Shoo Fly!

Every family has one… or two.  You know, the one that serves as the mosquitoe bait during your summer excursions outside.  Their “sweet” skin is irresistable to the mosquitoes. Michael Luke and Esther are the bait for Noah and me.  As long as ML is around me I barely need any insect repellent.  Poor Michael Luke and Eshter though.  They can barely make it from the front door to the car before succombing to two or three attackes.  Esther’s skin must be the sweetest though.  Those poor mosquitoes have now mercy on her and her skin is left with bites that swell and knot up with fever.  It’s not exactly the best summer present to give the girl who can barely even stand to sweat during the hot months.

Thankfully, in our modern world we have insect repellent that can protect our sweet bait family members and ourselves.  Not all insect repellents are created equal though.  Some are man made repellents that may even contain DEET,  a substance that may affect our cells in unintended ways.

DIY Insect Repellent

Last year, our family made the switch to homemade insect repellennnts.  I started out applying the essential oil blend Purification neat to our skin.  Purification is a blend that contains Cymbopogon nardus (Citronella) oil, Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) leaf oil, Cymbopogon flexuosus† (Lemongrass) oil, Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea tree) leaf oil, Lavandula hybrida (Lavandin) oil, Myrtus communis (Myrtle) oil.  It worked well but required several drops of oil each time so it wasn’t really cost effective.

Next, I tried another recipe that used witch hazel, distilled water, Purification, Thieves, and Peppermint.  We weren’t crazy about it though because the water made the mixture really light and seemed to almost evaporate once it was sprayed on the skin during those hot summer days.


I came across another recipe though and decided to give it a try.  It was really easy and quickly became our family’s go to for insect repellent.  What’s the recipe?

Purification & Grapeseed Oil Insect Repellent

  • 1 3oz spray bottle (you can find it in the travel section)
  • 30 drops Purification
  • 2oz grapeseed oil (found in the cooking section)

bug spray pbto

Mix the Purification and grapeseed oil up in the container and then spray onto skin. It’s that easy!

Grapesee oil is a much lighter oil than olive oil.  It doesn’t fill thick or clog your pores when applied.  It does moisturize your skin though. Michael Luke prefers this recipe over chemical repellents because it doesn’t have that chemical smell to it.  One application lasts for several hours and one mixed up bottle lasted us for a while.

A 15ml bottle of Purification has around 300 drops in it so you could make up to 15 batches out of one bottle.  I’m sure you’ll find other ways to use your Purification though.

13 PURIFICATION v1.1 Why limit yourself to just one use for it?

To order your bottle of Purification and to learn more about Young Living Essential Oils click here.

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16 Whimsical Chalk Painted Tables

A few years ago I turned an old beat up piece of furniture into our family dining table.  It still amazes me to think of the transformation our table went through.

dining table

I renovated this table with our family in mind.  Meaning, from the beginning I wasn’t going to flip out about scratches, dents, or stains.  I wanted a table that we could live at.  A table where school and crafts took place, family celebrations, and fun nights with friends were welcomed.

spring 2012 dining tableentire table

For the past three years we have done just that with our dining table that also doubles as a chalk board.  I’ve drawn on it with chalk for seasonal celebrations and other times left it white.  It’s been fun having a table that is so versatile.  But it’s time for a change…

In our townhouse I loved how bold the white table looked against our dark floors and furniture. It was elegant when it needed to be but practical at the same time.  Over the years the top has gotten a little dingy looking though and needs a little facelift.  I plan to keep the base white and choose a color from the benches for the top of the table.  I love the finish on the dresser in the girls bedroom so this go around our table will receive several layers of a high gloss finish.

I plan to knock this little project out during ML’s next off week.  It just seems easier to tackle when I have someone there to watch the girls for me.

In the meantime, I want to share some really creative chalk tables that I found on Hometalk.  Hometalk is a social networking site focused on home improvement, gardening and DIY projects. With both expert and amateur users, the Hometalk network aims to create an online community where people share ideas, advice and experiences from personal home-related endeavors.

chalk_painted_tablesBefore looking through Hometalk I had never thought about incorporating a big stenciled design onto the top of a table or even one that wrapped across several sides.  I love how so many of these projects were trash to treasure transformations.  I mean don’t these make you want to go find an old table stashed away in your attic and give it new life?  Click the graphic above to get the details on any of these projects.

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A Fancy Party for a Fancy Girl

It’s been almost a month now but I couldn’t blog on without first sharing about Esther’s Fancy Nancy Pink & Purple Birthday Party.

Fancy Nancy Birthday Invitation

Like most soon-to-be four year olds this was the biggest and best party to ever grace the face of the earth.  A party so big that she started planning it last summer.  Months before Noah’s birthday party.

Ballerina Birthday Outfits


In all honesty though it was a pretty big deal.  This was Esther’s first big party since joining our family over a year ago.  Last year’s celebration was low key because Esther had only been home for a few weeks at that point and we were still in the bonding and attachment faze.  Anyway, back to the party at hand.

Fancy Nancy Birthday Party

Esther fell in love with Fancy Nancy last summer when the girls got to meet Jane O’Connor and Robin Glasser, the author and artist behind the creative Fancy Nancy series.  I realize these books may not be on everyone’s must read list so I’ll fill you in on the whole Fancy Nancy thing.  Nancy is a little girl that always insists on everything being fancy. Her wardrobe is fancy, her room is fancy, and even her vocabulary is fancy.  The books are beautifully illustrated and captivated Esther from day one with the possibility of anyone being that fancy.  So it came as no surprise when she insisted that her birthday party be a Fancy Nancy party.

Pink and Purple Fancy Nancy Birthday PartyPink and Purple Fancy Nancy Birthday Party foodPink and Purple Birthday Party

As the months went along and so did the party planning, her party planning dreams also began to include pink and purple decorations.  So I took her ideas and ran with it.  Esther’s birthday conveniently falls in March… the month after Valentine’s Day.  Michael Luke and I kept our eyes peeled for pink and purple decor and scored almost all of the decorations for a fraction of the original price because of awesome after Valentine’s Day sales.  Everything else we picked up at the dollar store.

Fancy Nancy Pink and Purple Birthday Party

I found adorable plastic stemmed glasses and pink square plates to use as part of the fancy place setting.

Pink and Purple Vegan Birthday Cake

Per Esther’s request I created a pink and purple heart with sparkles on it.  My favorite part about her cake is that it is Chloe Coscarelli’s recipe so both sets of grandparents (vegan and meat lovers) were able to enjoy it.

Fancy Nancy Birthday Party

I used cute little notebooks that the girls got last summer at the Fancy Nancy book signing to decorate the fruit tray.  I tried to use as many foods as possible that were pink and purple.

Instead of sugary drinks I made strawberry infused water… it was a little something fancy to drink.

Strawberry Infused Water

Ever since Hong Kong Esther has been a huge fan of gelatin or jelly as Esther likes to call it.  It took me days in Hong Kong to realize that what she called jelly is not the same as what we Americans call jelly.  There might have been a few days before this realization that she consumed sever packets of jelly from the breakfast buffet at our hotel.  I figured out the difference though and love to surprise her with this treat occasionally.

Dress Up Party FavorsIn honor of all things fancy each guest was presented with a box of dress-up goodies.  Inside the boxes were clip-on earrings, necklaces, rings, and a crown.  Each girl then got to sit at the dress up table and “fancy” themselves up.

Fancy Nancy Birthday Party Dress Up TableEsther loved this part and especially enjoyed her special birthday crown.  It’s become a normal part of her daily dress-up routine since the party.

And because the lines of weddings and birthdays are a little blurred Esther got her father/daughter dance with Michael Luke.


The day was absolutely magical for Esther.  She  had the pink and purple Fancy Nancy party she had been dreaming, got to eat lots of cakes, AND open presents all while dressed like a little fancy ballerina.  What more could any four year old ask for?

Ballerina Birthday OutfitP.S. We gave her ballet shoes and ballet lessons for her birthday.  I think the picture above pretty much sums up how she feels about that.

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