Turning the every”day” into holi”day”…A Christmas Frame Collage!

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‘Tis the season to decorate and get into some festive DIY-ing! Here is an idea for transforming existing wall decor to go with the holiday theme.

This year I decided to print off a few favorite holiday photos from years past and find some holiday themed frames.  Combining the frames with Christmas decor that usually hangs throughout the home created a holiday themed frame collage in the entry!

christmas frame collage

Stay tuned…a festive crafting party is in the works and we will be sure to share the details. Our inspiration is coming from here, and we cannot wait!

Sharing today on  http://diyshowoff.com/category/other/that-diy-party/ ! Head on over for some fantastic ideas!

jay2

Fun with Flyers: A preschool lesson on fruits & veggies

I always get excited on flyer day…on the hunt for super good deals that they often bring! This week as I was looking through the weekly bundle with my C when she began to ask about certain items in the grocery flyer, and an idea struck!

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{Decal from uppercase living…currently this one is unavailable but loads of other super cute ones…I’ve run out of space on my walls so am extending beyond the four walls!}

With back to school season in full swing, my brain has been filling up {thank you Pinterest} with different ideas to promote Cs learning at home when she is not at preschool {to think next year I will be talking about actual back to SCHOOL!? yikes!}.

Rounding up 3 simple on hand supplies, an activity to teach my kiddo about differentiating between fruits and veggies, was in the works…

preschool fruit and vegetable activity

And with such little preparation! All I did was cut the fruit and veggie pics from the various flyers.

preschool fruit and vegetable activity

You can easily build this into a preschool homeschooling unit on nutrition, combine with the storytelling {perhaps one of our favs, the Very Hungry Caterpillar}, change it up to introduce other food groups, use this grocery bag/cut out concept to facilitate your toddlers contribution to the grocery list, or simply use as a fun stand alone activity!

preschool fruit and vegetable activity

And in true preschooler fashion, my C decided anymore than 10 minutes spent on one activity is unheard of! So now we have a ready to go activity for the next time!

preschool fruit and vegetable activity

jay2

What I am learning while parenting my sensitive & spirited & lovely kiddo

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Ever since C was just a baby, she would take 10-15 minutes to warm up to any new place or person and then she was off to the races in her exuberance. It’s been interesting to see how this characteristic has evolved as she is growing into a preschooler.

Like my C, I am highly sensitive, but of course never got to witness myself grow up, so this is all new to me. And I am certainly learning a lot along the way. About myself – such as how much I want C join is easily without hesitation…and my awareness that my kiddo is different in the eyes of other parents who may be wondering why my child won’t just join the fun. And about my C as her own unique little person. And also in retrospect, I am learning about the children I worked with previously who had severe anxiety issues {and wonder how my approach to therapy would differ today}.

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When new seasons approach, our schedule seems to change up a bit, moving more to outdoor activities and new scenery. Once my C is used to a location or activity or setting, her confidence is unquestionable and you would never know she was previously nervous. But its successfully moving into these new opportunities that has a giant impact on this. Last week, we sat for about 25 minutes watching other children play at the splash pad park before C would venture in. And this week when we arrived at a park filled with children, C was clingy and wanted me to remain alongside her and her willingness to climb any ladder or structure was zero. It’s sometimes a giant feat to keep my own “just do it!” under control. Today, we arrived at a new park, a big kid one, with no other children, and I was amazed at C’s willingness to take new risks without a second thought and explore freely.

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As a parent find myself constantly torn between wanting to respect C’s sensitivity and apprehensions, while at the same time I want to motivate her, reinforcing that she is safe, and urging her to try new things. I know that accepting all of her fears without challenging any of them at all will not be helpful as she develops and prepares to enter school. I also know that urging her to try something before she is ready will get me no where {in fact it will get me a full blown epic tantrum}.

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Sometimes I will get it right. Sometimes I will fail miserably. Sometimes at least one of us will end up crying. And sometimes I/she will be so proud my heart hurts.

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And no matter what, I am learning along the way:

  • It doesn’t matter what another kid is doing (climbing, playing, running, trying). In fact pointing it out can make my kiddo feel worse.
  • It is not about what another parent believes their child should/can be doing. It is about what my kiddo feels she can do, that day, at that given moment, depending on her surroundings, and what kind of day she is having.
  • My kiddos not wanting to go down the “big slide” means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of our world.
  • This is her journey not mine.
  • Patience gets me a whole lot further than pushing; and we both end up happier!
  • Not resisting my C’s need to sit back and observe is critical to her ability to move into something new or seemingly overwhelming.
  • Finding ways to encourage independence & setting boundaries to not foster complete dependence is so important.
  • I must be prepared for overwhelming reactions from C if she has risked a little further than she would have liked and needs to back track. And I must try really hard to keep my own cool!
  • The statement “be brave” should be used intentionally but not necessarily frequently. {Tell me to be brave when you want me to get on a plane is not going to work; in fact it makes me feel like an irrational scaredy cat. Acknowledging my fear and asking how you can help makes my heart and spirit feel much better. It’s not necessarily about “getting it” as it is to appreciate it}
  • My C will react more intensely than most. And it doesn’t mean I am a failure at teaching her to soothe herself or manage her emotions.
  • Planning our new outings around less busy times more often than not leads to speedy success and mastery.
  • C feels things stronger. Her reactions are more intense. I need to keep my cool during these instances to move her through it. I should write “take a breath & give her a hug” in window marker on my windshield. In fact, I think I will go and do that!
  • Creating opportunities for C to experience new settings/activities in small steps can is super helpful.
  • Approaching each situation confidently as her momma helps her along the way.
  • The book The Highly Sensitive Child is a keep handy kind of read for days when I catch myself in the “come on just do it” frame of mind. {Here is a questionnaire from the book}
  • The process is way more important than the outcome. {hey if we sit on the edge of the public swimming pool for 5 Mondays in a row, and each week she gets closer to fully getting in, who am I to measure her success…at least now its sunny warm weather so we can hit up my moms pool and perhaps I can lounge by it with a margarita!}
  • C’s sensitivity does not define her. It is only one part of her wonderfully kind, funny, persistent, bright, creative and whirlwind personality.

Would love to hear what strategies you use or how you approach times where you child may be nervous or apprehensive?

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jay2

Naptime DIY: Wooden Chevron Painted Letters

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The space above the playroom shelves has always baffled me. I have tried clipboards for artwork, wall talk, frames, plants, clock. And nothing has felt “right”.

I’d had my eye on these wooden letters at our local craft store, and when they went on clearance at the end of last week, I knew this was my chance. You should have seen me in the aisle trying to spell words with the letters that were left available!

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Finally thrilled with being able to spell “be awesome” {Inspired by Little Miss Momma’s Be Awesome Today sign by Barn Owl Primitives, I loaded the letters into my cart {and put the many other letters back in their homes awaiting the next nap time crafter}. In the end I had to settle with 2 letters from an all white set but I think it works for the first letter if each word.

Using green painters tape, white craft paint and a roller, I got to “chevron-ing” the wooden letters. They have these neat peel off sticky strips that I used to affix the letters to the wall. Naptime crafting with minutes to spare!

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What I love about the placement of this statement is that its our first view as we leave our bedrooms to start out day.

Be awesome? Sure, I think I will.

What positive statements get you through your day?

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jay2

 

 

 

Friday Finds: Laura Lee Photography

Laura Lee

This Friday we are thrilled to introduce you to Laura Rupert-Doane who is the brilliant photographer and owner of Laura Lee Photography. Not only do we love Laura’s photos, we love HER..her genuine passion, humbleness, humor and uplifting spirit. {Mel & Jay were fortunate to have spend thier college years with her, laughing all the way!} When we asked Laura if it would be ok to showcase her company and work on Purple Eggplant, she responded with the excitement and response only she could come up with. It was only best that we turn the keyboard over to her and invite her to introduce herself to you!

So Purple Eggplant readers, meet Laura!


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A wise woman once told me to do something I loved as my career, because if I did, it would never feel like work and I would succeed tremendously because it was my PASSION!

She was right!

In every photoshoot, my clients and I always have so much fun, whether it be a family shoot, a boudoir or a newborn shoot. We create memories and I capture them for my clients to hold onto for the rest of their lives and to pass down to future generations.

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When I do a boudoir, my main goal is to make the woman LOVE herself again! I’ve come to realize that not all women love themselves as they should, and so two years ago, I set a goal to change that. I want women to embrace themselves JUST as they are! And so, I work with their BEST assets to make them look their best!! The greatest compliments are when I get an email from the woman’s husband thanking me for giving their wife that confidence back and a re-newed spark in their relationship and/or when a woman says that she’s never liked a photo of herself….. till now. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED I say!

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Another one of my favorite shoots to do is newborns. I feel it is hugely important to capture this time in one’s life. If you have children already, you know how fast they grow! Embrace this time, and capture it for the long term so that not only you can enjoy the wonder you created, but THEY’LL enjoy it when they have kids and grandkids of their own. I personally think, it’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and to your child. One day, they’ll appreciate it….trust me on this!

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This also makes an excellent gift for someone who is expecting! I create personal gift certificates in a picture frame so that when mommy-to-be opens the gift, she’ll have a beautiful picture frame ready to house a gorgeous photograph of her new bundle of joy! I even gift wrap it too….easy peezy lemon squeezy! {here’s our own Purple Eggplant Mel while awaiting Baby Smiles}

Whether it be a boudoir, family or newborn shoot, capturing your today is important….after all, today’s photo is tomorrow’s history….and what better legacy to leave behind to your loved ones than photos that tell YOUR story!

To see more of my work, please visit my website at www.lauraleephotography.smugmug.com, join me on Facebook or send me a message at lauraleephotography@hotmail.ca

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I’d also like to thank Purple Eggplant for thinking of me and wanting to blog about my passion and my service as a photographer!

Friday Finds: Camera Coats…& a Promo Code!

I am a picture-o-holic.  Really.  I take thousands of pictures.  This started when I was a little girl and has never stopped.    I always had a camera with me and was always capturing moments.  My grandfather used to tease me that I would never be able to afford life because I was always paying to have my pictures developed!

A couple of years ago I took the plunge and moved beyond a point and shoot camera and purchased a DSLR camera.  I purchased a backpack bag and was set….except the backpack bag was an additional bag that I needed to take with me or I would have to throw my camera into my purse or children’s bag – and after waiting my whole life for my DSLR, I was not about to risk scratching or damaging it!  So I set about searching for a smaller camera bag – even contemplated making making my own – and then I found Camera Coats!  I saw the ‘Jane Eyre‘ and had to have it!  But they were sold out!  So I haunted the camera coats website almost daily to see their products.  When the ‘Ti Amo‘ came out I  I did not hesitate – thank goodness because it sold out FAST!

The Camera Coat is one of the best purchases I have ever made.  Ever.  It has allowed me to take my camera with me everywhere.  I can fit it in any bag without worry, I can sling it over my shoulder and it is protected and looks lovely.  Two years ago for Jay’s birthday, Mel and I decided to purchase one for her. We bought her a grey chevron with yellow shabby flowers.

We both have our camera coats with our cameras all the time – so we can take our cameras with us anytime.
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I know I would like to purchase another – a waterproof one this time – maybe the Glimmer of Paris with matching strap or the touch of glitter with matching strap?
Here’s a promo code for you to get $10 off their shipping price…that will make it $8 to ship to Canada! 
Code: PurpleShip  Expires: June 30, 2013.Not good with any other codes/offers. www.cameracoats.com

andie1

Eating Healthy Made Easier

I read this quote the other day, and it was like a giant bell went off in my head.

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It really can be that simple.  And its so very true. Wish I had found this a few months back when I was bathing suit shopping! {If you are new to Purple Eggplant, you can read about my battle with the B-Word here}.

I don’t know about you, but the biggest deterrent for me to follow through on eating healthy is not being organized.   A work from home momma, I feel I should be way more organized than I am around here when it comes to meal planning. But I am not. I am now accepting and at peace that is my reality, so I am working with it ! Solution focused thinking here I come.

I want to be successful, so I had to come up with a plan.

Lying in bed one night last week, I realized my over thinking tired brain was actually being productive! I am going to try what I am now dubbing “the at home salad bar“.  Sounds fun, and for me if something is fun and has a theme, I am even that much more likely to do it.

Outreaching to our Purple Eggplant Facebook followers and friends, we put together a pretty super list of items that could be used in an at home salad bar:

  • Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers snap peas
  • Red onion
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Goat cheese
  • Low fat brick cheese
  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Walnuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Dried cranberries
  • Beansprouts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Avacado
  • Almonds
  • Olives
  • Chickpeas
  • Quinoa
  • Beets
  • Grapes
  • Feta
  • Crispy noodles
  • Mushrooms
  • Pineapples
  • Baby spinach
  • Assorted lettuce greens
  • Green onions

{the possibilities are seriously endless}

The great thing about this list is if you don’t end up using it all in salads and don’t want it to go to waste, you can make a stir fry, mango bean salad, fajitas, or spaghetti sauce…and you’ve already saved yourself the chopping time!

Off to the grocery store I went armed with my list. I love unpacking such a healthy bag of groceries!

unpacking the groceries

I then got organized with the needed containers {and have to admit these are brand new. I have never nor will I ever have this many matching container/lid combos!}

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…and then I got to chopping {and my veggie monster snuck in for some irresistible fruit and veggies!}.

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It really is a beautiful thing!

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The at home salad bar is ready to go.

Healthy eating made easy!

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We would love to hear how YOU make healthy eating a little easier?

jay2

Outdoor Balloon Birthday Party in Pictures {Part I: Balloon Themed Party Food}

This weekend we celebrated my C’s 3rd birthday. Unreal. 3 already.

C’s 1st birthday party was outside, and the week leading up to it I was glued to the weather channel. I loved the outdoor party vibe so much, we risked it again. Thankfully I wasn’t as stressed this year! … but I was a bit worried as we woke to overcast skies. Turned out, Mother Nature had a present for C too – a rain free day !

C’s daddy and I headed to Claudette Cain Park in Ottawa early on Sunday morning to start setting up the balloon themed birthday party!

setting up the balloon themed party at Claudette Cain Park

I set my own record with 765 photos taken!  So I thought I would share bits and parts of the party with you through different posts. Many ideas were collected on Pinterest and can be found here.

This first post is about balloon themed party food. I had too much fun with this!

We also have some printable party food labels for your in .jpeg format and water bottle and juice box label freebies for download. I printed them onto 4×6 cardstock and folded it over to make a tent card, but you can use the images so many other ways!  {clicking the image will open it so you can save to your computer}

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{meringue rainbow clouds}

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{timbits are a staple play date item with our group so I had to incorporate into the party food – timbit balloons – yum!}

Balloon shaped party sandwiches

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{balloon shaped sandwiches…PB&J pockets, tortilla pinwheels, mini ham pitas…topped with cherry tomato balloons}

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{Oreo pops…have you seen the birthday confetti kind?? Yummy and super cute}fruit pops
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{This is one case where the cardboard box wasn’t enough to keep the food standing up! If you try this for fruit pops, I suggest using a deeper box for the stand so they aren’t falling over!}

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{Rainbow jello cups}

balloon party theme popcorn
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{POPcorn!…We had POPtarts too but I couldn’t get them to stay on the stick so they were left out at the last minute}

veggie balloons
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{I didn’t get a pic with the wrapping off! But you can use cherry tomatoes, and cucumber, carrot and pepper medallions to make a tray of balloon shaped veggies!}

DIY water bottle labels

{Water bottles with custom “refresh” wraps…printable water bottle label wraps}

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{Apple and mixed berry juice boxes wrapped with custom juice box labels so young kiddos can easily identify}

balloon cake pops and DIY cake pop stand{Balloon cake pops! stand created by wrapping floral foam, cardboard boxes, and decorating! and of course a special cupcake with candles for the birthday girl…that never got lit…more on going with the flow at your kiddos birthday party in a later post!}

The cake pops created by a dear friend were certainly a hit!

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For the tots, the take aways and party activities, we stayed with the balloon theme/outdoor!

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Because only one or two of the guests were old enough to recognize their name, we personalized loot bags with the kiddos pics

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You can also visit Catch My Party, where C’s Outdoor Balloon Birthday Party was featured!

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jay2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Good Reminder….

I teach, contractually,  students at the college level – so the end of the semester, and the beginning of May, for me symbolizes a time to slow down, gather my thoughts, take care of myself in a better way and finish the number of projects I started but slowly lost priority in every day life.  I have yet to do any of this so far in the month of May  – and it is almost over! May has turned out to be a month of finishing up & preparing for work, attending meetings and conferences, dance rehearsals & recitals, baseball practices & games, swimming lessons, birthday parties and medical appointments.

In the midst of all of this I have struggled to maintain balance…and I have failed….taking care of my children’s lives and work came first.  And although these are things I love – I am disappointed that I did not set better boundaries to do the things I set out do do at the beginning of the month.  This really hit yesterday when I realized that my 21 years anniversary since we have been together as a couple passed with only a phone call and greeting of “Merry 17th“ to my husband to commemorate the day.  I usually make a bigger deal of this as it is a special day.  I am not ok with this path I seem to be following.  I need to adjust my mind to realign with my heart and soul to make different choices on how I spend my time, so I create the flow not follow it.  I started thinking about what I need to do this.

One of my favorite quotes that I used as a life motto for many years is `You are not defined by what has happened to you in the past. You future is defined by what you want for the future` ~Unknown.  It is time to gain some perspective. Time to think about more than the work that is waiting to be finished and what is on the schedule for the day.  Setting long term goals helps remind me of the life I want and the groove I am striving to attain. Because I only get one chance as me in this life and when I am old and sitting in my rocking on my front porch the memories that I want to sustain me are the ones I want to create. I came across a great tool for long term goal setting on the Lululemon website, you can type write into the PDF and print it: http://www.lululemon.com/education/goalsetting

As I complete this form I am inspired – I am reminded of the possibilities life has to offer and a little less lost in the busyness of everyday.

Vision Goals Worksheetvision_goals_worksheet

andie1

A new perspective on gratitude

The Storyteller was my pick for this months book club. I anxiously awaited Jodi Picoult’s new release in March.

I’m so glad I made the time to sit down and read it.

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But tonight as I walk past our gratitude wall, I do so with a heavy heart.

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The past 200 pages of this story are moving me beyond measure, as I read about a young woman who is living through the Holocaust. I’m nearing the end and I don’t want her to stop telling her story and at the same time I wish her story was purely based on fiction.

As I look at our gratitude wall and typical mom//dad//kid schedule I can’t help but feel – well actually I don’t know what I feel – but it’s not a good feeling. What I am thankful for seems so very insignificant in the face of what so many women, children, men, babies would have been thankful for in Germany many years ago.

While I can’t change history, I can change today.

Above our door we have the words “today I’m going to try and change the world”. It was part of a country song lyric that i heard a few years ago and just couldn’t get out of my head {custom decal from Blue Couture Design}.

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When I was working directly with children and women who’d experience violence, I knew I was making a difference. Now that I’ve left frontline work, the difference I can make isn’t the same – not greater or lesser, just different. And sometimes my heart and mind miss this work. As I read about atrocities such as those in this story, there’s a little part of me that comes alive again and says, ok, what can I do to make this world a better place. Because today still, atrocities happen. Here and worldwide. But I know the job I am doing raising my daughter is just as important. And maybe one day she will grow to change this world.

Today we CAN change the world. We can all do something in our own way, that makes a difference for someone. The difference may be huge, tiny, small scale or grand. But it us ours to make.

If you have a few moments, here’s a link to the video that inspired our over the door quote:

{ Johnny Reid // Today I’m Gonna Try and Change the World }

jay2