Friday, July 29, 2011

MAKE: Pom Wonderful

I've been a little obsessed with poms recently. I have seen them featured on numerous blogs and as decoration at parties. In planning my little one's nursery, poms just had to be a part of it. I followed these directions, but was inspired by this image. I plan to add more poms when our new baby is born--the colors will be determined by the gender. For now, I'm happy with my little green and yellow pom hanging alongside a blown-glass sculpture above our rocking chair. I think a few more poms or paper lanterns suspended next to them will be just the look I was going for.
There are a few things you should keep in mind if you make your own pom. It takes a lot of fabric! I keep reading that people use fabric scraps to assemble poms, but there was no way I had that many long scraps. I cut large pieces of fabric into strips. Sharp scissors are oh-so valuable when it comes to cutting the fabric away from the cardboard circle. You'll save yourself some frustration if you use sharp, small scissors. This is such a simple project--no sewing, no measuring--but it does take a bit of time.

While I love the look in a nursery, poms are not just for the kids. A garland of poms would be lovely at an outdoor party. I'm thinking different textures of white fabric hanging from a garland made of white or yellow ribbon. A series of lightweight poms hanging from a chandelier in a bedroom would add beauty and fun to the space. The tissue paper poms look more like flowers and would be lovely in their own way. Perhaps if this baby is a girl she will have a few flowers hanging from the ceiling. Would you add this whimsy to your space?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

EAT: new july resolution

Confession time.

I set my 2011 eat resolution to get more creative with dinner with a dedicated heart, but I have failed. I am still eating veggie burgers and chicken all the time, and have not yet busted into my cookbooks as planned.


However, I recently spotted this recipe for zucchini fries at Delighted Momma and I am reinspired. I'm setting my new July resolution to try making these before my next eat post, and I'll be sure to report back with details.

PS: If I hadn't just eaten dinner, I'd totally make this right now. Immediately want...
image via Delighted Momma

Monday, July 25, 2011

PLAY: Party!

Our sweet Finn has just turned two.  It is hard to believe!

And as his birthday approached we wanted to be sure to make is special.

However, he is not a huge cake eater.

first piece of cake on his 1st birthday - gagging ensued.

So as we got ready to celebrate his 2nd birthday, I started to think outside of the box just a bit.  For as much as he does not love cake, he is thrilled by ice cream. We decided to have an ice cream sundae party.  We had several types of ice cream and all the toppings he could dream of.  He was able to create his own huge and sloppy sundae and he enjoyed every bite of it!

not only did the birthday boy have ice cream, but he started his day with a birthday breakfast!

In thinking about celebrating his birth, I started to dream up all of the different types of summer parties I'd love to throw.

Whit recently mentioned a melon party.  Wouldn't it be lovely?

I would also love to throw a grill only party.  We are fortunate to have a grill that has a burner on the side, and there are so many fabulous ways to grill appetizers, sides, main dishes and even desserts!  It would be fun to do all the cooking outside!  

Martha Stuart has some really amazing summer party ideas.  One of which includes:

A garden pitch-in!  Everyone brings a dish with a the star ingredient being from their garden.

For the last few summers, we have been invited to a "Redneck Crawfish Boil and Slip n Slide Party."  It has been a blast and has been a refreshing change from the average backyard party. 

Growing up, my mom used to let us have Scavenger Hunt Parties.  She would make a great list and we would go around the neighborhood until we found everything on the list.  It was always a blast and we ended up getting lots of exercise, too!

What are your favorite summer party ideas?

Friday, July 22, 2011

NEST: The Whole Shebang

Having only 7 weeks left in my pregnancy, I'm in full-fledged nesting mode. Tomorrow, my mom arrives to help me prepare the nursery, but I have too much on my to-do list for her visit. So, this week has been all about finishing projects. Some of these unfinished projects were embarrassing. Two unpainted spots in our bathroom from months ago. A part of my son's blinds that needed to be cut correctly and installed since he was born. Two half-painted adirondack chairs sitting in our side yard. You know those projects that have been incomplete for so long that you have almost forgotten about them? Those are the ones I want to check off my list.

And, I had some new projects that I wanted to get moving on. Since the crib, changing table and rocking chair will be moving from Griffin's room into the new nursery, it's going to be a little empty in there. Earlier this week, I made a floor cushion for him to plop down on and read. For some reason, I always think that I can figure out how to sew something without a pattern or tutorial, and then I am reminded that I am no sewing genius. While he seems to like the obviously imperfect addition to his room, I think I'll try to find a tutorial before I make a second cushion. (Let me know if you have one to share!)

The rest of my list includes items that might need to be repeated before the baby is born: cleaning all our blinds, cleaning the baseboards in every room, organizing our pantry and freezer, deep-cleaning our carpets, and emptying our basement of all the the stuff we don't use. While I know that transitioning from one child to two will be life-altering and stressful, getting all my ducks in a row will give me a sense of peace.

At what times in your life do you feel the need to get your entire nest in order?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

PRAY: doing good and grace

"And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you." 2 Corinthians 9:14

At bible study last night, we discussed how one of the trickiest things about Christianity is that being a great person doesn't always result in great things happening to you. You can go along and do wonderful things for people all day long, but sometimes, you still have to deal with hardships, and it makes you wonder why God hasn't rewarded you.

I was thinking, though, that while it is hard to have to deal with trying situations when you can't understand why you deserve them, it's equally as amazing in the reverse. Sometimes, we all fall away and do things we shouldn't. We can't always be perfect (most days, yes. but not always.) And in those times, we are given grace. And that is amazing to me. Even when I don't deserve to be blessed, I so often am.

Even though it's hard to remember this when things are difficult, I am really happy to have this new perspective. As a lifelong perfectionist, it's good to be reminded that neither aiming for perfection, nor failing to reach it, will keep me from receiving God's grace.

image via
So while it may be hard to fathom why were are given certain challenges, I think it's important to remember that we are equally as unfairly, wonderfully blessed.

Monday, July 18, 2011

MAKE: Celebration Banner.

I am definitely the most beginning of seamstresses.  I don't actually think I can use the word "seamstress" in association with myself.  "Sewer" perhaps?  

However, even though my skills are rudimentary, this was a project I could certainly handle!

I decided to make a celebration banner for my family.  I have seen many adorable banners of all sorts.  My original intent was to make a birthday banner.  I thought about creating it to say "Happy Birthday!"  But once I started thinking about it more, I realized I wanted to be able to hang it for many of life's other celebrations, not just birthdays.  

Since making it, we have hung it for every birthday, the birth of our sons, the homecoming of our newest baby, and many other great days.

And it was incredibly simple to make.  

I started with a long thick ribbon.  I wanted it to be long enough to hang across our door frame going into our dining room.  

Then, I found many complimentary scraps of fabric around our home.  I cut out the letters to spell "Hooray" and then cut out 12 triangles of fabric.  I sewed the letters onto the front of a triangle and then sewed the other side of the same fabric to the back to cover the raw back of the triangle.  Then, I sewed all of the triangles onto the ribbon.  So easy!  And my whole family loves it!


Friday, July 15, 2011

EAT: Yogurt Making

My first attempt was a disaster. I ended up with kind of smelly milk. Kind of smelly, hot milk. I used a yogurt recipe that simply required a crock pot. I was incredibly encouraged by the enthusiastic comments that readers had left. So, I felt a little stupid when, at the end of the 11 hour process, I had not created yogurt. Then, I found this recipe. It also requires a crock pot, but you'll additionally need some time on the stove and a candy thermometer. You use a couple tablespoons of Dannon yogurt to get things going, but other than that, the only ingredient is milk (not ultra-pastuerized). If you follow the steps, you will make yogurt!

I was so excited about my yogurt that I almost immediately made it again. During the second round of yogurt making, I strained some of the liquid through cheese cloth and a strainer to make Greek yogurt. Then, I was left with whey. I found an Italian bread recipe that makes use of leftover whey from cheese making. It was oh so delicious. And then...I decided that my yogurt needed a companion, so I mixed up some homemade granola to top it off. At the end of the week I was feeling like quite the successful cook.

Have you ever tried making yogurt or cheese?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

PLAY: laptop bag

We've all been there, lugging the laptop to and from work - trying to fit a few emails in between dinner and dessert. And, almost nothing it more unfortunate than the way the big black bag ruins my work attire. Nylon? For real?

I recently stumbled upon the Aleysa bag and I'm kind of smitten. It looks like a purse, but functions like a laptop bag. It comes in lots of fun colors, and has separate storage for cords, so they don't get tangled up with your other items. The best part is the shallow pouch on top for your keys, cell phone, etc. - aka the things I'm normally digging for outside my car.

If I got to carry this puppy to and from the office, I might be more inclined to work after hours more often!

Monday, July 11, 2011

NEST: Simple Packing.

I love to travel.

I love the spontaneous weekend getaway.  I love a long driving vacation.  And I love travel abroad.

However, as much as I love to travel, getting ready for a trip can often seem stressful and burdensome.  Between getting packed, getting your home ready to leave and tying up loose ends, travel can cause some anxiety.

Ash recently posted about finding your home while away from home on a business trip.  Finding comfort and a piece of home while on the road can reduce much travel stress.

Another way I have found to reduce stress while planning a trip is to have a good packing checklist that I always consult prior to leaving home.

Traveling alone I am often amazed by home much I need.  But packing for an entire family is a completely different story.  My children are all small and young, but it is amazing how much stuff they require to be away from home.

After our daughter was born, my husband had an away rotation for several weeks for his job.  My daughter and I would stay home during the week, but would pack up and meet him on the weekends.  After four weekends of travel in a row, I decided it was time to create my packing list.  It has been modified slightly over the years, but I have used it for every trip we have gone on since it's inception.  It was originally on a piece of paper, but after years of consulting it, I decided it was time to have an electronic copy.  However you prefer a checklist is wonderful!

I won't bore you with all of the items on our list, but these are the general categories that the items fall under:

Packing List:

For my husband and I:
Workout clothes
Dress clothes
Casual clothes
Sleeping clothes
Shoes (casual, workout, dress)

Adult Carry-On:
Purse with ID (I alwyas check prior to travel that it is present after one big mishap years ago!)
Cell phone with charger

For the Kids:
A sweater or sweatshirt for each child (regardless of how warm the weather is supposed to be)
Swim suits
Diapers and wipes
Sun hats
Stroller and/or baby carrier
Pack 'n Play
Baby monitor
Their lovies
Travel highchair

Kids' Carry On:
Food and drinks

There are always several extra things that are added or deleted from this list due to the nature of the particular trip.  But I have found that I have not forgotten something crucial since I created our packing list.  It has given me peace of mind that I am not forgetting something vital and has made travel much more enjoyable!

Bon Voyage!

Friday, July 8, 2011

PRAY: Making Peace

It is easier to keep the peace than to make peace. In the past month, that is the one phrase that has stuck with me out of all of the sermons that I've heard. Honestly, I don't remember much else from that particular sermon, but I have continued to return to that simple idea. I've thought about the relationships and situations in my life that make my heart and soul tighten up with bitterness or anxiety. I've thought about how I could stop just trying to survive through those unpleasant interactions and actually make peace with them. At first, I thought it would have to mean changing the relationships or people that make me feel unsettled. But, I don't think that God intends for us to change every single person with whom we cannot find peace. I think God intends to change our hearts. Making peace can mean talking it out or addressing difficult issues, but it can also mean changing our expectations and asking the Lord to fill us with His overpowering love.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

MAKE: water water

This weekend we three are off to the beach! We are joining the rest of the family for our cousin's wedding and could not be more excited.

However, while I'm gone I have to find a way to keep my plants alive. You see, they've been through a lot since I bought them this spring. I've definitely pushed them to the brink of life a few times, but they're still holding strong. I am making it my goal to actually remember to at least give them some water prior to leaving...

However, I recently learned about using a towel to keep them alive. Has anyone tried it? Apparently you just put a towel in a tub or dish, fill it with two inches of water, and put the already-watered plant on the towel. It should keep them fresh for more than a week.

The ones on my porch are way too large to lift, but the ones around my house might benefit from this kind of TLC before I leave. I'll let you know how they look when I get back from the trip!
image via real simple

Monday, July 4, 2011

EAT: Arugula, Pea and "Sausage" Pasta

We have joined a local CSA this spring that allows you to come to the farm and pick some of your veggies each week.

We ended up with bags of arugula and sugar snap peas.  I combined them to make a delicious pasta dish and I thought I'd share the very simple recipe with you.

Arugula, Pea and "Sausage" Pasta

- 1 lb whole wheat pasta
- 1 cup shelled sugar snap peas
- 1 cup arugula, cut into pieces
- 6 Morningstar veggie sausage patties cut into pieces
- 1 T olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- shredded parmesan cheese

1) Cook pasta according to package directions.
2) While pasta cooks, shell snap peas and then place in a saute pan with olive oil over med high heat.  Saute for 2-3 minutes.
3) Add "sausage" to pan and continue to cook until heated through.
4) Drain pasta, reserving about a half cup of cooking liquid.
5) Toss pasta with peas, "sausage," arugula, cooking liquid, salt, pepper and parmesan.


Friday, July 1, 2011

PLAY: Get Fizzy

Courtney and Whitney have both mentioned their love for a glass of fizzy water with some fruit juice added. It's a great way to limit soda intake and curb a craving for a sweet drink. I jumped on the "fizzy water and splash of fruit juice" bandwagon this summer. And, my husband basically took it over. Seriously, I couldn't keep a bottle of carbonated water in the house. While it is not a great expense, I did begin to feel guilty about the number of plastic bottles I was recycling. As you know, it's best not to recycle, but to reuse.

In honor of reusing and reducing (as well as Father's Day), I purchased a Sodastream Genesis for my husband. We are hooked! The machine itself requires no electricity--no cord, no batteries. It's slim, taking up very little space on our counter. Since we're just carbonating plain water, it calls for very little cleaning. It comes with BPA-free, reusable bottles. They feel very sturdy. And, the best part is that it takes about twenty seconds to make a liter of fizzy water, including the time it takes to fill the bottle with water. It might just be the treat you need to get yourself through the hot, hot days of summer.
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