event planning

A 3rd Birthday Party Animals Celebration


Welcome back to the blog! We’ve had a lot to celebrate around here and it’s kept me busy. From birthdays to Mardi Gras to finally painting my living and dining rooms, I’ve been on the go, but I’m glad to have the chance to sit down and share with you the party animal celebration we recently held for my youngest son.


We managed to keep it simple, sweet, and handmade. The party was held at my home and we included a handful of family and friends. The kids entertained themselves in the backyard and came inside briefly to eat cake and ice cream.  Planning on this, I kept the decorations simple, yet fun.


After posting several fun ideas for a handmade banner, I chose to use what I had:  leftover striped party favor bags, washi tape, and baker’s twine (tutorial coming soon).  The bags are originally from Target and were stashed in my party box.  I realized they were the perfect size for a banner and would prevent me from spending the time cutting out scrapbook paper.


I decided to go with a homemade cake and store-bought cupcakes with the intention of topping the cake with “party animals,” i.e. plastic animals with party hats.


It was fun to accessorize the little woodland forest animals. Completely unnecessary, but fun.  Using wrapping paper and a mini pom-pom garland I already had, I cut out small bits of paper, folded them into party hat shapes, secured with a hot glue gun, and glued a colorful pom on top. They were easy and fun to make and really made the cake.


Since the cake toppers had party hats, the kids needed them, too, right?  Instead of making these from scratch, I found pre-made party hats at Target and Hobby Lobby and embellished them with rick-rack, pom-pom garland, and poms on the top. I added a hot-glue glitter three on the birthday boy’s hat.  Again, the hats were quick and easy to make and turned out really cute. The kids all wanted to wear them when they ate their cake and ice cream!


The birthday boy enjoyed his hat and kept in on for quite a while!


I didn’t get around to making the gummy animals for the birthday party, so I decided to make them for the low-key class party.  Using gumdrops, mini M&Ms, and a mini tube of icing, I created these cute characters  you see above.  My favorite may be the turtle and the duck!


Placed on top of store-bought mini cupcakes they look even more precious, but not too precious to eat! Most of the 2 year olds in my son’s class ate their gummy animal along with their cupcake.  They were a hit and I will definitely make them again!

The party animals theme proved to be a fun and simple one to pull off. I had a fun time planning and preparing for this party and the kids (and parents) all seemed to enjoy themselves, which is what it’s all about!

event planning

Party Animals!

It’s February! In our house, this means its time to celebrate my No. 2 – one of the sweetest little guys you ever will meet. I’ve written before about his nursery and transition to a big boy room (still getting around to that final room reveal post), but at the end of the week he’ll turn three, so right now I’m focused on planning a sweet, simple, and fun afternoon party for family and friends.


I love planning events for children – it’s just fun to make things fun for them! Sometimes I have a party theme in mind and other times I’m inspired to create a theme based on a photo, activity, color scheme, or any other random element that catches my eye. This past December, I found this adorable photo of a gummy animal menorah in a magazine. My first thought was that the little gummy creatures would be adorable on a birthday cake, so I tore out the photo with this party in mind.


Planning with these little cuties in mind, I decided to go with a party animal theme. I found these fun invitations on minted.com and personalized them for my own little cutie’s birthday.


And what’s a party without a party hat? For children


…and animals, of course!


Any good party needs some fun and festive, DIY garland. There are so many options, it’s easy to go overboard!


This beautiful mix of pastel and foil strands courtesy of the always fabulous Martha Stewart.


An equally cute and perhaps less time-consuming option, thanks to Jones Design Company.

Let’s not forget the food. Along with veggies and fruit, frosted animal crackers and goldfish are kid-pleasing favorites and will tie in well with the theme.  I also love the idea of animal shaped PB&J sandwiches for picky eaters.


These dipped oreos aren’t animal-themed, but the colorful sprinkles make a festive addition to any party.  They would also be super-cute to send for a school party treat instead of cupcakes.


And finally, favors.  I’m not a huge promoter of party-favors, but these DIY animal-topped jars are pretty cute.  You can fill them with a variety of treats if the kids are too young for gum, and the jar can be reused to house a variety of trinkets and treasures. Perfect for have boys who love to collect rocks and bugs and equally as cute for little girls’ baubles and bracelets.


It’s completely unrealistic for me to think I will accomplish all of these projects before the party on Sunday, but it’s fun to dream a little and have some inspiration as I’m preparing and decorating. I’ll let you know what I do accomplish and be back soon with photos of the day. I hope this post spurs your imagination as you plan future celebrations for any littles in your life. I always strive to find a balance between making my kids feel special and not going overboard when planning their parties, probably erring on overboard more often than not! Here’s to keeping parties simple, fun, and kid-focused!




…and make it your ambition to  a quiet life, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands…

These words, found in Thessalonians 4:11 -12, have been running through my mind lately anytime the conversation turns to resolutions.  There was a time when I made resolutions for myself and strictly stuck to them.  Giving up carbonation my sophomore year of high school just to challenge myself?  Check. Being a nazi about how many miles I ran a week? Done that too.  All in the name of personal improvement.

But in recent years – since getting married and having kids – it’s so much harder for me to stick to personal goals, I suspect due to my somewhat serious case of mom-guilt that makes me feel like a jerk when I spend time on myself.  I know I’m not alone here, but lately I’ve been thinking about personal goals – for my career, for my health, for my family, for this blog.  I’ve resisted the urge to write them down and make them specific.  I prefer to keep them swirling around in my head.  Goals, I call them. Goals, not resolutions. Resolutions are too strict and permanent.  They have no room for the twists and turns and unexpectedness of life.  I would feel like a failure for breaking a resolution, but a goal can always be re-routed and carried over to the next year. Life happens, you know?  Goals have room for grace.

So what does all this have to do with design? I keep asking myself the same question.  Why did I start this blog? Is it important? Is it making a difference?  My answers to those questions trace back to those opening words.

lead a quiet life

Believe it or not, my goal for this blog isn’t merely to showcase our design work. Sure, that’s part of the purpose, but not the main goal.  What I hope you really glean is the feeling of comfort and quiet that our rooms tend to generate. If anything, I hope our work emanates peace and tranquility – a quiet life – in the midst of the everyday chaos we all experience.

mind your own affairs

In terms of blogging, I struggle with this one.  I fully realize that following and commenting on other blogs, sharing via social media, and virtually “connecting” with others will grow this blog.  But, you know what?  It feels so insincere and fake to “connect” with the underlying purpose of increasing my own blog traffic. I feel a little self-promoting even sharing posts on my personal Facebook page.  I secretly hope people will stumble on this blog, feel a connection, and start following and commenting.  Maybe that’s unrealistic. Do any of you struggle with this?

What I think I’m getting at is that I desire for our work and our words to be sincere.  That we will not get caught up in design trends, but listen to our clients.  That we won’t provide content that is popular for the sake of a few more “likes” and “shares” on Facebook.  That we will continue to be true to ourselves and that beauty will flow from that truth.

work with your hands

Literally and symbolically.  One of the most satisfying parts of this adventure is the search – the hunt, if you will. It requires us to get off the computer, get out and about, discover new places, meet new people, and experience life. We take great care to get to know our clients and source pieces that fit each of their lifestyles. Often, we get creative – remaking,  reinventing, repurposing the old into something new.  It’s life-giving to each piece, to the project, and to our spirits. And finally, putting a room together for the first time really is invigorating and exciting.  To see all the things we’ve collected  come together, to work out a room so it is both practical and pretty: gathering. This is what we love doing.


So somehow, in some little way, I hope this blog makes a difference.  It is my goal that it inspires you (and me) to look for peace, joy, and love amidst the craziness of life.  It is my goal not to focus on blog stats, but to be true to myself and sincere in content.  It is my goal to do more working with my hands – to delve into the real relationships that the hunt brings about and to gather graciously so that all feel welcome.


Design Crush DIY: Greeting Card Art

So glad to have you back for Design Crush project No. 2.  Today we’ll put those cute and clever greeting cards to use. Here’s the Rifle Paper Co. card that inspired this project for updating the art in my master bedroom.


A clipboard is a cute and easy way to display cards, but I bought this card with another idea in mind.

Here’s the artwork above the bed that needed a little tweaking.


It took me the longest time to decide what to hang over the bed.  The wall needed something extra due to the ceiling height, but  a large piece of artwork would compete with the bed frame. So, I dusted off some old frames, popped in some scrapbook paper, and painted our initials. That was three years ago.

However, something about the “A” had been bothering me for awhile, and when I recently found the Happily Ever After card, I knew it would be the perfect piece to make a subtle yet satisfying change.


Once you have your framed paper ready, it’s easy to create




Framed paper / Greeting Card (envelope optional) / Double-sided tape / Scissors / Photo Corners / Scotch Removable Foam Squares



This was an important step in my case.  Since I was trying to hide the “A” I realized I needed to use the envelope as well as the card.  Laying out the envelope and card before applying adhesive ensures that you get the placement perfect.



I chose not to cut the cover off of my card before framing.  Instead I cut several pieces of double-sided tape, placed them on the inside of the open card, gently closed the card and pressed it together to ensure that the card would stay closed when hanging on the wall.



Place the taped card aside and cut several more strips of double-sided tape to adhere to the back (flap-side) of your envelope.  Then gently press the envelope to the scrapbook paper to secure in place.



Slip one photo corner on each of the four corner of the card.



Four adhesive foam squares should be enough to securely attach the greeting card to the envelope/framed paper. I made sure to place the foam squares over the back of the photo corners to  ensure that they stayed in place.



Flip your card over and double-check the placement before gently pressing the card in place on top of the envelope/framed paper. The foam squares  will bring some dimension to the piece.  You can achieve less dimension by putting the entire piece behind glass or by using photo splits or double sided tape instead of foam squares.




I’m pleased with how this simple project turned out.  Not only does the card pick up the colors of the scrapbook paper perfectly, but the hand-written font and sweet little message are gentle reminders that, even amidst the struggles of life, I can choose to love and live happily ever after.


Next in this DIY series, I’ll show you an easy and fool proof way (I promise) to create beautiful, hand-painted lettering.



Design Crush DIY: Framed Paper

Welcome back to the blog! I hope the previous post got you thinking about stationery in a different way.   Today, I’m looking forward to showing  you one of my favorite (and one of the easiest) ways to get your favorite paper goods out of your desk drawer and onto the walls of  your home.

But first, here are the three Rifle Paper Co. products that I own:


Wildflower Wrapping Sheet / Happily Ever After card / 2013 Cities Calendar

I splurged on the Cities Calendar last year because I loved all of the prints and knew that I would reuse them long after the calendar itself was outdated. More recently I found the Happily Ever After card at Anthropologie and fell in love with the color scheme and the font. It sparked an idea for my bedroom, the results of which you’ll see later on this week.  And finally, I fell for the wildflower floral print on a recent trip to visit my sister-in-law.  Again, it was the colors that got me.  In particular, the faint blue-green flower that perfectly matches my kitchen walls. I knew just the spot to hang a framed section of this beautiful print.


Here’s an upclose view of the floral print.  This is a singular sheet of wrapping paper that I got for about $5, which is expensive for one sheet of wrapping paper, but completely affordable for a framed print.  I love that the flowers are thick and chunky with visible brush strokes. A little Matisse-ish if you ask me.

Follow along as we work with this lovely little print today in


STEP ONE:  Gather Your Tools


Paper / Scissors / Frame / Pencil

I’m using a wrapping sheet, but scrapbook paper also works well and is very affordable.  Any paper with a design or pattern that inspires you is perfect.  I’m using a frame I already owned, but of course you could purchase a new frame or find one at a flea market, yard sale, or wherever suits your fancy.



Open your frame, remove the glass and other inserts, and move it around on your paper to find out what section you want to frame.  My paper has a repeating pattern with no clear direction, which made it easy to place.  Other patterns may take a bit more time to find the correct placement. This will also give you a good idea how much of the pattern will be hidden behind the frame.



Place the glass insert over the section of paper you’ve decided to frame and trace the edges with a pencil.



Take one last look at the section  you’ve outlined to make sure it’s what you want, then grab those scissors and cut out along the lines you just traced. I always try to waste as little paper as possible when tracing and cutting so that I can save as much paper as possible for future projects.



Place your cut out paper behind the glass in the frame and secure.  Now it’s ready to hang on your wall.

Unless…you hang it on your wall and decide it needs a little lagniappe. Then you scrounge around in your craft closet for those two plates you purchased last fall and decide this is the perfect opportunity to add them to the mix.


In that case, you’ll need these handy plate hangers.  I purchased two at Hobby Lobby.




For plates that are larger than the disc, simply follow the instructions on the disc:  Wet back of disc, let stand for 5-7 minutes, then press to adhere to back of plate. However, if the disc is slightly larger than the plate back, you may want to first give it a trim.


Once trimmed to fit your place, follow the instructions on the disc (described above) to securely attach the disc to the plate.



I know this is can be torture for some of us, but I promise you can do it! This will ensure that your plates don’t fall off the wall and break due to poor adhesion to the disc.



The most fun part! I chose to hang my framed paper and two plates next to my  kitchen door.  It brings a little personality to my everyday comings-and-goings and livens up this little space. What do you think?  Do you have any favorite paper designs that are worth framing?


Up Next:  Design Crush DIY: Cards as Artwork


Something To Remember My Life By

As a photographer, I often accept money to capture others, but I could never place any value on a great photo. They are what we have to remember our lives by. When memory fails, they tell the stories that make up who we are. For years, I was unhappy with my Christmas tree decor, never feeling I could get it “right.” Then, last year, it hit me. PHOTOS! So I rummaged through the photos on my phone from that year, uploaded my favorites to the PostalPix app, and attached them to their respective branches on that happy day they came in the mail. It was therapeutic to hold those moments in my hand and display them for our family and guests to discuss. When the season ended, I put them together with a little twine, labeled 2012. I know we will look through them often and I hope someday my grandchildren will look at them and ask me about every captured moment, every smile, and see what a wonderful life our family has been blessed with.





Putting the photos up this year was just as joyous an occasion. Our tree tells the story of our year, filled with lost teeth, dance recitals, birthday parties, trips to Disney World and the lake, fun with friends, and lots of big smiles. This prepares me for the new year and gets me in the spirit of resolution, wondering how I can make the next even better for myself and my children. And wondering what will grace our tree next year…and the next…and the next…someday giving me a pile of photos, categorized by year, giving me something to remember my life by, chronicling the two most beautiful babies, my greatest gifts–the only ones I ever really need.

Merry, bright, and happy holidays to you and yours.


Creativity in a To-Do List

Every season, I make an around the house to-do list of all the projects I want to tackle.  These projects range from hanging a new light fixture to framing artwork to painting the porch floor. There seems to be something about a change in the weather that inspires me to get busy being productive and creative.  A few days ago, this season’s inspiration struck and the result is the following, ever ambitious, list.


By the looks of it, you’d think we have no furniture in our house and that the walls are completely bare, when, in fact, the situation is quite the opposite.  So why do I feel the need to tackle all of these projects?  It’s a question I come back to often and a question I considered before starting this blog.  Do I like being busy?  Do I just want more stuff? Am I dissatisfied with something else in my life?  For me, the answer to all those questions is a resounding, “NO!”  I like to tackle these DIY projects because I enjoy the process.

I love the experience of living in an old house with my young family.  I love when ideas pop into my head about how I can help us live better or more fully in this space.  A sense of anticipation bubbles up when I set aside the time to hunt for the perfect inspiration piece to accomplish that goal.  I get excited about the possibilities when I gather objects – often those that have been discarded, tossed aside, deemed worthless and old – and imagine how to give them a new life in a old home. It’s pure joy to me to work in steady silence, with hands-on and hands dirty, to create a final product that may be nothing that I envisioned, but that I know has been worked out to suit my family and our home.

If this process sounds a bit spiritual, that’s because for me, it is.  The act of creating is a beautiful thing.  It engages the hands, the eyes, the mind, the heart, and the spirit. For me, writing a list is only the beginning of my creative process that helps me dream about the possibilities.

Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands….

Come spring, if I cross only one project off of my list – which is highly likely, by the way – I will be thankful that I had at least one opportunity to express my creativity in my home this season.