Some ideas for a newborn shoot with one older sibling....

Trains - 
 Holding, without the potential for dropping -
And a cool announcement picture with date, time, height, weight, and name in blocks.  Plus some seasonal reference via colors.

Valentines Day Favors

I always try to do fun activities for the kid's classmates for Valentines.  Our printer works really well and I just keep a set of blank card stock available for these little projects.  I also have a couple fonts I like, but mostly I find these ideas from other people.  They aren't mine!

Millie signed her own cards last year for her class and they are slinkies.  It says "You make my Heart Spring"
Tessa can't write, but hers said "I'm a lucky DUCK to have a friend like you."  She only had 4 classmates and I got these little ducks at the dollar store.  So each kid got the little bag and the valentine.  It has a momma and 2 baby ducks.  The teacher said the parents loved these and the kids at least have something to play with.  I'm not a big fan of candy for small kids (obviously).

Being not made of money has its downsides, but it does give you the opportunity to really decide what you want to do when you face a room you dislike.  Mirrored wallpaper?  Check.  Ughly drapes?  Check.  Mint toothpaste walls?  Check.  See?

My sisters fought me on whether this wallpaper was cool.  Frankly I'll fight anyone on that.  Anyone.
 But one thing I will give all the wallpaper in my house, is that it is a breeze to take down.  Praise be the wall paper gods.  Honestly.  I took this all down during a soccer game shooting match on TV.

 I considered saving some full sheets (FULL SHEETS!) for my sisters.  But I didn't.  The world shouldn't have mirrored bamboo wallpaper.  I chose a wall color, found some little things at Homegoods (white shelf and the beach painting).  Got a new lamb and hung pictures we already had.  Whew, so much better.

 But my favorite thing is the entertainment center.  It was hard to find one that we could use because of the long sound bar on the middle shelf.  This has 2 drawers, can fit a 45" TV, a DVR, sound bar, 2 baskets, and a play station.  We are ready to go!
 My husband keeps saying he likes this space....I'm sure he's being nice but sarcastic using the word space too much.  Next step is to remove the large curtains, which means we can move the couch back about 6", and replace with some nice blinds that fit into the window.
The kids really enjoyed dressing up with the costume options.  Some couldn't choose between a pirate, pixie, or pan.
 The treasure hunt was in a sand box.  Gold doubloons, necklaces, tattoos, and hard candy were hidden.  They put the treasure in their individualized bags.
 There was a crocodile guarding the plank.  Tick tock.
 And a little teepee I made with dowels, a painters drop cloth, and felt. 
We love Neverland!

Cute invitation idea here, with tinkerbell silhouette!
Need a favor idea - Try a tinkerbell lantern!
Here are more decorations to put you in Neverland!
Main table with the awesome cake, made by Its a Piece of Cake by Maggi in Auburndale, FL.  Central Floridians, they are amazing.
 Here's the cake with the porcelain tink from amazon - hard to find and it was actually broken the day before the party, had to glue it together with gorilla glue.
 Have your own Pixie Stick!
Here's the hand drawn map.  There are lots of things to draw this from out there, I just free handed, then cut out a big directional legend.
 I used black craft paper to cut out huge versions of the characters.
The kids had supplies to be a pirate, pan or pixie.  The wings and hooks were from amazon.  I used paper towel rolls for spyglasses, and made little felt Peter Pan hats with a red feather.
 Here are the lantern party favors.
 And there was a treasure hunt with little bags for kids to collect their "loot".
Cute invitation idea here, with tinkerbell silhouette!
Need a favor idea - Try a tinkerbell lantern!
I made some Tinkerbell caught in a mason jar that glows in the dark for this 3rd birthday party.  We first sprayed craft bond on the inside of each jar.
 Then we poured in some glow in the dark powder I ordered inside the jar.

 It went really well, a little goes a long way (made 12 large mason jars).  And they glow in the dark!  It's awesome.
 This is what the first glow in the dark coat looked like.  Do the glow powder first so it is closest to the light source.  You have to pour into the jar and then shake.
 Next get your glitter (I hate the stuff, but it had to be done).  Spray another light coat of craft bond in between the glow powder and glitter.
Next step: shake.  Lots of shaking.  Spread the glitter around.
Then once that is done you may need to pour out any excess glitter.  Glue the mason jar lids on so kids can't open these.

 End result:

 Like I said, they glow really well.  You can tell your party goers that Tinkerbell is inside this lantern!  Or add your own tag explaining what it is.

See part 1 here.

Reads 1

I read a lot.  And I've been meaning for a long time to document what I've read and how I liked/didn't like it.

So this is a list of books I've finished this year, in no particular order.  I typically read the NPR book reviews and add ones to my library hold list, either in book form or for the Kindle, and wait on the hold list until they tell me I can pick up or download the book.

Well, I didn't quite finish this one.  It was long and kind of uninteresting.  Sometimes I get bored with non-fiction; it did provide a great context for what the civil war was like and how it affects current day social strife and our positions in society currently.

The Double Game - haven't read it yet

 Code Name Verity - This is about a young girl with code name Verity, who survives a plane crash.  Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.  When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance.  However, I sure didn't have a chance with this one.  I've heard only good things about it, but I also couldn't finish this in time!  It just wasn't very enjoyable, and I got lost in the confessional and time splits.

More I have read and finished and liked:
The Orphanmaster
Wild: From Lost to Found
The Uninvited Guests
American Ghost
The Art Forger
City of Women
The Lifeboat
This Is How You Lose Her
Behind the Beautiful Forevers
Carry the One
The Fitzgeralds and Kennedys
No Ordinary Time
Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln
Then They Came For Me
Upright, Locked
Rose Under Fire
The Problem From Hell: America in the Age of Genocide
Z: a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
The price of justice: a true story of greed and corruption
Game of Thrones Series
A Tree of Forgetfulness
My daughter's third birthday is coming up and of course I'm in planning mode.  She has requested "Tinkerbell" so we're doing "Neverland", since I don't enjoy really prissy parties and we'll have lots of little boys in attendance from her school.  Normally I do enjoy making invitations, but I found these adorable invites on etsy and just decided I couldn't do better than a graphic designer for $6.00 for the custom invite!

Shout out to Planning with Love for the awesome work and easy purchase with a quick turnaround.

Next I printed these with shutterfly, since it was .79 cents each cheaper than CVS.  And I bought more A7 (5x7) envelopes on Amazon.  Consider this task accomplished!

Come back for more as I blog about other ideas, like a pirate treasure hunt, a ring toss on Captain Hook's hooks, Crocodile Creek, a teepee, and a Telescope Decorating station


I'm pregnant!  And sick!  So that is why I've been AWOL from the blog for a while now.  I'm 17 weeks and due 11/20, which means that we'll have a turkey-baby.  Lots of things will eventually get done at our house, but for now this pregnancy is kicking my butt.  If you have a semi-normal pregnancy the first go around, try to remember the second one could be anything but.  I'm all normal, medical wise, but the sick feeling is definitely much more extreme, as is fatigue, and aches and pains.  My husband and I think we are having a boy, several friends think it is a girl.  We only have to wait 6 more days to find out!
For the party, I made a skirt for my daughter to wear out of three different red fabrics: large polka dots, small polka dots, and stripes at the bottom.

First, I used another skirt that fits her to measure the elastic and pinned the elastic so I'd know where to sew it together.
Then I used my sewing machine to hem the ends of the first fabric, cut into a rectangle.  I just used a zig-zag stitch with very small width and movement to make it like a serged edge.  I like this method rather than hemming it by folding it because I never get the hem straight.
Here are my machine settings.  Extremely small stitch size and an extremely small width of zig-zag.
See, now that rectangle is hemmed on one side.
I didn't take a picture, but before this, I had made another, wider rectangle from the striped fabric, and sewed a pocket for the elastic to go on.  I didn't thread the elastic through until the end.  Next, I sewed the hemmed fabric onto the base fabric using a regular stitch.  I first sewed it right sides together, then as you can see in the picture below, I folded the fabric over and sewed along the top of the seam to keep the ruffle down.
I used this method for the next ruffle, in a different polkadot pattern for a second tier and sewed that on.  Next I took the elastic and marked where the pin was, then threaded it through the casing on the striped fabric.
After it is threaded all the way through, I sewed it together.
Note, this isn't the perfect way to make an elastic casing.  Since I had sewed the casing all the way to the fabric edge, I had no way to sew the casing shut cleanly after I threaded the elastic, without catching the elastic, so I just didn't.  The fabric was gathered way too much for anyone to notice. It was a big hit and looked quite cute.  Because I used a rectangle shape, the skirt had a pencil skirt shape and stayed down rather than flying up more like an A line or circle skirt. 
Happy Birthday Millie!