Top Blog Posts of 2017

It's hard to believe that another year has come and gone. It's always fun for me to look back and see what my top posts were for the year. Many of the most popular posts were actually posts from previous years. All you readers that haven't been around since 2010 are finding some of that golden content that only my mom read. So while not all of these posts will be from this past year, they are the ones that you all visited the most this past year. I hope you have as much fun looking back as I did putting this together.


My Love Hate Relationship with Social Media as a Mom of Teens

I started blogging in 2005 as a way to share our growing family with our out-of-state family and friends. I didn't think twice about pictures that I shared {as long as I didn't look bad in them they were fair game} and over time social media started to evolve. I could more easily share images on more platforms. The older my kids get though, the more eye rolls I receive when I whip out my camera, which now so conveniently fits in my back pocket and is always with me because it does double duty as my brain. They have started to care what I share about them on social media which means less and less of my kids showing up in my feed. My love/hate relationship with social media started long before the grumbles though. Those eyes that roll now were watching and taking mental notes about how I used my time on social media.  I kind of felt like as parents we were stepping into the Wild West. There were no rules. There was no research on how social media affected kids and so we winged it as best as we could as parents. 

We wrote up a cell phone contract before we gave our 14 year old son his first cell phone. There was nothing like it out there in 2012 and now more than five years later, the internet has site after site with information on teens and technology. Experts are popping up every where on the topic {thank you baby Jesus} and as parents we need this. This did not exist years ago when we were trying to figure out how to navigate as parents

However, I feel like a pioneer on the topic. I have used my children as guinea pigs in an experiment observing how they have found their way into social media. All three of my kids have internet enabled devices and I feel like we are more prepared as parents to navigate the murky waters of social media. It doesn't mean I love the idea of it and here's why.


My Private Tour Recap of the 2018 HGTV Dream Home

Thanks to Delta Faucet for inviting me to have a private tour of the 2018 HGTV Dream Home. All opinions are 100% my own.

When I was on vacation in Hawaii celebrating my high school graduation with my family, I got to chatting in the pool with some other resort guests. We exchanged pleasantries and then the next question we exchanged was "where are you from." I remember at that moment in time being embarrassed to say that I was from Indiana. I didn't feel like it had anything special to offer. It was just blah. My friends from the Midwest may even remember a small amusement park that had the slogan "there's more than corn in Indiana...", however, none of us were too sure of what more there was. It wasn't until years later and decades after I moved away that I grew to appreciate the roots in my home state. That said, I'm not sure HGTV is building a dream home there anytime soon, but they did stake their claim to a beautiful home not far from where I am currently planting roots with my family in Gig Harbor, Washington. 

I recently had the opportunity to tour the 2018 HGTV Dream Home with one of the major sponsors, Delta Faucet. Delta is based in my hometown in Indiana. Fun fact, I worked at the headquarters during my summers in college answering the phones. So if this didn't all come full circle, I don't know what would. 

I'm excited to share with you a recap and a tour of some of my favorite spaces in the 2018 HGTV Dream Home and explain a little bit more about the trends I spotted inside the home while being a tad bit snarky about my lack of possession of any design knowledge.


DIY Coordinating Christmas Ornaments and Wrapping Paper the Easy way!

I love the look of coordinating decorations at Christmas time, don't you? Unfortunately, this look can get expensive and require you to replace what you have. I found a way to work with what I had and create coordinating Christmas tree ornaments and wrapping paper and you can too! I'm sharing how you can do this with the purchase of just a few items and a few minutes of your time.

Mixed Metal Mirror Duck Tape Wreath

Remember how gold anything made us gag like 10 years ago? Now I can't get enough. Especially around the holidays. My absolute favorite part about Christmas {besides the cards} is the twinkly shiny everything. Twinkling lights on the tree, shiny ornaments and now, my new favorite Christmas decoration is this mixed metal mirror Duck Tape wreath. What's that you say? This is Duck Tape??? Stop it!!! Yep, it doesn't look like it because it's too busy looking like a million bucks that's why. 

I'm sharing the tutorial with you so that you can add some beautiful sparkle in your home. Plus, this stuff will have your mind running a million miles an hour thinking off all the amazing things you can cover with Duck Mirror


DIY At-Home Pedicure

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

When we found out we were having a daughter I was excited about getting to do all those girly things with her. I dreamed of putting bows in her hair {she ripped them out as soon as I put them in!}, dressing her in cute outfits {turns out she was SUPER particular and wanted to pick out all of her own clothes thankyouverymuch!}, and have spa days. I actually lucked out on that one! While I love going to the spa, it's not necessarily in my budget {times two!}, so at-home spa sessions have always been something my daughter and I have enjoyed since she was quite little.

It started with her sitting next to me as a toddler soaking her feet in warm water and has evolved over time. Sometimes we get a little crazy with egg white face masks, other times, we do each others nails and have an at home pedicure. Just because you do it yourself at home, doesn't mean you need to skimp on getting the same great end result. Especially when it comes to soft feet at home. I'm going to show you our favorite new at-home pedicure must have and share how you can have a DIY at-home pedicure just like the pros, but without the price! Plus, you can get a free printable gift card to give as well. 


6 Things You Didn't Know You Should Look for in a Home

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bank of America Homebuyer Insights Report. All opinions are my own.

I was 22 when we bought our first home. My husband and I looked for months trying to find the perfect house for our growing family. We spent many weekends scouring every neighborhood within a thirty-mile radius, looking with our agent. I'm not sure we knew exactly what we were looking for; we just knew what we weren't looking for. We were a real estate agent’s dream! I'm surprised she still talks to us. 

We actually lucked out with that first house. We ended up falling into a home that not only met our needs as we grew into a family of five {and then literally bursted at the seams!}, but learned that some of the homes features are ones that we wanted to replicate when we sought out our second home nearly a decade later. These aren't things a typical first-time homebuyer would have in mind, so stay tuned and let me know what you think. If you’re an experienced homebuyer, I'd love to know what you would add to this list.


How to Pose your Dog for a Family Picture

Our three year old Golden Retriever Sophie is a part of our family.
It didn't even cross my mind that we wouldn't include her in our impromptu trip to the park to try to take photos for our Christmas card.

My husband set up the tripod and got the camera ready while we all tried to pose and hold his spot.
Unfortunately, Sophie didn't get the memo that you are supposed to turn towards the camera, smile and look your best.

We ended up with these pictures of Sophie.
She's looking at the camera, but we can't get her to sit.

family pictures with dog

Here she is sitting, but the kids are all laughing because she isn't turned toward the camera.

family pictures with dogs

Our attempt to just let Sophie chase squirrels in the park, left her to actually photo bomb us at the last second.
christmas pictures with dogs

Trying to get a family picture for our Christmas card with her in it, just wasn't working.
If only I had remembered that she will do anything for a treat.
Sophie is partial to the bacon and peanut butter flavored kind.

use dog treats to post your dog

I just take the treat bag out and she immediately sits and is ready to do anything I ask of her!
Behind the camera, this is what I am holding to get Sophie to sit in position for Christmas picture attempt 2.

I ended up getting this very dignified looking picture of her by the Christmas tree. 
Man, why didn't I think of bringing her treats along to the park when we were trying to get a family picture?

Live and learn.
Next year, the five of us and the dog will be gracing the family Christmas photo card.
Of course, I'll make sure I have dog treats in my pocket.

I would love to see your cute pet Christmas photos.


Fashion for Moms of Teen Daughters-We Might Need a Support Group

I just want to take a hot minute to talk about fashion for moms. Is that a thing? Can I even say those three words together? I know I spent the first decade of motherhood in comfy pants wearing shirts that could be hiked up easily for breastfeeding. When I really wanted to get fancy, I was looking at Rachel from Friends for all my fashion needs. So obviously, I'm about as fashion forward as I can get. Now that I have a teen daughter with a very vocal opinion things are getting interesting up in here.
If you've been reading along for a bit you will know that the majority of my clothes are from garage sales and thrift shops. It's pretty darn common that I will spend more on my cup of coffee from Starbucks than I will on the outfit that I'm wearing. So not that you have that visual on my wardrobe lets move on.
Right now I'm struggling with the fashion that's out there. Downright struggling. I took my 15 year old daughter out to the mall and I was regretting every Goodwill clothing donation I had made the past two decades. Every single thing that I wore in high school is back and I'm not quite sure that's a good thing. My daughter specifically asked me to buy her mom jeans. And because of that, I'm going to stop right now and have a silent moment because I can't even.

How to Hang a Picture on Board and Batten

I have a confession to make. I am obsessed with architectural millwork. I don't know if it's because I grew up in an old home chock full of it, or if I've just always been drawn to it, but either way, I'm obsessed. I love excessive trim, beams, and board and batten. I'm not detail oriented but I love the detail that it gives to a space. After a trial run with our first attempt at board and batten last year, I finally convinced my husband to get a start on it downstairs. Truth be told, this has been something I've been asking for for more than a decade, so it's been a slow process. 
I've already given you a full tutorial on how we installed true board and batten, so I'm not going to rehash that. I am however, going to show you how we hung a picture on the board and batten. You see, my husband isn't really a fan of change. I hung a picture up in our front hallway of our family about five years ago and now that picture can never move. Change is hard. 
If my husband were to install board and batten in the downstairs hallway where would the picture go? This was a legitimate concern of his that I did my best to address. So we sat down and came up with a plan and I'm sharing it with you, just in case you have a picture that you want to hang on a wall on top of your board and batten. 

Before we get started though, I just want to show you what a difference it makes to have this installed in the hallway downstairs with this side by side comparison.

before and after side by side image

These Fixer Upper Fans Got Married at The Silos in Waco

Unlike you crazy super fans, I became an accidental Fixer Upper fan. Several years ago, I had a few people tell me that I looked and dressed a little like Joanna Gaines on Fixer Upper. I don't have cable so I'd never seen the show. So...I did what any normal human would do and googled it. Image after beautiful image came up and I loved what I saw. About that same time, my oldest son started looking for colleges and found his home at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Yet another thread was woven into the tapestry that has created my fandom. 

Personally, the more I get to know about Chip and Joanna Gaines through seven degrees of separation, the more I like them. I hear story after story from real life friends of theirs that tell me how genuine and humble they are. This is a story from a blog reader who reached out to me and it puts a little cherry on the top of what most of you probably already knew. 

Chip and Joanna Gaines really are just as sweet and kind as we think that they are. Read on to hear about the very generous wedding surprise they gave these fans that got married at The Silos in Waco.

chip and joanna gaines fans

Third Time is a Charm: My 100% Honest Stitch Fix Review

See that tag line up there? It says, real people, real projects and real life. Earlier this week I had a real discussion on one of my social accounts. I'm not quite sure what it is, but some people get behind a computer screen and forget that there is a person there. The response I got when I told them to be kind was "I'm surprised you responded." Of course I did. I don't for a second take for granted that there is a face behind the number. I read every comment I get and do my best to respond to every single word that you write to me. I'm real. 

Which is why when I review a product or tell you I would totally buy or donate to something, I mean it. I wouldn't tell you about something that I didn't love. This time last year, I gave Stitch Fix a try. I wrote a 100% honest review. Heck, it was more than a review, it was a novella. I just went back and read it and was impressed at how thorough I was. Seriously, it's got everything in there from tips from my Stitch Fix obsessed friend to how the whole Stitch Fix process works. I'm not going to rehash it, so go read it. 

Last month I got an e-mail that was offering a chance to try Stitch Fix without paying the $20 styling fee. {Don't think I'm special, you can get the same deal with no styling fee too.} I really had nothing to lose so I thought I would give it a try. 

You see, after that first time I thought maybe I'd try it again. My feedback was certain to help guide my stylist in the proper direction right? Nope. I struck out again and decided I was done giving Stitch Fix a try. BUT, I love a good deal, and I could try Stitch Fix one last time without any strings attached, so I did. And I was pleasantly surprised. I even had some of you help me vote to decide what to keep. Why not see what I got and see what I decided to keep in what I'm calling my "third times a charm" Stitch Fix.


Gifts That Give Back PLUS A Giveaway

There is nothing better than a gift that does double-duty. You can gift something to your loved one and know that there is a gift that will be given to someone in need as well. Pretty sure you can't go wrong! A little hope goes a long way and generosity multiplies so why not give a gift that gives this holiday season. 
noonday, world vision, one world play project with soccer balls for giving in India, Africa and around the globe

Sheet music wreath

Easy to Make Sheet Music Wreath Tutorial

On Monday, I shared with you how I made my sheet music Christmas trees.
Today, I will be sharing with you how I made my rolled sheet music wreath.
Isn't it beautiful?!

I started with a large piece of sheet music.
Roll the sheet music lengthwise.
I always knew I had a good roll when I would end up with a triangle in the middle of my cone.
Glue the end of the paper in place with your glue gun.

I used a Styrofoam circle from the Dollar Store.
You all know how much I love the Dollar Store!
I marked the center with a dot, but I don't think it really matters one way or another.

Once I rolled a fair amount of cones, I was ready to start gluing them on to the Styrofoam circle.
I made a large cone pattern to start off with,

then slowly starting to fill in the spaces as equally as possible.

Once I finished gluing the cones on as full as I could, this is what it looks like from the front.

I did the same thing to the front of the wreath filling in the Styrofoam with cones until I was pleased with the fullness of it.  The center needed to be finished off with something, so I decided to attempt to make a sheet music fan for the center.

I took 3 sheets of 2 inch wide paper for the big fan
and one sheet of one inch wide paper for the small fan

Small fan tutorial
1. fold the small paper accordion style
2. glue one end to the other end and place on it's side
3. carefully gather and pinch the end pushing down in the center to make a flower.  Place a small piece of glue in the center to hold it together.

Large fan tutorial 

1. fold the three sheets accordion style
2. glue each end to one another
3. form a circle with the paper
4. pinch and glue the inside together 

 I glued the big fan and the small fan together, and then glued it to the center of the wreath.
You could also glitter the edges of the fan if you wanted to.

 That's it!
Glue a ribbon to the back and hang your wreath in your favorite spot!

As you can see, I really love sheet music.
Have you made anything beautiful with sheet music?

Comparing Two Holiday Gift Catalogs

Ask most little girls what is on their Christmas wish list and they won't hesitate to tell you an American Girl doll. My daughter was the same way for years. Every Christmas she would flip through the American Girl catalog and earmark the new dolls and accessories she was pining after. As a kid, I loved dolls. As a mom, I love a company that addresses the fact that while our girls are getting older younger, they are striving to save girlhood.

For some reason, I'm still on the catalog's mailing list even though my daughter is old enough to legally drive a vehicle. Every year around this time, I get two catalogs in my mailbox - an American Girl holiday gift guide and the World Vision Gift Catalog - and every year my mind starts churning. 

You see, I've been to some pretty hard places and seen some pretty hard things. I've met girls who wished they could have a childhood but instead they were busy struggling to survive. I met a girl in Zambia who thought she was going blind, but it turns out she was allergic to the dogs that she shared her water source with - so much so that it blurred her vision and made her eyes swell shut. 

Another young girl named Nerott walks more than 9 miles each way just to go to school, a walk that takes her nearly three hours. She tries to walk with a friend because she lives in an area that is at high risk for child sacrifice and kidnappings, but because of poor water conditions her friend is often sick, leaving her to make the long walk alone and vulnerable. 

So what do these two girls have to do with the American Girl catalog? I'm glad you asked.


Cyber Monday Deals for Everyone on Your List

The biggest Cyber Monday fans I know are those that will avoid the stores at all costs this holiday season in an attempt to effortlessly shop from the comfort of their own home. Usually completing their whole shopping list while in pajamas. Correct me if I am wrong. I'm here to help you easily get everything you need with the click of a few buttons. Are you ready?

DIY Handmade Gifts that Don't Suck

I love a good handmade gift, but it seems like sometimes I'm the only one. I hear people grumble as soon as you say something about gifting homemade gifts, but the amount of time and effort that goes into those gifts seem far better to me than just plucking up the first thing you see on an end cap at Target or clicking "buy this" on Amazon. I've gathered up some pretty great DIY handmade gifts from some of my favorite bloggers. Seriously, I don't think you could go wrong gifting any of these gifts. Some are more labor intensive, and others can be made in no time at all. Why not gather up some friends and have a Christmas craft day together? Or spend a weekend crafting before the holidays. I know just seeing these handmade gifts will have you inspired to create.


Antique Fireplace Mantle Update Using Chalk Paint

I do love a good fireplace don't you? I don't know if it's because I grew up in a historic home where every room had a fireplace, but that may have something to do with it. I've watched my share of House Hunters. I get that a fireplace is on a lot of people's wish list, but not every home has one. I want to show you how easy it is to create a faux fireplace mantle that you can decorate and enjoy for every season. 

Christmas mantle decorated


8 Winter Energy-Saving Tips to Save You Money

This post is brought to you by Sears Home Services. All opinions are 100% my own.

Winter is just around the corner and I'm sure by now that you have felt the chill in the air. I'm not quite sure when our furnace fired up for the first time, but I'm so glad that it did because there is nothing I like more than a warm cozy home. It's never a convenient time to have something like your HVAC on the fritz, so making sure it's in good working order is important, especially during the holiday season when all you really want to do is snuggle up inside with friends and family. Not only do you want your HVAC to be working, you also want it to be working well. Using these 8 energy-saving tips will make sure it does just that and as an added bonus, it can save you money!

Sears home services for HVAC


How to Style a HolidayTool Box

I do love a good challenge, so when Wayfair contacted me about participating in a tool box challenge, I was excited to jump on board. I had an idea in mind before I even selected the toolbox I was going to use in this challenge. I like to purchase pieces that can be used in a variety of ways and I can see being able to use this tool box during all the seasons. I styled it for the upcoming Christmas season and I want to show you how and included some other ideas so that you can start getting your creative juices flowing!


Salted Caramel Popcorn Gift with Free Printable Gift Tags

This post is written by me in partnership with G.H. Cretors. All opinions are 100% my own. 

Every year I have to remind myself to get a jump start on the holiday season. Not this year! I had my Christmas cards ordered by October and I have most of my Christmas shopping done. I'd really like to do my best to not feel so rushed and busy and overwhelmed during the holidays, but instead enjoy that time with family and friends. Planning ahead is how I'm going to try to do that. That even means not waiting until the first neighbor rings my doorbell holding a gift. 

In years past I sheepishly took the gift from their hands knowing I hadn't even thought about the kid upstairs, not to mention the guy next door. I'm doing you all a solid and giving you a leg up on this holiday season and offering up a fun and easy gift idea with a printable that will not only be a welcomed holiday gift, but will have your neighbors asking for seconds and looking forward to this becoming a new tradition. 

a great inexpensive gift to give to your family and friends

Easy chalkboard typography art tutorial

Easy chalkboard typography art tutorial

Remember this summer when I told you about how I met a new friend in the construction business?
Jose was gutting a house a few doors down and had piles of vintage windows in the trash pile.
I salvaged them and made some into chalkboards to sell at a local craft bazaar.

I didn't want to just sell the window plain, so I jumped on the chalkboard typography bandwagon and spruced them up a bit before I listed them for sale.

I had been thinking of borrowing a friends overhead transparency projector but didn't get around to asking her in time, so I went with plan B.  Which was much easier than I expected.
Here's the tutorial for you because I hate to keep a good thing to myself.

First, find an image that you want to use.
I googled images and found a few that I liked then cut and pasted them in word.
I enlarged this one and printed it off.
This one was larger than the others and needed to be taped together.

 Next, chalk the heck out of the back of the page.
Rub the whole thing down doing your best to not miss any spots.
Also be aware of where your hand is when you rub the chalk down. 
You don't want your hand to take away chalk that you rubbed on.

Turn your image over and place it where you want it on your chalkboard.
Use a sharp pencil and trace over your image.

When you have traced the entire image, remove the paper.
This is what it will look like.

Now use your chalk and fill in the image.
Blow off the extra chalk dust and wipe around the image to remove as much of the extra chalk as you can.

I sprayed my chalk art with hairspray to help it stay in place.

Then I printed off even more images and used this technique on every chalked surface I could find!
It was that easy!

At the craft bazaar it was something that would draw people in to look in my booth.
It was so much easier than I thought it would be and made such a big impact.
Think you will try it?
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