Friday, February 27, 2015

New Product Spotlight {Burlap Runner & Easter Garden Flag}

After all of our winter weather this week, I'm happy to get back to our normal routine today.  I loved having the kids home, but one day back and then the weekend isn't too bad, either!  I'm totally ready for spring now and I have warm, sunny weather on the brain.  Part of that goes into my decorating efforts around the house this week.

I love the trend in home decor right now that uses burlap for just about everything.  I love the natural feel and how it adds texture to any space.  It can make a room seem a little less stuffy and adds a rustic, comfortable, lived in feel that I try to create in my home.  I have little touches of burlap all over my house and recently added a ruffle burlap runner on the table in our entryway.


The ruffle adds a feminine touch and the monogram gives it that southern feel.  Y'all, I love this so much and am so excited to have it added to our Etsy Shop.  You can find it HERE.


I think these runners are great for everyday or would make any special occasion extra special.  They would make great housewarming, bridal shower, or Mother's Day gifts.


While I had the burlap going I went ahead and made a burlap garden flag for Easter, too!  Yes, there was snow on the ground, but I wanted to take advantage of a snow day at home to get some projects marked off my list.


Decorating outside is one of my favorite parts of decorating for holidays (see a few other outdoor holiday decorations HERE and HERE).  I have some cute Easter wreaths in the works, too that I will share when I'm done with it!


These flags are also available in our shop and you can find them HERE

And while you are checking out the Magnolia Mama Etsy Shop, be sure to look at the amazing invitations and stationary Jen has been working on.  It's all so beautiful and I can't wait for the next party I host so I can order one of her gorgeous designs.


I hope everyone has a great weekend and we will see you back here Monday morning!  
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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Snow Fun!

Snow, snow, and wait for it...more snow. That has been the theme around here for the last few weeks. As Carrie Beth mentioned yesterday, the kids have been out of school for most of the week with on again off again snow storms. Yesterday the "big one" was supposed to hit with at least 6-7 inches in our area. We woke up this morning to maybe two. Whomp whomp. Still snow is such a novelty here, that kids have a blast playing in it no matter what the total amount of accumulation is. 


Wednesday morning we ran outside in our pjs to play in the inch or two of snow that dropped over night. We were so excited when it started to come down again. Cute must have heard somewhere that you eat snowflakes because he stood with his tongue out for at least ten minutes, and would squeal in excitement if one actually landed. 


Little Cute wasn't sure what to think of the snow. She thought it was so silly when Cute and the Hubs built a mini snow man though. 


Cute wanted to build a snowman, and there was just enough snow to make a mini one on our back deck. He was so excited. Everyone meet Snowman Sammy. 


After playing all morning, when nap time rolled around, Cute and I decided to make the infamous snow cream we had read about. Then cute told me he just wanted to eat snow and marshmallows. He's not normally a big fan of ice cream so we decided to come up with our on concoction, and it was pretty tasty if I do say so myself. We ended up making something similar to flavored ice that you get in the summer. 

Pineapple Coconut Snow Icee
1 cup of snow 
(or shaved ice if you are nervous about the cleanliness of your snow)
2-3 ounces of drizzled coconut water
(we used Vita Coco water since we had it on  hand)
2-3 tablespoons of pineapple juice drizzled on top

Cute then sprinkled marshmallows and powdered sugar on top so that it looked like "real snow". 


It was just enough flavor to make it fun, and my guess is you could do the same thing with any flavored juice and get the same results. 

 Yesterday we woke up and made a mad dash to run errands before the "big one" hit. We were given a warning that around 2p.m. everyone should be off the roads. Our children took that warning as a challenge. They get it from their father.

Cute broke out his "big bad" red Jeep for a little off road fun. Little Cute was clearly enjoying the ride. 


Mr. Weatherman was right on time because right around 2:30p.m. the snow really started to come down. The Hubs arrived safely home from work and went instantly into snowstorm prep mode. He built a fire and made us some nice yummy cocktails so we could sit around and enjoy the big fat flakes coming down. Hey southerners have to stay warm somehow. ;) 


The Cutes woke up from nap and it was game on. We went outside to play in the snow and it was still coming down in big fat flakes. By then we probably had a good 2-2.5 inches on the ground and it was more than enough to play in.


Little Cute still looked unsure of the snow and was not a fan of it hitting her in the face. Her time was shortly lived outside. She was happier being inside looking out the window at her daddy and Cute throwing snowballs at each other. I can't blame the girl. She was much safer there out of the line of fire. Can't say the same for me as I was always seemed to be the target goal. Always. 


Cute LOVED the snow and only stopped playing with it to eat a brief dinner. He stayed out with the Hubs until it was dark and only came in with the promise of more snow today.


Fortunately what little amount that did accumulate last night hasn't melted yet so I see a lot more snow fun in our day.

 After today though, winter can step on out because more than three days trapped in the house will make any mommy go a little stir crazy. No matter the amount of wine on hand. 

Happy snow day everyone!


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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

School Delay turned Snow Day(s)

You know what's just awesome...an unexpected day off from school!  Someone posted this on Instagram and I was cracking up. I personally LOVE having my kids at home for an unexpected day  off, but I know that not everyone feels the same way.  Although after yesterday evening and my kids at each other's throats, I can totally relate. ;-)


Monday night the weather forecasters were predicting we might get some snow or a "wintery mix" and I was hoping that would be the case.  I woke up bright and early and was checking all my important sources (you know, Twitter and Facebook) repeatedly, but nothing was coming through for me.  There is nothing worse that waking up your kids and then realizing that everyone could have slept a little longer.  Lots of other districts had delayed for 2 hours and lots of people on Facebook were talking about the bridges and roads that were icing over already.  I knew I wasn't going to stick my girls on the bus and had already decided to let them sleep a little longer so I could just drive them to school.  Just about the time I had given up the call was made to delay the start of school by 2 hours. Woo Hoo!!!  Texts were flying around with friends and neighbors and then I quickly got back in bed to sleep a little longer. Then the girls both woke up and and were SO excited to see the snow starting to stick outside.  As soon as Boo-Boo woke up, we got bundled up and went outside to play. 

Before I let anyone outside though, I tip-toed around the edge of the yard so I wouldn't make foot prints because I wanted a picture of our house in the snow!  


As soon as the kids went out they started running around, having snowball fights and just loving life. It was pure JOY and I loved watching them all have so much fun!!! 


After a quick time playing we went in to warm up and have breakfast and then I got the text that school was cancelled all day.  Wearing their PJ's inside out worked for us this time because we finally had an official SNOW DAY!!!   That meant heading back outside to play more before it all started to melt.  




Even Walker had fun in the snow!  He was running around, digging in it with this nose, and trying to eat the snowballs the kids were throwing. :-)  



Snow is such a novelty here, so any little bit causes great excitement. There is a lot more snow predicted for later today so school is out again today. From the amount of snow they are telling us we will get, I'll be surprised if they go back to school on Friday!

Thankfully, my kids were *pretty* good most of the day, but by evening they were needing some distraction so I pulled out the play dough (and the wine).  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  I am not a huge fan of the mess of play dough, but they loved it and it kept everyone busy for over an hour.


I need to double check that I have enough wine because let's be honest...while I do love having my kids home, I'll also be needing a nice glass of wine.  Being stuck at home for a few days is nice, but after this big snow, I will be ready for spring!  
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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fifty Shades of Fun

I absolutely adore the time I get to spend with my girlfriends. We always have a ton of fun together and can spend hours talking and laughing together without even realizing it. We do a great job of seeing each other often, but its rare when we are sans children and husbands. 

This past weekend we made plans for a fun girls night out and fortunately Mother Nature decided to cooperate. We decided to celebrate the break from cold, "snow", and ice with a little girls night out pre-game shopping. 

We had a blast hitting up some of our favorite boutiques, and checking out some of the new spring fashions and seasonal home trends. We even got to try on an item or two with out an audience, or the fear that a little mini someone figures out how to crawl under the dressing room door and run away while chasing them through a store full of patrons while wearing nothing but your underwear. It maybe has happened once before. Possibly twice. 


I fell in love with these cute Pick Me Up canvas pouches by Lilly. I am definitely dreaming of all things summer right now.



How cute are these little plates for Easter? We thought they would make an adorable teacher or hostess gift. (source: francesca's)


After working up an appetite shopping, we headed out to one of our favorite restaurants California Dreaming. If there is a location near you and you haven't tried it yet you are missing out. 


Not only do they have yummy food and excellent cocktails, they make these delicious croissant rolls drizzled in honey that I might have a slight addiction too. I might be tiny, but I can down six of these in the blink of an eye. I ate five before I remembered to take a pic. 


Our dinner did not disappoint, and we were all happy that we chose to wear pants that had a little stretch in them. Carrie Beth stated it best when she said, "I'm so full, but it's just too yummy to leave any behind."

After dinner we made our way to the movies to see a certain new release. 

Jen's Outfit: Sweater | Love Tee | Boots
Carrie Beth's Outfit: Jeans | Boots

Now we realize the 50 Shades of Grey book and movie have been the hot topic of some controversy lately, but we knew going into the movie, via a close friend, that the movie wasn't nearly as graphic as the book. All but one of us had read the books prior to the movie and as mentioned a few weeks ago, were curious as to how they were going to portray the story on the big screen.

Only one of us went into the movie blind, and we asked her afterwards what she thought. Without giving too much away she felt that they hype of the movie led her to think it would be much more graphic than it was. 

I think overall we all enjoyed the movie. It definitely concentrated more on the push/pull of their relationship and the nature of why Christian Grey became what he was. And that was just fine by us. Again, there are some things my eyes should just not see on a 25 foot screen. There was just enough naughty to make a point. 

Our friend who hadn't read the books had a ton of questions afterwards, and I think looking back the movie just touched the surface of introducing some of the other major characters of the book outside of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. I can see where if you hadn't read the story there might be a few holes in the plot for you. 

I think prior to the movie we had a hard time picturing the actors as the characters they were chosen for, but now seeing them play their roles, Jamie Dornan seemed to be almost spot on. Mr. Dornan might have just gained a few new fans. Just saying. 

With out spoiling the ending we were definitely left wanting more. The movie was fun, sexy, and dramatic - a "vanilla" version of the book, and we were glad we made it part of a fun girls night out. 

Now hopefully they will make the sequels so we have an excuse to plan a few more girls nights. 




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Monday, February 23, 2015

Kitchen Confessions {Baked Ziti}

Happy Monday friends!  It has been cold, rainy, and all over not great weather around here.  When it's cold outside, I love cooking comfort and cozy food like casseroles, soups, and pasta dishes.  As part of my attempt to break out old recipes I haven't made recently, I whipped up a Baked Ziti dish last week.  This recipe came from one of my old neighbors who made it for me after Boo-Boo was born and it makes enough for two medium-ish casserole dishes.  I usually bake one and freeze one, but we were scheduled to take dinner to some friends that just had a baby, so it was a win/win for both families.

It takes a little more prep than I usually like to put into meals (maybe you remember when I confessed my love pre-made meals HERE ), but this dish is worth the extra time and having another dish to freeze and pull out at a later date is an added bonus in my book.  That's what I like to call home-made pre-made.



Baked Ziti 
Ingredients 
1 lb. ground turkey
16 oz. ziti noodles
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 jars of marinara sauce
15 oz. container of ricotta cheese
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shaved parmesan cheese
salt, pepper, garlic to taste

Directions 
Cook ziti noodles as directed.
Saute diced onions and garlic.  To the same pan, add and brown meat.
In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, 1 jar of marinara sauce, 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, 3/4 cup of shaved parmesan cheese, pinch of salt/pepper, and cooked meat/onions.
After draining cooked noodles, return to pot and mix with sauce/cheese/meat mixture.
Pour into baking dish (2 since this recipe makes a lot!) and top with remaining sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Random Ramblings

Happy Friday! This week was our Winter Break at school, and boy did winter makes it's presence known. 

Last Saturday, forecasters were predicting that our area would be getting a snow/ice storm that would be impacting the entire metro Atlanta area. With last year's great snow debacle still fresh in everyone's minds, businesses and school systems (that weren't already on break) preemptively canceled operations for Monday. Fast forward to Monday and we have nothing. 

The storm system still looked like it was going to hit and every one decided school and businesses would shut down again on Tuesday. 

On Tuesday and this was our view...


Poor kids (and to be honest, parents)...they were so hyped for snow and it didn't look like it was in going to happen. It was cold and rainy and there wasn't a snow flake in sight. North of us, in more mountainous areas, they received ice, which is never any fun, but overall...whomp whomp. 

The Cutes and I enjoyed relaxing, snuggling up for movie time, and simply relished in the fact that we had no where to be. Little Cute, seemed to relapse from the bug she had last week, and luckily since we didn't have to worry about treacherous icy roads we were able to visit the pediatrician and get her something to finally kick it. 

Perfect timing too because on Wednesday everyone was back to normal business and around lunch time this is what it looked like outside...


Snow! 


I think I squealed in delight so loud I scared The Cutes. In true southern fashion, it lasted about five minutes and melted the moment it hit the ground, but for those few moments it was so fun to see The Cutes' faces light up. 

Speaking of the lingering stomach bug, I would be remiss if I didn't share with you guys my new favorite product. We've owned this Bissell Spot Clean for a few years, but never really had to use it. This being our first experience with the stomach bug, it definitely paid for itself this last week. It is easy, quick, and small. All a necessity when running around like a crazy person trying to clean any "accidents" before the next one occurred. 



Little Cute finally seemed to kick whatever she had, and was back to all smiles. To celebrate we did another snuggle all day pj day. No one was complaining. 

During all this cold weather, we were craving warm comfort food. I was a cooking and baking (and eating) machine. I had seen a Baked Potato Soup recipe on one of our favorite blogs and finally decided to try it. You guys, you have got to try it. It is sooooo good! Find the recipe HERE


By Thursday, temperatures were in the single digits and our little crew was going a little stir crazy. We must not have been the only ones because I received a text from Bestie L asking if we wanted to break out of the house and find somewhere to play. 

We let the kids pick and of course, Chuck E Cheese was the first thing out of their sweet little mouths.

The cold temperatures must have momentarily frozen our functioning brain cells because we agreed. But it was so much fun!! 


The kids always have a blast there, but it's usually a little chaotic keeping up with them all. However, today it was completely empty. Empty as in we were the only ones in the entire facility. Bestie L and I could relax at Chuckee. Wrap your brain around that phenomenon. 

 The kids LOVED it, and were spoiled rotten by the managers because they were given some extra tokens and a million extra tickets. The Cutes and friends couldn't have been more excited if they had gone to Disney. It was a win for all!

And thank goodness for that little outing because today forecasters are predicting more snow and ice to arrive later on today. Boo! As much as I love snuggling and lounging around the house with my little family, the Mamas have a fun girls night out planned this weekend and I do not want to miss it. There have even been rumors of throwing a shopping trip into the mix. Double boo!

I think I can collectively speak for most of America...bring on spring!! 

Hope everyone has a great start to their weekend! Anything fun going on? Cold/snow/ice (really just rain) party? 

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P.S. - I realized this week that the Ringling Brothers Legends show that we attended on Valentine's Day will be in Atlanta at a different venue starting Sunday for an entire week. If interested in going, I found a ticket discount available HERE. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

DIY Reward Jars and Chore Board {Tutorial}

If you've been reading here a while then you have seen plenty of pictures of my sweet little kiddos.  If you are new here, welcome! My kids are 7, 5 and 3 and our puppy is 7 months old. :-)


Raising my kids to be respectful, responsible, and gracious are incredibly important to me and while most of the time they are wonderfully sweet kids, like all children, they certainly have their moments.  I've found that catching them being good and rewarding them for great behavior goes a long way and works really well for us.  

When Little Mama was only 3 I started doing something we called "marble jar" as a reward system for her.  She would earn marbles to add to her jar for good behavior and when the jar was full she would get to pick a special treat or outing.  It worked like a charm and we started doing it with Blondie as she got little older, too.  Then our house went on the market so I put the jars away and they were long forgotten.  Fast forward a few years to when were finally settled in our new house and I knew I wanted to reinstate a similar reward system.  I also wanted to incorporate chores into this system because they LOVE helping around the house and BEG for jobs to do to help me out.  Beg no more my loves, because now we have a nice organized way to keep track of their chores, their responsibilities and their good behavior.  



I found this wooden pallet at Hobby Lobby and knew it would be perfect for what I wanted to create. It was $19.99 and I used my 40% off coupon!



If you don't have a Hobby Lobby near you, I found the exact same ones on Amazon HERE.  There are actually several different sizes and brands you could choose from.  See all of the options HERE.  

I have three kids so I knew I needed 3 small mason jars and adjustable hose/pipe clamps (I got from my local hardware store) to complete this board.  



I nailed the clamps onto the board, but they weren't holding that great and it was tough to nail, so the Mr. came behind me and screwed them into place.




Next I put the jars in the clamps and tightened them before cutting off the excess length of the clamps.  I wrapped them in electrical tape because the edges were very sharp and I was worried about someone cutting their finger.  



I painted the top piece of the pallet and added my kids names with a paint pen.  Then I hot glued little clothes pins that I found in the scrapbook section and added a list of chores and responsibilities for each kid.  I wanted to be able to switch them out easily, so this works perfect. 




The kids earn a rock for each thing they do not he list and also for good behavior.  Basically my goal is to "catch them being good" and reward them for it.  If I see them sharing something out of the blue or helping one of their siblings without being asked, they earn a rock.  If I really need the playroom cleaned up pronto before bedtime, I'll offer a few rocks to whoever helps and they are speed cleaners.  When their jar is full they can either choose to pick a small treat ($5-10 toy or item) or go on a special outing (frozen yogurt, a trip to the movies, etc.).  I started out thinking I would give them allowance each time their jar is full, but they aren't quite at the age yet where they want the money and they would rather have instant gratification.  

I knew I wanted this to be in a place where the kids would have access to it and that would be within their reach.  It is hanging on the window in our kitchen that looks out onto the screened porch.  I used a heavy duty command hook to hang it.  I keep a large mason jar of rocks sitting on the window ledge so the kids can easily add to their jar when needed.  Click HERE to find the rocks I use.  


We've been using this for about 8 months now and I can say it has really helped me achieve what I wanted it to.  It is functional, kid friendly, and a very simple way to keep track of and reward their good behavior.  I've had a few friends make similar ones for their families and they love it, too!


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