Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Diamond Candle Giveaway!

Let me paint you a picture.... by the light of a flame.... You walk into a store and veer into the candle aisle. You are enticed by "Peaches and Cream" and "Vanilla Sugar Cookie," and find yourself lifting off the glass lids to try each and every one. After hotly debating the merits of fruity candles versus nature-scented candles with your sister or friend, you select the Vanilla Sugar Cookie. You take it home, eager for it to fill your home with its magical scent.... but sadly, it only smells like smoke and wax. The only time you ever enjoy the smell of Vanilla Sugar Cookie again is when you stick your nose right inside that candle.

Has that ever happened to you? Or just me? Time and time again I've been disappointed with a candle I think is going to smell amazing, only to find that it doesn't smell at all while I'm actually burning it.

When Diamond Candles contacted me about a giveaway, I was intrigued by the concept: In each candle, there is a ring inside. Most are worth around $10, but they can be worth up to $5,000. While I was interested in the ring, I wondered if maybe.... finally.... this would be the candle that smelled amazing the entire time I was burning it.

And guess what? It was. I chose the Vanilla Lime scent, and my entire family commented on the fantastic scent first day I started burning it (and several more times after that). "Is that a soy candle?" my husband asked. (Yes.) How does he know these things?

My kids were eagerly involved in the process of burning down to the ring. Every day they begged to burn the candle so we could get close enough to get the ring out, and when we finally unwrapped it, they were practically elbowing each other in the face trying to be the first one to see the ring!
Ooooh..... Ahhhhh.....
Wanna see the ring that came with mine? While there are all different styles posted by customers on the Diamond Candle Facebook page, I really liked the one that came with my candle. It had a yellowish stone in the middle, with diamond-looking stones all around it. If you want to trade your ring, there's also a Diamond Candle Trade page on Facebook (not affiliated with the Diamond Candle website). You can also check out pictures of the rings on Pinterest or Instagram.
Have to wear the ring on my middle finger because my fingers are freakishly small. :(

Waiting for the candle to burn down to the ring made me think of childhood memories of the prizes in boxes of cereal and Cracker Jacks, and the anticipation was really fun. However, my primary reasons for purchasing one in the future would be for their outstanding quality, fast shipping, and amazing scents. They also have customer reviews on their website, which I always appreciate. My husband and I were both impressed by the quality of the candle and the smell, and we will definitely be repeat customers! I think next time we'll go for Cinnamon Roll, Lavender Lemon, or Apple Slice. Check out their website and see which scents appeal to you!

Diamond Candles has offered one of our readers their own free candle (includes shipping!). Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: I was provided with a Diamond Candle in exchange for my honest opinions about their product.

Pin It!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Easy Homemade Lip Gloss Tutorial!

So yesterday my 7-year-old asked if we could start planning her birthday party, which is coming up in a few weeks, and I told her no, since I hadn't blogged my lip gloss recipe from her birthday party last year. Seems reasonable, right? Not to her, apparently. So I guess I'd better get going.

Need a simple, fun craft for a birthday party or a rainy day? Here is the absolute EASIEST way to make homemade lip gloss.

I was inspired by the most at Meet the Dubiens, but needed something easier for the format of a birthday party. My daughter was having a pajama party/spa night-themed party, and I wanted the girls to make the lip gloss themselves for a craft. Pretty much every recipe out there I've seen involves heating a bowl full of Vaseline. Hmmmm... sounded kind of unsafe to have around a bunch of sugared-out 6-year-olds, and also not as interactive as I'd like a birthday party craft to be.

So this was our solution....

We decided to spoon the Vaseline into little Ziplock baggies ahead of time. I got small containers, so we only did a little bit of Vaseline in each one (maybe two or three of these spoonfuls - see picture of filled bags below). I think we let each girl do two or three flavors.
Here we go.... all ready for the party guests!

First, the girls held their baggie in a bowl of warm water. They need to hold it there until the Vaseline melts. And, uh, this is my own daughter doing one of our practice rounds. I did not have all our party guests sit on the counter next to bowls of hot water. Only the best for my kids.

Then, open it up and sprinkle some powdered Kool-Aid in there. We had all the different flavors of Kool-Aid in little bowls, and just had the girls put a few pinches of the Kool-Aid in their bags.

We found that adding a little drop of water to the powder sort of "activated" the color and made the color of the lip gloss much more vibrant.

After that, have the kids squish the Kool-Aid and Vaseline together until they are well mixed.

Finally, cut a small piece off the corner of the Ziplock and squeeze the lip gloss into your container of choice (no mess!). We got these in the beading area of Michael's, and they had several sizes to choose from. We went with small ones so that the girls could make several. Let the girls decorate with stickers, if desired!
Here's how they looked in the gift bags with the other party favors - so cute!
The girls LOVED this craft, and the lip gloss actually tasted pretty good! And, after cleaning the Vaseline off of that one spoon, I was suuuuuuuuper glad I didn't have a big bowl of Vaseline to clean out. So, enjoy!

I guess I'll give up hope on Google Reader ever coming back. Have you done this yet? -->Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Pin It!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Day After Day

The picture of exhausted motherhood....
Do you ever look around at the dirty dishes in the sink and piles of toys, paper, and clutter around your house, and think, "Being a mom kind of sucks sometimes." Because I do, and then I hate myself for it. I know that I'm blessed to have children, and so fortunate to have a career where I get to be home with them for three months out of the year while still making a living wage. But I am telling you...

It seems like everything I do all day just gets undone, either gradually or immediately, but that there is nothing that lasts. Do the dishes, then they're back. Do the laundry, then it's overflowing again. Pick up the downstairs, turn around and step on more clutter. The kids make their beds, then drag all the bedding onto the floor to build forts. And I started to think, "This is pointless. Nothing I do matters. I have to do it all again and again and no one even cares."

I found myself thinking longingly about my job, and the freshness of it all. I would think resentfully, Well, at least at WORK when I do something, it doesn't immediately come undone. I can teach my students something, create in my classroom, collaborate with a co-worker.... and in the morning? It's all still done. I can see those students years from now and the impact I made, the things I taught - those things last.

But then I realized something. The things I do as a mother are enjoyable, and they do last. The part that drives me crazy? It's just housekeeping. My new summer mantra - "I hate housekeeping. I love mothering."

And really? It's the same thing at school. I love teaching, but the housekeeping at my work drives me crazy too. Every single weekend there are lesson plans to write. I have to submit grades for every student, every subject, every week (blech!). I have report cards, progress notes, etc. Every August I complete the hideous task of writing a schedule for my services, every March I have to make up groups for our standardized testing. Those are the housekeeping tasks of my job, and I do hate them. They are repetitive, sometimes hard, and sometimes I feel it will never end.

At home the dishes, laundry, cleaning, etc. - same thing. Repetitive, sometimes hard, seemingly never-ending. But just housekeeping.

The things that I do as a mother? Those things do last. I did an Afternoon Adventure with my kids every single day. We went to the park, we did science experiments, we did nature scavenger hunts.
 We spent time with family and had new experiences.
We bought kids' kayaks and all my kids learned to use them (even my 3-year-old!). (And even me!)
We traveled.
We took long rides on the paddleboat and talked about life.
And I got to be there for all of it. So even though I still hate cleaning with a passion, and resent that there is no cleaning fairy to help me with ten thousand loads of dishes and laundry, I cannot let myself get bogged down in thinking that that is what motherhood is all about. My joy in motherhood has nothing to do with my home, and everything to do with hanging out with these three beautiful, kind, hilarious little people. And they are awesome. Now let's get them going on the ten thousand loads of laundry, and then we'll really have a deal.

Pin It!

Monday, August 5, 2013

How to Speak Kid: Ending the Clutter Guilt

How many items of clothing can they wear at once?
It's pretty widely agreed-upon in the world of organization that holding onto things out of a sense of guilt is not a good idea. But how often do we say to our kids something like, "You can't get rid of that! Aunt Amy bought that for you for your birthday and you haven't even worn in yet!" or, "I gave that to you for Christmas and you've barely even played with it!"

Stop and think - do we want to convey to our kids the message that they should hang onto things just because of guilt? Isn't that a habit that many of us are actively try to break?

As adults, things should be in our homes because we love them and use them. Difficult as it might sometimes be, this is a lesson I'm trying to teach my kids from the time they are young. Then, hopefully, when they are adults, it will spare them the guilt-induced anxiety of agonizing whether or not to keep the hideous cat sweater just because it was a gift from grandma.

The last time I went through my 7-year-old's closet with her, we made a deal. I held up each and every article of clothing, and she either said "Good" or "Done." "Done" could mean that it doesn't fit anymore, it's not comfortable, she doesn't like it, whatever. She doesn't need to explain it to me. At first this was hard for her to get used to. "It's just itchy around my neck," she'd say regretfully, looking up at me with big, anxious eyes. "Don't worry!" I kept assuring her. "You can get rid of stuff you don't want anymore. You don't have to explain it to me. If you don't love it and wear it, I don't want you to keep it." She also gets a lot of hand-me-downs from her cousin, some of which are really nice, but just not her style. She doesn't need to keep those. She doesn't need to keep gifts that she doesn't play with, clothes that are uncomfortable, toys that she's outgrown, or anything she doesn't use and love.

Obviously if you have a child constantly begging you for things and then not wearing or using them, you'd need a different plan. But I don't even mind getting rid of something that one of my kids begged for every once in a while. Have you ever bought something you really loved at the time, only to find that you didn't really like it after all? Or someone asked if you were pregnant when you wore a certain dress, or it didn't fit right, etc.? I try to give my kids the same allowances. Maybe she really did love the Hello Kitty shirt when she begged for it, but then someone in her class said only Kindergarteners wear Hello Kitty. Maybe the swimming suit looked really cute to her at the time, but the stitching was terribly itchy. It's okay. It's okay as adults to get rid of things we don't use and love, and it's okay for kids to get rid of things they use and love. Getting rid of it is no more wasteful than letting it sit there, unused. If anything, it's less wasteful because someone else can be using it.

So next time you're going through your kid's room with them, think carefully about the messages that you're conveying about their possessions. Think about your own goals and attitudes about clutter and organization, and the ways we all wish we were better. Maybe, hopefully, with some understanding and grace, we'll get a generation that won't grow up afraid to get rid of the cat sweater. Maybe someday I will be so brave.

Pin It!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

This is Actual Life

So this kid is hilarious. She's my youngest, and she's famous for being kind of a foodie. She loves spices, sauces, meat, veggies, pretty much anything. But one thing she does NOT enjoy is melted cheese. Weird, right? She can't handle a quesadilla unless she dips it in boatloads of salsa, and grilled cheese is a no-way for her. What kind of a kid wolfs down curry but won't eat grilled cheese? This one.

So the other night I was feeling tired, lazy, and sick of cooking dinner. I decided to make nachos, thinking I would be such an awesome mom. As I set her plate in front of her, she reminded me that she does not like melted cheese, "except the fluffy kind." What in the world does that even mean? Three-year-olds are crazy.

The awesome part is that she informed me that while she doesn't mind "fluffy" melted cheese, whatever that is, she will eat "flat" melted cheese, whatever that is. Lucky for me, she apparently doesn't know the difference between fluffy cheese and "flat" cheese. So for each chip, she would hold it up and ask me, "Is this fluffy cheese or flat cheese?" I'm no dummy - they were all flat cheese. A total miracle. Not one chip on her plate had fluffy cheese, so she ate every single last one. Dipped in boatloads of salsa, of course. :)

Pin It!