Amelie’s Panda Party that she didn’t want

You guys, Amelie turned three! Last year, I planned a dinosaur party for her and this year, I decided on PANDAS.

Because! Pandas are so cute! Because “Panda Party” alliteration! Because black and white everything is chic, accessible, awesome and easy! Because I’m brilliant!

Amelie did not want a panda party though. She wanted a “Katarina Kitty Cat/Monkey Party”. Oh, silly toddlers. I forged ahead with the panda theme because surely she could be easily swayed just by using my excited voice: “A panda party, honey! Pandas are awesome! Won’t that be so super fun!?! Everyone loves pandas! Let’s watch panda videos on Youtube and get excited about them! Weeeeee!”

You know what? Amelie is not one to be swayed. She stayed true to her initial request to the bitter end. I had already gotten aboard the panda train (ie buying stuff) and it was too late to bail so I went ahead with hopes the magic of the day would change her mind. It didn’t really and this Mom fail is totally going in her memoir.

Her Panda Party invites:


We purchased the invite file from Etsy and I doctored it up with my crooked handwriting, black and white baker’s twine, black glitter paper baking and, of course, pretty black glitter for the nose.

My recipe for party day decor was simple. Buy die-cut pandas from this awesome Etsy shop. Add black glitter. Put them everywhere.

To this day, I’m still finding black glitter in places you would never imagine…

Remember my pro-Mom tip about doing as much as you can ahead of time? It came in handy again because three major things happened two days before the party: Cade came down with an ear infection resulting in a surprise trip to an after hours clinic and endless hours of me holding him and trying to accomplish everything one-handed, Zack’s original flight home was cancelled and for a frantic evening we thought he wouldn’t make it home for the party at all, oh and lastly? Another snowstorm.

After shoveling for an hour the night before instead of cleaning the house, I woke up to this on Party Day.

snowstormIt’s kinda hard to prioritize last minute party prep when your guests literally cannot make it to the front door. So, another hour of shoveling happened while Zack worked on the food and then I had to take a second shower and redo my hair – another detour I didn’t expect. I’m glad I played around with decorations beforehand so all I had to do was put them up!

Where were we? Pandas?

Ah, yes.


(Don’t get me started on that open cabinet door in the background. I’m a bad picture taker blogger lady.)

I ordered cupcakes from a bakery and sprinkled edible glitter on top (leftover from Amelie’s party last year) and it was totally worth it because I doubt anyone even noticed. I also taped a few die cut pandas to striped paper straws to decorate the cupcakes (more shown later).


I made a wonky pom poof thingy, added two black honeycombs and a big sweet panda to the cluster. Isn’t she cute! Then I strung them up with black and white baker’s twine.


The birthday banner I made! I bought the banner on clearance from Target, then added the die cuts and embellishments. You can’t tell but lots of black glitter was involved.


Detail shots to waste your time:


Turning three!


Plus my go-to tassel garland, which turned out kinda wimpy.


Even our golden stag was in the mood to party:


The party set up:

setupZack served his delicious pulled pork, tater tots, and coleslaw. It’s what we served at Amelie’s first birthday. Always a great party food! Recently, we pulled the trigger on new white dishes from World Market because we were literally chipping away at the old set and it was getting slim. For the party, we used paper plates (Target clearance!) but the reason I mention it is because along with the dishes, I ordered three matching serving pieces to add to my serving collection. I’m glad I did because we always needed an extra service piece so Zack would pull out some mismatched plate for the hummus or whatever and then my eyes would twitch. White servingware makes me happy! Don’t have what you need? Borrow from friends!

Up close, because you have time for this nonsense.

setup2The flatware caddy packets that I put together solely as excuse to use black glitter washi tape because obviously that was a grand use of my time.


Moving on to the hutch! It housed the panda party treat cups and panda crowns!

hutchEach guest got a panda crown (purchased from here)  as part of their party favor. This was taken after the party but aren’t they adorable?


Here are the treat cups up close:


I adorned the pandas with bows: hair bows for the girl treat cups and bow ties for the boys because yeah, I used gender stereotypes to keep myself organized. Probably another topic to add to the memoir!

Inside the treat cups:


Knee high panda socks and panda washi tape. I know! ADORABLE. Just like last year, I kept the guest list small so these didn’t break the bank.

After they pulled out their goodies, a note to thank them for coming:


The reluctant Panda Party Princess. She’s giving me her best fake smile.


She was tired. She’s been skipping a lot of naps since moving to her Big Girl Bed. She started to warm up once her friends arrived.

Little man got panda eyes too – even though he probably had them naturally because he had an ear infection and wasn’t sleeping well either.


Unlike last year, I skipped doing stations. The only thing I offered was to do “panda eyes” for the other kids but no one took me up on it. Ha! I don’t blame them, it wasn’t easy to get that eyeshadow off…

The birthday girl did come around when it was time for cupcakes and the happy birthday song!


To beat the theme to a pulp, of course I had to add pandas to mini thank you cards:


We have so much to be thankful for. It was a sweet snowy day celebrating Amelie, despite the chaos leading up to it. Everything all worked out!

Happy birthday, beautiful. I love you so very much. Next year, I promise I’ll honor your birthday requests. I’m pretty sure I will, anyway.

Easter 2016

Easter was a delightful one. Well, mostly. I had laryngitis and completely lost my voice. That was kinda sad. I wanted to partake in all of the fun but I ended up being a silent observer. Which leads me to my pro-Mom tip: do stuff for holidays, like, way in advance. Luckily, I was overly excited and I…err…consulted with the Easter Bunny…and we put the kid’s baskets together weeks ahead of time. I’m so thankful because all I wanted to do the week before Easter was sleep. Then? A huge record breaking snowstorm hit. I’m talking an excess of 20″ of snow in one day. It was insanity. As you can imagine, helping E. Bunny fill baskets (ie driving to Target in blizzard conditions) was not an option. I spent all of my energy shoveling ourselves out of our driveway instead.

Anyway! The Easter Bunny came!


The baskets were a tad lop-sided but I’m sure next year, when Cade has an inkling of what’s going on, they’ll be even and fair.

The discovery!


Amelie got her first chocolate bunny! Oh how I loved watching their excitement. Cade didn’t much care but Amelie was thrilled!


Of course, I decorated and have a dark photo of it to show you, duh.


A close up of my spring-y tray. I should have ironed the runner but eh, what’s a novice blogger girl supposed to do about it now?


I wanted to show you my outdoor decorations but they were all buried in snow. Just imagine a herd (a posse? a family? a pack?) of bunnies staked into different parts of the front yard to accompany our egg tree and you’ve got it. It really wasn’t that spectacular.

Amelie’s best friend (and her family) came over for a snowy Easter egg hunt in the backyard.


That’s another thing I’m really glad the Easter Bunny did ahead of time – fill the eggs! A squirrel got a few of the eggs but overall, it was a success!

Amelie had a blast, blizzard and all. Cade was indifferent.


And then, Easter was over. But, you bet your fluffy bunny butt I went to Target and Michaels and scored some serious Easter clearance. The end.

Cade Turns 1!

Ok, that happened a long time ago. You know what? I’m the worst.

Look at him, though.


He’s an angel!

We kept Cade’s birthday party very simple with easy food and minimal decorations. We ordered pizza, I didn’t do treat bags and I didn’t bake. In fact, I was barely ready by the time our guests showed up because Cade decided that he preferred to be awake while I was trying to clean the house and snooze through the actual party. It’s probably because he’s an introvert like his Mommy. I kinda wanted to nap too!

All I did was make a little banner with supplies from Target to mingle with our holiday decorations:


Just like Amelie’s first birthday party, I went with a one color “theme”. Amelie’s was a stereotypical pink and for Cade, I picked light teal. I use “theme” loosely because all I had was a banner and some coordinating paper plates. A tad on the pathetic side. Maybe I’ll get more creative for year 2?


The set up. Pretend the only thing we made, the salad, is in the bowl. Imagination is fun!


We hauled in the picnic table and that was a brilliant place for littles to eat at. It was a small party, which suits me and our small house perfectly.


Dad finally had to go in and wake the birthday boy. Poor guy just wanted to sleep. He was groggy and refused his birthday cupcake.


Amelie, on the other hand, shouted “I love it!” while smashing her cupcake in her face. That’s my girl!

Even as simple as it was, hosting the party was more stressful than I thought it should be. It’s hard to get the house cleaned and the food prepped with little ones around. My tips are: do as much as you can in advance and invite great people that don’t care!

Happy Birthday, my sweetie, my lovey guy, my Cadey-Cade. Please stay my little baby forever ever, amen?

Home Sweat Home: Kitchen Ceiling

As I alluded to in the last kitchen post (with much suspense) I checked another To Do off this list…

  • Paint maroon grout (shudders)
  • Fix baseboards
  • Paint ceiling
  • Paint light fixtures
  • Replace kitchen window
  • Replace kitchen window blinds
  • Replace almond outlets with white ones

A Before:


Doesn’t look too bad, does it?

Incorrect. See?


The ceiling was a beigy-yellow and very greasy. Two coats of white paint fixed that right up!


It could have used three coats but who has time for that?

And a useless After photo:


I surprised Zack when he came home from work and asked him to “guess what’s different about the kitchen!”. He wandered around confused and replied “I have no idea but something about the kitchen certainly feels less gross.”


It’s one of those type of projects; lessening the Gross Factor. Well, yet another project I’ve started and completed. Just like Amelie says when she uses the big girl potty, “Yay, I’m so proud of me!”

More home updates coming. As per usual, with every move forward seems to encourage a step back. Literally. A corner of our front step fell off during the massive snow storm just before Easter.



Home Sweat Home: The Kitchen Edging

I’m as shocked as you are that there is a home update to share today! If you creak open those rusty memory banks back to over a year ago, my last kitchen update was quite a big one: we had the kitchen cabinets painted white.

After that big overhaul, the kitchen sat like this for a long while.

cabinets_painted2Let’s not kid ourselves. It didn’t sit *exactly* like this ever again because our house is always a mess. I would say it’s a lucky day if we can see our countertops but have you seen how ugly our countertops are? The maroon grout is horrifying.

Anyway, there still are quite a few To Dos for the Kitchen Phase 1 Redo. I say Phase 1 because I would like it all reno’d in a few years when we can afford it financially and afford the disruption. Right now, that kitchen is working hard for me and I can’t give it up!

I tackled the grubby kitchen edging last week and you wouldn’t have guessed it but by golly, I finished what I started. I’m amazing!

Let’s take a closer look at what I was staring at over my morning cup of coffee.


I primed it and put two coats of pure white paint on it (even though it could have used three) and called it a day! Actually it took me like two weeks but you know what I mean.

A dark After picture coming right up, drum roll, please.


Another view:


Makes that maroon grout even more maroon-y, am I right? Bummer.

In hindsight, I might have considered painting all of the edging/trim in the house a tinted white (like Benjamin Moore White Dove) instead so it’s not so stark but I had the pure white paint on hand and I was not about to buy more. So, at least it matches the rest of the house.

To Dos for Phase 1:

  • Paint maroon grout (shudders)
  • Fix baseboards
  • Paint ceiling
  • Paint light fixtures
  • Replace kitchen window
  • Replace kitchen window blinds
  • Replace almond outlets with white ones

I’ve already secretly crossed another kitchen To Do off the list but I’m holding out on you and putting it in a separate blog post to build drama. Ok?

Also, while I’ve been working feverishly and inefficiently, we hired a professional to help me make some real progress. He started today! My kids were just as excited as I was to see him. Here they are, waiting for Pieter to unload his truck:


Cue the collective “Awwwws”.