DIY Picture Frame Dry Erase Board

Looking for an easy gift to whip up? One of our favorites is the DIY Dry Erase board that can add some personality to your message keeping.

Looking for an easy, quick gift? Turn any large frame into a patterned dry erase board. Simple how-to on Pars Caeli!

Looking for an easy, quick gift? Turn any large frame into a patterned dry erase board. Simple how-to on Pars Caeli!

The color (?) white has grown on me in recent years. But I will admit, I'm a true color lover so the idea of making a white board not so . . . white is right up my alley.

All you need is a larger frame (for a better writing surface), fabric, scissors, and sturdy tape. Pick fabric you love, but remember to keep it light enough that your writing will still show, and subdued enough in pattern that the fabric doesn't distract from the messaging.

All you need: fabric (preferably one lighter in color with subtle patterning), scissors, large wall frame, and tape.

All you need: fabric (preferably one lighter in color with subtle patterning), scissors, large wall frame, and tape.

Simply wrap the frame backing as you would a present, maintaining a tight pull on the fabric as you secure it with tape. The corners are the trickiest so trim as you need to be sure to get a flat finished edge.

My two daughters share a room so we created two of these blue marbled boards to unify their spaces. And I love that the boards are lovely pieces of art when not used for the latest homework tracking or doodling.

Looking for an easy, quick gift? Turn any large frame into a patterned dry erase board. Simple how-to on Pars Caeli!

Looking for an easy, quick gift? Turn any large frame into a patterned dry erase board. Simple how-to on Pars Caeli!

Fabric can be easily removed when you're ready for a new pattern, too! Way easier than repainting a room, wouldn't you say?

Looking for an easy, quick gift? Turn any large frame into a patterned dry erase board. Simple how-to on Pars Caeli!

Looking for an easy, quick gift? Turn any large frame into a patterned dry erase board. Simple how-to on Pars Caeli!

What do you prefer a white board? Or a dry erase board with personality?

xoxo, MJ

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The Challenge of 18 Summers

Join in a summer's full of activities and childhood joys on Pars Caeli. Every week, new ideas for ages 5-10, with supply lists ready a week in advance for big projects.

Join in a summer's full of activities and childhood joys on Pars Caeli. Every week, new ideas for ages 5-10, with supply lists ready a week in advance for big projects.

"Next year, he's off to college, and this is his last real summer at home. I don't know yet what we're going to do. I feel all this pressure, and I want to make it special, make the most of it."

My oldest is only 10, but I felt that same heart pang. I saw the softness in this mother's eyes--she, the amazing parent of eight children, ranging ages 3 to 18--as we chatted during t-ball team pictures. How do we make the most of the time we have with our children, while they're still at home?

I feel that pang a lot when it comes to childhood summers. I want so much the continual carpe diem experiences for my children. The bliss of chasing butterflies matched with the incredible camp that opens their eyes to new possibilities. The right amount of boredom to find the space to create their own adventures. The time making family memories together and traveling to see new places.

"One day you will wake up and there won't be any more time to do the things you've always wanted. Do it now." - Paulo Coelho

And, much like the mom that I was chatting with, I do put a lot of pressure on myself. I have a feeling I'm not the only one.

So how do we do it? Provide the planning and energy to make memories happen and mix it with the ease and the relaxation to allow spontaneity at its best.

Frankly, I'm not sure. I'll likely stress about it and not do enough BUT nevertheless I'm inviting you into our summer journey to try some bucket list activities, to relive some of the joyful activities of our own childhoods, and to experiment with new projects! For newsletter subscribers, I'll send a supply list every Friday so you can join along and preview future ideas. No worries, most projects will include easy items you have right in your home.

And I want to see what you're up to with your children, from infant to college age. How do you make the most of the summer together? Share your tweets and photos using the hashtag #18summerschallenge, and I'll repost select ideas to help us all!! And don't forget to share and to subscribe to be a part of the best summer of childhood.

We can do this, enjoy our times together and make them memorable. Cheers to a wonderful summer ahead.

xoxo, MJ

 

 

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How Much Water do you need?

It used to be 8 by 8, but now doctors are recommending something different. How do you know if you're drinking enough and a simple idea to try to help you stay hydrated.

It used to be 8 by 8, but now doctors are recommending something different. How do you know if you're drinking enough and a simple idea to try to help you stay hydrated.

One of the great birthday gifts I gave myself this year is the gift of good health. I feel really blessed to have no major ailments, injuries, or physical challenges, but I also have a ways to go to feel fit, healthy, and strong. One area that I'm focusing on in particular is hydration.

How much water do you drink a day? How much liquid in total? I've always wondered if I'm getting enough (though checking out the toilet bowl after a quick pee is a good indication - clear for hydrated, yellow for dehydrated). I know that I need to add more to my daily intake. The old 8 for 8 rule (8, 8-oz glasses of water a day) is a good standby, but I've also been reading that there's more to it than that. So I did some fact finding for us.

Our body weight is made up of about 60 percent water. Everything, every system and organ, depends on water. It flushes out toxins, carries nutrients, and provides moisture - just to name a few all star traits.

It seems that the new recommendation for how much water to ingest varies on your gender, your weight, and your activity levels. Makes sense. The Institute of Medicine recommends about 9 cups (2.2 liters) of total beverages a day for women. Notice that the rec is beverages so that other liquids can/should be consumed as well, particularly to replace important electrolytes that might be lost in physical exertion and sweat. Don't fret, you don't have to down Gatorade. Doctors say adding a bit of sea salt to your drink adds the same beneficial effects.

According to WebMD, "you should try to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh, every day.” So if you weigh 150 pounds for example, you're looking at 75 to 150 ounces of water a day.

I also found this tidbit from USNews that I thought was really helpful:

"The basic equation for determining... is by dividing your body weight in half. So, if you weigh 200 pounds, you would need 100 ounces of water per day if you're not doing anything strenuous. If you're working out, hiking, at a high altitude or outdoors a great deal, you're going to need to add to those 100 ounces."

I can do that!

Try this: write the number of glasses you want to drink up the side of a glass in dry erase marker. As you finish a glass, wipe off the top number to keep track of how many more you'd like to drink!

Try this: write the number of glasses you want to drink up the side of a glass in dry erase marker. As you finish a glass, wipe off the top number to keep track of how many more you'd like to drink!

And here's how I'm keeping track. I measured out eight ounces. Yes, I'm that kind of gal. We have juice glasses that are just about exactly eight ounces. I write the number of glasses that I want to drink up the side of the glass in dry erase marker. As I finish a glass, I rub off the top number with my finger so that I remember how many more I should be drinking. Sometimes us busy moms need helpful ways to keep track of this kind of thing since we can get pulled away by kids, work, or the house at any given moment!

How do you make sure that you're hydrated?

xoxo, MJ



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Loving your age

Limited edition Do Good letterpress print will be a part of Shop Pars Caeli later this month!

Limited edition Do Good letterpress print will be a part of Shop Pars Caeli later this month!

So this is the view from four decades on the planet. Today is my birthday, my 40th birthday.

I wasn't completely sure I was going to share that with you.

And that took me down a rabbit hole of why nots.

It seems from my perch that these days aging is set up to be feared, or at least avoided, in our society. We all (me included!) want to look younger, to act younger, to be mistaken for younger than what we really are. Sending wishes of gladness that 40 is the new 20 is a fun way to extend youth.

But what if we went back to the notion that elders are respected and revered?

Or even more what if we entered a whole new era where aging is the best thing there is? Remember how anxious you were to turn from four to five? Or eighteen? 21?

How does Pitbull say it . . . Any day above ground is a great day. (Oh man, I'm quoting Pitbull now.)

Friends, I've lived forty years! And rather than dread it (like I thought I was going to), I feel truly, honestly grateful. I've lived in many different places, had a bountiful number of experiences, and been touched by the most loving individuals. I even given birth to three of them. I've made little and BIG mistakes. I've had to learn from them. I've hurt people and loved people and celebrated people. And I've grown and changed and stayed the same.

I'm more wrinkled and saggy. More tired and cynical. No, I can't jump as high, nor run as fast.

But I am here, friends. I have another day, week, month, and hopefully years to do my best to add love into the world and to be deeply grateful for the gifts I've been given. How amazing!! And I've had 4-0 such opportunities.

I'm not bragging, but being around to love and to be loved for forty birthdays feels like a pretty giant blessing.

God is Good limited edition letterpress print will soon be available at Shop Pars Caeli.

God is Good limited edition letterpress print will soon be available at Shop Pars Caeli.

One of my great blessings is this space right here where I can share what's on my mind, in my heart, and all over my studio floor. I'm so honored to have you lovelies over here, and I so so appreciate your support and encouragement.

So let's celebrate another year!! Are you brave enough to share your age?

xoxo, MJ

 

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5 Gifts to Give Yourself this Mother's Day

Of this I am convinced: there are an infinite number of ways to be a wonderful mother. There's no secret recipe or way that you need to adapt your personality. Your children need all the you-ness you've got.

We mommas can be hard on ourselves. We can focus on what needs to be done more than the goodness that is. And Mother's Day is a fabulous time for us to breathe, to step back, and to bask in the joy that is each of us (remember that?).

With that in mind, with you in mind, here are five gifts to give yourself for the special day.

1. The space for calm or silence

Mothering is loud, messy, and constant. And those three aspects are amazing - when taken in good doses. Give yourself time away (even if it's 10 minutes with music) to inhale deeply all that awaits you and to exhale all that has been. Some of us love the stillness of silence and other would be calmer with our favorite tunes blasting. Whatever gives you a break, take it.

2. The space for physical relaxation

Children can physically wear you out. Mother's Day is the right time to go for a long walk, a good run, an extended massage, a magical bath. Reward your body for all the effort it goes through in the everyday experience of motherhood.

3. The opportunity for a fresh look

You give of yourself and sometimes (only sometimes) you make time to be good, really good to yourself. Look at yourself with fresh eyes! Try out some new colors, a different hairstyle, a red lipstick. Granted, these changes are only surface level, but sometimes actually seeing yourself look different allows you to free up some of those preconceived ideas of who you are.

4. The time to relish

I usually want to spend happy time with my kids on Mother's Day, but tantrums, activity schedules, lack of sleep, and a handful of other things can make the day feel like it's out to get me, rather than celebrate me.

For your Mother's Day, you may or may not choose to be with your children. Regardless of this, give yourself the time to remember wonderful moments in the lives of each of your children. Imagine the scenes again that brought easy laughter to you and your children. And reflect on your positive role in their lives.

5. The time for creativity

Time to fill up your bucket. Are you a reader? Love to journal? A big movie buff? Being a great mother means you make time to develop you. Children need strong role models, right? Show them that learning and using your God-given talents is important to you, too.

And get out the oil paints. Or scrapbook supplies. Or leotards.

Give yourself some extra presents this year. You deserve it, momma.

xoxo, MJ

 

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Printable Mother's Day Card

This post is sponsored by Sprout by HP, but the project and thoughts are all mine. Thank you for your support of the brands that support Pars Caeli.

Mother's Day is just a few days away, friends! Are you ready to celebrate the mommas in your life? I've been looking at cards for the passionate mothers I know. And I have to admit that what I found fell a little flat. The racks were filled with more pastels and nostalgia than what fit these go-getter moms that I want to honor.

So I decided it was time to make my own. You know I love printables!  After a quick trip to the store, I was inspired to incorporate the beautiful tones and textures of the citrus, vegetables, and blooms. I mean, peonies!!

Typically I'd need to illustrate these props or photograph them, but with the new Sprout by HP I have greater possibilities. The Sprout is a touchscreen PC with a built-in overhead scanner, and it gives you the freedom to capture both 2D and 3D objects. I can scan anything, flat or dimensional, in a matter of seconds and quickly incorporate it into any design that I've created. I'm a big fan of the touch mat/touch screen combination because they work together so seamlessly and allow an even bigger canvas or the functionality of two work surfaces.

For the Mother's Day card, I wanted to use limes, lemons, artichokes, peonies, nectarines, and kiwis - the most vibrant textures and colors I could find. Putting wax paper on top of the touch mat, I created images of each of the props.

With the touch mat, I could resize, edit, and move around each shape to create just the look I wanted for my design. I love it when work feels like play and the hands-on quality to the Sprout makes everything feel like childhood fun again.

Mother's Day card made modern. For the passionate, go getter mom in your life! A free printable card from Pars Caeli.

Mother's Day card made modern. For the passionate, go getter mom in your life! A free printable card from Pars Caeli.

I found this wonderful writing from Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., that seemed to fit perfectly. Have you read it before?

Youth fades.
Love droops.
A mother's love outlives them all.
Mother's Day card made modern. For the passionate, go getter mom in your life! A free printable card from Pars Caeli.

Mother's Day card made modern. For the passionate, go getter mom in your life! A free printable card from Pars Caeli.

Get your free Mother's Day printable card here. It's sized to 5 by 7 inches so that you have plenty of room on the interior to say all that you need to say. So pop in a nice piece of white cardstock and get to writing! Or, if you're looking for something to give? Why not trim this one to the cover alone and frame it?

Mother's Day card made modern. For the passionate, go getter mom in your life! A free printable card from Pars Caeli.

Mother's Day card made modern. For the passionate, go getter mom in your life! A free printable card from Pars Caeli.

I'm so glad that I was able to see my mother and mother-in-law this past weekend and celebrate together. Mothers are such an important part of our lives, and I'm grateful to have such examples to follow!


What would you create with a Sprout?


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#Mother

Motherhood has been on my mind more than usual. With pals becoming new moms, turning the page onto a new decade myself, and Mother's Day upon us, I've been seeing motherhood from a lot of different angles.

Join our Mother gang because mothering is hard enough without friends. In love and support of all mothers.

Join our Mother gang because mothering is hard enough without friends. In love and support of all mothers.

I will not judge; I will love instead.

I've always wanted to be a mother and pictured myself as one. I've been formulating what that picture looks like since I was a little girl. In many ways, all that I've learned, I learned through the lens of wanting to teach it to my future children. I have evaluated the world, other people, and myself through this lens of the best mother.

And in that light, I have critiqued other parenting styles and choices. And when I became a new momma, I was super critical of myself. Am I doing this right? Is she sleeping enough or too much? Should I be nursing more or less? Do I keep her stimulated or too much so? So many questions ran through my head, judging every move I made.

I will not judge; I will love instead.

We had our second child when our first was two, and I heard others judgments. Are you ready for another? How many are you going to have? I think two years is too close. I think two years is too far apart. How old are you now? Are you really going back to work?

Adding to my own self evals (that were still coming up less than glowing), I heard the voices of "them" - those people who don't really matter in our regular lives but we somehow give power to when we're making important life choices.

I will not judge; I will love instead.

I'm a mom, three times over now. My oldest has been on this earth a decade now, and my youngest can speak in paragraphs. My inner critic is quieter or has a better sense of humor. And the "them" have evolved with new faces and new questions/advice/unhelpful observations.

And I see moms making the same, the opposite, or slightly similar choices to my own. And whether it be my age, my faith, my exhaustion, or my wisdom...

I just want to love them.

To walk up while they are fighting with the onesie diaper change. To high five while they're trying to wrestle with the toddler in the carseat. To hug when the child screams loudly and repeatedly in the middle of Church. To offer knowing respect when the tween spouts off disrespect. To hold hands as the middle schooler takes first steps into high school. To hold our breath on the first night that curfew is actually used.

I will not judge; I will love instead.

You always wanted to be a mom.

You weren’t sure you wanted children.

 

You work.

You stay at home.

You do both.

 

You cook.

You have the pizza guy on speed dial.

 

You breastfed.

You bottle fed.

 

You craft the day away.

You buy pre-made Valentines.

 

You lost the baby weight.

You just call it weight now.

 

You think motherhood is rewarding.

You think motherhood is challenging.

You think both.

 

Yet...

We are paralyzed by the thought of them growing up.

We worry if they’re getting enough vegetables.

We cry.

We wish for just five minutes of silence.

We fear we aren’t doing it right.

We understand our own mothers now.

We yearn for unsolicited hugs.

We feel guilty.

We stand in awe at their accomplishments, big and small.

We grieve when another has lost a child. 

We love hard.

We have a common thread.

And it is #mother

I'm joining in the #MotherMovement. It's an effort begun by Sara Moore, and it begins with the statement above called the #MotherManifesto. It's a commitment to lift up all mothers. To stop the mommy wars and the bickering. To support. To listen. To love.

I will not judge; I will love instead.

There's a lovely Mother Gang of incredible women steering the ship, and we'd love you to join in. You're a #motherlover, aren't you? We're real people who find mothering hard and amazing and exhausting and worth it.

Head over to Mother Manifesto to read more about this movement!! You'll see more about it here on Pars Caeli over the next months. And we have a pretty kicking giveaway coming up next week, too.

Put aside your differences to lift all mothers up and support them in whatever way they need.  Commit to the #mother community, to the village we always hear about, that we all need as mothers to make it through with our sanity.

Put aside your differences to lift all mothers up and support them in whatever way they need.  Commit to the #mother community, to the village we always hear about, that we all need as mothers to make it through with our sanity.

JOIN OUR MOM GANG. BECAUSE MOTHERHOOD IS HARD ENOUGH WITHOUT FRIENDS.

And to all mothers out there, you are loved.

xoxo, MJ

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DIY Children's Hand Dish

A sweet, homemade gift for mothers and teachers! Make this one with your child from air dry clay.

A sweet, homemade gift for mothers and teachers! Make this one with your child from air dry clay.

Children's handprints are such a lovely way to capture the littleness of childhood. As a mom, I save all of the construction paper tracing and funny animal crafts that come home using my children's hands. I just love them!

When my friend Jeran, posted these fabulous photo holders made from air dry clay, I immediately thought of my children's handprints! I wanted to create with these small shapes in such an easy medium. And then the usability of a small dish evolved as we were playing with the flexibility of air dry clay.

A sweet, homemade gift for mothers and teachers! Make this one with your child from air dry clay.

A sweet, homemade gift for mothers and teachers! Make this one with your child from air dry clay.

I purchased Crayola's tub of clay to give it a roll. First we took about a baseball-sized ball of clay. It's softer than potter's clay and easy to manipulate. Using a rolling pin, we flattened the clay and traced out L's hand with a pencil on the clay.

He removed his hand, and I carefully pulled away the excess clay. If you're trying this, make sure that you have clay rolled out to about 1/4 inch in thickness. Too flat makes the hand plate too flimsy and too think makes the fingers hard to move. Using a spatula, I lifted the palm and fingers to allow them to dry on an armature for shaping.

PC_childrenshanddish_1.jpg

I'm all for working what you have so I grabbed some unused measuring spoons to prop the clay into the bowl-like shape I wanted. Follow the instructions on the container to make sure that it's dried completely before you move it. You'll notice that it turns more bright white as it dries.

PC_childrenshanddish_5.jpg

My children loved seeing their hands as art! And they thoroughly enjoyed making an object they knew their teachers and grandmothers would use on their desks or dressers.

A sweet, homemade gift for mothers and teachers! Make this one with your child from air dry clay.

A sweet, homemade gift for mothers and teachers! Make this one with your child from air dry clay.

Have you worked with air dry clay? You should give it a whirl if you haven't yet!

xoxo, MJ

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How to Recover from Vacation

Re-entry back to reality is never easy. Here are a handful of practical tips to get you enjoying life at home again.

Re-entry back to reality is never easy. Here are a handful of practical tips to get you enjoying life at home again.

A fabulous trip away to somewhere tropical/relaxing/exciting/adventurous that made you feel ecstatic/in love/rejuvenated/calm. And now you have returned home . . . but almost all of you wants to be away and still on vacation. Don't get me wrong, home is where the heart is, but sometimes that heart needs a change or a rest.

Today, I'm writing this post for me and for you. I've had this blog window open, ready to write all about how I bounced back into real life, since we, my husband and I (sans kids) returned from a whirlwind trip to New York City with friends nearly ten days ago. My pal, Emer, and I had always imagined that we'd celebrate our 40th birthdays in NYC together. Emer and I are long-time friends, but an ocean has kept us away from frequent visits, she being a native-born Irish beauty, now living back home, married, with three little boys. However, all the planets did align, and we were somehow able to make a grand double date of a 3-day weekend and take on the town.

So, in writing this for the both of us, I did some searching around to see how other good people kick themselves back into gear. The Happy Gal has ideas for how to keep your family on track and your home in order before and after vacation. These are awesome and ambitious. Road Warrior Voices has a great idea to return from your trip a day early to give yourself time to do laundry and to ease back into routine. The site has a useful list of ideas for longer vacations but one not quite as practical for a long weekend vacation.

Here are my top four ideas to get you back into your groove after a wonderful time away:

1. Remember that this does not have to be the only trip and plan for the next:

Perhaps you might be feeling a sense of disappointment, the post-Christmas blues sort of feeling, that now the time you'd be looking forward to is over. Plan the next time for wonderful! Whether it's a 2-week international excursion or a quick roadtrip away, give yourself something new (and doable) to look forward to! It's good for the mojo and keeps you pushing forward, rather than looking behind.

2. Capture a memory or experience in a special way and keep it in front of you:

Souvenir shops are big money makers for a reason! Whether you found something(s) precious on your journey or snapped oodles of photos, make sure that you put those reminders in prominent places in your life. By this I DON'T mean your display shelf. Pop a silly photo in your wallet or pin the cute card to your bulletin board at work. Walgreen's has great deals on black-and-white, super large prints if you want to plaster something large on your wall. Chatbooks are my new favorite way to capture your Instagram photos in a beautiful way!

3. Get (back) to sleep and healthy eating:

Upon returning home, I was hit with a sinus infection *BOOM* which, in turn, prompted me to eat less healthy (what, Sonic burgers don't cure sinus headaches?). Being under the weather did force me to sleep more, which was helpful as I don't sleep much before trips (trying to get everything together) or on them (trying to enjoy every moment). I also allow myself to indulge in high calorie decadence when I'm traveling so I usually come home feeling full-er than I left so returning to salads and green smoothies has helped everything feel back on track.

4. Find small ways to relive the experience and share it with those around you:

What was the best part of your trip? The deep sea diving? The long stroll along the river bank? The amazing book you were finally able to read? Share those!! While no one REALLY wants to see all of your vacation photos, your coworker might be looking to hear about a great, new location to visit or your neighbor enjoy the book recommendation. And seeing them experience something you loved helps amplify the joy of the journey, too. Even simple things like texting a photo of your vacation time together can help transport your loved one back to a beautiful memory.

When was the last time you spent some time away? Even if it's only for an afternoon, you'll be surprised by how much joy you can sustain from the experience!

xoxo, MJ

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How I Donate Life: An Interview with Kelly from Cloudy Day Gray

The above photo is me as a brand new momma, with my 2-day old, first born daughter. She's giving me the exact expression that I'm thinking in my head. Those early days of life are so fragile, so dear to me. 

April is Donate Life month, and I'm delighted to have my friend, Kelly from Cloudy Day Gray here to share her story. Though I'm in full support of organ donation, I've never had to think about pediatric organ donation and the 1,900 children in the United States that await an organ right now. I'm joining in Kelly's efforts to show how we live and donate life every day with our children and families in hopes of spreading awareness about pediatric organ donation. Won't you join in by tagging your photos #HowIDonateLife?

Here's Kelly...

Before my daughter Matilda was born, I didn’t know anything about pediatric organ donation. I had never really considered the fact that children even experienced organ failure. And, I certainly had never considered the fact that the organ donors may need to be children themselves. These aren’t the things that parents want to think about.

That first week home with Matilda was full of the sweetest moments snuggling close, but it was also full of more worry, concerns, and self-doubt than I ever remembered having with my first. After three doctor visits, a late night trip to the ER, a transfer to a children's hospital, and the longest ambulance ride of my life to NYC, Matilda was diagnosed with acute liver failure, put on life support, and placed on the organ transplant waiting list.

I took Matilda's tiny hand in mine that night and whispered to her all my hopes and dreams. Our life took a dramatic shift, but I knew it was my job to learn, cherish every moment, and move forward with every breath - hand in hand.

The five long weeks we waited for an offer were the most challenging of my life. The endurance and pain of waiting was to be expected – I had my faith for that. But, there was so much more than just the wait. It was the separation from my son, the long nights at the hospital bedside, the alarms sounding constantly, the moments holding our breath when death was near. It was learning what everything meant – all the medical terms, the decisions, the side effects, and countless unknowns.

But, during that time my eyes were opened.

My priorities re-adjusted.

My goals broken down.

My heart opened.

I saw more kindness than I ever expected. I felt more strength than I knew existed within me. All of my emotions were amplified and for the first time, life felt simple. My goal each day was to show as much love to Matilda as possible - and that was enough.

Everything was being done medically to keep Matilda alive, but without a new liver we were urged to say goodbye. With lots of prayers and sweet lullabies, we made molds of her hands and feet, read her all of her brother's favorite stories, and promised to never give up hope. That very night, Matilda received an offer.

She received her liver transplant on her six-week birthday. While it was extremely risky due to her age and size, everything went smoothly. The surgeons were amazed that she was still alive because only 2% of her original liver was still functional. The gift from a two-week-old really was Matilda's only chance at life. A life full of joy, laughter, and zest.

This isn't the life I expected for my daughter, but it is the most beautiful life I have ever known.

Please join me as I gather 1,900 photos on Instagram to bring hope to the 1,900 children, just like Matilda, who are currently waiting for that same chance at life. Follow this link to learn more and get involved.

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Three-Year Blogiversary + A Giveaway

Happy happy days are here!! Pars Caeli is a big three years old. By blog standards, Pars Caeli is an old gal now (9 months being the average lifespan of an active blog), and I can't help but reflect that she's just getting better with age.

As a way of thanking you beautiful people for joining along in any and every part of this journey, I have a fun giveaway of one of The Bannerie's glittery banners. In fact, I treated myself to a few banners that express in gold and glitter just how I'm feeling as we embark on another year of projects, collaborations, reflections, and musings. Here are my top three learnings as we embark on a new year!

We're only here once so let's love big! Boss babe banner by The Bannerie.

We're only here once so let's love big! Boss babe banner by The Bannerie.

1. LOVE BIG

I feel pretty strongly on this one in the whole vein of "shower the people you love with love" kind of way. And I love that this blog has given me the kind introduction to a ton of wonderful people. And I've been able to help them with their dreams, and they, in turn, have boosted my goals, too! I feel so fortunate to be able to shine big, bright spotlights on talented makers producing wonderful projects, great pieces of literature, and clever perspectives on the world.

I have a ton of projects that I want to accomplish, and I love that this space is one for me and for others, where we can throw love over all kinds of greatness.

I plan on loving bigger and better as we embark on this third year!

Sparkle messages from The Bannerie: Kind over Nice

Sparkle messages from The Bannerie: Kind over Nice

2. KIND OVER NICE

As much as I've loved highlighting and sharing others work, I've learned through collaborations that kindness always matters more than niceties. By that I mean, truly caring for the people with whom you work and genuinely looking to help them in real and powerful ways means so much more than the one off retweet or like here or there.

I'm always up for meeting new people, but I'm sure to keep supporting those whom I've known and trusted. As a "veteran" blogger, I want to help others through the meandering path of success but only in authentic and real ways. Far too many of us use the internet as a place where we are not ourselves, the comment or express emotions that are stronger than what we would deliver in person. And in year three, I'm up for making more kind connections and sincere gestures of support.

You got this. And you need a banner to remind you. Giveaway happening on Pars Caeli!

You got this. And you need a banner to remind you. Giveaway happening on Pars Caeli!

3. You got this

No, really, you do. I'm grateful that three years of blogging have brought me to here. I've got this. My own brand of fun, whimsy, crafty, mothering, project-making goodness. And you have your own list of comma-spaced awesomeness. And there is space, plenty of space, for both of us.

Pars Caeli has shown me that there are like minds all over the world, and now we have a venue for high fiving and patting each other on the back. And even kicking each other in the pants when necessary.

I want to give you one of The Bannerie's best selling banners with just this message! YOU GOT THIS! I have mine hanging in the studio right now. It's a super helpful mantra for those times when more than my fair share of doubt might creep in.

The Boss Babe banner giveaway is on until Sunday. And it's very easy to enter!! Pass the giveaway along to someone else as a fun gesture to show your love in big ways.

Thank you for joining in this journey and for celebrating the everyday kinds of wonderful that make life amazing. Can't wait to step into year three!

xoxo, MJ

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Great Finds: Happy Handmade

Happy Handmade is a fantastic resource for any rainy/summer/snow day crafting with your children with 115 pages of fun projects made from materials you already have!

Happy Handmade is a fantastic resource for any rainy/summer/snow day crafting with your children with 115 pages of fun projects made from materials you already have!

Are you looking ahead to summer activities? What will the kids be up to this summer? I am busily planning away, both for my own spirit as well as the necessary planning for my kids' camp and other adventures. It's right about this time of year that we begin as a family talking about what each persons wants to do over the summer.

In the minds of a 10-, 7-, and 5-year old, summer can still feel very distant. Last year I created this printable as a conversation starter. We're a pleasant mix of introverts and extroverts so I wanted everyone to have some time to think in their own time about the weeks of possibility ahead.

Use this free printable to find out just what your kids WANT to do this summer. A great tool for a happy summer for all.

Use this free printable to find out just what your kids WANT to do this summer. A great tool for a happy summer for all.

As part of our Mommy and Daddy school every summer I'm really looking into diving head first into a new book from one of my favorite creative moms, Michelle of MollyMoo Crafts. A quick digital download with 115 pages of projects that are easy enough for me to love, and original enough for all my children to get excited.

Happy Handmade is a MollyMoo book, in collaboration with 17 international crafting moms. It is packed with happy and imaginative crafts. My very favorite aspect of all MollyMoo projects is that they cost next to nothing because they are made from recycled materials, cardboard or scraps of fabric and wool. I don't have to search craft and specialty stores to find exactly what I need; supplies are readily found in a busy household.

You can explore all these areas with beautiful photographic tutorials alongside:

  • Recycled Crafts
  • Paper and Cardboard Crafts
  • Felt and Sewing Projects
  • Handmade Toys
  • Pom Pom Crafts
  • Nature Crafts

I'm planning on making this awesome rocket with my little guy. I have a feeling he'll want to create his own fleet of spaceships once we get started.

Happy Handmade is a great resource to have around for any time! Download your copy of Happy Handmade here today!

Tell me, where do you turn when you're looking for productive and imaginative activities for your children?

xoxo, MJ

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Make Your Own Stamps

You can use found objects to create fun stamps for any kind of project! Pin this one for later.

You can use found objects to create fun stamps for any kind of project! Pin this one for later.

Stamps are a great addition to every creative toolbox. They can be pricey to accumulate unless you're willing to explore some simple techniques for making your own unique stamps.

We love making our own wrapping paper and patterns using stamps - great expanses of open space along with total freedom of color and shape make for an easy recipe for success. Here are a few fun techniques to try with or without your kids:

Add foam circles to an empty tape roll for a fantastic polka dot effect.

Add foam circles to an empty tape roll for a fantastic polka dot effect.

Foam shapes make a great rubber stamp substitute. They won't last as long as the originals, but they offer a quick solution with super results. We used an empty tape roll and added foam circles of varying sizes for a polka dot pattern. You can carefully roll the tube down the paper or wear it on your arm for a fast tread of dots (a favorite with my crew).

Add foam stars to a ball for a fun rolling stamp activity.

Add foam stars to a ball for a fun rolling stamp activity.

For the smallest hands, we added some star shapes to a ball that can be rolled around for patterns and stripes. Rolling in ink is all kinds of messy fun!

For the more detailed oriented, grab a basic pink eraser or a stamp compound, and trace a design for your stamp. We transferred a simple ladybug image onto the stamp using tracing paper and a pencil.

With a carving tool, remove the part of the image that you do not want stamped. The ink will only adhere to the shapes that remain. Press your new stamp into an ink pad and repeat in random or ordered patterns! Enjoy the imperfections that come as you continue the process.

We love creating our own stamps! Have you ever tried it?

xoxo, MJ

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How to Start a Shop: A Totally Useful Interview with Four Entrepreneurs

Ever thought of starting your own shop? Read this first - advice from four amazing entrepreneurs.

Ever thought of starting your own shop? Read this first - advice from four amazing entrepreneurs.

Have you ever thought of selling your creations? Maybe having your own store? I am excited and delighted to try it for myself, and I'm a strong believer that in starting a new journey you need to talk to those who have gone before you.

And so I asked four of my favorites over for a virtual coffee.  Meet Lacy, founder of Madre Beads, a hot new boutique with non-toxic wooden jewelry for kids and women. And Kim, creator of Design Life Kids, a fast-growing treasure trove of hip and hot fashions for your home, your children, and yourself.  Meet Emily, painter and creator of Emily Jeffords Studios, a beautiful escape from the mundane where you can find original paintings, prints, and creative consultations. And finally, Gilit of The Bannerie, maker of glittery, fun-filled messages for all your celebrations.

1. What prompted you to open a shop?

I love the wide variety of inspiration in these answers! Where would you find yourself?

GILIT:

Sometimes everyone around you sees something about you before you do.

In this case I had been told for years that I should sell my stuff and start a business, but how intimidating does that sound? In the months before I started, my daughter was home with me, and the jobs I was looking for needed someone to work nights and weekends. I wasn't willing to do that anymore. I needed a job, I have a strong drive to create, and I've always dreamed of having my own shop. So I did it.

LACY:

As a mom of three, I was continually frustrated with the jewelry options for mothers. Nearly all of the jewelry I had wasn't baby-friendly. Sharp metal certainly didn't belong in in my baby's mouth, and everything else I had hurt my neck when she pulled and yanked at it. I started playing around with some designs and did a bunch of research to find the best baby-friendly beads and finally came up with a concept I loved. Now, I make playful jewelry that moms can wear with the comfort of knowing their babes can enjoy pulling, tugging, sucking and chewing on it, too.

See more beautiful artwork at EmilyJeffords.com

See more beautiful artwork at EmilyJeffords.com

EMILY:

I opened my Etsy shop right after my college first art show.  I had a nice body of work built up from my college days and needed a place to document, share, and send it off into the world.  

KIM:

I wanted to fulfill a dream after the loss of my husband.

I wanted to set an example for my girls to make the best of this life we have and not be afraid to go after your dreams no matter how hard they seem and how much work it might entail.
Find the hip and the modern over at Design Life Kids.

Find the hip and the modern over at Design Life Kids.

2. How long has the shop been open? What did you sell initially?

LACY:

My shop has only been opened for less than a month!

GILIT:

It's going to be a year! Initially I was ALL over the place with every banner that I ever made and with anything that anyone asked me for even when I didn't want to make it. I always felt it wasn't the right move, but it took time for me to figure out what was the right move, which was to brand and focus.

KIM:

I opened DLK on October 1, 2014. I focused mostly on children's clothing and a few toys but have expanded into a fun collection of modern housewares and decor!

Fresh messages in all that glitters are the specialty of The Bannerie.

Fresh messages in all that glitters are the specialty of The Bannerie.

3. How did you get the word out about your shop?

EMILY:

After my first baby was born, I was a stay-at-home mom, loving every moment, but I felt that I needed a challenge. I decided that I would create a painting-a-day and sell the paintings in my Etsy shop! Back then, Etsy was a much smaller place. I also blogged every day, showing my work to my natural market and reaching a few new people. This circle grew and became something small, but very supportive.  

LACY:

I began spreading the word about Madre Beads on Instagram. For the first few months, I gave sneak peeks that I hoped would lure customers in. I think the anticipation really got people excited!

Find fabulous wooden beads like these at Lacy's new store, Madre Beads.

Find fabulous wooden beads like these at Lacy's new store, Madre Beads.

GILIT:

Definitely though my blog and Instagram. That plus Pinterest are my biggest referrers,

Free social media is a small business owner's best friend!

KIM:

Instagram was my support system and has become my best way to reach customers. Having a consistent aesthetic and being authentic has always been important to me there.

 

5. What's the best advice you can give to entrepreneurs considering starting a shop?

KIM:

Start small with inventory. It's better to sell out than it is to sit on it. And breathe... being an entrepreneur really requires passion and dedication, but it's really an awesome experience if you can keep it fun.

EMILY:

The best advice I was given as a young artist, counting every single penny: Invest in photography.  You can do it yourself, and you can totally DIY good styling, but invest time and thought in the execution and money in a good camera.  Photography sells online. 

Give your work the credit it deserves! 

LACY:

Plan way in advance and do your absolute best. I have started other small business before, on a whim, with no plan or purpose in site. As you can imagine, those businesses didn't do so hot. With Madre Beads, I took my time. I did research. I learned from my mistakes. I got feedback from friends. I made surveys and asked questions. I worked hard to develop my brand, even before I began making all of my products. I'm always putting myself in the customer's shoes.

"If I saw this photo, would I like it?" "Would I buy this?" Would I pin this?" "Would I give this as a gift?"

GILIT:

JUST DO IT! It's so easy to get caught in the planning and research stage, but go for it! You don't even need to publicize it right away. Take your time, get it set up, and slowly start spreading the word. The more you do it, the more confident you will feel (hopefully!)

Also, be prepared to work hard. It's not like being your own boss means you get to stop and have coffee whenever you want, it means you are in charge of EVERYTHING.

Even if it feels like you don't have a minute to breathe, or you won't be at your best, remember that you have to take care of yourself first and foremost.


Thanks so much, Lacy, Emily, Kim, and Gilit!! I loved hearing the origins of some of my favorite shops.

What advice would you offer?

xoxo, MJ



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5 Fresh Takes on Easter Eggs

If you're looking for eggs that are out of the ordinary, I've got five great ideas from talented folks around the web.

If you're looking for eggs that are out of the ordinary, I've got five great ideas from talented folks around the web.

Do you dye eggs or decorate them at all? Have you dyed Easter eggs yet? We always leave this activity for the end of Holy Week, Friday through Sunday, when we're all together with a little more time together to create.

Usually I fall in love with saturated pastels or marbleized wonders for Easter egg creations. I always leave one white egg that I make into a bunny with ears added on. But this year, I've been inspired by all of the creative eggs I've seen! I've rounded up my five favorites (and there are a ton out there, including more on our Easter board).

1. Bunnies and friends: If you still want all the cute in your eggs, check out Confetti Sunshine's adorable post on making these sweet versions of the traditional. I love the minimal expression on them to bring out a modern feel!

2. Fruits & Veggies: Little Inspiration created bright designs that could come fresh from the market. I love the way she transformed these into something else entirely! So fun.

3. Emoji: Studio DIY is the creative spot for celebrations, and Kelly outdid herself with these eggs of expression. I love the idea of sending messages to family members with a plate of emoji eggs! They don't have to be real...

4. Modern patterns: Erin of Earnest Home Co. made these beautifully patterned eggs that make me want Easter to go on and on. Her aesthetic is always clean and modern, and I love how she

5. Great Art: These are too punny. Jen of Classic Play made four great artists as eggs! And, of course, there are free printables that coordinate. Freida Kahlo as an egg is ah-mazing! Fun, educational, and totally unique.

What's your technique this year? I'm always looking for fresh takes on traditions.

xoxo, MJ

P.S. If you're looking for a great list of sugar-free goodies to add to Easter baskets, Handmade Mood has a fab round up.

P.P.S. Mommy Coddle has the cutest wooden bead bunny necklace that would make a great afternoon project to keep everyone busy for the Easter weekend!

 

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The Good Stuff Jar: Parenting Ideas

My kids know when I reprimand them that they've done something wrong. But do they know how much good they do? Use a good stuff jar to bring the best out in your family.

My kids know when I reprimand them that they've done something wrong. But do they know how much good they do? Use a good stuff jar to bring the best out in your family.

Parenting is tough stuff. No surprise there.

"Stop teasing your sister."

"Get away from your brother. Can't you two just spend some time apart?"

"Would you please pick up your dirty clothes? All of them."

Dialogue, or I suppose more like monologue, like this happens all the time in our house. As a mom, I feel like it's my job to prevent battles, to maintain some kind of order, and to foster loving relationships. We express a lot of emotions in our house, and I try earnestly to say and to show my children how much I love them.

But.

There are still those times. The witching hours, the frayed nerves, the tight schedules, the incessant teasing. And my parenting focus becomes more "do no harm" rather than "love real big."

One night, after a particularly taxing parenting day, I noticed my daughter, crying softly on her bed (she is typically a dramatic crier, so I knew something was really bothering her). I took a deep breath and went over to sit next to her. "Mommy, I've done so many things wrong today. I don't know what I'm going to do." And in her sincere, seven-year old angst, she looked down with a sigh.

Oh, man. I glanced over at her soft, little hands, and I replayed my commentary to her throughout the day. I had declared nearly a chapter's worth of to do's, reminders, reprimands, declarations, insistences, and warnings.

My kids know when I reprimand them that they've done something wrong. But do they know how much good they do? Use a good stuff jar to bring the best out in your family.

My kids know when I reprimand them that they've done something wrong. But do they know how much good they do? Use a good stuff jar to bring the best out in your family.

But, that's not what hit me (thank God) at that moment. My daughter had done SO many good things that day - from speaking gently to her little brother who needed some assistance with his drawing, to setting the table without being asked, to singing and dancing throughout the house and lightening our moods, to asking her sister how her day was.

Blech. She had forgotten all of that and now felt reduced to her actions that I corrected.

That's not the kind of parent I want to be. That's not the kind of human I want to be.

Because for every mistake or failing, there are at least double if not triple the amount of goodnesses occurring every single day.

Even the rough ones.

I counted.

So working from a very concrete level, where we sometimes need to with ourselves and young children, I developed the Good Stuff jar. It sits right by our front door, near our only staircase, right in the center of our home. My three kids fill it with their goodness. By this I mean, every time they see one another or we see them spreading goodness, they put in a gem (our name for the colorful glass beads). Once the jar is full, we all get to decide on how we want to use this goodness - special time together? something special for someone we know? something for our home?

And I've loved that they are seeing just how GOOD they are.

A few things about the Good Stuff jar:

  • It's not a behavior system. It has not eliminated poor choices or bad behavior in our family. It wasn't intended to do so.
  • It's used only to show goodness. We don't take beads out when the teasing starts up or the hitting ensues. The Good Stuff jar is not a score-keeping tool.
  • It's an all-for-one system...so that when the 5-year old is kind, we all benefit (because we really do), and if he does great things ten times today and the 10-year old is in a mood and feeling like she needs her time away, than it's all good. No one "wins" for having the most gems in the jar.
  • The celebration for a full jar of goodness is decided as a family and enjoyed as a family.

But it has made all of us (me included) aware of all the many, many ways children are sweet, humble, generous, and delightful. I need to remember that and celebrate that. And I want my children to see it in themselves and all the other people they encounter.

Because that's just the kind of parent I want to be. And that's exactly the kind of human I want to be.

Would you consider a Good Stuff jar at your house?

xoxo, MJ


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Just Because Cake

Some days deserve cake - make these Just Because cakes! Using cans you can create a multi-layer mini cake that celebrate any (and every) occasion.

Some days deserve cake - make these Just Because cakes! Using cans you can create a multi-layer mini cake that celebrate any (and every) occasion.

Hooray! Celebrate! I'm so excited. Happy Cakentine's Day!!

Wait, what? You may need to Google this one. You've never heard of Cakentine's Day?

PC_cakentines.jpg

That's likely because we made it up.

Cakentine's Day began when Melissa of Lulu the Baker wished me a happy Valentine's day, and Instagram autocorrected to Cakentine's. Melissa is all kinds of talented so I figured she had the inside scoop on a new holiday, and I began Googling. PJ (A Girl Named PJ) quickly noticed the new word, and ridiculous banter back and forth followed until we decided that we would go ahead and celebrate Cakentine's Day.

Melissa created a gorgeous Everyday Citrus Cake (which means we can eat it everyday, right?), and PJ has an amazing tutorial on how to frost a cake like a pro.

The taste of spring and summer come together in this scrumptious Everyday Citrus Cake by Lulu the Baker.

The taste of spring and summer come together in this scrumptious Everyday Citrus Cake by Lulu the Baker.

Step by step instruction on how to frost a cake like a pro with A Girl Named PJ.

Step by step instruction on how to frost a cake like a pro with A Girl Named PJ.

I'm home today with my daughter, sick with strep, so we created these Just Because cakes. I think we'll BOTH be needing them by day's end . . . just because. They are perfect for any and every occasion or no occasion at all.

Every since I saw Jordan's post on mini cakes back in 2012, I've wondered what baking in cans would look like. I love the idea of a cake just for you so I thought we'd give it a try. Turns out it's really easy. Like silly easy.

For our Just Because cakes, we used our favorite boxed mix and frosting. If I'm going to whip up a cake just because, it needs to be easy and fun to no original recipes on this one.

One box can make three mini cakes.

1. Rinse and clean three cans well. I used cans that once held our beloved mandarin oranges.

 

2. Create cake mix according to recipe. Be sure to grease/flour. Ladel batter into cans until they are slight more than halfway full.

3. Place in oven and bake. Our recipe called for 40 minutes at 325. I wasn't sure how to time the final baking so I began checking the cakes at 30 minutes. As you can see in the photo above, they bubbled over a bit.

4. Using a wet knife (a great tip from Jordan that I never knew), carefully loosen the cake from the can all the way around the perimeter. Go ahead and make the circle around the can a few times to ensure that the cake lifts off the can easily. Shimmy, shake, and encourage that cake out of the can. This may take a bit of patience.

Use a can to shape a unique and fun way to serve cake! Super simple.

Use a can to shape a unique and fun way to serve cake! Super simple.

5. Once removed, cut the rounded top off of the cake. And then cut in half and then half again for four round slices/layers of cake.

6. Carefully frost each layer. I recommend piping it on and then using the wet knife to spread. No need to be fancy here, I used a Ziploc bag with the corner end snipped off as my pastry bag.

Happy toppers on these Just Because cake let you know you're loved. Use a skewer to poke all the way through the layers and add stability.

Happy toppers on these Just Because cake let you know you're loved. Use a skewer to poke all the way through the layers and add stability.

7. Add a happy flag on a skewer, poked through the layers, will add stability and smiles.

Happy baking and caking on this first annual Cakenstine's Day!! Enjoy a laugh with friends on us.

xoxo, MJ

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5 Ways to DIY: Wood Trays

It's a great week, friends! We're kicking it off with a fun new series. I'm teaming up with four makers to show you how to DIY the same object five different ways. And we want to see how you'd create one, too, through a fantastic giveaway!

Here's our team:

  • Laurel from A Bubbly Life always brings the party with her, and it was her crafty mind that brought all of us together. She did a great wood burned love message on her tray, and I'm itching to give wood burning a try. Have you ever done it?
  • Sarah of Sarah Hearts put together a signature polka dot tray that bursts with cheer. Sarah's projects are always filled with color and vibrancy. Click over to see how she created her tray (and check out her studio door that coordinates oh so nicely).
  • Jeran from Oleander and Palm chose a rich stain to color her tray and then she added a modern touch with her handles and triangle design. Her styling is global and sleek and kind of transformative for a simple wood tray.
  • Rachel of The Crafted Life covered her tray in vibrant fabric. In her style, she made a big impact with process that we can all give a try! I love how she makes the most beautiful projects approachable and awesome.
PC_5waystoDIY_woodtray.jpg

For my wood tray, I wanted something white and patterned. The final product is a white washed, hand-drawn patterned bedside tray. The process is foolproof (perfect for me) and quick to complete.

All you need is a small can of whitewash stain and an oil-based gold marker. I used a fine tip gold Sharpie. Paint the entire tray with the whitewash. Let it dry overnight and add a second coat.

Create an easy patterned tray with oil-based permanent markers and this simple geometric design. #5waystoDIY

Create an easy patterned tray with oil-based permanent markers and this simple geometric design. #5waystoDIY

Once the second coat is dry, you can begin drawing on the tray. For this pattern, I drew the vertical lines first and then quickly added in the diagonals. Don't fuss too much with perfection and let yourself just doodle and enjoy the repetitive motion back and forth. Hand-drawn patterns have become a favorite of mine, and they're totally on trend right now!

Paint markers can add a gilded finish to a simple wood tray. #5waystoDIY

Paint markers can add a gilded finish to a simple wood tray. #5waystoDIY

To finish off the tray, I painted the interior of the handles with the gold Sharpie and called it complete. I love working with the fine tip paint marker, the flow is consistent and precise, and the shimmer of the gold is just enough.

Be sure to click on through all the ways to recreate a wood tray, AND enter below to make your own. I'll be teaming up again with these great ladies (Luck-y me!!!) for another #5WaystoDIY so look for the hashtag and let us know what we should take on next!

And thanks for joining in the fun!!

xoxo, MJ


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8 Ways to Bring Spring into Your Home today

Spring is here, but it might not look or feel like it where you are. 8 easy ways to bring spring into your home today!

Spring is here, but it might not look or feel like it where you are. 8 easy ways to bring spring into your home today!

The snow has melted, and our house is surrounded by a lovely lawn of brown grass and bare branches. Spring is here, but it seems that winter is still trying to steal the show. I find myself looking for green buds and soft breezes that are not yet ready to arrive. Here are 8 simple ways to bring spring into your life:

1. Plant some Easter grass

The fun of seeing grass grow in the middle of your living space is such a thrill! Yes, I just admitted that I enjoy watching grass grow. For us it's going to be many months before our lawn can provide the green lush feel. And with wheat grass, you can quickly see the natural process develop over a period of days. Your grocery or bulk store likely has the seed, and any bright or unexpected container will add to the fun!

2. Add colorful touches to your interior

Now is the perfect time to prep your spaces for spring with burst of color in pillows, throws, tablecloths, and more! You might even feel ready to make something beautiful like these yarn art pieces from Oleander and Palm. I love these flower votives from This Heart of Mine to make any meal feel like a special garden party.

3. Fill your home with favorite natural scents

Hyancinths say "you've made it through another winter" to me! And I adore them for it. I pick one up from the store this time of year to add that irresistible scent to our space. I'm also really excited about lavender and citrus aromas so I often keep some on simmer while we're working and playing around the kitchen. It's a simple way that I convince my brain that spring freshness is here.

Bring the glam to Easter eggs with some silver leafing! Way easier than you think it might be.

Bring the glam to Easter eggs with some silver leafing! Way easier than you think it might be.

4. Get outside

Even if it's still cold or snowy or gray or drizzly (or any of the other excuses I provide) put on your coat and gloves and get outside. The ground is getting softer, the birds are tuning their voices, and the smells are changing. My children know I love the aroma of fresh, brown dirt, and in turn

5. Add color back into your wardrobe

Sometimes winter inspires (!) me to wear a lot of gray, accented with brown or black. I know, not the most interesting look. Come March, I'm ready to break out the floral head scarves, brightly colored flats, and prints that contain more than one tone. If the blooms are quite ready to break ground yet, go ahead and coax them out with your own shades of awesome. Joy's selections for spring are right up my alley, and I'm going to try my hand at some color blocking nails, too!

Bring the glam to Easter eggs with some silver leafing! Way easier than you think it might be.

Bring the glam to Easter eggs with some silver leafing! Way easier than you think it might be.

6. Force some flowering branches

This is one you can do even as the frost is around. Spring bouquets filled with branches of wisteria, dogwood, and more are a gift of early spring. Steph has some wonderful tips on how and when to cut these so that you get the most flowering for interior spaces.

7. Change up your station

It's a great time to change up your playlist and pop on the tunes that make you feel lighter, happier, and give you an extra kick to your step. Pretty soon we'll be in the heat of summer, windows down and music blaring. But for now, we welcome in spring with optimistic flavor and music!

8. Make silver leafed eggs

Here's what we're up to right now to bring spring to our home - silver leafing eggs! I love the effect of leafing - whether it's gold, silver, or copper - and Easter eggs go to the next level when wearing a little extra bling. I used a bag of artificial colored eggs from the craft store, some leafing medium (an adhesive ready for the job), and the silver leafing. The metal comes in super thin sheets and is ultra delicate so if you want to apply a lot of leafing, be sure to use tweezers to tear your sheets. I wanted the leafing to allow color to peak in and out of the surface tones so I applied the adhesive in random wiggly patterns. Using my fingers, I patted one inch sections on to the egg and carefully removed excess along the way. Once all the leafing was applied, I went back with the adhesive to make sure edges were smoothed down. These eggs glisten all on their own!

Are you as ready for spring as I am? How do you change over to the new season in yoru home?

xoxo, MJ

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Simple Easter Placecards

Make simple paper bunny ears, attach to toothpicks, and create quick and easy Easter brunch place cards.

Make simple paper bunny ears, attach to toothpicks, and create quick and easy Easter brunch place cards.

Easter is on its way! For us that means a gathering of family, a backyard Easter egg hunt, some special time in Church, and a great meal together. I'm always on the lookout for a ideas to spruce up our dining table that won't take a ton of time or space.

Bunnies, bunnies, bunnies! They're multiplying.

Bunnies, bunnies, bunnies! They're multiplying.

These fruity place cards can be a part of your meal as well as a helpful seating guide. Made from copy paper and pink construction paper, these ears are affixed to tooth picks with a small strip of adhesive tape. Be sure to leave about an inch of the stick free to pierce the orange.

Orange you glad you know what you're using for place cards this Easter?

Orange you glad you know what you're using for place cards this Easter?

Use a permanent marker or a strong ballpoint pen to write guest's names. These would also make cute lunchbox treats over the next few weeks as we lead up to Easter. You might find yourself giving your lemons, potatoes, even avocados a new set of bunny ears just for the fun of it!

And if you want to put some bunny tails up in your home, don't forget to grab your free printable to create a Bunny Pom Pom Garland.

xoxo, MJ

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