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Nest to Impress: The Very Best of 4th of July DIY

The 4th, Right. What Day is That On Again?
Are your 4th of July plans set yet? Invites sent, menu planned, decorations prepped?

Or maybe you're more like me this year when asked what we're doing. "Uuuuhh... the 4th...riiiiiight. What day is that on again?"

(It's WEDNESDAY, just checked)

Lucky for me, there's one more solid weekend before America's Bday arrives. And this round up will hopefully be the inspiration I need to get my head in gear and pull something together!

Nest To Impress
I'm starting something new here at Clever Nest! The plan: each holiday I'll bring you a showcase of some beautiful DIY projects, party ideas, and recipes that rock my socks. If you have a project you'd like to share, link up to it in a comment (sorry not quite up on inlinks yet!). 

Yikes, Stripes!
I have a frustration with holiday decor. There's a lot of beautiful stuff out there, but it's tough finding things that feel "me". Know what I'm talking about? Do I go with something traditional or try to make my holiday celebrations fit the vibe of my home? Still pondering that, here's what I do know:

I'm drawn to three things in holiday decor: classy, understated, and (you guessed it) inexpensive. 

Ok, enough dilly dallying. Time for the eye candy!

**First Ever**
I've scoured this here internet for the very best (in meh humble opinon) that Pinterest, Craft Gawker, Martha, and the wide world at large has to offer. Here's what I found!

Here's a definite example of understated class, this sweet and simple paper star garland from Anna Lea Hart. Way to make a statement with simplicity!
No glue necessary, Anna Lea even got her son to sew up a few stars, easy peasy.

For a backyard party, or front porch vignette, swap in some festive red, white, and blue flora into coordinating pots like Better Homes & Gardens! Ahh, Geraniums, I love them. :)
Everybody loves a fruit salad, great for a picnic, BBQ, or family get together. Rachel from Family Ever After made this Red, White, & Blue Fruit Salad that is good on the eyes and good in the tummy. She even shares her secret ingredient that keeps fruit from turning brown.

Here's something fun that the kiddos can do. Check out this Hand print Flag Project by Amanda at Fun Hand print Art. Wouldn't it be so cute to have kids make their own tshirt using their own hand print? A great home school art project too.

This next one is right up my alley. A subtle nod to the stripes, bunting with navy ties by Better Homes & Gardens. Cute for a porch, stairs, or walkway.

A fabulous pop art American Flag collage using magazine cut outs! Would you believe her kids made this?? (with a touch of mom's help of course:)  I'd say Jodi at Meaningful Mama knocked it out of the park with this one.

Here's a creative God Bless America printable by Landee See Landee Do (love her blog name!:). Perfect for dressing up a mantle, tablescape, or on the buffet line. She offers both a 5x7 and 8x10 downloadable size.

Oh how I love this distressed monochromatic flag on canvas by Angela at Number Fifty-Three! I found something similar (but way smaller) going for $50, but this is way better! This'd be easy to do over a canvas I'm no longer in love with, and for free.

There's a good thing going on with this old world-esque burlap flag bunting by Kim at The Money Pit. She shows a technique for diluting the paint for a more subtle, vintage look. Well done, Kim!

Adding major backyard charm are these easy, kiddo-can-do backyard streamers by Tonya Stabb. Can you guess what she made them from? Here's a hint- don't forget to buy an extra one for the table!

Design your own patriotic sign with these printable Stars and Stripes letters (plus a whole lot more vintage prints!) from Penny Raile via Flickr.
Remember these from when we were kids? Sooo yummy. This red, white, and blue layered jello dessert from Laura at Real Mom Kitchen makes my mouth water. It's fit for kids and adults with fresh fruit layers and generous amounts of cool whip. It's all about the Cool Whip, yo. Thank you, Laura for this recipe! I am making this for sure.

If I ever needed a hand (and a foot) it'd be to make this hand and foot print flag from Victoria on Simply Cy-Fair. Isn't she handy?... : / You could tape this inside an existing frame or buy a new one to fill a large wall with homemade art. 
More options: stamp up the blue section with hand prints and use white fingertip dots as stars, or paint the blue section solid with a brush and use white hand prints as stars. 

I suppose I am a sucker for bunting, or burlap, maybe both. But this 1776 handmade banner definitely deserves a spot in the Very Best! Rachel's Etsy shop, winkandasmilepc showcases several beautiful patriotic banners, at a cost I would have no problem paying.

A powerful printable quote that hits close to my heart from This-n-That: a Little Crafting. I'm always thankful for those that serve, especially my little brother Brian, and not afraid to show it! (more on that here. Proud big sis pictures included :)

This festive throw pillow action adds just the right touch, especially when it's done this awesomely. Desiree at The 36th Avenue brings us this classy flag throw pillow, her first ever tie dye experience, and it rocks!

If you'd like to share a 4th of July or generally patriotic project, please link to it in a comment, I'd love to see more!

Have a fabulous 4th, everybody.
<3 Alyssa
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18 Things I'll Never Camp Without

UPDATE: Welcome Pinterest visitors!! This post has recently exploded with views from Pinterest (40k so far!) and I'm so glad you are here. Get to know me, see my DIY projects, and tour my house by clicking on the tabs above. And thanks for stopping by! 

Ah, Camping
Bugs, dirt, no cell service... things I typically try to avoid as a rule in my life.

I know, I know. Camping is suppose to be wonderful! A way to experience nature first hand, a way to get down to the bare essentials!

I love Nature as much as the next guy. But, after reveling in Nature's wonders for a day, I want to come back to a spider free bed, hot water shower, and a bathroom with soap in it. Call me high maintenance  I'm content to leave the rest to Bear Grills from Man vs. Wild.

How I Got To Go Camping!
Last weekend we drove up to Sequoia National Park for a family camp out. I love my brothers-in-law and their families. And it was an awesome idea to have the whole family together for the weekend. They should also know that I love them more than I very much dislike camping, and that's sayin' a lot. :)

The sights were gorgeous, and the air was wonderful.

We went to see the General Sherman tree! Just the biggest living thing on earth.

And the campfire times were a lot of fun :)
This is Jason and his bros roasting a family recipe known as "Biscuits on a Stick". 

We had a good time and made some good memories! So I'm determined that this will not be a complaint fest! Instead I'll be keeping it positive, and offer some tips I gleaned on this experience to make camping, or any vacation for that matter, the best experience possible!

Ready, set? 

How to Survive Camping with a 9 Month Old
These are things I've bought with my own money, tried, and love, and would recommend to my own family and friends.

Get the Basics. There's plenty of online checklists for lists of basic camping gear. We used this list from to help us think of anything we might have otherwise forgotten! Like the kitchen sink.

1. Anti bacterial wipes  I used these for everything from "washing" my hands, to tissues, to cleaning my dishes, not to mention diaper changes and Andrew "baths"! I brought 3 packs, so we could have them in different spots around camp for easy access. 

2. Hand Sanitizer I also brought several of these so I could keep them in the car, tent, in a pocket. They're .99 a piece, so I thought, why not stock up? Good thing, cause the bathroom didn't have soap at all. Because of bears maybe?
3. The Shower Cap Trick This isn't my idea, but I'm passing it along cause it worked great! I put my dirty shoes in a plastic cap to keep them off my clothes while packing. genious.
4. Trash bags and Plastic Grocery Bags The large kitchen kind with drawstrings saved us from walking miles back and forth to the camp dumpster all day. And when we packed up to leave, we stuck our dirty tarps and blankets in bags to keep them off the car upholstery. I also brought a bunch of plastic grocery bags for bagging our dirty clothes as we went through them, to keep them separate from the clean ones! Curbly has a clever way to make a plastic bag dispenser here.
5. Sunscreen and Baby Sunscreen like Baby Blanket Faces Sunblock Lotion for BabiesI ended up sharing Andrew's baby sun screen since I forgot mine. It works on adults too! imagine. And no burns for Andrew, even though we were outside in full sun for most of the day.

To be sure Baby doesn't have a reaction, as babies can to new products, test it on a spot on their arm or leg a few days before a trip. Thankfully Andrew was just fine.

6. Off! Insect Repellent I used this religiously and didn't get one bite the whole trip. Bug spray be praised.

7. Burt's Bees Herbal Insect Repellent for Andrew. I'm pretty paranoid about using anything with chemicals on the Munchkin Pants. I love that this spray's "active" ingredients are Lemongrass, Citronella, and Rosemary oils. No bites on him either! Also a good idea to test on Baby a few days in advance to avoid a reaction.
I probably could have used this on me too, but I'm ok with dousing on heavy chemicals as long as they promise to keep bugs the HECK away from me :).

8. Make up removing facial wipes like Neutrogena Makeup Remover Towelettes These wipes made it easy to "wash" my face without a trek to the bathroom.

Is it coincidence that my top 8 have to do with keeping dirt and bugs off me? I don't think so.

9. Old Compact turned into Accessories Container I don't know about you, but I'm tired of losing my bobby pins and earrings on trips! Grr. I was looking around for something small and that would stay closed while traveling. I took an old make up compact, cleaned out the leftover powder, and repurposed it to be my jewelry container. It worked awesome! (awesomely?) And the mirror was so helpful trying to get ready in the tent.
10. Case of Water bottles For drinking of course, but also were life saver for a quick hand or foot wash, mixing baby formula, cooking, and brushing teeth. I planned on me and J using 6 bottles a piece per day, and we ended up having 1/4 of a case left for the ride home.
11. New Toys Thinking about a 7 hour drive both ways, I bought a few things from Target's Dollar Spot to keep Andrew busy. Something new, no matter how cheap or simple, can transform a long journey and make the hours pass quicker!
12. Baby Orajel Teething knows no boundaries, and I did not want to be "that mom" in camp stuck with a crying teether at 2am. And good thing to, because he cut another tooth while we were there!

13. Baby Tylenol Thank goodness Andrew didn't need any, but always good to be prepared just in case.

14. Boudreaux's Butt Paste I don't know what's in this stuff, but no rash stands a chance against it. We've used it on Andrew's patootie since he was born, and my sisters-in-law all swear by it (and they've got 7 kids between them). A diaper bag must at all times.

15. Dirty Diaper bags like the Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Bag Dispenser. I got these for my baby shower and hadn't used them yet (oops).  I was pretty impressed. They are infused with baking soda to keep the stinky diapie smells down, and really helped between treks to the dumpster. The dispenser part was great when fumbling around in a dark tent!

16. Sleep Sack We've used this since Andrew could get himself out of his swaddle. It works so well, he can't kick it off, and it kept him warm all night.

17. Inflatable Kiddie Pool Play Pen I didn't bring one, but definitely wish I had! My sister-in-law told me about this. This is the closest pic I could find on the internet. 
You could put a blanket and toys in the bottom for Baby to play and not get hurt. Plus it's compact when deflated for easy packing. Since Andrew is 9 mo. and a crawler, this would have been a life saver for sure. 

Instead, we did this:

Pretty sure he ingested some gravel there. 

And last but not least-

18. Welcome Mat for the tent. Got to give the Hubby credit for this one. Not so much an attempt to bring a "homey" vibe to the campsite, but it really helped keep the dirt tracking to a minimum, and makes me a happy camper.
(I highlighted it cause it kind of blended in with the ground there)

That's my 18. Anything you would add to the list? Something you never leave home without? Don't be shy! Fire away in a comment, and let's keep the tips rolling. 

I'm glad to be home! Back to indoor plumbing and refrigerators. But I also am genuinely glad we went, and Andrew got his first taste of the great outdoors. May be a while before I get all Suzie Outdoorswoman again though.

 I'll leave you with this video. This is the first time Andrew realized he could play Peek-a-Boo himself! 

That's one wild bear I don't mind at all :)
<3 Alyssa

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