Life Lately: June & July

Summertime arrived in full swing. This year, Brian and I decided to go to San Diego again for our anniversary weekend, leaving Edison home with Grandma. He didn’t mind, especially when he got some special treats – donuts on his morning walks.
Brian and I started our trip off right – we were heading to the beach, so pirate cake pops seemed fitting.

When the Airbnb condo described itself as “steps away from the beach,” it wasn’t lying.

It was also a short walk from Belmont park, where we played mini-golf one night, and rode the rides, including the old wooden roller coaster, another. I almost lost my glasses on the roller coaster, we felt a little sick after eating a funnel cake, Brian got ice cream as big as his head, and the whole thing was wonderful.

I also discovered Acai bowls, and took dozens of foodies that I will spare you.

After searching with faulty directions last year, this year we found Balboa Park! We could have spent a couple days here, but we only had time for the art museum and the automotive museum, and the rose garden.

We briefly ventured into the historical area of San Diego for breakfast on our last day, and checking out some amazing architecture.

It seemed like no time at all, and then we were road-tripping again to California, this time to LA for the fourth of July weekend.

Edison is pretty chill on road trips.

A burger with gluten-free bread and dairy-free cheese – I thought I died and went to heaven.

Edison takes after me and loves the beach, but boy, was it a lot harder to take him to the beach than I expected. Just trying to keep the sand out of his mouth was pretty impossible, much less off the beach towel and out of the food. Next time, I’m going to search for all the Pinterest beach hacks. 

Besides our trips, we had some great down time and just fun moments.

Hat switch!

He had a great time playing on these, until some other kids came and he found out they could move. That did not end well!

How does this even happen???

I posted on Instagram that I was beginning to understand why parents of two-year-olds sigh deeply. He does the cutest, sweetest things, and then the next second melts into a raging monster I barely recognize. These days are hard.

The sanity-draining whining, the fits, problems resurfacing at daycare, behavior issues that I just don’t know if I’m dealing with it in the right way, and others I don’t know where to even begin dealing with … parenting is just hard!

Lots of ice cream (after he goes to bed) and a sense of humor are essential, I think.

But after a particularly bad day of fits, Edison got sick at daycare and so he had to stay home the day after. He helped me decorate his birthday cakes, which you can see in this post, by finishing off the frosting.

Since it was a sick day, we also got to watch lots of Thomas the Train. 

Edison also tried to be a train – scooting across the top of the back of the couch. Unfortunately, he kind of derailed…

I already posted about Edison’s birthday, but one of the presents Brian was especially excited about was getting Edison his first bike. He hasn’t quite figured out how to ride it yet, but he definitely loves it.

Some days it’s still hard to believe we’re parents of a two-year-old. Each day, he learns more words and makes more connections between ideas, and it’s really a joy to see. There’s still plenty of fit-throwing days, and I know there’s many more in our future, but someday we’ll turn around and he’ll be eighteen. My prayer is that we’re developing his character now, with that day in mind. And making great memories in the process!

My 6 New House Essentials

Once you’ve moved (and here’s 7 tips for making that easier) decorating your new place is the fun part. Unfortunately, that kind of comes last, after the clean-all-the-things stage, and the get-it-functional stage. Eventually, you reach the why-are-there-still-boxes-here stage, but somewhere in there, your house becomes a home. Once again, Casper was collecting these tips, and I decided to join in.

1. Rug

It’s almost a fact of life that once you move to a new place, some of your rugs will no longer fit your new rooms, or you’ll have new rooms with new floors to be covered. I hate carpet with a passion, so rugs are my friends. I choose my friends with great care, which is why it seems to take me years to pick out rugs. And even then, I’m guilty of chronically picking rugs that are too small. Here’s a guide for how your rugs should fit in any room, from Home Depot.

2. Artwork

Nothing personalizes your new place like artwork, and when you’re ready to hang things on the wall, you know you’re really settling in. Etsy is one of my favorite places to find affordable art, and also Society6, but I also like finding unique paintings at craft fairs and antique stores, and then customizing thrift store frames for cohesive gallery walls.
But not artwork has to be purchased. In the gallery wall in the entry way, I have a blue jay painting by Brian’s great-grandmother, a framed cover of a catalog, and a free print I found online of eggs, mixed in with flea market and craft store finds, and a DIY moss covered letter.

3. New mattress, sheets, and pillows

When we moved into our first house, we took the opportunity to upgrade our mattress. Because we upgraded from a full to a queen, we also had to get all new sheets and a bedspread. I think we kept the same pillows, but if you’re moving, it’s a great time to evaluate how those are holding up too, and consider having your pillows shipped to your door.
These marble sheets from Urban Outfitters aren’t cheap, but I’m seriously in love with them and trying to figure out if there’s a good way to DIY them. How awesome would these look in a bedroom with rose gold accents?

4. Cleaning Kit

When you’re living in chaos, the last thing you need is to not be able to find where you packed the cleaning supplies, or lose them in the maze of boxes. One of the most useful wedding presents we received was a plastic caddy full of cleaning supplies, like this one. This has been invaluable during all of our moves, and still comes in handy for keeping cleaning supplies corralled and portable.

5. Inexpensive Organizing Solutions

While you’re unpacking and organizing your new closets and drawers is the perfect time to invest in some new containers. My favorite are clear plastic shoe bins. I use them for craft supplies, office cords of all kinds, and of course, shoes. You could also get a little fancy and try some of my painted paper Trader Joe’s bags for storage.

6. A Special Item to Mark the Transition

 When we moved into our first house, our realtor bought us a wooden cutting board shaped like the state of Arizona. Regardless of whether you’re upgrading or downsizing, excited about your new place or dreading it, I think marking the transition with something special and celebratory is important. Some people frame keys or a photo of their old house, or you can have a custom portrait made of your new place. My DIY state art would be perfect if you’ve moved out of state. Find something that either pays tribute to where you’re leaving, or celebrates your new beginnings.
Here’s a handy graphic to pin for next time you’re moving:

Edison’s Taco Twos-Day Birthday Party

Welcome to Edison’s Taco Twos-day party! 
Edison turned two on the 21st, so last Saturday we had a little fiesta for him. My sister-in-law was able to come, and some good friends of ours. My idea was just to have a casual pool party, no stress and no work. But what fun is that? Somehow I ended up with a whole theme, decorations, and special cakes. Thanks Pinterest. 
Overall though, I was able to use a lot of things I already had, kept the purchases to a minimum with a few high impact decorations, and decorating and making those special cakes was super fun. 

In the entryway, I changed my letter board to reflect the theme, and added this very cute cactus light. Over the fireplace, I added this cactus banner. I expected it to be made out of paper, but it’s actually felt! I think it will stay up year-round somewhere in my house.

This giant #2 gold balloon made a big impact everywhere we put it. Apparently, there were several size options on Amazon that I missed, and I bought the 40″ one. Go big or go home!
Although he doesn’t look too excited about it when I made him hold it for photos, Edison calls it “Shiny” and talked to it the whole way home from the grocery store (where they filled it up for free!) and cried when we put it inside before we went to airport to pick up my sister-in-law. It’s still going strong after a week.

Outside on the porch, I brought out all of my blue metal kitchen chairs, and bought a folding table from Target. The aqua plastic tablecloth I already had, leftover from a bridal shower I threw a year ago. I decorated the table with some of my little succulents on tiny cake stands, which I already had also.

I bought an outdoor rug, something I’d wanted for awhile, and this seemed like the perfect occasion for it. I also bought the “Papel Picado” Mexican tissue paper banner and Fiesta fans, and mixed in some of the honeycomb balls from the bridal shower. I used a Mexican blanket for a table cloth on the food table.

The menu: 

  • Walking Tacos. Apparently, this is a Midwesterner thing, because no one in Arizona had heard of this. You take individual bags of Doritos or Fritos, open them, and put a scoop of taco meat and all your usual fixings inside the bag, mix it up, and eat it from the bag. These are the original Doritos Tacos – but deconstructed. I cooked the taco meat in the crock pot to make life even easier. 
  • Guacamole, sour cream, cheese, shredded lettuce, salsa – all purchased and packaged, again, making life easy.
  • Fruit from a handy fruit tray.
  • Peanuts and M&Ms – Conley family tradition. 
  • Fanta, lemonade, and lime La Croix as well as bottled water. I wanted brightly colored, kid-friendly beverages. Although the La Croix was really all for us non-soda drinking adults.
  • Taco Cakes!!! I’m still so thrilled with how these turned out. I made two round cakes, cut them in half, and stacked them to make the taco shape. Then I frosted and decorated them to look like a taco with fillings. Here’s a tutorial that I based my cake on, but instead of using crushed Oreos, I used the star shaped decorating tip and chocolate frosting for the taco meat. I didn’t create the tomatoes and cheese from separate frosting either, I just used the small round tip to pipe them on.

 Decor:

Other Items: 
We did it! High-five!

7 of My Favorite Tips to Make Moving Easier

No, I’m not moving, at the moment. But in the seven years we’ve been married, we’ve moved six times. The first year after moving into our house, it felt almost weird to not be scouring for boxes, busting out the packing tape and sharpies, and uprooting again.  But now we’ve happily lived here for over three years, moving is a distant nightmare.
With all that relocating, I do feel like I have some expertise in making moves … of the home kind. So when I noticed Casper (the mattress company) was sharing home moving tips, I thought I’d get involved. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make a big difference. I’m not sure moving is ever totally easy, but at least we can aim for easier.

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Life Lately: Spring to Summer

For Mother’s Day, we tried a new restaurant in Downtown Mesa that’s become a new favorite – Worth Takeaway. It’s going to be a new favorite brunch and lunch spot! 

My Mother’s Day present from Brian and Edison was new plants! So far, they’re all still alive a month later, so this is good. 
Not pictured above is my fiddle leaf fig, which we named Newt. Short for Fig Newton, and also, Newt Scamander from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. That gives him basically pet status, and keeps the Harry Potter pet name theme going. Newt is the only plant I’m concerned about – some of his leaves have started turning brown and many have brown spots. I’ve done a lot of googling on the subject, but it seems like it could be over-watering, under-watering, a bacteria, too much light, too little light … it seems that no one really knows what causes fiddle leaf figs distress. Any tips would be great, if someone out there has experience with them!

Poor Edison. He LOVES helping us get ready for work or church in the morning by bringing us our shoes – unfortunately in this case, Brian really didn’t need his shoes while he was in the shower, which Edison could not understand. It’s also heartbreaking when he wants me to wear my tennis shoes with my dresses and skirts to work, and just doesn’t understand why I pick other shoes. I have once worn the tennis shoes to the grocery store, just to make him happy!

One evening, I’d decided to take Edison on a quick walk, more for me than for him, to clear my head a bit in hopes of not tossing and turning all night. He was fascinated by the water flowing through the gutter, and I picked up a few pebbles and tossed them in. He was delighted, and I realized I’d made a terrible mistake – now we were going to be here all night, and we’d barely walked a few feet from the house! As I was trying to hurry him along without success, a lady came jogging past. “I miss those days when they were so small and so content to play with rocks!” She said.

I took a deep breath. The days are long, but the years are short.

I planned a Memorial Day Stay-cation exploring our city of Mesa, specifically, downtown. First up, we discovered a coffee shop that has lavender syrup! I’ve only ever had a lavender latte in Cannon Beach, Oregon, several years ago, so I was beyond excited to discover this a few miles away from my house, all this time! Second stop was a “Sculpture Tour,” a loosely structured scavenger hunt of the 38 some statues downtown.
Also, cool murals. 
We closed out the weekend with swimming, some shopping, and taking Edison to a splash pad. He was quite content to watch the other kids, the water, and throw rocks in the puddles. 
I see so much of myself in him in social situations like this. While the other kids are running around screaming, making fast friends, I relate so much to his desire to just watch the unfamiliar people from the sideline, observe, talk to the kids that come by and initiate conversation, but for the most part, just do his own thing. 

I took a few photos and a video of Edison in the tub, being entertained by his Aunt Andrea playing peekaboo around the doorway. His giggle is just the best.

And now we’re halfway through June! Brian and I will celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary this month with a weekend trip to San Diego – can you believe we’ve been married seven years? And Edison’s second birthday is just around the corner! 
I hope, friends, that you’re making summer bucket lists and finding fun ways to relax and enjoy the days. The days are long, especially in summer, but the years are short! 

4 #FridayFinds: And A Poll for a Rug!

1. My “Harper” Better Life Bag

All through the last two years, I’ve struggled with my diaper bag. Don’t get me wrong – it was navy with anchors and was very cute. But, am I supposed to carry the diaper bag AND my already large purse, which I also love? I tried many times to fit the diaper essentials into my purse, and it was just a little too small. So I usually moved my essentials from my purse to the diaper bag, and just carried that. But sometimes/many times I’d forget an essential, like … my wallet. Plus, I didn’t love the look of carrying a bag everywhere that was clearly a diaper bag. 
So for Mother’s Day, my gift was a Better Life Bag. These bags are fair trade, and making these bags gives women in Detroit a second chance at life, and an opportunity to support themselves and their families. 
You can purchase from the ready-to-ship selections, but I chose to design my own! I got to pick the fabric, leather color, hardware color, pocket fabric, lining, and pockets. I’m SO pleased with how it turned out! Plus, I ordered the “Harper” bag, so it’s actually a backpack. I can fit an astonishing amount of stuff inside, and it’s so much more comfortable to carry on my back than my shoulder!
I actually like it so much, it’s become my work bag too. I can fit my Surface and notebooks inside for work, and then once I’m home, I can switch them out for the diaper essentials, and I’m ready for our weekend adventures! 
I recently took it as my carry on bag on a work trip. I could fit my Surface, magazines, books, and all my clothes and toiletries inside for my overnight trip.
I can’t recommend this bag enough – and they’re not paying me to say that. It’s an incredible value, and for a great cause! 

2. Holy Yoga YouTube Videos


I’m starting to figure out that I actually need to invest in taking care of myself, otherwise, I’m not going to be able to take care of others. I’m not about to join Brian with the whole triathalon thing – so I’ve decided yoga is more my thing. I took a yoga class at the YMCA years ago and loved it. There’s a yoga studio downtown, but I’ve been looking for a “Holy Yoga” class. If you haven’t heard of Holy yoga – it’s yoga, but with Christian music and meditating on scripture. I thought it would be fun to try, but I haven’t found a class yet, so I started following along with some Youtube videos. I’ve really enjoyed these ones, especially the morning routines.

3. Breathe Devotional. 

This devotional book follows yoga so well! It’s by Life Lived Beautifully, and it’s about praying the Psalms. 

4. Rugs under $100. 

This blog post with boho chic rugs under $100 has made my life better. I’ve been looking for a vintagey-boho rug for the office for forever, and most rugs in that style are freaking expensive. But this blog post has so many good options!  From these options, I’ve found others in the depths of Amazon and Target. Now I just have to decide which one I like best. These are my three favorites, all for different reasons. Which would you vote for? 
Let me know in the comments below!

4 Steps to Up-cyle a Trader Joe’s Bag to a Trendy Paper Storage Bag

For a #FridayFinds post a few weeks ago, I mentioned the new paper bag trend. Initially, I was confused. Why are white paper bags cool? Why are they all over Pinterest? And why are they selling all over Etsy? 
If I had to guess, I’d say these are the new fabric cubes and bins. Maybe the reason they’re becoming popular is that storage solutions can be pricey, and this is a way to reuse what you already have. I’m still not sure why someone would buy one, but with some paint, I’m planning to DIY some Trader Joe’s bags and use them for storage in my closets. They do have a cool texture, and you can customize them easily. 

You will need: 

  • Trader Joe’s bags
  • Paint – I used white, gold, copper, and black to decorate mine
  • Foam brushes
Step 1: Paint your bag white. I think the white paint on the craft paper texture almost looks like canvas when it’s dry.
 
Step 2: Decorate your bag. This is the fun part! I looked at paper storage bags on Pinterest, like the ones I included in this post above, for my inspiration. For my first one, I painted copper metallic crosses.
Step 3: Fold down the top of the bag. This is by far the hardest part – I couldn’t seem to do it without tearing the top of the bag a bit. My only advice is to roll slowly, giving it a good crease now and then, and use some tape if it tears too noticeably. 
Step 4: Fill and display!
I had so many ideas for more bag designs – I made three more from Trader Joe’s bags, and then painted a few other smaller paper bags as well. I love how the metallic ones turned out!

The metallic ones are my favorite. 
What am I going to use these for? What WON’T I use them for? Currently, I’m using two in the linen closet to hold washcloths and extra toiletries, and one to hold craft supplies. I might use some of the smaller ones for some plants. I’ll post it on Instagram when I find them all a home 🙂 
So, what do you think of the paper storage bag trend? Are you in?

DIY: Make Your Own Tasseled Fabric Banner Wall Hanging in An Afternoon

Every time I passed that Target end cap, the cute spring banners almost jumped into my basket of their own accord. But somehow, every time one thought compelled me to put them back on the shelf, the thought that “I could make this!” 
It’s a thought that can often lead an enthusiastic crafter astray. But fear not – today’s project really is as easy as they come, and the end results can’t be beat! You can make these banners with any phrase of importance to you – honestly, that’s the hardest part, just narrowing down the quote options!
Once you’ve decided, you’ll be able to whip up a couple of these in one afternoon. Here’s what you’ll need: 
  • White cotton fabric – or really, any color of cotton fabric! For your message to be most readable, I recommend keeping it a solid color.
  • Scissors and a ruler
  • A piece of copy paper for your pattern
  • Craft glue
  • Sharpie paint pens, or fabric paint, or a metalic fabric marker, like the copper one I used, that I bought at Joanns. Here’s the closest paint I could find on Amazon.
  • A small stick from the backyard, or wood skewers, like you’d use for grilling
  • Embroidery thread for tassels and hanging
  • Pencil, or water soluble pen

Step 1: Make your pattern by marking the center of your piece of paper, and using your ruler to measure up the sides of the paper and connect the dots to mark the triangle sections you’ll cut off.

Step 2: Fold your fabric over so that you can cut out two identical pieces at the same time, and place your banner pattern on top. Then, cut out the two pieces.

Step 3: Glue the two pieces together, staying very close to the edges. Glue all the edges together except for the top – leave the top of banner open, so that when the glue dries, you can turn the whole thing inside out. Yes, you could sew the edges, but ain’t nobody got time for that.

Step 4: While the glue is drying, make some tassels! These are super easy. Just wrap some thread around your fingers until you have the thickness you’d like.

Slide the thread off your hand, and tie a small piece of thread around it, like so. This will be the top of your tassel.

Then, wrap thread around the tassel a small distance from the top, and tie the ends of the thread together to secure it.

Cut the loop at the bottom of the tassel, and fluff up the threads.

Super easy! Here’s another tutorial, just in case.

Step 5: Now that your glue hem has dried, turn the banner inside out to have nice finished edges. Add some glue to the top edge, and fold it over. This will be the back of the banner.

Step 6: Cut two 1 inch wide strips of fabric, and fold them in half. Then glue the ends down to the back of the banner.

Step 7: Now for the fun part! Write your message or draw your design on the front of your banner. I drew mine on paper first, and traced it onto the fabric with the light from a window. I used a water soluble pen, so I could just dab off the blue after I was finished with the painting.

I traced the letters on one banner with my copper fabric marker, and use my gold Sharpie paint pen on the other. I LOVE how both turned out!

Step 8: I did break out the needle and thread to sew on the tassels. Just a couple stitches through the top should do it.

Step 9: Then I slid one banner onto a wooden skewer, after cutting off the pointy end. I hung the other one from a stick from the backyard – a stick that had a previous life as a wizard wand. I tied some embroidery thread to the stick and the skewer for hanging.

This was so much more satisfying than just buying a cheap banner from Target! I’m officially hooked. I’d love to try embroidering on one next, or using navy blue fabric with white fabric paint, or experimenting with pompoms and tassels. There’s so many options, I just might need one in every room!
What did you think of this craft? If you liked it, pin it or share it!
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means that when you purchase something, I made a little percentage. Thanks for supporting my craft habit!

Life Lately: Our Spring

When I text Brian, “Can we just run away?” And he texts back, “Yes,” it’s time to take a vacation. In March, we didn’t really have time to take an actual vacation, but we did squeeze in a day trip to Payson, AZ. That day, it happened to be 90 degrees in Phoenix and a balmy 78 in Payson, so we picked the perfect time for our mini spring break!

After a visit to the Rim County Museum (not recommended for toddlers, but if you do go, FYI there’s a bunch of toys UPSTAIRS. Just go up there first, instead of at the end!) We found the perfect place for lunch. We were still on our Whole 30 Challenge for the month of March, and we found great options at the Mongollon Moose!

We stopped at a bike shop (as always) and Edison was quite taken with the rocks he found outside. Then we took a short drive up to a lake, and did a little “hiking”… aka, walking in the woods, ate some snacks, and taught Edison how to throw rocks in the water. 

We had just enough time to stop at an Antique shop before it closed – Granny’s Attic Antiques. They gave Edison the baby, and then when I found the carved candlelabra and vintage Mickey Mouse book, they were close to closing, so they gave those to me for free also. That’s the best kind of antiquing! Note to self: take a cute kid with you to get good deals.

Very last minute, Brian and I decided to do the Walk for Life. It’s a short walk – 2.5 miles – and it doesn’t cost anything to participate, but you can raise funds by having people sponsor you, and the funding goes to our local crisis pregnancy centers. In one week, we were able to raise $375!

As part of the 2.5 mile walk, we got to tour the Tempe center. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but I was so impressed by the facility and the staff. The ultrasound and exam rooms were comfortable, welcoming, peaceful, and professional. The center’s licensed medical and volunteer staff provides free pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, abortion information and risks counseling, low-cost STD testing and treatment, childbirth and parenting classes, men’s mentoring, post-abortive recovery groups, and abuse recovery groups. All without ANY government funding – it’s completely funded through donations.

At the end of March, we renewed our Zoo membership, which reminded us that this is the perfect time of year to take advantage of it!

We’ve gone almost every weekend – and it’s so fun to see Edison picking up the animal names. The mammal (camel) and monkeys are favorites.

This is how I did my Lent Bible study on weekends – with the company of a little cuddler.

My sister-in-law Andrea visited us for a weekend on her spring break from teaching! Of course that would be the weekend Edison had major allergy issues, which made playing outside a little challenging. All the more cuddles for her, though! Edison missed her when she left – he asked about where “Anya” went.
A few other great #toddlerlife moments: 
When mama doesn’t want to wear the shoes you picked out for her to church.

When you ask for a banana, then get so mad when mama peels it before giving it to you that you throw it on the floor, and then immediately regret that decision.

We try to keep a sense of humor about the toddler meltdowns! Overall, this stage has been really fun. Watching him sleep stretched out in his crib, he seems so big, and yet still so small. He’s so quickly becoming a boy and not a baby anymore.

This weekend, the temps are supposed to climb to 100 degrees, meaning it’s the end of our spring and the start of summer. I’ll miss having the doors and windows open all day, and letting the cool breeze fill the house. But I’m happy to say goodbye to spring allergies, and hello to pool time! 
Just like each season brings it’s own joys and challenges, I’m learning that parenting really goes in seasons too. Nothing stays the same for long, and just when you think you’ve got things figured out, there’s new growth and change. But the new joys and discoveries make up for the things we leave behind. 
What season of the year is your favorite? Do you have a favorite parenting season as well? Let me know in the comments below. 
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