Category Archives: Uncategorized

Is she six already?

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Hello Six!  She took ballet. She took tap lessons. She loved to dance. We would put on music and she would choreograph her own dance and perform for us.  She loved to sing. She would memorize the lyrics of a song and belt it out at the top of her lungs. She loved to dress up in costumes. She would go all out for any dress days at school or even dress up at home.  She loved stories. Thanks to her Papa being willing to tell stories over Skype about Princess Isabella and Mr. Monkey.  Who knew this would be the beginning of a love for all things creative?

 

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Five years old

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I’ll never forget when I was pregnant with Isabella and we lived by this elementary school. It was the first day of school and I watched the five year old children with new backpacks walk into their first day of kindergarten. I was undone. I had tears running down my face simply thinking about that milestone in my unborn daughter’s life.

Five years later, I walked her to class on the first day of Kindergarten and I sucked in all the emotion and put on a smile until I got to the car and I cried my eyes out.

It’s now hard to believe that it’s only eight years until she will be graduating high school. A good friend of mine who currently has a senior in high school now offered me this  beautiful advice to truly enjoy and drink in every moment. I have to keep that in mind when I’m going through a tough parenting situation and not try to rush through everything without taking it in.

Three

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Three is when you first went to preschool. You were beyond excited to get your big girl bed. You had discovered a deep love for cupcakes. You would sing songs like “What’s the Weather” and “Twinkle, Twinkle.” You loved to play at the park.  Anytime we went to some place that had a water table you loved to stick your hands in and play.  You were into playing with characters.  You had a Mickey Mouse clubhouse set, a Cars set and a Nemo set.  You would pick up a character and create a world around you. What fun it was to be three.

It was the year that you had a few intense sicknesses. I remember our first visit to the emergency room. You had some sort of croup and couldn’t breathe. The ride over in the car was enough for you to be able to breathe again. The ER doctor explained that getting in the cold air upright was a good way to help you out.  It taught me a lesson as a mom to understand how to watch your symptoms and not freak out at every little thing.

Year One

 

one_instagramYour first year was exciting to say the least. We planned a party at a park club house  with all your friends in Washington. I will never forget when you took your first steps at your cousin’s house while the Nutcracker played in the background. From the beginning, you loved to talk even if it was making sounds and eventually words. You loved to explore and spend as much time as possible with your cousins. One was a very good year.

Did someone say Holiday Cookie Exchange?

Recently, my family caught me by surprise and flew me up to Seattle for our annual tradition titled Cookie Baking Extravaganza.  Six women in our family get together with various recipes and bake for nine hours straight.  We produce dozens of cookies and holiday treats that cover three 8ft tables.   It is spectacular!  Not to mention,  a perfect set up for a holiday cookie exchange party.

GET YOUR COOKIE PARTY ON!

The holidays are here with the weather shifting and the leaves quickly moving through complimenting hues. The time has come to light the fire, froth a steaming cup of hot chocolate, curl up on the couch and peruse through your baking cookbook to find the perfect cookie.

It is time to get your game face on and discover the masterpiece that will wow your friends at the next holiday cookie party exchange. Simply put, if you have no cookie exchange parties on your horizon then you need to host one. The benefits outweigh the effort you are about to make. Number one: you will have many baked goods to choose from to pass on to your neighbors, boss, coworkers, hairdressers, teachers, garbage men, mail men and don’t forget your favorite barista. Number two: a fun project will keep you from the blue mood of winter. Number three: you will have endless amounts of sweets to keep you laughing and motivate you to attend the gym an extra day a week. Overall: it creates ample opportunities to create community and get you out of your comfort zone.

So, how do you host a Holiday Cookie Exchange party?

GUEST LIST

Start with your guest list. You can base it on the size of the location, the number of cookies that you want to receive or how many friends you have. Whatever the reason, take out your handy pen and write down a list of names that you would like to invite and make them bake delicious holiday treats.

INVITATION

This part is very important. Unlike normal invitations that merely state the date, time and location, this invitation will include very specific instructions. You will need to include the number of treats that they need to bring. The next part is where you can get creative. Adding a creative component to the party helps people let down their guard, open up and express themselves. Last year, we hosted a cookie exchange based on two primary directives. One being that the cookies had to be beautifully packaged and secondly each attendee had to come wearing their apron. These two creative challenges took the party to a whole new level. Not only did it involve creative brainstorming, but it added a hint of fun competition with a nice prize for the two winners. Here is an invitation sample.

COOKIE IDEAS

Is your mouth watering yet? These are Red Velvet Cake Balls from bakerella.com. These yummy treats are delicious. Here is the recipe from Bakerella to create this yummalicious treats.  You can take it a step further and make Christmas cake pops.

Aren’t these reindeer cute? Make sure you carve out some time to create these delightful treats. Here is the recipe.

Martha Stewart always has some delightful recipes to choose from.

The EXCHANGE

Recently, I found this amazing Holiday Cookie exchange template from thebusybudgetingmomma.com. For 25.00, you can receive the following:

THIS PACKAGE INCLUDES

  • 2 Cookie Ballots on a 8.5×11 PDF
  • 4 Blank…3.5″x4.5″ Tented Cards (4 different styles) on a 8.5×11 PDF(added fee for numbered tented cards…contact for details.)
  • 4 Award Tags on 2, 8.5×11 PDF’s
  • 10 Pencil Flags on a 8.5×11 PDF
  • 6 Favor Gift Tags on a 8.5×11 PDF

:::CUSTOMIZE YOUR ORDER:::

  1. Customize the date
  2. Customize the message! (example: “Happy Valentines’ Day!”….”Happy New Year!” instead of “Merry Christmas
  3. Customize the colors. choose 2.

The Busy Budgeting mama created this design set and it is available on Etsy.

DON’T FORGET THE FAVORS

Put together a little party gift for your guests. It could be a simple cookie cutter, a beautiful cookie or mocha mix in a mason jar. I also liked what the busy budgeting momma offered as a suggestion which is pictured above.

Are you inspired yet to discover your cookie, put on your apron, toss flour everywhere in your kitchen and bake a million cookies? If so, please let me know what cookie or holiday treat that you would choose to bring to the cookie exchange? Or better yet revisit this post after your party and tell us how it went. Happy Baking!

In case you didn’t know….

In case you did not know already, I started another blog with my husband Parker titled  inspiredstar.wordpress.com.    It highlights five different fun categories  INSPIREDgenerosity, INSPIREDmarketing, INSPIREDparties, INSPIREDromance and INSPIREDthoughts.

INSPIREDgenerosity – here you will find inspiring stories of how people went beyond themselves, gave to others and how you can participate.  Click here to  read about TOMS social business model that directly relates to giving back.

 

INSPIREDmarketing – here you will find fresh ideas and examples on brand and product communication.   Click here to read about how Steve Jobs thought different.  In his own words, “I want to put a ding in the universe.” Steve Jobs.

 

INSPIREDparties – here you will find thoughts on life’s celebrations.  Click here to read about how to host your own tea party.

 

INSPIREDromance – here you will find motivating musings for romantic moments.  Click here to read about being twitterpated.

 

INSPIREDthoughts – here you will find general thoughts of inspiration from esoteric daydreams to concrete commerce.  Click here to read about Kate, an inspiring story about seeing a dream go from an idea to reality.

Our hope is that you will be inspired and have a lot of fun reading it.  Enjoy!

 

 

The happiest place on earth

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The last vacation of the summer.  Sigh!  How in the world did those sunny days fly by so quickly?  I am not sure, but it is important to say good-bye to this season in a proper, celebratory way.   What a better way than taking a road trip to see my parents en route to Disneyland?   First, we had to make a pit stop at In and Out Burger.   If you have never been there please don’t forget to order off the secret menu.   I ordered the “animal style” version for my hamburger.  I should have included the fries as well, but I was attempting at being relatively good to start off  my vacation.

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The drive down highway 101 was amazing.   Harvest being just around the corner showed off the plump vineyards, beautiful yellow fields and thick, rich green scenery  which gave the ultimate eye candy on the drive down.  After a night at my parents, we set out for Los Angeles.  My favorite part of the drive is from Santa Barbara to Carpenteria.  It has stunning views of the oceans and of course the signature palm trees.

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We stayed at a hotel just across from the park so we were able to enjoy the evening fireworks in full color.   This was a perfect replacement for the fourth of July because  we were quite a distance away from the fireworks and it wasn’t the same  so this made up for it.  Disney style that is…

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This marks the day that I became an official annual, card-carrying member of the happiest place on earth.   Now, Isabella and I have access to Disneyland often.  So if you are ever headed down there give us a call and we may be able to join you!

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Isabella is a Disneyland veteran. Thanks to her Papa and Nana.  This has been their bonding place since my parents moved away five years ago.  I remember when she first went to Disneyland.   My dad said that she didn’t care about the land of Disney and  seemed content to look at her shoes as she walked around the park.   That is until she saw her first parade…

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Hello sistas!  These are my girlfriends for life.   Shelly is on the left and Abi is on the right.  Can you tell we are related?  We have a few similarities thanks to my dad.

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Many of you may have wondered where Isabella has gotten her blue eyes and blonde hair because both Parker and I have dark hair and dark eyes?  Well, thanks to my mom and Parker’s mom who are both blonde hair and blue-eyed ladies they snuck their DNA in and claimed their granddaughter.   When we originally decided to name Isabella,  I had this image of a dark-eyed, dark-haired, olive-skinned little girl.  Much to my surprise my Isabella turned out to be quite the opposite which is perfect for Tinkerbell.

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We waited an hour to finally meet this long-tressed princess.

Isabella was overjoyed.  Part of their conversation went like this.

Rapunzel: What do you like to play with?

Isabella: I like to play Angry Birds with my daddy.

Rapunzel:Why are the birds so angry?

Isabella: Because the stinky pigs stole their golden eggs.

Yep.  That was funny!

The saddest part of the day is when you have to leave.  But there is and always will be a next time.

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