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Happy 4th of July

Ha!  I just used the term “photo shoot” to describe what I’m about to post.  It really was a matter of hanging a flag on our fence, dressing Harry in a flag shirt, and snapping away.  I didn’t get too creative here, but I did get a good number of great shots.  This was a simple approach, but we got exactly what we were looking for.  Patriotic pics of our little man that show off her sweet personality.

 

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As mentioned in our One Year Photos, I didn’t want to pay a ton to get some really great pics of my little guy on his birthday.  So, I decided to do a smash cake session in the back yard.  We bought some balloons and I baked a cake and we let our little man loose!  He wasn’t super crazy about getting the cake on his hands.  He doesn’t always like to be messy.  But I think we got a few good pictures nonetheless.

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Only in  California could I take these pictures on New Year’s Eve!

 

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We decided to have a library themed party for Harry’s first birthday.  We chose this theme because we want to promote reading, of course, and because Harry loves his books.  We also go to a weekly library that Harry really enjoys.  I started the party with the invitations.  I had a great idea of how I wanted it to look, so I got it done a couple MONTHS in advance.  But once I had the invitation done, I needed to start planning the actual party and I realized my idea wasn’t quite as broad as I had thought.  But, I was very happy with the way it all came together and I believe both Harry and our guests had a good time.

I mimicked the old libabry check-out cards for the invite.  I bought some old books at a thrift store to create a pocket that the card would slip into.

I mimicked the old libabry check-out cards for the invite. I bought some old books at a thrift store to create a pocket that the card would slip into.

I made this shirt for Harry.  I used some iron on bonding to adhere the ribbon suspenders and the one.  The bow tie I glued on with a hot glue gun.

I made this shirt for Harry. I used some iron on bonding to adhere the ribbon suspenders and the one. The bow tie I glued on with a hot glue gun.

While most of the party was outside, I did put up some decorations inside as well.  I found some cute 4x6 card packs on sale in the scrapbooking section of Hobby Lobby.  I punched holes and threaded them with yarn to make the banner.  Harry liked them.

While most of the party was outside, I did put up some decorations inside as well. I found some cute 4×6 card packs on sale in the scrapbooking section of Hobby Lobby. I punched holes and threaded them with yarn to make the banner. Harry liked them.

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I made banners out of old children's books.

I made banners out of old children’s books.

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We put clusters of balloons nailed into the grass to add color to an area where we couldn't otherwise hang anything.  It looked great.

We put clusters of balloons nailed into the grass to add color to an area where we couldn’t otherwise hang anything. It looked great.

Along the side of the house that has a wooded fence, we put up library sections and posters with books related quotes that I made on my computer then had printed at Staples.  I decided to go with a chalkboard look so that I could print in black and white without losing any of the effect I was going for.

Along the side of the house that has a wooded fence, we put up library sections and posters with books related quotes that I made on my computer then had printed at Staples. I decided to go with a chalkboard look so that I could print in black and white without losing any of the effect I was going for.

We put library section sings all around the yard, wherever we could find a way to make them stick.  This were hung on the balcony that over looks the backyard.

We put library section sings all around the yard, wherever we could find a way to make them stick. This were hung on the balcony that over looks the backyard.

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We hired a taco man for the main food, but wanted to make sure there were baby friendly foods as well.  I do think many of our guest (not just the little ones) enjoyed the option of Peanut Butter and Marshmallow or Cream Cheese and Jelly sandwiches.

We hired a taco man for the main food, but wanted to make sure there were baby friendly foods as well. I do think many of our guest (not just the little ones) enjoyed the option of Peanut Butter and Marshmallow or Cream Cheese and Jelly sandwiches.

I wanted to make sure there was something for the kids to actually do at the party besides just sit around, so I had an arts and crafts station and we gave out books as the party favor.  At the arts and crafts station, they could decorate party hats, decorate a bag to take home their goodies in, mold something out of play dogh and color.

I wanted to make sure there was something for the kids to actually do at the party besides just sit around, so I had an arts and crafts station and we gave out books as the party favor. At the arts and crafts station, they could decorate party hats, decorate a bag to take home their goodies in, mold something out of play dogh and color.

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I local thrift store sells children's books for 25 cents, so I was able to get enough that each child could pick one to take home as a favor.

I local thrift store sells children’s books for 25 cents, so I was able to get enough that each child could pick one to take home as a favor.

I made three types of cupcakes, Almond Joy, Lemon Delight, and Blue Suede.  They were all pretty good, but my favorites were the Blue Suede and Lemon Delight.

I made three types of cupcakes, Almond Joy, Lemon Delight, and Blue Suede. They were all pretty good, but my favorites were the Blue Suede and Lemon Delight.

I bought two packs of the candles that spell out Happy Birthday and swapped out the p's for r's and spray painted them so the candles would spell Harry's name.

I bought two packs of the candles that spell out Happy Birthday and swapped out the p’s for r’s and spray painted them so the candles would spell Harry’s name.

This shot cracks me up!  Harry didn't want to touch his cake at first, but once I finally got him to taste it, he realized he liked it after all.  He wanted to give it a big hug!

This shot cracks me up! Harry didn’t want to touch his cake at first, but once I finally got him to taste it, he realized he liked it after all. He wanted to give it a big hug!

This is Harry with one of his Aunties who he doesn't get to see too often, Paul's sister Kristi.

This is Harry with one of his Aunties who he doesn’t get to see too often, Paul’s sister Kristi.

Harry with Grandpa.

Harry with Grandpa.

This is Harry's cousin Gia.

This is Harry’s cousin Gia.

One of my dearest friends Tiffiny was able to make it!

One of my dearest friends Tiffiny was able to make it!

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Harry enjoyed some time with Grandma Katie before the party got started.

Randi and I met last year in our new mom's group right after our babies were born.  Her little guy, Charlie, is one of Harry's first friends.

Randi and I met last year in our new mom’s group right after our babies were born. Her little guy, Charlie, is one of Harry’s first friends.

Dan is one of Paul's oldest friends.  They went to high school together and Dan one even one of Paul's best men in our wedding.  It was great to see Dan and Sarah as they live pretty far and we don't the opportunity too often.

Dan is one of Paul’s oldest friends. They went to high school together and Dan one even one of Paul’s best men in our wedding. It was great to see Dan and Sarah as they live pretty far and we don’t the opportunity too often.

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This is Grandma Katie with Harry's youngest cousin, Luka, who is only a month old!

This is Grandma Katie with Harry’s youngest cousin, Luka, who is only a month old!

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These are my parents, Dan and Mary. Harry loves his grandma and grandpa!

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This is my Grandpa, so Harry’s Great Grandpa, with one of my younger cousins Tommy. We were so glad they were all able to come.

There was a great turn out for the part!  We were so glad to see everyone and it was fun to gather all the kids for a picture.

There was a great turn out for the part! We were so glad to see everyone and it was fun to gather all the kids for a picture.

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For Harry’s first birthday, I decided not to go get pictures done. Instead I decided to do them myself. I knew this was a risk, because I’m not a pro, but I also didn’t want to pay an arm and a leg for cute pictures of my little guy. I recruited my mom and my husband to help out, and we headed to the park. I brought props and snacks for my little guy. Here is a good handful of my favorites.

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I used the Rohnna Designs app to add the cute stars and border to this one. The app is only a couple bucks and has tons of fun options to dress up your pictures.

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I left the board blank for the pictures and added the text afterwards. This will allow me more freedom and pretty writing.

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I have been meaning to write this post for a couple months now.  I have been putting it off, though, because I have been going back and forth between wanting to simply showcase the party, or offer some how-to’s of some of the details.  Well, right now, I’m going to do a showcase.  I plan to add a few other posts here and there with more details for some of the projects.  But for today, I’m going to keep it simple.

Before I share the party, I want to share the story.  I have known my friend Katie since we were really little girls.  I’m talking, like, 25 years or more!  I don’t even like saying that because it makes me feel old.  But that’s how far back our friendship goes.  She and her husband got married young and have recently celebrated a decade of marriage.  Over those years, they wanted to start a family, and unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned.  But the Lord put it on their hearts to adopt and this last summer, they finish the preparation and were just waiting for the call telling them a baby was waiting.  So, to help them prepare, my husband and I threw them a baby shower.

Nautical themes are pretty popular these days and they can be pretty gender neutral.  Also, it’s not too frilly which we thought was appropriate for the men who were invited.  We wanted to make sure Dad-to-Be and his friends were comfortable.  The party was also close to the Fourth of July, so I was able to find lots of wonderful red, white and blue decorations to incorporate.

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Katie wanted a modern looking invite with clean lines. I wanted to celebrate the fact that they were opening their home and hearts to adoption.

 

We decided to keep the menu simple by barbecuing, but we made a beautiful buffet in the dining room.

We decided to keep the menu simple by barbecuing, but we made a beautiful buffet in the dining room.

 

For the drinks, I kept it simple again, by sticking with lemonade, iced tea, and water.  But I classed it up a bit by putting out some fancy garnishes and flavoring syrups.  The drink station was a hit.

For the drinks, I kept it simple again, by sticking with lemonade, iced tea, and water. But I classed it up a bit by putting out some fancy garnishes and flavoring syrups. The drink station was a hit.

 

For dessert, I wanted variety, so I got out this cupcake tower I built a while back and changed the ribbon to match this party.  I made a gluten free cupcakes, caramel and chocolate dipped marshmallows, and Neapolitan rice crispy treats dipped in white chocolate.  We also made jello-boats and the mother of the dad-to-be brought some gluten free lemon cookies and brownies to add as well.

For dessert, I wanted variety, so I got out this cupcake tower I built a while back and changed the ribbon to match this party. I made a gluten free cupcakes, caramel and chocolate dipped marshmallows, and Neapolitan rice crispy treats dipped in white chocolate. We also made jello-boats and the mother of the dad-to-be brought some gluten free lemon cookies and brownies to add as well.

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I wanted the whole event to be very special, of course, and there were so many things I wanted to include.  That is why I decided to keep the menu simple and elegant (if I’m allowed to use the word elegant to describe hamburgers and hotdogs).  But keeping it simple allowed me to spend more energy on some of the decorations and games.  I will share those in my next post.

 

 

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Clearly I love pennant bunting. If you take a look at my sprinkles covered cake, my girly ducky cake, the decorations at the Oscar 2012 party, and even the background decorations in the post about the cupcake tower, you will see that I love it. And pennant bunting is seriously the easiest (if not too time consuming) party decoration that one can make, so it didn’t even occur to me to make a blog post about it. But I was recently scrolling through this blog with my mom and she seemed to think these pennant banners are blog worthy.

So here they are. You can make them in any color. The ones you’ve seen here are made from cardstock, but they can be made with fabric or any other material that suits you. The main thing is that the pennant flags need to be fairly stiff. Paper is fine as is. Some canvas type fabrics would work fine, too. If you like a thin, lighter fabric, you can use some starch to stiffen it, or sew (or even glue) a couple layers together. You know what, I supposed it doesn’t need to be too stiff if you aren’t planning to hang the strands at an angle.

Because the possibilities are endless, I will stick with how I made the banners that we hung at our Spotted PiG Collection Carnival last year. These are about as simple as they come.

The Banners were a great visual above the registration table.

I started by raiding the paper supply cupboard at my office to find green and orange paper. I found two shades of green, and one shade or orange. They weren’t exactly what I would have chosen if I was shopping for materials, but I wanted to be cost efficient, so I went with what we had on hand.

Then, I came up with my patterns. I actually used Publisher (though I’m starting to get into my new Adobe Creative Suite so next time I’ll have to use InDesign or Photoshop). Generally, I prefer a flag that’s a little wider, I think the shape is cuter when the top is wider, but I narrowed my triangles enough to make five triangles per sheet. Once I had my triangles placed on the page, I added some texture. I simply dropped in a few patterns and converted the images to black and white. Since my paper was colored, I didn’t want to add more color here. Generally, to maintain the integrity of my colors, I only print color onto white, cream, or light gray. Plus, the black and white printer in our office seems to be able to handle bigger jobs a little faster.

See the various patterns on the flags hung above the Cupcake station.

I ran the colored paper through the printer. Since we got five flags per sheet, I printed about 45 pages total. This gave us A LOT of flags! I let one of the student workers cut these ones out. She was able to go pretty fast using our office paper cutter. Then, after all the flags were cut, she went back and whole punched them. She placed two wholes, about an inch in on each of the top corners. We used plain ‘ol curling ribbon to string them up. Since we thought we were going to be outside using ez-ups for our booths, she made strands about 15 feet long with about 25 flags on each. We figured that would give us the right length to put on a 10ft x 10ft booth with room for a nice droopy swag, and ribbon to hang down the sides.

The day before our event, May Gray was rearing its ugly head and we made a last minute decision to move the party inside. So, the banners were instead taped to a glass wall , table cloths and other random pieces of furniture that we were given permission to tape things to.

We couldn’t tape them to the wall. But, we could tape them to the speakers mounted on the wall. Here the sting of pennants acts as a nice backdrop to two of our games, the PiG Pyramid and Pig Pong Toss.

They really brought a festive touch to the Campus Center and tied the whole event together. By moving inside, we had to spread out the booths to a few relatively close but still spread apart areas. Having something as simple as these pennant banners really tied things together.

The pompoms you see at the ends of the banners were made from tissue paper. Another simple craft (you can easily find a tutorial for them on pinterest, I’m sure).

Next time I make these, I may make them out of burlap. I might even iron on some cute designs or other festive fabric to add some color.

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Bathroom Facelift

We, or rather, I love doing projects around the house.  In fact, it’s one of my favorite things about homeownership,the freedom to paint the walls whatever color I want, and other fun things like that.  They can be quite a headache sometimes, of course.  That’s why DH doesn’t love these projects quite as much as I do.  But we both agree that the projects are always worth it when we’re done.

One room we hadn’t gotten to was the guest/future-kid’s bathroom.  But, I have been wanting to give it a facelift for a while, and DH is on summer break, so we decided to get it done.

As you can see here in the picture, it’s a decent bathroom.  Nothing special, but not unusable either.  It got the job done, but we really wanted a bathroom that would be an oasis, a relaxing place to refresh and rejuvenate.  I know, that’s quite a lot to ask from a little space!

Turns out I only have one before shot. Sorry! I thought I had some on file, so I didn’t take any before we started the project. But this still gives you an idea of what we were working with.

Our plans started with repainting.  I used left over paints from other rooms in the house, so we ended up with white, cream, and green.  I also planned to have molding put around the mirror, and near the ceiling.

When the handyman came over to put in the molding, he strongly discouraged us from framing out the mirror as I had wanted to.  He pointed out that the molding would have to be glued to the mirror and with time, if the bathroom was used regularly, the steam would erode the glue and ruin the molding.  So, we decided to have the builders grade mirror just removed, and we went with a framed mirror instead.

Of course that meant we had to go back and repaint the wall where the mirror was pulled off, but it was so worth it in the end!

Luckily, the mirror came down nice a clean. The wall still had to be cleaned up and textured before being repainted. But in the end, it looks so much better with a framed mirror.

I found this mirror at Ross for only $35! What a steal, huh! I had expected to pay closer to $100 for a mirror the right size and look.

I wish I had a before picture of this light fixture to show what a huge transformation a can of spray paint can make! Before, it was a crusty old chrome finish, it looked so out-dated. We didn’t want to pay to replace it altogether, so we took a can of hammered bronze spray paint to it instead. I can’t tell you how happy I am with the result.

This angle here shows how we painted the bathroom. We decided to paint the walls white and the ceiling green. The cream we used for the molding was also used on the cabinets down below.

Here is a finish shot of the bathroom. The framed mirror looks so great and the shelf set I found at Target is a great way to add in some additional decorations and color.

I was so excited when I found this curved curtain rod at Ross for pretty cheap. It makes me feel like this is a posh hotel bathroom! The curtain itself was a Target find also, and is what I used as inspiration for the rest of the bathroom.

I found a couple prints on Pintrest and created a few myself. Everything in the frames I simply printed off from a colored printer. I am really happy with the finished product. A great combo of guest friendly and kids friendly.

Here’s a better angle of the artwork in the frames. I love the “Suspicious Owl Suspects Something” and also the picture of the soap saying, “Rub me on your butt!” Very fun and silly.

At the end of the project, we are both so thrilled with the way everything turned out.  Our future kids are going to have the best bathroom in the house!  In fact, DH has said a few times that he wishes this was our bathroom.  But I supposed we will just have to do something similar to ours in the future.

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