Holiday Card Display with Caravan Printables

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Holiday cards make the season bright for me! It’s always nice to find cards from loved ones among all of the bills, catalogs, and junk mail in the mailbox. I love that photo cards are so commonplace now and that I get to see the smiling faces of our friends and family on their cards. Because I enjoy receiving holiday cards so much, I make sure to send them out to a pretty extensive list every year. With all the craziness that takes place in December, sometimes they end up being New Years cards, but I’m ok with that too.

I’ve never found a way to display the cards that we receive that is perfect for us and our home. This year I decided to try something new and I am so excited with how it turned out. I’ve always admired the oversized printable posters that Caravan Shoppe has available for the holidays. I downloaded their Bright Season Printable Poster for free and sent it to Staples to be printed as a 36 x 48″ engineering print. The large scale black and white print cost me less than $8! I secured the poster to my wall in my entryway using blue painter’s tape and then hung a snowflake garland to frame it. There was lots of space around the words on the poster to hang holiday cards. I attached glittery clothespins directly to the poster, but you could also use more painter’s tape to stick the cards on.

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Since it’s not quite December, we haven’t received any cards yet this year. I pulled out some of my favorites from past years so that I could share this holiday card display idea with you ASAP. I always keep the photo cards that we receive each year and it’s so fun looking through them when I pull out the Christmas boxes to decorate the house. I especially love to see the cards that I’ve created with our family photos to send out in recent years. It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that we were a family of 3 just two years ago. Crazy!

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Just like in past years, I ordered Tiny Prints holiday cards from Shutterfly this year. In my opinion, navy blue can be incorporated into almost any color palette… it’s my favorite! I was so excited to find this navy blue Christmas design from Hello Little One that also tied in more traditional red and green foliage along with a beautiful deep turquoise color. The color palette on the tri-fold Fantastic Festive Foliage holiday card coordinated perfectly with our gorgeous family portraits that we took with Angela Garzon Photography earlier this year. And, because I’m crazy like that, I was also able to coordinate the envelope liner and the custom envelope addressing perfectly with our card. All that made this stylist very happy!

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Time for me to grab a cup of coffee and start stuffing those envelopes so that I can make the season a little brighter for our family’s loved ones.  If you’re looking for a fun way to make stuffing, addressing, sealing, and stamping a little less of a chore, check out my Holiday Preparation Party for ideas about getting all of that done with friends.

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Printable Poster Holiday Card Display

– Printable Holiday Poster from Caravan Printables ( I used this one)
Blue Painter’s Tape
Glitter Clothespins
– Hot Glue or Craft Glue
– Garland or Lights (optional)

Directions:

  • Print the poster as a 36 x 48″ engineering print. I like to use my local Staples print center for this. 
  • Secure the poster to your wall using plenty of blue painter’s tape rolled and hidden behind the poster along the edges. 
  • Frame the poster by hanging a garland around it if you wish. 
  • Use hot glue or craft glue to secure the clothespins onto to the poster in the negative space around the words.
  • Clip up your holiday cards as you receive them in the mail.

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Build Your Own Snowman Kit: a holiday classroom gift

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There is so much joy in giving and I want to teach my children all about that joy now when they are young. During the holiday season there are so many opportunities to give, so it’s the perfect time to involve the kids. A classroom gift was a natural way to incorporate giving since we love our school family and want to celebrate the holidays with them. My six-year-old daughter helped me assemble and test out our Build Your Own Snowman Kit gift and she is so excited to hand them out to her classmates before the winter holiday break.

When thinking about what we wanted to give, we decided to avoid a sugary treat since they are already so abundant this time of year. We also wanted to stick to a winter themed gift to be sure to include all of our friends that celebrate different holidays in December. With the 2 week winter break from school, I thought parents might appreciate an activity that would keep little hands busy for some time. And thus, the Build Your Own Snowman Kits were born!

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You could use any number of supplies to create your own version of this gift, but I’ll show you what we used to get you started. Oriental Trading had everything we needed to make this idea a reality. We used white Crayola Model Magic as our modeling agent, but clay or play dough would also work well. We love Model Magic because it’s fun to play with, easy to model with, and it air-dries so you can make your final creation permanent! It’s also paintable, so you can use your leftover white Model Magic for another project. We included lots of crafting supplies like buttons, ribbon, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, craft foam, and faux snow. With 2 (1 oz) packs of Model Magic I made two snowmen and my daughter was able to make 6 tiny snowmen.

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Here are our test run creations. The top snowmen were made by my 6.5 year old (complete with eyelashes drawn on) and the bottom snowmen were made by me. They remind me a little of Sam the Snowman from the stop-motion movie classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

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All of the supplies looked awesome packaged up in clear boxes with ribbon and a printable tag. I designed our custom tag with a mention of the city we live in since it actually never snows in San Diego. For all of you I made a matching tag for your kids to write in the to and from fields. In addition to classroom gifts, these kits would make great favors for children’s holiday parties or gifts for your friend’s kids.

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Build Your Own Snowman Kit

I was able to find everything I needed from Oriental Trading. You might have some of these things on hand already!

– 4″ Clear Plastic Favor Boxes
Small Plastic Craft Bags
Iridescent Metallic Shreds
White Crayola Model Magic
– Christmas Bag of Buttons
Watch Them Wiggle Eyes
– Craft Snow
Black Top Hat Beads
– Orange Craft Foam
– Ribbon
Printable Tags (click to download)

Directions:

  • Assemble the plastic favor boxes and place the iridescent shreds in the bottom.
  • Place all of the smaller supplies together in the small plastic bags.
  • Put 2 1 ounce packs of Model Magic, the small bag of supplies, pipe cleaners, etc. into the box. 
  • Close up the box and wrap with ribbon. Secure with tape and place your printable tag on top. 
  • Experience the joy of giving!

 

 

Gratitude and Gifting with JORD Wood Watches

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Gratitude and gifting are big things this time of year and I want to take the time to lavish some love on someone important. Someone who is loving, funny, and supportive in more ways than I can count. Someone that is nearly impossible to buy a gift for. Sound familiar? I’m talking about my husband… my partner in crime in this little life that we’re building together. 

Funny enough, I am not the romantic half of our equation. Instead of grand gestures, I prefer love to be shown in small, quiet ways. Sometimes it’s the little things in life, and one of the little things that he does for me is to fill my cup… literally! I carry a water bottle around with me constantly, and he always makes sure I have a full bottle before we leave the house or go to bed. It sounds silly, but that full water bottle sitting on my nightstand means he thought of me and wanted to take care of me. He also fills up other important cups like my coffee mug and my wine glass. What a guy! He also fills my gas tank when he can. That means so much to me since it’s a chore that I detest. And as long as we’re on that subject of cars, he almost always drives when we travel with our family. Driving has never been one of my favorite things to do and it’s so nice to have someone else take the wheel. These may sound like trivial, little gestures, but he makes me love him more each time he fulfills those quirky little needs (wants?) that I have.

My cup is full on a more figurative level as well thanks to my husband. He fills our home with laughter, my heart with love, and me with confidence. He gave me our two sweet kiddos that fill our lives with giggles (for the purposes of this gratitude post, I’ll just pretend that those giggles don’t come with a whole bunch of whining and arguing too). Most importantly, after all of our years together, he can still make me laugh. I really think that’s a significant part of the glue that holds us together. JORD Wood Watch 1

In the spirit of gratitude, I want the universe to know that I am so thankful to have a husband that is a true partner and also my best friend. I know I mentioned earlier that I’m not very romantic, but every once in a while I do like to surprise my husband and treat him to a sentimental gift to show my love. That’s not always an easy feat for a guy that I’ve been giving gifts to for over 15 years. That’s a lot of birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmases! At this point in life, he has what he needs and buys what he wants for himself when he thinks of it. That’s why I was so excited to learn about JORD wood watches and the fun options they have for personalizing their unique wooden timepieces.

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I selected this gorgeous Kosso & Gray watch from the Hyde series for my husband. The minimalist design of this wood watch makes such a nice statement and it really looks great on my guy. He has told me several times how much he loves wearing it and I’m so happy I could gift him a little something to remind him of how special he is to me. JORD Wood Watch 2

As if the watch itself wasn’t awesome enough, JORD offers the option of engraving the backplate of the watch with your own message. I wanted to be a little punny and use a reference to time in my message, but I also wanted it to be sweet. I ended up choosing a quote from the song we danced to for our first dance as husband and wife at our wedding… Shining Star by The Manhattans. This extra touch made so much difference in making this gift unique and special. Although I didn’t choose this option, they also offer engraving on the beautiful wood box that the watch comes in. For this option you can even upload a file of a message in your own handwriting to have them engrave for you. I can just imagine all of the ways you could personalize these cool watches for your loved one. If you need ideas, check out this board on Pinterest for some examples of what you could engrave on your watch.

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Who fills you up? I’d love to hear what’s on their holiday wish list for gifts this year. Maybe a sleek wooden watch would be a fun surprise for them. There are so many beautiful options for both men and women. Be sure to click here for your holiday instant coupon code. JORD is sharing their biggest deals of the year and you can save 25% off! Have fun gifting.


Wooden Wristwatch

Pear Oat Squares

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I’m always searching for new, healthy snack ideas for our family that have real food ingredients. Bonus points if it doesn’t come in a package. That usually means putting in a little work to make something from scratch, but I don’t mind doing that ahead of time so that I know we have quick snacks to grab for the week. These Pear Oat Squares only have 4 ingredients and come together pretty quickly in the food processor. Totally worth it to know that my kids are eating something that’s good and good for them.

Pears are probably my favorite dried fruit. Something about that sweet, slightly grainy texture just does it for my taste buds. Paired with dates, oats, and some spices they are just irresistible. I’ve written the recipe to include the ever-popular pumpkin pie spice. If you don’t have that in your spice collection, some combination of cinnamon, ginger, and/or cardamom should work just fine. Make sure you use old-fashioned oats and not the quick version.

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Look at those oats! Don’t they just scream wholesome??

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Four simple ingredients come together into a ball of dough. After that, just shape, cut, and roll in more oats. Voila… little nuggets of delicious fall flavor!

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Innobaby sent me these handy airtight, non-toxic, leak-proof snack boxes and they are perfect for sending these Pear Oat Squares to school or work for snack time. I love that they have a removable divider to keep foods separated. They are also insulted to keep food cold or warm longer. The best part is that the lids are easy to snap on and off. I’ve had other stainless steel containers before that my preschooler couldn’t open herself. Kids can feel independent while getting their own Keepin’ Smart lid off at school. I am looking forward to using these containers to pack fun and healthy snacks for my kids. They will even help support our school’s waste free lunch initiative.

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Pear Oat Squares

Yield: approx. 25 1 inch squares
Ingredients:

1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup pitted Medjool dates
1 1/2 cups dried pears
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or some combination of cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom)

Directions:
  • Place oats in the bowl of your food processor and pulse until ground. Some small pieces will remain… you don’t want to process so much that you make it into flour.
  • Set aside 1/4 cup of the processed oats in a small bowl. Put the rest of the ingredients into the bowl of the food processor with the remaining 3/4 cup of ground oats. Process until a ball of dough starts to form (see photos). 
  • Use plastic wrap to line a loaf pan or another small pan. I used a 5×5″ square glass container. Leave some extra plastic wrap hanging over each side. Press your dough into the bottom of your pan to shape it. I like to fold the extra plastic wrap over to help smooth it out. 
  • Unmold the dough block from your pan and plastic wrap and place it on a cutting board. Cut the block into approximate 1″ squares. I recommend using a sharp knife dipped in water to prevent sticking.
  • Press the sides of each square into the small bowl of ground oats to cover them evenly. 
  • Pack up your Pear Oat Squares for snacks! You can store the squares at room temperature or in the fridge for longer storage.

adapted from Weelicious: 140 Fast, Fresh, and Easy Recipes. Her Apple Oat Bar version of this recipe is also a huge hit in our house. 

Go, Dog. Go! Halloween Costume

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Do you get to pick out your kid’s Halloween costumes? I got to pick for my youngest kiddo this year, and I want to share his semi-DIY Go, Dog. Go! costume that I made with a little help from Oriental Trading. The costume was inspired by P.D. Eastman’s classic Book of Things That Go. We love reading this book together in our house. It’s so perfect for a toddler who’s favorite words are “woof woof”, “car”, and “Go!”.

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In my opinion, the first few years of Halloween for a kid are always the best. For at least the first two years, the parents get to pick out the costume! By the third or fourth year they have probably formed their own opinions about what they’d like to dress up as and your vote won’t really matter any longer. For my daughter’s first Halloween, we dressed her up as an adorable ladybug. The second year she was a cute little witch. By the third year her opinion edged in and she was a fairy (Tinkerbell if you asked her). That fourth year was the kicker though… by then she insisted that it was a Disney Princess or nothing.

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For his first Halloween, my boy was a cuddly giraffe and I almost died of cuteness. Read below for a few more details of this year’s Go, Dog. Go! Costume.

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Go, Dog. Go! is a book about dogs using different modes of transportation. For this costume, I decided to focus on a dog in a car since my son loves cars so much. First, I picked out the cutest puppy costume from Oriental Trading’s selection of toddler costumes. Then I found this Color Your Own Race Car costume to pair it with. I figured I could customize the car to look more like the ones in the book with a little paint. The cardboard isn’t necessarily meant to be painted, but I tested it out and can tell you that it works just fine. I used two light coats of red acrylic paint for the body and gray for the wheels. Just for fun, I printed out a custom  Go, Dog. Go! license plate to tape onto the back.

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I didn’t think I could get my little guy to wear the costume and keep a hat and driving goggles on too. He did let me put a blue scarf on to complete his Go, Dog. Go! look though. He loved climbing in and out of his car and carrying it around. I can’t wait for my little dog to drive around the block for Halloween trick or treating!

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Puppy Pawty: a second birthday party

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Come, Sit, Stay… check out this adorable Puppy Pawty that I styled for one of my favorite clients. I’ve had the pleasure of working on many projects for this awesome couple, including a bridal shower and baby shower. Last year I put together a super cute first birthday party brunch for their daughter and I couldn’t believe it when they got in touch and asked me to start working on her second birthday party. A year can fly by so quickly!

Since we’ve worked together so many times now, they just gave me a few guiding details and I ran with it. Their darling little girl loves dogs and they had already purchased a Birthday Girl shirt with candles in pink, orange, turquoise, and cornflower blue. Theme and color palette- Done! All that was left to do is pull together a set of printables and some fun doggy details.

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I loved working with this fun dog theme so much. My own son is 18 months old and loves a good “woof, woof” so I felt like I had great insight into what it’s like to be a huge doggy fan.

Check out these pawty details that you’ll love:

  • Puppy Adoption Favors complete with dog houses and adoption certificates
  • Adorable Doggy Cookies from NatSweets
  • Air Walking Dog Balloons
  • Fun Themed Snacks- Puppy Chow and Scooby Snacks
  • Dog Speak banners- “ruff, ruff, ruff!” and “woof woof!”
  • Floral Arrangements with Dog Treats

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Concept, styling and stationery design: a la Mo | Cookies: NatSweets | Walking Dog Balloons: Amazon | Birthday Girl shirt: Old Navy | Dog House Gable Boxes: Paper Mart | Gold Metallic WOOF balloons: PartyHaus

So Long, Summer…

It’s been pretty quiet around here all summer, so I wanted to give you a peak at what I’ve been up to lately. I’ve been momming these two cuties.

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I’m so happy that we had Angela Garzon Photography capture these images of our family earlier in the summer. We went on a little mini adventure in Mission Trails Park and Angela worked her magic with my children. A short “nature walk” in the park brought us to a beautiful natural location that looks like it’s in the middle of nowhere. My kids loved exploring and playing in the dirt while I cringed about them getting dirty. Angela let them have fun and it shows in the way she captured them in these photos. She even managed to get the posed smiley photos she knew I would want too.

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So much has happened in the short time since we took these family photos. The kids grow quickly and it’s so sweet to have these images to remember this time before my oldest lost 3 of her front teeth and before my youngest had his first haircut. I love that I have this little slice of our summer to treasure forever. You can see more from our session with Angela here.

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This mom job is not always as glamorous as it looks here, but I love it. Balance was becoming a struggle for me during summer break though. Ok, it’s always a challenge, but it was even more of a struggle than usual. Having my two kids home full time made it hard to accomplish my usual business tasks and keep up with blogging and social media. Something had to give, so I took a step back from social media. At first it wasn’t a conscious decision, but after a few days off I realized that I felt kind of free. Giving myself permission to skip my daily post on Instagram freed up more time than I would have thought. It gave me back some precious time to focus on the kids and on some design projects I was working on (more on those later!).

The end of summer is bittersweet, but I’ve been easing back in to a more relaxed routine now that school has started. I have more time to dedicate to creating fun projects and inspiring content now. I hope to use that time well and to connect with more of you in a meaningful way. I’m all ears If you have any tips for managing that delicate balance between being a wife, mom, and business owner while practicing self care. I know I’m not alone in this struggle and I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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Just Maui’d Pineapple Pool Party

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We technically still have 3 more weeks to go, but the unofficial end to summer is upon us. School is back in session, the days are getting shorter, and Labor Day is here. In many places, the weather is probably getting cooler by the day too. Meanwhile, here in San Diego, we are living out yet another 100+ degree heat wave. Needless to say, our pool season is still in full effect. That’s how I can comfortably justify sharing the details of this “Just Maui’d” pool party with you this late in the summer.

At the time of this post, I’ll be on Maui, Hawaii celebrating the marriage of a truly special couple. I’ve been privileged to be a small part of the team that’s helping them create the wedding of their dreams (but more on that in a different post). A destination wedding like this one means wanting to spend as much time as possible creating memories with your guests that have traveled far and wide to be with you. And when you get married on Maui, the logical thing to do the day after the ceremony and reception is to host a fabulous pool party.

I don’t plan to do a lot of work on this trip, but I do want to add a few special touches to their day-after pool party. Besides, it’s hard to call party styling work when it brings me so much joy. I put together some of the details at home first so I could share them with you. Hopefully, I’ll get some good photos of the real deal that I can add to this post later.

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We chose to include golden pineapples in the pool party decor because of their symbolism of warmth, welcome, friendship, and hospitality. Big thanks to my friends at Oriental Trading Company for sending some fun goodies to put this all together. I wouldn’t normally have thought of OTC for wedding decor, but I was surprised that they have so many great products that work well for weddings and related events. Here are some details of this “Just Maui’d” pool party that you won’t want to miss:

  • Gold pineapple temporary tattoos. These work amazingly well and were so shiny and cute when applied.
  • Personalized water bottle labels commemorating the occasion and themed cups for celebratory cocktails
  • Balloon garland with tropical greenery. The leaves I used were super light-weight, so they worked great when just tucked into the balloons with a little tape.
  • Trucker style hats to keep the bridal party cool and coordinated.
  • Black and white beach towels for the new Mr. and Mrs.

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Aloha, friends!

Wed, White & Booze: Joint Bachelor(ette) Weekend Favors

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I’m going to age myself a little bit here, but my husband and I are coming up on our 12th wedding anniversary this Fall. Back when we got married (before Pinterest, gasp!) it was common to have a bachelorette night out on the town. Some brides and grooms might even have taken a quick weekend trip to Las Vegas to celebrate their last single days. In more recent years though, it seems like it’s more commonplace to have a full-on vacation with your best friends before the big day. Destination bachelorette “parties” are definitely a fun trend and I’m a little bummed I missed out on it.

This favor project was put together for a bride and groom that are planning a joint destination bachelor + bachelorette party in Austin, Texas. Members of the bridal party are traveling from both coasts, so they decided to meet up in the middle to celebrate the impending nuptials. They rented an amazing house that’s big enough for everyone to stay in together. The house is perfect for entertaining and even has a gorgeous pool that will inevitably be used for a wild pool day for the entire crew.

When the maid of honor asked me to create a logo for this unique bachelor + bachelorette celebration we talked about a western theme to honor the destination for the trip. Because this was all taking place right around the Fourth of July, the color palette naturally leaned towards patriotic with red, white, and blue. We settled on the theme “Wed, White & Booze” for a fun spin on those colors that is totally appropriate for this event. For the favors we wanted to create something memorable that would also be useful during the trip. Each favor tote bag includes a magazine for reading poolside, bottled water, themed cups for cocktails, snacks, and a Wed, White & Booze Survival Kit.

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I used wedding favor boxes with a heart cutout from Oriental Trading to package the survival kits. I taped a coordinating printable to show through the little heart window, but that’s completely optional. If you want to create something similar, here are some ideas for items to include in your bachelor or bachelorette weekend Survival Kits:

  • mints or gum
  • hair ties
  • pain reliever
  • natural hangover remedy
  • drink mix: iced coffee or electrolyte sports drink
  • sunscreen
  • lip balm
  • candy or other small treat

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After I put the survival kits together, I popped them into individual tote bags with the other gift items. I think the cowboy boot mugs and wine glasses are hilariously awesome and I hope the guests think so too. To finish things up, each tote bag got a printable tag with the event logo tied to the handle. The contents of this fun favor bag should make the bachelor + bachelorette party guests a little more comfortable during their stay in Austin, TX. I hope they all have a blast celebrating the last fling before the rings!

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Styling, Printables, and Photography: Party a la Mo  | Favor packaging, Cowboy Boot Cups, etc. : Oriental Trading Company | Survival Kit contents: Target

Tea & Toast to Motherhood

mothersday17_036The inspiration for this shoot was my grandmother’s breakfast. No, really… she’s been having tea and toast for breakfast for as far back as I can remember. When Jayme of Mint Studio asked me to style a Mother’s Day tea for an upcoming paper flower workshop, Tea & Toast was what came to mind. As I thought about working with this theme I was inspired to play off of the double meaning of toast. We served some beautiful crostini that was definitely not my grandmother’s toast. I loved this modern spin on the most basic of foods though. We also toasted motherhood with a delicious tea-based cocktail. We kept the color palette ultra feminine with shades ranging from pretty pink to a deep plum.

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Loren from Four Things Paper created the most beautiful stationery inviting our guests to parTEA. She covered all the details from the coordinating envelope liner to the gorgeous calligraphy addresses and matching vintage stamps. As with the invitation, there was also lots of pink watercolor texture in the other pieces she created for the event too. The recipe card signage for the Hibiscus Tea Margarita we served was one of my favorite pieces. It was the perfect nod to the moms and grandmas that keep a box of their treasured, hand-written, family recipes.

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Andrea of Not My Dish raided her collection of vintage teacups, saucers, and serving stands for pieces that were pink, purple, and floral. I love how the mismatched sets came together to build a beautiful tablescape. The pink and purple glassware she brought was perfect for our cocktails too. Each place setting also featured a hand-painted place card along with a tiny succulent.

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While talking about blooms and motherhood with Jenna of Craft Blooms she told me that she felt inspired to use succulents in her creations. Her thought was that succulents are enduring just like the strength and resiliency required for motherhood. We agreed that we’ve both been so fortunate to have shining examples of this from the amazing women role models in our lives.

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Tania is known for her giant paper flowers and for good reason! She can build such beautiful floral creations out of paper. We incorporated some of her smaller paper blooms into our balloon garland backdrop and I loved the results of this pairing.

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Pascal Lorange put together some of the most beautiful toast I’ve ever seen. The crostini that he prepared was wonderfully colorful and of course very tasty too. For desserts, we tried to go the more traditional tea service route. We had Pastel Bakery bake some of their old-school bakeshop goodies. The simple cake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream was a beautiful, and the cookies and fruit tarts were absolutely delicious.

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We took the opportunity to take generational portraits of our guests that they will hopefully value as precious family mementos. Even when we don’t necessarily feel like being photographed, I think it’s so important to document our families as we grow and age together.

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Cheers to all of the amazing moms out there!

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Concept and styling: a la Mo | Photography: Rachael Smith Photography | Event Location: Mint Studio | Paper Flowers: Tania Fischer Design | Calligraphy and Paper Goods: Four Things Paper | Event Rentals (Pink & Gold Chair + accessories): CC Vintage Rentals | Tablescape Rentals: Not My Dish | Cake and Sweets: Pastel Bakery | Flowers: Craft Blooms | Crostini: CRUDO by Pasal Lorange | Model: The Jessica Journey