Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Monkeying Around (Cooper's 2nd Birthday)!

The girls and me with our Birthday Boy!
I mentioned in a blog post long, long ago that I had already determined the theme for Cooper's 2nd Birthday - Sock Monkeys - and I stuck with that and had a great little party for my not-so-baby-anymore boy.  His birthday was almost a month ago and with the move I am obviously behind on blogging, but I still wanted to share the details and photos.

First of all, a little background on sock monkeys in my life.  Anyone that knows me well knows how close I was to my Grandma and how much I absolutely and completely adored her.  She was such a huge part of my life growing up and so many of my childhood (and even adulthood) memories include her.  We spent a lot of time at her house and my sister and cousins and I loved every minute of it.  My Grandma had lots of chintzy little things around her house and lots of old toys and such, and a few sock monkeys were among those items.  I don't know where they came from or how old they were, but they were always there and we all loved to play with them.

So sock monkeys became one of a handful of items that represented Grandma's House to me.  When I was searching the internet for birthday party themes and ideas I came across some sock monkey parties and knew that I had to go with it.  Sock monkey are not only cute, classic and fun, but also have a special place in my heart thanks to my Grandma.

Since most traditional sock monkeys of the classic variety are red and brown those were the obvious choices for the color scheme.  Etsy is always a 1st choice for me when looking for specific/custom items so I checked there for a birthday shirt and printable party package and found both (of course!).

I also looked to some of my favorite blogs for party planning tips and photos and found tons of useful info.  Turns out that the sock monkey theme is quite popular these days for birthday parties and baby showers.

Here are some photos of the party:

Dessert and take home treat table with printable party package from Cupcake Express on Etsy.
Treats were all red and brown candy and other sweet things - Tootsie Pops, Whoppers, Tootsie Rolls, Twizzlers and Flipz chocolate covered pretzels.
Homemade cupcakes made even cuter with cupcake wrappers and toppers (part of the printable package shown above).

Cardboard gift boxes added height and miniature sock monkeys added a playful touch to the table.
I  bought the "C" at Hobby Lobby and painted it red to match the scheme.

Another perfect cake from Edible Art (Charlotte).

I found these fun "party balls" at Party City and used them as favors.
The guests filled them with sweet treats from the take home treat table.  

The food!
Nugget tray from Chick-fil-a, fruit bowl, snack mix and banana creme pudding cups.

The Birthday Boy!
The shirt was another Etsy purchase from  Whimsical Stitches.

Monday, December 5, 2011

These Boots Were Made For Walking (in the rain)!

So I can't believe that I'm going to admit this, but I have never owned a pair of rain boots.  I mean, not since I was like 5 or something.  As an adult they have just never been on the top of my shopping list.  In fact, up until recently I wasn't really sure how I felt about adults wearing rain boots.  I have contemplated buying myself a pair many times but always decided against it for one reason or another - I don't really need them, they might look dorky, will I ever actually wear them, we had a drought, they might not be comfortable, etc.

Now that we are living in Iowa I feel that most of those excuses are void.  It has rained here a lot in the short time that we have been here and the snow is bound to be coming sooner rather than later (I won't get started on how I feel about snow).  I don't think that I can bring myself to wear snow boots, so my rain boots will have to do double duty and act as snow boots too.  The dilemma that I'm having now is finding a pair that I like.  And that are not $200+.  No matter how much I might like them, I simply cannot justify paying that much money for a pair of boots that are going to be worn in rain, snow, mush and muck.  Even if I could justify, it I cannot afford it.  End of story.

I have an idea of what I want but can't seem to find the exact pair that is just right.  I'm starting to think that I am either very picky or just not with the current trends these days because I have been looking for a few months (in anticipation of the move I started searching while we were still in NC) and still have not found the perfect pair of rain boots.

Here are some options (of course my top choices are either sold out or too pricey!):
Aqua Stop "Grace" from Kohl's

Chooka Canvas Stripe (I think these look black but apparently they are navy)

Chooka Premium Stripe

Kate Spade New York Randi (one of my faves but also $100)

Missoni for Target (no longer available!)

Target Polka Dot

Target Retro Birdie

Target Union Stripe (one of my faves and sold out of course!)

Target Wedge Heel

Tory Burch Rubber Logo (another fave but $150)

So, what's a girl to do?  The snow will be here soon and I need my feet to stay warm and dry!

Blogging Back Up

I just realized that I haven't blogged since Oct. 19th!  Trust me when I say that this is not due to a lack of topics, but rather a lack of time and energy!

I was a single parent for about 5 weeks while Matt came up here to Iowa and started his job, and that may have been the most exhausting 5 weeks of my life.  Halloween and Cooper's 2nd birthday fell during that time period along with the everyday tasks of keeping up with 3 children.  I was also still chairing the Parent Teacher Committee at Addyson's preschool and had to plan the Fall Festival there (for a mere almost 400 people).  And of course, there was prepping for the move - researching schools here for both girls, checking the area out via the internet (making sure there were decent places to eat and shop!), and spending time with and saying good-bye to all of our Charlotte area friends.  Lots of good-byes!

Then of course there was getting here.  A 2 day road trip through 6 states with 3 kids followed by a 3 day stay with my parents while we waited for the movers to deliver our belongings.  And then the most dreaded part - unpacking.  I nearly buried myself alive numerous times but I was determined to have everything unpacked and put away in record time.  I hate clutter and being unorganized makes me feel out of control so I had to get it all done - fast.  And I did.

Rylee started her new school last week and is transitioning well, and we finally found a preschool for Addyson to attend, although she hasn't started yet because I am currently working on completing the 5 million pages of paperwork that is required.

And amidst all of that there is also Christmas planning and prepping!  We took the kids to a real tree farm here, out in the country - just like the Griswold's do on the Christmas vacation movie:)  So our tree is up and decorated, the stockings are hung on the mantle, and the outside lights and wreaths are in place.  I'm not doing the full-on Christmas decor this year - I've done enough unpacking for awhile and I can't bring myself to take any more "stuff" out of boxes and bins - so we stuck to the basics and did only the big things this year.

Finally life is returning to normal and I'm finding myself with a wee bit of free time each day.  Actually, that "free" time could and probably should be spent more wisely - cleaning, doing the never ending loads of laundry that we seem to accumulate, continuing to decorate our new home (you know, the important stuff) - but what would life be without the internet - Facebook, blogging, Pinterest, e-mail and Google?  Americans waste too much time on the internet - it's our way of life.  I heard that on the radio the other day and I couldn't agree more.  But I thoroughly enjoy my time wasters!

So, I have yet to post about my Farewell Tour of Charlotte (I managed to make a pretty good dent in my list but wish I had more time to hit all of my favorite spots!) and Cooper's Sock Monkey birthday party.  And I have a list of Christmas post ideas that I was hoping to get out of my head and on here but I don't know how many of those will make it to the blog world.  I also have some posts about decorating our new home (remember the yellow and gray color scheme?) and life in Iowa.  And of course, I never stop wishing and wanting so Wednesday's Wish List and the Designer Spotlight posts will return at some point.  I have lots to share!  So much that you will probably tire of hearing from me but I hope not:)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hello Yellow (and gray)!

So I am loving the yellow and gray color scheme right now and it just so happens that we are moving to a new home soon, soooooooo I am already decorating it in my head.  The home has an open floor plan with the kitchen and living areas flowing together into a great room sort of thing, so I have a fairly large space to work with there and thought it would be the perfect place to try out my new favorite color scheme.

Doesn't looking at this color make you smile?

There is something very crisp and clean, yet cheery and fun about the yellow and gray combo.  It's also sort of a modern/contemporary scheme without being too far out there.

Here are some things that I am eyeing for our new home in Iowa:

Cute artwork from Etsy.

Pyramid mirror by Dwell Studio

I love chevron and I love Dwell Studio so this is the perfect rug!

Fabric by Dwell Studio

Pillow from Z Gallerie

Pillow by Dwell Studio for Target.

Dining chair from Ikea w/dark gray upholstery.

So one upside to moving - I get to redecorate:)  And in case you didn't notice, I'm also loving Dwell Studio these days!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Farewell Tour of Charlotte

Saying good bye to the Queen City after almost 15 years!

Even though we aren't quite sure of our exact departure date, I am planning a Farewell Tour of Charlotte.  Part of me is excited to visit all of my favorite restaurants, shops and other hot spots in the near weeks, but the other part of me is sad knowing that I may not ever have the chance to visit them again.

I am certainly planning to come for a visit (or several), and in my heart of hearts I am hoping that we end up back here sooner rather than later, but there is always a chance that we won't or that in the meantime some of my favorite places might close (that would be tragic!).  So I feel like I need to cram them all into this short period of time, just in case.

My list is growing by the day but here is what I have so far (you may notice a food/shopping theme):
Mai restaurant - best sushi I've had here!  And a well kept secret.  If you ever go order the sapporro roll.

Pewter Rose Bistro in South End
Pewter Rose - my favorite brunch spot!  I must have a mashed potato omelette and mimosas here before leaving.  And the butterscotch scones of course!  This is where I held my bridal luncheon too:)
Encore Bistro - This is only on my list because of the yummy raspberry snow cone martinis - best drink ever!

Amelie's French Bakery in NoDa - eclectic decor and amazing food!
Amelie's Bakery - Though I've only been here once it quickly became one of my favorites.  The ambience combined with the best desserts ever won me over!
Cabo Fish Taco - If you've never been here you must go.  Such a cool setting in NoDa and great food too!
The Melting Pot - an oldie but a goodie!  I have always loved big group dinners here with the cheese fondue, main course and then of course, chocolate fondue.  I've never left hungry, that's for sure!
Alexander Michael's - historic setting uptown, amazing chicken pitas and the best fried pickles!

Edible Art cake
Edible Art - best cakes ever!  Not only do they taste incredible but the design work is amazing too.  Our wedding cake and just about every cake I've ever ordered for any occasion since has come from here.

And on to the non-food related stops on my tour:

Shopping Mecca 
Southpark Mall
More specifically - Tory Burch, Nordstrom, Anthropologie, Kate Spade, Urban Outfitters, Tiffany &Co., Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Pottery Barn Kids.  Can I afford most of those places?  Nope, but I sure do love to wander around and pretend that I can. Before I leave I will have the Tory Burch bag that I've had my eye on though!

Beautiful stone bridge at Freedom Park - seen in many movies!
Freedom Park - just because it's such a beautiful park and a Charlotte landmark.  I've taken many walks through this park over the years and eaten lots of funnel cakes during the Festival in the Park.  Great place!
Ikea - duh.  It took forever to get one here and now I have to up and leave.  I could wander around there all day.  Love that place!
Home Goods - I've checked out my shopping options in Iowa and found that most of my favorite stores have locations near where we will be living, except for Home Goods.  There isn't one in the entire state of Iowa.  Sad but true.
Nordstrom Rack - again, Charlotte finally gets one and now I'm leaving!

Home of the Carolina Panthers!
Bank of America Stadium/Carolina Panthers football game - this one probably isn't going to happen b/c I have such limited time to catch a game but I have some great memories of tailgating and cheering the boys in black and blue on.
Off Broadway Shoes - who doesn't love to wander around a store with thousands of pairs of shoes?

Just reading over that list is exhausting!  Sometimes I forget how many great things Charlotte has to offer.  And that's just scratching the surface!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday's Wish List

No Wish List last week due to a little one in the hospital but I'm back and ready with another one.

This one is strictly a Tory Burch Wish List.  How I wish I didn't love her so much.  I can't really afford her but I sure do love me some Tory.  And as a moving gift I have convinced Matt to use a small piece of his bonus to buy me a new handbag by Miss Tory herself.  It won't make up for the fact that I'm going to miss Charlotte and my life here like crazy but it's a start:)

This week's list has 6 items instead of the usual 5 but I had to throw in a bracelet along with all of the great handbags.  And there were even more items that I wanted to include but for today I'm sticking with handbags and the bracelet.

Lucite cuff bracelet.

Plaid rain tote.

Roslyn tote.

Trompe l'oiel tote.
Karlya carryall tote.

Tweed McLane bag.
Can you guess which bag is going to be mine?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Going Back To Cali

Remember that song by LL Cool J?  "I'm going back to Cali, Cali, Cali..."  It's been in my head since we made the very difficult decision to pack up and move our family.  Only we're not going back to Cali.  We're going back to Iowa.  Words I never thought I would say (or sing).

Maybe a more appropriate song title would be "Take Me Home Country Roads."  To the place I belong. Or so it seems that we belong there for the time being.  Matt was offered a job there, and not only is it a great opportunity for him, but for our whole family.  It's an opportunity that would be silly and irresponsible to pass up, so we're going to give it a try.

And speaking of family, ours will be close by now so that will be a luxury that we've never had before.  Maybe, just maybe, Matt and I can ditch the kids with my parents and sneak away for a weekend.  Or even just one night.  Or even for a few hours.  Sadly, it's been years since that has happened.

Having family so close is one of the few perks that I can think of when it comes to leaving North Carolina and heading back to the MidWest.  I'm trying not to dwell on all of the reasons why I don't want to leave and focus on the reasons why this move will be good for us, and family is by far #1 on that list.

Thankfully we have some time before we have to leave so I plan on spending that time not only with friends, but also visiting my favorite restaurants, shops, and other Charlotte spots that I'm going to miss. And there are many.  I'll be sure to blog about each spot along the way!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Design Dilemma

So remember last week when I wrote about planning Addyson's big girl room and I was sooooo excited about the bubblegum pink and turquoise color scheme?  Well, thanks to Pinterest I found something that I like even more.  Go figure.

The pink is still there for sure but instead of turquoise the other color is more of a powdery/periwinkle blue.  It is so beautiful - clean, crisp and still girly.  And not something that I ever would have thought of on my own.  Love it!  

Of course this means that the $7 bedding will have to go back to Kohl's and I'll have to find something different to replace it.  What are the odds of finding another bedding set for only $7?  Slim to none I'd say.  

But as soon as I saw these photos I fell in love with the color scheme so I'll have to deal with the bedding predicament and move on.  I think it will be worth it!

Isn't this room amazing?  Photos via Chic and Cheap Nursery

Monday, September 19, 2011

Planning Addyson's Big Girl Room

Addyson turned 3 in June and is still sleeping in her crib.  We did remove the drop side about 2 months ago, so technically she's now sleeping in a mini daybed of sorts.  Okay, it's still a crib.  I was just trying to make myself feel better.  Didn't work...

Truthfully, time got away from us and the next thing we knew we had a 3+ year old that was still confined to a crib and starting to look a little silly in it.  And truthfully, we don't have extra money to spend on a new bed and everything else that goes along with it.  I mean, she can't get a new bed without also getting new sheets, comforter/quilt, pillow, etc.  And I don't like to do things half way so when we get the new bed/bedding I would also prefer to decorate and complete the entire room.  Who wants a room that's only half complete?

Of course, me being me and being a plan ahead kind of person, I choose a color scheme for Addyson's big girl room a few months ago.  And like with Cooper's aqua and orange theme, I couldn't just go with something common and typical.  I had to make things difficult for myself again.  I choose turquoise and bubblegum pink.  Not too far out there, but not something that is gracing the shelves and displays of any and every store in town.

So as usual I took to the internet to look for ideas and inspiration.  Still not a lot to work with!  Thank heavens for Pinterest!  I was able to find a handful of photos and ideas there.  And Google is a life saver too.  I don't know how I ever survived without Google.  And blogs.  So many blogs.  

Now I have a color scheme to work with, but no money and limited ideas.  Should be interesting.  I was able to score a twin size comforter with a standard sham and a super cushy and cute floor cushion at Kohl's for only about $7.  Yes, I said $7.  They had select bedding sets on clearance for 70% off and I had a store credit that was burning a hole in my pocket, so I paid a whopping $7.  I was proud of myself for that deal.  And even better, the colors were exactly what I had envisioned!  Still smiling now.  

Of course, a new issue has come about since purchasing the amazingly inexpensive bedding.  I found a bed that I love and it is pink.  Adorable, girly and pink.  And affordable.  So what's the problem?  I'm not sure that the bedding is going to look quite right on the pink bed.  Problem is, the bed is an internet only item so I can't take the bedding to the store to see how they will look together.  Why do I get myself into these predicaments???  Super cute bed versus super cheap bedding.  Who wins???  Or can I pull it off using both the bed that I have my sights set on and the bedding that I mistakingly stumbled upon and scored for such a great deal?

This is the floor cushion from Kohl's and the bedding also features the same medallion print.

Pink headboard similar to the one that I am contemplating.

What do you think?  Will the aqua medallion bedding look too busy on the bubblegum pink bed?
Stay tuned as I plan and execute this turquoise and pink haven!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wednesday's Wish List

I took the week off again last week because I just had too much going on but I'm back with a new Wish List for this week!

I love this color scheme and zig zag print from the Missoni for Target collection.  Too bad it sold out only hours after being launched!

Another goodie from Target - this upholstered ottoman will fit with any color scheme/decor type and the top is removable with storage inside - great for hiding toys!

This beautiful fashion print from Laura Trevey is on my "Want List" for Addyson's big girl room that we are starting soon!  There are actually 4 coordinating prints that are on my list:)

I'm drooling over these wool wedge heels from Bettye Muller!  With a price tag of $235 I think I'll be drooling for awhile, like forever.

Can you tell I'm ready for Fall with my wool finds?  I adore this Walker Park Tate handbag from Kate Spade.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Back to School Fun

I've been slacking on the blog writing lately but that doesn't mean that I don't have anything to share.  It just means that I am a busy momma with 2 of my 3 kids back in school - different schools this year, which makes it even more difficult to juggle schedules - and 1 little guy by my side at all times.  Not a lot of time to get (and keep) the creative juices flowing or to sit down at the computer and type my thoughts.

So school is back in session and for the first time this year I got really into it and did some fun and crafty things to make this time of year extra special.  I've mentioned before that I love a reason (any reason) to have a party or decorate or bake or just celebrate!  So why not do those things for Back to School?

My oldest started kindergarten this year so that got me feeling especially sentimental and really wanting to make great memories for my kids as they head off to school.  We always take the standard 1st day of school photos - new outfits, new backpacks, etc. but this year I wanted to do more.

Lucky for me there are tons of great Back to School ideas floating around out there!  So many that I wasn't able to do everything that I wanted to do.  Thank goodness we have many, many years of school ahead of us so I will have plenty of opportunities to use all of these ideas.

Here's a peek of some of the Back to School cuteness that I found on various blogs and other sites:

I made a few of these pencil vases (super easy) for a Welcome Back breakfast at our preschool but I skipped the homemade Oreo apple pops and used real flowers instead.  Great idea from Shindig Parties To Go.

I never got around to making these but it's such a cute and simple way to make plain old cupcakes part of the Back to School theme!  Hershey's candy bars are used for chalkboards and red M&M's make the apple!  Photo from Amazing Moms.

Love these printable signs to use as photo props for 1st Day pictures!  Free from  I Heart Naptime!

We made these pencil treats for Rylee's friends before they headed off to Kindergarten and they were a hit!  Rolo candies and a Hershey's kiss make a cute pencil.  From The Blackberry Vine.

Amazing faux dessert table - all of the items are actually school supplies and are not edible but what a fun idea!  From the always amazing Amy Atlas.

And Back to School time is officially in high gear!  I hope that your little ones are enjoying the start of an amazing school year!