Font Friday: 10 {Free} Spring Fonts

Font Friday: Spring and Easter fonts (all free!)

Happy Friday!  I hope the end of the week finds you well and ready for Easter weekend.  I always look forward to spring and Easter and what it represents to me.  Easter is easily one of my favorite holidays and having kids to celebrate it with makes it even more special.  And springtime is always a wonderful time of year, even if the weather is a bit fickle.  At least there’s no snow, right? *wink*

It’s been a while since I did a Font Friday and I wanted to share some fun new fonts with you as you head into the weekend.  If this is the first time you’ve ever heard of downloading and installing fonts on your computer, don’t be intimidated!  It’s really easy and once you know how to do it, you’ll be installing new fonts left and right. 

You can visit my tutorial HERE to learn how to download and install fonts.

All fonts listed below are free to download for personal use.  Click on the name of the font to be taken to a link where you can download it.

Font Friday: 10 Spring and Easter fonts (all free!)

Janda Flower Doodles (images only)
Easter Art (images only)
LP Rabbits 1 (images only) 

Mommy Style Monday: Favorite Things Box (Spring Edition)

These are a few of my favorite (Spring) things!  See what I received in a surprise Springtime box!

As of last Monday, Spring has officially sprung!  I always look forward to this time of year.  I am definitely not a cold weather person and the minute it’s warm enough for me to sit outside without a jacket, I am throwing open windows and letting the fresh air in.  We just got our garden boxes ready to plant some vegetables and I love the smell of dirt and the joy that comes from planting, growing and eating that food.  My kids get so excited when we start seeing “popcorn trees” (ie. white flowering trees) blooming all over the neighborhood and the life springing up all around makes me smile.

I’ve done a couple Mommy Style Monday’s in the past (here and here).  Usually it is based around a theme and each of the participants writes about it.  This month we were supposed to think about our favorite things that have to do with Spring, put them in a box and ship it off to a fellow blogger friend to enjoy.  (I sent my box to Britt over at My Little Sunshines who is actually a friend of mine in real life, although the rotation was completely random.)  In turn, I received a box of my own from Rachel at Tutus and Heels.

These are a few of my favorite (Spring) things!  See what I received in a surprise Springtime box!

Rachel and I actually met last September when we helped out with a photo shoot for Favor Cart.  I’ve been following her ever since then and it was fun to get a box from her and see what her favorite things are in the Springtime.

These are a few of my favorite (Spring) things!  See what I received in a surprise Springtime box!

There is something so exciting about knowing that you’re getting something sent to you in the mail, but not knowing exactly what it is you’ll be getting.  When I got my box, I took it inside and immediately opened it up.  Check out the fun stuff I got from Rachel!

These are a few of my favorite (Spring) things!  See what I received in a surprise Springtime box!

These are a few of my favorite (Spring) things!  See what I received in a surprise Springtime box!

Super cute, right?  She sent note pads and pens (perfect for all the list making I do), a little zipper pouch, a couple of fun paper straws, brightly colored clothes pins that spell out the word ‘spring’, stamps, a yummy grapefruit candle, gold washi tape, chocolate eggs and 3 delicious cake bites from a local bakery called the Sweet Tooth Fairy.

You can take a look at the other boxes that were sent around as part of our Mommy Style Monday: Favorite Things Box (Spring Edition) by clicking on any of the links below:

Kiana  |  Glitter & Donuts
Madeline  |  CaseyLand
Cayli  |  Nightchayde
Rachel  |  Tutus and Heels
Erica  |  Good Job Momma
Chandler  |  Life as a Larsen

If you want to sign up to participate in the next Mommy Style Monday Favorite Things Box in June, you can use this link HERE.

What would you include in your own favorite things box?

Rainbow String Art Tutorial

Simple rainbow string art tutorial that can be used to make any shape you want!

When it comes to crafting, I like to try everything.  I have an entire craft room full of all sorts of supplies for everything from vinyl, embroidery, scrapbooking, acrylic paints, a million brads, felt, adhesives…phew!  And that’s not even close to everything.  Something I’ve been wanting to try my hand at is string art.  I’ve seen it all over and there are so many shops that sell it.  My friend Sarah over at Making Joy and Pretty Things recently did a cute string art heart for her daughter’s nursery.  I commented on her post and told her I’d been wanting to try it out myself and she suggested I do one for St. Patrick’s Day.  So I did.  *wink*

I went back and forth on what I wanted to do.  I did sketches, looked at images on Google and finally settled on a rainbow because there are really only so many images that go along with St. Patrick’s Day.

Here’s a list of the supplies you’ll need to make your own:

  • piece of wood, desired size
  • 1″ nails
  • hammer
  • embroidery floss, desired colors
  • outline of image (printed out)
  • vinyl for wording (optional)
  • acrylic paint (optional)
Simple rainbow string art tutorial that can be used to make any shape you want!

Simple rainbow string art tutorial that can be used to make any shape you want!

To start, I had my husband cut a piece of wood for me from a scrap piece we had lying around.  I used a 2×6 and cut it so it was 7″ tall x 9″ long.  (Seriously, why don’t they call it a 2×7?)  Sand down the edges for a cleaner look and wipe off all the dust.  I found an outline of a rainbow with clouds that I liked, saved the image, opened it in a word document and printed it out.  When selecting my rainbow image, I counted the number of arches so that I could have six colors (I left out indigo).

(Originally, I had planned on painting it my wood, but I got a little ahead of myself and started putting nails in.  Once I realized this, I was about half way done nailing and didn’t want to take it all out and start over.  So if you’re going to paint it, definitely make sure you do it before you get too far.)

Next, I cut the paper so it would be the same size as my piece of wood.  Then I grabbed a couple of nails and hammered them in on opposite sides to keep the paper from moving.

Simple rainbow string art tutorial that can be used to make any shape you want!

I started with the clouds.  I put a nail at each of the points and then filled it in from there, trying to space them as evenly as possible–probably about 1/4″.

From there I moved on to the curve of the rainbow, continuing to space the nails about 1/4″ apart.

Simple rainbow string art tutorial that can be used to make any shape you want!

Now you grab your first color of embroidery floss and tie it on to the nail that will be your starting point.  I started with the red for the first arch of the rainbow because I wanted the white of the clouds to cover all of the ends of each color.  I wrapped the floss all the way around each nail at the top of the arch so I had a straight line, then I started randomly looping the floss between the first and second row of nails until I got back to the beginning.  I tied it off by tying it to the tail of the string I started with.  I continued this until I got all the way through each of the colors of the rainbow.

Simple rainbow string art tutorial that can be used to make any shape you want!

Simple rainbow string art tutorial that can be used to make any shape you want!

Simple rainbow string art tutorial that can be used to make any shape you want!

When I got to the clouds, I tied the string to a nail, wrapped it all the way around each nail so I had an outline and then started randomly looping the floss until it had the same type of coverage that the arches had.

Since I was left with space at the top of the rainbow, I decided to add some vinyl that said “Over the”.  I designed the words in my Silhouette Studio software and cut them using black adhesive vinyl on my Silhouette Cameo.

Simple rainbow string art tutorial that can be used to make any shape you want!

And that’s it!  This project cost me nothing since I already had everything I needed at home, but even then, it is a fairly inexpensive project since embroidery floss and a package of nails are a dollar or less for each.

Simple rainbow string art tutorial that can be used to make any shape you want!

Have you tried string art before?  What image would you want to create?

St. Patrick’s Day Books for Kids (Ages: 3-10)

15+ books for kids ages 3-10 about leprechauns, St. Patrick's Day and being lucky.

One year when I was about 9 or 10, I decided not to wear any green on St. Patrick’s Day.  The truth is, my eyes are green and I wanted to play a trick on my friends so that when they pinched me for not wearing green, I could turn around and pinch them back 10 times.  (That’s the rule, isn’t it?)  I remember other years trying to be sneaky about where I placed my item of green: underwear, socks, a hair elastic, a bracelet or earrings.  Now that I’m older, I still think it’s fun to celebrate this tradition of wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day and my kids have loved it the last couple of years as well now that they are old enough to correlate green with the holiday.  And ever since having kids, I try to find a book or two that goes along with the holiday that we’re celebrating, including the one about leprechauns and pots of gold.

This post contains affiliate links which if clicked on and a purchase is made, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

With St. Patrick’s Day coming up next week, I thought it would be fun to gather a list of children’s books about the holiday.  I remember some of these books from when I was in elementary school and I know my kids will love them too.  I’ve included a direct link to the book as well as the age range that is suggested for each book.  I hope you’ll be “lucky” enough to find a book or two to help celebrate this fun holiday! *wink*

15+ books for kids ages 3-10 about leprechauns, St. Patrick's Day and being lucky.
How To Catch A Leprechaun by Adam Wallace
Ages: 4-10
15+ books for kids ages 3-10 about leprechauns, St. Patrick's Day and being lucky.
Ten Lucky Leprechauns by Kathryn Heling
Ages: 3-5

15+ books for kids ages 3-10 about leprechauns, St. Patrick's Day and being lucky.
That’s What Leprechauns Do by Eve Bunting
Ages: 4-7

15+ books for kids ages 3-10 about leprechauns, St. Patrick's Day and being lucky.
The Story of the Leprechaun by Katherine Tegen
Ages: 4-8

15+ books for kids ages 3-10 about leprechauns, St. Patrick's Day and being lucky.
How To Trap A Leprechaun by Sue Fliess
Ages: 3-6

15+ books for kids ages 3-10 about leprechauns, St. Patrick's Day and being lucky.
The Luckiest St. Patrick’s Day Ever by Teddy Slater
Ages: 4-8

15+ books for kids ages 3-10 about leprechauns, St. Patrick's Day and being lucky.
Tim O’Toole and the Wee Folk by Gerald McDermott
Ages: 5 and up

15+ books for kids ages 3-10 about leprechauns, St. Patrick's Day and being lucky.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Curious George by H. A. Rey
Ages: 3 and up

15+ books for kids ages 3-10 about leprechauns, St. Patrick's Day and being lucky.
The Leprechaun Who Lost His Rainbow by Sean Callahan
Ages: 6-8

15+ books for kids ages 3-10 about leprechauns, St. Patrick's Day and being lucky.
There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Clover by Lucille Colandro
Ages: 3-5

15+ books for kids ages 3-10 about leprechauns, St. Patrick's Day and being lucky.
Jack and the Leprechaun by Ivan Robertson
Ages: 3-7

15+ books for kids ages 3-10 about leprechauns, St. Patrick's Day and being lucky.
The Little Leprechaun Who Loved Yellow by Sally Huss
Ages: 2-8

15+ books for kids ages 3-10 about leprechauns, St. Patrick's Day and being lucky.
Lucky Tucker by Leslie McGuirk
Ages: 2-5

15+ books for kids ages 3-10 about leprechauns, St. Patrick's Day and being lucky.
A Fine St. Patrick’s Day by Susan Wojciechowski
Ages: 3-7

15+ books for kids ages 3-10 about leprechauns, St. Patrick's Day and being lucky.
Discovery In The Woods: A St. Patrick’s Day Surprise (Leprechaun Adventure Series: Book 1) by Sandy Barton
Ages: 8 and up

15+ books for kids ages 3-10 about leprechauns, St. Patrick's Day and being lucky.
Leprechauns Don’t Play Basketball (The Adventures of The Bailey School Kids, #4) by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones
Ages: 7-10

15+ books for kids ages 3-10 about leprechauns, St. Patrick's Day and being lucky.
Leprechauns Never Lie by Lorna Balian
Ages: 4-7 

And if you’re looking for more St. Patrick’s Day fun, check out this round up of 60+ coloring and activity pages!  You could easily use any of these books plus the printables found above for an awesome low-stress, kid-friendly holiday celebration.
What are your favorite St. Patrick’s Day traditions?

How To Host a Successful Yard Sale

How To Host A Successful Yard Sale--10 tips for organizing, advertising and running a money-making yard sale

Each summer, my mom would hand us boxes or bags and tell us to go through our room and get rid of the things we no longer liked or used.  She also had us help with going through other rooms in the house.  Then we’d price the items we wanted to sell so we could put them in our yard sale.  We had to get up early on the day of the yard sale and help set up, try and sell things to our friends and then take it all down and give away anything that didn’t sell.  For as long as I can remember, we did this every single summer.  Even after I moved away to college, I could count on my mom holding a yard sale.  I learned how to let go of unwanted/unused items, how to price to sell, how to count change and many other skills.

So when my in-laws decided they wanted to sell the home they’d been in for 26 years and needed help getting rid of stuff, I volunteered to help sell it.  I had sold plenty of my own items using Facebook yard sale groups (a post I will do soon!) and knew I could help make them some money as they purged.  As their unwanted items continued to accumulate, I knew I was going to need to do a yard sale.  The thought kind of excited me because I love the challenge of selling things to others (although I am definitely not a sales person and could never be one).

For the last two weeks, I’ve had two words on my mind: yard sale.   Eat, sleep, breath, yard sale.  Eat, sleep, breathe, yard sale.  Slowly our garage filled up with all the things they wanted to get rid of.  Finally, this last weekend, I held a yard sale at my house and made over $1100.  How?  Let me tell you.

Advertise Like Crazy  If you’re going to spend the time that it takes to sort through your stuff, price it and set it all up in your yard, you better make sure that as many people know about your yard sale as possible.  I am part of 15+ Facebook yard sale groups and two neighborhood Facebook groups.  In addition, my city allows you to submit your yard sale information and they will post it in their yard sale listings for free.  So when it came time to let people know about the yard sale, I posted in every single yard sale group I belong to, the two neighborhood groups, the city listings and my personal Facebook page.  That is over 20 listings that expose 1000s of people to the date, time and location of my yard sale.  The day before the sale, I posted in each of the groups I just listed and also included pictures of some of the best items I was going to have for sale.  Items such as furniture, tools, baby clothes and home decor are great because people are always looks for good deals on those things.

*Extra Tip: Clean the items you’re selling to make them look as nice as possible, both before taking pictures and during the yard sale.  People will pay more for something if it looks clean.  Even if what you have is nice, if it is dusty or has cobwebs on it from being in storage, people won’t look as closely at it.  If they do look close, they might not want to pay as much as it’s worth because it’s dirty.

How To Host A Successful Yard Sale--10 tips for organizing, advertising and running a money-making yard sale

3 B’s: Big Signs, Big Words and Balloons
Part of advertising for a yard sale is making it as easy as possible for people to get to you.  This year, I bought two pieces of white poster board and three yard sale signs with a place to write my address on them from the dollar store, as well as balloons (all the same color).  During the summer, there are a lot of people who do yard sales.  If you want people to come to yours, you have to do two things: 1) get their attention and 2) tell them where to go.  When making a yard sale sign, I only include the following: the words YARD SALE (or MULTI-FAMILY YARD SALE or MOVING SALE), the date, the time and the address, and usually in that order.  Use black sharpie and make your words big and bold.  I generally write in all caps.  Don’t get fancy.  The mistake a lot of people make is trying to fit too much in a small area and then you can’t read anything because you don’t know what to focus on.  Give people the basic information they need to know and they will come.  Another way to get a person’s attention is balloons.  How often do you see balloons attached to a sign and wonder what it’s for so you look when you pass by?  Other people do the same thing.  Be consistent so people can follow your signs.  (This is why I use all the same color poster board, markers and balloons on each sign.)  Place your signs at crossroads (like a four way stop) and at the entrance(s) to your neighborhood.  Include arrows on your signs so they know which direction to go.

Organize Items Into Categories
This tip might sound like a no brainer, but if you’ve ever been to a yard sale where anything and everything is just thrown haphazardly onto tables or blankets, you know this is important.  Whenever I do my yard sales, I always put similar items together: home decor, tools, craft supplies, games/toys, holiday/seasonal, jewelry, kitchen, etc.  As I’m sorting and pricing, I try to keep the same things together in bins or boxes.  Then, a day or two before the sale, I set up tables in my garage and start sorting the bins/boxes into tables so I know exactly how much I have in each category.  This year, I had a ton of home decor stuff so I found that I needed two tables to display it.  Kitchen items also needed two tables.  Yard and tools needed one.  And so on.  Doing this makes set up go a whole lot smoother the morning of the sale.

How To Host A Successful Yard Sale--10 tips for organizing, advertising and running a money-making yard sale

Up Off the Ground
One of the best tips I can give for hosting your own yard sale is to borrow as many tables as you can.  I borrowed at least 12 from family and friends (in addition to the two I already had) and I still didn’t have as many as I would have liked.  The reason having tables is important is because stuff sells better when it’s on a table as opposed to the ground.  It displays better and it looks nicer.  When you couple this with organizing items into categories, you will have more people buying things because it’s easier to browse through and it’s more visible.  They don’t have to stoop down to sort through what you have.  Get your stuff off the ground.

Make Signs
Another nice touch is to make signs for each of the tables indicating what is on them.  Some people come to yard sales with specific categories they are looking to browse through.  If you make it easy for them to find what they are looking for, they may be more willing to buy what they find.  I’ve had plenty of customers come up and tell me they liked how organized everything was.  People will notice if you take the time to add little touches like signs for your tables.

Label Everything
This is definitely my least favorite part of prepping for a yard sale.  It takes a long time to label everything.  But if you decide not to label your items, you’ll be frustrated during the sale when you have people constantly coming up to you asking what the price is for this or that.  The only things I don’t label are clothes.  Instead I put the price on a sign: $1 for long-sleeve shirt, $.50 for pants, etc.  If you make signs for a group of items, be sure to have a list of the prices with you at checkout.

*Extra Tip: If you are hosting a group yard sale, I would suggest color coding or marking each label with the seller’s initials.  Section off a few pages in a notebook for each family/person participating in the yard sale.  Have the notebook with you at checkout.  Take off the price stickers as you total their purchase.  Then put each sticker in the notebook on the corresponding page.

Greet People When You See Them
If you’ve ever worked in retail, one of the most important things they teach you is to try and greet every person who walks in the doors.  The same goes for yard sales.  When you see someone come up, try and catch their eye and say ‘hi’ or ‘good morning/afternoon’.  It lets people know that you saw them come up and they will feel good they were recognized.

Make Friendly Conversation
I always make an effort to talk to the person who is checking out.  I will comment on the items they bought or compliment them on their shirt or purse or ask them what they plan to do with the item they purchased.  It (generally) puts people at ease and it passes the time while you are totaling up what they bought.  Smiling and being friendly will go a long way and people will feel good about their experience.

How To Host A Successful Yard Sale--10 tips for organizing, advertising and running a money-making yard sale

Sell Baked Goods and Drinks
If you have kids, and even if you don’t, selling baked goods and drinks at a little homemade stand just makes people feel more comfortable.  We had a lemonade and cookie stand at our most recent yard sale with a cooler full of soda pop and bottled water.  Last year, I had muffins and banana bread next to me at checkout and I had a lot of early morning shoppers buy some for their breakfast.  It’s an easy and inexpensive way to provide something that people want or need, especially on a hot day.  Plus, if you have cute kids manning the stand, you might get the neighborhood kids coming too!

Be Willing To Negotiate
It might be tempting to want to sell your things for exactly the price you marked them at, but when it comes down to it, you need to be willing to negotiate.  You have to get into the mindset that you put these things out in your yard to sell and if you want to get rid of them, you might have to take a little less than you’d like.  If it’s a decision between a few dollars and selling the item(s), just sell it for less.  For example, I had a family purchase a ton of stuff, mostly small items, but it was about $85.  This was a great deal for what they were getting.  They asked if they could get a discount for buying so much stuff.  I offered to knock off $5 and make it $80.  And then, rather than asking, “Is that ok?”, I said, “Does that seem fair to you?”  By forming the question this way, they had to think about what they were getting in proportion to what I was offering to do for them by lowering the price on already low priced items.  There are always exceptions of course.  We had a handful of things that I wasn’t willing to negotiate on.  One was a Christmas tree from Costco that my in-laws had bought for $350 and used it one year.  I had it marked at $75, which was a fantastic deal.  There were a few people who offered $40 or $50 but I turned it down because I knew the tree was worth more and I knew that if I didn’t sell it at the yard sale, I could sell it online through a Facebook yard sale group.

So there you have it!  My recipe for success!  While I can’t guarantee you’ll make $1000 at your next yard sale, I can tell you that if you follow these tips, you’ll have a much better chance of getting there.

**Also, if selling items online is your preference, or you just don’t have the space or enough items to host a sale, you can check out these great posts about how to sell your stuff online.  It’s a four part series which goes over the following:

Good luck! 

10 Things Motherhood Has Taught Me

10 Things Motherhood Has Taught Me

Mother’s Day is coming up this weekend and like many women out there, it’s given me some time to reflect and think about my own mother as well as my experiences with being a mother myself.  Today, I’m sharing some things I’ve learned in the four years and four months since I became a mother.

You are a walking dictionary/thesaurus
One of the goals I had when I became a parent was to help my children have a good vocabulary.  What I didn’t know when I made this goal was that by doing so I was also going to become and walking-talking dictionary and thesaurus.  All day long I hear, “Mom, what does (fill-in-the-blank) mean?”  I can’t even count how many times a day I hear these words.  It’s almost become second nature for me to listen to what I say and anticipate when my kids will ask what a words means.  I always giggle to myself when my kids, mostly my daughter (age 4), asks my husband what something means and he has a hard time explaining it in a way she’ll understand.  He doesn’t get quite the same amount of practice that I do. *wink*  As frustrating as it can be at times, I’m grateful that my kids are curious and want to know what words mean and about the world around them.

No matter how hard you try, you will still yell at your kids sometimes
I never though of myself as a yeller.  I still don’t.  But there are days when being a parent is HARD and instead of patience and understanding, I yell.  And then I feel horrible as I watch my children’s faces crumple up and tears well up in their eyes.  *sigh*  I wish someone had told me that there would be days where I would yell at my kids.  The worst is when you yell at them and then find out they were trying to be nice or thoughtful.  I’ve learned that kids are so quick to forgive and I’m grateful to them for that.

10 Things Motherhood Has Taught Me

Your food is not your own
See that plate in front of you?  The food on it isn’t actually yours.  It’s your kids.  At least that’s what they think.  Maybe we’ve conditioned them to think that, since from the time they are young we give them little bites of food from our plate.  Regardless, it seems rare to go through a meal without at least one child asking for some of the food or drink in front of us when we clearly have the same thing in front of us that they do in front of them.  And that chocolate you’ve been hiding?  Forget about it.  Kids have superior hearing and smell when it comes to all things sugar so you better lock it up tight and don’t even think about eating it until you’re sure you’re alone.

Kids are gross
There will be a point (read: many points) where you have to clean up really gross stuff.  If your child has ever exploded out of their diaper, spit up down your shirt, or thrown up right into your outstretched hands, you know what I’m talking about.  There is nothing that could have prepared me for this part of parenting.  Sure, I knew it was there.  People talk about it.  I wasn’t totally naive.  But if I stop and think about some of the gross things I’ve had to clean up…*shudder*

You are your kids hero
As a mother, I make mistakes every. single. day.  I think it goes without saying that no one is perfect.  I’ve had many days when my kids will come up to me and give me a big hug for no reason and say “I love you” or “Mommy, you’re my best friend.”  That.  That right there gives me a little boost to do better and be better because these little people are counting on me.

10 Things Motherhood Has Taught Me

Your love will grow every single day
There are some things in life that you just won’t fully understand until you experience them yourself (and maybe not even then).  I think being a mother is one of those things.  I remember growing up and hearing my parents say, “You’ll understand when you become a parent.”  And I do.  It’s incredible to me that if I think back to the day each of my kids were born, I know that I love them more today than I did then.

Some days you won’t like your kid(s)
On the other hand, there will be days that you just plain don’t like your kid(s).  I’ve had a few of these.  They are usually the days where one or both of my kids are being naughty or talking back or doing any other number of things that frustrate me.  I sometimes think of the movie How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days when Andie and Ben have just broken up and Andie is leaving his apartment and Ben comes running after and suggests couple therapy.  And then Andie says, “I love you, but right now I don’t like you.”  That’s how I feel about my kids some days.

Hearing your children laugh is magic
I really believe that there are few sounds as magical as hearing my children laugh.  Whether it’s because they are being tickled or chased around the house or they are just playing together, I love hearing their laughter.  I wish I could bottle it up and save it for rainy days.

10 Things Motherhood Has Taught Me

A completely clean house is a myth
Keeping my house clean when I have little kids is basically impossible.  I’ve learned I have to settle for certain parts of my house to be clean at different times.  Right now, the kids bathroom and bedroom are clean, but the kitchen and living room are a mess.  Other days, the basement is spotless but my bedroom looks like a tornado just came through.  Just as I get something cleaned up, the kids will pull it out.  It’s like the definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  However, the house does stay a bit cleaner now that I have a chore chart for my daughter.  Even my son likes to help with putting dishes away or vacuuming under the kitchen table after a meal.

They are observant
I am amazed again and again at how observant my kids are.  Not to mention, my daughter has the memory of an elephant.  Kids truly learn by example and they copy my husband and I in everything we do and say.  They keep us accountable.  It’s always a little funny when my daughter reminds my husband that we “don’t say that word (i.e. stupid, dumb, butt)” or my son points to a chair and asks us to “sit, sit” as we eat our food.

When all is said and done, I wouldn’t trade being a mother for anything in the world.  My kids are wonderful, kind, smart, sweet, thoughtful and curious.  They bring out the best (and worst) in me and remind me that I can always try again to be better.

I hope you all have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

14 Meaningful Gifts for Mother’s Day

Let’s face it: Mother’s Day gifts can be so hard to come up with!  You want to give something meaningful.  You want to be thoughtful.  You want them to like it.  (And not just because it’s from you, but because you want them to really like what you give them.)  I feel like some years, the right gift is obvious.  You see it, or you think of it and it’s a no-brainer.  But most years, at least for me, it isn’t like that.  Heck, I can’t even tell my husband what I want for Christmas or my birthday most of the time!  So I’ve taken some time to think about some Mother’s Day gift ideas that your mom (or maybe you) would like to receive.  Or possibly one of the items you see will help you think of something else that she’d like.

Scrapbook (Traditional or Digital):  Making a scrapbook today is so much easier and faster than it used to be.  With websites and apps, like Chatbook or Shutterfly, all you really need to do is upload your photos, drop them into a template (or design it from scratch) and send it in to be published.  And if you decide to go the traditional route using printed pictures, there are pre-made scrapbooks that you can buy if making one from scratch seems daunting or too time consuming.  (I’ve seen them at JoAnn’s and Hobby Lobby.)

Personalized Mug/Clothing/Kitchen Towel:  Going along with the personalization theme, you can also purchase almost anything with kids and/or grandkids names or images on them.  I’ve seen mugs, shirts, kitchen towels, keychains and various other items.  If you have a certain item you want personalized, check out Etsy and see what is available.  I’d be surprised if you didn’t find something.

Gift Certificate for Massage or Mani/Pedi:  If your mom is the kind that likes massages, manicures and/or pedicures, why not look into purchasing a gift certificate for her at her favorite spa?  There are always good deals on Groupon, Living Social and Amazon Local for any of these items.  The gift of a relaxing day (or at least a few hours) is something I think most women will appreciate.

Image from O Jolie Designs

Personalized/Custom Jewelry:  One year, my sister, step-sister and I pitched in and got my step-mom a necklace with all of the grandkids’ names and birthstone on it.  It was a personal gift and a beautiful way for her to keep her grandkids close.  Plus, we can always add to it as more kids come along.  We purchased ours from one of my favorite Etsy shops for hand stamped jewelry and keepsakes called O Jolie Designs.

Service: Perform an act of service, such as weeding the garden or cleaning out the garage.  You could do it as a surprise or together and use it as an opportunity to talk and bond.

Plan an Activity and Create a Memory:  Last year for Mother’s Day, we took my mom out to the aquarium and spent a few hours with her.  It was special because we were able to create a memory from it and take pictures to remember it.  Maybe your mom likes going on hikes or to the ballet.  Think of an activity you could do together, whether it’s just the two of you, all the siblings, just girls or extended family, and go make some memories.

Accessories for Hobby:  If your mom has a hobby, there is probably something you could buy to go along with it.  Golfing?  New gloves or clubs.  Biking?  A comfy seat or biking shoes.  Cooking?  That new pan or gadget she’s been looking at.  There are so many options that there’s no way I could even begin to list them all, but if your mom has a hobby, there’s probably something she could use to supplement it.

Flowers/Potted Plant:  I know many ladies who like to receive flowers or potted plants as gifts.  You could include a bouquet of her favorite flowers with another gift or have some flowers or a potted plant as the gift itself.

Chocolates or a Favorite Treat:  I know it’s cliche, but there’s a reason it is: lots of women like chocolate.  And I’m not talking a Hershey’s bar.  I’m talking about the really good stuff that you buy from a chocolate store that melts in your mouth.  If chocolates aren’t her thing, buy her favorite treat.  Maybe it’s something that’s hard to find or has special meaning.

Home/Office Decor:  There have been years here and there that I’ve bought or made decor for my mom or step-mom to display.  I know their styles so it hasn’t been difficult to find something I think they’d like.

Book, Journal or Notebook:  For as long as I can remember, my mom has always had a stack of books next to her bed.  She loves reading and has some favorite authors and genres, so finding a book she would like is generally not too difficult.  Along those lines, you could also purchase a journal or notebook for her to keep handy and write her thoughts down.

Poem or Letter:  You could find a poem that describes your mom or how you feel about her, or you could write one yourself.  I’ve done both and each have been received with tears and hugs.  I’ve also written a thank you letter expressing my love and gratitude for them.  If you’re looking for a way to get your mom crying, or at the least a little misty-eyed, go for this option. *wink*

Something made by the Grandkids:  I’ve seen some cute ideas on Pinterest where you have your child draw or paint a picture and you take a picture of them making it.  Then you include both the picture they made and the picture of them in a frame (check out this one).  There are also lots of other ideas involving hand prints/foot prints of each grandchild (like this one here).

Printable Fill-in-the-Blank about Mom/Grandma:  Another fun Pinterest find and so easy and cute.  Grab one of the many free fill-in-the-blank printables for moms/grandmas (like this one) and have your kids finish the sentence.  Then you could put them together in a notebook or with the gift that you give to her.  I love these kind of gifts because there are always a few tears and some laughter involved as they are read.

I hope this list gave you an idea or two or at least got your wheels turning!

What are some of your favorite items to give or receive?

New Years Resolutions Check Up

New Years Resolutions Check Up

Can you believe we are already three months into the new year?  Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter have all come and gone.  Spring is here.  Time seems to go by more quickly every year and sometimes I just want to yell for it to STOP !  Do you feel the same?

At the end of last year, I shared some of the goals I had set for myself for this coming year.  Then, at the beginning of the year, I gave some tips for improving success in reaching those goals.  Now that we are 3 months into the new year, I wanted to do a little check up on how those goals are going for me.  Maybe it will help you reflect on your own goals as well.

Goal: Be more charitable
Progress: This goal isn’t as easy to show progress on.  I feel like I’ve had situations or even days where I’m able to view people with more love and charity.  But I also know there are times when charity hasn’t been a part of my reaction to someone or something.
Room for Improvement: In my original post, I shared a quote that inspired me to make this a more consistent part of my life.  The very end says, “Charity is expecting the best of each other.”  To improve on this goal, I need to remember this overarching statement and not get too caught up in specifics.  If you are expecting the best of someone, your perspective will change too.

Goal: Exercise regularly
Progress: Starting in the fall of last year, I started going to a weekly dance class.  I’ve continued going to this class on a weekly basis, but haven’t increased my exercise.
Room for Improvement: So technically, I am exercising regularly, but I feel like I could increase my exercise to at least a couple of times a week.  This should be a little easier to do now that the weather is improving and I can go on more walks with my kids around the neighborhood.

New Years Resolutions Check Up

Goal: Spend more one-on-one time with each member of my family
Progress: I don’t feel much progress has been made on this goal.  I do get one-on-one time with each member of my family, but it’s usually doing things that have to be done, such as reading lessons with my daughter, running errands with my son or folding laundry with my husband.  They aren’t things that necessarily build our relationship.
Room for Improvement: When I originally made this goal, it was with the intent to set up specific activities with each person that would help us grow closer.  I think in order to make this work better, I need to plan out a time each week to do something with each person, even if it’s just painting fingernails and toenails with my daughter.

Goal: Keep up on my personal journal writing
Progress: I didn’t start working on this goal until recently.  I’ve been trying to be realistic about how often I can actually write in my journal.  I found a cute, new journal and set it next to my bed so that I can write a summary of how the day went.
Room for Improvement: I started out strong, but have slowly tapered off.  I think to make this work better, I will need to create an evening routine that allows enough time to reflect on the day and write about it.

Goal: Tell family and friends that I love and appreciate them more often
Progress: This is another hard one to qualify, but I think it’s safe to say that there is always room for improvement in this area.
Room for Improvement: In order to incorporate this more into my life and way of being, I need to be specific about what I love and appreciate about a person.  I can tell my daughter thank you for putting away her clothes without being asked.  I can tell my son that I love when he shares his toys.  I can tell my husband thank you for doing the dishes every night.

Goal: Choose happiness
Progress: Due to some difficult things I’ve been dealing with over the last few months, this particular goal has been a real challenge for me.  I’ve had some very sad days.  The kind of days that finding the desire to be happy can only be reached with real effort.
Room for Improvement: Because of some of the things I’ve been facing, I almost feel afraid to be too happy sometimes.  However, I am going to renew my goal to choose happiness because there is always something good to be seen.

How are you doing on your new years resolutions?

Spring/Easter Mantle Inspiration

Spring/Easter Mantle Inspiration--some fun ideas for decorating around the home in the springtime/Easter time that won't break the bank.

So I’ve had my spring/Easter “mantle” up for a couple of weeks, but I’ve added a couple of pieces to it that I love and I didn’t want to show it to you until I was happy with how it looks.  You’ll notice I put “mantle” in quotes because I don’t actually have a real mantle to decorate.  Instead, we have a “credenza” which is basically a narrow table with storage cabinets.  But I couldn’t very well title this post “Spring/Easter Credenza Inspiration”.  So mantle it is.  And I hope you’ll forgive me if you think the title is misleading and look at all the cute things I have to show you instead. *wink*
When I think of springtime, bright happy colors come to mind.  So that’s what I did when deciding how to decorate.  I’ve mentioned before that I like using classic pieces to decorate with, no matter what holiday or season I’m decorating for, which is what I did for spring/Easter.

Spring/Easter Mantle Inspiration--some fun ideas for decorating around the home in the springtime/Easter time that won't break the bank.

The wreath is one I’ve had for a few years.  (Usually it’s hanging on my front door during the spring and summer, but I’ve currently got a cute shamrock wreath there right now.)  I made it using a grapevine wreath and wrapped a couple of 6-ft lengths of the yellow flowers around it and secured the ends by poking them into the wreath.  I think it cost me about $15 to make.  The wreath stand came from Rod Works.

Spring/Easter Mantle Inspiration--some fun ideas for decorating around the home in the springtime/Easter time that won't break the bank.

The ‘tulip’ blocks were purchased from a cute website called Thoughts in Vinyl.  They have a huge selection of wood craft kits at awesome prices.  On the other side, it has the letters to make the word ‘Easter’.  I opted for a more natural look and didn’t bother with painting the blocks.  I just cut out the scrapbook paper and mod podged it on, then applied the vinyl.  Total cost was about $12.

I recently picked up a ‘mini post’ (far left in main picture) from a local wood craft store called The Wood Connection.  It has cute little wood cutouts that you can paint and mod podge and swap out for each month/season/holiday.  The post was $10 and the cutouts range from $2-3.

Spring/Easter Mantle Inspiration--some fun ideas for decorating around the home in the springtime/Easter time that won't break the bank.

Spring/Easter Mantle Inspiration--some fun ideas for decorating around the home in the springtime/Easter time that won't break the bank.

The small white lantern came from Tai Pan and the white crate, burlap carrots and chick came from Hobby Lobby and each cost between $2-$10.

Spring/Easter Mantle Inspiration--some fun ideas for decorating around the home in the springtime/Easter time that won't break the bank.

Another one of my classic pieces are the hurricane vases.  I made these a few months ago and they are perfect for swapping out various holiday items.  (See the tutorial here.)  For Easter/spring, I bought some of the crinkle grass from the dollar store and I already had the plastic Easter eggs.  I just put a little grass in, then an egg and so on until it looked the way I wanted.  You could also use the mini plastic eggs.

Spring/Easter Mantle Inspiration--some fun ideas for decorating around the home in the springtime/Easter time that won't break the bank.

The burlap table runner is another one of my DIY crafts you can find here on the blog.  It is so easy to make and doesn’t cost much at all.  I’ve been using it since October as the base for all my holiday/season “mantles” and I love that it adds just a little bit of rustic charm to everything.  (See the tutorial here.)

And there you have it!  I hope my mantle gave you a few ideas for your own spring/Easter mantle decorations!

Do you like to decorate for the holidays or do you keep the same decor up year round?