I Lava You (and Frozen)

The girls have been addicted to watching Inside Out, the cutest movie I've seen since Frozen. But only in the last week did we discover the Bonus movie, Lava. It is the PERFECT pre-Valentine's Day video. Only 5 1/2 minutes, but such a great volcano love story. Watch it here. I hope it brings a smile to your face :-)


It's been about a month since the girls' Frozen birthday party, how did that happen?! I've been meaning to share my pictures of the party, but life gets in the way. I have to admit, I went a bit crazy with all the little details, I went Pinterest happy. Oh, and thank you to my sister for taking the pictures. Of course on party day I was bustling around trying to get things ready and didn't have time to take them, so THANKS K.M.!

I started two weeks ahead of time, as soon as I de-Christmas-ed the house. I found hanging lanterns and snowflakes for a great deal on Zulily, and we were living with those hanging from the ceiling for over a week. I always forget to check out Zulily's Home section, but got lucky the day I did. And other than a handful of other items, I was able to grab most everything from the Dollar Store - thank you, girls, for wanting a birthday theme that's no longer the it theme and perfectly timed with their Winter/Christmas decor!

My little experiment with Royal Icing at Christmas was so fun that I had to make cookies for the party. I was ridiculously impressed with myself - thanks to my husband's help! The sugar cookie recipe is here. And I had to make Rice Krispie Snow Balls (minus the coconut and powdered sugar), delicious!

I also got into the cake-making business. The 5 layer snowflake cake was by far my favorite. I dyed the cake mix blue, then frosted it with a very simple butter cream frosting and piped the top snowflake with a ziplock baggie, one corner cut off. Great things can come from the unexpected! The big cake was supposed to be blue ombre, but didn't quite make it. Oh well, it wasn't a complete disaster. Oh! My mother, who can do absolutely everything, made the great blue and purple cake pops. She is amazing!

It was such a fun party! I had a Snowflake Necklace station, Decorating Snowflakes station, Pin-the-Nose on Olaf (free hand turned out pretty good!), Frozen bowling and a Snowball Toss, and the party favorite Color Frozen Scenes. There are so many free Frozen printables on Pinterest, all you need is a good color printer. Check out my Pinterest board for all the different ones I used/looked into.

I definitely got Frozen Fever, it was just too much fun! Looking back, I think I had more fun than the girls. Yes, I've gone insane :-)

If there are any little girls in your world, hopefully this can give you some fun birthday ideas.

February Full of Love

Before getting started, I wanted to thank everyone for their heartfelt notes of encouragement after my last post about Toddler G's head. Your support made me feel so much better. Thank you! It's wonderful to know that you all are out there rooting for me, and that I'm not the worst mother in the world.


Now that it's February, let's celebrate Valentine's Month! I'm not the biggest fan of the idea of celebrating your love only one day a year. Every day should be Valentine's Day in my book. But since there is a designated day, why not enjoy it, right?! 

I brought out the XO "wreath" that I made last year and have a Valentine's craft from Target for the girls to conquer at their leisure. Cookies are in the works, of course, and the scrapbook paper transition for my kitchen frames will soon be underway. Side note, I realize I'm a serious cookie-aholic. There is never a time when I don't have cookies in the freezer (homemade), I eat them almost every day with my afternoon coffee... Is that a problem? I need to re-evaluate their importance in my life - incredibly high! Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

First shared in my I Heart You post

After reviewing last year's VDay post, I realized that one of my personal "Craft Challenges" didn't get done, the XO garland. I've got to get that one done this year. It's fun, cute, and super easy looking. I also found a handful of other Valentine's Day projects that would be fun, maybe a little late to start now, but I'll try!

AND, here's a little round-up of fun Valentine-inspired home accessories I found in my searches:

Enjoy Valentine's Month. Make sure it's full of love!

Oh! I almost forgot, I just chopped off my hair. It was completely spur of the moment and I didn't even think about doing it until I got to the salon. Don't mind my end-of-day tired look, and the girls' bathroom. What do you think???

To the ER...

*** Personal Post Alert ***

I very rarely share deeply personal things about myself or my family on the Blog, but I felt compelled after an incident late last week. I had been hoping to write about the girls' Frozen birthday party, but other things came up and completely derailed my plans.

Last week Toddler G slipped in the shower and hit her head on the step-up. It was horrifying. There was a gaping hole in her forehead, right above her eye, and I swear I could see her skull (I'm trying to convince myself it wasn't). Thankfully there wasn't much blood, but my husband and I still did our share of freaking out. After getting to the ER, waiting only 3 hours, and having a plastic surgeon stitch what seemed like layer upon layer upon layer of her forehead (I almost fainted mid-process and had to go outside), she's feeling perfectly fine and starting to heal. But I spent the rest of the day crying because somehow, despite all my diligent watching and cautioning, something horrible happened to my baby. It made me feel completely helpless. If I can't protect her against slipping in the shower, how will I be able to protect her from the possible dangers to come? 

I am the one person (for most of the day) that has complete control over the girls. I know what they're doing at almost every moment, know what they need, what they want, can understand even their most uncomprehending babble or screaming. How could this happen? It still brings me to tears. All I can envision is her blond curly head face-down in the shower. I was right there and it still happened. 

I know there are far worse things that can happen to a child, but this is the worst thing that's happened to her, us, since she was born. It was heart breaking.

And to make matters worse, once the healing has finished, we've got a year of breaking down scar tissue right in the middle of her forehead. In a world that is, sadly, very superficial, we've got to try to make what could be a garish scar invisible. I hate having to think about that, because I try not to focus on looks, weight, etc. But one of the first things the ER nurse said to us was that, because Toddler G is a girl, she'd really recommend us calling a plastic surgeon. Its hard enough being a girl and woman, now we've got to worry about scarring. Sigh. All those little nagging insecurities about my appearance are bubbling up to the surface. You know, the ones that I thought I got over in my early 20's. I guess they never really go away.

I'm trying to be optimistic - she's only 4, we can be super diligent about helping her heal to the best of our ability, and she doesn't have any internal injuries or concussion or anything life-changing. She's still her bouncy, if now completely rude, self. Whatever rude button was pressed when she fell, we've got to un-press it - I'm tired of being called a stupid head. 

Ok, thank you for listening! I'm done crying and feeling sorry for myself. On to design-y stuff next post.

Happy Belated New Year Trends

January is already half over and here I am with a New Year, New Trends post. Better late than never!

The first half of the month has been such a blur with both girls having their birthday, the Frozen-themed party to end all Frozen parties that I threw, and then the party recovery (for me!). I'll share more on that in the next week or so as I polish up my photos, etc. Needless to say, 2016 hasn't felt much different than 2015. There hasn't been a chance to breathe since Christmas!

Nonetheless, I've been trying to catch up on some of my design reading and have seen so many wonderful things to start off the new year. Everyone always has a myriad of predictions and trends that will take hold, so I've filtered through them and am giving you the ones I'm seeing/loving/hoping will stick.

Color of the Year

Each year Pantone comes out with a fabulous color that they see taking the world by storm. But this year is even better, they have TWO: Rose Quartz and Serenity

So calm and peaceful. A nod to how the year will play out, hopefully.  I found some fabulous interiors that are already incorporating this color trend.

Benjamin Moore even has a Color of the Year, Simply White. I love white and have been dreaming of a white kitchen forever. I guess B.M. figured you can't go wrong with a neutral that can be used any time anywhere.

Colored Stainless Steel Appliances

I remember first seeing an ad for black stainless KitchenAid appliances back in June. Not only is stainless steel now black, but its also in a lighter Sunset Bronze finish. Apparently its trending and will be in even more kitchens in the year to come. No matter what your thoughts on stainless, the new shades add a sleekness that has been missing from appliances for a while. For me, I like the crispness of stainless, but feel that it's in absolutely every kitchen and there's little to be excited about, until now! 

Statement Bathroom-Mirrors

Ever since my mom ditched her builder-basic clip mirror in the bathroom for an over-sized framed Ikea mirror this summer, I've wanted to do it in every bathroom in my house! Flip it on the horizontal and voila, you've got a great statement piece to dress up the bathroom. You can even DIY your plain old mirror into something fabulous here.

Patterned Kitchen Tile

The days of neutral kitchen tile are over. Its time to spice up the kitchen, permanently!

World-Wide Treasures

You can't flip through a magazine or catalog without seeing wonderful handcrafted objects from around the globe. From Guatemalan fabrics, to Indian boxes, linework shoulder vases made in the Phillipines, it's all about the one-of-a-kind look to make your home stand out of the crowd.


Enjoy your start to 2016. I have a feeling it's going to be a great year full of fun and creative things!

To Create a Tassel

As I mentioned in my last post, over the last few months I've developed a new addiction - making tassels. They're everywhere! From earrings to jewelry to key rings to charms on purses... From Coach, to Michael Kors, to BCBG... You name it, they've put a tassel on it. After seeing a fellow blogger's post about tassels earlier this year, the tassel-making seed was planted in my head. I thought about them for a while, imagined what I could do, then decided to jump in.

My first attempt at tassel-making was in September, when I made my Fall Tassel Garland. Not my finest moment, but it was a great start (and now I have an endless supply of tassels to adorn gifts!). Since then, I've experimented with large yarn tassels, pompom tassels, vegan leather tassels, embroidery floss tassels, string tassels, tassels on beaded garlands... And a plethora of pompoms. I have plans to make a large purse charm, tassels with beads and metal detailing, even necklaces. Clearly, I just can't get enough of them!

I started with yarn tassels, moved to string, vegan leather, and finally embroidery string. There are so many different materials to use, so many different ways to adorn them. The options are limitless, probably why I love making them so much! I put this batch on key rings and lobster clasps to make them more useful for me and anyone I happen to gift them to. 

I've used so many different tutorials that it's hard to say which I stayed true to. But here's a great one from Lovely Indeed to get you started.

I made beaded garlands with small and large yarn tassels. The small white tassel bead garland is now adorning a floor lamp that I'm dying to get rid of - I had to "pretty it up" somehow. And Sven needed a little holiday cheer. He's so much happier now ;-) You can find the beads here. I used about 45 for the shorter white garland and 75 for the longer red one.

Tassels are so fun and easy to make, even therapeutic; especially for my frazzled nerves after a full day of two toddlers screaming at me. I'm starting to believe there's nothing a glass of wine and some tassel making can't fix! I can sit and make them while watching TV, zoning out but feeling like I'm still accomplishing something.  I've tried the adult coloring book craze, which I love, but I don't feel terribly productive after having spent time doing it. So, my latest addiction is actually helping me! Maybe it'll turn into a new career, Etsy here I come (wink, wink)!

Have you made tassels? I'd love to hear your tips and tricks of the trade. Happy tassel-ing!

 

It's Christmas Time

It's officially Christmas time. The decorating of the house and tree are done, the gingerbread houses have been decorated (and eaten, as of a few nights ago), the smells of Christmas are in the air...

I'm one of the bazillion people that adore Christmas. Not only is it the lights, the excitement, the decorating, the yummy smells, how friendly people are (if they're not at the mall), it's also my birthday month. That is by far the most important part (wink, wink).

And it's not every day that I get to see my mom and sisters and their families, despite living within an hour or so drive. But having them at our house, eating Swedish food, drinking glogg, laughing, watching the kids play together...I love it. And I've always been a sucker for presents. I used to tell my husband that he could wrap up a paperclip and I'd be happy. There's something about the surprise of opening gifts that gets me every time.

I wanted to share my holiday cheer with everyone and do a little "Christmas Decor Tour" of my home. Sometimes I worry if I've gone over the top with decorating, but really, who cares? If you love it, you live it, right?! I did a little gold spray painting, ornament-making with the girls, ribbon on the tree (which I've never done before), a wreath (and one still in the works)...I didn't think I was going to be doing so much, but I got sucked into all the Christmas stuff at the Dollar Store and my mind went crazy with ideas. So here are the results:

I was inspired to wrap our Christmas tree in mesh ribbon this year. I started at the bottom of the tree (in the back), wrapping the ribbon with a metal ornament hook around a branch every foot/foot and a half. I ended up using about a reem and a half of ribbon. Thankfully it came in a set of two! The star was picked out by the girls, from Target. The last few years I've kept the ornaments on the bottom half soft and destructible for the kids. It's still hard to keep Baby M from pulling down the tree. Must. Touch. Tree.

I used gold spray paint on this paper mache reindeer head from the craft store. Looks great next to the Christmas scrapbook paper I found there, too. And I've been holding onto 4 pears from the Dollar Store since September and finally got around to spraying them gold. They look pretty nice with the pine cones I found at the park. I love cheap table decor.

I whipped this DIY wreath out in about 2 hours, while Baby M was taking her nap. I bought a few containers of ornaments at the Dollar Store and a grapevine wreath at Trader Joe's, then hot glued the heck out of the tops of each ornament and placed them on. I was going for a deconstructed look, only to have Toddler G ask why I hadn't finished it. Oh well, I still like it.

I love my coffee filter tree. I used a green tree form and almost 2 packs of large coffee filters. It took a bunch of time and a ton of glue, but I think its so pretty, and I can use it again for the girls' birthday party next month. The tutorial is here if you're interested.

The family room water buffalo got a Dollar Store Santa hat, and I made a wooden bead and tassel necklace for the deer - Baby M calls him Sven (from Frozen), I love it.

I've got so many projects going on right now that I hope I didn't forget anything. I've become addicted to something in the past few months that I'll share later this week. It's what I spend almost every night doing, or at least thinking about. Have I peaked your interest?!

Happy decorating of your own homes and enjoying the Christmas season!

The Smells of Christmas

Now that Christmas is upon us, decorating is in full force, the sounds and smells of Christmas are filling the house, and I'm getting super excited for my favorite holiday.

They say smells bring back the strongest memories, and in the spirit of the smells of Christmas, I had to share the mulling spices that are filling our home at this time of year. My mother always had a pot of mulling spices on the stove; I can't remember a Christmas without them! Mulling spices and Glogg, that is (shout out to all those with Swedish heritage!). Turn them on in the morning, after coming home in the afternoon/evening, and breathe in Christmas.

It's wonderful how easy it is to make your home smell like Christmas. Our family recipe goes a little like this:

  • the peel of 1 orange
  • 3-4 small cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 - 1 tablespoon of whole cloves

Throw all of the ingredients into a small pot filled approximately 1/2 full of water, and simmer. Your home will smell like Christmas in no time! This is a very loose recipe, so you can tweek it at will.

There are so many different types of home-made mulling spices out there. I was searching around for some variations to add a little "spice" to my mulling spices, and found some that sound great. I haven't tried them yet, so I can't attest to the wonders of their scent, but you can't really go wrong.

Mulling Spice Blend very similar to my own - just add whole allspice

From MyRecipe.com

Holiday Mulling Spices that include cardamom, peppercorns, star anise, all spice, and more. 

From the Cooking Channel

Homemade Mulling Spices that add a twist with candied ginger.

From Shutterbean

The Smells of the Season mulling spices include cranberries, yum!

From Make it Do

The Mountain Rose Blog has a slightly more intense recipe, but the list of ingredients would smell divine!

From The Mountain Rose Blog

I hope your home starts smelling like Christmas in no time!

Happy Thanksgiving!

With Thanksgiving less than a week away, I wanted to share some beautiful tablescapes to inspire you and some helpful tips to make Turkey Day entertaining that much easier.

Tablescapes

Let the Thanksgiving beauty wash over you ;-)

Easy Decorating Tips

These are so easy you could do them yourself. Really! There are still 5 days to pull these little DIYs together...

Be inspired by the season! Enjoy your Thanksgiving with lots of family and friends.

We're heading out to visit family for the holiday. Wish me luck with an almost 2 and almost 4 year old crammed into two flights! I know (hope) we'll survive, its just a question of how many times I have to run up and down the aisle after Baby M, the child never sits still!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Better Than Your Average Pumpkin Pie

The family is packing up and heading out this Thanksgiving, making the trek across the country to my in-laws'. I was a little sad not to be making my own turkey dinner (only a little), so when Toddler G asked me to make a pumpkin pie the other day, I was super excited. I'd heard that adding Dulce de Leche to a pumpkin pie would make it even better and I couldn't wait to try it out.

Pumpkin Pie with Dulce de Leche drizzled over the top

There wasn't enough time in my weekend schedule to bake a pie from scratch - I usually like to make my own pie crusts - so I opted for the Trader Joe's version. They sell frozen pie crusts and canned organic pumpkin, the can even has an easy recipe on the side. I don't know why, but pumpkin pie has always intimidated me. But this recipe is crazy easy, it really surprised me.

After letting the crust defrost, I tried to unwrap it and put it in the pie pan. That was near impossible. The crust broke into a million pieces! Urg. I spent a ton of time trying to press the pieces together, and barely got it into the pan. Note to self, make crust from scratch, it takes almost as much time.

After mixing the ingredients and putting the pie in the oven for a few minutes, I added the secret ingredient  - Dulce de Leche (another Trader Joe's holiday staple). I heated a few tablespoons in the microwave and drizzled it onto the pie. Important note, make sure the pie has cooked for 10 minutes or so in order for the dulce de leche to stay on the top rather than sink to the bottom. You could even make designs in it (wish I'd thought of this before I started, next time!).

Voila! The pie was done and Toddler G got to sample her requested pie. It was great, Toddler G even had 3 bites! (She usually won't eat pie at all, so this was really impressive). The Dulce de Leche added a lot of extra yum to an already yummy pie. I'm most definitely going to make pumpkin pie with Dulce de Leche going forward, without a doubt!

Hope you try it and love it, too! Tell me your thoughts and any pumpkin pie twists you use and love.

PS. This post is in no way affiliated with Trader Joe's, it just happens to be my favorite grocery store.

To DIY or Not to DIY

Ever since I started the blog I've discovered that I love making things, all sorts of things, all by myself. But every once in a while I wonder if its more expensive doing it myself, or would I end up saving money just buying something already-done. 

For today's project, a Paint-Dipped Cutting Board and Spoon, it is definitely cheaper to Do-It-Yourself. Not only did it cost me less than $8 to finish one cutting board and spoon, but I saw an almost identical set (including a wooden fork) on Etsy for $40. Wait, what?!! There wasn't a question, I had to try this one out myself.

The project ended up being so easy. Here's what to do:

  1. Pick up an Ikea Proppmaatt cutting board ($2.99) and Rort wooden spoon ($1.79)
  2. Tape off the handles of both the cutting board and spoon with painters tape (I already had a ton of this at home)
  3. Paint 2-3 coats on the handles with acrylic paint from the craft store in a variety of colors (I used Martha Stewart Crafts Acrylic paint $2.49 each). The Pearl and Satin finishes needed 3 coats while the High Gloss only needed two. 
  4. Wait for the paint to dry, peel off the painters tape and enjoy!

Really, it was that easy! The hardest part of the whole project was removing the label from the spoons before I even got started.

These are so happy, I just love them! They'd also make great gifts, now that its the holiday season.

I hope you try out this super easy DIY. Have fun!