Eden’s First Birthday Party!!!

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So we are all aware that the first birthday party, while a big deal, is really all for the mom. I decided to just embrace this fact. Keep in mind, that after this, Eden will actually have some opinions in the matter. This one is the only birthday party that I really get to hijack and make all my own. And it was amazing.

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As many of you know, I am a huge Phantom of the Opera fan. My dad took me to see it for the first time when I was 11, and I have been in love ever since. In fact, Music of the Night was the first song Eden ever heard. I played it for her in utero and even had the album playing in the delivery room (after I got the epidural and just wanted some rest). I also play it for her sometimes to help her go to sleep (especially during the really terrible reflux nights…) So it was only fitting that she have a Phantom of the Opera themed First Birthday Party. Complete with candles everywhere.

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And since we are already embracing the fact that this party is really for me, I decided it should be a Masquerade Ball. Yep. Completely over the top, and wholeheartedly unnecessary. I accept this.

My inspiration for the colors and decor came from the Masquerade scene from the musical, and decided to go with black, silver, gold and pale pink for the colors.

One of my favorite party things ever is a photo booth (clearly very popular right now) and since it was a Masquerade Ball, it was only fitting that everyone get to make their own mask at the party. Mine clearly had to be outstanding, so I made mine a week or so before the party. Ornate and over the top, coming right up! I went on Pinterest to find a few ideas for centerpieces and masks.

The centerpiece for the table I made using a wine bottle, gold spray paint, pink tulle and lots of frilly things. Jd made all of the food for a French theme with beef wellington bites, spinach artichoke dip, and some delicious cupcakes for dessert! He also put together a pitcher full of our favorite drink, the Gin Gin Mule. So tasty… I had great fun arranging all of the champagne glasses with little pink tulle bows on them :)

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For the guest masks, I kept it simple. Just a handful of assorted colored basic masks. To decorate, guests had the option of using metallic sharpies, feathers, sequins, and glitter.

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The photo booth was a huge hit and so simple. We hung a big black table cloth as a backdrop, and added a frame that my friend gave me and I spray painted gold. Add a few feather boas and personalized masks, and you have a photo booth!

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Eden adored her frilly gold dress! She just loved prancing around in it and playing with the skirt.

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And she loved having all of her little friends there to play with. They were just adorable!

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You can’t have a first birthday party without a cupcake smash…

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 And here are a few more pictures from the evening for you to enjoy!

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2×4 Fall Pumpkins

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So my friend Jena was surfing Pinterest one day and discovered all these super fun crafts made out of 2x4s. They were so adorable, and seemed really simple, that we decided to try a few. Now, she made her set of pumpkins first, so I have stolen a few of her tips to pass on to all of you. Also, here is the original blog post where we got all of our directions.

What you will need:

  • 2×4 cut into 3.5″, 6″, and 8.5″ blocks.
  • orange and brown craft paint
  • paint brushes
  • sandpaper
  • jewelry wire
  • raffia or ribbon
  • pieces of a branch to make “stems”
  • wood glue or hot glue gun
  • paper towels

Our hubbies were nice enough to do all the cutting for us :) Now, you do have the option before proceeding to drill a hole in the top for your stems, but I ended up feeling like this was an unnecessary step (more on that later).

Before painting, we took our blocks outside to rough them up a bit. This actually seemed to work a lot better than a sander or sanding paper. We just used the concrete in the driveway to rough up all of the corners and edges. Just enough to give them a slightly softened look.

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Next comes paint. I tend to like my colors to be a bit darker, so I chose a more burnt orange for my pumpkins. Jena preferred a happier, brighter orange.

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After the coat of paint, you want to sand the blocks a bit, especially at the edges and corners, but also the face of the blocks. Just remember that anywhere you sand and can see natural wood, is going to soak up the brown wash in the next step.

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Brown-washing something is pretty easy really. In a cup, mix a nice sized blob of paint and a little bit of water. The more water you have, the less potent your brown wash, and vice versa. Just paint the wash onto your blocks and give them a minute or so to soak in. The longer you let it soak, the darker they will be. After letting them soak for a minute, go ahead and wipe all the excess off with a paper towel or rag. Again, I prefer mine a bit darker, so I ended up doing a second coat because I wanted them darker still.

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Next come the stems. If you drilled a hole in the top, use the wood glue to put down in the hole and then stuff with your stem. If not, just hot glue the stem on the top.

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Side note: I ended up liking these so much, and they were so easy to make, that a few girls and I made 8 sets for our MOPS Harvest Brunch to be table centerpieces and door prizes. During our mass assembly, we had some with holes drilled, and some without. We ended up deciding that without was easier and saved us the step of drilling the holes, having to whittle down then end of the stem to fit, and then gluing them. We felt they were just as secure when using a hot glue gun and it was much quicker.

The jewelry wire part is super easy, but slightly time consuming (if you are making 8 sets, that is…) I wrapped the wire around the stem first, and then used a pen to curly cue the wire ends. You just wrap it around the pen, and then pull the pen out through your curls. It is easy to adjust how tight the curls look, just wrap it closer together on the pen for a tighter look.

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The final step is just tying the raffia/ribbon to the stem. The original post had both, but I felt it looked simpler and less cluttered with just raffia. I used some left-over green raffia from my “Boo” sign to achieve the same green stem effect. I just love how they turned out!!

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Price breakdown: $2 for wood, $2 for jewelry wire, and $2 for sand paper. Add about $10 if you don’t already have craft paint, and raffia.

Have you made any fall crafts lately?

Belated Halloween Fun

Just a quick blurb of a post for you! But here is the “Boo” sign I made for Halloween!

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I saw this idea on my friend’s Instagram feed, and just loved it. So, of course, I wanted to make my own.

Well, it is super easy, let me tell you. I bought my letters from Joann Craft, and I think they are around $4 ea, and they always have great coupons. I realized in the store that the “O”s looked a bit like pumpkins, so decided to go that route. Hence the green rafia (i.e. “stems”).

The first step: paint the “B” black. Super easy, right?

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Next step: Paint the “O”s orange. Again, doesn’t get any simpler than this. I already had some craft paint in my stash that was a burnt orange so I went with that.

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Step three: Paint the pumpkin stripes. This step took me a few tries, but I got it right in the end. At first I wanted to paint the stripes black. That was a terrible idea. They ended up looking like basket balls. So I started over and tried with brown paint. Once again, way too stand-outish. Then I ended up layering the original orange paint on top while the brown stripes were still wet, and voila! Pumpkins!

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Step four: Use raffia to connect pumpkins. I’m still not super crazy about how this turned out. Because of where the “O” loop connects, they ended up hanging a little bit crooked, but I think I am the only one that will ever really notice, so oh well. For this step, I just wrapped the raffia around each letter to have them hanging from each other, tied it at the back and hot glued it for security. Then I made some bows out of the raffia and hot glued them on top.

And now you have a “Boo” sign :) See how the green raffia makes the “O”s look like little pumpkins? Love.

For those of you interested in a cost breakdown, the letters cost about $4ea, craft paint about $1-2ea, and raffia was around $3 for a bag of green raffia. So if you didn’t have any of this on hand already, it might run you about $20 total and that would probably include a cheap set of paint brushes too. If you have Joann or Michael’s coupons, that may be even less. All in all, a fairly cheap craft.

I loved this super easy craft, and it looked so cute! One idea I might end up adding next year is some type of bat to the “B”. What kinds of crafting have you been up to lately? Don’t worry, I have a few more seasonal things to share with you soon!

Moms Can Climb Mountains Too…

So, I am quite the delinquent and owe you a post on my baby free adventures! For my first night away from Miss Eden, I decided to go climb a fourteener. In the snow. Yup.

I had the idea a little while back that just because I couldn’t go backpacking with Jd, didn’t mean I coudn’t go. I just couldn’t take him and the baby. So I thought to myself, “Self? Who likes to hike and camp and stuff? Caitlin. Caitlin absolutely likes these things.” So Caitlin and I decided to take a girls only camping trip.

We chose Mt. Beirstadt because we had heard good things about this mountain and its gorgeous climb. And it randomly turned out that some friends of hers from college had been wanting to do a girls trip too. So we got our little gang together, Caitlin and her friends Rachel, Jacquie and Meghan, me and my friend Alice and headed towards the mountain.

As we are driving out there, the wind is picking up, the temperatures are dropping, and its starting to snow. Now I am thinking to myself, “Self. This was a terrible idea.” We get to the campsite after dark, and have a few beers and some delicious smores. Now time to set up the tents. Rachel and Jacquie had already been there since the afternoon (they met us coming from Denver) so they already had their tent all set up. As Alice and I are setting up our tent, I had a super awesome realization. I forgot the tent poles. Fail. Fortunately, we were car camping not backpacking, and Jacquie and Rachel had plenty of room in their tent. Alice and Megan bunked together, me in the other tent, and Caitlin in her truck camper shell with her furry companion, Bonzo.

The next morning, we all got up for some breakfast and lukewarm coffee and then headed to conquer the mountain.

Mt. Bierstadt herself.
(Photo crediit goes to Caitlin)

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Be sure to note this little lake, you will see it again later…

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The climb was just gorgeous. Bonzo was a great help to a few of the girls, helping pull them up the mountain :)

Now, if you get a group of girls together for an overnight camping trip, awkward moments are most certainly going to happen. Especially if you bring along a breastfeeding mother. So, if this is TMI for you, just go ahead and skip to the bottom ;) Since climbing the mountain took pretty much all day, I ended up needing to pump on the side of the mountain. In freezing weather. With plenty of other people also climbing the same mountain. So, I did the best I could, and went to hide beside a boulder. Fortunately, I had a hand pump and had brought along an army chick, who provided me with this lovely camo blanket to hide behind. Caitlin didn’t really help much, yelling up to me and drawing plenty of attention from fellow hikers to the awkwardness that was that mom moment. It was so amazingly awkward, I insisted on a photo. The things I do for my daughter :) I may or may not be a bit proud of this dedication to breastfeeding…

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For the record, it was bitterly cold.

But, after several hours of climbing, we made it to the top! And the views were spectacular.

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Totally worth all the hard work put into getting there. So here are a few shots for you from the summit, look closely for that little lake! Just beyond that is the parking lot where we started!

Photos courtesy of Caitlin, my phone coudn’t handle the cold lol

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And now, for the long road down. Personally, I think the downhill can actually be harder. It is far more demanding on the joints of your body… Everyone’s knees were pretty much dying by the time we got back to our cars. And because we all love picutres, here are a few shots of our little group from the hike… Again, these are from Caitlin…

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It was pretty much an amazing trip. Great group of girls, and gorgeous scenery. How can you go wrong?!