Birthday Party Starring Henri and Thomas

September 19, 2014

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Fisher-Price for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

We celebrated a very special birthday this week. As a nice surprise we gave the kids Thomas & Friends™ TrackMaster™ playsets which they got such a kick out of! Check out their matching hats!

Henri loved watching The Thomas & Friends™ TrackMaster™ Avalanche Escape Set in action! He got this huge excited expression on his face when it jumped the gorge. It features their fastest and most powerful motorized engines that make for the most action-packed Thomas & Friends™ adventures of them all.
This fall the Thomas & Friends™ TrackMaster™ motorized engines have been redesigned with enhanced speed, power and performance. That means engines go faster and climb higher than ever before, driving Thomas & Friends™ to greater speeds, taller heights and bigger adventures! 

In this play set watch as Thomas makes his way up a 30 degree incline before crossing an avalanche gap and racing down the other side.  Check out the video we shot below!
Additionally you can see the bravest Thomas yet, along with all his friends, in a new direct-to-DVD adventures, Tale of the Brave, available beginning early September.

Adventurous Thomas fans can also visit brand new site, to put their creativity to the test and build their very own track design. Check out the new Thomas & Friends™ TrackMaster ™ Online and build your very own track design.
ALSO! The new TrackMaster™ sets are compatible with the older versions, allowing your little enginner to continue to expand on and explore the exciting world of Thomas & Friends™ TrackMaster™.
To get all the latest Thomas & Friends updates and news....

Keep up with Thomas & Friends™ on Facebook

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Visit Sponsor's Site

Simply Spray Fabric Paint Makeover

September 9, 2014

Yesterday a neighbor dumped an IKEA Poang chair and ottoman out on their front lawn next to their garbage. I drove by it on my way to the thrift store (of all places) and couldn't resist putting it in my car. I admit, the cushion had seen better days. 
There were stains. I might have been able to get it out with a lot of bleach and elbow grease but I didn't want a white cover anyway. So I went to JoAnns with the intention of getting some RIT dye and dying the off-white covers to gray. Then I found this fabric spray. 
I guess I had always shyed away from fabric spray because I thought the end result would be stiff. Seems to good to be true- a paint that dries soft?! But the label on the front of the can promised to "stay soft" so I took a chance and bought two cans. I used two 40% off JoAnn's coupons so originally at $12.99 each the two cans I bought came up to $16.51 with tax and coupons. Not too bad considering a new grey Poang cushion cover is $60 at IKEA. Here was the finished result.
I was pleased. All the stains were hidden behind the dark paint and the color was just what I wanted for the bedroom. The fabric was slightly stiffer but not so stiff that I would feel uncomfortable sitting on it.
Here's a video showing me painting the fabric and how it feels after.
I like how the color of the wood in the chair is a close match to the color I stained the toy box. Overall I'm pleased with the product. For only $16.50 it was worth it.

Metal Garage Door Makeover with Simple Paint

September 5, 2014

I saw this an just couldn't resist sharing. This is just such an easy, awesome idea. Ever HATE your plain garage door? Ever long for those charming doors with the windows and the hardware? Who said you couldn't just paint on the windows, huh? Looks convincing to me. This idea is courtesy of Two Peas and Bucket which is now no longer has a website. Don't know why they wouldn't just leave up the old site so everyone could reference it so there's no tutorial except for the picture below but I think you can glean what you need from it. If not, here's a similar tutorial from Pinterest Addict. I think painting the top two rows of squares to look like windows would be even better than just painting the one row. Might look even cooler if you combined it with this tutorial from Domestically Speaking on gel staining your metal door to look wooden.

Dress Up a Boring Bunk Bed: Globe Lights

September 4, 2014

I bought the IKEA Kura bed some time ago off Craigslist. It's a really great bed for kids and a small sized room, especially a low-ceiling room.
Anyway, the bed was getting tired. I was thinking of replacing the beds all together which I still might do but in the meantime I added globe lights to the ceiling of the lower bed.
The kids loved them. The lower bunk bed went from zero to hero. All of them wanted to sleep below the first night they were up.
Now, of course, if you want to do this make sure your bulbs don't get hot to the touch. In fact, LED lights are probably best. Mine are not LED but I can always touch them and I don't let them on all night.
My lights are always safe to touch and I also added a dimmer switch so that they don't have to be bright if the kids want to try and fall asleep with them on.
I attached them with simple safety pins which I think is also safer because they are not touching the bed or the bed sheets. I just hooked the safety pin through the hook on the globe light.
I got my globe lights at Target for only $14.99 which isn't bad for globe lights. There are 25 lights in all. In fact if you like globe lights for outdoor parties I recommend getting about 10 strings which is 250 lights which is sufficient for lighting an outdoor space. That's only $150 and $14.99 is the cheapest price I've seen for globe lights. In fact, a little tip, if you put them on a gift registry Target will send you a 10% off coupon in the mail for items on your registry. So you could get them for only $135. Pretty sweet.

Make Your Own Leather Carry Along and Fall Blanket out of Four Belts

September 3, 2014

It's hard for me to concede that fall is coming. After Christmas I loathe the winter. So any sort of change in temperature is just a sad reminder that the end of summer is approaching. I should really be living in a warmer climate.
Rather than rebel against it I find that it's best to embrace the change. There are aspects of fall that I love. Chunky sweaters, yellow leaves, bonfires, autumn colors, warm cozy blankets. So, this weekend I combined the last three on that list and made this cute Fall Blanket Carry Along. It was perfect for taking on this Saturday weekend get-together. Photos via dandiggitydawg.
This blanket is a nice mix because the plaid side can be used for warmer nights while the fur side can be used for those cooler nights.
This would also make a great cheap DIY gift for a birthday or holiday.
It's also pretty compact so you can just throw it in your car and have it with you whenever you need it.
Eloise loved the soft fur side and even slept with it the night I finished it.
The faux fur I bought at JoAnn's. It was $12.99 but with my 60% Labor Day coupon it was only $5.20 a yard. I bought one yard of that. The adorable red white and blue checked fabric I bought at the local fabric outlet for only $1 a yard!! It was amazing! They also had chambray for $1.99 a yard. Yeah. You heard me, $1.99.....a yard.....
For the blanket I just took two equals yards of fabric, one in the plaid and one in the fur and sewed wrong sides together, then turned inside out. Pretty basic.
I made the leather strapped carry along with 4 leather belts. I bought 2 of the at Goodwill for $2 each. I wish I had bought all four though because Goodwill carries a lot of stuff that doesn't sell at Target. Therefore they often have multiples of things. I could have bought four identical belts for only $8. If you try this project I recommend getting your belts at a local Goodwill, they might just have identical Target belts too! I think plain brown leather works well with this project but feel free to use whatever belt or color you like.

Step 1.
Fold your blanket and secure it with two large rubber bands on each side. Take one of your belts and wrap it around the one end of the blanket. Cut the belt about two inches after the belt loop. I cut mine just below the first few holes.

Family Heirloom Toybox Makeover

August 29, 2014

There was a piece of furniture in Henri's room that had been bothering me for some time. It was a toy box that Brian's father had made for him and his sisters when they were kids but it had seen better days.
The finish was chipped on the top and bottom and the lid had become unhinged on the right side. But this wasn't the sort of thing I could discard of course! So yesterday I sanded it down and refinished and sealed it and sewed a pillow top for the lid. Here's the finished version.
I used an redwood tint which had a orange tone for the box to match the grey, orange color scheme in the room. The stain and sealer I had leftover from a previous project. I just ran down to the hardware store and bought 2 sponge brushes, sandpaper and hardware to fix the lid. That totaled $15.
My local fabric outlet has a table where the fabric bolts are only $1 per yard. That's where I bought the grey fabric in 1 yard for $1. The spotted orange and white fabric I bought at Joann's for $3 something and the oversized piping filler I also bought at JoAnn's for $1.07 a yard with a coupon. The letters I made with Silhouette heat transfer material which I already had on hand. And I used a piece of 4" thick memory foam for the stuffing which I had leftover from a toddler bed no longer being used. All together the pillowtop materials I had to purchase totaled $12.
BTW. I've found that it's always cheaper and more attractive to make your own piping. The selection for piping is so limited and still so expensive. The smaller, plain black piping I was going to buy was $3.59 a yard with a coupon! I bought 7 yards of the piping filler for $7.50 and the one yard of polka dotted fabric for $3 and only spent around $11. If I had bought 7 yards of the thinner, plain black piping it would have been $25.13. What a ripoff!

So, total for this project I only spent $27 and it's a HUGE improvement. Totally worth my time and investment.

Thrift Day Giveaway: First Come First Serve

August 28, 2014

I go to the thrift store on Wednesdays. That's when everything is 50% off. Therefore I am starting these Thrift Day Giveaways on Thursday.

If anyone would like it please just leave me a comment below. First come first serve! Belt NOT included. I would say it would fit a 2-6. It's so feminine and the coral color really compliments the face. In case you can't tell from the photos, the neckline has a yoke and the upper bodice is cinched at the yoke. The sleeves and the bodice are all one piece which I think makes a flattering look. I'm only 5'1 and it touches my knees so the length is also pretty decent as well.

This is a vintage dress. Probably polyester material. Perhaps handmade. No tag.

I'd like to keep doing these thrift day giveaways so come back for more. First come first serve;-)

Fun Things To Do This Summer (Get Your Summer On): Tubing

August 22, 2014

Hey! The summer's not quite over yet! And honestly, you can still do summer things after school starts as long as it's warm. But I wanted to share another summer activity that we've discovered. Tubing! I don't know why we've never done this before. You can do it with your kids or even without!
We went twice this year. The first time the kids sat in tubes with a hole in the middle. Although they were more "classic" tubing I wouldn't recommend that kind of tube unless it's in the 90s and the water is warm. The second time we brought this somewhat obscene inner tube that all the kids could sit in (see below) In case you're wondering I bought it on sale at for only $35 with free shipping. For some reason it's back up to $54 now. But the kids loved it and it kept them from freezing in the icy cold creek.
If you live in Central Pennsylvania and are curious, we rode on the Yellow Breeches Creek starting at the covered bridge at Messiah College and going to the next stop 2.5 miles away at Simpson Park. To get 2.5 miles by innertube it takes about 2 hours. So if the water is cold you can imagine how uncomfortable that would be for a kid. That's why I recommend the closed hole tubes.
We adults sat in these tubes from 5 Below. For only $5 it was a pretty amazing tube! It had a back to rest our heads on and no center hole. The only thing I'd change was that it lacked was a cup holder. However, the second time we went out we brought this handy little cooler float which did have cup holders. I bought for only $10 from Walmart. And if you want the perfect sized cooler to fit inside I recommend this one from Amazon. It fit like a glove. The cooler would be great if you were doing an adult-only run and wanted somewhere to keep your beer and wine coolers cold.
You should choose a river or stream that has some decent current. You don't want to go half a mile in one hour. Also, a stream that has a few riffles and rapids keep things interesting. Check out our little adventure below.

The Yellow Breeches also has a rope swing. If you know of a place that's frequented by tubers you will often find nice little hidden gems like this. If you don't know of any good places I recommend checking out Swimming It has official and unofficial swimming holes, creeks, rivers and etc listed by state.

One big tip that I can't emphasize enough is to all have water shoes. There are so many times that you have to get up and out of your float for one reason or another and the bottom of a creek or river is an awful place for bare feet. They sell water shoes at Walamart and 5 below for only $5.
Another big tip if you have kids is to bring a rope. I really can't imagine going tubing without a rope, especially if you have kids. If someone is about to run into a tree branch or if someone is floating a lot faster than everyone else it's nice to be able to reel them in without having to get out of your tube. Sometimes a creek can be chest deep even for an adult.
One more tip is to maybe bring a paddle. I say maybe because you can certainly do tubing without one. We didn't use a paddle the first time and made it. Plus it's kind of cumbersome. But the second time we took one and it did help a lot.
If you'd like to try tubing too plan out your trip beforehand. Remember you'll have to take two cars. One at the end of the trip and one to get to the beginning. And DON'T forget your keys for your car at the end of the trip or you'll be calling a cab to get back to your car at the beginning of the trip.
Another thing you might not think about is getting the tubes there and bringing them back. If you have two trucks and can toss them in the back then it's a no-brainer but who has two trucks? If you have two minivans or SUVs that can also work but only if you are transporting no more than four people and can fit all your inflated tubes in the back. If you don't have a vehicle that can fit inflated tubes and passengers at the same time it's a double problem because you need something to blow them up when you get there and then something to deflate them on your way back. I recommend bringing an electric pump and either finding a spot with electricity to inflate and deflate your tubes or buying an AC/DC converter for your car and plugging in your pump that way.
Lastly, if you're in deeper water and you have kids of course have them wear a life vest. The first time we went out I had Molly wear one. The second time I didn't. The Yellow Breeches ended up never being more than waist deep and we were always only a couple feet away from them. That being said, an adult tubing solo on the Yellow Breeches did drown a few years ago so even if you know how to swim and the water isn't deep anything can happen so it's always best to go with a friend or better yet....FRIEND"S" plural;-)

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