Thursday, March 30, 2017

Cheers to 35!

I enjoyed a 5-day birthday celebration this month, and it was wonderful! I thought about glossing over it, but considering it's sort of a big one (35 y'all), I thought it worth mentioning. I started thinking about what I might like to do, a couple of months ago, because, who am I kidding, I've always loved birthdays! All I really wanted was an entire day to myself, to come and go as I please, use a spa gift card that I've been waiting TWO YEARS to use, some family time and definitely sweet desserts. My husband knew I needed some "time away" and a break from the stay-at-home-mom daily routine. As much as I love being a mom and a stay-at-home-mom, I miss some of the freedoms that I used to enjoy. Like being able to fully relax without feeling like I have to be somewhere or do something every minute of the day. Casually shop at a few of my favorite stores. Have lunch with a friend. Go for a quiet walk. Eat whatever I feel like. I just needed a break. All you moms out there know what I'm talking about! 

My very thoughtful (and brave) husband took a couple days off from work and decided to take a road trip with our favorite little buddy, to visit his family for a couple days. Leaving me "" (cue music). Which may sound sad, lonely or even a little selfish. But it was just what I needed. FREEDOM! Let the long weekend adventure begin.

I started by treating myself to breakfast at my favorite little cafe, Atlas Eats. It was a bright sunny after-the-winter-windstorm of 2017 morning and I savored hot coffee and ate an entire stack of pancakes. I'd like to start every morning like this, thank you very much.

I headed out of town to Mirbeau Spa, in Skaneatlas, New York, for the afternoon, to use my long awaited gift card. A HUGE thank you, to the gift givers, you know who you are! I lounged in the quiet room, got a massage, took a dip in the outdoor whirlpool (surrounded by snow and icicles, it was kinda surreal), sat in the sauna and picked up some bath salts from the gift shop on my way out. It was absolutely as amazing as it sounds! I grabbed a late lunch at Dougs Fish Fry, and stopped to take a view of the lake on my way home. It was cold but beautiful!

The next morning, after sleeping in my VERY quiet house, I headed to a favorite spot that never gets old. Simply Crepes (to use my birthday freebie!) and The Village Bakery for French Macarons. The walk around the canal was gorgeous, even when frozen. I felt like I was on vacation! 

I got to meet a friend for dinner, dessert and some much needed laughs. Always making fun memories with this one! 

The next day (yes, there's more) I met another sweet friend for lunch and we talked and talked. It was good for my heart. That evening, there happened to be a mom's night out scheduled for my MOPS group, so I went to that, too! Just call me a party animal. 

On Sunday, my boys returned - I really did miss them! And we celebrated my birthday a day early with my family. It's not easy coordinating all of our schedules, but it meant so much to me that we could spend time together. And capture the best group photo we've ever taken!

You guys. Can we take a minute to talk about this CAKE?!? I had been wishing for a special cake and "happened" to meet Rebekah, who works at Something Delicious Bake Shop, literally the week before. I talked with her about the type of cake I was hoping for, and she truly made me the most beautiful and delicious birthday cake! Chocolate fudge with buttercream flowers. It was soooo good. I want more. Like right now. I had to take photos of it, it was almost too pretty to eat. Almost. 

On my actual birthday, Marshall and I went to a St. Patrick's Day play date party, which was a lot of fun. Let the partying continue! That night, I got to celebrate with my D-group (Bible study) ladies over dinner and more cake! Yes, I shared. 

I enjoyed the very last slice on a certain special plate that I received, years ago, when I was about 10 years old, from very dear friends. It's tradition! The expression on this cat's face is pretty much how I feel when my birthday is over.

I definitely felt spoiled, loved and surrounded by friends and family throughout the week. And I soaked up every minute of my solo-vacation! I got to rest and recharge, see friends, visit favorite places, and celebrate with the ones I love most. It was more than a girl could ask for. My husband is far too good to me! So far, 35 has been good

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Hope Hall Gala Invitation Suite


In 2016, I started working with a new client, Hope Hall School. I designed the invitation suite for their yearly fundraising "Toast for Hope" gala. 

The pieces included:
Save the date postcard (2-sided)
Invitation (2-sided) with printed envelope
Response card (2-sided) with printed envelope
Program booklet (10 page, 2-sided) 

The theme was prom night, including a disco ball and silver glitter, also incorporating their corporate color, teal. Such a fun project! 

There was quite a bit of content included on both the invitation and the response card, which is why they were each 2-sided. I really enjoyed organizing all of the information and working to create a unified style. 

The program booklet took some creative formatting and organization as well, because there were a total of 20 pages to design (10 pages front and back), including adds, sponsors, auction items, schedule of events, board members, and more. I enjoyed getting to design a booklet like this and challenging my layout skills.

I'm so pleased with how all the pieces turned out! The client was very happy, too, which is the most important. Hope Hall School was wonderful to work with and I look forward to working with them again.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Suffering Succulents

Who doesn't love succulents? Maybe you call them "hens and chickens". Either way, these adorable green drought-resistant plants with rubbery leaves, in variety of shapes and sizes, have been all the rage for quite a while. I've been trying to keep some alive, indoors and outside, for years. 

Here's my latest indoor loss. This cute succulent from West Elm only lasted in my house about a year. Rest in peace. I never know if I water them too much or not enough! This is probably the third one I've managed to kill. Enough is enough. 

I started looking for inexpensive fake succulent alternatives. They can be a little pricey, depending on the size and container. Plus, I don't want them to look super-fake.  

I discovered single succulent pick stems at Walmart for just $1.99. It was the perfect size for the mercury glass vessel from my recently deceased plant.

I found a vase of sand lying around in my basement (because who doesn't have perfectly good sand lying around? This is why I never throw things out!). I used it to fill the container. 

And I stuck the succulent pick inside. Done! My own little DIY greenery for cheap. 

It's adds a little life in an otherwise dull area. 

THEN I found these little fake succulent containers at Target for just $3! THREE DOLLARS. There were a couple styles left, but I grabbed this one because it was different than the one I made. I think they are selling out fast.

I've seen similar styles for $8-15 and up. If you're looking for some adorable plants that you won't kill, to spruce up your decor, you can make your own or run to Target, ASAP. You can use any small container that you have - milk glass, mini flower pots, glass, mason jars, bowls. You could even get a small bouquet of individual pics and make a little garden or terrarium. Happy (fake) gardening!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Marshall Turns Two!

Our baby turned two this month! It was also his "golden birthday". It's hard to believe he's not a baby anymore (even though he will always be my baby). I was torn between feeling sad that he was getting older, yet happy that he's growing and continuing to amaze and fill us with so much joy. Everyone warns you about the "terrible two's". We've seen a few glimpses of those typical toddler tantrums, but for the most part, he's gone easy on us (so far). 

On Marshall's actual birthday, we spent the day together as a family. We baked blueberry muffins the night before (one of his favorite treats) and sang happy birthday to him with a candle at breakfast. We quickly learned that Marshall does not like birthday candles. Regular candles are fine. Just not birthday candles. Noted. Maybe next year.

We took him to the Strong National Museum of Play, which he loves, and we got a membership as part of his birthday gift. There's so much to do there! I'm looking forward to taking him many more times throughout the year. 

We had a small family celebration the following weekend with cake and ice cream. Although, Marshall would have been perfectly happy with just the M+M's. 

He is such a blessed little boy to have family and friends who sent cards and sweet gifts. It's so fun to see him open gifts and get excited. Marshall, you are very loved!

It's been quite challenging these days to take (good) photos of my fast-paced, busy little guy! I really wanted to do some type of photo shoot for his birthday. Filling his crib with balloons turned out to be a big hit. He had a blast and I tried my best to capture him in action!

Marshall, you are so much fun and energy, determination and humor. You are definitely all boy. With your running, throwing, climbing and everything in motion. You love trucks, cars, Play Doh, vacuuming (yay!), snackies, the lawnmower, watching your shows, and helping me. Some days you're literally my shadow. You. Love. Ketchup. You get attention and smiles wherever you go. There's no doubt you're going to test my patience and give me more gray hairs. You sleep like a champ (just like your mom and dad used to). You do not like brushing your teeth, eating beans or most vegetables, wearing winter hats, or sitting still. You have an impressive vocabulary, and you've been talking up a storm since Thanksgiving. I love your little voice and the way you say things. You are so smart. Part of me hopes you never grow up and never stop being this cute. I kiss your cheeks every chance I get. Because I know one day you won't let me. You have such a sense of humor and crack us up everyday. Your laugh is the best. Your smile is my favorite. And your blue eyes. Just like your Dad. I love you more every minute.

Happy birthday, sweet boy! I'm so grateful God gave you to us. You are loved beyond words.