Online Friends are Closer with Skype

*Skype asked me to share how I keep in touch with close friend and family.  This is a sponsored post by  http://skypestaytogether.com

skype brings people togetherI have been blogging for over 6 years.  And in that time, I have built an amazing community of online friends.  While I cherish my “real life” friends, I truly wouldn’t be where I am today, and enjoying it as much, without these “digital” friendships.  They have become like family to me.  I have an online bff named, Jenny.  She is amazingly talented and funny and adorable.  There is no reason, just because she lives in Washington and I live in California, that we can’t be close.  We both have two small-ish boys and every once in a while we talk via Skype.  We talk about the projects we have going on, she helps me with Illustrator questions and our boys pop on and off and wave at each other.  I love it.  While the idea of letter writing sounds romantic, it just is not practical for someone like me who spends a lot of my “me” time getting my work done on the computer.  It is an absolute shame.  There are so many cute cards available.  But I have to fill you in on a bit more of my crazy:  If I buy a well designed card, I don’t ever send them.  I end up keeping them because they are so pretty.  Uh, yeah.  Not the best way for me to reach out to friends.  And I would never buy ugly cards just for the sake of being able to let it go easier.  My friends don’t deserve ugly cards.

sharing photo tips via skypeMy online lady friends have proven to be super supportive and an amazing resource for me.  Melissa and I bounce ideas off of one another.  We ask each other for opinions on craft ideas we want to make and I make her tell me all about her blog conference she hosts every September that I can’t make it to because I am on the other side of the country.  My online family is very talented and we share these talents with each other.  And since we are all right in front of our computers, it makes sense that they are the way we choose to communicate with each other.  While emails are sent back and forth with abandon there are some things that require a little bit more visualness (yeah, that is totally correct usage of the English language…).  From helping to figure out new cameras to providing party styling suggestions, we are close knit and in touch constantly which could end up getting really expensive since we are all over the United States.  Melissa is in Florida, Chris is in Virginia, Carrie is in Illinois, Amy is in Massachusetts, (which incidentally I had to look up how to spell…).  Luckily I have Kristin and Lauren who live locally so I get to have in person conversations once in a while.  The easiest and most fun way to check in with each other is over the internet via Skype.  And while Lauren is just a few towns over, she and I have actually used Skype as well.  It is perfect for when we can’t meet in person and have a project to work on that requires seeing items not yet completed – so awesome!

happy hour with far away friendsAnd as close girlfriends do, we share our highs and lows and even a little wine, we just do it over the internet.  Skype is free and can be easily downloaded to make these conversations possible.  And since I already have the software, there is nothing stopping me from using it with my actual family who also lives out of state.  It is amazing how little time I actually spend on a telephone any more.  And luckily, the people who I Skype with don’t care when I don’t do my hair (which is almost never) or my makeup (which is not often).  Life can get busy, but I know that with Skype, we can speak for a few minutes and really get to have a meaningful conversation.  That is the beauty of getting to see who you are talking to.

skype logo

Take as second and watch this amazing video.  It is touching and really demonstrates the power of Skype.

Learn more at http://skypestaytogether.com/

FTC DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENT Cupcakes and Cutlery aims to provide unbiased editorials. However, I wish to disclose that from time to time I may receive free products or other compensation from companies for blogger reviews.

 

Cool Kids Book: When Miles Got Mad

When Miles Got Mad BookI have a son named Miles who gets mad.  About EVERYTHING.  He clenches his fists, growls and scowls when we go to school, run errands, mention we are going to the zoo, talk about taking a bath.  His first reaction is always anger.  Of course, he always ends up enjoying the activity.  I mean, what little kid wouldn’t have fun at the zoo?  But it is exhausting.  When I saw this book, When Miles Got Mad, I HAD to have it.  I would have bought it if it was a Matt that got mad but the fact that it was his actual name made it too perfect to pass up.  And I love anything from Ruby’s Studio.  We have Sally Simon Simmons’ Super Frustrating Day in bedtime story rotation so I knew this new book was going to be great too.

Cool Kids Book When Miles Got MadI love how they used photography and illustrations together in this book.  Not only is the book a great story about managing your anger, but it is done in a very aesthetically pleasing way too.  The story is about two brothers who are playing together and something gets broken.

Great book for kidsThe book explains that when you are angry, you turn in to a monster (although I think this monster could have been drawn a bit scarier – he’s still quite cute).  The only way to make that monster go away is to calm down and use your words.  In the end, Miles sees that his reaction was bad and he understands how to handle the situation with his brother better.

Such a cute book!  If you haven’t checked out the Ruby’s Studio books or videos you really need to.  My family loves them!

*NOT a sponsored post.  We love these books and I want you to love them too.

A Stylish and Practical Family Home

FTC DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENT:  Cupcakes and Cutlery aims to provide unbiased editorials. However, I wish to disclose that from time to time I may receive free products or other compensation from companies for blogger reviews.pretty wicked momsYou guys!  This is why I am a blogger.  So this new reality show, Pretty Wicked Moms, is premiering June 4th on Lifetime.  And I got to see it already.  That may not sound like a big deal to you but I LOVE reality shows.  Like a lot.  And I always have to watch at least the first episode to see if I need to set it up to record every week (well, except all the dumb men’s shows like Ice Road Truckers or Swamp Loggers).  I will definitely be recording Pretty Wicked Moms.  I can’t give any details away or share a recap of the episode I saw.  Let’s just say these ladies are best frenemies.  And I’m captivated.  One thing is for sure, these ladies make being super stylish a goal.  So stylish, they wear heels at all times.  And totter after their kids in them.  To me that doesn’t seem very practical but hey, whatever works.

In that vein, Lifetime asked me to share my tips for keeping a stylish, practical home while raising a family.  This post comes at a great time as we have only been in our new home 2 weeks.  So while my home is not in the finishing stages of decorating, I have been spending a lot of my time thinking about how to show my style in my home when there are two little boys running amok.

chevron bedspreadTip 1:  LOVE everything in your home.  Or at least REALLY like it.

My new-found interest in home design started when I went through a personal style camp earlier this year.  It became clear to me that while my wardrobe should represent my design aesthetic, so should my home.  This move was the catalyst to actually make some changes.  And while nothing that I have purchased is expensive (a far cry from the homes these PWM’s – Pretty Wicked Mom’s, duh – live in…) it is the first time my style is showing through in my home.  A huge thing that just clicked for me is that you should love everything you surround yourself with.  Don’t settle.  While most of our budgets won’t allow a complete make-over, if there are things that you want, make a list and save up for them.  Change out items as you can until you love your space.

We got rid of a ton of items before we moved.  Things we had been hanging on to, just to hang on to.  But when we stripped ourselves of those things it really opened my mind to what I did want to surround myself with.  It is becoming clear that I’m a black and white stripe-aholic.  LOVE it.

bathroom towels and rugTip 2:  Take risks in the least risky places in your home.

Oh hey, more black and white stripes!  This is our master bathroom.  Pretend you don’t see the stacked moving boxes in the mirror there.  And I’d like to note that I didn’t set out to match the towels to my quilt but after much searching, I realized that nobody makes a great patterned towel except for Missoni, which are just a bit out of my price range.  While I would never have put any sort of light-colored rug in my house before with all the foot traffic and food spilling, I decided that this room was the most logical home for it.  It is probably the least used area of the house.  With my youngest child being 4 1/2, I felt like it was ok to start decorating less for the kids and more for myself.  BUT!  I’m not crazy.  This rug wouldn’t last two minutes in the front of the house.  Here I can still enjoy the rug and it’s lifespan will be significantly longer.

closet areaTip 3:  Create kid-free zones

It is ok to create areas that are off-limits to the kids.  My walk in closet is one such area.  I am looking forward to adding some art to the wall behind my dresser and love that I can leave things out on a tray and they don’t go missing.  This is a space I can go when I need to take a breath, when I don’t want to see a toy and when I want to feel like a grown up.  The kids know they are not to be in here.  Except for sometimes when I am getting ready and my youngest puts on all my cocktail rings, calls them “finger shields”, and acts like a super hero with the world’s strongest fingers.  THAT is funny stuff.  Similarly, the kids aren’t free to roam around the kitchen.  I know that is an area that I can display “nicer” items without fear of them breaking in a flying Angry Bird deluge.

kitchen matTip 4:  Shop in all departments for the best selection

Previously, I had a black kitchen mat from the kitchen mat section of our local home goods store.  Boring.  Sure I was being practical but it didn’t add anything special to the decor.  For this house I spent some time online and checked out rugs from several stores.  I came across this one from Urban Outfitters (no longer on the site but this one is similar) and decided it was just what I was looking for.  It is super bright and busy so it should hide spills well and it makes being in the kitchen more fun.  It really does.  And since we are in a rental, there are certain things we just have to deal with, like the worn cupboards and old faucet.  The rug really makes a big statement and hopefully detracts a bit from the things that could use some improvement.  May I also suggest having your grout professionally cleaned once a year?  I just had someone out to do the house and it completely changed the look of the kitchen.  It cost about $100 for the square footage of tile we have and it was TOTALLY worth it!

pop of color air plantTip 5:  Add some green and some pops of color

I have never had the inclination to have plants in my home before.  I never wanted to have yet another thing that I had to worry about.  But I’m craving green in the house right now.  I think it will make it feel more finished without setting little knick knacks everywhere that will just collect dust.  And adding little pops of color around the house are a really fun way to add interest without making a huge commitment like you would buying a crazy rug or large piece of artwork.  I will have you note that this adorable little air plant by Bird and Feather is placed up on the window ledge in my front bathroom.  I just know that if it was any lower, my boys would use it as a baseball.  See practical and stylish.

kids collection Tip 6:  Set up your kids toys as a casual display

The kid’s rooms are pretty small.  And while I would prefer all the toys to be put away, it is just not practical.  I selected some toys that “go together” to create a little collection that is set out for display on top of the dresser.  Know that anything “out” will get played with and that it will not always looks this way.  Kid’s toys SHOULD be played with but they can also look styled at the end of the day.  Clean up is easy as you just have to put them back on the dresser.  Kid’s rooms should be playful and have kid’s items but can also be a place to share age appropriate art and collectibles (on high shelves).  You can also keep the room to your style standards by choosing some rad bedding and a great rug.

Ok – now here is the trailer for Pretty Wicked Moms!  You’re welcome.

Tune in to watch parenting like you’ve never seen before with the first episode of Pretty Wicked Moms on Tuesday, June 4, at 10:00 pm ET/PT on Lifetime.

FTC DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENT:  Cupcakes and Cutlery aims to provide unbiased editorials. However, I wish to disclose that from time to time I may receive free products or other compensation from companies for blogger reviews.

 

 

 

 

 

My Son Likes Pop Music and I Still Love Him

I’m about to talk about something very serious.  Something that affects many families across the United States.  It is hard for me to even write it.  It makes it even more real to see it in print.  But here goes.  My son loves pop music.  While he used to be a fan of rock and roll, his tastes have turned more Disney than Def Leppard.  And it is hard for my husband and I to accept.  For years we could all enjoy music in the car together.  And listening to music at dinner included old faves from the Ramones and David Bowie.  Now our dinner dance breaks are filled with pop tartlets.

I don’t know where we went wrong.  It was always my intention to share all kinds of music with him (except country – eww).  From music my mom listened to, which seemed to very much inspire a lot of the bands I am listening to today, to grunge, to jazz to some rap (what’s with all the crassness, you guys?) we wanted him to love it all.  He seemed to always gravitate towards rock music and requested a rock and roll themed 3rd birthday party (video invite above).

stage for rock star partyMy husband built him a stage for the party and we set out tons of musical equipment for the kids to use and perform with.

DrummingHe loved jamming on his play drums and thought wearing tank tops made him lock like a rock star.  He sang along with Beat on the Brat and Blitzkrieg Bop.  He nonchalantly started a pretend band and created his own songs.  A few of our faves were “You Gotta be Tough”, “Clean People Don’t Get Dirty”,  “I’m So Sorry” – uplifting and rocking.

ballad singingHe dabbled in ballads.  This photo was taken moments after he saw a Pete Yorn music video (remember when they used to play music videos on TV?).  He sat there, still, taking it all in.  Then grabbed his guitar and headed straight to his stage to try his hand at  slower style songwriting.

writing musicThen there was that day when we were sitting at the table together and I looked over and he was writing his own music.  I can only imagine that he picked this up in preschool.  It isn’t like we have song books laying around the house.  While my husband and I love listening to music, we are NOT musically talented.  I had high hopes that he was going to continue on his way to rock super stardom.  But somewhere along the way, he decided to start watching the Disney Channel.  And started liking the music that the underage phenoms were playing.  He started not requesting our usual greatest hits soundtrack and asked me to download the soundtrack to Disney’s Shake It Up and Kids Bop 379.  By his Lego Dance Party 6th Birthday party our playlist was almost exclusively pop music.  And he was in heaven on the dance floor.  But my husband and I would just look at each other, trying to support his obvious love of the music in hopes that one day he would again find a way to let the rock back in.

his first electric guitar sessionThen he got the chance to play a little electric guitar at a friend’s house.  We thought this would be it!  But alas, it hurt his fingers.  Why oh why did no one give him a pick!?!  I truly believe that if he had used a pick his finger wouldn’t have hurt and he would currently be on an arena tour.  But I digress.  I would be remiss to not bring up his absolute obsession with Gangnam Style (one potential birthday party theme for his upcoming 7th birthday).  For as much as it makes me want to smash the iPod when he plays it on repeat for half an hour (that is my current threshold –  I believe that it is physically impossible to listen to it for longer than that without ending up on Oxygen channels show Snapped) he LOVES it.  There is no greater joy for him than dancing along to Psy and singing his favorite song.  His joy brings me happiness so I allow these marathon dance sessions.  I am curious to see where this current love of pop music will lead.  He was told by a boy one grade older  that Gangnam Style is out and Harlem Shake is in (side note – I totally want to film a Harlem Shake video…) and he has mentioned that to me several times, incredulously.  It lead to a discussion on what popular means.  But I made sure he knew he was still free to like what he likes.  He was relieved but I could see the wheels turning.  And I’m pretty sure I will find him checking out Harlem Shake videos on YouTube in the near future.  I am still hopeful, however,  that he will be open to adding back in some rock music at some point.  But even if he doesn’t, I will always love my pop music loving son.

 

Jonathan Adler shares quick summer entertaining tip

 

 

 

Jonathan Adler shares summer entertaining tip  CLICK THIS LINK FOR VIDEO

 

Wait, what was that?  Was that my name at the beginning of the video?  Why, yes it was.  That’s right.  Jonathan and I are bff now.  I’m feeling a little bit like the Mrs. today.  Ok, he has no idea who I am but I still totally geeked out that he said my name in the video (nerd alert).  Check out Jonathan’s quick tips for fabulous summer entertaining brought to you by Diet Pepsi.  For more summer fun follow #dpfunfizzflair around the interweb.  So far, the rad paper straws from me previous post have been spotted in a Seattle Target but I have yet to see them here in Orange County, CA.  Keep me posted if you see them!

*This is not a compensated post.  I was sent product and the most coveted straws in all the land.  All opinions are mine.  It is no secret, I think Mr. Adler is the cat’s meow.