Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What we've been up to...

I have several specific posts in the works, but of course we get slammed with the hefty cold that is going around so they are still in the works. We all got sick in rotation to maximize it's effects on our household. I finally left the house today after over a week of laying around feeling miserable. I still feel miserable, but the kids are on the mend so I took advantage and got us out!

It started three weeks ago, Malakai started acting out and become a bit unruly. I took him in to get his ears checked after he casually mentioned some pain. He had some swelling and fluid but no redness or other signs of infection. A few days later he was still in pain so we went back and he had double ear infections. Then a couple weekends ago Des wasn't acting himself and threw up at the dinner table…with all my in-laws present. What a joy that was, poor kiddo. He didn't vomit anymore but was acting sick and sad for a few days. Malakai subsequently got sick from his antibiotics (even while taking probiotics) so we had to go in for a 3rd time and they switched the prescription. 

Right on cue, as they started to get a bit better Ben + I came down with a hacking cough. It started off as just irritating but mine took on a whole life of it's own. I've not had a cold this bad in many years. Then last week Des woke up from a nap at Grandma's with a fever, that night he woke with a barky cough and stridor. Thankfully we had a refill left on his prescription from last time he had croup so we picked that up over the weekend and he started to feel better. Now he and I have that lingering cough. He only coughs a few times a day, I cough every time I try to talk and then some. 

So, what else have we been up to? Watching entirely too much television, snuggled up on the couch, drinking plenty of water and napping. Thrilling stuff, I know. I'm hoping we can be done with sickness for the rest of the winter and move on with life!

Coming up, I have posts on Homeschool Preschool, cloth diapering, and features and giveaways. Some of you may have seen my posts on Instagram + Facebook, but if you missed it we have a very exciting giveaway coming up from Freshly Picked, who just appeared on Shark Tank this past Friday! I can't wait! 

One other thing- I often use Picmonkey for quick photo edits and other embellishments (like our digital Christmas card this year). Here's a code to use the paid features (Royale) for free for a day http://www.picmonkey.com/free_4_friends/11e4313c1 

Don't forget to become a fan of our new Facebook page to keep track of new posts here as well as tips, deals, and giveaways exclusive to our Facebook fans. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Another Way to Read

Ever since Google Readers shut down last summer, I've been a Feedly convert. However, I figured I might as well stake my claim on Bloglovin' as well for those of you who read there.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Ever since the switch, do you use a reader? Which do you prefer? Or do you just hop around to websites, perhaps using bookmarks the old school way? No shame in that!

And if you use feedly but don't follow there yet, just click on the first watercolor button under my photo on the left to get started.

Happy Reading!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Big Dandy Designs Winner + Sale

Thanks again to everyone who participated in the Big Dandy Designs Giveaway. If you missed it, head on over to Elizabeth's shop to check out her current sale, going on until February.

We tried a little something different with the last giveaway. To incentivize entrants to share the giveaway on social media there was a 2nd prize that would be unlocked upon reaching a minimum number of entrants. Unfortunately, while there were a lot of entries, not enough people entered to unlock the 2nd prize. Maybe next time, friends!

However, the winner of the 1st prize,  $20 credit to Big Dandy Designs is 

Aimee C!

Our winner has been notified by email. She will have 48 hours to claim her prize or an alternate will be chosen. 

Be sure to follow Breaking New Ground on Facebook to find out about future giveaways and other promotions. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Big Dandy Designs Feature, Review, + GIVEAWAY!

Elizabeth of Big Dandy Designs is one my nearest and dearest friends. She is like a sister to me and I'm so excited to share her gorgeous artwork with you today! Read on to learn more about her and her creative process. 

Where are you located and where are you from?
I am originally from Veneta Oregon ( a tiny town you might miss on your way to the coast) and am now settled not too far away in an even tinier town called Alvadore. I tried the city and it just didn't impress me. Too much noise and not enough room for a garden.

How did you come up with your shop name?
I had been tossing around ideas but as I was listening to my girls compare summer scrapes and bruises one morning I heard my youngest say "look at this big dandy!" I liked how it reflected the coolness and enormity of what she was talking about and thought it fit how I feel about what I do.

How long have you had your shop?
I technically opened in 2008 but really didn't have inventory or a direction. I sold originals exclusively and as my day time job changed I didn't have time to paint regularly. This February bumped up production and now sell archival prints which are far more affordable. 

What inspires you?
I guess you could say I have two main styles I am drawn to:
The whimsy side is inspired by nature. Almost all of my artwork is of what plants and flowers grown in my own yard and garden.
The Arts and Crafts movement is also a very large part of the work I do. My husband and I have remodeled many homes over the years finally building our dream Bungalow home. 

What is your favorite item in your shop?
I guess it changes from season to season. Right now I am in love with the pine cones. They are from a picture I took of a tree on my last trip to Sunriver Oregon. Every painting from nature has a story for me and bring up great memories. 

Do you have any other jobs or hobbies?
If I could, I would do everything! I love gardening, outdoor activities, reading, knitting, crafting, baking, decorating...the list could go on! But, I still have one child in school, a contractor husband whom I help on jobs whenever he needs me and a small hobby farm to keep up with. I'm a busy lady so I have to schedule what I call Big Dandy Days and treat it like a full time job. 

Share an interesting fact about yourself.
Hm, I am obsessed with documentaries and podcasts. Right now I am hooked on Ted Talks and anything to do with food though I indulge in an episode of What Not to Wear every once in a while. 

What do you hope your future holds?
I would love to be in several juried shows each year and, with a bit more practice, selling my work in oils as well. 


Shandell's Review

I may be a tad bit obsessed with Liz's paintings. The first time I realized her artistic ability was when she handed out cards at church on Mother's Day and I saw her initials in the corner. When I asked she casually said that she did make them. I proceeded to tell everyone I came across that morning. If she wasn't going to brag, I was going to do it for her! I currently have a little bit of Big Dandy Designs in nearly every room of my house. I was pretty thrilled to get a few pieces to review for you all. 

Big Dandy Designs' prints are printed with Epson Ultra Chrome pigment inks on Archival Velvet Fine Art Paper, which looks and feels just like the original watercolor! The paper and ink are made to keep each piece bright and clear for up to 200 years! 

I love the varied styles she creates and the rich contrasts. My favorite thing about all her paintings is that she has such an eye for color, I never tire of looking at her work. 

Now that you see for yourself that Liz is immensely talented,  I'd encourage you to head on over to her blog, Bramblefield to read about the goings on at their place. She's crafty, she can cook, garden, and raise sheep! I honestly don't know if there's anything she can't do! Head over to her blog for all sorts of inspiration and the occasional free printable! 



Liz is generously offering a $20 shop credit to Big Dandy Designs. This means you get to pick out your favorite piece for your home + she'll send them your way. 

BONUS- if this giveaway reaches 20 entrants she is throwing in a 2nd prize of a $10 shop credit. That means if you share this post and it gets enough entrants (not 20 entries, but 20 individual people entering the giveaway) you could have twice the chances of winning. So please be sure to share this giveaway on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, word of mouth and any other way you see fit to make sure we get to those 20 entrants. 

Need help using the Rafflecopter widget? See my post for a tutorial here
UPDATE- if you are browsing on an iPad please verify that your comment went through, it should show up immediately. Feel free to message me by email or on Facebook should you have any trouble while I work to fix this issue. Thanks!

This giveaway begins on Friday January 10th, 2014 and will end by Friday January 17th, 12:00am PT. Contest open to US residents only. 
A winner will be chosen at random by Rafflecopter, the winner will be announced shortly after the contest ends and notified by email. . 

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

Can't wait for the giveaway? Check out the current sale going on at Big Dandy Designs…

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

How to enter a Rafflecopter Giveaway

After trying out the new fangled way of doing giveaway entries with widgets, it seems that a large number of my readers had a hard time figuring out how to complete the entries properly. Sadly, this meant that many entries did not count. I'd hate for you to attempt to enter only to be disqualified. So, before my next big giveaway I wanted to help you all out by sharing a how-to with some additional tips.

Watch the short video below for a quick overview of the basics...

If you need additional help with these basics, head to THIS post on Rafflecopter's blog for more details.

Some in-depth tips for entering giveaways here at BNG: 

1. The biggest thing is that you have to pay attention to the details. Each entry is going to ask you to complete certain tasks, you must do these tasks or your entry won't count. I have a feeling some people just click on the submit button and forget to do the rest. Verification of your tasks being completed is how you are eligible to win via your entries. 

2. Complete the MANDATORY entry correctly or the rest of your work doesn't count. The last two giveaways have had a mandatory first entry that when completed, unlocked additional entries. The bummer is, if you don't complete the mandatory entry correctly, your extra ones don't count either. Here's a little visual. My notes are in blue, marks to highlight areas on orange. 

I've set mandatory entries similar to the one above-  "visit the featured shop's website, then comment on the giveaway post with your favorite item they sell." My first Rafflecopter giveaway, half the entrants didn't leave a comment at all. A few others just commented and said something basic like "great giveaway!"….that doesn't count either for that particular entry. A comment like "My favorite item is the grey infinity scarf." would be perfect. The point is to get you to check out the featured shop, then comment on the post with the proof! Got it? 

3. Lastly pay attention to the details and verify your work in the additional entries. The entries are going to have tasks for you to perform before clicking to receive credit will count as another entry under your name. Some examples include: 
  • favorite an Etsy shop- you will be asked to leave your Etsy username to verify
  • follow a twitter account- you will need to leave your twitter username to verify
  • tweet about a giveaway- you will be asked to leave a link to the tweet to verify
  • like a Facebook page- Rafflecopter verifies this one automatically, just hit "like" 
  • like a Facebook status or photo- you will need to leave your Facebook username to verify
  • comment on Facebook- you will need to leave your Facebook username to verify
  • visit another blog- you will be asked to comment on that blog post and leave the name you            commented under on rafflecopter 
Some of these entries are right on the Rafflecopter form, so you don't have to go to another website. Others you'll have to head over to Facebook, Etsy, or someone's blog. They're all relatively quick to complete.

Please take note that I will NEVER set an entry that requires you to post or share something on your Facebook timeline. While I think it's a great way to share pages, blogs, and shops with your friends, it's against Facebook's policies to ask users to advertise on their timeline for contest entries. However, in the upcoming giveaway, I it is okay to encourage you to share on your timeline, it just cannot be in exchange for anything (i.e. a contest entry) or it would be considered advertising.

I hope I've clarified everything that may have kept many of you from entering correctly, or perhaps at all. If you are still confused, or have specific questions feel free to leave a comment below, or on my Facebook page. You can also email me or send a private message on Facebook.

Thanks to all of you who have entered giveaways here at Breaking New Ground. The more entries each gets means more and bigger giveaways in the future, so don't hesitate to enter and encourage your friends to do so as well so I can keep offering fun opportunities to learn about new and different shops through giveaways!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Holiday Recap 2013

As always, Christmas zoomed by in a blur. We ventured out to get our tree the day after Thanksgiving again this year.

We had a great time this year re-visiting the "reason for the season" with Malakai and teaching it to Desmond. We did an advent calendar that I made from a few inspirations floating across the internet. I may be able to get one more good use out of it next year before it falls apart. They loved to "poke the number" and listen to part of the Christmas story while eating a small treat (sometimes a chocolate chip, sometimes a peppermint mini marshmallow) each night after dinner.

We read multiple books about Jesus' birth connecting it to why we give gifts at Christmas. We even played along with the craze that is Elf on The Shelf along the way. The boys named our elf "Friddle" and he didn't get into any trouble at our house. He also wasn't here to watch for behavior, just for fun. At our house Santa believes in grace, so naughty or nice everyone gets gifts to celebrate Jesus' birth. The boys LOVED waking up to find out where Friddle would be each morning, for us it  turned out to basically be a festive game of hide and seek. Friddle did write them a letter at the end of his time here this season to make sure they understood he wouldn't be back until next year.

Malakai got really into writing lists and letters over the last month. He made a list for Santa that included a snowboard after the big snow we had early in the month. We had a few talks about what would happen if he didn't get exactly what was on his list.

On the 22nd we made like crazy people and took the boys to the mall to visit Santa. We aren't big on visiting Santa. 2 years ago Kai just stood next to Santa while he held Des who was just 2 months old. We didn't even bother last year. Des was at the age Kai was when he was afraid of Santa (2 years in a row) so we just didn't worry about it.  Malakai asked to visit him this year, he was so sweet and very excited that we decided to surprise him after church. Thankfully it was the best time to go as it was just before the lunch rush. We did wait about half an hour but they were both really well behaved through it and rocked when we got to Santa. They both sat on his lap, smiled and kindly told Santa what they'd like for Christmas. I almost cried out of pure shock at how well it went.

Ben has been on vacation since the 23rd so we've thoroughly enjoyed having him home. It also really opened up our ability to get together with multiple parts of the family over the week. We exchanged gifts with my parents and siblings on the morning of the 24th, went to the Christmas Eve service at our church that afternoon and then had dinner and exchanged gifts with Ben's parents, siblings and their significant others. It was a long day, but a really good one.

{gifts at G'Pa + Mima's}

{gifts at Grandpa + Grandma's}

When we got home we let the boys open their traditional gift of Christmas jammies, snuggled up in them and they listened to daddy read The Night Before Christmas.
{my new favorite picture of the boys, so precious and magical}

They were pretty excited and Des took a bit to get to sleep, but once they were out we finished some wrapping and got the house ready for the next morning.

The boys woke up to find a half eaten cookie and a note from Santa. Kai was thrilled, but didn't understand why Santa didn't eat ALL the cookies. Sweet boy.

My sister-in-law Kristi made cinnamon rolls for everyone the night before so we heated those up and had a special breakfast before getting to gifts. We opened stocking gifts from Santa and exchanged gifts from each other. Ben and I haven't done gifts for each other beyond stockings the last few years and it works really well for us. Each kiddo gets a "big" present which I got great deals on so we kept spending very low this year. Kai got a remote control helicopter, which he is learning to use with daddy. We got Des a Little People Nativity set that he loves to arrange and play pretend with.

This year we had nearly the whole day to ourselves, it was very relaxing. We even snuck in a little Christmas nap, which was at the top of my wish list! Late that afternoon we headed to my aunt and uncle's for dinner and gift exchanges.

When we got home Desmond was struggling to go to sleep (that has been his thing for the past few months, we are very tired all the time) so while I waited for Ben to soothe him I lay down and fell asleep...at 8pm! So we called it an early night.

The next day was pretty low key until we had some more family over for dinner and our final gift exchange. It was nice to fill out home with people, it had been far too long. It's always a nice incentive to keep things clean and tidy as well!
{gifts with great-uncle Richard and great-aunt Jennifer, playing trains in their new chairs with Aunt Nans}

In the days since our Christmas celebrations we celebrated my birthday and the New Year. I'm so blessed by the generosity of our family. My husband put together a small gathering of our immediate families and everyone pitched in with food, all we had to do was show up!

New Year's Eve we spent a few hours with my siblings over dinner, but put the kids to bed at their regular time. They struggle with sleeping all night anyway so we didn't think keeping them up til midnight would be worth it. I didn't even make it. We were watching something on Netflix, Ben paused and got up for a few minutes and I had passed out before he came back. We called it a night at 11:30, which is even earlier than last year when we gave up at 11:50. I do think we should get a sitter and go out next year to do something different…we'll see if I still feel that way at the end of the year.
{reading with Aunt Nans and making glittery NYE crowns}

{showing off our lovely crowns, Kai wore his ALL night and wanted to sleep in it}

Ben's vacation and the holidays have gone by in a blur. Despite all the hustle and bustle we did have multiple chances to spend time just the 4 of us playing and relaxing, for that I am so very grateful.

I'm not much for resolutions but I'm looking forward to setting goals for myself and our family and at the top of the list is to seek God first and teach our boys to do the same.

Happy New Year!

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