Free Family Fun

This weekend we took advantage of some free family fun offered by our local equestrian center

that happens to be only 1 short mile from our house.

The kids had a great time!

Admission/parking…Free!

Horse rides…Free!

Face painting…Free!

Balloon guy…Free!

Magic show…Free!

Yummy carnival food…not free…so we waited to eat til we got home. We were only there for an hour so we managed to hold off even though the tacos smelled amazing.

To top off a perfect weekend, I found a cookie recipe on Pinterest that I wanted to try and to my surprise, I actually had everything I needed already! Here is my version of Joy the Baker’s oatmeal sandwich cookies:

This recipe makes 2 dozen but once you sandwich them, you’ll have 12. So next time I will double up.

Kinda surprising that I still ended up with 2 dozen after I caught little miss sneaky pants eating the batter

before I could even get it onto the cookie sheets.

Oh well, gotta love my little helper!

Children’s book organization

This week was Scholastic Book Fair Week at both my kids’ schools.

I like to take advantage of the 2 hours that my youngest is in preschool by helping at my oldest’s school when needed. So 2 mornings out of my week went something like this:

Drive to school A and drop off kid #1.

Drive across town to school B and drop off kid #2.

Drive BACK to school A and help with the book fair for 2 hours.

Drive BACK to school B to pick up kid #2 to go home for lunch and nap.

Whew! I wasn’t really stressed or rushed, I just felt like a cab driver or something. In addition, they started redoing the train tracks in town, which meant shutting down main roads that I use so I had to use detours, which was…ummm…not fun. I will have to get used to it though because the shutdowns will be here for awhile! And I will be doing the same running back and forth next week for mini-art and AR program things.

As I sat in my girls’ bedrooms looking at their new books with them, I realized their bookshelves were in desperate need of some organization. We had accumulated quite a collection which I had never cleaned out because the youngest would eventually be reading them in a few years. But I realized that there were many books that neither of them had any interest in. So I started digging through and making piles. I ended up with almost 80 books to give away, or sell in a yard sale!

Looking for a new home...

For the books we were keeping, I separated them into classics, early readers, and preschool. We have disney books from the 70s that belonged to my husband when he was little. I had bought shelving for them a couple years ago, but some of the books had wandered off to different shelves and different rooms so I got them all back together again. They didn’t quite fill the bottom shelf but some dominoes and flash cards filled the spot perfectly.

Classic 70s Disney titles!

I don’t have many early reader books, I guess because Kindergarten filled that need. But I do have a series of books from a company called Southwestern Advantage that I purchased from a young college student a few years ago. This company helps college students earn their own money and encourages them to be entrepreneurs by encouraging them to go door to door selling books. We have used the books quite a bit and they were well worth it. The set we bought has 26 books and covers everything from learning colors and shapes, to more advanced science subjects. This is great for us because with girls 4 years apart in age, this has topics for both of them. The names of the “Ask Me’ series are cute – Laila’s favorite is “Are My Bones Bendy?”

"Ask Me" Series

"Explore and Learn" Series

My preschool collection is still the largest! Taking 4 shelves plus a basket. But those are the books that us moms tend to tire of very quickly, so we need variety! I mean how many times can you read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom or The Very Hungry Caterpillar before you can recite it in your sleep?

Preschool age books

I also had a few random books that I wasn’t sure where to display. So I cleared off the top of one of the girls’ dressers. Then found a piece of shelving unit leftover from our entryway closet makeover. I laid it on its end so that the taller books could just stand up, since they didn’t fit anywhere else. And I used a piggy bank as a bookend. Works for me!

To Do:

There is one project that I’ve been wanting to do for over a year now! I first saw this idea in the Family Fun magazine a couple years ago. It is a book sling that allows your child to see the front covers of their books and allows for easy access for them. So as soon as I find some fabulous fabric for this project, I will start on it.

One of my favorite children’s stories is Max Lucado’s “You Are Special”. If you haven’t read it, you must! We got the book a few years ago and my oldest loves it. We can all relate to the Wemmicks in this story. It is such a great message for both children AND adults and reminds us that we are all special in God’ eyes.

Another book I have to share with you is “I Know A Librarian Who Swallowed Some Books.” It was written by my daughter’s 2nd grade class this year. All the kids contributed and they sent it off to a company to be bound. My favorite is that they had it published with the students’ own handwriting and illustrations!

I hope this encourages you to grab a book or head to the library and read with your kids!

Candyland Baby Shower

This past weekend I attended a baby shower for my sister-in-law. She is expecting her first baby very soon and they chose not to find out the sex. They are decorating the nursery with a neutral Candyland theme. So, naturally, the baby shower was also a Candyland theme. Her sister did an amazing job planning this!

Invitations

Decorations

Each table displayed a color coordinated tablecloth and featured a character from the original game. The centerpieces were large mason jars with matching candies glued onto colorful skewers.

Jolly - gumdrops as centerpiece

Mr. Mint - peppermints of course!

Lord Licorice

Queen Frostine

Each setting had these cute blowpops as favors:

She also made giant balloon pops out of balloons, PVC pipes, and cellophane: I believe this idea came from Tip Junkie/Parents.com.

 

Let them eat cake!

Candyland diaper cake

While scouring the internet for Candyland ideas, I saw a super cute diaper cake in a Candyland theme and decided I would try my first ever diaper cake! I ordered the ribbon on Etsy and bought pacifiers that were on her registry and hung those around the outside. It was very easy to create. I rolled about 70 diapers, rubber banded each one, and rubber banded each layer all together. There is a bottle of baby lotion holding up the center (hidden).

I just thought everything turned out fabulous! Just like the game, everything was so colorful, from the game-inspired pathway on the floor, to the table decor, to the cake…loved it all! And I am even more excited than ever to meet my little niece or nephew!!

The mama to be with my first born

There are so many captions I could put here...he he...love this pose!

Aunt-to-be who planned this shower. She's busy capturing photos. Great job Leslie!

Easter & Spring Break

I managed to capture many fun family moments this past week. Easter and Spring Break all rolled into one big long vacation for us. For Easter, we went to my in-laws for a cookout and outdoor egg hunt. Our church also had an egg hunt for the kids.

Egg Hunts:

Cousins!

Laila found a golden egg!

Emma with her basket.

Fun outing:

I had been promising Miss E a trip to Buildabear Workshop for awhile, so we made a trip there at the start of the week so that she could get a new outfit for her bear. I still can’t believe I made it out of there without the youngest even asking for one thing! Whew! Luckily she’s into the Lalaloopsy stage and isn’t even interested in building a bear. But she did ask lots of questions about what everything was for.

Bear has a new outfit and accessories!

Visiting family:

The next day we drove to my Grandparents house to visit with them. They live on my Uncle’s property and the latest news there is the chicken coop. The girls had never been so close to one and they spent half the afternoon chasing the chickens around the yard! They were beaming when they came in with 7 eggs they found in the coop!

Here, chicken chicken!

From there, we drove to my parents’ house…the house I grew up in…

the house that built me.

My girls in front of the house I grew up in.

The tree that used to hold our treehouse when we were kids.

I’m so glad they still live there and that I can go home to visit. It’s like a little trip to my childhood. We took the girls to the school playground that I played on as a child. My mom teaches there and my dad drives a bus. It is a very small town…Kindergarten thru seniors all go to the same building!

Fun fact:

There is an app that tells you exactly when the International Space Station is in view over the U.S. We stood outside Wednesday night looking for it and sure enough, we saw it right at 8:56pm just as it told us! It is a solid bright light that moves quickly…so neat!! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to snap any pictures because it was just too dark. I guess I need to read up on how to use the night setting on my camera.

Magformers:

I couldn’t believe how focused Laila was on these amazing little pieces. They are called Magformers. They are magnets enclosed in different shapes and colors. She spent hours with them!

We also took the girls to the city park. It is so much fun to try out a new playground!

Now we are back to Home Sweet Home but sure had a great week!

New Kitchenaid Mixer!

How FUN is this?!

Thanks to my amazing mama, my kitchen has a new accessory…my new Kitchenaid stand mixer! It has only been on my wish list for a short while, but she knows I love to bake. She came over last month to watch our kids while we went away for our anniversary, and surprised me with it. I’m loving the flat beater that scrapes the sides of the bowl so perfectly.

So naturally I had to spruce it up with a cute decal…or in my husband’s words “pimped it out”. There are so many cute decals out there (or you can print your own using vinyl) that it was hard to choose just one. They are all so much fun! I found a cute subway art style baking one on Etsy for 5 bucks! Once I opened it, I could tell that I was going to have trouble applying it as one whole sheet, so I decided I was going to have to use a little patience and apply the words individually.  I took a picture of the sheet prior to cutting so that I could refer to it for each step. And mine came with a handy little craft stick to help transfer the letters.

This is what the vinyl decal looks like when you open it.

All you do is

1. peel off the backing

2. use the stick to rub the edges of the letters onto your material

 3. peel off the transfer paper…EASY!

You can still see the transfer paper on the word "eggs". This peels right off after rubbing the letters onto the material.

Top view

So far, I have made banana bread, coffee cake, and even mixed meatloaf with my new love! And I have so many new recipes I cant wait to try out thanks to my Mops group. A fellow Mops mom compiled recipes from everyone and we made these adorable cookbooks.

This is my sour cream coffeecake all ready to go to MOPS! I used a recipe I found on Brown Paper Packages‘ blog. It looked so good after baking that I skipped the whole glaze step. It was so scrumptious that I only had a couple pieces left to bring home!

 

Another accessory adorning my kitchen…

BAKE letters!

The idea was inspired by a kitchen update I saw at Lemonade Makin Mama. I do not have a lot of wall space in my kitchen so I just made mine on a smaller scale. I bought the wooden letters at Michaels and spray painted them silver.

With my new kitchen decor, I am looking forward to baking dessert for Easter this weekend!

Thrifty burlap curtains

I have desperately been wanting some new window treatments in our living room for quite awhile.  Naturally, this is the room we spend most of our time in and it looks out over the backyard/pool, so it gets a lot of attention in the warmer months. But window treatments are so expensive and my budget was next to nothing. I was determined to find something better than the old sheer window scarves I had draped over the rod for the past few years. And I do love a good challenge. I was on a mission…operation update living room window on a cheap budget!

For the look I wanted, new curtains were going to cost me around $50-100. That was certainly out of my budget, so I decided that my goal cost would be around $20. I shopped every store in my area…Target, Kmart, Walmart, Penneys, Kohls. I found a lot of panels in clearance sections for ~$10. But just couldn’t find 2 of anything that I loved. I wasnt going to spend my energy on a $20 update if I didn’t love it. So I kept my eyes open at the stores and my mind open online. Somehow I came across the idea for DIY burlap curtains. I did some searching and found a great project at Life to the T.

Burlap comes in many colors so you can lighten up your windows as much or as little as you want. I was going for a light, airy, summery feel so I chose oyster for my shade. I bought 6 yards and had them cut it in half, so I had 2 sets of 3 yards each. I followed Trish’s {Life to the T} no-sew tutorial for “hemming” the edges, using stitch witchery and an iron, and it worked perfectly. I do love the look of her clip rings at the tops but I didn’t have any on hand and in an effort to be resourceful, I decided to hot glue pieces of ribbon to the back of the curtains to hang them onto the rod.

This, my friends, is 6 yards of burlap!

A roll of stitch witchery and an iron is all you need!

Ribbon on back will allow the curtains to hang on the rod

*Note: I read some comments about burlap having a slight smell to it and having to air it outside. I bought mine at Joann’s and did not have any problem with odor.

I loved the look of the new curtains, but it just wasn’t enough. I decided I really wanted a layered look. I struck gold at Kmart where I happened to find these awesome eggplant panels on clearance for only $4.90! So I put them on the outside of the burlaps and voila!!

New window treatments and an updated view for under $30!

And even better, I bought 6 yards of burlap and have enough leftover for my next project!