Family Staycation: The Milner’s Take A Break

Family Staycation: The Milner’s Take A Break

We finally did it. We finally took a break from our whirlwind of craziness over here and took a vacation! A family staycation to be more exact. It was glorious you guys. Glorious!

Joe called me a few weeks ago when he found out there was an army conference at the Arizona Grand Resort he could attend complete with a military ball. He turned it into a big surprise when he revealed he had booked us for the event PLUS a few days after. A chance to get away, get really dressed up, attend a ball, AND have a blast with our kiddos?! Yes please!

We arrived Friday evening after running around Target for an hour trying to upgrade my swimsuit (I know y’all feel me on this one). The first thing to ignite some serious excitement? The elevator! Honestly, the biggest joys in life come from the simplest of things, and the elevator was definitely one of them. Giggles erupted every time we moved a level not to mention the anticipation of pushing the buttons! Needless to say we tried the take the elevator every time.

The children laughing in the closet

Our hotel room was fabulous, however, the best part was the water park! Arizona Grande has a small water park complete with wave pool and lazy river, which we went around approximately 97 times. What makes me laugh is they loved the hot tub the most. Probably because they could take their puddle jumpers off and practice swimming without Joe and I panicking the entire time. We’d have to drag them out after a while to cool down in the other pools.  Between events we’d break and eat a few snacks we literally smuggled  in through the gate like drug lords….or snack lords ($8.50 for a plate of French fries?! I don’t think so).

Ethan swimming in the wave pool during family staycationJoe and the children sitting on hot tub ledge laughing during family staycation

The children and I goofing off on hot tub ledge during family staycationAlisynne sitting in the wave pool at family staycation

Emma swimming in the hot tub at family staycation

Another big bonus the children enjoyed was eating out for breakfast. They almost never get to do that so going to the “pancake store” (IHOP) was a real treat, twice!

Joe and I were able to have an entire evening and morning together during this trip too. We asked our niece Marina to take the children for the night of the banquet and return them in the morning so we could have a little time just the two of us (bonus of a family staycation!). It was amazing. We both dressed up in some of our best stuff and hit the military ball like a couple of pros. It was a fabulous evening full of other military couples having a great time, eating fantastic food, and a lot of goofing off after the ceremony. In the morning we lounged around and went to breakfast when we felt like it. Time off from the crazy was soooooo needed and thoroughly enjoyed by both of us.

Joe and I getting ready for the military ball during family staycation

Marina brought the kids back that afternoon and we continued our water park adventures for the rest of the day. A few extended family members joined us in our debauchery and even managed to smuggle in an entire Jimmy Johns sandwich. Score! Afterwards we hit the town for a little dinner at a great Mexican place just down the road a ways and headed back for our last night.

The evening was full of giggles as the children played a rousing game of I Spy until exhaustion overtook them.

After checking out early the next morning we continued our vacation a little while longer. We filled up at the “pancake store” then hit the mall for a little fun. Joe bought some new sunglasses (Oakley’s) that are fabulous and I pointed out a few Mother’s Day options, you know, just in case. With ideas in our heads and new shades in our bag we surprised the kids with a stop at the movie theatre to see The Power Rangers movie. Ethan was about as happy as he’d been in the hot tub! The girls enjoyed it too, but Ethan was excited the entire time. Emma was done about half way through. Luckily for us there was one other person in the entire theatre so Emma wandered up and down the stairs.

Our little family staycation was just what we needed. We’ve been going a million miles an hour lately and our family needed a little rejuvenation. The Arizona Grand Resort was the perfect place for us. I highly recommend it to anyone who needs a family friendly vacation spot. Heck, I highly recommend a little get away all together!

Peek-a-Boo Succulent Planter: Thrift Store Swap Reveal!

Peek-a-Boo Succulent Planter: Thrift Store Swap Reveal!


It’s that time of year again! The thrift store swap reveal is here! This is my second year participating in the swap. If you aren’t familiar with the swap let me break it down for you. A group of bloggers got together and were assigned one other blogger to send two items to repurpose, upcycle, and totally make over. These items had to be from a thrift store and couldn’t cost more than $10 total. Fun!

I was given Brenda over at Unique Junktique and sent her some lovelies I found wandering my local thrift aisles. You really need to see what she did with the items I sent her! Seriously though, it’s kind of amazing.

I have the great pleasure of showing you what I did with my thrift store swap items I received from Suzanne over at The Blue Building Antiques and Consignment (P.S. you really ought to see what Suzanne did with her items too). First, let me show you what Suzanne sent me.

The Items

Tada! My items are an old worn out jewelry box with missing drawer and broken music box, and a serving tray. Holy possibilities Batman! I took one look at my jewelry box and knew what I wanted to do. Consequently, that’s the item I’m revealing today. Also, I’ll show you how I did it.

The Reveal

Peek-a-boo Succulent Planter

Check it out! My outdated broken little box received some major love. Succulents are booming right now and I knew I wanted to turn this box into a beautiful planter. Not only that, but the missing drawer made for the perfect peek-a-boo feature into the inner workings of the planter! It’s a peek-a-boo succulent planter! Honestly, I love how this all came together. It took a little work, but boy was it worth it. My kids are constantly peering at the glass and watching the water trickle down when it’s time to feed the succulents.

How To

Prepping the Box

First I dismantled the box and tore out the entire interior, including the music box.

That orange fabric paper was the pits to pull off. I don’t know what type of glue they used, but boy was it effective.  I ended up using goof off and water, and scraping away at it until it finally gave way. But look at the adorable under side of the lid! Score!

The box was in rough shape. I sanded down a few spots and cleaned it up ready for paint.

Next, paint! I chose Cottage White latex paint I had left over from touching up my baseboards. It worked really well. I love how clean and bright it looks here.

Now, you know me. I couldn’t let it stay plain white so  I chose a beautiful stencil and got to work stenciling a design on the lid and box. The greens and grays look stunning on this planter. I love how it turned out.

Now assemble your jewelry box.

Prepping for Succulents

I had to do a little research on the best way to prep my box for the succulents. I didn’t want the wood to warp and get rotten due to potential water issues, nor did I want my little plants to die on me. Here’s what I did.

  1. Line the box with a plastic lining. I used a roll of the big plastic sheets you use when you prep to paint a wall. I glued all the edges down, but kept the “window” open.
  2. Cut glass and glue in place. I bought a replacement glass piece usually used for picture frames at the hardware store (8×10). I measured how much I’d need and cut the glass accordingly using a glass cutter. It honestly took me a few tries to score and break the glass, but I eventually got it. By the way, the glue I used for all of this is the Beacon 3-in-1 advanced craft glue that dries clear. It’s magnificent glue.
  3. Line box with sand or small pebbles.
  4. Add bigger rocks, for air flow and drainage.
  5. Add cactus soil. It’s more preferable for succulents who don’t need tons of water to begin with.
  6. Plant succulents.
  7. Add more rocks if you’d like!

Don’t you love it?! I do. There’s no reason you can’t do the same. Run to your local thrift store and grab a jewelry box for $4 and go to town. I’d love to see what you come up with!

And don’t forget to check out the other fabulous make-overs from our gals!


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Stay tuned to find out what I end up doing with my other fabulous thrift item, the tray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thrift Stores and Their Could-Be Stories

Thrift Stores and Their Could-Be Stories

Thrift Stores: People watching in retail form

Oh the thrift store. Is there a better place to spend a leisurely afternoon perusing the aisles of assorted and organized randomness? There simply is not.

I love to rummage through the incidental knick-knacks and what-nots of other people. It is akin to a glimpse of the life of a random wonderful stranger. Thrift store shopping is people watching in retail form. And we all know how much I adore people watching.

What sent me to my local retailer of thrifted items? Another round of the Thrift Store Swap is upon us and I am excited! Last year we did wreaths plus one other item of our choosing. This year, it’s free reign and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

If you aren’t familiar with this particular swap, I’ll explain. The whole idea is to gather several bloggers who are each assigned one person for whom they must buy two items from their local thrift stores and ship to said person. Moreover, we must transform or upcycle our items into something fabulous.  The beautiful gal I’m sending to is Brenda over at Unique Junktique. She is the queen of repurposing and transforming. You really ought to check her out.

I simply had to share my rummaging escapades for Brenda with you. My fellow dessert dwellers do not disappoint when in it comes to fabulous and ridiculously random finds at the thrift store. Consequently I can’t help but imagine the stories behind a few of these pieces.

The Goods

Would you look at those shelves! They are stuffed with all kinds of glass and ceramic goods. Apparently my fellow dessert dwellers have a thing for shiny glass objects. Equally important to note, there were five shelves identical to this one. FIVE!

What is the story behind these little guys? Perhaps they once adorned the kitchen shelf of a middle aged woman with an adoration for all things piggy. One fateful day, as she dusted and polished her extensive collection of swine oddities a life altering revelation slowly dawned on her. Her true passion isn’t pigs! She’s been living a lie! No, her true passion has always been roosters!

So, her once comical and beloved piggy pile was donated, in hopes that one day, a true piggy lover will find them. Snatch them up. And place them in their new rightful place. Right alongside a sign adorned with a big fat pig that says, “Bacon”.

What about the budding heart surgeon? Was the pressure to slice into the flesh of a dying man, pull out his weak and diseased heart, and repair it to the best of his abilities simply too much? As the result of a massive mental breakdown he tears the diagram off the wall and careens through traffic to the local thrift store. Not even bothering to erase his failures, he unceremoniously dumps the board into the donate pile and drives off. With a stiff upper lip, he wipes away a tear of frustration deciding that perhaps accounting is his future now.

Although glass oddities and medical diagrams are a few favorites of mine, you cannot discount the massive piles of pictures and their frames. Perhaps a giant mountainous purple city scape will bedeck the walls of one lucky man-cave.

Was this the muff of a beguiled bridesmaid? One who, for the life of her, could not understand why the bride insisted on muffs for the entire entourage in the middle of June, in the dessert.  A muff lovingly transformed into a “rocket booster” by my four year old.

No, none of these fabulous items will do for Brenda. You’ll have to wait a little while longer to see what wonderful finds I sent her way.

Before I go, however, I must leave you with one last amazing find.

Honestly! Does it get any better?! It simply does not!

 

 

Popsicle Stick Valentine Frame

Popsicle Stick Valentine Frame

A simple DIY toddler project for Valentines Day!

A while back I was charged with the love and care of several little ones every Sunday while their parents attended various classes.  I absolutely adore my littles and, as you guys probably already know, I love figuring out little projects for them to take home, especially during holidays. So, For Valentine’s Day I decided to put together little popsicle stick frames they could decorate with stickers. I mean honestly, what toddler doesn’t love stickers?! I must say, it was a smashing hit. Not only were they covered in sweet valentine stickers, but so were their frames. Plus clean up was a snap, which is always a major bonus when dealing with toddlers.

Even my six year old enjoyed making one, or four. Now my fridge is super festive with their latest creations and I love it. Who says crafts have to be complicated? Bring on the simple!

Let me show you how I set things up.

Supplies:

  1. Large Popsicle sticks
  2. Glue (hot glue, Elmer’s glue, any glue will do… Ha! That totally rhymes.)
  3. Magnet strips (you can find these at Michael’s or any craft store)
  4. Valentines Stickers
  5. Glitter glue pens (optional). You can also use Sharpies.

How To:

  1. Assemble your frame by gluing the popsicle sticks into a square with two popsicle sticks on top and bottom                                  
  2. Depending on what magnetic strips you bought, it may already have an adhesive backing. If so, peel and stick the magnet to the back. Or glue it.                         
  3. Write l-o-v-e on the bottom corner with either a glitter pen or sharpie.  However, usually I gotta have a little glitter.                             
  4. Let littles go to town with stickers!

I mean honestly, does it get any easier? A little prep work gluing the popsicle sticks is all you need. Also, these would make a fun non candy Valentine if you feel the urge to glue…a lot. Plus, now you have fridge art. If you’re anything like me, my fridge is super full of astounding works of art already, but hey, now they’re framed!

If you want another great idea for a simple valentine, try these Melted Heart Crayon Valentines. They come with a free printable, because I love you.

Beautiful Nursery Decor

Beautiful Nursery Decor

A look into the beautiful nursery decor my sister and I designed

beautiful nursery decor pin

Whenever I hear news of a new baby in the works I instantly get excited. So when my younger sister called to tell me she was expecting her first baby I was over the moon excited not only for her but for me! This meant baby snuggles and cuddles and adorable funny faces to delight in. Honestly who doesn’t love brand new babies?

Another bonus to be had – a brand new nursery to design with beautiful nursery decor! I was never able to design nurseries for my own babies (too little space) so when Emilee asked me to help design her nursery I jumped at the chance. I may have lived vicariously through Emilee and her nursery a little. It was so fun! I never get tired of watching all the planning and decision making come to life. Especially with this beautiful nursery.

Emilee decided on a color pallet of coral, gray, white, and teal. She scoured the internet for fabric choices, wall decals and every other thing imaginable. Once she gathered her ideas we narrowed down her options and planned the layout of the decor and furniture. All this was done over the phone or via skype since we live a state apart.

I made a special trip out to New Mexico to help put together this adorable nursery.

Time for a tour!

Lets start with the wall decals. Can you say adorable? I love this decal because it’s not vinyl. It’s fabric and reusable! We also love the fact that you can design your color scheme on the etsy shop Nursery Decals NMore  to your heart’s content. It’s a wonderful, easy and beautiful way to add some color to your walls. Putting this up was a cinch.

nursery decor tree wall decal

Dresser

Our next step was to tackle an old dresser that we found on craigslist. This dresser took some blood, sweat, tears, and the occasional curse word, but in the end it turned out awesome. We agonized over the colors, knobs, fabric, and details. As soon as the decisions were final we spent a few nights jamming to pandora in the garage and finished this beauty.What do you think?  Oh and P.S. if you like the knobs you can find them at Lynns Hardware on Etsy.

dresser nursery decor and details

Collage Wall

Once the dresser was in place it was time to tackle the collage wall. We spent many hours traveling to little shops and scouring the internet to find just what we needed. Of course we found the majority of our items at Hobby Lobby or Target.   Once we had our decor Emilee and I put our minds together and designed the layout. I think we did a bang up job.

nursery decor collage wall

One particular love I have of this wall are the prints. They are bright, simple, and perfect for the theme we put together. You can find them at a darling little etsy shop called  Printable Beauty Art  . We downloaded the design, printed them out at Costco, and popped them in frames we bought at Hobby Lobby. Easy Peasy.

The Chair

If any of you have tried to put together any room, let alone a nursery, furniture choices are a key element to making it. We had the dresser and the crib was donated by a sweet gal Emilee worked for. Now we needed the chair. You know what I’m talking about. The chair that you’ll be exhaustedly draped over at 2:15 in the morning while you attempt to feed and rock your little one back to sleep so you can shuffle half conscious back to your dreamy bed to await the next round. That chair. This was the one element we were willing to spend a little bit more on. A comfy, supportive, adorable rocking chair. You know what? We finally found what we were looking for and we found it at Target. It’s a simple wing back design by Eddie Bauer accented with white edging and it is comfortable! We love this chair.

Changing Station

Not to be outshone by the chair, the changing station is also a key piece. This is where most of the dirty work happens. So obviously we had to make it adorable. I gave this old changing station to Emilee a while back.  She fixed a broken spindle and spray painted it a stone gray.  We hit several stores in search of the right baskets to fill the bottom slots when we finally stopped into At Home. We found several we liked, however, they didn’t have all we needed. The numbers never added up. We finally settled on the two beautiful white baskets and went in search of the rest. Which we happened to find in Target, again! I found the teal and white baskets at the bottom of a shelf and snatched them up. How great did this turn out? Not to mention the storage!

Details

As with any project, the beauty lies in the details. There are so many detailed elements in this room, it’s hard to picture them all! Needless to say, if it was in the realm of sweet or adorable, teal, coral. or white, we grabbed it. A splash of coral with a few flowers, an adorable little sign, a mobile above the changing station, or a sweet jar filled with hair ribbons. It all adds up to one absolutely darling and functional baby nursery.

nursery decor details

So what do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

Another Year in the Books 2016

Another Year in the Books 2016

Another year done. What can I say about 2016?

With yet another year under our belts it’s time to reminisce. This year brought on more challenges and blessings than I can probably remember, but I’ll give it a shot.

Joe and I

One of the bigger challenges for us this year was the fact that we spent a big portion of the year apart. Joe was sent on several missions and training opportunities for the army spanning from two weeks to eight weeks at a time. This gave us ample opportunity to practice our long distance relationship skills which we are pretty darn amazing at now. This also presented me with the humbling task of asking for help from family and friends on a regular basis. I have to admit, I no longer put up a fight anymore when it comes to my pride. My new motto is, “HELP!” It even comes with a theme song from the Beatles, and it seems to get the job done.

One particular instance that comes to mind is the time Joe was sent to train for a six week stint. The second day of his departure our internet went on strike and the router was throwing an epic tantrum. After 3 hours on skype with Joe trying to fix the issue ( if you’ve ever tried to fix electronics via skype with your spouse you’d know it’s grounds for marriage counseling afterwards) I finally gave in and called my good friends Scott and Stephanie. Within a few hours I had a certified internet genius at my disposal and a new working router. Hallelujah! I’m telling you, give up the pride and embrace your inner humble hot mess of a self. It feels good.

Financial troubles haven’t passed us by this year either. Joe was let go from a great job we both loved earlier in the year. Usually this would send us into a panic, but honestly (and this is where we’ve seen blessings galore) we have been ok! Joe always has plans A thru M in the works, and if those fall through God seems to find us. Opportunity after opportunity have come along that has pushed us through the year. Whether it’s finding a free bed for Ethan (which is awesome and he LOVES it) to being given spouts of work that come right when we need it. Looking back it’s been amazing. We aren’t out of the woods yet, but somehow I think we’ll be just fine.

Alisynne

This amazing daughter of mine has flourished this year. She is a jewel in our family. Her kindness has grown, her talent for learning is unbelievable, and she continues to make friends wherever she goes. She graduated kindergarten and began first grade. Every term she has brought home a certificate of excellence and earns a principal’s prize (ice cream sandwiches!).

Another year down has given us a six year old who learned how to read and now we can’t keep the book case stocked. We are constantly back and forth to the library finding great books for her to indulge in. She’s also become the new bedtime story reader. It’s basically the most adorable thing on the planet to watch your six year old read to two enraptured four year olds.

Her talent for music has really come forward this year. Joe is constantly plunking out notes on the piano and Alisynne is right beside him mimicking his motions. Same with singing. Joe will hit a note and Alisynne will match it. We’ve gotta get her in lessons this next year.

Emma

Emma is a fantastic little girl. She is hilarious! This daughter of mine is always looking for the next funny joke to tell. She is the ring leader when it comes to turning a somber or calm moment into uproarious laughter. She is a powerhouse of personality. I will admit I am a stubborn soul. I have a feeling Emma will eventually beat me. When she gets an idea of how something should be (like the idea that pants are truly of the devil) she sticks with it. This year has brought me a four year old whose love for gluing everything onto anything has multiplied. If it’s even remotely craft oriented she is all over it. She has colored and drawn countless pictures, glued collages of popsicle sticks, wood stars, and colorful paper, and helped me in every craft project I endeavor. It’s so fun.

Ethan

My son is kind of amazing. This year, along with Emma, Ethan began preschool. He adores preschool and his teacher Miss Jenny. We have come to realize that if Ethan enjoys something he can pick up facts and ideas quicker than anyone I know. But if he doesn’t have an interest, it goes straight out the window. When Ethan loves something, he really LOVES it. His newest love is airplanes. If it has a propeller or rocket boosters he’s all over it. He has to be the happiest child on the planet. He constantly shows love to all of us with great big hugs and sneak attack kisses. His mind is continually occupied with thoughts of flight, funny movie quotes (“Really? Blow dart in my butt cheek…”), or feats of daring do.

I wanted to write this down this year, not to remember the bad (like the time Joe was sick for a month straight or when I got the worst color job ever) but to remember that my life is incredibly rich. My van keeps trying to blow up and we’re still not sure where our next job might be, but I have a family who I cannot get enough of, friends who are truly worthwhile, and a home that is a refuge from the crazy…most of the time.  We have enjoyed trips to see grandparents, summer outdoors, and the preparation of a new little niece who’s supposed to be here any day now.  2016 brought personal change and growth, strengthened my need for Christ, and brought this crazy little family joy, laughter, and the occasional dance party. Time to ring in the new year!

 

 

Festive and Beautiful Christmas Yarn Bottles

Festive and Beautiful Christmas Yarn Bottles

Christmas yarn bottles: Inexpensive yet delightful décor.christmas-yarn-pin

Hi everyone! I know it’s been roughly forever since I’ve last posted anything new, let alone did a new craft. Well, tada! With Christmas upon us I thought I’d share something simple, low-cost, and impactful you can do to add something festive to your holiday décor. Now, this isn’t my first wine bottle soiree but I love how these came out, so I simply had to share.

With black Friday and cyber Monday behind me my wallet and budget are pretty much spent. It is my tradition to add something every year to my Christmas décor stash. However, this year my tree decided to give up the ghost and we needed a new one. So out went my décor budget and in came a new tree (which is beautiful). I have to give my husband credit for these. He loved how my last wine bottles turned out and suggested I do another set. Oddly enough, I had some bottles stashed away and pulled them out (I know I know. I hoard craft items like a crazy cat lady hoards cats). I decided on my color scheme and off I went to Hobby Lobby.

After grabbing two skeins of yarn with pretty silver strands threaded throughout I hit the wall of shiny Christmas foliage and whatnots in a desire to find something to adorn my bottles once they were finished. I found the shiniest, silveriest (that’s totally a word) doodads plus a few gorgeous berry patches that were all half off! Perfect! I loaded my goods into my trusty mini van and headed home.

Here’s what you’re going to need:christmas-yarn-bottles-materials

  1. Wine bottles
  2. Yarn
  3. Glue

Funny note here, I had a bottle of craft tacky glue that ran dry halfway through my first bottle. My momentum was going and I didn’t want to stop so I grabbed my daughter’s bottle of Elmer’s glue and it totally worked!

How To:

  1. Clean bottles thoroughly, inside and out. You don’t need to remove the label, just the top wrapper part.
  2. Apply glue to the bottle in sections
  3. Wrap yarn

Honestly, it’s ridiculously easy. Now, for two of my bottles I ended up braiding the yarn to create that peppered look in the middle and base of the neck. I love how that turned out. The braiding takes a while because you need a fairly long strand to wrap it several times, but it’s worth it.

braided-bottle-top

I also toyed around with the idea of adding galvanized letters (which you can find at Michaels) to spell N O E L, or  J O Y, but I decided I liked them better without. Feel free to use my patterns or make it your own.

christmas-yarn-bottles-title

Allow the glue to dry and top off with your choice of doodad or whatnot.  These are great for a table center or mantle. I’d love to see your beautiful project once you’ve completed it.

aerial-christmas-yarn-bottle

If you’re looking for a few more Christmas craft ideas you might be interested in a Sweet and Simple Nativity, or Popsicle Stick Snowflakes!

popsicle snowflake 2red nativity 2

 

 

Thrift Store Swap Wreath

Thrift Store Swap Wreath

Hi everybody! Welcome to my first ever thrift store swap experience! Let me start off by saying this was such a fabulous event to be apart of. You know me. I love anything crafty, especially the chance to revamp something outdated into something fantastic! If you’ve never heard of a thrift store swap, keep reading. Enough chit chat. Let’s head down to the good stuff.

13170536_10154147445239938_1350341565_o

Welcome to the 4th edition of the Thrift Store Swap!

If you are unfamiliar with this swap, organized by Lyn at MidMichiganMom, here are the basics. 14 crafty bloggers commit to buying and repurposing 2 thrift store items. For this edition, one item must be a wreath and both items must cost under $10. .

Sounds easy right? There’s a catch…they are not buying for themselves! Each blogger is surprised with what they must repurpose. So what happens when the unknown challenges 14 crafty ladies?

You get some out of the box tutorials!

All right? Everyone up to speed? Excellent! Let’s dig in to my fabulous items!

I was talking to  Lynn over at Mid Michigan Mom, who sent me a message a while back asking if I’d like to participate in their exchange. A crafting challenge with a wreath and a secret item to upcycle sent by another crafty blogger?!? Yes please! I immediately agreed and off I went to grab my items to send to my crafty blogger, Brittany over at DIY Just Cuz (you should click on her link and check out what she did with the items I sent her!). Not long after I sent my gifts, I received my own from Erlene over at MyPinterventures (oh and P.S. you should totally check out Erlene’s awesomeness)!  Here they are.

Thrift store items

How cute is that wreath already? It’s definitely Fall themed, but adorable. I almost felt bad for tearing it apart…almost.  Along with my wreath I was given three plain clipboards.  I brainstormed for a while deciding on my plan of attack. I had a vague idea for my wreath, and no idea for my clipboards.

Before wreath

After finally formulating plan I made an excursion to JoAnne’s Fabric to purchase the flowers I’d need for my wreath overhaul. I was pleasantly surprised at the beautiful choices they had for silk flowers, plus they were half off, which is always a huge win in my book.  Here’s my final transformation.

After wreath

Eek! I absolutely love how it came out!  A little spray paint, a few gorgeous flowers, and a needle and thread, and voila! I toyed around with several ideas for the sparkly ribbon and finally decided on the banner, and added a few beads for the final touch.

After wreath 2

Here’s how I did it (P.S. It was really simple to do and you should totally give it a whirl).

Supplies:

  1. Small grapevine wreath
  2. Ribbon
  3. Silk Flowers
  4. Berries and Stars
  5. Wire
  6. Spray Paint
  7. Beads
  8. Needle and Thread
  9. Fray Check (It’s a glue)

How To:

1. First I disassembled the wreath’s adornments until I was back to the bare grapevine. Cutting off that beautiful sparkly ribbon almost killed me, but I had to press on.

disassemble wreath

2. I had decided I wanted a white wreath to brighten things up and make my flower colors pop. I had a bottle of white spray paint lying around from other various projects and set to work. Spray painting a wreath is fairly simple. A few coats on either side and I was finished. I have to admit, however, that I began to panic a little after the paint was applied because I wasn’t sure I liked it yet. I even called my sister to ask her opinion. She assured me all was well with my decision so I pressed on.

spray paint wreath

3. I played around with the placement of the orange and white berries and stars. After several different arrangements I concluded that I liked the original layout best and put them back where they belonged and secured them with wire.

place berriessecure berries

4. After a speedy and very productive trip to JoAnne’s Fabric (flowers were 1/2 off! Yay!!) I began my floral arrangements. This took a while. I love playing with flowers and color, but you’ve got to keep it balanced and the colors flowing. After I had arranged a rough draft of my layout I plugged in my glue gun and set to work. Gluing took some creativity. My flowers had to lay a certain way, but still adhere to the vines and berries. A little trial and error with a few of the smaller flowers, and I had it down.

glue flowers

5. I couldn’t let this beautiful wreath walk away without at least some of that beautiful  ribbon to adorn it. I’ve always loved the little flags I’ve seen on other wreaths and thought it would be the perfect crowning piece. I made a small triangle template and cut out several triangles from the ribbon. I put fray check on all the edges to ensure they would remain intact.

cut triangles

6. After the glue dried I grabbed my huge stash of beads and got to work sewing my little banner.  I wanted to make sure the banner had a little weight so it would lay nicely once put on the wreath. I simply put my beads, pierced the top two ends of the triangles, and repeated until I had my desired length.

7. I attached my small banner by tying it on.

Voila! One beautiful spring wreath! I absolutely love how this wreath turned out. It’s one of my favorites.

After wreath 3

After my wreath was finished I moved on to my clipboards. I tinkered around with a few ideas, but in the end I decided on something sweet, simple, and colorful. Tune in next week to see my clipboard reveal!

PicsArt_1462240727985

Overall I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the exchange. I would encourage any of you who are thinking of trying something like a swap to go for it. It’s such a fun way to challenge your creativity, meet other fabulous people, and have fun. You guys know me. I’m always up for anything fun and crafty.

COPENHAGEN (1)

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Here are the geniuses behind these DIY Tutorials. Make sure to check out each one!

Made in a Day

  ReDo It Yourself Inspirations

DIY Just Cuz

5 Kids, a Dog and a Blog

One Crazy Ride

Crazy Organized


 

Read more

Another Renaissance Fair to Remember

Another Renaissance Fair to Remember

The Renaissance Fair. That glorious conglomeration of old world charm, antique costumes, and antiquated speech patterns intermingled with modern day cameras, clothing styles, and people made yet another year of fantastic moments and memories for our crazy little family.

This year’s trip was met with great anticipation. The day of the fair arrived and we dove into this crazy, brilliant, and chaotic world with zeal, and it did not disappoint.  All the classic characters were there: the town crier, the cardinal in scarlet robes awaiting your confession, the jester, the roaming gypsies with their brightly hued musical coin skirts dancing, and a myriad of mythical creatures adorned in glitter greeted us as we meandered through the dusty streets and perused the shops housed in castles and taverns.

faun lady

We had only made our way through the gates a few steps when we chanced an encounter with a pair of highly skilled hammered dulcimer players setting up shop on a small stage. We had met them the year before and sat down to enjoy another rendition of their beautiful melodies. This year, along with their enchanting tunes, they supplied the children with a small wooden puppet who danced a jig to the beat while the children giggled from their seats. Their years of practice together were evident as they expertly executed their individual parts with skilled timing. They were wonderful, and it was the perfect beginning to our day.

After the small concert we made our way through the crowds toward the food. If there is one thing about my family you should know it is that we all love food. My love of food comes in a close second to my love for people watching (no storm troopers this year, dang it). That’s probably why I adore the renaissance fair. It is the best of both worlds.

The food at the fair so darn delicious. Perhaps it’s the atmosphere, the constant aromas wafting through the streets, or the vast displays of people thoroughly enjoying their goodies that provokes us to dash to the nearest establishment and dig in. Whatever the reason, that’s exactly what we did.

Turkey legs as big as your arm, giant crisp pickles, gooey caramel apples, home made nut bars with a creamy center, frozen lemonade, bread bowls brimming with creamy broccoli and cheddar soup, the list goes on and on my dear friends.  Needless to say, we were a group of well/overly fed  people by the day’s end. We basically rolled out the castle doors when the time to go home arrived.

me eating caramel appleEthan and his turkey leg

After our first batch of goodies (trust me when I say we ate the ENTIRE time) we heard the call for the beginning of a fire whip show. Did we want to witness someone crack ridiculously long whips that were set on fire? Absolutley yes we did!

The show itself was brilliant. Our resident whip master was funny, engaging, and quite impressive with his ability to manipulate his whips into a frenzy of cracks that whirled about his head at dizzying rates. He cracked soda bottles in half, cracked rhythms to songs (ok one song, but still impressive), whipped a small cap off the top of his own head, and popped a balloon between a volunteers legs (which was met with bouts of laughter from the crowd as our whip master teased the poor enlisted man about a free vasectomy). The finale of his show had us all wide eyed as he doused a whip in lighter fluid, lit it on fire, and began thrashing the whip around causing intense orange flames to shoot off the whip each time a crack sounded.  This was my favorite performance of the day, hands down.

fire whip and me

After a quick snack (caramel apples this time) a face painting station caught my eye. I hustled the girls over to the little booth and had them choose a pattern.  We waited in line for 15 minutes or so until it was our turn. The artist was quick and skilled and in minutes the girls were covered in bright paint and glitter. They looked adorable and loved their new accessories.

Emma mirror face artAlisynne face artEmma face art

As we stepped down from the face painting platform Joe (my husband) emerged with our son who was now donning a brand new wooden sword and bright red tunic with a golden lion emblem emblazoned on the front. Ethan stood in the middle of the a shaded area, unsheathed his sword from his belt, held it high, and stood 10 feet tall beaming with pride as we all exclaimed our joy over his new outfit. He was the happiest little boy at the entire fair! His confidence and joy only grew as renaissance patrons addressed him as “young sir knight” whenever he crossed their paths. Honestly, it was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

Knight Ethan

Not to be left out of the festivities myself, I made my way over to the Henna Tattoo tent. The last few times we’ve come I missed getting a design and was determined to get one this year. I perused the design book, chose my favorite and waited for an artist to free up. When my name was called I met with my artist, showed her my design pick, then gave her free reign to embellish however she’d like. I loved the end result. Beautiful swirls, cascading dots, and an elegant flower adorned my hand, fingers, and wrist for about a week. I only wish it had lasted longer, but that’s my fault for putting a beautiful temporary piece on a place that is constantly in water and soap. If you’ve never gotten a henna tattoo,  I completely recommend you try one.

henna artist and mefinished henna

We wandered the dusty streets of the renaissance fair perusing the local wares, admiring jewelry and hand crafted mugs, musing about the uses the “fairy dust”, applaud a few intricate costumes, and simply savored our time together. The children thoroughly enjoyed the chance to go on a few rides (all are mechanized with man power), eat more treats (of course), and openly play. The end of the day was nearing. A few last rides, a quick to stop to purchase my daughters a coin skirt like mine, and one last treat had us tuckered out. By the way, if you ever want to witness the most adorable thing ever simply wrap a brightly colored coin skirt around a 5 and 3 year old and watch them wiggle their hips in an attempt to make their skirts jingle. You will be met with cascades of giggles and little faces beaming with amusement. Exhausted but thoroughly entertained we exited our time portal to the past and trudged our way to our mini van with arms full of renaissance wares,  ready for a bath and a warm bed.

The Best Advice I Ever Received as a New Mother

The Best Advice I Ever Received as a New Mother

It’s 3:45 am. The babies are finally fed and asleep… again. I am exhausted. Hopefully I can fall asleep and get a solid two hours before one of them wakes again. I haven’t slept at all tonight. Tomorrow’s going to be brutal. I’ll just try to settle myself. I’m sure I’ll fall asleep soon. Wait. It’s too quiet. I don’t think I can hear anyone breathing. Are they breathing? They should’ve at least stirred a little. Neither of them has moved. Was that a small breath I heard? I can’t be sure. I’d better check. Ok. They’re fine. They’re both breathing just fine. I seriously need to sleep. It’s been two weeks of this insanity. I can’t function if I don’t sleep. Hold on a sec. I can’t remember if I propped them up enough. What if they spit up and choke because they’re flat on their backs? No, I’m sure they’re ok. I barely checked  on them… but I can’t remember for sure. I’d better check again.”

The best advice I ever received as a new mother to my infant twins came from my father and it might not be what you’d expect. Before I divulge this particular piece of advice let me give you a little background as to what was happening in my life during this time.

I was 29 weeks pregnant with the twins when my husband was deployed overseas to Afghanistan for a year. My 18 month old daughter and I hugged him goodbye outside our front door and he left. “Ok. I can do this” I thought. What choice did I have really? Giving up simply wasn’t an option, so I pushed forward the best way I knew how. I called my Mom.

When we first found out my husband was to deploy I reached out to my parents.  “Mom?” I asked. “I know this is a huge favor, but is there any chance I can move back home with Alisynne?” Without a moments hesitation on the other end of the phone I heard, “Of course sweetheart! We’ll get the basement ready for you.” This was HUGE for me. Without the help of my family I don’t know if I would’ve fared as well as I did in the long run. So, the very next day after my husband left my father came to collect my very pregnant self and my daughter and drove us and a small trailer of gear back to my childhood home for the year.

newborn 2

Six weeks later the twins were born. They did well considering they were 5 weeks early, but still had to do 2 weeks in the NICU. On the day they were both released they were so tiny. It was frightening. It was exciting. It was overwhelming. The days back at home were great. I had tons of help from my parents, sisters, and brothers, who were all home during the summer. I felt great during the day. Nights were a different story.

With my husband gone the care of my three children was solely mine. Every diaper to be changed, baby to be fed, and toddler to comfort rested squarely on my shoulders, and I was keenly aware of it.

newborn 1

Fear. Exhaustion. Worry. Anxiety. These emotions are very typical for a new mom. I’ve talked to many mothers out there and most would agree that these feelings are all part of infancy, along with unadulterated joy, ridiculous amounts of love, and elation.

During those first few weeks of my twins being home fear would grab me at night and refuse to relent. Fear of my babies dying while I slept. This particular fear is a common one. Many women have confessed to feeling this way. You may have experienced it yourself. I also endured this fear with my first daughter. Perhaps it was the fact that I was the sole caretaker, or that my twins were still so tiny, or the stress of a deployment in general. For whatever reason this fear became amplified.

I couldn’t sleep. I wanted to, desperately, but couldn’t. My brain wouldn’t stop tormenting me. Even through the fog of exhaustion I could come up with several ways my children might not survive til morning. I would be up and down several times in the night checking and rechecking my babies. Each time they were completely safe, but I wouldn’t believe it. My body couldn’t rest nor could my mind. You can imagine the toll this takes on a new mother. If, by some miracle, I  did finally fall asleep one of the babies would wake. It was a vicious, horrible cycle.

I didn’t want to tell anyone what was going on. It felt absolutely ridiculous. Here I was, welcomed back into my childhood home with open arms, with several younger siblings helping me daily, and I couldn’t get my act together. Not at night anyway. I wasn’t afraid to tell. I was embarrassed at the level my fear and anxiety had gotten to.

Several weeks of this mental torment continued until one morning my father entered the kitchen.

The end of a particularly bad night found me crying into a bowl of cereal. My father, with his tan briefcase in hand,  was on his way out the door to work. He spotted me at the kitchen counter and sat down next to me. As any dutiful and loving father would do, he asked me what was wrong. With tear streaked eyes and an exhausted soul I told my dad everything. I layed out all of my fears and unloaded all of my worry. He hugged me tight for a moment then let me go. He turned to me and gave me this counsel that I’ll never forget.

“Heather. If Heavenly Father decides it’s time to take your babies there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. No amount of worrying or stressing can change that if it’s meant to be. He has entrusted you with three beautiful children to take care of and raise. You cannot do that if you do not sleep. He needs you to sleep. You can only do the best you can. The rest is left to Him.”

Simple. Honest. Truthful. Powerful.

At first the idea seemed a little shocking.  Morbid even. What do you mean there’s nothing I can do?! I’m their mother! It’s my job to protect them, but as I dwelled on what my father had said the truth of his statement hit me right in the heart. He was right.

I was not as in control as I wanted to believe. The only thing I truly had control over were my actions in how I take care of and raise my children, and I was truly doing the best I could. The rest is left entirely up to our Heavenly Father.

There is a quote that I love by a man named Boyd K. Packer, which states, “Fear is the opposite of Faith.” I have come to cherish this counsel as well. I had let a runaway imagination and fear grab hold of me at night. I had completely forgotten to have faith.  Where there is faith, fear cannot be.

As odd as it may sound, this simple piece of counsel gave me permission to calm my thoughts, permission to breathe, and  permission to sleep, which I finally did. My fears were still in the back of my mind, but they ceased their torment. They no longer stole what I needed the most, peace of mind.

To you expecting, new, or seasoned mothers and fathers out there I hope if you find yourself in this very same position, or one similar,  you take a moment to consider what my father said. You too have a great responsibility to do your best with your precious gifts that have been entrusted to you and leave the rest for Him to shoulder. Have faith in yourself. You are marvelous. Don’t let fear strip you of your god-given strength to handle all the challenges and joys new babies bring. After all, you are His child too, which basically makes you amazing.

 

 

 

 

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