28 July 2013

a grover-themed 3rd birthday party

right now i am in party planning mode. my youngest daughter, anabella, just turned 1 a couple weeks ago (yikes, i can't believe it!) and my older daughter, luciana, will be turning 4 tomorrow (again, yikes, i can't believe it!!). i'm happy that their birthdays are close enough together so that i can just do one combined party (for now, not sure how it's going to work when they're teenagers)...

this year luciana is all about princesses but last year her obsession was sesame street. more specifically, that little furry blue monster, grover. i was also hugely pregnant with anabella while i was planning so i was trying to not go too crazy with all the details.

i knew i wanted to plan an indoor party (i didn't want to worry about a possible rain date or 97-degree weather) so i researched a few indoor play areas and ended up picking the klubhouse in woburn, ma. what i liked about it was the fact that the parties are private (some indoor play areas are open to the public and you just get a private party room), you could order pizzas directly from them and they also had the option to add a dance room with strobe lights and music, which of course we had to add since luciana loves to dance. plus, they do all the set up and clean up.

it turns out that it is a huge challenge finding anything with grover on it. elmo? elmo is EVERYWHERE! even cookie monster and big bird seem to be pretty popular. but grover, not so much. which is fine since i like to create my own party accessories. i started messing around in illustrator and came up with a grover drawing, which became the graphic i used for everything. i found this fun typeface called KG strawberry limeade and of course i had to include polka dots. here are the invitations:

i always like to include photos on the back of birthday invitations. i have a lot of family members that live far away so i think it's nice for them to have photos to keep for their fridge.

i printed the grover graphic on iron-on transfer paper (i could do a whole series of blog posts about my love for iron-on transfer paper) and put it on the front of a plain white t-shirt for the birthday girl. she didn't sit still long enough for me to get a good picture.

here's the back detail:

my husband, 3-week old anabella, and i all had matching t-shirts with the grover graphic on them. anabella slept through most of the party.

i definitely could not have pulled off ANY of this with out my aunt (pseudo-mom, best friend, guardian angel, knight in shining armour) debbie. she printed out a ton of grover pictures for decoration. AND, she was in charge of the cupcakes....

i found grover cupcakes on pinterest and figured it was just wishful thinking. until debbie found a baker near her that could do them and do them RIGHT (grover has fur and oval eyes, it's really all about the details). these were done by lily-cakes debbie brought them back all the way from long island, new york! how awesome are these???!!!

i have gotten a ton of use out of this cupcake stand, a 4-tiered stacked cupcake and dessert tower from wilton. well worth the $20 i spent on it!

i wanted to keep the favors simple. i ordered dark blue m&m's, put them in cellophane bags and tied them with polka dot ribbon. i printed the grover faces on white 2.5 inch round labels from paper source.

i also printed labels for the back of the favors.

 i mean seriously, how great are these??!!

the birthday song, along with a decapitated, flaming grover, ended up being a little overwhelming for the birthday girl!

she felt better after hugs from mommy & a juice box. i can't believe i couldn't find the grover's white grape juice boxes made by apple & eve. i tried 3 different grocery stores before giving up. i did find them later, at whole foods. oh well...

after the kids party, we had a family bbq at my in-law's house. luciana decided to take a dip in her clothes and sneakers. i guess the rules don't apply to the guest of honor!

well, back to party planning. back to princesses. i will take lots of pictures and i will try and post the details before the girls' NEXT birthday party!

31 March 2013

easter baskets - thinking outside the box

i love easter. i mean, chocolate bunnies, cadbury cream eggs, warm spring air, flowers, festive dresses and cardigans, yummy food, spending time with family, seeing who can throw eggs the farthest off of the back deck of my in-laws' house (oh wait, that's just MY family's weird tradition?), jellybeans, easter egg hunts, cadbury cream eggs, cadbury cream eggs... now that i have 2 kids and i get to BE the easter bunny, i really love easter.

their baskets are actually pastel green tin buckets with chalkboard labels that i found for $7.99 each at home goods. i like the idea of using the same thing every year and i think it will be a fun tradition for the girls to leave their empty buckets out the night before with a note and a plate of carrots (wait, I'M the easter bunny. how about carrot cake...?)

here's what luciana (3 1/2 years old) got:

the majority of what i got was not in the seasonal aisle. she does have a bit of a sweet tooth so she had to get at least a small chocolate bunny and i also got some of those plastic eggs, which i filled with jelly beans and mini cream eggs and chocolates. the rest of the basket (bucket) is filled with things she needs that i know she likes.

top view
there is a fancy pink leotard for her to wear in ballet class. there are pajamas (elmo and minnie mouse) to replace some that she has grown out of. there are bert & ernie and abby cadabby toothbrushes, since she is obsessed with sesame street. she is currently potty training so i even included colorful undies tucked in the spaces as well as new yoga pants and sweatpants.

here is what anabella (8 months) got:

obviously, no chocolate bunny or jelly beans. she LOVES to eat though. so i included baby snacks - puffs, yogurt melts, oatmeal and a few jars of baby food. her older sister loves the muppets and has her own kermit the frog, miss piggy and fozzie bear stuffed animals. they are both really good about sharing but i wanted anabella to have one of her own. there are some onesies in the next size up, since i know she'll need them. plus, a sippy cup and pacifiers, since we needed more of the ones she really likes. that bee toy plays music and rolls around the floor. we don't have any toys like that already and i'm sure my crazy active girl will have a blast crawling after it and chasing it.

top view
i could probably give luciana a dozen pairs of cinderella socks and anabella a cardboard box and they would both be super excited. but i know not everyone's kids are as easy to please as mine. i guess i just can't bear the thought of last minute shopping down those crammed seasonal aisles, fighting over what's left of those junky toys that my kids will break or try to eat. i also think it's nice to make something ordinary (like new pajamas or a snack) into something a little more special.

how about you? do you fill your kids easter baskets with any unconventional things? what about in your own easter baskets as a kid?

14 February 2013

happy valentine's day!

my 3 year old daughter, luciana, came home from pre-school yesterday with a note from her teacher letting us know all the names of her classmates in case we wanted to do valentine’s day cards. yes, it was a little last minute but lucy had been home from school all week while our city was digging out from the 2+ feet of snow we got over the weekend. earlier today i had been out running errands and had a fleeting thought of, i wonder if i’m supposed to do cards or if they’re going to make them during school…? i don’t even know how many kids are in her class. i didn’t buy anything. lucky for me, i have a ton of card-making supplies on hand (it is my business, after all) and i love the personal touch of something homemade. plus, my mom had just sent us a package of valentine’s chocolates and fun accessories and stickers (phew). lucy looooooves stickers. of course, they don’t last very long before being stuck to everything in sight (though i try to enforce the rule of “stickers on paper or people only” so we’re not scraping them off of walls or furniture).

decorated by lucy
i found some blank cards (hot pink on one side, white on the other) and put lucy to work. i set up an assembly line and told her to add stickers to each one (we counted together to make sure each card had the same number of stickers). then i gave her pink and red markers and had her color whatever she wanted on each one. i just added the date, “happy valentine’s day” and “from lucy” (I also added classmates names after i took the photos). here’s what we ended up with:


front detail


she only had to make 6 but i still wanted to keep it simple so she didn’t lose interest before making them all (sorry half completed christmas ornaments at the bottom of my closet, the painting and the glitter and the glue was just too much! maybe next year). i love the fact that they’re all different. it was a fun afternoon activity to do together and she was so proud that she made them herself! i sent her on the bus with them in her backpack so i hope they make it to school without all the stickers peeled off and stuck to her shoes...


23 January 2013

a handwritten note for you...


* for more information about National Handwriting Day and its sponsor, the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association (WIMA), visit their website www.WIMA.com

* i apologize for any typos and/or spelling errors (no spellcheck!)

* i also apologize for anyone reading this on their cell - i hope it's legible!

* the ironic thing is that i wrote this in the morning and it took me until now to find the time to upload it to my computer and post!

07 January 2013

happy new year!

2012 was pretty eventful and now i'm looking forward to what 2013 will bring! i know i don't usually get into TOO many personal details here, but let me quickly bring you up to speed. so, this happened...

anabella gilda centofanti  ~  born 7/14/12  ~  8lbs, 13 oz  ~  21 inches

my laid-back and sweet older daughter (luciana) did nothing to prepare me for the arrival of this little firecracker of a baby girl. aside from her wreaking havoc on my petite self during the pregnancy (back pain pretty much from day 1, constantly thinking, "why do you have so many elbows?!", plus i gained 10 more pounds than i did the first time around), i had false labor pains for almost 4 weeks before my eventual induction, which was a week after my due date. did i mention she was almost 9 pounds?! she was the biggest baby in the nursery (by a LOT) and i'm the size of an average 6th grader so i was pretty shocked (my doctor was too).

my 3 1/2 year old was very content as a baby. she would just sit back and observe everything. she was a late roller, late crawler, late walker. she was just happy with whatever was within her reach (even if it was playing with her own feet). anabella is the exact opposite. 

my type-A husband wanted a junior and he got one - in anabella. she's very curious and motivated and gets bored easily. starting when she was only a few weeks old i noticed that she preferred to be out and about and she still doesn't like to be in the same place for too long. now she's 6 months old and she can move (roll), so she's constantly trying to explore and grab (and eat) EVERYTHING she sees. she's usually squealing and giggling and happy but then she can go from zero to screeching in an instant.

luciana is the gentle, nurturing, proud older sister. there is nothing better than watching them play together. 


so 2012 was spent focusing on my family and adjusting to life with 2 kids. i'm hoping in 2013 to also find some time for my business and this blog. i know i have to organize my time better (damn you facebook and pinterest!) and also let go of my need for perfection. especially here. i have so many posts i have started and abandoned because they weren't worded just right or i didn't have the perfectly edited photo to go with it. i really have to learn to let go. i'm sure my new camera from santa (canon EOS rebel T3i!!!!!) will come in handy and will make up for my lack of photoshop skills.

even though i haven't documented it here (yet), i have done lots of creative projects this year. stay tuned for posts about luciana's grover-themed birthday party, our halloween costumes, anabella's birth announcements, our christmas cards... well, don't want to give it all away now do i?

ok, one more pic of my girls. aren't they the cutest?

luciana really did fall asleep curled up on this chair, after i was done taking pictures for my christmas card. of course i had to take a few more pics before i moved her to her bed!