Category Archives: Family Life

A Year of Date Nights

Who else out there lacks some imagination when it comes to planning date nights with your significant other. Surely I can’t be the only one?!? Maybe the kids have made our brains mush…quite possibly. Sad to say we are soooo obnoxiously practical when we do have a weekend to ourselves we generally have some crazy project we are working hard to finish (or uh hmmm refrigerator shopping…boooring and entirely too practical). 

The last date night we had was in December. I dare say it was a bit disastrous. Where do you want to go eat…noooo…where do you want to go eat?? Seriously we are adults, right? Am I still the only one? If so, stop reading now because I may just bore you to tears.

Ok, so for all of you who just might be familiar with my issue I have a fun idea to share with you! I stumbled upon an idea for a “Date of the Month Club” by Cher from Love Actually. I thought it was quite brilliant I just needed to simplify it a bit for my purposes. All the extras in her package were cute I just knew my hubby would never use that stuff and I would be wondering where I was going to put it.

Sooo…here is my version….

I printed these free blank tickets here. I came up with 12 date night ideas that I thought we would enjoy. About half of them are nights in and half are nights out. In the name of being realistic and budget friendly. Plus, I love the idea that once the kids are all tucked in the bed any night can be a date night. It is what you make of it. If you zone out in front of the TV {guilty} you may have missed an opportunity to strengthen and deepen the bond with your mate.

With my tickets printed I wrote a little preview of what each date would look like. I wrapped them up and tied them with a bow. Next, I made a flyer of sorts. I explained what the tickets were for and the benefits of being a “Date of the Month Club Member” included. Maybe a little cheesey…eh…you decide.  

Now all Jon has to do is put one ticket on each month of our calendar. 

Then I will take care of planning them out each month. I can make it as elaborate or as simple as I like. For me I like the thought of intentionally planning time with the man I love and stepping out of the dinner and movie routine.

Here are the dates I came up with…

{Bring It!} Game night in
{Dinner for Two} Candlelit dinner at home
{Relax} Spa night 
{Envelope Surprise} Day date, open an envelope to reveal you next destination
{Strike} Bowling date night
{Chef Challenge} Cook dinner together with a new recipe and then Wii face-off
{A Basket and A Blanket} Picnic…could be in the backyard, living room, park…we shall see.
{Power Outage} Date with no electronics…no TV, no phones, no lights…maybe?
{Out of Dodge} Headed out of town, where we will go nobody knows.
{Tourist Attraction} Act like tourists downtown 
{Night In} Breakfast in bed for dinner and snuggle in for a movie
{Get Dolled Up} Put on our fancy schmancy clothes and enjoy dinner and a show

Jon loved it! I am sure any guy would like a little pressure lifted from date night expectations. My thought and hope is this will spark more creativity from us both. 

Check out these links for more ideas:
The 5 Love Languages – take the test
The Dating Divas
The Art of Date Night

Before I go…our Valentine’s day stuff…

Pictures before school are too hard. If only you knew what it took to get this one. Silly kids!

A girl and her Daddy

A boy and his Mama

 Observations: Boyfriend you gotta deal with Mama’s kisses and Mama needs to visit Miss Rene bad.

Yes, and the only pictures Cate made it into were ones where her sticky little fingers were all over the camera lens. Nice.

Happy Dating!

Last Minute Valentine Goodness

I am so squeaking this in at the last minute but maybe it will be useful to someone??? 

Check out these adorable Valentine’s I whipped up this morning with the help of some very creative bloggers. 

Thanks to The Crafting Chicks for these fun free printables! I found these solid color bouncy balls at Target with all their Valentine’s stuff. They were $2 for 16 balls. I found the right size bags at Wal-Mart with their Wilton cake supplies. I got 50 bags for $2.47. All in all this was a pretty thrifty goody for all their school classmates. 

I signed up to take care of the sweet treat for Sam and Maggie’s class so I could just make a lot of one thing making it easier on me. Anything to make life a bit easier. 🙂
I started out with these supplies to make traditional Rice Krispie treats. Go here for the recipe. Let them cool in the pan for about 30 minutes. Then use a cookie cutter to cut out your shapes. I used a small heart making these bite size.
Next grab these supplies…
Melt your candy melts in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time stirring in between each time. I dipped the tops of each heart into the melted candy coating. Give it a little shake to get rid of the extra and top with sprinkles while it is wet. This is where I made a really big mess!

I used the whole bag of candy melts for two batches of Rice Krispie treats. So just melt half the bag for one batch.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Back in the Summer I was out with my favorite peeps checkin’ out some yard sales. Yes, me yard sale-ing can you even fathom it?!? We passed a group of people having a bazaar and we swung on in to check it out. Boy was that God’s hand! They did have a few things to sell, a bounce house, baked goods, and a fabulous face painter. Most importantly the people we met were so warm and friendly I felt like I had known them forever. 

I found out they were a church group.  I was so excited to call my Mom when we left because I knew she was searching for a church home and I knew that I knew that I knew…did I say I knew…this was the place for her. She went…she loved it…she has a home. 

Ok so that was awesome but also while I was there I bought the most fabulous bed for Maggie Rae. I seriously can’t wait to have some time to get to it for my girl’s room. Jon probably can’t wait either considering it is taking up space in his workshop. Poor guy.

Marsha, the pastor’s wife, asked me to make a cork board for her 10 year old daughter, Abijah, who my Maggie girl thinks hung the moon. 

Abijah’s room is purple and green. The girl loves some color and some sparkle. Girl after my own heart, I got this. 


Cork Board Panel 
2 Feather Boas
Letter “A”
Scrapbook Paper
Felt Sheets
Sparkly Gems
Hot Glue Gun
Straight Pins

I used straight pins to tack the boa around the edge. I didn’t want the feather to be all goopy with glue so the pins worked well.

I painted the edges of the letter then used Mod Podge to adhere scrapbook paper to the front surface of the letter. I filed the edges of the letter with sand paper to remove any extra paper. 
Grabbed my felt sheets to create flowers and leaves. Added some sparkly gems for a little bling. Abijah was pleased and hopefully by now it is covered up with pictures, notes, and whatever else a girl deems important. 

It was really a lot of fun working with Marsha on this! Next up…Abijah needs props for her dance recital. More sparkles are in my future!

A Craft A Day …Homemade Sugar Scrub

Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas! It was such a sweet time with my family! Lots of precious memories to hold onto.

The kids and I actually completed this on Friday before Christmas just to add a little something extra under the tree for the ladies in our lives. Sam and Mags really got a kick out of making gifts.  I surfed blogland a bit to get some ideas of the basic ingredients and came up with these recipes. These mixes are so super easy and you may already have all that you need to whip up a batch in your kitchen. The scrub softens up dry skin so nicely!

Here are our recipes…

Almond Brown Sugar Scrub

~ 1 C Brown Sugar (3 parts)
~ 2/3 C Olive Oil (2 part)
~ 1/2 C Almonds (optional)
~ 1 tsp Almond Extract
~ 1 C Rolled Oats

Chop your almonds first. Then mix remaining ingredients together including almonds. I used my knock-off Magic Bullet to get everything blended super good. Also, I ended up adding a drizzle or two more of the olive oil to moisten the mixture a bit more. Just be careful to not get it too oily.

Peppermint Sugar Scrub
~ 2 Candy Canes
~ 1 1/2 C White Sugar (3 parts)
~ 1/2 C Olive Oil (1 part)
~ 1 tsp Mint Extract

Grind candy canes in processor or chop. Mix all ingredients together. Again, I added a bit more olive oil in the end.

*Both recipes yielded about 2 1/2 cups of sugar scrub

There are so many possibilities to play around with these sugar scrub mixes. You could use coconut oil or baby oil, different extracts or essential oils to change the scent. Lots of fun to play around with! The shelf life of these babies isn’t going to be as long as something you would buy in the store because it is preservative free sooo I am estimating a month or two for freshness.

Thankfully my awesome Mom cannot part with glass jars easily so I raided her stash to fill with scrub. I used Mod Podge and craft paper to decorate the lid and twine to tie my tag on.

Side note….my hubby totally knocked it out of the park this year for Christmas! Seriously that man has been listening! Anyway…I scored the latest Cricut…eeek! Ohhhh the possibilities! These tags would have been sooo much cuter with my fancy dancy new machine but alas my scribbly handwriting will do for now.

Wishing you all a great week as we wrap up 2011!

A Craft A Day… Neighborly neighbors

I am not sure this really falls into the “craft” category but it was our together activity today so I am sharing. We made yummy treats for our neighbors as to carry on this yearly tradition. I often times this year have referred to the K.I.S.S method that I am trying to implement in my life. Keep It Simple Stupid. I tossed my elaborate baking schemes out the window and…well…kept it simple this year. It made it more enjoyable for the kids to really help me from their perspective and mine.

Maggie helped me with these yummy treats…

Holiday Pretzel Treats (or you could alter slightly and call them Reindeer’s Noses)

Bite size waffle shaped pretzels
Hershey’s Kiss OR Hugs
M&Ms candy

~ Heat oven to 170
~ Line baking pan with wax paper and lay pretzels out in a single layer
~ Place 1 kiss or hug on top of each pretzel
~ Bake for 4-6 minutes just to slightly melt chocolate
~ Remove from oven and slightly press an M&M on top of chocolate
~ Let them cool for a few minutes then place in the fridge for about 10 minutes to completely set

*For Reindeer’s Noses use Hershey’s Kiss and red M&M’s

The Sam boy helped me here…

Puppy Chow

9 C Crispy rice cereal squares
1/2 C Peanut Butter
1 C Semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 C Powdered Sugar

~ Melt peanut butter and chocolate chips in saucepan over low heat
~ Mix and melt until smooth
~ Pour over cereal and mix until well coated
~ Pour powdered sugar in large Ziploc bag
~ Pour cereal into bag and shake, shake, shake until powdered to perfection

I purchased these cute containers last year at an after Christmas sale AND I found them again this year! Whoa baby…it’s a Christmas miracle!

We used white muffin cup liners to separate our powdery goodness from our crunchy chocolate melts.

The best part…DELIVERY! “Are we going to the neighbors yet?” Now imagine that sentence repeated about 52 times and you get the gist. Alright already…treats delivered!

What is your favorite treat to make at the holidays? Test out my new comment box. Is it easier to use?

A Craft A Day… Imagination Station

Our craft of the day was to design a city with the use of blue painter’s tape… of course. We picked the craft room for our city so they would have a nice open space to play and they wouldn’t be under foot all day. We cleared out their crafting table and there was tons of space!

The boy and the girl helped me layout their city. Here is their genius and all the essentials of a town according to a 6 and 5 year old.

Hot Wheels + Legos + our blue city = hours of pretend play
(which also = one happy mama)
Even lil’ bit was a happy camper!

Eeek! It’s 3 days till Christmas! Are you ready yet?

Before I go…

BIG thanks to Suzy @ Saved by Suzy for featuring Sweet Memories today!

A Craft A Day… Glow in the Dark Slime!

We made glow in the dark slime! Oh my! The boy was on cloud nine with this experiment. He really gets into science projects.
If you would like to make you very own hop on over to The Idea Room. She has a great tutorial with a video that you should check out.

What you need...

Here is my peeps enjoying their squishy slimey goo…
Maggie mixing up her purple-y blob

See…all boy
I thought it might be super sticky but it isn’t. It forms fairly well when manipulating but if left on the table for awhile it sloooowly begins to flatten out so be careful where you leave it unattended. It is best left in a container when it is not being played with. It does glow in the dark too! So much fun!
Ok…if you make your very own gooey concoction you must let me know!
Have fun on this drippy dreary day in Greenville. Hmmm…what are we going to get into today???

A Craft A Day… Felt Christmas Tree

Ok here we go…the kids are home and Jon will be working a bazillion hours this week with the Christmas rush so what in the world am I going to do to keep this little people entertained? Hehe…no really we have lots of cool things on the agenda but I thought it would be absolutely crazy super fun to complete one craft a day while they are home. I always have so much on my to do list…mostly self inflicted but a lot nonetheless…so I like to make sure I have intentional quality time with my babes. It takes some planning but always…most always…proves to be a rewarding time for us together. I am a planner though, it is just my nature. So onto my planning of all the fun activities I have in store for the kiddos these next two weeks.

Day 1 – Felt Christmas Tree (thank you Pinterest)

If you aren’t a crafty person Pinterest is a fabulous resource for awesome ideas laid out step by step to complete with your children.

I found this felt Christmas tree by Natalie at Johnny In A Dress and knew it was going on the list of must do’s. I did this one first because it could potentially provide much entertainment over the days to come.

So here is our lovely tree…


3/4 yard green felt
6-8 colorful felt sheets
hot glue gun

I cut my green triangle for the tree about 29 1/2 in wide at the base and 36 in to the top. I used  felt sheets to make the ornaments. The kid’s handy dandy Ikea cups were used to trace and then cut round ornaments and then decorated them with a hot glue gun and more felt. A bright yellow star for the top and some colorful gifts for under the tree. Use double sided tape (any removeable adhesive will do) to adhere to the wall and let the kid’s go to town decorating and redecorating their tree. Easy enough!

They are having a blast with it!

Ramblings and a Sweet Lil’ Kitchen Reveal

I was so excited to hear from a college friend a couple months back. Facebook does has some benefits to it, although lately I am questioning how it fits into my life. Beware! I am totally going on a rabbit trail here…

I was visiting a church this past Sunday and the pastor challenged the congregation to a 40 day fast. I didn’t feel immediately moved to jump on board but yet I wanted to be able to pray and seek God to see if this was his desire for me. Later that day after some reflection I felt moved to restrict Facebook in my world. The social platform, pared down, back to the basics when it first caught on seemed like such a great way for me to connect with friends past and present and now it seems like a big pot of yuck. Nice description, huh? Maybe you can identify, maybe not. Either way for me it has become negative, so in an attempt to simplify my life and be real with my friends and family I am cleaning shop…the shop of my heart that is. Goodbye discontentment, goodbye negativity, goodbye. This is just a way for me to minimize some unnecessary junk and focus on what matters most to me. Focusing on getting to know my Creator better and more deeply, being a good wife and mom, and being the best friend possible. This is a small first step in reclaiming what has been a tumultuous year for me. A year where soils have been dug up and flipped me upside down leaving me not really sure where to begin again. I am still unsure of my new beginning but I know that God has a perfect plan for me. A plan that I have faith in and for which I am thankful. As you can see Facebook is really a side note to this story but maybe this is the start for me focusing in on what God has for me. 

I will still be maintaining the Monkey Doodles Facebook page (that is probably how you got here, right?), but on a personal level it will be limited.

Bringing it on around now…

My friend, Angela, wrote me and asked if I could find her a vintage kitchen. Well, it just so happened the Pinterest addiction had led me to the entertainment center turned play kitchen idea. I shared the idea with Angela and from there we went.

Here is the entertainment center as I found it…

Solid with good bones. A nice blank canvas.

Thankfully my hubby is awesomely talented and he was able to construct the new doors and other odd and ends for me.

In progress…

Angela’s only requests were sage green, pink, and ultra girly. Check, check, and check. Here she is…

Now I want to cook in this kitchen (and that’s saying a lot!). The curtains were made from vintage pillow cases. I used a dog bowl from Tractor Supply for the sink basin. I hijacked the old faucet from my house. We have had a new Kohler faucet for probably a year now and we finally changed that out. Woohooo!

Turnable stove knobs and sparkly stove burners. ‘Cause you know every girly girl needs a little sparkle.

Fabric covered magnetic board and hooks for all of little misses important kitchen utensils.

Last but not least every good cook needs an apron!

That’s all folks! Have a great Thursday! Be real.

A little of this and a little of that…

This week has been full of construction for this family but it is coming together. Woohoo! It will all be worth it!
Movin’…movin’…movin’ right along…
Day 2, 3, and 4

Day 5
Porcelain tile floors in…
Day 6
Remaining windows placed and trimmed and tile grouted…
Taking a break from construction I got to hang out with the girls at the workshop on Saturday! We had a smaller crowd this time so we all got listen to Stephanie…ummm…no I mean we got to get to know each other better. 🙂 (Hehe…Steph…I had to) It was much fun and as always everything turned out great! Jennie Leigh Designs was a great space for us to gather! Thanks again Jennie!!
Some of the lovelies from Saturday…
My Maggie girl went to the Princess Academy at the Children’s Little Theatre on Saturday. Her Nonnie took her and made her a real princess gown! She was quite the lovely princess. Hair, make up, princess gown, lots of glitz and glam. What little girl wouldn’t be in heaven?

LOTS to do this week! Finishing up a few projects and preparing for Thursday’s feast at this humble abode. Squeezing my work into 2 days so I can relax and be with my babes when they are home from school. What are your Thanksgiving plans?

As Thanksgiving is happening this week and it is a great time to reflect on what really is important in life. I wanted to take a minute and say thank you! Thank you for reading, thank you for your support, and thank you for being just who God created you. Praying blessings over each of you this week!

One more thing…Baby Kail, are you here yet????