Thursday, April 16, 2015

Easy Thrift Store or Garage Sale Makeovers

Author: Alyssa Craig

It has been said “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Thrift stores and garage sales are a perfect place to bring this statement to life! While it may not be especially evident to the naked eye, a little creativity and knowing what you are looking for can help you snag a great deal on an item you might otherwise pass up. It is not quite the season for garage sales but they will be coming up soon, so this is your chance to prepare your plan of attack. There are many simple ways to spruce up some great finds. 
garage sale
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Here are a few suggestions:

Small Bookshelf: A small bookshelf is the perfect starting point for creating a fun play set for your child. These can easily be converted into a small, play kitchenette where your child can store their plastic utensils and play food. You can also choose to create a little toy workbench.

Large Bookshelf: Coming across an old, rickety bookshelf could be the find of the summer for you! Add some pallets to the backing of the bookshelf. This will not only add stability but also give it a cool, new look. Feel free to paint the bookshelf any color but leave the wooden pallets in their natural wood color. 

Chairs: If you can find a set of chairs, you can easily give it a fresh coat of paint and update the upholstery. This can help old chairs to look new and guarantee they will match your other furniture and decor. You might even consider getting mismatched chairs and then updating them in the same way. This would add some character to your dining room while still making sure there is cohesion to the design. 

thrift stores

Dresser: Old dressers are also simple fixes that can make a big difference in your home. Paint the dresser a new color and then put a patterned wallpaper on the front of the drawers. If you really want to update the piece, consider updating the hardware. New knobs or handles can do wonders for an old piece and it is such a simple solution! A short, long dresser can also become an entertainment center, with drawers taken out and wicker baskets replacing them for storage. 

Scooters and Bikes: Thrift stores and garage sales are great places to pick up some toys such as scooters or bicycles that families have either outgrown or that have sat unused for too long. One great way to get these old toys looking like new is to have a professional apply powder coating like was done with this scooter. This also gives you a chance to customize it to your liking!


Kitchenware: There are many fun items for the kitchen you can find for awesome steals. One thing to keep your eye out for is cast-iron cooking ware. This can be easily restored by removing the rust with steel wool and washing it thoroughly with warm water and mild dish soap. After allowing the pan to dry, cover it in a coating of vegetable oil, place it upside down on a cookie sheet on the top rack of your oven and heat the pan for one hour at 350 degrees. After it cools, it will be ready to use! 

Picture Frames: Often times you can find art at a garage sale and quickly pass by it if it does not fit your style. However, try paying attention to the frame it is in instead! It is easy to repurpose a picture frame and you can always remove the art inside if it doesn’t suit your taste. You could even ask the seller if they would consider selling you just the frame.

Old Mirrors: Finding an old mirror with an interesting frame can be a great addition for any room in the house. Not only can you paint the frame to fit your style, but if you do not need another mirror, you can turn the glass into a chalkboard with chalkboard paint. This can be a great accessory to a kitchen or a child’s bedroom. 

frugal living

As the garage sales come around, or your errands take you to the thrift store, keep your eyes peeled for items that you can customize to your taste. You will have a great new piece for your home and a purchase that your wallet can be happy about too. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Amazed By Grace by Sheri Dew

Grace is a hard topic because most of us don't understand it.  And it seems like we can never fully understand grace and the Atonement completely.  But we can understand some things and enough to help us know that we need the Savior and the Atonement every day and we need Him to be able to return to our Father in Heaven.

There have been some amazing books and speeches given on grace and I'm sure you've read some of them.  Amazed by Grace by Sheri Dew is another great book that you need to add to your grace library.

grace, Sheri Dew, book review, LDS

The book is written because Sheri Dew was asked to speak at a BYU Women's Conference on grace and was overwhelmed by the topic.  She had a friend write her an email with what she would hope Sheri Dew would talk about.  Dew answers these questions in her book: 

1. What is grace?
2. What difference can grace make in our lives?
3. How does the Savior make His power available to us?
4. What must we do to gain access to the Savior's power?

Sheri Dew shares personal experiences, words of the prophets, experiences of others, and scriptures to explain and answer each of these questions.  If you've ever heard Sheri Dew speak or read one of her books then you know that this is quality reading.

One of my favorite things that she talks about that we are saved by grace after all we can do.  But after all we can do does not mean a giant check list that we must cross off, but it's more about "the direction we're headed and what kind of men and women we are becoming."  She continues to say, "Jesus Christ endured and completed His eternal, infinite Atonement so that you and I could change."  That's one of the biggest pieces of grace - it allows us to change.  I love that.

She also talks about being a disciple and that we must know God to really be a disciple.  Dew says, "The path of discipleship is actually the easiest path.  It is the path that allows us to partake most fully of the Lord's love for us."

And if anyone wants to read more about women and the priesthood, she touches on that as well and explains it really nicely so that it makes sense.  It's another great witness of the power of the priesthood and how women are involved and how they get to participate.

If you want a good resource on grace and to understand it a little better, make sure to pick up Amazed by Grace by Sheri Dew at Deseret Book!

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Fresh New Taste the Family Will Love!

This post in sponsored by Markerly in partnership with Dasani and Target.  All opinions are 100% my own.  Dasani Drops really are awesome, that's why I'm sharing them with you!

My kids drink A LOT of liquids.  We go through milk and juice like it ain't no thang.  They must get it from their dad.  But it keeps them hydrated so I'm ok with it.  But we are often on the go: errands, preschool, library, parks, walks, more errands, and family events.  I always make sure to bring their sippy cups, but I hate filling them with milk because they sit in my bag for hours and that's just gross.

I really want my kids to drink water more too.  It's a lot healthier and less expensive! (Can you believe the price of milk these days?!) Plus water gives them the energy they need and helps their bodies function properly.

But my kids don't like water.  They get upset if I don't bring milk, chocolate milk, or juice with me.  And like I said, warm milk and juice is just gross.

But I found a solution!
Dasani Drops!

dasani, active families, flavor enhancer

It's a little plastic container that you can conveniently keep in your purse or in your cupboards at home.  You just squirt a little into their sippy cups or water bottles and now it's not just plain water anymore.  It's a fresh, new taste.  I love the Lime and especially the Strawberry Basil.  And my kids love it too!  It's refreshing and not just plain water. 

It's like giving them juice, but without the sugar and calories!  And now they're drinking water like they drink their milk or juice.

I have to be honest here.  I hate water.
Now you know where my kids get it from.  I know it's really important for your health:
  • It can help in weight loss
  • It helps aid digestion
  • Can help prevent headaches
  • Keeps you energized
  • Helps you focus
  • Keeps us healthier and helps prevent illness
  • Keeps your skin looking good
But I can't seem to drink anything near the recommended 9 cups!  Until now.  
Ladies, these Dasani Drops make all the difference!  

dasani, active families, flavor enhancer

Both Lime and Strawberry Basil are so refreshing!  They make water taste amazing!  It's so much easier to drink water when the flavor is enhanced to give you the hydration that you need.  I just squirt a little in my water bottle or in my glass of water and drink it throughout the day or when I'm on the go.  It lasts a long time too because you don't need that much.  A little bit goes a long way.  

You have to try it!  Trust me, it's worth it.  I'm definitely going to keep buying them.  You can find Dasani Drops at Target and they're on the Target Cartwheel app!  If you love Target and don't have this app yet, it's awesome!  There's coupons that you put in the cart on your app and then the cashier scans it when you're checking out.  So easy and saves you money! For a limited time, coupons for Dasani Drops will be on the app.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A Heart Revealed Book Review

I was super excited when I was able to review a Proper Romance novel.  I love that they take you back to the Jane Austen era, but are much less lengthy and written in modern language.

A Heart Revealed written by Josi Kilpack is a book that you will quickly get into.  You may recognize Josi Kilpack from other books she has written which includes her popular culinary mystery novels.

proper romance, alopecia

I don't feel like this is a spoiler alert because you find out in the first few chapters of the book, but I am going to tell you the condition that she has that quickly changes her status in society.  So if you don't mind, keep reading!

 Amber Sterlington is the rage of the season with her beautiful auburn hair.  She's snobby and manipulative and all she cares about is finding a husband who is wealthy and will raise her own rank in society.  However, you soon find out that she has Alopecia.  Alopecia is an autoimmune disease that destroys your hair follicles.  This means that the main character loses all her hair.

At first I thought this was a strange thing to talk about during a regency era novel.  Do that many people have Alopecia?  I just looked it up and over 6.6 people in the United States develop it at some point in their lives.  That is much larger than I thought it would be.  It is a genetic disease and even today, it still doesn't have a cure.

It was interesting to see how she reacted, her family reacted, and society reacted to her condition.  Throughout the novel you are able to see kindness and judgement through different characters.  It also allows you to see a great transformation in Amber Sterlington's character as she is exiled until she heals.

She still dreams of getting married, although the type of man changes.  It is a sweet love story where fate and chance intermingle.  The book also lets you in on what often the relationships of the upper class verses the lower class were like.  Both among their own class and when they intermingled with the other class.

Overall, I loved the story as it developed.  As with all these types of novels, I couldn't put it down! It's a fairly quick read and ends with a happy ending (Which I always prefer.  I need closure!).

If you are looking for a great Proper Romance novel, definitely check out A Heart Revealed found at Deseret Book.

Friday, April 3, 2015

11 Essentials First Moms May Not Think Of

I think I'm at the point where I can call myself a veteran mom.  At least for babies.  I've had three babies now and I feel like I have a good grasp on what they need, what I need, and what to expect when I bring them home from the hospital - for the most part.  :-)  All babies are different and some can surprise you!

My sister is pregnant with her first baby and she's been asking me what she needs for her new baby.  Of course we all know the basics: crib, stroller, changing table, clothes, diapers, wipes, pacifiers, etc.

But there are other things that you need to make your life a little easier as a new mom.  So I'm writing this post for my sister and anyone else who needs it.  So consider this some big sister tips!

Here are my must haves!
baby, new mom, essentials

Cloth Diaper Burp Cloths
If your baby spits up a lot, you definitely want some good absorbent burp cloths.  I highly recommend your basic cloth diapers.  You can also easily make them cute by adding fabric or applique.  Check out my tutorial!

baby, essentials, new mom

Washable Nursing Pads
You can buy disposable nursing pads, but I found them to be a little too rough.  They irritated me especially during those first few weeks of nursing when everything is super tender and painful.  There's no way around it.  It's just painful.  But only for a few weeks and then hopefully you and your baby get it all worked out.  :-)  You'll save money and will be more comfortable with washable nursing pads.  You can find them on Amazon, Etsy shops, etc.

Or some other nipple cream.  As I mentioned above, those first few weeks of nursing are painful and you're going to need some relief.  I find that a cream works.  I tried a natural one recently which I liked, so I don't know if the brand really matters.  My sister-in-law begins applying a few weeks before the baby comes which could help make the transition a little easier.

Nursing Cover
I like to nurse in public as long as I'm covered.  I don't like to have to go find somewhere to hide. It's super inconvenient and sometimes your baby needs to nurse NOW!  I love nursing covers!  I just came across this awesome cover called The Bomb Shell Shelter.  It's a full-coverage 360 degree cover that allows you to nurse on-the-go in complete confidence. You could literally be nursing in the middle of the park while pushing your older child on a swing, and not flash anything to anyone!

new moms, baby, essentials

A few of my favorite features include an elastic neckline that allows you to check on baby without allowing anyone else to take a peek. It also has sleeves so you can burp baby or multi task without having to rearrange your clothes.

Also it's unique square design allows it to double as a play surface or changing pad that will keep even the largest babies off the gross floor. 

The best part? They gave me an exclusive discount code to pass along to YOU! Enter the code LEARN on to get $19 off, making the cover only $15.99!

Diaper Bag - With Lots Of Pockets
I think I'm on my third diaper bag now.  You pretty much need a new one with each child.  They just get worn out!  The one I have right now is amazing!  It has a ton of pockets on the inside, it converts into a backpack, and it comes with a changing pad.  I love it!  There are lots of really cute ones out there that looks like regular purses too.  It's up to you and your style, but make sure it has lots pockets.  That's a must!

Swaddling Wrap
If you're going to swaddle your baby, get a swaddling wrap!  We just used blankets for out first two kids which was fine. But you always worry - Did I do it tight enough?  Will it come loose and cover their face?  There are a lot of stresses and worries that run through your mind when you have a newborn.  A swaddling wrap has velcro so it keeps the baby snug and stays in place.  It definitely gives you peace of mind!  I loved having one for our third baby!

I love my boppy!  It's a great pillow that fits around you and makes nursing so much more comfortable.  Trust me.  You want one.

Car Seat Canopy
This is especially important for the cold weather.  It goes over your baby's carseat and protects them from the weather and germs.  It's also great when they're asleep and you don't want people peeking in and waking them up.  Because they will.  They just can't resist.  And who can blame them? These are actually pretty easy to make yourself or you can buy one.  Here's a great tutorial from Life with My Littles.

new baby, essentials, new mom

Breast Pump
This is a must if you're a working mom, but even stay at home moms should get one too, but a simple hand pumped one is fine.  I just have a cheap version and it's been great!  Sometimes you're baby won't eat enough so it's good to use to keep your supply up.  Or they won't eat enough and the pressure builds up and you need some relief.  Or to pump to save it for later if you have a babysitter.  It's also great for when you're weaning and need some help with the pressure.  Weaning is also painful...but just for a few days.

Car Seat Mirror
I don't know why it took us until we had our third kid before we bought one, but you need a mirror to put in your car on the headrest in front of your baby so you can see them.  I don't know how many times I hear my baby choking or gagging and stressing out because I can't see them!  Or when their siblings pester them so you know why they're crying.  Lots of good reasons.

Baby Carrier
Some sort of carrier is a great idea to have.  Some people love Moby's which is a long piece of material that you wrap around yourself and it holds your baby.  Personally my babies have never liked them, but some babies love them.  A strappy front carrier is great for the park or walks or errands.  They're both great options so you just have to find one that works for you.

new baby, essentials, new mom

Ikea Bibs
When your baby gets a little older (probably 9+ months), you must get Ikea bibs!  They are long sleeved and completely cover their shirt and has a pocket at the bottom to catch the food.  They're like $5 for a pack of 2.  Best bibs ever!

Just a few tips and preferences from me!
* When buying a car seat, make sure the straps are adjustable in the front!  The ones that adjust in the back are a nightmare.
* My favorite diapers are Huggies.  I also like Kirtland and I think Target has the best price for the quality.  So we rotate between the 3 of those depending on sales and needs.
* If you can afford it, get a jogging stroller.  I really wish I had one!
* Baby nail clippers - they often come with that little protecting piece on the bottom.  Honestly I've cut more fingers with that stupid thing on!  I took it off and it's been tons better!
* Make sure to always keep an extra blanket in your car and an extra outfit in your diaper bag.  You aways seem to need them.
* And always bring medicine with you whenever you're staying the night somewhere!  It never fails that you go on vacation or overnight at grandma's and they get a runny nose and are miserable all night.  Bring the Tylenol!

Don't forget to register for things for your baby shower!  You'll be surprised how much you get.  Good luck!  And Congratulations!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Put Some Magic in Your Winter Date Nights

Author: Whitney Hollingshead

Whether you are feeling the winter slump, you are wishing there was more snow this winter, or you need to put some life back in your typical date nights, this is the list for you. With the limited snow we’ve had this year, you should plan at least one date this winter that allows you to really enjoy the breathtaking winter wonderland whether it’s covered in snow or not. Check out these fun outdoor date ideas to make the most of this unusual Utah winter.

winter, date night, Utah, snowshoeing, ice skating, tubing


Switching things up with a day date will give you more activity options in the winter. So bundle up in layers and hit the trail during the day. Make sure you wear comfortable waterproof boots and layers that are both easy to move in and easy to remove. Bring along a backpack to help carry anything you remove, as well as water, snacks, sunscreen, and a camera.

Your favorite summer hiking trail may be open to snowshoeing in the winter. If after doing some research, you find this is not the case, consider one of these trails instead:

  • Farmington Sunset Trail (Davis County) - Take Skyline Drive in Farmington and head north up Farmington Canyon. You will find a parking lot off the right after another 1.5 miles. The trail starts off the north side of the parking lot. Snowshoes may not be necessary depending on the snow pack, but this easy trail takes you past a waterfall without requiring a long trek.

  • Mill Creek Canyon (Salt Lake County) - plan on paying an entrance fee of $3 per car. Once you arrive you can choose from multiple trails and take a break at one of the many picnic areas. Don’t forget to bring along a thermos of your favorite hot beverage!

  • Provo Canyon (Utah County) - head to Vivian Park and continue up the road until you reach the Big Springs trail off the right. This trail is relatively easy to traverse, although you may want to bring your snowshoes along in case you hit deeper snow along the way. If the weather is warmer, snowshoes won’t be necessary.

Before you hit the trail, make sure you check the weather and read up on avalanche warnings.

Add some magic: pack a winter picnic! Take advantage of the cooler temperatures in the mountains and pack fun food you would normally have to refrigerate. Just make sure you place it in a plastic bag tied securely to the outside of your pack.

Driving or riding on a snowmobile may be one of the most exhilarating ways to enjoy the winter landscape. Whether you own your own machines, are able to borrow them from family or friends, or you are renting, one of the 11 trails mentioned here is sure to provide the framework for the perfect winter date. Don’t forget your helmets!

Add some magic: go for a night ride. Hit a well known trail on a cloud free night and take some time to enjoy the stars.

Ice Skating
(**Save this one for winter 2016, I believe most of these are closed now. It's too warm!**)

winter, date night, Utah, snowshoeing, ice skating, tubing

While you can go ice skating year round in Utah at one of the many indoor rinks, there is something truly magical about ice skating outside in the winter. Check out one of these outdoor rinks:

  • Station Park (Farmington)
  • Gallivan Center (Salt Lake City)
  • Timpanogos Ice Rink (American Fork)
  • Midway City Ice Rink (Midway)

Add some magic: After skating, drive to Hatch Family Chocolates in Salt Lake City for their famous hot chocolate. While you may have to drive a fair distance, the hot chocolate is more than worth it. In fact, visiting Hatch’s would be an enjoyable date in and of itself.


winter, date night, Utah, snowshoeing, ice skating, tubing

Riding down the snow covered mountainside on a tube is not just for children. Thanks to modern hills that include a lift service, you can enjoy the downhill fun with minimal effort on your part. Check out one of these great tubing spots:

  • Snowbasin Ski Resort (Huntsville)
  • Gorgoza Park (Park City)
  • Soldier Hollow (Heber Valley)
  • Brian Head Resort

Contact the resort directly to schedule reservations as the available spaces fill up quickly!

Of course if you have your own tube or sled and there is a lot of snow on the ground, you can always head to a popular sledding hill located near your home.

Add some magic: bring a custom playlist. Make a playlist of music you both enjoy to listen to on your way home from the tubing runs. As you will most likely be tired from hours of fun, the music will give you a way to connect with each other and stay awake without having to carry on an in depth conversation.   

Outdoor winter dates in Utah are not just for outdoor enthusiasts. Pick something from the list above and make some memories with your favorite date.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Real Moms - Making It Up As We Go

You always hear that there's no manual for parenting.  And it's so true!  Lisa Valentine Clark's new book Real Moms: Making It Up As We Go is all about that!

Lisa Valentine Clark translates the humor, realities, rants, and ups and downs of motherhood in her book in a way that we can all relate.  She takes stories and situations from her own life and openly shares them with her readers.  I feel like I've really gotten to know her.

My favorite part of the book are her side rants that are in each chapter.  Just to give you an idea, here was my favorite side rant:

"If it's so horrible that our children are going to leave us one day to live lives of their own (which is wonderful, too), shouldn't we console ourselves by focusing on the silver linings when possible?  I WILL miss messy kisses and spontaneous, unsolicited, unrestrained hugs that knock you over, but I'm not going to miss stepping on Legos, wiping the refrigerator handles a million times a day, or finding candy wrappers all over my house.  When my little ones leave me, can't I find a little solace and comfort in not having to wipe a big mess off the toilet seat or change the fitted sheet on the top bunk? I have to miss those things, too?"

I feel the same way!

She talks about moms on Pinterest, playdates, getting your kids to pick up their stuff, cleaning, and being an average day to day mom.  The world today doesn't always appreciate moms.  I love just this weekend during the General Women's Broadcast when I believe it was Sister Oscarson who shared the story of the woman who presented at her child's career day as a mother and homemaker.  She also said, “Do we also teach our sons and daughters there is no greater honor, no more elevated titles and no more important roles in this life than that of mother and father?”  Being a mother is the most important thing women can be, but it's often overlooked. 

Lisa Valentine Clark is great at sharing her observations, advice, and encouragement to just be you!  And to share that all moms have hard times, come up short, wish we had nicer things, and that none of us really know what we're doing.  But that's real life.  And that's ok!  Somehow our kids will grow up normally and have good memories of their childhood.  :-)

If you want to read a lighthearted and uplifting book about being a mom, definitely check out Real Moms by Lisa Valentine Clark at Deseret Book