Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Insta-spired Photo Dump




Round 5.  Lots of kitchen inspo since we were in the midst of renovation during this time and I was trying to save pictures to show the husband and contractor my vision ;) .  Also more artsy art as following artists is slowly becoming my favorite pasttime.  I'm itching so bad to take a real art class, and I love staring at all the talent and trying to figure out how they make their masterpieces.  Also, @iambaker, one of the most entertaining accounts on my feed.  I crack up at probably every post, and also want to eat sweets at the same time.  

Any new insta- accounts you've been following that you want to share??

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Summer Start

Hi, friends. I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend celebrating and remembering all the servicemen and women who have fought for our country.  We had a great time ringing in the unofficial start of summer with some summer like temps and fun in the sun with family.

We did some sale shopping at the outlets, visited the playground, and had a family fudgsicle walk.  Sunday, my dad came to visit and the girls were so excited.  They loved playing with their Bopo and Ashlynn was excited to pick out a scooter and get burgers and, more importantly, ice cream.




Monday we spent the morning playing outside and headed to a family picnic after naps.





Ashlynn's school has a summer camp program and I was originally planning on keeping her on schedule, still attending her two part time days a week, but after learning the cost was changing and knowing we were already going to take August off due to vacation, we just decided to to give her a real summer break.  So this is her last week of school, which is a little sad because she's made some giant leaps with opening up, being social and playing with friends, actively participating in class from the shy mommy clinger she once was.   So with that said, I still want to keep her active and engaged for the summer.  If not for her own social, physical, and learning development, then for the fact the days we don' have activities planned are usually our worst.  We are in a fun phase of the power struggle, where she just ignores my requests with a nonchalant "I don't want to".


So more gymnastics, swimming, tennis, and hopefully we get into soccer too, we've been waitlisted.  Give us all the activities, keep our days busy!  And of course when all else fails, just add water!




Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Things to come...

I feel like there are so many things to catch up on and blog about, I might as well write out my blogging to-do list here to get a fire lit.  And I'll throw in a few sneak peaks while I'm at it.


The Closet



Stenciling is complete.  Clothes are hung, a bit more organization to be done, but I'm still not finished with the rest of the room.  A "how-to" is coming, though, I'm not calling myself a stenciling pro by any means, it'll be more a lessons learned post if anything.



Big Girl Room Updates



Curtains are complete. Book shelves are up. Still need to get some stuff up on the walls, slowly but surely we are chugging along.


Kitchen



crackle pot | boxwood | candle | canisters - williams sonoma (old)


The major reno is complete, but there is still a lot of work to be done.  This is a pretty much a soe what tidied up real life shot.  Crap on top of the fridge, Brita on the island, missing outlet covers, and a sink full of dishes and sippies that I tried to keep out of view.  Basically, this is what it looks like for maybe 5 minutes after I clean up and wipe down, before being asked for more milk and food and handed random toys.  We are still waiting on the butcher block counter to come in for the island and we need to paint the cabinets and make a few other fixes that I'll detail in a whole post.  Promise!


Back to the Future

I finally got a new phone today!  I went with the iPhone 6 and actually was able to get a better/cheaper plan with a loyalty discount.  #verizon4lyfe... or 15 years whatever.  I ordered a case when I got home, but had such a hard time deciding.  I would have asked for input, but I need it ASAP because I know klutzy little hands are going to be all over it, mostly my own.

And finally, I need to post Kenley's 18 month update, an overdue sister/sister post, and another insta photo dump.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Things.

Heeellllloooo out there.  I'm here.  Just the usual busy-ness going on.  Renovations, diy projects, yard work, playdates, activities, appointments and even a grown ups date snuck in there too.

The counter and backsplash are complete.  Waiting on the butcher block to come for the island.  In the mean time we need to paint our cabinets and make a few fixes.  Part of our reno was to install in a mounted over the range microwave.  We hated how much counter space our old one took, and missed our over the range one from our last house.  However, to install it, we needed to shorten the cabinet space above.  We needed a 12" H  x 30" W cabinet for it to mount to.  I was open to just putting in open shelving or even a wine bottle shelf thing, but our contractor told us it'd be cheaper to buy a cabinet then to build from scratch.  Only problem, we couldn't find a cabinet with doors that matched our existing ones.  Until I was reorganizing one day and somehow was guided out of the blue to measure the small cabinet to the left of the window above the sink.  30" tall and 12" wide.  I'll called our contractor and asked if we could just turn that sideways.  So we did.  I also tried to talk him and the husband into removing the corner cabinet and sliding the cabinet set from over the dishwasher to that wall and then having open shelving in the existing space.  I lost that battle for now, mostly because of how random the soffit would look. So in the meantime, we'll find some pie shelves to finish off the corner cab.




And while I'm playing catch up... I'm currently,


Reading:  Finally picked back up Big Little Lies, still want to read Yes Please and the overly buzzed Girl on the Train.

Watching:  Finished binging through 3 seasons of Scandal, the 2nd season of OITNB, 2 eps deep into House of Cards, you know where to find us.

Upgrading:  my iPhone.  I still have an iPhone 4 from before Ashlynn was even born.  I'm pretty sure they don't even make accessories for it anymore.  I'll probably get a 6 since who knows how long I'll hang on to the next one, but wanted to hear if anyone preferred the 5s to the 6 and any other advice.  Even though I know how awesome samsung is, husband has one, I'm sticking with the fruit so don't try to convert me.

Buying:  sneakers and rainbows - yes, I have a problem hoarding both, it's probably embarassing to admit how many of both are floating around - mudroom, closet, car, garage, who knows where else?

Trying: To finish Ashlynn's closet.  Just need to hang the bar and get her clothes out of her sister's room.  You, know, actually make it a closet.


Obsessively googling....

Fabric.  Looking for the "perfect" fabric to make a DIY roman shade for the kitchen.  I'll do another post dedicated to this hunt.

Art.  It's probably obvious by now, that not only do I enjoy humoring my crafty side, I don't stick with one hobby for very long.  Whether it's a kick for sewing, baking, or painting, I like to dabble in them all.   I've become obsessed with following different artist on instagram, and have become so inspired to learn the ways of the ones that draw me in.  So I've been watching youtube tutes, scouring pinterest, and looking for local classes to take.

Local.  Going with the local art, I've been on a kick searching for more community in my community.  I love all the bloggers, 'grammers, and readers I've made friendships with, but sometimes I'd love to actually meet or hang with these like minded women and I'm always bummed that all these great blogging conferences are far away. So I've been hunting out local entrepreneurs, bloggers, businesses, you name it seeing where it leads me.  I think part of me would really like to have my "A-Ha" moment of where I should be heading outside of my role of "mom".  Not to make "mom" second priority, but just to bring some "erinn" back into the game.  She's been out of it and finally feels ready to make a comeback.  Just want to network with the right people and find the inspiration and guidance I need.   I think I'll do a whole post for this too, it could get lengthy.

oh, and This.



You're Welcome. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday Fives




1 - First things, first.  If you are on instagram and haven't entered the Mother's Day loop giveaway that I shared earlier in the week - get on it!  I partnered up with some of my favorite blog mamas out there to giveaway a Land of Nod teepee for the littles and a $250 Nordstrom gift card to the winning mama.


2- Next up,  I've been trying to get Ashlynn to use real cups or glasses when eating at the table.  We use mason jars for our glasses, and the jelly jars are the perfect size for her.  I cleaned out our sippy cup stash and ditched any that leaked, were too banged up, or soft spouted.  I still like the sippy cup, mostly because Kenley hasn't mastered the art of not dumping the whole cup of water on herself, but also because Ashlynn needs one for school.  I'm trying to get in the habit of only allowing milk at the table with meals in a glass, so it won't be randomly left out all day behind the princess castle getting all sorts of gross.  Also, Penny, our Boston Terrier, literally will follow them around waiting for the milk cups to get thrown over so she can try to drink from them like a hamster.   Yeah, I'm getting over it.  So I figured, I'd invest in a better travel cup for A and keep the sippies for K.  Any preferences out there between Camelbak,  Thermos, or any other brands?    This Frozen one is over 25% off and it's purple, so it's right up her alley.  I'm looking for one that will hold up and doesn't have a bunch of parts.



3 - I recently read an article about Emily McDowell, a designer and cancer survivor who created a line of Empathy cards.  She wrote "Get well soon cards don't make sense when someone might not.  Sympathy cards can make people feel like you think they're already dead.  A 'fuck cancer' card is a nice sentiment, but when I had cancer it never really made me feel better.  And I never personally connected with jokes about being bald or a free boob job, which is what most 'cancer cards' focus on."  Not only do I love her cards esthetic, but I love the messages of support, with humor, and of course understanding.    The one in the bottom left, really resonated with me outside the world of cancer, but with loss in general.  I can't even count how many times I heard "happened for a reason" line after my miscarriage.   This card could also fit for someone severely injured or diagnosed with any illness.   Check out the whole article here.

4 - This post went from super light to pretty heavy, but the article and cards above inspired to share another story.  A friend of mine from college was diagnosed with Stage IV gastric cancer in the Fall '13.   We had met before classes even began our freshman year since we were both student athletes.  We hung in the same social circles, and we both had majored in Finance and shared the same classes our junior and senior year.   He put up quite the amazing fight against cancer, physically and even more so mentally.  He had moved to NYC after graduation and we naturally lost touch like most people do, outside of Facebook.  I followed his journey and was devastated when I found out he lost his battle last month.  He was 32.


Inspired during his chemotherapy treatments, Alex began a kickstarter campaign to create CureWear.  A line of clothing made for patients undergoing treatment with medical ports.  It allows them to keep their clothes on while still allowing access to their ports.  You can read all about it here and please feel free to share with anyone you think may be interested in supporting this innovative company.  They also created an active wear for supporters to purchase, perfect for wearing during a 5K.


5 - And swinging this back to light because it's Friday.  I hope every one has a fantastic Mother's Day this weekend!







Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Lately

The days have been blurring together, and while that makes for some slow blogging, it makes for a better fun life lived.   The weather had been gorgeous and now it decided that it's summer with temps in the mid to high 80s.  I swear, every year it goes from super windy and cold into humid summer and Spring gets skipped.  Oh well, as long as we get our playground time in we are happy campers.

I finally got around to stenciling the closet.  I gave a sneak peek on Instagram, so most of you know I went with the roses stencil.  I still need to hang a bar for the clothing and add few other touches, but then I'll share a whole post and my experience with stenciling.



In other (huge) news, our counters were installed yesterday!  We went with quartz counters, and even with the chipped cabinets and jacked up ripped down backsplash it looks a million times better.  We still have the old counter on the island since the butcher block top isn't in yet.  I can't wait to see the other changes up next.



Lots of other random things going on, like finding time sew the pom pom trim on Ashlynn's curtains, paint two jumbo canvases for some DIY living room art, and turn everything we own into a balance beam or uneven bars.  And with that, we are off to gymnastics!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Making the Bed

Ashlynn's big girl bedroom is still a work in progress, but one thing that's complete (and probably the biggest necessity to a bedroom) is her big girl bed.

Ashlynn was only 19 months old when Kenley was born and we felt it was too early to switch her to a twin bed to free up the crib for Kenley.   So we purchased a second crib and planned to delay the purchase of a bed until Ashlynn was older.  We converted the crib to a toddler bed over the summer, and aside from bedtime protests, she's never actually caused too much trouble with actually staying in her bed.

We also decided that the girls will alternate their birthday parties, with only one girl getting a "big" party each year and the other having a smaller at home celebration with a few friends and family.  So instead of spending a bunch of money for a birthday party, we invested it in her room.  Of course, with a recently completed bathroom reno and a kitchen facelift around the corner, we really wanted to do her room as cost efficiently as possible without compromising on things we value.  Just like when we did her nursery, we wanted to include style but also eco-conscious products.


Her bed started with a standard metal twin frame, found on Amazon for significantly less than anywhere else.  We ordered the headboard a few months back from Joss & Main.  It's the Melonie Twin Headboard.  I wanted a headboard that could be something that would grow with her, just like most of other things in the room.  It's easy to change bedding, art, lighting, as she grows, but the big ticket items I hoped we could have last at least until the teen years.



Same with the bed frame, I stuck with Amazon for the box spring.  Since we have Amazon Prime, I always like to take advantage of the free shipping, especially with oversized items.  This box spring, is awesome, and yeah, I just called a box spring awesome.  If you ever had to live in a city row house with a spirally walled stairwell, you'll know moving box springs - while lightweight - are still a pain in the ass.  It's a metal frame that you assemble yourself (so it ships and moves easily), and then you just a zip a cover over top.  I think I had it together in ten minutes.  Also, it was only $90.



Like when we were purchasing Ashlynn's crib for her nursery, we put a lot of thought into our decision regarding a mattress.  We chose a Naturepedic organic mattress for her crib (and Kenley's too!) because of a variety eco-conscious reasons.  You can back track to the crib post, to see our thought process of why we wanted a organic mattress, and again we still had the same feelings three years later. 

While there was a twin mattress on Amazon that had amazing reviews and only cost about $130, we decided we wanted to make sure the mattress we purchased was constructed with products free off gassing VOCs.  We would have loved to buy another Naturepedic, but spendng $650+ was really out of our budget.  Our budget being the cash I made selling all our baby gear at the children's consignment sale back in March. 


I found the Brentwood Home Finale 11"  Twin Mattress, which has Certipur-US Certified foam and a plush quilted top made of all natural wool.   I did some extra digging outside of the 4.5 stars amazon reviews, and found that if you want a truly organic mattress, you are going to pay... a lot. While this mattress probably pales in comparison in it's true green standards, we still figured it was better than no certifications and fit nicely in our budget at only $199.  Which means with all the parts together (frame, headboard, box spring, and mattress) were still less then the Naturepedic twin alone.  



Next, was the mattress cover.  I was recently contacted by Organic Caboose, to see if we would be interested in trying a product to review.  Organic Caboose is an online website that produces organic, all-natural and eco-friendly products.  I took a look at their site, which includes a wide variety of cloth diapers, wool covers, sleep sacks and nursing essentials.  I let them know that while their mission and products are those I fully support, I was no longer cloth diapering or nursing.  I was then made aware that they offer blankets and mattress covers and was offered the chance to review one.  


The timing was perfect, so we tried out the twin sized Sustainable Wool Mattress Cover.  The wool is super soft.  It naturally inhibits bacteria and it is anti-allergenic, resistant to dust mites, molds, and mildews.  Wool also naturally absorbs moisture and is breathable, making it cool in the summer and warm in the winter, which is why it's great for cloth diapers!   

Thankfully, we haven't had to deal with any night leaks, but I love that the cover is protecting her mattress from allergens, as well as helping control keep her bed cool or warm.   It's also generously oversized for any shrinkage that will occur when washing (delicate cycle).

Organic Caboose would like to offer Strawberry Swing and Other Things readers 15% OFF Sustainable Mattress Covers (any size!) through June 30th, code STRAWBERRYSWING.




Finally, on to making the bed.  I already have shared our comforter and sheet set, but I also added the pom-pom monogramed pillow and Dalmatian spot throw.  The quilt I made her, rests at the foot so she can pull it up for a nap - if and when she ever starts taking those in her bed again.  I'd like to add some more color or pattern, but I am waiting until I hang up the art.  So this is still a bit of a work in progress.


Thankfully, the most important part in the whole big girl bed equation, is the big girl.  I'm happy to report, she loves her bed and has been sleeping great.  The transition, not only from toddler bed to twin, but changing rooms couldn't have gone smoother.  





*****

Disclosure:  Organic Caboose generously provided us with a twin sized mattress cover in exchange for our review.  All other products mentioned were purchased independently.  All opinions stated are solely our own and Organic Caboose is a company whose mission and products we stand behind and support.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

[Crafty Lady] Mimi's Mother's Day Gift

Okay, I don't know about your moms, but mine probably sends me links (via facebook) of children's crafts or children related articles a handful of times a week.  She's actually sent me either the same or similar link for this footprint butterfly craft on multiple occasions.  Hint noted.

Last year, I had Ashlynn make the grandmas flower pots with her handprints and little flowers made from her finger prints.  She had just turned two, and the thought of doing the footprints, made me there was no way, they would turn out right.  This year, I knew she was ready.  My mom loves gardening, flowers, butterflies, dragonflies, lady bugs, you name it.  I mean, the woman retired in Woodstock goodness sake! So this was truly the perfect (overly requested) gift for her.

I originally wanted to get a slate tile or stone, but decided to use a wood slice from Michaels.  It was cheaper (coupon!) and I figured she could display it inside or outside.  Since she was visiting last week and we won't being seeing each other for Mother's Day, I thought she might have more fun participating in making her gift with Ashlynn, instead of just receiving it in the mail.

I definitely get my crafty gene from my mom.  I asked her if she wanted to try to paint the bottoms of Ashlynn's feet like a butterfly wings.  I rolled out some paper to contain the mess and let the girls at it.




The first print, didn't transfer as planned.  Between Ashlynn's high arches and my mom taking too much time to paint her masterpiece, the acrylic paint must have begun to dry.




She moved faster on the second foot, but we still needed to fill in some gaps to make it look like a butterfly.  My mom used her artistic eye to create her colorful little masterpiece.  We wrote Ashlynn's name and some vines at the bottom and finished with a polyacrylic sealer to protect it.


As you can see, I think the experience they shared together was greater than the parting gift.  Well, the experience and the birthday cake.



Are you planning any other Mother's Day crafts?  Share them, I got three other grands to surprise!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ashlynn at Three

I had half of this post drafted and somehow lost it.  Trying to get it all back down, probably a bit more bullet point, but just a lot of info mostly for the baby books.



Height: 35"
Weight: 29lb 2oz
Clothes: 3T all around, size 7 shoes


Pre-School Skills

Gross Motor
 - Jumps, runs, gallops (her version of skipping), forward roll, walks the balance beam.

Fine Motor
 -  Can draw lines and circles.  Attempts to write As, but look more like Hs.  Colors specific objects - Elmo red, his nose orange, Pluto yellow, Minnie's bow pink.  Loves to paint.  Plays with legos.  Appears left handed.

Self Help
 - Dresses herself, just needs help with tying shoes and zipping her jacket.  Potty trained. Drinks from a glass. Brushes teeth.




Favorites

Books
- Look and Find, Dragons Love Tacos, Daisy and Josephine, Frozen, Green Eggs and Ham,

TV Shows 
 - Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Doc McStuffins, Sesame Street, Sofia the First, Curious George

Movies
 - Frozen, Tangled

Music
 -  Taylor Swift, Demi Lovato, and of course, Frozen and Disney songs.

Foods
- Yogurt and fruit (she'd live off of both if I let her). Annie's macaroni and cheese, cheddar bunnies, cereal, quesadillas, peanut butter and fluff.

Toys
 - Dress up, MagiClip princesses, puzzles (loves this 48 piece one), indoor slide and trampoline, blocks and Duplo ice cream set.




Personality

Likes
 Gymnastics.
 Screen time - tv or "games" (educational apps) on the kindle fire
 Stuffed animals (bunnies).
 Playing outside, climbing and slides.
 All things girly - painting nails, accessories, and chapstick.


Dislikes 
 Bugs, she's bordering on a full on phobia.
 Never wants to take a bath, but doesn't mind once in.
 Rarely eats any animal protein.
 Going to bed.
 Naps. Doesn't take them.


Funny Quotes/Stories

- We love olives, so one evening when we we eating a few before dinner, Ashlynn asked what it was and wanted to try.  She spat it out and said "I don't like olives" and we told her "maybe when you're older."   Now she says "maybe when I'm older" to anything she doesn't like - buffalo sauce,

- She used to love spinach, but after trying salad once, she saw spinach in her veggie lasagna, picked it out and said "I don't like salad".

- "I just already went to the bathroom"... pretty much, "just already" to anything she's done.

- Once she was brushing my hair and saw my tiny hoop earring at the top of my ear (it's been there for years and I seriously can not remove it, needs to be cut, but I'm afraid the cartilage won't close).  She asked what it was and I told her an earring, she said she wanted earrings.  I told her maybe when she was older and she said ".. like olives".

-  A few weeks ago I tried teaching her how to interrupt politely instead of just trying to talk over whomever I am talking to.  I told her she needs to come over and touch my arm and that I'll know she wants to talk.  I told her to ask, "may I speak, please?" She started coming over and grabbing my cheeks and bringing my face to hers asking "may I please speak?".  I've gotten her to stop grabbing my face, but now she just asks "may I speak?" every time she wants to say something when other people are around, conversation or not.



Our sweet Ashie, while she's loving testing limits and pushing buttons, she's as sweet as they come.  She uses manners, saying please and thank you at the table and when in public, and the whole "may I speak" thing above.  She's generally shy around new people, but warms up quickly if they are friendly and engaging.  Her teacher has said she's really come out of her shell, interacting and participating in class. She's a good listener and generally follows the rules, always holds my hand in parking lots and has a good sense of right and wrong.  She's starting to have more imaginative play, more being creative with objects and less role playing with dolls.  She has an amazing memory.  Still talks about Santa, when she gave up her binky, and just today she talked about a dress she wore to her grandparents' house on Father's Day, last year.

Aside from the annoying wanting whatever toy her sister is holding and trying to grab it, she's learning to ask "Sissy, when you are done, may I have a turn?" almost always ends with Kenley just handing over whatever it is instead of the crying, fighting, pulling, and pushing. She's also just a great big sister.  Which probably is super cliche, but she genuinely loves her sister.  She always comes in on her own, when I'm getting Kenley ready for bed to give her hugs and kisses.  She tries to comfort her when she's upset, and plays tattletale lookout for me when K is getting into trouble behind my back.  Aside from pushing buttons and doing things she's knows she's not allowed, like jumping on the couch so her sister will join in (monkey see, monkey do is strong over here), she generally tries to teach her sister good habits.  Or bosses her around, whichever way you want to take it.

Aside from cleaning up her toys, she's very neat and get's upset if things aren't where they are supposed to be, or if we do things out of order.  She wants to do everything she can by herself, and if you try to help tears usually ensue.

I can't believe three years have gone by.  I love watching her personality develop and seeing her experience things for the first time.  I feel incredibly blessed to be this sweet girl's mom.  

Friday, April 24, 2015

Fives

ONE

The last few days Mimi was in town and we had a blast celebrating Ashlynn's birthday all over again. We had more cake, broke out the paints, and just basically let all the sillies out.


This bird house was first purple, then light blue, now mostly dark blue.  Although, we had a happy and mostly quiet kiddo for a solid 40 minutes.  We did another Mother's Day craft, I'll share next week after I upload the pictures.


TWO

While Ashlynn was at school yesterday morning, we went out did some shopping with Kenley in tow.  We scoured HomeGoods, then headed over to a local bookstore.  It's a great little shop and I love browsing all the kids books while the kids play with some of the toys.  I always find such cute books, but as terrible as it is, I rarely buy them at the store when I know shopping Amazon will come through with a significant discount.  I know, horrible. I love supporting small business, and local business, but I'm also a sucker for a discount and saving money.



Anyway, I saw this brand new book "Bunny Roo, I Love You" and of course was smitten with the bunnies and gorgeous illustrations.  I saw the illustrator was Teagan White and couldn't place where I knew her until I got home, she created a line a fabric that fell for back when I was making teepees and even have some yardage of one of the prints.



THREE

Speaking of adorable bunnies, I'm obsessed with this handmade one.  I really think I need a handmade bunny intervention, Mira and Juliette, really don't need another wheel.  (Who's the kid again?)



FOUR

I loved this post on Project Nursery earlier in the week.  My mom lives in Woodstock, and is the quintessential garden loving hippie lady.  Kenley is a bit too little this year, but I think I'm going to try to collect the supplies over the next year, so the girls can make these gardens with her next year.  I can see it becoming a spring tradition of planting flowers in their little fairy gardens with their Mimi.  So cute.




FIVE


A few weeks back I hosted a giveaway to BoomBoom Prints, a company that allows graphic designers to simply upload their artwork to the site and they turn it into beautiful products for young families like wall prints, onesies, baby bibs, and more. The best part? All the artwork is family-friendly and perfect for kids rooms, playrooms, and nurseries.  I recently was made aware that they are running a $1,000 Mother's Day Shopping Spree,  with one lucky winner receiving a $500 gift card to BoomBoom Prints and a $500 Visa gift card!


You can enter the giveaway below (or here) until May 9th.   Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Happy Friday, Friends!  Have a great weekend!