Monday, February 26, 2018

DIY Floral Letter

Good afternoon, friends! It’s hard to believe the weekend is over already, but we’re back to the grind over here after a busy few days. 

Today, I wanted to share a project I just finished for Oaklyn’s first birthday that was totally easy and would look great in any home! 

First, I bought a few bunches of flowers from Hobby Lobby and Michaels. I chose a cream/soft pink color scheme with some greens around the edges (and for these, I just used the greens that came on the stems that I bought). I picked up a large bunch of these Peach Ranculus, as well as a smaller stem of White Ranculus (because I loved the leaves) from Hobby Lobby. I then grabbed a White Hydrangea stem from Michael’s, and found a few extra stems at home which included white roses, some faux fern leaves, and a few peonies. These really helped add some more depth to the letter, rather than just using the same few flowers over and over. 

My tools were a hot glue gun, cardboard, scissors, and an X-Acto knife. I cut the shape of an “O” out of the cardboard with the scissors, then used the knife to remove the middle of the letter. I think that it may be wise to cut out 2 of the same letter and glue them together to reinforce the cardboard, but for this one I just did one layer. 

I took all the flower heads off of the stems, and cut off any extra tips there were (as shown below) so that the flower could be glued right up against the cardboard and be flush with the surface. I placed the largest flowers first, and worked my way out with smaller flowers, using the hydrangea leaves individually as a filler between flowers. as I worked my way around, I added the leaves so that they curved up towards the top. 

Here’s the finished product! I’m so happy with it and can’t wait to use it as party decor in just a couple of months!

I had seen these gorgeous letters all over Pinterest, but wasn’t willing to drop a lot of money on them. The total I spent on this project was under $15, which I think is a steal in comparison to the $40-$80 price tag I was seeing on sites like Etsy and Amazon! 

Also, a few tips to save some extra $$$
- Keep an eye out for sales! Every stem I purchased was 50% off the original price. Hobby lobby rotates their sales, and Michaels always has a pretty decent coupon floating around!
- Use things you have at home. The cardboard was from a box we already had in our basement, and if you don’t have an X-Acto knife or box cutter, you can make the scissors work for the whole thing! 
- You can use less flowers if you use larger ones. I used mainly small and medium heads, but definitely could have gone larger on the flowers so that they each took up more space. (maybe this is an excuse to make another one!)

If you try out this project, let me know how it works out and what materials worked best for you! 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

5 Whole30 Habits I've kept in my daily routine

I did my second round of Whole30 in January, and this time around, I was so much more confident and determined to make a real lifestyle change. I knew it was time to give up a few things that had been dragging me down and making me feel sluggish and unbalanced. I learned so much more about my body this time, and I'm so happy with the way I've continued to feel as i've made changes in my food choices. Here are a few things I did to get back to feeling great! 

Big, protein packed breakfasts
My FAVORITE meal of the day is breakfast. I’ve made it a habit to keep eggs, chicken sausage, avocado, spinach, and sweet potatoes on hand for an amazing breakfast skillet that wakes me up and keeps me full until lunch! Being a mom means sometimes I don’t get to lunch when I’d like to, so protein packed breakfasts give me the energy to push through until I can find the time to eat again. 

Food prep 
While I struggled to do this at the beginning of my most recent round of Whole30, I’ve grown to love meal prepping, and the time it saves me later in the week. I’ve started roasting a big pan of veggies at the beginning of the week, and just sautéing them quickly to add to any meal later on. I also like to do a big roast or whole chicken in the crock pot, and and use the leftover meat for lunches or a soup later in the week. It saves on time and dishes, which is always a huge win in our house. 
Another option that I like is cooking a double portion of a meal that is easy to reheat, and save that for lunches later in the week. This way, we don’t have to resort to the empty calories of a deli meat sandwich, and we can enjoy a hot, healthy lunch without spending the time cooking every day. Stuffed peppers, burrito bowls, veggie bake, and fajitas are all really great options that are easy to make lots of, and reheat well later on! 

Cutting the sugar-filled coffee creamers 
My mornings used to start with sugary coffee creamer, which gave me about a 30 minute burst of energy, but then made me crash mid-morning. I get so much more energy from my morning coffee with sugar free, dairy free creamers like Califia Farms and Nutpods, and they don’t leave me feeling bloated and craving more sugar afterward. They have great natural creaminess and flavor, and I don’t miss the sugar at all!

Dairy-free meals
I haven’t added dairy to a single meal since January 1st, and surprisingly I haven’t missed it whatsoever. I LOVE cheese, but I knew it was making me feel horrible, and I was going to bed with a stomach ache multiple times throughout the week. Going dairy free was already a goal of mine, and Whole30 gave me the kickstart I needed to cut it from my diet altogether. It was a challenge at the beginning to find meals that I wanted to eat that weren’t smothered in cheese, but now it’s a habit that i’m so glad we adopted into our weekly meal planning process! 

Making my own versions of dips/ sauces we eat often 
Ranch and Mayo are the 2 that I most often keep on hand, but I’ve made a ton of different dressings, pestos, and dips with Whole30 compliant ingredients that are clean and taste even better! They're not only better for you, but they taste fresh and are more budget-friendly. We're huge on dips, so if I can save a few bucks and still have lots of options, that's a definite plus. 

Here are a few links to my favorite condiment recipes! 

And, for a quick guideline, here are the dinners I have planned for this week! 

Monday- Turkey Apple Meatballs with Roasted Golden Potatoes
Tuesday- Quinoa and brown rice bowls with pulled pork, guacamole, and salsa 
Wednesday- Thai Red Curry Veggie Soup 
Thursday- Tofu Teriyaki Stir Fry 
Friday- Grilled Chicken with Sweet Potato Fries and Homemade Chipotle Ranch 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Valentine's Day Dates: Out on the Town

Are you still trying to come up with a great date night for V-Day?
If you're fresh out of original ideas, try one (or a few) of these for a super fun night full of romance and new experiences.

Movie theater double feature 
Because you can’t just see one, right? There are lots of really great movies out right now, so why not do a double feature? Get the extra large popcorn with free refills, and veg for a few hours with your sweetie. Sometimes life is a little too fast paced, so this is a great way to unwind and spend time with your partner.

Take a pottery class 
I’ve always wanted to learn to throw pottery, but it’s hard to just work learning it into an already packed routine. Valentine’s day is the perfect excuse to try something new and fun t(hat you may not normally do), plus it’s always a blast to get a little messy on dates! This is something that I think everyone would enjoy doing at least once.

Beginner’s couples’ yoga
Yoga (or any new exercise) is scary to just try to pick up for the first time, especially in a class setting. Make it fun and let loose by going together and laughing through your first lesson. It’s a great way to grow closer to your partner, and have fun while doing it.

An appetizer crawl at your favorite fancy spots 
If you don’t want to drop $100 on dinner for the night, try skipping around town and sharing a few appetizers! This is the perfect way to try a few new restaurants, but not leave the night with an empty wallet. And don't forget to end the night with a warm dessert to share! (I have to admit, this is probably my fave on this list. I love trying out all of our local restaurants, and sharing apps is a great way to do it on the cheap!)

Spend the evening planning your dream home
Dream big! It’s so much fun. 4 car garage, an indoor pool, an in-home yoga studio, or maybe all 3? 

Go on your first date again
Whether it was a fancy dinner or a walk in the park, relive the first date together and talk about how far you’ve come in your relationship. It’s refreshing to out yourself back at the beginning and remind yourselves why you fell in love.

AirBnb it for a night 
My husband and I have has some really fun experiences with AirBnb, and it's easy to find spots that are cheaper than hotels, which is a major plus! Whether you stay in your hometown or go away for the night, this is such a fun idea when you just need a change of scenery, but still want to enjoy a night in. Cook a fancy dinner at your home away from home, rent a movie, and sleep in the next morning. (also a great idea for parents who need more than just a couple of hours off!)

Good ol’ Dinner date, complete with chocolate and flowers.
What kind of valentine’s day date list is complete without the standard dinner date? you really can’t go wrong with this one. This is the perfect opportunity to spend uninterrupted time with you partner, share a few appetizers and fancy entrées, talk about your day, and share some of your goals for the next year together. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

How to Have a Fun, Romantic V-Day at Home; Plus Outfits for the Kids

Ok, my hubby and I can’t be the only parents staying in this Valentine’s day. I haven’t actually thought much about going out lately, and we decided that it was best for us to just try to go out on a night that’s not so crazy later in the month. Then we can celebrate V-Day all month, right? 

I decided to try to put together some ideas for what we can do at home, and still feel like we had a special (and super fun) Valentines Day date, because I’m a sucker for the romantics of this holiday. 

Here’s a list of ideas I came up with, I hope they can help my fellow homebodies enjoy a night in on the most romantic day of the year! 

 Have a Romantic Movie mini-marathon. 
The Notebook, Pretty Woman, La La Land, 500 Days of Summer, Pretty Woman, My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Big Sick, and 50 first dates are just a few that immediately come to mind!

Oh, and don’t forget to go crazy with the movie snacks! 

Spend an hour or so talking about your dreams. 
Dream home, cream car, dream vacations. Spend some time daydreaming with your partner about what you want to do and where you want to be someday.

 Cook Together. 
Ethan and I have a big steak dinner planned. He loves Steak, and I love to cook, so hopefully we can get along in the kitchen and make it a fun evening together. Plus, steak dinners are pricey, so we love to do them at home where we can save some money, but still have a nice fancy spread! 

Plan a candlelit indoor picnic 
Anyone else just love shutting off all the lights and doing everything by candlelight? I love that Valentine’s Day is an excuse to do all the cheesy stuff! We’re planning to go all out, and making this night as special as we can! 

Make sure you’re stocked up on your favorite drinks. 
Rosé is a personal favorite of mine, and pink wines feel extra romantic to me. But you can also try to whip up some fun Valentine’s themed cocktails, like this one I found from Blackberry Babe! 

Get a small, meaningful gift for your spouse. 
Flowers, candy, or a fun game to play together on your night in. There are tons of options of things to do on a budget or an overall low-key night. I love to get and give gifts, and I truly believe that it’s the thought that counts. Put a little effort into a gift, and it will mean the world; whether it cost $10 or $100. It really is the thought that counts! 

Get rid of all other distractions. 
Turn off the tv (after your movie, of course), put away your phones, and focus on each other. This may be the first time you’ve had a meaningful conversation and devoted time to you S/O in a few weeks or months. Take advantage of the uninterrupted time together! 

And a few tips for parents who are trying to enjoy the much needed one on one time with you spouse:

Plan a night out for when it’s a little easier to book a babysitter. 
I’m someone who definitely feels guilty asking anyone to babysit on a night like valentines say. I hat the thought of keeping someone from their fun plans, even though I want to have fun plans too! It’s so much easier to plan a date night on a regular evening, when you won’t have to fight for someone to be available, plus fight for a reservation to your favorite restaurant.

Don’t sweat it when the kids won’t go to bed and your night has to be postponed or the times gets pushed back. 
We usually get Oaklyn down for bed around 7:30, which for us leaves plenty of time for some fun one-on-one date time, but kids are unpredictable. Prepare for your night to not go as planned so that when you finally get to your date, you’re still in good spirits and excited for the night ahead.

Don’t forget about celebrating with the kids beforehand! 
This is our first valentines day with our little love bug, so I fully intend to get really cheesy on V Day. Take some fun photos, make some crafts, and celebrate with your littles. Starting this tradition young will keep them in the spirit as they get older! 
Here are some cute outfit options for the littles! 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

I Tried Grove Collaborative (For the Freebies)

So there’s this new site floating around my Facebook and Instagram sponsored posts that looks pretty appealing. Of course, I’m a major skeptic when it comes to discounted things, especially when it’s online. I’ve been duped before, and I’m not about to let a site scam me out of money and charge me for things I never wanted or needed. I’m not sure about you, but I can just never be too cautious when it comes to social media ads. 

Grove Collaborative is a site where you can purchase and even get monthly shipments of your favorite natural cleaning products. They carry brands like Meyers and Method (both sold at target), as well as their own line of products. The idea behind it is that you get awesome, sustainable products for a lower price than what you’d normally purchase them for anywhere else. (it’s kind of like Thrive Market minus the groceries, if any of you have ever tried that!)

I was mostly drawn in by an intro offer that I saw advertised on Instagram about a HUGE free intro package, free shipping on my order, plus a free 60 day membership to the site. All I had to do was order $20 worth of products from the Grove, and that seemed like a pretty sweet deal to me. 

So, this is what I paid for. I got a Mrs Meyer's Multi-surface Concentrate ($7.99) and room refresh spray ($4.99), and Method bathroom cleaner(2.99). I also got these amazing microfiber towels ($5.95) that my husband and I both love! No more fuzz left on everything!

Before the shipping and free items came off, my total would have been $65
After all the discounts were calculated, my final total came to $23, saving me over forty dollars! 
And one of the best parts was that my order came in just TWO DAYS. I couldn’t believe how fast the shipping was. 

Here’s everything I got (and have been loving already) 

I had been considering switching our home to all natural cleaners since we now have a little one at home, but I always hesitated over the prices. Grove gave me the chance to try out over sixty dollars worth of products that I really wanted and use for only my original $20 spent. I’m going to use up the rest of my trial to see how things go, but the subscription fee is only $20 for the year, so I think it’s definitely be worth it for my family! 

Now we can have products that are family friendly and safe, and save tons of money in the process! I’m super excited to continue using Grove. 

What other services have you tried and loved? I’d love to try more! 

For an extra $10 off your first Grove order, click here