Wild Parrot Garland

Wild Parrot Garland f We love anything tropical, and of course we also love fun animated films, so we were excited when we were asked to create a project inspired by The Wild Life, which will be in theaters September 9th.thewildlife-bannerThe Wild Life stars a motley crew of crazy animals, including the over-exuberant parrot we are celebrating here, a snack-obsessed tapir named Rosie, a persnickety echidna called Epi and even an acrobatic pangolin. They all live on a tropical isle that is pure wild animal paradise until Robinson Crusoe, a marooned human, arrives in the midst of a furious storm, and their lives are forever changed by this bewildering new “creature.” You’ll have to watch the film to learn what happens! But there are some savage cats, a unique treehouse, and a lesson in the true power of friendship. So let’s make a parrot garland and get ready for The Wild Life. Wild Parrot Garland instagram 2 This is a fun craft to make with kids, and so easy to do! Print out some (free) coloring pages from the movie here, including this one of our favorite parrot Mak
Wild Life Coloringalong with our wild parrot template and get crafting, I’ll show you how to make this garland after the jump… (more…)

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Back to School Bests

IMG_4117Exactly one week until we are back to school. This year I was on top of deadlines and ordered our school supplies pre-packed from the school. It’s a huge time and money saver, but the kids were a little disappointed to miss out on picking out every last item in their most adorable form. To ease their broken hearts (sigh) I splurged on a few extra cute school supplies that you just have to check out.

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First up we ordered custom name labels from Minted. They are even dishwasher-friendly so you can use them on waterbottles and lunch containers. I’m hoping this will help all of us hang on to our most (eh,hem) precious possessions this year. I even got some with my phone number. Such a good idea!

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Next up we have this too-cute Post-it Pop-up Note Camera Dispenser. The girls quickly scooped these up for their new homework stations. Now I’m feeling like I need the black one for the kitchen.IMG_4092low

 

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I’m in awe of you moms who add hand-written notes to your kiddos lunches in the am. I’m so proud of myself when I make them a lunch! I’m thinking I could handle slipping one of these cute pre-printed notes from ban.do into their lunch bags and when I’m really on my game, adding a personal message on the back.

We love Gel Pens for coloring and note taking and math and losing under the seats of our car. This set of 48 makes these smooth-as-butter pens a little more affordable for the under-10-yr-old set.

There is something about a bento that gives me the strength to cut up fruit and veggies at 6 am versus throwing in a bag of Funyuns. Eco lunch boxes makes really nice ones in kid-friendly sizes. I also really like their singles for a salad, snack or leftovers.

We aren’t ready to send phones to school unless it’s a special “tech day” but protecting their gadgets is essential. I’m obsessed with these Sonix cases that Jaime introduced me to on my last visit to LA. I’m leaning towards this one or this one.

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My most brilliant girlfriends all say these Paper Mate Mates Mechanical Pencils are their kid’s favorites. We are going to shop for some today.

Check out this chic Macbook Felt Sleeve. My friend Rebecca uses one at the office and gets tons of compliments. I love it for Fall, it would be a great gift for a college student and it has a great price!

Land of Nod always has the cutest stuff for back-to-school. Isn’t this Teacher’s Pet Backpack adorable? They have so many sweet animal options.

And this Ellepi Red Stapler is a fun for mama. I’m thinking I need my own back-to-school supplies.

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My New Mid-Century Modern Home

New House 1 Carleton and I bought a house! It’s been a long process – we’ve been looking for over a year and made so many offers that didn’t get accepted and seen so many duds and so many beautiful homes before we finally found The One. We move in on Sunday! Prepare for many, many redecorating and remodeling questions and posts.

Our new home is a 1949 mid-century modern in – gasp – the valley area of LA. We are moving over the hill and we couldn’t be more excited. We are most thrilled about having a pool! I grew up with a pool, Scarlet is an accomplished swimmer, and in LA you use it year round for entertaining, exercising, relaxing, and cooling off. New House 2

Decorating the patio is going to be my favorite project, I think. New House 5

The previous owners are, of course, taking their furniture with them. I am already scheming and plotting for my new style.New House 6

These photos are all of the former owners’ things. They cared for this home lovingly for many years – they even added the wood paneling themselves, refinished the pool, and installed a solar heating system – that means we can keep our pool warm year round! I am so excited to carry on that legacy and also add my own style. I love the custom gate and drought-friendly front yard landscaping. New House 3

There are three peregrine falcons who bathe in the front yard fountain regularly. I am glad Jacinda came to town and convinced me to ask the former owners to sell me the fountain. The sound of it is a perfect welcome home. I will be adding a roof to my custom chicken coop plans, though. New House 4

I love that they updated the kitchen with new counters and floors, but didn’t replace the original cabinets, just refinished them. I love all of the original hardware and the wood is beautiful. I can’t wait to cook dinners in here, and plant an herb garden in that giant bay window while watching falcons bathe. New House 7

The bedrooms need new flooring. While I have some love for shag carpeting, this stuff is old and I don’t think it’s the best choice when your door opens up to a pool. Scarlet’s room is going to have a tween-friendly makeover, and it’s going to be amazing! She is so excited! New House 8

What she is most excited about, besides the pool, is her bathroom. That wallpaper is original from 1949! And I think I love it… I know Scarlet does. New House 9

I will update the tub and shower, but I think I’m going to keep the wallpaper and counter. What do you think? I’m most thrilled by how mid-mod architects used light – this bathroom has perfect natural light peeking in through the high windows so you can put on your makeup and not look like a clown (problem in my current dark bathroom). New House 15

The master bedroom suffers from the same shag carpet problem, but it’s a cozy nook with a big sliding glass door out to the yard. I plan to re-envision it with a new door – maybe some type of modern french door? And we are going to invest in new furniture and paint and a whole bright, simple, clean look. The best part is all the original built-in storage with beautiful wood doors that even hide the TV. New House 10

The master bath is going to need a whole remodel. That’s going to be down the road, it’s fine for now. I’d like to open up that whole shower wall and put a window in the back so I can look out on my chickens while I bathe. Yeah, that’s weird, but I’m owning it. New House 16

Here’s the office where my husband will work and Scarlet will read and guests will stay. They’ve refinished the cement floors in here, though I’m not sure I love it because you can see traces of the tile glue. I have to think on this one. I plan to be true to the mid-mod style with a built in system to make this more of a library for all the jillions of books we couldn’t part with while we pack. It certainly has a view conducive to contemplating all the work that needs to be done, and a dog door for Princess Cheese. New House 11

The living and dining room are a wide open space, with a functional wood burning fireplace (rare in Los Angeles) and giant glass windows out to the yard. New House 12

This room is going to be so fun. I am moving in with way too much furniture for this simple space, so it’s going to be a mish mash of what we own and what we need and what works. It’s also carpeted – I don’t love carpet, but it’s brand new and authentic to the home, and underneath it is a brittle, shattered mystery tile, so it might be a minute or year or four before we invest in new flooring. I dream of slate floors – but alas that is a big dream. New House 17

I love the windows and the open space. This is where my daughter will become a teenager, open presents, hang out with her dog. I have so many visions of happy times here, but 99% of them are about dinner. I can’t wait to get my dining room table in here and just make the perfect place for us to eat together (almost) every night. New House 18

I am already imagining Scarlet running in the door all wet from the pool and me being like: Close the door! The air conditioning is on! Use a towel before you come inside! And her rolling her eyes while reluctantly obliging. New House 14

And finally, there’s the garage. My husband had a fantasy about being able to park his car in a garage. Ha Ha Ha! Not gonna happen. Our current home has a garage converted into a studio, which is where I have been working on this site, my books, and all our crafts for 8 years. I was worried about losing a space like that when we moved, but alas we found this house with a perfect garage with built in workstations and gorgeous organized storage! I can’t wait to set up my tools and sewing machines and prudent workstation here. New House 13

And most of all…. those magical Los Angeles sunsets in the yard. This is where we are going to make the best memories. New House 20

I can’t wait to hear what you think of our new home/project and to work on it with you all!

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Back-To-School Doesn’t Have To Mean Back-To-Germs

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Oh don’t mind me, I’ll just be over here counting down the days until my last FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN. Can you believe Gordon is heading to elementary school? I’m ready, he’s ready, we are going to be OK. Deep breaths. And to help keep Gordon (and all the other sweet babies heading to a big germ-filled elementary school for the first time) on track and in school, our partners at Lysol, who’s disinfecting wipes kill 99.9%* germs, helped us create this fun and informative video about Tips to Help Stay Healthy During Back-To-School.

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Can you guess what they are? Yes, we all need to stay well-rested for healthy immunity, remember to avoid touching our nose and mouth, and to stay home if we DO get sick but here are three more important ways to help avoid catching a cold and/or the flu this Back-To-School season. Hope you enjoy it and stay healthy my friends!

* When used as directed

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This post is sponsored by LYSOL. All opinions and thoughts are my own. For more tips, advice and helpful information, sign up for their newsletter now!

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Our Back-To-School Office Makeover for 2

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Clare has been turning any small corner she could find into her own office since she was three years old. As soon as she could write her name, she designed her own business cards. The girl is a little obsessed with work space and organization. When Wayfair asked us to design a kid homework space to celebrate their Back-To-School Sale, we said “YES PLEASE!” I knew that they would love it.

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It was time to create a drool-worthy and hopefully brain-expanding grown-up-ish workspace for the girls to share. It was important to all of us that they had their own desks… and spaces to chill… (more…)

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How to Make the Perfect Care Package… for Anyone!

IMG_3793It’s hard to know that someone you care about is hurting and feel like there isn’t much you can do to help. If distance is keeping you from the hands-on support of caring for a friend, you may need to turn to providing love of the mail-able variety. A care package wont cure many physical ailments but it will give the recipient some much needed TLC. Just being reminded that someone is thinking of you, even with some material goods, can be enough to get you through a bad day with a serious illness, a broken arm, or even a broken heart. Getting through tough times is easier with the support of family and friends.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment asked us to come up with a guide to building the perfect care package to celebrate the DVD release of Miracles From Heaven. While there are no real rules for building a care package, and there is no reason to go over the top, this little guide may help you get started if you are feeling overwhelmed by the idea but want to send something special to a friend.

The basic thought here is to select an item from each of these four categories; something to do, something to eat, something practical, something handmade. Not required but I also like to add something weird or unexpected. I always turn to humor in dark times, it’s both my best and worst quality. (more…)

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A Paris Itinerary in 24 Hours

So we started our week long western European tour in London, then headed to Brussels, then to Amsterdam. After that we wanted to go to Berlin, but it’s a bit far (about 6 hours by train), so instead we made a last minute decision to take the Thalys to Paris for 24 hours of non-stop, unabashed tourism. It was awesome.

We booked a hotel in the first arrondissement right next to the Louvre for easy access to all the major sites. The good news is Paris is actually quite small for a large city, and the Metro is extremely easy to use. We bought a 24 hour metro pass and headed to the Grand Hotel du Palais Royal, where we dropped our bags and walked across the street to take in what is arguably the world’s greatest museum. I purchased tickets to the Louvre online (which definitely saves time) and the concierge printed them out for us. Wander around the iconic Pyramide du Louvre before heading into the museum. Louvre

Of course you will want to see the Mona Lisa, you and all of the hundreds of people pictured below as well. We also enjoyed the Venus de Milo, Egyptian Antiquities, and the Oceanic arts section, as well as the old masters paintings. I would make it a point to visit the decorative arts section to see the rooms made up in classic Louis XIV adornments. Paris Louvre

After the Louvre we of course had to stop for some Parisian croissants and coffee. Paris Coffee

From here we headed up to Montmartre. Part of visiting Paris is really just taking in the different neighborhoods, and Montmartre is beautiful. We wandered the streets a bit Montmartre

before taking the Funicular (people who follow me know that I take every funicular I am anywhere near) up to the Sacre Coeur. Note that your day pass for the Metro also works at the funicular – no need to buy another ticket. Sacre Coeur

Take in this gorgeous view of Paris below. Paris from Montmartre

After that, we did a little shopping in Montmartre, and of course stopped for some wine. Montmartre Wine

From there we took the metro down to walk the Champs Elysees before heading to the river bank. The singular best tourist thing to do in Paris is take a river cruise on the Seine. You will see all the major sites like Notre Dame, and take in the students hanging around the Sorbonne and the glorious Paris evening. I HIGHLY recommend taking the cruise right before sunset, as it heads down the river and then back, so you can see everything in the daylight and then again lit up at night – Paris is the City of Light after all. You can get tickets from your concierge or right at the dock. We saw the Eiffel Tower in the light of day, Eiffel Tower by Day

and again just as the night began. This was far more affecting than I thought it would be. Just filled our hearts right up to the brim. Eiffel Tower at Night

The bridges of Paris are stunning from every angle. Seine Cruise

The rain broke for a few minutes and we saw a glorious sunset over the Seine. Seine Sunset

We had some crepes from a river-side stand, and took an uber back to the 1st arrondissement where we found a cafe for a late dinner and some more French wine. In the morning, we walked back through the Louvre and across the river to hunt for pastries in the charming neighborhood of St Germain des Pres before taking the metro to the Paris Catacombs. I recommend splurging for skip-the-line passes available from the concierge at most hotels or any tourist office, as the line can be long because very few visitors are allowed in the catacombs at a time. The tickets also come with a self-guided audio tour that adds a lot to the experience. For those who don’t know, the catacombs are ossuaries deep under the streets of Paris, where old mining tunnels were filled with the bones of over 6 million Parisians. They were created when Les Innocents cemetery suffered a collapse due to over crowding. It took two years from 1786-1788 to transfer all of the bones, which were deposited in decoartively-arranged sections detailing where the bones were moved from and when, along with quotes from famous authors and thinkers on the nature of death and dying. It is a truly fascinating experience deep underground in the dark, dank bowels of Paris. It should not be missed, even on a short visit like ours. Paris Catacombs

From the catacombs, we headed back to our hotel, gathered our belongings, and headed back to Paris Gard du Nord to board the Eurostar back to London. Arrive early for this – it is more like boarding a plane (with security and passport control), and be careful on the escalator. I had a spectacular fall which I am sure is posted on YouTube somewhere. After a visit as packed as this one, you will want to sleep on the 2 hour train back to London, but try to keep your eyes open to enjoy a little of the French countryside as it zooms by.

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An Amsterdam Itinerary in 48 Hours

From Brussels, Rachel and I took the Thalys train (about 2 hours) straight to Amsterdam for a two day stay in the city. At the central station just walk outside and grab a tram (you can buy the tickets on the tram, get a full day ticket so you can hop on an off) and check into your hotel. Don’t bother with a taxi or uber – it’s easier and faster to take the tram. I chose the Hotel Seven One Seven and I could not have been more in love. The sitting room and library were so rich and inviting, and the rooms named after famous authors are luxe and quiet. We had the JRR Tolkein suite – just stunning. Hotel Seven One Seven Amsterdam

Soak in the hotel’s atmosphere before heading out for a walk about. We first headed straight for the Anne Frank House – this is a MUST while in Amsterdam. However, the line is several hours long if you did not book tickets online in advance. Tickets are booked up months and months in advance, and give timed entrance up until 3:30 pm. After that, walk ins are taken until closing, but the line is daunting. Do not let this deter you, you should visit this museum line or no line, it’s worth the wait. But we learned a secret when we headed to the tourist office next to the museum. We were given a tip that some timed tickets are released online each morning at 9 am. We set a timer and checked the following morning and were able to snag two tickets for later that afternoon! So definitely do this if you aren’t able to book in advance, this freed up a lot of time to experience the city. So, we instead purchased tickets for a canal tour (we went on a Lovers tour, which are great, but you can also book a dinner tour, a private hire boat, or basically any type of tour you desire) and headed back to central station. A canal tour is the perfect way to start your visit to the city as it will give you a lay of the land and some great history. Also, the canals of Amsterdam are stunning. Prinsengracht

I want to grow old with Carleton on a house boat on an Amsterdam canal. #Dreams Amsterdam Canal House

After your tour, make your way via tram or on foot to the Jordaan. This charming neighborhood is typical Amsterdam. Have a perfect dinner at Trattoria Donna Sophia and an ice cream from the little shop across the way. Wander a bit before heading back to your hotel, through Leidseplein and Vondelpark, and admire the canals at night. Prinsengracht at Night

In the morning, head to the Van Gogh Museum – purchase timed tickets from a tourist booth the night before, or get there at opening for faster entry. This museum is wonderful and immersive – I couldn’t help but read each description as it pieced together the story of Van Gogh’s life and art. If you are up for two museums, the Rijksmuseum should be next. If you are museum-ed out, book a bike tour. Amsterdam is a biker’s heaven, but unfortunately it was raining most of this visit so we didn’t take a bike tour like I did in Copenhagen, but I would highly recommend it. Otherwise, head back towards the canals and find a pretty spot to have a sunny lunch by the water. Apple pancakes and local beer can’t be beat. Amsterdam Canals

In the afternoon, the Anne Frank Museum is an emotional experience. The museum is in the actual “secret annex” where she and her family hid from the Nazis. I can’t put the experience into words, as a Jew and as a human being. Anne Frank House

This is the actual faux bookshelf/door the family hid behind. I cannot stress enough how important it is to make the time to see this museum when in Amsterdam. I will leave it at that. You will have your own experience of it. Anne Frank House Books

After the Anne Frank Museum you can cross the canal and walk a block to the Amsterdam Tulip Museum. I’m not sure the museum itself is a must-do, but it’s interesting to learn about the tulip hype and crash, and the museum is quick. You can pick up some bulbs to bring home (they have a special selection approved to bring into the US and Canada) from the gift shop. There are also so many flower stalls on the street that will also sell you bulbs. It was peony season a few weeks ago. I couldn’t get enough. Amsterdam Peonies

Take a rest for a bit so you can stay up late to see the sunset around 10 pm. In the evening, take the tram to the Red Light district. Instead of just gawking, visit the Red Light Secrets museum to get some context for prostitution in the country and a look at the lives (and often, exploitation) of sex workers in Amsterdam. I chose not to take pictures here, except of this Croissanterie. Because, croissanterie. Croissanterie

In the evening, you can have a cocktail at Vesper or wine at La Oliva, or go out clubbing Dutch-style at Cafe Nol if that’s your thing. Or you can smoke pot legally. You can already do that in California (the novelty is not there for me), and also I’m too old for that business, so we headed back to the hotel to rest. For our final morning, we enjoyed coffees and shopping on Haarlemmerstraat. While there we wandered into Posthoornkerk – a stunning church. Then we walked around a bit enjoying the brief sunshine, and stopped for a sunny moment at Winkel where the apple pie should not be missed. Posthoornkerk Church

Head back to your hotel to gather up your things and take the tram back to central station. Next stop, Paris!

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