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Moving On Up!

I hope everyone is having the beautiful weather and great weekend that we are! As you may have seen mentioned earlier on the interweb, Painting Sunny is in the process of moving over to a new server and transitioning to self-hosting, which is exciting but a little confusing and anxiety-inducing as well. I think things are going well, so if you type in “www.paintingsunny.com” it should take you to the updated little site! However, while I’m in the process of transferring the actual domain name (again – excited but anxious here) I’ve discovered most Pinterest pins and other saved hyperlinks won’t lead you to the update site but rather to an error message. I apologize for any inconvenience, and as soon as I can get my new host to accept my name they should be right back to working!

As always, please let me know if you have any suggestions, ideas, or commiserations. It is quite the process, but I am hoping will mean I can offer my blog friends & family (that’s you!) an awesome experience while we’re hanging out together.

Xo, Dani


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#Swag For The Little Ones

I hope everyone had an awesomely relaxing and happy holiday weekend, at least for those in the States celebrating it! For that matter, I just hope everyone on the whole globe had an awesome weekend. World peace would be awesome, you know? Anyway, I’m taking a pause from my big blog transitioning week to actually post something. Yes, you heard read correctly – this is the week that this blog gets a makeover. She’ll be a whole new girl by the weekend, fingers crossed all goes well! So far, I’ve been using WordPress.com for free hosting which has been A.Maze.Ing, and it was super nice of them to let me basically sleep on their couch for free while I got this whole endeavor underway; but it is long overdue for me to go out on my own. It also means moving over to a whole new server and getting a bit of a new look, as well. Stay tuned!

If things get weird and glichy, I apologize in advance and totally appreciate your patience. Please cross your fingers for me. #technologyisscary

Aaaaanyway, let’s talk about some stuff. Like, literal stuff. The kind we buy for our kids. I’ve always been fascinated when I’ve read bloggers writing about their fav baby and kid items (like Bower Power and Young House Love), because it’s interesting how some items are to-die-for-could-never-live-without for one parent… and yet completely useless for another. I thought I would contribute to the convo, so without further ado, here are my fav baby and kid items of all time. BTW, this post is not sponsored at all… just my humble opinions.

For the Preschool+ Crowd

#Swag For The Little Ones, Fav Kid Gear | Painting Sunny

  1. Crayola My First Crayola Triangular Crayons (16 count), $4.05. These are cute, so much less likely to break, and I’ve successfully washed them off walls. A few times.
  2. Melissa & Doug Animal Magnets in a Box, $11.99. The best part about these is that the whole back of each magnet is coated, instead of having a little magnetic choking hazard glued to the back like the old-fashioned ones I grew up with. They have held up for over 2 years for us, and still adorn our fridge today.
  3. Munchkin Shampoo Rinser, $6.00. We just moved into a place with two bathtubs, and the kids are reveling in it. Just a few months ago I picked this up and it is worth way more than the 6 bucks I paid for it. It is genius with no parts or grooves to get mildewy and need cleaned, a soft edge that bends against your baby’s head to direct the water away from their eyes, and even comes in pretty colors. Swoon.
  4. Nubby Super Spout Easy Gripper (2 count), $7.11. We are just transiting out of these and into straight-up water bottles, but I couldn’t even tell you how many Nubbys we owned over the years. They were so easy to transition to after a bottle, and the price is right too.
  5. mabel label’s Basic Kit, $34.95. I am def adding a new pack to my shopping list for this year, since I’ve never tried the shoe or clothing labels and am convinced they will change my life. We have used the little labels on school supplies, lunch containers, sports equipment, and countless other things. Who knows how much money it has saved me in lost sippy cups and rain boots?
  6. EasyLunchboxes (Set of 4), $13.95. If you’ve been around Painting Sunny awhile, you know that I have quickly become devoted to these lunchboxes. They aren’t just a lunchbox, they are a lifestyle. Affordable, well-made and kid-friendly… join me on this bandwagon.
  7. SweetPea3 2 GB MP3 Player for Kids, $84.88. This was a holiday gift a few years ago from the Grandparents, and although the price is an investments I also can’t imagine traveling anywhere at length without one. The kids use it in the house or on road-trips, and it’s a great break from DVDs to keep them entertained. The sound quality is good, they can work it themselves, and I’m pretty convinced it’s indestructible.
  8. Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Figure Eight Train Set, $22.96. Of all the wooden train sets out there, this one has my seal of approval. It beats out almost any competitor in price, is compatible with other brands, and the track is reversible which is awesome. Gotta love M&D, am I right?
  9. My Big Sticker Book of Nursery Rhymes, $19.10. We have a variety of these (courtesy of the grandparents) and I see our son toting them around the house regularly. The stickers are easy to move, the book is really well made, and the book itself makes good reading.
  10. Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 Car Seat, $138.95. Our entire backseat is full of these right now. Literally. Both kids use them, with the 3.5 year old using it with the full harness still, and the almost-7 year old using the high-back booster option. It is seriously convertible, and the price is really appealing when you take a look at the car seat market. We’ve had one for 4 years now that is still holding up.

With my own being 3.5 and almost 7, this is definitely the stage we are in and loving it. I miss the cute little baby toes, but whole new worlds of toys, decorations, and adventures opens up with you hit that 3+.

Now, in reverse chronological order…

For the Baby & Infant Peeps

#Swag For The Little Ones, Fav Kid Gear | Painting Sunny

  1. Carter’s Fleece Baby Blanket, $29.95. Ours has duckies on it, and is one of the most valuable positions in this house. Blankie is a family member, and the couple times we thought he was lost I think I would have paid 1k to get him back. Our son still sleeps with his every night, it consoles him when he is sad or tired, and it was a major relief he began self-soothing pretty early on.
  2. Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo, $99.00. This thing entertained two kids for us, and still was in almost-new shape when I re-sold it to a consignment shop for almost what I paid for it. It was hard to believe, but it was just well-made and both kids loved it in that stage where they want to be up looking around but need some support. No lie, it takes up some square footage of your living room… but if frees up your arms, so who can be made at that?
  3. BabyBjörn Baby Carrier Original, $71.99. Okay, we had the plain old black carrier, but if they had this pretty option when I was pregnant the first time I totally would have sprang for it. Of all the carriers I’ve tried out, this tride-and-true version worked best with our little ones who always seemed like little furnaces and hated being snuggled up too close for too long.
  4. Vicks Behind Ear Thermometer, $29.89. When our son was 2 we reached that point that the cheap little armpit thermometers were just not doing the trick… and when you think your kid has a fever, it isn’t a time you want to be frustrated trying to work something with tiny buttons. This was a great investment for our whole family.
  5. Ju-Ju-Be Be Right Back Diaper Bag, $139.95. Full disclosure, I did not have this actual backpack diaper-bag but I totally wish I did. We did go the back-pack style route with our diaper bag (which I can’t find online now) however, and were so glad we did. It kept our arms more free, saved us back-aches, and made organizing items much easier. Sigh – this one is so cute, someone please buy it so I can live vicariously…
  6. Philips Avent BPA Free Soothie Pacifier (2 count), $3.20. Our son was in the NICU, so came back with some of these famous green Soothie pacifiers. They were the only binkies he would use, and I loved that they were affordable, easy to clean, and didn’t have parts that would break easily.
  7. Munchkin Deluxe Dishwasher Basket, $3.82. I’d never lived in a home with a dishwasher until our son was born, and it was one of those moments when the sky opens up and you hear a church choir singing. This basket was ran through our dishwasher daily, and held an impressive amount.
  8. Panasonic Automatic 3 Cup (Uncooked) Rice Cooker, $29.95. Yep, you’re thinking I added this to the wrong list aren’t you? Well, HA! It totally belongs. I made all of our baby food at home for the kids, and it was much more healthy and affordable than buying the little jars. It was also super easy, which I think a lot of people don’t realize. But what made it affordable was that I did not buy one of those fancy baby-food making systems. In my opinion, they basically just do the same thing as a steamer. I used this Panasonic rice cooker (it also steams veggies) for both kids, and still use it for rice cooking today.
  9. Bright Starts Lots of Links, $4.99. Who doesn’t end up with a million of these? They are great for carseats, strollers, those playmat things… We had them everywhere.
  10. Jeep Liberty Sport X All-Terrain Stroller, $179.99. This is the piece de resistance. It has a built-in music player, can go on basically any terrain, it’s basket holds everything… It’s just amazing. I’ve owned a few strollers, but after we had this one I would never betray it. If my husband picked one favorite baby item, I’m pretty certain it would be this. Hold on, let me go ask him. Yep, he said the stroller.

Anyone else cook all their own baby food? Completely disagree with me about the fancy baby-food machines? Love your stroller so, so much you refuse to give it up? Want to label everything your kid owns?

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Links to products on Amazon may be affiliate links. Keepin’ it real.


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The School Lunch Round-Up: End of Summer Fast Approaching

Summer may be coming quickly to a close, but the lunches just keep coming! With a soon-to-be-1st-grader in summer day-camp and a preschooler doing his thing in preschool, every evening means taking a few minutes in the kitchen to ensure they are well-fed little ones the next day. With one swimming sometimes twice a day and the other being a 3-year-old… they both have a lot of energy they need kept fueled.

After sharing these first five lunches and then this update with five more, I noticed a trend and decided to just go with it. Thus begins a series of school lunch round-ups, brought to you at the end of every month when I pick five fab examples and share them with ya’ll.

As always, I’m using Easylunchboxes, the Mini-Dippers by the same brand, and Wilton Reusable Baking Cups. Heart them all so much!

School Lunch Round-Up: blueberry oatmeal muffins,  colby jack cheese cubes, a banana half, Kashi 7 Grain crisps, and baby-cut carrots | Painting Sunnyblueberry oatmeal muffins,  colby jack cheese cubes, a banana half, Kashi 7 Grain crisps, and baby-cut carrots

School Lunch Round-Up: mix of white and blue tortilla chips, seasoned black beans, colby jack cheese cubes, kiwi slices, and red grapes halved | Painting Sunnymix of white and blue tortilla chips, seasoned black beans, colby jack cheese cubes, kiwi slices, and red grapes halved

School Lunch Round-Up: whole wheat English muffin PBJ (or PB alternative), Chobani yogurt tube, blueberries from the local Farmer's Market, and thinly sliced cucumber | Painting Sunnywhole wheat English muffin PBJ (or PB alternative), Chobani yogurt tube, blueberries from the local Farmer’s Market, and thinly sliced cucumber

School Lunch Round-Up: mini-bagel with butter and strawberry jam, baby-cut carrots, Chobani yogurt tube, watermelon chunks, and cucumber chunks | Painting Sunnymini-bagel with butter and strawberry jam, baby-cut carrots, Chobani yogurt tube, watermelon chunks, and cucumber chunks

School Lunch Round-Up: slices of naan bread, hummus (in container), string cheese, sliced peach, and baby-cut carrots | Painting Sunnyslices of naan bread, hummus (in container), string cheese, sliced peach, and baby-cut carrots

I’m going for at least one vegetable and fruit every day, whenever possible, as well as getting a solid protein in there. These lunches are vegetarian as Haven doesn’t eat meat and they are both fine without it for lunch anyway.

Noticed there are three snacks there too? Haven’s day-camp asks that we send two snacks (one for morning, one for afternoon) and Diallo wants one in his lunchbag too, just for the sake of fairness. He usually eats his cereal bar in the morning on the way to school, since his preschool actually provides snacks twice a day – usually grown in their own school garden or from a local farmer or bakery!

Want more inspiration? Check out more lunches with me on Pinterest or peruse the EasyLunchBlog!

Anyone else go through naan bread in their family like crazy? Eating three peaches a day while they are in season? Cutting up cucumbers in a variety of styles to entice your children?

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Links to products on Amazon may be affiliate links. Keepin’ it real.


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Read & Eat: Almostkinda Shrimp Gumbo & The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

You may recall that one time and the other time that I paired up and reviewed a recipe and a book in one sitting. Because nothing beats scarfing something down while flipping through some awesome pages. So let’s all take a break from analyzing the VMA awards and Googling what twerking is. Please.

Disclaimer: Depending on the food you’re eating, take care when turning pages. Loaning out a book with cheeto-fingerprint-corners can be awkward.

Read & Eat: Almostkinda Shrimp Gumbo & A Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz | Painting Sunny

Yes, I love my soups and my novels… Almost equally. Not sure which one edges the other out, but in this case, it was pretty much a dead heat. I’m excited to share with you Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Woa and a maybe-not-all-that-authentic-but-really-yummy Shrimp Gumbo. Let’s hit the books first.

Read & Eat: Almostkinda Shrimp Gumbo & A Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz | Painting Sunny

Yes, this is when I was dueling books at the airport with a somewhat strange pairing.
It totally worked though.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

4 star rating.png

If you’re in the mood for a novel that is both substantial and engaging, here it is. Every family’s story is both a comedy and a tragedy, and every individual is influenced by their heritage in ways we often don’t understand. This highlights the balance in one family and the insight into what drives us from one generation to the next.

Sometimes with a determined grimness and sometimes with a smirking humor, Diaz baldly lays out historical backgrounds and cultural experiences as a foundation for characters that feel very real. It’s rare to find a book that blends modern experiences so comfortably with a sense of ancestry and deep-rooted ways. There is perseverance, fear, and destiny – Beli, Lola, and Oscar are always moving from something, towards something and through something at the same time.

With multi-perspective storytelling, it can easily feel jarred and confused; somehow this novel manages to avoid that. Yunior serves as an anchor while the books moves fluidly through several characters, stories, and time periods to create a more rounded understanding of the family as a whole. Get 1/3 of a way through the book, and you’re sunk into it – you’ll feel compelled to stay up late and finish.

If you’re into this kind of thing, might I suggest some other fav’s of mine such as House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson, and Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver.

Okaybees, let’s get to the food!

Read & Eat: Almostkinda Shrimp Gumbo & A Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz | Painting Sunny

Sources: Pinterest and Original

Yes, this took a little bit of time to make. Consider it an investment. This stuff is very customizable, delicious, filling, and even freezes awesomely. Try it asap with some brown rice (not only a healthy choice, but a little more substantial when paired with the goodness of gumbo) and some fresh-baked rolls. Wegman’s were responsible for ours, of course.

Check out the original source, and keep in mind how easily you can make it your own. I changed a few things up, myself…

  1. Instead of being a seafood gumbo, mine was simply a shrimp one. Shrimp was a more affordable choice, and one everyone in our fam will eat a little more readily.
  2. I skipped the green bell peppers – I don’t eat them.
  3. I used vegetable stock instead of water/seafood stock. I keep vegetable bullion cubes in the house at all times since they are so useful.
  4. I skipped the boiled ham, as two out of our four don’t eat meat (but do eat fish & seafood).
  5. I use one of these fresh seasoning tubes in EVERYTHING as they are amazing, instead of dried herbs, etc.
  6. Obviously, I added cayenne pepper. You know me.

I give this recipe 4 stars, as well.

Read & Eat: Almostkinda Shrimp Gumbo & A Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz | Painting Sunny

My little guy even tried some out. What a champ!

Anyone else reading Junot Diaz? Think cayenne pepper is the finishing touch to pretty much anything? Finally watching Orange Is The New Black? I’m obsessed.

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Links to products on Amazon may be affiliate links. Keepin’ it real.


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Click: iPhone Photos Every Day

Just a little over two weeks ago, I launched a project for myself to try and stop and take note of something in my daily life, each day. My tool is my camera phone (I have an iPhone 5, thanks to a tech-savvy husband) and I’m grateful for the awesome technology I have access to, as well as all the little pretty things that exist in my daily grind so each day I’m snapping at least one pic and sharing it. At a little over the halfway point in my challenge, I updated a page here with all of the daily pics, but below I’m shared a few of my favs so far.

Join my over on the Pinterest, the Facebook, or the Twitter where I’m posting them each and every day!

iPhone Daily Photography Project Update | Painting Sunny

iPhone Daily Photography Project Update | Painting SunnyMy daughter’s little feet. Well, at almost 7 years old they are becoming quickly less little.

iPhone Daily Photography Project Update | Painting SunnyAre those purple square totally out of control? Out local Farmer’s Market is amazing.

iPhone Daily Photography Project Update | Painting SunnyMy baby, just a little longer. He is sucking on his two middle fingers (as he always is) in case you were wondering. Blankey is a family member, here.

iPhone Daily Photography Project Update | Painting SunnyHomemade egg challah. Mmm.

iPhone Daily Photography Project Update | Painting Sunny

iPhone Daily Photography Project Update | Painting SunnyWhen she wanted to try calamari, I thought she’d stick with the chewy ring-style ones. Nope. The little tentacle-style ones were her fav and were promptly devoured.

iPhone Daily Photography Project Update | Painting Sunny

iPhone Daily Photography Project Update | Painting Sunny

iPhone Daily Photography Project Update | Painting Sunny

iPhone Daily Photography Project Update | Painting Sunny I’ll update the full gallery page when the project is over, and give ya’ll a head’s up! Thanks for sticking with me, and please share your own photo challenges! Anyone else impressed with purple produce? Have a kid that will eat on the wild-side?

Xoxo, Dani

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.


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Planning For The End (Table)

We moved to a new state/town/home eight weeks ago, which means we have been using a big, blue plastic storage tote as a end table for eight weeks now. Honestly, it was already there as we unpacked and approximately the right height to sit a lamp on so there you have it. It is time to get it together and get real with our tables.

Last week I popped into a local second-hand store here in Ithaca, the Finger Lakes ReUse, with only about 10 minutes to spare. I knew I was after side or end tables (someone tell me the difference?) and this one stood out in the crowd pretty quickly. Not because she’s beautiful (she isn’t) or flashy (definitely not) but because she was the somewhat-hard-to-find-size we need, very very sturdy, has rounded-corners (we have little foreheads running in circles nearby) and has a shelf below for storage.  At $35 she was a bit more than I would usually want to spend for a second-hand table, but she fit the bill so I took the leap.

Here she is in all her… well, not exactly glory yet…

Planning For The End (Table) | Painting Sunny

But she will get there. Oh yes, she will.

Planning For The End (Table) | Painting Sunny

The classic Paloma Pose. This is her version of blue steel. Yes, our children propped all those pullows up against the walls for some reason. I assume they were probably launching something across the room at them… sigh.

Planning For The End (Table) | Painting Sunny

There is a label on the bottom, but looking up the company online yielded zero results. You can kindajustbarely see in this photo the underside of the top of the table which I think shows the original color of the wood and which was actually quite nice.

It isn’t good wood, just veneer, and is a bit dry and the finish is not in great condition. So it is slated to be refinished for sure. I’m brainstorming ideas, so please let me know if you think I’m on the right track or totally bananas. Anyone else just get that Gwen Stefani song stuck in their heads? No? Just me?

I’ve found some good Pinspiration (not all of the pics linked are of tables, so you have to use your imagination a bit).

Perhaps a glossy black with gold dipped legs like this?

Or an ultramarine blue like this?

You all know I’ve been in a Mid-Century mood, so maybe a nice avocado like this? I’m afraid that might be hard to coordinate, but would be a little unique. The green table linked here is gorgeous too… the color is so bold!

In the meantime, I’ll see what the Mister thinks, get it all gussied painted up, and show it off!

Anyone else doing 10-minute-or-less thrift store shopping? Have a cat with a photo-op problem? Want to dip some stuff in gold?

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.


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A Mid-Century Modern Mood

It has been a long minute since we have had a mood board up in here, and as I have been spending some time daydreaming about the day I can design a whole living room for myself and freely DIY/buy/magically procure everything I want for it, I thought maybe we could wistfully daydream together. And lately, I’ve been in a very mid-century modern mood.

In case you are curious or just a mega nerd, “Mid-Century modern is an architectural, interior, product and graphic design that generally describes mid-20th century developments in modern design, architecture and urban development from roughly 1933 to 1965.” – brought to you by Wikipedia.

If I could wave a magic wand, this would be the result:

Mid-Century Moodboard | Painting Sunny

  1. Mid century modern custom address sign by Daddy’s simple signs, $75
  2. Bentwood Pendants by West Elm, $168
  3. Mid century poster print, MIES’S PIECES geometric shapes, artists giclée print by visual philosophy, $24.99
  4. Spectral Floor Lamp by inmod, $430 (on sale)
  5. Mid-Century Danish Modern Dresser by Revitalized Artistry, $975
  6. Madeline Chair by Urban Outfitters, $379
  7. Martini Side Table – Silver by West Elm, $149
  8. Sheepskin Rug, Ivory by Pottery Barn, $79-$179
  9. 2-piece dahlia candle-holder set by CB2, $19.95
  10. Danish Modern Side Table by Urban Outfitters, $179
  11. Jester vase by CB2, $49.95
  12. Night and Day Convertible Sofa by Urban Outfitters, $649

My partner-in-all-things-life is very much into clean, new, modern design while I like to blend that pretty evenly with eclectic, vintage pieces. Mid-century and Danish modern design is one place I think we could meet in the middle, so I’ve found my eye catching on it more and more as inspiration.

Are some of the items above major-splurges? Yes. Obvi. My budget could not stretch to create this room, but a girl can dream! In reality, there are some steals linked up above too (like that almost-too-cool giclee print) and for the rest I would DIY or bargain-hunt to find similar looks.

Need more inspiration? Books are a good place to start.

Mid-Century Modern: Interiors, Furniture, Design Details by Bradley Quinn

Atomic Ranch Midcentury Interiors by Michelle Gringeri-Brown

Charles & Ray Eames: 1907-1978, 1912-1988 Pioneers of Mid-Century Modernism by Gloria Koenig (this would make a gorgeous coffee-table book!)

Some other inspiring articles & round-ups include…

the nest’s Mid-Century Modern Decor Finds Under $200

Dwell’s Mid-Century’s Greatist Hit’s

HGTV’s Add Midcentury Modern Style to Your Home

Anyone else feeling the Mid-Century Modern Vibe? Kinda think Danish people must be really cool? Surprised that Urban Outfitter’s furniture had such a classic look?

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Links to products on Amazon may be affiliate links. Keepin’ it real.