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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Jake's explorer room {the tour}

A few weeks back, I shared our design board and talked about how we were dreaming up a new little boy's room for Jake. Armed with a meager budget and a few super fun ideas, J.B. and I have since been slowly worked on the new digs. Since we're in an entirely different room from the nursery, its been easy to shut the door for a few days and not think about it. Also since Jake is still sleeping in his crib, I'm not in much of a hurry to finish up and move him over.
In fact, I'm certain I'm still not finished with adding tidbits and rearranging things in here. But that's okay. I'm eager to show you how its going so far. 

My apologizes in advance, since this post will be picture heavy. I'll cut back on the commentary and instead swing back by later this week with a post about sources and how we put the space together.

So without further ado, feel free to take a step into Jake's new explorer room...

I think the tent bed is definitely the staple of the space. And I'm super proud to say that J.B. and I made it from scratch. I like it displays great as is, but all four tent sides do lower down, in case a little boy is so inclined.

 I also added some fun trunks and boxes at the end of the bed. The more places I have to stow toys, the less I trip over, right?

In the far corner of the room, we created a little reading nook for Jake. He loves to sit for hours and have you read him story after story, so why not have a cozy place just for that?

DIY industrial curtain rod, some hand painted linen "adventure" curtains, and a drawing table all go in front of the window. There's a huge elm tree right outside Jake's window (which is to blame for this ghastly low light, sorry!). But I think its sort of magical to look out over the giant tree and into the woods behind our house. 

I love how his little adventure gallery wall turned out. I saved some serious cash with DIY projects like the wooden arrows, the clock, and the prints.

Of course, we can't leave out his beloved train table. Normally the entire surface of the floor also boosts a pretty impressive set of tracks and every Thomas the Train character ever dreamed of. Luckily, I've spared you the clutter today. 

 Extra track gets tucked away under the table. Plus the rolling cart for his ridiculous train collection was a great addition. 

The dresser was stained to match the bed and we added these fun green water spigot handles.

And finally, the last wall has the ever important book shelf and toy storage. 


The lower shelves are lined with books and toy baskets for kid friendly access. The upper shelves are more for display, holding a few of our favorite things like alphabet cards and even Jake's rock collection. 

And there we have it. A little mini explorer room.
Thanks for checking it out with me!

I'm sure I'll still be adding/rearranging things little by little, especially as he moves out of the nursery and exclusively into this room. I'm already contemplating some rolling crates for under-the-bed storage. And perhaps something fun happening on the closet door. We'll see.

Most importantly, Jake is definitely enjoying playing in his new little space and even showing it off when friends come by. What a sweet little adventurer I have. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

baked apple dumplings {recipe}

I've always associated fall with apple pie and cinnamon. Something about the leaves and the breezy cool weather just make me want a warm piece of pie... 

This recipe is a quick and simple take on apple pie (in the oven in 10 minutes or less!). 
And we love the dumplings!

: :  Ingredients  : :

1 can of apple pie filling
1 can of croissant dough
1/3 cup of sugar
3 tablespoons of butter {melted}
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Start by preheating your oven to 375. 
Empty your apple pie filling into a large bowl. 

In a small bowl, mix your melted butter, sugar and cinnamon.

Cut the croissant dough into1/2 inch to 1 inch sections. Roll into small balls. 

Mix everything into the large bowl with the apple filling. 
Blend and then pour into a greased 8x8 dish. 

Bake for around 20 minutes. Just keep an eye out for the tops of the dough to start to brown.

Yummy yum yum!! 
This is best nice and warm and OF COURSE with a little vanilla ice cream!

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!

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?

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?