New Burlap Banners and a Giveaway!

I've used the glue gun for something other than decking out sweet, little ladies!

Remember when I showed you how to make your very own burlap banner {here}?  Well, if crafting and cutting and gluing isn't your deal, you can now bring the cute to your own home without the hard work and burnt fingertips!

Score you banner one of two ways:

  1. Visit my Etsy shop {here} and make your purchase right there.  I'll even give you FREE SHIPPING on your purchase, just use the coupon code: BANNER at checkout.
  2. Enter to win your very own banner (choose from BLESSED, FAMILY, or a Custom Banner -max of 8 flags)
Sound good?  Sounds great!!

Enter to win here:
 a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Gifts from the Heart

For Nate's birthday in October, I brought to girls to Dollar Tree and told them to go nuts.  Find whatever you think you dad would like to have from you.

This idea was genius for a few reasons:

  • Nate and I don't like to spend a lot of money on each other for gifts.  It's like, here, buy me something with my money.
  • The girls had no limits (i.e. no daddy cannot get that 50" flat screen for $3,000)
  • They got to search on their own and find something that was really from them.  The only guidance I gave was "Are you sure you DAD wants that," when they picked out a Hello Kitty coloring book that was maybe more for them, than their good ole Dad.
Nate did the same thing for me this year.  While my birthday isn't until Thursday, we celebrated Sunday night with my parents because they'll be out of town for the Thanksgiving weekend.  I opened the gifts from the girls and lemme tell you - while a huge, flashy gift is always wonderful, these gifts were absolutely perfect.

Avery selected:

  • The Nerds, because who doesn't love pink and purple candy.
  • The Chapstick, in green, because that's my favorite color (and you know how much she loves Chapstick so this is a great sacrifice for her to give these up for me!)
  • The bath mit, which I suspect this is one that she will surely adopt for herself more than it was meant for me.
  • Puzzle glue, more because it's glue, not because I'm a huge fan of puzzles.  I like to craft, and craft with them, so it's something we can use together.
Olivia chose:
  • The pig whisk because I like to cook, and because it's pink (totally a favorite of hers!)
  • A Christmas snow globe that she has the perfect place for when we decorate for Christmas.
  • The angel.  This is the sweetest.  Nate said she took a very long time deciding on the perfect one for me - she chose one about "blessings."  She always says she's blessed to be my daughter.  Sweet, right?
I love handmade gifts from the girls, but you can only have so many handprint crafts.  These are things that they took ownership of and we very proud to give me.  And, even better, didn't break the bank!  I highly encourage you to take a trip with your kiddos for their next gift giving experience.  You'd be surprised at how thoughtful and creative they can be when given full reign over a store!

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Burlap Banner

It's been awhile since I've gotten out my good ole glue gun for the sake of a home craft project.  This was fun, even with the hand cramps over hand cutting letters (twice, because my mom wanted a banner too!)

You can make one yourself to say anything you'd like, and use a multitude of fabrics and ribbon trim, but here's what I used:
  • jute twine (enough for 18" on either end and 1" spacing between banner flags)
  • black felt
  • tiny black ric rac
  • tan burlap
  • transfer web (found at your fabric store's interfacing) - you could also adhere letters with hot glue
  • banner template (I'll show you how I made mine)
  • scissors/rottary cutter
  • iron

I'll spare you the shots of me cutting out my letter templates.  Basically I printed out letters from Word in a font and size I liked (for the record I used Big Carlson in 285 sized font - gave me letters about 3" tall).  Set those aside for when you need to trace the letters (in reverse) onto your transfer paper.

Next I planned out my flag.  To make things a little thicker and sturdy, I wanted to fold over the burlap onto itself, but you could skip that and have an inch or so on the back so that you can glue your twine in place at the end for hanging.

I took my largest, widest letter (the G) to eye ball a good width and went from there.  For my 3" letters, my flag was cut 4.5" wide and 6" tall.  I then measured 4.5" down and drew some angles for my flag points.  

Now it's time to start ironing (if you're using a heat-transfer web to adhere your letters to the flags.)  Follow the instructions on your packaging.  If you do choose to glue them, make sure to open your flag so that your glue doesn't close your flag before you can press in your twine at the crease.

Once all your letters are in place, start with your twine.  I would recommend working from the roll, rather than trying to precut the length.  If you accidentally cut it too short, you'll be in a bit of a pickle.  Measure out 18" and tie a knot.  Measure 1" and start glueing.  Open your flag, lay a bead of hot glue down and press your twine into it.

You can keep going until you're all done, tying off the same 18" at the end of your string.  

If you're in the mood to add a little trim to the flags, you can add it as you go, or when you're all done pressing the flags into the twine.  Dealers choice.  Don't worry about precise measuring.  It's burlap, and rustic and very forgiving.  That goes for the cutting of the flags too - I should have mentioned that.

Hang up and enjoy your work.  Hopefully with minimal burn trauma to your fingertips!


The Little Things...

The terrible twos.
I remember these days.
Two and a half years ago I have my first bout with a smart, strong-willed girl.
And then I had a newborn daughter.
I cringed at the thought of going through it all again.
And I knew I would.
And look who was right.

The tantrums, the potty-training, the blatant disregard for the sound of my voice giving any instruction.
The "No!"
"I do it myself!"
"I don't want to."

And yet here I sit, writing about Miss Belle.
I survived one two-year old (and let's be real honest, the 3s were way worse, they made the term "terrible two" laughable.)
I can surely survive another right?

But instead of griping, as I am so fond of, I wanted to take a moment and find joy and humor in the little things.
Even he tantrums and the "no"

And an extremely long, rough day set this post in motion, so I write it under the guise of being introspective with a glass of wine in hand.

The way she talks.
Avery rarely uses the words "I" or "my" correctly. It's always "mine." 
"Mine paci, mine cup" "Mine please have your iPad"
And the answer to every question is "Mine don't know," followed immediately by the answer she does, in fact, know.
And every baby is greeted with "Hi cutie tootie!" I think she's trying to say "cutie patootie," but that's as made up as the next, so we just roll with it!
And Nate and I are usually some version of "mom" and "dad," but every now and then she calls us "Modder" and "Fadder."

The way she draws.
Her older sister is big into drawing, so of, she must follow suit. Liv can draw rainbows and stars and people and whole scenes that make up a story. Avery draws her version of a smiley face. And the letters A, O, I and V.  She must watch her big sister print her own name. Probably should start writing "Avery" out more so there's no identity crisis later.

Every noise is music to her.
The dings of silverware going into the drawer, her jacket zipper, any sound, sounds like music to her little ears.  I want to remember the simple joy of hearing and learning for the first time. So often, things are just what they are, and at best, an obnoxious sound you can drowned out.  Not to her little, learning ears.

Her obsession with Chap Stick.
I'm not kidding. This girl will riffle through anyone's purse or bathroom drawer to find "mine lipstick!" She totes most around in a little heart-shaped princess tin box like they're gold.  For Nate's birthdays, I tok the girls to the Dollar Store and told them to find anything that they think their dad would like.  Liv hunted the aisles making careful selections, but Avery knew right away: 
Daddy loves blue Chapstick, just like me!
Her most prized possession, willing to share with her good 'ole dad.

She can be unexpectedly sweet.
A random kiss on the shoulder when we're sitting together or how she wants to sit on Olivia's lap while they watch a show. She has her fair share of moments when the last thing she wants is a kiss or a hug, so when she has a moment of affection, they're all the more precious.

There are plenty of #reasonsmytoddleriscrying, but it's nice to remember every now and then that my Baby Belle does smile and make me laugh.


Cardstore Sale! 40% Off Everything!

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Happy Birthday to Me?

It's November.
My birthday month.
Normally, I'd be celebrating ME all month long, all within a very restrained, "no, not me" air.
My birthday is November 28th (in case you want to send a card) and as it so happens every now and then, falls on Thanksgiving.
The last time my birthday fell on Thanksgiving was my 21st birthday.  I took tequila shots with my mother at a townie bar that happened to be open that evening.  It actually was fantastic.  I got to drink and I had a sober ride home (my dad.)
Even aside from the day, I still went out with friends, bought fruity shots and laughed harder than my stomach could bare.

Ever notice that when you have "kid" birthdays to plan, your birthday falls to the wayside a bit?  You no longer gather up everyone to celebrate because it would end up being at 4 PM at Chuck E Cheese?  The luster of a birthday wears, and I love celebrating my kiddos - but its still nice to feel a little love for yourself.

This year, I'm a little less excited.
It has nothing to do with my age.
I think I may make it a few more years and then just celebrate the anniversary of my 34th birthday.
I still question myself when I actually have to answer the question of how old I am.  26?  28?  That seems more reasonable.

Last year was probably the best Thanksgiving I ever had.  The four of us stayed in, wore pajamas, ordered Chinese food and hung out all day long in front of the fire.
Small, casual, relaxed and it included egg rolls.
Say what you will about a Thanksgiving feast, but I had everything I was thankful for.

This year, the "Black Friday" weekend is full of work and family obligation, my parents are out of town and my sister and I are are on less-than awesome terms.
Nate points out, I'll have him.
I'll have the girls.
But it's not exactly the bells and whistles that a gal hopes for.

I'm not writing a pity post.
Surely, if every one of you sent a card come November 28th, I would be brought to tears.
You're happy I was born.
I'm writing because
as wives and mothers we push aside our own parades and cheer at others.
We are often the planners and if you're not there to plan your own party, it may not actually happen.
Not for lack of love, but lack of knowledge or know-how.
Or actually realization that our humility means we want you to do the exact opposite of what we say.

But that doesn't mean we don't want a little fanfare.
And that's OK.
We can want a little pizzaz.
Handprint cards, a few cocktails and an awful rendition of "Happy birthday."
It's the little things that mean the most.
Especially the cocktails.
Those short glasses sure go a long way ;)

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So What Wednesday

I realized that there are now 7 weeks until Christmas and there is a light dusting of snow on my lawn right now.  Remember that whole complaint before about the weather turning cooler and me missing summer?
This isn't helping.

This week, I'm saying SO WHAT:

  • I have been seriously lacking in Instagram photos.  #reasonsmytoddleriscrying hasn't been super active in this house.  Oh wait, SO WHAT THAT'S AMAZING!
  • We let Avery have a sucker the size of her face after she pooped in the potty for the first time on her own. 
  • I drop Liv off every day at school.  This forces me to think that "now I'm out and about, I should do something."  Like go to the gym.  It forces me to workout three days a week.  Oh wait, SO WHAT THAT'S AMAZING!
  • On Saturday we went on a date with another couple and it was awesome.  The only time I thought about the girls was when I realized we were staying out later than we told our babysitter and should probably call to let her know!
  • Every night Nate reads a chapter to the girls before bed and I stay far, far away and enjoy the quiet.  It's great Daddy/Daughter time, and Mom gets to relax.  Oh wait, SO WHAT THAT'S AMAZING!
  • I really, really miss Brody on Homeland.  Carrie's drama is good, but I need him back please.
  • I am more bothered than I should be that apparently in Hollywood, kids trick-of-treat at 2 in the afternoon.  In the real world, kids wait until dark and wear costumes over winter jackets.

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Sleeping Beauties {part 2}

Over two years ago, I wrote about my love of sneaking into the girls' room for that one last kiss before I went to bed.  Looking back at those pictures, the girls were so little.  They seem so big now, which is laughable because in reality they are only 5 and 2.

As a self-admidted sleepy-kiddo watcher, I have found a new thing to love while my kids are counting sheep.

The girls have always shared a room, so we've had over two-and-a-half years of nightly "Go to bed!"  "Quiet down in there!"  "Stop talking and go to sleep!"  We should really just make a recording a la Ferris Bueller and save our voices.  But every night, it eventually falls quiet.

They stop playing,
Stop reading,
Relax and drift off to sleep.

When I was little and shared a room with my sister, we would screw around, but it was always in our own beds.  It wasn't until Molly moved across the hall to her own room that I would sneak out and sleep in her bed.

I was so clever.  My mother would kiss her goodnight, kiss me goodnight and by the time she was down the hall, locking the front door, I was slipping into my big sister's bed.  I was certain my mother had no idea.  Surely, if we were going to bed, my parents were too.  Never mind that it was 7 PM and Murder She Wrote was on.  I haven't even asked if I ever made it back to my own bed in the middle of the night, or stayed there until morning.  I just remember being with my sister, asking her stupid, made-up trivia questions about rhino and elephants and feeling safe.

Twice now, Nate and I have gone in for our nightly kisses and found Avery not in her own bed.
And not in her usual, unusual spots of the closet or the floor.
It's not until we looked above in Olivia's bunk that she was found.
(if you follow me on Instagram, I'm sorry for the repeat, but they're just so stinkin' cute, I can't resist.)

Being a little sister, I know how safe you can feel with a big sister.
Parents are always heroes, but a sister - they're something better.

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Spicy Apple Salsa

Bringing back a favorite from last fall!  Being that it was too cold and rainy for us to ever get to an orchard this year, I needed to dust off some memories and take a look back at last year's trip!

This apple salsa may sound weird, it was really tasty.  Of course, my kids will dip anything in anything, so they gobbled half of it.  It tastes kinda like apple pie filling, with a little heat at the end.  Being that I have no idea how the orchard made theirs, I did some online research, combined a few ideas and came up with this recipe:

1/4 c apple cider vinegar
3 c peeled and diced apples (I used that Harlesons that we picked, but I imagine any tart, firm apple would be great)
1 diced Anaheim pepper
2 Tbsp honey (adjust based on the tartness of the apples you're using)
1/2 diced onion
1/2 diced red pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp red pepper flake (adjust for your spice level)
1/4 c chopped, fresh cilantro

Add the cider vinegar and apples to a large stockpot, and mix over med-high heat.
Mix in all the other ingredients and bring to a boil.  Monitor the heat and boil gently for 7-10 minutes, until the fruit and veggies have softened and the liquid has started to thicken.
Cool completely before serving.

Two ways of serving:
** as a chunky pico
** pureed in food processor or blender for more of the "classic" salsa consistency

The batch I made was enjoyed with roasted gorgonzola crackers from Trader Joes, along with the classic scoops tortilla chips.  I also feel this will be amazing over chicken, pork or even on a crostini with goat or other sharp cheese.  Endless possibilities.

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