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Thursday, August 28, 2014

insta summer

According to my calendar, 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, road trips, 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.

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! 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

chalkboard block city {tutorial}

I always have extra scrap wood laying around. Finally! Something to do with those little pieces! Add a bit of simple paint and Jake has an entire city to drive his cars through!

Want to make a city for your little minions? This is an easy one!
Start with some wood scraps. I had a spare 2x4 in the garage that we cut into a few pieces. There are no rules here, but I wanted to have a variety of sizes.

Then I gave them a couple of coats of chalkboard paint.

After your paint, make sure that you cure your blocks. That just means that you'll rub down the surface with chalk and then wipe it down. Then you're ready to draw!

Since I have a wild and crazy toddler, I decided to draw on my chalk blocks with a chalk marker for now. The bonus with using a marker is that it doesn't smudge to the touch {just with a damp rag}. Jake can move the blocks and play to his heart's content without losing the drawings.

I love the flexibility of this little city. Maybe your kiddo would love a space scene. Or a western town. Mix it up as much as you want by wiping the blocks clean and drawing any landscape you want!

The only rule here is to have fun.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

back to school clothes

Jake is starting his first official year of nursery school. We tried out our church's Mom's Morning Out one day a week for a couple of months last year and it went really well. Now Jake is officially signed up for the two year old class, two mornings a week.

Confession: I'm a little nervous. I hope he does well. What am I saying? I know he will. He's such a fun kiddo and his teachers have always adored his smart little self. He's so stinkin' excited to play music and do craftss {duh!}. I just get a little sad packing him up to leave me, even if its just for a few hours. Sentimental mom, party of one.

Ugh, let's talk about something else. Like adorable back to school clothes... 

Yes, all from my very favorite: Gap Kids. 

You'll notice a few things about these outfits:
 1. I'm not a huge traditional tennis shoe fan. He's two and he hangs on a minor playground at most, not gym class. So as long as his shoes are sturdy and stay on his feet, I'd much rather have a nice shoe that some brightly colored Stride Rite mess.
2. Lots of blue jeans. Can't go wrong there. 
3. Lots of neutrals. This goes for shoes, shirts, and pants. It enables me to mix and match and use a lot of the same pieces in varying outfits, making smaller wardrobes much more useable.
4. It won't be even close to chilly for several months in the South, but when the time comes, I love me some layers.

So next week I've decided that I'll be focusing on his coveted first day of school outfit and not on my sad lonely hours without him. The art of distraction, my friends! 

Go ahead and enable me: What's works for your kiddos' back to school fashion?


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

kid's kitchen set {tutorial}

I have two little girls' birthday parties this month. And let's be truthful, I'm not as refined in the art of little girls as I am with little boys. I wanted to give them something they would enjoy, but was also unique and handmade.

So here's what I whipped up...

These contain some wooden spoons, a small rolling pin, measuring cups and an apron.

I made the apron with some cute fabric based loosely on the girls' sizes {hoping to give them some room to grow!}. It's a simple patterned front and back, with fabric covered elastic bands around the top and back. Aprons are great projects for beginner sewers so don't get intimidated! Here's a few great sewing patterns to help you out:

The spoons and rolling pin are both smaller wooden items I found at local craft stores. I painted the ends to match the rest of the box. 

And speaking of the box - isn't pretty packaging such a neat addition sometimes? I grabbed an unfinished crate for each of these and added some washi tape to dress it up.

I love that this is something that can be made for almost any age.
Birthday girl Brynlee just turend one and foresee her banging the spoons on the floor and trying to stack the measuring cups while mom is cooking. Birthday gal Ava is turning four and is able to use the items for their original purposes {though I wouldn't put it past her to turn this apron into a superhero cape somehow}.

Keep in mind that kitchen items can be completely modified. Plus different fabrics and patterns can be used to make it unique to each kiddo. 

A unique and handmade gift? Check!
Hope these little girls enjoy them!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

a messy home

Anyone that really knows me is well aware {and has probably mocked me} for keeping such a tidy home.

What can I say? It's my thing. Clutter stresses me out. I enjoy our space so much more when I'm not stepping on legos and the pillows look nice and fluffy. Before I wind down for the evening, I do a little sweep thru of the house to make sure things are put away. I can't truly relax until after the dishes are done and all the dog hair has been swept up.

It echos into other places sometimes too. The other day, Jake and I had a play date with some friends at the local children's museum. When the other moms saw me absentmindedly tidying up a play area, they just chuckled. They know how I am.

But let's face it, I do share a home with a husband and toddler that don't necessarily echo this same sentiment. And there are times when I'm just. too. tired. So yes, every now and then you'll find my house looking something like this...

Are my friends gasping right now? 
"I don't even know her anymore!"

My perfect house is one that stays picked up. Our spaces would look just like the photos in our home tour at all times, where everything is in its own place. My perfect house is cozy, tidy, and clean. But even for those of us that are on the neater side of things, life just doesn't always work that way, does it?

Not long ago, I sincerely enjoyed reading Myquillyn Smith's book The Nesting Place.


Spoiler alert: It's pretty stinkin' great. Parts of it truly hit home for me. Quite literally...

"When I walk into a house, my eyes immediately dart around hoping to find something imperfect so that I can know this is a house where I can be real. The truth is I’m just not comfortable in a house that seems perfect. I get distracted and start thinking all about myself. I wonder if I can move this pillow to sit down. I’d better have water to drink instead of wine in case I spill it. Instead of enjoying the company of the hostess, I worry about how to act in the presence of a person who seems to have it all together. I wonder what she must think of me and the mess that I am when her house is so beautiful.
It finally dawned on me that if I’m not able to let my guard down in a perfect house, maybe others feel the same way. And if other people feel that way, why the heck was I working so hard to make our home appear to be perfect? True, I want our home to be welcoming. I want it to be comfortable. But welcoming and comfortable do not have to equal perfection."
- The Nesting Place 

Woah. Color me called out. What a bold challenge - to focus on comfort and living life together before aching for perfection. We all strive so hard to appear "put together", but isn't it our flaws and imperfections that draw us closer to one another? Myquillyn makes the point that the same can be true of a home. Her lovely blog has the fabulous tagline that "it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful". How incredibly truthful.

I love my home. I love decorating and revamping our sweet spaces. I love fresh flowers and clean floors. And I seriously doubt that will change. But in a world that focuses so heavily on the outward appearances of things, its truly refreshing to be reminded that a little mess is okay. It's human. At times, its even inviting. The same is true of our lives. Realizing that the we don't always have to wear our thick coat of armor allows us to open up to one another, be a little vulnerable, and hopefully create some genuinely wonderful relationships.

Gosh, that's good stuff.

Grab a copy of Myquillyn's book. Pretty sure you'll love it too.

Friday, August 1, 2014

let's talk gallery walls

I'm a sucker for the Pottery Barn layouts...

News Flash: I like things done quickly and efficiently. Especially when it comes to projects and decorating. Have an idea? Execute immediately before you get distracted.

And since I'm always in this unnecessary hurry, hanging any sort of collection on the wall is a tough one for me. I knock out a few nail holes, hang a few things up, step back and shake my head "nope". Then I hammer a few more holes and do it all over again. The end result is much faster that way. Before long, I'll have the wall I want...  plus about 20 ugly nail holes. Oops. 
And don't even get me started about wall anchors. Ha.

J.B. is always getting on to me about my 99 billion nail holes and the fact that a light breeze would bring most anything I've hung up crashing down. Whatevs. He doesn't know me. 
Today I worked on hanging some wall art in Jake's new room. And maybe it was the romance lingering from our five year anniversary last week. Maybe it was just the fact that I'm in no major rush to finish this room. But {gasp} I took my time. I thought of my dear man and decided not to pound a thousand million holes in the wall. That's right, I patterned out the large pieces of a gallery wall! Finally taking the oh so sane advice of these folks, I traced out all of my large pieces onto craft paper and taped up. I was able to easily arrange and rearrange everything without smashing up my sheet rock. The hubby is going to be so proud.

Awkward photo for proof of course:

Look at me, being all responsible!
Maybe tomorrow I'll put some of those beloved nail holes in the wall!