Thursday, June 11, 2015

Baby Love - A Simple School Themed Shower

One of my best friends (one of my oldest friends, too - we've been buds since we were 9!) is having a baby in July! A girl baby, at that! Woop! This is a little extra exciting because among my friends and family it's been boy after boy after boy these last few years. I'm thrilled baby K will be adding some feminine energy into the mix.

As soon as she announced her pregnancy, myself and two of our other friends pretty much decided that we'd throw the shower. We knew we'd really have to step up our party planning game because the mama to be is really the queen of crafty and we wanted to do her and baby proud. I think we succeeded!

We held the brunch shower in my backyard over the weekend. Mama to be is a teacher, so we thought it'd be cute to include some school-ish details with the décor.

I made these cute little vases by gluing and tying crayons to some jars. I also purchased some mini pink pencils to use as well. Centerpieces generally consisted of a couple thrift store golden books, a small floral arrangement, a handful of wooden blocks from the dollar store and an apple. Cute, ya?

We also spray painted some cans and decorated them with alphabet and number magnets.

We found some cheap thrift store picture books and flash cards that we could use as garland. I punched some holes, strung some ribbon and bam. I also made some using scrapbook paper. These hung over the food table, drink station, patio tarp thing and the area behind where the mama sat to open her gifts. My sister and I also made a few tissue paper flowers and one of those paper chain things just for kicks.

For brunch I prepared a spicy sausage, kale and gruyere strata, a zucchini, tomato, parsley and fontina strata*, three kinds of simple croissant sandwiches (turkey + avocado, ham + havarti, salami, mortadella + provolone), a big garden salad with a lemon vinaigrette, caprese skewers, a fruit tray and yogurt parfaits. The grandmas-to-be brought an assortment of mini desserts and co-host M made a yummy, boozy punch with basil, raspberry lemonade and lots of orange juice and champagne to make your own mimosas. She had a ton of left over mason jars from her wedding which we used as glasses for our guests.

*I'll post my strata recipe another time. Do you make strata? They save my life when cooking for a crowd. They are so easy, so adaptable to any taste and they can be completely prepped the night before. They actually need to be prepped the night before. Such a hit. Thank heavens for strata, I say.

A few weeks before the shower I snapped some maternity photos of the mama and daddy to be. One of the co-hosts had them printed and framed and placed around some of the communal tables, along with some fun framed baby photos of the expectant couple.

We had a few different cards printed out with different prompts on them for the ladies to fill out - What's your favorite thing about being a mom, What's your favorite thing about your mom, and What's your favorite motherhood memory. Mama to be actually had a hand in this by letting us know early on that she didn't necessarily want "advice" from her friends and family, but would rather they share a special memory with her about being a mom or about their mother. I thought this was such a great idea. Our friend and shower co-host is going to compile the responses in a scrapbook. In addition, I made a little "Dear Baby" template where guests could write a little note to the baby if they wanted.

We aren't really big on organized games, but we did want something optional and fun for the guests to participate in - other than, you know, stuffing their faces and drinking mimosas. We contacted the grandmas and asked them to share a few funny stories/quirks about their kids. We chose a handful, printed them out on cards and had guests guess which of the baby's parents the story is attributed to. The winner received a couple outdoor lantern candle holders. Pretty simple.

Since baby's name is Adalene and baby's mama is a teacher who loves rice krispy treats, my sister made some as favors with an icing A on them. We figured our guests deserved an A for their attendance. ;)

 All in all it was a super sweet day. I can't freaking wait to squeeze that baby's face off.

And if you care:
Invitations here
Spotify playlist here

Friday, January 30, 2015

Christmas 2014

My favorite thing in life is to gather with the people I love to eat, drink and be merry, so naturally the holiday season is my jam.

This year we bought a $20 tree from the grocery store because Christmas tree farm trees are just stupid expensive. And I think it looks at least as lovely as any $100 farm tree.


 Every year over Thanksgiving dinner (this is how food-centered my family is!) we discuss what we'll make for Christmas dinner. We like to go all out with holiday food and never do the traditional turkey and potatoes or anything like that. We always go for all the way homemade and it's almost always Italian. This year we decided on Nana Stizzo's roast cooked in tomato sauce and pasta. The day before Christmas Eve my sisters, parents and I made fettuccini to be dried and saved for our Christmas dinner. Despite the photos, Van actually was not very helpful to the process.

We enjoyed a ham dinner on the Eve at T's dad's house. I made these bomb-ass potatoes. Van was gifted some Lincoln Logs and a Daniel Tiger stuffed animal that says "Hi Neighbor!" and "Do you want to make believe with me?". He loves it. And the farm dog figure that comes with the Lincoln Logs...the logs themselves mostly piss him off because he has a hard time matching up the ends. :)

After dinner and the exchange of gifts we headed to my friend's parents' house for some drinks, desserts and SANTA. I love that Santa shows up at this annual Christmas party for a bit because it'll be a cold day in hell when I wait in some mall line to pay $ for a picture of my kid on Santa's lap. Nope, no thank you.

singing carols with auntie kristel, waiting for santa
he told santa he wanted candy for Christmas. last year he asked santa if he knew how to play Christmas songs on the piano.

Christmas morning was fun, but rushed. I really need to remedy this for next year. Tony's mom's family gets together for Christmas day brunch/lunch which is really gnarly for us because we are such late birds. We basically force V out of bed each year, rush him through gift opening at our house, run him across the street to my parents house for a gift exchange, and run him back home to change so we can get out the door and to T's family's event. He's a really good sport about it, but next year I'm going to advocate for a little more time to ourselves Christmas morning so Van can relax and eat breakfast and play with his cool new stuff before having to put everything away to go to see T's family. I'll figure something out!

Nonetheless, he really enjoyed himself.

After brunch and games with T's family we headed to my parents' house to enjoy the fruits of our pasta making labor a few days before. It was as good as we hoped it would be. I had so much fun playing Heads Up at brunch that I made some of my family play it on Christmas night. We exchanged gifts with my sisters, ate hella food, and drank a bunch of wine...good times. The best times, really.

playing grocery store with granddad and his new cart and "food" from aunt rachel

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Still Crazy After All These (3) Years: Van's Birthday

Little Vanny turned three last month, a few days before Christmas. As has been tradition, we threw him a little, no gifts tamale party with our immediate families and few closest friends. My family has always made tamales the weekend or so before Christmas, so it's worked out really well to just invite over a few more people, add a cake and make a little Van celebration out of it.

A few weeks before his birthday I asked Van if he wanted a themed party since he's getting up there in age and might be into something like that. He told me he just wanted a "guitar party." Ok, kid.

So I whipped up a Woodstock-esque invitation and printed them out to be mailed. I bought the few kids that would be in attendance bubbles in a guitar shaped container and little guitar Christmas ornaments, ordered a big Mylar guitar balloon from Amazon and cut out images of Jimi Hendrix and Jerry Garcia to use as cupcake toppers. Bam! Guitar party!

He had the best time. Tony and I got him a play kitchen that we revealed to him that morning, which he was completely stoked on. My sister bought him a chef's hat and oven glove, some little stainless steel looking pans with a whisk and wooden spoon. He spent his day running around, eating food, cooking in his new kitchen and being a little three year old animal.

Van is the best little kid in the world and I hope his third trip around the sun is his best yet. :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Toddler Life

V will be THREE in less than a week (sob).

Here are some are some tidbits of Van's typical shenanigans over the last week or so, in case you were wondering what life with an almost three year old is like.

They'll UNLOCK YOUR PHONE because they have crazy memories (I don't even remember how long ago I told him my passcode...weeks at least)  and will take photos of their feet, forgetting to erase the evidence.

They enjoy trying to break into peoples' mailboxes with house keys.
They get distracted easily.

They (or at least mine) will wake up at 10:30 AM and ask you to lay them on the couch with their blanket while you make them toast because they are really lazy.

They are as random and exhausting as they are cute.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pumpkin Patchin It

Last week I took Friday off to take Van to the pumpkin patch. It's funny how holidays really make me freak out about how fast time flies by and how big my kid is getting. If it wasn't so fun, I'd seriously sob.

Anyways. We had a good time.

When you are almost three, everything is the coolest. We'd have to work so hard to tear Van away from one thing and convince him to try something else, then repeat that. All day long. He loved this "Fort-a-lot-a-fun". Basically a wood deck.

Slidin slides...

Feeding goats...

Eating Dippin Dots for the first time EVER...

Hiding in Jack o' Lanterns...

Taking selfies on the train...

Measuring growth...
Riding horses...

Picking pumpkins (I love how he wanted a green and white one)...

And being cranky.  There was a zipline for bigger kids and adults near where the hay ride line began and ended. Van was SO pissed that he couldn't go on! He definitely didn't get that daredevil gene from me. We told him he couldn't go on it because he was too little, but maybe he could next year. That didn't go over well, but Tony cheered him up.

Bishops Pumpkin Patch, you sure are adorable. See you next year!