Last year on January 1st we found ourselves needing to get out of the house. It was a cold day, but otherwise nice so the three of us headed to a local park where we explored some of the trails and started geocaching.

Our second find of the day was a cool bee one. This was part of what got us hooked and, minus a little break around Elise’s birth, we’ve gone out several times over the last 12 months in search of more “treasure” as Dylan calls it. Love that it’s a family adventure that gets us out of the house. Do you geocache?

Geocaching Digital Scrapbook Layout

Supplies: Sweet Bee collaboration by Celeste Knight and Jen Allyson; Woodsong papers by Deena Rutter; The Best Days of Our Life extras by Michelle Underwood.

I’m sharing the template I created to make this page. It features 12 layers with shadows. The template is free for personal use only.Geocaching 12x12 digital scrapbooking template

Click here to download the Geocaching template

Enjoy!

Have you missed one of my previous digital freebies? Click HERE to find them. And, don’t forget to subscribe to my feeds so you won’t miss future freebies!

This week’s Project 52 challenge was Out of Focus. I had no idea where this particular theme would take me until I was flipping through some photos I snapped on my iPhone and found this one I took last Saturday of my husband and Elise.

Project-52-Photos-Week-3-Out-Of-Focus

He was blowing raspberries on her cheek. She was laughing and making funny faces – not quite sure what was going on. I didn’t intend for the photo to be out of focus, but between their movements and my laughing while snapping – it happened. And it worked perfectly for the theme.

Join in the fun at any time. Next week’s challenge is Shadows. Find the full list on Sarah Halstead’s blog here.

Project 52 Photos

This post contains some affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

One of Dylan’s Christmas gifts was a subscription to Kiwi Crate. As a kid who loves arts & crafts plus mail (what kid doesn’t love mail?), it has been a huge hit particularly on the cold, dreary days we have been trapped inside.

Kiwi Crate: Delivery

Each “crate” is a small cardboard box that arrives at your doorstep monthly and contains supplies for 2-3 projects. Our first crate was themed Frozen Fun and included luminaries with winter scenes, a snowman game, and explore! magazine with more activities. The crate included everything to create the luminaries and snowman game as well as scissors and markers we can continue using.

Kiwi Crate: Frozen Luminaries

The projects have clear instructions that feature both text and images to help your child understand. They also note the parental involvement needed and degree of mess. Both are huge pluses. Dylan, of course, wanted to do everything immediately and, as I was in the middle of caring for his baby sister, I knew the messier of the two (the luminaries) needed to wait until I could focus on him.

Kiwi Crate: Luminaries

I was also pleased to see the fun didn’t end after he completed the luminaries and snowman toss game. The included explore! magazine featured coloring, games and a small story plus a couple science experiment ideas using ice and food coloring.

Kiwi Crate: Ice Experiment

If you are looking for a fun Valentine’s gift for your child that will keep them entertained and not cause cavities ;) – consider subscribing to Kiwi Crate. There are options from 1 to 12 months. And, for a limited time only, start a Kiwi Crate subscription with the Limited Edition: Valentine’s Day Pop-Up Kids’ Project and save 25% on your 1st month PLUS free shipping with promo code: LOVE at checkout. Supplies of the valentine’s project are limited.

*Your crate will ship within 2-3 business days with guaranteed delivery before Valentine’s Day! Promotional code does not apply to non-subscription purchases

This week’s Project 52 challenge was Your Everyday. My initial thought was diapers. My everyday contains a LOT of diapers! But then I captured Elise with the biggest smile on Tuesday morning and realized that this photo was perfect.

Project 52 Photos: Week 2 - Your Everyday

My everyday is being a mom. Loving and caring for my kids. And my everyday is this little girl waking up happy! I hear her cooing and rolling around in her crib when she wakes. No crying or fussing. Just happy and waiting for me to come get her.

What does your everyday look like?

Join in the fun at any time. Next week’s challenge is Out of Focus. Find the full list on Sarah Halstead’s blog here.

Project 52 Photos

We’ve been blessed to have friends who throw a fun family New Year’s Eve party each year and this past December 31st was no exception. We rang in Elise’s first new year at midnight GMT (i.e., 7pm ET) with cheers, a balloon drop, champagne for the adults and sparkling jell-o for the kids.

New Years Eve - Dec 2014

Since the party had a UK theme, we all rocked our Union Jack attire and I dressed up Elise in white, red & blue.

Supplies: Jan ’15 template by Natashya Bay; All American elements by Karen Funk; New Years Eve kit by Miss Mint; Fun & Festive and Let’s Go mini kits by Robyn Meirotto; Here We Come a Caroling by Dawn by Design; Digi Essentials by Karla Dudley.

I’ve been familiar with Craft Hope for some time now and kept intending to participate in one of the projects. The idea of combining crafting with giving back and helping others spoke to me. Unfortunately, I would forget or loose track of time. No more. I saw the posting for the latest project (Finger Puppets) at the beginning of the month and knew this project was something simple that I could definitely jump on. I already have quite a bit of felt in my stash so I dug it out, printed out the templates and grabbed Dylan to assist me.

Here are the first two finger puppets we created:

Craft Hope: Finger Puppets

Adorable, right? And so incredibly easy to make. We used the provided free templates and directions to create them. Dylan chose the colors and traced the patterns. He even helped me a bit with the cutting while I pieced them together and did the sewing.

While I was busy sewing the monkey, I glanced up to find him creating his own design – a bumble bee. Another reason I love a project like this as it brought out the creativity in my son. He cut and placed every piece in this design and then pinned it so I can sew it for him. How cute is that? I think I’ll let him keep this one. :)

Bumble Bee Finger Puppet

If you are interested in participating, see this post from Country Woman magazine for the free templates and instructions about where to mail your completed puppets. The puppets will be collected and then shipped to The Miracle Foundation to help children in India with learning and communication skills. The deadline for the project is March 9, 2015. If you join in, leave a link in the comments. Dylan & I would love to see your creations.

I enjoy participating in photography challenges as a way of inspiring me to think a bit creatively, practice taking photos and connect with others online. One of my blog friends, Sarah Halstead, is co-hosting a 52 week challenge this year – Project 52.

This past week’s theme was Time. My take on it – lunch time. I took this photo with my iPhone during a family lunch at local restaurant Firewürst. Their signature sandwich is my favorite item on the menu.

Project 52 Photos: Week 1 - Time

Join in the fun at any time. Next week’s challenge is Your Everyday. Find the full list on Sarah’s blog here.

Project 52 Photos

After nursing Elise to sleep on Monday night, I held her up to my chest, her head on my shoulder and rocked her while gently patting her back waiting on a burp. It’s a nightly ritual, but this time it was different. Even while she was sound asleep and breathing deeply against my neck, I couldn’t bring myself to carry her across the room and put her down.

I just held her and rocked.

I felt the warmth of her little body pressed to mine. Took a deep whiff of that sweet baby smell. Rubbed her back with my left hand. And rocked and rocked.

I knew I should go ahead and lay her down. Then head off to bed myself. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t stand. Instead I stayed.

Sleeping Baby Nov 2014

Napping on mom at one month

I just held her and rocked.

The thoughts raced through my mind as I tried hard to absorb every minute detail of the moment. She’s only 11-1/2 weeks and yet changing so fast. I remembered how during her first month she spent many afternoon naps on my chest as I reclined on the loveseat in our family room. I couldn’t put her down then either. And now? Now she cat naps a few times a day. She usually takes one long 3-4 hour nap typically in her car seat as she falls asleep while we’re out for a walk or running errands. Then bedtime happens between 9-10pm and she sleeps all night as much as 11 hours. Seriously. I’m so unbelievably grateful especially after having to cry it out with Dylan at 8 months, but … sometime I miss holding her in the quiet of the night and I definitely miss those nap time snuggles in my arms.

So I stayed put. I just held her and rocked. Because my baby girl, my last baby, isn’t even 3 months old but already growing up so fast and I want to pause and take it all in.

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PassThePepper #CollectiveBias

Growing up I spent many fall Saturdays at college football games with my parents and, later, with friends during my own college years. A regular ritual with this was, of course, tailgating.

Make your Homegating One of a Kind

Now that I have kids of my own including a young infant, I don’t get out for games in person as often. But that doesn’t mean I quit cheering. Instead of outside in the parking lot, it’s become inside “homegating” and is just as fun & festive.

Dr Pepper at Kroger

In preparation for the upcoming college championship game, we headed to Kroger to pick up Dr Pepper and snacks to enjoy while we watch from the comfort of our living room. If you enjoy Dr Pepper as much as we do, be sure to get your digital coupon from Kroger before you go shopping!

Dr Pepper Beverage Station

Wanting some fun one of a kind items to help decorate for our homegating party and, as my son & I love to craft together, we created the chalkboard, pennants and table runner.

The pennants were made using the box from a 12 pack of Dr Pepper. We simply opened up the box and cut long triangles from two sides. One I turned backwards and added “Go Team” with markers. Then we cut a wooden dowel in two, stuck them through small slits in the pennants and placed inside a glass cylinder vase filled with shredded tissue.

Dr Pepper Football pennants

The “fake” chalkboard is actually a reuse of the framed family picture that hangs over our buffet. It was so easy to make. All you need are black poster board, ruler, pencil, scissors, chalk and an eraser (or use a paper towel or duster). Here’s a quick run down with photos …

Chalkboard Football Decor Tutorial

1) Measure and cut a sheet of black poster board to size. Our frame holds a 16×20 photo so I cut the board a 1/4″ smaller all around. 2) Lightly rub a piece of white chalk on it’s side to “dirty” up the surface then 3) erase it. This gives the board a more realistic chalkboard look. 4) Draw in a game play.

Finally, add it to the frame. Now, I didn’t want to get chalk dust into the frame so I cut my poster board a bit smaller so I could just slide it in over top. You could also cut to the actual opening size and lightly attach with double sided tape.

One of a Kind Chalkboard Football Decor

My son helped me create the chalkboard and likes it so much, I think we might reframe later and hang in his sports themed bedroom.

Finally, the table runner we created using freezer paper, leftover burlap coffee bag from Dylan’s Four-esta birthday party in 2013 (I have quite the crafty stash!) and green paint.

Table Runner Football Decor

I started off using acrylic paint I had on hand, but quickly realized I didn’t have enough as the burlap was soaking it up. In an effort to use a little less paint and speed up the process, I ended up using a small can of spray paint. After it dried, Dylan & I trimmed the edges and peeled off the freezer paint to reveal the yard lines and numbers. It was more time consuming than the other projects, but still very easy and makes a huge impact on our table decoration.

Make your Homegating One of a Kind

What are your favorite ways to “homegate”? Do you have a food set up like we do or maybe all wear team jerseys?

Now that our kitchen is slowly getting more beautiful (also read: I enjoy spending more time there) with the makeover process, and we’re at a pause point while we price out tackling the backsplash, I thought I’d share a few ways we’ve been working on improving the function and organization.

Kitchen Organization Ideas

Spices – I installed a pull down spice rack (affiliate link) in our last house which I ended up leaving since it was screwed into the cabinet. I liked it. It functioned, but I also felt limited by the size. I decided to try something new this time and bought an expandable stepped organizer from The Container Store. The spices are arranged by size & then alphabetically with a few more frequently used ones pulled to the front so I can quickly find what I am looking for. It holds so much more and they are easily accessible – I don’t miss the pull down rack at all.

Kitchen Organization: Spice Rack

I  also keep the salt & pepper in this cabinet. It was a countertop item before we listed our last house. Once I got into the habit of storing it in the cabinet to keep the counters clear for showings, I realized how much better I liked having it out of view. Also, we have less counter space now so I don’t like to hog any up with extra items.

Kids’ Dishes – as cute as they are, I had to make myself stop buying these! We still use them daily although Dylan will occasionally use one of our actual china plates or bowls every once and a while. Since he helps fix his own meals and carries his plate to & from the table, it’s nice to have a nonbreakable option. It’s a rare day he drops one, but better to be cleaning up spilt food or drink than broken china too.

Kitchen Organization: Kids Dinnerware

To keep them accessible, but not take up a lot of space in the cabinet, I used an undershelf basket from The Container Store. It just slides in and connects onto the existing cabinet shelf. This doubled my stacking space so I can put the round plates and a few bowls up top and the divided plates on the bottom.

The basket also provides a little support for the cutting boards I stand to the side. Another thing I picked up when we were selling our last house – one more item off the counter (I had previously kept them standing behind our canisters on counter) and hidden out of view.

Pots & Pans – we added a pull-out organizer a year ago. This has been the best thing! Each pot & pan plus lid has a designated spot. They are easy to access and we no longer have toppling towers when we try to pull one out to use.

Pull Out Pots Organizer

Cookie sheets, muffin & bread pans, etc – I updated a skinny existing cabinet in our first house with dividers to allow for vertical pan storage. This house actually came with one tall, skinny cabinet that is perfect for this without having to add dividers. Smaller pans, bread pans and muffin tins are all stashed in the drawer beneath the oven.

School Snacks – this is our newest addition. I let Dylan pick out a small bin at the Dollar Tree. We placed it on one of the lower shelves in the pantry and filled with snack options. Each night he selects a snack and places it in his backpack for the next day. This gives him a little independence.

Kitchen Organization: School Snacks

What are you tricks for keeping a kitchen organized and functional?