Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Win a $100 Amazon Gift Card (ends 4/28)

Get ready, get set, good luck! Another week, and another fun way to win. This one is all about Pinterest.


Makobi Scribe is bringing you this Amazon Pinterest blast where one lucky reader will win a $100 Amazon gift card. The giveaway is open to everyone and provided by Makobi Scribe.

 Good Luck! If you are a blogger, you can sign up for this blast here.
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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Enjoying a little Easter Fun

Whatever you do, don't get between a crowd of kids and an Easter Egg Hunt...

They may be small, but all those little feet running you over, would leave plenty of bruises.

It was time again for the annual Easter Egg Hunt. No, we don't go for the city wide festivities, instead we go to a friend's house every year. The crowd seems to grow every Easter, but the kids have a blast.

Owen could barely contain his excitement. Bouncing off the wall would be putting it mildly. Of course we had the Easter Egg courtesy talk before getting out of the car, but I knew he was having a hard time controlling himself and making good decisions.

So, you can imagine how my heart swelled when I spotted him gifting eggs to younger children. He wanted the other kids to have plenty of eggs as well.

This is the first Easter for my youngest and he was excited by the brightly colored eggs and all the fuss we made when he found them. Of course he had a little help.

As someone who loves to craft and even craft with my kids on a regular basis, I am embarrassed to admit that this was the first year we have decorated eggs.

It has been a few years and I was pretty rusty.

But, armed with a load of supplies and some plastic dyeable eggs, I was ready. The kids had a blast and I already have ideas for next year. The kits, in my opinion, were not necessary. I could have spent a similar amount and have ended up with a bigger craft base for creative exploration. The wheels are turning and my kids can't wait to try their hand at Easter Eggs again.

Wishing everyone a beautiful and memorable Easter Sunday. I hope you all enjoy a great day with your family as well.
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Corned Beef Hash - Dig In!

A good breakfast hash makes me happy.

I don't need fancy things in my life and my tastebuds are proof. Slap some potatoes, corned beef and eggs in front of me and I will smile all day. It's the simple pleasures in life.

I know, it isn't very Paleo friendly... spuds are evil, blah, blah, blah. But, I enjoy it. Especially if I was lucky enough to remember to grab an extra corned beef after St. Patrick's Day. Corned beef really rocks my world.

This non-pretentous food is usually made out of diced meat and potatoes and is often made using leftover beef brisket or corned beef. It is flavorful and filling and most often enjoyed for breakfast. By I recommend enjoying it whenever the mood (or hunger) strikes.

I am a big fan of the corned beef version, though I have had a divine smoked salmon hash in the past.

I like to use leftovers for my hash. It makes cooking fast and easy. Grab a chunk of leftover corned beef, and a few mostly cooked potatoes (microwave them the night before till almost soft).

Give these both a dice and then dice up some onion.

In a large cast iron skillet, I start by browning up my potatoes with a little butter.

When the potatoes start to get a little golden crust on them, add the onions and corned beef.

Then I put the smack down... or the cast iron press. I leave it on just long enough to get a bit of a crust going on one side. Make sure to season your hash with some salt and pepper.

Flip and crust up the other side..

Then plate your hash and top with a couple of fried eggs. Season and dust with a little dried parsley. Easy, right?

Don't worry so much about the amount of each ingredient. Hash is much less formal than all that. Instead, work with what you've got and what you like.

Now I hope I have inspired your to create a little hash for your family. Come on. I know you want to...
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Cheerios Cheer On Reading with Every Spoonful

Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through Platefull Co-Op. #cheerios #familyreading

With a new and enthusiastic reader in the house, books have become hot collectibles. My son proudly reads anything he can get his hands on.

As a child I remember reading and re-reading the cereal box mornings before school. Luckily for my son, he doesn't have to resort to reading the box because in each box of specially-marked boxes of original Cheerios, Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter, Chocolate Cheerios and Apple Cinnamon Cheeries are storybooks for children ages 2 to 8 years-old, printed in both English and Spanish.

With 6 books to collect, you can read:
  • “That’s What I’d Do” by Jewel
  • “Bear Says Thanks” by Karma Wilson
  • “1-2-3 Peas” by Keith Baker
  • “Chicks Run Wild” by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
  • “Please, Baby Please” by Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee
  • …and returning favorite “Jump!” by Scott M. Fischer
There is also a chapter book in specially marked boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios for older readers to enjoy. Broken into 3 parts, this year’s book  is “Phineas L. MacGuire…Gets Cooking,”.

This is the 12th Anniversary of their commitment to literacy through such programs as Cheerios Cheer On Reading and Spoonfuls of Stories™. Cheerios created the program in 2003 to help get books into kids’ hands and encourage parents and kids to read together.

To support the books included inside Cheerios boxes, the Cheer on Reading website has corresponding activities to go with each book. My daughter decided to the maze that went with our copy of, "Please, Baby Please." and my son and I tried the "O So Far Out Adventure" activity from the Chocolate Cheerios box. It was fun to have some added things to do with our cereal in the morning.

Look for these specially marked boxes the next time you are shopping for your Cheerios. Encourage the little readers in your life.

Is there a young reader in your life?

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Creating Wooden Peg Dolls for Easter (pt. 2)

I broke this craft post up into two parts so I could add more photos and really show off the craft. In total this doll took me, on and off, two days of sketching, painting, detailing, sealing and drying in between. If I was making more than one at a time, I would have been able to crank out several of them. Good thing, too, my kids already have a long list of dolls they want me to start on next.

Some people have asked me where to find the peg dolls. I found mine in the wood working section of my local Michael's. You can also purchase them on Etsy or online craft supply stores. Look for wooden game peices or wooden figurines.

After the last post, where I sketched out the doll and did the face, I then I started on the base color of blue for the dress. Working in thin coats of paint, I let it dry completely before adding the second coat and then sketching the details on the top. The arms, bow, etc. were all sketched on afterwards.

Then I got out a fine tip brush and a toothpick to add the details. I think a paint pen would also be a great choice.

I made simple dots for daisies on her dress, then added an outline on the bow and white dots around the neckline. The last thing I did was outline and paint the arms.

If you mess up, no problem! Let the paint dry and then sand off paint from the mistake and paint over.

The final step is to apply a glossy varnish. If you intend to give these away as children's toys, be sure to look for a non-toxic option.

The varnish goes on white. I applied a thin coat, and then another once it was dry. Yes, it does dry clear. It gives the dolls a nice finished look and helps to protect the paint underneath.

See how easy that was? Paint, wait and paint some more. But, before you know it, you will have a cute, unique little wooden peg doll.

Do you have a Thrilling Thursday craft to add? Add a link to your blog post in the linky below after you've left a comment on this post and add this button to your blog post!"

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Want the House to Smell as Fresh as Spring? Try #FebrezeSpring

This is a sponsored post from SheSpeaks and Febreze. All opinions and exerperiences are my own.

I wait all Winter for Spring to finally arrive. I look forward to throwing open the windows and letting the crisp, cool breeze in to banish the gloomy, musty Winter blahs. The smell of fresh cut grass, the warm alfalfa in the fields, flowers and laundry hanging on the line all mix to create a unique scent that only comes this season.

Well, at least I would love to "throw" the windows open. In truth, my allergies keep me inside with the windows tightly shut to keep both the pollen and clean air out.

With a family of 5, my home doesn't always smell so fresh.

*Sniff, sniff*

Febreze is here to help fill my home with the scents of Spring... without all the added sneezing and wheezing from seasonal allergies. The Febreze Spring Collection is currently available in Walmart.

Bringing all those delicious Spring scents indoors is like bringing all the fun of U-pick strawberries into the house everyday... without the threat of berry stains!

In honor of Spring I decked out the car with a Febreze Car vent clip in the scent Rain. Easy to use, this would be a great option for ridding the car of funky kid smell. Or if you just happen to forget a dirty diaper in the car overnight. Just sayin'.

The NOTICEables warmer, that plugs into any standard wall socket, was filled with the new Sweet Pea & Pink Petasl scents. This one was a little too strong for my taste, but I loved the scent. I just wish I could have turned it way down. It actually has an intensity control, but I unplugged it after a few minutes... the smell lingered for me to enjoy for a few more hours.

I also tried the Set & Refresh with Rain again. This one went in our utility room where I don't often get the chance to air out the room. With the freezer, hot water heater and storage in that room, it doesn't smell fresh or inviting. That was easy enough to change.

Be sure to check out all the fun new seasonal scents currently available at Walmart. So many freshening options out there. Find the perfect way to bring in the scents of Spring for your family.

What scents remind you of Spring?
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Grab the Remote and Come Join Me on Beamly! The Social Network for TV Fans

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Beamly. All opinions and experiences are my own.

Do you have a favorite TV show?

Bound to the home and stuck with my children's animated and educational shows by day, during prime time it is Mommy's turn with the remote. In the evening I can escape into my favorite drama, fantasy and science fiction television series.

Of course, yelling at the TV screen isn't as much fun as dishing with friends. Beamly is the new social and content network for your favorite television shows. Discuss the shows, share your reactions, set reminders for which shows you want to watch and even keep up on the current news regarding your beloved shows.

Television fans everywhere rejoice! ... then come check out Beamly.

I love that I can customize my avatar, screen and info. Then follow others. Come check me out and follow my profile. I would love to chat with you.

You can download the Beamly app FREE for your iPhone or Android.Now I can vent or dish in my spare time.

So what are my must-see shows? Right now I am watching Once Upon a Time. It is the best way to start my week with a new Sunday night installment. This season's twist on The Wizard of Oz has me on the edge of my seat. I am rooting for Hook, by the way. What is it with smoldering pirates wearing eyeliner? Followed of course by Revenge later the same evening. That show jerks me around and I love it.

To satisfy my love for good Sci-Fi, I also religiously watch Haven, and Warehouse 13. I expect both of these seasons to end with a bang, especially since this is the last season of Warehouse 13.

Of course, I'm secretly watching Resurrection and the verdict is still out on Continuum. But you can see all my thoughts and opinions right there in the different television show rooms.

Love a show? Then GET A ROOM! ... just do it on Beamly. You can learn more in the Beamly youtube video.

Beamly is THE 24 X 7 social and content network for TV and TV fans. Join me today in TV conversations and get the latest juice and gossip about your favorite shows!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Beamly. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

$100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway (ends 4/21)

Ready for another quick giveaway? I know everyone could use an extra Amazon gift card, right?


Makobi Scribe is bringing you this Amazon Facebook blast where one lucky reader will win a $100 Amazon gift card. The giveaway is open to everyone and provided by Makobi Scribe. Good Luck!

If you are a blogger, you can sign up for this blast here.
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A Day of Sanity starts with a Well Packed Bag

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and U by Kotex but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #UbyKotex  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV.

Some days I spend so much time rushing and racing around, I can't even keep the simplest things straight. As a Mom of 3, I don't have time to be slowed down or to get flustered.

Hey, I barely have time to drink my morning coffee.

To keep a hold of my sanity, with both hands, I have 4 little rules I try to flive by. I'm not perfect, but these are simple things I try to do for myself.

A happy mom, is a sane mom, right?

Morning comes way too early. After hitting snooze on my iPhone a dozen tmes and then hitting snooze on my old school alarm, I HAVE to get up. So much to do.

I have to get my son up and on the school bus, feed my hungry crew and tackle the kitchen and laundry room. Time can get away from me. Before I know it half of my day is over. So my first rule is to stop and smell the flowers, so to speak.

My oldest is in school. Seems like just yesterday he was my baby. Now, the contrast between my 10-month old and my 6-year old is huge. I try to commit all the little stuff to memory... waiting for the school bus in the morning, recounting his day and snuggling in the evening. This is the stuff that makes it all worth it.

But, no matter how bad my day or week seems to be, when I stop and appreciate all those little perfect moments, it is all worth it.

Of course, with my day rushing by, I still try to make time to play with the kids. The baby wants to demolish my carefully constructed block towers and my daughter wants an impromptu tea parties or PLAY-DOH sessions. I think the conversations and bonding that happens during these pure moments of play are the best. Those are the times that I learn the most about each of my children.

On the floor or their little table, we do things they enjoy. Such simple gestures mean the world to them. It also makes me feel pretty good as a Mom.

As I race around with my laptop, my iPhone, iPod and Kindle, I try to not get so wrapped up on all that tech. Sometimes it is okay to un-plug. Even if it only happens for an hour here and there. Sometimes I go outside to dig in my garden or we head out on a family walk. Simplicity is another way that I stay sane.

I know, we can't all go move to a farm, but we can cut out some of the excess and focus on living and appreciating simple things. In the warmer months my garden helps to keep me feeling useful and grounded. Being able to grow something to serve on the dinnertable is a simple pleasure in life.

From my backyard chickens, to crafting, being productive and doing something tangible lisfts my spirits.

And the fourth rule? Now this is the hardest one for me, but it also brings the biggest reward.

I used to think that being an organized and prepared Mom meant cramming a bag till it was bursting at the seams with every contingency plan or product on the market. That wore out my shoulders and back really fast. Of course I can't prepare for every situation with small children, but I can prepare for the big stuff.

And anyway, the more I seem to carry, the harder it is to find anything in my bag.

love my diaper bag. I take it everywhere, even if we are just running into town for one item. I have gone through a few over the past 6 years, and have finally found a way to keep everything organized, handy and my bag well stocked.

Want a peek?

Here are a few of the items I consider essential:
  • Facial Tissues - Perfect for noses, wiping faces or even in the event a public stall is out of toilett paper. I have also successfully used tissues to transport mystery items to the garbage. Some things your kid hands you, you don't want to touch!
  • Saline Wipes - I love these because they are gentle on the skin. Already pre-moistened I have used them to wipe down children, or in a pinch they can be used in place of diaper wipes.
  • Anti-Bacterial Hand Gel - I have small kids, need I say more?
  • Tinted Chapstick - Great for keeping lips moisturized and adding a touch of color when needed.
  • Hand Cream - Always nice to be able to use it if my skin start to dry out.
  • Nail Polish - This is my splurge item. Small enough to pack around, I can apply it for an impromptu date night with my hubby. It is also nice to brush on a quick touch-up for chips.
  • Feminine Hygiene Products - I won't leave home without a backup. My period always seems to hit at the least convenient times. For convenient coverage in small packages, check out the U by Kotex line in fun colors and patterns.
  • Snack/ baby food - In case we get stuck out, I always carry something we can snack on. Currently I keep a grab-n-go bar for myself and a squeeze pouch for the baby.
  • Hair Elastic - I grabbed my 3 free Goody elastics to put in my little bag. I love having a simple solution to hair that starts to frizz during the day. These elastics won't hurt your hands or break hair.
  • Teething Necklace - I think these are functional as well as fun. My son has been chewing on everything lately, including me! So I went and got him a chewing necklage is bright tourquiose.
  • ReUsable Bag - Some of my favorite shopping places have gone bag-less, so I now carry my own. So much better for the environment, too. It is also nice to have a quick place to stash soiled clothing or other items.
  • Diaper Rash Cream - I love the Burt's Bees brand. Seems like car rides make my youngest's bottom angry, so we try use just a little cream to help soothe him. I like the natural ingredients.
  • Thermometer - I keep a simple thermometer in my diaper bag. It isn't fancy, it just helps me check whether the kids are running a fever or not.
  • Diapers - Always carry at least 2. 
  • Burp Cloth - I keep at least 2  fun print burp clothes for my diaper bag at all times. I use mine for the baby, wiping grubby hands or to clean up little spills. So convenient.
Smaller essentials I keep separated into little zippered pouches. The one below holds all my personal items like Goody hair ties, chapstick, etc. If I need one of these items, I can just grab this bag and I know exactly where everything is. It is so much better than having a sea of small items all dumped together in the bottom of my bag.

When it comes to organization and being prepared, nothing is worse than being unprepared for my period. Talk about a sanity buster! I never leave the house without a bag filled with supplies. U by Kotex Sleek Tampons and U by Kotex Cleanwear Pads fit nicely in my diaper bag. Aren't these fun? I love that being prepared doesn't have to mean boring.

I can keep a stash for those "white pants" days and the sleek and slim design of U by Kotex doesn't take up much room. I found them at my local Walmart, so they were
at Walmart’s Every Day Low Price and even came with free Goody elastics attached to the box (while supplies last).

That covers two of my essential items right there!

Yeah, it's a busy,crazy life, but those 4 rules are how I keep a little sanity in my day. And a sane Mom? Well, that makes me unstoppable.

Do you have any rules that you live by? 
Moms, how do you stay sane?
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Monday, April 14, 2014

Etching for Spring - Mug Personalization for the April Silhouette Challenge

Please don't bother me before my cup of coffee. With Spring here the days are starting out even earlier. Hello, Spring, hello caffeine. As the sun pours into my bedroom, I face the day by shuffling downstairs to the magnetic pull of my Keurig.

So it is only natural that this month I wanted to dress up my favorite mug. Yes, this simple glass mug not only holds an ample reservoir of caffeine to help me face the day and  three demanding children, but the clean, simplicity makes me smile. I have been wanting to try out the Silhouette stencil vinyl and learn how to use etching cream. This was the perfect chance.

Okay, this is what I used for my etching project:

  • Silhouette, or die cut machine
  • stencil vinyl - I  used the Silhouette stencil material that comes on a roll
  • transfer tape
  • etching cream
  • hook tool - for weeding the stencil 
  • scraper tool - to make sure the stencil vinyl doesn't have any bumps or bubbles
  • rubber gloves
  • an object to etch
I poked around the Silhouette site looking for an image that I wanted on my mug. I finally settled on a "Hello Sunshine" phrase. I just deleted the points in the "o" and replaced them with a cute flower.

After selecting the Silhouette stencil vinyl cut setting on my machine, I cut the stencil material and then used my hook tool to weed out the sections I wanted to etch.

The transfer tape was backed on brown paper. I lifted up an edge to apply the adhesive surface over my stencil. I cut the transfer tape to just cover my stencil.

With the scraper tool I made sure the transfer tape picked up every peice of my stencil. Then I peeled it off the stencil backing and placed it onto my mug.

Starting at the middle, I used my fingers to smooth the stencil outward. I tried to flatten all the edges around the letters onto the mug. Then I went over it again with the scraper. Any peices sticking up, or bubbles will allow the etching cream to get underneath the stencil. I wanted nice clean edges to my letters so I spent a little extra time making sure it was smoothed out.

See the bubbles in the right-hand corner? I worked those out with my fingers since the mug is rounded.

Then I removed the transfer tape and got my etching cream all ready to use.

Etching cream can settle as it sits. Give it a good shake before opening, and then I suggest giving it a good stir before using. I keep old popsicle sticks on hand just for projects like this one. Grab those protective gloves (because who wants to etch their skin, right?) and give it a good stir.

I applied my etching cream to the glass with Q-tips. I tried to keep the cream even and thick enough. With the scraper tool I wiped away the excess.

After 30 seconds, I wiped the cream clean and then washed the surface to remove any remaining cream.

I had a little moment of terror while washing my mug because it looked like my etching had washed off. *Gasp* Okay, it isn't as dark as frosted glass, etching is much more subtle. Once dried my "Hello Sunshine" showed right back up.

Overall I had a lot of fun. It is much faster than I would have imagined to complete an etching project. Now I just have to decide what I am going to etch next.

Okay, now I am finally ready to start my day. What do you think?

Want to Check Out More Silhouette Projects?

My Silhouette Challenge buddies and I are all sharing projects on our blogs today, so peruse the projects below for a wealth of Silhouette inspiration!

  Spring Cleaning - Custom Canisters I Love Paris In the Springtime Etching for Sping - Mug Personalization for the April Silhouette Challenge WHEELY excited about spring No-Sew Fabric & Burlap Peter Cottontail Banner Narwhals, plus friends Gold Fern Easter Eggs Mr and Mrs Easter Egg Head Easter Bunny Plate Welcome Spring - A Sign From Tile Paper Flowers Wall Art DIY: Bunny-Stamped Goodie Bags for Easter Inspirational Window Now We Have Everything Nursery Art Spring' and Flowers Paper Banner Glitter Jars with a Happy, Hoppy Bunny Made with the Silhouette + Free Cut File! Mother's Day Wreath Decorate A Watering Can With Vinyl! April Showers Sketch Pen Printable Spring Wreath Burlap Garden Flag with Heat Transfer Vinyl Pretty Little Herb Pots Peter Cottontail Door Hanger Spring Has Sprung Spring Has Sprung - Subway Art Bloom And Grow Sunflower Bouquet for Teacher Appreciation Sharpie Easter Eggs Tear Open Easter Egg Cards Look what's Blooming! ~ Silhouette Challenge Everblooming Paper Bouquet Silhouette Challenge: Spring Polish Swap Card [B] is for Bloom: Scrap Lumber Flower Vases Tulip Time - Fridge Magnets Neon Paper Pinwheels {tutorial} A Happy Spring Card Sketching Just Got Easier! Spring Bunny Baskets Bird Nerd Easter Eggs Easter Peeps Treats with {FREE} Printables and Cut File Garden Bench Update
1. Dream a Little Bigger // 2. So Much Better With Age // 3. Adventures in All Things Food // 4. Creative Carnival // 5. The Kim Six Fix // 6. feto soap // 7. One Dog Woof // 8. The Experimental Home // 9. From Wine to Whine // 10. Architecture of a Mom // 11. Grey Luster Girl // 12. Minted Strawberry // 13. Designed Decor // 14. Tried & True // 15. Silhouette School // 16. Bringing Creativity 2 Life // 17. Weekend Craft // 18. Practically Functional // 19. Please Excuse My Craftermath... // 20. McCall Manor // 21. unOriginal Mom // 22. Creative Ramblings // 23. A Tossed Salad Life // 24. A Glimpse Into Barb's Life // 25. Kate's Paper Creations // 26. Simply Kelly Designs // 27. Cutesy Crafts // 28. Persia Lou // 29. Whats Next Ma // 30. Two Purple Couches // 31. The Frill of Life // 32. Nearly Handmade // 33. Get Silvered // 34. Ginger Snap Crafts // 35. Life After Laundry // 36. The Sensory Emporium // 37. Monograms & Cake // 38. The Thinking Closet // 39. My Paper Craze // 40. Chicken Scratch NY
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