DIY Bracelets for BFFs

Moving is tough ya'll. I'm not just talking about the ridiculously large furniture you have to heave around or the process of carefully wrapping each dish in bubble wrap or the large amounts of wine you have to drink (that one could just be me). I mean the change in routine, getting used to new surroundings, and moving away from everything familiar. The week we moved into this house, Kaley, my eight-year-old, came out of her room one night and just said, "I want things to be normal again". I feel ya babe. Even a month in, I still feel like I'm visiting. It's echoey and stark and I can't wait to get some pictures on the walls. We'll get there... until then, enjoy your folding chair.

Along with an unfamiliar house, we moved away from some friends. Not too far away, but farther than a quick trip down the street. Friends she would see weekly are now more like friends she might see twice a year. Such was the case when we moved 3 years ago. Kaley had a best friend named Addison and at the time, she was really young. I think they were both 4 when we moved. So they used to call each other "best friends" and dress like princesses and giggle a lot and we thought it was cute. I honestly thought they'd lose touch and each make new besties in Kindergarten when we left. I was so wrong.

These two girls have remained devoted BFFs for years now via the good old fashioned pen pal method. It's so cute to see how excited she gets when there's a letter waiting for her to open with some hand made treasures inside. Stickers, bracelets, crafts, drawings... it's all there. So when we found the Text Cool™ Bracelet Studio (available at Target, Walmart, Amazon and Toys R’ Us), Kaley immediately got to work crafting her latest gift for her long-distance BFF.

Text Cool comes with a little machine, or "studio" that actually punches the designs in the bracelets you choose. There are two wheels with a variety of letters and emoticons to design from. And the kit came with 35 bracelets and clasps, so tons to choose from (or start over if you happen to misspell something... not that that happened. Ahem). It's also virtually mess-free, which I LOVE. No glue, scissors, or glitter of any kind. Win! Perfect craft to let the kids run wild with while making dinner.

I helped make the first one and then she was off to the races even happily showing her brother how to make his own. Just slide the bracelet in, turn the wheel to the letter or picture you want, and punch. You could probably crank a new bracelet out in a minute.

I think Austin made a bracelet for his favorite soccer team, college football team, cousins, friends, the dog... you know, the usual. We also thought these would make good labels for their school items if you just cut off the ends... which I might do if they left me any blank bracelets. 

They both decided that since the girl on the box was wearing 16 bracelets, that they each needed 16 bracelets. : | "Just one more, Mom!" *spin, spin, spin, click, punch, punch* "Next!"

After the initial bracelet frenzy died down a bit, Kaley got to work on her latest pen pal creation for Addison. She wouldn't let me take pictures of the entire latest letter she received but this little drawing was too cute not to share. There was also some tape and the line "We'll alway stick together". These girls crack me up.

Pink was the color of choice this time while creating two for her BFF. And since these bracelets can be stretched out flat, they are really easy to mail with no extra postage. :) Bonus.

Really cute and really easy to personalize. Cool Brands also makes a variety of other craft kits, including Knit's Cool too which apparently makes knitting really easy for kids (and adults that have no idea what they are doing!). I'm totally saving that one for Christmas since she's been reading "Judy Moody" lately and Judy is a big knitter. I had no idea but I like the idea of my kid making a scarf. Ha!

After she finished her letter and drawings, they showed off their bounty of arm decor. I don't know if she quite got to 16, but I'm pretty sure there is one in there that says "DOGS  CATS". I'm willing to bet they might have been getting a little short on ideas around number 12.

Austin's selection wasn't too shabby either. (And his freckles are the best!)

So if you're looking for an easy craft for the little ones, a great Christmas gift for a creative kid, or a way to craft personalized gifts for your bestest long distance BFF, Text Cool has you covered.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


Share the Joy 2015

I am so excited to be partnering with World Market again this year for their Share the Joy campaign. They sponsored this post and campaign. Read on to find out how we worked together to make 18 kids' lives just a tiny bit better.
If you've been with me a while, you might know that two years ago I worked with World Market (because they are awesome) on their Share the Joy campaign. Basically, they gave me a bit of a shopping spree in their store to help renovate a local children's foster home. Several of my blogging buddies helped out and we worked our tails off for two days making over a space at the Central Florida Childrens' Home. It was THE BEST blogging thing I've ever done. Incredibly rewarding, eye-opening, and a great teaching moment for my own children... not to mention we helped out 15 foster kids. Well today, Share the Joy is back for 2015 and I'm checking in with the Childrens' Home to see what I can do this year. Come along...

So first, what is Share the Joy? Now through November 25th, Cost Plus World Market is giving away a $2,000 World Market Gift Card + $2,000 for a charity of your choice each week, for 4 weeks. Can you imagine?! You win $2,000 in World Market swag and get to give $2,000 to charity. So cool and they are doing it 4 times. For a chance to win, click here. Easy peasy.

When I got the email that Share the Joy was back, I immediately contacted the Children's Home to see what their needs were. And it turns out something really basic, towels. Lots of towels. With now 18 children living in the home and 18 showers happening everyday, their towel stash was quite worn out. I was totally ready for them to say toys for the kids or presents or some gift-type items. Nope. Reality check. Towels... something I admittedly take for granted daily. Kids in tow... I was off to World Market to make a tiny difference.

Early Sunday morning the kids and I grabbed a cart and shopped for what we thought would make most sense. Last year when I visited I remember that the girls had a bathroom and the boys had a separate one. So we kept that in mind. There were lots of pretty options (a few that will be making an appearance in my own house). I love the stitching detail on these coral towels.

And Kaley, my 7-year-old, begged me for these purple ones for her bathroom.

We ultimately chose the White Chevron Spa Bath Towels for both bathrooms (I was thinking bleachability) then spiced those up with designated coral and blue hand towels and washcloths for each bathroom. My assistant was very enthusiastic about our efforts. ;)

Then, to make things a little more special, I picked up some ribbon to tie everything together. 

I just love all the eye-candy in World Market's gift section. The beautiful journals and sketch books would make great stocking stuffers and look beautiful in holiday gift baskets... especially for my designer coworkers.

So once we got home I put everything together and arranged a drop off time. And it dawned on me... I can probably do more.

So, I sent off another email to the Community Investment Council at my day job. You may or may not know this but... I work for a book publisher by day. Sooo, we have books. Lots of books. And I don't know about your school district, but mine requires my kids to read 20 minutes a night. So what kid couldn't use some new things to read when you're reading that often? And, they enthusiastically said yes. :) Tada! Happy faces all around.

So, I loaded up my car with books and towels and headed over.  The house "dad" was so appreciative and posed for this slightly blurry/sweaty picture with me when I arrived. He talked about the 18 children currently living under this roof (ages 5-17), some of their situations, and the fact that they had a waiting list of more children who needed a foster home. I'm already motivated to do more. The wheels are turning.

And, since I was so curious, they took me back to the offices we renovated two years ago and they look EXACTLY the same! The office manager Natalie told me she loves it so much she doesn't let anyone change anything. haha! The only big difference was the chalkboard wall we added. It was loved and used over and over again which made me so happy.  She said the kids just love it and write notes every time they are there.

See? Right in the feels I tell ya.

I hope you are motivated to Share the Joy this holiday season. My books and towels really only took a couple emails, some sweat equity, and a couple trips in the car. I can't wait to see where else I can do some good.

Be sure to head over to see how these other bloggers are sharing the joy this holiday season!

The Small Things | Real Reviews by Savvy K | Simply Southern Mom | Persia Lou

Flamingo Toes | Mom Favorites | While They Snooze | The Cottage Mama | Ciburbanity


Sophisticated Style that Works for a Busy Family

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Unstopables through their partnership with POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by POPSUGAR to write a post about Unstopables, all opinions are my own.

The big move is so close. We’re days away from moving into our fancy-pants, custom home. It still doesn’t seem real to me. My husband and I have had a running joke for the last year saying “It’s not real until…” and they we add whatever the next phase of construction was. And then once that phase was actually done, we’d change it to, “Well, it’s not really real until…” and the game would go on forever. However, I’d like to think the game ends when we pull up in the moving truck, which is supposed to be next week!

On top of the stress excitement of moving, we decided to add a smidge more to our plates and get a dog. (I introduced him on Instagram earlier this week) I know, genius, really. Long story of how he ended up with us but the important part is he’s here and making the move with us. Meet Ceasar.

Now, don’t get me wrong, he’s adorable, but he’s also a dog. A large one… in my brand-new house. And dogs come with dirt and messes and smells. They just do. We had our last Doberman for 12 years and I know all about the small army it takes to keep a house looking and smelling fresh when you’ve got a furry beast that weighs almost as much as you roaming around (not to mention 2 kids). So, today I thought I would reveal my little budget-friendly secrets for keeping my house stylish and fresh while really living here.

First, repurpose what you already have in a new way. I received this pitcher as a wedding gift. It’s hand blown glass in a gorgeous shade of blue and I love it. What you can’t see is that at some point, it developed a giant crack down the side and no longer holds water. But, it can hold washcloths in my guest bath like a boss. It’s unexpected yet functional and pretty.

Little touches like that make my home a little more special and cost nothing. I also store Q-Tips in a small glass (Goodwill is a great place for odd glasses!) and, especially for bathrooms, I try to buy products with attractive packaging. I know that sounds odd but the graphic designer in me always appreciates good packaging (I do this for dish soap too!). Plus, the bathroom is one of those places where your stuff sits out­… soap, lotion, air refresher, hair products. If I’m going to look at it anyway, at least it should be attractive. Unstopables air refresher not only makes the room smell like a boutique hotel, it looks fancy in the process.

Next, I add some sparkle. A “designed” room has layers (occasionally layers of toys and shoes and laundry). Different textures that make it feel put together and cohesive. One of the last layers to go in for me is the shiny stuff because you don’t need a lot of it and it’s so easy to add.

Candles add a warm sparkle and make your home smell luxe at the same time without costing a lot. This is one of the Unstopables candles in “Fresh” scent you can pick up at the grocery store. It smells like the freshest load of laundry ever and fills the entire room. Dog? What dog? J Plus, bonus tip, I know if you have toddlers, a lot of times candles are out of the question (they were for me anyway). This one had my room smelling great even before I lit it.

Another trick I use to add some shine is to decorate with old jewelry. The cheap dollar table at antique and flea markets are my favorite. Even if it’s broken or doesn’t look quite right around my neck… it might look fabulous in a bowl on my bookcase or hung as part of a gallery wall.

And you can always DIY sparkle. Metallic markers, gold paint, and nail head trim (or even thumb tacks!) are easy ways I’ve used in past projects to add some shine to my space.

Last but not least, bring the outdoors in. Branches from the yard, pinecones in winter, or cheap grocery store flowers all work to make your home feel a little more sophisticated.  This is kind of a combo tip. I stuck the flowers in a thrift store teapot I got for a dollar (repurpose!), they add a bit of life to even my laundry room, and they smell great! Combined with Unstopables In-Wash Scent Booster, my laundry room smells even better now than it did before it was home to a giant dog crate. 
So wish me luck! To say I’m a little anxious about bringing a fairly new dog into a brand-new house would be an understatement. But, I’ve got my bag of tricks to keep it feeling, smelling, and looking like the dream home I’ve always imagined… dog toys, laundry, dishes and all.