A back to school guide for the teenage (and college) years

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Schick®. The opinions and text are all mine.

The start of this school year is a little bittersweet for me.  It will be the last year when I have all three of my kids at home starting school together.  

It's hard to believe this sweet boy who started Kindergarten with a teddy bear, will be starting his senior year.  We have been researching colleges and talking about future plans a lot, but it still doesn't feel like this little guy-my little guy-should be heading off into his final year of high school and preparing for college in less than a year!

When my kids were in elementary school we would receive a supply list from their school with everything they needed listed from glue sticks to markers on it. I would purchase the items and cross each one off as I got it filling a bag with their school supplies that would get unloaded on back to school night. Now that I have two teenagers the back to school shopping has changed a little bit.
Instead of crayons we are picking up disposable razors, instead of safety scissors we are stocking up on deodorant.  Back to school shopping is different from those elementary school days, which is why I have put together a little back to school shopping guide for the teenager years.  


Garage Sale Friday roundup of my best kept secrets! Edition 75

The summer is winding down, but our schedules seem to be amping up.  Especially on the weekends. We are doing our best to squeeze every last bit of fun out of our summer which means less time is being spent at garage sales. I've been traveling the last two weekends, which means no garage sale finds Friday from me.  I've bought zippo, nada, nothing the past few weeks but I'm dying to get back out to the sales for sure!

In the meantime, I thought I would revisit a few of my past garage sale tip posts {how to drive traffic to your garage sale, tips for the garage sale first timer, and how to negotiate the best deal} just in case you missed them.   


Top 5 reasons why you should volunteer as a family and ideas on where to start

There's a quote that I heard when I was early on in this parenting gig that says "more is caught than taught" and I think that is true of so many things. Most importantly, I think being a good example for our kids when it comes to how we spend our time is a great model to our children of what is most important to us.

We all have the same amount of time in a day.  The most important decision you make is what you choose to do with your time.

My husband and I think it's so very important to model and engage our children in volunteering in our community and here are five reasons why and some tips on how you can get your whole family involved in helping in the community.


Anything but basic {but oh so easy!} turkey cranberry and swiss panini

We have a few more weeks to soak up every last bit of summer and then the long warm days are going to start to be filled with short crisp falls afternoons, homework and, oh yes, a return to the classroom.

I started substitute teaching last year in my kids school district and I love it.  But that means, not only am I packing the kids lunches, I am usually packing mine as well!  I do live fairly close to the school so some afternoons I come home, let the dog out and eat lunch in silence.  Regardless, I need to start thinking of some back to school lunch ideas for myself.

Not one to procrastinate, I wanted to start coming up with some yummy sandwich ideas that I could pack for lunch before life got overwhelmingly busy again!  I whipped up this anything but basic {but oh so easy!} turkey, cranberry and swiss panini.  I can make it in less than 5 minutes and either reheat it at school, or enjoy it warm and toasty straight from my panini maker at home.


Three different ways to create the perfect pair of jeans. Tutorial on how to make skinny jeans, dye your jeans and hem jeans with the original hem

Jeans are a staple in my kids wardrobe {as well as mine!} so finding the right pair is important.
Getting the right color of dye for a jean is of utmost importance.  
The skinny jean has to be just skinny enough, but not too skinny {and no saggy knees}.
The jeans have to be long enough to cover the back of the shoe, but not too long that they puddle.
So do you see where we are getting with this?
I have found over the years, several tips and tricks to CREATING the perfect pair of jeans.
Most of the time I'm working with garage sale finds that we have on hand in drawers, or future donated goodwill items that the kids have turned their noses up to. I've got three different methods even the most novice seamstress can tackle!

Garage Sale Finds Friday Edition 74

Welcome back to another week of garage sale finds Friday, where I share with you my favorite garage sale finds from the week. 

This week, I got some pretty great authentic vintage items. I even got some pretty great deals on those vintage items too. 


Craft Room Organization

I know I'm not the only one that has craft supplies tucked into whatever nook and cranny I can find.  I have a hall closet with craft paper, a dresser full of my Silhouette supplies, a room with fabric and sewing notions...and well, I'm going to stop there because the more I talk about it, the more I realize I really need to get myself a little more organized! Thankfully, Bonnie from The Joyful Organizer is here to help give us some tips.

Just about everyone does one craft or another.  Knitting, scrapbooking, card making… What’s the one thing they all have in common?  They can easily take over our living space with their various tools, supplies, and materials.  Keeping your craft supplies in order not only helps maintain your sanity and the appearance of your home, it also helps keep your materials in good working order.  In addition, it allows you to sit down and complete a project without having to dig out first.  The best part is getting your craft area organized doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money.

Keep reading for some quick and easy tips and tricks to help you maintain order wherever you complete your craft projects.


Pineapple Pencil Pouch Tutorial made with Duck Tape

Duct Tape Pineapple Pencil Pouch Tutorial

Duck Tape is by far my favorite back to school supply. I use it for everything! I update boring supplies I make one of a kind lunch bags and tote bags out of it, and I used it for making this fun pineapple pencil pouch for my daughter.


Garage Sale Finds Friday-the week I find rusty vintage stuff Edition 73

Welcome to another week of garage sale finds Friday, where I share with you my favorite garage sale finds. 
This week I am squealing at some of the most amazing vintage finds in some time. You guys are going to be jealous and want to all garage sale in my neighborhood when you see them.

Mom approved snack at the beach

We have had one of the most gorgeous summers this year in the Seattle area. We are breaking heat records left and right and it's shocking how little rain we have had this year.

This is a huge shift from our normally very mild weather.  The folks in the Pacific Northwest like it best when it's overcast and in the 60's. Not me...I love the sun, but the sun brings the heat and since only around 1% of the homes in our area have air conditioning {ours not being one of them!}, we all escape to the water when it gets hot. Because when it gets hot, with no air conditioning it's sort of unbearable.

No one likes to be cranky, so we do our best to cool down. Sometimes that means a jump in the Puget Sound, other times that means snacking on a Fruttare® frozen fruit bar...or both!


Easy to make sand dollar necklace and earrings

My favorite beach has been nicknamed sand dollar beach by my kids and I because during low tide, you literally can not walk without hearing the crunch of sand dollars underneath your feet. 

I know for most of you, it's a treasure to find a sand dollar if you are on a beach.  It used to be the same way for me too.  I remember spending the summers on Kiawah Island, South Carolina. We would dig up sand dollars with our toes while we were splashing in the waves. 

Once I discovered my favorite beach, sand dollars are easy to come by for me.  My kids love having contests to see who can find the smallest sand dollar. One time, my daughter found a sand dollar that was smaller than an eraser on a pencil!

We happened to be at my favorite beach last week, and my daughter and I started combing the beach for smaller sized sand dollars and we started dreaming up ideas of things we could do with them.

Making jewelry was the first thing both of us thought of. So today, I'm going to show you how we made a necklace and earrings with sand dollars from my favorite beach.


How to buy second hand clothing for your whole family

How to buy second hand clothing for your whole family

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by OxiClean through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about OxiClean Stain, all opinions are my own.

Most people are surprised that our family gets more than 90% of our clothing from garage sales or thrift shops. I've always been a thrifty shopper and that hasn't changed with age.  In fact, our lifestyle is dependent on it!  But just because I buy someone else's cast off's, doesn't mean that I have to look like I'm wearing used clothing.  

I've been buying used for our family since before my oldest was born. I have a whole slew of tips and tricks for you to help you take baby steps into saving money on your whole family’s wardrobe.



Garage Sale Finds Friday-the one where I steal furniture...sort of. Edition 72

Welcome back to another week of garage sale finds Friday, where I share with you my favorite garage sale finds from the week.

This week, I did some thrifty redecorating.  I have the hardest time decorating because I put these imaginary budget constraints on myself and unless I can find something at a garage sale, usually nothing fits in that budget.  

I've spent the past nine months thinking about a neutral chair for our living room, but I haven't been able to find one.  I really felt like something needed to flank the fireplace. Well, I finally found something.  And you won't believe how much I paid for the corner room redo!


20 of the best books that will encourage your elementary age kids to become readers

The days are ticking by. There is a countdown going. We have barely a month to squeeze every bit of fun out of this summer that we can. In no time, the kids will be heading back to school and I will start substitute teaching again.

Last year, I started subbing at the kids schools and I really enjoyed it. One of my favorite parts of being in the classroom is reading. I love reading and have since I was quite young. I love being able to encourage that love of reading in the kids that I work with.
Part of being able to do that, is knowing what books are kids favorites. Having success with a good book usually encourages that kiddo to seek out more books and that my friends, is how you get a kid to develop a love of reading.  Kids also love series. If they read one book by an author and love it, chances are, they will read everything by that author.
I have created a list of the top 20 favorite books for the kids that I work with the most...elementary aged children.  I promise you, these books are kid approved and are sure to become favorites of your children.

Transformation Tuesday painting a desk with metallic paint

Welcome back to another transformation Tuesday! I'm so excited to share with you my latest garage sale find from Friday that has been transformed!

I know I'm not the only one who loves painted furniture. Honey oak anything had it's place and now it's time for paint to save the day.

I had a chance to sample the metallic paint line from Modern Masters and was drawn to Pewter. There are some amazing metallics to choose from, but silver has my heart.

Bet you can't guess which item from my garage sale finds Friday I chose to paint metallic.


The best toothbrush and mouthwash if you have Invisalign...or if you don't.

The Best Toothbrush and Mouthwash if you have Invisalign

My toothbrush and I have gotten really close the past few months. 

In February, I got braces for the first time. Adult braces. Invisalign to be exact. I never needed braces as a kid, or at least that's what the dentist told my mom, but as I got older, it seemed like my teeth kept shifting. My kids are all in orthodontic treatment or have been at one point or another in the past five years. I've spent a lot of time at the ortho, which is probably why I finally decided to get a consult for myself.
Long story short, I settled on Invisalign.  If you aren't familiar with Invisalign, you can read this post
Just a quick fill-in though, Invisalign are clear aligner trays that you wear for two weeks at a time. They fit almost like a mouth guard over your teeth.  You can pop them off when you eat or drink so that you don't have any food restrictions. 
I've had people tell me that they didn't know I was wearing braces at all, so they are sort of clear{ish} or my friends are not the most observant.  You choose.
Either way, because I have something covering my teeth, I find that it's less scuzzy to brush my pearly whites as much as possible after I eat or drink and before I put the aligners back in again.  I like to eat a lot, so I find that I'm brushing my teeth.  A lot.
I've found a new awesome product that I love and it would be awesome whether or not you are wearing adult braces.  Because who doesn't want fresh breath and non-scuzzy teeth?

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