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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Escape From Planet Earth DVD Review, Giveaway, and Alien Spaceship Craft!

Sponsored Post Disclosure: I have been compensated for this post, however all opinions are my own and truthful. 
This post does contain paid links. 




The girls love to play "outer space" and aliens and when I was given the opportunity to review a DVD of the new movie, Escape From Planet Earth, I knew my girls would love it!
The girls even came up with a fun craft inspired by the movie.
At the end of this post we will be giving away a copy of the movie to one of you!


My family has "Family Movie Night" on Friday nights.
We're super classy -- we sit on the floor and eat homemade pizza on trays
while our dog (a giant greyhound) walks around and offers us dog toys in eternal hope of
one of us offering to trade her a piece of pizza!

So this past Friday, we settled in with our homemade pizza
and this crazy blue alien-inspired popcorn (more on that in a minute!)
to watch the movie, Escape From Planet Earth on DVD.

Our whole family enjoyed the movie and I'll warn you now... you may have to make
a run to 7-11 for a blue Slurpee after you watch the movie because you'll want one!
We loved the way the characters showed bravery against bullying
and stood up for their family members and friends.
The movie producers did a great job of balancing any scenes that were a bit scary or intense
with light-hearted comedy and silly-ness so no one got scared (reminded me of "Ice Age.")
We decided as a family we would rate it 3 stars out of 5.
*****


I thought it would be fun to try to make blue popcorn. It worked...sort of. 

I probably should have used candy melts, but I had these white chocolate chips in the house
and I wasn't going to go to the store in my Friday night fuzzy pants! 
I attempted to melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave and they had a hard time
getting liquid-y enough...it melted but stayed thicker than I would have liked. 
Then I stirred in some blue food coloring and tossed it on some air popped pop corn and tossed on 
some blue and green sprinkles we had leftover from E's birthday party. 
The girls didn't mind and they ate it all without complaining. 
It wasn't beautiful but then again, I'm not a food blogger so who cares!


The next morning, the girls and I made some pom-pom aliens inspired by the characters in the movie.




We didn't have big blue pom-poms so we made our own with a salad fork and some fat blue yarn.
Just wrap it around the fork. Tie it in the middle, and cut the sides. 


The girls glued on googly eyes and made a variety of characters.
Then, they made spaceships for our Aliens out of paper plate bowls and plastic cups.



Just decorate the paper bowls with markers or paint and glue them together
with Elmer's glue or glue gun. Cute right?!


Guess what?! You have a chance to own your own copy of the movie!
I have a copy to give away to one of you just for leaving a comment here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Escape From Planet Earth heads to retail
on June 4, 2013 on DVD and Blue-Ray Combo Pack.


Warmly,
Pink and Green Mama, MaryLea

Disclosure: Products for review and giveaway were provided by Anchor Bay Entertainment via the Weinstein Company. 
The opinions expressed herein are my own and are not indicative of the opinions of Anchor Bay Entertainment. 


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Monday, May 27, 2013

Big Sister, Little Sister Friendship Bracelets and Personalized Book Review #ChronicleBooks


When my lovely and generous friends at MyChronicleBooks offered to send my sweet girls 
their own, PERSONALIZED Big Sister/Little Sister book I couldn't say no. 
My girls have names that don't appear on a lot of personalized items, 
we always search those displays with pens, keychains, cups, etc and they're never on there. 
I can relate, because there were never any "MaryLea" things either! 

I blocked out my children's names for privacy on this post and these pictures, but take my word for it, MyChronicleBooks printed this beautiful book for my daughters and used both of their names in a lovely  and heartfelt dedication at the beginning of the book (it made me cry.) My oldest daughter's name is on the cover and appears throughout this sweet story about big sisters and little sisters. 
The book was illustrated by the very talented Laura Numeroff 
of "If you Give a Mouse..." series fame and "The Big Red Barn." 

My girls and I have enjoyed reading the book several times already and they were inspired
to get crafty and make BFF Sister Friendship Bracelets for each other. How sweet is that?
Because they decided THAT is what sisters do. 
I can't even tell you how much their close relationship means to me. 
Watching them play, craft, and read together warms my heart. 


This lovely book is also available in a "What Big Brothers Do Best" version. 
They offer a few books that can be fully personalized - we're talking names, skin, and hair color! 
With fun themes like Pirates, Princesses, Fairies, and Race Car Drivers. 
You can also order famous titles from Chronicle Books like: "Goodnight Construction Site," 
"Duck! Rabbit!" and Bob Marley's "One Love" with personalized dedications. 
You can visit their website for the complete list and details.  

Want your own personalized story book for that special child in your life? 
Visit MyChronicleBooks to order your own and they're offering Pink and Green Mama readers
a discount code to apply to your order: MyCB-d5285JW

Warmly,
Pink and Green Mama, MaryLea

Disclosure: Products for review were provided by Chronicle Books. 
The opinions expressed herein are my own and are not indicative of the opinions of Chronicle Books. 


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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Graduation Gift Basket For A New Teacher With Personalized School Supplies #ChronicleBooks


When my dear friends at MyChronicleBooks contacted me recently to see if I would like to review some of their beautiful, personalized school supplies I knew I had the perfect recipients for them!
Remember how I told you about our next door neighbors that just graduated 
to become elementary school teachers last weekend? 
What could be more fun for a brand new teacher-to-be than a gift basket 
FULL of school supplies and teacher goodies?! I will always have a soft spot in my heart for new school supplies, stationery, and office products and when you personalize them, they're even cuter. How is that possible? 

MyChronicleBooks has all kinds of fabulous books and goodies on their website and now they're offering a brand new way to celebrate all of the milestones in a child's life with MyChronicleBooks
It is the first and only personalized line of products from a book publisher featuring award-winning and bestselling children's book authors and illustrators. They are perfect gifts for any occasion like birthdays, baby showers, back to school, holidays, end of the year teacher thank you gifts, or even NEW teacher (graduation) gifts! They have an a-dorable Eric Carle line of products featuring 
(see the personalized ThankYou notes in the photos below) 


MyChronicleBooks has personalized lunch boxes, stickers, notebooks, placemats, growth charts, 
note cards, wall art, and more. Their prices range from $3.99 to $99.99 and ship in just 2 weeks. I was able to select my products and preview them to see what they would look like with the names on them. You can even change skin and hair color on some of the products!

For the new teacher-to-be gift baskets, we personalized lunch boxes for each of the girls and included co-ordinating notebooks, stickers and just for fun some Eric Carle thank you notes. 
I also picked up some bulletin board borders, teacher supplies, and other new teacher goodies from the office supply store. I found the super cute chevron baskets for 60% off at Michaels craft store. 



MyChronicleBooks also makes personalized story books that you can dedicate to your favorite kid -- 
I'll be sharing our personalized "What Big Sisters Do Best" book with you in my next post! 

But wait, there is something for you, my lovely readers, too! 

As a special thank you, MyChronicleBooks would like to offer Pink and Green Mama readers
a special discount off any order with this special promotion codeMyCB-d5285JW 
Have fun!

Warmly,
Pink and Green Mama, MaryLea

Disclosure: Products for review were provided by Chronicle Books. 
The opinions expressed herein are my own and are not indicative of the opinions of Chronicle Books. 


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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Easy Heartfelt DIY Fingerprint Cards for Dads and Grads!


It's that time of year again, time for Graduation Celebrations and Father's Day!
We had the honor and privilege of celebrating two very talented college graduates this weekend. 
Our next door neighbors have raised three smart and beautiful young women that I got to teach 
(a million years ago) when they were still in elementary school. Two of them graduated
from College and Graduate school this weekend and are going to be teachers. I couldn't be prouder! 
We put together gift baskets for each of the graduates (I'll share them in my next post) 
and these easy DIY "heartfelt" cards! The third is still in college and our favorite babysitter. 


The cards were so quick and easy to make. 
They would be great for any graduation, teacher appreciation, or dad for father's day. 
We started by picking out stamping ink in the school colors
in this case George Mason University - Green and Gold, and
James Madison University - Purple and Gold. 

If you didn't have ink pads in the house, you could try coloring and stamping 
fingerprints with washable markers (think Crayola) or Do-A-Dots! 

For a Father's day card, I could see dad's favorite team colors, 
alma mater, or children's birthstone colors -- you get the idea! 


To make the cards, we traced a pale yellow heart on a piece of white card stock (folded into a card)
then, the girls filled in the heart with fingerprints in green and gold ink for our GMU grad
and purple and gold ink for our JMU grad! 


After filling the inside with heartfelt messages of congratulations
and drawings from the girls we were good to go! 
Quick, easy, original, and from the heart. 


Here's to all the new grads (and dads) out there! 

Warmly,
Pink and Green Mama
MaryLea

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Disclosure: I only share links to products that I actually use and love. 
I do receive a small compensation from Amazon if you purchase products from these links. Thanks!



Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Favorite Kid-Friendly Looms and Weaving Projects Round-Up

Affiliate Disclosure: Pink and Green Mama is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.


Today I'm sharing some of my favorite Weaving projects from the blog.
Weaving a great way to build hand eye coordination and fine motor skills.
You can use a store bought or homemade loom. 
You can weave with paper, ribbons, grasses, leaves, yarn, string, fabric scraps, etc.









Warmly,
Pink and Green Mama, MaryLea

Below are some of our favorite looms:




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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Week Gift: Easy and Cute Fairy Garden in a $1 Salad Bowl



This week is teacher appreciation week.
One little week to let our children's teacher's know how much they mean to us and our children.
Isn't EVERY week teacher appreciation week?
It's kind of like "Mother's Day," in my book, every day is mother's day!
But it is nice to get a little reminder. 
I shared this photo on instagram on Monday. 
We like to make these cute little gardens every year. 
The girls and I loved making these salad bowl fairy gardens for this year's teachers.
They gave them to their teachers this morning so I can share them on the blog now! 

Project How to: 

* Instructions to make the bird houses can be found in this post.

* Step-by-step instructions for the Fairy Dish Gardens can be found here

* I bought the Salad Bowls at Walmart for $1 each! 
They always stock them this time of year in the picnic outdoor 
plastic drink pitcher and trays seasonal display area (I'm sure that's the official name!)

More Eye Candy
And... please take a quick minute to hop over and 
check out the cute fairy gardens my bloggy friend Melissa at Green Owl Art blog 
made with her kids this week - my favorite is the tether ball pole!

Warmly,
Pink and Green Mama, MaryLea

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

DIY Backyard Makeover on a Budget with Help from HGTVGardens!

Sponsored Post Disclosure: I have been compensated for this post, however all opinions are my own and truthful. 
This post does contain paid links. 


My husband and I enjoy teaming up for DIY projects around our house and yard. Last year, we took out a wall in our kitchen together and changed the whole feel of our house. This spring, we've been revamping our backyard. We challenged ourselves to make our yard more green, dog-proof, and kid-friendly but still something grown-ups want to look at too! All of this on a limited budget with lots of sweat equity and found treasures in the mix. It's trickier than it sounds, but with some help from the Internet and my new favorite go-to gardening website, HGTVGardens I think we pulled it off!


Planning and Research

We started by doing some research. We read articles on HGTVGardens about what kind of plants would do best in our yard and "zone" using their plant finder tool. I loved the way I could search by our area and look for different types of plants by light levels and moisture needs. Then, we took advantage of some of the articles like "How to Measure Your Yard" (very useful for my math-impaired self!) to create a scale plan of our backyard. We also needed this to calculate square footage of mulch, weed block fabric, and how much rock to order. 

We browsed garden ideas and created a "Garden Love" Pinterest board by Pinning images from the site as well as the community member-created photo galleries. We also made our own photo album on the HGTVGardens site. You can upload your own images to the photo albums or use their photos from all over the site; I used a mix of both. The photo galleries are chock full of awesome ideas for your own yard and gardens! They served as our vision boards for the whole project.


Wish List
Then we made our wish list of "wants" and "needs." 

We WANTED a yard that was: 

* Kid-Friendly. Places for the girls to CREATE * PLAY * and EXPLORE.
   We wanted to create areas for play and relaxation that would work for all ages in our yard! 
* Dog-Proof. 
   We rescued a retired racing greyhound who needs to run safely every day.
* Pretty. Aesthetically pleasing for grown-ups.
   I like to feel like I'm escaping and unplugging from the world when I go in my back yard.
* Accent tree. Provides some color in the middle of our big hill.

We NEEDED a yard:

* with Good Drainage. Carries rain water AWAY from the foundation of our house
   and... did not flood the flowerbeds every time it rained!
* that was Easy to Maintain. So we wouldn't have to spend every weekend working on it!
* that is Green. Use less water and no chemicals.
Budget-Friendly.


Drainage Problems and Xeriscaping

One of the big problems in our back yard was poor soil drainage. We have clay soil here and the way our house is oriented, we have shady areas where the rain water run-off was making our yard a soggy, muddy mess. Our greyhound's daily laps through the yard were making it even worse! 

We started by digging trenches and burying the downspouts to extend them out into the hillside. We also made a french drain with gravel and sand at the end of each buried downspout. Each downspout terminates underneath (and into) the dry river bed. The downspout at the other end of our backyard feeds into a rain barrel that we use to water our vegetable garden and flowers. 


My husband and I dug out a "dry river bed" that follows the natural slope of our yard and where the majority of the rainwater drains naturally. We stripped what was left of the sod and grass and dug a small swale in the center. We used rocks from our yard to line the edges of the "river." Then, we lined the whole thing with weed-blocking fabric and anchored it with landscaping staples to prevent dirt, mud, and weeds from filling up the rock bed too quickly. We hauled almost 5 tons of "river jack" stones from our driveway (delivered) to the backyard with two wheel barrows. The stones we used were 2"-3" stones and 5"-8" rocks.

River Jack Landscaping Stone Pink and Green Mama Blog


Dry River Bed Backyard Landscape

You can see the hillside in these before-and-after photos and the way we replaced large areas of grass with mulch areas and the dry river bed. The mulch is much more kid- and dog-friendly and it serves the second purpose of being a great way to xeriscape. What's "xeriscaping" you ask? It's a way to landscape that uses a lot less water. We don't use chemicals on our lawn because of our kids and our dog. Having large areas of hardscaping like our patios, deck, and dry river bed combined with the mulch uses a lot less water and we don't have to spend as much time mowing and maintaining our lawn. 

Sticking to a Budget

How did we keep it budget friendly? The mulch we used is free and recycled from our county dump. They collect yard waste and triple shred it into free mulch. We just have to use our truck to haul it. We can also get free leaf mulch for our garden beds. 

The swing set was a hand-me-down from our next door neighbors. We only needed to replace one big beam and some hardware but it was much less expensive than buying a new one!

A lot of the rocks in our landscaping came from other parts of our yard. We re-purposed slate pavers from a broken patio and we did some bargain-hunting online to find a good deal on our new footbridge.

The tree stumps in our play areas were also "found" from neighbor's trees and the dump.

We did buy the "river jack" stones but we negotiated the price for that as well! 


The plants were sale finds and the accent tree, a Coral Bark Japanese Maple, was also on sale with a coupon. It is called an: Acer Palmatum 'Sango kaku'. Sounds fancy right? I learned it's proper name and lots of detailed plant information from the HGTVGardens site!



The small footbridge is fun for our daughters and it gives our dog a safe way to cross the dry river bed without any hurt paws!  

Kid-Friendly Areas

It was important to us to create areas for all of our family members to feel welcome. We have play "zones" around the yard for the kids that encourage plenty of imaginative play and exercise without overwhelming the yard the whole yard. We also wanted our yard to be a place where our kids could observe and learn about nature. See my previous post about how we made our backyard bird friendly and became a Certified Wild Life Habitat with the National Wildlife Foundation


Slate Stepping Stones

Our kids love to use the slate stepping stones and our hardscape patio areas as "blank canvases" for their chalk drawings! 

Logs for Play Area

We have a small corner in our yard with a circle of tree stumps that my children use as an outdoor play kitchen to mix "potions" and mud pies. It is stocked with some old baskets, a plastic Halloween cauldron, garage sale dishes, and a mortar and pestle. This is the favorite play area in our yard when friends come over.

DIY Backyard Makeover on a Budget from Pink and Green Mama Blog

The girls built this container fairy garden with their grandparents a few summers ago and it is also a favorite go-to play destination in our backyard! It is in a teak planter set on locking casters so we can wheel it around our patio area. They love to play with small fairies and animal toys in it! 

DIY Backyard Makeover on a Budget from Pink and Green Mama Blog

My husband and I recycled and re-built a homemade swing set from our next door neighbor. The girls love this "secret" play area behind our shed. The large tree stumps in the foreground are used as giant stepping stones and "stages" for imaginative play and fort building under the trees.

Backyard Play Ground

The kids love to pretend to "go fishing" in the new dry river bed. 


As a member of the HGTVGardens website, I made my own photo album on the site of our DIY Backyard Makeover to share our before and after photos with other gardeners. This lets me get feedback and advice from other gardeners as well as a chance to "show and tell" a little bit! It also has more detailed photos and some of the steps we took to makeover our yard. You can see it here. I hope you will come join me, I'd love to see what kind of project ideas you have for your own backyard oasis! 

Warmly,
Pink and Green Mama, 
MaryLea

DIY Backyard Makeover on a Budget from Pink and Green Mama Blog with HGTVGardens

Brought to you by the gardening crew at HGTV.
All opinions are my own and my husband and I really did re-do our yard all by ourselves
but if anyone from the HGTV crew wants to come help out they're more than welcome!

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