3 {new} Little Things: an ebook, a photo wall, and team sports

This blog post feels a little like cheating. ;) I definitely could have written three separate, more detailed blog posts, but that's just how life is right now. I take what I can get, squeezing in writing time in the cracks of my time (and to be fair, my original #3 is in fact, getting its own blog post next week). Either way, I'm taking a cue from Amy at MomAdvice, sharing three little things making me happy this week. I hope you're inspired. xoxo

1. My new book

Read More Cover

Do you feel like you wish you had more time to read? I hear this a lot from moms and busy women. Well, guess what-- I wrote you a book!

My latest ebook is called Read More: why and how to make time for reading amidst the busyness of life, and it's free for my newsletter subscribers. Sign up for The Scoop, if you haven't already, and you'll get your free download emailed to you today.

2. A new photo wall collage

super awesome photo wall

I moved some furniture around recently that revealed a narrow blank wall in my living room. This is quite unusual for me, as I seem to have an aversion to blank walls and have most of them covered with art, photos, guitars or even a TV. Maybe someday, if I have a house with lots and lots of wall space will I leave some blank space. For now, in my tiny space, I can't seem to leave my walls be.

So, behind our couch we now have a cozy little pile of pillows and blankets; it's our new little reading nook and it's where we keep our library books. The kids love it. I came across a blog post by my friend Kacy and saw her photo wall, and realized I had seen something like that before-- I had seen the original tutorial years ago and loved it, but never thought I'd be brave enough to glue photos to my wall.

But then I thought about it. Hot glue peels off my counter super easy, and... why not? I suddenly felt bold enough to go for it, and I love the result. It makes me incredibly happy. You can see the full tutorial and lots of great tips on doing this over on Under the Sycamore.

 3. Foraying into the world of team sports

softball

We were a little nervous about entering the world of team sports. It's a big commitment and our lives are quite full already. Gigi's softball team is a couple weeks into their season, and Brody's t-ball team (which David is coaching) has their first game and Opening Day this weekend. Juggling games and practices, not to mention pictures and clinics and fundraising-- whew!-- it's a lot.

But we love baseball. And as we've jumped in, it really feels right. When we go to the ball parks, it feels like home, and getting to know the communities has been great, and makes us feel even more at home here than we already did. It's funny to see the different sub-cultures, too. Especially with softball. David has quite a bit of his own Little League experience but he's really noticed how different the softball sub-culture is-- funny socks, headbands, cheers-- totally different, and also silly, and well, fun.

Bonus~ one thing I'm not happy about: For the second year in a row, March caught me too quickly and I neglected to use my Anthro birthday discount. Boo-hoo. (Dreaming about this beauty and so many other things in the March lookbook. Flowy shirts and shorts combos are speaking to me.)

Gigi's camping party and 2 creative ways to use paper lunch bags

happy birthday Gigi I hope you enjoy this little party re-cap-- scroll down for a couple of easy DIY party projects.

Friday night was Gigi's birthday party-- her first drop-off party with a slew of little girls . It was lovely. Having only done parties where the whole family was invited in the past, I wasn't sure what to expect.

But with only my two little ones to get in the way of the big girls, the 5-7-year old crowd was remarkably easy to coordinate. The girls had a blast. My next-door neighbors were the only adults to stay and hang out and we had a great time with them-- and I enjoyed passing off my camera to one of them who offered to photograph the event.

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I love photography, but it was so refreshing to not have to be the one doing all documenting. He took dozens of photos (including ones of me-- shocking!) and I got to focus on Gigi and the girls instead of my camera.

When I saw this party on a friend's blog, I knew it would be the perfect way to sway Gigi away from a character-themed party (gag me!) and it was true. She loves camping, and well, I had her at s'mores for dessert (and hey, we still had a Frozen sing-along around the campfire).

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The meat of the party consisted of a "tent"-- an EZ-up with sheets tucked in and clothes-pinned around the sides. Inside were blankets to sit on, and the girls got to do finger-style rainbow looming, decorate wooden clipboards with camping-themed stickers and then use those for coloring printable coloring sheets that I found on Pinterest. The clipboards were their party favors.

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Gigi was dying for face painting, so while the girls (+ Brody) worked on their art projects and snacked (see below), I also painted their cheeks. They all looked loved.

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The kids also did a backyard scavenger hung -- finding a bug was the big challenge there. ;)

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For food, we served up organic hot dogs, caesar salad (Gigi's favorite), watermelon, chips & dip, carrot sticks and juice boxes, along with the super fun build-your-own trail mix bar (honey roasted peanuts, dried cranberries, chocolate-covered sunflower seeds, almonds & raisins), which was a hit.

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Gigi opened her presents around the fire pit, and then we lit the fire for dessert. While I ran inside to grab the sweets, the girls were getting a bit restless. "Why don't you guys sing Let it Go" was enough to send them into a contented singing frenzy. When I returned, I took a moment to pray for dear Gigi before we got to roasting.

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Dessert couldn't have been easier-- s'mores around the "campfire" and of course, we sang to Gigi over a flaming marshmallow instead of candle.

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She had a wonderful time, and I loved seeing my big girl so happy. Her actual birthday is May 7, so I'm looking forward to another special day of simple celebrating. Special thanks to my parents for letting us have the party in their backyard.

And now for a little DIY.

Being the classic ENFP that I am, I had great visions (and lots of inspiring pins) for this party, but of course, I waited till the last minute to do everything. So there I was, the morning of the party, trying to create a cute paper bunting by Gigi's request, and naturally, my Cricut wouldn't work. I threw in the towel, disappointed.

It was later, that I came up with an even better solution. I cut off the tops of some brown paper lunch bags to make little snack bags, and when I looked at the top halves sitting in a pile, I wondered what we could do with them. Inspiration struck and sure enough, they made a perfectly rustic bunting that Gigi loved (and got to help make).

paper bag DIYs

2 ways to use paper lunch bags for rustic party décor

These are fun projects to do with your child!

Supplies:

Trail mix bags for a build-your-own trail mix bar

The first thing we made was the snack backs. I cut off the tops of the bags leaving a short bag about 3-4" tall. Gigi labeled them for "trail mix" and then I hole punched two holes in the front side to tie a little baker's twine bow through for a dash of cuteness.Voilà!

Rustic bunting

Take the paper bag tops and gently fold them in half where their seam is and trim off a diagonal piece leaving you with a slightly triangular bottom.

Have your kid label each one with a letter (on the side without the seam)-- ours said "CAMP GIGI!" on it in two colors.

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Punch two holes in each pennant and then lay them out on the ground. Measure a piece of raffia and a piece of baker's twine long enough to span the pennants and have about a foot of extra on each end. Thread twine/raffia through the pennants.

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Hang to display! Ours went on the front of our art "tent" and then we saved it to hang over Gigi's bed. I love simple these projects were and that Gigi could get involved. Sometimes when technology doesn't cooperate, we all win.

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Happy camping!

Pinterest to Real Life: April 2014

I'll be honest, this wasn't my most productive month ever. I had high hopes for things I pinned and wanted to actually do, but just didn't get to. pinterest to real life 2014 button

At home

Untitled

We rearranged our bedroom a bit this month-- I love the motivation that having houseguests gives to really get things streamlined and organized. My sewing desk and all that that entails moved into our master bedroom closet and David's dresser and our TV moved out (we're going to mount the TV on the wall).

I finally got something I've been really wanting, to organize my thread collection (I bought it on Amazon), and I also moved my baby food jars of supplies to a shelf I recently got from my mom that my grandpa made. Now to tackle that huge mending pile under the desk.

I was really inspired & encouraged by this post by Ann Voskamp to bring more gratitude into my children's lives. So we're working on that.

In the kitchen

I tried a fun experiment one week in March-- I slow-cooked for four days in a row. It definitely seemed to save some money and time. I try to use my slow-cooker at least once a week normally, and definitely will continue to do so.

Here are the recipes I made that week: 

In the schoolroom

I found a couple of neat printables this past month. 

What have you been up to this month? Made any good new recipes or completed any projects?

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4 ways to use Pinterest secret boards

Pinterest just announced that they're giving us unlimited secret boards (thanks, Pinterest!). Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 2.58.43 PM

There are some obvious ways that we might use the secret boards-- ideas for a surprise party, gift ideas for a special person, or private pins that we don't want to reveal for one reason or another.

But there are also some less-obvious ways that I use secret boards. I shared some of these in the first edition of my newsletter, but when I read the announcement about secret boards I thought it'd be nice to write these tips up and share them in an expanded, well, pinnable format for you.

4 ways to use pinterest secret boards

 

4 Ways to make Pinterest Secret Boards work for you

1. For bookmarking things you want to keep... secret.

This sounds obvious at first, but a couple of specific ways I've done this is bookmark articles for a large project I'm working on (or may work on someday) and also bookmarking visually pleasing sites for a design palette.

When I was having Oana redesign my header and artwork, I gave her permission to view one of my secret boards (yep, you can collaborate on or share secret boards with specific people) so that she could have an idea of what kind of blog art I liked. It made it easy for her to define what I was looking for without me having to try to just explain it with words.

I also have a secret board called Save for Later where I bookmark sites/articles I want to come back to, although now that I've discovered the Chrome extension OneTab (seriously if you need to go to a Tabs Anonymous program like me, this extension will change your internet-browsing life), I'll probably phase that board out.

2. Current Eats

I love my current eats board. I have to give a shout-out to my friend Rena, who first gave me the idea for a board like this. Since I use Pinterest so much for meal planning, this board has really simplified and organized my life.

Each week when I plan out my meals, I take any recipes I'll be using and re-pin  them to my Current Eats board. I have a lot of food boards (ice cream, other sweets/snacks, recipes to try, favorites, smoothies/drinks, paleo-ish stuff, breakfast) so to have to search through all of those at 4:30pm when I'm trying to get dinner going (while also keeping my kids from complete witching-hour meltdowns) to find a recipe I pinned a few weeks before is bit of a pain.

Now, when I go to my Current Eats board I see a handful of pins that I'll be using that week, there for easy access. When I've used them, I delete them from the board (although I leave a one or two there that I use often). This doesn't delete the original pin, just the version on the secret board. At this time, I also decide if I want to re-pin the recipe to my Favorites board or totally ditch if it was a complete fail.

3. Current Projects

My latest way of using secret boards is similar to the previous idea but for projects. I have a lot of ideas collected-- on boards like Make & Do, Home Sweet Home, Sewing, and Kid-Friendly Art & Crafts that I often forget about. A new way I'm trying to intentionally try out more of the ideas I'm planning is to re-pin them here.

During the weekend, I'll sit down and browse through my own boards for a handful of ideas or projects that I want to tackle, try or implement in the next week. I'll re-pin them to my Current Projects board so that they are handy and I also write them down in a list in my planner (like I do with my meal plan) so they are visually handy even when I'm not on Pinterest.

4.  Currently: Pinterest to Real Life

My newest secret board is where I will keep track of new pins I try for Pinterest to Real Life. Each month I sit down to recap what pinspiration I've brought to real life and again, I'm a bit overwhelmed, looking through over 60 boards and over 2,000 pins, to try to remember which ones I used that month.

So now I will move them from Current Eats or Current Projects, or re-pin them from anywhere, right to my Currently: Pinterest to Real Life board, so that when I comes time to write up my post, they're all in the same place. I'll probably even make notes in the description box on how I liked the recipe or if I had a particular thought about the project that I want to remember.

Then, after I write that month's post, I'll simply delete the pins off that secret board (remember, this won't delete the original pin), and start fresh.

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 6.59.05 AM

Let's recap

Here are my four ideas for using Pinterest Secret Boards: for inspiration/articles to keep private, for current eats and current projects, and to keep track of pins I use in any given month.

My goal with these Current boards is make Pinterest work harder for me. It's not just a place where I find and collect pretty things. It is that, but so much more for me, too. It helps me organize and compartmentalize my very visual brain, and these secret boards help me to feel more productive in this inspiration-overload world we live in.

Well, I'm off to pin some secret pins... what about you? How do you use secret boards? I'm sure there are lots of ways that we could use them, especially now that we can create unlimited secret boards. That is, if it's not too big of a secret to tell us. ;)

Pinterest to Real Life: March 2014

Let's take a look at how we all used our pins in real life last month. This short month threw me for a loop... so many proposed projects, so little done. But I enjoyed celebrating my birthday and plowing through working on my eBook so I'm blaming those events along with The Cold That Would Never End. Enough excuses though... ;) Here's what did get accomplished/tried.

pinterest to real life 2014 button

Make & Do

make and do - Feb

Valentines! Gigi and I rocked these cute (healthy!) valentines together. See? Handmade doesn't have to be complicated.

I had tons of fun making a few of these loopy fork pom poms-- I definitely want to do more! This was a great pastime for doing during all the Olympics we watched. I can see where it will be a good baseball-watching craft, too. (Yay! Baseball! It's coming!)

On deck: I borrowed a wallet pattern from my mom because mine is falling apart. I'll be taking inspiration from this and this to adapt it to our cash system in attempting to sew myself the perfect wallet.

Learning

A while ago, Tsh shared a Spanish resource that I am finally using. It's short videos called Salsa from the Georgia Public Broadcasting network. Gigi has watched the first 2 episodes and then I've given her an activity today. For example lesson 2 was about caliente//frío/a and she cut photos out of magazines and then categorized them on a collage under either hot or cold. She loved it!

Gigi loves to read but has yet to pick up a chapter book and stick with reading it all the way through. I printed out this reading list for her and when she fills it up I will take her to B&N and buy her a new book!

Before we started the next Little House book for our read-aloud, we went through Jamie's virtual field trip of the Laura Ingalls Wilder homes. It was super fun!

In the Kitchen

I saw a pin that was essentially sloppy joe baked with cornbread on top. It stopped me in m ytracks. But then I looked closer and realized it was made from processed packed foods so I decided to whip up my own version with two favorites. So I made PW's Sloppy Joes and then topped them with this gluten-free cornbread that I've made a few times. It was amazing! And thankfully so, because I made it on a night we had new neighbor-friends over (I'm not afraid to experiment when company's coming).

More winners that will remain in our repertoire:

I shared one of the awesome ways I make Pinterest work for me in my first ever newsletter in February. If you missed it, you can subscribe now-- I'm going to send out an encore edition to those that signed up after it was sent.

Now it's your turn!

Tell us in the comments what pins you brought to life last month and whether they were successes or Pinterest fails-- everyone loves hearing about a good Pinterest fail. ;)

If you're a blogger, you can link up here! (And feel free to grab the button above!)

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Pinterest to Real Life: February 2014

It's hard to believe we're already over one month into 2014. Have you had a creative January? pinterest to real life 2014 button

Let's share how we took our pins and gave them life in the last month. If you're feeling less than successful in your endeavors, that's okay. No judgement here (you're not alone). All that matters is that you tried/created/cooked/baked/styled/etc something!

Make & do

organizing photos

Photo organization. Inspired by this pin, I decided to finally get caught up with digitally-made albums since I "retired" from scrapbooking over six years ago. I spent an entire day culling photos from 2013 from over 5,000 to down to 1,500 and then started putting them into a book.

The great thing is that I realized that I had the capabilities to make a Blurb book right in Adobe Lightroom-- no downloading a separate program! It's been awesome, as I can individually edit the photos as I put them in the layout. My only complaint? The layouts. I could do with a few more exciting options, but I'm making do with what they have.

I'm not even halfway done yet with this one, but I feel like I've made a lot of progress-- yay! And I did at least finish getting all of last year's photos backed up-- online, and on my new external hard drive (we got this one), too.

On the patios

whiskey barrels

Container garden. We are so excited to finally start gardening at our own home! I've been eyeing whiskey barrels gardens (like these, and these) and finally found a couple really nice ones at Home Depot and this week we got out and planted some seeds. I've only ever really gardened from seedlings so I'm a little nervous about starting with seeds!

As I type, God is watering our seeds with a bit of much-needed rain, so I'm hopeful that our snap peas, broccoli, carrots, chives and parsley sprout up soon. I also planted some new succulents, which I've got lots of inspiration for on my green thumb board. I also hung up my two hummingbird feeders!

In the kitchen

in the kitchen  P.S. I got a new kitchen window--woohoo!

New recipes tried this month: 

1 tip for making the most of Pinterest

I think a lot of the time, I pin projects-- sewing, crafty stuff, art-- and then promptly forget about it. I get to embrace my creativity in a lot of other ways throughout the month, but I do want to start attempting more of those projects.

I think taking a weekly gander (Maybe on Sunday as I look at the week ahead) at my make & do, sewing, and kid-friendly art & crafts (that's a hard one for me!) boards will keep those ideas fresh in my mind and maybe inspire me to tackle one or two more throughout the month.

And now it's time for you to share your creative successes and failures! What did you do with your pins this last month? Share in the comments (link to the pin or a photo if you can!), or if you blog, link up your blog post below! And one more thing! Do you have a sewing pinboard? Leave a link in the comments-- I'd love to check it out.

Linking up? Feel free to grab the button at the top of this post.

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Pinterest to Real Life: January 2014

I'm so excited for our first Pinterest showcase! Since I haven't shared one of these posts since last March, I figured I would just recap some of my favorite pins that I've been inspired by over the last several months. If you're new to this series, you can read all about how it works here.

Pinterest to Real Life: January 2014

Things made and done

Dyed eggs naturally.

Found costume inspiration for Angelina Ballerina and Waldo (made her rosette like this but sadly we lost it!).

Spruced up our patio with an outdoor chalkboard door.

Got together with girlfriends to make string art on reclaimed wood.

Helped Gigi learn to finger knit.

Although, she would rather rainbow loom. :) Good thing she made a homemade loom with her dad!

Attempted an ocean-inspired calming glitter jar, but we need more fine glitter in ours.

Interviewed the kids about Dad, Papa & Granpa (love this tradition).

New favorite recipes

Miscellaneous

I also made a lot of use out of the stuff I pinned to my learning board in our homeschooling-- so far it's mostly pre-k, kinder and 1st grade stuff). This weekend I'm hosting my first Favorite Things party with the girls from my community group, and I can't wait! David and I created a five-year plan and I figured out that I'm a renaissance soul.

Writing these posts helps me keep track of what I do (and thereby feel more productive- happy sigh) so I'm really looking forward to the monthly habit of taking stock of my pins. And you know what? Some months I don't do much with my pins. And that's okay, too! The last thing I want this challenge to do is put more pressure on us. But I know from past experience that it gives me just enough of a kick in the pants to get doing.

pinterest to real life 2014 button

Now it's your turn!

Leave a comment, telling us what did in real life after being inspired to pin and repin. If you're linking up, here are a few guidelines.

  • Feel free to grab this button if you are linking up!
  • Make sure to link back to this post in yours.
  • Link up to a specific post, not your main blog page.
  • Visit a couple other links; that way we can encourage one another in our pursuits!

Next month, I'll share a couple of your posts that I was inspired or encouraged by. :) Happy pinning and doing!

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Pinterest to Real Life: How it works

pinterest to real life 2014 buttonIt's been nine long months since we last linked up for Pinterest to Real Life, and I finally decided it was time to bring back to life the beloved monthly feature. Way back in September of 2011, I started hosting a monthly link-up to encourage all of us to not only bring our pins to reality, but to share our successes (and failures) with each other as well.

Now that Simple Homemade is no longer publishing new content, it's time for Pinterest to Real Life to be reestablished, right here at Gidget Goes Home. You can also keep track of all our link-ups by following my Pinterest to Real Life board.

Is one of your goals for the new year to be more creative? Do something with your pins? Put to use all the inspiration that you find in magazines, around the blogosphere, or directly from Pinterest?

That's what Pinterest to Real Life is all about. Let's start moving from consumption to production, from inspiration to creation.

Pinterest to Real Life :: Join us!

Here's how it works:

1. Find inspiring things. Pin them to your boards.

2. Take those project ideas and make, do, create, cook, style, decorate, bake, etcetera to your heart's content.

3. Blog about what you did with your pins. Your successes, your failures, your new favorites.

4. Come back to GGH during the first week of the month {as close to the 1st as I can}, and link up your blog post. {Not a blogger? That's okay! Just leave a comment telling us what you did.}

5. Sign up for my newsletter (new this year!) where I might share extra Pinterest project updates and tips on getting the most out of your Pinterest experience.

6. Post updates anytime on Instagram or Twitter on your projects with the hashtag #pinteresttoreallife.

That's it! So come on back tomorrow for our first link up of the year.