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spring for bulbs!

For everything there is a season & now is the time to plant spring 2015 bulbs! Don’t have space for a garden? No problem! Most bulbs do just as well in containers as they do in the ground.

The same pots used for spring flowers (tulips, hyacinths & daffodils) can be replaced with warm-weather bulbs (callas, cannas, or caladiums) for summer-long beauty.

Be sure to plant flowering bulbs after the last frost date in your area.

Pick the Right Spot & Select Quality Bulbs

Even healthy bulbs will fail if they’re planted in the wrong spot. Most bulbs do best in full sun (at least 6 hours of direct sun per day) with well-drained soil.

Smart bulb planting starts at a garden center with high-quality bulbs. Look for those that are plump & firm. It’s typically best to avoid bulbs that are mushy/soft or have mold growing on them.

When shopping, be sure to look for big bulbs! The bigger they are, the more they bloom compared to smaller bulbs of the same variety.

Place Pointy Side Up & Plant Deep Enough

How in the heck do I know which side is up? If the bulb has a pointed end, that’s usually the side that faces up. If you don’t see a pointy end, place the bulb in your soil sideways & let nature figure it out ;)

Not sure how deep to plant your bulbs? Generally, dig a hole 2 – 3x deeper than the bulb is tall. If you have a 3” tall bulb, dig a hole 6” – 9” deep.

There are always exceptions, so check the planting directions that come with the bulb or a helpful garden store employee.

Give Them Good Soil & Water Well

Like most plants, bulbs appreciate well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Mix compost into your bulbs’ planting holes to ensure blooming. This is especially important if you have heavy clay soil or ground that stays wet.

Bulbs are plants too, so they appreciate a good drink after you plant them. This will encourage the bulbs to send out roots & become established more quickly. A good watering will eliminate air pockets in the soil that could cause your bulbs to dry out.

monograms march on

There isn’t anything that wouldn’t look better with three letters affixed. If you don’t agree, give it a test run! From transitional clothing pieces (spring will be here soon…), to home accessories, to smart phone cases and even car window decals- monograms are back!

 

First emerging in approximately 350 BC as a signature of royalty, a monogram was placed on each coin during the reign of Roman and Greek rulers.  In the Victorian era, monogramming entered for personal use mainly to identify items like linens, silver and jewelry. Finally in the 1930s, newly invented embroidery machines made monograms accessible and affordable for all. Come with me and fast forward to 2015!

 

Putting your own stamp on your style – literally – is hot all over again.  Inspiration to personalize through monogramming is everywhere!  Purses, totes, coolers, blankets, towels, luggage (you won’t miss your bag as it makes its way through baggage claim now), beauty compacts and everything in between. The yellow fellow pictured below is a casual cotton vest (perfect for layering) that I had monogrammed with denim-colored thread.  Add a favorite T-shirt and jeans, and this outfit is complete!

The key to working the monogrammed trend is to keep it simple with a piece or two, three max (visible at one time)! If you’re not able to find a stand-alone monogramming retailer, any embroidery shop or tailor can likely customize something you already own. Now comes the best part! Pick your color, size, font and have FUN! Even if you have a general idea of what you want your monogram to look like, be sure to allot extra time to peruse.  I’m amazed at the selection of thread colors and style choices available each and every time I stand at the monogram shop counter.  Speaking of options, another fresh monogramming trend? Numbers! The great thing about both elements of letters and numbers being in fashion is that monogramming rarely ever truly goes out of style. As it’s been on the fashion scene since the Middle Ages, it is true that “old is always new again.” The chevron print duffel bag pictured below is black and white, monogrammed in red and ready for the next travel adventure. How many monogrammed pieces are inside is a secret… Can’t wait to see your fresh and personalized monogrammed looks out and about!

mom blog made: diy no fuss g.u.s.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Benjamin Franklin

Post holidays can be busy for everyone so it seems like the perfect time for implementing G.U.S., the “Grab-Use-System”! This is not my first rodeo in organization or errands. If you’re new (Welcome!), I only publish MOM BLOG MADE DIY ideas that check all the boxes:

√ready in 30 minutes or less

√budget friendly

√guaranteed to streamline

√ BONUS – uses items already found in your home!

 

 

G.U.S. Difficulty Rating Level: 1

Blonde

2  Easy

3  Moderate

4  Hard

5  Chuck Norris

 

Yes – Level 1.  I can do this with my eyes closed & I AM Blonde. Let’s simplify!

“G.U.S.” Supplies

-ALL of your errand paperwork! Promotional flyers, receipts, out-to-eat coupons, loyalty club cards, stamps & more. Clean it out of every stashed area (drawers, desktop, kitchen counter, etc.).

-3 hole punch

-1” depth (or less) binder.  This < 1” is important.  The entire idea is that you can easily and conveniently store G.U.S. in your vehicle, stroller pouch or messenger bag. If you are toting around a gigantic library, no progress has been made – think sleek, streamlined and smaller!

“G.U.S.” Directions

#1.  Hole punch everything, well almost everything. Some items will be large enough for all 3 holes, some not so much. The rule of thumb in this case is that every piece gets at least 1 hole punch — unless punching is a problem — stamps, loyalty cards, you see where this is going!

#2.  Place items into the binder in order of expiration.  Some pieces may never expire & therefore are sent to the back of G.U.S. The items that expire first should be placed in the front inside and act as the first page.  Items that expire next fill in the remaining pages chronologically.

#3.  Use the pockets on G.U.S. for extremely small items (receipts that you will be using for upcoming returns, dry cleaning tickets, so on and so forth…

#4.  Fill in the front clear G.U.S. display area with high frequency need items such as stamps, customer loyalty cards, select business cards and even personalize the cover with decorations if you wish.

#3. “Deliver” G.U.S. to his new home.  This action is key! G.U.S. will be there when needed if you place him NOW in the vehicle seat pocket behind your passenger, inside your errand bag, within arms reach of the stroller storage compartment.  Go, utilize, succeed with G.U.S., no fail!

swishing

"The latest craze sweeping the country is ethical, eco-fabulous, social and fun. Welcome to the future of fashion through Swishing." – Jess Cartner-Morley, Marie Claire Magazine

Swishing is the party version of a free, secondhand, clothes swap!  It is a fun and organized way to upcycle, get together with good friends and trade out your unwanted clothes.  The added advantage of clothes swapping is that partygoers have the opportunity to serve as stylists for one another.  According to the EPA office of Solid Waste, Americans throw away more than 70 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year, with clothing and other textiles representing about 4% of the municipal solid waste.  So, besides making a difference in our environment, Swishing is also a great opportunity to build community!

The basic rules for a Swishing Party are as follows:

  1. Choose a location that has some space as you’ll have a lot of people trying on outfits and flinging clothes left and right.
  2. Invite all your friends through Facebook, Twitter or an Evite.  Tell everyone to bring clothes and accessories they don’t want or don’t fit as long as they are clean and are still in good condition.  Everyone must bring at least one item of quality clothing.
  3. You can get as elegant or informal as you want to display clothes. Have a number of mirrors available throughout the room.  When everyone arrives, it is essentially a free-for-all.  You can wait for everyone to get there if you have punctual friends. However, I would advise not to wait too long.  Consider a half-hour "browsing" time before the Swish opens…
  4. Generally, whoever claims something first has dibs.  If there is a conflict between people as to who gets a piece of clothing, each person models the item for the group and the group votes for whom it looks best on.  Another rule is that you should never feel obligated to take something unless you love it.

At the end of the party, each person will go home with treasures and wonderful finds, but there will also be lots of leftovers. Whoever hosts the party is responsible for taking all these items and donating or selling to consignment. Moms, have a blast Swishing!

"The latest craze sweeping the country is ethical, eco-fabulous, social and fun. Welcome to the future of fashion through Swishing." – Jess Cartner-Morley, Marie Claire Magazine

Swishing is the party version of a free, secondhand, clothes swap!  It is a fun and organized way to upcycle, get together with good friends and trade out your unwanted clothes.  The added advantage of clothes swapping is that partygoers have the opportunity to serve as stylists for one another.  According to the EPA office of Solid Waste, Americans throw away more than 70 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year, with clothing and other textiles representing about 4% of the municipal solid waste.  So, besides making a difference in our environment, Swishing is also a great opportunity to build community!

The basic rules for a Swishing Party are as follows:

  1. Choose a location that has some space as you’ll have a lot of people trying on outfits and flinging clothes left and right.
  2. Invite all your friends through Facebook, Twitter or an Evite.  Tell everyone to bring clothes and accessories they don’t want or don’t fit as long as they are clean and are still in good condition.  Everyone must bring at least one item of quality clothing.
  3. You can get as elegant or informal as you want to display clothes. Have a number of mirrors available throughout the room.  When everyone arrives, it is essentially a free-for-all.  You can wait for everyone to get there if you have punctual friends. However, I would advise not to wait too long.  Consider a half-hour "browsing" time before the Swish opens…
  4. Generally, whoever claims something first has dibs.  If there is a conflict between people as to who gets a piece of clothing, each person models the item for the group and the group votes for whom it looks best on.  Another rule is that you should never feel obligated to take something unless you love it.

At the end of the party, each person will go home with treasures and wonderful finds, but there will also be lots of leftovers. Whoever hosts the party is responsible for taking all these items and donating or selling to consignment. Moms, have a blast Swishing!

mom text etiquette

MOM Text Etiquette

Let’s talk Texting as July is "National Cell Phone Courtesy" month! Whether you are an avid texter or just getting started, below is a sample crash course on (what not to do), "Texting 101." Plus – bonus tips for how to stop texting offenders in their tracks!

The Novelist: I’m willing to bet that someone you text with sends such long messages to your phone, that you have to scroll through their messages screen by screen when you are extremely busy, and you wish they would shorten their stories before you lose your sanity. Yeah – just like that! To stop a Novelist, feel free to use my texting equation: Time It Takes You to Type a Response x Importance of Message + Years of My Life in Which I Didn’t Know You ÷ How Many Hours of Sleep I Got Last Night = SHORTEN YOUR TEXT MESSAGES!

The Double Messenger: Of course you screen calls. Everyone does. I assume sometimes you’re in the middle of something, and sometimes you just don’t feel like talking. However, your phone is still working, and you see the missed call and the voice message alert. So why — why?! — do certain people feel the need to send a text letting you know that they just left a message? To stop the Double Messenger, text back: "What’s next, a carrier pigeon?" The

Bulk Texter: An example of what a series of texts from this person looks like:

Text 1: "Hey!

Text 2: What’s up?

Text 3: What are you doing tonight?

Text 4: Some of us are going to meet for pizza on the patio at 7pm tonight.

Text 5: Around 10 of us from the neighborhood.

Text 6: It’s going to be me, Alison, Cheryl, Chrisie, Victoria, Toni & all the girls.

Text 7: Are you coming?

Text 8: Let us know!

Text 9: Bye!

Text 10: LOL!"

An example of what that exchange should look like:

"Hey, meet us on the patio for pizza at 7pm!"

To stop the Bulk Texter, here is an example of what you could text back:

Text 1: Please

Text 2: never

Text 3: text

Text 4: me

Text 5: this

Text 6: way

Text 7: again.
(one-minute pause)

Text 8: Really!

The Show & Teller: This person texts non-stop about something (job, love life, grandchild, pet, school, food, etc.) that they feel either very positive or very negative about, and they want to share it with you, all the time. Sigh. Even an earth-shattering story becomes mundane when you get texts on THAT topic over and over.The Show & Teller will probably even want you to hold their phone and read their incoming texts (on topic) when you are physically in the Show & Teller’s presence. Oh vey. You will likely hear, "Oh my gosh, look at what he said now!" and "Ha ha and aww, look at this one!!" Sheesh! To stop the Show & Teller, give them a dose of their own medicine. "Hey, look what my Mom said about her gallbladder!" "Wow, you won’t believe how I’m planning to organize my sock drawer!" "Sweet! My dog is wagging her tail. Oh, she’s doing it again!!"

Happy Texting, MOMS! Did you know you can receive texts from Fazoli’s? Sign up for Fazoli’s eFamily, and YOU will receive discounts, special event alerts, news updates, and more! http://www.fazolis.com/efamily

P.S. Please don’t text and drive!

summertime schooling

Moms! Keep the fun and learning going all summer. Use this checklist to pack every day full of educational and relaxing activities for memories, plus experiences that will last!

Sweet Surprises

  • Buy a Push Pop from the neighborhood ice cream truck
  • Roast marshmallows over a fire & make S’mores
  • Devour a peach in season
  • Make lemonade from scratch
  • Sip a glass of iced tea
  • Have a slice of watermelon
  • Eat a soft-serve vanilla ice cream cone dipped in melted chocolate

Ultimate Gaming

  • Challenge your family to a round of miniature golf
  • Play tag, hopscotch, or one of your favorite childhood games
  • Win a prize at the fair
  • Go to a baseball game
  • Play tennis
  • Toss a Frisbee
  • Play kickball with neighbors

Mom’s Faves

  • Light sparklers
  • Take in a movie at the drive-in
  • Walk on the boardwalk and listen to the boards squeak
  • Blow bubbles (even make your own!)
  • Go to a family reunion
  • Visit a botanical garden or state park
  • Ride a roller coaster
  • Catch fireflies at night
  • Build a sandcastle at the beach
  • Take a last minute road trip
  • Ask a family member for a hug & tell them they are loved

Mealtime

  • Have a picnic
  • Host a low country seafood boil
  • Pick berries and peaches at a farm
  • Eat corn on the cob
  • Get Fazoli’s® to go!
  • Have a barbecue & invite friends
  • Eat something on a stick

Exercise, Etc.

  • Plant flowers or a new tree
  • Swim in a lake
  • Kayak or canoe
  • Rent a bike or paddleboard
  • Go fishing and throw it back
  • Hang laundry outside to dry
  • Hike, then set up camp and stay outside all night
  • Jet Ski or tube
  • Participate in a family 5K
  • Enjoy Whitewater Rafting or Zip-lining
  • Dance in the rain
  • Collect seashells during a long walk down the beach

Restful

  • Nap in a hammock or read a new book
  • Stargaze while lying in the grass
  • Watch the sun set from a beach
  • Dangle your feet off a dock
  • Bring a blanket and lie on the grass at an outdoor concert
  • See a summer blockbuster in a cold theater
  • Make a summer playlist
  • Smell freshly cut grass
  • Feel the sun on your back
  • Roll up your pant legs and go wading
  • Dream & make plans for next summer!

mom blog made: custom galvanized curtain rods plus curtains

5 star project Moms! This is a no cut (pipe) no sew (fabric) activity that is fun for the whole family. You will need a ladder or step stool, cordless drill, pipe materials (see below), curtain material, curtain hooks (found at IKEA, Pottery Barn, etc.), stitch witch, scissors, and iron.

Difficulty Rating: 3

  1. Blonde (I can say this because I am.)
  2. Easy
  3. Moderate
  4. Hard
  5. Chuck Norris

This is NOT rocket science – make things easy on yourself! For the Curtain Rod Pipe, choose a length that straddles the entire window — or if you have a bank of windows, divide the distance with smaller individual sections. Total cost approximately $70.

Pipe Materials: One 1/2″ diameter, 10′ long pipe. It just so happened that these were precut, however, they will cut your pipe to size for you and thread it if you need a different size. Personally, I wanted ample space on either size. To each, her own.

  • Two 1/2″ floor flanges (those are the round things).
  • Two 1/2″ diameter, 2″ long steel nipples (those are the short, straight pieces that keep the rod/pipe project away from the wall a bit).
  • Two 1/2″ diameter, 90° elbows.

Be sure you wipe your pieces off before you get your curtains near them, because they come from the store kind of oily and dirty. You will also need to remove the pricing stickers.

For the Curtains: Choose the length that you need. Then stitch witch (using your iron and a damp rag) the top and bottom of your panel. I chose a woven material (in several different variations). The sides of the material won’t fray because of the material fabrication – so don’t cut the sides. If you don’t like the "rugged" look, knock yourself out and stitch witch that too.

To assemble: Screw flanges to nipples to elbow to one side of the pipe. Put on curtain rings of your choice, then screw onto other side of the pipe. That sounds "hokey pokey" *ish, but that is exactly how it’s done! Drill pilot holes and attach your custom rod with wood screws. Hang curtains! Take pics and share them here!

spring to life: mom’s closet

Your mission should you choose to accept it: Freshen YOUR closet with a spring cleaning overhaul! Moms, I wouldn’t throw down the challenge without having tackled the project myself. In the spirit of full disclosure, this will be an elaborate spruce up for your space and wardrobe. However, you will immediately enjoy the payoff through time savings and pride in your space, plus your new look for spring 2014!

Empty the Closet

Step One is to take out everything — yes, absolutely everything. It’s the only way to know exactly what you have and what you need.

  • When removing items, sort into different categories: things to keep, things to store, things to give away or sell (garage sale, regional facebook selling pages), things to toss, things to be dry cleaned, altered, etc.
  • Bag up the "Giveaway" and "Sell" piles (after photographing and listing for sale), then box up the "Seasonal" items you’d like to stow away for a while. Sweaters, puffy jackets, and winter boots take up lots of space, so keep them in a different closet or attic until the fall. Before you second-guess yourself, put the "Toss" items in the trash. Take the "To-be-dry cleaned" and "Altered" items by the door so that you will take them on your next trip out.

Do a Thorough Cleanse

Now that your closet is completely cleared out, it is time to clean up your act in Step Two! Here is a checklist to help:

  • dust crown molding, baseboards and ceiling corners
  • dust/wash light fixtures and lamps
  • wash doors and walls (look for scuff marks)
  • touch up paint
  • vacuum or wash window curtains
  • wash window blinds and clean windows
  • deep clean hardwood, tile, linoleum, and carpet flooring
  • shampoo carpet (DIY or schedule a professional)
  • remove rugs to shake out, then vacuum
  • vacuum all flooring, including corners
  • clean air vents
  • dust around mirrors
  • replace light bulbs

Evaluate the Space

Step Three involves thinking about how you can maximize your space. Determine how the previous arrangement might be improved. Were you able to reach everything? Were there any items you would use more often if you were able to see them? Do you need an extra shelf? A set of drawers? Hanging hooks? Try to see your closet through fresh eyes, and decide if there’s a way to create more surface area for your items.

Now is the time to arrange for fashion and appearance. Once items are grouped by type — blouses, skirts, jeans, etc. — take it a step or two further and arrange by color and/or fabric. You want outfit building to be a simple and streamlined process, so organize in a way that feels natural for you. Don’t forget to include your accessories! Whether you have piles of shoes or just a few favorite pairs, decide on your preferred form of storage: shelves, boxes, or an over-the-door rack. Keep things simple and sort by type, color, or occasion. To arrange purses, think about using shelf dividers or do what I did – use a cookie pan organizer to keep your smaller bags upright! For hats, scarves, and long necklaces, hooks are your best friends. Way to go, Mom – mission accomplished!

diy mommy blog

Nearly three years ago, I accepted a personal challenge to start a blog. Quickly I realized the construction of a successful blog requires equal parts soul searching and experimentation. My blog (www.MotherStucker.com) is now best known for my Mom DIY feature "MADE" as well as my "White Hot Review Board" featuring family-friendly products and services. Fresh from Bloggy Conference 2013 (Sandusky, OH) and knee deep in preparation for new 2014 blog features, here are my tips on how to start your own blog!

  1. Pick a topic. You can change it when you really know what you’re doing. This is like dating. Pick something that seems good, and if it isn’t, try again. Don’t get hung up on a topic. As in dating, you’ll know when you’ve found one that’s the right fit. Pick something that interests you or pick something that will help your career. Ignore your fears of looking foolish. Ignore the voices that say you can’t do this.
  2. Spend two seconds choosing software. Ignore the fact that there are lots of choices. I will give you two: Blogger or WordPress. Pick one. It doesn’t matter which one. Click on the home page where it says open an account. Don’t worry about what you click during setup. It’s very hard to do damage that you can’t fix later.
  3. Ignore buzzwords. RSS, SEO, VA, AdSense, Technorati, and Digg are all strange new terms that you will figure out along the way. If you have a buzzword stuck in your head and you’re not sure if it belongs on the ignore list, assume it does.
  4. Post something right now. Don’t tell yourself you’ll do it tomorrow. Blogging is about the courage to say something. Don’t worry about being silly because trust me, no one is reading your blog – yet. Post anything. You can nix bad posts later. For now, just start writing.
  5. Practice, practice, practice. Post, post, post. Soon you’ll find the link button and make a link. Maybe you’ll find a category button and make a category. Maybe you won’t find those buttons for weeks. Don’t worry. You’re practicing. If you happen to write something really good you can feature it later, when people are reading and following your blog.

When you get to number five, and you’ve made it through a month, please go back over this article and start thinking about all the things I encouraged you to ignore. Continue pushing your blog in the direction of your desired goals. Do you wish to network with others in your field? Are you looking to help other Moms? Do you wish to monetize your blog? Whatever your goal(s), building brands, changing careers, launching a business – these endeavors are all much easier once you have established yourself online. The work you are doing today pays off in the future when your blog provides instant legitimacy!

fun family travel games

Over the river and through the woods… the season of holiday travel is here! Need some ideas to make traveling enjoyable for the entire family? Whether your transportation to and fro is by car, plane or train — here are some ideas to keep your travelers entertained. Game winners might get to pick where to stop for lunch or dinner? Be safe and have a blast!

I. Last Letter, First Letter: Word games can be particularly useful — not to mention, fun — for kids who tend to get sick while focusing on something like a book or a DVD. Any family travel game that involves looking out the window can help prevent motion sickness. My family loves to play a game we call "Last Letter, First Letter."

To play: Players decide on a category, such as animals, and one player starts with a word (in this case, say, zebra). Then the next player has to name an animal that starts with the last letter of the animal that was just named (say, antelope), and so on. When someone gets stuck, that person gets a strike. When any player gets three strikes, they are out. The winner is the person who is still remaining after everyone else is out. Tip: Parents may want to help younger grade-schoolers. A 5-year-old probably won’t be able to keep up with an older sibling or adults in the car, so adult help is always a good idea. Older kids with bigger vocabularies will be able to throw more difficult words into the mix.

II. Twenty Questions: This is another classic car or travel game that is great to play with kids of all ages!

To play: One player picks an object (players can decide beforehand whether or not to narrow down the choices by having the questions answerer state the category of the answer. So, for example, the answerer can say, "I’m thinking of a place." (You can decide if your categories are occupations, places, animals, etc.) Then the other players each take turns asking questions that may help narrow down the possibilities, such as, "Is it bigger than a breadbox?" or "Is it edible?"

III. Road Trip Scavenger Hunt: Give each child a list of items to watch for while traveling. Check off each item when found. The list can be made up ahead of time and adjusted for the scenery. For a younger child who can’t read, you might draw a little picture of each item next to the word so they will know what to look for. 

To Play: Here is a sample printable page for a scavenger hunt list for children of various ages and for different driving environments.

Download or Print the Sample Page