I love the slow days of summer, and have been enjoying these days home from vacation when the kids and I have been able to spend time together. And in order to stay sane and all feel happy and entertained, we have been coming up with some fun and simple summer activities to do. This easy DIY Jenga Set was inspired by a huge version that we’ve played at the children’s museum downtown. The total cost was around $3, and the once I cut and sanded the boards, the kids had a blast painting the ends before we set it up to play. It actually ended up being a great two-in-one because the painting was a fun activity, then once it was dry we played several rounds and had a blast.
Jenga turns out to be a perfect game for kids over about three years old who can understand how to grab and remover a board from the stack. My kids caught on really quickly, and we’ve been playing almost every day!
Here’s how to make one of your own:
2 1″x2″ boards, 8′ long, cut into 4.5″ pieces
acrylic paint in a variety of colors
I already had a chop saw out on the patio because I was building an outdoor reading nook, so it was simple to chop up some extra pieces
Sand all of the sharp edges and ends by rubbing them along sandpaper on a flat surface, then wipe down with a cloth to remove the sawdust
Squirt little samples of each of your paint colors onto paper plates and let the kids paint the ends of the boards, then let dry.
If you have little ones like mine, some of the boards might get painted more than on the ends, and that’s alright. It adds that homemade charm.
You can see that my kids got really into it, and we had a fun (messy!) time from the get-go!
I choose a few coordinating blues, green, and a fun purple for our blocks, and love the way it turned out. My more design-snob side was tempted to only use white paint, or leave them plain wood, but the kids had so much fun mixing colors! It was a good reminder to let them have fun with color!
Once the pieces are all dry, you’re ready to play! Set them each row of three in opposite directions as you stack the tower. Then take turns removing one piece from the middle and setting it back onto the top of the tower. When the tower tumbles, the game is over! It can get pretty tricky to remove pieces after a while. I was always surprised by how little blocks remain when it all falls down. Read More
When I was designing my Master Bedroom last month, I settled on hanging a shelf above the couch, rather than some additional art. It was the perfect opportunity to try creating some leather-wrapped shelf brackets like I had seen in a cool rental home in the Fall. The process of making the leather shelf brackets was simple, quick, and they turned out amazing.
I love the hearty feel adding hand-sticked leather to these simple metal brackets gave. They feel elevated with a touch of southwestern appeal, but are simple enough to maintain a nice, modern industrial design. Here’s the how-to!
simple metal shelf brackets (this one is from Home Depot)
gold spray paint
a wooden shelf plank
leather strips 1″ x 12″ long
a leather hole punch
waxed polyester thread
a large needle Read More
Last month I gathered a group of local Austin mamas for the second Munchkin Maker Mamas workshop to learn to make a simple canvas and leather origami wall planter. This series, generously sponsored by Munchkin, is a unique opportunity for moms to come to a craft workshop where childcare is provided on-site so they can enjoy some creative time while the kids enjoy snacks, games, and toys nearby.
When I came up with the idea, the goal was to support moms in their roles as caretakers and nurturers by eliminating as many obstacles as possible for them to come together and create. The first workshop, back in March, had an amazing energy and this second one exceeded expectations as well.
Because so many of my friends and readers don’t live nearby, I’ve included a full tutorial for the DIY origami wall planter at the end of this post so you can make one of your own!
I designed this wall planter after experimenting with several types of hanging planters. As much as I love them, it turns out that it is really hard to find the perfect place to hang a planter from the ceiling. I loved the idea of creating a simple, hearty planter that would be able to hang on the wall as a piece of art, as part of a gallery wall, in a row of three, or simply as an accent and a way to bring life into the room.
The planter is created from canvas and leather, with a brass D ring for hanging. It fits a ceramic pot perfectly, so the plant can be watered while it’s on the wall without worrying about the water leaking. I’ve loved having mine up, and was so excited to share the steps with a group of maker mamas.
In experimenting with different event venues, I reached out to an AirBNB owner regarding using his home to host the event and he heartily agreed. It was really nice to have a house with a kitchen for the catering, a fridge to keep drinks cold, a nearby bathroom, and the whole comfortable living room for the kids to use as their play area.
As each attendee arrived the kids all received their Miracle Cup and Snack Catcher filled with snacks. They met the babysitters and started working on stacking blocks, creating art with stickers, and making music with the Mozart Magic Cubes. Moms were invited to grab a drink and snack themselves, choose a seat, and settle in for the workshop.
The creative energy in my workshops is always so contagious. Everyone is excited to be learning, and especially when teaching moms you can feel the gratitude they have for the chance to spend a couple hours working with both hands free, making something outside of their usual routine. Read More
Every mom needs a night out once in a while. We recharge by being with friends who can relate, enjoying good food, and working on a simple project to feel creative and accomplish something. That’s just what I provided last month in partnership with Bumble BFF. We hosted a Moms Night Out in Austin, where we brought together a group of mamas and created hand painted tote bags while meeting and mingling with each other.
Bringing people together to create is one of my main career objectives. Bringing people together for any reason is one of Bumble‘s objectives. The women-run app launched in the dating space, but has since expanded to include the unique feature of matching with new friends for purely platonic relationships, and has announced they’ll soon provide ways to create business and networking relationships as well! The new developments are exciting for someone like me, who has been happily married for almost ten years (since before dating apps existed!) but who is still interested in meeting and connecting with new people where I live.
We loved hosting moms from all over the Austin area with our first Moms Night Out. There were brand new, expectant mamas, and moms with kids heading into high school. Everyone enjoyed meeting each other, and I loved seeing new friendships form as people exchanged cell numbers and social media handles to stay in touch after the event. Read More
We’re always coming up with new ways to eat ice cream in the summertime. It’s sort of a daily staple around our house, and the kids love finishing a hot day with a cold ice cream treat on the patio. Last week we combined two of our favorite meals, breakfast and dessert, and came up with these delicious Honey Nut Cheerios™ Ice Cream Bars! They’re layered with banana slices and vanilla ice cream, so basically your favorite bowl of cereal morphed into a sweet and cool treat to enjoy anytime.
The of the layers of cereal on the bottom and top make this an easy-to-eat finger food, which is always a big win with kids. Also, they’re sweet without being heavy, and almost have me convinced that we should just eat them for breakfast, too.
As soon as I imagined these bars in my head, I could’t wait to pick up a new box of Honey Nut Cheerios™ some bananas, and some vanilla ice cream on a quick trip to Walmart. You can use this coupon to grab a box and make your own! I also bought some wax paper to make the bars easy to release from the pan, and for wrapping and storing the finished dessert bars in the freezer.
The Cheerios™ Ice Cream Bars are super simple to make and so far have been high pleasers in my house. Here’s what you’ll need: Read More
It’s no secret that I love where we live. Austin, Texas feels like home in every way. As we have explored I have discovered more and more favorite activities, neighborhoods, parks, restaurants, and of course food trucks.
When I heard that Ozarka® Brand Natural Spring Water was asking Texans to share why they love where they live, I couldn’t wait to jump on board and share five of my favorite Austin Food Truck Treats, all perfect for the beautiful summertime weather.
Ozarka Spring water is a Texas original, gathered from three different springs around the state it has that refreshing Texas taste. We try to support local whenever we can, and so it is a no-brainer to drink Ozarka water as we are out around town, on hiking adventures, and to toss a couple bottles into the pool bag to spend the day swimming. As part of this new initiative, Ozarka send me curated box full of Texas goodies, all of which were new to me and I am so excited to try!
Paqui tortilla chips are all natural and so good. I ate the bag in about five seconds. Snow BBQ sauce was named Best in Texas by Texas Monthly, and we will be using it at our next barbecue for sure. I’ve been on a hot sauce kick and was excited to discover this Yellowbird Habanero hot sauce. It was fun to see some sauces from the Jelly Queens. I love unique flavors when cooking at home and the black garlic rosemary sauce will be fun to try. Finally, I can’t wait to whip up some more homemade hot pretzels to use with the Taste Elevated mustard seeds. Mustard has always been my favorite condiment, and this chunky seeds look amazing.
All of the little tasting samples together make quite an awesome meal at home. And we love getting out of the house in the evening to treat the kids to something sweet downtown at one of the many Austin food trucks. Here are five of my favorite food truck treats in Austin:
1. I’ve talked about Holy Cacao before (here) but it truly is one of my very favorite frozen treats in the city. The frozen hot chocolate taste like a liquid dark chocolate bar and it is so good. It is a must stop when we have visitors in town, or when we’re looking for a delicious frozen treat.
2. I grew up loving churros, so when ChurroCo Austin opened I was so excited to check them out. Their menu of gourmet churros doesn’t disappoint, and this campfire churro is the perfect combination for summertime. Read More
How did it become July?
The summer is just rolling right along, and we’re loving every pool day, barbecue, and homemade ice cream cone! To solve the problem of tipping cones, and have somewhere to set the fresh waffle cones we’ve been making lately, I create this Ice Cream Cone Tray DIY.
It’s pretty simple, and so useful. We’ve used it regularly in the last couple weeks, which makes the work and time of making it so worthwhile. Even when the kids are playing and eating their ice cream outside and need to run in to go to the bathroom, it’s been awesome to have a place for them to set their cones so I don’t end up with five in my hands! Read More
Ahhh, you know that feeling when you finally finish a big project and your shoulders straighten, your breathing slows, and you can’t stop smiling? That’s how I feel today. Our indoor patio room has been months in the making. Most of that time it actually sat empty while I worked on the skim-coated walls little by little (in and around doing other projects like wallpapering the guest bathroom and redesigning our bedroom.) The whole space turned out just as I imagined and is a really wonderful addition to our home. Let me tell you more about it!
When we built this house, this room–a little awkwardly placed off of the main hallway, around the corner from the kitchen– was sold listed as the dining room on the floor plan. We started with a table in here, but it felt just far enough away from the kitchen and the main eating and hanging out space in the house to not work for us. Combined with the more casual nature of our family, and the really wonderful dining area we created on the covered back patio, it was an easy decision to do away with the dining room and create something else.
As I was browsing the internet, I came across this costal house feature and instantly fell in love with the indoor patio room! The hammock, plant-lined walls, and breezy feeling all felt so easy and lovely for a home. It was just what our house needed.
Because the front door is a long way from the back of the house, where our family room and kitchen are located, having a sitting area that is mid-way into the house also helps with having company in for a few minutes. We’ve also loved having a couch in a room without the tv, so we can sit, chat, and relax without that distraction.
I decided on a black wall to anchor the room, and make it feel intentional. It works really well on the wall with the window, because the light is still able to come in and bounce around on the freshly painted white side walls, keeping the mood bright and fresh. I worked with Sherwin Williams, who I adore, to choose paint colors and types, and they generously provided the paint. We went with Tricorn Black in their cool Emerald paint with flat sheen, which has all the washability of a glossier sheen, but with a gorgeous suede-like flat texture. For the walls I went with Extra White, also in Emerald paint and flat. It was trickier than I expected choosing the perfect white, but this one is bright, but still warm feeling.
About three years ago I picked up a couple succulents at Trader Joe’s on a whim. They were coming into trend, I had just moved to the desert of Austin, TX, and I was excited to finally have a house with big windows where I could try to grow something green. Since then, houseplants have become one of my favorite decorations, and keeping them healthy and beautiful has been a favorite new hobby. I have people ask me all the time about how to take care of houseplants, so I’m excited to share a few tips for caring for houseplants today!
This post is also my first in a series in partnership with At Home! I’m excited to have joined the At Home Inspiration Team, and will be sharing some monthly ideas for how I incorporate some of their vast inventory of home and patio items into my home. The first time I experienced an At Home Store was here in Texas, and I was totally blown away by the huge selection of patio furniture, planter pots, baskets and rugs– and that was only the first third of the store!
Summertime is the perfect time to start bringing the outside in, with some greenery indoors. It’s also a perfect time to repot and fertilize plants that have been dormant during the winter. I chose an eclectic variety of planter pots and baskets from At Home for a general plant upgrade.
Some of my plants had been living in their plastic pots for months, and they all feel so much more finished as decor when they’re intentionally potted. From basic, southwestern terra cotta (in every size and shape) to natural woven baskets, I keep my palate neutral and mix and match the styles and shapes to meet the needs of the rooms and the plant sizes. Read on for all of my houseplant tips! Read More
Eliot turns five-years-old today! As he’s grown up, so has his deep love of wearing costumes, jumping on the trampoline, and watching movies. We have a family movie night every Friday, so we switched it up with a fun new movie night idea!
Instead of watching at home, we had a minivan movie night to enjoy the The Land Before Time DVD, which was one of my childhood favorites. We don’t have a DVD player in the house, since we’re usually streaming movies, so I transformed the car into our theatre by taking out the front row seats, laying down a blanket, and piling pillows in for us to lounge on. The kids eyes grew wide with excitement as they saw our minivan movie theater!
A few weeks ago I had a bizarre dream, that involved some white chocolate and sprinkle-covered popcorn, and I woke up craving it. I decided to add a build your own popcorn bar to our movie night, and grabbed some Pop Secret, white chocolate chips, caramel balls, mini chocolate chips, sprinkles, gummy bears, and red hots at Walmart on the way home from errands to make this fun popcorn recipe happen.
The easiest way to make the popcorn movie snack turned out to be scooping a handful of each desired treat into a bowl, adding freshly popped popcorn to the top and letting it melt the chocolate a bit. Then stir the popcorn around into the melted chocolate and caramel, coating it lightly. I also chilled the mix in the refrigerator for a few minutes to keep little fingers from being too messy.
We drove over to a local park and turned on the show next to the duck pond. The view was pretty, and the kids thought the gaggle of geese watching us was pretty funny too.
It wasn’t until we were almost to the lake, with The Land Before Time movie all hyped up for our kids, that I realized the car has a regular DVD player and I had a Blu Ray disc! Luckily, we had a stack of movies on hand and promised them that we would download the included digital version today so we can stream it at home for our weekly Friday night movie. Something else to look forward to! And I think we’ll break out the white chocolate sprinkle popcorn again!
For your own family movie night, whether in the minivan or not, head to Walmart to grab The Land Before Time: The Complete Collection DVD available now, while supplies last!
This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® , Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Pop Secret, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #Pop4LandB4time http://my-disclosur.es/OBs
Happy First Day of Sundresses!
I confess, I didn’t spend even one minute of today at the pool like I would have liked to, but I did put on my swimsuit to take photos of this new braided boho sundress to share. I whipped it up last night as part of Melissa‘s annual 30 Days of Sundresses series.
This year I had the fun of sewing something from Melly’s newly released book Sundressing: 21 Easy, Breezy Dresses for Women and Girls! From the moment I got her book in the mail I was gushing over the way she provides not only some fun inspiration for sewing sundresses, but also a basic bodice block with step-by-step instructions to modify it to make any of the sundresses she shows and more!
Most of the dresses are sleeveless, of course, as sundresses tend to be. And I generally wear sleeves unless I am headed to the pool or beach, so I choose a dress that felt really boho and cozy to wear as a comfy swimsuit cover-up this year.
This dress is called the Bellevue, and the instructions in Sundressing were written for little girls. Because of the drapey fit and option to use knit fabric, it modified easily to be used for an adult dress–I absolutely adore it.