Clearing Skies

We spent the past week at my parent’s beautiful lake home. The first part of the week was fairly gloomy as waves of rain swept across the state. The past few days, however, were spectacular. We enjoyed gorgeous, crisp Autumn mornings with brilliant sunshine.  I was able to catch this series of images one morning as the fog receded across the lake:

A dense blanket of fog…




…slowly grows thinner…


…a beautiful vista emerges.


Watching this transition unfold over the course of about 20 minutes was mesmerizing. I was struck how this process parallels so many life situations. When you’re in the middle of it (you name “it”– navigating motherhood, feeling stuck in your career path, starting over, etc…), it’s so difficult to see your path unfolding clearly. You might even feel desperately alone, as if time is standing still and you are running out of options while the world literally closes in around you.

… and then, with a little trust, patience, and persistence… clarity returns… sometimes briefly… and then more and more…

What would start to shift for you if you knew the beauty, abundance, and clarity that awaited you after the fog cleared? How would you think differently? Act differently?

Wishing you a “clear skies” mindset, even when the fog rolls in…

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Halloween Tradition: Magical Moon Dust

Did you catch the Blood Moon last week? The moon was enormous in the night sky and this little snapshot captured on my iPhone doesn’t do it justice!


With Halloween drawing near, I decided to whip up a little bit of magical moon dust!

Magical Moon Dust

To make your own magical moon dust, mix together oatmeal, sprinkles, and Halloween confetti! Then, pour it into a little jar. To decorate your tag:

  • Download the witch digital tag from the Frightful Collection.
  • Print and cut the tag using the print features of the silhouette.
  • Edge your tag with purple glitter.
  • Add a few light orange rhinestones to the top.
  • Adhere a small”Moon Dust” title (edged in gold) to the front.

Magical Moon Dust Tutorial

I also attached a cute scalloped punch embellishment to the top of my jar with twine.

I pinned this darling idea from See Jane Blog ages ago and thought it could be translated into a fun, family tradition in the weeks leading up to October 31st. You will need:

  • 1 decorative pot
  • 1 jar of Magical Moon Dust
  • Candy corn pieces
  • Cake pop/lollipop sticks
  • Cookies

Have your kiddos “plant” candy corn seeds at night and then wake-up to find a special surprise!

Magical Moon Dust Tradition Halloween

Those candy corn seeds grow into a sweet treat! This DIY Halloween craft checks all the boxes- it’s fun, easy, and a clever tradition to celebrate with your family!

Halloween oreos

Want a few more ideas on cultivating “Spooktacular” Halloween traditions? See the bottom of THIS POST.

Happy (Almost) Halloween!

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DIY Halloween Cards

There’s finally a chill in the air and the leaves are starting to change! Here are 2 quick and easy Halloween cards to help you celebrate the season!

Halloween Silhouette Cards

I used the Halloween Cameos collection as a base for my design. Aren’t these silhouette images from Snap Click Supply Co. so fun and festive?!

Here’s the pumpkin version:

Pumpkin Cameo Card

After cutting the cameo, I layered it onto Bo Bunny orange dot paper edged with a gold Krylon pen. Two small embellishments give this card a little extra dimension: a little golden “Boo!” flag at the top and green vine leaves around the center circle. I didn’t glue all the leaves down, which gives the card a little bit more texture and movement!

And, one my favorites, the witch:

Witch Cameo Card

I couldn’t resist adding a line of purple rhinestones and a punched flourish to her hat!

Halloween Cameo Card Details

I would definitely recommend using a newer Silhouette mat when cutting these files since the cameo designs are incredibly intricate. Once the pieces are successfully cut, these DIY Halloween cards can be put together in a matter of minutes. I love how they turned out! These cameos would also be great as a Halloween gift tags!

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DIY Sensory Bin for Olivia

To help her sensory and speech issues, Olivia has been working with an awesome occupational therapist.  On one of Tracy’s visits, she brought an enormous sensory bin filled with colorful noodles.  Olivia LOVED scooping, dumping, and pouring.  The best news?… the bin was large enough for Olivia to actually climb in (which she eagerly did!).  Here’s a quick pic I took during this visit:

Sensory Bin Success3

I knew I wanted to recreate this learning activity… so….

14 boxes of noodles later, Olivia has her own extra-big DIY sensory bin!


Tracy told me the secret to getting her noodles to turn a gorgeous blue was soaking them in rubbing alcohol. I did a few Google searches to figure out the exact process.

Some posts suggested using vinegar to dye the noodles.  I actually tried this approach with one box.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the same success.  The noodles I dyed with vinegar came out clumpy and an entirely different texture.  See the comparison?

Sensory Bin Process

Since I wasn’t planning on using any of the noodles in later recipes, I went ahead and used alcohol as a dying medium.

I would definitely recommend using gel based food coloring! I mixed the gel coloring with alcohol in a small bowl and then dumped in into a Ziploc bag filled with noodles.  The next step was super easy- shake, shake, and shake some more!


After the color was dispersed, I emptied the noodles onto parchment paper and arranged them into a single layer to dry.  Since the gel food coloring is so potent, a pair of disposable gloves was invaluable for the step of the process!

Olivia absolutely loves her new DIY sensory bin!  I love that this activity will grow with her.  We can use the noodles for learning colors, sorting, counting, adding to art projects, and the list continues!


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Around Here: July and August 2014

July flew by and August is almost a distant memory.  Lately, I’ve been:

…coordinating evaluations and therapy sessions for Olivia.  I’ll write more about this personal adventure in the future.  I’m still digesting all the lessons I’ve learned about advocating for your child and some of the new insights we’ve gained into fostering speech development for toddlers.  Olivia has a huge gap right now between her receptive and expressive language abilities.  Naturally, this reality fuels daily frustrations for her and escalates tantrums quickly.  I am amazed at Olivia’s intelligence, curiosity, and independence- she experiences life so fully!  I am so grateful that we have some services in place now to help facilitate her journey.


… reflecting on some awesome blog posts focused on motherhood, life, and finding your own voice:

  • Baseball, Mom, and Staying the Course: This article was written by my friend, Tammy, who is also on the Design Team for the Snap Click Supply Company.  I just love her beautiful perspective on motherhood… some days are so tough and everything seems to go wrong at once.  Simply continuing to meet each challenge with an open heart and love is enough.
  • Redefining What I Want: Love this list about crafting a life you love.  How do you want your life to feel?
  • Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt: Awesome post challenging our constant need to upgrade and “fix” our life.  Love her focus on gratitude and staying in the present moment.  I hope Olivia remembers our kitchen as the site of many impromptu dance parties.
  • A Code for Living: This thoughtful quote from Tara Mohr is a true gem: “Do not give anyone an experience that you are not eager to receive, tenfold, at the end of your journey.”

… working on projects for The Dating Divas.  I posted this photo to Instagram in July with the caption: “Real life… What our kitchen table has looked like for the past week and half.  A growing and increasingly random assortment of materials for taking staged photos of upcoming blogging projects.  Yes, those would be balloons, Skittles, ping pong balls, and sprinkles on the table! #wannabephotographer”


I am so excited about the products our team is creating and feel so blessed to be in charge of leading the process.  Our graphic designer, Courtney of All Things Bright and Beautiful, is AMAZING!  She consistently transforms our design requests into a gorgeous, visual reality.  To top it off, her designs are  modern and fun!  If you are hosting a group date night, you will want to check out our Couples Win It in a Minute Party Pack.  It has EVERYTHING you need for a successful and FUN night with your favorite people.

Couples Game Night

We also recently launched our DIY Birthday Card Pack for Him.  These gorgeous cards are print ready and perfect for telling your hubby how much he is adored.  Wait until you see the embellishments on these cards- Hallmark has nothing on these!  This pack is a STEAL!  10 birthday cards and coordinating embellishments for less than 1 typical store-bought card!

Birthday Card Pack

… finishing this book: Dying to Be Me.  Additional thoughts and review COMING SOON!

… participating in Big Picture Classes Phone Photography Project 2 on Instagram.  Click to see all my summer photos related to this challenge!


…writing a little bit about essential oils.  I’ve been using them for the past year and loving our experiences.  They are definitely part of our daily routine and a first line of defense for anything that life throws our way.  For instance, on our last trip down to the lake, James was working in my parent’s yard and got into what we think was Stinging Nettle.  Almost immediately, he felt intense stinging and little white bumps appeared on his finger.  I immediately applied Lavender, Melaleuca, and Purify.  Within about 10 minutes, his pain subsided and the bumps were gone!  If you are curious about essential oils and what they can do for your family, check out The Essential Oils Archives.

PINCHING myself because I was featured on Kara’s Party Ideas!  I’m beyond thrilled that Kara decided to feature my dear friend Ashley’s Coco Chanel Inspired Baby Shower.  HERE’S THE FEATURE!  I definitely stepped out of my comfort zone in terms of submitting this party to a major blog… and checked off one more item on my 30 During My 30th Year!

…noticing that the seasons are beginning to shift.  This hydrangea’s beautiful white flowers always turn a gorgeous shade of blush announcing Fall’s arrival.


… dumping a cold bucket of water/ice on my head.  Yes, my good friend Kim nominated me to take the ALS ice bucket challenge.  It was COLD!  Brrr…. Read how this challenge started HERE.  It truly just takes a few people with open hearts, an idea, and a desire to make a difference.


… and, just this past week, catching some unexpected inspiration from the radio.  I was driving over to my mom’s house and happened to tune into Oprah’s channel on Sirius where she was interviewing Pastor Rick.  This quote really resonated with me:

“You can waste your life. You can spend your life. Or you can invest your life. The best use of your life is to invest it in that which will outlast it. Invest it in serving others. And that’s what it means to live a purpose-driven life.”- Pastor Rick

Looking forward to all that September will bring!

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Summer Photo Challenge 2014

This summer has been filled with beautiful moments. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed I’ve been using the hashtag, #bpcphonephotographyproject, to describe many of my photos along with several more specific ones like #ppp2silhouette or #ppp2light.  These labels refer to a phone photography challenge I participated in through Big Picture Classes.  Every couple of days, they released a new prompt focusing on a particular photography technique.  Here’s my round-up of photos related to this project:


I LOVED this challenge because it really forced me to focus on specific photography principles- some technical, some design related- and experiment with different editing apps.  And, it was all done using my iPhone.

Photos by Prompt Challenges

  • Row 1: Light, Action, Lines
  • Row 2: Lines/Light, Silhouette, Landscape
  • Row 3: Vantage Point, Fill the Frame/Vantage Point, Shapes
  • Row 4: Shapes, Lines/In a Row, Shapes/In a Row
  • Row 5: Fill the Frame/Shapes, Rule of Thirds, Vantage Point/Backgrounds
  • Row 6: Shadow, Objects, Portrait

Editing apps that I use on my phone all the time include: PicTapGo, Snapseed, LensLight, BubbleFrame, and Rhonna Designs.  My “action” shot of Olivia in the first row was selected to be featured on Rhonna’s Start Screen… what an honor to be featured!


With this challenge complete, I can check off 1 more item on my 30 During My 30th List!

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Coco Chanel Inspired Baby Shower

Coco Chanel Baby Shower

I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that a baby shower I hosted back in March for a dear friend is being featured on Kara’s Party Ideas!

Click HERE for the all the party details!

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Nautical Birthday Party

Nautical Birthday Party

With the end of summer drawing near, I couldn’t resist one more opportunity to use elements from the Ahoy Collection by Carta Bella.  I just love this grouping of anchors, sea sentiments, and ocean inspired designs.  Remember the nautical birthday card I shared last month?  Here are several more ideas to accompany an anchor themed or nautical birthday party using digital scrapbooking products:

Ahoy Banner

Ahoy Banner

I used a generic banner die-cut to make my banner base.  Then, I used the alphabet letters from the nautical collection to spell out the word “AHOY.”  The focal point of this cute banner has to be the gorgeous anchor element.  I used the print and cut feature of my silhouette to cut out a perfectly shaped outline of this graphic.  To make everything pop, I edged the border with aqua glitter.  A few additional paper embellishments and ribbon completed the look!

Ahoy Banner Detail

Treat Bags

The Ahoy collection contains several darling graphics including a boat, a lobster, and a fish.  When I saw these elements, I knew they would be the perfect embellishments for treat bag toppers.

Nautical Birthday Treat

I packaged goldfish with the saying “Catch of the Day,” licorice bites with the phrase “Sailors Sweets,” and sour gummy worms with the sentiment “Live Bait.”

Nautical Birthday Treats 2

Here’s the basic outline of how I made these goodies:

  1. Open a new 4-inches x 2-inches document in PSE.
  2. Drag a piece of coordinating digital scrapbook paper onto your document.  Adjust the size if needed.
  3. Add a text box to the bottom half of the document containing your catch phrase.  I used the font Lobster 1.3.
  4. Print out this document.  Fold in half.
  5. Use the print and cut feature of the silhouette to cut out a digital element to add to the topper.
  6. Adhere this digital element to the topper using double sided foam tape.
  7. Embellish with additional punches or ribbon if desired.
  8. Add your finished topper to a Ziploc bag filled with yummy treats using tape adhesive.

Nautical Birthday Treat 3

Birthday Sign

I love creating little signs to include as part of a dessert table when hosting a party.  I made this framed graphic for my nieces’ birthday using Element 1.

Nautical Birthday Sign

A couple of notes:

  • I used the aqua chevron paper labeled “Seashells” as a base.
  • In PSE, I opened Element 1 and set my foreground color to the same navy color as the bottom portion of the banner.  Then, I selected the paint brush tool and filled in the “1826” date so it wasn’t visible.
  • To make this element easy to cut out using the silhouette, I added a very light aqua stroke line.
  • I added a new “date” to the bottom banner using sticker letters. 2006 is the year my sweet nieces were born.
  • In order to make this sign dimensional, I added a scalloped red punched shape to the center.  I also layered a cut-out anchor in the center using foam tape.
  • For extra sparkle, I edged the anchor element with aqua glitter.

Nautical Birthday Sign Anchor Detail

There you have it…  3 extra ideas for savoring summer memories using the AHOY collection.  Now, go “Seas the Day!” and find some fun ways to incorporate digital design into your next project!

Here’s a peak at my final birthday package to my sweet nieces- all the nautical DIY goodies and 2 books about the sea!

Nautical Birthday Party Gifts

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doTERRA Essential Oils: Family Physician Kit

A little more than 1 year ago, I was so curious about the potential of essential oils, I decided to order a Family Physician Kit from doTERRA.  This intro kit contains 11 oils (5 single oils and 6 proprietary blends) in a 5-mL bottles.  This particular kit also includes your wholesale membership fee for the year.  When you subtract this one-time expense, you are basically purchasing 11 essential oils for roughly $10 a piece.  What a steal for the immense value these oils can provide for your family!

doTERRA family physician kit

Check out this list to get an idea of how you can start using the oils immediately: 150 Uses for the Family Physician Kit

Here’s a basic primer on oils contained within the Family Physician Kit:

Lavender essential oil

Properties of Lavender:

Analgesic, Anticoagulant, Anticonvulsant, Antidepressant, Antifungal, Antihistamine, Anti-inflammatory, Antimicrobial, Sedative (Modern Essentials, 4th Ed.)

Lavender is commonly referred to as the “Swiss Army Knife of Oils.”  When in doubt, use lavender! We use lavender all the time to promote restful sleep and relaxation.  I can speak from personal experience regarding the power of this essential oil to soothe burns, scapes, sunburns, and bug bites.  It is definitely a “go-to” oil in my medicine cabinet and used in many DIY roller blends.  The literature also supports lavender’s anti-inflammatory properties in relation to asthma: Read THIS STUDY.

Lemon essential oil

Properties of Lemon:

Anti-cancer, Antidepressant, Antiseptic, Antifungal, Antiviral (Modern Essentials, 4th Ed.)

I am not a water drinker!  Adding a drop of lemon essential oil to my water glass helps immensely and tastes great.  As an added bonus, this practice also helps to gently detox my liver.  I also use lemon to help clean toxins off fruits and veggies, especially when I’m not able to find organic options.  Lemon is commonly used as an ingredient in DIY cleaning sprays due to its powerful antiseptic/antiviral properties.  I personally haven’t had any experience using lemon to remove adhesive or marks on a wall BUT I’ve heard many personal testimonies where it has been a lifesaver!  My doula shared a story recently about how lemon essential oil helped her erase Sharpie permanent marker from a dry erase board.  1-2 drops can also assist removing gum from hair… a handy tip for any Momma!

Peppermint essential oil

Properties of Peppermint:

Analgesic, Antibacterial, Anti-inflammatory, Antiviral, Anti-nausea, Invigorating (Modern Essentials, 4th Ed.)

I like to add a drop of Peppermint oil to my water for an energizing pick-me up in the middle of the day.  I also just tried a adding a few drops to brownie batter- so delicious!  The natural cooling effects of this oil also make it ideal for soothing sunburns and other skin conditions.  My skin is fairly sensitive so peppermint is definitely one that I always dilute with fractionated coconut oil.  I know many people that have also used Peppermint to ward off spiders, ants, and mice.  The research on peppermint highlights how it can be used to boost mental clarity and assist with GI issues.

Oregano essential oil

Properties of Oregano:

Antiviral, Antibacterial, Antifungal, Anti-parasitic, Antiseptic (Modern Essentials, 4th Ed.)

Oregano is a “hot” oil and should be handled with care.  This essential oil is at the top of my list to use when we aren’t feeling great since its natural properties make it a great immune booster.  I typically combine Oregano, Melaleuca, and On Guard to restore our well-being and optimal health levels- it’s quite a power trio!  Here’s a great article discussing the potential therapeutic benefits of oregano: More Than Just a Spice.

Melaleuca essential oil

Properties of Melaleuca:

Analgesic, Antibacterial, Antifungal, Anti-infectious, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-parasitic, Antiviral (Modern Essentials, 4th Ed.)

Melaleuca is commonly known as Tea Tree Oil.  This is a “go-to” oil for disinfecting and one of the power oils I mentioned above to help boost immunity.  I usually apply Melaleuca, along with Lavender, to bug bites and common scrapes.  It’s also a key ingredient, along with lavender, in my daughter’s homemade diaper cream.  This recent follow-up study discussed Melaleuca’s role during the wound healing process: The Effect of tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) on wound healing using a dressing model.

Frankincense essential oil

Properties of Frankincense:

Anticancer, Antidepressant, Anti-infectious, Anti-inflammatory, Antiseptic (Modern Essentials, 4th Ed.)

I would label Frankincense on par with Lavender in the sense that it does SO many things and can be used in so many circumstances.  I personally reach for this oil when experiencing discomfort from a migraine.  It has a powerful aroma and taste- it reminds me of the smell of incense used during Catholic masses.  Frankincense contains sequiterpenes, which allow it to cross the blood-brain barrier.  It is commonly used to provide emotional balance, enhance concentration, boost immunity, and soothe skin conditions.  For more information on this oil, commonly referred to as “liquid gold,” tune into Dr. Hill’s webinar:

Deep Blue essential oil

Deep Blue Blend Properties

Deep Blue is classified as the “Soothing Blend” and is perfect for calming sore muscles. It not only helps relax achy muscles/joints, but also works to promote healthy circulation.  I personally have had great success using this oil on my temples while I’m experiencing a migraine- it’s cooling properties work wonders!  My husband is a runner and this oil comes in handy during his training season.

Breathe essential oil

Breathe Blend Properties

doTERRA’s “Respiratory Blend” helps open and calm respiratory tissues.  I personally LOVE the smell of this oil.  It is perfect to diffuse at night to promote restful sleep and to avoid waking with congestion.  I like to place 1-2 drops in my palms and cup them to my nose for instant aromatherapy benefits- it definitely has a positive effect on my sinuses and helps me breathe easier!

DigestZen essential oil

DigestZen Blend Properties

Tummy issues don’t stand a chance with doTerra’s proprietary “Digestive Blend.”  This oil is packed with constituents that calm the lining of your stomach and intestines.  It’s a lifesaver when you’ve eaten too much or indulged in “not-so-healthy” food choices.  We’ve found this blend to be an effective tool for calming our toddler’s tummy.  We massage a small amount of diluted oil in a clockwise circle over Olivia’s stomach for fast results.  One physician’s thoughts on Ginger, an important constituent in this blend, can be found here: Ginger: The Benefits Revealed in Modern Day Medicine.

On Guard essential oil

On Guard Blend Properties:

Billed as the “Protective Blend,” On Guard works to boost your immune system.  Recent research has shown On Guard to stop the process of viral replication (STUDY: Protective essential oil attenuates influenza virus infection: an in vitro study in MDCK cells).  Read the full scoop on how this blend’s antimicrobial properties are being tested against MRSA in THIS ARTICLE.  On Guard can also be used to clean and purify surfaces, making it a common ingredient in DIY household cleaners.  On a flight earlier this year, I sat across the aisle from an individual with a horrendous cough and stuffy nose.  I was SO grateful to have a diluted roller of On Guard with me… you can guarantee that I was applying this oil often to help keep my immune system strong and healthy.

Slim Sassy essential oil

Slim and Sassy Blend Properties:

Described as the “Metabolic Blend,” Slim and Sassy helps bring the body to homeostasis.  It can be a powerful aid for weight loss since its oil constituents work to support your endocrine system, boost metabolism, and assist your body clear toxins.

What I love about the Oils:

I feel empowered to deal with whatever life throws at us!  Just this past weekend, we encountered an experience where the oils proved to be invaluable.  James was working in my parent’s yard and got into what we think was Stinging Nettle.  Almost immediately, he felt intense stinging and little white bumps appeared on his finger.  I immediately applied Lavender, Melaleuca, and Purify since these oils have both soothing and antiseptic properties.  Within about 10 minutes, his pain subsided and the bumps were gone!

The wonderful thing about essential oils is the personalized way that you can take charge of your wellness.  There are definitely recommended protocols for various concerns supported by scientific research.  However, there is no one right answer to any one issue…. and what works really well for one person might not have the same effect on another due to personal body chemistry differences.  I highly encourage you to conduct your own research, listen to your body, and experiment!

Note: Information and protocols listed on this page are supported by current research and have worked for many.  However, it should not be used to diagnose or treat any ailment. Please seek the guidance of a qualified physician.

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Nautical Birthday Card

Snap Click Supply Company has been celebrating digital design all month long by offering double the number of items on sale.  To go along with the theme of “double the fun,” I created a quick and easy summer birthday card for my awesome TWIN nieces!  This fun card uses digital elements from both the Ahoy There (Carta Bella) and the Nautical collection (Fancy Pants).

DIY Nautical Card

When I started this project, I didn’t have an exact picture in my mind of how I wanted it to turn out.  I did know, however, that I wanted to use the phrase, “Ahoy! It’s Your Birthday!”

Ahoy Card

I began by using the “print and cut” feature of my silhouette to cut out several awesome digital designs, including an anchor and alphabet letters spelling AHOY.  I also selected a background paper for my card base from the Ahoy There collection… this was a tough pic as there are so many fun nautical choices!

Ahoy Card Detail

With my card base determined, I started experimenting with the placement of the cut out digital designs. I love adding dimension to my hybrid card designs so foam tape is a must!  In the picture below, you can see where I applied foam tape to make various layers pop.

Ahoy Card Layering Detail

A few decisions and embellishments:

  • I punched a hole through the anchor top and added a bow using red baker’s twine.
  • I edged the white background panel with a Krylon gold leafing pen to add a bit of sparkle.
  • I used a Nestability die (Labels 18) to cut out a blue shape to highlight the anchor.  Love the contrast this step provides!

Nautical Card Elements

On the back of the card, I added the rest of the birthday sentiment.  I embellished the text with clear rhinestones in two sizes and a red punched heart.

Birthday Greeting Detail

To compliment my summer theme, I also whipped up a fun envelope design.

Summer Envelope Design 2

Again, I used the “print and cut” feature of the Silhouette to cut out the “Summer” word from Fancy Pant’s Nautical collection.

Tip: This element didn’t have a clear boundary for the Silhouette to recognize.  To remedy this issue, I opened the element up in PSE and added a light stroke to the edge in a coordinating color.  Adding a stroke line made cutting out this element using the Silhouette super easy!

Silhouette tip for digital images

I grouped the fun “Summer” word element with 2 layers of washi tape and a punched star.  I also added the twins’ names with sticker letters.

Summer Envelope Design

This nautical birthday card was fun to make and perfect for any summer birthday!  I hope my sweet nieces have DOUBLE the fun on their 8th birthday!

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