Super Hero Extravaganza

The holidays are always a crazy time, but in our house it is beyond. Both girls have their birthdays within the first two weeks of January, so before Christmas has even happened I’ve already moved on and started birthday planning. This year’s theme, Super Hero.

With the girls still little, they’re more than happy to share a birthday party, thank goodness! And because I only get to do it once a year I go all sorts of crazy. I was so excited when the girls decided they wanted the party at home instead of a jumpy house or trampoline park. Now I could have fun, too! I love party planning; from cake baking, to games, to decorating. I was Pinning up a storm and found too many fun ideas.

On Party Day almost 40 people crammed into our tiny California abode. Thank goodness the rain held out for a few days so we could overflow into the backyard. My Super Hero games-plan could have easily been dashed with all the storms that were blowing through.

Another perk of having the party at home is that Batgirl came and did a magic show for all the kids. One Batgirl = less $ than a jumpy house party. Her visit was a HUGE success! G is still telling everyone that Batgirl come to her party. So worth it.

In the endless search to get more bang for the buck, I found the greatest party supply site – Oriental Trading (hopefully I’m not the only one who hadn’t heard of it before!). That, along with the Dollar Store, Amazon and Target, made the party a great success for so much cheaper than it could have been. If you’re planning anything , definitely check it out and shop around. Prices vary so much for the exact same thing, and Amazon surprisingly wasn’t the cheapest.

Take a peek at my party-planning craziness, I had so much fun!!

The Food

I love to bake. If you've seen my Instagram account this won't be a big surprise. I've made the girls' birthday cakes every year (except one). This year was chocolate for G and a traditional yellow cake (dyed red inside) for M. And I couldn't let an event go by without getting a new cookie cutter, Batgirl cookies had to make an appearance.

The Games

Super Hero games are the best! I had The Flash Dash, Hulk Smash, Spider Web Practice and Super Breath. I found the best set of Hulk glove-hands to punch down empty boxes that we stacked like buildings. My husband was so happy to help me re-wrap all the empty Christmas boxes in black wrapping paper for the party. When I asked him I thought he was going to strangle me, ha! But he's an amazing dad and husband and relented.

The Dollar Store had silly string that we used to spray on black poster board with a face of the Joker for Spider Web Practice. I know, I know, mixing super hero villains, but it worked. We were cleaning up chunks of silly string from the grass for two weeks! The Dollar Store also had Avenger's bottles of bubbles for Super Breath. The littler kids loved this one. A great way to make the party work for ages 2-7.

Decorations

There is no end to the decorating possibilities! I always have too many ideas and have to reign myself back in. I replaced almost every framed picture in the house with a Super Hero themed one, finally hung my gallery wall to put up even more pictures, and generally went decorating-bonkers. All the pictures were free printables I found online, as well as the emblems for the party bags. My scissor-cutting skills were put to the test. Even our sea grass Sven got a mask!

The party was so much fun and tear-free! At this age there's always someone that inevitably breaks down from stimulus overload, but not this time. I'd call that a success.

I hope you enjoy checking out my party-craziness!

Valentine Buys and Craft Ideas

With Valentine's Day only a week away, I'm setting the mood at home by baking heart cookies, bringing out my Valentine's XO Wreath, and diving head first into Valentine crafts with the girls

On a personal love-note, my husband and I just celebrated the 15 year anniversary of our first date. How did that happen so quickly?! I still feel like we're in college and haven't aged that much. Time flies when you're having fun and in love!

Buys

I thought I'd do a quick round up of some fun love-themed gifts and decor to help everyone else get into the mood. They're not your traditional romantic gifts, these are a little more fun and lighthearted. Because after 15 years, that's what love is, right?! Hope these spark a little V-Day love in your worlds!

Craft Ideas

It wouldn't be a holiday if I didn't have some DIY on the menu. I found some new Valentine crafts that would be so fun to do! I'm hoping I have some time this weekend to get one of them done. Find even more ideas from years past here. Cheer's to Crafting Love.

Is It Halloween Already?

Halloween is a big holiday in this house. We decorate everything - every picture with webs, almost every shelf with pumpkins, skulls, snakes, rats, you name it! G keeps asking to make our house look like a Haunted House, but I keep the decorations confined to inside and the porch. Maybe next year I'll venture out and decorate the lawn with skeletons. 

This year, I found two super easy crafts that we can put outside, much to G's excitement! Cue the Spider Wreath and Tombstones. When Pottery Barn came out with their Halloween decor a few months ago, I was inspired to make knock-offs of some of their pieces. PB always has the best Halloween stuff, there's just no end to the possible inspiration from their catalog!

Spider Wreath

This wreath is incredibly easy and cheap! All you need is a grapevine wreath from Michael's, some faux spiders and ribbon from the Dollar Store, a bag of spider web, low gauge wire for hanging, a hot glue gun and about 5 minutes.

  1. Tie the wire around a sturdy piece of the wreath, in a shape that will go over your wreath hanger.
  2.  Place the spiders on the wreath wherever you like. Make sure to leave a space wide enough for the ribbon to wrap around without hiding any of your spiders
  3. Glue your spiders in place.
  4. Drape the ribbon around wreath, then over/under the hanger. Make sure there are a few inches of ribbon on the inside of the door to pin together. This will prevent the top flap of ribbon from falling down when you open the door.
  5. Stretch as much spider web around the wreath as you like.

Viola, your Spider Wreath is complete! We'll see how thrilled my husband is when he gets home today to find tarantulas crawling on the front door - he detests spiders more than anyone I've ever known. 

Tombstones

This one is a bit more time consuming than the wreath, but in the grande scheme of difficulty, they're easy, too. You'll need a few sheets of black poster board (one tombstone per sheet), 2 white paint pens (one thin for writing, one thick for the outline), a ruler/yardstick and scissors.

  1. Measure and cut out the shape you want for your tombstone. I'm OCD when it comes to making things symmetrical, so I had to measure each side very precisely. But if you're comfortable free-handing, go for it!
  2. Write the letters - I penciled two lines for each row of letters, 5 inches apart, and penciled in the letters for spacing before committing to the paint pens
  3. Use the thick paint pen to draw out the thick boarder pattern you prefer
  4. Place the tombstones outside - I used a white thumb tack to make sure they didn't fall over in the wind.

So cute and fun!

If you're looking for easy Halloween crafts, these are definitely winners. Try them out and let me know how you did!

Ready For School - Fabric Cork Boards

The second half of summer has been a whirlwind! I can't believe that school starts for BOTH girls in a week and a half. Two preschoolers in one house, life is going to be different.

To get ready for school and the impending amount of artwork that will be coming home, I wanted to get a bulletin board or two ready. The fridge was so overloaded with art after summer camp that I could barely open the door without something falling off! I saw fabric covered bulletin boards on Pinterest and decided I had to try to make one.

I started out at Walmart to find a super cheap bulletin board and walked out with one of those, plus a set of 4 cork square tiles. Then off to Joann's for fabric selection. This was by far the most time consuming part of the whole project (thank goodness I did it while the girls were in camp or it never would have happened). I had planned on the boards being in the kitchen, where I have a blue theme, so I settled on the fabrics below.

I used this tutorial to make the boards, following it for the larger brass thumbtack board and modifying it for the small cork tiles. Before starting I was a little apprehensive about using the spray adhesive, but it was so easy! I can't believe it scared me. A little fabric cutting, spray adhesive to keep the fabric in place, thumbtack pressing, and voila! Five cork boards complete and ready for art instillation.

The brass thumbtack board is now the home to the house Rules and the girls' Chore Charts. Two and four years seem old enough for them start pulling their own weight at home (some times). Plus, they're so excited to do most of the chores, it would be a shame to not have them help.

To hold up the charts and art, I hot glued Dollar Store gems to the left over thumbtacks to make them a little fancier. I also glued on mini-clothes pins that I had leftover from another project for those art pieces that I didn't want to poke holes in. 

I have to admit, I absolutely adore the cork boards! Don't mind the slight imperfections, but all in all they add a little something to an otherwise blank space. I probably love them so much because of what is hanging on them.

And if you don't have kids artwork to hang, the cork board squares are great as wall art on their own. Add a little pattern to your space in an incredibly cheap and easy way!

Dry Brushing and Your Skin

As summer is quickly ticking away (when did it become August?!), I've noticed that my skin is in serious need of some love. I heart summer because I can walk barefoot in the yard, enjoy the hot summer sun on my skin, and I love the smell of Bumble and Bumble's Creme de Coco in my hair - a summer staple for me.

Along with that comes the inevitable calloused heels and skin that looks like it could use a good dose of exfoliation. Enter the Dry Brush. It's one of those things you hear about and think, "Oh, what a great idea!" Then forget about it until something reminds you much later. That something was my mother-in-law. While visiting the east coast this summer, my daughters got into their grandma's things and were running around the house with a giant brush over their heads. Grandma loves taking care of her skin and dry brushing is part of it.

I was able to get some "alone time" while both girls were in camp for a week (cue hallelujah music) and one of my stops was TJ Maxx, where I stumbled upon their beauty section. Dry brushes and pumice stones abound! For about $10 I picked up a dry brush and foot brush/pumice stone. 

Source: GOOP

I saw GOOP's How to Dry Brush article just the other day, again reminding me that I had wanted to share my Dry Brush find with you all. It has a quick rundown of how you should do it (before showering in the AM, starting at the feet, brush upward or in a circular motion) and the numerous benefits:

"It’s said to boost circulation, sweep away dead skin cells, stimulate the lymph nodes, improve digestion, improve the appearance of cellulite, and help the cells and body in general remove waste." - GOOP

The foot brush I've been using is for after the shower. My summer feet have been particularly bad this year, but there's nothing a little brushing and pumice stone exfoliation can't get rid of. Goodbye dirty camping feet!

I've been trying to dry brush every day, which doesn't always happen. But I've definitely noticed that my skin is feeling softer and doesn't look as "tired" as it has been. I don't think I've exfoliated my body this much since before my wedding! I've yet to use body oil after brushing, though. I've always been fearful of oily skin, but I've been reading so many beneficial things about body oils that I'll have to give them a try, too. I"ll keep you posted.

Happy Brushing!

Stripes, Check!

I can't believe it happened, but the stripes are done!

My goal of painting this past weekend was more of a pipe dream, or so I thought. But my husband was actually on board and we got it done over Sat/Sun during M's naps. What do you think?! I'm really loving it. Much to my husbands dismay, I'm now thinking of wrapping it around onto the next wall. We'll see if I can convince him.

I used Benjamin Moore Whitestone to get a true gray. I didn't want brown/taupe undertones coming through since the drapes and area rug on the opposite side of the room are gray. TIP: It's always a great idea to look at the color fan-deck in order to see the lightest and darkest colors in a series so you can clearly see what the underlying tones are. Then you won't get stuck with a color that isn't exactly what you had in mind.

I'm completely OCD when it comes to painting stripes. My thought is, if they're not perfect, why even do it? So every time we paint stripes (this is the second room), I measure and mark, my husband breaks out the laser level, I use the yard stick and remeasure again before penciling them up and taping. Sometimes it feels like it takes a bit longer than necessary, but stripes are so prominent I would be kicking myself if it wasn't done right. If you haven't guessed, I'm a total perfectionist most of the time.

Now that the stripes are done, I'm planning on DIY-ing a gallery wall from some artwork I saw in the William Sonoma Home catalog. If I can fit it above the couch, I'll go 3 across 2 down. I don't think I could handle a randomly organized gallery wall in my house, no matter how cool it looks in a magazine. There's something so calming about a grid of art or photography. Check out my Pinterest board to see all of my DIY Art ideas.

I'm so excited to get this phase going. It won't be done this weekend, but hopefully soon! Wish me luck.

Living Room Update

My living/dining room refresh is taking me so much longer than I expected! But I guess it always does, doesn't it? I've have to fit projects in around the girls and their schedules, which doesn't leave a heck of a lot of time for me to search for lamps, rugs, drapes, paint...

But I feel like I've finally hit the halfway mark and am rounding the corner toward the finish line - yippee!! The furniture has been completely rearranged, I've hung new drapes, added an area rug to the sitting area, bought a tripod lamp and two decorative lamps... It's been so much fun (and time consuming) searching for the perfect fits for the room. I've spent countless hour after the girls have gone to bed "researching", as I like to call it.

And it's also been a great lesson in restraint, if you can believe it. There are so many fun, beautiful, colorful accessories that I'd love to lose myself in, but wouldn't necessarily be good for my space. I have to keep reminding myself of the steps I need to take before accessorizing - dress the room with the right furniture pieces and drapes, THEN focus on the fun little things. Oh, and keeping my focus on just one room. It's amazing how searching through countless images of furniture, etc, makes me want to start adding/changing things in every other room in the house (I'm already planning out fixes for my bedroom!). Focus. Focus. Focus. I feel like I have adult A.D.D.

Luckily, I've gotten my furniture squared away, it's organized the way I want it, the drapes and big mirror/art pieces are hung on the wall. But over the Memorial Day weekend, I realized that my room is still just a big rectangular box, no architectural interest at all. I've been thinking of painting one of the walls an accent color, but after playing with the girls in their room the other day, I realized the living room needs STRIPES! I bought a gallon of Benjamin Moore's Whitestone for a very subtle gray. I'm planning on thick stripes, maybe  18" high with 10" stripes of the existing wall color, changing the width for more visual interest. Check out some of my stripe-inspiration images: 

Now onto my room...

BEFORE - a quick reminder of where I started

And ALMOST- AFTER

Before I started, I created a Pinterest board with all of the images and rooms that I loved. I'm going for a more Mid Century Modern look. I don't want to create a time capsule, just a hint of a time-warp (kidding!). The stripes will go on the wreath wall. And, of course, I need to add in decorative accessories. I'm imagining a big plant in the center of the wall with the ocean photograph, recovering the dining chairs with a printed fabric, creating a gallery wall in place of the wreath...the list goes on. 

As soon as the stripes go up, I'll let you all take a look. Cross your fingers for this coming weekend to get it done! Wishful thinking???

 

Beauty Addition

Ta da! I've updated the website - new colors, new fonts, new topic! I've been meaning to do this for so long, but never made the time. I had to step away for a bit and then came back with a fresh perspective. Gotta love a mental vacation for inspiration.

Let me start off by saying that I'm not the most make-up savvy person in the world, but I like to think I know how to beautify myself. My make-up style is pretty natural looking, barely-there, almost invisible... But as I'm getting older, I've begun to use it a bit more. I blame the fine lines and graying hair on the kids ;-) And I've gotten to the point in my life that if I find something that works, I want to share it with the world. So here I am, sharing my latest make-up find with you!

My big problem (or one of them) is the bags under my eyes. I never used to use concealer until after having my girls and felt like my new "normal" look was perpetual bags from lack of sleep. I saw the best quote on FB that completely encompasses my entire being at the moment:

Friend: You look tired
Me: I have two kids. I'm pretty sure this is just my face now.

To ward off looking 10 years older than I actually am, I've started to build an arsenal of concealer. I currently alternate between Bare Minerals foundation brushed on and Burberry Cashmere Concealer. They really do the job, but I recently started having a big problem with my mascara flaking below my eyes, making me look like I had no concealer on at all (aka raccoon eyes)! All my hard work was worth nothing at this point. UNTIL... Benefit's They're Real! Tinted Lash Primer.

I used to use Benefit Cosmetics all the time. But you know how it goes, I would see some new product in a magazine and have to try it, steering away from my tried-and-true. Their She Laq was my go-to mascara "sealer" that solved all my previous flaking mascara problems. With my new mascara-on-concealer issues I thought I would try waterproof mascara (didn't fix it). So I went back to Benefit to find She Laq, which I had completely forgotten about. Tragically, it's been discontinued. HOW??!! Luckily the sales woman pointed me toward They're Real! Tinted Lash Primer and eye makeup remover. Not only does the primer make my lashes look longer, it's worked like a charm at stopping my mascara from flaking below my eyes! Thank you, Benefit sales lady, for taking a chance on a completely frazzled-looking mom with two kids pulling on her legs that was about to have a s*%t fit and leave the store if you hadn't saved me and ignored my kids' hollering along with me.

And because I love to try a new product, she talked me into their Gimme Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel, after asking me if I ever used anything on my eyebrows. Yikes, I know I came in with almost no makeup on, but I didn't realize they had lightened up enough for a complete stranger to comment on. I've been using it absolutely every day since. It has a light formula that actually keeps my brows in place with the added benefit of lightly tinting them for a very natural look. It's remarkably easy to put on and takes all of about 5 seconds to apply. I remember reading somewhere that darker eye brows makes you look more youthful. Couldn't hurt to try!

A good friend of mine swears by They're Real! Lengthening Mascara. She is absolutely amazing with makeup. I'm pretty sure I complimented her on her makeup before I even knew her name. She's daring with colors, trying different products, and her application is impeccable. Check her out on Instagram, you'll love following her @blue.eyed_balabusta Doesn't hurt that she's a Jersey girl and funny as can be :-)

Let me know what you think about the products and the addition of a Beauty section on the blog. I'd love your feedback.

Until next time...