Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Did you have a good Christmas? We did. As a mom, I think I get more excited for the girls than I do for myself. 

The night before, we did our traditional Christmas Eve stuff. The girls opened a present (new pajamas), we made some hot chocolate, and then drove around and looked at Christmas lights. 

I've said it before, but I freaking love our neighborhood. At one house, there was a man and woman, dressed up as Mr and Mrs Claus, passing out homemade cookies. And at another house in the neighborhood, starting at Thanksgiving there is a mailbox for Santa, where you can drop off your letters to him. 

Santa will then write you back and drop it off in your mailbox. I love that each girl got a different letter, so it felt really personal. 

Christmas day started off with the girls opening up their stockings, and then moving on to their presents. The older girls are getting to the age where they love clothes, so it was fun seeing them try on their new clothes. 

Yup, she picked out that hat. Homegirl likes bright colors. 

Ava got a new hat too (I love owls!) and a new CD player, since she decided to break hers two days before Christmas. 

I had an awesome Christmas. A new fixed lens for my Nikon (a 50mm 1.8), a crap ton of gift cards to Home Goods, some new Doc Martens, and a Silhouette Cameo!

And somehow we ended up with a white Christmas in Texas! My girls lasted all of 20 minutes before they were whining to come back in.

The funny thing is that when the girls opened their new hats, my father in law was wondering when they would be able to actually wear them (heck, we were in the 70's a week ago) but they certainly came in handy today. 

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fireplace mantle make over

Yes! Finally a post from yours truly. No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. Just keeping busy with a 2 month who the past couple of days, has decided that the only way she can sleep is in my arms. 

Recently, I found a website called, which I love. There is a section called Design Dilemma, where you can post a picture or question about your house, and designers will weigh in with their suggestions. 

I've always had problems with my mantle decor. Like, I've never been able to figure it out. There are so many beautiful mantle decor pictures on Pinterest, and still, mine just looks like a catch all for whatever home decor crap I shove up there. 

This is it at its best. Lame and usually littered with toys which I shoved out of the way cleaned up. 

So I posted my question on Houzz, and they all said the same thing. The mantle is too small and the wrong style for all the stone. I noticed on Pinterest, that whenever someone had a huge fireplace with a crap ton of stone, they all had a simple beam mantle. Found this blog post on pinterest, showed it to hubby, and he loved it. I was never able to find the thin veneer that she used, and the guy at Home Depot didn't know what it was, so I skipped that part. 

Now, apparently I've forgotten how to blog, since I didn't take half of the pics that I wanted. Lame, right?

First thing we did was pull down the top trim piece, which made a HUGE difference. Hubby and I have always hated it, but never thought to take it down. 

Then I painted the ceiling that needed it. 

And can I just say, 12 feet doesn't sound that tall, but when you're up on a ladder, painting at 4 in the morning, it's pretty damn tall. 

Next I hit up Home Depot, and found some wood that I liked. It was called whitewood and I found it in the lumber section with all of the tall, straight boards. 

I bought one 

1x10 at 6 feet long
one 1x8 at 8 feet long
one 1x8 at 6 feet long. 

I made sure that the boards were straight and had some pretty knots in them. I had them all cut to 67 inches, which would give me 4 inches of room on each side when installed on my stone. I made sure to keep my scrap pieces, since I knew that I'd want to use the scrap piece of the 1x8 to cap off the sides. Then it was as simple and making a box. After I attached the 1x8's to the 1x10 with some wood glue and screws, I measured the sides and had hubby cut my scrap piece to cap off the side. Those were around 7-8 inches. In this pic, I had the sides just sitting in there, which is why they look wonky. 

Then I beat the crap out of distressed it, concentrating on the front (since that's all you'll really see). Some spots I hit with a hammer, some with a screwdriver. On some of the edges, I let the dremmel with a drill bit gouge out some of the wood. 

Then I filled in the screw holes and all the seams with stainable wood filled, and after that dried, I sanded the crap out of it and made it super smooth and worn. 

Then came time for staining after I applied the wood conditioner. The whitewood is super soft, and I wanted to make sure it took the stain evenly. The color I used was "dark walnut". This was one coat that I let sit for a couple of minutes. I ended up doing one more coat of stain, because you can always add more, you can't take it away. Which is why I tend to err on being too light than too dark. 

While I was doing that, hubby disassembled the mantle inside. I swear, this thing was built to withstand a nuclear bomb, it took a while to pull it all apart. 

Again, there should be a picture here to show what it looked like after we pulled off the decorative pieces, but imagine a wooden box built around some 2x4's. 

Then it was as simple as sliding on the box that I made, screwing it into the box that was already there, go drop $40 on candles at Walmart, and voila! (I've seen somewhere where a lady bought cheap drinking glasses, covered them in contact paper, and they looked like candles for a lot cheaper. But I'm an instant gratification kind of gal. Plus, with it being at eye level, I was worried that it would be obvious if I tried to fake candles). 

And since we all love a good before and after shot...

I think I spent $70ish bucks on this for the candles, the wood and stainable wood filler (I had the stain and screws already). I love it, and surprisingly, it's one of the only few projects that hubby and I both love. I'll call this project 99% finished, since I need to get some wood for the fireplace, and the wood grate holder thingy down from the attic. 

Whatcha think? 

Let's party like it's 1999...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Trash, I mean, treasure hunting...

Yeah, I'm alive. And desperately trying to get back into blogging. But since I usually have a baby that sleeping in my lap (Alli apparently thinks she is going to die if I put her down), that means I can't exactly bust out the glue gun or mod podge. What can you do though. She's our last baby, and especially after losing out on so much baby time with Ava and her long NICU stay, I'm soaking it up as much as I can. 

Last weekend, my friend Candace and I went to a show in Arlington TX. It's called The Junk Hippy Roadshow, and a bunch of vintage/thrift vendors were there with all of their goodies. 

Of course, there were a couple of things that I wished I had bought, like a gorgeous shade for a hanging lamp that would have looked perfect above my kitchen table. I did score a couple of things. One is a frame from a house that was built in 1897, one is a small wooden seal, and one is a giant dog. I think it's made of cardboard, it's lighter than it looks. Hubby likes how it is now, but after living with it for a week, I'm going to decoupage it with brown craft paper so it blends in with my decor. I bought it on sight, it made me smile and reminded me of my dachshund that we had to put down last year. Hubby said "Wow, look at all the trash, I mean, treasures you brought home." He always teases me about my "trash" hunts. :)

This past Saturday, hubby and I went to the Old Red Lumberyard Market in McKinney. It was a lot smaller than the Junk Hippy one, but it was fun to wander around. 

Doesn't hubby look thrilled to be there? 

I did find something I was excited about. I've been wanting some new letters for our kitchen. I saw a vendor that had an "e" and a "t", but no "a". So a bit bummed about that. Then later on, I was at another booth, and I see a lady ask about a bin that I hadn't seen before that had letters in it. The vendor pulls it out, and I see the lady dig through there. And I see an "a"! And I see the lady pull out the "a" and look at it for a minute. Well crap! After a few moments, I see her put it back. Which is when I swooped in a grabbed it. And for a whopping $18 total, I now have these.

I'm going to clean them up and paint them a pretty color, like a sky blue or something. I'll have to find a way to make them stand up, but I'm thrilled with them, especially for the price. 

Are you a "trash" hunter like I am? What's been your favorite find? 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

20 Dogs

So, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to review a DVD called 20 Dogs. Knowing how much my three older girls love dogs, music, and the TV, I said yes. 

They sent me a DVD, a music CD, and a shirt for each of my older girls (can I just say that I love that they sent a shirt for each girl, instead of just one shirt that they'd fight over?) 

Ava was so excited about the movie that I couldn't even get her to look at the camera. 

The DVD was really cute. It showed all different kinds of breeds of dogs, and the girls loved identifying the ones that they knew. The DVD wasn't just all cutesy songs either. It was also educational. It would tell you about the breed, things like their characteristics and where they came from. My 9 year old was excited to tell me that chihuahuas come from Mexico. 

I think it's going to be great for my two year old. The DVD would sing a song about "small", and then show a bunch of small dogs to show what small means. 

The CD is my 7 year old's favorite. The songs are catchy, but thankfully not annoying like some kids songs can be. Jasmin has had the CD on constant repeat since we received it. Twenty Dogs even has their song lyrics on their website, which my 9 year old really liked. She loves to sing along to things, but doesn't always have the patience to learn all of the words. So the lyrics being written out was great for her. 

The shirts are a great quality, and have held up well in the washing machine. It's a thicker material with a clear, crisp picture on the front. For size reference, my two year old is wearing an xs, my 7 year old is wearing a small, and my 9 year old is wearing a medium. Here is a better pic of the shirts, even though Ava looks like a goober. Lately she just refuses to be cute in pictures and usually does a one eye squinty pirate looking face. Darn two year olds. 

Overall, it's fun and educational (which the kids love) but, like some kids stuff, it's not annoying (which Mommy loves). 

Thanks Twenty Dogs for the chance to review this! My kids have truly enjoyed it. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Easy (and CHEAP!) Teacher's Gifts for Halloween

I know, I know. A total shock that I'm actually crafting and blogging again, right? Alli was 4 weeks old yesterday, Ava is going through the terrible two's, and yet, I had a few moments of peace to myself to craft. 

It. Was. Awesome. 

I love both of my daughter's teachers. Arielle is in 4th grade, and while her teacher is new to the school, I really like her. Jasmin's teacher, I ADORE. She's the same teacher that Arielle had for 1st grade, and she is just amazing. 

I want to get better about showing my appreciation for them. I'm good about sending in a Christmas gift for them, but I want to get better about doing them for them during the year. Plus, hubby's sister is a teacher (her first year! How exciting!) and I've heard some of the stuff she has to deal with, kids and parents wise. 

Teachers are severely under appreciated. 

I was browsing on Pinterest, and saw a bunch of ideas for teacher's gifts. I know we've all seen the different ways to decorate hand sanitizer bottles, right? This one caught my eye though, I really liked the "Germs are Scary" idea. 

So my first step was hitting up Walmart, where I bought two bottles of hand sanitizer for $1.97 a piece. I've read that you can buy these at the Dollar Store, but I'm lazy and was already at Walmart. They had a blue version and a green version. 

Next step was to dust off my Silhouette and cut out some vinyl. The font I used was Morgus. I wanted something scary, but kid friendly. The final size I cut was about 3.5 inches tall and 2.5 inches wide. 

Then I had to use some elbow grease, Goo Gone and dish soap to get off the labels. It took a while and a lot of rinsing it off, but I wanted to make sure that the Goo Gone was off of the bottles. I didn't figure that sticking vinyl on something that had adhesive remover residue still on it was going to work. 

No picture of the vinyl on the bottle, but even so, I thought it looked a bit too plain. So I dug up an old tutorial that I bought, made a loopy bow, and put it on there. I dig it. 

And the final result? Not too shabby for $2 and a little bit of time (the vinyl and ribbon I had already). 

I hope they like it! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cutting Edge Stencil Winner!

I know you're all waiting with baited breath to find out who won the Cutting Edge stencil giveaway, right? That lucky winner is....

Manda Overturf Shank!

Manda said her favorite stencil was the marrakech trelis allover stencil, and I agree, I love that one too! I'm sending you an email, Manda!

Folks, PLEASE make sure you're following all the rules of a giveaway. There were two winners that rafflecopter picked before Manda, but sadly, they didn't follow the required entry and post what stencil was their favorite. Don't let this be you! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Alli's Newborn Pics!

Don't forget you still have a day to enter my giveaway for a Cutting Edge Stencil! If the Rafflecopter widget isn't showing up, you can try a different browser, or just leave comments the old fashioned way. 

Alli had her newborn pics done last week, and despite her wanting to be awake, I think we got some good ones. I can't believe she was 3 weeks old yesterday. Time is flying by. 

That gorgeous blanket was made by my sweet friend Candace, her crochet pieces are amazing. 

Thanks for letting me share! And go enter that giveaway!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cutting Edge stencils review & GIVEAWAY!!!

I know you've heard of Cutting Edge Stencils. And about how awesome they are, their great customer service, how easy their stencils are to use, I could go on and on. So imagine my surprise when they contacted me and asked if I'd like to do a review and GIVEAWAY for my readers! 

I had a hard time narrowing my choice down. They have so many options, from florals, to damasks, to birds, the list goes on and on. I already own the large rabat stencil that I used in my master bedroom. And my friend Megan loaned me a damask stencil that I used in Ava's room. So I wanted something a little different. I ended up picking the Julia stencil. I liked it because you can do the flowers the same color, or a different color, and get a totally different feeling from the same stencil

I told my mom that I was going to be doing her guest bathroom, which she was super excited about. Her bathroom was pretty blah, just a non-exciting color on the wall with a sad flower picture that she's had forever. I knew the stencil could make it something fresh and fun. 

Yup. Boring bathroom with horrible, horrible lighting and that sad picture on the wall that's hidden by the door most of the time. 

I use painter's tape to hold it to the wall. Cutting Edge says you can also use spray adhesive to help hold it up, but the painters tape works for me. I just put it under any large negative space on the stencil. I did use a thumb tack to hold it to my mom's wall, only because she has sand paint with a sealer on top, and the tape refused to hold. See my clip on level? HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! 

And we're off! The stencils are nice and thick, but still easy enough to bend to get into corners and crevices. A little bit of paint goes a long way, and too much paint on your roller can cause it to seep under (that can be fixed with some touch up paint, but who wants to do extra work that you don't have to?)

And here we are, a short couple of hours later! This stencil was nice and big, so I was able to do quite a bit at a time. Since it's such a small space, we decided to do just one wall. 

Seriously, so easy that you can do with with a toddler running around and you're 39 weeks pregnant. 

Cutting Edge also has a video to help you get started. 

Now, the part that you've all been waiting for! Cutting Edge Stencils is offering one stencil up to $50 (US residents only please) that they'll ship it to you for free! How awesome is that? 

This giveaway is for followers of this blog, so please make sure you are a follower! Enter on the rafflecopter widgit below!

*If the widgit isn't showing up (my friend said that it didn't work on her ie 8 browser) just enter the old fashioned way and leave a comment for each entry, and I'll figure it out.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Just checking in, y'all

Life is still good as a momma to 4 kids. (Geez, 4 kids? How the heck did that happen??)

I'm actually getting back into blogging, after a brief hiatus due to laziness and pregnancy. I have a few things on my crafting to do list that I'm excited about, plus a super awesome giveaway for you tomorrow! So make sure you check back in! 

Alli had her newborn photos this past Thursday. Of course, the stinker wouldn't stay asleep so we didn't get every pic that we wanted. But I'm super excited about the ones I did see. The photographer we always use is Jill Cornelius. She's also insane a mom of 4, and is SO wonderful with newborns. I can't wait to see them! 

On that note, I will leave you with one that I took myself. It's no where near professional status, and I'm still learning my camera (thank you Jill for showing me a few things!!!!!!) but for my first "newborn" photo, I'm happy with it. I'll make sure to post the ones that Jill took when I get them back. 

If you are in the Dallas area, I highly suggest contacting Jill if you want family pictures! 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

No Worries, I'm Still Alive

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. Just trying to get used to the schedule of waking up with a newborn and keeping up with three other kids. Luckily hubby is such a huge help, so every other night I get a full night's sleep. We're trying to get Alli on a night feeding schedule of 11:30, then 2:30, and then 5:30. Hubby is a night owl, so he takes the 11:30, we alternate the 2:30 and I take the 5:30 since I'm a morning person. Alli still has her days and nights mixed up. She wants to sleep all day, and then wake up around 7pm to party. Luckily my father in law came to visit for a week and took all of the 2:30 feedings while he was here, which was SO appreciated. Thanks Steve! 

Ava is doing well, adjusting to the baby in the house. I was worried about a bit of jealousy, but we try and keep Ava involved as much as we can. She gets us diapers if Alli needs one, hands us the burp cloth, etc. I'm making sure to give Ava extra snuggles, since she's always been attached to my hip, I don't want her to feel replaced or left out. 

The other two girls are doing well. Jasmin turned 7 yesterday, so we did a family outing to Build A Bear. We dropped off Alli with my mom, and Jasmin, Arielle and Ava each got to pick out a bear and some accessories. 

I'm not going to lie, I'm freaking exhausted. Which is to be expected 12 days after having a baby and interrupted sleep, but I'm hanging in there. I have some fun giveaways coming up (one you don't want to miss will be posted on the 15th) and I'll get back into crafting, slowly but surely. Thanks for following and for your sweet messages, it means a lot. 

And because I can't leave you without some pics.....