Life & Family

See Me

See Me

This year, our children’s school has committed to being a part of +Works (pronounced Positive Thinking Works). I went to a meeting introducing it a few weeks ago and I was blown away. In fact, I’m still processing much of what was said. There are several schools that are joining in this movement and I couldn’t be more excited that our school is among them. The women who started this initiative are two experienced moms (and friends) Sarah Fisher and Trish Morille. As I listened to Sarah speak, I realized how desperately our society needs this thinking. In tumultuous times like this, we need so much more of this and the very best place to start is with the current generation of children. As we learn alongside them and strive to model this type of life for them, our world cannot help but be changed for the better.

Today, our school sent out the following poem from +Works. It struck me to my core as I read it. Tears filled my eyes and my heart was deeply convicted by these words. I thought you might be as well, so I wanted to share them with you. We all need to read this. Multiple times.

Again, these words are not my own, but I did want to share them with you because they are so important. For more resources like this, which I have found very helpful in my parenting journey!) or for information on their movement, please visit their website here or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

SEE ME
I am your child.
I am your student.
I am your husband.
I am your wife.
I am your brother, your sister.
Your mother, your father.
Your friend.
Your neighbor.
I am a human being doing my best.
And I need you to see me as I am.

I need you to SEE me as I AM.

I need you to allow me to be myself with you.
I want to tell you my truth.
Can you hear me?
I am screaming at you with my eyes wide and my mouth shut.
I need you to give me the gift that comes in a simple card that reads:
You are not me.
You are you.
And I love you.
As you are.

I need you to tell me this to my face:
I love you even when and especially when you don’t agree with me because we have so much to learn from each other on this journey.

What is that so hard?
What are you afraid of?
Why do you tell me not to feel what I’m felling when I’m feeling it?
Why do you tell me to believe what you believe when I am still searching?
Why do you dream for me when I have my own dreams?
Why do you think you get to choose whom I will become?

Please know this.
Just because you are older or smarter or richer or poorer or ____er does not make you wiser.
I have seen wisdom spring from unexpected people and unexpected places.
Like youth.
And inexperience.
And silence.
Especially when that silence is imposed.

Please. It is awful not to feel loved.
Hear my voice.
See my face.
Feel my pain.
Set me free.

Our Favorite Shoes

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As a boy mom, I spend far too much time (and money!) on shoes. These boys grow so fast! We’ve gone through so many different brands and styles and have loved some and hated others (and loved a few styles, but hated the quality of them.) I think we’ve finally found our favorite shoes – and we get TONS of compliments on them!

They’re made by Native Shoes and they are absolutely adorable. They look like boat shoes, but are completely made of rubber, which means they hose down easily after a day at the beach, or digging in the dirt. And they come in so many cute colors! Each of my boys has several pair in various colors, because we wear them so often. They look just as good at the beach as they do in pajamas (see below) or going to church! They’re comfortable, breathable and easy to clean (which is key for a boy mom.)

Every time my boys wear them, we get compliments on them and I’m constantly telling people where to get them, since we mamas need to help one another out. And who has time to research cute kids’ shoes all the time? Not me! We’ve bought some on Zappos, which is my go-to for my kids’ shoe shopping, since they’re returns are SO easy and you have 365 days to do it. Shout out to them for such amazing customer service! You can also get them on the Native Shoes website if you’d like different color/size options.

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They look awesome with Christmas pajamas, right? Shown here on our recent trip to Lost Pines Resort. Read more about our fun trip here.

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And they’re even precious with dressy clothes on, making them super versatile!

Lost Pines Vacation

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We visited Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa for a long weekend over Spring Break this year and had the best time! Seriously, this was the first vacation since we had kids over five years ago, after which I actually felt rested and refreshed. HUGE win, friends! Since this place is such an absolute treasure, I wanted to share a bit with y’all about our time there, in case you’re looking for a family-friendly destination in Texas. Lost Pines has everything you’d expect in a resort – from golf to tennis and swimming and a basketball court to a fabulous spa. But, they also have some unique things, like bicycles that you can use all over the property, a game room for the kids and even fishing! There’s something for everyone, so it makes for a great place to travel with other families as well. We went with some dear friends who have two boys close in age to our own crew, which literally quadrupled the fun!

Lost Pines is located in Bastrop, Texas, just about 30 minutes South of Austin on Highway 71. From the moment you walk in, you realize how family friendly the place is. They offer valet (for a fee) or self-park (free) options and are so helpful in getting you unloaded and installed in your room. The rooms are a great size and we were able to put all three boys on the floor in their super cozy sleeping bags and still have the King-sized bed for us (another huge win!) We also chose a first floor room with a patio, which turned out to be one of our best ideas yet. The patio opened onto a large grassy field with sidewalk paths, so the boys were able to play in the grass and scooter on the paths while we sat on the porch sipping coffees or were inside packing up to leave, etc. It was amazing for us and they had a blast having a water gun fight in their pajamas one morning!

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While the accommodations are fantastic – clean, comfortable and lovely – it’s really the activities that shine at this resort. There is just so much to do at Lost Pines! It’s a little like being at an upscale family camp. There are activities for all ages. Our boys are pretty young (all five and under) but the resort would be great for older kids as well, since they offer archery, trap shooting, trail rides, sunset kayaking, rock walls and zip lines and more for the “big kids.” Its easy to give kids a little autonomy in a pretty safe space here, which is always nice.

When we first arrived, we immediately hit the pool area. There’s a lazy river that was great with our little ones who aren’t all strong swimmers just yet, since they could float in the tubes with a bottom on them and feel like they were on little boats. There was also a pool with a huge shallow area that was awesome for them as well and, of course, there are deeper sections with basketball goals and waterslides, etc. It’s like a fun waterpark, but in a size that is manageable for the parents watching their little ones. That night we had cocktails by the fireplace inside during a crazy big thunderstorm that rolled through (and cooled things off for the rest of the weekend – yay!) and then had a delicious dinner and headed to bed.

On the first morning, we went to meet some of the livestock on the property. We watched the staff do a lasso demonstration on some cattle, saw some sweet ponies and heard cool facts about the animals. We also got to see the big horses and pet them. The boys loved it. Later, they had a spot where the boys could climb up on a horse or a longhorn for a photo opportunity. So cute!
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Later in the afternoon, we went over to the Plantation Lawn to check out the family olympics going on. There were tons of fun physical activities for kids of all ages and it made for a great hang out spot where the parents could relax on the lawn while the kids ran around playing. There are games of Capture the Flag, lessons on juggling, giant human hamster balls, sack races, frisbee, wiffle ball and more.

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The resort also has fun craft activities each day, which our boys loved. One day they made puzzles and another they got to create their own bumper stickers. It offered a little creative outlet under the shade of their large, beautiful trees and kept our boys entertained for at least thirty minutes!

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Another fab feature of this place is the playground. It is great for little ones and you can see it from the porch at one of the restaurants, so we were able to let the bigger boys get some wiggles out while we finished our lunch and enjoyed a cocktail. Yay for some adult time on vacation!  {P.S. How cute is this little posse?}

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There are a few fabulous outdoor fire pits that are great for relaxing with a cocktail or cup of coffee. And they have s’mores there in the evenings, which is super fun for the kids (and the adults, too!)

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The property is absolutely gorgeous and its a wonderful place to hike with kids. There’s a cool little pond you can walk to and check out the various creatures who live in it. You can also walk down to the Colorado River, which runs through the property and there are lots of trails around for an easy hike with little ones or a solo run for mom or dad. The entire place is filled with nature and left our boys feeling like adventure explorers!

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Every place you look, Texas-style beauty abounds, making this a fabulous spot for a relaxing vacation in nature. The property is also dotted with darling little vignettes for just sitting still and relaxing in rocking chairs or on cozy benches. One such spot has a giant chess board and outdoor games like horseshoes and washers, which kept our three boys entertained for HOURS!

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The food at Lost Pines is also delicious! There were several options, including a great coffee shop and ice cream place that also has a general market and grab-and-go foods, which made for a great breakfast on our porch one morning while the boys played out on the lawn. There’s also a delicious BBQ spot down by the pool called Old Buck’s Place that really hits the spot after a day of swimming. The Firewheel Cafe had wonderful buffet options at breakfast, lunch and dinner and kids under four are free, so that was fantastic for us! There’s a bar with food and a fancier restaurant option as well, so there are plenty of places to choose from on the property and the food was great! After dinner, we went to the family movie night. Usually, they hold this on the amazing grass lawn amphitheater, but it was really cold and windy while we were there, so they moved it into a ballroom. There was a popcorn machine and everything and it made for a fantastic evening activity!


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There’s also a lovely spa and fitness center. Getting time in those is a huge luxury on a trip for me as a mama of three littles, but I vowed to do both next time we go!

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I just couldn’t get enough of the beautiful flowers and spots for taking a break and relaxing a bit while my boys soaked up the sun with their friends and enjoyed the ranch-feeling of this fabulous resort. There is truly something for everyone here! We cannot WAIT to go back as soon as possible!

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Have you been to Lost Pines Resort & Spa? If so, what were your favorite things there? What other spots in Texas do you visit for a drivable kid-friendly vacation spot? Tell us in the comments below. We love to hear from you!

Happy Love Day!

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Happy Valentine’s Day, lovelies! On this day of love, I pray that you are surrounded by those you love and hold dear in this life. If this isn’t you this year – if you’re in a time of loss or pain or struggle, I am praying for you as well. And I’m sending you my very favorite Valentine’s Day quote. Wise words from (my former pastor and a favorite author) Max Lucado

 

“I hope you receive a rose or a special card from that special person today. If you didn’t and don’t expect to, remember that the One who loves you most has already sent you His very best.”

                                                                  – Max Lucado

 

Legos + Travel

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We are SUPER into Legos in my house. My boys love them and they are entertained by building and rebuilding them for hours, which is wonderful! On our trip to NYC in December, my oldest and I had dinner with my gorgeous and crazy-talented cousin who lives there and we sat in a quaint French restaurant chatting and drinking wine while he built his Legos for 3.5 hours. It was a God-send for us. He was happy and content to be playing Legos quietly and we got to catch up and enjoy a delicious dinner. The only downside was when he would accidentally drop one of those tiny little pieces on the floor of the restaurant. (Don’t worry – he’s so adorable that the people at neighboring tables were more than happy to help us find them!)

Before our next trip, however, I resolved to find a solution for our problem. So, I took to Pinterest, which I love for the fabulous ideas that I find there (though I sometimes also lose that love temporarily when I realize how far the bar of expectations has been raised by all of those amazing ideas.) The other day, however, in researching travel lego solutions, I found a fabulous one and it worked just great, so I wanted to share it with you!

There were lots of Lego travel box solutions on Pinterest, with some using vintage-style lunch boxes, old diaper wipes containers, pencil boxes, etc. I really think that anything would work. Because I wanted to use ours for plane travel, I wanted it to be a little smaller and because my boys are so young, I wanted the latch on it to be pretty secure. I found all of the supplies for ours at Target (along with a few new small Lego sets to surprise the boys with on the trip, since new toys never hurt in keeping them busy!) but you can also find everything on Amazon and they will deliver it straight to your doorstep – amazing! You’ll need a Lego baseplate in your desired color (I went with green), a plastic container that latches closed (I went with this inexpensive Sterilite one with one divider inside), a hot glue gun and either an Exacto knife or a good pair of scissors for cutting the baseplate to fit.

The instructions for the style that I decided to go with is here on an adorable blog called Housewife Eclectic. Her instructions are fantastic, so hop over there and check them out. I will say that neither Gorilla Glue nor Super Glue works well on these types of plastic, so I suggest that you stick with her idea of a hot glue gun.

I decided to surprise the boys with them on the airplane and they were thrilled!  We definitely still had some dropped Legos, but these helped a ton and were great for transporting them and for playing with them in the car!

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We put one green rectangle on the top of the box and another inside, so that they can play with the box open or closed.

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Enjoy!

My Best Invention EVER

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I’ve been designing jewelry for fifteen years now. I LOVE the thrill of designing something completely new, especially when it is something I can’t wait to wear myself. Often, my designs come from a need in my own wardrobe, which makes them all the more satisfying when I finish hand making them and get to flaunt them!

Recently, however, I invented something completely different. (Let’s just agree to use the term “invent” loosely, so as not to burst my bubble of excitement, okay?) My sweet hubs and I are on our second round of Whole30. (Between you and me, I like to call it my third round because our first go at it, we did 62 days in total – I really feel like that should count as two, but I digress, so…back to my genius.) A key component of a Whole30 is the homemade mayonnaise and I’ve discovered since making it that it is WAY better than any store-bought mayo I’ve ever tasted. In fact, I’m not even sure they should share a name, it is so much better. We use the mayo in burger bowls, mixed with lemon juice and fresh dill on top of salmon, mixed with chicken pieces, slivered almonds and grapes for a quick chicken salad protein fix or mixed with tuna, slivered almonds and chopped apple.  It’s even good as a salad dressing when thinned out with lemon juice and spices of your choice. And, of course, its the base for the dressing (almost like a tzatziki sauce) for my very favorite dish – Deconstructed Gyros. Like I said, its a key ingredient for us.

My favorite recipe for said homemade mayonnaise is from Mel Joulwan on her blog Well Fed (please note this was formerly listed in my other posts as The Clothes Make The Girl, but I think she has changed her blog name because it now redirects to Well Fed.) The only bummer about making homemade mayo for a poor planner like me is that you need to let your eggs and your lemon juice come to room temperature before you can start (hello, waiting an hour) and that you have to pour the oil into the Vitamix VERY, VERY slowly. (Sidenote: I love my Vitamix. We have the professional series one, though the standard model is equally fabulous, and it was definitely an investment, but that little machine has MORE than paid off over the four years we have had it. It is my most often used tool in the kitchen and BY FAR my favorite part about it is its self-cleaning setting. That’s a huge part of the reason that I use it so often. It’s incredible. Okay, back to the amazing mayo you can make in it…)

But the great news for you, my friends, is that I have solved the second of these problems. With a little inventiveness and a splash of creativity, making homemade mayonnaise got WAY easier. I’ve done two rounds of Whole30 with a group of dear friends/amazing women, because it is just so much more fun that way. And all I have to say is that you would think I solved the world peace problem by the reaction my girls gave me on this invention (of course, that may be why we are such dear friends!)

All you need for my invention is. . . a styrofoam or plastic cup and an icepick or needle or the like. That is it!  It helps if your styrofoam cup is a super cute one like mine pictured below. I mean, how funny is that at preschool baseball practice? Anyway…

All you do is remove the center of the top of your Vitamix, poke a TINY hole (and I mean tiny) in the bottom of your disposable cup, set said cup on the top of the Vitamix and pour in the extra light olive oil that you’re supposed to be patiently pouring at a snail’s pace in order to make the perfect fluffy, emulsified homemade mayonnaise. Then, you turn your Vitamix on and voila it does all of the work for you as you sit back and take a short (and well-deserved) rest. I like to store mine in a quart-sized wide mouthed mason jar for easy access and I have lots of those on hand for my to-go salads! Per the recipe, the mayo should be good for about a week past the expiration date on the eggs you use in making it.

Go ahead. Give it a try and tell me if it isn’t just life-changing!

 

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I love the lighter flavor olive oil (this one is from Kroger) since it doesn’t give an olive-y taste to the mayo. (Note that the spices shown in the photo are for the Deconstructed Gyro dressing linked above.)

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Mint, parsley, red pepper and za’tar = yum!

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Here it is, folks! Best. Invention. Ever. (And crazy inexpensive!)

 

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PS. How fun is my styrofoam cup? (And it’s not really vodka.)

Tasting at Ovid

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Living in San Francisco spoils you in many ways. Beautiful views at every glance, incredible food, abundant culture and proximity to fabulous vacation spots abound. One such spot is, of course, the wine country.

When we lived in SF, we could be in Sonoma in 45 minutes and Napa just a smidgen longer and we took advantage of that. . .a lot! When driving up for the day was as common as it was for us, we didn’t have to choose our vineyard visits and tastings very carefully – after all, we knew we could drive up again next weekend!

Now that we are back in Texas (and seriously missing those wine country visits!) we were so thrilled to take a trip back to Napa for a visit. Our friend turned 40 this year and his adorable wife planned the most incredible party for him at their ranch in the wine country. It was an absolute blast! (But I digress…)

Hubs and I decided to head up a few days early (our first trip sans kids – yikes!) and do a little wine tasting – and getting to know one another again. It’s amazing how much talking with one another we got done when we weren’t being interrupted by little voices the whole time! As you know, hubs is a major wine guy, so he planned all of the tastings. He loves research and during his reading, he asked me if there were any places that I wanted to visit. Well, hubs may be the wine guy, but I have a dear friend who is a sommelier (which is not an easily-earned title, let me tell you!)  See? I have connections, too! So, I emailed my friend Amy who recently founded the Bay Area Wine Company who gave me a few “not to be missed” tasting ideas, one of which was Ovid. Hubs was ecstatic, as that was one of the wineries on his list, so a phone call later, we were booked!

Ovid sits on Pritchard Hill and let me tell you, I wasn’t prepared for the fabulousness of this wine tasting experience. The surrounding beauty, the gorgeous facilities, the incredible wines and the lengthy two-on-one chat with our friendly hostess, Janet, a managing partner at the winery, were absolutely unparalleled. We had some great tasting experiences on our trip, but this was probably our very favorite.

Ovid makes only three wines and doesn’t even make each of those every single year. They create as the harvest allows and are committed to only using the best of the best in their wines, which means that some years, a particular wine doesn’t get made. Ovid grows four Bordeaux varietals:  Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot and farms them all organically. Varying proportions of each are used in their blends. You can read more about their wines on their lovely website here.

If you’re near Napa or planning a trip there soon, I highly recommend giving Ovid a call to see if they can fit you in. There is a waiting list for their wines, but we were able to purchase a few at our tasting on their beautiful property on Pritchard Hill. I’m positive that your palate will thank you!

For now, take a “mini tour” through our photos below. As you can see, they are committed to making each visitor feel special and literally set out the silver and crystal for us. We enjoyed such a nice, long chat with Janet and truly felt like we left as friends, having talked about wine, the changes in the California landscape, raising children and just about everything else in between! Did I mention that they sent us a handwritten thank you note after our visit? Astounding attention to detail, my friends. THAT is what great products are made from!

 

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When you first walk in, you’ll notice that your name is written on the Ovid chalkboard.
They’ve been expecting you and you’re an honored guest!

 

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So much so, that THIS is your lovely place setting.

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No attention to detail has been left to chance

 

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It is like a friend set the table beautifully, just for you.

 

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Sweet details

 

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Delicious bites!

 

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Thoughtful details.

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A lovely living-room-like setting for a tasting!

 

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(PS. I fell in LOVE with this glassware!)

 

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How lovely is THIS piece of furniture?

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Beautiful and meaningful – I wanted to open each one of these!

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A fire pit on the balcony

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Stunning views from the tasting room

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You can see so much of Napa Valley from up here!

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Lovely

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The valley

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Pretty sure I could sit here for hours and never tire of it!

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Ovid Vineyards…a must-visit!

Happy First Birthday!

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I’ve been designing and making jewelry for fifteen years now. There are both good and bad sides to being a creative. One of the good things is that a lack of ideas is never a problem. I literally have creative ideas all day long. When I sit down to design a collection, having enough ideas has yet to be an issue. One of the bad sides of being creative, however, is that a lack of ideas is never a problem. And that can be incredibly exhausting. It can also be frustrating when you don’t have the time, energy or resources to pursue every idea. And therein lies the crucial challenge of running a creative business – being able to weed through the clutter to the very best.

My sweet little baby boy is one year old today. I’m having a really hard time believing it, since I’m fairly certain that I brought him home from the hospital as a newborn just yesterday, but alas, he’s walking (along furniture) and talking (mama is still his favorite word, thankfully!) and even attempting to ride his big brothers’ scooters (unsuccessfully, thank goodness!)

When a creative mama who adores her little one sits down to plan his first birthday party, craziness ensues. I had so many ideas that had a really hard time reigning it in. (See above note about creative problems.) We decided on a family birthday party for him since he’s just one and we’ve got two “big boy” birthday parties coming up in the next few months. I’ve been doing quite a few jewelry shows lately, so I really needed to keep it simple. (Well, simple by my standards, anyway…)

I decided on a “mustache bash” for our little man’s big celebration and it was really fun. We did a Sunday brunch (which is, by far, my favorite meal) and it was wonderful having a smaller celebration with family. And the birthday boy had an absolute ball, which was the best part. When we started singing to him, he grinned from ear to ear, and by the end of the event, he (and his seersucker birthday outfit) were completely covered in chocolate, so I consider that a huge success!

I wanted to share a few of the photos from the event with you, in case you’re looking for ideas for an upcoming little boy’s birthday party (or a cute baby shower theme.) I’m all about sharing the creativity! Have questions about any of the items you see below? Let us know in the comments. If you’d like to know more about any of the DIY decorations, let us know that, too. We love sharing ideas. And please share your birthday party ideas, too – you can never have too many in the queue for the future!

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How adorable is this mustache balloon?  And the giant “one” is bigger than the birthday boy!

 

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Baby Mum-Mums are a must at any one year old party! Our children have always loved them. They’re an easy way to entertain babies who are too little to eat with you at a restaurant, but also don’t want to feel left out – or to give to a baby as you’re fixing dinner when they’re unhappy with slow service!  I buy them on Amazon Prime in bulk here.

 

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I love to bake (which may be because I enjoy the fruits of my labor!) so making a birthday cake is really fun for me. This is the “smash cake” that I made for our little man. I used the recipe from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook, which is one of my absolute favorites and a must-own for anyone who loves to bake. I’ve been going to Magnolia Bakery in New York since the West Village was the only location and they’re cupcakes are still my very favorites – not to mention how adorable the place is!

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Pink peonies are my absolute favorite flower and I recently found some at the grocery store down the street – yay! I’m also a huge fan of hydrangea and think that the two together are really lovely. I made a similar arrangement for a jewelry show that I had last week and got lots of compliments on it.

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For the main centerpiece, I put hydrangeas and roses (always a classic combination) with snapdragons for a little pop!

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I’m a big fan of puffs for the same reasons as Mum-Mums – their high entertainment value. Plus, what they lack in nutritional value, they make up for in hand-eye coordination training, right? I like this brand, which I also order on Amazon Prime because they bring it right to my doorstep with no shipping charge – which is crazy helpful for this busy mama. (If you haven’t yet tried Amazon Prime, they’re offering a free 30-day trial of the service and I’m pretty sure you’ll be hooked after that! Just click on the graphic at the bottom of this post to claim your trial.

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 This is the “big cake” I baked.  (And it was SO yummy!)

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 Yay for first birthday gifts

 

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 Party favors. (Note the cute furry mustache stickers on the boys’ bags!)

 

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 I made these mustache milk bottle vases for table decorations, which
doubled as adult party favors!

 

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I made these place holders using my new embossing tools that I found at Paper Source. After the sweet (and clearly rather smart) sales associate there made a bookmark for my oldest son when he asked what the embossing tool was as we were browsing in the store, I was hooked.  I mean, how fun are these?!

 

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The big boys using the multi-colored marbled heart-shaped crayons that I made for kids to play with during the party. (We also sent a few home in the party favor bags, too!)

 
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 One really cannot have too many flowers, right?

 

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The table

 

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 Chocolate-covered = success in my book!

 

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 The birthday boy!