Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Unofficial Portion of My Time in Chicago

This year there was so much chattering about private, outboard, etc. etc. parties that I decided it'd probably be best for me to share my photos from those events here! I'm going in reverse chronological order starting with Saturday night!
This was the Disney after party following the pre-screening of Delivery Man, the upcoming film featuring Vince Vaughn. It was such a good movie, you can definitely expect to hear more about it closer to the release date in October! Earlier in the day Saturday I attended the Sweets and Treats party, unfortunately I didn't get any pictures while I was there.
I ended Friday night at the #EcoFab50 party, hosted by First Time Mom and Cloth Diaper Geek! There were only four sponsors in attendance (along with a henna artist) but the swag bag was teeming with such great eco-friendly baby products. I really hope I'm able to share more about these great companies with you in the future!
EcoFab 50 pic
These are just a couple of the awesome shots I got from the 92nd floor of the John Hancock Observatory during the CouponCabin Happy Hour. Now don't get me wrong, the pizza was cold and hard and there wasn't anything fancy going on during the party, but these views made it worth the trip up the two very scary elevators. Thankfully Anne Hogan was with me...p.s. she was one of the lucky $12,000 winners the night before at the #AwesomeChi party. When we left we also received these personally autographed cookbooks!

Attending the Lifetime Primp ‘n Pamper Lounge was a last minute decision that I'm glad I made! I got another massage, had my fortune read ("You're going to be creating a lot in January" tell me something I don't already know!), and my nails painted.
Friday morning started at Millinium Park for a little Yoga with Yasso. I've never gone to a yoga class let alone one that was outside. It was misting that morning and the mats were wet so I ended up doing my downward dogs in the grass. If you're a yoga kinda gal, I highly recommend taking it outside!
As we left we received gift bags, the yoga mat we'd be using, a Yasso bar and a juice. Mine was Cayenne Lemon Agave...yes, it tasted as unappetizing as it sounds. Thankfully I can't remember the brand.
Thursday night was wrapped up at the Sweet Suite hosted by The Big Toy Book. I'm ashamed to say I only took pictures of this Legends of Chima Lego toy but rest assured, I also was attacked by a flying fairy, met Marty a finalist from last year's Food Network Star competition, and made so many awesome connections I cannot wait to share it all with you! It's going to be good! Swag is being shipped but I did pick up some little goodies from Fashion Angel and a couple of other brands.
The Awesome Party, sponsored by Yappem,  was held in a nice location, The Crystal Gardens at the Navy Pier. I enjoyed the food, cotton candy, and candy bar. I met Amanda from Saving for Five there and she was a friendly face at many of the other events throughout the weekend! Here she is getting a lashes and lip gloss during the event. 
Is it horrible that the only thing I got a picture of during the Socialluxe Lounge was a plate of macaroons, my henna tattoo, and most of the swag? I did have a good time and got my first massage of the weekend.
Here’s a pic of the swag…minus a bottle of liquor and a PS3 game.
The first unofficial party I headed out to was The Baby Ladies "Save Babies Blogger Baby Shower"; it was held on the skyline terrace of the Inn of Chicago. What I loved about this event was that it wasn't just about the products it was also about raising awareness to help save babies. But don't get me wrong the products were cool too. I mean, it's been a while since I had a stroller and my goodness have they changed! I watched the Contours stroller presentation in awe of how easy it was to operate and use.
Wednesday night, just a few hours after arriving in Chicago I got the chance to head out on the water and watch fireworks aboard a SeaDog Cruise. I'm truly not a firework's person and planned on attending just for my roommate (who ended up being banned from anything unofficial and therefore unable to join me) but wow. It was awesome! We got a quick tour and learned about the buildings that make up the Chicago Skyline. Plus, I won a Beatrix Girls doll for Esther! Double score!
I can honestly say had it not been for the many friendly faces, sponsors, hosts, etc. of all these 'unofficial' parties my time in Chicago would have been one giant suckfest! (I'm really not kidding either.) I'm so grateful to have been invited to take part in such amazing events. Here's to next year!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Personalized Scrap Paper Artwork

Personalized Scrap Paper Artwork via My Very Educated Mother

Guess what? We’re adding on to our house (you’ll be hearing more about this later) which means the two little ones will be getting their own rooms. How exciting right? I know the first time I had a room to myself I couldn’t wait to start decorating the walls! Not much has changed, the ground hasn’t even been broken and I’m already daydreaming d├ęcor ideas. When the package of Apple Barrel paintand Mod Podge Washout showed up at our door I couldn’t wait to get busy on the first project on my list – Personalized Scrap Paper Artwork!

The Apple Barrel Paints matched up perfectly to some scrap scrapbook paper I had wanted to clean out of my supply closet and the Mod Podge Washout is made with kids in mind. As its name implies it washes out easier but that’s not what grabbed my kid’s attention, after watching me use the Gloss and Matte formulas on so many projects they were happy to see a formula (and bottle) made for them. P.S. I’m not allowed to use it unless they say it’s okay. Seriously, they have control issues…I blame it on their father.

Personalized Artwork Project via My Very Educated Mother
  • Apple Barrel Paints
  • Mod Podge Washout
  • Scrap pieces of scrapbook paper
  • canvases
  • stencils
  • Spouncer sponge stencil brushes


Because these pieces are made by, and for, the kids I let them pick out their favorite pieces of scrapbook paper, then we started ripping it up. Warning: Don’t walk away for a minute to grab your camera or you’ll end up with pieces too small to use! When you let kids rip something up, they’ll really rip it up.
@mvemother Personalized Artwork - Ripping Up the Paper
This is my favorite part, lay the pieces of paper onto your canvas in a pattern that pleases you. Remind you little ones to overlap as little as possible.

My Very Educated Mother - Personalized Artwork - Laying out Design
Once you get a layout everyone can live with start Mod Podging your pieces down. If you haven’t noticed we recycled some older canvases. Personalized Artwork-Mod Podging our pieces
Once the canvas was covered we let everything dry and then Mommy stepped it. I went ahead and trimmed the paper off the sides and put on the final coats of Mod Podge. Now the pictures were ready for stenciling.

We’ve used stencils before so the kids knew the importance of holding them as still as possible. As you can see in the picture below, I held down a corner for my daughter and ended up with green fingers! No worries, like the Podge the paint washed off both the kids and I easily with soap and water.
This ended up being such a fun project I foresee many more like it in my future!

I want to note, my daughter used heavier two-sided paper so she had virtually NO bubbling. My son on the other hand not only used thinner paper but also got a bit ahead of himself, while I helped his sister. I completely understand his impatience, it’s hard for me to wait for someone to tell me what to do sometimes too.

This post was written as part of a campaign with The Blueprint Social. All opinions are my own.

Personalized Artwork Project7
I hope you enjoyed this project and for more kid-friendly craftiness be sure to
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You can also check out some other bloggers’ projects below!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Are You Good & Ready?



Good & Ready Seeks to Help Millions of Americans Prepare for Disasters

Regardless of where you live, knowing what to do before, during and after a disaster is a vitally important part of being prepared and can make all the difference when second count. Points of Light has launched Good & Ready ,a collaborative preparedness engagement initiative to engage people to prepare themselves, their families and their communities. 

Good & Ready is a year-round online and on-the-ground emergency preparedness initiative led by Points of Light working with core partners, American Red Cross and the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH).

Research shows only one in 10 Americans is prepared to protect themselves, their families or homes in a natural disaster. Good & Ready is designed to help more people become prepared, allowing first responders to focus on the most critical situations. Visitors to the Good & Ready website are encouraged to take a quiz to find out how knowledgeable they are about national disasters, find preparedness projects and trainings in their community, find resources to learn how to create a household emergency plan and kit, find way to help their community prepare through volunteer opportunities, and share their story about preparedness.

Taking any of these actions will enter the user in a sweepstakes to win a $50 Target gift card or an emergency preparedness kit. Those who return to the Good & Ready website and submit a story and photo or video about how they fulfilled their pledge, will be eligible to win the grand prize of a $500 Target gift card.

National support for Good & Ready is provided by Target and the Allstate Foundation.

Visit Good & Ready to find out how prepared you are, learn how to create an emergency plan, register to get trained or pledge to help others in times of disaster.

About Points of Light

securedownload (1)Points of Light is the leading volunteer organization with more than 20 years of history and a bipartisan presidential legacy. Our mission is to inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action that changes the world. We connect people to their power to make a meaningful difference by providing access to tools, resources and opportunities to help volunteers use their time, talent, voice and money to meet the critical needs of our communities. We are organized into three divisions: Programs, Civic Incubator and Action Networks, which include HandsOn Network, the largest network of 250 local volunteer centers across the country and around the world; generationOn, the youth service movement that ignites the power of kids to make their mark on the world; AmeriCorps Alums, the national service alumni network that activates the next generation of service leaders; and Points of Light Corporate Institute, which enables companies to engage their employees and customers in service. For more information, visit

Monday, September 24, 2012

Puffy Paint Glow Map

@mvemother Puffy Paint Glow Map #iLoveToCreate
Recently I was lucky enough to receive a package of Puffy Paint Glow from iLoveToCreate.  Just moments after I opened the box a number of Halloween inspired crafts came to mind. Colorful Day of the Dead Skulls and Ghostly Glow Window Clings; no other holiday lends itself to Glow paint better. But when I read that the paint could be used on paper, I went in a completely different direction…and you will need a map for it!  Bwa, ha, ha!

No matter the locale charted out, maps add a certain charm to any room of the home. On the walls of a children’s bedroom they incite dreams of exploration while familiarizing little minds with the world around them. By adding a bit of Glow paint this otherwise standard decoration becomes an interactive piece of art. 

@mvemother Puffy Paint Glow 12 pack #iLoveToCreate

  • Puffy Paint Glow 12 Pack
  • a paper map

@mvemother Puffy Paint Glow Map 2

These may be the simplest directions in the history of directions but sometimes the easiest projects can get complicated if you don’t take things into consideration before you get started.

1. Smooth out your map.  Use an iron if necessary to get rid of any creases or folds.

@mvemother Puffy Paint Glow Map 3
2. If your map takes up your entire dining room table, like mine did, plan on eating in the living room. Seriously, after everything is painted the last thing you’ll want to do is ruin all your hard work by trying to move it.

@mvemother Puffy Paint Glow Map 4
3. If you’re left-handed start in the northeast corner of your map, if you’re right-handed the northwest. Continue to work diagonally across the paper to prevent any accidental smearing.

@mvemother Puffy Paint Glow Map 5
4. Coordinate your colors with the map, whether teal or grey, the Puffy Paint Glow 12 pack has all that you’ll need and remember they will intensify as they dry.

@mvemother Puffy Paint Glow Map 6
5. Here’s a fun geography question for you to contemplate while the paint dries.  Can you find the chef in the middle of America?*

@mvemother Puffy Paint Glow Map 7 #iLoveToCreate
6. If you don’t plan on framing your map, add a strip of packing tape across the top to strengthen the paper.

7. Prepare for ohhs and ahhs when you turn the lights out.  Um, if you tend to get motion sickness don’t stare at the ONLY glowing picture I could get, it’s a blur, make that a brightly glowing blur.

@mvemother Glowing Puffy Paint Map
I’m super excited with the results and the kids love it!  I’ve got more ideas for this product so stay tuned…those Day of the Dead Skulls are going to be happening and soon.  Find my post disclosure here.

For more crafting ideas with this and other great products be sure to visit iLoveToCreate on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

*The chef is in profile.  Minnesota-chef’s hat, Iowa-face/nose, Missouri-belly, Arkansas-legs, Louisiana-boot.

Check out these other great craft ideas!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Mother & Daughter Bonding Over


Last Monday, with coffee in hand, I was reading through my Facebook feed when I came along a post featuring an adorable outfit that cost $25 from  Essie was sitting next to me so I went ahead and followed the link, thinking we could sit and do a little online window shopping while we had our breakfast.  Half an hour later, our order was confirmed and two days later we were opening that cute pink box and trying on our first FabKids outfit!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How To Get Organized via

  I don’t take well to change, dislike technology based organizational tools, and in general I’m a skeptic. I just don’t like wasting my time trying out programs I’ll never remember to use or putting together gargantuan binders with so much paper it makes me cringe. That said I’m also absent-minded and the only thing that keeps me in line are GOOD organizational tools and now that we’re starting a new homeschooling year I’ve been on the hunt. 

Enter About One


Like the video shows, About One is a family organizer that handles everything from tax records to mementos.  It’s also a tool that slowly but surely making me eat my words and actually, ahem, like streamlining my records via cloud technology.  Seriously, did I just say that?

So imagine me, Ms. Resistant to Change, as I first started adding entries to my About One account muttering, “This is stupid, I’m not even doing it right.”  I typed in a title, attached a file, and then hit save (when needed I’d add a description).  Yup, it was that easy and after an hour I had scanned, uploaded, and archived ALL of last years art projects (for BOTH of the little ones) and my entire important stuff binder. 

And that’s how they hooked me.  It didn’t take a lot of time, it wasn’t overly complicated, and I can actually see myself doing this on a weekly basis to keep the papers in check.  The clutter purging neurotic inside me is giddy with the possibilities…and there are a lot of them.  Not only is everything in one place, we can access it at anytime via the Mobile App (which would have come in handy during our many emergency room visits when asked about medications and conditions), and with bank-level security I can feel okay having so much of me and my life in one place.

As far as online organizers there is only one thing About One is lacking, the calendar.  Because it’s still in the beta stage you get to read about how tremendously awesome it will be but you can’t use it yet.  During BlogHer I had the chance to talk with one of the About One girls in person and before the question even left my mouth she started shaking her head.  Yes, they know we’re anxious for the calendar and Yes, it will be available soon.  

I could go on and on about the really cool aspects of About One but I’ll be honest I spent some time watching videos that do a much better job than I could.  Here’s my favorite.

And here’s one from founder Joanne Lang explaining how and why she created About One.  Every parent’s worst nightmare.

So, in a nutshell About One is an organizing tool that’s actually made me want to digitize my entire filing cabinet…and that’s saying a lot.

I was compensated by AboutOne to review their online organizer. All opinions and text are my own.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Tips To Get Your Kids On-Board With Household Cleaning From Dr. Jana

During the chaos that is BlogHer I had the great pleasure of taking a moment to sit down in the Lysol Recharge Station and talk with award winning author Dr. Laura Jana about kids and cleaning. Dr. Jana InterviewAs a board certified pediatrician and American Academy of Pediatrics Fellow, Dr. Laura Jana knows the many reasons why children need to be included in our household cleaning routines.  It’s her experience as a mother of three and owner of an educational childcare center that’s taught her how to turn these dreaded tasks into rewarding family time.

Teaching the importance of cleanliness and hygiene go without saying, but my first question for Dr. Jana was if there were long term benefits to having chores?  Turns out there are and you might be amazed at just how big those benefits are.  A study conducted by the University of Minnesota found that the best predictor of a child’s success is the age at which he or she begins helping with household chores.  It went on to show that children involved in regular cleaning routines had a sense of responsibility, competence, self-reliance and self-worth that stays with them throughout their lives.

I’m busy, you’re busy, we’re all busy, sometimes it just seems easier and quicker to do the work myself rather than try to explain how to do it or worse, have to re-do work.  That’s were Dr. Jana recommended setting aside a special time each week dedicated to cleaning.  You can’t expect any lessons to be learned or good habits created while you’re doing a quick sweep of the house before company comes over.  Designate cleaning time as family time so that it is a time to be enjoyed together and not dreaded. 

Little ones WANT to help and a great way to get them involved is to turn cleaning into a game, explained Dr. Jana.  Form an assembly line, set a timer, or implement a game of “hide and seek,” just be sure that your kids know the rules and their limits when it comes to handling cleaning supplies.  Assign ambitious jobs like vacuuming, scrubbing and disinfecting for older kids while the younger ones handle simpler one-step tasks like dusting or picking up toys.  In our house my two little ones are the designated ‘runners,’ running everyone’s toys, books, shoes and miscellaneous items to their respective bedrooms.