Category Archives: How To

Josh & Caity’s Coed Bridal Shower

My stepmom, sister, and I recently threw my brother and his fiancée a coed bridal shower. We decided to do a fun backyard shin-dig to take advantage of the pool in the hot summer weather.

Unfortunately, mother nature decided to throw some serious thunderstorms our way 15 minutes before the shower started (and then a couple more times during the party), but we still managed to end up with good food, good company, and a good time!

We went with a red, white, and turquoise country theme and carried it throughout the entire event, from the blue mason jars to the gingham ribbon.

For favors, we baked s’mores brownies right into small jars and tied on a thank you tag, which was perfect considering it was National S’mores Day.

To make the favors, mix together melted butter and graham cracker crumbs; press the mixture into the bottom of each jar. Mix together a box of brownie mix and pour evenly into each jar. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, according to the oven temperature listed on the box of brownie mix. Top each brownie jar with 8-10 mini marshmallows and bake another 3-4 minutes or until the marshmallows are melted and slightly browned on the top. Allow to cool before topping each jar with a lid.

For the food, we made hamburger sliders and bratwurst with gourmet toppings that ranged from onions sautéed in red wine to peperoncini sauce. To go along with the main dish, we served a variety of different salads, including fruit salad, edamame orzo salad, and roasted corn and black bean salad. Because of the heat, we kept the salads on ice in a couple of galvanized tubs—not as cute, but we thought it was best to put food safety first!

To go along with the s’mores brownies, we did individual banana pudding cups for dessert. Unfortunately, I was apparently too busy eating mine to actually take a picture. I blame pregnancy—I cannot be held accountable when there’s sugar around!

Despite the rain, I think the shower turned out really nice, and my brother and his fiancée really appreciated all the effort that went into the party. The kids even made it into the pool for a bit between storms—all in all, a success!


Teacher Appreciation Gifts

I originally posted this last year, but since I know so many parents are starting to think about those end-of-year gifts, I thought it was a good time to re-post. Cheers!

It’s that time of year again when children’s eyes glaze over in class, teachers are fervently counting down to the last day of school, and parents are scrambling to throw together cute teacher gifts. Since my mom is a teacher, I know just how much those little tokens are truly appreciated. To help out those of you who are currently racking your brains for brilliant ideas, I’ve pulled together some of my favorite gifts that I’ve put into my “when Olivia is in school” file.

Apple Cupcakes
From make and takes
Slap on some red frosting, a green gumdrop leaf and a pretzel stem, and you’re good to go!

Summer Tote Bag
From The Lovely Cupboard
Help your child’s teacher really relax this summer with a tote bag full of fun magazines, a beach towel, sunglasses, flip flops. . . all the necessities for soaking up rays at the pool or beach!

Bucket of Hugs
From Little Pumpkin Grace
Pick up some cute containers in the Dollar Spot at Target, fill them with Hershey’s Hugs, and attach cute little tags. Done and Done!

Potted Plant
From Giggles Galore
A cute idea, with or without the additional gift card. If you don’t want to bother with the hand painted ruler, you can just spray paint the entire pot with chalkboard paint.

Strawberry Pickin’
From eighteen25
I LOVE this because it’s just so stinking adorable. Fill a strawberry crate with assorted strawberry goodies (soaps, candies, candles, fresh strawberries) and add the little sign. Perfect for summer!

Thirst for Knowledge
From Tatertots & Jello
You can find these plastic straw cups for pretty cheap at TJ Maxx and Marshalls. Have your child write a personal note to his or her teacher and put the note along with a gift card to Tropical Smoothie, Jamba Juice, etc. inside. You could even include some of those single serving lemonade packets.

Wise Owl
From Lisa Storms
This is definitely for the crafty mama. Fill this little owl bag with homemade cookies, candies, whatever you want. So sweet!

Apple Rice Krispie Treats
From Gourmet Mom On the Go
Use a package of Jell-O for coloring, Tootsie Roll Minis for stems, and a #68 icing tip (or other leaf tip) for the leaves. Package these four to a box and tie with green ribbon or yarn!


Throw a Kid-Friendly Super Bowl Party

Sure, they might pass out by halftime, but your kids can still get in on the fun during the Super Bowl. Having plenty of kid-friendly snacks, fun football-themed activities for the little ones, and festive desserts will ensure a house full of happy fans (unless your team loses—in which case, good luck!).

Kid-Friendly Snacks

Keep it simple (and healthy) with lightened up versions of your favorite game day foods.

Healthy Seven-Layer Dip from FitSugar
Buffalo Cauliflower from yours truly
Pigs in a Blanket from Food Network
Cajun Crab Dip  from yours truly
Pizza Pretzel Bites from Two Peas and Their Pod
Roasted Garlic Hummus from Annie’s Eats
Turkey Sliders from Martha Stewart
Chili from Cooking Light

Game Time Activities

Chances are, little ones aren’t going to sit through an entire football game. Be prepared with these fun ideas!

Make Your Own Jersey: Buy a bunch of cheap tees, puffy paint, glitter, etc. and set up a table for the kids to decorate their own “jerseys.”

Football Word Search (Free download!)

Decorate the House: Put the kids to work decorating the house for the big game by letting them make footballs out of construction paper. They can even string them together using a hole punch and yarn to make a garland.

Commercial Bingo: Get the kids in on a game of Super Bowl Commercial Bingo! You can download the cards here, and have fun prizes for the winners.

Winning Desserts

Football Rice Krispie Treats from Rice Krispies
Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry Footballs from Domestic Fits
S’mores Cupcakes from yours truly
Healthy Whoopie Pies from Parenting (you can even roll these in sprinkles to match your team’s colors)
Mini Peanut Butter Brownies from Babble

 


Gifted Goodies

I spent most of my Sunday this past weekend baking—as in eight straight hours. When the flour dust cleared, I had 12 mini loaves and one regular loaf of pumpkin bread and 153 cookies. And a two year old on a wicked sugar high. And maybe an extra pound or two. But it was all for a great cause.

Those loaves and cookies went to four awesome coworkers, one great boss, four incredible daycare providers. . . and a partridge in a pear tree! And I even had enough cookies to contribute to my marketing department holiday lunch and pumpkin bread to freeze for Christmas. Talk about time well spent!

Being the creative marketer that I am, you know I had fun with the packaging. I made small tags that I printed on card stock and used tissue paper and yarn to wrap up the loaves of bread. I saw a tip on Pinterest that said to iron tissue paper between two sheets of wax paper to make it suitable for wrapping baked goods. Even after following that step, I was a little nervous the bread would seep through, so I wrapped each loaf in parchment paper before wrapping in the tissue paper. I added a personalized tag to each before tying it up.

Have you made any gifted goodies for the holidays? I would love to see how you packaged them up!


How to Apply a Window Film {aka How to Not Flash Your Neighbors}

When we were remodeling our master bathroom, I wanted to do a window treatment that would allow us to take advantage of the natural light while not giving the neighbors a show. We decided to try a privacy film on the window, which gives the glass a frosted appearance so light comes in but creepy peepers stay out.

Surprisingly (or at least I was surprised), it worked great! My husband and I each took turns walking behind our house at night to see if anything was visible through the window. Other than being able to tell that someone was in the room (in the form of a fuzzy silhouette), you couldn’t see a thing!

While I would recommend having a second set of hands to help with the application, the whole process is really quite easy. We used the Gila Privacy Control Window Film in a Simulated Etched Glass finish, but there are multiple brands and finishes to choose from.

Start by cleaning the window thoroughly, making sure to get into the corners.

Measure the size of your window and cut the film, adding an extra inch to each side. If your window is like ours, you’ll need to measure the top and bottom and cut two separate pieces of film.

Using two small pieces of tape (one on each side of film), identify the clear liner. Your window film kit should come with a spray solution: use it to generously wet the window. Get someone to hold the film and, as you pull off the clear liner, spray the newly exposed side of the film. Apply the wet film, adhesive side down, to the window.

Smooth the film with your hands, and spray the side of the film facing you with the solution. Squeegee the center of the film from top to bottom. Go back to the top of the window and squeegee from the center to the right, working downward. Do the entire right side of the window and then repeat on the left side.

Use the edging tool and a utility knife to press down the edges and trim off the excess film on all four sides. 

Spray the film again with the solution and squeegee dry, again working from the top to the right and downward. Repeat on the left side. This is the point that you want to make sure you’re getting out any air bubbles behind the film. Also, use the edging tool to really push the film down in the corners. 

If your window is split (like ours), repeat the entire process on the other half.

Aaaannnnndd. . . you’re done!


“Fun” with Watercolors

Have you ever gone to a museum and looked at a painting and thought, What’s so special about that? I could do that in about 10 seconds! Turns out, that shit is harder than it looks.

I recently put up some new shelves in our dining room, and because I was too cheap to go to Crate and Barrel and too picky to go to HomeGoods, I decided, naturally, that I should channel my inner Picasso and get to work.

After three different types of paint, two hours, and a LOT of “rough drafts” which are far too embarrassing for me to post publicly, I somehow managed to pull off this jellyfish (that, for some unknown reason, I have been calling an octopus since I painted it).

In the end, watercolors won, and I have to admit that I am damn proud of myself. I mean, I don’t think it’s ever going to hang in some museum, but I deemed it decent enough for my dining room.

If you’re new to using watercolors, I would recommend trying a jellyfish because it’s pretty freaking hard to screw up.


Wedding Inspiration & Planning Resources

I realize this post isn’t about moms or kiddos, but I imagine there are plenty of other moms out there who, like me, are providing wedding advice or planning help to friends and family.

My younger brother recently popped the question to his girlfriend (now my future sis-in-law!), and they have tapped me for wedding advice and planning know-how. It may have been five years ago, but I clearly remember that overwhelming feeling that hit me shortly after I got engaged, when I realized just how much work goes into planning a wedding. It’s almost a full-time job.

Sure, it’s fun to go dress shopping, decide on colors, etc., but it’s also super stressful—so. many. decisions. And if you decide to DIY the heck out of your wedding like I did, well honey, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

To help out my favorite new bride-to-be, Caity, and all other brides/planners out there, I’ve compiled a list of helpful and inspirational websites to help you make some of those important decisions.

1. Snippet and Ink—Beautiful photos and inspiration, with some great DIY ideas!

2. Style Me Pretty—So. many. pictures.

3. Weddingbee—All kinds of info and even an online shop.

4. Hostess with the Mostess—Great “real wedding” inspiration.

5. The Party Dress—I love this blog for kids’ birthday ideas, but they have a fabulous wedding section as well.

6. Rustic Wedding Chic—Caity, I think this blog was made for you!

7. The Knot—The Godfather of wedding sites. A little bit of everything.

8. Pinterest—Pin, repin, and go nuts! Create a wedding board and start searching for inspiration.

9. Ruffled—Great professional photo ideas and nontraditional details!

10. Oh So Beautiful Paper—Amazing invitation ideas and photos. Really great if you’re doing your own invites.

11. 100 Layer Cake—Stunning photography, unique touches.

Happy planning!

Photos: Courtesy yours truly, by Daniel Min Photography


How to Get Rid of Corner Protectors (No Drywall Required!)

When we bought our house four years ago, every single corner on the first floor had a faux wood corner protector. This is the only picture I could find that shows them. It’s not great, but you get the gist.

We didn’t think it would be an issue to take them off—until we discovered that there was nothing but metal underneath. What we thought would be a simple touch-up paint job turned into a somewhat pricey drywall project. We took care of half of the corners when we knocked out one of the walls, but we still had two entryways that had them. We painted them to match the wall color, which helped, but we still couldn’t wait to get rid of them.

Fast forward to this spring, and we finally got around to doing something about the ugly corner protectors. We didn’t feel like dealing with everything that a drywall project entails, so my oh-so-smart husband got creative. Using three 1×6 planks of finished-grade wood and some decorative molding, he built a new entryway that completely covered the nasty metal corners that were left after we yanked off the corner protectors.

If you’re looking for a quick, easy, and relatively cheap way to get rid of corner protectors, or you just want to dress up your entryway, this little DIY project can be done in a weekend. Simply measure and cut the planks so that they essentially box in the existing entryway. Cover the facade with the molding (if you’ve never hung molding before, you’ll need a mitre saw to get the angles right). Use wood filler and caulking to fill in any nail holes and gaps, and then paint with a couple coats of gloss paint. Voilà! A brand new entryway with all the character of original architecture!

 


Kellan’s Dr. Seuss Birthday Party!

A Dr. Seuss theme is great for birthday parties and baby showers because it’s gender neutral, colorful, and provides tons of inspiration and creativity for food, drinks, and decor! Kellan celebrated his first birthday in true Seuss fashion, right down to his birthday outfit. All photos are courtesy of Kellan’s proud mama and party planner, Sarah.

The plates, napkins, hats, etc. were ordered from Birthday Express. . .

 . . .as was the personalized banner!

For snacks, Sarah got creative, making Cat Hats (strawberry and marshmallow skewers), Green Eggs and Ham, Seussville Sticks (besprinkled chocolate dipped pretzels), Yertle’s Turtle Shells (chocolate dipped Pringles), One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (Goldfish crackers), and Horton’s Spirals. The water bottle labels were ordered from Etsy.

The birthday boy sported a Dr. Seuss onesie from Etsy shop Antsy Pants and enjoyed a Cat in the Hat smash cake made by mom.

Sarah used blue cotton candy atop her Thing 1 and Thing 2 cupcakes, and a friend made the adorable birthday cake.

Thanks so much, Sarah, for sharing Kellan’s adorable birthday party!


Valentine’s Day Crafts for Kids

My friend Stephanie is probably one of the craftiest people I know (in a creative way, not a devious way!). She whipped up this adorable felt heart garland one weekend to decorate her cube at work and since the tops of our work spaces are glass and I sit directly across from her, I get to benefit from it as well.

 

 

 

 

 

It made me think what a fun activity this would be to do with the little one—when she’s a little older and can sit still for more than 28 seconds, of course! But if your little one(s) are static enough to tackle this project now, you can find the  tutorial here. Here are some other fun Valentine’s Day crafts I have pulled together to do with your kids.

Teach Mama, another DC blogger, had her children create a love tree, which is not only sweet but allows for lots of practice with fine motor skills. I love this idea and can’t wait to make one with my daughter when she’s a bit older!

Via TeachMama.com

For easy valentines, get paint color strips from your local hardware store in varying shades of red and pink, and use rubber stamps to spell out messages like “XOX” and “I♥U” in black ink. Honestly, I think this idea is more for my designer friends than for my daughter, but it was too cute not to include!

Via Country Living

For Valentine’s Day crafts that my one-year-old and I can do together now,  heart stamps seem to be the way to go. You just need some paint, paper and a little creativity.  Rust & Sunshine used a toilet paper roll to create a perfect heart stamp for her artsy toddler, and Homemade Serenity helped her kids get creative with a celery heart to make rosy valentines!

Via Homemade Serenity

Via Rust & Sunshine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you come across or done other fun Valentine’s Day craft projects with your kids? Please share—I would love some other ideas!