"A (wo)man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of (her)his life in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of beautiful God has implanted in the human soul."- Goethe

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Twinkle Toes

So, the wee one isn't so wee anymore, and it's hard for us to keep shoes on her rapidly expanding feet. We had just used up the majority of our clothes budget when Peppity-Pepster hit another growth spurt. Gak! We took a trip to the local D.I. and picked up 7 pairs of slightly used shoes in varying sizes (so as not to be in the same predicament in 2 more months) for only 24 bucks. Heck yes!

Although the shoes were all in good condition, there was a hideous pair of shiny white taps that were begging for adornment:

So, I gave it the ole' one-two with the chunky glitter and glue. I'm digging the gold trend these days, and although I'm not big on the brassy gold, I absolutely love the gentle champagne gold, which is what I used for these shoes. It's a little elegant and a little sassy with just enough joviality to work for a toddler who literally runs everywhere she goes. (No wonder she stays so thin!)

Also, P.S., do you like the way her leggings are tucked into her socks? I know, I'm the coolest mom ever. Gotta offset the trendiness somehow.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

America's Cheapest Family

I'm known at work for being a tightwad with money. I can thank my pops and certain of life's circumstances for that attitude. Although I've always been careful with money, I'm constantly looking for ways to improve my budgeting and money management skillz. So, when I heard about America's Cheapest Family by the Economides, I read it through to see what I could glean:

The writing is unprofessional to say the least, but I kind of expect that with self-improvement books, so I was able to look past that. The book validated my frugality. It's nice to feel validated regarding some of my money habits because I know how strange and awkward they can make me seem. A lot of their money-saving suggestions are practices our family uses already, but I came away from this read with the following two resolutions:

1) To only buy groceries every two weeks (we'd been doing this already, but it wasn't with intention or specific discipline)

2) To have a specific order to goals for our savings

We have since been able to build cushions in some of our budget accounts and have a specific order of what financial goals and purchases we want to meet and make. We are a far way from the kind of financial security that would feel comfortable to me, but looking back over the seven years we've been married (and even in the last two months!) I can see vast improvements.

So, it's understandable that everyone's got a different type of budgeting and spending tolerance: what is a daily cost for me may be labeled a leisure for you. Each family's needs and income is different. But, I'd bet that everyone's got a favorite trick to saving money. Care to share yours?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Little Ditty of a Painting

I painted this little guy for my sister who loves owls:

I love his little smile and hopeful gaze. Plus, there's a winter constellation in the background that makes it awesome...can you see it? Acrylic paint on canvas.

Also, a winner has been chosen for the two card giveaway, so be sure and check back with that post to see if you are the lucky person!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Standing as a Witness

The 12- and 13-year-old girls that I work with were assigned to organize and carry out one of the largest programs for the year, New Beginnings. This event is designed to introduce the Young Women's program to incoming girls as well as the new theme for the year. The theme they selected for the program was "Hollywood," and we all worked our little hineys off for a good month and a half to pull it off.

So much preparation went into each detail and the evening was a success because of the many hands fervently involved in making the night a spectacular one. We made some interactive invitations, and the leaders gave each girl a star votive to remind her of her star quality and to stand as a witness (the new theme for the year):

(The invites are all Close To My Heart Materials except the microbeads, which are from American Crafts. The stars were from Pier 1 with tag materials from CTMH and Stampin' Up.) We had a fun evening with our favorite girls. Gosh, how I love those giggly friends of mine! I'm grateful for their dependability and joyful attitudes in planning and carrying out such a huge project.

P.S. Also, don't forget to leave a comment on this post for a chance to win two cards of choice!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


We love the winter around here because it means wearing BOOPS:

In the winter, we sing the snowman song a dozen times a day.
In the winter, we bundle up like marshmallows to go zipping down snowy hills.
In the winter, we think the sound of windshield wipers and road slush splashing all over our car is the most hilarious sound ever invented.
In the winter, we gasp in delight as snow falls from the sky and stick out our tongues with eyes closed to try and catch a taste.
In the winter, we wear our favorite hand-made hats everywhere we go, even if bright red doesn't match what we're wearing.
In the winter, we help Kirk make the biggest snowpeople in the world.
In the winter, we say 'hi' and 'bye' and have regular conversations with our snowpeople.
In the winter, we exclaim BRRRRR! each time the front door opens or we touch a cold window.
In the winter, we walk oh-so-carefully on the icy porch and sidewalk.
In the winter, we sing the snowflake snowflake song, especially in the car.
In the winter, we look out the window at the birds and moon and eat snacks piled on the windowsill.
In the winter, we read extra books and share extra snuggles.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Pretty Colors for a Dreary Day

I had some pretty embellishments I've been itching to use on the perfect project. I've been dreaming about how to use them and they have been quite a source of inspiration. Then, I realized the time had come for me to stop dreaming and get cracking:

I love these colors together and I'd like to share the love! Leave a comment by Friday at midnight MST, and I'll randomly select a winner to pick two of these cards to keep.

Good luck!

Update: The winner of the two cards is Lynley! Hooray! Let me know which two cards you'd like and I'll make sure you get them.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Things that Sparkle

I love glitter, it's no secret. I'd probably put it up there next to bacon and Kirk (although glitter is not nearly as tasty as either of those delights) because it brings me such giddiness.

As I was deciding what to do for my siblings for Christmas, and feeling a little stuck because of our tight budget, a brilliant thought came to me. I have been feeling lately that with everyone growing up, moving out, finding their long-repressed independence, and making wherever they live their own home, that I needed to create something for each of them to beautify their space, wherever that may be:

I picked colors and styles suited to each home, and with a lot of double-sided tape and a lot of glitter (both from American Crafts), whipped these out relatively quickly. The bottles are various glass bottles I've been collecting because the shapes were too pretty for me to get rid of (and our recycling bin doesn't allow glass- who ever heard of something so ridiculous?).

The plant I used was a philodendron I inherited from my grandmother, and it is super easy to get starts from: simply clip a stem with several nodules, which can turn into roots, and place the clipping in a jar of water. Once the roots are developed, the clipping can be replanted in soil. All of these bottles are full of water, so plant maintenance is pretty much nonexistent. These little plants are hearty souls. As long as their roots are wet and they get to see sunshine once in a while, they do pretty well. So, keeping these in a bottle of water won't be a problem.

I'm happy that I could give something that was beautiful, didn't cost us much money, fit each home's personality, had a little sentimentality attached to it, was low-maintenance, and was handmade with love. Perfect. What was the best gift you gave this last Christmas?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Christmas for the Girls

Our Christmas gift for our favorite teenage girls went a little like this:

The lanterns and candles were from Ikea and all other products are from Close To My Heart.

The theme for the year was "Arise and Shine Forth" and we thought these lanterns were appropriate and a pretty reminder of everything we've learned throughout the year. After focusing all year on being a light to the nations, our girls have shown us how bright they can be. What have you done lately to arise and shine forth?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Holiday Cards

I made these cards to mail to some of our extended family last Christmas:

(All materials from Close To My Heart.) Making the cards wasn't the hard part, it was finding the time to sit down and write meaningful messages to our loved ones, which is the whole reason for sending cards, I believe. Next time, I'm going to make 2-3 times more than I did this year because we sure didn't get to send one out to everyone we wanted to. I can't believe  how quickly that huge card stash can disappear!

I like sending handmade cards for Christmas, but I know of a lot of people who send photos or typed letters, and some who send their greetings for the new year instead of Christmas. What's your cup of tea?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Visions of Gingerbreads

We joined the Baxter family for an awesome holiday party and decorated gingerbread people and houses. Little Pepsicle joined in the fun, too, although that meant that she mostly picked pieces of candy one-by-one off of someone else's creation while they were still working on it. I was given the honor to embellish the house, while Kirk made a babushka-turned-mariachi man with a donut hat:

That Kirk and his creativity is always surprising me, even after all these years. Love it! Making creative and sometimes inappropriate gingerbread people is becoming a fun holiday tradition for us. Did you have any new or wacky traditions in your family last year?

Friday, February 8, 2013


I have this thing with my blog where I feel obligated to include a photo with each post. It's not so much that I feel like you guys need a visual representation as much as it is that I need to prove that I'm not making stuff up and honestly, to practice photography skills.

So, imagine my disappointment and disarray when the hundreds of detailed photos I took of my brother for his Golden Birthday and consequent par-tay at my house were deleted before I could save them. Drat!

Luckily for me (but more for you), my brother with no boundaries took some photos of me blowing my nose when he came over for a visit during a bout of holiday sniffles:

Aside from the fact that this is a not-so-ideal picture of me, I'd like you to focus your attention behind my head. See those decorations hanging from the ceiling? And see the chalkboard wall full of well-wishing sentiments? They were for my brother's birthday party, and even though this is the only photographic remnant left, I will have you know the decorations were awesome and his birthday was epic. The end.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Festival of Trees

I love me some sister and mom time. Last minute, (according to strict adherence of the Nielson family planning time code) we took a trip to see the Festival of Trees. I am always inspired (and quite frankly, uninspired) by many of the entries. Plus, the cause is good. My sister's friend joined in and she was a lot of fun to be around.

We took our time moseying around, soaking in all the inspiration we could, and taking rests when our brains were too full to process any more. My favorite was the wreath section, probably because the crowds were much smaller. It turns out that deep down in my soul I hate people. Not one-on-one or in small groups, mind you, because I'm really good at that. Uncontrollable hoards is what I'm talking about here, and not a lick of friendly Christmas Spirit to be found among the gauntlet of elbows.

That said, feast your eyes on some of the holiday tidbits (Anna, the rainbow tree reminded us of you!), photos courtesy of my sister:

What a lovely splash of holiday color for the middle of this dreary winter season, don't you think? My favorite Christmas color combo is usually a rich ruby red with gold and browns, but this year, I fell in love with the teal version (like the first photo). What color combos did you appreciate most last year?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Snow is the Best!

Other than having to drive extra warily, I love cold weather and would be completely satisfied watching snow fall for hours. Of course I'd need some warm socks and a cup of something hot and delicious, but there is just something about snowflakes that take my breath away.

I was absolutely giddy to be able to share my love with the little munchkin after the first real snowfall of the season. Although she enjoyed her first snow last year, I doubt she'll remember...I imagine the same will go for next year, too. It will be a completely new discovery again!

She approached the ridiculously poofy snowsuit with understandable trepidation. I mean, can you blame the poor kid? She can't even put her arms down by her sides. So, we sang songs about snowmen and snowflakes, talked about how cold it was, went for a walk to Grandma's house to tell her we learned how to say 'snow' and to show her what a neat discovery it was.

It snowed again during the night, so we woke up ready to really play! Kirk built a huge snowman because he has quite a knack for that, and I made sure it was a grumpy old man. Pepper helped and was yelling 'snow!' in her squeaky little voice then had a meltdown when she face-planted it in a drift and couldn't move because her suit was too fat. Well, at least the next few times were better experiences for her. We have been sledding a few times and now she knows what fun is in store each time we break out the snow suits.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Nielson Fam

We had our family photos taken this last fall by the lovely ladies from Miss Hazel Bloom (who took these photos for us earlier in the year), and when I say "family," I mean the whole. dang. crew. Here are a few of my favorite shots:

It isn't an easy task rounding up all these hooligans. But gosh, I sure love them anyway! Also, can you believe the differences between Pepper then and now? It has been a few months since these photos were taken, and our little pepperoni is already looking so different I can hardly keep up.