Party Planning – Aaliyah’s first birthday

When my brother and I were growing up, birthdays were something we looked forward to. My mom was always really great at making us feel special on our very special day. She would be the first person to wish us a happy birthday in the morning, she would make a delicious homemade birthday cake, and she always planned a spectacular birthday party. My birthdays were always special. As a matter of fact, they still are. Just last year, for my thirtieth birthday, she planned a surprise party for me. It was spectacular!

My mom played a pivotal role in my love of birthdays. She has created hundreds of special memories for me, which have inspired me now that I am a mother. In about two months, my baby girl will be turning one. It’s bittersweet, because I can’t wait to celebrate our first year as a family, but it feels like it has gone by so very fast. All you mothers out there know what I mean. Nevertheless, I have been brainstorming all month about possible party themes for Aaliyah’s first birthday party. I want it to be perfect, so I have been weighing my options. And I am pretty sure that I have selected the greatest theme possible! We’re going to have a Not a Box Party.

I’m sure you are all wondering what I am talking about. I really wanted to get creative and keep it simple for Aaliyah. And for the past two months, Aaliyah has been playing in a large cardboard box at my grandparents’ house every weekend. She has a blast playing with it. So I started thinking that it might be something that I could use. There is a book called Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. It basically illustrates how using your imagination, a box can become so many things to play with. So I have begun to collect large boxes, and I will use them to create an imaginary play area in my grandparents’ backyard. I plan to make a train, a rocket ship, a car, a helicopter, a hot air balloon, and so much more. I can’t wait to get started!


DIY Baby Shower Gift – Receiving Blankets

Swaddling your baby is the newest craze! Wrapping your little one up nice and tight, so they can take a nice little nap. If you find yourself not so in love with all of those receiving blankets sold in the stores and want something different, then you have come to the right place. This is a quick and easy project that you can knock out in about 20 minutes. You can create yourself some great new swaddle sheets that will be your go to item for baby. They also make great gifts for all your friends. All your friends will be so impressed with your creative style.

-1 1/4 yard solid or printed flannel
-Matching Thread

Step One:
Begin by squaring off the raw edges of your flannel fabric with a rotary cutter or scissors. Once you have done so, you should have a square shape measuring approximately 43″ x 43″

Next clip the four corners diagonally as shown below. Don’t cut off too much of the corners. I usually cut about a 1/2″ or 3/4″. You want the edges to be thin. But if you want to make it a little easier on yourself, you can cut about 1″.

Step Two:

Now it’s time to break out the old iron, but just for a sec. Fold each edge down approximately 1/2″ and press, like shown below. If you are a stickler for avoiding frayed edges, cut or fold the corners down a bit more, then fold each edge down twice. Your corners will appear mitered.

This is what your corners should look like once you’ve finished….

Step Three: And my favorite part….
It’s time to sew! Set your sewing machine to it’s zig-zag stitch. You want to sew close to, but not over the raw edges. Sew all around each of the four sides.

Now you’ll want to zig-zag over each of the mitered corners, as shown below. and secure them with a backstitch.

Your corners should look like this once you’ve finished…

And that’s right….you’re finished! You now have your own homemade swaddle blanket to wrap your little bundle of joy up in. Enjoy!

A little End Note for all you mavericks who’d like to really impress. Buy a little extra fabric, so you can make some matching burp cloths. They are perfect for any Baby Shower gifts.

Hostess Gift – White Chocolate Pretzel Bark

Hello summer! I am so excited for the beginning of this long fun filled season. It’s the beginning of beach days, pool parties, afternoons at the park, barbecues, camp outs, and so much more. Last weekend was our first three day weekend of the summer for Memorial Day. We had a full weekend as a family planned. It included family, friends, and barbecues.

During this season, there are so many different invitations to hang out with friends. There will be no shortage of fun in the summer sun. I truly hate to show up empty handed. Even if my host or hostess says they don’t need anything. I have gotten creative with my hostess gifts. It’s one of my favorite things to do. Last Sunday, I created a patriotic themed hostess gift in honor of Memorial day. The great thing about it, is we have several patriotic holidays throughout the year, so it’s one you can put together for other holidays as well!

So I call this recipe my White Chocolate Pretzel Bark. It was a hit at our party last weekend. It was all gone halfway through the party. Next time I’ll have to make a bigger batch! It’s quick and easy, so try it out.

White Chocolate Pretzel Bark

3 bags White Chocolate Chips
3 cups Pretzels, broken
11/2 cups Oreos, crushed
1/4 cup Red & Blue M & Ms
Red, White & Blue sprinkles
Parchment paper
3 Tbsp. shortening

1. Begin by lining a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. Next, separate your red and blue M & Ms from the rest of the colors and set them aside.

3. Sprinkle pretzels and Oreos evenly over the entire surface of the parchment paper.

4. Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and add shortening on top. Heat chips for 45 seconds and then removed the bowl and stir them around a bit. Return them to microwave and heat them again for another 40 seconds. Remove them from the microwave and stir them up with a spatula until all the lumps are gone and chocolate is smooth.

5. Pour melted chocolate on top of your pretzels and Oreos. Make sure you cover all of your pieces. Immediately after pouring your chocolate, sprinkle it with your M & Ms and colored sprinkles.

6. Place your cookie sheet in the freezer for about ten minutes, so your chocolate can harden. Then remove it from the freezer and use your hands to break it up into jagged pieces.

7. Now come up with a creative and fun way to package your delicious hostess gift. I guarantee that it will be a hit!!!


My first Mother’s Day as a mom

My very first Mother’s Day. It was a very special milestone for me. One that I wasn’t really thinking about in advance. You think about the major holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Halloween, and how spectacular they are going to be. But somehow you overlook the significance of your very first Mother’s Day until it’s almost upon you. In the past, it has always been about honoring my mom and my grandma. I had so much to be thankful for and I spent each Mother’s Day trying to show them just how grateful I am to have them. This year it was about so much more. It was my very first Mother’s Day as a mom, my mom’s first one as a grandma, and my grandma’s first one as a great grandma. We had so much to celebrate, and I couldn’t wait to do it!

I wanted to plan a special brunch for my family in honor of my grandma, my mom, and Krystal for Mother’s Day. I was really excited about it. I planned a fabulous menu and put together some spectacular gifts. I couldn’t wait until the day finally came. I was so incredibly excited to show my family how special they are to me and Aaliyah. I spent most of the week before, putting together Mother’s Day gifts. Shelby and I made footprint tiles for my mom and grandma and a handprint tile for Krystal. I also put together some pop top candy tins as favors for the table. Nothing too spectacular. Just a little something special.

We celebrated at my grandparents’ house. We love to spend time over there. It is the most beautiful setting ever and one of my favorite places in the world. It was a beautiful sunny day with a nice cool breeze. The best kind of California weather. My mom set up a table outside in the backyard under my favorite tree. We decorated the table with Mother’s Day messages and flowers. The stage was set for our special family celebration.

The menu I planned was very decadent. I couldn’t wait to prepare it. We began with fresh fruit – strawberries, watermelon, blackberries, pineapple, and blueberries. Then I baked up a savory individual tomato basil frittata and some spicy breakfast potatoes to accompany them. My mom also fried up some of her delicious crispy bacon. She makes the best bacon and I am still learning. And to finish things up, I prepared my extra special French Toast with blackberry butter, powdered sugar and boysenberry syrup. It was a menu to die for and I couldn’t wait to prepare it.

I was running behind in the morning. George and I had stayed out late the night before visiting with his sister and her boyfriend. So I missed my mark for the beginning of brunch. My brother made sure that I knew that – Sibling rivalry and all. But it all came together perfectly. Even Cory admitted he was won over and it was worth the wait. It was a great afternoon. The best people I know all in my favorite place in the world, laughing and talking. It’s moments like these when I just sit back and smile. They make everything worthwhile. All of the work and the preparation seems to pale in comparison to all of the happiness. My family is the most important thing to me and this Mother’s Day was extra special for all of us.

The only negative part of my day, was that George had to work all day. I wished he could have been there, but you can’t have everything. But he still managed to make me feel special. He showed up for dinner at my parents’ house that night with the sweetest card and a new Willow Tree figurine for our collection. It was a beautiful Mother’s Day. And it was my very first one ever!

Happy Mother’s Day

Today is a very special day. It’s Mother’s Day. I hope that you all are out spending the day with those special women in your lives. Today is a day to take a moment to tell our mothers and grandmothers just how special they are. We all know just how much they do for us, but we don’t always tell them how much it means to us. Today is the day – Make a phone call, write a note, or give them a hug. I promise you that it will mean the world to them.

Today my family and I have been celebrating all day. It has been a wonderful day. Later on this week, I will share our Mother’s Day celebration with all of you. It has been a spectacular day and I’m enjoying every moment of it. Happy Mother’s Day!