cancelled the game as we entered Addison station on the train to exit for Wrigley. It was pretty disappointing. My email was then notified of the cancellation and they let me know my tickets were now good for the rescheduled game on August 24th. I called the Cubs ticket office to see if I could get a refund or if I could use my tickets for the next night's game and was told no. I clearly won't be at the August 24th game since I live 1000 miles away and essentially lost my $100. Because of that, I would recommend buying Cubs tickets online the same day or day before. We didn't need top of the line seats, we just wanted to be in the stadium. Our tickets were purchased 6 weeks out and were the same price online that day.

Finally, my daughter brought along my old iPhone 4s as her own camera and we allowed her to capture pictures of whatever interested her. It really kept her engaged. She loved getting "the shot" and showing us what all she had captured at the end of the day. Here she is checking out her skyline picture at Maggie Daley Park.

Feel free to let me know if you have any questions- I'm happy to answer based on our experience!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Desktops are Back!

Due to popular demand (Hi Lisney!), desktop calendars are back! I took some time off from making monthly calendar desktops, but decided I missed them and enjoy playing with my digital scrapbook software on occasion. So, look for these on the first of each month.

Right click on the picture to save it and then upload it as your desktop background. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

New Powder Room with Tin Ceiling

It sure is hard to get a good picture in a dimly lit powder room, so bear with me!

My powder room was painted baby blue years ago. It was supposed to be a calm blue grey color, but was more of a nursery blue. I've lived with it, until now!

I first pulled down my copper brown mirror and painted it Annie Sloan cream and added a little dark wax in the details. 

Next came the small cabinet over the toilet, I also painted it cream and added dark wax with a tiny little paintbrush. I really love how this cabinet turned out!

Next, it was time for a wall color. I spent lots of time on Pinterest looking at "greige" colors. Since my last color went badly, I knew I needed to get it right this time! I used Sherwin Williams Perfect Greige. After I painted a little on the walls, I took it back and had them add the color in a second time making it 200% color. I wanted a chocolate milk shade of brown. Really creamy and warm, but not really dark.

Next was the ceiling tin project! Since we painted first, we were able to be sloppy in the ceiling. Let me tell you what a blessing that was. Painting a tiny powder room is the worst. I had to sit in funky positions, put my head behind my toilet while straddling it, try and get behind the pedestal sink without getting the sink or pipes coming out of it. It was work! 

But oh the work was worth it! Here is the same ceiling as above with the tin up and the vent cover back on. The tin I had used before on a backsplash in our old house and knew it was easy. It cuts with scissors and applies with heavy duty spray adhesive. It really doesn't get much easier! This time around, it was given to us from a friend with leftovers, but can be found at Lowe's. Our powder room used 9 sheets.

Now it was the fun time to add a few accessories. The crate and twig ball are from Home Goods and the greenery and chicken wire bottle are from Hobby Lobby.

I added a vintage wire basket from Decor Steals to make getting a new roll easier on our guests. Housing it in the cabinet above the toilet was tricky when new paper was needed. 

Finally, I added a preserved cotton wreath above the toilet. It is also from Decor Steals, the newest most dangerous flash sale site I know!

So, what do you think? Want to add tin to a room in your house? 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Five Things I'm Loving Right Now...

Here are a few things that have caught my attention this week...

I wanted a couple of new cover ups for the pool this summer. How cute is this one? And, it is under $30 and comes in different colors and prints!

Next up, if you have dry hair, this Aveda shampoo will change your life. The longer my hair gets, the more it tangles. The more it tangles, the more it looks bad. The more it looks bad, the more I want to cut it off! This shampoo feels like conditioner! It is amazing! I had a sample from my hairdresser and used it every other day and found it had the same effect. Great news, since it isn't cheap!

I want this shirt in my closet. But first, I want it in my size. It is darling! I want to wear it with white pants and pink flats!

As an event planner, my feet hurt onsite! I stand and walk a lot. On the flip side, I am home all day and barefoot and my feet hurt. So, I visited a local store specializing in shoes for people with foot problems. You know the one, with more Birkenstocks than you knew existed. I tried these on and loved them! I wore them Saturday night and both girls with me wanted them, too! They look like cute wedges on the outside, but on the inside, they feel like perfect! Lucky for me, the store was having a big semi-annual sale!

Finally, on Cinco de Mayo we made watermelon mojitos and they taste like vacation. I want them to transport me to a beach in Mexico. Trust me!

We used Fancy Ashley's recipe here and used coconut rum instead of Bacardi and then added in fresh watermelon. Delish!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Teacher Appreciation for under $10

I have been blessed with some wonderful women that have served as teachers to my daughter. So, teacher appreciation is a fun week for me because I get to shop, be creative, and express to them in little gestures all week how appreciated they are.

This year, I took all of my gift ideas from the teacher cheat sheet at Abby's school. The PTA gathers the teacher's favorites into a binder and we can get a copy at anytime to help us gift them well. This has been so helpful to me because Abby's Kindergarten teacher isn't girly like I am, so I would have struggled to find what she liked!

Each day next week, we will be bringing her one of the items pictured above. She loves popcorn, chocolate chip cookies, and gardening. The colored pencils are a vase to hold her favorite flower- carnations. I simply glued 36 colored pencils around a tall melamine glass with my hot glue gun. Everything was purchased at Target.

Finally, on Friday we are giving her a gift card to Target using this cute printable from Landee See Landee Do blog. I usually dislike gift cards, but love them packaged all cute!

Need more ideas- I've got you covered...

Fun crafts to make for the teacher here

Cute little bag of goodies with a tag here or here

Summer goody bag ideas here

Summer pedicure kit here 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Wood Plank Wall- How to make it Random

Over the weekend my husband and I installed a wood plank wall in our living room. This cut out around our TV is large and I've painted it red then painted it brown and I've never thought I did it justice until now. The wood plank wall is a focal point in my living room!

You can find a number of tutorials on Pinterest to install a wall like this. After looking around, we ultimately went with a tutorial from Creative Little Daisy and even took her recommendation on buying a tongue and groove wood. Rather than repeating her tutorial, I wanted to share my system from making the wall look random.

I am type A, super organized and random just isn't in my vocabulary. Doing an 8 foot wall that we stare at watching TV "random" wasn't going to work for me. I needed a system to ensure it would be random. Excel to the rescue! My wall is 99" wide (8'3") and 105" (8'9") tall. I built my spreadsheet with each column representing 1 foot and each row the size of the wood plank- 3.56". 

From here, I started planning out my various lengths of wood to create 8'3" rows. I used a combination of 2 or 3 boards per row and each board went from 2' to 6'3" with a number of combinations per row. Each row combination was given a color so that I could visually see them spaced out on the wall. For example, rows 8, 19, and 30 are all yellow and have a 6' board on the left and a 2'3" board on the right. I added up the color combinations to ensure I had a good balance of rows in column M.

On the next worksheet, I copied my original chart and then removed the colors. I then began applying the various stain choices. I wanted dark, dark with sanding, a medium toned stain, a red stain, grey, turquoise, natural, and then a cream color. You'll see the lengths on each row match the spreadsheet above, but now the colors match the stain colors.

In column O, I counted out how many of each stain color I had and then Excel helped me to determine how long each board was and then how many boards I would need to buy and stain in each color. I ended up buying 7 packages of Evertrue pine boards for my wall. Each package of boards has size 8' boards and cost around $10 at Lowes.

My final spreadsheet took the stained rows and lumped like colors together so that I knew how many boards to paint/stain each color. Knowing my boards were 8' long, I was able to put a 4' and 3' of the same stain on the same row since I would be cutting the 8' board to make a 4' and 3' board.

Now, it was time for my computer work to make it's way to the garage! I started by staining all of my boards. I used a nice paintbrush and a variety of stains seen below. After the paint/stain was dry, I sanded most of them. You want a faded aged look with this project. I used an electric sander and coarse sanding sheets. Everything is stain except the Annie Sloan Provence chalk paint and the Crisp Khaki. Both I already had on hand. Chalk paint sands the best and is always my favorite!

I love that this color combination brings in the red of my hardwood floors, the dark wood of my entertainment center, the turquoise blue of my new dining room, and the weathered grey of my breakfast table.

Once my boards were counted, stained and sanded, I flipped them over and started measuring. I used my measuring tape and drew three things on each board- a cut line for my husband, the board's length, and then where it would appear on the wall. For example, 5' #19A is the first/left board on row #19 and then 3'3" #19B is the second/right board on row #19.

My husband used a table saw to cut the boards. Cutting all 42 boards took only a couple of hours. 

He would cut and hand them to me and I would start stacking the boards together by rows.

We then played around with some scraps to determine the proper PSI for the nail gun. This was a Christmas present he hadn't used yet, so it took a few trys to learn that 55 PSI was good for getting the nail into the board with minimal damage.

Install time! We removed the TV from the wall very carefully joking if my inexpensive little project led to a cracked TV it wouldn't be an inexpensive project anymore! We had already put a small whole in the wall near the TV and again at the bottom near the plugs and had run our wires through it. So, the wall was pretty clean and ready! The random plug for surround sound above the TV had always bugged me and I was happy to remove the cover and just put wood right over it!

Installing the boards was quick! We would line them up and make sure the fit was snug from wall to wall and then staple away! With the tongue and groove, I could snap them together while Marcus came back with the nail gun and we didn't have to hold boards on the wall in awkward positions.

Knowing the size of our TV, we measured out how big of a square to leave around the bracket and kept moving down the wall. We wanted to make sure if we get a bigger TV in the future, the wall won't need adjustments.

Row #30 was the last row and the most work! We ended up needing to remove about 1/2" of the board to make it butt up to the baseboard cleanly. It took a little trail and error, but looks great now.

Overall, the project cost just over $100 for boards, stains, nails, and sandpaper. I think it was $100 well spent when you see the finished project!

Our next project- old ceiling tins in our powder room! The list never ends does it?