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Friday, July 11, 2014

The New Lazy Pants

Ok. Anyone else out there with me? The yoga pant thing that so many moms have going on- IT. IS. OVER. Yes, I am sure I offended SO many people by saying that. Here is a caveat: If you are doing yoga or anything athletic, by all means, pull on a pair of relaxed waistband pants.

Maybe it is the fact that I don't work out. No. I absolutely don't- I am the first to admit that I have zero motivation. My workout consists of piling both kids into my ridiculously overweight stroller and doing laps at Old Orchard. I consider huffing it to as many stores as possible while pushing close to 100 pounds a workout. But that's me.

There is another option on the day when you can't squeeze into that ridiculous pair of skinny jeans, don't feel like shaving your legs in order to put on a dress, or are hitting the friendly skies and want to look a little more chic than your tatty stretched-out ahem...."workout" pants are going to afford.

This is it. Ready for it? Have you calmed down enough to see what I am going to bring? Have you stopped hating me for ruining your yoga pant-clad fun enough to keep an open mind?

The silk track pant:

Drawstring? Check.
Stretchy waist? Check.
Wrinkle-free? Check.
Comfy as sweats? Check.
Still classy? Check.

You can wear this with a soft vintage t-shirt and still feel chic. I am SO in.

The brand is Harlowe & Graham. The place is Nordstrom Rack. The price is $30. Go forth and find comfort.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

DIY Construction Birthday Party

For my son's 3rd birthday, I picked a construction theme. Why? Because I am so incredibly fed up with Lightning McQueen, Dusty Crophopper and Thomas the Train (the absolute worst; let's be honest- Thomas is a whiny, selfish little kid who has some pretty lame friends). I wanted a theme where everything wasn't pre-made (oh, look! Lightning McQueen plates, cups, napkins AND pinata!). Call me crazy or a glutton for punishment, but I love keeping it real and making my own stuff. (And don't get defensive, go all character-theme you want- I am just a boho artist trapped in a mom's body and probably should have been a Burning Man sculptor, so I need a creative outlet).

Here is what I did, feel free to copy every single damn thing if you want. Heck, I even provide the pdf printables for you- no copyright, no "download for free only if you give us your e-mail passwords, complete control of your computer via a robot virus and your first born."

As for the invite? I am horrible and whipped up an almost exact replica of one I found on Etsy, so needless to say I can't show it to you because I feel bad (and it has all my personal info on it). Lucky for me, I have some Illustrator skillz that I acquired by reading an awesome training book instead of paying a grand for classes. Lucky for you, there are some pretty cool invites on Etsy- this one only costs $12.50 for the design and you can print it out. Get the link here!

DIY Construction Birthday Party Invite via Etsy | all dressed up with nothing to drink...

The Food

We usually grill out. My husband gets overheated at the grill and stuck in solitary confinement while he cranks out burgers like a Hot N' Now line cook (remember that restaurant?? Best fries EVER. Maybe it was the munchies talking, but....I digress). This year, I decided to do a "Build a Taco" bar. We pre-cooked pounds and pounds of seasoned ground beef, threw it in a crock pot, added dishes of toppings and forgot about it. (Although one of the kids at the party asked me why we were having tacos at a construction party...I smiled sweetly and said "Taco" starts with a "T" as does the word "Truck," like it was the most natural explanation in the world).

DIY Construction Party Buffet with Labels | all dressed up with nothing to drink...

The Drinks

We have a kegerator at our house- best investment if you are a frequent party-thrower. I also put out ingredients for White Wine Spritzers (read my post for recipes here). Great drink for a party that begins before noon so we can all have a cocktail without feeling like total alcoholics.

White Wine Spritzer Party Cocktail | all dressed up with nothing to drink...

I had Iced Tea and Lemonade for those on the wagon.

DIY Construction Party Beverage- Gasoline for Lemonade | all dressed up with nothing to drink...

The Dessert

I had Sand pudding- vanilla pudding with crushed Golden Oreos on top (there was a recipe online for some layered dessert using Cool Whip, but I almost tossed my cookies after reading the ingredients in that stuff).

DIY Construction Party Dessert- Sand Pudding | all dressed up with nothing to drink...

As for the Birthday Cake- This is literally the easiest cake ever. It cost me a whopping $5 and took no time at all to make and didn't matter if it was screwed up.

Step 1- Grab a boxed chocolate cake, Oreos and some frosting.
Step 2- Bake the cake.
Step 3- Put the cake in a dump truck (after disinfecting it....).
Step 4- Frost the cake and top with crushed Oreos.

DIY Construction Party Dump Truck Birthday Cake | all dressed up with nothing to drink...

I asked my son what the best part of his party was, and he said eating the cake out of the truck with a fork after everyone left.

The Entertainment

I think you need a little entertainment for the kids- both to make it fun and to let the adults have cocktail time while their kids are busy.

My mom made a Wrecking Ball piñata by buying a basketball pinata and covering with black crepe paper. We tried to find a blow up doll to put on it to channel a little Miley, but no such luck. I then took Amazon boxes, which I have a surplus of because I am obsessed with getting things in two days in the mail, and covered the front with kraft paper. I then drew black rectangles on them to represent windows and doors (obviously I did this while pre-partying the night before as you can tell by the slightly wonky rectangles). The kids had an absolute BLAST using the  piñata to knock down the boxes all day! Breaking the  piñata was secondary entertainment.

DIY Construction Party Games- Building Bash | all dressed up with nothing to drink...

DIY Construction Party | All dressed up with nothing to drink...

DIY Construction Party Wrecking Ball Pinata | all dressed up with nothing to drink...

My dad made a life-size Jenga game- he is pretty much the most handy person ever. Read all about his greatness in my Father's Day post here. The adults hung out for more cocktails after the kids went down for naps and played this for hours.

DIY Life Size Jenga Game | all dressed up with nothing to drink...

I also had a photo prop for the kids to pose behind.

DIY Construction Party Photo Prop | all dressed up with nothing to drink...

The Decor

I found Caution Birthday tape on Amazon in addition to plastic hard hats. I used a paint pen to write all of the kids names on the hats, which they used to collect their winnings from the pinata bash. We also spray painted "Happy Birthday Bryson" in the lawn- cheapest sign ever.

DIY Construction Party Lawn Sign | all dressed up with nothing to drink...

I put up signs for everything to incorporate the theme. Here are all the food and supplies labels- download pdf files via Google docs link here

All in all, it a pretty easy party to plan and execute! My main pointers for any party with over 10 guests:
  • Crockpots, crockpots, crockpots- make everything in advance and keep it warm. Don't cook when people are there if you can avoid it. It can be overwhelming and almost rude if you totally ignore your guests. Take it from me, I've done it.
  • Beverage dispensers- use these to pre-mix a signature drink so you aren't mixing cocktails all day and night.
  • Trash cans- you can never have enough. Always use plastic ware, plastic cups and paper plates (yes, you can make them cute, I'll show you how eventually).
  • Signs- label everything so people aren't confused. Make the labels match the invite to keep the theme.
  • Find a way to label the cups- if you are using glass, use a wet erase marker. If using plastic, print out labels with a cute jpeg and have people write their name and attach to their cup.
  • Get other people to take photos and send them to you. Immediately.
  • If you can get away with it, have your kid open gifts after everyone has gone home. Otherwise, pieces get lost, people cry, and you can't remember who gave your kid what. Old schoolers think this is rude, so make sure to take a photo of your kid enjoying their gift and send as a thank you (use Postagram- easiest Thank You notes ever).
  • Have fun, and if you aren't having fun, have a cocktail. Or 5. Just don't swing at the piñata after.
Enjoy and please share your party faves with me as well!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Fab Finds For Your Summer Celebrations!

Summer is the time for parties. In Chicagoland, we hide all winter, dreaming of the days when we can trade our Sorels or Uggs for Reefs or Havaianas. We hibernate, barely able to recollect a time when we were anything but pasty pale people with mountains snow to shovel. Why not throw a party (or 5) to celebrate the summer season? Or even take a road trip "Up North"? Here are  few ideas to get you started with some fabulous finds from Personal Creations (and no, they aren't paying me to write this post- we have just bought a lot of stuff from them through the years and it has all been high quality and made memorable gifts).

Entertaining on the Deck

We love to have backyard parties in the summer (or any time of year...but your house can be salvaged by herding the crew outside in the warm weather). My parents bought us this personalized beverage tub for our wedding shower, and my husband just bought the iron stand for our 6th anniversary (6 years = iron...yes, he is that detail-oriented). I recommend filling the bottom with upside down empty tupperware bowls so you don't have to fill the whole thing with ice.

I want these!! How perfect would these Mason Drinking Jars be to replace your boring snoozy water glasses at the dinner table? Bonus- they double as perfect summer sangria glassware for your parties!

Girl's Night

Not going to lie- I spill my wine almost every time I have a glass. Yes, I can blame it on the kids or the fact that I am lightweight after not drinking for 9 months. I adore these wine sippy cups, complete with built-in straw and personalization. You can even select the appropriate hairstyle and color for all of your friends- how fabulous would it be to have a girl's night and get each of your friends their own wine Insulated Wine Tumbler with their likeness??

Up North

In Michigan, "Up North" is a destination, covering all cities from Petoskey to Traverse City to Sutton's Bay to Charlevoix and beyond. It is immortalized in Pure Michigan commercials and Kid Rock songs. Many families have a lake house, which can range from a studio-style shack to retirement mansions. I love some of these options to deck out the decor and put those memories on the wall! We frequently have family parties at my parent's place, and what better way to display the memories than these finds!

I would totally get either of these items for the cabin; this Oar Photo Frame is perfect for a nautical/beachy vibe:

Ummm...can we say adorable anniversary gift?? This Carved Heart Art Canvas would be perfect.

The Road Trip

Since I have two kiddos and have to drive 6+ hours with them to GET Up North, this car activity organizer looks like a winner in my book. Let's be honest- most of us (wait, just me??) pop in a DVD while our kids zone out. Why not turn on your favorite music (no, not the Kidz Bop version, something YOU enjoy) instead of listening to the Frozen Soundtrack AGAIN and let them be a little creative? You can let them listen to their own music (see my travel post here for the best earphones) and get in the zone. Have them make some cards for grandma and grandpa while they are at it.

What are your favorite summer must-have items?