DIY Christmas Tree Preservative

christmastreeThere is something to be said about real trees…they’re unbeatable if you ask me. First, there’s the search for the perfect tree. Then, the decorating. And the smell…there’s just no comparison!

Unfortunately, there’s always the vacuuming. Urgh. BUT with the help of a simple recipe I found for a DIY Tree Preservative, you can extend the life & health of your tree by several weeks! It’s pretty easy, and with 3 simple ingredients (that you probably already have in your home) you can have it ready in no time. Ultimately, it will be wayyy cheaper than buying the store-bought kind. And for me, anything that minimizes vacuuming is a must.

You’ll need:

  • 1 quart warm water
  • ½ cup light corn syrup (nutrients)
  • 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach (prevents fungal & bacterial growth)

Instructions:

  • Simply mix the 3 ingredients and top-off your tree daily! It has definitely helped our tree so far. I highly recommend it!

Also, a special thank you to anyone who has pinned my Elf on the Shelf Mod-Tutuorial! And please be sure to “like” Life So Lovely on Facebook to receive updates of new posts. =)

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Free 8×8 Shutterfly Photo Book Code…who doesn’t love FREE?

Okay, so I LOVE those few times a year when Shutterfly gives away the free 8×8 hardcover Photo Books…and now is one of those times! I just got the e-mail yesterday and I am soooo excited, you guys! The promo code is: SUMMERBOOK and it’s good until Wednesday, September 12th. You only pay shipping…so basically, it’s time to get creative! Here are some things that I currently want to do with Photo Books for McKenzie:

http://www.shutterfly.com

-Memories: I have recently resolved to make a photobook for each year of her life. I never really kept up with the baby book for her, so I think this is a great way to chronicle her infancy/toddlerhood/preschool years before I start forgetting the silly/adorable little milestones she’s had! I’ll need to catch up on Birth/1-Year,  Age 1/2, Age 2/3, and Age 3/4…oh my! I have a lot of pictures to sift through. =)

-Create a Story: I always thought it would be fun to create a little story with McKenzie, take pictures for it, and turn it into a Photo Book…wouldn’t that be such a fun little memory? You could either make it a project, write your own little story, and take pictures for it OR you could have your little kiddo(s) act out parts of a popular kid’s story and/or take pictures with friends to re-create  it for a Photo Book (think: ToyStory, Cars, Nemo, Snow White, Cinderella, etc). It’s kinda like publishing your own book!

-“A Day in the Life:” What about a Photo Book chronicling “A Day in the Life of (your kid’s name here)“?  Wouldn’t it be fun to read them their own story at bedtime?! How cool would that be? This could totally work for any age too, boy or girl. I really want to do this before it gets too cold outside to take pics!

-Give a Gift: These Photo Books are great gifts, and I want to start prepping for Christmas. And thoughtful gifts mean so much more than expensive ones…no question! I mean, no one needs to know it was free! ;)

I hope this gave you some good ideas for Photo Books so you can make fun, free one too! And please, you guys, let me know if any of you do idea #2! I really want to see one made this way, I think it’d be so fun! Remember, the coupon code expires Wednesday, September 12th…so you only have 5 days! Do any of you have other fun ideas for fun Photo Books?

As a side note: I’m working on creating another blog as a more permanent one that I plan to use: “Life So Lovely.” I’m going to re-copy all these posts to that one…I don’t really want to be restricted to blogging about kid’s fashion, because I think I have a lot more to say. Just interesting things. Parent things. Wife things. Life things. School things. You know, just general stuff. Never fear, I will always post about McKenzie and her little fashionable-self…I don’t think I can help it! Haha. I just think I’ll be able to build a longer-lasting audience if I have a less-narrow specification…ya dig? So that’s in the process. I’ll continue blogging on here until I feel ready for the big reveal of “Life So Lovely.” Stay tuned, and as always, thanks for stopping by!

Shop Smarter, Not Harder: Barbies on a Budget

McKenzie is currently on a Barbie kick. Which is completely fine…but who knew those things are so dang expensive?! It’s at least $10 for one. In order to save a little dough, I went to our local Goodwill to check out what they available. And I lucked out! Over the course of a couple weeks, I was able to find enough Barbies for great imagination play. And at only $1.99 each, they definitely didn’t break the bank. Since she’s only 4-years-old, McKenzie could care less if it’s thrifted…a new toy is a new toy!

Some of the Barbies were naked, so we went to Wal-Mart and got them some new clothes ($3.27/each)…but most of them came with an outfit. So for between $1.99-$5/each she has a new barbie clan. We even lucked out and found a Barbie car for $1.99!

Also, in order to keep them looking nice and prevent their hair from getting tangled, I always put their hair in ponytails right away. Everything pictured cost about $25 (including the new clothes), which is at least 50% off what we would’ve spent if we bought ‘em new. If you don’t have a big selection at your local thrift store, always check Craigslist and eBay! You never know what you’ll find.

Here’s another example, too: McKenzie had been asking for a guitar for weeks and I found this one at Goodwill for $1.99! And hey, you won’t feel bad if your kid(s) wrecks it, since you got such a great deal. =)

I’m not cheap…I’m thrifty!

Who likes to waste money? No one, that’s who. So whenever we visit California I always stop by the local Children’s Orchard to buy McKenzie “new” clothes. It’s a resale shop with children’s clothing and toys…and I LOVE it! Kids grow so quickly that their clothes stay in awesome shape. ((Check out the store locator on the home page to see if there’s one near you.)) I always go a little crazy and buy a ton of stuff… this visit, I got her ENTIRE winter wardrobe for around $80! Crazy, right? 6 pairs of pants, 6 shirts, 3 dresses, 1 pair of brand-new kicks. Yep. Momma did well! Here are my finds (and FYI, these are photos of the actual clothes I got her):

The brands for the jeans above are (left to right): Gap 1969, Genuine Kids, and Koala Kids. She only ever has about 2 pairs of jeans at a time. It’s all you really need.

These are all corduroy pants if you can’t tell from the picture (pink ones are actually thrifted from Goodwill). I love bright colored pants on kids…and they’re even popular on adults right now…not that I could wear her pants. Haha. Any-who, the pink ones are Genuine Kids and the other two are Cherokee. Sa-weet. That means that all 6 pairs of pants were under $30. They averaged $4.80/pair…for name-brand pants! Talk about a steal. ;)

And aren’t these dresses ridiculously cute?! The brands are (left to right): Old Navy, Gymboree, and the tags on the striped one were cut off…so if you know, leave a comment. ;) I figured that the red one will be for Christmas. The other two are just great fall/winter wardrobe staples. They could be worn with boots or shoes. =)

All the shirts I bought from Children’s Orchard were $3.99. The brands above are (left to right): Oshkosh B’Gosh, Jumping Beans, and Gymboree. The brands below are: Carter’s, Gap (obviously), and Jumping Beans. I love all the fun, bright colors!

Also, I always shop for shirts to match the shoes that she already has…like these ones from Target, which I found on clearance for $2.98. That way, I always know that her shoes will match her clothes, and I can dress her quickly without putting a lot of thought into it! Makes things super-simple.

Lastly, I found these amazingly cute Adidas shoes there…they are definitely brand new and they were only $7.99! They will match perfectly with the (3) new Adidas tracksuits that she got for her birthday from our good friend, Kim, in California!I hope this gave everyone some insight into how I shop for Kenzie…can you believe all of these clothes are used? Can’t you just see all the adorable combos of outfits we can do with these pieces? If you don’t have a Children’s Orchard near you, there are tons of private resale shops around, and I shop at Goodwill all the time! I’m very picky though (I won’t get clothes if they look too worn), and I shop for the look of the clothes, not the brand. And even check Craigslist! You can get great deals on kid’s clothes. So you see, guys, I’m not cheap…I’m thrifty. ;) Oh, and thanks for all the birthday wishes already on FB! Y’all know how to make a girl feel special.

[[All photos were taken by me in my living room! Not too shabby for my first time editing photos this way, right?!]]

There’s no place like home…

Oh man, there’s nothing quite like sleeping in your own bed. McKenzie and I had a great trip to California…but there were definitely ups and downs, and I’m pretty relieved to be home. We had a lot of fun seeing seals and dolphins on Grandpa Jeff’s boat, and she had a wonderful birthday. Boy, did she get spoiled! New Barbies, a new toy phone, dolls, some new clothes, and even a Disney princess suitcase…traveling home would’ve been impossible without it!

So a little recap of the trip is in order: Since Grandpa Jeff was working on her birthday (and had no food in his house), we went to the Cheesecake Factory in Mission Viejo, CA for lunch. The servers came and sang “Happy Birthday” to her, and she got a mini birthday sundae…she thought it was pretty cool to be the center of attention! And she loved it…so of course I did too. ;)

On her birthday evening, some local Cali friends came over. McKenzie had a blast playing with Sadie and Sophia (4 and 9-years-old, respectively). They played Barbies and had tons of fun. And I  just didn’t have time to make my famous Dirt Cake…darn it! She loves it every year and it’s so much fun for kids. I figure I’ll make it for my birthday this Saturday and we can have a combined mini-celebration together so her Daddy can watch her blow out candles too. I was so sad he wasn’t with us on her birthday this year. =(

Anyhow, while we feasted on some Domino’s Brooklyn Style Pizzas, Grandpa Jeff was the hero and ran to pick up a last-minute cake. He got the most delicious Caravel ice cream cake, and it was perfect. She got her second chorus of “Happy Birthday” for the day, and shortly after, we called it a night.birthdaycakecollagecrop

Now, Grandpa Jeff always spoils us and takes us to yummy restaurants, and this trip was no exception. We had delicious dinners every night, and we walked to watch the sun set over Dana Point Harbor. It was stunning view from up on the cliffs. I didn’t happen to snap a picture, but while we were there McKenzie was being quite a little goofball, so I was certainly able to snap a few of that…look at that attitude!nightcutiecollagecrop

Anyhow, our flights home were uneventful, and I had 3 separate people tell me that McKenzie is a “great traveler.” So I suppose that’s good for me! Haha. But seriously, it was a really long day, and it was great to come home and see Jon. We missed him oodles. And I took a looooong nap in my own bed while McKenzie showed Daddy all the new goodies from her birthday.

And her amazing Daddy had one more birthday surprise for her, too…she walked into her bedroom to find this beautiful flower arrangement. She’s been asking for “fake flowers” for months, and I think Jon did a pretty darn good job making his first flower arrangement all by himself! It’s perfect on her bookshelf…and I’m so glad to be home. ♥

It’s Almost Birthday Time!

It’s almost McKenzie’s birthday! I can’t believe she’ll be 4. Time is running away, and I just wish it would slow down. She’s such a sweetheart. She’s seriously the most genuinely kind little kid I know. It’s hard to believe that 4 years ago right now I was ridiculously pregnant waiting to pop. I was nearly 2 weeks overdue when she made her arrival…who knows how long she would’ve waited! But she was born on Sunday, August 24th at 7:54pm. And our lives have never been the same. ♥

SOOOO anyway, I just learned how to do collages with Photoshop (I have CS5). I used this tutorial. It’s so much easier than I thought! What a relief. I was sick of the tiny pictures. Haha. I took these photos last week Friday before our trip to Milwaukee. I love this outfit! And it was super-reasonable too, around $18 total:

  • Hoodie: Oshkosh, $9.99 (on sale at Target)
  • Undershirt: Thrifted, $1.99
  • Jeggings: $3.98 (on clearance at Target). These are a little short on her because they’re 3T, but if you cuff them at the bottom–voila! You now have Jegging-capris.
  • Shoes: Thrifted, $1.99 local Goodwill. I always throw shoes in the wash and they look brand-new!

This year for her birthday McKenzie and I are flying to visit Grandpa Jeff in Laguna Niguel, California. Sadly, Jon needs to work so he’s staying behind in WI. We’re gonna have a little shindig at Grandpa’s place with a few local friends. It should be fun. Birthdays are always fun when you’re little! Then on the weekend we always go out on his boat in the ocean and see dolphins and seals…she’s gonna have a blast. AND he has a pool and beautiful playground at his community center.

Lemme just say: McKenzie has improved SO much at swimming this summer. We have a pool here at our condos, and she’s a little fish. Last year she used those ridiculous little arm bands with a circle-floatie. They were nice and cheap, but I definitely did not feel safe having her more than an arm’s reach away. When we were at the pool one day another kid had a Puddle Jumper…they are seriously the BEST! She has so much more confidence in the water when she wears it. Now we never go to the pool without it…and it’s Coast Guard approved, which makes me feel good too. Granted, she still goes under if she jumps in, but it brings her right back up (but doesn’t like going underwater anyway). I don’t know if it’ll fit in our luggage for our trip to California, but I might just buy one there since they’re cheaper than a baggage fee! ;)

Fall is right around the corner…

Fall is without a doubt my favorite season. I love the changing leaves, the wind blowing, the crisp air, Halloween, picking pumpkins. Not too hot. Not too cold. I’m getting excited just thinking about it! And one of my favorite things about fall is the style. I love using layers, and it’s obviously great for the kiddos as well! If they get too warm, it’s so easy to just peel off a layer. Super functional.

So I did this photo session with McKenzie last year in October, planning on using it for a Christmas card…which didn’t end up happening, since we used a pic from my graduation. Oh well, I still love these pics. It was such a fun day. I got her all dressed up and we just walked around outside our condo, me snapping away…she played and I stalked her. ;) It was really my first time using the new camera (Canon 60D) and I was definitely still learning, but they turned out really nicely.

Anyhow my point is, this outfit is a great example of layering for kids. I’m not certain of the brands, but I know the whole outfit was around $27, which is definitely on the higher end for me. But hey, it was going to be our Christmas card. Granted, these aren’t clothes I’d want her to wear to school and get dirty (come on, I’ve gotta be practical), but I think it’s a perfect Fall ensemble. It’s great to use solid colors in an interesting way. Even though the vest is all off-white, the cable-knit pattern adds a great touch. And after I got the jeggings, they became her winter staple. She refused to wear jeans because the jeggings were a lot more comfy. Which was fine with me because jeggings were “in” (although, I find them less excusable on an adult). Haha. Anyhow, this outfit could even work for a boy. Vest, long sleeves, jeans, and some brown shoes. Very practical and it can be worn for almost any occasion…even pumpkin picking! I hope this gave you some great layering ideas for fall! Having outfits in mind in advance always makes getting kids dressed more quickly in a pinch.

  • Vest: $12.99 (new from Marshall’s)
  • Jeggings:  $7.99 (Target)
  • Black ballet flats: Old Navy $<$10
  • Red shirt: $1.99 thrifted from Goodwill