10.11.2012

How To Make a Halloween Card with PicMonkey

Today I'd like to share with you a fun way to take any photo and vamp it into a creepy Happy Halloween card.

If you haven't heard of it already, you really should check out PicMonkey. It is a free photo editing website similar to everybody's old favorite, Picnik. During October, PicMonkey has added Halloween edits. 

When you go to PicMonkey's website, it looks like this. They are featuring some of their Halloween edits on their homepage. Aren't they creepy?


Here's where you get started making your card.
Click on the button that says, "Edit a photo". You will then be able to upload whatever photo you would like to use. I happen to have this photo from last Halloween. This old house was near where we used to live before we moved. Creepy enough as it is don't you think? 

Here is the screen you will see after your photo has uploaded. The tool bar is located on the left side of the screen. The "undo" and "redo" arrow buttons are at the top,  as well as the "save" button.


Under the "Effects" tab on the left you can choose several different ways to change the overall look of your photo. I am a fan of the Cross Process effect. 

First, I added Cross Process with a tint of green as you can see in the tool bar on the left side of the screen. By clicking "Apply" you can add the effect you like. 


I then added Cross Process with a tint of red on top of that. Getting creepier and creepier...


At the very bottom of the tool bar, you see a jack-o-lantern that says, "NEW". This is where all of the Halloween photo edits are stored. I chose to use the Vampire collection, but all of the others offer great effects, textures, and texts. There is also really great kid friendly theme that isn't shown in this screen shot called Trick or Treat. 


Under the Vampire theme, there textures unique to the theme. I chose to overlay two textures. Here is the first one. 


 And the second.You can see where I chose these textures in the toolbar on the left. Remember to click "Apply" to add every layer. 


What haunted house is complete without bats? Bats of all shapes and sizes are found under the Overlays section. I chose to add a few flapping in the sky. You can re-size, flip, or rotate the bats the same way that you would clip art in Microsoft Word. 


Now to add the text. Still under the Vampire collection, under the Text section there are some "Sinister Scrawls" to choose from. I chose the "Jellyka Delicious Cake" text and clicked the "Add Text" button. This opened a blank text box in the middle of my photo. The box says "Type your text here". All you have to do is click in the box and start typing. You can also change the color of the text you add. I played around with lime green and neon purple, but decided a golden orange color looked best with the color of the house. 

Obviously I didn't want it to say "Happy Halloween" right smack dab in the middle of my photo, so I simply was able to click and drag the text to the bottom left corner. Much better placement. 


When I was happy with all of the haunting edits I had made, I clicked the "Save" button at the top. 

There you have it! A hauntingly spooktacular Halloween card. 


Now, there are several more perfectly ghoulish Halloween edits available on PicMonkey. Play around with your own photo until you come up with something that is equally as frightening as this greeting! 

Happy Halloween!   

10.10.2012

Simple Fall Decorating

Today has been a crazy day, but I was determined to do a little bit of decorating for fall. 

In our new apartment I don't have as much space to spread out my holiday wares. I have secretly already panicked a little bit about where all of my usual Christmas decorations are going to be hung. Somehow I am unsure that 3 totes worth of decorations, plus a Christmas tree is all going to fit in here. Going from a 1,200 square foot house to a 900 square foot apartment isn't that big of a downgrade in space is it? (I keep telling myself that, hoping that my brain will let it stick.)

Anyway, the best spot for me to spread out all of my fall decorations is here. 


This is an area that is part of our small dining space. This buffet table doubles as our entry table as well, so you will have to over look the basket on the left that holds our keys and other odds and ends from Kyle's pockets. Hey, just trying to keep it real here! You might remember some of the things you see in this photo from the fall decorating I did last year.

Speaking of last fall, here are some of my decorating posts from 2011 that you might enjoy reading.





I made the garland you see hanging on the shelf. You can find a tutorial on how to make your own here:


That's all for today! 
Thanks for reading. 

P.S. The lighting in this apartment can be challenging. We have windows on only one side; the other we share with our neighbors. Sigh. Please excuse the shadowy pictures until I am able to figure out all of the cool settings on my camera to fix this problem. Thanks! 

10.09.2012

Haunted Halloween Wreath


October, November, and December are my favorite months of the year. 
There are so many crafty things to do during these holiday months. 

One of the crafty things that I love to make are wreaths


I especially love wreaths that are easy to make and are inexpensive. With a new baby and a small tiny budget, both of these things are a must. 

This wreath took me about 15 minutes to make, and costed me around $9 to put together! 

Let me share with you how to make this Haunted Halloween Wreath!



Supplies: 
- 1 straw wreath form (Hobby Lobby, about $4)
- 3 black garlands with purple ghosts (Dollar Tree, $3)
- 1 black felt haunted house (Dollar Tree, $1)
- 1 black and silver spider (Dollar Tree, $1)
- hot glue gun


This wreath is so easy, you can't mess it up! 

First, secure the end of one of the garlands to the straw wreath form with hot glue. 


Wrap the garland around the wreath form just like you would if you were making a yarn wrapped wreath


When you come to the end of the garland, secure it to the wreath with hot glue. Then start the next garland the same way. Make sure that you are spacing out the garland enough that it will cover the whole wreath. It only took 3 garlands for me to cover this wreath, but I was pretty liberal with my spacing. 

When I got finished wrapping my wreath, I had a small gap. I decided that this would be the place I would glue the spider, so I added some black ribbon there to cover the straw that you could see. 


Next, I laid the haunted house on top of the wreath and adjusted it until I liked its position. I wanted the spider to be down low on the wreath, so I kept that in mind knowing that the spider was going to be where the black ribbon was. Using hot glue, I secured the haunted house. 


I kind of like it just without the spider, but since I already had him... 


I hot glued him on! 

Quick. Easy. Simple. 
Just what a crafty new mommy needs a project to be!

Quick tip: The straw wreath form from Hobby Lobby comes covered in plastic wrap. DO NOT take the plastic wrap off if you would not like straw all over the place. Just a heads-up. Not like I would know from experience or anything. :)

Thanks for reading.



I'm linking up!

homework

10.03.2012

15 Must Have Baby Things (Plus One)


This is the only way our baby girl will sleep for any extended period of time! 
What makes it a must: 
Plugs in to the wall outlet, so less batteries are used. 
Multiple song options.
Swings two directions with a swivel base.
Base detaches to be used as a sleeper seat.

Bouncing on this yoga ball helps babies drift off to sleep. When rocking doesn't work, bouncing always does the trick. 
What makes it a must:
It's always good to have a Plan B. 

White noise mimics the sound that your baby hears while in the womb. 
What makes it a must: 
Free. 
A great way to help sooth a crying baby.
Keeps your baby sleeping soundly, longer.

These are so cute and comfy! 
What makes it a must:
Affordable. Carter's is a brand that is carried by Wal-Mart.
Zipper access when changing diapers in the middle of the night reduces screaming at the changing table. 

A tried and true brand, recommended by experienced mothers.
What makes it a must:
Much better than the "butt paste" brand.
Every baby gets diaper rash at some point. Period. 

Such a great alternative for parents who what to cloth diaper without the mess.
What makes it a must:
Two words: 
Flushable Inserts.

Most babies are comforted by being swaddled because it mimics the way they felt in the womb.
What makes it a must:
Velcro makes it quick and easy. 
No wrapping around, and around, and around. 

In case you have a summer baby, these are much more light weight than the Velcro kind.
What makes it a must: 
Light, airy, great all around blanket option. 

Every baby gets gas, especially those who have allergies, or just straight up colic.
What makes it a must:
You gotta try something! These drops have saved us many nights of restless sleep.

These pacifiers are the only kind that our little one will take. 
What makes it a must:
Low profile for little noses. 
The nipple mimics the real deal. 

I don't know if I could nurse without one of these. 
What makes it a must:
During marathon feedings, your arms get tired of holding up even the smallest of babies. 
If you accidentally fall asleep while nursing in the middle of the night, you have a little bit of piece of mind. (Trust me. This really happens.)

Sore Nipples. Enough said.
What makes it a must:
Do you think sore nipples sounds like fun?

The sweet lactation consultant at the hospital gave me these for when I started the marathon feeding. I'm not making "marathon feeding" up. They call it that for a reason. Maybe it's because babies want to nurse about EVERY HOUR at some point around day 3 or 4 after they are born. Sounds like a marathon to me.
What makes it a must:
Do I need to repeat the word MARATHON? 
I would have died with out a few sets of these. 

This carrier is great for mommies who what to do some baby wearing while their little ones are still newborns.
What makes it a must:
You can do anything while wearing your baby in a Moby Wrap. 
High needs babies, otherwise known as the "snugglers", love these things.

Most comfortable nursing braon the face of the Earth.
What makes it a must:
Easy on sore nipples. 
Comfortable to sleep in. 
Substantial enough to wear out of the house.

Plus One More...

A little on the expensive side, but well worth your money.
What makes it a must:
Easy in and out car seat with base that stays installed in your car.
Car seat sits in the stroller while they are little so you can still do some easy shopping, even with a newborn. 
The stroller is amazing complete with two cup holders and a place for your sunglasses and phone. 
You can literally fold the stroller out, or fold it to put it away, with ONE HAND!

Mommies out there, what would you add to the list? 

10.02.2012

6 Tips for New Mommies


Being a new mommy is wonderful. 

Most of the time. 

Sometimes being a new mommy is down right exhausting. 
Sometimes you feel like you are going crazy. 

I wish someone had told me how much work being a new mommy would be. I know. I know. I should have known better.

For example, today I haven't showered. Last night, I slept in our little girl's room because she refused to go back to sleep after her midnight feeding. I just finished eating a snack with one hand. Right now, I'm wearing my pajamas from last night, my hair is piled on the top of my head in a messy bun, and I've got my sweet love snuggled up in her Moby wrap.

Some days this is my life.

Luckily, I have some pretty great friends who aren't afraid of using Facebook messenger at all hours of the night and early morning. 

They. Have. Been. My. Saving. Grace. 

I have learned some things during this first month and a half of mommy-hood that I feel a need, an obligation rather, to share with you future mommies out there. If you are reading this and you are a new mommy yourself, I am sure that you can relate.

6 Tips for New Mommies

1. Realize that you cannot do it all. There are some days that I wake up with a to-do list that takes more minutes to read than there is in the day. Before baby, I might could have gotten at least half of it done. After baby, I'm doing good to complete one or two things. At first this was really hard for me, especially recovering from a c-section, being so limited on what I could do at home as it was. I quickly learned to ask for my husband's help. Get as much help as you can. Ask family and friends to cook, clean, do your laundry, and run errands for you. As a new mommy you will already be exhausted just from taking care of your baby. Anything else that you accomplish will seem like you have just climbed Mt. Everest. 

2. Don't keep track of day and night. Rocking your sweet baby in the middle of the night might sound lovely, but wait until you are sleep deprived and you look at the clock and it reads 3:45 am. I quickly learned that in order to keep my sanity, I had to start thinking about things in terms of commitments. For example, I am committed to eating dinner with my husband at 7:00 tonight, or I have to be at the doctor's office at 1:30. The day seems much more easy going this way, and I feel much less sleep deprived. 

3. Take advantage of all opportunities to take a nap. Currently, I think of my sleeping habits in terms of naps. Today I napped from 2:55 in the morning until 5:55. I napped again from 7:45 until 9:57. Yes. Every minute counts. When my mom and dad are here, I nap. When my husband is home, I nap. You get the idea. 

4. Track your little one's feeding, sleeping, and diaper changes. Start looking for patterns. Over the course of about 2 weeks you will most likely start noticing that you are logging approximately the same times every day. With my little one, not every day is the same, but I have learned that I can count on getting a nap in between the hours of 2:00 am and 5:00 am every morning. I also know that she is going to wake up between 12:30 am and 1:30 am every morning. Figuring these things out has helped me start building a routine, which bring us to the fifth tip. 

5. Build a routine. Now, at a very young age time dictated routines are no good. New babies can't handle them, and you will go crazy trying to get them on a schedule. I'm not talking about a schedule though. I'm just talking about a routine way of doing things. Every time our little one wakes up from a nap, the first thing I do is nurse. Then I burp her and change her diaper. If it's night time, I rock or bounce on a yoga ball with her pacifier in her mouth until she falls asleep. Then we put her in her swing. If it is day-time, we play first and then follow the last steps. After many nights of a fussy baby during diaper changes, we finally found a routine that she responds to. When it stops working, we will try something else.

This last one is going to seem kind of silly.

6. Keep up your personal hygiene and heath. Learn what works best for you to make sure that you get a shower worked into every day and plenty of water and good food in your tummy. Right now, what works for me is to shower at night, go to bed with my hair wet, and rock a pony tail the next day. I make my breakfast at night and store it in a plastic container in the fridge. Whenever baby girl wakes up for her early morning feeding I eat my breakfast. I try to drink a glass of water every time she eats. Keeping healthy snacks around also helps, but I am guilty of grabbing an Oreo or two!

Being a new mommy can be a hard job, but it's the best job in the world.

New mommies out there, what tips would you add to the list?

10.01.2012

Introducing....


On Thursday, August 16, at 9:37 in the morning, this sweet love was born. 

Her birthday story is a little complicated. I plan on writing the whole thing out with details soon. When that day comes, I will add it to the blog so those of you who want to can read it. I have a feeling it will be nothing short of a novel because...

I was in labor for 32 hours. 

32 long hours before I met my baby girl.


I usually get blank stares from other women when I tell them that. Their jaw usually hits the floor.
Apparently 32 hours is a really long time when you are talking about things like road trips, plane rides.... 
oh, and BEING IN LABOR. 

After a very long and difficult labor, an (almost) emergency c-section, 4 nights & 5 days in the hospital, we brought this miracle home.


I still can't believe she's OURS some days.


Being a new mommy definitely has a learning curve all of its own. 

Breastfeeding.
Swaddling.
Diapers.
More diapers.
Marathon feeding. 
Baths.
Crying. 
Screaming.
Rocking. 
Bouncing. 
Constant white noise. 
Swinging.

And that's just learning how to take care of a newborn baby!
You also have to learn how to manage some time (even if it's just a few minutes) for yourself!

But isn't she sweet.


Thanks for letting me brag on her a bit.









9.30.2012

Let's Change Things Up a Bit


After an extremely long hiatus, I would like to announce that I am back for good. Being gone for an entire pregnancy, birth, and first month of our darling daughter's life, I can say I miss the blogging community. I am back with my feet more firmly planted, and with a renewed sense of purpose.


Life is constantly bringing us change. I guess that is what truly living is all about though. Without change in our lives we become stagnant like gnats in swarms on a hot summer day in the south, confused about where to go and what to do. So, we frantically keep doing what we've always done hoping that when we are old and gray that we will look back upon our life with a smile. How many of us actually do?

When I started this blog, life for me was starting to get stagnant. I was looking for a way to "liven up a bit". Since then, many life changes have come my way. It's to the point where I feel as though I have to make some changes around here with regards to what I write about, and the person that you see living here.

When I first started Grassroot Elegance, my husband helped me brainstorm the name. I wanted to convey an air of simple, basic, elegance and the beauty that can be had in daily life. I wanted to share with you how to take living back to the simple things in life and how to still feel alive, like the world is a better place because you were in it.

At that time we had simplified things in life to the point where I really felt that this title hit the nail on the head when it came to describing how we were living. It even does more so now. I hope that with this transition that you will be patient and kind. I have much to share, that I hope will bring you joy.

Thanks for reading.


4.17.2012

It's True. I'm Going to Be a Mommy.

The secret's out!





In December, Kyle and I found out that we are expecting our first child! We are so excited and feel so blessed that we are part of one of God's miracles. 

Here is a photo story of sorts showing off my growing baby belly. 


{showing off my new maternity jeans}
{Valentine Party}

{My 26th Birthday}

{At the Nature Reserve}

{Spring Fling Carnival}
{Taking a break from organizing our stuff that is taking over what will be the baby's room. Notice the suitcase in the background.}



Look at how cute that belly is! Tonight as I am typing this, I am sure that I am carrying an acrobat. This baby sure does know how to do a flip!

Uncertain of the challenges that I am sure are on the road ahead of us to parenthood, we are certain of one thing...
We are already IN LOVE with this Little One.

4.09.2012

This Week's Menu Plan

Kyle and I are trying a new food diet. At first glance inside our refrigerator, you would think that we are becoming vegetarians. Good guess, but we still are eating meat- just at dinner, and only 2-3 times a week. Since starting this diet a month ago we have been able to enjoy many different fruits and vegetables, cut the amount of our grocery bill, save time planning our weekly menus, and just feel better in general.


Here's what is on our menu for this week-

Breakfast


Lunch

  • Tomato Rice with Red Beans
  • Black Bean & Rice Burritos

Dinner

Snacks/Dessert


After we have tried this new way of eating for a few more weeks, I will write a post to update you on how we like it. So far, we are big fans! 

See you tomorrow! 

4.08.2012

He is Risen

In celebration of Easter and the resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ, I want to share this video with you.


Here is another great video that testifies of the Savior's love of each of us, and that He still lives even today. 


May we remember Him on this sacred day. 


Happy Easter


4.07.2012

Let's Catch Up: We Went Camping & Discovered Mountain View Bluegrass Nights

During the first weekend of Spring Break, Kyle and I and a few of our new closest friends went camping in Heber Springs. The weather was perfect, cool in the mornings and warm in the evenings, a gentle breeze constantly passing through. We went fishing, did some reading, spent lots of time around our campfire, and most of all enjoyed each other's company. The company was the best part. We have really been blessed with such sweet relationships with our new friends that were made after our move. They have truly been a blessing in our life here.






On Saturday night, we took a drive to the nearby, well-kept secret small town of Mountain View. Every weekend in the spring and summer they have bluegrass jam sessions all around the town square. People just bring their chairs and sit around and chat while a group of country men, born and raised, pick and grin on their banjos and guitars. Some play the fiddle. 



We decided that this would not be our last trip to Mountain View- this little town has so much charm. Being a small town southern girl myself, I really felt at home. There's something about how the night sky looks in a small town, with the stars blazing in the black sky. Without the glow of city lights, you can get lost in the diamonds that dot the sky. The nighttime air in a small town is crisp and cool, and when it touches your skin you feel alive. You know that you are in a small town when the power lines run above the ground on stilted poles, everyone that you meet smiles at you, and military men get silent salutes from complete strangers.





Now after our trip, we are still trying to figure out a place to put all of our camping gear in our tiny apartment. We decided that we are going to want to use it too much in the spring and summer months for it to be stored at my parent's house. That is one my goals for today, to try to find a place to put all of this stuff: the tent, our red folding chairs, the dutch oven, and multiple other things. Wish me luck.

Thanks for catching up with me this week! Next week I have one more surprise to share with you!

4.05.2012

Let's Catch Up: Our House Sold

After being on the market for almost 4 months, I was shocked when our real estate agent called to tell us that not only did she have an offer on our house to deliver to us, but that she had TWO. Two offers on the table. The best one for our picking. I couldn't believe it.

It all happened so quickly that it is still somewhat all a blur. Within 24 hours we had accepted an offer for our full asking price, a mere $3,000 in closing costs paid, plus the costs of any repairs needing to be made to the house not to exceed $500. I seriously thought I was dreaming. It was the perfect scenario. A true blessing from our Heavenly Father. We couldn't have asked for more.

On March 15, this little beauty became home to another young happy couple, ready to build memories within its walls.



I thought when we sold the house that I was going to be an emotional train wreck. It was the first house we lived in together. We spent birthdays, anniversaries, two Christmastimes, and countless other special days here. I have to say, I didn't shed a tear. On the day that we signed the closing paperwork, I couldn't help being happy and smiling knowing that I can have faith in our Heavenly Father, faith in His timing, and faith enough to know that He will continually take care of us.

A few months ago we made the decision to start a new chapter in our life. Often times in life when things don't seem to go exactly as planned we immediately begin doubt our choices, question our plans, and even have thoughts of failure. At first with all of the problems we were having with our apartment situation, I was unsure if we had made the right decision to say the least. With the selling of our house, and the blessings that continue to come each day, I am now sure that we are on the right path.

I'm not sure how life could get much more sweeter.