Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Custom Phone Case...

I recently noticed that my phone case was looking pretty rough. I had only been using it for a few months, but no matter how much scrubbing I did it just didn't look clean! I needed a new case, but was not happy about dropping another $20-$40 on one. Then I remembered that my brother-in-law had given me an extra case, which I had never used because it was too boring... there are too many fun options out there to stick with a plain white case! Motivated to save a little $$ I pulled out my Silhouette and within five minutes I had myself a Custom Phone Case!

I picked a cute design from the online silhouette store, making sure it had nice clean lines that would still look good when resized to fit my phone case. I also cut out an "L" with a pretty font. 

The vinyl was really easy to remove from the paper and stick to the phone case, I even had to shift it once and it lifted easily and reapplied well. 

I am super happy with the way it turned out! So far the decals are staying put, but even if they do begin to lift over time I figure I will just cut out something new!

Linking Up

Monday, October 28, 2013

DIY Firefighter Costume

The Leeper boys are ready for some Halloween fun! Normally this wouldn't happen until a few days before the big night, but we had some exciting Halloween events to attend this weekend, so I got on it early this year. A few weeks ago I shared some photos from previous years and wrote about how Andrew had decided to be a Firefighter this year. He wanted his little brother to be one as well, which I thought was a great idea. I love them in matching outfits and who knows when one of them will start to fight me on it!

I kept the costumes quite simple and very comfortable, as little ones often resist anything restrictive. I got the idea for the jackets from a wonderful tutorial that I came across on Pinterest. This method uses a woman's blouse, altered to create a small jacket and then adorned with ribbon for reflective strips. 

I found the perfect red cotton blouse for Andrew's jacket at the Good Will ($2.50) but wasn't able to find one small enough for Henry. Instead, I picked up an inexpensive red golf shirt ($5.97) at Walmart. I decided not to cut Henry's down the front which makes it a little more baby friendly. 

One detail that I added to this costume is the toggle buttons. I made these out of ribbon, leather cord and black wooden beads. I think they add a nice touch!

Andrew was also pretty insistent that he have a water sprayer on his back. To make this, I covered a juice jug with duct tape and attached some back pack style straps (also made from duct tape) and a piece of foam pipe insulation. I also made a little cone shaped nozzle for the end of the hose. 

We added a little plastic hat from our local fire station and the costume was complete! When all was said and done the costumes cost less than $10 a piece. The boys had fun showing them off at a bowling party this weekend.  Andrew was sure to tell everyone that "Mommy made it all by herself"... he must have known I was proud of the finished product! 

Linking Up

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Simple Knitting Patterns...

The chilly weather has come on quickly and mittens and scarves will be making an appearance very soon! Like every year, the cooler weather and approaching holiday season have me searching for knitting patterns on line and investigating yarn selections at Michaels. Even though I have been knitting since I was a kid, I would still consider myself a novice. I've made my fair share of scarves, a few baby blankets and my most complicated endeavour... some mittens. However, after looking at some simple knitting patterns on Pinterest I think I may actually be able to attempt something a little more difficult!

Here's a handful of what I have found so far. The patterns look quite simple and the projects are super adorable. Click on the link below each picture for the patterns.

Aren't these great? Let's see if I can actually finish one of them before it's warm again!
You can find much more on my new Pineterest board 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

{Organized} Yogurt Station ~ Honey We're Healthy

Greek yogurt, topped with fruit and nuts is a fabulous snack.  I just love the "flip cup" options you can buy at the grocery store, but their cost adds up, so I organized a Yogurt Station to help save some $$! Today I am sharing the details over at Honey We're Healthy! Megan's blogs, Honey We're Healthy and Honey We're Home, are absolutely inspiring and I am a big fan! I am just thrilled that she is sharing my work with her readers today! Be sure to hop on over and check it out!

If you have stopped by from Honey We're Healthy, welcome! I'd love for you to take a 
minute to look around and follow along by clicking on the links below!


Monday, October 21, 2013

How I convinced my 3 year old to love salad...

Getting enough veggies into my little man has always been a challenge. Andrew is almost 4 and seems to be getting pickier every day! Up until a few weeks ago he would eat cucumber, red peppers and carrots and could occasionally be bribed convinced to eat cooked broccoli and asparagus.  I know this is pretty common at his age, and was pretty happy that we had a few reliable veggie options. However, we were recently enjoying dinner with friends and I couldn't get over how quickly their little guy devoured his salad. My friend assured me that this was a new phenomena and gave me a few ideas for how to introduce salad to Andrew. I followed her advice and sure enough, within a couple of weeks Andrew was emptying his bowl and asking for more!

Here are her tips along with a few I found to be successful!

1. Introduce one new ingredient at a time - The first few times I made a salad for Andrew it was simply lettuce and red peppers. I made sure to hide some of the peppers under the lettuce so he would have to dig around to find them all.

2. Keep the dressing coming! - As adults we worry about using too much salad dressing, but for kids it may be necessary to entice them to try something new. Even if they are simply using a carrot to get the dressing into their mouths, if they eat that one carrot once the dressing is gone they have taken a step in the right direction. 

3. Ditch the fork - encourage your child to eat their salad with their fingers, it's much easier and fully exploring the new foods might be necessary before they pop it in their mouth.

4. Don't chop the veggies - kids lose interest fast and if their veggies are sliced, rather than chopped, they will hopefully take larger bites before they call it quits. 

5. Add some cheese - this is really a no brainer, cheese makes most things a bit tastier!

To get started, I presented Andrew with some salad a few times a week. At first he picked out what he liked, leaving the lettuce behind. I slowly added some other veggies and he didn't seem to mind that they were mixed together (previously a serious offence). After three or four days, I watched as he held a large piece of lettuce, licked off the dressing and then took a big bite (I didn't say a word but celebrated my small victory on the inside!). Now that he has become more comfortable with salads I have stopped adding the dressing and cheese. Some days he will request it, but more often than not he doesn't even notice that it's missing! 

Maybe I need to get out more, but right now watching this little man eat a whole 
salad gives me a huge sense of satisfaction! 

Linking Up!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A cozy learning nook...

Hello!! Today, I am excited to share with you one of the first (and only) decorating projects I have completed in our new home! It is a cozy little learning nook that incorporates a few simple DIY projects, some dollar store finds, and an ikea purchase or two!

Our new house has two floors with a pretty standard setup,  bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs, kitchen/dining and living room down. The staircase connecting the two levels is split, with a sizeable landing at the halfway point. There is a great built in bench or "niche" on this landing, that I was at a complete loss for how to decorate.  It is at the perfect height for little fingers, so a "no-go" for anything breakable or "toddler tempting". 

We had been here for a few weeks when the perfect purpose for this space came to me... a learning space for Andrew! We have the stairs gated at the top and the bottom which means Andrew can work away without being tormented by his eager little brother. 

I picked up an outdoor cushion that fits nicely at one end of the bench and added a couple of Ikea throw pillows to create a nice place to cuddle up with a book. I also used two Curtain Wires from Ikea to hang these adorable alphabet cards that I found over at The DIY Frau. The colours in these cards are wonderful, bright but muted, and I used them as a pallet for the rest of the space.

I hung a few little pails for Andrew's art supplies and made a simple art display out of clipboards and scrap booking paper (you can find the tutorial for this project here). 

When Andrew is working on some art or practising his writing, he kneels on the floor and uses the bench like a desk. He squirms around quite a bit when he is tying to focus on a learning activity, so this is a good alternative to a chair. 

I'm not sure if Andrew really appreciates how cute this space is, but that's ok, 
I can love it enough for both of us!!

Linking Up...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Apple picking...

Apple picking in the fall has always been one of our family's favourite traditions. I can remember loving this outing as a kid and it's even better as a Mom! Hayrides, corn mazes, petting zoos... what's not to love?!

This year, we travelled to a nearby orchard with some new friends and had a wonderful time. Rob's been quite busy at work, and wasn't able to join the fun, but he's been enjoying the apples we brought home!

Our little red wagon made the trip again, and Andrew had fun pulling Henry up and down the rows.

This little hay maze was the perfect size for Andrew... "peekaboo!"

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A fall colour hunt... {learning at home}

Even though the temperature here in Baltimore has just started to dip, the vibrant colours of fall have managed to creep through and take over our surroundings. Our walks have been full of new discoveries as the trees prepare for winter, dropping leaves and all sorts of interesting treasures in our path.

By coincidence, Andrew has recently started to notice the subtle differences between the shades of colours. He is no longer satisfied with the simple labels of Blue, Red or Orange and is looking for more descriptive ways to name the colours in his world. I decided to take this new learning interest as far as I could by focusing on all of the wonderful colours of fall. I had recently picked up a pack of cardstock with a variety of earth tones that was perfect for the activity I had in mind...

We simply cut out small circles, using six different colours, labeled each one and placed them in 
the bottom of a muffin tin.

We hit the trails and collected anything that caught our attention. As we sorted the items into our muffin tin we discussed the colours that we saw. We compared the items to each other and talked about which colours were the easiest to find and which were more difficult (the botanist in me is resisting the urge to conduct repeats of the sampling to make temp. vs. colour correlations!)

This was a great little learning activity! It was super simple and served as a springboard for some great learning opportunities! We focused on new colour vocabulary and the changing seasons, but counting and the life cycle of a plants would have been great too!

How have you been enjoying the beauty of fall with your family?

Looking for more fun ways to add some learning opportunities to everyday life? Check out my Pinterest board "Learning at Home". I have developed quite the collection!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Cookie Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Moving to a new country, without friends or family has been tough. We miss home and the comforts we associate with it. Certain food items are high on that list; our favourite brand of coffee, the local shwarma joint, Shreddies, Kraft peanut butter... I could go on for awhile. However, the pain has been eased by the discovery of some great things we wouldn't be able to indulge in North of the Border, namely Speculoos Cookie Butter from Trader Joe's. This sweet spread is absolutely incredible. We enjoy it on toast, waffles, pretzels, graham crackers, the end of a spoon, pretty much anything! Recently I used it as the base of a basic cream cheese frosting and the results were something to be celebrated!

Cookie Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8oz) package of cream cheese
1/2 cup of Cookie Butter
3 cups of powdered sugar
1 - 2 tbsp of milk

Cream together cream cheese and cookie butter. Slowly add powdered sugar until consistency is smooth. Add milk or additional powdered sugar to achieve desired consistency. 

Here, I have the frosting sandwiched between two Speculoos Cookies, the Trader Joe's product that inspired the spread. It was also pretty delicious on the white cupcakes we had at Henry's First Birthday Party. You can't really go wrong. So, make a double batch and hope for leftovers!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

It's costume time!!

Now that October has hit, Halloween has become a major point of discussion in our house. For the last few months (yes that's how much Andrew and I talk about costume options) our little man has been set on the Green Lantern. However, after a fun trip to our local Fire Station he has changed his mind and is now all about Fire Fighters!

He asked if Henry could be a "fireman on his team", which I think is adorable and probably pretty unlikely in future years, so two little firefighters is what we will have! 

I have always had a lot of fun with Halloween costumes. I like to put them together on my own and prefer to try and use things that we have on hand or inexpensive thrifted items. I try to make sure that the boys are comfortable, I remember a creation or two from my childhood that just didn't stand up to an evening of trick-or-treating (let's see if my biggest fan, aka my mom, will remember in the comments below).

Here are our costumes to date... Harry Potter is by far my biggest Halloween accomplishment. I am not sure if I will ever be able to top it!!

I mean really?? How incredible was that costume?? It consisted of one of my blouses, 
a scarf that I knit over the span of a few weeks, a felt tie and wand, 
a stuffed owl, and a bit of eyeliner. 

This was the year of the "Handy Manny" obsession. Easiest costume ever!

And here he is as Batman (or Batmandrew as we often call him). I'm sure this was not the 
last time the Dark Knight will make a Halloween appearance in the Leeper house!

Henry was about three months old on his first Halloween and the poor guy didn't even make it out of the house! However, it was still necessary to dress up for the occasion! We love our sushi!!

Has costume production begun in your house yet??