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Very Inspiring Blogger Award Nominations (My First Time Nominating Peeps)

Thank you to Anjana from At The Corner Of Happy & Harried for the very nice nomination for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! Wow, that felt like a run-on sentence. Because it was one. I’ve definitely read Anjana’s posts before – they are so sweet and her photos are always so bright and cheerful. Check out this sweet paper rose wreath she posted about! It has such a vintage feel, I love it.


I’ve never participated in nominations for this type of award before, so thought I would join the bandwagon!

For the Very Inspiring Blogger Award, here are the rules:

  1. Link back to the blogger who nominated you. (check!)
  2. Post the award image to your page. (see above!)
  3. Share 7 facts about yourself. 
  • I work full-time as a college administrator (and start at a new college on Monday!)
  • As of this week, I’ve lived in states that touch 3 sides of the USA mainland (north in Wisconsin, west in Oregon, east in New York.) Not sure I will make it to the Gulf Coast, though…
  • My cat is allergic to gluten and probably a bizillion other things. She eats expensive special food.
  • I add cayenne pepper to an insubordinate amount of food items. With every sprinkle I feel a little closer to my Cajun ancestry.
  • I know how to make some origami and balloon animals, and it isn’t as useful as one would think. Most likely nobody actually thought that.
  • I’m originally from Illinois but not Chicago.
  • My glasses are a serious prescription on one side and totally just glass on the other. When I wear contacts, I only wear one. If the monocle makes a comeback, someone let me know asap!

    4. Nominate 15 other blogs and inform them about it.

Thanks to all of my fav bloggers for the ongoing awesome content!


DIY Ceramic Animal Hall of Fame

Okay, this post is random and yet feels necessary. And okay, a bunch of them are not at all ceramic-looking and are gold or brass… that is just the current DIY climate. Hater’s gonna hate, but sometimes when there is a bandwagon you just have to jump on it. That sounded more confusing than I thought it would.

I present to you, The World Wide Web’s Best Ceramacized Animals.

I feel pretty confident that is a word.

DIY Ceramic Animal Hall of Fame | Painting Sunny

Can you believe it isn’t all owls? I’m just as shocked. But seriously, the fat little owl is probably my favorite.

1. DIY Animal Bookend by Natalme. Seriously, that is one cute hippo and the blue is so vibrant. My little boy would love one in his room, for suresies.

2. Do a Deer by Bower Power. How could this not be included, this deer is just so damn regal. Her Sexy Rexy post should get an honorable mention, as well.

3. Horse Squared by Young House Love. Obviously, YHL gets mentioned as they are my fav blog to obsess over follow. Still, these horse heads are unique in their bright color and more abstract design. I would love to stumble upon something like the before at my local thrift store! (No idea why that rhymed strangely.)

4. A Happier Ceramic Owl by A Swell Place to Dwell. This owl is bad ass now. I love the pink, too – my dream is to find some ceramic animals to spray paint, and for them to end up hot pink or coral or somewhere in between, so this one I was especially drawn too.

5. Spray-painted cockatoo by On My Honor. Honestly, I just never expected to see a spray-painted cockatoo. This one takes the prize for originality, and also for props in the picture. I love it.

6. Ceramic Owl Makeover by Teal and Lime. Yes, this one is my favorite. It looks so much like something from West Elm or Pottery Barn, I had to read the post twice. This owl has so much personality! I thought the owl craze might be about over, but this one should kick-start it again.

7. DIY Gold Elephant by The Eclectic Owl. Okay, this might be the most pinned thing in the universe it is so cool! Just wait until I get my hands on a plastic elephant. That sounded more violent than I meant. Anyway, I also love her very random collection of books put together and the fact that I believe I have read all of them at some point.

8. Updating X-Mas Decorations by Beautiful Haven. I first saw this on Better After, and while it is possibly the most random addition to this list (even more so than the cockatoo, since I’m pretty sure an elf isn’t an animal) I love how it turned out. And yes, I love that this blog is named Beautiful Haven since my own little daughter is named Haven and she is certainly beautiful. It is a cool elf, in any case. #I’mNotBiased

9. DIY Dollarstore White Lion Bookends by Sweet Suite Ten. I love projects that originate at the Dollar Store, and this is one of the best turnouts I’ve seen! They are just so perfectly spray-painted… Michelle, please come over to my house and help me with my technique?

10. Pottery Barn Inspired Easter Ceramics by First Lady of the House. I hope she runs across a bunny at some point, I would love to see how it turns out! These would be sweet in a nursery any time of year, not just at Easter. I love that duck that is lunging forward!

11. DIY Brass Figurines by Hi Sugar Plum. These are so cool, and I love how differently they each looked before! It’s like your own fancy  little zoo. On a random note, that lamp next to the giraffe is so gorgeous… I can’t stop staring.

Anyone else hanging desperately on to this ceramic animal trend? Scouring a thrift shop for a rabbit or giraffe, or just open to whatever animal may find you? Is this a random enough post? It’s a little obvious what I’ve been pinning, huh?

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Moving & Shaking (Okay, mostly just moving)

I can’t wait to get back to finishing some projects. Someone hand me a can of spray paint or fat quarter, stat! Anyone who has undergone a major relocation knows, it really does put a hold on a lot of things. Everything is in boxes and the days are filled with school registrations, address change cards, getting lost trying to find the grocery store on unfamiliar roads. Nothing can stop me from dreaming, though! I am all over Pinterest right now, planning what projects I will throw myself into the moment my sewing machine and paints arrive.

Meanwhile, we are settling into our new town and getting things in order. The Mr. has started work, preschool and day camp arrangements have been made, and I am gearing up for my own first day on the job. We’ve found an apartment and hopefully next week our things arrive from the movers and we can begin setting up house!

Update on the Move | Painting SunnySaying goodbye to one home and hello to another is bittersweet for all of us. I love this picture of the kids together, that my mother took during our last hour before we took off. Dennis and I were loading the car with the last of our things, so Mom walked the kids up to this little deck in our neighborhood that overlooks a pond, to keep them out of the fray. They might bicker like any siblings, but you can just see how much they love each other.

Update on the Move | Painting SunnyAs I mentioned earlier this week, the trip there was surprisingly smooth (I listed some of the lessons I learned). Really, as sweet and adorable as babies are, this preschool/early elementary age is awesome. Haven could occupy herself for significant amounts of time, and even Lo was reasonably self-sufficient. The cat was a little needy, on the other hand.

Update on the Move | Painting SunnyWe are temporarily staying in a university-owned apartment while we wait for our lease to begin/movers to arrive. It is so generous of the college, and the apartment has worked out great – it has a little yard so for the first time, the kids have a fenced-in outdoor area to play in! Blowing bubbles got them out for some fresh air. It is awesome. The little neighborhood is great, too – full of kids and playground equipment. Still, the kids are not used to sharing a room and it just isn’t our own beds, you know? We are really getting excited to get settled!

Update on the Move | Painting Sunny

One of the biggest tasks is keeping the kids occupied. As I confessed earlier, we accidentally packed all our books so before we could sign up for a library card (needed proof of address to do that) Lo and I hit up a used bookstore and stocked up on a few.

Update on the Move | Painting Sunny

Haven loved being able to read books aloud to her little brother at first… but when Llama Llama Red Pajama became an on-demand service she became a little less enthusiastic.

Update on the Move | Painting Sunny

We have also checked out some of Ithaca’s more proclaimed (at least by the people we know) family-friendly places to be. One of them was Buttermilk Falls, where we checked out the impressive cascades and the even more impressive playground equipment. Seriously, that is a cool park. Haven wanted to “introduce” the waterfall to everyone.

I wish I had a pic of the new apartment, but I didn’t think to snap one when we toured so that will come later. Where did we move from, though?

Update on the Move | Painting Sunny

I will miss this townhouse, for sure! It was in a fairly-quiet community, and had really remarkable landscaping. The square footage was huge, and most of the appliances were very nice. Every home has it’s pros and cons, though – I am most excited that our new place won’t have any stairs! I could use a break from having things always stacked on the bottom and top of them to be shuttled around, and worrying about the kid’s playing too recklessly at the top of them.

Just to go way-back old-school style, this was our first townhouse. It was a little builder-basic, very tight on space, and did not have quite as much curb-appeal, but it is where we brought Diallo home to as a baby, so it will always have a special place in my memory.

Update on the Move | Painting Sunny

Anyone else just settling into a new town and discovering what it has to offer? Learning a lot about working with moving companies? Getting a kid’s first library card? Lo was so excited!

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Road Trip Busy Boxes: Kid Travel

While we are happy to have reached our destination (Ithaca is Gorges!) and to be settling into our new town, the journey here was our first ever legit road trip with the kids. Stretched over two days, it was a grand total of 11 approximate hours on the road, not counting breaks for meals and to stretch… and to shop at Ikea. Whew. I am as surprised as anyone that it was, for the most part, pleasant/quiet/fast.

As we began packing for the trip, I pulled out a little canvas bin for each kid and set it aside to be a “busy box” for on the road. We didn’t buy these special; just re-purposed them from where they usually live on their bookshelves. Each day I added some things to the boxes as I came across coloring books, toys, or snacks I thought would be a good fit. The boxes had some items in common and some special items for each kid – specific to their developmental age and interests.

Items included in both boxes (shown in pics below):

  • Activity, sticker, and coloring books from each kids collection of favs
  • Snacks that were relatively un-messy and at least on the reasonable side of healthy
  • Each kid’s tablet
  • A “play pack” from the dollar store we had hidden for awhile
  • Some un-scratched DVDs (our car has a built-in DVD player which I didn’t realize when buying it, and which has been kind of crazy useful… also, we kept these up in the front with us)

Special thanks to our fabulous babysitter Lisha for the amazing gift bags she brought for them before we left! Quite a few of the items we packed for them on the road came from her. We miss her so much!

Road Trip Busy Boxes - Kid Travel | Painting Sunny

Special items we packed in Diallo’s (3.5 years old) busy box:

  • Those DIY travel activities I wrote about including popsicle stick picture puzzles, a color matching game, the blue case full of felt scenes, and the paper towel roll number game. (Spoiler: he just stuck the number matching stickers all over his face. That did not work out.)
  • A few little play dough and bubble stuff things we had around the house
  • Some packs of stickers someone gave us awhile back and I had tucked away
  • A Mickey Mouse watch our friend Laura picked up for Lo, and which I thought might be a fun surprise
  • A wooden toy car

Road Trip Busy Boxes - Kid Travel | Painting Sunny

Special items we packed in Haven’s (6.5 years old) busy box:

  • Haven’s “quiet game” felt dress-up girl with clothes. It is so cool, and stored in a little pink pencil case. (Thanks Aunt Norma!)
  • SweetPea3 MP3 player and charger (We LOVE this thing, which is a gift from the Grandparents quite awhile ago and is one of my favorite kid items ever. So worth it. It is one of these. This post is not sponsored.)
  • Washable markers and crayons (I like the My First collection from Crayola). Both kids used them, I just stored them in the older kid’s box.
  • A “nail art” kit from Haven’s Aunt Judy (we love you Judy!) from a little bit back, that Haven was saving for a special occasion.
  • A Junie B. Jones book – Haven has started reading these and is officially addicted! She spent quite a bit of the trip reading, so it was awesome.

What I Wish I’d Added:

  • Actual books that I or Haven could have read out loud. I totally meant to! How did we accidentally pack them all?! Some quick and cheerful books on hand would have been great.
  • More snacks. These kids eat a lot, and by the end of the first day we had burned through most of them. They originally had five or so each including granola bars, peanut butter crackers, cheerios, goldfish snacks, and some fruit straws. Next time I will double-up for those moments you just can’t find a restaurant for the next 20 miles.
  • Kid-friendly headphones… I never managed to find them before we left, and they hate wearing adult iPhone ones.
  • More batteries. Another thing I was too enthusiastic to pack and should have kept more on hand.

Road Trip Busy Boxes - Kid Travel | Painting Sunny

What else?

We decided early on that we would break the trip up into two days, so stopped in Pittsburgh for the night. Finding a cat-friendly hotel can be a challenge, but the hotel Marriott there accepted them with a fee and was conveniently located right along the interstate we were driving on and just 2 miles away from the Ikea we planned to move into shop at the next morning. The best stay-over tips I have post-trip are:

  • Check the whole hotel room before settling in and putting kids to bed in it. Unfortunately, our bathroom wasn’t in great working order (shower head held together by a rubber band, which is super weird). We just didn’t feel up to changing rooms by that point.
  • It is very much a personal choice, but we did make our cat more comfortable with a light sedative as we traveled. It was approved and prescribed by her veterinarian. Paloma does NOT travel well (broke off three of her claws on the last trip to the vet) so this was merciful for her. She slept some of it, was drowsy other parts, but giving her the pills was easy by just slipping part of one into a soft cat treat.
  • We are super-strict bed-time people, but we had to let that go while traveling. In fact, by the time we were in our hotel room with the luggage in place, it was 9:30PM and their bedtime routine usually starts at 7:30PM. Oy. Anyway, I just decided to throw in the towel and take them to the hotel pool anyway, just so they could get out some of the pent-up energy from being stuck in the car. SO WORTH IT. They weren’t in bed until 11:00PM, but fell right asleep.
  • I have never been so grateful for PBJs! At least for the kids (and occasionally for us) having a few basic foods with us like peanut butter, jelly, bread, cheese singles, small things of milk, and bananas meant food the kids were happy enough to eat. It cut down on restaurant expenses and filled in gaps when restaurants were closed or far away.

If we ever feel up for a long road trip again with these guys, I would totally try out this DIY Travel Lap Tray  from Prudent Baby, and these Road Trip Pillow Cases from Amazing Mae . Genius ideas, and I think it would help to have some new things to make each trip more novel for the kids, especially if there were multiple trips in one summer.

What do you think about wrapping up the activities like presents first? I’ve heard a lot of people suggest it, but I felt with all those treats, toys, and activities they were getting enough stuff and didn’t want to make them feel any more entitled. I’ve also heard of giving each kid a roll of quarters (if they are old enough not to swallow any, of course) and if they behave well they can keep the quarters to buy snacks. Thoughts? New ideas?

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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We are in the midst of our relocation to the beautiful (or “Gorges”, I’ve heard) city of Ithaca, New York. We are sad to leave Bloomington, Indiana and our fabulous friends behind but are so excited to be on this new adventure! It’s hard to DIY up the place with stuff in boxes, so please come back next week, when I hope to have some fabulous new posts for you, including what we packed to entertain the kids on the drive, what books have made travel much more enjoyable, and how the cat feels about the whole situation. Talk with you soon!



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Upping the Aww Factor: Colorful Cards From Kids

We may be 6 months away from Thanksgiving, but we have an awful lot to be thankful for. As we prepare to leave B-Town, we are grateful for the amazing teachers our children have had, the awesome friends who are sending us off with warm wishes, and the babysitter our children absolutely adore. Excuse me, I may be getting a little weepy.

For the past year, whenever we have had a special person we want to tell thanks, congrats, or just to share our love we have defaulted to letting the kids do it for us. There is something about a colorful messy message coming directly from some tots that ups the aww factor. It also distracts the children from crunching up goldfish crackers in an even layer on top of the coffee table.

Upping the Aww Factor: Colorful Cards From Kids | Painting Sunny

This evening, we put a few DIY cards together to say some last thank yous and goodbyes! We have actually been making a couple cards for people each week, so at this point it has been become an SOP for the kids.

Upping the Aww Factor: Colorful Cards From Kids | Painting Sunny

For tonight’s cards, I started out with two medium-sized pieces of poster board (can buy in a pack from a craft store for a few dollars). Grabbed two sheets and folded them lengthwise, then cut three cards out to make some large and square-ish shaped folded blank cards.

The advantage to the poster board is that it is affordable, large, and sturdy enough to  keep the card from being floppy. The disadvantage is that one side is shinier and slicker than the other, so be sure to let any paint or markers dry completely before handling. Ours got a little smeary, but I don’t mind it adding to the imperfectly-perfect-made-by-kids affect.

A Criminal Minds marathon was nice enough to record itself on the DVR, so last night I sat down in front of the telly and prepped the cards so they would be ready for a post-school activity today. I just grabbed a permanent marker and wrote a message on the front of each card at an angle (to add some visual interest) and a little note on the inside as well. Some of the cards were getting gift-cards taped inside, so I held a gift-card against the poster board in a nice spot and sketched a little design around it.

Upping the Aww Factor: Colorful Cards From Kids | Painting Sunny

The kids did all the hard work, of course. I left out the cards and an assortment of washable crayons and markers and let the kids go to town. I try not to be a control freak when they are coloring these and just let them do their thing… with the exception of checking to ensure each card is getting bright colors added on each side. It’s called Quality Control, people… no judging.

I love the Crayola “My First” collection of art supplies. This isn’t a sponsored post… they are just good quality crayons and markers that are easy for the kids to hold, wash off almost anything, and the tips don’t snap off the first time you use them. Somehow the triangular crayons are just cuter.

Upping the Aww Factor: Colorful Cards From Kids | Painting Sunny

They both have a great time, and each contribute to the cards mostly without fighting about it. I always think they will boss each other around on what to draw or get mad if they scribble over the other one’s artwork, but so far the only point of contention is sharing the purple and red markers.

Upping the Aww Factor: Colorful Cards From Kids | Painting Sunny

This probably kept them occupied about 10 minutes. 10 precious, precious minutes.

Upping the Aww Factor: Colorful Cards From Kids | Painting Sunny

After the marker had a chance to dry, I just rolled up a piece of tape and stuck a gift card inside of each assigned spot. For those of you who haven’t lived in the Bloomington, IN area, Scholars Inn Bakehouse is a local coffee joint/cafe that has delicious desserts, breakfasts, and honestly really good coffee. I will miss it so much, it’s nice to know that someone else will be enjoying the local treats!

Anyone else using their children to handle their correspondence? Enchanted with those triangular crayons? Missing a local coffee shop from a past hometown? I’m looking forward to finding some new haunts in New York!

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