Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pinterest & me

My husband and some of my friends openly make fun of me for my number of Pinterest pins but eh, what do they know. I have never been able to watch TV without doing something else so Pinterest is just perfect for me. I can sit with my iPad and collect ideas. I do almost everything worth doing that I pin and if there was a way to easily clean up your boards my page would be a place of beauty. For now I have a few 'under construction' boards that I might move and some things i'd delete if it didn't take so much darn time to do so. I use Pinterest as a resource for teaching, cooking and diy daily. Basically,  IMO it's the best thing since Starbucks.

Anyway, I do know that you know all about it. The long story there was to 1. avoid embarrassment by saying I know that 4,894 pins is more than the average user has and 2. to brag that I have 1,069 followers! Sheesh if I could just roll that over here to the blog think of the fun. Truly, I get a steady little amount of traffic at nestbliss but it is really fun to pin things on Pinterest and watch that constant social interaction happen when someone else repins, likes, comments or starts following you because they liked a board you put together. It's probably what I always wanted to happen here and the blog just never jumped over that hump where I have lots of interactive readers. I write on my blog because its fun to create an anthology of my life & to write articles about cool stuff but it must be extremely fun for the 'big' bloggers who post and within seconds have comments piling in - it's really a conversation. What a reward that i'm glad to have my little Pinterest piece of.

All that to say come over to Pinterest and join my party!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

oh yeah i own a preschool

Well through a long chain of events I co-own a school, just a preschool right now but we have BIG ideas. Co-own with the best, coolest partner ever & we have some awesome (way over-educated) teacher moms that work with us as well. Through an at times intense summer of super hard work we started the school year in an amazing huge old house with hardwood floors, gardens, and porches the size of classrooms. We have a pair of chickens running around and a monster airplane see-saw that 7 children at a time can ride on. Our kids ages 2 to 5 rotate 'classes' all day and take turns in Italian, Yoga, Art & Nature Studio (my class, like the fancy name?), English, Math, Gardening, Music, Sensory experiences & ample blocks of open play. We have gorgeous hand carved wooden dishes in our play kitchen and tons of laughter filling our hallways - life at school is very good. Seeing my own children gathered around our little school's kitchen table cooking with friends and other parents (we are cooperative) is amazing and still highly surreal. I have thought about blogging about school plenty of times but because my blog gets some kind of random traffic and I want to protect the privacy of our families I have been hesitant and really just too busy to even stop and post a little blurb!

I'll give you a little view of our front porch though. These days we eat meals and snacks whole school, family style with our blue picnic tables lined up end to end. My husband built these and 1,000 other things for us this summer & we are already in need of more! Life is full. The ability to bring to life your dreams and imaginations is a superb reality.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pioneer, Little House on the Prairie First Birthday Party

Well, about seven months ago Lilly turned one ;) We had a super party and I never blogged about it. I have been feeling nostalgic lately about Lilly and how she really is still a baby at 19 months old but she won't be for long! Such a personality and almost 'chatty' now at home, she even sometimes waves at people in public now (against her very nature). We had the party at my husband's parents house and it really was the perfect setting for the 'theme'. I try not to go hugely overboard on a birthday theme but this one was a little easier since we had so much stuff that could work already and anything I made could be used over and over since it was so neutral. Ava and I have been loving the My First Little House books and I think that inspired the theme a bit. First birthdays are just all about family and some sweet decorations for the photos in my mind ;) We have traveled home for each of our girl's first birthdays and have had about 40 people at each one, they end up almost being a family reunion. It's not pictured here but there was a HUGE amount of food served at the party.

Huge carrot cake with fresh flowers and a naughty big sister who snuck in and put her fingers in the cake. It was pretty easy to fix though. I still can't believe she did that.

Some antique napkins ironed in half and hung over twine. 

Main Table: Prairie Lincoln Logs that we already had, plus a few little wagons made by my husband from clearance craft kits from Michael's, some little baby food jars with fabric tied around them, and a burlap runner. This table came out so cute and we have used everything on it in lots of other ways since the party. 

The sign in sheet scrap book pages. I've never done anything with them but I have made and put out sign in sheets for all the girl's parties by some miracle! One day I'm sure they will all turn into something really adorable. 

Lilly was just walking ;)

Me and the girls - oh we are going to be a gossipy group one day ;) 

The banner I made hanging over the door was my favorite party decoration. It was sewn to some yellow ribbon and crocheted lace with burlap and vintage napkin pennants. 

We clipped a painters drop cloth to the wagon = instant covered wagon rides. I made that bonnet! It is hanging in her room. I love having it around as a special memory. I have a few little things from Ava's first birthday too. 

Ugh such a gorgeous, creamy, chubby baby! Perfection. I honestly can't believe she's mine some days ;) 

My father in law and sister in law painted this adorable lady bug tire swing. It is so much fun, I bet my girls and nieces will remember this ladybug tire swing as adults. 

Lilly now at 19 months old - adorable and so herself. She's going to run a small country someday or be the scariest boss you have ever had ;) 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Dog - A BIG Dog

I've never had a real 'family' dog. We had some dogs growing up but the kind that got kicked out to the yard when they were too much of a hassle to have around and quickly became the irritating 'yard dog' that brought little joy but pooped all over our play areas and still had to be fed and taken to the vet. I've never had that kind of loved pet that you would consider a family member.

I feel the need to confess that I have had a family cat, well three, oh four! - one we just rescued, kept for a few months and gave away before we moved, the next was extremely, off her rocker, crazy and had to go to the humane society (Martha). Our beloved cat (Roy) was fantastic for about four years until his baby sister cat (Betty) got out and never came back (she was my favorite pet ever) then he turned mean and aggressive and became by his choice an outside cat and well that ended badly. So after all that and having kids we've been on a three year pet hiatus. Then all of the sudden out of almost nowhere we adopted a dog last Sunday. I'd say our marriage has been pretty defined by these kinds of spur of the moment decisions ;) Ya know you have to live a little, shake it up I guess. I bet our family and friends think we just talk about all of our big choices privately and then just drop them on everyone else but i'd say we make most choices within 24hours and I usually make them in seconds. If we really have to mull it over it usually doesn't happen. We waited 5 years to have kids after getting married and the month before we decided to get pregnant with Ava we hadn't ever really even talked about when we would have kids and then just like that I was pregnant, same pattern with so many things.

Oh and not just a dog - a half Weimariner, half chocolate lab, a "Labmariner"... a really big dog! Well right now she's probably about 6lbs but soon enough she'll be huge.

Currently, we are deep in the throws of house breaking her, crate training and starting to teach her some basic skills like don't chew on the babies hands or butt no matter how hard she pulls your tail... so I have to say even though she's just the cutest thing ever, ever. She's a little intense. In fact I would say she makes me nervous - most likely because anytime she's out I am on 100% potty patrol, watching her like a hawk. The slightest squatting motion and a I drop everything, grab her leash and potty treats and run her out to her 'zone' as fast as I can. I am so the crazy dog training lady. I've never potty trained a puppy before but I have potty trained a two year old and it is done in a very similar fashion. I'm hopeful that with time and lots of hard work training her and giving her attention she'll turn into a beloved family member and a nice house mate. Much my same hope for my children ;)

She has already though made a life-long best friend in Ava. I really believe Ava truly loves her. I hope I love her like that one day too!

Oh and her name is Bella ;)
Check out my Pinterest board for all cool dog things - I love the shampoo I made her.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Making Happy

I am pretty good at making happy. I have always been. As I watch Ava grow I think she knows how to do it too. Lilly is only 17 months old and there is a particular angst that goes along with this age where you are completely aware but posses very little reason and have low communication skills - i.e. if you are given three gold fish and you want more but there are no more, you can't understand, you're so tired, so you drown yourself in screaming until something comes along to make you forget about them or in Lilly's case your Mama scoops you up and covers you with kisses as you cling to her and sob and sob about the crime of no more goldfish.

(Above her sister touched her favorite cat towel and then I didn't pick her up after she got it back. End of the world.)

But anyway, so we don't know about Lo lo (as we affectionately call her) yet, but me and Ava we are happy makers. I think I was about school age when I started changing my dreams - I remember laying down and closing my eyes and conjuring up my bestest friend Candy Roper. We would run and play all night, my mom would often come in my room thinking I was awake as I would talk to Candy and my other night time pals in my sleep. My Ava has a whole slew of imaginary friends that she pops out anytime she's bored, it's quiet and then all the sudden you realize she's chatting it up with a friend.

I know how many pillows I need to sleep (three - two fluffy, one not), how to make my perfect morning iced latte, the kinds of rugs and pillows and stuff that I need to be happy in any home (it's all about the new West Elm look these days). The saddest, weirdest, most worry some days can be fixed for me with the right Pandora station and my favorite blanket, oh and maybe some Pinterest on my iPhone - so soothing ;) repin, repin, repin...

Sometimes I just need some hard, sweaty all day long work. The kind of work that makes your whole body tired but wipes your mind totally clean. Finding this simple settling in good things is important - so many people seem to be so lost to food, drugs, etc. to find peace. Or when I meet someone really perpetually grumpy it makes me wonder how long it has even been since they felt that full in your belly, warm, happy.

I don't need for all the stresses in my life to go away, they never will, there will always be some weird random thing going on just out of my control. I just need to take a drive with the windows down, put the girls in a full, hot bubble bath and dunk my feet in, write a blog post about the amazing and wonderful things in my life, watch a great movie with Joe.

I often hear people say that you need to find God to find peace but the more I consider this it feels backwards. I see people thinking they are following a spiritual life but not being able to see anything spiritual because they don't know how to slip out of this world into another place just with their own power over their own emotions, settling themselves down to a good, solid, happy place where they can hear.

p.s. When I write a post like this I always get emails asking if I am sad about something. Really today my motivation for writing this is watching my girls interact, feeling so inspired by Ava. Thinking of my husband who is at the moment working 7 days at week and gone from 6am to almost 10pm some days. Thinking of Lilly who poor little thing is getting six teeth in and how well this is all just life, busy and crazy and I want my family to always know how to walk out of those stresses at any moment and just be happy. How to make happy - no spouse or parent or friend can do that for you.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Week-ish

I was glancing through my phone and I have been snapping photos of my girls like crazy the past two weeks. It's funny because sometimes dumping my iPhone photos can be so spiritual for me. The way I feel about my girls these days is almost surreal. These quick phone photos from the past 'weekish' are so inspiring to me, they remind me that no matter what small things might be troubling me and my husband from time to time the big picture is that we are living an amazing life surrounded by amazing little souls. 

We had so many first moments - first time swinging from the monkey bars without help, first time blowing a bubble, ha the first time Lilly LET Ava read to her (Ava can read!), the first time seeing baking soda and colored vinegar react. Also, I remembered what happens when I let Ava turn on the hose for 'just a second to fill up her watering can real quick'. 

 We had excellent times playing and exploring the world. I am reminded every second how easy it is to make children utterly, blissfully happy and I think that's why I've always liked them so much. This week, Ava told me that 'when she used to be a grown up she was a doctor' - a very classically creepy thing for Ava to say. Once exactly when my hand touched her toy airplane, that she hadn't seen for weeks, high up on my tall chest I heard her say to her Dad in the next room 'can I play with my wood airplane now'. She's crazy happy so we've just decided it's fine that she talks like a tiny psychic half the time. 

That Lilly is just growing up. She (clearly) hates the sandbox, but I still toss her feet in anyway. She has finally started to grace us with words, when she feels the inclination and she clearly is understanding most of what we are saying to her now. Sometimes, Lilly just clear as day bursts out with some word like she has just always said it, she may or may not repeat it after that as she is basically immune to praise from us and chooses when she will do almost everything. Watching her grow into a mini person is just amazing, comparing her now at 16 months to where Ava is at 3 and a half and thinking about what will happen to her over the course of the next two years is mind boggling. I always think the biggest difference in having more children is that you don't know the latter children yet the way you know your first child. I will have always had two more years of knowing Ava in and out and it's in someways like Lilly and I are just beginning. Such a strange power to be able to choose when and how to add these little humans to your family, to the world. The awesomeness of being alive. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Some Tested Recipes & Tips

Well I have about a million things I could write about, but for some reason the things I want to document get lost  - like Christmas decorating or millions of fun moments with my clever children who are growing like weeds!

I have been working all of the past year on getting us down to 6 dinners a week at home. I relieve myself by doing at least one pizza every week with leftover meats and veggies and there is also typically one breakfast supper night ;) I work a lot off my Pinterest board and my list. I make new things every week which makes creating the list so time consuming! But we aren't eating pasta or random meat every night so I think it's worth it. Here are some of my very favorite tested recipes from Pinterest. I have had some really bad experiences with Pinterest recipes - just because someone can take a good photo doesn't mean their recipe is going to turn out well, so hopefully this is helpful!

Mexican Slow Cooked Pork Carnitas recipe and image via
Notes: I didn't use the Chipotle peppers and it still had tons of flavor. Also, I had never cooked pork shoulder blade before but it was cheap and great. I made double the recipe and froze the leftover meat for something else. 

Notes: Excellent and so fast! I took my sausage out of the casing so it was basically ground, I also only used a bit, back to my trying to just focus on meat for flavor several nights a week. Kale is so good for your body, we are trying to make sure we get a green leafy veggie in everyday. 

Notes: My only comment is just to not make too much of this because it doesn't last past they day you made it once the dressing is on and the avocados are in. 

Notes: Don't stack your layers, you want each piece nice and crispy on top. Also don't forget the powdered sugar topping!

Notes: This is still pretty runny for me with just being in the fridge. We just put a can of coconut milk in our fridge when we buy it and then when we're ready to use it I open it and stir in some sugar and freeze it open for an hour. Then we eat it with cold fruit - easy!

Notes: I have made this four times and every time it's been great. Those crispy, broiled herbs are a key factor so don't try to skip those and go with dried herbs. This is excellent with crusty bread and olive oil, herb dipping sauce.

Notes: I pretty much wing it on the chicken salad part now. These are a staple in our house and we have them with sweet potatoes oven fries. 

Do you have a favorite Pinterest recipe? Tell me please! 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Play Kitchen Recipes - Free Download

I was talking with my close friend Michelle about how our children were (sigh) starting to become bored with their play kitchens. I'll admit while Ava really has enjoyed her play kitchen she is really more of a puzzles and books kid. Lilly loves to bang stuff around at it but otherwise she really isn't into it yet either. Which actually I hate admitting because we have a kind of amazing and possibly a tiny bit ridiculous DIY play kitchen setup with that cool market. I think part of the problem is that we've had it all a while and I am noticing the appeal of putting toys away and rotating them now that Ava is older. Unfortunately, I can't just put the kitchen up for a while ;) Really it is a little annoying that my kids get tired of playing with their millions of toys and I have to rotate them out and find ways to represent them but ah well.

(Behind Ava is a giant $10 Walmart car oil pan we use for magnet play / learning = pinterest genius)

Anyway, I made up some play recipes for my three year old because Ava loves to follow directions and I figured they would help her see that she could really do a lot more with that 'tired old' (sigh) kitchen. Well it worked like a charm. I made five (the cupcake recipe is double sided) and I found three more on the internet here. They are all a similar format so they are easy to use together. I laminated mine (with a scotch laminator) and put a little ring at the top. I'd say in the least just print them up on card stock.

Mine are in Microsoft Word so if you need to edit out something you don't have that should be pretty easy. We used white yarn for our pasta. Oh! and if you don't have a kitchen you should think about making one of these mats because they are brilliant! I keep wanting to make Ava and Lilly one but let's face it that seems a little silly ;)

So here are my first files to download (hope it works if not just email me or leave a comment):
File 1
File 2 
Please share the link to the this post and not my actual file with friends or on your blog etc.

Oh Lilly (14 months) does have one toy she plays with. It's this random Joker house we now own. I don't know if even Ava knows who the Joker is but Lilly genuinely loves this toy. I was totally against buying it (it's a little violent and has a jail and cannon and we have nothing that goes with it) but it all worked out after the mall Santa told Ava he would bring it for her and our little wooden doll house people have all had their turn in prison - it's kind of added a spicy new element to the story lines around here ;) 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Super Hero Capes - DIY

I got a few emails when I did I DIY gift post a while back and mentioned that I make children's capes for gifts. They are easy, quick and turn out really nicely. In fact I think you would have a really hard time finding something similar to purchase even if you had a big budget. Best of all you can get two capes out of two yards of fabric so they are also really affordable. I do a side with the child's favorite animal and a side with their favorite color if I can get it to coordinate right.

(Super heroes look noble and serious.)

I looked at a bunch on the internet and really didn't find just what I was looking for, the pattern at pukingpastilles was by far the cutest I thought and I just modified it a bit. My pattern looks just like the light pink fabric. I iron my fabric in half pin my paper pattern to it and cut 1 patterned piece and 1 solid piece, pin those together, then sew it all around leaving a little opening at the bottom to pull it through. After that I simply iron it and hand-sew up the opening - that's it! I do usually iron on a felt patch with their first initial and sometimes if I am feeling really crafty I sew the patch on. Also I started making them with Velcro at the neck which seems super important to preschoolers who can't tie them on yet or untie a double knot and some kids will not wear anything around their neck that they can't take off independently. 

Oh and I almost forgot to say - they give you the ability to fly :)

If anyone wants the measurements of my pattern and fabric pieces just leave it in the comments and I will update. But mine are really similar to the one at pukingpastilles. I think making your own pattern from things of the web is very easy if you print out the basic shape and have the measurements. One reader mentioned to me that they cut capes out of t-shirts and that is really brilliant because since jersey doesn't fray so they would be no-sew. 

Happy Crafting and Saving the World from Evil

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ah a New Year - Resolve

(Photos here from a fantastic New Years Eve party at a great new friends house)

Years go by so quickly now that we have children - I can literally see Lilly growing day to day, which is tragic and amazing at the same time. Then somehow, being home, days go by more slowly. Maybe there is some age when you start appreciating the seasons but for me this year (my 30th) was my first. As blissful as our Christmas was, I am relishing January's arrival. I am thinking about crafts and cozy fires. I am already starting to browse seed websites and I am thinking about what crops we can add to what we successfully grew here last year once the spring comes. I am excited about a long hot summer with lots of slip and slides and visits to the ocean. Then we'll be almost back here again with a busy, crisp fall and a magic Christmas. We only get so many trips around the sun - not to be cheesy or morbid - but truthfully some of us just get a handful. I am definitely a goal setter. If I am not planning and creating and changing then I am watching BBC remakes of Austen novels in my PJ's all day. That's it - black or white.

(Last photo of the year, maybe the first one ever with all four of us smiling)

I asked Ava (three) to come up with something she wanted to learn this year to be her 'resolution' and she started doing flips while I was talking so that I was pretty sure she was ignoring me. To ask a three year old to pick something that they could reasonably learn to do over a years time is asking a lot! Then, with her feet behind her ears she excitedly starting interrupting me and said "I want to ya know like put my feet up and ya know learn to stand up on my head". What a super resolution right! Totally doable, fun and completely useless to real life. So of course we all have to pick one, my husband is going to make at least four batches of beer this year (a batch yields about 60) bottles, so no small task. I am going to keep up with my hair all year. I have two kinds of hair: a. kept up with hair and b. three inch roots in a messy bun everyday. 

(Photo - getting ready for my pretend fancy New Years Day meal which featured a tweak of this good fortune soup)

I did a really good job this year of meeting my 2011 goals - more sewing, losing the baby weight, spending dedicated time working with Ava on educational pursuits (she can read pretty fluently now!), growing food, eating much healthier and increasing the organic portion of our food consumption. In 2012 I want to just get better at many of the things I started working on this year. I would love to set some financial goals as well but until our Florida house sells my mind just can't go there! Finger crossed we will be through that huge, year long personal challenge at the end of this month. As soon as it is over we will be re-focusing on our long-term financial goals because that is really important to both of us. There is just something about body image and money, no matter how spiritual you are, that can throw everything off if they just aren't exactly where you want them to be.


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