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Look Whoo's One: An Owl Themed First Birthday

Sunday, April 19, 2015

I am so excited to share with you Henley's First Birthday Party today!  First of all, can I say, where did the last year go?  It seems like just yesterday I had a tiny newborn in my arms, nursing and sleeping the day (and night) away.  Now, I have this beautiful little toddler (sniff, sniff) who walks, talks, eats, and dances all day, and thankfully sleeps all night.  Time has flown by, but I can say that this year has been the best of my life.  Motherhood is the most precious gift that I thought for some time I would never get to experience.  Henley is the biggest, most wonderful blessing I could have ever imagined and I am so grateful every day that I get to be her mommy.

Anyway, back to the party!  From the time she was little, Henley has loved owls.  It may or may not have to do with the fact that I love owls and have bought owl-themed toys for her often.  As she has gotten older, though, she finds them all on her own and says "whoo whoo" whenever she sees one.  So, when thinking of a theme for her party, it was obvious.  I also knew I wanted the colors to be coral, pink, and gold.  I took to Pinterest to search for pink and gold owl themed parties and found the most perfect invite and matching poster from Prettiest Print Shop on Etsy.

I am obsessed with pictures, so I wanted to have a lot of them on display at the party.  I have loved seeing how Henley has grown in her monthly photos, and I knew her guests would too.  I used my Silhouette to cut out monthly titles to pin with the corresponding photo onto a banner.  I also framed photos to place around the party.  I printed out photos from Henley's Cake Smash and used mini clothespins to attach them to little trees on the dessert table as well.

I made owl tissue poms with eyes and beaks that I cut out using my Silhouette.  I also used the tissue banner that I made for her Cake Smash Photos.  I made two other banners with scrapbook paper that matched the theme of the party that said "Happy Birthday Henley" and "Whoo is One?!", and an owl banner for her high chair that said "Henley is One".

I am most proud of the owl cake that I made for her dessert table.  Henley and I were both sick the week leading up to her party and I was almost going to forget making this cake, but I was SO glad that I did.  Henley's eyes lit up when she saw it and she kept saying "whoo whoo"!  The cake was one of my favorite things that I made and probably the best cake that I have ever decorated...I am soooo not good at cake decorating!

For fun for the kiddos we inflated a swimming pool and put balls in it for a ball pit.  I found an adorable owl piƱata for the older kids to enjoy, which was a hit.  Finally, I made these owl goodie bags for everyone, which I think turned out to be a "hoot" of a parting gift!

Henley's party was a ton of work, especially feeling under the weather trying to get it all done, but it was SO worth it.  Everything turned out perfectly and everyone had a wonderful time.  She may not remember her party, but I know we will never forget it!

How to Take Your Own Cake Smash Photos (For Less)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Lets talk cake smash photos.  We have all seen them: cute little babies diving into their own personal-sized cake for their first birthday.  I think taking cake smash photos is a wonderful way to document baby's first birthday.  That being said, I don't think you need to spend an arm and a leg on a professional photographer for them.  In fact, I KNOW you don't.  I took my own cake smash photos of Henley and I am thrilled with how they turned out.  I made everything for her shoot as well, and I will tell you all about it!

How to Take Your Own Cake Smash Photos for Less

The Setup:

In a room in your home that has the most natural light possible, choose a wall that is well lit, but doesn't have bright sunlight shining directly on it.  This is where you will tape up your backdrop and set up.  If your house is not well-lit, like mine, take to the outdoors and pick a nice shady spot.  I set up our cake smash in my backyard and taped the backdrop to our sliding glass door.

Backdrop:  I bought a vinyl backdrop off of Etsy from Bubblegum Backdrops.  There was a sale going on at the time, so for a 4'x5' backdrop, I paid $48. I plan on using it again, for photos or for party decor, so I was willing to spend the money on it.  You could also buy patterned wrapping paper of your choice or a solid roll of paper for the backdrop for an inexpensive backdrop option.

Flooring: You will also need a solid roll of white paper for the flooring.  I think that white looks best and works best for lighting.  They sell large rolls of white paper at craft stores (I bought mine at Hobby Lobby with a coupon and spent about $5).

You can buy one large roll of solid white paper to use as a seamless backdrop and flooring.  Just tape one end of the roll at the top of where you want the backdrop to start and roll it all the way down and onto the floor.

Baseboard: To look as professional as possible, I bought a 5 ft long white baseboard from Home Depot to camouflage the seam between the backdrop and paper flooring.  This is optional, but for a few bucks, it really makes a difference!

Decorations: I made a tissue banner and some tissue poms in pink, coral, and gold to coordinate with the color scheme for Henley's birthday party, because I was planning on displaying the cake smash photos there.

The Cake:

I made Henley's cake for her cake smash following these directions I found on One Little Project.  It worked perfectly and was the best looking cake I have ever made!  I came terrible at frosting desserts and it was surprisingly easy to do.  It only cost me maybe $20 for everything because I cheated and bought a tub of decorator's frosting at Michael's.  I also bought edible gold glitter for $5 to sprinkle on top.

You can also buy a cake from your local grocery store.  I was at Albertson's the other day and they had mini cakes specifically for cake smashes/first birthdays for around $10.

The Outfit:

Remember that your little one is going to be covered in cake and frosting and that is the purpose of these photos.  That being said, less is more.  For girls, great ideas would be: ruffled bloomers, a romper, or a tutu.  Accessories like a crown, headband, or chunky baby jewelry look great too! For boys: a solid diaper cover, pants, or plain onesie.  You could also have them wear a tie, bowtie, suspenders, or party hat!

I made Henley's ribbon-trimmed tutu (tutorial to come soon) and had her wear a crown headband that I found at Target.  I took a few pictures of her without the cake in her tutu and then changed her into ruffled bloomers that I didn't mind getting icing on.

The Photos:

Take these photos when you have a helper around.  I made sure to pick a day my husband would be home to help set up, manage Henley while I took photos, and to help with clean up.

Make sure to set up and have everything ready to go before you get your baby ready.  Take a few pics of the cake with the backdrop too! Test out the lighting and play with the settings on your camera to make sure that everything is just right.

Get some photos of baby without the cake first...some pretty "before" shots, if you will.  Then, have your helper set the cake down in front of baby and point, aim, shoot!  Take pics from a variety of angles, distances, etc.  Realistically, you have a few minutes before the babes get over it.  Have fun with it!

The Clean Up:

Have a tub ready to go...your little one will be messy!  Take some pics to document the clean up, too.  We have a galvanized metal tub that we filled with warm water and bubbles in the yard to wash up in after the smash and it worked out great and made for some cute photos.

There you have it!  I know that some people spend hundreds of dollars on professional cake smash sessions, but you do NOT need to spend a fortune on these pics.  After all was said and done, I spent about $120 for everything (backdrop, decor, cake, outfit, and prints of the photos), however, you could easily spend under $50 and still get great photos!  I hope this helps and gives you some idea as to how to do your own cake smash photos.

P.S.  If you have a dog, you may want to treat them to the leftovers, like we did with Reese!  Ha!

My Cozy Day Must-haves

Thursday, February 12, 2015

I live in Southern California, and while we may not have nearly as cold of weather as the rest of the country, there have been a few days recently that have been pretty chilly.  It didn't help that our entire family was sick on and off for the better part of last month.  For us, January was all about staying warm and cozy and trying to get well! That brings me to my point... I was recently asked to partner with Parachute Home to bring you my cozy day must-haves.

Parachute Home is a wonderful new brand that features high quality bedding at a more reasonable price than its competitors.  The bedding is all made in Italy, and is of the highest quality Egyptian cotton.  Who doesn't love affordable luxuries, because I do! And, when it comes to comfort and a good night's sleep, even better! These days, I will take all the help I can get in the sleep department.

A warm and cozy bed is a start, but there is much more that goes into a cozy day at home.  Take a look at my cozy day must-haves:

Ultra-soft blanket: I love blankets, and this Threshold Microplush Blanket is one of my favorites because it is huge and you can cuddle up with someone under it and still have room to spare.  I use mine every morning when I cuddle up with Henley, have my coffee, and read her favorite books to her.

Coffee:  Not just any with peppermint mocha creamer and peppermint whipped cream.  My favorite way to drink coffee, complete with my Monogrammed Mug from Anthropologie.

Cute and Comfy Sweats: My absolute favorite sweatpants ever are Victoria Secret PINK Boyfriend Pants. They are so soft, baggy, and comfortable that I wear them almost every night.  As soon as Henley goes to bed, I pull these on to catch up on my T.V. shows, not to mention that I live in them during the winter.

Popcorn and a Movie: For Christmas, we got a Waring Deluxe Popcorn Maker and we use it at least once a week.  I was skeptical at first (because really, do we have room for another big appliance?) but fresh popped popcorn really is so much better (and better for you) than the microwavable kind...I love it! Add a movie or favorite show to go along with the popcorn and it's the perfect cozy day activity.

Cozy Bedding: At the end of the day, I can't wait to lay down and snuggle up in my bed.  I used to go on vacation and revel in the big, comfy beds that I would stay in, until we bought our bed and bedding.  Now, when we go away, I can't wait to get back to my own bed at home!  That's where Parachute Home comes in: their signature set, The Venice, consists of a fitted sheet, duvet, and pillowcases. It is made of 100% Egyptian cotton and stonewashed for a soft, lived-in feel.

There you have it, my cozy day must-haves!  What are your favorite ways to stay cozy in these winter months?

Valentine's Rice Krispie Treat Pops

Sunday, February 8, 2015

I cannot believe that Valentine's Day is this weekend!  This year, every holiday has been extra exciting with little Henley around.  I can't wait to share with you her Valentine's outfit; it is so stinking cute!  I know she's only ten months old, but she is my little love and since Brent works on Valentine's day, she is my little Valentine this year.

To get into the spirit, I made some Valentine's Rice Krispy Treat Pops today.  They are so easy and are sure to be a hit with the kiddos (and kids at heart).

What you need:
  •  5 Cups Rice Krispies Cereal
  • 4 Cups Mini Marshmallows
  • 1/4 (half a stick) of butter
  • Wax Paper
  • 9 x 13" Pan
  • Wilton's Candy Melts
  • Sprinkles
  • Cake Pop Sticks
  • Heart Cookie Cutters
  1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.  Once melted, add in mini marshmallows and stir until well mixed and melted.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in Rice Krispies.
  3. Spoon into the pan and with wax paper, press and evenly distribute the Rice Krispies treats mixture in the pan.  The wax paper keeps the treats from sticking to your fingers.
  4. Let the treats set and cool for 10 minutes, then use the cookie cutters to cut hearts out.  The treats should still be warm enough to combine scraps from the cut outs to make more heart shapes. 
  5. Let the heart cut outs set another 10-15 minutes.
  6. Heat the Candy Melts according to package directions.  Drizzle or spread onto the treats as desired.
  7. Quickly add the sprinkles before the drizzle hardens!
  8. Once the melted chocolate hardens completely, insert the cake pop stick, and there you have i, Valentine's Rice Krispie Treat Pops!