Friday, December 19, 2014

Top Gift Picks for Baby

I've been wrapping gifts and finishing my Christmas shopping today, so in the gifting spirit, I figured I'd stop in and share my favorite gifts for baby. If you are looking for a last minute idea for your little one, check out one of these!

1. B. LucKeys- Little Girl is very curious and goes for all the things in our house that are not toys. Seriously, she will crawl through a sea of toys to get to the one non-toy item in the room. After lots of searching, I found these keys that are very realistic, minus the sharp edges of real keys. She loves them. They are one of her favorite toys, even after owning them for a few months now! I thought $10.99 felt a bit high for toy keys, but the quality has turned out to be worth the extra pennies.
Comes in navy or red.

2. B. HiPhone- After our raving success with the keys, we purchased this phone for Little Girl for Christmas. The pictures don't do it justice. The entire "screen" lights up at once, just like a smart phone does. It makes realistic noises, "calls" the child, and you can even record messages for your child on it! Priced at $11.99, it doesn't break the bank. 
Comes in purple, blue, green, or red. 

3. VTech Learning Walker- I'll be honest, I really wanted a classic looking wooden walker, but it didn't end up fitting into our budget. So, I researched walkers and this one had great reviews. We decided to go with it because you can adjust the wheel tension so the walker doesn't fly out in front of the baby. Several similarly priced walkers do not have this feature and felt cheaply made. Another benefit is the great activity panel on the front. Little Girl loves it! We snagged it on Amazon for $25 last month which was a fabulous price! It looks like the price is $35 now, but it's still a good price and quality compared to the other walkers out there. And, who knows, the price may come back down. 
4. LeapFrog My Own Leaptop- We have the older version of this laptop that we bought for Little Man when we was around 1 or 2. Both kids have loved it! You can have it send "email" messages from you or other family members, it helps with their letters/sounds/numbers, teaches them to spell their name, has songs, teaches animal names/sounds, etc. Little Man used to play with this when we were out shopping and I always got a kick out it when he would "check his email" or "write a new blog post" while riding in his stroller. Multitasking, ha! It comes in at an affordable $14.99 and has held up great through the years. 
5. Infantino Go GaGa Deluxe Twist & Fold Gym- We had a great baby gym for Little Man, but part of it disappeared in our move a couple years ago. We were so sad and after much searching, had to give up and purchase a new gym. We picked this one and were very happy with it! Little Girl was around 4 weeks when we bought it and as soon as we laid her on the mat, she started cooing at it. It was so sweet! She loved it and I was very sad when she outgrew it. Baby gyms are all pretty pricey. This one comes in at the middle at $49.99, but we got it for $35 when it went on sale and had a Cartwheel coupon, so know that it does go on sale! :) 
Hope you all are enjoying this Christmas season so far! 

Image Credits: Target and Amazon

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Checking In + New Recipes I Love

Well, you may have noticed that I fell off of the 31 Days bandwagon. I had to stop. It gave me good momentum to get projects accomplished and I've continued to try to tackle the lingering projects around my home. However, blogging every single day sucked the blogging joy right outta me. I never want to blog because I feel like I have to blog. I want to blog because I love it. As a result, I took a step back for the past month and gave myself a break.

The break has been lovely and was much needed! This year has been hard and ridiculously busy. I didn't realize how much I needed this break, even from something that I love doing. I will not be resuming regular blogging until the new year, but may pop in here and there during the next month or two to say hi.

Today, I wanted to pass along two new recipes I've tried out this month. I've been trying to cook new things recently and am always excited to find great recipes!

The first recipe is Pioneer Woman's Self Rising Biscuits. Oh my word, they're so easy and so delicious! I've made biscuits several times before, but they are never that great. I usually wind up just buying the canned biscuits because I know that they will turn out better. But, these are a game changer for me! I've made them twice and they've turned out great both times!

I followed the directions to a tee except for two minor things--I didn't bother sifting anything and I didn't bother breaking out my rolling pin. With a baby getting into everything while I was trying to cook, I had to take some shortcuts. ;) I simply flattened the dough with my hands. Less dishes, less time, and turned out beautifully!

Image Source: Kevin & Amanda

The second recipe is just downright insane. Insanely delicious, that is. Kevin and Amanda's Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Oreo Pie is so rich and decadent!

Again, I followed the recipe exactly with only two small exceptions-- I don't like dark chocolate, so used half dark chocolate chips and half milk chocolate chips. I also skipped the salt. I think it'd be delicious, but I forgot to buy coarse salt at the store and Jeremy isn't a fan of salted sweets. So, I just skipped that step. Still amazing!

Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Patching and Switching

I'm back today to catch you up on what I did for Days Eleven & Twelve of the 31 Days Challenge where I try to tackle one project per day off of my lingering to do list.

Day Eleven: We hung new shades in our master bedroom. Well, technically, they're old shades, but they're a million times better than what was up there before!

A few months ago, we replaced our downstairs roman shades with 2+" faux wood blinds. Here's some pictures to jog your memory of the shades.
I know replacing them is probably not the most popular decision ever because they were SO cute, but we needed more privacy than the roman shades provided. When the shades were open, people could see straight into our home from the road. And trust me, they looked. A lot. Like, made eye contact with me as I was eating dinner. I finally snapped when a sketchy door to door solicitor looked in as he walked down the side walk, saw me playing with my kids, made eye contact, then proceeded to come up and knock on the door. Creeped me out. 

I hated to get rid of the shades, though, because I truly love them and think they are adorable. In our master bedroom, we still had the awful vinyl roller shades that were most likely original to the house. They were torn, warped from the heat, smelled, and didn't work properly. We decided to toss them and put up the roman shades in their place since the windows are the same size. Privacy is not as big of an issue for the master because of where the windows are and which way they are facing, so the shades work perfect.
They SO MUCH BETTER! Those curtains are cheapies we bought when we moved in just to get by and make our room dark enough at night. I hate them and one day, I'll replace them! 

Day Twelve: We finally touched up all the holes we had spackled a while back. When we painted, we didn't spackle several holes, because we assumed we would hang the same things up on the wall. But, of course, we changed our minds after we painted. This is my hubby stopping to "smile" for the picture of him spackling. This is what I'm working with, people. He's crazy and I love him! And, seriously, who has such perfect teeth?!
I'm super thankful not to have to look at white spackle on the walls anymore!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

So Fresh and So Clean Clean

I know, I know, I'm behind on blogging the 31 Days Challenge. I've actually been keeping up with the projects, I just haven't blogged them yet. We've been really busy the last couple days and I'm super tired. Keepin' it real. :)

To catch you up... for Day Nine, I deep cleaned the fireplace. Thrilling, I know, but necessary. I scrubbed down the brick, mouldings, and grate. I didn't do the glass because the gas service man did that recently when working on our fireplace. I didn't take a picture of cleaning the fireplace, because it looks the same, just less dusty. Here's my favorite picture of the fireplace, though. I can't wait to decorate for Christmas again!
For Day Ten, I shopped online for artwork for the kids bathroom and for our soon-to-be gallery wall. I found a couple ideas for the bathroom and this artwork that I love for one of the frames on the gallery wall. It's by Katy Girl Designs and I really like several of her pieces.
I'll be back with Days Eleven and Twelve!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mirror Mirror on the Wall: Part Two

I finished my starburst mirror today! Thank goodness for the 31 Day Challenge--it provided the motivation I needed to finish this project up and not let it linger on for weeks!

When we left off yesterday, I had the mirror assembled, but it still needed to be painted and I needed to attach a picture hanger.

And here it is today after I glued on a picture hanger and gave it a coat of oil rubbed bronze spray paint!
I like it and love how it looks above the dresser!
Here's the cost breakdown:

Mirror- $2 (Purchased with 50% off coupon at Michaels!)
Skewers-$1
Paint- $4 (Again, purchased at Michaels with their 50% off coupon this week!)

Total: $7

Crazy, right?! I saw a similar mirror online at Target.com for $35 and brand name ones for over $100!

Day Eight is complete!


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mirror Mirror on the Wall: Part One

We're to the one week mark of the 31 Day Challenge! For the challenge, I try to tackle an unfinished project every day. Yay for making it a whole week! 

For Day Seven, I decided to finally tackle making a mirror for our bedroom! I've been planning to make a starburst mirror for above our dresser for two years. Two years! *hangs head in shame* 

The space on the wall above the dresser needs something, but another picture frame would be too many rectangles mixed with all the straight lines of our bedroom furniture. I really wanted something round, so decided a starburst mirror would be perfect. I really like the chunkier mirrors, but our bedroom furniture is dark wood, so something chunky on the wall would be too much. In the end, I realized a slimmer mirror would look best here. 

I won't bore you with a tutorial because there are a bunch of starburst mirror tutorials on Pinterest. I roughly went by this one that uses skewers for the spokes. I did not use a template because our printer is a pain to use, but it really would have saved me a lot of trouble. So, don't be like me! Use the template! 

Here are my in progress phone pictures: the 16 longest length skewers in place first, then the shortest ones in place second, then filling it all in. 
 And here it is all assembled!
I just need to paint it, attach a picture hanger to the back, and hang this bad boy up! I'm hoping to finish it up tomorrow, so check back to see the final project!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Spruced Up Fall Front Porch

For Day Six of the 31 Day Challenge, I gave our front porch a touch of fall. I didn't do anything elaborate, just my typical fall touches...a wreath, mums, and pumpkins. Simple, just the way I like it!

I decided to reuse my wreath from last year. Unfortunately, the bow yellowed really bad in the attic and was looking all smashed and sad. Whomp whomp. I should have put the bow in a space bag, huh?

I ditched the bow and made a new one with some striped burlap ribbon I found for 50% off at Michael's. I love how it turned out!

I like to get a couple large pumpkins for the porch, but because Little Man had a field trip to the pumpkin farm in addition to our yearly family tradition to go to the pumpkin patch, we will end up with a bunch! These little ones are from his field trip. We're hoping to get larger ones when we go to the pumpkin patch as a family!

My mums die every single year, no matter how much I baby them. As I was looking at everyone else's mums last year and wondering what magical thing they were doing to keep them alive, I noticed that the yellow mums consistently looked the healthiest compared to the other colors. I usually go for the burgundy or dark pinkish/purple mums, but I decided to give my yellow mum theory a try this year to see if I'll have better luck. I also usually buy my mums in late August or early September, but I resisted the urge this year and waited until the weather was consistently cooling off. We shall see... They are just starting to bloom!
Do you decorate your porch for fall? Do you go all out or just do a few fall touches? Any tips on keeping mums alive? I sure could use them! :)