Sunday, February 9, 2014

Week 16 Updates

Thoughtful Story:  Today, while shopping, I noticed a young lady in the store with her two kids.  She was allowing them to run up and down the aisles, between the clothes, and kick the plastic balls around on the floor, nearly knocking me and other store patrons down.  Of course, this made me furious, as I couldn't believe the lack of consideration for a pregnant person in the store, especially by a fellow woman who has obviously been pregnant before.  In my anger, I started thinking about parenting and how many styles there are in the world.  "Obviously, her parenting style was 'I like to be my children's best friend and allow them to do whatever they want,'" I thought to myself.  It is so easy to judge, especially as a teacher, because you see how different styles affect different students.  It would be nice if there were a handbook telling every mom exactly what to do, but that is not the case.  This scenario, as I reflected upon it for the rest of the day, made me realize one thing- being a parent is a big, difficult deal.  When you see a parenting style you don't like, learn from it, rather than judging a person for it.  Not everyone is cut out to be a parent, but I am sure most parents do the best they can and try to do what they thing is right.  Ron and I have talked about our parenting style, but I know that is one thing I can't plan.  Nothing ever goes as planned with a baby!  One thing I can promise, though- my child will be taught to be considerate and aware of his/her surroundings, if it's the last thing I do!! :)

Cravings:  In addition to my daily dose of watered down orange juice, my newest craving is popsicles.  I know- strange- especially since it's winter time.  The real fruit juice popsicles are all I need right now. I can hardly get enough of them.

Morning Sickness:  Not any more!! My nightly dose of "morning" sickness has been replaced with indigestion.  You can't win them all!

Weight Gain:  3 pounds, as of today!  YAY!

Energy Level:  Better.  I can finally stay up past 8:30.  On work days, though, I feel like taking a small nap.

Gender:  Unknown, but we hope to find out soon!  I am getting anxious!

Baby Movement:  Every once in awhile, but no hard kicks yet, just "quickening"

Stretch Marks:  None so far, but I am using BioOil and Belly Butter each day and night, respectively, in the hopes to prevent any stretch marks.

Maternity Clothes:  Finally bought my first pair of maternity pants at about 14.5 weeks.  Since then, I bought a few pairs of leggings, a shirt, and a dress.

Overall Mood:  Good, but very emotionally sensitive.  I almost cried at a few of the Super Bowl commercials, which weren't even very sad.  I have NO patience while pregnant and result to ignoring people quite frequently.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

All About My First Trimester


Weird Story:  I could not wait until I could finally share this news with the world.  Mostly because I wanted to start documenting each month of my pregnancy so I would be able to remember each moment and craving.  People ask me whether or not I knew I was pregnant before I "took the test."  To be honest, when you are trying to conceive, you become very body aware, so any heightened sense of smell or queazy feeling makes you think you might be pregnant.  I will tell you there was one moment that stood out to me that indicated there was something strange going on with my body.  One Friday, Ron and I decided to make some delicious dinner and opened a bottle of sangria to help us bring in the weekend.  I typically LOVE sangria, but for some reason, I could not stand the taste of it that night.  All I could taste was orange peel.  The next day, all I could smell was oranges, but we had no oranges, not even canned ones, in the house.  I thought it was very bizarre.  A few days later, I found out I was pregnant. WEIRD.  

Cravings:  Citrus (especially oranges and grapefruits), Fruit, Sandwiches (even though I can't eat any), Everything Bagels and Cream Cheese, and Salty snacks like chips and salsa and saltines.

Morning Sickness:  Such a misnomer for me.  After Thanksgiving, I started getting evening sickness almost every night after I ate dinner.  GROSS!  

Weight Gain:  None.  I lost ten pounds during the first trimester and haven't gained an ounce back.  

Energy Level:  EXTREMELY low!!! I want to take naps all the time.  I am exhausted.  WAY too tired to work out.

Gender:  Unknown, but I have referred to it as a boy the whole pregnancy.  We shall see in March.

Baby Movements:    Week 13 was the first time I felt the baby move.  It felt like a bubble moving across my stomach.  Very strange.  When we had a week 13 ultrasound, I saw the baby spin and hiccup, which was so cute!! We heard the baby's heartbeat and the PA said it sounded nice and strong!!

Never Losing Faith (or Hope)...a TRYING journey to pregnancy

For those of you who read my blog posts on a regular basis, you know that my blog typically features a lot of diy gifts and party planning that I like to share with the planet, hoping that someone could actually benefit from my trials and errors.  For the next few months though, my blog will be chronicling a new part of my life, one that, no doubt, will be filled with immense amounts of planning and DIY craftiness--my pregnancy!!

As many of my followers may know, getting pregnant has been an arduous journey for me and my husband.  We started trying for a baby in May 2012- an exciting process that lead to disappoint as each baby-less month went by.  I never thought that "infertility" would become a word I felt so connect with,  but after about a year of trying, it was obvious that something wasn't quite right.  For those of you to whom conception comes naturally, consider yourself lucky.  With news of any friend's pregnancy came a heart filled with joy, yet a pang of disappointment in myself.  I was tired of sitting and waiting for it to finally be me, so I went to a specialist in May 2013.  I was so hopeful that they would find an immediate "cure" for whatever issues I had, but what I shortly realized was that the various testing they wanted to put me through would be a six month process.  My heart was crushed and, while I still refused to lose hope, my faith was definitely tested.  Ron and I happily went through countless blood tests, ultrasounds, HSGs and other such medical roller coasters, and on November 22, we would find out all of the results and discuss how to best proceed.

God, however, had a different plan.  On November 16, I took a pregnancy test, one I thought was negative, much like the other ones I had taken each month before.  I remember calling my mom and complaining, yelling about how I was so angry with God for doing this to me and asking how I could continue to have faith.  I was over it!  Feeling that good old Catholic guilt for saying such things, I said a little prayer, venting my frustrations to God, hoping he would understand.  The next day, after work, I was cleaning the bathroom, emptying the trash bin and something told me to look back at the test I had taken the night before.  On the test was a faint pink line that I had not seen earlier, one that indicated I was pregnant.  I told Ron, who thought nothing of it, saying it was probably a fluke.  My heart just didn't want to agree.

The next morning, I decided to test again.  Like the other tests, it appeared negative, but after about a minute, a pink positive line showed--bright and strong!  I ran to wake Ron up, who again refused to believe it.  Over the next day, I took about 15 pregnancy tests, all positive.  I couldn't believe it!!  Ron didn't believe it until I went to the doctor to get a check up, and she confirmed the pregnancy.

I am telling this story for two reasons: 1) The Internet can be a dark place for people trying to conceive. There are so many stories of women who try and never conceive and it's easy for a desperate heart to start believing that might be you.  I wish that my story will help restore hope in someone in need, as so many others' stories have helped me to never give up.  2) My blog will now be a place for me to document my pregnancy and baby planning.  In the judgmental world that is social media, please understand that I plan to savor each moment and memory of this miracle I worked hard to create and waited a long time to receive.  If you don't like it, with all do respect, get over yourself.  :)  Thanks!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Perfect Pair (Pear) Bridal Shower Basket

When you're in high school, it is hard to imagine that your life will change drastically.  For me, I had this strange thought that college would be a short pause in my life, and after college, things would go back to normal.  I never doubted that I would marry my first love, raise my own family in Alexandria (where I grew up), and see my best friends every weekend for cocktails or a night on the town.  Little did I know, I would marry a wonderful man I met in college, move to Virginia Beach (three hours away from the family and friends I love), and see my friends maybe 5 times a year.  While all of life's changes are difficult for me to endure, being away from my family and friends has perhaps been the hardest of all, which is why the time I do get to spend with them, I treasure.  Each moment is like a savored piece of gold.

This past weekend, I was able to have a magical moment with friends and family.  Saturday was a action packed day.  Not only was I able to see my family for a Baby Shower celebration, I spent some quality time with some friends to honor Bride-to-Be, Amanda, one of my best friends since grade school.  Amanda is probably the sweetest, most non-judgmental person, I have ever met.  She is a loyal friend who is always there for you, giving 100% of herself in a friendship.  I love having her in my life because she is like a bright ray of sunshine, constantly positive and full of happiness and life.  In addition to her amazing friendship qualities, she is also very creative and a fantastic baker.  Because of her fabulous traits, I wanted to give her a special gift that would show her just how much she and her fiance, David, mean to me.  

David and Amanda are truly a wonderful pair.  He is more serious and sarcastic, while she is bubbly and fun-loving.  Both of them compliment each other, so I wanted their gift to emphasize that.  There are so many products in our world that compliment each other, so I decided to put many of those items in a basket, which I called the "Perfect Pair Basket" (creative, huh?).  First, I made a list of all the things  I wanted to put in the basket.  Then, I went to search for all of the items on my list.  With some of them, you had to get creative.  Obviously I can stick a block of cheese in an unrefrigerated basket for a few days and hope it doesn't go bad, so I purchased a cheese slicer to act as the cheese.  The creamer and sugar were the actual bowls, rather than creamer and sugar.  The fork and spoon were a salad fork and spoon, which, by the way, is EXTREMELY hard to find now unless it is bamboo.  

Luckily, I found most of the products at Target or TJ Maxx, two of my favorite stores.  Once I had everything together, I went to Michaels in search for a basket big enough to hold everything.  I found a lovely, dark wicker basket for about $15.00, but you could really use any vessel to hold all of these objects.  

If you know me, you know that I couldn't stop there.  I used my best friend,, to make pear labels for each of the pairs on the list.  I also included a fictional love story shared by each pair.  I included a sample to the left, but please feel free to download the rest on your own.  I have added them below.

*Just a note, if you decide to use my labels, you may want to print to pages per page because they came out a little larger than I envisioned.  

I then punched holes at the top of each pear, and used ribbon to tie each pair together.  


I hope you enjoyed my latest DIY project.  Have a beautiful day and don't forget to savor the precious moments spent with family and friends during the upcoming holidays.  :)  

 Perfect Pair Stories

Sunday, September 8, 2013

What a Worldly Experience: A Bon Voyage Bridal Shower

Happy Back-to-School for all you Teachers and Parents!  What a hectic time of year for someone like me, a teacher, who is still trying to savor the last days of summer alone and in peace.  The week before school starts, I ponder working on all the little jobs I had planned to finish over the summer, but shopping and couch-potatoing rule all else.  Now that I am back in school, it is back to Saturdays consumed with lesson planning and grading and Sundays for remember the highlights of my summer (and blogging, of course).  Labor Day weekend, the last weekend of the summer for me, was a great one.  I was able to travel home to Northern Virginia, dog and hubs in tow, for my uncle's wedding to Ruth.

This wedding was a weekend event, filled with little details that really represented who they are. If I had to classify them as a clothing type, I would say "classical bohemian" would fit best.  They are well-educated and mature, yet free-spirited and fun.  Two capture these two seemingly opposite parts of themselves, they had two lovely ceremonies: one traditional ceremony at our home parish, and one spiritual ceremony in my uncle's fabulous backyard (he's a landscaper--it's Better Homes and Gardens worthy).  The spiritual ceremony was something unique for me.  I was so happy to experience it.  It really captured who they are as a couple, two people who are of like mind and heart, who wish to pursue a journey through life together.  Hawaiian traditions and Native American prayers bonded us all on their wedding day, making it a memorable one.

Though I could talk all day about the wedding, this post focuses on Ruth's amazing bridal shower.  As you can tell from their wedding, my uncle and Ruth have many worldly interests; they do yoga, drink herbal teas, get acupuncture, read great British literature, walk or bike ride to shops and restaurants on a nice day, and know different languages.  All of these interests inspired me to give Ruth a worldly, travel themed bridal shower.  It fit her to a tee!  Once I started Pinterest searching, I found Rachel's blog was most in line with my vision, even though her shower was a baby shower.  The rest came from my brain and my mom's brain after much thought and discussion.  Find the details below:

The Food

After a quick brainstorm session about the shower, I got the idea that it would be easy to organize food by continent.  We wanted to do one dish per continent, which we originally thought would be easy.  Africa and Antarctica were the most difficult, but we figured it out.

North America

What could be more American than tomato soup and grilled cheese?  Ruth is a (sometimes) vegetarian, so we wanted to have a variety of foods that met every one's tastes.  I got the idea of putting the soup in a shot glass and just sticking a grilled cheese wedge on the outside.  Finding thermal shot glasses was difficult, so after much looking, we decided to get some espresso shot glasses from Starbucks.  Despite the fact that he thought we were crazy, the lovely barista helped us out by donating them to our shower.  :)  Besides, what could be more American than Starbucks?

South America

When I think of South American food, I think of corn and black beans.  Whether Chipotle has corrupted my brain or whether these flavors of continentally authentic, we wanted to go with a corn and black bean salad that had a kick of cilantro and jalapeno.  We ended up with THIS salad, which was delicious and great for Weight Watchers folks.  


With Asia, it was a no brainer.  My mom's co-worker is Thai and makes the most delicious spring rolls I have ever had.  We have had them at a few family get-togethers and they are always a hit.  We decided to order some for the shower and, no surprise, they were the first thing to go!!


For Europe, we decided to go the French route and do two different types of quiche: spinach and lorraine.  That way, the vegetarians and meat lovers would be happy.  We just bought them already prepared from Harris Teeter.  I love Harris Teeter, but their quiche was not the best.  If you have a local Giant, I would get them from there.  They are much tastier.  The spinach quiche we bought from HT was watery.  Oh well...lesson learned.


We went back and forth on what to do for Africa many times.  Because many African foods are much different than the American palette, we decided to focus on certain flavors and make something that would be a hit.  My aunt was inspired by north African flavors and ended up making a curry chicken salad atop bibb lettuce leaves.  It was everything chicken salad should be, and its hidden ingredient, pineapple, surprises you with a burst of curried sweetness.  

Australia/New Zealand

Australia was slightly difficult because many of their dishes are very European due to their English history.  My mom and I were looking for a food group we were missing from our menu and we discovered we needed something "fruit."  After finding that the "kiwi" is a popular fruit in Australia, we decided to do a kiwi fruit salad.  It was absolutely delicious and refreshing. 

Short of doing something with ice, the only thing you think of when it comes to Antarctica is penguins. I have never made a dish with penguin meat and I did not intend to start for the shower.  Instead, we made a penguin relish tray.  I had one at my own shower, but there are plenty of tutorials, like this one, that teaches you how to do it.  It ended up being Ruth's favorite part, being the animal lover she is.  


I decided to do cupcakes for our dessert.  Due to the fact the we were going the vintage route with the shower, I decided to do spice cake, which I feel is very vintage.  I did a Fluffy Karo Syrup Icing with a caramel drizzle.  To add some pizazz, I bought some vintage stamp cupcake wrappers from Etsy.  To give my guests a choice, and also to use the July 4th Funfetti Cupcake mix my mom had, I made "freedom cupcakes" with an almond flavored icing.  Both were decadent and delicious

Travel Snack Tray
To play with the travel theme, my mom decided to get typical plane snacks and put them on a tray as an appetizer.  We had Biscoff crackers/cookies, peanuts, and pretzels.

The Drinks

My family is not filled with a bunch of drinkers, so we did the basics- lemonade, water infused with cucumber, and one alcoholic beverage- red and white sangria.

The Games

At a bridal shower, it is always important to have just the right amount of games.  I say three is typically the standard. One can be done pre-food, one pre-coffee/desserts, and one pre-gift opening.  Here are two of the three travel inspired games we played.  

For this game, I chose different foods and asked the contestants to match the food with its country of origin.  Ruth was the only one to get a 100%.  Woo-Hoo!!

The next game I called "I Do" You Believe It.  It was my own play on true or false.  For this game, I found different wedding traditions from around the world, combined them with wedding traditions my brother and I made up, and asked people to decide which traditions were real and which ones were fake.  This one was HILARIOUS!!! 

For the last game, my mom and I found a bunch of different airline, bus, train, metro, and taxi logos.  We even found airline sound bite on youtube.  As we showed each guest the logo (you can do so on large poster board or on an index card, they had to write down what transportation line the logo matched with.  We decided not to give them matching options, making it more difficult.

The Prizes

The prizes were simple, yet lovely.  I made three continent-inspired gift bags: North America, Asia, and Europe.  I went to our local World Market (BEST STORE EVER!!) and filled each bag with delicious goodies from that respective area.

For North America, we bought banana caramel pancake mix (what's more American than that?), maple syrup (HAIL CANADA!), a small whisk for mixing, Texas Turtle flavored coffee, and a Sharpie mug, that I made, which said "Howdy, y'all."  My Grandma won, and she loved it.  

For Asia, we bought Pad Thai Noodle Meal, Jasmine Rice , Lemongrass Simmer Sauce, chopsticks, green tea, and a Sharpie mug that said, "Ni Hao."  

For Europe, we bought Shortbread cookies, crepe mix, lemon curd, a set of measuring spoons, English Breakfast tea, and a mug that said, "Ciao bella."

I also found some awesome shopping bags from Marshalls that had postage stamps all over them.  For $.99, I bought three and we used them in a giveaway; people who had a postage stamp on the bottom of their plate won.

For the favor to go home, we did tiny care packages, with worldly desserts inside.  We filled package with baklava, date cookies (which are suppose to be good luck for the bride and groom in Canada), an tiny Mexican wedding cafe cookies.  We bound them like an old-school package using twine.  Then, I put little stamp stickers on each one.  I found the stamp stickers at Michael's Arts and Crafts.  They were in a small, duck tape-like roll, which was only $1.99.  It was perfect!  The favors were a hit with the crowd.

                The Decor

We kept the decor simple, elegant, and rustic.  The color scheme was gold, burgundy, and white because they seemed old world, Casablanca-esque.  We kept the flowers within that color scheme, finding great gladiolas and other unique flowers at our local Safeway.  We put flowers in Mason jars.  I found burlap in the children's arts and crafts section at Michaels, which was much cheaper than the stuff they had throughout the rest of the store.  I tied dark twine around the burlap to give it an even better effect.

 Luggage tags, clipped to a string, make for a beautiful sign.  I used Kraft colored luggage tags to make a banner than said "Enjoy the Journey."  I now use it in my classroom- hurray for recycling items.  Also, my grandma randomly had cloth signs for different countries around the world, like you see to the left.  We hung those up around the food table.  They were a delightful, fun addition, but if you don't have any, they are not necessary.  You can use maps and such, as well.

I wanted to make fun centerpieces on the tables to represent elements of travel.  The first one was kind of an accident, actually.  My mom was trying to get rid of her ancient camera and was asking me if I wanted it.  I took a look at it and immediately fell in love with it for a centerpiece.  It looked awesome.  I put the camera atop its case, and put a black and white picture of my uncle next to it.  The second centerpiece played off the element of a "make up" case.  In old movies, you see people with their make-up case filled with lipstick, their finest set of pearls, a powder compact, and a picture of someone they love.  I put all of those items in a small cedar box.  It was adorable.

Lastly, my favorite centerpiece played on the idea of old-school luggage.  People used to pack a ton of books and treasures in their luggage, something we don't do much of anymore.  My mom and I found a luggage box at Home Goods and stuff it with old books, and atlas, a road map, pearls (of course), an old photo of my uncle, a lace handkerchief, and a small mirror.  All except for the luggage box were things my mom had around the house, making it a relatively inexpensive centerpiece.

I hope you enjoyed viewing the shower as much as I enjoyed creating it.  This one was one of my favorites because of all the unique touches you are able to create.  It has been a week since my uncle and Ruth have journeyed down the aisle.  Cheers to a wonderful journey throughout a lifetime.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Unique Wedding Gift Idea: The Date Night Binder!

Most summer Sunday mornings, I wake up, let the dog out, and take some time to reflect and relax whilst sipping my Jasmine Green tea.  It is MY time, without the annoying background noise of basketball shoes squeaking on the floors or the loud booming voice of Stephen A. Smith chiming in about something sports related (my husband keeps our TVs tuned into ESPN at all times), without having to wash a dish or prepare a meal, without having to grade a paper, or write a lesson plan.

This morning, after I contemplated working out, I started thinking about my friend, Courtney's wedding, which was a little over a month ago.  This moment struck me as being ironic because, little less than two months ago, I was sitting in this same position, drinking my tea, and panicking because I had NO idea what to get for my best friend's wedding.  That morning, I had logged onto her registry with a smile on my face, ready to make a purchase and be done with it.  That smile quickly turned into a frown when I saw that, quite literally, EVERYTHING from her registry had been purchased save her Dyson vacuum cleaner (please excuse my odd sentence structure, as I have been in the middle of reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose British voice has somehow found its way into my writing).  Should I have been blessed having won the lottery, I would have purchased the vacuum cleaner, but unfortunately, that has not been my providence.

Anyways, I became panicked.  You may be asking, "Why not get a gift card?"  That is a valid question that can only be answered by explaining that I put undo stress on myself because I want to be unique.  A gift card is simply not unique enough for one of my best friends of at least 12 years.  I started searching Pinterest immediately, which is the craftiest sight I know.  I found a million ideas- personalized t-shirts, honeymoon gift cards (Grrrr!), and some diy wall hanging for their home.  None of these fit my vision...I didn't even have a vision.  Finally, I found something that inspired me The Can of Dates on a blog called My Creative Stirrings.  Her idea, which can be purchased on Etsy, was to print some different date ideas on paper, fold them, and put them in a decorated can.  I thought that was fantastic- definitely something I could work with.

I wanted to tweak it somehow, making it my own.  I knew I wanted to spend about $150 and I knew it had to be neatly organized because Courtney, the bride, is even more OCD than me.  I decided to use a binder instead of a can, and rather than do a bunch of date ideas, I would focus on twelve- one for year month of their first year of marriage.  Here is what I came up with.

I started with a simple binder from Target ($3.00), that had a clear insert on the front.  I created a document using Microsoft Word.  I thought it only appropriate that I use the "Date Night" movie picture as my cover pic.  I changed the names of the actors with the names of the bride and groom.

I then purchased a bunch of sheet protectors to put inside the binder.  This allowed me to keep my printables for each month in tact and it allowed me to put little gifts for each month inside of sheet protector, so that everything could stay together.  Some of the gifts wouldn't fit in the folder, so I also gave them a large box filled with the gifts that were too big to fit.

On the inside of the binder, I wrote a cover page explaining how this wedding gift worked.  For my gift, I wanted to make sure that they took a lot of pictures each time they do each date, to keep the memories.  They will end up needing those pictures later, as a part of their final date.  Please feel free to copy this wording to use for your own wedding gift.

After the cover page, I go right into the date ideas for each month.  I started with the month after their wedding so that way, their last date will be an "anniversary" date.  They got married in June, so I started with July.  Some of the dates had gifts associated with them, and some did not.  On the printables, I put a star on the tops of each one that had a gift.   The ones that didn't I left blank.  See the printables below for the date ideas and associate gifts.

July Date: Make ice cream without an ice cream maker.  
July Gift: Sprinkles

August Date:  Movie In
August Gift:  Redbox Gift Certificate

September Date:  Dinner Out
September Gift: Gift Certificate to a local restaurant

October Date:  Fall day
I found some cool fall festivals near their home, so I used that to create this Fall Day.
October Gift: None

November Date:  Dinner In
November Gift:  Cookbook
I bought them a Pioneer Woman Cookbook, which I found at my local Target for $15.00, but you can choose whatever one you would like.  I just love the Pioneer Woman; that's why I chose her.  You can also gift them some sort of cooking utensil and make them use it on their "date."  That would be a creative twist.

December Date:  Merry First Christmas Traditions
December Gift:  Sharpie Mugs (DIY); their favorite teas.    
I got the idea of making these Sharpie mugs from DIYopolis.  They are REALLY easy.  The mugs were $3.50/each at Target.  I had some Sharpies at home, so I didn't need to buy those.   I did the writing free-hand, but you could always use a stencil from your local craft store.  After you have finished writing, put in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes.  Then, you're finished!

January Date:  Warm-Up with some S'mores and Cocoa
January Gift:  Gift certificate to a local sandwich shop that has delicious warm drinks and a S'mores platter. 
Don't have a Cosi near you?  You can do any coffee shop that serves delicious drinks and desserts.

February Date:  Love Hunt at the Museum
February Gift:  None
February was tough.  I was trying to think of something unique.  Being  from Northern Virginia, we live ten minutes from DC, but we never enjoy the perks.  I thought of using the museums and making them go on a DC scavenger hunt, but it is far too cold for that.  Oddly, yet thankfully, I found THIS online and decided to use it for the date.

March Date:  Lucky in Love 
March Gift:  None
I just thought of this, but it would be an awesome idea to give them lottery tickets or lucky pennies...something that symbolizes luck.

April Date:  Game Night
April Gift: Board game
Choose whatever game you would like.  This is one of the last gifts I got, and I was running into my $150 limit, so I went to Five Below and purchased a game there.  Target has some really cool games like Battle of the Sexes.  

May Date:  Plant a Garden
May Gift:  Packets of Seeds
I got herbs for this date, but you can choose anything you want.  If the bride and groom have a huge backyard, then you can gift them huge bulbs or a gift certificate to Lowes/Garden Center.  

June Date:  Anniversary Date
June Gift:  Gift card to Shutterfly
Throughout the year, the couple was asked to take pictures of their dates.  On this date, they will be using those pictures to create a photo memory book.  Not only will this allow them to treasure the memories from their first year of marriage, it will also be a wonder first anniversary (paper) gift! :)

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like help with doing one of your own.  I made all printables using PicMonkey.  

As I sit here, this Sunday morning, almost finished with my SECOND cup of tea, my relaxation has suddenly been shocked by the thought that I have a wedding to go to this coming weekend and I have NO gift.  Back to Pinterest I must go.

Plus, I hear ESPN-like sounds coming from my bedroom.  Reflection time is OVER...

Monday, July 8, 2013

Bridal Shower Boardwalk Style!!

This post is long overdue.  One would think that being a teacher and having the summers off would free up a lot of time for blogging.  Unfortunately, I have been planning countless parties and yet another bridal shower, which has left little time for my writing desires.

Anyway, this shower I am presenting to you now was for my cousin, Heather, who is actually getting married in a little less than two weeks (in Florida, which will be wonderful!).  She got engaged to her fiance, Jake, in Cape May, which is a boardwalk town.  Lisa, one of the matrons of honor, (the other being me) came up with the idea to use the boardwalk as a theme for the bridal shower.  GENIUS!! Or so we thought.  I went to Pinterest to find some cool boardwalk ideas.  I suppose some think that "boardwalk" is synonymous with "carnival," so needless to say, I got a lot of carnival ideas that were less than fancy enough for a bridal shower.  So, needless to say, we have to start from scratch.  Heather, the bride-to-be, is not a particularly traditional bride.  She is fun-loving and playful, so I wanted to use those elements in the shower.

The Food:

The food was the easiest part of the shower.  Thinking about the boardwalks I have been to (Ocean City, Rehobeth, Virginia Beach), I imagined the store fronts that line the wooden walkway, usually selling popcorn, sweets, barbeque, sandwiches, and french fries.  Inspired by those store fronts, I create fake store names and printables, which I put in frames and placed around each "store's" food.

The first was Lisa's Sweet Shoppe.  I named it that because Lisa was inspired to make some delicious custard cupcakes for the shower.  In Lisa's Sweet Shoppe, we had the custard cupcakes, peanuts, apothecary jars filled with gumdrops, homemade mini pretzels, and little triangles of kettle corn (a BIG hit with our smaller guests).  My aunt found the small plastic beach bins at her local Christmas store, which I have been told is "like the Dollar Tree on steroids" (her words exactly).  They were extremely cheap and could be reusable.

Next, we had Surfer Sammy's Sub Shop.  In the interest of time, we decided to buy $5 foot longs from Subway and just cut them into small finger sandwiches.  This turned out to be very helpful and easy.

Another shop was Sweet Baby's BBQ.  We wanted something really authentically boardwalk, yet something with a large quantity, since we were feeding 30 people.  We decided on BBQ.  We picked up BBQ pulled chicken and coleslaw from our local Red, Hot, and Blue and bought our own buns, since we wanted a smaller size than the ones provided by the restaurant.  Heather's aunt from her mother's side made an excellent Three Bean Baked Beans, which were amazing!

We had a lot of hearty food and we wanted to do something a little lighter.  We wanted to incorporate a salad and some fruit, so I decided to make a store front printable for a Farmer's Market.  We made a delicious BLT salad and had two fruit trays from Whole Foods.

The Drinks:

I was kind of at a stand-still when it came to the drinks.  I knew that we would have the typical bottled water and soda, but I wanted to incorporate something that was uniquely Boardwalk as a signature drink.  I thought, "How about lemonade?"  Who has ever been to a boardwalk that doesn't have a lemonade stand somewhere?  So I made a store front printable for Rascal's Lemonade and Corn Dog Stand.  Lemonade and Corn Dogs, you may wonder.  Well, to me, the boardwalk is always filled with restaurants and stores that always have a random mix of things, so I concocted Rascal's.  For the non-drinkers, we had raspberry and regular lemonade, which we simply made using Crystal Light Powder packets.  For the adventurous drinks, we had Spiked Arnold Palmer, which is a concoction of half a handle of Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka, a pint of fresh brewed tea, two containers of Simply Lemonade, and a lot of ice.  I had many people asking me for the recipe before they left.  It is a good choice, especially for those who don't like the "alcohol" taste.  Of course, we also had to make pigs in a blanket to represent our "corn dogs."  Those acted as an appetizer of sorts.

The Decor:

The decor was the hardest part to do.  How does one incorporate boardwalk without spending an arm and a leg?  I thought out incorporating the wood from the boardwalk.  I used that as a centerpiece.  I purchased two fencing boards from my local Lowe's for a whopping total of $3.42.  I had one of the workers cut the board into thirds, so they would be a good centerpiece size.  They were typical fresh wood yellow and I wanted them to look more aged and weathered, like wood from a boardwalk.  When I got home, I put some steel wool in vinegar overnight.  The next day, I brushed the vinegar substance on my planks and let them sit outside for a day.  That night, I let some tea seep all night long. The next morning, I took my tea and brushed it on the wood.  That process allowed me to achieve the weathered look I wanted.  Since we were only using three tables for seating, I only needed three centerpiece planks.  I decided to write words on the planks, which, when all three planks are put together, state a love quote  (SSSShhhh, I am giving them the wooden planks put together as a wedding present that they can put on their wall).  

I knew I wanted to put a mason jar filled with oranges and white flowers on each the planks, but I felt they needed something else.  While at my local AC Moore, I found some mini Adirondack chairs.  I thought they would be perfect.  I bought six (two per table) and spray painted them teal, since the colors of our shower were teal and orange.  It ended up working perfectly.  

Lisa also added a beautiful touch to the shower by purchasing this pennant banner for the wall.  

The shower turned out to be so wonderful and everything I expected.  I can't wait to see how this wedding will turn out.  I know it will be beautiful, and I must admit I am looking forward to the mini vacation.  Until next time...