Thursday, May 19, 2016

Meet Nature Cat

We recently had the opportunity to meet Nature Cat, PBS Kids newest animated series premiering Monday, May 23rd.

Nature Cat tells the story of Fred, a house cat who dreams of exploring the great outdoors. In each episode, once his family leaves for the day, Fred transforms into Nature Cat, “backyard explorer extraordinaire”. Nature Cat can’t wait to get outside for a day of backyard nature excursions and adventures, but there’s one problem: He’s still a house cat with no instincts for nature itself. With the help of his animal friends, Nature Cat embarks on action-packed adventures that include exciting missions full of nature investigation, “aha” discovery moments and humor, all while inspiring children to go outside and “play the show.”  Nature Cat’s adventures take him through his family’s big backyard, into the woods, and then into the “four corners” of his natural world: parks, ponds, caves, gardens, marshes, ravines, swamps, canyons, nature preserves and mountains.

We were lucky enough to preview two episodes, Fall for Hal and The Great Grasshopper Race, prior to the premiere and both girls really enjoyed it, especially Ashlynn (4 years).  The animation is bright and classic two dimensional, similar to the old 90s nicktoons of my generation, as opposed to the three dimensional animation you see in most of today's popular shows.   In the episode Fall for Hal, the animal friends go on a First Day of Fall scavenger hunt.  Scavenger hunts are something we love to do when playing outside.  As much as the girls love riding their scooters and playing ball, they have as much fun looking for different items when we walk our dogs around our neighborhood.  It's always a great way to keep them entertained and screen time free.

Of course, Nature Cat had to tag along for our exploration and we also used the cute folding binoculars and note pad PBS kindly sent along for us to get learning. Ashlynn loved pretending to take "notes" on her findings and write down things like what color the rocks she found.

Adding to the rock collection, checking out on how our flowers are blooming, or counting the rings in a tree stump to figure out how old a tree is are just some from activities we can do in our (literal) backyard.

Be sure to check out Nature Cat premiering May 23rd on PBS Kids!  You can learn more about the show at the Nature Cat facebook page.

*** A huge thank you to PBS Kids for allowing us to check out Nature Cat before it premieres, and sending us the Nature Cat plush, activity note pad, and pocket binoculars. We did not receive compensation for this post and all opinions and activities are solely our own***

Monday, May 16, 2016

Sewing 101: Getting Started

This should be titled, tips from a novice to a novice.  My mom was a fashion design major at University of Arizona in the late 60s and yet, I never saw her sew more than a button or a few hems (#shortpeopleproblems), sorry mom.  So the idea of sewing something for myself, never really past further than buying the Singer Stitch Sew Quick in college because I wanted to make long fabric headband scarves things, fashion term.  I also remember visiting the sewing rooms in the design college building so we could work on our togas for Greek Week. (insert hashtagtheshame).  I'm not sure I ever considered making baby clothes, even when I found out I was have a daughter.  However, I do know the inspiration spark that is Pinterest, let me believe on more than one occasion that "hey, I could do that!".

It really was the teepee that did me in.  I knew it was something that could be made for a fraction of the price I could buy.  My mom gave me a sewing machine for my 30th birthday.  She taught me to thread it and basically sew a straight line.  I made a few items, had lots of discussions with a blog friend who sews, and basically learned what I needed through pinterest, my manual, and youtube.  I still consider myself a novice, and just lately would give myself a bit more credit with sewing button holes, making clothes, and using fancier stitches.  But hey, let's not get crazy, I've yet to insert a zipper.

Learning to sew can definitely be intimidating if you have no where to start.  Here are some items that definitely make life easier when getting the ball rolling.

Outside of the obvious essentials of a sewing machine, needle, thread, your chosen fabric, some scissors, and an iron, get yourself a seam ripper.  You will need it and it will get used.  If you are like me, it'll get used A LOT.  

Invisible ink pen.  This will let you mark your fabric/trace your patterns and will disappear and wash out.

Sharp scissors.  Get a pair of real sewing scissors and lock them up somewhere secret.  Use them only on fabric so they stay sharp.  Pinking sheers (the zigzaggy scissors that make little triangle edges) are great too for finishing hems before getting comfortable with fancier stitches or a serger.  They will keep the fabric from fraying, and just make the edges look neater if visible.

Self healing mat and rotary cutter.  This isn't necessary, but you'll be so happy you have it.  It will make cutting your fabric a breeze and keeps it much more accurate than cutting with scissors alone.  Being precise with your cuts is really important and having your edges perfectly straight will make sewing a straight line much easier.

Things to know when starting: 

> there are different types of sewing machine needles based on what kind of fabrics you are using, make sure you are using the proper needle to prevent it from breaking or snagging your fabric (ie, denim and canvas vs knits and gauze)

> how to properly thread your bobbin (the understitch)

> how to properly thread your needle (the topstitch)

> adjusting tension (this can be affected by not properly threading your needle or bobbin and cause all sorts of issues)

> how to backstitch to lock your thread in place

Do you sew?  Any tips to add for those who are just starting out or want to learn?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Life Lately

A little life lately recap....

... starting with Mother's Day because why not?  This was definitely the best yet.  Nothing big or fancy, but just awesome quality time with those who made me a mother.  We started by heading out for brunch, natch. After some chocolate chip pancakes for the girls and eggs benny for us, we came back home and attempted a family nap, with was more like mini 'massage' with the girls jumping all over us.  So we made our way over to the J.Crew factory store to take advantage of their weekend promotion, which left me with this, this, and this. After we came back and played outside to enjoy the gorgeous (but windy) weather.  

We found a frog in a yard and after letting the girls poke and name him, we brought him back to the pond.  We ate dinner and then headed out for ice cream.  Which any day is good in my book if it ends in ice cream.   It was one of those days I wish all weekends could be like... did you notice there was no cleaning?

Tuesday, the girls and I baked a cake for daddy's birthday.  It wasn't a masterpiece, but it was delicious.  And the girls were proud to help, and lick beaters and eat the crumbs. 

In other super exciting news, we are done with diapers!  I should probably do a whole post, but basically, we are officially officially officially out of babyhood.  Kenley is about to turn two and half at the end of the month and since turning two, we've transitioned into a big girl bed, ditched the pacifier, and now are done with diapers.  At the holidays we attempted to capitalize on a potty training streak, and she had a solid week using the potty for number one, but after a week decided she was over it and didn't want to bother anymore.  Since she had just turned two, I dropped and figured we'd try again when she was ready.  I've tried bringing it up a few times, since she does go here and there, but she never seemed to show enough interest.  With all the rain we've been having, I capitalized last week being home bound and indoors and just switched over to undies and she's been awesome ever since.  Holla!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Insta-spired: Photo Dump #9

It's been a long time since my last (september) insta screen shot photo dump.  To be honest, I haven't been saving as many pics, mostly because I haven't been as active on instagram as I used to be.  Some time over the holidays, I stopped checking in every few hours and pulled back on my social media addiction.  I used to be obsessive about making sure I saw every picture and would scroll until I saw things from before, but thankfully now I just typically check in once a day and go through as many as I can until I get bored.

Since the algorithm started, I make sure to like my favorites 'grammers photos so they'll keep coming up and I've been slowly weeding out a lot of accounts that really don't relate to me anymore.  As much as love cute, well designed, handmade baby products... I'm no longer in the baby phase so while following accounts that focus on clothing or products for the 2 and under crowd, is just wasted real estate and time in my feed.  Which is shame because I adore the baby wraps, swaddles, blankets, rompers, and other products that are available these days, just not quite enough to open up the baby factory. ;)

Pretty obvious, coastal interiors are my favorites.  I love the idea of finding an old school dollhouse and painting it all white to make it modern. Faux healthy buffalo bites made with cauliflower, Natalie has the best recipes and food porn pictures.  But seriously, I'd eat cardboard if it had buffalo sauce on it. Lastly the dress was a reminder to check out the pattern to try something new. 

Do you have a favorite feed lately that you love??

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Last Minute Mother's Day Ideas

I was pretty sure the blogisphere was nuts with posting Mother's Day Gift Guides the last few weeks, but lo and behold, it's upon us this weekend.  And while I totally pulled a last minute (and cliche) purchase to my own mama, I know I can't be alone in waiting until there is barely time left for shopping.

I went traditional with sending my mom some blooms.  She's retired in Woodstock and is quite the flower child turned flower lady.  Her garden is something the fairies envy and her house a makeshift nursery, and I'm talking greenhouse, not babies.  So going with classis flowers will not be wasted.  I wanted to stay away from the usual FTD/1-800 route and go with a more modern bouquet.  I checked out both Farmgirl Flowers and The Bouqs.  I actually had a chance to do a review with The Bouqs when they were just getting started, but never went through with it.  I still love their mission and operation (Free Shipping!) and volcanic farm fresh flowers cut the day you order and arriving at your destination 2-4 days later.  Right now, you can get 15% Off and Free Shipping with code MDAY15.

(farmgirl flowers)

I really also loved the mission behind Farmgirl Flowers too, however they were sold out of the Lavender Fields plant, so I'll just have to use them next time (before last minute).

You can also get 7.5% cash back with Ebates when shopping on The Bouqs.

Some other ideas in case you want something to last longer than flowers, ShopBop is currently having a surprise 3-day sale with select items up to 40% off and has free 3-day shipping - get to it!

Have flowers all year with a new phone case, mom-bag organization with a credit card holder, or a summer vacation tote bag perfect for babysitting ;)

Personally, I'm hoping for a surprise pair of sunnies.

Anyone else wait until the last minute???

*** this post contains referral and affiliate links

Monday, May 2, 2016

Frozen Fever Snowgie Snacks

I know I'm super late to the party, but Snowgie Snacks we made for Ashlynn's Frozen Fever birthday party was insanely good.  Just a spin on muddy buddies, but this stuff was dangerous.

Frozen Fever Snowgie Snacks

Frozen Fever Chex Mix (Snowgie Snacks)

6 C Corn Chex
3 C Chocolate Chex
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 C peanut butter
1/4 C butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C powdered sugar
1 C blue M&Ms or candy coated chocolate
1 C mini marshmallows
2 C pretzel sticks

Pour nine cups of preferred Chex cereal into large mixing bowl.  In microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate chips, butter, and peanut butter. Microwave on high for 30 second intervals, stirring between each until melted and smooth.  Add vanilla.  Pour over chex, mixing by folding in gently with rubber spatula. Once even coatly, pour into large ziploc bag, add powdered sugar, seal, and shake to coat.  Spread on cookie sheet with wax paper to dry.  While waiting, draw faces on marshmallows with food decorator pen.  Add candy, pretzels, and marshmallows store in airtight container. Enjoy!

Frozen Fever Chex Mix

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Love List

Sharing a short little love list this Sunday morning.

Ashlynn received a few board games for her birthday, and she got this one from her cousins.  Her aunt said it was one of her 4 year old cousins favorites.  We finally played it the other day and it's such a great game.  I hadn't heard or known about it, but it really is the perfect game for her age group.  It combines matching, counting, and a similar strategy to Connect4.  Highly recommend it for the pre-school or kindergarten crowd.

I love this black one piece I spotted here and here, it's a little pricier than I like to spend on a suit, but fortunately for my wallet (and husband) it's not available in my size.  Unfortunately, these ones are and they are all $118 or less. 

Now time to find my beach body, eeek!  What's on your current love list?