Monday Mentionables: Transitional outfits, Refashioning sweaters & Warm Bodies

Welcome to the last day of September; October is now looming on the horizon! Time sure flies when you’re having fun (and doing loads and loads of laundry on the weekend, which is what my recent days “off” consisted of). 😉 
 
As we truly leave summer behind, it’s really time to start thinking about dressing for the cold. But what do you do when it’s only chilly during the mornings and evenings? You start layering! This basically means wearing pieces of your summer wardrobe and adding long-sleeved and thicker pieces on top. I never realized there’s actually a “science” behind getting dressed, but it seems some people put a lot of thought into the process. Thanks to the internet, we now have access to all those style secrets. I thought I’d share a few of those ways we can stay warm in today’s mentionables…
 
1. Transitional outfits. Check out these 5 tips from Jo-Lynne from the blog Musings of a Housewife on how to stretch your summer outfits into the fall. Jo-Lynne also posts regularly about dressing as an over-40 woman, which piqued my interest because 40 is looming on the horizon for me, too (but thankfully not as soon as tomorrow!). 
 
For those of you who like to see things in action, Ann from Life Ann Style has a good YouTube video with before and after versions of outfits.
2. Refashioning sweaters. It’s easy to get bored of the clothes in your closet and oh-so tempting to want to buy new ones. But before you do, consider refashioning them. It’s is a great way to make your old clothes “new” again. I took this old sweater of mine, added some beads and gave it a different look.
Here’s the before…
Here’s the after!

Here are some other refashioning ideas on how to turn a sweater into a skirt, a cardigan (which is a super easy no-sew craft with iron-on adhesive) or a hat

3. Warm Bodies. Here’s a movie that will make you feel warm and fuzzy on a cold night. 🙂 It’s about zombies – yes, that’s right, I said zombies. But before you think I’m out of my mind for recommending this movie, let me say that it’s also a chick flick. And when you have zombies + a romantic story line, you have a movie both guys and girls will appreciate (even hubby likes it). There is really only one scene that may make you cringe; the rest of the time you’ll be laughing, sighing or cheering. Check out the review it got on Rotten Tomatoes here.
Have a warm Monday! 🙂

Monday Mentionables: Nifty Little Tips, Face Mapping & Family Rules

Welcome to fall (as of yesterday)! Now that the weather is starting to cool down and temps are only in the mid 70’s (yes, this is California), it doesn’t seem so strange that Costco already has Christmas decorations on display. LOL 🙂
 
I wasn’t sure what to blog about today, but then I remembered there are a few nifty little tips I discovered recently that I’d love to share with you. So without further delay, here are today’s mentionables:
 
1. Nifty Little Tips. The web is full of tips on how to make your life a little easier. For example, you can google “household tips pinterest” and find info on how to use toothpaste to fix scratched DVD’s or to clean car headlights (the latter of which I’ve tried with success, but it requires a bit of elbow grease). Here are a couple of other tips I found…
Add a clip to hold your kitchen towel together
to keep it from falling off the oven handle.
Then pull the front side of the towel down to hide the clip, which is now behind the towel.
Add a keychain ring to the zipper on a pair of pants to keep your fly closed. 
Just pull the ring up, loop it around the button and button it as usual. 
It works great and saves you from any embarrassing moments!
Tea treat oil has antibacterial properties and is a great zit zapper! 
Just dab it on with a Q-tip (you may want to dilute it with water) a 
few times a day and watch the pimple shrink and dry up. 
It may take a couple of days to fully disappear, so be patient.

2. Face Mapping. Speaking of pimples, the Chinese word for zits is loosely translated as “youthful spots”. Whoever made this up obviously didn’t realize people past their teens are still prone to break outs (yes, I speak from experience). 😉 I was happy to find this post on Lindsay’s (of Delighted Momma’s) blog about face mapping. Lindsay is an esthetician and recommends using this chart, which is based on traditional Chinese medicine, to figure out what your skin is trying to tell you. Take a look – you just might find out the causes of those dark circles under your eyes or pimples on your jaw.

3. Family Rules. Just wanted to share this neat wall hanging I picked up at Walmart for $11! Since I’m a recovering perfectionist, I don’t particularly like the idea of rules, but I do love the ones listed here:
Yes, I wish that alarm box wasn’t on the wall, but things can’t always be perfect. 😉

And on that note, may we all have a happy, thankful, compassionate and funny Monday! 

Monday Mentionables: Organizing, Meegenius & Brown-Eyed Girl

Welcome to Monday again! 

I think one of these days we should have a backwards week where the weekdays are the weekend and vice versa. Then we would actually look forward to Mondays. What do you think? Anyone want to start a petition, just let me know! 😉 
 
Here are today’s mentionables…
1. Organizing. I have been bit by the organizing bug! You would think a square gal like me would have her whole house (and life – LOL) organized, but I never really had any down time or the brain power during grad school/full-time work to do it. Then after the kids arrived, I just went into survival mode. 😛 But now I do (at least I’m starting to)! There are tons of Pinterest pages and sites with ideas if you don’t know where to start. Organizing your home can be quite a daunting task, but the key is to start with one room, or even one drawer, at a time. Take a look at these improvements I’ve made so far.
This is a before pic of my bathroom drawer where I keep my makeup and hair accessories. I hesitated taking this because it looked quite hopeless and it’s embarrassing to think I was so messy before! But wait till you see the after pic!
Ahh… now I can breathe again! Look at the difference some containers
(in this case some old jewelry boxes) can make! 🙂

And now onto the kitchen…

We have this magnetic board from IKEA (here’s a similar version) hung behind the stove to prevent the wall from getting greasy. I had a brief moment of thinking “outside the box” and decided to give it a dual purpose. I bought these magnetic hooks from Harbor Freight (4 for $2.79!) and hung all our cooking utensils on it. Not only did doing this free up a whole kitchen drawer, it makes cooking and baking so much more efficient now!

2. Meegenius.com. If you have kids and haven’t heard of this app, it’s time you checked it out! This is basically an online store of picture books that are read aloud to you. All you do is listen and follow the words as they are highlighted on the screen. It’s great for families on the go, especially on long drives when the book reader (usually me) loses her voice after reading about six books. With Meegenius, the parent gets a break and the kids still get something educational to do. It’s a great resource for teachers and schools, too. If you’re a teacher you can get a complimentary (FREE!) subscription that gives you access to over 70 books. 

Now comes my shameless plug! 🙂 If you are so inclined, you can also buy my very first picture book, A Rainbow of Nine Colors that is available on Meegenius.com for $2.99. It is a book about a brown beetle named Beanie and his quest for significance among his more colorful bug friends. Included are lessons on mixing colors, rainbows and finding beauty in diversity. The illustrations are pretty cute, too. I am hoping to someday get paid for my writing efforts and am 1/5th of the way there already (I get paid after every $50 earned). If you could help spread the word about my book, I’d really appreciate it!

3. Brown-Eyed Girl. This song by Van Morrison is one of my all-time favorites (maybe cause I’m a brown-eyed girl?). It’s an oldie, but goodie. Hopefully it gets you movin’ today!
 

Monday Mentionables: Food Art, Healthy Sweets & DIY Face Scrubs

Now that the first week of school is over, I officially feel like a chauffeur. Since the kids are on different schedules (son is full day, daughter is half), I rack up plenty of miles cruising around our little city. I’m not complaining though; I’m enjoying my free mornings and my alone time (did I mention I’m an introvert? haha). 
 
Now onto today’s mentionables…
 
1. Food Art. One thing I’m not totally enjoying though is having to pack lunch for my son every day. He is a bit picky and anti-all things green – I even tried bribing him with oreos if he would eat some cucumbers, but he didn’t fall for it. Sigh, where did he get his stubbornness from, I wonder? 😉 Anyways, my daughter is the opposite, thank God. It’s much easier to convince her to eat her veggies. Here’s what I did the other day to make lunch more fun. 
 
We had fun saying things like, “Hey, you ate his eye!”
or “Where did his nose go?” as we munched.

Now there are some really creative (and patient!) moms out there who put lots of time and thought into making their kids’ meals more scrumptious. I however am not one of them. But I just might be able to get some ideas from them. This mom’s handiwork here is very inspirational.

2. Healthy Sweets. One food I that I don’t have a problem with getting my kids to eat is fruit. It is sweet, healthy and a great alternative to desserts. Since the weather warmed up quite a bit this past weekend, I thought of freezing fruit for us to enjoy. Bananas on a stick (or spoon) are like mini ice cream popsicles – cold and creamy! 
Since I didn’t have popsicle sticks on hand,
I used some take out chopsticks (and a spoon) instead! 

And I thought of dipping the bananas in some DIY magic shell to make them even tastier. 🙂 (I blogged before about making magic shell so you can guess how much I love it.)

Yes, that is ice cream. Hey, at least I was kinda healthy. 🙂

Here’s a recipe for the chocolate covered bananas if you want to try it yourself (it’s a fancier version of mine). I’m thinking frozen strawberries could work, too.

3. DIY Face Scrubs. Speaking of food, did you know you can make your own face scrubs with 3 simple ingredients? I’m talking about sugar/salt + oil + fruit/veggie. You can find some great recipes here – there are several combinations to try depending on the treatment you want for your skin (ie. moisturizing, soothing, exfoliating). They almost look good enough to eat.
 
Here’s hoping you have a delicious Monday!

Monday Mentionables: Upcycling Ideas & Wall Decals

I cannot believe summer is practically over and fall is around the corner. However that does mean the munchkins and I survived many days that were hot, long and boring (according to some little people)! Although I’m grateful for the time I got to spend with them and the lessons I learned about patience (grr! haha), I think we are all ready for the structure and busyness that school brings. 🙂

Today, I’d like to share with you all some things I’ve been doing to make our house more of a home. I realized this summer has been the first time in a long time that I’ve had the desire or energy to make improvements to our abode. Some projects are still in progress, but here’s what I’ve done so far.

1. Upcycled T-shirt Wall Art. I took an old shirt of hubby’s (one that was definitely well loved because it had many holes in it), cut out the back and glued it on a piece of styrofoam. Voila!

This little reminder of Hawaii is now hanging in our master bathroom. 
I love the quotes on it – so funny and true!
 
Kimo’s Kauai Rules
Never judge a day by the weather.
The best things in life aren’t things.
Tell the truth – there’s less to remember.
Speak softly and wear a loud shirt.
Goals are deceptive – the unaimed arrow never misses.
He who dies with the most toys still dies.
Age is relative – when you’re over the hill you pick up speed.
There are 2 ways to be rich – make more or desire less.
Beauty is internal – looks mean nothing.
No rain – no rainbows.
2. Upcycled Art Supply Rack. I got the idea from this website to turn an old wine rack into a holder for the kids’ markers and crayons. We used to keep all the supplies in an old baby wipe box, but it soon became a very disorganized mess.
Yes, that’s Chloe and her beloved chicky trying to hide from the camera.

With some paper cups and a glue gun, we now have an organized collection of random art supplies! 🙂 Don’t you love how each color has its own spot? It’s amazing how happy this little project made me (yes, I am still a bit square when it comes to organizing).

Each cup that is glued on the rack has another cup in it
so the kids can remove the whole cup for the color they need. Brilliant, huh? 😉
Isn’t upcycling cool?! 🙂 Check out this site for many more ideas, such as turning glass jars into snow globes or tennis balls into towel holders.

3. Wall Decals. I had originally wanted to paint this wall of our family room a cheery yellow color, but I kind of lost my “will to paint” a few weeks ago (which explains why our upstairs bathroom is only half done). So I turned to a much simpler way of upgrading the walls – decals! They are just like stickers, but are also repositionable so they make decorating so much easier and fun! They did however take more time to apply cause I wanted to get them “just right”. It was a great lesson in patience for the kiddos who were helping me, though they did get a little antsy after I redid the bottom right branch three times. 😉

The kitchen cabinet door that is leaning against the wall is a preview of our next DIY remodeling project. 🙂
If you’d like to try decals, you can find them at Walmart (where I got these for $10!), Target or Amazon.com.
 
Hope you have a wonderful Labor (or non-laboring) Day today!

Monday Mentionables: DIYs – Magic Shell, Tops & Hair Clip

There has been a lot of DIY-ing around my house this summer. It’s funny that this is a such a big trend now cause doing things yourself was actually the norm back in the day. I guess it’s true what King Solomon said – there’s really nothing new under the sun. (Case in point, overalls are making a comeback!)
 
Here are 3 things I made last week that most anyone could definitely do, too.
1. DIY Magic Shell. It’s super easy, good for you and very, very yummy. You only need 2 ingredients for this recipe: chocolate and coconut oil (the latter of which is a wonderful and healthy substitute for cooking and baking). With the antioxidants from the (dark) chocolate, the omega-3’s from the coconut oil and the calcium from the ice cream, you’ll want to eat this every day!
The magic is in the coconut oil which hardens below 76 degrees F.

Side note: One of my longtime girlfriends who is a great cook recommended adding a bit of olive oil and salt to vanilla ice cream. It sounds a little strange, but it tastes really good, just like salted caramel! So if you get tired of using the magic chocolate (crazy thought, I know), try this out for a change.

2. DIY Matching Outfits. I love how C is still young enough that she wants to dress like me. I made a halter top from some fabric my sister-in-law gave me and when she saw it, she wanted me to make her one too! This was my first sew-from-scratch project; I based it off the instructions I found here. It’s totally doable for a beginner with a simple sewing machine (mine is a portable one that can only sew a straight line).

C’s (on the right) turned into a dress.

3. DIY Hair Clips. I love the idea of making C’s hair clips instead of buying them; it costs less and allows me to be more creative. I found the instructions for a loopy flower clip made from ribbons and a button. It took me less than 10 minutes to make one!

My mom mentioned recently that I got my craftiness from her mom who used to make all the kids’ clothes (on top of being a doctor, too). I never had the chance to meet my grandma (at least on this side of heaven), so it’s nice to know I have something in common with her. 
 
How does craftiness run in your family? Whether you enjoy art, words, music, science or engineering, there are plenty of ways to express your creativity. So get your thinking caps on and have a creative Monday!

Monday Mentionables: My Favorite Toys

A friend asked me recently for kids’ toys recommendations, so I thought I’d do a post about my favorite ones. Of course there are a million and one toys out there and I haven’t played with them all, so this may be a bit biased. 

1. Board Games. Board games have been a big hit in our house now that both kids are able to participate. It’s pretty cool to be able to play something all together and have it be entertaining for both the kids and grown-ups (it beats playing Matchbox cars any day!). Our favorites include Chutes and Ladders, Uno Moo and Sequence for Kids. Games are a great way to practice taking turns, strategizing, and most importantly, winning and losing graciously.

Here’s a peek at my hand!

2. Legos. You can never, I repeat, never go wrong with legos. There are big ones (called Mega Bloks) for plump baby fingers, Duplo ones for the preschoolers and teeny weeny ones for the older kids. Even adults like them; my sister and brother in law had a huge Star Wars set listed on their wedding registry, which unfortunately did not get bought – maybe we’ll get it for them for their 10th anniversary. 😉

This bag of Mega Bloks kept both kids entertained for 6 years!

3. Recyclables. They say desperate times call for desperate measures; I say creative times call for recycling measures. There is no better way to save money on toys than to make them yourself out of things you find around the house. There are tons of websites with ideas on how to turn toilet paper rolls or egg cartons into works of art.

C loves chicks!

Now if you ever want to buy already made toys, but would like to leave the toy store in a good mood, check out Once Upon A Child. A new location just opened up near us and we have visited them three times in the last week. The great thing about this store is that you can sell them your gently used toys, baby equipment and clothes and get cash back. And you can either take the cash and run (good luck if you brought the kiddies with you) or use it towards something in the store. All their items are clean, not missing any parts and checked for recalls so they are almost like new. Plus, they are marked way down. We got a 355 piece lego set for $12 (Walmart sells it for $23) and it took us close to two hours to finish one design (2 more to go), so we got our money’s worth!

Alrighty, now onto tackling another painting project this week – the upstairs bathroom. I’ve got this tune, “Stop” by the Spice Girls to help me get going today (it’s been playing in my head ever since last night’s Girls’ Night Out which involved microphones and colored lights, haha!).

Happy Monday everyone!

Monday Mentionables: Orange Walls, Paleo Bread & Alex Goot

It’s August! And the storm before the calm…also known as “getting the kids and myself through summer vacation in one piece”. 🙂 Our first week post summer school was pretty good, thanks to the kids being able to play peacefully together – miracles do happen! I did some major cleaning around the house and the kids and I also painted a bathroom. 

Check out today’s mentionables:

1. Orange Walls. It is actually an orange creamsicle color, so it’s both bright and yummy. Despite it being our first time painting, I think it turned out pretty well (just don’t look too closely at the edges, haha). Now whenever it’s rainy and gloomy outside, we just need to take a potty break to “feel” the sunshine again!

The before (which was a yellow with blue mixed in)…

 

and the after! It looks better in person – my phone’s camera doesn’t do it justice. 🙂

2. Paleo Bread. No, I haven’t officially jumped on board the paleo bandwagon, but I do try to make things low carb for hubby’s sake (unfortunately high blood sugar runs in his family). This bread has a pretty good consistency considering it is grain-free and the main ingredient is almond butter. 

Sweetened with honey!

I got the recipe from the blog, Elana’s Pantry, which has an extensive collection of paleo recipes. She also has an amazing story of how she is healing herself from multiple sclerosis with diet and lifestyle changes.

3. Alex Goot. I can’t remember how I found this guy on youtube, but I’m glad I did. He has his own music channel and sings his own songs (which are pretty catchy), as well as covers of songs on the radio. He’s got a nerdy kind of vibe, so he’s definitely not like Justin Bieber, but that’s probably a good thing. 🙂 Check out his song, “Bright Lights“:

Have a wonderful week! 

Monday Mentionables: DIY Tutorials, Franklin the Turtle & Kiddie Art

Summer school is over, which means a lot more sibling negotiating and mama refereeing is about to happen at our house! In hopes of keeping the munchkins occupied, I have enlisted their help in cleaning up our home. I’m talking about emptying out all the cabinets and closets and donating EVERYTHING we haven’t used in the past year. Maybe we’ll even paint a wall or two. Let’s see if I can keep the kids entertained (and not squabbling) until school starts. 

Say hello to the last week of July and today’s mentionables:

1. DIY TutorialsThe other day my son asked if I was born around the time when horses pulled “cars”. Haha, no, I definitely wasn’t! But I do remember the days before we had cell phones, email or social media. Life was a lot quieter and relaxed than it is now, but definitely not as creative. These days when I get the urge to do something crafty, I just google “DIY ________” (fill in the blank with food, jewelry, clothes, etc) and I’ve got a million ideas at my fingertips. I especially like Brit + Co.’s site that is full of out-of-the-box projects, such as 20 ways to repurpose a yoga mat or how to make velcro studded bracelets. It will keep you busy and entertained for a long time!

2. Franklin the Turtle. Franklin is the sweet and lovable star of the Franklin books by Brenda Clark and Paulette Bourgeois. I like this series because it teaches kids good lessons about friendships, family and growing up. The characters are also brought to life in a TV series, which you can watch online here. Also, for some reason, only Franklin has an actual name; all his friends are called by their animal name, such as Bear, Fox and Snail. Maybe the author ran out of ideas? 

Image courtesy of Google images

3. Kiddie Art. C loves to draw. She recently brought this piece home from preschool. It’s our family in chick form. 🙂 I’m thinking I should save some of her artwork just in case she makes it big one day. I’m sure Picasso’s and Monet’s moms thought the same thing. 😉

Happy Monday to you!

Monday Mentionables: “Ice cream”, DIY Necklace & The Mercy House

We had a whirlwind weekend celebrating my son’s birthday, so today actually seems less manic than usual. 🙂 How was your weekend? Ready to start a new week?

Here are today’s mentionables:

1. One ingredient “ice cream”. I put “ice cream” in quotes because, to be honest, this is not the real deal. It is a much healthier version that kind of reminds you of the real thing with its consistency, but as my son remarked while eating it, “It’s not that sweet.” Haha. No, it’s not and that’s why we can eat more of it and still eat the real thing later.

Get the recipe here

C requested mango mixed in with hers!

2. DIY necklace. I have recently jumped headfirst into the world of accessories. I say headfirst because I am all about the necklaces – long beaded ones, statement ones, ones with pendants – there are so many styles to choose from! I prefer more subtle decor for myself, but it’s fun to try on different kinds and suggest them to your girlfriends (haha, you know who you ladies are). 🙂 

In light of the fact that jewelry can cost an arm and a leg (in which case you would have two less limbs to wear bracelets and anklets on), I decided to make my own. Here is a necklace that literally took me 3 minutes to make. 

I bought these earrings from Old Navy for $0.99, but never wore them cause they are just so big.
Turns out they are the perfect size for a necklace!

 

Pair it with a black cord and you’re good to go!

 

My $0.50 necklace!

 

3. The Mercy House. It always amazes and inspires me to hear stories of ordinary people making a difference in the world. I recently heard about this group home in Kenya which was founded by the mommy blogger of http://wearethatfamily.com. The Mercy House aids young girls who are pregnant as a result of rape or forced prostitution. The girls here receive shelter, pre/post-natal care, education and counseling in a safe and loving environment. They also learn how to make jewelry and other goods to sell with the proceeds going to support the maternity house and the girls themselves. For those of you who love to browse online, check out their store here and go shopping for a great cause! 

Have a wonderful Monday and rest of the week!