This week was brought to you by the letter Q

I’m not sure why I picked Q to be this week’s letter. Maybe because it is all crazy and curly, and this week has been crazy enough to make my hair curl. Or maybe because the letter Q makes me giggly… and I could use some giggles today… This is one of those weekends where I had 100 things to do when the weekend started, and when it finished I had 50 things untouched… and 50 things half done. At least there was progress…

Q might be for all the Quilting I’ve been working on. I’d love to say “getting done” but much of it is in varying stages of “progress”.

This past week I shared a fun project I did with Little Moore – a maze that can be re-made in an infinite number of ways. He’s been loving it.

On 30 Minute Crafts this week, I’ve been sharing some fun projects. I whipped up a fun necklace, with lots of great color. I called it the Gumdrop Bead Necklace. I also put together a roundup of fast crafts that can be made with paperclips.

LM graduated from Preschool this week. It was a huge milestone. His very first graduation. I made a boutonniere for him. Unfortunately, one of the other moms brought balloons for her son. My little guy ended up with the second-rate graduation token. Although, he did ask to wear the boutonniere a second day… so I’m going to call that a win.

This week coming up will be fun. On Tuesday, I finally get to share with y’all THREE awesome quilts that I’ve been working on. YAY!

On Thursday, I’ll be taking my oldest to the press screening of the new Monsters U movie. I whipped up some fun shirts for us to wear. I’m sure I’ll be posting it on Instagram, and I’ll have a tutorial for you on 30 Minute Crafts the following week.

If you experience some site outages this week, that’s just me working away on the back-end over here. I’ve got some improvements planned… wish me luck!

Cross Stitched Wooden Pendants

When Young House Love posted their latest Pinterest Challenge, I knew exactly what I needed to do. I saw these awesome cross-stitch pendants last month, and was thrilled. I love unusual craft supplies… and cross stitching onto wood? Yeah… pretty unusual.

I bought two of the scalloped edged pendants (they were the only ones left in the shop at the time… I’m sure I’ll purchase more in the future), knowing I was going to stitch one up as a roommate gift for my awesome SNAP roomie, Carissa from Creative Green Living. I ordered them super close to the conference date… and since they ship from Canada, they did not get here in time.

That’s where this Pinterest Challenge comes in. The pendants have been sitting in a stack for a couple weeks… yet another “to do” project with no particular deadline. Which generally means that they’ll be waiting around for a while. So I decided to attack these… which is exactly what this Pinterest Challenge is about. Taking projects that you really want to do, and pushing you to actually do them.

The bird pendant is pretty much the same as the original pendant on the Thompson Family Blog. For the second pendant, I created the pattern myself – it is the SNAP logo. The bird will be going to my roomie – and the second will be going to someone who, while at SNAP, really helped me out. I’m hoping she likes it!

If you want to make one of these pendants, the wooden blanks are laser cut by The Workroom. Currently, she’s sold out, so you might want to try The Geek Room on Etsy.

Here are my tips:
The blanks are laser cut, which burns the wood. Burnt wood can darken the thread, so dark threads are better to use here. Also, using shorter threads will prevent the ends from darkening by getting pulled through the holes so many times.

Be careful while you stitch. The wood has much less give than fabric, and stitching through previous stitches leaves ugly bumps. Try not to snag previous stitches.

After stitching, I sealed the backs with two layers of Mod Podge. This helps secure the threads so that the necklace really lasts.

This week was brought to you by: First

It was a crazy, crazy week. So crazy that I’m writing my Saturday wrapup post… on Monday night. Yup, crazypants.

After getting back from the awesome SNAP conference last week (at which I wore my new Duck Tape Chain Necklace), whipping up some yummy brown cow cookies for a Smart & Final Taste Test, and sharing my new headshot photo,  I spent some time in the yard with the kiddo, and checking up on how our plants are growing. I also shared with you the details of the diaper party I threw the previous week (you may have seen it in my Instagram feed), and how you can re-create the diaper wreath I made. And then I worked on my son’s first birthday party.

While also working on some Crafty Hangouts. I hung out with my friend Angie at the Country Chic Cottage online, and we did live crafting on video. You can check out the recordings where I painted some glassware as well as painted a watering can for Mother’s Day with awesome Glass Paint Pens and Patio Paints from DecoArt.

You might remember the dinosaur party invitations that I created and sent out. This past week was the party. I have details I’ll share with you soon… like how to carve up a simple dino smash cake…

Well, I’m off and running… hopefully this weekend I’ll be able to share with you more progress… especially on some sewing projects with looming deadlines…

Have an awesome week!

Fixing up the Yard with the Home Depot

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Home Depot.

Over a month ago, we started working on our yard. I spent an entire day clearing out the side yard and fixing the planter bed. It was a lot of work, but worth it.

Over the last week and a half, I’ve taken on other yard projects, and enlisted my son to help. We started with a trip to the Home Depot. Then we cleared out the lawn area to prepare for a new lawn, and we planted seeds and potted plants in the planter bed. We can already see growth. Our grass is starting to come in as a carpet of seedlings.

We already have an automatic sprinkler system in place, but an automatic sprinkler system doesn’t mean an automatic yard (although I wish it did). A yard, we’ve discovered, is a living thing that needs TLC. It needs to be watered, but also cared for. It needs to be loved!

It has been fun to see the progress in the yard over these last few weeks. Seeds that Little Moore and I planted are starting to sprout. He is even more excited than I am to see them grow. Here they are two days ago, just starting to come up.

The plants are getting bigger. Soon we’ll have to thin them out, and talk about why thinning the plants is important… which may lead to a lesson on thinning our toys out as well!

Soon we’ll have zucchini, squash, pumpkin, and hopefully watermellon plants, as well as strawberry, bell pepper, and tomato plants growing in the yard. We’ll talk about why bugs are important (boys and bugs are a natural fit), and which bugs are the “good bugs”.

Throughout the summer and fall, I hope we’ll be able to harvest some of our vegetables, and enjoy them in the kitchen. Kids are always more likely to try new things if they’ve helped make them themselves – and growing veggies in the garden absolutely counts!

Before then, there will still be a lot of yard maintenance. The weeds will keep coming back.We’ll have to mow the lawn. In the next few days we need to head back to Home Depot to fix the sprinkler that has gotten another stone in it (replacing one sprinkler head after four years isn’t so bad), and look at the best way to give the roses a very late pruning (or a very early pruning, depending on how you look at it). We might check out the Garden Club Community Forum for tips there.

Maintaining the yard is a constant process, but one that is simple compared to the big tasks we’ve undertaken. Buying new tools that will last us for several seasons. Clearing out all the weeds and debris. Re-building the planter wall. Getting new plants in the ground. We’ve done a lot, and it really shows… just in time for my inlaws to arrive today!

I hope that my journey has inspired you to make some progress in your own yards – regardless of the size. Getting dirty, wet, sweaty, and sore is so worth it! And if you have any questions along the way, know that the friendly folks at The Home Depot are available to help out!

It’s home improvement time, and The Home Depot has everything you need to #DigIn for Spring. No matter what projects you want to tackle, they have great values on all you need. They’re ready to help you with renovation ideas and expert advice, too.

Get over $300 in email exclusive savings each year, sneak peeks on new products, monthly lawn & garden ideas for your region and access to The Home Depot’s gardening experts. Click here to join the world’s largest garden community today! Or go to The Home Depot Garden Club  to see some of the many benefits of membership.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Home Depot.

SNAP 2013 Conference Recap

When speaker openings were announced for SNAP, I decided I wanted to speak. I pitched the SNAP team on something I thought I would be able to speak well on. I was asked to add to my pitch a couple other topics I might be able to speak on, if there was a panel opportunity. One of the things I mentioned was Google+ hangouts.

About a month later, I got an offer to speak at SNAP, on a panel about Google+. I was excited, but nervous because I didn’t feel that I was well versed in all areas of Google Plus. My co-presenter was confident that we would do great.

We put together our presentation, practiced, and then 3 days before our presentation, she called me. Her mom needed to be hospitalized. She was her mother’s caregiver, so would have to stay home. I was on my own.

With my background in Toastmasters, I was able to pull together the presentation. I had everything ready to go the night before, and was feeling confident. 45 minutes of presentation by me on the basics of Google+. 15 minutes to introduce a panel of co-presenters that would chat via live Google+ Hangout, and then 30 minutes of Q&A with the full panel available.

I got set up, tested the speaker system, tested the wireless network. Everything was great. I started the presentation on time. Things were going great.

I finished my portion of the presentation in exactly 45 minutes. On the nose. Perfect. It was time to invite my panelists to join in… but… the network crashed. I couldn’t get them to stream online.

I answered questions on my own while Carissa, my roomate and (at that moment) Godsend tech genius, attempted troubleshooting. In the process, my phone rang with one of my panelists joining in the hangout. I answered. Soon, I was live streaming my panelists via Verizon’s data plan (can’t wait to get that phone bill). They were loud enough that the room could hear them (can you hear me now?), and added valuable information to the presentation.

(if you can see them, from left to right at the bottom are me, Amy from Mod Podge Rocks, Angie from the Country Chic Cottage, Whitney from Google, and Colleen from Mural Maker).

It was probably one of the most unconventional panel presentations in the history of conferences… but it worked. I’m so thankful that my hubby upgraded my phone to a smart phone for my birthday!

After my presentation was over, I was able to sit back and enjoy the conference. I went to many other presentations, my favorite being an SEO presentation where I felt I really learned a lot. It was right at my level, and dovetailed with my own personal philosophy on SEO.

SNAP had lots of educational opportunities, but lots of social ones as well. I loved hanging out with bloggers that I’ve gotten to know online, and now got to see in person. And in pajamas.

My favorite part was the edu-social evenings. We’d gather in one of the rooms with a drink or two, and talk blogging. We’d re-hash the session information and expand on it. I spent one evening showing the back-end of WordPress to a blogger who was getting ready to make the jump. I spent another night with a room full of bloggers talking about SEO and “content strategy”, which is really a fancy term for having an editorial calendar. I learned a ton. I had fun. I got to be me.

Not that I’m not “me” when I’m in this space. But in this space, I’m a conservative me. I don’t swear. I try to keep things clean and uncontroversial. I believe that the majority of you come here for fun projects, pretty pictures, and a little bit of me. At the conference I didn’t bring fun projects, people were taking their own pretty pictures, so all that was left was a whole lot of me. Which is fun. If you ever get to meet me in person, you’ll see that I’m really a total nerd without any geeky street cred. And I own it. And love it.

I’m still recovering from SNAP. I’m trying to snuggle with the kiddos a little more, spend some time with my husband, and catch up here on the blog. There is an unending list. But I’m so amazingly glad that I went. There is no way that in one post, or even a series of posts, I could accurately convey all that happened at SNAP… except that it was awesome. And I’d go again in a heartbeat.

I’m off to read more conference re-caps. People are linking up their thoughts over on the SNAP blog. I think I’ll add mine in…

Diaper Party with White Cloud Diapers

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of White Cloud Diapers.

I love hosting parties. Birthday parties, baby showers, bachelorette parties… I’ve had a hand in hosting just about every kind of party out there, and have loved them all. That’s why I was super excited when I was contacted to host a diaper party for Wal Mart and White Cloud Diapers with a group of local bloggers.

White Cloud Diapers thought a fun way to share their diapers with local bloggers would be to have a party… and they were right! We had a great time! I only knew a few of the bloggers before they showed up at my house, but by the end we were like old friends. Which is only natural when you’ve shared diapering stories and birthing stories while playing games and talking about the features of diapers!

I created some fun White Cloud Diaper decor… you can see the diaper wreath and diaper centerpiece I created with my Diaper Wreath Tutorial. Much faster and easier than a big, complicated diaper cake!

A party with a group of bloggers isn’t like a normal party. We end up doing a lot of tweeting and instagramming during the event, so parties with bloggers have a lot of this:

 But we made sure to have fun as well! We decided to put White Cloud Diapers to the test, and played the baby food diaper game. If you’ve never played this before, it is a MUST at your next shower! Each diaper was filled with about half a bottle of baby food, and then wrapped up and numbered. Each blogger had to guess what food was in the diapers. This game makes for some fun photos!

The diapers held up to the heaps of food… and none of my guests got dirty! Plus, if you’re going to play this game at a baby shower, White Cloud Diapers are a great choice – they are affordable for the hostess, and the extras are awesome for mom to be able to take home after the party!

We played the bottle game as well, where we each attempted to chug 4oz of water out of a baby bottle. That is a whole lot harder than it sounds!

We talked babies of course. All of us agreed that the wetness indicator on sizes newborn, 1 and 2 are great for new moms and dads still getting used to their baby’s schedule. And the extra soft quilted liner in these sizes are great for keeping messes in place.

After the party, I hung out with my active little guy. He is a size 4, and was totally at ease in his White Cloud Diapers.

And I could play with him knowing that no matter how much he crawled on me, climbed over me, and ran into me, I would stay dry as well!

Diapering can be one of the biggest expenses in a family’s weekly budget and a great performing diaper is a must-have for parents. In order to make this affordable, Wal-Mart has reintroduced their premium line of White Cloud diapers to address the needs of today’s busy parents.
White Cloud Diapers provide your baby the highest quality diaper with superior leakage protection, exceptional softness and great fit. White Cloud Diapers are available exclusively at Walmart, where you can find low prices everyday on all your family’s needs. Check them out today!
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of #WhiteCloudDiapers.

Duck Tape Chain Necklace

 I went to SNAP last week, and wanted to have some fun jewelry to wear. When I saw that Duck Tape was going to be one of the sponsors, I knew I had to make some Duck Tape jewelry! That’s when I came up with making a Duck Tape Chain necklace. This is an easy project to do, but it does take some time. I worked on mine while watching West Wing reruns (LOVE that show!), and it took me about 2 hours to make it.

If you want to make your own, here is what you need:

Roll of Duck Tape (I used “Hot Rod”)
Sharp Scissors
Rubbing Alcohol
Paper Towels

I started by cutting Duck tape into strips between 3/4″ and 1″ wide.
Fold the strip up about 1/4″ so that the sticky sides are together. Fold up again and again until you have a long strip with all the sticky on the inside. Repeat until you have a LOT of these.

 If your scissors get sticky while cutting, wipe them down with rubbing alcohol on a paper towel. To keep your scissors from getting super sticky after each cut, try cutting the tape with the tape side UP instead of the tape side down. I found that this kept the tape from rubbing against the side of the blade as much.

Then it is time to make the links. Cut more strips of Duck Tape, this time cutting each strip into 3 or 4 smaller strips. put a small strip at the end of one of the folded pieces, wrap the piece around so that both ends stick, and then secure it by wrapping the small piece of Duck Tape around.

To join your links, create 2 links. Put them on a folded strip, and then turn the folded strip into a link using the same method. Adding links 2 at a time instead of 1 at a time will make building the necklace much faster!

Keep adding links to your chain until you’ve reached the desired length… or run out of Duck tape
 (whichever comes first)!

Get Kids Involved in Gardening with Tools from the Home Depot

  This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Home Depot.

Last weekend, my son and I spent some time in the yard. I remember gardening with my mom when I was a child. We had a big yard, and I would help dig holes, or rake. Often, my job was to bring water to my mom and aunt as they worked in the sun. My favorite part was watching the plants grow.

At four years old, Little Moore hasn’t really had the chance to see a plant grow. It was time to change that. Time to get him excited about gardening. I started by taking him on a shopping trip to The Home Depot to pick out some gardening tools. We picked out big gardening tools for me, small gardening tools for him, and gloves for both of us. The gardeningtool he was most excited about was the garden sprayer, which is no surprise to me.

Unfortunately for him, we didn’t get to use the garden sprayer until the end. We had to start by putting our gloves on…

Gloves are probably my favorite tools. They keep my hands protected from all the sharp and pricklies in the yard. I’m always sore after a day of pulling weeds… but if I do it with gloves on, then my legs and back may be aching, but my hands are fine.

While weeding, I pulled out the rake regularly. Because I’d had the sprinklers on for some time before the weeding began, the rake easily pulled out a large chunk of the weeds in the yard, leaving me with much less to pull by hand.

For weeding in the rocks, the action hoe was perfect. It really gets between and under the rocks to pull out the weeds without having to bed over and pull them individually.

Between pulling the weeds from the rocks and from the lawn area, we ended up with a lot of weeds. More than we could get in the garbage!

Weeding a yard is probably one of the most tedious tasks on the planet, but we managed to make it fun. While working on the yard, we found several ladybugs to keep us company. LM was thrilled to have one crawl on his hand.

We also took some breaks to make sure that the sprinklers were working. Getting to turn on and off the water, and getting to run though the sprinklers, is a fun treat and turns yardwork into play time.

Once the lawn area was weeded, we convinced my husband to run over the lawn with the lawn mower. I would have done this, except I have no idea the last time that mower was started, and was afraid of complications. I might have preferred running to The Home Depot and picking up a new lawnmower, but hubs got some new gas, started the mower just fine, and then mowed the yard which was less lawn and more weeds!

Once we finished up with the yard, adding more fertilizer and grass seed, we were ready to work on the planter bed. This was Little Moore’s favorite spot. He loved digging in the dirt with me to put in the potted tomatoes and bell peppers, and he REALLY loved digging holes to put in seeds.

Then came the best part… watering the plants…

 Later this week I’ll be sharing with you how the garden is growing… with a couple fun surprises!

It’s home improvement time, and The Home Depot has everything you need to #DigIn for Spring. No matter what projects you want to tackle, they have great values on all you need. They’re ready to help you with renovation ideas and expert advice, too.

Get over $300 in email exclusive savings each year, sneak peeks on new products, monthly lawn & garden ideas for your region and access to The Home Depot’s gardening experts. Click here to join the world’s largest garden community today! Or go to The Home Depot Garden Club to see some of the many benefits of membership.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Home Depot.

    New Headshot Photo!

    While at SNAP, I had a new headshot photo taken! It seemed like a great idea… while I was dressed in something other than yoga pants, and had taken time to do my hair and put on a little makeup… plus with so many insanely talented bloggers around who could take a good photo.

    I was able to snag Kendra from My Insanity for 5 minutes before a meal. We took this photo in front of the show barn. It took about 5 tries to get me to smile BIG, but we captured a new photo that will soon be replacing my old photo on all my social media channels! YAY!

    I thought it was especially important because I had several bloggers tell me “You’re so much prettier in person than you are in your profile picture”. Which to me is an amazing compliment. It tells me that who I am in person is so much more than what I’m able to convey through words and photos. I was also told that I’m much more “irreverent” in person than I am online… which is probably true, and I will absolutely take as a compliment as well! HA!

    What do you think? Does this picture look a little more like me? If you’ve met me in person – does “irreverent” describe me?

    Brown Cow Cookie Recipe (and a taste test comparison!)

    This is a sponsored post.

    Do you ever go shopping for ingredients and wonder if there really is a difference between the brand name and store brand ingredients? Part of me thinks that the store brand sugar and brand name sugar are probably grown within a mile of each other, and processed at the same plant. But part of me thinks that the brand name must be better… surely I’m paying for more than a fancy logo and an ad campaign, right?

    That’s why I was super excited when I was contacted to be part of the Smart & Final taste testing project. I bought identical ingredients, and baked cookies with them. That’s right – I baked up two batches of my Brown Cow cookies. The boys in this house were very, very happy.

    I started by gathering my ingredients. On the brand name side, we have C&H Pure Cane Sugar, Challenge Butter, McCormick Vanilla, C&H Powdered Sugar, Gold Medal flower, Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, and Toll House chocolate chips. On the store-brand side we have the Smart and Final brand. I bought the same ingredients of First Street Products. Both butters are unsalted. The only notable difference is that the first street vanilla is 4oz, whereas the McCormick is 2oz.

    I wasn’t going to taste the individual ingredients, but I did taste the chocolate chips. Chocolate chips right out of the bag are one of my go-to treats. I usually have a giant bag of Toll House chips in the freezer, so that’s what I’m used to. I thought the First Street Chips had a slightly more earthy, raw-chocolate taste to them. My husband, however, thought they tasted identical.

    I then made the cookies (recipe at the bottom of the post). Two delicious batches. These cookies actually make pretty small batches, only about 30 cookies, so making two batches wasn’t an overload.

    You can see the cookies look a little different. The brand name on the left are a little lighter, and the First Street on the right had a different powdered sugar distribution pattern.

    After baking the cookies came the important part… the tasting. Hubs, Little Moore and I all tasted. Little Moore took the tasting very seriously.

    Little Moore liked the brand name best. He declared “those are the good ones”.
    It was a close call for me, but liked the brand name better as well. I thought they were slightly sweeter and softer. The First Street cookies did have a richer cocoa flavor, though.
    My husband liked the cookies made with First Street ingredients best. He said that it was the First Street cookies that tasted sweeter to him.

    But we all agreed that cookie tasting is something that we should do more often!

    If you want to make up some of these yummy Brown Cow Cookies yourself, here’s the recipe:

    Recipe from Always Expect Moore
    1/4 c butter
    1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
    1 cup flour
    1 cup sugar
    2 eggs
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/4 tsp salt
    powdered  sugar to coat cookies

    Do not preheat your oven. The dough will need to refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

    In a double boiler, or carefully in the microwave, melt together the butter and chocolate chips.
    In a mixer, vigorously mix together the melted mixture and the sugar until the mixture begins to cool.
    Add eggs and vanilla.
    Slowly incorporate flour, baking soda, and salt.
    Refrigerate dough for 3 hours or overnight.

    When you are ready to bake your cookies, preheat your oven to 300 degrees and grease your cookie sheet.
    Roll the dough into 1″ balls, and coat with powdered sugar. Place at least 3″ apart on a cookie sheet (these cookies spread out a LOT)
    Bake for 12-15 minutes until the cookies begin to set.
    Allow to cool slightly, and remove to a cookie rack to cool further.

    I like to serve my brown cow cookies with a glass of cold milk.

    I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias®  and Smart & Final #cbias #SocialFabric