The Accidental Gardener

I've never been much of a gardener.  To be honest, I'm not a fan of bugs or getting dirty or remembering to water something every single day.  And weeding?  Don't even get me started.  Growing up, my Mom and Grandma shared their love of plants and gardening often.  While I spent my time passing out in hot greenhouses and telling them of my hatred for geraniums.  They had/have some mad skills when it comes to gardening.  I was not a model student.

Our house came with a big stone pot on the front stoop.  I haven't put anything in it for the last few years, but there is a garden shop near EJ's school and so last week I stopped in and got a few annuals to brighten things up in the front yard (I couldn't let me new chairs be the only color).  That trip was the first time I had ever shopped for garden flowers without my Mom there giving me advice.

The next day Matt was out of town and Liv at her last day of school.  I'm not sure what happened, but the next thing I know, I was at the store with a cart that looked like this!

I'm not sure what happened either, but for the next two days you could find me weeding and planting new perennials based on the amount of shade in their respective garden beds (that also came with the house) and finally mulching (something I have never done before).  And I was working, Olivia asked me questions and I realized that I actually knew the answers.  It was a little shocking, but I think I must have actually paid attention at some point while my Mom taught me gardening (in truth, did my gardening for me).  Total baby steps for me...but it's something.

So for now, I'm happy for the tiny steps I'm making outside our house, but I'm extra thankful for:
*My Grandma's irises (and lilies) that line our driveway, take no work, and look so beautiful all summer!
*Our amazing neighbors who include our kids in their square foot veggie gardening each year.
*My Mom who plants a special flower box with the kids each year (last year & the year before, I'll get a pic of this year's soon) & spent some extra time planting with EJ this year & teaching her some tips.  My kids do like getting dirty, and usually don't mind bugs, so I can only imagine what they might learn in the garden.

Growing Fast

I dropped this girl off this morning for her last day of preschool...ever!  She and I are both a little sad.  Her preschool is amazing and after four years of taking the girls there, I will miss it very much.  I'm also a little sad, because this is my baby...heading to big kid school.  When the heck did time fly ahead???

On the flip side, I am loving every second of watching this girl become a kid.  She feels things deeply (which leads to her yelling & then apologizing...over and over), but she has so much passion for the things she loves.  I can't wait to see what she becomes as she grows.

So...this creative,

fire station-loving,

determined (she's trying to choose a color here & can't make up her mind),

always trying to be like the big kids,

willing to do anything to keep her Daddy close-by (that's his suitcase she's laying on),

"not tired" girl (she did finish her dinner first)...

ends one major chapter of life and heads off to new ones very soon!  She's excited...and to be honest, so am I.

A Few Thoughts on a Friday

--This is my favorite kind of tree.  I love when it blooms (even though it's only a few days each year) and we have had one in our front yard at both of our houses (I'd call that pretty lucky).

--I've started playing with the A Beautiful Mess app a little.  But just a little...I like a word or a doodle here or there, but I like the photos more.

--Liv had an extra day off school this week and I realized I don't really have a plan of what to do with her during the weeks that her school ends & the big kids get out of school.  Ooops!  Come on warm weather so we can be outside.  Otherwise, I might make her do even more yoga...or lots of dance parties.

--Speaking of exercise, I have realized recently that I really only exercise to support my love of ice cream and wine (well, and food in general)...and I'm fine with that.  I'd rather enjoy myself.  The following "quote" was a fake answer in a game on Watch What Happens Live and is also now my life mantra.
"I'm a size 10.  I could be a size 8, but I'm f**in hungry."

--I've been trying to be braver and more interested in animals, because my kids are so into them.  It's a tough process for me, but the other day I took the above pics of a crane and turtle to show them later.  I even moved the turtle to get a better photo (and then again to move him off the path entirely) and was telling everyone how he wrapped his tail around my hand and it freaked me out.  Then Matt tells me it's a snapping turtle.  This information did not help my newfound braveness.

--I can't wait for new Arrested Development.  I was late to the party the first time (of course), but I won't be this time.  In related news, enough people told me to watch Friday Night Lights that I finally started that series (and stuck with it even though I wasn't initially interested).  I'm on season 2 now and officially hooked.

Fun with a Boring Gift

We had dinner with my Mom last night and gave her some Mother's Day money to put towards flowers for her garden.  She shops at a garden store in her town (that is not in mine) & I hadn't had time to run down and get a gift certificate, so we had just planned to give her cash...boring.  It's times like this that I am thankful for the Internet!  One quick search & an added pipe cleaner and we had a cute "origami" flower to give my mom instead of a boring envelope.  Livie was so excited to give it to her that she insisted I let her pose for pics with the flower before we left (I also played with the A Beautiful Mess photo app on the pic above).

The other quick change that happened yesterday was with my current work in progress.  The project on the left became the project on the right.  I like both (and both are just starts), but I think the end product of the right pattern is going to work better for the gift I am giving (more on that later)...

My Super Duper Mother's Day

I have some amazing kids!  And while I know that sounds like bragging (and biased given that they are mine), it was a tough road to end up with these three.  So now that I've got them, I try to ignore the crazy and the bickering, and focus on the awesome!  Yesterday, was definitely in the awesome category.  I was spoiled with amazing gifts, we went on a super long hike, all 3 meals were take out, and while the weather was cold, it was sunny.

You can't buy happiness, but you can buy ice cream and that is kind of the same thing. They know the way to my heart.

Yes, this is their feet.  They make a new one for me each year and every year I am shocked at how big Jack's feet are!

They ran up this hill (this only shows half of the incline)...look closely for EJ on the left.

They just want to get to our late lunch, but indulged me for one photo.

I got the chairs I've been longing for (they are red, not pink)...yay, reading corner in the front yard!

And Jack turned me into a blubbery mess with his poem about me (this is just part).

Like I said, I was spoiled and I was thrilled to spend the day with these three (and their awesome daddy too).  Hope everyone's day was just was wonderful!

Neon Skirt for EJ

I have been wanting to make this capelet pattern into a skirt for EJ for about a year now.  In the Fall, I was taunted a bit when one of her friends wore a version of it all in pastel colors.  But for some reason, I was uninspired...I could not figure out the colors I wanted to use.  Most of the finished projects on Ravelry are in bright color mixes, but they just weren't what I wanted to do.

The Lion Brand Yarn introduced their new neon colors and I knew exactly what I wanted to do!  I did the body of the skirt in my favorite gray worsted weight yarn (Impeccable in True Gray) and then did the ruffles in Vanna's Choice in Radiant Orange, Radient Lime and Radiant Yellow.  I love how the gray really makes the neon ruffles pop and I love how the dark color also shows the detail in the ruffles so clearly.  Adjusting the capelet to a skirt was pretty simple as well.  I made the band big enough to fit EJ's waist and then adjusted the first few rounds (I started with 72 single crochets off the band and therefore did not do the increases in round 1, but the rest is the same). I used a J hook throughout (but should note that I crochet pretty tightly and was using a thicker weight yarn than the pattern suggests).

You can see by EJ's new shoes that she is also a fan of the neon these days, so she is in love with this skirt.  She wore it to school yesterday and said it was comfortable to play in.  It was cool to see how proud she was that I had made it for her as well.  I should note that I kept her outfit pretty simple as accessories and school don't usually work too well for her, but she chose to add a necklace of her own design.  I have no idea what she is doing in the photo below (all her pose there), but I included it because you can see the skirt ruffles quite well.

I still have yarn left in all the colors and am trying to decide what to make next.  I'm kind of obsessed with neon lately (just did some neon painting this week as well), so I hope I can come up with something fun for this great yarn.

Happy Hoops

My friend Alyson, who blogs over at Vintage Sunshine, is starting a fun new venture that I wanted to share with you today!  She creates amazing embroidery hoops in really fun designs (the hipster collection is my favorite) and is launching a great new program with exclusive (and I'm sure, super cute) designs.  Becoming a Happy Hoops subscriber is easy...

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A little more info from Alyson...
Each month i'll be designing 3 hoops that will be available exclusively* to Happy Hoops subscribers! One hoop will be something "month" related and the other 2 will be designs that i think you'd love. You'll receive an email with sketches of the 3 hoops available that month, as well as an invoice. When you pay your invoice, you'll let me know which hoop you'd like to have. If you want your hoop sent to someone as a gift, that's fine too. Just let me know the address and if you'd like it gift wrapped.
*happy hoops exclusive hoops may become available after the new year, certain designs only!

There are limited spots available for May. Hurry and grab one before they're sold out. 
Click HERE to fill out the form & sign up! 

Teacher Appreciation Printable Round-Up

I've been working on a few teacher appreciation gifts for this week and thought it would be fun to do a little round-up of the free printables I'm using for some of the gifts.  A little "one stop shopping" link post to get you going in a pinch!

All the photos shown are from their respective blogs and are linked to their original source.  None of the ideas or designs are mine, but they are all super cute!

We Think You're Awesome printable from eighteen25

I'm loving it!

I've got a list for you today of all the things I'm been loving this past month.  This list starts with the awesome weather we've been having for the last week or so.  Unfortunately the nice weather made me realize that my old $2 flip flops were not going to cut it for my everyday running around anymore, so I finally bit the bullet and bought my new favorite flip flops in the world (modeled here by EJ).
They are Sanuk Serenity and made from yoga mats.  Really feels like walking on pillows (and I'd like to note that I wear them without the socks).

Another shoe related love is the big kids new non-lacing shoe laces...Lock Laces.  We decided to try something new (Jack has used Yankz in the past) and are now really glad we did.  These stay tight like the others did, but they also are more adjustable as you can move the circle up & down easily to loosen/tighten them.  Loving these on both Jack & EJ's new tennis shoes.

I've become a woman who doesn't leave the house without did that happen?  I'm really not sure myself, but I love this Covergirl Clump Crusher in brown/black.  I must admit that I have pretty long and thick lashes, but I like a little help and I hate clumpy-looking lashes, so...  The other thing I can't leave the house without is sunscreen for my lovely scar.  We started using a stick on Liv's scar after her surgery (we used Aveeno as it was so close to her eye) and love how easy it is to apply, so I did the same but went a lot more heavy duty.  On really sunny days, I add a band-aid (hot, I know!).

I discovered that the kids LOVE books on CD in the car.  They all listen quietly and complain when it is time to take a break.  So awesome to listen to a story and no complaining or fighting or "they are touching me!"s!  Of course, I discovered this on the last day of a two week stint of commuting with the kids for 1.5 hours a day.  Not my smartest moment, but...we finally got back to reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (all 3 kids hadn't been home at the same time in a couple weeks) and Brooke Shields does all the reading for me now!

Olivia has been loving tape and paper and creating...big time!  So much so that she returned a couple of birthday gifts and used her gift card to set herself up with her own desk set.  Best purchase she's ever made as she uses them all multiple times a day.  She goes through a boatload of paper, tape and staples too!

What things are you loving these days?  Have you started counting down to summer like we have (first step, busting out the sandals)?