Friday, January 31, 2014

Weekend Bloggy Reading :: Link Up!

Finally, it's Friday! Welcome to my Weekend Bloggy Reading link party. This is the day of the week where other bloggers stop by to link up their best post of the week here at Serenity Now, and readers get to browse tons of fun project ideas. If you're new here, don't forget to "Follow" or subscribe so you don't miss future parties and projects! And don't forget to enter to win this week's Pampers Prize Pack Giveaway--great if you have little ones or even if you know someone who's expecting.

*Please be sure to read my guidelines before you add a link--I've had to bypass so many great projects lately because they didn't include a link back to my blog in the post!

This party is a great place to showcase your very best post of the week (home decor, crafts, party ideas, recipes, DIY, tips and tricks, etc.) and to see what else is out there. I'm currently on "maternity leave" to enjoy our brand new baby boy, so this party is all about you guys! I will be doing my best to keep up with weekly features until I am "back in the game."

**Also, the Best of the Blogosphere will be up at Centsational Girl (it will go live later on) today! Kate and I have rounded up some fab DIY to share with you as we kick off a new year full of inspiration. Head over to see the BOTB after you link up here!**

Time to link up your best post of the week!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pampers Prize Pack Giveaway and Interview with a Sochi Olympian!

This post brought to you by Pampers.// You know what the Olympics and parenting have in common? Both require hard work, dedication, feats of strength (emotional and physical), and you just might get a little messy along the way. I had the pleasure of sending in some interview questions for Olympic free-skier and dad, David Wise, and I will share the video interview today. Pampers is also sponsoring a special Pampers Prize Pack Giveaway here at Serenity Now! Keep reading to enter...
Pampers Prize Pack Giveaway at Serenity Now!

This marks the first time that free-skiing will be an Olympic event. It's neat to hear how David balances rigorous Olympic training with fatherhood. If you're viewing this in an email or reader, you'll need to click over to the blog to see the video below:

Whether you're an Olympic athlete or a mom like me who lately gets her exercise pushing a shopping cart at Target, we can all appreciate the inspiration of the upcoming Sochi Olympics. With a little perseverance, we just might come out on top!

Pampers is sponsoring a special Giveaway here on the blog! One reader will win a Pampers Prize Pack, filled with diapers and wipes.

If you have kids, are expecting, or know someone who is expecting, this Giveaway can sure come in handy!

*Please use the rafflecopter widget below to enter, and be sure to note the terms of entry.

-UPDATE: Giveaway now closed-

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is open until 12 am on Monday, February 3rd! Good luck!

Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post, but I will receive a Pampers Prize Pack in exchange for this Giveaway. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

Tip: When to Buy and When to DIY

Aubrey from Dreaming About Someday has some helpful tips for us. Home and craft bloggers are often guilty of seeing something in a store or online and immediately thinking, "I can totally DIY that for less." As Aubrey will tell you, that's not always true! Buy, or DIY? Today, learn when to buy and when to make it!


Hi! I'm Aubrey, and I blog over at Dreaming About Someday. I'm happy to take over the blog for a day while Amanda is on blog leave. My blog, like my life, is a little bit all over the place. I fill my spare (what's that?!?) time with craft projects, among other things. I have "I can make that" syndrome big time! 

Why buy it when you can make it? Well, the problem is, making it isn't always easier, nor is it always cheaper.

A few years ago, my friend and I saw these amazing pine cone glitter trees at TJ Maxx. 

We LOVE glitter, and they seemed easy enough to make. Again, why buy it when you can make it?!?

We made the trees. We tried to gather pine cones, but we got snowed on. We ended up buying the pine cones ($). We also had to buy all the glitter, glue, and spray paint ($). We needed something to attach the pine cones to actually make a tree ($) as well as wire ($). These trees most definitely cost more than the $15 trees at the store.

So, how do you know? When do you make it and when do you suck it up and buy it?

1. Cost comparison (is it really cheaper to make it?)
2. Pleasure factor (do you enjoy making it?)
3. Time with friends (would you rather do a craft or shop?)
4. Time Investment (how long will it take to make?)
5. Memories (sometimes the memories are worth the hassle of making it)

Those trees were a little bit of a pain in the rear to make. We spent hours and hours and a ton of money gathering supplies, spray painting outside in the bitter cold, gluing our fingers together, BUT the memories we made are priceless. It was a couple of years ago, and we still laugh about the trees we saw at TJ Maxx for $15. In hindsight, it may have been better to just buy the trees, but i'm sure glad we decided to make them ourselves.
This was great food for thought, Aubrey! With the new baby, I sometimes have to remind myself that in my stage of life, it is sometimes just easier for everyone if I spend a little extra and purchase an item from the store instead of DIYing. But DIYing sure is fun!

Do you tend to buy or DIY more often?

*Don't forget to bring your best post of the week tomorrow to share at the link party. Home decor, crafts, DIY, recipes, party ideas, tips and tricks, etc. are all welcome!

If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, I hope you'll click your "Pin It" button to add this post to Pinterest, or a +1 for Google+. And I always appreciate kind comments.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Indoor Gardening with Succulents

Today brings us Kim from Sand and Sisal with a project to bring some green into your home. With all the snow we've had in my area, some green is welcome. I've had the pleasure of meeting Kim in "real life," and she is just precious! Keep reading to learn how to make your own Indoor Succulent Garden.

Thank you so much Amanda for letting me guest post for you and your lovely readers! Hi everyone! I'm Kim from Sand and Sisal- where love of home and sea meet. Amanda and I actually live only about 2 hours from each other! Living in Virginia, we love our temperate climate and are quite thankful that winter doesn't last that terribly long here. But in the winter after all the fresh greenery from the holidays are taken down, it's nice to be able to replace it with indoor plants you won't have to worry about! If you have a brown thumb or a green one, you should try your hand at Succulent Gardening.
Succulent Gardening

We are all busy people with kids and homework, jobs, and responsibilities galore. The last thing on my list is remembering to water the plants. Right? Then when I do remember …I guilt water. Tell me I’m not the only one! I feel bad that I have neglected the little living species and I drown the poor things in an over abundance of “wash-the-slate-clean” water. Time to try something new; something that is hard to kill, something that actually prefers to be neglected, something interesting and beautiful. I am finding a new passion in Succulent Gardening.


Succulents are becoming quite popular once again. There are many varieties to choose from. All of them do not like a lot of water, but they do love indirect, bright sunlight. They don’t even necessarily need a lot of soil to thrive in. You can easily find succulents at all nurseries and big box hardware stores. I like buying a few large ones and then some tiny dollar pots.

         succulent close up (800x800)

I was actually surprised at how expensive many of the succulents are. Really, it’s ridiculous. Go for the tiny pots. They will grow quickly and often self multiply. Succulents need a very loose soil that drains easily. Normal potting soil hold too much water. I recommend using Miracle Gro’s Cactus, Palm & Citrus Soil.

        soil for succulents

Succulents will grow in almost anything. Take for instance this whelk shell my kids found on the shore. I placed a few spoonful's of soil in it and planted an Echeveria succulent in it. How cute is this? You can grow them in a tea cup or any small container you choose.

       Succulent in shell

I have a shallow dish which I added several different succulents too and placed on my piano. There are many Echeveria, an aloe, a Hawthoria, and a few that I don’t know the a names of, but that’s ok! I even stuffed one in another whelk shell that was partially broken on top. The key to keeping these beauties alive is…
        Succulents in shell

Their roots must dry out for a few days. This is what triggers the plant into producing NEW roots. Then you may give them a nice watering. Never let them sit in water or even you will be guilty of plant murder, sad but true. Once a week to every other week watering (if that even) is more than ample for mature plants. And we are talking moist, not wet or soaked. Thicker fleshed plants need less frequent watering than thinner fleshed plants.

          Succulents in shells

Think succulents might be a smart choice for you? Try a few out and let me know what you think! Thanks again, Amanda, for having me today!

You can find me on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, G+ .

Beautiful post, as always, Kim!

If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, I hope you'll click your "Pin It" button to add this post to Pinterest, or a +1 for Google+. And I always appreciate kind comments.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Arrow Striped Stool (Painting Project)

Hello there, friends! I'm happy you're here today because the very creative Krista from The Happy Housie is here to share an adorable DIY Painting Project. Keep reading to see how she created an arrow striped stool for a nautical touch in a child's bathroom.

Hello readers of Serenity Now! I'm Krista from The Happy Housie and I am so excited to be here today sharing a DIY Arrow Striped Stool painting project that I recently did to add to our son's nautical style bathroom.

DIY Arrow Striped Stool Revamp with distressing at thehappyhousie

Thank you so much to Amanda for having me here today! As I said, I spend most of my bloggy time over at The Happy Housie . I called my blog this because I think of myself as a "housie"; someone whose hobby is all kinds of house related stuff like decorating, crafting, organizing, and DIY projects. And it is one of those projects that I am here to share with you today!

To do this project I used:
  • an old stool that I picked up at a garage sale
  • Navy and White Krylon Spray Paint
  • Frog Tape Painters Tape
  • Sandpaper
  • Minwax Furniture Wax and a soft cloth
I picked up this cute little vintage stool at a garage sale for $2. It was in pretty rough shape...
stool before

I gave it a sanding with some medium grit sandpaper...
sanding stool before

Once I had wiped it down, I gave it a few coats of navy blue spray paint....

After I let the navy blue cure for a few days, I taped out an striped arrow design on the top, using the frog tape as a spacer between each "arrow"....

I rubbed the edges down carefully to ensure the tape was well adhered and then gave the whole top of the stool an overall coat of white (protecting the legs of the stool with an old towel).
Once dry it looked like this....

A few tiny spots where the paint had leaked under the tape... but I had wanted to distress the whole stool anyway because it was clearly in rough shape underneath the paint job so I felt it would suit a distressed finish the best.

I gave the whole thing an overall sanding once the white spray paint had had the chance to dry... in spots where I sanded over the white the underneath navy blue began to show through. In other spots the original wood tone showed through the distressing.

Once the sanding was done, I wiped the stool down and gave it a coat of furniture wax using a clean soft cloth:

DIY Arrow Striped Stool Revamp with krylon by thehappyhousie
DIY Arrow Striped Rustic Stool Revamp at thehappyhousie

I really like the rustic finish and think it suits the feel of my boys' vintage nautical style bathroom design...
DIY Arrow Striped stool revamp for nautical bathroom at thehappyhousie
DIY Arrow Striped Stool Revamp by thehappyhousie

This little stool has been the perfect finishing touch to our boys' bathroom as now my little guys can easily reach the sink to wash their hands and brush their teeth. And it is the perfect tiny size and shape for such a small space!

If you want to learn a little more about how we updated our boys' bathroom on a budget, head over to The Happy Housie today where I am sharing all about it!

Thanks again to Amanda for having me here today...I hope that you are completely enjoying your time with your new addition:)

Thanks for reading. And remember my housie friends, HOME isn't built in a day. Enjoy the journey.
Krista at thehappyhousie profile image with signature
The Happy Housie is a home d├ęcor and lifestyle blog that was named this because I must admit to you that I am a bit of a "housie"... (think foodie but for houses). I love all things related to houses: decorating, DIY, organizing, crafting, gardening, and more. I love sharing projects and ideas, and especially love finding old pieces and fixing them up to make them vibrant and beautiful again.


Thank you, Krista! I love your style!

**Psst! Don't miss yesterday's post with a Baby Sleep Tip! I shared about using white noise to help baby's sleep cycle!**

If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, I hope you'll click your "Pin It" button to add this post to Pinterest, or a +1 for Google+. And I always appreciate kind comments.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Helping Baby Sleep with White Noise

This post brought to you by Marpac// Being a mom of three, I am pretty opinionated when it comes to kids and their sleep needs. Today's post is all about using a white noise machine to help baby settle to sleep. Keep reading to find out about how we use our new Dohm to help Harris with his naps!
Sleep Tip: Use a White Noise Machine in Baby's Room (from Serenity Now)

Ever heard the saying you don't know what you have until it's gone? That's the way many new parents feel about sleep! My younger daughter is almost six years older than the new baby, so we've had several years of nights filled with uninterrupted sleep. After years of blissful slumber, you sort of forget the trauma that nights with a newborn can bring. I felt like the busy schedule that comes with having two older children was hindering our progress with naps and nighttime sleep. That, combined with the hectic time over the holidays, left us all sleepy.

Like many parents of new babies, I was desperate to find something to help with our new baby's naps because I didn't feel like he was ready for sleep training yet. 

My sis, a nurse, raved about using a noise machine to help her baby boy sleep, but I was skeptical until I heard from the folks at Marpac, who manufacture the Dohm. I did a bit more research on sound machines and (like my sister said) learned:
  • White noise helps babies fall asleep
  • White noise machines are different than sound machines that play music or nature sounds (instead of trickling water or thunderstorms, you hear a sound much like rushing air)
  • White noise helps baby reach deeper REM sleep and stay there for longer
Our new Dohmie sound machine arrived and I was pleased to see that it fit right on top of the changing table without taking up a bunch of space:
Sleep Tip: Use a White Noise Machine in Baby's Room (from Serenity Now)

I made a decision to use it during times that I want to block out the girls' rowdy play (which definitely happened during last week's snow break). I haven't decided whether or not to keep it on during all sleep times, because I don't want it to be habit forming. 

Here's what I like about the Dohmie machine:
  • Doesn't work on a loop that cuts off. Once it's on, it stays on until you flip the power switch.
  • Has two volume levels and two speed levels
  • Small and unobtrusive
  • Lightweight! Could easily fit in a suitcase for travel
  • Doesn't wake my older two if I switch it on at night to help Harris go back to sleep
  • Tons of rave reviews online--I didn't want to try out just any old sleep machine. I wanted something tried and true. Dohm fits the bill.
I have a few other sleep tips and tricks up my sleeve, but I'll save those for another day. For now, I am pleased to see that our Dohmie keeps kid/dog/household noise out of the nursery during the day so our baby can get some rest. 
Sleep Tip: Use a White Noise Machine in Baby's Room (from Serenity Now)

Do you use a white noise machine for yourself or the kiddos?

You can find the Dohm at Toys 'R Us online. You can connect with Marpac on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, I hope you'll click your "Pin It" button to add this post to Pinterest, or a +1 for Google+. And I always appreciate kind comments.

Disclosure: I received a Dohm as part of a sponsored campaign with Marpac and the Mom It Forward Blogger Network. I will be financially compensated for this post, but as always, my opinions are 100% my own.

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Hospitality Station for House Guests

Hospitality is such an important topic. We share a bit of ourselves when we open our homes and welcome guests in, don't we? Lauren from The Thinking Closet has some great hospitality tips for us today. Keep reading to see how little touches can make a big difference!

Hot Drinks Station via The Thinking Closet


Lauren from The Thinking Closet Greetings, Serenity Now friends! My name is Lauren, and it is a distinct joy to be here today. I've been a fan of Amanda and her inspirational blog ever since I began frequenting the Weekend Bloggy Reading link party when I first started my DIY blog, The Thinking Closet, last year. And then, Amanda had to go and make me fall out of my chair when she and Centsational Kate featured my IKEA Wardrobe Hack in their Best of the Blogosphere this summer. (Yeah, I pretty much could have retired from blogging right then and there.) But I didn't! I'm still goin' strong!

One of my favorite topics to post on is the topic of hospitality and how to make guests feel at home. So, today, I want to give you an introduction to this passion of mine by sharing the hot drinks stations we set up in our guest room. See: Hot Drinks Station via The Thinking Closet

What do hot drinks have to do with a hospitality, you wonder? Well, a lot! I mean, to me, nothing is quite as soothing or homey as a warm cup of goodness clasped between your hands. Can I get an "amen"? Hot Drinks Station via The Thinking Closet

Also, it's important to note the inspiration for this hospitality station. It initially came from the Parker Family, one of the most loving and welcoming families I know. They are true role models for us in terms of hospitality. When you're in their home, they make you feel like a special guest, all the while making you feel like part of the gang; it's a fantastic balance to strike.

During a recent visit to their home, my husband and I got in late at night - - like everyone's-in-bed-asleep late at night. We crept downstairs to the guest room, tired, weary, and needing...well...a bit of comfort. And what did my eyes behold when we opened the guest room door, but a Keurig coffee machine, a carousel of K-cups, and a stack of mugs, inviting us to have a cup of Sleepy-Time tea before bed. Sigh. And boy did it ever deliver on the comfort.

That experience clearly made an impression because we ended up investing in a Keurig B-40 (got a great deal with a rebate and 20% coupon through Bed Bath & Beyond) and our very own carousel, which I stocked with a variety of K-cups. Thus, my vision for a hot drinks station in our guest room started to become a reality.

We also picked up a mint green cabinet from HomeGoods, which provides the perfect staging area for the hot drinks station, not to mention storage for our guests' clothes if they want to unpack! (Another way guests feel at home.) Hot Drinks Station via The Thinking Closet

And the teacher in me felt the need to write out a set of simple instructions for operating the Keurig. It's not rocket science; heck, it's not even science, but for first-timers, it can be a little daunting.

Did you know that you can create a font in your own personal handwriting? Well, I did just that and used my "Lauren" font to add some personalization to my typed instructions. Hot Drinks Station via The Thinking Closet Hot Drinks Station via The Thinking Closet

Which one are you: a one-cupper or twelve? I added some boxes of tea bags and of course, honey, my favorite sweetener for tea.
                                        Hot Drinks Station via The Thinking Closet

Pooh bear would be relieved.

And on the other side, my favorite sugar dish and coffee mugs from Crate and Barrel along with an antique tea cup.

       Hot Drinks Station via The Thinking Closet

This teacup is a family heirloom. Heirlooms are meant to be used! And all atop our Crate and Barrel table-runner. (Can you guess where we registered?)
     Hot Drinks Station via The Thinking Closet

To catch any drips!

Oh, the peanut M and Ms, you ask? Just a sweet treat for munching on. And maybe I had to refill the dish after eating half of them in the process of setting up my hot drinks station...and so what if I did?
                                           Hot Drinks Station via The Thinking Closet

Mark and I love using our fancy ice-cream bowls as candy dishes.

Every time we have company stay with us, I get giddy with glee to show them to their room and present to them the hot drinks station; so far, everyone has put it to use, meaning that it's doing what it does best: making our guests feel at home.
       Hot Drinks Station via The Thinking Closet

Your Turn

What are some of the ways you make your guests feel welcome? Are hot drinks a love language in your house like they are in ours?

To Close

Amanda, thank you SO much for inviting me over here today! It has been a privilege to have the chance to hopefully give back to someone who has given me so very much inspiration over the past year. And dear reader, I hope you walk away with an itch to embrace hospitality in a new way! And if you've got a hankering for more on the subject, be sure to check out my Practical Gift Ideas for Moving & Housewarming and 10 Ways to Make Your Wedding Guests Feel Welcome. They're right up this same alley! Or for something completely different, how about Filing Fabric (in your filing cabinet)? Or a Wood Pallet Sign Tutorial? Those are both reader faves over at The Thinking Closet. Hope to see you over yonder!
Inspiration at The Thinking Closet
Cheers, signature


Thank you, Lauren! When can I come and stay at your place?

How do you make guests feel comfortable in your home when they visit?

If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, I hope you'll click your "Pin It" button to add this post to Pinterest, or a +1 for Google+. And I always appreciate kind comments.

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