It's Clear to See

Once upon a time I had a clear umbrella.  I loved it, it was genius!  It was genius because I could get under it and see right through it.  I stayed dryer and I didn't crash into things.  The bubble shape allowed me to hold my toddler and his school things in the rain while the umbrella rested on my head, ha!  Also, I never felt like I was going to poke some one's eye out, the points all faced downward and the shape was pretty narrow.  So, when it's raining, it's clear to see the bubble umbrella solves a lot of (minor) problems, tell it to your neighbor!  And I think the Duchess of Cambridge would agree:

So, I lost my clear umbrella and I've got (minor) issues again.  It's been raining for days and Houston is fresh out of umbrellas all together.   I went to 4 stores today, 2 were Targets, and no umbrellas!  Isn't that funny?!  Here are my hilarious annoyances with my old umbrella:

Watch out for the car!
My sister ducking to see me under the umbrella.
Multi-tasking in the rain trying not to get wet.  Do I really make this face?
So after shopping Houston for an umbrella with no luck, I came home and found a great world of clear bubble umbrellas out there!  Here are some of my favorites:
1. Kate Spade   |   2. Hunter   |   3. Felix Rey   |   4. Kate Spade   |   5. Hunter

I think this one from Country Attire might be my favorite of the day, navy black with antlers, it reminds me of my master bedroom!:

If you like the idea of the clear umbrella but you don't want decoration, check out this simple one I found from UO:

And last but not least, these adorable Stella McCartney Kids umbrellas are on sale from Zappos.com, pricey but a cute idea!:

I've just decided to get the Kate Spade Rain Check umbrella.  I like the price and I can order it from Nordstrom with free shipping!  Can't wait to stay dry and avoid crashing!

One last thing, I have a Wellies & Bubbles pin board, so I'll be pinning more fun umbrellas or pictures of princesses under umbrellas. :)


Fall Feather Wreath

Thanksgiving is pretty much here and I wanted to make a fall wreath before we bring out the red and green.  So I unwrapped these beautiful Pheasant feathers Joseph brought home from a hunting trip and they were a little stinky.

Luckily I called my taxidermist friend from high school, Travis, with Travis Manning Custom Taxidermy and he kindly gave me some professional advice.  I gave these feathers a bath in Anti-bacterial Dawn dish washing soap and made sure to remove all the disgusting stuff off the quill.  Then I repeated until the water rinsed clear.

The feathers took a while to dry.  Travis said not to use a hot blow dryer so I was using the cool setting until I realized it was like watching a pot boil.  Then I just had to leave them under the fan for the afternoon.  The feathers were finally dry after my kids were in bed and I got to work.

I wanted to make a modern wreath like the paper straw wreath I had seen on the cover of a magazine in the grocery line, like a star burst.  So all I needed was hot glue, 2 six inch craft rings and manila rope from Home Depot.  I just wanted to sandwich the feathers between the two rings with hot glue, so I spaced out the feathers on top of the first ring:

Then I put a thick ring of hot glue on the quills and added the top part of the sandwich:

Next, I trimmed the quills so there would be a hole in the center:

Last, I covered the top ring with the manila rope.  Hot glue worked great:

I used a self-adhesive sawtooth hanger on the back ring, then ran a ribbon through it and hung it on the door!

These photos will gradually bring you closer to the wreath.

Modern Feather Wreath

Pheasant Feather Wreath

I'm ready to bring this Modern Pheasant Feather Star Burst Wreath inside and hang it on the wall!  If only I had more wall space for art.

Fall Feather Wreath


A Nod to The Nod

It's hard to know whether or not pre-blog I would have rushed to the Houston Galleria on a Friday morning in hopes of being one of one hundred in line for the opening of the new Land of Nod pop-up Toy Shop.  This blog has me entering contests and challenges like I've always wanted to do!  But in the case of this Toy Shop I know pre-blog I would have been there for the chance to win $500 to my all-time favorite toy catalog!  Well we didn't win, but it was well worth the rush for the swag bag and VIP card (15% off purchases (even toy orders with free shipping) in the shop till it closes at the end of January), tell it to your neighbor!  Here's my big boy, his favorite thing was the catalog they gave us:

After waiting in line for a seriously quick 45 minutes, we got to check out the store!  I was in toy heaven!  They had everything from stocking stuffers to big ticket toys and from holiday decorations to baby onesies.  I thought it was a perfectly curated selection, not too much to overwhelm but enough of a selection to choose per age or personality.  Here are some toys that stood out to me, and I'm realizing most are "Nod Exclusive":

I can see the Super Heros and Princesses playing well here together!

Our last jar lasted 2 years and it is one of my favorite gifts we've ever 
given our kids, scissors and glue included!

This set opens up to have markers on both sides, 60 washable markers total!

Adorable!  They had a peacock and a shark costume.
Who doesn't love to play shark?  DUN DUN!

It's nice to see a few new cute and creative wooden puzzles for the toddlers!  
They had giraffe, fox and sea creatures puzzles.

This is a big box!  This might be 
a splurge for our future grand kids, heirloom quality blocks!

Finally a hat for the boys to color and decorate!

I brought this home and couldn't hide it till Christmas.
They've been fighting over it since Friday!

I took home a few more things for a birthday party and an awesome weighted bowling set that I hopefully can keep hidden until the 25th, that will be hard to do on a rainy day!  And all of these toys are going onto my Kiddo Wish List board on Pinterest.  It will help Santa make decisions. :)  Also,  check out the best part of our swag bag, a Maptote Texas print, they sell it on a onesie as well!:

So if you're in Houston, the pop-up shop is on the second floor next to Nordstrom in the Galleria.  Other Nod Toy Shops have popped up in Denver, CO, Chestnut Hill, MA and will be in King of Prussia, PA and Schaumburg, IL.  For the rest of the US, thank goodness for $4.95 Flat Fee shipping!


Nutcracker Ready

This is what "Nutcracker Ready" looks like for me.
Most everything still stands in my original Crash Course on Nutcracker from last year but I do have a few updates so I thought I'd do a quick post.  This post is for anyone heading to The Nutcracker Market in Houston over the next 4 days.  Here's a quick checklist of what to bring:

  1. Parking permit for Reliant if you're a volunteer for the HLSR.
  2. Discounted ticket from Randall's to avoid the long line.
  3. Cash and a budget.
  4. Pain Reliever. :)
If you're a fanatic like me, I found a map on the Nutcracker website that has all the names of the merchants on the map.  Usually the map included in the program doesn't include the names on the map, only numbers.  I think I might even print this map so I can mark it and share the good booths with y'all!  Here's a link to the map if you want to make a plan of attack:  Nutcracker Merchants

Last year I didn't have pics of the Cafe and I wasn't even sure if it would be back.  This year it's on the map so I'm sharing pics from last year!  This is one of my favorite parts of the market, taking a real break and eating lunch here is worth it!  It helps you slow down and get re-energized.  The iced tea is fresh, the food is good and this makes the Nutcracker even more momentous!

The last thing I wanted to update was our Show and Tell.  Last year we got started late so we didn't do our usual presentations.  Instead we displayed our goods in random order so the guys wouldn't know who bought what and they could look over everything at once and discuss awards.  Ha!

Then they presented awards to us.  I've said before, it's crazy dorky fun!  Seriously, you've got to add this to your Nutcracker tradition, tell it to your neighbor!

I'm so excited because waiting at will call is the 4 day early shopping pass!  I'll be there Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and I'll be Instagramming along they way!  I'll do my best to share the best as we go!  Have fun, see you there!


Step It Up!

A friend of mine from high school emailed me because she needs help spreading the word about a unique restroom fixture I can appreciate.  This fixture helps all little people simply reach the sink and wash their hands.  I can appreciate this fixture for 2 reasons.  1.  In my former career I was designing office spaces and public spaces (like restrooms) to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  2.  I have small children I lift up to help wash their hands, they would rather do it "by myself!" but I'm trying to avoid the leftover soapy water from getting all over their clothes.

My friend, Chrissy Bernal, has a different perspective.  Her beautiful 14 year old daughter, Sienna, is a Primordial Dwarf.   Sienna is also a twin with her sister Seirra and I think they are the only pair in the world where one is a primordial dwarf, amazing!  Their mom has made me more aware of how public restrooms might be accessible to a wheelchair or a blind person but not to a little person, the soap, the faucet, etc.  Chrissy is single handedly changing this by asking businesses to install the Step 'n Wash for all the Little People of America.

The Step 'n Wash is installed onto the floor and the stool flips up when not in use, genius, tell it to your neighbor!  Do you recognize the sink in the picture below?  That's Nordstrom, they do everything right in my book!

If you're a business owner please install this in your public restroom!  All little people and parents with small children will be a super fan of yours forever!

If you're just like me, please show your support by liking Chrissy's Equal Restroom Access for Little People facebook page.  Strength is in numbers and she can show businesses how many of us value this need.  Please also forward this post to the people you know who could make a difference in the restroom, business owners, designers, architects, facilities managers...  Does anyone have a personal contact at IKEA?  Here's a funny picture of my personal experience there:

Is he going to kill me one day for posting this picture?


Numbered Cake Sparklers

What could be more festive than sparklers for a birthday celebration?  Nothing!  The above picture is from my birthday last year.  Cotton candy and a sparkler will make anybody happy!  It's a fun tradition at these Houston restaurants.

So this year when I was picking up my birthday gift to myself, a Nothing Bundt Cake, I saw these awesome numbered mini-sparklers for the top of a cake!  My daughter begged me to get them so I got a #3 and #6.  36, that's upper 30s folks!

The kids loved it!  And that's who these sparklers were actually for this birthday. :)

The Mini Gold Sparklers are by Tops Malibu and in addition to the numbers they have shapes, a mini heart and a big star.  So we surprised our daughter this past weekend with a #6 and a heart sparkler for her 6th birthday.  She thought it was pretty fantastic!

I've only seen these mini sparklers at the Nothing Bundt Cakes store.  Here they are online:  Mini Gold Sparklers 4".  If you've seen them anywhere else, please share!