Jun 282014
 

This post is part of a compensated campaign with Mom It Forward Blogger Network and Vtech but all my opinions are my own.

When I first brought Kayleigh home from the hospital, I was absolutely terrified to let her sleep in her crib in her own room.  I was so afraid that she would somehow fall out of her crib, or worse, stop breathing in the middle of the night.  She slept in the same room with John and me until she was about 8 months old, and then we finally, and hesitantly, transitioned her into her crib in her own room.

Those first couple of weeks that Kayleigh slept in her own room were absolute torture for me.  I was so used to listening to her breathe, and hearing every toss and turn she made throughout the night as I laid in bed.   We keep our bedroom doors closed at night to keep the cats out, and I kept imagining the worst happening to her, as she slept in that room all by herself.

Kayleigh is now 13 months old, and even though I have loosened up a bit, I still want to keep an eye on her while she sleeps.  She is at the age now where she is standing up on her own, and exploring the world around her.  I am very fearful that she might try to escape her crib sometime, and could fall and hurt herself in the process.  John’s cousin’s son climbed out of his crib last year, and broke his arm.  I want to try and prevent that same thing, or something worse, from happening to Kayleigh.

The VTech Safe & Sound Baby Monitor has been an absolute blessing for me.  Now, I can hear every sound Kayleigh makes, and see her too, even though she’s in her own room. 

VTech Safe & Sound Baby Monitor

The VTech Safe & Sound Baby Monitor is top of the line, and has many great features that I love, including:

Pan & Tilt – The camera pans up to 270 degrees side-to-side and tilts as many as 124 degrees up and down, so you can watch as your little one moves about.  Need more detail (like, is her chest still rising and falling???)?  The camera zooms up to 2x!  This is such a great feature, and one that will become more useful as your child grows older and is on the go more.

Infrared LED – You can watch your baby at night without disturbing them.

Multiple Viewing Options – You can choose between single view (one camera only), split view (cycles through cameras on single view before stopping on split view) or patrol mode (single view that transitions to a different camera every 7 seconds).  You can keep an eye on as many as 4 rooms at once!  This would be great if you have multiple children, or to keep an eye on your child as they play in other rooms of the house.

Full-Motion Video & Large Color Screen – The picture on this video camera is very clear, with up to 25 frames per second. 

Temperature Indicator – This is one of my favorite features.  There is a temperature indicator on the parent unit that lets you know if baby is too hot or too cold.  Living in Maine, the temperatures rise and fall very drastically in just a short period of time.  Today, for instance, it was in the high 80’s, and it fell to the low 50’s by 8:00PM.

Talk-Back Intercom – You can talk to your baby from any room in the house with the built-in intercom on the portable parent unit.  How cool is that?!  Quite often when Kayleigh stands up in her crib, she just wants to be comforted back to sleep.  She loves hearing my voice talk to her through the intercom.

This is a baby monitor that will grow with your child.  I am planning to purchase an additional camera to put in Kayleigh’s playroom, so I can keep an eye on her while she plays in there by herself.  Not only will this allow me to make sure she is safe & sound, but it will also allow me to watch her most precious moments.  I can’t wait to catch a glimpse of her dancing around, singing silly songs, playing with her dolls, etc.  I can’t imagine missing out on all of those cute little moments, and now I won’t have to!

VTech Safe & Sound Baby Monitor

Follow VTech on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest to keep up with the latest news and information.

What is your favorite feature of the VTech Safe & Sound Baby Monitor?

 

 

 

 Posted by at 9:22 pm
Jun 242014
 

You will absolutely love this flavorful basil butter!

I was so excited when John brought home a basil plant for me a couple of months ago.  I absolutely adore basil.  I love the intoxicating spicy fragrance and the wonderful flavor. This post contains affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on a link in this post.

Basil Plant

Our basil plant has been doing very well, and even after I gave my sister a bunch of fresh basil leaves a few days ago, we still had plenty left.  I wanted to make something really versatile with the basil, so I decided to make some basil butter, which could be added into a number of different things – pasta, vegetables, etc.

Flavored Butters are AMAZING! Find More Great Recipes!

 Flavored Butter Recipes: Make Your Own Homemade Compound Butter (Recipe Top 50s Book 123) Life-Changing Compound Butters: In 3 Minutes Flat (Grace Légere Cookbooks) Flavored Butters: How to Make Them, Shape Them, and Use Them as Spreads, Toppings, and Sauces (50 Series) Flavored Butter Recipes: Make Your Butter Even Better The 50 Flavors of Butter: Learn The Chef’s Culinary Secrets of Butter

Basil butter is so quick and easy to make.  All you need is a stick of butter and 4 tablespoons of chopped up fresh basil.  You can use your food processor to mix it all up together, but I just smushed it together in a bowl with a fork.

Basil Butter

After it was all mixed together, I wrapped it up in plastic wrap, shaped it into a little log, and put it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to harden a bit.

Basil Butter

Here’s the finished product!  I can’t wait to start adding this butter to my favorite dishes now.  That is, if I can keep myself from devouring the entire thing with a loaf of bread in one sitting!

Basil Butter

What will you put this amazing basil butter on?


 Posted by at 8:52 pm
Jun 232014
 

This post brought to you by FrogTape. All opinions are 100% mine.

As many of you already know, John and I moved into our first home at the beginning of last month, and we have been working hard to spruce the place up.  We have done a lot of work on the outside of the house, by planting flowers, cutting back overgrown trees, and decorating a bit. 

One thing that was really missing from our house was a nice looking house number.  There were numbers on the front of our house when we moved in, but they were really old and worn looking, and begging for an update.

356

I really wanted to make a cute house number sign for our front door.  I’m not really much of a crafty person, and need all of the help I can get in that department.  I turned to FrogTape’s Shape Tape to help me paint a house number sign, and I think it came out adorable!

FrogTape® Shape Tape™ comes in three different patterns: Chevron, Wave and Scallop.  For this project, I chose to use the Chevron pattern.  In addition to the FrogTape® Shape Tape™, I purchased 4 acrylic paint colors, foam paint brushes, a wired ribbon, a wooden board and wooden numbers.

FrogTape® Shape Tape™

I started my project by painting my wooden board with the lightest colored paint.

FrogTape® Shape Tape™

Then, I painted my wooden numbers in black.

FrogTape® Shape Tape™

Next, I cut and applied my FrogTape® Shape Tape™ to the wooden board.  I wanted to have a larger chevron pattern on the outside edges, and a smaller chevron pattern in the middle.  The tape was very easy to apply. 

FrogTape® Shape Tape™

Next, I painted over the FrogTape® Shape Tape™ with the two green colors.

FrogTape® Shape Tape™

I let the paint dry for a couple of days, and then carefully pulled it off to reveal my beautiful chevron pattern.  The FrogTape® Shape Tape™ did a really great job at creating a perfectly straight edge.  That’s because FrogTape® Shape Tape™ is treated with patented PaintBlock® Technology, a super absorbent polymer that reacts with the water in latex paint and instantly gels to form a micro-barrier that seals the edges of the tape, which helps prevent paint bleed.

FrogTape® Shape Tape™

This is what it looked like after I pulled all the tape off.

FrogTape® Shape Tape™

Next, I glued on the wooden numbers that I had painted black, and added a bow I made with wire ribbon.  Here’s the finished project!

Chevron House Number Sign

Chevron House Number Sign

FrogTape® Shape Tape™

What do you think? I love it!

Do you have a project that needs painting?  You can find FrogTape® Shape Tape™ at participating Lowes and Walmart locations, and all Menards stores across the United States. Visit http://frogtape.com/shapetape for more information.

Don’t forget to follow FrogTape® Shape Tape™ on Pinterest and Twitter for inspiration and ideas, and to keep up with their latest news and promotions.

What projects are you working on that Shape Tape™ would be perfect for?

Visit Sponsor's Site

 Posted by at 5:05 pm
Jun 222014
 

 

John and I were in the grocery store the other day picking up s’mores ingredients, and I saw these absolutely adorable Patriotic Peeps.  With the 4th of July coming right up, I just had to have them!  What’s more fun than Peep s’mores, right?

These Peeps are Vanilla Creme flavored, and they are soooo delicious, especially when melted and sandwiched between a crisp graham cracker and a warm & melty Hershey’s bar. 

To dress the s’mores up even more, I added red, white and blue icing (I used store bought) on the top graham cracker, and topped them with another Peep!  How cute are these??

If you want, you could even use more chocolate on top instead of icing!

Patriotic Peep S'mores

Inspired by www.marshmallowpeeps.com.

Ingredients:

Graham Crackers
Hershey’s Chocolate Bars
Patriotic Peeps (Click here to find a store near you that sells them.)
Red, white and blue icing, or red, white and blue melted chocolate

Directions:

1. Break the graham crackers in half, so that you now have two squares.

2. Melt the Peep over a fire or low heat. 

3. Layer the marshmallow over a square of chocolate, with the graham cracker square on the bottom.

4. Top the s’more with the second graham cracker square and decorate with icing, or drizzle melted chocolate on top.

5. Top off with a Peep and add sprinkles if you want.

Will you celebrate the 4th with these Patriotic Peep S’mores?

 Posted by at 11:57 pm
Jun 212014
 

 

The 4th of July is just around the corner, and that means families all across the USA will be gathering in their back yards, and grilling up some burgers.  Just in time for the holiday, Hellmann’s is staging a “Burgervention,” putting an end to dry burgers across America.

I’ve had my fair share of burgers over the years, and often times they are flavorless and dried out, and sometimes even burned to a crisp and barely recognizable as a burger.  Let’s just say that some people are better at making burgers than others.  Guilty parties shall remain nameless.

It’s Time for a #BURGERVENTION

If you want to blow your friends and family away with a juicy burger that’s bursting with flavor this summer,  I challenge you to try out my recipe for a Bacon & Smoked Gouda Stuffed Jalapeno Burger.  There is one little secret ingredient in this burger that makes it so moist, you won’t even believe it.  That secret ingredient, is Hellmann’s mayonnaise.  You probably already have a jar of that in your fridge, and if you don’t, I suggest you run out and buy one asap!

For years, I have used Hellmann’s mayonnaise as a topping on my cooked burgers, but never once thought to put the mayonnaise directly into the meat mixture before cooking them.  I’m so happy that I have finally found the secret to a juicy burger though!

I created this burger by starting with all of the ingredients in Hellmann’s Best Ever Juicy Burger recipe.  You can take this recipe and pretty much add whatever you want to it, and your burger will come out juicier than you could ever imagine. 

These burgers were pretty much the best burgers I have ever had in my life – even better than ones I have had in a restaurant.  They just melted in my mouth, and were bursting with a spicy flavor from the fresh jalapenos.  The warm and melty smoked Gouda and crispy bacon in the middle was so delicious.  I can’t stop thinking about it.

Bacon & Smoked Gouda Stuffed Jalapeno Burger

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Hellmann’s®  Real Mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1 envelope Lipton® Recipe Secrets® Onion Soup Mix
2 lbs. ground beef [or ground turkey]
Smoked Gouda cheese
2 jalapenos (diced w/seeds)
8 slices cooked bacon
8 hamburger buns

Directions:

Mix hamburger meat, bread crumbs, onion soup mix, Hellmanns Real Mayonnaise and diced jalapenos together in a large bowl. 

Bacon & Smoked Gouda Stuffed Jalapeno Burger Ingredients

Separate hamburger mixture into 2 large portions, and then each large portion into 8 smaller portions.  This makes it easier to get uniform sized burgers.  Flatten 8 of the hamburger mixture portions out into thin patties and lay out on a plate or tray.

Bacon & Smoked Gouda Stuffed Jalapeno Burger

Top each patty with 1 slice of bacon and 2 slices of smoked Gouda cheese.  I used about 2/3 of a 10 oz. block of smoked Gouda and kept my slices on the thick side.  I love cheese!!

Bacon & Smoked Gouda Stuffed Jalapeno Burger

Mmmmm…..

Bacon & Smoked Gouda

Form the remaining 8 portions of hamburger mixture into thin patties and lay on top of the patties with the bacon and smoked Gouda cheese.

Bacon & Smoked Gouda Stuffed Jalapeno Burger

 Seal the 2 patties together around the bacon and smoked Gouda cheese and shape into a round burger.

Bacon & Smoked Gouda Stuffed Jalapeno Burger

Grill or broil burgers to your liking, and add any toppings that you wish.  I like to cook them long enough to just start melting the smoked cheese a little bit.  When you sink your teeth into the middle of the burger, and bite into that warm and melty pile of smoked Gouda, it’s so heavenly.  Have a safe & happy 4th of July, and enjoy your JUICY burgers!

Bacon & Smoked Gouda Stuffed Jalapeno Burger

Visit www.hellmanns.com or tweet @Hellmanns #Burgervention for recipes and tips to make the Best Ever Juicy Burger for family and friends this summer.

What ingredients will you add to your Best Juicy Burger?

 

Disclosure:  I received a Gift Card from Modern Mom and Hellmann’s to help with burger intervention. All opinions are my own.

 

 Posted by at 12:53 am
Jun 192014
 

 

I was in the grocery store the other day, and found myself in the jam aisle.  I was tired of getting my usual strawberry, so I decided to pick up a jar of apricot preserves instead.  I think it’s been years since I have had apricot jam.  I had a little bit on my toast the next day, and it was everything I had hoped it would be – sweet, refreshing and delicious.  

I kept craving that apricot jam, but I didn’t really want more toast, so I decided to turn it into a dip instead. Paired with cool cream cheese and spicy jalapenos, it’s a perfect spread for crackers or a crusty loaf of bread!  It’s a perfect balance between spicy and sweet.

This recipe for Spicy Apricot Spread is super easy.  There are only three ingredients.  Those are my favorite kinds of recipes, the ones you can just whip up in a couple of minutes, without having to fill a shopping cart at the grocery store. 

Spicy Apricot Spread

Ingredients:

8 oz. cream cheese
10 oz. apricot preserves
1 jalapeno (remove seeds and dice)

Directions:

Allow cream cheese and preserves to soften for a bit on the counter.  Once softened, mix together until smooth and creamy.  Stir in diced jalapeno. Chill for at least a few hours before serving. 

Do you have a favorite cold dip recipe for summer? 

 

 Posted by at 3:58 pm
Jun 192014
 

I received tickets to Story Land in exchange for my honest review and opinion.  No other consideration was received. 

Story Land logo

Kayleigh turned a year old last month, and I’ve been so excited to do some fun things with her this summer, like playing in the sand on the beach, visiting the zoo, and swinging at the playground.  After being cooped up in the house over the longest winter ever, I have also been craving a family road trip.  When I was offered tickets to visit Story Land in New Hampshire, I just couldn’t say no!

When I was a kid, my parents brought me to Story Land nearly every summer, starting when I was 2 years old.  I have so many fond memories of walking around and riding the fun rides with my sisters and cousins.  It was always a blast. 

Story Land, New Hampshire

 Photos courtesy of Story Land 

I haven’t been to Story Land in many years, and I am really excited to see all of the changes they have made since my last visit, and to also take a stroll down memory lane with some of my favorites, like taking a ride on the Story Land Queen (a swan boat!).  

While Kayleigh is only a year old this summer, there are still plenty of things for us to do with her, like driving the Antique Cars and Farm Tractors, taking a spin in Alice’s Tea Cup and the Cuckoo Clockenspiel, riding the Huff, Puff & Whistle Railroad, “Panning for Gemstones” at the new Mining Company, and more! There are plenty of exciting things for older kids to do as well!

I just know Kayleigh is going to fall in love with everything Story Land has to offer, just as I did when I was a child. I think it’s safe to say that this will be the first of many annual trips to Story Land for our family!

Story Land is a fun family amusement park that has been entertaining families for sixty years!  Story Land is located in Glen, NH, only six miles north of North Conway (a fantastic place to do some shopping!).  It’s about a 3 hour drive for us, but it will be well worth it.  This will be our first family road trip!

In addition to their new wooden roller coaster, Roar-O-Saurus, Story Land has added a new line of Organic Selects!  They  feel that it is important to provide dining options that include wholesome alternatives such as organic chicken tenders, hamburgers, and salads made with premium quality ingredients. The park will also begin offering more nutritious snack items in addition to classic theme park treats.  This summer guests will see organic granola bars, yogurt, and apple juice, all made with natural ingredients, offered as sides to kid’s meals and as al a carte items. Just because you’re on vacation, doesn’t mean that you have to eat unhealthy foods!  Story Land is also breastfeeding friendly.

SL_Roar-O-Saurus April

 Photo courtesy of Story Land

DISCOUNT OFFER!

Story Land has offered a $3.00 discount off the $30.99 General Admission price (children under 2 get in FREE!) to Sincerely, Mindy readers.  Simply visit http://shout.lt/s1K1 and enter code SLBLOG14 in the promo box in the upper right hand corner. 

Follow Story Land on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for news and updates!

Follow me on Instagram, too, as I’ll be posting live pics from our visit!

Have you ever been to Story Land, or do you plan to visit this summer? 

 Posted by at 1:12 am
Jun 172014
 

If you’re reading this post, there is a good chance you are wondering how you can cheer up a pregnant woman. Maybe your wife, friend, sister or daughter is pregnant and hasn’t really been feeling like herself lately. You’d like to do something nice to cheer her up, but you’re not exactly sure what to do. Well, I have some really great ideas to help cheer up a pregnant woman in your life. This post contains affiliate links, and I will receive compensation if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

My sister, Angela, is 32 weeks pregnant now, and has hit that end of pregnancy slump, so I’ve been thinking of some things to do to cheer her up a little.  I remember getting to that point in my pregnancy with Kayleigh last year, and just being so tired of being pregnant, and just plain tired!  I went all the way to 41 weeks with my pregnancy with her, and every day at the end seemed like an absolute eternity.

While you can’t get that baby out of her as soon as she may like, there are many other things that you can do to cheer up a pregnant woman, especially at the end of her pregnancy.  What I wanted most during that time, was something to just take my mind off the fact that I was super pregnant.  When your belly is huge, and your body aches all over, and you’re not sleeping because you can’t get comfortable, and you’re peeing every 2 minutes, the pregnancy can just seem so consuming and overwhelming.  I just wanted a distraction from all of that for a while.

If you’d like to do something to cheer up a pregnant woman in your life, try one of these…

10 Ways to Cheer Up a Pregnant Woman

1.  Pamper her – I’ve never met a pregnant woman that would say “no” to a day of pampering.  Take her out to get her hair and nails done, for a massage, a spa treatment, etc.  If you can’t afford all of that, give her an at-home spa experience.  Pick up a bottle of her favorite nail polish and paint her fingernails and toenails for her.  She probably can’t reach her toenails right now, so would love someone to paint them for her.  Buy some nice lotion and give her a gentle foot massage. You can also find face cleansing masks for fairly cheap, and I always feel so refreshed after using one on my face. A relaxing day of pampering is a surefire way to cheer up a pregnant woman! Just make sure any beauty products you get are safe for pregnant women.

These Gift Baskets are Perfect for Pampering a Pregnant Woman!

 Earth Mama A Little Something for Mama-to-Be organic pregnancy Gift Set, 5 Piece Gift Basket Village Great Expectations Gift Basket for Mom-To-Be 3rd Trimester Pregnancy Gift Box Earth Mama New Mom Organic Gift Box | Set of 5 Earth Mama Items + Bonus Gift Box with Ribbon & Card

2.  Take her out to lunch – I felt so cooped up in the house during those final weeks of pregnancy.  I jumped at every chance to get out and actually feel like a normal human being.  It was a lot of fun to go out to lunch with a couple of friends, and have a nice meal.  This may be one of the last chances she has to get out of the house for a while, so she will truly appreciate the gesture.

3.  Clean her house – At the end of my pregnancy, it was really hard for me to do much of anything.  My belly was enormous, and caused me to have a lot of back pain.  I also had severe heartburn all the time, and just didn’t feel good.  It was very hard to keep up with the house work, and I loved it when my Mom would come clean for me.  She would vacuum, wash my dishes, help with the laundry, and pick up clutter, while I spent some time relaxing with my feet up.  It was heavenly.

4.  Cook her a meal – I seem to recall eating a lot of take-out at the end of my pregnancy, simply because I didn’t feel like cooking and dealing with all of the dirty dishes after.  Ask her what her favorite meals are, and surprise her one night.  She will enjoy a home-cooked meal that she didn’t have to make.

She’ll Love These Awesome Cookbooks Full of Healthy Recipes for Pregnant Women!

 Natural Pregnancy Cookbook: Over 125 Nutritious Recipes for a Healthy Pregnancy The Whole 9 Months: A Week-By-Week Pregnancy Nutrition Guide with Recipes for a Healthy Start Healthy, Happy Pregnancy Cookbook: Over 125 Delicious Recipes to Satisfy You, Nourish Baby, and Combat Common Pregnancy Discomforts The Pregnancy Cookbook (Revised and Expanded Edition) The Pregnancy Cookbook: 25 Quick & Easy Recipes packed with the Nutrients needed During Pregnancy The Well-Rounded Pregnancy Cookbook: Give Your Baby a Healthy Start with 100 Recipes That Adapt to Fit How You Feel PREGNANCY COOKBOOK: 90 Recipes Ready Within 30 Minutes. (A Pregnancy Cookbook) What to Eat When You’re Pregnant: A Week-by-Week Guide to Support Your Health and Your Baby’s Development

5.  Take her shopping for new maternity clothes – By the end of my pregnancy, I was quickly outgrowing all of the maternity clothes that I had bought early on in my pregnancy.  I desperately needed some new items, and I felt so much better after John took me out shopping one day.  It’s amazing how much better you feel in clothes that fit you correctly, especially when you are feeling as big as a house.

6.  Offer to babysit for her – If she has other kids at home, offer to take them for a while so she can have some peace and quiet and time to relax.  I didn’t have any other children at home when I was pregnant with Kayleigh, but I sure did enjoy having quiet time to myself, and taking long naps.

7.  Take her out for a walk – Going for a walk outside can be very relaxing.  Not only is it nice to get out of the house, but it’s also good for her to get some sunshine and exercise too.  It will give her mood a boost for sure!

8.  Have a girls’ night in – Gather up a group of her friends and have a good old-fashioned girls’ night in.  Mix up some mocktails, break out the board games, watch a romantic comedy and have some fun.  It will help to take her mind off of being pregnant for a while.

9.  Have a fun photo-shoot – My Mom took some pregnancy photos of me at the end of my pregnancy, and it was actually a lot of fun.  I got dressed up, and we had a little photo-shoot outdoors.  It was really nice to get outside and get some fresh air.  It also allowed me to embrace my pregnant belly, and feel beautiful again.

Check Out These Fun Ideas for Celebrating that Beautiful Pregnant Belly! 

 TAFLY 10 Sheets Facial Expressions Pregnancy Baby Bump Belly Stickers Maternity Week Stickers Proudbody Basic Pregnancy Belly Cast Kit ProudBody Pregnancy Belly Painting Kit Ownstyle Couples Belly Stickers for Pregnant Women as Sticker Photo Studio Free Collocation 9 Pcs (09)

10.  Offer to help her get the nursery ready – After my baby shower, I was completely overwhelmed.  My living room looked like a baby store had exploded in it, and I didn’t even know where to start in putting everything away in the nursery.  I was so exhausted, and just didn’t want to deal with it.  My sister, Angela, stayed with me for a couple of days, and helped me get everything put away, and it was such a huge help.  It was one of the things I appreciated most in the final weeks of my pregnancy.

Find the Perfect Gift for a Mama-to-Be!

Pregnant women also love thoughtful gifts. Check out these Earth Mama Angel Baby Gifts for some great ideas. They are specifically for pregnant women, and include things like organic heartburn tea, lip balms, body butter, morning wellness tea (this helped me SO much with morning sickness when I was pregnant!!), body wash and more! Earth Mama Angel Baby also has some really great gifts for after the baby arrives!

Earth Mama Angel Baby - Tea

What cheered you up at the end of your pregnancy?  Do you have anything to add to the list of ways to cheer up a pregnant woman?



Image provided by freedigitalphotos.net.

 Posted by at 10:40 am
Jun 162014
 

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Pier 1 Imports. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and to thank me for participating.

Pier 1 Imports LogoJohn and I just moved into our first house last month.  While we have a lot of “projects” we want to get to, we really wanted to start sprucing up our back yard as soon as possible.  With summer almost here, it’s the perfect time to create an outdoor oasis in the back yard.

Our new house sits on over 2 acres and we are lucky enough to have an enormous, well landscaped back yard, with lots of room to entertain friends and family. Already in place are a large deck, a ground patio area, and then another covered patio area off the back of our garage.  Some day, we will have all of these areas furnished, and full of color, but this is something we will have to work on a little at a time for now.

Back Yard Photo

John and I decided to start sprucing up our ground patio area first, as it is really the main focal point of the back yard.  We bought a new grill, built a fire pit with some large rocks we found at the gravel pit (for FREE!), and we bought a variety of colorful flowers for the flower boxes that were already in place on the patio.  We had some large overgrown trees in the yard, so we cut them back, and it really opened the yard up more and brought in a lot more sunshine too.  

I really wanted to create a back yard oasis.  A back yard oasis can mean different things to different people. To me, it is a quiet, inviting place where I can grill up some burgers and hot dogs, sip on fruity drinks,  listen to beach music, and sit by the fire at the end of the night, toasting marshmallows for s’mores.  It is a very laid back, relaxing environment, and a place where friends and family love to spend time, sharing stories and lots of laughs.

After we opened the yard up, and added our grill, fire pit and flowers, the next issue we had to deal with was seating, as we didn’t have any place for guests to sit.  My parents gave us an old patio table that they had, and we bought some chairs to go with it.  The table did not have an umbrella, however, as my parents’ umbrella had snapped in half during a heavy rainstorm a few years ago.

I was really grateful for the table, but couldn’t stand to look at that empty hole in the middle of it where the umbrella was supposed to go.  I desperately wanted to get a beautiful umbrella for our new patio table.  I thought it would really help to create that laid back, beach atmosphere I was going for.  So, I set off to Pier 1 Imports with my sister, Angela, in search of an umbrella.  It was an hour drive for us, but it was so worth it!  All of their outdoor collection was on sale, too! Pier 1 Imports

Just as I had anticipated, Pier 1 had an incredible selection of patio umbrellas.  There were so many colors, patterns and styles to choose from.

PIer 1 Imports Umbrellas

One umbrella in particular caught my eye.  It had the same cream and green coloring in it as my house does, with a vibrant red and orange floral pattern on it.  It is just gorgeous. While there were many other things in the store that caught my eye, I just couldn’t walk out without that umbrella.  I had to have it!

Pier 1 Imports Patio Umbrella

Speaking of other things that caught my eye in Pier 1 Imports, take a look at some other items from their outdoor collection…

This swing looks so relaxing.  I would love to spend the day curled up on that!

Pier 1 Imports Wicker Swing

This umbrella was really gorgeous!

Pier 1 Imports Umbrella

These wicker seats look so comfy.

Pier 1 Imports Seating

And the pillows at Pier 1 Imports… There were SO many to choose from, in bright, beautiful colors. They were just gorgeous.

Pier 1 Imports Pillows

Pier 1 Imports Pillows

John used to have a Papasan chair that he was very attached to. He had it for many, many years until it finally wore out one day. I would love to get him another one!

Pier 1 Imports Papisan

Aren’t these statues just too cute?? I’d love to have them in my back yard.

Pier 1 Imports Monkey Statues

Pier 1 Imports had a table full of red, white and blue items just in time for the 4th of July. I really love these beautiful lanterns!

Pier 1 Imports Lanterns

We are planning to add more light to our back yard, and these string lantern lights would be just right!

Pier 1 Imports Lantern Lights

These flower stakes are so cute and whimsical. I love them!

Pier 1 Imports Flower Stakes

Pier 1 Imports has a huge selection of outdoor dinnerware, in beautiful bright colors.

Pier 1 Imports Dishes

I think this Bistro Set was my favorite item in the whole store. I just love that bright red color. I’d love to share a cup of tea with a friend at that table.

Pier 1 Imports Bistro Set

In addition to the umbrella I bought, I also purchased two sets of sea glass string lights.  They were a beautiful shade of green, and matched our house, and new umbrella very well.  We also didn’t have any lighting at all in our back yard, so it was very dark out there at night time.  I thought these would be lovely, and help to add a bit of light to the back yard at night. You can really create a nice, relaxing mood with the right lighting.

Pier 1 Sea glass string lights

I set up the umbrella and lights on the patio area, and couldn’t believe the transformation.  It really added a nice touch of color, and a very warm, inviting feeling to the patio.  I set the table with some matching green plates and orange and green plastic hurricane glasses and crazy straws.  I added a nice pop of color with some red, orange, yellow and green balloons that matched the colors in the umbrella, also.  Balloons are such an easy, and cheap way to add fun to a party.

Outdoor Oasis

We had a few friends and family over for dinner, and grilled up some chicken and beef kebabs, a grilled tequila cinnamon pineapple (recipe to come at a later date!), corn on the cob, potato salad, and macaroni salad (I used small shells for this and served it in a plastic sand bucket!).  I also hollowed out a watermelon, and filled it with balls of watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe. FoodIt was a good thing we had that umbrella, because the sun was really bright that evening!

Outdoor Oasis

Pier 1 Outdoor Party

At the end of the night, we sat around the fire and toasted marshmallows for s’mores.  It was the perfect way to end the evening.  Everyone had a really great time, and I can’t wait to host another outdoor party in my back yard!

Pier 1 Outdoor Party

What is your favorite item from the Pier 1 Imports Outdoor Collection?

 Posted by at 10:08 am
Jun 152014
 

Disclosure:  I received a free sample in exchange for my honest review and opinion. 

Seventh Generation LogoBefore Kayleigh was born, I had visions of using cloth diapers.  I knew they were much better for the environment than disposable diapers, and also did not have the chemicals that can often times be found in disposable diapers.  

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Seventh Generation Diapers

I’ve been using these diapers on Kayleigh for about a few weeks now, and they have not leaked once, even overnight!  I love knowing that I am using a diaper that is better for the environment, and Kayleigh too.  

Seventh Generation Diaper CollageIn addition to using Seventh Generation diapers, we have also been using Seventh Generation Free & Clear wipes.  I have always loved their wipes the best.  They don’t have a strong fragrance on them like some others do, as they are unscented.  They are also very thick and strong, and extremely moist, so I know they will get the job done.  There’s nothing like going to wipe your kid after a blow-out and finding out that your wipes are all dry and useless.  I have never had that issue with Seventh Generation’s wipes.  They are also made with plant-derived ingredients!   

Seventh Generation Free & Clear Wipes

Seventh Generation Contest

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Seventh Generation Contest

Will you make the switch to Seventh Generation Free & Clear Diapers and Wipes?

 Posted by at 7:08 pm