Sunday, May 31, 2015

I am breaking up with you, Hallmark

There is something about old fashioned pen and paper that I just plain love. I love the feeling of laying out a fresh sheet of quality stationary and a good pen, ready to drink some hot tea as I splash some sentimental feelings across the page to a faraway friend. I imagine classical music playing in the background, and I most definitely include raindrops splattering against the window in this mental picture.

And then I remember that I live in Las Vegas, and raindrops only splash against the window pane during monsoon season, and actually its less of a delicate splash and more of a torrential, frightening flash flood-type rain that pounds against the windows.

My point is that I was looking through this website called Minted, and I was dreaming of beautiful stationary. And boy, did I find it. Like this adorable personalized note card.

And something I had not seen before  - this incredibly sweet children's stationary!

Personalized children's stationary

 Once I started going down the rabbit hole of awesomeness, I could not stop!!!

And the funny thing is that as I continued to explore, I discovered something really interesting. Minted has a lot more than just lovely rainy day stationary with whimsical designs. They are an entire marketplace of artistic expression. Apparently, they run design competitions for independent artists and the winner gets their design or art piece sold on their website. I can totally get on board with supporting independent artists. I found this art piece called Arise, by an artist named Kelly Johnson. I don't know what it is about this painting, but I can't stop staring at it. You can see the rest of their art collection here.

And then I found all these customizable art pieces in the shape of the different states. I am already thinking about getting one of these for a friend who is moving out of town.

Nevada Love

And thennnnn, as if it weren't enough that they support independent artists, check this out.... they also donate money from their sales to a charity called Every Mother Counts, which helps proved maternal care to pregnant mothers who do not have access to medical care. As a mother of 4, I know first hand how important it is to have good prenatal and obstetrics care. This particular detail just made me go all soft on Minted.

Hallmark, I am so sorry, but.... I have to break up with you... I met someone else.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Little Prince Birthday Party

This past week was my son PJ's first birthday. In the interest of the public good, I am posting the party details so that if some hapless parent comes along and needs easy ideas for a Little Prince theme, they will stumble upon this blog and be able to use the ideas.

I was that parent a couple weeks ago, and although I went on Pinterest and searched online I only found complex and fancy party ideas that were way out of my league in terms of both time and money.

Here is the bare minimum Little Prince party ideas you can do without too much effort. You'll need a color printer, card stock, blue butcher paper, and a budget of about $50 (less if you have some of these supplies on hand).

 First, decorate an entry way or other staging area with a giant themed sign. Voila!


 I used blue wrapping paper because I couldn't find the right shade of butcher paper. The words are Grand Hotel font, and you just use Word or Pages to write out what you want it to say. Then either print on a color printer or be smarter than me and print on yellow cardstock (I wasted a lot of ink because I wasn't thinking straight). Cut out the letters and mount to the blue paper using double sided photo tape. The image of the Little Prince in the center was actually 3 different pieces of paper that I lined up and stuck together to make an image bigger than the 8 1/2 x 11 constraints of my printer.

We all took pictures with the birthday boy by the sign.

If you buy a dark blue plastic tablecloth and pair it with gold or yellow paper plates, napkins and cups, its easy to inexpensively tie the theme in just by using these colors.

The only other decorative element I used was several roses that were placed in little glass jars. You can use mason jars, or basically any glass or ceramic jar. I then created the decoration for the jars in Pages (make a text box, add a dark blue fill and drag and drop the images you find online into the text box to create this. Add star shapes with a gold or yellow fill or drag and drop an image of a star you find online). I printed it out on a color printer and used that handy double sided photo tape to stick the images on the jars. One side of the jar had the image, and the other side had a quote about the little prince's flower. It might look prettier to use one whole strip and wrap around the jar, but that takes more time to make it the exact right length and I didn't want to spend a lot of time on this. So using two squares will save time but may look less polished.




 For the cake, well... all the cakes I saw online were gorgeous and undoubtedly very expensive. I saw asteroid shaped cakes and just all kinds of neat ideas. But I was not going to shell out $100+ just for cake.

So, using a store bought mix and frosting (to which I added blue food dye) I made the cake and decorated with fruit rollup cutouts.

The stars were made with a multi-sized cookie cutter, the asteroid was a round cookie cutter and the little prince is cut out free hand. I reserved a little of the white frosting and added food dye to make the skin color, and piped on the arms and face. I free handed his hair.

Sure, its obviously a hack job. But you have to work with what you have, and in this case I had to work with what I didn't have: time, money, and cake decorating abilities, ha!


For the party favor, I made bookmarks using Pages. Again, a text box with a dark blue fill and a lot of dragging and dropping images. Then I printed them out and laminated. If you don't have a laminating machine you can get them laminated at Staples or Office Depot. It will cost you a little more money, but not as much as if you have to go and purchase a laminating machine.

On the back of the bookmarks I added quotes from the book, also dark blue with little gold stars scattered on it.


And there you go. Easy and basic, but still very festive. Feel free to Pin!

Happy birthday, PJ!

Friday, January 23, 2015

How to Shop at Costco - Part 2

Hello, my name is Andrea, and I am an official card-carrying member of Costco. There, I said it.

I tried to resist Costco, but I have failed. So here I am. I am ready to do this.

I say ready, but what I really mean is angry.

I prepare myself as best I can, with my most comfortable walking shoes, hair pulled back into a practical ponytail, and a grocery list. Although I do not have a picture of my face as I entered the dreaded Costco warehouse entrance, I can leave it to the better artists of the world to fully express my sentiments as I arrived.

Yup, that just about sums it up.

I only had to take PJ with me since Phillip had taken the girls to ballet, and fortunately he was in a great mood. But the downside was that I lost my grocery list five minutes in. Since it had only been five minutes, I hopefully went back and retraced my steps. But there was absolutely no sign of it.

So now I am just winging it. Even though growing up I used to go with my mom, I wasn't really paying attention since I was busy being a bored teenager. The only thing I ever noticed at the time was the annoying crowds and industrial sized box of Snickers bars. Only one of which I was ok with.

I aimlessly wandered the enormous aisles, trying to mentally reconstruct the list that had taken me a week to put together. It was easy to get distracted by all the stuff they had. There was a lot I needed to stare at.  Starting with the popcorn. Never in my life have I seen such a huge bag of popcorn. It was bigger than my child. Don't believe me? I have proof.

Even though I had only bought a few items, my cart was heavy and full. Not full of Jurassic popcorn, I actually put that back. This was purely a photo op situation.

So, let me give you the blow by blow details of the actual shopping experience.

See, unlike my sister I will have mercy on you and spare you the Costco experience.

In summary: Three hours later, I was done shopping. And I was exhausted. After all, I had done a lot of physical activity.

So now I have my membership for a whole year. How frequently must I do this? The Costco lovers of the world insist if I shop there I have to go less frequently for groceries. So, by that account I only have to go one, maybe two more times this year. Right???

Granted, they also insist that if I just give it a chance I will love it. I say they are wrong on both counts.

What about you? Are you a Costco lover? Or a Costco hater?