Monday, June 27, 2016

Mint and Coral First Birthday Party


I can hardly believe how fast time has passed and my baby girl is now a big One Year Old! It seems like just yesterday that we brought our sweet little bundle of joy home...




And now she has grown into an amazing little toddler who has the cutest laugh and heart melting smile.



I'm learning just how fun it is to have a baby girl after so many little men!  I've planned lots of Thomas, Lightning McQueen, Star Wars, or dinosaurs birthday parties and it was so fun to get to do something girly. I decided to go with a coral and mint theme to match her nursery...of course!


 If there is one thing I've learned (especially this last year) about doing birthday parties for your little ones, its that simple is better. There have been so many times when I've stressed myself out over cleaning every last square inch of my home, or making sure every last detail is right.  In reality I've learned that my guests often don't care if my baseboards have been scrubbed...and by the time it gets to your 5th child, they often are not as inclined to make a big deal out of it. My oldest child's First Birthday party had so many guests! Everyone was so excited to come celebrate him and he was spoiled rotten. As we've gone through each of my children's First Birthdays the parties have gotten smaller and smaller, partly because I've invited a lot less people (I've whittled the guest lists down to immediate family instead of everyone I know, ha!) and partly because after so many parties- for all my kids- the novelty starts to wear off for guests and host.


I've learned its better to keep it simple and remember that the party is not for your guests but for your child. I've gone from reserving rooms at clubhouses and serving a full course meal to just having the party at my home and serving cake and ice cream only. In all honestly, I'm a person who loves a big party and would easily go over the top...but doing it five times a year every year is a lot of work! For baby girl's party I tried to keep it simple and sweet...AND I didn't clean every square inch of my house.

I started out by purchasing this Mind's Eye fan set from Zurcher's as a backdrop for her party vignette. The fans are easy to set up and I attached them to the wall using clear bulletin board tacks. Next I added the ONE balloon garland (balloons also purchased from Zurcher's).  I added a couple of white flower shaped balloons from a local party store and the main backdrop was done!

I'm a person who loves to use what I have around the house so I grabbed some old tassel garland that I had left over from her baby blessing luncheon and put them upside down in my vintage blue mason jars. I then taped some of her 1 Year Old photo shoot pictures to wooden skewers and stuck them in the middle of the tassels.

Gift wrap can add so much and this gorgeous Rifle Paper Co. wrapping paper was the perfect touch! I found some mint and coral polka dot bags from Target to add in and the presents were almost too cute to open.


I am not a cake decorator by any stretch of the imagination! I often buy a cake or have someone make one for me. It is just not my thing at all. I'd had a sweet friend make me a cake for her photo shoot that was absolutely gorgeous! I was really tempted to ask her to make another, bigger one for the party, but I was also trying to be very careful about staying on budget (because it would be so easy to go over the top!). I ended up making my own cake and kept it very simple.  Two 8 inch circles stacked with my favorite homemade butter cream frosting. I found this cake garland and "1" cake topper at Hobby Lobby and they added so much to the cake.



 I had one of her pictures from her photo shoot printed out at 11 x 14 and mod podged it to a canvas so I could use it as a center piece.  I will later be using it in a gallery wall in my basement...I love decor that has a purpose and can be reused!


I bought some gold plates from Target and coral plates from Zurcher's and stacked them alternating on a cake stand.  Forks in a mason jar and cups stacked in an old tray rounded out her little birthday vignette.

The party went fabulously and we were so excited to watch baby girl open up her gifts.  I'm pretty sure she had a blast playing with her cousins and smashing cake all over herself and the floor.

Here's my favorite buttercream frosting recipe, enjoy!

Butter Cream Frosting


  • 1 C REAL butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp REAL vanilla
  • 4 C confectioners sugar
  • 2 Tbs evaporated milk
Cream butter and vanilla until smooth. Add sugar and mix well.  Then add in milk.



Monday, June 20, 2016

Rustic Little Boy Room Part 1

Hello everyone! I'm here today with Part 1 of my Rustic Little Boy Room makeover.  


Many of you may remember this room as our Birch Family School Room.  This poor little room has undergone three different makeovers in the 6 years we've been in our house...it just can't seem to find its identity, ha! About 6 months ago we got rid of our homeschool room and turned it back into a bedroom for our 4 and 6 year old.  I sent my children back to public school last year and while it was great to have a school room to do homework in and store things like books and bags, it was even more important to have a bedroom for my two youngest boys.  All four of my boys had been sharing one large bedroom downstairs and it just was not functional at all.  I'm still eagerly waiting for the rest of our basement to be finished (there's sheetrock on the walls!) and right now we just can't decide if the fifth bedroom will be a school room or another bedroom so my oldest can have his own room.

I'd wanted to do a rustic themed room for quite some time. It's definitely out of my design element and I wanted to challenge myself. I started out by purchasing a new bed and bedding from IKEA.  I just love buffalo check and these duvet covers jumped into my cart, ha! I purchased some gold spotted Threshold sheets from Target and threw in this Hello pillow from Hobby Lobby and the feather pillow from Target.


Next I tore out the board and batten and shelf that was on the back wall.  The shelf stuck out about 6 inches and was at just the wrong height so the bunk beds couldn't be pushed up against the wall.  In a small bedroom I need every inch I can get! This faux barn wood wall was a fun project and the tutorial will be going up on Make It and Love It next week. Once it posts I'll come back and post the link for you! It only cost me $30 to do and I think it adds so much to the feel of the room. Of course I'm a sucker for architectural details...for me they make or break a room.


 This whole gallery wall is made up of items from Hobby Lobby.  The deer head has been floating around my house since last fall and he finally found a home in here.  I wanted to bring in some black to break up the wood, gray, and white and this pennant was the perfect addition.


This galvanized bucket was gifted to me from my mom but she originally purchased it from Walmart (of all places!). It works great to hold all of the oversized books that don't fit in the book shelves.


This little corner over here will be the focus of Part 2 of this room's makeover.  I'm making my boys a little tent (or teepee because I haven't decided yet) so they have a little reading nook in their room.  I'll also be touching up paint and hanging up curtains.  Keep watching for lots more to be added to this room.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

DIY Flower Boxes

I am so excited that Spring is finally here! It is by far my favorite time of year...I really could live in an eternal Spring and be happy. This year curb appeal has been on my mind a lot.  We've been in our house 6 1/2 years and haven't done much to the outside besides upgrade our garage door. I have a few things on my list to do to the front our home to give it more curb appeal and one of those things was flower boxes.


For the longest time I've been wanting to add some flower boxes to the front of our home to give it more dimension and color. I just love flowers and think they add so much to a yard.


Every time I walk (or drive!) by these flower boxes they make me smile so big! I can hardly wait for them to grow in and start cascading.


I love that I'm able to add a seasonal pop of color to the front of our earth tone colored home. 


These flower boxes were so easy and fast to make and the best part is that they only cost $20 including stain. To learn how you can make your own visit the entire tutorial HERE on MakeIt-LoveIt.

Monday, November 16, 2015

How to Paint Faux Brick

Hey everyone! I'm here today to show you part of a project that I'm really kind of proud of!  And while I can't show you the whole thing quite yet (I'll come back and edit this post after my other one goes up on MakeIt and LoveIt), I did want to show you how I painted this faux brick.


For this project I knew that I wanted to use a brick panel, but I wanted the brick to be gray with a whitewashed look. However, the brick panel that I bought from Home Depot came in this reddish color. While this color in and of itself isn't bad, it wasn't what I was going for...nothing a little painting couldn't fix!



Are you ready to paint some brick? For this project you will need:
  • brick panel
  • background color paint (I used Notre Dame by Valspar)
  • grout color paint (I used White on White by Glidden)
  • white paint (for the white washed look)
  • paint that is a few shades darker than your background color (I made a custom color from acrylic paints)
  • paint brush
  • rags
After cutting the panel down to fit my project, I painted the entire thing gray (Notre Dame by Valspar).


Then I came back in and painted the "grout" white (White on White by Glidden). This part is probably the most time consuming!


Once the panel was dry I grabbed some of my acrylic craft paint to help me give it the white washed look and to make a slightly darker gray to shade it in and add dimension.


I took my paint brush and put a very light amount of white paint on it and dusted the brick with it.  Then I took a rag and rubbed off the extra paint. I worked my way across the panel making sure to rub off the excess.


After I was done whitewashing it, I mixed some of my black and white acrylic paint together until I got a gray that was slightly darker than the gray on the panel.


I dipped my rag directly into the darker gray and rubbed it randomly on bricks across the panel.  I did not brush every brick with it and on some bricks I only rubbed it part way and on other bricks I tried to paint the whole brick.  This was to give some more depth and dimension to the panel.


And that's it!  Super easy and a total transformation from the original red brick!


Stay tuned for the full reveal on this project next week!


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Time 4 Learning Review


Hi Everyone!  I'm here today with my review for Time 4 Learning.



Time 4 Learning is an online educational website that offers courses for PreK-High School.  It covers the core subjects of math, language arts, social studies, and science. This curriculum is web-based... meaning as long as you have access to the internet, you will have access to all of your curriculum. To access the curriculum all you have to do is login to your account. No toting books and curriculum around, especially if you go on vacation!


Registration and Fees:

The registration process for this curriculum was quick and effortless!  All you have to do is visit their home page and click on the yellow "Sign Up" box on the upper right hand corner.  You are then directed to fill in parental information.  Upon completion of this step, you then register your students, providing Time 4 Learning with their grade levels.  The price for this program is paid monthly and for PreK-8th Grade you pay $19.95 per month for the first child and $14.95 per month for each additional child.  For High School the fee is $30 per month for core classes, plus an additional $5 per month for each extra course. Time 4 Learning offers a 14 day money back guarantee if you decide that you don't like the curriculum and you are able to cancel at anytime if the program isn't working for you.

Parental Effort:

If you are looking for a curriculum that doesn't require too much planning and involvement on your part, then this would be a great program for you! There is a separate login for parents where they can login and create lesson plans and assignments.  Parent also can track records and print off scores as needed for their own record keeping.  Parents are also able to go in and set up specialized classes for their child.  For example, if you child is a Third Grader, but is on a Fourth Grade level in Language Arts, you are able to bump up your child in just that subject. This is a great way to help your child learn and advance at their own pace. Since the lessons are all from the website parents won't have to spend hours creating and coming up with lesson plans.

Curriculum:

Time 4 Learning uses Compass Learning Odyssey, an online educational system that has been used by public schools for years. That being said, Time 4 Learning is a secular curricula and is based on National Standards.  If you have chosen to leave the public school system due to concerns about the curriculum, then this website is not for you.  If you have issues with your children being taught evolution as a fact instead of a theory I would steer clear of this program.

Our Experience With Time 4 Learning:

My children were so excited to get started with this program.  I slowly began introducing Time 4 Learning in the beginning of August to get them back into school mode.  I couldn't believe how excited they were and how they began asking me if it was their turn to logon to "the learning website".  Initially I was thrilled that my children were so excited for learning!  The animation and excitement of the website made learning fun.  I liked that I could just "let them loose" on the website while I attended to my newborn baby. It was a fabulous way to get them excited for the school year.  My oldest son loved the Language Arts section and had fun learning new vocabulary and spelling...a subject he has always struggled in. Plus, I was excited that Time 4 Learning did all the record keeping for me!  Less work for a busy Momma!


As I paid closer attention to what my children were doing, I began to notice some things that made me a little uneasy.  Some of the animation seemed very crude, and while my 5th Grader thought it was hilarious, I did not.  Sometimes the lessons seemed a little too "cutesy" and more time was spent on the theatrics of the lesson, rather than the core learning. We have tried to go with a more Classical Education model in our home and some of the curriculum just seemed like it was goofy, silly, and immature. I do not feel like some of the themes being taught through the animation reflected the higher standards we have set for our children.

Also, since Time 4 Learning is aligned with National Standards, it is basically public school online.  Last year we left public school over concerns with the curriculum.  We also wanted the freedom to teach our children to have a Biblical world view and to teach them the character qualities we felt are important for life. Time 4 Learning doesn't allow for that. Some of the animations are crude and rude, something I don't want my children being exposed to daily.

I also became concerned with the amount of screen time my children were getting.  I don't believe that all learning should be done online and there is a lot of learning that should be done with a good old fashioned pencil and paper.  Also, I am the type of parent that loves to get my kids outdoors and exploring for themselves-- touching real things and doing real experiments and observations-- not just seeing things on a screen.

Final Takeaway:

 I would definitely recommend using this curriculum if you want your child to have more of a world view, you want less parental effort in lesson planning, you like the record keeping features, and you like the ease of being able to have your curriculum with you anywhere you have internet. For a parent trying to juggle homeschooling multiple children, this could be a great option. Also, this would also work well as a supplemental curriculum and would be a great resource to use when your children become bored with their other schoolwork. 

I would not recommend this curriculum if you want your child to have a more Biblical based view, you love to be involved in the learning process, and you are concerned about public school curriculum, and you are concerned about the amount of screen time.

Disclosure: For my review and time, Time 4 Learning compensated me with a one month trial of their curriculum for my children. All opinions are 100% my own.

No-Sew Princess Costume

It's October 1st and that means it's time to start thinking about Halloween.  My kids have been busily discussing what they are going to dress up as and I can tell that they are getting excited! This is the first year that we get to do a girl costume and I knew that I wanted to come up with something unique for our little gal.   This costume is super easy to make and best of all its QUICK, for all you Momma's out there who don't have very much extra time.  Plus, it is no-sew so there is no need to break out the sewing machine.


The fun thing about this costume is that you could modify it in so many ways!  You could even make it to look like your favorite disney princess.


I even included instructions to make this little crown headband.


In about an hour or so you could have the cutest little costume whipped up for your princess!


To see the full tutorial, head on over to Make It and Love It and check it out!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Pallet Pumpkins

Hey everyone!  I can hardly believe that fall is here already! In case you missed it, I made these fun little pallet pumpkins! They are a super quick project and will add so much to your home decor!


If you've got a pallet, hot glue gun, and chalk paint you can put one of these together in no time!


Go check out the full tutorial over on Makeit-Loveit!




Monday, August 24, 2015

All Things work Together For Good....Free Printable!!

Guys! I'm so excited today to introduce you to a fantastic new graphic designer, Maria, from Designed by Maria. She contacted me a few months ago and wanted to design a free printable exclusively for YOU, my readers! After browsing her Etsy shop, I knew that she would come up with something wonderful to share on the blog. I asked her to design a printable with one of my favorite scriptures on it, Romans 8:28.


And can I say a-maz-ing!  The black, white, and gold....I love it!


This scripture has meant so much to me this past year as my family has gone through some very hard trials. In fact, one day I was feeling pretty down and my oldest son quoted me this scripture and reminded me that everything would work out. That boy is sometimes wise beyond his years and this scripture has brought me so much comfort over the last few months. This printable is definitely staying where I can see it often!


On her Etsy shop, Maria has a wonderful collection of printables and they are so affordable! So many cute banners, party accessories, printables, and memory books! She has a lot to offer for LDS events such as baptisms and missionary farewells, but there is so so much more and definitely something for everyone! In fact I just purchased this adorable printable to put in Kibri's Nursery. And with fall coming she has the most adorable Autumn Party Printable Set!  I may have to have a party so I can use this!

Thank you so much Maria for this gorgeous printable!

 To get you own printable GO HERE for the full bleed jpeg (great for photo labs).  This is the one I used to print mine out at the local photo lab.

Or GO HERE for the pdf set up for you to use on your own printer (print at 100% not scale to fit if you want it to be 8x10).

You can find Maria in the following places:
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/designedbymaria
Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/DesignedByMaria
Blog: http://yayimadeit.blogspot.com/
Website: http://www.designedbymaria.com/

Monday, July 27, 2015

Ready or Not, Its Back to School

Can you believe its already the end of July? I've been so busy snuggling our new little lady that I was shocked today when I went to the store to find all of the Back to School sales in full swing. Then I realized that school starts in three weeks...three weeks! Ah! I seriously feel so unprepared!  As many of you know, last year we made the decision to homeschool.


And while I haven't shared too much about it here on the blog, it was definitely one of the most life changing (in a good way) and hard things I've ever done. Taking on the responsibility for your child's education is both humbling and thrilling.  My boys absolutely thrived last year and we all learned a lot along the way.

One thing I learned is that, for our family, having a dedicated learning space was a must.  That's when our Birch Family School Room took shape.


As a person who loves decorating and having things organized, I had so much fun designing this space for our school.  It truly became the most used room in our home over the past year and it filled my heart with joy to see my boys migrate into the room to work on projects even when it wasn't school time.


As the school year wore on this room gathered more and more curriculum and projects and now I feel like we are bursting at the seams!  I look forward to revamping this space over the next few weeks and making it more functional for my boys. Nothing says back to school like a little DIY, right??

Another thing I learned about homeschooling is that sometimes you find the right curriculum through trial and error.  I ordered some curriculum last year that I was really excited about, but when it came down to it, it was a lot of busy work and both my boys and I quickly grew bored with it.

 This year I've been searching all over for the right curriculum and have found some fun new programs for my boys to try.  One of those is Time4Learning. Time4Learning is a web-based program that is leveled for each student. It is ads free (yay!) and has videos and games to teach topics.  It can be used as homeschool curriculum, homeschool supplement (what we are using it for), or just to supplement your child's education after school. And my favorite part is that it does the record keeping for you! If you've ever homeschooled you know how important it can be to produce proof of testing and grades.  My boys will be starting to use Time4Learning this week to help ease them back into the school mindset because lets face it... with a new baby at home we have done absolutely no school all summer!

I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Kibri's Nursery

On June 24th we welcomed our sweet little Kibri Ann into our family, and oh my goodness we are so in love with this little lady!


After having four boys she sure is a special (and spoiled!) little girl.


A few months ago we kicked two of her brothers out of their room (to see the before click here) so she could have her very own nursery.  If you follow me at all on Instagram (@_theaquahouse) then you've seen pictures of her nursery as we've worked on it.  I'm here today to show you the whole nursery and I'm pretty excited with how it turned out. It even made the perfect backdrop for her newborn pictures!


When I found out we were finally getting our baby girl, I knew that I didn't want an all pink nursery.  I wanted something with a vintage-glam vibe that would hopefully grow with her.  When I started painting her room my favorite paint color (Almost Aqua by Glidden) my husband joked with me that I'd finally gotten a girl but I was painting her room blue.  However, I think its the perfect Tiffany Blue to compliment the glam feel.


|Chandelier-Home Depot|


Some of you may have seen her mobile tutorial featured on Makeit-Loveit (go here to check it out!). I'm still in love with those little butterflies and I think that Kibri likes them too.


This collage turned out better than I expected and even has a vintage picture I found on a local home decor thrift page.


|Frames from Hobby Lobby and Rod Works|


|Pillow and Crib Sheet-Target| |Blanket-Minky Couture| |Crib-IKEA|


My sweet husband worked hard to make this diagonal grid wall and I just love it.


This old hutch was mine when I was a little girl and has so much meaning to me.  My grandpa took me to a thrift store and let me pick it out.  Then he fixed it up for me and painted it pink.  Its in pretty shabby condition now and I'm torn about keeping it shabby or fixing it up.




 I made these curtains from fabric found at Jo-Anns and added in some sheers from IKEA.

 

View from her door.


  |Frame-IKEA| |K-Hobby Lobby| |Hairbow holder-Gordmans|


One of my most favorite places in our house for sure!

Today this little miss is already one month old! I'm hoping she's enjoying her nursery as much as I am!