Director Jewels: October 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Guess Who Noah's Boat by Matt Mitter {Children's Book Review}

Disclosure: I received a sample copy of this book to review. No other compensation was received and all views expressed are my own. 

My kids are obsessed with interactive books. Like, way obsessed. If it has flaps, makes noise, or anything along those lines, they're guaranteed to like it. Of course, when we check said books out from the library, we tend to end up with a hefty library bill courtesy of toddler hands...but I digress.

The latest addition to our interactive book collection has been a huge hit, so I'm really excited to share it with all of you. Guess Who Noah's Boat, written by Matt Mitter and illustrated by Ela Jarzabek, is the sweetest book that is perfect for the toddler and preschool ages of my kids.


This book provides a good introduction to the story of Noah's Ark. Filled with rhyming text and adorable pictures, the book gives us a very quick peek at what life may have looked like aboard the ark. Each page includes a lift-the-flap feature that holds the answer to the "Guess who, Noah!" question in the story text.


While all of the creatures of the animal kingdom are not included in this book, there is a good variety - lions, tigers, sheep, rabbits, giraffes, ostriches, butterflies, frogs, mice, hippos, monkeys, chickens, horses, bears, turtles and many more. Each page occupies my almost two-year-old daughter for several minutes because she is determined to name each and every animal species.

Ela Jarzabek's vibrant illustrations are friendly and inviting, while the text is easy to read and is printed largely enough for a beginning reader's ease. Overall, we have really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading it many more times!

Thank you to Kregel Publications for providing my review sample!  I received no other compensation and all views expressed are my own.  For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Currently // October 27, 2014


So, Monday is already almost over and it frightens me a little bit that I already feel super behind on this week's projects. Here's hoping for an early bedtime and much productivity tonight! 

Thinking // 
...that it's ridiculous that my babies will soon be two and four years old. Make it stop.

...about what we're having for dinner tonight. It was supposed to be BBQ Chicken, but I forgot to put it in the crock pot earlier in the day. So, now I'm not sure what to do.

Pumpkin Patch adventuring this weekend - it was SO HOT! They were super sweaty.

Dreaming // 
...about Christmas and vacations and other things that are going to be delightful and simultaneously hard on our finances.

Organizing // 
...the whole house. Still. Yesterday, I cleaned off my kitchen table. I honestly can't remember the last time it was not piled high with all sorts of random nonsense, so it's a really big accomplishment. 

...all of the lovely products arriving for my Holiday Gift Guide! Wait until you guys see all the cool stuff I get to feature in this year's guide. I'm excited...my kids are excited...I think you will be, too.

We had sprouted crust pizza twice last week and it was yummy.
Maybe this will be dinner tonight?

Laughing At // 
...the number of babies Addie tries to snuggle with while nursing to sleep (photo below). She doesn't care if she has them in bed or not, but she tries to balance everything on my lap with her.

...some of the things Lincoln says lately. I'm trying so hard to write them all down, but there was something yesterday that I have already totally forgotten. It cracked me up for ages, whatever it was.

All the babies.

Reading // 
...mostly just books with the kids because there is not a whole lot of time right now for me to fit in reading books or blogs or anything. We're loving a lot of Berenstain Bears and Clifford and Little Critter books these days.
This post feels random, but hey - it's done. How's your Monday going? Linking up with Hannah for Currently.

Easy Unique 1st Birthday Smash Cake Tutorial

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting my blog and my family! 

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake!

I have a secret. I am not very good at baking. I can put together a mean party theme - Mickey Mouse Clubhouse toddler birthday party? I'm all over it. FIretruck party complete with Easy Fire Fighter DIY Party Game? No problem. But I tend to call in reinforcements when it comes to creating an amazing owl cake or a Nintendo question block cake (Stephanie, you rock).

When I set out to make the food for Addie's party when she turned one, I knew I wanted an owl for her main cake, but I didn't know what to do about her smash cake. I was struck with inspiration while we were working on the owl and matching cupcakes and thanks to the awesome supply stash my baking friend brought over, we had almost everything I needed to make the cutest little easy first birthday smash cake.

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake!
Baking assistant.

Multicolored Smash Cake - Supplies Needed
-6" Cake Pan
-Boxed Cake Mix of choice (yeah - I used boxed cake) and the ingredients listed on the box
-A simple frosting recipe (I used this one)
-Gel Food Coloring (I used 4 colors - you can use as many or as few as you want)
-Cake Decorating Bags
-Decorating Tips #21 (I had 4 of these) and #32 (I had 2 of these)
-A fair amount of patience

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake!

Follow the instructions on your boxed cake mix to bake the cake. Don't forget to add water. Not that I know from experience or anything, but it won't turn out very well without some sort of liquid. You'll have enough batter left over to make another small cake or some cupcakes or something, so plan for that!




Once your cake is done and has cooled, whip up your frosting and apply a thin layer to the whole cake. Then stick it in the fridge so the frosting can harden a little before you start adding color.

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake!

Next, split your frosting into bowls for each separate color and add your coloring. You can use regular food coloring if you like, but I had better success with gel colors - they offer a much easier way to get the shade you're looking for without painstaking hours of mixing colors.

Disclaimer written long after this post was originally published: in the last year, I've completely banned food coloring from my house. I have no idea what I'm going to do for the next round of birthdays, because this is SO STINKING EASY. I no longer advocate actually using food coloring, however, I do have endless good things to say about how easy it is. I'm hoping to find a more natural alternative! Tips, anyone?

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake!

Next you'll need to get your cake decorating bags all set up with the #21 icing tips (here's a good youtube video on how to do this). Then, it's time to get your wrists ready for lots of squeezing.

I started with one flower of each color and alternated after that, trying to even out the colors as much as possible. There was no real rhyme or reason to my method other than trying not to let the same color touch.

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake!

This part takes a long time, but when it looks so cute, it's worth it, right?

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake!

Once you get the top of the cake and most of the sides covered, take a break and set up another decorating bag or two with the "32" frosting tips, then go ahead and do the lower edge. I did mine in two different colors, but you could use just one or all four, depending on how many tips you have at your disposal.

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake!

Ta-da! There you have it: one perfect smash cake for a perfect party.

I put my cake back in the fridge after it was done, but here's a tip: make sure you pull it out a good hour before the baby will be smashing it. Because if you don't, there won't be a whole lot of smashing - more just pounding and picking at it. Which is still cute, but not quite the same thing.

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake! Owl Birthday Party.

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake!

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake!

You can see more photos from Addie's Owl First Birthday Party here.

Easy, Unique First Birthday Smash Cake DIY Tutorial for the mom who doesn't make cake! Owl Birthday Party.

Hope you enjoyed this cake tutorial from a mom who really has NO idea about how to make cake. Let me know how yours turns out!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

43/52



"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."
 
This week's adventurous photos brought to you by our trip to
Shuck's Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch.
Lincoln - taken right before he yelled "HEY! A little bit help here!"
Addie - princess of the corn crib.
 
Linking up at Practising Simplicity

Friday, October 24, 2014

How Do You Make Time for Mom?

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Global Influence. All opinions expressed are my own.


I think moms deserve a spa trip at least once a month. Can I get an amen? I know that I feel blessed to be the primary caregivers of my adorable kids, but those adorable kids tend to leave me with less than enough sleep and food or snot or some other bodily fluid in my hair at all times. Unfortunately, for most of us, a trip to the spa is an occasion that definitely does not happen more than "every now and then." I think the last time I had a professional pedicure was when I was pregnant with Lincoln.

Since we can't all get professionally pampered constantly, I think it's so important to find a few minutes here and there that are just for mom. It's a necessity for those of us who are in the trenches of motherhood with very young kids at home. I hear stories from moms who say they haven't showered in several days. I'm not going to lie to you: I shower every single day, because I cannot function otherwise. I cannot. By the time I get out of the shower, someone is often screaming over a stolen toy, so I have to jump right back into "mom mode" - but that ten minutes alone is a highlight of my day. Very often, it's the only ten minutes I worry about myself in the entire day.

I may not have time to style my hair or put on makeup every morning, but at least I can start the day with my hair feeling clean. Even if I'm just throwing it up into a ponytail or a messy bun, knowing that I'm starting fresh keeps me just a little bit more sane.

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Suave want to encourage families to live better every day by offering products for the whole family at a great value at Walmart. Check out the Suave Hub for beauty tips that fit into your life - from a trip in the park to an escape in paradise. You can even sign up for Suave Family Perks and submit your receipts to accrue points and redeem for Walmart gift cards. How cool is that?!

How do you find time to make time for you in the midst of all the craziness that comes with helping little ones learn and grow?

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Global Influence, but all opinions are my own. For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Easy Kid Craft: Autumn Falling Leaves Tree

Director Jewels: Easy DIY Kid Craft Tutorial: Autumn Falling Leaves Tree with Pom Poms and Pipe Cleaners

Before I was a mom, I assumed that my life with children would be a constant craft fest - glue and glitter everywhere, with a healthy collection of paints and markers at the ready for any given idea. Okay, so I have all the supplies. But crafting with toddlers is a little more trying than my pre-kid self anticipated. A lot of my grand ideas are on hold for a couple more years - until everyone decides that eating the supplies is unnecessary. But when I do take the time to create a simplified craft, I'm always amazed at how much fun we have making it! Thus, I bring you the Toddler Approved Easy Autumn Falling Leaves Tree Craft.

Director Jewels: Easy DIY Kid Craft Tutorial: Autumn Falling Leaves Tree with Pom Poms and Pipe Cleaners

This little project requires very few supplies - and that's the best news when you're crafting with littles!

Supplies Needed 
-Brown Pipe Cleaners (I used 4 for each tree, but you can use however many you desire)
-Red, Yellow, and Orange mini pom-poms
-Green Crayons
-Half Sheet of Cardstock
-Bottle of Children's Glue

Director Jewels: Easy DIY Kid Craft Tutorial: Autumn Falling Leaves Tree with Pom Poms and Pipe Cleaners

1. Color the "Grass." This could easily be done with paint, Easter grass, or any other green variation you can think of - I was keeping it simple, so I grabbed a couple of green crayons and let Lincoln and Addie color the "ground" of their projects as much (or as little) as desired.

Director Jewels: Easy DIY Kid Craft Tutorial: Autumn Falling Leaves Tree with Pom Poms and Pipe Cleaners

2. Create Your Tree. I used 4 pipe cleaners to make a spider shape, twisting them tightly together in the middle. Once they were connected, I pulled 6 ends to the top for branches and left 2 at the bottom to be the base of the tree.

Director Jewels: Easy DIY Kid Craft Tutorial: Autumn Falling Leaves Tree with Pom Poms and Pipe Cleaners

Next, I cut 2 sets of 2 slits in the paper "ground" and inserted the two tree legs, twisting them to make them stand (see below).

Director Jewels: Easy DIY Kid Craft Tutorial: Autumn Falling Leaves Tree with Pom Poms and Pipe Cleaners

The trees were a little wobbly, so I ended up using some Scotch tape to secure them (I covered the slits and pipe cleaners on the underside of the paper with a couple pieces of tape). 

Director Jewels: Easy DIY Kid Craft Tutorial: Autumn Falling Leaves Tree with Pom Poms and Pipe Cleaners

Director Jewels: Easy DIY Kid Craft Tutorial: Autumn Falling Leaves Tree with Pom Poms and Pipe Cleaners
Voila! Standing tree!

3. Decorate with Pom-Pom "Leaves." This was definitely the most popular part of our project! I had planned to use the glue to put all of the pom-poms on the tree branches. We did a few, but that ended up being too difficult for the kids to manage alone and they didn't want much help.

Director Jewels: Easy DIY Kid Craft Tutorial: Autumn Falling Leaves Tree with Pom Poms and Pipe Cleaners

Director Jewels: Easy DIY Kid Craft Tutorial: Autumn Falling Leaves Tree with Pom Poms and Pipe Cleaners

We ended up having most of the leaves be "fallen" to the ground, with dots of glue on the paper around the base of the tree. Both Lincoln (3) and Addie (almost 2) thought this was the best idea ever. Lincoln wanted to put the spots of glue down himself, and they used almost the entire stash of red, orange, and yellow pom-poms to decorate their trees.

Director Jewels: Easy DIY Kid Craft Tutorial: Autumn Falling Leaves Tree with Pom Poms and Pipe Cleaners

Director Jewels: Easy DIY Kid Craft Tutorial: Autumn Falling Leaves Tree with Pom Poms and Pipe Cleaners

Director Jewels: Easy DIY Kid Craft Tutorial: Autumn Falling Leaves Tree with Pom Poms and Pipe Cleaners

Our little trees are happily on display and we'll use them in preschool to talk about the changing seasons and all of the different colors of leaves that we see outside!

Director Jewels: Easy DIY Kid Craft Tutorial: Autumn Falling Leaves Tree with Pom Poms and Pipe Cleaners

Like this craft? Make sure you check out our Apple Tree Preschool Math Game, too!

Monday, October 20, 2014

42/52




"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."
 
Lincoln - fearless.
Addie - not quite fearless.
 
Linking up at Practising Simplicity

$100 Visa Gift Card Giveaway

Yahoo! I love bringing you guys giveaways for things that I would love to win myself - like a $100 Visa Gift Card! What would you do with this prize if you're the winner? You can get started on your holiday shopping, spend a day at the spa or tuck it away for a rainy day. I've teamed up with a bunch of other great bloggers to give you a chance to put a little something extra in your pocket.

100 visa giveaway

The Prize: One (1) person will win a $100 Visa Gift Card

Details: Giveaway runs from October 20th through November 14th, 2014 (11:59 pm EST). Entries are open to US Residents who are 18 years of age or older at time of entry. Winner will be selected within 3 days of contest end date from all eligible entries on the Rafflecopter form below. Winner will be notified by the email they have provided and have 48 hours to respond and claim their prize or a new winner will be selected.

Organized By: Remaking June / Sponsored By: Courtney's SweetsThe Wait Is OverBeing AlisonAfropolitan Mom

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Currently // October 20, 2014


Doing //
...all the things. Seriously. SO. MANY. THINGS. I have lists coming out of my ears and I'm losing my mind just a little bit. Thankfully, over the weekend I had a couple of kid-free hours and my kitchen table no longer looks quite as bad as that photo above.

...some backyard therapy in an attempt for everyone to play happily while Mom gets some work done. It's been...reasonably successful so far.

...a lot of Etsy shop marketing. I think it may be working - I had four sales last week!


Planning //
...Addie's second birthday party. I've only started the initial planning stages for this, but since it's barely a month away, it seems likely that I should get busy.

Holiday Gift Guide arrivals! Oh, to be a blogger's child.

...the Holiday Gift Guide for the blog! I haven't done a gift guide since 2011, when I was a full-time coupon blogger. So this is fun (and a little overwhelming, since it's been three years)! If you own a business or an Etsy shop or anything like that, read more about how to be included in my guide!

...a mini vacation next month. We loved Silver Dollar City last Christmas and had so much fun exploring Branson as a family this summer that we just can't pass up the opportunity to go again.


Remembering // 

...to use my real camera sometimes. All the photos in this post are blurry because they were taken with my phone. I want to get back to keeping a daily Project Life scrapbook and I know that I will prefer "real" photos for that. I still think phone cameras are great. But expensive cameras are nice, too.


...that having a meal plan is helpful. I've done slightly better this past week at having some sort of intentions as far as dinner and even that has made life a little easier. If I actually cooked every night, wouldn't it be fantastic? Cooking is not my strong suit. There are so many other things I would rather be doing. I can't be the only one who feels like this, right?


Wishing //

...that I were planning a trip to Disney World. Hey, I can dream.

...for more hours in the day. I sort of feel like this is going to be a lifelong desire.



Loving //

...the way Lincoln and Addie actually play together sometimes. It was more than a little crazy having two kids under age two, but they are really starting to be able to entertain themselves and each other with imaginative games and giggling races. Now - just because they can entertain themselves does not mean that they always choose to do so. A lot of time is still spent fussing and whining in our home. Sigh. 


What are you up to this week? Hope you're having a happy Monday! Linking up with Hannah for Currently.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The (Lack of) Fall Decorations in My Home

Once upon a time, I imagined the day when I would have my own household and would decorate it with various crafty things like seasonal banners and weekly flower arrangements and little pumpkins or turkeys or snowflakes, depending upon the nearest holiday.

Then I had two children in less than two years. My standards became a little bit..different. I now have beautiful swirls of color on my furniture (crayon), plastic wildlife stashed in every nook and cranny, and flecks of green and pink Play-Doh in my carpet. I'm all about appreciating the little things, so this is not so much a complaint as it is a reality: my house is not cut out for serious decorating right now.

If I took the time to make a banner with leaves of felt in the colors of autumn, it would look nice hanging on my fireplace for approximately three minutes. After that, it would be ripped down and used as the rope in a game of tug-of-war-as-we-run-around-the-living-room-and-kitchen-entrances.

Putting out any of the cute fall themed glassware that I accumulated in the two years of married life before I had kids is just asking for an emergency room visit. Why, you ask? Because undoubtedly someone will eat or step on a piece of the glass pumpkin they've just tossed down the staircase.

And anything harvest related is out of the question, because every plastic kitchen toy they own (which is unfortunately a lot, see: last Christmas) ends up in their mouths fifty-seven times a day, no matter how many times I harp "they're just pretend!"

So, what then, you ask, did I actually use to decorate my house this fall?


There! Do you see it? That one little $.69 pumpkin (bless you, Trader Joe's). We actually had two, but Lincoln picked holes in the other and it turned all squishy the second day we had it in our house. Thankfully, no one has yet noticed that it's thrown out missing.

That's it. Just one lonely little pumpkin. And I think I'm perfectly happy with it.

Do you decorate your home for every season? I think, deep down, I really still want to have some sort of themed decor out, but the logistics aren't worth it right now. Maybe in a few years, when they can help me design some things and not just destroy them, it will work. Maybe.

PS. I'm clearly having the most random blogging week ever. After Tuesday's epic post about the things under my couch, it only seemed right to follow up with this piece. You're welcome, world.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

$25 Adelaide's Attic Gift Card Giveaway = Treat Yourself Hop


My Etsy shop of trendy infant headbands and other baby and child boutique items has been open since January of this year, and it's been a lot of fun - and a lot of work - so far! It's been quite awhile since I hosted a shop giveaway here on the blog, so I think it's definitely about time.

And, what's more fun than one giveaway? FIVE GIVEAWAYS. Yeah. Several of the stops in this giveaway hop feature Adelaide's Attic, so don't miss the opportunities to win at Mama Pure, Momma Without A Clue, Wife Mummy Nurse, and Words of a SAHM! Seriously. Go show them some love, okay?


Welcome to the Treat Yourself Giveaway Hop, hosted by the Blogging Mamas Network! In this Hop, you’ll find lots of special treats - for yourself and others in your family - to keep you entering giveaways until it’s time to go out and gather your own! Be sure to hop around to all the giveaways in the Hop Linky below and don’t miss the AMAZING Grand Prize Giveaway - from Step2!

I'm sharing a few photos of the latest items in my shop. Crafting is just ingrained in me... I can't imagine not having a pile of fabric in just about every corner of my house. 

Available in the shop now.

Available in the shop now.

Available in the shop now.

Available in the shop now.


Available in the shop now.

Available in the shop now.

Available in the shop now.

A few of these items have been in the shop for awhile...but some of them are brand new. And there is a whole stack of new products sitting on my kitchen table, just waiting to be added - so please keep checking back over the course of the giveaway as there will be new shop listings to see! I also welcome custom orders, so if have a crafty idea, but need a crafter, send me a message. I'd love to help you out.

If you'd like to make a purchase, please use the coupon code DJBLOGREADER for 10% off - just because I think you're awesome!

Giveaway

One Director Jewels reader will win a $25 Gift Card to my Etsy shop, Adelaide's Attic! This giveaway will end on October 31 at 11:59pm CST. This giveaway is open to US readers only.


To enter the giveaway, follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter form below (you may need Javascript enabled to see the form and it may take a moment to load)! Once you complete the first entry, the other options will open up so that you can complete them as well. All of the "extra entries" are optional - you can do just one, or as many as you want! Winners will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Once you have finished entering my giveaway, hop on over and enter the grand prize and all of the other fantastic giveaways, too!

http://blogging-mamas.com/2014/10/treatyourself-kiddo-step2-grand-prize-giveaway/







So Easy Being Green, Viva Veltoro the Blogging Mamas Network, and the Treat Yourself participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations. All opinions expressed are my own. For more information, you can read my Giveaway Policy and my Disclosure Policy.
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