A Simple Train Party

So my baby turned 2.  Which makes him not a baby anymore.  I thought that last birthday, but this time it is really true.Carter's Simple Train Party

Picking a theme for this year’s party was simple.  This boy loves his trains.  Big trains.  Little trains.  Real trains.  Toy trains.  TV trains.  Train Whistles.  Train Tracks.

You get the idea.

But we also wanted to keep the party low key.  All he cares about is having fun with his family.  He won’t remember how much time and money was spent making him an elaborate birthday cake.  Or how many people were there. So no going to Pinterest for ideas.  And repeating the mantra…keep it simple…keep it simple…keep it simple.

The invitation was a quick and easy find off Etsy.


Carter loved his and carried his own personal copy with him for several days.  While the making the proper “choo choo” sound effects.  I took that as his approval.

We reused the the fabric buntings from last year’s party.  Simple party tip-keep the color scheme the same and reuse all of your crap.  This kid is going to have a blue party until he is 15.

Carter's Simple Train Party

I appliqued a “2” on a blue t-shirt for the birthday boy.  In case any one was going to forget how old he was. I had not done applique before and it was quick and easy.

Carter's Simple Train Party

Well after I remembered to make a mirror image of the “2” I printed out.  Otherwise it will be backwards.  Not that that happened.

Instead of a cake, we ordered cupcakes from a friend.  And I constructed a train out of cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, and foam.  Much easier materials to work with than cake and fondant.

Carter's Simple Train Party

Carter's Simple Train Party

The table runner is made out of felt.  I bought a half yard of the blue from a craft store and cut it into a long strip.  Then I used three pieces of gray felt that you can buy in the squares to cut railroad ties.  A couple of strips of black later we had a railroad track.

Carter's Simple Train Party

My original intention was to make it no sew and just use heat n bond to attach it.  With the idea that I would just sew it later if he really wanted to play with it.

I had gotten to the third track with heat n bond when I decided that was a stupid idea.  Was there any doubt that Mr. Train would leave it alone?  Out came the sewing machine.  And it was a good decision considering this was the scene in our family room the day after the party.  He may have that at his parties until he is 15 as well.

Carter's Simple Train Party

In the background we played Carter’s favorite movie of all time.  Volume 2.  Like last year it was a compilation of pictures and video clips from his past year.  It took quite a long time to organize all the pics and put it together so this may not be a tradition every year.  But he was enthralled.  Even when there were presents to be opened.

Carter's Simple Train Party

And since most of the guests were grandparents or other family members that would be interested in watching a hour long Carter movie, we also had some as favors.  They at least pretended to want to watch it again.

For food, we had a pizza bar.  We made crusts ahead of time and everyone did their own toppings before we popped them on the grill. 

Carter's Simple Train Party

The strawberry basil margaritas were also a hit.

Overall I think he had a grand time with all his favorite people and a little bit of choo-choos thrown in.

Carter's Simple Train Party


Carter's Simple Train Party

Carter's Simple Train Party

Happy 2nd birthday Carterman!

Merry New Year

Christmas is so much more fun with a child.  Or baby.  Or toddler now I guess.  And while last year was great with him being 5 months old, this year was even better.

I am sure I will say the same thing next year.

All the planning and wrapping and shopping and cooking and decorating is worth it again to see him on Christmas loving every minute of the festivities.

Christmas 2012

We were fortunate that we did not have to travel, but we hosted two large groups of family within a couple of days of each other.  And we still have one more Christmas this weekend to go with another set of grandparents.

He is one lucky dude.

Christmas 2012

Notice how everyone else’s present pile pales in comparison. 

Christmas 2012

We saw the train exhibit on Union Station which was a huge hit.

Christmas 2012

And in typical 17 month old style resulted in a Category 4 temper tantrum when we left.  I look forward to being able to bribe him.  Because screams sound awesome in marble halls.

Christmas 2012

The card table playhouse was a success in that he went in it a couple of times.

Christmas 2012

As was the new kitchen from Santa.

Christmas 2012

But the best part was spending time with family.

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012Christmas 2012

And we even had some snow.

Christmas 2012

Not on Christmas.  But close enough.

So all in all we had a very merry Christmas and enjoyed it thoroughly.  We are blessed. I hope you all had a great holiday season and a happy new year.  Bring on 2013!

Card Table Playhouse

Every year while I am working on handmade Christmas gifts, I run into the conundrum of wanting to post all about…but knowing the recipients read the blog and could ruin the surprise.  On the other hand, posting about handmade gifts in January is no fun either.

Luckily this gift is going to someone who does not read my blog.

Because he can’t read.

card table plyayhouse

A card table playhouse for the little man.  With windows and doors and a mailbox that will include a letter from Santa.  Or he just may like opening and closing the mailbox flap 436 times.  I am going with that.

card table plyayhouse

And the best part?  When he (or his mommy) gets tired of it, it folds up in a small little bundle and you are left with a card table.  Which collapses as well.

I used a pattern from Empty Bobbin Sewing Studio which was fabulous as I could have never come up with it myself.  She has lots of other patterns as well which are in my to-do file. All the fabric is Kona solids.

I used the number of our previous house for a bit of nostalgia, which in retrospect will probably confuse him for years.  Oh well.

card table plyayhouse

It still needs a good iron and to get out of my disaster of a sewing room (there are other gifts being made you know), but that will have to wait until Christmas morning so he does not ruin the surprise.  I am planning on putting a big Lexus-esque bow on it.

I hope he loves it and spends many hours playing with it.  Since I spent many hours making it.  I am hoping it his favorite toy until he is…oh 15??  Would that be weird?

I am linking up today with The Dare to DIY party hosted by 4 great blogs-Newlywoodwards, Décor and the Dog, Maybe Matilda, and Two Twenty One.  Go check out other handmade goodies!

Christmas Card Photos

I know I know....Thanksgiving is not even here and I am talking about holiday cards.  But we are on a quest for a reduced-stress Christmas.  Which sort of sounds like a reduced fat Christmas, but assure you that will not be the case.  Even though it is probably at the top of my thighs wish list.

Anyway that means getting stuff done early.  The majority of the gifts are bought and even the handmade ones are almost done.  Maybe I won't be sewing all night Christmas Eve.  Said the queen of procrastination.

Getting a Christmas card picture was also on the to-do list.  I had grand visions of recreating some pictures I took last year.  With a cooperative and non-moving 5 month old.

So easy and cute.

This is what we have this year with a 16 month old running toddler.

Or this.

This is the best we got so far.

 I am thinking I may have to let go of the light idea.

But not having a picture has not stopped me from trying to find a card.  Since looking at all the pretty pictures on them makes my toddler photographing skills seem very inadequate.

All of these are from Minted.com.  I love all the shapes they offer and that the designs are products of independent designers.  And every time I look on their site I find another design to love. 
Now all I need is a cooperative toddler. Or someone to send a photographer to the house.

*Minted is supplying our Christmas cards this year.  All the opinions and writing are my own and I just picked some of my favorites to share with you.  But if you happen to receive a Christmas card from us, it probably won't be one of the above as there are just so many great ones to choose from.  But it could include a crying toddler on it.  Or his mommy.

I Spy Quilt

Now this quilt is not going to win a beauty contest…

I spy quiltI spy quilt

But someone is already a big fan.

I spy quilt

We can’t play “I spy” yet.  But the “eh?” game is fun.  In case you are not familiar with that one, it involves pointing to different pictures and saying “eh?”. 

I spy quilt

And if people do not tell you what it is, you keep ehhing until they do.  A little more strongly of course.

I spy quilt

Super fun.  Oh and making sure the car squares are still there is another super important daily task.

Awhile ago I participated in 2 swaps for different 5 inch novelty fabrics. I got lots of great ones and I knew whatever I made was not going to be a showpiece, but I wanted it to be as pretty as possible and tone down the busyness.  While still making it fun of course.

So ultimately I decided to do a simple pattern with Kona ash as the solid to hide the love I hope it will receive.

There is so much fun happening on the front, I decided to keep it simple on the back. 

I spy quilt

With some ABCs for some extra learning and ehhing of course.

I spy quilt

Since it was so busy, I also went with simple straight lines for the quilting.I spy quilt

I spy quilt

But my favorite part of this quilt is his insistence to look at it every day.

I spy quilt

And maybe even move beyond the ehhing game.

A Basement Playspace- In Progress

Babies come with a lot of stuff.  And toddlers add even more stuff.  And rumor has it that kids bring even more stuff.

Shocking information I know.

When we were planning our basement renovation we had kept that in mind, and the playspace there has its own corner to house a portion of that stuff.  

We wanted to make sure we made use of of the awkward space and had lots of storage.  Some open storage for him to see his toys and some closed storage to him (and guests) not to see things.  Like finger paints and crayons and markers for example.  Or possibly the book we have read 2846 times.

Originally I thought we would build something , but instead we came back to the old Closetmaid shelves that served us so well already as a craft table.  With the idea of making them look less closetmaid-esque and more custom cabinet-ish.

basement playspace in progress

So Derek started the construction.  And Carter looked like this…


And he sat in one place and played without moving much.

Anyway to make room for molding to increase the custom look, the shelves were installed off the floor and way from the wall.

basement playspace in progress

We also added some store bought cabinets around the awkward soffit to give us some closed storage.

basement playspace in progress

And then the magic happened.  Carter turned into this-


And some molding (and some toys) made it look like this-

basement playspace in progress

Disclaimer: It is impossible to take decent pictures in the basement that gets very limited light.  And this is completely unstyled.  Picked up…yes.  Made to look pretty…no.

We are only partially done.  The rug is getting a DIY treatment and things are going on the wall.  And see the track?  That is going to be curtains.  That currently look like this.

IMG_0007 (2)

Sitting under other projects.

But for right now it is functional which is all that matters.

basement playspace in progress

basement playspace in progress

basement playspace in progress

The counter is a piece wood stained to match the fireplace and then molding added to the edge.  And lots of coats of poly.

basement playspace in progress

basement playspace in progress

So I have some sewing and DIYing to do.  But we are happy how well some cheap shelves look in the space.  And maybe if I bring my sewing machine and paintbrush down there, Carter will sit in one place again and play.  Right.

A Blue Bear Party- Part 2

Now that we have all those pesky details out of the way, we are ready for the fun part of Carter’s Blue Bear 1st Birthday Extravaganza.

And what is more fun than cake smashing?

1st birthday blue bear party

Hmmm this looks…interesting.

1st birthday blue bear party

Maybe I should eat it with my face.

1st birthday blue bear party

No, I am civilized, a spoon is the only way to go  But what crap is this mom?

1st birthday blue bear party

Maybe I will just feed it to everyone else.  I am a good host.  Anyone want some partially chewed and smashed cake?

1st birthday blue bear party

I’m one…but in a sugar stupor.

1st birthday blue bear party

I do like cake!

When we got to gifts, our lack of nap started to show.

1st birthday blue bear party Especially since his extended family spoiled him rotten so there was a whole lot of opening going on.   He got so many amazing things that we had to put half them away to be brought out in a couple of months.  Good thing the basement play area is almost up and ready for fun.  He did open this bad boy from his aunt. 

1st birthday blue bear party

And rode it around the house.  He did not have the whole turning thing down though so it was much better out in the yard. Minus the fact it was 104 degrees.

1st birthday blue bear party

Yep that is what a drought and extreme heat does to your grass even when you have sprinklers.  It was a little crunchy out there, but nothing his ATV could not handle.

We finished off the day with a taste of root beer for the first time.  I get mom of the year for that one, but look on his face when he felt the bubbles was priceless.

1st birthday blue bear party

Carter has had a great year and his party was the perfect way to celebrate it.  Happy first birthday Carterman!  Now I am going to try not to cry about no longer being able to classify this post in the “baby” category…

A Blue Bear Party-Part 1

Meet Blue Bear.

Blue Bear Party

Carter’s favorite stuffed animal.  He has a basket brimming with nicer stuffed animals but he has chosen the cheap one that his daddy won him at Dave and Buster’s to be his favorite.  Go figure. And we gave him a very creative name. 

He loves Blue Bear.

Blue Bear Party

This is how he shows it.  That is a one year old’s hug right there.

So when we were talking about his first birthday party, we decided that his favorite stuffed animal would be the theme.  And it did not hurt that “blue” is an easy jumping off point.

We wanted the party to be low key but fun. And not over the top since he will not remember it.  But you are only one once.

The invitation- I ordered them from Lovely Little Party on Etsy. The picture was a whale, but she customized it with the bear.   Loved them.


Blue Bear was waiting at the door with his “1” and cake pops favors for the way out.


blue bear party

Carter’s old grass drying rack functioned well for a cake pop holder.

For the decorations, I made some fabric bunting for the dining room and the kitchen.

fabric bunting

fabric bunting


And the centerpieces continued with the “1” and marbles.IMG_9667

We loved polka dotted blue balloons and put them outside and around the house.

blue bear party

If you are ever wondering how helium balloons do in 100 degree heat…I will give you a hint-not well.

On the mantel, his month pictures were strung across with ribbon and fun foam.



I did two poses…but I lost steam after month 6.  Not going to win “Mom of the Year” with that one. So we go months 1-6 and then the 12 month photos are in the frames at the top.

We had a local baker do the cake.

blue bear party

I loved it and it was delicious.  And everyone else thought it was delicious too.  At least I think they were telling the truth.

Blue Bear was made out of a rice krispie treat.  Which is currently in our freezer and I assume waiting for the one year anniversary of his first birthday?? Not sure on the protocol for that one…

blue bear party

And of course the smash cake.

blue bear party

We also had tons of food which I did not take a picture of.  But I did snap the most important part-

blue bear party

And the cake eating throne with the hat that he would not put on his head…

blue bear party

On the TV next to the fireplace, we had a movie of his first year pictures and video clips set to music playing in the background.  I would post it here but it is really long and I know no one cares that much.  I used windows movie maker and it was super easy.  We just burned three copies on a DVD (as many as would fit) so we did not need to keep restarting it.  Grandparents also got there own copy of course to take home.  They may have even loved it more than the cake pop favors.

In the week leading up the the party we scrambled to get the basement area up and running and ready for people to be down there.


But almost everyone stayed upstairs. Except those who knew we were working on it and wanted to make me feel better.  Oh well…now I will be able to share it here and actually have space for all the new and large toys.

And all the party fun and cake smashing shenanigans will be coming up in Part 2.  Because Part 1 is already way too long.  Said the girl who wanted an low-key party.

Happy First Birthday!

Wow what a year!editsWe officially no longer have a baby.  Even though he is always going to be my baby.  Which makes today a bittersweet celebration.

It has been a very good year.  Full of lots of learning, not much sleeping at times and more love than I ever could imagine.  The baby we brought home from the hospital is a totally different little guy than the one year old who has us wrapped around his finger.  And while I thought my heart would burst with love for the newborn, it is continued to grow month by month. edits1We have had our bad days (I am looking at you molars and our brilliant idea to see if he still needed reflux meds…he does), but this summer has been almost perfect and in a lot of ways going back to work in a couple of weeks is going to be more difficult than when I started back after my maternity leave.  Because now he says “mama” and give hugs and snuggles.  And I have gotten used to categorizing everything I do into '”nap” and “with Carter” activities.   And baby babbles.  And catching some more zzzz’s every morning in our bed…which would be something that should last forever, but for the next couple of weeks it is perfect.  And did I mention snuggles?

So happy first birthday to the best little boy a mom and dad could ask for…thanks for the best year yet.

I can’t wait for the next one.