Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Shoutouts! - The Sweet Tea Exchange

Remember how I said I had come up with a few new and exciting things while I was away? Here's yet another! Every Sunday, I will post a "shoutout" of either a blog or website where I frequent and have had good experiences.

With that being said, I want to introduce Amanda from Sweet Tea Exchange! The Sweet Tea Exchange may just be starting out, but I foresee it going places! Amandas products are all so cute! Not to mention theyre hand-crafted, and found at extremely reasonable prices.

Heres a little of what she offers: tumbled marble coasters (let me tell you, these are gorgeous! if you havent checked these out yet, you need to!), pallet shelves, wall sconces, children's growth charts, and wreaths. PLUS, shes always on the hunt for new ideas!

Amandas products can be found via her Facebook Page and Etsy Shop! She does offer shipping and pickup if you are in the Jacksonville, NC area! Stop on in and check out what she offers, and be sure to check back often as she is always working on something new and exciting!

That concludes our first edition of Sunday Shoutouts, next week we will be featuring a blog with DIY and giveaways galore!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Fives!

Whoa! Friday Fives! That sounds fun! What is that?! One of the many ideas I've come up with on my break. Here it is. Remember how I was posting a massive list of tips and tricks every so often? Theyre gone! Yep, G-O-N-E, gone. Sad right? No! Because the Friday Fives are going to be replacing them! No longer will you have to sort through a laundry list of tips and tricks. Every Friday, I will be posting a list of 5 new tips and tricks for making your life easier! They'll range in categories from cooking to cleaning, to parenting and everything in between. And as always, if you have any you would like to share, send them in!

Here's our very first batch of Friday Fives:

1: When cleaning your windows, instead of wiping with a paper towel or a microfiber cloth, use a crumbled up piece of newspaper. It works like a charm to prevent streaks!

2. Use conditioner to shave your legs. Not only is it cheaper, but it moisturizes more, meaning your legs wont feel dry and itchy afterwards.

3. To keep potatoes from budding, throw an apple in the bag with the potatoes.

4. Store sheet sets in their matching pillow case. It saves room and makes it easy to grab everything you need at once.

5. Raw potato slices contain potassium. Place a slice over your eye and watch your dark circles disappear.

Thats all for this weeks Friday Fives! Check back next Friday for more helpful tips and tricks!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Crafted a Bird Feeder

We're finally moved and somewhat settled in our new apartment. Still a few boxes to unpack and quite a bit of organizing to do but we're getting there! We're still waiting for our wireless internet, let me tell you, I dont miss the days of being tied down to the ethernet cable AT ALL!

We have a nice little balcony off of our living room and the first morning we woke up here, I saw a few birds perched on the railing. So I thought, how neat would it be to put up a bird feeder? Plus I knew Lauryn would LOVE looking out the sliding glass door and seeing them! So I devised a plan and set off for Walmart! It was a super cheap project and looks nice. Im contemplating painting the bird feeder eventually but for now, it will do as is.

Materials Needed:

10 inch surface protector ring (-)$3
8 inch terra cotta planter plate $2.15
A roll of Jute twine $3
Bird seed $4
Ceiling hooks or a way to hang the feeder when finished

First I drilled a small hole in each of the legs of the surface protector ring. This took quite a bit of effort because the plastic was so strong but I eventually got through it.

Next, make a web with your jute twine. It doesnt have to be fancy, its just going to be used as a resting place for the planter plate.

I then measured 6 24inch long pieces of jute. I tied the twine to another piece of twine coming out of each hole. Pull your strings up and bring them together in the middle. Tie a knot near the top of the jute. This is where your feeder will hang from.

We were able to use 2 metal hooks and screw them into the roof of our balcony. Its pretty darn sturdy! Although if we happen to get any bad storms, Ill at least take the planter plate off and set that aside. Wouldnt want that falling off the third floor!

Fill your planter plate with bird seed (Ill be making my own once this bag is empty!) and voila! Youve just made a bird feeder for about $12! I cant wait to snap a picture of the very first visitor!

Again, now that were getting more and more settled each day, Im hoping to be able to get back at this! Ive come up with a ton of new ideas during my break and I cant wait to share them with you! So stay tuned!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Happy First Birthday Lauryn!

Its amazing how fast a year goes bye! Lauryns first birthday was April 12, and let me tell you, she was the happiest birthday girl Ive ever seen! So heres a few snapshots from her birthday day and her party! Party pictures were taken by J.Gerren Photography! If youre in the Camp Lejeune area and are in need of some pictures I highly recommend her! Not only is she a great friend but shes an amazing photographer! Onto the pictures! :)

We started the birthday girls big day by filling her bedroom floor with over 110 balloons. All blown up by mommy and daddy. She LOOOVED it! We plan to do this every year.

Birthday breakfast! Pink whole wheat strawberry banana pancakes! I think from now on though were going to do Cake Batter Pancakes! How fun would that be?! And I think she'll survive not eating a healthy breakfast one day a year :)

After breakfast we went for her birthday pedicure! Her very first one, which she loved! She's such a girly girl and I love it!

Going for her first bike ride ever! This was her big gift from mommy and daddy. Seriously the best $100 weve probably ever spent. This bike is super sturdy and itll grow with her for years!

Out for her birthday dinner! We went to Red Lobster, and found out she LOVES flounder, who would have guessed?! I asked our waiter to assemble the birthday crew and we ordered dessert. They sang to her, which she thought was the greatest thing ever, and then she attempted to pick up the ice cream and devour it whole. I dont think my husband and I have laughed so hard in a long time!

Now onto her birthday party fun! I got in waaay over my head with this party. I didnt realize how long it would take to get everything together! Thankfully we have amazing friends who were willing to show up an hour early to help us finish, which we did JUST in time. It reminded me of TV game shows, you know, when they have a time limit and finish just as the buzzer sounds? Well our buzzer was sounding and people were filing in our front door as I was laying out the rainbow fruit tray! I breathed a huge sigh of relief once it was all ready and I could relax and enjoy the party I had worked so hard to plan!

Lauryns party invitations! I bought them at Party Suppliers and printed them myself! I love how they turned out!
Guests were greeted by a zebra ribbon wreath which I made. It took quite a long time to make but it was soo worth it!

We filled the entry table with "A Year of Lauryn". One picture from every month of her life. I bought the wooden frames from Michaels, unfinished, and did the zebra pattern myself with white and black acrylic paint and some painters tape! They were super easy and turned out really cute! We then labeled the frames with a pink glitter number for her age in months.

 The candy bar complete with the main decorations! I made the poufs myself, Ill make a "how to" post about them hopefully before the move! They were super easy though, cheap, and look great!

Another shot of the candy bar!

So many goodies!

This was Lauryns "smash cake". She demolished the cake by the way! Pictures to come!

These were the cupcakes I made for everyone else! In pink and black zebra striped cupcake liners. The cupcakes themselves were even zebra striped thanks to Duff Goldmans Zebra Cake Mix! I bought the boxes at Michaels for $7.99 a piece, each box made 18 cupcakes. Topped the cupcakes with hot pink buttercream frosting as well as black sprinkles and tiny edible pearls.

I purchased the pink and black licorice as well as the lollipops online, but made the dipped marshmallows myself! They were a big hit!

Sugar cookies, decorated with Candymelts and edible pearls! These were really tasty but took a looong time to finish. The pearls all had to be put on one at a time by hand, very tedious!

Again, the gumballs and sixlets were purchased online, chocolate covered pretzels were made by me. Everyone loved them!

It all looked fantastic!

I wrapped the water for the party in zebra duct tape that I found at Michaels! Love the way it turned out!

 These were the party favor bags I made for the kiddos! All I needed were some plain white bags from Michaels, a "Thank you" and Zebra stamp, as well as some Zebra print paper and some string!

Goodie bags were filled with tiny bubbles, which I bought at the Dollar Tree! I got 9 bottles in a pack and only paid $1! SCORE! I also tossed in a small bag of animal crackers and the recipe for moms!

My mom's best friend from high school was so kind to crochet these little zebra hats for the kids! Everyone got one in their goodie bags!

Arent they the cutest in their little zebra hats?!

Our party girl decked out in her Zebra hat!

Look at those rolls above her knees! Gosh I love her!

Time for cake!!! So glad we stripped her down to her diaper before cake time!

 Look at that smile! She loved her cake!

She seriously had such a great party! I was so pleased with how it turned out and received so many compliments! As stressful as it all was, it was totally worth it and I cannot wait to start planning her second birthday party! So long as she doesnt get any older! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Recipe Time: Animal Crackers

Kids love animal crackers. I love animal crackers! But, I wasn't too keen on feeding the over processed snack to my daughter. So I scoured Google to find a homemade version. That is where I came across Julie.

Onto these adorable crackers!

Homemade Animal Crackers:

1 Stick Butter
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Allspice
1/8 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Oats
11/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder (Optional)

1. Cream together softened butter and brown sugar.

2. Add in the egg and vanilla, then combine well.

3. Now mix in the cinnamon, allspice, and salt. *I just used cinnamon for the plain cookies. For the chocolate cookies, I nixed the cinnamon and allspice completely.

4. Next add the oats, baking powder, whole wheat flour, and optional cocoa powder. Mix well. *I used 3Tbs of cocoa powder for our chocolate crackers.

5. Form dough into a ball and wrap with waxed paper. Place in the refrigerator for a minimum of an hour, or up to overnight.

6. When ready, grab off a hunk of dough, and let it "warm up" for 15 or so minutes. I tried to roll it right from the fridge and it was hard as heck! Allowing it to warm up helped a lot! Roll the dough out to 1/4" thick on a lightly floured surface.

7. Cut out crackers and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I swear this step seems never ending! So many teeny crackers! Bake in a preheated 350degree oven for 5-7 minutes.

Store in an airtight container and see how long they last. They're absolutely delicious! I even include a few in my husbands lunches for work! Lauryn adores these, and they're super soft so they're easy for her to eat.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone! I'm "temporarily" back from my break, there's still a lot going on but I should be able to get back at this pretty steadily. As promised, heres my explanation!

1. We found out in March that my husband was being sent to Quantico as a TBS instructor. Therefore, we need to move! We leave in less than 2 weeks now! So Ive been busy trying to find us housing, and getting the movers all set up. Let me tell you, finding a house, when youre not even in the same state, is ridiculously hard and frustrating. Not to mention, because were going to be 35 miles from DC, rent is expensive, and Ive been trying to factor in traffic when deciding on a place. Its been frustrating, and I have spent many nights lying awake wondering, scared to death that we wouldnt have a place to live! I FINALLY found an apartment that will suffice until we can get base housing again, only problem being its 1000sq feet less than what were in now. And Im TERRIFIED! Thankfully they have since offered us a 3 bedroom with almost 200 extra sq. feet so, we'll be cramped, but not as cramped. Then came financial worries. We had 1 1/2 months notice before moving. We have some money in savings, but not enough to cover rent for the first month, plus a pet fee, and still have a comfortable enough amount left in savings! But God is good, and we discovered that we will get a good deal of financial help from the military, displacement money. THANK GOODNESS! I can sleep well now!

2. Lauryns first birthday is approaching faster than I would like it too. So Ive been busting my butt preparing for that as well. Making decorations (dont worry there will be an entire post about it after her party!), planning, making goodies, researching the cheapest bulk candy. Lots of stuff going on with the party!

3. Making household repairs before our move. My husband so skillfully melted the vinyl siding on our back patio with his grill. Knowing that we will be charged an arm and a leg, and possibly our first born if we allow housing to fix it, were doing it ourselves. We've since ordered and picked up the siding from Lowes, have yet to put it up. Sigh.

4. Yard sale! We held our first yardsale yesterday. And made a ridiculous amount of money (more for the moving fund yay!)! I was shocked. People will buy ANYTHING. Im talking candles that were 3/4 melted, sold for like $1 each! Why on Earth you would want that, Im not sure, but whatever, cash in my pocket and crap out of my house! We managed to sell a loooot of stuff, which is great since we wont have a whole lot of space when we move!

And thats been about the extent of it. Ive just been super swamped with everything. I say that Im back temporarily from my break because Im not sure how soon we'll have internet connection once we move. Hopefully we'll have it up and running within a few days. Just know that another mini break may be coming, but I'll return. :)

Onto Easter goodness! This was our girls second Easter! Its hard to believe! She was barely a week old last year when we got her picture taken with the Easter bunny. Look how teeny tiny she was!!! :(

She got to help mama boil eggs this year! She got a kick out of dropping them into the pot! Such a chef!

She thought this was even better than dropping them into the pot. Thank goodness the dye doesnt stain because it was everywhere!

She made these all by herself. And let me tell you, she.was.proud! I made a few crackled eggs but of course I forgot to take pictures. oops.

And of course then she HAD to eat one! Which she loved. She ate an entire egg. I was shocked. Theyre a lunch staple now!

A new family tradition. Last night before we put Lauryn to bed, we planted a few "magic" jelly beans in the yard.

And look what our magic beans sprouted! Flower lollipops! Sadly, Im a mean mommy and dont allow her to have candy (although I did give her a bite of chocolate today, see Im lenient sometimes!) but they looked cute!

Ahhhahahaha! Look at that face! This kid about died over her Easter baskets. Being a parent is awesome!

 Bunny and cross whole wheat banana pancakes were this Easter's breakfast!

And we finished the morning with a classic Easter egg hunt! She thought 2 of the eggs were spectacular, and didnt care about the others, so daddy and I had to collect them for her.

Hope you all had an amazing Easter with your family and friends!