Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Shabby Apple Giveaway Winner

Thanks for participating in the Shabby Apple Giveaway.  This time the lucky winner is Melissa, whose favorite dresses were Daisy or Song of the Heart.  We hope your heart sings about scoring a new dress, Melissa!!


Email us at aplacetobloom at gmail dot com so we can arrange to get you your prize!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A New Dress for Spring

The birds are singing again.  The mornings are glorious. The sunshine makes a daily appearance, often warming the whole day with its light.  When the rain comes it is warm and wonderful and the smell of wet cement is just intoxicating, isn't it?  I love springtime!  I hope it's making its way to your neck of the woods, too.

I don't know about you, but a change of seasons always makes me feel like I need a few new items in my wardrobe, something fresh to welcome the weather.  And doesn't a new dress seem just the right way to greet spring?

This morning we are excited to tell you that Shabby Apple is offering a $50 gift certificate to one lucky Bloomer! Shabby Apple is an online dress boutique that specializes in vintage and retro dresses.  Check out their lovely collection of vintage dresses; I'm particularly fond of the Animalia (pictured above).
But maybe you'd fancy something a bit more relaxed?  Casual?  Flirty?  Formal?  Visit Shabby Apple, I bet you'll find something just right.

To Enter: "Like" Shabby Apple on Facebook
And leave a comment here telling us what you'd buy if you win.

We'll announce a winner on Monday, May 13.   
Good Luck!  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Keeping Quick and Easy Dinners Healthy by Bloom Guest Meredith

Vegetable Lasagna

Weekdays can be hectic, to say the least. Even if you start the day early, it somehow always manages to hit 4 p.m. before most of us have even started thinking about dinner! And when you’re pressed for time and in no mood to spend all night in the kitchen, it can be tempting to head straight for the takeout menu.
But most of us don’t need to be spending a big chunk of change on dinner each night. And what’s more, ordering out can get unhealthy fast. Not only do restaurant portions tend to be unnecessarily huge compared to what you’d serve yourself at home, but they’re also usually loaded with much higher amounts of sugar, fat and calories.
Luckily, it’s completely possible to hit a balance between meals that are quick and easy to make but that are also nutritious. Good-for-you meals don’t need to be complicated, time-consuming or call for obscure ingredients. Need some inspiration? The following are simple tips for incorporating a little nutrition into quick and easy weeknight dinners:

Fill up on veggies
Casseroles and pasta bakes are some of the easiest weeknight dinner options out there since they usually require basic ingredients and minimal effort. They’re also a prime opportunity to sneak in some extra nutrition! Add some frozen peas and chopped carrots to a tuna noodle casserole or layer some mushrooms and zucchini into your favorite easy lasagna recipe. Odds are, picky eaters won’t notice a few extra vegetables when everything’s mixed together, and filling up on extra veggies is better for you than filling up on extra cheese, bread or meat.

Use your slow-cooker
Slow-cookers are an excellent healthy cooking tool because they eliminate the need to add excess fat. Meats cook in their own juices in a slow-cooker, so you don’t have to use a lot of butter or oil like you may on a stove-top. And if you think slow-cooker recipes are just for dinner, think again! Yes, they’re great for soups and chili, but you can also use a slow-cooker to make everything from sides like potatoes and carrots to main dishes like falafels and shredded chicken for tacos.

Substitute leaner meats
One of the best ways to make your favorite meals slightly more nutritious is to substitute leaner meats like turkey and chicken for red meats. By using ground turkey rather than beef in your favorite easy meatloaf recipe or grilled chicken breast in fajitas instead of steak, you’ll shave off fat and calories without sacrificing your go-to meals.

Choose whole grains
Whole grains are high in fiber and are chock full of nutrients that refined grains lack. They have also been linked to lowering the risks of multiple diseases, so it only makes sense to incorporate them into your cooking whenever possible. It’s easy to do so, too; use whole grain bread for grilled cheese, whole grain crust for a homemade pizza and whole ground pasta for spaghetti and meatballs (try turkey meatballs!).
The next time you need a quick, nutritious dinner, try this recipe for an easy vegetable lasagna; it’s stuffed with fresh veggies and is much lighter than your typical lasagna recipe. Plus, it only takes 30 minutes to put together, meaning it’s a great healthier choice for busy weeknights. Enjoy!

Vegetable Lasagna
  • PAM® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
  • 2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise, sliced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms (4 oz = 1-1/4 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 container (15 oz each) part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 can (24 oz each) Hunt's® Traditional Pasta Sauce
  • 8 dry no-boil flat lasagna noodles, uncooked
  • 1/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 8x8-inch baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. Spray large skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Add zucchini, onion, mushrooms and garlic; cook 5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring frequently. Set aside.
Combine ricotta cheese and parsley in small bowl; set aside.
Spread about 1/2 cup pasta sauce evenly onto bottom of prepared dish; top with 2 of the noodles. Cover with layers of 1/4 of the remaining sauce, 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture and 1/3 of the vegetables. Repeat layers 2 more times, beginning with noodles and ending with vegetables. Top with remaining 2 noodles and remaining sauce; sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Cover with aluminum foil sprayed lightly with cooking spray, sprayed-side down.
Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil; bake an additional 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

This is a guest post by Meredith K. on behalf of Hunt’s®. For simple, good-for-you weeknight recipes, visit www.hunts.com.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Weekend Gift

There aren't many things I love more than a Saturday morning that affords us the chance to eat breakfast as a family.  Most of our mornings are splintered and rushed, so the chance to be together for a morning meal just feels exceptional and luxurious.  Plus, I love breakfast food.  I've tried a lot of waffle recipes.  I find most of them to be pretty average.  Or too tedious (whipping the egg whites to frothy peaks is too tedious for me - though that recipe did yield some delicious waffles).  But I've finally found my go-to waffle recipe - simple and really, really good.

I hope this weekend allows you a slow morning at home and if it does, I hope you whip up a batch of these waffles, slather them with butter and some warm maple syrup (or yogurt and berries or strawberries and cream or boysenberry coconut syrup or the topping of your choice) and I hope you think to yourself, "This!  This is the waffle recipe I've been waiting for."


2 eggs
2 c buttermilk
2 c flour
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/3 c butter, melted

In a large bowl beat eggs.  Add buttermilk, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and melted butter and beat until smooth.  Pour batter into center of hot, lightly greased waffle iron (if you don't have one of these, I think you should ask for one for your birthday) and cook 2-3 mins or until golden brown.  (I like to leave mine in a bit longer so the outside is golden and crisp, but the inside is still soft.)  Makes 4-8 waffles, depending on the size of the iron.  We usually get 6 or 7 per batch.  Also, these waffles freeze beautifully and reheat just right in the toaster.

*recipe from Julie Jensen's Essential Mormon Cookbook

Friday, April 5, 2013

Penny and Tillie winner and DISCOUNT CODE!

Well, it isn't very often that the first commenter wins!  Kirsten, today is your day!  Head on over to Penny&Tillie, choose your goods, and email us at pennyandtillie@gmail.com so we can send them your way!!

And for the rest of you dears who were so kind and complimentary about our goodies--we'd love to offer you a little discount this weekend!  Use discount code BLOOM10 to receive 10% off your entire order today and tomorrow.  Also, we always offer free shipping over $35--code FREESHIP35.

Thanks, everyone, for your enthusiasm for our little shop!

Love and happy weekend!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Penny and Tillie Giveaway!

Good morning, friends.  We hope you had a beautiful Easter holiday!

I'm really excited to introduce you to a new online boutique called Penny&Tillie.  I'm especially excited because it's mine!  Well, half mine, actually.  My friend, Jessie, and I had baby girls within a month of each other.  They wear almost nothing but white onesies and the legwarmers we make for them. We're pretty obsessed with the legwarmers.  They are cozy, adorable, and the easiest things ever for diaper changes!  And every, every, everyone asks us about them.  One lady chased Jessie through Costco to find out where to get them!  So we thought, why not open a little shop?

We have a bunch of really cute legwarmers for girls (TONS more designs on the site)...

 some cute options for boys...

 and we've recently added some knit leggings as well.

We're so excited today to offer our first ever giveaway to Penny&Tillie!  You'll get $35 to spend in our shop, plus free shipping of course!

To enter:
1. Visit pennyandtillie.com and browse the products
2. Leave a comment here--tell us what you think--what's your favorite thing?  What would you like to see more of?
3. For additional comments, we'd love you to spread the word about the site and the giveaway.  We'll give you an additional entry for each FB mention, tweet, blog mention, instagram shout out, etc.  PLEASE LEAVE A SEPARATE COMMENT for each entry.

We'll announce a random winner on Friday morning!

Good luck!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Finding Solutions

Recently, parenting has felt a bit like the ocean - continually changing and rolling.  Every week new challenges get churned up, gently pushed into the surf and ultimately coughed up onto the shore (i.e. into my awareness.)  I pray for this - a more acute awareness of what my children need - so I am thankful for the continual revelation.  But sometimes it can be a little daunting to come up with solutions.  I think we should use each other more in coming up with parenting solutions; surely we're dealing with similar issues.  So I hope Bloom can once again be a forum for sharing insight and suggestion, especially on the tricky matters of parenthood.

For my contribution this week I thought I'd share the most recent problem we've confronted as parents, and the solution we came up with.  I'd also love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on the matter.
I hope that the comment thread might be a place for you to share the challenges you're facing in your parenting and that other readers will have wisdom to share.  This is also something we'd love to hear about via e.mail - the issues that are arising as your parenting sea changes and churns.  We could post them and solicit wisdom and advice from this fertile little community of parents.  Kind of like Ann Landers, except we all get to be Ann.  

So.  This week's dilemma at our home:

Since reading Clayton Christensen's book, "How Will You Measure Your Life" **(see footnote) Nate and I have been very mindful of helping our children develop processes and skills to solve their own problems.  Henry's morning tendencies have become a glaring instance of where we've enabled bad habits and sluggish behavior.  We realized we needed to make some changes that would foster more autonomy.  For all his many talents and abilities, Henry is not much of a hustler and he is terribly distractable.  Getting ready for school in the morning was pretty much just a steady stream of my reminders/doting and Nate's frustration.  "C'mon Henry!  It's time to be downstairs eating breakfast.  Hurry up, Henry!  Where are your shoes?  Is your backpack packed?  Comb your hair please, Henry."  Every single thing that needed to get done required a prompt from us.  And every single morning, Henry and Nate were rushing out the door in a huff, usually five minutes behind schedule.  We all felt flustered and frazzled.  And poor Henry was leaving the house feeling hen-pecked and half-hearted.

A few nights ago, Nate and I had a pow wow about it.  What can we do to help him manage himself better?  What consequence can we impose if he isn't ready to walk out the door at 7:35 that will motivate him to be more mindful the next morning?  It is really hard to impose a consequence on Henry...he is so mellow and easy going, there aren't many things that ruffle his feathers.  And he doesn't have a lot of easily-revokable privileges - he doesn't play video games, doesn't watch hardly any tv, doesn't play on the computer...and if we take away a beloved plaything, he'll just choose another, or go outside and split wood or something similarly mundane and enjoy himself immensely in the process.

But he loves to be read to.  LOVES it.  It's part of our nightly ritual that both of my kids just adore.  So we decided that if Henry couldn't self-manage in the mornings, he would have to read by himself for a half hour in the afternoon (which would cut into his free time AND remove the beloved nightly ritual of reading together).  I hate to impose that as a consequence because it feels like a punishment to me, too; I love our nightly reading as much as the children...but I have a feeling we won't be missing many nights.     I have noticed that wisely-chosen consequences are extremely effective in changing behavior.  Nate is a master at choosing consequences; I am so thankful for his insight in this aspect of parenting.  

Last night we sat down with Henry and talked about the problems with our morning shuffle.  He agreed that mornings are really stressful and rushed and that he hates being nagged all the way to the door.  We talked about being a self-manager and brainstormed ways to help him be more successful and efficient in the mornings.  I bought a little whiteboard to list the things he needs to do, always helpful to have a visual reminder.  And we talked about things he could do the night before to make the morning less hectic (lay out clothes, find his shoes, pack his lunch, etc.)  And then we told him that if he had trouble staying on task in the morning, he would have to do his reading independently in the afternoon.  But if he was ready to go on time, we would read together at bedtime.  

This morning was a success.  Henry was ready to walk out the door at 7:30...it was Nate we were waiting for :)  Henry felt good about being a self-manager and his last words to me were, "do we get to read together tonight?!"
I told him that we could and he walked out the back door with a big, "Yessssss!"

Do you have any additional advice for our mornings?  How do you help your children be more efficient self-managers?
What issues are you confronting in your parenting right now?  Let's talk about strategies & solutions!

(**I cannot recommend that book heartily enough.  Seriously.  Read it.  Nate and I both read it just before Christmas - it was so enjoyable to read and discuss.  Clayton Christensen is so incredibly insightful; you will reexamine every aspect of your life).   

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mini She

{Clara and me at our annual Valentine's Party.  
She was too fat for the Vintage '80s heart outfit of my babyhood but I squished her in anyway.}

I had a baby girl in September.  She is beautiful and calm and an absolute dream, really.  But she doesn't look a thing like me.  She came out with a thick head of dark hair.  And her face?  My husband says it is his sister's.  My dad says it is my Nana's.  Some say it is my mom's.  Some say it is my my mother-in-law's.  One day I dug up some old baby pictures at my mom's house.  "Don't you think this kind of looks like her, except with no hair?" I asked my husband.  "Sorry, honey.  Not at all."  I didn't really mind, of course.  Except for the part of me that always dreamed of a mini-me.  A little girl with a blonde bob who loved ballet class.  Shouldn't my daughter look like me and sort of be just like me?

Then one day, as I sat nursing her, oohing and ahhing over her wild curls and rosy cheeks, it hit me.  "She's not mini-me" I thought.  She isn't Anne part II, she is CLARA.  She is her own person.  She has her own look.  And she's going to have her own thoughts.  And her own interests.  And her own dreams.  Maybe she'll want to play softball instead of take ballet.  And maybe the excitement I felt singing and dancing on stage will be what she feels when she cozies up with a favorite book.

Her hair is lightening up.  And I have a suspicion she'll adopt a personality trait or two.  And certainly I pray I can teach her to be good and virtuous and hard-working and grateful and kind.  But I have to let her be her.

I can hardly wait to see who she becomes.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Perfectly Styled Stumbling Blocks

Hi friends.  It feels nice (and kind of strange) to be back in this space.  I was supposed to post something last week, but the week just didn't allow it.  And Anne and I aren't holding ourselves to any deadlines or standards this go 'round (right Anne?) - so I tried not to feel guilty about my tardiness.

One of the things Nate and I did in the year and a half of Bloom absence was buy a home.  (We also made a baby!  Hooray!  She'll join our bunch in early June...we're tickled to add another little soul to our crew).
Anyway...back to the house.  This is the home we hope to raise our children in and live for...I don't know...thirty years?  It's been an interesting feeling, settling into a space that we hope to be for the very long term.  Really comforting in some ways and a little overwhelming in others.  It's kind of intimidating to pick paint colors and rugs and couches when you hope to keep those things for many, many years.  When you're trying to buy nice instead of twice.  When you're trying to do things right the first time.  I'm embarrassed to admit that I've been on the edge of tears several times over paint colors -- I mean, really...of all the problems!  The ridiculousity did not escape me.

I've been looking for couches for over three months now.  Giving way too much contemplation to the perfect choice - the texture of the fabric, wanting something cozy, but not sloppy.  Sturdy and durable and still economical.  Sleek and nice looking and still inviting and snuggle-friendly.

I think there are two things at play:
1. I thought I was good at this kind of thing.  I thought I knew just what I liked.  I trusted my sense of style and space.  Now I'm not so sure.  My design self-esteem has taken a serious hit as I've made some real blunders over the past few months.  Nate's starting to question my judgement; that stings.  

and 2. The other night while I was brushing my teeth I realized that I am letting way too many external considerations weigh in on these decisions.  What will my stylish friends think?  Is this on trend with Pinterest boards and decor magazines?  I've totally been guilty of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.  So the other night in front of the mirror, with foamy toothpaste dripping down my chin, I looked at myself in the mirror and told myself to stop being ridiculous.  I told myself to go ahead with confidence - not worrying about what Pinterest or anyone else thinks about my design choices.  (Heavens!  I don't even have a Pinterest account - no boards, no pins, no followers.  I just slipped into the trap last week while looking for ideas for a DIY fire pit for the backyard).

I gave myself permission to paint a chalkboard wall in the kitchen and finish out the secret room and build a fire pit before styling the living room because even if those things seem absurd to anyone else...who cares.  This is our space.  It only needs to work for our life.  It only needs to reflect our style - creative and relaxed and minimal.  And goodness sakes, what I really care about is what's growing within these walls (love, creativity, confidence, capability, unity) - not what's hanging on them or what color they're painted.

Do you ever find yourself letting the perfect become the enemy of the good?  (I like that phrase; been thinking about it a lot lately in several different aspects of my life).

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hi...are you there?

So...we're back. 

We've been having breakfast together about once a month at a cozy little coffee shop in the neighborhood where we grew up.  We talk about our children, our homes, and our goals.  We discuss politics and women's issues.  Basically, we solve the world's problems over hot chocolate and bagels.  When the time comes to leave we lament how quickly the morning can pass when you're sharing the matters of your heart with someone who really understands you.

And every time we meet, we kick around the idea of coming back to this space.  We miss you dears.  We miss sharing our best recipes and our latest parties and our favorite links.  But mostly this: we miss the meaty discussions that we've hosted here.  We miss the meaningful guest posts on mothering and the thought provoking questions and comments.  And it feels like if there is anything lacking in this giant, cluttered, so-much-information-your-brain-might-burst interweb, it is real, relevant, meaningful conversation between women {who are trying to Bloom}.  We want to be a venue for that again.

We won't be here everyday.  That isn't realistic for us (and likely not for you).  We'll try to be here once a week.  And we'd love for you to participate.  Do you have a bit of writing you've been dying to share?  A recipe that is too good to be true?  A question you want to discuss as a Friday Forum? Please, email us at aplacetobloomATgmailDOTcom.

See you soon.

anne and em

Monday, August 15, 2011

We'll miss you


You might be surprised to learn that this will be our farewell post. (The picture above is us blowing you a goodbye kiss.)

Oh my darling friends,

It's difficult to know what to say when there are so many thoughts and feelings running through your mind and heart. Just as early 2009 brought about multiple conversations between Emily and me, discussing the possibility of a joint blog, 2011 ushered in a constant dialog about saying adios. We have felt it coming on, and now we just know it's time.

It is with a great, big, gasping sigh that we do it.

Partly a sigh of relief (because we have really worked hard to make this an interesting, inspiring place to visit).

And partly a sigh of sadness and tenderness. I have loved Bloom so much. I have loved the beauty of it (thanks to Emily Yates). I have loved the many guest posts. I have loved the Friday Forums, the giveaways, the photo contests, the home tours, the Christmas decor shares. I have loved the chance to write my feelings about being a mother.

Most of all, I have loved being here with you. You have supported us, shared our words with your friends, sent us tender emails of gratitude, and contributed to fascinating, important discussions. I felt a sense of community here--I have felt so connected to you, and I am really going to miss that.

Why say goodbye?

About a million reasons. Essentially--it's time. I told my husband, Taylor: "When I first became a mom, and felt so lost and out of place, blogs really helped me grow. I read blogs by women who made mothering look fun and beautiful. I started writing on my own blog and it helped me see my life through a new lens. I wanted to make that kind of my life for myself and my family. Bloom has helped me do that. But, whereas blogging used to propel me forward, it is now holding me back. There are so many things I want to do and make and feel with my children, and being tied to the cyber world doesn't make me feel free to do those things."

I feel a great need in my life to settle down, and to slow the pace of our life as much as possible. And to give my boys more quality time and attention. It looks like this: less cupcakes while the boys are neglected; more hiking and swimming as a family. less blogging while the boys run amok; more reading, painting, gardening, and baking bread together.

If you want to keep in touch, feel free to follow my personal blog, Anne with an 'e.' I will try to update it at least once a week.

I love you, dear friends. Thank you so much for being here and loving us.


Well, goodness sakes. I'm no stranger to writer's block, but tonight it feels especially thick. Part of me feels like I owe some sort of explanation for this goodbye and part of me feels like I have nothing to explain. The short of it is that my real life, the one with a pulse (4 actually) and noise and laughter and conversation and mess - it needs the part of me that I have been giving to Bloom for the past 2 years.

The other day Lily and I were deadheading flowers in the garden. "Why are we cutting the flowers off, mom?" she asked with concern stamped on her forehead. "'Cause flowers die. And the plant needs to use its energy to grow new flowers instead of trying to nurture the dead ones." She seemed satisfied with that answer and she was quiet for a few moments and then said, "So flowers just bloom and die, bloom and die?" "Yep," I answered, "that's what they do."

I see the same cycle in my own life - ideas and trends that bloom and are beautiful for a time. I learn and grow through them and love them for a season. And then they wilt and wither and whatever little energy they required seems too much.

That's how Bloom has come to feel (our blog is so aptly named for this metaphor, isn't it?!) There are new blossoms to nurture. Banjo lessons, perhaps?
And since moving to Oregon I feel like we are living the life we imagined (or making a mighty effort thereunto). There is much of hiking, and berry picking, and baking, and gathering with family and friends, and swimming and gardening and watching the sun set. And the more deeply I embed myself in the beauties of real life, the more the flashing pixels of the internets dim and dull. And the only thing I really care to do at my computer is upload the pictures and catch up on my little personal blog to preserve the indescribable goodness of this chapter of life. And lest you think otherwise, let me assure you that yes, there are hard things, too. Loved ones who are very afflicted. Personal disappointments that feel like they might swallow me up some days. Chores aplenty in a house that is never as clean as I'd like it to be and a yard that is similarly average. And these things need tending to also.

{disclaimer: i think blogging is great and helpful and awesome. i'm not throwing it under the bus or swearing it off by any means. i'm just feeling like it needs to take a different shape and place in my life.}

Bloom and die, bloom and die. A season for every purpose. Everything in its time.

Thanks for being here and listening to our thoughts and commenting on our forums and making this a safe and loving place to share our hearts (and our parties and our projects and our favorite songs).

Much love,

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Things I Want To Teach My Kids {Part II} by Bloom Guest Steph

A few months ago we introduced you to Steph of Modern Parents Messy Kids and shared the first half of a list of things she wants to teach her kids. Today we're sharing the second half of that list. Check it out and tell us what you're trying to teach your kids...

7. All Feelings Are OK
Have you heard of emotional coaching? It’s basically a parenting style that focuses on teaching children how to recognize and express their feelings. When I was a young child, I was very shy and fearful. To this day I’m not really sure why (my family was very supportive, open, and loving) but I do know that I want to do everything I can to prevent my own kids from feeling that way.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to change anyone’s personality or create super outgoing kids. It’s only been in the last 10 years or so that I’ve really come out of my own shell so if my kids turn out to be introverts, that’s fine by me. I just want to make sure they’re not missing out on life experiences due to fear.
A few months ago we introduced you to Steph of Modern Parents Messy Kids and shared the first half of a list of things she wants to teach her kids. Today we're sharing the second half of that list. Check it out and tell us what you're trying to teach your kids...

We’ve been weaving emotional coaching into our everyday life for the past year or so now and are pretty amazed by the results. Our 2 year old regularly identifies himself as being happy, sad, mad, and scared. Having this awareness seems to help him work through new and scary situations as well as tantrums. You can find out more about emotional coaching here.

8. I’m Worthy of Their Trust
From stranger danger and bullying to drugs and sex - I can think of about a million reasons I want my kids to trust me enough to talk to me. For me, building that trust now is about always doing my best to be as truthful as possible. Of course there are a lot of topics that I don’t particularly want to talk at length about with my 1 and 2 year olds. But if they ask me about something I try to answer them simply and directly (and then move on if it’s something I really don’t want to talk about yet!).

I also try really hard not to lie to them about the little things. It’s often tempting to head off an impending tantrum with a seemingly innocent lie, “We can’t get ice cream because the store’s closed”. The problem is kids catch on quick. If you get in the habit of fibbing to make things a little easier not only will the kids know, they’ll have less trust in you and what you say.

9. Mistakes are OK
This one goes back to my childhood again. As a shy kid I was always mortified when I messed up. I actually have a vivid memory of hiding under my covers as a preschooler after breaking a glass bowl I was using as a drum. When my parents found me they laughed but for some reason I was convinced I’d be in big trouble.

To teach my own kids that mistakes are OK, I make sure to let them know whenever I make one. It seems like several times a week I’ll spill something or forget something in front of them. When I do I always say something like, “Uh oh, Mommy spilled. Oh well, everybody makes mistakes”. This shows them that mistakes are just a part of life and they don’t have to be scared or embarrassed about messing up.

10. If at First You Don’t Succeed...
This goes hand in had with “mistakes are OK”. Giving your child permission to make mistakes gives them the confidence to keep trying when they’re confronted with adversity. Not everything in life is going to be easy. It’s our job as parents to let kids know that success isn’t about being perfect, it’s about continuing to try. (Side Note: For some excellent reading on this topic see the chapter “The Inverse Power of Praise” from the book Nurture Shock).

11. Saying No is OK
Last year my son’s toddler group hosted an excellent speaker on family safety, specifically protecting children from predators. Along with the usual tips about stranger danger, she also emphasized the importance of allowing children to say no. This applies to everyday situations as well as immanent danger.

She talked about teaching kids that they don’t always have to be polite. They don’t have to give hugs and kisses to anyone they don’t want to (family included) and they can always say no if an adult makes them feel uncomfortable. Her message of teaching kids to trust their gut, even at a very early age, really resonated with me.

In addition to being able to say no for safety, I also want to teach my kids not to be pleasers in general. As adults, we all know people like this. They regularly bend over backwards and over-commit themselves because they hate to disappoint. In reality we can’t do everything for everyone or even be friends with everyone. Somehow (and I’m not quite sure how) I want to show my kids that life is shaped by the people and activities you fill it with. It’s your responsibility to make sure you fill it up with positive and reciprocal relationships.

12. To Be Kind
This, of course, is the flip side of saying no. In a society where high self-esteem is regarded above all else, basic kindness can sometimes get overlooked. This one is all about walking the walk. You can tell your kids to be nice all day long but they’ll truly get the message when they see how you interact with people throughout your day together. Be courteous and friendly towards friends, neighbors, family, waiters, sales clerks, baristas, and families at the park. Smile and say “hi”, open doors for people, and let cars in your lane. Your kids will see your example as well as the positive reactions you get in return.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

6th Street Design Bedroom Makeover--the Reveal

A few months ago Bloomer Jessie won an E-Design giveaway sponsored by Kirsten Krason of 6th Street Design School.

We showed you before pictures.

We showed you Kirsten's design board.

Today we give you the results:

Check out the before and after comparisons...

Old bedding: woodsman meets pink polka dots
New bedding: pillow fabrics suggested by Kirsten plus quilt made by Jessie

Old corner wall: multiple swatches of paintNew corner wall: a nice light gray color with artwork suggested by Kirsten plus a cozy reading nook (chair from Ikea), pillow made by Jessie
Old thrift store pink buffet:

Newly painted mint green buffet:Old curtains:
New curtains: fabric suggested by Kirsten

Old (joke of a) headboard:
New headboard: an old door-turned-headboard by Jessie's husband
Pretty amazing improvement, don't you think?!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Cave = Love

Hey friends,

This morning I was feeling loafy on the treadmill. Then I pulled this song up on my iPod and ... hot dog! The adrenaline started flowin.

I love it. And the video makes me want to ask for a banjo and lessons for Christmas.

Hootnannies on the front porch!!

Enjoy Mumford & Sons - The Cave...


Monday, August 8, 2011

More from the wedding

A few of my favorite things from the wedding...

Honey jars for the favors (my brother keeps bees, so it's his local honey--love that!) Sara and I covered the lids with Amy Butler fabric and twine.
They were displayed on bee boxes--loved that touch.
My husband, Taylor, made the wedding cake. I loved the 'scraped' look of the butter cream frosting and the local raspberries--such a nice organic look.
To supplement the cake (and we still totally ran out!) I did cupcakes--mini lemons, coconut, these chocolate chocolates,
and my new and improved mint chocolate chip cupcakes (they totally got a makeover--goodbye green food coloring, hello mint leaves! plus the mini chips are a better texture we decided).

Sara and Shane are the most darling newlyweds. We were sad to send them home to Utah!


Friday, August 5, 2011

The Magic

Sorry friends, I promised pictures and more substantive thought on Thursday...but yesterday just didn't allow much, er...any time at the computer. So I'll share a few pics from our recent family reunion today and then I think it would be interesting to discuss extended family relationships and what it takes to promote unity and closeness in our families - little & immediate and large & extended.

Beachy Fun - sea shells and surfing and sand boarding - hooray!

The girls spent an afternoon in Seaside; we couldn't turn down a carousel ride

Rob & Ash after some chilly surfing Kate & Lil skippin' along the beach

Lunch at Bridgewater Bistro - so, so yummy.

That little sticker behind us said "Best Place to Kiss in the Northwest" - we had to try it out. It was a pretty good place to kiss :) (Rob & Ashley, sorry I didn't post your pic...I don't think you would have wanted me to ;)

Wednesday morning we went to see what all the hype's about at VooDoo donuts. There were certainly a lot of flavors - tang, neopolitan, fruit loop-crusted, cap'n crunch covered, memphis mafia (a fritter as big as your head that was COVERED with chocolate and all manner of icing). My review: It was an experience and the donuts were good, but I wouldn't go back. They were more fantastic to look at than they were to eat.

Now, let's chat about families. I would describe my family as extremely close and quite harmonious. Sure, we have our little squabbles and we each deal with challenges and heartaches in our individual lives, but when we get together, we get along swimmingly and we have a lot of fun. A lot! Sometimes I wonder if we're just a fortunate bunch with a lot of lucky chemistry or if our closeness is a result of choices my parents made, a culture they created, deliberate efforts we've made as siblings to grow and stay close to each other. I think maybe it's a bit of both.
We make the effort (and the pilgrimage) to be together for special occasions and events. We call each other on the phone. We celebrate each others victories and mourn each others disappointments. We try to protect each other, build each other up and encourage and counsel each other. One thing I think is super important is to let each person progress and be who they are today without holding them to what/who they were in the past. I know there are things I have made a mindful effort to change about myself and it is so painful to be reminded of those things or have them brought up as fodder in a family setting. It's something we've had to talk about as a family - protecting each other and not digging up old dirt or sharing stories that are hurtful or embarrassing.
Those are just a few things that come to mind when I start dissecting our family dynamics.
What about you and your family?

Do you enjoy time with your extended family? Is it harmonious and enjoyable?
What things does your family do to promote unity and closeness? Or what have you observed in other families?
What could your family do differently to promote those things in greater measure?
What about adding in-laws? How do you make them feel accepted and included? As an in-law yourself, how do you feel with your spouse's family? What makes you feel at ease and welcome? Is it hard to get comfortable and fit in? Why?


Have a great weekend!