Saturday, July 30, 2011

All Grown Up

I blinked... and suddenly Emerson grew up.  This week.  All at once.  Let me show you...

As I was making dinner one evening I turn around to discover that Eme had gone into my purse, opened my wallet (and it's a difficult wallet to open folks... even I have trouble at times!) and stolen a $20.  Somehow amidst all the receipts she found the one single $20 dollar bill I had in there.  Caught red handed.  I can only imagine how funny it will be to find her doing this in 15 years...

And then, she started to drink from a bottle.  I'm starting the weaning process a bit sooner than planned due to my impending knee surgery that's scheduled to take place 3 weeks from now.  I'm not going to be able to feed her for a few days with all the drugs and anesthetic... so I decided it was time.  Since she will be turning one in a few weeks I've opted to skip the soy formula (it smells terrible, tastes terrible, and she HATES it) and went straight for the almond milk.  She loves it.  She loves the bottle.  She loves to drink it all by herself.  I haven't shed a tear yet... but I've come close a few times :)  But on the flip side... I'm also scheming about all the dairy products I'm going to indulge in quite soon.  Dairy Queen... watch out.

If that wasn't enough... check out what happened tonight...

Again so much like her mama.  Cookies = instant motivation.

You gotta eat quick around here.  If you listen closely to the video you will hear Caleb begging to come off of his seat.  He was put there for a very good reason.  Apparently it's difficult to not be the center of attention.

She got her cookie.  She was so proud.  Mama is pretty proud too.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Getting the Look for Less

Isn't this pretty?

I saw this pretty picture on pinterest a while back and quickly pinned it to one of my boards.  I loved the tall headboard, the colorful lampshade, the cool bedside table and-- of course-- those awesome graphic pillows.  I knew the fabric-- if I could find it-- was going to be way out of my budget.

But then I was at Target a couple of weeks ago.  I found these tea towels.  These tea towels were definitely in my budget-- just under $3.00 a piece.  They are pretty fabulous in the kitchen... but I thought they may also look fabulous as pillows.

Guess what?  They do.

I can't take total credit for the idea-- my friend Andrea pulled it off first.  It was so easy to make-- I decided to make two.

They work perfectly in the downstairs family room.  They look great-- but if they get wrecked with the kids playing down there it's okay-- they're just tea towels.  Right guys?

Happy Friday!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Cheap Curtain Trick

Over the past few months we've started tackling the downstairs family room-- it didn't need a whole lot of work, just a little facelift!  The room's been painted and I picked up a new area rug for the room a few months back (I'll have to post some before and after pictures one of these days!) but I've been stalling on the window treatment.  This was one of the only rooms that didn't have blinds or any sort of window coverings when we moved in-- so it's been a bare window for the past few years.  Since we tend to use this room more often in the summer months (it stays a whole lot cooler than the main floor of our house) I wanted to get something up to cover the windows.  I could have made some curtains-- and I did consider it-- but while the window is pretty narrow... but it's very wide.  It would have taken a ton of fabric to make my own curtains.  So instead I picked up my favorite white curtain panels from Ikea (two packs for a total of 4 panels-- like I said, it's a wide window) and decided to take the easy route.

But... I had to DIY at least one part, right?  The curtain rod.  Finding an inexpensive 10' curtain rod that's not flimsy is easier said than done.  So I decided to make my own.  I've used this trick before in some of our previous houses, I don't why I didn't think of it sooner!  To create my own curtain rod I just picked up (correction-- Doug picked up) a 10' long piece of 5/8" metal conduit (used for electrical wiring) and spray painted it with some flat black paint in the backyard over the weekend while we were setting up the pool.  In total, it probably took me 2 minutes to whip out the spray paint and make it black.

It was an easy DIY curtain rod and it was so cheap-- the 10' long piece of conduit was around $5.00.  I already had the black spray paint sitting in the garage from a previous project and some random wall mounting brackets sitting around.  I don't have finials for the ends-- you can buy finials that can be adjusted to fit bars of varying diameters-- but I haven't seen any that I like.  I might just have to make something up myself.

When it came time to hang them up we decided to put the bar right at the ceiling.  Even though it's a basement room with a narrow window, hanging the drapes from the ceiling made the room feel taller and the window so much less awkward looking.  Doug and I both couldn't believe how much of a difference the curtains make in the room.

Here's a view of the top of the curtains-- these particular Ikea curtain panels are my favorite because they have hidden tabs sewn onto the back instead of a pocket to hold the rod.  This makes them look a bit like pinch pleated curtains when they're pulled to the side.

Here's a close up of the curtains-- I love the texture.  They look amazing when the light filters through them during the day.

I still want to throw them in the wash and pre-shrink the panels before hemming them (I always pre-shrink because they WILL get dirty and need to be washed at some point in this house) but I thought I'd throw them up and enjoy them for a few days!

And... here's one of my next projects for the basement family room-- another MCC thrift store purchase that needs a bit of a makeover.  While I actually don't mind the funky floral print all that much... I'm thinking that a slip cover may be in order :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pool party in the backyard

Over the weekend we traded this...

In for this...

Yup, this weekend we packed up our winter gear (it's about time!) and set up our backyard pool.  We love it-- one of the best things about this pool is that it was free.  Someone who wasn't using it anymore offered it to us the first summer we moved into this house and we snatched it up.  It's been a dream come true.

We've become quite adept at setting it up now that we've practiced a few times.  We've now set it up 4 times over the past 3 summers.  I'd tell you why we set it up twice that first summer but it's kind of a "he said" "she said" story.  My version ends with "I told you so".  Nevertheless... Doug and I are a pretty good set up team-- meaning I am pretty good at watching from my lounge chair giving the occasional pointer while Doug does all the hard work :)

This year, however, we had help.  Here Caleb was assisting by killing "spiders" with his plastic golf club-- spiders that were hiding in the pool that was rolled up in storage over the winter.  Doug actually found (and quietly disposed of) a couple of pretty big ones... Caleb was none the wiser :)

Then Caleb did his best to start the fill up process.  It was a gigantic slip and slide.

Eme could have played with the hose all day if we'd let her.  She didn't care that the water was ice cold.  She was having the time of her life.

I tried my best to keep the kids on separate sides of the pool.  Water, slippery surfaces, a hose, siblings = tears and time outs.

And finally... the pool party worthy.

When we weren't in the pool we were lounging in the backyard in the shade.  Eme looks pretty darn cute in a bathing suit.

We discovered a major crawling (well... kind of crawling) motivation for Eme over the weekend-- chips.  She's a lot like her mama... let me tell you.  There are days when I'd do just about anything for a bag of chips.

This just makes me giggle :)

And Caleb's favorite thing to do over the weekend... playing junior monopoly.  He LOVES it.  Doug patiently sat on the deck and played it with him over and over again.  Caleb's learning lots of good stuff from the game-- counting, adding and subtracting, how to follow rules... and how to not be a sore loser.  Some of those lessons are easier to learn than others :)

Well... that was the weekend.  It was awesome.  So in the future, on those hot sunny days... you know where to find us.  And if you need to cool down too... you really should just come on over!

Special Request

One of Caleb and Eme's special little friends is joining us for the day.  I received an extra special request for a few pictures of the kiddos.  Of course, I am more than happy to oblige.

The kids on the other hand... may not have felt the same.

I think Emerson has been feeling a little bit outnumbered.

And let me just say... it's a good thing you can only see pictures... not hear them.

If you could have only heard the noises I was making to get all three kids to look at the camera at the same time.  Maybe that's why Eme started crying...

Monday, July 25, 2011

When I go shopping

I am either at Superstore, a thrift store, or Home Sense.  Shocker, I know.

I drag two kids with me.

When I'm at Home Sense-- Eme sits in the front of the cart.

Caleb rides in the back-- I tell him he's the "captain of the boat".  Really, I just keep him in there so that he doesn't touch and break all the stuff I like to look at.  He really eats it up though-- he rides in that cart announcing to everyone that he's the captain and randomly exclaims-- "Ooooh... mom... look at that!  It's soooo pretty!!".

After his ride in the boat I reward him with a trip to the toy section where he dismantles the already messy shelves.  He loves it.

And... when I'm at Home Sense I bring my camera phone.  Can I share some of my favorite finds?

I love this chair.  It's a show stopper.  And it's something straight out of Anthropologie.... with a much friendlier price tag... like $349.  Still out of my budget, but not bad. (is it strange that I can remember the prices of things so well?  It's a gift.)

These babies-- they're bright-- and they're cheap-- $199.  You'd have a hard time buying a craiglist chair and some fabric to recover it for that price.  (they also had some grey blue ones if purple and red aren't your cup of tea)

These chairs are hot.  They don't look comfortable (and they're not, I tried) but they look awesome.  So to try and justify these chairs-- I've come up with the following list of why they'd still be a practical purchase in light of their unfortunate uncomfortableness--

  • sitting on a cool metal chair would be heavenly on a hot day
  • since they already have that industrial worn look-- kids could beat these babies up and it would just make them look cooler
  • If you threatened to tie your kids to their chair at dinnertime (if they have trouble remaining seated at dinner and prefer to stand-- we threaten to tie Caleb to his chair regularly) this is the chair that says "I mean business"
  • they would up the cool factor of any old boring dining room table.
  • your neighbors probably don't have chairs like this

Not sold yet?  Really?

$49.99.  This is great.  I felt a bit sheepish buying this one since I've never been to France... so I convinced my sister to get it.  She's been to over half of these places.

Didn't check the price on this one but I thought it would be perfect for a little girl's room.

And just as I was about to leave my local Home Sense on my last visit I spied these headboards.  They were pretty well made... I was impressed.  But the price tag floored me... $249.  That's pretty unbelievable.  My own DIY headboard was definitely still a better deal-- but this is a great buy if you don't want to make it yourself.

So in conclusion... I like to shop at Home Sense.  I drag my kids with me.  We have fun.  And I usually don't buy anything... just memorize prices and snap pictures :)  Does anyone need me to shop for them?  Shopping with a purpose sounds like it could be fun...

Friday, July 22, 2011

It's a party

The festivities are now over... and we had a good time.  Let me share a bit of Caleb's 4th birthday party!

I made a last minute decision to make it a themed party-- a camping themed party.  This was quite hilarious to Doug... since Caleb's never been camping (allergies + asthma + tent = not good) but nevertheless, Caleb was excited.  Although, he made sure to let everyone know that it was only a "pretend" camping party.  No actual camping was to take place.

So, if you know me... the decor mattered.  But this year the party decor budget was small.  So I actually managed to pull it off for... drumroll please... $1.25.  Just the cost of one roll of twine from Dollarama (sidenote... should they not now call it dollar-and-a-quarter-rama?) and a lot of online/recycling bin scavenging.  Here are the details.

Found in my own home... jam jars and tin cans from the recycling bin decorated with twine for treats and cutlery.  I clipped a bunch of random flowers from my flower beds and stashed them around the house.  I was going for the whole wildflower look... and since my flower beds are looking a bit wild these days, it was a great place to start :)

I spy another chalkboard... I had a couple stashed downstairs (all the other chalkboards are currently on a summer wedding tour... possibly coming soon to a wedding near you) and added them to the decor.  The cupcakes... s'more cupcakes.  After googling 'smore cupcakes' and researching various options and recipes I went with Betty's recipe.  Thanks B.C.  It was definitely not dairy free... but I was reassured that they were tasty.  There were many many other fabulous looking smore cupcakes recipes out there-- ones that involved homemade marshmallow meringue and others requiring the use of a blow torch... but I decided to play it safe.  Betty Crocker is definitely within my range of baking abilities.

We needed some kind of hanging decor.  I hate balloons... more specifically the aftermath of random balloons wandering around the house and then the trauma that Caleb goes through every time one of his beloved balloons pop... so I decided to go with bunting.  Totally free... just go check out Lindsay's blog for instructions and a free flag download.  I just printed them off at home, hot glued the flags to more of that dollar store twine, and hung it around the dining room.  When Caleb woke up from his nap he walked into the room and said "wow Mom... that looks so pretty!!"  I gave him a big smooch :)  If only he would have known how much fun his mama had crafting it up all afternoon without his "help".

Oh, and I wrapped all his presents in newspaper... and tied it all up with twine.  Oh la la... matchy match :)

Treat bags... paper lunch bags.  I used these gift labels-- available to download and print for free online-- tied up with that dollarama twine again.

Even Emerson benefitted from my dollarama shopping spree-- new hair elastics.  She seems to like them-- although she went down for her nap with two pony tails and awoke with none.  I found one elastic in her crib.  The other one is MIA.  I'm thinking I'll likely find it in her diaper someday soon.

Caleb says he really really doesn't like her pony tails.  He thinks they look like horns.  He went on to express his strong dislike of pony tails on ALL women-- even his mama.  For some reason, they just don't do it for him.  Let it be know to all the ladies-- if you ever (like in 20 years or so) want to attract Caleb's attention... pony tails are a major no no.

After dinner (hotdogs for the kids... of course) they went on a dinosaur hunt.  I gave them all dollar store flashlights-- very needed at a camping party-- and told them to go find all the dinosaurs that were "hiding" around the house (dinosaurs also courtesy of dollarama).  They loved it.

This picture cracks me up.  Caleb's expressing his enthusiasm.  His two buddies are in the background thinking "How much sugar did this kid eat?  What is in those cupcakes anyways?"

Then it was time to sing happy birthday and blow out the candles.  Caleb blew them out well... and he also managed to spray his mama in the face as well.

Caleb enjoyed his cupcakes... well... at least he enjoyed the icing and chocolate on top :)

And then it was time for presents.  I set up the kids ikea tent in the living room to house the gifts.  I had planned on setting up our real tent in the backyard for them to play in... but alas... the weather's been quite unpredictable.  But the living room tent was still fun.

Let's say opening gifts was a group effort.

It was a fantastic party.  We had fun.  Caleb felt special.  And I discovered a newfound love of Dollarama (seriously... they've got some good stuff... I could write an entire blog about how to decorate your house and parties will dollar store finds!)

Today... the aftermath.

Lego building... play dough making... treat bag consuming... backyard bubble blowing... party leftover eating.

And half way into the day I looked down and realized a treat bag race car sticker had been inconspicuously placed right on the front of my shirt.  Nice.  Classy.

Nothing says... "Hi.  I'm a mom." like an outfit accessorized with race car stickers.