Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Earthy and Warm Living Room

This is my view throughout the day from the sink, :whine: At least it's a nice view!

My favorite thing about our floorplan was how open it was. Because of this, however, it makes it a little more challenging to decorate. Having a living room that is open to the dining room and kitchen, I wasn't sure what "theme" to go with that I wouldn't end up hating in 6 months.

So I decided to go with an "un-theme." Everything was going to be fair game, so long as it looked vintage-y, warm and homey. This would include a lot of neutrals with pops of white.

I will include as many details about the accents/where I got them and tutorials for things that got a new look.

Here we go!

 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How to use Gymbucks

 
 

A Virtuous Woman seeks her husband’s approval before making purchases and spends money wisely. She is careful to purchase quality items which her family needs. (Proverbs 31: 14, Proverbs 31: 16, Proverbs 31: 18, 1 Timothy 6: 10, Ephesians 5: 23, Deuteronomy 14: 22, Numbers 18: 26)

 

Every so often, do you have those moments where you figure something out and just want to share with everyone you know?

This is one of those moments for me.

After having 3 kids, I have all but perfected wardrobe shopping for them. Each size, season and event requires a certain attire, and until they are about 6, they outgrow most of their clothes before the season changes. So it was basically a necessity to master the art of shopping for them. Being the shop-a-holic that I am, I was up for the challenge.

I am a quality over quantity type of person, but don't want to blow tons of money to achieve quality, so I had to come up with a system to make raising the kids affordable, without sacrificing quality. I love Gymboree, Gap Kids and Old Navy for the fact that they outlast the constant washing and (let's face it) wear and tear the kids like to indulge in. They run, crawl, climb and jump about 99% of their "awake" time, so I need clothes that will deal with that. I also like my kids to look like "kids." Lily is 5, she will dress as such... no neon midriff sparkle shirts with "Delicious" across her shirt. NO THANK YOU. The only greater thing than hearing how cute I dress my dolls kids, is that they are well behaved, so I take pleasure in dressing them cute. I also like Lilly Pulitzer, Janie and Jack and Ralph Lauren for events and holidays, but I have to snag some great deals to indulge in those brands.

Gymboree is great because they offer Gymbucks. Gymbucks are $25 coupons you get for every $50 you spend to use at a later date, which is marked on a calendar on the coupon.

To acquire Gymbucks, the best thing to do is hold out for a sale. I am blessed to live really close to a Gymboree retail and a Gymboree Outlet. Both of which offer many sales. For instance, they do "Everything in the store is $10.99." So I stocked up on 5 dresses for Lily, each of which retailed normally for $24-$44. In essence, I got 5 dresses for almost the price of 1. And then I got $25 to use later during a Gymbucks acceptance week. You can acquire Gymbucks several times in a couple months by doing this.

When it is time to REDEEM the Gymbucks, here are my tips:

  • ONLY shop clearance and markdowns. Don't waste your gymbucks on buying only a couple retail items, it's not worth it.
  • SIZE UP. A lot of the stuff in clearance is way out of season, figure out what size is best for your little one in the following season(s). If there's one thing you can count on and plan for, it's that they are only going to keep growing. Use this to your advantage. Gymboree sizes by age, so it makes it really easy to figure out.
  • Get all the basics. Pajamas, socks, underwear, etc. These can be as low as .50, and I almost always find accessories from lines we already have.
  • Get all the Holiday stuff. You'll be so relieved come Easter/Thanksgiving/Christmas that they have a fully accessorized holiday ensemble instead of waiting until it's near that time and hoping your store has the sizes you need.
  • More is more during this time. Stock up on any/everything you know you'll be needing. For example, it's 105 degrees outside right now, but I know Caleb is going to need jeans in the next couple months. The jeans were all priced (on sale) at $14.99, so I got him 5 pairs.
  • Which reminds me, take full advantage of any sales they're offering during gymbucks redemption times! You'll be able to stretch your $ this way.
  • Plan gifts! I can have a hard time spending the minimum amount (even buying ahead, even sizing up) with my 3 kids. If I know of a birthday/new baby/etc, I use this time to get adorable outfits for a great price! So keep those in mind as well!

 

So for my purchase above, I had $75 of gymbucks to use. I had to spend $150 to use them.

I got:

Caleb: 5 pairs of jeans, shoes, a winter vest.

Lily: A birthday shirt, layering shirt, 7 pairs of socks (which are mostly parts of lines she already has).

Everly: 3 Dresses, jean skirt, socks and leggings.

Gifts: Onesie for our new nephew and birthday gift for our friend's daughter.

FOR A GRAND TOTAL OF: $154 - $75 GYMBUCKS = $79.00

I didn't have to sacrifice quality for savings, and I won't be running to the stores when everything is marked up for winter because I'm slowly starting to stock up for upcoming seasons/

To stretch your money even FURTHER, here's a tip: Once your little one outgrows their clothes, take all your Gymboree clothes to a consignment store and sell them! Consignment stores LOVE Gymboree for the fact that their colors stay vibrant wash after wash, they eat them up! I keep all my lines together, take them to Other Mother's and get more CASH to roll into starting the Gymboree cycle again. IdoNOThaveaproblem, I swear.

I hope this helps you in your shopping endeavors!

 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Golf Cupcakes Tutorial

My father-in-law is an avid golfer so it only made sense that I would make him golf cupcakes for his birthday! Happy Birthday, Gerry! (Now, here's how I did it:

Friday, July 19, 2013

Pita Pizzas Recipe

Jerrod can't complain about a vegetarian dinner if I include green chile, right? It's also pizza! Sort of...

Well that was the goal. I made a trip around the world somehow when I was meal planning this past week. We have Italian, Mediterranean, Thai and Mexican food on the agenda... and this was *my take on a *healthy pizza. (about 350 calories/pita pizza without the cheese). The kids made their own, loaded with cheddar/jack cheese and pepperonis.. so everyone was happy! I got a "best mom ever," mention, so, it was a hit.

Recipe:

Preheat oven to 425.

Ingredients:

-Pita Breads

-Pesto

-Veggies: Red Onion Slices, Tomatoes, Spinach, Mushrooms, Green Chile (etc!)

-Cheese: (or skip, to save on Calories) Feta, Cheddar/Jack

Layer ingredients on pita and place on cookie sheets in the oven for about 20 minutes.

 

Throw a side together and you're set! This will definitely be on rotation as a regular for Meatless Monday!

 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ultimate Arm Exercise

 

I'll be honest, working out my shoulders had become a major disappointment in recent months. I felt bored working them out, and didn't feel like they were evolving anymore. I had reached the worst part of working out: the plateau.

I told my husband my problem and he showed me a few new techniques and exercises to try. Within a couple weeks, I had a noticeable difference in my arms. They were more defined between my deltoids and biceps, and by the end of my workout I could hardly lift my arms. So I had to share!

First, make no mistake, you MUST weight train. Sure, classes are fun... I am always up for yoga with the girlfriends or a mommy and me class... But if you want to see real results in your arms, you absolutely have to incorporate weight lifting into your workout regimen. Unless you're naturally fit, in which case, I hate you, you are setting yourself up for failure without weightlifting. Start slowly if you're intimidated... Focus on form and completing your reps. Women: Trust me when I say, you will NOT "bulk" up from lifting weights. Somehow this rumor started, probably from lazy, scrawny men, and because of it, millions of women are killing themselves in classes, doing endless cardio and avoid the free weights like the plague. You're doing yourself a major disservice! And wasting your time. You will never get the results you want unless you isolate your muscles and make them work. Also, consider that the more toned your muscles are (by lifting) the more calories they burn doing everyday activities than if they are not. Essentially, your body burns more calories after lifting than if you ran on the treadmill for an hour. You may be running calories off, but you're also running off muscle, which makes your body work harder to burn off the calories, see how that is counterintuitive?

So, stop perfecting the "skinny arm" (I know, we all do it) in pictures, and start perfecting your shoulders! The great thing about weight training is that switching up your work out can shock your muscles and results are almost instant. I added this workout to my shoulders day, and within a couple weeks I could see and feel a major difference. This exercise works out your shoulders, chest, forearms, back and their supporting muscles.

How to:

Using a light weight (8 lb. dumbells pictured) start at picture 1. Think: Down, Up, In, Out, Down, while doing this exercise. Do 12-15 repetitions per set, 3 sets total. If you find by rep 10, you can't keep your form and hit your rep, lower the weight. If you're not challenged at rep 15, up the weight. Add this to your workout, once a week, and you'll see a big change!

 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cheerleading, near and dear to my heart. *TIPS list.

Being a former high school cheerleader, High School cheerleading coach, and now mother of an aspiring cheerleader, you could say Cheer has a special place in my heart. Add the fact that our family is HUGELY into football + my ever evolving sewing skills, and you get a 5 month old with her very own custom cheer uniform(s).

When I first married my husband, I really had no interest/understanding when it came for pro football. My dad never watched football, and I never had a "team." I have always loved basketball, so when we got married, the deal was he would love my Lakers and I would love his Vikings... and after completing a season of Fantasy Football with him, I am obsessed with it.

Now, Caleb, is starting to play tackle football after playing two seasons of flag football. He is THRILLED, and Lily, needless to say, is on the cheerleading squad for his team. So of course Everly needed a cheer uniform for the Longhorns (Caleb and Lily's mascot) and the Vikings.

I don't use patterns. Ever. I hate them, they make me twitchy and my eyes cross... so creating a cheerleading uniform for a 5 month old was a little tricky. What I've found works for me is to use the kids' clothes that fit them well as a loose pattern, laid directly on my fabric.

If you're a person that needs the boundaries and step by step process, by all means, get a pattern and do what works best for you. My sister is exactly like that. If I tell her a recipe, and say "add a little olive oil," she will immediately ask me "how much is a little?" And we're twins. So I get it, some people are better with clear instructions. Or in her case, just having me do it. ;)

However, if you want a bit of a challenge and want the freedom to do more as YOU envision, follow these basic tips.

I thought about writing a tutorial on this, but it feels way too informal without measurements, so I'm calling this a "Tips List" instead. I get so many messages/emails from people asking me to make a custom outfit similar to one I've made before, the problem, however, is that since I don't use patterns, it's really hard to replicate my projects. With the kids here, I'm able to size them multiple times to make sure it's the perfect fit after I begin the project with a basic sizing idea. The purpose of this post is to show the basic construction of these cheer uni's. Once you can construct outfits you like mentally, it's much easier to come up with your own patterns, I promise!

If this all ends up being way too confusing, I apologize. I wish I could do a workshop for these sorts of things... maybe one day!

The following tips would most likely work for sizes 0-24 months clothing to be used as a basis for a cheer uniform. The buttons at the neckline make it suitable for babies to get in and out of.

TIPS LIST:

  1. I use a shirt/dress/pants depending on what I'm making that fits the child perfectly. For this, I am using one of Everly's long shirts. I lay it directly on top of my fabric I'm cutting, and give myself a 1/2" seam allowance all the way around. I fold the fabric twice, along the grain, so one cut = front AND back pieces of dress. I am cutting the lining in the photos below as an example, you can do this all without a liner, just cut the "Longhorns" or whatever fabric you're using, instead. As shown in the next 2 images below:
 
2. The front of a shirt is different from the back. The neckline is lower. And for the purpose of this "pattern," it also has a shorter armhole, which will allow for it to folded over on and be buttoned. Take note of this and cut the front neckline lower, and the top of the arm hole, as shown below:
 
 

3. Next, you will sew the sides together, from the armpit to the hem, with "right" sides facing each other, using a 1/4" seam allowance.

4. Next, you'll press and pin 1/4" all around the top, from the from neckline, down the armholes, to the back. Then sew.

5. Next, if you want to add a cheer styled skirt, it's easier than it looks. Just cut several rectangles and triangles, and alternate sewing them until you've reached the circumference of your dress, and sew the skirt shut, so it's a circle. Then pin it to the dress, and sew the entire circle around (with "right sides facing each other):

 

6. If you want to add to this, it's very simple. For example, I added the banner across the front to make it look more like a uniform, just do this in the first steps, before you sew them front to the back. You're essentially "making" your fabric before you sew it.

 

I know this was vague, but if anything I hope it shows the process, so if you decide to make one, you have loose reference as to how to do it.

If you use this, please share your results with me! I love those emails!!

 

 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Update and Love: Spray Paint

FIRST OF ALL... We FINALLY have internet! I guess I just had to whine on my blog for the wifi planets to align so the poor guy at Time Warner (whose personal desk number I gathered over our many, many conversations) to call and tell me our address was FINALLY in their billing system! I'm finally out of the dark age! So expect MUCH more posting!

I am such a fan of spray paint. For $7, you can transform the most boring/outdated/scratched/damaged item into something you can love again!

In fact, my inlaws told me about this Rust-oleum spray pain that dries as this really cool speckled metatllic. They had painted an outdated gold mirror with it and it turned out awesome, so I had to try it.

I ended up using it for a PLETHORA of things around the house that didn't go with my new aesthetic at our new house. I didn't take before and afters, but I really felt like this awesome paint deserved it's own blog post just to gush about.

I wanted to give you at least one before and after... I was able to find an old picture of our living room at our condo (below), and there you can see a very BRIGHT turquoise pot that I used this spray paint on, it's now a really cool dark brown, which I just love.

If you have the itch to revamp a wide variety of items go pick this up, go around the house and grab stuff and give it a cool updated look... and love it all over again!

 

 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Dining Room + Money Saving Tip

So, I am waiting until Everly is out of a high chair to buy a new dining set, basically when I absolutely HAVE to. So our dinette is a little small for now... But it works.

I knew I wanted long curtains for our vaulted ceilings, but couldn't quite figure out how to have the fabric flow with our open floor plan. Until! I found the perfect table cloth...

Money saving tip: Buy an extra large table cloth, cut it to size and hem edges to fit your table. Then, use remnants to tie in other areas of the space. I used the remnants to add length to 84" curtains, making them 98". I also had enough left over to make a table runner for the coffee table. And the best part is the large oblong table cloth was the exact same price as the square table cloth, so it was essentially free. If this doesn't persuade you to learn the very basics of sewing, I don't know what will! Imagine the possibilities!

 

 

 

Ralph Lauren Table Cloth

 

Extended border... You'd never guess, right?

 

Table runner!

 

 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Nursery

So moving into a brand new build is amazing. However, waiting until our development is more than 80% built for Time Warner to get us connected for wifi is pretty much the worst thing ever. I've been making do with my phone, but it's killing me.
 
So I apologize for my sparce posting, I had hoped to complete blog posts as I completed areas of the house with tips and hauls, but I'm having to make do without Internet at home. So bare with me.
 
Anyway, I was able to complete Everly's nursery, for the most part. I have a chandelier that is waiting to be installed, and I am toying with the idea of wallpaper, but we will see about that. Here it is!