Author Archive | rae

a new adventure

today is the first official day of the new adventure that is this blog.

in celebration, i want to give you this usa map poster as a free download!

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simply sign up for emails to access. a link will be provided on the “success” page!

xo . rae

printing details: after downloaded, posters can easily be printed at your local office or print store (kinko’s, staples, costco, etc.) and cost between $3 and $12. files can also be resized by percentage if you would like a smaller map.

 

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new york trip (part uno)

last week my husband whisked me away for my birthday to visit the big apple and my loved ones who live there (little bro, sis-in-law & nephew), & i would like to make it official,

 i-heart-NY

i’ve always suspected that i am a city girl living in the suburbs, but now i know for sure.

i would gladly trade in my minivan for a subway pass, a backyard for breathtaking parks full of people, and some square footage (not that i have much to spare) for a market, bakery and coffee shop within walking distance. just one questions… where do i sign the papers?

to be fair, visiting NY and living in NY with 4 kids in tow are probably two very different experiences and there were a few other things adding to my love affair with the city, including:

1. fall looked good on NY and the weather was an insanely beautiful 60 to 65 degrees most days. 2. exploring a new place while holding hands with my hunky husband makes me love wherever i am. 3. hugging and hangout with family that i usually see on the other side of face time was absolutely priceless.

…here’s what we did the first 2 days…NY-day-1

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* nephew on hip = happy auntie . stadium tour = happy husband *

 NY-halloween-1

* we hung out in park slope, brooklyn for halloween… the streets were so festive and full of kids & adults in costume! <3 *

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*it was a fun way to celebrate my bday, especially because my husband dressed up like willie from duck dynasty :). (best show ever). after walking the streets for awhile, we stopped into a cute little restaurant for happy hour and watched the parade go by from their patio. when all the trick or treaters went home, johan and i found a busy sports bar (with a gazillion tv’s) and watched some west coast college football (go cougs!) until way too late.*

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* hot dog in front of the metropolitan museum. another reason why i heart ny, food carts*

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*we took a few minutes in central park for family photo shoots – (my brother & his cute family). johan and i obviously have no problem being major dorks in public.*

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*have you heard of shake shack? they are famous for their long lines and the concept is absolutely genius with a simple menu (so you know everything is good) and fresh & fancy meets roadside vibe – i would fly to NY just for one of their burgers and shakes. so yum.*

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*i’m the opposite of a germaphobe and think hand sanitizer is only necessary after using a port-a-potty, but after being in a big city and using public everything, i have a new found appreciation for it!*

we ran around non-stop (baby logan was such a trooper!) and yet we probably only saw a fraction of what new york and the surrounding areas have to offer. there are also quite a few things that i didn’t take pictures of (like time square – so not my thing) but i still have a couple more days to share with you… more later :)

in the meantime, i would love for you to dish about some of your fave spots in NY as i’m already planning my next trip :)

xo . rae

{images from my iphone and my sis-in-law’s too!}

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beauty for ashes.

beauty-for-ashes-1so, i’ve been sharing a little bit more about my family lately but have been feeling like you need to hear the whole story…  how our family began.

there was a time in my life when a big family with a loving husband seemed like a long lost dream.  not even a possibility.  as in never.  going.  to.  happen.

you see….  i got pregnant with ozzie at the age of 20 and the situation was not good.  like a train wreck waiting to happen.  my life (and dreams) unravelled right before my eyes as i got ready to welcome my sweet son into the world.  those nine months and the year that followed consisted of a marriage that was broken before it started, the discovery of another child (not by me, of course), lies, poverty, and a husband struggling with addiction, and abuse.

jack's-3rd-birthday-party-invites-167when i finally mustered up enough courage to leave my marriage and be a single mom to the cutie above in orange stripes, i was completely broken.  a mere shadow of the woman God had created me to be.

then, one evening in september i read these words:

“to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes….” (isaiah 61 – here is a link to read the entire scripture)

like white on rice those words stuck to my heart.  oh how i needed beauty.  and a crown didn’t sound too bad either.  so i pondered and questioned and wondered until finally i flat out said, “jesus, if those words are true then take my ashes and make them beautiful.”

at the time, beauty to me looked more like  talking the utilities guy out of turning off our heat, an understanding professor, and a son that would be OK, despite the circumstances.

but God had more in mind.  including a fun-loving young man in a mascot suit….

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who i now get to call my husband.

about us the friis famand three more (beautiful) babes.

although the changes began immediately it was not an overnight process.  there was an in-between time that consisted of  lots of praying and committing and healing and some mess-ups and overcoming and many, many blessings.  even when circumstances looked bad, i could watch my well adjusted, joy filled little boy and know God was at work.  it would be more than OK.

one of the first tangible things that happened was that i got a paid internship with the athletic marketing office at school.  this is a miracle on many levels.  for one, a paid internship at a university is almost unheard of unless you are a grad student.  second, it was with athletics and i love that stuff. and third, i was able to have ozzie with me when i worked at games and it quickly became a little family for us.

i could continue with more examples, but i’m afraid this post would turn into a book!

so i will end with a cliche and say that i wouldn’t change a thing (well, maybe a couple things) because it’s made me who i am and brought me to a beautiful place.  but i would also like to note that i don’t believe this was God’s plan.  there was certainly a better way, but He used it for good all the same.

one of my greatest hopes after writing this is that you would look past me on this site and see Him.  His beauty and creativity and goodness.

beauty-for-ashes-print-2i also hope that one way or another my story encourages you or someone you know and as a little reminder i designed an art print using the crown seen at the top of this post to share.  you can click here or the image to download.

i would love for this to be a conversation, so please feel free to leave a note below or send me an email (rae.at.armommy.com).

xo . rae
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Mm, mm, good!

we all have those days, you know, the ones that start with a jump (after hitting snooze a few too many times) and frantically fly by with a million errands, car pool duties, kid wrangling, forgotten homework, never ending emails, meetings, and soccer practice. All of a sudden it’s dinnertime. These sweet (hungry) faces are looking at you with expectation knowing you’ll make something delicious.  You’ve just discovered your coffee in the microwave that you were warming up 8 hours ago, and the grocery store wasn’t one of the places you made it to that afternoon. Ugh.

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enter campbells’ skillet sauces (hooray!). campbells has always been a household brand with a reliable (and nostalgic) product and the skillet sauces are no different. a couple weeks ago while getting organized for a busy few days (3 bdays and halloween all in 5 days!) i loaded up on some flavors, including one from their new slow-cooker selection.   they made dinnertime effortless and delish – just boil noodles, start the rice maker and cook the meat. clean up is a cinch too and my cutie pie kids (and husband!) give dinner two thumbs up.

campbells-2these sauces take the stress out of making a hearty meal on the fly; i’ve already grabbed a couple extra to have on hand for those busy days. there is a great lineup of skillet and slow cooker flavors to choose from and for an added bonus there’s a $1 off coupon on their site (click on link below and then click the menu items along the top). Phew, with dinner done it’s time to heat that coffee back up and relax.


This post brought to you by Campbell’s Dinner Sauces. Weekend-worthy dinners with only weekday-level effort needed! Learn more at
http://www.campbellsauces.com/

side note, i was surpised at how many of my friends already had these sauces in their pantry… have you tried them!?

xo . rae

Disclosure: I received samples and compensation  for the purpose of this post however all thoughts are 100% my own.

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craft tray No. 3, pom poms

last week we stocked the kids’ craft tray with supplies to make some good old-fashioned pom-poms.  they’ve been keeping their busy hands, well busy, only a good kind of busy not a bugging my brother or coloring on the walls kind of busy.

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it’s been a good craft to have on hand and (bonus) doesn’t require many supplies or make too much of a mess. just a little fuzz. here’s what you’ll need…

_KID-supplies

YARN in different colors (it can get pretty spendy, but since your not knitting a sweater, look for the less expensive brands. the ones pictured above were between $3-$4 each.)

POM-POM MAKERS (follow the instructions below to make your own or these work really well and were available at our local craft store too.)

small pair of SCISSORS (your kid safe ones might be perfect!)

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_KID-how-to

1. if you purchase the pom-pom makers, follow the directions on the package to make the poms. if you are making your own draw 2-3 inch circles on a piece of cardboard (the thickness of a cereal box) and cut it out. then draw a 1 inch circle in the center of each cardboard circle and cut them out so you have templates that look like doughnuts.

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2. stack circles on top of each other and begin winding yarn through the centers and around until they are completely full and covered. cut a long piece of yarn (about 8 inches) and set aside.

3. cut the yarn in the middle around the outside of the circles, making sure to hold the cardboard firmly together. grab the long piece of yarn you cut earlier and thread it between the two cardboard circles. pull tightly and make a double knot.

4. carefully pull the cardboard from the pom-pom, trim any long pieces of yarn and your done!

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i was hoping to have a plethora of poms to choose from to make a fall garland, but the kids seem to find a use for them as fast as they make them. not that i can blame them… they are pretty cute.

don’t you think?

here’s tray no. 1 and no. 2 if you want to go take a peek!

xo . rae

{images by stacy jacobsen}

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painted drinkware

we recently got rid of our hodgepodge collection of drinking glasses and mason jars, and replaced them with 2 sets of these cute handled jars by libbey. with a cupboard full of the same exact glass, i knew i would need to do some embellishing – painted numbers seemed like the perfect touch!

painted-glasses

 here’s how to  D I Y !

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drinking glasses, glass paint, paint brush, rubbing alcohol, silhouette/cricut and vinyl, OR clear contact paper, exacto knife and printed page of numbers in your favorite font

armommy-makes-blog-graphics-how-toif you have a silhouette or cricut cutting machine, create your number template.

if not, don’t worry! just print off numbers the size you want, lay the contact paper over the top, trace and cutout using an exacto knife.

with a rag or cotton ball, use the rubbing alcohol to clean the glasses where you want to paint.

peel the backing off of the contact paper or vinyl and stick on the glasses.

fill in the number stencils with paint and peel off the stencil before the paint dries… (the first few glasses we did i waited until the paint dried and when i pulled the stencil off, the paint came with it!)

to finish, follow the directions on the bottle of glass paint. (mine had me let the glasses dry for 4 days and then bake in the oven before using and washing.)

the fam bam has been loving our numbered glasses and i wish we had more so i could make some with polka-dots or other fun patterns… maybe i’ll have to save that for christmas gifts!

w h a t   w o u l d   y o u   p a i n t   o n   y o u r   d r i n k i n g   g l a s s e s ?

**UPDATE: as luck would have it, my friend emily posted a similar tutorial today and shared pictures of the process.  head here if you want to take a peek!**

xo . rae

(images by stacy jacobsen)

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griffey is two (cool)

to the (coolest) birthday boy,

i’ve been a mom long enough to know that these toddler days fly by, but this time around it seems more like lightning speed.

(here come the waterworks!)

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a few things i (especially) adore about you at 2…

you are the only one with your daddies eyes and every time you smile, with those front teeth, and big gap, and one dimple, i kinda want to eat you.

you love music and have some rad dance moves that you show off at least a couple times a day.

you have the pickiest palette, (but we are working on it) and recently started glaring at me when we aren’t in agreement.

you only have a few words, but the ones you have, you use well. the day you start speaking in sentences i’m pretty sure we’re all in trouble.

you are greatly loved.

and very good at loving back.

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h a p p y   b i r t h d a y !

xo . mama

PS – what are your thoughts on the year of the 2 year old?  terrible or terrific?  let us know in the comments below!

(images by stacy jacobsen)

(birthday sign can be found on spoonflower with a tutorial here.)
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5 minutes of fame (literally)

if you’ve stopped by any of the armommy homefronts over the last week, you may have heard that we were on a DIY segment for our local Seattle morning show, new day northwest.  if you haven’t seen it yet, the video is below….  (for a special treat – pay close attention to tilly and what she does with the paintbrush in her hands at around minute 4:45.  oh Tilly…)

we had such a great time and i kinda wish it was something we did every week!

of course being on TV was fun, but the best part was having the entire fam bam there, including my husband, mom, kidlets, and brother-in-law, i was also so lucky that my uber-talented chic friend, stacy joined us to take beautiful pictures capturing behind the scenes moments from the show.  i thought it would be fun to share some of the pics with you – so excuse me while i relive all of the fun we had (and post a borderline embarrassing amount of pictures of myself).

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(here is the brood post-segment. it was the last pic taken of the day, but since it so wonderfully encompasses the happy crew, it feels like a good place to start. left to right: gamma jane, espen, griffin, johan, me, ozzie, tilly, and uncle mark.  a fun side note, we took this picture in front of the sound stage for almost live – which was a local comedy show i used to watch as a kid.)

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(the first thing we did upon arrival was set up backstage.  anytime i’ve seen or been apart of a production like this, i’m blown away with how much goes into it. so many people and moving parts!)

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(here i am meeting the host, meeghan black.  she was incredible to work with and made me feel right at home on stage.)

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(ready to get camera ready with tilly…)

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(…then mostly playing instead.)

armommy-new-day-118(and then back to camera readiness…getting makeup done in a director’s chair feels like serious business!)

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(ready on set…  around this time i am relaxing and hoping i don’t have that awkward morning show segment smile some people get.)

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(tilly being tilly.)

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(see some of my handsome guys off to the left? heart melters.)

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(chatting with the audience for a few quick minutes, while my kids hung all over me, was one of my favorite parts.)

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(the armommy gals! thanks mom for being such a great sport and showing off your mad fort building skills!)

so there you have it, a glimpse into our big day!  having a day like this was one of those things i dreamt about doing from the time we started our little company…. it never ceases to amaze me when those seemingly impossible and random dreams come true.

have you ever had a time in your life where you paused and realized that you had made it to a moment you had only dreamed about achieving? was it everything you expected it to be or less/more?

xo . rae

(images by stacy jacobsen)

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craft tray no. 2 – rain makers

the other morning, while putting on my makeup, i turned around to find all 4 of my kids huddled around, asking me questions, getting into my drawers, knocking things over and hanging on my legs. now, to do this story justice i also have to add that my bathroom is the size of a small closet. soooo i was just a little flattered (but a lot claustrophobic) that in a house full of open rooms and tons of toys, they were willing to cram themselves into a tiny space just to hangout with me.

sometimes my kids make me feel so cool….

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… other times i would do (almost) anything for a few (but really 30) minutes to complete a task on my own, without a little helper – and because i’m hoping i’m not the only one out there who has those moments, i’m going to start a new monthly series all about simple crafts kids can do by themselves. however there is always the chance that the project will be so much fun you can’t help but get sucked in!

one thing i highly suggest having for all of these projects is one tray designated to hold supplies.  it’s the easiest way i’ve found to keep kids craft time tame and in one place and makes cleanup (not to be confused with organizing) easy for the kids. click here to read more about my love affair with trays.  i’m slightly obsessed.

_KID-craft-tray-august

since it’s august and i’m guessing most people would welcome a little rain to break up the summer heat, i thought a rain stick would be the perfect project for the kids.  here’s what your tray will need.

(***NOTE: please use your own discretion about what is safe and age appropriate for your kids to craft with, especially without your full supervision***)

_KID-supplies

small nails (hardware store), masking tape (I bought the colored rolls from target), printer paper cut into 4ths, cardboard rolls (think paper towel, wrapping paper, or t.p.), and plastic beads (craft store – dried beans would work too!)

_KID-how-to

to make the rain sticks, cover one end of the tube with paper and tape it in place. then have the kids poke nails into the seam around their cardboard tube. next they can fill it ½ to ¾ of the way up with beads. cover the open end with paper and tape so nothing falls out. lastly you’ll want the kids to cover the tube and nails by wrapping it in tape or drawing a picture to cover the tube and taping it in place.

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if you still need a little more time, have the kids make one for you too (or the dog, neighbor, etc. – whatever keeps em’ busy!) and then head outside for a little rain making dance party!

_ARMOMMY-kids-hashtag

we love seeing how you use our projects and ideas so if you would like to join a hashtag party, use #armommykids when sharing images on instagram or twitter. of course you can always tag us @raefriis on insta or @armommy_llc on twitter, too!

how do you keep your child(ren) occupied while you get ready in the morning, respond to emails, do some pinning, make dinner, etc….?!

xo . rae

(images by stacy jacobsen)

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halloween ink.

oh, my! it’s been a little cray-cray on the armommy home-front… lots of cool changes (hint, hint) going on that i can’t share yet (so mean, i know) but we have a couple fun posts for you this week that i’m excited to share. starting with these free printable halloween tattoos!

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did you know they make tattoo paper? and it works on a regular ink jet printer!? i bought a pack on a whim and was a little skeptical, but they turned out super cute and easy to use – just like the store-bought kind.

halloween-tattoos(CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE TO DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE)

there’s just enough time to order the paper (or ask your local craft store) before the trick or treating begins. then download the template by clicking the image above and follow the directions on the tattoo paper packaging.

i’m always on the hunt for non-sugary goodies to handout for holidays and birthdays and i think this will be my new go-to.

what do you guys do to help curb the sugar intake around halloween!? i need all the help/ideas i can get!!!!

xo . rae

ps – the “mwahaha!” tat is meant to be used on knuckles – one letter on each, not including thumbs. kinda gangsta, but fun!

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zucchini bread pancakes

the kids might make all kinds of faces (and noises) when they see you add shredded zucchini to perfectly good pancake batter, but they will be kissing the cook after the first bite!

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the recipe above (from the monthly spread) calls for gluten free pancake mix, but you can use whatever brand you like or make it from scratch using this recipe.

// CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A PDF VERSION OF THE RECIPE //

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i don’t love cooking breakfast in the morning (it just seems wrong to start the day with hand dishes!) but the hubs and kids are constantly making requests so it’s nice to have fun recipes to choose from.

do you have any favorite brekkie dishes?

xo . rae
{images by stacy jacobsen}

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