Refresh Your Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Egg Decoration

So great! Wouldn’t it be special for your little ones to hunt for these this year?? Reader’s Digest really hit the nail on the head with nine fun, and incredibly creative ideas for decorating Easter eggs. They’ve even included what supplies you’ll need, and the steps for egg design and creation! Hunting for eggs was always such a magical time as child, especially when one or two of the eggs were designated as “prize eggs.” Such fun! So when you’re coloring eggs this year, don’t hesitate to travel down memory lane and make every detail a lasting memory for your loved ones.

There are all types of interesting ways to spruce up Easter, and it’s not just limited to eggs. Head over to The Mom Creative to see her 101 Kid’s Easter Basket ideas, for a collection of goodies to include in your little one’s baskets. And for some extra tips on Easter decoration, revisit our Easter is Sweet post!

Happy Easter from Sweet Abode!

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Backyard Camping Rocks!

Have your kids been bugging you to take them camping. It is such a fun thing to do as a family. Sometimes it does not work to get to the campsite with all the extra curricular activities we all have. Why not do a backyard campout. Kids love to sleep in tents and it doesn’t matter where you are. A really fun way to plan this is let the kids help you with all the details. They can help set up the tent, build a fire if you have a spot to do that. Do the menu for the camping meal and of course make the s’mores. It is really fun to get creative with the toppings try Nutella and Strawberries yum!!!

Our kids love flashlights. Giving each member of the family their own is a must. We do not want them fighting over flashlights. What kid wouldn’t like this cool Melissa and Doug Sunny Patch Blaze Firefly flashlight?

Another huge hit for our back yard campout is to distribute light sticks. They come in bracelets, necklaces and sticks. This is a definite highlight of the night for our kids. They know when it gets dark it is time for light sticks. They also becomes each kids nightlight that won’t keep mommy and daddy awake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This awesome book, Cooking on a Stick,  includes 12 east to follow recipes for all kinds of foods from main dishes to desserts. How about Moose Kabobs? Or Ranger’s Apple Pie?

The best part of camping out in your back yard is the memories you and your family will have, the gas you saved not driving somewhere and the joy you will bring to your kids. Let me also add the creature comforts of home. I have one friend who tells her kids she’s too pretty to go camping!! Share your back yard campout stories with us.

Delight in the Date Night at Home!

No more putting off getting a sitter! 

 Stay home for date night tonight!


 There are plenty of date ideas for staying at home. If you stay creative, you and your loved one can spend some quality time together without  spending a lot of money or ever putting your shoes on .  


Dinner and a movie are a standard date for most couples. However, why not stay in and make dinner together? This way, you can work together to create a festive meal and then enjoy  a movie. The first film you saw together or one that mimics your own relationship often help when making a choice.  My husband and I love to share what we call “Trail Supper”.  A “no cooking night”!  After we put the kids to bed, we enjoy something you might have on a trail:  olives, cheese and crackers or bread, fruit , raw veggies and great beverages!  

Try  fondue to add festivity to your date at home.

This set  prevents the cheese or chocolate from burning and requires no electricity, just candlelight.

If you both enjoy nature but don’t want to leave your home, try doing some home-based gardening. This is a nice way to do something productive and enjoy a project together.

Consequently, think about having a game night at home. Make some delicious snacks, pop in some music, and uncork the wine while the two of you play cards or play a board game. It’s a way to have a light and fun game, assuming no one gets too competitive!

 

  These Celebration Plates, bowls and cups are made from recycled melamine and add a bit of fun and whimsy to the date when it’s meal time!   Embrace your home and enjoy your date, too!


Tell us about a “date night at home” idea  that you have!


Its Time to Swap the Pansies for Impatients

Container gardening is a great way to get a lot of bang for your buck. If you don’t feel you have a green thumb, container gardening can be a way to give you confidence to start gardening.

There are so many different things you can use to make a container garden. Look in the garage or basement or your child’s closet.  Here is a super cute idea. Take a pair of children’s crocs and fill them with dirt and plant for a whimsical garden planter. This is a fun way to get your kids involved in gardening. Featured here is lobelia with chicks and hens. This photo by Kerry Michaels.

If you are on a tight budget, take any container you have, fill it with dirt and buy a pack of nasturtium seeds. You will have edible flowers all summer long. They also make sweet small flower arrangements.

Planting an Endless Summer Hydrangea plant in a container is a wonderful way to have beautiful hydrangeas all summer long. They too make great flower arrangements. The more you cut them the more blooms you have.

 

Planting vegetables in containers can be very fruitful. Not all of us have the perfect sunny garden spot to put in a vegetable garden. Using a large pot with good drainage, high quality organic dirt, and a healthy tomato plant will produce tomatoes in your garden. When I plant or transplant I use Down to Earth All Purpose 4-6-2 fertilizer. I have used this product for several years and it is all natural and is great to use when planting edibles.

When you are deciding what plants to use in containers make sure you know if your container will be in full sun, shade or a combination of the two?  Another idea to consider for a sunny spot is to use succulents in your container. In the south most of the succulent plants are perennial plants.

 

Remember when you are shopping for your plants consider these things. Choose plants that have balance and contrast. A simple rule of thumb is to have 1 tall plant 1 filler and 1 trailing. Mixing different textures and colors will make your container more visually interesting.

 

Herbs are another way to get your feet wet in trying container gardening. Consider planting lavender, thyme and sage together. You wish you had time to do this well if you don’t call Sweet Abode we can help!

Spring Means Garage Sales!

With spring cleaning and decluttering come garage and yard sales.

While you don’t have to spend big bucks outsourcing your signs to a print shop, we recommend that you always include the following 8 things in a garage sale sign–if you actually want to get people to show up and shop at your sale:

  1. The street address of the sale
  2. The time and date of the sale
  3. Arrows pointing shoppers in the right direction to get to the sale
  4. Big enough lettering so people can read it from far away
  5. Keywords on the sign that are likely to catch someone’s eye, like “Antiques,” “Art” or “Tools”
  6. Bright and bold signs and printing that catch people’s attention
  7. Not too much information that someone driving by can’t read your entire sign at 30 mile per hour
  8. Signs that are waterproof and windproof, in case Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate

You should always create multiple versions of your sign and place them in high-traffic spots on the way to your sale. We also recommend spreading the word by telling your friends, posting information about the sale on neighborhood and community bulletin boards (both online and offline) and, of course, listing your sale for free on Tagsellit.com. (Putting something in Craigslist’s “garage sale” section probably wouldn’t hurt either.)

Time your sale strategically:
Fridays seem to bring the heaviest flow of die-hard garage sale visitors looking for prime merchandise.
Saturday mornings will bring in folks out on errands and ferrying children to various activities. Business tends to slow down after 3:00, and most sales end by 4:00.
Sundays are often not worth the trouble of setting up and tearing down. If there is an event going on in your town that typically brings in people from other areas:  craft shows, garden tours, pancake breakfasts, for example—you might pick up customers you otherwise wouldn’t. 

  • Consider a neighborhood yard sale. These can be great fun and bring in lots of buyers, and expenses for signage and advertising can be shared. Enlist local teens or spouses to help out with parking and traffic control.  
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  •  Finally, always take down your signs as soon as the sale is over so they don’t clutter the neighborhood and become a nuisance and an eye sore.

Send us a picture of a garage sale sign that caught your eye!

An Organized Car

Does that sound like a fictional novel or an independent film title?  Your car does not have to look like a closet, snack bar or office on wheels.  There are so many organizational items for cars being sold today it is crazy!  Really, you could buy them all and still have a disaster car if you don’t have a system of order to begin with.  So, this is a list of tips and tools that work for me (if they work for me they will work for you).  Believe!! 

First of all, this is a list of must have items for EVERY car:

Tissues, wet wipes, first aid kit, sunblock (soccer), bug spray, glass cleaner (smudges on sunglasses…boo), chapstick, Advil, hand sanitizer, gum, granola bars, napkins and straws.  This might seem extreme, but it is such a GOOD feeling to be READY FOR ANYTHING!

Next, is staying organized!

This Case Logic Back Seat Organizer is a life saver for today’s families, who spend hours and days (or so it seems) driving from one activity to another.  This is a great place to keep granola bars, water bottles, books and any other goodies your kids need close at hand and clearly visible!

I should also mention it makes you a much better driver…you can actually focus on the road and not the traveling restaurant you were once forced to run!!

Most adults can do a pretty good job of staying clean, but kids know just how to destroy a car in 30 seconds!  So, the key word is MAINTAIN.  At the end of each day, when you come home everyone must take their “stuff” out and put it where it belongs.  I can be a bit over the top, but I have a dustbuster in the garage and vacuum the car every other day (seems to be the magic number for crumb accumulation).

 

The Mountainsmith Modular Hauler is a great way to keep items you do not use regularly in the trunk of your car.  An example of how this can come in handy is having a change of clothes for kids, to avoid frustration and to be prepared for food spills or after school activity outings.

Folding Seats and Blankets are another essential for a family involved in many activities and sports.  There are so many mornings you walk out the door and think you have everything, but wait….ouch!  You are standing in the cold for an hour on a wet soccer field shivering (I know the feeling).

Now that you are ready for anything you can not forget the potential emergencies that could stand in your way.  While the world is getting smaller by the day, it can feel HUGE if you are stranded in the middle of nowhere!

Emergency Kits are essential and you can make your own or purchase one from www.beprepared.com.  Items that you should always have in an emergency kit are:  jumper cables, tire pressure gauge, fix-a-flat, reflective safety vest, roadside reflectors, flashlight, batteries, auto escape hammer, cat litter or sand for traction, and flares. 

Spring break is here and summer is around the corner, so now is the time to get your car ready for some serious travel!

Suitcase Tips for any Trip!

One of the most overwhelming parts of a vacation is packing. I’m always afraid I’m going to forget something — especially when I’m responsible for getting our entire family prepared to pack for the trip.

  There are so many things to be packed: clothes, toiletries, shoes, books and if you have kids there are even more things to add to the list!  Then, how do you ensure that the clothes do not get wrinkles and make sure no liquids spill on your clothes.  FORGET IT!  Cancel the trip…..Just kidding!  

These packing tips and goodies can help avoid any packing pitfalls:   

Tip #1
A week or so before the trip, prepare a list of items that you know you will need and start setting aside those items in order to save time on your actual packing day.  You can keep this list in your suitcase as a handy guide for your return and for any future travels you do.  This packing list from the amazing travel expert Rick Steve (I would do anything for his job!!) is all you could ask for: 
http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/packlist.htm

Tip #2
Clothes ideally should not be folded as crease marks may appear on them while packed in the suitcase. Rather, rolling them with medium tightness will keep them crease free. You can roll up two or more of the same kind of garments together. Take the pants, close their buttons and zippers and fold them lengthwise. Now place all of them one over another and roll up. The skirts should be  packed in the same manner. The arms of shirts, tops and sweaters should be folded at the back first before they are rolled. Keep all these garments next to each other.

Tip #3
Keep the number of shoes, handbags and belts minimum.  I know this is really hard!!  We all know the importance of accessories; but, sometimes we must travel “light.”  They take up too much room and can weigh down your luggage!  Placing the shoes at the border of the suitcase, in such a way that the soles touch the lining of the suitcase and not the clothes, keeps your clothes from getting soiled. Put them in plastic bags or fabric bags that come in certain brand name shoe boxes to avoid ANY damage or dirt.  Wal-Mart sells cute PB 2 shoe bags for $16!

Tip #4
Pack all the essential toiletries like toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, sunscreen, medicines, and other such important things in zip lock bags, so leaky items will not spill on to your clothes and ruin them.  There is also something to be said about a cute travel bag like the ML Traveler from Stephanie Johnson.com.

Tip #5
So, now you need to think about “how” to arrange!  Think layers!  Keep them in the order in which you need them.

That means the clothes that you need on the last day of your trip should be kept at the bottom. If your suitcase does not have a separate section for socks and undergarments, keep them at the bottom corner. The laundry bag in which you will put all your dirty clothes should be kept at the top for easy access. The bag containing all the toiletries should be kept below the laundry bag. Fragile items should be kept in between the top layers of clothes, so that they get adequate cushion. Valuables like cash, travelers cheques and bank cards should be dispersed throughout all of your bags and luggage (never in one place).

What really matters is that you are GOING ON VACATION!!!  Have fun and send Sweet Abode a postcard! 

“Green” with Envy

It seems as soon as the temperature starts to rise and the flowers begin to bloom that I need to do some reshuffling in my home.

I feel the need to make sure the windows are extra clean and that things in my house are exposing us to the “light” we have been yearning for all winter long.

Do you drool over home and decor magazines all winter like I do?  Do you realize that rushing out to your favorite boutique or other furniture shop doesn’t seem quite right when you have plenty of pieces already?  YOU ARE NOT ALONE! 

“These are the days of miracle and wonder”, like Paul Simon used to sing…it’s true!  Look at these days as times for you to ponder your “nest” and shop in your own home.  I have been called the “reshuffling queen.”  Once a piece in my house , be it furniture or art, starts wearing on me I realize it has a greater purpose and position somewhere else.  My goal is to always keep it unpredictable and exciting.  When that’s not happening, it gets repurposed in a whole new fashion…to the curb!

There are all forms of recycling.  One of my favorite forms is to take things or pick things up from the curb to be repurposed.  It is amazing what your neighbors throw away.  Pay attention the day before and the day of TRASH DAY!

Where do you put your guests’ coats?

One of the greatest features in a home are CLOSETS!  You now have storage and there is an added bonus when you have a hall closet.  Well, you move in and decide that closet will be for guest coats ONLY and you will get really nice hangers to show your guests their coats have a prestigious location to call their own when they come over.  Fast-forward 2 to 3 years and all of a sudden your closets are overflowing and the kids rooms and playrooms are maxed out and you realize….that hall closet is EMPTY.   Yay, again!

We all know that the hall closet is really the place to throw things when guests come unexpectedly or you have run out of storage space in all of your other closets.  There are a number of space-saving tools you can use to maximize this very useful nugget of space.

Clear out all things that do not make sense in that closet.  Board games need to go to the kids’ rooms or the playroom or living room.  Remember to donate any outdated outerwear.  Properly storing your items maximizes your space and time.

Low plastic bins are the best way to store boots and cleats.  An umbrella stand is a great way to store baseball bats, tennis rackets and even wrapping paper; this makes it easy to find what you are looking for and nothing falls out of the closet when you open the door. 

Cute storage boxes like these from organize.com add a pop of color to your once drab family containment center (aka hall closet).  You can even take it to the next level by painting the inside of the closet a fun and bright hue.

Being organized will also help you get out the door faster!  Hanging sweater shelves will add a lot of space for things like scarves and mittens, baseball caps, balls and gloves and make it easy to see and grab.  A hosiery organizer is a great place to store the little things that get lost easily like sunscreen, bug spray, batteries and first-aid items. 

When trying to maximize space, don’t forget to look at ALL of the available space…like the door!  Adding a couple of hooks on your door will create a nice place to hang your bags and hats.  If you do a lot of gift-wrapping there is a great over-the-door gift wrapping station from www.organizeit.com.

Get inspired and get organized! 

Photos courtesy of Real Simple and Martha Stewart

Mudroom Advice

Assess, Measure, Plan, Purchase, Install
  
So, you want to incorporate a mudroom into your home…where shall you put it?
 
Step1 — Define your storage needs. What do you REALLY need to store in this location (essentials)? What things are convenient to have available when you walk out the door (handy)? What items do you use only occasionally or seasonally that might be stored elsewhere (seasonal)?
Step2 — Assess your storage area. What spaces do you have for storage? Can you add furniture to the room or hall you want to use? Is there wall space for hooks or cubbies?
This mudroom locker from StacksandStacks.com is a great solution if your kitchen or laundry room is near your main entryway and you have a corner that can be filled. 
Step3 — Measure and plan. If you can not build out a space for a mudroom, think creatively.  Is there room for a second rod or an over-the-door organizer in your hall closet? Will a chest of drawers fit in the kitchen corner? Can you hang hooks in the hall?
Country Living has a great example of how a couple of hooks and an interesting bench can work as a “hallway mudroom”.

If there is no way you can fit a mudroom “in” your house, you always have the option of your garage or carport.
familybalancesheet.org has a great idea for using a blank wall of your garage as your mudroom.  This way your “stuff” is not the centerpiece when your guests arrive!
 
A mudroom really is a mom’s friend.  With a little creativity, you can find a spot for the trail of “stuff” that follows your kids home every day!