Posts in DIY
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?

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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

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.
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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


DIY Bunny Pom Pom Garland
DIY Bunny Pom Pom Garland. Quick craft for Easter, to do with or without the kids!

DIY Bunny Pom Pom Garland. Quick craft for Easter, to do with or without the kids!

Hippity, hoppity Easter's on its way. Yesterday was our first real taste of spring with temperatures reaching into the 70s. Glorious. And I have spring fever. Bring on the bunny crafts! This week is packed with the first posts of spring - super easy ways to take your space into the next holiday season.

White paper, the medium of my childhood, is full of so much potential! I've used it for crafts that I love like our current color blocked wreath and our daffodil wreath (that I hang all year in our guest room), and now I'm back to it with Easter bunnies.

Pom poms make the cutest bunny tails. Make a bunny garland for Easter to add to your mantle or holiday celebration!

Pom poms make the cutest bunny tails. Make a bunny garland for Easter to add to your mantle or holiday celebration!

To make the string of bunnies, I used our roll of white paper (from IKEA) so that I could extend the length to as long as I wanted. Fold the paper back and forth, accordion-style and trace out the half of your bunny. If you want to use the same pattern, you can download my template here.

Add a bunny garland to a special Easter gift! Who needs ribbon?

Add a bunny garland to a special Easter gift! Who needs ribbon?

Unfold and flatten the chain of bunnies. Add on pom poms with glue. These garlands make a colorful addition to any and every space! And we love how they look as a present topper to a special Easter present.

Folded paper and some pom poms! Peter Cottontail made modern.

Folded paper and some pom poms! Peter Cottontail made modern.

The Bunny Pom Pom Garlands could make a great starting line for your eager Easter egg hunt participants. Or make them extra small and transform them into a spring cake topper! Cut out just one to finish off a cupcake.

Bunnies are the new paper dolls! An easy way to bring the Easter season to your home. And the pom poms!!

Bunnies are the new paper dolls! An easy way to bring the Easter season to your home. And the pom poms!!

Happy crafting, friends!

xoxo, MJ

Printable Thank You Cards

This post is sponsored by Munchkin. Ideas and musings all from me. Thanks for supporting our sponsors.

A good party deserves great gestures of gratitude! And the rockstar of the show, Miss Amy Christie of This Heart of Mine has outdone herself.  Jen, Melissa, Ali, and I and the good people at Munchkin have loved showering on the goodies this week. Jen kicked it off with gorgeous welcome ribbon chandelier DIY, and Melissa brought the ultimate buffet with gourmet PB & J bar,  and we tossed around some multi-use table decor using colorful baby gear.

And now we have these sweet printable (free!) thank you notes from Amy! She's created them in three different palettes so they're good for any occasion.

She also has a photo of her little pipsqueak that you have to check out. So so sweet!

xoxo, MJ

 

Munchkin rids the world of the mundane by developing clever, innovative solutions that make family life safe, easier, and more fun. You can find their products at Munchkin.com, Target, Babies’R’Us, Walmart, and Amazon. It’s the little things!

Welcome Baby Party Decorations

This post is sponsored by Munchkin. Ideas and musings all from me. Thanks for supporting our sponsors.

Throwing a baby shower or a party for a new mom? Use toys and gear as a part of the decorations for a bright surprise that a new mom can put right to use!

Throwing a baby shower or a party for a new mom? Use toys and gear as a part of the decorations for a bright surprise that a new mom can put right to use!

All this week we're Celebrating the Little Things in a fabulous party for new mom, Amy Christie, creator of This Heart of Mine. Amy is so talented and funny (what a whit!), and a fabulous mom of three now. Even more than a baby shower, we wanted to say congratulations momma on a job well done!! Let's celebrate life.

Jen decked out the present table with the sweetest ribbon chandelier where visitors and guests can leave their well wishes for the new baby. Melissa prepared a gourmet PB&J buffet that is positively amazing (I'm a huge peanut butter and jelly fan).

I'm bringing the party supplies! I was inspired by the cool gadgets and toys of Munchkin to make our own decor from items that Amy can use long after the party ends.

Add vinyl letters to basic balloons to say exactly what you want. Love these colors.

Add vinyl letters to basic balloons to say exactly what you want. Love these colors.

I love adding simple white letters (stickers or vinyl) to plain balloons! To hold the balloons in place, I put simple glasses on top of the string and added colorful yarn pom poms.

The kids can get involved in party prep with simple garlands like the one below. My kids created these for the party in a few minutes from some white thread and cut colored paper. These act like mobiles and add movement and playfulness.

Get the siblings involved in making the party! These simple banners are made from paper rectangles taped onto white thread. Color infusion!!

Get the siblings involved in making the party! These simple banners are made from paper rectangles taped onto white thread. Color infusion!!

Grippy dots for the tub or coasters that stay right where you want them? I loved putting these out for a fun table runner down the table. My children have also loved pretending with the grippy dots - they been pancakes at our imaginary pancake food truck (what a great idea, huh?) and a masterful indoor hopscotch pattern in the hallway.

Bath letters were calling my name for a special message. Amy's children have given her newborn the nickname, Pipsqueak. So cute! Using some floral wire, I attached these bathtub letters together to shower on the love. The wire leaves only small holes in the sides of the letters, and they're ready to be used in big sister's or big brother's bath.

Grippy dots for the tub turn into table runners and coasters. Letters for the bath tub become the special messages you want to send!

Grippy dots for the tub turn into table runners and coasters. Letters for the bath tub become the special messages you want to send!

Decorating the tables, the Miracle Cups decked out in dots! We are big fans of these cups that don't spill and can be used from any side. They are the hippest water bottles for my 7- and 10-year olds in their bright shades. For the party, we removed the lid, and slid in a glass to hold the flowers and keep the sippy clean. The dots were added for the party but can be easily removed for washing and further use!

Add dot stickers or vinyl circles to these bright cups and they become fun floral centerpieces.

Add dot stickers or vinyl circles to these bright cups and they become fun floral centerpieces.

We're over on Munchkin's Instagram feed this week, too, showing how we cherish the little things in our lives and celebrate parenthood! Stop on over and say hi.

Congratulations Amy on Pipsqueak's arrival! We love him already.

xoxo, MJ

 

Munchkin rids the world of the mundane by developing clever, innovative solutions that make family life safe, easier, and more fun. You can find their products at Munchkin.com, Target, Babies’R’Us, Walmart, and Amazon. It’s the little things!

Celebrate the Little Things: Party for a New Mom

This post is sponsored by Munchkin. Ideas and musings all from me. Thanks for supporting our sponsors.

Send all your wishes for a new mom on this fun ribbon chandelier! Beautiful just about anywhere.

Send all your wishes for a new mom on this fun ribbon chandelier! Beautiful just about anywhere.

There's a new babe in town! My friend, Amy Christie, gave birth to her beautiful pipsqueak last week, and he is the cutest (go check him out).

Amy is now a momma of three, like moi, and although a baby shower is awesome to restock and to resupply the necessities, we wanted to celebrate her and all the little things that make becoming a momma again so special.

Join me and some amazing ladies with a week of celebrations and easy gifts you can give a new momma. We'll be posting on our blogs as well as taking over the Munchkin Instagram accounts. Come join in the fun!!

Jen is kicking off the party today with a Welcome Ribbon Chandelier. So bright and bold! If you're having a party, hang it over the gift table. It’s suuuuuper easy, and I think it's a fabulous idea for any kind of celebration. Each guest or visitor writes a sweet little note to the mama, papa and/or baby to pin to the ribbons that they can save for their scrapbook later.

Send all your wishes for a new mom on this fun ribbon chandelier! Beautiful just about anywhere.

Send all your wishes for a new mom on this fun ribbon chandelier! Beautiful just about anywhere.

Melissa of Lulu the Baker is bringing an amazing spread tomorrow! Can't wait to show you.

xoxo, MJ

Munchkin rids the world of the mundane by developing clever, innovative solutions that make family life safe, easier, and more fun. You can find their products at Munchkin.com, Target, Babies’R’Us, Walmart, and Amazon. It’s the little things!
Color blocked spring wreath
A wreath to take your home from winter to spring made from paper leaves!

A wreath to take your home from winter to spring made from paper leaves!

Who says that St. Patrick's Day has to be all kelly green and rainbows? I've been endlessly inspired by a pack of gold cardstock I received. We've created four-leaf clovers, leprechaun treat boxes, and now this color blocked wreath for the season!

Our front door is currently green so I didn't want to create something for March that would clash with the tones of our house. What to do? Go gold. But all gold was a little more Vegas than I wanted. I cut out (using my Cricut Explore) about 40 gold leaves. I folded them down the middle to mimic the veining of a real leaf. As I was playing around with the folds, I found myself liking how the front and back of the paper looked together, the shine of the gold against the matte of the white.

A wreath to take your home from winter to spring made from paper leaves!

A wreath to take your home from winter to spring made from paper leaves!

I used a wire hanger, my go to for wreath making, and bent it into a circle. I clumped the leaves into two and threes with glue, trying to keep their folded nature for dimensional quality.

A wreath to take your home from winter to spring made from paper leaves!

A wreath to take your home from winter to spring made from paper leaves!

And now we're set for the pots of gold that the leprechaun might leave us as well as the first blossoms of spring.

I can't believe that gold has won me over! I used to be such a platinum/silver kind of girl. Do you find yourself attracted to one metallic over another?

xoxo, MJ

Create 3D Four leaf clovers
Create three-dimensional four leaf clovers! An easy tutorial to give anyone a stroke of good luck.

Create three-dimensional four leaf clovers! An easy tutorial to give anyone a stroke of good luck.

We know that a four-leaf clover is good luck. How about an entire wall full of three-dimensional, four-leaf clovers? It's a virtual stroke of good luck.

Smile. I can't help it.

I'm Irish. From both sides. And many St. Patrick's Days have been spent watching parades, dressed in greens, and singing O Danny Boy. So when I saw these amazing 3D hearts from Jessica, I knew I wanted to make them into shamrocks.

Create three-dimensional four leaf clovers! An easy tutorial to give anyone a stroke of good luck.

Create three-dimensional four leaf clovers! An easy tutorial to give anyone a stroke of good luck.

From her fabulous heart template, I created this PDF of the various sizes of hearts that I wanted to use. I uploaded this vector file for my Cricut machine that you're welcome to use if you have a machine.

Once you have a heart cut out, using the slit in the middle, fold down a small flap on each side, and glue together. I used hot glue to make sure the heavier paper stayed together, but any strong craft glue will do. In order to give the heart petals some space, I glued each petal to a small square of the same paper. Make sure that each point is equally spaced on the square for balance. And to finish it off, cut out a simple curved stem and attach it to the square behind the petals.

Create three-dimensional four leaf clovers! An easy tutorial to give anyone a stroke of good luck.

Create three-dimensional four leaf clovers! An easy tutorial to give anyone a stroke of good luck.

My daughter is taking standardized tests this week, and with those comes a bit of anxiety for her. To distract her, I covered her wall in a stroke of good luck, these many golden four-leaf clovers. It was a fun surprise to let her know she's got this.

Create three-dimensional four leaf clovers! An easy tutorial to give anyone a stroke of good luck.

Create three-dimensional four leaf clovers! An easy tutorial to give anyone a stroke of good luck.

Let's go create some good luck!

xoxo, MJ

Bubble Valentine Printable

Maybe I saw you at the store this weekend. What that you in Target, too? The mad dash for Valentines, after receiving the note from teachers on details for this week's celebrations, was a real deal for many parents. We spent a few more minutes than most, circling the aisles, trying to find something perfect for boys and girls, with a definite fun factor.

Easy and cute way to personalize bubbles for classroom Valentines! Print now and assemble in five minutes.

Easy and cute way to personalize bubbles for classroom Valentines! Print now and assemble in five minutes.

We settled upon these cute bubble blowers in assorted colors! My daughter and I both loved the design and colors, but we needed to create a personal element.

Easy and cute way to personalize bubbles for classroom Valentines! Print now and assemble in five minutes.

Easy and cute way to personalize bubbles for classroom Valentines! Print now and assemble in five minutes.

She and I made this printable together. She's a big fan of the smiling hearts, drawn in all the colors of the bubble wands, and I like that the card expresses friendship and good wishes without going over the top into mushy, gushy love messages for 7- and 8-year olds.

Easy and cute way to personalize bubbles for classroom Valentines! Print now and assemble in five minutes.

Easy and cute way to personalize bubbles for classroom Valentines! Print now and assemble in five minutes.

With a bit of Valentine washi tape, we attached the strip of paper to the bubble vile. From there, we wrapped the message around until we came to end of the message. She secured the rolled message with a Valentine heart sticker for an extra sweet ending.

Easy and cute way to personalize bubbles for classroom Valentines! Print now and assemble in five minutes.

Easy and cute way to personalize bubbles for classroom Valentines! Print now and assemble in five minutes.

Click here to print a full page of Valentines! Enjoy a little more happy togetherness tonight, now that your stack of Valentines are ready to go!

Happy crafting!

xoxo, MJ

Valentine Shirley Temples

The maraschino cherry was the fruit of joy in my childhood. Pop them in a glass with a few dashes of grenadine, and you have a classic drink great for Valentine's Day or any day -- the Shirley Temple.

We introduced our children to the Shirley Temple, named after the charmed young actress Shirley Temple, during the holidays as a special way to make a toast. The brilliant red of the grenadine is a show stopper.

With a bamboo skewer (you know I love them), a maraschino cherry, and some washi tape, you can customize a wish for hugs and kisses for your little Valentine.

A traditional Shirley Temple is made with a lemon lime soda and ginger ale combination, but we simplify and use just the soda. Add a few dashes of grenadine, flavor to taste. Add a few cherries for extra flavor and pizzazz.

The red of grenadine mixed with a lemon lime soda and a cherry on top! An easy and festive Valentine mocktail for your everyday, the Shirley Temple.

The red of grenadine mixed with a lemon lime soda and a cherry on top! An easy and festive Valentine mocktail for your everyday, the Shirley Temple.

And for an extra bit of fun, substitute a rope of red licorice for a straw! Trust me, it's a crowd pleaser.

xoxo, MJ

P.S. I'm heading to Alt Summit today, and I'll be posting about my time there as an Alt Rep as well as a lot of the wonderful learning on social media, small business, and design on my social channels. Follow along on Twitter and Instagram with #parscaeli_ALT Beware of overgramming and selfies. :)

 

Conversation Heart Brownies

Conversation hearts are the iconic candy of Valentine's Day, but candies themselves could use a taste boost. What if you could send sweet nothings and enjoy some chewy chocolate, too? These brownie hearts are easy and charming for an after school treat or a romantic finale to a dinner in.

Valentine conversation hearts just got a lot more tasty! Turn brownies into special messages for Valentine's Day.

Pull out your heart-shaped cookie cutter, a box of brownie mix (or make from scratch if you're ready for that), and bamboo skewers. These arrow skewers are my favorite! Use a permanent marker to change their natural tone to something more heartastic for Valentine's.

Valentine conversation hearts just got a lot more tasty! Turn brownies into special messages for Valentine's Day.

Valentine conversation hearts just got a lot more tasty! Turn brownies into special messages for Valentine's Day.

Bake your brownies as usual and let them cool completely. Press cookie cutter into the brownies and remove onto another plate.

To stencil on your message, download the svg file Be Mine and Hug Me. Cut these with your Cricut Explore or with a sharp craft knife. Sprinkle powdered sugar into the stencil and carefully press the sugar into the letters.

Valentine conversation hearts just got a lot more tasty! Turn brownies into special messages for Valentine's Day.

Valentine conversation hearts just got a lot more tasty! Turn brownies into special messages for Valentine's Day.

Finally, put on your cupid wings, and push the skewers through the heart, like arrows, and present to the one you love.

Valentine conversation hearts just got a lot more tasty! Turn brownies into special messages for Valentine's Day.

Valentine conversation hearts just got a lot more tasty! Turn brownies into special messages for Valentine's Day.

Looking forward to sharing another Valentine treat with you tomorrow! It's become a favorite at our house.

xoxo, MJ

P.S. If you're looking for an easy way for your child to bring in classroom Valentines, turn one of her or his shirts into a fun, no sew bag!

Begin by Investing in You
I believe that sometimes we’re not fully aware of the little pieces of heaven all around us. And sometimes we overlook our own capacity to be one of those pieces.
— April 25, 2012

My daughter learned how to tie her shoes in one afternoon.

One Saturday morning, her father sat with her on the couch, with an inspiring new pair of brightly-colored sneakers, and patiently went through the bunny ears, the pull throughs, and the try-agains. By dinner, she'd mastered the skill and was gleaming with pride at her independence.

We sent her off to school on Monday with her velcro (uniform) sneakers on, knowing that although she had a new trick up her sleeve with her fine motor mastery, she didn't have to go to the trouble of putting it right to use. I figured the opportunity to tie her shoes would come with soccer practice and upcoming playdates; no need to rush right into it.

She came home from school with a particular bounce to her step to tell me that she'd practiced her tying. I quickly glanced down at her feet, wondering if she'd traded up with a friend ready to volunteer their pair of tie sneakers. But, when I looked down, the same white velcro runners that she'd left the house with were still on her excited feet.

"What do you mean you practiced tying?"

She gave me that wry smirk, the one she does when she knows that she's got me right where she wants me.

"I tied Ben's shoes today for him, Mom."

"But you just learned how to tie yours yesterday."

"Yeah, well, Ben said he'd always wanted to learn how to tie his shoes, and I told him I'd show him."

We learn . . . in order to teach. We learn to . . . give away our knowledge

Maybe in the hopes of fulfilling someone else's big or small dream.

First, we have to invest in ourselves and know that the time we are taking to prepare, to reflect, to make the bunny loops, and to try again is all necessary for good teaching.

Begin by investing in you.

2015 will be a year full of goodness. I look forward to learning and to teaching whatever I learn. We have a bright new space to do all of this in! I'm investing in you. :) New series, new projects, new collaborations, new books, and even a new shop are on the horizon for the next 12 months. It's going to be pretty fabulous.

Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Before you go, check out a new feature on Pars Caeli. I'm pretty pumped about it. Follow that yellow button to THE TOP. Here you'll find an easy-to-navigate lounge of seasonal features, popular projects, and the best of the rest. It's built for you - to honor your time - and to get you what you need on those days when the luxury of blog reading is not yours.

Happy 2015!

xoxo, MJ

 

Emily Jeffords: 12 bloggers

The final four of the 12 Bloggers of Christmas (an annual tradition on Pars Caeli) are the ones to watch for 2015. I'm highlighting some of their goals and new adventures for the new year. If you're not already following them, check out their sites for beautiful and inspirational posts.

   I've blessed to call Emily my friend. She's a talented painter, writer, photographer, and mother. She has an energy and a peace that come through in her  blog  and her  artwork . And it's contagious in all the best ways. She turned 2014 on its head with her commission and series work. Be sure to follow her on  Instagram  to see works in progress and to hear about shop sales first.

 

I've blessed to call Emily my friend. She's a talented painter, writer, photographer, and mother. She has an energy and a peace that come through in her blog and her artwork. And it's contagious in all the best ways. She turned 2014 on its head with her commission and series work. Be sure to follow her on Instagram to see works in progress and to hear about shop sales first.


Beautiful Hello has changed so much in the last year.  I’ve begun blogging a lot less but writing more meaningful and thoughtful articles. My hope is for Beautiful Hello to be a place for people to get to know me and my artwork, but also to be a huge resource for artists and creatives. I talk a lot about creativity and entrepreneurship  and the philosophy behind why we do what we do. I write when I’m really feeling it, and it’s so much fun!!


If you're looking for a great resource, check this out.

One of my favorite gift guides features only hand makers, independent artists, small shops… beautiful and quality goods that are sustainable and meaningful. Art can be so hard to buy for someone else because of the price tag, and this list takes that concern out off the table.


What blogger would you like to send a little extra love to?

I'd like to hug for joy Ez Pudewa, writer of Creature Comforts Blog (which is TOTALLY beautiful and wonderful).  Ez listened to her passions, allowed them to shift and grow, and has decided to move away from blogging 100% and into the sweetest business with her daughter, Kaia.  They launched Petit Pippin last year, and it’s totally and completely adorable. 

Alexandra Hedin: 12 Bloggers

We are making things happen today! The final four of the 12 Bloggers of Christmas (an annual tradition on Pars Caeli) didn't make it into the roll. I've saved these last ladies as ones to watch for 2015, and I'm highlighting some of their goals and new adventures for the new year. If you're not already following them, check out their sites for beautiful and inspirational posts.

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Ali has been all over the weeknight party girl scene with her television appearances and great videos. She is on a roll, and I can't wait to see what kind of magic she can create for every traditional holiday as well as some new ones I know that she'll create in order to live life to the fullest. I know I'll be cheering her on!

I am revamping the website with a new look, new ideas, new STAFF! It’s very exciting and will be so fun to roll out.

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I love making a big batch of punch for parties – and this one is a winner.  You can serve a huge crowd for not a ton of cash, and it’s always so festive to serve anything in a punch bowl.

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There are so many!  Melissa, Lulu the Baker, just had a new baby which is so fun at the holidays. Amy Christie, This Heart of Mine, is pregnant with her third child and could use a little extra love. Jenny Batt, Hank and Hunt, is my best blog gal and so freaking creative.  

The crafted life: 12 Bloggers

We are making things happen today! The final four of the 12 Bloggers of Christmas (an annual tradition on Pars Caeli) didn't make it into the roll. I've saved these last ladies as ones to watch for 2015, and I'm highlighting some of their goals and new adventures for the new year. If you're not already following them, check out their sites for beautiful and inspirational posts.

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I'm super excited to have Rachel of The Crafted Life to start it off! I will meet her in just a few days (for reals) at Alt, and I'm so lucky that she'll be an Alt Rep with me. Rachel has great projects and roundups on her site that inspire you to get a move on and make your space more fabulous.

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For the upcoming year, I'd really like to expand my store. Right now, I sell goods on Etsy, but would love to take it a step further and host it myself in connection with my blog. Stay tuned for more!

I loved Rachel's post on her goals for this year! It's a great combo of business and personal, and I'm excited to see how the year unfolds for her. I foresee big, big goodness in her future. Also, make sure you stop over to download her awesome (free!) girlboss printables. Say what? Yes. Go check them out.

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Gold-foiled Votives

This was one of those projects that I didn't really think too much about before doing, but that still came out nice (and you have to love that!). I still have them in my home and use them for votives in the fall and winter and flower vases for spring and summer.  

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Would love to send extra love to Carrie of Dream Green DIY. Her photography is always on point and no matter the subject, her work is consistently beautiful. I seriously can't get enough of her blog!

I ordered these fabulous photo holders from Rachel's shop, and I love how they add a dash of modern to any shelf.Keep your eye on her friends!

xoxo, MJ

Goals for 2015
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Hiya friends,

My magical two-week break has come to an end, and I'm delighted to report that it was filled with togetherness, laughter, crafting and creating, rest, and ample movie watching (have you seen the new Annie?). I sunk into my home and blissfully forgot what day it was or what had to be done by when, and I enjoyed my husband and my children and my extended family and good friends. This was just the kind of recharge that I needed after a busy, awesome year on Pars Caeli and elsewhere.

I opened up this space to give myself the freedom to create and the accountability to make projects, big and small, happen and offer others help as much as I could along the way. 2015 marks the third birthday of Pars Caeli, and we hit a few significant growth marks this year:

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Attended and assisted with a major blog conference: 2014 took me and three of my pals to Salt Lake City, Utah, and to a design conference known as Alt Summit. My role was as an Alt Rep, and I was able to connect with numerous, wonderful creative people and speakers. One of my goals in going to Alt was to begin to monetize Pars Caeli. I have a wonderful full-time job, and I want this space to support that and my family. So ...

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Connected with brands and networks that I admire and wanted to partner alongside: I joined Pollinate Media, which enabled me to get my creative juices flowing for specific brands like: Office Depot, Wet Ones and Elmer's Glue, Wet-Nap, and All You magazine. I became a Wayfair Homemaker, and I've guest posted for them as well as hosted a Housewarming Party here. I've worked with the wonderful folks at Minted to show Valentines, business cards, and Christmas greetings that are great art pieces.

(Thanks for bearing with me on this list... it's going to get exciting soon!)

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Collaborated with makers I admire and respect: like my ladies of the Endless Summer Projects series and the party for Ali and the NYE Bash. Sheri, Joy, and I cooked up a six-part series for kids in the kitchen entitled Mini Cooks. Created for the Cricut Design Space Star challenge and collaborated with a new and awesome group of artists over a serious of four challenges.

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Contributed to sites that have inspired me: I'm so grateful to Jen and Steph for letting me join their teams. With Jen, I've focused on that you can do to create special moments with your children. And our homemade daffodil wreath was one of her top posts from 2014! It warms my heart.

With Steph over on Modern Parents, Messy Kids, I've created a collection of printables for boredom busting, summer reading, organization, and more! I've grown while putting my graphic design muscles out there to help parents and kids alike.

And the biggest one for me:

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I started my own business. It's been a super secret goal of mine for a very long time. The title entrepreneur is exhilarating, and I'm owning it! Pars Caeli, LLC, opened officially at the end of October with a giant employee roll of one. I kind of still can't believe it, but I'm so grateful, a wonderful blessing of 2014 for me.

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All of these check marks have been very good for me as a mother, wife, professional, and human. In 2014, I was able to shush my inner critic, that mean girl who has often kept me from jumping on the trampoline of possibility. I crafted a lot of ideas and put my tenacity to the test. I showed my children that they can be recognized for their creations, their thoughts, and, moreover, they can lead and they can influence. We have conversations now that start something like, "When I grow up, I'm going to start a business that ..." I'm not signing any of them up for business school yet, but I love that their minds are moving in new directions.

Unlike some of my favorite people on the interwebs (whose angst I understand and whose energy will be missed), I'm not tired of social media or of blogs. Indeed, I've grown deeper in love. Friends, we have so much potential for collaboration and sincere learning through these communication tools, and I am here, and invested.

And I thank you for joining in the party.

So, what's up, what's up for 2015?

It's boiling down to my one little word for the year: GOODNESS. I'm working this year first to foster my own goodness. To take care of myself with sleep and nutrition. To see, like really see, the avenues where I can assist others in powerful ways. To find new possibilities for this mouthpiece, Pars Caeli, to echo the goodness all around us. And to remind you and re-remind me when we go wayward that we are richly blessed. I even want to find NEW ways to help you have watershed moments of goodness - through shared story and new knowledge - and times when you see in new ways the incredible power you have to make goodness happen wherever you are.

And what does that mean in a business sense?

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1. REIMAGINE THE LOOK OF THIS SPACE: I've made updates to Pars Caeli through the years, but I'd like to pare down to the essentials and bring forth what you really want to see. Simplify and clarify, which means some behind-the-scenes work on my part to get this blog design to the sweet spot of beauty and ease of use.

2. ASK YOU MORE: I'm hiding my eyes on this one, but I've never done a reader survey! I know. I know. I want to know what you think. What keeps you coming back? What should we multiply in 2015 and leave behind for 2014? Keep your eyes open for the happiest, simplest survey you ever did see.

3. COLLABORATE: Blogging would mean so much less to me if I had to do it all alone. I love working with other artists and makers to brainstorm and to learn the process. I want 2015 to include more and on new topics. I want to continue to embrace the right brand partners to bring you bigger and better projects - and even a few giveaways, because, you know you deserve it.

4. CONNECT: Keep it real with you. I tried five posts a week, and I've gone down to one. Three a week is just right for my full-time work and parenting schedule. I want Pars Caeli to add to my life and not detract so let's agree to be all-in three times a week (or for an hour on Saturday or Sunday like so many of you fabulous people do!). I also want to continue to share my life and reflections in ways that are fair to the privacy of my loved ones and to be open and honest with all of you. It's getting trickier as my children get older, but we can do it. Pinky promise.

5.PRODUCE: I have an AMAZING something happening with the good people at The Land of Nod that will be coming your way in the spring. And it's a real live product. EEK! And I have a few other products in the works that I can't wait to share with you. In 2015, I want to add a SHOP menu to Pars Caeli. This is another super secret dream of mine that I've had since I was a preschooler pretending with my stuffed animals (what, you didn't do that?), and this is the year we put it to use.

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I'm holding it at five because I get overwhelmed easily. :)

Have you set goals for this year? I'll admit that this is my first time sharing big goals, and it's more than a little scary. I mean, what if they don't really happen? Or if I fail? I'm going to hold on tight, and try to be good to myself if one of these goals leads me in a direction that does not make sense for the rest of my life - family, health, work. And, you know, let's all hug and forgive if we bump and fall along the way.

xoxo, MJ

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Writing down big girl goals did not come so easily to me so I thank these brilliants who helped me in formal and informal ways in the prioritization process.

Inspired by: Kelly of Studio DIY, Amy of Mom Advice and her M Challenge, Brittany's list on The House that Lars Built, Melanie Biehle's word, Kate's tactical list of four, Amy's insight at the beginning of 2015 on This Heart of Mine.

P.S. In case you're still up for more, here are our top 4 posts of 2014:

#1: 6 Fun Water Balloon Games: Endless Summer Projects

#2: The Under $10 Fix to School Paper Clutter and Chaos

#3: Paper Christmas Trees

#4: A Family Objective

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Housewarming Party for New Year's Eve

Welcome back, friends! I hope you had an awesome Hanukkah or Christmas celebration. My house is still recovering from the messes of presents, big meals, and guests, but I'm a happy camper for all of the good times celebrated! You can catch all of our adventures on Instagram using the hashtag #parscaeli_christmas. The days of Christmas will continue tomorrow with a few more surprises and special moments, but today, I have a New Year's treat for you! I'm teaming up with Wayfair to host a Housewarming Party with some great ideas for your New Year's Eve celebrations! 

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Here are my top six picks from our Wayfair bloggers as well as one of my own! Tell me what are your plans for the holiday?

1. RASPBERRY CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL from Conni Jespersen. Conni has mixed together some fabulous flavors for the perfect NYE bubbly to enjoy with friends. I think raspberries are the perfect mix!

2. NEW YEAR'S EVEN CLOCK CAKE on 'A Casarella. Elena made these charming cupcakes for one fabulous birthday party/NYE theme. I love that everyone can enjoy a bit of the spirit of counting down to the new year. Or, you could enjoy one for each hour all by yourself!

3. NEW YEAR'S EVE PARTY CROWNS on DomestiKated Life. Kate made these fun glitter crowns by cutting out just the right expressions for NYE! Her mix of colors is spot on, and these are easy enough for your guests to even create their own.

4. NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION BRACELETS on Tried and True. Vanessa has crafted something I never imagined in these focus word bracelets. Using the same idea as shrinky dinks, you can make your own bracelets to wear or hang on your mirror to remember and to choose to focus on all of the right things for the new year.

5. NEW YEAR'S EVEN PARTY HORNS on DomestiKated Life. Back again with Kate for some fun party horns. Add your own expression to these horns for a truly unique engagement.

6. DIY ROARING '20s NYE PARTY by Andrea for Cricut Design Space Star. I love the 20's flair that Andrea created in her banner. Aren't metallics perfect for the sparkle of New Year's Eve? Check out all of the accessories she created that would coordinate perfectly for your party.

+1. NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS PRINTABLE by MJ of Pars Caeli

We are busy talking about our favorite moments of 2014 in our home. Every year we make a family sheet of the bests of the ending year. It's a fun way to remember the big and small events that might have been forgotten and record it for year to come. We're also planning for 2015 and thinking about what we want to stop and what we want to start. Sometimes our lives can be just that simple if we take the time to reflect. I created this great printable for Modern Parents Messy Kids that you can print free and use with your family to talk about memories and goals.

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A big thank you to all of our fabulous bloggers!! I'm hosting a family NYE party at our house, and I'm grateful for all of these fabulous ideas. What do you have planned for these last days of 2014?

xoxo, MJ

Sara Moore: 12 Bloggers of Christmas

I'm losing track of the days. I think I skipped a few, maybe added one. Nevertheless, welcome to the 12 Bloggers of Christmas, an annual tradition on Pars Caeli where we shine a pretty spotlight on twelve bloggers during the Christmas season. Catch up real quick on all the beauties by scrolling down. Join me every day to see if (you or) your favorites are featured!

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I'm chatting with Sara Moore today. Sara has an effortless style (which I'm sure takes a ton of hard work to pull off), and she writes about parenting in an honest and supportive way. She's a fabulous designer, and if you read ahead, you'll see we'll be able to get right to her goods come 2015. So happy to have her in this space!

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My all-time favorite family tradition is decorating Christmas cookies with my family. I've been doing it since I was a little girl and I look forward to it every year. We're all gathered around the table, laughing, eating the "broken" ones and really enjoying each others company. The logistics have gotten harder with introducing the little grandchildren to decorating and the traveling we have to do but we always make sure to fit it in! And one of my new favorite traditions my husband and I do with the kids is to look at Christmas lights. Our kids are still little enough to be in awe of every single light so it's a lot of fun!

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I'm adding e-commerce to the website so you'll be able to shop directly from saramoore.com. It's been a long time in the making, so I'm really excited to say 2015 is the year! I'm also contributing to a couple of other blogs in the coming year, and I'm very excited to explore new things and grow a community of wonderful people!

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My blog is so new that it wasn't around last Christmas and with a brand new baby, I don't have much more planned for the blog this year. BUT I will link to  two Christmas posts that I love. Speaking of traditions, this one from Jenny Collier on Every Day Cheer would be a great one to start while your kids are young - a Christmas book advent. Every night the kids get to unwrap a Christmas book and enjoy it as a family by the tree. And this one from A Cup of Jo sums up a few of her and her readers holiday traditions.

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Elisabeth of Bella is just a doll! She has a great sense of style, is as sweet as a summer peach and her Instagram feed is so dreamy. She's pregnant with her first (a boy!) and she's just been killin' it in the maternity fashion department. She always looks amazing and has such a great attitude about the pregnancy journey. Which isn't a surprise since she touts that she firmly believes in choosing happiness - you can see that clearly through everything she does!

Love Elisabeth, too!! So happy to celebrate her as well. If you want to read some interesting stories from busy mommas, be sure to check out Sara's Struggle with the Juggle series. It's one of my favorites from real life, inspiring, and talented ladies.

Just a few more left!! Hope your Christmas Eve Eve is the best it can be.

xoxo, MJ

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Ellen Foord: 12 Bloggers of Christmas

Continuing ourannual tradition to pour on the love to twelve bloggers during the Christmas season, we're spotlighting Ellen Foord, maker at Minnow + Co as well as on DIY Network's Made and Remade. Ellen is a mover and a shaker. She has an electricity and an energy that is undeniable, and I've been blessed to have some of her goodness rub off into my life this year! Keep your eye on her... many great things to come in 2015!

Don't forget to stop back every day to see if (you or) your favorites are featured!

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OK, this is a tough one, because as a family with a small child, we’re just starting to establish some of our own very own traditions. My favorite as a child was that we always got to open one gift on Christmas Eve AND we always got special Christmas pajamas. Those are two traditions we’re continuing in our family! My other favorite holiday tradition has to be the Garrity family holiday dip. It’s something I’ve never had ANYWHERE else, so to me, it is the thing that evokes "home + family + holidays". I wait for it eagerly every year. It sounds a little crazy from the outside - cream cheese, green olives, blue cheese, a little Worcestershire, and a little half and half - but it’s heaven on a cracker. For anyone who likes blue cheese stuffed olives in a martini, this dip is right up your alley. Mmmmmm….

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Wellllll…. There’s actually a huge shift right around the corner for me. When I launched Minnow + Co. a few years ago, I thought life was going to chug on down one path, but it sort of zigged over in a very exciting and fulfilling alternate direction, contributing full time for DIY Network’s Made + Remade.  Because of that, I really haven’t had any time to maintain any sort of presence on my own website, instead focusing on producing content for DIY Network and a growing range of clients - which has been thrilling. My new online presence will be more representative of the work that I do and the things I’m passionate about exploring now and in the future. Keep your eyes peeled in January!

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This was one of those projects that started out as a hazy, vague seed of an idea and then suddenly came together in a hot second. I wanted to put together a DIY paper poinsettia wreath and was planning on making it one way, but then a total klutz moment where I knocked over a box of rarely used supplies threw some crepe paper at my head and bam! The whole project magically came together in my head in about 20 seconds. AND - it was my first attempt at paper flowers, so I was kind of giddy with how it turned out.

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You know, outside of you, MJ, and our shared pals Emily Jeffords and Paige, Sheri Silver (Donuts, Dresses and Dirt, Babble) is one of the most generous, lovely and humble bloggers I’ve met in the few years I’ve been doing this. Even with all that she juggles, she still goes out of her way to shine a spotlight on the talents of her friends in her “blove” feature, and I love that. Kind of the same way I love you, MJ, for including little old me in this very impressive roundup of bloggers. Seriously, what am I doing here? I’m a total bull in a beautiful china shop of sophisticated bloggers.

Girlfriend, you've more than earned your stripes amongst this crowd! I'm amazed with all of the projects you've created this year, and I know that so many more are on the horizon! So, so happy that our real lives have met up this year, and I'm ready for more!

xoxo, MJ

Classic Play: 12 Bloggers of Christmas

It's the sixth day of Blogger Christmas, and my true love introduces you to Jen of Classic Play. I'm excited to have her back again in this annual tradition on Pars Caeli where we shout it out from the rooftops just how awesome twelve bloggers are. We'll be adding to the list all the way through Christmas!

So grab your tea and smile at your screen as you see just how relatable and lovely these creators are. Let's spread the love around in big heaps. As a new twist to the tradition, each blogger will be throwing out some love to one of their favorite makers/creators/writers!

Join me every day to see if (you or) your favorites are featured!

Jen and I have known each other for a few years as teacher/student, wise one/contributor, and peer collaborators. She is as cool as they come and as friendly and approachable as can be. That's a tough combo to pull off, and she's able to do it well because she's genuine and so so smart. Classic Play is one of my favorite spots on the web for kids, tweens, teens, moms, and human beings. Put it in your Feedly or Bloglovin roll for 2015.

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Hands down, chopping down the tree. It’s a relatively new tradition, about 3 years at this point and I love it. We go to the same tree farm every year. We spend an hour walking around, eventually circling back to the first tree we found. Of course ;) My favorite thing is how the kids try to mark a spot in the stump in the ground so they can find it the following year.  It’s a silly little thing, but it makes me smile.

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Such a great question! And one I’m going to skillfully evade because I like surprises.

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Hmmm… I’d have to say painted wrapping paper. It was so easy and the kids and I had a blast. Sometimes, it really is the simple things.

I have a bunch of bloggers I’m super fans of… I love what Deborah of My Life at Playtime is doing. I love the parisian flair of Fleurishing, the glimpse of Italian life at Jillian of Italy. Sheri Silver is another favorite! As are Art Bar and Molly Moo. I love Petit a Petit & Family and The Sewing Rabbit even though I don’t sew—I just love those women and their moxie.

And then there are all the new bloggers I’ve met on Instagram. Seriously, so many people to send love to. I know I’m forgetting a bunch. Ahhh! This is stressing me out thinking about who I’m forgetting! I’ll probably wake up in the middle of the night now with a list. haha!

Look how good she is... so much love for so many! Merry Christmas, Jen, to you and the whole family. I'm excited to see those surprises you have up your sleeve for all of us.

xoxo, MJ