Re-redecorating Luke's room

Remember when we redecorated Luke's room a few years ago? I still loved it. Still loved the navy blue furniture, the light gray walls, and the setup. But for several reasons, we recently redid it.....again.

Sadly, my grandmother passed away last fall. My parents were kind enough to offer some of the furniture from her house, and I was happy to have some special pieces of hers. One of the bedroom sets was perfect for Luke: a full-size bed for our growing tween, and a really nice corner desk/dresser combo that would give him the workspace he lacked in his current room. If we wanted it, we needed to take it, so another room shift ensued. 

I purchased some full-sized bedding and some accessories, and luckily the neutral gray walls, white curtain panels, and woven blinds still work fine with the new setup. I'm still looking for some wall art – once it is all set up, I'll post the final results, but here are some in-progress peeks. 

Oceanside, CA Family Vacation Review

Oceanside California and Legoland travel review

Several years ago, I wrote a little review about a trip we took to Oceanside, California. The funny thing was that we just sort of accidentally ended up there when my husband was looking for hotels near Legoland. We had a great time, but didn't make our way back for several years. Turns out that family friends of ours have a vacation rental in Oceanside. My parents rent the house once or twice a year, and when we can, we tag along for a few days. We went this past year over Labor Day weekend, and had a wonderful time. 

Oceanside is a laid-back, casual beach town, not nearly as pretentious of some of its ritzy Southern California neighbors. In my book that makes it perfect for a relaxed family getaway. While we love Tucson, the east coast girl in me misses the beach and needs to see the ocean every now and then. This trip to the coast helped us to regroup and breathe a little before we jumped into a jam-packed fall full of school, homework, sports, work, and activities.

Because the house we rent is right on the beach, we spend 90% of our time there. We drink our coffee in the morning, watching the surfers until the kids decide to change into bathing suits and begin their day - digging in the sand, jumping waves, collecting shells, and meeting other kids on the beach. Notice I said nothing about watching TV or playing video games - that's the beauty of this vacation; they can keep themselves busy for hours at the beach!

At night we sometimes grill out - Fish House Vera Cruz in Carlsbad has a beautiful selection of fresh fish; this year we picked up some swordfish and threw that on the grill, baked some potatoes, and had a fantastic meal while we watched the sun set. Food really does taste better at the beach!

Oceanside, CA sunset

We also ate at Hello Betty Fish House for the first time. I loved the casual concept with the big open windows and nice selection of Baja-inspired food. I had fish tacos that were great. After dinner we took a walk on the Oceanside Pier. The pier was pretty crowded in the evening, unlike the times we'd walked it during the day. 

 

This year we decided to revisit Jake's Del Mar, a restaurant we had eaten at once before, for another dinner. It's a little drive down the coast from Oceanside, but it's fun to see the scenery down the Pacific Coast Highway if you choose not to take the freeway. The views are spectacular and the servers are very attentive despite the crowds, so all in all it was a nice evening. 

One of our days was spent at Legoland, just a few minutes down the road in Carlsbad. Truthfully, at 8 and 10, my kids are getting to be a little old for Legoland as they're starting to enjoy more daring rides at other theme parks, but my son is still a die-hard Lego fan and my daughter actually won the tickets in a coloring contest by our local TV station, so why not?! The kids found out about their MiniFigure trading program (How did we not know about this before? You can bring your MiniFigures and trade them with park employees.) so they were excited to do that, and it was fun to see the actual set of The Lego Movie in person. My son is still dreaming of the day when he can get the Lego Death Star, so he enjoyed seeing that on the Lego Movie set too. We enjoyed the gorgeous weather and fun family day, so it was a nice outing and added a little variety to the trip.

One of our favorite traditions is to end the trip with a big breakfast at Beachbreak Cafe before we load up the car for the long drive back to Tucson. This is a great local place with tons of delicious breakfast options - bring your appetite!

That's it for this trip, but we're definitely hoping a return visit to Oceanside is in the cards for 2015.

First Communion Invitations - New in the Shop!

One of the most popular categories in my Etsy shop at this time of year is First Communion invitations. I love designing items for these pretty spring celebrations, and I really enjoyed creating custom designs for my own son's First Communion a few years ago. 

I've had some pretty, simple silhouette invitations in the shop for a few years, so this year I decided to update them with a few different options of watercolor backgrounds and a modern calligraphy script. I love the way they came out, and the background is super simple to modify for customers who want different colors. You can check them out here, and I can create cupcake toppers, thank-you notes, and other printables to coordinate with these themes as well.

Easy and Budget-Friendly Lavender Chevron Birthday Party Theme

My daughter's birthday was in August, and this year she requested a small family birthday party, which was just fine with me! That gave me an opportunity to focus on some cute details without stressing over a big, expensive bash. 

girls'  chevron maxi dress

Maggie's favorite color is lavender, so we used that as our starting point. She asked to get a comfortable maxi dress to wear for the party, and when I came across this dress on Lolly Wolly Doodle, we decided to purchase it and use a chevron print in the decor too.  If you're looking for cute girls' clothes, whether for a party or not, I recommend checking out Lolly Wolly Doodle's website and Facebook page - I love supporting another mom-owned business, and they have a fantastic success story about how they grew their business! They'll monogram their items very inexpensively, so that adds a cute personalized touch.

I designed a simple invitation that we emailed to the family - similar to this chevron invitation I'm now carrying in my Etsy shop - I'm able to customize it for whatever color scheme my clients need, so it's a really versatile design.

We set up a little drink and snack station within easy reach for all of the little cousins, and decorated with some inexpensive and cute tissue paper flowers, crepe paper streamers, and a banner I designed to coordinate with the theme:

I got the chevron paper drinking straws from this Etsy shop - I loved that it was another Etsy seller from Arizona, and she has tons of color options and other cute items (treat bags, washi tape, twine) that are perfect for parties.

Rather than ice cream, Maggie wanted a make-your-own sundae bar like Luke had for his birthday party earlier this year. 

It was a very relaxed get-together and we all had a great time - and I had a happy eight (!!) year old.


best pumpkin cookie recipe

best pumpkin cookie recipe

It may not feel like fall in Arizona, but I'm so tired of summer weather that I'm not waiting any longer. We dusted off the fall decorations today and my house is sporting some pumpkins and (fake) fall leaves. It's time to make my favorite pumpkin cookies - check out this old post for the details!

Origami Yoda Birthday Party

origami yoda birthday party ideas

For my son's 10th birthday, he wanted to have his first sleepover. We agreed to a small gathering of just a few of his friends, and decided on an Origami Yoda theme, since that book series was one of his current favorites and the boys love anything Star-Wars related, so we had a lot of options for this one! 

I gathered all of his Origami Yoda books for inspiration for the invitation and decor. Using the black background and lime green as an accent color, this was the invitation design:

Origami Yoda Birthday Party Invitation
Origami Yoda Birthday Party decor

 

If you have a 10-year-old boy in your life, you can imagine how much he cares about party decor ("seriously, Mom, centerpieces?!") - Luke really just wanted a fun time with his friends, but I couldn't help but do a little something to make it fun and festive. And even he admitted it was "cool." I didn't fuss too much, but I got my assistant to create some tissue paper pom-poms in the black and lime green color scheme. I set up a (short-lived) display with the Origami Yoda books and another book Luke had, so that the boys would have them for some activities...

origami yoda birthday party
origami yoda birthday party decor

 

With Luke's birthday falling right after Christmas, I always luck out with decor if I can work green or red into the theme. I picked up these sparkly clusters of plasticky fake leaves, completely unsure of what I was going to do with them. I threw them into little vases with pebbles and bunched up foil tissue paper from Dollar Tree, and in about 10 seconds I had some fun centerpieces - I also ran metallic wrapping paper across the dining room table, which was where the boys would be hanging out. Fun and functional, as it protected the table from the coming mayhem.

origami yoda birthday party decor

Because we agreed that this would be a very small gathering, I was able to purchase nicer favors than I can when we have a big crowd, and in this case, the favors were going to double as the evening's activities as well, I got each boy (and of course Luke's little sister!) a pack of this origami paper from amazon.com. Make sure you shop around for this kind of thing - I had seen it for double the price at Michael's and was so glad I checked Amazon! I also got each guest a fine-tip black Sharpie, a silver Sharpie, and a roll of fun colored washi tape - some of Luke's favorite origami tools. You can get the Sharpies and washi tape at any discount store, office supply store, or Michael's, but also check Etsy for some really cute, fun washi tape patterns. We put the goodies in a white lunch bag with stickers I designed, along with some origami folding instructions we got from the Origami Yoda website. The boys went to town, making all kinds of fun and crazy creations. Evidence of the fun:

We concluded the crafty part of the evening with an epic (their word!) paper airplane making contest, and then moved on to pizza and make-your-own ice cream sundaes. The boys then wound down with a showing of Star Wars and happily crashed for the night. This was such a fun party, and I love how intent the boys were on their projects – it kept them busy and content for hours – hooray! If you have a child who is around this age, check out the Origami Yoda book series - a big hit for them!

Linking up here - click the image below to link to lots of great ideas and inspiration!

The Idea Room

Fairy birthday party

One of my favorite birthday party themes that we've done for my daughter is her fairy party. I designed a cute fairy invitation, with a pink watercolor background and silhouettes: 

For the cake, I bought the delicious chocolate round cake from Costco and just spruced it up with a bunch of sprinkles and a topper I designed to coordinate with the theme. We placed it on a dessert table decorated with a banner and tissue paper pom-poms. I purchased fairy wings, tutus, and wands for the girls to wear at the party and take home as favors (comment below if you want the source - great prices!). It was fun, cute, and a great memory for my daughter!

fairy themed little girl's birthday party

First Communion Invitation and Party

It's a busy time of year for my Etsy shop - I always do a lot of invitations and party printables for people celebrating their children's First Communion. Check out the invitation and party I did for my own son's First Communion last year. I went with a simple, clean gray design for the invitation:

And for the party, a table setup including wheat and grapes (a little Catholic symbolism there) and a fabulous cake by Lucy at Pretty Sweet Desserts (chocolate and salted caramel buttercream!) that she designed to coordinate with the theme:

We had a barbecue lunch catered and invited close family and friends - a perfect way to celebrate Luke's special day!

girl's room DIY update - new lavender paint and built-ins

lavender girl's room makeover with built in shelves and gold sconces image.jpg

I posted years ago when we updated Maggie's room from a toddler room with a crib to a room with a "big-girl bed" and a few adjustments to the decor. More recently, we did a bigger overhaul since the walls were due for repainting - and repainting leads to rearranging, which leads to the need for more storage....and on and on it goes. 

I loved the yellow walls in her room, but it seemed silly to keep the same color if we were going to go to all of the trouble to move everything and paint, and it had been six years.....so it was time for something new. She wasn't really ready for a "tween" room, and I"m not a big fan of theme decor, but her one request was lavender. So lavender it was. I did a lot of looking for a shade with a bit of muted earthiness to it - nothing too bubble-gum or neon. I also want the room to be light and bright, so I was worried about going with too dark of a shade. I'm pretty happy with the one we chose. 

I was inspired by this image, which I found via Pinterest and originally from this site

white built-in shelves with sconces from abodelove.blogspot.com.png

I loved the open, white shelves and the gold sconces. Chad created a similar setup - the nice folks at Lowes even cut the shelves to size for us, saving him a few steps in the construction process. We still want to put cabinet doors on the lower shelves, and perhaps build a bridge over the bed like the inspiration photo.

I bought inexpensive sconces from Ikea, spray-painted them gold, and was happy with the result:

gold sconces with lavender walls girls room.jpg

To organize her accessories, we painted a pegboard the same lavender and added hooks - perfect for her many hats, belts, scarves, etc. 

I added a few other lavender accessories (some of them spray-painted with Krylon ColorMaster in Gum Drop), canvas wall art from Wayfair, and we were done - a fun, fresh made-over room on a very small budget!

a boy's room makeover

Although it didn't seem that long ago that we did a little sprucing in Luke's room, the time had come for a major overhaul. This overhaul was needed mostly because Luke hates to get rid of anything, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to get any semblance of order with all of his STUFF. Added to that was the dire need for new paint on the walls and a better system for organizing his belongings.....and perhaps most importantly, a place to display his prized Lego creations. We also had a very, very low budget for the whole makeover.

We started by emptying the room of everything except for the furniture, and that was no small task. Chad then began the process of painting the room a pale, clean gray (Behr Silver Drop) and I did some thorough cleaning. We shipped the kids off to the grandparents' for an overnight, and then we set to work organizing. We spread out all of Luke's belongings out and categorized them – stuffed animals, cards (Pokemon, Bakugan, Ninjago, etc.), Legos, action figures, cars, books, the list goes on.... We made a pile of items to donate and brainstormed about how to organize the other items.

For the stuffed animals that were too sentimental to give away, I purchased two large canvas bins from HomeGoods, and we placed those, full of stuffed animals and too-young but special toys, into the display nook above his closet.

For the rocks and seashells that he just. could. not. part. with., I bought large acrylic canisters (also from HomeGoods) so that they'd be on display, neat, and new arrivals to these cherished collections would have a home. Luke was pretty excited about these, and we also added a couple for special Lego parts.

We added new hardware to the furniture that we painted navy blue a few years ago

Chad designed and built shelves for Lego and toy displays, and we painted them a slightly darker shade of gray.

We added a few new accessories – a lamp and shade purchased on clearance at Target, coverlets from IKEA, and accent pillows from HomeGoods.

We reassembled the room and were finally finished! It is so nice, bright, and clean  – I no longer cringe when I go in there. Here's hoping it lasts!