Random Ramblings: January 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TAGS

Friday's are dance class for little miss Chloe.  It took her a LONG time to adjust to the class, but now she is in love with the class and pretty chatty with the teachers and other girls.  It was a long process to get her to this point.  First she wouldn't let me leave the room, then a few weeks of that then she let me leave the room, but she would stand in the corner, then a few weeks of that.  Then she would do the warm ups and moves but against the wall away from everyone else.  Finally once she gave it a real go there was no looking back.  She loves the class so much.
So since her 4th birthday is on Sunday she wanted to take something to her friends since brothers are always getting to take fun stuff to school like that.

So my first idea was to make some bright cupcakes and wrap them up and take those.  But then I started thinking that is a lot of mess and if the kids want to eat it before they go home they'll make a mess and if they take it home, what if the icing starts to get warm and makes a mess on the way home.... SO, I opted for some iced sugar cookies instead.  Super easy and time saving, but still a fun treat for the kids to get.  

First thing I did was go through my paper supply, because lord knows I am in no short supply of that.  I dug out some colors I like and then narrowed it down to three that I liked together.  I went with a turquoise, a yellow and a polka dotted pink.  I cut balloons out of those colors on my silhouette cameo. I then cut a tag out of white cardstock I had on hand as well.  
I wanted to keep the cards super simple since I knew they would just get ripped off in a matter of minutes when the kids were trying to get to their cookies anyways.  

But I did want to add a little bit of detail to them.  So I drew some dash lines in black all the way around the cards.  Because to me they just add so much more of that special touch.  I then taped, with just good old scotch tape some twine, my favorite embellishment ever, to the back of each balloon.  I then glued the turquoise and yellow balloons down right to the card letting them hang over the edge a bit. Then I popped up the pink balloon with some 3d foam adhesive.
I then took another piece of twine and tied a bow around the balloon strings to gather them together and put a small dot of glossy accents under the bow to help hold them all in place.  
I just took my favorite pens and wrote from: in black and Chloe M in pink.  
Super simple cards and it only took me one night to make 16 of them.  
After that I took my little bags that I picked up at the dollar store and put a cookie inside each one.  I then cut another longer piece of twine and looped it into the hole of the tag and then tied it around the tag and tied it into a bow in the front.  
We took them to her dance class and she was so excited to give them out.  Her dance teacher held her up on her lap after class and had all the kids sing Happy Birthday to her before she handed out the bags.  She was all smiles.  






~NICOLE

CHLOE IS 4

HAPPY 4TH BIRTHDAY CHLOE!

I cannot even believe that our sweet little princess is 4 years old already. Yesterday was our little princesses big day. I looked back on my facebook and instargram and found some pictures of our girl over the years and I have to admit it got me all choked up.  I didn't think I would but seeing how fast she is growing up and what an amazing little girl she is turning out to be just tugged at this mamas emotions.  

I thought it would be fun to look back at a few pictures of her.  
This is the day she was born. I love those chubby cheeks.  

This was a few days after we got home and I did her pictures for her birth announcement.  

These are my all time favorite pictures I have ever done of her.  This was when she turned 1 month old.  Oh my precious baby girl.  

I have to say it was alot of fun doing her pictures each month for the first year.  I also love this 4th of July picture of her.  

This was my favorite bow for her to wear.  It was big and I loved it so much.  I had a bow in every color for her.  

This was her first birthday photo shoot.  She is so small.  

This was an instagram picture I took of her when she turned two.  I love her little short hair too.  She has such a baby face still.  

This was her third birthday photo shoot. I love these pictures of her too.  I know I say that about all of them, but I love taking pictures of her and she loves it too.  


This was just a few months ago and I love how this captures how happy she is.  This is truely her.  She loves life, and the swings :).

HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY our sweet baby girl.  You are such a lover of life and each day you remind me to live each day to the fullest and find joy in everyday.
You love to draw and create stuff and please don't ever give that up.  
You love everyone so deeply and I hope you always have that love in your heart for everyone, to see the good above the bad in people.  
Please never change who you are sweet girl.  
Mommy and Daddy love you so much!


~NICOLE

Thursday, January 16, 2014

PROJECT LIFE : WEEK 2

PROJECT LIFE : WEEK 2 
january 5 - january 11


Ramblings from week 2 :

SUNDAY - We went riding out in the dessert.  Our friends Tabitha and Jose and their 2 kiddos went with us.  Little Jacob had the best time on their little quad.  He was a donut expert by the time we left.  Then they came over for dinner that night.  Jacob BBQ'd some chicken and we had pasta salad and corn on the cob.  

MONDAY - I got a new little turquoise basket ( on clearance )  for the coffee table today at Hobby Lobby and Chloe thinks that it is a new storage for her animals.  

TUESDAY - We had to be down at Fontana Kaiser at 7:15 this morning for Jacob's CAT SCAN appointment.  We left our house at 6am.  On our way we saw an amazing sunrise.  After the appointment we ate at Del Taco across the street.  

WEDNESDAY - Cutting my coupons.  Got to back on track with that this year.  I could really tell a difference in last year when I wasn't couponing.  

THURSDAY - Jacob came home from work and since I hadn't decided how I was going to cook the chicken I laid out for dinner he decided to make us fried chicken.  SO GOOD. We had mashed potatoes and gravy and corn with it too.  
Chloe got play dough from Uncle Matt and Aunt Amberley for Christmas and she is molding us all kinds of things.  She made daddy a sailboat on the ocean and me a colorful ball.  

FRIDAY - This morning I was in the office and heard a strange crash noise and went out to the living room to see what it was and Caleb said he had stood on the DVD bookcase and it crashed!.  Oh this kid!  Guess its time for a new one, since that one wasn't that steady in the first place and now I can get a black one like I wanted anyways.  :)
Got my wood blocks for a project all sanded and painted today.
The kids wanted to sleep in the living room tonight.  So since it is just a few days before school starts back up I made them a big bed in the living room floor and that is where they slept.  (Well Chloe came into our room in the middle of the night and was mad saying she wanted us to stay in there too... so she slept with us the rest of the night) .

SATURDAY - It is rare when Jacob has a Saturday off that we have nothing at all to do.  But today we didn't and he was off.  We relaxed at home all day it was SO nice.  The kids laid around in their pajamas all day and we watched some movies and tv.  We even had a super easy dinner of leftovers.  I just pulled it all out and everyone had what they wanted.  It was a nice Saturday for sure.  



Happy Documenting..  I would love to see your project life albums , or how you are documenting life.  Feel free to share your links in the comments.  

~NICOLE

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

MY MONEY SAVING PLAN FOR THE NEW YEAR




I know we are not alone in the struggle to save money these days.  It always seems like we get all caught up and ahead on everything and maybe save a few dollars here and there and then something happens and we are having to use what we have saved up.  Story of our lives.. just keeping it real here.  
So I figured I am going to do a new approach to this saving thing, and even save some for the 3 little ones too.  I have been reading all over the internet lately about the 52 week savings challenge.  I told myself this was going to be one of my goals for 2014.
So I figured I needed to start small.  If I set myself up to save big huge amounts, I know it is not something I can follow through with all year.  So if I set myself up with small goal amounts that are reasonable, then on the weeks I can add more then I can. Because really isn't it better to set realistic goals than not and know before you start you can't keep up with the goals.  Why set myself up for failure, right? Right.  
So I figured the 52 week challenge was set up pretty cool and I would stick to that one just the way it is.
So basically on the first week of the year, you stick $1.00 into the savings plan.  Then each week you add just $1.00 , which also goes along with the week of the year that it is.  So on week 7 lets say, you will be adding $7.00 into the account, and week 52 you will be adding $52.00... etc.  You see how that works.  Pretty easy I think, and looks like something we can definitely keep up with. So at the end of the year I will have saved $1378.00.  Now this is not money I am saying oh we are saving for this or that or to go here or there, this is all money that I do not want to touch.  Just pure save on the side and forget it exsists.  Just for a rainy rainy day maybe, maybe just keep saving like this for years on end and see what we have after 5, 10, even 20 years.  I don't know I just know I want to put it away and NOT have to use it.  


Then for the kids I knew I didn't want to do it the exact same as this but I did want to save something each week for each of the kids as well.  So I picked $3.00.  I don't know why I came up with this exactly, but maybe because there are 3 of them, it just seemed like a good amount.  Which makes that $3.00 for each of them is only $9.00 a week which is very reasonable and something we can definitely keep up with.  I also plan to add more as we can.  Maybe add $20.00 each birthday for them, or something like that. I don't have an exact rule to that part, just the $3.00 a week per child.  At the end of a year for each of them that will be $156.00.  If I left it at $3.00 each week after 10 years that would be $1560.00.  Not bad, but that will just be the minimum since I do plan to put away more here and there, and maybe next year I will set the goal at $5.00 per child each week.  Ill figure that out when the time comes.  


I needed to have some way of tracking it so I could keep myself accountable for putting the  money in each week.  I started by printing these blank savings plan charts from RESOURCEFUL BLOGGER .  You can find the exact charts I printed out.
I printed out one for each of the kids and one for our family savings.  I used the 52 week savings plan chart for all of them.  I wrote the goal on top of each one and labeled which child it is and for our family one I just wrote Jacob and Nicole.  
I think I will just write down the left side of the chart and use the right side for if and when I have any extra deposits I can track those along with it.  
I decided on every Friday since that is the day my husband gets paid.  He gets paid every other Friday, so technically we are paying 2 weeks worth out of each check, but I still want to just add to it every Friday, so it is a more constant thing, and smaller amounts each week.  I was also thinking of maybe highlighting each date maybe to know that I did add the money that week.. I don't know yet.  I think I just like to color code things lol.  

I know it all isn't much, but it is a small start to something at least. 

Are you going to take any money saving challenges this year?  I would love to see what your savings goals are and your approach to them this year.  
Here's to happy savings.  

~NICOLE

Thursday, January 9, 2014

PROJECT LIFE : WEEK 1

I am using the CINNAMON PROJECT LIFE KIT this year.  I saw it when it came out and fell in love with it then and knew it was the kit I wanted to use for this year.  
I didn't get a chance to get it before the first of the year started.  But I did get a Hobby Lobby gift card for Christmas and I used that to buy it so it worked out good that way. I also used a coupon so I got it for 40% off the normal price, even better!  
All the years before I focused alot on doing it with the photo a day approach.  It didn't always work and then I would get mad at myself for missing a photo on that particular day and then I would get behind and then the entire project would unravel for me and I would be so far behind it was overwhelming and hence why the last 2 years of project life are not completed.  I have the pictures on the computer, just not in the albums or separated yet.. One day I will go back and do it, but for now I am fully focused on actually completing my album this year.  And with that said I have a new approach to it this year.  
Instead of being so focused on a photo a day, I am doing it with a weekly outlook in the end.  I still will bring out my camera all the time, but I won't stress myself out if I don't take a picture on one day, but took extra on another day.  So the layout will just have more of an overview from the entire week instead of each day to day.  Hopefully this will help  me actually complete the album this year.  It is one of my goals I have set for myself this year.  :)  
Now enough of my bad follow through habits and onto some sharing.  


 PROJECT LIFE : TITLE PAGE 
I used all the cards they suggested for the title page, but changed things up just a bit.
Here is what I did.
LIFE UNEXPECTED card : I used a converse tag I found in my stash.  
(side note : I like to save tags off clothes we buy because sometimes they make perfect embellishments, just like this converse one did )
Then I used some washi tape I had on hand to just add a few stripes off the side from the converse tag.  

GREY MANTOOTH card : It was the card that came with it and on the white strip it had writing on it about who the book belonged to.  I cut some grid project life card to fit in the spot so you wouldn't see that on there and added TINSEL SILVER THICKERS  , which I have had for several years.  They even lost a little stickiness so I had to use my adhesive for them to make sure they would stay put.  I hand wrote the and family  with my SHARPIE PENS in black.  

THE BROWN SWIRLY card : For this card I took one of the journaling filler cards and just trimmed it down and added it right on top of the card.  I also turned the card upside down from what they suggested in the example.  
ADVENTURE BOUND card : This one I just added some wood grain washi tape to the top and bottom and cut a sliver from some silver glitter washi tape and added that on top of the wood grain.  Then I used two circles from the letter set for the dots on the arrow of the card.  

FULL 2x3 PHOTO card : I printed the small picture of the kids and one of me and Jacob on the same 4x6 sheet of paper.  I set the photo up in photoshop so I could print it on one page.  The picture of Jacob and I is from my cell phone, but I downloaded all the pictures onto my laptop and it was a recent one of us, and one that I didn't mind too much of myself so I just printed it out in square form in black and white, since it was already this way from how I posted it on my INSTAGRAM.  

SMALL RECORDED card : I just wrote by Nicole Mantooth in the small spot at the top and added 2014 with the same thicker set from our name.  I layered it so it wasn't perfectly lined up and let the 4 hang off the bottom of the card a bit and then just trimmed it off so it would fit in the pocket.  

PHOTO card : For this one I just added some of the silver glitter washi tape to the top and bottom of mine and Jacob's picture, to make it look like the tape was holding the photo on.  I had to find some spot to add my favorite, twine, and this was the perfect spot for it.  Just wrapped it around a few times under our picture and } tied a bow.  I added a little glossy accents under the bow to help hold it in place. 

I think this is the most decorative I have gotten with my title page, but I sure love it.  The rest of the album I plan to keep pretty simple with not much embellishment.  This has got to help me stay on top of it as well.  

PROJECT LIFE : WEEK 1 
{ DECEMBER 29, 2013 - JANUARY 4, 2014 }

PROJECT LIFE : WEEK 1 - LEFT SIDE

PROJECT LIFE : WEEK 1 - RIGHT SIDE

PROJECT LIFE : WEEKLY TITLE CARDS
Last year I created some title cards and had them printed at costco, so they were all uniform and I didn't even have to think about it.  You can see those HERE.  This year I liked the cards that came in the kit alot so I decided to use those and just write the date in on each one.  I plan to keep it pretty uniform throughout the entire album, in fact I already wrote out all 52 weeks worth of title cards.  

I can't wait to really keep up with my project life this year.
Are you working on documenting your family this year in some sort of way?  Id love for you to share a link so I can check it out too.

I saw this on BECKY HIGGINS INSTAGRAM  and thought it was pretty cool.  It is the same concept as project life and documenting life.  The guy that created the video took a second long video of everday for an entire year and turned it into a video.  It is pretty cool.  So I thought I would share it with you as well.  I shared it on my facebook and someone commented that you could do the same thing with pictures, just do it as a slide show and one picture from everday and there you have your life over a years time all in one video.  What a great idea that is too.

Happy Documenting !  

~NICOLE

Monday, January 6, 2014

ERIN CONDREN LIFE PLANNER

I am such a sucker for a good planner.  I have been known to buy several and try to keep up with 2 at the same time, or even just buy another one a few months after I got the first because I thought I would like it more.  I tried once to create my own by buying all the inside parts and a little folder for it.  They all seemed to work at the time but I guess I would get bored with them at the same time.  All they did was really just keep my appointments all in once place.
So quite some time ago I saw an ERIN CONDREN LIFE PLANNER .  I LOVED it as soon as I saw it.  I knew that was the next planner that I wanted, however since it wasn't on the cheap side for a planner I knew I needed to save up for it first.  So I did debate back and forth so many times, and even searched for a new planner online but it just seemed like nothing compared to the Erin Condren Life Planner.  I loved that I could even customize it to have a picture on the front.  I read so many reviews and everyone said once you get one you will be hooked and it was the best planner ever.
So.... 
After several months of debating and trying to convince myself I could just find a planner for 2014 at Target I just did it. I ordered my first Erin Condren Life planner.  I was stalking the UPS tracking online just waiting for it to come.  I was so darn excited, like a little kid waiting for Santa to come or something.  

So let me share my planner with you and tell you a little about how I use mine.  
I got the personalized cover ($5.00 extra, but I just had to have my kiddos on my planner )

You can customize what you want the front to say.  I knew I wanted my name and then I went back and forth on what else I wanted it to say.  I decided to go with the dates that way when I look at it I know exactly what year the planner was for.  And since mine didn't go for a typical calendar year, I went with adding the months as well.
I love how my name is multiple colors and the date is in grey.

 The back cover has some colorful stripes.
The metal coil is very strong as well.  Which is one thing I definitely need since I carry mine in my purse I have had some planner get extra used from having to take a daily ride in my purse.  

I love all the colorful tabs that separate each section.


There are pockets inside and alot of notes pages too, which I also love.  

Another pocket and future calendars for extra ahead planning.  

There is also a section for contacts, but it is only one page so it is too small for my entire address book so I don't really use that part at the moment and I haven't thought of anything else to put in there.  
There is a section for birthdays and anniversaries, but I honestly never use this section for that and in all my other planners it just sits blank.  So in a group I am in on facebook I saw that people were using washi tape to cover up stuff they didn't like in their planners.  Then another thing I saw was a girl used it for saying what she was thankful for.  BRILLIANT I thought, I knew I wanted to do that.  I wanted it as a way to remind myself of all the things I am thankful for in my life, not just around Thanksgiving time, but for the entire year. So I took some bright pink washi tape and covered up the birthdays and anniversaries and plan to write something else in its place. 

I started this in November so this was for 2013.  Just a few small sentences, not even a complete one at that of what I am thankful for that day.  

For some of the blank note pages I added some little sticky tabs that allowed me to make my own little sections.  I like to have my notes together instead of just randomly on different blank pages.  
So I made one for Christmas planning for this year... for when I can shop ahead or if I get an idea of a gift I can jot it down and then I have it all in once place and always with me.  
Another tab for blog planning.  
We made a decision that we won't be doing parties every single year for the kids, but next year (as in 2015) the kids will be turning good ages for a party... Chloe will be turning 5, little Jacob will be turning 10 and Caleb will be turning 8.  So we thought those will be good ages for a birthday party.  Well I love to plan ahead for a party and these sections will give me a year plus to write down and thoughts and ideas I have for their parties next year.  
And also one for freezer meal ideas.  I want to get back on track with my meal planning and I want to make ahead meals for the freezer, so this section can help me keep track of those plans.  
I am sure I will think of more sections, and it is so easy to just stick a tab and make a section.  

Another thing I did to my planner was remove the pouch from the back.  I loved that it was included but once I put some pens and sticky notes in it, it was bulky and didn't let my planner lay flat and that made it hard to write in too, so I just cut it out.  Then I just keep it in my purse and have it all handy, just not in my planner.  

Inside my little pouch I keep my pens. I have two favorite that I use for everything.  The Sharpie pens in fine are what I use most in my day to day writing.  I love them and the best part is they don't bleed through the pages.  

My other favorite pens of all time are the Staedtler Triplus fineliner pens.  Love these just as much too.  
/
They write super fine and also don't bleed through the pages.  

I also keep a bottle of white out and my small post it stickies that I used to make my own tabs and a little pad of post it notes for making myself notes that I can then add into my planner.  

What I love about the calendar part of the planner is that it has a monthly overview and a weekly overview as well.  
For the montly overview I write Jacob's work schedule and the bills on the days they are due  any appointments that we have, all my schedules photo shoots and when the kids have no school , birthdays.. etc.  All our general stuff that I can see all in one place.  I also color code them so I can just look and see what we have going on.  

Then for the weekly overview I also write Jacob's work schedule, and any appointments for any days that we have.  I also write the kids school schedules in there, for days of no school or minimum days.  
Then I just write notes about that day in each slot.  It has a section for morning day and night, but I just write over those most of the time lol.  
If there is something I want to remember for that day or just general what we did kind of thing.  
One thing I love is looking back at old planners and not just having big events recorded, but all the small little day to day things too.  Sort of a words version of Project Life in a way.  

 So this is my planner that I love so much.  I think I would be lost without it. 

If you want to check out the website they don't just carry planners, but SO many other fun things too.  Check it out and if you sign up for the website using this link we can all start collecting credit for future orders.  
So click here and sign up .  

If you have an Erin Condren planner already I would love to know what you think of it and see how you use it for your daily life.  

Happy Planning and staying Organized!!  

~NICOLE

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

NO ICING CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH STRAWBERRIES

Yesterday morning before I drug my butt out of bed I was just browsing around the internet.  I was checking out pinterest which led me to a few blogs I was reading.  
I came across a post that shared a Martha Stewart chocolate cake.  THIS is the recipe from her that I came across.
Well I thought that looked like a great dessert for us to have last night.  I was going to try to whip up the actual cake recipe from her too, but I just ended up using a boxed chocolate cake mix.
I changed mine up just a little from the Martha Stewart version... not much at all, but Ill share with you what I did.  

First I baked the chocolate cake according to the directions.  Then I let it cool for a while and stuck it in the fridge to make sure it was cooled completely. 
I don't have any circle cake pans, nor do I have any small square cake pans so I just opted to use my normal rectangle cake pan and planned to cut the cake in half.  Hey why not, just work with what you have, right.  


Then I washed the strawberries and sliced them like this.  I then put them all in a bowl and poured in three packs of artificial sweetener and gave it a stir.  Just for some added sweetness.  

Then I just eyeballed it (because I am just not one to measure so an eyeball measure is good for me) and cut the cake in half.   

Then I took each half and cut those in half  horizontally.  So now I have 4 equal halves of cake.  

Next I took a tub of store bought cool whip, which I forgot to take a picture of, and smeared on a generous layer.  Then I topped that with the sliced strawberries.  

I repeated this with all 4 layers of cake, just stacking one layer on top each time. The last layer, and top I piled on the rest of the strawberries.  

WAHLAH... Finished cake.  It was so quick and easy to make.  After this I stuck it in fridge while we had dinner.  One thing about cool whip is it can start to get a little soft if it sits out for a bit.  

We ate dinner and cleaned up and relaxed for a bit then a few hours before midnight we all had a taste.  It is SO good.  It is very light in comparison to a chocolate cake with icing.  The sweetness from the strawberries gives you just enough that you don't even miss the icing.
The kids and I all had another piece this afternoon as well after lunch and it is just as good today as it was last night.  

This would be good with raspberries too I think.  Or a mixture of red berries.  What a nice light dessert for summer days too.  I will definately be making this again.  

Can you imagine the different combinations that could be made like this.. I can't wait to try some more. 

Off to figure out something to make for dinner tonight.  I have been having a lazy day and do not want to go to the store. 
Happy New Year!  

~NICOLE

HAPPY 2014


  For me 2013 was a tough tough year and I am so looking forward to a new start to a new year.  No looking back, just looking ahead and I can't wait to see what God has planned for us this year.  

“Happiness is a journey not a destination … “

Here is to a HAPPY New Year to me and to YOU and your families.  Lets all make this an incredible year.  

~NICOLE