Luna’s First Birthday Party (On a Budget)

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Before having Luna, I swore I would not be one of those parents that goes stupidly nuts for a kid’s birthday parties. Don’t get me wrong, a love a good themed party, but I do not want to spend a silly amount of money on something she will never remember. Now, that I am a parent, and just planned the big first birthday party, I’ve got to be honest, it is hard not to go a little crazy. Planning an extravagant party is as fun as shopping for baby clothes and accessories, which is another problem I have. I am happy to say I managed to save A LOT of money and still have an amazing shindig for my baby girl.

The birthday girl wearing the outfit that her Aunt Zoey MADE her!
The birthday girl wearing the outfit that her Aunt Zoey MADE her!

I was slightly stressed out before the party. We had seven people staying at our house (not counting us), and lots of other people from out of town staying at other houses. The entire weekend was jam packed with plans and I did not know how I was going to get everything done for the party. I don’t know why I ever worried though… every person at our house pitched in, offered to help and basically did all the decorating for me without me ever even asking them to help. Our family and friends are the best and now I realize I couldn’t have gotten it all done if they had not all been staying at my house driving me nuts. Thanks guys.

birthday girl

Luna’s party was “Winter Onederland” themed. Of course, I got the idea from Pinterest. Where else? I wanted an inexpensive way to transform our house into a white glittery winter landscape and I figured out the perfect way to pull it off. Here’s what I did:

big eyes

1. I emailed everyone I live near and asked if I could have any [insert needed craft supplies] they no longer wanted. I figured everyone has random bits of construction paper, glitter, felt, ribbon, etc they want rid of and I was right.

2. I borrowed, borrowed, borrowed. I’d love to eventually own all white matching pretty serving trays and platters, but right now that’s just not possible. So, I borrowed them. I also borrowed lights and decorations. Luckily, several people decorate their house like winter wonderland for Christmas.

3. I shopped at Costco. We had brunchy type food (bagels, hummus, veggies, fruit, coffee, hot chocolate, biscotti, nuts and juice). It was easy to pick up almost all of this and disposable dishes in bulk at Costco.

4. I got crafty (and made all of our guests get crafty). We used all of those donated art supplies to create our own decorations. I just wish I had more pictures of the decor… We were so busy celebrating!

5. We had a relative make the cakes. Our Aunt Amy is an AMAZING baker. She made the most delicious tye dye cake for us and a healthy smashcake for Luna.

cakes

Clearly, Luna loved it... I did too!
Clearly, Luna loved it… I did too!
"Want a bite, Mommy?"
“Want a bite, Mommy?”

We ended up spending very little on the party. I may make all of Luna’s birthday parties winter themed…

The best part of the party planning was asking that no one brings gifts for Luna. We asked instead that our friends and family (who want to bring a gift), bring a toy to donate to the Renewal House (a residential recovery program for addicted women and their children) instead. We ended up with a nice collection of gifts for the Renewal House and are so excited to bring them their gifts! Luna is a lucky little girl, she needs nothing and we are so happy to give these toys to kids who really need them.

singing

Thank you all SO much for the many Birthday wishes and comments on the birthday blog and birthday video posted last week. Husband and I could not feel any luckier and our little girl couldn’t feel more loved.

our family

Oh, and if you’d like to make a donation to Renewal House, just click here!

ball pit

Cheers!

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L’Shana Tova!

Happy Rosh Hashanah/Jewish New Year!

family

Yesterday evening was the beginning of Rosh Hashanah and today we celebrated with a big fancy pants lunch with friends and family. We have one friend of the family who keeps everyone in line when it comes to Jewish holidays. He organizes the dinners, serves the most beautiful meals, invites everyone and says at least one prayer in Hebrew. I may not be Jewish, but I do love holidays and learning about all religions so I make sure Husband and I never miss a party.

table

Luna is part Jewish so I think it’s important she learnt about her heritage and Jewish ancestors. I try to learn a bit more about the religion and the celebrations every year not only for my interest, but for her benefit. I guess I should start searching for some Rosh Hashanah children’s books.

momdaughter

Today’s New Year celebration started with wine, cheese, smoked salmon and pate. Everyone caught up with one another and took turns complaining about long services at the synagogue. Lunch was pretty traditional…apples, honey, challah, matzo ball soup, potatoes, brisket and lots of sweets. This year, I am not pregnant and therefore able to drink the wine (yay!), or so I thought. I may not be pregnant, but turns out that taking care of an 8 month old also keeps you from enjoying a glass of wine. I was able to enjoy my dessert with coffee though, and they may have been even better.

eyes

This whole week has been one weird week of birthday celebrations, fancy dinners, surgery, Jewish New Year and other random occasions. It feels a little like Christmas break, which is nice, but I’ll be ready to get back to routine next week. I’d love to share some funny anecdotes from today or reflect on the past year, but Luna is sleeping soundly, Husband is snoring next to me, Belle is snuggled in between the two of us and the cat is curled up into a sleepy fur ball. It’s time for me to join them, which sounds a lot like the end of last year’s post.

Luna's dress is from the Etsy shop, Aylinka. I'll be writing a review for you soon!
Luna’s dress is from the Etsy shop, Aylinka. I’ll be writing a review for you soon!

Cheers and L’Shana tova!

Down by the Bayou

While visiting friends and family in Texas last week we had a crawfish boil! Crawfish boils are crazy popular where I grew up. Most of us are at least part Cajun and either had or were invited to crawfish boils for basically every occasion in the spring. Easter, Birthdays, Mother’s Day, Graduation, Memorial weekend or any get together that consisted of 4 or more people usually involves crawfish, corn and potatoes this time of year. It’s glorious.

flower

 

Since, this is a southern and mostly Cajun tradition I miss it dearly every year. People in the north jus don’t get it. My parents understand the importance of good spicy food so they put together a boil the second they knew we were coming to visit. Lots of family came over and we managed to eat 120 pounds of crawfish.

crawfish

Every time we have a crawfish boil or barbecue my Dad’s side-by-side manages to make an appearance too. Almost everyone took a ride through the yard, around the neighborhood and down to the bayou. I let my 5-year-old cousin control the wheel while I controlled the gas. Luna even had her first ride around the yard.

sidebysode

 

peter

Speaking of my little cousin, Abby, she was so in love with Luna! She followed me around all day wanting to hold her, comfort her, carry her, change her and even breastfeed her! She was completely intrigued when I had to feed her and by the end of the day she was convinced she could to do it too. I told her she needed to be a Mommy first, but she insisted she “could just try it, just one time!”

abby

Of course it was also a day for lots of our family to meet Luna. She was a little overwhelmed with all the traveling, meeting new people, parties and rides, but everyone still loved her fussy butt.

dana aunt mimi joe hat

Anyone else have a special tradition or something they like to do when visiting family?

Cheers!

 

Hoppy Easter!

happy easter

We celebrated Easter today by having some family and friends over for brunch. My friends Sara is in town from Nebraska, staying with us and helped me cook and get everything ready for our guests. It was a potluck brunch with a crepe bar, a crazy amount of toppings, salmon, monkey bread, fruit salad, bagels, cookies, coffee and mimosas. It was sooooooo good, like so good I don’t even regret the extra 8,000 calories I consumed.

probably should have uncovered the foil-covered crepes for the photo...
probably should have uncovered the foil-covered crepes for the photo…

guests

 
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I really enjoy having people over and hosting parties. It’s the same feeling I got when planning a new theme  in my classroom. I get to plan out the menu, decorate, coordinate everything, send out invites and basically have everything under my control. (mwahahaha)

table

this idea from Pinterest was so easy and cute
this idea from Pinterest was so easy and cute

After the brunch half of us drove to one of the local parks for a 3 mile walk. Our weather has been unbelievable this weekend! It finally feels like spring and I am loving it! It was so sunny we actually had to use sunscreen. Okay, I didn’t actually use sunscreen, but other people did… same thing.

granny white dandelions

this dog LOVES chasing sticks...all sizes
this dog LOVES chasing sticks…all sizes

Then, because we are badasses we all worked out together. Of course, we mostly did this because our friend Bella is a machine, workouts more than anyone I know and looks like a superhero, so when she asks us to workout with her we always say yes. You don’t tell superhero’s no.

workout

Easter day ended with another phenomenal home cooked meal by Sara, a Disney movie, some hair-chalking (more on that soon!) and tummy time with my favorite girl!

So strong! I cannot get enough time with this precious baby.
So strong! I cannot get enough time with this precious baby.

Such a good day.

Cheers!

 

 

Baby Shower Numero Dos

This past weekend we had our second baby shower. This one was for all of our friends and family in Tennessee and it was held at my in-laws house. The shower was more of a party…it was at 7 on a Saturday night, it was for boys and girls, dinner was served and lots of fun was had. It was perfect.

34 weeks

My sis-in-law did most of the planning and she came up with the most clever idea for a shower/party/guest book activity. She took the book Goodnight Moon, tore out the pages, hung them up and gave everyone directions to choose a page and recreate it in their own style.

goodnight moon book guest book

Some of the finished and unfinished pages
Some of the finished and unfinished pages

Not only was the idea very cool, but I was so impressed by everyone’s artwork! They went all out to create a beautiful one-of-a-kind book for Luna. The book’s title, BTW, was changed to Goodnight LunaEveryone had to sign the front of their page too, so one day when I’m reading the book to Luna I can tell her who created each page special for her.

making pages james artwork steph's artwork

For dinner we had seafood soup, vegetarian chili, chicken noodle soup, homemade bread, guacamole and lots of other little snacks. Our Aunt Amy made us a delicious raspberry and lemon trifle and 3 trays of different types of chocolate chip cookies. My doctor is going to be in shock when I am weighed at my next appointment… after the holidays, 2 weeks of vacation and 2 baby showers I am afraid to step on a scale.

soups trifle

The best part of both of our showers is just getting to spend time with our friends and family and talk about how excited we all are about Luna’s arrival. I didn’t even open gifts until midnight. We are fortunate to receive so many nice gifts for our baby, but it means a lot more to know that so many people are going to love our Luna. (I’m allowed to be corny and sentimental…I’m pregnant!)

Everyone 30 and under
Everyone 30 and under

blurred

my hair my love

Thank you to all of our wonderful hosts and hostesses…it was a blast!

Cheers!

Adults Decorate Cookies Too

To continue our weekend of time with loved ones, we spent Sunday evening at our friends’ house for what will hopefully become an annual Christmas Cookie Party. These particular friends always throw the most beautiful and delicious parties. They seriously know how to host, decorate and prepare the most decadent foods… it’s the same house where we have our annual Second Thanksgiving/Just Dance party.

party

 

I am getting rather uncomfortable at 31 weeks pregnant. (Get out of my ribs Luna!) So, I dressed for comfort with a bit of festive flair. Husband, however, decided to outshine me and get all decked out for a night of eating and drinking with friends.

Woah! That's a big belly!
Woah! That’s a big belly!
Holiday Hair!
Holiday Hair!

Because our hosts wanted to make a “simple” dinner (hah!) we had 3 different soups, an entire table of snacks and hors d-oeuvres and another table lined with fancy Russian chocolates.

snacks table sweets chocolates

After we were beyond full we rolled ourselves into the kitchen to make and decorate some cookies. We actually used pre-made cookie dough, because who has time to make dough after preparing a huge dinner? Now, you may remember decorating cookies as a child, and if you really remember than you know they all turned out looking like broken blobs of cookie crumbs and mounds of icing. Well, I apparently never grew out of that stage….

chocolate chip knead star friends

This is the BEST cookie I made...
This is the BEST cookie I made…

Guys, I tried. I seriously tried to make this a cute cookie. It’s my best work. It’s also proof that I will never be that Mother that brings adorable baked goods to classes or parties. Sorry, kid, but you’re taking pre-made baked goods to school.

Whatever, ugly or not, the cookies tasted like cookies.

What are some of your holiday traditions? Do you party with friends? Celebrate with family? Make ugly cookies? Can’t wait to hear about it!

Cheers!

It’s Me Day!

The card Husband got me for my Bday... he knows me so well.
The card Husband got me for my Bday… he knows me so well.

Friday, I finally got to officially celebrate the most wonderful day of the year: my Birthday. Like any other holiday, I took the day off of work, slept in somewhat late and had the BEST day ever. My day actually began with a call from my bank informing me that my account information had been stolen and someone was using it to make lots of online purchases, and they would need to close my account immediately. The thief even had the nerve to make several online Sephora purchases, how rude! Not exactly the morning wake-up call I was hoping for, but at least there was nowhere to go but up after that little surprise.

First, Husband took me to breakfast at my favorite Nashville diner, the Pied Piper. This diner is a pretty basic family owned trendy place in East Nashville, but I love their breakfast, especially their biscuits and gravy. They are probably the only place is Nashville Tennessee the South who makes their biscuits and gravy vegetarian friendly and they are SO freakin’ delicious. Of course, when we got there I saw the sign that read “Biscuits and Gravy are only served on weekends and holidays”.

I tried my best to convince them that Friday is actually part of the weekend and that it is most definitely a holiday. I even gave them my sad “we had to drive an hour to get here!” story, but they insisted they had no biscuits. In the end, they made me toast and gravy, which turned out to be a very good substitute.

Soon after Birthday breakfast was a lunch time viewing of the Hunger Games: Catching Fire! Clearly, I have looked forward to this movei for a LONG time.

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Katniss or Hilarie? Who can tell?
Katniss or Hilarie? Who can tell?
I'm actually 12.
I’m actually 12.

Catching Fire was perfect. It was even better than the first one, and since it’s been a couple of years since I read the book I didn’t notice if any important details were left out. I did forget how serious and sad the series starts to get, and remembered that the 3rd and final book/movie is going to be extremely depressing. Still, I CANNOT wait until The Mockingjay comes out!

After, the movies was a special stop at Sephora, and then a final celebration at a local Mexican food joint. The best part of Birthdays with our family is always Birthday Dinner. We ate way too much salsa and guacamole and I got so many unexpected gifts.

Me and Husband at dinner
Me and Husband at dinner

ANNNDDDDDD I got the most wonderful present! LOTS of my family and friends pitched in to get me an awesome new camera! I got the Canon 70d and I am so in love.

I found the perfect subject on which to practice my skills...
I found the perfect subject on which to practice my skills…

The only thing that could have made this day better would be to have my out of town family and friend with me to celebrate.

BIG thanks to everyone for making my day so great!

Cheers and Happy Hilarie Day to each of you!