Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ellie's 1st College Visit!

Ellie just turned 1 and had her first college visit at Princeton University- an Ivy League college, too. No pressure El! On Friday we visited my best friend from high school who is currently living in Switzerland and London. Switzerland with her boyfriend and London for work. And she just got back from vacation in Argentina. She's living quite a life! She was flown to Princeton for job training. Coincidentally this is where she went to college and was just an hour drive for me. So on Friday, her last day, Ellie and I made the drive to go see her. Ellie's new best friend, too- check out the pictures below. We met her in J.Crew (Katie loves to shop), took a nice walk around the beautiful campus, had lunch at Theresa's Caffe, then stopped for her favorite ice cream (mine and Ellie's new favorite, too- chocolate cookie dough) before dropping her off at her hotel. She was flying back to Geneva that night. Even though it was a short trip it was sooo great to see her. We always pick up where we left off and always have a great time together. She really is an amazing friend. Love her!

Ellie pointing out buses

Seriously how cute are the pictures of Ellie and Katie laughing together? After the pictures we went and got ice cream and as we were ordering Ellie reached her arms out to Katie. That's what I mean when I say Katie is Ellie's new best friend, too. Hopefully we get to see her again soon!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Great Room Rug Debate

I've been searching for a rug in our great room for a while now. This is where Ellie plays, and although she may not mind kneeling on the floor I sure do! I will usually sit on a floor cushion. Not only do I want a rug for this reason, but also to separate the space since our great room is shaped like an 'L.' I've been leaning towards the colors gray and yellow. The primary colors in the room now are brown and blues. The yellow would add a pop of color and the gray would be a nice contrast. Tonight I decided to browse the selection at Overstock. When I opened the page an ad for 15% off rugs popped up on my screen. I decided if I saw something I liked I was going to order tonight. Plus, shipping only costs $2.95! We need a rug bigger than a 5x8, but not bigger than an 8x10.
These were my favorites:

Trellis Rug

Trellis Wool Rug
Soho Grey Rug

Avant-Garde Morocco Rug

I did order one of these and will let you know which one I chose when it arrives. I hope I like it in person as much as I do online!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Big Bash: Photos

We decided to hire a photographer so we could enjoy every minute of the party and not worry about capturing the special moments. Our photographer was Ashley from Ashley Gigliotti Photography. I decided to hire her while at Ellie's friend, Madelyn's, 1st birthday party the weekend prior. She was there taking photos and I thought it was such a great idea. Luckily she was available for Ellie's party, as well. Her photos were beautiful. I requested pictures of the decor and a few family photos. Not only did she get those, but many more amazing shots- Ellie on the tire swing with her cousins, kissing her friend Madelyn (too cute!), eating her first bite of cake, and me throwing her in the air- just to name a few.

Here are a few of our favorite photos of Ellie's special day:

Photo Recap of Ellie's 1st

The party was a success! It was a beautiful day with not a cloud in the sky. I am so happy we hired a photographer to capture the scenes of the party so we could enjoy Ellie without distraction. The tissue poms looked gorgeous hung from the branches surrounded by the pink cherry blossoms. The pink fabric that covered the walls added a fun pop of color. The tables were accessorized well with the food, dessert, and favors. I loved every minute of the party planning and look forward to many more parties in the future. I will always remember Ellie's first birthday as such as a special day!

Read all about the party details here!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Big Bash: All the Details

After months weeks of party planning the big day was finally here! The party took place at a park- one we go to often for run/walks and playground fun. The party space included a covered pavilion with 2 picnic tables and benches, a grassy area, and a pre-school playground- perfect for Ellie and her friends to play. The party colors were yellow, hot pink, and kelly green. Her invitations were ordered from Etsy (shown here) and personalized with her photo. I also incorporated a flower theme, which was inspired by the pink dusting and blooming flowers that covered our front yard the day we brought Ellie home from the hospital.

The Space:

The covered pavilion: where the most time and energy was spent 
on converting this space to party standards:
(photo taken on one of our runs, hence the Bob stroller)

The tree for hanging the tissue poms!
One of the first things I accomplished were the favors. I found little watering cans from the Dollar Tree (in her colors) and filled them with a package of flower seeds. I used colored paper grass to fill the remaining space and put each in a clear bag, tied with ribbon, and finished with a scalloped tag in pink and yellow. The completed look was so pretty! I made 10 tissue poms to hang from the trees- something I knew I wanted from the start of the planning. I am obsessed with these!

There was a mural on one of the walls that I knew I had to cover because it didn't go with the decor and I wanted to hang her photo banner on this wall. I found a pink flat sheet at a consignment shop for $2 in the perfect size. I hung it with clear thumbtacks. The pink was the perfect backdrop for the photo banner I made. I bought white printed card stock at Michaels (60 cents each) and cut it in half. I used rubber cement to attach the monthly photos to the paper. I then punched holes in each corner and looped pink ribbon through the holes to create the banner. I tied the ribbon at the ends into bows and attached with pink thumbtacks (yes, I was prepared with every small detail!). The opposite wall was brick and I considered covering this wall, as well, but because I didn't have a matching pink sheet I didn't want the walls to look too mismatched. On this wall I hung Ellie's birthday banner, which was handmade by two friends in our playgroup, and have their own Etsy shop called R&R Creations. I was in love with the banner! It matched Ellie's color theme and was very whimsical. Check them out here and think of them for your next party! In between these two walls was an additional door with a mural, in which I added a balloon bunch (in, of course, pink, yellow, and green).

The picnic tables were covered with the inexpensive yellow plastic tablecloths ($1) with a pink blooming flower pot placed in the center (Trader Joes, $5 each). Extra chairs were brought in for additional seating. We also brought in 3 tables- one for food, one for gifts, and another for dessert and favors, and white tablecloths. On the dessert table I placed her invitation in a white frame, the favors in a green basket, and the flower cookies and cake pops on clear plastic "china" ($1 each). I made the cake pops the night before using a no-bake recipe. A very easy one, too. I froze the dough and when they were hard enough I melted the chocolate (white & pink) and topped with different color sprinkles. They were so pretty and delicious. A hit! I ordered the very popular striped straws from Shop Sweet Lulu and cut the ends to use in place of the lollipop sticks. They added a colorful aspect to the cake pops. From this shop I also ordered yellow polka dot candy cups to fill with goldfish (see photo above).

The recipe recommended using a foam block to hold (and dry) the finished cake pops. I used Ellie's drying rack to hold the pops. I couldn't recommend a better way to go. The straws fit perfectly into a blade of (fake) grass.

Dollar Tree Finds:
Who knew the $1 store would have so many great party items?!
Our dessert plates
Watering cans used as favors
Fancy plastic china (great selection!)
Tablecloths and other party supplies in a variety of colors
The party planning was very time consuming. It was one of my top priorities for weeks before the party date. But, nonetheless, I enjoyed every minute! I had detailed lists in my "notes" section on my iPhone (everything from what I needed to buy and where, the decor, food, etc) pinned photos on Pinterest for inspiration, party outfit options, and designated family and friends to help where needed. Because the party wasn't at our home I felt the added pressure of making sure I didn't forget anything! I packed everything in totes (to make transporting as easy as possible), as well as extras like a staple gun and extra staples (we used this to staple the tablecloth to the table), push pins, tape, scissors, ribbon. I must give a shout out to my friend, Abby, who came early (2 hours early) to help me hang the tissue poms and decorate the space. I would not have gotten everything done without her help. Seriously. Best friend ever! My sister, Mia, also showed up before the party started to help out. And my in-laws were there bright and early to bring tables and coolers. 

Here are a few photos I snapped while packing up the car:

 Oh, and because it was an outdoor party (and I did not add a rain date on the invite) my husband and I stalked the weather app on our iPhones. We could not have asked for a more beautiful day! 
This was what we got (party time 12-3):

A beautiful day for our daughter's 1st birthday party. I hope you enjoyed reading all about the party details. Check back soon for our professional photos!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ellie turns 1!

One year ago I gave birth to the most wonderful baby girl, Ellie. She has brought us so much happiness and joy into our lives, as well as into our family's lives, more than we ever could have imagined. It has been so amazing watching her grow and learn new things each month. This has been the best year of our lives and it gets better everyday because of her.

Her birthday morning started with one of her favorite breakfasts, a buttered waffle. Yum! I put a candle in it and sang her Happy Birthday. She received lots of text messages and phone calls, as well as a visit from Pop Pop (my dad) on his lunch hour. She showed him her toys, had a catch with him (he was impressed with her arm!), rode her Dino, and played hide 'n seek with him (her favorite game). She wore her birthday cupcake dress from Dido and Mom-Mom (on one of their shopping sprees for Ellie). Since it was just 2 days before her big party we had a few errands to do. I proudly told everyone we encountered it was her birthday. Everywhere we go strangers comment on how cute she is. I agree! It was a beautiful day so we made our daily trip to the playground. After playing with Daddy when he got home from work she took her afternoon nap, ate a quick dinner, then met her grandparents for ice cream- her 1st special treat! Until this day Ellie has never had any sweets. Tonight was her 1st lick of ice cream- my favorite, black raspberry. She wasn't a fan! We did manage to snap a few cute photos of her first tasting. We sang her Happy Birthday for the third time today and she was loving the attention! I am anxious to see if she enjoys her birthday cake on Saturday.

Ellie's Birthday Photos:

Waking up a happy girl!
Reading books- she loves taking them off the bookshelf and reading to herself.
Birthday waffle! You can see Ellie's finger pointing in the background- she's excited!

Dinner: her favorite- peas and veggie nuggets
1st lick!

Watching cars with Grandmom (one of her favorite things to do)
Hanging with Mom Mom

Happy 1st Birthday, Ellie!