Thursday, November 27, 2014

Hope you all had a beautiful Thanksgiving!

I've been working hard to stock the Brighter Day shop in time for this weekend's sales with plenty of "ready to ship" items and several things that are brand new (hello, wallets!).

Here are some of my favorites...
Earrings - some of my favorite stocking stuffers
Baby girl headbands
Art prints & canvases
And, of course, lots of clutches and handbags
Also, for the DIY types (raising hand!), all of my sewing patterns are also included in the sale. Even if you're just a beginner sewer, all of the patterns include a very thorough tutorial with lots of photos to help you along. Buy one pattern and make lots of bags for all of your friends this Christmas. Just a thought. :)

Here are the sales...
Black Friday: 25% off everything in the store with coupon code BLACKFRIDAY
Small Business Saturday: 20% off everything in the store with coupon code SMALLBUSINESS
Cyber Monday: 15% off everything in the store with coupon code CYBERMONDAY15

To use the coupon codes, just visit the shop, add the item(s) to your cart, and there's a place on the final page before you click "proceed to checkout" to enter the coupon code and apply it to your purchase.
I'll also be adding a few more ready-to-ship baby headbands and jewelry pieces throughout the day on Friday, so keep checking back!

(P.S. - The Black Friday sale starts now, so happy shopping!)


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

We're close to finishing up what has been the most humbling, stretching year of our lives. It involved what felt like constant upheaval and near-constant struggle. But, by God's grace alone, we have come through stronger as a family and in our faith. So we're grateful for 2014. And I don't say that flippantly, because there were certainly times I wish we could've skipped it by. We would've missed so many blessings, though. Blessings that now hang on little cards on our table as reminders of His faithfulness.

So about our thankful tree. It isn't a new idea, but it's a new tradition for us. I gathered some sticks from our yard, put them in a vase, and cut little pieces of card stock (1" x 2") and hung them onto the tree. (I added some gold washi tape to a few just for fun.) Even Liam contributed a few. I know it's the day before Thanksgiving, but this was such an easy project and would be so sweet to do on Thanksgiving day with kids. I love being visually reminded every time I walk past that we have so much to be thankful for, and not just on one day of the year.

Also, let me just say, I'm so thankful for you. Many of you have read along for several years now and have cheered us on from afar with your prayers, your encouraging emails, and just your presence in this little space. Thank you. I hope tomorrow is a sweet, sacred celebration with people you love.
PS - I'll be back bright and early Friday morning to announce some big Black Friday and Small Business Saturday sales in my Brighter Day shop! See you then.

A mini-DIY: A basket makeover.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Writing the title for this post made me laugh. A basket makeover? You're all probably thinking, "Who has time to makeover a basket?!" But such are the joys of nesting! I find myself doing little (conquerable) projects that I normally would never take the time for. Thankfully, this one cost $0 and took less than an hour of hands-on time. 

Baby Girl Newby's room is also our guest room, so I've wanted it to be on the more gender-neutral side of things. A friend gave me a carload of baby girl items that included this basket. I thought the basket shape and size was perfect, but the colors didn't go with the palette I'm trying to stick with. I really love April Rhodes' Arizona fabric line and am drawing heavily on these colors and patterns for her nursery. When I had some extra navy blue fabric from this line (called Tomahawk Stripe in Night), I thought it would be perfect for this project. 
 So first, I took a seam ripper to the basket liner and pulled the pieces apart. I ironed each of the three pieces quickly and placed them on top of the fabric I wanted to use, trimming the new fabric in the same shape. If you're new to sewing, it would be helpful to take some notes or even take pictures of how the fabric is sewn together. For example, if you're being extra precise, I would rip out all  of the seams (even hems) and not just most of them, like I did. I was going a little quicker so I just left an extra seam allowance for where I knew it would need to be folded over and sewn, and it worked out just fine.
For the ties, I had some navy double-fold bias tape on hand, which saved quite a bit of time. I just sewed along the open edge of the binding to create the ties. I also took a shortcut in choosing not to surge or sew a zig-zag on the raw edges, but used pinking shears to make sure it wouldn't unravel. I don't picture washing this liner often, so I think that will be more than sufficient.

For the basket, I used a can of white primer spray paint to coat it twice. Now that I'm looking at the finished product, I may end up painting it with a dark brown (and using the basket in Liam's room instead), but I'm happy with the transformation for now. Free projects and quick projects are two of my favorite kinds, and when they come together, it feels satisfying.

Obviously, making over a basket will look different for every size and shape basket, but I know there are tons of super cheap baskets at Goodwill with worn out linings that could be easily updated. So I hope this is helpful and inspiring to you!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

It's Throwback Thursday in social media land, so I thought I'd add a throwback blog post that should've been posted months ago. Better late than never.

When our little family traveled to Germany this summer, we knew we wanted to keep our European travels pretty limited (traveling while pregnant and with a toddler isn't the easiest), but Shawn really wanted me to see Basel, Switzerland. He attended boarding school for high school not far away, so it was a special place for him and just a gorgeous place to visit.

Basel (pronounced BAH-zuhl, not like the spice) is just a train ride away from where Shawn's parents live in the Black Forest of Germany, so "Baba" and "Suzu" were gracious enough to spend the day with Liam while Shawn and I snuck away. You know, to Switzerland. I'm still pinching myself.

Switzerland - and Basel specifically - feels much more international than the small town where we stayed in Germany, so it was easy to get around (for me, who doesn't speak German) and we saw so much diversity. We met up with a good friend of Shawn's for lunch, walked over the bridge that separates Germany from Switzerland to see both sides of the border, and had chocolates and tea at kaffeetrinken ("coffee drinking time"). It drizzled rain for most of the day, but we didn't care. Having a date day to explore a very old, very beautiful European city just couldn't be topped.

Vet On Demand.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

You know those people who are just natural-born entrepreneurs? The kind that are constantly dreaming up new ideas and making them happen? That's my buddy, Mason. He and his wife, Ashlyne, are two of our dearest friends and some of Liam's biggest cheerleaders.

Mason and his brother, Curt, have been been running their family business, Jonathan's Grille, for several years now and it was recently named one of CNN's Top 101 Sports Bars in America. But as if they haven't achieved enough success in the restaurant business, they've now entered a totally new field: veterinary medicine.

Vet On Demand is an app marketplace that allows dog and cat owners to video conference with licensed veterinarians for $2.50 per minute. The vets are able to help with common health issues such as a pet not eating, limping, skin issues, weight issues, or other behavioral problems, which reduces time and cost for the owner. Also, people who are traveling or have recently relocated can get the care that they need when they need it.

If you want to know more about it, visit here and sign up for early access, which will let you know when the service becomes available in your area. I'm excited to see how this new concept, which aims to increase business of brick and mortar vet offices (by connecting owners with local vets, when possible) as well as increase business for vets online, really takes off. I have no doubt it will.

This is a sponsored post, but all the opinions shared are my own. Thanks for supporting the businesses that make Elm Street Life possible!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

If we're talking about lately lately, like in the last 15 minutes, I just sent Shawn a text that said, "I can't believe my life looks like this: ordering child harnesses and wiping poop off of necks." Life with a two-year-old is a never-ending adventure, but that's not what this post is about (you can thank me later). 
Liam turned two at the end of October and I still can't believe it. I'm a big believer in keeping birthday celebrations low-key at this age, and the fact that my parents were in town was celebration enough. When I thought about it, I realized that my Mom and Dad have gotten to see Liam on 3 out of his 3 birthdays even when, for two out of the three, we've lived in different cities. What a gift.

Liam's big present was a train set from Mimi and Poppy. I'd been scouring Craigslist for weeks for a train table that was in good shape when Shawn was approached by a lady at church who asked him, "Would you guys be interested in a train table?" He thought she had talked to me already, but she said, "No, I don't know your wife - I just knew you had a little boy and we were looking to give ours away." God loves us so specifically. We hauled it home, Shawn painted the top, and set up the train set on top. Liam is still in awe of it, and it was the perfect gift that keeps on giving. We also had a mini-party with family and a few friends who are like family. We dined on apple crisp, forgot to blow out any candles, opened a few presents, and concluded a very overstimulating day with an inaugural 2-year-old meltdown. Still, Liam felt so celebrated and loved by some of his very favorite people, and we couldn't ask for more than that.
The night after Liam's birthday, our baby girl got "sprinkled." My dear friends from church told me they wanted to throw a "baby sprinkle" in lieu of a "shower" because we already had the major baby items, but in reality, it felt more like a deluge of love and support and gifts. Our Raleigh church community has loved us so lavishly and so sacrificially that it's hard to imagine all the years we spent without being so closely knit to a group of believers. They had the idea of putting their fingerprints on a tree-painted canvases for her room, and I can't imagine a more fitting gift. Their fingerprints are already touching our lives so powerfully, and little No-Name-Yet Newby is so fortunate to be touched by them as well. They also printed out prayer request cards that outline specific needs for the coming months, and it's been so encouraging for these women to already tell me that they've been praying for us regularly. We need every prayer. Also, she's going to be one well-dressed Southern lady with all the smocked dresses and bows she received.
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