Author Archive | emily

bringing life into your home

My blog friend Melissa from The Inspired Room has a new book out that is just so great. It’s called Love The Home You Have.  I started reading and totally resonate with her thoughts: we may not feel like we’re in our forever home; we may be frustrated with our living situations or our not-perfect houses; we’re just waiting to make our house a home until the house is different, waiting to update until we can do the dream remodel, afraid to hang art on the walls because we don’t want to make nail holes, hesitant to paint the walls because we don’t know how long we’ll be here.

BUT, the truth is, home is right where we are and so we might as well embrace and delight in it.

Love-the-Home-You-Have-new-book-by-Melissa-Michaels-of-The-Inspired-Room

At the end of her book, Melissa has come up with a 31 day Love Your Home Challenge to help us gain perspective and gratitude for the home we do have. She suggests different activities each day to make our homes into a more organized, de-cluttered, pretty, personality filled places to live.

She has invited a handful of bloggers to kick things off and show a few ways we are learning to embrace our homes and delight in them.

I have written about this a few times before – this learning to love our home even with it’s imperfections, truly living in our home and allowing our pretty home to also be messy because that means we’re doing life here. We’ve put a lot of effort, time and money into making our builder-grade house better, and it is serving us well.

Of course I could say that the biggest way we’ve made our home a more enjoyable place to live is doing the big remodeling projects like redoing the kitchen or adding in hardwood floors or painting everything white (still loving the walls, by the way). And, yes, these things have made a big impact. We’ve invested in making our house more us and by doing so, feel more at home and excited to invite people in.

But seriously one of my favorite ways to make a big impact in a room for hardly any money is bringing in fresh flowers and greenery.

living room fireplace / jones design company

I know, such a trivial thing, but there is something about plants that brings life to your home.  They add a layer of color and texture and make a space feel more finished (ever notice that every room in a book or magazine has a plant or flowers in it?).

dahlias-on-coffee-table

I love having freshly cut bouquets of flowers around the house, but cut flowers don’t last long and it can get spendy buying flowers every few days (I love having a few hydrangea and peony plants in the backyard to cut from! Wish I was more of a flower gardener).

orchid

So rather than always putting my money towards cut flowers, I like adding in plants that last a bit longer. I’m not great at keeping things alive, so I go for easy-to-care for varieties like orchids (add a few ice cubes once per week to water). The petals will fall off and I know there’s a way to get it to bloom again, but I feel okay with replacing the plant every few months. Costco and trader joes sell them for about $15 and they last about two months.

Add potted herbs to your kitchen to bring life into your home / jones design company

I usually keep a few herbs near the kitchen window. The grocery store sells live basil (just pop it in a jar of water and pick off of it for dinners). Rosemary is very hardy and smells great. Even if you don’t use the herbs for cooking, they are super cheap and add a fresh feel to your kitchen.

a potted fern on a side table brings life, color and texture into a room / jones design company

Ferns are a long-time favorite of mine. You can find them at your local hardware store and sometimes in the floral department of your grocery store. Boston ferns are great (shown above) and last for several months (way longer if you stay on top of watering and pruning off the dead leaves). At less than $10, you can’t go wrong. I also love maiden hair ferns and find them at more specialty nurseries for under $5, but they are very temperamental and don’t last long in my house.

Add a plant to a thrift store soup tureen to bring life into your home / jones design company

Look for interesting varieties of tropical plants at your hardware store. Don’t forget to look up – some good ones are hanging, but you don’t need to keep them in hanging pots! This ficus (shown above) just needed a bit of trimming and when placed in a thrift-store soup tureen, it looks like it’s supposed to be overflowing.

how to make a linen ruffle wreath / jones design company

This plant is another tropical variety (sorry I don’t know the name!) and I just kept it in its pot and placed it in a glass trifle bowl to raise it up.

Moss in a concrete planter brings life into your home / jones design company

A tiny potted moss looks fresh in my current favorite concrete planter (from target!).

Fiddle leaf fig / jones design company

A fiddle leaf fig tree is a popular choice around the design world. I adore the big impressive trees – which can be hundreds of dollars and need a nice bright spot to thrive – but I’ve had a bit of luck with this cheapy one from IKEA. I almost threw it away when all of the leaves fell off, but then moved it into my office in front of the window and miraculously new leaves have grown!

A simple pot of succulents adds life to your home / jones design company

And then, of course, there are the lovely succulents that are having a moment right now.

Putting fresh greenery around the house keeps things bright and alive – especially in my mostly neutral home.  For little investment and minimal upkeep (just don’t forget to water!) you can breathe new life into your home. You’ll be amazed at the difference just a few plants make.

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Maybe you’d like to take the Love Your Home Challenge? If so, you can find all sorts of prompts in the back of the new book and you can share your discoveries at HomeLoveStories.com or on instagram with #loveyourhomechallenge.

For more inspiration, click over to The Inspired Room to see how the other ladies are learning to love their homes!

Do you have a favorite house plant?

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useful + fun right to your mailbox

april-calendar

Each month, Paper Works comes to your mailbox (either the one outside your house or the one on your computer) and it’s like a special surprise gift full of all sorts of useful + pretty paper goods.

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The newest set is full of peppy spring-time delight.

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Included in the bundle are calendars, day planners, meal-planning + shopping lists:

shopping-list

and sweet little note cards to inspire real-handwritten-note-sending:

notecards

We also have desktop/ipad/phone wallpapers to choose from each month:

iphone-ipad-april-wallpapers

And a simple project diy with templates:

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For a complete list and all the details for how you can get paper works in your mailbox (you will love it!)

>> CLICK HERE <<

Because it’s so cute and springy, I’m giving away a printed bundle to one lucky-duck lady! april-giveaway Click the image to enter

OR

Click here to give yourself a gift each month by signing up for Paper Works today!

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Are you already a member? If so, your April goodies are waiting for you in your account! Log in here and click on SUBSCRIPTIONS to grab the files.

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how to make a linen ruffle wreath

how to make a linen ruffle wreath / jones design company
One of the early projects shared on Jones Design Company was this linen ruffle wreath. The original tutorial had a sweet nest with glittered eggs and petite fabric flowers (see the full spring wreath tutorial here), but after a while I grew tired of the embellishments and took them off. What’s left is this classic ruffled linen wreath that adds a layer of neutral texture to the wall or door or wherever it hangs.

how to make a linen ruffle wreath / jones design company
I borrowed the images from the original post to show you the how to make a linen ruffle wreath perfect for decorating your front door or wall this spring.

SUPPLIES: foam wreath / linen (12″ x 72″) / scissors / sewing machine / hot glue gun

STEP ONE: cut strips of linen (2.5″ x 72″)

stack-and-cut-linen
tip: fold your fabric to make cutting strips easier

STEP TWO: wrap one strip of linen around wreath

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hot glue to hold. glue-linen-to-wreath

STEP THREE: prepare ruffles stitch-ruffle
First, with right sides together, stitch two strips together end to end to make one long piece.

Next, with your sewing machine set to the longest stitch, sew alongside one edge (about 1/8″ in).

STEP FOUR: make ruffle pull-thread-to-ruffle
gently pull one thread to gather the fabric.

STEP FIVE: wrap wreath with ruffle wrap-ruffle
run a small bead of hot glue along first edge to hold in place, then wrap and glue to hold.

STEP SIX: finish finish-ruffle
Trim the end of the ruffle and glue cut edge to hold.

Such a simple and inexpensive project (my favorite criteria!) that gives a fun look for spring.

how to make a linen ruffle wreath / jones design company
And, of course, if you are wanting to embellish even more, go ahead an add some fabric flowers, moss, a nest and glittered eggs!

embellished-spring-wreath

(find the original spring wreath tutorial here)

Happy Spring!

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how to do your hair in a messy side bun

A video tutorial showing how to do your hair in a messy side bun / jones design company

Friends, I’m having a proud moment today.

First of all, I got my act together and am finally showing you how I do my favorite go-to-when-I-don’t-feel-like-doing-my-hair-do. I call it a messy side bun. You asked for a tutorial weeks ago and it’s been on my list of to-do’s so I’m happy to share.

Second, I made a video. I mean, I recorded it, yes. But then I figured a few things out and actually edited it, added animations and music, too. It took me about 3 hours to finish the 3 minute video, and it’s not perfect, but hey, I’m a beginner.

(If you’re curious, I use a program called Camtasia. It’s what I use to record screen-capture videos for the graphic design class and presentations for the blog class. It’s very intuitive and fairly easy to figure out – even for those of us with very little video-editing experience).

Anyway, I think it turned out cute and can’t wait to show you. So here you go: how to do your hair in a messy side bun.

Products used: Biosilk Silk Therapy / Redkin Volumizing Powder (I actually used a different brand in the video, but I like the redkin one better)

I hope this helps on those days when you just don’t feel like doing your hair!

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Springtime Succulents (planted in an unexpected way)

Try this unexpected springtime arrangement: plant a succulent in an eggshell / jones design company
Succulents are having a moment right now, and rightfully so. They are uniquely interesting, drought tolerant and rather inexpensive – a great combo if you ask me. When in Austin, Texas last month, we ate at this darling restaurant/flower shop and right away I was taken by the display of pretty succulents in brown paper. I wanted to try a similar arrangement at home, so I dropped by my local home depot and grabbed a bunch of little plants.

succulents Once home, I changed my mind. The brown paper – as cool as it looks – probably isn’t very practical for watering and I wasn’t sure how to get around that issue.

Then one day, I had this weird idea: plant the springtime succulents in eggshells! I know, strange. But I’ve seen wheatgrass grown in shells for spring and thought maybe my cute plants would be a fun twist on that idea.

planted-succulents The process is a bit self-explanatory, but I took photos as we planted with a few tips. I did this one with my No.2 and it was a great Sunday afternoon let’s-get-our-hands-just-a-little-bit-dirty activity to do with him.

HERE’S WHAT YOU’ll NEED: planting-succulents-in-eggs-supplies cracked eggs, washed out and dry / small pebbles / needle / small succulents

STEP ONE: poke hole in bottom of egg

poke-hole-in-egg-with-needle I just used a regular needle, but I remember doing this with my mom to blow eggs and we used a large upholstery needle. Whatever you have on hand will be fine. If you’re using a small needle, wiggle it around to open up the hole a little bit. Beware: the eggshells are thick at the bottom and so you may wreck a few while poking the holes. I suppose you don’t even have to do this step, I’m just assuming it’s a good idea for drainage. Up to you.

STEP TWO: add small pebbles to the bottom of egg

put-small-pebbles-in-bottom-of-egg This will help with draining (in theory).

STEP THREE: pull apart succulents

planting-succulents-in-egg The little plants usually come in groups of three or so in each small pot. Just gently pull them apart, keeping roots intact.

STEP FOUR: place plant in shell + fill in with soil

planting-with-kids succulent-in-egg And that’s it!

succulent-up-close

succulents-in-egg-carton It was fun to try out all the different shapes and textures of plants.

succulents-in-egg-carton2 I kept the original egg carton to display them in (I just lightly water the whole thing in the kitchen sink and the egg carton does fine), and also put a few in a ceramic egg carton (from Anthropologie). succulents-in-eggdish succulents-in-eggs-close

Cute, yes? And maybe a little odd. But I’m okay with that.

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Succulents are supposedly very low-maintenance, but I have a way with killing most plants that I bring into our home. I did a little research and here’s what I found to help us keep these beauties happy:

TIPS FOR KEEPING SUCCULENTS ALIVE INDOORS

1. Keep in sunny places – they are a desert plant and thrive in sun and dry climates.

2. Let them dry out completely before watering.

3. Bright green plants are easier to keep alive – steer clear of the purple, grays and oranges if you’re looking for indoor success.

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Baby Essentials / favorites for your little one

Baby Essentials: a list of favorite baby gear, nursery items and accessories / jones design company

We’re going to have a new baby in the family this summer.  Don’t worry – she’s not ours. Ryan’s brother and sister-in-law are having their first and we can hardly wait! My Jones side is already overflowing with kiddos (12 kids ages 11 and under), but this will be the first new baby on the other side of the family besides our kids.

It will also be the first time I can be an auntie to a new baby without having a baby of my own! I’m so looking forward to holding and spoiling her and watching our kids fall in love with their baby cousin.

Since this is the first baby for my sister-in-law, she is brand new at all of this. The other day she sent me the most darling text that went something like this:

“I had a slight panic attack in Target when we went to register. There is just so much stuff!! We got through an aisle and a half before I freaked out. The breast pumps were what did me in. Any suggestions for what we’ll actually want/need?”

First, I laughed. Because it is quite overwhelming – especially when you’re new to the whole baby thing. And then next, I replied with an equally overwhelming long list of what she’ll want/not want. Apparently I have some opinions on baby paraphernalia.

Even though I’ve been out of this baby game for 5 years, I did do it four times and have a pretty good idea of what was totally necessary, what products I loved and what items were a waste when it came to setting up a nursery.

Since we’re in that springtime season of baby showers, I thought it might be helpful to share that list with all of you as well.

(Keep in mind that I’m 5 years removed from the baby trends. It seems like all sorts of ingenious and adorable products have been introduced since I had Audrey, so feel free to chime in at the end to let us know what fantastic and essential items you would add to my list.)

So, here it is – my list for my soon-to-be first time mama sister-in-law:

BABY ESSENTIALS: the best gear for your baby / jones design company

 

1. Infant Carseat

The key to choosing an infant carseat is making sure it is comfortable to hold between the crook of your elbow while juggling 18 other things. This one from Britax is a favorite.  You’ll probably want a stroller you can clip the carseat into, so whichever carseat you select, be sure to grab the coordinating travel system.

2. Bouncy Seat

I know you’ll want to hold your baby all the time, but soon enough you’ll find you just need to set her down for a few minutes (or hour) and a bouncy seat that vibrates is key. I wish they would not put such baby-ish designs on these things, but one like this isn’t too offensive and will work like a dream.

3. Portable Crib

There are so many different ones to choose from. I just like how simple to use and easy-on-the-eyes this one from 4moms is.

4. Booster Seat

This one is totally up to you, but we never bought a real high chair. We used this booster seat for all 4 kids (just buckled it onto a chair). It is easy to bring with you when you visit friends for dinner and can be scrubbed down without much effort.

5. Bumbo Seat

Once the little darling is old enough to sit up, the bouncy seat will lose it’s magic and in will come the bumbo seat. It allows the baby to sit up with support and watch what’s going on. Just don’t leave the baby sitting in it on the counter. That freaks me out.

6. Umbrella Stroller

A light-weight, easy-to-fold stroller like this Maclaren version is essential once the baby grows out of the carseat carrier. Just beware that hanging a heavy diaper bag on the handles causes it to tip backward. Not that I have any experience with this or anything.

7. Moses Basket

When the baby is a newborn, she’ll sleep all the time. I loved having a small moses basket nearby to let the baby nap. We also used this for the first month or so in our room before we moved the babies to their own cribs.

8. Baby Bjorn Carrier

A great hands-free option for holding the baby: the classic Baby Bjorn. You could also go with a wrap (like this one) which I like for newborns.

BABY ESSENTIALS: favorites for setting up your nursery / jones design company

1. Changing Pad

This curved changing pad is great for adding to the top of a dresser instead of purchasing a changing table.

2. Changing Pad Cover

Just add a simple terry cloth changing pad cover to the pad (or go with a patterned or colored one – there are so many designs to choose from). You’ll probably want at least two covers, so you can switch them out and wash regularly.

3. Waterproof Changing Pad Liners

To save on washing the entire changing pad, these waterproof liners are great for layering over-top to catch any leaks (of which there will be plenty).

4. Swaddling Blanket

You’ll become an expert in wrapping your baby up like a burrito, and these extra-large swaddling blankets from Swaddle Designs are my favorite.  They come in many different stylish patterns and are super soft. Or, if you want a lighter option (especially great for warmer climates), these muslin swaddles are great too.

5. Stroller Blanket

My babies each had a special blanket (actually, they all still sleep with theirs still) and these fluffy ones from Little Giraffe are the best. You really can never have too many blankets – great for snuggling up in the stroller for morning walks – and there are endless options. This classic white knit blanket is sweet, and this pom pom version is super cute too.

6. Swaddle Sleep Sack

When your baby starts breaking out of a regular blanket swaddle, these sleep sacks make it so easy to give them that comforting swaddle feel and extra warmth of a blanket. It’s a little bit like a straight jacket, but just try to see past that part.

7. Baby Monitor

Go with your gut on this one, but my recommendation is to skip the video monitor and stick with just the sound monitor version. Honestly, we hardly even used ours. There is a mother’s instinct that just knows when a baby is about to wake up, so rarely was I surprised to hear the baby. Also, babies make strange noises when they sleep and I never felt the need to hear all of them while I tried to get a few hours of rest. It’s up to you, though. I know everyone has different opinions on this one.

8. Sound Machine

The womb is a noisy place, so a little white noise makes it easier for a baby to sleep. And if your household is noisy, a sound machine will cover up those noises to prevent premature wake-ups.

BABY ESSENTIALS: accessories for your little one

 

1. Sophie the Giraffe

This classic teething toy is just plain cute. See it in action (and a really sweet photo sequence of my baby girl) here.

2. Trumpette Socks

My aunt bought a set of trumpette socks for my first son before he was born and I became an instant fan. They are socks that stay on babies’ little feet and have the cutest designs. The Mary Janes are my favorite.

3. Burp Cloths

Such an essential item for little ones who spit up (mine were the worst). I love these soft, simple organic burp cloths, or you could make a bunch of your own with terrycloth and cotton (tutorial here).

4. Petit Bateau Crossover Bodysuit

These sweet onesies are a splurge for sure, but well worth it. These soft shirts can be worn on their own during the early days of snuggling the newborn, or worn under clothes for an extra layer. The crossover style makes changing baby much easier without having to pull a shirt over her head. And once you feel the quality of material, there’s no going back.

5. Pilot Cap

Hats are a good idea for babies, and these organic cotton pilot caps from Hanna Andersson are not only adorable, but also practical. The chin ties keep the hat on and ear flaps keep tiny ears warm.  Start with a lightweight one for warmer months and switch to a thicker winter version when the weather turns chilly.

6. Board Books

One can never have too many books. Good, solid board books are great for baby. These are our family’s favorites of all: Tumble Bumble, Peepo, Going on a Bear Hunt, Sheep in a Jeep. For more books for baby, check out this post.

7. Diaper Bag

You’ll want a good diaper bag. It doesn’t have to be huge with tons of pockets or even one from Petunia Pickle Bottom (although they make great bags!), just roomy enough to hold an extra change of clothes, diapering items, snacks, toys, your wallet, phone and lipstick and random things like socks and hats and bottles and binkies and sunscreen and hand sanitizer. Actually, I take that back. You will want something huge.

8. Plush Bunny

While pregnant with No.1, I vowed that we would not be a stuffed animal family. I’m not sure why, exactly, other than that there are a lot of weird looking stuffed animals that I did not want cluttering up the nursery. And then my mom gave me our first JellyCat stuffed bunny and my mind was changed. These are darling plush toys that the kids love and so I’ve given in. And (of course) my kids turned out to be total stuffed animal fans.

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So there it is. My list of baby essentials.

I’d love to know … what’s on your list of nursery necessities?

(top photo credit: rareandbeautifultreasures.com)

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free spring art print

There is still a week or two before the official first day of spring, but don’t you just feel ready?!

spring-essentials-free-art-print

We’ve had some uncharacteristically sunny, warm days in the Pacific Northwest and it’s been lovely. We’ve played outside and opened the windows and bought my first bunch of springtime tulips.

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Last year I watercolored an assortment of the things that remind me of spring: pastels, fresh greens, pretty dresses and ballet flats. Then I scanned the painting, added text and turned it into a printable pdf file that you can download and print at home to put you in the springtime mood.  Just print on your favorite paper (see my favorite sources here) and display in your entry or bedroom or office or any place you need a little colorful pick-me-up.

free-art-print-download-spring-essentials
To grab your free spring art print, click below for instant access to our freebie files we call The Archive.

freebies-
Happy Spring!
like-this

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quick announcement + a favor

We’re very close to finishing our long-awaited Blog Class!

the-blog-class-computer

Registration will open in just a few weeks for the first time in two years. This class walks you through the step-by-step plan needed to build a successful blog (and by successful we mean your definition of success – no one elses’!).

It will include 7 sections with over 75 high quality video tutorials that take the guesswork out of starting (or pressing on) and growing a blog. We’ll also include tech support, a super cute graphics pack to jump start your branding, a premium wordpress theme and tips and tools to help you build your best blog.

Sounds great, yes?!

We’re really excited to come along side of you and share our story – our mess-ups and lessons learned and resources we’ve discovered over these past 5 years of growing Jones Design Company to not only be a creative outlet, but also our main source of income – so we can inspire and encourage you on your blogging journey.

BUT, we need your help!

Before we add the final touches and open registration, we need to make sure we’ve covered everything. So I have a favor to ask … we’d love to hear from you.

What are your biggest blogging hangups, areas you don’t understand, what’s holding you back or topics you’d love to learn more about? Your thoughts are so valued as we work to make this class the best possible solution for your blogging needs.

Can you take a second to share?

Thank you, my friends!

(exact details about The Blog Class are coming! To join our early-bird list, head over here to sign up)

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how to keep cut hydrangeas from wilting

how-to-keep-cut-hydrangeas-from-wilting

I learned the best secret for keeping hydrangeas from wilting and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Ryan brought me home these gorgeous white hydrangeas a few weeks ago. I would have been thrilled with roses or tulips or whatever flower he presented, but I love that he chose hydrangeas. They are my favorite.

hydrangeas-and-berries

The problem is, they never last long. After a day or so of being cut, the blooms begin to wilt. About three days later, they are completely done.

white-hydrangeas

But guess what I just learned (from an instagram conversation)? Hydrangeas take in water from their PETALS! I had no idea.

purple-hydrangeas

So here’s how to keep cut hydrangeas from wilting:

1. Cut stems at an angle

2. Put cut stems in water right away

3. Once per day, gently mist petals (I use a spray bottle like this but have been eying a pretty one like this)

4. If the blooms start to wilt, shock them back by dunking the whole flower head in warm water for a few minutes

The bouquet of white hydrangeas Ryan brought home lasted for just over two weeks when watered this way. For real. This new way of watering the flowers has changed my hydrangea-loving life.

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DIY watercolor wood blocks

wood-blocks

Need a super simple project to do with the kids? This watercolor wood block project is perfect.

It’s also great for an unexpected baby gift or fun party decorations for a birthday party or baby shower or thrown in a bowl for chic accessory on your coffee table. Multi-use diy’s that are inexpensive and simple to execute are my favorite.

Here’s how to make these watercolor wood blocks:

wood-blocks-supplies-and-steps diy-wood-blocks-instructions

When you’re done coloring, you will have so much fun playing with the blocks – arranging by color, stacking and sorting. This one might look like it’s for the kids, but believe me, these blocks are for grown ups too.

wood-blocks-in-bowl

They really do look pretty in a bowl (and make for an interactive coffee table accessory!).

Or of course, use them for actual play things.

diy-watercolor-wood-blocks

Keep in mind that if you are using these for babies, make sure you seal in the color with a spray sealant (or several layers of mod podge).

Just for fun, I created this color-mixing chart. It’s fun to try out different combinations of liquid watercolors to get as many pretty hues as you like.

watercolor-guide

SOURCES:

wood blocks small medium large / liquid watercolor / mod podge

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If I were to redo our bathroom, it would look like this

master-bathroom-inspiration

We have no plan to redo our bathroom any time soon, but now that the rest of our main floor is looking all fancy with the new floors and white walls, I’m just itching to inject a little style into our master bathroom. And by inject a little style what I really mean is pretty much change everything.

Let me show you it’s current circa 2006 state:

bathroom-vanity-from-room

When you walk in from our bedroom, there are two sinks on the right, a toilet room in that little area next to the wall, a tub and shower opposite and then our closet at the back.

bathroom-areas

Here’s the thing about our bathroom: it works. It’s clean. It functions just fine. But it’s just so blah.

So just like we’ve done with the rest of our house, I just want to inject a little personality into an otherwise builder-basic room.

bathroom-vanity

Again, let me reiterate that there are no real plans to do the room, but in my imagination where my creativity just needs to do it’s thing, this is what I’m thinking:

bathinspiration

I love the idea of making the vanity area more of a focal point, of tiling the walls all the way up with classic subway tile, adding tile to the floors and replacing the tub with a freestanding version. The colors, of course, would stay in the white, black, warm brown, mixed metals, neutral family – light and bright, clean and classic.

tub colors

And just for fun, here’s a more detailed design board:

master-bath-inspiration-board

Can’t you just see the vision?!!!

A girl can dream.

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5 beauty picks under $15

beauty-picks

Looking for a few inexpensive beauty products to add to your routine?

I am working on upping my beauty game – less in a vanity way and more in a hey, you’ve been in the intense caring for babies phase of motherhood for 10 years and it’s time to take a few moments on yourself now way.  I started with the bigger things like making doctor appointments and getting my haircut, and now I’m slowing adding a few new products to update my beauty routine.

Probably like you, I value quality, but don’t spend a ton of money on beauty products. Back in the day before kiddos, I frequented the Nordstrom makeup ladies. Nowadays, I either grab a few things while running through Target or order on Amazon (thank you free prime shipping). So each of these 5 beauty picks are easy to find, affordable and tested by yours truly.

ONE / Boots No7 Perfectly Bronzed Pearls
give your skin a springtime glow with this subtle bronzing powder

TWO / Esse Tuck Me In Your Tux nail polish
clean, neutral nails are classic and my go-to

THREE / Biosilk Silk Serum
for shiny, silky hair (especially great for adding vibrancy back to your hair after winter)

FOUR / Maybelline Baby Lips Balm in Peach Kiss
swipe on this lip balm for fresh peachy color + moisturizer

FIVE / Rusk Wired Flexible Styling Creme
give flexible body and texture to your hair before or after styling

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Have you added any products to your beauty routine that you’ve loved? Please share!

(image inspiration from Angie at ACreativeBuzz.com)

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useful + pretty right to your mailbox

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Each month, Paper Works comes to your mailbox (either the one outside your house or the one on your computer) and it’s like a special surprise gift full of all sorts of useful + pretty paper goods.

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I’m just going to go out on a limb and say that this new collection for March is some of the loveliest designs yet.

Included in the bundle are calendars + daily planners:

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meal-planning + shopping lists:

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and sweet little note cards to inspire real-handwritten-note-sending:

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That art print up top also comes with the set as well as these four scripture memory cards:

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For a complete list and all the details for how you can get paper works in your mailbox (you will love it!)

>> CLICK HERE <<

And just because I love this set so much, I’m giving away a printed bundle to one lucky-duck lady!

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Click the image to enter!

OR

Click here to give yourself a gift each month by signing up for Paper Works today!

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when you don’t know what your thing is

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It’s a message I keep getting over and over and over:

Be who you were created to be.

Stop comparing yourself to others.

Walk confidently in the gifts God has given you.

Shine your light.

Twirl.

At If:gathering a few weeks ago (it was so, so amazing. Truly one of the best weekends of friendship, great food, deep conversations and God whispering to each one of us), I left feeling affirmed to carry on and just do my thing.

I came home ready and motivated and even doodled this saying as a reminder.

And then I had a moment of crisis: What exactly IS my thing?

Maybe you can relate. Maybe you’ve taken positive steps in overcoming comparison, have learned to accept yourself, ready to step into the great roles the Lord has for you … but you just have no idea what that looks like. You don’t know what your passion or gifting or talents – your thing – is.

I get you, darling.

I’m there too.

I spent some time brainstorming, reading articles about ‘how to find your calling’, reflected on times I’ve felt most alive and I’m slowing figuring out who I am and what I love. Just a few glimmers of awareness feels really great and hopeful and reassuring.

So if you see the photo above and feel excited to embrace your passions/talents/calling

or

you see the photo and wonder if you even have any passions/talents/calling

BE ENCOURAGED TODAY.

You have a purpose, great value, a unique ability and through intentionally reflecting, dreaming, talking with people who know and love you best, it will be made clear to you.

I truly believe that.

And maybe the best part of all, is that your thing looks different than mine and there is no need to feel intimidated or inadequate or puffed up when we look at each other. We get to live out our unique talents, seeing the beauty within each of us and sharing them with one another.

And so, my friends, let’s continue on this journey of doing our thing.

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a special day at the american girl doll store

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Audrey turned 5 last week. Every parent throughout history has asked the same question when their baby turns a year older: how did that go so fast? And you can add me into that group. She is our baby and the fact that she just turned five only reiterates the fact that she’s no longer a baby.

I will say that I love the ages of our kids right now (11, 9, 7, 5). They are independent, but not pushing too many limits, able to buckle themselves in the car and generally fun to be around.  We’re sitting in a sweet spot and doing our best to enjoy these days.

Okay, but that’s not what I was going to talk about today.

For Audrey’s birthday, we went shopping for her first American Girl doll. We’ve waited until she was old enough to care for a special doll and a little more interested. A few of her friends have these dolls and her cousins are crazy for all things American Girl, so she was ready and excited to pick out her special birthday gift.

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Did you know you can reserve a personal shopper to show you around and help you pick a doll? It was the best thing ever.  My mom and cutie niece Hadley (who is only 2 months younger than Audrey, but so much tinier!) met us at the American Girl Doll store and we took about an hour shopping around. Our sweet personal shopper, Briana, walked us from doll to doll giving little snippets about each of them and helped Audrey pick out her top three.

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Once she had her top three dolls chosen, they were set out and Briana helped her make her final decision (with just a little bit of input from my mom who was really hoping she would choose a certain one). It was so much easier having someone guide the decisions and be quick with the process.

And her final decision was: Grace! The girl of the year.

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Grace likes baking and has a cute puppy named BonBon and Audrey was sold.

I really love the way the company shows different girls, their histories and stories. Plus, the clothes and accessories are so fun.

After Grace joined our family, we had a little lunch at the American Girl Doll bistro.

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The food was less than fabulous, but the experience was sweet and the girls loved having a birthday luncheon with their dolls.

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I adore having boys, but it sure was fun having a special day with our girl.

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And also? The American Girl Doll store bathroom tile is really cute.

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