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Saturday, May 30, 2015

simple watercolor artwork {tutorial}

I'm soaking up the last moments of decorating my sweet Eliza's nursery right now. The space has turned out even better than I'd anticipated and I. can't. wait. to have a little nugget to tuck in there. Hurry along summer!!
{It probably doesn't help that we had an appointment day at Vanderbilt yesterday and I got to stare at Little Miss on the ultrasound screen for quite some time. She was a doll!! Head over to Expecting Eliza for the update!}  

But since she's not quite done growing in there I'm going to stick with decorating the nursery for now. 

This sweet little art trick is a great way to create something simple, personalized, and free for your own wall space.  I'm creating a sign for the door of Eliza's nursery, but a simple image, an initial, or silhouette would all be great alternatives too. 

Supplies: All you're using is some watercolor paints and a thick piece of paper. I like to use actual watercolor paper myself. Most art/hobby stores will carry an inexpensive pack or pad of these. They are just super heavy weight to accommodate the wet paint. But it definitely isn't required. 

Start with your design. If you're awesome, freehand it in pencil. If you're a spastic artist like me, don't be ashamed to create something on your computer to use as a pattern. I used a simple text...

After printing it out, I used my tried and true lead transfer trick to get the design onto my painting paper. {Trace along the backside of your artwork with a pencil. Then flip it over, place over the final paper and trace the outline with a pen. When you push down, the lead on the back of your pattern will be transferred to your final paper, leaving you with the perfect design. It's important that the design be in pencil because we'll be erasing those lines later. 

This one is simple from here. Grab your watercolors and start painting! Just make sure to go around the outlines of your design, leaving the inside of the image or letters white. 

Some tips: 
- Be generous with the water! You can't have too much! 
- Pick just one or two colors. Concentrate on how you're blending them and the different opacities that comes with the water colors. 
- Paint in layers. Basically, paint one corner, move on for a few minutes while it dries and then come back and fill in any empty areas. It creates a great layering effect that gives your design more depth. 
- You can't mess this up. Really. Even if you think you did, grab a paper towel and press it onto the page. Because the paint is so wet, the paper towel will soak up most of what you just did and you can fix the trouble spot. 

Make sure you get right up to the edge of those letters to outline them in paint. 

Once the design is dry, grab your pencil and erase those lines! You just be left with just a pretty watercolor silhouette! 

This is a great project to play with and manipulate in your own style. You can't beat the price of your own artwork! 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

three books to add to your summer reading list

We have been so incredibly busy lately! With the end of school, a sweet little vacation, oodles of appointments, and a family wedding weekend, we've spent a ton of time on the road. So for this sporadic reader, I've had some nice opportunities to catch up on a few of the books on my list.

And truly, they've all be so good! I really love a great fiction book, especially if it has a little historical touch to it. WWII is an era that I seem to be drawn to over and over again. So of course, all three of my latest books have been fiction, all three have a historical nod of some sort , with one taking place during the WWII era. 
Be sure to add these to your summer reading list!

From Amazon: The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what’s been missing in her life. And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

Personally, I couldn't put this one down. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I literally didn't and finished it in one sitting. I loved hearing the background of all of the meanings of flowers and how people use to give and receive them in almost a code like fashion. But the modern day story of Victoria Jones draws you in as well. Beautifully written!!

From Amazon: Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse... As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance. Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life—answers that will ultimately free them both. Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

Again, so good! I had never heard of the historical orphan trains and was immediately fascinated by the topic. Vivian's story is incredible. It's heartbreaking and devastating, all while showing the incredible power of the human spirit. I love the kindness and redemption this book shows amidst some of life's most horrid things.

From Amazon: January 1946. London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb... As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

For my fellow WWII readers, this is a beauty. It was a much slower book for me {though less than 300 pages}. Not for the plot! But because the entire book is written as a series of short letter between all of the characters. I'm a quick reader, sometimes a skimmer, so I had to slow down to pay special attention to who is speaking to whom in each letter. 
I have to say, I immediately fell in love with the main character, Juliet. I found myself laughing out loud at her hilarious perspectives and witty responses. I want to be her so much!
From a historical perspective, this was a WWII story I'd never heard before! Guernsey is an English channel island that was completely occupied with Nazi's during the war. To hear the islanders talk of their lives during the war and what they did to keep heart was an amazing tale.

So friends, there are three captivating books that I give two giant thumbs up to! As always, you can keep up with my reading lists over on the book pages. I'm a little behind so far this year {my goal is 24} but these latest books have definitely inspired me to not fall into a lull again!

Have you read any of these? Did you enjoy them?
 Better yet, do you have any recommendations for me?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

currently {may}


I'm such a sporadic reader. I'll go through 3-4 books in a few weeks and then not touch another for months. But I'm happy to report that I'm in my reading mode right now and I'm bulldozing through some fabulous books. This is my latest! I'm so excited about a new Kristin Hannah book. I love Winter Garden so hopefully The Nightingale will be just as wonderful.


I love Crowder. For years now. And this newest album is the latest in a long line of goodness. Do yourself a favor and nab this one!

On a little vacay! Jake, J.B. and I just got back from a trip to the Gulf and we had the most wonderful time! His aunt was nice enough to let us use her house on the bay and it was the perfect relaxing getaway before Miss Eliza will make us a family of four.

Opening a print shop! I've had a lot of print requests and after some thought, I'm happy to open up a digital shop for the public. Its been really fun creating some new ideas for the shop! I'm excited to see how it will do and what kind of creativity I can pour into it! Stay tuned for news about the debut!

Baby Eliza! 
It's such a range of emotions expecting her. There are so many overwhelming things to consider and plan for. Sometimes its easy to lost sight of the best part: our baby girl! 
I just can't wait to meet her and see what she'll be like. I've been putting the finishing touches on her nursery and creating lists of the final things we need to pick up for her. 

Next week we have some appointments at the Children's Hospital that will hopefully help us plan a little better for her arrival. I can't wait to know more!

Summer plans! School is out for Jake and its officially getting to be a bamillion degrees around here. That means summer! Our to do list has been made up and I'm hoping we can accomplish all of this before Eliza makes her arrival!

Have you made plans for the summer? A vacation? A fun list like ours?
Get on it! It's already here!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

DIY directional sign {tutorial}

I was stumped. This doesn't happen often. Probably because I'm so irritated by the feeling of being "stuck" that I don't allow it to happen.

Last weekend was Mother's Day. And for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what I wanted to do for my mom. It wasn't until I was restlessly wracking my brain at the last second, that I decided I wanted to make her a directional sign for her garden. The kicker? I just had a few hours to make it!

So here's how we tackled this fun project!

For mom's sign, I decided to list all the cities that mean something to her. Most of them have a close family member (my brother, my uncle, my grandmother) living there. After making my list, I scavenged my weathered wood to see what I had for the markers. You could also use new wood if you like, just make sure it's treated to be outside. 

After picking out my wood pieces for markers and grabbing a 2x2 post from Lowe's, I got to work. I had J.B. cut the markers to around 20" each and then point the ends of them like an arrow. 

Next I did a white wash paint style treatment on them. Sounds fancy, eh? It's not. Just take your regular acrylic paint and water it down. It give the surface a more rustic and transparent look while still applying some of the paint color. 

Now, if you're doing a literal direction sign, this is the tricky part where you have to sit down and figure out which arrow should point which way. One corner of your 2x2 post should face "forward. That will give you one side of the posts for markers to point north or south and the other side of the post to use for east and west markers. From my mom's garden, I figured out which cities were in which direction and prearranged a layout. Do this ahead of time so you can make sure to paint the correct side of the marker and have the arrow pointing in the right direction. 

I chose different fonts for the various cities just for kicks. And I used the same stenciling technique from this tutorial to do it. 

J.B. helped me attach the markers to the post, which went pretty quickly with four hands. Make sure to use screws instead of nails. Nails might give more when you pound the sign into the ground, whereas the screws will hold fast. 

And there you have it! A fun directional sign for any outdoor place! 
I've seen some fun version of these on Pinterest. All the fun options for book settings might be my favorite ones!

via / via / via

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

end of the year preschool gift

Today is my little one's last day of school. 

School. Well, he goes two mornings a week for four hours. But that's a big deal to him. And to this momma is none the less sentimental about the year being over. He has been spoiled with two of the best teachers that have absolutely loved on him every moment he's there. I'm beside myself that he won't be with them after today.

So in a meager attempt to ease my pregnant emotions over the end of the school year, I decided to have a little prize for all the kiddos in his class to take to the party today. 

Because what three year old doesn't love bubbles?!

This was a fun and inexpensive little surprise. I nabbed the 3/$1 sets from Target and created some little tags to tie onto each bottle. 

Try you hand and these! Heck, use my template {go here to print it out} for the tags.
Maybe some bubbly fun will cure a case of the sentimentals that you come up with too! 

This kiddo says cheers to summer!

Friday, May 8, 2015

giveaway winner!

Happy Friday! I'm just popping by to announce the April giveaway winner. 
Thanks to random.org, our giveaway winner is....

Congrats Mary Jo! Send me a note and I'll ship off the goodies to you asap!

We've been super busy enjoying the beautiful weather, working in the yard, and having an overall crazy busy month! I love spring! 
But don't fret, I'll be back next week with some new ideas and tutorials!
Have a fabulous weekend, friends!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

summer plans

I was talking to a friend of mine this weekend about our summer plans. She's a teacher and mom to a vivacious seven year old and she's eager to show him summer is more than video games and hanging out at the house. My initial thought? I have no idea what to do with a seven year old!

After our conversation, I put some thought into what they might enjoy, followed quickly by what our family might enjoy this summer as well! Adding a baby into the mix in a couple of months has really reminded J.B. and I that we want to spend some special time with Jake between now and the end of July. 

So, for those of you that are wringing your hands over what to do this summer, fear no more. I've amassed a slew of ideas for all ages and thrown them together into five categories. Five fun ways to spend your summer!

I'm a big advocate of kids just being outside. Building Jake a tree house this spring was a big part of that. And there is so much they can learn out there! A few examples for you? Sidewalk chalk, bubbles, bike rides, dog parks, rock collections, playgrounds, flying a kite, picnics, gardening, and building... well, anything!

Look, I get that it's 2015, but I have to say this... The library is still cool. Kids checking out books, playing with puppets and puzzles, listening to story time? It's all still so good! Our local library has tons of activities for kids during the summer. I'm sure yours does too!  And I think any kid of any age would love a summer book reading challenge! 

We're in the South. And spoiler alert: it's really hot here all summer long. Basically, water fun keeps us alive. 
Sprinklers, slip'n'slides, water gun fights are all awesome backyard options. 
Also, everyone needs to have a friend with a pool. Or maybe a membership to the Y (remember it's income based so look into that even if you're on a tight budget) 
There are also several local free splash pads that are open every day. Look around your town for those!

And what would summer be without a road trip or two? It can be a day trip or a full vacation! Find some neat places within your budget and time frame to check out this year. 
Examples? Hiking at a state park. Spending a day at the zoo. Checking out a local cave. Going to an amusement park. An indoor day at the aquarium. A beach vacation. A concert trip. Overnight camping in the woods. 

One of the best things to do is to create some family traditions. This can be something small like snocones every Friday night. Or maybe a trip to the drive in theater once a month. A lot of towns around here have a monthly tradition like "First Friday's" where craft or food vendors all come out to a huge park or downtown area once a month for everyone to check out. There are so many special traditions that you can create over the summer with your little tribe. Go for it!

I've always thought that the easiest way to organize your ideas is to make a list. This, my infamous "to-do" lists. I'm still in the process of making the Wilder family plans for this summer {baby prevailing!} but here is our list from last year to get you going.

Happy planning!

Friday, May 1, 2015

expecting Eliza

Guess who's awesome enough to have her own blog space?

My lovely Eliza girl, that's who. 

There always a lot of information that people ask me about and I wanted to have a space that was just her own. So I hope to keep it updated over the course of my pregnancy and then, obviously once she's here fill it with mommarazzi updates and pictures.

If you're interested in checking it out, click below: 


I'm happy to have a spot to educate more people about spina bifida.
And a place to record our journey with her. I'd love for you to follow along!

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

And this is one of your last chances to enter the April Giveaway!
Click the image goodies to enter to win!


Giveaway closes 5/4!