This {gallery} wall is talkin'!

I have been planning this gallery wall for Hayleigh's room for...ever. I have been working on the pieces for it for a couple of months now. It has been one of those projects where parts of it have been strewn all over my house...spray painted frames piled up on the kitchen cart, glue and button covered canvases making a home in my linen closet and scrap papers covering my dining room table. Well, I am glad to say it is finally finished! I am pretty happy with the final product and so is Hayleigh! Her reaction actually was, " You made this for ME?! You are the best Mommy in the whole world."  After that I wouldn't even care if the finished product looked like poop and if I had known she would say that I would have finished it weeks ago!
The whole purpose behind the project was to create more of a designated play area in Hayleigh's room so we could move some more toys upstairs to her room.

The gallery wall also brought some different colors into her very purple room and gave me a chance to display some of our favorite photos.

Here is a bit of a breakdown of all the wall entails besides pictures of Hayleigh and our family playing. I mod-podged fun paper onto wooden letters to spell out "play". I made a button monogram (which I am not thrilled with since I think it resembles and "X" rather than and "H"). On the bottom left there is a pic-niked collage that says "You are my Sunshine". I also made paper birds hung from ribbon to fill in spaces. On the right hand side of this picture are some prints from Etsy. I bought the counting peacock from this seller and the I love you ABCs from this seller.

I made some paper bunting. I also made some button art that says "love" as well as another pic-nik collage of Jeremiah 1:5.  I also had wooden hearts that were already hanging in her room that I reused.

 I just love the character in her room, especially the built in shelves and this corner! Whenever we move I think I will miss her room most of all, but in the mean time I hope she enjoys her new play corner!

Linking up at one or more of these fun parties!

Thanks so much!!

I just received a blog award from Mrs. J at Modern Wivelyhood!! Thank you so much for thinking of me and recognizing my blog!! I am honored!

As part of the award you have to tell a story. I think I can manage that! This is not an incredibly recent one; it took place about a year or two ago when Peter and I were out to dinner at Outback Steakhouse. I was reminded of this story because we were eating their food again the other night. So anyway, we had order spinach artichoke dip as an appetizer and were still waiting for it to arrive. Our server brought bread and butter for the table. We had waited a long time to be seated and so we were ravenously hungry. We dug right in to the bread. I noticed that Peter was dipping his bread in the butter (it was whipped butter) instead of spreading it. I didn't think much of it because I was too busy devouring my portion. As we were finishing the bread, they brought the appetizer. Peter got a very surprised look on his face and asks "What is THAT?" The server answered that it was spinach artichoke dip. Then Peter, still very confused, asks "Then what is THIS?" pointing to the bread and butter. I could not contain my laughter. Once he tried the REAL spinach artichoke dip he declared that it was much better than the butter, but admitted he was so blinded by hunger that he had not even noticed it was butter.
I love my husband. He has such a great sense of humor, whether intentionally or unintentionally. I still needle him about this story whenever we go out to eat and they bring bread. He is really good about laughing at himself and not taking himself too seriously which I think is a great quality to have.

The Down Hill Climb

So, I am having a bit of a Mommy-meltdown today. It's nothing too serious and I have been feeling it coming for weeks now as I watched the days cross themselves off the calender. So, no this did not take me by surprise. And yes, I am again mourning the passage of time. Today Braxton is 6 months old.

Two weeks ago Hayleigh also had her half birthday. What's the problem? Well, in my sentimental- overly emotional-worrisome-sometimes pessimistic-mind the half birthday means that the following day they are closer to one and three YEARS old, than an infant and a two year old. I almost see it as a down hill descent to their birthdays. Is this rational? No. Does it help matters? Of coarse not! But every now and then I feel these emotions creeping up inside me. I feel my fists tighten as if I am trying to grasp on to something I was never meant to control, time. I feel my eyes swell with hot tears as I must admit what I already knew to be true: my babies are growing up, and try as I might, cry as I might, I can't prevent it.

I know from experience with Hayleigh that the upcoming months and toddler years are much more fun for me than the infant months. I love to watch as babies discover new things, interact more and more and their little (or in the case of my kids BIG) personalities emerge. I know all this lies ahead for Braxton, so I am actually pretty excited. I am enthralled watching Hayleigh as she grows too. She is such a sweet, funny, enthusiastic and loving little girl. (gulp..."little girl"). Everyday she amazes me, teaches me, and warms my heart. I have no reason to believe that this will stop any time soon. I think it is just the nature of time that tends to upset me, not necessarily the immediate future. I reason that if these past months and years have gone by at such warp speed, how am I ever going to slow them down? (I am not.) Before I know it Hayleigh will be in kindergarten! (And this is clearly the end of the world since I am the first mother ever to have a child reach school age.) Could this also be partially about losing control? (Oh, probably. Okay, most definitely.)
I guess all I can do is to accept the inevitable once again and try to be purposeful with each day, each hour. I knew before they were born what my role was, in theory. I am a steward of their lives while they are here on earth and in my home. A steward by nature realizes that these things are not their own. They belong to someone else. My children belong to God. I am privileged and blessed enough to be given the gift of raising them. When I keep this perspective it takes me from a place of pity and helplessness to a place of gratitude and reliance on God.

I know this time in my life right now is precious. I will always look back on these months and years with fondness. So rather than spend any more moments dreading time doing what time is meant to do, I will make the most of the moments I do have right now. I will cherish, teach, learn, laugh, cuddle, kiss, explore, play, discipline, pray, and do all the other things mommies do. I will get it right. I will screw up horribly. Hopefully though, through it all I will point my children to their perfect Heavenly Father, who so graciously, wondrously gave me these little lives to mold. Oh! And I will plan their birthday party. It is already in the works. I mean time is ticking right?

Versatile Blogger Award

Britney from Free Things by Britney just gave me the Versatile Blogger Award!! I am very new to this whole blog world, but I am having lots of fun with it. I love the inspiration, accountability to try (and finish) new things, and also the people I have "met". I feel honored to get this award! What a fun way to get to know more people! Thanks Britney!

After accepting the Versatile Blogger Award, the blogger must

  1. Thank the person who gave the award and link back to them in your post.
  2. Share 7 things about yourself.
  3. Pass this award along to 10 recently discovered blogs.
Here are 7 fun, random and possibly quirky things about me!

1.) I thoroughly enjoy eating animal crackers, but for some reason the elephants and rabbits are my favorite.
2.) One of my favorite past times is playing on the floor with my babies.
3.) I am an addicted avid list maker. I have notebooks, word documents and possibly a whole kitchen drawer devoted to them.
4.) I am not a beach person, or really that much of a summer person for that matter. I much prefer the mountains and a crisp fall breeze.
5.) I am a huge Syracuse Basketball Fan. I have been known to skip prior commitments including school, work and social events to watch my team during March Maddness.
6.) I enjoy dressing up, but if it were up to me I would spend most of my time in sweat pants...oh wait I already do!
7.) I am a lover of Alfred Hitchcock movies and I Love Lucy. I am so glad my parents introduced me to them when I was young.

Here are ten blogs that I nominate for this award. I enjoy all of these blogs and hope you take  time to check them out!

Have a great Monday!

    Craft-Ease: Monogram from rolled book pages {Zero Dollar Project}

    I had seen this idea for a monogram on The Precious Little Things in Life. Stacy has lots of beautiful and creative ideas. I knew I wanted to make this myself! I also thought this would be a great idea for a zero dollar project!! She used a wooden letter purchased at a craft store but I actually decided to make my own cardboard letter.
    I stenciled a letter on to none other than the side of a cardboard diaper box. Then I cut it out, mumbling to myself about my crappy scissors the entire time. New scissors are definitely on the "to buy" list.

    I actually used an old high school English book which I had saved. I am sure my teacher would be devastated to hear this. I got away with only using the introduction section if that makes up for it at all. This baby had been used by many students before me, apparently one who won a sectional title. I actually am not sure I was allowed to bring this book home, now that I think of it. Oh well, by the looks of the cover I did my school a favor. Yes, that is duct tape...not my doing.

    I cut out pages, (Sorry Mr. Smagin!), and trimmed off the margins. I cut some of the pages in half for the narrower parts of the "G". Then I rolled them up and hot glued the edge to the roll. Then I hot glued the rolls onto my cardboard monogram. There are more detailed instructions on Stacy's blog, if you want to check them out because mine are lacking.

    Then I trimmed the edges of the rolls and cleaned it up a bit. I was left with this finished product.

    It isn't perfect, but it cost me nothing! I plan on using it in our living room gallery wall which I am constructing piece by piece!

    Linking up at these fun link parties!

    Now we are DC Talk-ing!

    Isn't it funny how a certain smell or sound can be so powerful as to take you back to a different place and time? I had that happen to me twice, just yesterday. The first time was when I opened our new container of wipes. We usually buy Wegman's wipes, but this time we got Target ones. Their scent instantly transported me to last summer's vacation in Ocean City, NJ. This was one of the only other times we have purchased Target wipes. Suddenly I could almost hear the waves crashing and feel the grains of sand between my toes (and just about everywhere else as well...picture stripping and  hosing down a sand-caked eighteen month old Hayleigh). I could almost feel the warmth of the sun and smiles we shared that week. I felt instantly peaceful, serene, rested...sigh.

    And then I looked down at the poopy diaper in front of me and snapped back to reality.

    The second time, Hayleigh, Braxton and I were dancing together in the living room. This is one of our favorite things to do. Hayleigh and I come up with the silliest, craziest dance moves we can while Braxton usually sits there and laughs at us. I am sure he is not the only one laughing. I often wonder what the neighbors may think as they look in the windows and see me busting my moves. As we were dancing to one of our cable music channels and old DC Talk song came on. It was "In the light" and this song first came out in 1995. As I danced there belting out the lyrics I was transported for a second time that day. This time I was back in a mini-van on a youth group trip. I was sitting next to a much younger, chubbier, brace-faced Peter. (I am not being mean. He would be the first to say it. Well, maybe Bob, John or I would beat him to it.) And I wasn't any better.

    Emily, put down the crimper and step away slowly. Oh, and while you are at it, pick up a pair of tweezers.
    Beside us on the bench seat of the fifteen passenger van are Bob Karr, Matt Brady, John McIyntire, and Dan Boehm. These guys comprised most of the groomsmen in our bridal party. Man, could they "harmonize" this song! It was a sight to behold! (And speaking of sight to behold, check out these lovelies!)


    I found myself trying to sing all the parts myself yesterday. I secretly hoped that another DC Talk song would come on next so I could try to rival Bob rapping all the lyrics too. I don't have any pictures from  that specific youth trip that I was remembering but I do have some from a more recent one in 2006. DC Talk was definitely still present for this trip as well.

    So, thanks to some cheap wipes and music on shuffle I took two mini trips back in time yesterday. And thanks, to some grainy and slightly embarrassing photos now you were able to as well!

    What Foods the Morsels be: Peach Cobbler

    As I said in my last post, we had a peck of peaches. With the humidity we have had lately I knew that these babies would quickly turn from ripe to rotten so I scoured pinterest for some yummy peach recipes. I stumbled upon this recipe for Peach Cobbler from One Hungry Mama. She claims to have created the perfect recipe for Peach Cobbler. With a claim like that I had  to try it! (In fact I may or may not be gobbling it down eating it for lunch right now.) Let me tell you something, she just may be right! I know everyone has their own tastes, but I honestly don't know how you couldn't love this dish! For me, it is pretty close to perfection. The vanilla and cinnamon flavors are delicious! There is just the right amount of sweetness. And as she claims, the topping does not get mushy and blend too much with the peach filling. I did not even feel the need to top it with ice-cream, and if you know about my love affair with ice-cream, you know that is saying something. I am sure it would be wonderful with ice-cream though. So please, do your taste buds a favor. Go get some fresh peaches and make this recipe!

    Perfected Peach Cobbler
    serves 6

    6 cups peaches, 1/1 1/2 inch slices, peeled and pitted
    1/4 cup packed brown sugar, plus another 1/8 cup
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    2 tsp corn starch
    1/2 cup flour
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    pinch salt
    1/2 cup white sugar
    8 tbsp butter (one stick), cold, and cut into bits
    1 egg
    1/4 tsp vanilla extract

    1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss peaches with 1/4 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, and corn starch. Spread in lightly buttered 9 inch pan.
    2.)Pulse remaining 1/8 cup brown sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and white sugar in food processor once or twice. Add butter and process until dough comes together. Put dough in bowl and mix in egg and vanilla by hand.
    3.)Drop spoonfuls of dough across the fruit. Do not spread it around. Bake until the dough turns golden brown, about 45 minutes.

    Note: The easiest way to peel peaches without waste is to submerge them whole into boiling water for a minute or two. Plunge them into cold water immediately after taking them out of the boiling water. Leave for 30 seconds or so, after which the skin should just peel right off.

    Raspberries, Lake views and Smoochable cheeks

    Disclaimer: This post may contain gratuitous pictures of my kids. If you think you can handle seeing lots of very pinchable, kissable cheeks then read on!

    Before Hayleigh was born Peter and I composed a list of "Parenting Vows" which we committed ourselves to. This was probably for a number of reasons. One: we did not want to take this parenting thing lightly. We knew (in theory) the weight of the responsibility we bore as stewards of this child's time on earth. Two: we knew we had basically NO idea what we were doing. We needed a game plan. Okay, the list maker in me needed a game plan.
    One of those commitments was to value our family above any other earthly thing. We recognized that while things like work, school, church commitments, extended family, friends, hobbies, etc. are all wonderful things that our nuclear family needed to be our most prized earthly "possession". This means that we try to make decisions, big and small, in such a way that reflects this priority. We think that getting involved in activities such as volunteering, socializing with adults and Peter's and my individual hobbies actually reflect our commitment to value our family. It shows our kids that while we love and adore them, the world does not revolve around them. It teaches them how to balance their time, think of others first and also gives Peter and I outlets to use our gifts, talents and interests (which keeps us sane best equipped as parents).
    That being said we LOVE to spend quality time, just the four of us! Peter used his vacation time strategically. We knew that we would not be taking a trip this year, so Peter took one day off every month so we could have an entire day devoted just to family time. There are no work distractions, no other social commitments, no school work, just the four of us investing in each other. It is beautiful. (He also took off the whole week between Christmas and New Year's which I am PUMPED about!) Some past family days have included a day at the zoo :

    and a evening at the local beach/boardwalk.


    Anyway, this past Friday was August's family day! I am a raspberry fiend. They are so expensive and I eat them by the pint so there is no way I am spending supermarket prices. I found a Living Social deal for half off picked fruit at a local U-pick farm, so we headed there in the morning. When we got there the sign read that only blueberries we available to be picked. There may have been a few was Hayleigh... I swear. Despite the news that the raspberries were out of season, I was on a raspberry finding and consuming mission. I managed to find almost two pounds hidden in those bushes! I have never worked harder for food. You should have seen me crawling around, under, through and over the bushes. Actually, you shouldn't have seen me. I must have looked fiery-eyed, desperate and insane as I shouted "Jackpot!" from inside the bushes and snatched juicy berries from Hayleigh's hand, replacing them with less than ripe ones. (What a great Mom!)Thank goodness we were the only ones there. We also snagged some blueberries,  a peck of peaches, and some sun kissed rosy cheeks, all for only $7! It was so peaceful that it almost made me want to move out to the country. I don't have any pictures from berry picking because as I mentioned earlier I was occupied.
    After naps we took the gorgeous 45 minute drive along the lake to Sodus Point, a local boating town. The weather could not have been more beautiful. Peter and I amused ourselves by ogling the multitude of mansions with the lake as their back yard, half of which are for sale. Do I see a future real estate investment in our future? (Ha!) When we got to Sodus Point we realized what both of us had forgotten: there was not a whole lot to do there if you don't boat. This served as a reminder that we are not meant to live in the country. We did find a fun playground though,where my gracefulness continued. I managed to scrap and bruise myself pretty well chasing Hayleigh, while clad in a skirt and toting a camera. Peter and Braxton got a kick out of!  We were hoping to find a nice spot to eat on the water, but all the restaurants that weren't carry out were either bars or more upscale, neither of which were kid friendly. It was disappointing but we still enjoyed a wonderful day soaking up the sun and each other's company.

    I am not really sure how I managed to not get any pictures of the gorgeous scenary. I mean other than my family of coarse! Oops.

    It is so rare to have an entire day with nothing to do except spend time together relaxing and playing, especially since Peter works 6 days a week. I have to say though, when he is home he really invests in the kids. I just love to watch them interact. Sometimes I find myself feeling like I am sitting back and watching a movie, rather than my own life. It is often hard to believe that this is all mine. Sometimes it takes a day like this, amidst all the craziness for me to recognize anew, we are truly blessed. I love family days!

    Craft-Ease : Braid and Knot Infinity Scarf {Zero Dollar Project}

     Fall. Scarves. Saving money. Getting new things. A cool accessory. : These are somethings I love. In my latest nap time project I was able to combine all of these! Fall will be upon us before we know it...yay!! I know some of you (ahem, mom) are shaking your fists at me for saying such a thing, but it is true. And what better way to welcome the idea of Fall, than with a fun new scarf?
    I was inspired by this breath-taking beauty. I will be the first to admit that mine looks virtually nothing like it, but I knew going in that it was not likely that I would produce something quite as nice. For one thing, I do not have a sewing machine so I resorted to knots, which I have to admit I kind of like the look of.
    I started with an old pair of pants which my post-baby hips will never squeeze into again. Sad, but also true.

    I started by cutting strips from the hem up. Then I ditched my crappy scissors and tore the strips. I actually like the frayed, non-uniform look of tearing much better. I cut them in groups of three for the braids. I left one strip in every group slightly longer than the other two so as to tie a knot at the end of the braid.

    My first strips were the smallest and I got larger with each braid. I did not measure the exact width, but rather went by the strips on the pants. But my general rule of thumb was for each braid the strips increased their width by 50%. So, if the first strips were 2 inches wide, then the next ones were 3 inches.  I then knotted the braids together.

    I also braided each section slightly looser so the scarf got thicker as I went. When I was done, (as in all that was left of my pants was a mangled mess of frays, pockets and a zipper), I knotted the last braid to my first one, making a circle (hence the infinity scarf). I then trimmed down the excess fabric from the knots to clean it up a bit and viola! I was left with a very simple but completely original scarf to rock this Fall! And all for ZERO dollars! Please ignore the awful pictures of me, I tried to get all of this, among numerous other things, done during nap time so I did not really prep for the pictures.

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