I discovered Alcohol Ink over the summer while I was coming up with ideas for restyling these recyclable glass bottles. The look was so iridescent and eye-catching that I knew that it would be the perfect treatment for simple glass ornaments.
Flash forward six months and it was finally time to try my hand at decorating glass ornaments. I played around a bit and came up with four different, yet simple techniques. While they look a little labor intensive, they are surprisingly easy to make and not too messy (as long as you keep the ink off your clothes!).
Okay, seriously? Where did last week go? Did Thanksgiving just come and go, just like that? Lets just say it was a busy, yet productive, week for us.
I started off the week by hosting a breakfast meeting for my fellow school board members. I'm not a baker, but I've been wanting to make these yummy cinnamon rolls. They came out pretty good, but somehow I forgot to serve the fruit and juices that I had chilled in the refrigerator. Oops. I've been extra spacey these days so I blame it on either my allergies or my allergy medication. I'm not ready to go with the "getting old" excuse quite yet. :)
So, besides pretending to be a baker, I also put up the Christmas decorations and hung some much needed art on our blank walls.
We've been in this house for four years so I really don't have a good excuse for blank walls. I'm just pickier with each passing year, I guess... Probably as a result of my past rash decorating decisions. I've "donated" a bunch of decorative items that we bought on whim for our old house. My hubs is of the "If there's space... Fill it!" school of thought. As a newlywed, I was less particular and too busy with work to focus on particulars, so I just went with it. Also, that was way before blogs, Pinterest and other influencers... I really had no sense of my own style way back then! Flash forward ten years and NOW I care and am picky to the point of paralysis. I'm not sure what's better-- Buy and regret? Or not buy and suffer from decorating paralysis?
I guess it's official. The holiday season is here!
If you're celebrating, how are you spending your weekend? We will be turkey trotting, serving meals at a local homeless center, cooking, eating, watching 7 year olds play baseball and spending time with our extended family. It will be a busy four days. Although the holiday rush and ensuing anxiety is abound, I'm hoping that we can find some time to take a deep breath, relax a bit, and truly get into the spirit of giving thanks.
And while we're talking about giving thanks... Thank you dear readers for following this ol' blog of mine. I haven't been posting as much lately, so I truly appreciate you for sticking around. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Here's an easy way to change up your decor with a little glue and faux fur. I've been a little enamored with faux fur lately and have added it to our family room decor-- fluffy pillow, fluffy throw, even a fluffy rug. This little fluffy white faux fur frame fits right in and adds enough whimsy without being gaudy. It's perfect for the upcoming winter months!
When I initially started dreaming-up this ornament, I wanted to use pearl and rhinestone brooches and other luxe-looking jewelry pieces. But after a couple years of pricing new and vintage jewels, I knew that one expensive $50-$100 ornament wasn't going to make the cut. If I'm going to spend that much money, I'd rather just buy a collector's piece.
Then, on a recent trip to the craft store, I came across a large package of pretty jewelry-quality beads. With their translucent qualities, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them.
I was the kid who couldn't get enough of Lite-Brite... In my book, it's so much better if it lights up! :)
Ah yes... Are those sleigh bells I hear? Has Christmas sprung up overnight in about every retail spot that I inhabit? Except Costco, who thought it was okay to bring out the holiday cheer in August when my kids were still on summer vacation? Ahem. Yes my friends... It's that's time of year again.
I waited until All Hallows Eve was over and, although I love Thanksgiving and will honor that fine holiday with lots of good company and good eats, it's time to get BUSY! Because Christmas will be here soon.
Stress and Excitement. That's what I'm all about.
Since I've been building a forest tree collection for the past several years (see most of them here), I thought I'd start with some pretty, soft and texturally awesome Faux Fur Trees.
those are our costumes, man. cholesterol and ninja stealthiness... what's not to love???
We had our Fall Festival last Friday and had a great time playing games and eating lots of goodies. The hubs picked our chock-full-of-cholesterol breakfast costumes and they were a hit. The kids were especially drawn to the bacon. And a few made the bacon a little nervous... Drooling, glassy-eyed kids droning b-a-a-a-c-o-n-n-n-n... will make you fear for your greasy life! :)
Quite frankly, I was kinda over Halloween after last week. I almost forgot about taking the kids trick-or-treating tonight! Never fear, although I am the Halloween Grinch, we will be hitting the pavement tonight.
If you like to craft, but aren't quite ready to go THERE with Holiday projects (I'm with ya, I get anxious just thinking of the holiday madness), then these little pinecones are the perfect project for you. They're great to use in Fall decor and can easily transition over to the winter holidays. I've made several variations over the years--
I took a month off from crafting and wasn't going to make any Fall projects, but then I started thinking about pinecones... I love pinecones! So I eeked this one out last Saturday between two soccer games and a baseball practice. Sometimes a little pressure helps the creative process. :)
Every year the boys make Halloween cards as one of our school's community service events. These cards, accompanied by a handful of goodies, go to children who are part of our county's foster care system. I love that this project is hands-on and meaningful for both the children who receive the cards, as well as the ones who make them.
The boys and I brainstormed and decided to make cards with ghosts and bats. I've been testing out a few ideas for Christmas and happened to have a lot of "stuff" out on our kitchen counter. AKA, I make a mess and don't always clean it up! The white "abominable snowman" fur grabbed their attention and we agreed that furry white ghosts were in order!
When it comes to Halloween, I usually don't put up many decorations. Maybe a few pumpkins here and there, a few bats or some ghosts, but nothing too complicated or macabre. But I guess my decorations are so subtle that my kids' asked why I don't decorate for Halloween... So here it is, my attempt at somewhat spooky, not so subtle Halloween decor.
Can you believe that it'll be October in a few days? How is that even possible? So I may be in denial, but today I decided it was time to pull out the Fall decorations. I'm hit-or-miss with the other seasons, but I love Fall decor. Something about pumpkins, those rich colors and the changing of the seasons.... Not to mention the kids being back in school so I actually have some time to think about stuff like this!
Over the past couple of years I've collected a variety of decorative pumpkins. I think I've met the fake pumpkin quota, so this year I decided to remake a few instead of buying more. Inspired by a recently purchased accent chair, I decided that the addition of teal would add just the right amount of "pop" to our traditional pumpkin display.
Have you ever made a chore chart for your family? Did it work? It's always been something that I thought we should do, however I could never think of a way to make it work for my family.
After giving it a lot of thought, and also figuring out what motivates my children, I finally decided to give it a go. But instead of "chores", I wanted to focus on responsibilities.
Here's how my version works-- 1) Every day I choose a variety of daily responsibilities and place them at the top of the chart; 2) When the kids complete their responsibilities, they place it in the "done" section; 3) Discuss at the end of the day-- dinner... or anywhere that we have their undivided attention.
From "chores" to responsibilities
Responsibilities are more than just a chore to "get through". I want my kids to think broader than that and realize that their responsibilities are more important than just helping out around the house. And yet they are just five and seven, so I also need to keep it real!
So at five and seven, they can start doing some serious tasks! For their daily tasks, I kept it simple-- do homework, wipe table, set table, make bed, etc. Then I threw in some special things that they are working on-- practice balance (for my aspiring pitcher), shoot hoops (for both young hoopsters), practice piano (I'm not a tiger-mom about piano so my kids actually like this one!). To go along with their everyday tasks, I also rotate in a few responsibilities that are more "social" than actual tasks-- Be helpful, Do something nice, etc. Like most children their age, my kids sometimes get sucked into the pitfalls of childhood-- teasing each other, bringing each other down instead of lifting up, thinking they are the center of the universe, etc... Actually, I know some adults who haven't advanced passed that stage! So I think it's good to start young with developing those important social skills. More details on social responsibilities later.
Over the summer I was contacted by Homemaker, a print magazine based out of the U.K. Jam-packed with eye-catching layouts, plenty of inspiring craft/decor ideas and yummy recipes, this magazine is perfect for anyone who strives to be more creative. They initially wanted to interview me and feature bliss bloom blog in one of their columns. Unfortunately we were out of the country during that period of time and I was unable to provide all the photos and details that they needed in a timely manner.
So skip forward a couple of months and I found out that I was featured in a later issue. Not the same scope, but still really cool that they even kept me in mind! And hey, I don't take these things lightly. If my name and ideas are in print, then what I'm doing must be somewhat real... right? :)
I received my own print copy a couple of weeks ago and here's a little peek--
Homemaker Magazine can be purchased at booksellers in the U.S. and U.K., via subscription and also through iTunes.
I have to admit that I'm not feeling Fall just yet, so I decided to ease into the upcoming season with an easy project.
Since the weather is still warm and dry, it's the perfect time to break out the metallic spray paint. Did you know that you can't use metallic spray paints when the temperature dips below 70 degrees Fahrenheit? I've tried it before and the paint bubbles up and turns into a hot mess.
Can you believe that Fall will officially be here in the next week and a half? Have you felt a seasonal shift where you live? In Southern California, it doesn't usually start to feel like Fall until early November. Darn. So while we have to wait a bit for cooler temps and falling leaves, that doesn't mean we can't start celebrating the changing season inside our homes.
Here's a round-up of several Fall projects that I pulled from the archives (you'll need to click thru if viewing this in a RSS feed or via email).
Do you have any Fall projects up your sleeve this year? I've got a few in mind and just need to make my way over to the craft store.
It's official! The boys are back in school. How is it that I have a Kindergartner and 2nd Grader??
The transition from preschool to Kindergarten was so seamless for my youngest that there weren't any first day jitters for either of us. He just went happily with the rest of the kids and didn't look back. And when I picked him up he asked "Why can't I stay longer?". I hope that enthusiasm continues!
My oldest is so happy to be back in school. He was ready! The second grade is a big transition as there is additional responsibilities, more independence and, of course, more work. To be honest, I think I'm more nervous about it than he is. We'll see how it pans out, but so far, so good.
So the kids started school... then half the family was struck down by the stomach flu (aka nasty norovirus). Terrible, terrible stuff. I know, because it completely knocked me out. The illness part was one thing, but four days later and I'm still feeling the effects-- tired, achy, dark circles under the eyes... Not pretty.
I had a bunch of projects that I wanted to start this week, but I can barely keep my eyes open. So I'm going to sign-off and try to rejuvenate a little before it's time to pick up the rapscallions.
After a long delay (four years to be exact), we finally have begun to update our family room decor. New couch- check! Accent chair- check! Coffee table- check! Rug and throw pillows- check! We just need a couple more pieces to finish it off and make it share-worthy.
While I like our new furniture, there's a lot of grey and dark wood and it was starting to look a little too masculine and serious. No-can-do. I need whimsy! I need fun! Enter the teal chair, bull's-eye pillow and this butterfly display box.
In the spirit of "Back to School", I've pulled together some fun inspiration that brings me back to the good ol' days of jumping rope, standard lined paper and pencil boxes. Do you remember how you felt at the beginning of each new school year? For me it was a combination of excitement and anxiety mixed in with the promise of new beginnings. Not to mention the joyful anticipation of wearing a brand spanking new pair of shoes... Exciting times!
As a constant crafter and someone who likes to experiment with new techniques and ideas, I'm always on the lookout for quality craft supplies and products. So, when given the opportunity to work with the new Martha Stewart Decoupage line, of course I jumped at the chance!
There are several decoupage formulas available including Fabric-to-Fabric Oil Cloth Finish, Multi-Surface Gloss Finish and Multi-Surface Matte Finish. All formulas are durable, weather resistant, non-toxic and dishwasher safe, all of which are appreciated in my child-centric household. In addition to the decoupage mediums, the line includes a variety of pretty papers and trims that can be used to enhance a multitude of surfaces including glass, ceramic, wood, metal and terra cotta.
I used the Gloss Finish formula and the Butterflies & Ferns decorative paper for this project. The decorative paper is perfect for decoupage-- Thin enough to blend seamlessly into the project, yet strong enough to withstand tearing and bubbling when the medium is applied.
What do you think of this year's Fall trends? I'm not a fashionista by any stretch of the imagination, but Fall is my favorite season and I usually find myself crushing on the fashions that come along with falling leaves, cooling temps and darker color palettes. Here are just a few fall pretties that caught my eye.
I admit it, I'm a girl who likes her beauty supplies. And I'm pretty sure it started when I was in 7th grade and subscribed to my first teen magazine (does anyone remember YM?) My friends and I would take our weekly allowance and walk, possibly skip, to the nearest shopping center to explore the colorful and transformative world of drugstore cosmetics. Fast forward a decade or three.... As I get older and become more freaked-out about aging, I'm back to trying out new products. But this time, instead of experimenting with brightly colored lipsticks and eyeshadow, I'm more focused on trying to preserve and maintain.
I posted my anti-aging skincare routine earlier this year, but I wanted to share a few more favorites. The best part is that all of these items can be found at your local drugstore.
Last year my kids brought home art smocks that they had made at camp. They looked like very colorful batik, but instead of using wax, kids school glue was used for the "wax resist". And instead of using fabric dyes, acrylic paints were used. While it was very pretty and colorful, the acrylic paints made the fabric stiff and prone to cracking. I know I didn't want stiff fabric, but I also didn't want to use messy, toxic dyes, so I had to do a little homework and find some alternative materials.
Last weekend I finally got around to trying out this technique and am pretty happy with the results!
The hubs and I love to travel. We traveled when we were single, we traveled as a newly married couple, and now, as a family of four, we travel together. Obviously some things have changed-- It'll be a few more years before the kids are really interested in historical monuments or spending quality time at a fine art museum. That said, they do absorb quite a bit and seem to enjoy the new experiences that each destination has to offer. When they were really little (ages 1 - 4), we stayed stateside, did a lot of road trips and tried to limit the air travel to 5 hours max. Anything beyond that and we knew that we'd be asking for trouble. It was also a challenge traveling with strollers, car seats, luggage-hogging diapers, and all of the other necessities that come along with small children. And I won't even bother mentioning the difficulties of maintaining a nap schedule, changing diapers in sketchy public restrooms, overtired kids, feeding baby on the go, carrying snacks, etc.
Now that our kids are a little older, a manageable 5 and 7, we are able venture out a little farther and stretch our wings so-to-speak. I don't think we're quite ready for Europe (11+ hour trip) or Asia (14+ hours), but a trip to Quebec was perfect. It hit all of our criteria--
1. Somewhere we've never been
2. Easy to navigate with children
3. Unique enough to feel like we've "left" our everyday lives behind
When to visit Quebec City
Quebec City is a tourist destination, and we happened to be there during one of the busiest times. However, while the town was bustling with activity, it never felt overrun with tourists. If anything, it has an international flair as many visitors are from Europe. Quebec City is popular during the summer for the Summer Festival, during autumn for the fall colors, and during winter for the Winter Carnival as well as the nearby Ice Hotel.
When I make a meal that the entire family enjoys, I take note. And when I place a bowl of food in front of my kids and their first response is "Mmmmmm!", I know it's a keeper. White Chili is one of those meals that pleases the palate, has good, simple ingredients, and is easy to make. Win. Win. Win.
I really should be working on some new projects or at least straightening up the house, but instead I've found myself being sucked in and completely engulfed by a book. Or actually, a few books. Have you heard of the "Divergent" book series by Veronica Roth? It's touted as the new "Hunger Games"-- young adult lit, dystopian society, lots of action, violence, good vs. evil, a little romance. Similar to HG and yet, the characters and plot are different enough that you don't compare the two series. At least I didn't.
if the chocolate cake and black & grey clothing don't make sense... you'll have to read the books to find out their significance!
So I've read Divergent, Insurgent and even Free Four, a 16 page excerpt from the male protagonist's point of view. And, like a bunch of folks, I'm eagerly awaiting Allegiant, the final book which is scheduled to be released in October. I found Insurgent, the second book, to be better than the first, so I can't wait to see what enfolds in the third and final book.
For those who prefer to watch rather than read, you won't be left out... A movie is already in the works and is scheduled to be released in 2014.
This past weekend we celebrated my youngest's Fifth birthday with a Gummy Bear party! We had the party at his favorite gymnastic place so all I had to do was provide a little decoration and food. These days I'm all for simple and this was one of the easier parties that I have planned; Bright colors and a simple bear shape. You really can't go wrong with that!
Just dropping in to say hello! We've been traveling the past couple of weeks. Fourteen wonderful days of togetherness, which, as you probably can imagine with two young kids, is unpredictable and an adventure in itself.
Since we were out of the States and also spent a week at Sea, it was a true vacation from all of the daily noise and distraction that comes along with WiFi, 3G, and their cousin FIOS.
beautiful mother nature. no filters or photoshop necessary!
I wish I could stay in unscheduled vacation-mode bliss, but two weeks of dirty laundry beckons, not to mention my youngest's 5th Birthday Party is scheduled for this weekend, and I have a TON of things going on behind the scenes of the blog... So back to reality for me! But seriously, I could stare at this sunset picture all day long... :)
I'm planning a party for my youngest's fifth birthday. I'm a little sad typing that. Five years old is the real deal! Definitely not a baby anymore... but a sweet little boy. He still loves hanging with his mama, freely gives hugs and kisses, adores his big brother and is a happy-go-lucky friend to all.
His favorite things haven't changed much over the last few years; Balloons, bubbles and balls are always pleasers. Lately Mario Bros. has also made the list. But the one thing that he ABSOLUTELY adores, the one thing that makes him do the happy dance, and the one thing that he asks me for every.single.day is ... Gummy Bears!
So when he requested a Gummy Bear party to celebrate his fifth birthday, I was mentally prepared. Luckily it's a pretty simple theme. Here's what I have so far.
Have you been enjoying Summer's bounty? I'm digging these miniature heirloom tomatoes that are out right now. Look at those beautiful colors. Not to mention they taste so much better than the regular stuff. I'm partial to roma tomatoes for cooking, but these are great for topping a salad or for just popping in your mouth for a quick snack.
My favorites are the dark green tomatoes. I call them "watermelon" tomatoes because of their dark green striped skin and red flesh, but I think they're actually called Zebra Tomatoes.