Friday, April 20, 2012

Our Stress Free Spring

I'm really trying to "center" myself lately. I know how new age that sounds, but for lack of a better term, it fits what I'm trying to accomplish. I recently came to the conclusion that I've been super stressed, and we all know how terrible that is for our health {not to mention just plain NOT fun}, so I've decided to TRY to free myself from as much of the "s word" as possible.

I've been attempting to accomplish my stress free state of mind by simply relaxing on my time off from work, letting some household chores go a bit, allowing my mind to wander to the good in my life and just enjoying the innocence of the stage my son is in at this very moment. He's growing every day, and I do not want to look back on this time and not remember THIS child, because I was in a survival mode haze. His vocabulary is growing at an extraordinary rate, and his sense of humor and kind heart are out of this world. He's teetering between baby and little boy, and I want to squeeze these baby cheeks for as long as I can! I mean, who wouldn't?!

We've been doing a lot of outdoor play time. This means bubbles, sidewalk chalk, watering the plants together, tricycle rides and wagon trips around the block. The evenings are still bearable {not yet too hot for this Yankee}, so I haven't been miserable out in the southern sun. Virginia doesn't have hardly any annoying bugs either. This is a BIG change from Michigan springs!

P and I found this nest while watering our flowers tonight. It truly is those little "teachable moments" that sneak up on us and can just make the entire night! Ya know what I mean?

Another favorite time of mine occurs after Preston's bed time. While I adore my son, I'm NOT one of those mothers who makes daily Facebook posts about how wonderful and perfect motherhood is. I actually still like my me time! For me, that means decorating {duh!}. I recently rearranged some furniture in the living room again. Don't you love that gold tray I scored at Salvation Army for $4.99? It really anchored this arrangement well.

Sllloooooowly, the house is becoming a bit more feminine and a lot more me! After all, it is all mine now, and that's worth celebrating!

Crystal xoxo

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Quick and Inexpensive Easter Gift

I just realized that I forgot to share the little Easter goodies I threw together for my department coworkers. Sometimes it's a wonder I don't lose my mind. I'm so forgetful these days! they are!

I was inspired by this pin on Pinterest.  It was originally created and posted on eighteen 25. I have to give credit where credit is due, and the sisters so deserve the props here!

They were super easy to make. I just used some plastic eggs I had on hand and bought some fun little nail polishes for the women and tiny candy bars for the guys. Then, I put them inside the eggs. I stuffed each plastic bag with some yellow Easter grass, tied them shut with green twine and attached these free printable from I {heart} Nap Time. That was it, and everyone really seemed to enjoy the gesture. It's nice to get treats as adults for a holiday that seems so child-centered! Don't cha think?!

Crystal xoxo

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Easter {and my mom's buying guide}

Preston and I enjoyed a great morning together at home, yesterday!

First, the Easter Bunny came and brought some fabulous new treats...

tricycle {$43.97}
shiny new tricycle horn {$4.97}
flip-flops {$2.50}
animal lacing cards {$5}
play dough {$1.50}
farm animal memory game {$10}
bubbles {$.97}
jellybeans {$1.97}
tractor shaped sidewalk chalk {$5.95}
a pair of shorts {$8}
his first fake tattoos {$1.97}

Total = less than $87

But keep in mind, this mommy starts early {like late January}. That way, my wallet doesn't feel the impact at once. Plus, I try to stick primarily to things he needs and that I should buy anyway. For example, this year he needed sandals and shorts and a bike. I plan ahead, make my list and watch for deals. Then, I purchase and collect!

You'll also discover I'm not a fan of stuffed animals or trinkets and "junk toys". I'm the mean mom that throws the fast food toy away before we leave the restaurant...

My point is that I try to stay away from the small unnecessary things and stick to the educational or activity-based toys {bubbles, chalk, play dough, books, games, etc}. I also stay away from all "noise makers" and never buy a toy that requires batteries. This saves my wallet and keeps his hands busy and imagination flowing!

We also live in a small house and Preston's bedroom must act as both sleep and "play room". I can't clutter it up, so each of my purchases are carefully planned. He gets only ONE of everything {excluding books, puzzles and games}. However, those books have a home {and I will purge before the bookshelf overflows}. His puzzles stay in a rack, and it only holds 12 {that's all he'll have at one time}, and his games get neatly stored in his closet.

See where I'm going with this ONE "rule"? The yard isn't cluttered with a zillion outdoor toys and riding toys. His room isn't full of every possible toy car/train track on the market, and he has ONE brand of building/connecting blocks, so I don't have to constantly sort them and find individual homes for each set. He does have a collection of musical instruments that all fit in one case, and he does have a collection of dress-up clothes that all hang in his dress-up area. A place for everything, and everything in it's place...

Anyway! Next, we got ready for the day, and I "tried" to do a little photo shoot outside...

This was the BEST picture-if you can believe that! All he cared about was getting back on that tricycle.

Photo Details: His Easter basket is from Pottery Barn Kids, and I bought it his first Easter {he was just over a month old}. I knew I wanted to start traditions and keep the same basket for him to adulthood, so I splurged and opted for something that I felt could withstand the test of time. I'll most definitely save money over time, since it was less than $30, and I won't be buying a brand spankin new container each year. Plus, this adorable thing is made of material and folds up for easy storage!

The bunny ears were props I bought while student teaching back in 2007-before mommyhood.

His clothes were The Children's Place clearance finds from last May that I've held onto until he grew into them. Pants were $5 and shirt was $3.99.

After the photo shoot, we went to buy Grammy some flowers and headed to my parent's house for dinner. It was a small gathering, but we had an enjoyable time amongst the dust {my parent's are going through a semi major reno}.

After dinner, we went to the park to get the tricycle a little more use {he didn't get off that thing all day and threw a fit to eat}. Then, we went back to my parent's for dessert!

What did YOU do to celebrate the day?

Crystal xoxo

Friday, April 6, 2012

Super Cheap DIY Home Fixes

First of all, AdSense is live on the blog! Yippee! I told myself I'd add advertisements to BBB once I hit 50 followers, and it took me a little bit, but I did it! This is me doing my happy dance and hoping this is the beginning of wonderful things here...

Okay. Back to the subject at hand.

I started looking around my house today and thinking. I'm kind of in a rut lately. A major rut, and it's effecting my mood and the state of our dwelling. I'm self diagnosed with O.C.D. My home is usually organized to a T, and it just isn't lately. Although motherhood has loosened me up in that way, deep down my inner O.C.D self wants to get out a label maker and hang my shirts by color and sleeve length! Ya know?

The bathroom reno is not moving as fast as I'd like it to, the house is no where near as neat as I normally keep it, and I just zoom back and forth to work. I hardly have time to eat and just focus on mommyhood, and I'm drained! Period. Then, I started thinking. What, besides my sweet boy, makes me happy? Well, that took all of TWO seconds to answer. My home. Decorating. Organizing. Writing. Everything that I love about my blog and yet never seem to carve out much time for lately. At that very moment, I turned around and kicked myself in the booty. {Not literally though. I'm not an acrobat.}

I thought, "Crystal, you have a TON of ideas to share with readers, so start DOING something about it. Right now!" Well, right now had to wait, because I had to get to work, but I'm doing something about it now. At 3am. After I got home, visited with my babysitter {my mom}, hung some new ferns on the porch {that I got an awesome deal on at work} and ate. Now, I write. When most of the world is sleeping. This is my life, and I'll be tired in the morning when that little voice calls out to me, but I'll live, because this mommy needs some serious, productive "me time".

I don't have any pictures to share, because that requires actually taking pictures in decent light {and it's dark out} and actually editing them {and that takes a ton of time}, but I did want to share some of my super cheap DIY home fixes I've picked up along the way.

Our bungalow was built in 1941 {so the papers say but I suspect it's older}, and it still has the original heat vents. They're black, old, beaten up and UGLY, but they're also an odd size, and the sizes vary from room to room. I've tried buying replacements, but stores don't carry anything their size. I've looked into ordering them, but they're super expensive. Instead, as I've moved through redoing each room, I've spray painted them! I know what you're thinking. Who cares about heat vents! Right? Most people probably don't, but I do. It's the details to a home that pull it together!

In keeping with our home's age and original existing hardware, I've gone with antique bronze finishes on every metal surface-light switch plates, light fixtures, door knobs, hinges, faucets, and even my toilet flusher thingy! Doing so helps add flow and unity to the entire house, makes it custom to us and also gives off a higher-end feel {in my opinion}.

Because these changes can be expensive, I've just moved from room to room and repeat bought everything as needed. Thank goodness Lowe's has continued to carry my switch plates for the past three years! For anything that can be spray painted {like the heat vents}, I just use an antique bronze spray paint {whatever brand and shade I find at the store when I need it}. Just make sure you wash and dry any surface before application. Sometimes I prime, and sometimes I don't. It just depends on how much extra money I have at the time and if I want to shell out an extra $5 for spray primer!

Tip number two is seriously super easy and super cheap!

Our house has 98% of it's original woodwork. In the living and dining rooms, it hasn't been touched! Yippee! Cancel all of that excitement though, because the room's walls have been painted. Many times, and the previous owners haven't always been very careful.  This has left behind a gazillion tiny {and not so tiny} paint splatters all over my otherwise beautiful trim and baseboards. I happen to have a HUGE permanent marker collection with a ton of different shades of brown, and I happened to find one that was almost an exact match to my woodwork. I think you know where I'm going here...

I just started in the living room, sat my happy butt down on the floor and moved around the entire room with my little marker coloring each of those paint splatters. It was THAT easy, and the results were fabulous! It did take some time, but it was totally worth it. Just make sure you test those different marker shades out in an inconspicuous spot!

I'll leave you with a picture of Preston's room that you've seen before. This is the only exception to my above spiel. His room doesn't have a "metal finish". I accent his room with red and white, so we spray painted his vent red. It adds a touch of whimsy and acts as a small element of surprise. It is hard to see here. It's hidden under the table mostly, but I just used leftover red spray paint from that cute little lamp! The lamp was originally silver and sat at my desk for years prior to having him. It just found new life here! {clicking the picture should make it larger}

Crystal xoxo

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"T" is for Tractor {and Two}

This post has been anticipated for awhile. Maybe so long that it's lost it's steam and excitement, but I'm going to put it out there anyway.
Waaayyyy back in February, my baby turned TWO. His current obsession is tractors, and he calls himself "tractor boy", so the theme for his party was pretty obvious!

I decided to go with what I'm calling a "Mod Tractor" theme, and I wanted to get big bang on a budget. I mixed vintage tractors {Johnny Poppers} with chevron and used lime green and school bus yellow accents. I'm also not a big fan of characters {Spider-Man and Batman, SpongeBob, etc}, so I limited the licensed John Deere accents too...
Because we don't have a TON of friends and family near by, I saved money and nixed invites. Everyone just got a text. LAME! I know, but I'm being honest...
I hope you're ready for a picture thick post, because here I go...

I happened to have a cake mix on hand, so I just bought some green frosting and some yellow stuffed Oreos. The idea was to make them look like tractor tires in grass. BIG fail, in my book, but they worked! I bought the yellow number "2" candle for $.60. The yellow and white striped cupcake liners were from  HeyYoYo on Etsy {the green paper straws were from her too}. She's one of my favorite party vendors! Tip: Always add another cupcake liner after baking, so you can see the vibrant colors!

I added height to the cupcake display by turning one of my white square bowls upside down, adding a green plate I had on hand and topping it off with my cupcake stand. I just cut a circle from a yellow and white paper chevron bag and layered it underneath. Not perfect, but you have to be resourceful, and it ALWAYS feels good to save some dough and use what you already have. Open up those cupboards and start playing!

I kept the menu easy and SIMPLE. I preordered a dozen "tractor tire" doughnuts from Walmart {$3.60}. Then, I picked the doughnuts up on party day and grabbed the rest of the supplies. We served up a fruit tray "Harvest" {$5.97 with dip}, a bag of cheddar popcorn "Johnny Popper Corn" {$3.00}, some mini cookies and cream cupcakes {12 for $3.50}, butterscotch candies "Sunshine" {$1/bag and 2 bags filled my apothecary jay}, some lemons and limes and a gallon of lemonade. I also ordered pizza and bread sticks and offered bottled water to anyone who didn't want lemonade. That was it, and it was just enough!

His friends all got to take home a package of tractor shaped sidewalk chalk. Aren't they too cute?! They were $5.75/6, and Christie was great to work with. She even made me a custom order of all green and yellow tractors for the party {each friend got one of each color}. I couldn't resist and just ordered Preston a set for his Easter basket, because mommy was trying to save money and only ordered enough for his friends for the party! Go check Sunshine and Sidewalks out for this summer!

I got the adorable DIY printable favor packaging from chickabug. She created the "Happy Birthday" banner too. I just printed, cut, strung and hung! Easy peasy, and there's no ship time with PDF printable files! I did add yellow Easter grass to all the favor bags. The grass was bought at a dollar store. Don't feel compeled to go all out in the favor department. Sometimes one really cute treat is WAY better than a zillion matchy-matchy, sugar-filled, designer buckets that cost way too much and were way too underappreciated!

I ordered those adorable paper tractors above {4/$3.00} from My Paper Pantry. They were really affordable, and she threw in an extra one! I just asked her to leave off the cupcake sticks, hand wrote on them and taped them to paper straws or that cool yellow chevron ribbon {$2.50} from Endless Inkabilities. These were first time purchases from both shops, and I was thrilled. GREAT customer service and fast delivery!

My Paper Pantry also made this larger tractor {$3.00} and added the number 2 at no cost...

I just hot glued it to this yellow 10" crepe paper fan {$1.92}.

The drink table cost next to nothing. The yellow plastic utensils, green dinner napkins, yellow dinner plates, green dessert plates and yellow cups were $1/package {the green table cloth on the food table was $1 too}. I used my grandma's vintage yellow and white plaid table runner underneath, my drink dispenser and a few other accessories I had on hand. That chevron ribbon and those cute little paper tractors were used over there too as "Tools" {silverware} and "Fuel" {lemonade}. I wrapped the silverware with the green napkins and some green twine I had on hand, and my mom happened to have the perfect straw holder already. She was gracious enough to let me borrow it.

Over at the gift/kids eating table, I tied some helium balloons to a toy tractor Preston already had.

The white tractor balloons were one of my favorite party finds, but they appear to be sold out now. I got the green and yellow "Happy 2nd Birthday" balloons from the same site {$.80/package}. The little white table and chair set was Preston's birthday gift from mommy. I got that at Pottery Barn Kids. Thank goodness for tax returns!

These streamer mobiles were the only real craft project I made for this party. I just bought two packages of crepe paper {one of each color} and two cross stitch hoops. I used the inside wooden hoops and tossed the outside hoops {the ones with the screws}. Then, I hot glued the streamers around the hoops and finished the tops off with the yellow chevron ribbon. Lastly, I hung them from my dining room light fixture with my green twine and trimmed the streamers to my desired length. Tip: If you decide to do this project, make them longer than you think you need and trim once hung.

I'll leave you with some party action shots. I'll warn you. I had a bit of fun playing around with

Note: I did do a 2nd Birthday photo shoot prior to the party. They had a tractor prop, so we snapped a few of my tractor boy, and I used some as party accents {one framed at the drink table and one collage hung on my dining room bulletin/chalk board behind the food table}. We went to Portrait Innovations. They were wonderful with Preston, affordable, and they print your pictures right there. No return pick-up trips! A HUGE plus for this mommy.

I still don't have a working camera, so all of these party pictures were captured with my cell. That explains the less than blog perfect shots and poor quality, but that's where Picnik comes in handy. Did I mention I'm REALLY going to miss that site?!

This post has been linked to:

Addicted 2 Decorating

Crystal xoxo