How I’m Staying Focused on My Intention

You may remember back in the beginning of this crazy year when I boldly stated my intention is to be more “open.” I promised myself I would…

Open my heart and find the courage to always be myself.

Open my mind to new ideas and possibilities.

Open my arms to anyone who needs me.

Open my eyes to see things that are important and meaningful.

I even created this wallpaper for my phone to help me remember my word.

Checking in

We’re quickly approaching March, and I’m doing a fairly good job remembering to stay open. I’ve had my moments, which have sometimes stretched into days. But I’m not perfect. Thank goodness.

The wallpaper/screensaver phone trick has helped. Anytime I wake the beast, its glowing face shows me the word “open” stretched across a skyline – and I feel grounded again.

Needing more help, though

In a two-part effort: 1) to put my phone down more often, and 2) to keep remembering my “word”, I decided to step up my game and order a bracelet from the MyIntent project. >

{Psst…here’s how mine turned out.}

{And this is a sampling of a few bracelets they’ve made for others.}

I first learned about these bracelets through a clip on the Today Show. Then I saw a link to the offical website and learned more about the company.

The story is fascinating.

I guess this whole company started with a guy making lots of bracelets and giving them away to friends out in L.A. He was creating such interesting conversations with them and was eventually able to work them into the hands of a few stars. Jay Z loved the concept, and soon Rihanna and Beyonce were among the celebrities rocking their intentions.

The next thing he knew, he had a booming business. The cool thing about this company, though, is that it sticks to its mission. It isn’t just a jewelry store selling bracelets and necklaces.

The mission is uplifting.

From the beginning, the bracelets have been less about fashion and a growing enterprise and more about a purpose. In fact, all of the products are very reasonably priced to help make them more accessible.

The results are encouraging.

From a personal standpoint, I feel like wearing a bracelet has been a better, constant reminder of the promise I made to myself. It has also sparked a few interesting conversations – just like it was intended.

Here’s a mini unboxing of my bracelet. The pic below shows the cool canvas pouch that it came in. >

I also loved the fact it was signed by the person who made it. Here’s a closer pic. >

The back of the card encourages you to think further about your word and why it was chosen. >

What’s helpful about this exercise is it helps you think through your intention, so when people ask, you have thoughts about what to share…your talking points.

If you want to give this a try or even give one as a gift, here’s a link to order. (You can even get $5 off as my friend.) #benefits 😉

Whether you get a bracelet, wallpaper your phone, post a sticky note on your bathroom mirror, or any other great trick, here’s to sticking to our intentions…together. Be sure to share your word in the comments, so I can cheer you along.




Friday Wrap: Birthday Party Edition!!

Sorry I’ve been MIA lately. I’ve been down-for-the-count with a terrible cold – topped off with allergies. Lovely, I know. The good news is that I’m so much better now and finally able to share some pics from my twin girls’ 11th birthday!!

We had a little shindig at our house to celebrate, and the theme ended up being a mermaid-unicorn-fairy-rainbow-pizza party. (When in doubt, just mash it up.)

And did you see the shirts I found at Thug Life?! They couldn’t have been more perfect. As seen below.

{My sweet birthday girls. We made a photo frame out of black matte board and hot-glued tissue paper flowers to the corners to glam it up a bit. I can’t wait to get into more details…}

It’s safe to say all of the girls had a mythical, magical time. And I wanted to share a few of the highlights.

Maybe this will spark some ideas for your next birthday bash?

{ONE} Rainbow Flowers & Heart Droplets

We gotta start with the decorations. I had so much fun playing around with inexpensive craft stuff, such as paint chips and tissue paper, to create a darling party atmosphere.

I used rainbow colors, because what mermaid-fairy-unicorn doesn’t love rainbows?!

I made tissue paper flowers for the table and giant tissue “clouds” for the ceiling. Then I made it rain up in here with strands of ribbon and hearts dangling from the lights.

Here’s a closer look at the rainbow heart droplets.

Directions: I tied several strands of thin ribbon to the base of our chandelier. Then I glued rainbow-colored hearts (back-to-back) directly onto the ribbon. Super easy.

Want to see the secret to those perfectly shaped hearts? >>

Voila! I used my heart-shaped paper punch.

And all of those beautiful colors were compliments (literally) of Lowes. I got a large stack of paint chips in a variety of pastel colors.

Here’s a closeup of the pinks. I love the ombre look you get from using paint chips, too.

PS. Punching out all of these hearts was the perfect activity for my girls. They were definitely involved in all of this magic making.

We had so many hearts, we even sprinkled some on the table – like rainbow confetti!

{TWO} Rainbow Cupcakes & Candies

Of course we had some rainbow-themed goodies!

I was obsessed with these cupcakes. Avery found the idea on Pinterest, so we had some inspiration. Then she and her sister made these all. by. themselves. No joke. All of those hours watching Cupcake Wars is paying off.

Directions: After baking up some vanilla cupcakes, they added a few drops of blue food coloring to their buttercream frosting. We found some Airhead Xtremes Rainbow Belts at Walmart, so they cut them in small strips and formed them like rainbows over each cake. And the clouds, as you probably guessed, are mini marshmallows. <3

Here’s a view from above. The girls did such a lovely job plating these sweet treats, too.

Here’s a wide angle of the table, so you can see the confetti hearts, tissue paper flowers and cupcakes all hanging out just waiting for the mermaids, unicorns and fairies to arrive.

Oh, and we also made a candy station using rainbow suckers, fruity Twizzlers, and tropical Skittles so their friends could “taste the rainbow.”

The girls thought it was funny to call the Skittles “unicorn poop.” I totally agreed.

And just so everyone wasn’t completely bouncing off the walls, I offered a more natural rainbow selection of fruit when it was time for pizza. #momapproved

{THREE} Fun Photo Frame

Back to the photo frame for a hot minute. As soon as all of the girls arrived, we went to the backyard to take fun pics inside the frame – photo booth style.

I made sure to take a pic with each guest and the birthday girls. Here are a few snaps >>

After the party, we printed out each of the pictures and tucked them inside personalized thank yous!!

{FOUR} Mermaids in Action

We decided to officially kick off the party like mermaids – and went swimming at a nearby indoor pool.

They were the cutest, sweetest mermaids I had ever seen.

I loved this action shot. All of this splish-splashin’ fun was followed by snacks of goldfish and Roarin’ Waters – a mermaid’s favorite snack. They nibbled all the way back to the house where we had more fun activities planned.

{FIVE} Fairy Gardens

The girls put on their best fairy faces and painted mini bird houses for their gardens.

This was Clara’s creation. >>

I bought plastic liners from the garden store, filled them with soil, then offered up an assortment of rocks, seashells from previous vacations, gems, beads and anything else I had in my craft area that felt right for a fairy garden.

The girls had a blast decorating and chatting. This is what Avery pulled together. >>

Once they were finished, we sprinkled grass seed all over the soil. Grass is pretty inexpensive and germinates in less than a week, so the girls had something to look forward to when they left!

Here’s a pic of Avery’s garden today. She has already mowed several times with scissors! >>

That’s a wrap!

After a few planned activities, I just let the girls do their thing…create Music.lys, eat pizza, snack on candy and eventually watch a movie in sleeping bags upstairs. They woke up to pancakes and more rainbow fruit before heading off into the sunrise.

It was a total, successful, drama-free party – thanks to such sweet friends.

And the girls and I want to thank you for reading along and letting us share their birthday fun.

We’d also like to give a shout out to their big brother, Evan, who was incredibly cool about having a house full of girls on a Saturday night. I’m sure he was thinking, “Thank goodness for video games.” But really, he was such a good sport.

And so was our daddy bear. Brandon is always a super-trooper and helps me every step of the way. I love my people so much!

1 + 1 = 11 😉

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll see you next week (pinkie promise) with some more fun ideas to share.





5 Helpful Hacks (Using Common Household Items)

Hi, friends! This was a week of stumbling upon a slew of random, but super useful tips.

I tell ya, I felt like a life-hack ninja pulling these tricks out of my sleeve. And I already had everything on this list. Check it out and see if you can pull these off, too!

{ONE} Witch Hazel for Eye Relief

Let’s be clear, I’m not saying to put witch hazel IN your eyes. This trick uses a cotton pad doused with witch hazel and then applied UNDER your eyes to reduce those bummin’ bags.

I’ve been looking for a magical potion (that won’t break the bank) that actually works. So when I saw an article about the many uses for witch hazel, and it listed “de-puff eyes,” I was pumped.

I always keep some on hand to reduce the inflammation and swelling of mosquito bites. And that’s basically the situation under my eyes. They’re essentially swollen. Makes sense.

I gave it a try, and it’s not only soothing, but also seems to work! As a tip, I keep the witch hazel in the fridge. The extra coolness feels good and helps reduce the puffiness even more.

{TWO} Gum to Calm Nerves

Moment of truth…sometimes I have a ridiculously hard time controlling my nerves. It’s usually when I’m in a large group of people I don’t know very well. And if I’m asked to share anything off-the-cuff, like “so…tell us about yourself”, I freak out.

I recently joined a book group (which is fairly large and full of mostly new faces). I really want to feel comfortable and totally myself when I’m there, so I found this trick. Chew gum.

Here’s what some smart people said…

When we’re nervous or stressed, our caveman “fight or flight” mechanism gets triggered. When we eat or chew, it tricks our brain into feeling relaxed. We can’t possibly be in danger, because we wouldn’t be eating if we were. So chewing gum tricks our brain into thinking we’re safely eating a meal, and it starts producing chemicals that neutralize stress responses.

Fascinating. Now I just need to learn to talk properly with gum in my mouth – at least until I’m conditioned to feel more comfortable. #imaworkinprogress

{THREE} Straws to Keep Necklaces Untangled

One of my greatest victories this week was finally untangling my favorite necklace! It’s the small things. (But really, it felt big.) I’ve been carrying my tangled mess in my wallet since the day it all happened. Long story. All you need to know is I’ve been working on this thing for WEEKS.

Every now and then I’ll pull it out and work on it some more. I even tried the baby powder/cornstarch trick that was supposed to heal all jewelry knots. Apparently this particular case just required truckloads of patience and a pair of tweezers with pointy tips.

Once I pulled the last knot through the chain, I hollered with joy, clasped that beautiful thing around my neck, and promptly looked up tips to keep it untangled when in storage. Which is what leads us to the straw hack!

Just thread the hook down through the straw – using gravity as your friend. Then clasp the necklace and store. Or travel. This would be a smart trick for packing.

{FOUR} Olive Oil to Stop Crying Over Onions

I’ve been in a home-cooked meal phase lately, which has been great for our family’s diet and budget. Yay! It also means I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen doing things like chopping onions. Boo!

I love prepping food…except the dreaded onions. They smell and make me cry.

I’ve heard of all kinds of hacks, like freezing the onions, turning on your vent hood, wearing goggles (really?!), and even just slicing them in a different direction (julienne).

This might be the winner (not kidding) for the easiest way to hold back the onion tears: dip your knife in olive oil before cutting. It actually worked for me, so you’ll have to tell me how your experiment works if you give this a go!

{FIVE} Chap Stick to Heal Paper Cuts

Darn paper cuts. How is it that such a small thing can feel so big?! This week I’ve been pulling receipts and prepping for our taxes, and yep, you guessed it…got a paper cut.

Of course I googled remedies, like I do for everything else in my life, and found that chap stick helps soothe paper cuts!

You don’t need the fancy stuff. (I just happened to have a stick of Coconut & Pear Lip Balm on my desk.) As a tip, I probably wouldn’t go with anything that has peppermint oil in it – like the original Burt’s Bees lip balm. That might make matters worse.

That’s a wrap!

What’s your favorite household item hack (that’s not on this list)?! I’d love to know.

In the meantime, here’s to an awesome weekend. My twin girls are having their 11th birthday party tomorrow, so wish us luck. I’ll be back next week with some pics and deets of our “mermaid, unicorn, fairy, rainbow, pizza party.” Can you even believe I found these shirts?! I was dying.

Only Thug Life would have these awesome tees. For reals.





Friday Wrap: A Few Good Finds

Hello, dear friends! Friday happened again. So that’s a good start to the weekend. I’ve been a busy little shopper, researcher and reader this week. Here are five of my favorite finds of the week:

{ONE} Party Goods

My twin girls are turning 11 years old!! We’re having a small party next weekend, so I’m in search-and-stock mode at the moment.

I found some adorable paper straws and cups at Walmart! I’ve never seen anything like this in their aisles, so I was pleasantly surprised to spot these finds.

The brand is Gartner Studios, which you can also find online. They must have designed a few product just for Walmart? Regardless, it’s all super cute stuff. Here’s a better look…

This shows the full kit, which comes with paper flowers and even some adhesive tabs so you can attach them right where you want.

We decided to sample one. You know, for research. Cheers! 😉

These snack cups are the perfect size for a large scoop of ice cream – maybe even served over a brownie. Mmm. I like where this is headed.

Look how cute these patterns and colors are?!

Oh, so I forgot to mention, the theme for the party is still yet to be determined. Just because A&C are identical twins doesn’t mean they always agree on everything. Sigh.

So far, we’re down to a unicorn-mermaid-fairy party. At least they’re somewhat related. You know, mythical creatures. You’ll have to check back next week to see where we landed.

{TWO} Teddy Bear Toast

You may remember how much my girls adore bears? In fact, last year’s party was a full on bearthday celebration. Maybe that’s what nudged me to make this sweet snack for them?

I can’t take total credit for this. I found the idea on Pinterest (where pretty much all great ideas are born.)

All it took was a piece of toast, nut butter, sliced bananas (using the tip of the banana for the nose) and three blueberries. It’s super easy – and everything actually tastes good together.

P.S. The plate is from my Pioneer Woman dinnerware set that B bought me for Christmas last year. Still loving them to pieces.

{THREE} Local Honey

If we’re friends on Facebook, you may have seen this post about endangered bees. Yes, you read that right. Endangered bees – like the bumble kind that we need to pollinate our crops, which provide our food. There’s a species up in MN that’s considered nearly extinct. Sad face.

While the news is tragic, we can think of it this way: at least some of our bees are finally being protected. Also, there are things we can do to help the bee population near us.

First and foremost, we can buy local honey! I found this yummy treat at a local market.

Keeping beekeepers in business helps the overall population of bees. Plus, fresh, local honey just tastes better. Some people even say it helps with allergies.

Other things you can do? Grow a garden to invite bees to pollinate and populate, and limit the pesticides.

{FOUR} Tinted Lip Oil

I could spend hours in the beauty section of Walgreens. No joke. I love checking out new products, smelling all of the shampoos, sampling nail polish on my thumbnail (I hope that’s legal), and trying to determine the right shade of color to dye my relentless grays.

Today’s outing included the discovery of tinted lip oil. Check it out…

Just as the name implies, it’s a lightly tinted oil that you brush onto your lips. It’s basically lip gloss, but once I applied it (after I bought it) I think it’s more moisturizing than a gloss. It’s also not as shiny.

I’m pretty conservative when it comes to lip color. Side story: I wore bright red lipstick to a formal event one time, and it nearly made the kids cry. They thought I was a clown.

I went with the option closest to nude, called Caramel Cloud. It really doesn’t have much color, so I almost wish I picked something a tad darker. Here were my choices…

{FIVE} This Quote >>

So…I finally caught up on reading my current issue of Real Simple, and really loved this article by Marjorie Ingall that was titled, “How I Finally Tackled All of Those Half-Done Projects.”

This gem of a quote (above) was found in the article – and came from a life coach who tried to nudge Marjorie to completion.

I thought this was a fascinating way to think about time management. She’s essentially saying we need to strip away the stuff that doesn’t contribute to our happiness and purpose. When we do this, we can have a healthy schedule – one we love and can easily manage. Life doesn’t need to be so hard.

Then there’s this fantastic last line:

“A good motto and an ironic conclusion: Perhaps being a little more chill and self-forgiving about not getting more done could actually help me get more done.”

Here’s to taking it easy on ourselves.





A Lakota Prayer

I’ve always loved this little Lakota prayer. I first saw it posted online. That was a few years ago, and I still keep it stashed in a folder on my desktop.

Every now and then, it resurfaces. I read it. I fall in love with it all over again. And it makes me want to share it.

I’ve never posted it on the blog before, so I’d love to do so now. >>

Here’s an easier way to read it, or even copy it to your own desktop if you’d like:

Teach me how to trust my heart, my mind, my intuition, my inner knowing, the senses of my body, the blessings of my spirit. Teach me to trust these things so that I may enter my sacred space and love beyond my fear, and thus walk in balance with the passing of each glorious sun.

I read that according to certain tribes, “sacred space” refers to the space between exhalation and inhalation. I also think of it as the quiet space between musical notes…the empty space between the bars of a cage…the pauses between words in a prayer…the darkness of a blink. It’s in these places of nothingness where we can find our fullness.

And in the prayer, to “walk in balance” is to have Heaven (spirituality) and Earth (physically) in harmony with each other. Isn’t that lovely?

Thanks for letting me share this with you. I hope you can find a moment today for space and balance.