Apron Full of Giveaways 12.02.14

December 2nd, 2014

Reindeer Apron via Etsy

Source: Boojiboo,  $28.75

 

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Good luck to each of you!

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How to Make a Watermelon Pirate Ship

December 1st, 2014

How to Make a Watermelon Pirate Ship from MomAdvice.com.

*This post is sponsored by Walmart

I have had my calendar booked forever for Peter Pan Live! ever since I heard it was the next live theater production to hit television. Did you hear that it is coming to NBC on Thursday, December 4 at 8/7c? The cast includes several of my favorites like Allison Williams, Christopher Walken, Christian Borle and Minnie Driver. In honor of the film, I have crafted up a watermelon boat that you can share with your kids for your family night together. This fun food craft can be created together, adding your own personal pirate touches, or you can create it to surprise the kids for your family night.

Not many people know this, but I did theatre for many years and my favorite type of shows to do were musicals. My love for this started in high school and I took a year off in between high school and college to do more shows. In fact, I even did a show when I was pregnant with my son.  Thankfully, it was of an era with empire waists and flowing Victorian clothing. I miss it a lot and that is, perhaps, why I appreciate the opportunity to catch any production that I can. I also appreciate any opportunity I can get to expose my children to the arts and it is why I put a big significance on this in our home. Not everyone can afford a ticket to see a show and I love that this is an affordable way to enjoy the arts as a family.

Without further adieu, let’s create a fun pirate ship for your family night!

Supplies Needed

1 watermelon

1 pint blueberries

1 pint strawberries

1 pound grapes

1 sharp knife

cutting board

1 piece of cardstock

5 paper straws (I found these in the party supplies aisle)

1 hole punch

1 pair of scissors

How to Make a Watermelon Pirate Ship from MomAdvice.com.

 

Directions for Watermelon Pirate Ship

1. To help your boat sit upright, slice very thinly the end off of the bottom of the watermelon, making sure not to puncture your watermelon so it can act as a boat for your fruit.

2.  Slice the top half of your watermelon off. Set aside.

3. Using a melon baller, remove the meat of your watermelon. If you do not have a melon baller, you can score the watermelon into chunks and glide your knife all around watermelon to help create the shape of your chunks. Use a spoon to then scoop out the squares of melon. Ideally though, a melon baller makes quick work for your fruit salad.

4. Once the melon is completely hollowed out, slice your fruit and place it inside of your bowl, weaving in your watermelon, to create your fruit salad.

How to Make a Watermelon Pirate Ship from MomAdvice.com.

5. Now we can make our sails for our ship. Cut out five squares from a single piece of cardstock, any size you wish. I just cut out one square and used it as a template to create the rest of my sails. These do not have to be perfect, in fact, if they are imperfect they look like they are waving a bit in the breeze.

6. Using a hole punch, punch out a punch near the top of the square and then near the bottom to create a place for our straws to slide through. I stacked them all together and then punched them all at once so they would look more uniform.

7.  You will then need to cut your straws are varying sizes. I did one long straw, two medium, and then two short.  Slide the straw through making sure that the straw is peeking out of the back and not the front of that pretty white sail.

How to Make a Watermelon Pirate Ship from MomAdvice.com.

We hope you love this craft we created in honor of  Peter Pan Live! and we hope you can catch the show with us!  You can learn more about this amazing production here! We can’t wait and hope this idea inspires you for your family night together!

xo

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10 Ways to Make the Holidays Meaningful for Your Kids

December 1st, 2014

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

Making the Holidays Meaningful

We took our girls to get their picture taken with Santa the weekend before Thanksgiving. And just like that, the race was on. I’d already liked and shared a local mom blog’s list of holiday events around the city, and don’t even get me started on my mental debate about Christmas cards.

Every year I swear I’m going to do less; I swear off holiday bucket lists. I vow to focus on what’s really important, to truly take to heart the idea that being present is so much more valuable than any present I could make or buy or wrap in pretty, pretty paper.

And every year I still manage to drive myself – and my family, at times – a little bit crazy anyway.

Despite my tendency to go a little haywire during the holidays, I keep trying. I have to! It matters too much to quit. I know the importance of meaningful holiday experiences, and even more than desiring them for myself, I want to create them for my children. So today I sat down with my seven-year-old, and we brainstormed a few ways to turn this wish list into reality.

Here are 10 Ways to Make the Holidays Meaningful for Your Kids:

1. Remember (or research) the meaning of the holiday.
Read the Christmas story from the Bible (or the story of the holiday you celebrate). In the past couple of years, we’ve loved learning about the origins of lots of the holiday traditions celebrated during Christmas and Hanukkah by watching Why Do We Call It Christmas, a video with funny puppets and catchy tunes.

2. Take time to give back to others.
For the past few years my daughter and I have enjoyed shopping for items to fill an Operation Christmas Child shoebox. But there are plenty of different ways you can give during the holiday season. Whether you buy gifts for a child in foster care or drop a handful of change in the red Salvation Army bucket outside the store, serve dinner at a homeless shelter or buy an extra set of blocks for Toys for Tots, giving to those in need is always going to help us remember both to be grateful for what we have and to focus on others instead of ourselves.

3. Change the kind of gifts you give.
For me, giving gifts is one of the most fun parts of the holiday season. I love finding the perfect present for the people I love. But I realize that sometimes more is not better if my goal is to make the holidays meaningful for the young people I love!

Several of my friends have chosen to only give each of their children four gifts: something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. I love that! I’ve also seen floating around Pinterest lots of non-toy gifts. Beauty and Bedlam and Raising Memories have great lists of ideas!

4. Decorate with intention.
This was my daughter’s idea! When I asked her for ways to make our holidays meaningful, she said, “Well, Mommy, holidays aren’t all about decorating…but decorations are nice. So…maybe if we decorated with Jesus things??”

She recently received her first nativity set from my parents and is excited to find the perfect spot to place it in her room. So she might be a little biased with her advice, but she still has a good point. I don’t have anything against ceramic Santas or Frosty mugs, but I also love pulling out my own nativity sets and placing them in a place of prominence in our home. And anytime I have a chance to use my Jesus is the Reason for the Season platter, I take it!

5. Add meaning to your countdown with an Advent calendar.
A simple activity each day in December can keep your focus on what’s most important to you and your family. Whether that’s reading a Bible verse, performing an act of kindness, or completing a craft project (or a coloring sheet, for the less-crafty moms like me), taking time out of the holiday craziness can remind kids and grownups alike why we’re celebrating in the first place.

My daughter and I love doing Truth in the Tinsel, which incorporates crafts and scripture to create meaningful conversations and experiences. You can find a 12-day schedule for Truth in the Tinsel here, and the ebook also includes four alternate schedules as well: Just the Basics (with 6 activities), By Book of the Bible (6+ activities), Characters (10 activities) and Prophecy (7 activities). (And if you’d rather not tackle craft projects during this busy season, you can also buy the printable ornaments. Easy peasy!)

Read Christmas books together

6. Read a book a day.
Speaking of a simple daily activity…we tried this one a couple years ago, and it was a blast! I wrapped Christmas books – from our own collection and from the library – and we opened one each night. And this is one you can start at any point during the season.

7. Plan a family date.
For as long as I can remember, my parents have made a point to plan a Christmas date for our family. Even as adults, we made room in our calendar for this outing for years. These days, my daughters have taken over as their designated Christmas dates, but that’s okay. My husband and I are excited to start this tradition with our own family, planning an outing with our girls. (Probably a trip to see Santa and a stop for hot chocolate this year. Nothing fancy, but still special for the season.)

8. Plan a family night in.
Christmas movies. Slice and bake cookies or a bag of microwave popcorn. Sticking label and stamps on the holiday cards. Trying on new, matching pajamas and playing Uno. In a season of busyness, a night at home with the people you love most is a gift in itself and just might do the trick to center your minds and hearts on that meaning we’re all longing for.

9. Consider your calendar carefully.
I try to stick to one “festivity” during the week and one during the weekend in the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. For my small, easily overwhelmed family, that’s just about all the extra fun we can handle. Others might be able to do more, while some families might be better off cramming everything into one crazy week. You can’t do everything, so consider your calendar – and capacity – carefully when making your plans.

10. Just say no.
Whether this is your last resort or your go-to response, saying “no” is an option – even during the holidays. We can say no. We can! We can say no to the light display or the homemade goodies or the elaborate countdown rituals or the open house at your house or the cookie swap at someone else’s. We can say no to the expectations and the demands and the stress. Whatever doesn’t work for your family, whatever takes your focus too far from the true meaning of our holidays – you can say no to it. Go ahead, give it a try!

How do YOU make the holidays meaningful for your family?

 

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Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland

November 29th, 2014

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com

If there is one thing this girl loves it is a good yarn pom-pom project. I have created everything from pom-pom Christmas trees to bouquets of flowers for gift-giving. Today I’m partnering with Walmart to show you a fun winter craft you (or your little ones) can create for the holidays to decorate a window, mantel, or pretty up a ledge in your home. The best part is that it doesn’t cost a lot to create and can be used year after year!

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed

1 skein (or possibly two depending on your ledge size) Hometown USA Super Bulky Yarn in Los Angeles Tan ($2.97)

Package of 20 Mini Shatterproof Ornaments (in seasonal decor with the mini artificial trees) ($3.48)

Large Clover Pom-Pom Maker (use the blue one) ($6.61)

Scissors

Embroidery Needle

Scissors

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com how-to-use-a-pom-pom-maker-4 Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com

Yarn Pom Pom & Mini-Ornament Garland Directions

1. Prepare yarn pom-poms as I have shown you in the step-by-step photo tutorial or follow directions on packaging to create your pom poms. Keep making pom-poms making sure to leave enough yarn to string your pom-pom garland.

2. Once all of your pom poms are made, thread them with the embroidery needle onto your yarn. Take the embroidery needle off (the needle head is too large to feed through the mini-ornaments) and then alternate it with a mini-ornament. Keep doing this until you have filled the entire garland leaving a little on each end to hang down. I ended mine with an ornament since it ends the garland securely without knotting.

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com

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Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com
Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com
Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com
Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com

Did you see that I got my first little fireplace? I decided to decorate it with this adorable garland. To tie it all together, I filled glass bowls ($1.97 each) with a package of mini ornaments ($3.48 each) and then stacked them on my little fake logs that I had bought for my fall decorating from the craft store. I found these adorable owls  for $4.98 in the seasonal decor and I love that I can leave these out even when it isn’t Christmas. This mini lighted tree was $9.98 and I finished her with a little pom-pom topper too. Since we took our painting down to decorate, I used the nails I had for hanging another shorter garland above the top to add a little interest to the wall.

This project took me about one hour and I look forward to enjoying it all Winter long and in the years to come.

I hope this frugal idea inspires you in your holiday decorating! Happy Holidays!

xo

walmart_mom_disclaimer

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The MomAdvice Unique Holiday Gift Guide

November 28th, 2014

The MomAdvice Unique Holiday Gift Guide

 

I have been jotting down ideas for this holiday gift guide over the year since each year I aim to create a really useful gift guide that you really will use and love when selecting your gifts. This list is a compilation of my favorite things that have made me very happy and I believe they are the perfect gifts to share with someone you love.

I did not set a dollar limit this year on the gifts because I don’t get the opportunity to share some of the pricier things that I really have used and loved, but the list will offer a range of ideas for your own Christmas budget. I also try to share if I have found them somewhere cheaper or where to snag a coupon to make these gifts more affordable.

Magicbox Speaker

Magicbox Speaker ($29.99)

I absolutely love my Magicbox Speaker for listening to podcasts and music through my iPhone or iPad. This little guy is Bluetooth-enabled so it can connect with your device and charges with a little USB cable that it comes with. The sound is really good- not Sonos quality, but really perfect for my laundry/making dinner/cleaning house needs. I am one happy girl now that I don’t have to hold my phone to my ear to keep up with all my stories and to hear my music.  I really think this is a sweet little gift and I love the price tag.

Blanket Scarves

Blanket Scarves ($15 or less)

Blanket scarves are very trendy this year and are the perfect gift to give for the holiday season. These are also an ideal gift for someone who travels a lot since they fit perfectly in your carry-on luggage and can be wrapped around you when you get cold on the plane or at the airport.  I have an easy tutorial to create a blanket scarf  for gift-giving this year for the crafty and the not-so-crafty.  Head over here and check to see if flannel fabrics are on sale. If not, that same link will provide you a 40% off coupon. You will DEFINITELY want to use this because it makes these scarves budget-friendly for the holidays.

UGG Slippers

UGG Slippers ($55 on eBay)

I wish I could give everyone in the world a pair of UGG slippers because these make me that happy. Every year I buy a cheap pair of slippers from Target that I trash and then have to buy another pair, usually mid-season. I discovered that UGG makes slippers (I know, I am so behind on the times!) and I decided to hunt on eBay to see if I could find a pair of slippers for myself.  I wanted something that looked like a shoe and not yo grandma’s slippers. I found these Gray Suede Driving Moccasins that were brand-new (just missing their box) and bought them for $55. Considering I am probably spending that much on two cheap pairs every year, this is a worthy investment. The best part is that they have leather inserts for warm days and then they have that delightful furry insert for freezing days. UGG Slippers bought from UGG might be out of the budget, but checking eBay might be a great option for brand new slippers at a fraction of the price for someone you love!

Fitbit Flex

Fitbit Flex ($74.89)

I am one of those people that is slow to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to technology and gadgets. Before the Fitbit Flex even launched, my husband knew about it and wanted to buy it for me. Now that it has been enough time for the trend to pass, I figured I would look into getting one and I absolutely love it for motivating me to stay fit and hit the gym.

Several of my girlfriends have these and I tend to have an annoyingly competitive streak so being in a competition for the most steps has been pushing me to hit the gym and go on an evening walk so I can compete against my athletic friends.

The other thing that I love, not fitness related, is the silent alarm feature on the Fitbit Flex. I have to be the first one up in our house and when my alarm goes off, it triggers my husband to wake up and our cat to start the annoying meowing baby cry reserved for the morning alarm. You can set a silent alarm on the app and the bracelet vibrates to wake you in the morning.  I wake up happier,  my husband continues to sleep, and the cat doesn’t start her annoying meowing baby cry until she realizes I am up. Winning all around!

If you are gifting this, consider making a little DIY Fitbit Flex Leather Cuff to go with it- this has been one of my favorite things this year!

Logitech Keyboard

Logitech iPad Keyboard ($49.46)

I used to carry around my laptop when I traveled, but when I got my iPad, I knew that I wouldn’t need to carry that around with me anymore because HELLO…BROKEN BACK. How many pounds is a laptop? Ouch!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stand trying to type on the touch screen, particularly when sending lengthy emails or trying to conduct anything for my business. I found this Logitech iPad Keyboard and it has been one of the best tech investments I have ever made. It instantly turns your iPad into a mini-laptop that you can carry in your purse. The battery life lasts forever before it requires a charge with a small cord, making it perfect for me to take to my conferences. The outside of it is metal and durable, helping protect your iPad screen and it latches together magnetically, as though they weren’t meant to be together from the start.

The best part is that it holds my iPad up for me while I am laying in my hotel bed watching Parenthood episodes so that I can hold my Kleenex and cry without having to hold the screen at the same time. Can you just imagine how hard that would be?

But it is also very important for business. Yes, for business.

This American Life

This American Life App ($2.99)

An iTunes gift card makes the perfect little stocking stuffer for the holidays and may I offer a suggestion on how to spend it?  I am an NPR junkie and if  you haven’t discovered it yet  This American Life is mostly true stories of everyday people, and the best way I can describe it is that the show is like listening to a movie about these people.  It is typically told in three acts that all interact around the same theme. It is the best kind of storytelling and usually leads to a beautiful discussion about your own viewpoints after the show. The app is wonderful for listening to all of the Staff Picks and the best of the best in This American Life offerings.

My husband and I sit in our respective chairs and hang on every word. Every. Word. It’s become one of our favorite things to do in the evenings, further solidifying the exciting type of senior life you might expect from us in the future.  If you aren’t listening to NPR, you are missing the boat. And I can say this because I missed the boat for years and now I can’t imagine my life without it.

Faux Fur Throws

Faux Fur Blankets ($15.88)

I was hoping these blankets would be back from Better Homes & Gardens and spotted these faux fur throws back on the shelves this week at Walmart. This is MY FAVORITE blanket and a great gift to give for the holidays.  It is cozy fleece on one side and then the other side is a glorious faux fur.  They even had a free Better Homes & Gardens Magazine subscription attached to it which made the deal even sweeter.  Who wouldn’t love a cozy throw with a gift card to select a few favorite books to read.

Barnes & Noble Collectible Edition Books

Barnes & Noble Collectible Editions ($18 or less)

Every year I ask for one Barnes & Noble Collectible Edition to read.  These books are so beautifully bound and I try to read one classic each year so these beautiful books add a lot of motivation to read them since they are such a treat to page through. This year I have my eye on this Ernest Hemingway collection or to dig into this Laura Ingalls Wilder collection to read with my favorite little girl in the evenings. You will never regret these purchases for our bookshelf. I love all of the Barnes & Noble Collectible editions and even treated myself to The Giver collection this year (which I can’t wait to read!) that I found in my local store. (PS- Check here for coupons!)

Sorel Boots

Sorel Boots ($110 or more)

Five years ago I got my first (and only) pair of Sorel Boots and they still look just like the day that I got them. They have a cozy layer of Thinsulate inside of them that keep my feet toasty and each year a little polishing and waterproof spraying helps them to go strong from year to year. I have never spent a lot on shoes, but after the fifth year of these going strong, I can honestly say that they are a worthwhile investment especially if you live in the Midwest. I am planning to ask for Sorel gift cards to put towards my next pair of boots from my family members so I can pool them together to get another pair.

Royal Fox Print

Royal Fox Print

Royal Fox Print ($45)

My brother is an artist in NOLA and when I came to visit we had the best time checking out all of the art that the street vendors offered as well as the galleries full of unique art. I only brought home one souvenir from my trip and it was this sweet little Royal Fox print that I found  at the Gallery Burguieres in NOLA. The artist was as sweet as could be and has recently had a little drama going on with this fox that has made him rather famous in the Taylor Swift world. This shop is a little NOLA treasure and was one of my favorite galleries we visited and this print makes me smile every time I see it.

Janet Hill Studios

Janet Hill Studios

Janet Hill Prints ($26 or more)

My home is filling quickly with Janet Hill prints and every single piece just speaks to my soul in a way no other artist has ever spoken to me. Each print tells such a beautiful and unique story that I think would resonate with just about anyone. These beautiful prints would be lovely to share with someone you love particularly if you frame them with an inexpensive frame. I took mine to Hobby Lobby to get a matte that would make each one stand out. Of course, Janet Hill is just one of many talented artists that share their wares on Etsy so you if you are unsure of your recipient’s taste, consider a gift card to Etsy to make gift-giving easy and unique.

Knitted Boot Cuffs

Knitted Boot Cuffs ($5)

Our most popular project on the site right now are these knitted boot cuffs that you can whip it up in a mere two hours. I gave these to my best friend Christmas last year and you can make them for about $5 in materials. These are such fun toppers to your boots and would also make a sweet little stocking stuffer. If you are new to cabling, this is an easy project to tackle to master cabling and you can’t beat that these can be created in such a short amount of time.

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though. Check out past editions of It’s the 3 Little Things for more happiness givers.

 

I hope this little list helps as you plan your holiday shopping. You can also find a great list of 54 handmade gifts you can make for those special people in your life!  What are your favorite gifts you have given or received?

 

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How to Paint a Laminate Fireplace

November 28th, 2014

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

It has been a dream of mine to have a fireplace in our home.  It started with a faux mantel obsession and endless nights on Craigslist. Then every home improvement show we watched had beautiful restored mantels that made me pine more for a cozy place in our home to sit. When we rented a lake cottage last winter, we all took turns sitting by it in the evenings to warm up. I just can’t seem to get over it.

Walmart wanted to partner with me on a fun winter project and I just knew it was time to pull the trigger.  You know, let the obsessing begin again. This time, I decided to explore the electric fireplace option for our home due to its affordability and ease it would be to add it to a room in our home.

I haven’t seen an electric fireplace in action in many years, but I can honestly say that they have come a long way. The flames are much more realistic than they used to be and you can select if you just want to sit by your little faux fire or if you want actual warmth which warms a room as a space heater would.  It’s definitely not the real deal, but a beautiful substitute especially for small spaces that need a little cozying.

Electric Fireplaces Ideas Under $200

Pictured Above: 1. Electric Fireplace with a 44″ mantel ($199)/ 2. Wall Mounted Fireplace ($124.95)/ 3. Electric Fireplace with 26″ Mantel ($129.99) 4. Electric Fireplace With 38″ Mantel (159.97)/ 5. 26″ Polyfiber Electric Fireplace ($199)

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

This back corner in my craft room/office was intended to be a place to unwind. Unfortunately, unwinding seemed impossible when facing my desk and the corner ended up being a pretty space that was rarely used. I decided that wall would be the perfect spot for our little fireplace and settled upon this Electric Fireplace with a 44″ mantel ($199) for the space. I paid the $5 for swift shipping and the item came overnight- I am not kidding.

This is a build-it-yourself piece of furniture that took a couple of hours to put together. I must admit, my husband was not on board at this point with my decision to bring this into our space, but I knew it could anchor this corner better and would be a lovely treat in the winter.

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

That same evening (a late night Instagram capture), I rearranged the furniture and the kids raided their library books and spent the evening cozy by it.

I loved the cozy space, but felt that the fireplace could look a little better with a little paint and creating a brighter focal point. I decided that I would paint it white to brighten it up and also to camouflage that this is a laminate wood piece. Have you ever painted laminate wood before?  It really couldn’t be easier with these three simple ingredients.

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

How to Paint Laminate Furniture in 3 Easy Steps

1. Paint on a Coat of Zinsser Primer- I became a fan of Zinsser Primer when I painted our kitchen table (she still looks great!) and could not seem to remove the layers of poly that had been applied to the table. In the same way, Zinsser makes a laminate surface accept your paint. If you don’t use this as a sealant before painting, it is likely that your project will begin to bubble and it will not accept the application of paint. Zinsser dries very quickly and is easy to apply to the surface. Once it is dry (usually within an hour or two), you can begin painting your furniture

2. Next, you can apply your paint. I have been painting like crazy over here and so I had a gallon of paint on hand that I could dig into for this project. Since the laminate wood was so dark, I used my Benjamin Moore Paint (the paint color is White Dove) that included a primer already in it.  With the addition of that, plus the Zinsser, I only needed one coat and a little more for touching up.

3. Finish with two coats of Polycrylic in a Clear Satin. I have a very sad, sad tale to share soon about two pieces of furniture that were ruined by an oil-based poly. In fact, they yellowed within a single week. Please if you do one thing, take my advice and use Polycrylic to finish your project. It is clear, it doesn’t smell as awful as the oil-based, and this product WON’T YELLOW YOUR FURNITURE.  Allow each coat of poly to dry for two hours before reapplying. Allow the piece to dry overnight.

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

The white paint definitely makes this fireplace the focal point of the room. I have already decorated her for the holidays and will be sharing my mantel decorating ideas on the blog next week that I created in less than an hour. This space is truly the happiest corner in our home and has been a wonderful place to unwind in the evening hours or for a break in the office during the day. I can’t believe how affordable this solution was and I love that I added my own touches to it to truly make it mine.

As you can see it, it is a hit with the whole family even our cat loves it and cozies up with us here. I highly recommend a little Bing on the record player to really bring this corner to life!

Happy holidays, friends!

xo

walmart_mom_disclaimer

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Amy’s Notebook 11.26.14

November 26th, 2014

DIY-Felt-Christmas-Wreath-Pillow via An Oregon Cottage

Source: An Oregon Cottage

 

This adorable pillow knockoff had me at glue gun.

Free printable Elf on the Shelf calendar and checklist- do you do an Elf on the Shelf?

Compound butter party favors- genius.

Our ‘Mommy’ problem.

Would you ever think about a side-dish-only Thanksgiving?

When kids have too much stuff.

Wowed by this dresser makeover.

DIY Cardboard Pie Box via A Joyful Riot

Source: A Joyful Riot

 

DIY cardboard pie box- how cute is this?

Awed by this knitted gradient cowl.

Love a little faux fur detail.

13 genius tips for decorating a small space.

We’ve seen almost every single one of these- have you?

Getting back to holiday simplicity.

Sparkle confetti garland- simple and sweet.

amys_notebook

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy then to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

Make Money Organizing Your Closet

November 25th, 2014

Make Money Organizing Your Closet

I have never had a truly clean and organized closet until I started my fashion capsule project. Had I known that I could have been making considerable cash this whole time, I might have taken the endeavor a bit more seriously. Today I want to share with you some resources I have discovered for making money while cleaning out your closet. Not only do you have the power to make some serious cash, but you also have the opportunity to transform lives by paying it forward to charities in need.

First things first, let’s talk about my purse clean out that netted me $80! 

Make Money Organizing Your Closet

Start With Your Purses- I Made a Ton

I have a terrible habit of switching my purses and never taking time to clean them out. Not only did I find a lot of great lipsticks to wear, but I also discovered that I had a lot of credit card gift cards with small denominator amounts on them that I didn’t know what to do with. Do you know that you can transfer all of these tiny gift card amounts to an Amazon gift card with no minimum balance? I headed over to this page where you can quickly reload your balance with NO MINIMUM amount. After kicking myself for all of the cards that had been sitting there expiring, I was happy to see that I now had $80 of credit that I can use towards my shopping.

Sell The Things You Aren’t Wearing

It has been brought to my attention since minimizing my wardrobe how little I really do need and how little I really do wear. If your items are brand name and in gently used condition consider selling them to make some extra cash or to put towards wardrobe items you really would love and wear.

Here are a few resources you can check. I know there are more, but these are the ones that I am most familiar with: 

Twice

Twice- This has been my #1 resource for pulling together my capsule wardrobe, but it is also my #1 resource for selling my gently used items. Twice will send you a selling kit within 4-6 days of your request that includes a bag and prepaid postage sticker for your items. If you are really excited to just get started though, you can grab a box from your recycling and fill it up with a label you print from your computer. Once you send in your first shipment they will give you $10 of credit towards a purchase so you can buy something you really love. Here is a list of the brands that they accept. Once they make an offer you can decide if you want to accept it or not.  If you don’t like the price, you pay $4.95 for return shipping. In contrast, thredUP charges $12.00 to return your items.

Keep in mind that this is not a consignment shop so they pay you once the item is accepted. No need to wait for your items to sell.

Threadflip

Threadflip- Threadflip is a new discovery for me and I am so excited about using this for my next capsule wardrobe. Threadflip is more of an online consignment shop for your clothing so that means you get paid when your item has been sold and shipped. That being said, they charge a mere 20% commission on your items so that you can pocket 80% of the profit. 

Much like Twice, they will send you an envelope with a prepaid shipping label for your items. Once you send it to them, they will list it for you by their team of professionals, saving you the hassle of trying to photograph and style your item. There is also the option to list the items yourself if you don’t want to send the items in. For me, the profit is the same so I would much rather have their team list it for me, but that one is totally up to you.

Poshmark

Poshmark- Poshmark & Threadflip are very similar in nature and the site is one of my new favorite places to browse for items for my capsule.  It is an app available for iPad and iPhone that allows you to shop, sell, and engage with virtual closets full of pre-worn or new pieces on one simple platform.

You list the items yourself- some take their own pictures while others utilize the photos from the website of where they purchased the item. They also charge a 20% commision fee on your items allowing you to pocket 80% of your profit. 

I will say from a user perspective, despite adding my sizing and storing it, I find the site a bit like going to a high-end garage sale. You have to really scan through all of the listings and even when sizing is set, it still pulls items that are not in my size or unrelated to my searches. Since users set their own pricing, you can find some steals though and I still love the thrill of a good hunt so I am sure thrifty shoppers will be ready to embrace your gently loved clothing.

thredUP

thredUPAll of my friends have been raving about thredUP and after joining to try it for this article, I can see what the fuss is about. Not only can you clean out your closet to make money, but you can also make money on your kid’s stuff and maternity items too! As with some of the other places I have listed, you can order a bag with a prepaid shipping label to start your closet clean out. Their fashion resale professionals review your clothing and then pay up to 80% of the resale value. You can earn thredUP shopping credit, or simply cash out with PayPal. Items that they don’t accept go to charitable partners or textile recycling companies. They can also be mailed back to you as part of their Return Assurance program for a $12.99 shipping fee. Be sure to check their quality standards before sending. Here is $10 of credit to spend on your first purchase. 

eBay- eBay has been around forever and is actually featured a lot in my It’s the 3 Little Things because I find some really killer deals on there as a buyer.  Although I have never personally sold items on eBay, I have had many friends who have with great success. There is a seller fee that you can read more about the eBay seller fees here. The nice thing is that you can sell items individually or you can sell them as a lot grouping instead.

Make Money Organizing Your Closet

Give Away The Rest

If you don’t love it, you aren’t wearing it, and you can’t sell it…share it with someone in need. There are so many fantastic charities to give to and if the items aren’t the wildly popular name brands or you just don’t want to hassle with the sale, consider paying it forward and giving your items to a worthwhile cause.

Here are a few options to consider:

Women’s Shelters- By far my favorite place to donate is to our local women’s shelters. This link helps you browse your state and find a shelter closest to you to give.

Dress For Success- Help someone look and feel their best for their job interviews. Their greatest need is larger size suits and apparel, but any business attire will do! Check here for locations.

Pick Up Please- The Vietnam Veterans of America is a respected charity that gives aid to all of America’s veterans, not just those of a particular age group or war. By donating used clothes, shoes, appliances, and other household items, you help generate funds to take care of the soldiers and service men and women who help keep America safe from harm. See if your state participates by visiting here.

Churches- Growing up our church had a room where guests or members could shop. Check with your church to see if they offer this or if they are partnered with any shelters in town where they could recommend sharing your donation.

Goodwill- Goodwill provides employment and job training to those in need of job assistance. Donations couldn’t be easier thanks to the drop-off boxes. Check here for locations.

Once you have your closet cleaned out, let’s get it organized!

Try a Capsule Wardrobe (here are my Fall & Winter capsules) to Minimize- Read more about what I have learned from minimizing my closet.

Tips & Tools for Organizing Your Closet

Have you made money selling items in your closet? Leave your experience here with the different services and be sure to share any resources that I might have missed!

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Apron Full of Giveaways 11.25.14

November 25th, 2014

Retro Apron via Etsy

Source: Rosie Ann Shop,  $35.45

 

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Good luck to each of you!

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Eating Well During the Holidays: Light Cranberry Bar Recipe

November 24th, 2014

*This post is sponsored by Celestial Seasonings. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I am very passionate about good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. You may not know that I actually went to school to study to be a dietician so I could help others eat and live better too. Although I never dreamed this would be my job, I am thankful for that background when putting together recipes for our site. I have come a long way over the years toward living a healthier lifestyle. I actually starting eating better because my body was indicating to me that something just wasn’t right after discovering I have a sensitivity to gluten. The other reason is how much better I feel when I eat well and exercise.

Today I am partnering with Celestial Seasoning Tea to share some ways that I try to stay on track for the holidays. You may not have considered tea a delicious (and healthy!) holiday indulgence, but they actually have 8 holiday offerings that include my new favorite Sweet Harvest Pumpkin Black Tea, Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland Herbal Tea, and Caramel Apple Dream that would all be lovely offerings for a post Thanksgiving feast treat.

Looking to stay on track for the holidays? Try these ideas!

Eating Well During the Holidays

Get in a Good Walk Before or After Your Feast

As you know I am absolutely obsessed with my Fitbit and we even shared a great way you can glam it up for the holidays.  Tracking my steps each day has been a great reminder to keep active and moving throughout the day. Whether you have a Fitbit, a pedometer, or use an app on your cell phone, try making a step goal for the day and get your steps in before or after your holiday feasts.

Many gyms offer a modified schedule for holidays for die-hard exercise enthusiasts (or just those of us who want to indulge in an extra slice or two of pie). Consider tackling a class in the morning, challenging your family to a game of flag football after your feast, or taking a family walk together after your dessert.
Eating Well During the Holidays

Eat Before You Eat

Since I have to be careful about what I eat for dietary reasons, I often eat before I head to a gathering because I know that many of the foods offered will leave me sick and feeling lethargic.  Consider indulging in a healthy meal or snack before heading out to your holiday gatherings that will help fill you up on the good stuff and give your stomach less room to indulge.

I like to keep a bag of spinach and roasted chicken or roasted turkey in my fridge for a quick salad with a few vegetable or fruit additions from the crisper drawer. Having a few items like these on hand during the holiday season will help you to eat healthy between the rush of holiday errands and gatherings. I have never regretted the time spent chopping and preparing my DIY salad bar for busy weeks.

Offer To Bring a Dish

I always offer to bring a dish to family gatherings that I know that I can eat and snack on. Opt for healthy options like a vegetable tray for snacking with a low-calorie dip or a fruit salad that can be a dessert replacement. Consider a lightened up holiday recipe as a dish to bring like these delicious Cranberry-Oatmeal Bars that can be enjoyed without the guilt.

Instead of coffee drowning in creamer opt to enjoy this sweet dessert with a tea that compliments it well. For these bars, I recommend the Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland Herbal Tea or, another one of my personal favorites, Gingerbread Spice.

Light Gluten-Free Cranberry Bars

Indulge Moderately

Even I can’t shy away from the dessert table around the holidays, but there are definitely fun, light desserts you can share in lieu of the calorie-laden pie.  To inspire you, here is a delicious Cranberry-Oatmeal Bar you can make for a sweet treat to enjoy with your cup of tea. May I recommend the Celestial Seasonings Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland Herbal Tea as an accompaniment?  It is a perfect pairing!  The best part, each bar is only 133 calories and has just 4.6 grams of fat.

Light Gluten-Free Cranberry Bars

Eating Well During the Holidays: Light Cranberry Bar Recipe
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
A lighter dessert option for the holiday season best paired with a cup of tea.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour
  • 1 cup gluten-free quick-cooking oats
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar $
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • Cooking spray
  • FILLING: 1⅓ cups dried cranberries (about 6 ounces) $
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. To prepare crust, weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through cinnamon) in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle butter and juice over flour mixture, stirring until moistened (mixture will be crumbly). Reserve ½ cup oat mixture. Press remaining oat mixture into the bottom of an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray using the bottom of a measuring cup to create a cohesive crust.
  3. To prepare filling, combine cranberries, sour cream, granulated sugar, and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well. Spread cranberry mixture over prepared crust; sprinkle reserved oat mixture evenly over filling.
  4. Bake at 325° for 40 minutes or until edges are golden. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

 

*This post is sponsored by Celestial Seasonings. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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