Monday, July 30, 2012

Designer Spotlight

Here I am again slapping my own hand for taking so much time in between "Designer Spotlight" posts.  The last one that I wrote was back in April - you can check it out here.  I got so wrapped up in planning Addyson's birthday party and then posting about it that I neglected the fashion side of things for awhile, but I'm back again with another "new" designer.

It's hard to focus on writing a post about fall clothing when the temperatures are reaching the high 90's and low 100's most days, but if you read this post from last week then you know that I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of fall and all of the glorious clothing and footwear options that it brings along.  Stirring the pot are various retailers and designers offering pre-orders (genius!) with the option to pay only a small deposit now and then pay the balance later when they actually ship the merchandise to you.  Sign me up!

If you know me at all you know that I care way more (probably too much) about my kids' wardrobes than I do my own, so most of these "Designer Spotlight" posts feature children's clothing.  Just this past spring I came across a company that was new to me and I'm so glad that I discovered this adorable brand!

Truthfully I can't remember (as with so many things that I find on the web) exactly how I came to find Swanky Baby Vintage but if I recall correctly I linked to their site through Facebook somehow.  Seems like all roads lead to Facebook and/or Pinterest these days.  Regardless of how I found this sweet little girls' line, I'm loving their clothing and so are my girls!  Check out their story here.

And here are some photos of their new Fall Collection called Prep School Swank!
P.S. - it's available for pre-order now:)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Oh FALL, Where For Art Thou?

So I realize that this post may make me seem a bit fickle since I just wrote this post  about longing for spring a mere 5 1/2 months ago, but it has been a brutal summer with record breaking high temperatures and severe drought conditions, so my desire for cooler temps and fall apparel is growing by the day.

Yes, I was complaining about heavy jackets and static (blah, blah, blah) and I was beyond ready to break out my sundresses and flip flops (which I still find a million times more comfortable that jeans and a static filled sweater) back in February, but now that I've practically worn holes in every sundress, skirt and tank top that I own I'm ready to move on to the next season.  Which hopefully will be a true fall with mild temperatures and a few months of crisp and cool days before winter comes blowing in.

It has been so hot this summer that even a tank top and shorts don't provide much comfort or reprieve from the heat.  I'm not even sure of the last time that I wore shoes other than flip flops because the heat causes my already chubby feet to swell to the point that they begin to spill out of any strappy sandals that I might attempt to wear nearly cuttting off the circulation to my lower appendages (namely my piggies).  And wearing some of my favorite jewelry like big, chunky rings isn't so fun either when said items end up stuck on my fingers.  For of you that don't know, I'm an accessories kind of girl all the way.  
Ring from Express
If I'm being honest though, there's more to my wanting the season to change than just the weather.  Yes, the heat is almost unbearable and it's hard to look good when the make-up is melting right off of my sweaty face, but there's more to the story.  Retailers and designers start sending out sneak peeks of their fall collections in early June (if not before), and many also offer pre-orders on these items.  Even Old Navy has jumped on the "pre-order bandwagon"!  My e-mail inbox and Facebook page have been flooded with fall previews and pre-order offers for well over a month now.  And even though it's 100+ degrees outside and it won't be cool enough to wear most of these items for at least 2 more months, I find myself having a strong desire to start placing orders.

Just looking at some of the clothing and boots makes me sweat right now but lately I find myself spending more and more of my "me time" sitting in front of the computer  looking at page after page of the new fall trends and must have items.

Here is the Pantone color palette for fall:

Very similar to the bright colors from this past spring but with tones that are a little deeper and more rich.  I think I love them all but my favorites are Honey Gold, Olympian Blue and Tangerine Tango.  I'm still intrigued by Pantone (apparently the "world-renowned authority on color") and the whole concept of having a Color of the Year (Tangerine Tango for 2012).  Click here for more info on Pantone's Color Report for Fall 2012.

Here are a few of the items on my "Must Have List" for fall:

"Smokestack" boots from Spool No. 72

The RockStar superskinny denim in Honeycomb from Old Navy

Essie nail polish in Mesmerized

Handbag from Express

And while I'm at it, here are a few things for the kids (because as you know I actually enjoy shopping for them even more than I do for myself).

Shirt, skirt and headband from Persnickety Clothing

Girls' Roxie shoe from Livie and Luca

Spade print long sleeve shirt from Fore!!Axel and Hudson

Boys' Rex shoe from Livie and Luca
How can you NOT want to shop for fall with all of this deliciousness out there??? Now here's to hoping that we actually get to experience fall before we have to cover this cuteness up with bulky winter coats and snow boots!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I have a confession to make.  This might not come as a surprise to those that know me well as I have been described as being anal, obsessive and overly organized just to name a few - but I am a compulsive list maker.  That's right, I can't stop making lists.

Right now I am sitting here at the desk and I am writing a list of new recipes that I would like to try (mostly from Pinterest), along with a grocery list and a list of books for the kids to check out the next time we go to the library.  That last one is totally random and unrelated to the other 2 lists, but it popped into my brain so I thought I better do it while I was thinking about it.  Oh, and I almost forgot - there is also a list of items that I am planning to sell on ebay and possible prices for each.

Yesterday I made a list of all of the items that I would like to purchase for the empty wall in our living room along with their prices and where to order them from.  The day before that was a list of clothing items that I want to order for the girls from some of my favorite online retailers.

I start so many lists each day that I usually forget to finish them all or end up losing at least one or two.  I have lists on post-it notes, in notebooks, on random pieces of paper and even some saved on the computer (which seems like the best option since those are less likely to be lost or thrown away).

As I was typing this I started making a mental list of future blog posts to write.  I haven't had much to say lately and I've also been lazy when it comes to typing my thoughts but I just got a few ideas while sitting here.  Add that to my list of lists.

So I'm off to complete my grocery list and maybe another one - unless I start a new one first!

Friday, July 6, 2012

The List Goes On {and on and on}...

I know that I'm not the only person out there feeling like their lists of projects go on and on and on, but with 3 kids ages 6 and under it feels as though I am constantly working on a project of some sort and my list truly seems to be never-ending.  If it's not a holiday then it's a birthday and if it's not a birthday then it's a home project and if it's not a home project then it's a school project - you get the point.  Right now I'm not even talking about daily lists like grocery shopping, errand running, laundry, cooking and cleaning.  I'm talking about BIG projects, or maybe "events" would be a more appropriate term.

Here's how our annual list plays out:
We just celebrated Addyson's Birthday and Father's Day (her party was on June 16th, the 17th was Father's Day and the 18th was her actual birthday) followed by the 4th of July (for which I to my own dismay did no decorating, but the kids still needed to be outfitted with red, white and blue apparel and there were parades to attend, fireworks to see, etc.).  On top of these holidays/celebrations we've squeezed in the usual summer activities - camps, classes, lessons, play dates and trips to visit both sets of grandparents.

Next up we'll have some Back to School fun with a few baking and crafting projects to get the kids excited for the new school year.  I only started making a big "to do" about the Back to School thing last year when Rylee started kindergarten, but it's the perfect time to create some keepsake items and make great memories.  It's also the end of summer and by then everyone has tired of sidewalk chalk, bubbles and playing in the sprinkler so this is a nice change of pace!

At some point later this summer or early in the fall we will be transitioning Cooper to a Big Boy Room and Rylee's room could also use a makeover/update, so I have been looking for ideas and making some mental plans for both of their rooms.  As it turns out we'll probably do both room makeovers at the same time because we are planning to take the bed from Rylee's room and use it in Cooper's room.  I'm not sure yet if this is a good or a bad thing.  Revamping 2 bedrooms at the same time is going to be a little overwhelming but at least they'll both be done and I won't have to worry about doing it again for quite some time.  We just updated Addyson's room a few months ago so once we get Cooper and Rylee set up all 3 kids will have "new" rooms that should last them for at least a few years.

By that time Halloween will be upon us so there's the costume choosing, candy buying and home decorating to do, and Matt's Birthday is on Halloween so we'll have to throw in some sort of celebration for him too.

From there we'll switch out the Halloween decor for Thanksgiving decor, but before we eat our feast we'll celebrate Cooper's Birthday earlier in November.  Of course, Christmas shopping will have begun at this point too.

As soon as all of the Fall/Thanksgiving decor comes down, the Christmas decor starts going up inside and out, and it stays up for about 3-4 weeks.  Then there's the hustle and bustle of shopping, gift wrapping, baking, cooking, etc. and the actual holiday itself.  I try to take down all of the Christmas decor in a timely manner after New Year's has passed because Rylee's Birthday is later in January and I have to prep for that.

After Rylee's birthday bash we do a little decorating and usually some baking for Valentine's Day and again for St. Patrick's Day.  Otherwise, February and March are "slow" months for us.

Then we take the month of April off (not really though because at that point I have started prepping for Addyson's birthday again) and in May we only have Mother's Day to contend with.

And now we're back to June and we start the month off with our Wedding Anniversary on the 4th and My Birthday on the 5th, then in the middle of the month comes Father's Day and Addyson's Birthday.

And the cycle starts again!

Thankfully updating the kids' bedrooms isn't an annual event, but I was sort of hoping that sometime over the next several months that maybe, just maybe Matt and I could actually do some updating and improving in our own bedroom along with a few other areas of the house.  Or maybe even plan and host a grown-up party (now that's an idea!).  I guess I'll just add those to my list!

I should add that I am in no way, shape or form complaining about this list.  I love every minute (almost every minute anyway) of this crazy, non-stop cycle that is my life and if I didn't have a never-ending list of projects/events to work on I would be bored to death.  It's just that I've never taken the time to think about these things in a "yearly" sort of way and when I did I realized that it truly is ~freakin~ Never Ending!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Addyson's Cinderella {Inspired} Birthday Party

I'm  not sure yet if I can squeeze all of the party details into one super long post or if I should break it up into multiple posts so bear with me on this one friends...

Rylee's birthday was all the waaaaaay back in January and shortly following her party Addyson approached me and said something along these lines - "Hey, when are you going to start working on my party?"  So we started working on her party right then and there.  She seemed to know without a doubt that she wanted to have a Cinderella party and over the next 6 months she never once changed her mind (which was a good thing for her!).

I'm not a big fan of character-themed anything - clothing, room decor, party supplies, etc. so I chose to go with a Cinderella inspired theme and tried to minimize the presence of the cartoon/animated princess.  Blue, white and silver were the obvious color choices and I tried to subtly incorporate symbols from the movie like glass slippers, wands and pumpkins into the decor.  I also used lots of tulle in various ways to keep it frilly and girly.  If you missed it I did a full post about my tulle-crazed projects.  You can read it here.

All right, so here we go!

Party Details:
Invitations/Party Printables-
I really didn't want anything that had an image of Cinderella on it but instead I was looking for something that featured one of the symbolic items from the movie that I mentioned above.  I had a difficult time finding any one shop or person that offered a complete package that wasn't covered with images of Cinderella so I ended up purchasing items from 2 separate Etsy shops.  The items from the shops weren't exact matches but they were close enough.  The invitations were just what I was looking for and I was able to purchase coordinating cupcake toppers and favor tags from the same shop.  You can check out the invitations and other items here.  The invitation shown features a photo of the birthday child but I choose not to use a photo on our invitation and the shop owner was very accommodating and easy to work with.
The birthday banner that was hung on our fireplace along with the folded sign cards (which I used as place cards at the kids' table) and the striped paper were purchased from this Etsy shop.   Again, the shop owner was very easy to work with and made a few minor adjustments for me.  Never be afraid to ask if you don't see exactly what you want!  I have found that most Etsy shop owners are very flexible and can customize just about anything to your liking.

In addition to decorating the inside of our house I also added a few small items outside to greet the guests.  On our front porch I created a small pumpkin patch using faux pumpkins from our stash of Halloween decor, a wand and some white tulle.  The door was adorned with a DIY tutu wreath.

Inside, the fireplace and built-in area adjacent to it were the main focal points.  I was so excited to discover that the built-in cabinetry is the perfect place for a dessert display and I definitely plan to utilize it when we have parties from now on! 
I pinned a cluster of balloons above the fireplace to add some height to the area, but mainly to hide the big hole in the wall where there apparently used to be a t.v.  On the mantle I placed chipboard letters that spelled the word "WISH" along with a wand, some tulle and glass jars filled with candy mallowcreme pumpkins (which are not easy to find in June!).  I finished off the fireplace area with the Happy Birthday banner.

For the dessert area I used a large piece of light blue satin fabric as a backdrop and sprinkled silver star confetti all around.  To elevate the cake and add some height I glued 3 shoe boxes together and placed them under the fabric.  I attempted to make my own cake stand by gluing candlesticks and trays together but the end result was a bit wobbly and I didn't want to risk a falling cake during the party so I opted not to use it (this was DIY project gone bad #1).  I was going for an elegant look here a la The Royal Ball so I used "silver" trays from the dollar store to display most of the desserts.  I also used fishing wire to hang wands above the dessert area and glued 3 white mini paper fans together to add more interest to the backdrop.

In addition to the cake, the dessert area featured glass slipper petit fours, cupcakes, sugar cookies and pretzel rods dipped in white candy melts and sprinkled with silver glitter sprinkles.  My 2nd DIY project gone bad was also a dessert table item - I made marshmallow pops dipped in blue candy melts but decided not to display them because most of them slid right down their sticks.  They still tasted good though!
I had several other ideas for dessert offerings - Hershey's kisses (perfect with their silver foil wrappers and blue and white paper flags!), star shaped marshmallows (a July 4th novelty food that would have fit right in with the theme), rice krispie treat "wands" and pumpkin shaped sugar cookies - but due to limited space and time (I made most of the desserts myself) I had to scale back a bit.

We had 2 tables set up for dining - one was our regular dining room table for the adults and the other was a large folding table where Addyson and her preschool friends sat.  At both tables I tied tulle bows around the chairs and sprinkled silver star confetti all around, and in the center of each table I placed a frame with a quote from the movie.  The kids' table had place cards with each girl's name and a "glass slipper" at their seat.

Thanks to a very special appearance by Cinderella (a family friend in a costume that I ordered online) I was able to keep the games and activities to a minimum, which also kept my stress level down.  Trying to entertain 4 year olds can be tricky but thankfully they were so mesmerized by Cinderella that they didn't seem to mind that there were only a few simple activities.  After Cinderella's surprise arrival the girls chatted with her for a bit and then we did temporary tattoos (Cinderella ones of course - one of the few items at the party that actually had Cinderella on it).  That was followed by a fun game of "Pin the Glass Slipper on the Pillow" (a homemade game that I whipped up myself using cardboard, polyfill, fabric and a glue gun since it's impossible to find a pin-the-anything-on-Cinderella game!).  Next the girls did the freeze dance with Cinderella to the song "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo" and then they all sat quietly and listened to the story of Cinderella on a Disney CD that I purchased at Target.

For dinner we served our usual chicken nugget tray from Chick-fil-a (always a big hit with the kids and easy for me!) along with a fruit bowl, veggie tray and chips/munchies.  We set up the food in a buffet style on our kitchen bar that was decorated very minimally with a silver table cover and silhouettes of Cinderella (which were not easy to trace and cut out!) strung across the front.  For dessert we served cake and cupcakes.  

Last but not least - party favors!  I had so much fun with this project.  I made tutu favor bags for the girls and inside each one was a Cinderella blow-out, silver wand, Cinderella stickers and a personalized "chore chart".  This website has tons of FREE stuff like coloring pages and other fun things that make great party favors and/or activities.  We also gave each guest a take-out style box to fill with sweets from the dessert area.

So far I think this party might be my favorite of all the ones that I have planned.  I loved all of the DIY projects from the tutu wreath to the favor bags to the desserts and everything in between.  With each party that I plan I become a little more detail oriented and continue to fine tune and tweak the process.  I'm by no means a professional but I sure do love party planning!  

I hope that in all of my crazy planning and self-inflicted stress that I am truly doing something that my kids will remember forever (and maybe even appreciate someday).  

So there you have it - one super long birthday party post!