Friday Freebie: Disney Resort Fun

The photo book of our trip to Walt Disney World wouldn't be complete without a page about the fun we had playing at our resort, All-Star Music. All trips need a little downtime and after spending the morning at Animal Kingdom, we returned to the resort midafternoon to do just that. We played games in the arcade (the middle photo cracks me up - my attempt at a shot of all 3 of us playing a racing game. Dylan was in my lap and the mouse ears on his head are just barely visible) and swam in the guitar pool before ordering a pizza for dinner. Simple, fun Friday night in the happiest place on earth.

Supplies: Inspire papers by Sarah Sullivan (recolored); Count on Me brushes by Deena Rutter; Dude kit & Clearly alpha by Robyn Meierotto.

Want to recreate the look of this page? Do it easily with this month's Friday Freebie template. The template features 12 layers including photo masks, arrow head embellishment & title. It's free for personal use only.

Click here to download the Resort Fun template


Have you missed one of my previous digital freebies? Click HERE to find them. And, don't forget to subscribe to my feeds so you won't miss future freebies!

Planning a trip to Disney with your young child(ren)? Check out my tips for Disney with a Preschooler and how to save money with Packed Fun for Less.


Foreclosure to Home: Year One Update

This week we mark one year since became owners of our second home. We bought it knowing it was a foreclosure, knowing it would take some work, but also seeing the potential. Admittedly there are moments when I feel like we aren't making any progress. But we are. Tiny, baby steps at times, but progress nonetheless. Here's a brief look at changes that have occurred in the last 12 months and are helping us turn our foreclosure into home.

Exterior - cleaning up of existing landscaping including removal of an overgrown ornamental tree and an evergreen shrub too close to the garage; planting of 2 new shrubs on northeast side of house and flowers around the mailbox; hired a local company to replace the entire HVAC system; mulched around playset, planted catsmint and added sandbox complete with lid/benches; hired a local company to fix the front porch slab that had settled toward the house; hired a local company to power wash entire house and clean gutters; placed new vapor barrier in crawl space.

Garage - added storage throughout with additional shelf, rearrangement of existing peg board and addition of Gladiator system; added hardware to the garage door.

Kitchen - replacement of moldy fridge, rusting dishwasher and sink faucet; repaired broken oven door handle; caulked around vinyl flooring.

Family room - hung curtains; fixed squeaky ceiling fan.

Playroom - decorated including new furniture (Ikea Expedit to house all those toys & games!), new light fixture, new floor rug (clearance find at Target just before we moved), "new to us" train table (consignment score), and DIY framed mirror and ruler growth chart. See the full room details here

Half bath - replaced toilet tank parts and bolts; complete revamp from spray painting old hardware, mirror & light fixture to painting the walls and hanging new DIY shelves. See full before & after here

Laundry room - painted and added beadboard wallpaper plus new wood trim & hooks. See full before & after here

Master bath - replaced toilet tank parts and bolts; replaced shower head; shower caulk stripped out and replaced (the company the bank hired caulked over the old moldy caulk - oh the mess! ugh); replaced hardware and faucets.

Hall bath - replaced toilet tank parts and bolts (see a trend here? Trent did all 3 within hours of us owning the house. So grateful for a handy husband!); replaced shower head; added a robe hook to the door.

Dylan's room - installed curtain rods and hung new curtains; replaced existing light fixture with new ceiling fan/light fixture combo. Started out with toddler furniture & decor from our old house and has changed into the "big boy" room.

Guest room - hung curtains (the only set we brought from our last house); replaced existing light fixture with new ceiling fan/light fixture combo (used same fixture we put in Dylan's room), and upcycled a Craigslist dresser into a new beautiful yellow dresser.

Craft room - hung Pottery Barn wallboards & shelves on wall, moved in the storage cubes (they were temporarily in guest room until we got the dresser), and am still sorting & organizing. It's the "catch all" still housing the few boxes we haven't unpacked.

Other ... replaced smoke detectors on both floors with new smoke/carbon monoxide detectors; repaired/replaced a number of outlets, outlet plates and screws (handy tip here - did you know you can buy packs of just the screws?).

The entire process has been a full family affair - even Dylan has been involved ...

Some days it feels like we've barely scratched the surface, but looking at this list it's clear we've come a long way in the last 12 months. Can't wait to see what progress we make in the next 12!


Pumpkin Mums

Fall is my favorite season. And yesterday, I started decorating my house. One of the first things I did last year was add mums up the steps to the front door. Having just moved and with a lot on my plate, I literally just plopped the flowers (thin plastic 'pot' and all) onto the steps and called it done. This year, I'm making a little more effort.

While I could (and probably should for year round decorating) invest in a few nice pots to line the steps, I decided to take a fall twist and use pumpkins for pots. Fake pumpkins. I don't trust real ones to hold up all season and we've had great luck with a carved fake pumpkin for years. It still looks great. So now I'm testing how well they survive the elements + a live flowering plant.

How to make your own? Easy! All you need are 5 supplies - fake pumpkin, mum plant, marker, knife & a drill.

Supplies for faux Pumpkin Mums

Start by marking the top of your pumpkin for where you will cut. I just held the plant over and loosely traced with an orange Sharpie. My thought was the orange would blend in better if the lines ended up showing a bit. Instead, my initial hole was a bit too small so I just kept trimming out slowly until the plant just barely slid in. I wanted a snug fit.

Mark an outline of the pot for cutting.

Then (no pictures of this step) I used our drill to make a couple of small holes in the bottom to allow for drainage.

Add the flowers to the faux pumpkin, place and enjoy!

Can you spy why there isn't a wreath on my front door yet? Next project - new paint!
I bought my pumpkins on sale at Michaels and my mums on clearance at Lowes so the entire project cost me under $25 for 3 Pumpkin Mums. I'll update later in the season with how they are holding up. Hopefully, I'll be able to refill these same pumpkins year after year.

Happy Fall!

For more fake (faux?) pumpkin ideas ... our carved Bat pumpkin we've been using since 2006 and Mr Potato Head Pirate Pumpkin.


Talk Like a Pirate Day - Arr!

It's Talk Like a Pirate Day! And to help you celebrate, Mabels Labels is offering 50% off Pirate Ship or Skull 'n' Crossbones Sticky Labels. The offer is good today 9/19 only.

That's not all, tomorrow (Friday 9/20) is the first ever "Talk Like a Pilot Day" created by Mabel's Labels and Plane Sticky Labels will be 50%.

Remember, both offers are one day only. 50% off on Pirate Ship or Skull 'n' Crossbones Sticky Labels on 9/19 and 50% off Plane Sticky Labels on 9/20. No codes required.

Happy shopping, Matey! Arr!

For more Pirate fun ... check out my previous post on how to make a Pirate Spyglass and my pirate day inspired digital scrapbooking template Argghh!


Week in the Life 2013: Sunday

The final day of the #weekinthelife project for this year. A calmer day of just the 3 of us.

Chilly morning (55) = slippers. #weekinthelife
7:51am Only 55˚ so we started our day with slippers on.
8:47am Homemade favorite by Trent. We typically have these once per weekend. (iPhone w/ text using Over app)
12:10pm His favorite part of the Sunday paper - the kids' section in the comics.
He was quiet. This is what I found. #weekinthelife #preschooler #playroom
1:13pm Practicing writing his alphabet.
1:46pm Visit to the Scrap Exchange in Durham. Dropped off a box of donations and browsed. Bought one item (wooden dinosaur fossil puzzle) that Dylan picked out.
Hurray! Honey crisp apples are in. #weekinthelife #fall
3:42pm One of my fall favorites - Honeycrisp apples. Found when making a rare trip to the grocery store. Most weeks I take advantage of the online order and pickup option.
Incoming tonight. ✈ #weekinthelife #latergram
5:24pm Incoming flights passing overhead. 
Playing with a selfie in PicTapGo. #weekinthelife
6:15pm Playing around with edits to a selfie in PicTapGo app. Eyes were dry so I ditched the contacts earlier than usual and put on my glasses.
6:26pm Impossible to get this one to stay still for a photo.
6:43pm Cleaned and refilled the Penguin humidifier. A few sneezes on Saturday = a bit more sneezes and a slight runny nose on Sunday. Fingers crossed it's nothing more than allergies. Pollen is up and he was outside a lot this weekend.
7:30pm Bedtime reading - The Honey Hunt. Put Dylan to bed a bit early due to no nap and an early start on Monday morning.
8:34pm Regular Sunday evening phone call from my Dad.

9:09pm Fitting that I should end the week as every night - on the couch uploading photos & blogging while catching up on shows on our DVR. 


Lunches Around the World with Little Passports

Kids around the world are preparing to go back to school—that means homework, new friends and … lunch? Yes, that’s right! Let’s visit different countries with Little Passports and see what yummy food the school kids eat every day!

France- French children enjoy a 3 or 4-course meal that is made from high-quality ingredients, and are mostly made from scratch. The children all sit in the same eating area, the cafeteria. An interesting fact is that there are no vending machines in schools, because they’re banned due to the high sugar and fat content of the treats they carry. Typical school lunches here can have a variety of dishes and ingredients, such as grilled fish, salad, red beans, seasonal vegetables, garlic sausage, fruit salads and chocolate flan (just to name a few). Another perk is that the food is served on plates and eaten with real silverware!

Japan- In Japan, the school lunch ingredients are locally sourced and almost never frozen; in addition, the schools employ nutrition experts that work with kids and teach them the importance of good eating habits. Like the children in France, Japanese kids also eat in a community-like setting with their peers, and even their teachers! The children also wear white hats and robes to serve their classmates, which teaches them teamwork and respect. You can expect to find lots of rice, vegetables, fish, soup, and meat on the plate. 

South Africa- South African school meals have natural ingredients such as corn, squash, sweet potatoes, and yams. There’s also rice, soft porridge, and meat that is sprinkled in with the vegetables. A special stew is made called potjiekos (named after a potjie, a three-legged pot), which originated from Dutch settlers. The cook puts vegetables, meat, potatoes, and spices into the pot, which is heated by small amounts of wood and twigs. After cooking, the result is a delectable stew!

Colombia- Colombian school lunch ingredients usually vary from region to region, but can contain rice, potatoes, fruit, beans, meatballs, and vegetables such as corn and avocados. There’s a special vegetarian menu also available, and children from 2 to 5 years old have their food cut and portioned into smaller sizes.

We hope you enjoyed our lunch trip around the world, and perhaps found inspiration to try new foods at your own dinner table!

To help your child learn more about the world around us, consider a subscription to Little Passports and each month a new adventure will arrive in your mailbox.

Week in the Life 2013: Saturday

Another day = another day of normalcy + unexpected ... ie, life. :)

6:46am Dylan is up and in our room. Sent him back to his room for "quiet time" until the bunny wakes at 7:30. Semi worked, semi failed. He's back in our bed a little after 7 with a set of sight word flash cards and we practice those. No photos. I was too tired & the iPhone was off just out of reach on my nightstand.

7:46am Getting the newspaper. We still have it delivered 7 days a week. (#oldfashioned?)
But before breakfast, we had a big ole tantrum b/c Mama went out & got the paper. Apparently he wanted too. #weekinthelife #preschooler #keepinitreal
7:47am The morning tantrum all because I went out and got newspaper. Apparently he wanted to. On the plus side, note he dressed himself and is ready for the day.
Looking at paper over breakfast. D asked why there were cats & dogs on front page. I said because they need a home. He asked why. I said they don't have one. He said, "that's sad. Everyone needs a home." #weekinthelife #preschooler #truth
8:11am Looking at the paper over breakfast. Dylan asks why there are photos of cats & dogs on the front. I explained that they needed homes. He asked why. Because they don't have a home. He said, "that's sad. Everyone needs a home." 
Not sure what has come over me but my kitchen is getting a deep cleaning this morning. Halfway through. #weekinthelife #foreclosuretohome
The cleaning bug has bit. Halfway through a deep cleaning of the kitchen.
9:56am Boys head out to Lowes for the Build & Grow clinic plus lunch at McDonald's.
FaceTime with Grama! @pamelapo #weekinthelife
2:32pm FaceTime with Grama
3:51pm Princess / Pirate birthday party: Coloring his treasure chest. Afterward he dug for treasure in the large chest behind him to fill his small wooden one with. So awesome.
4:25pm Princess / Pirate birthday party: Walk the Plank!
8:27pm S'mores with friends  


Week in the Life 2013: Friday

Lots of food pics (extra hungry yesterday?) and while a bumpy start, Friday the 13th went pretty well ...

6:35am Necessary morning wash after 5am bedding change.  
7:07am Breakfast. My usual - half a bagel and a bowl of Basic 4.
"I want to wear this, Mama. I want to make you happy." - heart melts
And then he marked up the wall with his new toy plastic hammer from his uncle. (Guess who's getting Magic Eraser duty tomorrow?)

Afterward, I knocked over my travel mug of iced coffee spilling it onto the wall & floor in foyer (no photo of that mishap).
Perhaps why my morning was full on chaos before 8am? #weekinthelife #Fridaythe13th
Forgot it was Friday the 13th until my boss reminded me. Maybe explains the pure chaos before 8am??
Morning treat of Boberrys. #weekinthelife
11:00am Late morning snack treat from a coworker - Bo-Berry biscuits. (The day has taken a turn for the better!)
Lunch time cookout social. #weekinthelife
12:29pm Lunch time cookout.
Lunch time social with a fellow company. #shavedice #weekinthelife
Cookout ended with shaved ice.
'A' is for alligator! #weekinthelife
5:44pm 'A' is for Alligator
An everyday occurrence living in the flight path except today they were taking off instead of landing. Only 2nd time this week. #weekinthelife
6:45pm A typical sight living in the flightpath. Today the planes were taking off instead of landing - only 2nd time this week.
Thankful for a husband who cooks! Dinner was ready when we got home. #weekinthelife #latergram
Thankful for a husband that cooks! Dinner ready when we got home.
Evening game time. #weekinthelife
7:36pm Evening game time
One bathroom clean (minus tub crayons on the shower wall). 1.5 to go. #weekinthelife
8:00pm One bathroom cleaned (minus the soap crayon drawings on the tub wall). 
Napping behind me on the couch. #weekinthelife #cat #tortie
11:19pm Napping behind me on the couch. Her typical evening spot.