Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring Break!

We are so lucky to have a BEAUTIFUL place to visit each and every spring.  Seriously, we never venture to new places because we LOVE LOVE LOVE Marco Island, Florida!  My parents visited for years before they built a house here...and then a BIGGER house so they'd have room for their family to visit.  My parents have been retired for a few years and now every year they leave right after Christmas and spend the cold winter months here...in paradise.   I can't blame them.  Don't get me wrong, I miss them and sometimes wish they were home but we are so lucky to have such a LOVELY vacation spot!

They live on a canal so they can have a boat and here is a little factoid about me...I boating!  It's the BEST!  Someday the hubby and I want to live on a boat for a year...just for the experience!  So we boat, swim, go to the beach, eat fresh fish and get our necessary dose of vitamin D.  My kids are always in heaven.  My parents also got a puppy a few years ago and we get to spend a few days loving on Miss Lily...oh she's so CUTE!  She's like a stuffed animal come to life!  Here is a peek at our vacation fun...

Happy Spring Break from Marco Island...Island in the sun!!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Girls Only Day!

Although I am not in the habit of letting my children frequently miss school, I did offer a "treat" to the girl to help ease the pain of Mom going back to work full time (really?  Forty nine days=Full Time?)  Anyway, I told her we could have a special Mom and Sissy day...ya know...play games...ride bikes...make cookies...the whole day just doing fun things...TOGETHER!  So last Wednesday was our day.  We started by playing some "Guess Who"  (a classic & a favorite!)


We then moved on to cookie making...I let her do EVERYTHING by herself!  That little genius has even mastered my Kitchen Aid!




It was a glorious pre-spring day so we took advantage by making a few trips around the block with Miss Honey.  Em rode her bike, I walked/ran.  Nice!

After showering and gussying up we proceeded to do a few errands and met Chris at Panera for lunch.  Her favorite place!

Finally, we topped off the day with Mom and Daughter pedicures.  When you have a gift card and an up coming Florida trip you simply HAVE to have nice toes!  (She held my hand while we sat in the chairs...I really love this little girl!)

It started out being a day for her...to help her get through the rest of the school year with a little less Mom but I think it ended up being a gift to me.  She's such a little happy ray of sunshine and I am SO LUCKY TO HAVE HER!   I think in the coming weeks when I'm tired or frazzled or frustrated I am going to will myself to think about our Girls Only Day and remember how lucky I really am!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy Green Day!

Here is my beautiful boy before school...I ironed the underneath shirt...he added the flannel...puzzling since it was in the high 50's today??  But he's SO cute and SO good and SO wonderful...who cares!  He could wear a paper bag and be adorable!  He's so busy these days with the middle school play...Cinderella.  He's also working on his second degree black belt in TaeKwonDo and in a number of other school activities so I miss him...A LOT!  

This is my cute girl after a long day of school and hip hop dancing...I made her model headbands so I could post my activities on facebook!  She did wear a headband similar to this today for green day...she also wore a shamrock shirt and rainbow socks...she looked ADORABLE!  Yesterday we had a girl day and I let her play hooky.  I will post about that later...(here's a hint...it was FUN!)

Anyway...happy St. Patrick's Day to you...we celebrated with surprise shamrock shakes Chris brought home...yum!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring Cleaning...and other Stuff!

It's March.  Just a few more days until it's "officially" Spring.  To many this means birds chirping, trees budding, flowers breaking their beautiful green stems through the dirt preparing to dazzle us all with their  beauty...a relief after a L..O..N..G  winter.  To me it means it's TIME TO CLEAN!  

A few of my favorite blogs are challenging readers to purge while cleaning.  I love this idea!  Of course this idea is presented days before I start teaching kindergarten full time until the end of the school year so I have to vastly scale down such an ambitious plan.  I started with our Master Bath with hopes to just wipe away all the baby powder and throw out some expired toiletries...well...4 garbage bags later (and 2 hours) I was done and it felt GREAT!  I didn't take "before" pictures on purpose...too gross!  But here are some snazzy "after" shots for you to admire!


Most of the bags came from this closet.  I downsized many of the bins from medium to shoe box size!   I threw out all those OLD little shampoo and lotion bottles from hotels we visited YEARS ago (yuck!)  I also unearthed a First Aid kit given to us before we married...almost 18 years ago!  We've NEVER used it...good bye!   Now our closet is home to necessary supplies.  Everything is labeled and the bottom shelves house my cleaning supplies.  Nice!


This drawer is home to all my hair-doing supplies and it was a tangled MESS!  Now it's clean and organized.  I will no longer spend time in the morning untangling cords so I can dry my hair or plug in my flat iron...AHHHH!


On a regular day I would NEVER show ANYONE my bathroom cabinet but I am so proud of my newly organized...clean...space!  I am hoping this will shave 5-10 minutes off my morning routine!


Here is the view under Chris' sink...he's so pretty he doesn't need all the beauty supplies I need!  (Isn't that the truth...guys just get better with age...ugh!)

Although I only cleaned and purged one room in my house I am hopeful I can hit a few more spaces before summer officially starts...I'll keep you posted.  Until then check our this and this...these girls are getting it done!!!

Monday, March 14, 2011


     Well...if you've gotten the latest Pottery Barn catalog you know that terrariums are all the rage this spring.  I actually made a few this past weekend and I am REALLY impressed with the results!  Terrariums are easy to make...and FUN!  (This is a good spring project for those anxious to get outside and start digging in the dirt!)

I've been on the prowl for information about terrariums...looking for cool little factoids and what to include in a children's piece I am working on...but there are also tons of great YouTube videos as well!   Pretty much everything I've read led me to make the following supply list...

1.  potting soil
2.  ground charcoal (I'll explain this in a bit.)
3.  gravel or small rocks
4.  clear glass containers with or without lids
5.  plants with the same growing requirements
6.  decorative elements (optional)

(Total side note...looking at these photos just solidifies my decision to repaint my laundry room this summer...a soft cool blue maybe?  I don't like the red anymore...AT ALL!)

I have these FABU glass containers I bought a few years ago at the local Home Goods.  They've traveled all over my house and been home to glass ornaments, pine cones, and fake lemons.  They are so versatile... I had to have them...and...they make PERFECT terrariums!!   I decided to make terrariums in all 3 so I could spread them out around the house and add a bit of green in anticipation of spring!

I headed to Home Depot thinking I'd be able to purchase everything on my list.  Here is where it got tricky.  I found potting soil (obviously) and some great succulents but I couldn't find the charcoal (and I knew I could find stones cheaper!)   While doing research I found out that charcoal is an important ingredient because it helps keep your terrarium mold-free.  I know I can use all the help I can get when it comes to growing anything so I brought my succulents home and checked online as to where I would find charcoal.  (Here is where I give BIG kudos to my WONDERFUL husband because he told me I should go to the pet store.)  I headed to Pet Co and purchased the last 2 items on my list...charcoal ($10.99)  and gravel ($3.99 a bag)  which I found in the aquarium section.

The first step for me was to rinse out my jars and dry them well.  I made sure not to use any chemicals to clean out the jars for fear this may hurt the plants.  Next, I put about one inch of gravel in the bottom of each jar for drainage.


Then sprinkle about 1/2 an inch of charcoal over the gravel...



After the charcoal goes the potting soil.  These three items should take up about 1/3 of your glass container.

Finally...the FUN part...the plants!  When selecting my plants I tried to pick a variety of color and again, pick plants with similar growing requirements.  Before you place each plant in your terrarium you want to gently shake off excess soil and loosen the root ball a bit.

Finally...I chose to use a squirt bottle to water my plants.  You never want to over water a terrarium.  A spritz with a bit of water should do the trick...and then the cover...and I was DONE!

These beauties now live in my family room ...and I LOVE how they turned out.  I made another one with a skinny, taller glass container but I had to add one more plant to that one so back to Home Depot for another plant.  The third terrarium is on a table at the top of my stairs and it looks so cute!  

As far as my research about children's terrariums I learned that kids can make them in glass jars that can be recycled like pasta jars.  I also read that some terrariums can house small pets.   This was a fun project and one that I intend to repeat with my kids.  I think the kids will most likely want to add decorative elements like favorite stones or mini figures.  

One last bit of important info...when your terrarium plants start to grow bigger, they can be split and replanted.  You don't want the plants to completely take over all the space in the container...it should look like a tiny habitat!  

I am linking up here...



Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Kids Summer Clothing...How I Organize (and Make Money)

I don't know about you but my DARLING daughter likes to wear summer clothes ALL YEAR LONG!  I swear she was born that way.  She thinks it's always shorts weather and would go without a coat all winter long if she could.  Well...sister...we live in the Midwest so it's cold 9 months of the year and we can't live in shorts.  I actually had to start packing her summer clothes away right before Halloween.  I've been doing it for years so I have a system down and I'd like to share it...for all of you who tend to have piles and pile of out of season clothes sitting around that make you feel overwhelmed.

Step 1:  Around October I set aside a few hours to  pull out all the kids summer clothes and go through them.  I usually find this easiest to do in their rooms so I always am sure to do 2 things... 

(Above pile is for "give away" but boy has some little cousins who will love getting some of his character shirts!)

1.  Make sure your children are not home or are occupied so as not to disturb you worse yet, cry when you decide it's time to let go of that FAVORITE cover up that has seen better days!
2.  You will need 1 tub per child and then a larger tub to store Consignment Store items.   I only use tubs with lids so while they are in storage all winter they are stackable.  So, for 2 children I will need 2 medium bins and 1 larger bin.  My consignment bin is white to blend in with my closet and the kids bins are clear on the bottom so I can see what items are in each from a glance.  I got the flatter, rectangular bins that can easily slide under a bed.  Don't get me wrong, I can't actually put my daughter's bin there because then she would pull out her hippest sundress in the middle of a blizzard.  Nope, I put her bins on the top shelf of her closet so even with a chair she cannot reach it!  (Mean Mom!)

(Top bin goes in daughter's closet...big white bin gets put in my closet.  If my closet wasn't big enough I'd put it in the basement or attic.)

Step 2:  I go through each item and decide if it's bound for  consignment or can make it another year in my child's wardrobe.  As they get older lots of summer items can actually make it more than one year.  Especially if it was roomy the summer before.  If it's a keeper it goes in the smaller bin folded to lay VERY flat.  You can get more items in the bin that way.  If it's bound for the consignment shop I check VERY carefully for stains.   If there are stains or if the items needs any repairs then it goes in a pile for later attention.  If not it goes in the bin.

Step 3:  I am sure to wash and treat stains RIGHT AWAY.  This is key because when it's time to send these items to the consignment shop I don't have to worry about them being rejected for stains.

Step 4:  Put your items away.  I am sure to call the Consignment shop a few months before each season to find out when they are taking new items.  For example, it's March 2nd and I just dropped my spring/summer bin off today.  I use a Consignment shop in Morris, IL called "Still Stylin"  They have a big following and fair prices.  Here is my trick though...BEFORE I drop off my items I iron/steam each one.  Dresses from the dry cleaners are still hanging on the hangers and items are looking their best.   This is the best way to ensure that the shop owner will want to keep and sell your items.  I also think items go faster when they are in good shape and look like they've been cared for.  

(My ironing pile for today...makes the clothes look like new.)

That's it.  Pretty easy if you have a plan and execute it all in one day.  I had both kids try on the items I kept for this summer and it gives me an EXCELLENT idea of what each child needs and sizes so if I'm out and I see a good deal I can be a confident shopper.

(Here are the Consignment Store items.)

(These bags are Goodwill or BUST!)

I hope my system helps you out even a little bit.  I feel better knowing that I am recycling my kids clothes.  BTW... the clothing items that have permanent stains or are out of style go to a local charity.  I make a little money to put toward new clothes and I'm not wasting money on clothes my kids don't need.   Now if I could just convince my kids that even though it's March...it's still 39 degrees and they need their winter coats and hats!!!  (but that's for another day!)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fun Weekend and Cute Bags! (What Could Be Better?)

Here's a little 411 on this past weekend...it was SO much FUN!  Let's go in the way back machine to last November.  We traveled to Champaign, IL (in the in-laws' RV) to visit my cousin and her family and attend a U of I football game.  The husbands were psyched to tailgate with the RV for the mere fact that they wouldn't have to travel far to use the bathroom (really?)  We left on a Saturday morning and picked them up in our glorious ride to head STRAIGHT for the tailgating area.  When my fabulous cousin loaded her tailgating items in the RV I immediately noticed her AWESOME bags!  I was in awe.  I couldn't stop drooling over them...but the big question..."WHERE DID YOU GET THOSE CUTE CUTE CUTIE CUTE BAGS??"  Mind you, I think I said that before I even said "hello" because I LOVE A CUTE BAG!!!  (I'm sorry but...who doesn't?)

My cousin told me about a company called "31"...I'd never heard of it but I was TAKEN with all the CUTE bags in their catalog!  She'd been to a few shows so she had LOTS  to show me.  I was hooked...I needed some 31 bags...but HOW?  I'd never heard of the company.  ME!  The girl who has had almost every home party known to mankind!  I knew I'd have to do some investigating.  Well...I didn't have to look far...a few months later my cousin called me to tell me she was becoming a 31 consultant...YIPEE!  I immediately told her I'd have a party and the planning began.  It had to happen soon because Momma wanted a cute polka dot purse for spring!

This past weekend we hosted a 31 party while the dads and kids went to a local pizza joint to hang out.  We had a GREAT time!  I had a wonderful group of women over to oooh and ahhh over the catalogs and all of my cousin's demo bags....what do you think happens when you get a group of women together with cute bags and endless possibilities?  Loads of shopping!

  But we weren't the only ones who had fun...the kiddos turned my basement into play central and even had a sleepover down there!  

We all got to catch up and it was a wonderful weekend!  Thanks Sara and John for making the trip simply to  sell some bags!  Kate and Griff...your cousins love you tons!  Here's to another fun weekend sometime soon!  If you are interested in 31 bags or just want to check out the catalog go here.  My cousin, Sara Doyle will be VERY HAPPY to help you.  

I will post when all the cute loot comes in!  Until then...I will hopelessly stalk the UPS delivery man!