Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Displaying Beach Memories: Craftastic Shell Wall Blocks

A few years ago, a local woman hired me to make a video of her walking through her home, talking about all the treasures it held. She had acquired so much furniture and art from years of travel, and it was important to her for her kids and grandkids to know the story behind each piece. So for two hours, I followed her around her home with a video camera, recording as she paused in front of every wall hanging and armoire to tell its story. There were gifts from friends in Africa and splurges from weeks in Europe. I was amazed at the history behind every detail in her home. Everything held memory and meaning.

The older I get, the more important that is to me--for the things in our home to tell stories and remind us of some special time or people we love. Which is why I love our growing collection of vintage jars, each holding a piece of a special place and a favorite memory.

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Being that we live in Florida and are constantly accumulating shells and other beach treasures from our frequent trips to the Gulf, I thought it would be fun to start building a wall representing all the different Florida beaches we've visited. That and I've been eyeing these cool wood canvas blocks at Joann's, trying to figure out something to make with them. We only have three beaches represented right now, but it will be fun to see this wall grow.

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The D.I.Y. Instructions:


Unfinished Wood Canvases like these ones.
Ours are 6x6, purchases at Joann's on sale for under $3 a piece.
Medium/Fine Grit Sand Paper
Glue Gun and Glue Sticks
Picture Hangers (we used pop tops from soda cans and screwed them in)
Wood Stain (we used a gel walnut stain)
Paintbrush (and paint thinner to clean your brush)
Beach Treasures or other location treasures (we used shells, feathers, coral from the beach but you could easily do this same thing with twigs, bark, flat stones, sea glass, etc.)
Paper typed with beach location and date, cut to desired size
Mod Podge (we used satin)

I began by lightly sanding my wood blocks before staining them.

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I used a walnut gel stain only because it's what we had in our garage. I put three coats of stain on to get the depth of color I wanted, but once it dried, I sanded the blocks again to take the shine away and give it a little bit of a weathered finish.

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I secured a picture hanger (or soda can pop top) onto the back of the block for hanging...

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...and then played with shell arrangement on my blocks before gluing anything. This is a fun place to get kids to help. Lainey liked being part of choosing which shells went where. Once you have an arrangement you like, hot glue each shell into place.

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Adhere your paper label with Mod Podge, adding a layer on top to seal it. Once dry, lightly sand any Mod Podge residue on the outer edges of the paper to make it blend in.

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Repeat for each block, hang 'em up...and voila.

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Memories and stories, right there on your wall. Your own little gallery.

We have a special adventure tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to expanding our gallery.


This week, I'm sharing ten of my favorite baby products over at BabyZone and talking about passing on some new yoga lessons to Lainey over at All Parenting.

Have a great evening.

Leaving you with a quote that made me happy today:

"Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it." ~Wilferd Peterson

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

ETST Sponsor: Bump Nest

Welcoming back Bump Nest this month, creator of the beautiful pregnancy pillow I used through Dash's pregnancy and haven't stopped since he's been born. If I'm not using it to sleep, it's being dragged around the house to make forts, to support the kids' heads on the living room floor while they watch movies or to make a nice chill-out bed for Dash.

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This pregnancy pillow was designed specifically to relieve pressure for side sleeping, but with all the patterned slipcovers available, it's pretty enough to leave out on your bed or curled up on the floor.

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Bump Nest also creates baby beanies from their fabric scraps and donates them to charity partners--love this.

Read the Behind the Business interview with Jessica, the woman behind Bump Nest here.

Welcome back, Bump Nest!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Enjoying the Small Things: Home

Cartwheeling into this week with some Monday Enjoying the Small Things.  And so I don't have to type Enjoying the Small Things so many times, I've created some alias phrases, categorized into different levels of enthusiasm so everyone finds their thang.

Ride a Unicorn
Throw Some Glitter On It
Find a Rainbow

Paint the Town Yellow
Kick a Skip in Your Step
Hum a Happy Ditty


Frown with Kind Eyes

See, somethin' for everyone.  Not every cloud shape needs to be perceived as Care Bears jumping rope.  Simply smiling is an option. 

Today, I'm enjoying:

The fact that Nella was walking around my bedroom this morning, rattling off her favorite words--Daddy, Lala, Latte.  I didn't realize she had my phone until I heard Siri robotically reply, "I don't know what you mean.  If you like, I can search the web for Daddy Lala K."


Ballet Class
Lainey wanted to play ballet class this weekend.  "I'm Miss Blair and Nella's my student," she said.  She insisted on "high high buns" for both of them--"with no bumps."  And classical music.  And legwarmers.  And for Nella to do whatever she said.  The last one went well for a little while.

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There was a lot of instruction on the point, flex thing.  Sister is serious about her students getting it right.

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But then Sister started getting a 'lil bossy.  And Nella has no time for bossy. 

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And when Nella doesn't like bossy, she clearly lets you know "I'm not listening."

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The response was disastrous.  Game over. 
It was precious while it lasted.

Pickle Party
Apparently they made up because twenty minutes after The Fall of Ballet Class, I found them in a box with a jar of pickles. Lainey: "We're having a pickle party, Mom."


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Boys Who Smile in Their Sleep
Smiling would normally be categorized under "low" for Enjoying the Small Things, but while you're sleeping?  That's got to be a medium.  I'd love to know what he was dreaming about.

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Esther Williams in Training
Canon balls.  Lots of them this weekend.

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Little Music Maker
He figured out how to add to the music around here. 
Oh, and babies who shake maracas?  Pretty sure that's a "high." Okay medium, but if I catch his rhythm matches "Proud Mary," I'm calling it a high.

Rollin', rollin', rollin' on the river.


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Sisters Holding Hands
Everywhere and always.  Except when things get bossy.

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Ice Cream Reflections
She was mesmorized.

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Babies in Sun Streaks
The perfect combination of warm and happy and peaceful.

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The Dog Whisperer
They get each other.

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And a favorite moment this weekend:

I was editing some photos while Lainey and Nella stood behind my desk watching. One of the ballet photos popped up, and Lainey said, "Mom, tell Nella what you tell me when you see a picture of me."

For a second I forgot. "I don't remember. What do you mean?" I asked.

"You know, that special thing you say about wishing I was yours. Do it for Nella."

I smiled as I remembered. "Oh, you mean like this." I put Nella on my lap and pointed to her little body on the screen. "Oh, look at that precious little girl!  I sure do wish I had a daughter just like her."

Eager to respond, Lainey smiled and jumped in on cue. "You do, Mom. She is yours."

"Really?  She is?!  Wow.  I feel so lucky."

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Happy Monday. Paint the town yellow.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Staycation Day Trip: Captiva Island

Stream-of-consciousness.  Beware. 

I don't know why I feel it's important to start this post with a little mental unraveling, but I will say this...

The photos and stories shared here are pieces of a larger puzzle.  You know that, right?  Amid crafts and family outings and pictures of happy babies, there are--as there is with every one of us--days when things feel so completely messy.  I actually think those days are beautiful in a way too because we learn so much from them, but I tend to lean to what makes me happy for blogging.

With that said, yesterday we took a family road trip and it was a glorious day.  And before I post that pretty little day--even though I don't have to say this--I want to say that the day before wasn't glorious.  That the decision to go be with our family for the day arose from good, hard talks and tears and all the stuff that makes a family real.  This doesn't feel good.  I wish you wouldn't do this.  I wish we could be better at this.  I'm sorry.  Let's make changes.  We have those times, and we always have.  My not blogging about them certainly doesn't mean they don't exist.

To me, that's what makes this day and the captured memories from it even more special.  I'll look back at all these moments where kids are smiling and waves are breaking and hair is whipping all beautiful-like in the wind and I'll know that every bit of that goodness was hard-earned.  Family is always hard work.  And every memory, every hey-look-everyone's-smiling moment, every holiday, every beach trip, every blog post is hard-earned.  But the best things in life are, aren't they?  

So here's a really special day that was amazing.  It came in the middle of real life.  And there will be more.  Of all of it. 
Bring it.

Our staycation day trip to a local island. It felt like vacation.  And we only drove 45 minutes.

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To Spontaneity and that beautiful mix of real life plus post card perfection.  All of it makes me feel grateful. Motivated. Happy for right now.

Happy Weekend.


A Friday Perk for you:

Our friends at Tea Collection are offering a special 25% discount just for you on my favorite Tea dress right now.  We love the cheery chrysanthemum mini dress, great alone for warm weather or layered with long sleeves and tights for colder weather.  Use Code KELLE25 for 25% off the Chrysanthemum Mini Dress (also, I always think of Anne Shirley whenever I hear the word "chrysantemum."  She spelled it right).
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