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"Retail is for suckers"







That's a quote from Seinfeld and it was the first thing that popped into my head after I finished this craft.




From the moment I saw this Butterfly Mobile in my Pottery Barn catalog, I couldn't get it out of my head. It is so simplistic, so sweet, so whimsical, and so so so pretty.

It also happened to be "so" expensive.



It's Pottery Barn, after all.




There's a reason I hoard their catalogs but never buy anything.




Their butterfly mobile cost $38.



And isn't it the prettiest thing ever?







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After I caught my breath, I tried to think of how I could come up with $38 (plus probably $8 more to ship it). Or actually, how I could justify spending $38 + $8 on it. I couldn't. Dang.

But my next thought was "I could totally make that".


So I did.




Mine is, naturally, a little bit different, with a slightly less amount of butterflies, but it does the job.




I took the center ring of an embroidery hoop, covered it with lacey fabric, and attached wire to it:





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Jesse can tell you, I debated long and hard (mostly long) about whether I wanted to keep it all white or add some color.

Part of me wanted to keep it white, so it would more closely resemble the Pottery Barn one.


But when I found this coral rose-ribbon, I loved the way it looked and it just seemed wrong to NOT use it.




Some of the butterflies escaped and flew up to the top, landing on the pretty rose ribbon:





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As I said, I hand-cut & glued every one of those butterflies. And only after I spent 2 hours doing that, did a price tag of $38 seem like a little bit less of a price-gouge. I still have hot-glue all over my counter top. But it was worth it.





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The only downsides:


1. It tangles very very easily. Therefore, it should NOT be placed by an open window (learned that the hard way).


2. I don't have a nursery with a crib to hang it over. :(

I do, however, have 3 girls who thought it was pretty cool, so it's going up in their room. You're never too old for something pretty.









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Sleeping Beauty





...Mallory Mae Howard loves to sleep.

Jesse says she must learn & play HARD at school, because by 7pm she is exhausted. She puts her jammies on almost as soon as she comes home, without being asked. If I get busy with something around 6:30 or 7 and she's left alone, when I check on her after just a few minutes she'll be sound asleep.



That's what happened the other night, and when I went to wake her up (because she hadn't brushed her teeth and still needed a bath), I saw that she'd gone to bed with all her school clothes AND her shoes on! See what I mean? That girl gets TIRED.

She loves sleep "accessories" too, blankets and stuffed animals and soft music......and sleep masks. When her sisters bought new outfits for their American Girl dolls, she bought a sleepover kit. It came with a teeny tiny sleep mask for her doll. Then she took the one I had been using for myself and they were quite a pair:







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(She's not really asleep in that picture, can you tell?)















And she really liked the one that I made her. I made one for all 3 of the girls but she was the one who used it the most:





(She is really asleep in this one)






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I don't know how the girls can't stand to sleep with them on. Especially because the ones I made are flannel, so yes they are soft but they also cause the girls to wake up with sweaty, pink faces. I'm glad they use them at least!

St. Patty Parade





There's always fun things to take pictures of at the St. Patty's Day Parade downtown.




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But of course the MOST fun thing (for me) to take pictures of are these guys:





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Arriving 3 hours before the parade (to ensure good parking spots) left plenty of time for practice:










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(not sure who enjoys that more....Arissa or Vanesa & Oliva who get to flip her in the air!)



And for hugs & posing:










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I have so many pictures of hair! These curls are so labor-intensive...they're a work of art:












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But at 6am there's no time to correct a work of art, so when one curl won't obey or wants to stick out, the only solution is to chop it off.

Can you tell where it got chopped?








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(Side-note: As a result of that "chopping", Arissa now has "layered" hair. And when her hair is down, it looks beautiful and you'd never know that it isn't the product of a fancy salon, but just a rushing mom & a pair of fabric scissors.)







The girls' favorite pirate stopped by for a visit:










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It took a team of 3 people to get each girl's hair all glittered up:










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But they were all very festive and did an awesome job, as usual. :)





Love them all.





'Specially this one:






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TODAY:

Thinking, praying, and donating:



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the big event!



Several weeks of long drives, lots of practice, & lots of excitement finally came to fruition, in the form of the American Girl fashion show!

It was so much fun. The only thing more fun than watching my own sweet girls do their thang is watching 50 super cute little girls do it. Some of them walking down the runway trying to look like they think a model should, some acting like they could care less about the audience and just wanting to get it over with, but all being super cute and "American Girl-ish".




And as a reader of Vogue since I was 12, I had a great time sitting there and listening to how fashion and styles evolved over the years.

Then seeing each girl walk out in her outfit from whichever time period, holding a little American Girl doll in an exact macthing outfit was just so so cute. I loved it.

What I did not love was not being allowed to take pictures. :( It was torture. But I took what I could outside of the theatre, and I turned a blind eye when Jesse broke the "rules" and snapped a few inside the theatre.

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A little somethin' for my models:


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Arissa and American Girl Kitt Kittridge modeling their nightwear:



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M&M and their "Bitty Baby" American Girl dolls, sporting nightwear:


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And afterwards there was lots of love to go around for our talented performers:



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It was such a fun day, and a fun experience. From the very beginning though I told the girls to soak it all up because this is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. And of course, before we even got to the car when it was over, the girls were asking if we can do it again next year. :)



Chasing Butterflies




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Our birthday gift to Caleb was a butterfly net & a bug house. And the girls wouldn't rest until they had their own so....











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I bought some for them and they carried them around the whole weekend.





Chasing butterflies, searching for bugs, playing and laughing.








Money wellspent!!







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Mardi Gras & the Princess and the Frog

What do those two things have in common?

If you've seen the movie The Princess & The Frog, you know they have everything in common, because it takes place in New Orleans during Mardi Gras.

So when I was thinking about how we could celebrate, I didn't want to just go the obvious route:


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So instead we celebrated, as usual, in the kitchen.... by making "man-catchin' beignets" (once again if you've seen the movie, you will understand the reference):




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(But if you haven't seen it....Charlotte's family is throwing a Mardi Gras party and Charlotte tells Tiana she's going to need about 500 of her "man-catchin' beignets". My girls thought that phrase was super funny and repeated it over and over.)


From Google:

"In the US, beignets are associated with the city of New Orleans where they are served at restaurants such as Café du Monde. They are also the official state doughnut of Louisiana.

A beignet (pronounced /bɛnˈjeɪ/ in English, /bɛˈɲɛ/ in French; French for "fried dough") in the U.S. is a pastry made from deep-fried dough, much like a doughnut, and sprinkled with confectioner's sugar, or frostings."


I'd been promising the girls that we'd make them since we saw the movie over a year ago. But I try to stay away from anything at all that's deep-fried, so it just never happened. (It's bad enough to eat fried stuff, but to make it myself and actually see and smell all the oil that's being soaked up into stuff I'm about to eat, makes me a little sick.) But for Mardi Gras I figured it'd be a fun way to celebrate, New Orleans-style.



I made the dough the night before and then rolled it out:




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Cut it into little squares and then -gulp- let it fry:






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Watched 'em drip dry and then sprinkled with powdered sugar et voila:




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Turns out there's a good reason why Charlotte called them "man-catchin'" too:




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Happiness Is:

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Sometimes Happiness is when I'm contentedly begrudgingly doing the laundry and a $20 bill falls out of the dryer.

(Actually that never happens to me.)

(Well, if it does, it's always Jesse's dollar bill and somehow he figures that out and I have to give it back to him.)



And while I was finding pictures that represent happiness, I came across this which I feel is true too....sometimes happiness is nothing more than:








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For me, at the moment, however, Happiness is when I'm doing that thing I do where I walk around ruminating on all the ways I am less than enough, how wrong and unfair everything is, how much better I could be doing, etc. etc, and then I stumble upon some pieces of paper with children's handwriting that make everything better and turns my mood around completely.




The Story:




I went into the living room to do pilates. But I can't relax and breathe deep when the room's a mess....even from Triangle Pose or Downward Dog, my eyes go straight to the clutter.




So I got up and muttered under my breath a little bit while I picked things up. Things like: WHY do people have to set things down wherever they happen to be standing, WHYYYY can't they walk 15 feet to put it where it belongs.





So on and so forth.


Some of the clutter happened to be the girl's scriptures that they'd taken to church and then left out, so I picked them up (still muttering) and put them where they belonged.




And in doing that, I found a handout they must have gotten in their classes at church and it made me smile and the very first thing I did was grab my camera! So sweet are these girls.




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The handout is titled: "Good Things I Like About My Family" and thesea re a few of my favorites that they wrote:


Arissa:
* When someone is sad, we comfort them
* When we're bored we make jokes
* We go on walks together
* We plant flowers a lot
* My mom makes crafts for all of us to do



Mariah:
* Family Home Evening
* Doing chores
* Making dinner together
* Making little bugs' homes
* Going to church



Mallory:
* They are nice to me.
* They let me play with their toys.





How sweet are those lists. And coming across them by accident made them all the sweeter.




Like I said, after reading them, I suddenly felt like I had a lot less to complain about. And I did the best Downward Dog I've ever done, for sure. :)









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:: A Funny Side Note ::



The girls are supposed to bring their scriptures to church every week.


Arissa has her own set, which she got for her Baptism.

Mariah uses my mom's set.

And Mallory doesn't really need a set since she's still in the younger class and the teacher usually provides them for the kids.

But this week she wanted to bring a set just like her sisters, except I couldn't find one as we were rushing out the door, so she took the only thing I could find:



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A french copy of the Book of Mormon. :) I doubt it helped her in class, but at least she did "bring her scriptures".

Lots of Love





Mondays are supposed to be "Mexican Monday" at our house, which means we pick up dinner from the taco shop.









I ❥ Mondays.










:o)





But Valentine's Day fell on a Monday this year, and we couldn't stray from tradition.










So we made our "Howard Family Love Pizzas" (heart-shaped crusts):






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With "Pepperonis D'Amour" (cut into heart shapes):






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And topped it all off with some hand-made LOVE-ly heart shaped cookies which I got the recipe for that very day from a Martha Stewart magazine:




















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The girls were looking forward to the heart-shaped ice cubes also, but I lost my Valentine Ice Cube tray. :(

Then, on the very morning of Valentine's Day, I found it! A Valentine miracle if there ever was one.


And then, while the pizzas baked, it was time for the thing the girls had looked forward to MOST all day:



finding their loot.










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I got these super cute, personalized teddy bears online and I couldn't wait to give them to them.....












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....along with cards, new books, hershey kisses, a new pair of Valentine socks, and some jewelry:













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It's not very fun to just GIVE them all their stuff....they had to FIND it first.










Jesse took care of that part of it; he bought a bunch of baby food jars, emptied them out, washed them, took the labels off, filled them with tissue paper and a special treat, and a small clue as to where to search for the next one.









The girls REALLY had to work for it too.....getting the lids off those things took a good 5 minutes every single time!








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And each and every time they found one and went to open it and didn't have the mammoth strength required, they would moan "Daaaaadddyyyy!!!". It was pretty funny.

(He has a habit of putting lids too tight on things.....2 litres of soda, milk jugs, pickle jars....it's impossible to open them after he's closed them)


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Eventually they found their way to the garage, where everything was set up and waiting for them on the dryer. They were excited to say the least:










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Funny how even though they know the drill, they enjoy the hunt as much as the end result of getting their stuff.










Funny, too, how lumpy heart-shaped pizza & heart-shaped ice cubes in your Shirley Temple can make you feel!














❥❥❥❥❥

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