Don't forget to enter to win! Cricut Explore and Jamberry nails plus a winner!

I've got several giveaways going on.
Don't forget to enter to win!

Follow this link to enter to win Circut Explore 

Jamberry nails are so much fun!
Enter to win a sheet or shop from my catalog party here.

And a winner was chosen for the 10K white gold chandelier earrings from JTV.

Congratulations Jessica Brunk!
Send me an e-mail with your address and I will get these earrings sent out to you!


Bleached bottle brush trees with vintage sheet music base tutorial

 I have been busy this year.
Sometimes even too busy to go to my happy place...
the aisles of a craft store.

I'm super excited that I found a new happy place with Consumer Crafts.
An on-line craft store that lets me shop from the comfort of my home
or while sitting in the bleachers at swim team practice.

You can find the catalog here.

A few weeks ago I showed you how easy it was to shop at Consumer crafts.
Today, I'm going to show you a few of the items that I ordered and how I got crafty with them.

I shared with you my little experiment that I did, trying to bleach my own
"vintage" bottle brush trees.
I learned a few things.
One of those things, was that I needed sisal trees,
and guess what?
I was able to find sisal trees {on sale!} 
and everything else I needed from

Here is what you need to make your own bottle brush trees:
Darice Extra fine glitter in silver and white
vintage music pages

I start with a mix of half water and half bleach and let mu trees soak in the bleach water until they are at the desired color.  The longer they stay in the water, the whiter they become.

Let your trees air dry.

Once your trees are dry,
paint tacky glue in a thin coat onto the branches.

Sprinkle your glitter onto your trees.

The fun part is embellishing your trees.
Use your wooden spools as a base and glue on vintage sheet music and a button,
or skip the spool and glue on a small piece of sheet music to the bottom of the tree.

I placed my trees in an old cloche with some faux snow.

It's a fun quick project for this Christmas!
Know what else is fun?
The chance to win a Cricut Expore machine.
Enter to win!

disclaimer: this is a sponsored post written by me.  All opinions are 100% my own.


What to watch

I am smack dab in the middle of holiday bazaar season.
This means that as I craft I have been running Netflix pretty much anytime I sit down to mindlessly glue gun whatever glittered thing a ma bob I can find.

I love that I have commercial free TV on demand to keep me entertained as I make one more book page wreath or snowman head.

Here's what I have been watching.

I'm hooked.
Ever since I got back from safari in the Masai Mara where this was filmed I can't get enough.
I had only wished I watched this before I went on safari,
but now, it's fun to share it with my family

and with the dog...
she's kind of a big fan too!

Watching Property Brothers makes me want to move out of my nearly new home and find a house to remodel.

And the number one show I have currently been binging on...
drum roll please...

If you want to know what the kids and I will be snuggling to over Thanksgiving break, you better believe we will be streaming the new VeggieTales available today!

So what are you watching?


Elf on the Shelf planning calendar

When Elf on the Shelf hit the stores, my kids were just hitting the cusp of being too old to really enjoy this Christmas tradition.

However, I think it's such a fun tradition and families every where are embracing their Elf.
I actually love seeing my instagram or facebook feed in the mornings in December to see what creative ways my friends and family have moved their Elf.

I know that the hardest part for parents is coming up with new and creative ideas 
{that don't take a lot of time and planning}
for their Elf each day.

I'm pretty sure with my track record with the tooth fairy, the ball would be dropped more than once 
and the Elf wouldn't move, 
or he would move from the shelf, to the tree, from the tree, to the shelf, and get the idea!

For all of you families that have an Elf, I created a little printable calendar for you to use the whole month of December that has ideas that are fairly simple to use each and every day.
You probably have the supplies for most of the items in your home already.

This calendar is just a guide.
Feel free to be as creative as you like.
This calendar is for those days that you get stuck on, 
or if you are like me, you like the tradition, but you don't want to spend hours surfing Pinterest for new ideas for your Elf.
 I'm not pointing any fingers but my guess is more than one of you has a Pinterest board of Elf ideas!
Not judging.
Certainly not judging.
In fact, pin this handy little Elf on the Shelf planner on your Pinterest board now.

To print this planner, right click on it, save it to your documents and print.
For personal use only.

And before you forget, put an alarm on your phone to ring every night just before you head to bed
as a reminder to move your Elf.
Do it now.
You will thank me later. I promise.


Jamberry giveaway and blog party

By now, you have probably heard of Jamberry nails.
It seems like they are popping up everywhere!
I finally tried my first pair at a craft fair a few weeks ago and I really liked them.
In case you hadn't heard or just passed by the booth at the local craft fair and didn't stop,
Jamberry are vinyl nail wraps available in 300 different {amazingly cute!} designs.

My tween daughter has been a fan for a few years and I have even bought her a few wraps
{they make great stocking stuffers}
but until I tried them myself, I wasn't sold.

My nails take a beating!
 Between painting projects and hot glue and washing dishes, no nail polish stands a chance!
But when I do my nails I feel super girly and I usually stare at my hands like a zillion times a day.

 If you follow me on instagram you would have seen my first {mini} Jamberry manicure.
I was prepping for a craft bazaar and had been painting and using my hot glue gun for hours each day, and I was amazed at how well the nail wraps held up.

I've used nail wraps before and love them.
Especially on my toes because they last for a month or more,
but I wasn't convinced that they would stay on my hands.

I got so many compliments on my Jamberry manicure even a week after I had put them on and believe me, they had taken a beating and were still looking pretty darn good.

I'm pretty price savvy, and the sheet of wraps can seem a bit pricey,
but believe me, one sheet isn't just one application.

I have small nails, so I can get at least two applications out of each sheet,
sometimes more if I only want to use one or two as accent nails.

Here's a helpful breakdown to how many uses you can get out of a sheet.

If I were to go to a salon to get my nails done, I would be paying far more,
and the application wouldn't last nearly as long.

I just ordered some Jamberry Juniors for my daughter.
They are the perfect fit if you have little nails or if you are buying for a little girl.
Don't forget to check out the mommy and me collection as well!

Because I share only what I love on my blog,
{it's my blog I can do what I want neener neener}
I thought I would open up a Jamberry catalog party with a giveaway for my readers.

You can plan a mother/daughter date during Christmas break,
get your nails as dolled up as the rest of you on New Year's eve, plan a girlfriends nails and wine night or stuff some stockings.
You can shop here
{don't forget those teachers and girlfriends on your list!}

Enter to win the Winters Edge nail wraps 
{as seen above}

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I know you will love Jamberry as much as my daughter and I do.
Happy shopping!

Natural granite cleaner

Natural granite cleaner

About seven years ago, my husband and I upgraded the old countertops in the kitchen in our first house from large stone tiles to slab granite.
It was a change that I had been wanting to do for years and we were so happy with the result!

It's sort of funny, that the exact same granite we picked at our old house, is the same granite that the builders and previous homeowners selected for our new house.

I cook nearly every meal at home, and I love having a functional kitchen that makes it easier to prepare and cook our meals. 

In fact, the kitchen is one of the most used spaces in our home {especially with three kids in the house, one of which is a teenager!}, so it gets not only a lot of use, but it sees it's fair share of messes!

I am determined to send my kids off into the world knowing how to cook and prepare food for themselves, but that learning process isn't for the faint of heart!

We've had our fair share of eggshells in the dough and more flour on the countertop than in the bowl!  But they are learning.

I've watched enough house hunting shows and read enough entertaining magazines to know that most parties and events usually occur {or end up} with people gathering in the kitchen.

The holidays are just around the corner and I know we will be entertaining, but I'm always looking for easy ways to go from messy to festive in a matter of minutes.

Even though I may have been cooking all day, I don't want my kitchen to look like I don't know how to clean my house! And I don't want to sweat it when my kids are practicing their cooking skills and making messes food.

One of the things I learned when I was a newbie granite countertop owner is that not all cleaners are acceptable for stone surfaces. I don't want to be using harsh chemicals that will scratch my surfaces or remove the protective coating.

I buy a spray bottle at the dollar store, fill it halfway with vinegar and halfway with water and a few drops of essential oils.

All you need to do is spray it down and wipe it off.

Your stone surfaces will go from messy to gleaming! You can even see the shiny reflection and I didn't even have to scrub or polish!


Accessorize plus a giveaway

For years when my kids were little, I wore nothing but my diamond stud earrings that my husband got me as an anniversary present.
Babies would be pulling on my earrings, and quite honestly, I didn't have enough time to hem and haw over what accessories to wear when I barely had enough time to shower!

My kids are older now, and it's been hard to break out of the rut of not making time to accessorize.
I love earrings and bracelets and necklaces, I just don't have a lot of them.

Recently, JTV gave me the opportunity to select a piece of jewelry that I loved.
Any piece.
It was hard to pick because there were so many great pieces.

I loved this cabochon cuff bracelet.
Partly because it's sapphire blue like my birthstone.
I was also a big fan of this link bracelet.
Since I'm breaking into this accessory wearing thing, I gravitate to things that are versatile
and this looks like you could wear with with so many things.
I'm always looking for simple yet classy earrings.
That color!

Talk about making a statement with this orange jasper ring.

And while we are talking statements, 
this bib necklace could take a little black dress up a notch.

If you love vintage like me, you will love the Titanic collection.
Holy cow!  I think I want one of everything.

While there were so many things that enticed me, I finally settled on these 10k yellow gold chandelier earrings.

I love the sweet simplicity of them and in my wardrobe versatility is key, and they hit the mark!

JTV was nice enough to not only give me a pair of 10K yellow gold Filigree Chandelier earrings, but they sent me a pair that I could share as well!
I know you will love them as much as I do!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To see some of my other favorite accessories, you can follow my Pinterest board.


Skip the family photos on the train tracks, the lesson that we learned.

It's nearly holiday card time, which means, it's also time for your family to be heading out and posing for family pictures.
Several years ago our family had a close call while trying to get some photos on train tracks.
I was reminded of how close we came to tragedy when I watched a 20/20 show on Sarah Jones.
Sarah Jones was a 27 year old film crew member that died earlier this year while filming a movie on train tracks in South Carolina.
I thought that it was worth sharing our story again, in the hopes that other families would heed the warning.
This is the story from my blog post on October 27, 2011.

Lesson learned: Don't play on the train tracks.

For the past few months, I have been pinning family photos for a recent family photo shoot with local photographer Kris Allan.

We've done the beach pictures before and I wanted to try something different. I fell in love with these pictures taken on train tracks. I'm not sure what it is. Maybe it's the vintage feel of a railroad or the cool industrial aspects or the rugged patina of the equipment, regardless, I knew I wanted to take some pictures on some train tracks.

 And why not? Train tracks are everywhere around here since our area has one of the largest container ports in North America. I thought I did my homework by checking the train schedule of the local train station we were using on a Sunday afternoon. To the best of my knowledge, the train station was closed on the weekends. However, we later found out that just because the station is closed, it does not mean that the tracks are closed to all through traffic.

 My husband, Mr. Safety, even thought that if a train was coming through town, it by law had to slow down to 30-40 mph as it passed. Slow enough that we would have enough time to react and move if a train was coming. We quickly learned that we were both wrong. We had a fun photo session on the tracks by the station, blissfully ignorant of any harm that may come our way in the form of a speeding train. The kids ran up and down the tracks, as a family we precariously balanced on the rails and we even set up vintage suitcases as props to sit on.

 We finished taking pictures at that particular area and moved on to another location. While I love all things vintage, I also love anything brick and old. We found a brick building near the train tracks that was the perfect backdrop for individual pictures of the kids.

 While Aidan was busy getting his picture taken, Owen our eternal curious daredevil found his way past the guardrail and up on the train tracks again. Owen is only 6 and he loves to look at how things work and how things are made. He was peeking around at the bolts in the rails as I tried to watch him and his older brother getting pictures taken and watch for cars on the small alley way road that ran between the tracks and the building.

 I had just told Owen that I was thinking he should be getting down from the tracks and was starting to rethink the idea of him being on the tracks even if the trains weren't working on the weekends.

Just as he was slowly starting to make his way off the tracks a man with a large dog walked over and approached us. He asked if that was my son and told me that he needed to get off of the tracks. The man told us he worked for the train and was in charge of that stretch of track and told us that as we spoke a train was heading our way.

 We looked down the track and saw a headlight about a mile down the very same track that my son had just been balancing on. The railroad crossing arms were just then starting to ding and come down to close that portion of the road off. He told us that the train was coming at around 70 mph and that just two days earlier there had been a fatality on these very tracks.

 In our ignorance, we thought that there would surely be a sign that a train was coming. The tracks would start to shake, the horn would blare, we would hear that little chug chug chugging down the way, but the reality was there was none of that.

We heard nothing until the train was blasting past us mere feet away. We thanked the man and he walked away. It didn't sink in until later that evening (1:15 am to be exact as I tossed and turned and was unable to sleep or think about anything else) how dangerous the whole situation really was.

As a parent, my job is to make good choices for my family. To protect my children and to set a good example for them. I did none of these things all in an attempt to get a good family picture. I realized later that the man who came wandering down with his dog was nothing short of an angel sent from God as a protection for my family.

That the situation on the train tracks could have ended so much differently. That our family could have been changed forever because of my selfish nature. I'm using this situation as a learning experience. I've apologized to the kids for my poor choices and lack of judgement and I am making sure that through our experience that someone else may become more aware to the dangers of the rails. A picture isn't worth it. Your family is.

Craft store shopping on-line. You can thank me later.

I am busy this year!
Like busier than I have ever been-busy.
For the first time in 16 years, I have started working outside of the house as a substitute teacher,
I am trying to keep up with my blog, my family and my household, and wow, it's a lot!
Instead of getting rid of activities in my life, I seem to just be adding them, 
so something has to give.

I'm finding less and less time to run to the store, 
so shopping on-line has become really convenient for me.
I am preparing for two upcoming craft bazaars and it seems like there is always some item I'm missing from my stash at home.

I recently found

The prices are cheap and they have everything my local craft stores have, except at a discount.
Plus, I can order during my lunch hour and have it come to my door just a few days later.

Last week, I showed you my little vintage bottle brush tree experiment.
In order for you to be able to bleach the trees, they have to be made of sisal.
I found a pack of 4 for .77 at Consumer Crafts.
I ordered a few for my holiday decorating.

Want to know what else I picked up?
I got this Mod Podge photo transfer medium, 
Not only is it a great price, check out that little play button underneath the product.

That my friend, is a video tutorial on how to use the product and several ideas on projects that you can make.
Where has this site been all my life?!

Because I can't keep anything a secret,
{especially something I love,} 
you should probably take your pretty little self on over and check out this amazing site for yourself.
{feel free to shop in your pajamas}
I know you can find something you need.

You can use this link to find the catalog.

You can thank me later!
disclaimer: this is a sponsored post but all opinions are 100% my own.  I promise I wouldn't tell you about something I didn't love.

November memory verse-free printable

It's that time of the month again.
Time for another free printable memory verse.
Our family has been memorizing scripture every month for several years.

This month we are focusing on being thankful, 
and what better way than to memorize a verse about giving thanks.

You are welcome to save this verse and use it for your family.
Simply right click on it, save the item on your desktop and print.
Personal use only please.


A quick trip to the windy city

 This week I had the opportunity to travel with my husband to Chicago.
A city that I grew up near and visited often as a child,
but that I haven't been to in over a decade.

This guy had a work convention and when I heard that it was in Chicago, 
I asked if I could join him.
Thankfully, the in-laws were happy to watch the kids and we made arrangements to fly out together for a quick trip.

When I was a kid, I used to travel with my dad quite often for work.
It's a great way to be able to see the country {or the world}
 since the hotel and travel expenses for your spouse or loved one are already taken care of.
We used our credit cards separately
{him with a work credit card, and me with our personal card}
and while I was on my own most of the day, we did have evenings that we could spend together.

We didn't want to miss a second in the city, 
so we put on our coats and headed out into the city after we checked into our hotel.
Chicago has some amazing architecture.

We missed most of the excitement because of a late flight, 
but the city was still on fire about the Nik Wellenda tightrope walk.
We caught evidence of it on our walk around the city.
That bright light is the anchor and base point for one end of the tightrope.

The bean sculpture in Millennium park wasn't a part of the city on my previous visits,
so we made sure to stop on this trip.
It gives off some amazing reflections of the city.
Especially at night.

Our morning started early with a 5 mile run along the lakefront.

Running in a new city {or one I'm visiting}
is one of my favorite things to do.

We made it back to the hotel, showered and headed our separate ways.
We didn't have a car, so we were thankful for a hotel located in the heart of downtown.

I ducked into this centuries old church on Michigan Ave.
The pews were lined with homeless men and women, but it felt like just what a church should be.
It was open and welcoming.
The hallways were filled with art from their developmentally disabled adults and I was impressed by the community that I felt just by walking inside.

 My all time favorite store in Chicago was All Saints.
We walked past it on Sunday night after the store was closed and I was drawn in by the hundreds of vintage sewing machines they had in their display window.

Walking inside did not disappoint either!

Even the clothing displays were large pieces of vintage industrial manufacturing equipment.
And did I mention that the clothes were amazing?!
A bit out of my price range, but it was fun to look and dream.

I hear there's an All Saints store in Seattle.
I'm going to have to check it out.

My tween daughter is a budding fashion designer so I knew she would love these candy dress displays.
If you look closely, the clothing is made of candy and wrappers.
Pretty awesome aren't they!

The weather was in the low 60's on Monday so I thought I would take advantage of it by taking an architectural boat tour of the city.
It didn't disappoint!

I had no idea that Chicago had a locks system.

The boat tour offered some fantastic picture opportunities of the city.

They don't call it the windy city for nothing!

I spent a lot of time shopping while in Chicago.
However, with prices like these, I didn't spend a lot of time buying!

I got lost {and loved it}
in Ralph Lauren.
I felt like I was wandering around a countryside estate in England.
And while I think it's quite early to be decorating for Christmas, 
I loved seeing all of the Christmas displays in the city.

Think they would notice if I hosted my next dinner party in their shop?

Or perhaps I will grab a glass of wine and a book and sit by the fire.

Right next door to Ralph Lauren was Anthropologie.
It's such a different design vibe, but I could embrace either one.

Anthro is all ready for Christmas!

My hubs spent the day working, while I spent the day playing, 
so when I dragged him into Antro that day 
{my second visit his first}
he was happy to sit and wait for me on this couch.
I found him sleeping when I returned.

I simply adored the dressing rooms!

The best part of the trip, by far was being able to catch up with some of my sorority sisters.
Some of them work in the city, most live hours outside of the city,
all of us have kids 
{19 of them between the 7 of us!}
so it was so nice that they made the time to drive in or be away from their families so that we could reconnect.

We stayed at the Park Hyatt in Chicago and it was gorgeous!
I loved the succulent arrangements around the hotel.
It's a shame I can't seem to keep mine alive!

We had a fabulous view of the city from our 16th floor window.
I had the best hot chocolate each morning from Leonidas.

Mike had to hit the city for work early, so I was on my own.
I decided that instead of running on the lake front that I would borrow one of the hotel bikes and ride it instead.
It was a fantastic ride!

I started off at my hotel, went past Northwestern University,
down by Navy Pier and continued south through the city.

I ended my ride past Soldier field and decided to head back.

I rode back up by Millennium park so that I could see it in the daylight.

And then I took the lakefront path back to the hotel.
Passing the most gorgeous fire department ever.

I soaked in the tub in our room for a bit before hitting the shops again!

One of the must have stops in Chicago is to Garrett popcorn.
I got the Garrett blend of cheddar cheese and caramel corn.
An interesting mix for sure.

And then like that, our trip was over and we hopped on the L train 
and went back to the airport to go home.

Thanks for the great visit Chicago!
Until next time!
Powered by Blogger.