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


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...



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.