Tulips and Roses and Fun, oh My!

If you’ll recall from my birthday party post, I had made a floral arrangement of tulips and roses to go with my daughter’s spring birthday party. I have always loved simple flower arrangements consisting of a beautiful, low vase with a dense cluster of flowers. The only problem is that these arrangements tend to be very expensive! I wanted to re-create something with this look, at a much more affordable price.

I love tulips.  For flowers, they are one of my favorites.  At the end of winter, I’m always on the look-out for tulips to show up at the farmer’s market.  This is when I know that Spring has arrived!  Since my baby is a spring baby, I wanted to use tulips in the arrangement.  I paired them with roses, which would round out nicely when they started to bloom.

Here’s how you can re-create this look:

Materials:

10 tulips

10 roses

(1) 4″ diameter low glass vase (you can probably use a low cylindrical drinking glass as well, if it is wide enough)

Step 1: Cut all the tulips and the roses down into about 8″-10″ lengths (so that when you put the stem into the glass vase, it will have about 2″ of stem past the glass vase.

Step 2: To re-create the “wrapped vase” look, retain two of the larger and more intact tulip leaves.  Cut off the tip at a bias.  Make sure you don’t split the leaves.  Retain a couple more of the leaves for the end of the arrangement.

Step 3: You will notice that the leaves will tend to roll one way.  Place the two leaves overlapping each other in the vase rolling them in the opposite direction.  This way they will hug the vase and hide all the stems.

Step 4: Place the flower stems one by one into the vase so that the stems form a lattice-work on the inside.  This will help keep all the stems in place.  You can remove and place flowers as you like to make the arrangement as round and full as possible.  Keep in mind that once you let the flowers sit at room temperature, they will open up and fill up the arrangement more.

Step 5: Cut down some of the retained tulip leaves and place them throughout the arrangement to act as a filler and also to break up the colors a little.  You can arrange the flowers ahead of time and place them in a refrigerator to keep their freshness.  It was a little warm in my apartment, so I popped these into the fridge right after arranging them to keep the flowers from filling out too much.  Also, you can pull out the stems here and there to make the arrangement seem more “round”.  If you want, you can add more flowers to make the arrangement more “full”.  In the future, I would probably go with a dozen of each flower so that it looked really “tight”.

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Everybody Polka….. dot dot dot….

Yesterday was the big day! We threw our daughter her very first birthday party and what a blast! It was small and intimate, just as we had planned, but it was also very exciting!

If you hadn’t guessed yet, the theme of the party was polka dots! When I was researching different ideas, I kept coming across polka dots for some reason. Actually, I found the balloons first and thought that they were so cool and just a little different from the normal single color balloons. As far as the color scheme, it’s so close to Easter that everything around me is pastel. I didn’t mind because I felt that this was appropriate for my mood and the party’s theme. I also liked the idea of mixing and matching colors to give the theme more dimensionality.

As I was looking around online and in stores, everything for this party seemed to start falling into place. I found this amazing wrapping paper that had all the colors I was working with, including polka dots! I thought this would be a great base to use for everything. You can see from my previous post that I used this as a background accent in creating the birthday banner.  We also used this to wrap up her presents and decorate the tablescape.

As I was searching for inspiration for the party theme, I came across this theme from Real Simple that really spoke to me.  I liked the combination of colors, as well as the simple and relaxed decor.  I took elements from this idea (a birthday banner with circles, which worked perfectly with my polka dot theme, balloons hung from the ceiling upside down) and applied them to our party.

The tableware was super fun!  I got all our plates, cups, napkins, etc. in all different colors of the theme to add a bit of whimsy and festiveness to the table, which would all rest on a white disposable tablecloth to act as a good background (easy clean-up, very important).  Also, I liked that all the plates and cups were circular and alluding to the polka dot theme.  Too bad I couldn’t find circular napkins!  Finally, what table setting isn’t complete with flowers?  Spring is in the air and tulips are aplenty!  I combined them with roses to create a cute little arrangement.  I will have a post on how to re-create this simple arrangement later on.

And finally, the food!  We were hosting a brunch, which is a whole culture unto itself here in NYC.  People live around brunch and you can be brunching all day long on the week-ends.  It’s such a great way to combine salty and sweet too.  Since there was a lot to do, we wanted food that we could prep ahead of time and still be okay to eat at room temperature.  Also, we wanted the food to be something our little one could enjoy.  I got a wonderful french toast recipe from one of my good friends who had us over for brunch at her place a little while back.  This would be our main.  From there, we decided to have a fruit salad, some oven-roasted potatoes, and some breakfast sausages.  Finally, for dessert would be the mini-cupcakes!

The cupcakes I put a lot of thought into.  I wanted to make cupcakes that were tasty yet didn’t have too much sugar since my daughter hasn’t been exposed to a lot of refined sugars.  I finally opted on a lemon cupcake with a lemon cream cheese frosting.  I will have a post that will give instructions on how to re-create the these cupcakes later.

So much went into this party and I can’t write about it all in one post, but I wanted to give you an overview of all the elements!  I encourage you all to throw a theme party!  Happy party planning!

What you need for the decor:

polka-dot latex balloons

birthday banner

plates, cups, napkins and tablecloth from a local party store

wrapping paper in line with your theme

curling ribbon to hang balloons from the ceiling

flower arrangement

Happy 1-year Birthday!

Today my daughter turns one! I can’t believe that it has been a year already!  So much has changed and yet I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I still remember seeing her for the first time and holding her in my arms.  I know it sounds sappy, and I don’t consider myself to be a very sappy person, but my life changed in that moment and I will never forget how it felt.

In celebration of a year of priceless memories that our small, nuclear family has experienced thus far, we are throwing her an intimate party with family.  At first, my husband and I were going to keep it really low key.  Just a small lunch and a pleasant afternoon.  However, as the time drew nearer, I got more and more excited about the prospect of this milestone and the thought of not doing something celebratory made me sad.  So, I started to look at different ideas on first birthday parties.

I went to a variety of sites to look for “themes” that I thought were simple yet fun.  I’ll blog more about my source of inspiration after the party, so stay tuned!  While I won’t give everything away, I’m giving you a sneak peek of what’s to come.  The photos in this post is a birthday banner that I made for my daughter.  Can anyone guess what the theme of the party will be?  To re-create this, you will need the following items:

Materials:

  • patterned wrapping paper
  • 3 different colors of construction paper
  • cardstock
  • gluestick
  • scissors
  • tape
  • exacto knife
  • flat cutting mat
  • metal straight edge
  • string
  • 2 bowls, one about 1/2″ larger around than the smaller one (I used 2 tupperware containers)

Step 1: Using the larger of the bowls (or whatever circular stencil you choose), trace a circle on the cardstock and cut it out.  These will act as the backing of each letter.  You will need 13 of these.

Step 2: Using your gluestick, glue the circle to the back of the printed wrapping paper and cut it out in the circle shape.  You will end up with 13 patterned circles.

Step 3: Using your smaller bowl, trace a circle on the construction paper and cut it out.  You will need 13 circles and you will want to alternate the 3 colors as seen in the finished photo.

Step 4: If you have a printer, find an easy font to print out the letters to “Happy Birthday”.  You can then cut out the letters with scissors or the exacto on a cutting mat and use it as a stencil on the circles to trace and cut out of the construction paper circles.  I do not have a printer so I had to free-hand the letters with a straight edge and cut them out with an exacto on the cutting mat.

Step 5: Using the gluestick, glue the construction paper circles on the wrapping paper circles, centered.  Don’t forget to glue the inner parts of the letter on these circles otherwise your A, P, B, and D will look kind of strange.

Step 6: Cut out 2 pieces of string, long enough for each word and with about 2′ extra for hanging on a wall.  Tape the string to the back of the circle to fasten in place.

Happy First Birthday my dear and many more to come!

Wink, Wink, Guess Whoooooo?

I had the pleasure of meeting two soon-to-be first-time moms in my birthing class who came to be good family friends and our go-to local play-dates. It’s really quite interesting that all three of us ended up having girls and they were all born within 1 week of each other. Since our daughters have been born, we have made a point of meeting up at least once a month to catch up.  I have dubbed our three girls the “3 musketeers”.  This upcoming week is a real milestone for all of us because our girls will all be turning 1 year old!  Time to celebrate!!!!

I still remember the three of us as moms frantically e-mailing or texting each other, asking if certain baby behaviors were normal (weird sounds – babies make lots of weird grunting sounds, random sleep patterns, endless spit-ups, you get the picture).  To mark their first birthday, I wanted to give each girl something that really spoke to me about them as an individual.  Each girl is so unique and wonderful in her own way and I wanted to be able to speak to their emerging personalities.

This week-end, my daughter attended her first birthday party in celebration of the eldest of the “musketeers”.  I remembered on a number of our play-dates how she had a toy owl her parents would bring with them and I thought this would be a great idea for a hat for her!  Armed with this, I started looking on Etsy and other sites to see what others had made.  Wow.  There is A LOT out there.  I started dissecting the various different “looks” and planning my mode of attack.

Now, I have very particular ideas of what makes a hat successful, based on a number of my daughter’s hat successes and fails.  Living in New York, winters can be brutal (although you wouldn’t know it from this past winter).  My daughter survived on a very simple fleece skullcap all winter and I recall looking enviously at babies who had earflap hats.  They didn’t even have to be that cute, they were just functional!  I was always fretting that my daughter’s ears were too cold, especially since when the baby sits in the stroller in a bunting, the friction between the hat and the bunting as the baby moves her head will tend to cause the hat to ride up and cover the baby’s eyes but leave the ears exposed or pop off the head.  So, I decided.  Earflaps and a tie under the chin to hold it in place.

If you recall from my previous post, I had lamented the fact that the Martha Stewart Extra Soft Wool Blend had such limited colors.  I decided to try the Vanna’s Choice Baby, which is acrylic, instead of wool, and also machine washable and dryer friendly.  It’s interesting because while these two lines are listed as the same gauge (4) and both recommended a 6 mm hook, I found that Martha’s yarn was finer, which means that the hat with Martha’s yarn would have looser stitching and would stretch more.  This also means you shouldn’t use the two together if you want your project to look correct.  In my opinion, Martha’s line felt silkier and softer.  However, Vanna’s had much more selection of color, and you could cross over to her other lines without having to worry about matching gauges of yarn.  This won me out this time.

That being said, I started working on a multi-colored earflap owl hat with ties.  I modeled this for a toddler’s head since the birthday girl won’t be needing this until next winter, so I hope it fits.  Also, I did use my daughter as a size model and she does tend to have a longer head, so I hope that it will fit its owner correctly!  I had some fun with the owl’s expression.  The birthday girl is pretty sassy and has a lot of spunk.  I thought that the expression on the hat should match that of its owner, so I decided to make it wink, bringing to mind her mischievous character.

I did learn a lot from making this hat and I can’t wait to try out other color combinations and other expressions.  I ended up making the horns and eyes at least 3 times before I was satisfied with their size and proportions.  All in all, I’m very happy with the result and hope the new owner is as excited as I am!  Happy birthday girl!

The Mad Hatter

I don’t know about you, but I love love LOVE baby hats. Especially with ears. I think there is nothing cuter than a cute animal hat atop a pudgy round face and two “I want to gobble you up” cheeks!

When I found out I was expecting, I went on a search for cute hats with ears but didn’t really have a lot of luck. I think that a lot of it was a seasonal thing (you’re not going to find this stuff in the summer). Anyways, I didn’t really get back on the hat track until recently. I think that what most inspired me was the winter season and this adorable alpaca mouse hat I found from the Egg by Susan Lazar line. Anyways, I bought it on sale and was SO excited to try it. However, it just didn’t fit For the amount of money I paid, I would expect it to fit!  C’mon! So I instantly began trolling websites and blogs and Etsy to see if there were other options, and let me tell you, there’s a lot of cute stuff out there.  But seeing all of the options left me inspired.  I thought “I can do this too!  And at least it will fit!”

So began my journey down crocheting hats and I must say, I had a great time with the process!  I must have gone to the yarn store about 4 times in 2 weeks.  I swear the people working there knew me.  My first visit consisted of me methodically squeezing every ball of yarn that they carried and then rubbing it against my face to see if it was “soft enough”.  The sales person kept approaching me asking me if I needed help (but probably really to make sure I wasn’t some crazy person about to wreak havoc).  I finally settled on the Martha Stewart “Extra Soft Wool Blend” from Lions Brand Yarn, which is machine washable and dryer friendly (which is a big deal when you have kids!)  The only thing that bummed me out was there wasn’t a huge color selection and everything was fairly “pastel”.  Oh well, this was a test in more ways than one.

I tried a number of different free patterns and finally, after combining a couple and making my own modifications, I came up with a (fairly) good hat shape that I feel is quite versatile.  I realized while making this that it would be such a great baby gift!  That being said, the photos in this post are of my very first hat and mittens set!  I made a 6 month baby aviator hat (no ears… yet!) with matching mittens (no pattern, I just winged it… har har) for our neighbor downstairs who is expecting a little boy in June.

For the mittens, I just chained around and eye-balled it.  I had to try a couple times to make them look evenly sized.  Also, I don’t know if you knew this, but I was always wondering how people didn’t lose just one baby mitten all the time, like when you do laundry and the laundry monster eats just one sock!  Well, I had seen mittens with this long string connecting them and never put two and two together until I saw a kid with some mittens hanging out of their coat sleeves!  This was a huge “AHA” moment for me as I finally realized that a lot of baby mittens come attached so you can string them through the arms of a coat and they will, thus, never be lost!  For the hat, I tried a couple of different pattern (I thought the easiest to understand was here) and then built on that to make the aviator flap with buttons on front.  As I was making this hat, I was already thinking of ways to adapt, improve, embellish, or build on this, and the possibilities seem limitless!  Stay tuned for more hatty fun!

    

The beginning…

Welcome to my blog!  I can’t tell you all how excited I am to be writing this!  Starting a blog has been on my to-do list for a very long time, but up until now, I hadn’t really had an idea of how to pull all my thoughts together into a cohesive subject matter.  What changed?  Lots.  But I guess the main change is that I finally mentally was able to commit to the undertaking.

I really started to think about this once my daughter was born and I began planning all of the cute things I could make for her, or all the things I could teach her.  I guess you could say that my mom was my inspiration.  Since we were able to hold a crayon, mom encouraged my brothers and I to explore our creativity through drawing, crafts, legos, anything our imagination could dream up.  She would help us figure out ways to express our creative outlet, and after a while, it was enough that we had crafts books on hand, and boxes of crafty material in our home for us to use whenever we felt the need.

Growing up in this kind of environment has inspired me to provide my daughter similar opportunities.  These opportunities ultimately resulted in a childhood full of fond memories, of sunlit afternoons at our kitchen table with construction paper, scissors, glue, felt, needles, the sky was the limit!

This blog is an homage to my childhood and the coming memories that I look forward to building with  my own daughter.  I hope that you enjoy our journey!