Saturday, December 28, 2013

Daisy & June Cloth Diaper Jean Giveaway Winner!

Thank you all for your super high entries into this giveaway, as well as your patience in my not-so-super-quick holiday week posting and announcement of the winner!  Without further ado, the winner is:

Marie P.!!!

Congratulations and you should see a message in your email box from me!  Please respond within 48 hours to claim your prize!

For everyone else, the Daisy & June shoppe is still taking orders for custom cloth diaper friendly jeans!  I would highly recommend them, especially since this one pair of jeans is going to last your child for a loooooong time!

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Friday, December 27, 2013

Happy Birthday Little Lady!

I am in tears, and have been for most of the day already.

Our perfect, sweet, joyful, inquisitive baby is one year old.

This year - that I never thought we'd have - has been the best in my life.  Our family is so, so very lucky to have our beautiful baby girl, and I cannot express how amazing it is to have this moment of celebration for this child we love so incredibly much.





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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Secondhand Sunday #3 - DIY Chalkboard Kitchen Table

If you follow TNO on social media, you may have seen the rumblings of several painting projects I did this summer - one of which being our new-to-us kitchen table.  Today's Secondhand Sunday will highlight the little piece of awesome I rehabbed back to life for our kitchen!


Prior to having children, DH & I bought a really nice table, chairs, and baker's rack set for our kitchen that was made of metal and glass.  It was really nice looking, but maybe not so safe for children.  We kept it throughout Little Man's early stages, but as he became more & more mobile we were on the hunt for something a bit safer.

Being the deal-hunter that I am, I watched our local marketplace pages for months trying to find a table that looked like this $600 beauty I'd been eyeing on Pottery Barn {image from potterybarn.com}:


But sadly, I wasn't seeing anything like what I wanted on our marketplace.  And there was no way that I had the desire or the funds to drop $600+ on a table to actually buy it from Pottery Barn.

We'd be doing a lot of standing, because then we probably couldn't afford chairs!

One day though, while grabbing some items out of our basement, I realized that I had a table given to us {for free} by my parents several years ago.  It was the table in my parents' dining room that I ate on for every dinner at my house growing up, so it also had some warm fuzzies and mushy thoughts attached to it.  We only had three chairs for the table, but a quick swap on the marketplace left me out only about $5 for a new set after selling the old three chairs.  I digress though, as that's a story for another post.

Back to our lovely kitchen table - here are the before photos:

DIY chalkboard painted kitchen table

Because this table was sitting around in our basement not being used and it was in a little iffy quality at this point {as it's close to my age, which - you know - makes it a spring chicken, right?} - it was a great option to be painted and rehabbed.  The table had dings all over the base, all around the sides of the top, and the laminated top had chips and watermarks in several places, so I didn't feel guilty giving it a new life.

I'd always wanted to paint something in our house with chalkboard paint, and our kitchen table was a great opportunity.  Since we have a separate, more formal dining room - there's no need for our kitchen table to be anything more than a warm, informal, family gathering space.  I'd also envisioned DH and the kids working on math problems when they get a bit bigger in chalk on the table.  And it puts my crunchy heart at ease knowing I can just jot a few notes on our table while saving some paper!

The process of actually painting the table was pretty simple.  Here's step one:

DIY painted chalkboard kitchen table

Let's be honest.  I almost just stopped here.  I love, love, love the plain white table look so much that after our kids get too old for a chalkboard table, I probably will sand off the top and take it back white.  But for now - chalkboard it will be.  Anyway, I digress again.

That seems to be happening quite a bit in this post.  Maybe I need some coffee?

I used Bullseye Primer from Lowe's, which ran me just over $20 for the gallon - but I have quite a bit left over that will be used for future projects.  Since the primer claims to "stick to anything" I didn't sand a thing before priming.  The only step I took before priming was to wipe down the surfaces and get rid of any dirt or cobwebs since the table hadn't been used in so long.

I put several coats of primer on the table because I'm a perfectionist and that's how I roll.  Most people probably would have been able to get by with 2 coats for this specific project.  I did prime both the wood and the laminate top, and the primer adhered to both with no problems whatsoever.

Well, minus an unfortunate event where the tabletop was scraped before it fully cured by DH & I's user error when we were moving it.  But that was a simple extra coat addition that was quickly completed and fixed the problem.

Let's just pretend that part didn't happen.  Onto step 2!

DIY kitchen painted chalkboard table

Step two included painting the base of the table white and the top of the table with chalkboard paint.  This part of the project cost me about $30 for the white paint and chalkboard paint - but again I have plenty left over of both to be used for future projects.

I did find that the chalkboard paint covered the best if I used a small roller and alternated directions in rolling the paint with each coat.  I believe the chalkboard paint took 3-4 coats to achieve that true black look, as initially it looked very gray and you could see the roller lines in the paint.

We left the table in our garage for at least a few days - maybe even a week - before we brought it inside so that the paint could really have time to dry and we wouldn't screw it up again before it was finished.  This was probably overkill, but - you know - that's still me, too!

That only leaves us with Step 3:


We absolutely love the chalkboard table and use it all the time to write, draw, scribble grocery lists, write quick messages {and love notes} to each other, and - as seen above - do complex math equations with our toddler.

Dear DH, I love you.

But really, the chalkboard table has been a fantastic option for our family.  And since I sold our old table/chairs and baker's rack, I actually made money on the deal - seeing as I sold those for way more than the $50 price tag of the project.

I'd say this was one secondhand project in which I came out way on top.

What do you think?

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Woodland themed birthday invitations! {The fox says those are cute!}

* This is not a sponsored post, I just love sharing when I find a fantastic work-at-home small business!

Have you all ever noticed how I post all.the.time about how I have some super-talented, crafty friends?  I don't know how I managed this, but sometimes I sort of feel like I fell through the tree of talent and hit every branch on my way down.

Does that comparison work?  Lol, it's late, let's just pretend it does.

Annnyway.

Since our actual invites have already been sent, I thought I'd share a sample of the amazingly adorable invitations my friend Jenni from Dottie & Ginger designed for our woodland themed birthday party for the littles in January!


Basically, I told Jenni exactly what I needed from the invite - not only our theme and key details, but also our color scheme, my font preferences, and some wording preferences - and she went to town.  I'm super excited to share this with you all because Jenni from Dottie & Ginger can basically take whatever theme, idea, or color scheme you'd like to stick with and very quickly turn it into a gorgeous invitation, holiday card, birthday card, announcement, etc.  Here are a few of her other designs from the holiday season:



If you need a last minute card for the holidays {she's super fast, friends!}, birthday card, party invitation, or any other note designed specifically for your family - Dottie & Ginger is the place to go!

Did you all send out Christmas cards this year?  What have you done for your child's birthday party invitations in the past or do you have anything planned for this year?

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tips & Tricks 42 - Keep your strawberries fresh!

If you're anything like me - you hate wasting food.

I mean, we work hard to meal plan and watch our budget - so when it comes to throwing away food, I'm definitely not a big fan.  But there is one specific food that always gets me.  The kids love them, I love them, they're a great treat - but it seems this fruit goes bad faster than you can think:

Strawberries.

Right?  Who here has brought a container of strawberries home, plunked them in that bottom drawer of your fridge, and then promptly forgotten about them until you return a few days later to a gross, moldy mess?

I'll raise my hand in shame to that one.

However, recently I ran across a few tips that may change the way we store our strawberries to keep them fresher for longer!


It turns out that immediately washing your strawberries in the sink with the rest of the fruits and veggies isn't the best option.  So, instead of immediately pre-washing your strawberries, follow these steps to prep while all your other produce soaks in the sink.

1. Grab a container with an air-tight lid.

2.  Line the bottom of the container with a washcloth or paper towel.

3.  Arrange your strawberries on top of the washcloth so they have a little wiggle room.  

4.  Place another washcloth or paper towel on top of your first layer.

5.  Continue to layer as needed, but the more layers you add the quicker they'll go bad.

6.  Close container and place in the fridge.  Wash as needed, resealing container each time you're finished.

By washing your strawberries when they're ready to be eaten and not days before, they don't suck up as much water and won't get mushy as quickly.  The washcloth or paper towels also help to keep your strawberries dry.  As noted, if you double or triple layer your strawberries in a deep container, they're more likely to go bad more quickly.  We have a longer tupperware container that works perfectly or {best case} if you have a long glass casserole dish with a lid like the one below {aff link} - that would be perfect for this use!



How do you currently store your strawberries?  Do you have the same problem with quick rotting/molding?

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Best Toddler Apps for your iPhone/iPad!

* This is NOT a sponsored post, I just love these apps and want to share them with you all!

As both a mother and speech language pathologist, I'm frequently asked about two topics: enriching your child's development & uses of technology in your child's learning.

If you've hung around the blog for a little while, you've seen my prior opinions on television {programming/content, amount/frequency, and advertising} here, but one of the other big topics on which I frequently hear questions is apps for toddlers.  Since I hadn't previously written on my favorite toddler apps, I thought maybe I'd pick a few that have been popular in our home and chat about why they are a good fit for a developing child.

{These will all be apps I've used on my iPhone.  Some of these apps may be available on Android, but we have not used them on any other device than an iPhone or iPad.}

So here goes:

Baby Flash Cards -


We initially started with the free version of this one, but I loved it so much I upgraded to the $2.99 version quickly.  I love this app for a number of reasons and this was one of the first apps I downloaded for Little Man to play while on my phone or iPad.

One of the best things I appreciate about this app is the multiple areas in which a child may learn.  While playing with this app, your child can learn vocabulary in the following subject areas: food, animals, transportation, colors, letters, numbers, shapes, clothing, body parts, home items, musical instruments, sports, and miscellaneous categories.  My absolute favorite part about this app is that the pictures are REAL.  For almost all of the categories, the pictures are actual photographs of the item instead of cartoony representations of the items.

Best toddler apps for kids

There are several different settings you can use with this app based on your child's learning level, including having the text of the word present on the screen, a voice stating the name of the item, or randomizing the order in case you don't want the same order {like for the alphabet or counting areas}.  There's even a game in the app where it shows you four photos and asks you to, "Click on ____."  Little Man loooooves that part.

When he was just learning to speak, Little Man loved to page through the categories and repeat the words after the woman's voice spoke them.  There were several times in which I watched him hear a word, not fully get it, and swipe back again to hear it/repeat it one more time.  It was awesome as a speech therapist and mom literally watching him learn new words right in front of my eyes.

Interactive Alphabet -



Interactive Alphabet is touted to work with ages 1+, and I while I don't necessarily love the idea of a one year old frequently having a device in front of them, I think it's a fantastic first start to learning the alphabet once your child is ready to use a device.



Interactive Alphabet has four different areas: Baby, Explore, Trace, and Type.  The Baby area is a "guided A to Z touchable tour."  In baby, they can look at pictures, hear letters and words, and touch the screen in different areas to do things like crunch an apple or blow out birthday candles, etc.  Explore is very similar to Baby, but they can choose their own letters and switch up the order as they please.  The Trace area is a fantastic way to help a child learn letter shapes, as well as hear the phonemic sounds of each letter.  The Type area allows your child to find the letters in an on-screen keyboard and type them in to spell a word, teaching them both spelling and the fundamentals of typing and letter placement on a keyboard.

Hi, Mom!  She's too cute, right?


One of my favorite parts of this app is that you can actually customize the alphabet the way you'd like to see it.  For example, we've added photos of Mama for M, Daddy for D, Lilo {our dog} for L, etc.  Little Man loves to see his own family members in the alphabet in my phone.

Endless ABC -

A friend of mine recommended this app to us and I absolutely LOVE it for teaching phonemic awareness as well as letter shape, spelling, and vocabulary.  Basically, these adorable little creatures run through a word and scatter all of the letters - spilling them all over the screen.  Your child then has to drag each letter back to the outline of a word in the middle of the screen.  As they pull the letters back into place, the letter shakes and makes it's sound.  Once the entire word is complete, the creatures play in a little cartoon explaining the meaning of the word.



It's adorable, right?



When I am needing a little time to actually accomplish a task, Little Lady goes up in a carrier and this is my first go-to app for Little Man as he absolutely loves it and will actually sit for a good period of time to manipulate the letters into place.

Sort It Out -

This app was also recommended to me by friends, and I love it for helping your toddler learn categorization of items.  In this app, the child is given a screen {the one below is from my phone, this app looks better and is easier for a child on an iPad, but it will work on the iPhone} full of items in three different categories, and then they have to drag each item into the correct place.



On some parts of the app, you're putting the items onto a shelf, but for others - like the screen shot above - you're actually putting them into a functional landscape of where they fit in reality.  It's a great way to help teach your child likeness of items and train a focus on key details that differentiate items from one another.

These are some of our top apps right now, what are some of your favorites?

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Daisy & June Cloth Diaper Jean Giveaway!

Cloth diapering has been a seriously fantastic option for our children.  It's eco-friendly, extremely inexpensive, and we don't have to worry about chemicals on our children's skin twenty-four hours a day.

But...

if you're a cloth diapering parent, you know that it's almost impossible to find a pair of jeans that fit over your cloth diapered child's fluffy bottom.  Sure - you can size up, but then you're rolling and sometimes double rolling the legs.  And sometimes then finding that the waistband still isn't tall enough to cover the back of the diaper - and if it does, there's often too much material around the waist.

Sound extremely difficult and confusing?  Yep, it is.

Well, I was complaining about the lack of jeans that fit cloth diapers to my lovely friend MJ from Daisy and June and in her typical fantastical fashion - she offered to make me a pair.  {She's seriously so amazing, I'm so lucky to have such talented friends!}  Within just a few short days she had a pair on their way to me and arriving on my doorstep, and I could not wait to get them on Little Lady!

cloth diaper friendly jeans for babies and toddlers

{For reference - Little Lady is wearing a Kawaii Heavy Wetter Overnight Diaper with two microfiber and one hemp insert in this photo!}

This jeans are fantastic, friends.  They fit perfectly over our cloth diapers and are completely able to be customized based on how thick of a diaper or how heavily stuffed you have it.  The multiple snaps on the waistband allow you to take the waist in or out just as much as you need it depending on your child and the current diaper you're using.  I seriously LOVE the cuffed pant legs as well, because not only are they fantastically cute, but they allow you to adjust accordingly to your child's height as well.

cloth diaper friendly jeans for babies and toddlers
Here's a close up on the waist snaps!


After looking at the cloth diaper friendly jeans from Daisy & June, I ended up also trying them on Little Man the day I received them just to see how they would work on an older child - and they fit him, too!  So, the same pair of jeans fit both my 22 lb almost one year old and my 30 lb almost three year old.  Basically, the same pair of jeans will fit Little Lady for probably the next two years.

Now that is a fantastic investment.

Instead of having to only put jeggings on Little Lady or trying {and typically failing} to fit her into an expensive pair of mass-produced jeans sized for only one age, we now have one pair of jeans that fits over any diaper she's wearing, will last for years, and is seriously cute.

cloth diaper friendly jeans for babies and toddlers
Oh my goodness when did my baby become a toddler????
If you're interested in Daisy & June's cloth diaper jeans, definitely email MJ through her etsy shop!  She's closed for the holidays currently for her typical inventory, but is taking custom orders through email.  MJ can make you a pair of cloth diaper jeans for either boys or girls with the size of your child and style/prints you love in mind.

In the meantime, though, get to entering below because we're giving away a pair of cloth diaper jeans here on the blog!  If you have any trouble with your entries please email me, and Merry Fluffy Christmas!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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