Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fast Forward Five Months....

     So it's been awhile, dear reader. I probably don't have to tell you, but I will anyway, that the end of the school year and summer vacation with a house full of young children is absolute insanity. Isn't life always insanity with kids no matter how many you have? The highlights of the interim time are as follows:

     Hickory celebrated his second birthday and got this sweet little turtle sandbox for a present which he loving shared with his sissy. I love this picture of him giving her a cuddle. It melts my momma heart.

No bakery cakes here.

All this sugar for me?
     Our sweet baby girl celebrated her first birthday. Birthdays are pretty simple affairs around here, but since it was the first birthday of our one and only daughter and our very last baby (Am I setting her up to be over-indulged with that line of thinking? Probably. But it is all a true description.) I made her cake a bit fancier than I normally would thanks to Pinterest. It looked beautiful but I should have added some vanilla or something because white cake mix tastes like nothing.

Picnic in the trees with my hubby. I'm smiling, but inside I'm terrified the smell of our food is attracting bears. lol. We never saw a bear all day, by the way.

Nicola and I (and the back of Ephraim's head) in front of the waterfall. This was taken at Artist's Point, but we also hiked down the 300+ stairs of Uncle Tom's trail so see the bottom of the falls, and to the scenic overlook that's right next to the top of the falls. Pictures don't do it justice.

All the boys, somewhat patiently waiting to see the Old Faithful Geyser erupt.
     We also took a day trip up to Yellowstone National Park. It's only a few hours drive from where we live. I have to admit I wasn't super stoked to go initially because I am quite far from being considered an "outdoorsy" person. However, once we got there I was SO glad we went and I can't wait to go back again!!! It is absolutely beautiful and the geothermal activity is interesting and mysterious and breathtaking. It's also a pretty versatile place as far as sightseeing goes. If you are an outdoorsy person and you want to go back country hiking, you can do that. If you want to hike along paved paths (which is more my speed) you can do that, and if you just want to drive from view to view, you can do that too! It was also cool to see GOBS of people from all over the world, speaking all different languages there at the park as well. I heard at least half a dozen languages not including American English during the course of the day.

Canon, first day of 3rd grade and Ephraim, first day of 2nd grade.

Doyle, first day of Kindergarten. I told him to look excited in the picture on the right. Apparently it's the same look as when you are bracing yourself to have a bucket of cold water tossed on you.
     The kiddos started back to school, and this year Doyle is going as well. The Kindergarten schedule here is pretty odd. You are assigned to go either every Wednesday and Friday, or every Tuesday and Thursday, and then both groups swap and go every other Monday. Confusing? I thought so, too. But I suppose this works for them. The army will probably move us before Hickory starts school, so I've decided not to dwell on it.

Ephraim suited up for practice.
     Last but not least we have entered into another year of fencing! Ephraim wants to try to compete with foil this year (foil being the type of weapon he uses, there's also épée and saber), and Canon wants to give it another shot. It's no secret that I'm not a huge fan of living in Pocatello, ID, but one of the few things I really love here is the Pocatello Fencing Club. The coaches are so positive, energetic, and encouraging. I like to hang out at practice I love it there so much, but that makes Ephraim feel like a little kid (and he's already one of the youngest kids there), so I try not to stalk him too much.

     So yes, life is crazy and always will be. It's a beautiful life though, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Renter Re-Vamp: Circus Nursery

     My husband's military career has caused us to move...a lot. A whole lot. As in, I've moved no less than ten times in the nine years we've been married. Eek! I thought that we would be staying in the house we're in now for the next few years until we PCS to somewhere else. (PCS stands for Permanent Change of Station. It means the military is moving you to a different duty station.) It doesn't look like that's going to be the case due to some issues we're having with our neighbors, but moving is nothing new to us.
     One of the challenges of moving, is decorating. Often times in rentals there's a lot of rules about what you can and cannot do to the house, and even if you are allowed to do something like paint, you typically have to paint it back before you move out. However, since we don't tend to stay in any place for more than a year, painting is something that just isn't worth it to us. Everything that we do in terms of decorating needs to be something that we can easily take down and move with us to the next space. So working within those parameters, we've been trying to spruce up the kids' rooms. I, in particular, have become a bit obsessed with Nicola's room.
     Way back when I was pregnant I decided I wanted a vintage circus type of theme. Originally I thought that Nicola and Hickory would be sharing a room, so I wanted something gender neutral. As it turned out, we ended up moving out of that house in Oklahoma and up to Idaho so Nic is in a small room of her own, but I loved the theme and colors so much I decided to keep it going anyway. It's still a work in progress, but so far it looks like this:
Ignore that bag of clothes in the corner. It has since been taken to the local Goodwill.
    The crib and dresser are both from Ikea and the bentwood rocking chair is the chair that my mom rocked my older brother and I in when we were babies. The caning on the seat has started to give way, but I keep going back and forth on whether I want to re-cane it, or if I want to put in upholstered pieces of wood for the seat and back instead. Do I want to keep the natural wood tones, or do I want to paint it a fun color? Draped across the ceiling you can see just a peak of a garland made of yarn pom poms. It's hard to tell in this picture, but the poms are in a gold, deep red, black, deep red, gold pattern. I made that at the end of my pregnancy after I just couldn't find a pennant bunting I liked and I didn't feel like going to through the trouble of finding the fabrics and cutting and sewing one myself. Who has the energy for that in the third trimester?
     On the wall above the crib, featured in the middle photo is sort of my inspiration for the room. It's a piece of vintage reproduction circus fabric and I love everything about it. It's blue with deep red and golden tones and I loved it so much I just couldn't bear the idea of cutting it into smaller pieces to make something, so I bought the biggest embroidery hoop my local craft store had and framed the fabric in the hoop. Originally I bought the fabric with the intention of making it into window valances, but when you move the windows are always different sizes, so I think this works out much better. The two picture frames in her room, the blue one on the wall and the black one on the dresser were both gifts from my lovely friend, Cortny, who threw me the most spectacular aqua and red baby shower ever. The blue frame is actually handcrafted by her dad. Inside the black frame is red polka dot scrapbook paper, and for inside the blue frame I printed off Proverbs 3:24 which says, "When you lie down you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet." in a circus font that I downloaded for free. The yellow N and the strongman were both Etsy finds, the sock monkey toy was a Christmas gift from her uncle, and the wooden horse used to sit on my dresser when I was little. I love that she has little things from my childhood in her room.

     Like I said, it's still a work in progress. She desperately needs some curtains for her windows. The poor things just look so naked. I'd also like to put her strongman in a shadow box and hang it on the wall by the rocking chair where the blue frame and her initial are. I think some more fabric is smaller embroidery hoops would be nice to compliment her big hoop, and I have ALWAYS wanted to paint the crib. Ideally, I'd like the paint the top, bottom, and corner pieces a light blue and the rungs gold, then add circular pieces to the legs so that it looks like a circus wagon. Maybe once it's consistently warm outside I can get cracking on that project. If/When she ever moves into a bigger room, I'd like to frame some vintage circus posters for her wall as well.

     Overall, I love it. It's whimsical without being babyish. Are you a renter, too?? How do you handle decorating a temporary space?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Dream Clothes: Marilyn's Robe

     Last week, The Glamorous Housewife asked on her Facebook page, "If you could get one piece of clothing reproduced, what would it be?" I thought about that for a minute. There are so many beautiful vintage dresses that would be amazing to have, but where would I wear them? I've always loved the old school playsuits that are a one-piece romper with a matching skirt that goes over them, but that's a bit limiting to the summer time. What is something that I could wear all the time or any time, but I just can't seem to find? I knew exactly what I would have reproduced.
     One of my favorite movies is How to Marry a Millionaire starring Lauren Bacall, Betty Grable, and Marilyn Monroe. There are tons of amazing clothes in the film, including a fashion show, but every time I watch the movie or even think about the movie I can't help but covet the white terry cloth dressing gown the Marilyn wears in one scene. I know what you're thinking. It's a white terry cloth bathrobe. They sell them everywhere. No. Not like this one.

     It's floor length, fitted in the middle, and I believe it zips up the front. As a stay at home mom, I spend a lot of time, well, at home. I live a casual life and I like to be comfortable. This does not mean, however, that I want to look dowdy or frumpy and live in sweats or yoga pants. This right here folks, is some practical yet glamorous loungewear and I can absolutely imagine myself sitting on the couch with my morning cup of coffee in just such a robe.
     Another reason why it would be a dream of mine to have it reproduced is because I have looked for years for a robe like this and haven't ever found anything close. Even looking through vintage sewing patterns I haven't found anything with that same shape. I wonder if it was sewn custom for Ms. Monroe for the movie because it seems to be so unique.

     How about you? What article of clothing, vintage or not, would you want reproduced? Would you wear Marilyn's robe?

Friday, February 15, 2013

People of Yesteryear

     For as far back as I can remember, I have loved the style of the 1940's and 1950's. I'm sure it has something to do with watching so many old movies as a child, but I've always found that time period to be very glamorous, even if it was a hard time like WWII. It's pretty easy to look to films of the day and photographs of movie stars from that period to get inspired style wise, but what I find even more interesting and inspiring is looking at photos of regular people in their every day lives. Sure Lauren Bacall looks amazing in How to Marry a Millionaire, but what did the average woman of the day look like? As a wife and mother who doesn't have designers and make up artists and hair dressers, I wonder what my counter part back in the day would look like. What does she wear around the house or on vacation with her family? What does her hair look like? Does she really wear high heeled shoes all day every day?

     I love the simple, classic style these moms have going on. It's something that would be fairly easy to replicate and still be totally wearable in the modern world. I also love that it looks like the woman on the far left has on ballet flats. My kind of lady!

     How great is this group of ladies? Doesn't it make you want to curl your hair, put on a tiki dress, and join them in a cocktail?

     Here is the most beautiful photograph of four generations of women with baby, mom, great-grandmother, and grandmother together. It's so touching and sweet how the baby is reaching for her great-granny's glasses.

     Do you like looking through old photos, even if you don't know the people in them?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Keeping Busy

     Aside from the kids passing around the flu and colds for the past several weeks, here are some other things that have been happening around here lately....

     My second oldest, Ephraim, started taking fencing classes! I actually had fencing in mind for my oldest son, Canon, and he did go to the first class but just didn't have enough interest in it to continue going. Ephraim went just to see what it was like and ended up loving it. I should have known since he's pretty much down for any sort of sport or activity. It's so cool to watch him at practice and I must say I was pretty surprised to discover a fencing club here.

     I've also been doing some knitting. When it was really really cold in January I wasn't worried about Nicola having a hat really because it was so cold that we weren't going out at all, but now that it's warmed up to the 30's and the sun is out we're getting out more. It's still pretty cold for her little bald head though so I wanted her to have a warm hat. I've always loved the look of vintage styled pixie hats on children so I whipped up this one based on this pattern. I ended up putting on i-cords on each side to tie under the chin instead on a chin strap with a button. I'm currently working on another one in lavender for a friend's baby.

     I'm pretty interested in the idea of knitting an actual vintage pattern. It'd be great to have some cardigans and pull overs for myself, but I must confess that even though I've been knitting since 2005, I have never made a cardigan or sweater before. I've done scarves, hats, booties, blankets, and then shorts, pants, and soakers for the babies, but never a sweater- not even baby sized!! I'd like to give it a go, though. I never wear true vintage clothing because I'd be devastated if something had survived for 50+ years only to be ruined by my kids wiping their hand on me or something, but if I knit from a vintage pattern it's kind of like the best of both worlds, isn't it? It'd probably be the more sensible thing to do to try a baby sweater first, but that's just not my style. I'm just not a dip my toe in the water first type of gal. If I decided to do something, typically I just want to jump right in. I'm really loving this petal yoke cardigan, but I'll probably search around a bit more before I make a final decision.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Products I Love: Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter

     I've always loved trying new beauty products and because of this I rarely re-buy or buy multiples of anything, however over the past year I have become a wee bit obsessed with Revlon Lip Butters. I know they claim to be tinted balms, but I feel like a better description would be that they are a sheer, moisturizing lipstick. My collection of them quickly grew from two to six and there are still colors I am itching to try.

I'm a sucker for pretty packaging. I love the quilted cases that match the lip butter's color. These have also NEVER popped open in my bag. An important quality, I think.
Colors l to r: Raspberry Pie, Tutti Frutti, Peach Parfait, Berry Smoothie, Cherry Tart, Lollipop
Starting with no lip color just for comparison's sake. This is my "no make-up" make-up for days when I don't need a flawless face, but I still want to look put together.
First up is Tutti Frutti. It's a fun orange color. I typically only wear this during the spring and summer. Not my go-to shade, but it's fun to mix things up now and then. It's also a great way to try out an orange lip. It's not so full on as a lipstick.
Here's Peach Parfait. I've never been into nude lips, but sometimes I do want something more natural.
Similar to Peach Parfait is this one- Berry Smoothie. Again, more on the natural side, but it's just a bit deeper and more rosey.
This color is Cherry Tart. It's a great way to do a more understated red since it's sheer. If you are afraid of red lips, try this!
Here's another color I typically reserve for spring and summer. It's Lollipop and it's a super fun hot pink/fuschia color.
This is one of my favorites. It's Raspberry Pie. It's certainly the most pigmented of the ones that I have. It's a deep berry color and I love wearing it with a simple face (like today) to inject some glamor into things.
     All of them feel heavenly on my lips. They definitely aren't longwearing, but I usually reserve these for around the house days or for times when I'm just running out for quick errands or for days when I'm not wearing foundation and a true opaque lip color would look heavy and out of place. They run about $7-$8 a piece, so they aren't going to break the bank. Even better if you can wait until the store is running a buy one get one sale on Revlon products. I also love that they come in a HUGE range of colors- over 20! I can easily through on my "no make-up" make-up and change up my entire look just by switching out the lip color. Wanting something warm and fun? Tutti frutti. Wanting to feel light and pretty? Peach parfait. Retro? Cherry tart. Glam? Raspberry pie. A little more edgy? Lollipop.

     I almost never have a totally naked face, even for just hanging out at home. I just always feel better when I have a small bit of glamor going on. Do you use Revlon's lip butters or something similar? Want to see how I do make "no make-up" make-up?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Review: Petunia Pickle Bottom Touring Tote and What's In My Diaper Bag

     First off, let me just say that in our family you have got to be thrifty. Now this doesn't mean that you're a tight wad or cheapskate, it just means that you have to know when to make a good investment in something and how to look for deals. Last year I discovered and am totally in love. Every morning new "events" go live on the site and could be anything from toys, kitchen gear, home decor, party supplies, and my personal favorites- mom gear (everything from high end strollers, to diaper bags, or baby slings), clothing (for babies through tweens and for women including maternity and plus-size), and accessories for moms and little ones. Most things are anywhere from 30%-75% off retail price. I actually got most of the kids' Christmas presents off of Zulily this past season. I also couldn't resist getting a little something for myself.
     Having this many kids this close together, I have gone through my fair share of baby gear and something that I've gone through quite a few of is diaper bags. My last two bags were SkipHop bags and while I love their tons of pockets for organizing, I refused to buy another because on BOTH of my SkipHop diaper bags, the lining ripped and frayed at the seams. The most recent one did within less than a week which is just unacceptable. However, I liked it enough that I continued using it for close to two years. (Like I said, I love those pockets. I'm all about an organized bag. I don't want everything tossed into a main compartment because it inevitably turns into me frantically pulling everything out of the bag to find that one tiny thing on the bottom that my baby is screaming to get right this minute or they're going to die.) I'd been on the look out for a new bag that entire time, but just couldn't find something I liked that I could afford until one day in late November, it happened. A Petunia freaking Pickle Bottom event came up on Zulily. If you're a baby gear or diaper bag geek like I am, then you already know that PPB bags are choice and they also come with a price tag that reflects that. But now, they were on Zulily for a great deal and I took it as divine providence that I also happened to have $20 in Zulily store credit! So I snatched one up!

     They had a few different bags, but I decided on the Touring Tote in Toffee Roll. This bag retails for a steep $149 online, but I ended up scoring it for $54.99 which is about what I paid for my SkipHop of questionable quality. I love that it doesn't scream "diaper bag." It's a beautiful chocolate brown and lemon yellow woven brocade fabric on the outside and a happy lemon yellow on the inside. (If you are expecting and you've never bought a diaper bag before- a word of advice: you do not want the lining of your bag to be dark. I know you're probably thinking it will hide messes and spills, but in reality it turns you diaper bag into a black hole and you won't be able to find a thing.)

     It came with two different shoulder straps, one shorter for use as a shoulder bag, and one longer and adjustable for using the touring tote as a cross-body bag. (I prefer it cross-body to keep my hands free. No bag stays on my shoulder otherwise.) I also comes with stroller clips, a matching lemon yellow changing pad (It's a nice quality, but manages to be small, but also bulky so I don't use it.), and a black plastic wipes case with Petunia Pickle Bottom monogrammed across the lid.

     The pocket on the front is quite deep, going all the way down to the bottom of the bag. I typically keep my phone and my wallet in here for easy access.

     On either side on the outside, there are zippered pockets that are good for holding smaller or flatter objects. In one pocket I keep the shorter shoulder strap so I don't lose it along with a few packets of shout wipes, and in the other pocket I keep a pack of blotting papers, a sharpie or pen, and a pack of Colgate wisps.

     Across the entire length of the back there is a zippered pocket where the changing pad and wipes case are stored. Like I said, I feel like the changing pad that comes with the bag is a bit bulky when it comes to being able to fit everything I need in the bag and it still be able to close, so I don't use it. Instead I keep a small flannel receiving blanket folded up inside to use instead. It's soft, keeps the babies off the cold and possibly icky public changing tables, but still packs nice and flat.

     This is the inside of the main compartment of the bag. Just free in the middle I have a small yellow drawstring bag. It came with the bag holding the stroller straps and longer shoulder strap, but now I use it to hold feminine things and make-up. I also keep with me a burp rag because Nicola is a crazy messy eater, extra formula, a gallon size Ziploc bag with a change of clothes for Nicola and another with a change of clothes for Hickory in case someone's diaper leaks, they throw up, spill an entire cup down themselves, or anything else that can't be cleaned up with a wipe of some sort.

     Here's the inside once the main part is emptied. There is a bottle/sippy cup pocket on either end with an elasticized top, two big pockets on each side, and in one of the big pockets is a small elasticized pocket for holding pacifiers or any other small objects that you don't want to get lost in the bag. Right now I keep Hickory's diapers in one pocket, and Nicola's in the other on one side. On the other side, I use one pocket for Hickory's snacks (currently pouches of banana and Ritz bits), and in the other pocket I keep tissues, saline nose wipes, and anti-bacterial wipes. I always have a bottle for Nicola in one of the bottle pockets and usually I have a cup for Hickory in the other though I didn't have one when I took these pictures.

     The hardware on the bag is real metal and rather heavy feeling, and the zipper pulls are plush filled. Both have the brand's monogram and feel nice and durable and of excellent quality.

      Really quickly, I just wanted to show the stroller straps. It comes with two naturally, one for each end of the bag. They are made of the same material and have have the same hardware as the shoulder straps and attach by wrapping around the handles of the stroller and securing to itself with Velcro. I've only used them once since I haven't needed to use my stroller very much lately. You do have to unclip your shoulder strap in order to clip you bag to the stroller clips, but that's not a big deal to me. I have a pocket on the hood of my stroller that I stuck my stroller strap into and then just clipped it back onto my bag when we were loading everyone back into the van.

     All in all, I love the bag. I love that it's pretty enough to pass for a purse instead of screaming, "I'M A BABY BAG!!!" Since I'm not an over packet and only want the essentials in my bag, it works for me just fine even being used for two kids under two. If you are an over packer or a cloth diapering mama, this probably wouldn't work for more than one child. The quality on everything is exceptional and I don't think I'll be looking to replace it anytime soon. The only thing that gives me pause is the fabric. While it is beautiful, it's not the most durable type of fabric out there. Most PPB bags have a laminated, wipeable fabric outer that has a small patch of embroidery detail and I kind of wish this one was made in that way. It also would be nice if there were metal feet on the bottom to hold the bottom of the bag off the ground when you have to set it down, especially since this bag doesn't have the laminated fabric. Neither of those things is a deal breaker to me, though. At the end of the day, I would definitely recommend it as a diaper bag if you can find one within your budget. I'd never pay over $75 for a bag and really I'd prefer to keep it around the $50 mark, which I did thanks to Zulily!

     Just so you know: I do not work for Zulily. They did not pay me or compensate me in any way to make these statements, nor do I work for Petunia Pickle Bottom and they aren't paying me to say this either. I bought this bag with my own money, it was not provided to me.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

     I've been battling the flu or some type of bug this weekend, so I've been a bit tired and out of sorts. But I wanted to post a little something. Up until now, I've lived in lovely, warm, southern states where snow is scarce. Up here in southeast Idaho, it's a totally different ball game. There has been snow on the ground since Christmas and while the novelty is starting to wear off on me, it's been great fun for the kiddos.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

5 Things You Might Not Guess About Me

Sure, it's common knowledge that I'm an army wife and mother of five creative, energetic, and noisy little children, but did you know that.....

1.) I make my own hula hoops and have been into "hoop dancing" as it's called for the past several years. I don't get to practice as often as I'd like since things like moving, cold weather, and pregnancies have gotten in the way, but it is something I really enjoy. This video is from 2009 when I was first learning how to hoop.

2.) Back in the day I used to do some really crazy, fun things with my hair.

3.) I am a gigantic, geek-out over every little thing, Harry Potter nerd. I spent years and years making fun of Harry Potter and the people who were obsessive about it until the year that my husband was in Korea and the kids and I were stuck in the states. We used to get pizza and a movie out of the Redbox kiosk every week and after being dead tired of full length cartoons, I decided to get Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince since it seemed family friendly but NOT an animated film. I wasn't really expecting to be that into it since I hadn't seen any of the other movies, but it was only a buck so what did I have to lose? We rented that movie SO many times and then snow-mageden happened and at the same time ABC Family was doing a Harry Potter marathon. Since we were stuck in the house we decided to watch and I've been hooked ever since. I read through all of the books for the first time last year and I am already re-reading them. I've got all the books in e-book format so I can keep them on my phone and on my nook. I have all the movies on DVD and had the Deathly Hallows on blu-ray over a year before we actually owned a blu-ray player. Now that we do have one, naturally I'm dying to get all the movies on blu-ray. I play the video games on xbox even though I generally hate video games. Huge, huge, fan.

 4.) I am extremely particular about food. I eat meat, but I won't eat it off the bone. Something about it weirds me out. I don't put any condiments on my sandwiches- no mayo, mustard, dressing of any kind. I also prefer to eat salad without dressing most of the time, and often I would rather have spaghetti with butter and parmesan cheese than any sauce. I also eat hot dogs plain, burgers plain, and gravy on mashed potatoes just won't do. Oddly enough, I'll only eat a grilled cheese sandwich if I can dip it in ketchup. I don't eat barbeque, and even though I'm Mexican, I can't stand beans.


5.) I love research. If I am interested in something, I want to find out all I can about it. Whether it's planning a theoretical vacation or a new drugstore lipstick, a new stroller or some other type of baby gear, I bust out the google-fu and will know every single in and out of whatever product or plan that vacation that I will probably never go on to within $100. I almost never buy things on impulse and when I do, I typically end up having buyer's remorse and regretting it.