Goodbye For Now

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Dear Readers,

I so appreciate you! During this time, I’m needing to step back and focus on my main priorities in life: my relationship with God, my husband and my son. This is a new season and I feel this is an important step in successfully wading through it with God’s grace and help. I’m not sure if/when I will be back to blogging. But I hope you will have a wonderful end of winter and enjoy your spring and the rest of 2014.

Any prayers are appreciated.

Blessings,

Nicole

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An Fun & Frugal Birthday Celebration

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In mid-February, my son turned one and we had a celebration the following weekend with some family and friends. We wanted to keep it simple because, really, he’s just one. Not to knock anyone who goes “all out” for the first few birthdays but we just don’t see the need. We definitely wanted to celebrate the event – as it’s a big deal – just in a modest way. We invited friends that in some way actually knew him and saw him semi-frequently.

An Fun & Frugal Birthday Celebration

And as a mama, and a first time one, I knew the temptation to get so wrapped up in everything that you don’t actually enjoy the event. I purposed to really be there and have fun alongside my son. I didn’t stress too much about everything, I made sure we were prepared and ready to go before families started to arrive and then we enjoyed the celebrations.

An Fun & Frugal Birthday Celebration

We decided on The Hungry Caterpillar theme because he is our little hungry caterpillar! He has no character association at this point, so I figured this would be a cute first birthday party. The colors were great for a little boy and he loves playing with a Hungry Caterpillar rattle that we received before he was born (pictured below on the table behind the cake in one of the photos).

An Fun & Frugal Birthday Celebration

I wanted to share some more about the party and different details we did, I hope it will inspire you if you’re planning a birthday party yourself.

The Chair

An Fun & Frugal Birthday Celebration

We have a highchair that straps to our regular dining chairs, which has actually worked out great for us because we could bring it to restaurants before he was able to handle their high chairs and it takes up less room in our home! I wanted to decorate it and make his seat special for that traditional smash cake session.

An Fun & Frugal Birthday Celebration

I created the bunting by cutting out triangles in blue construction paper and then cutting out the graphics I created on Canva and taping them on top. I tied it all together by ribbon and curled the ribbon with scissors. Then I put clear packing tape around the highchair and put the bunting in the front. On the sides, I pre-cut a bunch of streamers into roughly the same size and then did two greens and two yellows all the way around, scrunching them and pressing them into the tape at the top.

An Fun & Frugal Birthday Celebration

The Decor

An Fun & Frugal Birthday Celebration

Continuing with being affordable, I purchased a few items from the store to decorate with but mostly kept it simple. We purchased two streamers (green and yellow) two table coverings (one for the main table and one for the “decorate your own cupcake” table), plates, cups and forks (of which we bought too much and will be returning some – I only opened a few for that very reason) and a “Happy Birthday” banner. We had the ribbon, construction paper and tape.

An Fun & Frugal Birthday Celebration

An Fun & Frugal Birthday Celebration

I handmade the “caterpillar” themed items online and printed them out for decor. I made three signs and hole punched around and made a ribbon border with curled ribbon hanging down. Same with the bunting on his highchair.

An Fun & Frugal Birthday Celebration

The Food

We decided the cake/cupcakes and light snacks would be appropriate for the celebration. My mother-in-law kindly donated strawberries and turkey and ham wrap-ups and I made the caterpillar cake. We had iced tea and water for drinks. I think keeping it simple made all the difference – we didn’t need to serve anyone dinner but we gave enough to munch on and be happy. To make this more “real food” friendly, you can simply change some of the ingredients and do just fresh fruit for snacks. I really wanted to experiment with some alternatives to food coloring but honestly didn’t have the time or budget. In the future, I would be interested in making a cream cheese frosting instead. Although the cake was plain yellow cake, it was homemade which did save us some gross box-cake ingredients, same with the frosting.

An Fun & Frugal Birthday Celebration

The caterpillar cake idea was simple: the red head is his smash cake and the body consists of green frosted cupcakes. No cutting or serving, everyone just grabs a cupcake. We had a “decorate your own cupcake” station, which my niece liked and some of the adults also decorated their own. This was my first try at homemade frosting but it did turn out well (with the exception of the parts that made it into my hair!)

An Fun & Frugal Birthday Celebration

Next year we won’t add a face with sprinkles – that was a last minute decision and it looks like an evil cat in my opinion. So, I stuck the “1″ birthday candle in it and called it good.

An Fun & Frugal Birthday Celebration

So that was my son’s fun and frugal birthday celebration. I think the important things to keep in mind when throwing a birthday celebration is to really be there and celebrate with them, don’t be so caught up in everything that you are just trying to get through it; and stay within whatever budget you set. Even if you do want to go all-out, don’t go into debt over it. Keep it simple and you’ll be amazed how well it goes and how good you feel about it. And remember to thank your guests for coming and celebrating with you and your family!

Have you thrown a birthday celebration recently? Any tips?

Sharing at Raising ArrowsA Wise Woman Builds Her HomeWalking Redeemed and Raising Mighty Arrows.

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The Importance of a Media Kit {& Giveaway}

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Imagine being contacted by a company that asks about your services, what you are about and your rates for advertising space on your site and you have nothing to give them. You spend an hour or so typing up a nice email to send to them with some statistics, pieces of your “about me” page and search for some positive words to use as a testimony from a previous sponsor or client. Or, you could not stress and just email them your media kit!

The Importance of a Media Kit {& Giveaway}

Wait, you don’t have a media kit? 

Media kits are a great way to professionally present yourself to the online world around you. Whether you are a blogger, a Virtual Assistant or have another small business, a media kit is a wonderful summary of you, your services/site and what you can offer someone looking to partner with you, whether for guest posting, advertising or some other form of partnership.

A professional media kit is a proactive way to be ready to grow.

Even if you aren’t “big” according to your standards, it’s still good to have a professional media kit. It’s a way to set yourself apart from others and a way to get your information out there and network.

Check out my portfolio to see some of the media kits I’ve made and if you’d like to see a closer look – check out my personal media kit for Working Kansas Homemaker.

If you would like your own professional media kit, make sure to enter the giveaway below for one designed by me (a $50.00 value) or contact me at beard.nicole [at] gmail [dot] com to start a conversation about me creating your media kit to help you grow and professionally represent yourself.

This giveaway will run from 3/3/14 to 3/9/14 with the winner being announced and contacted on 3/10/14. Thank you to all who enter! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you’d like more ideas on growing your blog – I recommend picking up a copy of Growing Your Blog While Managing Your Home by Jacinda Vandenberg. It’s an excelled resource for balancing the two and also offers a lot of good ideas for growing your blog.

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Save Big on Clothes, Accessories & More

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Save Big on Clothes, Accessories & More

Caroline over at Deborah & Co, a clothing store with modesty and beauty in mind, is having a sale to clear out some items for the spring and summer season. There are some great deals and perfect spring accessories that you can pick up for a great deal.

Sale Over at Deborah & Co

This has got to be my favorite item on sale right now. The Bright Boutique Belt is on sale from $26.00 and is now just $16.90. I think this would look great around your waist on a simple outfit to jazz it up and add some spring color.

Sale Over at Deborah & Co

And plan ahead for next winter (or for those of us still getting snow!) and grab a pair of these Fleece Lined Leggings for just $18.20, down from their normal price of $28.00. These are great under skirts and pants to keep your legs warm and cozy during the winter months. The reviews are great on these for fit and comfort and from everything I’ve read, they beat out all competitors. 

Sale Over at Deborah & Co

I also love her maxi skirts and this Striped Maxi Skirt (available in other colors too) is on sale for $35.00, down from $40.00. This is perfect for the spring and skirts like these are so comfortable and easy to wear. 

Shop the sale over at Deborah & Co!

Also, check out the Discontinued-Sale Items section of my Etsy shop, CraftyBeards, for some great deals there. I have decided in my second year of the shop to focus solely on Infinity Scarves, my favorite item to make and sell. This means I’m clearing out the other items in my shop to make way for more infinity scarves.

Save Big on Clothes, Accessories & More

Crochet Facial Scrubbies are great for cleaning your face, removing make-up, applying lotions/toners, and gently exfoliating skin. These are in the section for just $5.00 and available in a few different colors!

Save Big on Clothes, Accessories & More

There are also some fun children/infant hats in the section on sale for $5.00-$7.00. This particular hat is for a baby girl 0-3 months and is $7.00. Many of the hats in this section would make great photography props for baby photos.

Save Big on Clothes, Accessories & More

There are also scarves in the section that are not infinity but a more traditional style – for just $12.00!

Shop the sale over at CraftyBeards!

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Creating an Accent Wall {February Project Post} + Painting Tips

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I am so grateful I started this “monthly project posts” because it has absolutely motivated me to get different projects done during 2014! To see the line-up for the whole year, as well as the why, check out this postFebruary’s project was “Paint Accent Wall in Living Room & Hang Family Portraits.”

Creating an Accent Wall {February Project Post} + Painting Tips

The previous owner loving and (probably) painstakingly painted a checkerboard accent wall in our living room. She even had some matching arm chairs. The wall was actually painted really well but was definitely not our style. However, it’s been almost two years since we’ve moved in and we haven’t changed it. We kind of got used to it and would only notice it when people came over and commented about it. It kind of grew on us I suppose.

Creating an Accent Wall {February Project Post} + Painting Tips

However, the time had come to repaint it more to suit our style and when my husband came home with a half gallon of dark brown (I call it Nutella-colored) paint from painting his office, I knew now was the time! Just like with the January project, we didn’t have to spend much money because we returned some gutter covers that we had bought last spring to the hardware store and gotten enough store credit to purchase an additional gallon of paint and some supplies. We did spend a little under $20 for the frames. We’d like to add some more accent items like a “B” for our last name or some wall decals in the future.

Creating an Accent Wall {February Project Post} + Painting Tips

After painting the accent wall, we had to do some touch ups. Seriously get a good paint brush because if we had, we wouldn’t have had to go through the mess of touching up the ceiling and side walls. I mistakenly thought the gallon of paint from the previous owner I found in the closet was a match to our beige walls and it was not. I found this out after touching up the side walls and praying it would match once dried. Oops. So then we had to pick up samples and tape them to the wall and try our best to match it. So if you come to my home one day, just don’t say anything because it still isn’t a perfect match.

Creating an Accent Wall {February Project Post} + Painting Tips

One day, probably next year, we’ll paint the rest of the walls a darker beige color. My husband calls the current color “apartment off-white.” We actually rented an apartment before purchasing our home and they had that nice beige color we want! ;)

Creating an Accent Wall {February Project Post} + Painting Tips

Then we got our family portraits taken. Since my son just turned one, we figured each February we’ll go and get updated family portraits. It’ll be fun to see us change over the years – hopefully for the better! We place the picture of our family in the middle and then photos of just us and then just our son around it. Our marriage is very important and I wanted to highlight that with a picture of just the two of us.

Creating an Accent Wall {February Project Post} + Painting Tips

Creating an Accent Wall {February Project Post} + Painting Tips

Some Painting Tips {From a Non-Expert!}

  • The brush matters. Buy a good one and take care of it and you won’t regret it. If we would have started our first coat of paint with a good brush, we wouldn’t have had to touch up the side wall and ceiling! With the second coat of paint, we used a good brush and saw a huge difference.
  • Take off electrical outlet covers and vent covers. Paint them separately and then wait for the wall to be completely dry before you put them back on. A day or two is good. Leave some more days before hanging anything on the wall.
  • Reserve an outfit for painting – call them your “paint clothes.”
  • Rinse out the paint roller brush. Again, that darn first coat of paint – I was picking fuzzies off the wall left and right because I took the new roller brush from the package and straight on to the wall. Rinse it out with water first and then get painting. We got it right the second time around after I reused that new roller brush (which had been rinsed out).
  • For trim work, use that good brush and put a ziplock bag in a cup for portable paint. Also, use blue tape around trim work and baseboards to avoid painting them.
  • Get enough paint on your roller and brush, but not too much. When rolling on paint, you shouldn’t have to press too hard on the wall because you’re running out of paint. You also don’t want paint gooping and dripping everywhere because you’ve got so much. Stick the roller in the paint tray and roll it around in the shallow end until it’s good and covered.
  • Don’t paint with your mouth open. I guess I open my mouth as I look up (LOL) – paint splatters with that roller! Yum.
  • Have fun with it. Home improvement can be a chore but you can also have fun with it and spend some quality time improving your home with your spouse (and kids!).

Creating an Accent Wall {February Project Post} + Painting TipsThe non-experts!

What project have you been working on lately? Do you have any painting tips to add?

Sharing at Christian Mommy BloggerSerenity NowThe Modest Mom Blog, The Road to 31, Time-Warp WifeGrowing Home, Raising Arrows, A Wise Woman Builds Her HomeWalking Redeemed and Raising Mighty Arrows.

If you enjoyed this post, you can also follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest, as well as get the weekly newsletter delivered to your inbox.
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