September 2013


Surviving the First Birthday!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The first birthday is a big deal for every mother.  The general consensus is that this first birthday is more for the mom and her memories than the baby.  For us, this was a happy day of celebration on many levels.  Thinking back over the last year, I can't help but be reminded that I sat in a hospital bed scared and anxious to go down to the NICU to see our preemie that had come into our lives 15 weeks early!  It hardly seems like a year has gone by, and I think much of this is due to us only having been home for 5 1/2 months.  But, our little man has reached a big milestone!  How did we celebrate the big day?

First I started with a theme for King Diaper's party - Milk and Cookies.  Pinterest can the party planner's best friend.  I created a Milk and Cookies Board to collect all of my ideas over time.  I used this board to collect recipes, favor ideas, and more.  When it was time to start actually working on the party, the work was already done.

I ordered the invitations and paper goods pack from Etsy.  There are so many different shops that offer all types of custom printing jobs.  Venspaperie was the shop that I used for these packs.  Super cute and easy to print.  Just download, print and use!

One thing to consider when going this route is the amount of paper you will use along with ink.  Also, will you have time to do the cutting, taping etc.  However, the big plus was having a theme and everything going together.  It was definitely what I was going for and super easy for me!  I would recommend ordering well in advance so that you can pace yourself with cutting out and organizing your party stuff.

While I was at it, I decided to order an outfit for our birthday boy to wear.  This also came from Etsy.  Bowdaciousbaby is the shop that I used.  The shop owner completed this order and had it to me lightening fast!

The rest of the party was pretty simple.  We served:

  1. Cookies and Creme Cupcakes
  2. Chocolate Chip Cookies
  3. Snicker Doodle Cookies
  4. Sugar Cookies - Older children were able to decorate theme with frosting and sprinkles
  5. Animal Crackers
  6. Chocolate Milk
  7. Strawberry milk
  8. Plain Milk
The cookies and creme cupcakes turned out flawlessly.  I think this is one of the easiest cupcake recipes and they wind up looking pretty fancy!  I added a bit of blue sugar sprinkles to tie into the color theme with the blue on the paper items.  Since our little man can't have solid food, I made him a cupcake with the plain batter before adding cookie pieces.  

Also, the cookies were easy as well.  I picked simple recipes that most everyone liked.  We cheated on the sugar cookies and used slice and bake dough.  

The last touch was simple paper items for serving.  I picked up simple and plain cups, plates and napkins.  This kept them from competing with all of the other stimulation overload of too much sugar!  I used red plates and an assortment of coordinating cups with plain white napkins.  This is inexpensive and practical.  I'll be able to use the left over cups, plates and napkins at bunco or tailgating some time soon I'm sure!  

At the end of the party, guests were given little bags to take home cookies for a treat a little later.  

It was a lot of fun and happy memories all the way around.

Do I think a theme and lots of matching paper goods is the way to go for a birthday party?  For me, it was.  It was a lot of fun planning something around a central focus.  And in many ways, it simplified things for the party.  One thing that I loved for this party is that everyone loves a cookie - kids and grown ups alike.

Tips for a successful, mommy melt down free party:

  1. Plan ahead.  
  2. Let family and friends help you if they offer.  My mom mad the chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies.  I made the cupcakes and snicker doodle cookies.
  3. Take the semi-homemade approach with making some things from scratch and ordering other items.
  4. Use online tools and resources to help reduce shopping time and trips to the store.
  5. Enjoy this day.  

And before you ask, no I'm not already planning birthday number two.  I'm going to wait and see what the next year holds and what all he's into between now and then.  He may love something and pick a theme for us next year.  But whatever the case, I plan to make it festive and fun.  Maybe I'll be a bit more practical.  No matter what, it will be awesome!  Have a great week!

Ramp Up for Fall!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Now is the time that I'm feeling the need to get really for fall.  All of the new fall clothes make me want to get out there and find something new and fun to wear.  The problem is, I'm just not really the size that I want to be at the moment.  And while I'm not letting that dictate every thing about my existence, I'm resisting the urge to add much to my fall wardrobe.

One of the best ways to amp up your look is accessories.  It will really add to your wardrobe without the frustration of trying on tons of clothes that make you frustrated.  This past week, I committed to a couple of additions that I think will carry me through for a while!

  1. Bras/underwear
  2. Handbags
No, it doesn't seem like a whole lot, but these things are more or a game changer than one would think.

First, clothes look and fit better with the right underwear under neath.  I'm a huge advocate for it and believe that these are the foundations for looking great.  To get there, you have to GET OVER the idea of numbers, sizes and anything else that bugs you about the whole process.  Next, get fitted for the RIGHT fit.  

The first time I ever was fitted for a bra was right before my wedding.  And a woman I have deemed the bra nazi told me that I should 1.) stop wearing minimizers because they just pushed my breasts under my arms and 2.) the size I was wearing was terrible.  As painful as it was, it was a necessary, life changing event.  I never looked back, and I have forever been grateful for this advice.  I still avoid minimizers and just own the size that I am and go to be fitted for bras.  

There are lots of privately owned shops that do this and sell under garments.  I recommend those to many of the chains.  However, this past week, I was able to go to a Soma Boutique for bras.  It worked just fine.  I left with two bras that are awesome and do the job.  Additionally, I picked up a pair of panties that are great!  

Next, I headed to Ann Taylor Loft with my trusty little coupon and left with a couple of great handbags for fall/winter.  Both are brown and can be very versatile.  The first one is a larger, work type bag that will work for every day.  The second is a smaller clutch that will work great for evenings and weekends.  They had a 40% off sale and got both for a steal!  

What else could you do for your fall wardrobe?  Jewelry is always a great way to go.  Charming Charlie is a great store to run in a pick from color organized selections that include earrings, necklaces, rings, scarves, bags and more.  

I highly recommend scarves.  I have tons of them that I pull from for my fall/winter clothes.  You can mix and match them with anything and also purchase them in a variety of weights depending on the season.

Last, SHOES!  Any girl can change up an outfit with shoes.  Look for shoes that will carry you through the cooler seasons like a pair of booties.  Lots of stores are stocking up with them right now.  There are tons of online shoe shops that can pair you with a "personal shopper" and selections shipped right to your door.  Many offer great shipping and sale pricing on your first order.  And, you can never go wrong with Zappos with free shipping and returns!

So, if you are looking for something new, but don't want to step into the dressing room - opt for an accessory rich wardrobe are recycle some things that you have.  Basic pieces can be dressed up or changed up just by the shoes, bag, jewelry or scarf that you have one.  New undergarments underneath will make you feel and look like a million bucks.  Step away from the dressing room and next to something fun for some stress free shopping and great fall looks!  

And that can make any mommy happy!

Matchy matchy

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Have you seen the mom with her toddler out with the pair dressed in matching outfits?  Yes.  You know this scene.  Everyone has encountered this at some point. Well, I have become her.  And, I feel quite certain that I have earned this right.  I'm asked nearly every week if I am the grandmother.  Therefore, I feel entitled to some homemade matching goodness for me and my little man at this stage in our lives.

I wanted to experiment with making King Diaper an outfit.  So, I made him a little outfit for our first home football game.

Patterns can be very expensive.  Purchasing patterns on sale or from a second hand shop is a great way to save money.  Also, you can go through vintage patterns of your mom or grandmother.

If you don't have access to vintage patterns or hand me down ones, New Look has really reasonably priced patterns.  Pattern 6198 is an easy pattern that I really enjoyed.  It contains a pattern for a girl and a boy.

You can customize this pattern with your choice of fabrics, optional pocket on the font, and appliqu├ęs.

One note about this pattern is that it calls for snap tape to place at the bottom where you would open for diaper changes.  I just made my own by creating a piece of matching bias tape from the fabric of the romper.  That is entirely up to you and your sewing skill level, but it was very easy to do.
I was able to complete this romper in one afternoon.  I did have to have some help for daddy duty.  But, I think it turned out great.  Its just a simple one piece with buttons on the shoulders and snaps at the bottom.  It is not lined and the bias tape is the make the leg openings and arm openings more finished.  

To make things more fun, I decided to make myself a matching/coordinating outfit to wear as well.  My mother has lots of vintage patterns that she no longer uses.  So I went with the dress in the blue to the far left.  It's sleeveless and really comfy in hot weather.

The only downside to vintage patterns is that they are made for super models.  And the sizing is what I consider to be way off.  I had to do some resizing to fit this pattern to fit me.  You can find instructions for this online.

As I have stated in a previous blog post, I'm a big fan of simplifying the shopping process.  So, I purchased everything for this online at

Anything over $35 qualifies for free shipping, and I used this as opportunity to purchase some fabric for another project.

Here is the finished product for both!  I think it turned out just fine.

The total cost for this project was:

Nights in Barcelona Branches and Berries Fabric @ $4.78 x 3.5 yards = $14.34
Invisible Zipper $2.48
Thread $1.78
Bias Tape $1.89
Sew on Snaps $1.68
Interfacing $1.80
Buttons $.80

$24.77 Total

I think that is pretty awesome for an outfit for each of us to wear.  You may be thinking about the amount of time that it took to make these is worth something.  And yes, it is, but that really isn't the point of sewing for me.  I select simple projects that I enjoy.  The time I'm spending at home making a dress that I'll enjoy wearing is worth it to me.

And yes, I plan for each of us to wear these outfits again.  I doubt we will wear them simultaneously.  It was fun for the day.

Sewing Tips:

  • Allocate enough time for cutting out the pattern and fabric.  Don't rush this step or it can ruin your whole sewing experience.  
  • Do things in steps.  One afternoon or evening, cut out the patterns.  The new day, cut out the fabric. Then moving forward, do one step in the pattern at a time until you are finished.  Pacing yourself will keep you from becoming frustrated.
  • Use online resources, instructions and videos to help with steps that you don't understand or that seem complicated.
  • Accept mistakes and little irregularities.  Your project doesn't have to turn out perfect.  It is part of the process.
  • Enjoy sewing and having a finished product at the end!

Savvy Shopping Tips

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Being a savvy shopper makes me very happy.  I have always been a coupon shopper, but I'm a coupon girl now more than ever.  There are lots of ways to ways to make smart use of your time and money.

I am a very organized shopper.  OurGroceries is a great app that I have downloaded onto my phone to keep up with things that I need.  I can type in what I need and look for that item later.  It also syncs up with other users phones.  So, my hubby and I can coordinate our efforts.

First, I shop online for baby, home and even spices.  When I have a little time at home or while on the road working during the week, I use some of that time to buy things that I need.  Online shopping allows me to purchase things from my phone or laptop.  I'm also able to do this wherever I am when I have a few minutes.

Second, mobile apps for shopping is always a winner!  It makes shopping on the go simple and quick.  If there are stores that you shop at regularly, it is the best way to go.

Walgreens is one of the best apps that one can download on their phone.  Once installed, you can login to refill prescriptions, shop and even view coupons and sales ads!  Its a great thing to have and very handy!

Also, if you have a favorite store to shop, download their app.  This will allow you to shop from your mobile device with ease.  Target has the new Cartwheel App.  Babies R Us also has several handy apps.  But, you can customize this to suit your needs.

When you are doing research on baby products and trying to find the best deal, use Google Shopping.  It will allow you to:

  • Compare prices
  • Search for reputable online companies to purchase items
  • Find online shops with the least amount of shipping, taxes, etc.

My final favorite shopping tool is Retail Me Not.  Search for coupons to use both online and in stores.  If you download their mobile app, you can locate coupons on the go.  In a store and want to see if there is a coupon you can use on products you are buying, check it out on your mobile app.  Any time I am shopping online, I look to see if there is a coupon for whatever I am buying.  It never hurts to check it out.  I was able to save over 50% on my birth announcements and thank you notes for baby gifts with this site!  

Don't get down with spending tons of time shopping for deals online.  It can be a bigger time drain than driving from store to store.  
  1. If you are going to buy a specific product, start with Google Shopping to compare prices.  Find a company and go with it!  Over thinking this just costs your time, and your time is worth something.  That is money you are wasting in my opinion.
  2. Look to see if there is a coupon for whatever you are buying on Retail Me Not.
  3. Also, if it is an item where you need to buy more to get free shipping what can you add that you actually NEED?  For example, I needed a new baby thing for bathing the baby.  If I bought $50 the shipping was free.  I bought a box of diapers to get free shipping.  The price was right.  I always need diapers, and that saved me a trip to the store.  Yep, saving gas is saving money!
  4. Buy and move on.  
You can't always wait for sales. Lots of time can be wasted online looking for saving a few dollars.  Save yourself the time, money and gas of driving around town and get it over with.  

Have a great week!  Being a mom is hard, but making good use of your time makes for a lots of happy faces.

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