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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Making Your Home Perfect is No Longer an Impossible Dream

Making Your Home Perfect is No Longer an Impossible Dream
While some dream about travelling and adventures, most of us have more pedestrian aspirations like buying a home and making it our own. Honestly, for me, nothing compares with the satisfaction you get when you create or transform a place using your own creativity. There’s nothing more beautiful and heart-warming than having your own corner of the world where all your ideas and dreams could come true.
Even more, when you become a mother and the family starts to get bigger, you have the wonderful opportunity to create for your children. The perfect home will have to contain your son/daughter’s room, a play room, a garden where children can have precious moments and so on. But let’s see what you could do with each room in order to create the perfect place for everyone.

A corner for you

Yes, the family will always come first for you, but what about those short moments of relaxation when you get to enjoy some time for yourself? Well, those moments should be celebrated in a space designed just for you.
Our recommendation is to create a secluded corner in the house where you can hit back with a good book or a tablet. This corner can use a few luxury touches like a small white sofa combined with a small mahogany table and some beautiful vertical flowers. Also, adding a few elements of art like big paintings or sculptures will definitely make you feel inspired and will help you recharge the batteries for a new round with the family.

The living room

This room is for the entire family so everybody should have a saying in how they want it to look. I know, you may want it to be sumptuous, with lots of space and elegant furniture. However, the kids won’t appreciate your interior design taste, which is why it’s best if you separate it in activity areas.
Thus, the kids could have a corner of their own with toys and fluffy carpets where they can play without harming themselves and you and your husband can enjoy a big, fluffy sofa with a coffee table and lots of space for friends and other adults.

The kitchen

This is a room where anyone should feel welcome and inspired. That’s why it is recommended to include practical furniture that will help you clear out space and maximize the storage area. Also, a kitchen island with all it takes could also be a great addition if you like to cook.
The furniture and the setting will help you keep an eye on the food cooking on the stove while allowing your children to help out and get acquainted with how delicious food is made. There’s nothing better than when the entire family helps out on preparing dinner.

The backyard

Kids definitely love to play outside so why not make the place better for them? First, make sure that the backyard is covered with a green layer of grass that will cushion their falls. Next, build them a playhouse or a tree house – they’ll love it! Even more, they’ll bring friends over, just to brag about their great outside playing area.

In the end, even if it may seem like a lot of effort, building the perfect house for you and your family will be a pleasure. It is a long process and it requires both patience and creativity, but you’ll love the feeling.
Monday, February 22, 2016

What Sara Wore... For a Comfy and Casual Date

I had so much fun sharing what I wore with you guys last week that I couldn't wait to share another edition of What Sara Wore with you! In this edition, I was dressing for a very comfy and casual date with my husband. We got a sitter for the afternoon so we could go see a movie together.

Since Harper was born, Adam and I have been away from the kids, together, 2 times. Once to dinner to celebrate his new job as the librarian and one brief 90 minutes to pack a moving truck...

Getting to go out, kid free seemed surreal. I had ambitions to get all dolled up, but Adam and I agreed we could be casual and wear whatever. This made it a lot easier to pick an outfit I could be comfortable in for a long movie.


I went with my favorite of all favorites a Ponte Knit Fit and Flare Circle Skirt in In the Navy from Old Navy. I love the fit and flare of this skirt.  The fit of the skirt is  great for my curvy figure. The skirt falls about 3 inches about my knee and is perfect for a warm day when you want to look good but feel comfortable.

I paired my skirt with a relaxed fit v neck t shirt in a dark charcoal. While this makes me sound really boring, I am crazy into the color charcoal right now. Dark gray as a favorite? Why not. It matches darn near everything and it looks really nice with my dark hair and blue eyes.

I always struggle with pairing shoes to my outfits. I was leaning towards a pair of Sangrens Swedish Clogs, but I settled on a pair of simple black flats from my collection. Old Navy of course, because I am a mom with an obsession... what else would I wear?

My outfit was simple. I was beyond comfortable because this is like what I wear every day.

In case you are interested in the date. Adam and I went to see Star Wars. We dashed into Target afterwards as we missed our kids and wanted to get them a surprise. After picking toys {Doc McStuffins set and a Chewbacca} and 70% off Godiva Valentines Candy... we intended to go to TGIFridays for dinner but decided the wait wasn't worth it. A change of plans took us to Charley's for Philly Cheesesteaks.

A quiet atmosphere and great food was a nice way to end the night, we headed home to our kids, who were having fun, up late and happy to see us!
Friday, February 19, 2016

Upcycle Coffee Can Project

I have a big serious love of contact paper! You guys! This stuff is amazing! I have to stop myself when I get on a kick to buy contact paper because I want it ALL! I see different colors and prints and I think about all of the possibilities of projects I could work on.

You might remember that I made a DIY Blanket Box for under my daughter's crib a few months ago. That got me on a contact paper craft craze! Nothing was safe from my stash of contact paper! I created a few decorative containers that can be used for so many things!

I used mine to store markers in, as well as a really cute and simple way to organize kitchen things like wooden spoons and glass straws.

Materials needed to Upcycle a Coffee Can into a decorative storage container:
Contact Paper in your choice of prints.
Scissors
A clean coffee can or two
A utility knife




This project was so easy to do!

First, clean the interior of the coffee can to be sure there are not coffee grounds there!

Next make a measurement on how long and wide to cut your paper based on the size of the can. This is what I love about contact paper... it is so easy to measure, cut and work with!

Peel a small strip of the backing off of the contact paper and place it on your coffee can. Slowly, peel the paper back while smooting the adhesive paper to the surface.


As you cover the can, you are likely to have a little excess around the rims. No biggie, this is so easily remedied! You can use your utility knife to trim around the rims really easily! Just be careful, as those things are crazy sharp!

Everyone that sees my upcycled coffee can says "Where did you get them?" They are really cute, they used to match my kitchen perfectly before our move, and they have been surprisingly easy to keep clean {use a baby wipe}!

This upcycle project really didn't cost me anything to complete as I had materials on hand already, but I would say a thrifty shopper could find contact paper at Dollar Tree and make 4 of these {estimate} for $1.


Do you ever reuse a coffee can? I would love to hear how!
Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What Sara Wore The Old Navy and Ecco Edition

Hi. My name is Sara. I seem like a very average mom, but I have been harboring a secret. I am an addict...

I can't get enough of Old Navy's Ponte Knit Fit and Flare skirts. I have every color! 2 of some of them. I hoard Jersey Knit Circle Skirts like the end is coming and I need to have them to be prepared for the future.... Leggings... oh the sweet leggings from Old Navy.

I have a problem. I can't stop shopping Old Navy.

Some of my friends and some of my readers will get it. Old Navy offers stylish clothing for the entire family. They have the best sales. Period. I might be a mom, I might have kid messes to deal with all day long, but I can still look good, in durable clothes that didn't break my bank to buy.

I was talking to my husband a few days ago, and somehow the phrase "I LOVE OLD NAVY!!" was squealed with delight. My dear Adam smiled and said, "My dear, I think it is safe to say, Old Navy loves you too at this point."

Okay, now you know the reason that I am addicted to Old Navy.

I thought it would be a lot of fun to share with you guys what I am loving from Old Navy from time to time. Keep in mind, I do mix my brands up a little. You will notice in this edition of What Sara Wore that I pair my outfit up with gorgeous Hobart boots from Ecco. I wasn't sold on the boots for the outfit, but it is winter, with the temps hovering around 1 degree above zero- I felt these were the best choice for suitable footwear and warmth that I could make.



The top is a top lightweight knit sweater in Goodnight Nora {I believe}. It is really a great sweater. Not too heavy or hot, it is comfortable to wear and versatile.

The skirt is a High Rise Midi Pencil Skirt in blue stripes. The picture doesn't do it justice. It is really lovely in person! The skirt came just above my knees. I liked the fit and the length.

I walked out of my local Old Navy store with the sweater and skirt for about $22. Considering I can mix and match both items with other favorite Old Navy items, I think the outfit was a great buy for a great look.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Tangerine Soufflés

Tangerine Soufflés recipe by Paulding & Company adapted from a recipe in Bon Appétit, March 1998

Soufflés are a delicious way to add a global feel to any meal. You don’t have to go all the way to Paris to enjoy this fabulous French dessert because Paulding & Company have made this European favorite oh-so accessible.   

What's the secret to a good soufflé? Beating the egg whites with the sugar until they are stiff and still very shiny, then folding them into the flavor base carefully in two or three additions so that the whites do not deflate. This dessert has an intense tangerine flavor, which comes from using the entire fruit, except for its seeds, of course. Any leftover tangerine syrup can be added to sparkling wine to make a mimosa with a twist.




Yield: Ten 2/3 cup servings
  • 10  2/3 cup soufflé dishes (or custard cups)
  • butter and sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 pound peel-on tangerines, quartered and seeded
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1 cup chilled whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
1.     Butter the soufflé molds; dust with sugar and arrange on baking sheet.

2.     Bring orange juice, 1 cup sugar and tangerines to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cover pan, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tangerines are very tender, about 35 minutes. Strain mixture through sieve set over medium bowl, pressing firmly on fruit. Transfer fruit to food processor; puree until tangerine peel is finely chopped (or chop fine by hand). Return puree to saucepan; mix in 1/2 cup strained syrup, reserving remaining syrup for another use. Puree can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

3.     Preheat oven to 400°F. If you have a convection oven, you do NOT want to use that setting. Stir tangerine puree over low heat until barely warm if it’s been refrigerated; set aside.

4.     Beat egg whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Beat in 1/2 cup sugar, adding it gradually, until egg whites are stiff and glossy.

5.     Gently stir 1/4 of whites into warm tangerine puree in saucepan. Then gently fold tangerine mixture into remaining whites in bowl. Divide mixture among prepared dishes.

6.     Bake until puffed and brown, about 15 minutes.

7.     While soufflés are baking, or earlier if desired (it can hold in the refrigerator for an hour or two), beat cream, orange liqueur and 1 tablespoon sugar in large bowl until stiff peaks form; refrigerate if making in advance.

8.     As soon as the soufflés come from the oven, serve them, with a scoop of the whipped cream to add as each diner breaks open their soufflé.

Note: If you want to make larger soufflés, use eight 1-cup dishes. Increase the cooking time by 1-2 minutes.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Paper Cookies A Preschool Food Craft

My kids are so cute! They always want to help in the kitchen! When I do dishes, my daughter Harper will push a chair into the kitchen and climb up to the sink. She will say "I can do this Mom!" or she will want to help make coffee and push all of the buttons. If there is cooking involved my son dashes in, ready to help! I welcome their company in the kitchen 90% of the time. But, as any mom will tell you, there are times when having small kids in the kitchen is not the best idea.

On those rare times, I feel bad to deny their help, so I came up with a few fun food crafts that the kids can make while I am occupied with a complicated recipe.  The first one we did as you might recall was a pizza craft. The kids had so much fun making pizzas! We have made several of these since the post!

Tonight I was frying chicken, a rare thing that I admit, I am not so great at. I didn't want the kids to get splashed with hot oil so I entertained them with a paper cookie craft. It was a huge hit!



This was incredibly easy for the kids to make, the materials were super simple making preparation a breeze for me, and best of all- this craft does not require anything special. Seriously, you are going to have the supplies in your house!


Materials Needed to Make Paper Cookies

Several Brown Paper Bags or brown or yellow construction paper
Glue
Sprinkles
A Paper Plate

Instructions

To begin, cut circle shapes in the brown bags or construction paper as your cookie base.
{I cut about 30 circles at a time so that we can do this craft multiple times}.


Place as many circle cookie shapes as you like on the paper plate.
Drizzle glue onto the circle 'cookies'
Decorate with sprinkles
Allow to dry.

This was so fun for the kids! We will be making these again soon I am sure! Do you like to do paper crafts with your kids? I would love to hear about your favorites!
Monday, February 8, 2016

3 Cities That Are Perfect For Stimulating Your Child's Brain



No matter where you are in England, there is somewhere nearby that is perfect for taking your kids. As we all know well, keeping your kids entertained is perhaps the most difficult task facing parents. It seems like their attention spans are constantly conspiring against you, and they'll soon be bored. This can be frustrating, especially considering all the money we spend on the latest toys and gadgets!


Sometimes, though, all your kids need is to take a step outside their comfort zone. Despite the fact that children desperately need routine, they're all little amateur explorers in their own right. If they're stuck facing the same four walls every day, it's no wonder if they start acting out once in awhile, is it? Sometimes, all it takes is a little bit of fun.


Children have a unique perspective on the world. Everything they come across is vivid, bold, and fresh. It's exciting to them. They want to create new experiences for themselves, even if they don't quite know it yet. So, next time you find your kids acting out, maybe consider taking them somewhere else. It's not rewarding bad behaviour by any means. It's simply allowing their freedom to flourish. Here are a few ideas to give you inspiration.




Blackpool


Children, despite what you may think, aren't as easily overwhelmed as we seem to fear. We often worry that too much noise around them will throw them off. But, you'll be surprised by how durable they actually are. Indeed, in small doses, they can thrive off flashing lights and plenty of visual stimulation. Where better to demonstrate that kind of stuff than Blackpool? How could they even think about being bored with so much going on around them? Best of all, trips to Blackpool are often very cheap, which makes it perfect for families.




London


There is a reason that London is the capital of England - it's a cultural hotbed with plenty of diversity. Depending on where you live, it's that kind of versatility that you might not get to experience very often. And why shouldn't you? Experiencing new cultures, cuisines, and atmospheres should be something you crave as much as your child. That's why a visit to London could be a match made in heaven. With plenty of things to see and do, no matter how old your child, there'll be something to keep him heartily engaged all day long.




York

There is perhaps no other city in England that has as unique an atmosphere as York does. If you can manage to get there in a reasonable amount of time, you should always aim to see it in all its glory. Indeed, the city itself is steeped in fascinating architecture that is still prevalent today. While your child may not be able to appreciate the intricacies from a historical perspective, they will still marvel at them. Whether it's the old-fashioned buildings, or the unique walls that run around the entire city. They'll be full of questions, and the answers will keep their brains engaged.
Thursday, February 4, 2016

Do the South Of France Like A Millionaire






Now and again most of us get a hankering to live the good life. It can be cathartic not to worry about the expense and just have a good time once in awhile. Why not extend that to a whole holiday? For a week or two, you could live like a millionaire, though without actually having the buy the luxury house and the supercar. What better place to do that than the South of France?


The location is everything


The French Riviera has it all. For nearly two hundred years it’s been attracting people drawn by its warm climate and gentle ambience. Some of the greatest artists in the world travelled down here because of the quality of the light and the colours. Matisse, Renoir and Chagall among others made it a base. That charm and colour are all still here. It is also a land of contrasts. Marseille has always had a real sense of rakish charm, and that still is the case today. Then again up above in the hills, there are lovely towns such as Grimaud or the Medieval Village of Eze. Everywhere you are surrounded by scented vegetation and with views over impossibly blue sea. The Cote d'Azur ambience is infectious. Antibes is where you will find all the super yachts, and St Tropez is legendary, albeit a little busy in the summer.

Stay in style


To sample the South of France in style, you have to stay in a luxury villa. That means with all the trimmings. A view of the Med would be nice, but on top of everyone's list would be a lovely infinity pool to sit around and take a dip whenever you felt like it. The best thing about hiring a villa is the number of people that it can accommodate. If you get together and share the costs, a millionaire pad can be had for not much more than the cost of your apartment! Not bad for a top pad overlooking some of the most expensive real estate in the world. You could even have the service of a maid or a cook if you felt like it.


But then again a villa allows you complete freedom. You could quite easily cook for yourself and make a visit to the supermarket or even the market in St Tropez for your provisions. Having a villa means you are in control. You can choose when and how you are going to eat, or you could simply spend the day around the pool and dress up in your finery for a night out in on the town.
If you develop a taste for the finer things, you could always take your chances at the Monte Carlo Casino!

Do as the locals


Whether you are here for the Cannes Film Festival or not, there is no place quite like the Riviera to show off! You can simply enjoy the pleasure of being seen and people watching. This is the best place in the world to do some classic cafe grazing and bar hopping. The sea is free and getting your tan topped up doesn’t cost a penny. Nice has a great personality and you can while away hours in the narrow streets of the old town. It’s a choice place to grab a coffee and engage in some serious people watching. All in all, if you ever fancied indulging yourself in a stylish and super rich lifestyle the Riviera is still the place to do it.




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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Guide to Making Your First Investment

Investing is a great way to make some extra cash or make your retirement more comfortable. Here’s a guide to investing for the very first time.


Decide on an Amount


You want to start small when you’re making your first investment. There are many mistakes that first-time investors make. And it’s always better to make mistakes with a relatively small amount of cash than with a huge amount. Make sure you make a definite decision on how much you want to invest before you go ahead. It can be tempting to throw too much money at it when you start out. But that is not the way to make your investments sustainable and secure. Mistakes can be catastrophic at this stage, so it’s best to stay pretty conservative until you have a little more confidence.


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Compare Your Options


There are so many different types of investments that you can make when you’re starting out. Which one you choose will depend on how much cash you have, how much risk you want to take and how hands-on you want to be. For people who want a big project to undertake, investing in property might turn out to be a good idea. Stock markets are risky, but they can be a lot of fun as well. Visit the homepage of Alternative Investment Coach to find out about some alternative investments. There are lots of interesting ideas you can try out like investing in old toys or art.


Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket


When you put all your money into one investment, you are immediately taking an unnecessary risk. Think about it. If that investment fails, all your money goes down with it, and you’re left with nothing. If you think it’s a pretty sure bet, there is always a chance that it could all go horribly wrong. So, that’s why you should never put all your eggs in one basket. When you do that, you’re simply asking for trouble. Instead, you should be looking to spread your investments around a little. If you make numerous smaller investments, you can afford to lose out on one or two of them and still make some money. Putting all your money in one place is a common mistake that beginners make, so make sure you don’t make it too.


Know When to Withdraw


Sometimes, an investment simply doesn’t go to plan or how you wanted it to. This is when you have to stay cool and weigh up your options. Eventually, you will have to think about pulling your money out and looking for somewhere else to invest your money. Withdrawing your cash is just as risky as investing it. You could withdraw it and then see the price of the stock rise, and then you’ll wish you hadn’t. But these are risks you have to take sometimes. When you have gained more experience of investing, you will start to gain a better intuitive feel for when to stick and when to pull out.


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Image Source
Monday, February 1, 2016

DIY Photo Puzzle

My kids and I are really into crafting right now. On cold, rainy and yucky days like we have been having a lot of in Ohio, there is nothing better than digging into my craft cabinet and pulling out a few projects to entertain us when the weather is keeping us inside.

On one particular day, we ended up with a stack of duplicate photos and I knew that these should be put to good use instead of sitting in a photo box or ending up in the trash. After a few moments of careful consideration, I realized that a few craft sticks and some glue would take these double photos from miscellaneous junk into a treasure for the kids.

We came up with these DIY Photo Puzzles. We had so much fun gluing them together that we made a few to share with Grandparents and Daddy, as well as a stack for the kids to tinker with.

To make a DIY photo puzzle all you need is:

A photo
craft sticks
your favorite adhesive {we used glue sticks}
A utility knife

This project is so easy to make! All you need to do is:

Lay the picture side of the photo down and add glue to the back liberally.


Line up craft sticks across the back on the glued side of the picture.


Press firmly to allow the glue to bond to the craft sticks.

Flip the photo over

This step should be completed by an adult as utility knives are crazy sharp.

Carefully cut the photo between the sticks, continuing until the photo is cut into strips backed with a craft stick.

Allow the glue to dry.

Mix up the pieces and assemble the photo puzzle.

These are so much fun to give to people and they are a great challenge for my preschooler. My toddler finds them too difficult as of now, so we are going to make a few easier ones from cards we received over the 2015 holidays for her.

If you are looking for a last minute DIY gift idea or just a fun surprise for the kids, this one takes about 5 minutes tops to complete and is sure to bring a smile or two! Best of all, you likely have materials on hand to complete this project making it very frugal!




Completing 50 years of the Nehru jacket

The achkan is a North Indian variety of coat that has been transformed into a fashionable jacket named after the first prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru. The jacket is exclusively meant for men and has earned the distinction of being adored in the fashion world. Ever since its first appearance by the eminent personality in 1964, the dress was quickly adapted by the famous Beatles who wore it for a musical event in the following year. Thus the jacket is now a well known name in the fashion world. It has also gained wide popularity among the masses, especially the politicians and other dignitaries. The dress has remained true to its traditional design of straight box like shape with square shoulders and closed neck that perfectly matches with the macho appeal.
Patronized by politicians
The Nehru jacket can be considered as a dress that exclusively belongs to the political people who flaunt it to demonstrate their nationalism. Wearing the jacket enables the person to extract some kind of respect from the common man and also establish him as a distinguished personality. However, the appeal of the dress has also captured the attention of fashion lovers, who have not hesitated to pick it up and take it forward as another piece of fashionable Indian dress. The dress is high in its fashion quotient and has drawn the attention of the international audience by virtue of figuring in the Time magazine list of top 10 political fashion statements for the year 2012. This only shows how contemporary the dress is even after 50 years.
Widespread popularity
Ever since the jacket came into being, it has always attracted the western world. The first appearance was made memorable by Vogue magazine that carried a picture of Nehru wearing the jacket in 1964. Soon the world took notice of the new creation. The Beatles donning the jackets in the following year helped to spread its popularity very fast. Their craze for Indian ethnicity is well known and they played a crucial role in promoting the dress that has now proliferated through the masses.
Groom’s best friend
The jacket is a must have for Indian grooms who swear by its contemporary design and style that can leave many swooning. It is a very versatile dress that can be worn for all kinds of occasions with a wide variety of different trouser combination. No wedding can be complete without this jacket that has turned out to be the best friend of grooms. Worn over the kurta pyjama, it can make you look gorgeous. Even if you want to sport the most casual look, a sleeveless jacket with the trade mark breast pocket can be the perfect attire.
The jacket that we see today can boast of a lengthy historical lineage that dates back to the 10th century. With time, it has evolved into the most contemporary design, but the basic features have still been maintained. The international appeal of the dress has also enabled it to be showcased in Hollywood movies.
About the author – Tom Adams is a free lance journalist who spends time in following the fashion industry. Blogging comes to him naturally and he writes extensively on fashion topics. The charm of the Occidental world has always attracted him, especially the fashion world and the Nehru jacket.