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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Framing your Memories

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This year, one of my home decor projects is to be printing and hanging a bunch of new pictures.  I've been trying to go through my hard drive and group things better and try to get ready for the printing process.  In the meantime, however, I've been dreaming about all the options that are available to me.

In my living room, I currently have a quad group of pictures, two of which are artwork, and two are of my girls.  I plan on keeping these pictures, but updating the pictures of the girls, because I like the focal pieces there.  My staircase, though, is a totally different story.  I love the look of photographs on the staircase, however, it's become apparent that all my pictures there are like 6 years outdated.  I really need to come up with something better.  Here's some of the stuff I've been eyeing:

I love the look of lots of pictures like this:


and I love the uniqueness of frames within frames like this:


And the interchangeability of the clothesline frame:


I'm not sure which route I'll go yet.  Though in my searches, I have also been looking for picture frames, of suitable size and quality for my long term needs.  I've found quite a few that I like through The Picture Frame Guys, who specialize in custom framing and matting.  If you like photography, home decor or anything about frames, you really should check out their site.  They have a wide array of beautiful frames like these:


I just love the bright colors!  I'd love to use these for artwork in my kids' room!

The other useful thing about their website is that they have a whole section for resources, Ideas for framing, photography, and more to help you in your photographic journey (whether that be taking pictures or framing them!).  Also make sure that you check out their FAQ, which answers many questions about their services.  Also, as a major bonus, if you're an artist, a gallery, an institution, they have special deals for commercial customers.

I'll make sure to let you know what I end up with, and of course lots of pictures!!!

Friday, April 26, 2013

I'm so Lucky- The Sugar &; Spice Vox Box is Mine!

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I am so excited to share with the world that I am an Influenster!  It's a great program in which real people write reviews and give their opinions, share coupons and great deals and test new products.  I recently got to take part in their VoxBox program, which sent me an awesome orange box that they have named the Sugar n' Spice VoxBox.  I was so excited to see this box arrive on my porch that I almost forgot to take a picture of it!!!



When I opened it up, I found an amazing array of products that I've never tried before and I'm so excited to share them with you today and to give you my opinions on all of them!!



The first thing I tried out of my VoxBox was the Belvita Breakfast Biscuits.  I was super excited when i saw they were in my favorite breakfast flavor, Brown Sugar Cinnamon.


I had them first thing the next morning with my morning coffee.  I thought they were excellent.  I paired them with a ruby red grapefruit, and the whole combo was divine!  Belvita is lucky that i took my pictures BEFORE I tasted them, or they wouldn't have been in any picture at all!!



I almost forgot to mention that my coffee this morning also featured a product from the Sugar n' Spice VoxBox, the Nectresse Sweetener! I normally don't like sweeteners, such as Sweet n' Low, Equal, or other equal varieties, and the reason for that is because they have this weird aftertaste that is almost too sweet for me. I would just rather use sugar. Nectresse is made from Monk Fruit, instead of from the Cane or Beet sugar varieties that we are used to. I loved the fact that it didn't have the overly sweet aftertaste and felt that it was a good exchange for my normal sugar in my coffee.



The next thing that i tried out of my VoxBox was the Vaseline Spray and Go lotion.  I wasn't sure why the application of lotion had to change, and wasn't sure how well this sort of lotion would work.  The first time I tried it, I felt it was pointless.  I was trying to hold up a pant leg and spray my leg and then spread it and it wasn't much easier for me at all.  I sat around thinking about the merit of this lotion and realized that it was better for a large range application.  If you just need to apply lotion to your hands, this isn't the lotion for you.  I tried the lotion again, this time after a shower, before clothing.  I found I was able to cover my whole body in a very short period of time and wasn't left feeling greasy at all.  I feel like this lotion is a great summer time lotion, meant for the season of bikinis or also very handy after a shower.  I don't spend very much time in bikinis or scantily clad, so this lotion probably won't remain in my house as a permanent fixture.



The next thing that I tried out of my VoxBox were the Dickinson's Oil Controlling Towelettes. I sampled one just to see what it would feel like and what sort of application they would have in my life. What I discovered was a simply blissful moment in which my face felt clean and glowing. As always, I thought about what part of my life these would fit into, and if they would have their own defining place and I saw it almost immediately. These awesome little towels made their way into my Bicycle bag, for a refreshing blast from heat and sweat during the summer. Now, if the weather would just warm up, I know I would be using these every day!



The last set of items from my VoxBox was the Colgate Optic White toothpaste, toothbrush and mouthwash. This was the part of my VoxBox that I had the most fun with. I had just recently bought some whitening strips that worked ok, but they burned my gums and I was eager to see how well the Colgate Optic White system worked. I ran an experiment in which I brushed every day, morning and night with the Colgate Optic White toothpaste and followed that with a rinse from the Optic White mouthwash. The toothpaste has a pleasant enough taste, and it foams up really nice to expand between the teeth. It also has that strange viscous texture that forms in your mouth when you're using any other whitening product. The mouthwash, however, is a totally different story. Man, it burns! I'm not even sure that "burning" is the right adjective for the mouthwash, it stings, burns, and brings tears to your eyes. I found that if I just kept it in the front of my mouth, away from my cheeks and tongue that it was more tolerable than if you swished it around in your mouth like a normal mouthwash. The results, however, are well worth the pain and suffering, as you can see in my horribly cheesy video below:


 Overall, I loved my Sugar n' Spice VoxBox and there are several items that I received that i would love to purchase again, and really only one item that i wouldn't. I would like to give a big thanks to Influenster for giving me the opportunity to try these items and for giving them to me free for reviewing purposes!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Born To Read- Another Great Reading Resource!

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If you can't tell, this week, my theme is reading.  Whether you're reading to your baby or to your child is reading to you, literacy is one of the most important things in a young childs life!  We need to all put forth the effort to raise our children to be the best they can be!
If you haven’t heard of this resource yet, you really need to!  There’s this great initiative put forth by the American Library Association’s “Association for Library Service to Children” called “Born to Read.”  It’s this awesome resource that gives you all sorts of great ideas for books to read by age, story time suggestions and much more.  I’m going to be writing a lot about some of the resources they have in the coming weeks/months.  I found this great list of books to read aloud sorted by age group/development milestone.

Books with sharp color contrasts


Color vision is not well developed at birth. This is why pictures in books with high contrast are the best choice when the goal is to interest infants in visual stimuli.

Black and white books

What Does Baby See? by Begin Smart Books. Begin Smart, 2009
Black & White by Tana Hoban. Greenwillow, 2007
What is That? by Tana Hoban. Greenwillow, 1994
Look at the Animals! by Peter Linenthal. Dutton Children's Books, 2006
I Kissed the Baby! by Mary Murphy. Candlewick, 2004

Books with bright colors

My Car by Byron Barton. Greenwillow Books, 2001
Where is Maisy? ny Lucy Cousins. Candlewick, 2010
Look at Baby's House by Peter Linenthal. Dutton Children's Books, 2008
Quiet Loud by Leslie Patricelli. Candlewick, 2003
The Okay Book by Todd Parr. Little, Brown, 2004.

Faces

Babies are born predisposed to find faces interesting. Research has shown that an infant pays attention to human faces longer than anything else.

American Babies by Global Fund for Children. Charlesbridge, 2010
Baby Faces: Eat! by Roberta Grobel Intrater. Scholastic, 2002
Baby Faces: Smile! by Roberta Grobel Intrater. Scholastic, 1997
Baby Faces: Splash! by Roberta Grobel Intrater. Scholastic, 2002
Baby Faces by Margaret Miller. Little Simon, 2009
Clap Hands by Helen Oxenbury. Little Simon, 1999

Common objects to identify (first words)

Infants are most interested in pictures of familiar things. Picture books that pair a picture of a single object with a word help children to learn new vocabulary.

Baby's First Words by Vic Heatherton. Hinkler Books Pty Ltd., distributed by Ideals Publications, 2008
Words by Katie Cox. Make Believe Ideas Ltd, 2009
My Food (Getting to Know My World) by Heidi Johansen. Power Kids Press, 2008
Baby Bathtime by Dawn Serit. DK Publishing, c2010
My First Learning Library (My 1st Board Books) by Jane Yorke. DK Preschool, 2004 (first published 2001)
Early Learning Fun Words by Roger Priddy. Priddy, 2010

Concepts

Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang. Greenwillow, 1983
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Philomel, 1981
Freight Train by Donald Crews. Greenwillow, 1978
Flaptastic Sizes by DK Publishing. DK Preschool, 2009
I Can Eat a Rainbow by Annabel Karmel. DK Preschool, 2009
My Shapes/Mis Formas by Rebecca Emberley. Little Brown, 2000
Kids Like Me Learn Colors by Laura Ronay. Woodbine, 2009
Kids Like Me Learn ABCs by Laura Ronay. Woodbine, 2009

Daily routines

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd. HarperCollins, 1947
Time for Bed by Mem Fox and illustrated by Jane Dyer. Harcourt, 1993
Uh-oh! by Rachel Isadora. Harcourt, 2008
Ten Tiny Babies by Karen Katz. McElderry, 2008
Baby Face: A Book of Love for Baby by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Diane Goode. Simon & Schuster, 2008
Brush, Brush, Brush (Rookie Toddler) by Scholastic Inc. and illustrated by Alicia Padron. Children's Press, 2010
Bye-Bye, Mommy (Rookie Toddler) by Scholastic Inc. Children's Press, 2009

Nursery rhymes

The Neighborhood Mother Goose by Nina Crews. Greenwillow Books, 2004
Hey Diddle Diddle by Moira Kemp. The Child's World, 2010
Humpty Dumpty by Annie Kubler. Child’s Play (International), 2010

Books to manipulate

As soon as they are able, young children are "hands-on" learners. Using books that they can rattle, touch and feel, lift-the-lap, etc. engages their senses and adds interest.

Touch and feel

Animals Talk by Emily Bolam. Tiger Tales, 2010
Colors by Emily Bolam. Tiger Tales, 2009
Counting by Emily Bolam. Tiger Tales, 2008
Bathtime (Touch and Feel) by DK Publishing. DK Preschool, 2009
Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt. Golden, 2001
Bright Baby Bilingual Touch & Feel: Words (Bright Baby Touch & Feel) by Roger Priddy. New York: Priddy Books, 2008
I Like Bugs by Lorena Siminovich. Templar, 2010
That's not My Puppy: It's Coat is too Hairy by Fiona Watt and illustrated by Rachel Wells. Usborne Books, 2001

Lift-the-flap

Peek-a-Moo by Marie Torres Cimarusti. Dutton, 1998
Mommy, Where Are You? by Leonid Gore. Atheneum, 2009
Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill. Putnam, 1980
Where is Baby's Puppy? by Karen Katz. Little Simon, 2011

Playful language

When adults read books with playful language, they encourage their young listeners to to play with the sounds of language too. This play supports language development and phonological awareness.

Sputter, Sputter, Sput! by Babs Bell and illustrated by Bob Staake. HarperCollins, 2008
Perfect Piggies: A Book! A Song!: A Celebration by Sandra Boynton. Workman, 2010
The Baby Goes Beep by Rebecca O'Connell and illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max. Albert Whitman & Company, 2010
Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Harcourt, 2007

American Sign Language

Many families of hearing infants want to help their babies to communicate wants and needs with signs as a temporary bridge to oral language development. American Sign Language is important for the Deaf community and for hearing children who will be communicating with Deaf relatives or friends.

My First Signs (Signing Smart) by Michelle Anthony. Cartwheel Books, 2009
What Do You See? (Signing Smart) by Michelle Anthony. Cartwheel Books, 2009
Teach Your Baby to Sign: An Illustrated Guide to Simple Sign Language for Babies by Monica Beyer.
Fair Winds Press, 2007

Diversity

To build a positive sense of self, children need to see themselves, their families and their cultural traditions in the books we read to them.

Global Babies Global Fund for Children. Charlesbridge, 2010
Fruits of India by Jill Hartley. Tara Books, 2010
My First Ramadan by Karen Katz. Henry Holt & Co, 2007
Mommy, Mama, and Me and Daddy, Papa, and Me by Leslea Newman and illustrated by Carol Thompson. Tricycle, 2009
I Can, Can You? by Marjorie Pitzer. Woodbine, 2004
Fiesta Babies by Carmen Tafolla and illustrated by Amy Cordova. Tricycle Press, c2010
Yum Yum Dim Sum by Amy Wilson Sanger. Tricycle Press, 2003

Stories to share

A Splendid Friend, Indeed by Suzanna Bloom. Boyds Mills, 2007
Barnyard Banter by Denise Fleming. Holt, 1994
Tip Tip Dig Dig by Emma Garcia. Boxer, 2007
A Good Day by Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow, 2007
Guess How Much I Love You? by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram. Candlewick, 2008
Clip-Clop by Nicola Smee. Boxer, 2006
Whose Chick Are You? by Nancy Tafuri. Greenwillow, 2007
Wee Little Lamb by Lauren Thompson. Simon & Schuster, 2009
Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and illustrated by Patrick Benson. Candlewick, 1992
Read to Your Bunny by Rosemary Wells. Scholastic, 1998
I Went Walking by Sue Williams and illustrated by Julie Vivas. Harcourt, 1990
“More, More, More,” Said the Baby by Vera Williams. Greenwillow, 1990
Who Likes Rain? by Wong Herbert Yee. Holt, 2007



Saturday, April 13, 2013

Be Educated! Reading is Fundamental!

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Now as you might remember, I'm huge into reading.  I love reading myself, I love reading to my kids, and now that my little gal is not so little, she's starting to read to me!  I think it's important that every child be given the best chance possible to succeed in literacy and have been on a kick recently with sharing my favorite resources.  Today, I'm here to tell you about a website called "Reading is Fundamental".

They are a great non profit organization that helps fund programs to get kids excited about and ready to learn to read.  They have helped found many community run organizations designed to develop children's interest in reading by providing them with free books, activities and much more!   They have great brochures and tip sheets to help develop great readers! 

My favorite part of the website is their activities page, which gives you a huge list of different activities all designed to engage your children in reading in the best ways possible!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Getting Ready to Garden: 6 Things You Should Do

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I'm so happy that it's finally getting warmer!  With the warmer weather will come green, green, green!  I have big, fun plans for this summer in my garden, but right now, it still looks pretty brown!

I always have a hard time starting with my gardening, but it seems like such an overwhelming task.  This year, I've made a list of the top 5 things you should do to get your garden started off well.  (I'm going through the list still on my garden!)

1)  Clean up your beds.  They're covered in dead leaves, sticks and other random trash.  You never know what you'll find under all of that dead stuff.

Here's the day lilies peeking out!





2) Nip weeds in the bud.  You're going to find that a lot of the hardy summer weeds are starting now, and if you can get them (and their roots) out before they really take hold, you'll be very thankful later on.

All cleaned out!

3) Research new plants (or fruits/vegetables) to grow in your garden.  Make sure you know what temperatures they can handle, when they will be ready for harvest and when you need to put them in your beds.  Order your seeds and have a list of plants you will need to buy.

This year I ordered some fun specialty seeds to try:



4) Start saving seedling containers (if you haven't already).  Some creative solutions are Newspaper Seed Pods, Egg Shell starters, toilet paper tube starters, egg cartons,  yogurt containers, milk jugs, or pop or water bottles.



5) Start working on your soil.  After you've cleared up those beds from weeds and grass, start tilling the ground, testing the soil as you go to make sure it's ready to handle those plants that you want to put in this year.  If you need to add fertilizer, now is a great time to do so.

6)  Start thinking pest control.  If you're like me, you probably have a couple of garden pests that you need to worry about.  My two big ones are bunnies and Japanese beetles.  I'm going to make a longer post about it, but I'll tell you I use sweet lures and plants that the beetles don't like to keep them away, and I use a pheromone spay to keep the bunnies away.


This year, I hopefully will have a new garden bed.  I still have to call and have our gas lines marked to see if it's even possible, but here's the before and the plan for the garden if I'm able to do it.  If not, it may just become a container garden, just because I feel like that area needs something!





Do you have big plans for your garden this year?  Do you have gardening questions that you would like answered?  If so, leave a comment below!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Table Topper Doily {crochet pattern}

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Table Topper Doily


Blocked Size:          18"
Materials:  1.75 steel crochet hook, size 10 crochet thread


Special Stitches
Picot: ch 4, sc in 4th ch from hook.
Beginning shell (bshell): Slip stitch to center of shell or next ch-2 space, work (ch 3, dc, ch 2, 2 dc). 
Shell: work (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in space or stitch
Beginning shell increase (bshell inc): Slip stitch to center of shell or next ch-2 space, work (ch 3, dc, ch 2, 2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc). 
Shell increase (shell inc): Slip stitch to center of shell or next ch-2 space, work (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc).
 
Pattern
R1:  Ch 8, sl st in first ch to form ring, ch 3 (counts as first dc), 23 dc in ring, sl st to top of beginning ch 3. (24 dc) 
R2:  Ch 4 (counts as first dc and ch 1), * dc in next dc, ch 1; repeat from * around, join to 3rd ch of beginning ch 4. 
R3:  Ch 3, dc in next ch-2 sp, (2 dc in next ch-1 sp) around, join to top of beginning ch 3. (48 dc)
R4:  Ch 3, * 2 dc in next dc, dc in next dc; repeat from * around, ending 2 dc in last st, join. (72) 
R5:  Ch 3, dc in same st, ch 2, skip 2 sts, * 2 dc in next st, ch 2, skip 2 sts; repeat from * around, join. (24 ch-2 sps) 
R6:  bshell (see Special Stitiches), shell (see Special Stitiches) in each sp around, join. (24 shells)
R7:  bshell, * shell in next shell; repeat from  * around, join. 
R8:  bshell, * ch 1, shell in next shell; repeat  from * around ending last repeat with ch 1, join. 
R9:  bshell, * ch 2, shell in next shell; repeat from * around ending last repeat with ch 2, join. 
R10: bshell, * ch 3, shell in next shell;  repeat from * around ending last repeat with ch 3, 
join.
R11:  bshell, * ch 4, (2dc, ch 5, 2 dc) in next shell, ch 4, ** shell in next shell; repeat from *around ending last repeat at **, join. 
R12:  bshell, * ch 3, 9 tr in ch-5 sp, ch 3 **,  shell in shell; repeat from * around, ending last repeat at **, join. 
R13:  bshell, * ch 2, tr in first tr of 9-tr group, (ch 1, tr in next tr) 8 times, ch 2 **, shell in next shell; repeat from * around, ending last repeat at **, join. 
R14:  bhell, * ch 3, sc in first ch-1 sp, (ch 3, sc in next ch-1 sp) 7 times [7 loops], ch 3 **, shell in next shell; repeat from * around, ending last repeat at **, join. 
R15:  bhell, * ch 3, sc in first ch-1 sp, (ch 3, sc in next ch-1 sp) 6 times [6 loops], ch 3 **, shell in next shell; repeat from * around, ending last repeat at **, join. 
R16:  bshell inc (see Special Stitches), * ch 3, skip next sp, sc in next ch-3 sp, (ch 3, sc in next ch-3 sp) 5 times [5 loops], ch 3 **, shell inc (see Special Stitches) in next shell; repeat from * around, ending last repeat at **, join. 
R17:  bshell, * ch 2, shell in next ch-2 sp, ch 3, skip next sp, sc in next ch-3 sp, (ch 3, sc in next ch-3 sp) 4 times [4 loops], ch 3 **, shell in next ch-2 sp; repeat from * around, ending last repeat at **, join. 
R18:  bshell, * shell in next ch-2 sp, shell in shell, ch 3, (sc in next ch-3 sp, ch 3) 4 times [3 loops], shell in shell; repeat from * around, join. 
R19:  bshell, * ch 2, (2 dc, ch 5, 2 dc) in next shell, * ch 2, shell in shell, ch 3, (sc in next ch-3 sp, ch 3) 3 times [2 loops], shell in shell; repeat from * around, join. 
R20:  bshell, * ch 3, 9 tr in ch-5 sp, ch 3, shell in shell, ch 3, (sc in next ch-3 sp, ch 3) 2 times [1 loop], ch 3, shell in shell; repeat from * around, join. 
R21:  bshell, * ch 3, (tr, ch 1) in each tr, ch 3, shell in shell, ch 3, sc in ch-3 sp, ch 3, shell in shell; repeat from * around, join.  
R22:  bshell, * ch 3, sc in next ch-3 sp next to tr, ch 3, (sc, in next ch-1 sp, ch 3) 8 times [9 loops], sc in next ch-3 sp close to tr, ch 3, (shell in shell) twice; repeat from * around, join. 
R23:  bshell, ch 3, (sc in next ch-3 sp, ch 3) 9 times [8 loops], (shell in shell) twice; repeat from* around, join. 
R24:  bshell, ch 3, (sc in next ch-3 sp, ch 3) 8 times [7 loops], shell in shell, ch 2, shell in shell; repeat from * around, join. 
R25:  bshell, * ch 3, (sc in next ch-3 sp, ch 3) 7 times [6 loops], shell in shell, ch 5, shell in shell; repeat from * around, join.    
R26: bshell, * ch 3, (sc in next ch-3 sp, ch 3) 6 times [5 loops], shell in shell, ch 2, (shell in 3rd ch of ch-5 sp), ch 2, shell in shell; repeat from * around, join. 
R27:  bshell, * ch 3, (sc in next ch-3 sp, ch 3) 5 times [4 loops], (shell in shell, shell in ch-2 sp) 2 times, shell in shell; repeat from * around, join. 
R28:  bshell, * ch 3, (sc in next ch-3 sp, ch 3) 4 times [3 loops], shell in shell, ch 2, (shell in shell ch 1) 2 times, shell in shell, ch 2, shell in shell; repeat from * around, join. 
R29:  bshell, * ch 3, (sc in next ch-3 sp, ch 3) 3 times [2 loops], shell in shell, ch 2, ([dc in next dc] 2 times.  In next ch-2 sp work {2dc, ch 2, 2 dc} dc in next 2 dc) 3 times, ch 2, shell in shell; repeat from * around, join. 
R30: bshell, * ch 3, (sc in next ch-3 sp, ch 3) 2 times [1 loop], shell in shell, ch 2, dc in next dc ([dc in next dc] 3 times.  In next ch-2 sp work {2dc, ch 2, 2 dc} dc in next 3 dc) 3 times, dc in next dc, ch 2, shell in shell; repeat from * around, join. 
R31: bshell, * ch 3, sc in ch-3 loop, ch 3, shell in shell, ch 1, turn. 
R32:  bshell, shell in shell, ch 1 turn. 
R33:  Sl st to ch-2 sp, 2 dc in last dc of 1st shell, picot (see Special Stitches), 2 dc in 1st dc of next shell, sl st in ch-2 sp, finish off. 
Repeat R31-33 to finish off all pineapples, block.
Blocking the Doily






 

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