Life is Messy

messyEvery day that goes by I’m learning to be a little bit more messy. Yes, I still need organization and some amount of cleanliness in my life but things are more fun when it’s messy! I never want Sophie to be denied fun because it’ll cause a mess or because she’ll get dirty. Kids are supposed to get dirty and most everything is washable or can be re-bought. I’ve known several people who’ve not let their kids do crafts or baking because it makes too much of a mess and it makes me sad. I want to be the type of mom that throws down a drop cloth and says ‘we’ll deal with it after the fun!’ Life is messy, so let it be messy.

How to Help a New Mom

Hello friends!! This past weekend I went to see my 3 day old niece Lyla and swooned over her for a couple of days! I was also able to help out her family with a few chores that were super simple for me but was one more thing off their list that they didn’t have to do. I had a lot of pain after giving birth and we had my husband’s parents come into town for a few days to help us out as well. I wanted to give some ideas on things that are helpful to a new mom or a mom who’s already knows the drill but has another child to care for as well. Knowing how to help a new mom is tough because it’ll be different for every mom but being there to offer a hand will be greatly appreciated no matter how you help.

help-new-momFor me, as a first time mom, I’d gone to all the classes, read all the books was extremely confident once we had Sophie but was physically unable to care for her for the first week. We also struggled during breastfeeding with countless hours of in-home lactation consultant visits and trips to visit the ears/noes/throat doctor. There is nothing that can prepare a mom for breastfeeding. Every baby is different, every mom is different and if you’re successful with breastfeeding from the beginning, count your blessings. One never feels as frustrated and inadequate as a mom who is unable to feed her new baby. The urgency you feel to help your baby stop crying so she can eat, so she can sleep, so she can grow and LIVE is immeasurable. The BIGGEST help was having Theresa come into our home. Being patient, calm, soft spoken and encouraging to me and Sophie through our first several weeks of trying to breast feed was exactly what we needed. I strongly encourage women to have an in-home lactation consultant come into their environment once to critique how you are feeding. The smallest adjustments can make a world of difference in the breastfeeding experience. If you’re trying to help out a new mom who you know is sleep deprived and frustrated about breastfeeding, suggest helping to pay for an in-home lactation consultant.

lowesTaking care of other children in the home is another huge help to mom and dad. Keeping them quiet for mom to rest can be difficult, so take them to the grocery to pick up dinner or to the park to get some playground time in. Have them help you water the flowers or fold the laundry. Helping with meals, baths and naps is very helpful so mom and dad don’t have to keep track of routines with their sleep deprived brains.

flowersAnother super helpful chore is outdoor work. No matter the time of year, there is always something that needs to be taken care of outside. Mowing the lawn, weeding, watering flowers, raking leaves, picking up sticks and shoveling snow are all completely off limits to a mom who’s just had a baby and it’s very likely that dad is pretty worn out as well. You could also fill bird feeders, clean bird baths, or cut a bouquet so mom can enjoy her flowers inside.

dog-walkTaking care of pets is a chore that can easily go unnoticed when you’re a new parent. Having my friend come over to walk our dog Lexi was a huge help in relaxing her and I. She was able to see a friend, get some energy out and be more calm around the baby. It is also helpful to make sure they get their food/water, brush them or give them a bath to help with the amount of hair. I get anxious with clutter and dog hair and everything was heightened when I’d just had Sophie so keeping our house clean meant a lot to me.

sophie-sunSnuggle their new baby if they say you can! I needed people to hold Sophie because it was uncomfortable for me to do so. She was happiest when walking around, which gets really tiring when you’re not sleeping. Being able to go to the bathroom, take a shower, get a snack when you need to is something that you take for granted when you don’t have a baby who needs to be held all the time. lyla-outsideGive tips on what worked for your baby if tips are welcome. Some moms don’t want you to even give them suggestions because it makes them feel like you’re trying to tell them what to do or what they’re doing wrong. In other cases, there are moms that want all the help they can get and are happy to receive suggestions. I had the mentality that if something didn’t work, we’d try something else and then something else until it worked–all suggestions were welcome.

There are numerous things you can do besides bringing lasagna and baby clothes to a family with a new baby. Whether they’re a new mom or a mom that has a few kids already, everyone could use help. No matter how small or large the task, every little bit is helpful. Depending on how close you are with the new parents, cleaning their kitchen, making dinner, cleaning bathrooms or doing their laundry are things that are non-stop and can weigh them down with necessary stress. Know your boundaries and if you don’t, just ask!  What are some ways that you’ve helped a new parent? Was there something that was particularly helpful for when you had a child?

Yesterday I was guest posting over at Dana’s site, This Silly Girl’s Life on how I made a Scrapbook of Love Letters! Go check it out!

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# Ask Away Friday with Christy ||Sweet and Savoring

Happy Friday friends!! I’m so excited today because, while I write this (Thursday) I am going to the NiN concert tonight! Even bigger and more exciting than that (difficult task) I get to see my cutest tiny baby niece Lyla Simone who was born earlier this week!! It’d be hard to put me in a bad mood today! Before all those awesome events, we gotta do the fun # Ask Away Friday swap with my pal Christy!

Ask Away Friday BadgeChristy is the word wiz over at Sweet and Savoring. She has amazing posts on delectable foods, far off travels and gorgeous photos to recap her memories. Christy also weaves depression through her posts to help others understand more about the symptoms and how to help yourself stay happy! Hop over to her blog to go on an adventure!

Christy2Here are the questions Christy asked me:

1. Your little girl is adorable! Did it take you and your husband a long time to agree on a name? Did you decide before you saw her or after?
Thank you! It took us a few months to decide on her name. Jeffrey liked long/girlie names and I liked the shorter names. We both had a lot of boy names we liked but didn’t thing of any girl names until we found out she was a girl. We think it fits her perfectly so we’re both really happy with her name!

Sophie12. What was a day in your life like before you had Sophie?
My days were not near as exciting before Sophie! I worked at a bank and took art and horticulture classes at a local college to keep myself busy. My husband and I would travel to our family’s twice per month on the weekends and the other weekends were filled with home projects. We’d go to the movies a lot and have friends over to play board games sometimes. My every-days weren’t too crazy.

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3. I love all your home organizing posts! As my husband and I prepare to move next week, what’s your biggest tip for moving to an apartment with less storage space?OH NO! Ummm get rid of stuff BEFORE you move! I’m a strong believer in ‘you can always buy it again a few years down the road if you need it.’ Also, look at IKEA catalogs because the Swedes know how to live in compact areas! Ask your local Jimmy Johns if you can have any boxes. They’re perfect for packing with books. Not too heavy but can fit a lot!

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4. I love your 35 by 35 list! I would also like to run a 5k, but it seems like life keeps getting in the way of my training (excuses, excuses). Do you run regularly and/or do you have any tips for training?
I’m really not the girl to share tips on running as I rarely stay on track. We are signed up for a 5k (first step) so I’ve been making myself run in the mornings when it’s cool. If I am too lazy or Soph had a rough night, I run at night on the treadmill while Jeffrey’s on bedtime duty. I use a Couch to 5k app on my phone that helps me stay focused while I run. I have also incorporated a pushup and sit up regime on the non-run days via apps by the same company.

5. Laughter really does seem to make everything better. Describe the last time you laughed so hard your stomach hurt.
I actually just laughed REALLY unnecessarily hard at a car next to us on the highway. We’re currently driving to see NiN in Chicago and there was a car next to us that had a broken antenna and it looked like it was waving to us. I get amused at really simple things! We also watched an old stand up of Ellen that was cracking me up the other night.

6. You’re a fellow Harry Potter fan! Who’s your favorite female character of the series? Male character?
Luna is my favorite female character. I love her whimsy and friendliness towards everyone. I love how she believes things until proven wrong. Sirius and Hagrid are tied for my favorite male characters. I love how much Sirius loves and cares about Harry to honor his parents and Hagrid is just this huge dumb loveable teddy bear who is loyal til the very end. He has such a big heart for animals and his friends and always makes me laugh.

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7. On my blog, I’ve talked openly about my struggles with depression. What’s the toughest thing you and your husband have been through together and how did you get through it?
We’ve not had many struggles, to be honest. We had to make the decision to put down our bunny a couple years ago. He had lived with Jeffrey through college and was our only pet for a few years. He was our shadow and had a great personality. He was very playful but would also just lay by us so we could pet him during a movie. He’d gotten arthritis which made his hind legs not work as well and eventually we decided he was too unhappy in his condition. We had him cremated and put in a box that we keep in our family room though, next to a picture of my old doggy, Maggie.

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8. Breakfast is my favorite meal to go out for. What’s your favorite breakfast dish to order?
We have this AWESOME breakfast place in town called Original House of Pancakes that is always a 30min wait because it’s so popular. They have a cinnamon almond French toast that is delectable. If I’m not wanting something sweet I’ll get an omelet, sausage patties and bread so I can use the tiny jams (we don’t eat bread at home.)

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9. You were going to Paris, and now you canceled your trip. I also just decided to cancel a trip (to Mexico). What were you most excited about seeing in Paris?
Awe! I’m sorry you cancelled your trip! This is going to sound lame, because there are so many great icons in Paris, but I wanted to see Disney the most! I’ve heard terrible things about it but I knew that going in so I knew to not be disappointed. I wanted to mostly see how the cast members differed from the cast members in Orlando.

10. And this has quickly become a favorite question of mine: write a haiku about yourself!
I love Mickey Mouse
Sophie has the biggest smile
On my way to NiN

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Great swap Christy! I can’t wait to see your questions! Who are your favorite male and female HP characters? Last time you laughed til your stomach hurt? Favorite breakfast dish? Now I’m really craving that almond french toast!!

Watermark Your Photos-PicMonkey

Hey techies! Today I’m sharing another PicMonkey tutorial on how to watermark your photos. I did a post on making a PicMonkey Invitation a couple months ago and several people have asked what program I use to make my graphics. PicMonkey is extremely user friendly and free (unless you want to upgrade to Royale.)

watermark-with-picmonkey

I, personally, don’t use watermarks on my photos because I use a LOT of photos in my blogs and honestly, I just forget. It has nothing to do with the difficulty of the task. The first step is to open www.picmonkey.com in your browser (I know…duh…but it is the first step.) Next we’ll make a watermark that you can use to stamp onto each of your photos so you won’t have to re-create a new watermark every time you edit a photo. Click on the design button on PicMonkey’s homepage.

transparent-canvasIn the ‘crop’ menu on the left, click the box for ‘transparent canvas’ and hit ‘apply.’ This will make your watermark only show the text/image over your photo.

textAt this point, you’ll most likely want to use the ‘add text’ menu or the ‘overlay’ menu (the butterfly.) I wanted my name as the watermark so I clicked the ‘Add Text’ button and a text box popped up on my canvas as well as a text window to adjust the size, orientation, color etc.

font-fadeFor the purpose of this tutorial, I left the text black but for my actual blog I would use white and fade it so it would show up better on my photos. I might even make a white version and a grey version in case I have an image with a white background. The above photo actually has the window for the arrow rather than the text but I wanted to point out where the fade slider is for the text or image. I love PicMonkey because you can use their free fonts, their Royale fonts and all of your existing fonts on your computer. If you want a TON of fonts but don’t want to pay the extra for Royale you can download free fonts at DaFont.com or Google.com/fonts.

geometricIf you want some sort of boarder around your text you can use the ‘geometric’ option from the ‘overlay’ menu. I chose a black rectangle that I enlarged and rotated. I right clicked on the black rectangle to bring up a menu where I ‘sent to back’ so it would fall behind my text.

layered-boarderThere are literally billions of different options for making your watermark. A lot of bloggers write out their name or full url and place it in the lower right or left hand corner of each picture. Some bloggers have more of an image stamped with their ‘seal’ somewhere on their photo. You will only want to have the border if you want it to really stand out on your photo.

cropYou’ll want to use the ‘crop’ menu to crop your photo as ‘no fixed proportions’ so you can outline the area you’ve designed.

save-sizeOnce you’re satisfied with your watermark, hit ‘save’ at the top of your screen. Name your file and re-size it’s dimensions. You’ll want to change your size to something much smaller; anywhere from 100-300 depending on how large you want your watermark. You can also just leave it large and re-size it when adding it to your photo.

adding-watermarkTo add your watermark to a photo, open your photo in a new PicMonkey tab and click ‘edit’ from the homepage. Once you’ve selected the photo you want to watermark, click the ‘overlay’ menu (butterfly) and click ‘your own’ to add your watermark. Resize as needed.

watermark-example-1Here is the watermark I made for this tutorial but I’ve also made a few others in the past when I was trying to decide if I wanted to watermark my photos.

watermark-example-2watermark-example-4watermark-example-7Yes, the theme for the photo bomb was ‘my babies.’ If I come into a problem with people stealing my photos, I’ll probably start adding a watermark. For now, the disclaimer on my ‘about me’ page is comfort enough. I may be too trustworthy but that’s ok. Have you run into copy write problems with your photos in the past? Do you use a watermark now? Aren’t my babies the cutest?

*For a tutorial on how to make the Nutella Parfait on the title photo, click here and for the Gooey Granola Bars click here (both of which will have you thanking me.)

Organizing Crafts

Ello creative friends! I’ve been asked a few times on the blog how I organize allllllll of my crafting crap supplies. I’m sad to say that it is my very least favorite thing to organize in our home and I think it’s because I have more stuff than room to fit it all! My dream is to have a FULL room just for my hobbies/crafts (or a large portion of a basement.) For now, I’ll do the best I can to organize what I have so I don’t buy things more than once and I always have some kind of supplies to make a craft if I’m feeling creative.

organizing-your-craftsOrganizing crafts is messy and I wasn’t sure exactly how to show you everything since there is SO much in such a small area. I thought numbering the shelves and describing what’s on them would be the most efficient way to show you my goods.

craft-closet-numbered

  1. Guitar amp, bag with ancient gaming consoles and my book bag with supplies from my art class a couple years ago.
  2. Disney puzzles, chess, hammock, basket with misc. cords and coloring books.
  3. Party board games, shoe boxes full of cards for Sophie, our wedding memorabilia and cards to send out, Smash Book basket (whatever current Smash book I’m working on has all supplies in there for easy access), sewing machine with incomplete cover, computer/photo paper in magazine folder, and large paper cutter.
  4. Tote filled with fun crafts (buttons, pipe cleaners, friendship string, heat beads), tote of punches, glue gun and embossing gun, tote of scrap book paper, magazine folder of misc. scrap book paper, a Recollections storage unit with stamps in the left drawer and stickers on the right, a photo album of my plant tags, twine and a 3 hole punch.
  5. This is the insane part. The floor holds fabric for projects yet to be completed, (stockings and a blanket for Lexi) Scrabble, Rock Band drum kit, transfer paper for my Cricut, all the current scrap books/Smash books I’m working on and my Cricut (I know, I need a better place for it!)
  6. Rarely used games, a tote of cards and dice games and a tote of poker chips.
  7. Our most played games, (these get played about once/month) our camera bag and photo reflectors. Under the camera equipment sits my Dad’s tripod and a few prepped canvases for a quick craft. I like prepping canvas all at once so they have time to dry so I can get to the painting part when I’m inspired.
  8. This 6 cube storage unit holds a TON. On top is my massive bead box. Top left: crayons, colored pencils, markers, water color and kid scissors. Top right: ribbons and a few magazines. Middle left: acrylic paints filled to the top (my inspiration for getting this organizer b/c they were spread between 3 totes before.) Middle right: paint brushes, gesso, brush cleaner and other tools. Bottom left: tulle and small scraps of fabrics. Bottom right: sewing supplies (needles, pins, thread, quilt cutter, measuring tape, heat’n bond etc.)

While I look at this photo, the closet still looks insane and unorganized to me. I at least know where everything is and it’s easy to put away. The main thing is that the floor access to the crawl space is clear for tornado warnings!

My desk has an Alex drawer unit that holds the supplies that I use more often. I just recently bought this unit and am so happy with it because it has really long drawers and I have room to grow.

alex-drawer-ikea-top

The top drawer has my favorite expandable acrylic organizer (I also have one for my makeup.) This drawer holds my paperclips that sit on top of my post-it notes. It also has my pencil sharpeners, eraser, USB stick, extra markers, lip chap, hand lotion, chalk, notebook, iPhone cable, return address stamp, ink and stamp roll.

IMG_3689The second drawer down is my adhesive drawer. It holds my washi tapes, embossing pad, glues, scrap book tape, magnetic tape, glue dots, floral tape and acrylic tape.  My favorite adhesives, besides the beautiful washi tapes, are the Scotch glue dots and the Martha Stewart glue (in case you were wondering.) I also really love my Aleen’s scrap book tape for scrapping.

glitter-Alex-drawer-IKEAThe third drawer down shows my unhealthy addiction with glitter. It also holds our True Love tin (wedding gift from my sister) containing mosaic tiles. I also have my One A Day journal (that I’ve, sadly, not written in for two years) and the Martha Steward circle cutter.

junk-Alex-drawer-IKEAThe fourth drawer is my obligatory junk drawer that has stuff that I use but don’t really have a place for. Embossing powder, extra exacto, bleach pen, fancy scissors, screwdriver, date stamp, extra ink pad, stone beads (I guess I do know where those can go…) and buttons.

final-Alex-drawer-IKEAThe final drawer is my techy drawer because it holds extra cables, my iPhone box, headphones and my awesome Bamboo tablet that I NEEDED but have hardly used. *looks down and shakes head*

If you’ve ever been curious as to where this blog originates, it is here:

blogging-deskThis shot was from a couple weeks ago, before I got my new lamp and before I started trying to make a dent in my scrap book pile. I like using a laptop rather than a desktop so I can move it to the couch if we’re watching a movie or if I’m using the desk for an extensive project. The shelf up top holds my ‘no touching unless you’re Shelly’ carousel of crayons, fake plant, twine, mini 3-hole punch, tape, stacking dolls and random vase. I also have my favorite Disney princess (Ariel) and favorite musician (Trent Reznor) on the walls. You’ll also probably recognize my friendship lamp!

wall-storageThe area on the wall behind my computer holds the photo wire with some of my favorite memories that I often rotate. I also have a wall container unit that holds my stationary for quick thank you notes, markers, colored pencils and my favorite writing utensils. I have to admit though, my desk does not always look this empty. I clean it to this state once every couple of weeks, but usually it has some sort of project occupying at least half of the desk. Here’s what my desk looks like tonight:

messy-deskMy desk will remain like this until I finish ONE scrapbook. In case you were wondering, I’m working on our Disney Trips album. All in all, I know where everything is and I don’t have to make too much effort trying to get it out or put it back away, which is key in keeping things organized. I have also promised myself to not buy any more scrap booking materials until I go through half of my supplies. This is hard because I really want to see what Project Life is all about! Anyone else have a similar method or do you organize completely different? Similar messy desk syndrome at least? ;) I’d love to hear how you organize your crafts or if you have any suggestions to help me improve my situation!

Create

createI saw this glyph for ‘create’ and had an epiphany that I feel should not have taken 29 years to realize. One of the things that is constant in my life is that as long as I create, I am happy. There are a billion ways I can be creative. Painting a massive canvas, baking a 12 layer chocolate cake, making a clover headband, weaving a rug, learning Blackbird on the guitar…literally a billion. Even if my creation fails, I still get joy from the process and usually learn something along the way. So create, and be happy.

So what’s aperture do again?

Hello shutterbugs! I am doing a new series on photography the next several weeks. Photography is a hobby that I wish I was more passionate about. I look up to the people who can really capture a moment in time to freeze it for all eternity. It’s a major talent to be able to see an image and re-create it perfectly as you see it in your mind. This is my ultimate goal and I’m starting today by learning about aperture. I believe the best way to learn is by teaching others, so hopefully this will help me in understanding my DSLR further.

ApertureThere are three main areas of the camera that you can adjust to get your photo to turn out how you’ve imagined. The aperture, ISO and shutter speed can all be adjusted to get the perfect shot. Aperture refers to the adjustable hole in your lens that allows light to enter. Measured in f/stops, the smaller the number, the larger the hole and in turn, more light that can enter the camera. Imagine the aperture as your pupil; with low lighting, your pupil gets larger to allow more light to enter but when you’re outside where it’s sunny, your pupil shrinks to shield your eye from the light.

fstopsAperture is used in determining the depth of field (or portion in which your image is in focus.) The wider your aperture (low number), the shallower your depth of field making a smaller portion of your image in focus. The smaller your aperture (high number), larger your depth of field making a larger portion of your image in focus. I’m a visual person so here is an example of a low f/stop setting and a high f/stop setting.

tea-low-aperturemountain-high-apertureNotice how the tea cup is in focus but the background is fuzzy? There is a shallow depth of field because a low f/stop number was used. In the photo of the mountain, everything is in focus making the depth of field very large with a high f/stop number. The toughest thing for me to remember is that the smaller the aperture (hole), the larger the f/stop number. A good way to remember this is to squint and open your eyes real wide. People often squint to see things in focus (small eye = small aperture hole.) For an image with everything in focus squint or make your aperture hole smaller (f/stop number larger.) Basically, they’re opposites.

fstop2The best way to learn how aperture affects your photos is by taking the same photo several times, changing only the f/stop. Here are a few of my favorite explanations of aperture from my fellow bloggers:

i heart naptime
Kevin & Amanda
Click It Up A Notch
Snap Creativity

Now I must take advantage of Sophie’s nap and practice! What’s the hardest part for you to remember while changing the settings on your camera? Anything you’d like to learn more about that I can do in my photography series? Chances are, I need to learn it better as well! Just keep practicing!

 

Mountain and teacup photos were not taken by me. Click on the photo for the original photographer’s site.

# Ask Away Friday with Sarah || Beauty School Drop Out

Another beautiful Friday is here to welcome us to the weekend!! Friday’s are great because they say ‘you did it! you’re almost to fun!’ and also because it means it’s # Ask Away Friday!! My partner had a lot of questions that made me smile this week so I’m excited to share my answers with you!
Ask Away Friday BadgeMy questionnaire extraordinaire for this week was Sarah from Beauty School Drop Out. Sarah wears many hats but her biggest hats are as wife, mommy of two boys, attorney, runner and blogger! Sarah is a knitting expert and is big into eating healthy meals as a family. She’s a great resource for me because knitting is one hobby I haven’t tried and am interested in AND we’re just starting to be able to eat as a family at the dinner table since Sophie can eat more of our food!

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 Here are the questions that Sarah asked me:

1. It seems like you are really thriving through your first year of motherhood.  Now that you’re an “experienced” mom, what advice would you give a friend getting ready to have a baby?
Thank you! I’ve never thought about that but she is healthy and happy so I guess we’re doing something right! I would tell them to do what YOU feel is best for your baby. Don’t listen to ‘what you should be able to do’ according to other people or the internet. Sometimes it takes a long time to heal, sometimes you can’t breast feed, and sometimes your baby won’t sleep without being in a swing…and these things just happen. As long as you’re healthy (or on the road to recovery) and your baby is healthy, everything is going better than perfect! Oh and if things don’t seem ‘quite right’ don’t be afraid to ask your doctor.

Feeding-Tube2. I’m slightly obsessed with paper planners (and all things stationary, honestly) but sadly I think an electronic system just works better for me.  Are you still using your awesome homemade life planner?
I confess, I do use my gmail calendar on my phone the most for scheduling. I used my planner really well for several months but when I didn’t have a convenient place to use it, I lost track of it. We now have it back in a prime location so I’ve been using it more the past couple of weeks and have been LOVING it! Sometimes I’m better at seeing things in written out in as the big picture which is hard to do on my phone.

planner3. What’s your favorite quick, weeknight meal to cook for your family?
Probably tacos because it’s my husband’s favorite meal. :) My favorite way to make them is to chop up some onion and sautee it before browning the ground turkey. We use TacoBell’s taco seasoning and make sure to marinade the meat in it for at least 10 minutes. We either use black beans or refried beans and add salsa, cheese and guac to the taco to finish it off. Sometimes in a whole grain wrap or on top of spinach…either way, it’s our favorite quick meal for the week because it doesn’t take a lot of attention!

4. I love Jimmy John’s! I saw a photo on your About page of you in a wedding dress holding a JJs bag – what’s the story there?!
We stopped at Jimmy Johns to get food between our photo shoot on the circle and our ceremony, knowing that we wouldn’t be able to join in the cocktail hour. My husband works for Jimmy John’s corporate office as a systems administrator. Also, no, we don’t get discounts. ;)

jimmy-johns5. Have you always been into DIY and crafting?  Tell us about one of your first projects.
Yes and yes. My Mom, Dad and Sister are all extremely talented in the way of art, craft and diy so it was a natural thing for me growing up. If you can think of a type of craft or art, I’ve most likely tried it at least once when I was growing up. I have no clue what one of my first projects would have been?! I remember helping foil the edges of stained glass pieces when I was too little to cut or solder and I was always my Dad’s assistant, getting him tools, on DiY projects.

bean_dad3_19866. What is your most and least favorite thing about blogging?
My favorite thing about blogging is the fact that it’s forcing me to practice, and in turn improve, my photography skills. I know photos are a big part of why people look at blogs and I want to be up there with the greats eventually. ;) My least favorite thing about blogging is the fact that it’s all new skills to learn for me. In order to be at the level of blogging that I want DiY Mama to be, I’d like to know CSS and have awesome photography skills. My writing skills will also need to improve and I’ll need an extra five hours in the day set aside for all the projects I want to do…but those things will just have to wait. ;)

city-museum7. “Let’s try this again, shall we?” is the tagline to your blog — what’s the story behind it?
I tend to say that in my head a lot. It’s rare that I’ll do something anything perfectly the first try. I could be trying a new painting technique, new food for Sophie or new recipe and will have to say that because something didn’t go right. In every single aspect of my life I have to try things again from a different approach and that’s ok. My parents taught me to just try again. ‘Here, try it this way’ is something I heard a lot growing up so now I say to myself ‘let’s try this again, shall we?’ (in a Brittish accent usually.)

8. Throwback Thursday – what activities (sports, band, etc) did you participate in in high school?
Oh dear! No one’s ever asked about my high school days! Throughout high school I played soccer (year round) and was in choir. I was also in Hello Dolly, Girl Scouts until my Silver Award, Student Council and FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes.) I’m not quite sure how I actually did all of that and kept up with school?! It sounds like a lot now. A lot that my parents and grandparents went to every single game, award ceremony and performance I had. The biggest reason I was in so many activities is because I was well supported.

highschool9. What’s a big decision that you made recently?
We haven’t had to make any big decisions since we decided to not go to Paris for money reasons. Currently the biggest decision I’m working on is what fireplace doors to buy so Sophie won’t jump in the fire this winter. ;) I have some time.

10. Describe yourself in 6 words or less.  
Caring, needy, tenacious, creative, and not always organized but great at organizing. ;) That last one was more  than one word but I didn’t know how to describe it in one.
vegasSee what I meant about the fun questions?! Anyone else play the head of a horse in their high school musical? What about remembering your first craft project?! I’m thankful my biggest decision lately is what fireplace doors to purchase. I need this break of ‘not crazy’ in my life. :) Be sure to check out the questions I asked Sarah at Beauty School Drop Out!

Family Command Center

Hidy ho good neighbor! Do you have a hard time keeping everyone’s schedules in order, argue over what to eat for dinner or always looking for that list for the grocery? Well look no further! I’m going to show you how to create a family command center that can organize all of your family’s information in one place! Ok, I’m done talking like an infomercial. Not sure where that came from.

command-centerThis project was ultimately a success but there were a lot of failures along the way! It started back in February when I thought it would be a good idea to paint in the middle of the winter and not need to open all the doors and windows. I was very wrong. I started with a magnet paint so we would be able to put those magnet letters or other learning tools on the bottom for Sophie. 1. Magnet paint is extremely harsh smelling. 2. It takes FOREVER to dry before it stops smelling. 3. It requires more than one coat. After evacuating our home for several hours to Barnes and Noble, we come back home to the wall not even able to hold a piece of paper with a magnet (and still smelly.) I tried another coat and it still wasn’t a strong enough hold so I gave up on the magnet portion of the wall and waited until spring to do the chalkboard portion. Unfortunately, I can not give you any tips on doing a magnet wall since it didn’t work for me but I may try again in the future.magnet-wall

A few months later, I painted the chalkboard wall. I had to sand down the magnetic surface because it was too textured. Once I wiped my surface clean, I used a roller to apply two coats of the chalk board paint (letting it dry for 24 hours in between each coat and before writing on the wall.) I also taped off where I wanted my boarder. I had to use a boarder because I got outside of the lines with the magnetic paint and didn’t want to touch it up with our grey paint. Happy accident. Also, notice I painted this right before Father’s Day. :)

chalkboard-paintI painted the boarder with a regular paint brush to make sure there wasn’t too much paint on the brush which kept it from seeping under the tape. I used Target’s smallest size tub of Devine Color in ‘Pond‘ for the border. Our command center is as you walk into our kitchen, making it a central location for us to easily access it. Once everything had dried for a day, I hung everything we needed to be organized.

locationFor us a large dry erase calendar works well for a monthly at-a-glance snapshot of the big events that are going on. There is also room for our to-do list, coupons, and a few pictures.

calendarUnder the calendar, I hung a picture ledge that holds our planner and chalk. Our planner has been used a lot more regularly now that we have it in a prime spot that is easy to access. We use it for all scheduling and meal planning making it easy for either of us to see what’s going on anytime.

planner-shelfThe bottom portion of the wall is reserved for fun! It is currently showcasing art by my niece, Fiona, and myself (who still draws houses like I did in 3rd grade.) I really love our wall. There are some splatter marks I’ll eventually (who are we kidding) never touch up, paint on the light switches and the frame at the top is not centered. This is what makes it a DiY project and is worth being proud of (even if it took 6 months to complete.)

artHow do you keep your family’s schedules in order? Anyone have their mail sorter in their command center? We’re terrible at going through our mail as soon as it comes in the door. I should probably go work on my house drawings. Let me know if you’ve used magnet paint and if you were successful!

Let’s Do It!

let's do itThis summer’s motto: let’s do it! I’ve realized recently that we can’t live life thinking ‘what if ____ happens.’ Living life that way, we’ d miss out on a lot of great memories. We survived taking our 9mo baby on a 12 hour road trip and had an absolutely amazing time. Sometimes we do things that I’m sure people say ‘why are they doing that?’ like taking our bean to Kohl’s at 10:30 this weekend, letting Soph climb into the shower with me with all of her clothes on because she’s being needy or as everyone with babies is leaving the festival for the night, we’re just going! If our girl is happy though, we’re happy. We want her to experience all the awesomness that this world has to offer and we’re not going to say ‘what if ____ happens’ but ‘let’s do it!’