Monthly Archives: January 2015

Easy 3 STEP DIY Chalkboard Wall

For what seems like years I have had my eye on transforming one of our walls into a chalkboard canvas for our family.  Our walls are mostly covered with doors and windows so it took living here for nearly four years to figure out a space that would work.  This wall in our family room felt like the perfect place.  We have gained and lost furniture as we have grown as a family and this wall which housed the backdrop for our holiday festivities-tree, presents… well it ended up empty after the holidays and I jumped at the chance to paint.

The wall had seen it’s better days… before we learned that Raymond was allergic to apples, he threw up an entire apple pouch against the wall-and it didn’t wipe off as well as you would want it to- plus with toys in primary colors for the last couple of years that have been ran against, thrown against, raced against, the wall was a myriad of red, blue, and yellow streaks.  Not too evident to anyone until the wall lost the shroud of the holidays and we moved a bookcase.



I painted during nap times and after the kids went to sleep at night.  I used three quarts of chalkboard paint from Target.  In hindsight, I definitely should have picked up a gallon.  Our ceilings are 9 feet tall and the space is roughly 6 feet wide.  I cleaned up the stains, cleaned the baseboards and did an extra step of prep to get straight lines.

EXPERT TIP: Tape the walls and ceilings and PAINT the tape with the color of the wall that it touches- the bleed through will be the color you want… it shouldn’t be a lot of bleeding… if you tape the right way BUT I wanted crisp, crisp, crisp lines seeing as it was going to be easy to see if there were any mistakes with such a dark color of paint. And? It worked.  Took thirty extra minutes.  But well worth the aggravation.


I painted three thin coats of paint allowing adequate time for it to dry.  The smell was atrocious and I was thankful that for the first time in the history of me painting in Phoenix I could open up the windows to air out the house. Win. I used a foam roller and two inch brush.



Now for the waiting.  You will notice when you paint that the wall becomes almost tacky to the touch. Well, you need to wait a couple days for the paint to cure.  I waited two and a half.


Take chalk and CHALK IT UP.  No seriously, rub chalk all over the wall.  My husband and I tackled this during a nap-time and most assuredly you should not have little ones around when you do this.  The chalk that feels the air? Palpable.

We opened up the windows on the crisp 60 degree day and went through nearly 12 pieces of full sized chalk.


STEP 3: Towel it off.  We used our old, white cotton rags to smooth out the board and then immediately wiped up the baseboard and vacuumed the area.  Easy and I immediately fell in love with the board.  So much softer on the eyes than the stark black paint we lived with for days. LOVE.


I chose to paint the cover for the gas line and the outlet cover so that they wouldn’t stand out on the wall.  I am very happy about that decision.





The bits and pieces from covering the wall. Good times.  I realized I fear my nails running on the chalkboard more than many, many, many phobias. Spiders? Eh. My nails on a chalkboard<shudders uncontrollably>.  Learned something new I guess. Thankful for chalk pens. No nails on a chalkboard for me, EVER again.

Slowly adding in a couple of decorations.  Pink banner for Valentines Day, clad with a quote from Cinderella for our #DisneySide Party we are hosting soon.

We now have a small crate of dustless chalk in The Secret Hideout that they can use throughout the day.  Thankful that they know that this is the only wall to color… and the small table I painted that has a chalkboard top. Love our craft corner.





Thankful that I now have a wall to use as a backdrop for pictures… think of the captions… the quotes… and of course the extra art time my little ones now get?!? Worth it.  The project cost me roughly $25 dollars in paint and tape.  I know that some of you probably don’t use tape, but these arthritic hands need the extra assurance that tape surely brings.

Are there any DIY updates you can do in a long weekend?  Do you have a chalkboard wall in your house? 

Would love to hear from you!

Arizona Renaissance Festival{Coupon & Giveaway}

fairy princess

Fun For the Whole Family The Arizona Renaissance Festival is a medieval amusement park, a 13-stage theater, a 30-acre circus, an arts and crafts fair, a jousting tournament and a feast — all rolled into one non-stop, day-long family adventure!

This will be the first year we will attend and I know without a doubt that both Raymond(3) and Emma Marie(1) are going to have a blast.  Goodness I can’t wait to see how what they think about all of the activities… and the food! SIGN ME UP! Can’t wait to sink my teeth into those tasty treats I’ve heard about for years! Huzzah!

knights jousting

I know without a doubt that the jousting matches will be one of Raymond’s(and mine) favorite activities to watch and cheer for! Emma Marie loves, loves, loves to play dress-up so the women dressed as fairies and princesses alike will sure capture her attention.

And now I am so happy to announce that there is a coupon code AND giveaway for a family four pack of tickets!








Kids Free! – Receive One Free Child ticket Per Coupon with One Full Price Adult Ticket Purchased at the Festival Gate.

Coupon valid at the 2015 Festival Box Office only. NOT VALID in conjunction with a FRYS discount ticket or any other discount offer. Not for resale. One coupon per person. Distribution on Festival property is prohibited. VALID FEBRUARY 21, 2015 THROUGH MARCH 29, 2015.

Buy One Adult-Get One Child in Free! COUPON HERE



Enter to Win Tickets Here!


Are you attending the Renaissance Festival in Arizona? Any tips or tricks of what we should see or eat?



#DisneySide @Home Celebration Cars Kit Unvieling

My two little one’s knew that a box of pixie dust was on the way yesterday… which may or may not have been the reason they were nap evaders- mom fail.  On a much happier note- we are beyond excited about being chosen to host a #DisneySide @Home Celebration in February!  Our box featured goodies for preschoolers featuring Cars- Raymond’s MOST FAVORITE THING.


We consider ourselves to be Disney Lovers.  We saved up and last summer were able to show our two little ones the true joys of Disney when we went to Disneyland.  Two toddlers under two at the Happiest Place on Earth for seventeen hours and not one tear shed.






We are saving, saving, saving so that we can hopefully purchase park-hopper tickets this year so that we can visit the infamous Cars Land… that would be such a treat for Raymond! Of course we plan on eating at the same allergy-friendly restaurants as we did last year- Plaza Inn for breakfast and pictures with some favorite characters(waiting in line for pictures in the rest of the park is just too much for our little ones)- the head chef came out to ask what Raymond would like to eat-it is a buffet but as he is deathly allergic to SO, SO MANY foods Disney makes sure to accommodate you as long as you book reservations two weeks in advance(so they can ship in the right food for you-special and sweet).  Raymond received fruit that he could eat(that hadn’t touched the numerous ones he can’t), chocolate milk, and the head chef made him gluten, egg and nut free waffles in the shape of Mickey Mouse. To this day-that is the happiest I’ve ever seen him at the table with food.  Pure Joy.  Waffles are the way to his heart.

We brought plenty of snacks and ate lunch on the road(in the stroller), with frozen yogurt and allergy-friendly Mickey Mouse Ear ice cream as dessert.  Dessert at all three meals? Why yes. Happiest Place on Earth-my stomach would agree.

For dinner we made reservations early-4:30PM at the famous Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue. We eat dinner at home around 5PM and thought that since both of them probably would miss their nap(or nap on the run in the stroller) that an earlier dinner would be perfect.  Our babies get cranky if they are hungry and we wanted to avoid any and all meltdowns.  It is tucked away, far from the hustle and bustle.  A fabulous place to sit outside, relax in the fresh air, the smell of the pine trees, and eat the best BBQ buffet known to man.  Emma Marie easily ate 6 ears of corn, three chicken legs, and a big bowl of beans(at just 10 months old).  Raymond was able to eat their chicken, and he probably put away 4 legs and 8 ears of corn. NOMNOMNOM. The cornbread and ribs melted quite nicely  together for me and we were able to stay away from the crowds of the parades and enjoy a long- hour and a half- meal.  Mason Jar drinks? Diet Coke flowing? They know the ways to my heart.

My husband and I already know our route, what worked for us, and what our kid’s would like to see at Disneyland.  But throw in California Adventure? We are lost… we went once when I taught eighth grade and we took our entire eighth grade to the parks… but that was before Cars Land had been built.

So any and all recommendations for that park with an 18 month old and a three year old would be most welcome!


Now onto the fun unveiling that took place last night!  Miss Emma Marie is clad in her baby Storm-trooper Shirt and Raymond is in his beloved Mickey Mouse shirt from Disneyland.  Very thankful for Maria Bailey, her team at BSM Media, and Disney Parks for sponsoring this party!



Now onto the planning! Valentine’s Day Crafts and baked goods(allergy-friendly)! Woohoo! Excited to show our #DisneySide!


Do you know of any Preschool Valentine’s Day Crafts that we could instill some #DisneySide pixie dust into? Please share!

Plus any tips, tricks, posts on California Adventure and Cars Land would be much appreciated!


Our Secret Hideout: Building the Perfect Fort

Guess what we did? We made DREAMS COME TRUE. That’s right.

We are EXPERT Fort-Makers… we come from a long, long line of professional Fort-Makers-those who delight in making memories with the most simplest of gestures- The Fort. As parents we take our job seriously when it comes to giving our kid’s the best that we can give them. To us, in many ways, that means living out their dreams-their imaginative dreams with the help of a “night in” in our very own pillow forts.


For the past three years our forts full of pillows, lovies, and blankets could be found under our dining room table.  We would snuggle in close, bring in the flashlights and “talk” like they do in The Sandlot(if you don’t know that movie Google it NOW)…. F.O.R.E.V.E.R. They truly don’t know how cool that is yet… but someday they might just come to that realization.

A parent can dream, right?

Now I don’t throw the word EXPERT around without giving a word or two of advice for all you novice Fort-Builders.  ANCHOR. ANCHOR. ANCHOR. The chairs around the table should be pushed out and pillows should be crammed in every nook and cranny-it’s best when no outside light can be noted-and then when you top the table with blankets make sure you ANCHOR those babies down.  A toddler doesn’t know where the “correct” exit is… because really it’s a fort and there is no right or wrong-SO they will exit wherever and whenever they feel like it.



Nothing can ruin a ‘night in’ the fort than the fort coming down the first time an errant toddler runs amok.  One surefire way to make my little one’s day? POPCORN. Seriously, they yell-laugh-shimmy in the kitchen to that sweet, sweet sound of popping.  I wish I remembered to take video… because popcorn dancing is a real thing.  It’s contagious.  And a ton of fun.

Our family favorite has always been Pop Secret Homestyle– made with a sprinkle of salt and a taste of butter. Delicious in a bowl.  Check out this coupon for $1 OFF!

 The famous… well should be famous popcorn shimmy-victory dance.

 Taste Test: Toddler Approved

Here is a look at one of our causal dining room forts. Clad with pillows, lovies, and candles(battery-operated -holy fire hazard batman). Of course a favorite show was added in with the help of technology… but you can bet that they love Mickey just as much as when Dad read’s them their favorite bedtime story.

Remember: Anchor the blankets. Use the weight of the chairs.

Emma Marie ran right out that back wall-thankfully she also ducked-but the fort remained in tact.

 Now this is where I tell you about FULFILLING CHILDHOOD DREAMS.

My husband and I always wanted to give our kids a place of their own.  A fort, secret hideout, something they could claim as their space- an untouchable parent zone-clad with the secret pass-code.

After the holidays we took the time to empty out the space under our stairs.  It took nearly five hours and our garage is not as pretty as it once was(who really needs a pretty garage anyway?) and we were left with this glorious amount of space.

Space where Raymond’s old crib fit perfectly back in the corner.  The daybed version of the crib was installed and pillows added.  Next we added in some LED(crucial-less fire hazard potential) icicle lights that we got on a major sale 90% off.

Seating? Yes.

Light source? Yes.

Now for the name…

Raymond immediately shouted, “The Secret Hideout!” and lectured us on using the proper password to gain entry.

If anyone was wondering… it’s “YOHOHO”.


So after a half hour surrounded by blankets we all headed to The Secret Hideout.  Shouted, “YOHOHO”. Yes, even Miss Emma Marie at just one year’s old knows you have to say that… I can hear her clearly every day pipe those words Each.And.Every.Time she goes in.

Please tell me the cuteness won’t wear off?



So each week we pick a night.  A special night.  Where we all sit together, eat a big bowl of popcorn, and get lost in the wonders that are two toddler’s imaginations.

Please. Never Grow Up.

NOW- if you would like a chance to win MYSTERY prizes please read carefully below.  I am entering Pop Secret’s Contest– You should too!

And don’t forget about the $1 OFF coupon!

Pop Secret is your perfect snack companion on trips into the uncharted reaches of your imagination.

Pop Secret knows that fun, like popcorn, is better when it’s shared. Send Pop Secret your pillow fort stories and pictures on Facebook. You can upload them right to the Pop Secret timeline and tag them #PopSecretForts. They might just share a little something back!

People who submit photos of their pillow forts to the Pop Secret Facebook page will also be eligible to receive a host of mystery prizes and rewards while supplies last. #BOOMSHAKALAKA


Are you an Expert Fort-Maker?  Do you remember building them as kids?

Some of my favorite memories from when I was little came from our mom letting us build forts.


This post was sponsored by Pop Secret. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Our Long Weekend


Sharing a glimpse into our life recently… we are going to the farm and zoo quite often!  Why not when the weather is in the 40s-70s on our visits.  Start out bundled up then just peel off the layers- love our outside time.


Train Ride at Schnepf Farm


Reveling in the fact that some trees do lose their leaves here in Arizona…


Stocking up on lemon and grapefruit goodies- our freezer is now packed with rind and five- 1 gallon bags of lemons sliced, and three- 1 gallon bags of grapefruit sliced.  All the leftover pieces are being used to help clean our garbage disposal.

This past week we were able to witness a gender reveal for our sweet friends!  We took home two of the pink balloons seeing as they are going to be having a boy this June!


We took out ALL of the boxes AND storage(crap) from under our stairs to create a “Secret Hideout” for our two kids.  Sure our garage is storing more items-but it is well worth it.  A dream come true and one that we have wanted to create for the past three years.  Definitely will be showing you some updates to the BEST FORT EVER.

Miss Emma Marie loves all animals dearly.



I immediately break out in the Indiana Jones Theme Song each and every time we go past this “abandoned” jeep.  Even if it’s just kids and I.

I am that person.


Well, hope you all had a wonderful weekend with your loved ones!

We took time yesterday to talk to our little ones about kindness.  It is something we strive for every day in our family but we can all be reminded about how important it is to just be kind.  Kindness matters.

The time is always right to do what is right.  MLK Jr.


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