Monday, December 7, 2015

Age 3

We have made it to year 3! What a great year! This year we have gone to Ireland (Zoe spent an entire WEEK at her grandma's!), said goodbye to my sister and her family (and then hello again on two trips to Florida!), moved to a new home that we LOVE, made LOTS of new friends, learned Zoe will be getting a new cousin in 2016, made plans to visit NYC in a few weeks, and of course, taken lots and LOTS of pictures!

Sometimes I look back and I'm stunned at how blissfully normal, and peaceful our life is. We are truly blessed and I'm so thankful for this life and time with friends and family I love and cherish. I hope Zoe one day recognizes how lucky we really are. Here's a look back:

Zoe with her cousins in Florida
First Pedicure. This is in Florida with her cousin!
In March and August, we visited my sister in Florida. She moved just outside of Orlando, not far from Cocoa Beach. Not that we needed an excuse to visit, but white sandy beaches are a nice bonus! Zoe absolutely loved visiting the beach and playing in the sand, but time with her cousins was really what she wanted!

When we got back from Florida in March, Andrew had converted Zoe's crib to a toddler bed since she had been climbing out. He built the toddler rail, since we never purchased the one that goes with her bed. Not long after this, we also broke the binky habit! It required a lot of persuasion and a little magic from a "binky fairy" but we were successful! We also started potty training around this time, and while Zoe is still not "night trained," she is completely potty trained during the day. Yay for not buying diapers!

We made several trips to Bartlesville to visit my family. Including this lovely lady's birthday party in March. It's always so wonderful to visit with family. We live a bit closer now, so hopefully can stop by more often!

Zoe got her first "pets" this year. Small turtles named Myrtle and Henry. She enjoys feeding them worms!

We had a ton of fun this summer. We have a pool in our neighborhood now, so Z swam almost every day. We also went to the splash pad at Myriad garden's with my mom a few times. I won a giveaway at a local photographer's page, and Z took some adorable "Princess and the Pea" photo's. We also attended the annual summer party with the company Andrew works for. This year, they chose to do a baseball game. I think Zoe may have enjoyed wearing the baseball hat a bit more than actually watching baseball.

Fall brought Halloween and a special announcement. We dressed up as a "pumpkin patch" to go trick-or-treat around our neighborhood (and Zoe's school). Basically, Andrew and I just wore orange and stuck some green leaves to our head, but Zoe wore a really cute orange tutu. We held a green vine (rope), which helped keep Zoe from wandering off! Z loved trick or treat. Not  necessarily because of the candy, but because she enjoyed going up houses and yelling "trick or treat!"

And the special announcement? Alana and Jacob (Andrew's sister) stopped by one random Monday evening with a surprise announcement, that are were expecting. We can't wait for baby L to get here! Zoe is convinced she's getting a girl cousin. Hopefully we will find out soon!

We had a delicious and relaxing Thanksgiving this year, that was followed by
a HUGE ice storm. We got more than they predicted and ended up losing power and trees. We moved Zoe's birthday party to Thanksgiving weekend this year, so it put a bit of a wrench in the works. Despite all of that, we still ended up throwing Zoe's birthday party even though most of our guests couldn't make it. It was lovely, and Zoe had a wonderful time regardless. See more Here. With winter, comes my favorite time of year. I love the holiday's for a lot of reasons, and am looking forward to the coming month. Several months ago, we booked a Christmas trip to NYC to do all of the "traditional" things. We are really looking forward to it! Z wants to see all the "big buildings," and we have promised to take her to see santa while we're there!

Here is this year's update:

Favorite Thing to Do: We recently got Science Museum Passes. She LOVES going, and especially loves it when Otto the robot is out and about!
Favorite Food: Pizza. Typical kid, right? She really loves it when we order a pizza and sit in the living room floor on a blanket, and watch a movie while we eat!
New This Year: Zoe has made a lot of new friends this year. After my sister moved, we found that Zoe needed the social interaction since she was no longer able to play with her cousins on a weekly/daily basis. We have found some new groups and things to do that have allowed her to make some new friends. In addition, Zoe has been attending a children's day out program once per week that she LOVES. She begs me to go to "school" everyday!
Growth: Zoe has grown so much this year. She is now a little girl, rather than a toddler. She seems to grow and change each and every day. Just last month, she shot up at least 2-3 inches within a 3 week period. We jumped from 24month clothing right into 3T!
Sleep: After switching her to a toddler bed in March, she started getting up 8-10 times in the evening before finally going to sleep. She sleeps though the night without issue (thank goodness), but our evenings were consumed with putting her back to bed multiple times. We finally came up with a solution that is really working for us!! Now if we could only get her to potty train at night...
Speaking: I knew she was a verbal child when she first started speaking. I was right. She speaks really well for her age. She knows and says things that surprise her daddy and me all the time. Just the other day she pointed to a flag banner and started naming the colors of each flag, then told us it was a pattern! It's so wonderful to watch her learn!
Movement: She is surprisingly good at soccer for such a little thing. I love watching her play. She loses interest pretty fast, but can dribble and kick the ball better than I can!
Behavior: Zoe has always been sassy and nothing has really changed. She has an attitude that I have no choice but to admit comes directly from me. That said, she also knows how to turn on the charm, and can be really sweet when she wants to be!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Vintage Wonderland Unbirthday Tea: Zoe Turns 3!

Vintage Wonderland Unbirthday Tea to celebrate Z turning 3! I loved this theme and it was perfect for a 3 year old little girl. I wanted it to be girly and fun with some sophisticated garden touches. It was a big hit, and turned out beautiful. Here's what I did:


First things, first...the invitation to the party! I was so happy with these "message in a bottle" invitations." See the full invitation details here: Vintage Wonderland Un-Birthday Tea : The Invitation


I wanted a (mostly) traditional tea menu for the party. I wanted it to be something of a light lunch. I stuck with traditional items like tea sandwiches and deviled eggs. I pre-portioned the food as much as possible to make it easier to grab in a buffet-style set up.

Here is what was served:
Mad Hatter Menu
Eat Me:

Tweedle Egg
(Deviled Eggs)
White Rabbit Veggies
(Assorted Vegetables with Ranch)
Dormouse Cheese
(Assorted Cheese, Meats, Nuts, and Olives)
Bread and Butterflies
   (Assorted Tea Sandwiches)
Cheshire Chocolate
(Chocolate Fondue with Assorted dippers)
The Queen’s Toast
(Un-Birthday Cake)

Drink Me:
Flamingo Water
 (Spa Water with Fresh Fruit)
Caterpillar Tea
(Sweet Tea with Lemon)

Scroll to the bottom for specifics on food/recipes. 

I made the menu's using the kraft paper luggage tags you can find at most craft stores, and some gold paper. I tied them with some twine. I placed this menu in with each gold silverware set. I folded the napkins using this tutorial. It allowed for the cutlery to be an easy grab, along with a spot for the menu's. I placed these in a wicker basket next to the plates on a separate table as pictured. 

P.S. the cutlery and plates came from Target. LOVE!


I had a baby shower for a friend last year that I was able to save several items from, as the shower was gold, black, and white. I wanted to transform the dining room into a tea garden. Not sure that it necessarily looked like a garden, but we definitely achieved that fancy, girly, sparkly magic!

"Room Decorations": My daughter is obsessed with balloons so we HAD to have as many as possible. I purchased a helium tank from the party section of Walmart, and several bags of gold balloons. They hovered over the table tied with curly gold ribbon. I bought these floral fans. I also used some black one's I purchased from Hobby Lobby awhile ago. I hung them around the room and in the large dining room window. I purchased a glittery "Happy Birthday" banner from Hobby Lobby, along with the wobbly clock, and hung them on the wall with command
hooks. Finally, my husband built an A-frame sidewalk chalkboard sign a few weeks ago for a photo session, so I re-used it for the front to help "direct" our guests. 

"Table Top Decor": I used the main dining table, a wooden "card table," and our island for all the
food, drinks, and desserts. I covered each with some chalkboard wrapping paper to protect the surface. I was originally going to write on it, but thought decided it really didn't need any more "clutter" so I left it blank.  I spray painted several food cans and a few liquor bottles gold, and filled them with fake flowers and little chalkboard signs that I wrote things like "eat me" or "drink me" on. I put these all around the room and on the food surfaces as center pieces and decoration. I also collected some pine cones a few weeks ago that I spray painted gold and placed around the room. They held the playing cards well, which helped tie it in to Alice in Wonderland. I put them on beds of fake moss purchased from dollar tree to "green things up." I purchased two little chalkboard signs that I wrote some sayings from the book on. Finally, I made little food tags for each item using an avery product purchased from the craft store, and I tied them with twine. 


"Tweedle Egg": Simple deviled eggs. I kept them simple and kept out the relish. I used mayo, mustard, butter, and salt. Then I piped them into the eggs using a ziplock bag. Also, if you don't have an egg-cooker, everyone needs one. Such a life-saver when it comes to getting hard boiled eggs perfectly cooked (and easy to peel!).

"White Rabbit Veggies": Carrot, Cucumber, Red and Yellow bell pepper in shot glasses with ranch, So easy and I love the color it added to the table (and my plate!).

"Dormouse Cheese": We used a basket for the crackers and a cheese plate for an assortment of cheese and meat. We just picked two of our favorite blocks from the local grocery and pre-cut everything to make it easy to grab. I actually meant to label the cheese plate with the description of each item, but forgot! 

1 & 2
"Bread and Butterflies": An assortment of tea sandwiches. I used cookie cutters shaped like a teapot and tea cup, as well as just cutting them in quarters. I kind of followed my own recipes with these, but here's generally what I offered- 1. Salmon: Smoked salmon, cream cheese, and capers on pumpernickel bread. 2. Cucumber: THIN sliced cucumbers, whipped salted cream butter with small chopped chives on white bread.
3. Chicken Salad: I cheated and purchased gourmet from the specialty grocery down the street from us. It was delish, and included poppyseed, chicken, mayo, grapes and pecans. I was originally going to put these on mini croissants, but we had leftover butter rolls from Thanksgiving, so voila!
4. Sweet: These were my FAV! My Mother-in-law makes a peach butter from scratch every summer, and cans enough for the whole year. I put some on cinnamon swirl bread and spread with cream cheese. Oh so good!

Helpful tips- whipped butter and whipped cream cheese spread so much easier for sandwiches. Also, thin sliced bread helps keep everything in proportion. Too much bread takes away from the flavor!

"Cheshire Chocolate": I used this Pinterest Recipe in my fondue pot. I cut up green apples, grapes, and strawberries. It was SO GOOD! I included little mini forks so everyone didn't need to keep up with their own skewer. 

"The Queen's Toast": The birthday cake was the best part. My husband build a topsy-turvy cake stand very similar to this Pinterest tutorial.  I used white cake mix and whipped butter cream frosting. I
decorated with strawberries, blackberries, and cranberries. I also bought some organic flowers at the specialty grocery store (and cleaned them REALLY well). I added the flowers just before the party to make sure they didn't wilt, as they only live on a cake like this for 12 hours or so. 

"Flamingo Water": I purchased white plastic "tea cups" for the beverage service. My daughter was thrilled to drink from her tea cup! The flamingo water was just Spa Water in a glass beverage server. I put in sliced strawberries, cranberries, and mint leaf.

"Caterpillar Tea": Simply a jug of sweet tea poured over ice in a glass pitcher. My daughter didn't care for it, but all the adults loved it! And you have to have tea at a tea party, right?!


This year I wanted everyone to have a little something to take home with them. I found really cute gold foil gift bags, and filled them with Milano cookies, a deck of cards (purchased at dollar tree 2 for $1), and some Rolo's (because they are wrapped in gold).

I also had "party hats" for everyone to wear. I purchased little snowman hats from the Christmas section of Hobby lobby that are made out of felt. They look like little top hats and already had a red ribbon on them. I took stretchy gold string and stapled them to the hat to make a chin strap.


I wanted to create and outfit for Z that embodied the theme of her party. I didn't want her to look exactly like Alice in Wonderland,
but rather a steam-punk sparkly version that looked like she belonged at a Mad Hatter Tea. I purchased this dress, and these stockings. The dress was SUPER short, so I made a tutu with gold tulle. I created a head band from one of the top hats, a flower, and some feathers. It turned out perfect!

That is pretty much the party in a nutshell. There were too many details and elements to list every little thing! I'd love to hear your comments, so feel free to leave one! <3


Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Solution for Keeping Toddlers in Bed

I've heard it happening time and time again. You make the switch to a toddler bed because your little one is climbing out of their crib. Everything goes fine at first, but then they start to test the waters...they start getting out of bed. Once, twice... Over and over and over. After a few weeks/months you're pulling your hair out! How do you keep your child from roaming the house at all hours of the night?!

We came up with a solution that worked like a charm for us. We have had it for almost a month now, and our daughter has yet to get out of bed at night. Not even once. Meet my new best friend, the door alarm:

These can be purchased anywhere. Amazon has similar ones for around $5. See them here. What does it do? It attaches to the door (simple screws!) and can be switched from off to chime or alarm (we have it on chime now that she understands we will switch it to alarm if she gets up). When the door is opened, it emits an alarm or chime sound. The alarm is a continuous sound that does not stop until it is either switched off manually or the door is closed. The alarm feature is particularly effective because it is so loud and obnoxious. Your child will WANT to make it stop, and will promptly shut the door.

I'm sure at some point she will figure out that she need only step out of the room and close the door behind her to make the sound stop. But for now, she doesn't even test it because she despises the noise so much. She will stand at the door and call for me if she needs me. It puts my mind at ease to know she won't be roaming the house while I'm snoozing away in the other room. It's also much more safe than a baby gate or lock because she CAN leave the room in the event of an emergency (such as fire). It has also been effective in keeping her contained during time out's. Pretty nifty solution for $5!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Vintage Wonderland Un-Birthday Tea : The Invitation

We are having an un-birthday tea to celebrate Zoe turning three! The un-birthday tea will be a nod to vintage Alice in Wonderland, with lots of garden party touches. As always, I wanted the invitation to reflect the party theme, and I think it hits the nail on the head.

Parcel boxes were purchased at the craft store and stamped with a tea pot. I then free-handed "Open Me" in the bottom corner with a navy pen that matched the ink pad. The box was tied closed with twine.

The interior of the box was lined with artificial moss purchased in the floral section of the craft store.

The small cork bottles were purchased at the craft store in sets of 6. A company called "Small Parts" makes the miniature magnifying glasses, which I caught on sale for 1/2 off. I tied a tag around the bottle, and free handed "Read Me" with chalk marker. The magnifying glass is tied to the bottle using twine.

The invitation itself is made from pink and gold scrapbook paper. The front side of the paper is actually white, but I watercolored it pink before printing. It was rolled using a chopstick to help get a tight roll, then tied with a piece of twine. The twine was left a bit long, so that a piece of it could peek out through the top (from under the cork), which makes it much easier to remove the invitation from the bottle.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Choosing Paint

So let's have a little chat about paint...

Paint is one of the absolute easiest and least expensive ways to transform a room. It can make all the difference in going from blah to wow. I have painted my fair share of spaces, and boy have I made some crazy color choices! (baby-poo green, anyone?).

So here's the deal. When it comes to your home, you want to love it 5 years from now, right? You want to be able to get a different couch or a different rug (or whatever) in a year, without worrying that it clashes terribly with your lemon meringue walls. You need to be able to resell your house without worrying about hiring a painter because you chose a different color for every single room of your house. So here are a few of my favorite painting tips for choosing the perfect color. I should tell you that these are 100% my opinion, but they have worked very well for us when it comes to resale!

1. Neutral, Neutral, Neutral! When it come's to the walls of your home, there's black, white, and brown (and all the shades in-between). That's it. Anything with a tint of anything else isn't a neutral and *probably* shouldn't go on your wall. Sure, there are those rare occasions where I'll paint a laundry room blue or something, but that's the extent of it, and really it would be better if I didn't. I love color, don't get me wrong, but orange should be on your pillows and rugs, not on your walls.

2. Pick a color palette and STICK TO IT! I'm totally guilty, and I know a lot of people who are. They choose a completely different color palette for every single room of their house. The kitchen is red and yellow, the living blue and green, the bathroom orange and purple... Ok, that's a bit extreme, but you see my point. If you pick a semi-neutral palette of colors (I usually go with a set of 3-4) and use them throughout your home (particularly in spaces you frequent: living, dining, kitchen), your home will feel much more cohesive. Then, for example, in the living/dining area, pick a new color (or two) to pop with your accessories (like adobe orange). This not only makes it easier to change color palettes (recover your pillows and buy a new rug when you tire of orange), but it also showcases the color much better. A perfect example can be found at Just a Girl blog. See how that orange stands out, yet could be swapped out easily for, say, blue??

3. Use a Color-Picker App. Did you know these exist?? I didn't either until recently. Home Depot has a fabulous one called "Project color". You take a picture of your room (or there is also a "live" mode). Then you can pick a color by shade, tone, etc. The technology easily finds the edges of the things you have on and against the walls and "paints" around them, basically allowing you to digitally paint your room as many times as it takes to find the perfect shade. That's right, folks. No need to buy two million paint samples. Narrow it down to a just a few using this handy app first!

4. Time of Day Matters. Once you start considering your color palette, pay attention to how the light changes in the room. Check out how the ambient light of your lamps effect the color. Check out how morning light looks different than afternoon and evening. I usually like to have my sample color up for at least a day or two on MULTIPLE WALLS before I commit to a whole room. Why multiple walls? Because the shading of light won't be the same on different walls due to the light from windows, etc. When I'm testing a color, I paint little patches everywhere. High, low, corners, east, west...

5. Neatness Counts. Nothing ruins a freshly painted wall faster than a messy application. Be neat and clean. Take your time and make sure you are coating the surface. Do another coat if you have to. Be sure to use the right roller for the wall surface you are painting on and use "W-Shaped" strokes with the roller. I love using paint/primer's-in-one for painting pretty much anything other than an already-white surface. It's usually worth it. Also, I rarely ever use painter's tape anymore (only occasionally and for special projects). Try using a Shur Line painting edger. It is soooo much faster!

6. Clean-Up. With a two-year-old, I can rarely finish any painting project in just one day. I always keep 2 gallon ZipLock bags on hand. When I need to break, I put everything (roller, Shur line, paint brush) into the bag with a wet paper towel and stick it in the fridge. When I'm ready to use it again, I just pull them out and they are ready to go. I have kept painting materials fresh this way for months in the past.

7. Check out Pinterest. There are a BUNCH of ideas for simplifying the painting process, and making things cleaner and easier. (Like plastic bagging your roller tray so you can just throw the bag away but reuse the tray...GENIUS). There are also a million color palette ideas and samples. People that have already used your color palette in a room, so you can get a better feel for the look you're going for BEFORE you commit a bunch of time, money, and energy into changing your walls. It's definitely worth a browse.

So that about wraps it up. I can't go, however, without sharing with you my all-time favorite wall-color: Valspar Sandstone. I have painted nearly every wall in both my previous and current house with this color. I've had a few family member's use this color as well. It's almost fool-proof because it goes with just about everything. And **Bonus** because I use it so often and in such massive quantities, I buy it by the 3 gallon bucket and get a discount! It's warm, but still contemporary. Love it.