Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Our Christmas Card

Saturday, December 21, 2013

and the winner is...

Amy V!

Amy has been emailed and has 48 hours to respond to claim her prize of a set of Christmas "Beau" Ties from Bear & Fox Designs

Thank you to everyone who participated! While it's too late to order for Christmas delivery, be sure to check out Bear & Fox Designs on Etsy to order something fun for the little people in your life, or yourself! If you like their Facebook page you can keep an eye out for special deals all year long. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bear & Fox Designs: feature, review, + GIVEAWAY

I met Rianna of Bear & Fox Designs through her sister-in-law, Aimee of our last feature Crowned with Beauty. I got to know her better on a girl's weekend last month and now I get to introduce you all to her and her craft talents...

Where are you located + are you from there originally? 
We are located in the little town of Rogue River Oregon.  My husband and I are both from Southern Oregon and would love to stay in the area.

How did you come up with your shop name
The store was created for my two little boys, Ezekiel and Elias.  Zeke has always been our careful and observant bear, and Eli is our feisty fox.  We wanted a name that could grow with our designs, and our family.

How long have you had your shop?
We officially opened in November of 2012.  It has been a crazy, and amazing journey this past year.  We have grown the store and had amazing support from friends and family. 

What inspires you? 
Our inspiration is based on our lifestyle currently.  Eco friendly and budget friendly.  We strive to make things from re-purposed or eco materials.  I love designing things for boys, because basically there is not much offered out there.  I truly enjoy dressing my little men, and allowing them to have trendy fashions.  I want to be the kind of mom who allows them to be whoever they want, and inspire them to try new things, including new styles.

What is your favorite item in your shop?
 I think the boys Suspender/ Bow tie sets are my favorite product right now.  There are so many different styles and patterns to choose from.  They are super versatile , and I have really enjoyed designing them.

Do you have any other jobs or hobbies?  
I am a stay at home mommy and love my job!  I love the outdoors and anything that reminds me of the outdoors. Camping has been a great activity for my family for the past few years.  I love going on long runs with the stroller, and taking the boys to the park.  I also enjoy finding nasty old things and turning them into treasures.

Share an interesting fact about yourself
I am a true hippie at heart.
I would love to live in a cabin off the grid if i could, and live off the land.  One day i hope to live in the woods, with some little chickens and a lavender field.  I have also secretly always 
wanted to have dreadlocks (its always been my little secret) :)

What do you hope your future holds?
I hope that our business grows and allows my husband to work fully on the business from home.  I am thankful everyday that Bear and Fox Designs has provided for my family, and i pray that it continues to grow.  It has been the biggest blessing for my family, for my sweet little boys. 


Shandell's Review

Rianna sent a set of festive "Beau Ties" for my boys. I made her no promises that I would be able to get either to try them out, but I was pleasantly surprised. They were easy to get on and Desmond barely noticed his. Kai on the other hand is very picky about clothing, but he even tried one on for long enough to get a few photos. 

{dapper Des}

I loved that I could easily clip one to Malakai's T-shirt (pajama's no less) to snap a few funny photos of his forced smile and everlasting bed head. Somehow he still looked dressed up thanks to the red tie. Later he told me the green is his favorite, I'm holding on to hope that he might even wear it for Christmas, if just for a few more photos. 

Desmond and I had fun trying out a couple and taking photos. He didn't try to pull it off once. These little ties are just the right size for little guys. Something bigger or stiffer would likely poke and annoy. These didn't touch his face or neck at all, I didn't even have to button his shirt up all the way to put it on. A bow tie we have that went with an outfit we bought a while back fell off frequently, in these Desmond climbed and jumped and played as normal with no problems. 

Later Kai wanted in on the fun and I snapped this hilarious picture. The bow tie really makes each photo so much cuter. I am confident Desmond will be wearing these ties to our holiday gatherings this year. 

These are really well-made little accessories and I love the fun variety of fabrics that she offers them in, solids and patterns for every style. Such a simple and classic item. 

I'd highly recommend grabbing a set of these for the little boys in your life. They'd make a great Christmas gift! Order by Thursday, December 19th to ensure delivery by Christmas!  Currently $8 for one or buy the Christmas sets on sale for just $18!


Now for everyone's favorite part, a chance to win an adorable set of Beau Ties from Bear and Fox Designs

Des is excited for you!

Rianna is offering one reader of Breaking New Ground a set of Christmas Beau Ties, and $18 value. 

(do forgive me for not posting this in time for Christmas, the holidays have kept me busy and I've had some technical difficulties to boot, but trust me, you'll want your little man to wear these all year long!)

See the Rafflecopter form below to enter (if it's not showing, refresh the page)

>>>PLEASE be sure that you read the entry requirements carefully and complete all tasks before entering or your entries will be deleted. If you do not complete the 1st required entry, all entries will be void<<<

This giveaway begins on Tuesday December 17, 2013 will end by Friday December 20th, 2013 12:00am PT. Contest open to US residents only. 
A winner will be chosen at random by Rafflecopter, the winner will be announced by blog post here and notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to reply to email or an alternate will be chosen.

Disclosure: I received a 3 pack of Beau Ties for the purpose of review, no other compensation was provided for this review. All opinions are my own.This is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.  Click for additional disclosures and PR policies.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

snow + ice

Now that it has all melted, I'll commemorate the "arctic blast" of 2013. Let me preface for my readers that aren't so familiar with the Pacific Northwest, we don't get a lot of snow in the valley. In Eugene, Oregon we're only an hour away from the snowy mountains and that's where we go to experience large amounts of snow. Our usual winter is very wet and when we get snow it is still very wet and usually February or even March. Imagine our surprise when we were having temperatures in the teens and then woke up to a few inches of snow last Friday, dry + powdery made-for-tv type snow. Instead of melting by 10am, it just kept snowing. It snowed at our house nonstop for over 12 hours. It was glorious!

It was a blast to play in. If you follow Ben or myself on Instagram or Facebook you might have seen some slow motion videos Ben captured that day. If not, they're work a look!

We had a cozy morning watching the snow drift down like a fairytale while Ben made waffles (yes, I'm  a blessed wife) and sipped our hot coffees and snuggled the boys close. Desmond loved watching it come down, Kai was surprised but asked to go back to bed after we showed him it had snowed. Not the reaction we were expecting, but he warmed up quickly.

Just before lunch we ventured outside to play. It was about 17 degrees out, getting the boys layered took just about forever for about 15 minutes of play time. It was worth it though. 

Later that afternoon we bundled up again and decided to take a walk down to the park. It has snowed so much more that we sank into snow and didn't touch the ground, which was so surreal in our own neighborhood. 

Des in the snow around 11am, and again around 4pm…quite a bit deeper!

I laughed as I watched kids running down the street with snowboards, a total first for me. There is a big hill at the park so they were taking advantage. 

Ben + Des headed straight for the teeter totters and then all 3 of them tried out swinging in the snow. We were only there for about 5 minutes because it had taken so long to get there in the cold, it was getting dark, and a bunch of cold wind was blowing. We trekked home for hot cocoa and dinner.

The next day it was no longer snowing but the temperatures had fallen below 0 so everything stayed pretty well preserved. We went out to the park again, taking the wagon this time. 


It was interesting to see the difference between the night before and that morning. I took this shot of the same area of field next to the park…

My little dare-devils tried to play on the slide and climb the icy equipment until we distracted them with the deep snow and attempting to build a snowman. At one point Desmond started crawling around in the snow and laughing hysterically

The snow was too powdery to build a snowman at that point, which was just fine as the boys got cold enough to come in fairly quickly. In fact, I began to suspect that they just wanted to play outside so they could have hot cocoa when they came back in. 

We spent most of Sunday inside, but Ben + Kai played out front together during Desmond's nap. Kai had a blast throwing the snow at a tree and watching it stick. He also helped daddy shovel the snow from the side walk. 

Tuesday I made an attempt to take the boys in the snow on my own. Yep, it was still here. It was like it had snowed the day before, not 3 days ago. We just kept getting freezing weather that preserved it. It took 45 minutes for me to get them and myself suited up for the 20 degree chill. We kicked around out back and then attempted a snowman, but Des kicked it down. We tried again, but he was more of a snow-mound. It's hard to pack powdery snow. Kai gave him a big eye that looked like a patch so we decided he was a pirate. Then we went in of cocoa, naturally. 

The rest of the week we just observed the snow from inside. Enjoying it's bright glow and watching the birds eat the berries off the trees out back. Last night it "warmed" up and the rain finally came, turning the snow into quite the ugly mess outside. It's incredible how quickly snow disappears when it rains. 

We thoroughly enjoyed our winter wonderland, thanks Alaska, for sharing your weather. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mama's Weekend Out

On November 1st I was able to go on my first weekend away from my boys, without my husband. There were 5 of us all together that escaped to Downtown Portland for a weekend getaway.

{Kai took this photo of me while we waited for my ride}

Jamie, Aimee, Rianna and I left Eugene late Friday afternoon. We ate on the way up and then stopped in Oak Grove to meet up with Carina. She was at the "Puckett Love Shack", a gorgeous home owned by here aunt + uncle where Carina lived before she got married last year. They put on a lot of social events, but this was "First Friday" a casual potluck style gathering of friends, family and extended acquaintances on the first Friday of the month.

We gathered by the fire inside, got a tour of the house, and eventually went outside to the barn. It was such a fun time and the 4 of us with kids were relishing the ability to have long adult conversations with no interruptions and not having to get back home for bedtimes.

{Top: Jamie, Carina + I. Bottom: Shandell, Jamie, Rianna, Aimee}

Afterwards we headed to our hotel, lugging all of our stuff with us. We packed a lot of snacks and drinks. We unpacked, settled in and just enjoyed each other's company. The drive must have worn us out because we were all headed to bed before midnight. 

{In the barn @ PLS: red lighting courtesy of the toasty warm heat lamps}

Saturday morning we took our time getting ready. I snuck in a quick FaceTime chat with my guys.

Then we all split up for a bit. Carina + I went to coffee at Barista with my best friend from High School, Lindsey who lives in the area. It was great to catch up, as always. Afterwards we met up with Rianna + Aimee who were out shopping. We hit up Nordstrom Rack, and then Forever 21 and H&M at Pioneer Square. We have a Forever 21 in Eugene but it's probably a quarter the size of the Portland one, plus we had no limitations on time and no kids to tend to.

After lunch we headed back to the hotel to meet up with Jamie who had to tend to family business nearby. Then shopping again! I'm not a big shopper, but I just thoroughly enjoyed the social aspect of it. We had a great time. 

That night we went to dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery. Everywhere we went was nearby, we walked about 8 blocks from our hotel to the restaurant. During dinner there were a few mishaps, a spilled drink and a forgotten order so they brought us a free dessert and gave us the 40% employee discount for our "troubles", we were all thrilled, being the budget conscious ladies that we are.

Afterwards we spent more time at the hotel, and tried to go to sleep around midnight. However, our room was situated right next to the pool and weight room. The tv in the weight room was blaring nearly all night and then the sound of weights clanking on the floor woke us at 6am. A friendly complaint from Jamie and we got a free breakfast at the restaurant in the hotel, it was quite delicious. We were feeling pretty blessed by 2 discounted meals in a row.

Once we checked out we did some more shopping downtown and I was about to drop. The constant walking and lack of sleep was catching up to me. I still had a good time, I was just exhausted. Then we headed to Ikea, which is probably the last place you'd want to go when tired…but we don't have one so it was a must! I budgeted pretty tight so I only got a few things; some grey curtains that I'm super excited to put up along our sliding glass door once we paint the back living room, a few kid's room storage items, and a couple little toys to give the boys when I got home. I had only been to Ikea one other time, with Ben, YEARS ago and we didn't even realize there was more store downstairs. We went through the showroom and then thought the downstairs was just a warehouse for picking up your furniture. Imagine my surprise when I encountered miles more of Ikea goods. It was a little overwhelming but pretty exciting. Ben + I are already brainstorming a day trip there for just the two of us. 

We said our good byes to Carina and headed back to Eugene. I got dropped off at home just before 7pm Sunday night. I was so excited to see my sweet boys already in their jammies, waiting by the door for me to get home. Ben had the house ready for me to come home and relax in, cleaner than it was before I'd left. I missed them a ton, but was so grateful to take some time out for myself.

Thanks so much to Jamie for orchestrating the trip and to all the other girls as well. I had a great time visiting with all of you, I can't wait for next year!

Friday, November 22, 2013

'tis the season...

I've said or typed that phrase several times already this year. You may think I'm about to complain about the early Christmas decor, I'm not. Around here, 'tis the season for colds, croup, and earaches. 

My boys started with every mild symptoms that lingered on a couple weeks ago, I thought it was just a slight cold or the change in weather. Kai had a dry cough that was only at night and didn't keep him up at all. Desmond had no symptoms at all for a long while, and then just an occasional runny nose. 

Earlier this week Kai's cough became barky and persistent. Des was still fine, until a couple days later he woke at 3am barking like a seal and his breathing was raspy. Kai coughed so hard twice that he threw up. Desmond's stridor got worse the next day after his nap and we took him in. His lungs were clear but he was diagnosed with croup. We picked up a prescription steroid tablet and he gobbled it up in a spoonful of applesauce that night. His breathing was better that night, but his cough still kept him up. We filled the house with humidifiers and vaporizers and I rubbed Des in peppermint oil mixed in coconut oil. 

Kai started napping daily, on his own just putting himself to sleep and then still going to bed at a decent hour. It was obvious he was fighting something off, he hasn't napped that often for well over a year. 

Last night Malakai woke up yelling "no, no, ouch, ouch, ouch!". We thought he was dreaming and talking in his sleep as he occasionally does, but he said his ear hurt. Homeopathic drops, a hot pack and distractions weren't working, he just wouldn't sleep. He kept saying "I just want the pain to go out!" He and I were up from 11:30-3am. He finally fell asleep in his cot next to our bed after we gave him a small LED flashlight to distract him. By the grace of God I remained calm and reassuring. That, and I remember chronic ear infections as a child and how terribly painful they were. I think remember childhood is something that makes me a better parent on the regular. 

So Kai woke up at 6am this morning totally chipper, obviously excited to be in our room. I asked about his ear and he said it felt good. I called our Dr. and was surprised that even though we'd been in this week already they would have to schedule a full appointment to see him, I was hoping for a quick ear check. I decided against it since he felt better and the nurse said it was likely just fluid build up that had eventually run it's course. I'm so thankful and really prayerful that he won't develop an ear infection. With high deductible insurance it's not at all affordable to go in for sick visits. 

Many of my friends, especially those with small children are all in the same boat. Our pediatrician posted on Facebook about croup being really common right now, some of our good friends have an 11 month old with croup which is so scary to me! So, like I said, 'tis the season…for sickness. 

Stay well everyone, and have a warm + happy weekend. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Seaside mini-vacation

Over the summer some of our best friends, Michael + Megan, invited us to go on vacation with them to Seaside. They were gifted a week stay at the World Mark Resorts the previous Christmas. We didn't have enough vacation time to go during the week in October so we joined them during the weekend at the tail end of their trip.

We were excited about having the minivan in time for the trip, but the check-engine light came on the Thursday before. I took it for a quick free diagnostic and it was having a cylinder misfire. We knew we didn't have time to get it looked at before leaving, but Ben's parents generously loaned us their Tahoe for the weekend, so we were still able to go!

On Friday when Ben came home from work we loaded up and got on the road as soon as possible. We made a stop about halfway through at Bridgeport Village to eat a picnic style dinner I had packed and let the boys move their legs. They have a great play structure in the center courtyard. We climbed back in the car and headed to Seaside. It seemed like it took forever, it was nearly 8pm when we arrived. 

Once we got there we moved some things around to accommodate our needs in the extra room to get settled. We let the boys stay up late to wind down from their excitement and visited with Michael + Megan. Things got complicated when we went to put the boys to bed because I had packed only half of the baby monitor. Thankfully my techno-guru husband figured out that we could do a FaceTime audio-only call between our phones and mute one so we could hear them but they couldn't hear us. It worked great!

We stayed up late talking and poor Ben had to go in several times to soothe Des back to sleep, but once we went to bed he stayed asleep for a good long while. The next morning the boys came running out to the living room, where we were sleeping on a murphy-bed, wanting to play. We were SO tired. 

After a leisurely morning and a great breakfast made by Michael, we decided to head out to the beach. It was a short walk from our room to the beach access since the entire resort is right on the Seaside Promenade.

{the view from our room and a view of the resort from the beach}

{lots o' selfies}

In addition to half the baby monitor, I also forgot sand toys. So we brought some dishes and big spoons with us instead. They worked well-enough and the boys (all 4 of them) had a blast playing in the sand. It was warm and only slightly breezy, a beautiful day on the Oregon coast. 

We ate a really late lunch after cleaning off all the sand before heading out again. Michael + Megan had planned to take the boys on the carousel by all the shops down the street. Malakai only wanted to ride on the bench so he had to wait a couple rounds, but Desmond went on right away. He looked nervous when it started moving but got more comfortable and seemed to have a lot of fun.

Afterward we walked by the shops and Michael bought a bunch of deep fried desserts that we all tried. The consensus was that they were disgusting. Desmond fell asleep on Ben's shoulder on the walk home, so we let him snooze while we relaxed and thought about dinner.

The boys ate dinner and went to bed a few hours later. We ate a really late dinner and stayed up talking into the night. 

Sunday we woke up to clouds and fog that wouldn't burn off. We relaxed most of the morning. The boys colored, played video games and read. Michael made paper airplanes for Malakai and he was instantly hooked.
{checking out the foggy beach}

We took the boys to the small play area and game room at the resort and then decided to go for a walk on the promenade.

{caught instagramming}

{Michael, Desmond, Megan, Ben, Malakai, + I}

Malakai got sick of walking pretty quickly but we enticed him to go further by pointing out the swing set on the beach. Megan got this adorable picture of us that I just LOVE.

On our walk back Malakai + I found a caterpillar. After Kai tried holding it, Michael set it free.

{the boys LOVED air-hockey, Megan + I keeping each other warm, Kai with his new friend}

We relaxed some more back in our room until dinner. Megan and Michael made some amazing meals  (including Puerto Rican style plantains!) and introduced us to some yummy snacks over the weekend. Megan also read stories to both boys a few times which they loved. She even brought a childhood favorite of her own to share with Malakai called Mr. Pudgins.

After dinner we packed up our circus and headed home, but not before Megan loaded us up with a ton of food to take home with us and the most amazing brownies of all time!

{sunset from our room, back on the road}

We loved every minute of it and count ourselves blessed to have such awesome friends that would invite us to come share in their vacation with them.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Crowned with Beauty Winner + Special Offer

What a great giveaway to kick off my entry back into shop features, and the holiday season! Thanks to everyone who participated, especially those who have already made purchases from Aimee at Crowned with Beauty.

The winner of the lid + straw set for use with mason jar is…

The winner was chosen via Rafflecopter. Jenny has been emailed and has 48 hours to reply and claim the prize. Unclaimed prizes will be rewarded to an alternate, which will not be announced via blog post.

BUT WAIT, there's more!

Any purchases made from Crowned with Beauty between now and December 1st, 2013 is eligible to receive a free hand made ornament. All you have to do is mention Breaking New Ground and the ornament will be added to your order! Be sure to check back in to Aimee's shop to see all the lovely things she's added just in time for the holiday season!

Check back in here for more updates from us as well as additional features and giveaway in the coming weeks. If you peruse the internet via a reader, consider following Breaking New Ground's feed by clicking HERE or this handy dandy button to follow with feedly

Friday, November 8, 2013

Crowned with Beauty: Feature, Review, and GIVEAWAY!

It is with great anticipation that I introduce you to my good friend Aimee and her new to the internet shop, Crowned with Beauty. Take a few moments to read through and get to know Aimee and enjoy growing through her gorgeous handmade items. 

Where are you located + are you from there originally? 
I live in Eugene, Oregon with my family. My husband and I met here when we were in college. Some mutual friends of ours thought we would be good for each other so they introduced us. Both our families also live in the Northwest.

How did you come up with your shop name
I love making and filling my home with beautiful things. I also try to appreciate the beautiful things of life in all their forms. In the Bible, Isaiah chapter 61 talks about being bestowed with a crown of beauty to replace ashes. I think most women like the thought of that!

I decided to start the shop after I made a collection of mason jar drinking lids. I wanted to have special glasses that I could offer beverages in whenever I have guests over!

How long have you had your shop? 
I have been developing my shop for several months and I finally launched it in August. I have been really picky about what products I sell. There were a few items that I experimented with but ultimately decided not to offer. I want to make sure that every item listed is something that I personally love and recommend to others.

What inspires you? 
I am often inspired to make special memories with the people that I care about. I enjoy creating a lovely environment that reflects the moment or celebration. 

What are some of your favorite shop items?
My favorite item in my shop is the teal, hanging mason jar set. I think they are a great accent color and the hanging lid makes them much more versatile. Right now I am looking for a place to hang them in my kitchen so I can fill them with a number of items like pens and plastic forks. I also have one sitting on the counter in my bathroom.

Do you have any other jobs or hobbies? 
My full time job is raising my two kids. Titus is five and Eden is two. I also volunteer in the children's ministry at my church. My shop is the closest thing I have to a hobby. :)

What do you hope your future holds?

Grace for each new day and peace for all of life's uncertainties.


Shandell's Review

I've been friends with Aimee for quite a few years now. I've seen her put her crafting talents to use in her home, in throwing parties for her kids and baby showers for friends, and in gift giving. It made perfect sense to me when I found out she opened a shop of her handmade items. 

Last month she brought me a generous sampling of her lovely creations for me to try out. I really enjoyed putting them around my home. 

First thing I did was put the Mason Jar Drinking Lid and Straw to use. I love the teal color and it fits both small and large jars that I had on hand. I love using a straw as it helps me drink more water throughout the day. I've used it nearly every day since. And, it's dishwasher safe! She also sells them with jars in case you want to buy the complete drinking jar, or multiples!

I haven't put anything on my dining room table for over a year. My boys are finally old enough to leave things alone even though they are in reach.  I decided to put the set of 3 beautifully painted Mason Jar Candle Holders out on the table. First of all, I really love the red one because it ties in with my kitchen and dining decor. Second, they are the perfect shades for fall, the holidays, or any time at all. I put small battery powered tea lights in them for a lovely glow in the evenings. 

Another perfect item for fall is the Mason Jar Felt Cozy. I'd never though to use jars for coffee or tea, but this little felt cozy made drinking something of any temperature a delight in a medium sized jar. I used it for hot coffee, tea, and even iced water. It kept my hands warm without being too hot with the warm drinks and it kept the jar from sweating with the iced water. Plus it's absolutely adorable with the perfect little leaf and rich colors. 

Last, but not least she gave me a Quilted Mason Jar Candle Holder with hanging lantern lid . I added another little tealight and hung it in our entry way. It gives off a very pretty glow and the hanging chain makes it very versatile. I could see snagging quite a few of these and hanging them for outdoor entertaining. I could easily swap out the twine on the colored jars and add the lid to them if I'd like to hang them at some point. I love that her products can be used interchangeably! 

Aimee certainly has an eye for color and a talent for creating aesthetically pleasing decor. I really enjoy having little pieces of her shop in our home, adding a little warmth and beauty throughout. I'm not looking around at her shop and thinking of what members of my family might like most for Christmas gifts!



Aimee of Crowned with Beauty is giving readers of Breaking New Ground a chance to win a lid and straw set. See the Rafflecopter entry form below to enter!

This giveaway begins on Friday November 8th, 2013 will end by Wednesday November 13th, 2013 12:00am PT. Contest open to US residents only. 
A winner will be chosen at random by Rafflecopter, the winner will be announced on Thursday November 14th, 2013 and notified by email. Additional deals from purchases through Crowned with Beauty will be available once announced with the giveaway winner. 

Be sure to come back to check for the winner annoucement to see if you won AND to take advantage of a deal at Crowned with Beauty exclusively for readers of Breaking New Ground. 

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this review. All opinions are my own.This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.  Click for additional disclosures and PR policies.

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