Sunday, September 29, 2013

Coral and Blue Gender-Neutral Baby Shower

This weekend I had the pleasure of co-hosting {with my mom} a shower for my sister-in-law, Hannah.  She and my brother are due to have their first baby in just a few short weeks…and they’re not sharing the names or finding out the gender before the birth. 

To which I’ve told them about a million times: YOU’RE KILLING ME SMALLS.


I am suuuuuper impatient, plus I just like to plan ahead.  I knew about my kids’ genders at 20 weeks and as soon as the gender was revealed, we revealed our final name selection to our families and friends.  It would have seriously, SERIOUSLY killed me not to know!  But…clearly there is not one right way to do it, and I have to admit, it is a little fun not knowing what the call from the hospital will be in a few weeks!

So anyway, I set out to plan a gender-neutral shower.  I was in charge of decor, and my mom took over the food since it was at her house.  There’s not really a ton of stuff out there {on the internet} for planning gender-neutral showers, since the majority of people find out the sex and also share the names.  Since green and yellow as a combo isn’t really a favorite of mine, and since Hannah’s favorite color is red, I decided to go with a more modern, fun twist on gender-neutral and do reds (coral/orange-red) with blues. 


I made a whole bunch of these pinwheels, using scrapbook paper {mostly from Hobby Lobby.}  I had made them 3 years ago for Luke’s party, so I made a whole bunch again, this time in different colors.  They’re super easy to do!


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I scrounged around both my house and my mom’s for any antique books with red or blue bindings, and threw a bunch of baby blocks around the base instead of table confetti. 



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I also happen to think that tissue-paper pom-poms are still pretty fabulous {thank you Martha}, so I made a bunch of them in different colors and hung them from my mom’s chandeliers (she has one in every room, which worked out really well for me!  lol). 


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Pennant banners are also such an easy – and cheap! - way to dress up a space! 


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I used blue mason jars of different sizes, along with small glass jars I’ve had for ages that I picked up at various yard sales.  The random cow was just something my mom had in the house and it looked babyish.  lol

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Tip: filling the jars with sugar helps the pinwheels stay in place so you can arrange them the way you want!


I also picked up some felt at Hobby Lobby in the shower colors and cut out different-sized circles to decorate the food table.  This picture is before all the food was out but we had 4 quiches, hash-brown casseroles, apple cider donuts, Panera bagels, and a big fruit salad, along with juices, teas, and coffee.  For dessert we had homemade cupcakes.  My mom did a great job with the food – it was delish! 

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I was also SO thrilled that Wal-Mart had napkins, plates, and cups in the exact shower colors!  For 97 cents – I couldn’t believe it!  For the silverware, I took tin cans and wrapped them with scrapbook paper and double-sided tape.  Just a cute little way to add a little extra something. 


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I took a vintage chalkboard I already had and set it atop a Coke cup holder I had found at Goodwill a while back.  I love chalkboards so I thought this would be fun.  This is when the party had just started and I was running around like crazy trying to take pictures of everything because I seriously *always* forget to do that.  I think by the end of the party there was maybe 9 boy and 7 girl?  But not everyone remembered to vote.  My vote is totally boy! 


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A vintage frame I already had…again with another pennant banner!  Can’t get enough of them.  Josh and Hannah were such cute little kids!

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We ate, played two games and then she opened all of her gifts and we had dessert.  It was a really nice time and I laughed a lot! 


I had to grab a quick picture with Hannah - isn’t her dress fabulous?!  Seriously, Olivia was only born 8 months ago and already I catch myself saying, “The clothes are so much cuter now!”  haha!

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Well, hopefully this post might inspire some of you if you ever need to throw a gender-neutral shower for someone!  I love party planning but I am a *little* relieved that I no longer have to spend my nights crafting pinwheels or tissue pom-poms!  lol


Have a great start to your week!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Homemade Ivory Soap Laundry Powder

{If you can, please scroll all the way to the bottom to read a little “p.s.” about this post from me, okay?  Thanks!}


You guys. 

This laundry powder (aka detergent, but that was obvious, right?) is soooo easy to make.  When I say 5 minutes, I literally mean 5 minutes from the time it takes to get the ingredients together, measure them, and put them into your jar.  I timed myself.  Seriously!


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I went to a seminar in the spring at a local health food co-op about how to make your own laundry soap.  The presenter used 3 ingredients – Dr. Brommer’s Soap, Washing Soda, and Baking Soda.  I tried it that way at home, and it turned out great.  I used the almond scent (my fave!) and it smelled deeeelish. 

Except….Dr. Brommer’s bar soap, while awesome, is $3.99 a bar.  Plus you still have to buy the other two ingredients.  I’m sorry, I love our planet tons, but if I can easily get regular old detergent for $1.99 on sale at the grocery store, the price is going to win out for my family. 

Enter…Ivory soap.  This is the soap I used growing up, and we still use it in our house now.  It regularly goes on sale at my local grocery stores, it’s super cheap, PLUS there are frequently coupons for it in the paper.  I’ve gotten it for free or close to free many times before.  It’s unscented and super mild, so I knew it would be safe for my kids’ clothes. 


And it works great! 

Here’s how you do it:

First, grate your soap.  Seriously, this took me less than 2 minutes.  I timed myself.  Watch a YouTube video while you do it if you really need some incentive. 

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Just make sure if you leave it on the counter nobody in your house mistakes it for shredded coconut.  lol


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Then, measure your baking soda and washing soda (you’ll need 1/2 C of each). 

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Add your baking and washing soda mixture to your shredded soap.  I like to dump everything into a gallon-size ziploc to mix it all in and shake it around. 


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Then pour it all into a jar (or you could totally just leave it in the bag, if you prefer!).  I like to keep mine in a mason jar.  I have a thing for those vintage zinc lids! 


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That’s IT! You’re finished! And you may or may not feel very accomplished and a little like Laura Ingalls.  Or maybe that’s just me.  lol


Here’s the “technical” recipe:

1 bar of Ivory soap, grated
1/2 C of washing soda
1/2 C of baking soda

Add 1 T to a full load of laundry (modify more or less for smaller loads or heavily soiled loads).   **I doubled the recipe for myself, so your mason jar will not be as full as mine if you follow this recipe as-is.*


Helpful hints:

- I like to start my washer and then sprinkle in the powder as the water starts, in order to help it dissolve a little. Then I add my clothes.

- I wash all of my kids’ clothes and some of my clothes on gentle cycle.  Occasionally on gentle cycle I will notice a flake or two here and there of Ivory that hasn’t dissolved after the cycle has completed.  Just flick it off – no biggie!

- I continue to use Shout as spot treatment for stains (I’ve always done that).  As long as I do that for tough stains like food from my kids, this detergent woks just as well as any other detergent I’ve tried!  I made sure to test it thoroughly before sharing with all of you.  :)


So, there you go!  A super cheap, clean, much-more-environmentally-friendly method of cleaning your clothes.  If you try it be sure and let me know how it works for you! :)



Okay, so on to my little “p.s.” You might notice that every so often I’m going to have pictures up on my blog that have text on them.  Aka “The Pinterest-Worthy Pictures.”  Unless you’ve been off Pinterest for a while, you’re probably well aware that the site is FULL of pictures like this.  It’s a little obnoxious, I’ll admit it.  And sometimes super annoying.  (Aka a blogger I really like once had a picture of her son’s face and text around him saying something like, “How to talk to your kids about s-x.”  Really?!  You want that picture of your son with those words going around the internet?  So yes, people take it a little far.  I will 100% agree with that. 

BUT.  This blog makes my family a {small!} amount of side income, thanks to the ads on the side.  I am soooo grateful to God for allowing this little bit of money to come in to help us out as a one-income household.  So I figured why fight Pinterest – just embrace it.  Kinda like pointed-toe shoes in college.  I swore I would never own a pair because they looked like witch shoes, but lo and behold I caved and my short little legs had never looked longer or better.  I ended up with multiple pairs.  But I digress.  haha!

Anyway, these Made-for-Pinterest photos aren’t going away, so I’m going with it.  I’m trying out posts here and there to see how they do in the Pinterest world.  So if you see one from me every now and then, you have every right in the world to roll your eyes and refuse to click through.  Or you can {bless your little heart} use the “Pin-It” button that hovers over my pictures, and bring it to the big wide world of Pinterest.  But just know that I’m just a stay-at-home mom of two trying to make a few extra dollars for my family and trying my hardest NOT to annoy anyone in the process.  Really. :)


Okay, I hope that all made sense!  Thanks for sticking with me! :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Little Bits of Happy

We spent the majority of our weekend in New York City {Manhattan and Staten Island}, seeing a friend from college get married.  We got to spend time with two other college friends and had a wonderful time.  I treasure these few and far-between times with college friends, because life after school has thrown us all around the country.  And honestly, we’re running out of friends getting married and giving us an excuse to see each other!

Today is one of those days I’m just so happy to be home, in my space, loving on my kiddos and enjoying puttering around and being here.  I love when times away (even super quick trips like this one!) reinvigorate my love for the life I have and the three precious people in my family.  It is no secret I absolutely 100% love the life and vitality of big cities – I had an amazing time and loved every second of it, to be sure. 

But home is good too.  My life is SO far from perfect or problem-free, but I still wouldn’t trade my life with a single other person I know. 

So today, I am grateful for…


…great memories with my husband and two dear old friends.  Makes me happy that we can still connect and have a great time even when the time between visits has been long {annnnd a dress that only cost me $2 at Goodwill – still super excited about that deal!}…

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…my beloved Pike Place roast this morning {thrifted mug, still love it} and homemade cinnamon swirl bread, thanks to my friend Amber sharing her recipe.  {Is there anything happier than homemade toasted bread covered in salty butter?!}…


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…a fall-weather-is-creeping-in chill in the air…

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…coupled with the beautiful view from my back door of our freshly-mowed yard looking out onto the farm this morning… 


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…a happy, chunky, healthy little girl playing with her toys (someone gave us these jammies for her, and every time she wears them we laugh that she’s in baby prison)…


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…a silly, sweet little boy in mis-matched jammies because Mommy is behind on laundry from the weekend, wearing a hat sideways as the sunshine floods our living room…

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…new earrings and a *delish* new candle {Hot Cider by Yankee Candle} from Kohl’s that cost me all of $.63 since I had a $5 coupon for giving them my e-mail address {thought I had done that before but I guess not?  You should totally do it if you haven’t yet!}…

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…glimpses that a precious little girl actually lives in our house this fall…

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…fall decorations, that I wait all year for, finally out of the attic and around my house…

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…the spicy, warm smell of chocolate-chip zucchini bread fresh from the oven…

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…one-on-one time with my baby girl (with serious bed-head – love it!) while big brother is at school…

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I am grateful for these simple gifts today!