The Best Ways to Impress Your Guests this Holiday Season + FREE A Christmas Story Toilet Seat Decal SVG

Who’s ready for holiday guests? This girl is! And with this free toilet seat decal inspired by A Christmas Story, no one’s falling in the potty! This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MerrySpritzmas #CollectiveBias

One thing I love about the holiday season is that I get to see a lot of my favorite people all in the same month. Whether it’s family coming into town, friends stopping by with plates of cookies, or the neighbor down the street, the end of the year is when all of the commotion happens. And that means one thing… the loo can be a busy place! 

So in order to make sure our house is in tip-top shape and ready for guests, I do a few small things to prep in advance. Not only does this make it easier for guests, but makes my life easier as well. And since our guest bathroom is also the bathroom the girls use, I’ve made a funny decal inspired by a classic Christmas movie to remind male guests to keep the seat down. Because, yes, my kid has fallen into the toilet because someone forgot to do this…

(click on the images to visit Poo~Pourri.com and find your perfect match)

The Best Ways to Impress Your Guests this Holiday Season

One thing that I always hate is using the restroom at someone else’s house. Whether it’s a quick trip or something a little longer, I don’t want to put myself in an embarrassing situation. I’ve also found myself in need of a few necessities over the years when I’m at someone’s house and I don’t really know how to ask. So in an effort to make our home more inviting, I’ve taken a few proactive steps so that guests feel right at home when visiting. 

#1 – Have Toiletries Accessible

When guests come over I like to put out these cute labeled jars out so that they can help themselves to things like cotton balls, etc. I also stock the medicine cabinet with things like aspirin, acetaminophen, etc and hairspray, bobby pins, and tweezers. And underneath the sink I keep a few personal items. 

#2 – Don’t Skimp on the Toilet Paper

Another thing I keep plenty of under the sink is toilet paper. No one wants to visit your home, head to the bathroom, only to have to yell to get someone to bring some toilet paper to them (or find other ways of cleaning up). So I stock a good number of rolls under the sink for easy access. 

#3 – Have the Poo~Pourri Out

And front and center by the toiletries that are on the back of the toilet is the Poo~Pourri. Because there’s nothing worse than heading into the restroom at a friend or family member’s house and realizing that when you thought you only had to go #1, you really had to go #2. No one needs to know when you have Poo~Pourri available.

Guests simply need to spray 3-5 times and do their thing. Poo~Pourri’s pure blend of natural essential oils creates a film on the surface of the water. he protective barrier traps odor under the surface before it ever begins! All you’ll smell is a refreshing bouquet of natural essential oils. It’s as easy as that!

You can hover over the image above and click on the images to visit Poo~Pourri.com and find your perfect match. Whether you’re a spiced apple person or prefer the calming effects of lavender vanilla (my favorite!), there’s a scent out there for you. Add a spritz of holiday magic by leaving the porcelain sleigh smelling better than you found it with fun holiday scents like Merry Spritzmas® or Secret Santa that are perfect for a stocking or in place of a gift tag for that special someone. 

Finding the right scent of Poo~Pouri was fun. I chose a few festive holiday blends for the season and a more neutral scent for year round (or in my purse when I’m on the go). Poo~Pourri transforms your bathroom experience (and those who come in after you) by stopping bathroom odor before it begins…seriously!

Poo~Pourri Merry Spritzmas® is a blend of peppermint, vanilla and citrus natural essential oils and Poo~Pourri Secret Santa is a blend of cinnamon, vanilla and citrus natural essential oils. How amazing does that sound for spreading holiday cheer? The favorite holiday blend in our home is Merry Spritzmas®. Smelling is believing!

And right now you can enjoy 20% off your order! Just head over to the Poo~Pourri website to order now. While it’s a fun (and funny) gift, it’s also something that works. Win-win! Plus, there’s always free shipping on orders over $19.95.

Now on to how to download and put on this awesome toilet seat decal inspired by A Christmas Story.

How to Add A Decal To Your Toilet Seat

What you’ll need: 

  • Filthy Animal SVG file
  • Oracal 631 vinyl (or equivalent non-permanent vinyl).
  • Transfer paper (or clear contact paper)
  • clean terry cloth
  • rubbing alcohol
  • burnishing tool or credit card

What you do: 

1. Download the Filthy Animal SVG file and cut it out on the vinyl of your choice using your cutting machine. 

2. Weed your design and transfer design onto transfer paper. 

3. Prep the inside of your toilet seat by putting a small amount of rubbing alcohol onto the clean terry cloth and wiping the surface down. Let dry. 

4. Grab your vinyl on transfer paper and try to eyeball the alignment so that the decal goes on evenly and in the middle of the lid. Press your design down. 

5. Using your burnishing tool or credit card, scrape the design gently onto the lid and get out any air bubbles to ensure that the vinyl is properly secured. Once secured, remove transfer tape 

6. Enjoy your decal and wait till guests come over to admire your throne! 

Grab the FREE A Christmas Story Toilet Seat Decal SVG Here

What are your top tips for making guests feel at home? 

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How to Make the Best Liquid Hand Soap from Bar Soap

We’re sharing a few ways that you can save money and reduce waste by creating the best liquid hand soap from left over bar soap with help from our sponsor, Johnson’s® Baby. 

Don’t you hate it when you get to the end of the bar of soap and don’t quite get how to use it up? Are you like me and save the little nubs left and mold it into one big nub to use? 

It’s like the last of the lotion or shampoo stuck in the bottle. I feel like I’m wasting it if I throw it away without at least attempting to get the last bits out. But I found a better solution for those little left over bar soaps: DIY liquid hand soap! 

Yup. And you wouldn’t believe how simple it is to make. 

With 3 kids we go through a lot of soap. We order our favorite online from Walmart and have it picked up when we go in for our essentials. That way we’re always prepared for bath time! 

Once we get down to a little nub of Johnson’s Baby Bar soap after bath time, I set the nubs aside to make liquid soap. It only takes about 1 ounce of bar soap to make a small batch of liquid soap. 

Here’s how we do it! 

How to Make The Best Liquid Hand Soap

What you’ll need:

  • 1 ounce of Johnson’s Baby Bar 
  • 2 cups water
  • small pot
  • whisk
  • measuring cup
  • hand soap dispenser

What you do:

1. Take the small bits of Johnson’s Baby Bar you’ve collected after bath time and cut up into smaller pieces. Weigh out 1 ounce. 

2. Boil 2 cups of water. Once the water is boiling, add 1 ounce of soap. 

3. Take water off heat and whisk soap and water together until the soap has fully dissolved. 

4. Let soap mixture cool for 15 minutes then whisk again. Soap mixture should start getting thicker. 

5. Let mixture sit for a few hours (or overnight). If soap is too thick/gelatinous, add more water to thin out until you have the consistency of liquid glue. 

6. Pour into the soap dispenser and wash, wash, wash! 

If you’re looking to save some money (bar soap is so much cheaper than liquid soap!) and put those leftover bits of soap to good use, try this hack out and let me know how it works for your family! Check out these other great hacks and ideas here on this Pinterest board

If someone is reporting an adverse event or a product quality complaint, please tell them to call the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) North America Consumer Care Center at 800-361-8068 during normal business hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. After normal business hours, they can report adverse events or product quality complaints through www.jnj.com Contact Us page.

What do you do to reuse the last bit of product? 

Looking for more DIY hacks? Read on

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Wow Guests with These Easy DIY Thanksgiving Door Decorations + a DIY Cornucopia Wreath Tutorial

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DIYHolidayWithSCJ #CollectiveBias

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we’re making sure our home is in tip-top shape for guests. As the holidays get nearer, you never know who might stop by at any given moment. And the first thing they see when coming up to our home is our front door. So we’re sprucing things up with these easy DIY Thanksgiving door decorations and a simple DIY Cornucopia Wreath.

When we first moved into our new home, the one thing that stuck out like a sore thumb was the ugly solid brown door that stood in the doorway of our home. I didn’t care for it much and it always bugged me that it didn’t show off the awesomeness that is our home. So when my husband found a door in the exact style we were looking for on clearance at Home Depot, we picked it up right away and he installed it. Instead of leaving the trim around the door brown, we brightened things up with a deep red color to really make the door pop. 

To keep the door in tip-top shape, we rely on our go-to cleaning products to spruce things up. With the door being the first thing all walk through to enter the home, it can get a bit beaten up over time and gather dust and grime from the outside elements. 

Since our new door has three windows in it, we keep Windex® Original close by. It has an Unbeatable Streak Free Shine and starts working on dirt and grime even before you wipe*. Trusted for generations, Windex® Original cleans and shines glass, mirrors, and more! 

Pledge® beautifies and enhances the appearance of your hard surfaces and our finished, sealed door always looks so much better after we wipe it down with Pledge®. Pledge® Lemon Clean can be used on furniture all around the house to quickly clean, condition and protect –all while leaving behind the classic, fresh lemon Pledge® scent. It also features Allergen Trappers® to remove dust and up to 90 percent of the allergens found in dust. That means in addition to cleaning the front door, we can clean up the other household hard surfaces including wood, laminate, stainless steel, leather, marble, granite and plastic.

Scrubbing Bubbles® Fantastik® 32 oz. All-Purpose Cleaner is the perfect cleaner for our door threshold. It gets a beating as the kids run in and out of the home so we need a powerful antibacterial solution cuts to the center of grease and grime and dissolves it on contact and disinfects the area. And the no-rinse solution means you don’t have to spend as much time cleaning.

Easy DIY Thanksgiving Door Decorations

Now that our door is all nice and clean, it’s time to spruce things up even more with a few easy DIY Thanksgiving Door Decorations. This DIY Cornucopia Wreath is not only easy to make, it can be saved to use year after year! 

DIY Cornucopia Wreath

What you’ll need: 

  • Wheat wreath (found at Home Depot)
  • chicken wire
  • twine
  • hot glue gun
  • hot glue sticks
  • plastic/fake fruit and veggies

What you do: 

1. Cut a wide triangle out of the chicken wire and form into a cornucopia shape. 

2. Using the twine, wrap around the cornucopia frame and secure twine to the form and itself with hot glue. 

3. Continue wrapping the twine all the way down the form to the smallest tip and then secure the end by sticking it back in the end of the form.

4. Secure the cornucopia onto the wheat wreath with hot glue. 

5. Add decor in and around the cornucopia by hot gluing it in place. Make sure to balance the size of each piece and the colors. 

6. Hang on the door and step back to enjoy your handiwork! 

We grabbed a fun scarecrow and stacked two of the pumpkins from our trip to the pumpkin patch next to it to complete the Thanksgiving door decorations.

Keeping things simple yet welcoming is key. The front door doesn’t need too many decorations so choosing the pieces you use wisely will help keep a nice balance.  

Be on the lookout for Windex® and Scrubbing Bubbles® Fantastik® product promotions on display in Home Depot stores until 10/31/17, and Pledge® products on display starting 11/1/17. You can find all products in the cleaning products aisle at your local Home Depot store. 

What do you do to spruce up your front door during the holidays? 

*Claim Based on Windex® Original lab testing against leading competitor glass cleaners per AC Nielsen 52 weeks ended 7/29/2017

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Smurfette’s Secret Succulent Fairy Garden

This secret succulent fairy garden would make a perfect gift for Mother’s Day or any other special occasion. Plus, it’s super easy to put together when you have the right tools!

A few weeks ago we were invited to a screening of Smurfs The Lost Village and boy did my kids love it! The movie took us through the story of Smurfette’s creation and her struggle with finding her unique talent. Since she was made out of clay and different from the other Smurfs, she grew sad and frustrated with her lack of being able to master one skill. 

As the story unfolds, she and a few Smurf friends head off on an adventure that brings her to realize who she really is and the power she holds inside. 

Well… my kids were quite inspired by the movie because as soon as we got home they wanted to create their own Smurf village in the back yard! The fun plants that came alive and the various creatures found along Smurfette’s journey were all they could talk about. 

So I pitched a fairy garden but instead of fairies, we used Smurfs! And how perfect did it turn out? Plus? It was so easy for the kids to make! 

Watch the video at the end of this post for more details! 

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10 Tips To Teach Children The Basics of Organization

These 10 tips to teach children the basics of organization can help get your kids to start picking up after themselves and stop leaving messes all over the house. 

10-tips-to-teach-children-the-basics-of-organization

Teaching your child how to organize can be comparable to brushing your teeth while eating Oreos. As much as parents like to do things themselves, there comes a point where children must learn to do things on their own. And now is about the time that my kids need to start picking up after themselves and learning how to keep their areas organized. 

After two weeks home with the kids and little messes made in every.single.room of the house over the holiday break,  I was done. And at one point I’m pretty sure I grabbed a big black trash bag and threatened to pick up everything I see on the ground and give it away. Mama was over it. And the kids picked up on that. 

Our house is set up so that our children can let their inner creativity shine. BUT at 6 and 7 years old I think they’re old enough to start learning how to start organizing their things. Putting stuff away once they are done using them so that they’re not in every corner of our home. Or so that they don’t end up in a pile on their bed or bedroom floor. 

Starting with the basics is one way to help your child learn how to organize. And that’s exactly where we’re starting. 

10-tips-to-teach-children-the-basics-of-organization-before-and-after

10 Tips To Teach Children The Basics of Organization

#1. Simplicity

Teach your child that organization doesn’t need to be complicated. Organization should be used as a tool to make everything simpler.

#2. It Takes Time

One thing a child should know about organization is that it takes time. Even the most basic forms of organization will take some time.

#3. Limits

Your child should know that to be successful in organization there has to be limits put on things. You can’t collect every single paper you bring home from preschool.

#4. Donations

It’s amazing how much one person can collect overtime. Teaching your child the basics about donations will help them learn about organization. They should know that when a person has extra of something, it’s okay to donate to someone else less fortunate.

#5. Bring one in Take one Out

One rule a child should know about organization is the value of doing it “as you go.” If you buy something new and bring it home, then the rule is that something else has to leave. Learning to let go of items can be a hard lesson.

#6. Everything Has a Home

I think one of the most valuable lessons a child can learn in organizing is that everything has a home. You don’t need to leave everything out on the floor, simply put it away. When everything has a home the basics of organization seem pretty simple.

#7. Teamwork

Teach your child that it’s okay to ask for help when they need it. Sometimes organizing can be incredibly overwhelming. Teaching your child to ask for help is a tip they’ll need to carry with them for a long time.

#8. Know Their Limits

A child should be taught the basics of organization, but there is no need to be incredibly pushy about it. There should be a happy medium between proper organization and overzealous organization. 

Your child doesn’t need to spend every waking moment organizing their room. Have your child set a 15 minute timer for their organizing time. When that time is over, they get to take a break.

#9. Prioritize

Organizing can be overwhelming because sometimes there’s too much to do and not enough time. Teach your child how to prioritize one task over another. For example—The floor needs cleaned up before you can sweep.

#10. Get Creative

There are no rules to organizing. One family’s idea of organizing is different than another. Teach your child the basics behind organizing and they should be good to go. Also teach them that getting creative with the resources is a smart move. For example—You don’t need to go out and buy organizing items, you can use what you have at home. Use a milk crate for a toy box and etc. 

10-tips-to-teach-children-the-basics-of-organization-folding-clothes

Try to refrain from getting frustrated or yelling when you’re teaching your child about organizing. Children should grow up to love this sort of exercise, not grow to hate it.

How do you get your kids involved in the organization process? 

Birthday Party Tips: The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Hosting A Party

This shop featuring the lazy mom’s guide to hosting a party has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WipeAwayHolidayMess #CollectiveBias

the-lazy-moms-guide-to-hosting-a-birthday-party

My gorgeous little girl is turning 6 on Wednesday. Yup. 6. I remember when she was first born. She came so fast. Like she was ready to be here after waiting 5 days after her due date. Always on her time. And always like a whirlwind. 

She insisted on a Shopkins themed party and I had to deliver. I mean come on, you only turn 6 once, right. In the 6 years of throwing parties for her, I’ve come to learn a thing or two about throwing together a party. And each year has gotten simpler and simpler with a few easy tricks I’ve learned. 

Throwing a birthday party doesn’t have to be complicated. Or expensive for that matter. it just takes some creativity and a little bit of prep. And if cleaning isn’t your thing, I have some tips for that too! 

the-lazy-moms-guide-to-hosting-a-birthday-party-party-decor

The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Hosting A Birthday Party

1. Pick a theme

Now I normally leave themes up to the kids, but then I work on coming up with a basic color scheme to go along with that theme. In an effort to keep costs down, I only select a few character or themed items and coordinate those with solid color decor. I try to stock up on solid color plates and napkins, etc when I see them on sale so I don’t have to spend too much right before the party. 

2. Do any prep work ahead of time

About a week out I like to do the simple things I may not find the time to do on the day of the party or the day before. I fill goodie bags, make sure I have the pinata ready to go, and do a quick cleaning of the main areas of the house. I also print out any printables I’ve made or found and assemble anything that needs to be assembled (like when I make my own happy birthday signs). 

the-lazy-moms-guide-to-hosting-a-birthday-party-cupcakes

3. Only commit to making 1-2 food items

My biggest time saver and stress reliever is to only make 1-2 of the food items I serve at the kids parties. This year it was hot dogs and pasta with two different sauces (alfredo and marinara). We purchased the pizza, fruit, veggie tray, and cupcakes from the grocery store. And I added a little flair to the store bought cupcakes by purchasing some character rings and cupcake decorations online. Way cheaper than custom cupcakes or cakes! 

4. Set up the night before

So that everything is ready to go, I always try to set up everything the night before. I lay out platters, make little notes about where I want things to go, and come up with a day-of game plan so I don’t forget anything. That way there’s less stress on me the day of. I also make sure my husband is in charge of picking up all of the food on the day of so I’m home to do any last minute tidying and to greet any early guests. 

the-lazy-moms-guide-to-hosting-a-birthday-party-scotch-brite

5. Don’t clean up during – or right after – the party

My biggest suggestion when hosting a party is to not worry about clean up. Especially when there are guests still at your home. We set out trash cans outside and inside so that guests know where things go (including recycling). And sometimes guests are so inclined to help pick up here and there. Let them! But don’t you dare pick up that piece of trash! This is your time to enjoy the fun your child is having with their friends. 

When the party has ended, I simply put away any food items that are still left out. And that’s all I do. I leave the mess for the morning. Because by then I’m exhausted and why work more when it’ll all be there in the morning? The next morning I conquer and divide. I have one kid with a bag to pick up trash and the other with a bag to pick up recyclables. 

Then I go around clearing any plates or dishes that may not have been put away. Next up is the dishes. Now you may be worried that because you didn’t clean up the night before, you might have some leftovers stuck to the dishes. That’s nothing a handy dandy Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloth can’t handle. The scrubbing dots on the one side of the dish cloth allow you to take on tough messes in the sink and across a variety of surfaces. Squeaky clean! 

Then I unleash the best tools of all! Our dogs. We let them search around and find anything we may have missed. And it works like a charm! 

the-lazy-moms-guide-to-hosting-a-birthday-party-cleaning-up

So the next time you’re hosting a party remember to keep it simple! Choose a theme, but use solid color accents, do some prep work ahead of time, only make 1-2 items for the party and purchase the rest, and come up with a day of game plan (including NOT cleaning). Looking for some help in the kitchen? Just grab some Scotch-Brite Scrubbing Dish Cloths to help you out! 

What are your tips for making party planning easier? 

scotch-brite-at-ralphs

Head over to your local Ralphs to score an In-Store Clip Strip Offer for $1.00 off a 1-pack of Scotch-Brite Scrubbing Dish Cloths starting on 12/4! We found our Scotch-Brite Scrubbing Dish Cloths in the cleaning aisle. 

birthday-party-tips-the-lazy-moms-gude-to-hosting-a-party

DIY LEGO Side Table

 This shop featuring how to make a DIY LEGO side table has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyPledgeCastle #CollectiveBias 

DIY Lego Side Table - the perfect addition for a LEGO loving boy room

I learned pretty quickly after becoming a boy mom that boys are messy. And as they get older, they make bigger messes. In an effort to organize the messes, I have been wanting to create an activity table like this LEGO side table to take care of the piles of LEGO bricks I always find around his bed.

So when we switched him to the room upstairs (our old guest bedroom) the first project I tackled after painting was to turn a side table I found at the thrift store into a DIY LEGO side table.

Not only was it easy to make, it took only a few hours to put together!

Pledge at Ralphs

Like the piles of LEGO bricks I find left all over, there’s also always a thin film of dirt trailed wherever my son goes. He treks in so much sand, dirt, and debris from his adventures outside and it ends up on everything. Luckily, with Pledge® Orange Clean Spray I can control the dust and clean up smudges and messes while safely leaving the finishes alone. You can find Pledge® Orange Clean Spray in the cleaning aisle at your local Ralph’s.

When I’m cleaning his room (after he attempts to clean it, of course) I just go at it and wipe down his bed frame, side tables, dresser, and bookshelf. The Pledge® Orange Clean Spray features Allergens Trappers® to remove dust and up to 90% of the allergens found in dust. Not only do I get a clean bedroom, but I can reduce my son’s asthma flare ups too!

DIY Lego Side Table before and after

DIY Activity Side Table

What you’ll need:

  • side table or small end table
  • no prep spray paint
  • drop cloth
  • small box for toy bricks that fits width of table
  • measuring tape
  • pencil
  • painters or masking tape
  • drill
  • jigsaw
  • sandpaper
  • spray adhesive
  • LEGO baseplate

What you do:

1. Using the no prep spray paint, paint the table in whatever color or pattern you choose. Let dry completely.

2. Measure the spot on the table where you want to place the box. If you’re leaving room for a lamp, etc, make sure to put the box on one side vs. in the center of the table. Trace the box with a pencil.

3. Once you have traced the spot, place masking tape down on the pencil line. The masking tape will help lessen splintering when you’re cutting. Then re-measure the top of the box and measure out where to cut. Note: if your box tapers down like ours did, make sure to account for that.

DIY Lego Side Table - measure twice, cut once

4. Using the drill, drill a hole on two of the opposite corners. This will provide a place to start the jigsaw without making a huge mess of things.

5. Once the two holes are drilled, use the jig saw and cut a straight line to the corner without the hole. Then do the same for the other lines until all 4 sides are cut.

6. Sand the edges of the hole until smooth and then remove the tape. Clean off the table with Pledge® and remove any dirt or debris left over. Spray a little touch up paint in any area that needs to be touched up. When dry, add the box to the hole.

DIY Lego Side Table - cut out hole for box

7. Now measure where you want the LEGO baseplate(s) to go. Make a small mark with pencil on either side of the plate so you know where to put it.

8. Using the spray adhesive, spray the back of the LEGO baseplate. Then place back on the table where you marked it and firmly press down. Let dry completely before playing on it.

DIY Lego Side Table - use spray adhesive to secure square lego pad

And your DIY LEGO side table is complete! Fill the box up with toy bricks and let your child go at it!

DIY Lego Side Table - turn a thrift store find into an awesome tableDIY Lego Side Table - built in LEGO boxDIY Lego Side Table - with room for lamp and water glass

Because this is a side table next to my son’s bed, I wanted to leave room for a lamp and the glass of water he always has to have right before bedtime. There’s even a little more room for a snack or book.

Next up on our DIY room adventure? A minifigure LEGO lamp! Stay tuned…

DIY Lego Side Table - a fun way to play with LEGO bricks

How do you organize your child’s small toys?

Keeping Pests Away: Using Ladybugs In The Garden

Keeping Pests Away Using Ladybugs In The Garden Is A Natural Pesticide

One thing I decided from the beginning when we started our garden was that I didn’t want to use any chemical pesticides. I’ve been very diligent about not using chemicals in the home so why would I use them in the garden? Especially on plants we grow to eat. So when I started to see little aphids I quickly went in search of a solution. And happily found out that ladybugs were the answer! How awesome is that?

My lettuce, celery, broccoli, and various other veggies and fruit (gotta remember those strawberries!) needed some protection so we headed out to find us some ladybugs. And we found ours at Armstrong Garden Centers over Ladybug weekend a few years back. And we keep going every year to enjoy the ladybugs. What’s Ladybug Weekend? It’s when one free packet of ladybugs harvested from colonies in California’s foothills will be handed out to Armstrong Garden Centers customers at check-out with purchase while supplies last

 And this year it will take place on Saturday, April 23 and Sunday, April 24 at all 32 Armstrong Garden Centers locations. Armstrong Garden Centers anticipates giving away two million of these “good bugs” to encourage healthy lawns and gardens. How cool is that? 

Known for their unique red and black colors, ladybugs will stay in your garden as long as there is something to eat. It is okay if the insects leave because it means that your garden is clean and the ladybugs have moved on to help your neighbor’s yard.

Keeping Pests Away Using Ladybugs In The Garden

To celebrate ladybug weekend, the following free classes will be available at all Armstrong Garden Centers stores:

  • Saturday, April 23 at 9:00 a.m. – Ladybugs and Other Good Bugs – Many insects are excellent garden helpers. Learn which plants are best for attracting these beneficial insects along with how they can help your garden flourish.
  • Sunday, April 24 at 10:00 a.m. – Organic Gardening – Learn everything you need to know from building soil health to problem-solving using organic products and techniques.

Keeping Pests Away Using Ladybugs In Our Garden

Why Ladybugs?

Ladybugs are great at keeping pests out of your garden. A few pests they take care of are:

  • Whitefly
  • Scales
  • Mites
  • Mealybugs
  • Broccoli Worm
  • Tomato Hornworm
  • Bollworm
  • Cabbage Moth

If you have signs of any of these pests you might want to consider picking up some ladybugs at your local gardening store to release in your garden. To find out more about using ladybugs to keep pests at bay check out this awesome website all about ladybugs, Everything Ladybug!

Here are a few tips on releasing the ladybugs into the garden:

Keeping Pests Away Using Ladybugs In The Garden - in a bag

1. Wet the garden bed. Ladybugs love moisture. If you want them to stay in your garden and not move onto the next you really don’t want to skip this step.

2. Open up the container and let the ladybugs start to crawl up and out.

Keeping Pests Away Using Ladybugs In The Garden and strawberries

3. Let your three year old shake the container over all parts of the garden. You don’t want all of the ladybugs in one area. (The three year old isn’t necessary but makes a fun adventure!)

4. Watch as the ladybugs wake up and start moving. The ladybugs might take a few minutes to perk up but soon they’ll start crawling all over and exploring your garden. A good amount of the ladybugs will leave to other gardens but a surprising amount stay.

Watch the little guys for a bit at your child’s level. You’ll be amazed at the sheer joy your little ones find in this activity!

Keeping Pests Away Using Ladybugs In The Garden crawling around

5. Continue to mist the garden with the lady bugs twice a day. Just enough to make sure that the dirt and plants are moist and the ladybugs have water to drink.

You can also mist the garden with a 1:1 ratio of sugar based soda to water. This will make the ladybug’s wings sticky and will allow them to explore your garden instead of flying away. This solution works for about a week and then wears off.

Keeping Pests Away Using Ladybugs In The Garden spreading out

Have you released ladybugs in your garden before?

* The photos in this post are a flashback to our March 2012 ladybug adventure 🙂

7 Tips for Picking the Perfect Pond Pet

7 Tips for Picking The Perfect Pond Pet

Are you ready to add a little life to your backyard pond? Adding a pond pet can be the perfect addition, as it adds character, color, and most definitely life to the space. I can’t tell you how much enjoyment we get out of watching our animals in the pond. It’s especially entertaining when the turtle decides to play “tag” with the fish. Oh yes, hours of fun!

When we first moved into our home, we were stoked to be inheriting a large, old koi and a red eared slider turtle with the pond in the back yard. But after a few months of just the two animals in the pond, we thought it’d be fun to add some more. So we did some research and found a few shubunkin goldfish to add to the mix.

There’s been a lot of change over the past two years in our pond and we now have 10 shubunkin goldfish and our red eared slider, Franklin. The original three shubunkin were eaten by a juvenile red tailed hawk and we’ve since put a net over the pond. But somehow between adding them to the pond and them disappearing we were left with 13 baby fish swimming around.  10 have survived to be the size you see in the photos below.

You can find enjoyment in being able to provide a peaceful refuge to a pond pet, as they are sure to enjoy being there just as much as you enjoy having them. But how do you pick the perfect pond pet? If you aren’t sure where to begin, take a look below at 7 tips for picking the perfect pond pet!

Picking the Perfect Pond Pet - know breeding habits

7 Tips for Picking the Perfect Pond Pet

1. Know what sort of space you are working with.

Frogs and turtles will be able to come up for much needed oxygen, but your fish won’t. If you are considering koi or goldfish, you want to be sure there is at least 8-10 square feet of pond per large fish.

This will ensure they get the space and oxygen they need to grow properly. If you are working on limited space, opt for one or two goldfish or amphibians that can come and go as they need.

The number of fish in our pond is higher than we’d like so we’ll be looking to re-home about 1/2 of them so that the other 1/2 can live with enough room to freely move around.

2. Be realistic about maintenance.

Adding fish to your pond means regular feeding (sometimes more than once a day) as well as regular filter maintenance. Amphibians as you know can typically find insects on their own, but the occasional sprinkling of crickets may be needed. If you are short on time, fish that need daily feeding may not be feasible and you should opt for amphibians.

We’ve found that we clean the pond and pond filter once a month and feed frequently (1-2 times in the day) during the summer, and less frequently in the winter.

3. Know your climate.

Most fish and amphibians can survive a harsh winter if proper preparations are made with the pond. If you have the time to do this yearly, go for it! If you live in an area where extreme heat or frost is an issue, you might be setting up these pets for failure. Instead, add bird feeders around the pond to attract birds who can fly south/north as needed to survive.

Luckily we live in Southern California and have no need to bring in our red eared slider during the winter months. But many turtle lovers set up a tank in their homes for the winter months with no issues. So don’t completely shy away from amphibians or turtles if you think you’ll be able to take them inside in the winter.

4. Talk to your local pet shop.

Don’t pick out pond pets blindly. Be sure to talk to a local pet shop or business that specializes in ponds so they can make suggestions for you. They are sure to offer helpful advice and product suggestions so you can have a successful experience.

We have had such a great amount of luck at Aquatic Warehouse in Kearny Mesa. They help us every time we have a problem and were able to recommend an awesome pond pump and filter for the size of our pond.

5. Consider kids into the decision.

Do you have small children who can pose harm to the pond pets? Or perhaps be intrigued by them and get too close to the pond? Be sure your children know how to be respectful of the pond pets and know how to care for them properly. You also want to avoid pond pets if children don’t know pond safety precautions, as their curiosity can result in harm.

We are currently working on wrapping a seating bench around the pond to help in deterring our kids from leaning over and reaching into the pond. We should have that complete by the time our youngest is old enough to open our sliding glass door leading to the back yard.

6. Know breeding habits.

So you think you want a few snails or frogs in your pond? Think just a few fish won’t be a big deal? Be warned that pond pets can and will breed and before you know it you can be up to your ears with new pets! Know how to deal with fish/amphibian eggs so you don’t quickly become overrun.

As I mentioned before, after our shubunkin passed and we thought we only had the one koi and one turtle, we ended up finding baby fish in our pond! At first we assumed the shubunkin laid the eggs and left them, but now as the fish get older, some look like koi and some look like shubunkin! You never know if the animals you’re adding to the mix are already pregnant and will be making babies in the pond.

7. Consider your reasons for wanting a pond pet.

Do you want to add a little life? Frogs are great for that, but be warned they can be quite noisy at night! Turtles are fantastic, but may wander into the grass and will need to be watched out for when mowing. Our turtle stays in the pond at all times right now but we are planning on creating an area for him to climb out and sun bathe in. It will be gated off so that the dog and chickens can’t get in and hurt him.

Each pond pet comes with unique needs you should be prepared for. If you want one solely for decoration, you might want to think again. Remember these are living creatures that need care and are for more than decoration. If you keep this in mind and are ok with it, a pond pet is sure to appreciate the space you provide!

Picking the Perfect Pond Pet - consider kids in the decision

A pond pet can be a lot of fun, a learning experience, and add greatly to your backyard pond. Keep these tips in mind when choosing the perfect pond pet, and you are sure to enjoy success.

Do you have a pond? Or are you considering creating one?

Teaching My Daughter To Find Her Dreams + a DIY Vertical Toy Storage Tutorial

This shop featuring a tutorial on DIY Vertical Toy Storage has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #InspireBigDreams #DreamBigPrincess #CollectiveBias

DIY Vertical Toy Storage Tutorial

My daughter. She is so strong. She’s always known what she wanted since she was a small child. I’m sure many of my family members remembered how she’d refuse a bottle because she knew she only wanted to nurse. She’d make my husband drive her all the way to my work to nurse her at lunch time. And then would wait until I got home to eat again. She still, to this day, knows exactly what she wants. And for the most part she knows how to get it.

From finishing fun projects she’s set out to start, to learning new things and going on fun exploratory journeys to do so. She is so brave. And so generous. And just the kindest girl I know. Sometimes I look at her and wonder how I got so lucky to have a daughter like her. She’s a lot like some of her favorite Disney Princesses. Inquisitive like Ariel, adventurous like Rapunzel, and smart like Tiana.

The other day she came to me asking if she could help kids who might not have as much as her. We had talked about how blessed we are as a family a few nights prior and how much we have after one of the kids had a meltdown after not getting a toy at a store. We went over how not everyone was blessed enough to have a huge birthday party every year, or is able to go to theme parks with their family, or even get new toys at Christmas and on birthdays. So my sweet girl asked how she could help make sure other kids got the gifts and toys they deserved. How could I not help her with this?

Building a DIY Vertical Toy Storage needs precise measurementsDIY Vertical Toy Storage - glue pieces before screwing together

So we set out to make a list of all of the places we could ask for donations. We also thought about how we could also chip in a bit to purchase new toys. And we came up with a game plan. Any time we head over to Toys ‘R Us to window shop or pick out a gift, we’re going to grab one extra. Guess what Molly’s doing to help? She’s saving up her dollars to use on the extras we purchase. Yup! She thought of that all by herself too. That kid. She makes me proud. 

And then she asked if we could make a toy chest for her room so she could put all of the extra toys we collect somewhere as we collect them. Since I’m not one to squash her ideas and dreams, we set fourth to make a great DIY vertical toy storage with her help, of course.  Why not build up her dreams literally and figuratively? 

DIY Vertical Toy Storage - measure twice cut onceDIY Vertical Toy Storage takes focus to build

With the help of a few princesses, some tiny field mice, a dad’s guiding hand, and a mother’s encouragement our project came together quite nicely. I think it’s absolutely amazing that both of our older kids love helping my husband and me with our projects. Whether it’s sanding, glueing, hammering, and even using a drill, they’re up for the challenge. It doesn’t hurt to have a super handy husband who can make just about anything. So when I drew out my vision he was 100% on board with creating a plan. 

Now her new dolls have a home, and we have designated to top box for new toys we’ve collected to donate. At the end of every quarter we’ll collect up our toys and find a local charity in need to donate them to. 

The best part about all of this? Now my youngest will have her own person to look up to and learn from. And I know her sister is going to teach her every thing she knows about following her dreams. Sure she’s only 1, but it’s never too early to encourage them to be strong and think for themselves even if it is a bit difficult at times. I’m up for the challenge! 

DIY Vertical Toy Storage Tutorial top tiers

DIY Vertical Toy Storage Tutorial and twirling with princessesDIY Vertical Toy Storage disney princess royal shimmer dolls

DIY Vertical Toy Storage

What you need:

  • 2 2’x6’x8′ doug fir boards
  • 3 1’x8’x8′ western red cedar boards
  • wood glue
  • miter saw
  • 3/8ths inch drill bit + drill
  • pocket screw jig
  • 12 1 1/2″ pocket screws
  • 12 2 1/2″ 5/16ths bolts
  • 12 5/16ths T nuts
  • 12 5/16ths washers

What you do:

Build 3 Boxes

  1. For the first box, cut one 1 x 8 x 8′ board into the following:
    – 2 – 24″ sections (front and back of boxes),
    – 1 – 22 1/2″ section (bottom),
    – 2 – 7 1/2″ section (sides)
  2. Screw and glue the pieces together. 
  3. Repeat again to make 3 boxes total

Build Side Box Supports

  1. Cut 2 x 6 x 8″ boards to 74″ long. These will become the side supports of your vertical storage.
  2. Lean one of the sides against a wall. Put a straight edge on ground against 2 x 6. Trace angle on 2×6. We used a 50 degree angle. Cut along line you have drawn. Transfer angle to other 2 X 6 and cut to match.
  3. Now put straight edge against wall and trace line on 2 X 6. Cut along line. Repeat for other 2 X 6. Both pieces should be identical.

Attach Boxes

  1. Lay one of the 2 x 6’s flat on the ground. Position one of the boxes in the lowest spot (bottom of box should be about 8-12 inches up from bottom of the board). Make sure to adjust box so that it’s level once it is resting on the wall. Next, lay out the second box. Finally position the third.
  2. When happy with the spacing, use screws to attach box to 2 x 6 side. Now put other 2 x 6 side flat on the ground. Flip partially assembled side to rest on 2 x 6. Attach with screws once lined up.
  3. Reinforce with bolts once unit is assembled with screws.

DIY Vertical Toy Storage close up of boxes DIY Vertical Toy Storage inside of box

DIY Vertical Toy Storage also good for books

If your daughter is interested in following her dreams and ideas, check out this great video from Disney on how she can be a champion too. You can find the full line of Disney Princesses at Toys ‘R Us including my daughter’s favorite Disney Princess Royal Shimmer Dolls and Little Kingdom Ariel’s Sea Castle. They’re easy to find when you look for the dedicated Disney Princesses aisle in store. 

Dream Big Princess Display at Toys R Us

How do you support your daughter’s dreams?



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