Summer is in full swing at our house. Most days are spent outdoors but we still like to come inside for a break from the heat and to try a fun craft. Looking for some fun patriotic crafts to do with your kids (or just on your own!)? If so, you’re going to love what these bloggers have come up with! (Links and credit below the pictures).
I can’t believe another school year is coming to an end. Everyone told me that once your kids start school, time flies. It definitely does! It’s already May and you know what that means? Graduation! If you’re looking for some cute ideas beyond the card with money, here are some great graduation gift ideas. (Links and sources below each picture).
Teacher Appreciation Week is something that is near and dear to my heart because my mom is a retired teacher. Teachers are some of the hardest workers I know. To be responsible for the education of so many different personalities that come from so many different backgrounds is a challenge that most of us are not called to do. And I truly believe it’s a calling.
Some years I give gift cards which all teachers enjoy. But other years, like this one, I like to put together a gift basket for them. Nothing over the top or expensive, just an assortment of supplies to replinish their stock which I know is running low this late in the year. Here is the basket I came up with this year:
Isn’t it cute? What I remember most at this point in the school year was my mom having to go pick up supplies for the last few weeks of school with her own money because by that point, there was no more money in the budget until fall. So I like to do my part and send to her teachers a few things that might help. Here are a few things you can include:
Loose leaf paper
We also write letters to Sophie’s teachers–one from her and one from us as parents, acknowledging their hard work and how much they have meant to us this year.
Are you a teacher? What are some of your favorite Teacher Appreciation gifts?
May seems a little late to be posting my spring porch since I’ve usually got my front porch decorated by the end of March, but hey life happens. This porch was a little different than my normal layers of decor. Partly because I wanted something a little more simple, partly because I have two toddlers who love to play with decorations. Haha! Less is more sometimes, you know?
Anyway, I wanted my porch to feel welcoming and cozy but have a more of a natural decor vibe going on. So that’s what I did. Check it out!
Isn’t that a cute wreath? I found that little gem at Kirklands. The old door was a local find from my favorite antique and junkin’ store, Anything Goes. I love it so much, it has become a staple on my porch.
Next to the door is a pot of faux stems that I found on the Magnolia Market website. (Don’t get me started about Joanna Gaines…LOVE her). The pot came from Hobby Lobby. Just having that touch of green as I walk up to the door makes me so happy and sooooo ready for warm weather.
I’m going on year 3 of my salvaged Cracker Barrel rocking chairs. My husband found them at a yard sale, in pretty sad shape so he brought them home and I brought them back to life. The color now is Annie Sloan Florence, with just clear wax. Before that, it was painted in Annie Sloan Florence with clear and dark wax.
Indoor/Outdoor rugs are great for warming up a porch. This one came from Kohl’s and you may remember it from my fall porch last year!
So what do you think? Have you decorated your porch yet? If you’re in need of some more porch inspiration, check out the Porch Decor page!
Now that the weather is warming up, my family has gone from eating Crock Pot meals all the time to lighter, more snacky food. We’re on the go a lot in the spring and summer months so making big meals just doesn’t work for us. Mini Taco Bites are one of our favorites this time of year! They’re perfect for get-togethers like graduation parties and summer playdates too, Here’s what you need:
Soft taco shells
1 packet Taco seasoning
Shredded Mexican blend cheese
Any other topping you like!
1. Using a biscuit cutter, cut 12 small circles out of the soft taco shells. Microwave for 15 seconds with a damp paper towel covering the shells to soften them. Place them in a muffin tin.
Brown and drain your ground beef and finish preparing it according to the Taco seasoning directions. Set out everything you want to put in your taco bites and layer the ingredients in the taco shells.
I put meat on the bottom, then onions, refried beans, cheese and then topped with Jalapeno peppers.
It’s true. For as much as we depend on Pinterest to find great ideas for recipes, home ideas, and birthday parties, the truth is, someone created that recipe, that game, those birthday decorations. This isn’t a post to shame you for doing it wrong, just a post to educate the everyday Pinterest user on how it works and how you can help those who help to inspire your genius ideas.
Pinterest doesn’t make things. People do.
Let me first say that Pinterest is a WONDERFUL place to get inspired and find ideas. When I’m creatively stuck, sometimes all it takes is browsing through my Pinterest feed to get the wheels turning again. I have found great blogs through Pinterest. My living room was inspired by pictures I found through Pinterest.
But Pinterest didn’t make those living room pictures I saw, a person did. And I didn’t pin another person’s living room to a board and claim it as my own, I was sure to include a link to her original post.
And that, my friends, is the difference.
Sometimes these people work for brands who stage things to look pretty so that you’ll be inspired by that style, trend, or maybe be inclined to purchase their products. Think Pottery Barn.
Sometimes people who work for publications share pics on Pinterest so that you will be inspired by the latest seasonal trend or interesting article with the hopes of you maybe deciding to subscribe to their magazines. Think Better Homes and Gardens.
But most of the time, there is a creator or blogger somewhere sharing their personal projects on Pinterest, fingers crossed, hoping it will inspire someone. Hoping it will be as popular in real life as it is in their heads, and hoping they will generate enough traffic to make back the money they invested on the project. Pinterest helps us generate traffic. Traffic (blog viewers) translates into influence and income. It’s how we make a living. Brands pay us based on our influence. Ad clicks create ad revenue which also creates income. That income allows us to make more things to inspire you as well as build our business. When one person shares our post to Pinterest with a link back to the original post, it helps us a lot. Thank you for doing that if you have!
But wait, it sounds like you don’t want us to make what you share!
No, no! Exactly the opposite! I am beyond flattered when I can inspire someone to make a project or recipe I have shared. My business is to share and inspire.
Unfortunately, here’s what typically happens.
People innocently (or sometimes deliberately) save an image to their desktop. Or they screenshot it on their phone. They copy the text. Then they repost my pictures and my content to social media or their own website as their own, or pin it to a board without a link back to the original post. (This is exactly why I watermark all of my pictures. Bloggers, if you aren’t doing that, start NOW.)
No biggie, right? It’s just a pot roast. Or it’s just a wreath. Actually, it’s more than that. It’s an idea that we brought to life. It is supplies, staging, photography, editing, writing and publishing. That’s why crediting the source is so important. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into that one picture you saw on Pinterest. So when you screenshot a project that I made and copy and paste the entire post to your Facebook page and claim it as your own, you can see why I might get a little frustrated. You’re taking away from my business.
Think of Pinterest as a bulletin board.
Just like Etsy is a marketplace. You may have found a cute shirt on Etsy, but Etsy didn’t make that. A person with an Etsy shop made that. Pinterest doesn’t make Mickey Mouse birthday parties. An individual or company created that and shared it on Pinterest, then a Pinterest user collected those ideas into an album on Pinterest. Pinterest is a fabulous place to go to get ideas, find new trends, learn new things and get inspired. Just do me this favor–If you find something on there worth pinning, make sure a link to the source is included.
I don’t get ideas from Pinterest. My ideas feed Pinterest.
Bloggers, creators, brands…they are the individuals who feed Pinterest. We give Pinterest content. So if you get a weird look from a blogger when she you ask “did you get that from Pinterest?”, understand that all of us at one time or another has been inspired by something we saw on Pinterest. But what you’re showing us is someone else’s work. (It’s probably one of our friends!) We can’t copy it and post it on our blog because someone else has already made that.
So bloggers must hate Pinterest…
Not at all! Thanks to Pinterest, our crafts, decor ideas, and projects have reached more people than we ever thought imaginable! Pinterest is a blessing, when used correctly. It allows creators who might otherwise never be known, gain readership, build their own personal brand and get on the radars of major publications. It’s a great thing. A ton of my readers have found me through Pinterest. It also gives us the opportunity to connect in another way with our readers through our boards.
The moral of the story
- Keep being inspired by the pictures you see on Pinterest!
- Whenever you save or share a pin, make sure a legit link is attached to it.
- Always credit the source.
Happy (responsible) pinning!
Easter is right around the corner and my kids are super excited about it. Sophie is my crafty one and for her, the more Easter crafts to make, the merrier. Are any of your kids the same way? It keeps me busy for sure but it definitely makes the holidays more fun and festive. Looking for some cute and easy Easter crafts to try with your kids? Take a look at these 10! (Links and sources below the pictures).
It’s been a while! Now that baby Luke is almost 5 months old and things are settling down in my house, it’s time to get back to it. A new spring porch is coming soon, as well as some super cute spring crafts. But today, I’m sharing one of my favorite treats!
Whoever decided to start making these brownies in school was a genius. They were always a treat that everyone looked forward to on Fridays at school. I know I did! Before that though, I can remember my Granny making frosted brownies for the holidays and family get-togethers.
Booze. The End. Just kidding (kinda.)
No but seriously, having 3 kids 3 and under AND a 9 year old kicks my tail sometimes. There are a lot of moving parts, a lot of moving body parts really, and anything that can help the cause is welcome at our home.
1. Schedule–sorry my Type B friends, (or maybe sorry to me, I can’t survive without one) a schedule is an essential to maintaining my sanity with a bunch of small kids. We are very schedule oriented and I make no apologies about out. You would be amazed at how annoyed people get when I can’t get together because of nap times. Oh well.
But it serves us and makes life predictable for my kids. Not only do our kiddos know what to expect from day to day, but I do too. I can work in things that are important to me and our family (i.e. blogging and printing out pictures from my phone every Friday. More about that later.)
2. Uniformity–Our kids have the same overnight bags, just different colors. Why? It’s easier to pack, easier to recognize, and easier to find and there are no fights about whose is whose. Their names are embroidered on them. There are a ton of great bags and you might have your own favorites but mine is the Thirty One Zip-Top Organizing Utility Tote. Best $35 I ever spent.
This isn’t an ad. It’s just what I use and it works. It’s got tons of space, tons of little pockets and packs well. All of my kids have one and I haven’t been disappointed yet.
3. Organization–A place for everything and everything in it’s place. Sometimes that means renting out a dumpster and clearing out the excess. So be it. When there is order, there is peace. Trust me. Whether it’s a toy box, Rubbermaid bins, whatever it takes. Create order in your home and it will become 100% more manageable. My favorite organizational tool was made by none other than my dear friend Shara of Woodshop Diaries. She made an 8 hook coat rack for my kiddos–2 hooks for each kid, and a little shelf on top for gloves and hats. It has been a game changer in our hallway. Where there used to be piles on the floor, now everything has a place and everyone has a hooks.
She also made this incredible side table/diaper cabinet for my living room. Shara’s a boss.
4. Routine–Ryan and I are up at 6 am every morning. WE start the day, not our kids. Our lives aren’t based around school schedules. We are up first and set the tone for our house. Summers too? Yes, Summers too. Try it. It sucks for the first couple of weeks but when you start to see how smooth things run in the morning, you’ll be a believer. Your kids become a believer too when they realize ‘hey mom and dad are already up. They’re ready. They got this.’ It was something I did as a single mom, and it’s something I do now. Anything that helps kids know what to expect day to day will help them feel like they have control over their lives. For Sophie, we created a calendar for when she went to her dad’s house. Nothing elaborate but now she knows what comes next. She can make plans.
5. iRobot Roomba–Kudos to my MIL Mona Drane for this fantastic gift. When I head out to pick up Sophie from school, I turn on the Roomba. An hour later, my floor is no longer covered in Cheerios. It’s a great investment and picks up more than you would ever dream. Do I still have to vacuum? Sure. But not nearly as much.
6. Fisher Price Rock N Play–I didn’t have one of these for my first two. For the last two, OMG, what a life saver. Forget the fact that it’s elevated and helps kiddos with reflux, ect…it’s also extremely portable. Seriously, if you’re a new mom, GET A ROCK N PLAY. You won’t regret it. It goes to Grandma’s, goes to the babysitter’s house…it’s a portable bed full of all of their feels and smells. I wish I had gotten one sooner.
7. Help–Confession: I used to think I could do it myself. My family is 3 1/2 hours away in Louisville and I didn’t want to ‘burden’ anyone so I just thought ‘I’ll do it myself! I’m tough, I can make this work.” Yeah. I struggled for a long time unnecessarily thinking that asking for help was weakness. It’s not. It’s smart and necessary. Being Super Mom is not a compliment. It’s an impossible job that exhausts all of your resources and I beg you to quit. Find someone or someone(s) who love your kids and LET THEM HELP YOU.
8. Central Command Center–No one touches our kitchen island now. That’s where the bills get paid, permission slips get signed, where everything that is necessary to run the household happens. Whether it’s the kitchen island, a desk, table or a closet, some place needs to be designated as central command. It takes a lot to run a household efficiently. It deserves a spot. I also invested in an Erin Condren Life Planner to keep everything organized and have not been disappointed. We call my planner ‘The Boss Book’ because everyone in my house calls me Boss anyway. Endearingly. I hope.
Those are some of the things I do to stay organized. What do you do to help keep things in order at your house?
Can I be real with you for a moment? Without you feeling like I need pity or advice? Because seriously, I’ve got this. But can you just hear me out for a sec?
It’s amazing what kids will do to you. Change you. Change your priorities. I was really surprised to find myself so changed by a fourth child. You would think…you’ve done this. Three times. Two times recently. You’ve got this. It’s just one more diaper change, one more bottle. One more nap time. That and he’s so friggin precious and happy. Luke is truly an amazing, happy baby.
Nope. Not at all. Not for me anyway. I find myself running, **running** around my house all day (Fitbit–38,465 steps yesterday…what?!), feeding Luke, putting out toddler fights and fires, trying to time nap times just perfectly so they’ll be rested enough when we go to pick up Sophie.
Oh right, she changed schools after Thanksgiving and now the bus doesn’t go to our house so I pick her up everyday. For the record, it was the most positive thing we could have ever done for her. She LOVES it. She’s thriving. So at 2:20 pm everyday, I wake up 3 kids, load them in the van, sit in the pick up line with Secret Life of Pets playing in the background and get to hear all about Sophie’s day at her new school. Is it worth it? Yes. It was a very, very positive thing. And I love that time in the car with Sophie.
We also learned that Sophie is deaf in one ear and Jack has Sensory Processing Disorder. We do First Steps (early intervention) twice a week to get him caught up for his age and ready for school. He starts Occupational Therapy in 2 weeks. His providers are hopeful. And he has made so much progress over the past 3 months. At 24 months, he couldn’t point, clap, tell us what he wanted, say ‘momma’ or ‘yes’; he basically couldn’t do anything his age. Now he babbles like crazy, says about 10 words and is so much happier and less frustrated. He’s smart, he gets it. Now we just have to get it out of him.
Sophie is being fitted for a hearing aid. After an MRI, they determined there’s no tumor, just unilateral hearing loss. I feel 200% guilty because who misses this? She came home one day and said she was having trouble hearing. I thought ear infection. Allergies. Her speech was completely unaffected and she was doing well in school. I had no idea until she failed a hearing test in the fall that, oh crap, she’s not ignoring me. She really can’t hear. My sweet, smart, super achiever baby is deaf in one ear. Crazy. And amazing how well she has compensated. We really had no clue.
So basically in the last 3 months, our lives have changed in every aspect possible. Truth–I’ve never felt less competent as a mom. I feel like I have failed on so many levels. At the same time, I have complete comfort in knowing that all of this was supposed to happen at this exact time and like any other challenge, God will grant me with the strength and resolve to push through and find solutions.
As you can imagine, I wasn’t out in my office much working. Blogging wasn’t exactly my first priority. Which meant unfortunately, my beautiful 14 x 30 space was being completely being wasted and neglected. That made me sad. Not just the wasted space, but that fact that I worked so hard to get that space in the first place.
So I made some changes. And I have to admit, I absolutely love it now. Instead of it just being a place to go to work, it serves as a retreat for my husband and I when we need to recharge. It also acts as a guest room when family comes to visit. And, Sophie comes out here when she needs a quiet space to do her homework and read. Take a look:
The majority of furniture and accessories came from the stuff I used to stage my house last year. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be posting about all of the systems that I have implemented to help life run smoothly and efficiently in a home with 4 kids. Everything from meal planning to organizing to scheduling will be covered.
Life is extremely different than it was 6 months ago. But I’m excited about these new changes and plan to embrace them like I do everything in life! I can’t wait to share with you.