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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Jake {2 1/2}

Guys. Please tell me how my tiny little baby boy has already become a 2 1/2 year old. 

I know that I say this every time, but seriously, this age is my favorite.
Jake is like a little sponge. He soaks up so much and is so stinkin' smart.

You guys know from Jake's book post last week that he's always been into reading. Right now, we're also pretty crazy about letters and spelling. He loves to spell his first and last name for people, along with a few other words. I'm casually working with him on the sounds of all the letters since he's able to recognize all of them by sight at this point. It's really more of a fun game at this point since kids his age learn the most through play time.

Jake's also officially into his first year of "school". He's going to our church's Mom's Morning Out two mornings a week.  He adores his teacher, and it seems to be a great fit to have him around other kids his age and to learn a few things about being in a classroom.

We've pretty much finished with Jake's new explorer room {see the design board here} and I hope to share that with you guys next week. As of now Jake is loving having two rooms to play in, haha.

We also had a fun opportunity to do a "Boys Only!" themed adventure shoot with a photographer friend of mine. I feel in love with her little set and the country feel of it all. These prints will go wonderfully in his new little space too!

Let's see, the other stuff... 
Food: He eats meat!! Yes, it took forever, but little man is finally eating some meats.
Snoozing: Still sleeping like a champ. Does about 11 hours at night with a 2 hour nap mid afternoon. 
Potty training: He's fully day time potty trained, which is pretty fabulous too!

We've got some fun plans for Halloween and an awesome to-do list for the fall!
Love watching this handsome boy continue to grow and learn!

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

the envelope system {a template!}

Anybody out there a Dave Ramsey fan? Money guru, Financial Peace author, talk radio jockey. Am I ringing any bells?

I see you there. You're nodding.

 Well, if you've heard of Dave, you may also have heard of the envelope system that he promotes as a way for people to organize their money. 

Are you still nodding? Are you cringing instead? I see you there again. And I'm with you. On both accounts. 

The envelope system. For quite a while, it just "wasn't for me."
 I have a toddler. 
I'm always in a hurry. 
I don't like to carry cash. 
I'm already on an organized budget.
The list could go on an on.

But ultimately, our family has gone through a slew of financial changes in the last few years. 
New baby.
Career/income turned stay at home mom
New baby has a ton of unplanned medical expenses

At some point, we decided it was time to try something new. The envelope system was where we settled. And despite my preconceived notions, I'm actually really happy with it!

So the gist of it...  
The goal is to use cash money as much as possible in lieu of your bank card. Obviously you'll be using a check or online bill pay for major expenses like mortgage, insurance, etc, but after that the concept is simple. Withdraw the remaining money to use as cash. Create envelopes for your common spending categories {i.e. groceries, gas, eating out, clothes, gifts, etc}. Divide your cash money into those envelopes based on how much you need to use. This is a great time to look back at your previous monthly expenses and see just how much you were spending in each area. {Maybe you'll notice that you should cut back a little in a specific spot.}

The idea is that you are budgeted in each category. When your "eating out" money is gone, you're done eating out until the next pay period. No stealing from another envelope - you'll have to have a night in and scavenge the cupboards.

So why the envelope system? How is it successful? Well, psychologists have proven time and time again that you are more reluctant to spend cash money versus swiping a debit card. To physically feel the money leaving your possession triggers something in your brain, and you think twice about what you're spending. Having thought twice about your purchases, you'll find yourself being more responsible with your money, and ultimately, spending less. 
Not to mention that you are specifically budgeting yourself beforehand, so you're never spending more than you should. You'll always be ahead of the curve instead of behind the eight ball. 

 J.B. and I work hard for what we have, and we want to makes sure we're managing our dollars with as much responsibility as possible. By having an envelope system, we know exactly where each dollar  goes. We're thinking ahead to how much spending is appropriate for each area, not coming after the fact and thinking, "Oops! Way too much gone there!"

Interested in a more comprehensive explanation of how the system words? Check out this fantastic post from Happily Ever Strader for a full on tutorial of how they make the system work. This girlfriend really gets into every last detail.

So enough money talk, I'm moving on to the pretty stuff. 
I've always found that you can make even the most mundane thing much more exciting if you make it pretty. In regards to the envelope system, I wanted some pretty envelopes. DIY, of course. 

For now, I'm enjoying my envelopes with this little water color pennant label. Another big concern I had was that I wanted an envelope to be able to fit into my slim wallet. So these designs are just barely bigger than the dollar bill itself!

Click  { H E R E } to download these templates for free! I've left the font labelings off since we all have different categories. You can add yours either on the computer or by hand!

So what about you guys? Any other envelope folks already out there?
Anyone interested in trying it out?

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

our favorite toddler picture books

I love children's books. Love them. The silly stories, sweet rhymes and pretty pictures are all so endearing. I'm incredibly proud that my little one loves them too. You can bet that the laundry is forgotten and floors will stay unswept when that sweet boy crawls in my lap with story after story.

I think it's so important that we've read to him since he was born. Reading to babies, even before they can understand the words and pictures, leaves a lasting mark on them. 

We've added to our collection pretty heavily over the past two years. And whether it be a classic or a random library discovery, we definitely have a few favorites... 

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site is gaining a lot of ground as a children's favorite. Jake loves all things dump trucks and bulldozers, so it's a pretty great read to find out how all the trucks at the site go to sleep. Plus, what mom doesn't love a good "wind my kid down for bed" book?

We discovered And the Train Goes by William Bee at our local library. Let's be honest, it had a train on it, so this momma grabbed it. Turns out, this sweet rhyming book has some of the most beautiful illustrations that I've ever seen! Definitely a popular choice around here for both Jake and I.

Jake can almost quote this book by heart. He loves the story of the "little baby Harold" as his draws his way through a creative and fun story in Harold and the Purple Crayon. It probably helps that Jake's favorite color is also purple.

No book list is complete without a silly Seuss, right? There's A Wocket In My Pocket is a tale of silly, made up monsters that live all over the house. Jake has loved Seuss' rhymes from a really early age {we had to hide Fox in Sox for fear of JB or I having an aneurism attempting to read it}. All the Seuss' are popular around here, but this is the current favorite.

Another fun library find! Old MacDonald Had a Dragon is the hilarious story of what might happen if a dragon was added to the farm. Spoiler alert: it doesn't go over well with the other animals. I love the the pun-filled humor by Ken Baker, along with the fantastic illustrations! And Jake loves that he gets to sing the Old MacDonald song with almost every turn of the page. 

Another classic! Jake has learned all of his letters so Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is especially fun to read now. He picks out each of the letters as they venture up the coconut tree. This book is a great one for alphabet recognition!

I will never forget the day Jake found this book at the library. He grabbed it and ran to me saying "J-A-K-E! That's my name!" I was so excited that he could recognize the letters and his name without an ounce of prompting. Turns out, Jake Stays Awake is actually a super cute book too! We haven't had an issues with this, but I would think that this book would be especially handy if you have an uninvited bed sharer. This story talks about how Jake has to sleep with his parents {all over the house} and, in the end, how great it is to sleep in our own rooms. If you like this one, there are also a few more JAKE books by Michael Wright.

Goodnight Ark is another great sleepy time book. It talks about the wild and crazy animals on Noah's Ark and how they eventually simmered down to sleep. This one is a quick read with beautiful illustrations. 

And lastly, our beloved Steam Train, Dream Train. From the same authors as Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, this is a beautiful book about a night time train run by silly toy animals. Each page talks about a different train car and what role it plays in the silly dream world. Any train lover is going to adore this one! A daily read in our house.

Those are our currently favorites. Always subject to change and always finding new stories! 
What are you favorite children's books? Any recommendations?

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

toddler art tuesday {#9}

It's that time again!

A few weeks back, my brother and his family visited from San Diego. Jake was so excited about getting to play with his cousin Olivia. She's three so they're about the same speed. Jake jabbered on excitedly for days about the upcoming visit and begged to get Olivia a present, specifically, jewelry. Seriously, where does he get this stuff?

So while we were in the craft store, I had the idea for Jake to make Olivia a bracelet. Fun, kid friendly, and personal!

I bought some regular colored beads and also some letter beads. Jake loved picking out all the colors and letters for the bracelets. It also was great practice with Jake for letter identification and spelling!

Jake had so much for that he ended up making several bracelets for family members!
Such a fun gift!

"Make way for King Jake!" 
That's basically all I've heard from Jake since the day we made this paper plate crown. He had a ton of fun creating it himself.

We started with a paper plate and decked it out with little scraps of tissue paper.

After it dried, I folded the plate in half and cut several incisions. 
Then I bent up the cut edges and added some cute pom-poms on top. 

King Jake was a huge fan!

For more craft and activity ideas, click on the image below to see all of our Toddler Art Tuesday posts!


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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

burlap ruffle wreath {tutorial}

Even though school starts back in early August around here, I still feel like Labor Day is the official beginning of fall. It's finally time for pumpkins and mums and boots and Halloween costumes. This girl is excited!
So I'm spending some time this week breaking out my beloved fall decor.
First up is a new fall wreath for the door! 

This is a new take on my previous fall wreath from a few years ago. With this wreath, I gave it a bit more polished look, some extra layers, and added some glorious southern cotton!

Start with a couple yards of burlap and a wreath form. 
{I really like to make door wreaths on at least an 18" form.}

Cut a super long 4"-5" strip of burlap to wrap around the wreath form. You can secure this with floral pins or hot glue. 

Now you'll cut another long strip for your first ruffle. I wanted to make a clean looking wreath so I actually ironed the outside edge under. Burlap holds a ironed hem fabulously. 

Glue/pin the edge of the burlap along the top of the wreath. As you attach the ruffle, give it a little fold every few inches.

Repeat with a second layer. You can make the burlap strip a little narrower or you can attach it closer to the inside of the wreath so the bottom layer.

Finally create the third layer. If you're ironing the hem like I am, be sure to fold under both sies this time since the whole circle is exposed on this layer. 

And a little differently from the previous layers, form the circle apart from the wreath first. You're going to want this layer to fit almost on the inside of the wreath so you can't see the wreath form at all. 
You may want to glance at your wreath as you create this layer to make sure you're sizing it properly.

After your circle is complete, attach it to the wreath. Instead of gluing the inside ring, this time you'll be gluing around the middle or outside edge to form.
This now should basically cover the wreath form and any ugly edges.

Now that your wreath is done, add in your fun items to jazz it up! 
I decided to use a faux cotton boll stem and sweet little stamped fall tag. 

I'm loving this sweet fall wreath! 
Fingers crossed that it will help bring in some lower temps so I can break out my boots and sweaters!

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

insta summer

According to my calender, its almost Labor Day weekend. The end of summer.
Seriously? I don't know how that's possible considering Memorial Day was only yesterday. 

But wow, we have had so. much. fun.
Zoos, water parks, family time, museums, roadtrips, beaches, play dates, pools.
We have done it all.  I'm so addicted to this sweet kid and all the fun we have together.
Best summer ever. 

Fall weather, pumpkin patches and football season all sound pretty fabulous, but it's a little bittersweet to watch this memorable season go. One of the reasons I love my Instagram is because I can scroll back to relive all the fun we've had {follow along: @sarahwilder1}.
So relive it with me! Here's to summer!


But really. Best summer ever.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

my favorite summer salad {recipe}

Y'all. It's hot. August in Alabama typically equates the hottest, yuckiest month of the year. Just going outside means you're almost immediately enveloped in a blanket of humidity that makes you feel like you could suffocate at any moment. Not cool. 

But we're thankful for the sunshine. And for my brother's lovely pool {amen and amen!}. We're also thankful for cool treats to enjoy while the weather is roasting outside. 

Since eating a popsicle for every meal probably wouldn't pan out super well, I try to stay cool with a few dishes of my own. In this summer, this one is my absolute favorite!

There have got to be a few people nodding right now. They know me. They know I eat this all. the. time. for lunch. It's my jam. 

One of the reasons that I love it is because of how quick and simple it is to prepare. I have a crazy toddler running around demanding a sandwich or some goldfish every day at lunch, who has time for a luxurious lunch? This healthy lunch is ready in under two minutes.

: :  Ingredients : :

 - lettuce/spinach
 - cut strawberries
 - feta cheese
 - balsamic vinaigrette dressing

{optional: prepped chicken!}

I doubt you need major instructions to toss this together, so here's the quick play by play. 

I like to use a half romaine/half spinach mix for this salad, but your greens are entirely up to you...

Fresh strawberries are fantastic. We keep them stocked in our fridge because Jake loves them too.  Blueberries might also be a great addition if you have some.

Feta cheese. I'm normally heavy handed when it comes to cheese, but feta will go a longer way than most. I've also decided that all feta cheese is not created equal. I'd rather buy the name brand than the store brand in most cases. 

Lastly, the balsamic vinaigrette. I'll admit, I don't love this dressing on just anything, but with the right combination, its a great flavor! Also a lot healthier than the ranch dressing we're all addicted to in the South. 

I don't typically have any prepared, but this would also be great to add some chicken too! Another common addition is almonds {I pass on the nuts aside from ballpark peanuts}.
So there's my go-to summer salad. Quick, easy and healthy! 

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