Easy DIY Abstract Art Paintings: Initials

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So here’s the thing. I love art. I appreciate art and artists for their enormous talent and creativity. However, I have a hard time committing to purchasing “real” art! I admire art and am in constant awe of how artist’s minds can create paintings and sculptures and bring them to life. But for some reason I can never pull the trigger on actually buying art from artists. My husband has bought me several prints from Jenner Ament (she’s amazing!) and I love her work, but the key words here are, “my husband bought”. Truthfully (and somewhat embarrassing) most of my art around the house is from old calendars I have framed or something I have done myself. I have this mentality that I can recreate something myself. I’m a DIYer at heart and so if I see something I like, I usually find a way to create it myself.

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With this in mind, I have been loving all of the black and white abstract art I’ve been seeing lately. I figured with my modest art/painting background, I could come up with something myself (this may be a curse or a blessing. I’m not sure which!). I have wanted to switch out the floral prints in my bedroom (…another old calendar installation) and so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to dust off my paint brushes and see what I could come up with. I’ve had the supplies all summer, but I’ve been hesitant to start because if I don’t have something intentional to paint, then I could see it becoming a big ol’ mess of paint on the paper and no message behind the reasoning of the strokes. After thinking about it off and on over the summer, I finally got my inspiration! Two of the most inspirational people in my life are my two girls. Why not take their initials and paint them in a abstract way to achieve that “look” I’ve been admiring without it being so literal with a big “V” and “E” on our walls. After a few attempts and versions, I like how they turned out. It didn’t take a ton of time, wasn’t super messy, and it makes me think of my two little angels when I look at my bedroom walls. Easy peasy and something anyone regardless of artist talent (I’m by no means a painter!!!) could tackle.

School Morning Checklist Freebie

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Does anyone else struggle with your kids never listening to what they need to do each school morning to get ready? Even though it’s the same thing EVERY morning, they look at you after you get mad like a wounded puppy that is just learning the ropes. “You’re telling me that you were completely blown away that you had to brush your teeth after breakfast and I’ve never asked you to do that before? Even one minute ago? REALLY?!”. I digress 😉

 

Can you tell it’s been a trying morning at our household?! Yesterday I decided to try out a check list they can look at instead of me constantly repeating myself and getting frustrated. We have yet to fully try it since I am taking them to get laminated this morning. This way, they can check off each box over and over without me having to reprint. I put the basic steps that I think most households do to get ready in the morning: eat breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed, brush hair and make the bed (not sure if this last one is standard for most, but I make them do this starting in kindergarten and they get a break on the weekend). I also created little pictures as well as words because my kindergartener isn’t quite reading yet. Fingers crossed this helps mornings go smoother and this Mama can rest her voice and save her sanity!!! Hope it helps you guys too! Click here for the download :)

 

Happy Monday!

 

Free Printable Stickers!!

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Now that both my kiddos are in full time school now, I am trying to focus on creating new products for my Etsy site and up my branding game :) I haven’t settled in to a routine yet and my head is spinning with all the possibilities of what I can do with my time. I’ve also been knocking items off my to-do list that have been building over the summer. Here is one item I just knocked off the to-do list (feels so good!). I’ve been wanting to create a little promo sticker set to add to my printed orders as a little thank you to my customers. And if you haven’t ever checked out Moo for printables, you simply must. Their quality is amazing and their prices are awesome too. The biggest awesomeness about them is their site is super user friendly. And for a gal with not much time to fuss with things, this is a major bonus for me. I just sent these little guys off to Moo and I’m getting 104 for $25 with shipping. Not too shabby I’d say! I can’t wait to get them in the mail in a few weeks.

 

BUT…I wanted to share these with all of you as a free download!! Yippee! They come 20 per sheet with four designs and 1.5″ round. I’ve given a generous .25″ bleed so you don’t have to worry about punching them super exact. They are perfect to stick on an envelope to a friend, jam lids as a thank you, or whatever you can come up with. I hope you enjoy! Click here for the link.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Blackberry Crisp – So Good!

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I know, I know! I’ve been posting a lot of dessert recipes, particularly of the crisp variety. But I can’t help myself! Fruit and vegetables are plentiful right now and it’s the perfect excuse to rationalize my want for baking. We can’t let all this yummy food go to waste now can we?! And to my defense, I do make lots of dishes that aren’t dessert related, but the desserts photograph so much better I think :)

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We went to my mom’s last weekend and she has fruit trees and berry bushes beyond what any one family can devour (her blackberries are ginormous!). So I happily help myself and squirrel home my goods. And to this, I wonder why I have to workout so much…hmmm. Let’s think here…maybe give up baking!!!! Ha! That ain’t gonna happen 😉

This is my latest baking creation that I have to say is so yummy and comforting for this time of year. Still the essence of summery berries, but also the comfort of a fall crisp topping. I adapted this from one of Ina Garten’s recipes. Her crisp topping is the all time best, so it’s hard to stray from something so perfect and foolproof. The filling is what I came up with. Crisps and pies usually call for flour as a thickener, but I almost always use corn starch these days. It thickens better and doesn’t leave a floury taste to the dessert. Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients

9 cups rinsed blackberries
Grated orange zest of one orange
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 + a scant cup granulated sugar (depends on how sour your berries are)
4 tablespoons corn starch

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the fruit in a large bowl and add the zest, juice, sugar, and corn starch. Pour into a 9 by 12 inch baking dish.

For the topping:
Combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 1 minute, until the mixture is in large crumbles. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit, covering the fruit completely.
Place the baking dish on a sheet pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the top is brown and the fruit is bubbly. Serve warm.

Apple Crumble – Gluten Free but sooo Yum!

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It seems these days I have a LOT of friends that have diet restrictions. All for various reasons and all different restrictions. It used to be that I was the one that was difficult to have over for dinner being a vegetarian. Now I’m pretty easy by comparison! Last night we had over one of my long time dear friends and her family for dinner. She is gluten, dairy and soy free (gulp!). We ended up dividing the meal between the two of us to make it easier on both, but I said I would make a dessert. More or less because my mom just gave me a box full of apples that are perfect for baking and I needed to start making a dent in them!

A crumble is pretty easy to get around the no dairy – just use coconut oil for the butter. The flour in theory is pretty easy because it doesn’t call for much and there is gluten free flour, which I thought I had but I didn’t. I love a good food challenge so I set forth on creating a gluten and dairy free apple crumble. I used my base recipe from Skinny Taste (love her!) and went from there. After making a few additions and substitutions, it looked amazing, but did it taste as good? After the meal was chowed, and the table cleared, we dished up the crumble with some dairy free coconut vanilla ice cream and OMG! It was super YUM! So I am sharing it here with you…and let’s be honest. If it turned out terrible, I would be silent as a mouse 😉 This is all that was left after we dished up and by the end of the night there were just a few small bites…and by morning there was none :)

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Ingredients

For filling:

  • 4 cups peeled, sliced cooking apples such as Granny Smith
  • 2 cups peeled, sliced slightly sweeter apple – I used Pink Lady
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp. corn starch
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

For topping:

  • 1 ½ cup quick-cooking oats
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 2 Tbsp. almond meal
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 6 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. xanthum gum

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Lightly spray 9” x 12” baking dish with oil.
  3. For filling: In a large bowl, combine apples, honey, lemon juice, corn starch, cinnamon. Pour the mixture into prepared baking dish.
  4. For topping: In a separate bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, pecans, almond meal, salt, xanthum gum and coconut oil. Sprinkle topping evenly over filling. Bake until browned and bubbling, 50-55 minutes.
  5. Serve warm.
    Serves 8.

Apple Watch Review From a Non-Tech Person

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I’ve been living with my Apple Watch since Christmas and so I feel I can now give an honest review. For the record, this is by no means solicited…just me on my own account. And can I start off by apologizing for my veiny hands and oddly tanned arms…we’ve spent a lot of time outside this summer. I actually edited the picture to make my arm look LESS orange :(

For a little back story, I wasn’t in the market for one, but my husband is a tech lover to the Nth degree and so several months after they came out, I ended up with one too. I’m not a huge tech person, but will try to stay at least somewhat up to date. But let’s just say I rely heavily on my husband to do all that for me :) I am a huge watch person however, so it wasn’t a struggle to get me to wear a watch, but I was really happy with my not too expensive wide banded gold watch. Looks and function-wise. I turned to look at my wrist and voila! There was the time!

When I got my Apple Watch, I tried wearing it a few times, but it comes with a white sports band and that was just not  “me”. I like my watch to double as a jewelry piece as well as be functional. I thought the Apple gold bands were crazy expensive, but I guess on Amazon, there are tons of compatible bands for far less cost. The one in the picture I think was around $18. Because of the white band, I was hardly wearing it at all until my husband gave the suggestion to buy a band from Amazon. That was a game changer for me having the gold band. For the last few months I have been wearing it pretty much every day. That said, there are some pros and cons for me. Keep in mind, I am not a tech lover and still prefer to write my grocery list on an old fashioned notepad.

So here’s my breakdown list of PROS and CONS:

PROS:
  • With a band that fits your style, it’s a good looking watch
  • Tracks your steps, activity level and bugs you with a little buzz on your wrist to stand if you have sat too long
  • You can quickly glance at a text when you receive one
  • Tracks your walking and/or running
  • I can see when I’ve received an Etsy message
  • Shows weather…and a whole lot of other features. Let’s be honest – I don’t use it to it’s full potential
CONS:
  • Incoming buzz updates on your wrist can almost cause an accident if you are driving in traffic
  • Clock doesn’t always light up when you turn your wrist to look – big annoyance on my part! I like a watch to work when I need it too. And my hands are usually full so I can’t tap the screen with my other hand.
  • You have to charge it nightly so you can’t use it for the sleep monitoring function
  • I can’t use it to play soccer or when I exercise with a kettle bell so the fitness function is a moot point when I do these
  • I also have a fitbit and the steps calculated are more than on my fitbit. Sounds good, but which one is accurate???? I tend to lean towards on the lesser side to be safe.
  • I’m always worried I will scratch or crack the screen
  • Replying back to text messages isn’t practical when driving. Your phone is much easier when you have a moment.

So there is my unbiased review! I hope my husband isn’t disappointed with all my cons, but for someone like him, he loves it. He optimizes his to it’s full potential and is a tech guy through and through. I’m on the fence about it and if you are someone like me, but aren’t sure about getting one. I’d wait until the next generation comes out.

 

Triple Berry Ice Cream

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My seven year old has been in the kitchen lately and she is doing a fantastic job. I’m not sure if she has a knack for picking recipes or if it’s her cookbook The Silver Spoon for Children, but so far she has made some really yummy dishes. The recipes are super simple, yet with sophisticated ingredients that are familiar and liked by most people. Particularly children! And the illustrations are fun to look at too! I highly recommend this for your kiddos.

This triple berry ice cream is…how do I say this?…A.MAZING!  I can usually skip ice cream to save a few valued calories, but this is worth it. So worth it. Here’s the recipe in case you don’t go out to get the book. But really, the cookbook is worth it even if you are not a kid.

 

Triple Berry Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 3.5 Cups of frozen berries such as blackberries, raspberry’s, redcurrants or blackcurrants (I used Trader Joes mixed berries)
  • Half a Lemon
  • 1 Cup Super Fine Sugar

Directions

This recipe makes enough for 6-8 people.
1. Pour the cream into a big bowl and using a hand whisk or electric whisk, whisk until it holds in soft peaks-when you lift the whisk out it should look like snowy mountains (if you whisk the cream to long it becomes firm & stiff).
2. Put the frozen berries into the food processor. Squeeze the lemon juice over the fruit, add the sugar and whiz until mashed up.
3. Spoon the mashed berries into the whipped cream and carefully fold everything together. Spoon into a freeze proof container (I used a bread load pan)), cover and freeze for 3 hours or until frozen.

 

Free Printable Lunch Notes!

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I can’t believe I am talking about back to school already! We still have some serious summering to do, but back to school is nearing and I need to start thinking school supplies, clothes, backpacks, etc.

Last year I put a lunch note in my girls’ lunches nearly every day. There were some days I missed and I have to confess, the majority of them were more clustered at the end of the year. Partly because they were getting tired of the same old rotation of notes, and partly because I was burnt out on making lunches!!! Most days I wondered if they even cared I put a note in their lunch and if it had any impact. But when I would forget, I would hear about it when they got home. So if it helps them feel a little love to get them through the day, I’m willing to go the extra step. After all, the days when want a note from mom in their lunch and aren’t embarrassed by me are numbered. So I will take this time while I have it.

My littlest is starting Kindergarten this year (when did that happen?!) and so I want to make her first big year just as special as her big sister’s. To help myself not slacking on adding notes to their lunches, I created another lunch note set and I plan on printing a TON before school starts so I’ll always have a supply. Click here for the free printable download and check out my Frella Design Etsy shop for some more lunch note sets.

Wedding Outfit Inspiration

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We had a wedding this last weekend, as I am sure most people are on the wedding circuit during these summer months. We don’t have as many the last few years since most of our friends are married and even finished having all of their kids. So a wedding here or there is kind of fun and not a burden :)

I have to say, I had some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time getting dressed up. It’s a rare occasion for me these days, with fewer weddings to go to, being a stay at home mom, and just plain ol’ busy with the kids. The week before I did a last minute shopping spree on Amazon (Amen to Prime!) for a fun skirt. I was surprised that there were so many cute tea length full skirts for a steal! There was still the question of quality, but I could always return them. So I took a gamble and ordered a green one and the yellow one you see in the picture. I’m returning a few others I tried, but the green and yellow ones are amazing for $20!! I’m keeping both :) Then with a little inspiration from what I had in my closet, I settled on the stripe blouse from Target, black studded shoes from Aldo (years ago), and jewelry from Madewell and Loft. A pretty inexpensive outfit that was fun, easy (skirt has pockets – bonus!) and comfortable…minus the hot weather!! That part I wasn’t a fan of and could have used cool air zipping up my skirt. But we can’t have it all, right?!

And the best part about getting dressed up this weekend? My girls were away with grandma and grandpa so I actually had time to think about what I wanted to wear without little ones crowding around me in my closet and asking a million questions or needing something every 10 seconds…so maybe it wasn’t the actual outfit, but simply that I had TIME 😉

Enjoy the wedding season!

Thank Card Freebie

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I have some thank you’s to catch up on since my “birf”day was not too long ago. I didn’t have anything lying around that I haven’t used a million times already or that was a bit more sophisticated than a kids thank you note. Sooooo, after a fun day trip to Edison, WA with girlfriends, a trip to Colorado and an oh-so fun and much needed girls-night-in last night, I was finally able to sit down to create a new thank you card.

I’m a lucky lady to have such thoughtful friends in my life. I am always blown away at the care my friends put in to their gifts. Of course I always love the gifts I am given, but it is thoughtfulness that gets me every time. Truly – one hundred percent – feeling the love – how did I end up with such extraordinary ladies in my life?

And to share that love with you all, you can download this free thank you card right here. I hope everyone has friends in their lives that know just the right little something to make you feel special.  For me, it’s an awesome marble cheese board and a circle picnic blanket with a concert ticket (yippee!!). Such a difficult person to please 😉