The Best DIY Toys for Kids

handmade toys You guys know I’m a sucker for handmade things, so I couldn’t resist searching the web for the best DIY toys. This Christmas, consider MAKING your gifts instead of buying them. There are so many amazing tutorials out there for handmade, DIY toys, everything from DIY train tables and play tents to rag dolls, rainbow blocks, and more.

Click here to see all of these amazing DIY toys!

Minted Holiday Cards (Plus, a $100 Giveaway!)

minted holiday cards Christmas card season is upon us, and today I’m sharing you some fabulous new options from Minted. If you’re not familiar, Minted is an online paper company, featuring custom cards, art, stationary (and tons more!) from independent designers all over the world. We ordered our Christmas cards from Minted last year, and the quality was top-notch – beautifully printed designs on sturdy card stock.

You can import your own photos to put on your holiday cards or they have lots of non-photo options to choose from. Here are a few of our favorites for this year’s Christmas card, featuring some of our family photos shot by MMS Photography. Which card do you like best?

minted christmas cards

This year, Minted also has an entire line of gorgeous foil pressed designs. They are so beautiful! I’m totally in love with this heart snapshot foil pressed art. I uploaded some of my favorite Instagrams to create this beautiful design! So fun, right? I think it’d make a great Christmas gift, too.

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 3.27.33 PM

Minted is offering one lucky reader here a $100 credit to the entire shop! Order Christmas cards, photo gifts, stationary, and more! Just enter using the Rafflecopter below. The winner will be announced Monday, morning! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Special thanks to Minted for providing me with a site credit for writing this post! 

“I can’t get sick” Bomb

When I first heard about essential oils, I was a total skeptic. I mean, I figured they worked, but only so well. I’ve been using doTERRA essential oils for nearly 6 months now, and oh my goodness, I am a skeptic no more. These things work, you guys. If you have kids, you know how often they get sick. Last year, I’m pretty sure someone was sick at all times for all of fall and winter. Not evening kidding. This year? Totally different story. Less sickness all around and shorter sicknesses, too! No doctor visits, either!

Last week, I felt my body on the verge of a bad cold. I woke up each morning with pressure behind my nose and eyes. I was sneezing and blowing my nose all the time and my head and neck ached, too. I decided to load up on essential oils to see if I could kick the thing before it really got me down. I came up with this “I can’t get sick” Bomb – a veggie capsule with frankincense, lemon, oregano, On Guard, and melaleuca essential oils. All are safe to be ingested internally and a veggie cap makes it easy to ingest without tasting the strong concentrations of essential oils. I took this “I can’t get sick” Bomb twice a day for 3 days and bam! Cold symptoms gone.

cold flu essential oils

To make your “I can’t get sick Bomb, simply add 2 drops each of frankincense, lemon, oregano, On Guard, and melaleuca to a veggie cap. Swallow with a glass of water. Take an “I can’t get sick” Bomb once every 4-6 hours when you are battling cold and flu symptoms. It is not recommended to make up veggie caps ahead of time.

*I should also mention that Phil came home sick from work one afternoon last week, too. He was feeling flu-ish. He took a short nap and I gave him one of these “I can’t get sick” Bombs and he was feeling back to his regular self by dinner time. He blames his stellar immune system, but I know the essential oils did the trick. ;)

If you are interested in getting your hands on some doTERRA essential oils, please contact me. I am a doTERRA Wellness Advocate, which means I can help answer your questions and point you in the right direction for 100% pure and natural health and wellness. You can email me at philandlacy @ gmail.com.

To learn more about how essential oils can help your family, make sure to join our Facebook group! 

To see our other posts about essential oils, click HERE!

 

Cherry Maple Granola

homemade granola, cherry maple granola, granola Do you make your own granola at home? I only recently started making homemade granola and I can’t believe how easy it is! I whipped up this batch of cherry maple granola last week, and will definitely be making it again. It’s super easy and hugely cost saving. The best part about it is you know exactly what ingredients are going in it! This one is a cherry maple granola, only sweetened with 100% natural maple syrup, no sugars added whatsoever. Oats are a great source of fiber and are milk-boosting for breastfeeding mothers! And great news – everyone approves, even the kids. Here’s what you need to make your very own cherry maple granola…

3 C oats (I used quick oats, but rolled would work just as well)
1 C dried unsweetened coconut flakes
1 C chopped unsalted nuts (I used walnuts but almonds or pecans would be great, too!)
1/4 C wheat germ
2 T flax seed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 T olive oil
1/2 C maple syrup
1 egg white
1 C dried cherries

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except for the egg white and the dried fruit. In a small dish, whisk your egg white until frothy, then stir into granola mixture. Pour granola onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 45- 50 minutes, or until your granola is evenly browned and dry. Let your maple granola cool completely, then stir in the dried cherries. Store your cherry maple granola in an airtight container for 2 weeks. Homemade granola is great over yogurt and fruit or by itself with a little milk! This cherry maple granola would make an excellent gift, too! Package it up in a mason jar for neighbors, teachers, and friends.

Yield: 8 C, roughly 2 quart jars full

homemade-granola, cherry maple granola

 

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Hair Color That’s Better for You

new hair
*This post is brought to you by Madison Reed, the revolutionary new hair color that’s better for your hair. Click here to learn more about Madison Reed

Would you believe me if I told you I used to have blonde hair? Yup, for most of my life actually. It’s funny, anytime I post a #tbt photo of me with blonde hair, my newer friends always comment that they can’t believe I ever had those pineapply locks. But it’s true. It was natural blonde when I was a kid, then I started highlighting it in high school and continued to do so until Phil and I were married. Truth be told, we were SUPER living on love back then, so highlighting or coloring my hair wasn’t really within our budget. I tried a few drugstore brands to get it back, closer to my natural color, which only worked so well.

After having kids, my body changed in numerous ways. My skin was different. My feet grew. And believe it or not, my hair color totally changed, too. Instead of the dirty-dishwater color I had been rockin’ for the past decade, it grew back deep, dark brown. And surprisingly so, I didn’t hate it. It was different and I was going to give it a shot. Because of the crazy after-baby hair falling out and re-growth, I cut bangs, and  started styling the “Zooey Deschanel,” or so I call it. It’s been this way for a little over 2 years now. My new natural color is okay. But lately, it has been looking super dull, faded, and just blah. Like muddy dishwater. Ha! It certainly needed an update.

There are days I love my hair, but I sometimes think about going back to my blonde days. But, that means more time, more money, and lots of exposure to harmful chemicals. Unfortunately, most hair coloring methods out there are just plain toxic. You guys know that we have tried going all-natural in most areas of our life, so I just can’t justify the use of these crazy chemicals on my hair, especially while breastfeeding. Long story short, I needed a hair coloring system that wasn’t so terrible for me. I needed hair color that was more compatible with the rest of my lifestyle.

before&after Enter Madison Reed, the brand new at-home hair color system that is better for you! The ingredients that they use are safer for me and safer for the environment. All 32 shades are ammonia, resorcinol, and PPD-Free, with no parabens added, which is awesome. Even more, they use things like keratin, ginseng root, and argan oil to deliver a healthy, easier-on-your-hair professional color.

After doing an online consultation, Madison Reed sent me a complimentary at-home hair color package. Let me just say – this stuff is amazing! Normally, coloring my hair, especially at home, is an awful experience. The smells usually make me super light-headed and I can always feel the chemicals burning the skin on my scalp. But with Madison Reed, it’s a totally different experience. The color smells great and doesn’t burn at all! The instructions are very clear and each step was easy to do.

Once I washed the color out and treated my hair with Madison Reed shampoo and conditioner, my hair felt amazing. Soft, smooth, and super shiny! All other at-home hair coloring systems left my hair feeling dried out and tired. The color I chose was Catania Brown, not too different from my natural color. I was hoping to get rid of the fading and add some shine, which is exactly what I got. The results were beautiful! My new color is deep and pure, from my roots to the end. There’s a reddish tint to it and my natural highlights still shine through. Madison Reed gave me the exact update I needed. Win.

madison reed hair I will definitely be using Madison Reed hair color again, and I am quite tempted to ease back into blonde. We’ll see about that.

Lucky for you, Madison Reed is offering all of you a 50% discount with your first order. Just click here to get started. Make sure you enter the code BETTERCOLOR to get your discount. Whether you are wanting a new look, to cover up grays, or to touch-up your roots, Madison Reed is the way to go. Most importantly, it’s affordable, beautiful, and better for you!

Find your perfect hair color now!

Okay, and one more new hair pic because Baby Margot is just so cute..

babymama

 

**Thanks to Madison Reed for sponsoring this post. All opinions are, of course, my own! xoxo, L

Hosting Thanksgiving

thanksgiving-table I’ll be the first to admit that I love the holiday season. I may have even started listening to Christmas music. I love this time of year when friends and family draw near, give thanks, and celebrate the holidays. Thanksgiving is coming up, and if you are hosting, I’ve got some great ideas for you.

10 Creative Ideas for Your Thanksgiving Table (Including those gorgeous ideas pictured above!)

How to Host The Perfect Friendsgiving (Yup, it’s a thing!)

Don’t forget the kids! Here are 20+ Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids!

 

150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids

If you are a parent to a little one, chances are you have stumbled onto my friend’s blog, Fun at Home with Kids. Asia shares the coolest activities for kids, all of which are screen-free and totally fun. Asia has been working hard on her book, 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids, which just became available a few days ago. Lucky me, I’ve got my hands on a copy!

You guys, I’m not just saying this because she’s my friend, but this book is seriously awesome. There are so many amazing ideas for kiddos of every age – even babies! (Yes, there are over 70 activities for babies in this book! Awesome, right?!) Best of all, she includes photos of every single activity so you can see exactly how something is supposed to turn out. My kind of book.

screen-free-activities Doughs, clays, slimes, paints, experiments, handmade toys, sensory activities, all of these amazing “worlds” to make and explore. Everything is so, so fun! I really can’t get over it. The girls looked through it and asked to do every single activity. I even picked out a Christmas present I’m going to make for Margot! Some things I can’t wait to make/do?

Flubber
Banana Playdough
Baked Cotton Balls
All-Natural Gel Fingerpaints
Butterfly World
Colored Beans
Sensory Boards
Dyed Rainbow Building Blocks

If you are parent to little ones, you should buy this book! (Yes, it’s on sale for like 12 bucks on Amazon right now!) Lord knows how rough the winter months can get, so I’m so glad I’ll have this amazing resource come snowpocalypse season! It would also make an awesome birthday present or Christmas gift! You could even package it up all cute with a few supplies to do one of the activities inside! Here’s a fun little video that gives you a sneak peek at some of the fun things to do…

Asia is giving away some fun supplies to create some of the activities in the book, so make sure to enter using the Rafflecopter below! (You get an entry just for liking us on Facebook! Wahoo!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Grab a copy of 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids anywhere that books are sold!

Amazon US
Barnes and Noble

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal with Maple Bacon Topping

baked-pumpkin-oatmeal How do you make anything better? The answer is always bacon. I’m quite sure of it. It’s more like a condiment, really. Because it goes with everything. (Seriously, I dare you to come up with a food that isn’t good with bacon.) We’ve been eating pumpkiny things (pumpkin donuts, anyone?) for the past month and as good as pumpkin is, I felt like everyone was a little pumpkined-out. Everyone but me, that is. Last weekend I had planned on making some baked pumpkin oatmeal, but I could see the look of disappointment on Phil’s face when I mentioned that’s what we were having. Solution? Bacon. I added some crispy bacon crumbles and a few glugs of maple syrup to the top of our baked pumpkin oatmeal and I’m pretty sure I heard angels singing. You must make some soon!

1/2 can pumpkin puree
2 C milk
2 T pure maple syrup
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
pinch of ginger and/or cloves
2 C oats
4 strips of bacon, fried and crumbled
2 T maple syrup

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a medium sized baking dish and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, milk, 2 T maple syrup and spices. Then, stir in the oats. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then top with bacon crumbles and the remaining 2 T maple syrup. Serve your baked pumpkin oatmeal warm and if you’re feeling naughty, add a splash of half & half! This recipe serves 4-6 people. Happy pumpkin everything! xoxo, L

Looking for more great recipes? Click here! 

Addie’s Donut Party

On Saturday, we invited our family and friends over for a donut party to celebrate Addie’s 4th birthday. (And yeah, it didn’t even cross my mind that this was the morning after Halloween until last week. Sugar overload. Whoops!) It was such a fun birthday party, complete with a yummy spread of donuts and milk and a fun donut pumpkin crafts for the kids! Thank you to everyone who came! Addie said it was “the best birthday ever!” (She’s my daughter y’all. Donuts = love language.) donut-birthday-party-1 You guys know we love donuts, so a donut party was a must. Addie mentioned wanting a donut party a few months ago and of course, I was totally on board. As much as I love to make donuts, I wasn’t about to attempt making a variety of them for 50+ people. A new donut shop just opened up in town and so we ordered our birthday donuts from them. They make awesome craft donuts, sourcing local ingredients and doing it all from scratch, (even the sprinkles!) so of course we love them a lot. I contacted them about a month before the party and they went out of their way to make sure we had everything we needed for a perfect donut party.

donut-birthday-girl Grace & Madd Paperie custom designed our donut party invites. They were simple kraft paper postcards ($$$ saving) with some cute pink donut printing. Maddie always does such an amazing job with invitations and totally captures the look I’m going for! The decor turned out so cute and didn’t cost an arm and a leg, either! To create a backdrop, I hung sparkly striped wrapping paper on the wall. I ordered these donut-shaped balloons, then painted them pink and added strips of tissue to create some cute sprinkled donuts for the food table. I hung tissue paper tassels from the donut balloons, which we ended up saving to hang in the girls’ room. Win! I covered the table with a sparkly tablecloth (that we already had from Thanksgiving last year) and then used sparkly pom poms and confetti, as well as a mod-podged glitter 4 to spruce it up. (We’re talking like $4 in supplies here!)

I borrowed cake stands from friends until I had 5 different ones. Using chip board banner pieces that I found at the craft store and a little bit of leftover chalkboard paint, I was able to create some cute chalkboard food labels so that everyone could see the different flavors of donuts. Even better, I can save these to reuse for another party! (Also, chalk markers are amazing! How have I not owned one of these before?!) I also made some fun party hats for all of the kids to wear. I found some hot pink party hats on Amazon, and then spiffed them up a bit with glittery ribbon and sparkly pom-poms!
diy-donut-balloons donut-party donut-markers Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset I always like there to be something for party guests to do at a birthday party, so that it’s not just about eating or opening presents. I saw this adorable donut pumpkin idea online a few weeks ago, and knew we had to make them at the party! We found tiny donut-shaped pumpkins at Aldi for super cheap, and bought enough for all the kids at the party. A few days before the donut party, I painted them pink and brown to look like iced donuts. During the party, the kids used tiny pom-poms and bits of pipe cleaners to glue on their “sprinkles.” It was a hit and it seemed like every age group loved the activity! (If you were doing this party in the spring or summer, you could easily make donuts out of something else! There are lots of cute ideas on Pinterest.)

donut-pumpkins donut-party-donuts Like I said, the party was a hit! I mean, who doesn’t love a good donut?! It’s the perfect party theme for any age. (Yeah, I’d totally be down with a donut party for MY birthday next year!) If you plan a donut-themed party, I’d love to see some pics! Tag me (@lacystroess) on Instagram so I can see! Happy party-planning!!! xoxo, L

Looking for more party ideas? See all of our parties HERE!

Addie is 4

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset On Monday, our Addie girl turned 4! We celebrated the day exactly how she wanted… Marshmallow cereal for breakfast, a morning spent at the park, lunch at Shakespeare’s Pizza, and a bonfire with hot dogs and strawberry cake for dinner. Part of me can’t believe she’s already 4. This one made me a mama. She changed our lives more than she’ll ever know. On the other hand, we have 3 kids, so how is she only 4?! Yesterday, I sat down with Addie and did a little birthday interview so we’d always remember her favorite things from this time of her life. Some of her answers were so sweet, and others? Kind of hilarious! Here’s Addie, at 4 years old…

Favorite color? Red

Favorite food? Barbecue

Favorite fruit? Bananas

Favorite song? All About That Bass

Favorite book? Every-Day Dress Up

Favorite movie? Frozen

Favorite toy? Blocks

Favorite thing to do? Play with my sister

Favorite person? Daddy

Something you love? Making pies

Something that makes you happy? Picking flowers

Who is your best friend? Cayman

What do you want to do when you grow up? Help people

So sweet! I had to chuckle at the making pies thing. Ha! Do you have any birthday traditions in your family? How do you like to celebrate? We are having a donut party this weekend with Addie’s family and friends! She is so excited about it! I’ll make sure to share all about it next week. xoxo, L