let it snow

The winner of the photo giveaway is
Melissa P.!
Please email me/message me so we can talk details! 
And remember, if you want to plan for a session before June, "save" a slot with me and you will get it 15% off the normal session fee! 

Yesterday it snowed. And I was so happy. I have always loved the first real snowfall of the season, but haven't had an excuse to go play for awhile. [Not that I really ever needed an excuse: two years ago Brent and I built a pretty mean fort in our front yard complete with a flag and windows and awesomeness.]

But yesterday I made snowangels and snowman the size of a toddler. 

Yesterday I remembered the feeling of cold-worn cheeks and numb fingers, and the awesome sensation of warmth slowly creeping back in as we peeled off layers in the mud room.

Yesterday I wiped sticky hot chocolate fingers of a happy little girl, and remembered the joy of playing in the snow.

Yesterday I also laughed at how ridiculously awesome this old-school snowsuit looked on my daughter, and prayed she wouldn't have to go to the bathroom after we got outside. 

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because girls should learn how to be ladies...

…and because her mom wanted to throw a tea party. 

Back in September Blythe helped me make invitations for all the grandmas in her life and we delivered them. Then she got hand foot and mouth and that party had to be postponed. 

So a couple of weeks ago the rescheduled event happened! I didn't take very many pictures because we were too busy enjoying the company…and the scones!…and the muffins! 

It really was anything but fancy, but we did get to use my tea set that I got as a wedding present from some dear friends who used to play tea party with me when I was Blythe's age.

Blythe made placemats for everyone with crayons and stickers and a very creative spirit.

This is not a great picture, but the guest list included three great grandmas: [starting on the left, nearest Blythe] My grandma Ann and Brent's grandma Pat and grandma Hazel [who couldn't make it]. Then her adopted "Noanie"- our dear friend, Joanie.  And her two amazing grandmas: [on the right]: Brent's mom, Joan, and my mom, Sharon.

The generation on the left is so wonderful. I love chatting with all of them and it was so fun to sit around the table and hear their stories and share their love for my daughter[s]. Becks joined us for a "little minute"

Our house is not super large, and as you can see our kitchen table is quite small. Yet I'm always glad when I ignore the size of the space and invite people to fill it anyway. The card table worked just fine, and the table cloths [oooh-la-la] helped conceal the mis-matched nature of it all.

I have wonderful memories of my grandmothers, and like Blythe, was fortunate to know FOUR GREAT grandmothers. I cherish their pictures and the stories that are told about them. My parents did such a great job of letting them spend time with my sister and me and, even though I was a snarky little thing, very few things brought them greater joy.

I want to provide that for these wonderful women.

But more than that, I want to provide that for Blythe and Becks. I want them to see motherhood and sacrifice and love at their finest. I want them to learn about the 60s and 70s, and the 30s and 40s [!!]. I want them to respect and revere older women, and see what they have to offer.

And I want them to learn how to sip tea and eat scones on a dreary morning.
I want them to learn to be ladies.

Our little party didn't last long, and Blythe was surprisingly a little shy while sipping her tea hot chocolate, but it was wonderful to open our home and drink tea with some of the best women I know. And I'm already planning for another one in the Spring!

[Also, a friend of mine suggested I host a tea for some of our adult lady friends. After hearing Blythe's grandma's talk about all the wonderful tea they've had in their lives, I think I may just have to take her up on the suggestion!]

*don't forget today is the last day to enter for your chance to win this photo package!

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a labor of love

A week ago if you would have told me that I could get my old My Little Ponies looking like almost new again, I would have scoffed at you. Their poor manes have seen two decades of abuse imaginative play by children.

I like to think that I took really good care of them, and that the combination between the kids my mom babysat PLUS the years they spent at my mom's office after that for children of clients really did them in. Regardless of how it happened, when I decided to gift these to Blythe as her "something to play with" this year for Christmas, I was not expecting to see THIS atrocity of FRIZZ when I opened the box my mom dropped off:

Yikes. They were also pretty nasty. Grubby little hands had been galloping them around far too long. It took about one clorox wipe per pony to really get them clean.

That grosses me out.

But back to the frizz.

I couldn't pass these along to Blythe in good conscience knowing their true beauty could possibly be restored somehow. So I took to Pinterest. I found several different pins, and they all had their own variations of the process, but all of them basically said: DIP THEM IN DOWNY!

I browsed through several tutorials, picking and choosing what I thought sounded like it would work the best, and now I bring it to you! If you have some Ponies that need a little love, give it a try. I was amazed with the results.

Here it goes:
Also, can I add that Brent thought this was a little ridiculous? It was not. It was awesome. And it was as if I had the perfect excuse to play interact with the My Little Ponies again. Bliss. 

What you will need:
Fabric Softener 
[I used Downy because that is what all the tutorials used, but I think any generic would be fine. And I will add here: this is the first time I've ever used fabric softener.]
A dish/bowl
A fine tooth comb 
[your husband's beard brush will work just fine]
A few crayons and bobby pins
A frizzy haired, well-loved Pony
[best if circa early 1990's, late 1980's…have you seen the new ones? Creepy. And expensive. So get to garage sales for the good ones while you still can and get out your Downy! Nobody wants to see those new Ponies taking over]
[not pictured] A towel and a small amount of patience

The procedure is pretty simple. Mix roughly equal amounts of water and fabric softener and stir to combine. I mixed about a cup of each and it was plenty for all my ponies! So if you get a huge container of fabric softener and you're like me and never use it, invite your friends and their frizzed out ponies over!

Then simply dunk tail or mane into the mixture. It doesn't need to soak or anything, just needs to be completely saturated. I was very careful not to get the liquid too close to the body of the pony, as you really don't want water getting inside. Just work the mixture up towards the body or head with your fingers.

I was especially careful with this one because she makes noise when you press the hearts on her flanks! She neighs and then makes a galloping sound that fades into the distance. I loved playing with her when I was younger…when I was by myself, that is. My sister rarely let me push the button because, "Kelsey, those batteries won't last forever and won't you be sad when it doesn't work anymore?" So she rationed my button pushing. Yes, I was the youngest child. And yes, the button still works to this day. I sent her a video of the sound when I was sorting through them and her response? "You're welcome. My gift to your children." 

Once you've dunked the part you're going to work with, lightly squeeze out any excess with your fingers. 

Next, lay the pony on a flat surface and work your comb through starting at the ends. I found if I started next the body, it was very difficult to work out tangles. For the ponies that were worse for wear, I had to rip pretty hard through the hair, but I have curly hair so I'm used to not being gentle with hair myself.

[note: the pink pony was the frizziest hair I tackled, and I remembered that she had very curly hair when I got her. She yielded the least satisfying results, but still showed improvement. She also had her hair braided when I found her in the box, so there's a good chance it was braided for two decades. Also, the rubberband holding it together disintegrated upon my touch. So there's that. ]

As you work the tangles and frizz out, I found that I needed to very slightly trim the ends when I was finished on a few of them. Barely anything, but just enough to even it up.

There were a lot of varying opinions about this next step, but I tried both ways and liked the rinse better. So once you have worked through the mane and the tail, run it carefully under some warm water. Don't worry about totally rinsing out the softener; I think you want a little to remain for "hold".  Again be careful not to let water enter the pony. Gently squeeze out excess with your fingers and run the comb through one last time.

Here is the part where Brent made a lot of fun of me, but I think it's a crucial step: carefully wrap the mane and tail around a crayon, and secure with a bobby pin. Then set aside to dry. I tried just wrapping the tail around the legs a bit, or curling it a little with my fingers, but it still would dry too straight and hang limply. When you get new My Little Ponies they always have some bounce and curl to their hair, and if left straight the manes and tails are far too long for their bodies. This was the best method I found to get that body back!

You can see in the bottom left of this picture the excess hair I trimmed from a few. This is ALL the hair I trimmed from all of the ponies pictured, so when I say you don't trim much, you really don't trim much. 
Find a good location to hid them from your two year old while you are working on them if you plan on gifting them to her for Christmas :). For me, I stuck them on the top shelf of my pantry because, as you can see, I desperately needed to go to the store but the extra shelf space worked lovely as a pony salon. 

yes, all I had left was cornbread mix, pancake mix, and a few crackers. It was sad. Don't worry, I made it to the store last night…and promptly realized I had forgotten my wallet…at home…20 minutes away. The girls were asleep so Brent couldn't leave, but my mom came to my rescue because I think she had seen the sad state of this pantry and knew I really needed to get some groceries. She could also maybe tell I was on the verge of a mal-nutrional breakdown because I hadn't had a vegetable in a few days. Suffice it to say, the ponies had to be relocated and my husband and children are eating well again. 

Once the hair is dry [or mostly dry], remove the "curlers" and "adjust" hair to your suiting. Here are some of the AFTER shots of the ponies I was working with.

The pink one, like I mentioned, was the least effective in terms of really looking like a new pony, but compared the the haggard creature I began with I think she looks pretty incredible! [And smells awesome! That Downy!] Also, she makes sound so she'll be stiff competition as a favorite around here.

I forgot to take many before and afters, but here is a good one that shows you this process really works:

Isn't that incredible?! Also, Brent laughed when I told him this was one of the few "male" ponies I had. "Her hair is purple and pink, and she is turquoise!" No, Brent. HE is GREEN and has a SAILBOAT. Clearly a boy. He also had a sailor's hat that fit over his ears. Mom, you think you have that somewhere?  [cough* cough* I just googled it: This one and the purple one pictured above with the white pony were 1985-1986 "BIG BROTHER Ponies" There names were "Salty" and "Slugger." SEE!!! I also just discovered some of these are worth some money. I better keep my doors locked.]

However, if one day someone were to ask me what one of my biggest accomplishments in life was, I would respond, "The bird."  This was her tail to begin with:

I didn't even get a great picture, but you can tell that is one hot mess. My mom actually said she almost pitched that thing several times.

Well, one Downy dunk later…

It's incredible, really. I did have to work on that tail for awhile [probably ten minutes], but it was rewarding!

Are you clapping? Oh please, that's unnecessary.

I just have to get to the mini ones next!

Let me know if you try this out! I'm also anxious to see if it works on Barbies because my 1990 Totally Hair Barbie could really use some love. And that may just be Blythe's birthday present….

yes, the Christmas one was my favorite. I named her "Ginger" which was the pretend name reserved for my favorites.

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the last "it's-almost-Christmas" GIVEAWAY!!

It has been so fun to host these giveaways for such awesome shops and encourage you guys to "shop small" and a little more personally when it comes to your holiday gift giving.

And don't forget! All of these shops will do custom orders for you or your awesome mother-in-law whom you have NO IDEA what to get! ANDDDDD ….

//Liza Loves Paper is still offering 15% at her Etsy shop with the coupon code: WORDSTHATSING15 until January 1st.

//CleverCrocheting is offering 15% off at her Etsy shop or via her facebook page when you mention this blog through January 1st.

//Wreaths on Walnut is offering 10% off via her facebook page when you mention this blog through January 1st.

This week you just get me.
I was trying to think of a little something I could offer during this giveaway bash, so here is what I decided to do:

If you've known me for awhile, you know I like to dabble in photography. I really enjoy it, and people have even started asking me to take pictures of them. How fun! Now that I have a family of my own, I know just how awesome it is to have pictures taken during a certain phase of life, and how cherished those small captured moments can be, even just 3 or 4 months down the road.

I took a lot of pictures this fall, and shared a few of those sessions, as well as my history with my camera, in this post. 

It all kind of started when I took senior pictures for one of my favorite people in the history of ever: Paige:

I realized how much fun it was, and haven't really ever stopped. Now I've done a little bit of everything, from families to dogs [!!] to seniors to senior groups to kids to toddlers to maternity …

Okay Kelsey, I've scrolled through all those pictures, now what are you giving away?! 

I'm giving away one 30 minute
mini session
A mini session will guarantee you about 
20 edited photos 

//I know it is winter. I know it is cold. I know there may be snow soon. This mini session will be valid for use through June 1st, though if you want to take pictures in the snow I'm ALL for it! I think that would be beautiful!// 

So what do you need to do to enter? 
Unfortunately you have to be local, or know you'll be
visiting nearby before June to enter. 
[If you are in Northwest Iowa, let me know your location because I'll be up that way and you can potentially enter too! Also, if you live in Hawaii and are willing to pay for my family to come, I will definitely let you enter and rig it so you win. 
If you meet that criteria then here is what you need to do to enter:

You may earn up to two entries:

1. Leave a comment on this blog post or the link to this post letting me know
who I would be photographing if you won! 

2. Follow my blog on Google Friend Connect by clicking the 
blue "Join this site" box in the right column that looks like this:
This won't appear if you are viewing it on your phone unless 
you select "view web version" at the bottom

AND since everyone else was so generous and awesome, I thought I would offer a discount as well :) 
If you would like to "pre-book" a session before June 1, you can lock in a 15% discount off my normal prices. 

Obviously you probably don't know what you're doing in April, so you don't have to select a date yet. Simply email me/message me and let me know you would like to lock in the discounted price you saw on my blog and I will write you down and you can contact me later with a specific date. Of course, if you want to go ahead and get first pick at available dates and schedule it we can! 

Or if you want to give a session as a gift, you can buy it with the discounted price and I will give you a gift certificate to be redeemed before December 2015. 

The giveaway closes Thursday, December 19 at midnight
and the winner will be announced on Friday. 

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