Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Quick & Easy Bathroom Makeover

Every summer I have a huge list of home improvement projects to do. You know, since I supposedly have more time to do them. Which never turns out to be quite true, but it sure makes me feel really wonderful when I am actually able to complete one or two of them!

This summer, the upstairs bathroom was on my list.

Using Frog shape tape, make a stunning focal point wall in a small bathroom
When we moved into our 100+ year-old home five years ago, the upstairs bathroom was the very first room I fixed. Even though just about every room needed quite a bit of help, it wasn't a difficult decision to begin with the bathroom. It was obviously something that had been added to the attic much later in the house's life, and it wasn't done particularly well. There wasn't a lot I could afford to do but paint it white to brighten up the ugly, brown walls. To see the finished product of 5 years ago, click here: Painting the bathroom white.

We replaced the toilet about four years ago, which was a nice little update. A couple of years ago, when my dad was visiting, we finally pulled out the awful white linoleum that was stained and gross and replaced it with a lovely grey/brown linoleum. My dad also put in a new vanity, replaced the baseboards (the person who had put them in before did not bother to miter or anything, plus they were the flimsiest wood you could imagine), and we got new mirrors.

I did all of this during my unblogging period, so here are a few photos of the old and new updates.

Old linoleum and toilet:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Year of Sundays

This, my friends, is basically the year anniversary of the Sunday Photo/Lara's life update posts.

One year ago, I decided that I better either do something to resuscitate my dying blog, or let it die. I decided to commit to the Sunday photo, and I'm so glad I did. Just blogging once a week reminded me how much I love to blog. It reminded me that it's something that I do for myself that truly feeds me. So I started doing it a little more. Then I started to realize that perhaps I could also make enough money blogging to allow me to quit the little part time job I had that I really didn't like.

And, guess what? I quit that job in April and it feels SO good. I will still be teaching a ton of voice lessons come fall, but I have more time to do the things that fill me up (and the things that never got done, like the dishes) because of my little blog. I'm really happy that I listened to the little voice pestering me to do more with it again. It's been a great year.

And I thought it would be fun to compare the photo from one year ago with the photo today. I took it in the same place, though the girls aren't sitting in the right order. Also, I've been really terrible about keeping them in their Sunday Best for these photos the last little while. But the point is that they've all grown and changed quite a bit this year. It's strange to see the photos together, because seeing a photo each week doesn't allow you to really notice some big changes.

This year (today):

IMG_8808 Sunda Photo web

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Beauty Box Five Review: July 2014

Beauty Box Five July 2014 Review: Beauty subscription box including Argan Oil conditioner, Revlon mascara, Body Drench lip balm, Starlooks lip liner and Anna Naturals Walnut scrub.

"Defining Moments" is the theme for the July 2014 Beauty Box Five. Celebrating the events that make you the amazing woman you are today. (Keep reading for a coupon code to try Beauty Box Five at half off at the end of this post.)

Revlon Bold Lacquer Mascara in Blackest Black (Retail $7.99): Okay. I was thrilled with this stuff. I swear, mascara is a difficult make-up item for me and I don't know why. I have recently tried lots of different brands, and it's crazy how different the results are. I basically have no eyelashes, so I need a mascara that will lengthen and volumize. And I like one that doesn't leave me with black all over my eyes at the end of the day. But I don't want it to be waterproof just so it will stay on, because I'd also like to get it off easily enough when I go to bed. (Okay, I'm starting to maybe see why I have such a difficult relationship with mascara.

ANYWAY, all of that to say that I love this new Revlon stuff! It's perfect. Stays on, no smudging, my eyelashes look long and full, and you can get it at any drugstore for a lot less money than some mascaras. Win.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer Book Club: From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

This post is part of an ongoing Summer Reading for Kids series. Click HERE to find ideas for reading activities, reading lists, and reading incentives...and keep checking back for more!

My girls did their first summer book club in the summer of 2012. Sophia was still a bit young for such an activity (though she did participate a little), and Bria and Chloe hosted a combined book club with several of their friends.

The book they chose was From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. Bria had read it before and really enjoyed it, and it was a good choice for both age groups.

I recently found Chloe's bookmark from that book club, and realized I had never blogged about it. We held the book club just a week or so after returning from The Epic Vacation, and I've never even finished blogging about that whole trip, though two years later I'm still trying!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

I Just Want to Read My Book

Sunday photo 7132014

My summer hasn't turned out to be as relaxing as I had hoped. But that's my own fault, as usual.

I'm in the throes of organizing the annual benefit recital for our local hospice. A few years ago, before I learned how to say no, I found myself in charge. And it's this Tuesday. And I still need to re-memorize my piece. At almost 40 years old, I can remember arias I learned in my twenties with no trouble, but something I memorized and performed just a couple months ago (which is why I chose this one!) is completely out of my head. The words, anyway. I can sing the right notes. Sigh.

The girls are busy too, though. Which isn't entirely a bad thing! I don't want bored kids all summer, either!

Chloe went to a girl scout camp this week. And she is still not a fan of my taking her photo. So I didn't.

Sophia went to her friend's book club--can you guess which book they read? And isn't she the most adorable thing ever?

pippi longstocking

Bria weeded the jungle that is our sideyard. And it's really not our sideyard...it's a strange alleyway that actually belongs to the city. But, they don't take care of it. Bria did this job all for a new dress that she's had her eye on. Oh how wonderful it is when they want cute clothes so bad that they are willing to weed for several hours in the heat! Also, we live in the middle of the woods.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Five Printables to Make Summer Reading Fun

This post is part of an ongoing Summer Reading for Kids series. Click HERE to find ideas for reading activities, reading lists, and reading incentives...and keep checking back for more!

I keep seeing some really great ideas for summer reading, so I wanted to share some of the best ones I found with you. I've linked up the original sources under each photo; if you want to pin something, please pin it from the original blog source. Enjoy!

Reading Bingo

Sometimes all it takes is a fun game to get kids excited about reading. I absolutely love this printable Bingo game idea. Get your child to read in all sorts of situations so she can earn a BINGO and win a special reading prize. My favorite square? Read with the TV off. It's nice to know that maybe my kids aren't the only one who read with one eye on the television.

Summer Reading Bingo from How Does She?

Book Report Form

I really enjoy writing summaries and giving star ratings to the books I read over at Goodreads. So why wouldn't my kids enjoy doing the same? I think it's fun that this little Book Report printable has the star rating and a place to say whether or not you'd recommend it to a friend. It also has a spot for drawing a picture of your favorite part of the book, which my kids love to do.

Book Report Printable from Teaching in the Sunshine

Reading Chain

We've all made countdown chains to help us get excited about big events, but what about a book reading chain? I thought this was a super fun way to keep track of how many books your child has read--instead of tearing a link off, you add one for every book they finish. You could also start with a goal of how many books they'll read in the summer and tear them off as they complete their reading. Either way--FUN!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Summer Snack Solutions for Kids

Do your kids eat you out of house and home during summer vacation?

Because mine totally do.

Do your kids eat everything in the house on long summer days? Here is one solution to both help them monitor how much they are eating on their own AND save you from running to the grocery store every two days!

I have one child in particular who would eat all day long if I would allow it. All. Day. Long. I'll let you all guess who that child is, but I had to come up with some good solutions in order to keep my grocery bill from exploding and to keep my children from eating too much.

A couple summers ago, I came up with a great snack solution, but it didn't work well last summer with our new gluten-free status. The system required snack bins and held mostly the kind of snacks that were filled with gluten. The few things that needed refrigeration were stored in the fridge in large plastic baggies.

I realized that in order for this system to keep working for us, I was going to need to move the entire arrangement to the fridge. Gluten-free snacks don't keep super well in the pantry (especially when it's hot), and besides, we don't buy a whole lot of GF convenience foods because they tend to be rather expensive.

Moving everything to the fridge was fine, but the bins I used wouldn't fit well in my fridge. Also, I had a little issue with the organization--or lack thereof--in the refrigerator.

My fridge is a little strange, it has this really large space down at the bottom that I mostly dislike. It's really great when I need to chill a trifle in there, but mostly it is just annoying. And it's even more annoying in the summer because I tend to have so much more produce due to our CSA during the summer months. So once the produce drawers are filled, it just sort of piles up in that weird space. And that's bad because then I totally forget about which produce I had.