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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Don't send a search party {let's look at crafty things!}

Fear not. I'm alive!

Things have been pretty quiet here on the blog for the last 25 days. Crazy, right? I think that's the longest I've gone between blog posts, and it wasn't completely unintentional. In fact, it's been pretty nice. I was starting to hit my stress threshold and cutting back on the blog for a couple of weeks really helped me even things out and catch up on a few things I'd been slacking on.

So what exactly have I been up to? I've been spending a lot nights downstairs in my new basement craft room. If you recall, I was using a corner of the baby room as my little makeshift craft area before the baby actually arrived. Harper was born July 22nd and that's when crafting went completely out the window. No time to create crap when I'm a sleep deprived milk machine! Thankfully (and also sadly) we are out of the "newborn" stage and Harper is almost 5 months old. 5 months! She's a tad more predictable now, sleeps mostly through the night, and leaves me with (gasp) a little free time after her bedtime. I needed a new craft area, and the only place with room was in the basement. So downstairs I went.

This little corner area still needs some love but it will totally work for now. 

Let me start off by pointing out the disgusting walls. We're in a rental right now, and this extra "family room" in the basement is something else. Apparently the landlords at one point thought it would be a good idea to cover the walls (in this room only) with some crazy, plastic faux rock stuff. I feel like I'm in a stone age bomb shelter or something. Whatever. It's a room, and it's big. So big, in fact, that the other side of the room is my husband's area where he can paint & draw for work or play his guitars when I'm not around. This is also our only spare room in the house so we even fit in a futon for the few times we have overnight guests. Moving my craft stuff downstairs really kicked my butt into gear though because this entire room was going virtually unused for the last year. It was full of half unpacked boxes and served as a "throw your extra crap in here" area. 

Anyway, it's so nice to have my own space again for my little hobby. I had no idea how much stuff I have! Two sets of plastic drawers completely stuffed with fabric, tons of quilting books and magazines, card stock and scrapbooking paper, and now my new favorite- Silhouette accessories, wood, and vinyl! I've been loving using my Silhouette Cameo for my Christmas projects. If I could use this thing every day, I would. Here's just a few of the projects I've been working on lately.

Etched beer mugs for a wedding gift.
Shot glasses for a nurse.

Super quick, fun, painted 12x12 inch wood sign for my fireplace mantle.

Nativity sets for Christmas!

 Glitter ornaments. This proved to be a much bigger project than anticipated.
Also, glitter is messy.

I've gotten pretty good at "weeding" tiny & intricate 2 inch tall pieces of vinyl.
The paper thin lines in the Dr. Who Tardis (left) strained my eyes so badly!

And this little wooden sign was made for a friend to give as a gift for a new baby.

That's what's been keeping me busy after my bedtime, now let's not forget the 3 little creatures that keep me busy all day long. Ayden and Lily just had amazing parent-teacher conferences. Their teachers had nothing but great things to say about each of them and they both brought home near-perfect report cards with very impressive grades. I could not be prouder of my hard working little smarties! Then of course there's Harper- 15 1/2 pound, chubby-cheeked, roly-poly, soon-to-be 5 month old Harper. She's getting so big and learning new things every day. She just figured out how to grab things with both hands and she loves to make this really fun spit sound and sprays her saliva all over you. She's also super close to rolling over, which means it's time to baby-proof everything. We're doomed. With a fireplace, an expose railing in the living room, and a set of stairs by the dining room we have a lot to do to get this place safe for a mobile baby! This precious baby phase is going so quickly...another reason I've kind of backed off of blogging. I'm trying to savor these everyday moments that aren't going to last forever.

I hope you're enjoying this crazy busy holiday season with your friends, families, and loved ones!

Make sure to keep up with me on Instagram and Facebook- I try to update those daily, even when I don't get around to blogging much. Let's be friends? :) 

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Beautiful holiday cards from Minted

Can you believe the holiday season is upon us again already?

I know it's not quite Thanksgiving yet, but it's time to start planning your holiday cards. Yep. I'm one of those moms- the type that tries to send out a Christmas card to the entire extended family every year. Most years I succeed. Sometimes I procrastinate just a bit too long though and they end up with a generic store bought card, and if I'm really on top of my game they might get some school pictures of the kids inside. Every year I vow that next year I'll be all fancy and get those cute, custom made holiday cards with pictures of the whole family on it. Some day.

Guess what? Some day has arrived! With the new addition of baby Harper I wanted a fabulous Christmas card with a family picture on it for all to see. We are a family of 5 now, so we needed pictures to include our sweet baby girl in them. I set up an appointment with my amazing photographer friend and we had our family photos done at a beautiful park in our town- perfect for a gorgeous holiday card, don't you think?


It just so happens that while I was searching the internet to get my cards made that I was contacted by a company called Minted, which specializes in holiday cards, wedding invitations, art prints, and all kinds of home decor using your own pictures. Talk about perfect timing! Their holiday photo card selection is phenomenal. I'm going to show you a few designs I've narrowed our cards down to. Maybe you all can help me choose your favorite! 

There are just so many great options on Minted. You can send your friends and family a really unique holiday photo cards with style this year. The luxurious photo cards were created exclusively for Minted by their talented community of independent designers. Each of the modern holiday photo cards is fully customizable with your favorite family photo and personalized greeting. Choose one photo or pick one of our multi photo holiday cards to showcase all your family photos. All of the holiday photo cards are available on your choice of thick Signature paper, 100% recycled Premium paper, or Pearlescent paper.

One of my favorite features of the Minted website is cool this "find it fast" tool where you can preview all of the cards at once with your own picture already on it. That way, when you're browsing through the designs, you don't have to try to imagine what your card will look like or if your photo will go with the card theme. It makes the process much simpler. See?

Here are a few of my own personal favorites:

I really love the ones with multiple pictures on it. We have so many great pictures of the family now in just about every posing combination you can think of, so I would love to showcase as many of these great shots on our card as I can. Plus, it's just too hard choosing a favorite!


The cards with single photos are equally beautiful, offering a more simple, streamlined look. Of course, there's always the option of adding additional pictures to the inside or back of the card as well. These are a couple of my favorite single photo cards.



Also, exclusively at Minted, they offer free addressing on the world's most beautiful envelope! That means no more hand-writing all of those family and friends' addresses on your holiday cards this year. My handwriting isn't the best so I'm really excited about this feature. Aren't these pretty?


Whether you're looking for a Christmas card, a New Year's message, or an elegant family photo card, Minted has you covered. Make sure to check out all of their beautiful holiday card designs and take advantage of their amazing Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals!

So help me out- which card do you like best?
Leave me some input in the comment section and help me narrow it down!

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I was compensated by Minted for this post. All opinions are, as always, my own :) 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Petz Beach Nintendo 3DS {kids game review}

It's that time of year again, where the weather is so cold and crappy that the kids are cooped up inside most of the time. Bored kids stuck indoor is not a good combination. The good news is that Petz Beach, the ever popular kids game, is back with a brand new game for Nintendo 3DS. If your kids are anything like mine and love animals, pretend play, and gaming then they will love Petz Beach!

 
My 6 year old daughter Lily is a huge animal lover. She goes between wanting to be an animal doctor and being a fashion designer, so Petz Beach couldn't be more perfect for an imaginative kid like her. She got to choose from over 50 different types of animals to play with and take care of, from dogs and cats, to dolphins and whales. Of course Lily chose a puppy because she really really wants a puppy right now. I'm against anything that might pee on the floor or chew up my phone charger right now, but I'm all for virtual pets.

After naming and accessorizing the puppy it was time to embark on the ultimate adventure that is Petz Beach. Kids can look after and take care of their pets all while completing quests and expanding their village to connect with other Petz owners. Successfully completing quests will help to better train the pet, boost your bond with your animal, and will help new friends in your village. As players explore the town and meet new neighbors with their pets, the game expands and grows as you progress. Because the environment in the game changes with the seasons, the adventure lasts all year long. For example, the week of Halloween, Lily and her pet were invited to a costume party in her village. She was so excited and surprised that the game "knew" it was almost Halloween. She said she can't wait for it to be Christmas and hopes they get invited to a Christmas party.

One of my favorite things about this game is that it's educational. First off, it's not just button mashing and there is actual brain usage involved. Kids have to complete their quests, which make them think. They have to plan ahead and think things out. It makes Lily feel really smart when she completes a quest and gets a reward for her pet, and she feels like a big, responsible girl by taking good care of her puppy. Another great thing is that through its partnership with Encyclopaedia Britannica, Petz Beach incorporates learning along the way. As kids care for their pets and complete missions, they’ll learn facts about animals, plants and insects. It also involved a bit of reading, which my kids and I love. Wherever we can get a little extra reading in is always a bonus.

Since Lily loved Petz Beach so much I'm sure she'd also love Petz Countryside too. Petz Countryside is just like Petz Beach but just in a different environment. Both of these games can be purchased on Amazon.com and would make a perfect Christmas gift for your little animal loving gamers!

What game is on your wish list this year?

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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Gelish "Haute Holiday" 2014 colors & swatches

Can you believe the holiday season is almost upon us? It's time to break out the fun, festive new gel nail colors from the Gelish Haute Holiday line. I've been rocking a few of the Get Color-Fall colors for the last few weeks, but as the leaves have fallen (and so have the temperatures), I'm ready for something fun. This gorgeous new line did not disappoint! Here's what they say about it:

Celebrate this season with the Haute Holidays Collection, brought to you by Gelish. Whether you're sneaking kisses under the mistletoe, sipping your favorite bubbly or dreaming of sugar plum fairies, these six glamorous glitters and shimmers will keep your manicure shining all through the holidays.


I am so in love with all 6 of these colors. They are so sparkly! The two colors on the left are from the Gelish Trends line and have a clear base in them, so they can go over any color. I'm showing them with 2 coats here. The other four shades are shown with 3 coats of color and are a bit "translucent." The coverage was good though, the consistency was easy to work with, and they self-leveled nicely before curing. Let's take a closer look at them.


Berry Merry Holidays

This is a beautiful, medium toned burgundy with a shimmer finish. I don't have another color like it in my collection so I was really excited for this one.


Kisses Under the Mistletoe

This one is a dazzling emerald tone with superfine glitter mixed in. I wish it had a little better coverage because I could still see the white of my nail through it in the light. This jewel tone is perfect for Christmas.


Here's to the Blue Year

This is one of my favorites. This is a bright navy mixed with varying sizes of chunky glitter throughout. These pictures don't do the color justice- there's a lot of glitter in there.


Sugar Plum Dreams

This is another of my favorites because you know I love anything pink. This is a bright, rosey pinkish-red and reminds me of candy.


Your Sleigh or Mine?

This is the silver version of the Gelish glitter topper. Its base is clear with chunky glitter and can be worn alone or over another color.


Feeling Bubbly?

This is the gold version of the Gelish glitter topper. Like the silver one, its base is clear with chunky glitter and can also be worn by itself or over another color. The possibilities with these toppers are endless and would be gorgeous over any of these Haute Holiday colors. 


After trying on each of the colors I decided to go with Here's to the Blue Year for my own manicure this week. I had to try out one of the Trends toppers too, so I chose Your Sleigh or Mine. I really love blue and silver together for the holidays.


Never tried gel nails? I've got a ton of tutorials for you! My DIY Gel Nails post is a great place to start. I walk you through the entire process, step by step, and I include a lot of pictures and I'm a stickler for detail. It's a long one...but I promise: read the tutorial from start to finish and you'll end up with an amazing gel manicure. Just read some of the comments and you'll see- that tutorial has been viewed over 300,000 times! Once you've got that down you can move on to some of my other tutorials and you'll soon be a pro.


Which one is your favorite?
Any you just can't live without?

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