Style File /// A Tale of Shooties

With a picturesque snowscape it only seemed natural that we would attempt a family photo on our Leavenworth trip. I mean, all sane mothers attempt such a feat around the holidays, right?

This particular photo attempt was a bit more exciting than normal thanks to our new footwear from Rack Room Shoes. Jemma adored her fancy sparkles while Dominic and Max tromped  around in their heartier shoes (these and these). I, of course, opted for a less practical, more stylish Christmas shoe with these darling booties; exactly what I imagined when I was on the look out for winter shooties. Isn’t shooties the most funny, but perfect name for a shoe style?

Needless to say, if you’re on the look out for shoes to help you and your family step into the New Year, look no further than Rack Room Shoes – great deals and free shipping on all orders over $50! 

leavenworth 4 leavenworth 7 leavenworth 8 leavenworth 10leavenworth 1 leavenworth 11leavenworth 6 leavenworth 12

Daddy Style – jeans, Costco Levi’s / jacket, thrifted Carhartt / Men’s Casual Shoes, Timberland Madison Summit (they’ve got this awesome neoprene stretch type fabric on the heel for easy on and off, Dom says they’re super comfortable and plans to wear then at the lumber yard daily!)

Mama Style –  dress, H&M / scarf, Target / knit tights, Hue from Nordstrom / beret, Forever 21 / Women’s Booties, Xappeal Kori

Jemma Style – leggings, Hanna Andersson / sweatshirt, Target / Girl’s Styles shoes, Cupcake Couture Lil Paulette

Max Style – jean, Gap (sweatpant band waist, the best for husky boys!) / tee, thrifted Crew Cuts / vest, thrifted Gymboree / Toddler Boys, Van’s Atwood V

Leavenworth was divine … covered all that here :) We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend getaway! I hadn’t been since I was maybe seven or eight so it was high time we made the drive and experienced Washington’s Bavaria. It was well worth our time and according to this post we didn’t even lounge in our pajamas all weekend!


To the Mountains We Go!

Last month I told my mama that I really wanted to go to Leavenworth. I hadn’t been since I was seven or eight and seeing that my name is Gretchen of the German variety, is only seems natural that I make frequent trips to Bavaria … even if it is a pretend version hidden in the Cascades, not the Alps. Being the amazing mama she is, my mom worked her connections and landed us a condo for a mere $50 a night during the final week of Leavenworth’s Festival of Lights. Practically unheard of! 

Dom, the kids, my mom, sister and I snowshoed, sledded, shopped, ate lots of cozy food (gnocchi and chili from our condo kitchen!), watched The Polar Express, and saw the signature tree lighting downtown at dusk. We also toured a fish hatchery and a brewery. Well, the brewery tour ended for me when Max channelled the terrible twos demon mode and I had to leave with him. #joysofmotherhood

Now, photo spam :)
IMG_3208IMG_3048IMG_3062IMG_3068IMG_3212IMG_3117IMG_3130leavenworth mimisnowball boys IMG_3181IMG_3149IMG_3183IMG_3192 IMG_3196

 

Snowshoeing was my favorite. Which is kind of odd since I’m about a 5 on the 1-100 scale of outdoor abilities. When it comes to German attributes I’m much more of the baked sweets variety. I shall credit my snowshoe success to Smartwool and prAna … since I wasn’t cold I was able to carry on without much whimpering. Oh, and I’m sure the enjoyment factor was increased by my mom staying back at the condo with the kids  – playing bunk bed games and My Little Pony Chutes and Ladders – since the hatchery/snowshoe tour was for 8+. God bless that woman. Like, God … do you hear me? BLESS HER! 

Snow fell all day on Saturday — Leavenworth was a winter wonderland! There is just nothing like walking through the woods and hearing the silence of falling snow followed shortly by the laughter of your kids as they catch snow on their tongues and mash up their first snowballs. Today it rained for a safe drive home and now we’re settling in at home for family’s arrival before Christmas!

We love you Leavenworth, see you this summer for the outdoor theater Sound of Music production! Glad I have a few months to brainwash my chicklets with the movie this winter so they can sing along with their crazy mama … THE HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF MUSIC!!!


The Housewife Gift Guide

A big thank you to BISSELL for sponsoring today’s funny little post!


Do you have family arriving for the holidays?

Oh yeah … me too! And no, I haven’t really done much preparation other than shuffle stuff from room to room and pile wrapped gifts into the corner of the guest room. You too? So glad I’m not alone! It helps my stress level that it’s all close family coming. But still, our normal family of 6 will be growing to a gathering of 12 so I need to get my booty in gear with some grocery shopping and tidying up!

I’m really not a clean freak. I prefer things organized over clean. But, with kids, I’ve become much more vigilant about my floors. With babies you’re constantly worrying about what they may put in their mouths and with toddlers and preschoolers, well, they’re just plain messy! Max is constantly sprinkling play dough and crumbs and other gross miscellany on the floor. That boy, I tell ya – I can hardly keep up! I vacuum often, it’s almost become therapeutic to see those straight lines and fluffy carpet (gag, I know), but after almost 2 years in our home, the carpets are in need of a bit more.

That leads me to my somewhat true, somewhat satirical gift guide just for the housewife inside us all! So, my friends, don those heels and find your pearls – it’s time to deep clean your carpets before the Christmas crowd arrives!

the housewife gift guideWe’ll begin with the housewife herself.

You see, everyday when I wake and remove my eye mask I set it on my pristinely organized nightstand. There are no Cheerios or snot rags or misplaced nursing pads there – I wouldn’t dare! Just expensive face creams and a beautiful stack of novels I’ve been reading each evening before I turn out the light. And no specks of dust, not a one!

I shower in peace and quiet while the birds sing outside my window and the breeze blows my handmade curtains. My children are still resting, of course, so I sip a cup of tea while applying my day at home make-up – a simple routine of pressed powder, blush, mascara and housewife appropriate lip sheen. I gently hang my floral bathrobe on the bathroom hook next to my nightgown and choose a pressed frock from the closet. With silky smooth hosiery and a pair of stable, but designer heels I assess my jewelry box and choose an untraditional pearl piece. Just the exciting twist my outfit needs for a day of housecleaning!

The children peacefully awake, as they always do, and pitter patter to the dining table to wait for their 3 course breakfast of omelets, buttered whole grain toast and fresh squeezed orange juice. We sit together and visit about our day’s activities, no one talking over the other or raising their voice. And yes, in case you wondered, those sweet birds outside are still singing, almost ready to pop through the window and begin helping with chores I’d assume.

I clear the breakfast dishes and pour a modest glass of wine, as all housewives do mid-morning, and begin my Thursday task of deep cleaning the carpets. Just in time for Christmas festivities! With my BISSELL ProHeat 2X® Premier 47A23 Upright Deep Cleaner and BISSELL carpet cleaning formula with Scotchgard™ Protector I know my shabby carpets will shine like it’s installation day! bissell collage

MOM!!!! MAMAMAMAMAMAMA! MOOOOOM! Can we watch a moooooovie? Is it ok if we have those donuts for breakfast with hot cocoa too!!! It’s a special day, riiiiight?

Oops, looks like I dreamed my whole house was clean … sigh.

The truth is I have yet to deep clean my carpets since moving into our current home in February 2013. When I do/did this week, it was in unphotographable loungewear, barefoot, while sipping on microwaved coffee. The other truth is, I’m truly, 100% impressed with the BISSELL Deep Cleaner. Two years into home ownership there was no question in my mind that our carpets needed some freshening before all our family congregated for the holidays and the BISSELL duo did the job exceedingly well! 

BISSELL’s line of carpet cleaning formulas treat and protect your carpets, keeping them looking newer, longer. They even have a formula especially for pets! Grab a coupon here and once you’ve got your gifts all wrapped, give that carpet of yours a protective layer against spilled wine, kid messes, and shoes that are left on. Sounds like a great way to end the year … or begin a new one if you’re a bit behind in your housewife duties :)

Better yet, forward this post to your husband and see if he’s up for househusband of the year! Maybe he’ll give carpet deep cleaning a try in that handsome suit and tie he’s got hidden in the back of the closet!

DSC_0831Hope you got a little laugh out of my gift guide … I really do love all these things, in real life they just may not always pair together :)

Don’t Forget Your Coupon!


In Case You Wondered

archer + hare agateNecklace from the amazing Archer + Hare

It has been awhile since I waxed narcissism on you all with a post all about me. So, here it goes … things you just need to know before continuing your day.

  • I love drinking water from the faucet during the winter. The freezing pipes make it extra cold!
  • Thick lotion is the only lotion worth wearing. Like this kind.
  • For the life of me I can’t hone my home style — boho, country, rustic, vintage. I want to change my curtains AGAIN. Don’t tell Dom. I obviously have curtain commitment issues.
  • Stores with awesome return policies will always have my heart.
  • My wedding ring doesn’t fit me anymore and I’m torn on whether or not to get it resized.
  • When I get hungry late at night I eat eggs – scrambled or hard boiled.
  • I’ve never dyed my hair. A few rounds of home highlights, but never a full head dye.
  • The small legal pads are my favorite. I make a daily to do list on them with a super fine ballpoint pen, also another favorite.
  • I dreamed of a minivan for 4 years and now I’m an official Swagger mom. And now I sing this in my head every time I load the car.
  • I sing this with new fervor too.
  • In actuality though, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket so don’t laugh if you happen upon me trying to singing.
  • I don’t drink soda.
  • I’ve become a library fiend – we go often and this whole year I’ve managed to keep my late fees under $1!
  • Mary Poppins is my favorite Disney character.
  • Dutch Bros coffee has better eggnog lattes than Starbucks.
  • Jemma and I share one favorite color – gold.
  • Essential oils have become my go to perfume – a blend of Bergamot, Grapefruit and Ylang Ylang are such a mood boost!
  • I’m worried my passport will expire before I travel internationally again :/
  • Vacuuming is my favorite chore. Dishes are not.
  • Doing less helps me to enjoy life more.

What’s a “secret” about you? Share something new in the comments!

P.S. Don’t forget the $150 giveaway! And, the perfect match for my vacuuming love thanks to a new sponsor :)


A Christmas Beach Trip + Indoor S\'More Brownies

Today’s post is sponsored by Nestle Toll House and this delightfull new product <—- take a peek and don’t be alarmed if your mouth starts watering!


Friday evening we snuck away to the coast. To all you non-Northwest people it probably sounds crazy to visit the ocean in the middle of December, but hey, it’s cold at home and it’s cold at the beach so we might as well change the scenery a bit since the temperature is about the same. Call it Northwest logic, call it crazy – whatever it is, it made for a wonderful and relaxing weekend adventure …IMG_2880 IMG_2881 IMG_2882

By sunset the real chill came in. That, and some of the biggest winter waves I’ve ever seen! Skies were clear but we didn’t think the kids would appreciate being outside too long so we decided to move our traditional beach bonfire treat indoors.

And boy, was it a good idea! Thanks to the beach house oven broiler and these little guys we got to experience our favorite s’more flavor while staying warm and cozy!

Whether you’re going to the beach at Christmastime or are inspired to have some s’more goodness on a normal ol’ day – don’t miss this recipe for Indoor S’more Brownies, Jemma say’s they’re “deeeeee-wish-us!” indoor smore brownies with toll house delightfullsbefore and after smores

Indoor S’more Brownies

Ingredients

Directions

Prepare your brownies according to directions. You could do this in a pan or in cupcake liners for individuals servings – that’s what I opted for, individual seemed more s’more-y to me :) All them to cool. In a small bowl toss your crushed graham crackers, Delightfulls and marshmallows. Heat your oven’s broiler on low and top your brownies with the s’more blend. Broil for 2 minutes, rotating throughout and watching closely. Unless you’re one of those people who like torched marshmallows :)

Serve immediately for campfire effect! DSC_0820 DSC_0826

Did you know there are 4 other flavors of Toll House Delightfulls? Take a peek at the options and comment below with your favorite and what sweet you’d make with them! 


Are you a blogger who would like to be involved in wonderful campaigns like this one? Join the Linqia Storyteller Network – it’s my favorite!


$50-$50-$50 Giveaway!

Happy weekend, my friends! 

I’m popping in with something short and sweet. And really, really wonderful! You see, a group of bloggers and I have joined forces for a fabulous giveaway! Below you’ll see the entry form to win $50 to Starbucks, $50 to Target, and $50 of PayPal cash! It’s Christmas, so I know you’ve been to all those places recently – wouldn’t an extra $150 put a smile on your face, fill a stocking, or give you the means to pay it forward this holiday season? 

I thought so! Enjoy! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

P. S. Have you had a chance to see the two campaigns I’m working on this month? They’re both awesome and are making my holidays sweeter and cleaner, that’s for sure! More to come later this week! Get a sneak peek by click here and here!


Everything Oils: All the Accessories You Need and Some You Will Want Too

That Mama Gretchen  everything oils all the accessories you need and some you will want too, doterraTalking about essential oils is one of my favorite things. What can I say, I’m an oil mama and proud of it :) Daily, I email and chat with other mamas who are falling in love with oils and so often I find myself typing out the same information … What are my favorite resources? What diffusers do I love? How do I most easily dilute, apply and blend?

Well, my friends, today I’m rounding up all (most) of the answers for you!

IMG_2742Books

First up, books! I appreciate having a real book reference, something I can flip through and quickly access when I’m at home. There are a variety of books from just as many sources, but these 4 seem to be the ones I return to time after time.

eo apps

Apps + Websites

Books are swell, but I’m on the go often and let’s face it, that seems to be when injury and ailments strike most often. Having reliable apps and websites directed towards proper essential oil use are a lifesaver! 

Here’s a shameless plug for my oil group on Facebook too —> That Oil Family. I love the oil folk who congregate there. Such great questions, testimonials, and encouragement!

Storage

After investing in oils you need a safe place to keep them, right? I’ve got my oils in 3 different places – a wooden storage box from doTERRA, a zippered case, and a keychain. For starters, go with the 25 oil wood box. A larger one will be available from doTERRA again in Spring 2015. From there, a keychain, albeit a little dorky. Injuries in our family always seem to happen on the go so as much as I’d love to have doubles of all my oils in the car or in my mondo purse, small vials in a keychain are a much better option.

Last, but not least – MASON JARS! When I mix up salve blends or bath salts mason jars are perfect. Especially with these lids, Walmart carries them too.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.13.50 PMDiffusers

I really shouldn’t have diffusers so far down on the list. Using oils aromatically is my favorite, but they’re here in the line up because I 100% believe that it’s important to know and begin to understand oils before you start using them.

So, diffusing … by diffusing, oils are vaporized into the air allowing you to inhale them and benefit from their properties. I always use cold-air diffusers because heating the oil can reduce the oils effectiveness. With almost all diffusers you’ll fill it with cool tap water to the designated line and then add 2-3 drops of essential oil. That’s it! A lot goes a long way with quality oils.

I have personally used 6 different varieties of diffusers – based on a combination of factors (price, style, diffusing length, lights, etc) I have voted doTERRA Petal Diffuser as my top diffuser. And yes, I was the one and only vote, but I’ve heard many others say the Petal is their first choice too :)

The Petal Diffuser retails for $62.67, only $47 if you have a doTERRA wholesale account (which I can help make happen for you!) It is pretty while still being gender neutral, can be used with a light on or off and has a 1, 2, and 4 hour setting. It’s the best!

Number two would be the Jasmine … because … so chic and great colors! Followed by the budget friendly diffusers from Green Air – the AromMister and AquaMist both gets thumbs up from me as decent starter diffusers.  

Rollers + Other Application Accessories

Oils are fabulous in their bottles and you can apply them directly that way. But, for me, I’ve found that easy application is the most important thing in getting into a good oil routine. That’s where rollers come into play. They’re a must! Citrus oils should be kept in dark or frosted glass to avoid sun exposure, but others I do use clear glass. I started out with lots of 10ml bottles and now lean towards like 5ml because then I can mix up a smaller blend and determine if it really works for us before making a big bottle.

Other accessories to consider are glass spritzers for ouch spray and the like and larger ones for homemade cleaning supplies. Oh, and samples! Once you fall in love with oils you’ll definitely want to share with others and having these 1/4 dram amber glass vials on hand make it possible :)

All of these are available on AromaTools and My Oil Business too. They are the mecca for all oil supplies. BUT, Amazon and their free shipping get me every time*. There are a few things Amazon doesn’t carry (yet) that I truly love though and will willingly pay shipping …

*It’s worth mentioned that while I do buy oil accessories on Amazon, I DO NOT buy oils on Amazon. It has become a common occurrence for third party oils to be tampered with and since we have oils for both medicinal and therapeutic use in my home I want the safest, purest oils. That means I want them directly from the source. No Amazon middle man when it comes to essential oils. Ok? Ok :)

Feel free to ask 100 questions! I can update and add to this post as I learn more and discover new favorites! Until then, I hope this was helpful!

Happy oiling!


Ready to learn more or place an order for essential oils? Feel free to email me (thatmamagretchen@gmail.com) or browse details here!

Affiliate links included where applicable.


Yes, the iPad Is Part of Our Homeschooling Plan


This week on Instagram I mentioned that my mom and I went out on a girl’s date and along with us came 2 kids, an iPad and an iPhone. It seemed necessary. Very necessary. For us to properly enjoy our margaritas and guacamole I needed the little ones to zone out with a dose screen time.

It worked beautifully. Margaritas were enjoyed. Kids sat quietly, enjoying their game time and I ignored the glances from those who seemed to be thinking, “Would you just look at that margarita sipping mom ignoring her children and forcing them to interact with the i-world”.

So often screen time is discounted as being a source of just entertainment, but I’ve learned that quality apps can be a great asset in Jemma and Max’s learning. I’m not ashamed to say it — we have screen time around here. Sometimes for entertainment, sometimes for learning. Almost always a balanced approach. 

I keep my ear out for the latest and greatest when it comes to toddler and preschooler apps. As I’m sure you know, not all apps are created equal and I want their screen time to count for something in our big ol’ book of creative homeschooling.

I usually hear about goodies from other moms and today, I get to be that mom with the good advice! Trust me, you want to download Mickey’s Magical Math World AND Disney Imagicademy: Parents.

These apps are the kick off of Disney’s new learning brand for 3-8 year olds. With a heart for creativity and imagination, Disney is enriching their little app users with fundamental subject matters that strategically build on one another in a fun and playful way. Games guised as learning? Sign us up! math world

Jem has been so excited to “do Mickey Math” and I’ve loved the perk of following along her progress in the Disney Imagicademy: Parents app. I’ll be honest, our homeschool days have been much more focused on letters and crafts. I’ve shied away from math because it just seems so daunting to teach algebra. I know, I know … I have many years before we get to that point, but math leads to algebra and that has made me run the opposite direction! Thankfully, Disney is helping both Jem and I take our math lessons in strides.

She plays and laughs, unlocks pins for various levels and achievements and when iPad time is over I can log into the Disney Imagicademy for Parents and see everything that she has accomplished. Having a report is WONDERFUL because I can see what she is doing, encourage her efforts, supplement her lessons, and guide her to try new things. Parents can even create different profiles for each child so they can play and be tracked individually. Watch out, Max … you’re going to be rockin’ Mickey’s Math World before you know it :)ipad 1 ipad 3

Ready to join Disney in their new venture? Download this FREE duo of fabulous apps — Mickey’s Magical Math World and Disney Imagicademy Parents — for your iPad in the Kids, Education and Entertainment section of Apple’s App Store.


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


50 Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Toddlers + Preschoolers

Whenever I have a dilemma, I think “Golly girl, you should really think on that and write up a blog post”. And so, I did. Lucky, lucky you! 

So, the question I had asked myself … “What on earth should I, I mean, the Claus duo, pack into these darling stockings on Christmas morning?”

And my first answer … “Uh, candy?” And then, brilliance struck and I gathered together 50 rock star stocking stuffer ideas! Boom shaka laka! 50 Stocking Stuffer Ideas

  1. Baby Lit books
  2. Ah! Natural name wood blocks or tethers
  3. Play Doh Plus, or homemade
  4. No End Naturals chapstick /// A friend of mine’s shop, you’ll love her products!
  5. Blind bags
  6. Toothbrush
  7. Bubbles
  8. Cookie Cutters /// For Play Doh or cookies
  9. Coupons /// Dinner date night with Dad, movies with Mom, etc.
  10. Framed family photo
  11. Oranges /// Must have tradition for the toe of the stocking!
  12. Granola bars
  13. Fruit gummies /// our favorite
  14. Vitamins
  15. Coloring book and markers /// We love Color Wonder
  16. Homemade treat with these new delights /// Love finding new favorites from my sponsors!
  17. Mercer Made hair clips
  18. Sweet Ties Hair Ties
  19. Mason jar straws and lids
  20. Chatbooks /// Littles love to look at pictures of fun things they’ve done
  21. New Disney DVD
  22. Puzzles
  23. T-shirts /// Love these, these, and these
  24. MagiClip Princesses
  25. Race cars
  26. DIY essential oil warm sack
  27. DIY candy sleigh
  28. DIY homemade mittens from an old sweater
  29. DIY Glitter Slime
  30. Glitter glue /// Jem loves this stuff and actually has it on her Christmas wish list
  31. Clip on earrings for your little princess
  32. Small DUPLO sets /// Honestly, I watch for these at consignment sales like a hawk
  33. DIY finger puppets
  34. Sunglasses
  35. Temporary tattoos
  36. Flashcards /// From the Target $1 bin … I laminate ours, punch a ring at the top and add a circle jump ring to keep them all together
  37. Socks
  38. Books on CD
  39. Clown nose /// One of Max’s most favorite things to play with!
  40. DIY crayon roll
  41. Memory game
  42. DIY money melts
  43. Rubber stamps and ink pad
  44. Whistle
  45. DIY marshmallow catapult
  46. DIY fleece ear warmers
  47. Magazine subscription /// Jem loves ZooBooks
  48. Magnifying glass
  49. Binoculars
  50. iTunes gift card for new apps

stocking stuffers

Ah! Natural Baby Teether /// Baby Lit /// Disney Frozen Magiclip /// Kid + Kind Sea Pup T-Shirt

What, pray tell, would you add as a stocking stuffer idea?