Tag Archives: decorations

December Photo A Day Challenge: Day 17-31

december challenge

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope your 2012 went out with a bang :)  I fell asleep at 10:30 so I was celebrating in my dreams.  I guess that’s what happens when you are chasing after a toddler and in the midst of moving.  Lots of exciting things happening in 2013.  Grateful to see another year!

But before I start my journey in the new year, I wanted to do a quick recap of the last few weeks.  December has been a busy month full of fun, family and festivities.  Take a look at what we have been up to…

1. Day 17: on the floor- As I have mentioned before, Harper loves to build castles with her Mega Blocks.  But I think her favorite thing about these blocks is dumping them on the floor.  Something about taking the bag and flipping it upside down and watching the blocks fall from the sky gives her a thrill.  Thank goodness she is getting to be a pro at picking up after herself too.  Because stepping on one of these in the middle of the night is no joke!

2. Day 18: makes you feel merry- I love this time of year for many reasons.  But as far as my taste buds are concerned, peppermint definitely makes me feel merry.  And these chocolate peppermint almonds are to die for!  I picked up a container of them at Whole Foods and they only lasted a few days.  Dangerous…but worth every bite :)

3. Day 19: something beginning with “s”- When the weather gets chilly, I like to make food that warms my soul.  And this beef and butternut squash stew is a new favorite.  I have plans to post the recipe soon…promise!

4. Day 20: weather- Being a California girl, I am used to one season…the 75 degree season, all year long!  But this winter has been a bit chillier than usual.  It’s hard to make out the temperature in this picture, but it reads 48.  48 is far below my level of comfort.  Which means I am doing a lot of cozying up on the couch with my love bugs to keep warm.

5. Day 21: tree- There is no better gift than a homemade one.  For the holidays, my mom handmade a few of these adorable trees using a collection of old sweaters that she cut into different size circles and strung together with some wire.  I love all colors she used and of course the star on the top.

6. Day 22: decoration- During the holidays, there are decorations everywhere.  But this is the most creative Christmas decoration I have seen.  I stopped by to visit my girlfriend and fell in love with her house plant decorated with a strand of green garland, colored lights and one ornament.  Tis the season…

7. Day 23: joy is___-  “shopping at Target with my toddler”.  Harper loves to shop.  Especially when it involves a shopping cart just her size.  She was running up and down the aisles popping wheelies, giggling up a storm.  Oh, the simple joys of youth are quite refreshing.  Especially in the midst of the holiday rush.

8. Day 24: tradition/something you always do- Ever since I can remember, my parents would take me to church on Christmas Eve.  To be honest, during my teenage years, it felt more like they were dragging me there, but now that I am old enough, I appreciate them teaching me the true meaning of Christmas.  I am so excited to be able to pass on this tradition to Harper.  It is a lovely way to celebrate the holiday together.

9. Day 25: lunchtime- Christmas morning is all about taking it easy.  So by the time we got around to breakfast, it was pretty much lunchtime.  Freddie requested my famous French Toast which we served with homemade orange juice and a side of crispy bacon.

10. Day 26: mess-  I love to cook up a storm in the kitchen.  The only downside is the dishes.  Which is why I am grateful that we have a dishwasher.  And an amazing husband.  Because whatever doesn’t go in the dishwasher, he washes by hand.  A little something he started when we first got married…I cook, he cleans.  I happen to be a big fan of this agreement :)

11. Day 27: how you relax- Between being a wife, a mom and a music teacher, I don’t get much downtime.  But even 5 minutes of solitude to play a game of Words with Friends can be quite relaxing.  It helps to take my mind of things for a moment while still challenging my brain to think.  In 2013, I will be working on getting some real relaxation time in, but for now, this will do.

12. Day 28: cold- My sister and her kids came to visit us from Texas.  Whenever they come to town we like to hit up a few theme parks and other local attractions.  This time we decided to take a trip to the aquarium to check out some penguins.  Even though most penguins do not live in the snow, they always remind me of a colder climate.

13. Day 29: hot-  For a belated Christmas present, I bought my brother a 6 month subscription to an Artisan Coffee Company (are you surprised?)  To make it fun and festive, I wrote out a gift certificate and placed it inside of a hot beverage mug that was decorated with camo.  A great gift for a coffee lover!

14. Day 30: something that made you smile this year- Nothing makes me smile more than watching my little girl grow up.  Each day comes with new milestones and new adventures.  I am so grateful to be on this wonderful journey of motherhood.  It is an absolute joy!

15. Day 31: self-portrait-  It wouldn’t be a self portrait if it didn’t include my Chucks.  I have done and accomplished a lot this year.  And all while wearing my Chucks.  In celebration of the New Year, I picked up a fresh pair of Chucks in which to start my journey into 2013.  There are lots of exciting things on the horizon and I look forward to sharing them with you.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I LOVE photo challenges.  And in 2013, I am excited to participate in a new photo challenge with Alli of the Big Green Parenting Experiment.  I hope you will join me in capturing this new year with a photo a day.  Check out this post for more details.  And feel free to follow me on Instagram (@inherchucks) to keep up with the daily challenge.

Happy 2013!!!

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Harper’s Rainbow Star Party: Part 3

After lunch, Harper decided to take a little snooze on her daddy’s shoulder.  All of the excitement from the party proved to be a bit overwhelming.

But her little snooze turned into a proper nap and soon we had to wake her so we could cut the cake.  She was a little groggy but seemed to enjoy everyone singing to her.

The cake was a little idea I experimented with that turned out better than I expected.  This was my first attempt at a cake like this and I am glad I was able to materialize the image in my head.

I had planned on making the batter from scratch but at the last-minute turned to my buddy Dunkin Hines for some support.  In order to make the cake I prepared 3 boxes of cake mix according to the directions.  I separated the cake mix into 6 bowls and dyed the batter in each bowl using gel food coloring.  Once I had the colors I was looking for I poured two colors into each pan layering them according to their rainbow order (red & orange, yellow & green, blue & purple).  After the cakes were cooled I iced them with Pillsbury Funfetti Frosting.  Instead of putting the sprinkles inside the icing (which is the point of the funfetti icing), I used the sprinkles on the outside of the cake to jazz it up a bit.  I thought this brought a fun and festive element to the cake (as if 3 layers of rainbow star cake weren’t fun and festive enough…).  We served the cake with a side of Icing on the Cake Ice-Cream from Baskin Robbins.

Since we were expecting so many guests, I started to worry that the rainbow star cake wouldn’t be enough.  So I decided to make a few batches of cupcakes as well with an idea inspired by a picture I found on Pinterest.

To make the cupcakes I used the same batter and icing as the cake.  I layered a small dab of each color on top of each other, going in rainbow order.  The rainbow cupcake liners were from Etsy and I made the cupcake toppers myself by gluing a toothpick between two stars that I cut out of cardstock.

As yummy and colorful as the rainbow star cake and cupcakes were, I decided to make Harper her own mini-birthday cake.  I decorated it with some of her favorite fruit and plain white frosting.

I was hoping she would go for the gusto and paint the town with icing, but she was very dainty about the whole thing.  So lady  like :)  But she sure thought it was delicious!

After filing up on cake and ice cream it was time to say goodbye to all our guests.  And what a better way to send them off then with a few little parting gifts.  For our “little guests”  we put together a collection of some of Harper’s favorite things.  In rainbow colors of course.

We found the boxes at Party City and filled them with color coordinated star glasses, bubbles, a recorder and a book.  Each item proved to be a big hit!

For the adults, I decided to make homemade rainbow star cookie pops!  Again, I had every intention to make them from scratch but considering everything else I had on my plate I enlisted some help from Betty Crocker.

I found this great pan which made baking these pops easy as…well, cookies!  Once they were cooled, I used this icing to make simple designs and then topped them off with some rainbow sprinkles.  I wrapped them in a treat bag and tied them with a rainbow ribbon.  A fun way to say thank you for celebrating this special day with us.

I still can’t believe my baby girl is one.  We had such a blast at her party and are extremely grateful for all our friends and family who joined us on Harper’s special day.  The rainbow star party was a huge success.  Here’s to a wonderful year filled with love, laughter and joy!

All images were taken by my good friend and talented photographer Rachel Bradshaw of Little Sparrows Photography.

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Harper’s Rainbow Star Party: Part 2

After the table decorations were all set and ready to go, it was time to start putting on the finishing touches.  One of my favorite decorations was the rainbow photo banner.  I was so excited when I found it on Etsy because not only was it a great idea, it matched perfectly with our theme.

The banner was meant to hang, but with the way the wind was blowing that day it kept falling down.  So we decided to display it on the dessert table instead and it ended up working out great.  A photo banner was a fun way to document Harper’s first year and watch her grow from month to month.

One of the things I learned from attending some of Harper’s friend’s 1st birthday parties, is that having an area where the babies can play  and hang is a great way to entertain the little ones.  So we brought some of Harper’s favorite toys to the park to share with her pals.  “Baby central” was a huge hit!

And of course, no party is complete without good food and drinks.  Guests enjoyed an assortment of LaCroix Sparkling Water which comes in an a variety of delicious and refreshing flavors.  I love how colorful the cans are :)

We also had a variety of Gatorade as well.  Otherwise known as rainbow in a bottle :).

For small snacks to munch on, I created a rainbow vegetable platter with homemade spinach dip (recipe to come).  I used an assortment of bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots and cucumbers to fashion a colorful display.

I also constructed a rainbow out of different types of fruit inspired by a picture originally found on Pinterest.  I chose to use sliced strawberries, peeled mandarin oranges, chopped pineapple, green grapes, crisp blueberries and juicy blackberries.  We were able to find most of the fruit at our local farmers market the day before so it was super fresh.

For a late lunch we served marinated grilled chicken, tri-tip and an assortment of grilled rainbow vegetables.  We also had a rainbow pasta salad made with this colorful Farfalline found at World Market tossed with red tomatoes, yellow bell peppers, broccoli, red onion and cheddar cheese.  All of the delicious food was prepared by our dear friends Kat and Christina.  Thanks ladies :)  You rocked it!

And what about the birthday girl?  She was having a good ol’ time :)  Looking cute as can be in her rainbow dress and pink leggings.

I think that is about it for Part 2.  Stay tuned for Part 3 coming up later this week where I will share about the cake, party favors and more!

All images were taken by my good friend and talented photographer Rachel Bradshaw of Little Sparrows Photography.

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Harper’s Rainbow Star Party: Part 1

Nothing screams party louder than bright rainbows and shiny stars.  And thanks to my inspiration from the original rainbow cake, I was excited to create a colorful celebration full of yummy food, loving family and good friends.

We all know the first birthday party is really for the parents.  But we couldn’t help but throw a gathering that reflected our gratitude for our little girl.  Having Harper in our life has been such an abundant blessing, we wanted everyone to share in our joy.

So where do we begin?  Well, I have attended plenty of birthday parties in my lifetime but I have never had the privilege of planning a children’s party myself.  It’s hard to pick a theme for a first birthday because the baby is so young, they can’t express what they want it to be like.  But it seems like I tend to be inspired by food.  My wedding ended up being black and white because I wanted my wedding cake to be cookies and cream (my mom’s original recipe…yum!).  And so, Harper’s party ended up being rainbow because I was dying to give the six layer colorful cake a go.  But in typical Heather style, I had to give it an original twist.  I happen to love stars, and recently it seems like Harper has been drawn to them as well (plus her all time favorite song is Twinkle Twinkle), so we meshed the two themes together and settled on a Rainbow Star Party!

Once we had a theme nailed down it was time to look for decorations and visuals that portrayed our ideas.  Coming up with an original theme can be tricky because you kind of have to piecemeal everything together.  There is no one size fits all party package so it takes extra time and effort to find what you need  (especially  if you are as OCD as I am).

And this is where Pinterest comes in.  It is a great tool to search and organize your thoughts and ideas.  I used it as inspiration to find everything from invitations to paper products to recipes.  Don’t know what I would have done without it :)

Once I had a good collection of items pinned on my “Harper is 1” board, I started to narrow down my choices.  We started with the invitations.  Initially, I had a whole slew of different designs picked out.  But once I was able to look at them all at once, we were able to compare them and see which one fit our theme the best.  We ended up going with this design that we found on Etsy.

What we loved about these, besides the amazing design and bright colors, was that we could print them ourselves!  So we didn’t have to wait for them to be shipped.  We just emailed the artist the information we wanted on the invitation, she created it and then sent us a PDF file.  Doesn’t get any easier than that!

Once we had our invitations sent, it was time to get shopping!  Party City here we come :)  We were able to find pretty much everything we needed from party favors to paper products at this store.  Of course, we had to buy six packs of everything so that we stayed with the rainbow theme, but at least we don’t have to buy napkins for a while ;)

In the middle of planning the party, my mom, who was looking forward to coming out to celebrate with us but was unable due to some health problems, called and said she wanted to send Harper some balloons for her party.  Well grandma sure did go above and beyond!  Thanks Mom!

In addition to the amazing rainbow arch, which set the tone for the entire party, each color coded table had a matching bouquet of balloons with a colorful star on top.  They made for fun and interactive center pieces :)

Well, I don’t want to expose all our secrets on the first post.  So that’s all for now.  But come back tomorrow to check out the rest of the decorations, find out more about the food and enjoy some adorable pictures of the birthday girl :)  Stay tuned!

All images were taken by my good friend and talented photographer Rachel Bradshaw of Little Sparrows Photography.

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