June 13, 2016

Back At It With A New House

To blog or not to blog that has been the question.  And clearly the answer has been not to blog; I just haven't had the time or motivation/inspiration to blog but with a new house and another baby on the way I guess it's time for a little update.  Plus more and more of you have been asking to see the new digs so no better time than the present.






This past fall we sold our precious Cherry St Cottage.  As ready as I was for more space and a fresh start, I was pretty heartbroken to say goodbye to that tiny house.  It had it's faults and was beginning to give me a few headaches (mostly related to living in it with kids) but it was our first home.  It was where we first came home as husband and wife.  We put lots of sweat equity into that home, making  many, many mistakes along the way.  We were such young, naive idiots.  Hah.  But it taught us a lot and turned into such a cozy little place for our growing family of four.  Looking back I would do many things differently when it came to decorating and styling the home but that's what this new home is for - a chance to do it all again from the beginning.


Speaking of the beginning.  We closed on the new home in mid-December, right before Christmas - eek - and haven't really done much except unpack the boxes and dream of all this home's potential.  Before I get into what we want it to become, let me share what it looked like on closing day.  Now mind you these are straight from my phone - no editing.  Poor lighting or not you'll get the general idea.

Entry



Kitchen



Living/Dining



Family Room



Laundry Room & Guest Bathroom



Upstairs Hall & Master Bed/Bath



Bedroom #1 (Ella's Room)

(P.S. She is literally peeing on the floor in this photo.  Talk about marking your territory. Oy.)


Bedroom #2 & #3 



Hall Bathroom


For some reason I didn't take photos of the basement or backyard - boo.  So here are some photos of the basement from our inspection when the previous owners were living there.


And a crappy backyard photo taken through the window, which is really a shame since the backyard is what completely sold us on this home.  It is relatively huge compared to most in our town and the perfect space for playing and relaxing.



So there is a little tease of our home for those who have been asking.  I will be back (promise) to share what it looks like now and what we hope to do with it in the future because I have ideas, lots of ideas.  This time around though we want to take it slow an do it right the first time.  For us that means living in this home awhile, seeing what works and what doesn't and most importantly saving up the financial resources we need so we can actually make the updates we are dreaming of.  And can I just say that I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest.  It wasn't around for most of our first home and so we went in struggling with inspiration and a cohesive vision and I love being able to explore my own likes and dislikes through the images on Pinterest.  I am going in with a pretty good idea of the "style and feel" I want to create in this home but at the same time it is a slippery slope of being over exposed to big, expensive and in my case pretty unrealistic spaces.  It's easy to get caught up in the updating and transforming - at least for me.  So while I invite you to stick around and see what we make of this home, I caution you that it won't be Pinterest eye-candy.  Just an every day, midwestern, hopefully cozy and inviting space that isn't too hard on the eyes.  Either way, before and afters are always fun!

Be back soon.....


October 8, 2015

Gnome Mosaic Baby Bonnet

Oh wait....do I still have a blog?
Sorry for the VERY long absence.  I could blame a million different things like life with two under two (although that just changed as my oldest just turned 3) but the truth is I think I was just running out of steam and things to say.   And if I am being completely honest, for the most part, I didn't miss blogging.   It was a nice break but there are some fun things in our future and I feel my creative side stirring and I am ready and excited to share what's ahead.

First on the list, a new baby hat pattern.  It's been a fun summer but I've spent a good portion of it in the car traveling so I've had some time to knit and work on new things.  The first is this super cute gnome mosaic baby hat.  I learned about mosaic knitting this summer and I'm hooked.  Done are my days of stranding and intarsia.....this is the way to do fun patterns and colors.  It looks hard but it is really so easy.  All you need to know is how to knit, purl and slip stitch.  Really, that's it!


This is my new favorite baby hat.  A classic bonnet with a modern twist.


You can find it at my Etsy Shop: Little + Lovely Knits





Thanks to my very adorable baby model Adley, who also happens to be my niece!

February 22, 2015

Two Ingredient Fruit Roll-Ups


This girl loves her sugar.  (I have no idea where she gets it.)
I am always looking for ways I can give her some sweetness without the intense sugar high.  So when I came across a two ingredient fruit roll-up recipe on my aunt's feed I had to try it - immediately.  Seriously, I grabbed Ella and we got right down to making some fruit roll-ups.  


All you need are two ingredients.  

Fruit & Honey (or some other sweetener)

We used strawberries and blueberries with a tablespoon of agave nectar sweetener.  Tossed it in the blender till it was a nice puree and then poured it out on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.  FYI - the parchment paper is kind of necessary.  Set the oven for 225 degrees and bake for 3 hours.  
Yes, 3 HOURS.

One nap and one outfit change later we were enjoying our fruit roll-ups. 


Leaving it on the parchment paper, cut them into strips and roll them up to enjoy now or later.

We chose now.

(Ella has started a new fashion statement - underwear as outerwear.  Yes, she does wear this out of the house.)


The official review:  great flavor but we need to master the texture.  I've heard these referred to as fruit leathers and it makes sense.  These were a tad tough nothing too bad.  Next time I will pour the mixture a little thicker and more even.  Or if I can't get the mixture to pour thicker, I will bake it a little less.  I'm not sure this will be a common go-to snack for us.  They were yummy and a fun change but I have no issue getting Ella to eat fresh fruit so I probably won't go through the effort (although small) to make these very often.

Bottom line:  Fun, tasty and super easy but not a new obsession.  
We will definitely make them again though.  

February 5, 2015

Valentine's Day Card Making With Kids




We've been working on our valentines over here.  Our first photo shoot didn't go too well and entailed a lot of tears and tantrums and a few overzealous moments of love which then resulted in more tears.  Fortunately the second attempt was a little better.




While the kiddos may not have appreciated the photo taking, Ella did love the card decorating.  
She took it VERY seriously.


Or at least it seemed like she was until I saw her notes......


Is it just me or do these look...well...like...boobies?

I apologize in advance to whoever receives these.

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!

January 24, 2015

Entertaining a Toddler Indoors


 We've all been there during the cold winter months - days upon days stuck inside trying to keep our children happy, entertained and busy.  And it can be a hard task that requires energy and creativity when often both those things are severely lacking in our lives.  It can be tempting to turn on Frozen for the one billionth time - just me? - but I've come to realize that that is often just a temporary fix that ends up hurting me more in the long run.  I end up with a whiny, lethargic, mischievous little girl who desperately needs to channel her energy in fun and challenging ways.  Like I said, it's not always easy and takes some prep and planning but I find that these activities energize us all and help us end our days with laughter and smiles.  But I'm only human so we haven't cut out Frozen completely - sometimes that is exactly what is needed - cuddles on the couch.

Here are a few of our go to activities to help us through these winter days.  Most of these probably already exist on Pinterest because it is the best and worst tool a mother can possess containing everything we could ever need to be the most perfectly effortless mothers our children want - hah.  In any case do with these what you want.  (Sorry about the quality of the photos - they are mostly iPhone pics.)

BODY TRACING

This was a favorite in our house for several days.  We have quite the collection of little Ella's that I can not bring myself to throw away.  It was also a very easy activity that required little of my help.  Not that I am trying to get out of playing with my daughter but an activity like this allows me to tackle a household chore or two.

Supplies:  Roll of paper
                 Crayons, markers, etc.

Directions:  Simply roll out a length of paper, have your child lay down and trace him or her.  Then let them have fun coloring it in.  The first time Ella and I did this I spent some time with her going through body parts.  It was a great little anatomy lesson.



Do you like Ella's painted nails?  That was her idea.  She was pretty excited about them.





TREASURE HUNT (with a cooking adventure)

Another favorite of Ella's.  She talks about this one a lot but it isn't as easy or quick so I save it for my most desperate moments when I also have the time to plan ahead.  After the first time though, there are ways to do it quickly and easily.

Supplies:  Paper & Pens 
                 Tape
                 Blankets & Furniture
                 Treasure or Prize

Directions:  While Ella was napping one day I made a little map full of adventures for her to follow so she could find a fun treasure. I also then recreated the map in our home to give her a little help with the imaginative play and get her moving. 


Ella had to jump from stone to stone over the alligator lagoon, crawl through the tunnel in the mountain, ride down the waterfall and so on.





Using painters tape I made stepping stones and I pushed our dining room table over and covered it in blankets for a tunnel.



The stairs to our basement were transformed into a waterfall with a few blue blankets and the wild jungle was filled with Ella's stuffed animals.  She had to walk through them without letting any of them "bite" her.  If she bumped into one that was a bite.  And then X marks the spot.  She had to dig - err sweep - for her treasure.  Of course she thought the legos were the prize and kept holding them up and excitedly shouting, "LEGOS!  Thank you mommy."


The real prize though were gold nuggets in the form of yummy, homemade pretzels.  Pretzels she had helped me make that morning - which leads me to activity #3.


 BAKING OR COOKING TOGETHER

Somedays call for a sweet treat.  And while it is so much easier, faster and cleaner for me to just tackle this on my own during nap time it can be a fun activity to do with your children.  Especially this pretzel recipe: Soft Pretzel Twists


Instead of making twists we made our own shapes and a few nuggets.  I let Ella have her own piece of dough to shape and mold too.  I think she ate most of it though.




POST OFFICE

Ella may have been a little young to fully understand this activity.  I was trying to introduce Ella to the postal system while having her send letters to loved ones.  I tried having her dictate notes to people, which she did - kind of, but I don't think she really understood that they would be able to read them.  She did have fun decorating the letters though and she loved putting the envelopes in the mailbox.  I think I will try again in a few months and see if something clicks.  Next time I am also going to put pre-stamped envelopes in our cards and ask for people to write back to Ella.  She would get a kick out that.  This is also the perfect activity for Valentine's Day which is just around the corner  - the perfect excuse to send some love in the mail.

Supplies:  Envelopes
                 Stamps
                 Paper
                 Things to decorate the letters

Directions:  It's pretty simple, write a letter or draw a picture for a loved one and then help your child address and stamp envelope and put it in the mail.




Ella preferred the stickers and Griffin preferred the crayons.


Then Griffin moved on to email because he is all about efficiency and 
Ella and I carried on with stuffing and decorating our envelopes because we like pretty things.


And then I let Ella drop them into the mailbox for the mailman to give to our loved ones.
Can't wait to do this again with our Valentines!


 INDOOR BOWLING

Kids like a little destruction and a little destruction is good for them.  Just not the kind that destroys your home.  So when you can't send the kids outside to let out those destructive tendencies it is best to create a controlled activity with just enough destruction.  Bowling seems to be the perfect solution for a two year old.

Supplies:  Balls
                 Items to knock down (soda bottles, cups, paper towels, etc.)

Directions:  It's pretty easy.  I collect our various balls from around the house and objects that are tall and skinny and good for knocking over.  Some of our easy favorites are paper towel rolls, plastic or paper cups, 2 liter soda bottles, and cereal boxes.  The larger the pins the larger the ball we use to knock them down.  The smaller the pins the more challenge you give your child.





We are still working on our aim and in the mean time we may resort to using our foot - directly.


Hope this gives you some inspiration and a few ideas to try with your little ones.

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