Monday, August 29, 2011

Giveaway Winner: Back to School Alphabet Book

Thanks everyone for entering the giveaway!  We've loved our little Alphabet book and I was excited to give one away!

the winner is ....
Comment # 13 ... Alicia!

Friday, August 26, 2011

{Giveaway}: Back to School "Alphabet Book"

A few weeks ago I shared the alphabet crafts I made for/with my kids on this post.

I had some credit to Mixbook (similar to Snapfish, Shutterfly, Blurb, etc) and decided to make a book with our alphabet crafts!  I love how it turned out and the kids were excited to look through it once it arrived in the mail.

Since this week is Back to School for my kindergartener I thought it would be fun to celebrate by doing another giveaway ... for this little 4x6 version of my alphabet book!!!

To enter please leave a comment on THIS post!  You can win one for your kids, grandkids, nieces/nephews, or friends - anyone can enter!  Last chance to enter will be August 28th, Sunday night at 11:59pm.  I'll announce the winner Monday morning August 29th!!!!!  

Monday, August 22, 2011

{Crafts}: Freezer Paper Stenciling

Freezer Paper Stenciling

For my son's kindergarten they are asked to bring a large tote bag instead of a backpack.  They sold us a bag and told us to decorate it and put our child's name on it.

A while back I spied some darling bags that were decorated using freezer paper stencils.  I've been wanting to try it ever since and now I had an excuse!  I saw the bags on the Plum Pudding blog, and she linked to a tutorial I followed from How About Orange.

I think I fell in love with that turtle bag!
(image via Plum Pudding)

So ... here is what I did.  Remember "if SwellChel can do it ... you can too!"  This was my first time and it really was easy.  Did it turn out perfect?  No.  Did my son squeal in delight when he saw it?  Yes!  Totally worth it!

I bought some freezer paper (couldn't find it at my Target but ended up getting it at Ralphs).  Also some fabric paint (I got mine at Michael's craft store).  Next I went online and googled "dinosaur stencils" and printed out a few images I liked.  I also typed "TALON" really big in Word and printed that out too.

If I were you I would follow the tutorial I linked to above, but I'll just briefly describe what I did :

1. I put the sheets I printed out off of the computer under the freezer paper and traced my "stencils" onto the "flat" side of the freezer paper.

2. I used an exact-o knife and cut out the shapes by following my tracings

3. I ironed (yes, I had to remember where I kept the iron, hehe) the freezer paper onto the bag.  The bottom-shiny side of the freezer paper starts sticking to the bag really nice and holds your stencil in place.

4. After the fabric had cooled off I painted on the fabric paint using a foam brush (and I'm definitely sloppy at this, but it still turned out okay)

5. After it dried all I had to do is peel off the freezer paper (which was no problem at all) and voila!  It was super easy, clean and fun to do!  I think the longest step was cutting out the shapes with the exact-o knife.

(See ... the bag is not perfect but Talon is SO SO SO excited to go to school with his personalized dinosaur bag!)

"National Entitlement Awareness Day"

Just wanted to get word out about an upcoming book called:

"The Entitlement Trap"

Richard and Linda Eyre are the authors of many wonderful and inspiring books.  I'm a big fan of 5 Spiritual Solutions for Everyday Parenting Challenges and I Didn't Plan to Be a Witch and Other Surprises of a Joyful Mother.

Their new book, Entitlement Trap, is coming out September 6th.  I do think that is a major problem facing many parents today and I've read a few excerpts of the book on their daughter Shawni's blog, 71toes (which is one of my FAVORITE blogs, by the way.)  The excerpts are amazing and inspiring... practical advice and suggestions that I think really address the entitlement issue.  I can't wait to read the whole book!  I pre-ordered mine from Amazon.

The Eyre's are doing a big giveaway for those who are pre-ordering ... check it out here.

Also - the Eyre family is declaring today "National Entitlement Awareness Day".  So I am doing my part and getting the word out there :)  I'll have to do a little review when I've read the book in a few weeks ... and maybe a giveaway?!?!?!  :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

{Yummy Food Finds} : Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Layered Krispie Treats from Picky Palate

I'm finally starting a segment on SwellChel called "Yummy Food Finds."  The blog-world is such a great resource for yummy treats, creative recipes and twists on old-favorite foods!  I'm going to tell you right now that 99% of the recipes I post will probably be treats/desserts! :)  But, I'll try to make a conscience effort to include other groups of food!  Promise!

Something you need to know though - I like to cook and I like to bake but I have never just "experimented" with a recipe or just "thrown" ingredients together.  I also don't "make up recipes" ... never.  All of the recipes I'll share are probably from favorite food bloggers who have more culinary genius in their pinky than I do in my body!  I'm also a mess in the kitchen so I'll probably leave the beautiful/clean kitchen tutorials to the experts!

By far one of my most FAVORITE food blogs is Picky Palate!
Jenny is a-mazing! Seriously!  I don't think there is one recipe I haven't "bookmarked" to make someday!  She has such yummy and original creations, and easy-to-follow instructions.  I've already made a bunch of her recipes, but this one, by far is my "most requested" winner:   

The kids love it ... the adults love it.  It's easy to make.  It's easy to keep ingredients on hand.  Plus it has: chocolate + peanut butter cups + rice krispies (need i say more?)

Here is the beautiful picture from Picky Palate:

Here is my version
(this was from our 4th of July family party ... hence the patriotic flags)

Not as clear or beautiful of a picture as from Picky Palate, but you get the idea!

Why don't you go check it out for yourself.  Also, I have to say that I've occasionally switched the recipe up a few times and it always turns out scrumptious.  Occasionally I leave out the chocolate drizzled on top, and sometimes I use just a regular size bag of mini pb-cups, instead of a large bag.  But - it's always so yummy!

So next time you are asked to make a dessert for a party, church function, or just to impress your kids - you HAVE to try this!

BYU Graduation!

So, I know I decided to keep this blog separate from my family blog but I had to share some news ...
I finally graduated from BYU!

It took me 12 years - but a ultrasound career, putting my husband through school, three kids, and a busy life happened at the same time :)

I wrote all about it over on my private family blog,
(If you want a invite email me at!)

I finally can put this on my minivan ... wahoooo!

Monday, August 15, 2011

{Have you ever tried ...} : Ikea's TOLSBY Frames?

So, I'm starting a new segment on the blog called "Have you ever tried ... ?"  I think it will be a fun way to share products, stores, websites, etc.  I couldn't wait to post my first one on a new "love" from Ikea ...

Ikea's TOLSBY Frames?????

They are awesome!  You can put a picture on each side and it only costs 99 cents!  Really ... 99 cents!  They hold 4x6 pictures. You can't order them online but you can check your local Ikea stock here.

I was browsing Ikea months ago, saw them, and knew I could do something with them ... and so far I have used them for food labels for parties, but the possibilities are endless!  Here are a few that I did for parties:

I hosted a House Party for Ball Canning Supplies (I'll have to do another post on that), but I used the frames and had them match the decor.

We had some friends over for a "gourmet hot dog" party ... and I used the frames to give ideas on different hot dog styles you could make

... and these are from my son's fifth birthday party that I just posted about.

Like I said the possibilities are endless  ....  I'm thinking of printing out these 
fun prints from KiKi Creates and putting them near my desk to brighten my day.

Here's another idea: Family Fun magazine featured a mom who put her children's spelling lists from school at the breakfast table.  How easy would it to print those out 4x6 and slide them down into the frame?!?!

Do you guys have any fun ideas for these frames?!?!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

{Giveaway}: Amazon gift-card winner!

Thanks to everyone who left a comment on the giveaway post!  (Everyone's comments were so sweet and positive!)  I've been so excited all week to do this!  I also think it's an excellent way to celebrate my sons fifth birthday today!!! yeah!

Congratulations to comment # 7  :  Emily
who said, 
"Wahoo! Cute blog! I'm feeling lucky. ha ha. I need to come squeeze your little adorable baby"

So exciting!  I will mail you your gift card from the road on my way to Utah today!  (Gotta love the Amazon app on my iPhone!)

And don't worry folks ... I'll have another giveaway some time ... promise!  pinky swear!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Animal 5th Birthday Party

I can't believe my son is FIVE!!  I feel like I have been a mother for forever but at the same time these five years have gone by too fast!  How does that work????  :)

If there is one thing people know about my son Talon it is that he L-O-V-E-S animals!  He is always carrying one with him, he talks about them all day, watches his sister's princess movies "as long as they have cool animals" and he goes to bed with a different stuffed animal every night!  :)

So when the time came to plan a little party I knew how easy it would be to please him ... do an animal party with his cousins!!!  It couldn't have gone any better (unless every cousin could have been there!)  We all went to the OC Zoo inside Irvine Regional Park.  Talon goes there a LOT and knows every animal's name like "Billy Jean" the deer, etc.  He was in heaven showing his cousins everything!  Then we ended up back at our house for an "animal-themed" lunch!  I thought I would share the party details if anyone is interested ....  I got a few ideas from fellow bloggers and I will link up to them!

The Invite ...

I first saw Chalkboard Speech Bubbles when Positively Splendid did a giveaway ... I thought they were awesome and would work for so many things!

For the party we had everyone write their favorite animal on the chalkboard and I created this collage ... it actually turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the party and it will be fun to look back on this with Talon!

I also just wanted to share some of the decorations ....

I LOVE these frames from Ikea (I will be dedicating a whole post to them probably ... that's how much I love them!)  I thought it would be a fun way to display with the food. Talon helped me come up with the signs with things like "Lion" Lemonade, "Panther" pizza, etc.

 I love to check out Tip Junkie when I am planning parties ... it's such a great resource and I highly recommend it!  My search for animal parties led me to this amazing safari party featured on GreyGrey Designs.  If you check it out you will see I copied a few of her ideas that were too adorable to pass up:

 Zebra Cakes

"Baboon Butter" ... and I used the recipe here (turned out way more tasty than I expected)

and her "Gorilla Grapes"  (so simple put they look fun I think!)

I also made a lettuce salad (named after my parent's pet turtle, Lucky)

we had "panther pizza"

and "lion lemonade" too!

I couldn't resist buying animal crackers 

For favors we bought a bunch of animals from a local dollar store, put two in a bag (with free passes to come back to the zoo).  The note says "Thanks for coming to Talon's fifth birthday party!  Come visit us at the zoo again!"

The only other activity (besides playing with a million animal toys and jumping on the tramp) was using foam animal stickers on this big roll of paper to create our own "zoo"

 Isn't he a lucky boy to have so many cousins close by?

I love being his mommy!

 Eating lunch under the tramp!

An example of his thank you notes 

The party turned out so much fun and although I posted a million pictures I promise it was a pretty simple and fast preparation for this!  If anyone is interested in using my invites, thank you, labels, etc ... let me know.  It would be pretty fast to just change the names, info for you!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

{Crafts}: Summer Sponge Bombs

So, I've decided to call my craft series "If SwellChel can do it..."  Meaning - if I can make these crafts - you  can make them too!  Trust me!

There's a few things you should know about me as far as crafting goes:

 (1) I like easy crafts, 

(2) I like inexpensive crafts,

 (3) I'm not good at coming up with crafts, but I like to copy them from more talented people :) , and

(4) I am not a perfectionist and they never turn out perfect ... but that's okay!

A few months ago I came across a fun craft for the summer at one of my FAVORITE blogs :  A Little Tipsy!  (seriously - check it out - she's awesome!)

Aren't those cute?  A Little Tipsy gives an easy tutorial on how to make them.  I thought they would be so fun to use in the backyard in our little kiddie pools - and I knew the kids would love it!

Here are the items I used ... a cheap-o package of colorful sponges, zip-ties from Home Depot, and rubber grip liner.  (Any locals want some zip-ties and grip liner I have extra up for grabs!)

 ... and here is how they turned out!  As cute as A Little Tipsy's?  No.  Are the kids loving them? Yes!