Simple DIY Bead Necklace Patriotic Wreath
Last year around Independence Day, I spotted some red, white and blue bead necklaces at my local Dollar Tree and was immediately inspired to create a new patriotic door decoration.  Each pack came with eight necklaces so I grabbed 4 packs of each color for my project.  I made a quick stop at Michaels to grab a foam wreath and some burlap ribbon and I was on my way.
This bead necklace patriotic wreath took under an hour to pull together and cost me less than $20.  It is a very simple looking wreath but it has a big impact from the street.  Originally, I had considered adding a second layer of beads to cover the wreath more fully.  But, I liked having the white pop through because it felt more rustic to me, for some reason.  I just love how this wreath turned out and it makes me so happy to see it on our door!  
Easy DIY Patriotic 4th of July Wreath

Foam wreath
Red bead necklaces
White bead necklaces
Blue bead necklaces
Hot glue
Hot glue gun
Large Burlap ribbon
I started by cutting the necklaces open with my scissors.  

Then, I placed a dollop of hot glue directly on the wreath.

I quickly placed the end of one of blue strands on the hot glue.

Then, I wrapped the necklace around the wreath, making sure I nestled each loop onto the glue as I went along.  I kept adding glue and wrapping necklaces until I had covered about 1/5th of the wreath in blue bead necklaces.

Then, I added in my red bead necklace, nesting the end into the hot glue.

Just like with the blue bead necklaces, I wrapped the red necklaces around the foam wreath, making sure that each loop was nestled in glue to secure.  Once I had about three inches of red, I added in the white bead necklaces using the same method.

I alternated adding roughly 3 inches of red and white bead necklaces until I had 13 stripes.  I didn’t worry too much about how much glue I used or how it looked because the glue would be in the back of the wreath.

Now, before you judge me for having fifteen stripes on my wreath, allow me to explain…  I wanted to be sure that thirteen stripes would be visible on the wreath, so I added a couple more stripes that would be covered with the burlap ribbon.  I decided it would be best to continue the pattern, rather than leave that part of the wreath empty, so that it would look cohesive if the burlap didn’t completely cover that section (which it didn’t).

I looped my burlap ribbon around the wreath, covering most of the two extra stripes, and made a big bow at the top.  And it’s done!   

A super simple, inexpensive and cute wreath perfect to celebrate patriotic holidays!


I love it!

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If You Give a Teacher a Student…  (Teacher Appreciation Gift)

Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week and, as usual, I picked up gift cards for each of Lovebug and Littlebug’s teachers.  While I know that gift cards are the most practical gifts for teachers, I find them to be really impersonal.  So, I like to include something thoughtful (like
this, this or this) to convey how much we truly appreciate the fabulous teachers we have been blessed to have in our lives.

This year, I made cards based on the popular children’s book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Joffe Numeroff.  Have you read the book?  It is so clever and fun for kids of all ages!

Lovebug’s loves this book (check out some of Lovebug’s other favorite books here) so it was fitting to create a card based on the same concept.  After lots of thought and many iterations, I ended up with a heartfelt card that, I feel, reflects the role teachers play in their students lives.

I couldn’t be happier with how the cards turned out and our teachers loved them!!


Give a teacher a student 2

Here’s how I made them…

If you give a teacher a student poem (below)
Colorful card stock, cut to 5 1/2 x 8 and folded in half so the 5 1/2 sides meet
Glue stick


Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures as I went along. But, the process was pretty easy so I’m pretty sure an explanation will suffice.

I simply printed the poem on paper, setting the paper size 1/4 inch smaller than my card stock  on all sides.  I ended up spreading the poem over 2 pages, leaving room on the bottom of the second page for a hand written note.  I also created a simple cover for the card.

Then, I cut the paper and glued the poem onto the card stock.

We signed the cards with a little note, tucked the gift card inside and sealed the cards into our envelopes.  

Easy-peasy and super cute!

If You Give a Teacher a Student
Based on the book If you Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff

If you give a teacher a student, they’re going to teach them things like math, science and grammar.
When they teach these subjects, the students will get smart and excited about learning.
When they get excited about learning, they will become curious about other subjects.
So, the teachers will indulge their curiosity through experiments and hands on learning.
As they teach their students, teachers will realize that they don’t just spend their day teaching, but they spend time coaching, loving and nurturing too.
So, they’ll probably give their students praise and positive reinforcement.
They’ll get carried away and they may even end up giving hugs and affection too!
When teachers are done, students will have a solid foundation of education to build upon.
Then, the students will apply their education in their careers. 
They might be successful engineers, doctors, lawyers, nurses or teachers.
And chances are, if the students are successful in the future,
They have a teacher, like you, to thank for it.

I used the poem in a card, but it would be adorable tucked in a frame as well.   Plus, you can edit the poem to personalize it even more, if you like.  The possibilities are endless!
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10 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
This post contains affiliate links.  But, all opinions are 100% mine.
Happy Earth Day, everyone!  Isn’t EARTH the greatest?  No seriously, it provides us with food, water and oxygen so we can sustain life.  Without it, we would literally cease to exist and I think that we all take that for granted sometimes.  
So, in honor of Earth Day, I thought I’d share with you some of the things our family is already doing as well as some new ideas we are implementing to reduce our carbon footprint.  All of these things are easy to do and most of them cost little to nothing to implement!  So, they are little effort with huge impact!  Hooray for a healthy planet!

1.  Use Reusable Grocery Tote Bags

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Do you have a mountain of plastic grocery bags in your home?  I hate to admit it, but we do.  We own reusable grocery tote bags, but unfortunately, aren’t always in the habit of bringing them to the store.  So, I’ve started leaving the reusable bags in our cars so we always have them on hand.  No more excuses for using the plastic grocery store bags!  

2.  Use reusable produce bags

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There are a couple ways of doing this.  You could invest in these reusable bags (above) so you avoid the plastic produce bags at the store or you could simply reuse the plastic ones the store provides by washing them out and using them again.  This is something new we are implementing in our home.  Eventually, I’d like to invest in the mesh bags above, but for now, we will reuse the plastic produce bags that we already have in our house from previous shopping trips. 

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3.  Wash and reuse Ziploc freezer bags
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Growing up, my mom used to wash and reuse Ziploc Freezer bags and I never gave it much thought until recently.  It occurred to me a couple months ago that she is a genius for doing this because (1) it reduces waste and (2) it saves money!  This is another new thing we are doing in our house.  
4.  Compost
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We have been composting for a couple years now and couldn’t be happier.  We started with a single barrel compost tumbler, but learned the hard way that a Dual Compost Tumbler is much more effective.  The dual system allows you to have one side that you are actively composting while the other side has useable compost.  What do you do with compost?  Well, we mix ours into the soil for our garden.  It’s full of nutrients and is absolutely lovely!  

This is one of the most expensive suggestions on my list, but in my opinion, it’s worth it.  So, if you can afford it and are interested, take the plunge!  I was a little intimidated by composting at first, but it is so easy to do with these bins!   Our local Costco brought in a dual compost tumbler for a pretty reasonable price so we scooped one up to replace our old one.  But, we ended up keeping it so we have three bins to work with.  🙂   You could also compost without a bin (free, except for some tools).  Here’s a great tutorial for composting without a bin.  
5.  Grow an herb and/or vegetable garden
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My Love and I didn’t start out with the greenest thumbs, but we quickly learned a lot about planting and maintaining a garden.  We started with some herb boxes in our apartment but put in a Square Foot Garden when we bought our house so we could maximize the herbs and vegetables in our garden.  The book is fantastic with lots of information about when to plant different things, how much sunlight and water plants need, etc.  

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There are tons of benefits to growing your own herbs, vegetables and fruits…  (1) You know what you’re eating because you are controlling what goes on and in your garden, (2)  you are saving money because produce can be pricey where seeds and plants have much higher return on investment (3)  you can harvest what you need and not end up wasting anything and (4)  you aren’t purchasing items that are packaged in plastic!  


6.  Recycle

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This one is pretty obvious.  Most, if not all, cities offer a recycling service.  For some, you have to sort the items, but we’re spoiled where we live and can just dump it all in one bin.   

7.  Print on both sides 

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This is a super quick and easy way to reduce paper waste.  Just change your printer settings to have your printer print on both sides.  If you don’t have a printer with dual side print capabilities, you could just feed the paper back through to print on the back.  It might take a little more effort, but hey, you’ll be saving trees!
8.  Unplug electronics when not in use
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Did you know that some electronics continue to use electricity even when they are turned off and/or are not on the charger?  It’s true!  TV’s, cell phones, phone and computer chargers, etc. all continue to siphon power even when the electronic is turned off!  By simply unplugging devices that aren’t in use, you can save electricity, which not only saves the planet but also saves you money!!  For larger electronics, like TV’s and gaming units, you can plug them all into a power strip that you can power off when not in use.  For chargers, just unplug them when they aren’t charging devices.  Not only does this suggestion not cost you anything, it saves you money!!  
9.  Use CFL‘s
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CFL bulbs use up to 75% less energy and last longer than traditional batteries, which means less waste!  So, next time you buy light bulbs, consider switching to CFL’s if you don’t use them already.  

10.  Use gift bags instead of wrapping paper

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Most wrapping paper is not recyclable and ends up in land fills.  So, instead of purchasing wrapping paper, consider switching to gift bags.  They accomplish the same result and they can be used over and over and over again.  Which means – no waste!
There are so many ways to reduce your carbon footprint and be more green, it can be overwhelming.  But, you don’t have to completely change your lifestyle and/or go to extremes.  Every little bit counts, so implement the changes that work for you and your family and that you can maintain long term.  That is what we did and once we form new habits, we research and incorporate new ways to reduce our impact on the world.
Happy Earth Day!!
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Family Fun Easter Games

Since Valentine’s Day was on Saturday this year, I decided to prepare a few quick and fun games for my family to play before we enjoyed our usual homemade surf and turf dinner.  I’ll share the details about those games close to Valentine’s Day next year.  But for now, I’ll tell you that we had so much fun that we decided to make Valentine’s games an annual tradition. 

Why am I telling you this?  Because, apparently, our Valentine’s Games inspired my sweet Lovebug to plan some Easter games for our family to play this weekend.  Honestly, could she be any cuter?  

I wanted to be sure we had all the supplies for the games she had planned, so we talked through and tested them today.  Here are the games Lovebug came up with:

Classic Egg on a Spoon Race
Egg Race
Traditionally, this game is played by having each person place a raw egg on a spoon and racing from one point to another.  But, we are playing with a five year old, so we will be using hard boiled eggs that we decorated for Easter.  Less mess = less clean up = happy mommy.


Egg in Balloon Toss

Egg in Balloon TossMy creative child came up with this one on her own.  She wanted to put an egg in a balloon then, essentially play a game of catch.  The challenge was that the balloon would go up, like a normal balloon would, but then the egg would hit the bottom of the balloon mid-air and the balloon would come crashing down super quick.  The object of the game is to keep the egg from cracking in the balloon.  If the egg cracks, both the thrower and the catcher would be out.  Since there was only three of us playing, that meant that the person not participating in that particular turn won.  But, if you have a big group, you can have extra materials on hand so you can continue playing until there is one person left.  
Notes: We found that sometimes the balloon would pop but the egg would survive.  So, extra materials are kind of necessary for this game.  We also learned that this game can be messy.  In one turn, the balloon popped and the egg cracked at the same time… on Lovebug’s head.  I’m so glad that this game was her idea and not mine! 

Here’s how we got the egg into the balloon:Egg in Balloon Toss 2


1. Carefully pull the balloon open.

2.  Have someone with super cute hands carefully press the balloon into the opening.  Note: Cute hands are optional, but really helpful.  
3.  Gently, walk your fingers up, while moving the egg down into the balloon.
4.  Then blow the balloon up, like you normally would.

Lovebug had a few more games planned but they were either not logistically possible or they weren’t actually games.  For example, one game she came up with was to put an egg in water and see what happens.  I’m pretty sure that isn’t a game, and if it was, it would be the longest. game. ever.

Here are the games I came up with / found online and added to the mix: 

Egg Blowing RaceBlowing Egg Race

Create a race track by laying washi or other tape on a table.  Make sure that the track is at least 4 inches wide and that all the players will be able to access the track in it’s entirety (i.e. little players might have trouble getting all the way through the track if it is in the center of the table).  Place a raw egg at the beginning of the track and have each participant take turns blowing the egg to get it to the finish line.  The trick here is that yolk in the egg will move around causing the egg to meander left and right as you blow.  The object of the game is to get the egg to the end of the track without it going outside of the race lines.  You could also time this game.
Weighted Egg

Weighted Egg
In this game, we gathered 10 plastic eggs and filled each one with increasing number of jellybeans, starting with 1, then 2, then 3, and continuing until we ended with 10.  Then, we closed the eggs and mixed them up.  The object of the game was to put the eggs in order, starting with the one with one jelly bean and ending with the one with ten jelly beans, by feeling their weight and/or shaking them.

Egg Sticker Picker Upper

I found the instructions for this game here.  They have a bunch of Easter Game ideas and this one is Game 3.
Egg Sticker Picker Upper

I can’t wait for Easter!!  We are a pretty competitive family, so this should be interesting! 

Are you doing anything fun to celebrate Easter?  I’d love to hear about games you have planned so we can add to our collection!

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Valentine’s Day String Heart Door Decoration
I don’t know about you, but my Pinterest feed has been full of Valentine’s Day gifts, decorations and foods.  I love all the brilliant ideas I’ve seen but there is one thing that keeps catching my eye – String Heart Decorations.  They are absolutely adorable and look relatively easy to make. 
So, I decided to update my front door Valentine’s Day Wreath with a String Heart Door Decoration.  I love how it turned out, so bright and colorful, and get so happy every time I pull up to our house! 
String Heart 2
Here are the materials I used in my project:

12×12 Wood Panel from Michaels
White Paint – had on hand
12×12 paper – to draw heart on
#18 x 5/8 inch nails from Home Depot
Pink String from Home Depot
Pink Ribbon
Staple Gun

There are tons of tutorials out there, but this one lays things out step by step and was easy to follow.  I loved the look of it, but because I planned on hanging this on my front door, I wanted the heart to be filled in more so it shows better.  So, I followed this method  (sorry to send you to my pin – I couldn’t find the original source) for arranging the string. 

String Heart 1Once I had my string heart made, I stapled some ribbon to the back of my wood panel and made a bow to hang my adorable string heart decoration up with.  


String Heart 3

So cute!  
Are there any Valentine’s Day ideas you’ve seen on Pinterest or elsewhere that you love?  Let me know.  I’d love to see them!
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