Recording Your Baby’s First Experiences

Year of Firsts chalkboard picture gallery. Easy and cheap way to display all your baby's first experiences for their first birthday!Lately I’ve received many emails asking about the ‘year of firsts’ chalkboard picture gallery I made for Lily’s first birthday party. Out of all the DIY projects the ‘year of firsts’ was the easiest! I had a few pictures scattered around the party; however, this was a great way to display pictures and memories without it being picture overload!

The chalkboard was an old mirror that I painted with chalk paint (read about that tutorial here). Looking through the pictures on my computer I made a list of all the “firsts” I managed to capture on film.

First cry, smile, hair bow, tutu, roll, food and bath. First trip to the zoo and the aquarium. Her first football season in which she supported ASU & PITT. Her first holiday season, plane trip, international trip and first time with her toes in the sand.

I printed the pictures and attached them to the chalkboard with double-sided tape. To label the pictures I used different colored chalk pens (found online or at your local Joann’s).

And that is it! See how easy peasy that was!

Her first birthday was a bunting theme and I included a bunting near the food display of monthly pictures I had taken. My mom took pictures of my brother and me in the same chair so it was pretty cool to see how big we got in comparison to the same chair. I did the same thing with Lily for the first 12 months using the glider in her room and making her hold a pink sock monkey my mom gave her. This was also an easy and cheap project.

Photo bunting for your baby's first birthday. Take pictures each month of your baby in the same spot or chair so you can see how big they have grown. hang these pictures on a bunting for a cheap and sweet decoration for a first birthday! If you don’t have a chalkboard you can purchase large black paper boards from Joann’s or Michaels. Attach the pictures and use chalk pens to give the illusion of a chalkboard! For a small change you could label the display a ‘year of memories’ and display your favorite pictures from that year instead! I might be doing this for Lily’s second birthday!

The ‘year of firsts’ chalkboard gallery was a fun project to create, but I did tear up thinking of how fast she had grown in those first twelve months. Crazy to think I only have 4 more months until her second birthday.

Read more about her sweet bunting themed first birthday here and here!

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  1. Elizabeth commented:
    March 9, 2013 Reply

    Where did you get that pink map? I must have it!

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  1. […] using chalkboard paint – one showing Matteo’s Firsts (I found that really cool idea here), and the other showing some cool facts (I had seen something similar on Etsy, but decided to […]

  2. […] 3. Decorate with pictures of all of the firsts! […]

  3. By Top 13 Baby Scrapbook Ideas – Tacky Living on January 5, 2016 at 4:16 pm

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Bathroom & Kitchen Makeover Completion!

Finally posting pictures from our kitchen & makeover!

This was no easy experience and I’m not sure why I thought it would be. It took time to finally pin point our counter, light and mirror choices and it took just as long to finally be able to say “makeover is complete.”

I usually always prep my mind that something will go wrong with any big event (ie. My wedding, pregnancy, birth, family trips ect). I don’t view this as a pestimistic outlook but more of a realist view. This way of thinking helps me stay chill if and when something does go haywire. Guess I was just way too excited about the makeover and side tracked about having a super sick toddler to even set myself up for possible complications. And we had a bunch of them.

After the countertop installers left I drove over to check it out and I was shocked at how they did their job. There was missing gaps in the clear sealant around the sinks. Messy application of white caulk in both bathrooms and the kitchen. Since the kitchen island is large there was a seal where two pieces had to come together, which I was totally okay with. However there was a chip on the seal and the installers filled it with colored glue that didn’t blend with the color. The absolute worst part was the holes that they drilled for the faucets in both bathrooms. The holes were made a little off center so the faucets didn’t line up with the drain. From the little detail of caulk to huge miss-alignment of the sinks and faucets I was more than upset. I hated to call and complain, but we spent a lot of money on this project. The plumber was scheduled to be at the house first thing in the morning so we pushed that back so the counters could be re-worked on.

Luckily everything was fixed, even the sinks. The installers just shaved down the holes so the faucet could shimmy to the left a smidge. The only problem that is still not fixed is the insta-hot fixture in the kitchen. The installers misplaced a piece from the fixture and the plumber was not able to fix it. We are working with them to purchase a replacement.

Our biggest problem, yes there was another hiccup, had to do with the people we hired for some fixes in the bathrooms. I explained in my last post about the make-over (read here) that we were taking down the light fixture in the master and moving it to the guest bath. We were also taking down the master’s mirror and replacing it with two separate mirrors and lights.  Mike and I were able to remove the master’s mirror with little damage to the drywall. To save money we hired a handyman for the electrical work and drywall repair. We used a referral from someone else that worked on our condo in South Tampa. We still own Mike’s bachelor pad because of the horrible housing market, so we have been renting it out. We hired the same handyman for repairs to the condo as well.

Sadly the handyman did some work and skipped town. Yep. The drywall was almost done at our house and he had to come back to just do a few touchups {so we were told}. Mike was given an invoice for our house and for the work at the condo to which they already started. Being too trusting Mike paid him for both jobs. We finally got a hold of the guy and we are in the midst of trying to get money back….what a headache.

A positive spin…Kevin our painter…yes we hired a painter. With tall vaulted ceilings and being tired from painting the bathroom we hired Kevin who has painted for us previously. This guy is amazing. During the whole process Kevin let us know that he was able to help out with the leftover repairs at our house and the condo. He swooped in and saved the day by making the changes so new renters could move in and we could finally say “makeover complete”.

So we are finally done and now you know why it has taken so long to show y’all! Here are the before and afters!



denmakeoverbtw the blue tape on the wall above were markers where I installed shelves I made (that DIY project coming soon!)

kitchenmakeroverbeforeWe were thinking of painting out kitchen cabinets cream, but we are going to keep them the way they are. Please excuse the mess I left on the kitchen chairs and couch…I took advantage of nap time to snap these!

It may not look like a completely new kitchen, but it feels that way with the paint color alone. We choose Shaker Beige from Benjamin Moore and the lighter color really makes our home feel bright and more open. We continued with the same color into the master bedroom because we liked it that much!

kitchensinkmakeoverMy camera’s battery decided to die so I didn’t get really great clear images of the sink, my apologies. For the pictures of the bedroom, Lily was up from her nap and this was the best picture I got and Bentley’s placement wasn’t planned either!

bedroommakeoverI swapped out the linen drapes for plain white ones to help lighten the mood along with the paint. We updated the lamps to porcelain blue lamp shades from Pottery Barn to go with our DIY fabric headboard and our Malika rug that also is from P.B. I purchased two matching white pillow shams {that have our monogramed stitched on} and saved the old ones that match the lumbar pillow. Unfortunately Pottery Barn doesn’t have any lumbar pillow covers that fit this style of pillow…so I’m waiting until they do or I find one from somewhere else. We finally put a plain white bed skirt on to finish our all white bed {all linens from Pottery Barn- yes I love that store!}. For our DIY fabric headboard we made read here for the tutorial.

Now for the master bath. Mike was so proud to remove the mirror…




bathroomsinkremodleRemember to read my last post regarding our makeover….there are more details on which fixtures we got and where to buy them! Read that post here.

romanotubmakeoverFor our roman tub we lucked out by only replacing the handles!

bathrromwallWe are loving all the changes! All we are waiting on is the new insta-hot water fixture for the kitchen and painting our bathroom cabinets white. Yep we are going to take on that job….but we are going to wait and enjoy this no-project period! And for a laugh below is an example of all the other pictures that I took of our bedroom when Lily woke up from a nap. It was impossible.

bedroomfinalCheckout the other posts from our makeover Here and Here.

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  1. Joyce commented:
    February 28, 2013 Reply

    Great job on the kitchen. Love the color. Looking forward to seeing all of you and all of the changes. Love you.

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  1. By Lily & Bliss | DIY Laundry Shelf on March 5, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    […] our chaotic kitchen and bathroom makeover I got the itch to redecorate or make changes to every other room. We spend the majority of our day […]

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10 Tips: On Honey

10 tips on how to measure, store and use honey to fight pimples and make your hair more luxurious!I LOVE honey. One of my favorite snacks is spreading some peanut butter on bread, adding slices of banana and drizzling honey on top. Mmmmm. Sometimes when my evil sweet tooth is throbbing I will grab a scoop of peanut butter and drizzle honey over it. It’s one of those you close your eyes as you enjoy it moments. My skin is super sensitive and I have applied a mixture of honey and milk to calm irritated red spots. Honey should always be readily available for a slew of reasons! Today I bring you 10 tips on how to measure, store and use honey to fight pimples and make your hair more luxurious!

1. Give your measuring cups a light coat of cooking spray before you measure honey. The cooking spray will make the honey pour out easily and you won’t have a sticky mess. I spray my spatula too!!

2.To properly store your honey keep your honey in an air-tight container, away from direct sunlight and in a cool cabinet or pantry. I would advise not placing your honey in your refrigerator, as it will make it harder to handle.

3. Don’t be worried if your honey gets a cloudy look, which is just a process called crystallization. To liquefy your honey, place your jar in a bowl of warm water and stir. Make sure you do not over heat the honey as the heat can manipulate the color and taste of the honey.

4. To keep your pantry or cabinet shelves free of sticky drops of honey, place your honey and any other jars/bottles that drip on a small baking pan. You can take the pan out for an easier clean up!

5. My friend Dusty told me about this one: if you are having difficulties with allergies, find a store that sells honey made from local hives. The bees made honey from the pollen that may be giving you hives, red eyes or a stuffy nose. The old wise tell is that if you take a small spoonful of this local honey your body will get used to the allergens. Now ain’t that sweet!!

6. Honey is a natural antibiotic. If you can’t find Neosporin just dab a little honey on your boo-boo before applying a Band-Aid. {Insert funny Honey Boo-Boo joke here}

7. Here’s a sweet mask for healthier hair: mix ½ cup of honey with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Apply this to your hair from the scalp to the tips and place a shower cap over. Let this sweet mask sit for about thirty minutes before washing your hair.

8. Have dry skin? Place ¼ to ½ cup of honey to a warm bath. Smells great and leaves your skin feeling silky.

9. Honey has natural antioxidants, helps fight pimples and moisturizes skin. It also helps those with super sensitive skin. Apply some honey to a clean face and allow it to dry (about 15 minutes). Wash it off with warm water and splash some cold water after to close your pores.

10. Sore throat? Add about 2 teaspoons of honey and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to a cup of hot water. Drink to let it soothe your throat.

Be sure to check out 10 awesome tips on lemons & onions!

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Keeping Her Busy: Sprinkler Fun

Keeping your toddler busy: sprinklers! Target has some cheap sprinkler heads that you attach to your hose that will keep your toddler busy and bring you tons of laughs!Warm winters in Florida allow us to visit the beach and run through sprinklers. This weekend we visited Honeymoon Island, a beautiful state park with walking trails and a beach devoted to the furry four legged pets. It was overcast, windy and 70 degrees…yet you would think it was in the 30’s due to the number of jackets on the beach goers.

Lily chased the seagulls who then perched right next to us waiting to steal the crackers in her fingers. We named one of the birds Lefty for the missing right webbed foot. Lefty had some guts. That bird hovered inches above us in hopes for a snack. Mike spent a majority of snack time scaring off the feathered beggars. When it came to the ocean, Lily wasn’t having it. Mike would stand at the foot of the cold water and with each rolling wave Lily would run in the opposite direction with her hands in the air.

I have countless memories from my childhood running through sprinklers. I hit the jackpot in Target last week when I discovered three super cheap sprinkler heads.  There was an adorable white flower fountain head, a spinning one and the classic long rectangle sprinkler that sways back and forth. Currently our pool is freezing so we broke out the hose and tried the sprinklers for a morning full of fun.

sprinklerLike most activities Lily was apprehensive of the fountain. As soon as she would feel droplets of water she would high tail it away just like she did at the beach.

sprinkler1Mike decided to rip off the Band-Aid by running Lily back and forth through the water…

sprinkler3I think she liked it!

She grew the confidence and did it all by herself.

sprinkler2She was having so much fun she just let the water rain down on her.

sprinkler4Mike received a few shots to the face when he changed the sprinkler heads…I might have enjoyed those moments a little too much!

sprinkler5We turned the water down low so the tiniest fountain formed. Lily hovered over, waved her hands in the water and would attempt to grab the water. This grabbing movement looked like little crab gestures. I could have sat in the chair for hours watching her.

These cheap Target sprinkler heads are gold in my book. They’re going to provide Lily hours of entertainment and plenty of memories…



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  1. Jen commented:
    February 25, 2013 Reply

    You are a fabulous Mommy! Lily is getting so big!!! Miss you guys! xoxo

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Cake Box Cookies

Cake Box Cookies! Use the basic recipe listed and any box of cake mix to make any kind of cookie. Then add in chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, chopped nuts, coconut, chopped peppermint, raisins or Heath Bits...the cookie combinations are endless!Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat cake!”

My sweet tooth whispers, “EAT a cake, cupcake, cookie….heck just give me a handful of chocolate chips please….”.

My sweet tooth is dangerous. That tooth throbs all the time and is one of the main factors why I gained 60+ lbs during my pregnancy. EEEeeek I think that might be the first time I admitted on my blog how much I gained. A positive…I only have 9 more pounds to lose. Oh it has only taken me almost 2 years to loose, but putting on the weight was so much fun.

BUT I’m still posting about desserts because even as I was trying to loose the baby weight…I indulged. Taking sugary treats completely out of my diet has never resulted in a positive weight loss for me personally. Doing that would only lead to crash dieting by purchasing three cupcakes and eating two of them on the way home.

I’m telling you my sweet tooth is evil.

Today I bring you a sweet little secret for all you cake lovers. You can make the most delicious cookies from a box of cake mix. How awesome is that! I love semi-homemade recipes and finding one for a dessert makes me giddy! Sally’s Baking Addiction is one of my favorite blogs for desserts. It’s a website you will want to bookmark people. I use the recipe she used for confetti cake batter cookies and just sub out my mix, extract and other extras depending on the cookie I am trying to make!

You can use pretty much any kind of cake mix with nuts, assorted chocolate chips, health bits, coconut, chopped peppermint, butterscotch chips, mini marshmallows, raisins….the possibilities are endless.

The basis is always the same. Depending on what cookie you are going for instead of using vanilla extract you could use almond, butter, lemon….you get the picture. You could omit it, if you want…but I always like to add vanilla or almond to all my desserts if I can!

So have fun experimenting on making cookies and enjoy!

Cake Box Cookies

1 box of cake mix (18.25 ounces)
2 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp vanilla extract

Add 1 to 1 ¼ cup of your choice of toppings: nuts, milk/dark/white chocolate chips, health bits (more options above!)

  • Preheat oven to 350 and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Mix the first 5 ingredients until the dough forms.
  • Mix in your cookie’s “toppings”.
  • Measure out 2 tbsp of dough to roll into a cookie ball and place on the parchment lined sheets.
  • Bake for 10 minutes. Your cookies will look undercooked, but take them out. If they are still puffy, take your oven mitt and lightly pat down the cookie. Let them cool for a few minutes and then you can lift the parchment paper (with cookies on) off the cookie tray and on the counter or rack. Allow for the cookies to cool for a few more minutes.

Cake Box Cookies! Use the basic recipe listed and any box of cake mix to make any kind of cookie. Then add in chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, chopped nuts, coconut, chopped peppermint, raisins or Heath Bits…the cookie combinations are endless!On Valentine’s Day I used strawberry cake mix and white chocolate chips. Here are some other ideas:

Devils food mix with chopped walnuts and chocolate chips
Butter Pecan mix with Health bits
Red Velvet mix with powdered sugar icing drizzled over

Is your sweet tooth talking?? Do you have any ideas??

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  1. Tamara commented:
    February 21, 2013 Reply

    LOVE this.

    PS- what are your fav cupcake establishments in Tampa/St. Pete/this area? This pregnancy I crave sweets after dinner soooooooooooooooooo much and would love a good cupcake or two…or three. I’m the type to eat one or two in the car on the way home too-pregnant or not! 🙂

    • Amy Romano commented:
      February 22, 2013 Reply

      I LOVE The Cupcake Spot! they have a place in St. Pete and south tampa (s. macdill across from Plant High school). My favorite is their strawberry cake with strawberry icing- I believe it’s called berry squared… The chocolate elvis & the buckeye are my second favs! Is it a problem that I actually know the names??

  2. Christina commented:
    February 22, 2013 Reply

    I love these cookies!!! Just did a post about them recently myself 🙂 gotta love some semi-homemade baking when you have the little ones!!


  3. Sally commented:
    February 22, 2013 Reply

    You are so sweet! I’m so glad you enjoy my website. 🙂 These look wonderful! I love using cake mix because it’s so convenient!

  4. Kimberly Romano commented:
    February 25, 2013 Reply

    Oh yes….I found this idea/recipe on Pinterest a while ago….they are the best cookies ever! I did the strawberry cake cookies for v-day and made some homemade icing….they made fabulous cookie sandwiches!

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  1. By Lily & Bliss | Valentine Roundup on April 28, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    […] For something sweet try making the delicious pink and white cookies that are so easy to make! Check out the post all about these cake box cookies for a tasty treat HERE! […]

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Cute Hardware Trumps Goldfish Crackers

{Today is a day to vent…no tips…just a peak into yesterday’s fun trip to Hobby Lobby with a toddler}

You know those moments when you say to yourself “Nope….don’t do it. Do it another day…” But then another little voice inside says “Go for it…you know you wanna…

That internal conversation played out in my head yesterday and I decided to go for it. Quite frankly I should have listened to my initial thought and stuck to some easier errands for a Monday. But are there really any easy errands when you have a toddler???

A simple craft for my laundry room quickly flipped into a mini-makeover. The changes I’ve made to our kitchen and master bath (final post is coming soon- my camera broke!), have lead me on a let’s-make-changes-to-EVERY-room spree.

My internal conversation drummed up because I wanted to go to Hobby Lobby to purchase some cute cabinet hardware for the laundry room. The problem was that the store was over 40 minutes away. Knowing that I get a little carried away in craft stores with time and money, I started my attempts to talk myself out of going.

Amy, just go to the grocery store. Finish organizing the clutter in the dining room…

BLEH…shopping for cute hardware trumps shopping for Goldfish crackers…so off to Hobby Lobby we went.

Within five minutes from entering the sliding entrance doors Lily began her toddler whines. I thought she would be excited to finally be out of her car seat and entering a new store filled with eye candy. Well the last thing she wanted was to be strapped into that shopping cart. So for the next 30 minutes Lily began a toddler strike while I tried to quickly peruse the isles for door knobs, cheap white frames, and other home décor.

Her first dramatic whales were quickly calmed with some crackers. When the Goldfish weren’t cutting it I forked over my cell phone so she could talk to Elmo, watch Mickey Mouse and play animal sounds. Each time her tantrums would dwindle by giving her something new to play with and my inner self would saw phew and wipe the sweat beads starting to form on the forehead.

Nothing was going to keep her happy until she was freed from the belt restricting her from standing up and jumping off the shopping cart (she almost did that once in the grocery store & I about died).

After hucking my phone to the ground a few times, purposely spilling her yogurt raisins somewhere in the Easter isle and finally spitting out her cheese stick twice on the ground (I might have ignored the raisins, but I picked up the have eaten mozzarella) I rushed to the checkout. The man in front of me pointed to the next stand that just opened and I was blown away by the courtesy. He assured me that as a retiree he had all the time in the world and I could go first. Proof that southern manners do exist south of the Florida panhandle!

While unloading my awesome goods I felt a light tap on my arm. I was a sweaty hot mess and I thought it was going to be a store manager telling me I left a nice mess in the Easter isle. Nope, it was the sweetest old woman offering up a 40% off coupon. Oh I wanted to hug her. I must have turned around 5 times to repeat my gratitude. On the sixth time she had moved to the quicker checkout line because I had obviously purchased too much stuff.

Lily continued to say her favorite word “Hi” to the store clerk until her gaze caught the big lollipop stand on the counter which led her to her final tantrum. Remembering I had a strawberry dum-dum in my side pocket I reached in and pulled it out. Taking out my wallet I looked up to meet the eyes of a woman who was obviously judging that I had just given my almost two year old sugar on a stick after a 3 second tantrum. That inner voice wanted to unleash on that woman, but I killed the moment with kindness and flashed a smile.

The crazy experience wasn’t over just yet. Unzipping my wallet I began to panic when my debit card was M.I.A. I could feel the warmth in my face as my cheeks turned red. I could feel sweat start to trickle down my back while You have GOT to be kidding me repeated over and over in my head. Luckily I had made a return to Target a few days ago and received just enough cash to make my purchase at Hobby Lobby. I never carry cash on me. I swipe the plastic for all purchases.

That strawberry dum-dum and an episode of Barney on the iPad got me all the way home with not one whine or whimper for another sugar treat. After putting Lily down for a much needed nap my little inner voice spoke…

“Look…you got home with more than you needed from Hobby Lobby…
A sweet old man and lady showed you that there are still sweet, thoughtful and generous people amongst those that will judge you for giving your kid sugar on a stick…
You were given a coupon so you saved money (even though you purchased a few items that weren’t on the list…
AND you found your debit card hiding in your pocket from your stop at the gas station…”

I might not have agreed with the next statement after I got home from Hobby Lobby, however a few hours later and dinner out leads me to agree with the inner voice and think about the positives from today’s chaos. So like I said before shopping for cute hardware trumps shopping for Goldfish crackers.

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  1. Nancy commented:
    February 19, 2013 Reply

    Sounds like quite the adventure! And I agree, much more fun than the grocery store. So jealous, Boston area or New England for that matter do not have Hobby Lobby’s. Have a great week, can’t wait to see all the pictures of the house.

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DIY Chalk Planter

DIY Chalk Planter. Use chalk paint on cheap clay planters and label it with the flower or herb you place inside! Cute idea for a house warming or hostess gift!Since transforming a huge mirror into our kitchen chalkboard I have barely used the leftover chalk paint on a few tiny projects. The cool thing about chalk paint is that you use such a small amount to cover large surfaces, leaving you with plenty of paint for future projects.

I purchased Rust-Oleum’ s 30 fl. oz. black flat chalkboard paint at Home Depot for around $10.  Only 2 ounces shy of 1 quart, you still have plenty of paint for multiple projects! BTW, 1 quart can cover around 100 square feet. So $10 might seem expensive for a small amount, however you will get a LOT of use out of that little can!

Glancing over West Elm’s new market catalog I loved their chalkboard planters ranging in a variety of sizes from $6 to $18. Sadly I do not have a West Elm near me…but that is probably better for my wallet and Mike! Having plenty of leftover chalk paint I headed to Lowes and purchased an 8” clay pot ($3.97) and matching clay saucer ($2.57) for $7 with tax. The West Elm 8” pot is $18 and with tax and shipping it would be silly for me to purchase it when making one would only be $7 bucks!!

DIY Chalk Planter. Use chalk paint on cheap clay planters and label it with the flower or herb you place inside! Cute idea for a house warming or hostess gift!Laying out some parchment paper under my clay pieces, I gave them one coat of paint. Chalk paint dries pretty quickly for touch, but you have to wait 4 hours until you can apply another coat. Turning the pot over I went in about an inch to where the soil would reach. Once it was dry I popped in a beautiful Hyacinth plant.

I used my chalk pens to label the front and on the back I added notes for the plant’s sun and water instructions. Lily loves to take the little instruction card that is inserted in the soil. I keep mine as a reminder on water, spacing (if I want to add other herbs/flowers to the same pot) and sunlight instructions. Now if Lily decides to take the plant’s  card I will have the instructions right there on the pot!

So here is a great splurge or save option. West Elm’s option at over $20 or my very own DIY chalk planter at $7! Now of course if you have a West Elm nearby and you don’t already have chalk paint you can save $ on shipping & paint and purchase theirs. BUT even if you save on shipping, you can still do this easy DIY chalk project and come out on top! WHY? Because like I said you will be able to use that $10 chalk paint on multiple future projects!

Another idea: Don’t paint the entire clay planter, only paint a small square on the side. Plant a flower or herb, like basil, and take a piece of chalk to label the square. Gift the pretty planter to a friend, grandma or your child’s teacher. I gifted Basil to two of my girlfriends who were testing out their cooking skills!

Tip: While waiting for each coat of paint to dry, wrap your paintbrush or roller in some foil. This will keep the brush/roller from drying out. Unwrap and dip in your paint and brush or roll on!

Another tip: Clay pots tend to soak up more water than other planters so keep that in mind when watering your basil or hyacinth plant!

DIY Chalk Planter. Use chalk paint on cheap clay planters and label it with the flower or herb you place inside! Cute idea for a house warming or hostess gift!

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  1. Nancy commented:
    February 19, 2013 Reply

    Love this idea! Like you I have a can of the chalk paint just sitting there. These will make cute little spring gifts for some friends at work. Thanks for sharing and inspiring.

    • Amy Romano commented:
      February 19, 2013 Reply

      Thanks Nancy! That can of chalk paint was starring at me for months and I’m glad I finally put it to use!

  2. Elizabeth commented:
    February 19, 2013 Reply

    so cute! I made something similar for ella’s pre-K teachers last year. I love chalkboard paint too!

    • Amy Romano commented:
      February 19, 2013 Reply

      Thanks Elizabeth! I’m sure Ella’s teacher loved it!

  3. Christina commented:
    February 20, 2013 Reply

    Very cute! Just bought our first can of chalkboard paint so I am very excited for all the projects!! I found your blog from my bestie over at One Social Brunette! Glad to find some great local bloggers!! Love your blog 🙂


    • Amy Romano commented:
      February 22, 2013 Reply

      Thanks Christina! Yay to Tampa Bloggers! I love the design of your blog and your kids are adorable!!

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Healthy Banana Oatmeal Muffins

Healthy Banana Oatmeal Muffins. Simple...tasty...and toddler approved! Plus it's made with no flour ;)You want a healthy breakfast option? Need a recipe for those ripe bananas on your counter? Have a picky toddler? Like oatmeal?

If you answered yes to any of these this then I have  recipe for you!

Like most amazing DIY projects, home decor and recipes I found this one off Pinterest. It hails from a blog called Chase and Em. I made a few changes and used egg whites instead (well I was actually out of eggs and used what I had!). I’m a big fan of Crock Pots because you dump your ingredients and the machine does the cooking for you. I have the same love for food processors too. More powerful and larger than a blender, food processors make cooking easy. Shredding, blending, pureeing, mincing, slicing and chopping. Pop a can of peanuts in your food processor and blend for 5 minutes and you have your very own peanut butter (read more about that here).

In this recipe you toss all your ingredients in the food processor and let the machine blend it and pour straight into your muffin tins. Easy clean up too.

Picky toddler? I have one and she approves this recipe!! These muffins use honey and the natural sweet taste of ripe bananas for the delicious taste! I made these twice. The first time I split the batter in two adding chocolate chips to one and chopped pecans to the other. Lily went crazy for the chocolate ones. I used white chocolate chips another time and it just wasnt’ the same as the first batch. When I ate these last time I paired it with some fresh blueberries and it was delish. Next time I make these I might throw some berries into the batter!


Healthy Banana Oatmeal Muffins

2 1/2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1 cup greek yogurt
1/3 cup egg whites
1/2 cup honey
2 ripe bananas
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray muffin tin with cooking spray.

Place all the ingredients into the food processor and blend until smooth.

Separate mixture into bowls to add chocolate chips or nuts.  OR you can pour the batter straight into the muffin tins!

Bake for 15-18 minutes (or until it passes the toothpick test) and cool muffins on rack.

Healthy Banana Oatmeal Muffins that are toddler approved!

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  1. cookingmommy commented:
    May 16, 2014 Reply

    This recipe is absolutely delicious and I must try it, I like that you used egg whites, I am going to do the same thing. Your daughter is absolutely adorable! I am going to do this recipe and pack it with blueberries, I will serve it as a snack for our dieting group on Saturday. Blueberries cause fat loss

    • Amy Romano commented:
      June 18, 2014 Reply

      Thanks!!! The blueberries would taste great with this:)

  2. Meghan commented:
    May 24, 2014 Reply

    Can you freeze these? What if you do not have greek yogurt?

  3. Reanna commented:
    September 7, 2014 Reply

    Although I had to do some substitutions because of what I had on hand, this turned out really good, considering how simple it is. I liked using the food processor to make the batter smoother. My kids have given it their approval, too!

  4. Reanna commented:
    September 14, 2014 Reply

    This was great! Putting the batter into a good processor gave it a smooth texture and kept it moist. I will definitely be making these again!

    • Amy Romano commented:
      September 15, 2014 Reply

      Glad you and your kiddos liked them! They are so easy & delish:)

  5. Theresa commented:
    January 14, 2015 Reply

    Any ideas for a substitution for greek your for lactose intolerance? Thanks for any suggestions

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Keeping Her Busy: Sand & Jello

Dirt, sand and puppy dog tails are things that my little girl goes wild for!

Lily loves our dog Bentley and lately she has been getting a little too rough with him. That dog gives Lily great exercise running by around the couches and kitchen island. Sadly, Lily just doesn’t understand that Bentley is trying to get away from her! When she is able to some how corner Bentley she clamps her hands on his hair…and when he tries to flee Lily ends up with wads of his hair in her hand. Poor dog! The concept of “being gentle” is completely lost to my child. I’m sure Bentley hopes that she learns that concept soon!

playingdirtBesides having a field day with our dog’s tail she has grown very fond over my planters in the backyard. One planter was awaiting some new herbs when Lily decided that it was her new sand box. At first I tried to tell her “no” and explain it was momma’s, but I felt I was wasting my breath. I mean who cares if she digs in dirt right? What’s the harm in letting her explore when. Well her exploration has gotten a tad out of hand and I have a huge mess.

playwithdirt2At first Lily liked to take a shovel and transfer soil to a sand pail. She would dump the pail back into the planter and start the soil transfer again…and again! Lily grew tired of this and that’s when she started pouring soil on the pavers. Feeling frisky she began flinging the soil. One day she brazenly walked up in front of me and dumped soil over Bentley’s white fur. That poor dog! I realized that this child needed a sandbox where she could dig and pour her little toddler heart out. Dig and pour sand, not black dirt!

{And yes if you are a regular reader my horrible black thumb striked again, killed my two basil plants & my cilantro and my other plants & herbs are barely alive. Good thing those awesome herbs at Lowe’s are cheap and easy to plant. (Read here for explanation!)}

I was all set on making my own sandbox for her when yesterday my mom showed up with a huge green frog sandbox and a few bags of white play sand. LOVE my mom!!! Today I let Lily go to town in her new box. Lily stayed on the outside feeling the sand and moving it around with some cheap sand toys I purchased at Target.

playingwithdirt3Then she started to scoop out the sand and empty it on to the pavers. Surprise! I tried to tell her and show her where she needed to keep the sand….but this kid continued to scoop and pour her sand outside of the frog box.

I decided to put her in the box and see what she would do. I was nervous because typically Lily has a texture issue with objects rubbing against her feet. I started to make a game out of burying my hands and then her feet under the sand and then popping them out. She thought I was so silly.

This sand box is wonderful. I can sit in a chair under an umbrella and watch her delight in this new play. The weather has been gorgeous lately in Tampa, so relaxing in a chair outside while she stays busy in the sandbox is a nice little break during the day!

playingwithdirt4Even sitting in the box she started to pour the sand out of the box. She even stood up and started to kick sand out like a dog does to cover up their potty spot.

playingwithdirt5As we made our way inside Lily stopped at her original sandbox and continued her “soil dump”! I need to break out the leaf blower for a speedy cleanup.

Now if you live anywhere in the U.S. that isn’t experiencing this Florida warmth you can still let your kids have fun with sand…just place a sand box in the garage! Garages are meant to get dirty anyways, right?! And FYI Mike and I would LOVE to live somewhere where Lily could experience snow…one day…you never know! If you live in a warmer climate you can still give your kid a sand box without the expense of purchasing a frog box (thanks again mom). Head to Target or Walmart and purchase a big Tupperware container used to store clothes under a bed. I think Target sells options under $20! While you’re at Target in their outdoor toy isle they sell tons of super cheap sand toys…I’m talking $1 shovels! Or break some cups and bowls out of your pantry for free!!! Or you can get a baby pool and poor sand in that. I purchased one a while back for $8 from Babies-R-Us.

After Lily woke up from her nap I was super excited for playtime. Why??? Because I had a huge bowl of Jell-O waiting for her to play in. Yes I said play in! Using two small boxes, I made Jell-O and poured it into a foil casserole baking dish. Before placing it into the fridge to set, I dropped objects inside. Objects included (most found at the dollar section at Target) a $1 bead necklace cut in pieces, fake coins, colored foam pieces cut in tiny parts and in different shapes (like hearts!), colored pipe cleaners twisted into random shapes. I topped the Jell-O with mini marshmallows just for fun.

Jell-O Dig, a super fun (& tasty!) activity for toddlers. Make Jell-O and place objects inside before it sets in the fridge. Let your toddler dig and search for the objects! Learning & sensory play & an afternoon snack in one!The point of this activity is to have fun at sensory play. Digging through the Jell-O feeling the different objects & textures.

Jell-O Dig, a super fun (& tasty!) activity for toddlers. Make Jell-O and place objects inside before it sets in the fridge. Let your toddler dig and search for the objects! Learning & sensory play & an afternoon snack in one!I pointed out each object, explained the color and shape to her. Take that learning part out of it and just watching Lily going wild made my afternoon.

Jell-O Dig, a super fun (& tasty!) activity for toddlers. Make Jell-O and place objects inside before it sets in the fridge. Let your toddler dig and search for the objects! Learning & sensory play & an afternoon snack in one!This is a messy activity so we took it outdoors and I laid a bed sheet under. After we were done I tossed the foil container in the trash and wrapped the bed sheet up & popped it in the washer! There were a few pavers that had some leftover Jell-O and I just sprayed it down with the hose. If you are experiencing cold weather you could easily let your kid go crazy in the bathtub or walk-in shower with this Jell-O activity. Upside is that your kid is in the perfect location to get washed off after all the fun. I had a towel standing by that I wrapped Lily in to carry her to the tub. Where ever you carry out this fun activity enjoy it…I did. Plus this was the first time she had Jell-O!

Jell-O Dig, a super fun (& tasty!) activity for toddlers. Make Jell-O and place objects inside before it sets in the fridge. Let your toddler dig and search for the objects! Learning & sensory play & an afternoon snack in one!

Jell-O Dig, a super fun (& tasty!) activity for toddlers. Make Jell-O and place objects inside before it sets in the fridge. Let your toddler dig and search for the objects! Learning & sensory play & an afternoon snack in one!

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Yesterday I experienced one of those life moments that I will treasure. A life moment that will have my girlfriends and me laughing for years. A moment I’m proud of…Mike’s proud of…and one day hopefully Lily will be proud of.

Yesterday I completed a 5k. The Dirty Girl Mud Run that benefits cancer. I was one of four girls {McKay Pittman of Oatmeal Lace Design and Emily Ley & Gina Hafley of Emily Ley) that made the Monogrammed Mommas team, complete with personalized sweatbands and of course gold monogrammed tanks. We rocked it. Nerves and excitement in the beginning…hard breaths, laughs and tons of “Eeew this is SO gross” in the middle…and plenty of “Hell YEAHs”, high fives and “MMMMmm” to victory beer and corndogs at the finish line.dirtbefore

Yesterday, if you don’t count the 5 second dashes after my toddler, I ran for the first time since 3 weeks into my pregnancy. Lily is approaching 20 months. That is a long time for no cardio. Needless to say that 5k kicked my cardio-hating-butt.


I may not have run the entire time, but I did it. The whole thing. I had multiple opportunities to cut corners and wait for my team…but I didn’t. At one point while we were walking out my horrible side cramp McKay and I noticed a runner in front start to take one of those shortcuts. McKay kindly mentioned, “I won’t care if you go take that…” I huffed “nope” in between some quick breaths. She followed with a huge “YES!” She was proud, and so was I that I was pushing my cardio-hating-butt past my comfort zone….WAY past!

A mud run was on my bucket list. As I held hands with my girlfriends crossing that finish line I was flooded with emotions. At first I was relieved that it was over.  I felt bad that I wasn’t able to run the entire time and that my fit teammates walked next to me when they could have easily ran the whole thing. And then as I looked around at all the other women, some cancer survivors, I realized that I just accomplished something big. I realized that I had pretty amazing friends that rooted on my huffin and puffin butt. They walked next to me giving me encouragement to push on and support when I needed to walk it out. Those are real friends and I love them for that.

Oh that race was tough y’all. I kid you not that only 15 seconds into the race my lungs burned, my legs already ached and I was thinking “Amy what in the hell did you get yourself into?”

Then we came to our first obstacle. A huge float that you climbed up and on the other side you bounced down. As my almost 31 year old butt bounced on each step going down I felt like I was a kid again. My lungs and body ached, but my spirit was ignited. Throughout the race I had this tug of war between the physical pain, my inner self screaming at my determined soul to just walk and this provoked spirit that with the incredible motivation from my friends pushed the pain and self doubt out of the way so I could cross that finish line

dirtnailsCan I also explain that I have a huge issue with being dirty. I average two showers a day and having black filth wedged under every nail made me cringe. BUT I DID IT.

Because we didn’t want to get buck naked in front of strangers in a pop up tent over astro turf with 30 hoses….we tried our best to wash the dry caked on mud from our hands and feet before throwing on some new clothes and heading home. I’m all for girl power, but I just can’t get naked in front of women like that. It took me 3 showers until I felt I had successfully removed 98% of the dirt from my body (the other 2% remained in my finger and toe nails that I needed toothpicks for!). After the first shower I started to wipe myself down when I noticed brown streaks on my white towels. UGH. I couldn’t believe I thought I had done a superb job at removing the grime, but there was my white towels proving otherwise. I had even used a pumice stone to scrub my skin! After the second shower I found a little bit of dirt when I cleaned out my ears with a Q-Tip….so back in the shower I went. Yes I’m a little crazy I know.

dirtafterTrying to run for the first time in over 2 years, fighting my inner self doubt, remembering to breath, climbing up ropes and walls, crawling in mud, sliding down into muddy water and maneuvering around all the land mines (aka horse sh!t) was tough…BUT I DID IT!

“Damn it feels good to be a gangsta….” Current song playing in my head as I commit this moment to memory….

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  1. Carol Cusick commented:
    February 11, 2013 Reply

    You go girl!! Before you know it, You will be wanting to do a Marathon!

  2. Elizabeth commented:
    February 13, 2013 Reply

    Way to go, Amy! I did a Mud Run last spring and it was so challenging and fun. It was at a nearby ski resort. What was I thinking?! There was hardly any flat ground, just hills. I think climbing the hills were the hardest part. I was hesitant to get dirty too. My husband couldn’t believe I let it get it in my hair b/c I don’t like being dirty either. Once I did that first obstacle though, it was all over and SO fun! I’d totally do it again…..maybe after baby #2 gets here

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