glow’s shapes birthday party

October 19, 2017

Last year, Glow requested a “shapes” themed 6th birthday as soon as her 5th birthday was over. I had no clue what I was going to do, other than make lots of shapes. Eventually, the idea came together after my BFF showed me this book (we ordered it and gave it to her as part of her birthday presents). As you know, if you’ve been reading here awhile, we like to go on vacation for birthdays. Thus, this celebration was pulled off in our hotel room and it was shapes everything… homemade shapes dress, shapes cake topper, shapes wrapped gifts, and shapes background, exactly what this birthday girl wanted. 

The backdrop was made at home, on large drawing paper, and I taped it up over our headboard. Birthday cake was homemade and assembled in the hotel room. By the way, I used a Trader Joe’s boxed vanilla cake mix, and doctored it up with lavender infused milk, along with lavender frosting, and it came out so delicious! For her birthday meal, she requested shrimp (she loves shrimp) and even that was prepared at home (made this recipe), and put together in the hotel room. Thankfully, there was a microwave, which I knew prior to coming. The sisters made her all sorts of shapes-themed birthday gifts, and after we sang “Happy Birthday” and were all feasting on cake, Ben read us Triangle. She was filled with giddy at all the shapes and surprises, and Ben and I are always so happy to be able to fulfill birthday wishes.

She’s been 6 for about a month now, and I have yet to hear what she wants for next year, but I’m sure her birthday theme request will be coming soon. Once she gets an idea in her head, it sticks and rarely ever changes. 

a very harry potter birthday

October 9, 2017

Moving into double digits is a big deal and we celebrated Brave’s 10th year with a full day of 10 Harry Potter activities. Of course, we started with the traditional breakfast in bed and she had a letter delivered to her by an owl. The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry made an exception for Brave since she’s only 10. Along with her letter, she received a handmade wizard robe and Harry Potter-esque glasses, which she pretty much wears all the time (glasses purchased here).

For the next activity, she had first had to discover what type of wand would be suitable for her, so we set her up on Pottermore to find out . Then, she was whisked off to Olivander’s Wand Workshop to make her wizard wand a reality. Using 18″ chopsticks and various bits and bobbles (basically, beads, glue stick, and paint), the girls each created their own wizarding wand.

Then, it was off to Platform 3/4 to head back to Hogwarts!

The brick wall was made with red and brown cardstock paper, cut into rectangular pieces and taped onto a string (with an empty brick space between each brick). Then, we hung it from the ceiling and alternated the spacing of the brings to create the brick wall. The girls loved walking through it. Actually, it’s still hanging up in our house.

Once at Hogwarts, she put on the sorting hat to get sorted into her house, which was done via Pottermore. The final verdict… House of Gryffindor! Just like she hoped. Then, we ordered her this patch (and I later sewed it onto her wizard robe).

While she was getting sorted, I was running around like crazy downstairs transforming the wand workshop into the next part of the celebration.

Due to all this wizarding, the little wizards were bound to get hungry, so they stuffed themselves silly at the Great Hall Feast. They were served my-own version of “shepherd’s pie” (we called it Italian shepherd’s pie), caulderon cakes (brownie bites with green icing and sprinkles), butter beer (butterscotch soda and vanilla ice cream), licorice, Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans (oh they had fun with this one), and loads of other sweet treats.

After lunch, the birthday girl was given her own broom (and one for all her sisters) and they all indulged in a round a quidditch.

After all that running around, the girls headed off to “Transformations and Potions” class, which probably should be called bartending school for mini wizards. They all took turns creating concoctions for one another, and giggling as the watched the recipient of the potion drink it.

Unfortunately, class was interrupted by Voldemort, and he was after Brave. Thankfully, with her cleverness and wizardry skills she was able to stop him. Yippee! Thus, the celebration continued…

Hagrid came and delivered her birthday cake, albeit, a little smashed. Nevertheless, she loved it and so did her sisters!

The rest of the evening was spent with the whole family cuddled in bed watching the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Whew! Needless to say, she was one happy 10 year old!

Believe it or not, Ben and I put this whole thing together in just one day. I have no Harry Potter knowledge whatsoever, so I tapped into the minds of all the Harry Potter fans I know. Ben’s cousin had given the girls their first Harry Potter book a year ago and Brave has been hooked ever since (True thinks it’s creepy, so she’s not into it). Originally, we were supposed to go out of town for her birthday, but that changed last minute, so Ben and I were scrambling on what to do to celebrate this new year. This idea popped in 2 nights before her actual birthday, so the day prior Ben and I divided up the to-do list to tackle it. We were both running errands, making stuff, and cooking/baking in preparation. Our whole kitchen and family room became the staging area and it was quite a busy day to pull this off. Also, thankfully retail stores have holiday things way ahead of time, so Michaels had so many props that helped bring this wizard vision to life. Oh, my feet were aching by the end of the afternoon. As crazy as it was, her smile makes it all worth it. She was beaming all day because she said she really felt like it was all so real.

It is one really long post, filled with lots of stuff, so it took awhile to sort through it all to share here. I wish I had a wand or potion that could have helped pull it all together. Hope you enjoyed reading all about how we celebrated our Harry Potter lover!

Beyoncé inspired baby shower

September 28, 2017

Finally, at long last, my girls are getting their first official cousin. My sister, Reinna, is expecting a little boy and her request was a “Beyoncé” themed baby shower. So when life hanods that request, you make lemonade! Inspired by Beyonce’s recent music and visual album, we created a celebration fit for a queen (Reinna means queen).

My job was decor and it was on a beautiful roof top, so not too much was needed. I used bunting that I had sewn for my best friend’s wedding several years ago and the centerpiece of the decor was the lemonade piñata (tutorial via oh happy day here). My baby sister and friend made the protest signs, which were a fun touch. To get that extra Beyoncé-esque vibe, I made a floral crown remiscent of that surprise baby announcement that was dropped by the queen B herself. Naturally, my girls got in on the creating too and they made the lemon adorned wrapping paper. I love how that turned out and I think for Christmas, I’ll be having them draw on all the wrapping paper! Add some music by Beyoncé and Solange and the celebration was exactly was this mom-to-be wanted.

a little teaser

September 27, 2017

I was trying real hard to get a post together about the Harry Potter celebration we threw for Brave’s birthday in August (!), but time just wasn’t on my side and I was running out of it this week. I’m off to Texas for Pinners Conference, so sharing about what we made and did for her birthday will have to wait until next week. Until then, the photo above is a little teaser.

12 for 12 anniversary celebration

July 10, 2017

It is such a blessing to celebrate 12 years of God’s faithfulness in 12 years of marriage. Ben and I are so similar, so for the most part, we are on the same page on most things. From time to time though, things do get rough, and we most certainly have spats or full blown fights. In fact, we had a spat on Friday night just as we kicked off our anniversary weekend. We treasure the covenant we are both in, and Christ redeeming and saving us both, along with accountability and transparency with our church family, are the keys for the healthy growth of our marriage and family for the gospel.

To celebrate, we decided to do a staycation (the little ones spent the weekend with my parents) and we did 12 (some silly and random) things we’ve never done before to commemorate the occasion. We probably spent most of the time in the car driving from place to place, but as cheesy as it sounds, I just loved being together.

1. We tried a new restaurant together, which was Miyabi Uni in Torrance. The pasta was bomb and I’m definitely going to figure out a way to recreate that dish at home.
2. We drove the whole length of Ortega Highway. Hate those windy two lane highways, but we love the scenic views and dried California native plants scattered all along the hills.
3. The drive spit out us onto Lake Elsinore, and though we’ve passed it many times before, this is first time we actually go to the lake.
4. While this is certainly not the first time we’ve had A la Minute, it is our first time visiting their newest location in Temecula at Vail Headquarters. It is also the first time we ordered orange honey ice cream.
5. After dessert, we did things backwards and headed to a ceviche bar, Mariscos el Guero, for dinner. This is my new favorite place, and I’ve been here twice prior with friends, but this is our first time together. I knew Ben would love this place!
6. Sunday morning, we visited New City Church in San Diego. This was our first time visiting a SOMA church (they focus on missional communities) and we were so encouraged by the message. I loved hearing their congregational singing and what missional communities look like in their church. Right after service, we ate our packed lunched in our car.
7. One of the things I looked forward to most was getting our portraits taken with tintype photographer Catherine Segura. Ben and I both enjoyed learning (and watching) the process of wet plate photography, it was especially sweet to see the passion this father-daughter duo has for this classic photography process. It looks so old school and semi-creepy, but the results of this antique process is so beautiful. We can’t wait to go back and get a whole family portrait done. I highly recommend paying Catherine a visit if you find yourself in San Diego over the weekend.
8. Another new to us thing is thrifting in San Diego! I didn’t find much, but this vintage wire trash can. One really good thing definitely feels like a win!
9. Another first is trying African food from Flavors of East Africa. We were especially fond of the spices used to flavor the lentils and chicken. Ben also wants me to figure out how to make their collard green and cabbage vegetable dish at home.
10. We felt silly, but it was fun… we went to a local playground and swung on the swings together. I think the kids and parents around us were trying to figure out what we were doing.
11. Another favorite of the weekend… makeout in a photobooth. We were definitely giggling while we kissed because there was a camera on the outside of the booth for nearby onlookers to view what was going on in the inside.
12. Lastly, we did a marriage questionnaire to help build up our marriage.

Between all the fun, the weekend was spent evaluating areas our marriage and parenting needed improvement, asking each other where we are lacking, and discussing ways to help continue grow our marriage and family towards Christlikeness. We were definitely celebrating to remember the goodness of God in our lives and the abounding grace we’ve been given. Our marriage and family runs on the strength and grace given from God. And those times we try to do it on our own, things totally flop. Every day and every year, is a gift from God to be treasured and used to gospelize each other and the communities God has placed us in.

I’m very thankful for Ben and I love him more now than on our wedding day. Our love grows deeper, wider, and higher as time passes (and we have plenty of fights too!). We can dive into our marriage deeply because we know Christ’s love for us and that pours out in our love for each other. There’s lots of love and forgiveness that happen every single day. Happy 12 Benny B! 

donut themed papi party

June 13, 2017

We  celebrated Father’s Day early because our big girls are in Texas and won’t be here during the designated celebration day (we did it early last year too, see here). This year, we did a donut themed surprise for Ben. Now, he doesn’t really like traditional donuts (remember, he’s a dietitian), and the only donuts he would ever put in his stomach are sushi donuts! The girls cut out letters to form our message and I created the sushi donuts. It’s always team effort around here.

To surprise him, we called him upstairs when we were ready, he walked in the room and saw the message, then we all yelled, “We love you veryyyyyy much!” We spent the rest of the evening hanging out together and eating our sushi donuts. Of course, the girls also showered him with lots of handmade cards and gifts. It was a simple, but unique way to celebrate this simple, but especially unique father.

I used this donut pan to create my sushi donuts, and I want to try another batch because after doing it once, I have a better idea of how to get everything into that donut shape. Once, I get it just right, I will share the recipe here. We went to sleep with the message over our head, and when we woke up, the remaining letters looked like a round of wheel of fortune. Father’s Day is coming up on Sunday! What are your plans? If you have a man who loves Star Wars, maybe this idea we did a few years ago will inspire you.


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