Sunday, December 18, 2011

Gifts and Gratitude

     I've been chronicling my gratitude, both through journaling and photos (primarily instagram.) It's helping me remember all the beautiful. I never want to stop. 

a peek into my journal. 
"the man in line, who paid for the stranger's lunch."

a blurry naked booty, running through the house. 

 Sweet Daddy/daughter time. 

surfers, always going against
the grain, inspires me to do the same.

 my view on morning walks. 

                                                         my other view on morning walks.

sparkly Christmas time, everything putting on it's shine. 

a toddler's design contribution: monkeys in a tree. 

little footprints that will never again be this size. 

the way He speaks to me over the deep. 
"Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves
and breakers have swept over me." 

and always, the eyelashes. 

What are the little gifts that you have been grateful for lately? 

Friday, December 16, 2011

DIY: Silhouette Ornament Tutorial

     As promised, in this post, here is the tutorial to make your own Silhouette Ornament! I made the original ornament of Adoration's profile on a craft night during my girl's mountain trip. I didn't have any photos or a printer, so for the original, I just drew the profile freehand from a picture saved on my iphone. Drawing isn't everyone's cup of tea, so this tutorial is much more user friendly! 

You will need:

    Since I already had an ornament of Adoration, I thought it would be fun to do a pet! This is my friend Erika's dog, Lola, as a puppy. My printer didn't print the top of her picture, so I sketched in the top of her head. ;) 

Cut out the profile, be sure to cut around the little details like eyelashes, wispy hairs, or in this case: the tip of Lola's tongue. It will give your silhouette character! 

Place the cut-out profile in the middle of your ornament ( I put a little piece of tape on the back so it 
wouldn't shift around.) Trace. 

Using a thin-tipped brush, paint the outline and fill in. The hardest part is painting the outline. 
You could use any combo of colors you desire, but I went classic with black, gold, and white. 

Paint around the silhouette in a contrasting color. Let it dry. 

When the front is dry, paint the back. I'm using the back as a chalkboard surface. You could use
actual chalkboard paint for this, but I just painted it black. 

When the back is dry, flip it back over and paint a border. I painted a scalloped border. 

The finished product! I added Lola's name to the front and left a chalk message on the back. 
Erika and Matt, get ready for a present in the mail!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Learning at Home: Button Tree Ornaments

     My daughter just loves playing with buttons, as seen here. I pulled out the buttons for some play time this morning and on a whim, turned her button play into a Christmas craft! It was super easy and Adoration was so proud of her little creations. 

Supplies: green craft foam 
1) Cut a Christmas tree out of foam. 
2) Spread some glue all over the tree. (I started by just doing a line of glue, but quickly figured out it would be more fun with the glue all over the tree.) Older kids can do this part themselves, but I was not about to hand my toddler the glue! 
2) Let your little one put buttons all over the tree, pressing them into the glue.  
* I demonstrated this for Adoration and she quickly got the idea. At one point she just started dumping as many buttons as she could on tree. I helped her a little bit, making sure all the buttons on the glue surface got pressed down, but mostly she did this herself!  
3) After the tree is dry, hot glue a loop of ribbon on to the back. 
4) Hang the little tree on to your big tree!

*This is a great activity for developing fine motor skills.  
*Talk to your child throughout the activity. Point out different colors, sizes and shapes. Talk about how the glue is "sticky." Adoration is at the point where she mimics the words I emphasize. Talking to your child is the best way to build their vocabulary! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Surprises are the best.

    The last couple of months have been quite the whirlwind, with our move and trying to make a home in a brand new place. I've also been dealing with some hard/stressful family stuff. So instead of putting myself out there and trying to meet new people, I've been a bit of a hermit. In the midst of an emotional time, forging new friendships just seems exhausting. I just want to be around the people that know me, love me, and that I don't have to explain myself to. 
    During an especially emotional/stressful week, the hubby said, "We've got to get you up to Charlotte with your girls." We are tight on our finances right now (still recovering from moving to a new state, it's expensive!) so I didn't even think a trip to Charlotte would be a possibility. Sometimes the heart is just more important than a budget, and my husband saw my need for some soul therapy. Our decision to send me to Charlotte just happened to coincide with a trip to the mountains the girl's already had planned. I hadn't planned on going on the trip when it was first planned because of our finances, but those plans changed! I schemed with my friend Jessie, and we decided to keep my coming on the trip a secret and make it a surprise! This involved me having to straight up lie on more than one occasion, with friends asking, "Are you sure you can't come on the trip??" 
    I flew into Charlotte the night before we were leaving for the mountains and stayed at Jessie's house. All the girls met up at her house the next morning so we could all caravan together. They had no idea I was there. Here is the video of the surprise. Brace yourself for lots of screaming....

Talk about making a girl feel loved! 

A girl's trip to the mountain was just what the doctor ordered. We left all our toddlers at home and were able to truly relax and enjoy each other.

To my loving husband:
Thank you for sending me on this trip. It was the best Christmas present ever.
your wifey. 

I love these gorgeous girls.  

photos by my amazing photographer friend, Anna of The Colorful Living Project.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

All the Trimmings

     I just got back from a mountain trip to Asheville with some of my Charlotte soul friends (a blog on the trip soon!)  But now I am back in south Florida, and it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here, ya'll! There are still some projects I might add on (there are lots of things I want to cover in glitter.) But for now, this is what we've got. Enjoy the tour of our Christmas bling!

This tree is always here. One side of our wall in our great room is mirrors and shelves (ughh...Florida.) So I found this huge branch that had fallen down, spray painted it turquoise, and stuck it behind our tv to help distract from the humongous mirror behind it (we have tall ceilings.) The glittery star is it's Christmas bling. 

Dining table centerpiece: mason jars, water & cranberries, and extra ornaments. 

 Advent calender on the chalkboard and crafted hymn page ornaments. 

birds and a Santa. 

Wine rack card holder. Currently more cards than wine. 

$4 ten thousand villages garland (souvenir from the mountain trip.) 

 and an ornament I crafted while on our mountain trip: a silhouette of my Adoration. 

I'm planning on having a tutorial up soon of the silhouette ornament! I'm kinda of in love with mine, pretty much cause my kid's face is on it. 

Hope you all are having a sparkly, happy Holiday season!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Learning at Home: A Toddler-Friendly Tree

     If you have ever gone to story time at the library, or if your child goes to preschool, you should be familiar with felt boards. They are a great learning/play tool for kids. You can use them for so many things: like telling a story, demonstrating shapes and sizes, as a place for dress-up dolls, or for counting games and learning letters. The possibilities are endless. Basically, they are both a great visual and hands-on learning aid for a wide range of ages and developmental levels. If you ever want to see examples of felt boards, just google "felt boards" and you will see a bazillion examples. 
     Going off the concept of a felt board, we made a felt Christmas tree! I just cut out the shape of a Christmas tree out of a big piece of felt (you can get felt at any craft store) and tacked it to the wall in Adoration's room.  I cut a star out and some circles for the "ornaments." You could go fancy and make more intricate ornaments (especially if you like to sew,) but I just kept it simple. And there you have it: a toddler friendly Chirstmas tree. 
     Adoration has loved playing with it, "decorating" and "un-decorating" her tree. Whenever she tries to take ornaments off our real tree, I say, "let's go play with YOUR tree!" Then I redirect her to her room, and we play with her tree for awhile. It actually works pretty well! So not only is it a fun activity, but a distraction from tearing all the ornaments of our tree. ;) To extend the learning elements, emphasize the shapes and colors during your child's play. Happy decorating! 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Holiday Happenings.

We've had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday around these parts. It was a much needed reprieve from the daily grind. To kick it off, on Wed. night, we took a little trip down to Miami to see the Black Eyed Peas! James
got the tickets off Living Social. And it's not like we are the Black Eyed Peas number #1 fan or anything, but  they are fun, and we needed a little fun in our life. And what better way than to go to an unpretentious, stadium dance party, hosted by the one and only Will-I-am? James' parents watched Adoration for the evening, and off we went, to dance all our cares away. 

And umm....not gonna lie, it was off the chain. Soooo fun. And we danced our lil' booties off. 

On the way to the show. Being goofy. 
 Stadium club. 
 Stadium stars. 

The next day, we hosted our first full Thanksgiving meal. The in-laws were in town and some friends who weren't able to be with family stopped by as well. I have to admit, I was pretty excited about it. It felt like some kind of adult right-of-passage or something. 

Hello, my name is Kristina, I cooked an entire Thanksgiving meal. I am now officially a grown-up.  

The menu. I added in some lemon-garlic asparagus to add some greens. 
Bread cubes for the stuffing. 

I gave James the job of buttering up the turkey. Butter is my secretweapon. It is the secret to truly moist turkey. We mixed butter with spices and stuffed it up underneath the skin of the turkey. Then I stuffed it with orange,lime, bay leaves and garlic. Then I poured boubon all down in the bottom of the pan. Then I made a maple glaze to pour on top. 
And to toot my own horn:
Ya'll this turkey was damn good. It made some damn good gravy too. One of our friend's said it was the best turkey he had ever had. James was practically drinking the gravy.
*pats self on back.*
Unfortunately, I failed to get a picture of the finished product. 
It was a thing of beauty though. 

The table on the patio. The weather down here in So Flo is 
delicious right now. I love that we had Thanksgiving outside! 

Starting a tradition: Turkey day corn hole. 

Like I said, it was a lovely holiday. Adoration got lots of good lovin' from her grandparents. We spent
Friday morning on the beach watching surfers (NOT shopping.) And today we are relaxing in this glorious weather. How did ya'll spend the holiday?

* And with holiday shopping in full swing, I wanted to mention this store. One of my sweet follower's is selling some of her clothes. She has lots of great stuff, including brands every one loves, like anthropologie. And this Mark Jacobs coat, which I'm drooling over. So go check it out!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving, everyday.

Our Friday activities: these black Friday lines sure are long. 

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here is my obligatory "thankful" post. I actually do a lot of gratitude posts here on the blog, mostly focusing more on the "little things." Because sometimes when it seems like a lot of the big  things are falling apart, there are little rays of hope and sunshine every day to help keep me going. 

But this post is about the bigger things. In fact, of all the things that bring me joy
every day, these are the things that I am most grateful for:

My faith. I know that no matter what, I am my Father's daughter and that He loves me with an everlasting love and that in this messed up, broken world, that He is always good and never changes. That in Jesus, I see the face of God, and His loving ways revealed to my heart. He has never, ever failed me. I am so thankful for His love for me that is deeper than any ocean and stronger than any power in earth or in heaven.

My husband and my daughter.  They are such tangible, good gifts. If people were made in the image of God, well then, these people were sent personally to me to help reveal to me His face. I love them with the fiercest of loves, and gratitude rises up in my heart every time I look at them. They are my sweetest gifts and I try to hold them with open hands.

Family. Like lots of families, mine is pretty messy, but I love them, and I know they love me, and I don't take them for granted. 

My friends. I've been particularly grateful for my friends these days. Even though we still don't know many people or have many friends down here in Florida, my sweet friends have been so supportive, even from afar. Just knowing that they got my back brings me so much comfort. They are my soul sisters and I love them. 

And I'm thankful for life, health, freedom, a roof over my head and food to eat, and all those "little things" that really do make my world go round. 

I hope all of you had a happy Thanksgiving full of family, love, gratitude, and yummy food. Let's not forget the food. :) 


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Learning at Home: Ice Cube Sensory Play

     I've got to be honest with you, I've been kind of slacking on our "learning activities" around here.
It's been crazy and I just haven't had the mental capacity to do much planning.  But really, the whole point of this feature is to make learning activities for babies/toddlers/preschoolers accessible to every one.  To prove that you don't have to be super-mom or super-teacher to do it. Well friends, I am neither. 

     Most learning activities are deceptively simple. Which is good, because even on the worst days, I can handle simple. Case in point: this activity. All I did was throw some ice cubes in a container. And it provided a good 30 minutes of sensory play ( some, walk away, come back, play some more.)  I realize ice cube sensory play may be bad timing for November, but hey, we live in Florida! Get creative though, you can turn just about anything into sensory play. 

Ice cubes, some water, measuring cups, spoons, and a little food coloring (if you add color, I recommend washable watercolor paint cause the food dye stained our hands!)

I made a makeshift sensory table using our lego table and a baking pan. I just blocked the pan in with 
some legos so it wouldn't slide around. This way Adoration could stand up and play. 

She decided it would be fun to deposit the ice cubes all over our patio. 

Then she added some legos. Always more fun with legos. 

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