Week(s) in Review: October 1-15

It’s been for-stinking-ever since I’ve done a week in review, so long, in fact, that I don’t even think I ever shared Susannah’s birthday party or our summer road trip and maybe not even the big family reunion this past spring. (?)  I obviously have some catching up to do, but for now I’ll just share a couple things we’ve been up to for the last few weeks.

School is trucking right along and I don’t think I’ve even taken photos to document the start of new grades this year. Bad mom!

Some highlights:

Susannah’s learning division and loving it, Madeline is all-around causing me to rapidly age because of her utter lack of interest in ANY subject and her closely-held belief that she’s just “too small” to do well in school. She has decided reading is worthwhile, though, helped along greatly by the Pizza Hut Book It program and the Braums reward program. Still, I count that as quite a victory from last year.  We’re studying American history this year and I’m putting my own curriculum together, which is working very well for us so far and has been pretty fun. Here are a few of the drawings we’ve done to go along with our studies so far:


We try to go camping in October or November every year since *usually* the hot weather is calmed down to something manageable. I agree to one night per year. 😉 And obviously it wasn’t cooled off quite enough yet since we saw snakes…

Mad fell in right after I took this photo and gave us small heart attacks because the water is pretty deep right off the bank. Thanks a lot, kid.



I finally, finally, FINALLY made some progress on the quilt-a-long project that already ended months ago, but that I’m determined to finish NO MATTER HOW LONG IT TAKES ME. It’s utterly ridiculous to me that I couldn’t keep up with one block per month, right? Bad seamstress! Anyway, something went wrong on this block (not sure what exactly), but I’m so elated to have finished a few, that I don’t even care. (In my defense, I did try to fix it, but couldn’t figure out how.)


I saw this adorable woodland creature pumpkin idea here and knew we had to try it out for ourselves. I love pumpkins and we try something new every year. The girls loved making these little cuties.

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So that about covers it, I think. Okay, probably not really, but that’s all I have ready for now, so it’ll have to do. I do hope to catch up on some of what’s been occupying our time very soon.

Your turn! What have yall been up to lately?


Getting Organized: Give, Save, and Spend Kids Money Jars

I wrote this post as part of a paid campaign with Brother and Blueprint Social. As always, all opinions are my own.

Did you know the January is National Get Organized Month? One of the reasons I love jumping into a new year is all of the list-making, goal-setting, and organizing that happens.  All of these things make me happy.  Yes, I know I’m a nerd.  Today I’m going to share my favorite organizational tips, a tutorial for helping kids organize money, and a giveaway.  Awesome, right?


Every year in January I get bit by the organizational bug.  I think it’s a combination of being stuck inside the house and the post-holiday clutter, but I generally do most of my organizing right at the beginning of the year.  My top five organizing tips are:

  • Have a plan.  Gather supplies first (lists, boxes for purging, etc.) so you can get right to it once you start.
  • Tackle one space/room at a time.  I’ve attempted to do the whole house all at once and it’s overwhelming, messy, and discouraging. Better to pick one space and concentrate your efforts there before moving to the next.
  • Purge as you sort and organize.  Have separate, clearly labeled boxes for trash, donations/items to sell, and items you want to store.  Be as ruthless as possible, especially if the items haven’t been used in a long time (or ever).
  • Clean as you go.  If you have a shelf cleared, clean it before putting items back. Vacuum out those corners you haven’t seen since last January. 😉
  • Once the organization is complete, immediately deal with the boxes of items you’ve purged.  You don’t want that stuff to find it’s way back to their shelves/closets/drawers.

One of my goals this year is to teach my kids a little about money managing. They have regular chores that they’re required to do daily, but I wanted to give them a chance to earn some money by doing additional work around the house.  My hope is that they’ll start to understand a little about the value of money and hard work, as well as why it’s important to save and give some of what they earn.

I started by writing down some small jobs along with an amount I’ll pay on large craft sticks.  We keep these in a jar and they can pull one whenever they have free time and want to earn a little cash. Then at the end of the week we pay them whatever they’ve accumulated (I haven’t yet, but will be making a spreadsheet to keep track of what jobs they’ve done each week.)

PicMonkey Collage

This system has been in place for a few weeks, but now that they’re getting paid, I needed something to help them divide their earnings into three categories: save, give, and spend.


  • 3 mason jars (per kid)
  • Embellishments (optional) – I used lace and fabric flowers
  • Glue gun
  • Brother P-Touch label maker


I wanted these jars to be both functional and pretty for my fancy girls, so I added some embellishment by securing lace and flowers with the glue gun.


Then I broke out my new Brother P-Touch Label Maker to make the labels.  This thing is awesome; you can pick from a variety of fonts, sizes, symbols, and even frames to customize how you like. Just insert the cartridge and batteries, type your word in, and hit print.

IMG_2419  I had a lot of playing around with fonts and borders, but settled on simple so the girls would have no trouble reading their labels.



The girls love their new jars and I love that they’re learning that money has to be earned (and is more than for just spending).


To help your own organizational efforts out, Brother is giving away a P-Touch label maker every day in January as well as a Grand Prize pack worth up to $2000! Go here to enter!

For more inspiration on how the Brother P-Touch Label Maker can help you get organized, check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.  And as a bonus, you can check out these other organization projects created by some amazing bloggers:

Check out more great ways to get organized with a Brother P-Touch.

Linking up to: Flamingo Toes

Family Initial Birch Ornament

I try to make an ornament or two every year to add to our tree, but since I’ve been a total grinch this holiday season  when it came to decorating(we’re lucky the tree made it up…nothing else did), I hadn’t planned on anything.  After a pretty spectacular fail on the sewing front today – Christmas outfits for the girls are NOT happening, apparently – I decided I should at least make an attempt at an ornament.  I don’t want to be a total failure, yall.

I found some birch slices that I picked up a few months ago (totally obsessed with all things birch, you guys) and settled on a super-simple plan: our family initial.  It doesn’t get much easier than one letter.

I didn’t want to cover up much of the natural beauty of the birch wood, so I dug out some black ink and a letter stamp and applied it directly to the wood.

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I thought about drilling an eye hook into the top of the slice but was too lazy to go find the drill (grinch, remember?), so I substitued hot glue and twine.

birch ornament 1

It took me all of five minutes and I really like it.  Birch wood is pretty much fail-proof in my eyes, though.  If only I could have motivated myself to make a few more…

Birch ornament

I actually have another ornament I’d like to make with the girls tomorrow, so maybe this years ornament additions won’t be a total bust.  Fingers crossed.



Week(s) in Review: November 9-22

Man, where does the time go? I swear, I blink and another week has gone by.  This year is just OVER, people.  No really, by the time I hit publish, it probably will be!)

Here’s what we’ve been doing with our time:

Making edible oasis during our studies of the Arabian Penninsula (also, reading about Sinbad – the girls love his stories).

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Since mom and dad have been in and out this past week we stuck to science, history, and reading, along with some practical stuff like baking a welcome cake and getting guest rooms ready.  Hey – that’s something we need to learn too, right?  We studies fossils and attempted to make a few of our own.

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We went to New Orleans last weekend, which I’ve already shared about here in case you missed it.

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We are recording our daily gratitude with our version of a thankful tree. Please excuse the extremely poor lighting in these photos. (We are using these tags, courtesy of Jones Design Company.) photo (16) photo 1


My parents are in town for a visit, but I have no photos yet.  Sad!

Susannah got her first letter from her new pen pal and is beyond thrilled to make a new friend. It makes my heart happy to think of my girl and Amber’s girl getting to know each other. If life was fair we would all live close by each other.

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Finally, I had hoped to share a separate review of my November Ipsy bag, but I need to face the fact that it just isn’t going to happen this month.  The next week is going to be full of family and food and thanksgiving and I want to enjoy every moment.

Here’s what I received this month:

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I haven’t even had a chance to try everything yet, but I already know that by far and away my favorite products are the under-eye concealer (works awesomely well!) and the eye base.  I’m not a fan of all the lip products I keep receiving but I will be sure to try them all out in case I don’t know what I’m missing out on.  And the hairspray I may or may not use, but was happy to receive because I was considering buying a small can to have on hand anyway.  The Temptu highlighter I’m just not really sure what to do with.  Anybody have any tips to share?

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!



Trying New Things: Day 21


Day 21: DIY Eyeshadow Primer

You guys, I’m pretty stoked about this one.  A few years ago my sister gave me an Urban Decay primer and I fell in love with it.  But not so much with the price tag.  When my tube started getting low I started scoping out the price of replacing it and just couldn’t convince myself to lay down $20+ for a shadow primer.  So when I saw this post about making my own knock-off version I knew I had to give it a try.

This would have been uber-affordable if I ever used foundation, but since I don’t I had to purchase some, which drove my cost up a little.  I decided to give it a try with the cheapest stuff I could find first and get some more expensive stuff if that didn’t work out.

All you need to make your own is: photo 2 (4)

  • 1/2 tsp chapstick (I couldn’t find the all-natural stuff that the original post recommended, but the original worked fine for me)
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp liquid foundation
  • small container or jar

Run the chapstick under hot water for a minute to soften it up, then mix everything together until it’s smooth.

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I’ve used this several times now and have been very pleased with the results. To be totally honest, it seems to work just as well as the Urban Decay, and for a much-easier-to-handle price tag.  Yay for knockoffs!

What DIY beauty products have you tried?  Would you try this or just stick with the name brand stuff?

New to my 31 Day Blogging Challenge?  You can catch up on all the posts here.



Trying New Things: Day 9


Day 9: Make my own floor cleaner

This is another one of those things that I keep saying I’ll get around to, and then just end up buying Swiffer refills over and over.  I adore my new darker flooring, but good grief, does it ever show the dirt. We have to sweep multiple times a day to keep it looking decent. (Thankfully I have plenty of child labor available.)
Since I only own a Swiffer mop I still ended up using one of the wet wipes, but I was able to do my entire house without changing it out.  I was pretty impressed with the results of this formula, although the kids ran through while the floor was wet so I have a ton of footprints showing up.  Such is life with kids, though.

DIY Floor Cleaner INgredient List

DIY Floor Cleaner
(modified from this recipe)

1 Gallon of hot water
1/4 cup washing powder
1 TBSP dish soap
1/3 cup white vinegar

DIY Floor Cleaner


Once everything has dissolved, go for it.  It left my house smelling really nice, too.

DIY Floor Cleaner 1


New to my 31 Day Blogging Challenge?  You can catch up on all the posts here.


Trying New Things: Day 7


Day 7: Metal Stamping

So almost a year ago Jerm gave me a metal stamping kit for Christmas because I was just DYING to try my hand and stamped jewelry.  Fast forward to ten months later, and I still haven’t tried it even once.  Lame.  (How 90’s is that word?)

I’m determined to stop hoarding craft supplies just for the sake of having them; if I don’t use something I’m going to purge it.  (Well, eventually.)  And so, since I don’t want to get rid of my awesome stamps I decided I’d better break out the metal and get to work.

Seriously, this was so much easier than I thought it would be.  The ImpressArt people definitely know what they’re doing, because using their stamps was a breeze.

metal stamping supplies

Supply List:
Metal Stamps (I have the Bridgette set from ImpressArt)
Metal Jewelers Block
Masking Tape
Metal Blanks
Sharpie Marker

Tape your blank down to keep it from slipping, decide on your word and placement, then hold your stamp steady while you strike it with your hammer.

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After you have your design stamped, go over the entire thing with a sharpie marker, making sure to get in all the crevices.  Then just wipe it down with rubbing alcohol (I was out, so I used hand sanitizer, which worked just fine).  The marker will wipe off of the surface, but help bring out the detail of the letters.

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It seemed a little plain to me, so I added a few little hearts to the center.

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I really love the design stamps that ImpressArt offers, especially the family ones.  (This is not a sponsored post, I just really like their products!)

metal stamping 7

I think now that I’ve tried this out, I’m going to be digging out my stamps a lot more often, especially since I have a ton of blanks to experiment with. I’ve never really dabbled in jewelry-making I’m going to have to buy a few supplies to finish these up and get them on a chain, but overall I’m pretty happy with this experiment.

Do you have any experience with metal stamping?  Personalized jewelry is super popular right now!

New to my 31 Day Blogging Challenge?  You can catch up on all the posts here.