Monday, November 23, 2015

Building a Baby Basket

Okay, confession time. I may or may not have started to cave on buying baby items.  I wouldn't call it baby fever, but in order to curb my desires to find good deals and cute itsy bitsy items I've started a new "hobby." This new enjoyment of mine has resulted in me building baby baskets and trunks.

I honestly love the whole process. I like the shopping, getting deals, arranging items to really showcase them, then donating them to the church or school for auctions. Baby baskets always make great auction items. Plus, I get the satisfaction of knowing they're going to go towards a mommy-to-be who will continue to enjoy all the cuteness!

And of course it's great to make them if you're attending a baby shower! New moms love getting baby baskets since every item, including the basket/trunk, serves a purpose! Plus, it's a blast to create themed baskets.  If you didn't already know it, I L-O-V-E themes. You can match the themed basket to the theme of the baby shower, or go with the classics. Such as, Stripes & Polka Dots, Safari, Ducky, Elephants, Neutrals, etc.  

Just this week my 10th graders and I made baby baskets for the nearby Pregnancy Center! With everyone chipping in we were able to create three adorable and useful baskets. I used the list below to spurr purchase ideas for students. It was definitely an eye opener for those that had no idea the price associated with certain baby items. We thought that with Thanksgiving coming up, the pregnancy centers can be passed over with more focus turning towards food shelves, so we made this our November project. And of course I forgot to snap pics, but I can atest to their cuteness.

Below I included a list that make great items to put in baskets.  Baskets that include a variety of items that serve different purposes are always more popular so it's best to mix a few from each category.

For baby:

  * Onesies
  * Sleep Sack
  * Mittens
  * Booties
  * Receiving Blankets
  * Burp Cloths
  * Wash Cloths
  * Bath towel
  * Formula
  * Pacifiers
  * Stuffed Animal
  * Plush / Mini Toy

For nursery:

  * Crib Sheets
  * Changing pad cover
  * Blankets
  * Hangers
  * Diapers
  * Lotion / Shampoo
  * Soothing Music CD
  * Book
  * Canvas art / quote

For Memories:

   * Baby's Firsts Calendar
   * Baby's handprint / footprint kit
   * Monthly Growth Stickers - for monthly photos
   * Frame for baby's sonogram
   * Frame for first 12 months pictures
   * Christmas Ornament

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Meringue and Berry Dessert

Happy Sunday!! I hope everyone is enjoying a relaxing weekend.

We were invited to dinner this weekend and we were asked to bring dessert to share. Since our weekends are usually packed, I like to have a few recipes in my back pocket when needing to bring a delicious but easy dessert. This recipe is at the top of that list! Between activities, I made a quick stop at the grocery store to grab a few ingredients and then we were set. This fruit and meringue parfait is always a crowd pleaser and super simple.

- Meringues
Note: I grabbed my mini almond flavored meringues from Lunds
- Fruit
Note: I usually opt for whatever is in season and colorful
- Heavy whipping cream
Note: You can always use a cool whip if you don't have time to whip the cream
- One can of pineapple chunks
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- Optional: Leftover monogram napkins from your wedding and sequins for your serving table :)

1. I started by whipping my cream until it was very thick, almost like butter.
2. I then added the honey, several pineapple chunks and a douse of pineapple juice to the whip cream to sweeten the mixture. Mix in with beater or by hand.

3. To avoid the meringue melting, do this next step right before serving. Add the fruit and a meringue to the bottom of a small dish.

4. Add a dollop of whipped cream.
5. For an optional touch, I also shook a few raspberries in some powdered sugar for a frosty effect.

6. Top with more berries and more meringues. Serve and enjoy!!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

DIY Bottle Centerpiece

Yay for fall crafting! I am so incredibly happy that snow has stayed away this long and made this season feel extra long. Before I start putting away my fall projects, I have one more to share. This collection of painted gold bottles looks lovely as a centerpiece on a buffet table and also scattered in a tablescape. If using gold accents on your Thanksgiving table, these bottles would look awesome!

- Beer/wine bottles
- Spray paint
- Spray adhesive
- Glitter
- Candles

1. Make sure to remove all labels and glue from the bottles. I soaked the bottles in warm water before using a sponge to remove the labels.

2. Spray the bottles with color desired.
3. For the glitter bottles, spray them with adhesive before covering the bottle with glitter.
4. Add candles and display!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Thanksgiving Tablescape

In preparation for one of America's best holidays, we spent some time putting together some Thanksgiving decor ideas, place settings and a pretty tablescape!

We kept our main tablescape fairly simple and neutral. We used some glass pumpkins, wire pinecones, sprigs of leaves, a few pieces of dried wheat, acorns and of course, some votive candles.

We started with a place setting that included a beautiful champagne color and white pumpkin. This would be simple enough for your Thanksgiving meal and would give a festive farewell to fall decor.

The other place setting that we put together included a gold leaf ring holder (Surprisingly, these were found at Walmart!) and a mini bottle of Belvoir. We enjoyed using the Belvoir because it adds a pop of orange. We also placed gold striped paper straws in the glasses. 

For this setting, we moved the bread plate and the pumpkin to incorporate the napkin holder. It is a little busier but we love this autumn look!

Personalize your place settings with a pumpkin place card. Try not to judge my lack of calligraphy skills on the bumpy little pumpkin! A gold pen looks especially elegant and stunning on a white pumpkin. A few other place card ideas: maple leaves, pinecones or apples! See our previous pumpkin place card post for even more ideas!!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Save the Date Pumpkins

I had the pleasure of attending an engagement photo shoot for some dear friends a couple weeks ago. It was the most beautiful fall day in Minnesota and the weather was perfect. Between the colorful leaves, shining sun and huge smiles, the pictures turned out lovely! Of course, it was all possible because of the amazingly talented Melissa Scharf Photography.

I surprised the bride-to-be and her groom with some save the date pumpkins. It was a super easy project and would have been even quicker if my Sharpies hadn't gone on strike! These pumpkins were wonderful for engagement photos and they would also be darling for a baby due date.

- Three pumpkins
- Sharpie

1. Make sure pumpkin surface is clean and dry.

2. Add wedding date or baby due date to the pumpkin using the Sharpie.

3. Allow time to dry before using in photos.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Ireland Travel Highlights

If you missed my last travel highlights post, I have been recounting some highlights from our Paris and Ireland trip in May. It is a bit embarrassing that it took me so long to go through photos but I finally set aside some time dedicated to organizing our travel photos!

We were blessed to share the Ireland leg of our trip with my brother, sister-in-law and my sister. My sister was staying in Northern Ireland with our relatives while she was between her study abroad classes. Part of the motivation of our trip was to get to spend some time with her and our relatives. It was so fun to see them all and to be back in Ireland!

Northern Ireland

Our relatives kindly took us in for the perfect Irish visit. We had some amazing home cooked meals! I can't wait to try my hand at their recipe for Guiness Stew this winter. They also taught us all about their garden, coached us on what crystal to use during dinner parties and shared the history of their local church and graveyard.

A couple days after our arrival, we went up to Giant's Causeway, Bushmills Distillery and Dunluce Castle on the coast. It was so exciting to experience these sites again with my husband.

Cool facts about Dunluce Castle: it is thought to be the inspiration for C.S. Lewi's Cair Paravel in the Chronicles of Narnia and it was also featured in the filming of Game of Thrones! The kiddos called it a castle with no roof because if you look out into the sea, you can see the very top of the castle.

Dublin, Ireland

Guinness Factory:
This is a must see, even if you aren't a huge beer drinker. The factory grounds are incredible and they do a great job of explaining their beer-making process. They share crazy statistics like the following: Of the millions of kegs produced every year, one third is consumed by the little country of Ireland. Another interesting fact: If you walk into any Irish bar and ask for a pint, they will always pour you a Guinness.

I also totally geeked out in the marketing area of the factory. They show different Guinness ads, characters, slogans and marketing materials from over the years. I loved learning about their marketing strategies and seeing how they chose to position the beer to different countries and cultures. Super interesting stuff!

Kilkenny, Ireland

Kilkenny Castle:
This castle is picture perfect in the cutest little Irish town! We lunched along the river where we had the perfect view of the castle. Definitely one to add to the list!

Galway, Ireland

Murphy's Bar:
I am pretty sure that my husband died and went to heaven when we entered Murphy's Bar in Galway. We had been walking around Galway and were on our way back from the sea. It is such a beautiful town. While walking past the shops, we spied Murphy's Bar and obviously, needed to grab a drink inside the darling pub. This was the only place that we were able to find a pint of Murphy's Stout, which is brewed in southern Ireland. The kind bartender let us keep a Murphy's Stout glass as a keepsake.

Cliffs of Moher

This is a must-see for anyone going to Ireland. Pictures cannot capture the vast glory of these cliffs! They were breathtaking. Definitely make time to walk around and see the cliffs from many sides. If you can get away from the crowds, it's even better! Thankfully, we were able to go on a day when it wasn't too cloudy, windy or rainy. Irish weather is so temperamental and you really can't plan for it. But we were grateful to be able to enjoy the views on a clear(ish) day!

Other Highlights

Classic Temple Bar in Dublin

Tea and treats for breakfast in Dublin

Sheepies in the Wicklow Mountains

The most photographed castle in Ireland, Dunguaire Castle

My souvenirs: Belvoir! My husband's souvenirs: Whiskey!