Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sharpie Doodle Easter Eggs

Is it just me?  Maybe I'm an Easter egg decorating scrooge, but I am just not into dyeing Easter eggs.  I like to decorate and be creative, but the mess of the dye just doesn't do it for me.  After the actual dye process is over, the mess isn't.  You have to keep the eggs in the fridge so they don't go bad and smell, but the cold makes the condensation bead up on the eggs and the dye seems to come off on everything it touches.  So this year I decided to come up with a new way to decorate eggs.  A couple of years ago we created a few different Mod Podge Easter Eggs

This year I decided to use a simple Sharpie marker to decorate my eggs.  I was so excited to find these plastic decorating eggs.  You can even dye them and no refrigeration needed!  Only $2 at Walmart.  I don't know about your family, but after my kids are done hiding and finding their Easter eggs for half the morning, there's no way we are going to eat them anyways.  Not sure how well they will last, but hopefully we will be able to use these eggs again next year too! 

Now back to the decorating.  I'm really not any kind of artist, but it was so much fun to just doodle these eggs with a Sharpie.  Flowers, swirls, paisleys, dots, monograms, waves, chevrons, anything goes. 

I used both black and metallic gold Sharpies to do my doodling.  I actually went back and bought a bunch of Sharpies in all types of spring colors for my girls to do some doodling too.

My Little Love Bug Easter Egg! 

I had so much fun decorating that I couldn't stop.  I had to go back to Walmart for another 12 pack of eggs so the girls would have some to decorate as well.  Let your imagination go and start doodling!

You may also like:

Tutu Easter Basket

Mod Podge Easter Eggs

Easter Basket Gift Ideas

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sleepover & Craft Party with American Girl Fleece sleeping Bags

A few months ago we celebrated my daughter's 8th birthday.  She had her heart set on a sleepover party, but I wasn't quite ready to have that many little girls sleep over, especially when we had a busy day planned for the next day.  We did compromise with a pajama party and having one little friend stay over for the night.  It worked out great. 

I wanted to have plenty of crafts and projects for the girls to do and we went with the pajama party theme.  While the girls were waiting for everyone to arrive, I gave them yarn and bowls of fruit loop cereal to make their own cereal necklaces.  We tied the strings and the girls were able to snack on them throughout the night. 

When it was time to eat, the girls were able to make their own creations at our Cereal Bar. 
We had a choice of yogurt or milk as a base and lots of cereals to pick from and mix. I let the girls choose their own toppings of dried fruits, chocolate chips, marshmallows, and berries.  Lots of interesting concoctions were made.  I served other fruit on the side as well as donut hole kabobs.  How fun are they!  I found these sprinkle rolled chocolate donut holes.  I simple stuck two of them on the end of a skewer.  The girls loved them, of course.

Everyone had their own drink and snack bottle as well.  That way no one would lose their cup.  I found these at the dollar store and the bottom unscrews to hold a little snack.  The girls picked their favorite juice and filled the bottom with extra cereal.  I wrote their names on their cups before they got there with a paint pen.  They could take these home after the party for a little favor.

After our Cereal Bar dinner, the girls celebrated and sang Happy Birthday with our Rice Krispie Sleepover Bed Cake!  It was really yummy and a fun change from traditional cake.  Easy to make too!

A craft all the girls made were these Washer Washi Necklaces.  I had a bunch of stickers and some washi tape that they used to decorate some washers any way they wanted to .  I attached a length of ribbon to make it a necklace.  All of them had their own way of decorating.

They also got to decorate small wooden jewelry boxes that I found at JoAnns for $1.  They used paints, washi tape, and stickers to decorate them.  Again you could see how different everyone was in how they chose to use the supplies. 

The girls also made their own flip flops.  I had precut tons of small strips of tulle.  The girls simply tied the strips on to their flip flops creating little poofs of fun however they wished. 

The final and best project were the fleece sleeping bags we made for their dolls and stuffed animals.  I precut two pieces of fleece.  I chose two coordinating fabrics, one for the front and a different one for the back.  The front piece should measure 20 in x 18 in.  The back piece should measure 28 in x 18 in.  I laid the two pieces of fabric on top of each other.  I cut out a piece of cardboard 3.5 in x 3.5 in to use as a guide.  I cut out the bottom two corners of both pieces of fabric. 

Afterwards, I cut fringe across the bottom and up both sides.  The cuts were 1 inch apart, and 3.5 inches long, making them the same length as the cuts in the corners. 

At the party, each girl took their fleece pieces and tied the front and back pieces together.  Be sure to start at one end making your way across so that the right pieces stay matched up together.  If you have older girls, I'm sure they could do the whole process themselves, but I knew having it ready to tie would be much more age appropriate for this group. 

My hubby and our smallest dog even got into helping with the tying process. 

After tying all the front and back pieces together, we tied the remaining pieces from the back into their own knot to make it look uniform. 

The Fleece Sleeping Bags turned out great and were the perfect size for an American Girl doll or any favorite stuffed animal.  The sleeping bags as well as all of the other crafts we made were great party favors to take home.  I found some reusable bags that the girls could use to take home all of their crafts.  The important thing is that my daughter had a great time celebrating her birthday with friends.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Rice Krispie Sleepover Cake

A couple of months ago, my middle daughter celebrated her 8th birthday!  She was very excited about her party and wanted to have a bunch of her little friends spend the night.  I wasn't sure if I was really ready for that.  We decided to compromise with a pajama and crafts party, but without the overnight stuff.  I'll share more about the party later.  

My daughter decided she didn't want a traditional cake.  We discussed cookies and brownies and finally settled on making a cake out of rice krispie treats!  I didn't want to just make small treats, but make it into an actual cake.  I started by following the directions on the back of a Rice Krispies cereal box.  After mixing all the ingredients, I pressed it into 2 - 8 x 8 inch square pans.  Allow to cool.

I made my two layer cake by stacking my layers, spreading a layer of frosting between the two to keep them in place. 

I then started to spread frosting around the outside of my cake.  You may need to add a couple of layers to cover all of the edges.  You can use store bought or homemade frosting

Now it is time to create our sleeping girls.  I used 2 large marshmallows cut in half for pillows.  I had these Wilton girl head picks that I used, but I believe that they have been discontinued.  You could also use fondant or vanilla wafers decorated with faces to use as your heads.  I added two large marshmallows for each body.  Cover with frosting so that your blanket will stick. 

I then used a Wilton Sugar Sheet as the blanket for the sleepover bed.  Just cut the sheet to the size you need.  I had a little extra on the end, so I used it to add a small stripe at the bottom of the bed to cover the edge.  It just gave it a more finished look. 

The Rice Krispie Cake was a success.  A piece was quite filling and the kids loved it.  I personally love anything with frosting on it and the rice krispie treats were a fun change.  It was easy to put together and the girls could help me make it. 

My daughter was super excited with how the Rice Krispie Cake turned out.  She had a lot of fun at her party too.  I love throwing parties, but I am super glad that birthdays only come around once a year.  Keeping a bunch of little girls entertained can be a lot of work!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Really SELF Magazine?! Who is "LAME" now?

I just came across this story about SELF Magazine making fun of a cancer survivor's tutu that she was wearing while running her first marathon.  This completely infuriates me! 

So the story is that SELF Magazine contacted Monika Allen asking if they could use her picture in one of their upcoming issues.  She excitedly agreed, hoping the story would give some publicity to her charity Glam Runner.  Allen makes tutus for runners and the money is donated to Girls on the Run San Diego.  Once the story came out, she was disappointed to find out that the magazine used her picture to make fun of running in tutus! 

Glam Runner Facebook
So not only was SELF Magazine making fun of women running marathons in tutus, they would soon learn that this particular woman was a brain cancer survivor running DURING chemo!  They have since apologized and donated to her charity, but only because they were called out on their bullying.  This magazine is supposed to be about empowering women.  How exactly are they doing this when they make fun of women running 26.2 miles!  Who cares what they wear?!  Training and running a marathon takes a TON of dedication and strength.  I can't even imagine doing it while being sick, not to mention during chemo.  How dare they judge anyone out running, just for wearing something fun and silly.  Do they really think it is a serious fashion statement?!  I fully support any woman that wants to wear a tutu if it gets them outside to run 26.2 miles, 10 miles, 5.1 miles, or even just 1 mile! 

I have run in a tutu, and while I don't believe it made me any faster, it did give me that bit of distraction to make the run more fun!  Instead of shaming women, SELF Magazine should be ashamed, for discouraging anyone from going out to run.  If it takes a tutu for someone to get out and exercise, then I say tutus for everyone!  Seems like I'm not alone.  SELF's Facebook page has gotten very popular since the story broke.  Hopefully they learn how to really support and empower women, and to me that means encouraging everyone to run and exercise no matter what motivates them to get out there!

Uncluttering your Closet for Spring

I've recently been inspired by a friend on Facebook.  She has been working on decluttering her house by filling a bag a day for 40 days!  While I know I don't have the time or dedication to work on this for 40 days straight, I'm sure I could fill 40 bags of clutter!  Whenever I start feeling the effects of stress on my life, the clutter around me is what gets to me first.  When I haven't gotten enough sleep, it's the clutter that frustrates me the most.  Clutter collects all around us.  It comes in the form of toys, kitchen gadgets, decorative items, and even clothes.

While there are many areas that I need to declutter, I've started by uncluttering my closet.  I'm hoping to make my life a bit simpler and maybe make it easier to find something to wear.  I don't really have a large chunk of time to dedicate emptying out my closet and going through it all at once, so I am doing it a section at a time.  That way the task seems a little bit less daunting.  You can work on this whenever you have a bit of extra time.  It also might help to recruit the help of an honest friend.  Some friends may trade their services for a glass of wine! 

It's now time to start the purge!  I work on a section at a time.  Start with dresses or shoes or wherever you can make the biggest impact.  You are going to be making a few piles: Keep, Maybe, Toss, and Donate.  Torn, badly stained, and damaged items should go in the toss pile.  Items that are still useful to someone, even if it's not you, can go in the donate pile.  The maybe pile is for the items you can't rule out just yet.  The keep pile is for your definites.

When critiquing your clothing, be honest.  This is where your honest friend will come in handy.  The first round will be the easiest.  First pull out all of the items that you can't believe you still have and the items in poor condition.  Next decide which items are out of style, don't fit your style or you know you just won't wear anymore.  It will feel good to get these items out of the way.  Now it's time to try on everything you have left.  Do these items still fit?  Are they flattering?  Is it still your style?  Do you feel good when you wear it?  It can be tough to toss certain items, but ask yourself what is the reason you are really holding on to it?  Go through your dresses, pants, tops, and coats.  Don't stop there.  Don't forget your bags, shoes, belts, and jewelry.  Accessories can get cluttered just like everything else. 

Once you've finished your piles, it's time to put them where they need to go.  The toss pile is easy.  The donation pile can be split even more.  Have any items that are still in style and have value?  These items may be able to be brought to a consignment store and sold, earning you a portion of the sale.  There may be a number of consignment stores in your area.  Check with the store or website for their terms.  You will also need to find out what type of items they accept and how their process works.  Another option is consignment sales.  I've participated in one called Just Between Friends, that happens twice a year.  This sale is mostly for children's clothes and items.  I've had great luck selling items that I don't need anymore and at better prices than a garage sale.  Although, a garage sale is another great option if you are uncluttering your whole house.

Have any designer items that are 10 or more years old?  You might be better to take these to a vintage store.  These type of stores have become very popular and you will probably get a better price for these type items at a specialty store.

Now, how about the rest of it?  I hate to throw out anything that might be useful to someone else.  Drives me crazy!  I've picked up items people have put in the trash, just to donate it.  Just seems so wasteful to me.  There are many options for you to donate your leftover items.  You many know  friends or family that would love to get your hand me downs.  I've received bags of kids clothes from friends and it's always like Christmas in our house going through the items to see what we can use.  If you don't know anyone personally, you might check with your church to see if they are collecting donations for anyone.  I have donated old school uniforms to my girls' school that they pass on to students that need them.  Also check in to local homeless or women's shelters to see if they are accepting items.  Warm clothing items and maybe even blankets might be needed here.  Have formal or semi-formal dresses or even a wedding dress to donate?  There are organizations such as Donate my Dress that accept donations and give them to girls who could not otherwise afford them.  You can always donate to Goodwill or Salvation Army, but there are also many smaller charities that are happy to accept your donations.

After removing your toss and donation piles, you will be left with a maybe pile.  Now is the time to be critical.  Have you worn this item in the last 6 months?  Is it something you need?  Will you actually wear it?  Does it fit correctly?  After trying them on, move them to the keep or donate pile.  Now it's time to get everything back into your closet.  Organization is the key!  I put my clothes in my closet by category.  Shirts are all in together starting with my sleeveless, light colors to dark.  Then short sleeved tops, light to dark and finally long sleeved.  Organizing by style and color will make them easier to find when you need them.  I do the same with my dresses and pants.  I've even labeled my jeans by style, so it's easier to find the right pair.  Fold sweaters and knit dresses to keep them from stretching.  I also fold my sweatshirts, t-shirts, shorts, lounge wear, and any other items that I'm not worried about wrinkling.

Organizing your shoes and accessories is just as important.  Clear plastic shoe boxes are a great way to store your shoes and are easy to stack.  You can always add a picture of the shoes on the side of the box for easy reference.  Living in Florida, I wear mostly flip flops.  I use a small hanging section of unused space as flip flop storage.  The white closet racks are perfect for this.  I have a few purses, and not as much space to keep them.  I now keep them on a top shelf in a clear plastic bin, but I have a booklet of pictures of them to reference what I have.  Sounds kind of crazy, but it does help me find the perfect purse for my outfit. 

I've also created a Hanging Scarf Organizer to keep my scarves accessible.  This also hangs in my closet, keeping the clutter out of sight.  I have an awesome full length mirror that opens to reveal a jewelry cabinet.  It is a great way to store lots of jewelry and keep it from tangling.  Other options would be a jewelry hanger that has tons of pouches for each item.  They can be hung in your closet to keep the clutter to a minimum.  If you have extra drawer space, you can also use jewelry trays to get organized. 

This whole process could take you a weekend or it could take you weeks, but you will truly feel lighter and more accomplished when you are done.  Donating and helping others may be just enough to make it worth it.  I know I feel better every time I get rid of something that I just don't need. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Gate River Run - 2014

The Gate River Run 15k in Jacksonville, FL is one of my favorite races.  This was my seventh year in a row running it.  It's not just a race, but the US national championship 15k, so there are real pros running with all of us normal people.  Not just a few normal people, but up to 20,000 of us out there running together.  It has that marathon feel with an expo and people lining the streets to cheer us on.  However, it's only 9.3 miles and very affordable unlike many marathons.

The one thing that does scare off a few people is the bridge you have to run up at about 8 miles in.  It is tough, but the way down does help you make up some time. 

Everyone that finishes gets a medal.  Top 10% of males and top 10% of females get a hat at the finish line.  Like my new pink hat?  My goal this year was to make it in the top 10%.  Thanks to trying to keep up with my little brother for the first five miles, I even beat last year's time by 5 minutes! 

After the main event, it's time for the kids to run.  My kids love to get out there to run.  Plus the medal and t-shirt they get at the finish line is definitely motivation.


This was my three year olds first time running the mile kids race.  She was excited to finally be able to get out there with her sisters.

She did great and finished the whole thing, despite trying to get me to carry her.  There may or may not be a picture on the race's website of her stopping in the middle of the street to pout because it was too far.  But she made it through in the end, and we weren't even last (just third from last!)

Looking for a new race to try?  Definitely check the River Run out.  Runners of all speeds and abilities are out there running together for that common goal.  I love the support of the people that live in the area that set up in their front yards to cheer people on.  There are bands along the course playing music for a bit of distraction.  Plus you might just be lucky enough to find generous people handing out snacks, fruit, and even beer!  I think my hubby runs it just for the sausages and beer he gets along the way.  Don't want to drink along the way, there's always free beer and snacks at the finish as well.

This race may have just ended, but I'm already looking forward to next year.  I love that my kids are always excited as well.  A fun family weekend that we can all enjoy together.