Friday, April 27, 2012

Essential Swimwear giveaway!

This giveaway is now closed.  See the end of this post for the winner.

Today I'm excited to bring you a giveaway from Essential Swimwear!  And just in time for summer.  My sister Brittney started this company in 2008.  She designs and sells modest, stylish swimming suits, all at a reasonable price.  She is amazing!!


In her own words:

After becoming thoroughly discouraged every season as I searched for the perfect swimsuit, I decided that it didn't exist.  I was frustrated with expensive prices, wrong fits and the hassle of searching online for hours.  Having some sewing experience, the thought came to mind, "Why don't I make my own swimsuit?"

After a lot of trial and error, I was finally able to sew swimsuits that were comfortable, stylish and flattering.  I began making swimsuits for friends and family and soon the word started spreading.

I sold hand-made women's swimsuits for two years and received an overwhelmingly positive response. I gained priceless knowledge as I personally fit hundreds of women.  I was able to discover their needs, wants and insecurities.  With this knowledge I started designing swimsuits and now have them manufactured to keep up with demand and increase quality.  

I hope you enjoy wearing these swimsuits as much as I have enjoyed designing them!

You can visit Essential Swimwear online, via blog and on Facebook.

ES suits

Essential Swimwear offers tankinis, swim skirts and board shorts.  And this year they are also selling one pieces by Albion.  I love how simple and flattering all of the suits are!

This is one of my personal favorites (below): the Cappuccino Ruched Halter Top.  In fact, if you must know, it has already joined my own collection of swimsuits!  I love how the gathered sides and simple design cover up my post pregnancy imperfections... well, some of them :)  And I've already got my eyes set on the Ocean Ruffled Halter Top.  Why do I feel like I never have enough suits??


Today Essential Swimwear is generously giving away a $50 credit towards a suit of your choice!  That would buy you an entire tankini set (top and bottom) from this seasons line.  Or you could use it towards a swim skirt, board shorts, a one piece, or suits from previous seasons... oh, the possibilities!

The Blue Basket readers can also take 10% off their entire purchase at Essential Swimwear from now until Monday, May 7.  Just enter thebluebasket10 at checkout.


Here's how to enter:

Simply "like" Essential Swimwear on Facebook then leave a comment on this post (one entry per person, please).

The giveaway ends Monday at midnight.  Winner will be announced Tuesday morning.  Good luck!

And the winner is...

Alicia!  She said, "What cute suits! I would love to win one of these! Classic and stylish."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day we made a toy using things from our recycling box.  A marble run.  I think making your own toys is almost as fun as playing with them.  I had recently seen a similar idea from Made by Joel and other places on Pinterest and thought it looked like fun.


Ok, so ours isn't neat and clean like Joel's.  But works great nonetheless!  A milk carton, shipping box, macaroni box, toilet paper roll, storage bag box and a juice can were all used in making this beauty.

Marble run

The kids sure enjoyed it!


And Saturday afternoon we took Will on his first hike!  There are some beautiful trails about 15 minutes away from our house and things are just starting to turn green.  Oh how I love spring!  It was so nice to be out in nature and let the kids run free.


Will didn't seem to like the sun in his eyes or the wind on his face.  But he survived.


After the hike we had a little barbeque next to the lake.  As you can see, we were all bundled up because it was FREEZING!  The temperature must have dropped a lot after our hike.  And the wind didn't help.  We were the only crazies there, sipping our hot chocolate and huddling around the grill trying to warm up our hands.


Even though it was cold, it was still nice to be outside enjoying the beauty around us.  Thank you Mother Earth!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Using old clothes to make new clothes

Why do I find it so fun to repurpose old clothing?  To repurpose old anything??  There's just something about turning an old, unused object into something new.  I like the challenge.

I've had this old shirt my mom passed on to me for quite some time.  I did wear it once... but other than that it's been sitting in the back of my closet collecting dust.  It was time I did something with it.


I knew at once I wanted to make another top knot baby hat.  And with the rest of it?  I had been thinking about a baby skirt to match it, and then Dana over at MADE came out with just the tutorial.  The little baby circle skirt.  So so easy!  My kind of project.


Another gift, ready to give to some lucky person having a baby girl :)  Maybe someday I'll be able to make one to keep myself!  Maybe.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lego balloon car races

I got this sweet idea from the blog All for the Boys and knew at once my boys would love it.  Legos, cars, balloons, racing... what isn't to love??


And with Dad off of work (which isn't too often these days), it was that much more fun.


Let the races begin!


I have to take a moment to brag about the car I made... it pretty much WASTED everyone else :)


Monday, April 16, 2012

Encouraging the love

Last fall John played soccer, and I couldn't help but notice something the coach of the team they were playing against was doing.  The coaches stayed on the field since the kids were just learning, and every time one of his players made a goal, this coach would run around to the other players and tell them to go give that person a high five.  During the first few goals, the kids on his team just cheered where they were until their coach came along and told them what to do.  But by the end, the teammates were running down and giving high fives on their own accord and cheering each other on.  I would imagine most of the kids on that team didn't know each other at first, but they had clearly bonded by the end.

I've thought a lot about what this coach was doing for those kids since then.  He was encouraging them to cheer for each other and interact with each other, when they might not have done so on their own.  And I've thought even more about how I can do this for my own kids.  One of the things that makes me the very happiest is to see my kids getting along, loving each other, playing well together and laughing together.  And I want to encourage that behavior as much as possible.  My kids definitely have their moments of fighting, screaming, teasing, name-calling and hitting.  Daily.  But overall, I feel like they really do love each other.


Here are a few things I have done to try to encourage the love:

* Telling each other "bye" and "hi."  Maybe some kids do this on their own, but mine didn't.  And I noticed it when John started going to school.  John would just walk out the door to wait for the bus without saying anything to his brothers, and Dan and Joe would just continue playing.  Sometimes Joe would come outside to see the bus, but still nothing would be said between the two of them when John left.  So I started saying things like, "John, say goodbye to your brothers!" or "Dan and Joe, say goodbye to John!" or "Look who's home!  Say hi to John!"  And sure enough, they are starting to catch on.  It made my heart leap for joy the first time I saw Joe running down the driveway when John got off the bus yelling excitedly, "Hi, John!  Hi John!"

* Helping the kids serve each other.  One really easy way I do this is to have the kids share treats or snacks that I give them with each other.  For example, if we're having cookies for an afternoon snack I can call Dan over and say, "Go give one of these to John and one to Joe."  Then even though it's me who got the cookies for them, Dan gets to feel like he's serving his brothers, and John and Joe think Dan's being really nice to share those cookies.

* Helping the kids feel like they have some ownership of their baby brother.  My babies have never been off limits to their older brothers.  I think I would go crazy trying to keep little hands off of the babies.  Rather, I have tried to encourage gentle touch (I guess this may not work for all children... you may have to set some boundaries).  When Will is awake and at his happiest I'll ask the kids if anyone wants to hold him.  Dan especially loves to hold his baby brother, and will sit on the couch with him for up to 15 minutes sometimes.  Just talking to him and looking at him.  Will isn't just mine.  He's all of ours.

*Having the older kids help the younger kids.  This is win win win.  The older child gets to show that they know how to do something, the younger kid gets helped by his older brother, and I don't have to help :)  Putting on shoes or socks, getting some water, opening a door, cleaning up a spill, getting out a toy, or putting a binkie in a mouth, to name a few.

* Teaching by example.  Probably the most important.  Yet sometimes the hardest.  All the time I find the kids talking exactly like me.  And that's not always a good thing.  My hugs and kisses, tone of voice, service, patience or the lack thereof does not go unnoticed.  Kids truly learn by example.

* Saying "I love you."  I think we first encouraged the kids to say "I love you" to each other before going to bed one night.  It's not a routine thing, but every once in a while those sweet words will be said before going to bed or at any time of the day.  A little while back, John and Dan were coloring next to each other, and out of no where Dan said, "I love you, John." And John said back, "I love you, Dan."  Music to my ears.

Do you have things you do to help encourage the love?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Top knot baby hat and matching onesie

Well, now that I've got a baby in the house again, a lot of my crafts and projects might reflect that...
so here we go!

I have quite a few friends/family having baby girls soon and have been wanting to make something for them.  I was at a cute boutique last week that sold every baby item you can imagine, and saw these hats there.  For $12 each!  I immediately knew I had to try to make them.  When I got home I found a free tutorial and pattern online (at Prudent Baby), grabbed a couple DownEast shirts that I never wear because I don't love the colors on me, and got to work.

And they proved to be as easy as they look!  I decided to make a matching onesie by sewing a flower on that I made with the same material.  I cut out 4 circles, folded them in half, overlapped them, then sewed a button in the center.  (Try to forget the fact that I don't have any girl models around here... sorry Will!) 


Homemade (and very inexpensive!) gifts all ready to go.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Onesie face lift

Since I haven't done too many projects of my own these last couple weeks, I thought I'd share someone else's. My sister-in-law gave us these onesies when we had Will. Such a fun and easy gift idea! And all you need are some onesies, scraps of fabric and Heat N Bond Iron-On Adhesive. No sewing machine required.

IMG_5096Here are some tutorials I found online:

DIY Iron-On Onesies @ Tatum Family
DIY Iron-On Transfers For Onesies @ Wee Baby Stuff
Baby Shower Onesie Craft @ Mommyinthemountains—this woman made these onesies at a baby shower... cute idea!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Hanging paper organizer

I have recently been brainstorming ideas of what to do with all the clutter that accumulates on our kitchen counter.  It drives me crazy.  Mail, receipts, projects the kids and I are working on, papers Pete brings home from work, keys, phones, magazines, bills... it all seems to pile up in one place.  And we don't have much counter space as it is.  So I came up with this hanging organizer to hold the kids papers, coloring sheets, and anything they're working on at the moment.  (This obviously doesn't solve all of my kitchen counter clutter problems... but it's a start).


I'm sure you can buy something like this at a pretty low price.  But I have a hard time spending money on something that I can make using things I already have.  So I hot glued together foam core, then covered it with paper from a brown paper bag and a few pieces of scrapbook paper.  I hung it at the kids level so they can easily access their folders.  And yes, it is right in our dining/kitchen area.  I knew if I put it anywhere else it wouldn't be used.


Now I just need to make one of these for all of my papers!
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