Friday Favorites- Memorial Day Edition

Friday, May 31, 2013
Happy Friday!  

I always lose track of what day it is after a holiday weekend (especially now that I'm home every day)... and then suddenly it is Friday again!  Please tell me I'm not the only one who gets thrown...  

Here is a wrap-up of the things that kept us smiling through the holiday weekend and late-week heat!

Favorite New Recipe: Steel-cut Oatmeal and Blueberry Muffins

The original recipe here makes 12 muffins.  It sounded a bit dry, so I substituted 3/4 cup of milk, 1/4 cup vegetable oil and 1 egg  for the 1/3 cup olive oil.  Also, I used 1 cup blueberries (not raisins), and added a few chocolate chips on top of half (for adults only!) before baking.  They were hearty and delicious!  

Lu couldn't wrap her fingers around them fast enough!

Fav #2: Home-grown Buttercrunch lettuce

This is my second year growing lettuce in my vegetable garden and it is fool-proof.  It is an early-season plant so you get to enjoy home-grown veggies right away!  I usually pull up the roots once it bolts and plant something else in the same spot- this way I get double use of my small garden bed.  

Fav #3: Essie Tarte Deco nail polish

I have an obsession.  It is the perfect coral-pinky-orange and I can't stop myself from using it again and again.  You can get it Here.

Fav #4: Daddy-Daughter moments

The pictures say it all.  

Love them to pieces. 

DIY Ombré Paintchip Art

Thursday, May 30, 2013
Lu has a beautiful gray and yellow (gender-neutral) nursery that is slowly being brightened and personalized with pops of pink.  I wanted to make some pink artwork and thought I'd take inspiration from two of the biggest trends on Pinterest right now: paint chip art and ombré.

The best part about making art with paint chips is that it is FREE.  Does it get any better?? 

So here is the ridiculously easy tutorial...

You will need:
Paint chips (5 multi-color sample cards for 8x10 image)

I started with 5 different shades of pink cards from Home Depot- I grabbed the Behr samples because they have 4 gradient colors on each card making ombré art even more of a no-brainier.  You could really use any brand and size.  Use a straight-edge to cut off the color names.  

Cut each color apart eliminating the white space between.  Sort into piles...

Now just shuffle them around until you find a light-to-dark mix you like... I ultimately mixed up the different pink hues, but you could keep them together for a more cohesive look. 

If you are using a frame with a mat, trace the inside of the mat onto the frame paper backing.  Begin gluing the paint chips in place on the paper starting with the top row, overlapping the outline slightly (to be sure you only see color- not paper- once you put the mat on top).

Continue gluing chips in place overlapping as much (or as little) as you like.  This is what it looks like before you put the mat on top and place it in the frame... If you are not using a matted frame, fill the entire paper backing and cut off the overlapping bits.

I liked the textured look of the overlapping paper, but if you want it to look like one slick piece you could add a coat of Mod Podge on top.  

I also spray painted an old black wooden frame to match the nursery (Krylon gloss Pewter Gray).  I stopped after one coat because I liked the bit of wood grain showing.  

Here is the finished product hanging next to Lu's bookshelf.  The perfect pop of pink!

Total cost (reusing an old frame and spray paint from another project): $0  Love it so much I may need to make one for another room... :)

There are so many possibilities here... change up the color-combo, personalize with a monogram or house number, big kids could make their own!  Can you find a way to use this idea in your own home??  

Friday Favorites

Friday, May 24, 2013
Here is the plan: Each Friday I'd like to share with you my favorite things from the week.  

This might be a recipe or a website or even just a simple mantra- whatever put a smile on my face over the last few days.  Sharing smiles sounds like a good way to kick off the weekend, right?  

So here goes- the first Friday Favorites post! 

They are like the childhood classic Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, but less salty and organic.  A win-win! 

I think this content belly says it all. 

Fav #2: Our monthly bundle of Honest Co diapers and wipes arrived yesterday.  Inside was a Mother's Day gift of organic lip balm and a note that read "We think you're the very best."  So simple, yet so sweet.  It just made my (rainy) day! 

Fav #3: UNICEF greeting cards.  The proceeds from one card provides enough Vitamin A supplements to boost 18 children's immune systems for an entire year.  Now spending $3.99 for a card is worth it!  I picked one up at Wegman's, but you can find a store near you HERE

Fav #4: Iris is in full bloom!  I love this perennial because it is so easy to transplant (I've moved it all around our backyard) and makes great cut flowers to bring in the house.  If you don't have any, find a friend who does and ask if you can have some for your own garden. Then give her a bottle of wine as a thank you... It is still cheaper than buying some potted at your local nursery! :)

On that cheerful note, I'd like to wish you a wonderfully festive (and maybe sunny?) Memorial Day weekend!  Enjoy!

DIY Growth Chart

Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Important Background Story: My twin niece and nephew were turning 1 and I was on the hunt for a creative his&hers gift that they would use for awhile.  I spotted two adorable wooden growth charts at HomeGoods and grabbed them right away.  Before the party I added their names using colored sharpie paint pens.  They were a big hit!

So much of a success, in fact, that fast-forward 3 years, and a request was made for the first birthday gift for their little sister, Lily.  As all of you HomeGoods aficionados know, I knew there was no chance of finding another one (I still looked...big fat fail).  A quick online search of similar growth charts on Land of Nod and PBKids made me realize that I could make one for less than 1/2 the price.  

So here it is- my personalized growth chart tutorial! (And my first tutorial- be kind!)

I started with a trip to Lowes with the intent to have a piece of MDF cut to 4 ft long and maybe 6 inches wide.  Then I stumbled into the perfect size ready-to-go: 1 x 10 x 4'. Since it was real wood, it had knots, but I knew they'd be covered in paint and the price tag was only $7.  Perfect. I got two- one for the gift and one for Lu. :)

I used leftover spray paint for the base coat- the left is Zinsser Oil-Base Primer and the right is Rustoleum white lacquer.  The Zinsser covered a little better, but they both looked good. 

Don't forget to spray the edges too!  (I did forget on one. Annoying.). I let them dry overnight.

The inspiration for your design is totally up to you!  I used this adorable giraffe gift bag as inspiration for Lu's. I bought basic craft paint at Michaels's and used cheap sponge brushes and paint brushes I already owned.  If you have to buy all of this, it will cost about $10.  

Then, get painting!  Against all of my perfectionist tendencies, I knew this was going to look 'handmade' so I didn't worry about brush strokes or straight lines. Just breathe. :) 

After I finished the 'art' and let it dry it was time to turn it into an actual growth chart by adding inch-marks.  I used a tape measure and sharpie to mark each inch.  I made the mark at each foot twice as long.  

I planned to use oversized letters for feet numbers, since the top of the growth chart will be '5 feet' and the bottom will be '1 foot,' but you could easily number all inches.  Just make sure you take into consideration how high you want this off the floor (think about baseboards). 

I didn't have matching letter and number stencils, so I created a word document, chose a cute font (american typewriter), and enlarged to 200 pt.  Print and cut.  Next, trace around your stencils.  You may need to retrace your lines to make them straight (hello again, perfection) or just fill in the number/letter if it looks like a mess.  

Here are the finished products...

That's it!  Super easy, right?  If you have no supplies already on hand, the total cost of this project should easily be under $20.  Total time (excluding drying time) about 3 hours.  The options for personalization are endless- make it to match a nursery or playroom.

Grad Gifts for Under $60

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cars painted with 2013 and balloons on mailboxes- it is Graduation season!  We will be celebrating my sister-in-law's Doctoral (!!!) degree at her graduation this weekend so I've been spending some time looking for the perfect celebratory gift.  The standard fountain pen and resume portfolio gift is a bit blah and outdated, don't you think?  If you have a special grad-to-be in your life and are still searching for an inexpensive way to say congrats, here are a few ideas...

Grad Gifts for Under $60

Grad Gifts for Under $60 by sparrowathome 

1. The Young Grad:  Kindergarten or Middle School ceremony?  Yay, You! is a  cute alternative to Dr. Seuss's Oh the Places.  Throw in some Grad cookies for an extra sweet treat.
2. The Interviewing Grad: This is a modern take on a traditional leather portfolio for a resume- a professional  cover that doubles as a display stand to use your iPad in an interview.
3. The Grad On the Move:  Compass motif cuff links or necklace is a sentimental keepsake for any grad moving away for college or a new job.
4. The Grad with a New Job:  Celebrate a graduate degree with a few things for the grad's new desk- cute notepad and coffee mug will be used more than a fancy pen!

Green Grass

Happy Monday!  We had a very busy weekend with a wedding and a first birthday party to attend... Needless to say, the husband and I spent a much-needed Sunday night relaxing on the couch.  I am working on a DIY post about the first birthday gift I made, so stay tuned! 

Today I was thrilled that the rainy morning gave way to a GORGEOUS warm afternoon- perfect for some weeding in my front perennial bed!  Yes, I actually enjoy weeding... I find that it is the perfect balance of a mindlessness task and instant satisfaction.  Don't you love ripping up dandelions??  Little L was right beside me running her hands through the grass. So cute. 

May Flowers- for Mama, Munchkin & Maison

Monday, May 13, 2013
Happy Monday!  I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day weekend.  Ours was filled with relaxing family time- exactly what I'd hoped for.  Oh- and LuLu's first ice cream cone! 

I don't know who was more excited for that first lick, me or her...

As you can see from the little one's dress, I'm loving all of the floral prints for spring- they are everywhere!  Are you hesitant to dress in a graphic print?  Try a new pillow cover or a peakaboo-print lining in a spring jacket.  Here is some inspiration to get you (and your babe and home) in the spring spirit.

May Flowers- for Mama, Munchkin & Maison

Mother's Day Under $60

Thursday, May 9, 2013
Mother's Day Under $60

Mother's Day Under $60 by sparrowathome featuring a benefit concealer

Mother's Day is just around the corner- yikes!  If you are like me, a colorful planter is a great go-to gift at the last minute.  But, if you are looking for something more creative or a little quirky for your own mom, grandmother, or mom-to-be friend, here are some inexpensive ideas that are sure to make her smile!

1. "Mom Always Said" Bangle: includes cute phrases like "play fair" on the outside.  A dear friend gave this to me when I was pregnant last year for Mother's Day and I still love it.
2. Monogrammed Wine Glasses: more modern shape and stylish colors, plus Mark and Graham will monogram and include a cute gift box for free.  Throw in a bottle of Mommy's Time Out wine for fun!
3. Benefit Concealor: pure magic.  Perfect for a new mom who wants to hide dark circles under her eyes! 
4. The Grandmother Book: encourage your child's grandmother to write down personal stories and family memories for posterity.  Includes prompts like "The first time I met your grandfather..." (Shhh... I'm giving this to my own mom for her first Mother's Day as 'nana')

I'm not sure what the husband has in store for my first official Mother's Day this weekend... He did get brownie points and tears last year by giving me (and my preggo belly) a silver picture frame engraved with MOM.  Well done! :)

New Blog Beginnings

Tuesday, May 7, 2013
 I've found myself narrating my own life in my head lately... Not in a I think I'm going crazy way, but in a I'm reading too many blogs and now I'm thinking like I have one way.  So, why not start one?  

Reading the trials, tear-jerkers, and (too often) hilarious stories of other moms who are just trying to do their best has helped me navigate the first 9 months of motherhood...and the previous 9 months of pregnancy.  Now I'm happy to share my own of life as a wife, mom, homeowner, cook, crafter and fluffy-dog-owner.  

Full Disclosure: I had to google "how to start a blog," and I'm writing this first post with a Corona in-hand...

On a motherly note, today was my sweet daughter's 9 month birthday!  

Monthly stickers from Picky Sticky. Best baby shower gift. Ever. 

Yes, in both photos the hair accessory is in her hand.  Love my Lulu.

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