6.05.2015

Weekly Pinterest SPOTLIGHT: June 5th



In honor of my and hubby's SIXTH wedding anniversary, this week's "Spotlight" is wedding-themed! We chose to do a LOT on our own for our wedding instead of hiring it out, in an effort to save money while making the event more personalized. From supplying our own sound system and music, to flowers and programs, we did almost everything ourselves. So, without further ado... 
WEEKLY PINTEREST SPOTLIGHT: 
RING THE WEDDING BELLS!

http://rusticweddingchic.com/how-to-make-your-own-wedding-bouquet
My bouquet, boutonnieres, and all other wedding floral necessities were made from Hobby Lobby floral finds & ribbon (because, well, it's HOBBY LOBBY). If I were to do it again, I'd likely go the same route with artificial flowers so I could keep them for all time, but this step-by-step from Rustic Wedding Chic makes working with the real deal look like a breeze! Even if you do go the craft store route, this tutorial is very applicable to help you plan out the steps to put together your dream bouquet.


http://allthingsmamma.com/2012/10/energy-balls-a-healthy-little-snack/

It's your wedding day, and you're running around like a chicken with your head cut off trying to get everything in order. Even if you have a wedding planner, I can GUARANTEE you this happens. People make their problems yours, and before you know it, you are coaching the flower girl through a very difficult trip to the bathroom in her dress.

Or, if you are doing things yourself, perhaps something goes wrong...like let's say your husband steps on your dress and rips the bustle before the ceremony even begins...or you have had mold growing in the water softener of your new apartment that you've been slowly ingesting over the course of the few weeks you've been living there alone waiting to get married and have your new husband move in with you, so you are legitimately sick as a dog and have to run to the bathroom every half an hour or so, which is SUPER easy to do in a wedding dress. *dramatically catches breath at the end of that mega-long, run-on sentence*

You know, not that that happened to me or anything... (we discovered the mold thing and got that fixed when we got back from the honeymoon, and one of my lovely bridesmaids was a skilled seamstress who fixed my dress in a snap!)

TIME FOR A BREAK. But instead of a Twix bar, reach for something that will fuel you and give you the sustained energy you need to take the chaos by the horns! Reach for some of these puppies: Energy Balls by Kasey over at All Things Mamma. They taste great, and are jam-packed with great, healthy, whole energy for when you need it most!



http://www.modcircus.com/2015/05/how-to-make-your-lipstick-last.html

This trick comes from my friends Molly and Jodi over at Mod Circus. Molly has PERFECTED the steps to get ALL-DAY WEAR out of your lipstick. NO JOKE. It works, friends! And for all the kisses that come after "Mister and Missus!", you'll need to have this trick in your wedding-day arsenal.

http://wescraftphotography.com/packard-plaza-fall-wedding/

We did our wedding photos BEFORE the ceremony, since we had a Friday evening wedding and didn't want to make our guests wait until well into the night before we could start eating and dancing. But one thing we DIDN'T do was a "first look" shot, which is such a sweet moment to capture! I still remember the way I felt seeing Lucas all dressed up and ready to start our lives together, and can recall the look in his eyes when he saw me, but having that moment to frame is something truly special. If we were to do it all over again, this is a shot I would surely request!!

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE all of the images from this wedding session as well as other projects that husband Wes and wife Necia Craft of Wes Craft Photography have done. Their photography is so honest and candid, and not at all posey or forced. They capture those ephemeral moments that bare the souls of the subjects and make for truly one-of-a-kind photos!

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6.01.2015

Weekly Pinterest SPOTLIGHT: May 29th


http://wobisobi.blogspot.com/2013/04/no-sew-lattice-stud-t-shirt-diy.html

How cute and edgy is this? This idea comes from Anne over at WobiSobi. I haven't tried my hand at this adorable summery shirt yet, but with Anne's careful instructions and step-by-step pictures, I can confidently say I will have several of these bad boys before the summer is out!


http://www.food.com/recipe/stuffed-peppers-219277?soc=socialsharingpinterest&photo=291132

Imagine a helping of meatloaf stuffed into a delectable green pepper package, and you've got this yummy recipe right here. Mmmm....



http://www.savorylotus.com/sweetened-condensed-coconut-milk-a-dairy-free-alternative/

The PERFECT dairy-free alternative for all those cookie, pie, bar, brownie, and muffin recipes!!


https://www.pinterest.com/explore/boundary-waters/

For the last few days, I have been experiencing extreme wanderlust. I just want to GO somewhere! It has officially been three years since our last vacation. THREE YEARS!! (and no, I am not counting our trip to Pennsylvania for a wedding because 98% of our time on that "trip" was spent either A) in the car, AND/or B) trying to soothe Little Mouse, who was having a pretty moderate but extremely painful and inconvenient MSPI reaction. I CANNOT WAIT UNTIL HE OUTGROWS HIS MILK PROTEIN INTOLERANCE!!) I ache for adventure with my boys, and I cannot WAIT until Little Mouse gets to experience wilderness camping at Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota and Canada! And the next time we trek out that way, I'll go armed with my D-SLR, GoPro, and tripod (risky, but worth it) so I can capture a shot just like this. SO. MANY. STARS.

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5.30.2015

The Robin Chronicles, Part II: Baby Robin Update

As I mentioned in The Robin Chronicles, we had the special privilege of watching two baby Robins hatch, grow, and then leave their nest this spring. It was such a thrill to see them so up-close, and we celebrated when they reached the next step in their little birdie lives and moved on and out of their nest with the sky as their limit. Secretly, though, I was sad to see them go, as I wasn't sure if they'd hang around their nesting grounds or move on to new territory.

BUT, much to my surprise a few mornings ago, Momma Bird and one of the baby birds were hanging out on our front steps!

Momma flew off to hunt for some morning grub while Baby Bird (not-so) patiently waited on the steps, hopping around (and pooping...thaaaanks, nature) from step to step.

We even got to see her serving up the yummy morning fare.

Lately, we've seen a lot of Baby Bird (who is more of a "teenager" now), with Momma keeping more and more of a distance. As we've only seen one baby bird at any given time these days, two things are possible: 
1) Both birds survived the fledgling stage, but we only see them one at a time.
2) One of the birds suffered the cruel fate of nature (probably at the hands of one of the neighborhood cats), and we are only seeing the one remaining bird.

I'd like to think we're dealing with situation #1, and that baby bird #2 is palling around with Daddy Bird. I know that's probably not true, but let me dream, okay?

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5.23.2015

The Robin Chronicles

As I mentioned in the May 8th Weekly Pinterest Spotlight, we were so blessed to enjoy a nest of little Robins right outside our house this year! It was an object of intense fascination for Little Mouse as Mommy bird spent the better part of five or so days carefully building her nest on a branch overhanging the landing up to our apartment.

After a few days of relative quiet, we noticed one egg...then the next day there were two...and then FOUR! This clutch (is that even the right terminology? meh...) yielded two precious little hatchlings which we got the pleasure to watch over the next several days.

 

We put a little weighted bowl of water on the flower shelf so Mommy bird would have a water source close to the nest.


We also made two hanging bird feeders laden with bird seed (because we had a ton of it and there are lots of other pretty birds to see in this area) and some little berries and dried fruits (because that makes up a portion of a Robin's diet, along with mealworms and earthworms. Yes, I Googled it. I wanted to be a good neighbor!).


It was big a hit with our little birdie community, as evidenced by the now-empty "bird feeders." 


I took one last set of snapshots Friday afternoon, before the baby Robins officially became fledglings, leaving their nest to learn how to fend for themselves under the watchful eye and tutelage of Mommy and Daddy bird.


It was such a remarkable and fun experience to see this little slice of nature so up-close! I really hope that we have more birdie adventures in the future; I know Little Mouse would love to have Mommy bird and some new baby birds back again next year! But for now, as Little Mouse says, "Baby bird...all gah-own!"


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5.22.2015

Weekly Pinterest SPOTLIGHT: May 22nd

http://indietutes.blogspot.com/2009/10/toddler-backpack-pattern.html

I have some AWESOME John Deere fabric that has been sitting on the steps to the attic, waiting to be made into a cute backpack for Little Mouse. I can't wait to use the beautifully simple pattern from Charity over at Indietutes!!


http://www.girlgonecountry.com/recipes-2/cookie-dough-greek-yogurt-3/

This delicacy comes from Katy over at The Suburban Girl Gone Country. When I could eat dairy (before Little Mouse was diagnosed with MSPI), I ATE THE PANTS OFF OF THIS CONCOCTION. Two thumbs WAAAAAY up! Katy also has another website called Coconut Almond Recipes - check out both for some yuuuuummy recipes!



http://www.buzzfeed.com/christinebyrne/how-to-store-your-groceries#.jfWzLNRQw
So, you want to make your food last, but you don't know how? Well, here's a nifty chart compiled by BuzzFeed for you! Print it up, tape it on the inside of a kitchen cabinet, and impress your friends with all that crazy, grown-up knowledge. Look at you being an adult! You've got this!!


http://www.cutemomentsphotography.com/blackboardadventures.html

I wanted to do this SO BADLY when Little Mouse was a wee babe. Alas, he was not this chill of a child...but I can sure crush on other mothers' creative shots! This particular set comes from Anna Eftimie's (Cute Moments Photography) Blackboard Adventures series.


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5.15.2015

Weekly Pinterest SPOTLIGHT: May 15th

http://mommo-design.blogspot.it/2014/04/per-chi-avesse-bambini-par-ticolarmen.html


Love the idea of making GORGEOUS, statement artwork from the kids' art "mistakes." 


http://damndelicious.net/2014/08/30/mini-deep-dish-pizzas/

MINI. DEEP DISH. PIZZAS. Need I say more?


http://www.cleanmama.net/2013/12/simplify-the-season-how-to-clean-baking-sheets-pans-in-5-minutes.html

Another game-changer from Becky over at Clean Mama!!


http://clickitupanotch.com/2012/04/toddler-photography-8-ideas-to-capture-those-early-years/


I love the composure, I love the exposure, and I love the way each photo tells a story! This collage is a part of Melissa Noste's article "8 Tips to Capture Your Toddler" on the blog Click It Up a Notch. I can't wait to take a few photos like this of Little Mouse and his favorite friends! 


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5.08.2015

Weekly Pinterest SPOTLIGHT: May 8th

http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2015/04/simple-diy-backyard-bird-feeder.html

Recently, a Mommy Robin built her nest in the giant evergreen tree right outside our front door. Her nest is nestled in the branches that hang over our landing, and yet she isn't the least bit phased by our comings and goings! It has been so fun to watch Little Mouse observe her so closely, so to reward her for dealing with a curious toddler (and Momma), we made this little number and placed it nearby for her to enjoy. Honestly, I think the sparrows & other seed-eating birds get to most of it (because Robins don't eat seeds), but I've seen her get some nibbles in to grab some of the fruit and berries when she's not incubating her little eggs. (I'll definitely be updating when the chicks hatch! And HERE is more information about Robins and their babies - fascinating!) Thanks to One Good Thing by Jillee for this awesome idea!


http://www.inspirededibles.ca/2014/01/flourless-black-bean-chocolate-chili.html

I'm so glad I ran across Kelly Mulcair and her blog Inspired Edibles and decided to give this recipe a shot. Because THESE. ARE. AMAZING! The sweet, subtle heat of chili adds such complexity, warmth, and depth to the chocolate in these little muffins. And if you have a great food processor, you won't even get any bean skins in them. Seriously. PERFECT to enjoy with a cold, cold glass of almond milk! Check out her other recipes while you are there because she has SO many great ones!


http://joyunspeakableandfullofglory.blogspot.com/2013/08/shower-buddy.html

This trick comes from Lori over at JOY Unspeakable, by way of her friend Stephanie. I started doing this the summer Little Mouse was born, and never looked back! My shower has never been cleaner...mostly because it is now actually getting scrubbed on a regular basis. Plus, what Mom doesn't like a little extra time in a warm shower?


https://www.facebook.com/cassandrasassephotography?ref=hl

I LOVE LOVE LOVE all the creamy colors of Cassandra Sasse Photography's photoshoots, but this one in particular stuck out to me because of the beautiful henna. I LOVE maternity shoots, because there is so much joy and anticipation bubbling over as Mommy and Daddy-to-be (and sometimes siblings, too) take some of their last photos before meeting baby! When I was pregnant with Little Mouse, I liked the IDEA of belly art, but the thought of slathering paint all over me in the heat of summer never struck me as particularly enjoyable. Oh, how I wish I would have thought of henna! Perhaps when God blesses us with another baby, I'll be able to take this photo for myself; until then, I'm crushing on Cassandra Sasse Photography's henna belly bump photo!


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5.01.2015

Weekly Pinterest SPOTLIGHT: A new blog feature!

Hi there, friends!

Since Little Mouse is becoming a better sleeper both at naptime and bedtime, I've had more free time than I've had in the last almost two years of my life. SO. MUCH. TIME! I was initially very excited to share with you all of the fun things I've been doing with this new-found freedom, but let's be honest, probably half of the projects I accomplish (or start and then set aside to start working on something else...) are not conceptually my own. Can anyone say, "PINTEREST!"?  So, instead of just sharing the fruits of my labor, I've decided to "spotlight" those AMAZING blogs from whom I get such awesome ideas!

So each week, I will share four of my favorite pins from the following categories:

>> MAKE IT:  Dazzling DIYs (spend time to save money is what I always say.)
>> BAKE IT:  Delectable Dishes (cooking, baking...anything that can be made and then consumed.)
>> FAKE IT:  Helpful Hacks (some of these are real game changers, let me tell you!)
>> TAKE IT:  Surreal Snapshots (photo inspirations I'm crushing on at the moment.)

Can you tell I like rhyming and alliteration? Well, I do. I think I may have missed my calling as an annoyingly bubbly elementary school teacher...

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this new blog feature and draw fresh inspiration from each week's spotlighted pins!


May 1st - Weekly Pinterest Spotlight

 Clean Mama Planner DIY
I've always been a pretty organized person, but making a customized planner for myself using Clean Mama's suggestions for a DIY planner has been nothing short of revolutionary! My planner includes:
- Yearly, Monthly, and Weekly Calenders
- Cleaning Calenders for each month with daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly tasks
- Meal Planning & Recipe Lists
- Miscellaneous Pages, including a prayer log, doctor's log (to track Little Mouse's well baby visits), honey-do list, holiday & party planning sheets, and an 'items on loan' log.
- Blog Planner (so I never forget an idea!)
- Business Planner (for my photography business & Etsy shop)

I've never been so simultaneously thrilled and petrified; thrilled for the new organization & the productivity that said organization yields, and petrified to have basically my entire life within the semi-protective cover of a three-ring binder. What if I drop it in a puddle? Or - GASP! - lose it? I shudder to think...

If the thought of making one yourself seems daunting (or you don't have a handy-dandy program like Photoshop), you can purchase organizational files from Clean Mama herself HERE and print them yourself or at your local printing shop.  And while you're at it, be sure to check out her blog or hop on over to her Pinterest boards for more amazing tips and tricks!


 Toddler Veggie Muffins
Not from a blog, but Toddler AND tweenage girl-approved, therefore MORE than worthy of being featured.  These muffins are not only truly delectable, but also afford a great opportunity to add a little extra fruits and veggies in a flavorful package that seems like a real "treat." I like to use honey instead of sugar (the bananas help sweeten it, too), coconut or oat flour instead of the all-purpose variety, and mix up the veggies. The latest muffins I made were 2.25 oz of pureed squash and 2.25 oz of pureed peas (sneaky Mommy). I think we'll try pumpkin and zucchini next!


This blog is fabulous! FAB.U.LOUS.  It's just the laugh I need at the end of an "up-to-my-elbows-in-poop" sort of day. And I know I can't be the only one who has that sort of day. So, if you're experiencing one of "those" days, I definitely recommend checking out Anna's blog for that much-needed breath of fresh air.

AND, while you're at it, give your HOUSE a breath of fresh air with her once-top-secret cleaning hack: Method All-Purpose Spray. You can also use Pledge. Or some citrus essential oils in a diffuser, which is what I do and get the same reaction.

SO, you've spent all day chasing after your rambunctious little one trying to keep him from ripping off his diaper and peeing all over the walls? Yeah, me too. You just barely got the dinner in the oven and now you're staring at the pile of dishes from breakfast, lunch, and dinner prep, wishing you could open the window, start singing, and a bunch of wild animals will supernaturally swoop in to help you get your house spic-and-span before your husband arrives home? (although maybe that little act of desperation will clue the neighbor into your need for something liiiiike...twelve more hands) Ugh. Only in Disney movies.

Well, here's the trick: SPRAY METHOD/PLEDGE or DIFFUSE SOME FRESH-SMELLING CITRUSY OILS NEAR YOUR FRONT DOOR.

DONE. It will smell like cleanness and beautiful sunshine all up in there, and your husband/roommate/dinner guests/FedEx man/who-the-heck-ever will think, "DANG. This lady's really got it together." And for a moment, you may actually trick yourself into thinking you've really got it together, too.



Leah Cook Photography

The inclination these days is to deck out newbie sessions with knitted caps, layettes, props, pillows, and loads of adorable additions. When we get right down to it though, all these extras often tend to clutter the photo and distract our eye from the subject. Why ignore the beauty that can be found in the extraordinarily small? The softness and beautiful simplicity of this shoot is just remarkable, and captures all the little things we cherish in those early days - things that disappear all too quickly.