From Back-to-School to Christmas with Minted.com

Early last December I wrote a little post in which I bragged about being done with my Christmas cards.  In it begged you not to hate me for my efficiency.

This year?  Well, this year I scoff in the face of that efficiency.

Want to know why?

(You probably don't, but I'm going to tell you anyway.)

That's right.  I just finished designing my Christmas cards.  And it's not even September.

I knew it.  You hate  me.  You hate me even more than you hated Target for advertising back-to-school clothing on July 5th.  I get it.  I really do.  (And I officially give up my right to insult retail establishments for putting out their decorations too early.)

But in my defense, the only reason I'm finished is because I knew that I wanted to use a picture from the photo shoot we did with Alyssa Brule Photography back in April.  From there it was just a matter of designing the card, and for that I went with Minted.com where I found the perfect design to complement my image.

I so, so, so want to show it to you now but that would kind of defeat the purpose of getting it printed on pretty paper and mailing it out to everyone, now wouldn't it?

So instead of showing you my card, I thought I would show you some other cool stuff that I found on the Minted website—stuff I didn't realize they carry.  (Stuff that might soon become mine.)

After finishing the card I clicked over to look at their Art Marketplace.  Seriously, have you seen this?    I'd recommend it for anyone contemplating doing a gallery wall.  Here are just a few prints that I liked:

With back-to-school looming, this "Apple for the Teacher" print also caught my eye.  As a (retired) room mom, I'm always looking for good teacher gifts and I think this one would be great:

Also appropriate for back-to-school are these business cards for moms.  Initially I brushed them off as a cute idea (but one that wasn't for me).  However, the more I thought about it, the more I saw the appeal.  It would have been especially nice when the kids were little—in preschool or kindergarten—to have these at the ready when meeting other moms.  

And although I myself am not in the market for a mommy calling card, I do really need to make a business card for my blog.  I'd been fretting about designing my own but now Minted has solved that problem.  I've narrowed it down to the following and would love some input as to which one you think I should choose:

I'm leaning towards #1 or #2...

To conclude this post I'm going to take us back to where we started:  Christmas.  Did you know that Minted carries wrapping paper that you can personalize?  Here are just a few that I am crushing on:

They actually have other wrapping paper too—for birthdays, weddings, or any other occasion you can imagine.

(But you know me....  I like to get an early start on the holidays.  ;)

This post has been sponsored by Minted.com.  While I have been given product compensation, all of the ideas expressed are my own.



What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Perhaps you didn't notice, but I wasn't exactly around much this summer.  

You see, I only have five more summer vacations left with my older daughter, and while that might not sound like a big deal, I can't help but hear the clock ticking.  Five years can go by in the blink of an eye and I want to enjoy every moment of it.  

Admittedly, I could have enjoyed her and maintained my blog (more thoroughly) at the same time, but as you will see below, life got in the way.  

So here it is—in no particular order—my summer vacation (told mostly in pictures... pictures which are suspiciously lacking in me; I need to remember to get in front of the camera from time to time...)

One of the summer highlights in our family is always my younger daughter's birthday.  If you didn't read my last post (the one in which I described her candy-themed birthday party) you might want to scroll up and do that.  

If that requires too much effort, here's a Flipagram for your lazy self.  ;)

Summertime at our house also means lots of pool time.  This summer there were a few things that made pool time extra special.  For me it was this pool float which I received for mother's day.  

It was also enjoyed by lots of other people.  (Like my adorable nephew.)

And my daughter, who (for those who are wondering), is using a Lifeproof Nuud Case and Lifeproof LifeJacket float in order to take her ipad in the pool.

Lest you think this child is ridiculously spoiled, I must tell you that her uncle bought her those fancy accessories for her birthday.  He's a software engineer with fancy tastes and my kids tend to benefit as the only nieces (or nephews) on my side of the family.  Thanks, Uncle Monkey!  (<—their pet name for the generous uncle in question)

Another cool birthday present which made for tons of pool-time-fun this summer is this mermaid tail.  Have you seen these things?!  My daughter asked for it and my in-laws answered the call.  How cool is this?? 

Turns out her best friend owns one too, so it was double-the-mermaid-fun at our house...

Hopefully I loaded this video correctly so you can see them in action:

Another fun pool activity was a photoshoot in which we attempted to recreate the "hair flip" pictures that one often sees on Pinterest.  Given the number of "hair flip fails" I've seen on Facebook, I thought it would be difficult to do but it was surprisingly easy.  

The previous two pictures were taken with my Canon.  If you're wondering how to take your own, start by turning your settings to the "sports mode," or as I like to call it, "the little running guy."  Then it's just a matter of pressing the button as your subject flips her (or his) hair.  This setting enables you to capture a bunch of photos in rapid succession and, in my experience, there always seem to be one or two killer shots.  If you'd like to know more about using sports mode on your camera, click HERE.

Now if you don't own a DSLR camera, never fear.  It is also possible to capture a hair flip on the iPhone 5S using "burst mode."  To do this simply hold down the shutter button on your phone.  The result will be a "burst" of several photos all bundled into one thumbnail.  Find the word "favorites" underneath the picture and click on that to see all of the photos in the series.  You can select the best of the series and delete the rest.  The shot below was taken with the iPhone 5S and I think it is as good as the ones taken with the Canon.  (If you'd like more information about burst mode, click HERE.)

Though it might be hard to believe, this summer we had almost as as much fun in the salt water as we did in the chlorinated water.

This included a week at surf camp (one of the many perks of living in San Diego)...

...and a trip to La Jolla Shores to snorkel with Leopard Sharks.  

Photo taken with Dandy Case for the iPhone,

From the beach we head inland to an amazing camp attended by my younger daughter.  It's called Art Farm and as the name suggests it's a place where children alternate between making art and interacting with animals.  Here are some examples of the art...

...and the farm...

Although there were many, many more highlights during the summer of 2014 (like the Mexico trip which you can read about HERE), it's probably time to wrap this bad boy up.  

As great as the summer was, I am looking forward to doing some more regular blogging this fall and I hope you stop back to check it out.

Adios summer of 2014!  It's been swell.



Hosting a Candy Themed Birthday Party

Alternate Title: How to win (small) friends (and make their mothers hate you). 

This past Sunday we hosted my daughter's tenth birthday party.

She asked for a "candy theme"...

...which in this age of no carbs-no sugar-no artificial colors-no high fructose corn syrup-etc. is a surefire way to charm small guests... and horrify their parents.  

But once you get past the idea of being ostracized in the school drop off line, hosting a candy themed party can be really fun!

If you're a regular reader, you already know about these fun lollipop decorations.  

But I needed more ideas so naturally I turned to Pinterest.  It was there that I found these cute paper plate "candies."    (Original source found HERE.)

I also found this great idea for wrapping the cutlery in candy bracelets—which really inspired the kids to use their forks and napkins!  (Original source HERE.)

But adding lollipops to the cupcakes was my idea.

As was using sparklers in lieu of candles.

Dumping the candy from the candy buffet all over the cupcakes was the kids' idea.

And for the first time since THIS POST back in March of 2012 I made a punch box.  (Follow that link for detailed instructions on how to make your own.)

It was also my idea to give out bubblegum as party favors.

But this blogger inspired the addition of toothbrushes—a half-hearted attempt to win back some of my adult friends.

I'll let you know how I'm treated in the drop-off line after school starts next week!

I'd like to thank Birthday Express for reaching out and awarding me a "Best Birthday Badge" for this post.  It's nice to get recognition from people in the party industry.  Thanks!

photo BestBirthday_zpsa6c2c38a.png

In addition, I am thrilled that my fellow Wayfair Homemaker, Third Stop on the Right, chose to feature my party in her round up of kids' birthday party ideas.  Thanks, Rachel!

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