The Real Housewives of Bucks County is now East Coast Creative!
Make sure you update your favorites to www.eastcoastcreativeblog.com to keep seeing new content! Thanks! -Monica and Jess

Monday, February 28, 2011

{Grow}

I can't really take credit for this post... I have my awesome husband to thank for making me realize that tracking our kids' growth is really important and special.  I don't have to tell you that kids grow up way too fast... I'm pretty sure I see a mom a day posting something on Facebook about their kids growing up too quickly. 

Since we can't do anything to reverse the growing process, I figure we should embrace it and take tremendous joy in watching our four children grow (even if it seems to be right before our eyes.)  So of course, we take about 1500 pictures a month of our kids (I plan to fill my retirement years with sorting through millions of jpeg files), but one other thing we started about 5 years ago is measuring our kids. We celebrate and measure on birthdays and half  birthdays! It's amazing to see how much growth and change there can be in 6 months and, of course, our kids love that we know their 1/2 birthday and make a big deal out of it. 

So this is where Eric comes in... You may or may not know that I struggle with anything to do with routines, organization, and all that mom stuff... Enter the Outlook Reminder! Eric simply sends me a reminder that goes off on each of the kids' measurement days and voila...semi-organized mom!
We recently moved into our new home and we weren't sure what to do about the measurement door.  We knew we could replace the door and take it with us, but it was a weird size door, so that seemed silly.  So, we ran a big risk and just took a million pictures of it so that we could transfer the measurements to the new house.  We moved in and initially thought we'd put them on another door frame or somewhere in the master bedroom, but then I decided I wanted it to be more a part of our home.  I had a plan in my mind, and thanks to Uppercase Living was able to order numbers and make my plan a reality. 

This is in our 2nd floor hallway... We all walk past it every day and from the foyer below you can see the pictures and the M. 

I'm not usually one for artwork with phrases for living, but I saw this tree art at a store in New England and something about it really struck a chord in me.  I decided it might not be my style, but the words (I'll stick them in a comment) are simple and something I'd like my kids to read and to see for the next years of their lives.  The M was gold from Hobby Lobby, but a little spray paint and she was perfect.  The line is just painted on the wall with leftover grey (of course) paint. 

Worked from the photo of the old door... I had close-ups too...
I love comparing the kids and how tall they were at certain ages... Kaden was about 1 1/2 inches ahead of Kenzie when they were both 5 1/2...  Of course that earned some bragging rights!

The finished product.  I've had the chart on the wall for months, but just finally added the measurements this week and, since I did, the kids have been checking to see if they've grown, and have been reading all their measurements.  I'm so very happy with the results... even if there are dirty little fingerprints all over it already!

Even though I have my growth chart already made, I scoured the web to find some of the coolest options for under $100.  Most of these are around $60 and would be something really special to add to your home.  Even if you've been using a door frame or closet that no one sees, maybe consider transferring it over to a place that your kids and company can enjoy!


This Miss Natalie jute cloth measurement kit is adorable.  This one is super popular, but I think the paper tags would become part of one of Kira's next craft projects! 

This modern, bold design would make a huge impact on a room.  Oh, it also comes in 40 colors! Love it!
Add a little whimsy with a modern tree and a little bird
These simple charts have a European flair and I love how the numbers get larger as they go up...
The measurements are in Metric and English Units, which I think adds a little something... I also lean towards modern lines, so this one appeals to me. (slight confession... this one is over $100, but I liked it too much not to include it!)
Cute for a child's room or playroom
Believe it or not, this is a DIY project.  Here's the link and everything is free and printable. Score!

I'll finish this rather long post with a little poem  by Dianne Loomans.  Yes, kind of unlike me, but it made me stop and think about my role as a parent because before I know it they'll be all GROWN up...

If I had my child to raise over again
I'd build self-esteem first and the house later
I'd finger paint more and point the finger less
I would do less correcting and more connecting
I'd take my eyes off my watch and watch with my eyes
I would care to know less and know to care more
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites
I'd stop playing serious and seriously play
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars
I'd do more hugging and less tugging
I'd see the oak tree in the acorn more often
I would be firm less often and affirm much more
I'd model less about the love of power
And more about the power of love.

So whether you make a growth chart or not, still take a moment to stop today and just enjoy the little people God has allowed you to grow for Him. 


Tip Junkie handmade projects

Let’s Really Support Each Other:
Linked up to: The Creative Girl Sumo's Sweet Stuff



Friday, February 25, 2011

Fab Find Friday


Welcome to Tabora Farm and Orchard

If you are a Bucks County native, chances are that you already visit Tabora Farm & Orchards regularly. However, I’ve met too many people who have never heard of this gem of a store. Located near Peace Valley park, Tabora is truly a Bucks County experience. Both Monica and I agree that this is a great place, but I’m not joking when I say that this is my FAVORITE little store in our area. As soon as you walk in, the delicious smells take over. They have a gourmet deli, an awesome bakery (they made my wedding cake!), a little gift store, and they recently opened their own wine cellar.

Deli and Market

Every season offers a new reason to visit Tabora. In the fall, you can pick apples, taste and purchase their unbelievable apple cider, and get gourds, pumpkins and mums to decorate your porch.


In the Spring and Summer, they have tables and adirondack chairs placed next to their orchards where you can enjoy your lunch, and concerts in the evenings in the gardens out back. My must-have item from the deli is the egg salad sandwich on pumpernickel bread with horseradish mayonnaise. To die for! C1 and Hunky love the homemade cider donuts (if you can get them warm, you wont' regret it!) You don’t want to miss this great store.


Also, I had to include this adorable picture of Monica's son Kaden on a class field trip to Tabora Farm.


It’s Friday, so why not make a trip there this weekend and see what we're talking about!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

{Be Intentional}


This is my motto for the year 2011. Lest you think I am superwoman, super-organized, or even know what I'm talking about, this is my first time ever that I've chosen a motto for the year. I have just been feeling motivated to do more with the beautiful, crazy life I've been blessed with. I'll be sharing more about this in future posts, but there are endless possibilities and ways to be intentional. Remember the story in the Bible (Matthew 25) that talks about the men who were given talents by their master, and what they did with those talents? I want to be like the one who used his talents well, did more than was expected with them and turned them into something great. If everything in this life has been given to us, including our abilities and passions, then why I have I been so selfish with mine? You can be sure you'll be hearing more from me about this!


For now, I'm going to share with you one practical, less abstract way I am trying to be more intentional. It's with regular meal-planning and grocery shopping. If you know me, then you know I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants girl. I realized, however, that this was not serving my family well, nor was it managing my money well, in the area of meal planning. There are a lot of reasons that planning meals with variety and regularity don't come easily to me, but let me tell you what has been working for me.

First, I begged and pleaded with my friends on facebook, and with family members, scoured my cookbooks, and hunted online for excellent, tasty recipes that met my very simple criteria.
1. Must have very few ingredients.
2. Must have common, not-too-difficult to find, or strange (I am an adventurous eater, but I'm in the minority in my family) ingredients.
3. Can be crock-pot-able (is that a word? If not, it is now.)

Secondly, I put those recipes in an easy to find, and easy to read form. For me, I picked up a set of color-coded 3x5 cards that were already on a ring-binder. Each colored card has a category (poultry, beef, side dish, fish etc).

Thirdly, (this one is so silly, but it works for me), I put a peelable chalkboard tile on my refrigerator (a gift from my sister, but you can find them here), where I write the next day's meal. This keeps me on task, and makes me less likely to be lazy about making the meal that night.


I do a big grocery shopping trip twice a month (we do run to the store weekly for things like eggs, milk and bread). I plan ahead for 4 meals a week (8 dinners total for the 2 week period), because usually this is how many nights a week we actually sit at home together for dinner. Then I make my shopping list and shop accordingly. I've been doing this for one month, so far, and it has been great! Hunky has loved the variety and I actually feel that I'm being really effective with my time and money! Hooray!

Here are a couple places that might help you in your quest to be a meal-planning guru!

 E-mealz - sign up for $1.25 per week, and get specific meal plans, shopping lists and more for any size family (Bonus: if you have special dietary needs, they'll give you a plan for that as well.)



Meal Planning Mommies give tips for meal planning, and lots of easy, kid-friendly meals, perfect for busy families.

Crystal and Co. is my personal favorite site for all things related to meal planning. From Menu Planning Mondays, to how to display your menus, to recipes, she's got the whole thing covered! And maybe, just maybe, I would be a little better at menu-planning if I had something cute like this (below) to display my meals on. You may be seeing something like this from me in the near future. Stay tuned!


All Things Beautiful

What's your method for meal planning? Organized or Fly-by-the-Seat-of-your-Pants?



Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wallpaper Wednesday

So, what comes to mind when you hear the word Wallpaper?
Is it something along the lines of this? 
Well, guess what?  Your grandma's wallpaper is gone and its been replaced with chic, stylish designs that can add major drama to a space.  Still hesitant because of horror stories of hanging it, removing it, etc?? Maybe this post will change your mind...

Welcome to my foyer...
I knew I wanted something with BIG impact, but I was pretty set on stenciling the area... Well, after about five failed attempts at getting a crisp result, I started my hunt for the perfect paper.  This search opened my eyes to the wonderful world of modern, trendy wallpaper. 
Let me introduce you to Graham & Brown ... the leader in AMAZING wallpaper. 
Thanks to this cutting edge company, my foyer now looks like this...
Although I'm not 100% finished with the space, I'm already completely in love with it! The wallpaper makes a statement that I never could have achieved with paint.  It took about 2 hours to hang the paper and it was a two person job, but it was really simple and not nearly as hard as I had expected. 
Before
After
Check out some of these online wallpaper companies:
Amy Butler, is known for fabrics, but came out with some amazing lines of wallpaper as well. 
These colors and styles are fresh, yet could still be subtle...

This wall doesn't even need art because of the dramatic paper
Used as an accent wall in a nursery

This paper has an Imperial Trellis feel and finishes the bedroom beautifully
Upper East Side contemporary bedroom

Still not sure you're ready for an entire wall? 
It can be used as an accent when hung and finished off with simple moulding.

The possibilities are endless. I pretty much want to paper my entire house, but I'm showing restraint and I'm only going to do a few rooms.  This CRAZY paper is coming soon to an office near me...



I might add a punch of color (you can paint it, color it, etc.) and some black and white photos of my favorite little people. 

So, I'm clearly a fan of wallpaper. How about you? 
What spaces could you envision some amazing paper going up in your home? 

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Group Date

For my rookie post, I thought I’d stick with something I know and love… community.  Community to me is all about relationships, REAL relationships… Remember how in college (yes, think way back) there was a group of friends that you always did fun stuff with on the weekends? Movies, Concerts, Cow Tipping (okay we tried it once just to say we had.)? Well, why do we so often assume that once we’re married and have kiddos, that we have to give up on regularly getting together with friends and we don’t make time for fun, non-kid activities? Don’t get me wrong, I love all the kid-friendly stuff we do with other families, but come on, how awesome does a night out with people you love, doing something out of the norm, and filled with adult conversation sound? To me it sounds heavenly and that’s why we started Group Dates a few years ago. Had Jess and I known we’d be blogging about it, we might have coined a trendier name, but for now- Group Date it is…

Group Date:

What? A once a month (ok maybe we’re slightly inconsistent, but once a month's the goal) couples date with friends.

Where? Anywhere! One couple is assigned to plan the date- the more fun and creative the better. Get us out of the suburban Applebee’s and a Movie routine!

The Real Housewives of Bucks County are going to help you start your own Group Dates (umm, so open to a cooler name for these.) Each month we’ll give you an idea for a new outing that you can invite your posse to. Here are just a few ideas to get you thinking…

Rock it Out...
I recently took my daughter to a birthday party here, and while watching the kids climb like crazy and have a blast, we decided this would be a perfect group date! Our competetive group of men will love creating challenges and showing off, and the girls, well... we're just thankful we're already married before we allow our husbands to see us strapped into the completely unflattering waist harnesses.  We think this is a great group date because it's active, it's throwback-to-your-childhood type fun, and it's super affordable. 
We also usually like to plan an activity and then follow it up with dinner so there's time to talk and see what's going on in eachother's lives.  There are so many great restaurants in Doylestown, but for this date you'd want to choose something that's on the caual side.  Our guys love Smokin' Lil's and its casual atmosphere would be perfect for some hungry mountain climbers!

Just a Taste...
For those with slightly more sophisticated tastes, a group wine tasting makes a great Group Date.  There are so many vineyards in Bucks County that we'll do a future feature on all the places to visit, but we took our posse to Sand Castle Winery in December and had a fun time tasting, learning, and most likely making our host crazy with our lack of wine knowledge! We know a wine tasting isn't for everyone, but if it fits in with your group of friends, it can be a fun way to learn something new.
A wine tasting tour would better fill a whole evening- pick a few vineyards and visit them all.  Choose the families with the coolest swagger wagons and pile in together.  Remember, REAL community... it doesn't matter if there are old sippy cups, or crushed golfish in the seats.
 Real Housewives of BC's December Group Date

Don’t let yourself be convinced that you don’t have time, or this is just a kid phase of your life and you’ll spend time with friends later in life. Make a commitment to increasing community and fostering the relationships with the people God has put in your life. Get out there and plan a Group date!

What are some dates your friends would enjoy? 

A Statement Piece

 

Tap, tap, tap. Is this thing on? It is? Ok then, let's get started. I thought that for my very first post I would talk about my absolute favorite piece of furniture in our house. That this furniture became my favorite happened as kind of a wonderful accident. When hunky and I were moving into our current home, we realized we need to fill up some of the additional space we were acquiring with new furniture. If you know me, I am not too flashy, enjoy neutral colors and like traditional furniture with clean lines. However, I wanted an accent chair for our living room. We came across a lovely paisley fabric that was a bit more bold than the usual patterns I gravitate to. You know how you only get a 1x1 swatch of the fabric, and are supposed to be able to visualize the furniture piece with the fabric on it? Not all that easy, if you ask me. Well, we decided to go for it: put that pretty paisley all over that wingback, baby. And, what could have been an uh-oh-this-chair-is-ugly-but-cost-a-fortune-and-is-mine-no-matter-what chair, turned into one of the best things I've done in decorating. We've already made a bunch of memories on this chair, and some of my favorite pictures ever of C1 and C2 were taken on it.

See what I mean? Worth the investment just for these three pictures!
I did some searching and found some pretty amazing accent chairs. They make a huge difference in a room, don't they?

Gilded Chair
spaces design

I just love the navy and gold combination in this room, and the subtle tone on tone pattern on the chair.

Vanessa De Vargas  living room
living room design by los angeles interior designer Vanessa De Vargas

And be still my heart, the patterened rug and chair combination in this picture rock my world.

Pottery Barn

I love the simplicity of this chair and the fact that it adds a bit of texture, instead of a bold pattern. Not sure why, but it makes me think of spring.

So, what about you? Do you have a favorite furniture piece?