Ian's First Birthday Book Party: Activities, Food, and Favors



Sorry it took so long to get back with the second half of Ian's first birthday party! (Isn't the summer just flying by?!) We talked about the invitations and decor here, now I wanted to show you the rest - what we did for "activities", food, and favors.

The chalkboard wall that we painted in our new playroom is coming in handy! I lettered a Happy Birthday sign on it and then left out chalk for guests to leave the little guy a note. Here's Maura testing it out right after I finished. She signed her name as close to her brother's as she could get:)

I've found that it helps to have like one planned activity or craft to keep the kids busy. We had a book making/decorating station set up on the kitchen table with a ton of random art supplies - paint, stickers, foam shapes, glittery jewels, crayons/markers, stamps, pieces of patterned paper.


There were two kinds of books available for the kids to choose from to work on. Small hardback books like these from Rainbow Resource Center (super nice customer service too!)  that had blank white pages inside (for coloring or drawing their own stories) and a blank white cover to decorate. My oldest niece taught Maura the art of scrap booking to do with hers:)

I also bought a bunch of old school copybooks (from Target and Staples) and covered them in brown kraft paper (bought for a dollar a roll at our local Dollar Store!) that the kids could then decorate and use to practice writing their letters or whatever. I also got a bunch of different patterned scrapbook paper from Michaels and used that on the inside front and back covers of the copybooks to add some fun and cover up unsightly edges from the kraft paper. (Each copybook had a different inside pattern, so the kids could pick which one they liked best, and I get to keep these 2 that were left - win/win!) I got the idea for this and followed the tutorial from the sweetest vintage book party over at the "Aesthetic Nest", although she used fabric. (BTW, I used spray glue to both adhere the kraft paper to the cover of the book and to glue the scrapbook paper onto the inside cover...pain in the butt but its what I found that worked the best/less wrinkles.)

It was really fun once they got into it, and I was excited that even some of the adults got in on the action (here's my friend making herself a journal to write about her adorable little 18 month old in).

The only other thing that I had really scheduled to do was have a sort of story time. I asked my aunt (former teacher and one of my primary babysitters) if she would read the kids a story. I threw a bunch of pillows and blankets on the floor in the new playroom to go with the "bedtime" thing. I'll admit that this did not quite go as planned...most of the kids got too distracted by all the toys or their snacks or whatever and kind of walked/crawled off after the first few pages. We had a couple of die hards that stuck with it through the end though and that was sweet:)

The bigger kids just had fun going outside and playing on the swingset. Here's a cute shot of some of them in their pjs waiting to be let outside!

For food, we served snacks for the kids (like fruit salad cups, cheese sticks, yogurt puffs, chips) and appetizers for the adults. We also had a bunch of sweets like cupcakes, donuts, munchkins, and cookies

{most of the paper goods were from Target - I always love to find fun patterned plates and napkins to kick off the party's color scheme}
Since I was using brown kraft paper as a table runner, I thought it would be cool to go around and write/doodle directly onto the paper what all the dishes were. But of course I ran out of time and it didn't happen. This dip was the only thing that wasn't very self-explanatory, so I quickly added this...but wouldn't it have been cool if I had managed to get it done in time before everyone arrived?!

I've always wanted to serve milk in cute plastic bottles with fun straws, so I decided to go for it with this party since I thought it tied in again to the bedtime thing. I found these plastic bottles that came with lids (with a hole already punched in for the straws) here...this way the kids could carry them around without spilling. I've always wondered how you serve milk at a party and keep it cold, so I jury rigged a little cooler action here by setting up the bottles in glass pyrex dishes filled with ice. We served both regular whole and chocolate milk:)

I thought about giving out books for favors, but since ever guest was bringing Ian one I didn't want to be too repetitive. Instead I tried to think of something having to do with the bedtime thing and decided on pillowcases. I bought a pack of a dozen hotel grade white pillowcases from Amazon  and decorated them using cheap fabric paint from Michaels. I monogrammed each one with the child's name and then depending on if they were a girl or a boy hand-stamped a little decorative design around that. I set up the names in the size and font I wanted on the computer and printed them out. I then slipped them (along with a piece of cardboard to protect the paint from bleeding through to the back) inside the pillowcase. That way, since the pillowcases were white, I was able to use the printout as a template and could just basically trace over each name with my paint. The boys got blue fish that I stamped using the stamp I made myself for the drapes in Ian's nursery way back when I was pregnant with him (still have yet to post those pics, oops!) and the girls got a paisley/floral pattern in green using a block print stamp I bought at the Brimfield fair last year (it was really used to block print fabric in Pakistan at one time...I then hand painted on some of the other colors to add more depth/interest). I totally love how they came out and the kids thought they were really cool too!

We had such a fun time celebrating the first year of this little guy's life with family and friends! And we are always going to cherish the books he received that day. Here he is trying out a cupcake for the first time.

And one more of me and my little "Bubs" in his Old Navy pajamas...I love you so much, Buddy!!

Ian's 1st Birthday Book Party: Invites and Decor



Ian turned one at the beginning of the month! So hard to believe. I always get a bit sad at first birthdays. But we had a really fun time celebrating:)

Ian looves to read...its the first thing he wants to do when he wakes up in the morning and right after naps. A lot of the times you will just find him chillin' on the floor in his room or in the "book nook" in our new playroom flipping through a book. So cute! So I decided it might be fun to throw him a book party...and everyone could bring him a book to add to his "library" instead of a gift.

I went old school library card bookplate on the invitations. This is definitely not an original concept...I just browsed etsy and other places for inspiration and ideas and then recreated my own design based on what I liked from others.  I purposely messed with the typewriter and stamped text to get them to look a bit old and worn and imperfect.

I included one of these super sweet personalized bookplates from etsy seller Pera Press in with each invite so that guests could fill them out and stick them into the book that they brought. I think it will be nice to look back in a few years when we are still reading them and remember who each book is from/who was at his first birthday party.


When we decided to have the party at 4pm (after his afternoon nap), I thought it would be fun to also add a kind of "bedtime" story theme spin off to everything...so we asked the kids to come in their pajamas and planned on just serving snacks and desserts (think cookies and milk). This also gave me a bit more to work with in terms of decor, etc than just books. (Think moon and stars and night time.)

To greet guests on their way in from outside, I drew a message on our chalkboard easel and filled the baskets underneath with lots of books we already had. A couple of pre-ordered balloons from Party City (including 2 gold stars) finished things off.

The mantel is an easy spot to redecorate for a party so I had fun adding books here...my old Hardy Boys from when I was little (with brass duck book ends) and Paddington (with matching stuffed animal that I brought home for Maura and Ian when I went to London this winter). 

You guys have seen this custom birthday banner before...I bought it from etsy seller CowCountryCreations when Maura had her first birthday and have used it every birthday since. When Ian's bday was fast approaching, I contacted Michelle to see if she could make me just his name to match and I could re-use the "Happy" and "Birthday" parts (though I restrung them on blue ribbon since Maura's came on hot pink). She was super nice and speedy about it, highly recommend:)

In the dining room where we served the food, I made and hung some simple bunting out of pages from a giant Beatrix Potter book I already had. This was a simple and fun project...I just ripped out the pages I wanted, cut them all to the same size rectangle (6" x 8") using my paper cutter, measured and cut off the sides to make the triangles, scored a small split at the top right and left hand corners of each flag and then strung them on baker's twine from Michaels.

I added a runner of brown kraft paper ($1 for the whole roll at the dollar store - such a great buy!) to the table and for a centerpiece I mixed white and green flowers (from the supermarket) with books and other sort of vintage baby-ish stuff (both Paul and my shoes from when we were babies!).

Just like I did for Maura's first and second birthdays, I made a little garland out of Ian's monthly elephant chair pics...lol, he's just the cutest:)

We served drinks and did a craft project in the kitchen, so I wanted to have some decor here too. I decided to play off the bedtime thing and try to make (as Maura called it) a "night sky" feel in here. I cut a ton of stars out of champagne metallic card stock (using a star cookie cutter as a template) and hung them from the ceiling using clear fishing wire and draped the metallic star garland I purchased from Land of Nod last Christmas from the light. I wanted to try to make the ceiling dark and figured lots of streamers would be the cheapest and quickest way...I couldn't find navy streamers at the party store so I went with a random mix of black and royal blue...this part ended up being a bit more cliche prom than I would have liked, but the kids dug it:) PS. I took the streamers down right after the party but the stars are still hanging from the ceiling now, they just look cool!

I'll post some pics of the other aspects of the party soon (that's a relative term!), but in the meantime, hope everyone has a great July 4th weekend!!

PS. To check out Maura's 2nd birthday party, go here. To see her 3rd birthday fairy party, go here and here:) And I just realized that I probably have to get moving on her 4th birthday party soon...I think we're going to do My Little Ponies!!!

Mixing Vintage and Modern in Maura's Big Girl Room and One Kings Lane Home Resource Guide



Hey!! How is everybody? Don't you guys just love the online home decor retailer One Kings Lane?
I pretty much get sucked in everyday checking out their daily sales, especially when its so easy to browse on my phone while waiting to pick Maura up from pre-school or during that very rare second to myself at the playground. When OKL asked me to share how I mix old and new in my home to help introduce their new Home Resource Guide, I immediately thought it was time to share some pics of Maura's still-in-progress "Big Girl Room". It's still not "done" and on a day-to-day basis its pretty much a mess, but here's some select peaks highlighting how I've started to mix vintage finds and family heirlooms in with modern pieces. 

As soon as we began thinking about moving Maura out of her crib and into a bed, I called my Mom and asked her if I could have the old headboard and foot board that used to be mine when I was growing up. When I was little my walls were peach and I had a peachy small floral comforter, all with the matching end tables and high and low dresser that came as a set. I knew that if I combined just the walnut poster bed with new light and bright bedding and functional and stylish white storage from Ikea, I would have the fresh yet warm look I was after. Plus, how sweet is it that my daughter is sleeping in the bed that I slept in when I was her age? So cool!

{quilt is Pottery Barn's Scalloped Organic Patchwork and the polka dot Ikat pillow is from Home Goods}
I'm still figuring out exactly what my decorating style is (and let's face it, even though this room is Maura's, I gotta love it too!!!), but I now know I love hitting up antique shows and flea markets to find one of a kind pieces with history to incorporate throughout our home. I've made a trip to the infamous Brimfield Antique Show every year since 2009 when I first discovered it. I bought this HUGE wire metal basket from an old slipper factory in NY on my first shopping spree there and it is perfect here in Maura's room to coral all her stuffed animals!

{pink patterned drapes are from Land of Nod and were in her nursery, wall color is Benjamin Moore Woodlawn Blue}
If you didn't already know, I have a thing for vintage and antique ephemera, especially botanical prints. I bought these four 19th century hand-colored lithographs of German flowers at Brimfield when I was pregnant with Maura to hang in her nursery. When she moved down the hall to her big girl room (so Ian could have the baby room), the botanicals came with, we just rehung them in a new configuration above her new dresser.

{Ikea Hemnes 3 drawer chest in white with new knobs from Home Goods, lamp from Home Goods, West Elm's Modernist Bowl in yellow to hold hair bows}

Mixing vintage things with new things gives a space that collected feel. And you don't have to spend a lot of money to do so. Maura is so obsessed with all things horses, My Little Pony, etc. that when I spotted this brass unicorn statue at a local flea market for $5, I didn't hesitate to bring it home with me for the top of her dresser. (I'll be honest, a lot of the times she grabs it off there and we use it as another figure to play with!) It sits on two of my old Cherry Ames books from when I was a kid - more vintage! - and next to the "fairy" house that Maura decorated at her 3rd birthday party.

I'm really proud of the direction this room is going in and Maura loves it too! Bringing in vintage pieces to kid friendly spaces not only looks good, but it makes practical sense too. After all, this stuff has already proved itself in the wear and tear department and its about to get even more of a workout in the years to come. Timeless, classic, sentimental...you can't go wrong:)

So, by the way, technically, I don't really know anything about antiques, or what is real and what is fake, or how much stuff should cost/what's a good bargain. That's why in the past when I've gone to shows like Brimfield I just tend to buy smaller, accessory type items that catch my eye. But maybe I can start to read up on things over on the Home Resource Guide, where you can learn about the history of furniture through the centuries, and next time I head out shopping I'll have a little more confidence:)

Their new site also has tons of helpful articles. If you're looking to mix more old in with your new, here's 8 Ways to Give Your Home a Vintage Feel and even though my old bed was in great shape, I could have used Vintage Furniture: When to Refurbish and When to Replace. And, if I had been really smart, and not in a rush to jump in like I always am, I probably should have read How to Decorate Your Bedroom to Showcase Your Personality before we started on this room!!

Have you guys been adding vintage or antique pieces to any kid spaces lately?

PS. Sorry for the recent blog silence, Ian turned 1 over the weekend (sniff, sniff) and I was cramming for his party! Will share pics of that soon:)

Real Rooms: English Victorian Terrace (The Before, Part 2)



Cheerio! I'm back with the photos of the upstairs of my sister's new house (a very old Victorian Terrace south of the Thames) in London. For the downstairs and exterior pics, click here.

At first I was excited because the runner on the stairs reminds me of a fun Dash and Albert stripe...but then you get upstairs and realize that this stuff is everywhere!

Maybe its a little much?

{Layout wise...that's the master bedroom at the front of the house and second/guest bedroom in that door on the right}
{third bedroom/study at back of house and the only bathroom off to the left}

Guess what is not too much that the upstairs has though? More fireplaces!! Here's the master bedroom at the front of the house. This really pretty bird wallpaper is just on this one wall. Anyone recognize this pattern? A designer friend who was coincidentally touring the house while I was said that it might be hand-stamped...that'd be awesome!

There's literally like no closets in this house. Is that an English thing? These wardrobes make up the storage in the master, but neither of the other bedrooms have them.

Here's the guest room right next door. Another fireplace! Another mantel to decorate:) These recessed areas on either side have so much potential! Swap out the shelving for something with more contrast and texture? Rip them out entirely and add built in wardrobes? Fit a dresser or desk underneath? Any ideas?

Down the hall is the bathroom, which the previous owners renovated. Its bright and modern with a tub/towel warmer and stall shower.

At the back of the house is the smaller third bedroom which Laura and Charlie will probably use as an office or something. The wide floor boards are painted white in here:) Love the tall baseboard trim throughout the house, I so wish we had that everywhere in our home. There's also another accent wall of wallpaper, this metallic tree print.

Thanks for coming along on the tour! I love this place, it has so much charm and character and loads of potential:) Like I mentioned last post, we are desperately looking for some good British sources for furniture, accessories, anything home decor related. One reader (hi, Denise!!!) suggested reading blogs of home decor enthusiasts living in England! Such a good idea...duh, why didn't I think of this myself!? Do you guys know of any good UK blogs?

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