Friday, September 30, 2011

an easy halloween vignette {and my first vlog ever!}

{click above to see my first vlog ever.  please excuse my awkwardness and please also excuse the plane that flies over in the middle of it!!}

I took some photos of my little Halloween vignette that you can see below.  The lighting in this room isn't the best, and my phone ended up taking better pics than my big camera, so I apologize for the the photo quality!  Better than nothing, I guess! 

I hope you like it and I hope I inspired you to do a little seasonal decorating, or at least made you laugh at my silly little vlog!  Happy weekend!! 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

scaling back, slowing down and some instagram love

Fall is usually crazy around here.  We have the back to school schedule, then there's soccer, Scouts, and football.  Oh yeah, and Halloween and hosting Thanksgiving and ramping up for Christmas, at home and in the shop.

But not this year.  We have purposely made some decisions to scale back our "busyness".  Reid was feeling lukewarm about whether to play soccer, so out it went.  We didn't renew our season Charger tickets.  We are home more, together more and just a little bit more relaxed than previous years.  It's nice.  We hang out in the front yard and swing in the tree and throw the football.  We've been decorating for Halloween.  I have time to be more creative and I have time to sit on the floor and play Thomas with the kids.  There is no crazy rush and we are not all at the end of our rope with exhaustion.  Every family is different, but it's been good for us.

On another note, about a month ago, we got iPhones {finally!!} and I am completely smitten with the instagram app.  I'm sure you've heard about it by now.  The cool app that makes your photos all vintage-y looking.  I thought I'd share a little peek into our day to day around here!  Here are a bunch that I've taken over the last few weeks:

Walking to school.

Newspaper article my sister-in-law mailed to me.  My brother was the speaker at his town's 9/11 memorial.  I'm really proud of him and I save these articles for the boys.

Mark built this tree swing for the boys and installed it a couple weeks ago.  It gets used daily!  Even my mom swings in it!


Gerbera's and wine my honey brought home one day last week.

He wanted to go to the pool.  How can you say no when he comes around the corner with those on?

Putting away laundry.  I am always washing, drying, folding, putting away.  I hardly ever see the bottom of the laundry basket.  It refills itself!

Family movie night!


Pedi with my mom.  It's clear where I got my ridiculously long toes...

That boy loooves to read.

Reid's journal. 

New Star Wars jammies from my mom.  He said he slept better. lol!! 

This is how I find Sam every morning.  When I came downstairs this morning, his face was under the blanket!

My favorite breakfast.  Biscuits and gravy, the old school way.  Hello clogged arteries!!


What about you?  Do you use Instagram?  Is there any iPhone app that you can't live without?  I would love to hear!

Monday, September 26, 2011

paint chip & book page pennant

Remember how I told you in last week's post that I felt Reid's study was lacking a bit of color?  Well, I got a little inspiration from Pinterest and decided to make a quick banner to brighten it up a bit.

I think it adds a fun, whimsical vibe to the room.

I just used mini clothespins to attach the paint chips to the twine.  For the book pages, I cut some pages from a book I was done with, folded the pages in half and cut out a triangle shape which fit neatly over the twine.  I added a piece of double stick tape to keep the book page pennant sides together.

I think that the paint tags look like little colorful lanterns and of course the book page pennants go with the whole "study room" feel.

  This little DIY was quick, easy and free which makes it a total home run in my book!


If you are looking for some other paint chip projects, check out these too...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

sunshine polishing cloths: free for all!!

Well hey there!  Happy Thursday!!  Just thought I'd pop in with a bit of business news.  I wanted to let you guys know that the sunshine polish cloths that are sold in the shop are now being sent with every order at no charge.  Woot!  Free stuff!! 

I get a lot of emails and questions about how to care for your necklaces and bracelets and I always refer back to the sunshine polish cloth.  It is the best thing I have found and it will last {cue sand lot boy}. 

Already placed an order?  Not to worry, I am not leaving you out in the cold!  Why should you be punished with no freebie, right?!  If you already own a {starfish} piece, please email me with your ship to address and "sunshine" in the subject of your email.  I will send a free one out to the first 20. 


{Side note:: I am counting on honestly here.  I am not asking for your order number or anything like that, but pleeeeease don't email me if you've actually never bought a piece from me.  That would totally punish the people who really did and might leave someone out in the cold who needs to polish up their bling}

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

croque monsieur

Croque Monsieur

Ever had a Croque Monsieur?  No?  Well, let me introduce you to the Rolls Royce of ham and cheese sandwiches.  This is not your granny's ham and cheese.  Elegant, rich and super cheesy, this is the ham and cheese to make right before you tell your husband you crashed the car.  Or bought this purse.  Not that I would condone manipulating your husband with food.  But, if you were going to do it, which of course I would totally advise against {ahem}, this would be the sandwich to do that with...

Serve these alongside a simple spinach or arugula salad and you're done.

This recipe is from the ever amazing Barefoot Contessa.  It is one of many sinfully good recipes in her Barefoot in Paris cookbook.  You can also find it on her website here.  I copied it below and inserted a few of my own notes as well.

Ready to cook?  Me too.


Here is what you'll need:
{side note: these sandwiches are on the petite side, so serve 1-2 per person.  this recipe will yield 8 petite sandwiches}

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated {5 cups}
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
Dijon mustard
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes.  {This will eliminate the raw flour taste.  just be careful not to brown the butter.}  Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture {I find it helpful to add the milk in batches} and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened.  {It should have the consistency of heavy cream}.  Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.

To toast the bread, place the slices on two baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes.  Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.

Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice {or two} of ham to each, and sprinkle with half of the remaining Gruyere.  Top with another piece of toasted bread.  Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes.  Turn on the broiler and broil for 3-5 minutes until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned.  Serve hot.


{if you would like to check out more of my recipe posts, I have added a "recipes" category to the right so they are all in one easy to find spot.  happy cooking!}

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

reid's study: {almost} done!


For the past month or so I have been working on turning our sunroom into a homework study for Reid.  I'd still like to add a few more touches, but it's mostly done and I think I've learned that I'm never really done with any room in the house anyway!

Instead of using the desks along the wall, I placed them back to back so two people can work in the study together.

This room opens up right off of our Dining Room, so I had to be careful to make it sophisticated and classic enough to be right in the middle of the house, but fun and young enough to be a children's study. I framed some of Reid's artwork and leaned it on the cabinet for a bit of color and whimsy.

I shopped the house for quite a bit of the pieces in the room and only ended up having to purchase a few things.  The lamps are from Restoration Hardware a few years back.  They used to live in our bedroom.  The chairs used to reside in my workshop. 

Dumping all the crayons in a big bin seems to be the easiest way for Reid to find what he needs.

Reid calls this room "his office", lol.

The grey pillow, backpack basket and corkboard were all shopped from other rooms in the house.  The little black nightstand in the corner used to be in our entry and it lived in my workshop before that. 

I would like to add just a bit more color into the room...maybe a pennant banner {or a few} strung along the back wall in front of the drapes?  Or add some colorful new lampshades?  Any ideas?


Large Black Cabinet: Craigs List
Grey Pillow: Target
Backpack Basket: Target
Corkboard: Pottery Barn {old}
Black Nightstand: Trappings Home
Lamps and Shades: Restoration Hardware {old}
Crayon Bin: Container Store
Sconce: Lowes
Drapery Panels: Ikea
Drapery Rods: Lowes
Paint: Restoration Hardware, Slate

Monday, September 19, 2011

sunflowers and colored pencils...

Hey there!  It's Monday!!  Happy fresh new start to a brand new week!!

I thought I'd share a quick little project from last week.  I wanted to take a little gift to Reid's teacher for back to school night last week, so I visited my new bff Pinterest for a little inspiration.  I found a few great inspiration pins and then tweaked a bit until I came up with this:

Cute, right?  And, easy and cheap too.  My kind of project.

I added a little cardstock tag and used rubber stamps to add the teacher's name, then tied it to the main ribbon with baker's twine.  I used a cut wine bottle for the vase so that she could reuse it as a cup for the colored pencils.  I had everything on hand but the flowers.  Total cost: $3.99.  Woot.

You can find my original inspiration and a tutorial {here}.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

here we go again...

It's September and we are in full swing back to school mode around here.  Schedules and routines and homework and freshly sharpened pencils and lunch packing....

Reid started 2nd grade this year.  We are fortunate that his first grade teacher looped up and his entire class looped up with her.  So there is a lot of familiarity and comfort and that has helped the last week go very smoothly.

I typically spend the day before the first day of school trying not to cry or vomit and then I don't sleep at all the night before.  I don't do well with milestones.  It's an acknowledgement that time is passing and they are growing up.  No thank you.  I would like to just pass on that part.

Then, like every other mom on the planet, I wear my camera and stalk my child the entire morning for the first day of school. I couldn't resist looking back on the past three years.

This was last week:

and here is 1st grade:

and here is Kindergarten...

 Ugh.  It's heartwrenching for me to look at.  I tell you, sometimes I wish I could just bottle them up just the way they are keep the time from passing. 

But I can't.  So, I am going to enjoy this season of childhood. 

This season is filled with Star Wars obsession, spending hours studying Halloween costume catalogs trying  to decide just what to be this year, still being a little afraid of the dark, still crawling into Mom and Dad's bed a few days a week.  It's a time full of learning how to be a good friend and learning what means to have character.  Playing four square after school and then coming home to retreat for hours to build legos and read books.  Still kissing his Mama and his brother, even in front of his friends.  He still wants to hold my hand and he still wants to talk to me nonstop about everything under the moon and for all those things, I am grateful.

It's a good season and I am going to soak it all up.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

paper studio {winner!!!}

Thanks to everyone who entered the fab giveaway courtesy of the Paper Studio!!

The winner of the $25 shop credit is...

M. Geiger!!


{as always, winner chosen via}

Friday, September 2, 2011

the paper studio {a giveaway!!!}

I am so excited because guess what?  Well, it's Friday, but also...I have another giveaway for you today!! 


Have you heard of The Paper Studio yet??

Check out these fantastic handmade invitations:

Halloween Party Invitations (Pumpkin) - printed on kraft card stock w/matching kraft envelopes (12)

and this one too:

Birthday Party Invitations (Mustache) - printed on kraft card stock w/matching kraft envelopes (12)
{just for the record, I am totally on board with the whole trendy mustache theme}

And even though I always host Thanksgiving, I have never sent out an official invite, but I love the idea!

Thanksgiving Dinner Invitations (Give Thanks) - printed on kraft card stock w/matching kraft envelopes (12)

And, honestly at $2 an invite {including envelopes!}, it's hard to resist!!  Pretty soon I'll be sending out paper invites for play dates!  Ha!

Check out these sweet birth announcements:

Baby Announcements (Boy) - printed on kraft card stock w/matching kraft envelopes (12)

Doesn't that just make you want to have another baby?  {okay, well, to be honest, I wanted another one even before I saw that}

And this one too:

Baby Announcements (Girl) - printed on kraft card stock w/matching kraft envelopes (12)

So, are you ready to win??

The Paper Studio is giving away $25 worth of shop credit to one lucky reader!!  Yippee!!  All you need to do is visit The Paper Studio's Etsy shop and leave a comment below with your favorite item!

Winner will be announced here next Wednesday!!

Good luck!!
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