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iPhoning It In: Embracing My Camera Daily

I’m making an effort to let go a little bit. You know – relax, and more spontaneously admire things around me.

Daily iPhone Photography Project: eight eight thirteen | Painting Sunny

I love creative forms of expression if you haven’t noticed. I can, however, get hung up on worrying about something being “ready” and “high enough quality” to be worth the effort and to share with others. Is a painting really finished? Is a photography pretty enough? Is something composed uniquely or contrasted enough? It never feels like it. So I’m about to do a little project to “let go and let blog” by each day taking up my iPhone and capturing a photo of something around me.

Above is the very first one, taken yesterday evening as flash floods came down in our area. The drainage outside of our apartment is not quite holding up to rain lately, and as I watched the water flood up over the back patio and sidewalks, I thought about how grey and drizzy the rain was as it threatened to spill over our door-frames and onto the carpet; but how cheerful the children’s toys and scooters and wagons looked sitting outside, and how grateful I am that those things are in my life.

So, here’s the gist. Every day for 30 days I’ll snap the pic, and will post it to my Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest locals. I may edit the photos a bit in trusty Photoshop (things can’t be all crooked, yo) but I promise not to Instagram it or use a filter. Nothing against Instragram – I’m just challenging myself to let things be, just a little bit.

Being a research nerd, I thought I’d round up a few inspiring iPhone photogs and websites, so why not check them out?

Brock Davis’ 2012 iPhone Photography (Yes, I also mentioned him here)

Chase Jarvis’ Photography Blog and his book about it

iPhoneography, an iPhone Photography Blog

National Geographic’s Tips For Better iPhone Photography

Y’all need to hold me accountable, so please share your own camera phone adventures, times you just throw in the towel and call it good enough, ideas for relaxing a little and enjoying the ride…

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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Canvassing The Area (and Painting Big)

Yeah, it has been a minute since I painted big. For the record, I do have my BFA from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (that is a real place, I swear) so did my requisite large-scale drawings and oil paintings, but time flies and I’ve turned to more convenient, portable, and economical mediums. But then… we  got big walls.

Our new apartment isn’t grandly spacious, but it does have comfortable-sized rooms and that includes comfortable-sized walls. The layout of our last home meant the sofa was oriented in the middle of the broad living room, making it a space-divider. This home puts the sofa against the wall, and that big old blank beige area was glaring me down.

So, I did something about it.

Painting Big | Painting Sunny

FYI, that watermark is a watermark and not there in real life. There is also a bit of a glare in the photography I couldn’t figure out how to get rid of, so just went with it. Yes, I spent this weekend covered in glorious paint! I may be a little rusty, so it may not be perfect, but I enjoyed myself and the living room is a little brighter and bolder now.

Would you like to see that in situ?

Painting Big | Painting SunnyTo start, I gathered by trusty stash of supplies. Let’s pretend it isn’t a hot mess, alright? I once worked with someone who said “hot mess” about fifty times a day, and it sounds like it would be annoying but I actually really enjoyed it, and every once in a while I like to find a way to work it into conversation. Like now.

Painting Big | Painting Sunny

You will notice a can of latex house-paint in that pile of stuff. Yes, the darker areas of the final painting are from this nice muted navy blue paint I already had on hand (more on that project coming someday soonish) and it was an affordable way to cover some of the canvas and create a nice dark base, so I began the painting by shading in some areas with it in a way that felt composed, to me.

Of course, I needed a big #%$ canvas. To the other art school brats professionals out there, I do understand that the proper way to go is purchasing the canvas and quality stretcher bars separately, stretching it, and applying the layers of gesso myself. However, I was just looking to get my feet wet and warm up a bit. I wanted a gallery-wrap canvas (it is deeper so looks better without a frame and sits a little more nicely against the way, in my opinion) so I headed to my local Micheal’s armed with a 40% off coupon and left with this canvas for about 50 bones. Yes, that is a lot of cash to me too, but for a large canvas I’d consider it reasonable. The quality felt alright too for a pre-streched canvas, so I was on my way!

Painting Big | Painting SunnyOh Paloma, why do you crave attention this way?

For those of you curious about what the back of a gallery-wrap canvas looks like (as opposed to a traditional back-stapled canvas) here is a quick shot of it:

Painting Big | Painting SunnyThere are two new supplies I also grabbed at Michaels, and one was a bit of a splurge for me. Spoiler alert, the splurge was the paintbrush. I didn’t have a big enough brush to comfortable work on this size of canvas, and I also didn’t have a nice filbert. It was a perfect storm, and I bought this baby. Isn’t she pretty? Don’t worry, those clean white bristles didn’t stay that way long. The paint was due to my craving for a gold, and my dislike of my current gold acrylics.

Painting Big | Painting Sunny

Did I say acrylics? Yes, I did. I’ve painted with watercolor, acrylics, oils, egg tempera, milk paints, and probably other mediums I’m forgetting. At this point, I don’t have a studio area and am using my kitchen table. With small children around. It is a challenge, people. So, I choose to use something that dries quickly (so my kitchen table can go back to being a kitchen table), is non-toxic for the kids and pets around, and is easy to clean up. I’m a bit messy. I do hope to get back to other mediums someday, but right now I’m happy to work with what works for me.

Want to see some detail shots?

Painting Big | Painting Sunny

I didn’t mean for it to be quite so red-white-and-blue but I’m cool with it.

Painting Big | Painting Sunny

 It isn’t perfect, but it was fun and got my feet wet. I’m hoping to do another one soon for the bedroom wall and am thinking of trying a bit more bold of a color statement. Get excited, people!

With our current rental having all-beige walls, I’m hoping to frame out this canvas and some other ones with some natural wood frames at some point, but as framing costs some serious mullah it will either have to wait or I have to DIY it.

Anyone have some awesome DIY-canvas-frame tips? Want to loan me a circular saw in case I ever get around to it? Itching to paint on as big a surface as they can find? Say “hot mess” a lot?

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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Tenacious Tenant: Renter-Friendly DIY

I love to write about my DIY adventures, many of which focus on the home and how to make it just a little bit prettier. But you know what is different about this blog and many of the others like it?

I rent.

Having just relocated, renting a home while we get settled and learn about the community makes sense for us. Renting can pose some challenges when it comes to DIY adventures for the home. After 10 years of renting everything from a 525 sq. foot apartment in grad school to a spacious HOA-controlled three-story townhouse, I’ve learned a lot about what was worth it and what wasn’t when it came to beautifying my spaces. I’m also not the only one.

Recently, I spied this article from Dwell in the Twittersphere, it made me think about how far some people stretch to make a rental fit for them, and how a little creativity can go a long way. If you can minimize your life a little, all the better. I’ve been inspired by the whimsical beauty of Oh Happy Day’s 500 square foot rented apartment, a rental bedroom upgrade by JWK Style (featured on Little Green Notebook), and pretty much everything pretty on Apartment Therapy’s website. See, renters, we are not alone! It’s time to unite!

Tenacious Tenant: Renter-Friendly DIY | by Painting Sunny

Seriously hard to believe this is in a rental, but I believe her… Source: JWK Style via Little Green Notebook

Tenacious Tenant: Renter-Friendly DIY | by Painting Sunny

Okay, so her landlord sounds ultra-cool, but this is a good example of the power of negotiation. Source: Oh Happy Day

So, those other people’s pics are gorgeous, but what’s actually worked for me?

Yes, you can take it with you. Some stuff, at least. I try to focus on things that can follow me to my next home and which are versatile enough to fit be useful in case my next place has a very different layout or amenities.What’s some stuff I’ve made that changed the look of my home, without being bolted in place? DIY mercury-glass lamps, sewn pretty pillow covers, colorful artwork for the walls, hand-painted paper lanterns, a little red occasional table… the possibilities are endless, and you don’t have to walk away from like you would re-painted kitchen cabinets or built-in shelving.

Illicit spray-painting. In the dark. Sometimes. When you rent, especially in a multi-unit place, it can be hard to find somewhere you can paint stuff without worrying about upsetting the neighbors. I mean, I get it – why should they have to smell the painty-fumes while they’re enjoying dinner just so I can have a coral-colored ceramic hippo? But it can def cramp my style. So, what are your options?

  • It isn’t necessarily a cool move, but you could find a little spot away from other people’s homes and just try to spray paint really quickly at dusk, hoping your landlord doesn’t notice. Honestly, I’ve been there.
  • Find a friend with a big yard who will let you come over and paint in a corner of it. Don’t forget to bring a drop cloth so you don’t color her grass purple. Probably a bottle of wine is a good idea, too, since you’ll be hanging out while the paint dries.
  • See if there is a vented spray-booth in your area. Many fine art studios and art schools have ventilated spray-booths for using paints and adhesives. For a fee, or just out of the goodness of their hearts, they might let you use one.
  • Again, if you have more money than time or ventilated-space of your own, try asking an automotive shop if they will spray it for you. My mother once had an auto-shop use their car-painting equipment to spray a locker for me and it worked out awesomely! They probably have some cool colors, too.
  • Switch to a brush-on paint and use a good drop-cloth. If you choose a low or no VOC option like milk-paint or good latex paints, you can use your kitchen as a studio with no worries! It doesn’t have quite the same effect as spray-paint and can be a longer process but can achieve some even more unique special affects.

Bold and bright distractions! Pop some bright wrapping paper in a frame and make a new focal point in your space. Some quirky kitchen utensils on a counter, a colorful accessory in the living room, a wall full of books you love… these are the things your visitors will remember. A modern and cool environment is great, but I’ve always felt like rented homes need a little extra personality to feel like you put your stamp on them.

Bring it to life. I just posted about my new and lovely little houseplants, and since they found a new home here it’s felt more like one to me, too. I’m not saying you have to live in a jungle or invest stock in Miracle Grow, but having a little something green, leafy, and alive can make the space feel loved and show everyone your nurturing side. Check out this awesome post from A Cup Of Jo on how to buy houseplants “once and for all.”

Tenacious Tenant: Renter-Friendly DIY | by Painting Sunny

Yes, my cat photo-bombs.

What is just not my rented-cup-of-tea?

Really sticky stuff. I haven’t tried out this temporary wallpaper. Or these removable sticky tiles. Yeah, I’m just not sure about that. I need to see someone remove them in real-life before I’ll stop being a scarety-cat. Oh Happy Day tried some out, though, and the removal seemed to have some pros and cons. Maybe see what she thinks?

Taking the kitchen cabinet doors off. I’ve removed closet doors and put them back up, but kitchen’s just have… so many cabinets. When I’m in the process of moving to a new place, getting cabinets back up without dents just doesn’t sound stress-reducing.

Swapping out the wired-lighting.  I love a good spray-paint session with a lamp, so customized lighting is totally my scene. Figuring out how to turn off the electrical, finding a ladder, and getting a chandelier over the dining room table is not. Most overhead lighting in places I’ve rented has been alright and fairly basic looking, so it hasn’t ever been worth it to mess with. I can just turn the lights off, switch on a lamp, and try to ignore that light-fixture-that-looks-like-a-boob. BHG had some good suggestions on lighting in rentals, though.

Check out my Renting It! Pinterest Board for more inspiration, or one of these awesome-possum places:

My Little Apartment

The Borrowed Abode

Better Homes & Garden’s idea round-up

Apartment Therapy

The Handmade Home’s colorful rental ideas

Anyone else renting and still DIYing? Not willing to mess with electrical stuff? Strangely obsessed with houseplants lately?

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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Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming!

I cannot wait until this place is finally, totally settled-into! Moving is rough stuff, seriously. For the sake of motivation, I have promised myself some gifts after the last cardboard box is recycled. Firstly, one of those crazy colored orchids from the grocery store. You know the ones I mean… that are strangely, unnaturally blue or purple and for some reason draw you in. I want to see how long I can actually keep the thing alive for. Anyone want to place a bet?

Secondly, the time and supplies to take on a few projects to spruce the place up and get my creative fingers busy again. Here are a few ideas knocking around inside my head Pinterest board…

Large-Scale Paintings, Inspired By:

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

I love to paint and we have some decent-sized wall-space in the new place, on the living room and Master bedroom walls. I am ready to make some pieces that make an impact! The dark blue in the above inspiration really appeals to me, along with those touches of gold in both… sigh. So pretty.

Smaller, Unique Artwork, Inspired By:

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

Nothing makes a home feel more cozy than artwork tucked into little nooks and spaces. Besides books, which like automatically domesticate your home. And make you look smart. Anyway, how cute are those Ikea prints? Very, but they are a little too small, so I may need to make some custom-sized similar work myself. And don’t you just love Our Fifth House?

DIY Lamps, Inspired By:

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

(already made lamps here: )

Our new apartment doesn’t have overhead lighting in any of the living or bedroom areas, so as soon as I get my hand’s on some worthy second-hand candidates I need to stock up on lamps. Yes, this is the second time I’ve linked over to that gold-dotted lamp. I am seriously crushing on it. It’s so unique and original. Click over to the original links for all of the lamps, please! The lamps all look so much more clean and modern compared to the before pictures, it’s amazing!

You may recall I already DIYed some lamps I looove, so check them out!

Home-Made (and Mama-Made, So Even Better) Quilts for Kid’s Rooms, Inspired By:

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

I think a hand-made quilt is a great way to show someone you love them and really care about them. Care enough to sweat over a finickly sewing machine covered in bits of thread and interfacing. That is true love, my friend. I think quilts can also make a really lasting heirloom when done well, and making some for my own kid’s is hitting the top of the to-do list. Aren’t these three sweet? I’m definitely in the mood for stripes, but that rag-style quilt would fit in perfectly with my girl’s room!

Head-Bands For The Girl’s Fall School Wardrobe, Inspired By:

Projects Are Coming! Projects Are Coming! Links to Pinspiration | Painting Sunny

Pinspiration: Here Original Source: Here

I am definitly going to use this inspiration to engineer some child-sized head-bands with cute fabrics, before H starts 1st grade in September. I swear, our girl could never start school with enough hair accessories. She is obsessed. This is a great scrap-busting project, too.

As you can tell, Pinterest is a pretty comfortable place for me these days. Please come on over and join me for some QPT! That is “Quality Pinning Time.”

Anyone else planning at least two years out on their projects? Sentimental about sewing quilts for a loved-one, or just need some &$%# lighting around their house?

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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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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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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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.