Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Rap Sheet (The Week's Best in Looks, Books, Nooks, and More)

Here's what caught our eye this week at the Nest. Have a great weekend!! A/J

My sister-in-law bought this blanket from J.C. Penney for my mom for Christmas and my oldest is obsessed with it. So, I had to go and buy one for our house. It is selling online for $47.99, but I bought it today in the store for $14.99. And it is absolute perfection in a throw. Snuggly. Heavy but feather-light. The perfect napping blanket. You should buy one. Now.

This song, it just doesn't get old for me. Listen to it. It's amazing.

They're back. Bigger and better than ever. And I will have a pair before next fall.

My favorite quote of the week. #grimmwisdom I've decided to read every single Grimm fairy tale again. Every single one. Stay tuned for the Grimm Project.

This bit about why three is so much worse than two, from Jill AKA The Scary Mommy, is so totally true. I know it is true because I'm living it (see crocodile tears above).

These illustrations of fairy tales from the 1920s, many of which feature the absence of color, are visually stunning. Enjoy!!
Potato-chip Cookies. Need I say more??
I really enjoyed this woman's skewering of Gwyneth Paltrow and her "conscious uncoupling" in the New York Post. Maybe that makes me a bad person, but if feeling that way is wrong, I don't wanna be right.
Also, don't forget our Eden Gray Giveaway still running at the blog until March 31. This is the print for the children's skirt we are offering up (it's so cute, I think I want one for myself!!). You can also stop back and tweet again every day for more entries. Rack 'em up!! Jess

The Process That Is Confidence (Or Just Keep Swimming)

My first swim in the Monongahela River. I remember the water being cold. And the river being gigantic. But my mom, as always, was right by my side. (Please note, also, how gorgeous she still manages to look after swimming in the RIVER. Not fair).
Our charge today in the Mom Boot Camp I'm participating in is to ruminate on the concept of confidence. More particularly, how confident we are as mothers and as women. So, I thought I would also share my thoughts here.

As I get older, I grow more and more confident; I really like the person I am today. I've generally been a fairly confident person ever since I was a kid, but there have been several stages along the way when that confidence has been severely shaken (I tend to think of my life illustrated by children's books; if we're talking confidence, I think of Dr. Seuss's Oh, The Places You'll Go. Some days you're up, and others, you are among the lowest of the low ... in a very gray way).

Becoming a mother for the first time really shook my tree. When I was pregnant with my first daughter, Maggie, almost ten years ago, I had this idea of how everything was supposed to go - I was going to breastfeed exclusively, no pacifiers, be back in shape in a snap ... all of those beautiful images newly pregnant moms string together when we imagine maternity in rosy hues straight out of a Pottery Barn catalog. The first wake-up call was the process of birth itself. I just could not have comprehended how physically traumatic having a child emerge from one's body actually could be; yes, it was exhilarating, but it also stepped way over the line in terms of my definition of privacy ... and pain.

Then, to top it all off, breastfeeding a very hungry, nearly 11-pound newborn also turned out to be excruciatingly painful (no one warned me about that:(), exhausting (or that), and frustrating (or that). The breast-feeding coaches recommended by the hospital were very unhelpful and seemed, at least to my muzzled brain at the time, to blame everything on me, from the shape of my boobs, my body's "ability to handle pain," to my anxiety (I do think the way these women phrased things and manhandled by body didn't help). My hormones were completely out of whack, and that, combined with sleep-deprivation, led to me crying 24/7. I mean non-stop sobbing. My husband and mother (who was staying with us) were very worried about me. One night, about 2 am when my mom and I were sitting there staring at this beautiful little girl who was howling in hunger and frustration herself, my mom took my tear-lined face in her hands, looked me dead in the eyes, and said, "I'm making this baby a bottle. No one will judge you for it, and if they do, you don't want them in your life anyway." My mom's wisdom helped me to realize, in the dread of that moment that I was completely f*ing everything up, that there is no such thing as "The Perfect Mom." There's just you doing the best you can with the situation you find yourself in.

So, confidence. Confidence comes with learning to be comfortable in your own skin, through facing difficult situations. It also comes from learning to accept help when you need it. Some people have more wisdom than you; they can help you come out the other side, perhaps a little bruised and battered, but alive. I also have learned to try, consciously, not to compare myself to anyone else, or to judge other people because I think they're failing. You never know what's going on behind closed doors;). A/J
Also, don't forget our Eden Gray Giveaway still running at the blog until March 31. This is the print for the children's skirt we are offering up (it's so cute, I think I want one for myself!!). You can also stop back and tweet again every day for more entries. Rack 'em up!! Jess

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Welcome, New Friends!!

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood:)). We've had a lot of new friends join up at the blog this week. So, I thought I would go back and share some of my favorite posts from the last few months to introduce ourselves to the new members of our posse. Happy reading!! We are so happy to have you here:)). Welcome to the Nest!! A/J

Why You Should Hold Your Own "I Love You Day"
Technically, this one's an old one. But it's a good one. Why I Hate the Elf on the Shelf. If you love him, please avoid this one.

Two Roads Diverged in a Wood: I Took The One Most Traveled (Or How I Completely Screwed Up)

Roasted Avocado =s a Revelation

Our Stairs. Which Have Something to Say. Ahem.

Why You Should Read The Book Thief

Why I Love Teaching Little Red Riding Hood

Our post on the pitfalls of perfectionism: "Confessions of a Perfectionist."

Monday, March 24, 2014

Water-Marble Nails

by (Guest-Owl) Kaitlin McCracken

Water-marbled nails have always been something that my sister, Marissa, and I had wanted to try. Pinterest had given us the inspiration, but every time we would look at the pictures, I thought that it would be extremely difficult and very messy. All of the nails in the pictures were perfect and pretty. I never thought that Marissa and I would be able to make them look that nice, so I just continued to paint my nails with only one color. One day, however, Marissa brought me a video of how to do water-marbled nails. Within one day, I was able to paint my nails the way that I had dreamed of doing.

The first few videos we watched were very basic, so we tried the methods they suggested first. We got a cup of tap water and gathered a few nail polish colors. I dipped the brush in the polish and then dipped it into the water. This technique never worked and only made the brush very wet, which then had to be dried so it would not ruin the nail polish. Another thing that I noticed was that if I was able to get a drop of nail polish in the water, it would never spread out. It seemed to stay in a clump floating on top of the water. Marissa and I decided to go back to the drawing board. I watched a few more videos with tips in them that seemed like they would solve the problem that we were having.

On the second try, we gathered a small bowl with only a small amount of tap water in it (the deeper the water is the nail polish will just float on the top). We then also bought Sinful Colors Nail Polish, which was the only polish that Marissa and I could get to spread out. We purchased our nail polish at Giant Eagle (local to southwestern Pennsylvania) and Wal-Mart. We then also collected tape, toothpicks, q-tips, and paper towels.

In order for the water-marbling to be successful, it is important to work quickly. I found that if you paint the nail(s) you are water-marbling a solid color first, there will be a color underneath if there ends up being a water bubble that pops or if the whole nail does not get covered. On one of my nails, for example, I ended up having a tiny water bubble on top, but when it went away, there was still color there and my natural nail could not be seen.

After the first coat of polish on your nail(s) dries, cover your finger with tape around the cuticles. This will limit the amount of nail polish remover that must be used after water-marbling your nails. Next, have the nail polish that you are going to use open. Dip the brush in the polish and then hold it above the water. Tapping the top of the brush or slightly shaking it helps to form the drop of polish. Once it falls into the water, get the next color, place it near the center, and do the same. It should spread out. Do this as many times as you would like, and it should make a bull's-eye effect.

Once you are happy, take a toothpick and begin to pull the colors in towards the center. Start near the third line in because it will not have dried. Every time you use the tooth pick, it helps to wipe it off on a paper towel so the colors do not blend together. Once you are satisfied, place your finger nail face-down into the bowl. It is ok to submerge it in the water. Once you do this, take a toothpick and dip it in the water (anywhere in the bowl , swirling it a little gently), which will break the remaining nail polish away from your finger. The excess nail polish will stick together, which is normal. Then, take your finger out and let the polish set for a few seconds before taking the  cuticle tape off. Once the tape is removed, let the nail dry and you can remove any nail polish that got on your finger with a q-tip and nail polish remover. If you wish to do the process again, pour the water out and refill the bowl. Repeat the previous steps.

If you are looking for more neat designs or interesting color combinations, Youtube and Pinterest are also wonderful to look at for more inspiration. Good luck!! Kaitlin
Also, don't forget our Eden Gray Giveaway still running at the blog until March 31. This is the print for the children's skirt we are offering up (it's so cute, I think I want one for myself!!). You can also stop back and tweet again every day for more entries. Rack 'em up!! Jess

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Good Night, Animal World: A Kids' Yoga Bedtime Story

Good Night Animal World Blog Tour - Button Final 

About the Book

Good Night Animal World by Giselle Shardlow

Title: Good Night, Animal World: A Kids Yoga Bedtime Story | Author: Giselle Shardlow | Illustrator: Emily Gedzyk | Publication Date: September 20, 2013 | Publisher: Company: Kids Yoga Stories LLC | Pages: 32 | Recommended Ages: 2.5 to 6 years Summary: Say good night to the animals of the world! Calm your mind and body before bedtime by taking a journey around the world with this kids yoga storybook. Join six Kids Yoga Stories characters as you perch like a bald eagle, crouch like a tiger, and curl up like a sloth. The book includes a list of Kids Yoga Poses and a Parent Guide with tips on creating a successful bedtime experience. Learn something new, explore movement, and unwind together before bedtime!


Our Review from The Owl's Skull: We absolutely adore this book!!! If you are a yoga lover and like to engage your kids in a practice that is fun and manageable, you must try it. It's relaxing for both parent and child. My nine-year-old even gets in on the action.

The Buzz

"This book has been so amazing for my 2.5 year old daughter! The illustrations are adorable! She is always so rambunctious at bedtime and this lets her get out some of that excess energy. She loves the book so much that this has been one we read every night. It helps my daughter fall asleep faster which means more time for mom in the evenings." ~ 5 Star Review, cwalt047, Amazon
"Another GREAT book!! I used this book for my kids yoga classes for ages 2-5 years old. After a very active yoga class, we read this book and did the yoga poses before the resting portion of the class. My little yogis loved the pictures and saying Good Night to all of the animals one by one. I played a calming song with some animal noises in the background and we were then able to quiet our minds and bodies for the pose of rest. I think this will become a regular pre-resting story for my classes with this age group. My 5 year old son loves to read this book again and again too! Keep the great books coming!" ~ 5 Star Review, Stacy Daniels - Kids Yoga Teacher, Amazon
"What a delightful book to get young children reading and moving in a wind-down, calming story about saying goodnight to the animals of the world. I am a k-12 Reading Certified teacher who blogs about parenting at The Educator's Spin On It. I am big fan of literacy activities that combine movement and geography in a loving parent / child interaction experience and Good night, Animal World does just that. This book would be a great addition to your book shelf." ~ 5 Star Review, Amanda at The Educators' Spin On It, Amazon

About the Author: Giselle Shardlow

Giselle Shardlow from Kids Yoga Stories

Giselle Shardlow is the author of Kids Yoga Stories. Her yoga-inspired children’s books get children moving, learning, and having fun. Giselle draws from her experiences as a teacher, traveler, yogi, and mom to write the stories found at or on Amazon ( worldwide.    

Book Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Google+


Good Night, Animal World Blog Tour Schedule (2014)

March 10
March 11
March 12
March 13
March 14
March 15
March 16
March 17
March 18
March 19
March 20
March 21
March 22
March 23

* $25 Blog Tour Giveaway *

Amazon 25 gift card Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Contest ends: April 8, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Giselle Shardlow and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. a Rafflecopter giveaway MDBR Book Promotion Services

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Rap Sheet (The Week's Best in Looks, Books, Hooks, and Nooks)

Here's what caught our eye this week at the Nest:). Enjoy!! A/J

We love the instagram account from Wonder Forest. This post with profane calligraphy about sums up our last few weeks;). Oh, and follow her.

Loving this outfit for Spring. Our daffodils nudged up out of the soil today. So exciting!!

These paper dolls from Emily Martin at the Black Apple make us swoon. In fact, everything about her work and her website does just that.

We're really into the band The Devil Makes Three lately. Check them out.
Be sure to swing by our Eden Gray by Klover House post and enter the giveaway for a Nesting Doll children's skirt. Super-cute!!

These "book junkie" pillows from LifeCraftsWhatever. Love.

I could not resist purchasing this edition of the complete Grimm's fairy tales from Barnes and Noble yesterday. There is a foreword by Jane Yolen and all of the illustrations are by Arthur Rackham, making it doubly enticing. Check it out!!
That owl on top of these books shared by Vintage & Anchor? Yeah, that's me.

Eden Gray by Klover House {Giveaway}

From Eden Gray - Shop here!!
Today at the Owl's Skull, we're featuring Eden Gray by Klover House, a handmade clothing company designed to bring boutique quality to comfortable, everyday children's wear. We especially love the sweetness of these clothes, dresses designed to twirl and swirl, aprons and smocks just made for long afternoons of baking with mom or painting the next toddler masterpiece.

Pretty little dresses all in a row, from the Garden Party and Tea and Roses lines.

Custom orders are available. We especially love the "Everyday Princess" dresses that can be created out of fabrics designed to reflect your girl's favorite princess. (I have a feeling that a Cinderella dress is in Sophie's future).

To enter the giveaway for a children's skirt in a vibrant, colorful Matryoshka Doll (Nesting Doll) print (which will run through March 31st), simply work your way through the entries below. Owl's Skull readers can also receive 10% off their Eden Gray order by entering the code OWL10 at checkout. Kristi also blogs at Klover House, a lifestyle blog devoted to food, faith, and family. Stop by and follow along. Her latest post is especially excellent. Happy shopping and reading:))!! A/J

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Giving Away the Baby Clothes

I'm keeping this one. 
My oldest daughter is 9. My youngest is 3 and a half. My husband and I have made the decision that there are no more children in our future. Babies, like puppies, are cute and all, but they are a hell of a lot of work. The most physically taxing years of parenting - those long, sleep-deprived days filled with bottles and diapers and wipes and baby food and chasing around toddlers at party after party - are behind us. We're starting to relish the time we have to sit back and enjoy our kids, watching their personalities grow and change. They're like firecrackers that are changing color and formation mid-flight. It's a glorious thing.

But giving away the baby clothes ... accepting that this is it, that there aren't going to be anymore precious babies that my body somehow miraculously creates ... that is a tough pill to swallow. In the past, every time my eldest daughter moved into a new size, I packed up all of her old clothes and stored them away for our youngest. But now that our youngest is growing like a weed, there's no reason any longer to keep the old clothes, those tiny jackets and little leggings that still smell subtly of Johnson's baby lotion and Dreft. I suppose I should relish all of the new space there will be in the attic. But all I see when I look up there is emptiness, echoes in a place that used to be filled to brimming with things.

Giving away the baby clothes requires that I accept that I am also moving into a new stage, a new phase. Growing older. I suppose this should be liberating. Instead, it kind of feels like losing a limb. Those little baby bodies are the most precious things I've ever held. When they grow, your arms get lighter and your heart gets heavier. A/J

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mom Boot Camp: Day I

Today is day #1 of the Mama Sanity Bootcamp at my friend Betsy's blog BMoore Healthy. I decided to sign myself up for this because I am feeling completely insane as a mother and as a woman at this particular point in my life. My house is a mess; I am spiritually and physically worn down and wrung out. And I figured, why not make a little space in my day for myself and for making myself a better person to live with. I think you can still get on board today, so if you haven't yet, you should. I'm particularly loving the Facebook group and reading all of the posts from other women; it really helps to know you're not the only one struggling to cope with the stressors of life.

Hold on, I think I just fell asleep for a second;). 
Our challenge for the day was to think about and share our top three challenges of being a mother and the three things I'm grateful for. Here's mine:

My top three challenges are:
1. Spending too much time on social media, which makes me unplug from my kids (which is somewhat amusing, because here I am online - I am, however, also on a break at work). I need to cut way back on the time I spend online.
2. Figuring out how to excel in my career while also being a mom who is present, not just physically but mentally (I used to hate when my mom would half-listen to me, and I now find myself doing it to my own kids). I find myself trying to do 9 million things at one time because there is just so much to get done. My work days often start at 7 am and don't end until 10:30-11:00 at night by the time I finish grading papers/reading/writing for the blog, etc. And even then I don't get everything done.
3. Exhaustion. I am always tired. Always. I never get enough rest. My eyes are always bloodshot, to the point where people feel compelled to comment on it (it's really not helpful, people. I know my eyes are always red).

My top three things I'm grateful for:
1. My current job. The schedule is flexible enough that I can work from home certain days and be home with my kids in the summer.
2. Two healthy kids that are out of diapers and sleep like champions. Because that no-sleep/diaper phase royally sucks.
3. Books. I can lose myself in them when everything else gets to be too much.

If you're also a mom struggling to make sense of it all, sign up for Betsy's boot camp. The detes are below:

Cost: Free. Yep, you got it. 
When: March 17 – 28th (we will take the weekend off)
Where: All online via email and Facebook. 
Who: All mamas! My kiddos are little (4 and 1). However, even if your kiddos are in college, you are welcome to join. I am sure you have lots of wisdom to share. 
Feel overwhelmed? Forget who you were before you had kids? Want to feel better in your jeans? Want to have more energy? Crave more time for yourself? Know you should be eating healthier but have no idea where to start?
Sounds awesome right?? Plus you get a recipe via email every day. And Betsy sure knows how to cook:). A/J

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Rat Race

I really enjoyed this bit from NPR this morning, being a working mom who often feels like a rat running ceaselessly upon the wheel, Sisyphus pushing his bolder up the hill, etc. I think the author interviewed here, Brigid Schulte, nails many of the issues we as working mothers (and fathers) face. Let me know what you think. A/J


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Arthur Rackham's Creepy Trees

I was listening to an NPR interview with Guillermo del Toro and he noted that the inspiration for the visual design for the Faun's legs in the film came from the trees of Arthur Rackham, which he described as slightly disturbing.  I knew Rackham's drawings for Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, and I remembered the trees, but only vaguely. So I did some digging. I was so intrigued, I thought I would share them. Here they are, in all their glory. They are creepy indeed. A/J