My End of Summer Graduation Fiesta

It’s really hard to believe that it’s already fall with the 90 degree weather we have been having! September has been a little extra special to me, because I finally finished my bachelor’s degree in Integrated Marketing. That’s right I am officially a college graduate! Woohoo! The past ‘almost’ two years have been pretty crazy trying to balance work, school at nights, and an active little toddler. I feel so blessed to have such supportive family and friends to stick by me through all the craziness. G has been a little trooper through all of it as well. I’m so excited to see what this next chapter of my life has in store for me. If anything, I did something that I never imagined I could actually accomplish. Even if it sounds silly to me saying now. This has really been a season of me finding myself, accepting myself, and pushing myself.

I decided to celebrate my accomplishment by throwing a small pineapple/fiesta/summer-y themed party with a few close family and friends. Since it still feels like summer, I thought it would be appropriate to share a few ideas from my special celebration before I completely transition to fall mode. I know I’ve said it before, but fall is my absolute favorite time of the year! I wanted to keep this party simple on myself (Haha), so I hired a taco cart to cater it. However, the decorations were not so simple and due to the crazy windy weather, I wasn’t able to put up everything I had planned. It still turned out adorable. I had margaritas with fixin’s, horchata (that was actually pretty amazing with a little bit of spiced rum!), a little mariachi band station for the kids equipped with guitars, bongo drums, maracas, etc., cute coloring pages for the kids, yummy candles for my guests to take home, and a beautiful cake from Whole Foods that my brother’s girlfriend decorated with flowers. She also made a couple super cute floral crowns for the photo booth.

Here’s to the last little remnant of summer! And I hope this gives you some ideas, if you are looking to throw your own fun fiesta themed party in the future. Ole!

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Margarita’s anyone??

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The adorable candle party favors were from ‘Midnight Glimmer’.

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How amazing is this cake, right!?

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The dessert bar…

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Party like a pineapple!

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This tablescape was kind of a disaster with the wind…

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Photo booth fun!

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Party Favor:    Midnight Glimmer Candles

Pineapple Cups (spray painted gold) :   Oriental Trading , Amazon.com

Photo Booth Idea:   Pinterest/Evite

Free Coloring Pages:   Pinterest/Happy Thought

 

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Autumn Owl Themed 1st Birthday Party for My Little “G”

Fall is definitely my favorite time of the year! “Pumpkin Spice” everything, rich warm colors, and the arrival of boot and sweater season, it’s my magical time. At the moment it all sounds a little strange, being that it’s still 80+ degrees out here in California. Us Californians never truly get to experience the season.

My son had his first birthday party last fall and it was a hoot, (Pun intended)! I went all out in expressing my love for fall by throwing him an owl themed party. We served all sorts of fall themed food, the highlights being a butternut squash crostini with sage and goat cheese, and my mom’s award winning chili. We had an awesome photo booth my brother’s girlfriend constructed using two old pallets. G’s adorable owl smash cake was decorated and baked by, Heavenly Treats by Jackie. And I baked cute little owl cupcakes using an awesome kit from Cost Plus World Market. All of the kids had an absolute blast bobbing for apples and taking a whack at the owl piñata, I randomly found on Amazon. Each guest took home a freshly dipped Carmel apple as a favor.

Below I’ve posted some pictures of G’s special day in hopes to give you a little FALLspiration, (if you love fall as much as I do)! Happy “Pumpkin Spice” Season everyone!

owl birthday_ high chair banner

owl sign

fall party food_butternut sage

fall party food

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fall party ideas

owl cupcakes

owl birthday party

fall dessert table

owl pops

owl cake

DIY Fall Vase

owl place setting

owl napkin

owl straw flags

kids birthday party ideas

fall party_ apple bobbing

fall birthday party_kids

owl party masks

owl party decor

fall party photo booth

owl photo booth props

owl photo booth

Photos: Brittany McDermott Photography

Homemade Baby Food for Older Babies & Toddlers

Happy New Year! I still can’t believe I’ve been doing this parenting thing for a year AND that it’s 2015 (yikes!)! G’s first birthday was in November and boy did we celebrate! I threw him a beautiful fall themed birthday party (with the help of LOT’s of family and friends), but due to finally starting school (hooray!) and all the busyness of the holidays, I just wasn’t able to get a blog post up in time. I will have to post the party next fall (and you’ll see why I will be doing his birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese next year! Lol).

G is eating most of the same foods as me these days and although he’s definitely a little man that knows what he wants (he even tells me that he wants to “eeeeaaaat”), he is still a pretty good eater. I wanted to quickly share some ideas that have worked well for us and that G still enjoys nomming on as a toddler.

Banana Flax Bites: one chopped banana+milled flax seed

G just can't get enough Banana Flax Bites...can you tell? ;)

G just can’t get enough Banana Flax Bites…can you tell? 😉

I got this idea when I was starting to get G use to the idea of finger foods and he had mastered the “puffs”. He’s always been a big banana fan, so I decided to coat them in milled flaxseed to make them a litter easier to be picked up by tiny fingers and sneak in some extra nutrition. He loves them and they are one of our go-to’s for breakfast!

Lavender Beet Greek Yogurt: pureed beets+a dash of lavender (less is more!)+greek yogurt to taste

mama and the sun_lavender beet greek yogurt

I had talked about adding a lavender beet recipe to the mix in a previous post and this is what I came up with (actually on accident!). I was originally trying to make a lavender beet puree and accidently added too much lavender, making the entire batch super bitter. I had some greek yogurt in the fridge and added a little bit on a whim. It tasted fabulous! The yogurt neutralized the bitterness. He still loves it in one of his Squooshi pouches.

Cinnamon Oatmeal Apple Sauce:  organic apple sauce+milled oats+cinnamon to taste

This is another one we like to “pouch up”. It’s super easy too! I just buy organic apple sauce, quickly mill some oats (I usually have some around in an airtight container), and throw in a little bit of cinnamon. G is a huge apple fan! Are all babies obsessed with bananas and apples?? 😉

I also wanted to mention a little something about our favorite pre-packaged baby food: Oh Baby Foods

mama and the sun_Oh baby baby food

The pouches are BPA free and filled with safe and nutritious goodness. They are all organic and you don’t need a scientist to help you read all of the ingredients on the back. My (our) personal favorite is the “LavenBerry” and was what inspired me to play around with the Lavender Beet Greek Yogurt. It’s so good, I want to eat it myself! 😉

I’m still on the hunt for (easy) great finger food ideas to fill up my growing boy. I’d love to hear other busy mom’s ideas and will be sure to post more good ones!

 

Our Hooks

“Music is forever; music should grow and mature with you, following you right on up until you die.” ~Paul Simon

Since I can remember, I’ve always been a huge fan of music. I was a huge Bruce Springsteen fan when I was two (no joke!) and some of my most memorable moments were going to punk shows in my early twenties. I even had a job during that time where I was given the opportunity to work with a lot of the people I really admired in the music industry (Yeah…I was cool once 😉 Lol).

I have always been a classic rock girl-at-heart though and I’m super excited to share my love of music with my little man. I first busted out my vinyl collection when he was pretty young, but he really gets a kick out of it now (I swear he loved Led Zeppelin even in the womb!). This summer I took him to his first little outdoor concert and he had a blast!

So, when we’re not listening to the Cookie Monster song over and over again or I’m not singing “The wheels on the Bus” until my face turns blue, we listen to these (adult-friendly) hooks…

Sarah Lee Guthrie & Family – Waggaloo

I love this album, I really do! Sarah is the granddaughter of Woody Guthrie and performs with her husband Johnny Irion. This album is perfect in my opinion. G loves that her kids sing on this album and I love the fact that there is nothing annoying at all about this album. It’s fun, gypsy-country sounding and really reminds me of her grandfather with a modern twist (He wrote some of the songs on this album). It’s fun and goofy, but calms my little dude at the same time. The Sarah Lee Guthrie Children’s Pandora Station is a standard at our house. It’s been so great for keeping G mellow during our prime “meltdown time” (from dinner to bedtime).

The Vespers – The Fourth Wall

A friend of mine has worked with this band and I didn’t end up checking them out until I heard a cover they did of Barry Louis Polisar’s “All I Want is You”. Callie & Phoebe’s voices are like angels. My son was immediately enchanted, I kid you not! This band seriously saved my life for a few months when this was the only thing that would calm him down and get him to sleep in the car. The Vesper’s are a folkie/roots sounding band, but still have a modern indie feel. My son was actually a little more into this when he was a few months younger but, I’m still in love 🙂

4 month old G passed out in his car seat listening to his favorite band, the Vespers

4 month old G passed out in his car seat listening to his favorite band, the Vespers

Ziggy Marley – Family Time

I’m a huge Ziggy Marley fan so I’m obviously going to think it’s great! And if you’re a fan of reggae you’ll enjoy this album. My little guy loves it too 🙂

I hope you find that you enjoy these albums as much as we do! Music is so wonderful! I go crazy on Pandora when I find a new artist I like and am always on the lookout for stations G might like too. Please feel free to share any of your awesome music finds!

Wine Cheap of the Week: Pancake Cellars 2012 Big Day White

Pancake Cellars Big Day White 2012 Price range: Under 6 bucks (Trader Joe’s)

Pancake Cellars 2012 Big Day White
Price range: Under 6 bucks (Trader Joe’s)

I’ve had this post in my system for a while now and after ladies wine night on Friday, I knew I couldn’t let this sit any longer! This week’s (and my first!) ‘Wine Cheap of the Week’ is Pancake Cellars Big Day White 2012. It’s light, crisp, and not too sweet. At just over 5 bucks a bottle, it can’t be passed up! I’m very excited to be doing this on my blog! There’s nothing more relaxing than sharing a bottle with close friends! I am such a wine lover and know that many wonderful wines can be pretty pricey. Being a woman on a budget these days, I’m constantly on the look out for selections that are yummy AND easy on the pocket. I’m always trying a new bottle and wanted to share with you my favorite finds 🙂 Please feel free to share your’s too!

Homemade Baby Food

My little guy's reaction to avocado when we first started solids!

My little guy’s reaction to avocado when we first started solids!

And so began the transition to solids 😉 I have actually been really enjoying this part of motherhood but, I think it’s because I love food so much! I’ve been very lucky thus far, because G will tolerate eating mostly anything. My son is now 9 months has just started getting a little vocal about his food choices AND extra messy now that we’ve added finger foods to the mix! I think starting solids can be just as confusing as anything that has to do with a new baby. Their is sooo much information out there and it can be so overwhelming! After checking out a few websites and running things by my son’s pediatrician, I decided to start solids on the early side. I ended up skipping rice cereal altogether and went straight for pureed sweet potatoes. While I do give G organic baby food I get from the store (he usually gets a jar or pouch for lunch at daycare), I really try to give him as much homemade as possible. It’s not as difficult as one might think to make your own (just steam or bake and blend!) and definitely has ended up saving me some cash 🙂 So, I thought I share with you a few of our favorites! (I even came up with funny names for some of them)

Nana-Banana Blueberry (banana+blueberry+oats) homemade baby food_blueberry banana

Carrots n’ Ginger Pear (carrots+ginger+pear) Go easy on the ginger…just sayin’ 😉 homemade baby food_carrot ginger pear

Apple Cinnamon Lentils (apple+cinnamon+lentil) homemade baby food_apple lentil

Basil Peach (fresh basil+peach) homemade baby food_basil peach

Avomangado (mango+avocado) homemade baby food_mango avocado

Banana Quinoa (banana+red quinoa) homemade baby food_banana red quinoa

Tip: to make things a little easier I check out the frozen section for organic fruits and veggies. The produce is frozen at its peak so they are tasty and full of the good stuff. It’s also nice to use fruits and veggies I don’t even have to cook (like “Nana-Banana Blueberry” & “Avomangado”).

My Costco even has organic beets already steamed and in a bag. Super easy! My next experiment is Lavender Beet and I can’t wait to see how G reacts! Please feel free to share any of your advice on solids or favorite recipes!

COFFEE BREAK: Hula Girl Chai Tea

I had the opportunity to try the AMAZINGNESS that is Hula Girl Coconut Spiced Chai Tea when my brother and his girlfriend brought back a bag from their trip to Maui a couple of weeks ago. Honestly, I was had at coconut and the super adorable logo. But, the tea really was as wonderful as I had expected…rich and not too sweet, high quality and reasonably priced for a special treat.

hula girl chai tea

I took a quick peek on their website and they have a TON of other lovely goodies I can’t wait to get my hands on: Banana Macadamia Nut Pancake and Waffle Mix, Lavender Sugar, Chocolate Macadamia Nut Coffee, Vanilla Rum Cigars and I seriously can’t wait to try the Mango Spiced Chai! I think I may have just scored the mother load for Christmas shopping this year! Now if only I can work out a trip to Maui for myself this Christmas 😉 Oh, well…in the meantime I guess this tea will just have to do!