Thursday, August 27, 2015

Back to Blogging!

 Needless to say, I never intended for so much time to pass before posting again!  My break was wonderful and needful, but I really did miss this blog and all of you!  The days have been busy (the main reason I felt like I needed to take a break), but we've had many special moments too.  

 When I thought back over the past few months, we've had a lot of fun times... our annual trip to the beach, special time with family, precious time with friends.  All packing it in between the full days of work, school and chores. 

 During this time both of our girls had birthdays.  Rosetta turned four and Jillian turned seven.  They are ever so sweet and I try my best to soak in every moment as I know this time will pass quickly and I want to enjoy every stage.

You may remember from last year that my mom and I have a little flower business during the growing season.  We sell our bouquets from a roadside stand on the honor system (and also do some events).  This year has been a blast, since we have been even busier than last and we love every moment in the flower garden.  You just can't keep from feeling happy when you're surrounded by gorgeous blooms, butterflies and sunshine!  I'll do a separate post on some of our flower happenings so far!   

My vegetable garden was a little smaller this year.  I wasn't able to put anything away for the winter months, but it was completely stress free and we had plenty of veggies for the summer months.  As hard as this can be for me, I've tried to let some things go, or at least do them on a smaller scale... :-)

 I felt like I would be remiss if I didn't do a little update on house projects!  This past spring we had a lot of updates to our house, but many of them were more functional than pretty!  The main two updates were for efficiency reasons; we upgraded our HVAC unit (clearly nothing exciting to blog about) and purchased a new front door to replace the original (I know you're cringing here, and I totally understand, but I'll try to do a separate post on that!). 

As you can see from the picture above, we are nearly finished with our upstairs bathroom!  It's actually been at a standstill for a while... all that is left is a little bit of trim work and paint but we've happily been using it for several months now.We all love having another bathroom, as you can imagine!  And we are so happy with how it is turning out. 

 I cringe every time I remember grouting this subway tile with Justus, but love it so much that it might have been worth the pain! 

 I promise to do a separate post all about the bathroom once it's completely finished.  I knew I had to snap a couple quick photos though for this post since it has been so long!  As you can see from the photo above, I've been too busy lazy to finish painting, but I hope to find the motivation soon.  ;-)

   In other news, I did somehow succumb to signing up for Instagram in the meanwhile, and if you have it, you can find me there posting about little random things.  :-)  (Here's the link.)

Thank you for all your sweet comments and emails while I was away.  

Justus asked me frequently (especially lately) when I was going to blog again and I would usually respond teasingly with something like, "Well, when you give me some ideas of what to blog about!"  I think I'm inserting this because while it may not make for very exciting blog posts, I have a feeling my posts from now on may be a lot more of "daily life" than anything else.  I hope you don't mind... As the girls are growing older, I find the days are much fuller, but I do know that I miss writing here and don't want to say goodbye.  But if you feel like you'd like to chime in with some ideas, I am all ears!!  ;-)

Also, please tell me how you are and how your summer has been!  I have missed talking to you!  

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spring Blog Break

I wanted to post to let you know that I will be taking a blog break for a while.  This blog has meant so much to me the past few years - I never imagined all that it would bring, but more than anything, your friendships have meant the most.  I appreciate every visit, every kind word, every thought.  I have no doubt that I will be back at some point, likely sooner than later, judging by the sadness I feel writing this (smile).  Thank you for everything!

I hope you have the loveliest Spring. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Paper Playhouse: Art Projects for Kids & Giveaway

 Having two young girls that love to craft and create, I always find it a bit of a challenge finding art projects for them that are easy enough that they can work independently a little, projects that use materials we have on hand without having to run to the store, and turn out cute enough for them to proudly display and use.  In fact, I subscribed for a long time to a craft box that came monthly just because I became frustrated in trying to come up with projects, materials, etc. myself.  

So when I read that my friend, Katrina, had written a book that was all about awesome art projects for kids, I was so excited.  Not only because I was so happy for her, but I knew the book would be amazing and might just fulfill my criteria for art projects with my girls.  

I first met Katrina in New York City.  She was a fellow winner of the Country Living Magazine Blue Ribbon Blogger Award (in the crafting category) and in the little time I spent with her, I came to know her as very kind, very genuine and very creative.  I thoroughly enjoyed getting to visit and spend a little time with her, and since then, I've faithfully followed her beautiful blog and feel like I know her even better now. 

 What I didn't expect to happen when I received the book is that I would become so inspired.  I knew it would be beautiful and I knew after reading her blog for so long that her projects would be fun and sweet.  But I became so inspired to create with my girls, inspired to use materials we have laying around (like cardboard boxes and junk mail), and inspired to make art accessible to my girls.  So much so that I cancelled my craft box subscription, and fully intend to carve out a special "creative space" for my girls as soon as our upstairs/bathroom renovation is complete so that they can create whenever they like.  I've started saving little things, like certain cardboard boxes and paper scraps.  What I love about this book is that so many of the projects rely on recycled or up-cycled materials.  It makes crafting and art so accessible and enjoyable.

In the introduction, Katrina wrote a paragraph that I wanted to share because I feel like it epitomizes what I want art with my girls to be:

"In creating this book I have three goals in mind: to foster inspiration, to make art accessible, and to encourage adults and children to see the creative potential in castoff materials. I want you to feel as if you have permission. I want you to feel as if you have full access. And I want you to feel inspired! These projects are not meant to be created perfectly without a wrinkle, dent, or other “imperfection.” They are not meant to be replicated exactly or with great precision. Instead, they are meant to be used as a starting point. As an entryway into making art projects using paper, boxes, and books. They are meant to be enjoyed by children and adults alike."

 The book is filled with projects, many using materials that you would likely already have on hand.  For each project there are gorgeous photos, including step-by-step photos (a must for me) and a photo of materials. 

 Along with step-by-step photos, there are also step-by-step instructions.  I love that this gave us the confidence to follow along at first and then branch out a little on our own as inspiration struck. 

Photo Credit: The Paper Playhouse

 There are so many unique projects, including an Airstream trailer, a dollhouse, handmade books, mobiles, masks, and even a classic lemonade stand. 

I honestly feel like the projects in this book are meant for all ages.  There are some projects that worked great for my younger girls.  Even Rosetta, who is just 3 1/2, was able to participate hands-on, like making this paper crown.  She felt like she made it entirely by herself.  There are also some projects that require a little more assistance from an adult, depending on the age of your child, like the VW  bus pictured below.  Some of the projects are so cute I would make them myself to display, such as paper garlands. 

 This VW bus was a project that Jillian wanted to do so badly.  Justus actually did this project with her (so sweet) and I love how it turned out.

She added a few of her own little touches and has it on display in her bedroom.  Who knew that a milk box and duct tape could look so cute! 

Another fun project was making these crowns and wands.  This is a great example of using the template and step-by-step instructions in the book to make the project, but then letting your children use their imagination and creativity to decorate as they like.  I can even envision making these at a birthday party! 

 The truth is, I feel like I owe Katrina so many thanks for giving me the confidence I needed to foster an environment where my children and I can create together and enjoy doing so.  I think this book is special and unique and so very inspiring. I think you will love it as much as I do.  (You can also read more about her book here on her blog.)

Also, Katrina is kindly giving away a copy of her book to one Keeping It Cozy reader!  I'm so excited!


This giveaway is now closed.  The randomly selected winner was Debby!   

All you need to do is leave a comment in this post and I will choose a winner one week from today, next Wednesday, March 4, 2015.  You do not need to have a blog to enter, just be sure to leave your email address so I have a way of contacting you should you win! 

*For shipping purposes, the winner must provide an address in the US, Canada, or the UK.*

You can find The Paper Playhouse on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, or Quarry's book shop.

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