our new favorite beach

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31 May 2016

I know I've really beat the beach post horse dead and it's not even June BUT on the outside (OUTSIDE) chance that anyone is in the market for the best gulf coast beach in central Florida ... I've got your beach. Okay, fine! Maybe not the best but we were really impressed and we've been to several beaches.

Phoebe is definitely saying, "off-ee!!!" in her high pitched voice reserved for talking to him. I don't know why she calls him coffee minus the c but ... she does what she wants. 

We'd gone to Fort Desoto back in November but I think we picked a dumb spot and it was a little chilly but this time we went with beach veteran friends and they told us to park directly after the actual Fort (which looks really cool and we'll definitely have to give that a little tour to give Simon his placard fix) and even though the beach was the most crowded I've ever seen any beach (fancy that! on a three day weekend!) it was such a blast and it was tough dragging the kids away even after several hours of fun.

B loves to sit right near the water and nosh on sand. To each their own.

Parking is ample-ish (which is key!) and the walk to the actual beach isn't long (even more key when you bring a lot of not really necessary "necessities") and other than the bathrooms and the Fort there aren't any commercial buildings around so it's very picturesque (not important but just a bonus).

The water is really shallow and graduated for a long time and clear enough that you can see little clear fish swimming all over which I won't ever not think is crazy after growing up in New Mexico and then living in Midwest.

All of the kids love the water but Theo is perfectly content to play in the sand and make "dump truck soup" and reserve his water activity for recipe tweaking. Simon and I sound like scratched compact discs commenting to each other every trip about how it's kind of nice to have one kid semi landlocked because he's the easiest to keep track of. Parents-are-us.

I'll see if he'll share the complicated two ingredient recipe with you fine folks.

When Phoebe realized that she wasn't able to pull her only willing passenger she decided to load up some toys for a bit of fun ...
she got her problem solving skills from her mama.

Bosco is pretty good about napping in the carrier if I walk along the beach (so we don't have to bring one of our beloved sound machines - don't put it past me though) for a few minutes which really frees up our morning since he turns into a completely different child/monster without his morning nap. 

 He's breathing. I promise.

The only casualty of the day was the bottom of Simon's foot because his sandal had a hole in it and the sand is h-o-t. I think he's going to live.

Burnt foot and all.

Anyway, five stars for Fort Desoto.

I trust your Tuesday has just gotten so much better with this bit of information stored away for a later date or later never.

happy unofficial start of summer!


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27 May 2016

My hope is that all of you are on your way to greener 3-day-weekend pastures of fun but if you're not and you're stuck with me for the moment ... I'm sorry. I'll try my hardest to make it worth your while.

Linking up with Kelly, once again!

1. We've been making up for getting to the pool at closing time the other night by going virtually every day this week and ... I think we might need to slow our pool going roll because it's like getting gum off the sidewalk trying to get the kids to l-e-a-v-e. It's a good problem but still ... a problem.

after she took off her top for the third time.

I was going through and deleting pictures last night and had to let out the tiniest cackle at the timing of the handstand/cartwheel in the background. Stealing your thunder, T-bone.

2. I've seen not one, not two, but THREE people (one of them being Amy!) sing the praises of The Nest this past week and so I think I'm going to give it a go this weekend. I'll let you know my personal thoughts whatever they may be ... next week. Prime those eardrums. Or pupils, I guess. (I've got my eye on The Assistants too.)

3. My very financial savvy brother told me to sign up for ebates a couple of years ago and I owe him quite a bit of lettuce because it's been SO worth it since we do the bulk of our (non-food ha) shopping online. Regardless of whether or not your hitting up the sales this weekend ... I highly recommend signing up. It's free, of course!

4. Even though I have NO business taking outfit pictures because a fashion blogger I will never be ... I (obviously) still do. Well ... we took some yesterday and the memory card is now totally fried and the pictures are lost and so maybe the universe is giving me a little hint Hint HINT? Probably. Especially because I was wearing glorified culottes.

5. I appreciated when a friend with kids only slightly older than mine shared this post in agreement on Facebook. I know I'll miss the early years of raising kids but was grateful to read this perspective too.

6. How have I made it to number six without talking about the Bachelorette? I don't know. As usual, I loved Sharleen's take on the premier and my favorite is definitely Luke. I think she likes Jordan the most (duh!) and I was prepared not to like him because of all the ex-lady drama but I have to admit he seems like not a terrible dude. The season preview looks d-r-a-m-a-t-i-c but what else should we expect?

7. There's a really great Damn Good Face Wash giveaway over on my IG that ends tonight. Go! And if you don't win you can still score a generous 20% off with code: damngoodpattons20. Kate is Bridget's sister and her stuff is all natural, handmade in small batches, and the BEST. My favorite is the coffee scrub.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I think we'll be predictable and go to the beach. Fancy that.


highs and lows

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24 May 2016

I feel like I'm setting some new records for boring content these days but it's good to keep the bar niiiiice and low, I suppose. It makes the rest of the blogs look better ... color me selfless.

We've got some trivial highs and some seriously first world problem lows. Ready? Let's go.


1. This is probably an every day occurrence in your home but it's almost sad to admit how elated I was when everyone ate dinner (tacos - nothing fancy, as usual) without complaint the other night. Oh, Phoebe pawned a chunk of her tortilla off on Bosco and Bosco promptly threw it on the ground but everyone else? Ate! Without telling me that such and such makes their stomach hurt or that they no longer like this particular food they used to love. It's the little things, really. How to Raise a Peck of Non-Picky Eaters: A Mom Memoir will be hitting stores .... never. Worry not.

2. As mentioned last week, we went to a pool party over the weekend and you can't know how happy I was to find that the hosts had hired a lifeguard for the afternoon. So thoughtful! Now, did this mean that Simon and I chucked our young into the water and waltzed in the house to do a round of shots followed by keg stands? No. But, it was nice knowing there was a second set of eyes on the kids who seem to possess no fear when it comes to the water - no matter how deep.

3. In that same vein, we totally lucked out and slid into some of the last swimming lesson spots for the kids' skill levels this summer. Julia tells everyone that will listen that she can swim and dive but I'm not sure the abilities to doggy paddle with a puddle jumper and jumping feet first into the kiddie pool do a swimmer/diver make. I'm crossing my fingers that no one suddenly develops velcro-to-mom's-leg syndrome when game time arrives but you know I'll keep you posted either way.

4. I've typed about my love for two-ingredient pancakes before and I still love them but I've started adding a scoop of protein powder, chia seeds, and a little almond milk and it makes all the difference. They tast a lost less eggy and the kids love them too which is nice because they loathed them before which was understandable, to be honest (or tbh as the internet says these days).

5. Bosco's claps ...

he's a one trick pony but he's good for boosting your confidence. All day, every day.

And now for the LOWS ...

1. The other evening Simon and I decided we were going to be the fun and spontaneous parents that we rarely to never are and take the kids for an evening swim on a whim. We got everyone ready, gathered all the towels/sunscreen/EVERYTHING, and made the twenty minute drive to the pool ... that we soon discovered was closing in 10 minutes. The kids kept their riots to a dull roar but it's a mistake we'll only make once. I hope.

2. The other day I finally made the drive out to a consignment (clothing and furniture!) store I keep hearing great things about. I had an empty minivan and a little mental list of things I was hoping to find for the house when I pulled up to the store to find it closed on that particular day. Of course! And sooo I decided to make the short drive over to Ikea (maybe my second favorite thing about Tampa after the weather) where I found a plant for a planter I'd found over on The Haul (cart before the horse, always!). I got to the register and was told that I'd grabbed the display plant that was very much not for sale. Woe is me, I know. 

3. I'm going to persevere through this but Phoebe is really putting up an impressive fight over her afternoon nap that keeps me sane most days. I'm sure the other kids did this around the same age or so I'm telling my foggy memory and frustrated self. I would just let it go if I knew it mean an earlier bedtime but she runs full steam ahead until her usual bedtime with or without the nap so I'm going to keep fighting the good and necessary fight. If I suddenly stop blogging completely ... you'll know that she's won the war.

4. Jojo's season of The Bachelorette premiered last night and I haven't gotten to watch it yet but I'm going to rectify that for at least a few glorious minutes right NOW. (maybe more of a high? time will tell ... )

happy, happy Tuesday. 

real quick!

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20 May 2016

I have absolutely nothing exciting or even remotely exciting to report but that's never (ever!!!) stopped me before so I'm joining Kelly once again.

1. I was so SO excited to see Jenna's post this morning. I agree with all of her sentiments.

2. The other morning the three middle kids weren't getting along and having a rough go at life in general and so even though we had just eaten breakfast I scrounged up three lone popsicles (meant to be!) in the freezer and sent them to the porch because I'm a rebel like that. I'm sure I sent a terrible, "rewarding bad behavior" message but it sort of reset and redirected the formerly terrible tone of the morning and why do I think you care?

Well, feign care a little bit longer for the photographic evidence ...

I promise they were all dressed.

fun fact (that I may have already told you): all the kids have blue eyes but Phoebe has green (or so Simon says -- I see a hint of blue there ... )

moving on!

3. Ever wonder what happened to Mandy Moore? Me neither BUT maybe you've seen it floating around Facebook (because it broke a crazy viewing record) and if you're going through Parenthood withdrawals this show looks promising. I wasn't a Parenthood superfan but it got me through many a nightfloat months and laundry piles and I never missed an episode so I was probably one step below. Anyway, I think it will be GOOD. I hope.

4. We're taking not one but two trips by way of plane this summer over the span of two weeks and many-a-flights with all the kids will be taken ... or at least that's the plan. I'm just preparing for the worst and praying REAL hard for the best. I'll take any tips if you've got them but I'm going to make sure and bring these for the four oldest kids because they all love them and ... no mess (or in Phoebe's case ... very minimal mess).

5. Speaking of Phoebe she's been waking up and telling me with a cackle that she's going to be, "bad!" that day. Self fulfilling prophecy or not ... it's always nice to start the day off on such a positive note.

6. Did you watch the Grey's finale last night? I read the synopsis (I know! why?) and I'm excited to watch tonight.

7. I hope you have a great weekend! We're going to a pool party with the kids and Julia has it in her head that Simon and I will be doing a lot of dancing (?) so I'm going to have to tuck my beloved mini cube of Moscoto into our cooler so as not to let her down. I guess.



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17 May 2016

thank you, Simon, for snapping some pensive pics of me, Bosco, and your finger this past weekend.

1. I rarely write blog posts in advance but I'm writing this on Monday night because Andi's book should be arriving during naps today and I wanted a clear nap time calendar. No shame. Or, maybe a sliver of shame. The teeniest calorie-free sliver.  

2. I've never considered myself to be a competitive person at ALL but then Brandilyn challenged me and a few other girls to a Fitbit challenge this weekend and all of a sudden ... my formerly dormant competitive spirit came alive. Not alive enough to win first (or even second lol) place but look out if you're my Fitbit friend because now I know that challenges are a thing. And I'm game. I think.

3. I'm hoping I'm not alone here but Simon and I (and Bosco!) went through a brief period of denial and panic when we were told (after frantically searching the shelves) that Costco was discontinuing their Kirkland formula. They brought it back a few weeks later (new packaging!) and we breathed heavy and happy sighs of relief. No one does generic like Costco. Really.

"you can eat the sand but it's going to taste just as terrible as the last 78 times you tried it"

4. Like a lot of parents (and people, of course) I spend a lot of time doing laundry, folding laundry, putting the bleeping laundry away and while it's not my favorite it's not my chore nemesis either. I've actually found that I get sadly excited about checking the washed laundry to see if I got that one stubborn stain out of that one kid's shirt and get a bit of a high if I'm successful - especially on my first try. I'm guessing that these ARE the glory days.

5. I rarely to never wear lipstick but find myself watching Kylie Lip Kit reviews after the kids have gone to bed and I'm completely mesmerized by each and every one of them. Every time. Simon doesn't even try to hide his judgy side eye.

6. I've heard so many people say that they've given up on Grey's Anatomy and while I did give up for a few years ... I've been lured back in. Big time. My excuse is that I like to watch something while I fold aforementioned laundry but I would probably be watching even if I didn't want to take my mind of some monotonous chore. I have a lot of questions after last week's episode but in case there are any other lone watchers out there that aren't caught up I'll keep them to myself.

So now that you know all my vapid not-so-secrets ... it always makes me so happy to read yours. Spill if you care/dare to!



under the Florida sun

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16 May 2016

I know I've mentioned it before but our very first beach trip here in Florida, we managed to get sunscreen on all the kids but which parent was going to put sunscreen on the kids faces was somehow lost in the shuffle and hurried translation and we had a couple of bright red faces on our hands. I still feel guilty about it and Julia's first official school picture will forever haunt and reawaken that guilt because her face was the color of a cherry tomato. While I'll always regret not being more careful and cognizant of the intense summer sun it was a really valuable reminder about the important of never ever forgetting to coat the kids in SPF, especially down here where the sun doesn't play games.

We were at the beach for about two hours one morning a couple of weekends ago, the sun was behind clouds almost the entire time, and I was camped out under an umbrella for a lot of the time and still! A little patch of my arm that I'd missed with sunscreen was very painfully burned. I think you get the point.

We are loyal devotees of their toothpaste and shampoo/body wash so I was excited and had high hopes and expectations when The Honest Company sent us their new sunscreen line to check out. and I was really happy to see that they made a stick that makes face application pretty painless - even for babies. Their spray is our favorite for reapplication after the kids have been in and out and in and out and in and out of the water. Being the fair skinned and fairly fair haired bunch that we are - I'm always sure to spray hat-hating kids' scalp as well. Phoebe's hair is so thin and almost transparent and I worry more about her head just as much as the rest of her exposed skin - if not more.

I didn't realize that not all sunscreens were the same in how they protect and zinc oxide is the only FDA-approved single active ingredient that provides broad spectrum protection against UVA1, UVA2, and UVB rays (I didn't know there were all these different kinds either - so much to learn, always). The Honest Company's mineral sunscreen is made with 19% zinc oxide and is both and safe and effective for the whole family.

I'm prone to breakouts and am always reluctant to try any new anything lest I pay for it in the weeks following but because the sunscreen is lightweight and non-greasy -- I'm not burned or broken out which I appreciate.

cue the happy jump a la Julia (she who skips/dances everywhere she goes these days)

Simon may have been a little overzealous on Theo's scalp protection but better safe than sorry ... 

... so goes our sun mantra.

Phoebe takes it to heart too ...

If you're in the market for some safe and effective sun protection Camp readers can purchase the mineral sunscreen bundle from The Honest Company and get 35% off with code: SUNCAMP35OFF.*

 And then enjoy a little footloose and fancy free sunshine ...

like so.

The Honest Company is also giving away a sunscreen bundle (the lotion, spray, and the stick) along with a bath and body bundle (their bodywash, shampoo, and conditioner- a $68 value altogether!) to one lucky Camp reader. You should know the Rafflecopter road well by now! Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Monday!

Terms: *Eligible for new Bundle subscribers only. Limit 1 Promo Code per customer/household. Code must be entered into "Promo Code" section at Checkout. Ends at 11:59pm on 6/30/16. Valid for up to 2 Bundles purchased in a single transaction. Cannot be applied to previous purchases, Gift Card purchases or Gift Bundles. Cannot be redeemed for cash or combined with any other promotion. Terms subject to change at any time.

a round up from the ground up

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13 May 2016

Joining Kelly and the gang for a very special Friday the 13th edition of seven quick takes. Minus the very special. Plus the usual.

1. Thank you for all the book recommendations on this post! Enough people (two? enough for me!) gave Eligible a thumbs up and so I caved and bought it (and then promptly moved up 34 spaces on the hold list overnight - fist shaking!) and loved it. Well, I really, really liked it! I read it in less than a day ...

(and had the hurricane of a house to show for it, ahem), laughed out loud a few times, and was genuinely sad when it was over. I forgot that I had read American Wife back when I was pregnant with Julia and I enjoyed it but I liked Eligible quite a bit more. American Wife seemed about six chapters too long but Eligible was just right - baby bear style. Anyway, I had to report that excitement because well, just because.

2. There are a few people that I've always wished wished wished would blog (I know! social media is eating blogs left and right but blog reader por vida!) and my wish became a reality when Amber started blogging recently. I asked for her permission to share and she generously gave the green light saying she hopes that other parents with kids like her sweet Max find solidarity in her writing. Go! Bookmark it! You won't be sorry.

Counting this for #3 too because I'm so happy she's blogging.

4. Onto more vapid pastures! Before Simon's parents came I decided to be honest with myself about how much I hated the wall above our couch ...

everything was hung a tiny bit too high, I'd found the frames for super cheap and felt like the black on black on black on black was just a little heavy, and well, what else was I going to do at midnight the night before they arrived?

Switched up ...

I know, it's a lot of white, and maybe a little too busy but I like it infinitely more than the original situation. And I'll probably switch it up again soon but I WILL leave the gorgeous cross stitch I bought from my talented friend Jenna's shop up, along with the shelf I found on Etsy, aaaand the wedding picture up top but only because it is very securely screwed into the wall and I had a tough time trying to get it down.

Aren't you glad I shared? I thought not.

5. Did you see that the Bachelorette guys (or Jojo's bozos as someone quipped) photos and bios were released? My money is on Jordan and Santa.

6. We get to meet up with someone I met online tomorrow! To say we're all excited would be a little bit of an understatement.

7. And even though it is technically nap time I've been interrupted 17 times since I started typing so we're going to call it good here.

Happy Friday/Saturday/Sunday or as it is more commonly known: weekend!



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10 May 2016

I have very few complaints about Florida but one teeny tiny detail that I don't love is that we are now pretty far from both of our families. Luckily, there is this really great invention by the name of air travel that we owe for successfully bringing our family to us on several occasions since we've moved here. Two weekends ago Simon's parents were able to come down for the first time and the kids were in grandparent heaven.

I didn't do an awesome job getting pictures but I'll throw you what I've got, as usual.

Phoebe quickly started calling Grandpa, "Papa" and Grandma, "Papa" which made nothing confusing at all. 

We took them to pretty much the only place we take visitors ... the beach. Grandpa built Theo a sand race car and Julia a sand airplane and heaven help my sand construction skillset next time we go to the beach because I don't think there's any way I'll ever emulate anything 1/2 as fun. 

Phoebe kept Papa-she on a very short leash and decided that THIS was the beach trip she wasn't going to be scared of the water or waves triple her height and Grandma had (got?) to go along for the entire ride.

Unrelated to anything but we packed a picnic lunch as we often do and we always chuckle like good parents about that one time the seagull plucked an entire cheese stick from Theo's unsuspecting little hand. WELL, this trip a rather bold seagull plucked 1/2 an uneaten and not small turkey wrap from MY unsuspecting big mama hand. Look who's laughing now. Not me. 

I can't write a post without touching on the weather and it was pretty perfect for daytime swimming and evening walks after dinner and ice cream face smearing. 

Simon thought Phoebe could totally handle a cone. Which, I guess she sort of did.

We opted to go to a much smaller but much closer local beach on Sunday evening rather than the real deal that we'd gone to on Saturday morning and it felt like allllll of Tampa had the exact same idea because it was super crowded but everyone still had a blast.

Julia was nine months old when we moved away from Wichita for Simon's residency and we have such wonderful memories living just a couple blocks from his parents for the first two years of our marriage. While it certainly felt like residency dragged on and on and on it also feels like just yesterday that we were walking Julia and the empty stroller she refused to enjoy over to the grandparents for a Sunday dinner.

The visits never feel long enough and Phoebe is still waking up in the morning looking past my smiling face and shriek-asking for, "Papa?!" while I offer her a plate of chopped mother liver for breakfast. So it's safe to say no one can wait for their next visit. 

No pressure, Papa Squared, no pressure at all.

battle of the B's

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06 May 2016

as in ... Bash and Bosco.

Even the grandparents' eyes might glaze over with this post but ... it's never stopped a motherblogger before, unfortunately.

In a never ever ever ending effort to consolidate the gross amount of digital photos I've taken and stored (no, I don't neeeeed 19 photos of that one night we visited Simon on call back in 2013 because we have 25 photos from two nights LATER etc etc etc) I'm always going back and combing through the photo e-archives which makes you fresh out of memory lane luck because that's where we're going today.

May of 2012, here we come.

You'd think the boys would've worn a lot of the same baby clothes but I run a tight (maybe a little too tight) ship as far as purging and donating goes but this little romper number I thrifted made it through the, "not stained, not ripped, not meant to be worn in the dead of a St. Louis winter" test and I think it was already too cold by the time this would've fit Theo but Bosco! He's in luck because it fits him quite nicely right now.

You're probably tired of me saying how much I think Bosco resembles Sebastian but their baby photos?

(Bosco, 10.5 months)

(and Sebastian -- 6.5 months)

related but not the twins I peg them for in my crystal clear memory.

Bosco's "I'll fake a grin but please stop snapping photos" look ...

Sebastian's was less subtle ...

And then I saw these photos of Julia and realized that by some miracle - that same (also thrifted - St. Louis had the best secondhand stores) frock was sitting pretty (and slightly too short) in Phoebe's drawer so I couldn't help myself ...

(Julia 20 months aka almost two)

I don't know if it's the hair or the extra four months but I feel like Phoebe looks like a teenager in comparison ...

(Phoebe freshly 2 years old)

I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing I was so chop-happy with Julia's hair.

I've yet to touch Phoebe's but her life is young.

If Phoebe is wearing Julia's sparkly flops and sees me taking a photo -- it's like a reflex because she busts out an immediate foot pop.

And with that I'll wish you a very happy weekend and promise that next week we'll revisit June of 2012 photo albums in great, great detail.

Prime your party hats, accordingly. 

tissue paper flower tutorial

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04 May 2016

Odds are probably pretty decent that you've learned how to put these together before because they are VERY easy to make which is why ... I went a little crazy with them a few months ago. Julia was just so tickled by her suddenly craft happy mom that I couldn't stop until all of the non-ugly colors of our tissue paper inventory had been sucked dry.

There are a million different ways to go about the making of a tissue paper flower but after lots of trial and error here's my amateur method - with the help of Phoebe which is my excuse for the level of professional involved in the crystal clear steps.

First! Here's what you'll need for one flower:
8-9 pieces of tissue paper (I like layering colors but you don't have to) cut to size: 16 in x 22 in
some sort of string/yarn/floss/tie (even a stapler would work well)

I'm not going to tell you what to do but I would start by making a trial flower or two in the event that you don't make it as picture perfect as you'd initially envisioned. 


1. Line up your pieces of paper (I like the look of lighter colors in the middle but - obviously just used what we had leftover and brown it was)

2. fold paper on the 16 inch side in accordion style one inch folds -- like so.

3. make sure each fold is pressed and reinforced well. no half-hearted folding!

4. grab your scissors and cut the ends however you'd like but if you cut out pointier petals, the flower will obviously take on a whole new look. I think I like the look of smaller "hills" or "humps" if you well - I just went with two big humps but wish I gone with smaller ones (I'm rusty) - repeat on other side, obviously

look how well I lined everything up! Do not do as I do. But, if you do - it will still be okay!

5. tie or staple the exact middle of your paper. I couldn't find my go-to twine so I tied two hair elastics together - desperate times!

6. Okay, now fan out the sides a bit ...

7. And then slowly, every SO SLOWLY start pulling whichever side you want to be in the middle up and apart from the other pieces of paper - one paper at a time. Be careful!

Or else this will happen.

Which is fine. You can just tear/cut it off and no one will know.

8. Keep pulling and arranging one by one ...

and soon you should have a fairly flowery looking monstrosity on your hands.

I like to kind of carefully scrunch/crush (carefully!) the middle pieces of tissue paper so that it takes a more natural looking shape but -- you're the artist here. And - trial and error! You might like a different size (I made a few smaller ones for Phoebe to tote around and they eventually made their way to the trash in true Phoebe fashion but it was good practice!) or maybe the look of a black center with yellow paper for a sunflower? It's your life, Bon Jovi.

To hang them on a wall -

- it's surprisingly easy to just put a nail through the center and hang them that way but maybe a garland would be pretty if you decide not to go the way of a full on wall flower garden.

Anyway. Happy crafting :)


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