Friday, November 21, 2014

DIY Tic Tac Toe Game–cute, handmade Christmas gift for kids


A couple of months ago I shared how I made Geo-Shape/Rubber Band Boards for my kids. I had left over wood from that project so I created another activity/game the could play with. DIY Tic Tac Toe Game.

Supplies needed:
2 colors of paint (more if you paint the X’S & O’S)
X & O wood letters (I purchased mine from Michael’s for a couple of dollars for each pack)
Shape ’N Tape (found at Joann’s
X-acto knife
Painter’s tape
Mod Podge and Paint Brush (to seal game board and letters after painting and applying tape)

Make your own tic tac toe game

I painted my board black first, then after it dried I used Scotch painter’s tape to create the lines on the board and filled them in with Modern Master’s Pale Gold Metallic Paint.

paint a wood tic tac toe game

After the lines have dried you can use Mod Podge or a water based sealer on the board to seal it and protect your paint job.

I used the Shape ‘N Tape on one side of my wood letters, and an X-acto knife to cute the tape away from the letters and into the shape of the X and O. Once the tape was on the letters I used Mod Podge to seal it to the letters even more.



Happy Crafting!

More Quick Tips for Taking Family Photos


This year was only our second year taking a family photo, and as you can see we have a new addition.  (Read last year’s family photo tips post.) I used all of the same tips I shared last year, but also had to realize that getting ALL of us to look in the camera at one time and produce an epic smiling family photo was NOT going to happen. Going through all 200+ photos during the editing process I decided that it was totally ok that not everyone was looking at the camera. Sometimes those shots, the spontaneous, fun and laughter filled ones were also the ones I liked the most. Because that’s just our family. Those are real life moments and very indicative of how our kids and my husband are.


TIP #1
Don’t completely stress over everyone looking into the camera and smiling. If you have young kids this might not happen. And if it doesn’t happen then it doesn’t mean that you won’t get a good photo. The more stressed you are the more stressed your kids will be, and taking a photo will be that much harder. 

TIP #2
Bribing the kids still works. We promised them frozen yogurt after the pictures were taken, and they were pumped. It also didn’t hurt that during the pictures we talked a lot about it. We’d ask, “What kinds of toppings are you going to get?” or “What flavor will yours be?” and during the actual photos instead of saying “cheese” or “smile” sometimes I would say “Frozen yogurt!” or “We love chocolate!” Anything to get them thinking about the fun afterwards and not about the amount of pictures we were taking.

TIP #3
Keep things light and fun. This is a family photo after all, and if you want to keep your sanity and the affection of your family that day, then don’t get upset if your kids are picking up leaves in between takes, or that their smile isn’t as big or toothy as you wanted it.

TIP #4 Take a lot of photos. You never know which ones you might like the best. Most memory cards can handle a lot of pictures, so keep clicking away. In less than an hour I had taken about 200 photos during our first outing, and the second outing I did (with other family members) we took about 300.

TIP #5Because this is so important, I’m including it again in this post. Remember to take more than just family photos of you and your kids. Take a couples photo, or some of just the kids, or some of one child and one parent. You can always fill in other frames in your house, and if your kids are like mine, they actually really like having photos of themselves or ones with Justin or I with them.


Family photos can be fun, I promise. If you’ve never taken a family photo before, and you follow these tips and the ones from last year, you can get a great photo to put up in your home. And seriously, you will feel like you conquered a previously impossible task, all in less than an hour. We shot family photos twice this year, once with just the five of us, and once with the addition of my mom, dad, and sister, and both times I felt like a rock star for getting good photos and managing to keep anyone from having a breakdown.





And since my husband is obsessed with all of the funny outtakes, he made Flipagram videos of both photo sessions. All of our awkwardness can be seen in these two 15 second videos. You’re Welcome!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Christmas gift idea for your favorite man–plus a giveaway from JORD

This post and giveaway are sponsored by JORD

mens delmar blue JORD watch

I have to confess. I’m so not a giddy-over-Christmas-shopping kind of gal. I have always been a gift card or cash type of giver and receiver. Even as a kid or teen, I’d rather have a gift card or cash as a gift. I like to be in and out of stores, and not waiting in lines. Christmas shopping with kids can be painful, am I right? And sometimes giving gifts to my husband is tough since we do a lot of shopping together, or the kids can’t keep a secret to save their lives. So this year I’m doing all of my Christmas shopping for the guys in my family online.

One of the things I’ve fallen in love with are the wood watches from Jord. Their wood watches are unique, and hand-crafted with sustainable materials from all over the world. Because each watch is made using diverse woods from all over the world, each one shows off various grains and colors of the woods, making each watch one of a kind.

JORD mens delmar blue wood watch

Personally I think that any of the JORD wood watches for women make great accessories for any outfit. But of course lots of men say they don’t need accessories, right? So if your guy has a problem with the word “accessories”, tell him to think of the JORD wood watch as tool for him show off some great style or fashion sense.

mens wood watch from JORD

mens JORD watch with henley boots and dark jeans

The JORD Delmar wood watch in blue is one of my favorite pieces to add to a guy’s look. The dark wood is rich, and the blue face on the time piece is really unique with colors and pattern. Add this watch to any guy’s look and you’ve instantly upped his cool points.

JORD wood watch mens blue delmar

I am giving away a Jord gift certificate worth $149 plus free shipping. Whoever wins will have the chance to choose the watch they want and/or put the gift certificate towards their purchase. So that means one of you is going to be lucky enough to give your favorite guy one of the JORD wood watches this Christmas, or you could totally decide you want a JORD watch for your self.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was provided with watch shown to write an honest review. I was also given the opportunity to host a giveaway for my readers. No other compensation was provided. All opinions in this post are my own and honest of how I feel about the wood watches from JORD.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Easy Corner Gallery Wall–with seasonal inspired Wallternatives

sponsored post button

Wallternatives and easy corner gallery wall 6

I absolutely love this time of year. When people ask what my favorite holidays are I can easily say Thanksgiving or Christmas. I love that people seem happier, more content, and just overall more thankful for the people and things in their lives. It’s easy for me to embrace these two holidays and bring in heartfelt sentiments and seasonal decor into our home.

Wallternatives and easy corner gallery wall 1

I love gallery walls, photo walls, and walls with eclectic artwork or handmade pieces. I like creating cozy, lived in, or well utilized spaces in our home. Especially in our living room, a space that EVERYONE in our home spends most of their time in. I lived with blank walls for so long, not really having a style or knowing how to combine pieces together and like how they made the room feel. Changing my style, getting to know what I liked and what kind of home I wanted to create became easier the more I did it.

To create the corner gallery inspired wall in our living room I used different sizes and colors of frames, and I anchored the space with a recliner and small, rolling tool chest I’m using as a side table.It makes the corner of the room completely usable, and it draws you in, almost inviting you to sit, open a book, and stay a while.

Hanging art or pictures that I love sometimes means I don’t want to change them up, or switch out decor just for the holidays. But I found such an easy way change up the corner gallery inspired wall I created in our living room. With the Wallternatives Black and White Fall Phrases Removable Fabric Decals I was able to bring in some Fall inspiration, and change the walls in our living room without having to pull out photos from their frames, or move the large frames around to create more space for these pretty decals.

Wallternatives and easy corner gallery wall 2

Wallternatives and easy corner gallery wall 3

The Black and White Fall Phrases decals come in two different sizes (small or large), and if you’d prefer to bring in more color into your home these Fall inspired decals also come in color. There are 5 decals in each set, and I can’t wait to put up the Give Thanks one as well.

Wallternatives and easy corner gallery wall 4

The WallPrints™ Fabric Decals from Wallternatives are removable and reusable. You can peel and stick them to any clean, smooth surface and reposition them as needed. Since our walls are very textured I knew that these larger frames would be the perfect surface for the decals to be placed over. You don’t have to remove the prints inside, just make sure the glass on your frame is clean before sticking the decals on and smoothing them out as you go.

Wallternatives and easy corner gallery wall 5

I absolutely love these Fall decals, and I’m hoping you will too. I was sent an extra “BE GRATEFUL” decal, and because I am incredibly grateful for the friends and family in my life, I’m going to be giving it away. I will be hosting the giveaway on my @alwaysnwonder Instagram account. You can find the link to the giveaway picture here.

Disclosure: I was provided a set of Black and White Fall Phrases Removable Fabric Decals to use and give my honest opinion about them on my site.  

Monday, November 3, 2014

Celebrate World Adoption Day

Adoption has always been very close to my heart. I believe in it fully. I believe it can change lives, give second chances, and that people who are worthy and able to give and receive love can do so unconditionally.  I grew up knowing that you didn't have to be related to someone through blood to love them, to call them your daughter or see them as your father.  My dad is the one who helped showed me this by putting it into action. He met my mom when I was already 4 years old, they married and he later adopted me. When I was 15 my parents also adopted my younger sister.  Being married, Justin and I have always felt that adoption is something we are completely open to, should the opportunity come along. We are blessed to know many friends who have added to their families through adoption, and love being able to encourage and pray for them. wants to celebrate just one of the beautiful ways a family can come together. They have created the first World Adoption Day, on November 9, 2014. This will be a day designated to bring awareness and acknowledge the journey many have taken part in. In the first 1,000 days of operating, has helped serve 982 families and raised $4,000,000.

On November 9th, they're inviting friends, family (and the world) to participate in World Adoption Day by posting a photo of themselves with their palm raised high, marked with a smiley face and finished with the hashtag #WorldAdoptionDay.  Join in to celebrate adoption and let’s work together see more children connect with loving homes.

Share about #WorldAdoptionDay with your family and friends using the tweet below before November 9th, and check out the video below for more info.

Help celebrate one way a family can be made w/@WorldAdoptDay. Post your pic   

World Adoption Day from AdoptTogether on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chicken Noodle-Less Soup–paleo, grain free, gluten free

chicken noodle-less soup

I try make healthy meals at home. I’m not a perfect eater/dieter/paleo follower or whatnot, but I do try my best to make our meals at home gluten free, grain free, or paleo as often as I can. Doing this makes me feel better, but it can sometimes be a pain with the kids. They are not on board with the paleo lifestyle or even a grain free one yet. They openly shout their love for grains, and I totally get it. It’s hard asking kids to change their diets after years of eating pasta, bread and other grain/gluten filled foods. Especially when they can’t understand the benefits of eating that way.  So I try not to push them, but I also try to get them to eat meals that have been turned into paleo or grain free ones because I know that they are better for them. 

This Chicken Noodle-Less Soup is just one of those meals. But instead of being mad that it’s missing the noodles, my 5 year old son actually prefers to eat it this way. He loves the chicken, carrots and broth. Months and months ago he asked me to make him a chicken noodle soup without any noodles, and this is what I came up with. Instead of actual noodles I julienned carrots with our mandoline and use them as a substitute. Every bowl is packed with these carrots instead of noodles. And every bowl is delicious.

Carrot noodles Julienned

CHICKEN NOODLE-LESS SOUP – paleo, grain free, gluten free

3 stalks of celery (diced)
1 large white/yellow onion (diced)
10-12 large carrots (peeled & julienne cut with mandoline. *we use this one OXO Mandoline (affiliate link)
3-4 chicken breasts (cut into small pieces)
1-2 teaspoons of garlic powder
2 teaspoons of dried parsley
8 cups of organic chicken broth
2 tablespoons Avocado oil (or you can use olive oil)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a dutch oven or heavy stock pot add the oil, onion, carrots, and celery and cook on medium to medium high heat for 5 min. or so, stirring a few times.
2. Add the chicken, garlic powder, and some salt and pepper. Cook until the chicken looks to be cooked through. (It should only take a few minutes since the pieces are cut small.)
3. Add the chicken broth, the parsley, and a little more salt and pepper. Bring to a low boil, then drop the heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer 20-30 minutes.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pumpkin Pancakes–paleo, grain free, gluten free, dairy free

Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin pancakes have seriously become a favorite of mine this season. Not only do I get to use up the insane amount of roasted pumpkin puree I have in my fridge by making these, I also get to feel like it’s a little more Fall like in our house. Because lord knows when I walk outside it feels more like Summer is never going to end.

These pancakes are bursting with the cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin flavor. Topped with maple syrup they’re perfection. Add some Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips, and your kids will beg for more. Allow them to spread some Barefoot Chocolate Hazelnut spread on them and they’ve got dessert. Any way you make these, they’re bound to make someone happy.

cooking paleo pumpkin pancakes

PUMPKIN PANCAKES – paleo, grain free, gluten free, dairy free

3/4 cup roasted pumpkin puree
6 tablespoons of unsweetened almond milk
3 tablespoons of raw honey
6 eggs
2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil
2 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
1/2 cup of almond flour
1/4 cup of coconut flour
2 rounded teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 rounded teaspoon of baking soda

1. In a small bowl mix together the flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda, and then set aside.
2. In a large bowl whisk together the pumpkin, almond milk, honey, eggs, oil, and vanilla.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and use your whisk to mix them together. If the pancake batter looks a little on the runny side add a tablespoon or two of coconut flour to help thicken it up.
4. Heat up your skillet or griddle to medium. Use coconut oil to coat the pan. Use a 1/4 measuring cup to scoop up your batter and pour it onto your griddle. Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side. The pancakes will bubble up just like regular ones, to help indicate that they’re cooked on the one side.