asa, baby, Bjorn, britax marathon, CDATA, ergo baby carrier, few of my favorite things, Houston, Jesus, NY, seat, Summer Infant, time, time mommy, toddler car seat, Travel
A lot of my friends are pregnant right now. Some of them are going to be first-time mommy’s (Yay!) and some of them are on their 2nd or 3rd (or more!) So on Fridays I want to share a few of my favorite things (this week is dedicated to baby stuff)… here’s the list!
Ergo Baby Carrier. I didn’t actually find this until after Asa was one, but it is GREAT. It can hold babies up to 40 pounds or something crazy like that. I needed to have Asa on my person when we were taking a trip to NY (see below) and he had completely outgrown his Baby Bjorn. This was what I found and it is AMAZING. It really does relieve the pressure on you back. Anyway, check it out. I love it. My only regret…not finding it sooner. Find them here.
Chicco Travel High Chair- LOVE this. We keep it in the van and take it out whenever we are out and going to eat. The seat comes off the metal supports and is machine washable. It makes it so convenient to seat a baby in a challenging space. There are not many places we haven’t been able to use it. The best part? The placemat below has a catch tray that fits perfectly in the space that exists between the chair and the seat! Find one here.
Summer Infant Tiny Diner Place mat- This thing is AWESOME! We use it ALL the time. It rolls up and that makes it easy for travel. We use at home and when we go to other places. It’s super easy to clean and has suction cups on the bottom that keeps it put. Buy one here.
Jesus Storybook Bible- Hands down the best. I cry almost every time I read it. Seriously, so good! It is my son’s FAVORITE book. Let’s just say it is falling apart in about 10 different places. Find more about it here. I can’t wait to get the Deluxe Edition!
Aaahhhh, baby, birthday party, boy, creative juices, diapers, little baby, potty, spending money, time
Aaahhhh!!! Almost everyday I think about how my little baby is becoming a sweet little boy. I can’t believe in less then three months he will be two years old. Where does the time go?
I’ve been thinking about potty training lately. I don’t know if it is too early or what, but I’m getting seriously tired of diapers. I’m tired of changing them and tired of spending money on them. Any tips and/or suggestions?
I’ve also started planning Asa’s 2nd birthday party and I am SO excited. I’ve been scouring the net trying to find ideas and have found some, but it has really gotten my creative juices going. I’ll be sharing more of what I am doing as it happens. Until then, you will have to guess the plans (ladies- if you know, don’t spoil it for everyone else!)
afternoon tea, Bridal, bridal showers, budget, NJ, party, Salmon Pinwheels, special occation, table, tight budget, tips for saving money, victorian theme, year
Bridal Showers…they can be expensive to host on your own…and a lot of work. They can also be simple and understated. No one has ever accused me of that though.
Recently I have been finding all kinds of party blogs that are so inspiring but are really humbling. These ladies are incredible at what they do. So this year I’m going to try and think outside the box a little more with my parties. Since I still have all the parties from last year to post, I figure I may as well put them up (knowing that this year I am going to try and take it a step further).
The bridal shower I am showing was one I did for my friends sister last June. Gloriane wanted to host the shower but lives in NJ so she asked if she could use my house and if I could help with it. Of course I told her yes! I met with her and her mom about what they wanted. They were thinking of a Victorian theme because that was what the theme of the wedding was. I don’t have a lot of Victorian items and they had a really limited budget so everything went to food. Everything I used was stuff I had on hand, but it worked out. I like to think it was a classy afternoon tea with a more contemporary twist then Victorian.
Here are some tips for saving money on a party when you are on a REALLY tight budget (re: you need to feed 20 women coming to a bridal shower!)
Tips for saving money on parties:
1. If you enjoy throwing parties, invest in serveware/tablecloths/etc. throughout the year. No one really wants to buy a new platter and include that in their party budget. If you receive money for a birthday/Christmas/ or other special occasion (or you tell someone what you want) you can quickly build up a large selection of dishware that you can use time and again. I’ve done this and am SO glad I did.
2. Check thrift shops. They have TONS of dishes and you never know what you might find.
3. Check with family and friends to see if they have dishes or tablecloths you can use. My mother inherited a ton of my grandmother’s silver. She never uses it so I keep it at my house and use it for parties all the time. That’s what I ended up using for this party (in addition to the dishes my friends mother brought).
4. Another great idea? Ask a few friends to co-host with you. It cuts down on the cost and gives you extra helping hands.
This is a picture of the food table. We served so many delicious things!
My girlfriend’s mother brought all of the glasses and pitchers. It saved on the budget since we didn’t have to buy paper products. We served lemonade, raspberry cordial and tea of course!
I made homemade buttercream mints to add to the delicacies.
Breads are a must for tea.
Homemade and a few store bought scones served with lemon curd, raspberry butter and whipping cream accompaniments.
Cucumber sanwiches with cucumber flowers to adorn the platter.
Endive stuffed with chicken salad.
Another view of the table
This is the front table that we used for guests to sign a plate for the bride and groom when they came in. One of my favorite things to do is incorporate pictures of the bride and groom. If you have a digital frame (which we did until it broke!) you can connect a USB drive to it with pictures of the bride and groom. It’s chic, fun and personal. Best of all, it’s free if you already have the frame!
Ana, bit, bloggers, Brace, college, college budget, coolest place, furniture, Greg, little bit, money time, nice furniture, obsession, post, problem, proper lighting, time, toddler room, waste time
I have a problem.
A big problem.
I have a little bit of an obsession.
I am in love with my Google reader.
Why in the world did it take me so stinking long to set it up? Why did I wait so long to dive into the online community of bloggers who are oh-SO-talented?! I feel inspired. I feel humbled. I feel…well…that I shouldn’t waste time on the computer and should be crafting, building, baking, decoupaging, decorating, planning- you name it- I am inspired to do it. There are a few problems with this though.
The fact that I have a family and household to take care of.
The list goes on.
I can say that even with everything going on, there is a project or two in the works. Which leads me to my secret. At first I didn’t want to share, but now I feel I must. I feel that I need to support the average woman (or man) who would love to have nice furniture but doesn’t want to go broke doing it. I feel I need to support the average mom who wants a cute nursery/toddler room but can’t pay $2500 for one. I feel I need to support the average college student who needs college storage but lives on a college budget.
Here is my secret, the coolest place to be on the web.
What is it you ask? Click and find out. All (okay, well a lot) of your furniture dreams come true.
Ana is amazing. She started this blog 4 months ago and is doing great things. Because of her plans, Greg and I are now building this to put here:
(Sorry the picture quality is not the best. I was too anxious to finish this post then wait for proper lighting, etc.) We will save approx. $2800 by building it ourselves. You can build it too! Go here (Not all of the peices are on this post, but you being the smart people you are will figure it out!)
Soon I will show you an update on where we are. The only problem abut the process is that it won’t be done soon enough. We only have supplies for the top half of the unit and have to wait for April to get supplies for the bottom.
Now you know my secret. I hope you can use it too!
A. The, Annabel Karamel, B. The, bug, C. It, Candy, City, complete party planner, crasins, Danielle, Don, first birthday, food, house, idea, Lisa Mays, little league, mounds, Ofelia, park, party, play area, rasins, red ants, something, top, veggie garden
Goes to show how on top of things I am. Asa celebrated his first birthday on June 5, 2009. Turning one is quite a milestone in my book and I knew I wanted to commemorate the occasion with a party fit for a one year old (and his friends since he wouldn’t remember any of it). I started researching a few months prior and narrowing down my themes. I wanted something cute and fun but not too old for him. I finally settled on a bug theme birthday.
Normally we would do the party at our house, but since our backyard was still not kid friendly, we opted for a park. (Hosting at your house, a friends house, or a park is way cheaper then paying for an event venue).
(NOTE: The park we picked was not the one across the street from our house. It was a 10 minute drive away. We picked it because: A. The park across the street hosts little league and we didn’t want to compete with them. B. The park 10 minutes away had a great play area for toddlers and bigger kids. C. It was free!)
We made our guest list (which was quite large for a one year old) and sent out e-vites (save the planet and party at the same time. How can that not be a good thing?)
During my research, I decided since it was a bug themed party, I wanted bug themed food. This also acted as my decor (we were at a park which was also fitting.) Below are pictures and descriptions of where I got the inspiration for the food as well as other pieces for the party.
The Veggie Garden: I wanted something akin to a garden in your backyard with vegetables flowing freely out. My husband came up with the idea to use bread to look like mounds of dirt with veggies stuck in or sitting on top of the mounds.
Oh a marching we will go! Ants on logs are a tried and true classic. I used both rasins and crasins to simulate black and red ants. The avocado frog is from Annabel Karamel’s Complete Party Planner.
I loved the idea of doing edible bees and found a few recipes to use, but ultimately, I used one from Danielle’s Place. The only thing I did differently was freeze them so they would be soft right when the kids started to eat them. They were delish!
Cheese Worms were another must and so easy to do! Taste of Home had the idea and I loved it!
These ladybugs were tasty and something that the adults loved as much as the kids.
My love of the carved watermelon…I don’t know where I came up with the idea, but I told my husband I wanted this and he really came through
(well, he did part of it. My girlfriend Gloriane saved it because it was going to get scrapped when it wasn’t turning out great. She’s the one who thought to put the cloves in for the eyes.)
Burgers and dogs. No explanation necessary.
This is just a random picture of one of the food tables. Oh! For drinks we served bug juice and bottled waters (it was the beginning of the summer after all!) I also made an ice mold ring that I had frozen gummy worms into so we would have bugs in the juice.
Fruit is a great healthy treat that kids and adults love! I bought a flat of strawberries for about $7 at the Farmers Market before the party. Great buy!
My girl Lisa Mays brought this classic- worms in dirt! It was a big hit with the kids and adults alike.
Cake! I wanted to do something different then cupcakes (which I love) and just a big cake. My mom works at Williams Sonoma and got me these great bundt cake pans from there. One was a caterpillar and the others was an assortment of bugs. I used the recipes included with the cakes and they came out great!
We decorated them the night before and really had fun with it. I bought the big leaf plates from Party City to look like a bug on a leaf and we used brown painting paper (from Home Depot) as tablecloths.
So how do you save money on a kids birthday?
1. Make the food yourself
2. Don’t be afraid to ask people to bring stuff
3. Don’t be afraid to ask people to bring a recipe you have already decided to use
(Note: My general rule on this is that, unless we are having a potluck, I ask only really close people to bring something. The exception is when someone asks me if they can bring something. I’m always happy to pass something off to someone else).
4. Use coupons. I did not pay full price when at all possible. Get the discounts while you can!
5. Reuse what you already have. We had brown paper from painting our house. It made sense to use it as a tablecloth for a bug party.
6. Buy in bulk when it makes sense. I love Costco and I love a good deal. We bought our burgers, hot dogs and buns there. They had great prices!
7. Use your local Farmers Market. It saves money. Especially when you buy seasonal produce.
amount of time, Christmas, christmas party, e mail, e vite, Greg, info, invitation, invitations, kind, mail, mail web, opin, page telephone, palm tree, party, person, RSVP, something
So what kind of invites do you want to send out? It really depends on the feel of the party. I’m always a big fan of using e-vite (being green!), but I do have to say, there is something about receiving an invitation in person or in the mail that is always a joy.
There is so much you can do with invites. You can wrap them in boxes and deliver them, create them to resemble your theme, the possibilities are endless.
The thing to remember is that your invitations are the way people will find out about the party, so you want to set the mood of the party with your invite choice. Do you want to have a more formal party? Your invitation should reflect that (and say something on it as well). Is it a luau? Use a cut out of a Palm tree to write or print the info on.
Make sure you include any important info about the party. You can never go wrong addressing the who, what, where, when and why (In fact, if you are missing any of these things you probably should hire someone to plan your party for you- and yes, I am available, but it’s not cheap .
A lot of books will tell you to mail or hand deliver your invites anywhere between 3-6 weeks before the party. In general 3 weeks is a good amount of time, but if you are wanting a large turnout, closer to 6 weeks is better. When Greg and I threw our Christmas party last year, we sent out a save the date at the end of September (you can never be too early if you want people at your Christmas party). In my opinion, the earlier you tell people, the better the chance of them making it (especially people with kids!)
Keep in mind you should ALWAYS have some form of RSVP. Either an e-mail, web page, telephone number, whatever. Some people will tell you in person and that is fine, but if you want to save money, you need to know how many people to expect. If they don’t RSVP at all, plan on them not being there. Of the people that RSVP yes, you can expect 10% of them to not show up (stuff happens, you can’t get mad about it, just roll with it). If they RSVP no, believe them.
budget, close friends, crazy uncle, dilema, e vite, Family, family and friends, guest, habit, list, mail, Ned, outgoing person, palm tree, party, person, type3
Sorry for the delay in updates. I let time get away from me but I am back now.
Making a guest list is always a dilema for me. I am a naturally outgoing person and enjoy having people over. I like to invite anyone and everyone to parties, but believe me, that can be an expensive habit. So what do you do? Well, if you have your reason and you have your budget, that should be helpful in making your guest list.
Make a preliminary list. Include any family and friends that you want at the party (also include those that you may not exactly want but may be *gulp obligated to invite i.e.crazy Uncle Ned who could eat you out of house and home) How many people are on the list? Is that a reasonable amount for the budget you have set up or do you need to re-evaluate? If you think you can reasonably handle guests, then you are ready to send out invites. If there are too many, you have to make adjustments. Decide what is most important to you (and the person the party is being thrown for) and make your cuts based on that.
After you’ve made your list, you can send out your invites!
There are probably about 4 different ways we have for categorizing parties we throw and who we invite.
1. The intimate gathering. This is like a sit down dinner with family and/or close friends.
2. The semi-intimate get-together. This is inviting friends and close friends/family over to hang out, eat and play games.
3. The get-to-know people party. This is where we invite aquaintances, friends, and close friends/family to hang out.
4. The epic party. This is when we invite anyone and everyone. If we know your name, you are probably invited (unless you weird us out, then don’t hold your breath).
It is really all about personal preference. Some people just do not like to have a type 3 or 4 party (plus they can get pricey!). Let your budget and your reason guide you. You’ll get there!
10th birthday, baby showers, bridal showers, budget, dun dun dun, party, plan, shotgun wedding, something, year
After you’ve decided on a reason to throw a party, you have to decide on *dun, dun, dun- a budget. The dreaded ‘B’ word. While budgets are the ban of some peoples existence, they can be your greatest tool and asset and they are ESSENTIAL to having a great party. Why are they ESSENTIAL? Because the last thing you want to do is spend $500 on a birthday party when you can only afford $100 and you’re paying off your daughters 10th birthday party at her 11th. That’s just dumb.
Debt is not your friend. Look, as much fun as parties are and can be, you DO NOT want to have stress on you throughout the rest of the year paying off something you couldn’t afford in the first place. Birthdays come once a year. They are something you CAN plan for. Same with holidays. They don’t change (Christmas is always the 25th of December, Easter is always in March or April, etc.) Yes, there are “life events” that can come up unexpectedly (baby showers, bridal showers), but you usually have time to plan for those (babies take -shocker!- 9 months to come along and unless it’s a shotgun wedding, you usually have a few months to plan and save).
So how do you prepare your budget? Well, it’s going to be different for everyone. A few things you HAVE to plan for are guests (how many), food (are you going to have any, how much, will it be potluck, etc.), and everything else (decor, plates, utensils, venue, etc.). Sometimes your budget will determine the size and scale of your party, and sometimes (for the lucky few) the budget will be determined by the size and scale of your party.
The best thing that you can do is plan at the beginning of the year what parties you want to throw, how much you want to spend, and make a plan for it. I realize that’s not always possible, so my ideas can be used by the planners and by the more spontaneous people.
That being said, decide your budget and stick to it. Realize that sometimes you will have to sacrifice something you want to get something you want more. Sometimes your time won’t allow for everything you would like to do. Sometimes your budget won’t allow for everything you would like to do. Pick the best ideas and run with them. If you do only a few things, make them great.
A budget that is reasonable and something you can stick to is going to be your greatest asset.
baby shower, Family, first birthday, leftovers, money, party, reason, side dish, time, usual suspects
I love throwing parties. Big, little, in between. They are a lot of fun. I love getting to serve my family and friends and I love getting to try new ideas. But to throw a party, you have to have a reason. Birthdays and holidays are the usual suspects, but you can also just want to hang out with friends and have an impromptu backyard BBQ. Whatever the case, you should always have a reason.
For instance, last year, my husband and I hosted or helped with parties of all different sizes. One night in the middle of the summer we decided we wanted to BBQ and wanted some friends to join us. It was a last minute thing and we asked our friends to BYOB (bring your own beef) and a side dish for all to share. We had about 14 people show up (on a Tuesday!) and had a great time. We also threw a more organized, larger party for my sons first birthday (more on that later).
No matter the size, the time or money, you can have a great party so long as you have a reason and reasonable expectations.
Picking your reason: Do you want to have a birthday party for yourself, a family member or a friend? Are you throwing a Bridal or Baby Shower? Are you wanting to have friends over and just have a good time? Do you want to have a tea with some women? Are you having a Super Bowl party? Pick a reason and that will give you the direction and focus you need to see your party through until the end.
Reasonable Expectations: Realize that about 10% of the people who RSVP they are coming probably won’t make it. If people don’t RSVP, expect that they won’t make it. Take into account that adults eat more then kids (I can’t tell you how much this helps! I have done a few parties and did a head count not figuring this in…let’s just say there was money spent that could have been saved or used elsewhere and we were eating leftovers for some time!) Things are not always going to go as planned. Be flexible! The most important thing is that you and your guests have a good time. The other stuff is just filler. People don’t know what you do and don’t have planned so if something doesn’t make it out, don’t freak. They have no idea!
The biggest reason that you should have for throwing a party? To have a good time! That’s it. If you are not going to enjoy it, don’t waste your time and money. It makes no sense. Just take your child to something that you can both enjoy or your spouse to a nice dinner. No one likes a grouchy host/hostess.
If you decide that you want to have a great party on a budget, this is the place for you!