31 October 2011

getting ready to trick or treat!

i love halloween. i love dressing up, i love being crafty and i love getting bags of candy for free. i have dressed up for probably 17 out of the last 20 years. i don't like to do the obvious "sexy" thing (why do girls always use halloween as an excuse to look super slutty?) and i prefer to make my own costume. a lot of the store bought stuff just doesn't fit me (at just about 5 feet tall i would have to buy an xl youth size) and it is usually just cheesy looking.

here are some of my favorite costumes that i've made:

madonna ("like a virgin" era)

 i found most of these items at a thrift store or at random stores in the mall (macys, claires). after i found the white lace bustier, which was key, everything else just came together... white lace gloves with the fingers cut off, white thigh-highs cut to capri-length, white kitten heels, white socks, a white slip cut short, a white garter belt, tulle, misc bangles, white belts, red lipstick and black eyeliner. the "boy toy" belt buckle was made out of cardboard which i just drew on with black & silver markers and glued to one of the white belts.

wonder woman & superman

my husband wore a store-bought superman costume but we added the superman curl.

for wonder woman, most of the items came from a craft store or department store. i found a white bustier, which i dyed red, white "granny" undies, which i dyed blue with white hand-cut stars glued on, a red and gold cape, panty hose, a 70's feathered wig, gold rope and a fairly stiff gold fabric for the accessories and embellishments. for the boots i used red socks stretched over knee-high boots (with holes cut out for the heels), accented with white electrical tape.

rocky balboa (& adrian)

i couldn't find any pictures of me dressed like adrian. i basically just wore really plain clothes, a wig, and cat-eye glasses. everyone was asking me who i was all night. i would just tell them to look at my husband and then they'd know. 
i used a red bathrobe with fabric glued to the edges and back, boots (found at a thift store) spray-painted red with fringe glued on, mesh shorts, a championship belt made out of cardboard, fabric and ribbon, a black wig, putty make-up and lots of fake blood, boxing gloves (borrowed) and first aid tape.

dr evil and a fembot

dr. evil was a store-bought costume but i had to do the make-up, bald cap and scar.  he also added his college class ring on his pinkie (it's all about details)...

for the fem-bot i used a white nightgown dyed pink, pink boas sewn to the top & bottom, light pink gloves and blond wig (which i attempted to make into a bouffant 'do) accented with pink feathers. the shoes (not shown - darn) were white strappy sandals with pink boa feathers glued to them. my favorite part was the metal funnels i glued to the top under the feathers for the "machine-gun jubblies".

dr. octopus

my husband was spiderman (not shown) in a store-bought costume.

as dr. octopus i wore black pants, a black button-down shirt, a black wig and black sunglasses. the coat was a white lab coat from a costume shop (which probably said something obnoxious like gynecologist or something), which i dyed gray. the arms are aluminum tubes from home depot, with ends cut and bent out. i cut holes in the coat and fed them through which held them in place.

hot dog, ketchup & mustard

for my daughter's second halloween, i let my husband decide what she should be. he picked a hot dog and wanted us to be the ketchup & mustard. she was 15 months old at the time and i think the combination of being uncomfortable in her costume (an infant size with leg holes cut out) and being scared of everyone else dressed up just made her miserable. this was taken during the 3 minutes she actually had her costume on.

i know my husband wanted us to wear those pre-made and totally ridiculous full body ketchup & mustard costumes. no way was i spending the money on those! i went more subtle. i found pictures of the labels online, resized them, printed them on iron-on transfer paper and put them on red and yellow long sleeve t-shirts.

don't you love the face my hubby is making? this is the nicest one i got...

this year we have a toy story theme. my daughter is being jesse, my husband is being woody and i'm being buzz. i will be sure to take pictures and post them soon...

happy trick-or-treating!

09 October 2011

where the heck have i been...?

yesterday, while my daughter was sleeping, i wrote a draft of a post about what i've been doing since the beginning of august. i never finished it (it was taking too long to write so i had to stop and clean up, eat, get ready and go to work). basically it was just a quick (ha!) summary of how my 1st floor condo flooded, i took my daughter to martha's vineyard (where i grew up) for almost a week by myself (hubby had to work), while the president was visiting (i am a very patient person), and how we're still putting the house back together after the stupid flood. yes, all very boring stuff (with lots of parentheses)...

then i found out that steve jobs died. (incidentally, my boss showed me the news on his iphone). i came home from work and was up super late scouring the internet for every article/video/twitter mention/quote i could find about him, rediscovering how brilliant he really was. now, i'm not just getting on the steve jobs/apple bandwagon just because he died - i really am genuinely bummed out that he is gone. the world has lost such an important person in design and technology. it would be odd for me not to show my appreciation and respect to someone who has had a role in creating so many things that i use on a daily basis, things that have shaped me as a person and things that have inspired me immensely. here are a few things that totally changed my life:

the mac LC-ii
OK, i'm dating myself but, i'll never forget in junior high when the computer lab at my elementary school got an LC-ii in color! how cool was super paint now! no more filling circles and squares with boring black and white bricks! yay!

toy story was funny and clever and like nothing else of it's time. it still makes me laugh. i watched the the pixar story (on starz, i think...?). that is what work should be like! it's really amazing to see the research and playing and experimenting that goes into creating even the smallest detail in a movie (like, how does something look underwater? how does something look when you're the size of an ant? how should fur move?).

itunes/ my ipod
i LOVE music and listen to it constantly. the first ipod i got was for christmas in 2005 (5th generation, 60gb, color with video). it was pretty pricey at the time at $400 but soooooo worth it since i still use it to this day. my hundreds and hundreds of CDs are all safe in storage while my 4500 + songs are all stored neatly on my computer. creating mix CDs (my specialty, love to give these as gifts) are super easy in itunes. i'm a playlist master and i've been the DJ at countless wedding showers, rehearsal dinners, wedding after-parties, etc. i may be one of the few people that will still venture out to an actual music store to buy an actual CD on the release date for certain artists. but, that itunes store is perfect for that guilty pleasure music. i mean, sometimes you just want that one britney spears song and don't want to buy the whole album, right?

i'm a mac
i'm a PC
before starting my own business, i attempted to pursue a career in advertising. it only got as far as sending out a bunch of lame resumes to companies that never gave me a second glance and i had a couple of meetings with a partner at an actual advertising firm, who was nice enough to give me advice on how to build a portfolio and then suggested i apply for an unpaid internship. i was pretty naive in thinking that my passion and eye for design and my interest in clever print ads, commercial, slogans and cool packaging would get me into SUPER competitive advertising world. without any experience. or a degree in advertising (or even a single class!). i thought that someone would just give me a chance. ha! i realized that it was pretty unrealistic for me to start a career from scratch in my late 20's, knowing that i would only have a couple of years to devote 60 hours a week to it before i would want to start a family and be home. plus, i couldn't really afford to do an unpaid internship. anyway, where am i going with this? my point is, i love advertising. i almost pursued it as a career. i still love a good ad or clever commercial. i won't fast forward my DVR during any commercial for an apple product. i've watched ads on the apple website, just to make sure i haven't missed the new "i'm a mac, i'm a PC". i saved the box from my first mac laptop for YEARS, just because the packaging was so cool, i couldn't bring myself to part with it. apple has always been the gold standard in marketing and advertising.

my iphone
i can be pretty suborn about technology and i don't really need a lot of bells and whistles. my husband is the opposite. he had to have the first iphone as soon as it came out. then upgraded to the iphone 4 as soon as that one came out. the last car we bought was one with a build-in DVD player in the back... he kept raving about the iphone and kept telling me to get one, but i resisted. i have a phone to make phone calls, i have an ipod to play music. i don't need anything fancy that does both! i finally gave in when i realized that having access to e-mail while i was out of the house with my 6 month old baby would be a HUGE time saver. plus, all those stupid apps that i used to make fun of are actually super helpful. GPS, google, itunes, i can take photos or videos and e-mail them right to my family. i don't know how i lived without it for so long! of course, i got the iphone 3 like 2 months before the iphone 4 came out (WTF?!) but that means i can totally upgrade to the 4S...

and lastly...
i'm obsessed with fonts and lettering and calligraphy. that's why i love creating invitations so much. i just love playing around with typefaces and hand-lettering and layouts. i was watching steve jobs giving the princeton commencement speech in 2005 (youtube video here). i didn't realized that he took a calligraphy class in college (after he dropped out, he "dropped in" to classes for fun) and what he learned there sparked his interest and fascination with typography and it carried over into designing the first mac computers that had multiple typefaces. no wonder i'm a mac girl! if you haven't watch his commencement speech, watch it immediately. seriously...

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary..." - Steve Jobs

07 August 2011

a polka dot 2nd birthday party

my daughter is officially 2! she had a wonderful birthday weekend... her actual birthday was on a friday. my husband took the day off and we planned a day around a visit to southwick's zoo in mendon, ma. she LOVES animals so i thought this would be perfect. my husband did some research and picked this particular zoo because it also has rides. of course, after we got there and bought $20 worth of tickets, we realized our daughter was a little small for pretty much all of the rides - most of them had a height requirement (she's very petite) and didn't allow parents to ride with them. so, she was able to do the pony ride, we all went on a train ride "safari" and then we gave the rest of our tickets away to a random family on the way out.

look, a monkey!

her birthday party was on a saturday. here were the details...

the indoor playground in watertown, ma. our family lives in a small 2-bedroom condo and we didn't want to impose on our in-law's again (we had her 1st birthday there and they are gracious hosts and have the best yard for a BBQ) or worry about the weather for an outdoor party so the indoor playground was perfect. it's 5 minutes away from our house, has a MILLION toys for all ages (including a bouncy house), it's pretty affordable (with several ad-on options like face-painting or having a character, etc...) and they allow you to bring in whatever you want for outside food (of course we ordered pizzas and calzones from the italian restaurant i work at). 

last year it was a sock monkey theme. this year, i kept it simple - i just chose a color palette and based everything around that. i chose my current color obsession - navy blue (just take a peek in my closet) and to make it more girly, paired with hot pink. then, since it's me, LOTS of polka dots...

after it rained for weeks and weeks (it felt like!), the sun finally came out. so i put luciana in a hot pink dress and took her outside for a photo shoot. there were so many great shots that i had to make the invite 2-sided!



i knew i wanted the birthday girl to be comfortable and i knew i wanted her to wear a shirt with a 2 on it. i just happened to go into carters and for the first time ever, found exactly what i was looking for. the perfect skirt - navy with hot pink polka dots. just like the invites! i swear, i didn't subconsciously see this before i did the invitation design...

i wasn't finding a shirt for her that i liked so i ended up making my own. i used a plain white t-shirt and printable iron-on transfer paper to add my design. (i LOVE iron-on transfer paper - stay tuned for a post just on that!). i even made one for my husband and me.


 you can kind of see the whole ensemble here. this is when she realized everyone was singing to HER...

also, this was the dress she wore on her actual birthday (from target) for her trip to the zoo.

i don't know how i found 2 outfits that were within the theme (and again, matched her invites!) but i really lucked out!

i guess the end of july is the height of school supply shopping season so i decided on art supplies. everything was on sale! the sketchbooks were the splurge (at $2.20 each) but all of the other items included (package of crayons, watercolor paint, stickers) were $1.00 or less each. then i wrapped them in cellophane bags meant for wrapping baskets (from a local party supply store) and secured them using 2 1/2 inch round stickers i designed and printed (sticker sheets from paper source).


yeah, i caved and gave away candy too. in small, separate packages so parents could chose whether or not to take them.

the (cup)cake:
i was having a hard time deciding between a cake, cupcakes or cake pops (super trendy and super hard to make). so i left it up to my husband. he (very decisively) picked cupcakes. so, that's what we went with. 

i didn't want to make myself crazy with fondant, etc... so i just went simple - chocolate cake with chocolate frosting or fun-fetti cake with vanilla frosting, both with rainbow sprinkles (the itsy-bitsy ball ones, i forget what they're called). i did find cupcake wrappers in navy blue and hot pink with white polka dots - i couldn't resist. the stand is the 4-tier stacked dessert tower by wilton. for only $20 it was probably cheaper than making my own and cost the same as those flimsy, decorate-your-own, one-use paper ones. i had brought ribbon to decorate the edges (with double-sided tape so i could easily take it off), but i got to the party and had to set up the stand with the cupcakes as quickly as possible so i left it off. 

i created "happy birthday luciana" using 1 1/4 inch circle stickers (sheets also from paper source) and popsicle sticks (from any arts and craft or party supply store). i made a bunch with just the number 2 and stuck them on the cupcakes in the back.

we also had hoodsies (no ice cream scoops required - yay!). 

detail (notice how even the candles are coordinated!):

miscellaneous decor
i mixed and matched navy blue and hot pink plates and napkins.

i had bought sheets of 1 1/4 circle stickers in navy and hot pink and never used them for anything so i ended up decorating the plain cups i had purchased to make them polka dot!

the after party
the immediate family ended up back at my in-law's house for a BBQ. water toys were set up for the kids (kiddie pool, slip-n-slide, sprinkler) and the adults were able to relax a little while watching the kids play.

this is me with the birthday girl (pic taken by me):

this is us from her birthday party last year (photos from my SUPER talented cousin, alyssa):

it's crazy how the time just flies! before i know it, i'm going to be planning her 3rd birthday!

21 June 2011

father's day... pt. 2

this is what my husband woke up to on sunday morning...

waffles from scratch* (see recipe below, i use a hard-to-find traditional waffle iron, like my dad used when i was a kid, NOT a belgium waffle iron), warm syrup, iced coffee, fresh raspberries, the "good" china, cloth napkins... (not shown - the tv remote is on his chair).

we all had a nice breakfast together as a family. he opened his present - a HUGE bag of m & m's (a treat he likes to keep in the freezer to snack on at night). we try not to go crazy with the gift giving for every occasion - we've been together for so long and there are soooo many to celebrate (birthdays, anniversaries, christmas, valentine's day, mother's day, father's day, etc...).

now as much as i'm NOT daddy's little girl, that's exactly what our daughter is to my husband. he's mushy and spoils her and oh yeah, he doesn't ever want her to get married.

me: don't you want to walk her down the eisle?
him: no!
me: don't you want to dance with her at her wedding?
him: no!
me: don't you want grandkids? (ha! i've got him there!)
him: our son can have the kids... (yes, we only have one kid. no, i'm not pregnant. yes, we might end up with all daughters).

while i was pregnant, after i knew we were having a girl, we were watching "father of the bride". after a while he said: i don't like this movie.
me: what? why?
him: it's sad
me: why?
him: well, the daughter grows up and gets married
me: yeah, and?
him: she gets married and leaves her dad
me: i know, and?
him: i don't like that she leaves her dad

another time i was getting ready to go to work (i work a few nights a week at a restaurant) and he was asking me what movie he should watch with her that night...

him: i need to figure out a movie to watch tonight. like something good for a father to watch with his daughter.
me: sure, like "toy story" or something?
him: well, i was thinking like "sleeping with the enemy"
me: wait, what?
him: or "enough". you know, something that would make her never want to get married...

and you thought my toddler was a handful...

*waffles from scratch

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
confectioners' sugar and fresh fruit or maple syrup


in a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. in a separate bowl, combine egg yolks, milk and butter; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. in a small mixing bowl, beat egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form; gently fold into batter.

bake in a preheated waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions until golden brown. top with confectioners' sugar and fruit or serve with syrup.

20 June 2011

love and happiness...

my dad and me (1980-ish)

there are a billion reasons why i love my dad. here are 10: 

1. he is the best cook in the world
seriously. ask anyone who has ever eaten his food. he makes things from scratch (i.e. pizza dough, tacos without using the pre-made seasoning packets or hard shell kits, chicken stock...). he can time a meal perfectly so that everything is done at once. if he wants to make a turkey dinner on a random tuesday night or make hot dogs for a special occasion, he will. he's been a line cook (among many other jobs) in a restaurant, he's been in cookbooks (written recipes, was featured in photos, created "how to" illustrations, and in an upcoming cookbook even has a "with" credit next to the author).

2. he is talented
a cook (see above - also writes recipes, food stylist), an artist (paints, draws), a musician (piano/keyboard, clarinet), musical engineer (owns a recording studio), director at the high school's performing arts center, just to name a few. he is always learning something new and i always tell him it's just another thing to add to his resume.

3. he is humble
he's confident but not a jerk about it. he's excited and proud of his accomplishments and you can't help but be excited and proud too.

4. he is young at heart
people don't believe he's really 61 (i'm glad i have some of those genes). picture the above photo, shorten the hair and add a touch of gray, take away the mustache, turtleneck and jean jacket, add a flannel button-down over a t-shirt - that's pretty much what he looks like now. OK, maybe add 10 years. yes, in 30 years i think he's aged 10. he's a freak of nature!... besides looking young, in the past 3 years he got married, had a baby (yes, i have a younger brother who is 2 1/2), and started a new career.

5. he is really cool
he listens to all kinds of music from jazz to the beatles. from stevie wonder to outkast and radiohead... he was in a rock band with guys my age & was still doing gigs up until a few years ago. he totally fit right in. he likes cool movies, he likes cool things, he knows cool people, he has cool stories... yeah, he's just cool.

6. he is really funny
my husband has a big personality and is very outgoing and entertaining. my dad is more quiet. they get along great and like to make fun of each other. my husband was jokingly giving my dad a hard time, then my dad mooned him. my husband was speechless.

7. he is supportive
my husband called him to ask for his blessing before proposing to me. my dad said something like, what are you asking me for? it's up to echo... he doesn't judge. he has always encouraged whatever decisions i have made, even if he didn't agree. he offers advice but in the end, leaves it up to me.  

8. he likes simple
he has never had a dishwasher or microwave. he owns 1 suit (which he got married in). he'll buy 1 pair of shoes, 1 - 2 pairs of pants and 1 - 2 shirts and wear them until they fall apart. he still reads the newspaper. he's not on facebook or twitter (not because he doesn't know what they are but because he chooses not to). he doesn't have a smartphone or even text.

9. he saves things
mostly typical stuff from when i was a kid - drawings and other artwork, books i "published" in school, toys, photos... he has also saved wrapping paper, grocery lists and random notes...
10. we don't have a typical father/daughter relationship
we are incredibly close. i'm the oldest of his 5 kids and the only girl. we have a lot of similarities - our interests, our mannerisms, our calm and laid-back disposition. we talk on the phone a lot and have really long conversations. but we are so not mushy and i'm so not "daddy's little girl". at my wedding, we danced to a fast song - "love and happiness" by al green and it was perfect. 

happy father's day to my dad! (it was really hard to just limit myself to just 10)...

01 June 2011

the SHOES!

i can't believe my sister-in-law's wedding is in a week and a half! i wanted to show you just how much i love her...

these are the bridesmaids shoes...
sold out in pink, still available in black through www.macys.com

first of all, yes, they are fabulous! we're all wearing long metallic dark gray dresses so you'll just catch a glimpse of them peeking out the bottom as we walk and think of the cute pictures!

back in april, the bridesmaids dresses were ordered but we still didn't know what we were doing for shoes. then my sister-in-law bought these shoes to wear to her bridal shower. of course we all loved them but at the time they were $90. oh, too bad because we would totally wear them for the wedding. but $90 is just too much to spend on shoes. well, then they went on sale...

i don't know if you can tell from the picture but these adorable shoes have 4 inch heels. for those of you who know me, i am not really a heel person. in college i wore huge platform shoes (even while working at a busy restaurant for 8 hour shifts! ah, to be young). at the time i had a bit of a complex about my height (i'm just under 5 feet tall) so the taller the shoe the better. yeah, i got over that. now that i am chasing a 25-lb toddler, i alternate between flip-flops, sneakers, uggs, proper restaurant shoes (non-skid soles and all), flats and the occasional sandals or sling-backs with a very low heel.

i'm a little afraid of walking in 4 inch heels. in a long dress. outside. and did i mention we'll be on grass? oh, and there are 2 stairs involved?!

i wouldn't be strapping these to my feet for just anyone... yes, i will be practicing in them and yes, i look crazy tall in them (5-foot-4 woo-hoo!). i keep telling myself i just have to get down the aisle and back, stand for the ceremony, stand for the pictures and then i got these 3 1/2-inch platform flip-flops to change into from victoria's secret (in fuchsia) which are super comfortable:

wish me luck on those stairs!

23 May 2011

may 22, 2004

yesterday was my 7th wedding anniversary! my husband and i have actually been together since college (me a sophomore, him a junior) and took our time getting married so we've been together for a total of 13 years! i always like to include the grand total because i'm pretty proud of the fact that we've been together for so long.

in honor of our anniversary, i had this whole post written in my head where i showed pictures of all the things i made for the reception including the seating cards, the table numbers, mirrored stands for the centerpieces, the guest book, and also show the invitations. then i went into storage to get the wedding photos to scan in and... ok, i guess i haven't been in there in a while and i somehow forgot about the infant swings, carseats, strollers, bouncy seats and everything else our daughter outgrew that had to be put away. so onto plan b - i'm going to talk about my DRESS! awwww, look how cute (and young) we are:

finding a wedding dress was a daunting task. the first place i looked was at a pretty well known bridal salon in boston (sorry, not giving the name), where they basically asked for my budget, didn't find out what i was looking for, showed me 2 dresses, didn't help me get into them and were just plain rude. then, i tried david's bridal and was almost wooed, after trying on dresses that actually FIT me (well, besides needing a hem) and the price tags weren't so bad either. i was this close to buying this ivory dress with a lace top and a belt and the bottom was tulle and HUGE. it was a cinderella dress and sooooo not me. after my maid of honor showed me that dancing in that big dress would be nearly impossible, i decided to keep looking...

next i tried vows. it's an outlet so they sell the actual dresses that were used in bridal salons for customers to try on, at a discounted price. so i had my entourage, i tried on a million pretty dresses but it was getting down to the wire and i was feeling the pressure to get a dress ASAP. i ended up getting a dress that day. i found one i really liked and since it's all samples, there is only one and it can't be ordered, you have to just buy it. i didn't have that feeling of "i just knew it was the one!" but it was really pretty and what if i couldn't find anything better...? the dress i happened to pick had what looked like a stain on the front of it. all of the dresses are cleaned and pressed once you buy them and they assured me it would come out and most of the dresses come back looking brand new. i wasn't worried, i left excited that i found a dress!

then i got the call...

the dress was back from the cleaners and there was still some sort of stain on the front of the dress that didn't come out. did i want to come to the store and look at it? then i could decide if it wasn't noticeable and i wanted to keep the dress or i could get my money back.

i stopped by the store after work to see the dress and was pretty much convinced that the dress would be fine, how could it not be? but then i saw it, that ugly mark on the front of dress was still there and totally noticeable! ugh... i wandered around the store, in denial about the fact that i would have to go dress shopping. again. i kept telling myself that no one would notice that ugly mark on the front of my dress on my wedding day. maybe my bouquet would cover it up...? i was casually looking at the dresses in the store when i just happened to see it... halter top (love!), silver embroidery with beading, an a-line with a slight flare at the knee and more embroidery and beading at the bottom, simple but elegant... did i want to try it on? no way! i'm totally not wearing the right undergarments (literally wore black underwear that day), not to mention the fact that i was there alone. i can't try on wedding dresses alone! i finally got over myself and tried it on anyway. as soon as i had it on, i knew... it was the one! of course, i was still feeling neurotic about making the decision myself, even after the sales people were loving it on me and even another bride in the store and all her girls loved it too. i was frantically making calls and got in touch with my future mother-in-law... 

i know this sounds weird but i'm at the bridal salon and the dress i got has a stain that won't come out and i found this other dress that i know is the one and so perfect for me but i'm by myself and i really need a second opinion so can you come here please?! 

the weird thing is, that dress with the stain led me to my dream dress, which wasn't in the store when i went shopping the first time. that dress was meant for me and it was going to find me somehow!

08 May 2011

happy mother's day!

in honor of mother's day, here is my favorite picture of my mom & me...

i had a great day! after sleeping late, this is what i woke up to:

my husband made chocolate chip pancakes (with extra chocolate chips!), warm syrup, strawberries and coffee. he even used our good china and a cloth napkin! those pictures of my daughter were gifts for my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law that i hadn't wrapped yet. it was very sweet...

i hope all you moms had a great day too! xo

05 May 2011

busy, busy, busy...

what am i working on right now? seating cards and table numbers for an upcoming wedding, rehearsal dinner invitations for another upcoming wedding and menus for a local restaurant. so i am busy, busy, busy. new posts & pics coming soon but for now, back to work!

27 April 2011

a sock monkey 1st birthday

the weather is getting warmer and summer is almost here, so i thought i would show details of my daughter's 1st birthday party, from this past july...

first, a quick story... my husband and i call our daughter monkey. actually, the monkey reference originally started because of my mom. when i was born i had a thick head of jet black hair. so thick that my eyebrows and hairline were pretty much connected. according to my mom (as quoted from my baby book):

timi and randy also came to visit us in the hospital. they both said "she's beautiful". i thought to myself, are they kidding? she looks like a monkey!

thanks mom (she doesn't have a filter). after my husband heard that story, he started calling me monkey. then when i got pregnant, instead of saying "it" (before we knew it was a "her"), we would just say the monkey and it stuck! of course her room is filled with monkeys (blankets, stuffed animals, sheets, decorations, etc...) and of course when she turned 1 we just had to do some kind of monkey-themed party! this poor girl is going to hate monkeys when she's older!

the postcards i did for her invitations:

i set up my own photo shoot in her room, spreading out one of her curtains as a backdrop. i also gathered up assorted monkeys and arranged them in the bin on top of her toy chest. she wasn't walking at the time so i had to set up something for her to hold onto. i also had some cute ones of her in a white wooden rocking chair, holding some of the monkeys but i thought this set-up made her look like she was a more of a "big girl". i'm so happy i got some cute pictures of her in that party dress! i didn't feel as bad when she grew out of it...

for decorations, i wanted to keep it simple. i wasn't finding what i wanted so i purchased this adorable sock monkey clip art from cupcakecutiees on Etsy, got plain pink and red party hats and gift bags and made my own using printable sticker paper:

the birthday banner i made using the sock monkey clipart (i added the letters), printed on white card stock and cut into circles:

since most of the kids were 2 and under, i figured favor bags full of candy wouldn't work. i thought it would be fun (and would fit with the theme) to give parents kits to make sock monkeys at home. i found printable instructions here and included them with a pair of red-heeled socks (of course, my 7 year old nephew was a little disappointed to be getting a pair of socks instead of candy but lesson learned for next year - older kids need candy!):

my daughter wore a sock monkey onesie that i found on zazzle.com and my husband and i wore matching shirts (yes, we're big dorks). she ended up wearing her bathing suit for most of it anyway since it was a very hot july afternoon. this is me & the birthday girl:

the cake - my first attempt at fondant!

i know, it's a little goofy looking. i made this cake as well as a sheet cake with white frosting and pink and red fondant polka dots. i thought i was being clever (and budget friendly) when i just bought white fondant and then got red food coloring to make pink and red myself, since i only needed a little bit. if you decide to do this, make sure you have disposable gloves! that didn't occur to me until i was kneading the fondant to get the color mixed in properly and, in the process, dying my hands red.

the birthday girl seems to like it:

 i love kids covered in birthday cake (good thing she was in her bathing suit):

i have to figure out the theme for her 2nd birthday, which is right around the corner (i can't believe it!). of course, i'll keep you posted...

p.s. a big THANK YOU to my in-laws for letting us host the party at their house and use their big back yard!

26 April 2011

a shower for lauren & dave

my sister-in-law, lauren, is getting married in june. she is the older of my husband's 2 younger sisters. i've known her since she was 14 so the thought of her getting married is making me feel a little old! lauren really is like a little sister to me (especially since i have 4 brothers!) so i'm really trying my hardest to make whatever i'm involved in, really special.

her shower was quite an undertaking. there are 8 bridesmaids total but between us and my mother-in-law, we all did our share and pulled it off. of course, i did the invitations:

matching address label on the face of the envelope:

lauren and dave are having a june wedding, overlooking the beach. her color palette is very subtle - metallic dark gray and silver with a few light pink and hot pink accents. i thought the shower invitations were a great place to be a little less formal. i wanted them to be more fun. both their save the dates and wedding invitations featured a sand dollar so i kept that theme.

of course once i created the invitations, i had to make sure everything else matched.

instead of a guest book, we had cards for guests to leave advice for lauren and dave:


we also came up with trivia questions and i made those into a trivia game that was played while lauren and dave were opening gifts:

we collected all the trivia answers and i'm going to make them into a keepsake book.

for favors, we decided on starfish wine stoppers. we really wanted something the guests could actually use (as opposed to a cookie or candy or bubbles, although nothing against those ideas). they came already in boxes with white ribbon so we just had to add the favor tags. i punched holes in the tags and then cut slits next to the holes so they could be slipped onto the ribbon without having to untie and retie all those bows.

for my brides that are also friends, i usually do matching thank you notes as a gift. of course, since it was for my sister-in-law i did a little extra and also pre-addressed all of her thank you note envelopes (i credit that idea to my sister-in-law, julie, who addressed all my thank you note envelopes when i got married). since i made the invitations, i had the guest list anyway.

here are the matching thank you notes with return address labels (the sand dollar pattern continues on the back):

it really was a great day and i can't wait for the wedding!