Toddler and Baby Raves

No, I'm not blogging about wee ones bopping to techno, I thought to share some of the things I always rave about to other friends with kiddos.

We all know there are a million and one products out there, designed to make bringing up bebe easier, but 99% of it is non-essential. I mean, what did people do before Boppies?! The horror. So, I wanted to start off by saying I am confident our children would survive and even thrive in an environment without the highlighted items. That being said, I have run across a few products/books, etc that have been a mainstay in our home during these baby/toddler/early preschooler years and you might be interested in hearing what they are!

1. The OK to Wake Owl Right around the time we transitioned Collin to his big boy bed (at two years), he began waking at the crack of dawn and coming out of his room. This owl is amazing. You program it for the desired wake time and it turns green at the appropriate time. Every time he wakes early and tries to get out of his room, we ask him if his owl is green. He'll go check and if it's not, he's totally cool with reading books in bed until it turns green. You had better believe the minute it lights up Collin flings the door open and yells, "It's greeeeen!" like it's a miracle every time. We love the owl!

2. Rain for Roots are modern Biblical folk songs for children by Sandra McCraken. The slogan is "Making new songs, for children, about the old Story." Such good, Truth-filled music that's fun, singable and easy on mom and dad's ears too!

3. If you haven't picked up a copy of the Jesus Storybook Bible yet, do so now! Even if you don't have kids, you'll benefit from it. It does such a good job of weaving the Bible together and giving children, and adults, such a enlightening, birds-eye view of God's master plan for humanity-- his relentless love and pursuit of his children! Half the time we read this, I am in tears.

4. The Tommee Tippee Explora Easi-Roll Bib is a recent find. I was getting sick of wiping/washing flimsy bibs that took for every to drip dry and looked awful after a month's use. These bibs are comfy on baby's neck, easy to wipe/wash and they roll-up nicely for on-the-go mealtimes!

5. Soft-soled shoes are so good for baby's feet as they learn to stand and walk. With hard soles their feet don't learn to grip and maneuver as well. I didn't know this with Collin and went straight to tennis shoes when he started walking. I have since learned more and have loved having Killian in moccasins. There are some pretty pricey versions out there, but I have fallen in love with designs and price point of Starry Knight Mocs. I've bought them a bit big so that Killian can grown into them. They are truly just so comfy, well-made and cute!

6. Duck Goes Potty. This is a really sweet, fun book that helped Collin during potty training. I first checked out a copy at the library (I'm hoping they sanitize their board books!). Collin loved it so much I decided we should have a copy of our own.

7. Lollacup. This cup was originally introduced to me by a friend who saw the inventor, a mom-trapeneur, pitch it on Shark Tank. I was getting really frustrated with no spill cups that shot liquid out like a geyser when the cool liquid warmed to room temperature-- not to mention they were difficult for Collin to drink out of. Cue in Lollacup. This cute, penguin shaped receptacle has a weighed straw, making for easy drinking as the straw follows the liquid to the lowest point of the cup, when tipped. You can use it with or without the handles. It has been a mainstay for us!


The Long-Awaited Bathroom Reveal!

Friends, family, countrymen we have a complete bathroom! It's been a long, exciting, sometimes tiring process and we are finally done. My husband is truly the most handy and clever man on the planet. He started this project having never remodeled a bathroom, never ripped a room down to the studs, never re-wired a room to this extent, never having replaced plumbing and never having tiled! My contributions were the overall vision for the space along with internet scouring and thrift store/ antique mall visits, so while this is kind of a team effort, he did the lion share of the work and I am ever so grateful!

Let's take a little journey down memory lane...  Please read on, there will be more photos of the completed space at the end.

At first glance, the bathroom wasn't awful. Upon closer inspection, the floors were stick on tile, the walls a stamped particle board of sorts that was meant to look like tile, and the plumbing was in bad shape (no sink and awful pipes). There was no ceiling fan, you couldn't open the window and the wall plaster was cracked. Definitely seemed like a good first room to remodel!

While classic, the mirror was rusty and the wiring was scary. There was a revolving panel of sorts that was above where the sink should have been. I think it was originally to hold a cup and toothbrushes, but it had since corroded and was kind of a waste of space.

Below are some shots of the process.

We encountered all kinds of fun treasures under the floorboards and in the attic floor when Nick was doing the electrical work.

My favorite day ever was when we had a crew of guys swap out the existing tub for the claw foot we found of Craigslist! In it's original state it was a dingy, dirty white. We painted the exterior a charcoal grey and re-glazed the inside of the tub.

So, back to the completed space. Feast your eyes on the finished project! 
Ah, it's so nice to have it all done.

Here I am, taking a selfie with my shelfie!

Thanks for listening to us talk about his for ever and ever! Woohoo!


Peace in Faster Seasons

I am in the midst of a busy and sometimes chaotic season full of amazing things like developmental leaps in both my sweet boys, increased business and exciting, new projects with my graphic design company, co-planning a fall church camp, being a part of the launch of a new women's ministry at our church, finishing and starting lots of projects around our old house, leading a small group in the fall, supporting my husband as he works and takes a theology class, trying to workout more, spending more time in prayer as a couple, seeking out friends in whom we want to invest and the list goes on. Whew!

This season is also full of "fun" as Collin seems to do his best to un-do everything I do. He's all boy-- silly and playful and an absolute explosion of activity at.all.times. The house can start out spic and span in the morning and by the time nap time rolls around, I am scratching my head, wondering how things devolved so quickly! Add Killian's new-found mobility and penchant for plants, cords, the tiniest, most microscopic crumbs and who-knows-whats under the fridge and I am constantly on the go, trying to stay one step ahead of things at home.

It's still blazing hot outside, but the rhythms of autumn have already begun and we have recognized that the only way we can be fully present in all of these things without seeing our marriage, family time and relationship with the Lord suffer, is to be purposeful and organized.

We recently spent a week in Chicagoland with Nick's family and coming off that wonderful week of fun and relaxation, we decided we were ready to get serious about prioritizing what is important. At the end of the day, when the boys are tucked in and we tiredly flop on the couch, it's easy to flip on Netflix and veg. There is nothing wrong with this from time to time, but we have continued to come back to the reality of where we are, where we want to be and what it will take to get there.

So, we sat down and made a weekly schedule of sorts. Chores are spread throughout the week so that things don't pile up for one day or a weekend. Household repair/fixer-upper projects are reserved for Saturdays. Specific nights are blocked out for me to workout while Nick studies or Nick to workout while I do design work. I am mustering up as much strength as I can to wake up when Nick wakes up to go to work, at o'dark thirty, so that we can pray together. Not surprisingly, when we pray together the day goes smoother. Friday and Saturday nights are set aside for relaxing and date/family nights. It's important to know that there is still room to just hangout as a couple and as a family. I think that is one of the only ways our new routine will be sustainable.

What about you? Are there ways you stay organized and on top of things? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this! I don't consider myself to be super organized by nature, so I'm in need of some of my more structured friends to share hints and tips to a smoother, more productive routine.

P.S. If you haven't noticed, my Mostaza Seed Facebook Page is now exclusively dedicated to this blog and I have started a new page for Mostaza Seed Graphics on Facebook. Please give me a follow!

(Photo source)


Glorious Glassware!

Am I the only one who thinks a beverage is all the more tasty when it's in a pretty glass? Well, the weather is heating up and it's important to stay hydrated. Why not take a sip from some of these tasty tumblers-- sure to be a hit at your next dinner party!



More Bathroom Progress!

Hey friends,

We're getting closer and closer on the upstairs bathroom remodel. The tile is done, it has been grouted, sealed and caulked and Nick has hooked up the tub, toilet and sink, so it's almost all finished. I am so grateful to finally be able to use this hallway bathroom. There is no longer a claw foot tub or a toilet in our bedroom, we don't have to tiptoe through a sleeping baby's room in the middle of the night to get a drink of water or go to the bathroom, we don't have to brush our teeth downstairs off the kitchen anymore and we can finally bathe our little guys in a tub! Huzzah!

What's left to do-

*Finish last bit of mudding and paint the walls a serene white
*Install the metal shower halo where the shower spout will come out of and the shower curtains will be hung
*Reattach and repaint the window and door frames
*Construct a threshold for the floor between the tile and hardwoods
*Repaint and reinstall the vent cover
*Reglaze the inside of the tub in a nice clean white to match the rest of the fixtures
*Install medicine cabinet and light fixture above sink
*Install towel racks
*Install open shelving above toilet

I'm so proud of Nick and all he's done without having to hire any work out. He's just plugged along in the midst of 50+ hour work weeks, being an awesome, available daddy, playing on worship team, volunteering at church and taking care of numerous other household tasks. He's just so amazing!

Stay tuned for more updates!


Eyebrow Raising- Bumbling My Way to a Highbrow Existence

I'm told when I was three years old my mother found me crying in the mirror. When asked what was the matter I tearfully told her "I don't have any eyebrows!!!" Ah, well, when you are as fair as I am, visible eyebrows are illusive. They are even more illusive after a few sunny, summer days in the garden.

I have friends who have the opposite problem-- feeling if they don't keep their thick, dark brows in check they might just take over their face. 

I'm ashamed to admit that in the not-so distant past I succumed to a makeup artist at a salon who told me brow tinting would beautifully define my face. She even offered to do it for free with a brow wax. "Sure!" I said. "Why not?!"

I'll tell you why not. In just minutes I looked like Groucho Marx. I ran home and scrubbed and scrubbed to no avail. Nick came home and blurted out, "What happened to your face?" It was feeling all too much like the scene from Anne of Green Gables when Anne was told by a peddler she met on the road his dye would turn her hair "A beautiful shade of raven black," but instead transformed her hair into a green tinged train wreck.

So, I learned my lesson. Oh vanity of vanities!

I've just always admired good, strong brows. Take Brooke Shields, for example. Her name is almost synonymous with beautiful, eye defining, face shaping, natural brows. They aren't perfectly manicured, but there is clearly some definition and upkeep taking place with these beauties.

Other beautiful brow examples-

I'm sure I'm not the only one who fell into the 90's trap of over plucking. Thankfully, pencil thin brows have come and gone and more natural shapes are en vogue.

Eyebrows just have so much power to alter your face. Here's a funny chart of brows gone wrong. Have you been guilty of any of these shapes? I know I have! I once plucked such a high arch that I looked constantly surprised.

(source unknown)

Since my brows are so fair, I can get away with a brow wax every few months and only have to tweeze once a week or so for upkeep, but if your brows are thicker and require more work, that could get expensive. Here is a good rule of thumb guide for brow tweezing. 

This chart below helps to identify good brows for your face shape:

I was once told that, regardless if your brows are dark or light, filling them in with some brow powder makes them look more polished and neat. My mom turned me on to this brow kit and I can't say enough good things about it. It comes with a stencil, which is so helpful in evenly applying the powder. It's a bit on the pricey side, but you truly use so little in each application that I'm starting to wonder if I'll ever have to buy a refill.

So, how about you? Have you mastered a good look for your face or are your brows a source of consternation? Any tips or ideas to help a sister out?


Decor through the Decades

I've been wanting to do a post on design through the decades for quite a while. It wasn't until Nick went out of town on a work trip this past week that I actually had some time to buckle down and research and write during the evenings. You see, I just have the hardest time not spending time with him when he's home and the kids are down for the night. ;)

So, without further ado, I present to you my interpretation the home design from the 1940's to the 1980's. Please bear in mind, the style boards I've put together have a modern take to them. I wanted to create looks that could easily be executed in present-day homes without looking dated or like the set of a movie, so I added a few pieces to each board that are decidedly 2014 looks. Almost every piece displayed can be purchased, or something similar can be purchased, online.

I realize there are many design styles in any given decade, but I have done my best to highlight some of the more popular and noteworthy looks of each era. Keep in mind, the most en vogue looks of a particular time period often take years to trickle down to the average home. Since furnishings and decor items are collected over time, most real homes possessed, and possess, looks from several decades at one time.


I'll start of with one of my favorite decades! The 1940's were largely set in wartime, on the heels of an economic depression. The design style present during this time was modest, traditional and romantic. Patriotism was at its peak. People couldn't stomach being extravagant in their home decor when young, American men were dying on foreign soil. There was a coziness to homes during this decade because it was a place of comfort and solace during a tumultuous time. Lines were soft and details were both utilitarian and sweet. While putting this look together, I realized just how much I have, unconsciously, gravitated towards this style in my own home decor. 


Another favorite decade of mine. The 1950's were very much a deviation from the modesty of the 40's. The war was over and people were ready to settle down, have families and show off their new-found prosperity. It was a hopeful time. Furniture lines became cleaner and sleeker with the heyday of Charles and Ray Eames' design work and the permeation of Danish modern design in America. Color schemes became brighter and colorful appliances, newly available in more than just white, were all the rage. Towards the end of the 50's you also saw an influx of celestially inspired decor, or atomic design, as space exploration and the race against the USSR heated up. 


The 1960's was an era of rebellion against the establishment and youthful exuberance. Design became more playful and less formal. The Brady Bunch and their astroturfed,
California ranch reigned supreme on the airwaves each week. Floral patterns and mismatched colors took center stage in homes, along with unconventionally shaped furniture and architecture. Plastics, produced via new manufacturing techniques, and the endless possibilities this flexible medium offered opened the door to more unconventional and creative design. What we know today as the Mid-Century Modern school of design gathered even more steam and a trend towards simplicity and de-cluttered spaces was reflected in streamlined decorscapes.


In reaction to the candy coated, shellacked aesthetic of the 1960's, the 1970's design style gravitated back to nature. Homes were adorned in earth tones, wood paneling and natural fibers. The outside came in and hanging plants and terrariums became popular. Comfort became equally as important as style, as evidenced by the movement of wall to wall carpeting, often of the shag nature, and sound-proofing popcorn ceilings. I've been in a number of truly 70's style homes and can't help but dislike how dark they all feel. However, it's interesting to see that many 1970's trends are coming back, against the backdrop of open, white walls and airy, minimalist homes. I find I like the design style much better in its reinvented state.


The 1980's were characterized by Reaganomics, big hair and financial success (or at least the appearance of financial success). The nouveau riche of this decade spared no expense to deck their homes out in gilded, often gaudy, decor. It was difficult for me to put this board together, because I find so many of the looks of this decade tacky. Maybe it's just because I was a child during this time. In combing through 80's decor styles, one thing I can appreciate is the nod they gave to the 1920's Art Deco movement and the juxtaposition of pastels and black. The 80's saw a wave of decor trends that ran the gamut-- from Miami Vice to Southwestern inspired. Floral chintz fabrics and lace took center stage as the decade wrapped up-- giving way to another shift in design towards the more grounded looks of the 1990's.

Beyond the 1980's, it's hard for me to define or interpret where style has gone. Perhaps it's easier to see patterns the farther away you get from them. Or perhaps, having lived these more recent decades as an adult, I am too aware of the many iterations of design styles in each year, let alone decade.

I can remember there being a lot of country looks happening in the 90's, also some 1930's inspired lines in sofas, lamps and tables. The 90's definitely started off in cooler color pallets with a lot of dusty blue, teal and sea foam green, morphing in the mid 90's into burgundy and hunter green plaids and giving way, at the start of the 2000's, to lots and lots of variations of browns, tans and reds.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on where decor styles have been and where they are going. Ultimately, there is never really anything new under the sun and what you see as fresh and new now has its origin in a bygone era. I love history and I love design, so I find this sort of thing fascinating. What about you? Do you have a favorite, historical design period? Do tell!

And now I must go decompress from the creative frenzy going on in my brain! Good night!


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