Photo Wall Gallery

Yes, I finally get to check this project off my to-do list! The thought of a photo gallery was so overwhelming and daunting that I put it off for years, and years, and…years. This is my year and I’m determined to make big things happen so here you have it – a tackle at one of my hardest projects in a long time. It turned out even better than I ever imagined, mostly because it’s filled with the beautiful faces I know and love.

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Since all our family photos were over two years old I had the choice of filling this space with older/classic photos of us OR try to take new photos. I chose the latter and planned a short notice, quick, DIY photo shoot on a free Saturday. Couldn’t be more thrilled with how they turned out. I used the newest photos in the large frames and saved the older/classic photos for the smaller frames.

Materials used:

  • 4 Large 19 3/4 x 19 3/4in Stromby silver frames from Ikea ($12/each)
  • 4 ornate white frames 5 x 7in in 2 different styles from Marshalls ($7/each) (vertical photos)
  • 4 ornate white frames 4 x 6in in 2 different styles from Marshalls ($6/each) (horizontal photos)
  • 1 decorative wooden box with LOVE print from Marshalls ($5)

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I added the artwork “Kind Heart, Fierce Mind & Brave Spirit” to the photo before printing. It’s set at 50% opacity. Here’s a free download of the artwork for anyone interested.

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Here’s a free download of the artwork I created of “You are capable of amazing things”.

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This is an up close view of the ornate frames.

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Hope this inspires you to take on some big projects that have been on your to-do list for far too long. If this helped you with your own photo gallery, please share a photo of yours, I’d love to see!

Freezer Friendly Egg Muffins

I was looking for a way to add more protein, veggies and variety to our breakfast and came up with the perfect solution, egg muffins. They’re quick, easy and portable. Perfect for a busy family.

Below are the ingredients I used but you can easily substitute the veggies, sausages, cheese for what you have or prefer.

Ingredients:

  • 10 large mushrooms
  • 12 sausage links
  • 1-2 bell peppers
  • 6 cups kale
  • 1 carton of Hashbrown potatoes (or a frozen bag will do)
  • 18 eggs
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese

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  • If you’re using the carton of hashbrowns follow the directions and add water to carton to cook.
  • Slice and cook sausages in pan
  • Dice peppers and add to cook with sausages
  • Chop and add kale to cook last

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  • Once everything’s fully cooked in the pan place it in a large bowl.
  • When hashbrowns are fully cooked, add to bowl and mix together
  • Add cheese (I used about 1.5 cups) and mix together

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  • In a separate bowl beat eggs together.
  • I added some garlic salt.

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  • Add eggs to bowl with mixture.

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  • Generously grease pan with cooking spray. DO NOT skip this step unless your arms need a workout while scraping your pans clean later.

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  • This kind of ice cream scooper works perfectly for filling the pans with the mixture.

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  • This recipe made enough for 24 large muffins

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  • 24 small muffins

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  • And there was a bit extra so I put it in a loaf pan.

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  • Bake at 350 degrees
  • Bake large and small muffins for 30-40 mins, until eggs are fully cooked.
  • Bake loaf pan for 1 hr or until eggs are fully cooked.

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There you have it. A delicious and healthy breakfast (or lunch, or snack, or dinner!)

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To freeze:

  • When cool, place muffins in a single layer inside a freezer Ziplock bag.
  • To prevent freezer burn place in refrigerator until cold, then freezer.
  • These warm up easily in the microwave. 45 sec – 1 min per large muffin.

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If Not Now Then When – Quote

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Happy Lunar New Year, all. It’s the year of the monkey – my year. I couldn’t think of a better quote to start off my year off. It’s simple yet so impactful. It’s giving me momentum to make big things happen this year.

I found this quote from on a fun site I like to visit called FFFound!. It’s full of randomness, fun and insight.

If you have a quote/phrase that motivates and inspires you I’d love it if you shared it in the comments.

Here’s to a wonderful, fulfilling and intentional year ahead.

Think Happy. Be Happy. Quotes. Hand Lettering Practice.

I picked up this sweet little book a couple years ago. It’s filled with beautiful illustrations and inspiring quotes. Every week I’ve been picking one to put on my white board to be a nice reminder to “Think Happy and Be Happy”. It’s also been a nice way to practice my hand lettering.

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These are some quotes that have resonated with me so far…

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Hope these inspire you as much as they do me. If you have a quotes that move and motivate you please leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Avocado Quinoa Salad

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I’ve been hooked on this salad ever since it was first introduced to me a few years ago. It’s simply too good not to share.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa cooked in broth
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used Better than Bouillon)
  • 15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15oz can of sweet corn
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup red onion finely diced
  • 3/4 cup cilantro dressing (I like this one, not pictured) (This is a good recipe for cilantro avocado dressing if you can’t find any at the store.)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lime (I sub’d this with lemon because I didn’t have lime handy)
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook quinoa according to package in broth. Combine beans, corn, avocado, sea salt, pepper and lime zest to taste. Top with cilantro dressing and toss. Add 1/2 cup cilantro and gently toss. Set aside.

When quinoa is cooked, toss with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool. When ready to serve spread quinoa on large serving platter and top with corn and bean mixture. Garnish with extra cilantro. Or you can just mix it all together like I do. If you can’t happen to find the cilantro dressing at your local market (because it went out of business like mine did)) this dish will still taste fabulous without it.

There you have it, one of my favorite dishes that’s the best of both worlds, healthy and tastes amazing!

 

DIY Diaper Clutch

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I think diaper clutches are the perfect gift for new parents. Such a convenient, fun and practical way to hold all your essentials for diaper changing. This bag will hold a couple diapers, box of wipes and even diaper cream, keys or other small items.  I used this tutorial as a starting point and made the following additions:

  • A strap for easy carrying while juggling squirmy kids.
  • Rounded corners, double stitch, and label on flap for a more professional and finished look

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Sewing bags can be a bit tricky because it requires lots of sewing inside out and flipping so all the seams are hidden, but once you’ve made one the subsequent bags will be a piece of cake.

Hope this inspires you to try a project that’s outside of your comfort zone. Happy sewing!

Succulent Gifts

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I love putting together small gifts for our friends/neighbors/teachers for the holidays. Living in southern california, we recently redid our landscaping to be drought tolerant and discovered how beautiful succulents can be.

I’ve seen these little succulent jars at other peoples homes and thought they were so cute. So for this years holiday gifts I tried making them myself.

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I found these glass bulb jars at Hobby Lobby. They’re filled with an array of soil, sand, stones and aquarium rocks. The succulent is a clipping of a jade plant we have in our garden. About 5 years ago we planted a clipping a bit larger than this one and it’s grown to be at least two feet in diameter!

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My sweet little Zander holding the gift we made for his teacher.

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I’ve been holding on to these little banners that were actually intended for cupcakes for the longest time. I finally found the perfect use for them!

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This jar was actually a jar of jam. A few years ago I cleaned the labels off a bunch of glass jars, not knowing what I would do with them. Can’t think of a better way to recycle glass jars (and declutter my house). For more ideas on how to recycle glass jars check out this post. 

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All in all, I made 14 succulent gifts for under $14. The only things I had to purchase were the bulb jars and large jar with handle. They were 50% off at Hobby Lobby which is why they all cost less than $14. Everything else I had on hand…

  • Succulents from our garden
  • Small aquatic rocks from a past candle project
  • Soil/rocks from our garden
  • Sand from the kids sandbox
  • Recycled food jars

The best part about this project – it was completed in 2 hours. I love a project that I can start and finish all in 1 of Zoey’s naps!

Hope this inspires you to get creative this holiday season.

Blessing Bags

It’s become a humbling tradition for us to put together Blessing Bags each year to give to the homeless in our community. We typically go to a local park and hand them out with our kids. These are also great to make for homeless shelters or keep handy in your car when you see someone in need.

This year Zander helped decorate and fill the bags. He drew a person, rays of sun for hope and a house in hopes they will find a permanent home soon. I collected items from our various hotel stays, dental visits and combined them with some other useful items like snacks and bandages. For more ideas and a printable checklist on items that would be great for blessing bags this is a great site.

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I attached this business card sized card into all the bags along with a small about of money to help encourage and motivate those who receive the bags. Click here to download a printable of this card.

Although these donations are small, they are a very real and tangible way to help someone in need and a great way to teach kiddos to be humble and care for others.

Hope this inspires you to get your kids involved in blessing someone else’s life!

Holiday Card Ideas

Each year we try to do something fun with our holiday cards. Here we are throughout the years. Hope these inspire you to do something fun with yours this year!

2015

2015: A Year Full of LAUGHS

L…lavishly made Halloween costumes
A…adorable bow ties
U…utterly fantastic silly faces
G…gigantic paper mache heads
H…hilarious hats and headbands
S…sharks, selfies and shoulder rides

2014

2014: Happy Holidays to the tune of Holly Jolly Christmas

We have a holly jolly household
It’s messy allll year
Well, I’m pretty sure there won’t be snow (in San Diego)
So we’ll have a glass of beer

We have a holly jolly household
And when you walk down the hall
Say hello to the legos we know
And how they puncture our feet

Ho, ho, Zander goes
To preschool and is happy as can be
Zoey runs to you
Kiss her once for me

We have a holly jolly household
In case you didn’t hear
Oh, by golly, Chris is designing advanced concepts
This year

We have a holly jolly household
And when you walk into Mary’s office
Say hello to the ROO you know
And everything is sweet

We have a holly jolly household
This year

2013

2013: Happy Holidays to the tune of Deck the Halls

Deck our house with baby Zoey
Fa la la la la, la la la la
She’s our reason to be jolly
Fa la la la la, la la la la

Zander’s in big boy apparel
Fa la la la la, la la la la
He’s potty trained and learned his first
Christmas carol
Fa la la la la, la la la la

Chris and Mary’s designs are increasingly clever
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Levi likes to play and sleep for pleasure
Fa la la la la, la la la la

Amazed how quickly the year passes
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Gone are the days that move slow like molasses
Fa la la la la, la la la la

Here’s our family, all together
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Days and nights, filled with laughter
Fa la la la la, la la la la

2012

2012: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Love, Chris, Mary, Zander & Levi

2011

 2011: Happy Holidays to the tune of 12 Days of Christmas

On the 12th month of the year
My true love gave to me

12 days of traveling
11 crocheted hats
10 halloween costumes
9 birthday wishes
8 swimming lessons
7 days with family
6 camping trips
5 days at the beach
4 easter eggs
3 trips to the zoo
2 sled rides
And a baby Zander in a custom tee

2010

 2010: Happy Holidays – The hightlight of our year… – To the tune of Jingle Bells

Labor bells labor bells
Zander’s on the way

Oh what fun it would be
To bring our baby home today

Dashing to the hospital
On our hybrid sleigh
Over to la Jolla we go
Contractions all the way

The baby car seat’s in
We hope we installed it right
What fun it will be to give
Levi a brother tonight

Labor bells labor bells
Zander’s on the way

Oh what fun it will be
To meet and hold our baby tonight

On the 19th of September
Two thousand ten
Our precious baby boy was born
And our life won’t be the same again

Now we’re changing diapers
So many we lost count
Who knew a baby could poo so much
Guess that’s what parenting’s all about

Baby bells baby bells
Zander’s here to stay

Oh what fun it has been
To raise our precious Zander
Each and everyday!