Month: March 2013

Looking Down – March Self-Portrait Challenge

By Sam | March 30, 2013

My blogging buddy, Amy from While Wearing High Heels, has a great self-portrait challenge each month. I was excited to participate for the first time and loved the theme for March – Looking Down.

This is me today, looking down.

It’s 5am and I’m at my CrossFit class looking down and getting ready to do 64 front squats and 480 feet of burpee broad jumps. I almost give up half way through and tears are threatening to fall down my face but I finish strong. I’m the last one done. It’s not the easiest way to start the day but I’ve never regretted a workout, even at 5am.  

It’s playtime and I’m looking down at my little man who’s enjoying the color matching game I made him earlier this week. He is my creative muse and it makes my heart smile to see him playing happily with something I made for him. Before Jake I never finished my creative projects. I would get too caught up in thinking that I’m not an artist and that my projects had to be perfect to be finished.  Jake has made me realize that my projects don’t have to be perfect, they just need to be fun.

Time for our walk. I’m looking down at an unhappy Jake. He’s sad that I won’t let him go further down the street because it’s time to turn around and get ready for his nap. He’s great at stalling. Right after I took this picture he jumped out of the car and started to run the opposite direction. Good thing I’m still faster than him, but I don’t think that will be the case much longer. I carry all 32lbs of him the rest of the way home as he screams, kicks and cries past all of our neighbors.

Ah, it’s nap time. A chance to sit down and rest for a moment. I actually need to work on a marketing project for a client but I take a quick break to look down at my laptop keyboard and start this post. I’m feeling a bit stressed thinking about the laundry I should be folding and the mail that seems to be accumulating on our kitchen counter. Sometimes I feel like there is just not enough time in the day. The minutes are rolling by too quickly. How do I stay in the precious present?

Woohoo, I am blessed with a long three hour nap. This rarely happens. We are playing outside in the front yard and I’m looking down at my toddler son who has turned our makeshift truck ramp into a toddler ramp.

It’s now almost 10:00pm and I’m beyond ready for bed but I want to finish this post as I give you a glimpse into my everyday life. These photos aren’t perfect and neither am I, but I do my best to create my life the way I want it while enjoying the moments I have looking up, down and all around.

Our Magical Carrot Boutonniere

By Sam | March 27, 2013

It all started with this adorable carrot boutonniere made by my amazingly creative and even sweeter friend Amy from While Wearing Heels.

As it turns out, when you put on a carrot boutonniere, it’s magical.

Baskets & eggs suddenly appear in unexpected places before it’s even Easter.

Best friends, hand in hand set off to hunt for secret treasures hidden in colorful eggs.

Up the hill and through the woods, eggs appeared around every corner. 
What fun to see what was hidden inside. 
There were dinosaurs and animals. Princesses and cars. And the most coveted prizes of all, tiny chocolate eggs and bunnies.  
What a perfect and enchanting morning. The little egg hunters are now asleep and the carrot boutonniere is safely tucked away until it appears again next year. 
Want to make a carrot boutonniere of your own? You can find the full tutorial here at While Wearing High Heels. And be sure to say hi to Amy and look around a bit because her creativity knows no boundaries.
Cheers to the magic of childhood and our new “pre-Easter” tradition!

A Fun Color Matching Game

By Sam | March 25, 2013

I’ve been brainstorming about what to do with the 100 wooden toy wheels I have lying around. I seem to have a habit of collecting supplies for projects that I never end up completing (I was originally going to paint the wheels to look like donuts for Jake’s birthday party). Since Jake is car obsessed and I’ve been meaning to find a way to teach colors, I thought why not create a color matching wheel game. Here’s the best part…this toddler activity is cheap and easy!

Step 1: Look for all the colors in your stash of paint chips or collect a few new ones (FREE is cheap)!

Step 2: Draw a car, truck, bike or anything with wheels onto your paint chips. I lucked out and happened to have a car puzzle piece that I just traced, but you could also look online for some free clipart. Outline your drawing with a pen. I used a silver Sharpie.

Step 3: Paint your wooden wheels with acrylic paint. I only did one coat because I have no patience but if you’re really crazy you could do 2 coats of paint and finish it off with a varnish. The picture above was how I let my wheels dry. This image and step really isn’t necessary, I just thought it looked pretty!

Step 4: You have now have 2 options for your rainbow color game. You could glue the paint chips to a board and have a stay at home game. Or, you could hole punch the paint chips, add a ribbon or book ring and create a color book you can take to the restaurant. Add a little bag and now you can bring the wheels too!
If you like this post, you might also enjoy our color sorting activity!
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For more ideas on teaching colors, check out these other posts from Thrive 360 Living:

10 Fun Ideas For Playroom Walls

By Sam | March 22, 2013

Since most of our house decor is pretty neutral, my love for color and creativity has found a canvas on the walls of my son’s playroom (full playroom tour here). My formula for great playroom wall decor is something that’s playful, eye-catching and fun. All of these walls have that formula in common and I hope they inspire you as much as they have me. If you find something you like, be sure to pin the image from the source listed.

                                          Orange wall with world map decal by This Grey House

Alphabet wall by Thrive 360 Living

Record Wall by Love Grows Wild
DIY paper tube shelves by Pysselbolget.
Picture ledge toy car storage by Lacey Carroll Interiors
Felt board by 8 Foot 6

Kids art gallery wall by Living Well Spending Less
DIY paint chip wall art by Honey We’re Home
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Turn a Cardboard Box into a Train & Car Tunnel

By Sam | March 19, 2013

The fastest way to a little boy’s heart is through a cardboard tunnel! Jake is only 2 and has already amassed quite a collection of trains, hot wheels and matchbox cars. His collection usually rolls along our living room couch, windowsills, counters, chairs, tiles, etc. I remembered pinning this fun tunnel from Celebrate Every Day With Me, when Jake was just 6 months old and had already developed a love for anything with wheels. I had a feeling that I would be putting that pin to use one day.

Turn a cardboard box into a fun train and car tunnel toy

This project is super easy and cheap. I started with an empty Huggies diaper box because it was the perfect size and we have lots of them. You don’t want a box that’s too big or else the cars and trains might get lost inside.

Since the box had graphics on the outside, I used this wrapping paper from Paper-Source around the entire box to create a blank canvas. (Sort of funny I wrapped my cardboard box to make it look like a cardboard box). Raid you stash of paper scraps to dress up your box with tracks and roads. I happened to have this fun paper that already looked like tracks.

Every tunnel of course needs another tunnel on top, complete with helicopter landing pad. I made mine using a piece of folded cardboard and an empty ribbon roll. 
Here’s what it looks like when your helicopter and planes are coming in for a landing. 

Since we are in quite the learning phase right now, I added some of Jake’s favorite things: letters, numbers and colors. The numbers and letters are just foam stickers from the Dollar Store and the cars are from this clipart I found online. 
I think the alphabet tree is my favorite part of the box. Wouldn’t that be fun to do on a playroom wall (hmm, maybe a new project idea?).

And because sometimes projects look great online but you don’t always know how they are in practice, here are some pics of Jake in action with his new super, duper tunnel. 
Here comes Thomas chugging through the felt covered tunnel. I think it’s official…Jake loves his new cardboard box!
Have you made any fun toys out of cardboard boxes?
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Doodle Art for the Heart

By Sam | March 15, 2013

While in my heart I wish I was an artist with a talent for painting and drawing, I’m just not. I can dream up great things, but when it comes to translating my ideas onto paper I’m at a loss. I do however love to doodle. There’s something about doodles that makes me feel okay if they’re not perfect. It has been a long time since I’ve spent anytime doodling, but after coming across #doodleadaymarch on Instagram I rediscovered how much I enjoy creating playful doodles. Here are a few that I’ve been dreaming up in March.

Would love to connect with you on Instagram and see what’s making you smile each day. Follow me here and I’ll follow you back.

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Toddler Boy Spring Outfits

By Sam | March 14, 2013

It’s starting to get warmer here in San Diego and I’m starting to realize that my growing boy doesn’t fit into any of his summer clothes from last year. With Spring on my mind I’ve been browsing some online stores (since I rarely get to the mall with my very active little boy). These are just some of the cute toddler boy outfits I’ve been loving. I ended up purchasing the pieces in #3 and they look so cute on my little guy. I would have done an “Outfit of the Day” post with him, but he won’t sit still for longer than half a second.
Toddler Boy Spring Outfits
1. Tea Collection t-shirt, Gap shorts, Gap slip-on shoes
2. Tea Collection t-shirt and shorts, Gap loafers
3. Gap t-shirt, Old Navy shorts, Old Navy shoes
4. Tea Collection t-shirt & shorts, Old Navy shoes

Playroom Tour – With Lots of DIY Ideas

By Sam | March 12, 2013

After posting about our Alphabet Wall, I had some requests asking to see what the rest of our playroom looked like. So here it is in all its glory (I did straighten it up during nap time. I’m sure it will be destroyed again shortly). 

kids playroom decor
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The main focal point of the room is our ABC wall. Since it has a lot going on, I thought we needed a bright couch to anchor it into place. I didn’t want to spend a fortune and was happy to find just the right playroom futon at Target (looks like they only have it available in blue now). I’m not going to lie, it’s not the most comfortable couch in the world, but kids don’t seem to mind. 
Fun kids playroom
I always feel happy in this room full of fun and cheerful colors. 
Playroom storage
For toy storage, I liked the idea of small toys all having a place to be put away. Two IKEA Expedit shelving units provided more than enough storage. The woven storage baskets are from IKEA as well and the other storage bins are part of Target’s ITSO storage line. 
Kids ball pit
Whenever we have play dates, the ball pit is one of the most popular hangouts in the playroom. Seriously the kids LOVE it! We’ve had this ball pit since Jake was 6 months old and it’s still one of his favorite toys. You can easily make your own with an inflatable swimming pool and pit balls (we used 200).  
Our easel and road play mat are recent additions and can be found at IKEA.  The colorful tunnel in the background is another toddler favorite and can be found here
Great toddler and kids train table
Jake’s train table was a Christmas present from Papa & G’ma and is probably the most used item in our the room. The train table is from Toys R Us and was purchased on sale for $119 at Christmas time. The table includes all of the tracks and structures you see in the picture above (such a deal compared to other brands I looked at). I did a ton of research on train tables beforehand and I think that this is one of the best values you can find. Unfortunately it’s not on sale right now, but I know for the the last few years, usually in November and December, it has gone on sale so keep a look out if you have a little train conductor in your family. 
Our lego table is actually just this awesome plastic train table (Jake’s favorite toy until he got his Christmas train table), with Duplo baseplates added on top. I used removable adhesive strips to keep the plates in place. 
DIY magnetic board for kids
And no playroom is complete without a magnetic board. This was actually one of my first Pinterest inspired creations. The original post by Nic and Kate can be found here. This idea is completely genius! All you need is a $10 oil drip pan, usually found in the automotive section at Walmart. Since it’s not very pretty on it’s own, a coat of spray paint dresses it up nicely. I don’t remember exactly what we used to hang it on the wall, but I think it was some sort of velcro, removable adhesive strip. You can find our fun letter magnets here and the adorable harley bike rocker here
Hope you enjoyed the tour. I imagine this room will be a work in progress as Jake gets older. For now the next project on the agenda is a number wall that will reside right above the magnetic board. Can’t wait to share it with you once it’s done
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Lucky Wish Bottles & Necklace

By Sam | March 8, 2013

I read a quote today that completely inspired me. It said “never stop making wishes.” I adore that phrase   and decided that I needed to make a little craft to go along those sweet words. These DIY mini wish bottles couldn’t be easier to make. They took me about 20 minutes and cost about $1 each to make.

Aren’t these perfect for St. Patrick’s day? I made a few lucky green bottles, a pot of gold and rainbow. I even turned one into a necklace. They would also make wonderful DIY gifts for a special friend or party favors for a fairy themed birthday party.

Miniature glass bottles filled with glitter and beads for wish making.

Here’s what you need:
Miniature glass bottles or vials 
-Glitter, beads or what ever your heart desires to put inside the bottle.
-A piece of paper to roll and use as a funnel for your glitter or beads.

If you want to make one into a necklace, you just need to push a small eye-screw or eye-pin into the cork. I added some glue to make sure it was secure. Once your eye-screw or pin is in place, add a jump ring to make it a pendant that can be added to a necklace chain. Told you it was easy!

Happy Wish Making!

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Alphabet Rocks – Heat Embossed

By Sam | March 7, 2013

If you didn’t already know, we love the alphabet at our house and have an entire wall dedicated to it. Since my 2 year old son loves letters, I wanted to make him some alphabet rocks to practice his ABC’s. In the process I realized there is a lot you can do with rocks and a little imagination. While most people tend to paint their rocks with acrylic paint (like the number rocks I made), I decided to try something a little bit different by using stamps and heat embossing.

On the front of each rock I did uppercase letters and on the back I did lowercase letters.

lowercase alphabet rocks for learning
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STEP 1: Stamp rocks. 

STEP 2: Cover rocks with embossing powder. 

STEP 3: Remove extra embossing powder.
Heat embossing rocks
STEP 4: Use the heat embossing tool over the rocks (it’s really fun to see the powder turn solid). NOTE: It gets VERY hot, so put a baking sheet or tin and a towel underneath. I learned my lesson the hard way when I burned a small hole into my desk. 
STEP 5: Once the rocks have cooled, you can add lowercase letters to the back. If you do this, slip a piece of parchment paper under the finished side so that your uppercase letters don’t smear. 
STEP 6: Optional – Add matte modge podge to just the embossed part of the rock to protect them.   
Here are more learning activities that you can use your alphabet rocks for:
Color sorting:
If you are looking for more rocks activities and ideas check out these other Thrive 360 Living posts:
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