Monday, December 5, 2016

2016 Gift Guide ~ 5 gifts for around $20 each!

1. Cold brew pitcher~ A practical gift for any coffee lover! A cold brew pitcher, to make your very own cold brew coffee at home is available for less than $20 at Want to spend a little more? Add a package of coffee!

2. Need a hostess gift? Try one of Pottery Barn's wine bottle accessories to spruce up the bottle of wine you'll bring. The fur stole wine topper is my favorite! It's an adorable addition to a traditional hostess gift.

3. Cozy blanket For those cold nights, cuddled up on the couch with the hubs or the kids watching movies. Super soft blankets are the best!

4. Brookstone Wine Chilling Stick~ For your friend, who loves chilled wine from Bed Bath and Beyond Want to spend a little more? Add wine glass markers! This is a great hostess gift.

5. Aromatherapy Diffuser~ Do you have someone on your list who loves essential oils? They will love this diffuser. We have one in our bedroom, and you can turn the light on or off and it's very quiet. Want to spend a little more? Add some essential oils!

I would love to hear any suggestions you have for gifts under $20! 

Monday, November 28, 2016

We got a Christmas tree!

This weekend, we celebrated Thanksgiving with my in-laws. For the first time, all three boys entertained themselves- a milestone! Once we were done enjoying that holiday, we were READY to decorate for Christmas. For some reason, this year I was ready earlier than usual. I'm not sure if it was the 2016 election, or that I wanted to feel mentally prepared for Christmas shopping... but either way, we went out and found our Christmas tree. When we got home, we obviously started decorating it... 

My middle son was trimming the tree with no shirt on (he's always warm), so my father decided to join him in that... and next thing I knew, my brother was also shirtless. It was so strange.. but we all needed a laugh. It's been a rough year, culminating recently in the loss of my mom's sister. So, shirtless tree trimming for the win! I'll never forget it!

The porcelain houses shown in the photos belonged to my grandmother. She left them to me, and there were so many boxes! I was overwhelmed last year when I tried to put them up by myself. This year, my family was there to help! My dad and brother stacked several of them in the dining room and the rest are on a long table in my living room. I was so happy to have the Christmas tree in my front window- just like I've been wanting for TEN YEARS!! Finally! 

We also got our copy of OC Family Magazine, which featured our boys in "The Power of Siblings". They were excited to see themselves in print, and I loved the pictures they took! 

My boys!
We also put up our outdoor decor, and I'll have to post a picture of our newest addition- a light up llama! It makes no sense, but I love him. He has Christmas socks, and he makes me smile! Have you decorated your home yet? 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

DIY: How to Build a Corner Desk

I finally did it. I made myself a 'Command Center" to keep all of the school papers out of the kitchen, and have somewhere QUIET to work! I used a (previously) sad little corner in my small, master bedroom and made it into a very useful desk. What used to be in that corner? My dirty laundry. So I would open my eyes and see that every morning. Now, I wake up and see something I've made with my own two hands.

I still have things I want to do, like buy a beautiful new chair and decorate ABOVE the desk with shelves. I'll get there! In case you want to make something like this, I'll describe how I did it below! 

Before I stained the desktop
For the base of the desk, I used two cube organizers from Target. The basic outline of the desktop is shown below. I used 1 by 6's and just measured how long I wanted each leg of the desk to be. I laid out the pieces, cut them to size, and glued them onto plywood, which I cut into two long strips to backup the 1 by 6's. Then, I bought a 4-pack of braces and connected the plywood with those. I love how the corner looks woven! A little tip, I numbered the pieces after I cut them, so when I laid them out- it would be obvious where each one went! If you are going to try this, send me pictures of your end result- please! And good luck!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Spring Break Boredom Busters

Are your kids off school this week? Next week? It's SPRING BREAK SEASON, and most parents are trying to figure out how to entertain the kids for a whole week with no school. Our baseball teams are even on hiatus, leaving the boys without their usual activities. While it is a nice break for them, keeping them occupied is a challenge. Here are a few ideas for spring break boredom busters!

1. DIY Dinosaur Dig. I don't know about you, but I have zillions of those little plastic dinosaurs. Little J (now 7 years old) has always loved dinosaurs, so we have many of these plastic toys that aren't being use right now. And this would keep him busy for a while! Mayhem (5) would also enjoy this activity. You can make it as elaborate as you want, but the more elaborate- the more time it takes them to finish! You can also do Dinosaur Fossils, where you press the plastic dinosaurs into salt dough, and bake them. 

2. Make your own crayons. Another item that most parents have in their home is many, many random broken crayons. You can give them new life! Breaking up crayons and baking them in a silicone mold in your oven is fun! And when they cool, you can use them to make new artwork!

3. Bathtub Fishing. Use magnetic letters and a magnet on a string to fish in your bathtub! Make it more interesting for the older kids by having them spell a word! Spell their name! Or the toddler can just try to catch anything. I have not tried this yet, but it sounds so fun!

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4. Races. You can have races with ANYTHING. And my boys love to compete with each other. You can race things down the stairs with pool noodles, or planks of wood. This mom blogger made marble races with dollar store items, including a pool noodle cut in half! The marbles make me nervous, since we have a toddler in the house, but... maybe while he naps we can do this!

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5. Legos. My oldest loves to sit an build a Lego set uninterrupted, of course. If I can provide him the peace and quiet to do that, while I play with the younger two- I know I will have made his Spring Break dreams a reality! We are also looking into signing up with, so we can trade in Lego sets and get new ones when he's done!

Since we are lucky enough to live in Southern California, our weather during Spring Break is lovely! I'm sure the boys will spend quite a bit of time at the park, with unscheduled activities- and that's great! What are your plans for Spring Break?

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Top 5 Easter Gifts

This year, I have three boys for the Easter bunny to bring gifts to. One just had a birthday, and all three need ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Candy is a definitely a focus for this holiday- with Peeps, Cadbury eggs, jellybeans, etc. After we celebrate for the entire weekend, there is plenty of candy to go around! So I try not to fill the basket with only candy.

So I asked (two of) them what they are hoping the Easter bunny brings them. So here are the Top 5 Easter gifts, according to a 7 year old boy and a 5 year old boy. Once again, LEGOs top the list...

Nexo Knights: Ultimate Clay
1. LEGO NEXO Knights. Lego's newest line is the Nexo Knights. The 'cool' thing about these is that you can download an app that lets you scan the Nexo Knights' shield and you get a 'power' to use in the game. My 5 year old thinks it's the best invention ever!

2. Pley Subscription.  If your child might be interested in a new toy, each month. This could be a great way to do that for them! With subscriptions as low as $9.99/month for one toy, this is definitely worth a try!

Pillow Pets Dream Lites
3. Pillow Pets Dream Lights. These come in all types, but Amazon has good prices on them! Your kids will love them at night, when they glow on their ceiling. Just make sure that you have AAA batteries on hand...

4. Chocolate bunny. This is the highlight for us every year. Daddy loves to pick this out, and the boys love to devour it! How big is too big? We still have yet to figure this out...

Llama Llama
5. Books. I like to make sure that they are getting something NOT chocolate in their baskets, so this is a great way for them to get excited about a new book. This one is a family favorites! We also love Berentstain Bears and the Easter Story.

LEGO also carries some low cost Easter specific items, like Easter Chick. And if you have a toddler, be sure to check out... No Candy Ideas for Toddler Easter Baskets

Easter is a fun holiday to celebrate with your littles. Egg hunts, bunny pictures, dyeing Easter eggs, and a big family meal are all a part of our traditions. How does your family celebrate?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

My Biggest Organizational Challenge: LEGOS

While I have three young boys, by far my biggest 'housekeeping' challenge is our oldest son's Lego sets. He loves Legos. We are Legoland Annual Passholders. His past three birthday parties have been Lego-related. For his last birthday, we spent the night at the Legoland Hotel! You get the point. What this means for me is that I have Lego sets all over my house. Since we also have two younger boys, it is a challenge to keep all the pieces out of reach of the baby. 

I tried keeping them in his room. I tried keeping them on a shelf in the playroom. I tried keeping them in the dining room. 

No problem here, unless you wanted to... use your dining room table? or sit at the table for dinner?
The only thing that has worked so far is keeping them in the box! For some reason, he doesn't like that idea. 

An idea that I think might just work is It is kind of like Netflix or Gamefly, but with toys. You receive a toy in the mail, play with it, and return it. Then you get a new one! I think this is a wonderful process because it also reduces wasted toys, and teaches kids the value of sharing toys. 

It's also a great way to decrease the VOLUME of toys in the house. With three boys, this could be a lifesaver for me! I love that you could, say, get to build the Lego set without having to buy a new one.      Over Christmas, our oldest son received an obscene amount of new Lego sets. A few of them are still sitting here unopened. They were expensive! It's OK, if he doesn't open them soon- I'm going to put them away as an 'investment' for him. There are Star Wars Lego sets that we refused to buy him over Christmas, and he really wants. I was curious to see if those were on Pley's list of toys- and they are! So rather than buying him the Death Star on Amazon for over $500 (no, I'm not kidding), this monthly fee sounds like a real bargain!

Look how clean this room is! 
I was concerned about the cleanliness of 'sharing' Lego sets. But from what I've read on their website,  they have considered this and YES they toys are cleaned when they are returned and before they are sent out again. doesn't just have Legos. They  have a variety of toys, grouped by ages and there is something for everyone. You can actually save money on toys. For an example, K'NEX Raptor's Revenge is currently selling for over $27 on and with Pley you can build that and return it and get a new toy for $19.99/month! 

Have you tried this company? I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, January 22, 2016

GUEST POST: Cheap Ways to Make Your Kids' Room Look Styled

This guest post was submitted by Ryan Miller of, Remodeling Ideas to Increase the Value of your Home.

Dreaming of decorating the whole house? If you’d love to live with a stylized décor, there may be one thing stopping you—money. Here at Modernize, we understand how to do chic on a budget, so here are a few tips to stylize your child’s room without breaking the bank.

Say Yes To Color
When we think of childhood, we think of playing, having fun, being full of energy (sometimes too much) and being carefree. That fun part of youth can easily be incorporated into an affordable décor. You can go a long way with paint color, so choose a color that adds a fun and energetic pop, but doesn’t overwhelm the space. Try using complementary colors for a cohesive look.

If you’re not ready to paint the walls orange just yet, why not go for a neutral color and use decorative accents for that pop of color? Paint wooden or paper letters from the craft store and spell out your kids’ names. This fun, decorative DIY option will usually cost you less than $50.  You can also wrap the letters in yarn, or comic books or magazine pages for an eye-catching design.

The trick to creating a stylized look with color is to coordinate accessories, such as rugs, fabric organizer bins, and any personal trinkets.

Control the Chaos
No kid’s room will ever stay clean. It’s a rite of passage as a child to make a mess. But that doesn’t mean you have to live with it! Organize toys in a decorative toy chest, or save money by utilizing fabric and plastic bins. You can even slide these bins into a cubby system for easy access and cleanup.

If you have a closet in your child’s room, use all the space you can by hanging a shoe organizer over the door and storing shoes, toys, craft supplies and more. This reduces clutter in the room, and gives your kiddo more space to play. You can also install a simple shelving system in the closet to utilize vertical space.

Give Old Items New Purpose
Need more storage? Try repurposing what you have. A shelf can easily become a bench with storage underneath. Just give it a fresh coat of paint and a decorative cushion. Then you can store all those toys in cute fabric bins.

Look around your house (and the garage) to see what you’re not using. Don’t like that end table? Repaint it and replace the drawer knob with something fun that your child will like. Recover undesirable cushions and pillows. The sky is the limit! Thrift stores and donation centers often have hidden treasures just waiting for you to breathe new life into them.

Make the Room Interactive
It’s not true that a fun kid’s room has to cost a fortune. You can incorporate a slide into a room with a few scraps of wood, some paint. and plenty of cushions. Build a reading nook with a curtain, a lamp, and some bean bag cushions or floor poofs. Another great idea is to paint a wall with chalkboard paint. Kids already want to write on the walls, so why not let them do it? Design spaces for your child to play around the room and interact with her environment. Not only will it create a safe and exciting space, it will make your design look crazy expensive (we won’t tell anyone that it wasn’t!)

If you’re not sure where to start, just listen to your child. What colors does he/she love? What toys does she like to play with? Incorporating your kiddo’s personality into the room creates a uniqueness that money can’t buy.