A Couples’ Barbecue Baby Shower

Earlier this summer, Ken and I hosted a couples’ baby shower for some of our closest friends. Hosting a couples’ baby shower is a little tricky. When most people think “baby shower,” they picture a women-only affair with petit fours, tea cups, games and potentially even a few gross-out birth stories. We wanted to do something fun that everyone would enjoy – dudes included.

Baby Barbecue Shower Invitations from Zazzle

I immediately fell in love with these invitations from Zazzle, because they had a vintage look that didn’t look overly frou frou (they make a blue version as well). This design worked well, since the mommy-to-be is a talented artist and printmaker who likes vintage prints.

While I didn’t make the invitations myself, I did try to get crafty in a few other ways. I actually made my own diaper cake that didn’t turn out half bad (if I do say so myself). It was easier (or maybe I should say “harder to screw up”) than I thought.

Diaper Cake for Couples Baby Shower

I also made a “temper tantrum hot sauce” favor myself. My graphic design friends at work made fun of me when they saw me trying to create a design for it using Keynote, but design challenges aside, they weren’t too hard to make. Ipicked up some bottles of hot sauce from the grocery, soaked them in hot soapy water, and scrubbed with a steel brush to remove the labels. Then, I applied our own labels, which were just printed mailing labels with the new design on them. Twine added a nice touch.

Hot Sauce Barbecue Baby Shower FavorTo avoid a repeat of the last-minute chaos and stress from Lucie’s first birthday (where I made my own cupcakes and food), I ordered some pull-apart cupcakes from Publix. They were a pretty big hit, and very budget-friendly too. We had the barbecue catered from Fat Matt’s (I highly recommend them).

Baby Shower Hot Sauce Favor

It miraculously stopped raining for the exact window of time the shower was supposed to happen, so we were able to have it outside as planned! We skipped the cheesy shower games and brought out the cornhole game. We made sure we had plenty of beer and bottled water to go around, and decorated using a clothesline and some of Lucie’s old baby onesies. We also got balloons and disposable plates/cups/utensils from the dollar store, which helped with the budget.

Overall, I think it was a great success. Best of all, little Heidi was born a few weeks later and we’ve loved watching her grow these past few months.

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An easy diaper cake tutorial

Last weekend, I decided to do something I don’t normally do – I crafted. We are throwing a baby shower for our good friends, and in my mind a diaper cake is the perfect centerpiece to a great shower. After discovering that it costs upwards of $90 to buy one (yikes), I decided to try my hand at making one and it didn’t turn out half bad!

Trying to find a tutorial online for a simple diaper cake proved to be more challenging than I imagined, so I ended up sort of making up my own process and thought it might be useful for others who just want a basic, easy-to-make design.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Pampers Swaddlers Diapers – Only because this brand is mostly plain white, and I didn’t want cartoons on my diaper cake. I bought two 31-count packs, and used almost all of them. I decided on size 2, since they grow out of the smaller sizes so fast.
  • Rubber Bands – One pack with multiple sizes
  • Glue – I used hot glue, but fabric glue would work.
  • Thick Ribbon – A cute design, of course.
  • A bottle of wine – If you don’t want to use wine, you could use two baby bottles or two bottles of baby powder stacked together.
  • A big platter – Anything sturdy and large enough to hold the entire cake.
  • Little “Surprises” – Baby stuff to decorate the outside of the cake. I used wrist rattles, socks, and a small animal teething toy. I also used store-bought cutout decorations.
  • Flowers – Real or artificial will work. You’ll need some wire cutters if using artificial.

Instructions:

Step 1: Place your bottle of wine (or whatever you choose to use for the center) on the platter. I like the wine idea – it’s a much-needed treat for the new mom as she begins to use her diaper cake 🙂 You could also use empty baby bottles stacked on top one another and glued together. I have also heard of using cardboard paper towel rolls.

Step 2: Begin rolling up your diapers. You’ll want to roll from back (tab side) to front, and roll them as neatly as possible so that it looks more or less like a cylinder. Secure each diaper with a rubber band in the middle; try not to wrap it too tightly, as you’ll want to try and keep that cylinder shape.

diaper cake 4

Step 3: Put a skinny rubber band around the center (wine bottle, baby bottles, or whatever). Start lining the diaper rolls around the center, securing with the rubber band. You’ll be covering the rubber bands with ribbon, so try to keep the rubber band toward the center and as even as possible. Try to make them as even as possible, and make sure the “seam” of each faces toward the middle. Once the first layer is done, add a second layer and then a third, using that same rubber band to hold them together.

diaper cake first layer

Step 4: After making sure that the top of the first tier is as even as it can get, do the exact same steps to create a second tier above the first. This tier will only contain two layers of diaper rolls. Now, you should only see the very top of the wine bottle.

Step 5: Now it starts to get fun. Wrap ribbon around the center of each tier, securing with glue; glue the ribbon together at the ends, but don’t glue the ribbon to the diaper part. It should stay put if it’s tight enough. This should cover up all the rubber bands.

diaper cake second layer

Step 6: Decorate! I bought some lightweight wooden bug and flower cutouts, and glued them on to the ribbon. I also took baby socks and shaped them into the shape of roses, tucking them into the diaper cake. You can tuck in little “surprises” like baby toys, pacifiers, rattles, teethers, etc. – I used wrist rattles. For the top of the cake, I bought 5 large artificial sunflowers and cut off all but about 4 inches of the stem. I tucked them into the top around the wine bottle top, and arranged them so they looked even. Then I topped it with a cute little elephant teether!

diaper cake decorations

Front

diaper cake decorations

Back

I am still trying to find more easy ideas for “Baby-Que” party crafts and decorations, but I can’t give them all away just yet. Please stay tuned in a few weeks for the baby shower recap!

Lucie’s first birthday party

lucie with smash cake

Well, we went and pulled it off. I’m not sure I’ll be ready to do it again in another year (or ever), but we pulled it off. And most importantly, the birthday girl had a ball partying in her pink bikini and digging into her smash cake (after about 10 minutes of daintily picking the sprinkles off one by one).

I will admit that fell into Pinterest land and started drinking the crafty mom Kool-Aid, which led me to think I could make my own cupcakes, smash cake, and unique party favors and do it all with style and grace. I forgot that I was…me. There was a definite moment the night before the party as I was standing there in our tiny kitchen surrounded by cake mixes, sprinkles, and ribbon where I just went – WHY? But with a little of God’s grace and some help from hubby and mom it came together just in the nick of time.

Family & Friends

We were so touched by how many family and friends came to celebrate with us – many driving from out of town! Our good friends Holly and Heyward were so kind to let us crash the pool at their townhome complex, and the venue couldn’t have been any more perfect for this.

And oh look! My sister and brother-in-law Josh made it to the party! Hehe.

Cake & Goodies

We did make those “beach bear” cupcakes that I mentioned in the first birthday party planning post, since Lucie’s nickname is Lucie Bear. We decided on Funfetti cake mix and store bought vanilla icing. We sprayed them with blue icing color spray for the “water” and sprinkled them with fine yellow sprinkles for the “sand.” Not sure if it’s clear from the photo, but the swimming tubes are gummy peach rings and the “beach towels” are cut up fruit roll ups.

Teddy bear beach cupcakes

We decided to make her smash cake, although after the cost of the Big Top Cupcake mold ($10 at Bed Bath & Beyond) I’m not sure we saved any real money. Besides a hole in the top we managed to cover from icing (from me forgetting to spray the mold with Pam), it turned out great. I would recommend a thicker cake mix for the mold. We used Betty Crocker Super Moist butter cake mix, but I’ve heard chocolate mixes with pudding work well for this.

cupcake smash cake

For a bear-themed party favor, we stuffed candy into empty bear honey jars. I thought I would get all creative and make little bear party hats with felt and pom poms, but I gave up on them after 3 lopsided cone-looking things and a couple of glue gun burns. They looked pretty dapper with just lids and bow ties.

Menu

tortellini caprese skewer recipe

via myrecipes.com

I was a late afternoon party between meal times, so we stuck with finger foods:

Tortellini caprese skewers
Chick-fil-a nugget platter
Jalapeno popper bites
Fruit salad
Veggies & dip

I’m not sure we’d do the jalapeno bites again, but the tortellini skewers were a big hit. I think Lucie even found a new favorite snack.

After it was all over, Lucie collapsed for about 14 hours, we had some pals over for pizza and adult time, and overall had a blast the whole day. Almost makes me want to do it all over again. Almost…

Lucie Olivia Turns One

My baby came into the world one year ago, Friday. A year ago today, Ken and I would have just been just getting home from the hospital and adjusting to life with a newborn. The first few months seem like a blur of diaper changes, sleepless nights, and spit-up stains. I blinked, and then somehow she was already smiling, sitting up, and developing a personality.

“She’s such a…person,” Ken still often comments in amazement. She now has a full-fledged mind of her own, a strong will, sense of humor and intense curiosity about her. Every little thing she does is amazing. Sometimes we will be sitting in the living room watching a movie, and then I’ll realize that I haven’t been watching the movie but staring at Lucie for the past half hour and smiling as she cruises around on the furniture and entertains herself with random objects (usually not her actual toys).

What’s also amazing is the amount of love in her life. We have the most amazing family and friends. They have showered her with love and gifts since she was in the womb. Even people who we hadn’t seen in a long time or didn’t know that well were eager to help welcome her into the world with gifts and kind words.

I try to make a lot of compilation videos in iMovie so that I’m actually doing something with the footage and pictures of her that I collect, so here is one that I made for her first birthday. My sister and her husband Josh also surprised us the morning of her birthday with a sweet birthday video since they couldn’t be there to celebrate with us. It was so sweet they took the time to do that.

Birthday party post to follow soon – consider this the sentimental post 🙂

DIY pest control…with extra EVIL

DIY Pest Control, A Mom Apart

I can has baking soda?

What’s worse than the heat, humidity and smog during an Atlanta summer?

Disgusting, vile, festering cockroaches.

We’ve had a bit of a problem every summer since we moved in to our “fixer” home. For one, our neighborhood is older and very wooded. Second, the folks who lived there before us weren’t exactly the cleanest, to put it mildly. Lucie is also on this “throw all my food on the floor” kick, which can’t help the problem either.

Despite paying an arm and a leg for pest control services, the problem seemed to be getting worse. They recently started to appear in the most horrifying of places. On the ceiling in the bedroom in the middle of the night. In my bath towel. The kitchen cabinets. The worst of all had to be when one jumped out of the freaking toilet paper roll during a midnight bathroom break. I screamed and woke up my husband, who claims he nearly had a heart attack and wouldn’t speak to me the rest of the morning.

Tired of living in fear, I visited my local Lowe’s on a mission. An associate approached my as I stared at the endless assortment of pest poisons, traps and sprays. “Can I help you, “ma’am?”

“I want them dead. I want them all dead,” I respond.

“You don’t need any of these,” he says. “See, I was born and raised in Miami, and we never had a roach problem. Your solution is Arm & Hammer Baking Soda.”

“Ehh?”

“You see,” he continues, “Roaches can’t expell gas.”

He looks around to make sure no one is overhearing this, then lowers his voice. “That means they can’t fart.”

“Oh…”

“So just leave a capful of the baking soda in places where you’re seeing the roaches, or points of entry. Cracks in the wall, under the kitchen sink, on top of the cabinets, behind the toilets. They will eat it and also take some back to their nest. Then they will basically explode.”

“Explode!” Now my face is lighting up. “Sounds niiiice and violent. Let’s do this thing!”

Total cost: about 97 cents. I started putting my plan to work that very night, filling small containers with the baking soda and placing them all around the house. What was especially cool about this approach was that I didn’t have to worry about my dog or kid getting into it or being exposed – it’s just baking soda! But I still had my doubts.

The next morning I found one crawling around on the faucet. But he looked pretty sick. I could see little disgusting tracks in the baking soda traps, which was disturbing in a way, but it told me they were at least interested.

After 2 days – NONE! I haven’t seen one in the house since.

Now that it has been a solid two weeks, I am totally calling my pest control service and cancelling. Who would have thought baking soda!?

I know it seems a little random for this type of blog, but I couldn’t resist sharing this miracle. Are you listening, Mrs. Here’s a Tip?

 

Got my Stitch Fix!

The ever-so-stylish gals at my company have what they call “Fashion Fridays.” Something magical happens on these days. They receive boxes from a startup company called Stitch Fix. These boxes are filled with clothes. Not just random clothes – clothes that are hand-picked to fit their personal styles.

Ermahgerd. I had to try it.

After about three weeks on the wait list, I finally received my “Welcome to Stitch Fix” e-mail. I completed a survey that asked my size, body type, clothing/designer preferences, and price range. Then paid $20. I thought I was being sooo sneaky, by the way, having clothes sent to me at work. Unfortunately that accountant husband of mine caught on to my little plan and the conversation went like this.

Stitch Fix text

MY box arrived yesterday, the same day we had a major client in town for a presentation. I mentioned to my boss during a break in the presentation that my Stitch Fix shipment was sitting on my desk and I couldn’t wait to open it. So in a strange turn of events, she talked my into opening the box in the conference room in front of my co-workers and the client.

Well, we all liked what we saw – well, at least the women in the room who were paying attention. Here’s a breakdown of what arrived in this box of wonders:

1. Blu Pepper Jewel Embroidered Bib Sheer Tank – $40

Blu Pepper White Bib Tank from Stitch Fix

I really loved this one – who couldn’t use a super versatile white top with pretty embroidered details?

2. Lovposh Ophelle Short Sleeve Shirtdress – $52

Lovposh Ophelle Short Sleeve Shirtdress from Stitch Fix

This one was my least favorite, but I didn’t hate it. It actually looked better on. The pattern is a vintage-y cotton pattern.

3. Amour Vert Chartes V-Neck Cotton Tunic Dress – $75

Amour Vert Striped Tunic Dress from Stitch Fix

This one looks like a giant frumpy shirt hanging up, but it looked great on. It’s not Kardashian-tight, but definitely not loose either. I thought the v-neck was flattering. I almost bought this one, but I couldn’t really justify the $75.

4. Collective Concepts Tenaya Sleeveless Pleated Dress – $65

Pleated Paisley Dress from Stitch Fix

I felt like they really nailed my style with this one – earthy, yet girly. Neutral colors. Modest and versatile. You could easily wear this dress during the spring / summer with some strappy sandals or flats, or during the fall with a blazer and boots. I actually wore it the next day at work. I got a lot of “Oh, that’s the dress you got yesterday!” It was pretty bizarre and hilarious.

5. Skinny by Jessica Elliot Enamel Wide Band Ring – $32

Turquoise enamel ring from Stitch Fix

Finally, there’s this super blurry turquoise enamel ring. It was cute. I’m not really a huge accessories person though.

Overall I think they did an excellent job “styling” me! I am limiting my shipments to once a month so I don’t go overboard, but I already can’t wait until the next one. I think it’s the thrill of opening the box.

First birthday invitations have been ordered!

Another thing off the list – even got a 40% off promo code! I love Shutterfly.

Stationery card
View the entire collection of cards.

This is what 1200 calories looks like

SNL "Gap Girls"

LAY OFF ME, I’M STARVING!

According to My Fitness Pal, an app I have been using to track my calorie intake and expenditure, a person of my age/size needs to achieve a balance of 1200 calories per day to lose 2 pounds per week. So for the past two weeks, I have been shooting for this number. If I don’t exercise that day, I need to stay at 1200. If I exercise, I can add the number of calories I burned into my allowance that day.

No problem, thought I, when I was in college I used to live on just Diet Coke, cigarettes, and the occasional granola bar. Piece of cake. 

Well someone is not in college anymore (and doesn’t smoke anymore). Apparently non-smoking grown-ups with jobs and children need to eat food, and even a 1200 calorie allowance has been tough.

Sample menu for one day:

Breakfast:

  • Hard Boiled Egg – 70 calories
  • Banana – 110 calories

Lunch:

  • Homemade spaghetti with 3 turkey meatballs – 259 calories
  • Strawberries (1 cup) – 49 calories

Snacks:

  • Sabra hummus single cup – 150 calories
  • Carrot sticks – 14 calories
  • Costco Trail Mix (3 tbsp) – 150 calories

Dinner: 

  • Extra lean pork tenderloin (8 oz) – 260 calories
  • Texas toast (1 slice) – 150 calories

Total: 1,212
And I’m STILL 12 calories over budget!

It’s been very eye opening to write everything down, especially since I thought I was eating healthy before. So far I have done an ok job with staying on track, except for the weekend my husband and I went on a little getaway to St. Simon’s Island and splurged on Zaxby’s, movie theatre popcorn and wine.

No results yet, though. Clothes are still fitting the same, thighs still annoyingly rubbing together during the long hike from work to the train. I did, however, wake up so sore from kickboxing this weekend I could barely walk. So I must be doing something right?

 

My shister is the shizzle

Why My Sister Rocks, A Mom Apart

My little sister Caroline was kind enough to create an entire post on her blog to give my blog a shout-out. She said I was trying to hide this blog from her but I really wasn’t. She is always doing nice things like that. Her blog is way cooler, because she and her husband (A) actually go on road trips and do lots of interesting things and (B) she is actually a good photographer.

It was their FOURTH anniversary yesterday, and you’ll never find a better couple in matching Chacos.

I miss my sister all the time now that she lives in Austin, especially since she is the best aunt ever and Lucie adores her. Besides being an amazing aunt, here are some other reasons why Caroline rocks:

  • She is naturally beautiful. I have never ever seen a bad picture of this girl – yet she’s not one of those people who obsesses over makeup or clothes. There is just something about her that is radiant, and you can’t say that about just anyone.
  • She is adventurous. She and her husband took off and moved to Portland a few years ago just cause they felt like it. And it’s pretty cool.
  • She is definitely NOT a “J.” My Myers-Briggs type is ESTJ, which basically means I am an ass. The part I hate most about it is the J, which means “Judging.” Now I don’t know what her type is, but I guarantee there is no J involved. She has nothing but love for everyone, which is why she has more friends than pretty much anyone.
  • One time when she was probably like 2 and could barely even walk, my dumb ass almost set the yard on fire but she put it out. True story!
  • She is thoughtful. All the time.

I love you, LiLi!

Baby + Mommy summer playlists

Baby and Mommy Playlists, A Mom Apart

via ohcardigan

If I have ever truly been close to you, I have probably made you a mix CD (or even a mix tape) at some point in our relationship. I am a huge believer in playlists for every occasion, from breakups to weddings. It’s the best form of therapy, especially when combined with running.

So it’s no surprise that my baby has a few of her own. She absolutely loves music, and we’ve been listening to a whole lot of “Kids” Pandora stations so I can familiarize myself with the cool kids’ artists out there. Some of them are so good, I’ll download the albums and find myself listening to it even when she’s not around. I thought it’d be fun to share with you what we’re both jamming out to this summer.

LUCIE’S PLAYLIST:

  • Laurie Berkner Band – “I’m Gonna Catch You” (morning) and “Goodnight” (bedtime). I just love this group for their whimsical, upbeat style.
  • Raffi – Baby Beluga (anytime), Bathtime (bathtime), De Colores (anytime) and “Like Me and You” (bedtime). I remember listening to Baby Beluga as as little girl and loving it. All of Raffi’s songs are so soothing, and I can definitely appreciate how multicultural they are.
  • Alison Krauss – “Baby Mine” (bedtime). It makes me tear up it’s so sweet, but that’s why we love it. Her voice is also just so pure and lovely.
  • Jewel – “Sov Gott (Sleep Well)” and “Sweet Dreams for You” (bedtime). Love her “Lullaby” album.

CHRISTIE’S PLAYLIST:

Any great songs I should add to my playlist? Or Lucie’s?